Josh Radnor

How I Met Your Mother

From its very inception, How I Met Your Mother was based on the execution – often marvelously botched – of the big romantic gesture, most often committed by the eternally hapless Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor). The show’s entire premise, that a middle-aged man would spend what amounts to actual weeks telling his bored teen kids (these poor, poor bored teen kids) about how he met their mother, just reeked of such a gesture. This was big romance! This was a hell of a gesture! It was also one that had some majorly diminishing returns for a long period of time. As the series began to wind down in its final season – a protracted goodbye that has long stretched the admiration of even the most hardcore of fans – the specter of the big romantic gesture loomed both large and literal, with actual objects standing quite effectively in for behaviors and actions. You know them. The locket. The blue French horn. Lloyd Dobler had his boombox, but Ted Mosby had an old piece of jewelry and a stolen instrument – and he almost managed to bury both along with the myth of the Big Romantic Gesture. Almost.

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How I Met Your Mother

On a filmmaking and storytelling level, the How I Met Your Mother series finale “Last Forever” was pretty sloppy. But the central point — killing the finally-named Tracy and having Ted end up with Robin — is the best possible way they could’ve closed this whole big beautiful mess out. Ted and Robin have always been the show’s Ross and Rachel, the “Will They/Won’t They” couple whose conflict drives the series. And yes, it does in fact drive the series: it’s the only inter-character issue that has been present for the entire series. Other things come and go, Ted and Robin’s weird, complicated, sexual and romantic tension has maintained. You might insist that finding “The Mother” is the real point of the show, but I’d argue that that’d be kinda terrible. Remember, “The Mother” isn’t a character until season 9, and doesn’t even get a name until the final minutes. Let me say that again, but with italics for emphasis. She doesn’t get a name until the final minutes. Ted’s pursuit of “The perfect woman” isn’t a romance story, it’s an emotional fetch-quest, shallow, selfish and narcissistic. Tracy just isn’t enough of an entity for the beginning of their relationship to provide the closure we need in a series like this. In storytelling terms, “The Mother” is what Ted wants, “Robin” is what he needs, and you should always give your protagonist what he needs.

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delight

It’s likely that you’ve been taught all your life that nothing good could come of bringing the girl who gives you lap dances home and setting her up as the nanny of your child, but the debut feature from writer/director Jill Soloway, Afternoon Delight, seems to make a case for the opposite being true. In it the hilarious Kathryn Hahn plays a housewife who is dissatisfied with her sex life—probably because her husband is played by professional drip, Josh Radnor—so she decides to make an evening trip to the local strip club in order to spice things up. While there she receives a lap dance from a troubled youth played by Juno Temple, and quite unexpectedly the two get thrust into a relationship soon after. In addition to being a comedy of manners wherein a “full-service sex worker” moves into a relatively well-adjusted home, Afternoon Delight also appears to sprinkle in quite a few bits of dramatic intrigue via the Hahn character’s marital woes and the Temple character’s troubled past. Plus, it gives Jane Lynch a prominent role and profits off of letting her do that thing she does, as well. But, honestly, everyone was probably already sold at Juno Temple giving Kathryn Hahn a lap dance, so let’s stop the jibber-jabber and just take a look at what the trailer has to offer.

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Liberal Arts Movie 2012

Editor’s note: Liberal Arts opens in limited release this Friday (just in time for back-to-school!), so please enjoy our Sundance review of the film, originally published on January 23, 2012. Triple threat Josh Radnor‘s first feature, happythankyoumoreplease, debuted at Sundance in 2010, hitting big with the crowds and ultimately winning the Audience Award. The film was written and directed by Radnor, who also starred in it as a disaffected twentysomething struggling to make meaningful connections with others in big, bad New York City. Radnor’s latest outing, Liberal Arts, is written and directed by Radnor, and stars the multi-hyphenate as– well, you probably know the rest. But while happythankyoumoreplease was perhaps too much of a classic first feature – complete with overly precious touches and too much reliance on the magic of coincidence and not enough emphasis on the sort of things that actually happen in the real world – Liberal Arts sees Radnor and his craft maturing wonderfully, which is startlingly in-line with the aims of the actual film.

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Liberal Arts Movie 2012

In Liberal Arts, Josh Radnor plays a 35-year-old man who returns to his alma mater and meets a 19-year-old (Elizabeth Olsen) that completely floats his boat. They struggle through a fiery, instant connection in order to come to grips with their own personal hang ups. And that’s how he met your mother. The Sundance film – which was also written and directed by Radnor – now has a trailer that’s not nearly as twee as an indie romance should be. It’s close, but it’s toned down compared to its brethren, and it’s tough to beat Olsen being cool and advanced:

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Multi-hyphenate Josh Radnor has had a real nice time at the Sundance Film Festival. His debut film, happythankyoumoreplease, premiered at the festival in 2010, and he just brought his second feature, Liberal Arts, to Park City this past January. Both films star Radnor as a shiftless twentysomething who is, for a variety of reasons, unhappy with his current lot in life. But whereas happythankyoumoreplease tended to feel too twee, too naval-gazey, too unformed, Liberal Arts showed a tremendous progression in Radnor’s talents and execution. And now you can see it, too! IFC will release the film just in time for back to school on September 14 of this year. The film also stars Elizabeth Olsen, Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney, and Zac Efron, and should be the perfect way to ease back into fall drudgery after the fireworks of the summer season.

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Last week, the 2012 Sundance Film Festival announced their first wave of programming, featuring twenty-six titles that will be screening in competition. They followed that with the announcement of their Spotlight, Next, Park City at Midnight, and New Frontiers films. It was two days of absolute madness and glee, and the festival sagely waited a few days, giving us the buffer of a weekend to catch our collective breath, before breaking out the big guns. The Premiere and Documentary Premieres. That’s a bit clunky – so the Premieres! The Premieres are here! Per usual, here’s a list of films that immediately jump out at me: Julie Delpy’s follow-up to 2 Days in Paris, the Delpy and Chris Rock-starring 2 Days in New York, Nicholas Jarecki’s Abritrage (which stars one of last year’s break-out stars, Brit Marling, in her fist big-time feature role), Lee Toland Krieger’s Celeste and Jesse Forever (which stars co-writer Rashida Jones), Stephen Frears’ Lay the Favorite, Josh Radnor’s second film Liberal Arts (also starring one of last year’s big stars, Elizabeth Olsen), Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer, Stacy Peralta’s Bones Brigade: An Autobiography, and Amy Berg’s West of Memphis. Check out the full list of Sundance Film Festival Premiere picks after the break.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news round-up that’s a little tired, a little wired and it thinks it deserves a little appreciation around here! Alright, so that’s the insomnia talking. For now, lets just do the news like we always do, shall we? The headline photo of the night is a shot of two morons Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin in Adam Shankman’s Rock of Ages, a film that will combine major Hollywood names with an infamously terrible director and a slew of over-the-top musical numbers. It’s so ridiculous that it just might work. But probably not.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news round-up written (at least this evening) by an exhausted, cranky bastard. He is in need of a vacation, which means one of two weeks: he either needs to convince Todd Phillips to let him join The Wolf Pack or he needs to find an appropriately film-themed resort somewhere in the Middle East. As it turns out… The image above image is a concept for a $1 billion dollar Star Trek resort in Jordan to be fashioned by Rubicon Group Holding and themed with the stylings of Gene Roddenberry’s 23rd century, as seen through the lens of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek. I mention Abrams because the original story references it. It almost feels like developers are ignoring a few years of Star Trek lore there… Alas, it will be extravagant and if it’s got a Captain’s Chair in my suite, I’ll go there. When I can afford to travel to Jordan. I’ve got until 2014 to make it happen.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s holding out for a hero ’til the morning light. He’s gotta be sure, it’s gotta be soon, and he’s gotta be larger than life. We lead tonight with images from this evening’s episode of Community, which took a jaunt into Pulp Fiction territory and played around with some Tarantino aesthetic. I haven’t watched it yet, as I’m contractually obligated to watch it with my lady and I won’t see her until tomorrow night, but I’m told that it was a new high mark for the show.

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Happythankyoumoreplease unfolds in familiarly quirky, coming-of-age indie territory. Yet, despite its propensity for clichés and occasionally sappy tone, as exemplified by the film’s tagline – “go get yourself loved” – there’s an uncomfortable honesty at the heart of writer-director-star Josh Radnor’s first behind-the-camera effort. Somehow, the manifold plot devices (alopecia, photography, a cute foster kid) never detract from the picture’s winning evocation of the peculiar status of life spent as a struggling twenty-something, barely afloat in New York City. Radnor’s script is well-attuned to the lonely disorientation of being young and less than wealthy in the increasingly gentrified, high-end Big Apple and the daunting soul-searching that comes with the realization that maybe you were never meant to make it.

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There is a fine line to walk as an indie dramedy, and HappyThankYouMorePlease seems to walk right up to the line and then raise its eyebrow. On the optimistic front, Neil really loved it when he saw it at Sundance last year and talked it up as the natural next step in the evolution of romantic comedies signified by 500 Days of Summer. The comparison seems obvious even from just the trailer, but Josh Radnor (of How I Met Your Mother) seems to want to juggle more than one relationship here with his writing/directing/starring debut. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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Last night at a ceremony here in Park City, Utah, the winners of the annual awards were announced…

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Future filmmakers, if there’s one thing that your quirky indie comedy will need to have any shot at success beyond the snowy streets of Sundance, it is charm.

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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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