Killer Bean Forever
November 14, 2007 12:57 PM   Subscribe

Jeff Lew, the lead animator on Matrix Reloaded, has after 4 long years of 14 hour days and 7 day work weeks finally completed his masterpiece: Killer Bean Forever. This is a momumental follow-up to the previous two short films, which were impressive projects on their own.
posted by ducksauce (103 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's monumental, too. When my eyes start getting tired, the m's are always the first to go.
posted by ducksauce at 12:58 PM on November 14, 2007


the m's are always the first to go

So these guys have a cameo in which they die? I'm so there.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 1:05 PM on November 14, 2007


Why beans?
posted by inconsequentialist at 1:10 PM on November 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Meh.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:11 PM on November 14, 2007


I would have told him not to quit his day job but I guess I'm too late.
posted by mkb at 1:14 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Really?


Beans?
posted by Pecinpah at 1:15 PM on November 14, 2007


what a stinker.
posted by Stynxno at 1:20 PM on November 14, 2007


Ditto, BP.
Derivative concept, poor character design, okay, if unremarkable, CG. Your basic college demo reel.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:22 PM on November 14, 2007


Is there some way we could over-think this? I'm thinking yes, but I did not see a plate. Was there a subtext there?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:25 PM on November 14, 2007


Wow, it looks like a bunch of cliches jammed together with some inexpressive CG characters and wooden, stereotypical acting.

And what did he max out his credit cards on? Just paying for food, rent, etc, while he worked? Or what? Voice Actors (he ought to demand a refund if that's the case)?

I always hear these stories of "I work so hard, I slaved for my ART" and the end result is always, so, mediocre...
posted by delmoi at 1:25 PM on November 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


Does he use the jumpy time-stops spinny kick thing? Because that is so awesome I could see it used any number of times...
posted by Artw at 1:28 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


The spirit of Comic Book Guy is strong in this thread.
posted by elphTeq at 1:29 PM on November 14, 2007 [6 favorites]


Decaffeinated.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:30 PM on November 14, 2007


Why's his name Bean if everyone in the world is a bean? "He's a man named ... Killer Man."
posted by Bookhouse at 1:32 PM on November 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


4 long years of 14 hour days and 7 day work weeks

What a grind.
posted by Curry at 1:33 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why are there no lady beans?

wait, oh my god, are they supposed to be testicles?!
posted by fleetmouse at 1:33 PM on November 14, 2007


Inexpressive is the keyword here.

Did he choose beans simply because they are easy to animate and he could focus more on guns and less on, you know, actual characterization?
posted by dead_ at 1:34 PM on November 14, 2007


Did he choose beans simply because they are easy to animate and he could focus more on guns and less on, you know, actual characterization?

Makes sense. That was why they chose Keanu, after all.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 1:40 PM on November 14, 2007 [6 favorites]


*sigh* too bad, so much effort and money put into it, it seems like kicking a small puppy to point out the underwhelming aspect of it, and this is only a preview, you know the part that is suppose to make you go "yeah I want to see that!", I guess the puppy peed on the carpet and might need a little foot nudge after all.
posted by edgeways at 1:43 PM on November 14, 2007


Jeez Christ, this place has a bunch of assholes. (Not the jokers, but the criticizers.) The fact that this guy worked by himself for four years to produce this movie is incredible. No, it's not Pixar's Ratatouille, and in an absolute sense, it probably won't be a great film, or even a good film. But his courage and willpower is still amazing and commendable. Those commenters who do not recognize this are of the worst kind of critic: the consumer critic that consumes and rejects, rather than recognizes and re-creates. Heck, Baudrillard's probably turning over in his grave because I called some of you guys a critic.

That aside, it's a testament to the visual comfortability and ubiquity of CG that we can now, in 2007, look at this and say that the quality of the CG is "meh" and "unremarkable". I mean, this is what Pixar was making 20 years ago. It's incredible to see these bottom-up, user-based productions achieving a sense of finished, professional (visual) quality. Perhaps in 10 or 20 years the development in technology will completely eliminate the cost-differences between between bottom-down industry creators and bottom-up amateurs; that's when that generation then will be really creating content, rather than sitting on couches and consuming it like its parents do now, instead.
posted by suedehead at 1:49 PM on November 14, 2007 [9 favorites]


Did I say Baudrillard? I meant to say Baudelaire.
posted by suedehead at 1:50 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


suedehead - Knick Knack kicks the arse off of this shit.

Sorry, it's just not good, and in ways that have little to do with technical capabilities.
posted by Artw at 2:00 PM on November 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


The assumption is, if you spend that much time and money you are going to get a good film, your aim is not to end up with something you've done before only a little slicker. The criticisms put forth here are mostly spot on. And looking at the other two films he made I just want to shake my head at the repetition of essentially a one joke concept. For fuck sakes, Aardman can create more sense of expression out of an eyebrow ridge then what is seen in the entirety of these three clips. I admit I can't do what he did, but I bet you with the same amount of time and money I could. This is not distinguisable from anything else.
There might just be a reason this fellow was working under somebody and not heading his own animation studio, with a good script and someone directing him Lew may well have made something decent, but just because you have some skill in an area doesn't make you qualified to tackle the whole enchilada.
posted by edgeways at 2:01 PM on November 14, 2007


As a short, I'd say it would be worth seeing for free on the internets. Paying to see it in a theatre? Not so much. Still I liked his Party/Killer Bean short.
posted by Debaser626 at 2:02 PM on November 14, 2007


Meh. About The Matrix.. I thought Matrix Reloaded was awesome until Matrix Revolutions came out. That was a big let down. All those questions in Reloaded, the first half of a two-part movie, and then Revolutions comes out and basically leaves it all just as murky as before, with more layers of complete bullshit layered on top. Fuckin bullshit!
posted by autodidact at 2:02 PM on November 14, 2007


the consumer critic that consumes and rejects, rather than recognizes and re-creates

I don't have to be a self-proclaimed professional artist to know that what I'm looking at isn't all that great. I simply place the work in the context of what I've already seen.

I mean, this is what Pixar was making 20 years ago.

Perhaps that's the point? 20 years ago is a long time in the computer animation world.

And the sound and story were kinda bland, as well.

I really hate to just toss someone's hard work in the bin, but there are much better efforts coming out of SIGGRAPH reels in the last five years than this — across the board: story, animation, sound.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:03 PM on November 14, 2007


Animation is an artform, not an engineering project, IMHO.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:04 PM on November 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Impressive that he put in the time for his personal vision, disappointing that it isn't more noteworthy as an end product.
posted by bullitt 5 at 2:04 PM on November 14, 2007


Did I say Baudrillard? I meant to say Baudelaire.

Uhhhhh... name two dead Frenchmen who shouldn't be dragged into a discussion of armed legumes?
posted by fleetmouse at 2:12 PM on November 14, 2007


I think he'll have a tough time selling the film; the characters are too cute and hammy for teens, the violence and gunplay too intense for kids. Who's left?

I do applaud his effort, though.
posted by shino-boy at 2:14 PM on November 14, 2007


Artw - I completely agree about Knick Knack. I'm not disagreeing with what everybody's saying about the quality of the film. I'm saying that to criticize this thing without taking the creator's intent or mission in mind is something that a strict consumer does. I'm saying that the abyss between consumers and creators seems to be so great that the majority of us on MetaFilter can sit back and say, "CG is worse than this movie, and the jokes suck because I heard better jokes in that other movie."

I don't have to be a self-proclaimed professional artist to know that what I'm looking at isn't all that great. I simply place the work in the context of what I've already seen.
This is kind of my point.

I guess what I mean is that we've been spoiled to expect a certain level of quality from our entertainment. When a labor of love comes along that looks and smells incredibly like this entertainment, it's so easy to criticize it based on the prior expectations we had, for a piece of work that was funded differently and created differently. This thing is not the entertainment that we know; it's something different altogether. To not understand the distinction is like (pardon the bad simile) someone who doesn't care whether their cookies are from Pepperidge Farm or homemade by their mother, as long as it tastes good.

I guess I'd just like more people to think this way.
posted by suedehead at 2:18 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Or, more apt: it's like saying that the cookies you bought at the store taste better than the salty cookies that someone's daughter made.
posted by suedehead at 2:21 PM on November 14, 2007


Well, Jesus, she spent four years making them and blew her life savings, they ought to be better than Chips Ahoy.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:25 PM on November 14, 2007 [10 favorites]


For homemade cookies, these cookies suck.
posted by Artw at 2:25 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dude maxes out his finances on a lame vanity project and we're supposed to give it a pity smile just because? If he releases the whole thing for free just to celebrate his art, maybe your case holds up. But as it is, he's trying to sell it. So Killer Bean IS the store bought cookie. Assuming it gets distributed. Because it isn't very good. Needs more salt.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:31 PM on November 14, 2007


Also these are not just homemade cookies, these are homemade cookies from the kitchen of a guy who worked on [cookie equivalent of the matrix], so he ought to know what he's doing - but they still suck!
posted by Artw at 2:33 PM on November 14, 2007


Am I alone in thinking he was being sarcastic about the time/money he put into this?
posted by nzero at 2:34 PM on November 14, 2007


Has-bean
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:35 PM on November 14, 2007


(kicks over lemondade stand)
posted by Artw at 2:35 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: cookie equivalent of the matrix.
posted by CynicalKnight at 2:36 PM on November 14, 2007


Ooo, I always wondered what a mashup of Veggie Tales and "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" would look like.

Yep, you have to wonder what audience would pay to see this. There's a reason, maybe, movies are made with teams. "Great animation! The characters ... not so much."
posted by sacre_bleu at 2:37 PM on November 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


I just read the trivia page, and now I have this sinking feeling that he wasn't being sarcastic...
posted by nzero at 2:37 PM on November 14, 2007


For the past 4 years, I've been working at my computer 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. I've spent my entire life savings and maxed out credit cards.

That's just sad.
posted by Reggie Digest at 2:39 PM on November 14, 2007


I don't see us geting a lot of use out of the JeffLew tag in future...
posted by Artw at 2:40 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


When a labor of love comes along that looks and smells incredibly like this entertainment

Yes, this is the problem. It's just re-iterating Hollywood/mass-market humor and values, only not nearly as well. I'm a little little icky about someone's personal project simply mirroring what we already get from the L.A fun factories.

Contrast this short with something like Rejected, which makes use of the fact that the author is beholden to no-one to craft an at turns wry, tasteless, shocking, immature, hilarious, surreal, and, ultimately, personal take on animation.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 2:45 PM on November 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


This is kind of my point.

There is nothing added, in my opinion, to the quality of my value judgement about Killer Bean Forever from knowing how Blender works — the final product would be equally as weak, from a creative standpoint.

Technical faults are another matter — you could argue that expertise would be required for criticism on that basis. For example, I suppose I could find fault with shading on a scene, that sort of thing — but knowing what shading is and how it is used requires knowledge.

But beyond a proof-of-concept exercise, technology is not really what a feature animation film is about.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:47 PM on November 14, 2007


I think the cookie equivalent of the Matrix is the cookie the Oracle gave to Neo. That scene always makes me want cookies.
posted by autodidact at 2:49 PM on November 14, 2007


That said, if he'd done it on an Amiga 1000 back in 1987 I would have been well impressed.
posted by Artw at 2:49 PM on November 14, 2007


Let me explain with a concrete example: the waltz scene in Beauty and the Beast isn't a classic because computer animation was used, or because Disney animators spent days and nights on the scene. It's a classic because the computer animation used is so expressive and, with the music and writing adds to the narrative well beyond the sum of their parts.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:51 PM on November 14, 2007


I am better than your kids
posted by Artw at 2:54 PM on November 14, 2007


This thing is not the entertainment that we know; it's something different altogether.

See, I had the exact opposite reaction. The preview clip struggles mightily to deliver exactly what most moviegoers are used to: acrobatic fighting, snarky one-liners, sensuous pans of "sexy" mechanical items (cars, guns, etc.). It feels motivated not by an artistic vision, but by the desire to create something that is just like every other action movie out there -- except in CG, and with beans instead of people!

I do applaud the guy for assembling a feature like this on his own, which was obviously a huge undertaking. But I don't want to see it.
posted by brain_drain at 2:57 PM on November 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


But beyond a proof-of-concept exercise, technology is not really what a feature animation film is about.

I completely agree. Whatever statements I made about CG and Pixer are an aside; I'm not saying that the quality of the work depends on the quality of the CG.

Yes, this is the problem. It's just re-iterating Hollywood/mass-market humor and values, only not nearly as well. I'm a little little icky about someone's personal project simply mirroring what we already get from the L.A fun factories.

That's how I feel as well, although rather than mirroring these values, I think he actually does believe in these values; that is, this humor is of his own. After all, he's apparently been working on Killer Bean for, what, 8 years?

The cookie example is a really bad one; I should have said a car, or a house, or something else that is traditionally a product of economies of scale and mass-market demand. Say, a kid making a Boeing 747 from scratch -- and it doesn't fly.
posted by suedehead at 2:58 PM on November 14, 2007


Exactly, Jon Mitchell (and on preview, brain_drain). Just because this project was a so-called "labor-of-love" doesn't mean it isn't commercial in nature.

Lovingly hand-crafted pablum isn't miraculously special just for the effort. Glen or Glenda, this ain't.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:00 PM on November 14, 2007


nzero : Am I alone in thinking he was being sarcastic about the time/money he put into this?

Not at all. This is one of those things that smells like a trailer to a fake movie. Like the trailer itself is the project.

Which would probably be a good thing, if true. Killer Bean 2 was great when it was new. It was clever, and it showed a lot of animation prowess. (Now it looks quite dated, but that is for a different discussion...) This as a short is neat, as a full length feature would undoubtedly be painful.

And besides, if you are going to make a feature out of an animated short, you gotta go with the 'what the mother-fuck!' angry ass-kicking monk.
posted by quin at 3:00 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


what shut
posted by quin at 3:02 PM on November 14, 2007


I'd see it if I were a fan of the bad-guys-vs.-worse-guys/ snarks&guns genre. Maybe if I were still 17 or something. I liked the trailer OK, though.
posted by pax digita at 3:04 PM on November 14, 2007


The cookie example is a really bad one;

But is it a home-made metaphor or a professional metaphor? Did someones kid make it?
posted by Artw at 3:06 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Say, a kid making a Boeing 747 from scratch -- and it doesn't fly.

The problem I'm having with your analogies, suedehead, is that this isn't some kid building a toy in his basement, either. This guy was a successful Hollywood animator. Using state-of-the-art technology. How is he an underdog? Except that he can't seem to convince anyone - including any of us, apparently - that this was a good idea.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:07 PM on November 14, 2007


I hadn't considered the idea that maybe there is no 85 minute movie. Maybe all that talk about four years and all his money wasted is really just an ironic way to hype the real project, which is what we've all just watched. That would make sense to me.
posted by autodidact at 3:14 PM on November 14, 2007


I was hooked with the "dramatic entrance" line. The idea that killer bean was insecure of his abilities. That's someone we can root for.

Then it went nowhere - and to be a hater - kinda reminded me of cut scenes in computer games.
posted by meech at 3:15 PM on November 14, 2007


I'm sorta hoping his film turns out to be an underground success because he put so much effort into its creation. But it's not for me or anyone I know.
posted by inconsequentialist at 3:16 PM on November 14, 2007


If spending a lot of time and effort on something was an accurate measure of its value, religion would be based on porn.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:19 PM on November 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Seems a little over thought.
posted by Citizen Premier at 3:22 PM on November 14, 2007


Then it went nowhere - and to be a hater - kinda reminded me of cut scenes in computer games.

You know, I hate joining the hate, and I absolutely despise being a hater. But that was exactly what I thought.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:24 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


What this all is is the backstory—crushed dreams, rejection, tragic implosion—for nascent supervillain The Animator. Jeff Lew is going to kill us all, and he's going to spend four years and his other life savings doing it.
posted by cortex at 3:32 PM on November 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


> It's just re-iterating Hollywood/mass-market humor and values, only not nearly as well. I'm a little little icky about someone's personal project simply mirroring what we already get from the L.A fun factories.

On the other hand, that seven and a half minutes now spares me from having to watch the last few Jet Li flicks, and I appreciate that.
posted by ardgedee at 3:45 PM on November 14, 2007


He should've made the bad guys lima beans. Then kids would flock to see his movie, because kids hate lima beans, right? And Killer Bean should have a british sidekick - White Bean. Voiced by Rowan Atkinson, of course. That'd attract further movie goers. And also, Killer Bean should have a spiritual leader, Mung Bean. And the leading lady? An azuki bean, maybe. Throw in a couple of tomatoes as a wink-wink-nudge-nudge to the cult enthusiasts and the stew is done.

Diversify and reach a broader audience! Sure, having all your leading men look the same worked for the California Raisins back in 1874 or whenever they were popular, but this is the 21st century (unless I'm mistaken)! People do not want coffee beans and only coffee beans, just look at Starbucks!
posted by soundofsuburbia at 3:51 PM on November 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


kinda reminded me of cut scenes in computer games.

It reminded you of bad cutscenes in computer games. There have been some genuinely wonderful ones.

I hate always going on about ICO, as it was 6 years ago, and it's a shame a new touchstone hasn't come along, but the cutscenes in that were flawlessly animated, tasteful, and touching.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 4:00 PM on November 14, 2007


Yes, soundofsuburbia, that was another issue I found myself mystified by. There seemed to be no overall point or play around the fact that these were beans. Either make that an integral part of the story, or at least acknowledge the internal logic. Where were the other vegetables, legumes, roots, foods? Every character looked exactly the same, identifiable only by their uniforms and accents. But how many minutes of thought did it take you to make it interesting?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:04 PM on November 14, 2007


Jeez Christ, this place has a bunch of assholes. (Not the jokers, but the criticizers.) The fact that this guy worked by himself for four years to produce this movie is incredible. No, it's not Pixar's Ratatouille, and in an absolute sense, it probably won't be a great film, or even a good film.

Oh for fuck's sake. Filmmaking is a collaborative effort.
posted by phaedon at 4:05 PM on November 14, 2007


1 - It's more like someone who helped develop Boeing 747s making their own, smaller plane to sell to a smaller market. But, as you said, it doesn't fly. That is not an airplane that I want to ride in.

2 - Because it doesn't fly, is the thing.

3 - I've loved many of the things linked above as comparisons -- especially Nick Park / Aardman and Don Hertzfelt. But the closest comparison I can think of is Adam Phillips, who did 2D work for Disney (Special Effects Animation) but left to pursue his own independent flash animation; most notably the rich world of Brackenwood.

4 - What I think the pile-on here is really about is not just a matter of personal taste. Obviously, if most of us here just plain liked what we saw we'd be cheering him on a lot more, and probably making more of a positive point of his having made it independently. That's just a matter of taste and there's no accounting for it. But I think the backlash here is really fundamentally because Metafilter Does Not Like Being Told What To Like.
This same video was linked over at Reddit and it enjoyed some time at the top of the page (as the "most up-voted link in the last xxx hours" or whatever), partly because tastes are a little different there, but also because people wanted to vote it up to encourage the guy for making his own movie 'outside the system'. Metafilter readers get the same link with more-or-less the same pitch, and they feel like they're being guilt-tripped into liking something, so they want to push back, and explain in great detail why they don't like it.

But I may be wrong, or just overthinking it. (sorry)
posted by churl at 4:16 PM on November 14, 2007


Well, you know, it's an awful lot of work to make a feature. You have to give the guy credit for making an entire movie by himself. That's a pretty recent reality. I think the idea of the auteur film maker, much like a painter or a novelist, sitting and working on his art for years is pretty great, and there is the potential there to have great works of art come out of it.

The problem here, it seems to me, and this is true of *most* independent films, is that perhaps this film just wasn't stretching the boundaries of what's possible when it's one person's vision.

I applaud the effort, but, at least from the trailer, it doesn't look too impressive. Maybe the final work will be better... who knows?

But let's not forget that yearly there are *thousands* of tiny independent films made in the US. It's not like the early 90s, when there were really just a handful. Cheap digital technology has made it possible for *thousands* of people to make films now that never would have had the opportunity to have been made before.

Unfortunately, most of them suck, and will never see any kind of meaningful distribution.

I wish this guy the best of luck. It's very tough to do what he's done.
posted by MythMaker at 4:19 PM on November 14, 2007


Oh for fuck's sake. Filmmaking is a collaborative effort.

I think what phaedon is trying to say is that just because you can make a film by yourself doesn't mean you...ought 'er.

I'm very, very sorry for that.
posted by cortex at 4:20 PM on November 14, 2007


There are plenty of people with very expensive personal hobbies and art projects out there, unfortunately it's this person's fault that he tried to sell us its awesomeness through presentation which of course incurs snark.
posted by Stan Chin at 4:23 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why shouldn't you make a film by yourself? People make music by themselves, paint paintings, write books...

The main reason why film making is collaborative is it is *so much work* that you have to have multiple people doing all the jobs, otherwise it takes too long. 4 man-years to make an animated feature is pretty fast, relatively.
posted by MythMaker at 4:25 PM on November 14, 2007


Metafilter: as murky as before, with more layers of complete bullshit layered on top.
posted by zardoz at 4:25 PM on November 14, 2007


It was ugly, boring, cliche, with stilted writing, bad one-liners, and a complete lack of female beans. And "Killer Bean" as the killer bean's name? Dumb.

Sorry, but I have to agree with teh haterz. Could have been a great "labour of love" story if it involved some actual artistic vision instead of the same old hackneyed shoot-em-up fare.
posted by arcticwoman at 4:33 PM on November 14, 2007


If only the bean looked more like an aging lesbian.
posted by jonson at 4:48 PM on November 14, 2007


And this is why the writer's strike needs to be sorted asap.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:49 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


See, because "ought 'er" is a pun on the word Aut

Oh, forget it.

posted by cortex at 4:53 PM on November 14, 2007


Alright, alright, my analogy's not that great. What I mean to say is that for every creation, there's the creator point-of-view, and the viewer point-of-view to things. As a viewer, I really do think it won't be that great. (Moreover, I think that part of the reason this has been running the Digg, Reddit meme-ish circles is that it immensely interests all crowds, including those who think that the movie is genuinely great or want to support him, and those who think it's bad, but are mesmerized by the backstory behind this guy, and how he used his life savings, how he maxed out his credit cards, etc.) From the creator point-of-view, what he did is amazing, considering the commitment, courage, belief, and willpower involved.

I'm saying that his creation is like a kid and his Boeing, because, of course, you wouldn't want to ride his plane if it didn't fly; you wouldn't want to be a consumer of Jeff Lew's creation. It seems that all of us don't want to watch it -- I don't, either. What I'm saying is that if all of our criticism concerning this work is only going to look at this from a point of the consumer, isn't that a sad state of affairs? This is part of a 'read-only' culture that, for example, Lawrence Lessig talks about, in which the interaction between the viewer and the content is one-way. This guy, although he has professional experience, is still going the other way on his own volition, creating his own piece. In short, he is a reader-writer, so to speak.

And in contrast to him, if we're sitting here saying "meh, derivative, mirroring values of Hollywood", those may all be true statements, but that doesn't change the fact that as consumer critics, we're never engaging with any of the work; we're just criticizing it, we are 'read-only' as well. Zadie Smith has this excellent interview where she talks about reading, and the involvement of the reader in the process of reading, almost like an amateur musician -- the idea that the "greatest principle is, 'I should sit here and I should be entertained.' " That's the image I get: that Metafilter does not like Killer Bean not because its members understand it to be an amazing achievement but recognize that it is unfortunately lacking in quality. Instead, Metafilter does not like Killer Bean because Metafilter sat, watched, and was not entertained.
posted by suedehead at 4:55 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


HI I'M ON METAFILTER AND I COULD OVERTHINK A MOVIE ABOUT BEANS.
posted by Alex404 at 5:01 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I so wanted to like it, but in the end I just feel sorry for the guy. I'm not sure a two-hour demo reel is going to help his career any.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:15 PM on November 14, 2007


I'm with the 'maybe the trailer is the product' camp here, because it troubles me to think that he could invest so much time, money, and energy into something so plain. As a trailer, it's just fine, and the beaniness is kinda unique and fun. If these are real excerpts from a completed feature-length labor of love, well, uh, A for Effort.

The most troubling thing is, didn't he show it to any of his industry friends to see what they thought? The storyboards? The character designs? Would they just not tell him the truth? Did no-one have the courage to say, "You know Jeff, maybe the bean thing would be a better side project, and I hear Imageworks is hiring...." Is it because he had no-one to show it to, or because he refused to show it to anyone until it was too late, or because he showed it to them and they applauded and lied to his face about it like a lucasfilm yes-man, or because people tried to talk him out of it and he refused to listen?

Does he have bad breath too? Will no-one tell Jeff Lew anything?

However, the fact that we are having this intense discussion given our history with beans is just too wonderful. If you engineered this, ducksauce, you are a genius. If not, it's still a great post.
posted by ulotrichous at 5:20 PM on November 14, 2007


I wish the guy luck.

As for questions of whether it's a real movie--clearly, it is, as the rest of the site shows. He says he's using four quad-core computers to do the rendering (which isn't outside the reach of someone who's even halfway committed to something like this: say $10,000 for four Mac Pros), and that he's spent his life savings and that of his wife as well.

One thing that comes through in the Killer Bean 2 short that doesn't (or can't possibly) come through in the trailer is that Lew is good at laying out action sequences. He carefully establishes the space that the fight's going to take place in, and makes sure that you're aware of its geometry before the fight begins. It's an old fashioned way of thinking of set pieces--these days most scenes like that in feature films have their continuity created in post-production, or dispense with continuity altogether. The short that quin linked has more detailed, expressive character models and a vibrant sense of style, but it's more or less a bunch of disconnected things that happen.

So maybe it might not be accurate to judge the entire film from the trailer. That said, I don't know that I'd pay $20 for a DVD--he might consider offering an inexpensive digital download of a .avi file, or something.
posted by Prospero at 5:25 PM on November 14, 2007



this is what Pixar was making 20 years ago. It's incredible to see these bottom-up, user-based productions achieving a sense of finished, professional (visual) quality

Yeah, but look at how expressive they made the snowman's face (not so much for the other characters). The beans show no emotion. And while the imagery is pretty it's not compelling, there is no emotional response, it's just gag after gag, cliche after cliché. The snowman thing is original.

I think he'll have a tough time selling the film; the characters are too cute and hammy for teens, the violence and gunplay too intense for kids. Who's left?

Kids would probably like it, just that their parents wouldn't let them see it. It comes across like a lazy kids movie with a lot of gratuities violence.

And the thing is, if he'd just said, yeah I worked on this in my spare time over the past few years what do you guys think? We'd all be like, "pretty cool" It's all about expectations.
--

suedehead: The problem has nothing to do with read/write culture or whatever. Maybe if he'd opened the thing up to a wiki/digg style script editing process the final product would have been better. He created something, and it sucked.

By the way Sky Capitan and the World of Tomorrow was all done by one person on their computer, and saw a theatrical release. They only brought big-name actors in at the end, when the studios realized they had something really great handed to them.

I only saw the trailer to that too, but it was a hell of a lot better then this.
posted by delmoi at 5:26 PM on November 14, 2007


Being entertained is not the sole criterion for judging this work harshly. I also was not intrigued, interested, challenged, educated, or emotionally moved. I was impressed by the effort involved, but that is it.

The proper response to watching the result of four years of the labor of Sisyphus shouldn't be awe or wonder, but pity.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:29 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


That's not true about Sky Captain. It started out as one guy with a computer, true, but, after 4 years of working on it, he'd only finished a few minutes of a trailer.

Then they got De Laurentiis to finance it. So at that point, it was not in any way one guy at home.

It's true that they put together anamatics of the film before shooting the main actors, but it wasn't a finished film.

It started as a similar thing to this, but an awful lot of money and other people's work went into the final project.
posted by MythMaker at 5:45 PM on November 14, 2007


I remember Jeff Lew from a few years ago. When the second part came out 5-6 years ago, I thought "meh" myself. The man ain't known in animation circles for storytelling.

But what Jeff Lew has is the ability to choreograph and edit a great fight scene. You should see some of his earlier tests before he got on this Bean kick. They are explosive, high energy fights. I think that's what largely got him the job on the second Matrix movie. The major fight scene in Matrix: Reloaded between Neo and the many Smiths was a joy to behold. The rest of that film and all of the third one were shite. His contribution to the second film was it's saving grace IMO.

He and Xiu Xiu have an uncanny way of animating fight scenes that is amazing to me.
posted by strontiumdog at 6:46 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Remember in grammar school, when you were graded on effort rather than actual accomplishment?

Yeah, neither do I.
posted by ook at 9:11 PM on November 14, 2007


ulotrichous: haha, thanks. I can't take credit for how this turned out, I was just trying to word the post as objectively as possible and hope some people found the backstory interesting. Personally I loved the short films. As for how this one looks... maybe someone can dub a better story into the soundtrack. It's not like you can read their lips.

When the comments thread first got started I thought Blazecock Pileon's comment was going to be par for the course, but then a lively debate sprang up. If most of you are uninterested in the film, at least you've gotten your entertainment value from this post's comments.
posted by ducksauce at 9:26 PM on November 14, 2007


That's the image I get: that Metafilter does not like Killer Bean not because its members understand it to be an amazing achievement but recognize that it is unfortunately lacking in quality. Instead, Metafilter does not like Killer Bean because Metafilter sat, watched, and was not entertained.

I am more than capable of enjoying and appreciating works that are not entertaining. I am not a Hollywood movie kind of person, I do not need to be constantly barraged by "entertainment." I did not like Killer Bean because I recognize that it is utterly lacking in quality. That is all.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:43 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I just think it sucks.
posted by Reggie Digest at 10:41 PM on November 14, 2007


Cute but meh.

Someone in junior high with parents who can afford to buy them computers and the software may do just as well.

Strugeon's Law: 90% of everything is crap.

Give more people means of producing, hey, sure there's more crap but there's more good stuff, too.
posted by porpoise at 11:32 PM on November 14, 2007


if all of our criticism concerning this work is only going to look at this from a point of the consumer, isn't that a sad state of affairs?

No, not really. Why should it be?

I might be more responsive to that argument if this work was trying to express some idea or concept, some individual point of view; if it was trying to be art. It's not. It's trying to be a popcorn action flick, only with beans.

The fact that the guy worked really hard at it, which I'm sure he did, or that he did it all on his own, which, y'know, good for him, doesn't make the work any better. If anything, it makes it all the more disappointing, that someone entirely free of collaborative and marketing constraints would still come up with something so bland and derivative.

We're not critiquing the guy, or his level of effort. We're critiquing the work. I don't care how long it takes to make a piece of art; if someone's talented enough to effortlessly make something brilliant, that doesn't make it less brilliant. If someone works really hard to make something crappy, that doesn't make it any less crappy.

I don't buy the distinction you're trying to draw between consumers and creators. I'm sure most of us here are both, to some degree. It's irrelevant. I'm a consumer of everybody's work except my own -- and so is everyone else. If someone were to judge some work of mine as "well, it's not very good, but look how hard he worked on it, hurrah, that makes it all better," I'd find that frankly demeaning.
posted by ook at 11:43 PM on November 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


Man, somebody should have told this guy that his other two short films were unmarketable trash before he wasted all that time and money. These would be -great- for a 4th-year animation student's final project, I guess... but they're not entertaining in the slightest.
posted by tehloki at 12:15 AM on November 15, 2007


You know when one of your pals goes on and on about the demo tape he just finished, about his vision, his music, and his rock star ambitions of changing the world, and you can tell by the stars in his eyes he truly believes every word of it, and begs you to hear it, to feel it, because after all his blood, sweat, and tears, he has to share it with someone? Then he plays it and it's a tinny Kiss cover band, only with no bassist and a cheap drum machine because it's just him, and after it's over he looks at you, wided eyed with bated breath, waiting for you to tell him what you thought of it?

That's kinda how I feel right now.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 5:49 AM on November 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


LEAVE JEFF ALONE!!!
posted by chillmost at 6:11 AM on November 15, 2007


Exactly, Uther. I've never felt closer to Simon Cowell.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:29 AM on November 15, 2007


I don't know. One of those moments where I seem to be going against the flow here, but I rather liked the trailer. Thought that camera-panning at the start was rather evocative; there was a fair amount of internal language going on out there. Notice how the car's front was bean-like, notice that Triad-isque stuff on the gun, and notice Killer-Bean's imperial-ish red coat. There is some beauty to be found here, but I suspect for reasons the film-maker himself doesn't realize; his talent is visual, and not verbal.

Which is why him choosing mostly expression-less anthromorphic beans might ironically work against showing him; the trailer's (don't want to say movie as yet) and the original Killer Bean's main drawback, as I see it, is in not being able to give visual personality to each of its characters.

Now, that could be easily rescued if there's an interesting story-arc nevertheless; xkcd.com, for instance, has visually indistinguishable drawings, but has engaging storylines. You get the sense that the trailer was done as a summary, not as a narrative in itself selling the finer points of a bigger work; I'm keeping an open-mind, I'd like to believe there's more to come.

The question, then, is would I see it even without knowing about Lew's apparent hardship? Oh, most certainly. I don't get the hate here at all, to be honest; it's not cringe-worthy, it has its moments. (Then again, I don't often get hate per se, so what do I know).

(Also, for those who seem to be thinking that Lew is a Hollywood-insider, read his bio; Matrix Reloaded is his only big-screen work.)
posted by the cydonian at 7:56 AM on November 15, 2007


Man, somebody should have told this guy that his other two short films were unmarketable trash
Then again, they got him his job as a lead animator in M:R.
posted by the cydonian at 8:15 AM on November 15, 2007


Wow, even Tehloki won't favorite this guy. Just kidding T.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:15 AM on November 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think what phaedon is trying to say is that just because you can make a film by yourself doesn't mean you...ought 'er.

I just got this.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:08 AM on November 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


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