Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Kevin Smith skips traditional theatrical release for horror thriller 'Red State'

I've been intrigued for a while at the innovative distribution model cult movie director Kevin Smith has been using to promote his latest film, horror flick "Red State."

He kicked things off by forgoing an initial theatrical release, taking the film on tour and charging 50 bucks to see the film and get a Q&A with Smith. Smith's well known as a raconteur, doing sold out Q&A's for years. He went on to launch an online podcast network, then an online radio network with daily shows he personally hosts.

Now he's trying something else with "Red State" – skipping theaters altogether. It's a fascinating move for someone with nine theatrical releases to his name, eight which he wrote himself. His previous releases all made millions, with his last movie earning the most at $45 million.

He's offering "Red State" via video-on-demand beginning Labor Day weekend for 10 bucks. He's following that up with a one-night-only screening in theaters with a live stream of a Q&A and a podcast taping to the theaters that show it.

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Surprisingly Great: Fast Five - No, really

I'm not a movie snob. I'll go see a wacky comedy or the big new superhero action flick. However, this weekend I encountered something that befuddled my expectations: Fast Five.

I had never previously seen a Fast & The Furious franchise film. I dismissively thought that these movies and the gazillions of dollars they make time and again weren't for me.

This weekend I had a family event, though, and my mom offered me two options of films she wanted to see: Fast Five or Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. I looked them up on my phone and went with the one with the higher Rotten Tomatoes score.

And boy was that ever the right choice. Friends, this is a capital-A-action movie. It's not often that you go to the movies and see a stunt/set piece that isn't similar to one you've seen in dozens of other movies, but I thought there were bits in this that genuinely surprised me.

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Johnny Depp agrees with you that the Pirates of the Caribbean movies don't make any sense

In a cover story interview with Entertainment Weekly, Johnny Depp says that even he found the movies a bit confusing.

"I remember talking to [director Gore Verbinski] at certain points during production of 2 or 3, and saying: 'I don't really know what this means.' He said, 'Neither do I, but let's just shoot it.'"

As Vulture puts it, "If those movies eventually made sense in postproduction, Depp admits he wouldn't know it," as Depp says he saw the first one but hasn't gotten around to watching the other two.

Well, now it's time to make it a quadrilogy; the fourth movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, opens May 20.

Will other movies coming out this summer where sequels weren't clearly planned initially make sense in the end? We'll have to go see X-Men: First Class, the Hangover Part II and Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon to find out.

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500 Pixar movie scenes in 7 minutes

This video takes 500 shots, culled from all 11 Pixar feature films, to produce this loving tribute:

Oh, so that's why we have the Internet.

Copperfield explains the tribute:

"Pixar's films have always been very important in my life. I was 6 years old when I watched Toy Story the first time, and their films made my childhood more happy. So this video is a personal tribute for, in my opinion, the best animation studio of all time."

It was produced by Brazil's Leandro Copperfield. Vimeo deleted the video due to copyright concerns, but YouTube's decided thus far to let it fly. Read Copperfield's response to the video being taken down from Vimeo here.

What's your favorite Pixar movie? Let us know in the comments.

(via the Ebert Club)

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Does Zack Snyder's 'Sucker Punch' work?

I went to see Zack Snyder's "Sucker Punch" Saturday night. I've been curious about the movie for almost two years now. I first heard about it in July 2009, when, after a screening of the director's cut of "Watchmen," Snyder gave out Sucker Punch T-shirts to everyone in attendance.

Snyder's made a name for himself by directing material created by others. His first major film was 2007's "Dawn of the Dead," a remake of the George A. Romero zombie classic. Snyder followed that with "300" in 2007 and "Watchmen" in 2009, both adaptations of critically acclaimed comic books. He most recently took on an animated movie, "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole," based on a children's book.

For the first time, Snyder took his own original story and brought it to life in "Sucker Punch." How did it turn out? If you're to believe scores from review aggregators Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, not too well - 21% and 35%, respectively. It also underperformed at the box office, making just over $19 million its first weekend and coming in second to "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules."

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