Mark Duplass

Radius-TWC

The definition of spoiler used to be pretty black-and-white. Back in the summer of 1980, was it a spoiler telling someone Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father? Without a doubt. How about telling someone Bruce Willis is actually a ghost in the 1999 film The Sixth Sense? Absolutely. Or what about in 2001 how Captain Leo Davidson discovers the Apes inexplicably took over the Earth in Tim Burton’s remake of Planet of the Apes? Nobody probably cared in that case, but the point stands. Lately, for some, the definition of “spoiler” has altered, mainly because people have been growing increasingly spoiler sensitive over the past few years. Some people actively seek out spoilers before they see a film or a television episode, but for others the mere mention of a relatively small plot detail can be enough to send them into a rage. The most recent film to dredge up new debate on the topic is The One I Love, a new sci-fi drama starring Mark Duplass and Elizabeth Moss. The two actors play a couple, Ethan and Sophie, who have been having some relationship issues. Their marriage counselor, played by Ted Danson, suggests a getaway. He tells them of a beautiful retreat that’s helped rekindle various other marriages. Ethan and Sophie agree to go. This all happens in the first 14 minutes. At the 15 minute mark, something strange happens. Some consider saying even that much to be a spoiler, let alone actually identifying what the strange thing is, but here’s the issue at hand: That “thing” is the set up of […]

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They say bartenders make great therapists, but does that still apply long after the bar has been sold and the bartender has moved on? Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) would probably say no after their couples therapist (Ted Danson) sends them on a very strange weekend retreat. The married couple arrives at the prescribed destination to find that the grounds — including a main house, guest house and numerous gardens — are theirs and theirs alone for the weekend. Well, kind of. It seems that part of the good doctor’s plan to help the couple work towards becoming better versions of themselves, and in the process become a better couple, involves a very unique way of facing and experiencing those better selves. The One I Love is about some very universal feelings and themes — ones we’ve all experienced in real life and seen portrayed onscreen — but it presents them in refreshingly original, engaging and entertaining ways. I’m being vague here for those that want to go in fresh, but fair warning, I’ll be revealing a little bit more after the jump. (Still nothing that legitimately counts as a spoiler though.)

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True Detective

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Fantasia 2014

Fantasia International Film Festival 2014 runs July 17 to August 6. Follow all of our coverage here. We’ve all been there. Up late perusing Craigslist you come across a request for something you’re pretty sure you can do for the money being offered, but when you actually get there you realize that “eating spotted dick” isn’t always a reference to pudding. The point is the internet is a scary place and in need of better regulation. Aaron (Patrick Brice) appears to be learning this the hard way when he responds to an ad looking for a videographer for a day’s shoot at a semi-remote cabin. He arrives and meets the man who hired him, Josef (Mark Duplass), who proceeds to explain the job. Josef has cancer, and with a baby on the way (and inspired by Michael Keaton in My Life) he wants to record a day with himself that can be shared with the child after he’s gone. Seems easy enough, but Aaron immediately senses something is a bit off with Josef. And you will too. Creep is a miraculous mash-up of found footage and mumblecore that by all rights should be the most unappealing thing caught on video since, well, pick just about anything involving a Kardashian. Instead it’s a smart and charismatic film that walks a fine line between thriller and comedy by constantly shifting and subverting expectations. Our experience with the genre tells us the film is about to zig but Duplass and Brice zag instead. It’s a wonderfully unsettling experience that you […]

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The One I Love trailer

The One I Love premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and it did so to quite a bit of acclaim. Critics saw it as an intelligent and neatly wound little romance — one that happened to be built around a swirling black hole of weirdness. You see, The One I Love has a twist (over at Film.com, our own Kate Erbland wrote that “the film is brisk, funny, smart, and artful, a strong pairing of high concept and relatable storylines”). And the film’s trailer, which dropped today, is more than happy to tell you all about it. “Oh, such a twist it is,” the trailer croons, twirling whatever the movie trailer equivalent is of an elaborate mustache. “You’ve never seen anything like it. It’s revolutionary, I dare say.” Meanwhile, the characters all refer to it in nearly every string of dialogue, while the blurbs praise its Charlie Kaufman-esque ingenuity. The trailer is seriously set on this twist. It just won’t tell us what it is.

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Warner Bros.

Tammy (Melissa McCarthy) is having a pretty bad day. Her car is totaled in a hit and run incident with a deer (the animal hit her then ran), she’s fired from her job at a fast food joint and she comes home early to find her husband is cheating on her with a neighbor. Even worse than catching them in bed together she walks in on them enjoying a lovely meal that he cooked — something he never did for Tammy — so she packs a bag and decides to hit the road. It’s a difficult decision to commit to when you don’t have a car, so she reluctantly takes her liquor-loving Grandma Pearl (Susan Sarandon) along for the ride in exchange for a vehicle and a wad of cash. The two head to Niagara Falls, but trouble hits almost immediately forcing Tammy to face her history of bad decisions head-on. Laws will be broken, crotches will be grabbed and things will explode. Tammy is not a great comedy. It’s not even a good one really, and if I had to toss an adjective its way to describe the quality of comedy on display I’d go with “okay.” That’s unfortunate for several reasons, not the least of which being that the film is a collaboration between McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone, who directed and co-wrote the film with her. The bigger disappointment though is seeing the unusual and appreciated elements of their script and lead character — and the promise of […]

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The One I Love

Speaking yesterday from his second home at Sundance, Mark Duplass was direct about the catalyst for his success: “Getting yourself into theaters is great. Getting a big VOD pop is great, but my first movie made a grand total of $220,000 in theaters but about 5 million people have seen it on Netflix because they can click on it and they can try it out. And so I really recommend to get your get goddamn movie on Netflix. It made my career.” It’s difficult to see the flaw in Duplass’ logic here, especially since most indie filmmakers would be thrilled to see any kind of distribution online, let alone on a platform that commands 34 million members. However, it could be a boon to the network itself, and Netflix would be wise to piggyback on the comments to tell indie filmmakers, “Get your goddamn movie on us.” Except more eloquently. Maybe less creepy.

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review black rock

Here’s the thing. If your movie is going to feature two attractive women, completely nude, my first reaction shouldn’t be to laugh. And my second reaction most definitely shouldn’t be to hope they get dressed as soon as possible. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Black Rock is a new thriller with a fairly unusual pedigree. Katie Aselton (The League) stars and directs from a script by her traditionally light-hearted husband, Mark Duplass, and the resulting film is an occasionally successful hybrid of character piece and generic slasher. It essentially drops well-written characters into a highly traditional genre scenario, and while the combination has its benefits it also allows for more than a few issues.

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Jeremy Renner

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting news round-up that’s for some reason talking a lot about suicide today. Um…enjoy your weekend, everybody! Tired of Jeremy Renner playing the angry little tough guy in all his movies? Then maybe his next project, Kill The Messenger, is what you’ve been waiting for. Deadline confirms that Renner will be starring in this Michael Cuesta-directed feature that tells the true story of Gary Webb, a journalist who was the victim of a CIA smear campaign after he wrote articles accusing the organization of arming rebels in Nicaragua and aiding with the smuggling of cocaine into California. The mounting pressure of said smear campaign eventually got to the point where Webb took his own life, so don’t expect Renner to go into a rage and shoot his way out of this one. Instead, expect to see yourself leaving the theater puffy-faced and pretending that you’re not crying.

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Black Rock Trailer

As if relations between the sexes weren’t strained enough already, along comes Black Rock, a new thriller from writer Mark Duplass (from everything) and director Katie Aselton (The Freebie) that looks like it’s going to fan the flames further, ensuring that we get at least another year of clueless nincompoops publicly declaring their unsettling opinions about rape. The basic story follows three ladies (Aselton, Lake Bell, and Kate Bosworth) who trek out to an isolated island where they used to have camping trips when they were young; you know, to rekindle lost youth or something. When they’re out there though, the island proves to not be as isolated as they thought. They happen upon a group of three very male hunters (Will Bouvier, Jay Paulson, and Anslem Richardson), one of the ladies gets a little frisky with a bearded gentleman around the campfire, and then he gets way handsy and his buddies suddenly turn super-psychotic. While it doesn’t seem like this story ever reaches Straw Dogs or I Spit on Your Grave levels of grossness, things then degenerate into a battle of survival between the sexes that seems to have more than a little bit of that revenge movie/backwoods horror vibe crossed with a smidge of the Surviving the Game/Hunger Games man-being-hunted trope.

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You know how clumsy puppies can’t help but be adorable, even when  they do awful things? Basset Hound pups are a prime example. Their feet are too big, they trip over their own floppy ears, and even if they eat the legs off your sofa, it’s whatever. All a Basset puppy has to do is look at you and you’re halfway over it. Writer/director Alex Kurtzman‘s People Like Us is almost like that – forgivably clumsy when it’s falling all over itself and wrecking things, but cute in spite of itself. …except for that whole almost-incest thing. Holy crap, that thing. People Like Us is the story of Sam (Chris Pine), a fast-talking dealer of anything with no use and a past-due expiration date. He’s the Jerry Maguire of selling people bullshit – and entirely unpleasant when we meet him. When one of Sam’s underhanded business deeds comes back to bite him, his boss, played by a skeez-tastic Jon Favreau, gives it to Sam straight – make up for the lost cash, or an unhappy client is reporting them both to the FTC.

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The Do-Deca-Pentathalon

The Duplass Brothers got into making movies by making movies. Some called it Mumblecore, but it should really be called The Nike Method. Their latest, The Do-Deca-Pentathalon features two brothers locked in an epic (yet secretive) sporting event that they take exactly as seriously as it needs to be taken. But as Mark and Jay Duplass explain in this interview, no matter the type of movie they make, they’ll always focus on the small moments and emotions that arise from them. One example? Battleship. If given the blockbuster, here’s how the pair would have delivered the littoral explosion-fest

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Editor’s note: With Your Sister’s Sister beginning its limited roll-out this week, we thought it best to re-run Robert Levin’s sterling Sundance review of the film, already a Reject favorite. This review was originally published on January 28, 2012. Your Sister’s Sister is perhaps the most high-concept movie I saw at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, but it’s also one of the funniest and most heartfelt. Sometimes, a precise, discernible pitch really does have potential. And after this film and Humpday (in which two straight male friends decide to make an amateur porn film together), writer-director Lynn Shelton is fast establishing herself as one of the independent film world’s masters of such fare. Her new picture parallels pensive shots of the pristine, misty splendor of the Pacific Northwest with the story of three lonely, likable locals who are searching for happiness. Mark Duplass stars as the directionless Jack, struggling to cope with the recent death of his brother. Emily Blunt plays Jack’s best friend Iris, who is also his brother’s former girlfriend. To clear his head, she offers him the run of her family’s vacation home on a picturesque island off the Washington coast. Iris’s half-sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) is already there, though, looking to escape a trauma of her own: the end of a seven-year relationship. A drunken night with Jack leads to hilariously awkward sex and, eventually, serious consequences when Iris unexpectedly shows up the next day.

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Editor’s note: With Safety Not Guaranteed beginning its limited release roll-out today, we thought to share our SXSW review again. This review was originally posted on March 14, 2012, and it’s much safer to read than anything you might find on Craigs List. The want ad is simple. A partner is needed to travel backward in time. It will be dangerous, it will be an adventure, and their safety will not be guaranteed. A magazine writer convinces his editor that there’s a goofy human interest story in the ad and gathers together two interns for a trip north to Seattle in the hopes of meeting the ad’s owner. What they discover is that not all time travel involves machines, portals or HG Wells chasing Jack the Ripper through modern day San Francisco. Sometimes all it needs are heads and hearts refusing to let go of the past. Director Colin Trevorrow‘s feature debut is just as likely to make you laugh out loud as it is to make you tear up in hopeful anticipation. The concept of time travel is the catalyst for a story that examines the idea of returning to an earlier time in our lives when things were better and our futures were still bright. Or at least, that’s how we remember things.

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Sports are an important part of childhood. They teach kids to work hard, they foster a spirit of healthy competition, they promote teamwork, and they give millions of people all over the world a dream to shoot for. At least, that’s the theory. They did nothing of the sort for brothers Jeremy (Mark Kelly) and Mark (Steve Zissis). These guys are out of shape, egotistical, they view competition only as an opportunity to put each other down, and there’s no chance athletics are taking either of them anywhere beyond their own back yards. They’re neurotic idiots, and the center of their neuroses are a series of games they’ve been playing against each other since they were kids called the Do-Deca-Pentathlon. This new film from writer/director brother duo Mark and Jay Duplass asks us to take pleasure in watching them behave badly. By now most people have an idea of who Mark and Jay Duplass are. They started off making very small movies that they acted in themselves and with their friends. They then went on to make more mainstream movies like Cyrus and Jeff, Who Lives at Home, but without compromising their indie aesthetic or their penchant for getting loosely scripted, improvisation heavy performances out of their actors.

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Jay and Mark Duplass cut their teeth in the film world writing and directing weird, super-indie movies like The Puffy Chair and Baghead, and have only more recently started tipping their toes ever so slightly into the mainstream with works like Cyrus and Jeff, Who Lives at Home. So it comes as a bit of a surprise that Deadline Metairie is reporting the brothers have taken a job writing a film for Todd Phillips, king of the mainstream comedy. Especially since the brothers are famous for writing loose scripts that are heavy on improvisational acting, and this particular job requires that they adapt a novel. Let’s back up a bit. Back in February it was announced that Todd Phillips had renewed his first look agreement with Warner Bros., and there were a number of projects mentioned that he might be developing for the studio. One of them was called Mule, and was an adaptation of a Tony D’Souza novel of the same name. Amazon describes D’Souza’s book by saying: “James and Kate are golden children of the late twentieth century, flush with opportunity. But an economic downturn and an unexpected pregnancy send them searching for a way to make do. A friend in California’s Siskiyou County grows prime-grade marijuana; if James transports just one load from Cali to Florida, he’ll pull down enough cash to survive for months. And so begins the life of a mule.”

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Editor’s note: With Darling Companion opening this week in limited release, we thought we’d unleash Dustin’s review from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, originally posted on January 30, for you to take a bite out of. Woof. The opening night film at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival has always been a walk-away; generally an under-cooked indie with no distribution and little shot at getting into general theaters. So why kick a film when it’s down? There’s not a lot of value in heaping negative criticism on a new filmmaker who will likely go on to bigger and better things with more experience. That said, the 27th year of Santa Barbara’s festival brought a heavyweight opening night player in writer/director/producer Lawrence Kasdan, and his Sony Pictures Classics distributed Darling Companion. Basically, fair game. Darling Companion is the story of Beth Winters (Diane Keaton), her spine surgeon husband Joseph (Kevin Kline), and the dog that  brings them together. Or at least, it tries to be about them while clumsily pulling viewers into unnecessary side stories that aren’t particularly interesting. The film suffers on every level, but prominent among its faults is an odd pace that steals away any reason to invest in any of the characters, the spotty narrative, or the wholly expected and unsatisfying ending.

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There are a good number of reasons to get excited for Your Sister’s Sister, not the least of which is that our own Robert Levin saw it at Sundance and ended up enjoying it quite a bit. The biggest reason to get excited today, however, is the release of the film’s trailer. Taking place in the gorgeous scenery of the Pacific Northwest, Your Sister’s Sister tells the tale of a depressed gent (Mark Duplass) who gets sent away by his best friend (Emily Blunt) to her family’s island cabin. Hijinx ensue when Blunt’s equally depressed sister (Rosemarie DeWitt) is unexpectedly already at said cabin, and some drunken sexy time commences. Drama ensues when Blunt shows up the next day, also unexpectedly, and everyone has to work through a tangled web of complex interpersonal relationships and suppressed feelings.

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Writer Alex Kurtzman‘s (Star Trek) directorial debut People Like Us looks to be a sobering yet bright drama about a previously estranged family being glued back together by the will of an absentee father. It stars Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mark Duplass and Jon Favreau. As far as trailers go, this one is a winner. It’s engaging, evocative and the talent oozes right out of the edit. Check it out for yourself:

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Here’s how it is (and how I suspect it’s going to be) – we love Colin Treverrow‘s Safety Not Guaranteed ’round these parts, and we think you might love it, too. The film debuted at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and while I was not as effusive in my praise for it as Rob Hunter was when it played at SXSW last month, I have not been able to stop thinking about it, and do agree with Rob’s assessment that it’s warm, witty, and wonderful. Hell, we even threw this time travel love story into our Best Movies of SXSW 2012 list, and Hunter and I gabbed about it on Reject Radio. See? Love. Based on a true story (read: based on a want ad placed in a paper), the film follows Jake Johnson‘s cocky journalist who drags two interns (Aubrey Plaza and Karan Soni) into the search for a man who has placed an ad looking for someone to travel through time with him. Again. Because he’s done it before – though he can’t guarantee, you know, safety. What they find is Mark Duplass, a man who already more than a little off, with his time travel beliefs not doing him too many favors. But more than just the discovery of Duplass’s Kenneth, the group discovers, wait for it, much more about themselves. No, really. At the heart of that is an unexpected and consistently charming romance between Plaza and Duplass that should melt even the darkest of hearts. […]

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published: 12.23.2014
B+
published: 12.22.2014
C-
published: 12.19.2014
A-


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