1. Wes Bentley’s Beard! I’d like to buy what he thinks is the best beard products. As gifts, of course.
2. Stanley Tucci’s Hair-do. Plus: Acting!
3. Elizabeth Banks’ Make Up!
4. Katniss & Peeta’s Flaming Parade Costumes! Fire!
5. Lenny Kravitz as a Costume Designer!
6. The “Apple” Scene!
7. Realistic Depiction of Acid Trip-style Hallucinations induced by Tracker Jacker Wasp Stings!
8. Josh Hutcherson: Hot!
9. “First Date with Crush: Camping Trip from Hell!”
10. Woody Harrelson kind of Playing Himself!
HELP! is an amazing screwball comedy/adventure/musical film that was made in 1965. It stars The Beatles as themselves and is certainly one of my very favorite movies ever. I own a copy, of course, but if you haven’t seen it you should rent it. Because it rules.
There’s an obvious reason that social networking phenomena FaceBook is often dubbed “FakeBook” by fans and naysayers alike. The simple truth is that once a person creates a FaceBook profile, he or she can adopt any identity they desire, limited only by imagination, agenda and, unfortunately, any existing mental delusions. Although the consequences are far less dire, a new independent documentary film, enigmatically titled Catfish (in theaters this Friday, September 17th) plays out like a version of The Spanish Prisoner for the online networking age. Combining elements of comedy, mystery, romance and high drama, what makes Catfish so exciting is not just the fact that it’s a true story, but that the story unfolds as the camera is rolling, rather than being recreated from a script. Before you realize what you’ve actually seen, you’re completely engaged. Catfish is what good documentary filmmaking is all about.
Directed by Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, Catfish stars Schulman’s brother Yaniv (Nev) Schulman, a strikingly handsome 24 year-old photographer who, when the film starts, has received a painting of one of his published photographs from an artist named Abby Pierce; an 8 year-old living in Michigan, whom he has never met. Increasingly intrigued by Abby’s artwork, Nev embarks on a big brother/little sister type online friendship with Abby, her Mother Angela and her 19 year-old sister Megan within the vast boundaries of FaceBook’s virtual world. Nev’s brother Ariel (Rel) and his filmmaking partner Henry are so fascinated by Nev’s budding relationship with Abby and her family, but especially the serious crush Nev has developed on the very hotMegan, that they decide to make a documentary about it. As layers of deception and ruse peel away like the skin of an onion, Catfish becomes an intriguing thriller of sorts. It’s all the more exciting to realize that the audience is being let in on the story just as Nev, Rel and Henry were living through everything shown in the film for the first time themselves. It is an extremely satisfying viewing experience.
At its core, Catfish – with its relatively “happy ending” – delivers a serious, cautionary tale about being careful who you trust and how much veracity you place on Internet based relationships: a message that is more timely and applicable now than ever. I can’t imagine that Catfish will not win at least a few independent film awards and jury prizes. I don’t want to give too much away here, but if you’d like to know a bit more going in (I advise against it), Variety has the best online review I’ve read that actually managed to avoid any major spoilers while totally piquing my interest. Read that review at This Link.
Opening September 17th, The Worley Gig Gives Catfish Four ½ Out of Five Stars.
There’s a pivotal scene near the beginning of Get Him to The Greek where main character, A & R Rep Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) sits in a pitch meeting with his fellow record label flacks. His boss, label head Sergio Roma (Sean “P Diddy” Combs) is badgering the staff to come up with any new ideas that will infuse a desperately needed revenue stream into their flailing faction of the troubled music business. Aaron’s idea is to stage a comeback concert at LA’s Greek Theater for Rock musician Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), whose career has taken a nose dive since the release of African Child – an audacious, PC misstep of an album that turns out to be a wildly offensive, commercial and critical bomb. Aaron proposes that a simulcast pay-per-view special, re-release of Snow’s back album catalog and a live DVD of the concert will generate millions of dollars in cash for the label and give disappointed music fans what they’re most hungry for. “There aren’t any Rock Stars anymore,” Aaron argues. “Aldous Snow is a Rock Star!” And, man, is he ever right on about that. Real Rock Stars went the way of the Dinosaur long ago, and watching a movie featuring a handsome and charismatic actor who not only can play a believable decadent Rock Star but also make him hilarious and lovable, and who can fucking sing and perform? That’s almost too much to ask for. That alone is reason enough to see Get Him to The Greek: because Russell Brand is a fucking Rock Star, and this role is going to make him one hot commodity.
When Sergio green lights the Greek Theater concert idea, Aaron is charged with the awesome responsibility of retrieving the very much off the wagon Aldous from London and getting him back to Los Angeles within 72 hours and in time for the concert. What follows is a true comedy of errors, with Aaron navigating Aldous through a dense mind field of every possible licentious temptation, none of which Aldous has the willpower (or desire) to resist. Since the character of Aldous Snow was introduced to audiences in the 2008 hit, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, everyone is going to ask, “Is this movie anything like Forgetting Sarah Marshall?” Let me dash your hopes right now and confess that no, no it isn’t. Sarah Marshall was a basically a romantic comedy with a few fart jokes thrown in. Get Him To The Greek is a completely different type of movie: an all out, hard R-rated raunch-fest that is nevertheless beyond hilarious. It just happens to have one of the same characters as the film it spins off from (here, Jonah Hill plays a different character than the Aldous Snow-worshipping cabana boy he played in Sarah Marshall). Hill, who has proven himself to be a gifted comedic actor, is great as Aaron, Diddy is impressive as Sergio (and he has some of the film’s funniest lines) and if you’ve read his outrageous autobiography, My Booky Wook, you will immediately recognize that Brand is playing his pre-rehab self to perfection. Among the excellent supporting cast are Mad Men’s Elizabeth Moss as Aaron’s girlfriend Daphne and Rose Byrne as Snow’s ex-girlfriend and fellow pop star Jackie Q. There are also many very funny cameos by stars like Meredith Viera and Lars Ulrich playing themselves. And the music can go head to head with the greatest hits of Spinal Tap. Rock & Roll!
Get Him to the Greek, Directed by Nicholas Stoller, hits theaters everywhere on Friday June 4, 2010
On This Date, August 6th in 1983: Maverick entertainer Klaus Nomi (born Klaus Sperber) died due to complications from AIDS, at the age of 39. The intriguing life and woefully short career of Nomi is the subject of a fantastic documentary, The Nomi Song, which I enthusiastically recommend!
Robb Reiner and Steve “Lips” Kudlow Star in Anvil: The Story of Anvil
Yesterday, Geoffrey and I celebrated the first day of really nice NYC weather in over six months by sitting in a dark theater, enjoying the fantastic new documentary, Anvil: The Story of Anvil. You may have heard this film being referred to as a “Real Life Spinal Tap,” but I assure you that the story of this Canadian Metal band that grasped for fame only to fall into obscurity is all too true. A few of the metal drummers I’ve interviewed in my career have cited Anvil drummer Robb Reiner as an influence, so I had heard of them, but only by name.
Anvil: The Story of Anvil tells an unintentionally hilarious and truly emotionally-moving music industry tale that I am sure a gazillion other bands can relate to, yet Anvil imbue this film with so much heart, I can’t imagine any other “almost was” metal band creating an experience quite like the one you get in this film. Back in the ‘80s Anvil were poised to be the next big thing; touring Europe with supporting gigs for Iron Maiden and The Scorpions, and inspiring peer-group fans that included members of now legendary bands like Metallica, Anthrax and Guns ‘N’ Roses. But where those bands continued on to achieve great commercial success and global fame, it didn’t quite work out that way for Anvil. What went wrong? This movie untangles that web.
There is no doubt that the music is strong and these guys are great musicians, and certainly they did not lack anything in the passion-for-what-you-do department. Anvil is both an incredible inspiration and a highly entertaining cautionary tale that I absolutely loved every minute of. Definitely add it to your list of films to see in the theaters before it comes out on DVD in a few months.