preview: Christopher Guest's "For Your Consideration"

for your considerationFeaured in the July edition of Premiere magazine’s “Comedy issue” are details of Christopher Guest’s new movie For Your Consideration. The comedy follows the cast of a miserable little indie flick whose expectations and egos have been tainted by award nominations gossip and internet rumors about the film.

All of the usual suspects are in attendance (Eugene Levy, Jennifer Coolidge, Catherine O’hara, Parker Posey, Fred Willard) as well as some recruits from The Office (UK/US), Ricky Gervais and John Krasinski. Although most of the film is improvised, as per usual with Guest’s films, he has dropped the “mockumentary” aspect. Instead there are scripted “movie within a movie” scenes of the group’s project, Home for Purin. Guest dropped his usual format to add more serious overtones to the film, saying “It’s a sad subject, and this movie is in many ways very dark.”

But don’t count on this being a great departure from Guest and company’s comedic roots. I mean, Fred (Wha Happen?) Willard is involved after all. Willard has become notorious among the normal players for scene stealing and shutting down any normal sense of decorum. He’ll be hosting an Access Hollywood type show, which should allow for plenty of celebrity insults by Fred and his rapid fire improvisations. Guest says of Willard, “We very carefully write situations for Fred so he can do what he does that no one else can do. I’ll say cut and he’ll say, “I’m not finished”

Ricky Gervais, who in this interview reveals, suprisingly, that this is the first role he’s accepted, says “It’s probably because Christopher Guest is the single biggest influence on my comedy.” Gervais will be paying a head of a movie studio’s specialty division. Comparing aspects of the film to his current series Extras, Gervais adds, “I suppose it’s all about actors’ egos; it’s very much the sort of thing that I’ve explored in Extras, how whatever they say, their monstrous ego overwhelms them.”

For Your Consideration is scheduled for release in November.

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Posted by Ted Zee on June 26th 2006 | 1 Comment

james gandolfini hosts real life sit down with sopranos costars

In the life imitates art department, we learned that James Gandoldfini has intervened in the heated negotiations between Sopranos costars Steven (Silvio) Van Zandt and Tony (Paulie Walnuts) Sirico and HBO. The two sides have come to an impasse, with Van Zandt and Sirico both asking for more than double their previous contracts to stick around for 8 more episodes in what will be the second half of The Sopranos final season. Shooting is scheduled to begin in less than two weeks, and the three stars are reportedly meeting this weekend to put their fat heads together. Gandolfini is no stranger to such issues, as he had an even more contemptuous contract dispute with HBO three years ago that almost brought the series crashing down. And how many script pages of the show don’t involve some strong arm “negotiations” of some sort? It’s going to be rough going for both sides.

On the other hand, HBO won’t want to have it’s trademark series bid farewell in a watered down mess, and these guys are not going to drop out of a phenomenon that is going to be the first line of their future obituaries. Not to worry.

Link: James Gandolfini puts muscle on “Sopranos” pals - Reuters

Update - 7/2: HBO caved, Van Zandt and Sirico got paid, along with the rest of the cast, and shooting is set to begin.

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Posted by Ted Zee on June 23rd 2006 | 1 Comment

Tonight's Musical Guest: Cat Power

From last night’s Letterman, it’s your girl Chan Marshall, performing the finger point, the Mick Jagger, the leprechaun, the gun show, plus “Living Proof.”

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Posted by Ted Zee on June 14th 2006 | Comments Off

Notable DVD releases: 16 Blocks, Dave Chappelle's Block Party

Bruce Willis and Mos Def, running around, actin’ a fool when there’s work to be done in 16 Blocks.

16 Blocks - Mos plays an urban Rain Man type who just wants to leave the life of petty crime, move to Seattle, and bake birthday cakes. No, seriously. But he witnesses some corrupt cops doing the kind of things they ought not to. And Bruce Willis is just a washed up cop trying to make it through his last day on the force, see? Put these two together and it spells action. Making their way through the backstreets of New York, dodging the police as they try to get Mos to the courthouse so he can testify to the dirty deeds. Actually a pretty satisfying action thriller if you’re OK with the guns and cakes and things of that nature. DVD contains the usual extras, plus an alternate ending.

Dave Chappelle’s Block Party - A few friends and I kept talking like we were going to go check this out, and that’s all it was. Talk. But now it’s on digital video disc and I think I’m going to have my own block party at BSLS HQ, and watch Dave + Kanye West + Mos Def + Talib Kweli + Common + The Roots + Big Daddy Kane (?!) + The reunited Fugees make jokes and raps and such. Michel Gondy directs this doc, following Dave around as he travels from his hometown in Ohio, to Brooklyn, assembling a crowd of randoms to invite to the block party while on his way. Because sometimes it’s about the journey.

Comprehensive list of new/upcoming releases here

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Posted by Ted Zee on June 14th 2006 | 0 Comments

American remake in the works for Battle Royale

Grand Theft Auto, Natural Born Killers, Bonnie and Clyde…ya’ll don’t know controversy like Battle Royale.

For the uninitiated, Battle Royale is the cult classic featuring Japanese actor, director, wacky game show host Kitano Takeshi, and a cast of 42 middle-school students who are unknowlingly hauled off to a remote island, handed a weapon, and forced to pluck each other off until only one remains. Friends, enemies, unrequited 8th grade crushes, everyone is going down in a blaze of glory. This is all while being televised ala The Running Man or “reality TV gone too far” satire Series 7.

Although never getting a wide release in U.S. theaters or dvd due to distribution issues and jarring content (though it is available online), this film has still managed to gain a rather enthusiastic and voracious following in the states. Now comes the news via Variety that (registration b.s. required)
New Line studios is set to remake the film, yankee style. No director or actors have been named at this time.

Know this. There’s no chance this will be a remake baring much resemblance to the original. In this post Columbine, post 9/11, post sense of humor America we’re hanging tough in, it just won’t fly without some major shift in concept. Look forward to schemes such as aging the teen competitors a good ten years at least, or by adding some zombified element. If I’m wrong, mark it down, because this film will bring the heat, from all sides, like never seen before. Left/right wing, the Parent Teachers Association, the YMCA, they’re all going to want to get a piece of Battle Royale. Am I exaggerating? Reference the trailer video for the original work in question.

Posted by Ted Zee on June 08th 2006 | 3 Comments

Notable DVD releases: Entourage, Dazed and Confused, Reno 911

Just a few to keep an eye out for as you’re clicking through your Netflix queue, or wandering around the local video store. Ari, Johnny Drama, Turtle, and the rest of the boys are back for the second season of Entourage. Which by the way, starts it’s third season this Sunday at 10pm on HBO. Plus, Dazed and Confused gets the Criterion treatment, and Officer Dangle shows his stuff on Reno 911 - season three.

Entourage: The Complete Second Season Three-disc set with 14 episodes, $39.98. Extras: Behind-the-scenes interviews, episode previews, recaps, indexes. (HBO Video).

Dazed and Confused (1993) Dir.: Richard Linklater. Two-disc set features new high-definition digital transfer. Extras: Commentary by director Linklater; “Making Dazed,” a 50-minute documentary by filmmaker Kahane Corn; tons of rare on-set interviews and behind-the-scenes footage featuring cast and crew; audition footage and deleted scenes; booklet featuring new essays by Chuck Klosterman, Kent Jones, and Jim DeRogatis, plus the original, collectible poster. (The Criterion Collection).

Reno 911: The Complete Third Season Two-disc set with 13 episodes, $26.99. Extras: Deleted scenes, extended extras. (Paramount).

Comprehensive DVD release list here

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Posted by Ted Zee on June 06th 2006 | 0 Comments

Trailer for Woody Allen's "Scoop"

Following Match Point, Scarlett Johansson tries on Harry Potter glasses, receives journalism tips from a ghost, hangs with Woody Allen, writes things down in her notepad.

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Posted by Ted Zee on June 05th 2006 | 0 Comments

Michael Apted's 49 Up, Seattle International Film Festival

Director Michael Apted’s 49 up

Starting with the British television documentary Seven Up, fourteen children from different walks of life were brought together, and interviewed about their future goals and notions about their place in society. This spawned the concept of revisiting the group every seven years on their own voluntary basis, to get a sort of “state of my life” interview. The result is a body of work that transcends the standard documentary, or any concept of reality programming that we’ve come to know. The pool parties, the beachside housing, challenges and elimination ceremonies, all of the normal devices used to stir the pot on reality television are unneccessary. Instead there’s race, gender, and class structure, combined with aging, parenting, and the fact that your life is being portioned out in seven year fragments for public consumption and judgement.

In this edition, we catch up with the subjects as many now have grandchildren, some have remarried, and all are looking towards the final stretches of their careers. Tony, the teenage horse jockey turned cab driver, has a particulary funny segment as you see a few of his small acting gigs, and he gives a tour of his new summer house in Spain. Symon, who as a boy said “I had a dream that the world was falling on top of me”, has made his way from very meager and sad begginings to his second marriage, raising many children, and now takes on foster children who come from the same dire circumstances as he once did. Of course we catch up with two of “the three little shits” as I like to call them, from blue blooded families, who at seven years old had their lives spelled out for them . (They knew, to the letter, exactly which prep schools and universities they would attend.) In one of the most introspective moments, there’s Sue, one of the three east end girls pictured above, taking director Michael Apted to task for his interpretations of her sucess, or lack theof.

Overall this is one of the more “feel good” installments, as those involved have risen above many health issues, divorce, and other personal demons that have shed a light of uncertainty on their prospects in the past.49 Up, as with the previous installments, is easily accessible to everyone, featuring flashbacks to previous segments. Even without prior knowledge of the series, you will not walk out feeling as if you’ve missed the point. Regardless, all six of the previous installments are now available on DVD.

More info:
The Seven Up series - Wikipedia
49 Up - SIFF

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Sofia Coppola and "Marie Antoinette" - Girls Just Want to Have Fun

From right to left: Antoinette star Dunst, Sofia Coppola, and a man who may have peaked at cinematic inception

Sofia Coppola went from famous director’s daughter, to wife of that Being John Malkovich guy, to an emerging young talent in her own right, making her way by earning Bill Murray (with help from Wes Anderson, to a lesser degree) the critical acclaim he’s long overdue, as well as putting two young blondes in the spotlight. While Lost in Translation was almost universally praised by critics (in fact the DVD boasts that it’s received over 80 four star reviews), her third film, Marie Antoinette, has not garnered the same warm welcome in reviews of it’s premiere at the Cannes film festival. The film, starring Kirsten Dunst and Jason Schwartzman, received a smattering of boos by the press after the screening, who may have been turned off by the “Coppolification” of the tale. Apparently the French in Antoinette’s days didn’t actually speak in English or listen to the Cure or Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy”. Why New Order instead of Cindi Lauper in the trailers? Comment dites-vous “historical accuracy” en francais?

Coppola defended her cotton-candy like approach to the material after the screening, saying “My biggest fear was making a ‘Masterpiece Theatre’ kind of movie…..I didn’t want to make a dry, historical period movie with the distant cold tableau of shots…In the same way I wanted ‘Lost in Translation’ to feel like you had just spent a couple of hours in Tokyo.”

Prediction: Despite mixed reviews, this film will do just fine at the box office with all the looky-loos and young’uns just dying to feast their eyes on Coppola’s new project. Make your own decision once Antoinette hits
the states in October. More coverage than you can handle below:

U.S. Trailer
“International” Trailer
Cannes Review: Marie Antoinette - Cinematical
This Marie Antoinette Has Her Head in a Totally Different Space
- Washington Post
Re-Imagining Marie Antoinette - IndieWire

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Posted by Ted Zee on May 27th 2006 | 14 Comments

Must Download TV: Weeds

Weeds is not your ordinary suburban tale. What with all the lying and cheating, gossiping housewifes, the Edward Scissorhands cookie cutter households. Actually, yes it is. But consider all that as background noise to the real scandal…Your mom (Mary Louise Parker) smokes pot. Seriously, she loves the stuff. She does that move where you exhale, and then chomp at the smoke clouds. After dad died and the money ran out? She hit the streets and started moving the stuff to pay the rent. And now King Kong ain’t got nothin’ on her.

And then there’s Kevin Nealon, who ditched the Hanz and Franz schtick and became her best customer.

How is it that nobody knows about this show? I don’t know. For fans of Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, even Desperate Housewives for godsakes, as Tony Yayo is my witness, Weeds has that dark comedy that will make you want to eat Tostitos all night. The first season is available for download on iTunes now. DVD releases in July. Second season starts August 14th on Showtime. Plenty of time to catch yourself up.

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Posted by Ted Zee on May 22nd 2006 | 1 Comment

SIFF preview: The Science of Sleep

As his follow up to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Michel Gondry returns to the space in your head with his new film The Science of Sleep at the Seattle International Film Festival on June 18th. I’ve heard the ladies love Gael Garcia Bernal. From the SIFF guide:

Michel Gondry directs this surreal, intensely visual film about a young artist (Gael García Bernal) who returns home after the death of his father. With a mundane job and a burgeoning relationship with his neighbor (Charlotte Gainsbourg), his dreams and waking life collide.

Here’s a random clip from the film featuring guitars, erupting volcanoes, and claymation construction sites.

EDIT: more Gondry, more love

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Big Love For Miranda July

And speaking of PTA, what better counterpart to Adam Sandler’s role in Punch Drunk Love than Miranda July in Me and You and Everyone We Know? I mean, Christine Jesperson and Barry Egan? Those two were made for each other. I have a real weakness for socially inept lead characters, scratching and survivin’, trying to make it happen on the love scene. Not because I know anything about such things..

So Miranda July fans, how much time are you willing to give her? 33 minutes of her squirming though a video interview about Me and You? Or maybe you just need a 8 second quickie like this player here?

Edit: Well hot damn, what about another 5 minutes with MJ and John C. Reilly in a short film, Are You the Favorite Person of Anybody?

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Posted by Ted Zee on May 21st 2006 | 1 Comment

P.T. Anderson With Henry Rollins

To kick things off we’ll take a look at a video from one of my favorite directors, P.T. Anderson, being chatted up with a guy I haven’t given much thought to, Mr. Henry Rollins. You know, I’ve always had a take-him-or-leave-him type attitude towards Henry, I was never much of a Black Flag guy, but I used to always laugh at that “Liar” video. Henry really stepped up his game the other night, interviewing P.T. and giving props to the series finale of the West Wing in the same episode of his show on IFC. Henry, you’re OK in my book.

Here PTA shares some tidbits about his new project, There Will Be Blood, working alongside Robert Altman on The Prarie Home Companion, and his penchant for working with a select group of actors like these guys.

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