Lizzy Caplan

Masters of Sex

Here’s some (s)excellent news: Showtime’s Masters of Sex is a fantastically thoughtful and original series. Based on the research (and eventual romance) between real-life sexologists William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the show has overcome a middling pilot and the disadvantage of inevitable comparisons to its mid-century contemporary Mad Men in just three episodes. If Don Draper and company are constantly reacting to the ground moving beneath their feet, with the values of 1960s America undergoing sudden tectonic shifts, Bill Masters (Michael Sheen) and Gini Johnson (Lizzy Caplan) are actively trying to get those seemingly immobile tectonic plates to budge, just a little bit. Even as a renowned OBGYN with the Nobel Prize just out of his reach, Masters has to fight — and fight dirty — to get his university to sponsor studies of human sexuality. (Surprise: it’s not easy to get paid to watch other people doing it.) As a divorced mother of two, the thoroughly modern Gini, who started as Masters’ secretary but will eventually become his equal, has already undergone her own sexual and feminist revolutions — she’s just waiting for the rest of the world to catch up. Luckily, she’s patient. Despite taking place in Eisenhower’s America, Masters of Sex feels like a great advancement forward in TV. It’s not that the show is radically innovative: the small screen is already full of doctors and anti-hero protagonists and slow-burning courtships. But the characters’ forward-looking hopefulness is reflected by the show’s ambitions. Below are three ways in which Masters of Sex distinguishes itself from everything else on TV today (spoilers below):

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caplan

Over the past decade or so Lizzy Caplan has built a pretty respectable career for herself being one of the go-to names you call if you need someone who’s both a pretty face and a sharp tongue for a big screen comedy. If you look over the girl’s filmography, she’s just constantly working. It’s looking like things could be getting even better for her as far as the acting game is concerned though, because not only is she currently starring in one of the fall’s hot new television dramas, Masters of Sex, which is creating quite a bit of critical buzz, but THR is reporting that she’s also just been recruited to be the female lead in the sure to be big next comedy from co-directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (This Is the End), The Interview. What is The Interview? An absolutely insane-sounding movie about a smarmy talk show host and his television producer sidekick who somehow get wrapped up in a plot to assassinate the prime minister of North Korea. That’s what.

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Masters of Sex

There’s an old marketing cliche that says sex sells. If this is truly the case, then Showtime has successfully set itself up to have the hottest new show on TV once fall rolls around, because it’s newest original program, Masters of Sex, doesn’t just star sexy people like Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, the entire concept of the show revolves around the scientific study of human sexuality. This means that not only will every episode be chock full of sexy talk, but there will also be plenty of room for tons of attractive guest stars to show up and get it on in front of the gaze of Showtime’s cameras. Sounds interesting, no? Of course it does. So click through to watch the network’s new trailer for the show, which will probably get your blood pumping a little faster.

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Sucessful_alcoholics_filmstill6

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. In a few days, The Kings of Summer opens in theaters. One of our favorites out of Sundance this year (where it was titled Toy’s House), the coming-of-age dramedy is filled with big laughs, a huge amount of heart and great performances from a handful of young actors who are all sure to go places. Also on the rise now is director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, a veteran of web and TV work who now enters the big time with this feature directorial debut. In an interview with AFI this year, he declared that this is only the beginning for him with feature filmmaking: “That’s why i’m here. I grew up falling in love with movies and the worlds they created. That’s my priority and that’s where I want to be.” Fortunately for us short subject lovers, he’s not against continuing non-feature stuff on the side. He admits to enjoying all mediums, including commercials, and wants to do a second season of his Comedy Central show with T.J. Miller, Mash Up. Hopefully he also makes more legitimate short films, because he’s shown a terrific grasp for not just concise storytelling but also an awareness for what sort of running time suits a particular story. Thanks to Vogt-Roberts having a well-stocked Vimeo page, we’re able to see a lot of his prior short and sketch work, and this week I’d […]

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Culture Warrior

It’s nothing new to say that the term “independent filmmaking” has come to no longer reference the actual practice of making films outside the studio system, and alerts more directly to an aesthetic of hipness. That the cute-and-quirky consecutive multi-Oscar nominees Little Miss Sunshine and Juno were similarly marketed by Fox Searchlight as “independent films” despite the fact that the former was actually produced independently and the latter was funded by studio dollars, effectively put the nail in the coffin for actual independent filmmaking to have any meaningful visibility. Meanwhile, first-time directors who make their name at Sundance like Marc Webb, Doug Liman, and Seth Gordon quickly reveal themselves to be aspiring directors-for-hire rather than anti-Hollywood renegades. Tom DiCillo, Hal Hartley, and Jim Jarmusch seem ever more like naïve, idealist relics each passing year. It’s clear what the blurring of the lines between independence and studio filmmaking has meant for the mainstream: as my friend and colleague Josh Coonrod pointed out last week, it renders “platform release” synonymous with “independent,” it means that movies featuring Bradley Cooper and Bruce Willis are the top competitors at the “Independent” Spirit Awards (see the John Cassavetes Award for actual independents), and it means that Quentin Tarantino is, for some reason, still considered an independent filmmaker. American independent filmmaking has lost its ideological reason for being. But when it comes to films that are actually independently financed – films for whom the moniker is less an appeal toward cultural capital and more an accurate […]

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Save the Date trailer

Editor’s note: Save the Date arrives in theaters this Friday. RSVP now with a re-run of our Sundance review, originally posted on January 25, 2012. It would be foolish to deny that there is a certain kind of “Sundance romance” film – minor affairs that chronicle the beautiful and directionless as they stumble through the motions in an attempt to find something real. Most of the time, these films take place somewhere in East Los Angeles (Echo Park, Silverlake, Los Feliz), and usually there’s someone in a band. There is always a bevy of navel-gazing that occurs. Meeting those criteria for this year’s festival is Michael Mohan‘s Save the Date. The film centers on a pair of sisters (Lizzy Caplan and Alison Brie, charmers both) who have very different expectations of and desires for love. Caplan’s Sarah is a commitment-phobe who is about to move in with her long-term boyfriend (Geoffrey Arend as Kevin), while Brie’s Beth is about to marry Kevin’s best friend and bandmate, Andrew (Martin Starr). Cue conflicts.

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Save the Date trailer

Will film audiences ever tire of watching indie romances about twenty-somethings struggling to find love set against the backdrop of their struggling to break into creative fields? Or is there something just so satisfying about wallowing in other people’s struggles and acknowledging that you’re not the only one who’s completely confused about life that we’ll continue to line up for these movies time and time again? Filmmaker Michael Mohan is clearly betting on the latter notion, because his latest project, Save the Date, looks like every romance about confused young people that you’ve ever seen. There are a few big reasons why his work could be a step above the last couple you’ve seen though, a few reasons that look a lot like Lizzy Caplan, Alison Brie, Martin Starr, Geoffrey Arend, and Mark Webber. Caplan has been putting in strong supporting performances for years now, so the chance to see her step up and take the lead should be a pleasant one. And Alison Brie, this girl is so beloved that an entire Internet subculture has sprung up around celebrating just how amazing she is. Strong casting there, indeed.

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The Best Short Films

Successful Alcoholics from Jordan Vogt-Roberts on Vimeo. Why Watch? The second shot of this short from Jordan Vogt-Roberts snags an unexpected, great laugh and then builds the comedy moment to moment from there, led by two hilarious performances from T.J. Miller and Lizzy Caplan. It also features a few familiar faces from character actors who nail down small parts along the way. With highly quotable lines and an absurd premise made believable through sheer force of will, the heart of this short is a pair of lovable characters who are absolute assholes. Fortunately, the story knows more than one note. It’s a look at adult children who manage to rock life despite blacking out every night – a comedy done with a smiling bulldozer, drawing humor from two people scoffing at consequences no matter how serious they get. But what happens when they run out of booze? What will it cost you? Only 24 minutes. Skip work. Watch more short films.

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Bachelorette Movie 2012

Editor’s note: After big success on VOD, Bachelorette hits theaters today, so ready your champagne flutes and raise a glass to our Sundance review of the film, originally published on January 24, 2012. We’ll get this out of the way right off the bat – Bachelorette is not Bridesmaids, though the film’s premise (three girls embark on a bachelorette party adventure for a bride they hate!) sounds like the perfect post-Bridesmaids feature for a ladies’ night out. In reality, Leslye Headland‘s film is a production that’s perfectly crafted for people who hate their friends. Toxic, nasty, and ugly, Bachelorette reaffirms stereotypes about women (they are bitches! they are sluts! they are emotionally unstable!) and their relationships (they secretly all hate each other!) that should have disappeared from cinema (and the world) long ago. We never quite know why Regan (Kirsten Dunst), Katie (Isla Fisher), and Jenna (Lizzy Caplan) are still friends – we can only assume it’s because no one else wants to associated with such horrible shrews. Pals since high school, the trio call themselves “the b-faces” and appear to spend most of their time bitching about other things and people. They are all unhappy in different ways – control freak Regan thinks she’s done everything right and still nothing is happening to her (hint, no one cares if you went to Princeton if you’re a huge, raging bitch to every single person you meet), airhead Katie is sick of work retail but thinks she’s not smart enough for anything else […]

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Bachelorette Movie 2012

Not all of the creative talent on board Bridesmaids were interested in a sequel, but fortunately a sequel already exists. To be fair, while writer/director Leslye Headland‘s Bachelorette might prove to be a different animal altogether, the surface level similarities are impossible to ignore. Girls behaving badly. A bride-to-be. Old high school friendships. Disaster around every corner leading up to the big day. After seeing it at Sundance, Kate even called it Bridesmaids for people who hate their friends. So there’s that too. But check out the trailer for yourself and be the judge. It stars Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan and Isla Fisher as terrible friends all throwing a wedding for a girl (Rebel Wilson) they made fun of in high school.

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Why should you go see Frankie Go Boom this October 12? If not to support a burgeoning talent in newcomer writer/director Jordan Roberts, do it because it stars names like Charlie Hunnam (who you might know from Undeclared or Sons of Anarchy), Lizzy Caplan (who is awesome in everything she does), Whitney Cummings (who has a lot to make up for after making us sit through her sitcom) and Chris O’Dowd (who charmed the world as the love interest in Bridesmaids and most likely has big things ahead of him). And, if all of those names aren’t enough to convince you to buy a ticket, see Frankie Go Boom in order to take in just how beautiful Ron Perlman looks when he’s dressed up as a woman.

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The title alone is tantalizing enough – Item 47. Just what is Item 47? And just how would the latest Marvel short (dubbed “One-Shots”) tie into the increasingly large and complex cinematic world that Marvel has crafted? We’ve known for weeks that the next One-Shot would appear as a bonus on the upcoming The Avengers home-video release (and, well, duh, of course there’s a new One-Shot, as is becoming par for the course after both Thor and Captain America got one), but the events of that film looked to have (spoiler alert?) taken the star of the previous One-Shots out of commission. Now, thanks to EW (who also debuted that first still up above), we’ve got a bevy of new information about Item 47, including plot, stars, and just what that title means. Even better? The skew of Item 47 signals Marvel’s interest in exploring the “real world” that’s currently home to all manner of superheros, and that’s the sort of interest that can expand the universe exponentially. The outlet reports that Item 47 stars Lizzy Caplan (awesome) and Jesse Bradford (also awesome) as “a down-on-their-luck couple who find one of the discarded alien guns from the finale to The Avengers — and proceed to make some incredibly bad decisions.” Really, what would you do if your city was attacked and a giant Chitauri gun fell into your hands?

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It’s the year of Lizzy Caplan. Such a bold proclamation is based entirely on the fact that the Party Down and Mean Girls star has two films world premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, an exciting feat for any actress, but doubly so for an up-and-coming comedic gem like Caplan whose two lady-centric films are bowing in a post-Bridesmaids world. Last year’s big it-girls, Elizabeth Olsen and Brit Marling, faced a somewhat similar situation – both came to the festival with two films to hype (Olsen had Martha Marcy May Marlene and Silent House, Marling turned up with Sound of My Voice and Another Earth). But even Olsen and Marling didn’t have the same challenge Caplan has to deal with this year when it comes to her work in Save the Date and Bachelorette – two films, two starring roles, two projects both about weddings. Madness! How the heck will we ever tell these two films apart? Well, with this handy comparison of every relevant bit of information (and even some not-so-relevant bits) on each film, we will. Consider them Lizzy Caplan Sundance Film Festival Flash Cards. Study up and get your best wedding outfit/snowsuit prepped (hint: use fur).

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Welcome back to Commentary Commentary, your weekly dish of directorial insight and/or, as indicated by last week’s column, shenanigans. This week we’re looking inside the mystery box with director Matt Reeves and uncovering what he has to say about our favorite recent monster movie, Cloverfield. Reeves did this commentary all by his lonesome, but something tells me J.J. Abrams was standing over him with a loaded gun lest Reeves divulge too much information. I’ll be listening intently for any Morse Code warnings or cries for help. Since this commentary track was laid down years ago, and since Matt Reeves has since directed Let Me In – more Morse Code messages. Hmmm – I have a feeling everything turned out okay. So here, in all of its Slusho wonder, is what I learned on the Matt Reeves commentary for Cloverfield. I wonder if there are going to be any Lost secrets. I hope there are Lost secrets. Or Star Trek 2. Okay, wishful thinking is over. Shutting up now.

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Seeing as it was on the Starz network and only lasted for two seasons, there are probably a lot of people out there who haven’t heard of the TV show Party Down. But seeing as it was one of the best shows on recent television, there are also a lot of people who hold it very dear to their hearts. That tends to happen when something is good, and kept away from the mainstream, and ended prematurely. Traditionally, a TV show reaching cult status has always been a good recipe for strong DVD sales, and then talks of a film adaptation. Shows like Arrested Development and even Party Down creator Rob Thomas’ Veronica Mars have gone through the same process. Also traditionally, despite the fact that the DVD sales raise a lot of studio eyebrows, the film version never comes to fruition. Could Party Down change all of that? Probably not, but they’re going to try.

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There’s a new romantic comedy in the works, and the cast that it’s assembled so far is an awesome mix of people I love from Judd Apatow shows, people I love from Party Down, and girls that I have crushes on (with some Mad Men connections thrown in for good measure). Save the Date is based on characters from the graphic novels of Jeffrey Brown. Brown’s comic work is smaller, more autobiographical than the super hero stuff that typically gets adapted from the world of sequential art. This story is about two sisters, one who is relatively unconcerned about the future and is therefore dating a musician, and another who is obsessed with planning her upcoming wedding down to every detail. Michael Mohan will be co-writing with Brown and directing. But that’s not really the exciting part of this news for me. The exciting part is the cast.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr puts on a wizard’s robe, wears a colorful scarf and dances around in the woods with his magic wand yelling, “Stupify!” And that’s just to celebrate the release of Fair Game in his home town. He also takes a look at this little independent film that few people have even heard of, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I. Sadly, a bizarre mishap with his wizarding skills causes a boulder to fall on his hand and pin him for 93 minutes, which was actually quite fortunate because it gave him just enough time to watch 127 Hours.

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Party Down

When only 74,000 people watch your second season finale, you can’t exactly count on being renewed. Such is the case for the creators of Party Down, the latest in a long line of great comedy shows canceled before they were able to reach their prime. After two gloriously offbeat seasons, Starz has decided not to renew the Adam Scott and Ken Marino-led show. And while it disappoints me, as a fan of the show, to see it go, it’s clear that this was the inevitable endgame.

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A guide with a new challenge everyday to drag you, willfully kicking and screaming, from the rut that you’re in. Sing a song, throw something you love away, write to the Pope. If you follow the book’s instructions, you’re promised 365 new experiences.

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We don’t exactly cover short films at festivals. Someday, perhaps. But not now. However, there are a few longer-form short films playing at this year’s festival — Spike Jonze’s red hot Sundance short I’m Here and the very interesting short from Holden Abigail Osbore, Solitary. Joining these two films in this category — which is called Medium Cool: 3 (not so) Shorts (awesome name) — is Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Successful Alcoholics.

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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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