Jason Schwartzman is Bored to Death

Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Jason Schwartzman has been cast as the lead in an upcoming HBO original comedy series entitled “Bored to Death.” Here’s the snippet on the description:

The Jonathan Ames-penned “Bored” centers on Jonathan (Schwartzman), a struggling thirtysomething writer with a drinking problem in Brooklyn who, following a painful breakup with his girlfriend, decides to emulate his heroes from the novels of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. He takes out an ad pretending to be a private detective and starts taking cases — solving some and making others worse.

If anyone can pull off the role of a young Brooklyn-ite struggling with inner demons and reacting to them in a less than expected manner it’s Jason Schwartzman. Unfortunately production doesn’t start until September so it will be some time before this one even has the potential to air.

It should also be noted that Mr. Schwartzman has been cast in the upcoming Judd Apatow flick Funny People alongside Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen and Eric Bana. Both projects should prove to be very interesting.

Thanks to JB for the heads up. I am Michael Eades.

Posted by yewknee on June 30th 2008 | 2 Comments

AFI: 10 Top 10

AFI 10 Top 10

The American Film Institute recently announced a new series of Best Of lists. The 10 Top 10 lists the top ten films in ten popular genres; including Animation, Romantic Comedy, Western, Sports, Mystery, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Gangster, Courtroom Drama and Epic. Most of the choices are pretty straightforward and unsurprising but occasionally you will be thrown for a loop (i.e. almost no contemporary films in Mystery, Coen Brothers are mysteriously absent from any list and ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ didn’t make it in the Sci-Fi category! (I kid)).

Obviously no list can be completely thorough so I’m curious if there are any glaring oversights that you happened to catch?

I’m Michael Eades – blogger of yewknee.com and honest fan of terrible movies that try their best.

Posted by yewknee on June 30th 2008 | 3 Comments

Josh Whedon keeps it weird

Dr. Horrible

Joss Whedon, best known for Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Serenity apparently has a new internet project slated for release in mid-July. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog stars Neil Patrick Harris and a cast of Whedon familiars – particularly Nathan Fillion. According to the unofficial fansite, the 3-part series will be released to the Internets on July 15 and stop on July 19th. “Airing” will only take place through the 20th and then the episodes will have to be purchased for a nominal fee.

It’s great to see directors being able to take on smaller projects and make them into Internet events rather than having to go through all the standard distribution channels for everything they’re interested in working on. Be sure to check the trailer for this one, it looks like a campy good time (aka The Whedon formula).

I’m Michael Eades and run a little blog called yewknee.com. I also tumble but no one really knows about that.

Posted by yewknee on June 30th 2008 | 0 Comments

Mike Birbiglia on The Michael Showalter Showalter

A must-watch, in my opinion: The Michael Showalter Showalter. I guess it’s not surprising that everyone from The State seems to be highly skilled at innovative internet content, right? (See Wainy Days if you need more proof) The latest installment features NY standup comedian Mike Birbiglia whose self-deprecating but lovable act you can catch in a Comedy Central special this summer. He also co-wrote a TV pilot entitled “My Secret Public Journal” that CBS recently greenlit – and it’s the best pilot script I’ve read this year.

I’m Joanna Calo, and I live in Los Angeles. When I’m not answering phones (living the dream!) I post at Mr. Weatherbee’s Day to Day.

Posted by Joanna Calo on June 29th 2008 | 0 Comments

Two for Tati

So Ted Zee already left on a jet plane, and a few of the YESORNODC crew are headed to the shore this weekend, all of which got me to thinking about movies of movement: the good, the bad, and the inscrutable. Too many films belong to the first category to even begin to exhaust the list here; every time you think of one (Easy Rider, easily), you remember another (Y tu mamá también!) and another (Midnight Run!) and another (Broken Flowers!). The bad’s a bit easier– avoid anything made in the past decade with the phrase “road trip” actually in the title, for starters. The inscrutable? We’ll leave those up to Vincent Gallo.

You can decide which of the aforementioned categories to add Jacques Tati’s Trafic (1971) to when Criterion releases it–along with plenty of extra goodness, natch– on July 15th. Monsieur Hulot’s live action swan song finds Tati’s alter ego bumbling his way from Paris to an auto show in Amsterdam; hijinks, as always, ensue. Heretofore, Trafic was only legally available across the Atlantic on PAL, but possibly with good reason… It’s more than a little sad to see Play Time‘s protagonist holed up in a drab Parisian automotive factory at the outset of Trafic, all the pomp and circumstance of the previous film’s brilliant traffic circle-cum-carnival denouement reduced to a palette of pallid grays and greens.

Those left someone disenchanted by Trafic, however, need not fret. Sylvain Chomet– he of Les Triplettes de Belleville fame– will resurrect Hulot, albeit in animated form, in next year’s L’Illusionniste, from an unproduced script by Tati. This time around, struggling magician Hulot takes his act on the road from the Hebrides to– of all places– Edinburgh (Chomet’s Django Films is based in Auld Reekie). More info over at Scotland on Sunday.

Indulge Kyle further at YESORNODC.COM.

Posted by Kyle Meikle on June 27th 2008 | 1 Comment

Octagenerian Love

There is certainly a dearth of romantic movies involving the elderly; that is, if you don’t count being forced to watch incredulously as Jack Nicholson romances Helen Hunt. Elsa & Fred, opening today, is a refreshing change in that department. The romance between the off-kilter Elsa (veteran Argentinean actress China Zorrilla) and the staid, recently-widowed Alfredo (Manuel Alexandre) certainly has its share of clichés. And we’ve seen better films where scenes of reckless driving underscore an aging character’s zest for life. But China Zorilla’s performance is so engaging that it’s hard not to be moved when she completes her Bucket List and takes a dip in the Trevi Fountain à la Anita Eckberg. You can watch the trailer here.

Alexa Frangos is an artist and recovering lawyer who collages her daily inspirations from film and culture at Pop Elegantiarum.

Posted by alexa on June 27th 2008 | 0 Comments

Edinburgh with Mum and Dad

Hello all, tis Marie here from Write on Film dropping off my blog post whilst Ted is off having fun in Japan.

This weekend I was off on a whirlwind trip to the Edinburgh Film Festival to run up and down the city’s hills in the rain for my distribution day job. It was a weekend of firts, it being my first time up at the festival, and also the festivals first year in its spanking new June slot.

Having time to squish 1 film into my 36hr mad dash, the more than general consensus was to catch new British horror Mum & Dad– and the accompanying rumours of Perry Benson ‘enjoying’ himself a bit too much with a lump of raw flesh left me disturbed but compelled.

Mum and Dad

Our damsel in distress Lena, is a young Polish girl working as an airport cleaner. After missing her last ride home from work she accompanies colleague Birdie back to her family house but soon finds herself held prisoner by Birdie’s torture happy family, headed up by the depraved Mum & Dad of the title.

Thankfully this is not another gentle British ‘comedy horror’ riding the coat tails of Shaun of the Dead, and is keen to go quite far out with the shock factor. I think the best way to describe the film is to imagine dropping The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a few Mike Leigh Films and a couple of Martin Parr photos into a blender and inspeting the grusome, twee and very Britsh outcome.

Sadly after the first 30 minutes Mum and Dad has already packed its biggest punch. The following shocks, blood and severed limbs begin to randomly fall all over the place and it becomes hard to care for Lena’s plight, or feel any sense of tension. I would have loved the film to have been not so continually heavy handed and instead build on the fleeting sinister moments of ‘normal’ family life.

In all though it was good to see a British horror putting its own spin on the recent flurry of torture porn, and it does have a great concept albeit one that gets lost on its way.

Posted by Marie Foulston on June 26th 2008 | 1 Comment

First SNL With Carlin (1975)

[A special thanks to Ted Zee for inviting me as a guest blogger for BSLS. Hope I can do his site proud.]

I would fight and fight hard to stay up. I had my Saturday night ritual. Start watching Saturday Night Live at 11:30 then wrestling at midnight, switch back and forth between commercials and if my plans worked out, watch a late night horror film like the original, silent Phantom of the Opera on PBS or channel 57. So much for plans. My seven year old body ached for sleep so I rarely made it. I missed the great George Carlin kick off the first SNL back in 1975. I never got to see his irreverent brand of humor set the tone for what would be one of the longest running sketch comedy shows on television. Well, set the DVR because in memory of this great loss to comedy and in my opinion humanity, NBC will be airing a rebroadcast of that first show.

Here’s what you need to know:

Saturday Night Live – Host George Carlin with Janis Ian and Billy Preston, Saturday, June 28th 11:30 EST

William Speruzzi is a filmmaker, father and native New Yorker living in Manhattan. He’s also the custodial engineer for This Savage Art.

Posted by William Speruzzi on June 26th 2008 | 0 Comments

Leaving on a Jet Plane - Meet the Guest Bloggers

Obligatory Japan video: Tokyo railway workers (Oshiyas, or “Passenger Arrangement Staff”) pushing rush hour commuters onto the train.

I’m off for Japan folks. Will be checking in from time to time but for all intents and purposes I’m handing the keys to these fine folks who will be posting here starting tomorrow. Please, spend some time checking out their respective sites – not only are they doing me a huge favor, they’re great bloggers that I read on a daily basis. A diverse lineup for sure:

Marie Foulston and Frances Harvey (London): both working in independent film distribution and covering the UK film scene at Write on Film.

Alexa Frangos (Chicago): an artist who custom illustrates her film, crafts, and pop culture posts at Pop Elegantiarum.

Chuck Tryon (Fayetteville, NC): an assistant professor of film and media studies currently working on a book (tentatively) titled, “Movies after Film: Cinema in the Age of Media Convergence.” He posts on politics and film, with an emphasis on documentaries at The Chutry Experiment.

William Speruzzi (New York): a screenwriter and filmmaker, writing about both endeavors at This Savage Art.

Michael Eades (Tennessee): a web designer covering art, music, and technology at Yewknee.

Joanna Calo (Los Angeles): she works “in the industry” and posts unique film and television finds (with an eye for comedy) at Mr. Weatherbee’s Day to Day.

Rachel Scheer and Kyle Meikle (Washington, D.C.): culture bloggers highlighting the goings on in our nation’s capitol and beyond at YESORNODC.

I’m leaving you in good hands, but will be back in two weeks. Look for upcoming gee-wiz-I’m-in-Tokyo related posts and pictures over at Cash and Carry, if you’re into that sort of thing. Bye bye.

Posted by Ted Zee on June 25th 2008 | 11 Comments

Illegal LA

While it’s clear where they stand from the selection of statistics they present,  VBS produced this otherwise even-handed web doc (an eight part series) about one of the hot button issues of the campaign season: illegal immigration. With conscious editing decisions that steer clear of most “gotcha” sound bites, equal time is given to “Minutemen” founder Jim Gilchrist, former Crip gang leader turned anti-immigration activist Walter Wheeler, and Dov Charney (celebrated by some, demonized by others), CEO of American Apparel.  Maybe the most interesting choice of representatives to speak on the issues are the young Los Angeles skaters – children of undocumented immigrants, trying to make the most of  their status in-limbo.

Illegal LA – VBS.TV

Posted by Ted Zee on June 24th 2008 | 3 Comments

Seven Words


7 Words You Can’t Say on Television: George Carlin (1937-2008)

With Keith Olbermann – October 23rd, 2007.

Posted by Ted Zee on June 22nd 2008 | 0 Comments

Trailer: A Complete History of My Sexual Failures

Humor doc blends the girlfriend backtracking of High Fidelity with the desperation of My Date With Drew. Jobless thirtysomething filmmaker Chris Waitt comes knocking on his exes’ doors to find out why he can’t maintain a relationship. (via Mr. Weatherbee’s Day to Day)

Posted by Ted Zee on June 21st 2008 | 0 Comments

There's No Bad News to Offset the Good News

This is my time off request.  I’m leaving for Tokyo on Wednesday for two weeks, but fortunately was able to round up a great group of guest bloggers that are more than capable of taking over in my absence.  I’ll still post here and there from .jp, but you might not miss me much is all I’m saying – the change of pace is going to be fun for everyone. I’ll have the lineup for you when I leave.

One more thing:  on the off chance that anyone in Tokyo or surrounding areas would like to make contact or share some tips on must-sees, please email me at ted.bsls[at]gmail.com

Posted by Ted Zee on June 21st 2008 | 2 Comments

Hal Ashby as Director's Director


“When I was asked to write about the film Being There, I thought it would be fun. … After watching it again I got very depressed. It was even better than I remembered it to be. Fuck this article. Sometimes seeing a great film takes the wind out of you. Watching this film reminded me how far I have to go.

I prefer to watch shitty movies so I can feel good about myself. There is nothing better than sitting in bed and enjoying a shitty comedy. I laugh at the bad jokes and I smile as I convince myself, as I often need to, that my work doesn’t suck as bad as what I am watching. It gives me the confidence to make movies. I call them movies to have the flu by—movies that are great if you need to kill time while sitting in bed with the flu. … Being There is not one of those movies.”

Judd Apatow participates in a celebration of Hal Ashby’s work in Good Magazine. Also looking back on the 1970s as the decade that belonged to the underappreciated filmmaker are Alexander Payne on The Landlord, Wes Anderson on The Last Detail, and David O. Russell on Shampoo. Jason Schwartzman (on Harold and Maude) is even in the mix, just for…well, I don’t know why. (via GreenCine Daily)

Posted by Ted Zee on June 20th 2008 | 0 Comments

New 'Benjamin Button' and 'Cristina Barcelona' Trailers from Fincher and Woody

A new, high def trailer for David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button has popped up to replace the Spanish language version that surfaced last month. The adaptation of the 1922 short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald stars Brad Pitt as a man born elderly, aging in reverse. Button also stars Cate Blanchett and Tilda Swinton.

Also updated: new trailer for Woody Allen’s Spain jaunt Vicky Cristina Barcelona, starring Penelope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, and Javier Bardem.

Posted by Ted Zee on June 18th 2008 | 0 Comments

'No Country': From Sketch to Screen

no country storyboards

As told to American Artist, storyboard artist J. Todd Anderson (who has worked with the Coen Brothers on every film since 1987’s Raising Arizona) on the conceptualization process. (via Goldenfiddle)

“His role, he stresses, is less creative than interpretive. He reads the script a month or two in advance, then he meets ‘the boys,’ as he calls them, in their New York City office, and they start from page one. Joel has a shot list, and Ethan has already done thumbnail sketches. ‘I take dictation and try to make sure their vision is clear,’ Anderson explains. ‘I go inside their heads, try to understand what they are thinking, and put it on paper. I always try to make the drawings theirs, not mine.’ As they talk, Anderson draws. ‘It’s like they’re making a movie in front of me,’ he says. ‘They tell me the shots. I do fast and loose drawings on a clipboard with a Sharpie pen—one to three drawings to a sheet of regular bond paper. I try to establish the scale, trap the angle, ID the character, get the action.'”

Posted by Ted Zee on June 16th 2008 | 1 Comment

Trailer: Matthew Broderick in 'Diminished Capacity'

When they’re not coming-of-age stories with cool soundtracks, a statistically significant portion of today’s well funded “indies” (usually from major studio subdivisions, but in this case, IFC) deal with late-fortysomethings caring for, or not caring much about their aging family members. See Tamara Jenkins’ The Savages for an above par example. The jury is still out on Diminished Capacity, the first feature length effort for director Terry Kinney. With a screenplay adapted by Sherwood Kiraly from his novel of the same title, the film stars Matthew Broderick as a Chicago political columnist suffering from short-term memory loss who, with Alzheimer’s affected uncle (played by Alan Alda) and high school flame (Virginia Madsen) in tow, heads to a local sports memorabilia show to sell a rare baseball card. Critics at large haven’t had a shot at it yet, but an early evaluation from Variety calls it “a pleasant enough diversion” that will be “bettered watched from the horizontal position of a couch,” while The Hollywood Reporter pans Diminished as “a comedy about memory loss that is utterly forgettable.” Tsk tsk on the faux-Juno trailer graphics. Scheduled release: July 4, 2008.

Posted by Ted Zee on June 16th 2008 | 1 Comment

M. Night Schadenfreude


“There is really no way of understating how much of a failure M Night Shyamalan’s The Happening is. It is the first film of his real career that feels incompetent and utterly gratuitous at times.” – David Poland, The Hot Blog

“The moguls Shyamalan has irritated over the years with his inflexibility (not to mention his Jesus H. Hitchcock routine) may be popping champagne corks tonight, because by Monday he will be much more dependent on their opinions.” – Ryan Stewart, Premiere

“Shyamalan should be glad he makes movies primarily in Pennsylvania instead of Hollywood, because under California’s “three strikes” law, he’d be facing hard time in movie jail thanks to his third consecutive disaster.” – Nathan Rabin, A.V. Club

“Shyamalan’s such an eager recycler, grinding out the same ideas and images again and again. The man who showed such promise less than a decade ago has been leaving a diminishing creative footprint ever since.” – Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon

“He’s just 37, but his best films are so far behind him, it’s as if he’s forgotten how he made them work. … Is there any major director who has made six consecutive films, each one markedly inferior to the one before? … The writer-director’s disintegration from robust artistic health to narrative incoherence, from hitmaker to box-office loser, has an almost tragic trajectory.” – Richard Corliss, Time

“Is ‘The Happening’ So Bad It Defeats Math? … Could the movie be so bad it actually defeats the laws of numerics? It seems so, as its current Metascore is 46 [36 by Sunday] — this despite Metacritic cataloging only four reviews thus far, each scoring exactly 50.” – Vulture

“You feel like you’re not watching the end of the world but the end of a career.” – Ty Burr, Boston Globe

Related: Twist Ending Generator – The Soup

Posted by Ted Zee on June 16th 2008 | 0 Comments

'Office' Spinoff Makes First Hire: Human Giant's Aziz Ansari


Variety reports that the showrunners for NBC’s kept-quiet Office spinoff have made Aziz Ansari of MTV’s Human Giant their first official cast signing. Executive producers Greg Daniels and Michael Schur are still “a couple of weeks away” from whittling a few different concepts for the spinoff down to the final planned premise and setting. The show may not be a spinoff in the sense that any characters from the original series shuffle off to the second gen sitcom. Instead, cast members from the new series may appear at Dundler Mifflin for a short while before planting stakes in their new, half-hour home. Another possibility presented is that that the spinoff has little or no ties to The Office as we know it other than its style and tone. The new series will premiere this fall in the time slot after The Office.

More speculation involves Rashida Jones, who had a juicy role two seasons ago as John Krasinski’s short term love interest Karen. Jones, like Ansari, just signed a new deal with Universal, making her a seemingly good fit for a returning role in the spinoff.

The casting of Aziz is a great, if not unexpected, first hire – reason enough to turn up the expectation levels for this. Though I’m still sticking to my not so out-on-a-limb assertion that the spinoff marks the beginning of the end for The Office, giving Carrell, Krasinski, Fischer, and Wilson cover to persue feature roles full-time, while also allowing NBC to retain some semblence of their critically praised property.

Posted by Ted Zee on June 13th 2008 | 2 Comments

Trailer: Samantha Morton and Jason Patric in 'Expired'

I had Expired circled last year as a lighthearted must-see on my guide for the local film festival. The packaging of the indie appeared to suggest an offbeat romantic comedy where Samantha Morton (who as of late has turned in admirable performances in both Mister Lonely and Control) and Jason Patric would conquer urban dissociation and land in each other’s arms, though it turns out that Expired is a nearly joyless exercise. As Claire, a mousey Santa Monica metermaid, there’s more than a passing resemblance to Morton’s turn as loyal-to-a-fault love interest in Woody Allen’s Sweet and Lowdown (1999). Patric, as traffic officer Jay, is also an overbearing, grade-A asshole, in parallel to Sean Penn’s role as Lowdown‘s Django Reinhardt.

Director Cecilia Miniucchi has described Expired as a “romantic horror” film, though not because performer or viewer is physically harmed or scared shitless – they’re just sapped dry from the inexcusable verbal abuse that Morton chooses to endure. Morton’s character is too forgiving and Patric’s too caustic, past a reasonable suspension of disbelief. You see Jay’s demons, but probably won’t empathize. The film aspires to flip a predictable genre on its head, but in doing so it sacrifices a discernable heartbeat.

The film has set on the shelf for a while – a holdover from Sundance 2007. Some tweaks or revisions may have been made since then, but best to set your expectations appropriately: do not walk in looking for the bookend companion to Southern California romances Punch Drunk Love or Me and You and Everyone We Know. What I saw of Expired was miserable. Not even the good miserable.

Scheduled release: June 20th, 2008. More: 5 clips

Posted by Ted Zee on June 11th 2008 | 4 Comments