The 40-Year Old Virgin

Superbad

It’s that time of year. School is mere weeks away from starting up again, the biggest blockbusters have had their bows, and the studio releases are transitioning to the distribution equivalent of tossing an old couch on the curb to make room for the new one. May, June and July (and let’s be honest, now April) bring the big crowd pleasers. The last two weeks of summer herald the arrival of the “Everything Must Go” Sales before fall sends us into Oscar bait prestige pictures. Don’t believe me? The slate for the next two weeks includes Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, a sequel that’s arriving at least five years too late; Are You Here, the directorial debut of Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner that garnered early reviews in the exact opposite tone of his acclaimed show; Jessabelle, a release from the Blumhouse factory that’s not getting a plum horror spot, so you know it’s good; and The November Man, an entry in the very neglected genre of CIA agents dragged back into the game because “this time it’s personal!” It’s generally an accepted fact that if a movie is set for the dog days of August, the studio has less confidence in it than Taylor Swift’s latest beau does of being the one guy she dates who doesn’t end up inspiring a song. But every now and then, conventions are made to be broken. Going back through the last fifteen years of releases, I have come up with […]

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Passion of the Christ

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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The 40 Year Old Virgin

“How many men, raised on a steady diet of Judd Apatow comedies in which the shlubby arrested adolescent always gets the girl, find that those happy endings constantly elude them and conclude, ‘It’s not fair’?” — Ann Hornaday “You know what? I respect women! I love women! I respect them so much that I completely stay away from them!” — Andy Stitzer, The 40-Year-Old Virgin 2005 wasn’t a terrible year to have a comedy in theaters. Wedding Crashers, Hitch and The 40-Year-Old Virgin all finished the year with record numbers, regardless of genre. Of the three, Virgin was the most shocking surprise. For Universal Studios. For Hollywood. At the time, Steve Carell (The Office had only been out for half a year to underwhelming ratings), Catherine Keener and the rest of the cast were seen as character actors and indie drama mainstays, not movie star leads. At the center of the low-budget film was Judd Apatow. A co-creator and producer of Freaks and Geeks, Apatow’s personal voice and vision in the world of cinema was not just unique, but refreshing to audiences and talent alike. Unlike Hitch or Wedding Crashers, Virgin didn’t attempt to hand in the classic story of Misogynistic Handsome Man Turns Reformed Gentleman. Instead it spun the comedic formula that studios had profited on since Some Like It Hot. Apatow focused on a man who was anything but misogynistic. A spinster who felt more at home with his still-in-the-box toy collection, Carrel’s Andy Stitzer was pure in a world where […]

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IntroActorInjured

Like any workplace, injuries happen all the time on set – the only difference is that you don’t tend to burn your genitals while organizing a meeting or suffer major brain injury while carpooling for lunch, unless you suck at driving. On film sets, despite every precaution, these things seem a lot more organic. That said, it’s way more rare when an actor or actress willingly undergoes physical harm, either for the sake of the art or through sheer dedication to the role. I’m not talking about poor Tippi Hedren or Peter Lorre being forced to by their directors – no, these are actors who only had themselves to blame. For the sake of brevity I’ve also excluded crazy people who like to flip around, like Jackie Chan and Jet Li, from the list. They transcend a list like this, but there are plenty of other actors who gave their bodies to the craft in big ways

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This is 40

Self-indulgent. Nevel-gazing. Structureless. Plotless. These are some of the shared criticisms that have been leveled at Judd Apatow’s This Is 40, but many of these denunciations have been articulated in tandem with complaints about the film’s length. “This is 40 hours long” became a common joke on Twitter after press screenings leading to the theatrical release, and descriptions of critics’ experience of the film’s length were often provided in great detail alongside some of the above criticisms. Dana Stevens of Slate even mistakenly referred to the 133-minute film as “nearly three hours long.” It’s strange that, in the same month that saw the high-profile releases of several two-and-a-half-plus-hour films including Django Unchained, Les Miserables, and Zero Dark Thirty, it’s Apatow’s film that has received the bulk of holiday season duration-related criticism. Sure, there have been complaints about The Hobbit’s 170-minute running time, but that’s also a film that is 1/3 of an adaptation of a relatively short novel and has been projected on some screens at an eye-fucking frame rate. In short, the length of The Hobbit seems to be only one of several problems, whereas the flaws of This is 40 have often been summarized, and inferred, as revolving around its length.

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Aural Fixation - Large

Anyone who has watched a movie or a TV show knows how important song selection and music placement can be. A well-placed song can elevate a scene whereas a misplaced song can end up being distracting. While most films enlist a composer to create the score (i.e. the emotional backbone of a project), it is the music supervisor who is tasked with placing songs alongside those composed pieces. One of my current favorite bands, M83, has started gaining some traction and, unsurprisingly, started popping up in various films and trailers. I noticed that two different songs from the band were used in two different ways recently – one in a scene in Step Up Revolution (“Wait”) and one in the trailer for Cloud Atlas (“Outro”.) One of these placements worked well (see: Cloud Atlus trailer) and one did not (see: the kissing scene in Step Up Revolution.) M83’s otherworldly, electronic sound was the perfect fit for a film like Cloud Atlus and the use of “Outro” in the film’s trailer worked to add to the emotion of the stunning visuals. Granted such a small portion of “Wait” was used in Step Up Revolution it actually cut off before the lyrics really started to come in, but the song still seemed misplaced and felt more forced than a natural accompaniment to the scene. But when a band starts getting placed everywhere, instead of just getting that music exposed to new ears, it can sometimes cause the band to become oversaturated and end up […]

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As movie-goers, we are all familiar with that excruciating moment when you are watching a movie and the action is so horribly uncomfortable that you actually feel the need to cover your own face. It’s this nonsensically powerful moment when you actually feel embarrassed for a fictional character because of some terribly awkward scenario that you’d rather watch a murder than bare witness to. It’s like a horror movie almost – it’s that same turtle reaction where you just want to shrink away. And like horror, it’s either done really well or it’s abused, which is why I want to share with you the films I think did it the very best. Oh, and if you are wondering why I only picked 9 – it’s the most awkward number I could think of.

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If it were up to me, every movie would be required at least one musical number. Seriously, every movie. Children Of Men would have a song in it, Sophie’s Choice as well. Why? I don’t know – it would be funny I guess. Fine, so it’s probably not a great idea. I take it back. I just get excited when a song becomes the center of a scene – especially in comedies. People rarely have the nibs to stick a good musical sequence or two in their non-musical genre films, so let’s take a moment to pay our respects to those who did it so well by arbitrarily judging them in list form.

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Culture Warrior

Episodes and seasons and weeks after its inspiration and its humor have peaked, I still continue to watch new episodes of The Office week in and week out. I don’t know why – I never do this with dramatic shows, only with comedies – but I tend to stick with comedy shows whose legacy I appreciate even if their time has passed, either out of respect, blind hope, or simply the desire to have some noise in the room while I take a break to eat a meal or fold laundry. While The Office certainly isn’t what it used to be, even before Steve Carell left, it’s still an inoffensive and enjoyable way to pass some time. I can’t deny that the affinity I developed for the show’s characters early on in the series has carried me through a lot of its creative droughts (in other words, I hardly watch it only for its comedy) even as more recent network sitcoms like Modern Family, Community, and (especially) Parks and Recreation have made me LOL significantly more often. But in the bizarre cameos leading up to a strange and dry seventh season finale, The Office seems to have encountered much greater problems than a rudimentary lack of inspiration typical for the (possibly cyclical) lifespan of a long-running television show. The Office seems to have rejected the defining characteristics that made it unique in the first place.

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This week, the Fox TV show Glee (a show I’ve never watched a minute of) hit your local retailers with the first part of its first season on DVD. And while I’m not too sure about the show, I am sure about the hilarity created by Jane Lynch.

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culturewarrior-funnypeople

Don’t let the obvious title fool you–Landon actually enjoyed Judd Apatow’s latest, and this week’s Culture Warrior explores the virtues of an unfunny movie about funny people.

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randy-header

Judd Apatow’s, Adam Sandler starring, Funny People is nearing release, and as such, the online presence is stepping up. In this case we have a website.

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culturewarrior-bromance

With this weekend’s release of I Love You, Man, the recent trend of comedies centered on platonic male relationships—the ‘bromance’—is articulated to its furthest extent thus far, taking the traditional genre formula of the romantic comedy and replacing the traditional male-female love story with two heterosexual males. While this trend of celebrating intimate male friendships is pervasive and seemingly wholly new in mainstream American comedies, the determining predecessors for this trend, and its balance of male and female characters, contains roots in canonical films of 1960s and 70s New Hollywood.

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Judd Apatow

According to Yahoo! news, Judd Apatow, who has become a juggernaut of comedies in the last three years with films like Knocked Up, The 40-Year Old Virgin and Superbad will be honored as Comedy Person of the Year at the Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal, July 10-20.

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Elizabeth Banks has been a crazy nymph, a sarcastic Daily Bugle secretary and now a sexy Santa helper. But in this series of pictures, she is NSFW for sure.

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