Miles Teller

Miles Teller and JK Simmons in Whiplash

Do you miss the days when J.K. Simmons was a sadistic, sociopath prison rapist? Nowadays, he’s not so much into the dangerous manipulation and sex abuse – not when there’s a steady line of cop, military and general “authority figure” roles that let Simmons speak to us with his particular manner of sarcastic wisdom. But all those lectures on what we don’t know about our insurance have gotten a little stale. It’s time for Simmons to reclaim his rightful place on the “please stop screaming at me, sir” throne. He’ll do so with Whiplash, this year’s Sundance darling that stars Miles Teller as a young jazz drummer who just wants to make it big, man, and Simmons as the big man who will guide Teller to his dreams of being the next Buddy Rich. Oh, and Simmons’ preferred method of musical instruction is screaming so close to your face that his saliva strands brush your eyelashes. That’s the twist with Whiplash. Unlike most films where a character is super good at playing some kind of instrument, music isn’t the all-enlightening force that will right our hero’s wrongs and provide that outlet for creative expression that lets us know how deep and yet also flawed he is. Here, music is a platform for the scary bald man to beat you, then threaten much worse: he’ll “gut you like a pig” if all drumming is not perfect from now until the sweet release of death. Watch the new trailer for the movie below.

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Movie musicals

Hollywood’s current movie musical landscape is, well, a pretty flat one (get it? landscape? musical? flat?). This year is surprisingly rich with musical offerings — four musically-tinged features (The Muppets Most Wanted, Jersey Boys, Annie and Into the Woods) will have hit theaters by the time the year ends, while 2013 only had one, 2012 had three and 2011 had a single entry — but despite that apparent upswing in musical feature films, none of them offer what the genre so desperately needs: an original and contemporary musical with a big romantic spin. Sure, the romantic genre is already floundering at the box office as is, thanks to the consistent wealth of Nicholas Sparks films (which, yes, all feel the same) and the lack of more traditional romantic comedies (which isn’t a bad thing, really, as long as Nancy Meyers keeps making fizzy stuff and we aren’t subjected to another bloated holiday feature, like Arbor Day or similar), but that means that there should be more room for some different spins (and twists and turns) on what constitutes a romantic film. There’s nothing more romantic than singing and dancing, right? So there’s shouldn’t be anything more cinematically romantic than an all-singing, all-dancing movie musical, right? Hollywood needs to be making more, and while they haven’t started just yet, that might be changing very soon.

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The Thing from The Fantastic Four: Rise of Silver Surfer

We’ve known for a while that Michael B. Jordan was going to bring his charm to The Fantastic Four reboot due next year from director Josh Trank, and now Variety has confirmed that The Human Torch will have some friends. Kate Mara will play The Invisible Girl, Miles Teller has been offered the role of Mr. Fantastic and Jamie Bell is expected to get the offer to play The Thing. The obvious takeaway is that this is more like The Abercrombie & Fitchtastic Four, but it’s at least a little encouraging to see an interesting shift away from the decade-old franchise incarnation. Will any casting matter while the film is under Fox’s roof? Maybe not. They haven’t exactly had a strong track record when it comes to superheroes. But in a world full of middle-aged people wearing spandex, it’ll be refreshing to see things tack a little younger. And just for fun, here are the new Fantastic Four members in their most recent projects. It should provide some — confusing — context. Squint and see if you can spot the powers:

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review that awkward moment

Women, amirite? One minute you’re entering them from behind, and the next they’re asking you just where this relationship is heading. Jason (Zac Efron) is so familiar with it he’s taken to calling the moment ‘the so,’ as in “so, what are we doing here?” Happily though he’s mastered the clean pull-out and sees no reason to change his behavior anytime soon. Daniel (Miles Teller) isn’t quite the same level of player, but he still enjoys building and tending to his roster of girls. Their friend Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) has left the game behind and married his college sweetheart, but that’s where the trouble begins. Mikey’s wife reveals that not only is she having an affair with a man who looks like Morris Chestnut, but she’s also filing for divorce. In an effort towards solidarity, Jason and Daniel join him in a promise and a pact that they’ll all remain single and avoid relationships. But then Jason meets Ellie (Imogen Poots), Daniel starts to fall for his “wing man” Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis), and Mikey? He’s hoping to win his wife back. That Awkward Moment offers a glimpse into the world of twenty-something guys hanging out with friends, looking for interchangeable tail, and avoiding the types of girls who inevitably want more than just a mutually rewarding night of fornication. This would be fine if the film was attempting some kind of commentary, managed any degree of character depth, or achieved the mix of playful rom-com and Judd Apatow raunch […]

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review whiplash

Some people are content simply doing things. Work, art, music. The act alone justifies the time spent before the next thing comes along that captures their interest and affection. But for others, the idea of contentment is a foreign concept left behind in the urgent march forward to be the absolute best. These are the greats, the ones the rest of us know by name or by the images/sounds they create. Andrew (Miles Teller) wants to be one of those greats. His focus is drumming, jazz drumming in particular, and his immediate goal is to catch the ear of the Schaffer Music Academy’s legendary professor, Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). The man makes and breaks musicians, but his method of channeling R. Lee Ermey’s meaner cousin threatens to destroy Andrew’s dream before it even begins. Whiplash is a percussive thriller that drops viewers into the middle of an obsession, one that assaults the eyes and ears with a painful beauty and the occasional misstep before reaching an incredibly invigorating finale. Equal parts suspense and musical drama, the film is a blistering experience.

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Anyone who saw his performance as a charming young drunk earlier this year in James Ponsoldt’s phenomenal The Spectacular Now has to be primed to get some more Miles Teller in their life. Well, there’s good news and even better news on that front. The good news is that he’s got a new comedy coming out soon called That Awkward Moment. The even better news is that a red band trailer for the film has been released, and we’ve got an embed of it right here. That Awkward Moment sees Teller teaming up with Zac Efron and Michael B. Jordan as a trio of hard-partying friends who all make a pact that they won’t get into serious relationships right around the time that each of them meets a girl who is just the sort of lady they’ve always dreamt about. You know, they’re the types of girls who you could get into one of those extra-special relationships, where you’re basically the same height, so your crotches line up when you lay next to each other, with. Anyway, That Awkward Moment seems like it has a handful of gags that land, its three leads are all real charmers, and it also includes a parade of comely young actresses like Imogen Poots, Addison Timlin, and Jessica Lucas who cycle through the story—but the real reason you’re probably going to want to click through and watch the trailer is to see Efron naked and trying to pee while he has a boner. We […]

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miles teller moonlighters

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. Ever since his breakthrough supporting role in 2010′s Rabbit Hole, Miles Teller has been on a sharp rise towards stardom. Major parts in the Footloose remake, Project X and this year’s 21 & Over could have been career choices of any young actor looking to quickly fill his Hollywood resume, but he’s been earning notice for his talents even when appearing in so-so movies. The skill has paid off the most so far with The Spectacular Now, an indie teen romance that debuted at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, where he and co-star Shailene Woodley collectively won the festival’s dramatic acting award. With the film now in theaters, audiences are getting to see why he deserved the honor and why we can expect great things from him in next year’s Divergent adaptation and beyond. Before Rabbit Hole hit theaters, Teller had starred in four short films, filling the lead role of each. I’ve seen the three that are available online — Jesse Newman’s Moonlighters (2004) and A Very Specific Recipe (2007) and Eric Laplante’s The Track Meet (2010) — and I can say he outshines the rest of the cast in every one and can actually be witnessed growing as an actor along the way. In the first, then-17-year-old Teller plays a kid who gets dumped by his longtime girlfriend and then attempts to rob her house […]

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james

The protagonist of director James Pondsoldt‘s new film is an alcoholic.  The other characters in The Spectacular Now may not point that out, but why would they? Nobody in high school thinks of any teenaged partier as an alcoholic, and Pondsoldt sets the film directly from that perspective. More so than with his previous film, Smashed, with The Spectacular Now Pondsoldt deals with a destructive main character. The protagonist in Smashed (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wasn’t actually hurting anyone besides herself. We see the opposite in The Spectacular Now. This isn’t a coming-of-age movie where the nerdy kid comes out of his shell because some hip girl takes an interest in him. It’s one where he maybe breaks out of that shell a little too late while hurting others in the process. Keep reading to see what director James Pondsoldt had to say about crafting an authentic high school experience for Sutter Keely (Miles Teller) and his audience.

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Editor’s note: Allison’s review of The Spectacular Now originally ran during this year’s Sundance Film Festival, but we’re posting it again as the film opens this week in limited release. There are two kinds of people who go to high school: those who love every second of it, and those who cannot wait to get out. In The Spectacular Now, Sutter Keely (Miles Teller) is a charming screw-up who falls in the first group, but he is also acutely aware that this is the best time of his life. And he is living that life to the fullest, embracing and living in every moment, but unfortunately doing so with a super-size booze-filled slurpee clutched in his grasp at every turn. When he sits down to start writing his college essay (pulling on a PBR as he does), he uses the question about the biggest hardship he has had to overcome to unload about his recent break up. After yet another party and another night getting loaded, Sutter finds himself waking up on the lawn of Aimee (Shailene Woodley), a pretty girl from his school that he has never quite noticed before because she does not have a specific “thing” that defines her from the pack.

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spectacularnow

Sometime around the mid-nineties, the classic high school-set coming-of-age movie shrugged off its emotional resonance and turned into a genre marked by nonsensical dance scenes (She’s All That), poorly-adapted takes on Shakespeare plays (Get Over It), perfectly-adapted takes on Jane Austen novels (Clueless, and no, I will never apologize for my love for Clueless), cheerleader-driven narratives (Bring It On), and embarrassing outings that even James Franco wants to expunge from his resume (Whatever It Takes). Yet, slowly, the influence of such genre heroes as Cameron Crowe and John Hughes is bubbling back up, and the possibility that the real, sweet, funny, dramatic, and honest high school film isn’t dead just yet seems stronger than ever. As someone who grew up on a steady, TBS-fed diet of Crowe and Hughes films, the resurrection of the great coming-of-age production is music (Peter Gabriel, naturally) to my ears. A recent example of the rise of the emotionally rich teen movie? The Spectacular Now, a film that I’ve thought about consistently and affectionately since catching it back in January at Sundance. In support of the upcoming theatrical release of James Ponsoldt’s Sundance favorite, Landmark Theaters (along with one Angelika in NYC and the independent Los Feliz theater in LA) have curated a special screening series that they are calling “The Spectacular Classics.” Basically, it’s a month-long screening series of classic coming-of-age films that, in one way or another, influenced the new Shailene Woodley- and Miles Teller-starring film. It sounds like a very fun event […]

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spectacularnow

On its surface, The Spectacular Now looks like any other teenage drama you’ve ever seen. It’s about confused young people who fall in love, make mistakes, and generally just live in abject terror of the future. If word of mouth can be believed though, this is a movie that has a couple of tricks up its sleeve—a couple of tricks that keep it from being the same old, forgettable teenage drama that everybody always makes. Okay, so they’re not so much tricks as they are two of the more promising young actors who have hit Hollywood in the past few years: Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley. Not only have these two already shown us that they have quite a bit to offer in movies like Rabbit Hole and The Descendants, but they both won the Special Jury Award for Acting at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and it was for the performances they give in this very film. Intrigued? Then click through to see what everyone was raving about back in January.

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review 21 and over

Somewhere along the line R-rated comedies found themselves overrun with dicks. Not real ones, although there’s too goddamn many of those these days too, but instead I’m talking about the lead characters who cause a film’s “comedic” and consequence-free conflict without concern for the welfare of anyone or anything else only to be rewarded for their efforts with audience laughs and a happy ending. Say hello to the pricks at the center of the new film, 21 & Over. Miller (Miles Teller) and Casey (Skylar Astin) arrive on the campus of Northern Pacific University intent on surprising their good friend Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) for his 21st birthday. The plan is to take him out to celebrate, “fuck him with alcohol” and have him back home in time for his demanding father to take him to a med school interview in the morning. Of course the night goes almost immediately awry as Jeff Chang ends up imbibing ludicrous amounts of alcohol, peeing on a few girls, puking (in slow motion) atop a mechanical bull, passing out and being generally abused by friends and strangers alike. His meant-to-be-hilarious state of unconsciousness and inebriation leaves the other two stuck trying to find their way back to his house and encountering all manner of wacky interruptions and obstacles along the way.

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Snow

It is time to say goodbye. Some of us have already left, some of us have a few more days, but the festival is officially winding down as quickly as the brief snowfall from two days ago is melting on the ground. (I’m getting deep, y’all, get ready.) The end of Sundance is always bittersweet; you are ready to get back home, but at the same time the idea of leaving friends, movies, and popcorn (okay, that’s not true — we are all more than sick of the popcorn) is sad. The final few days of the festival are always a bit different since the pack of people you know has whittled down and the majority of the movies have been watched. I started the day actually getting to sleep in (even I don’t understand how I pulled this off) and these extra few hours somehow helped me stay alert enough to take things in as I went through the day, a task I have never been able to attempt before due to exhaustion and the perpetual “end of the fest” daze. I spent the morning working at the Bloggeratti Condo and relishing the fact that I can crack jokes and fact check with colleagues in person instead of over social media (although Eric Snider and William Goss’s jokes are hilarious both in person and on the Internet).

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Kid Cudi

Generally people in the hip hop world like to be seen as more than just rappers, or DJs, or whatever. In order to make it big in the hip hop world you have to be seen as a triple, quadruple, or fivetuple threat. So seeing as he’s already branched out from making hip hop, to producing hip hop, to having a rock band, to acting in TV’s How to Make It in America, Kid Cudi (aka Scott Mescudi) should be well on his way to being the next big mogul, especially now that he’s taking his acting career further by seeking out film roles. The latest part he’s landed is in debut director Max Nichol’s upcoming romantic comedy Two Night Stand, which tells the story of two people who agree to have a sleazy one night stand finding themselves put in the awkward position of being snowed in and having to spend more time together. No, Cudi isn’t playing the lead—as a matter of fact his role as the boyfriend of the female protagonist’s best friend doesn’t sound like it will probably amount to much screen time at all—but there are a couple x-factors here that point to the fact that Two Night Stand might be the perfect vehicle for Cudi to dip his toe into the film world and show off what he has to offer as a comedic actor.

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Let us hope that this announcement ushers in a new wave of talented romantic comedy stars that people actually want to watch fall in love on screen. Variety reports that rising stars Analeigh Tipton (Damsels in Distress, Crazy, Stupid, Love.) and Miles Teller (Rabbit Hole, Footloose, the upcoming The Spectacular Now) will star in Max Nichols‘ feature debut Two Night Stand. The film comes from Mark Hammer‘s 2011 Black List script of the same name, which centers on a pair of non-lovebirds trapped together by a sudden blizzard after an ill-advised one night stand. Back when the film appeared on the Black List, it came with the somewhat extended logline: “After an extremely regrettable one night stand, two strangers wake up to find themselves snowed in after sleeping through a blizzard that put all of Manhattan on ice. They’re now trapped together in a tiny apartment, forced to get to know each other way more than any one night stand should.”

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According to a press release, CBS Films has rounded up a fantastic cast for the upcoming movie Get A Job – which taps into the zeitgeist with frightening precision to tell the story of a group of college graduates struggling to find work alongside a father who is, surprise, also trying to find work. Why is it so exciting? For one, Bryan Cranston will be playing that father. For two, it’s being directed by Dylan Kidd – who may not be a household name, but should be after his hip indie flick Roger Dodger which paired a young Jesse Eisenberg with a brilliant Campbell Scott. For three, the rest of the cast features Anna Kendrick, Miles Teller (Rabbit Hole, Project X, How’s that for diversity?), Alison Brie, Brandon T. Jackson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Nick Braun, and comedian Jay Pharaoh. That’s three great reasons to get excited about this project. Some are even multi-partite. That’s how serious this is. Also, Pharaoh’s character is named Skeezy D, so there is clearly genius at work here. Great to see CBS Films pull something excellent out of the hat here.

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Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr grabs his camcorder and tries to find the biggest all-night party in Pasadena, filled with slutty, dancing high school girls who looks amazingly like they’re in their early twenties. Of course, he never finds that because this sort of 15-year-old wet dream fantasy doesn’t exist. So he sets his sights on finding something far more realistic than any of the events that take place in Project X: the short, hairy peanut with a mustache and Danny DeVito’s voice known as The Lorax.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr gets ready to celebrate Halloween in style with some horror releases… and he’s not just thinking of Footloose. Unhappy with his life, he follows the bucket list path of Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black, traveling to the bottom of the world where he finds himself in a small Antarctic town that has outlawed dancing. So Kevin takes it upon himself to help the people get their groove on only to discover they’ve been taken over an alien species that duplicate human form. Later, he takes a trip back to the heartland where he finds a feral woman chained in a cellar… pretty standard for some of the towns he’s been to. Finally, not being able to find a theater that is still playing Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence), he checks it out On Demand and promptly throws up.

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When Craig Brewer was announced to direct the Footloose remake, there were a more than a few heads being scratched. The director behind the fantastic Hustle & Flow as well as the excellent fable Black Snake Moan taking on material which is considered by most to be cheesy was a surface-level surprise. But once you dig deep into the original, there are more than a few themes that tie to Brewer’s work — expressing yourself through art, family issues, sexuality, etc. There are some mature themes in the original. Themes that didn’t quite hit their mark. However, Brewer managed to make those themes fly. The 1984 film had major tonal issues. After witnessing Chris Penn have a five-minute dance montage, you see Ariel (now played by Julianne Hough) get beaten by her boyfriend. Dance montages and girlfriend beatings usually don’t go hand in hand, tonally speaking. This time around, there’s a real care for tone. Footloose is a movie that has its cake and eats it too. Apologies for that dreadful expression, but it’s true. It strives for a seriousness, which is earned. Brewer also aims to make a great crowd-pleaser, and that’s where the film exceeds wonderfully. As someone who despises not only High School kids, but also dancing, I never thought I’d say, “That’s cool,” when the two joined forces.

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Rabbit Hole takes on one of the oldest artistic subjects – a family’s struggle to find some way of moving on from a devastating death. Yet, as adapted by David Lindsay-Abaire from his own Pulitzer Prize-winning play, the film avoids the overt sentimentalizing and easy stabs at the tear ducts –what one might deem “grief porn” – that have wrecked so many of its predecessors. Instead, director John Cameron Mitchell has assembled an affecting, well-acted portrait of a couple stuck in stasis, trying to reclaim normalcy where there is none to be had. The Hedwig and the Angry Inch creator demonstrates an eye for the intricacies of a strained relationship, the complex psychological burden of the lingering, pervasive specter of a terrible loss and the eerie quality of a home once occupied by a child, now hauntingly quieted.

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