The Final 'Sopranos' Deathwatch Begins

whodies.jpgAs April 8th approaches, and HBO breadwinner The Sopranos marches towards the series finale, odds-makers are again staking claim on an inherent segment of Monday morning water-cooler talk: the deathwatch. Gambling website BetUs.com is taking odds on who gets whacked first and last, if Tony exacts revenge on Uncle Junior for damn near offing him in episode 1 of Season 6 (which set Vegas on its ear last year), and whether or not Dr. Melfi finally crosses the line with T. For the record, odds are 2 to 1 that Tony doesn’t make it to the end, though James Gandolfini was reported present for a scene in an ice cream shop, shot for the last episode. Last note - Christopher is the early-favorite as the first to drop off the face of New Jersey. Why couldn’t it be A.J.?

Recent odds from Doc Sports:

Which character will be the 1st to get “whacked”
James Gandolfini (Anthony “Tony” Soprano): 17/2
Edie Falco (Carmela Soprano): 12/1
Michael Imperiolo (Christopher Moltisanti): 2/1
Lorraine Bracco (Dr. Jennifer Melfi): 6/1
Aida Turturro (Janice Soprano): 10/1
Steven Van Zandt (Silvio “Sil” Dante): 7/1
Dominic Chianese (Corrado “Junior” Soprano): 4/1
Tony Sirico (Peter Paul “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri: 4/1
Jamie-Lynn Sigler (Meadow Mariangela Soprano): 12/1
Robert Ller (Anthony “A.J.” Soprano, Jr.): 13/1
John “Johnny Sack” Sacrimoni (Vince Curatola): 7/2
Phil Leotardo (Frank Vincent): 5/1

Will Tony Soprano get “whacked”in season 6 part 2?
Yes: 2/1
No: 1/3

Will an immediate member of Tony Soprano’s family die this season?
James Gandolfini (Anthony “Tony” Soprano): 2/1
Edie Falco (Carmela Soprano): 3/1
Jamie-Lynn Sigler (Meadow Mariangela Soprano): 5/1
Robert Iler (Anthony “A.J.” Soprano, Jr.): 6/1
None: 3//2

Will Tony personally kill Uncle “Junior” in season 6 part 2 of the HBO Original Series “The Sopranos”??
Yes: 3/1
No: 1/5

Will Tony Soprano Sleep with Dr Melfi in season 6 part 2 of the HBO Original Series “The Sopranos”??
Yes: 2/1
No: 1/3

Related video: every major death & assassination (2:00), every last whack job (9:41).

Posted by Ted Zee on March 30th 2007 | 0 Comments

Make it a habit

No blog update? From now on, check here for quick hits in between.

Posted by Ted Zee on March 29th 2007 | 0 Comments

'Los Hijos del Hombre'

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With apologies to Marty, the best film of 2006 is now available on DVD - and really, it’s the one new release (opening - 1:54) you need to be concerned with for the moment. Students of film, take note - The Long Take.

Posted by Ted Zee on March 27th 2007 | 1 Comment

Trailer: 'Day Night Day Night'

Companion piece to lo-fi thriller Cavite? Counterpoint to 24? A 19-year-old (newcomer Luisa Williams), known only as “she” has a date with Times Square.

“Good work does polarize people, and people should have different opinions. The last thing in the world that I would want to do is to make a movie that everybody feels the same about.” - Director Julia Loktev (via The Reeler), whose Day Night Day Night is one to watch for.

Posted by Ted Zee on March 25th 2007 | 0 Comments

Free preview of 'This American Life'

this-american-life-logo.jpgShowtime has released a free, full-length preview online for the first episode of their televised version of This American Life - available here. Reviewed earlier.  Enjoy.

Posted by Ted Zee on March 23rd 2007 | 0 Comments

Big Screen Twitter

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Nerd Alert: just joined (what the hell is?) Twitter the other day and set up auto-notifications for proper-site posts. Also, micro-babble bus-blogging (what’s on tonight, mini-reviews, news links).

Something like deleted scenes or b-sides, but even more throwaway. Nevertheless, if like John Edwards or Henry Rollins, you’re an early-adopter - add TedZ.

Posted by Ted Zee on March 23rd 2007 | 4 Comments

Chloë Does Dos & Don'ts

Love her or hate her. Grade or be graded. Chloë Sevigny joins Vice Magazine’s Gavin McInnes in a Dos and Don’ts segment for VBS.TV, takes dig at a Project Runway champ. Joining the special clique that includes David Cross, Jay McCarroll (PR), and Judah Friedlander (30 Rock) in the continuing D & D video series, expect more like this from Chloë in the coming weeks.

Posted by Ted Zee on March 22nd 2007 | 0 Comments

Items: Sandler, Letterman, 'Huckabees' Tirades, Other Guys

adamanddon.jpg– David Letterman’s stomach flu was Adam Sandler’s gain Tuesday night, as Sandler went from guest to guest host after Dave’s last minute scratch from the show . Muddling through the monologue, diarrhea jokes with Danica Patrick, singing an “Endless Love” duet with Reign Over Me co-star Don Cheadle - all should provide a nice little opening weekend bump for Mr. Barry Egan. Youtubed: Opening guest.

– And if you’ve missed the tales of I Heart Huckabees director David O. Russell’s epic showdowns with Lily Tomlin, these videos (via Gawker) are both absolute must sees. Russell’s frothing, desk clearing tirade, and Tomlin’s F bombs directed at (an off-screen) Russell, Dustin Hoffman, and any motherfucker in the vicinity - time to Netflix queue up Huckabees with the newfound insight on why it was such a complete mess.

Francis Ford Coppola in cahoots with Tom Cruise’s newly acquired United Artists for Youth Without Youth. “Intellectually challenging and emotionally remote” says one insider. An “arty ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’” says another.

– “Visual iconoclastic genius” or “cinematic loon“? (via Deadline Hollywood.) Background dirt on why Across the Universe (trailer) director Julie Taymor wants to remove her name from the unauthorized edit of her film - a 60’s era love-story/musical set to Beatles hits.

Zach Braff - bad show, big head. [Starpulse]

Some Guy mistaken for Napoleon Dynamite by Ron Jeremy, friends, photogs. [via Defamer]

Zooey Deschanel as Janis Joplin biopic on hold, indefinitely. [Filmstalker]

Ricky Gervais says Extras is done, save for one last special (ala The Office Christmas).

Catherine Keener and Robin Wright-Penn to join Robert De Niro for Barry Levinson’s What Just Happened? [CHUD]

Posted by Ted Zee on March 21st 2007 | 1 Comment

Review: 'This American Life' on Showtime

ira-glass-on-showtimes-this-american-life.jpg“A surprising number of public radio listeners are suspicious of anything on TV. They see radio as an inherently superior medium, which I don’t agree with.”- Ira Glass.

Probably the most common questions from the This American Life faithful when learning of the public radio-to-cable television adaptation are “How?” and “Why?” When approached by Showtime representatives back in 2002, even Glass was skeptical of their motives, finding it hard to visualize where his storytelling would fit among the sex and violence which is commonplace, and to this point, expected from premium cable subscribers.

To his surprise, the network came back to the table with executive producer Christine Vachon, whose indie production company Killer Films carved a niche for itself with such against-the-grain pictures as Kids, Boys Don’t Cry, and Far From Heaven. Sensing an opportunity to create something completely new for television, in the same way his radio show separated itself from standard fare, Glass and his producers moved forward with the project, culminating in a six-month shoot in locations across the country.

Having viewed the first four episodes, I can say that the trademarked voice and cadence of the celebrated radio show are still intact - only elevated by the cinematography, which should come as a relief to any of the faithful willing to make the jump, and give newcomers to the party a contrasted option to other Showtime series, such as Weeds and Dexter.

Each 30-minute show begins with a short teaser story to introduce the theme. Next, you see Glass himself, sitting at a talk show desk (ala Leno/Letterman) adorned with microphone and coffee mug - the scenery for the out-of-place host and desk varies from one random, innocuous locale to another.

The six episode run for TAL features mostly original stories, but longtime listeners of the show will recognize those told in the pilot. The first: a rancher’s prized bull passes away. Not satisfied with the memories alone, he chooses to have the bull cloned, only to find that what the double possessed in physical characteristics, it completely lacked in hospitable demeanor - attempting to gore his owner to death.

Other stories include a young documentarian who sets out to expose his stepfather’s faults, only to find that his mother’s substance abuse played an equal part in his rough upbringing. Meanwhile, a much older filmmaker gathers her nursing home residents to help her make her first picture, in hopes of getting accepted into Sundance. Another has Glass and company traveling to Utah to watch Mormons, atheists, and hippies gather in the Mojave Desert as an artist seeks to re-create biblical scenes.

The newfound visual component varies between classic documentary style and abstracted eye-candy, paired with ambient sounds from indie-leaning audio tracks. Although Glass and his small team of producers and filmmakers shy away from classifying the shows as documentaries (he likes the phrase “dramatic stories that happen to be true”), it’s hard to deny that there are similarities in the use of found photos, footage, and talking head interviews. What separates This American Life from traditional documentary work, while avoiding the “reality” stigma are stories that are equal parts funny and dramatic - everyday people in situations that are relatable to viewers - narratives constructed in such a way that you’d be hard pressed to walk away before knowing the outcome. Devoid of spin or ham-fisted manipulation - as always, it’s the storytelling that sets This American Life apart.

This American Life debuts Thursday, March 22 at 10:30.

Primer material:
– Trailers: 1 - 2 - 3
– Glass compares and contrasts the Showtime series to the radio version on NPR’s Fresh Air.
– Four part video: Glass on Storytelling
– Listen to the This American Life archives

Posted by Ted Zee on March 18th 2007 | 2 Comments

Trailer: Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney in 'The Savages'

sav.jpg Not sure how one could go wrong with the casting of Phillip Seymour Hoffman (looking Love Liza era haggard) or Laura Linney in this story of siblings Wendy and Jon Savage - reprieved temporarily from their own crumbling matters, coming together to tend to their estranged father. Directed by Tamara Jenkins (Slums of Beverly Hills), everything appears to be in order, although the inclusion of Spoon’s “Way We Get By” has become a default soundtrack choice for mid-life crisis narratives (see Stranger Than Fiction), maybe taking the trailer’s efficacy down a few notches, towards harmless/cloying.  The Savages Trailer - via ComingSoon.

Posted by Ted Zee on March 16th 2007 | 8 Comments

Casual Browsing: Parental Guidance Ed.

knocked-up.jpg– Early word from the inside is that everyone wants to take Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up (R rated trailer) out behind the middle school to get it pregnant. “They’re saying how it’s funnier and filthier than The 40 Year Old Virgin which Judd Apatow also wrote and directed and produced, but also has that same level of emotional honesty.” [Deadline Hollywood]

– Just one of many Grindhouse waves to come before the April 6th debut: a 25 minute making-of-Grindhouse featurette [MovieWeb]. Variety throws-back to a 1991 Q&A with a fresh-faced Tarantino, before Reservoir Dogs hit Sundance between the eyes. More retro: 1994 Quentin on Robert De Niro video [The Hot Blog]. Robert Rodriguez picks the finalists of the amateur fake trailer competition [Cinema Blend] with Hobo With a Shotgun coming out on top, although we would have bet on Maiden of Death.

Secretary, David Cronenberg’s Crash, In the Realm of the Senses, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! - ScreenGrab lists and YouTubes 14 of the Kinkiest Films that don’t involve sneaking past a curtain or into a backroom of some sort. Part 1 - Part 2.

– “Generally, it is not appropriate for parents to bring their young children with them to R-rated motion pictures.” Still reeling from the This Film Is Not Yet Rated effect, and hearing it from parent groups on the other end of the spectrum, the MPAA at least has the common sense to add an “advisory” (albeit flaccid) for deadbeat parentals to refrain from buying tickets to Saw 3 for baby’s night out. Yes, it happens. Still, no “Hard R” yet.

Posted by Ted Zee on March 15th 2007 | 2 Comments

Casual Browsing: All Ages Ed.

spike-jonze.jpg– Yeah, yeah - a Barrymore and Spike Jonze sighting…yawn. Give me a Jonze and Where the Wild Things Are sighting please. Via AICN, who also provide early impressions on Alan Ball’s (writer of American Beauty, Six Feet Under) upcoming feature-film directorial debut - Nothing is Private.

Attn: Seattle, The Stranger is hosting an event (last item) for indie darling Miranda July on May 17th (Neumo’s) for “a reading, a live interview, special guests, and a dance party.” Totally related to her new book No One Belongs Here More Than You, though probably having little to do with Things We Don’t Understand and even less to do with the fact that David Byrne loves her.

Film Experience ranks Woody Allen’s muses in order of appearances, in celebration of the just-confirmed number 3 for Scarlett Johansson. Speaking of - is Broadway next?

– More rankings: A quick five for Christopher Walken, with commentary. [The House Next Door]

– Magnolia continues to play with near-simultaneous releases between theater/cable/DVD offerings, this time with John Malkovich’s Color Me Kubrik (trailer). [DVD Dossier]

Semi-spoilers for season 2 of Dexter.

– NBC finally time-shifts the stink from between The Office and 30 Rock and unites the good stuff, back to back.

Posted by Ted Zee on March 15th 2007 | 1 Comment

They won't get you girls

Overheard whilst getting a few hairs cut:

Cuttee: 10,000 people… downloaded podcast… Utah… brainwashed… sideburns… budgetary constraints… Bottle Rocketfree-form… Cassavetes…

Cutter: John Who?

Cuttee: Cassavetes… anyways maybe… podcast… see you… sometime?

Cutter: Um, well I have to work like 6 days a week so I don’t…

Posted by Ted Zee on March 14th 2007 | 3 Comments

Trailer: Adrienne Shelly in 'Waitress'

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Starring Kerri Russell, the romantic comedy Waitress debuted at the Sundance Film Festival just two months after the film’s writer/director Adrienne Shelly was found dead in her New York apartment in what was first thought to be a suicide, but deemed a murder a week later. As an actress, Shelly (pictured left, along with Curb Your Enthusiam’s Cheryl Hines, and Russell) was a staple of director Hal Hartley’s early movies (Unbelievable Truth, Trust) and went on to direct and write three feature-length films of her own, concluding with Waitress. By accounts from early reviews - the film will likely, posthumously garner the indie starlet her largest and most mainstream audience. Trailer.

Posted by Ted Zee on March 12th 2007 | 0 Comments

Tracy Morgan Will Wreck Your Talk Show for Free

Which Tracy poses more of a threat to your talk show career - Jordan or Morgan? 30 seconds in and life imitates the best new comedy going. I’m Captain James T. Kirk. I’m going to Vietnam.

Video via A.V. Club. Somebody gonna get pregnant.

Posted by Ted Zee on March 09th 2007 | 6 Comments

Trailer - John Malkovich in 'Color Me Kubrick'

Based on the true-story of Londoner Alan Conway, who duped a number of actors and entertainers - even Hollywood producers, posing as the great Stanley Kubrick - a recluse who never wanted the attention to begin with. As Conway is John Malkovich, who would never say no to a good tale of fraudulent celebrity.

Color Me Kubrick trailer via Coming Soon.

Posted by Ted Zee on March 08th 2007 | 0 Comments

Items - Don't do it

wristcutters.jpg– If not for lagging behind the Aqua Teen snafu, the post-suicide roadtripper Wristcutters: A Love Story (trailer), starring Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon (pictured), and Tom Waits, could have inspired the early front-runner for controversial marketing scheme of the year, using cardboard cutouts of characters cheating life by jumping off bridges, or hanging themselves.

– Speaking of slitting your wrists, The Gap employs Little Miss Sunshine directing tandem Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton to construct another bit of fluff, this time with Claire Danes and Patrick Wilson (Little Children). Video provided by Film Ick.

– New news on latest muse - Woody Allen wants a third go-round with Scarlett Johansson, while adding Penelope Cruz to the mix in his upcoming project set to shoot in Barcelona. [Cinema Blend]

– A handful of on-set images from Wes Anderson’s Darjeeling Limited [Brodylicious]. Already showcased last year by L.M. Sunshine and Children of Men - this push-starting automobiles business still has legs.

Jason Lee to partake in the live action/CGI Alvin and the Chipmunks. Is no after-school programming sacred?

Posted by Ted Zee on March 08th 2007 | 0 Comments

'The Sopranos' Grace Vanity Fair

sopranos1.jpgGandolfini says “It’s time for me to do other things” as Tony, Carmela, and the family, along with The Sopranos creator David Chase are featured in the April issue of Vanity Fair, which should just be hitting newsstands now.

Included among the photo spreads are graphic homages to a few castmates “gone missing”, such as Big Pussy, Joey Pants, and Adriana, says Access. Video of the Annie Leibovitz helmed photo shoot available here. Via Pop Candy.

The season premiere airs April 8th, as we tumble towards the beginning of the end for Tony, I mean The Sopranos. But really, does anyone not see where this is all heading? Or does David Chase have an honest to goodness shocker up his sleeve?

Posted by Ted Zee on March 07th 2007 | 17 Comments

Items: Lauren Ambrose & Parker Posey, Fay Grim, Premiere is Dead

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– Help is on the way, now that Lauren Ambrose has fallen back in step with Six Feet Under sibs Peter Krause (ABC’s Dirty Sexy Money) and Michael C. Hall (Showtime’s Dexter) to save television, or at least bring some heat to their respective networks. Ambrose has signed on to play the younger sister of Parker Posey in the Fox comedy The Return of Jezebel James.

– More Posey: Parker & Jeff Goldblum get together for Fay Grim, follow-up to Hal Hartley’s Henry Fool (1997). Fay Grim Trailer, from our esteemed colleagues over at Film Junk.

Premiere Magazine, as most of us know it, is dead. After the release of the April issue, the mag goes online only, which to some, will be a good thing. Via Deadline Hollywood.

Posted by Ted Zee on March 06th 2007 | 1 Comment

Chloë Says...

cloe.jpgFrom the Chloë Sevigny newsdesk (via Starpulse):

Apparently bored by the source material for David Fincher’s Zodiac (and I have to say, a good number of the local opening night crowd were mumbling similar thoughts about the film itself), she tossed her homework aside:

“I started reading ‘Zodiac Unmasked’ before we went into production and I couldn’t get through it. I found it slightly tedious. He (author Robert Graysmith) went so in depth into the details and I just wasn’t that interested…I did, however, feel slightly embarrassed because all the men on the set knew so much about it and they had all these crazy details from the book.”

Also, the 32-year-old actress is still upset about the critical and public reaction to her all-too-real fellatio scene in The Brown Bunny, directed by ex-boyfriend Vincent Gallo - the same film that caused her talent agency to drop her after its release, and the same that Roger Ebert referred to (the original version that premiered at Cannes) as less entertaining than a colonoscopy: (More here about the feud between Gallo and Ebert. “[Gallo] further elaborated that I ‘burped and farted’ during the screening. Not true.”)

Chloë:  “I seem to question myself every day why I crossed the line in The Brown Bunny, but I really believed in the director as an artist. I guess I just thought, ‘I could go to this extreme once,’ but perhaps it was the wrong choice…Making it for me was not difficult but the reaction from the public has been very difficult for me to handle.”

Posted by Ted Zee on March 05th 2007 | 3 Comments

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