The Sundance Film Festival has unwrapped the dramatic and documentary competition entries, listed here, via Variety. A few early buzz generating titles:
Broken English - Directed by Zoe Cassavetes (yes, offspring of that Cassavetes), starring Parker Posey as a single thirty-something frustrated by the successful relationships of her friends - a string of bad dates finally leads to Julian, the “offbeat Frenchman”. Also features Gena Rowlands, Drea de Matteo, and Peter Bogdanovich.
Teeth - As described by The New York Times: Directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein — the son of the artist Roy Lichtenstein and an actor who starred in Ang Lee’s “Wedding Banquet” — a high school student who is the object of male violence discovers that she has a quite literal case of vagina dentata. Several men learn this the hard way, in what might be called a feminist horror film.
The Untitled Dakota Fanning Project, aka Hounddog: Fanning stars in a Southern gothic tale about a precocious girl that emulates Elvis Presley’s song and dance routine. Precocious? Dakota Fanning? I’m just as shocked as you are.
Zoo - Documentary described as “a humanizing look at the life and bizarre death of a seemingly normal Seattle family man who met his untimely end after an unusual encounter with a horse.” For clarity’s sake, scratch out the “unusual encounter” bit with “sex - with a horse, the hard way” (news item, Seattle Times).
- Posted by Ted Zee on November 30th 2006 | 0 Comments
Little Miss Sunshine and Half Nelson leading the pack for Independent Spirit Awards nominations.
Hate mail baiting: Slackers? Shopgirl? It’s not that Jason Schwartzman is totally devoid of talent, but can we move away from the half-baked, atrophied, Max Fischer-ed roles? Antoinette - a baby step towards adulthood, at the very least. Here we find a video interview of the man in question, matching
bathrobeswits with an Incubus counterpart not worthy of mention. Fittingly, via MySpace.
“I want this shot of 50,000 real gang members all on Long Beach - The Crips, The Bloods, the Vietnamese, the Cambodians, the 18th Street gang, all there. It’s going to be cool.” - Director Tony Scott, on plans for a remake of The Warriors.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros. mulls V for Vendetta - Two.
Steven Soderberg - nitpicked and second guessed at a cold NYC reception for The Good German.
Lucy Liu talks 3 Needles - the global AIDS crisis triptych, also featuring Stockard Channing, Cloe Sevigny, and Sandra Oh. Trailer.
Making sense of Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain - a fruitless endeavor?
Blogging HBO’s The Wire, arguably the best thing going on television.
Via Defamer, a new dating show will test your GayDAR coordinates.
Lists: Secretary, Me And You And Everyone We Know, and Punch-Drunk Love listed among A.V Club’s 9 Recent Attempts to Save the Romantic Comedy
– Premiere’s 20 Most Overrated Movies
– TV-Land’s 100 greatest TV catchphrases
Video: I Love the 80’s: Japan
- Posted by Ted Zee on November 28th 2006 | 1 Comment
Jack Black recently shared some stories on The Science of Sleep director Michel Gondry’s next bit of playfulness, Be Kind Rewind, shot in Passaic, N.J. In the film, Black’s brain is magnetized in an accident, and he subsequently erases all of the tapes in his friend’s (played by Mos Def) local video store. In order to appease the store’s one loyal customer (a senile Mia Farrow), the two must re-create and re-shoot an assortment of Hollywood hits. In the process, Black finds himself starring in such appropriately cast roles as a Thrilla in Manila era Muhammad Ali and the chauffeur in Driving Miss Daisy.
“There [were] tons of movies that we did,” Black said of the upcoming Michel Gondry-directed film. “We did ‘When We Were Kings,’ the documentary about Muhammad Ali — I play Muhammad Ali, strangely. We did ‘Superman.’ I probably shouldn’t say that … we had to change the name of it to something else — ‘Incredible Flying Man,’ I think. We did ‘Ghostbusters,’ we did ‘Robocop,’ we did ‘Driving Miss Daisy,’ just to name a few…We were under strict orders not to watch any of the movies again, and if we had not seen it, [not to] see it,” he explained. “[Gondry] wanted it to look that way, [like it] was based on the commercials that you had seen of the movie. Because there was no time in the movie for us to do any research, he wanted to keep that consistent with us as actors — to not have time to research the movies we were remaking.”- via VH1
From Gondry, on the re-creation process:
“…They are doing all the effects themselves. They take the tapes that have been erased, the VHS, they re-shoot them on top. Say it’s an old movie they shoot through layers of hanging string to pretend it is scratchy. They shoot through a fan to make it flickering. They use firecrackers for sound. It’s very fun. After all, I don’t do movies to get bored.” - interview via Ropes of Silicon
And if Gondry were to somehow get bored with film, there’s always the lucrative music video business as a fall-back, or cornball ad spots even - such as this gem of a collaboration with George Clooney, for Nespresso coffee machines (video from film ick.) Of course, this is hardly new territory for Gondry, or other top-tier directors - just ask Syriana writer/director Stephen Gaghan (for Heinecken, in a Casino Royale spoof), or Wong Kar-Wai (BMW).
Previously: Review Roundup - The Science of Sleep
- Posted by Ted Zee on November 25th 2006 | 0 Comments
Obit: Robert Altman, the iconoclastic, prolific, periodically brilliant director of such films as “MASH,” “McCabe and Mrs. Miller,” “Nashville,” “The Player” and “Gosford Park,” died Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of complications due to cancer. He was 81. - Variety
Author and radio host Garrison Keillor, star of Altman’s last film A Prairie Home Companion, on the “actor’s director”:
“Mr. Altman loved making movies. He loved the chaos of shooting and the sociability of the crew and actors — he adored actors — and he loved the editing room and he especially loved sitting in a screening room and watching the thing over and over with other people. He didn’t care for the money end of things, he didn’t mind doing publicity, but when he was working he was in heaven.” - AP
See also: Roger Ebert’s Altman Home Companion (selected reviews), as well as GreenCine Daily’s comprehensive coverage of the web’s reaction to today’s loss, one of my favorites being the notion that Altman had effectively passed the torch to the next generation’s go-to guy for free-flowing, genre-busting, American ensemble pieces - P.T. Anderson, who aided Altman (some rumored that he damn near directed the film in his stead), due to his degenerating health, on the set of Prairie Home Companion.
And while we’re on the subject, the next question is, what will become of the fictional treatment of Hands on a Hardbody (based on the 1997 documentary), what would have likely been Altman’s next picture? - asks Variety
- Posted by Ted Zee on November 21st 2006 | 1 Comment
newsrumors via Atlanta’s very own Goldenfiddle - English model-slash-actress Camila Rutherford (Godsford Park, Rome) is set to join the cast of Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited, according to columnist Liz Smith. Rutherford would play the pregnant wife of Adrien Brody in the film, who along with co-stars Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman, are three brothers on a spiritual journey through India after the death of their father.
Previously: Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited
- Posted by Ted Zee on November 21st 2006 | 0 Comments
HBO adds an “extra” ninth episode to the final stretch of The Sopranos, with the first, beginning of the end episode to air on April 8th.
Things we know about HBO’s John From Cincinnati:
- John, shot in Imperial Beach, CA., features Austin Nichols, Ed O’Neil, Luis Guzman, Brian Van Holt, Rebecca De Mornay, and Luke Perry in what’s been frequently referred to as “surf noir”.
- There’s surfers, skateboarders, heroin addicts, and space aliens.
- Creator David Milch, along with surf novelist Kem Nunn, hone in on a dysfunctional family, some of which may be able to levitate (yes literally).
- Milch may very likely be insane, and John sounds truly wacked, but with Deadwood, one of a handful of television series that should fall into the category of “required” viewing (as opposed to “escapist” or “for a few laughs”) in his resume, let’s show a little faith - more via The New York Times.
Rainn Wilson (The Office) makes his feature screenwriting debut while joining director Jason Reitman for Bonzai Shadowhands. Described as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon meets Midnight Cowboy”, Rainn, who will also star in the film, plans to bounce script ideas off his Office co-workers - “I am going to take my outline to all of the writers and one by one get their ideas and feedback, and by the end of that, it’ll be kick-ass in a way only a ninja can kick ass.” - Hollywood Reporter
Fox News is planning a right-leaning Daily Show-like program, entitled This Just In. Producer Joel Surnow explains that the show targets “the scared cows of the left” and will “play more to the Fox News audience than the Michael Moore channel.” Sure to be a knee-slapper. - TV Squad
Speaking of ill-conceived, I submit - a day in the life of Kramer. A (not safe for work) video of Michael Richard’s room clearing, racist comedy club tirade hits the net Monday morning, makes national news by lunchtime, and by afternoon he’s incoherently backtracking, via satellite to an oblivious audience on Letterman, with Jerry Seinfeld around for some hand holding. And that’s a wrap, on his career.
- Posted by Ted Zee on November 21st 2006 | 0 Comments
Director Tony Scott is talking up a remake of The Warriors, moving the story from east coast to west, employing thousands of extras, maybe even some honest-to-goodness gang members.
Speaking of do-overs, December 5th marks the arrival of the Unrated Director’s Cut for Michael Mann’s unfortunate swing and miss - Miami Vice, featuring a previously unseen boat chase opening - glimpses of which can be seen in an old trailer.
David Cronenberg reteams with A History of Violence star Viggo Mortensen, along with Naomi Watts in Eastern Promises, set to begin production this week.
Anjelica Huston’s third directorial project - Give Us a Kiss.
Luke Perry to officially join the cast of John From Cincinnati, Deadwood creator David Milch’s next eagerly anticipated HBO series.
Brett Ratner to direct an untitled Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy collaboration, with the two as Trump Tower janitors, planning a heist to rob it’s inhabitants.
- Posted by Ted Zee on November 20th 2006 | 1 Comment
Zodiac - Director David Fincher’s (Se7en, Fight Club) retelling of the still unsolved search for San Francisco’s Zodiac Killer during the late 60’s and 70’s. Jake Gyllenhall portrays San Francisco Chronicle staffer Robert Graysmith, whose books the film is based from. With Robert Downey Jr. as another Chronicle journalist, and Mark Ruffalo as a homicide detective, Zodiac also features Chloë (!) Sevigny as Graysmith’s girlfriend. - Trailer
3 Needles - Lucy Liu, Chloë Sevigny, Olympia Dukakis, Sandra Oh, Stockard Channing, Shawn Ashmore. Spanning from Montreal, to South Africa and China, 3 Needles - 3 stories of the global AIDS epidemic. - Trailer
- Posted by Ted Zee on November 17th 2006 | 1 Comment
Factory Girl - Guy Pearce as Andy Warhol, Sienna Miller as his muse and It girl, Edie Sedgwick. Says Lou Reed, who used to run with Sedgwick - “I read that script. It’s one of the most disgusting, foul things I’ve seen - by any illiterate retard - in a long time. There’s no limit to how low some people will go to write something to make money”. Trailer
Smokin’ Aces - Jason Bateman, Ben Affleck, Andy Garcia, Common, Ryan Reynolds, and Ray Liotta star in this hyperactive mob comedy. Everyone is out to put a hit on Vegas performer-turned-snitch, Buddy “Aces” Israel (Jeremy Piven). Trailer
- Posted by Ted Zee on November 16th 2006 | 0 Comments
Update: Eva Longoria and Beyonce are now denying any involvement in Tipping the Velvet. - “What makes me crazy is that there are quotes out there, quotes from me saying it’s true. But in fact it’s not true. And (there are) quotes of Beyonce saying it’s about time we had a female Brokeback Mountain. And we’re like, we never said that.” As for Sofia’s rumored involvement - no official word yet.
There’s at least two ways to tell this story. An easy attention grabber would call for a base approach, maybe a title along the lines of “Beyonce’ Knowles and Eva Longoria To Get Lesbionic”. According to Hollywood.com, the two are reportedly in talks to star in Tipping the Velvet, a film adaptation of the Sarah Waters novel (”a plot awash with graphic lesbian sex”, says Publishers Weekly), previously seen as a BBC miniseries. - via Cinematical.
More interesting, at least to a handful of observers, is the rumor that Sofia Coppola may be lined up to direct Velvet, in what would be her third book-to-film adaptation, following Virgin Suicides and Antoinette, allowing the much maligned director to further her complete disregard for “the safe route” in Hollywood. Say what you will about Coppola - her family’s wealth, fame, and backing - or her predisposition towards aesthetics, over say, substance - but you’ve got to hand it to her for chutzpah, if nothing else.
From Antonia Fraser, who collaborated with Sofia on developing her biography, Marie Antoinette: The Journey, into the screenplay, an example of the director’s cavalier approach:
“I reflected privately that Sofia is rather like Marie Antoinette (except she is not at all capricious), who didn’t like politics…When she asked me lightly, “Would it matter if I leave out the politics?,” I replied with absolute honesty, ‘Marie Antoinette would have adored that.’” - More from Fraser, on the adaptation - from Vanity Fair.
So yes - Beyonce’, Longoria - working “together” with erotic source material set in 1890’s London. That’s all well and good. But what about Sofia versus The Critics - Part 2? The controversy, intrinsic to the content, coupled with the attention of the two stars, could prove to equal or better all of the mud-slinging that led up to Antoinette’s debut in the states. Or so I hope.
- Posted by Ted Zee on November 14th 2006 | 0 Comments
And then there’s The Simpsons Movie Trailer. Film debuts 7/27/07.
It’s never too late to ruin a good thing. Thus, you very well might see The Godfather Returns.
Arrested Development’s Will Arnett, and SNL’s Will Forte in The Brothers Solomon, directed by Bob Odenkirk.
Was casting Daniel Craig as James Bond a risk? Watch him in Layer Cake before you answer.
Six years before finding himself having to break bread with Nancy Pelosi, George W. Bush was getting real with Nancy’s daughter, Alexandra, making googley eyes for the camera in her documentary Journeys With George (with trailer).
“Using computer facial-scanning software, British scientists determined that Gervais has the kind of face most likely to generate laughs, based on his combination of a round face, small forehead, wide nose, big lips, large eyes and high cheekbones…Responding to the findings, Gervais says he was “shocked” to learn his success was due to the fact ‘I’ve got a fat, girly face.’” - via TV Tattle.
Very Related: Gervais and Stephen Merchant returned to The Office, so to speak, writing the script for the November 30th episode of NBC’s version.
- Posted by Ted Zee on November 13th 2006 | 0 Comments
Easily the most memorable scene in Stranger Than Fiction (reviews - via metacritic) involves a timidly strummed Will Farrell rendition of the 1977 Wreckless Eric classic - “Whole Wide World”. Covered by at least 18 acts, if this isn’t one of the best pop songs ever, I don’t know what is.
More: Whole Wide World, performed live. 1977.
- Posted by Ted Zee on November 12th 2006 | 2 Comments
Lightning round links. Updates over the weekend.
Idea theft - Pirates of the Caribbean, The Matrix, The Last Samurai, Broken Flowers, Amistad, Rounders - all have faced lawsuits due to accusations of stolen concepts.
Dane Cook - Contemporaries sing his praises - “Is he funny?” “They can’t stand this poor guy.” “Snatched a lot of material” “How can any comedian get this famous with no jokes?
Kevin Smith - Do the same quotes apply? The director will join the cast of Showtime comedy Manchild.
David Duchovny - Starring in one dramatic series, and helping a new comedy off the ground, both for Showtime. - Variety
Luke Wilson - “often hung over and late to the set, and when he does show, insists on bragging about ‘all the girls he hooked up with over the weekend and how drunk he got.’” - Defamer
Studio 60 - NBC orders full season.
My Blueberry Nights - Wong Kar Wai’s latest picked up by The Weinstein Company
Casino Royale - 10 clips from the lastest Bond iteration. Via ComingSoon.net
For Your Consideration - YouTube has a dedicated channel for Christopher Guest’s film, opening next week. Also features clips from A Mighty Wind, Best in Show, and Waiting for Guffman. Via Pop Candy
Fast Food Nation - Coming Soon interivews director Richard Linklater
- Posted by Ted Zee on November 10th 2006 | 1 Comment
Spiderman 3 trailer.
Click “more” to see it here. Or watch a High Def version at IFilm.
No further exposition warranted.
End of transmission.
- Posted by Ted Zee on November 09th 2006 | 3 Comments
For Your Consideration cast member, Catherine O’Hara, took a few moments from promoting the new Christopher Guest film (opening in limited release November 17, wider the week after) to talk about Spike Jonze’s adaptation of the Maurice Sendak children’s classic, Where the Wild Things Are. The actress, who provided voice work for the live-action/animated film spoke about fleshing out the imaginary creatures/friends of one young Max, whose bedroom is transformed into the land of the Wild Things.
“We had Forest Whitaker and James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener, Michelle Williams and, oh, man, please get the list. Really great actors. We all workshopped the characters of the Wild Things. Catherine Keener and Spike Jonze [Being John Malkovich] took turns playing the little boy, Max…..and the rest of us played the Wild Things. I’m one of the Wild Things. My name is Judith. We shot this for two weeks on a commercial stage in L.A., and then they took that, basically our voices, but also our character work, and they were using a mixture [of live] and CG effects, and they’re now shooting it in Australia, with a live little boy.
“The whole cast and Spike had this I-chat one day with Maurice Sendak. His monitor wasn’t working great, and there were so many of us in the room that Spike asked him to basically just talk to us about the book and when it came out and about children and about movies and about life. I swear to you, I cried three times during this, and I laughed. What an interesting, smart, beautiful man.”
Look for Where the Wild Things Are to be released in 2008.
Via Sci Fi Wire
- Posted by Ted Zee on November 09th 2006 | 5 Comments
Comedy Central’s own Officer Dangle and company hit the east coast to rub elbows at the national police convention during spring break, where they find themselves in the right place, at the right time to fight terror, crash Suge Knight parties, and hit the beach in Reno 911!: Miami.
Release date: February 23, 2007
Tags: Reno 911
- Posted by Ted Zee on November 07th 2006 | 5 Comments
Taking a stroll down music video lane - two years before marriage, Spike’s Being John Malkovich, Sofia’s The Virgin Suicides, and six years before they parted ways - The Chemical Brother’s Elektrobank. As Spike tells it, from The Work of Director Spike Jonze DVD:
What did you have to bribe your girlfriend with to get her to put on a unitard and do gymnastics?
(laughs) I don’t know. She was such a good sport. Not only was she a good sport to let us put her in those clothes and let us tease her hair up, but she also was a good sport, because after half of the first day, she was so sore and tired. We made her rehearse and learn gymnastics with a gymnast, learn dance and a style of ribbonwork. And she had to rehearse and take it seriously. She was so sore and tired, and she’s not used to that kind of athletic workout (laughs). She would be all crank. I’d be like, “Sofia, uh, we gotta do another take,” and she’d be all mad at me (laughs) ’cause her legs were so sore. After the first two days of rehearsal we got her to a really good masseuse.
Previously: Marie Antoinette - a quotational reference guide
- Posted by Ted Zee on November 07th 2006 | 2 Comments
Aaron Sorkin’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, long rumored to be on the cancellation block, now seems to have a little momentum going the other way, and an order for a full season may be coming from NBC. The Hollywood Reporter claims that the creator expects to hear word about the show’s fate before next Tuesday, and due to an uptick in Studio 60’s ratings, Sorkin says “we’re starting to feel optimistic around here”, pointing out that The West Wing hadn’t garnered much attention until it’s second season. “Sources” claim “I’d be very surprised at this point if the show weren’t picked up (for the full season) in the next couple of days.” And the folks over at SaveStudio60.com pump their fists. Via TV Squad.
- Posted by Ted Zee on November 07th 2006 | 0 Comments
You know, I’ve seen enough of Sacha Baron Coen’s The Ali G Show to know exactly what I’d be missing if I excluded myself from this weekend’s festivities, with the film pulling in great numbers (a reported 26.4 million) for a limited release - on about 800 screens. I enjoy Sacha’s antics in short stints, but can’t be bothered to sit though Borat’s 84 minutes. Maybe if I would have felt more compelled to join the hordes if the film hadn’t been rammed down my throat over the past two months.
Not that my tirade last week about the over aggressive marketing of the film was intended to change anyone’s mind, or that I’m foolish enough to believe it would, but I’ll take small comfort in the minuscule contingent of contrarians out there that haven’t been fully bowled over by the Borat effect. Take this article for instance, which documents the less spontaneous side of Coen, who “asked print reporters to submit questions to Borat via e-mail, even went so far as to read from a Teleprompter at his TV press junket ‘interviews’”. Perhaps it’s just a bi-product of the non-stop hard-sell that sapped the improvisational spirit from the comedian.
Former Cinematical editor Karina Longworth (video review below) is also less than enamoured, claiming, “as comedy and social commentary, Borat fails more than it succeeds”. She also points out that most of Borat’s schtick has been worn out over the course of the promotion - “If you’ve seen Borat on Conan or The Today Show, or if you’ve ever been on Myspace or YouTube, or if you like, live in the world, you’ve seen 75 percent of this movie.” But hey, she also says the other 25 percent is worth the price of admission.
Previously: Borat: Let’s get it over with
- Posted by Ted Zee on November 06th 2006 | 19 Comments
Proving in fact, that there is a demand among viewers for benevolent serial-killers and pot-distributing, near-deadbeat matriarchs, Showtime has ordered a second season for Michael C. Hall’s Dexter and is very near to finalizing a deal to bring back Mary Louise Parker and Weeds back for a third, reports Variety. Dexter, renewed after only airing it’s first five episodes, is a “home run for us, both critically and in popularity. The show was launched at the height of all the broadcast networks’ fall launches and instantly became our highest-rated show” claims Showtime entertainment president Robert Greenblatt.
- Posted by Ted Zee on November 06th 2006 | 4 Comments