Remote Control Film Night 14

Leamington Underground Cinema presents another free online film night that you can enjoy from absolutely everywhere, except perhaps some of those scary countries with mad dictators like North Korea and America.

On the evening of Thursday 19th October we will be curating a selection of the finest, strangest and most entertaining short film entertainment from around the internet. There may also be a creative challenge or two to get invoved in…

The fun will begin at 7.30pm GMT, please ensure you’ve been to the toilet before we start and remain at least 5% above horizontal throughout – it is for your own safety.

You can join in in on the Leamington Underground Cinema Facebook page or by following our twitter feed at www.twitter.com/LeamUCinema.

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The Ten Greatest Failures in Adapting Movies into Video Games

NOTE: This article first appeared in issue 3 of LUC’s randomly periodical journal of film, Underclass.

The relationship between video games and movies has never been a particularly happy one. For every successful adaptation of a beloved film into pixel form, there are dozens of absolutely wretched examples. Some fail so profoundly, that even the most ardent gamers are probably not aware that they ever existed. Here are the ten most appalling efforts that our crack team of researchers could find…

One – Watership Down (1979)
watership downCreated by a little known arcade machine company, Happy Player Inc., this simple vector game seemed only tangentially connected to the novel and movie of the same name. The player was tasked with using a rollerball controller to aim and shoot at crowds of rabbits that moved across the screen at increasing speed.

As no legal rights rights had been sought or secured to licence the Watership Down name, the developers quickly found themselves on the wrong end of all manner of legal action. The game was hastily re-badged and the few units that found their way to the US were adorned with the title ‘Heroic Pest Saga’.

Two – Gandhi (1982)
atari gandhi 800pxMany know about the infamous failure of the ET Atari game that ended up with thousands of copies buried in the desert. Less well known is the other Atari project based on a 1982 blockbuster film. After a catastrophic press preview ‘Gandhi’ was never released and never mentioned again.

The few scraps of information that leaked out detailed two different levels, firstly a scene set on a beach where the player has to collect piles of salt while avoiding British soldiers. Then secondly, a level which involved running along the top of a train, jumping over bridges. One of the journalists that actually experienced the game remarked many years later that it was ‘Thematically troubling, even by 1982 standards’.

Three – Kramer vs Kramer (1984)
kramer vs kramer box art.pngAs Atari went through all manner of commercial troubles, one division hit upon the idea of creating interactive entertainment for a more mature and sophisticated audience. To this end, they licensed a whole bunch of classic novels and serious, oscar-winning movies to somehow be developed into games, including a console version of Robert Benton’s 1979 weepy divorce drama.

Perhaps inevitably, what seemed like a clever marketing gambit floundered when the development arm of Atari struggled to come up with a game that would stay true to the source material and appeal to grown up gamers. The project was quickly cancelled and resources channelled towards the more commercially secure Pitfall 2.

All that remains in the public domain is the incredibly incongruous draft box art.

Four – F For Fake (1985)
The uk home computer explosion of the 80’s provided fertile ground for developers to experiment with new types of games and interactive experiences. None more so than Stafford based Singular Systems whose output for the ZX Spectrum consistently tested the boundaries of what could be considered a ‘game’. Following the surprise success of their highly politicised platform game satire ‘Manically Depressed Miner’, SS ploughed the profits into a highly ambitious multi-media project based on Orson Welles’ 1974 tricksy documentary.

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Due to packaging and pricing issues, retailers refused to stock the game, which came on three individual cassettes and also included a VCR tape which included specially shot footage and voice recordings of Welles designed to be played on a separate screen as part of the overall experience.

Costing an unprecedented £25 and requiring two TV’s and an addition VCR player – the game sold in miniscule numbers. Reviews reported that it took the form of a number of individual games themed around art forgery and a number of Welles unmade film projects. Each level had to be loaded individually and played through according to exacting timings to fit in with the VCR elements. Your Sinclair described it as ‘unplayable and confusing’, while Crash magazine refused to review it on the basis that they didn’t ‘consider it to be a game in any way at all’.

Five – Wings Of The Apache (1990)
cage wings of the apache.jpgA vertically scrolling shoot ‘em up arcade machine to tie in with the release of the Nicolas Cage helicopter movie. Legendary for the huge ‘sit-in’ cabinet with working plastic rotor blades on top and heavy use of Cage’s digitised image and voice, most notably yelling “I AM THE GREATEST”, at the completion of each level. Unfortunately, the failure of the film to perform at the box office led to few orders. Coupled with the high cost of manufacture, only a few units ever reached the arcades and none are currently known to be in working order.

Six – Boxing Helena (1993)
FlyFire studios of California had spent 6 months building a state of the art (by early 1990s standards) digital model of Kim Basinger as the basis of their innovative adaptation of Jennifer Lynch’s debut feature.

The game was based around a complex conversation based mechanic in which the player (as Helena) tried to explore the tortured psyche of the surgeon Nick Cavanaugh in order to stop him cutting more bits off you.

Groundbreaking for both its approach and the use of a female protagonist, the game suffered a similar fate to the movie when Basinger controversially left the project. While the producers of the film eventually recouped millions from Basinger in court, the game developers couldn’t afford any type of litigation. Desperate to recoup their extensive development costs without too much further expense FlyFire quickly knocked up a bog-standard platform game in which Helena has to collect golden coins while dodging flying surgical equipment. Somehow it managed to get worse reviews than the film. It sold 84 copies.

Seven – Falling Down (1994)
Falling DownAlthough you can question of taste of turning the ‘Michael Douglas going postal’ movie into a light-gun shooting game – this title was actually well received by the gaming press at the time. Reviewers praised the intensity of the experience and noted that the game left the player questioning their morals and actions.

The game was developed exclusively for the 3DO console, to help show off its (at the time) ground-breaking full motion video capabilities and featured extra footage shot by Joel Schumacher. The hugely expensive console tanked in the hugely competitive mid-90s game market and was discontinued in 1995. Very few people ever got to play the game and the costs of porting it to the forthcoming Sony Playstation were deemed prohibitive. Rumour has it that Michael Douglas maintains a working 3DO and wheels the game out to entertain guests at at parties.

Eight – Pearl Harbor (2001)
California’s PinPoint Games were confident of a delivering a major hit with their adaptation of the infamous film about the day of infamy. They’d tied up a deal for the game rights and secured use of the prototype Unreal Engine v2 to help them build a spectacular 3D blockbuster war game.
During early design discussions, it transpired that although they had a licence for the film, they didn’t have the rights to use the likenesses, character names, voices or performances of any of the main cast characters – with the exception of Kate Beckinsale’s Nurse Johnson.

A number of proposals and prototypes were put together before the project was eventually cancelled and the costs written off. The most intriguing of which was what can only be described a first person ‘inject ‘em up’ in which you, as Nurse Johnson have to run around a hospital ward injecting wounded soldiers with the right medicine.

Which, to be honest, would probably have been better than the film.

Nine – Battle Royale 2 (2003)
Small time Tokyo based developers Joy Simulation couldn’t believe their luck when Nintendo snagged their prototype flower-themed strategy title Petal Rivals, to be developed as a high profile Gameboy Advance title.

Their excitement was short-lived when after the contracts were signed they were told that their game had to be re-skinned into an adaptation of the violently militaristic sequel to Battle Royale.

The graphics department who had spent months working on making cute anthropomorphic flowers that swayed gently in the breeze, had to suddenly switch them out for school age terrorists with explosive death animations. The whole thing was a rush job and completely failed in the market due to the underperformance of the film and the subject matter being a terrible fit with Nintendo’s Mario loving fanbase.

Ten – The Raid (2011)
The Uk distributors commissioned Hoxton ‘boutique development house’ BooomK@ M3dia to create a web based game to promote the theatrical release of this martial arts adventure. They were less than impressed when with less than 2 weeks to go, BooomK@ presented them with an old school, text adventure game.

A source revealed:

“They just sat there in the presentation looking smug and pleased with themselves. They said it was ironic and that we didn’t understand new media strategy. They stopped smiling pretty fucking quickly when I said we weren’t paying them”

Although the game was swiftly canned and not used, it was later leaked onto an interactive fiction web site, where it was derided on the community forum as ‘repetitive’ and ‘not as clever as it thinks’.

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Elstree 1976 – Spa Wars Screening

ELSTREE 1976 POSTER 1 1000pxLeamington Underground Cinema is delighted to present a screening of ace documentary Elstree 1976 following the Spa Wars event on Saturday 2nd December.
This screening will take place in the epic and gothic All Saints Church aka that big building at the bottom of The Parade opposite Viallis.
After the film there will be a Q&A with producer Hank Starrs (who with director Jon Spira is now working on sequel Elstree 1979 about The Empire Strikes Back) and some Star Wars cast members.
Tickets are £10 and will be on sale from Friday 9th June. ,there will be a licensed bar to keep you fully refreshed, doors open at 7.30pm and the age limit is 12.
For more info on the whole day of Spa Wars events please check out the facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/192980474554893
“In 1976, during the hottest summer on record, Star Wars was shot in suburban North London. Nobody involved had any idea how big the film would become, many couldn’t even remember the title.
 
Yet for the bit-part actors and extras, their faces hidden in masks and helmets, this seemingly insignificant job would go on to colour their lives even four decades later.
 
ELSTREE 1976 is a portrait of a cross-section of these people; from the man inside the most iconic villain in film history to the guy whose character was completely cut from the final film. It tells the stories of their lives and explores the eccentric community they have formed, traveling the world, signing autographs for fans.”

LUC Briefing 011: War

“This is the problem with civilians wanting to go to war. Once you’ve been there, once you’ve seen it, you never want to go again unless you absolutely fucking have to. It’s like France.”

-General Miller
In The Loop

The next LUC Briefing will be on the subject of: Art

i. Just War

An LUC favourite, this old soviet anti-war film – cut to Just War from the album Dark Night Of The Soul. Brilliantly renders the pointlessness of nuclear conflict in three minutes and 45 stylish seconds.

ii. How Docklands Became Vietnam For Full Metal Jacket

From the venerable Barry Norman on Film ‘87:

“It’s a derelict old gasworks in Beckton, not Vietman exactly but the next best thing for a movie director who doesn’t like to fly”

iii. The Main Casualty of The Thin Red Line Was Adrien Brody

Enjoy a bunch of actors chuckling about how Brody thought he was the lead in Terence Malick’s Pacific war epic, right up until the premiere of the film – that he was mostly cut out of.

iv. The Messy Death Of Hungry Joe

In 1970, a world before CGI, just how do you convincingly show a man being bisected by a low flying aircraft?

“The popular scene of Hungry Joe being cut in two by the airplane and falling into the water was done in two steps. (1) A plane runs into a breakaway dummy that was rigged to spray blood. After a cutaway, the second shot shows an actor or stuntman in front of the sky, holding a mirror in front of him angled to reflect more sky to match what is in back of him, making the top part of his body disappear. He then falls backward into the water making the trick become visible to the camera.”

v. All the people using The Battle Of Algiers as a training aid are probably missing the point

From an article on the Carnegie Council website:

“The Battle of Algiers was based on the memoirs of Saadi Yacef, one of the leaders of the FLN, who also starred in the film as a character modeled off his real-life role in the opposition movement. The film was banned in France for five years after its release.

Yet others hailed The Battle of Algiers, not only as a work of art, but as a model for both insurgency and counterinsurgency tactics, including the use of torture. The film has been used to train members of the Black Panthers and Argentine intelligence units. It has been speculated that Palestinian terror groups and al Qaeda may also use Pontecorvo’s film as a guide.

In 2003, The Battle of Algiers was screened at the Pentagon in order to offer some insight into the challenges surrounding the U.S. occupation of Iraq.”

LINK: https://www.carnegiecouncil.org/education/002/film/reviews/0005

vi. Did Bill Clinton pull a ‘Wag The Dog’?

From an article via CNN:

“In the movie, the president’s handlers invent a war to distract public attention from his sexual transgressions. In real life, was the Clinton administration doing something similar?

Cynical in the extreme, that was a question that some residents of the New York region could not avoid asking themselves Thursday. And it seemed to reflect not only the bizarre parallels between fiction and fact, but also the profound distrust that some Americans have begun to harbor toward a president who acknowledged misleading the public.”

ARTICLE LINK: http://edition.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1998/08/21/wag.the.dog/

vii. The Fallen Of World War 2

Sobering and stunning use of data and animation to illustrate the horror of the mind melting horror of the second world war.

viii. Rik Mayall’s SAS try to prevent World War 3

In the marvellously unsubtle Whoops Apocalypse, the world is heading towards nuclear combat due to an escalating conflict over a disputed British territory in central America (wonder where they got that idea?).

For reasons that are too confusing to go into, the SAS must rescue a british princess from Madam Tussauds – cue lots of mindless violence and swearing. Key Quote:

“No you can’t bring the fucking tiger, Donald. It’s more trouble than it’s worth”

LUC Briefing 010: Cities

“As a remedy to life in society I would suggest the big city. Nowadays, it is the only desert within our means.”
– Albert Camus

“I don’t know what London’s coming to — the higher the buildings the lower the morals.”
– Noel Coward

“But cities aren’t like people; they live on and on, even though their reason for being where they are has gone downriver and out to sea.”
-John Updike

The next LUC Briefing will be on the subject of: War

i. The Lost City Of Demille

From the Independent:

‘When the shoot was complete, rather than dismantle and remove the set, the director ordered it to be knocked down, buried and abandoned to the elements. Mr Cardozo showed Mr Brosnan a passage from DeMille’s posthumously published autobiography: “If, 1,000 years from now, archaeologists happen to dig beneath the sands of Guadalupe, I hope they will not rush into print with the amazing news that Egyptian civilisation … extended all the way to the Pacific coast of North America.”’

ARTICLE: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/the-lost-city-of-cecil-b-demille-the-film-about-unearthing-a-1923-movie-set-that-took-30-years-to-a6787021.html

ii. Shanghai tower climb

If you are slightly nervy about heights and risky behaviour then you might want to give this extreme urban exploration video filmed in and above the chinese mega city a swerve – or use it as some kind of exposure therapy. Don’t try this at home (if you live on a crane half a mile in the air).

iii. Babeldom

“The city will soon be built faster than a man can travel”

iv. Metropolis II

Metropolis II is a kinetic sculpture by Chris Burden – it took four years to build. When it was finished the manager of the local Toys R Us cried bitter, bitter tears.

v. Neo Tokyo

From the Akira Wiki:

“Neo-Tokyo is situated on an enormous, man-made island in Tokyo Bay. The city was built sometime after the end of the Third World War, and is described as a booming, industrial city with the atmosphere of a collapsing one.

As of 2019, the population is 21,451,800 and the total area of the city is 410.32 km2. This would make Neo-Tokyo the most densely-populated city in the world after the original city. Neo-Tokyo is situated right next to the ruins of old Tokyo, which seems mostly derelict.”

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LINK: http://akira.wikia.com/wiki/Neo-Tokyo

vi. 20 Great Films Where One Of The Main Characters Is A City

From the Taste Of Cinema web site:

“The films listed rely on the narrative space and its geographical and sociological specifications. The plots of these films are formed by numerous references to the spatial and temporal phase in which the story is taking place.”

LINK: http://www.tasteofcinema.com/2015/20-great-films-where-one-of-the-main-characters-is-a-city/#ixzz4fY6CG03B

vii. Wadjda – the film that had to be directed via walkie talkie

From a BFI article listing ten great films about Women and The City:

“Wadjda is set in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia – a city where women are not permitted to walk un-chaperoned or uncovered in the streets. These restrictions meant that the film’s director, Haifaa Al-Mansour, had to resort to instructing her cast and crew via walkie-talkie, from inside a van. All 10-year-old Wadjda (Waad Mohammed) wants is a bicycle; getting one is a race against time, as she won’t be able to ride it when she grows into a woman.

Wadjda is one of the first feature films ever to be shot in Saudi Arabia, and it’s also the first film ever to be made by a Saudi woman. The film – both the conditions of its making and its story – demonstrates the reality that cities aren’t always open to everyone, but that this situation might one day change.”

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LINK: http://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/news-bfi/lists/10-great-films-about-women-city

viii. Vancouver never plays itself

Vancouver can double for just about anywhere as demonstrated by this excellent short film from Every Frame A Painting:

“One of the best ways to disguise Vancouver is to film at night in shallow focus. This is to avoid pulling a ‘Rumble in The Bronx’ where they pointed the camera north and you could clearly see the mountains”

LUC Briefing 009: Animals

“Animals give me more pleasure through the viewfinder of a camera than they ever did in the crosshairs of a gunsight.”
– James Stewart

“Animals have never betrayed me. They are an easy prey, as I have been throughout my career. So we feel the same. I love them.”
– Brigitte Bardot

“Do you know what I love about hunting? That I am no one in the woods, no one at all. I thought the animals might recognise me, but they didn’t. They did not even ask me for any autographs.”
-Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The next LUC Briefing will be on the subject of: Cities

i. Pound

Source of one of LUC’s favourite pieces of music (as playing in the video below), Pound is a film from 1970 about dogs waiting to be put down. The twist being that the dogs are all played by human actors, including the director’s son, one Robert Downey Jr…

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfceSj5koBo

ii. All the stop motion creatures from the world of Steve Zissou

Eschewing bland-looking CGI imagery, Wes Anderson commissioned stop motion genius Henry Selick to make all the fantastical creatures for The Life Aquatic, here is a video summary…

LINK: https://vimeo.com/9160689

iii. Roar – The most dangerous movie ever made

From an article on IndieWire:

“Some of the injuries sustained in the course of production: cinematographer Jan de Bont was scalped, requiring 220 stitches; Griffith was mauled by a lion, which required facial reconstructive surgery; an A.D. narrowly escaped death when a lion missed his jugular by an inch; Hedren, who was also attacked by birds on the set of “The Birds,” endured a fractured leg and multiple scalp wounds; and Marshall himself was wounded so many times that he was hospitalized with gangrene.”

iv. Bronholme The Leamington Underhamster

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The bunker’s latest recruit, in addition to being a syrian refugee is also a liviing homage to *that* amazing scene in the 1988 film Taffin. For full context please consult this excerpt from Adam & Joe

v. The Monkey In The Order Of The Black Eagle

An outrageously terrible and terribly watchable spy/action flick from 1987, The Order Of The Black Eagle compresses every James Bond trope into a cinematic meat grinder and then squeezes out the kind of film sausage that you know you shouldn’t really be consuming.  Giving probably the most restrained and believable performance of the whole cast, Boon The Baboon is a dapper primate, equally at home in a dinner jacket or driving his own Baboon sized tank. Mostly though he makes a sort of ‘up yours’ gesture at regular intervals.

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Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c02N39OKfL4

Full film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqJadw0UdW8

vi. Eating a live octopus for Oldboy

From an AV Club article full of examples of how the film industry has violently messed with animals over the years, for the sake of our entertainment.

“There’s no CGI or fakery involved—getting that shot meant the actor had to eat four live octopuses in a row. It was a problematic requirement for Choi, a practicing Buddhist; he explained in interviews that he had to pray for each octopus, and in the behind-the-scenes video below, he apologizes to one of them before a take. It’s a kind sentiment, but still a horrible way to die.”

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lv_OxuZzIxY

vii. Thomas Edison – What A Jerk

To win arguments about the benefits of Direct Current vs Alternating Current, Thomas Edison would electrocute just about any animal he could get his hands on, then film it, then charge people to watch the film. Suddenly Zack Snyder doesn’t seem so bad. This short film outlines his general arseholery on the matter…

viii. Some cute pandas playing on a slide

In contrast to the barbaric treatment that the film industry has dished out to animals in the past, new media seems intent on celebrating the more endearing attributes of our four legged friends. Indeed cute animal videos are beginning to endanger pornography’s reign as the main purpose for the world wide web. Using precise scientific methods we have determined that this is probably the best example.

LUC Briefing 008: Music

“A film is – or should be – more like music than fiction”
-Stanley Kubrick

The next LUC Briefing will be on the subject of: Animals

 

i. The Long Goodbye

In a move that is either an inspired piece of cinematic brilliance, or time-saving laziness, the score for Robert Altman’s 1973 film of The Long Goodbye consists of just one song, played in many different styles throughout the film. John Williams arranged all manner of variations, from jazzy efforts, to crazy mariachi music, although as it was the early 70’s there is no dubstep remix. You can get the idea from this montage

ii. Rappin’ For Jesus

Considering all the wild, wonderful and dubious things that LUC has ever shown, it says something that nothing has ever elicited a reaction nearly as shocking as this music video produced by a church outreach programme. There is no way of understanding the thought processes behind this – just make sure that you are not eating or drinking around the 35 second mark. Trigger Warning: Potentially lethal levels of awkwardness.

iii. Jazz As Visual Language

jvl.jpgLeamington Spa’s very own Nicolas Pillai has just launched a book about Jazz as seen through the filter of cinema and TV. You can get it straight to your Kindle from Amazon right now, or for more info check out this interview with London Jazz News…

“Simply put, this is a book about how jazz has been mediated through film and television. We often ask ourselves, what is jazz? This is a question reflected by these film and television representations. Through image composition and editing, they present that question in visual terms: what is jazz? How has its meaning changed over the decades? What is its significance to the people who play it, who finance it, who listen to it or dance to it?”

LINK: http://www.londonjazznews.com/2016/11/interview-nicolas-pillai-new-book-jazz.html

iv. Just by Radiohead is probably the best music video ever

I know OK GO have made all those incredibly clever and entertaining videos and that R Kelly produced the demented disasterpiece that is Trapped In the Closet, but for LUC’s money the apex of the short form musical video is Jamie Thrave’s film for Radiohead’s 1995 release ‘Just’. Watch and enjoy.

v. Drinkenstein

Did you know that Sylvester Stallone and Dolly Parton once made a country and western musical together? If not it may be because the UN convention on human rights was used to cover it up.

The film in question, Rhinestone, features Parton teaching Stallone to be a country singing sensation as part of a bet with her sleazy manager over whether she will sleep with him. Yes, I know, the drugs in the 80’s must have been amazing. You may study this clip and assume that Stallone was labouring under some kind of contractual obligation, apparently not as he is credited as co-writing the script.

vi. The Time That Steven Seagal Played The Blues At Warwick University

There is not much to add to this, except that his band is called ‘Thunderbox’

vii. The Importance Of Music in Cinema

There is probably no better illustration of the effect of music on the experience of cinema than watching the lat few minutes of Star Wars without the stirring orchestral send off.

viii. Searching For The Brown Note

From an article on vice.com:

“There are dozens of YouTube videos claiming to be the real brown note, mostly with comments saying they don’t work – but occasionally the odd positive response turns up among the “South Park brought me here” messages. Commenters in these instances claim the noise cured their constipation, or that the brown note caught them by surprise and really worked, but were these historically trustful anonymous YouTube trolls telling the truth?”

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Article: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/in-search-of-the-brown-noise