Trailers: 49 Up, Curse of the Golden Flower, Little Children

49 up - Documentarian Michael Apted has been involved in this acclaimed series since it’s inception in 1964, interviewing a group of children, beginning at age 7, and then checking in with them every 7 years. Education, race, social class, gender roles, mental health: all issues of importance in 49 up. In June, I wrote a brief review after catching it at the Seattle International film festival. As all of the films in the Up series provide flashbacks, you don’t need to have seen the previous installments to get up to speed, but for the sake of an engrossing experience, you should, starting at 7 Up. “This series should be sealed in a time capsule. It is on my list of the 10 greatest films of all time, and is a noble use of the medium.” - Roger Ebert. Trailer

Curse of the Golden Flower - Directed by Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers). Chow Yun Fat returns with another contribution to the contemporary martial arts scene, while Gong Li hopefully lends something more intelligible than her latest role in Miami Vice. Trailer (scroll down)

Little Children - Featuring Kate Winslet, Jennifer Connelly, and Patrick Wilson. Based on the novel by Tom Perrotta. “Little Children centers on a handful of individuals whose lives intersect on the playgrounds, town pools and streets of their small community in surprising and potentially dangerous ways.” Sounds of the train spell impending dread. Official site (click on trailer)

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Posted by Ted Zee on August 31st 2006 | 0 Comments

Weeds Recap: Season Two, Episode Three

Season 2, Episode 3: “Last Tango in Agrestic”

Picking up where we left off, with Nancy having thrown up on the front lawn, Peter brings her back to the car to continue the conversation. “When I come across a suburban widow dealing dime bags to bored housewives, I like to flatter myself by thinking that I have more important things to do with my time - professionally speaking.” Not in it for the bust, he thinks the two can mold their dealer/lawman relations into a mutually beneficial partnership. Nancy, still skeptical, joins Peter over dinner to talk about how they might continue. When asked how long it took for him to figure out her day job, he admits that he had suspicions almost immediately, and used his snooping skills to do a background check. He even knows that she has a sister – Jill. Peter says that he’s had time to think the situation through, and that he has a plan to make the relationship work.

A day later - arriving late for family dinner, Silas is suspicious about his mother’s absence since rushing out to meet Peter the previous evening. She’s hiding something. Later, Silas pleads with his girlfriend, Sarah, to take him back so they can have their kicks before she heads off to Princeton. Next, a teenage sex montage. Soon enough we find him sticking a safety pin through a Trojan. So that’s his plan for keeping his girlfriend around? Kids.

“Have you been noticing any changes in your body lately?” Nancy learns that Shane has discovered the wonders of puberty, and has been flushing spent socks down the toilet, but he denies any such self-discovery. Throwing her hands up after Shane makes a speedy, and fully humiliated exit, she recruits Andy’s help in the matter - “Talk to Shane about jerking off.” Andy offers an instructional/motivational talk for Shane - Pearl Jam, Tugging the tiger, Goo glove, Creamy Italian, Randy Johnsons, and a host of other euphemisms are used to encourage Shane to freely kick the tires, and take his body out for a spin. But just say no to “used” socks down the pipes.

Meeting with Conrad and Doug in a new “grow house” location they’ve acquired in their rapidly expanding operation, Conrad questions Nancy’s new found swagger, now fearing no interruption of the risky business at hand. Then, upon first introduction, Celia’s husband Dean finally puts two and two together – “You’re the Conrad that fucked my wife!” Conrad offers him one free punch to even things up, but Dean has never hit a man before, and he’s not good under pressure. He haggles for a rain check, and Conrad begrudgingly accepts.

Finally, just after Nancy agrees to contribute in some small way to Celia’s city council overthrow, Peter phones. “Just thinking about where we were less than 24 hours ago.” We flashback on the two, after Nancy’s realization that the jig was up, on a plane - destination unknown. Once on the ground, walking hand in hand, Peter helps her through a mental checklist:

“No one but us has to know about this?”

“Our secret?”

“Strictly business?”

“And this means they can’t make you testify against me?”

Cue Elvis. Wedding bells. Las Vegas. Holy Matrimony.

Quick Notes: Heylia has a gentleman suitor from the Nation of Islam, bearing homemade pies. Andy finally gets a date with his admissions officer. What took him so long? Celia finds herself injured in a most intimate area after joining her daughter’s morning exercise camp. Cover of “Little Boxes” by Engelbert Humperdinck. Fun Fact: Shoshannah Stern, who plays teenage Megan, girlfriend of Silas, is 26 years old.

New recap next week.

Update: Added video of Andy’s (now notorious) masturbation speech:

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Posted by Ted Zee on August 29th 2006 | 2 Comments

Update on Deadwood Creator's John From Cincinnati

As the third season of John Milch’s Deadwood comes to a close (with plenty of loose ends to tie in the two 2-hour movies planned to end the series), new details have been released on Milch’s new HBO project: John From Cincinnati. Production Weekly lists Austin Nichols as “John”, along with co-stars Bruce Greenwood, Luis Guzman, and Brian Van Holt. Nichols recently played Wyatt Earp’s brother Morgan in Deadwood.

The new series, which Milch has described as “surf noir”, will start shooting next month in Los Angeles. Plot notes from (August 25th) Production Weekly:

The dysfunctional Yost family of Imperial Beach–patriarch Mitch (Greenwood), a former surfing star who can now levitate (slightly), married to the aggressively unhappy Cissy, parents of the drug-addicted, dissolute Butchie (Van Holt), also a former surfing champ and the father himself to the talented but resentful skateboarder Shaun–find their lives disrupted by the arrival of dim but wealthy John From Cincinnati (Nichols), a boarding savant who’s come to take lessons from Butchie, and Barry Cunningham from Azusa, whose personal connection to the Yost family has him returning to Imperial Beach to avenge a wrong done to him, by them, 23 years ago.

Here’s hoping that for one, Milch can make sense of all this, the title listed in PW: “John From Cincinnati Meets the Surfing Yosts”, will revert back to the simpler title of old, and finally, that Luis Guzman (a favorite of P.T. Anderson and Steven Soderbergh) gets some serious airtime (hang-time?) when the series (hopefully) makes it to HBO in late 2007.

Related: HBO’s Lineup on Life Support

Update 8/31 - Ed O’Neill (you may know him as Al Bundy) has also been attached to the cast.

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Posted by Ted Zee on August 28th 2006 | 6 Comments

News Bits: Arrested Development, The Departed, Stephen Gaghan

Catching up on recent news, conjecture, and hearsay in film and television:

Solace in Cinema has the poster and a wide variety of photo stills for Journey to the End of the Night, and yes, the images are reminiscent of collaborations from Wong Kar Wai and Christopher Doyle. The film stars Brendan Fraser, Scott Glenn, Catalina Sandino Moreno, and Mos Def (who coincidentally has a new album coming out on September 19th: “True Magic”). Set in Brazil, a father and son set to break out from the “underworld of sex, drugs, money, and corruption”.

Let’s wipe those tears away AD fans, and embrace the new breed, as Fox and NBC both order up pilots from former Arrested Development writer-producers.

AICN gives us notes and impressions from an anonymous test screener on a rough cut for Scorsese’s The Departed. The director’s return to crime drama features DiCaprio, Damon, Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin…should I continue?

Film Junk wonders how director Stephen Gaghan (Syriana) will manage to turn Malcolm Gladwell’s best selling non-fiction book Blink into box-office fiction, with help from Leonardo DiCaprio.

Catherine Keener, who is set to play “Max’s Mom” on Spike Jonze’s adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are, discusses the pros of playing supporting, rather than starring roles.

If the intention of this article was to dissuade movie piracy, perhaps the writer should have left out the laundry list of tips, hardware, and other resources needed to start your own operation.

Finally, while Paris Hilton calls out Ricky Gervais for turning her down for a spot on Extras, Ricky’s been busy with Microsoft for leaking The Office Values videos, the two shorts that he and Stephen Merchant produced for a reported six figures. We received our own removal notice from Micosoft UK after posting the videos - and when it reaches this far down the chain, you don’t have a leak, you have a flood.

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Posted by Ted Zee on August 28th 2006 | 0 Comments

Extended Trailer For Shortbus

In gearing up for the October 4th U.S. release of director John Cameron Mitchell’s (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) controversial, yet critically praised film - Shortbus, an extended trailer has been released that features an introduction from Mitchell himself.

The film, which earlier this year was met with a standing ovation, mostly enthusiastic reviews, and a subsequent bidding war at Cannes, contains real sex (even real orgasms according to Mitchell), and a cast entirely new to feature-film roles. The story revolves around New Yorkers of varied backgrounds and sexual orientation who all intersect within the open environment of a Brooklyn club to experience love, life, and all that rot in the big city.

Regardless of the finished product, the three years Mitchell used to gather actors and prepare for Shortbus add up to a tale in itself (as told in elaborate detail in this interview with the director), worthy of it’s own documentary film. Looking for non-professional actors, he sent out at open casting call online. The website received half a million visits that ultimately led to 500 submitted videos, then a gathered group of forty candidates, finally reduced to nine. The finalized group worked for two and a half years in improv workshops as they helped to mold the characters and story, along with the director. The result is a film that “chooses to go someplace that a lot of movies don’t go,” said Mark Urman, head of its distributor - ThinkFilm, to IndieWire at Cannes, adding that it will appeal to audiences “fed-up with preemptive self-censorship” that want to “let their hair down.”

At the end of the trailer, you’ll see a mention of the website: www.shortbusthemovie.com, that will feature an uncensored version.

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Posted by Ted Zee on August 25th 2006 | 1 Comment

Thumbsucker Director Mike Mills' Upcoming Documentary

thumbsucker's mike mills documentaryIn a recent interview with art and pop culture magazine LEMON, director Mike Mills (Thumbsucker) discussed his in the works documentary for IFC TV. Already touching on Ritalin use in Thumbsucker, his next film, with the working title Does Your Soul Have a Cold?, will focus on the newly growing acceptance of antidepressant use in Japan (Between 1998 and 2003, sales of antidepressants in Japan quintupled, according to IMS Health). The (tentative) film title is named after an American pharmaceutical ad campaign in Japan that helped to open up discussion of depression on a nationwide level. Besides the gradual shift in thinking taking place about depression in Japan, the film also addresses how American interests and influences are molding the change there, and notions that our own culture has about mental illness issues.

Of interviewing Tokyo residents currently using drugs to treat their depression, Mills said, “They’re wildly open to talking about it. Partly because in Japan it’s so shameful to have any mental illness. Often these people get kicked out of their jobs or their families or their relationships, so they’re kind of like outsiders. So here I come along, and I want to hear their story, and I think there’s nothing shameful about them, and I’m totally interested, and they’re just like, wow.”

Coming from a graphic design and video background, working with such groups as Beck, Air, Sonic Youth, and Yoko Ono, on both album covers and music videos, Mills noted that after Thumbsucker, he was happy to be focusing on a project that could be done with much fewer resources. The documentary will be his first feature-length shot on video, rather than film, and Mills also will shoot at least part of it himself. His recently founded documentary production company is named The Mabel Longhetti Group, after Gena Rowlands’ character in John Cassavetes’ A Woman Under the Influence. Mills explained, “I really dig on Cassavetes’ whole way of making things, which is by himself, at his house. It’s much more of a small scale, ‘How much can you do it by yourself, how cheap can you do it’ notion.”

You can read the full interview in LEMON, available at newsstands now, along with more information about Does Your Soul Have a Cold? at the Cactus Three site. And check out Mike Mills’ HUMANS blog, featuring projects from his design side: fanciful t-shirts, bags, and what-nots available for purchase.

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Posted by Ted Zee on August 23rd 2006 | 5 Comments

The Untitled Woody Allen Summer Project

woody allen untitled projectWoody’s loving London these days, and he’s got Match Point and Scoop well in the can to prove it. Going for the hat trick, he’s just about ready to conclude shooting on his third London project, untitled as of yet. The film stars Miami Vice Mojito loving Colin Farrell, Ewan McGregor, and a relative newcomer: English actress Hayley Atwell. Atwell’s character runs into two brothers (Farrell and McGregor), working on a boat restoration project, discovers that McGregor has fallen for her, and uses the subsequent sibling rivalry as a catalyst to manipulate the brothers into raising funds through ill-advised criminal activity.

With the shoot, which started in early July, set to wrap soon, release is slated for Spring 2007. Next on Woody’s location list: another project scheduled to begin shooting next summer - this time in Spain. Will Woody ever make it back to his New York haunting grounds?

Story dug up by Cinematical. Source: Cineuropa

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Posted by Ted Zee on August 22nd 2006 | 2 Comments

Marie Antoinette Photoshoot Video: Vogue

marie antoinette kirsten dunst voguePromoting Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, Kirsten Dunst and Jason Schwartzman are featured in this video made during the Annie Leibovitz photoshoot for the September issue of Vogue. Complete with New Order soundtrack and “did you know?” factoids, as cotton candy as early reviews portray the film to be - you can impress your friends by telling them how many cans of hairspray the crew went though on the shoot, and then mark your calendars for the release date of Antoinette: October 20th.

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Posted by Ted Zee on August 22nd 2006 | 0 Comments

Weeds Recap: Season Two, Episode Two

weeds kevin nealon

Season 2/Ep 2: “Cooking With Jesus”

Episode two opens with Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker) calling Peter (Martin Donovan) to let him know that she can’t continue seeing him because, as a widow just getting back on her feet, she can’t let herself get involved with someone in his line of work. Too dangerous. Too unseemly. Of course she says all this while stuffing some ill-gotten petty cash into a hollowed out book. Peter pleads his case but Nancy won’t hear of it. “You deal with drug dealers,” Nancy says. She continues, before the hang up: “You carry a gun. I can’t. Please don’t call me anymore.”

There’s another clumsy-cartel meeting. “Where’s Conrad?” The crew asks. “He’s out….He simply isn’t prepared to take the next step,” says Nancy, failing to mention that the reason for his conspicuous absence stems from her disclosure of the DEA agent (possible) love triangle. Talk moves to the “Mohasky Cup”, a High Times Magazine (who else?) sponsored function that features the best that the California industry has to offer - a veritable who’s who of growers, suppliers, and enthusiasts. “The promise land of pot,” says Andy (Justin Kirk). “The Mecca of Marijuana,” retorts Doug (Kevin Nealon). The two will act as official “taste-testers” on Nancy’s behalf at the convention.

Conrad (Romany Malco), in his own pursuit to get his solo start-up off the ground, meets with a banker friend, looking for a loan under the guise of a burgeoning “hydroponic gourmet organic lettuce” biz. But his childhood buddy sees through the transparent plan: “Any loan officer is gonna know. You wanna grow some boo-yah.” Next up: Mike, a friend of the family who’s mightily impressed by Conrad’s entrepreneurial spirit, and his informed choice of marijuana strain, but refuses to get involved in family matters. Rather than pony up cash for a partnership with Conrad, he advises him to reconcile with Aunt Heylia, fill her in on the details of the new venture, and make this a family affair. Later, contrary to Conrad’s belief that he’s operating under the radar, we find out that Heylia is already fully aware that Conrad is seeking financing, but she’s keeping it under her hat.

Next: Nancy finds herself in over her head at the pot convention, left behind to sort through convention nerds, sample booths, and hard-sell sales pitches, as Doug and Andy venture off to find The One: the strain that will set their business off right. Cue the reggae band montage. Andy smokes every available sample in sight, while Doug poses questions like, “When does CPR become necrophilia?”, then finds himself onstage with the band, donning tie dye, and getting his groove back as he exhibits his very special interpretation of The Robot. For the record: More Rock-em’ Sock-em’ than C-3PO.

Back in Agrestic, with the groups chosen plant in the bathtub, Nancy finds that she doesn’t know the first thing about care and cultivation. And Conrad holds another ill-fated meeting with thuggish dealer, U-Turn, who would just as soon toss a knife in the general direction of his crew (sticking in an unassuming thigh) than have them raise their voices during a business meeting, or The Price is Right. So it’s with these difficulties that Nancy and Conrad find themselves together again, after Nancy’s pleadings and assurances that DEA Peter is out of the picture, and that the dream team must reunite.

So with business sorted, and the family gathered in the backyard for dinner, Nancy looks to have things under control. But in classic soap-operatic form, there’s a hitch. Peter calls from his car parked outside the house, not willing to leave until he can speak with her. Inside the car, delivering a speech that sounds mentally rehearsed, as though she was waiting for such a confrontation, Nancy lists all the reasons why they “will never be.” But Peter’s not listening. He’s just waiting for his turn to talk - a news flash that will leave Nancy stumbling out of the car, and throwing up on the green, green grass:

“I know you’re a drug dealer.”

Notes: Side story wise, Celia continues her city council campaign, finding her husband and daughter to be unwilling participants. Andy was accepted into Rabbinical school, and Silas and girlfriend Megan break up after she’s admitted to Princeton and won’t allow him to tag along.

Drug dealer U-Turn is portrayed by Page Kennedy, last seen on Desperate Housewives before being tossed off the set for “improper conduct.” Expect Kennedy to appear in at three more episodes. Plus, New Zealand stoners steal faux-marijuana from Weeds billboard.

Death Cab for Cutie covered “Little Boxes” as part of the season long move to inject new musical life, from a host of performers, into the opening song.

Check back next week for the episode three recap.

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Posted by Ted Zee on August 22nd 2006 | 6 Comments

News Bits: Black Snake Moan, Be Kind Rewind, Roger Ebert, Ricky Gervais, Marie Antoinette

Let’s declare today “No Snakes Day”, allowing an exception for discussion regarding another Samuel L. Jackson joint: Black Snake Moan, with Christina Ricci. Directed by Craig Brewer after his debut film Hustle and Flow, Lazarus (Jackson) plays a farmer and blues musician that discovers Mae (Ricci) badly beaten, on the side of the road, after her self-imposed sex spree. Mae spends a lot of screen time chained to a radiator, half naked, under house-arrest as Lazarus seeks to “rehabilitate” her from her self-destructive ways. Knowing this, and looking at the Ricci-In-Chains posters from Black Snake Moan, along with the ones from the Tarantino/Rodriguez helmed Grindhouse, you’d think that 2007 might mark the return of the 70’s style exploitation flick.

Michel Gondry’s next film (following The Science of Sleep), Be Kind Rewind now has Mos Def, Melonie Diaz, Mia Farrow and Danny Glover officially attatched to join Jack Black. Plotline from director-file.com: ” Jerry (Jack Black) is a junkyard worker who attempts to sabotage a power plant he suspects of causing his headaches. But he inadvertently causes his brain to become magnetized, leading to the unintentional destruction of the movies in his friend’s (Danny Glover) store. In order to keep the store’s one loyal customer, an elderly lady with a tenuous grasp on reality, the pair re-create a long line of films including The Lion King, Rush Hour, Back to the Future and Robocop, putting themselves and their townspeople into it.”

Roger Ebert released an statement on his website about his slower than expected recovery.

Entertainment Weekly features an interview with Ricky Gervais about his weekly podcast, Extras, and his role in Robert Deniro’s upcoming Stardust.

Cinematical has a thoroughly researched piece on future roles for the Deadwood cast.

The IFC Blog has the lineup for The New York Film Festival, which includes Michael Apted’s latest entry in the 7 up documentary series: 49 Up, and S. Coppola’s upcoming Marie Antoinette. Drawn and quartered in early Cannes reviews, will American audiences be more receptive to Sofia’s next?

And on that note, a very topical video: Why I Hate Sofia by Eva Deadbeat.

Updated 8/20

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Posted by Ted Zee on August 18th 2006 | 1 Comment

BSLS looking for contributors

Want to write for BSLS? We’re looking for one or two new contributors, able to get their blog on for matters concerning film and television, on a regular or semi-regular basis. Hopefully you’re all about the love of blogistical pursuits, because it’s an unpaid gig for the foreseeable future. Still reading? Still interested? Meet us, then greet us.

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Posted by Ted Zee on August 17th 2006 | 0 Comments

SNL Shakeout: Changes in Store For Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock

With Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch already leaving the nest to work on their own sitcom, NBC’s 30 Rock, Lorne Michaels finds himself in a situation where he’ll have to cut even more talent from Saturday Night Live. Citing budgetary concerns from the network, Michaels will announce how he plans to pare down the cast before Labor Day. “We want to get the cast closer to 10, as opposed to the 15-16 that were there the year before,” he said. The current cast includes Darrell Hammond, Chris Parnell, Maya Rudolph, Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler, Fred Armisen, Will Forte, Finesse Mitchell, and Kenan Thompson, as well as recent newcomers Jason Sudeikis, Andy Samberg, Bill Hader, and Kristen Wiig.

30 Rock, another Lorne Michaels produced show, has also announced a change concerning Rachel Dratch. Originally set to play a regular role in the cast of the 30 minute “show within a show” based on SNL, Dratch will now play a variety of characters who will make their way onto the set either in recurring roles or in a one-time appearance. The Tina Fey led sitcom will focus on behind the scenes feuds and struggles between Fey, Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan as they strive to make “The Girly Show” a hit.

Many have called for a shakeup of SNL, whose on and off years in terms of quality are of a cyclical nature. My speculation would be that the current cast of SNL will be cut down to less than ten, with one or two new additions, hopefully along with some new writing talent to inject some life in the franchise set to start it’s 32nd season. As far as Dratch is concerned, the move to change her role on 30 Rock is a gimmick at best. You would think that viewers only catching an episode here and there of the new show would scratch their heads on why Dratch was appearing as a new character every time they tuned in. Her job security on the Rock appears to be tenuous already.

Source: Variety

Update: Adding insult to injury for Rachel Dratch, former Ally McBeal star Jane Krakowski has been given Rachel’s previous, meatier role.

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Posted by Ted Zee on August 16th 2006 | 1 Comment

Weeds: Recap of Season Two Premiere

weeds recap season 2 showtime

Season 2, Episode 1: “Corn Snake”

The season two premiere of Showtime’s pot-dealing matriarch comedy Weeds, picked up right where it left off: Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) checking herself in the bathroom mirror in the home of her new “acquaintance” Peter (Martin Donovan), naked but for his jacket she picked up off a chair in the dark, now slowly spelling out the bold yellow lettering on said jacket in her head: D-E-A. Yes Nancy, Good Morning. You’ve just unknowingly slept with a drug enforcement officer. As panic quickly replaces foggy-headedness and keen awareness rubs out bedroom eyes, Nancy takes a quick inventory of Peter’s dresser while he’s asleep. Badge: check. Gun: check. Which leads to the customarily awkward first morning-after conversation:

Peter: You have big feet.
Nancy: Why do you have a gun in your dresser?
Peter: Were you snooping?
Nancy: My feet used to be smaller but I went up a size with each kid……It’s just sitting there, in your dresser. I saw it when I went to pee.
Peter: I like your big feet.
Nancy: They’re not like Fred Flintstone feet. They’re just, long.

Soon after, Peter admits to being an enemy of the common drug dealer, and Nancy makes for the door as casually as possible, yet ready to run if need be, like a Flintstone in her foot-powered ride.

In other Agrestic Hills happenings, Celia (Elizabeth Perkins), fresh from a fender-bender at the mall, finds her traffic light concerns ignored by city councilman Doug (a blissfully smoked-out Kevin Nealon). But with resources already allocated towards more important matters, as in town branding (Agrestic: The Best of the Bestic) and the like, Doug leaves Celia steaming at the emptied-out council chamber. Later, over coffees spiked with Jack Daniels, Nancy pushes for Celia to get back at Doug where it hurts: by overthrowing him as City Councilperson. The notion works for Celia’s husband, who assumes that he’ll be bowing out as Doug’s campaign manager, due to conflict of interest, and in as Celia’s, only to find out that he’s not wanted. So it’s pothead against cancer survivor, husband versus wife; the future of Agrestic at stake.

The friction in episode one is found in the planning and execution stages of Nancy and (former supplier, now business partner) Conrad’s move to turn her “fakery”, a front for herb-friendly confections, into a full on California drug-cartel of the first order. When Nancy confesses that she’s laid down with the law, Conrad is ready to jump ship. Coincidental or not, the presence of Nancy’s new man is too close for comfort in Conrad’s eyes, although Nancy isn’t too sure of the outburst. Is it caution or jealousy? And then there’s minor partner in crime Sanjay, who brings the episode to a close in a blaze of glory, so to speak, “accidentally” burning down the bakery, hoping to enter the love of Nancy sweepstakes by earning start-up money for the biz though insurance claims. Surely it can’t be that easy, so an arson investigation is sure to follow. As Conrad said, “That shit only works on The Sopranos.”

Closing Notes: Nancy’s brother Andy is back to cramming for his Rabbi studies, looking to get accepted into Rabbinical school in order to avoid being shipped off to Iraq with the rest of his Reserve unit. While applying for entrance, he sets his eyes on a new lady/enabler.

The opening theme, “Little Boxes”, originally played by folksy Melvina Reynolds, will be covered by various hitmakers and indie notables throughout the season. Elvis Costello started things out for the season, to be followed up by the likes of Englebert Humperdinck, Death Cab for Cutie (next Sunday - 8/21), Ozomatli, Regina Spektor, Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley, Tim DeLaughter of The Polyphonic Spree, and more.

More Weeds: Season Two, Episode Two Recap

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Posted by Ted Zee on August 15th 2006 | 2 Comments

Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant Star in Microsoft Training Film

A David Brent “do” for Microsoft employees: “If you’re looking for a better job, use all your time at Microsoft to find that new job.”

Ricky Gervais reprised his role as David Brent from The Office earlier this year, along with co-creator Stephen Merchant, for a Microsoft UK training film. This has nothing in common with the video you watched on VHS in the breakroom at your first job. No, this is very much a Gervais/Merchant jam session, riffing (or ripping) on Microsoft culture, “nerdy little dweebs that live with their nan”, Stephen Hawking, and really just having too much fun on Bill Gates’s dime.

There’s two videos that add up to almost 40 minutes of David Brent’s poignant teachings, with Merchant as the buttoned up Micosoft-logoed interviewer, allowing David to voice his concerns about android development, and encouraging employee training, if for no better reason than “a day not spent sitting next to some nerd, going on about how his mum mixed up his Buffy videos, with his Deep Space Nine videos.”. Consider them as lost Office episodes that could have perhaps used a bit of editing. Definitely hang in there, or fast forward to the last two or three minutes of outtakes on each video. You might find that Gervais is his own biggest fan. But a guy that laughs at his own jokes is my kind of guy.

Update: Microsoft UK has requested the removal of the Gervais videos, as they are “for internal training purposes only”.

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Posted by Ted Zee on August 14th 2006 | 1 Comment

Trailers: Sherrybaby, Old Joy, Fast Food Nation, The Departed

sherrybaby Maggie Gyllenhaal
Sit back, enjoy your coffee, and click for trailer viewing pleasure. Please, these are hand picked. We insist.

Sherrybaby - Someone once suggested that Maggie Gyllenhaal was hell-bent on becoming “the gesturally awkward Meg Ryan of her generation.” As Sherrybaby, she’s just trying to get a lil’ respect, a cure for her overbleached split ends, and her baby back.

Old Joy - “Two old friends, Kurt (Will Oldham) and Mark (Daniel London), who reunite for a weekend camping trip in the Cascade mountain range east of Portland, Oregon.” We dig Will Oldham, really. Johnny Cash covered him for chrissakes. But it is prudent to be alone in the forest with a Grizzly Adams who’s been known to sing, “Pound them down, pound them out, older ladies scream and shout, hide their bodies in the reeds, shallow bed of soil and leaves”? Think about it.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated - Stalk the Ratings Board in this documentary. “For seeing my pubic hair you get an NC-17!” - Maria Bello

Fast Food Nation - Like contemporary Steven Soderberg, you have to hand it to Richard Linkater for allowing himself to drift all over the map. As of late we’ve seen Before Sunset, Bad News Bears, A Scanner Darkly, and now this adaptation of the bestselling muckraker.

The Departed - Scorsese directs the remake of Hong Kong cash cow Infernal Affairs. An embarrassment of riches in the star department for this crime drama. DiCaprio, Damon, Nicholson, Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, and Alec Baldwin. Don’t fuck it up boys.

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Posted by Ted Zee on August 11th 2006 | 3 Comments

Michel Gondry Dreams Funny, Talks Funny

Movie City Indie has dug up a veritable stockpile of media related to Michel Gondy’s The Science of Sleep. The man behind Eternal Sunshine has dumped heaps of images from the movie, plus short videos he filmed himself, (talking into the camera in his ragged accent, describing dreams from his brain’s archives) all onto the “social media” site, imeem. You can socialize with the director himself, by way of lumping your dream videos under the Science of Sleep promotional page on the site. But listen friend….because we’re lazy, you’re lazy, and we could all just head over to YouTube if we wanted to look at Average Joe’s videos; BSLS offers to cut through the crap. You’re just a click away from Michel’s mealy mouthed visions of depravity.

Michel’s Dream Videos: Car Glider (below), Hand, Perates, Pirates & Parrots, Swedish Kiss, Car Plane Pharmacy Dream

More from imeem: The Science of Sleep Trailer, 27 audio clips from the soundtrack, and one hundred and thirty-nine images from the film. I know, right? Enough SOS to induce a coma.

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Posted by Ted Zee on August 09th 2006 | 1 Comment

Larry David, HBO agree on 6th season of Curb Your Enthusiasm

After some hemming and hawing over the past year by Larry David about whether he could continue on with Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO has announced, a week after the release of the fifth season on DVD, that hands have been shaken on a deal for a sixth. Reuters reports that the rest of the cast has been signed, and that September could mark the start of shooting for the series, with a premiere sometime in 2007. It’s not yet known if this will mark the final season of Curb, but when asked in July, HBO chairman Chris Albrecht said, “Odds are probably yes, but who knows?”

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Posted by Ted Zee on August 08th 2006 | 8 Comments

Wong Kar-Wai Owns Memphis

wong kar wai blueberry nightsLock up all your valuables, and put the kids on curfew, Memphis. Wong Kar Wai and the My Blueberry Nights crew are coming to set up an impenetrable stronghold in your town. After some delays in NY, undoubtedly caused by blogger run-ins and Jude Law crazed photo-stalkers (to be fair, you’ll find some fine images shot on location), the production team is grinding it’s way towards Memphis, and according to The Memphis Commercial Appeal, should begin shooting on or around Thusday, until August 21st. Norah Jones, Rachel Weisz and David Strathairn will be in town for shooting, although co-stars Jude Law and Natalie Portman may or may not be around for ogling, because they encounter Jones’s character at other locations in the film. In this, Wong Kar-Wai’s first foray into english language pictures, Jones will be road-tripping it through the U.S., seeing what trouble she can find, and how many other unnervingly beautiful people she can run into by pure happenstance.

By the way, if you’re a long haired male, with or without a “character face” (is that like, Steve Buscemi?), and in the Memphis area, there’s a casting call out to join production. For the rest of us, we’ll just have to ride out the next few years, hoping this thing wraps in our lifetime, so we can enjoy our preferred eye candy in flavors of Jones, Weisz, Law, Portman, or whatever dreamy, possibly nonsensical creation WKW concocts. Assuming he can recreate the magic without spurned cinematographer sidekick Christopher Doyle. Think on it for awhile as you enjoy video of Jude and Norah smoking, smoking, smoking…...

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Posted by Ted Zee on August 08th 2006 | 1 Comment

Update on Firing of PBS Show Host, Melanie Martinez

PBS has received over 1,700 emails and more than 5,000 people have signed online petitions (as of August 3rd) protesting the firing of children’s show host Melanie Martinez from “The Good Night Show”. Martinez, who disclosed the nature of the her PSA spoof videos to PBS on July 14th and was fired a week later, filmed the videos seven years earlier, and never expected them to gain the exposure that they did on online video sites such as YouTube. The New York Times spoke with Martinez’s partner in conceiving the videos that were first seen on technicalvirgin.com, a site that now sits dormant, with only a link to the online petition:

David Mack, the co-writer, producer and director of the videos, said in an interview that he removed them in 2004. “When we heard Melanie was auditioning for a PBS kids show, we thought it was not the sort of thing that we would want out there,” he said, adding that “it was an old joke that had run its course.”

PBS ombudsman Michael Getler, who serves as an independent critic of the network, didn’t exactly take a pro-PBS stance in response to the numerous complaints on the firing, saying “It would have been a greater bow to freedom of expression and against guilt by association for the program and PBS to stick by her.” He added, “It struck me as ironic that at the very time PBS is fighting against new Federal Communications Commission rulings about indecency that the network argues will inhibit documentary filmmakers and freedom of speech, it delivers a subjective punishment to a popular performer for something done seven years ago that was clearly a spoof.”

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Posted by Ted Zee on August 07th 2006 | 3 Comments

Catch Bill Murray on American Chopper

Bill Murray is to team up with the Teutul family at Orange County Choppers to create a custom Caddyshack themed motorcyle in two episodes of the Discovery Channel’s American Chopper, the first episode airing this week.

The bike, which was auctioned off at Murray’s celebrity golf tournament, was designed to look like something that Caddyshack’s Carl Spackler might scoot around in. Of the bike, Bill said, “It was like it was (Carl’s) motorcycle, so it had a little bit of army surplus, a little bit of army ordinance and a little bit of greenskeeper. It was fun. I got to lift something every once in a while.”

It sounds as if the two-parter might be a bit different than normal “celebrity bike” episodes, (OCC has constructed bikes for Jay Leno, Billy Joel, Will Smith, and Lance Armstrong) as Bill said that he spent several days working at the shop with the boys. Typically the celebrities will make brief appearances in the beginning of the first episode and the end of the second to view the final product. So there’s potential here for some good moments in a show that has fallen off a bit in the past two seasons. With Bill getting his hands a bit dirty, you can only hope that he’ll be around to bear witness, hopefully add commentary, to a classic blowup between Paul Teutul Jr. and Sr., as past arguments provide such voyeuristic viewing thrills as doors being knocked down, and available objects being thrown or smashed. (Video evidence.) Not unlike Jackass, without the assholes. The first episode airs tonight at 10pm ET/PT, with the second airing next Monday. If you miss the airings, consult here for the rerun schedule.

Source - Associated Press: Murray, OCC build ‘Caddyshack’ Motorcyle

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Posted by Ted Zee on August 07th 2006 | 9 Comments

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