We learn that "it's no picnic saving the world" in the second trailer for Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2. Last time around, it rained meatballs in a dire yet delectable hailstorm… but this time, food beasts will descend from the sky above.
After joining The Live Corp Company, Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) and his A-lister-voiced pals return to Swallow Falls with the task of tidying up the island since it's smothered in goopy cheeseburgers and bolognese sauce. Upon returning, Flint discovers that his manic machine is still powered up, but is now churning out mutant food: apple pie-thons, shrimpanzees, hungry tacodiles, and more — whoever thought monstrous monsters could be So appetizing!
Now it's up Flint and Co. to save humanity as we know it before the food monsters invade the whole world. Will he do it? Will he stop the creatures before humankind gets swallowed by menacing tacodiles? Find out when Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 starring Bill Hader, Anna Farris, and Neil Patrick Harris rolls into theaters September 27.
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Daryl Wein is in the business of breakups. While the 28-year-old indie wunderkind, whose breakout Breaking Upwards was based off his real-life split from his collaborator, writer/actress Zoe Lister-Jones (the two have since reunited) is back in the saddle with their latest trip to Splitsville, the romantic dramedy Lola Versus.
Only this time, it's not their relationship being put under the microscope of the big screen. In fact, the titular Lola (played by Greta Gerwig, pictured on set with Wein) isn't based on anyone in particular, but an amalgamation of bad breakups.
During an interview with Hollywood.com, Wein, who served as both director and co-writer (alongside Lister-Jones) for Lola Versus assures, "The script is fictional, nothing in the script actually happened to us." While Wein says they used some of their single friends as "inspiration," they really "just kind of used that world as a jumping-off point."
But the real jumping-off point for Lola Versus came when Wein and Lister-Jones were riding high off the success of Breaking Upwards back in 2009. "On the festival circuit [for Breaking Upwards] we were talking about our different experiences when we were single and realized Zoe's was a lot more interesting and traumatic as a woman than it was for me as a man," Wein explains, "We weren't seeing a lot of single, female, post-breakup stories in film that felt authentic and real and funny. So we figured, 'Let's go make that'."
And so they did. Penning Lola Versus almost immediately after promoting Breaking Upwards and shooting it a year later, they made their movie — about a late twentysomething New Yorker whose life unravels after her fiance unexpectedly calls off their wedding —with a specific purpose in mind. Lola wasn't going to be another heartbroken girl whose life looked far too glossy for someone going through such a dark experience.
"We thought it was important to show women that were more raw and tough than were typically portrayed. I think there's this expectation that women have to be proper and always winning and I think that stems back to our puritanical roots in America and society of keeping women at bay. It's almost a chauvinistic attitude towards them," Wein explains. "You've seen men get to be messy and buffoons [in movies] and it's nice to see women getting to speak unapologetically about what they're going through. It's important to put that side on the forefront that challenges the expectation of what a typical protagonist is supposed to be."
And Lola is the opposite of a rom-com protagonist in every sense of the word. In the throes of her breakup, Lola makes a series of unfortunate decisions, including hooking up with her ex's best friend. "Sometimes it's hard to like [Lola]," Wein admits, "but that's the important part of capturing the authenticity of what it's like to be in a post-breakup spiral. You're not always going to be this glowing ball of positivity. You're in that funk of trying to get back on your feet and people aren't always going to like you. You're making mistakes or you're crossing boundaries sometimes. But you learn from that and eventually, hopefully, you come out learning something about yourself." Spoken like a true breakup survivor.
Now being on the happy side of the relationship coin, Wein got to enjoy the fruits of his Lola labor, including getting to work with one of his personal favorites: Bill Pullman. "[He] is such a sweetheart," Wein says of the veteran actor who plays Lola's wise, easy-going father Lenny. "I've always loved [Newsies] and when I told him that on set he was like, 'Of all the movies I've done that's the one you like the most?' and I was like 'I got a soft spot for musicals, man.'
Wein's musical inclinations proved to be helpful in finding the right sound for Lola Versus. Wein recruited eclectic Brooklyn group Fall On Your Sword to set the score for the film. "I heard their score in You Won't Miss Me and I thought it was really exciting and it felt fresh. They felt like the perfect fit to elevate what we rend to think of scores for these [types of] movies," Wein says of the band, who also created the score for the drama Another Earth.
"I was looking to have a score that wasn't as traditional as typical relationship scores, which tend to be with orchestral or acoustic guitar type stuff. So I really wanted something that was a little bit edgier and that felt more current and contemporary and modern." Sounds like Lola, alright.
Lola Versus opens in select theaters today.
[Photo credit: Fox Searchlight]
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At the moment there are few greater clichés in the media than the freaking out single woman on the cusp of 30. Of course clichés are clichés for a reason worth exploring even through the lens of just one or two women as in Lola Versus. Unfortunately while the intention behind Lola Versus isn't that we should all be happily married by the age of 30 it still fits into the same rubric of all those "Why You're Not Married" books.
Lola (Greta Gerwig) has a gorgeous fiancé Luke (Joel Kinnaman) and they live in a giant loft together the kind of dreamy NYC real estate that seems to exist primarily in the movies. Just as they're planning their gluten-free wedding cake with a non-GMO rice milk-based frosting Luke dumps her. It's cruelly sudden — although Luke isn't a cruel man. Lola finds little comfort in the acerbic wit of her best friend the eternally single Alice (Zoe Lister-Jones) who is probably delighted to see her perfectly blonde best friend taken down a peg and into the murky world of New York coupling. Lola and Luke share a best friend Henry (Hamish Linklater) a messy-haired rumpled sweetheart who is kind and safe and the inevitable shelter for Lola's fallout. Her parents well-meaning and well-to-do hippie types feed her kombucha and try to figure out their iPads and give her irrelevant advice.
Lola Versus is slippery. Its tone careens between broad TV comedy and earnest dramedy almost as if Alice is in charge of the dirty zingers and Lola's job is to make supposedly introspective statements. Alice's vulgar non-sequiturs are tossed off without much relish and Lola's dialogue comes off too often as expository and plaintive. We don't need Lola to tell Henry "I'm vulnerable I'm not myself I'm easily persuaded" or "I'm slutty but I'm a good person!" (Which is by the way an asinine statement to make. One might even say she's not even that "slutty " she's just making dumb decisions that hurt those around her just as much as she's hurting herself.)
We know that she's a mess — that's the point of the story! It's not so much that a particularly acerbic woman wouldn't say to her best friend "Find your spirit animal and ride it until its d**k falls off " but that she wouldn't say it in the context of this movie. It's from some other movie over there one where everyone is as snarky and bitter as Alice. You can't have your black-hearted comedy and your introspective yoga classes. Is it really a stride forward for feminism that the clueless single woman has taken the place of the stoner man-child in media today? When Lola tells Luke "I'm taken by myself. I've gotta just do me for a while " it's true. But it doesn't sound true and it doesn't feel true.
In one scene Lola stumbles on the sidewalk and falls to the ground. No one asks her if she's okay or needs help; she simply gets up on her own and goes on her way. It's a moment that has happened to so many people. It's humiliating and so very public but of course you just gotta pick yourself up and get where you're going. In this movie it's a head-smackingly obvious metaphor. In one of the biggest missteps of the movie Jay Pharoah plays a bartender that makes the occasional joke while Lola is waiting tables at her mom's restaurant. His big line at the end is "And I'm your friend who's black!" It would have been better to leave his entire character on the cutting room floor than attempt such a half-hearted wink at the audience.
Lister-Jones and director Daryl Wein co-wrote the screenplay for Lola Versus as they did with 2009's Breaking Upwards. Both films deal with the ins and outs of their own romantic relationship in one way or another. Breaking Upwards a micro-budget indie about a rough patch in their relationship was much more successful in tone and direction. Lola Versus has its seeds in Lister-Jones' experience as a single woman in New York and is a little bit farther removed from their experiences. Lola Versus feels like a wasted opportunity. Relatively speaking there are so few movies getting made with a female writer or co-writer that it almost feels like a betrayal to see such a tone-deaf portrayal of women onscreen. What makes it even more disappointing is how smart and likable everyone involved is and knowing that they could have made a better movie.
This week marks the release of Hugo, a quasi-kids movie that, surprisingly, Martin Scorsese directed (in 3D!). Almost as oddly, last week’s big release, the teen-angst adaptation The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1, was helmed by the very “adult” Bill Condon. They’re the latest examples of filmmakers surprising audiences by taking jobs that we’d never expect them to based on careers and expectations they’ve built. Here are some others.
Kenneth Branagh, Thor
Branagh was probably just about the last person we would’ve ever expected to direct summer 2011’s Blockbuster Tour kickoff, but he turned in maybe the best – even if not the most lucrative – film of the season in Thor. The closest Branagh had ever come to a Thor-size affair was Frankenstein in 1995, and that wasn’t even on the same planet as the Marvel adaptation in terms of budget and expectations. Aside from his much more prolific acting resume, Branagh had made a career, directorially, out of Shakespeare adaptations. Perhaps he found the Bard in Thor, which was undoubtedly better because of his involvement.
Francis Ford Coppola, Jack
Apocalypse Now. The Godfather. The Conversation. Jack?? The obscenely, almost incomprehensibly awful PG-13 dramedy is probably the most out-of-character entry on any director’s resume, ever, and it signaled where Coppola was in his career: the trough. The Robin Williams-starrer had themes that Coppola had previously mined into gold, but it’s almost as if the worst director in Hollywood helmed Jack and put Coppola’s name on it.
Alfonso Cuaron, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
It’s no wonder that the great Cuaron is behind the darkest entry in the Harry Potter franchise, but it is a wonder that he took/landed the job in the first place – and it’s the ultimate testament to his ability and range as a filmmaker. Up to that point, Cuaron was a relatively little-known – certainly unknown to the Potter target audience – aside from his stylized update of Dickens’ Great Expectations and his art-house hit (to put it oxymoronically) Y Tu Mama Tambien, a controversial film because of its explicit sexual content. So … yeah, bold pick by Potter producers! And right after Azkaban, Cuaron returned to his routine activities with the dystopian masterpiece Children of Men.
Spike Lee, Inside Man
A perusal of Lee’s vast filmography quickly reveals the clear-cut anomaly: Inside Man. Almost all of his other films center around race or feature the theme prominently. Only Summer of Sam and to a lesser degree 25th Hour do not subscribe to Lee’s trademark focal point, but neither comes close to Inside Man in terms of being a full-on genre film, in this case a hardboiled, somewhat by-the-numbers (in the best way possible) whodunit. It also turned to be one of Lee’s best films, proving that he has a lot more to offer behind the camera than might’ve been previously thought.
David O. Russell, The Fighter
Once upon a time, David O. Russell seemed destined to become a beloved indie auteur a la Paul Thomas Anderson, thanks to his early, offbeat work, especially Flirting with Disaster and Three Kings. Then came the debacle on the set of I Heart Huckabees, and then … banishment – be it self-imposed or not – from Hollywood. When he finally returned after six years, clearly something had changed, probably for the better, because as solid as the movie was, it was a very linear, straightforward, almost conventional production (with no reports of on-set turmoil!) that seemed more Ron Howard than David O. Russell.
Steven Soderbergh, Ocean’s Franchise
Soderbergh had dabbled in mainstream fare before 2001’s Ocean’s Eleven – and it’s been probably more so since then that he has tackled more exploratory, out-there projects – but the fact that he will be forever associated with the biggest A-lister cash-grab maybe ever is the ultimate irony for someone who is otherwise very indie-inclined, if not altogether impossible to pin down. At least Soderbergh seemed like he was trying with Ocean’s Eleven, though; Twelve and Thirteen must’ve been vacations too extravagant to pass up.
Robert Rodriguez, Spy Kids Franchise
The fact that Rodriguez, purveyor of cartoonish violence (Sin City, Planet Terror, et al.) and R-rated revenge (Desperado, et al.), directed anything with the word Kids in its title is shocking; the fact that he made a fairly lucrative franchise out of it? Shocking, and kinda impressive. It’d be like his buddy Quentin Tarantino directing the next Pixar movie. Actually, that’d be pretty awesome.
Sam Raimi, Spider-Man Franchise
Raimi turned out to be a very wise choice indeed for the Spidey franchise (at least for two out of the three films), but it initially seemed a bit of an odd fit. Before landing in the driver’s seat of one of the biggest properties in Hollywood, Raimi wasn’t exactly an A-list director; rather, he had more or a cult following, thanks primarily to his beloved Evil Dead movies, and in the years leading up to Spider-Man – post-Evil Dead trilogy – his output (i.e., The Quick and the Dead, For Love of the Game and The Gift) and its quality was more all-over-the-map than ever.
Jennifer Lawrence, the talented and beautiful young actress who's lauded turn in Debra Granik's Winter's Bone landed her an Academy Award nomination, is reaping the benefits of the industry taking notice of her abilities. The former Bill Engvall Show star no longer has to think about television roles; since wowing audiences as a daughter searching for her drug-dealing dad in the Sundance 2010 hit, she's joined the X-Men franchise as Mystique in this June's First Class and now is set to work with Oscar winning filmmaker Oliver Stone on his new film Savages.
Deadline reports that Lawrence, who's being courted by every studio for potential projects, has signed on to star in the adaptation of Don Winslow's best-selling novel about two friends who grow and sell Grade-A pot and share a wild child girlfriend named O. The drug-pushing duo are Ben, described as a brainy botanist, and Chon, a take-no-prisoners ex-Navy SEAL who doesn't think twice about offing anyone that gets in their way. However, when a Mexican drug cartel enforcer comes by their lofty Laguna Beach haven to muscle them out of business O gets kidnapped and the ransom is everything they've got. They hatch a complex plan to get her back and then disappear. Winslow and Shane Salerno adapted the novel.
The project sounds engaging; sort of like a mix between Alpha Dog and Traffic. Tying together the correlation between those films and Savages even further is Benicio Del Toro, who starred in the Oscar winning 2000 drama and is up for the role of the cartel enforcer. The source notes that Stone is meeting with every young A-lister in the business for the Ben and Chon parts, but since the only confirmed performer thus far is Lawrence, I'm going to point out the obvious here: is she taking career advice from Shia LaBeouf? Looking over her body of work, she seems to have adopted the young star's method of role choice, jumping from solid indies (Winter's Bone and this year's Sundance top prize winner Like Crazy for her, A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints and The Greatest Game Ever Played for him) to big-budget blockbusters (the aforementioned X-Men: First Class for her, Transformers and Indiana Jones for him) to finally working with Mr. Stone (LaBeouf recently worked with him on Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and is said to have another project in development with him). These parallel but similar career paths could cross if Stone decides to cast LaBeouf as either Ben or Chon in Savages; though that's a speculative statement, it's not totally unfeasible. Time will tell as the film rolls toward its unknown start date.
Anyone who knows anything about show business understands that a motion picture doesn’t come together overnight. After a script is written and a green light is given from a studio or production company, many months of pre-production go into the project before cameras roll. I’m not even going to get into the post-production process, so let’s just say that making a movie (no matter how big or small) is a true labor of love.
In the case of Season of the Witch, the journey to the big screen took nearly ten years from the time that producer Chuck Roven (The Dark Knight) found Bragi F. Schut’s Nicholl Fellowships Award-winning screenplay to when the finished product was ready for release (this Friday). “It was fairly sought-after, what we call a hot property,” Roven said of the film in a recent interview. “Back then, my company had an overall deal with MGM and we ended up buying it and then began the long journey of getting it made.”
Roven faced many hurdles in getting the movie rolling, one which is commonplace in today’s filmmaking climate. “In about 2002, maybe 2003, Alex Gartner, who was the President of Production, ended up leaving MGM to come and work with me as a producer over at Atlas. And also, I think you might remember MGM ended up being purchased by a bunch of companies. One of them was Sony/Columbia Pictures and when they made that deal they designated a number of projects that they wanted to further develop before the deal closed and Season of the Witch was, fortunately, one of those,” he said while reminiscing about the early days of the production. Luckily, Roven was relieved of one major headache at around the same time when he hired a director. “I think it was 2003 or 2004 when we attached Dominic Sena and really did all of the advance work on the picture. When we finally attached Nicolas Cage to the film in 2009, Dom was still attached the picture, so all of the work we did during that period for Sony really paid off, even though Sony never made the picture.”
Roven talks about "attaching Nicolas Cage to the film" as if it was an everyday thing, but he assured me that wasn't the case. Though he had the desire to make the movie, timing was a big issue for the Oscar winning A-lister. "There are two kinds of movies Nic had never done," Roven explained. "He'd never done a scary film - a movie that made you jump - and he had never done a film where he wielded a sword and this sort of fit that bill." Still, Cage's incredibly busy schedule made it almost impossible for him to work on Season of the Witch. "This movie had to be done in the winter and Nic always seemed to be busy in the winter. [But] At the end of 2008, he let us know that he wasn't busy in the winter of 2009, so we offered it to him", Roven said. "He and I had great success together on a picture called City of Angels and him and Dom Sena had success with Gone in Sixty Seconds, so he ended up saying, 'let's do it'!"
Even after landing a bankable leading man and a solid supporting cast, Roven further explained that there was a lot of work to be done after the shoot wrapped. Many may remember that the film was originally set to open in early 2010 but was inexplicably pulled from the release schedule. I made sure to get the low-down straight from the horse’s mouth. From visual effects to character development, Roven says that “there were some things that we felt we could do better. One of those things was the relationship between Nic and Ron [Perlman] and the back and forth about trying to figure out exactly what the girl's story is.” I don’t want to spoil anything, but let’s just say that the “back and forth” directly involves the “big twist” of the story, so everyone who plans on buying a ticket to the film should be thankful that the filmmakers decided to take the time to get it right.
Season of the Witch also stars Christopher Lee, Ulrich Thompson and Stephen Graham. Catch it in theaters this Friday.