Every day seems to bring news of another biopic film in the works. What can we say; audiences can't get enough of famous dead celebrities — and presidents, for that matter. While J.D Salinger might roll over his in grave over the latest Salinger documentary, the autobiographical film puts the power and story into the hands of the filmmaker with deeply personal results that blend fact with fiction imperceptibly. Here's a sampling of some memoir-cum-movie picks.
Short Term 12
Screenwriter and director Destin Cretton took his time spent working at a foster care facility and turned it into one of the most moving films of this year. His first-hand experience shapes the film and prevents it from veering into after-school special territory, while making the audience feel like they experienced it with him.
When faced with a grim diagnosis such as spinal cancer, it helps to have Seth Rogen as your best friend to help you cope through comedy. After being diagnosed at the age of 24, comedy writer Will Reiser wrote a screenplay with Rogen about what happened to their friendship after the diagnosis and all the awkward interactions that illness can bring.
Jonathan Caouette made indie film history when he made his autobiographical documentary for only $218.32. Then again, most of the film is made up of family movies and personal footage from age 11 and up. While it may not be familiar to a large audience, Caouette's story is equally troubling as it is fascinating — thanks to his manic mother and schizophrenic storytelling.
This movie just further proved that none of us would ever be as cool as Cameron Crowe. At the ripe age of 16, he finagled a job reporting for Rolling Stone, toured with the Allman Brothers Band, lost his virginity to three groupies AND made a highly successful movie out of it. Also, rest assured; Penny Lane is real.
Lena Dunham's commitment to rooting her HBO series Girls in reality is well documented; as anyone who's seen the Q-tip episode can attest. Before she mined her real life experiences of gay ex-boyfriends and British ex-pat artists as best friends, her first feature laid the groundwork for all the creative-nonfiction that was to follow. If it's hard to separate Dunham from her onscreen personas, than that means her job is done.
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Michael Moore posts election reaction On his first post-election post, filmmaker Michael Moore gives readers 17 reasons not to slit their wrists.
"Ok, it sucks. Really sucks," Moore rants on his official Web site. "But before you go and cash it all in, let's, in the words of Monty Python, 'always look on the bright side of life!' There IS some good news from Tuesday's election." Moore, whose anti-Bush documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 took in more that $120 million at the box office, writes: "Gays, thanks to the ballot measures passed on Tuesday, cannot get married in 11 new states. Thank God. Just think of all those wedding gifts we won't have to buy now." What other silver linings does Moore see? "Admit it: We like the Bush twins and we don't want them to go away," he jokes.
Rape suspect appears on TV's Blind Date
A woman in Ventura, Calif., watching an episode of the TV series Blind Date, in which cameras follows two strangers fixed up by the show on their first date, called police when she recognized the man who had raped her 14 months earlier. According to the Los Angeles Times, the woman recorded the episode and turned the tape over to local authorities, who then contacted Santa Barbara police. Ulrick Kevin White, 31, was arrested on suspicion of raping and kidnapping the woman and is being held at the Ventura County Jail on $500,000 bail. White is also awaiting trial on suspicion of breaking into the Santa Barbara home of a 22-year-old student after allegedly following her home in November 2003. "The chances against seeing someone like that on TV are pretty astronomical," Det. Russ Robinson said.
Judge in Jackson case won't remove prosecutor
A California judge Thursday rejected a bid by Michael Jackson's lawyers to remove District Attorney Tom Sneddon from the pop star's child-molestation case, The Associated Press reports. Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau argued Sneddon had become so determined to convict Jackson that he had lost his sense of justice and bore a grudge against the singer that dated back to 1993. But Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville ruled during a pretrial hearing in Santa Maria there was no proof Sneddon had acted improperly or overzealously. Jackson, who is charged in a 10-count indictment with molesting a young boy and conspiring to cover up the crime, is scheduled to stand trial beginning Jan. 31.
Band Aid to rerecord "Do They Know It's Christmas"
Paul McCartney, Bono, Robbie Williams and Dido are among the performers lined up for the new recording of the Band Aid charity single "Do They Know It's Christmas," Billboard.com reports, again to benefit famine relief in Africa. Bono will reprise his famous line "Well tonight, thank God it's them instead of you," while McCartney will play bass on the recording, credited to Band Aid 20 to commemorate the anniversary of the 1984 release. Travis' Fran Healy, meanwhile, will play guitar on the track. "If it turns out absolutely s---, it does not matter," he told Billboard.com. "What I will say is you've got to buy the record because it's the only record that's going to save lives this side of Christmas, and you can't ask for more than that." The tune will raise money for the Band Aid Trust's famine relief in Africa, specifically in the blighted Darfur region of Sudan.
Steven Soderbergh opposes loud trailers
Ocean's Twelve director Steven Soderbergh has a gripe about trailers being too loud-and he's kicked his fight up a notch. Soderbergh voiced his concerns regarding the sound level at which trailers are played at a meeting held last month by the Trailer Audio Standards Assn., an organization whose goal is to uphold exhibition loudness standards. According to Reuters, the director's complaint was that trailer volume often leads moviegoers to ask theater managers to turn it down. But managers don't always turn it back up, which leads to movie volumes being too low. Soderbergh's criticism didn't fall on deaf ears: As a result, the Cinema Advertising Council (CAC) is putting together its first set of sound standards to govern the loudness of commercials and pre-show entertainment.
Cosmetics company sues Jessica Simpson
Cosmetics maker Cosmojet Inc. filed a lawsuit Oct. 21 in Los Angeles Superior Court against singer Jessica Simpson, claiming the singer owes nearly $200,000 for about $1 million worth of product shipped for her edible cosmetic line, Dessert Beauty Inc., which includes the products "Powdered Sugar Deliciously Kissable Body Shimmer." But in a statement to the syndicated news magazine Celebrity Justice, Simpson's spokesperson said: "Jessica Simpson is a spokesperson for Dessert products and has no involvement in the day-to-day operation of the company's business. Ms. Simpson has no knowledge whether Cosmojet's claim has any basis, nor does she have any responsibility for the company's accounting and billing procedures or payment obligations."
Two U.S. films win at London film fest
Jonathan Caouette's autobiographical documentary Tarnation, about an unsettled childhood scarred by his mother's mental illness, and Nicole Kassell's The Woodsman, which stars Kevin Bacon as a child molester trying to rebuild his life after 12 years in prison, won top awards Thursday at the 48th London Film Festival's final day, the AP reports. Tarnation, compiled from home movies, videos, snapshots and audio tapes and edited on simple computer movie software, took the trophy for best first feature, while The Woodsman won the festival's Satyajit Ray award for a first feature that "reflects the artistry, compassion and humanity" of the late Indian director's work.