The directors of Little Miss Sunshine are redelivering cinematic glory with the upcoming He Loves Me, about the most despicably relatable frenzy for people in my line of work: writer’s block. Aside from an already compelling theme and winning directorial team of Valeria Faris and Jonathan Dayton, this movie has brought in a pretty impressive cast:
Paul Dano, Little Miss Sunshine’s silent nihilist will lead the way, along with Annette Bening (last year’s Best Actress contender for The Kids Are All Right), Elliott Gould (for the older crowd: M*A*S*H; for the younger: Monica’s and Ross’ dad), Zoe Kazan (It's Complicated), Deborah Ann Woll (True Blood), Steve Coogan (Alan Partridge), Chris Messina (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) and Antonio Banderas (you know who that is). Word has it that The Daily Show's Aasif Mandvi is in consideration for a part as well.
So, this movie seems to have something for everyone: the old, the young, the hip, the romantic, the nihilistic, the vampirious, the British... and with the duo that cranked out the shockingly good Little Miss Sunshine at the wheel, I'd call this a project with incredible promise.
On Friday, the much-anticipated Super 8 hits theaters and, well honestly, we're still not quite sure what it's about (this is a J.J. Abrams film, after all). But what we do know is that in the film, some kids make a movie that tells a story within the frame of the film's overarching story. That got us thinking, "what other stories use this type of narrative device? And more importantly, what are some of our favorites? Read on for a brief rundown of our favorite stories within stories.
Okay, this film may not have a "story within a story" specifically, but it plays with the idea well enough to be considered. From the brilliant mind of Charlie Kaufman, it follows a protagonist named "Charlie Kaufman" as he attempts to adapt a book called The Orchid Thief. Before he knows it, the story within the book becomes real -- kind of -- and he's lost in a world where he can't even really tell what exactly he's adapting.
One of Mel Brooks' greatest achievements (and that's saying something, considering he's Mel Brooks) plays around with the story-within-a-story concept. In the third act, the climatic fight spills onto an adjacent movie set, and then another, and then finally, the street -- reminding all of those concerned mothers everywhere that this is comedy, not racism.
Any movie with a song called "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" at its forefront is one that deserves some recognition. Steve Coogan's Hamlet 2 may not be as subtle with its "story within a story," but it's still awesome because, well, it kind of makes you want to party with Jesus, and who the heck wouldn't want to party with Jesus?
Men In Black
True, Men In Black doesn't necessarily scream "awesome storytelling" but it's still a fun, entertaining ride that's led by two charming men in Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. But where's the story within a story? At the end of the film, the camera pulls back, back and back some more until it's revealed that the galaxies we all live in (which held the story we just watched) are just an alien's marbles; a small part of a much larger game of life.
Synecdoche, New York
Oh, hey, another Charlie Kaufman film, but that's not too surprising considering he's pretty much the king of meta. In Synecdoche, New York -- in the same vein as Adaptation -- an artist gets lost in his own world. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a theater director who surprisingly lands the MacArthur Fellowship, giving him all the financial means to pursue his art the way he's always wanted - resulting in a play within a play within a play within a play within a--well, you get it.
Waiting For Guffman
Christopher Guest -- the king of mockumentaries -- might have his best one in Waiting for Guffman. Granted, the film does play with a lot of inside jokes that only those weird theater kids from college might get, but it also does a pretty great job at making fun of all those weird theater kids from college. Centering on a community theater in small town Missouri, Guest plays Corky St. Clair -- an "artiste" -- as he puts together a musical for the community called Red, White and Blaine, a musical that may not be quite as good as he thinks.
The vastly underrated comedy Galaxy Quest does a wonderful job playing with the concept of a story within a story. The film centers on the cast of a cult television show similar to Star Trek as they're abducted by real aliens in order to fight some other ET's. Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman manage to mock themselves, their fictional doppelgangers and save the world all at the same time.
Shutter Island is no Mean Streets or Raging Bull, but it's still a Martin Scorsese film led by Leonardo DiCaprio so it's probably better than most. Following a US Marshal named Teddy Daniels as he investigates the weird happenings of an island used to house the criminally insane just off the shore in Boston Harbor, Things get weirder and weird, until it's finally revealed that (SPOILER) the events happening are all just in his head (END SPOILER).
Coogan will reportedly play the London strip club tycoon in Raymond in Paul Raymond's Wonderful World Of Erotica.
Winterbottom and the actor also teamed up to make quirky comedy A Cock And Bull Story.
The Raymond film is an adaptation of Paul Willet's biography Members Only: The Life And Times Of Paul Raymond.
Raymond opened the U.K.'s first strip club, Raymond Revue Bar, in 1958. He also published the magazines Razzle, Mayfair and Men Only. He died in 2008.
The Love Actually star was named Best Supporting Actor for his role as Dr. Watson in U.K. TV series Sherlock, which was also voted the Best Drama Series at the London ceremony.
Accepting his prize, Freeman told the audience, "I know it's very fashionable to say you don't care about this stuff but I'm very chuffed (happy)."
The actor flew in for the ceremony from New Zealand where he's filming the Lord of The Rings prequel, The Hobbit.
Other big winners at the prizegiving included funnyman Steve Coogan, who accepted Best Male Comic Performance for The Trip, and comedienne Jo Brand who won the female equivalent for hospital sitcom Getting On.
The BAFTA TV Awards, held at the Grosvenor House in the British capital, celebrate the best in TV programmes.
Jack Black kind of looks homeless, so it's not really surprising that in his next project he'll star as, well, an almost-homeless dude. According to Variety, the comedian has signed on for Bailout, a picture based on Jess Walter's novel The Financial Lives of the Poets which follows a jobless man, overwhelmed with debt and weeks away from losing his home. Then, he meets a couple of guys in a supermarket (always the best place for financial meetings) and they offer him a "bizarre" business opportunity that may change his life.
The picture will be directed by Michael Winterbottom and although Bailout, at least from the synopsis, sounds kind of sad and dramatic, we're pretty sure that with Black involved the film will have lighter moments. But that doesn't mean the dude can't give a great performance as well (see: High Fidelity). Plus, Winterbottom is the same guy who gave us 24 Hour Party People, a tremendous dramedy from the early aughts that starred Steve Coogan -- a comedic actor similar to Jack Black in that, in the right context, his style is very successful. But when he misses, he really, really misses. So although the Black/Winterbottom combination seems a little odd, it might just be odd enough to work.
Quite often, wonderful film projects are born at the Cannes Film Festival, where producers, directors, agents, managers, studio executives, brokers and financiers converge to pick the best of the best for their forthcoming slate. However, there are always less interesting movies that make the rounds as well, and What Maisie Knew seems to fit into the latter category.
The film, which is an adaptation of Henry James' novel, is about Maisie, a six-year-old girl enmeshed in the bitter divorce of her mother, a rock and roll icon, and her father, a charming but distracted art dealer. Set in New York, production is to begin in August in the Big Apple, with Julianne Moore and Steven Coogan locked to play the mother and father. Alexander Skarsgard just signed on for role of Moore's new husband at the Cannes Film Festival, where distribution rights are currently being sold. Scott McGehee and David Siegel (Uncertainty) will co-direct from a script by Nancy Doyne and Carroll Cartwright
It's billed as a dramedy, though the story sounds like it's filled with more deeper moments than lighter ones. I guess that's where Coogan will come in: he's always good for a few yuks, even in serious situations. I'm not familiar with any of the behind-the-scenes players, so they could turn this bare-bones story into something a bit meatier, but based on the synopsis alone it sounds like a snooze. The big deal here is Skarsgard, who's going to be a huge star if he plays his cards right and balances his upcoming slate between grittier work like September's Straw Dogs, indie fare like this gig and big-budget productions like next summer's Battleship.
What do the following movies have in common: Crash, Little Miss Sunshine, The Hurt Locker, The Kids Are All Right and Winter's Bone? Not only were all of them hit indie movies that were nominated for (and in some cases won) the Oscar for Best Picture, but they were all summer releases. The major studios spend their summers focusing on blockbusters and tentpole movies like Transformers and wait until year’s end to release more serious, artistic fare. Meanwhile, indie distributors take advantage of the dearth of mature, intelligent or just offbeat programming for more adventurous moviegoers, and this summer yields one of the strongest selections of such films to come along in a while. There’s a wide assortment of films from all over that bring the kind of diversity that this season’s major studio slate doesn’t provide, and they’re all hitting theaters over the next four months.
BIG STARS, LITTLE MOVIES
Just because it’s an indie doesn’t mean there are no names to entice audiences, and this summer’s indie selection offers some top names in smaller, more personal films…
Everything Must Go (May 13)
Behind every comedian is a serious actor just waiting to come out, and Will Ferrell is no different, here playing a man who loses everything in his life – his job, his marriage and his home – in one day, so he sells off his belongings on his front lawn for days on end. Based on a short story by Raymond Carver, it’s still got moments of humor, but it’s mainly a fine showcase of Ferrell’s dramatic gifts.
Hesher (May 13)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the mysterious stranger who literally walks into the lives of Rainn Wilson and Natalie Portman in this very offbeat and original comedy/drama from director Spenser Susser.
Midnight in Paris (May 20)
This year’s opening-night film at the Cannes Film Festival, Woody Allen brings us a comedic fantasy starring Owen Wilson as an American tourist who uncovers a mysterious portal that transports him to Paris in the 1920s. As usual, Allen lines up a star-studded cast (including Rachel McAdams, Adrien Brody, Michael Sheen and Marion Cotillard) and great locations in a film that promises good, old-fashioned movie fantasy.
Beginners (June 3)
Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer and Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds) star in this comedy/drama from writer/director Mike Mills (not the R.E.M. guitarist) about the romantic foibles of a man (McGregor) who falls in love just as his aging father (Plummer) comes out of the closet.
Our Idiot Brother (August 26)
Paul Rudd stars as the title character, a lifelong slacker whose return after a stint in jail wreaks havoc on his sisters (Elizabeth Banks, Emily Mortimer and Zooey Deschanel).
Last year’s Toronto fest and this year’s Sundance fest held a record for amount of multimillion-dollar acquisitions, and most of them (such as the aforementioned Our Idiot Brother) are starting to make their way to theaters this summer, starting with Submarine (June 10), the acclaimed coming-of-age comedy from British comedian Richard Ayoade, best known in the U.S. for his role on IFC’s The I.T. Crowd… Another pair of famed British comics, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, join acclaimed director Michael Winterbottom on The Trip (June 10), which has already caused a viral video sensation online with Coogan and Brydon’s competing Michael Caine impersonations… The complications of young love in NYC hit Freddie Highmore and Emma Roberts in The Art of Getting By (June 17), which was originally titled Homework when it premiered at Sundance… Another Earth (July 23), co-written by and starring Brit Marling (who became this year’s breakout star at Sundance) takes a sci-fi premise – the discovery of a second Earth – but takes a more philosophical and dramatic approach to the subject… Another Sundance 2011 star is Dominic Cooper, who earned praise in the dual role of the sadistic Uday Hussein and the man picked to be his unwilling double in The Devil's Double (July 29)… Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga stars as a woman seeking spiritual enlightenment in Higher Ground (August 12), which also marks the Up in the Air star’s directorial debut… Finally, there’s Bellflower (August 5), one of the most talked-about films at both Sundance and SXSW, a true original about love, muscle cars, flame throwers and the end of the world. Tough to pinpoint, but this is one you’ll definitely be hearing about and is well worth seeing.
Some of the strongest titles of any movie year are usually the documentaries, and summer 2011 brings us some truly great ones, starting with Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times (June 24), which shows the inner workings at one of the world’s most powerful newspapers; it’s an absolute must for anyone interested in journalism and the changing information age… On the stranger side of the news comes Oscar winner Errol Morris’ Tabloid (July 15), the bizarre true story of a former beauty queen who abducts a Mormon missionary as a sex slave… And Oscar-winning director James Marsh (Man on Wire) returns with Project Nim (July 8), the account of a 1970s experiment that raised a chimpanzee as a human child.
If you want a better example of the wide variety of indie films coming out this summer, look no further than such oddities as Jason Eisener’s Hobo with a Shotgun (May 6), starring Rutger Hauer in the title role (“Delivering justice… one shell at a time!”); The Troll Hunter (June 10), a Norwegian monster epic in which a documentary film crew uncovers a secret government agency whose job is to keep Norway’s trolls in line; and acclaimed Spanish director Alex De La Iglesia’s The Last Circus (August 12), the story of two circus clowns violently battling over the same woman in post-Franco Spain.
We know Paul Rudd for his general adorableness but can it transcend any circumstance? Well, it seems that Rudd is just that lucky. In Our Idiot Brother, Rudd plays the family screwup/slacker/stoner to Zooey Deschanel, Rashida Jones, Elizabeth Banks, and Emily Mortimer. As much as we want to be annoyed by his derelict demeanor in this trailer, he's still totally lovable.
The flick was a big hit at Sundance this year and features a whole slew of other funny people including Adam Scott, Steve Coogan, and T.J. Miller. Oh, and there's also an adorable little boy. So yeah, we're pretty stoked to see this when it hits theaters in August.