How Does Todd Phillips Really Feel About Frat Boy Types?

June 15, 2009

The-Hangover-01

The continued success of The Hangover has cemented director Todd Phillips, whose previous work includes Road Trip and Old School, as the go-to auteur for frat boy comedy.  While this is accurate enough, as his films are sure to be quoted as keg parties for generations to come, it’s pretty extraordinary considering how Phillips’s career began.

After completing the well-regarded documentary Hated while still an undergraduate film student at NYU, Phillips won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 1998 for his second documentary, Frat House. While it takes place in a familiar milieu for Phillips and contains some dark humor, the film is actually a pretty scathing expose on hazing rituals in fraternities.  After the big Sundance victory, it was all set to air on HBO when, depending on who you believe, either pressure from subjects’ parents and fraternity organizations, or allegations that Phillips and co-director Andrew Gurland staged scenes, dissuaded the network from ever airing it (though somehow you can view it here).

Read the rest at BlogStage!


David Carradine: A Great Storyteller

June 15, 2009

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Less than a month ago, while working on a short film in Canada, I was on my way to pick up David Carradine and take him to breakfast.  I was more than a little nervous, as I’d never worked with an actor of his magnitude before and didn’t know what to expect.  As I knocked on his door, I braced for the worst – an awkward, silent car ride, breakfast at separate tables…

Imagine my surprise, when, within moments of walking in, I was instead treated to David’s appraisal of Bob Dylan’s new album, then moments later his reminisces of his own dabblings as a songwriter.  By the time we finally made it to set a couple hours later, I had heard about everything from his childhood in Los Angeles to how he met his wife to his abiding love of good coffee.

Read the rest at BlogStage!


ND/NF: Space and whole lot of dirt, in Paper Soldier

March 23, 2009

 

Chulpan Khamatova and Anastya Sheveleva in Paper Soldier

Paper Soldier, a Russian film from director Alexey German Jr., takes a street-level approach – or more specifically a gray, damp, muddy earth-level approach, to the Russian half of the space race, in an attempt to strip this proud moment in Soviet history of all its glory. While it succeeds in this effort, the film falters a bit with the more human side of  story and ends up feeling a little bit like a history lesson.

Forget about any uptempo cosmonaut-training montages or gorgeous outer space vistas. Instead, Paper Soldier is tightly focused on the psyche of Daniel (Merab Ninidze), a physician involved in the space project who grows increasingly uncomfortable risking human life for the sake of science. Daniel’s also got a wife (a fellow doctor played by Chulpan Khamatova) at the training facility in Moscow and a girlfriend at the launch site (Anastasya Shevaleva) in Kazakhstan, and in time these personal and philosophical conflicts take a toll on him.

Read the rest of the review at Film Linc Blog!


Hear Different about New Directors/New Films!

March 23, 2009

 

New Directors/New Films/New Panda

New Directors/New Films/New Panda

New Directors/New Films is the one of many exciting cinephile things to do in New York City that I have somehow managed to avoid for the nearly 6 years I’ve been living here (NYFF – I’ll get to you eventually). That is, until last week, when I lucked into an opportunity to review a couple of the films at the fest for the Lincoln Center Film Blog.  While I wasn’t crazy about either of the films I saw, it was still exciting to see something well, new, and artistically serious during this season of shitty films.

I’ll excerpt both of the pieces I’ve written here when they officially go online, but until then you should check the FilmLinc Blog for all kinds of reviews from the festival and a bunch of other exciting film-nerd stuff as well.

And in case you were wondering about the adorable pandas, they’re just there because I couldn’t find any interesting pictures of the festival or Lincoln Center or anything, you know, relevant.  I guess I could’ve posted some still from one of the films, but then again, none of those stills feature cute animals, do they?


Not The Whitest Kids You’ve Come to Know

March 17, 2009

Whitest kids and hef

If you’ve followed the career of sketch comedy group The Whitest Kids U’ Know – saw their live shows at Pianos on the Lower East Side, checked their website for the latest no-budget shorts, cheered as they landed a show on Fuse, then cheered louder when it moved to IFC and became way less censored – then you’re probably surprised, or even a little disturbed to see the picture above, with stars Trevor Moore and Zach Cregger sandwiching Playboy founder and reality-TV staple Hugh Hefner. Shouldn’t Trevor and Zach be working on some bizarrely comic sketches instead palling around with Hef at the Mansion? And how do these guys even know each other?

Read the rest at BlogStage!


Unabashedly Lowbrow or Hopelessly Middlebrow, Which is Worse?

March 17, 2009

Poster-1ILYMposter-big

Last week, I wrote a piece on this site about Miss March, a raunchy teen sex comedy from two of the members of sketch troupe The Whitest Kids U’ Know. Though I’ve long been a fan of the group, I wasn’t kind to the movie, and I felt a little bad about trashing what was, after all, only intended as a mindless diversion. But then I saw the other reviews.

As it stands now, Miss March is at 4% on Rotten Tomatoes, with only 2 of the 46 reviews aggregated on that site considered favorable. On Metacritic, it has an overall score of 8, which puts it as the 13th worst reviewed film of all time, just below State Property, Meet the Spartans, and something called The Price of Air.

Visit BlogStage to read the rest of the post!


Late Oscar Reactions: Changes, Good and Bad

March 2, 2009
this man is a dandy

this man is a dandy

Despite the lack of surprises among the actual winners (see mostly accurate predictions here, here, and even here), the general consensus seems to be that Sunday’s 81st Academy Awards were one of the most entertaining Oscar ceremonies in years. Much of the credit goes to producers Bill Condon and Laurence Mark, whose had cryptically promised big changes to the telecast in the press leading up to the show.

While I do think that, overall, the show was unusually brisk and amusing, I’m not sure all of those big changes were successes. So I thought it’d be useful to evaluate each of them on their own. Without further ado…
Read the rest at BlogStage!