Jack Black

High Fidelity Movie

Some movies, no matter how old they are, never age a day. Their situations and themes remain as relevant now as when they were first released. Watching them today, they reflect and comment on our present in ways they couldn’t possibly have anticipated. Every month we’re going to pick a movie from the past that does just that, and explore what it has to say about the here and now. There are creaky moments in High Fidelity. Any time you hear Rob (John Cusack) talk about making a mix tape, the movie groans with its pre-iPod era technology. And yet many of High Fidelity’s cultural sensibilities have become anything but antiquated. From a vinyl resurgence to pop culture snobbery, much of the movie has only ripened with relevance since it was released 14 years ago.

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Cabin in the Woods Monsters

There’s two things about the Goosebumps movie plot synopsis that make it exciting. It feels like the return of Joe Dante-esque adolescent horror that’s terrifying for the whole family. It’s just wacky enough to work. According to io9, the Rob Letterman-directed film will look a little something like this: “In Goosebumps, upset about moving from a big city to a small town, teenager Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) finds a silver lining when he meets the beautiful girl, Hannah (Odeya Rush), living right next door. But every silver lining has a cloud, and Zach’s comes when he learns that Hannah has a mysterious dad who is revealed to be R. L. Stine (Jack Black), the author of the bestselling Goosebumps series. It turns out that there is a reason why Stine is so strange… he is a prisoner of his own imagination – the monsters that his books made famous are real, and Stine protects his readers by keeping them locked up in their books. When Zach unintentionally unleashes the monsters from their manuscripts and they begin to terrorize the town, it’s suddenly up to Stine, Zach, and Hannah to get all of them back in the books where they belong.” It’s Jumanji meets the monster cubes of Cabin in the Woods. Speaking of which, the meta element that’s been increasingly popular is present and accounted for — the Goosebumps movie isn’t based on the books so much as its about the books and their power. That also means that fans with a favorite book or baddie will […]

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Goosebumps

There are plenty of scary movies left over from our youth that left us shaking in our moon boots, but the pinnacle of nineties horror will forever be Goosebumps. The book series turned television and home movie franchise from author R.L. Stine was the perfect combination of Nickelodeon-flavored cheese and enough scares and frights to necessitate at least a bathroom night light every once in awhile. A ventriloquist dummy that comes to life only when you’re looking? Don’t even pretend like you’re not creeped out by that. The vengeful spirit of a long-dead summer camper who drags kids to their death while they’re trying to ace their swimming test in the murky waters of the lake? Please. The one thing the franchise has been missing is a full-length feature film, but that’s about to change — a new Goosebumps-centric film has been announced with Jack Black in the lead. Black will star as a very R.L. Stine-like spooky story author named…wait for it…Mr. Shivers. (Is this part of his new renaissance?) As the best-named creepy-crawly tale author in the world, Shivers is faced with a dilemma; his collection of characters comes to life and begins haunting him in the real world. Forced into hiding like the big scaredy cat that he is, Shivers has to rely on help from the least expected protector.

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It’s been a long time since we’ve heard or seen anything from Jack Black. Considering that he’s famous mostly for scat singing (loudly scat singing, I might add) and exposing his very ample stomach, that’s no small feat. But ever since the twin flops of Year One and Gulliver‘s Travels — flops that occurred four and five years ago, respectively — there hasn’t been much mainstream Black for public consumption. That might change, however, with The D-Train. The Hollywood Reporter has Black set to star in the upcoming comedy, where he would play a lonely doofus still longing for the acceptance of his high school peers  who also happens to be the chairman of his twenty-year high school reunion. The film will find Black’s character traveling from Middle America to Hollywood to convince the most popular kid in school, who’s now a washed-up commercial actor, to come home for the big celebration. James Marsden is attached to play the former cool kid, while Mike White will play Black’s one friend from his high school days. Nat Faxon is also joining the film in an unknown role. The premise, on its own, doesn’t sound too remarkable. Add in first-time directors Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel, whose previous credits include the screenplay for Jim Carrey’s Yes Man and the short-lived animated series Allen Gregory, and things begin to look a little dire for The D-Train.

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jack_black_17651

It’s hard to image that it’s already been a decade since Jack Black stormed into our hearts and that classroom in Richard Linklater’s School of Rock as Dewey Finn, a wannabe rock star who steals a substitute teaching gig meant for his roommate when he gets booted from his band and threatened with eviction in the same day. And though he may not have known a single damn thing about teaching “the boring subjects,” he certainly knew a thing or two about the important things in life: rock music and sticking it to anyone who thinks they’re better than you. Though ten years have passed, and those children are all about 20 years old now, the best songs and moments from the film still hold up as strong as ever. For those about to rock, we salute you.

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Airborne 2

If you search IMDb’s incredibly handy “plot keywords” for the phrase “rollerblading,” only twenty-eight titles pop up, and most of them aren’t even truly concerned with rollerblading as an actual plot element. The number one rated entry is “Skitchin,’” which is actually a video game from 1994. The number two rated entry? The UK’s uproariously funny series “Absolutely Fabulous,” which has absolutely nothing to do with rollerblading. You’ll have to scroll all the way down to the exact middle of the list – entry number 14 – to find Rob Bowman’s Airborne (above 2002’s Rollerball, below an Erik von Detten-starring Disney movie called Brink! about a pack of teens who call themselves “Soul-Skaters” because “Hammy Sad People Skating Together Because You Don’t Get Me, Mom” wasn’t punchy enough), which is an immense cinematic tragedy, simply because Airborne is the best film about rollerblading ever made. It also turns twenty today.

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Prince_Avalanche_EmileHirsch_and_Paul_Rudd

Editor’s note: Rob’s review of Prince Avalanche originally ran during this year’s Sundance Film Festival, but we’re re-posting it now as the film opens in limited theatrical release this weekend. There are two David Gordon Greens. But this is news to no one, so I won’t bother breaking down the differences between the Green who directed the bleak, dramatic and emotionally oppressive Snow Angels and the one who made The Sitter, but let’s all just acknowledge the massive rift in quality, character and narrative and move forward from there. His first move away from serious dramas, Pineapple Express, was surprisingly funny and exciting, and Your Highness was a highly inconsistent mix of chuckles and misfires, but by the time The Sitter hit theaters in 2011, even his most ardent and highest supporters were silently slinking away. Hopefully they booked a return trip, though, as Green’s latest film, Prince Avalanche, is one of his best and manages a fantastic blend of big laughs and affecting characters with an honest look at an unlikely friendship between two very different men.

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cordrry hot tub

Two more actors have been announced for Jake Kasdan’s upcoming comedy Sex Tape, and with them come an unholy onslaught of cheap puns. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Rob Corddry is in talks to join the cast, while The Wrap reports that Jack Black will be appearing in a cameo role. The film is, to the surprise of absolutely no one, about a sex tape. Specifically, it’s about a couple (Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz) who attempt to spice up their love life by filming one. Naturally, the tape goes missing, and so begins a frantic search to find it before it could fall into potentially embarrassing (or worse) hands. Corddry will play a friend of the couple’s who joins them on their quest, while Jack Black will play “the CEO of a major porn company.” The story doesn’t give us a whole lot to go on, but thankfully the cast does. Segel and Diaz with Kasdan directing — it’s the exact same lineup as Bad Teacher from two years ago. If you adored that, than chances are you’ll probably love Sex Tape. And if not, at least you’ll know exactly what you’re in for. The title states it pretty plainly. Sex Tape is expected to start production this fall.

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black:farrell

What is Casting Couch? A handy way to keep up with what all of your favorite actors are going to be up to in the coming months and years. Does that make you a stalker? Today we’ve got word on who’s the latest name to join George Clooney in Brad Bird’s mysterious Tomorrowland. Few things in the world are funnier than Jack Black kicking Will Ferrell’s dog off of a bridge, that much is certain. But take the hilarious animal cruelty out of the equation and would these two A-list comedians still be able to produce laughs together? We’re about to find out, because THR is reporting that New Line is putting together a comedy called Tag, which has them attached as co-stars. The basic story of the film comes from a “Wall Street Journal” article about ten classmates from a Washington prep school, now all in their 40s, who get together one month out of the year to play an elaborate game of tag. This conceit, of course, is just the sort of manchild nonsense that these two should be able to knock out of the park, as long as they get a script everyone likes and the thing actually comes together.

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Richard Linklater and Jack Black

The first time director Richard Linklater used Jack Black as the star of one of his films, the result was the much-loved School of Rock. The second time the duo collaborated, it was on last year’s quirky Bernie, a film that didn’t have the mainstream appeal of School of Rock, but that earned Black quite a bit of critical acclaim for his showing off more range than audiences were used to seeing from him. Not ones to let a good thing end prematurely, Linklater and Black are reportedly planning on working together on a third film, a biopic about a real life professional bowler. At a recent awards season event for Bernie, Black let news of the new film slip when he told the L.A. Times that their new project would be, “about a guy who gives up everything to be a professional bowler.” While Black refused to confirm who exactly this bowler who gave everything away is, The Times has theorized that he’s probably talking about PBA Champion Pete Weber, a figure who – for the bowling world at least – is considered to be pretty controversial.

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Charlie Kaufman

In an interview with Moviefone, Elizabeth Banks had some sad news to deliver: Charlie Kaufman’s Frank or Francis “fell apart at the last minute.” Banks was set to co-star along with Catherine Keener, Nic Cage, Jack Black, Steve Carell and Kevin Kline. The film was to be an exploration of filmmaking, Hollywood culture, criticism, and probably a dozen other things but more importantly…it was new, original work from Charlie Kaufman. The Playlist has learned that the movie is simply postponed, but it’s time to start drinking nonetheless. Why? Because there’s no such thing as “dead” in filmmaking; only “postponed.” Of course, that comes with the optimism that Kaufman can make it happen one day. Hopefully soon.

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Writer/director Richard Linkater is a filmmaker who can never be accused of making one thing. Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise, School of Rock, Tape, The Newton Boys, A Scanner Darkly, Waking Life, and his latest film Bernie, about the nicest murderer you’ll ever meet, all make for an eclectic filmography. If there’s one noticeable connection in Linklater’s works, it that he’s always mixed comedy and tragedy. As the director puts it, that’s just how he sees the world, and he generally shows that view in different structures. Unlike, say, A Scanner Darkly, Bernie is a plain and simple story, with zero tangents to speak of. Although Linklater isn’t a fan of the normal three-act structure, a fact you can see in his films, Bernie mostly fits into that box. This, along with his writing process and where he draws inspiration from, is one of the few things I discussed with Mr. Linklater in an all-too-brief conversation.

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? It’s Tenacious D. Doing what they do best. And probably beating a world hugging record while parodying training montage songs. What will it cost? Only 6 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films.

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Bernie is director Richard Linklater‘s most accessible film in years. It falls somewhere in the middle between his commercial features and his more experimental works as a splendid mix of both sensibilities. Bernie is hilarious, clever, sweet, thought-provoking, and a fine example of the most interesting type of comedy. Set in Carthage, East Texas, the true-life story follows Bernhardt “Bernie” Tiede (Jack Black), a happy-go-lucky member of the community. He’s about as well-liked as they come and the type of guy who would never hurt a fly. Bernie, a local mortician, is also a mystery. The only people he has any known relationships with are the old widows he comforts. Are his intentions sexual? The film doesn’t say. When the most disliked member of his community, Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine), loses her husband, Bernie tries to prove she isn’t the horrid person everyone makes her out to be.

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Richard Linklater‘s latest film, Bernie, features Jack Black as a mustachioed mortician who all the townsfolk admire. His character is a people person, which is probably why he tries to make nice with the snarly widow played by Shirley MacLaine. A romance blossoms, but there’s still plenty of dirt in the woman’s heart, and from the looks of the new trailer, she doesn’t get to see the end credits. And apparently Matthew McConaughey plays a lawyer convinced dear old Bernie is a killer. Jack Black ratcheting it down a notch? Maybe without even scatting? MacLaine essentially reprising her Guarding Tess role? McConaughey with a shirt on? Looks great:

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A few days ago I reported on a story that two former female leads from Charlie Kaufman movies would both be working with the writer again, this time on his next directorial effort Frank or Francis. It turns out that was only half right. While Catherine Keener does appear to be attached to the film, buried in a report about Paul Reubens joining the cast is confirmation from THR that Kate Winslet has not. That’s a pretty big blow to my enthusiasm for the added girl power that this movie would have gotten by casting both Keener and Winslet, and the inclusion of Pee-Wee does little to soften the blow. Fortunately for me, there’s some more news that does soften the blow a bit. In another report, THR says that Elizabeth Banks has joined the cast, and in a role that sounds like it has some potential for hilarity. As we know already, Steve Carell and Jack Black are playing the title characters, a director and a film blogger who come into conflict with one another over a series of bad reviews. Well, it appears that Banks will be playing the Carell character’s girlfriend, an actress who keeps making “formulaic comedy bombs.” Seeing as the focus of this movie is the world of filmmaking vs. the world of film criticism, I’m imagining that Banks’ character will provide some delicious jabs sent the way of actresses like Kate Hudson and Katherine Heigl, the undisputed queens of the formulaic comedy bomb.

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Kate Winslet and Catherine Keener

Charlie Kaufman’s directing followup to Synecdoche, New York has been in the casting stage for a while now, and already it has compiled an impressive core of male actors. Names like Steve Carrell, Jack Black, and Nicolas Cage have attached themselves to the picture, and Kaufman has even made a play at securing Paul Blart. So far there’s been a lack of news about who might play any of the female parts, however. This movie, that seems designed to take the wind out of our movie blogging sails, was looking like a real sausage fest. That’s all changed in a big way though. Vulture is reporting that two phenomenal actresses, Kate Winslet and Catherine Keener, have just signed on to join an already stellar cast. That’s some added girl power that might take even the Spice Girls aback for a minute. News of Winslet and Keener’s involvement on any project would be met with quite a bit of enthusiasm already, but when you factor in that both of these actresses have worked very successfully with Charlie Kaufman material before, things kind of get kicked up a notch.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr gets ready to celebrate Halloween in style with some horror releases… and he’s not just thinking of Footloose. Unhappy with his life, he follows the bucket list path of Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black, traveling to the bottom of the world where he finds himself in a small Antarctic town that has outlawed dancing. So Kevin takes it upon himself to help the people get their groove on only to discover they’ve been taken over an alien species that duplicate human form. Later, he takes a trip back to the heartland where he finds a feral woman chained in a cellar… pretty standard for some of the towns he’s been to. Finally, not being able to find a theater that is still playing Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence), he checks it out On Demand and promptly throws up.

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For those of us who are not predisposed to spend hours of our time spying on birds in a forest, birding aficionados can seem like an awfully strange lot. That’s not to suggest that their hobby isn’t understandable. After all, the satisfaction in finding a rare bird seems similar to the sense of accomplishment one feels upon finishing a difficult puzzle, or upon finally locating Waldo. Still, anyone who’s ever accompanied a birder on his mission knows that once the object of prey is spotted there will be a long, frenzied staring and photographic session, with any slight movement met with enthusiastic “oohs” and “aahs.” If you’re not of the niche birder community, this is an insufferable experience. So it’s hard to fathom why director David Frankel and screenwriter Howard Franklin imagined anyone would be especially entertained by a movie about it.

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Over the course of his screenwriting career, Charlie Kaufman has developed a set of go-to moves. They are the tricks up his sleeve that allow him to craft narratives that throw the way we traditionally watch movies off kilter. One of the things he does is call identity into question. He casts John Malkovich as himself, or he casts Nicolas Cage as Charlie Kaufman, then he makes us question what aspects of those on screen characters accurately reflect the real person, and how much of them are solely invention; the crafted traits of a fictional character created by Charlie Kaufman.

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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