Diablo Cody

Adam Sandler in Men Women and Children

Jason Reitman is a hard filmmaker to pin down. He’s made six features, and when a director has made that many films, it’s usually not terribly difficult to find themes or ideas that tie a filmography together. Besides generally following smart but naive characters, you can’t really do that with Reitman’s pictures. The element that comes closest to defining Reitman’s body of work is his passion for self-reflective stories. After his past two divisive efforts, Labor Day and Men, Women & Children, it’s obvious his voice and interests go beyond one story or one specific idea. What’s missing from those films, for starters, is Reitman’s comedic wit. That’s not to say they don’t have his sense of humor, albeit in much smaller doses, but they wear a more serious face than his earlier work. Critics certainly aren’t used to this side of Reitman. “It feels like the snarkier I am, the more the critics like it,” Reitman tells me with a laugh. “I mean, you gotta make films in your own voice. When you start trying to please people, you’re never going to win.”

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meryl streep in a prairie home companion

With VOD numbers still kept a secret by most of Hollywood, it’s tough to tell if Diablo Cody‘s directorial debut, Paradise, was any kind of success when released last fall. But reviews were not good (our own Jack Giroux gave it a ‘C’), and no one was really talking about it, so let’s just assume it was at least a cultural failure if not also financial. Considering neither Young Adult nor Jennifer’s Body were hits, either, the Oscar-winning Juno screenwriter could use a shot of relevance. And that shot seems very likely to come with a report from The Wrap that none other than Meryl Streep is set to speak Cody’s dialogue in a new movie directed by Jonathan Demme titled Ricky and the Flash. Demme himself hasn’t been in the spotlight much in the past five years and could also use this intriguing project. He’s actually been making a bunch of films — primarily docs like Neil Young Journeys and I’m Caroline Parker (and many others even smaller) — but his last major feature was 2008’s Rachel Getting Married. He has worked with Streep in the past, on the arguably unnecessary Manchurian Candidate remake and, as producer, Spike Jonze’s Adaptation. Also, he’s proven himself to be something of a music film master, having directed one of the best concert docs of all time in Stop Making Sense and been involved with interesting soundtrack-significant efforts like That Thing You Do! (Rachel was a kind of musical, too), so he’s a good […]

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cc young adult

Jason Reitman‘s fifth feature film, Labor Day, hits theaters this Friday, but while I haven’t seen it yet the advance word has been a far cry from the critical acclaim his movies usually receive. To be fair, it’s also by all accounts a different beast from Reitman’s previous films as it concentrates more on the drama than on the acerbic, darkly comedic wit. It’s for this reason that I decided to go back a few years to Reitman’s last film, the blackly comic, emotionally tragic, and sadly under-seen Young Adult, for this week’s commentary listen. Well, that and the fact that one of the best films to play this year’s Sundance, Listen Up Philip, reminded me positively of it. Both movies are excellent entries in the canon of “asshole cinema” in that their lead characters are irredeemable pricks struggling to conceal their humanity and causing all manner of hilarity and emotional distress along the way. Charlize Theron plays a young adult novelist who returns home to her small town to reclaim her high school boyfriend (Patrick Wilson) in the hopes that it will knock her out of the doldrums of both her career and her life. Her efforts don’t quite go according to plan and instead she’s forced face to face with the reality of the person she’s become.

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cody

Going from screenwriting to directing isn’t an easy transition for most. Some writers have found great success behind the camera, while others have buckled under the pressure. It’s a different job with its own set of demands. With Paradise, Academy Award winner Diablo Cody takes her first crack at directing with the story of a young girl named Lamb (Julianne Hough), who visits Las Vegas after a serious plane crash leaves her with burn scars and a desire to explore places outside of her religious community. Whether we’ll see Cody direct again is a real question mark. Instead of proclaiming how amazing her experience was, Cody expressed to us her problems with the job and the way certain critics respond to her flawed female characters. Here’s what she had to say about those critics, writing women and, of course, her take on Gravity:

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Lust of the Dead

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

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una-hora-por-favora

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. This weekend saw the limited release of Afternoon Delight, for which filmmaker Jill Soloway won the Directing Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Of the feature, about a frustrated stay-at-home mom who takes in a young stripper/prostitute to be a live-in nanny, our own Kate Erbland wrote that lead actress “Kathryn Hahn is fantastic as ever” and that in spite of an uneven tone she “still frequently laughed and felt satisfied by its end.” Currently it’s only playing in New York and Los Angeles, but the film will go wider to most major cities on Friday (September 6th). Until then, you can get ready by watching Soloway’s first film, a short titled Una Hora Por Favora, which debuted at Sundance last year. The 13-minute comedy stars Michaela Watkins, who is apparently Soloway’s best friend and muse (who also appears in Afternoon Delight and stars in Soloway’s earlier Funny or Die sketch Tight) and was made for her as a kind of showcase. They shot it in three months with financing coming personally from the writer-director, who’s been in the business for a while as a writer and producer for such TV series as Six Feet Under and United States of Tara. The plot involves a lonely woman who picks up a day worker outside a hardware store to do “una hora” of plumbing work in her […]

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Paradise Movie

Diablo Cody isn’t for everyone. She has a voice of her own, and because of that, her films can be polarizing. Cody is a writer with plenty of strengths, and her last film, Young Adult, showed them off to their fullest. That’s her most honest, funny, and often brutal work to date. However, it left certain people cold, and her directorial debut, Paradise, may have that effect for a different (and more disappointing) reason. With her first bat behind camera Cody takes on a new kind of character: a Montana girl who is vanilla by most standards. Lamb (Julianne Hough) has been sheltered for all her life from what the real world has to offer, and while she was the popular Catholic girl that dedicated her life to God growing up she was left scarred by a plane crash. Her faith is shaken, and in response she attempts to live life to the fullest by committing a series of “sins” in Las Vegas. She wants to act like a “regular American,” indulging in characters traits Cody’s previous protagonists would’ve poked fun at.

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Paradise Movie

Diablo Cody already has an Oscar for screenwriting. Now she’s transitioning to directing with Paradise, and you’ve got to hand it to someone whose name means “Devil” for focusing on religion’s labor’s lost. In the movie, Julianne Hough plays a young believer who feels the bedrock of her faith falter after a horrific plane crash. Naturally, she heads to Las Vegas for a sinning spree with Russell Brand and Octavia Spencer as her guides, but as the trailer shows, she eases into it pretty slowly. Check it out for yourself:

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Evil Dead Trailer

If, like all grandmothers, yours is into gallons of blood spewing from someone’s mouth, forced tree seduction, banned books and mangled lesbian make-out scenes, she is going to absolutely rave about the new redband trailer for the Evil Dead remake. She may even knit a sweater with the Necronomicon on it. And if you were afraid they were going to dial back on the violence and gore, take heart. Then squeeze it, jab an exacto knife into it, and you’ll have the kind of red-raining imagery that the Fede Alvarez-directed, Diablo Cody-scripted flick. If you’re sitting in the front row, it’s time to put on the raincoat we’ve provided for you:

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Julianne Hough

According to Variety, Julianne Hough has just joined Time and a Half, a forthcoming flick scripted by Diablo Cody and directed by Ol Parker (Imagine Me & You). Hough is also playing the lead for Cody’s directorial debut about a plane crash that leads a young conservative woman to a crisis of faith. However, in the project she’s just joined, she’ll be playing a woman fresh out of college who runs into an old one night stand who is also her sister’s ex-boyfriend from high school. Theoretically that could also involve her being conservative and having a crisis of faith, so let’s not rule it out. It sounds like a fun project, although that will most likely depend on each fan’s appreciation or lack thereof when it comes to Cody’s style. Of course, this means another slab of meat on her plate – one that’s full with the aforementioned directorial work, the Evil Dead remake and probably a few more irons fresh in the fire.

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Over Under - Large

When writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman teamed up on the 2007 film, Juno, the responses were mixed. Some people liked it quite a bit, not just because it was clever and quippy, but also because it presented a realistic, affecting look at the inherent drama of teenage pregnancy. Other people thought that it was painfully self-conscious in its hipness and insufferably annoying in its quirk, so they raged against any praise that came its way. Their next team-up, Young Adult, was different though. Not only did this look at a washed-up YA author traveling back to her home town in order to break up her high school sweetheart’s marriage do well with Juno fans, it did quite well with those who couldn’t stand Cody’s writing up to that point, as well. Charlize Theron’s painfully honest protagonist and Patton Oswalt’s achingly tragic supporting character really hit home for most. On the other end of the spectrum, the 2005 film Lonesome Jim doesn’t get very many mentions in a very many circles. On a couple levels, that makes sense. It’s a micro-budget indie that doesn’t provide any spectacle and didn’t get much promotion, and it was only seen on a handful of screens during its theatrical release. On the other hand, there are several reasons why you’d think this movie would have gotten more play over time. It’s one of the few films directed by Steve Buscemi, who everybody seems to love, it’s got great lead performances by Casey Affleck […]

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When I first heard details about Diablo Cody’s upcoming inaugural foray into the directing world, Lamb of God, I was kind of on the fence with whether or not I was looking forward to seeing it. I hadn’t liked any of Cody’s work up to that point, but a cast that included names like Holly Hunter and Octavia Spencer didn’t sound so bad at all. Add in names like Julianne Hough, who surprised me by doing a good job in Footloose, and Russell Brand, who is always more enjoyable in movies than I give him credit for, and I was thinking that I might be ready to give Cody another chance to get on my good side. Things have changed since then. First off, the latest movie penned by Cody, Young Adult, came out and was generally well liked. I wasn’t as enamored with it as most seemed to be, but it did show me that there was some potential in Cody as a filmmaker, and I liked the way she handled Patton Oswalt’s character in that one quite a bit. And now a bomb has been dropped that completely changes the whole complexion of Cody’s career in my eyes. According to Deadline Pawnee, Nick Offerman has agreed to join the Lamb of God cast.

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Culture Warrior

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Young Adult, Shame, and The Descendants. 2011’s holiday movie season ended the year with a barrage of relatively conventional heroes. From Ethan Hunt saving the world from yet another MacGuffin to Sherlock Holmes solving an additional mystery to a cyberpunk and a journalist battling wealthy Swedish career-misogynist neo-Nazis, December was packed with varied iterations of good triumphing over its clearly delineated evil opposition. In contrast, the holiday season’s slate of smaller-scale filmmaking brought forth several protagonists who function in strict contrast to your conventional hero. These protagonists are (decidedly) so toxic, broken, unheroic, and even unlikeable that they can’t even be deemed antiheroes. These characters (to varying degrees of success) challenge the assumed connection that filmic convention makes between the “main character” and the “film itself” by presenting protagonists who don’t triumph over adversity, who don’t fight or win a “good” battle, and who frankly don’t warrant an act of rooting. These protagonists trip up an oft-unquestioned notion conditioned by cinematic tradition: that films should serve as a means of rooting for a clearly demarcated, pre-telegraphed, unassailable idea of goodness. These are three protagonists that we aren’t often asked to spend ninety minutes with.

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Boiling Point

Well here we are in the last week of December, coming up on another 365 days of anger at the entertainment industry. In 52 installments, I’ve been upset about a wide range of topics, criticized directors, defended 3D, argued with my peers and said the f-word a whole lot, much to the disappointment of my mother. As a way of saying so long to 2011 and hello to the End of the World as We Know It (aka 2012), I wanted to take a brief look back at the previous year and pull the heaviest themes from Boiling Point and take a look at the recipients of my rage. So take off your shoes, grab a warm cup of cocoa and let’s take this journey together, provided you’re nowhere near me. If by some strange miracle you are near me, put your shoes on, put down my coffee cup and get the fuck out of my house.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr goes rogue and infiltrates his local IMAX theater. First, he scales the wall of the plus-sized building and slides in undetected through the air vents. He slowly lowers himself into a theater seat to enjoy an early screening of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Unfortunately, he finds himself in the middle of a wild crowd of six-year-old kids for the early screening of the latest Alvin and the Chipmunks movie. To deal with the psychological damage, Kevin then stumbles into the Sherlock Holmes sequel and later finds an extra seat in Young Adult, where he can imagine that his chubby caboose could land a hottie like Charlize Theron.

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Diablo Cody’s upcoming inaugural effort as a director has yet to get a title, but it now has an Oscar winner in its cast. The Julianne Hough-starring film about a religious young woman who loses her faith after surviving a plane crash has just picked up Holly Hunter. Hunter will play Hough’s character’s super-strict, super-religious mother, who I imagine will be none too happy that her now-faithless daughter decides to go out to Las Vegas to get a taste of the naughty side of life. I’m not a fan of Juno and I’m not a fan of dancers turned actors, so if you would have told me about this project a couple months ago, I would have probably dismissed it completely. But after seeing Hough in the Footloose remake and not being horrified by her acting abilities at all and after hearing all of the positive buzz about this week’s Cody-penned release Young Adult, I’m definitely willing to give this one a try. When you add in a top-tier actress like Holly Hunter and solid additions to the supporting cast like Russell Brand, who always pleasantly surprises me, and Octavia Spencer, who impressed in The Help, it’s starting to sound to me like Cody’s first effort is coming along rather nicely in its pre-production stages. I guess my final decision on whether I’ll see this one or not will come down to how quippy and clever the title ends up being. I demand puns and wordplay! [Deadline Lemont]

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For the past few weeks, director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody have quietly been bringing special “pop up screenings” of their new collaboration, Young Adult, to small arthouse theaters across the country (and Canada!). Invites were scarce, but those who were quick enough (and savvy enough) to get into one of six screenings was treated to a first look at the film, a special Q&A with its makers and stars, and a unique poster to take home with them. I was lucky enough to get into this week’s Los Angeles pop up screening at the New Beverly, during which Reitman trotted out Cody, Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, and Elizabeth Reaser for a pre-screening introduction and a post-screening Q&A. While it’s been widely speculated as to why Reitman didn’t take Young Adult on a more traditional festival jaunt (which he’s previously done for his biggest hits), the director himself explained it simply, he wanted to take the film on its very own festival route, picking cities and venues that fit the film. To add to that festival atmosphere, each pop up screening got its own specially crafted poster, made by a local artist and distributed to the audience at each screening. Young Adult is a departure for Reitman and Cody, shunting aside the sunniness of their previous collaboration Juno for a much darker (and deeper) tale of female maturity gone totally wrong. After the break, check out all six posters for each of the pop up screenings, each taking a different […]

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In a post-Juno world, director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody have re-teamed for a much darker spin on inappropriate maturity levels and their inevitable consequences. Whereas their hamburger phone-chatting, bon mot-spouting teen Juno was almost too mature for her own good, their latest heroine is undoubtedly too immature to even be considered a real adult. In Young Adult, Charlize Theron plays Mavis Gary, a YA author who has much more in common emotionally and intellectually with her characters than she does with anyone her actual age. Mavis heads back to her small hometown, still gorgeous as ever, but with a real chip on her shoulder (to put it mildly). Mavis wants her high school sweetheart back (Patrick Wilson), and she doesn’t care if he’s married, and she doesn’t care if she’s a real bitch to everyone else, and she just…well, she just doesn’t care. Check out the first trailer for Young Adult after the break, with bonus Patton Oswalt as one of Mavis’ former classmates who is also a bit stuck in the past.

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J.K. Simmons is a worker, or as he calls it, a “journeyman actor.” The J.K. Simmonses of the world feature epic sized filmographies, even for an individual year. In 2009 alone, the actor appeared in 10 movies. Most were small parts, but 10 movies? He’s a busy man. One would think with that type of work ethic, Simmons would be an actor that cared more about the checks than the quality of the work. From speaking with the character actor, that didn’t seem to be the case. Simmons has, finally, got a starring role film under his belt — recently, anyway — that we can see. The Music Never Stopped (out now on DVD) is one of those small, non-cynical, heart-string yanking dramas. It’s a father/son story, so if you’re sucker for daddy issue movies, this one’s for you, kid. Here’s what actor J.K. Simmons had to say about appearing in nearly everything, being Jason Reitman‘s good luck charm, and naturally working off of Diablo Cody-isms:

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It used to be that shilling your film at a festival meant you were some scrappy up-and-comer who needed a break (or, at the very least, a hot shower). But as festivals have gotten bigger and more dazzling (any event that serves free Stella Artois is dazzling by its very nature), bigger name filmmakers have used them as launching pads for new projects. Jason Reitman is a prime example of this – he premiered both Juno and Up in the Air at the Telluride Film Festival and took them on to Toronto to pump up buzz so that cinephiles everywhere were primed when they finally hit theaters. Did it work? Heck yes it did. So it seemed a bit of a no-brainer that Reitman would bring his next collaboration with Juno scribe Diablo Cody to Telluride and then TIFF. Apparently, not so. Young Adult won’t make an appearance on the festival route this year, and though there’s nothing I love more than needless negative speculation and crying that a festival non-appearance or a release date change means that a film is a flaming brown bag of excrement, that may not be the case with Young Adult. As those eggheads over at The Playlist note, the film “is decidedly darker and much different than what we’ve seen from Reitman before.” The film stars Charlize Theron as a novelist who writes young adult fiction, who heads back to her small town to hook her high school sweetheart, played by Patrick Wilson. It’s […]

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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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