Jason Ritter

About Alex

We’ve had a few trailers arrive in the past couple weeks for movies involving comedians gathering for funerals, but what about comedians coming together to celebrate the failure of an attempted suicide? It would be remiss not to say that About Alex is the Big Chill that we’ve been missing from our generation’s film lineups, even though it’s a bit obvious to point it out; the trailer itself wastes no time in doing so, and the pull quotes carefully picked out to showcase the film’s best qualities mention it as well. But when you’ve got a group of young, twenty something friends heading up to a cabin to embrace each other warmly and love a friend who just nearly took his life…when it walks like a duck… About Alex, from director and writer Jesse Zwick, is a familiar story that seems to try its best to reinvent itself for the modern age. Alex (Jason Ritter) suffers an emotional breakdown, which is the tried and true Bat Signal for his friends to finally get their acts together and pay attention to their long-suffering pal. They assemble for what’s supposed to be a gathering of fun and old memories, but when tensions combine with what are really old wounds, plus a whole lot of drugs and booze, it’s clear that this maybe wasn’t the best decision.

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Tribeca Films

We all handle grief in our own ways. Where one person may seek to drown their sorrows in busy work or the bottle, someone else might just shut down and bury themselves in bed for a few weeks. And then there’s Andrew (David Krumholdtz). His mother’s death from cancer has been increasingly hard on his mental state, and in an effort to heal he and his girlfriend Hannah (Melanie Lynskey) invite four of their closest friends to a rental house in Arizona to celebrate his birthday. Owen (Jason Ritter) and Emily (Gillian Jacobs) are dating, and Dave (Zachary Knighton) and Zoe (Ahna O’Reilly) are pre-engaged. It’s expected to be a week of relaxation, conversation and libation, but Andrew has a special request — the fulfillment of which he believes with heal his soul. He wants to have group sex with Hannah, Emily and Zoe. Andrew poses that question in the opening minutes of The Big Ask, and the fallout that follows explores both the fragility and strength of the relationships we form with lovers, friends and even ourselves.

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About Alex

“You know what this is like? This is like one of those eighties movies.” Jesse Zwick’s About Alex makes no bones about its apparent pedigree – the first-time filmmaker clearly pulled from a host of eighties features, especially the similarly themed The Big Chill for his debut, but he’s added a nice little twist to his work: no one is actually dead here. Instead, the group of college friends that make up the cast of About Alex are brought back together because someone is almost dead. (This actually makes quite a difference.) Reunited due to the attempted suicide of their pal Alex (Jason Ritter), the erstwhile group assemble at his house in upstate New York to welcome home a recently discharged Alex, find out what went wrong, and learn some stuff about themselves (and each other!) as the film unfolds over an appropriate ninety-six minute runtime. But although the premise of the film is clearly a little contrived, but Zwick clearly knows that – amusingly enough, the dead protagonist in The Big Chill, the friend who really did succeed at his suicide, was also named Alex, and he also slit his wrists in a tub – but About Alex is so charming on its own merits that Zwick’s decision to riff on earlier features emerges as a wily and wise one.

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Free Samples

If you’ve somehow avoided the charms of actress Jess Weixler thus far, this first trailer for Jay Gammill‘s Free Samples may grate on your nerves. Who is this flighty chick fucking up something as simple as giving out free samples of ice cream from a truck? Who is this young lass breaking Jesse Eisenberg‘s heart? Who drops out of law school to be a loser? Why should I care? You should care precisely because it’s Weixler who is playing shiftless leading lady Jillian as said law-school-drop-out-ice-cream-loser and she is nothing short of consistently wonderful throughout her myriad indie roles. From The Lie to Peter and Vandy to Teeth (yup, that’s her!), Weixler is the best thing about every film she’s ever starred in, so if she’s headlining a lo-fi outing about ice cream shilling and deferred dreams, we’re sold. No wonder Eisenberg wants to get into “the good stuff” with her. Do you want chocolate or vanilla? Decide while watching the first trailer for Free Samples, after the break.

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Sean Penn

What is Casting Couch? It’s a daily casting column that isn’t stalking Maria Bello. It swears. Sean Penn has been one of Hollywood’s top actors for decades now, but he’s never really been the sort of performer who stars in big budget blockbusters. Doesn’t he deserve to have his own action franchise already? Well, if his latest project takes off at the box office, he might get it. THR reports that Penn has signed on to star in an adaptation of one of French crime novelist Jean-Patrick Manchette’s books, “The Prone Gunman,” where he will play a badass spy type who gets betrayed by his organization and ends up getting chased all across Europe in a deadly game of cat and mouse. Think of it as being like Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire, only starring an actor.

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Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best

In Ryan O’Nan‘s Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best, a singer/songwriter teams up with a musical revolutionary in what looks like a quirky bromance complete with some solid music. Spoiler alert: they probably end up beating the best. It stars O’Nan, who also wrote the screenplay, alongside Michael Weston (House M.D.) and Arielle Kebbel (John Tucker Must Die). You can check out the trailer here, but we’ve got a clip that gives an excellent view to the kind of awkward, interpersonal comedy on display. In it, Kyle (Jason Ritter) breaks up the band and agrees to disagree with O’Nan’s Alex. Oscilloscope picked up the movie, so it’ll be in theaters today (9/21). Be on the look out, and see the clip for yourself:

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The Perfect Family stars Kathleen Turner as a devout Catholic woman with two grown children. She prays before every meal, delivers food to elderly residents unable to leave their homes, and even assists Monsignor Murphy (Richard Chamberlain) with Communion during Mass. She couldn’t be more thrilled when she discovers she’s been nominated for Catholic Woman of the Year, but when she’s told the judges need to evaluate her entire family before making their decision she moves into overdrive to ensure they resemble nothing less than the perfect Catholic family. But with a son (Jason Ritter) who’s left his wife and kids for the bed of another woman, a daughter (Emily Deschanel) who’s in a lesbian relationship, and a husband who’s a recovering alcoholic, winning this major award isn’t going to be easy. Eileen sets out to correct these “wrongs” and discovers some truths along the way…truths that are tied up neatly with simplistic, sitcom-colored ribbons and bows but that still manage touch the heart.

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It is hard enough to be a single father, but when you are trying to juggle those responsibilities along with pursuing your dream of being an actor, things are made all the more complicated. The End of Love opens with Mark (Mark Webber) and his son, Isaac (played by Webber’s real-life son), waking up. The camera focuses in on Isaac and sets up the focus of the film on the little boy in the first few frames. As Mark and Isaac start their day, the absence of a mother (or a partner) in Mark’s life becomes clear, with Mark having to take Isaac with him on a big audition. While the casting director seems understanding about Isaac’s presence in the room, the actress Mark is reading against, Amanda Seyfried (playing herself), seems less than pleased and it quickly becomes clear that Mark’s dreams of becoming an actor may be over. Losing roles no longer just means Mark may not get a good part, it means he is losing money to support himself and Isaac. Although Mark lives with two roommates (who seem more than understanding about living with a two-year-old), he is not pulling his weight in rent, which sends Mark asking one of his friends (yet another “cameo” by Jason Ritter) for help.

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For those who remember Mark Webber as Stephen Stills from Scott Pilgrim, this next move might seem strange. For those who remember him in indie fare like Just Like the Son and Dear Wendy, it might seem fantastic. For those who mistake him for Michael Weston (the guy on House for a few episodes), none of this will make any sense at all. Webber, according to The Hollywood Reporter, has cast Michael Cera and Amanda Seyfried to play slightly altered versions of themselves for an upcoming, as yet untitled, movie about a father raising his son after the mother’s death. He’s also cast Shannyn Sossamon and Jason Ritter in smaller, but similarly styled, roles. He’s friends with all the actors in real life. He also shares a connection with the co-star: his two-year-old son. In trying to achieve the strictest version of a real father-son relationship, Webber (who will direct as well) will act alongside his own child. The concept sounds far too character-based to judge, but the actors he’s gotten to work with him is a talented group, and Webber has been around the acting block for well over a decade, so this definitely has some potential to be a solid mix of drama, comedy, and reality.

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Those who stuck with me during the monsterous 13-day coverage blitz that was this year’s Sundance Film Festival might remember this little love story…

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Srand Releasing has provided Film School Rejects with a few exclusive stills from their upcoming release Peter and Vandy, a romantic drama starring Jess Weixler (Teeth) and Jason Ritter (Swimfan).

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If you thought you were surprised to find that Limp Bizkit front man Fred Durst had directed film called The Longshots, which actually wasn’t too bad, wait until you get a load of the trailer for his next film The Education of Charlie Banks.

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Strange, sweet and a little sci-fi. That is how this next selection of Sundance 2009 selections role. As we continue to roll through the end of my coverage of Sundance’s 2009 frame, we take a look at a wildly experimental and odd little film, a sweet romantic comedy telling us a familiar story in an unfamiliar way and a Japanese sci-fi movie that finds some deeper meaning.

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