'Bottle Rocket' Will Go Criterion

So this weekend Wes Anderson’s new film, The Darjeeling Limited, opens at the New York Film Festival, and his 13 minute short film, Hotel Chevalier, is now available for free on iTunes. Lots of chatter about the reception for the new feature and over Natalie Portman baring flesh in Chevalier, but for me this is the most welcome piece of news: Bottle Rocket (1996) is finally getting its due place amongst his following films in The Criterion Collection.

As Anderson told MTV News, “We’ve just begun work with the Criterion Collection to do ‘Bottle Rocket’ on a new DVD that’s going to have all kinds of stuff. There’s a lot of ‘Bottle Rocket’ that was on the cutting room floor, so we have a lot to work with on that one.”

Bottle Rocket will always go down for me as Wes Anderson’s most important film to date. Unfettered by the aesthetics which would become his calling card, and paired with co-writer and then first-time screen actor Owen Wilson, their first film would arguably go on to shape the American indie landscape in this decade as much as Pulp Fiction did in the 1990’s. Simple is good. Bottle Rocket is sublime.

Video: Bottle Rocket (1994) - The original 13-minute short film.

Posted by Ted Zee on September 28th 2007 | 5 Comments

'There's Only One Sun' - Wong Kar-wai

Wong Kar-wai and Philips televisions go together like WKW and Christian Dior, or Motorola even. Tip from Wes Kim.

Posted by Ted Zee on September 26th 2007 | 0 Comments

Video Selections: 9/26

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The Coen Brothers are not fucking around with this No Country for Old Men red band trailer, so be over 17 or just settle for down and dirty lo-res. Not for the squeamish. (Awards Daily)

– “Taken strictly as a promotional stunt, [Natalie] Portman’s part in the five-minute love scene, which, for the record, is handled with admirable restraint, has worked gangbusters, lighting up the blogosphere and capturing headlines as far away as Azerbaijan.” (L.A. Times) After the commercial break, Wes Anderson’s Darjeeling prequel-of-sorts, the 13 minute Hotel Chevalier, with Jason Schwartzman and the aforementioned Portman, premieres today on iTunes.

Supplemental reading: Not a review (The Onion) of The Darjeeling Limited, but this is (IFC Blog). Take them as foreshadowing of the critical pile-on likely to come in the next couple days, as it opens up the New York Film Festival this weekend.

– Trailer: Leelee Sobieski seemingly disappeared from the cinematic landscape post-Eyes Wide Shut in 1999, but this dominatrixy casting in Walk All Over Me says “I’m back(?)” (Film Junk)

Michel Gondry and Motorola, sitting in a tree. (Spout)

Four clips from the hyped beyond belief teen-pregnancy comedy, Juno, with Ellen Page and Michael Cera. (Slashfilm)

Wristcutters: A Love Story. Patrick Fugit, Shannon Sassoon, and Tom Waits in a comedy about a post-suicide afterlife. Trailer. Pic seems to have been floating around in a purgatory of its own, largely unseen (since Sundance 06′) for quite some time now.

– “Forget Alonso Cuarón’s long take in Children of Men.” PVC-1: suspense told in one 85-minute take. (Mad About Movies)

Fall Television prep:

Best Week Ever, with 6 clips from The Office season premiere this Thursday.

Dirty Sexy Money premieres tonight (ABC), and “lives up to it’s name,” (NYT) but the “pilot doesn’t quite gel.” (Variety) Cast includes Donald Sutherland and a Baldwin, but its ex-Six Feet Under star Peter Krause that clinches it. Promo.

– Also tonight, the most talked-about pilot of the fall season: Pushing Daisies. Feel the vibe, or not, in this promo.

– Not that Emmy-grasper Tina Fey needed Jerry Seinfeld’s help for the October 4th premiere. Season 2 promo. (Goldenfiddle)

– TV critic Aaron Barhart interviews Richard Roeper, of Ebert & Roeper, about a couple of current matters, closing with the latest on the ongoing absence of the ubiquitous “Thumbs Up”. The Nation’s Top Pundit (also absent) and Disney are still at odds.

– Not sponsored by Apple, Tip 2: View the trailer for the Extras Christmas Special, aka the last episode of Extras ever, by subscribing to the Ricky Gervais podcast on iTunes. (I Watch Stuff)

Posted by Ted Zee on September 26th 2007 | 1 Comment

Dexter and Brotherhood Premieres Online

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Showtime has made the season 2 premieres of both Dexter and Brotherhood available for free online. Go here to watch either. The password to view the episodes is “Killer Shows”.

Dexter stars Six Feet Under alum Michael C. Hall as a Miami crime scene investigator that moonlights as a serial killer. Knowing full well that he’ll never be lead a normal life, he struggles with his murderous instincts and channels them into stalking other killers on the loose. The subject matter could easily be the basis of a horrid series, but there was enough moral struggle, dark humor (what other kind?), and cliffhanging going on last season to make Dexter a staple top 10 pick of a number of television critics (and bloggers).

The under-acknowledged crime drama, Brotherhood, just might satiate those with a thirst for grime and crime in the post-Sopranos era, though it’s not for the attention span challenged. Like The Wire has executed to perfection, Brotherhood was also put together with a slow-boil formula. With one sibling living the con life, and the other brother in the public eye - making moves to climb the ladder of local politics - the Caffee’s of Rhode Island mash against one another as they work their respective hustles. Season two will introduce Janel Moloney (Donna Moss of The West Wing, a big contributor to Sorkin’s glory days) to the cast.

The season openers for both Dexter and Brotherhood air on Sunday, September 30th. Showtime sent over the first few episodes for the two series, and I’ll have some impressions up before they kick off.

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

Finis

Drop that New York Times crossword and try to identify the 100 plus vintage closing frames from film and television captured in this Flickr photoset, entitled 24 fps (via yewknee). Or maybe you have a job, a girlfriend, or a spouse to tend to. Do what you gotta do. It’s fine.

Supplemental fonts & film: Helvetica - the documentary.

Posted by Ted Zee on September 19th 2007 | 1 Comment

Full Frontal Week

bb1.jpgBeginning with a Sunday evening debut of HBO gone Cinemax, probably-prosthetic exhibition of man-parts in Tell Me You Love Me, and culminating in this weekend’s bath-house knife-scrum for the ages in Eastern Promises, the male phallus was a major topic of conversation in the past week, and that’s the first and last time I have and will ever use that word. More on the subject from The New York Observer. Quick review:

– Despite all the hand-over-mouth explicitness that the early reviews of Tell Me prepared us for, the series opened to less than a million viewers (Variety). For the record, the doomed John From Cincinnati premiere was watched by 3.4 million, though it had a hell of a lead-in. I didn’t catch episode 2 of TMYLM last night. Please tell me they went through the trouble of writing a joke into the script. The show needs a sense of humor, a hint of it at least, in the worst way.

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Penis cake.

The Brown Bunny debate hasn’t subsided, even now some four years after the fateful oral sex scene between Vincent Gallo and Cloe Sevigny. Nerve notes the most recent debate between Gallo and NY Post writer, Frank Scheck over the authenticity of the much-discussed member on display in the film. Said Vincent, “Tell that hack to convince his mother, sister or wife to let me give it to her. . . and then she can report back to little Frank if she thought [it was fake].”

– Finally, there was Eastern Promises, which took the top prize last week in Toronto. Director David Cronenberg asked star Viggo Mortensen for realism and “body-ness” in a brutal, four minute knife-fight during the climax of the film, to which Mortensen said “Well, it’s obvious, I have to play this naked.” (L.A. Times.) Though the brawl will be talked about in film circles for years to come, the nudity was hardly the only aspect worth nothing - the thing is visceral, bloody, and you’ll find yourself re-adjusting your posture after all the wincing and eye-shielding - those are the longest four-minutes you’ll sit though in the movies all year.

Posted by Ted Zee on September 17th 2007 | 9 Comments

Trailer: Juno

Fox Searchlight has found its niche as a faux-indie, and is on a roll in finding sleeper-ish crossover hits (see Little Miss Sunshine, and more recently, Once, which will see another surge in word-of-mouth awareness once it hits the DVD shelves). The latest looks to be the Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking) directed Juno, with Ellen Page and Michael Cera. So many things going for it - the envy-worthy casting of Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, Rainn Wilson, and Allison Janney - and pundits are already penciling in Oscar noms: from the Toronto Film Festival, Roger Ebert notes a standing ovation unprecedented in-length and fervor, and touts Ellen Page as a legit Best Actress prospect (Gold Derby). Either it’s Superbad for girls (Spout), or Knocked Up for girls (NY Post). Last I checked, those two were making hand-over-fist cash money.

Posted by Ted Zee on September 17th 2007 | 0 Comments

'Funny Games' & Video Selections: 9/14

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MSN has posted the trailer for the remake of Michael Haneke’s (The Piano Teacher, Caché) brutal home invasion thriller, Funny Games, starring Naomi Watts and Tim Roth (via Coming Soon). Haneke, a personal favorite who makes no attempts to adhere to Hollywood norms of filmmaking, has taken on his own remake, reportedly a shot-for-shot mirror of the original (Austria - 1997) which includes sadistic, but implied violence, and one twisted character breaking the fourth wall with the viewers. Producer of the remake, Hamish McAlpine of Tartan Film, promised that the do-over won’t make nice (The Guardian) for American audiences, and the director wouldn’t have it any other way. “What makes Funny Games so special is the way that it plays with all the cliches of the thriller, and then turns them on their head. The minute you sacrifice that irony, you’re sacrificing Michael Haneke’s soul, and the film.” Compare Funny Games 07′ with the original trailer.

Previously, Funny Games and Battle Royale, all over again? Why bother?

– More Tim Roth: IGN has posted a teaser trailer for Francis Ford Coppola’s first film since 1997, Youth Without Youth (Filmmaker).

Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd, with Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Sacha Baron Cohen - the cobbled together footage for the adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical appears to be legit. The authenticity of the trailers: questionable. From Mad About Movies.

Alfonso Cuarón follows up Children of Men with a short film to accompany author Naomi Klein’s war-mongering, money-trailing expose: The Shock Doctrine (via Scarecrow Video).

– For levity’s sake, something like a mishmash of Enter the Dragon, Boogie Nights, and the Christopher Guest jam of your choice - Justin Lin’s Finishing the Game trailer (Coming Soon).

Posted by Ted Zee on September 14th 2007 | 8 Comments

Tracy Morgan, Incorrigible

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“Hey Barack Obama! Holler at me holmes! I gave you like fifteen dollars!”

Something about early morning coffee-talk shows really stirs the spirit of Tracy Morgan. Remember this slice of live TV heaven, back in March? Not to outdo himself, but he did. Reactions from the starched-shirts are priceless, and there are too many Tracy-isms to count. Somewhere, Bill Cosby has his arms folded, frowning.

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Posted by Ted Zee on September 07th 2007 | 3 Comments

DVD: 30 Rock - Season One

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If you leave SNL for a show based on SNL, where do you go from there? Tina Fey may ask herself the same question if her ship-jumping creation doesn’t pan out. Featuring Alec Baldwin, (coincidentally one of the most featured guest hosts in SNL history), as well as Tracy Morgan, whose tip of the hat to a Martin Lawrence highway freak out is well alone worth a peek on a Wednesday night.

What clueless schmuck wrote this stuff? I did, a year ago.

Much has changed since then - that other series about a sketch comedy show, the one whose every ham-fisted diatribe and Nicholas Cage impression was dealt out with such self-importance, as if the Studio 60 gang were the crew of Apollo 11 (turned out to resemble the crew of the Enola Gay much more) - that one, it’s dead and buried.

What remains is not just the better fake-SNL, but the best new show of the year, giving The Office a network-sibling rival for best broadcast comedy.

While her stint as a head-writer on SNL was seen by many as just a segment of a long span of mostly forgettable years, something about the not-quite-new environs of the 30 Rock set was fortuitous for Tina Fey. She had the backing of Lorne Michaels, with his decades of Rolodexed stars to call on for guest spots (Paul Reubens, Will Arnett, Rip Torn, Emily Mortimer, Issabella freaking Rossellini, Edie Falco for season 2), and a hall of famer SNL guest turned daily contributer, in Alec Baldwin. There’s also the on-demand bug-outs we’ve come to expect from Tracy Morgan (at the onset of the series, Fey told him “I want you to fly over the cuckoo’s nest every episode.”)

Take those factors, add the out-of-nowhere revelation that is slack-jawed NBC page Kenneth (played by Jack McBrayer), and the evolved on-screen self-confidence that Fey herself has discovered over the course of the season, and you’re champagne sipping at the Emmy’s, sitting on 10 nominations.

The 30 Rock season 1 DVD, out now, features some choice, Kenneth-heavy special features:

– Selected episode commentaries from Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Lorne Michaels, and Jack McBrayer.
– “An Evening with Kenneth” - Mini talk-show segments with cast interviews, hosted by Kenneth.
– Deleteds, Gag Reel, all the regular trimmings.

Season two debuts on October 4th.

Posted by Ted Zee on September 07th 2007 | 1 Comment

Larry, Meet David

The recently separated Larry David on Letterman Wednesday evening, in their first on-air meeting. Season six of Curb Your Enthusiasm premieres this Sunday (preview). “After what was widely (and rightly) dismissed as a disappointing season, “Curb”…roars back with a terrific trio of half-hours…remains the unrivaled standard-bearer in behind-the-ivied-gates glimpses of Hollywood self-obsession.” - Variety

– Related: Trailer for I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With - directed, written, and starring Curb wingman Jeff Garlin with Sarah Silverman - opening this weekend. Generally Favorable.

– From the video archives: Larry David meets Ricky Gervais (YouTube took down the first video but the other 4 segments remain).

Posted by Ted Zee on September 06th 2007 | 0 Comments

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