This American Life

As those who follow the film industry closely might already know, Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon released a passion project earlier this summer that went by the name of The Avengers. It was a fairly popular film, playing in over four thousand theaters, breaking a bunch of box office records, and making $1,461,891,916 worldwide to date. That’s not to say that it was a complete success though. It still hasn’t broken every box office record, it still hasn’t made all of the money…and now it may never get to because of a cocky young upstart named Mike Birbiglia. You may have heard of Birbiglia before: he’s a stand-up comedian, a writer, and a radio personality who has turned his memoirs entitled “Sleepwalk With Me” into a modestly budgeted indie film that will be given a limited release with minimal promotion. Enough promotion that it’s likely to ruin Whedon’s chances at being declared King of Hollywood though. As the Avengers director explains in this video, Sleepwalk With Me was only supposed to open on thirty-some screens originally, but due to a dogged campaign by Birbiglia and his dangerous, cult-like following, it’s now set to open on over 80. Simply put, this will help push The Avengers out of some of the 500 or so theaters it’s still playing in, and effectively take food out of the mouths of Joss Whedon’s (myriad) children.

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Whether it’s been as a comedian, writer, storyteller, or frequent contributor to This American Life, Mike Birbiglia has made a living just talking about his experiences and getting audiences to relate to his day to day struggles. The latest development in his career progression is this new film, Sleepwalk With Me, a tale of struggling in a new career, dealing with societal pressure to start a family, and living through an insane medical condition that makes you do crazy shit while you’re asleep; all material ripped straight out of Birbiglia’s real life experiences. Sleepwalk With Me started as a stage show called “Sleepwalk With Me Live,” which later got recorded and became a best-selling comedy album of the same name. The next step was to turn the stories into written memoirs, so “Sleepwalk With Me & Other Painfully True Stories” was born, and went on to become a New York Times Bestseller. This new film adaptation of the material features Birbiglia acting in the starring role, co-directing with Seth Barrish, and co-writing with a handful of collaborators. That’s a lot of Mike Birbiglia.

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What is Movie News After Dark? Usually it’s just a nightly column dedicated to the best news and links from around the movie blogosphere. Tonight it comes with a disclaimer: Its author has just returned from a bender of Pixar films and is in the midst of a Marvel films marathon as he writes this. This sort of situation may cause over-zealous Avengers coverage, animated goofiness and spontaneous, uncontrollable bouts of crying — that is, if the score from UP comes on. Be prepared. We begin tonight with an awesome image of Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Bruce Lee in 1978 courtesy of the Tumblr blog of film critic Shawn Levy. Beyond being an exceptionally nice guy, Levy also has a taste for the moving pictures and the icons of said medium. This shot, in my opinion, is certified awesome.

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Of all the films being developed in the Hollywood-sphere right now, perhaps no other has more reasons to be excited about it than the upcoming, based-on-a-true-story shocker Freezing People is Easy. First off, it’s based on the life story of Robert Nelson, a man who spearheaded a movement in cryonics that saw several bodies being frozen back in the 60s, with disastrous results. Nelson’s story is darkly funny, shockingly grisly, and endlessly interesting due to its many twists and turns. It’s already been documented to great success in the man’s memoirs, “We Froze the First Man,” and also in a segment on the radio program This American Life entitled “Cold as Ice,” and it’s really a tale that everyone needs to hear. Secondly, the talent bringing this story into yet another medium, this time the big screen, is impressive. Freezing People is Easy is set to be the second dramatic work by famed documentarian Errol Morris (Tabloid), and it’s being shot from a screenplay that was written by Stranger Than Fiction’s Zach Helm. These are names whose next projects I would have been anticipating whether they were attached to a story I was already interested in or not. Throw them all together and there’s reason to celebrate. The third reason I’m looking forward to this one is how well the cast seems to be shaping up. It’s already been reported that Paul Rudd is attached to play Nelson as the lead, and now a report from Deadline Redondo Beach says […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the roughest, toughest, meanest movie news column around. It also owns one of those silly shirts and smokes cigars. Of that, you can be sure. We begin our newsy journey tonight with a photo of three f*ckin’ guys you might have heard of on the set of The Expendables 2, proving once and for all that witty banter, big scarfs and an awful flowered shirt will be part of the highly anticipated testostisequel. All I can think is… someone needs to get to dat choppa!

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Lots of info is swirling around regarding legendary documentary filmmaker Errol Morris’s second dramatic work. Morris is intent on making a biopic of a man named Robert Nelson, who was a television repairman who joined a group of cryogenic enthusiasts in the late 60s, took over their makeshift operation, and took it upon himself to start freezing people post death. Nelson’s story has already been told in his own memoirs “We Froze the First Man,” and in a segment on NPR’s This American Life entitled “You’re Cold as Ice.” Morris will be filming a screenplay by Stranger than Fiction’s Zach Helm that takes material from both. First, The Washington Post has confirmed with Morris that he has cast Paul Rudd in the lead role of Bob Nelson. While there is a lot of dark humor to be had in the prospect of an in over your head TV repair man trying to run a cryogenics operation, this story goes some dramatic places as well, so this will be an interesting role to see Rudd take. He started his career doing more dramatic stuff, but has recently been known for doing mostly straight comedy. This could be a good chance to see what kind of chops Rudd is working with. A second bit of news on the project is that The New York Observer is reporting This American Life creator and host Ira Glass will be collaborating with Morris on the film in some capacity.

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Like many people who think they are smart, I listen weekly to This American Life. And in a recent episode featuring tales of returning to the scene of the crime, Joss Whedon walked in and sang a song. Which got me thinking…

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Paramount Pictures has picked up a script from writer/director Mike White called Santa Wars, a comedy based on the true story of rival factions that developed within a union of professional Santa Clauses who become arch enemies during a Santa Claus civil war.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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