Damon Lindelof

The Leftovers

No, it wasn’t easy. My personal viewing experience of the first two episodes of HBO’s The Leftovers has stuck with me throughout the entire summer, and I have zero problem with telling people that watching two hours of Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta‘s series actually made me feel physically ill, it was just that heavy. The Leftovers may still not be binge-watch television, but it has finally become must-watch television. With just two episodes left, it was about time that some kind of tide turned. The HBO series, inspired by Perrotta’s novel of the same name, was never intended to be feel-good television, just by virtue of the fact that it’s entirely centered on a global-scale tragedy. The series picks up three years after some kind of “event” has whisked away 2% of the world’s population, enough time to sort of get things back to normal, but not long enough to really heal wounds. The lingering sense that something else is about to happen — and soon! — doesn’t help. Set primarily in the small town of Mapleton, New York, the series follows a medium-sized cast of characters as they (continue to) deal with the fallout from said event. Some people lost everyone that day, some people just lost one person, some people lost their loved ones later to outside forces. Still, the entire program is about loss. It’s hard to feel good about that.

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The Leftovers

Hey, there. How are you? Are you okay? How is HBO’s The Leftovers treating you? It’s okay to be tender about it! You can even get mad! Any emotions are welcome here. Since it debuted in June, the latest HBO series has garnered responses that run the gamut. Some people love it. Some people hate it. Maybe some people are in the middle there, but who knows! Some people have already given up on it. Some people continue to plow through. Here at Film School Rejects, we’re into completionism, so yes, we’ve (really, though, I mean me) kept up our watching. It’s gotten better. Sort of. Now the series, pulled from Tom Perrotta‘s novel of the same name and created by Perrotta and showrunner Damon Lindelof, will have another chance to win over viewers — a whole new season, actually. HBO has announced that it will be bringing back their summertime series for another season. There’s no word on when the Sunday night show will debut said second season, but we’re willing to bet we might have another summer of sadness to look forward to in 2015. Putting this thing in the winter might be a bit too much to bear anyway.

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The Leftovers

There shouldn’t be any question that HBO’s latest much-watch series, the Damon Lindelof- and Tom Perrotta-created The Leftovers, is a feel-good affair, but let’s clarify things, just for good measure: this is not a feel-good affair. Based on Perrotta’s novel of the same name, the series (which premiered last night on the cable channel) picks up three years after two percent of the world’s population went – poof – up in totally metaphorical smoke. Two percent of the world, just gone, vanished, vamoosed, missing, possibly raptured (though the first episode of the series does, quite memorably, include a talking head news program that features a host that refuses to acknowledge the possibility that this was “the Rapture” or in any way a religious act), leaving behind the vast majority of the human population, all damaged in their own way. No, really damaged. The whole thing is black as night – The Leftovers isn’t witty like Election or biting like Little Children, Perrotta’s best known big screen adaptions – but it’s moving and unnerving in its own way. The show is mostly without levity or humor, and is often so self-serious as to feel a smidge too heavy-handed (mainly thanks to an overwrought and occasionally awkward score and a series of smash cuts that grate), but it’s still entertaining and very watchable – though binge watching seems particularly ill-advised. In fact, The Leftovers is a show that’s designed to not appeal to the binging masses, if only because it’s too damn […]

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Justin Theroux in The Leftovers

Ah, the old “fake commercial that’s actually a trailer for something else” trick. A classic. First you lull ‘em into a false sense of security, then ka-blam! Zombies/aliens/vampires/dinosaur sharks/Muppets. Sure, The Leftovers loses a little bit of its fake-out oomph by airing on HBO, a network that doesn’t actually show commercials (at least, not for any non-HBO products), but the suspense is still mostly there. And for those poor, uninformed souls who don’t know the ins and outs of HBO’s commercial policies, there are still a few gotchas to be had. What starts out as an ad for some sciencey whatever — a smartphone or the environment or something — segues into something a little scarier when a great big chunk of the population disappears into thin air. What the trailer doesn’t mention, however is just what’s causing our nation’s babies to vaporize out of their car seats: the Rapture. Maybe not the Rapture, but a Rapture nonetheless. And the series, based off the similarly-titled book by Tom Peretta, will follow the non-raptured (hence the title) as they feud and fuss in post-apocalyptic suburbia.

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Lost Finale

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Elysium

The fantastically talented TyRuben Ellingson has been painting the future for years. Getting his start as a VFX art director on Jurassic Park, he’s gone on to envision vehicles, worlds and weaponry for James Cameron, Guillermo del Toro and more. This summer his work can be seen stomping in Pacific Rim and flying through Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium, and we were lucky enough to speak with him about his ever-expanding sci-fi universe. Plus, Geoff defends screenwriter Damon Lindelof for saying he’s tired of destruction porn with a straight face, and we challenge ourselves to sum up the week’s movie news in only three words. You should check out Ellingson’s website, and follow the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more fun stuff on a daily basis. And, as always, we welcome your feedback. Download Episode #28 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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Damon Lindelof

Depending on how you look at it, Damon Lindelof saying he’s “turned off by [the] destruction porn that has emerged” is either like a junkie agreeing to rehab or the pusher lamenting all the damned drugs that are making him rich. Depending on how you look at it, it’s either a bold declaration from a power player or a cool statement of reality from another wheel in the machine. Depending on how you look at it, it’s either brave or hypocritical. Scott Brown at Vulture challenged Lindelof to give the summer studio treatment to a famously intimate tale — that of John Henry beating the steam engine — and alongside the story hurdle, the writer expounded on the current nature of big budget filmmaking. It’s a topic everyone seems keen to wax on and off about these days, but if Steven Spielberg speaking ironically about giant budgets taking over was the lament of Dr. Frankenstein, Lindelof sighing at the status quo feels like the monster becoming self-aware.

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world_war_z_ver14_xlg

Now that Marc Forster’s World War Z has hit theaters (earning both a respectable-enough $66M since its Friday release and a newly-revitalized sequel plan), it’s finally appropriate to really dig deeply into what the troubled production’s many changes meant to the final product. Well-publicized delays, a bloated budget, and questions about the relationship between its director and the rest of its team have all plagued the film, but the most enduring question about World War Z has long centered on late-breaking script edits that chopped off an entire act and reimagined not only how the film ended, but how the emotional aspects of the film worked to make that new ending work. Of course, there are spoilers ahead if you have not yet seen the film. Last week, we finally got some insight into the long-buzzed-about scripting changes made to the film by Damon Lindelof, Drew Goddard, and (to a lesser extent) Christopher McQuarrie. While it was no secret that the final act of the film had been wildly altered by the three’s post-original-filming contributions (millions of dollars of physical reshoots will remove the secrecy from just about anything), the finer details of those contributions were not readily available until Mike Ryan at The Huffington Post got word from a source about what exactly was changed, edited, and added by the scribes. In short, the entirety of the third act was added (and the original, “Battle of Russia”-centric act was removed) and a related set of smaller scenes that pepper […]

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wwz07

Spoilers Ahead: This article contains advanced talking points for Marc Forster‘s World War Z. We recommend reading it after you see the film. I know. It’s pretty futile starting up a list of unanswered questions regarding a popcorn flick about vaguely defined zombies co-written by Damon Lindelof. But just because something is futile doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. I haven’t read the original book by Max Brooks, which apparently doesn’t matter given how little the movie resembles the text. I also haven’t followed every little piece of the production, but that shouldn’t matter either since the movie on screen should stand alone. However, where there is some relevance to explaining something on screen by the issues of the rewrites and reshoots and such, so I do try to mention it if I’m aware of it. Speaking of the infamous production problems, they do tend to factor into narrative flaws and holes and confusion like those I raise below. Additionally the expectation that the story of World War Z will continue in sequels means the filmmakers might be choosing to flesh out some stuff later on. And of course, as usual, some of the questions are not answerable at all because they’re more criticisms in the form of a hypothetical query or simply disagreements with how the movie was plotted or how the characters thought or acted. All in all, let these talking points first and foremost serve as a means to discuss the movie in full without concern for spoilers.

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World War Z Movie

The problems involved with getting Max Brooks’ “World War Z” to translate fluidly to the big screen in the Marc Forster-directed and Brad Pitt-starring film of the same name have been documented seemingly since the film was first announced, with a significant emphasis placed on scripting troubles that eventually turned into final product troubles that necessitated massive reshoots. Even in its early stages, the script for World War Z seemed plagued; as far back as April of 2010, a long-promised final script by Matthew Michael Carnahan (as originally written by J. Michael Straczynski) was continually dangled over both fans and the production itself. Even when that incarnation of the script was (finally) finished, World War Z still wasn’t ready for the big screen – though it was eventually filmed as such. After filming was completed last year, the scripting problems of the film made themselves so obvious to the Paramount brass that the studio brought in not one, not two, but three well-known scribes to “crack” the ending of the film – a rescripted final act that led to weeks of reshoots, millions of dollars spent, and the complete scrapping of a reportedly epic battle set in Russia. A banger of an article written by Laura M. Holson in the June issue of Vanity Fair has so far presented the most wide and researched look at the troubles that ate away at the zombie film, but even that piece wasn’t able to answer the big question – who wrote what? […]

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Star Trek Into Darkness

After four years of waiting and anticipation, geek honcho J.J. Abrams has finally given us the sequel to his 2009 box office and critical hit. And it is … serviceable. Abrams’ new movie is as sleek and shiny as his first Star Trek picture but lacking much of its charm. The novelty of seeing these characters coming together is gone, the villain is lackluster in bizarre ways, and the high-flying pacing is absent, making many of the film’s logic gaps even more head-scratching. And there are indeed some real head-scratchers. Choosing emotion and spectacle over logic can work, and it does in the last Trek outing and the first half of Star Trek Into Darkness, but this time around Abrams and his screenwriting team can’t gloss over all the leaps in logic and other narrative problems. What starts off as another thrilling Abrams movie ends up turning into a mess by the end. Here are some (spoiler-y) questions which arise out of that mess:

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commentary-startrek

The reboot of Star Trek in 2009 was a risky move for Paramount. However, it paid off, reinvigorating the franchise that had died with the poorly performing film Star Trek: Nemesis in 2002. J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek became one of the biggest hits of that summer and introduced a whole new generation to the classic franchise. Abrams was not a Star Trek fan before working on the film (and arguably even less of one after making the movie), but that didn’t stop him and his production team from making a solid science fiction update. Throughout the commentary with his writers and producers, recorded only a month after Star Trek came out in 2009, it’s clear that the Star Wars films had a greater impact on the production team’s childhood. Maybe the search for a Luke Skywalker in the character of James T. Kirk was what made the film work so well.

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FilmAid

It all kicks off at 9am Pacific. After raising $10,000 for FilmAid, David Chen and the /Filmcast family are making good on their offer to rock a 10-hour podcasting marathon, and since it’s done like a reverse-telethon, no one will be constantly promising you tote bags in return for your money. That leaves more time to talk with an excellent lineup of guests. The sad part? No tote bags. Rian Johnson is batting first, followed by the 10am segment with me and David Wain, followed by an 11am with Damon Lindelof. And then, 7 more hours of filmmaker guests and shenanigans. So bookmark this page and plan to camp out there all day today. If you need more incentive, here’s the full lineup:

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Tomorrowland UFOs

As the story goes, the United States government approached Walt Disney in the mid-1950s and asked him for help producing a television program that would explain to the population that UFOs were real. This project, this moment in time, and this unidentified flying secret might be the basis for Brad Bird‘s mysterious Tomorrowland movie. For years, Jim Hill has been a peerless source about news and insider information when it comes to The Mouse House, and now the writer has laid out a ton of signs that all point to a military initiative called Project Blue Book and the government’s reliance on Disney to share the story as the springboard for the plot. Of course, he also has exactly the same amount of proof that conspiracy theorists always have, but his expertise in all things Disney is unquestionable. It’s about as good (and thorough) a guess as we’re likely to see until Damon Lindelof and Bird see fit to shed some light on the synopsis. For a moment, let’s assume that it’s correct. It’s incredibly cool right? There’s a touch of Argo to it complete with a real-world twist that makes it even more interesting. The only question is why the government wouldn’t have gone to Dr. Seuss and Frank Capra for help. But seriously, comb through Hill’s post and revel in the surprising joy it could fulfill as a film. If this isn’t what Tomorrowland is going to be, Disney should thoughtfully consider using Project Blue Book for another movie.

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Tomorrowland

Oh, Disney, you little tricksters. As most people who are interested in Brad Bird‘s upcoming mystery project for the Mouse House have attempted to use its first title – 1952 – to build theories as to just what it’s about, the studio has just gone and blown all those theories to hell, as the film is now titled Tomorrowland. Boom, time to make some more theories! As of now, all know for sure is that the film is a live-action release, it is set to star George Clooney, and it will – oh, no, I keep forgetting this detail – come from a script by Bird and Damon Lindelof (from a concept by Lindelof and Jeff Jensen). So I guess now we know that it will be needlessly convoluted and ultimately unsatisfying? Okay then. At the very least, it’s fair to assume the film will be about the future in some way as, when speaking about the Tomorrowland section of his theme parks, Walt Disney commented that “Tomorrow can be a wonderful age. Our scientists today are opening the doors of the Space Age to achievements that will benefit our children and generations to come. The Tomorrowland attractions have been designed to give you an opportunity to participate in adventures that are a living blueprint of our future.” The film will open on December 19, 2014. [Press Release]

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mnad_burgundy

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the thing that tucks you in at night, ensures that not a creature is stirring and keeps an eye out for that chubby guy with the red suit. It’s on duty all year ’round though, so late nights get a little boring. Luckily there’s movie news to talk about. Anchor Date – Great news this week from the Channel 4 News Team. Ron Burgundy and his friends have set a date for their return. The long anticipated Anchorman 2 will hit theaters on December 20, 2013. Luckily, the world did not end today as planned. Suck it, Mayans. Now we get more of Ron, Brick, Champ, Brian Fantana and all the wonderful supporting characters that populate the Sex Panther-scented world of San Diego.

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Star Trek Into Darkness Poster

There has been plenty of speculation over whether Khan (Khan!!!!) will appear as Star Trek 2‘s villain. This trailer — which is packed with tons of footage for a teaser — almost feels like a confirmation that Khan is indeed the antagonist of Star Trek Into Darkness. While no character outright says his name, there is a specific shot and line which implies they Abrams and his team were heavily inspired by Wrath of Khan. Or, knowing Abrams, that’s just a game of misdirection Paramount is playing… Take a look at the domestic trailer for yourself and decide, courtesy of Apple:

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Whether you loved Prometheus or hated it with every fiber of your being, you can’t deny the fact that it was at least successful in continuing a cinematic conversation about it long after it debuted in theaters. After the film’s Blu-ray release in October, the original script was leaked online, sparking a slew of articles to be written about the differences between it and the final film. (For a look at FSR’s take on that, check out J.F. Sargent’s The 8 Worst Parts of Prometheus Made Sense In the Original Script.) This week, coinciding with the leaking of that script, we’re going straight to the horse’s mouths about the writing of Prometheus. As interesting as Ridley Scott is, let’s lend an ear to the writers of the film as they discuss the differences in the many drafts of the film. If you haven’t seen the film yet, be warned: there are many spoilers in the discussion below. And on to the commentary…

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Prometheus Engineer

Whether you loved it or hated it, there’s no denying the fact that Prometheus was pretty polarizing — most obviously because everyone reading this probably either loved it or hated it. Among those who hated it, the criticisms are generally focused on the script. Character motivations were unclear or nonexistent. People reached out to lovingly pet blatantly malicious monsters. DAVID, the most interesting character by far (largely due to Michael Fassbender’s amazing performance) is never explained, even though he incites the core conflict of the film. So naturally those who hated it (like me) are pretty upset with Damon Lindelof (Lost) for messing up what could easily have been a really great movie. Because as much as Prometheus sucked (for some people), it’s also pretty clear that the ghost of greatness is lingering just beneath the surface. So when we learned that Lindelof had done major revisions to the original script written by Jon Spaihts (The Darkest Hour, the unproduced Passengers), many assumed that the original script had been brilliant before Lindelof came along and Lost’d it all up. Because that’s a far more palatable reality. Turns out, we were right. The original script for Prometheus (then called Alien: Engineers) has been leaked, and it solves virtually all the problems with the original. Is it perfect? By no means — but at least it achieves a lot that the finished version doesn’t. Here are 8 terrible examples:

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All in all, this was a decent summer. There were plenty of highs and lows, with zero grand achievements for either sides of that scale. We could argue endlessly about what movies lived up to the hype or which ones totally blew it, but where’s the fun in having that conversation for the thousandth time over twitter? What we all should be discussing is the important stuff, like, how sad Damon Lindelof‘s Twitter feed could get this summer or how many ounces of man sweat we think Matthew McConaughey shed in Magic Mike? These are the real topics worthy of discussion, ’cause who cares why Vickers didn’t run a few feet to the right to easily save her life in Prometheus? Or how on earth Batman survived that nuclear blast when we clearly saw him in The Bat before the blast? These are details we all need to let go of. What you all really need to know is who came out as the winners and losers of this summer season, and I’m here to tell you who.

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