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Movies in Fifteen Minutes 77

That the Internet is a big, scary place is hardly worth mentioning. For every respectable site, there are three or four seedy places that you wouldn't want to be seen surfing by relatives. While LiveJournal has a reputation as an angst-fest, there are many individuals using the power of self-publishing to impressive ends. Every once in a while, one of those self-publishers even moves beyond the confines of the electronic medium to the world of dead-tree publishing. Movies in Fifteen Minutes (M15M) is just such a project, born on the Internet to high acclaim, with the core idea transferred extremely successfully to a traditional book format. Read on for my impressions of the only book on the market today to feature a hilarious version of Braveheart's evisceration scene. Good times.
Movies in Fifteen Minutes
author Cleolinda Jones
pages 401
publisher Gollancz
rating 9/10
reviewer Zonk
ISBN 0575076879
summary A hilarious snarkfest through a dozen of the last decade's movies.
Movies in Fifteen Minutes, by Cleolinda Jones, began life as a wildly popular Livejournal project. After seeing the soul-stealingly bad Van Helsing early in 2004, she began writing up a snarky synopsis for her blog. The synopsis turned into a several thousand word opus. Other modern masterpieces followed, including Hannibal, Hidalgo, Troy, and The Day After Tomorrow. While the reaction to those works was enthusiastic, her June 2004 posting of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in Fifteen Minutes set her on her heels. After she contacted her millionth site administrator to ask them to take down the plagarised version of her work, she realized she might have a good idea on her hands.

Luckily, a publisher agreed and contacted her about a print version of the online format. The result is a dense 400 pages of fan-service satire covering the last ten years of movies. Films covered in the book include Jurassic Park, Braveheart, Independence Day, Titanic, The Matrix, Gladiator, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Spider-Man, Attack of the Clones, and the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. For those of you already saying "This book is crap, I thought Will Smith's performance in Independence Day was extremely moving", relax. While the book is satire, and the obvious flaws in the film's plot are laughed at, the author is a fan first and foremost. She treats even Jeff Goldblum's grumpy chaotician in Jurassic Park with the respect of someone who knows her audience very well. You can laugh at a film without hating it.

And laugh you will. M15M synopses are fast-paced tears through the boring bits, glossing over all that wordy tension building background stuff with a well placed "OMG" to get to the really good parts. From Gladiator:

"MAXIMUS: Forget this - I'm going home, where I have a wife and son.
LUCILLA: I'm be going to Rome, where I have a son and a dead husband.
[They exchange smouldering glances.]
MAXIMUS: So, have we established that we once had a thing, but we now both have children, the ultimate bittersweet evidence of us having done it with other people?
LUCILLA: Yeah, I think so.
MAXIMUS: Awesome. See you around."

Every movie is a self-contained world of straightforward dialogue that cuts to the bone of a scene while still evoking the spirit of the situation. The jokes are funny, to be sure, but the book is also well written. Comedy is hard, and ensuring the synopses were peppered with references to literature and film, emoting objects, and subtle fan poking while also making sure the movies made sense must have been a challenge. The bare bones of characters are usually established within a few pages by self-referential dialogue, and while you may have to suffer through an entire paragraph of actual exposition it's unlikely that will go on for long. From Philosopher's Stone:

"HAGRID: You ought not to meddle in these things!
HARRY: But we're the stars of the movie! That's what we do!
HAGRID: Well, you three can stop that right now! We've gotten along just fine without a plot so far, hain't we? Just lots of nice episodes about young Harry's adventures at wizard school! Don't see no reason why we've got to go introducing a plot now, of all things, so you just keep to yourselves and don't ask no questions about Nicholas Flemel, hear?"

Not content just to use obvious humor, there are several running gags and real-world intrusions throughout the book as well. The Third Age Limbo competition, for example, is well attended by several characters during the course of the book (Neo wins), and Padme's handmaiden Rose is seen at one point bargaining with George Lucas to be allowed into a certain leather skirt movie with a naked Brad Pitt. Cleolinda's understanding of pop culture on the whole is impressive, and despite the already stale nature of some of the movies in the book the humor she uses manages to have a sort of timeless quality to it. In ten years references to the movies themselves may no longer be common, but the book's humor manages to stand on its own. Brittany Spears, George W. Bush, and Martha Stewart are nowhere to be found within the pages of the book, ensuring that despite its pop culture roots it won't be incomprehensible after a few years on the shelf. From The Matrix:

"The Matrix: The Text Adventure

MORPHEUS: Go Down The Hall.
NEO: There's an office at the end of the hall!
NEO: I am there.
NEO: Sorry, I don't understand that.
NEO: ...
NEO: Oh, okay.
MORPHEUS: God, I Hate Text RPGS."

M15M is the kind of book ideally suited to reading in spurts. It's not a great work of our time, and it doesn't pretend to be. This book is a read-before-bed treasure, a fine companion for a long plane ride, or a great reason to get yourself into the sun on a vacation beach. In the end, it is a dozen mostly self-contained novellas with familiar characters and snarky commentary on the often nonsensical decisions made in moviemaking. It's wittily written, with a fast cadence and intelligent voice. It's quite hard to convey comedic timing in print form, but M15M manages to live up to the best stand up acts with copious ellipses and enthusiastic asterisk. Movies in Fifteen Minutes is an Internet version of 'local girl does good', and the result is a testament to what you can do with some spare time and a sarcastic attitude. Even though it will be out in the states early next year, and you can read her online works for free, M15M is well worth the couple of pounds to have the book shipped across the pond.

From Jurassic Park:

"ELLIE: We have to reboot the system before we can call for help! Unfortunately, I'm just a botanist who can barely understand the concept of 'chaos' -
GRANT: And we've got a raptor at the door!
ELLIE: I'm coming to help you hold the door!
GRANT: But who will reboot the door locks? WHO, I ASK YOU??
LEX: Hey! I can totally manoeuvre this system you call 'Unix', because I am a 'hacker'!"

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Movies in Fifteen Minutes

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  • S15S (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @01:51PM (#14092308)
    Slashdot In Fifteen Seconds...

    Zonk: We've posted this before, right?
    Taco: Umm, actuatlly, not yet.
    Roland: I've got $15 that says you will!
    Taco: We don't usually dupe book reviews, only NYT articles on cellphones.
    Zonk: Yeah, even Netcraft confirms it.
    Ackbar: It's a DUPE!
    All: Hey, what's he doing here? It's not Fark, it's Slashdot! (Cliches for nerds. As if that matters.)

  • Other shorts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mr. Sketch ( 111112 ) <> on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @01:52PM (#14092321)
    You may like the movies in 30 seconds done by Angry Alien []. These are 30 second movie reenactments of popular movies done by bunnies. Quite entertaining.
    • There's also Stone Trek [] which takes swipes at classic Star Trek episodes, Star Wars and (my personal favorite) a killer (ha) adaptation of Star Trekkin'

      Flash Required, Sorry.

      Oh, and support these guys, OK, like buy a mug or shirt or something.

    • Ah, you beat me to that one. I was going to point out their Exorcist - far superior to the original IMHO
    • My personal favoriate variation on the theme is from Andy Helms []. It's not very well organized, just a bunch of them on a single large page, but they're quite hilarious. From the beginning of "S T E A L T H":

      Basically xXx meets Team America: World Police only funnier
      So like, in the near future there is this elite force of hotshot supersmart jet pilots who fight terrorists. They are very awesome and elite!!!
    • [Thrasymachus is tied up in a chair. Socrates is brandishing a gun in his face]

      Thrasymachus: Don't kill me, man!

      Socrates: Are you finished, fucker?

      Thrasymachus: Don't do it, Socrates. Be fair.

      Socrates: Well, I'm just a dull, wandering street philosopher, so I don't understand quite where you're headed with this particular line of reasoning. Perhaps [motions with gun] you could further elucidate your theory of justice.

      Narrator: Thrasymachus. Alcibiades. Aristotle. Socrates []

    • What about that all-time classic Star Wars in 30 seconds []?
  • Movies in Fifteen Minutes (M15M)

    Will this be fifteen minutes of fame and at the end you can't remember a thing?

  • Reminds me of a page that doesn't appear to be around anymore -- band-a-minute. I did come across this partial(?) listing [] of the contents of that page. It obviously means nothing if you're not familiar with the 90s-oughts indierock scene...My favorite from there: "Behold! The future of music: BOAT ROCK!!!" Oh how true that is...
    • heh - thanks for that link - nothing like a little potted musical nostalgia over coffee. Funnily, the Codeine listing ("BOOM sniff CRASH BOOM BOOM CRASH") works for many of my favourite bands.
  • Funny but sad... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xfletch ( 623022 )
    If you need your movies reduced to 15 minutes either you are working way too hard or you need your ADD medication increased!
    • Hollywood Video (IIRC) used to run radio commercials, where they "try (unsuccessfully)" to pack a recent Hollywood blockbuster into 60 seconds. How's that for instant gratification?
    • by drsquare ( 530038 )
      I bet this book gets OLD, very fast.

      Must be gutting to spend good money on a book, then to find out that it stops being funny after page two.
      • I've read a bunch of the ones that were posted to her livejournal, and I can honestly say that I never got tired of the humour. It's not all that funny though if you haven't seen the movies she's referring to.
    • If you need your movies reduced to 15 minutes either you are working way too hard or you need your ADD medication increased!

      Actually, what you need is a DVD player that lets you fast-forward everything at 8 times speed (for 2 hour movies).

      Is there any such players that will also play the sound and won't give jerky picture ? Most players, in my experience, will show a single frame per second when in this FF mode. Or does mplayer/xine support this on a computer ?

      • Intervideo's WinDVD does a great job of doing at 2x. I typically watch anything that's not worth fully savoring (say, like Stealth) at 1.5-2x, depending on the pacing. Having done that, I can't imagine doing it much faster. At 1.5x, converstaion can get difficult to understand, and at 2x, subtitles become almost nessessary to understand everything being said. Even then, you have to be able to read pretty fast.

        Maybe, in time, I could get used to 2.5x, but 8x? No way. My brain just can't stream data t

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @01:55PM (#14092344)
    I prefer 5 minutes. [] I think this is the site with the really funny "5 minute Star Trek Voyager" write-ups. Has some movies too.
  • Well... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @01:56PM (#14092352)
    For every respectable site, there are three or four seedy places that you wouldn't want to be seen surfing by relatives.

    You've never met my relatives.

    We have some scary types here at the Desperation compound. The weird, seedy web sites are some of the few things that keeps them settled and relatively under control.

  • Book vs. Website? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Viper Daimao ( 911947 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @01:58PM (#14092367) Journal
    Is there any new material in the book? or is it just a compilation of the posts from the livejournal?
  • FiveMinute.Net (Score:4, Informative)

    by Xeroc ( 877174 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @02:05PM (#14092437)
    Well, if you liked that, then I have to reccommend a related site, FiveMinute.Net []. It is also a related parody site, where movies, Star Trek, Science Fiction, and all sorts of shows are compressed into a Five-Minute format, very much like the site mentioned in the news article. However, there's all sorts of extras, and it covers 100's of episodes, series, and movies!

    FiveMinute.Net [] truly is hilarous, and has been around since June 2000. Check it out!
    • I remeber reading even shorter summaries, they were mostly just a few sentences or lines. Somehow the only one I memorized is from Titanic, it went something like

      "Never let go"
      #lets go.

      Anybody knows what I'm talking about?
  • Book-a-Minute (Score:5, Interesting)

    by minginqunt ( 225413 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @02:10PM (#14092477) Homepage Journal
    Like the Book-A-Minute, only fifteen times longer:

    Book-a-Minute []

    My fave was always their '1-minute' summary of Gravity's Rainbow.

    Gravity's Rainbow
    By Thomas Pynchon
    Ultra-Condensed by Glenn Davis

    Thomas Pynchon

            A screaming thing comes across the sky. It's a V-2 rocket carrying twelve thousand pounds of symbolism, and it's coming down on your poor, deluded, postmodern head.

  • I don't see many books on Slashdot that I'd actually buy, but this one looks to be a little ammusing. Kind of reminds me of some uncyclopedia articles.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Anyone remember this site: []

    Same idea, but the scripts are actually funny.
  • Heh (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DurendalMac ( 736637 )
    Looks interesting, but I'm still waiting for The Filthy Critic's book to come out. Once you get past the foul language, shit references, allusions to Candy Bottoms porno flicks, and potshots at "Hollywood grassfuckers", he's actually a very sound critic.
  • Unfortunately only available in the U.K. and Australia as far as I can tell; not available in North America yet. From the website, the author says it will be soon.
  • I was hoping the Troy in 15 Minutes post would be included.

    Also, for Lost fans, the author had a great series of episode recaps last season. I hadn't been back to see if she kept them up this year, which is why this is the first I've heard of the book.
    • Troy! []

      ODYSSEUS: Hey, man, what up?

      ACHILLES: Nothin' much [dodge, parry, stab]. Just teaching Patroclus [dodge, parry, dodge] to fight [stab].

      ODYSSEUS: Lookin' good there, kid. What is he, your--

      ACHILLES: Cousin. He's my cousin. Cousin. Totally my cousin. In conclusion: Cousin.

  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @02:30PM (#14092656)
    They tried to do '15 Minutes' in 15 minutes, but it seemed like just a waste of time. []
  • by EboMike ( 236714 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @02:31PM (#14092668)
    The Editing Room [] has been around since 1997, and it rules. Some of the scripts are simply awesome and hilarious.
  • by RobotRunAmok ( 595286 ) on Tuesday November 22, 2005 @02:34PM (#14092700)
    Cleolinda's understanding of pop culture on the whole is impressive

    Whaaaaa...? Isn't that, like, an oxymoron? Someone's understanding of Ancient Greek authors can be impressive, Assyrian courtship rituals maybe, Vietnamese astrology, sure. Good Pennsylvanian wines, absolutely. But isn't pop culture by its very nature, not something which one may have an impressive grasp upon. Or something?

    (By the way, the subject line is from a first season episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If you didn't catch that, time to bone up on the Assyrian courtship rites...)
  • One of the local radio stations just did a one-minute abridged version of Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant". It was just about perfect, except that they cut out the part about the 8x10 color glossies.
  • Hitchhiker: You heard of this thing, the 8-Minute Abs?
    Ted: Yeah, sure, 8-Minute Abs. Yeah, the excercise video.
    Hitchhiker: Yeah, this is going to blow that right out of the water. Listen to this: 7... Minute... Abs.
    Ted: Right. Yes. OK, alright. I see where you're going.
    Hitchhiker: Think about it. You walk into a video store, you see 8-Minute Abs sittin' there, there's 7-Minute Abs right beside it. Which one are you gonna pick, man?
    Ted: I would go for the 7.
    Hitchhiker: Bingo, man, bingo. 7-Minute Abs. And we
  • Filthy! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by faqmaster ( 172770 )
    Nothing beats the Filthy Critic []!
  • I want to go on record as saying Cleolinda Jones is a goddess of the written word.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    His Watchmen Files and Smallville files are good reading for those boring days at work when you are stumped for how to test something: []

  • I've been a fan since her Azkaban M15M... I still manage to drop references to CRAAAZY GARY OLDMAN! into conversations with my husband or sister, with much handwaving. I actually read the M15M *before* I saw the movie, which resulted in much giggling at inappropriate times during the movie.

    Read her LJ for a taste, or to hold you over til it comes out in the US. I'm considering ordering the book from to give my sis for Christmas, international shipping be damned.

  • "For every respectable site, there are three or four seedy places that you wouldn't want to be seen surfing by relatives." ... Yet you still visit everyday.
  • I've just spent the better part of my afternoon looking at the author's website and other writings. I'm so buying this book when it comes to the USA.
  • Way to not link to the LJ in the summary. Sure, it's there in the book review, but this is slashdot, dammit: if we don't read the articles, we certainly shouldn't have to read the book reviews.
  • There is a hilarious short film of Stoppard's "15 Minute Hamlet". It airs from time to time on Bravo. Interesingly, it was filmed near continuously with only three cuts in the main play. This makes for good laughs when the actors goof up while transforming the set. The ending has an even funnier 30-second Hamlet (Shakespeare's patron thought the 15-minute version was too long). I wish I could get it on DVD.
  • Cleo's M15M are hysterical. I've been keeping up with her journal for a while now. By far the funniest, in my opinion, is her rendition of Phantom of the Opera. My husband and I will randomly throw out lines from that and crack each other up. And her Lost recaps... to die for. OMGWTFPOLARBEAR!?

The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin