Patton Oswalt

cc young adult

Jason Reitman‘s fifth feature film, Labor Day, hits theaters this Friday, but while I haven’t seen it yet the advance word has been a far cry from the critical acclaim his movies usually receive. To be fair, it’s also by all accounts a different beast from Reitman’s previous films as it concentrates more on the drama than on the acerbic, darkly comedic wit. It’s for this reason that I decided to go back a few years to Reitman’s last film, the blackly comic, emotionally tragic, and sadly under-seen Young Adult, for this week’s commentary listen. Well, that and the fact that one of the best films to play this year’s Sundance, Listen Up Philip, reminded me positively of it. Both movies are excellent entries in the canon of “asshole cinema” in that their lead characters are irredeemable pricks struggling to conceal their humanity and causing all manner of hilarity and emotional distress along the way. Charlize Theron plays a young adult novelist who returns home to her small town to reclaim her high school boyfriend (Patrick Wilson) in the hopes that it will knock her out of the doldrums of both her career and her life. Her efforts don’t quite go according to plan and instead she’s forced face to face with the reality of the person she’s become.

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jfc fast furious

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; we live our lives a quarter-pounder at a time. Speaking of, did you know that the word “franchise” isn’t always preceded by the words “fast food?” I know, we were just as shocked as you are. It appears it can also be used to refer to the collective sequels of a movie. Sometimes these sequels are fantastic, such as Friday the 13th VI, and sometimes they are just plain awful, such as…admittedly large chunks of Friday the 13th VI. However, the best franchises are those that are able to pull us into their individual universes to the point that we eagerly await each new entry regardless of he absurdity of its ever-rising titular numeral. Take for example, the Fast & Furious films; those drag-racing men in their driving machines (or how we flew from reason to crashing through cargo planes in six movies). It started out as an innocent remake of Point Break, with souped-up hot rods substituted for surfboards and Paul Walker‘s nonexistent charisma substituted for Keanu Reeves’ nonexistent charisma. However, the films have fastly and furiously become experiments in mayhem and extreme sports, if extreme stupidity is an extreme sport. For this reason, and the tractor-beam-like attraction of Vin Diesel‘s uni-muscle body composition, our initial apathy toward this franchise has morphed slowly into unhealthy petulant sense of ownership of that universe. At this point, The Fast & the Furious is our beloved annual-to-semi-annual visitor; a friendly second-cousin who happens to be equipped with […]

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Justified Season 4

So on the latest Justified, “The Hatchet Tour,” we finally discovered the true identity of the infamous fugitive Drew Thompson. Did we really care who Drew Thompson really was? Not really. Though, my goodness, his true identity truly was a surprise. And the episode as a whole – written by Taylor Elmore and Leonard Chang, and directed by TV great Leslie Linka Glatter) – really, really delivered. It was well-paced, packed with important happenings, snappy dialogue… and was Justified doin’ Justified right.

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Justified Season 4

This latest installment of Justified was a thrill for many reasons, the first being… frenenemies Raylan and Boyd are, again, holed up in the same room, fighting for the same cause (kinda), and engaging in some of their delightful trademark frenemy banter. Seeing Raylan and Boyd together for the first time this season makes you realize the absolute perfection of Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins onscreen together. Each line is delivered perfectly and the relationship between their two characters is just so nuanced. Adding to the greatness, there is also war bonding across party lines between Tim and Colton, an appearance form Arlo, Raylan waxing nostalgic about his mother, Ellen May coming into a greater purpose, and Gerald McRaney’s (and another of Olyphant’s fellow Deadwood alum’s) self-severed foot… Though if I’m nitpicking, we could still do without the whole Detroit invasion. And Mike O’Malley still on Glee, right? This minor transgression is, however, overshadowed by the fact that this episode brings us into even more of a hick milieu that even Harlan County proper: the realm of the hill people. And yes, a Deliverance reference is made (thanks, Boyd!). Them crazy hill people are always encouraged… and no one had to “squeal like a pig” or nuthin’.

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Nature Calls

Editor’s note: Yet another SXSW feature is hitting limited release, so please relieve yourselves with this Nature Calls review, originally published on March 11, 2012. Filmmaker Todd Rohal‘s third feature film, Nature Calls, returns to a world similar to that of his The Catechism Cataclysm – a world marked by complete madness by way of a poorly planned excursions to the outdoors. Rohal is again concerned with pushing the envelope, particularly when it comes to poking fun at organized religion, but a sweet edge of sentimentality and emotions sets Nature Calls apart from his previous outing. Unfortunately, Rohal’s film cannot quite join its disparate parts – wacky antics, inspired upbraiding of modern consumer life, physical danger, and fractured familial relationships – into one cohesive piece, and while the film’s laughs are frequent, they are fleeting and don’t have any weight behind them. Also, goddamn can this thing be offensive.

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Nature Calls Red Band Trailer

Whether he’s taking a stand against KFC bowls in his standup act, lampooning sports-obsessed weirdos in Big Fan, or snarkily dismissing small town group think in Young Adult, Patton Oswalt has firmly established himself as being one of the preeminent critics of modern culture. Nature Calls keeps that momentum going by casting him as a man in an epic struggle against the rampant douchebaggery running wild in our youth. The basic story is this: Oswalt plays a Boy Scout troop leader frustrated with the modern generation’s lack of interest in things like going outside and not staring at a screen all day. Johnny Knoxville plays his brother, the sort of manic idiot whose idea of being a role model is loading kids full of sugar and showing them bum fights on Youtube. This impasse of ideals leads to Oswalt kidnapping a crew of rambunctious children and forcing them to spend time out in the woods doing the sorts of things that men do. An epic manhunt and “Lord of the Flies” shenanigans soon follow.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column about movies and other interesting things currently being written by someone who is far more enthralled with Olympic gymnastics. He also watches beach volleyball, because why not? We begin this evening’s somewhat slim edition of News After Dark with the first look at Toby Jones as Alfred Hitchcock and Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedren in The Girl, HBO’s look at the storied relationship between the director and his one-time muse.

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No apocalyptic film is sweeter than Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. While we already got Roland Emmerich‘s layered, philosophical approach to our pending doomsday, writer-director Lorene Scafaria has provided whimsical competition with her endearing love story set in the midst of our final days. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is not a story of one man miraculously saving the day, but a bittersweet tale of the reserved and lonely Dodge (Steve Carell) finally having something to live for before it all ends. Dodge’s journey aside, Scafaria’s film is a road movie — which is hardly a simple structure to crack — filled with faces we all know, the creepiest and friendliest restaurant you’ll see on screen all year, and many more atypical apocalyptic escapades. Here is what Lorene Scafaria had to say about the highs and lows of pitching a film, how her directorial debut has since informed her writing, and the sheer perfection of Adventures in Babysitting:

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Who would you want to be with when the world ends? While we here at FSR have been bringing you the various movies you should watch before the world is set to end come this December, writer/director Lorene Scafaria takes on the idea of who you would want to stand with in those final moments. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World follows Dodge (Steve Carell), an insurance salesman (oh, the irony) who seems lost as the rest of the world is falling apart around him. One night, while watching the grim news (anchored with class by Mark Moses), Dodge encounters his quirky neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley) and they bond over the unspoken need to have someone to spend time with, even if it means just sitting and watching television together. When Penny gives Dodge a stack of his mail (which she’d been accidentally receiving for months), he finds a letter from an ex-girlfriend (one he considered the love of his life) which prompts Dodge to find her and spend his last days with his one true love. After a terrifying riot breaks out around their apartment building, Dodge grabs Prius-driving Penny to save her (and bum a ride.) Promising to bring her to one of his friends who has a plane (which could get her to England to see her family one last time), the duo (and Dodge’s inherited dog, Sorry) embark on a road trip to get to those people they realize are most important to them.

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Over Under - Large

When writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman teamed up on the 2007 film, Juno, the responses were mixed. Some people liked it quite a bit, not just because it was clever and quippy, but also because it presented a realistic, affecting look at the inherent drama of teenage pregnancy. Other people thought that it was painfully self-conscious in its hipness and insufferably annoying in its quirk, so they raged against any praise that came its way. Their next team-up, Young Adult, was different though. Not only did this look at a washed-up YA author traveling back to her home town in order to break up her high school sweetheart’s marriage do well with Juno fans, it did quite well with those who couldn’t stand Cody’s writing up to that point, as well. Charlize Theron’s painfully honest protagonist and Patton Oswalt’s achingly tragic supporting character really hit home for most. On the other end of the spectrum, the 2005 film Lonesome Jim doesn’t get very many mentions in a very many circles. On a couple levels, that makes sense. It’s a micro-budget indie that doesn’t provide any spectacle and didn’t get much promotion, and it was only seen on a handful of screens during its theatrical release. On the other hand, there are several reasons why you’d think this movie would have gotten more play over time. It’s one of the few films directed by Steve Buscemi, who everybody seems to love, it’s got great lead performances by Casey Affleck […]

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Recently, director Jason Reitman has been doing a special series of script readings at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Basically what he does is he takes the script for a beloved film, recasts the whole thing with new actors, and does a stage reading in front of a live audience. Rights issues being what they are, something like this can’t be recorded, so getting to experience one of these events is a très exclusive honor. Reitman has already given this treatment to five universally loved movies (The Breakfast Club, The Apartment, Shampoo, Reservoir Dogs, and The Princess Bride), and tonight he’s set to cap off his series with a reading of everyone’s favorite film, The Big Lebowski. Who does he have on tap to bring legendary characters like The Dude and Jackie Treehorn to life on stage? Inside Movies has the scoop, and some of his decisions sound like they’re ripe with fun-time possibilities. For the part of The Dude (or El Duderino, if you’re not into that whole brevity thing) Reitman has chosen Seth Rogen, the man with the best stoner laugh in Hollywood. His best friend and security expert, Walter Sobchak, will be played by The Office star Rainn Wilson, a man not unfamiliar with bluster. As the other Jeffrey Lebowski, the millionaire (and a fucking goldbricker if I’ve ever seen one), is Jason Alexander, a man used to spinning unbelievable yarns. And for Lebowski’s red-headed and inappropriately sexual daughter Maude, they’ve tapped Mad Men star […]

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After a good number of years chugging along as a “that guy” actor and doing small parts in films and a handful of episodes of a TV show here and there, things finally seem to be working out for Adam Scott. Over the past five years or so he’s really been able to develop a persona, an on-screen character that casting people know how to use, and it’s led to him being knee deep in work. Not only is he a regular on the outstanding NBC series Parks and Recreation, but he’s also starring opposite names like Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, and Maya Rudolph in Friends With Kids, he’s got a movie with Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Kaplan, and Isla Fisher called Bachelorette that just debuted at Sundance, and in the next year he’s going to be in Dan Fogelman’s movie My Mother’s Curse, he’s co-starring in a romance called See Girl Run, and he’s going to be in a movie called A.D.O.C. with titans of the screen Jane Lynch and Richard Jenkins. The guy looks to be on top of the world. But, the new role that he’s negotiating for may be the biggest thing he’s been involved with yet.

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Everybody knows that the world is going to be ending sooner rather than later. Heck, the end of days is getting so close that we’ve been counting down our must-see apocalypse films. But until I watched the trailer for the upcoming comedy Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, it didn’t occur to me how much fun those last few days we all spend on Earth are going to be. I mean, other than when faced with impending asteroid-related doom, when else is a guy like Steve Carell going to get a chance at a girl like Keira Knightley? Stress-induced romantic hook-ups aren’t the only perks of the world ending, either. There’s slacking off at work, taking part in some cathartic looting, and who knows how many other base pleasures to partake in. Heck, this movie sees Patton Oswalt turning into some sort of hedonistic little Satyr, Gillian Jacobs kissing everyone on the mouth, and Connie Britton hosting dinner parties for her single friends. Not only are these all great ideas for how to spend your last days, they’re also glimpses at a movie that seems to have a stellar supporting cast. Check out how the end times might look with the first trailer for Seeking a Friend for the End of the World after the break.

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Channel Guide - Large

Fire up the kettle and break out the Jaffa Cakes, because I’m ready to curl up with a cup of tea and devote my television habits exclusively to the efforts from across the pond. Okay, even I know I couldn’t live without a weekly one-two punch of Leslie Knope and Liz Lemon (returning this week on Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock, respectively), but the BBC has been offering up a bevvy of programming that seems tailor-made for TV geeks like myself, and I’ve aristocratically sipped the British Kool-Aid in a big way. I’ve long been a fan of television with a stiff upper lip. At a young age, my European mother, bored with some of the comedies of the 80s (not everybody loved Mork & Mindy, apparently), turned to the programming of her mother continent – re-runs of Are You Being Served?, A Bit of Fry and Laurie, heck, even Mr. Bean, and I soaked it up like a tea-soaked sponge; the only second grader at Maple Hills Elementary to practice her cockney British accent on the playground. So it should come as no surprise that when it came time to curate my own cultural landscape, I looked to the Brits for inspiration. Sure, most teenagers listen to The Smiths at one point or another, and The Clash is pretty much a staple of adolescent angst, but as for TV? I watched each episode of Ricky Gervais’ take on The Office ad nauseam, got an education from Doctor Who, […]

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“Guys like me are born to like girls like you.” If you’re one of those guys – someone who finds unrelenting asshole women irresistible – Young Adult will leave you with a new crush. If you’re a socially normal human being who knows how destructive an asshole can be, Young Adult will leave you with a new on-screen enemy. I fall in the middle. Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) could not be further from likable and sympathetic, and that’s the whole point. The young adult writer, not the most subtle character trait, is never glorified as being a “cool smokin’ bitch,” something that she only starts off as. As the film progresses, the beautiful womanchild is stripped down to something so ugly, unappealing, hopeless, and, in some uncomfortable ways, a little relatable.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr goes rogue and infiltrates his local IMAX theater. First, he scales the wall of the plus-sized building and slides in undetected through the air vents. He slowly lowers himself into a theater seat to enjoy an early screening of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Unfortunately, he finds himself in the middle of a wild crowd of six-year-old kids for the early screening of the latest Alvin and the Chipmunks movie. To deal with the psychological damage, Kevin then stumbles into the Sherlock Holmes sequel and later finds an extra seat in Young Adult, where he can imagine that his chubby caboose could land a hottie like Charlize Theron.

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Paramount

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly collection of things, movie related and otherwise, that will entertain you, astound you and most likely give you that much needed late-night push toward deep, restful sleep. We begin tonight with the new logo Paramount Pictures has released for their 100th anniversary celebration. I caught it this evening on a massive IMAX screen in front of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, which was quite awesome. But more on that later. Up first, some trivia: Did you know that the original Paramount mountain was based on a doodle by W.W. Hodkinson and that the live-action logo is based on Peru’s Artesonraju? Wikipedia did.

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Channel Guide: A Column About TV

Because I have the sleeping habits of a 75-year-old golden girl, I rarely stay up past 11:00 pm (sometimes even 9:00 is pushing it). But I’m more than willing to cast aside my senior citizen bedtime if it means that I get to watch The Heart, She Holler—Adult Swim’s latest foray into live-action comedy. This twisted six-part miniseries, starring Patton Oswalt and Bob’s Burgers’ Kristen Schaal, is a hodgepodge of Lynchian surrealism, Southern Gothic melodrama, and absurdist humor. Although Adult Swim is known for its incendiary programming, The Heart, She Holler, which first aired earlier this month, is arguably the most subversive and definitely the most disturbingly funny live-action comedy currently on the network (and who would expect anything less from a show produced by PFFR, the company behind Wonder Showzen?).

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For the past few weeks, director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody have quietly been bringing special “pop up screenings” of their new collaboration, Young Adult, to small arthouse theaters across the country (and Canada!). Invites were scarce, but those who were quick enough (and savvy enough) to get into one of six screenings was treated to a first look at the film, a special Q&A with its makers and stars, and a unique poster to take home with them. I was lucky enough to get into this week’s Los Angeles pop up screening at the New Beverly, during which Reitman trotted out Cody, Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, and Elizabeth Reaser for a pre-screening introduction and a post-screening Q&A. While it’s been widely speculated as to why Reitman didn’t take Young Adult on a more traditional festival jaunt (which he’s previously done for his biggest hits), the director himself explained it simply, he wanted to take the film on its very own festival route, picking cities and venues that fit the film. To add to that festival atmosphere, each pop up screening got its own specially crafted poster, made by a local artist and distributed to the audience at each screening. Young Adult is a departure for Reitman and Cody, shunting aside the sunniness of their previous collaboration Juno for a much darker (and deeper) tale of female maturity gone totally wrong. After the break, check out all six posters for each of the pop up screenings, each taking a different […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that melts in your mouth, not in your hand. It also delivers a taste that doesn’t linger. Because we know you need to sleep soon, and we don’t want to disrupt such an important ritual. Lets be honest with ourselves for a moment. Even though we know that it will be a kindred spirit of Zack Snyder’s 300, we still can’t escape from the fact that Tarsem Singh’s The Immortals looks pretty badass. The evidence of this is all over the place, most notably in a new gallery of Immortals images over at Screen Rant. Tonight’s lead image features Theseus, the hero, vs. a Minotaur. I’ll watch that.

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