The King of Kong

Pixes vs King of Kong

One of our favorite documentaries of all time here at FSR, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters debuted back in January 2007 at the Slamdance Film Festival. Before it even released in theaters that August it had become an enormous cult sensation, particularly with people who aren’t normally into nonfiction films. Also before it even opened, director Seth Gordon was recruited by New Line (who also distributed the doc) to remake the feature, presumably to share the goofy story of rival arcade game champions with a much broader audience that wouldn’t ever, ever watch a doc, no matter how entertaining. It’s totally unnecessary, and those doc-despisers don’t deserve this story if that’s how they’re gonna be, but that’s Hollywood for you. As with most plans to redo docs as dramatic or “narrative” films, though, this one has been taking its sweet time — and doesn’t seem like it’ll ever really happen. Gordon was given other offers from New Line in the meantime to direct other big Hollywood movies such as Four Christmases, and he’s since been attached to a bazillion other projects. Yet over the years, he’s consistently confirmed that a King of Kong remake is still going forward, with minor details revealed that it could actually be more like a sequel and that it will be shot mockumentary style. And according to IMDbPro, following a couple years of unknown status, the project is now listed back in the script stage as of April 21st. But the more we see of Adam Sandler‘s upcoming […]

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Little Edie in  Grey Gardens

I am mostly against the critical valuation of real people in documentaries. I’ve written about this in the past, specifically in response to the reviews of The Imposter that judged subject Frederic Bourdin more than the film itself. I also wondered last fall whether it is okay to highlight the “best” characters of a given year in the form of the Cinema Eye Honors recognition of “The Unforgettables.” On that, I eventually came around to agreeing that memorable documentary characters deserve recognition if not a competitive prize that puts one above the rest (and the CEH don’t mean for them to be “the best,” just unforgettable). Even calling them characters makes me conflicted at times, but within the film space and narrative, that is what they are. Ranking these characters, though, or calling them “best” or “worst,” isn’t something I feel comfortable doing. However, it is more acceptable to discuss a documentary character positively than negatively. Calling someone inspiring is fair, but calling someone despicable is not. Unless their deeds are horrible enough that calling a subject such is about considering them beyond the personality they exhibit on screen (think Hitler in Triumph of the Will, Anwar Congo in The Act of Killing and really any other genocidal leader). We can think anything we want of these people privately and even discuss them amongst ourselves as part of the audience, but there’s no place for it in film criticism. So this list, which is inspired by my ongoing consideration of the Up Series for its 50th anniversary, is not intended to be a critique of any of these people (or […]

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kingofkong03

Every year, the Sundance Film Festival premieres a bounty of incredible nonfiction film stories. Many of them find distribution and go on to become box office hits and even Oscar nominees. Others attract Hollywood players with a different kind of exposure in mind. The goal with those stories is to acquire the rights to make a whole new narrative feature, sometimes leaving the existing documentary version by the wayside if it isn’t picked up in its own right. This year it’s the story of the Portland Mavericks, an independent baseball team created in the early 1970s by TV actor Bing Russell and featuring movie star son Kurt Russell on the roster. The doc that tells the story is The Battered Bastards of Baseball. It currently has no deal for distribution, but a remake was announced during the fest to be produced by Justin Lin and possibly scripted and directed by Todd Field, who’d been a batboy for the Mavericks. Another Sundance doc, The Green Prince, about a Palestinian son of a Hamas leader who turns spy for Israel, is also said to be on the remake track. I’m curious to see how quickly those dramatic retelling hit the screen, and I am also anxious to see the development of Robert Zemeckis‘s just-announced 3D redo of Man on Wire starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as famed funambulist Philippe Petit. The latter project is particularly interesting because not too long ago we’d heard Zemeckis was remaking Marwencol. Maybe he’s doing both, and maybe this is the filmmaker’s new thing — or maybe neither will happen at all. READ MORE

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nibbler trailer

Do we need another documentary involving an arcade game rivalry from the 1980s? Yes, especially if it actually ends up being better than The King of Kong. That way, we can forget that Seth Gordon ever got our hopes up about his career. Also, the competitive nature of a later, potentially greater film of this kind fits perfectly with the subject matter. This new project is called Man vs. Snake: The Long and Twisted Tale of Nibbler, and I’ve been told directly that it began before anyone had heard about Kong. That means it’s been in the works for at least six or seven years*. Which makes sense, because directors Andrew Seklir and Tim Kinzy were still working as editors on Battlestar Galactica when they first discovered the game Nibbler. What is Nibbler, you ask? Yeah, I didn’t know either. And according to the Man vs. Snake trailer, not a lot of people do. It’s a game that looks like Pac-Man but there’s a snake instead of ghosts. More importantly, it’s the first game on which a player could reach 1 billion points. And in 1984, a young man named Timothy McVey (yeah the joke has been made, a lot) achieved that incredible milestone on one quarter — of course, it took him 44.5 hours! For the next 25 years, it was thought that he had the highest score on any video game ever. Turns out, an Italian kickboxer named Enrico Zanetti had beaten his record (cue Rocky IV music). […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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Just over 3,000 films were released in the past ten years. Instead of sleeping, Neil and Cole (with the help of a supercomputer) whittle that list down to the best 1%.

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KingDorkSethGordon

Sony is the home and King of Kong director Seth Gordon is set to helm. Will we finally get to see King Dork?

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Variety is reporting today that The King of Kong and Four Christmases director Seth Gordon’s next project, a comedy entitled Mr. Romance, has been optioned by New Regency. And upon doing some investigation into the matter, I found this to be a very interesting project.

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Steve Wiebe doesn’t want you talking through his Donkey Kong game, or his movie for that matter.

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Its not a film about King Kong, but instead is a humorous documentary on another famous Kong, the 80s arcade game relic—Donkey Kong—and those who have spent their lives trying to master it.

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Looking back on the year that was 2007, what scenes or moments from films will live on? What will people be quoting a year from now — McLovin or Dewey Cox?

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Aside from keeping things organized around here, I am also obligated as the Editor to give you my picks for the Ten Best Films of the Year. So let’s do this thing!

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Air Guitar Nation

As we begin our year in review, it is important to look back at some of the films that most people missed along the way.

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The Academy just announced the 15 finalist for the “Best Documentary” award this year — and I think there are a few films missing!

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