Trailer: “The Invention Of Lying”

June 29, 2009

I really love anything Ricky Gervais does – even “Ghost Town” was good! – and this looks great.

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Release date: September 25, 2009


Opening Today: “The Hurt Locker”

June 26, 2009

the hurt locker poster The Times’s A.O. Scott:

If “The Hurt Locker” is not the best action movie of the summer, I’ll blow up my car. The movie is a viscerally exciting, adrenaline-soaked tour de force of suspense and surprise, full of explosions and hectic scenes of combat, but it blows a hole in the condescending assumption that such effects are just empty spectacle or mindless noise. [Director Kathryn] Bigelow … has an almost uncanny understanding of the circuitry that connects eyes, ears, nerves and brain. She is one of the few directors for whom action-movie-making and the cinema of ideas are synonymous.

Trailer (FIXED):

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“The Hurt Locker” opens today in NY and LA; July 10 nationwide.

More: Rotten Tomatoes (97% overall / 91% top critics) / NYT Review


Oscars To Now Have 10 Best Picture Nominees

June 25, 2009

oscarSo now that the Oscars – which is nothing more than a tool to promote the movie industry – have 10 best picture nominations, I’m sure there will be more attention to the small but deserving films that can’t afford to spend millions of dollars on Oscar campaigns and ads in Variety, right?

I doubt it.

Blockbuster movies = more fans = more people interested to see if ‘their’ movie wins = higher ratings = more advertising profits.

The 2009 Oscars were  probably the best Oscars I’ve ever seen – which is not meant to be as much of an insult as it appears, since usually they’re borderline unwatchable – and I was kind of hoping they wouldn’t tinker with the formula.

Even with the current system of having five nominees, there is always a film or two that is considered a total long shot. I’m going to feel bad when the number of long shots swells to six, seven, or even eight films. Plus, won’t this just “water-down” the accomplishment of being nominated?

I’ve always wanted a system in which the number of nominees changes each year based upon the strength of the season. Slow year? Three nominees. Robust year? Seven nominees. I suppose that system, however, would technically be a betrayal of the title “Best Picture,” which, by definition, is completely relative to the other films that year and makes no assertion to objective quality.

The next Oscar ceremony is scheduled for March 7.

Source.


Review: “Humpday”

June 22, 2009

Humpday_(2009)_movie_posterOn Saturday, Tom and I went to a screening of “Humpday” as part of BAM CinemaFest.

I first wrote about “Humpday” here; from the press release:

It’s been a decade since Ben (Mark Duplass) and Andrew (Joshua Leonard) were the bad boys of their college campus. Ben has settled down and found a job, wife, and home. Andrew took the alternate route as a vagabond artist, skipping the globe from Chiapas to Cambodia. When Andrew shows up unannounced on Ben’s doorstep, they easily fall back into their old dynamic of macho one-upmanship. Late into the night at a wild party, the two find themselves locked in a mutual dare: to enter an amateur porn contest together. But what kind of boundary-breaking, envelope pushing porn can two straight dudes make? After the booze and “big talk” run out, only one idea remains-they will have sex together…on camera. It’s not gay; it’s beyond gay. It’s not porn; it’s art. But how exactly will it work? And more importantly, who will tell Anna (Alycia Delmore), Ben’s wife?

After the film, writer-director Lynn Shelton and actor Joshua Leonard were on hand after to participate in a Q&A and it yielded some fascinating insights into the process of making the film.

“Humpday” has been making the film festival rounds for sometime now and much has been said about how a female writer – Shelton is given the sole writing credit – was able to so accurately capture the physical dynamic and nuanced dialogue between two straight men on such a topic as primal, sensitive, and unique as two straight friends having gay sex. (This is not a Judd Apatow film, thank god).

Shelton admitted that she could never have written the dialogue you hear in the film and knowing that at the onset, chose to only loosely script each scene’s plot points and leave virtually all the dialogue to be improvised by the film’s actors. Additionally, there were very few rehearsals but very lengthy meetings preceding the shooting of each scene, which were all shot in chronological order. The result is absolutely brilliant (not to mention hilarious) and is likely partially bolstered by the fact that Duplass and Leonard are straight friends in real life, too.

What’s so hilarious about “Humpday” is that there are few actual punchlines; much of the humor and laugh-out-loud moments are a result of watching people react ever-so realistically to circumstances that are really not that bizarre. The dialogue, physicality, and editing spotlight the nuances of these scenes so effectively and create such intimacy that you can’t help to laugh along. (It should also be noted that the film never traffics in anything that is even remotely anti-gay or degrading to gay people – again, not a Judd Apatow production.)

While most of the screen time is given to Ben and Andrew, Alycia Delmore – who plays the wife of Ben – presents a  wonderful, multi-dimensional character (again, not a Judd Apatow film) that is especially brilliant in the scene in which she learns of Ben and Andrew’s plan.

In asked about her motivations to write the film, Shelton said she was fascinated by how, even among her very liberal, gay-accepting friends there still was a seed of “homosexual anxiety” – a fear that a straight male in his mid-thirties may be gay and not know it. (Curiously, she noted that one viewer in his 60s told her that it finally changed his mind about gay rights and that being gay is surely not a choice.)

There are tons of meta issues you can pull from the film about heterosexuality, straight male friendships, masculinity, marriage, and sex.  The film, thankfully, does not get weighted-down in these conversations but instead revels in the awkwardness created by the intersection of them all; it is more about friendship, machismo, and one’s own self image than questions of (homo)sexuality or the logistics of anal sex.

“Humpday” will see a wide release July 10. It is, unfortunately, sharing an opening weekend with “Bruno.” While I haven’t seen Bruno, I can guarantee that “Humpday” is loads funnier and definitely smarter.

Highly recommended.

More: Trailer; Rotten Tomatoes (100%!)


Out Today In New York & LA: “Moon”

June 12, 2009

The trailer is definitely intriguing:

Metro (the free daily) only gave it 2/5 ‘globes’ but the Times seemed more positive, although not gushing.

Still interested in seeing it, I think.

More: Rotten Tomatoes (86%) / NYT Review


Trailer: “Humpday”

May 8, 2009

Two straight friends decide to make a porno together.

From the press release:

It’s been a decade since Ben (Duplass) and Andrew (Leonard) were the bad boys of their college campus. Ben has settled down and found a job, wife, and home. Andrew took the alternate route as a vagabond artist, skipping the globe from Chiapas to Cambodia. When Andrew shows up unannounced on Ben’s doorstep, they easily fall back into their old dynamic of macho one-upmanship. Late into the night at a wild party, the two find themselves locked in a mutual dare: to enter an amateur porn contest together. But what kind of boundary-breaking, envelope pushing porn can two straight dudes make? After the booze and “big talk” run out, only one idea remains-they will have sex together…on camera. It’s not gay; it’s beyond gay. It’s not porn; it’s art. But how exactly will it work? And more importantly, who will tell Anna (Delmore), Ben’s wife?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

In theaters July 10.

Official Website.


Outrage Regarding “Outrage” Begins With Ed Koch

April 30, 2009

ed_koch…but not for the reason you’d expect.

The documentary, which examines closeted anti-gay lawmakers and that I posted about here, premiered at the TriBeCa Film Festival last week and has already pissed off former NYC Mayor Ed Koch. The 84-year-old lifelong bachelor has always denied being gay or, of late, refused to address questions about his personal life, but being essentially outed in the film is not what upset him – it’s the distortion of his record: the film apparently claims that Koch’s “record on AIDS and gay rights was virtually nonexistent” and Koch sees it differently.

Page Six reports:

“It’s a [bleep]ing outrage,” Koch told Page Six yesterday. “Bella Abzug and I, in the early ’70s, introduced in Congress a bill that would outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

When he was elected mayor in 1977, one of his first acts was to ban such discrimination by city agencies. “And when we later said the law applied to contractors doing business with the city, the Catholic Church and the Salvation Army sued me,” Koch said.

“In 1984, I was the first mayor to march in the Gay Pride Parade. I was the first mayor to appoint openly gay judges…”

I’m going take Koch on his word for the above but note that those points don’t contradict the criticism that has been leveraged against him. Specifically, Koch’s Wikipedia page notes that Larry Kramer, among others, have criticized Koch for essentially ignoring the NYC AIDS epidemic of ’82-’83, presumably out of fear that it would lend credence to the rumor of his homosexuality.

While I’ve already expressed that I’m excited for “Outraged,” I’m hoping Koch isn’t too central to the film. I kinda feel bad that people are still hounding this 84-year-old about his sexuality and even if he did ignore the NYC AIDS epidemic of ’82-’83 – a topic on which I am decidedly ignorant but will acknowledge is an obviously selfish and egregious act of self-preservation at the expense of others – surely there are still bigger fish to fry in the ocean of closeted politicians who screw the LGBT population. (Right?)

It will be interesting to see if and how other subjects of the film respond.

“Outrage” opens in select theaters May 8.

More at Page Six (NYP)
“Outrage” Trailer