Jason Reitman

Jason Reitman in Ghostbusters II

It doesn’t come as a surprise that in the wake of Harold Ramis‘s death that Ivan Reitman has dropped out of directing Ghostbusters 3. The silver lining is that he will still be involved as a producer, but that is one more original player that won’t be back in his regular spot. Reitman told Deadline of his decision as well as details about the road the sequel has taken up to this point, including how the current draft from Etan Cohen with Dan Aykroyd has the main characters of the first two movies taking a back seat, as long rumored. “Harold got sick about three years ago, and we kept hoping he would get better,” Reitman says of the latest plan. “I kept pushing forward on the Etan Cohen and we now have a draft that is very good, that the studio is very excited about.” Along with the news that Reitman is vacating the director’s chair is a further update that Sony is still moving the production forward and aims to start filming no later than early 2015. That’s plenty of time for Reitman and the studio to find a replacement to helm the movie, but they don’t really need very long at all because I’ve got a shortlist right here of the five best men (and woman) for the job. 

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labordayfilm

This article contains spoilers for ‘Labor Day.’  Proceed with caution unless you have already taken in all of the nonsense it has to offer, or if you are for some other reason free of spoiler-fear. Seeing as I watched director Jason Reitman’s new film, Labor Day, after it was already a few days into its release, I figured that since I hadn’t heard much about it, chances were that it was just an ordinary movie. I mean, I’d heard some rumbling about how it was surprisingly bad, but given how much people have liked Reitman’s movies (Thank You For Smoking, Juno, Up In the Air, Young Adult) up until this point, it made sense that he was probably due to make something that would disappoint. And yeah, the trailer looked pretty hokey, but who can’t go in for a sappy love story every once in a while? It was pretty damned surprising to me then, just how contemptible Labor Day ended up being—and not in your usual bad movie way either. Sure, it was contrived. Sure, its characters often didn’t behave in any believably human way. And sure, it had some serious pacing problems. The real issues with this thing went so much further than problems with crafting though. At a very fundamental level, Labor Day tells a story that presupposes a woman can’t thrive in her life unless she’s permanently attached to a man, which is laughable. As soon as I got home I Googled the movie, expecting to […]

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reitman in god we trust

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. It is perhaps a bit odd to celebrate the early work of Jason Reitman on the opening weekend of his first critical failure. Labor Day is not only the Canadian director’s first “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but it’s also his first feature to even drop below 80%. Frankly, given the way the film has been kicked about the calendar since its Toronto International Film Festival debut, it seems as if the various people involved would prefer that we not talk about it at all. And so we won’t! (I haven’t seen it yet, anyway.) Instead let’s take a look back at Reitman’s early shorts and program a half-hour film festival brimming with nostalgia for the early 2000s. He directed six of these before his first feature, 2005′s Thank You for Smoking. Half of that number are available to watch on Vimeo, thanks to character actor and Reitman regular Jeff Witzke. They’re all fast-paced experiments in screenwriting and editing, clever and really quite delightful.

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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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JACK RYAN

This dreaded dump month is only going to look worse considering all the terrific December releases we just saw: Martin Scorsese, Spike Jonze, and the Coen Brothers’s three incredible films; Ron Burgundy’s hilarious return; and David O. Russell‘s pretty good movie. Even with 47 Ronin kind of stinking up the joint, it couldn’t ruin last month’s holiday filmgoing spirit. December ended a satisfying year on a tremendous note. Of course the start of 2014 can’t live up to all those award contenders, not even with I, Frankenstein going to bat for it. Frankenstein’s monster turned pretty boy action hero should at the very least give us something to talk about, but if the trailers are any fair indication, I, Frankenstein is not one of the five must see movies of the month.

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Labor Day Movie

In 1993, Clint Eastwood delivered Kevin Costner as a man on the lam in A Perfect World. It was a smart, dusty twist on coming-of-age featuring a kidnapped boy and ketchup sandwiches. It’s one of Eastwood’s best as a director, and watching the new trailer for Jason Reitman’s Labor Day, I couldn’t help but pick up an echo of it. Reitman looks like he’s doing what he always does (which also means casually going after a fifth Oscar nomination) with the story of an escaped convict (Josh Brolin) playing house with his collateral. Naturally, there’s more to his and the family’s stories. Our review is here. Check out the trailer for yourself and be prepared for a flash of James Van Der Beek as a lawman:

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Labor Day

There’s no funny or punny way to put this – Jason Reitman’s Labor Day is a film about human needs and desires and so how they so often (and so irrevocably) lead to human stupidity and error. A domestic drama about grief, tragedy, growth, and renewal, there’s not a hamburger phone to be found in the whole production, and even Reitman’s trademark banter is held at bay for nearly the film’s entire runtime (the filmmaker does let it fly for a truncated dinner sequence). A film about the human condition, Labor Day is both incredibly relatable and deeply frustrating – after all, those are the sort of emotions anyone would feel if they let an escaped convict into their house and promptly fell in love with him.

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sandler

When’s the last time we saw Adam Sandler buckle down and do some real acting? Do things like Spanglish and Reign Over Me count because they were more drama than comedy, even though they were still pretty cheesy and lame? How about Funny People? That was kind of a meaty part, even though Sandler was essentially playing himself in it. Is his role in Punch Drunk Love really the only thing that could unequivocally be considered an example of Sandler rolling up his sleeves and actually doing some work as an actor? At this point we’ve gotten so used to the guy wearing cargo shorts and t-shirts while sleepily trudging his way through scenes opposite his friends, that to see him actually engaged in his work would probably feel pretty alien. Director Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air, Young Adult) seems to think that he can get a real performance out of him though, because a report from Deadline says that he’s in the process of signing Sandler to one of the featured roles in his next  movie—and Jason Reitman doesn’t make lazy Adam Sandler movies.

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smoking-truth1

Before he directed award-nominated movies like Juno, Up in the Air, and Young Adult, Jason Reitman’s debut feature film was the bitingly sarcastic Thank You For Smoking, a tale of a unscrupulous spin-doctor for the tobacco industry. Being a self-described “Merchant of Death,” Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) becomes the target of pretty much everybody from his own family to a U.S. Senator. During the course of the film, Nick is kidnapped by unknown assailants who strip him down to his skivvies and cover him with dozens of nicotine patches. Soon, Nick loses consciousness and later wakes up in a hospital, miraculously alive due to his personal high tolerance for nicotine that he gained from years of smoking cigarettes. While the movie moves along to a sharp political and ethical point in the end, this scene got us thinking, just in case we needed to quit smoking and burn through the four-week patch program in a weekend, would covering ourselves with nicotine patches in one fell swoop kill us?

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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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Glengarry Glen Ross

What is Casting Couch? Quite simply, it’s a casting news round-up that takes its name from the place where young actors trade their dignity for a shot at fame. Today we learn who had to service Miss Piggy to get a role in her new film. When everyone thinks of James Foley’s 1992 film adaptation of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, they think of a bunch of competitive men trying to tear each other’s throats out to get ahead, they think of Alec Baldwin’s testosterone-filled motivational speeches about how coffee is for closers, and generally they think about a bunch of macho posturing and heartless ambition. So Jason Reitman’s latest live reading of a Hollywood script should be fun, because it re-imagines Glengarry by giving it an all-female cast. Who’s he got? According to Inside Movies, his cast will consist of Robin Wright playing the Al Pacino role, Catherine O’Hara the Jack Lemmon one, Maria Bello the Ed Harris one, Allison Janney the Alan Arkin one, and Mae Whitman the Kevin Spacey one. A replacement for Baldwin has yet to be announced, but I think we can all agree that the dream casting would be Beyoncé. The reading takes place at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on February 21.

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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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Recently, director Jason Reitman has been doing a special series of script readings at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Basically what he does is he takes the script for a beloved film, recasts the whole thing with new actors, and does a stage reading in front of a live audience. Rights issues being what they are, something like this can’t be recorded, so getting to experience one of these events is a très exclusive honor. Reitman has already given this treatment to five universally loved movies (The Breakfast Club, The Apartment, Shampoo, Reservoir Dogs, and The Princess Bride), and tonight he’s set to cap off his series with a reading of everyone’s favorite film, The Big Lebowski. Who does he have on tap to bring legendary characters like The Dude and Jackie Treehorn to life on stage? Inside Movies has the scoop, and some of his decisions sound like they’re ripe with fun-time possibilities. For the part of The Dude (or El Duderino, if you’re not into that whole brevity thing) Reitman has chosen Seth Rogen, the man with the best stoner laugh in Hollywood. His best friend and security expert, Walter Sobchak, will be played by The Office star Rainn Wilson, a man not unfamiliar with bluster. As the other Jeffrey Lebowski, the millionaire (and a fucking goldbricker if I’ve ever seen one), is Jason Alexander, a man used to spinning unbelievable yarns. And for Lebowski’s red-headed and inappropriately sexual daughter Maude, they’ve tapped Mad Men star […]

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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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“Guys like me are born to like girls like you.” If you’re one of those guys – someone who finds unrelenting asshole women irresistible – Young Adult will leave you with a new crush. If you’re a socially normal human being who knows how destructive an asshole can be, Young Adult will leave you with a new on-screen enemy. I fall in the middle. Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) could not be further from likable and sympathetic, and that’s the whole point. The young adult writer, not the most subtle character trait, is never glorified as being a “cool smokin’ bitch,” something that she only starts off as. As the film progresses, the beautiful womanchild is stripped down to something so ugly, unappealing, hopeless, and, in some uncomfortable ways, a little relatable.

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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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Why Watch? Good old Jason Reitman has another movie coming out this week, and it just so happens that I stumbled upon one of his early short films – one I fell in love with years ago and only recently realized the name behind it. This dry, hilarious movie delivers the standard (often wordless) negotiation that happens whenever two people get back to the bedroom after a great first date. It just delivers it in a bizarre, strangely sensible way. Go grab a Notary, and don’t even think about Article 20. What does it cost? Just 5 minutes of your time. Check out Consent for yourself:

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Every bit of movie news has to be taken with a fistful of salt. With so many moving parts, even the biggest players in the game sometimes see their work fall into the tall grass of development hell. That’s the bad news. The good news is that all of those times you shake your fist at a new project (be it remake or reboot) are warranted, but they don’t always get made. Sometimes, the stuff we’re dreading goes down in flames too. So it’s with that bittersweet spirit that we look back on a few announced projects that still haven’t been made. And might never be.

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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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For a while there, whenever somebody talked about the upcoming comedy about dueling magicians, Burt Wonderstone, it was often just viewed as the next starring vehicle for Steve Carell. He’s long been attached to the lead role of an aging illusionist whose less than fresh magic act has lost its steam. The questions of who would play the flashier, younger magician who takes his place in the hearts and minds of magic fans, or who some of the other characters would be, never seemed to get much attention. But once the movie got a director and another re-write, it became time to start filling out the rest of the cast. And they’ve been doing a pretty bang-up job so far. Big names like Jim Carrey and James Gandolfini have been mentioned as negotiating for the film, and at this point are assumed to be on board. Carrey will play the flashier magician to Carell’s outdated dud, and Gandolfini is said to be playing a casino owner. And now, joining those names are a couple more actors that you might have heard of: sex symbols Olivia Wilde and Steve Buscemi. Wilde is negotiating to play the role of Carell’s love interest (yeah, right!), a magician’s assistant who bounces back and forth between his character and Carrey’s. And Buscemi is negotiating to play Carell’s long-time partner, who ends up quitting the act.

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published: 04.17.2014
B-
published: 04.17.2014
D+
published: 04.17.2014
B-
published: 04.16.2014
B+

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