Apple released the new trailer for THE KINGS OF SUMMER. For the first time in my career as a film critic, my name and quote made the front page for a film there. I’m also quoted in the trailer (same quote), which is still awesome. I love this film a whole, whole lot.
Breathe easy everyone, King David Gordon Green has returned to making good movies again. It’s been four films since the former indie auteur has made a solid one, and three of those were not under studio restraints. After The Sitter shit on everything Green worked so hard for, I worried we’d never get back the man so many of us movie geeks once adored for his Sundance hits All the Real Girls and Snow Angels, and the dystopian future we read about in the Bible was on its way.
Since science or logic will never be able to comprehend or understand what was going through Green’s mind when he made Your Highness and The Sitter, and he’ll probably never explain or defend these films, we’re going to pretend they never, ever happened. Pineapple Express was a wacky and humorous attempt at mixing comedians with hard violence and drugs, and though sub-par, it was at least enjoyable.
Perhaps The Sitter dropping a bomb at the box office was a wake up call. Or maybe it was the broken hearts of Green admirers from all over. But Prince Avalanche, a remake of the Icelandic film Either Way, marks Green’s triumphant return to compelling independent film storytelling.
Prince Avalanche stars Paul Rudd as Alvin and Emile Hirsch as Lance. They work together in the middle of a wooded nowhere as highway road workers after a 1987 disaster. Their job is to rebuild what the fire destroyed. They spend their days spraying yellow lines on the street and hammering-in posts. They dress in the same blue jean overalls Kurt Russell wears in Big Trouble in Little China, except they don’t look nearly as awesome or fit as him. After work is done, they fix up a tent, cook their food, and diddle daddle until it’s time for sleep. For the adventurous, it sounds like an awesome gig. But the problem here is, well, Alvin hates Lance. A whole lot. Like the road they’re fixing, their friendship is a one way street. They constantly fight, bicker, and throw tools at each other.
But why does Alvin hate Lance so much? For starters, Lance has no sense of decorum. All he wants to do is talk about sex (“man-squeezed” is what he proudly coins it) and blast rock music on the boombox. Alvin’s favorite pastime is listening to Rosetta Stone-esque cassette tapes that teach him how to speak German. Before he brought on Lance, this construction job offered him something of immeasurable value: solitude. But Lance is Alvin’s girlfriend’s little brother, so he sucked it up, and gave this ding dong a summer job with him. Alvin sacrificed his sanity and much wanted detachment from the real world for love. Oof.
No matter if it’s comedy or drama, Paul Rudd can crank the charm in every role he does. He’s proven time and time again that he’s a very funny guy, but when the role needs it, he can project maturity and sincerity. This is what makes Rudd one of today’s most in-demand actors. Green uses Rudd’s charisma as a tool to give this story a face. Green shows us the more righteous side of Rudd. Smart move for both Green and Rudd too, because this performance is outstanding.
“How did Emile Hirsch keep up with the charismatic Paul Rudd?” you probably want to know. The simple answer is this: playing dumb. Hirsch broke from the teenage movie career phase, focused on more serious leading roles (Into the Wild being the most notable), and took a sharp left turn into Supporting Character Goontown with his last two films. The result? Utter brilliance. In Killer Joe, he plays an ignorant redneck with his eye on the prize: money. The results end very bad for him. In Prince Avalanche, he’s a stubborn hillbilly who refuses to grow up. To quote Alvin, Lance “quite realistically cannot amount to anything.” Playing a goon comes natural to Hirsch, which only means he’s good at convincing people. He’s a real actor.
There are plenty of laughs in Prince Avalanche, especially when Alvin and Lance are screaming obscenities at each other, but this story goes deeper than the conventional story of an unlikely friendship. Even though they see the world through different perspectives, there’s no denying these two have a level of intimacy between them. What makes this a compelling film is how these characters grow together, while being one another’s only source of companionship.
I applaud Green so much for leaving the studio system to make a film on his own merit and terms. Prince Avalanche was made in secret and nobody knew a thing about it until after production wrapped. Small stories with a heart is what Green is good at telling, and that’s exactly what Prince Avalanche is – a little story with a big beating heart. Welcome back, dude.
If David Lynch and David Cronenberg teamed up with Werner Herzog early in their careers and made a movie together, it would have been Calvin Reeder’s The Rambler. Wherever you stand with these three auteurs, that’s either a big, big compliment, or it’s quite the opposite. I proudly stand on the former side of the fence, so this review is going to say some flattering things about The Rambler, a mixture of unhinged brilliance, idiocy, unsettling confusion, and a whole lot of chaos.
The Rambler opens with its titular character (Dermot Mulroney) being released from jail. We’re not sure why he was in jail, and it definitely wasn’t to ride ponies, but from the look of his welcome home party — full of miscreants — it’s safe to assume he did something pretty moronic to get in. Well, somebody in Hell still likes him, because he has a run-down mobile home, a good-for-nothing girlfriend (Natasha Lyonne) who loves booze as much as she loves him, and a shit job at the local pawn shop waiting for him. Despite his “good” fortune, The Rambler decides to hit the road to make his way to his brother’s ranch, where’s he’s promised a good job and healthy life. That is, if he can make it to the ranch.
The Rambler is a movie that lives by its own rules, and it works on its own terms. You have to accept the world Reeder has created for The Rambler, or chances are you won’t like it. It’s a narrative and there’s a plot, but a lot built inside this movie is batshit crazy. Along The Rambler’s odyssey to Oregon, he meets a mad scientist who thinks he’s discovered how to capture dreams by way of VHS, a doomed girl simply named The Girl (Lindsay Pulsipher, The Oregonian) who comes and goes in every new place he winds up, and a cab driver who just wants to see the movie Frankenstein remade in color. This is quite a concoction of animated characters.
Picking Mulroney as the lead was an odd, but great choice. Most roles we’ve seen him play are lovable hunks in conventional rom-coms. In The Rambler, he plays a man who’s drifting in and out of consciousness as he gallivants aimlessly to his brother’s ranch in Oregon. The Rambler accepts all the oddities he comes across through his journey like it ain’t no thing. It’s fun watching Mulroney break from his normal routine and star in something, well, colorful. I don’t think this movie would have been as effective without him, since most of the characters he’s known for playing are straight-laced, handsome, and have a good heart. As The Rambler, he’s an ignorant, worthless human being who only exists because he still breathes life. That’s the only quality he has. Everything else he duly notes and disregards.
I haven’t seen Reeder’s first film, The Oregonian, so I can’t compare The Rambler to it, but I can say unconventional storytelling is what he’s here to do. Whether it makes sense or not, he’s wants to take you on a bonkers journey of madness. I can’t tell you what Lynch’s Mulhulland Dr. is about, but I can say that I love it, and not because it’s a Lynch film, but because it challenges the human psyche — it breaks the rules of reality. That’s exactly what The Rambler does. It’s a 90-minute psychotic journey through fucking madness. If you ever wondered what it’s like to live in Hell on Earth, The Rambler will be your Huckleberry.
Poor Rachel (Kathryn Hahn). Although she’s married to the man of her dreams, Jeff (Josh Radnor), leads a really nice lifestyle, and has a healthy son, she’s bored as hell as a stay-at-home housewife. Her friends are starting to suck, because they all have day jobs and/or do normal mom things. And Jeff never wants to have sex. They high five in passing more often than they copulate, and Jeff even has an unspoken “no sex tonight” safe phrase when they’re going to bed.
In an attempt to spice up their sex life, she, along with Jeff and some of their friends, go to a strip club. Here’s where it gets, well, a bit odd. After getting a lap dance from a young stripper named McKenna (Juno Temple), Rachel’s curiosity and boredom get the best of her, and she takes it upon herself to help McKenna out of her current unhealthy lifestyle. Things will go one of two ways: 1) Genius. 2) Stupidly bad.
Afternoon Delight explores the off-kilter world of Silver Lake, a highly hip neighborhood in Los Angeles, California, full of highly hip (and crazy) people. This will probably go unnoticed by folks who don’t live in L.A., but it sure hits home for those of us who do. But don’t worry, there’s enough delightful entertainment packed into this movie, you don’t need to be a native to enjoy. There is, however, one thing you should know about Los Angeles — everyone here has a therapist. Even therapists have therapists.
Afternoon Delight is writer/director Jill Soloway’s feature film debut, and she’s brought together a lovely cast. Kathryn Hahn branded herself in small-but-memorable roles on TV and in films (Parks and Rec, Anchorman, Step Brothers), but she takes the lead as Rachel and knocks it out of the park. She’s fierce, vulnerable, crazy, and courageous, all at the same time. Josh Radnor, who is better known as playing the hopeless romantic in long-running sitcom How I Met Your Mother, steps out of the norm in this film, but still manages to play a man with a gentle heart. Radnor is a very likable guy, and will always get a thumbs up from me for playing characters who wear their heart on their sleeve.
We also get a few scenes with the great Jane Lynch as Rachel’s therapist, who mostly talks about her problems rather than listen to Rachel. Lynch is proof that a cinematic God exists. Without Lynch, sharp deadpan comedy with a splash of ignorance would not be as fun. Her presence is never a letdown. She makes every moment memorable in every movie she’s in, and Afternoon Delight is no exception.
We also get yet another raunchy, white trash performance out of Juno Temple (Dirty Girl, Killer Joe, Kaboom). I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen her in a movie with her clothes on. Yes, she’s nice to look at, but she’s also very talented, so it would be great not to see her as the naked bimbo-in-distress for once. However, Temple differentiates this character by stripping away the adult dancer cliché and playing McKenna with a lot of heart. Temple makes McKenna lovable in an eerily fitting way.
What’s especially delightful is that Soloway’s confident direction maintains a steady balance between witty comedy and heavy drama. There are moments where you will laugh out loud, and there are moments where you will think to yourself, “better Rachel than me.” And as cliche as it may be, that’s life — it’s full of funny little moments, full of heartbreak and sadness, and full of love. Love, happiness, and finding peace take a little time. Afternoon Delight captures these feelings in the most sincere way possible.
It’s been nine years since elusive filmmaker Shane Carruth blew everyone’s minds with his super-low budget time travel movie, Primer. He took home some awards at Sundance in 2004 and had Hollywood swinging from his nut sack on gold threads. But, Carruth somewhat vanished from the film scene and didn’t make another movie until now.
His sophomore feature is Upstream Color. I would tell you what it’s about, but your guess is as good as mine and I’ve seen it. What I can tell you is that it’s definitely a movie, actors are in it, and there’s a plot — I’m just not too sure what it is.
Upstream Color is a movie that needs to be seen completely blind — don’t watch the trailers, don’t read the synopsis, and maybe stop reading here. I’m going to be as vague as possible from what I’ve gathered, so this review won’t give away much.
The protagonist is Kris (Amy Seimetz). She’s an editor at a film company. One night she’s robbed and tasered by a hoodlum. He injects a worm inside of her, for reasons we do not know, and soon after, her life starts to feel like a really bad acid trip that would make Hunter S. Thompson smile from ear to ear.
Casting Amy Seimetz as the lead couldn’t have been better. This indie darling is constantly working on abstract films and can play the delirious character very calmly and cool. Seimetz has a personable essence to her, which makes her relatable and home-y. As Kris, we’re not sure if we’re supposed to feel sorry for her or be on her side — we just know she’s being put through the ringer as punishment or for redemption. Perhaps this is what Carruth wants the audience to decide.
Upstream Color is a very layered and complex movie. But it’s also rich and beautiful and I expect nothing less from the crowded and radiant mind of Carruth. But it’s difficult to express how much I admire this film without writing a whole lot of positive things to say. You will not know what you’re watching until the very, very end, and even then, chances are high that you still will not know what you just saw.
What makes this a compelling piece of work is the discussions with your friends that will take place after seeing Upstream Color. Theories are endless and chances are none of them are wrong. There are so many moving parts in Upstream Color — it’s a well-oiled machine. Just a very confusing well-oiled machine.
Have you ever wanted to unplug from the world? I mean, really, really unplug. Not for a day, or a week, but for as long as you can possibly can. Or even better, what about giving life a change and doing something completely out of your comfort zone? I have this fantasy that one day I’ll disappear from the online world and years later you’ll find me working on a boat, gutting fish in a long beard and looking tough. But let’s be honest, that’ll never happen. I’m not brave enough to step outside of what I know best. But you know who was? David Sedaris.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re aware of who the highly celebrated Sedaris is from his acclaimed essays and books. And you may also know that Sedaris has never given any filmmaker his blessing to make one of his deeply personal and unapologetic stories into a feature film. Many directors have tried, but he has shot them down. That is, until now — he finally gave one man a chance, 29-year-old filmmaker Kyle Patrick Alvarez.
At 25, Alvarez made his first feature called Easier with Practice, which earned him the Someone to Watch award at the Film Independent Spirit Awards in 2010, and deservedly so. This film is arresting in every way possible and looks like it was made by a Hollywood veteran. Easier with Practice was adapted from an article Alvarez found in GQ. He took a very short essay and turned it into a poignant and touching feature film. So it’s a no-brainer as to why Sedaris gave Alvarez his blessing, which brings us to C.O.G.
C.O.G. (pronounced “see-oh-gee”) is based on Sedaris’ short essay of the same name, and takes place at a time in his life when he left his family and friends behind to go work on an apple farm. Instead of getting his Ph.D., he opted for a change of pace to get his hands a little dirty. Stepping outside his comfort zone, if you will. He tells people he’s “just taking some time off,” but it’s more of a “fuck you” to his family since they’re currently not speaking. We’re not sure why, we just know he desperately wanted to get away. And he did.
When we first meet David (Jonathan Groff), err, Samuel … let’s go back a step — David doesn’t want people to know his name is David, so he goes by Samuel (not Sam - formality is important to him). He’s on a bus to his new paradise but already losing his mind. He un-lucked out and took the bus that carries the most insane passengers imaginable. We laugh as we watch them nag at him, but it surely sucks for him. Samuel has a sharp tongue and when one of the passengers persistently tells him to put down the book he’s reading and pick up the Bible, he tells the persistent traveler that the sacred book he really wants him to read is “poorly written.” This well-educated young man is a brash smart-ass and feeds off it.
When he arrives on the farm, he calls his mother and leaves her a voicemail. “Maybe you’ll hear from me, but you probably won’t,” he says, right before hanging up. His adventure begins on this apple farm, but his journey takes crazy and unexpected turns, and he winds up becoming an clock-making apprentice to Jon (Denis O’Hare), a man who lives and breathes by that aforementioned Book Samuel once called poorly written. They are polar opposites, and they will either bond, or they won’t. It all depends on whether or not Samuel is a true C.O.G. — Child of God.
C.O.G. has some really spectacular performances. Jonathan Groff is widely known from Glee, but C.O.G. will surely make him one of the breakout stars of 2013. Unsure where he’ll end up, Samuel hits the ground running and makes every situation he’s in work. Groff helps Samuel find his feet with natural presence of determination and curiosity. And casting Denis O’Hare as the nutty Jesus freak was a smart choice. O’Hare fits right in with the Michael Shannons and John Hawkeses of Hollywood — he might not be the prettiest boy of the ball, but he’s unmistakably one of the most magnetic actors working in Hollywood. Alvarez gives him plenty of room to show that here.
These two performances really shine, but the movie soars based on Alvarez’ ability to tell this particular story. C.O.G. has a lot of heart in it, and that’s due to his careful direction and steadfast faithfulness to Sedaris’ creation, as well as the additional flavors he adds to keep it delicious. C.O.G. starts out as a journey of wanted changes, and turns into an compelling movie about finding yourself through that often unpleasant and unexpected crazy little thing we call “life.” Alvarez turns a personal account from Sedaris into his own story. C.O.G. is marvelous.
Porn. Masturbation. Scarlett Johansson acting sexier than ever. A pot-smoking Julianne Moore. Tony Fucking Danza. Sex. Sex. Sex. Everything you’ve always wanted in the directorial debut of Boy Wonder Joseph Gordon-Levitt is here, and it’s called “Don Jon’s Addiction.”
The film tells the story of himbo Don Jon (Gordon-Levitt in the titular role), who only cares about a small number of things in his life: his body, his pad, his ride (classic SS Camaro), his bros, going to church (seriously), fucking as many women as he can, and most importantly, masturbating to porn roughly 15-20 times a week. Yeah, it gets weird. But it’s also sexy, hilarious, and awesome. Read our review of the movie here.
The film premiered for the world just a few days ago at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, was quickly picked up by Relativity Media for a summer release and shortly after, we sat down with Gordon-Levitt, Moore, and Danza to talk about the film. And porn. We definitely talked about porn.
Hey, what’s up man?
Chase Whale! Good to see you, man!
Good to see you too!
You guys are..the website is…is the website Gordon and Whale no longer?
Yeah, I shut that down last August.
So now I’m writing for Twitch and freelancing.
Cool! Well, I liked that website.
Thank you very much! I did too. But, finances were getting less and less.
Onwards and upwards.
Yeah, so on to better things. But it was fun while it lasted.
Yeah, right on. You guys were one of the first supporters of hitRECord. Maybe the first movie blogs that was like, “This is a cool thing this guy is doing!” I really appreciated that.
Oh wow, that’s awesome! Thank you for saying that….
You worked with some of the greatest directors in the world last year. What were some of the biggest takeaways from the ways those guys worked going into directing your first feature?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Great question. Getting the chance to work with and watch Rian [Johnson] and Chris [Nolan] and Steven [Spielberg] all in one year was a big part of why I felt encouraged to go try. One thing I could say that I noticed that all three of those guys had in common, and they’re all three very different filmmakers, but they all have a great sense of balancing their vision, that they’ve done their homework for, and [being ready for] spontaneous things that arrive on the day.
Julianne Moore: That’s a hard thing to do.
JGL: It is, and that I think is right at the crux of what makes a good director: is knowing when to stick to what you thought it was going to be and when to go with what it’s now sort of coming to be. Rian and Chris and Steven are all really good at that, and it was something I sort of cheated on and kept in mind a lot while I was directing. Oftentimes it would be like, “This is one of those moments! I’m being asked right now if we’re going to do it the way I thought we were going to do it or if we’re going to try something new. All right.” Those are the decisions that I think make up a lot of what a director does.
The film focuses on a man addicted to masturbating to porn. What made you want to tell such a gutsy and risky story for your first directorial feature?
JGL : I mean, I’ll tell you how I got to that subject matter. But…I knew that if I was going to make a movie and be in charge then I wanted to do something that I couldn’t do otherwise. You know? I wanted to do something that would probably have not happened if I wasn’t making it happen. So, you know I made a short film that played here at Sundance called “Sparks,” which I really like and I’m really proud of it. It’s an adaptation of an Elmore Leonardshort story and while I think it’s really good, it wasn’t something that could not have happened without me. You know what I mean? If that makes sense.
Tony Danza: [It was] more conventional.
JGL: It was more conventional. I mean, Elmore Leonard is a genre writer that is arguably the best at that crime genre. But I knew if I was going to write and direct a movie I wanted to really try something, and I wanted to try to make a love story. What I’ve noticed about love is what’s always getting in the way — people objectifying each other. Putting expectations on each other that they’ve learned from various places. Whether it’s their family or from friends or from their church or from the media. So I thought a love story about a relationship between a guy who watches too much porn and girl who watches too many romantic Hollywood movies would really bring that theme out. And that was the beginning of it.
TD: You have to wonder what’s harder on relationships, right? Is it the romantic ideal? Or was it the pornography?
JGL: I think it’s really…
TD: Too close to call? [laughing]
How grueling was it watching hours of porn footage to get the right scenes to use for the film?
JGL: It was a grueling process and not as exciting as it sounds [laughing]. Porn can get pretty gross, especially if you watch a lot of it. We were very careful about picking just the right moments, just the right videos, and cropping them just the right way so that it feels like you’re seeing more than you’re actually seeing. You don’t technically see anything that’s not allowed in a rated R movie.
Julianne, you’ve taken some daring roles in your career with up-and-coming directors. How do you decide when it’s just daring enough for you to take?
JM: Oh, that’s a good question! I like that. You know, first-time directors are generally writer-directors, and that’s initially how I make my decision. Because I feel if somebody is able to articulate their vision in the script they’re going to be able to articulate it to me on set as a director and through their shots. It’s been important to me in my career that I have people who are able to do that, and Joseph has been my most successful collaboration.
But, in answer to your question, something just being daring just for being daring is not simply effective. That’s not what I’m looking for — I’m looking for something that is emotionally resonating. And in this case I was reading the script and my character shows up and I had an expectation of what she was going to be and it completely confounded my expectations, and I was really touched by it and surprised. I was like, hey! That was actually a different way. The fact that she is someone who is so unbelievably private and committed to being authentic and unable to be inaunthentic was really, really interesting.
Tony, what’s it like watching Joe grow from a little boy in “Angels In The Outfield” to a leading man who is now a director?
TD: Well, I really loved it when we first met. I felt this certain paternal thing with Joe on “Angels In The Outfield.” So even though we may not see each other I keep my eye on him and it’s just been an amazing evolution, and it’s not surprising I have to tell you. Because even then you could tell he was watching everybody, he was interested in the craft of it right from the beginning. It wasn’t about the superficial stuff it was about the work even then. So I’m not surprised. I am surprised about how good the movie is. [JGL laughs] I’m not kidding! Not that I didn’t think you were going to make a great movie.
JGL: Well I’m glad to hear it.
TD: I just thought that the movie played like gangbusters last night. It’s so sexy! And it’s so like, right there! You know you feel it. And by the way it’s an old story. It’s the same old story we’ve been telling only it uses this device that I think is so prevalent and so problematic in our society.
Absolutely. So talking about your character, what was the best part about playing such a heartless bastard?
TD: Well you get to do something that is totally against type. One of the things that Joe constantly told me was “No, I still like you! I still like you. I want you to get madder.” [they laugh]
JGL: Well and he’s so lovable! Every time you see Tony on screen you just can’t help but smile. So I wanted to…
TD: Break the spell of that….So I think that was the fun of it, was to try see if you could do that without making a caricature out of it. I grew up in a family where if they weren’t yelling, they didn’t care. So that was my favorite archetype.
Joe, you’re kind of a veteran now at Sundance. You’ve acted in films that premieried here and it’s your third year here in collaboration with hitRECord. What’s it like to have the film you directed premier here?
JGL: It’s deeply meaningful. I feel like Sundance is more than just a festival, it’s even more than the institute. It’s a community. I think what Mr. Redford created here is invaluable to people who love movies, in this country especially. Without this community here to encourage each other and let each other know that it’s okay you don’t have to only chase box office, there’s more to movies than that. Sundance is really the epicenter of that sentiment in this country. That’s always resonated with me because I just love movies and love acting and love making things. I would do it whether I was making money doing it or not. And that’s, I think, what people are about here and that’s why I feel so connected to it and why it means so much to have such a great reception for the movie here, especially in Sundance in particular.
"Don Jon’s Addiction" will be released sometime later this summer.
The most rewarding part of a film festival is going into movie completely blind and walking out slack-jawed. This happened to me last year at Sundance with two films: Beasts of the Southern Wild and Smashed. If you follow me on Twitter, then you already know how loud I’ve been about both films. These two floored me and I’ve championed them since first rushing out of the theater to tweet my first reactions.
I’m hoping a heavy number of films will give me that same exhilarating feeling this year, but there are some I’m already eagerly anticipating. Here’s five.
The Spectacular Now
Based on the novel by Tim Tharp, The Spectacular Now is an unconventional high school love story directed by James Ponsoldt, who co-wrote and directed Smashed. Miles Teller (Rabbit Hole) takes the lead with Shailene Woodley (The Descendants), Brie Larson (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Fast Times at Ridgemont High), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Smashed), and Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights) rounding out the stellar cast. I want to see this spectacular-sounding movie right now.
It’s been nine years since filmmaker Shane Carruth blew the roof off independent cinema with his first feature, a super low-budget time travel movie, called Primer. Premiering at Sundance in 2003, Carruth deservingly took home the Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition and the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize for Best Writing and Directing. Then he disappeared and a lot of movie geeks (myself included) wept.
Well, the auteur is back in Park City with his sophomore feature, Upstream Color. I could tell you the complexed plot synopsis from Sundance’s website, but it’ll make you go cross-eyed. Just know only a fool with would miss this. Carruth also stars in the film, along with indie darling Amy Seimetz, and up-and-comer Frank Mosley (keep a sharp eye on this guy).
Highly acclaimed author David Sedaris has been a stickler (and rightfully so) about who he wants to adapt his short stories into a film. He has shot down many prolific directors, been fickle about a few, and for the first time in history, he gave someone his full blessing. That someone is Kyle Patrick Alvarez, who won the Someone to Watch award at the 2010 Independent Spirit Awards for his first feature, Easier with Practice. Here’s what will knock you off your couch: Alvarez was 26 when he made that film. When I was 26, I was still trying to figure out which cereal was my favorite and how many creative excuses I could come up with to not go to work.
The essay Alvarez adapted is taken from the novel Naked, and is of the same name, C.O.G.. The film follows a young man who, while working on an apple farm, learns about the upsets life so conveniently hands out. Adapting a Sedaris short story into a feature is unquestionably difficult, but don’t worry your pretty little head, Alvarez is no stranger to tailoring short stories. Easier with Practice was an essay written by Davy Rothbart for GQ Magazine. In Kyle I trust.
Don Jon’s Addiction
Joseph Gordon-Levitt started acting as a child and has risen to become one of the most prolific and successful actors working today. Considering the long history of child actors who fade away, this is already an incredible accomplishment. But this boy wonder is a go-getter and continues to expand his flourishing career in all sorts of diverse and artful directions. In a few weeks, I’ll be seeing his directorial debut, Don Jon’s Addiction, about the times of a rico suave unsatisfied with his current very gifted sex life. So, like anyone who can get any lady he wants, he seeks out a new challenge. Levitt also wrote the film, and and stars alongside Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly, and Rob Brown.
Please, God let this year be the triumphant return of writer/director David Gordon Green. Green made his mark at Sundance in 2003 with All the Real Girls, where he took home the Grand Jury and Special Jury awards in the U.S. Dramatic Competition. He then returned in 2007 with the compelling feature, Snow Angels. His career took a misguided nosedive when he started making appalling major studio stoner comedies, which confused everyone, everywhere. I was worried The Sitter would be the end of Green’s once-promising career, but it appears that he’s remembered how to make a notable film again, an adjective his last three weren’t.
Starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, Prince Avalanche is adapted from the Icelandic feature film, Either Way, about bickering friends who bond through humor and filthy bantering. Sundance claims Green “gets back to his independent roots” with this film, so the world will now be a better place.