Elisabeth MOss

Tribeca Film

After two critically adored novels, success has hardened Philip’s heart and calcified any remaining slivers of decency that may have once existed. As a result, “notability” has turned him into an insufferable, self-involved and repulsive egotist, interested only in his writing and the potential acclaim that may follow. At first glance it doesn’t appear that Philip (Jason Schwartzman) is fraught with internal pain, but it is there. Underneath the narcissistic veneer is a man who neither understands himself nor the world he lives in, thus making it impossible for Philip to emotionally connect with anyone or anything. This recent bout of despondency propels him out of the sonically assaultive milieu that is New York City and into an idyllic country home, away from his photographer girlfriend Ashley (Elisabeth Moss), where he can begin working on his next novel. This is the concise, swiftly constructed setup of Listen Up Philip, the acidic, sardonic and transcendent third film from emerging writer/director Alex Ross Perry.

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Listen Up Philip

“I’m told to expect big things out there.” Imagine what it would look like — what he would look like — if Rushmore‘s Max Fischer grew up without adhering to any of the lessons he learned in Wes Anderson‘s high school-set charmer. All that youthful striving, the gung-ho attitude, the self-involvement, well, that’s just not a good look for a grown-up, which is kind of the point of Alex Ross Perry‘s Jason Schwartzman-starring Listen Up Philip, an indie outing that looks to be taking Schwartzman’s Fischer in a terrible — and hilarious — new direction. In the feature, Schwartzman plays the eponymous Philip (who, yes, definitely looks like he needs to “listen up” to just about everyone else in his life), a self-obsessed novelist on the cusp of delivering his second book. That may sound promising, but things are not going so well for Philip, and his bad attitude and latent anger issues aren’t helping matters. See? He’s an adult-sized monster Max Fischer. Get to know Philip after the break, thanks to the first Listen Up Philip trailer.

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justin-lin-and-michelle-rodriguez-in-furios-si-iute-6-2013--large-picture

We’ve known for a while that True Detective isn’t doing the one-director-per-season thing, because that takes eons longer to film than an average TV show and HBO would very much prefer to run new episodes on a consistent schedule, not whenever a bunch of “time is a flat circle” mystics will it into existence, man. What we haven’t known is which directors will be stepping in to fill the Cary Fukunaga-sized hole left in the series. Until now. Potentially. The Hollywood Reporter names Justin Lin as the first director to be officially courted by HBO. The publication, sporting a stringy ponytail and jamming a penknife into a Lone Star beer can, says he is in talks to direct two episodes of the eight that are coming next season. Probably the first two, but it’s hard to tell amongst the crinkle of metal on metal and THR’s lengthy discussion of how life is memory that’s been locked away and left to rot, and all that remains is something something nihilism, alright alright alright.

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They say bartenders make great therapists, but does that still apply long after the bar has been sold and the bartender has moved on? Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) would probably say no after their couples therapist (Ted Danson) sends them on a very strange weekend retreat. The married couple arrives at the prescribed destination to find that the grounds — including a main house, guest house and numerous gardens — are theirs and theirs alone for the weekend. Well, kind of. It seems that part of the good doctor’s plan to help the couple work towards becoming better versions of themselves, and in the process become a better couple, involves a very unique way of facing and experiencing those better selves. The One I Love is about some very universal feelings and themes — ones we’ve all experienced in real life and seen portrayed onscreen — but it presents them in refreshingly original, engaging and entertaining ways. I’m being vague here for those that want to go in fresh, but fair warning, I’ll be revealing a little bit more after the jump. (Still nothing that legitimately counts as a spoiler though.)

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The One I Love trailer

The One I Love premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and it did so to quite a bit of acclaim. Critics saw it as an intelligent and neatly wound little romance — one that happened to be built around a swirling black hole of weirdness. You see, The One I Love has a twist (over at Film.com, our own Kate Erbland wrote that “the film is brisk, funny, smart, and artful, a strong pairing of high concept and relatable storylines”). And the film’s trailer, which dropped today, is more than happy to tell you all about it. “Oh, such a twist it is,” the trailer croons, twirling whatever the movie trailer equivalent is of an elaborate mustache. “You’ve never seen anything like it. It’s revolutionary, I dare say.” Meanwhile, the characters all refer to it in nearly every string of dialogue, while the blurbs praise its Charlie Kaufman-esque ingenuity. The trailer is seriously set on this twist. It just won’t tell us what it is.

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Mad Men Season 7 Waterloo

Cooking a hamburger is difficult work. Patties must be placed on a griddle; they must be flipped; they must be taken off the griddle at a time neither before nor after they have reached the ideal temperature (I’m sure I’m glossing over several key steps, thus illustrating the extremely difficult process we’re working with here). Burger King knew burgermastery is something attained only by a precious few. This is why, in the 1950s, they commissioned the creation of a Flame Broiler, a giant machine that transports disks of meat across conveyor belts through jets of fire, thus ensuring every patty emerges cooked to perfection. No longer would fast food chains require multiple tenured professors of burgerology on payroll. Burgers were finally for the people. The brothers who actually built the first Flame Broiler, Frank and Donald Thomas, realized the innate potential of a great greasy contraption that could perform all the same labor as a high school junior, but with none of the backsass. So they packed up their machines and they started their own fast food joint: Burger Chef. The first franchise opened in 1954, and in the next ten years, Burger Chefs sprouted up all over the country. By 1968, Burger Chef was a big deal —  big enough that the whole company was bought out by the General Foods Corporation. But not even the corporate world could contain the massive growth spurts of Burger Chef and his boy sidekick Jeff, because General Foods buckled under their titanic, […]

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Mad Men The Strategy

There once was a time when Paul Anka, sitting somewhere among the streets and cafes of gay Paris, heard a song. A song that would change his life. A song that, according to Anka, was really shitty. “I thought it was a shitty record, but there was something in it,” Anka told The Telegraph in 2007. Harsh, yes, especially if you’re Claude Francois, whose 1967 hit “Comme d’habitude” is the toilet-quality (honestly, it’s not that bad) piece of music in question. But there was something lurking within “Comme d’habitude,” and Anka would eventually scrape that something out of its French pop shell. Years later, Anka would be hanging out with Frank Sinatra, doing those usual Frank Sinatra-adjacent things — dinner, drinks, casual association with members of La Cosa Nostra — when the Chairman of the Board dropped a truth bomb on Anka and the various mobsters present. He was out; he was done; the music biz was a fickle mistress and Frankie wasn’t playin’ her games no more. Anka was stunned, but he knew what to do. The only way to respect Sinatra’s decision to quit the music industry was to write him the biggest hit of his musical career. So Anka found his old copy of “Comme d’habitude,” which, conveniently, he had purchased the rights to after hearing it in France so long ago. And he picked it apart and he put it back together and he wrote a whole new set of lyrics that were much more in […]

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Mad Men Season 7 Runaways

The menage-a-trois has a long and storied history. I’m assuming that’s the case, anyway, because few historians have bothered to write down when and where people first started doing R-rated things to each other in threes rather than twos. There are surprisingly few cave paintings on the matter. But we do know that by the fifth century, the idea of three people romantically entangled was not entirely unheard of, to the point where three-way situations were a small but recognizable part of pop culture (on the ancient Greek equivalent of the E! network). And by the 1700s, three-way sex was all the rage with upper crust Europeans in powdered wigs (wig powder, naturally, is a potent aphrodisiac). Famed Italian loverboy Giacomo Casanova first lost his virginity in such an arrangement. Various dukes (William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire) and Counts (Adolf Frederik Munck) are also famous for committing this salacious act. And 19th century art, be it European, Asian or Arabic, is also riddled with the same thing (film would barely catch up with the menage-a-trois until the ’90s, with the 1994 Steven Baldwin classic, Threesome). This was something done behind closed doors, by a privileged few who only occasionally had their three-way sex committed to timeless and very public pieces of artwork. It wasn’t until the sexual revolution of the 1960s that the common man (someone like you or I) would think of such a thing. And I guess Don Draper can be lumped in with you or I, because […]

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Mad Men Season 7 Monolith

Prior to 1935, if you wanted to drink something, you had your choice of bottle or cup. But post-1935, consumers had a third option: the canned beverage. Carbonated drinks like beer and soda were poured into tin cans, sealed to preserve freshness, and shipped to stores across the country, providing relief for consumers sick of the bottle industry’s monopoly on drinks you buy from a store. Except that most people were fine with the bottle monopoly, because early canned drinks tasted a lot like tin — an unpleasant side-effect of, you know, being stored for so long in tin cans. There was also much confusion in how to open a can of, say, Coca-Cola. Some models required bottle openers, while others had screw-on lids. Confusion ran rampant among the masses, and for a few decades canned drinks were not the popular item they are today. Then, in 1959, a man named Ermal Fraze invented the pop top, a handy metal tab yanked from the top of a can, leaving a convenient mouth-sized opening. Canned imbibement finally took the world by force, blanketing the world with discarded shards of razor-sharp aluminum, but also providing a level of thirst-quenching not possible from a bottle. And Coke, which had existed in cans since 1955, began revamping the look of the Coke can every couple of years, to keep this new trend feeling fresh. It’s the 1966 redesign that becomes a vessel for vodka (and trouble) in last night’s Mad Men, entitled “The Monolith.” […]

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Mad Men Season 7 A Day

“Elenore,” the 1968 single from The Turtles, does not have a particularly hard edge to it. Because The Turtles were not known for their hard-edged rock. They were known for “Happy Together,” which you’ve all certainly heard because it’s been in roughly eight billion movies, TV shows, commercials and classic rock radio stations. But The Turtles were tired of their bubble-gum pop reputation and their hit single about blue skies and holdin’ your girl real tight. They wanted to branch out and stretch their stylistic limits, much like other bands of the time (bands that rhymed with “The Cheatles”), but their label, White Whale Records, said no. What The Turtles needed was another “Happy Together.” So The Turtles wrote another “Happy Together,” a song so sappy and upbeat it could not possibly be taken seriously, a song with lyrics like, “I really think you’re groovy, let’s go out to a movie.” Surely, the world would know that this was a snipe at their previous, sugar-drenched pop. But they didn’t. The song went all Springtime for Hitler and became a huge hit, with White Whale and general audiences not really noticing that it was supposed to be stupid. When we hear “Elenore” in last night’s Mad Men (entitled “A Day’s Work“) it has a dual meaning. The song is sugary, but with a hollow center —  just like Don and Sally Draper’s state of affairs as it hums from the car stereo on the way back to boarding school. Don thinks […]

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Mad Men Season 7 Time Zones

Accutron: It’s not a time piece. It’s a conversation piece. The first Accutron hit the markets long before Freddy Rumsen was pitching it in such surprisingly elegant language. Actually, it had been selling for about ten years, debuting in October of 1960 (just around the time Mad Men‘s first season was drawing to a close). Watches of the time, and for several centuries previously, were built around a “balance wheel,” a little pendulum that shifts back and forth and keeps the watch’s hands moving. Watchmaking company Bulova did away with the balance wheel for their Accutron watch, inserting a fancy electric tuning fork and cementing Accutron as the first electronic watch in history. Those tiny metal forks also made the Accutron the most accurate wristwatch ever made, and a “horological revolution” (thanks, Wikipedia!). At least until 1969, when Astron debuted the quartz-powered Astron and Joel Murray, as Rumsen, sat down to do his best Don Draper impression in the offices of Sterling Cooper & Partners (technically, this episode was set in January of ’69 and the Astron didn’t come out until December, but who’s to say Bulova didn’t have a little insider knowledge about the competition?). But at the time of Rumsen’s pitch, the Accutron was the cutting edge, and hearing such a sharp pitch about such a sharp watch sounds so very peculiar from a character best known for peeing his pants and collapsing into a sad, drunken heap. Scott Hornbacher, the director of last night’s episode, knows this. […]

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Emma Thompson 2014 Golden Globes

Another Golden Globes is behind us, and what have we learned? The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is full of surprises. Do they really think Jon Voight is great in Ray Donovan, or will they simply always love him for making Angelina Jolie? Speaking of whom, she and husband Brad Pitt were very much missed this year, even with Pitt getting the last shoutout of the night in appreciation for all he did for getting 12 Years a Slave produced — didn’t the show basically end like the awards ceremony equivalent of that controversial Italian poster for the movie? I may have done really embarrassingly awful with my predictions this year — 11 out of 15 total, 6 out of 14 for movies and 5 out 11 for television — so we’ll see if I’m allowed to do that again next year. Hopefully my live-tweeting was more successful. Give me some feedback, positive or scathing. And also see if you agree with my picks for the best parts of this year’s ceremony and telecast below.

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Mad Men 6

While the sixth season of Mad Men wrapped up with a big, messy, chocolate-colored bow last Sunday, speculation about what we can expect from the final season of the best television series (on air now, and perhaps ever) has really only just begun. Though it’s become standard practice for Mad Men fans to theorize about creator Matthew Weiner fitting dramatic events on his show around actual historical events from the corresponding time periods (of note, the sixth season finale took place in November of 1968), that’s rarely panned out in a big way. Sure, this season included plenty of fallout from events like the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, more than enough discussions about the election of President Nixon, and even a bevy of references to cultural hot buttons like Rosemary’s Baby and Planet of the Apes, but it never placed its characters exactly inside them. Sure, Peggy’s boyfriend Abe zipped off to do some news photography post-MLK assassination and everyone sure was sad about America’s inability to hold on to good leaders, but none of our characters were ever really there. And, despite some truly brilliant theorizing, Megan Draper (Jessica Pare) didn’t end up “being” Sharon Tate in any way, shape, or form. Basically, Mad Men watchers love to create large-scale scenarios that involve their favorite (and, more often, their least favorite) characters within the actual confines of history, while Weiner and company continue to dance around (and even firmly reject) such scenarios. Will the […]

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Captain America 2

We begin this evening’s Movie News After Dark shenanigans with Captain America stepping into the world of S.H.I.E.L.D for his tour in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It continues with plenty of movie chat, including great baseball flicks, Scary Movie 2, walking out of the theater and Vin Diesel driving a radio-controlled car. Or as we call it around here, just another Tuesday night.

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Top of the Lake

The news that Jane Campion was debuting a new project at last month’s Sundance Film Festival was met with general excitement – until we all realized that the project was not a feature film, but a television miniseries that runs seven hours that would only be showed but once during the festival. Even if you’ve never been to a film festival, you can probably imagine how impossible it is to schedule a seven-hour chunk on any day, let alone just one set day. Fortunately, Campion’s Top of the Lake is a television series after all, and one that will be showing on the Sundance Channel next month. The series features Elisabeth Moss as a detective tasked with returning to her close-knit (and more than a little dysfunctional) hometown, an isolated hamlet apparently filled with guns and drugs and people operating on a real hair-trigger. Moss’ Robin Griffin’s case is that of a missing girl – a twelve-year-old who also happens to be five months pregnant and who has disappeared after walking into a frozen lake. Campion’s trademark style and beauty are already on display in the series’ trailer, so just imagine how wonderful that will feel in one, big seven-hour dose. Watch the stunning trailer after the break.

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If you’ve ever spent any extended time in a coffee shop or a freshman dorm, chances are you’ve seen a good number of young people with open hearts and confused eyes dutifully thumbing through the pages of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” It’s one of those books you just have to get into when you’re coming of age, like “The Catcher in the Rye,” or, if you’re a sociopath, Ayn Rand’s stuff. Given the book’s enduring popularity, it’s strange that it’s taken so long for Hollywood to make a big screen adaptation, but, nevertheless, the wait is over, and the first trailer for the film is here. How does it look? Well, it looks like director Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries) and his camera crew have shot a beautiful film. And seeing as the narration put over this trailer quotes one of the most famous passages from Kerouac’s novel, it looks like he’s made a film that’s very much On the Road. This seems to be a straight adaptation; the essence of the book put up on the screen, without any unexpected detours.

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Editor’s note: With Darling Companion opening this week in limited release, we thought we’d unleash Dustin’s review from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, originally posted on January 30, for you to take a bite out of. Woof. The opening night film at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival has always been a walk-away; generally an under-cooked indie with no distribution and little shot at getting into general theaters. So why kick a film when it’s down? There’s not a lot of value in heaping negative criticism on a new filmmaker who will likely go on to bigger and better things with more experience. That said, the 27th year of Santa Barbara’s festival brought a heavyweight opening night player in writer/director/producer Lawrence Kasdan, and his Sony Pictures Classics distributed Darling Companion. Basically, fair game. Darling Companion is the story of Beth Winters (Diane Keaton), her spine surgeon husband Joseph (Kevin Kline), and the dog that  brings them together. Or at least, it tries to be about them while clumsily pulling viewers into unnecessary side stories that aren’t particularly interesting. The film suffers on every level, but prominent among its faults is an odd pace that steals away any reason to invest in any of the characters, the spotty narrative, or the wholly expected and unsatisfying ending.

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Drinking Games

Aside from seeing Kristen Bell in a bikini and Mila Kunis’s breasts in an arguably fake snapshot, we can all agree that Russell Brand was the best thing about Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Now you can see more of him in the Blu-ray and DVD release of Get Him to the Greek. And while you may not have Jonah Hill to keep you in line, you can have fun to rival an evening with Aldous Snow by enjoying this drinking game while watching the film.

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kevin-reportcard-header

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr grades four new films: Get Him to the Greek, Splice, Marmaduke and Killers.

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kevin-reportcard-header

Kevin Carr sits his chubbiness down and sees if Avatar, Did You Hear About the Morgans? and Up In the Air can make the grade.

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published: 12.23.2014
B+
published: 12.22.2014
C-
published: 12.19.2014
A-


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