Olivia Thirlby

Drinking Games

The 90s were good in some ways. Other ways, not so much. The odious Sylvester Stallone version of Judge Dredd was one way the 90s kind of sucked. Fortunately, we have a new Judge available on DVD and Blu-ray. Dredd brings back the hard-boiled character in his full violent glory. With Karl Urban playing the lead role – and not being afraid to stay within his helmet for the whole film – Dredd delivers on R-rated violence and gore. And it doesn’t hurt to have Olivia Thirlby at his side. While Dredd is dispensing justice, dispense yourself a few beers and enjoy the film.

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Dredd

Karl Urban is the law. And finally, that’s something that matters. Since 1995, the only world we’ve ever known for the character of Judge Dredd, the motorcycle-riding judicial system created by the British writer/artist team of John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra in the late 1970s, has been the overly silly vanity project starring Sly Stallone in 1995. Stallone’s Dredd was, at best, a parody of the original comic character. And while it delivered a bit of fun at the time, history does not look fondly on the attempt. It wasn’t the film that such a character deserved, despite the unfamiliarity American audiences had with him. Enter writer Alex Garland and star Karl Urban, who set out to make Dredd 3D a worthy adaptation. For that matter, lets just forget the past and say what really matters: Enter Dredd. The real one.

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Dredd 3D

“Judge Dredd” started as a comic book series in 1977 and eventually became so long-lived and popular that it spawned a really bad film adaptation in 1995. Get that movie out of your head now – pretend like it never happened – because Dredd 3D is a completely new take on the character; one the values hard-hitting action over comic book camp, one that has no interest in wacky side kicks or studio mandated love interests. The story is simple: in the far future, humanity has started living in gigantic city-states the size of small countries that are densely populated and densely developed. What with so many people being piled on top of one another, poverty has run rampant, crime is ubiquitous, and street gangs rule the day. The only line of defense between innocent people and complete chaos are the Street Judges, a group of dangerous and highly trained operatives who prowl the streets on their big motorcycles while carrying their big guns, acting as judge, jury, and executioner all in one. Our story centers on a Judge who goes by the name of Dredd; he’s pretty much the most badass one.

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If there’s one thing that seems to be able to provide endless material for indie films to mine, it’s infidelity. There’s no need for special effects, fancy locations, or even big name actors to make a compelling human drama, all you have to do is set yourself up a good, old-fashioned love triangle, get a couple steamy shots of people doing it, and then take things to a place where everyone is crying a lot and yelling at each other. The results are instantly compelling, and instantly relatable to everyone watching. Nobody Walks has a leg up on your typical, indie infidelity movie for a few reasons though. Most apparent is that they actually have sprung for some big name actors. From indie darlings like Olivia Thirlby and Rosemarie Dewitt, to beloved TV stars like John Krasinski and Justin Kirk, to an up-and-comer like India Ennenga (Treme) and an old hand like Dylan McDermott, Nobody Walks is bursting at the seams with actors who you’ll recognize and have probably been impressed by at some point.

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After 1995’s Sylvester Stallone-starring take on the “Judge Dredd” comic series shit the bed and offered film and comic geeks little more than a couple of ironic quotables from a pizza delivery guy played by Rob Schneider, it didn’t seem very likely that anyone would take a shot at revisiting the property anytime soon. Seventeen years must be the statute of limitations on this one though, because here we are in 2012, getting a promotional clip for a new Karl Urban-starring take on the material called Dredd. Having reservations about this film due to past failures in translating the character to live action is understandable, but it’s starting to look like it might not be justified. Dredd recently screened for audiences at Comic-Con, and the buzz coming out of the room was that this new take on the character is much more true to the original comics. Word on the street is that this is a gritty, gory, action-packed shoot ‘em up that has way more in common with the face-punchingly awesome The Raid: Redemption than it does any Sylvester Stallone failures.

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Lena Headey in Dredd

The first trailer for Dredd – starring Karl Urban, Lena Headey and Olivia Thirlby is just a taste of the inevitable slow motion to come. In the story, Headey’s character Ma-Ma controls all the manufacturing for a new drug that makes the user feel like time is going at 1% of its normal speed. Because when you want drugs, you want something that will make your life feel 100 times longer. Instead of launching a bunch of well-made PSAs about the dangers of the drug, Judge Dredd and his rookie Judge infiltrate the highrise where Ma-Ma is operating in order to take her down. It’s Bale’s Batman with a huge helmet on. Enjoy it for yourself:

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If you’ve never seen Jonathan Ames’s recently cancelled HBO show Bored to Death, you might want to brush up on the premium cable mystery/comedy show, for costar Ted Danson recently suggested in an interview with French journalist Pierre Lenglas (according to Lenglas’s Twitter account) that a feature-length Bored to Death movie might be in the works. To be fair, nothing official has been announced and, according to Vulture, HBO qualified Danson’s statement my stating that the creators and talent of the show are only in the early stages of conversation. But with Jason Schwartzman and Zack Galifianakis rounding out the show’s cast, a Bored to Death movie might make quite a bit of sense. Bored to Death ran for three seasons from 2009-2011, and chronicled the misadventures of Jonathan Ames (Schwartzman), a struggling writer who becomes an amateur detective in order to get over being dumped by his girlfriend Suzanne (Olivia Thirlby). His best friend Ray (Galifianakis) is a deeply insecure comic book artist who struggles to maintain power in his relationship with his on-again, off-again girlfriend Leah (Heather Burns). Danson plays Ames’s boss, George Christopher, the editor of a New Yorker-style magazine and a ginormous pothead. While the show lost steam for me in its third season, Bored to Death was a clever and surprisingly warm show about the difficulties of commitment, the changes in New York City’s boroughs, the death of the printed word, and narcissism. It’s the type of show that could only have aired on HBO.

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Drinking Games

As the Christmas week movies continue to roll out on DVD and Blu-ray this spring, you’re left with plenty of holiday-themed choices after Easter, like the weepy Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and the equally rapey The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and In the Land of Blood and Honey. Why not consider some invisible killer aliens to go in with the mix. Telling the story of random survivors on the streets of Moscow after a violent interstellar invasion, The Darkest Hour gives the world hope… if your definition of hope is a dancing at a killer club scene with Speed Racer before blindly battling electric aliens. While vodka might be the obvious choice, you might want something a little more light, especially if you opt for the at-home 3D version of the film. Focus might become a problem.

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Welcome to “Another Bullshit Night in Suck City,” or perhaps more appropriately, welcome to Being Flynn, complete with its own bullshit and own suckitude. Based on writer Nick Flynn‘s memoir (you know, the one called “Another Bullshit Night in Suck City,” as if you could forget such a title), Paul Weitz‘s film sets Paul Dano as Nick and Robert De Niro as his wayward papa, the irreverent and inappropriate Jonathan Flynn. Nick’s lived most of his life without his father, a man who has “manifested as an absence” for twentysomething years, and Nick’s been just fine with it. Relatively. Kind of. Fine – not really. But things are about to get much worse for Nick, because Jonathan is about to pop back into his life – and utterly ruin it in the process.

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Sundance 2012: Nobody Walks

The notion that nobody walks places in Los Angeles is one of the biggest L.A. clichés, right up there with the belief that Southern California is populated by beautiful sunglasses-wearing people who spend most of their time doing cocaine when they’re not driving around in their convertibles, loudly yammering about the biz. Still, based on my limited experience there (and City of Angels dwellers, feel free to correct me), the aversion to walking is actually kind of true. At the very least, the idea provides an interesting way into the cross-coastal, gender-driven culture clash at the center of Nobody Walks, a film from New Yorkers Ry Russo-Young (director and co-writer) and Lena Dunham (co-writer), about a New York filmmaker named Martine (Olivia Thirlby) who arrives in L.A. to work on a movie with married sound designer Peter (John Krasinski) and to stay with his family at their home in Silver Lake, in part because she doesn’t drive.

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After all these years of Margaret being stuck in legal and release limbo, it wouldn’t have been surprising if Kenneth Lonergan‘s (subtle) post-9/11 film turned out to be a misfire. All the turmoil made it doubtful that we’d ever get the masterpiece that Scorsese and many others claimed Lonergan’s film to be. The final, two-and-a-half-hour cut — which is unfortunately being dumped on a few screens — actually features hints of that masterpiece. Those hints, ultimately, make for a messy-yet-poignant dramatic opera about the power of regret, loss, and worst of all, being a teenager. Lonergan aims high in a way that, even if Margaret was a disaster, it’d still be an admirable (but failed) passion project. This isn’t that film, though. The playwright’s tremendous You Can Count on Me was small-scale, but full of power. His follow-up attempts to operate on a grand-scale, and it contains most of the power exhibited in his directorial debut.

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I wish I got this interview on video. Emile Hirsch was acting like he just came off a late night of drinking countless Red Bulls. The actor couldn’t have been more energetic and enthusiastic about everything he was saying. It threw me at times, for sure, but it was refreshing on some level. Here is a young actor that does not take himself seriously at all and that does not come off pretentious, at least that’s the impression I got. Hirsch was at Comic-Con promoting the under-the-radar alien-invasion film, The Darkest Hour. The film had no Hall H presence, but a press event was held at the pain-in-the-ass Hard Rock Hotel. The concept art I saw presented the film as an atmospheric and small invasion film set in Mother Russia. The aliens decided not to stop by Los Angeles or New York for the thousandth time. Here’s what Emile Hirsch had to say about the scope of the film, how it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and how Speed Racer was ahead of its time:

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This year, movies like Battle: Los Angeles, I Am Number Four, Hoodwinked 2 (did anyone even see the first one?), another Tyler Perry movie, Red Riding Hood, and the Justin Bieber documentary all easily made their way into theaters. Know what hasn’t come out this year (or the past couple) while films like Something Borrowed get their big studio pushes?  Margaret. Kenneth Lonergan‘s follow-up to his brilliant debut, You Can Count on Me, has had a notoriously rough time making it to theaters, both due to legal issues and a dispute over final cut. The film was shot almost six years ago. The editing process has been called a nightmare. Lonergan has a three-hour cut that Fox Searchlight isn’t too keen on releasing. Why? Because they won’t release a version over two hours long. Lonergan has final cut, which hasn’t made the situation any easier. Great talents such as Thelma Schoonmaker, Martin Scorsese, Scott Rudin, and Sydney Pollack did passes on the film to get it down to a shorter length. And right now, Scorsese is doing another edit of the film with Lonergan.

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Nobody Walks is the next project from Lena Dunham, the writer/director/star of last year’s ultra-low budget indie film Tiny Furniture. It tells the story of a Los Angeles family that takes in an artist and has their lives changed by the experience, presumably because of her free wheeling quirkiness. Dunham is one of those young filmmakers whose voice is so specific and whose films are focused so intently on the struggle of modern youth that they get derided as naval gazing and narcissistic. Kind of like a proto-Sofia Coppola. Given that criticism of her work, warranted or not, she has at least picked three actors who are well experienced working in said hipster genre for her next feature. Rosemarie DeWitt has already been in one of the last decade’s big unlikable white people movies with Rachel Getting Married, John Krasinski worked with Sam Mendes when he took his stab at hipster ennui in Away We Go, and Olivia Thirlby is known for almost nothing but playing in movies about quirky, self obsessed youths, starting with Juno. If you are one of those people who rolls your eyes at movies about upper class, faux artsy white people, then be sure you don’t roll them right out of the sockets while you’re reading this. But if you’re a person that sometimes enjoys them, like myself, then this is already an interesting looking project. Source: Variety

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You don’t see too many protagonist like Ben Kaleman in Brian Koppelman and David Levien’s latest film Solitary Man. For some, he’ll be considered a slimy and perhaps somewhat misogynistic creep getting what he deserves. For others, he’ll be a sympathetic and understandable man trying to figure out where everything went wrong. We sat down with writer/directors Brian Koppelman and David Levien and learned (literally) everything there is to know about their latest film in an epic interview about family, smooth-talkers and subtle redemption.

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Apparently the role in the forthcoming David Fincher film is a highly sought-after prize. Which actresses actually fit the bill?

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Despite the lack of Ghostbusters 3 rumors this week, Ivan Reitman is still getting himself into the news quite a bit. It must have something to do with him being hard at work casting his next film, Friends with Benefits.

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breakingupwards-11

As you know, I’m a sucker for a quirky romantic comedy. It almost doesn’t matter who’s in it, as long as it is quirky. And it appears as if Breaking Upwards, a film playing at the upcoming SXSW film festival, will be added to this year’s list.

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arlenfaber-1

A straightforward romantic comedy about bringing a know-it-all author to his knee’s, director John Hindman’s first film is surprisingly charming and incredibly well-written. As if we should have expected any less…

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Josh Peck, Not Naked. Also Sans Nike Swoosh.

The star of The Wackness revisits the film on DVD, discusess his possible Nike endorsements, and requests a free Playstation.

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published: 04.19.2014
A-
published: 04.19.2014
B+
published: 04.18.2014
C-
published: 04.18.2014
C

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