Zoe Kazan

Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If

It’s a story we’ve heard plenty of times before. An adorable guy (Daniel Radcliffe) has been skanking around with his well-intentioned bro friends for far too long without getting action, so one of them (Adam Driver) takes the initiative to get him back in the game. He meets an equally adorable gal, the woman of his dreams, even (Zoe Kazan), but it’s just not meant to be – sister already has a boyfriend (Rafe Spall) back at home. So what’s a ruffled-hair kid to do when he’s met the love of his life and she’s under the impression that they’re best friends? He pines, that’s what he does. The trailer for What If – the romantic comedy that will surely break all rom-coms if the hit list of tropes packed into just a few minutes are any indication – paints a neat and tidy picture of Wallace and Chantry’s inevitable romance. They’re friends, but can their friendship work if there’s that electric current of chemistry running underneath all of their interactions? Clearly, the filmmakers (director Michael Dowse and writer Elan Mastai) want us to say an emphatic “no;”  these two are destined to wind up together, for their love is so pure and magical that it makes the rest of us and our dumb relationships look pathetic in comparison. Look at them play ping pong together and almost kiss about five times and share a completely avoidable intimate moment in a dressing room. And what about her perfectly acceptable, well-to-do boyfriend who doesn’t really seem to have any […]

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In Your Eyes Film

Let In Your Eyes be a lesson that not absolutely everything that Joss Whedon touches turns to gold, even the things the beloved filmmaker and character creator writes with his own hands. Although Whedon has recently found himself some big time blockbuster cred and some serious mainstream appeal – his The Avengers is one of the highest grossing films of all time, so that’s pretty mainstream – the screenwriter and director first earned his devoted fanbase with a bevy of more clever, character-driven television shows earlier in his career. That attention to character development, personal relationships, and big ideas is evident in Brin Hill’s directorial debut, which Whedon penned, but the rest of the film willfully and completely squanders its positive attributes. A supernatural romance with roots in the real world, In Your Eyes’ singular and ambitious idea – what would happen if you could literally see through another person’s eyes? – is taken in a number of clichéd and flawed directions, and the film eventually devolves from intriguing to embarrassing.

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In Your Eyes at Tribeca

Joss Whedon was a busy man with The Avengers. But in between the writing and the shooting and the wrangling of a real, live Hulk (I’m assuming that was the real Hulk, right?), he also shot Much Ado About Nothing on his days off. Apparently Much Ado wasn’t enough, because Whedon actually had a third project in the works at the same time. In the early months of 2012, Whedon’s screenplay for In Your Eyes was being shot in New Hampshire. Not by Whedon, mind you, but by Brin Hill – and before you say, “Who?” Hill is known mostly for writing the competitive b-boy flick Battle of the Year. Somehow, Whedon found a way to oversee the production anyway, even if it was just through a tenuous psychic connection. Which, conveniently enough, is the very same plot device at the center of In Your Eyes. Starring Zoe Kazan (Ruby Sparks) and Michael Stahl-David (the lead in Cloverfield), it’s a love story touched by a vague kind of movie mysticism. Kazan and Stahl-David fall in love despite the fact that they’ve never met and live on opposite sides of the country. Somehow, a metaphysical, psychic-ish connection is to blame. The film premieres this Sunday at the Tribeca Film Festival, and Entertainment Weekly has shared the first three minutes in case you won’t be in NYC but would still like to take a look. And why wouldn’t you?

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the-pretty-one02

There are no evil twins in Jenée LaMarque’s clever and creative The Pretty One. There are no good twins in the film, either, no such black and white distinctions between siblings split from the same egg. There’s not even really a pretty one (because there’s certainly no ugly one), there are just two very different girls from the same place. (And a haircut and a car accident and a mix-up and a plan, but we’ll get to that in a bit.) Laurel (Zoe Kazan) hasn’t progressed much beyond her younger years – after the death of her mother, she’s stayed nearly housebound, painting high class copies (read: forgeries you can hang in your own home) alongside her beloved father (John Carroll Lynch), sporting her mom’s duds, and bedding a high school student she used to help babysit (Laurel’s childish spirit helps this thorny subplot seem at least a hair less troublesome than it sounds on paper). Elsewhere, her idolized twin sister Audrey (Kazan, obviously) has carved out a new life for herself in the big city, complete with a career selling “storybook homes” to buyers looking for that extra something special. Audrey may be absent in Laurel’s everyday life, but she looms large – the duo’s twin beds remain pushed together in their shared childhood room, a bulletin board touts her many accomplishments (Laurel’s board holds but one ribbon), and an imminent birthday visit thrills Laurel.

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The Face of Love

With the already-announced The Double, starring Jesse Eisenberg, and a chance for everyone to get what they’ve always dreamed of (two Jake Gyllenhaals) with Enemy, 2014 is already shaping up to be the year of the doppelganger. Two more films are turning doubles into a trend by giving us Zoe Kazan and Ed Harris duplicates. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing.

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review some girls

Editor’s Note: Our review of Some Girl(s) originally ran during this year’s SXSW, but we’re running it again as the film opens in limited theatrical release starting June 28, 2013. Any fan of playwright/screenwrtier/filmmaker Neil LaBute‘s honest depictions of cringe-inducing narcissism will be pleased by Some Girl(s). LaBute’s last few films – The Wickerman, Death at a Funeral, and Lakeview Terrace – have shown him going outside his comfort zone with varying results. Some Girl(s), which LaBute scripted (but didn’t direct) from his play of the same name, marks the theatrical return of the LaBute we love. His greatest works often resemble a car crash in motion with the driver smiling through every ding, bone crush, and bump while the victims are left with serious pain. The driver here is simply credited as “Man” and played by Adam Brody. The victims are a few of Man’s ex-girlfriends, all of whom feature distinct personalities and past issues with him. There is the older woman (Emily Watson) he had an affair with, a young girl (Zoe Kazan) he took advantage of, the High School girlfriend (Jennifer Morrison), the tattooed Chicago girl (Mia Maestro) who made him feel cool and the final girl is played by Kristen Bell. He’s doing all this to right any wrongs before marrying his newest girl.

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Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris

Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris don’t make your average summer comedies. In 2006 their surprise hit Little Miss Sunshine involved a deteriorating marriage, a druggy grandfather, a suicidal uncle, and, of course, a mute Paul Dano – all comedic trappings that hardly approach light fare. Their return after a six year theatrical release absence, Ruby Sparks, is no different. Although the trailers and TV spots hint at a quirky and charming love story, Ruby Sparks is nothing of the sort. When your lead is a narcissistic, immature, unlikable, and slightly nihilistic writer whose manic pixie dream girl is his own boyish creation, you’re not exactly making How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Ruby Sparks, in the same vein as Dayton and Faris’ previous feature, is a story about failure, how to bounce back from it and, more importantly, how to also make it funny. Here’s what Dayton and Faris had to say about Ruby Sparks not being a comedy, the creative importance of facing problems, and how their film represents the modern man-children of the world:

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Paul Dano interview

“I don’t really know what kind of actor I am,” Paul Dano said when we spoke to him a few weeks ago while discussing his latest film, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Farsis‘s mildly dark romantic comedy Ruby Sparks. When Dano stated such, it came as a bit of a surprise, particularly because Dano has always come off as an actor who goes fairly deep into a character, from reading books to finding a character’s favorite band. What was also obvious is that he isn’t the artistically tortured character we see him play in the film. The character, Calvin, is a bit of a jerk: a narcissistic, condescending, and neurotic nerd who wants control over everything. Dano, who spoke of his fear over expectations and other Ruby Sparks-related themes, seemed satisfied leaving all that control in the hands of all the accomplished directors he’s worked with. Here’s what Ruby Sparks’ star Paul Dano had to say about the nice surprises you get when making a film, his process for creating a character, and the time he wrestled with Spike Jonze on the set of Where the Wild Things Are:

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Ruby Sparks tells the story of a young writer (Paul Dano) who seemingly creates his dream girl out of thin air (and his writing) and is then able to control her through said writing. This curious tale is further heightened thanks to a magical score from composer Nick Urata (Crazy, Stupid, Love), which bounces from feeling hopeful to ominous to almost dangerous. The score succeeds in grabbing the audience’s attention from its first note and does not let go until its very last. With the soundtrack for Ruby Sparks released just yesterday, I spoke with Urata about his process creating the film’s score, how effected he was after seeing only the first cut of the film, and how that led to him getting the gig as the film’s composer.

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Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan Cast in The F Word

It’s no secret that recent hockey comedy Goon is an FSR favorite, so it’s been with great anticipation that we’ve been waiting for word about director, Michael Dowse’s next project. Fortunately for everyone, that wait is over. Variety is reporting that the director is currently at work putting together a romantic comedy called The F Word, that comes from a 2008 Black List script by Elan Mastai. The story, which is based off of a play by T.J. Dawe and Michael Rinaldi called “Toothpaste and Cigars,” sounds simple enough. It’s about a duo of twentysomethings who meet at a party and hit it off instantly, but are faced with the task of being “just friends” because the girl is already tied up with a beau. Again, simple enough, but the intrigue comes from the casting that’s already been done. In order to fill the roles of the two lovestruck young people, Dowse has called upon the talents of Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan. Radcliffe, of course, is best known for headlining the Harry Potter franchise. His first foray outside of that mystical world was his starring role in The Woman in Black, where he somewhat ridiculously played a widowed lawyer with muttonchops. Perhaps this role as a young lover will be a better fit for the actor, and the easy transition he needs to get the public to stop thinking of him as a boy wizard.

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Directorial team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris are finally returning to the big screen for the first time since 2006′s Little Miss Sunshine with one of the summer’s most anticipated indie releases – the Zoe Kazan-penned Ruby Sparks. Also starring Kazan, the film centers on Paul Dano‘s character, a once-successful young author who is felled by some intense writer’s block and a dismal love life. When he starts writing about a new character, Ruby, Calvin’s spark comes back – but everything is thrown into disarray when he discovers Ruby (Kazan) in his apartment – his creation brought to life. Is it love? Magic? Or both?

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Here’s a tip, indie producers, cast Zoe Kazan in anything and I’ll buy a ticket. Toss in Jake Johnson and I’m convinced someone cast this film out of my dreams. Deadline Portland reports that Kazan and Johnson will star in Jenee LaMarque‘s Black List script, The Pretty One, which was also a finalist for the Nicholl Fellowship and Zoetrope screenplay contest. LaMarque will also make her directorial debut with the project, which is billed as an “offbeat comedy” that centers on Kazan’s as an “awkward but loveable young woman who is mistaken for her dead ‘perfect’ identical twin, and seizes the chance to masquerade as her sister. But when she falls in love with her twin’s eccentric next door neighbor, she finds herself wanting to live her own imperfect life, and have the truth come out.” Oh, man, sounds wacky! But also lovable…and possibly eccentric. There’s nothing quite like a good mistaken identity romantic comedy, and I’m sure the film will be rife with all sorts of missteps, awkward moments, and near-misses until some big, emotional reveal. Though that all sounds like standard stuff, the heaps of praise that the film’s script has received, along with this rising star cast, hint that perhaps we’re in for a surprise treat. Consider my ticket bought.

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Zoe Kazan‘s feature writing debut, Ruby Sparks, already has enough going for it that I’ll forgive its new name change – to Ruby from its working title, He Loves Me, which feels a bit less movie-of-the-week and a touch more substantial. Title issues aside, Kazan’s first foray into screenwriting sees the return of directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (helming their first feature since 2006′s Little Miss Sunshine), is marked by a talented cast (Paul Dano, Kazan, Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening, Steve Coogan, Elliot Gould, Chris Messina, and Deborah Ann Woll), and comes with a plotline that’s a thought-provoking twist on the romantic comedy. So why the name switcheroo? Well, it’s either something that’s far too-on-the-nose, or it’s meant to denote the full name of Kazan’s character, who is so far known to be just “Ruby.” But that on-the-nose? It could just mean that she sparks something, forming the entire basis of the film. And what does she spark? Only a little literary inspiration and her entire existence.

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Just on the heels of the announcement that Kristen Bell had signed on to be the first of Adam Brody’s many ex-girlfriends in Some Girls, THR has a report that a whole bevy of additional actresses have come out of the woodwork to fill out the ranks of Brody’s former flames. You see, Some Girls is an adaptation of a Neil LaBute play about a young writer who is looking to take stock of his past romantic entanglements and gain closure with each of his exes before he moves forward in his life and marries his current fiancée. Bell is said to be playing a character named Bobbi, a whip-smart little lady who Brody’s character walked away from without so much as a word. And with this new casting announcement, it’s looking like the Jennifer Getzinger-directed film version of this story will be including four other girls that have a bone to pick with the reflective protagonist as well. The biggest name of the bunch is Emily Watson, who will be playing a married woman named Lindsay who Brody’s character had an affair with. Watson has had a whole bunch of great roles before this, but she’s probably best known for her Oscar nominated performances in Breaking the Waves and Hilary and Jackie. To say that she adds some pedigree to this production would be something of an understatement.

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In Your Eyes

If you just go by the plot synopsis and cast list, In Your Eyes sounds like an indie sci-fi romance that might be good, might be bad, but will probably come and go without getting much fanfare. But when you look at the writing credits, suddenly it looks like a film that’s probably going to get a lot of attention. This one is coming from a script by Joss Whedon, a man who’s not only already a genre deity, but who is also poised to direct a film that’s likely to break a bunch of records and dominate the cultural milieu come this summer, The Avengers. Yeah, it’s only a matter of time before Whedon becomes a big damn deal, so chances are this movie will be getting a lot more attention than it would have otherwise. This info all comes from an article posted by Deadline Canton, who also have the scoop that Michael Stahl-David and Zoe Kazan have been cast as the romantic leads. Stahl-David will be playing Dylan, a guy who just finished serving time in jail in New Mexico because he took the fall for a robbery when he wouldn’t rat out the rest of his partners. Kazan will play Rebecca, the now-standard Whedon character of the attractive girl who’s also a little skinny and awkward. She’s married to an older doctor and living in Connecticut.

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Good news for people who like backlashing against things that get popular; Fox Searchlight has signed Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris to make their first film since their breakthrough indie Little Miss Sunshine made a bunch of money and helped launch Steve Carell and Paul Dano’s film careers back in 2006. This new project, called He Loves Me, is being written by and will star Zoe Kazan. Her real life beau, Dano, will re-team with the Sunshine directors to star as the male lead. Also, there have been some rumblings that Jeff Bridges is being looked at to play another role. There’s yet to be any word on what this one will be about, but it has to be seen as a get for Fox Searchlight regardless. It’s been five years since Dayton and Faris made Little Miss Sunshine, and they haven’t been able to successfully get another project together since. The last time Searchlight took a chance on this duo there was money to be made, press to be generated, and Oscar nominations to be had. With that amount of big expectations behind it, He Loves Me is bound to be a project worth keeping our peepers on going forward. [Deadline Placitas]

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Happythankyoumoreplease unfolds in familiarly quirky, coming-of-age indie territory. Yet, despite its propensity for clichés and occasionally sappy tone, as exemplified by the film’s tagline – “go get yourself loved” – there’s an uncomfortable honesty at the heart of writer-director-star Josh Radnor’s first behind-the-camera effort. Somehow, the manifold plot devices (alopecia, photography, a cute foster kid) never detract from the picture’s winning evocation of the peculiar status of life spent as a struggling twenty-something, barely afloat in New York City. Radnor’s script is well-attuned to the lonely disorientation of being young and less than wealthy in the increasingly gentrified, high-end Big Apple and the daunting soul-searching that comes with the realization that maybe you were never meant to make it.

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Meek’s Cutoff hit the festival circuit hard and received a strong amount of praise for its visual style and its look at lives on the line in the desert of 1845 Oregon. Michelle Williams leads a fantastic cast including Paul Dano, Bruce Greenwood, Zoe Kazan, Neal Huff, and Will Patton in what appears to be Oregon Trail: The Movie if everything went wrong and you couldn’t trust the person you depended on the most. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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There is a fine line to walk as an indie dramedy, and HappyThankYouMorePlease seems to walk right up to the line and then raise its eyebrow. On the optimistic front, Neil really loved it when he saw it at Sundance last year and talked it up as the natural next step in the evolution of romantic comedies signified by 500 Days of Summer. The comparison seems obvious even from just the trailer, but Josh Radnor (of How I Met Your Mother) seems to want to juggle more than one relationship here with his writing/directing/starring debut. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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A guide with a new challenge everyday to drag you, willfully kicking and screaming, from the rut that you’re in. Sing a song, throw something you love away, write to the Pope. If you follow the book’s instructions, you’re promised 365 new experiences.

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