Friday, March 27, 2009

'I Love You, Man' Q&A--Uncut and Uncensored

I Love You, Man Q&A (Uncut & Uncensored)
by Kip Mooney
Blog Editor

Cesar:  Okay, hi everybody this is Cesar from Paramount Pictures. I have Jason Segel and Paul Rudd on the phone. I’m going to announce the school and then the name, and then you go ahead ask you question and we’ll move on. We are going to start with U.C. Berkeley, Eric.   

Eric: Hi, first let me say congratulations. You’ve the first famous people...I’ve every interviewed.  

Jason Segel: Hey!   

Paul Rudd: Sweet - Berkeley. Yeah, Berks. Berks?  

Cesar: Eric, your question.   

Eric: So you both have done screenwriting, how do you think that affects your performances?

Paul Rudd:  This is Paul talking. I think it enhanced my performance because I think I understand the character better. Because I write it so it makes me understand a character motivations and all that other actor bullshit stuff more.  

Jason Segel:  And I agree with Paul, it is very easy given that you know every character - you know why your character was doing everything it did because you made those decisions. What I found though, on I Love You, Man, which I did right after Sarah Marshall and did not write - that I had a new respect for the writers and how difficult their job is and not to be so frivolous with their words.   

Eric: Hmm, cool thanks a lot.   

Jason Segel: Thanks.   

Cesar: Northwestern, Jamie.  

Jamie: Hey, so the movie was about you guys being romantic. How did Rashida Jones fit in - in the dynamics of the film?   

Paul Rudd: Rashida, I’ve know Rashida for a long time, this is Paul. And so it seemed very natural because we -- Jason how long have you know Rashida? Do you know here very well?

Jason Segel: I’ve known her since I was 18 so, 11 years.   

Paul Rudd: Yeah right, so it was really actually quite easy. Rashida is very much kind of one of the guys. You know, she is kind of she is -- hilarious and cool and easy to hang out with and um...   

Jason Segel: And also when you see the file, this is Jason. She is like one of the most stunning, beautiful woman you’ll every see in your life.   

Paul Rudd: That part would make it a little uncomfortable because we would just... even though we’ve know her and have been friends with her. You just say, wait a minute, she is just stunning. And then Jason and I would look at each other to kind of re--kind of shock ourselves back and where am I gonna go with this I wonder. Apparently, nowhere.   

Cesar: Thanks a lot. Drexel University, Shawn.   

Shawn: Hi, how’s it going?   

Paul Rudd: How are you Drexel?   

Shawn: I’m doing, doing good.   

Paul Rudd: Go Drex.   

Shawn: This is for Paul and Jason. So obviously you guy’s are pros in the movie, did you guy’s have to do any like preps before hand. Because I know you guys know each other but did you have to do any like, bonding? How did you go into the movie approaching?   

Jason Segel: We have a couple of hangs, we went to the bar a couple of times and scored a few brews.   

Paul Rudd: Yup. We scored a couple of brow-steins.   

Jason Segel: Yeah, a couple of bro-mens.   

Paul Rudd: Yeah, we slipped a bro-men-hymer or two.  

Jason Segel: We pounded some brains and um, you know thankfully we knew each other and so there was you know already a little bit of built in familiarity and we made several boner jokes before we every started this one. So you know we already spoke the same language a little bit.

Paul Rudd: I wasn’t joking.   

Jason Segel: I wasn’t joking either and when I say boner jokes and language, it’s an actual language called err--boner-est. We both speak boner-est.   

Paul Rudd: Yeah, it’s a lot like sign language unfortunately, except without the hands.  

Jason Segel: Like sign language without the hands. Really, it’s very hard to just spelling out one letter.   

Paul Rudd: Yeah, there is really just a couple...that’s an “L”; nope it’s an “I.” It’s an easy language to learn.   

Cesar: We are going to go to Kip at University of North Texas next.   

Paul Rudd: OK.   

Kip: Yeah, first of all I wanted to say last year, you guys’ two movies were my favorite movies.

Jason Segel: Thanks.   

Kip: Especially, Forgetting Sarah Marshall because after I went through a break up that movie was 10 times more relevant.   

Jason Segel: Oh man, I’m sorry to hear that. Are you feeling better now though?   

Kip: Uh, a little bit, a little bit.   

Jason Segel: Yeah it’s takes a little time, but I’ll tell you what you’re gonna get back on your feet and be better than ever, buddy.   

Kip: All right. Well, thanks, and my question is, male nudity? What’s the deal? It seems to be everywhere now.   

Paul Rudd: Sure.   

Kip: Who started that? Was it Judd or is that you guys?   

Paul Rudd: Well, I was the first to show my dick as far as I know in a comedic sense.   

Kip: Right.   

Paul Rudd: Can you say dick in Texas?   

Kip: Um, I think so.   

Paul Rudd: That’s punishable by death from what I understand.   

Kip: Well, just the sign language part.   

Paul Rudd: Um, yeah you did show - you had full frontal -- I think there was a dick in Walk Hard.  

Jason Segel: There was. Walk Hard, yeah.   

Paul Rudd: But you only saw a dick. You kind of put dick and face together.   

Jason Segel: Put them out wrong.   

Paul Rudd: That -- that, as soon as that sentence left my lips.  

Jason Segel: That also came out wrong. I knew that it did.  

Paul Rudd: But yeah, you um, you did that -- I only went ass in 40-Year Old Virgin.  

Jason Segel: That’s right, that’s right you did.   

Paul Rudd: But even then that is nothing...let me tell you something between my dick and your ass we’re pretty funny.   

Jason Segel: You know what’s gonna be really funny -- just wait till we do the sequel of this we’re both going to show our taints.   

Cesar: OK, moving on to San Diego University of San Diego, Caitlyn.   

Paul Rudd: Oh. Hello, Caitlyn. 

Jason Segel: Hello, San Diego. What’s up come on down south?   

Caitlyn: Hello. I have a question in particular for Jason.   

Jason Segel: Sure. 

Caitlyn: [Did the director of] this movie attract you to the script at all?

Jason Segel: Yeah, what attracts me is the fact that we have all known each other for so long. We formed a pretty tight comedy coalition as I like to call it. So it was just a very, very comfortable environment you know, Paul and I worked together a bunch. And John Hamburg and Paul and I have known each other for so long. It was a very, very comfortable environment. 

Paul Rudd: I also call it a comfortable coalition, but what I do, this is Paul. I change it up, I like comedy, I like to do it with “K” so I’m in a very comfortable coalition. 

Jason Segel: But, Paul that’s KKK.   

Paul Rudd: Oops. 

Jason Segel: I realize that I belong to the KKK, the Komfortable Komedy Koalition. And we are a very -- what we like to do is improvise, have fun and we are an extremely racist group.   

Paul Rudd: If it’s just about comedy we should re-think the uniforms. 

Jason Segel: Yeah’s the hats that are really....   

Paul Rudd: Do you really want to know though who is in this coalition?   

Caitlyn: Yeah.   

Paul Rudd: I think we need to re-think the spelling. And we’ll just go with, um... 

Jason Segel: Oh, Paul is getting dead-eyed. I’m watching him right now. 

Paul Rudd: Oh no, no, no. I was trying to think of something with initials S. F.   

Cesar: OK, and moving on University of Colorado, Boulder -- Sara.   

Paul Rudd: Oh, Boulder.  

Jason Segel: Oh yeah, man. All right.   

Paul Rudd: Are you sober? I’m gonna play some Big Head Todd and the Monsters in the background here.   

Jason Segel: Oh, what time is the party Boulder? Man we -- I’m gonna hang out with my friend brew...?   

Sara: So people are so fascinated by this word bromance, so what do you feel as though appealing from a guy’s point of view and where did the inspiration come to form this sort of relationship or fun-ship?   

Jason Segel: I think it’s a long time coming that you’ve seen a good male platonic comedy. And that’s what we’re going for and we got as close to the homo-erotic line as possible without crossing it. Which I think we both found comedic-ly satisfying.   

Paul Rudd: Mm-hm, Mm-hm. Yeah, you know it is true. But it just seems to be the word of the moment, bro-mantic, because there have really been films throughout the decade that have fallen into that category, but we are never called bromantic.   

Jason Segel: Oh, because it rhymes with romantic.   

Paul Rudd: Exactly. 

Jason Segel: I see.   

Paul Rudd: What are some of your favorite bromantic films, Jason, from, say, the ’80s?  

Jason Segel: Well, I don’t know if this is from the ’80s, but I think my favorite bromantic comedy is Midnight Cowboy.   

Paul Rudd: Oh, very good yeah. I like Twins.   

Jason Segel: Twins is pretty great, that’s a great buddy movie. Also, not bad is the follow-up, is Junior.  

Paul Rudd: Another great bromantic comedy.   

Jason Segel: Dumb and Dumber.   

Paul Rudd: Schindler’s List

Cesar: OK, we are going on to John Kerr University, Craig. 

Craig: Hey, what’s up guys?   

Paul Rudd: Hey, man. What’s up?   

Jason Segel: What’s going on? 

Craig: Jason, my mom loves Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which is creepy. I just want to throw that in.   

Jason Segel: That’s awesome. Tell her hello.   

Craig: I will. While filming pre-production, post-production what was your favorite part of this whole process?   

Jason Segel: Mm-mm. Mm-hm, Mm-mm.   

Paul Rudd: I love watching you process the question, Jason.   

Jason Segel: Oh, I wasn’t. Can you repeat the question?   

Paul Rudd: I will for you because he wants to know what was your favorite part of the process pre-production, post production, all that.   

Jason Segel: Any part of it.   

Paul Rudd: Any part of production.  

Jason Segel: Wow. OK. So as long as it falls within the parameters of production.  

Paul Rudd: That’s right.   

Jason Segel: OK. I think my favorite part was we have a day when Paul Rudd and I had our first quote-unquote man date. And they took us to the best fish taco restaurant in Venus and the director told us look, the goal is just to look like you guys are slowly starting to like each other, don’t really worry about a script. And then they just gave us four hours of fish tacos and beer and we just had to talk and be funny and enjoy each others company - it was very, very easy and very, very fun.   

Craig: Very cool. Thanks.  

Jason Segel: Thank you. 

Paul Rudd: Thank you.   

Cesar: Thank you. We are going to the University of Calgary, Wung Mi.   

Wung Mi: Hi.   

Jason Segel: Calgary!   

Paul Rudd: What’s up?   

Wung Mi: How’s it going?   

Paul Rudd: Bruce Macullar.   

Wung Mi: I just want to say I’m so excited Jason about for a Muppet movie.   

Jason Segel: Oh, thank you so much. I appreciate it. I am too. I hope it all works out, it will be fantastic.   

Wung Mi: My question is in a lot of the things you’ve done Jason you’ve been able to do a song? 

Jason Segel: Yeah.   

Wung Mi: And are you asked to write these things or is it something you come up with and bring it to the movie and will we get to see you sing again in this movie?   

Jason Segel: I don’t believe I sing in I Love You, Man, I don’t think.   

Paul Rudd: Well, not necessarily.  

Jason Segel: Do I?   

Paul Rudd: Yeah.   

Jason Segel: Oh, I do, I do, I do. I do sing in I Love You, Man, as song that I did not write. A song written by...   

Paul Rudd: Some of your countrymen. 

Jason Segel: Yup, that’s right. The whole eternity Rush, so we sing a little Rush in there. Yeah, I’ve always enjoyed writing songs, especially when I was out of work it made me feel like I was at least doing something, you know. And so that Dracula song from Sarah Marshall I wrote like seven years ago when I was out of work and depressed. So I’m just finally making it that they are legitimate by putting them in movies as apposed to a depressed act.   

Man: Did you write Lady L?   

Jason Segel: I did write Lady L, yeah. That was the first song I wrote for anything. That was pretty cool. I learned to play the guitar in two days for that song.  

Cesar: Thanks a lot, the next question is going to Columbia University, Jennifer. 

Jason Segel: Hey.   

Jennifer: Hey guys, how’s it going?   

Jason Segel: Hey, how’s it going? 

Paul Rudd: Good.   

Jason Segel: My first girlfriend went to Columbia University and her name was Jennifer.

Jennifer: Really? 

Jason Segel: Yeah.   

Jennifer: Cool.   

Paul Rudd: Wait a minutes, am I sensing a reunion on the phone right now? Are you the Jennifer that Jason went out with?   

Jennifer: I wish I was.   

Jason Segel: Wow, Jennifer.   

Paul Rudd: Maybe we can facilitate this?   

Jason Segel: Here till Sunday, Jennifer.   

Jennifer: OK, now you are going to make my question seem really ridiculous now. But I know you’ve all ready talked about the whole nakedness thing. And I’m wondering you know, after you’re naked in the movie I heard there might be some tape showing, do you feel different like, walking down the street knowing that people saw your ass?  

Jason Segel: Um, hmm. I um...   

Jennifer: How do you go out with a girl and she is like oh, I love you and Forgetting Sarah Marshall?   

Jason Segel: But what I really liked seeing was that taint.  You know what, it actually makes things more comfortable because the girls now what they are going to get, so there is not any mystery or awkward moment where it’s like yeah, this is what I’m working with. If they want to go out on a date they’ve already checked out the goods and on the big screen too which is only more helpful.   

Paul Rudd: Unless hey, there is a chance that maybe they got it and downloaded it on iTunes and are watching it on their iPod.  

Jason Segel: Oh.   

Paul Rudd: Which would give you an iDick.   

Jason Segel: Yeah. I’m hoping the big screen because it adds pounds.   

Paul Rudd: You have a 15-pound dick.  

Jason Segel: Which means, you’re at Columbia so I assume you’re good at math. That my dick would weigh five pounds, but...   

Paul Rudd: When I saw Forgetting Sarah Marshall on an IMAX screen which adds 20pounds, so in actuality and I don’t mean to offend you Jason, I think your dick weighs negative five pounds.   

Jason Segel: Oh, zoinks.   

Paul Rudd: Boom! Boom-shock-ooh-la.   

Jason Segel: I’ve got mail.   

Cesar: Hey, I think we are going to have to cut it off there guys. James, you can take Paul and Jason out of the conference. Thank you very much Paul and Jason for your time.   

Jason Segel: Thank you.   

Paul Rudd: Thank you.

Friday, March 20, 2009

SXSW: Wednesday / Thursday

So, the South by Southwest music festival is a tad bit disorienting. For those who aren't accustomed the magically disgusting methodology behind the fest, it's essentially a week-long industry gaze-off. Thousands of record label folks leave a trail of the press following behind them, desperate to find the "next big thing" playing at one of the hundred plus clubs, bars and venues, which are effectively hosting the fest. It's essentially a real-life blogosphere: If you're not quite sure where to go, just follow the biggest crowd and try to blend in.

But something special has happened in the past few years. The people outside this loop realized the goings-on and kicked off even more day shows packed with free music, free food and free booze. It's changed the festival from an introverted shell into a cracked egg. Meaning: pretty much anyone can have a blast here.

So, The NT Daily nabbed two wristbands. Note: badges take precedence for admittance at evening shows, which tonight prevented us from seeing my favorite modern punk band Black Lips & the classic, trail-paving Primal Scream gig, but got us into one of the best hip-hop shows I've seen; but we'll get to that soon. But we grabbed a camera and a notepad and headed down to the fest.


Had us setting our feet into the constantly changing mud that is Austin, TX for a week in the middle of March. We scrambled to the Austin Convention Center, took an hour to register and strap on our bands, and headed back to our cars -- parked in a thirty minute zone, mind you -- and settled in.

Wednesday was a myriad of DJ sets, dance punk and crowded streets. With a weak evening line up, frankly, we figured out the terrain. We wandered those crowded sweets and mapped out what would be a very crowded Thursday.


I almost had my night ruined. Think of one of your favorite songs, and then think of it covered by a band fronted by a dude playing a key-tar -- minus any and all irony- - with plasma TV's lined against the 35+ foot stage and a band populated by a host of folks hoping to look 1/10 as neat as Daft Punk live. Dallas Austin pulled its proverbial pants down and defecated all over T. Rex's "Children of the Revolution." But luckily, it only opened for Big Boi, who tore the roof off, built it up again, lit it on fire and....well, dude killed it.

But first we caught a couple day shows. The first was a severely underpopulated set at The Art Collective, which is on the opposite side of the freeway from downtown Austin. The small art gallery/warehouse proved to be quite the spot: Free beer, free tacos and incredibly interesting tunes.

Seattle, WA's Wildlife was the first we caught. To put it simply, think of if Black Sabbath was a drone band. The three-piece really put a smile on my face, these guys infused classic rock to a droning guitar and brought out an incredibly visceral the eight people in the room.

Next came Cruddy, a band which has a name that I would actually go out of my way to avoid. But their sloppy Austin-based punk music sounded like the Dead Kennedys stripped of pretension and chock full of start/stop melodies that really impressed the hell out of me. Proof that Austin's punk scene isn't dead, if you will.

The last band we caught here was DD/MM/YYY. The band's been getting a ton of notice around the indie community, and it's kind of interesting to see its progression. This is essentially the Spoon of noise rock. They're extremely calcuated and well-paced; it's rare to see a band in this genre to rely so strictly on succinct patterns belted out by other band members. Definitely well worth catching.

But across town was the real kick-in-the-throat. The Hold Steady and No Age played a set at Red 7, the former rocking the outside stage and the latter belting out inside. The Hold Steady was as good as it always is. Lead singer Craig Finn's lyrics still resonated as strongly as they do on the albums -- especially on highlight "Multitude of Casualties" -- but the energy was off the map. I've seen this band, (I kind of hate admitting such things but...) five times, and its SXSW show was one of the most energetic. If only all the crowd would've been as into it as they typically are when they fork over cash to see them.

No Age, though, were pretty jaw-dropping. The California duo previously opened up for Liars at Haileys in Denton, and provided a fairly similar experience to listening to the records real loud. This time, though, the cards have turned. The songs are tighter, the music is louder and the two band members are even more rowdy. As the highlight of the set, the guitarist jumped into the crowd mid-solo, guitar still plugged into the amp, crowd surfing the whole way. Look for an interview with them next week, by the way.

Denton's Sleep Whale, formerly known as MOM, really brought a wonderful variation to all the punk-rock. The mostly instrumental beauty these guys produce is just fantastic, as its nearly hypnotic instrumentals command the crowd's attention: It's too pretty and too interesting to look away. Even after the band before them shorted their amp, Sleep Whale pulled off what they claimed to be the best show in a long while, and I'm inclined to agree. Interview's on the way with these guys, as well.

To explain the highs and lows of the next four hours at the Austin Music Hall is very difficult. I'll start from here: this terrible, god-awful, atrocious, vomitous, waste called Dallas Austin opened for Outkast's Big Boi. Dallas Austin, somehow, has somebody fronting the bill for the most elaborate presentation of garbage I have ever seen. These cats have light-up headphones, Mexican mariachi masks, ongoing plasma TV's lining the stage, a keytar, platforms set up on stage of varying heights and what seemed like someone manning a CD player off-stage that keeps the band on a uniform track of the random images projected on the excessive plasma screens.

In addition to Ludacris, they covered T. Rex's "Children of the Revolution." I don't normally walk out of shows, but guess what happened.

Thank Christ Big Boi followed. Talk about a showman. He ran through an Outkast heavy set: I honestly don't know which to brag more about, seeing "So Fresh, So Clean" followed by "I'm Sorry Miss Jackson" or "Southernplayalisticaddillacmuzik" followed by "Players Ball." He brought out "Rosa Parks" he got the entire room crunk with "Kryptonite;" his set was so powered up that we left the front of the press area to get back into the rowdy crowd. Did I mention he was backed by a full band? Oh, because he was.

But now it's late, and we've got a full day tomorrow too. Just think of how great all your favorite Outkast tracks are live, and that sums up the highlight of our experience so far. Tune in tomorrow night, folks.

-Matt Goodman, Editor-In-Chief

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Israeli trio redefinies rock show in last night of NX35

The last night of NX35 couldn't have been more perfect. Take Denton's Fishboy playing at Banter, The Drams at Boiler Room and two high-energy sets at Hailey's and whoa, whoa, whoa... It goes without saying that Monotonix, a half-naked-mosh-pit-inducing-phenomenon from Israel, put on the best show of the weekend. The one-man band, Show is Rainbow got the energy (and the beard) worked up. Then the Israeli trio tore down the house. Monotonix's set redefined the definition of a rock show. They started at the edge of the floor, drifted to the center of the dance floor, to on top of the crowd, out in the street and back inside. Lead singer, Levi mooned the audience, stole beer from a few unsuspecting guys and successfully sweated on everyone in the club -- and it couldn't have been more appropriate! Why more bands don't take those same liberties is astounding. I'm sold. Thinking back to comic book author, Harvey Pekar's Saturday afternoon discussion about free jazz, he would probably have enjoyed, or at least appreciated Monotonix. Pekar talked about how music and the arts need to be constantly evolving and inventing so they avoid becoming stagnant. NX35 stirred up the setting water in Denton's arts community. While the conferette has plenty of growing to do and a few kinks to work out, overall it was an awesome experience. Fans didn't have to drive to Austin or Dallas to see the more than 100 acts booked and the camaraderie between audience members made the weekend particularly enjoyable. It will be exciting to see how the conferette turns out next year. Order your 2010 tickets in advance, folks. I can guarantee they won't last long.

-Melissa Crowe

Video and pictures courtesy of Rachel Watts

Saturday, March 14, 2009

New Science Projects takes the floor at Rubber Gloves

By Rachel Watts

If you're into being discontent with some of life's principles, enjoy shaking a tambourine or like wearing war paint, you were probably at Rubber Gloves on Friday night, helping chant along with New Science Projects' lead singer, Dale Jones.

"I was an angry, white suburban teen," Jones said, "so of course I have to write songs about being mad at my dad, right?"

The audience bursts into laughter. Some of the locals who've been coming to Dale's shows for a long time seem to have caught on to his random, sarcastic outbursts. He sits in a chair on the floor rather than the stage, when he sits at all, or he jumps up and down in your face, sometimes smearing red paint from his face or arm all over your new blouse.

"Grab a tambourine! I need help playing this song," Jones said, as he chunked a bag full of tambourines onto the floor in front of him and watched them get snatched up one by one.

He encouraged everyone to come closer, so that they were literally a foot from his chair. This heightened the sense of cameraderie in the room and set a good vibe for his next song, "Homebody Stomp," where everyone stomped their feet and shook their tambourines, as Dale shouted out incomprehensible words.

"He's a completely different person offstage," said Charlie Hunter, a fan of the Denton local music scene. "When he isn't into his onstage character 'Swamp Man' he's a such a nice guy."

If you weren't at the NSP show, you've may've opted for something a little more chill, like Doug Burr over at Dan's Silver Leaf or something more cohesive like The Heartstring Stranglers at The Hydrant.

Yes, there were many bands to choose from last night, as there will be again tonight, so I've learned that being very selective is key with having a good time at NX35. Many bands' sets overlap with one another, making it difficult to catch all you want to catch. It seems as though by the time you've seen two or three sets and the last part of a final set, the night is over.

We'll see what tonight has in store for our Denton community, as NX35 eases into the third night of music, beer and good conversation.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Dan's puts on entertaining crowd for first night of NX35

The crowd at Dan's Silverleaf Thursday night for the first night of North By 35 was nearly as entertaining as the music. Fans of James McMurtry, son of the successful writer Larry McMurtry, piled in the venue for a heart wrenching opening set by Clair Small of Austin.

"How do you like love now?" she sang with a sarcastic, Feist-ey tone. If every failed relationship didn't come to mind, well, you were probably too busy ordering drinks at the bar.

Next up, Denton's band The Heelers, sang along the same wavelength. I couldn't stop thinking of Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows and Bob Dylan. And of course, Isaac Hoskins, the lead singer, made the crowd wait till the very end to hear their best song - Which set the mood perfectly for Jonny Burke, of Austin, before McMurtry played.

But James McMurtry was the most entertaining of all. Or maybe it was the 40 and older, ass-shakers working their money-makers in the center of the venue.

Either way, McMurtry stayed true to his Americana rock groove - Country music for KISS fans. Keep an eye out for The Heelers, who play in venues across Denton, and Jonny Burke.

-Melissa Crowe

Sunday, February 22, 2009

AMC Best Picture Showcase Recap

Movie marathon worth enduring
By Kip Mooney
SCENE Editor

This year's crop of Best Picture nominees have made less money than any group in recent memory, but don't count 'em out: at least three of the five deserved their nominations, though I could easily think of four to fill the other slots (the ones not occupied by "Slumdog Millionaire," which, after three viewings, is still 2008's best film). That said, here are my mini-reviews and ratings of all five Best Picture nominees, based on my impressions following their screening at Saturday's showcase.

Starring Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, James Franco, Emile Hirsch, Diego Luna
Directed by Gus Van Sant
Yes, you can believe the hype. My biggest problem with biopics is that they're always too boring, and, despite great performances, never capture what made these figures so compelling. "Milk" defies all these expectations. Giving the film actual context, thanks to archival footage in the opening credits (showing the systematic abuse and discrimination of gays by police) and in its expository shots (showing the transition of the Castro District of San Francisco from its early days as a safe haven to a mecca for LGBT groups). The original script (from first-time screenwriter and Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black), deft editing, fascinating direction and mesmerizing performances from Penn (who won the Oscar) and Brolin (who received his first, long overdue nomination), make this a riveting history lesson come to life.

"The Reader"
Starring David Kross, Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes, Lena Olin
Directed by Stephen Daldry
Every year, the Academy nominates an unbelievably self-important film that no one saw, taking the place of an artistic crowd-pleaser. Two years ago, that film was "Babel" (filling a slot that should have belonged to "Pan's Labyrinth"). This year, it's Stephen Daldry (who, for unknown reasons, has tied Martin Scorsese and Clint Eastwood for nominations this decade) adaptation of a German novel, filled with sex and Nazi guilt. Other than Kate Winslet's Oscar-winning performance (which wasn't all that remarkable--great work is expected from an actress who's been nominated six times at age 33; here, she's merely good) and an excellent score, the movie is just a nicely-shot PSA for literacy. And its inclusion as one of the year's five best movies becomes more appalling by the second.

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Starring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson
Directed by David Fincher
Not quite as magical as when I first experienced it opening weekend, but it's still a technical marvel. Brad Pitt, upon second viewing, didn't do most of the heavy lifting of his performance; it was the F/X wizards who put his animated head on someone else's body. And even though it's a carbon copy of "Forrest Gump," it still manages to captivate, something nearly impossible in our ADD society. Fincher has made movies darker ("Se7en") and deeper ("Fight Club") and more fully realized ("Zodiac"), but none quite as dazzling as this.

"Slumdog Millionaire"
Starring Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Irrfan Khan
Directed by Danny Boyle
I called it the best film of 2008 back in November, and two viewings later, it still stands as a crowning achievement. An uplifting, well-crafted, truly original tale that never once hits a false note, never once feels repetitive, never once wastes a second of celluloid. The large cast is uniformly excellent, despite the fact that most lacked formal training. It all feels wholly authentic and organic, and a movie that earned its slew of Oscars and audience the old-fashioned way: by making a great film.

Starring Michael Sheen, Frank Langella, Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt, Sam Rockwell
Directed by Ron Howard
What should have been a cinematic bore (it's really just two dudes talking the whole movie) becomes a nail-biter, with the audience on the edge of their seats for most of the film. Frank Langella gives no mere imitation here; he actually embodies the man. Played with a touch of sadness, we understand how desperately the disgraced ex-President wanted to be liked. He has a human side, yet the film never justifies his actions. And Michael Sheen (snubbed just two years ago as Tony Blair in "The Queen") gets the shaft again. His counterpoint David Frost is a brilliant foil for Tricky Dick, and gets under the skin of a man who staked his entire career on this series of interviews. Keep up the good work, everyone.

Friday, October 31, 2008

In theaters today...

By Kip Mooney
Blog Editor


Starring Angelina Jolie, Jeffrey Donovan, John Malkovich

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Eastwood’s ’30s-set thriller stars Jolie (who’s supposed to be a Best Actress frontrunner) as the mother of a missing child. She takes on the corrupt LAPD when she claims the child they return is not her own flesh and blood.

(Cinemark Denton, Rave Hickory Creek, AMC Highland Village, Cinemark Vista Ridge Mall)

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“The Haunting of Molly Hartley”

Starring Haley Bennett, Chace Crawford, Jake Weber

Directed by Mickey Lidell

On her 18th birthday, Molly Hartley turns evil. Blah blah blah. Go rent “Carrie” instead.

(Cinemark Denton, Rave Hickory Creek, Studio Movie Grill Lewisville, Cinemark Vista Ridge Mall)

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Starring Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Thandie Newton, Ludacris, Jeremy Piven

Directed by Guy Ritchie

Perhaps his marital troubles with Madonna have allowed Ritchie to reclaim his awesomeness as a filmmaker. Buzz says this British gangster flick brings him back to the fun-loving, f-word laden glory days of “Snatch.”

(Cinemark Vista Ridge Mall)

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“Zack and Miri Make a Porno”

Starring Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Robinson

Directed by Kevin Smith

You may find the words “Make a Porno” excised from ads and tickets, but that’s really cheating you out of what you’re getting yourself into. Basically, two platonic roommates resort to making an amateur skin flick to pay their bills. In hands other than Kevin Smith’s, I would expect this to be terrible.

(Denton Movie Tavern, Cinemark Denton, AMC Highland Village, Rave Hickory Creek, Studio Movie Grill Lewisville, Cinemark Vista Ridge Mall) 

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

TV Review: Kath & Kim

Australian remake satisfies with quirky comedy
By Kip Mooney
Blog Editor

When it comes to television remakes, they don't all work. For every "Office," there's a "Coupling." For every "American Idol," there's an "I'm a Celebrity...Get Me out of Here!"

Luckily, "Kath and Kim" falls into the former category.

While its jokes are hit-or-miss, this comedy is, on the whole, solidly funny.

"Kath and Kim" follows the lives of a mother and daughter, both recently divorced (or on the brink of), both starved for attention, and both hilariously self-obsessed (Kim more so than Kath).

Kath Day (Molly Shannon) now has a budding romance with sandwich mogul Phil Knight (who proposes to her asking if she'll turn Day into Knight) and Kim's weeks-old marriage is on the skids once she (Selma Blair) discovers the challenges it faces.

Both of their significant others continually steal the show (even though both lead actresses are talented). John Michael Higgins, a veteran of Christopher Guest's films, plays his role with gusto. Phil doesn't mess around when it comes to sandwiches like the Wam Bam Thank You Ham. And Mikey Day, so funny on Nick Cannon's improv series "Wild 'n' Out" and David Blaine videos, shows a bit of sadness under his big-doe eyes and slack-jawed demeanor as Craig, who's desperate to win back his new bride. 

The show takes obvious cues from ultra-quirky shows like "Arrested Development" but frankly, if you're going to crib from a past show, why not crib from the best. 

The show still has a way to go to prove itself worthy of your limited time, but for now, it's a humorous distraction. And given the dark state of the world, maybe that's enough for now.

In theaters today...

By Kip Mooney
Blog Editor

“Body of Lies”

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, Mark Strong

Directed by Ridley Scott

Featuring the hardest working group of individuals in Hollywood (Leo, Crowe, and Scott—whose “American Gangster” is still vastly underappreciated), “Body of Lies” goes a step further than the “Bourne” franchise to deal directly with spying and counter-intelligence in the Middle East.

(Cinemark Denton, Rave Hickory Creek, AMC Highland Village, Cinemark Vista Ridge Mall, Studio Movie Grill Lewisville)

Poster courtesy

“City of Ember”

Starring Bill Murray, Tim Robbins, Saoirse Ronan, Harry Treadaway, Toby Jones, Mary Kay Place

Directed by Gil Kenan

Post-apocalyptic kids’ movie is probably a phrase you never thought you’d hear, but this adaptation of the first book in the Ember series follows two youngsters (Ronan and Treadaway) who try to escape from a dying underground city led by a corrupt mayor (Murray).

(Cinemark Denton, Rave Hickory Creek, AMC Highland Village Cinemark Vista Ridge Mall, Studio Movie Grill Lewisville)

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“The Duchess”

Starring Keira Knightley, Ralph Feinnes, Charlotte Rampling

Directed by Saul Dibb

Oscar buzz is strong for this “wig movie,” starring Keira Knightley as the independent title character and Ralph Feinnes as her cruel husband. The movie expands after its limited release on Sept. 19.

(Rave Hickory Creek, Cinemark Vista Ridge Mall)

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“The Express”

Starring Rob Brown, Dennis Quaid, Charles S. Dutton

Directed by Gary Fleder

This biopic tells the true story of Ernie Davis, the lightning-fast Syracuse runningback, and the first African-American to take home the Heisman Trophy.

(Cinemark Denton, Denton Movie Tavern, Rave Hickory Creek, AMC Highland Village, Cinemark Vista Ridge Mall, Studio Movie Grill Lewisvile)

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Starring Jennifer Carpenter, Steve Harris, Columbus Short

Directed by John Erick Dowdle

In this remake of the Spanish horror flick “[rec]” a reporter and her cameraman attempt to investigate strange goings-on in an apartment complex sealed off by the CDC.

(Cinemark Denton, Rave Hickory Creek, AMC Highland Village, Cinemark Vista Ridge Mall)

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