Don Hertzfeldt on blu-ray

Here's an opening gambit for you: Don Hertzfeldt is one of the greatest living American filmmakers. Yes, such an accolade is rarely foisted upon filmmakers who specialise in short films and ostensibly crude stick-figure animations, but over the past two-decades Hertzfeldt has established himself as a filmmaker with a compulsive need to challenge our assumptions about cinema. Through his chosen delivery method of stick figures, his films hum (and scream) a deceptively wistful tune about life's absurdity and truly stretch the medium of film to its limits. But Hertzfeldt is also an independent filmmaker who works at home and makes his living through touring with his films and selling self-distributed DVD collections of his work. As you can imagine, it's hardly lucrative. So, uncertain when confronted by the increasingly fragmented reality of film consumption, and trying to extricate himself from the costs and complications of releasing physical media, Hertzfeldt made his latest short, World of Tomorrow (2015), available to rent through Vimeo. But fans began to ask whether a physical release was imminent, or whether any of his previous films, especially his first feature It's Such a Beautiful Day (2011), would be released on blu-ray.

He's clearly sick of hearing these questions, because he launched a Kickstarter campaign on Thursday to fund the limited run of a blu-ray featuring It's Such a Beautiful Day - which will also be colour corrected and remastered for HD - and World of Tomorrow. At this point, I'm almost certain that the majority of Hertzfeldt's admirers are aware of this, and his campaign reached its target in six hours so it's not exactly urgent, but it still bears reporting for a number of reasons. First, it's just an excuse to discuss Don Hertzfeldt and, ideally, turn some people to his work; second, this blu-ray may not be available in stores, with the Kickstarter essentially functioning as a means through which Hertzfeldt can gauge demand, meaning the only way to get the disc is with a $20 contribution to the project; third, the disc only gets better as more money is contributed, right now enough money has been raised for the films Rejected (2000) and The Meaning of Life (2005) to be remastered for HD and added to the disc, and there's the prospect of further films being added; and fourth, any surplus will go into funding his future films, which is incredibly important for an independent filmmaker. So, yeah, I'd recommend funding the project if you have the money available to you.

Spider-Man may have found its Scriber-Men!

First, yes I'm aware that I misused the word 'scriber', but it was in the service of a justifiably terrible joke and I apologise for nothing. Second, in news that will inspire precisely nobody, John Francis Daley (Sam Weir in Freaks and Geeks!) and Jonathan Goldstein are in talks to write Sony's latest Spider-Man reboot, scheduled for 2017. Yes, that's right, the writing partnership behind such middling comedies as Horrible Bosses (2011), The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013) and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013) has been chosen by Sony to resuscitate the problem Spider-Man franchise, because two wrongs so often make a right. Okay, maybe that's slightly unfair, they also wrote and (for the first time) directed the imminent National Lampoon's Vacation (1983) sequel Vacation (2015), which retains any benefit of the doubt because it's not due for release until August 21st in the UK and could by all means be good. Maybe Sony saw something there, enough to think that Daley and Goldstein could positively contribute to Untitled Spider-Man Reboot - even though Sony had already considered them as potential directors and passed, opting instead for Jon Watts, the director of modest Sundance success Cop Car (2015).

Still, even if Vacation substantiates the unlikely possibility that their screenplays have been misinterpreted by lousy directors, the official confirmation of Daley and Goldstein would surely dishearten those clamouring for Sony to get Spider-Man right. I mean, how will they adapt to the unfamiliar idiom of blockbuster entertainment when they've been so spectacularly mediocre in their specialist field of comedy? How will they make good on producer (and Marvel Studios President) Kevin Fiege's promises of a John Hughes-esque high school soap opera when they've only worked on unremarkable R-rated comedies and a disappointing children's film? These questions don't yield encouraging answers. But maybe that's the point, maybe Sony have purposefully employed inexperienced and therefore malleable screenwriters who are more likely to accept Kevin Fiege's orders and the inevitable uncredited rewrites. After all, even though Sony retain financial and creative control over the film,­ it will be a co-production with Marvel Studios (meaning that Peter Parker, played by Tom Holland, will finally appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), and they're demonstrated remarkable aptitude when it comes to hiring people willing to perpetuate the house style. I mean, just look at the directors of You, Me and Dupree (2006), they're doing well for themselves in the Marvel house.

Disney is Developing a Live-Action Aladdin (1992) Prequel called Genies.

It's hard to give a flying fuck about Genies when Disney is so committed to announcing at least two live-action remakes and/or spin-offs every month. I used to think that their monopoly over the dominant cultural trends of nostalgia - owning as they do Marvel, LucasFilm, the rights to most of your favourite childhood animations, and more - was in equal parts fascinating and terrifying. Fascinating just to comprehend their assembly of this empire, but terrifying to witness them exploiting it as much as possible. But now it's just kind of boring.

I mean, over the past year or so, Disney has announced live-action films based on (deep breath): Beauty and the Beast (1992), The Jungle Book(1967), Pinocchio (1940), the character of Winnie the Pooh, Mulan (1998), Pete's Dragon (1977), Dumbo (1941), A Night on Bald Mountain from Fantasia (1940), and the character of Tinkerbell. Now we can add Genies, which will inevitably lead to a live-action remake of Aladdin. This strategy is based on the cynical but nonetheless true assumption that, if you loved it as a child, you're bound to see it as an adult. And if you have children of your own, even better! You can take them and indoctrinate them in the cult of Disney too! Then, when they have kids, and Disney have mined their library of live-action remakes and made new virtual reality features or whatever, the cycle can continue! Anyway, Genies will be written by, uh, Friday the 13th (2009) and Freddy vs. Jason (2003) scribes Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, and Tripp Vinson will produce. But none of that really matters when we'll all flock to the cinema to see it regardless.


The Weekly Regurgitation

- I essentially dedicated an entire edition of Reel Talk to Cary Fukunaga leaving New Line's adaptation of Stephen King's It. I'm dedicating a few sentences to the news that Mama (2013) director Andrés Muschietti will be replacing him. Read between the lines and I think you'll discover how I feel about this. (The Hollywood Reporter)

- 20th Century Fox, CBS Films and Lionsgate are each developing films about the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, and the latter's film, Stronger, found a director this week in Joe (2013) director David Gordon Green. (The Hollywood Reporter)

- Apparently there's a popular young adult novel called Stargirl, and Catherine Hardwicke, director of Twilight (2008), will be directing the adaptation for BCDF Pictures. (Variety)

- Spike Lee's new joint, Chi-raq (2015) will also be the first joint produced and distributed by Amazon Pictures, and it will be given a brief theatrical run in December, in order for it to qualify for the 2016 Academy Awards. This strategy of brief theatrical runs will also apply to their other films. (Variety)

- Kahlil Joseph - the man behind, among other things,that amazing short film set to snippets from Flying Lotus' Until the Quiet Comes - has been working on a documentary about Arcade Fire called The Reflektor Tapes, and it will be released in October. (Official website)

- Michael Cera has fulfilled his destiny by signing on to voice Robin in Lego Batman (2017). (The Hollywood Reporter)