'My Blueberry Nights' Poster, More Glimpses

Update: Image removed by request of Christal Films.

Near the top of our 2007 wishlist, somewhere between P.T. Anderson’s There Will Be Blood and these two, is My Blueberry Nights – living legend Wong Kar Wai’s first foray into English language filmmaking – and thankfully, as of late there’s been a slow trickle of Blueberry media making the rounds. To go along with recent stills (1 and 2) from the film, NataliePortman.com has posted this one-sheet for the film’s much anticipated debut at Cannes.

The picture stars Norah Jones, who with a little help from Portman, Jude Law, and Rachel Weisz, embarks on a “soul searching” road trip across the states.

Although Nights is likely found to be mind-numbing to the US Weekly crowd attracted by its star power, and otherwise greeted with glazed-over eyes by the mulitplex set, critics and cinephiles remain elated by the prospects of the heavily shrouded production, and low box-office numbers be damned, we’ll be there.

Previously: Wong Kar Wai’s on-set inspiration – Cat Power’s The Greatest.

Related star-struck photos of the cast: Just Jared.

Posted by Ted Zee on April 29th 2007 | 1 Comment

Without Alec Baldwin, '30 Rock' Would Struggle to Survive

With the season finale of 30 Rock airing this evening, speculation over the offseason is bound to focus on its future, now that Alec Baldwin has gone public with his desire to leave the show. In a taped segment for The View to air on Friday, an emotional Baldwin said that in light of his public embarrassment over the released voicemail sent to his 11 year-old daughter in anger, he’d like NBC to release him from his contract so that he may devote his time to parental-rights issues. Later, NBC released a statement saying “Alec Baldwin remains an important part of `30 Rock.’ We look forward to having him continue his role in the show.” The network recently renewed the sitcom for a second season, and the AP says that sources claim Baldwin will honor his obligation. But with the actor so fully entrenched in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, and seemingly crumbling under the scrutiny, it’s hard not to wonder if he’ll ultimately receive his wish to leave the show.

30 Rock was built on a three star platform of Tracy Morgan, Baldwin, and Tina Fey. The two camps on SNL alum Morgan, probably designated before the first show aired, are either loving or hating him – it’s Fey that’s the surprise commodity. Her original deal with the network was just to write the show, but was encouraged by execs to slide into a leading role, gradually becoming a key to its critical success as confidence in her acting chops developed over time. Mouthing her own scripted words, she has an unforced, matter-of-fact delivery that serves as balance to Morgan’s non sequiturs and Baldwin’s monotone pomposity. With the focus shifting far from the original behind-the-scenes of SNL concept (that rival Studio 60 so clearly hung itself with) to a more Liz Lemon-centric narrative, Fey, a reluctant participant at the onset – now a full season in, is on a Mary Tyler Moore-like rise.

Regardless of contributions made by Morgan, Fey, and company, much of the outside attention has been on Alec from the start. Playing a broadcast network Daddy Warbucks of sorts, Baldwin can boast in offering most of the show’s most memorable moments each week, generally in one-on-ones with Fey as her boss slash self-appointed mentor. Easily the most recognized name of the bunch, with concurrent film projects to help keep his name in the papers (for more dignified reasons), and a Golden Globe win for his turn on 30 Rock, – it’s Baldwin that shoulders a large part of the show’s weight.

Can 30 Rock tread water, quality-wise, without Baldwin? Absolutely. The writing, and remaining cast is that good. The real question is whether NBC can afford to lose him. With the network having just hit its all time lowest prime-time ratings mark, for the second week in a row, and the Thursday night lineup struggling to find new viewers despite the critical love for Earl, The Office, and 30 Rock, losing more than a third of its star power could be a deathblow to the show. Which is a shame, because as The Office seems to be running in place at the moment (probably to do with the over-fixation in bringing aboard guest-writers like Gervais, Josh Whedon, and J.J. Abrams), 30 Rock has become the new top-destination for smart, broadcast network comedy.

Related: Deadline Hollywood suggests Studio 60‘s Steven Weber as a replacement for Alec. Why? Other than playing a similar role to Baldwin as a net exec (although a flaccid, uninspired one at that) the best thing Weber has going for him is not being among the worst problems with Aaron Sorkin’s doomed show.

Posted by Ted Zee on April 26th 2007 | 8 Comments

Laundry Listing: 5/25

horseyIn development. In the news. In the haystacks.

— “Not that he labels man-horse sex deviant or comic or icky or anything much at all…[Zoo] is nothing if not artful” – Mahnola Dargis reviews a film about to resurface from low-level Sundance controversy, now ready for prime time talk-radio fodder.

Rainn Wilson to star in Girlfriend Experience, using the Pretty Woman technique to increase his sexy.

— “They have really realistic ones. You can design them and they feel real” – Ryan Gosling on his future on-screen love interest in Lars and the Real Girl.

Twitch interviews Peter Krause (Six Feet Under) on his upcoming film, Civic Duty. Related: his upcoming ABC series Dirty Sexy Money (previously), set to debut in the fall pilot season, is among those generating the most early buzz.

Clooney to produce, possibly star and direct a dark comedy adaptation of 2005 doc, Our Brand is Crisis. Original featured James Carville. Tangental DVD recommendation: Soderbergh’s K Street.

— In the spirit of The Original Kings of Comedy, Tourgasm and other all you can eat buffets – Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show.

Julia Stiles to produce and star in adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s Bell Jar.

— Welcome (almost) back, Roger Ebert. Here’s your sensationalist headline.

— Fake headline: No matter that maybe 3 or 4 out of a hundred moviegoers had even heard of Oldboy prior to its much-publicized shaky Virginia Tech ties – Wal-mart and Blockbuster each order one copy of the film for every store, just to announce that they’ve pulled it off their shelves. Real headline: NBC Universal owns the Oldboy remake rights, though will they sit on them now?

Pacino’s latest – straight to DVD?

Kirsten Dunst joins Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz) for How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.

Coen Brothers with three pictures in the pipeline: No Country for Old Men, set to debut in May at Cannes, plus Burn After Reading, starring Pitt, Clooney and Frances McDormand, then followed by dark comedy A Serious Man.

— Latest video offerings from VBS.TV – First Crispin Glover. Next, Michel Gondry and Charlotte Gainsbourg talk music & filmmaking (part 123 of 5), and big surprise – Sarah Silverman handles the distasteful. Also, Gainsbourg performs.

— Last video: Jason Schwartzman – no. Mark Gonzales – yes. (via Maurice)

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

Trailers: 'I Don't Want to Sleep Alone', 'Syndromes and a Century'

sleep alonePaced like a slow drip – appropriate for the Taiwanese director’s obsession with water themes – in his first venture to his native Malaysia, this short teaser of Tsai Ming-liang’s I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone serves as a literal representation of what it’s like to view his near-silent narratives on resolute isolation. (Also, a long trailer, if you prefer.) My bias towards the craftsman’s earlier works indicate that as a positive.

syndromesYou may read otherwise. In which case Thai filmmaker
Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Syndromes and a Century may not float your mattress either, though it’s curious how a quiet drone shattered by buzzsaw guitar (halfway through this trailer) can reshape one’s expectations. Two hospital stories, based on memories attached to his parents’ relationship – last year, contributing critics to Film Comment named Syndromes the Best Film of 2006 not distributed in the U.S. (Sleep Alone placed fourth). Currently playing in New York to almost universal acclaim (GreenCine), here’s to the hope that Syndromes, along with I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone, will debut for American art-houses sooner rather than later.

Posted by Ted Zee on April 22nd 2007 | 7 Comments

Meta-Sopranos: the Making of 'Cleaver'

Not coming soon: DVD extras for a fake mob-slasher movie within a mob television drama – upstart writer/producer Christopher Moltisanti takes you behind the scenes of Cleaver, starring Daniel Baldwin.

Posted by Ted Zee on April 16th 2007 | 4 Comments

Casual Browsing: What's in a Name?

— Showtime update: network gives early second season greenlights to The Tudors and This American Life. Also Tracey Ullman returns to the pay-channel with State of the Union, doing what Tracey Ullman does – and look for David Duchovny this summer in the comedy series Californication. It’s not too late to change the title of that bad boy.

Alec Baldwin is everywhere you want him to be, including this mob drama, with co-stars Freddie Prinze Jr, Scott Caan, Mira Sorvino and Jerry Ferrara (Entourage‘s Turtle) in Brooklyn Rules – trailer.

— Neo-Marie Antoinette, future BlondieDunst advocates the weed.

— David Poland of Movie City Cews compiles a Top Ten list of Hollywood’s top-drawing actors, preceded by numbers 52-24 and a 20-ish through 10.trainspot

— Danny Boyle and Ewan McGregor get serious about a follow-up to Trainspotting (Film Junk).

— Filmmaker Magazine interviews Freaks and Geeks/Undeclared director Jake Kasdan between takes during shooting for The TV Set, the Duchovny starring feature based on Kasdan’s experiences in network television.

— Also bearing the DNA of Freaks and Geeks, the trailer for Superbad, the Judd Apatow produced coming of age comedy featuring Jonah Hill and Arrested Development‘s Michael Cera.

— Having just joined the cast, Christina Ricci can’t contain her enthusiasm in this video for The Wachowski Brothers Speed Racer (via Cinema Blend).

Will Farrell withholding rent from Pearl the landlady (via Goldenfiddle). Rumor had it that the young Pearl in question was a collaboration the offspring of P.T. Anderson and Maya Rudolph, but sources at Cigarettes and Red Vines say no.

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant and friends turn charity into commerce (via Popwatch).

In the spirit of Martin Scorsese’s Sesame Streets, and takes on NWA’s Fuck the Police – more Jim Henson revisionism in this Fisher Price adaptation of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing.

Posted by Ted Zee on April 15th 2007 | 0 Comments

Video Selections: Baumbach, Gondry, & Friends in "Degrees of Aaron Sorkin"

asorkinDon’t ask why. Enjoy some videos.

— The Squid and the Whale‘s Noah Baumbach (Kicking and Screaming/Carlos Jacott/Studio 60/Aaron Sorkin) directs the short film Conrad and Butler Take a Vacation (2000, via Metafilter) – a lumbering exercise co-written by Jacott, who stars in the short and coincidentally, played a writer on Studio 60 that was derided for creating some bad material. Strictly for the Baumbach curious.

Michel Gondry (Human Nature/Patricia Arquette/one episode of Thirtysomething/Timothy Busfield/West Wing & Studio 60/Aaron Sorkin), a guy who unlike his shadow-lurking, half-as-prolific contemporaries (the Andersons, the Jonzes, the Young Coppolas), never met a television appearance or YouTube spot he didn’t like. Here he continues his non-stop, global Science of Sleep plugging tour with a new ad/experiment (via Vidiocy), followed by a video interview conducted on a hotel bed, covering both his music video background and the aforementioned feature film.

Bjork (Joga/Gondry/Arquette/Busfield/Sorkin) in a free, making-of-Volta video podcast, via Nicholas Scholl at Slog, who also notes that she’ll be musical-guesting Saturday Night Live on April 21st, along with host Scarlett Johansson.

— Six Feet Under‘s Peter Krause (Sports Night/Sorkin) and Richard Shiff (West Wing/Sorkin) in Civic Duty (trailer). Krause plays a snooping, amateur Jack Bauer.

Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under/Peter Krause/Sorkin), with Paul Rudd, Maura Tierney, Sarah Paulson (Studio 60/Sorkin) in the retro Long Island dramedy Diggers (trailer).

Regina Spektor (Little Boxes – Weeds season 2 soundtrack/Mary-Louise Parker/West Wing/Aaron Sorkin) interview and live performance, on VBS.TV. Also – Little Boxes, via Recidivism.

Posted by Ted Zee on April 12th 2007 | 3 Comments

Whiteboards and book promotions

miranda-july-book-yellowAlways with the lo-fi artsy-crafty appeal,
even in e-commerce – Miranda July utilizes dry-erase technology and neurotic storytelling to promote her new book.

Slow news day. And yes, we play favorites around here.

Posted by Ted Zee on April 04th 2007 | 0 Comments

Contemporary Films, in 5 Seconds

The Guy with the Glasses strips your favorite films to the core, boiling them down to 5 seconds. For instance, The Departed (NSFW) with no heads surprises left unspoiled. And yes, many of these, like Lost in Translation, The Karate Kid, and the entire Rocky series surpass the 5 second mark, but let’s not let details get in the way of a good YouTube. With 50 plus entries, the longest tackles how he quit his job.

Posted by Ted Zee on April 04th 2007 | 1 Comment

Early script for Wes Anderson's 'Darjeeling Limited'

darjeeling limited script

Update: The script is no longer available.

Penned by Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, and Jason Schwartzman – get your early draft (5/17/06), pre-Natalie Portman, pre-Bill Murrayed tiger Darjeeling Limited script here. Thanks to VendattaV at Oh No for the tip. For reference: Francis – Owen Wilson, Jack – Jason Schwartzman, Peter – Adrien Brody.

As mentioned earlier, I have serious reservations regarding how far Wes Anderson can take this twee-filmmaking before the rut is too worn to dig himself out, but to be honest, I just picked this up and haven’t read the damn thing yet. Let’s exchange notes later.

And from the written page to the nearly-finished product, AICN has a report from a self-admitted Wes Anderson fan who sat in on an early Darjeeling screening. “The main problem with the movie is that it really goes nowhere.” Their words, not mine.

Update: NataliePortman.com, who hosted the script online (and regretfully, I should have thanked earlier), has been asked by Fox to remove it from the site. As I write this, it’s still up, but wouldn’t expect that to be the case much longer.


Posted by Ted Zee on April 02nd 2007 | 8 Comments

Video Selections: Can't Stop 'Huckabees' Edition

huckabees-reenactmentMostly not safe for work entries:

Clooney denies any involvement, and exposed director David O. Russell has found a new project (Sammy’s Hill) despite of it all, but people are still talking about the I Heart Huckabees (original) blowouts. Enter Michael Showalter and Paul Rudd, for a dramatized reenactment. [GreenCine]

— If you look around, you could probably watch about half of Grindhouse online before it premieres this Friday. A sample, not for the squeamish: Eli Roth’s (Hostel) Faux Trailer. [Twitch]

— Not related: a Shaun of the Dead reminiscent trailer for killer farm-pals Black Sheep. [Thompson on Hollywood]

Uma Thurman has been kicking around the idea of retirement lately. Was Mission Zero, a 9-minute advertisement for Perelli Tires, the cash-money exception to the rule, or the last straw? Mo’ Money? John Malkovich and Naomi Campbell answer The Call. [ScreenGrab]

— “Suicide is depressing, to like 82% of everybody” – David Duchovny as a television writer forced to make certain concessions on The TV Set. Sorkin-free Trailer.

Posted by Ted Zee on April 02nd 2007 | 1 Comment