Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Fleeting Victory (2012)

First of the Up Till Dawn Films: 2-Minute Crappy Film Series!

2-Minute Crappy Film Series

Burning Empire Media is proud to announce the Up Till Dawn Films: 2-Minute Crappy Film Series! A brand new style of remix film art that is sure to please. We all know the feeling when two minutes into a film we already ask ourselves, "What am I doing here? Why is this happening? I need to leave this place right now."

Up Till Dawn's 2-Minute Crappy Film Series takes care of this problem. We take a crappy film and make it two minutes. A two minute exciting thrill ride of adventure, disaster, and surrealism. All 2-Minute Crappy Films will initially be announced and released here on the Up Till Dawn Films blog. We don't just talk trash about crappy films, we make them too.

Our first film, A Fleeting Victory, is a remix tale of the classic War of the Robots. The film is essentially a bunch of people dressed up like Steve Zissou and fighting robots with lightsabers.  All while urging the viewer to jump off a bridge. We broke it down, spruced it up, had The Night Will Steal You redo the score, and chopped a more satisfying conclusion. In a truly irresponsible, zero-budget, for-profit, film house fashion we will release A Fleeting Victory today, tomorrow, or the next day.

Check back soon for the Up Till Dawn Films: 2-Minute Crappy Film Series! Look for the series on DVD in 2013! And buy Burning Empire Media Presents: on DVD now!

Nurse Jackie (Season 4)

While I'm pretty sure Nurse Jackie is somewhat more popular than I realize. This show for me is Showtime's sleeper television show hit.

I began watching this show because of a woman. My wife and I began watching this show together, but during this last season (recently concluded) I found myself no longer waiting for her to watch the episodes. I needed to know what happens next.

Engrossed in the drama, intrigued and interested in new characters and old, and out loud laughter all force me to continue watching. And make no mistake, Edie Falco is a badass. I will always miss Carmela Soprano, but only because I miss Tony.

The entire series. Less than $133!
Nurse Jackie fits Falco perfectly and this season proves that she takes no prisoners and make no apologies. Do not be confused by this strong and powerful female lead. Nurse Jackie is not some chick shtick television show. This series provides an emotionally powerful, exciting, and fresh 30 minutes of entertainment that leaves the manliest of viewers wishing for an hour.

3.7 Stars.

Get the Gringo (2012)

 For fans that have wondered what would have happened if Riggs was less bi-polar and on the other side of the law, this is the movie for them.

I hate to admit it, but I enjoyed this film. Based on observed behaviors one could easily deduct that Mel Gibson is a lunatic. However, I do not feel psychosis and antisemitism really have anything to do with this individual film. A certain Elmore Leonard quality emanates from the plot and characters of  Get the Gringo. It's worth watching and one of my personal favorites of recent Mel films.

3.3 Stars.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012)

Allow me to be your Redbox Warrior on this one. This film has enabled me to attain a deeper understanding of a particular vein of cinema. I imagine that even the below-average minded audience understands what type of film Abraham and the Zombies promises to deliver. These opportunistic straight-to-video releases have been labeled "mockbusters." The current climate of "mockbusters" shows that providing the release a genre tends to exonerate their appeal. When I learned of The Asylums format I found something commendable and Cormanesque about their purpose and business model. The question remains, "Why do their films have to be so crappy though." If you're in the business of quick opportunity can $150,000 not be put to better use? Costume design rarely flags in my mind while watching a film. They usually wash over me. Even the lowest of low-budget historical adaptations can be excused for a collar lacking 1800s consistency. I simply do not understand why the costume budget was not spent at a thrift store in this instance. Everything is crispity clean and definitely made within the last decade. It does not resonate. Everyone looks like five year old dressed up in their grandfather's fatigues. I would imagine there are thousands of people in the world that would have helped make this movie better, and I bet some would have even worked free of charge. Watching this film made me wonder if The Asylum pays someone to be a cinematographer or if they feel a high definition camera is enough. The light that beams of a crisp white collar screams 2012 B movie but the problem could have prevented and some money could have been spared as well. The fact is these Alien Origin style perfectly timed straight-to-Redbox features have a charm that is instantly diffused by pressing play. Learning more about the companies efforts to spread religious propaganda does not help their case much either. However, is this just another opportunistic mockery? I cannot answer that question. I can however tell you that this movies, among every other Asylum film I've glimpsed at, is complete and total shit. There is now a clear distinction between a charming low-budget indie film and a low-budget marketing strategy in which the production company pisses on the audience. Even more strange is that the fact that the owners are executives from Village Roadshow. Not my favorite but why taint the resume? Rock that business model to the grave, but a little more TLC would have inspired another dollar from me when Disposables 3 releases. I can't wait to see Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter now. I feel that a good studio should come around and now steal the "mockbuster" market from this company. I guarantee that for half the budget I could make a much more satisfying well-timed-opportunistic variation of any movie that will release in the near future. It comes out in less than a month, but give me eighty grand and we'll have The Black Bat Ascends in Redbox by the end of the month.
Most likely a better read.

Keep in mind I'm not the type of person who instantly jumps to negatively judge a film. When I was a teenager, myself and two other assholes made a film called Giant Mutant Lobsters in Outer Space in which we dumped Jack Daniels on a lobster and set it on fire. Along with a city made of cardboard and hot wheels cars. This was of course after the mad scientist fired off his giant laser that never actually appeared on screen. The difference between the two pieces of trash being ingenuity and passion. Enduring this film was pain-staking and traumatic at best. Zombies or not. I love zombies, but like many great genres Abe vs. Zombies is among a vast catalog of selections that breeds contempt. This type of film makes the porn industry seem more reputable. Certainly more interesting. On second thought, these films are porns, without the porn.

How about 1.3 stars, only because it provide a strong closing for my review.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Coming Soon - UTDF

One of my favorite posters of all time!

 I decided to do a blog post warm-up prior to conducting a large amount of educational writing.

Since Up Till Dawn Films' refocusing of purpose I have been selecting movies for coverage that I normally would ignore or outright refuse.

I wanted to include more in this update but I have a lot to do, and the cinematic gems of celluloid commentary resist the river's current.

Until next time...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Men In Black III (2012)

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The popularity of the Men In Black films confuses me somewhat. I understand how they have generated the box office numbers and popularity on a summer funzies level, but no so much in regards to the catharsis they seem to provide people. I get they they're funny films, and the two main characters share a dynamic relationship that adds to the clever hilarity. If ever a possibility, the mixing of crotchety white man and sassy but hip black man would provide a sweet comedy elixir. The audience could simply drink in this essence and uncontrollable laughter would consume their entire existence. However, I do not find the films that easy to take down. The Men In Black films make me slightly uncomfortable.

A novel in dramatic form. Only 10 bucks!
A have an easier, and oddly more enjoyable, time watching Tommy Lee Jones stuck in an apartment with a bible thumping Samuel Jackson while Tommy insists that he must kill himself. Which inadvertently sums up Men In Black 3. While watching, I wonder if there's something I'd rather watch. I know MIB 3 arouses a desire for another viewing of The Sunset Limited and I'm sure if I thought about it several others would come to mind. Will's alright (I Am Legend was beautiful) but give me Samuel L instead any day.

I digress, the comparison is not fair. A dialogue written by Cormac McCarthy should have a higher level of quality than any MIB movie. I guess I just wanted to bring up Mr. McCarthy. While we're on the subject though, Josh Brolin plays the young Tommy Lee Jones and these two billings alone scream, "Great cast!" Until they decided to cast Emma Thompson, but let's not go there. The strangest paradox of the Men In Black films rests within my own hands of ownership. I have owned both of the previous films. I believe at one point I had multiple copies of one or both of the films on DVD, and I also still own an unopened animated series VHS. How did that all happen?

In conclusion, this was my favorite Men In Black film (except for the Emma Thompson) from many reasons. The Brolin factor was cool. He did a spot on young Tommy Lee Jones. It goes without saying because we are now in the future, but the CGI was the best. The storyline was the most interesting and intelligent and I also felt the least uncomfortable watching this chapter.  3.4 Stars.  This is a that may change.

Please feel free to comment and/or talk some shit in the comments section below. I don't care, want to attempt a troll? This is your place, but please try to do so constructively and on topic. 

Remember you can remain anonymous, speak your mind, and be free.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Repo Man (1984)

A home library must have!
Repo Man, starring Emilio Estevez is one of many films that best reflects popular culture in this country. The "cult classic" film chronicles the events of an angry young man, Otto, who becomes a repo man. There is much more to the story and the goings on around Otto than the simple repossession of cars. The film is a commentary on the state of the world, American youth, growing up in America, drug use, nuclear science, war, UFOs, and the collective unconscious. The mixture of these themes set upon the black-comedy-science-fiction backdrop of automotive repossession and punk rock music not only results in an amazing piece of entertainment but also a reflection of culture that remains relevant in the cultural climate of today.

A culture in which many physical attributes have changed drastically, but continues to be rooted in issues, conflicts, and identities that have changed very little since 1984. One of the UTDF's Top Ten Film Soundtracks. 4.4 Stars.

Warning: Harry Dean Stanton Alert! This film is known to contain Harry Dean Stanton. The true psychological effects of Harry Dean Stanton are highly debated and yet to be scientifically confirmed.

Red State (2011)

This is an assignment that I had to do for school, but I decided that it is also quite suiting for Up Till Dawn Films' purposes. The direction of the review is based upon the rubric of the assignment. 

            An individual’s freedom to choose religious beliefs is a basic human right. Unfortunately, many times in society religious beliefs are used to justify extremely violent and deadly actions. Kevin Smith’s film Red State, starring Michael Parks and John Goodman, tells a story about a Christian fundamentalist group. The group uses their religious beliefs to rationalize violent and deadly actions inflicted upon those they categorize as “sinners.” The highly controversial film is a cinematic masterpiece that redefines Smith as a filmmaker. Kevin Smith is perhaps best known for his flatulence focused comedy films, passion for comic books, and network of podcasts. Red State came as a surprise to his most loyal of fans and the film industry in general. Written, directed, edited, and self-distributed Red State proves that Smith is not just a jokesmith satisfied with making audiences laugh.  The film demands that Smith be regarded as a sophisticated and multidimensional filmmaker. Smith accomplishes this sophistication by tackling the social issues and themes within Red State. Labeled as a horror film Red State is a shocking social commentary on religious intolerance and the violent consequences of extreme belief. Red State is a picture of society that shows the lines of terrorism are drawn by belief and action, not race and cultural background.

The film also shows that while society has made significant progress, intolerance of race, religion, and sexual preference are still a serious reality. Red State’s main character Pastor Abin Cooper (played by Michael Parks) is especially intolerant of homosexuality. Cooper is a charismatic religious leader that uses his own religious interpretations and beliefs to fuel an anti-homosexual agenda. He passionately indoctrinates his beliefs onto the members of his congregation and motivates and mobilizes violent and murderous action. The intolerance of Cooper’s congregation is seen throughout the world. Red State reminds the viewer that the boundaries of homicidal intolerance are not set by religious, geographical, or racial difference. The intolerant only lack prejudice upon the selection of their victims. The intolerance of Cooper’s congregation is captured with a unique style of cinematography and powerful acting performances. Red State is presented in the clarity of high definition film photography. However, the film uses a grindhouse tone that captivates the eye of the audience and properly captures the gritty, dark, and violent nature for which the film is set. This unique style and powerful acting performances are what make Red State downright creepy. Michael Parks’ academy award worthy performance is essential to Red State. Early in the film an intense 10 minute long sermon is delivered by Cooper. The scene is scary and powerful. There is no doubt or confusion in the audience’s mind that Cooper can use charisma, manipulation, intensity, and belief to mobilize his congregation.
            Consequently, Cooper’s violent mobilization of belief is the fuel of terrorism. Cooper’s congregation is not a simple church group; it is a terrorist organization. Smith uses the character of A.T.F. Agent Joseph Keenan (played by John Goodman) to facilitate the role of government and a deeper view into the nature of terrorism. The fictional government’s policies regarding terrorism are no different that the policies of real-life society and as Keenan’s peer Agent Hammond states, “If you kill an American because of a religious belief you are a terrorist.” Smith further mirrors society when the Keenan’s superiors make the decision that Cooper’s congregation needs to be eliminated by any means necessary.  A barrage of bullets and death is traded between Cooper’s congregation and the A.T.F. The film takes on an almost action flick way of editing and sequencing scenes, but the violent and explicit deaths are not a glorification. When a young lady accidentally kills her mother it is clear that Smith wants the world to know that guns are not toys. Many times the doctrines and religious texts, meant as a guide, are taken literally. Red State captures the deadly ramification of when these misconceptions are acted upon.
            In conclusion, if Kevin Smith had something to prove, whether as a filmmaker or a commentator of political and religious ideology, Red State proves it. The film shows that intolerance and belief have the potential to be extremely dangerous and violent states of mind often mobilized into bloody terroristic action. It is the sense of realism that Smith uses to execute the film that makes Red State truly horrific. While the organizations and individuals of Red State are fictitious, Smith provides a mirrored view of the terrifying similarities found throughout our own society.

I use the term "multidimensional" too much. 4.7 Stars.

Prometheus (2012)

Click to Buy the Combo Pack!
I got to the theater late and missed the first ten minutes of this movie. The lack of punctuality is among several reasons that I am going to have to watch this film again, but I'm pretty sure I grasped and saw enough to make some conclusions and discuss. When teasers of Prometheus initially embedded into audiences a strong wave of Alien maniacs broke free of their quiet desperation. I witnessed a fleeting movement and surprising exoneration of Ridley Scott that seemed both manufactured and confused. The Stargatesque to be continued nature of the quick look inside the film aroused hype, intrigue, and fanaticism that I did not realize existed or could be synthesized so quickly. Until trailers for Prometheus swept the masses I did not know that many categorize Ridley Scott as a, "Genius." I know of a strong fan following for Blade Runner and Alien (Harry Dean Stanton Alert!,) but otherwise Scott's resume did not seem spectacular. While still an impressive resume, the individual filmmaker has yet to truly fascinate me. I'm more a fan of the fact that he was a producer of the television series Numb3rs and his brother Tony directed True Romance.
I did not expect nearly as much as the dormant-Ridley-Scott-super fans did from Prometheus. Intrigued that Damon Lindelof (co-creator of Lost) happen to be one of the writers of the screenplay, but in general the concept and Alien series prequel possibility simply bored me. Yet, low expectations always helps when something from a film can be expected. The first twenty to thirty minutes of the film could be entirely removed and I do not think it would make much of a difference. The distinction between plot and character development and contrived mediocre pace shines brightly on a visually stunning but otherwise bland screen. A sad and slow start however does not mean that all is lost. Ultimately, once the development hurdle was crossed Prometheus pleases and provides the audience what they came for. I have let Prometheus marinate for a couple weeks. The initial Prometheus buzz has worn off. Prometheus is a quality film. I'm definitely going to watch it again, but like Ridley in general I question the ratio of hype to actual output of "genius" work. Especially, since I feel, of all Ridley's films, Prometheus comes closest to the misused adjective. Certainly at the top of my list of Ridley Scott films I want to add to my Blu-Ray collection. Until I watch it again I'll give it a standing 3.5 stars.

Don't forget to comment, or even make a request. I will watch and we will discuss.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Inside an Actor Editorial - Nicolas Cage

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This was originally going to be a review for Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, but it dawned on me that a discussion of Nicolas Cage would be much more interesting. We all know that Mr. Cage has tax problems, and negative criticism of his recent body of work seems to override many film reviews of the individual films. I never understood the strict obsession of ranking a film by one that was put out prior.

I understand the need for comparison, but why compare a kidnapping film to a man with a flaming head or Raising Arizona with Drive Angry? First off, these are generally films made by completely different people and production companies. A comparison of a Coen Brothers film and an intentionally over-excessive flick about fast cars and demons completely misses the point of both films. The only real similarity is they star a person who has the habit of at least attempting to remove similarities between most of his roles. Everyone has their Brad Pitt, "What's in the box" or Johnny Utah forever stuck on, "Whoa" moments. However, it does not negate a solid resume, skill, nor the fact that Drive Angry was ridiculously amazing. I bought the blu-ray. Why? Because unlike the "Christian Slater straight-to-video" business model for selecting roles these films are produced big and generally deliver big. Cage has also stepped up his game since his Knowing/Bangkok Dangerous phase. Some may feel inclined to point to Mr. Cage's money problems, but I wonder why he is having them at all; when I watch some of these films. Either way, as he storms through piles of scripts to pay back the IRS he pleases this audience.

Settle down Mr. Cage, you're not a god yet, and no one can ever be as cool as Sailor Ripley in real life. Not even you. Up Till Dawn Films recommends Drive Angry, Seeking Justice, Trespass, Ghost Rider 2, Kick-Ass. Nick deserves some props, all at least 3.0 stars each.

The Three Stooges (2012)

Click to Pre-Order! Available July 17th
I feel as though I missed something while watching this movie. I would much rather watch this movie over than a couple hours of Stooges reruns, but I only endured through the entirety of this movie for the exclusive sake of film review journalism. I don't know if it is my preexisting  dislike of The Stooges (I could never get into them,) or simply just a movie that does not suit me. I'm sure the egg holds a significant amount of blame for this chicken. There seemed like so much public disdain for the Jersey Shore Cast members' roles, but their appearance was my favorite parts of the movie. Well, actually Larry David playing a nun was my favorite aspect.

I'm fascinated by the fact that this is a  Farrelly Brothers movie. I imagine if anyone else had made the movie I would have put a needle through my pupil. Although, I'm really not an appropriate judge, but the guys playing the Stooges seemed to have done a really good job. However, they do so while basking in the ambiance of something that smells under Plot's shoe. There's more than just plot lacking too. I mean, come on! Jane Lynch plays a nun as well, but I cannot even recall a single thing she did that was funny. Word? Other than Larry David, the Jersey Shore, and some sweet cleavage shots I do not have anything really nice to say. I blame the fact that I am out of my element and my sensibilities of humor were desensitized over a decade ago; Rated PG.      2.2 Stars.

Coming Soon - Django Unchained

I simply cannot wait for this film to come out.
Look at that cast!

21 Jump Street (2012)

Click for Pre-Order!

One more tonight, for posterity's sake, and there is no better than the new 21 Jump Street film. I previously stated in a post that we're going to attempt to keep the inflammatory nature of these reviews to a minimum; or rather to the best of our ability. A perfect way to prevent this sort of inflammation comes from a 2012 film re-imagining/rendition of one of my favorite television dramas of all time. I happened to be somewhat appalled by some of the casting decision news that I initially heard  pertaining to this movie, but as a good friend said it best, "Channing Tatum is fucking awesome when he's not being a douche" (or well it was something like that.) The truth behind that statement is shocking. 21 Jump Street is a thrill ride of laugh-out-loud hilarity and Tatum is freaking awesome. Whether a viewer hates, loves, or has no clue what 21 Jump Street is does not matter. The movie is individually brilliant. Only half way through the year, but most likely my favorite comedy of 2012. If you're a die hard 21 Jump Street like me this film will not disappoint, and it includes extra goodies just for you. I have already seen this movie several times. The blu-ray combo pack options seem weak at this point, but if a later release provides something extra put it on my birthday list. My expectations were extremely low, but it is apparent that the makers of this film set the standards high. I also recently learned that the woman signing the chorus of re-hashed theme song is Esthero! Man big-studio-comedy re-makes don't get any better. The only disappointment it seems was Dustin Nguyen must have been busy during production or something.

A solid 4.0 stars. I actually want to give it more.

A Thousand Words (2012)

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This film is sort of an Eddie Murphy attempt at a Tyler Perry movie without Madea. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I happen to be a fan of several Tyler Perry Films and Eddie Murphy movies for that matter. Eddie seems to be trying to blend a little crude humor with the daunting presence of family fun found within most of his recent movies. Tower Heist was also one of these films. While I appreciate the message of A Thousand Words, I would have rather watched Tower Heist again.

This movie also stars the lesbian from Hot Tub Time Machine. He again has nerd nailed and provides another amusing performance. This movie makes me wonder if Eddie has a comedy as satisfying as Beverly Hills Cop was when it came out left within his career, or as many have criticized can we just expect variations of a formula known to please and undoubtedly satisfy a certain profit margin but ultimately dance with mediocrity. A Thousand Words is worth the "date night" ticket price, but both Eddie and film unsurprisingly play it safe with the audience. I found the boundary pushing of a PG-13 rating commendable, and I got a little man misty on occasion.

3.2 Stars.

No Saints for Sinners (2011)

The chosen cover art for this film makes me somewhat angry. Imdb ratings of this film reflect a 4.2 stars out of 10. The masses are simply baffling. I found this film to be an surprise sleeper action hit. The first ten minutes of the film contain film editing orgasms that shall not be given away here. They set the tone, the pace, and everything else that rushes over the audience for the remainder of the film. No Saints for Sinners is the type of film you don't want to end.

Both score and soundtrack are noticeably superior without overshadowing the film itself. Certain moments in this film negate the possibility for the whole to categorically suck. Either way, the film as a whole is anything but sucky. Lead actor, Rick Crawford, does not manifest a man crush but he's a convincing bad-ass that I wouldn't mind seeing in some more roles. I really thought almost every aspect of this film was done very well. Acting, directing, cinematography, editing, music, script and dialogue are all of superior quality. There's a particular scene within the first act that will always stand out for me. 4.1 out of 5 stars! Comments?


Film Revisit #1 - Indian Jones IV

Upon watching this film again, how this movie was initially received is what confuses me most. I've always been a fan of the Indiana Jones films, but never a super fan. Don't even think I owned VHS copies. I did not mind this film. Harrison Ford is still handsome and Shila Buff casts perfectly into a new Son of Indy Chronicles for television.

Look at the poster art. They didn't even deviate from the poster art. Dr. Jones is still clever, cranky, and adventurous. He solves riddles that beheaded men prior. Perhaps the added sci-fi aspects of the film outraged fans, but does it not make sense within the context and Indiana Jones material of the past?

Spoiler alert: no one holds up a beating heart in this one. Harrison does have moments in which his age shows, but no one is hiding the fact that Indiana Jones has aged several years since the end of the Last Crusade. We will not even get started on Mr. Lucas. I found this chapter an effective rounding off of the Indiana Jones series. The plot and conclusion were certainly not what I expected by watching the earlier films, but I appreciate that it expands the range of the series in many ways while staying true to what I perceive as Indy. Please feel free to shed some light on this matter. That is why comments are enabled, anonymous if you prefer, I don't mind...

(3.2 stars - past Indy films = 3.6)

Indiana Jones Quadrilogy = 3.5 Stars

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Brake (2012)

 Here we go. I'll get better at this. Our first film is a little ditty called Brake starring Stephen Dorff and Tom Berenger. Brake is a film that could just easily be watched as Phone Booth starring Collin Farrel or Buried starring Ryan Reynolds. The primary difference of the films being Ryan Reynolds is buried in a box underground whereas Stephen is trapped in a box located in the trunk of a moving car. And of course their's an entirely different twist. Considering the circumstances of the plot, I hate to disappoint, but Tommy Berenger more appears for approximately ten minutes than "stars." Brake makes gambling on poster art such a fun cinematic game.

Fortunately, I am a long time fan of Stephen Dorff, because one must prepare for an abundance of on-screen Dorff prior to watching this type of film. This type of plot and setting structure is very interesting to me. It's becoming a subgenre of thriller and suspense films. However, there's not a whole lot to say without discussing spoiler elements. The best aspect of the film is that I will definitely be watching S.F.W. again, in the near future. Lets give this bad boy 2.7 stars. I decided to go with a five-star decimal system instead of a hundred percent method. This movie would have received a 45 percentish at best. That's a failing grade. 2.7 stars is not a failing grade. I'm not mad I watched the film, but it's the type of film you want to put on if you have something else to do while watching. Otherwise you're just staring at Cliff Spab in a trunk for over an hour.

Film Review

Introducing the Up Till Dawn Films - Review.

Alright well I stole this idea from an editor of a local publication. She does this type of review structure with books, so hers is generally much more fascinating. While she is reviewing what seems like ten books a week, Up Till Dawn Films will attempt to review merely ten films a weeks. Don’t know how inflammatory this will get. Probably not much and if it does we will most likely have to submit an apology. Reviews will most likely be shorter in length, approximately 100-200 words long (maybe longer.) Up Till Dawn Film will continue as the child studio for low-budget films of Burning Empire Media, but also now double as an internet publication. Funding is tight right now. Think we’ll start with a five star system as well. What shall our first movie be?