Cinepub


Documental: Winnebago Man by Jamie

I’ve said it before, the internet is probably the greatest thing mankind has ever created that isn’t directly responsible for saving lives. It allows for almost instant communication, instant dissemination and sharing of news and information and, of course, mountains and mountains of pornography. So much pornography. It also unites people across borders through that most simple of pleasures, the humiliation of others.

Yes, for every internet success there is the other side. For every internet entrepenuer who has amassed billions of dollars, there are those who have become the subjects of ridicule because clips of them that they thought would never see the light of day have become viral video sensations. For every Mark Zuckerberg there is a Star Wars Kid or, indeed, a Winnebago Man. Who is the Winnebago Man? Well, hopefully this clip will clear that up. It is most certainly not safe for work…

That is the Winnebago Man. That clip of outtakes from a 1989 industrial film for the Winnebago company would become a viral video sensation thanks to copies of the original video tape being passed around and eventually reach millions more with the invention of YouTube. It would also become something of an obsession for a film maker by the name of Ben Steinbauer who became determined to find the star of the clip, a man by the name of Jack Rebney, a determination which would give rise to the documentary ‘Winnebago Man’.

He begins his search by investigating a number of avenues. He asks around people who have passed around copies of the tape in the first place and some crew members who worked on the original film. On this journey he also investigates the effect that the viral video had on individuals and on pop-culture in general, including a number of references to it in movies and TV shows. He also investigates the effect that a viral video can have on the often unwilling subjects such as the case of Aleksey Vayner whose boastful video resume ‘The Impossible is Possible’ became a viral hit much to the humiliation of Vayner himself. He apparently even received death threats via e-mail. Yes, the viral video world is not for the timid, which is a shame because often the star has no choice.

But what of the Winnebago Man? His obscenity-laced tirades certainly didn’t seem to indicate he was a timid man. Did he even know he was an internet star? Was he even still alive? After coming up with nothing but dead ends regarding Rebney’s current location, Steinbauer turned to a private investigator to hopefully shed some light on the subject. The PI found a number of post boxes in the man’s name and so the film maker decided to send a letter to each of them. Eventually, he got a response.

And so he got his chance to meet the man, the mystery, the enigma, the Winnebago Man himself, Jack Rebney. And he got to interview him and ask him what he knew about the video and all that. And he found Rebney to be an affable, charming old man, perhaps a little odd because he had become something of a hermit living alone in the mountains but other than that, a perfectly likeable older gentleman. So Steinbauer left after getting his footage, somewhat disappointed that even though Jack Rebney was still alive, it seemed as though the Winnebago Man was dead.

Then he got another message from Jack. In it he explained that he had basically put on a front for the camera and he was actually incredibly pissed off about his internet fame and the world he felt was falling into absolute disrepair. It turned out the foul-mouthed Winnebago Man was very much alive and so Steinbauer finally got his chance to meet him.

And that’s pretty much where I’ll leave the synopsis. I’ll just say that Jack is perhaps even more of the curmudgeon you’d expect him to be from the Winnebago Man clips. He’s sweary, angry and yet also strangely charming and seems able to switch between the two with the flip of a switch. His temper never really seems particularly malicious or at least not overly so. It’s just the way he reacts to the world around him. He views the fans of his outtake clips as a bunch of slack-jawed morons and can’t understand what they possibly enjoy about the video. This all comes to a head when he’s flown out to the Found Footage Festival in San Francisco and he’s brought face to face with his fans.

Now, Winnebago Man isn’t necessarily the most well made or most structured documentary in the world but I don’t think that’s really the fault of the film maker. I think it’s merely a side effect of making a film with a person like Jack Rebney, a man who seems completely unwilling to talk about himself or his past, for the most part, preferring instead to get his message about the evils in the world like Wal-Mart or Dick Cheney. He just seems like a difficult person to work with though ultimately a rewarding subject for the documentary. Throughout the whole film you can’t help but like Jack because, like I said, there doesn’t seem to be anything malicious behind his outbursts. That’s just who he is. The film also has one of the sweetest endings I’ve seen in sometime from a documentary and it honestly brought a few tears to my eyes.

If I had to compare it to another film I’d seen in recent times, I’d probably say ‘Best Worst Movie’ the documentary about the cult following of Troll 2 except kind of in reverse. In that film the main subject, George Hardy, is delighted by his fame and is eager to meet his fans. Jack Rebney, not so much. So all in all it’s an engaging documentary about an intriguing and interesting character but also a nice little study on this new world of viral video fame and how it effects their often unwilling or even unknowing stars. Four and a half pints out of five. Laterz.

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Review: Catfish by Jamie

I thought long and hard about whether or not to make this review spoiler free or not and, in the end, I came to the conclusion that not mentioning spoilers would make this film particularly difficult to write about so yes, there will be spoilers in this review. Due to the nature of this film I would heartily suggest that you go and watch the film before reading further. To make sure that you don’t accidentally read anything that will spoil the film for you, I’ll place a video underneath this paragraph.

Hahaha, that never gets old. Yes, there’s nothing quite as funny as a chimp sexually violating a frog. It’s true what they say, they’re so like us. Anyway, on with Catfish then. I assume that we’re all finally on the same page here, all having watched the film. If you decided to read on anyway without watching the film then I guess that’s up to you. I can’t stop you.

The film begins in New York when professional photographer Nev Schulman receives a painting of one of his pictures from Abby Pierce, an eight year old from Michigan. Nev begins an online friendship with Abby and, by exension, Abby’s family including Abby’s mother, Angela, Abby’s brother Joel and Abby’s older half-sister Megan who Nev takes quite a shine to as they chat online and via phone calls.

Nev’s brother Ariel and his friend Henry Joost begin documenting Nev’s relationship with the family, in particular his developing romance with Megan. It turns out that Abby isn’t the only artiste in the family and that Megan herself is quite the proficient dancer and prolific songwriter. She sends him copies of songs she has recorded and he is quite impressed. Impressed, that is, until he finds that the songs have pretty much been taking from YouTube videos. This leads to the guys investigating some of the other claims the family have made.

For example, Megan had claimed that they had purchased a gallery in order to hold shows for Abby’s work and had sent them pictures of the building. Through some online sleuthing they discover that the building is actually an old JC Penney’s which is actually still up for sale. Determined to find out the truth behind the story of the family, the filmmakers decide to head out to Michigan to confront the family.

The first place they head to is a horse ranch which Megan supposedly owns in the middle of the night, which actually turns out to be quite a creepy scene. Upon arriving they find that find that no one is there and there is certainly no sign of any horses. Furthermore an investigation of the mailbox reveals that it’s full of postcards which Nev had sent Megan on his travels proving once and for all that the British door-based letter slot is far superior than the American mailbox system.

The next morning the three guys decide to just show up at the family’s house. There they find that Angela and her husband doesn’t look anything like their Facebook pictures, Abby isn’t an artist, Megan is no where to be found and Angela is in fact a housewife who cares for two disabled sons and is the actual person behind the paintings. The filmmakers come to the conclusion that it is Angela who has essentially fabricated an entire life on Facebook, creating fictional profiles for a large network of family and friends and that she is, in fact, in love with Nev

Nev eventually gently confronts Angela about all this and the truth finally comes out. The last half hour or so of the film is spent basically interviewing Angela and her family in order to try and get some kind of handle of just who she is. It’s revealed through these interviews that she basically carried out the lie in order to vicariously experience a life she had given up on in order to have the family she has now. During most of her interviews, Angela is seen making a sketch of Nev. When everything is all over Nev returns to New York where he finally receives Angela‘s portrait of himself.

So yeah, that’s basically the film. And it’s a well told story with many interesting turns and twists and you never really lose interest but by far the biggest question surrounding this film is it’s veracity. Are the events pictured real or is it all an elaborate hoax. It does seem as though things play out so nicely that it’s almost unbelievable but I’ve let documentaries slide for that before, the fantastic ‘King of Kong’ being a good example.

Still, there’s something else that just drives me to believe that the whole thing is fabricated and that’s the way people speak, especially the three filmmakers. It just seems to me as though they are saying things that they had planned out and trying to make it sound natural. I’ll admit this could be simply due to the presence of a camera. I’ve seen people just talking about stuff and coming off completely differently simply because they are being filmed. Still, these guys just come off so unnatural to me that I have a hard time believing that the film is a true documentary.

There’s also a scene where they’re talking about chickens and apparently none of them knew that chickens lay one egg a day. Really? Are you shitting me? Who the fuck doesn’t know that? I know that they live in New York but surely they must have learnt that at some point in their lives. The whole thing, again, comes of as something written that they thought would be a wacky little conversation because seriously, I refuse to believe that there’s anyone who has heard of chickens that doesn’t know that they lay an egg a day. I mean Jesus fucking Christ!

Ahem. Whether or not the film is real there are a couple things that just rubbed me up the wrong way. The first is the unrepentant douchebaggery of the three main characters. They just seem so smug to me that I just found them genuinely annoying and I was kinda glad that they’d been played for fools. The second thing is the style of the film. Something about how heavily it relied on the internet imagery pissed me off as well. Yes, I understand it’s a documentary about people meeting and forming relationships over the internet but do I really need to see Google Maps every time they go travelling? And I swear this film had showed Facebook more fucking times than ‘The Social Network’ did. It just seemed as though they were saying “Look! The internet exists and we’re using it a lot in our movie! Aren’t we current and up to date!” It just irritated the hell out of me and I realise that’s more my problem than the films but still.

Despite these flaws, it is a interesting story, true or not, about the perils of relationships with strangers over the internet and one which is certainly relevant right now what with the release of ‘The Social Network’ and Mark Zuckerberg being name ‘Times’ man of the year. Yes, 2010 was the year of Facebook and ‘Catfish’ is another part of that. Overall I’ll give it 3 out of 5.



Catchin’ Up With Fred by Jamie
I’ve been in a bit of an odd mood lately compounded by money troubles, sleeping troubles and this oppressive heat. I’ve been trying to write a review of the original Karate Kid for the past week or so now and have found it incredibly difficult for some reason which has done nothing to improve my mood. So what can I possibly do to counter-act this terrible, stymied feeling? Well I can always check in with the internet’s most baffling celebrity, Fred. It is worth mentioning that Fred’s YouTube channel has now been set-up like a TV show featuring different seasons and numbered episodes. This infuriates me.
First some background. Fred Figglehorn was created by “actor” Lucas Cruikshank. I use quotation marks around the word actor there because if all it takes to be an actor is filming yourself acting like a retard, raise the pitch on the audio and post it to YouTube then everyone can be a fucking actor even Shia LaBoeuf.

Anyway the main premise is that Fred is a mentally-impaired six year old with a dysfunctional home life who goes on adventures and such. I assume he’s supposed to be mentally impaired. I see nothing to suggest otherwise. Fred’s voice is pitched higher and the videos sped up slightly in order to make Fred seem more like a six year old which seems odd because I’ve never seen or heard a six year old who looks and sounds like a chipmunk on a coke binge. I think the main point I’m trying to get across here is that Fred is the most terrible blight the internet has unleashed upon the world and I cannot understand why people seem to love him. Let’s look at the stats.

As of June 2010, the Fred channel has received over 85 million channel views, over 496 million video views since its launch, and over 1.7 million channel subscribers, it is listed as the number two all-time most subscribed YouTube channel. If all of that doesn’t make you want to vomit with terror then you’ve clearly never seen a Fred video. Oh internet, what happened to you? You used to be so fun with your video-game based web-comics and porn featuring things I could never get a woman to do in real life. We used to be best buds, you used to be cool man.

Ok folks, prepare yourself for the latest video in the terrifyingly annoying Fred saga, ‘Fred Goes Reporting’…

Hmmm, seems a little less frantic than the usual bullshit Fred sprays all over the internet but it was still fairly damn annoying. Remember folks, this is season 4. Four seasons of Fred screeching, yelling and just generally asking to be stabbed over and over again until his crimson juices flow…. I’m sorry, I got distracted. I have to admit though, I did laugh at this one for a second or so. The bit where he was rubbing the microphone over the cops face was kinda funny.

But still, look at the guy. He’s not an actor. Anyone can do what he does in these videos and I really hope the other people in this video were “actors” as well because no one needs to experience this asshole in real life, especially that cop. In fact the only reason I’m assuming that cop wasn’t real is because Fred wasn’t lying on the floor covered in nightstick wounds after the first two lines of that interview.

Also distressing is the request at the end requesting comments about people who remind you of Fred. I can assure Mr. Cruishank that anyone who reminds me of Fred died by my hands a long, long time ago and should we ever meet in real life you’ll likely meet a similar fate! Ok, maybe not but I probably wouldn’t talk to you and I certainly wouldn’t buy you a beer.

Anyway, onto the future. Fred: The Movie  <sigh> will air on Nickelodeon in August… which is actually a relief as it was originally going to get a theatrical release. Can you imagine an hour and a half of that cunt’s voice playing through fucking cinema speakers? Ugh, I just threw up in my own ears somehow.

Anyway, this has just been a short little thing to try and get me writing again and since I write better when I’m pissed off, I figured Fred would be a perfect subject… Probably not, actually, because there isn’t that much substance to it when you get down to it but I just enjoy hating on the guy so just give me this one and we’ll move on to whatever comes down the pipeline next, Ok? Good. So I’ll see you in August for my review of Fred: The Movie. Laterz.



Catchin' Up With Fred by Jamie
I’ve been in a bit of an odd mood lately compounded by money troubles, sleeping troubles and this oppressive heat. I’ve been trying to write a review of the original Karate Kid for the past week or so now and have found it incredibly difficult for some reason which has done nothing to improve my mood. So what can I possibly do to counter-act this terrible, stymied feeling? Well I can always check in with the internet’s most baffling celebrity, Fred. It is worth mentioning that Fred’s YouTube channel has now been set-up like a TV show featuring different seasons and numbered episodes. This infuriates me.
First some background. Fred Figglehorn was created by “actor” Lucas Cruikshank. I use quotation marks around the word actor there because if all it takes to be an actor is filming yourself acting like a retard, raise the pitch on the audio and post it to YouTube then everyone can be a fucking actor even Shia LaBoeuf.

Anyway the main premise is that Fred is a mentally-impaired six year old with a dysfunctional home life who goes on adventures and such. I assume he’s supposed to be mentally impaired. I see nothing to suggest otherwise. Fred’s voice is pitched higher and the videos sped up slightly in order to make Fred seem more like a six year old which seems odd because I’ve never seen or heard a six year old who looks and sounds like a chipmunk on a coke binge. I think the main point I’m trying to get across here is that Fred is the most terrible blight the internet has unleashed upon the world and I cannot understand why people seem to love him. Let’s look at the stats.

As of June 2010, the Fred channel has received over 85 million channel views, over 496 million video views since its launch, and over 1.7 million channel subscribers, it is listed as the number two all-time most subscribed YouTube channel. If all of that doesn’t make you want to vomit with terror then you’ve clearly never seen a Fred video. Oh internet, what happened to you? You used to be so fun with your video-game based web-comics and porn featuring things I could never get a woman to do in real life. We used to be best buds, you used to be cool man.

Ok folks, prepare yourself for the latest video in the terrifyingly annoying Fred saga, ‘Fred Goes Reporting’…

Hmmm, seems a little less frantic than the usual bullshit Fred sprays all over the internet but it was still fairly damn annoying. Remember folks, this is season 4. Four seasons of Fred screeching, yelling and just generally asking to be stabbed over and over again until his crimson juices flow…. I’m sorry, I got distracted. I have to admit though, I did laugh at this one for a second or so. The bit where he was rubbing the microphone over the cops face was kinda funny.

But still, look at the guy. He’s not an actor. Anyone can do what he does in these videos and I really hope the other people in this video were “actors” as well because no one needs to experience this asshole in real life, especially that cop. In fact the only reason I’m assuming that cop wasn’t real is because Fred wasn’t lying on the floor covered in nightstick wounds after the first two lines of that interview.

Also distressing is the request at the end requesting comments about people who remind you of Fred. I can assure Mr. Cruishank that anyone who reminds me of Fred died by my hands a long, long time ago and should we ever meet in real life you’ll likely meet a similar fate! Ok, maybe not but I probably wouldn’t talk to you and I certainly wouldn’t buy you a beer.

Anyway, onto the future. Fred: The Movie  <sigh> will air on Nickelodeon in August… which is actually a relief as it was originally going to get a theatrical release. Can you imagine an hour and a half of that cunt’s voice playing through fucking cinema speakers? Ugh, I just threw up in my own ears somehow.

Anyway, this has just been a short little thing to try and get me writing again and since I write better when I’m pissed off, I figured Fred would be a perfect subject… Probably not, actually, because there isn’t that much substance to it when you get down to it but I just enjoy hating on the guy so just give me this one and we’ll move on to whatever comes down the pipeline next, Ok? Good. So I’ll see you in August for my review of Fred: The Movie. Laterz.




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