Poehler is Tina Fey's 'Baby Mama'

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SlashFilm has the first image available for the Tina Fey and Amy Poehler reunion vehicle, Baby Mama, due out from Universal in the Spring. In what seems like not much of a stretch from her 30 Rock persona, Fey plays Kate, a 37 year-old single executive who’s looking to have her first child. After learning that she’s unable to have one naturally, she pegs lower-class South Philly girl Angie (Poehler) as her surrogate. Baby comedy turns buddy comedy when Angie loses her place and Kate finds her at her doorstep.

Seems promising (if not predictable) enough, though potential would be higher with the former SNL writer pals as scribes, which they were not. Forecast is for broad comedy as screenplay and (first-time) direction is by Michael McCullers, who penned two Austin Powers sequels, as well as Undercover Brother. Greg Kinnear, Dax Shepard, and Sigourney Weaver also star. Release is scheduled for April 18th, 2008.

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Posted by Ted Zee on December 29th 2007 | 2 Comments

iTunes Movie Rentals Coming, Fox First in Line

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Another potentially big-time shift in film distribution as we know it:  Paid Content (by way of Engadget) passes on a report that Twentieth Century Fox has just inked a deal with Apple to allow rentals of their films though iTunes, possibly for as low as $2.99 a pop and for as long as 30 days, as was speculated back in June. It’s assumed that rentals could be transferred to at least one iPod or iPhone type device during the rental period, and that this would likely include an upgrade for Apple TV use. Currently, movies are only available for download-to-purchase: new releases at $14.99, and back catalog titles go for $9.99. At the moment, Disney is the only major studio that pushes new releases (like the Pirates franchise) directly to iTunes and is the only one to have their full catalog featured there.

Also of interest to the Fox deal, and what may be included in future studio agreements to come, is that Apple’s FairPlay DRM will be utilized in upcoming DVD releases to stores, allowing buyers to transfer video to a PC or iPod without the usual worries of legal infringement or use of third-party ripping software.

Sony, Paramount and Warner Brothers are also reportedly in talks with Apple for similar distribution deals, and we could see an announcement, possibly even a partial launch of iTunes movie rentals as soon as January 15th, when Steve Jobs is scheduled to deliver the opening keynote speech at Macworld in San Francisco.

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Posted by Ted Zee on December 27th 2007 | 2 Comments

P.T. Anderson, Daniel Day-Lewis, & Charlie Rose

A lot of topics touched on here, but the bulk of Charlie Rose’s 54 minute conversation sidesteps Paul Thomas Anderson in favor of his There Will Be Blood star. Rose, who has interviewed Daniel Day-Lewis a couple of times, was fixated on trying to crack the shell of the tight-lipped enigma, to varying degrees of success. The discussion is probably more valuable as a post-TWBB viewing, not because of the fact that it borders on spoilerish, but as an exercise in trying to put a finger on DLD’s portrayal of silver-prospector turned cold-blooded oil tyrant, Daniel Plainview.

The film is slated for a New York and Los Angeles only release on Wednesday, with a broader release in the following weeks. AICN has posted a tip with an accompanying teaser video - a heads up that there will be a midnight sneak screening in fourteen cities (Sacramento, San Diego, Denver, Washington D.C., Miami, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, Toronto, Philadelphia, Portland, Austin, Dallas, and Seattle) on Saturday, December 29th. Details and ticket purchases (while available) here. See you at the Seattle screening.

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Posted by Ted Zee on December 25th 2007 | 3 Comments

'There Will Be Blood' Takes Top Spot in indieWIRE Critics Poll

Opening in selected theaters on December 26th, P.T. Anderson’s There Will Be Blood took 5 top honors in indieWIRE’s annual critics poll, including Best Film. Anderson also won Best Director and Best Screenplay, while Daniel Day-Lewis was handed Best Performance for the film, and Robert Elswit came in number one in the Cinematography category.

Selections from Thailand and Romania joined stateside releases to round out the top five in Best Picture. In second was David Fincher’s Zodiac, followed by The Coen Brothers No Country for Old Men, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Syndromes and a Century, and Christian Mungui’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days. (The latter two saw very limited releases stateside so check your Netflixes and local shops.) Sarah Polley’s Away From Her was singled out for Best First Film, and Charles Ferguson’s Iraq war doc No End in Sight won Best Documentary.

Two reasons why the indieWIRE poll is worth your time: the sheer enormity of it (individual picks and notations from 106 North American film critics who write for alternative outlets and online publications), and because it’s decidedly atypical of the year-end lists you’re going to find in your local McPaper. Top quality indie and foreign releases - with disproportionate marketing dollars and/or press coverage in comparison to usual cineplex fare - get their equal and deserved time. Full results from the poll, including the best (as yet) undistributed films of the year, available here.

Additional year-end roundups, and more There Will Be Blood salivating this weekend.

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Posted by Ted Zee on December 21st 2007 | 0 Comments

Trailer: 'Chicago 10'

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Directed by Brett Morgen (The Kid Stays in the Picture) and told through the voices of Hank Azaria, Dylan Baker, Nick Nolte, Mark Ruffalo, Roy Scheider, and Liev Schreiber, Chicago 10 blends archival footage and rotoscope animation to retell the story of the eight anti-war protesters (including activist Abbie Hoffman and Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale) put on trial for charges alleging they’d conspired to incite a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.  Scheduled release: February 29th, 2008.

Chicago 10 trailer

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Posted by Ted Zee on December 20th 2007 | 0 Comments

Trailer: 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall'

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One thing we’ve all surely absorbed by now: get Judd Apatow to write, direct, produce or cough in the general direction of your movie and you’re golden, box office wise. In the case of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, he produced and shares a writing credit with star Jason Segel, who you’ll remember from every preceding Apatow joint of late, along with the gone but not forgotten Freaks and Geeks.

Directed by first timer Nicholas Stoller, the picture stars Segel as Peter, the failed musician who’d been doting on girlfriend and television star Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) for going on six years - only to be unceremoniously dumped. Peter makes a break for Hawaii to lay low and grieve but there’s no escaping when he runs into his ex and her new British rocker boyfriend. Tagged as “the world’s first romantic disaster comedy,” (whatever that means) though it looks and sounds suspiciously like the world’s next Farrelly Brothers romp.

Also featured: Mila Kunis, Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, and Jack McBrayer. Scheduled release: May 30, 2008.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall trailer

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Posted by Ted Zee on December 20th 2007 | 1 Comment

2007: Bottom Sixteen

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Of course they compiled a Best of 2007 rundown as well, but there’s not enough schadenfreude to be found there, so we move on. Robert Redford is in the company of Guy Ritchie, Joel Schumacher, and Joe Carnahan in The A.V. Club’s Worst Films of 2007 list. Did you know that Fred Savage directed Daddy Day Camp? And the Wayans Brothers didn’t shit out a film this year - also a surprise.

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Posted by Ted Zee on December 19th 2007 | 0 Comments

The Landlord: Criterion Edition

Will Ferrell & Adam McKay. “That line was actually written by, what’s his name…Steve Gaghan, the guy who did Traffic….We had to shut down once again, for four days as he went in the trailer and wrote and wrote and wrote, and came up with ‘I want my money!!!’”

Related: Backlash. Judd Apatow, Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Justin Long, and Craig Robinson do viral gone meta gone a minute or two too long. Not Safe For Work.

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Posted by Ted Zee on December 19th 2007 | 3 Comments

A Retrospective

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“And then he made a string of terrible films, films so bad that even his charming side-part could not make up for his lack of wit and charm. (See, also — I mean never — Slackers.) And his shtick sort of ran dry in a way, even in the pleasantly enjoyable The Darjeeling Limited.” - Best Week Ever

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Posted by Ted Zee on December 14th 2007 | 0 Comments

Bill Murray's Sweet Nothings

I still can’t make out half of what Bill Murray is whispering in Scarlett Johansson’s ear at the conclusion of Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, even after someone with the time and knowhow took it upon him or herself to take out some of the background noise and digitally process the audio. If what’s spelled out for us is accurate, it doesn’t necessarily add value to the end product. Maybe they could take a crack at Marie Antoinette next. That could use some help. (Via Kottke)

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Posted by Ted Zee on December 14th 2007 | 0 Comments

'Campfire': Deleted Scene from 'There Will Be Blood'

“Here is a good scene we didn’t need…it won’t spoil anything,” says the note from P.T. Anderson’s There Will Be Blood production team. (Hat tip: Cigarettes and Red Vines and Movieweb.) No fireworks in this one, though it does provide some foreshadowing for things to come between Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis, sitting with son H.W - played by Dillion Freasier) and young Eli Sunday (Paul Dano, with father Abel - played by David Willis).

Fifteen-year old Eli is a religious prodigy in the small California town of Little Boston, a self-proclaimed prophet leading its Third Revelation Church. Having been tipped off on some oil-rich land in Little Boston, Plainview purchases it from Eli’s family. The ideological and greed-fueled clash between Plainview and Eli sets the table for There Will Be Blood (trailer).

Related: The Coen Brothers No Country for Old Men nabs best picture from New York, Boston, and Washington D.C. critics, while Blood earns five awards from New York Critics Online and top honors from L.A. critics. (IFC Blog)

Previously: Torture porn? Entertainment Weekly wonders whether naming a film There Will Be Blood qualifies as a “shifty bait-and-switch.” Go figure.

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Posted by Ted Zee on December 12th 2007 | 2 Comments

New Still for Spike Jonze's 'Where the Wild Things Are'

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Cinema Blend has posted the second image made public for Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are, depicting Max, played by Hollywood newcomer Max Records, admiring a sunlit view amongst his silhouetted Wild Thing friends. (MTV News unearthed the first available image last June.)

Although Wild Things is not scheduled for release until October 3rd of 2008, and production is far from complete, Spike Jonze reportedly asked to screen a very rough cut (without a finalized score or finished effects) to test audiences nonetheless. AICN recently ran five very early accounts from test screening viewers who recounted how the Wild Things, outfitted in costumes by the Jim Henson Creature Shop, were rendered expressionless without their to-be-GCI’d faces.

Jonze co-wrote the screenplay with author Dave Eggers. While the two were busy expanding the 300-or-so-word picture-book into a full-blown feature length script, Maurice Sendak, who penned the original children’s classic, tapped Eggers to write another original Wild Things story set for release at the same time as the film. It’s rumored to be geared more towards adults, though Eggers said, “I’m hoping it’s for all ages. Although it wouldn’t make sense to anyone under 8.”

As Eggers told The Montreal Gazette, Sendak’s story was not entirely well-received by school librarians and child psychologists back in 1963: “It showed a kid sort of disobeying his mother and acting crazy - which all kids do, but you still don’t see much of in children’s literature. It’s too often washed clean.” The three agreed to again take an unwhitewashed approach. “Spike and Maurice and I just decided we needed to make the book wild and dangerous again, and unexpected,” said Eggers. “The movie is really unlike anything anyone will expect, and the book is different from both [the film and Sendak’s original].”

Catherine Keener plays Max’s mother, while Forest Whitaker, James Gandolfini, Catherine O’Hara and Paul Dano are among the cast used to voice the creatures. Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under) recently replaced Michelle Williams as one of the vocal talents (Hollywood Reporter).

Previously: Where the Wild Things Are Script Reviewed

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Posted by Ted Zee on December 11th 2007 | 0 Comments

Trailer: 'The Machine Girl'

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As the poster (via Twitch) says, “From the Creators of “Death Trance” and “Meatball Machine,” comes The Machine Girl. It seems there is an inexhaustible appetite in movieland for limb-stump-mounted weaponry, and who are we to argue with that? If Planet Terror, Takashi Miike, or Troma films are your thing, this is a sure bet, assuming it ever makes it stateside (besides by way of import DVD). Japan release in 2008.

Fair warning: this is grisly, blood-soaked material folks. The Machine Girl trailer (via Paul Scheer)

Related: Teeth

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Posted by Ted Zee on December 11th 2007 | 6 Comments

Watch the First Ten Minutes of 'Walk Hard'

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Sony Pictures has released the opening 10 minutes of the Jake Kasdan (The TV Set, Freak and Geeks) directed Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story online. John C. Reilly fronts the Kasdan & Judd Apatow scribed musical satire-opic that spans the seven-decade-long career of Dewey Cox, as he “sleeps with 411 women, marries three times, has 22 kids and 14 stepkids, stars in his own 70s TV show.” Guests include Jenna Fischer, Kristen Wiig, Ed Helms, Justin Long, Tim Meadows, Paul Rudd, Jack Black, Jack White, The Schwartzman, Eddie Vedder…Shit, you name em’.  Release: December 21st.

This one might be a grower, not a shower. That’s all I’m saying.

– Clip: the opening ten minutes of Walk Hard (via Deadline Hollywood)

– Spare the spoiler: Walk Hard Red-Band Trailer

– Related: Sell Hard. The Dewey “Cox Across America” Tour, happening now. (Variety)

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Posted by Ted Zee on December 09th 2007 | 0 Comments

Red-Band Trailer: 'Harold and Kumar 2'

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Day two chronicles of John Cho, Kal Penn, and Neil Patrick Harris. Less like a sequel and more like Groundhog’s Day, in as much as everything happens all over again, almost. Trailer is also notable for the best use of a superimposed image (White Castle) since Defamer’s screen capture from the Top Chef finale. Scheduled release: April 25, 2008.

Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay Trailer (Rated R trailer, via The Screengrab)

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Posted by Ted Zee on December 09th 2007 | 1 Comment

Trailer: 'Semi-Pro', Will Ferrell

Anchor-Ball Semi-Pro: directorial debut by Kent Alterman. Screenplay by Scot Armstrong (Road Trip, Old School, Old School Dos). Starring Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, and Andre Benjamin. Appearances/walk on’s by Maura Tierney, Andy Richter, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig, Rob Corddry, Jackie Earle Haley.

Synopsis: we hold these gags to be self-evident.

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Posted by Ted Zee on December 09th 2007 | 0 Comments

Trailer: 'Speed Racer'

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Speed Racer: directed by The Wachowskis. Emile Hirsch as Speed, Susan Sarandan as Mom Racer, Christina Ricci as Trixie, Matthew Fox as Racer X, Scott Porter as Rex Racer, and John Goodman as Pops Racer. Release: May 9, 2008.

Speed Racer high definition trailer (via The Hot Blog).

Additional first look images: USA Today (via SlashFilm).

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

What's That, Pussycat?

“Speechless”: Episode 20. WGA strike, week 5. SpeechlessWithoutWriters.com. UnitedHollywood.com

Related: Fred Armisen. Not silent, but with words like, “250 dollars. That’s serious radio contest winner money.” Stick around for the closer.

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Posted by Ted Zee on December 07th 2007 | 0 Comments

'Sweeney Todd' Numbers

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Via Anne Thompson, Dreamworks has set free 9 mostly musical clips (Movieweb) from the major Oscar contender and umpteenth Tim Burton & Johnny Depp collaboration, Sweeney Todd. Also present and accounted for: co-star Helena Bonham Carter, plus a Sacha Baron Cohen sighting. Opens December 21st.

Related: “Sweeney makes Silence of the Lambs and The Departed look like Legally Blonde and Legally Blonde 2 (respectively). No fewer than ten throats are slit in pretty much the most graphic way possible, with geysers of blood spewing in all directions.” - Is ‘Sweeney Todd’ Too Gory For Best Picture? (Vulture)

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

'The Wire' Prequels

wire prequel 4Just a week after five promotional shorts for the fifth and final season of The Wire popped up online, HBO has released three new shorts to Amazon.com for their Season 4 DVD page. The videos depict a few characters in earlier, formative times - namely William “Bunk” Moreland and Jimmy McNulty (2000, McNulty’s first day on the job), Young Omar (1985), and Young Proposition Joe (1962).

The fifth season kicks off on Sunday, January 6th and according to The Hollywood Reporter, the shorts will air after each new episode. (So we’ll be treated with more than three?) Beginning January 15th, the shorts will also be available via HBO.com and their On Demand service. As reported earlier, new episodes of The Wire will also appear On Demand a week before their proper air dates (as they did last season), including the premiere, but excluding the finale.

The Wire prequels:

Bunk and McNulty (2000, Baltimore, Maryland)

Young Omar (1985, Baltimore, Maryland)

Young Prop Joe (1962, Baltimore, Maryland)

Related: casual Season Five, Episode One spoilers. Thankfully, McNulty (Dominic West) will be seeing much more airtime as the series prepares to take a bow.

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Posted by Ted Zee on December 05th 2007 | 7 Comments

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