Category Archives: Uncategorized

PARANOID PARK receives more rave reviews, opens tonight at the Angelika NY

March 7, 2008

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PARANOID PARK, the new movie from the always compelling Gus Van Sant, has been garnering critical acclaim since it first made the festival rounds. New York Times critic Manohla Dargis continued the trend right before opening day with a categorically exceptional review in which she called Van Sant’s work, “…a haunting, voluptuously beautiful portrait of a teenage boy…”.
Click here to read the full review,

and here to see an exclusive interview with cast member Taylor Momsen.

PARANOID PARK opens tonight, March 7 @ the Angelika New York.

Q&A with GIRLS ROCK! director Arne Johnson

March 5, 2008

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GIRLS ROCK!, opening this Friday, March 7 @ the Village East Cinema, is a rousing documentary about the Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls in Portland, OR where girls ages 8 to 18 receive music lessons and life lessons of empowerment from a dedicated group of feminist indie rockers.

Director Arne Johnson answered a few of our questions about the making of the film below.

Q: What inspired you to make the documentary?
A: Well, I first heard about the camp through Sleater Kinney, the members of whom have taught at the camp various years. Carrie Brownstein, in fact, runs the assemblies every year and co-wrote the camp theme song. The thought of these indie rock goddesses mucking about in a warehouse in Portland teaching 8 year old windmills and stuff was intriguing, to say the least! The movie that we ended up with, however, was inspired by the stories girls told us as we traveled around the country, interviewing them before they went to camp. We learned that the camp doesn’t just teach musicianship, but takes on a host of issues and inspirations that clog the landscape of girlhood in the current century. When we saw how the camp gently provided a place for these girls to be whoever they wanted to be, and how powerful an effect this had on their lives, the movie became a mission.

Q: How did you first hear about the camp?
A: As I mentioned above, it was through Carrie Brownstein of Sleater Kinney. I went to see her speak about art and music, and someone in the audience asked her if she thought rock n roll was dead. She had just come from teaching at the camp, and lit into a speech about how inspiring it was that it gave me chills. I immediately called Shane and we started the process of making the film almost instantaneously.

Q: Did any one particular girls’ story stick out most for you?
A: You know, they all resonate for me in different ways at different times. Especially while editing, we would get very deeply into the material and at different times feel like any one of the girls was the heart of the film. Just speaking for me personally, I probably relate most to Laura. Her struggle to be ok with being an articulate, verbal person with tastes that don’t jibe up with her surroundings particularly touches me because I sorta went through similar stuff. Though, of course, it’s very different for a boy. It’s one of the amazing things that happened through this film is that though it’s a lot about gender and what’s particularly happening to girls, the heart of the movie is about things anyone can relate to…the harshly enforced borders of gender harm us all.

Q: Do you have a background in music?
A: Neither of us do, really. We formed a band just after high school called The Fish Cats, but it lasted all of three rehearsals. Shane has had a little more actual music education than I, he’s been working his way through Piano Man on the piano for a while, but we both play around. I can play songs and sing along on guitar, and I love to do so, despite what my lack of fans might might say!

Q: How do you like making a documentary with kids…do you think they are more honest?
A: I don’t know if I would say they’re more honest. Maybe more direct? For instance, we had a whole set of thoughts about how were going to shoot, deep philosophical musings about the distance between camera and subject, etc. But the moment you bring a camera into a room full of nine year olds, that’s all going out the window! They don’t play the metaphysical game, they want to see the camera, look at the microphones, kick you in the foot, whatever. And then suddenly they completely forget you are there. So, I would say that it was great for us to make a doc about kids as our first feature because it immediately taught us that the best doc-making technique is to be a human being. Now we have the same approach with adults too.

Q: In todays fame and celebrity obsessed society, do you think there is anything dangerous about young girls wanting to become rock stars?
A: Well, at the camp they don’t exactly encourage girls to be rock stars. They’re talking about using music as an avenue to self-expression and community building. The career of Sleater Kinney is a perfect example of that…despite bigger label offers and critics calling them the greatest rock band of the ’90s, they stayed on Kill Rock Stars for all their albums, before recording their last album on a bigger but still indie Sub Pop. They made music, made a living at it, had great experiences, inspired people, all without immersing in the whirlpool you’re alluding too. So, yes, it’s always dangerous to do anything ambitious and performance oriented, but there’s no reason you have to be a passive participant. We were inspired by that ethos with our film. We signed with a smaller, but well-respected and successful distributor before showing it to any bigger company. We chose our sales agent based on trust rather than who had the biggest deals. There are all kinds of pitfalls, but if you go into it knowing who you want to be, you don’t have to fall into any of them. The camp tries to give the girls a map so they can find their way.

Don’t forget – GIRLS ROCK! opens this Friday, 3/7 @ the Village East Cinema

THE GRAND director Zak Penn talks poker, mockumentaries and Ben Affleck…

March 3, 2008

X-MEN writer Zak Penn does a 180 in directing his new movie, THE GRAND, a hilarious, low-budget poker-themed mockumentary that features an unbeatably witty cast that includes Woody Harrelson, Cheryl Hines, Ray Romano, Chris Parnell, David Cross, Werner Herzog and Richard Kind.

The always articulate director chatted with us last weekend about the making of THE GRAND….check out what he had to say below.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for THE GRAND?
A: The idea actually was pitched to me by my friend Matt Bierman, the other credited writer. He knew that I had done INCIDENT AT LOCH NESS, which was also improvised, and that I was looking to do another improvisational film that was kind of in the Christopher Guest vain. He pitched me the idea and I said letâ??s go do it.

Q: I wanted to ask you too â?? are you sick of the Christopher Guest referencesâ?¦.or how to you feel about them?
A: Iâ??m not sick of them! First of all, I love Christopher Guest. I think when people compare the movie to his work, Iâ??m flattered because you couldnâ??t pick a better person to be compared to. Iâ??m not sick of it. I think Iâ??m lucky if people are comparing this film to one of his because his films are really excellent.

Q: So what do you think is so consistently appealing about the mockumentary?
A: First of all the mockumentary styleâ?¦thereâ??s a certain type of joke that works really well in the mockumentary â?¦.even if you look at shows like THE OFFICE or EXTRASâ?¦.itâ??s really taking a documentary style and turning it into comedy. Itâ??s less about mocking a documentary, and the particulars of shooting in a mockumentary style lend themselves to a very dry sense of humor.

The other thing is itâ??s a really efficient way to shoot when you can cut to a character talking directly to camera or when you can cut to an interview. It allows you to shoot a lot more stuff and cut it together without having an enormous budget, so thereâ??s actually a very practical reason to shoot that way. And for me, itâ??s just that a lot of the jokes that I come up with seem to work well in that format and so I use it where I think it helpsâ?¦.the movie pretty seamlessly transitions between moments that seem like a documentary, and then suddenly youâ??re in a scene thatâ??s shot like a normal film.

Q: Is the whole thing improvised?
A: Itâ??s all improvisedâ?¦itâ??s an outline so I know whatâ??s going to happen and whoâ??s in each scene, but every bit of the dialogue is improvised.

Q: You got a lot of the actors who have been on various poker shows, like that one on BravoTVâ?¦did you have them in mind when you were developing the outline?
A: Once the idea was pitched to me I spent quite a bit of time developing it and turning it into an outlineâ?¦ itâ??s not like you donâ??t work from anythingâ?¦you basically end up having what I call a â??scripmentâ? â?? part script and part treatment. Itâ??s basically a 35 page document that describes the story, but it just doesnâ??t have a lot of dialogue. So thatâ??s the first step. While we were doing that, we were developing it for actors that I knew and I that I wanted to work with. Because of the vague schedule of production, it ended up that half the people that I wrote parts for were not available when I was ready to shoot the movie. Someone like David Schwimmer, who was originally going to be in the cast, ended up directing a movie at the same time, so I had to cast somebody else. But really what you more often do is you tailor the part to the actor. Like, I wrote a part for Werner Herzog, and it always stayed the same and he came and did it. For other people, like Chris Parnell, we had a character defined but he turned it into his own thing. The same thing happened with Ray Romano. He just came up with all these details for his character that turned into a much bigger part of the movie.

Ben Affleck was the first actor who was going to be in it, because he was someone I knew and he was really into poker. We had wanted to work together for a while, but he had never been available. So he actually came up with some of the characters- some of the ideas were Benâ??s ideas from the first couple of meetings we had with him.

Q: Did you credit him on the film?
A: No way! Noâ?¦no credit for him!

Q: Did the whole cast know how to play poker? Because the big tournament at the end is a real poker game right?
A: It isâ?¦and no they didnâ??t. You know, Chris Parnell really didnâ??t know how to play at all, and ironically is playing the guy whoâ??s the most skilled. He studied pretty intensely to figure out what he was doing, and we had a poker expert for him to help him with the math and stuff. But I think when you make an improv movie, a lot of actors are suddenly interested because itâ??s rare to get that opportunity to really improvise- itâ??s real actorsâ?? form.

Q: They get to be so creativeâ?¦
A: Exactly. Coming from working on an X-MEN film, where you might spend all day trying to get one shot, to then go to something where youâ??re really in the moment and performing â?? the final table and the way it was filmed was closer to a theatrical performance than a filmed scene.

I mean some of the people did not know anything about poker and we really had to help them. But some of them really did- like Cheryl Hines had just won a tournament, and she and David Cross and Richard [Kind] all play a lot of poker, and Woody [Harrelson] does too, so it was a pretty good mix. Werner knew nothing about poker so we had to teach him

Q: Did you guys make bets on like who you thought was going to win the big tournament?
A: Other people in the crew did, and I heard that all the actors actually bet each other about who was going to winâ?¦I didnâ??t really have time because I was just more worried about actually pulling it off! But I think there was a lot of betting going on everyday on set about everything.

Q: Why is poker so interesting to watch on television, because it doesnâ??t seem like it would inherently be that way, but it kind of isâ?¦.
A: Well first of all I think anything that has got an air of drama and stakes is interesting to watch. Iâ??m not actually that huge a fan of watching poker on TV, which is sort of ironic. I like playing poker a lot but I do think that there are specific aspects that clearly work well as filmed entertainment â?¦.the key to it is that thereâ??s a lot of psychology and personality involved in bluffing, and in the way Texas Holdem is played, itâ??s less about luck and itâ??s more about the character and personality. I think thatâ??s whatâ??s appealing about it when you watch itâ?¦to watch someone walk into a trap or lay a trap, and all of those things that poker brings out at the table.

I was very concerned going into it. I really thought â??I wonder if people are gonna watch even 2 minutes of pokerâ?, but the first couple people we showed it to asked us to put more [footage] in at the final table because they were really into the game.

Q: Is it weird for you to go from working on X-MEN which you know people are inevitably going to run out and see and then THE GRAND, when youâ??re not even sure if youâ??re going to be able to pull it off?
A: Itâ??s certainly different to work on X-MEN than this, for like 20 reasonsâ?¦on the X-MEN movie, youâ??re part of this giant machine and you know itâ??s never going to fall apart but you also have very little control. You have everything you could possibly need to shoot the movie, but youâ??re also constrained by all the voices and thereâ??s not a lot of freedom, so youâ??re stuck to making the movie as promised. On the other hand you go and make a movie like this – you donâ??t have enough money, youâ??re constantly looking for a way to squeeze things in, and everything is a compromise. But you have absolute total freedom, and thereâ??s no one [else] to answer to. You pretty much only answer to yourself, and itâ??s a pretty freeing experience.

The reverse of all that is when you get to when itâ??s done. When X-MEN is done, you know itâ??s going to get out there, but as the writer, itâ??s not really all your work. On a movie like THE GRAND, if itâ??s good or bad, itâ??s your fault. On X-MEN, you donâ??t have to tell people about it but with something like THE GRAND, the theatrical release becomes a much more do-it-yourself kind of thing, and you really have to focus on it. But itâ??s all about expectations. On X-MEN, the expectation is that itâ??s got to do incredibly well, it made 120 million dollars its opening weekend and people were satisfied. For THE GRAND, the fact that itâ??s even out in theaters [is great]. Iâ??ve been shocked at the response to the trailer and weâ??ve gotten all these bookings by request- weâ??ve already expanded our release and itâ??s already a success in my mind that it will be coming out all over the country instead of just New York and Los Angeles. And it doesnâ??t need to make a lot of money for people to be satisfied with the release. So weirdly itâ??s a lot less nerve wracking.

And the other irony is [about THE GRAND], and I got this from doing INCIDENT AT LOCH NESS, is that if something has a very specific audience, it can completely hold on [as a] kind of a cult classic. At the end of the day, itâ??s not like I walk around with the fans of X-MEN standing behind me chanting my name, although that might be nice. The truth is that the work that you do that youâ??re proud of – no matter how it does [financially], ends up being a positive thing. The thing is that when it first comes out, all anyone wants to talk about is the grosses and if the critics liked it. They forget that one of the things about a movie is that its life is better judged 5 or 10 years down the line. If you love that movie 5 or 10 years later, how it does or doesnâ??t do becomes kind of irrelevant. Itâ??s a much more pure experience making a movie for the arthouse in a lot of ways, because youâ??re really trying to make something thatâ??s a representation of what you want it to be [from the start].

Q: Do you want to do it again anytime soon?
A: Sure, yeah Iâ??ll do another one. I probably wonâ??t do the same thing but Iâ??ll do something else. I like working without the constraints that I have on the movies I write.

THE GRAND opens Friday, March 21 at the Village East Cinema! Visit www.villageeastcinema.com for tickets and showtimes.

And the winners are…

February 25, 2008

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Last night’s Academy Awards proved fruitful for the Coen Brothers’ much acclaimed thriller NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, which took home 4 trophies including Best Supporting Actor (Javier Bardem), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and the always coveted Best Picture award.

Other big winners included fan favorite JUNO screenwriter Diablo Cody (Best Original Screenplay), Daniel Day-Lewis for his role in THERE WILL BE BLOOD (Best Actor), Alex Gibney’s documentary TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE (Best Documentary Feature) and Austria’s THE COUNTERFEITERS (Best Foreign Language Film).

For a complete list of winners, visit Variety, and visit www.angelikafilmcenter.com to find out when and where you can see all of last nights winners and nominees.

Taylor Momsen On Paranoid Park

February 22, 2008

Rising star Taylor Momsen makes her indie film debut next month in PARANOID PARK, Gus Van Sant’s totally enthralling new film that has critics (and regular people who were lucky enough to catch it on the festival circuit) raving.

Fourteen-year-old Momsen, who recently shot to enormous fame with her role as Jenny on the Gossip Girl , invited us to chat with her about her role in this moody, adolescent drama that will make you glad you’re not in high school anymore.

Watch our exclusive interview with Taylor below.

[QUICKTIME http://www.angelikablog.com/_Content/Taylor.mov 320 257]

PARANOID PARK opens March 7 @ the Angelika New York and March 14 @ the Angelika Dallas and Houston.

The sad truth is that your boss is funnier than you.

February 19, 2008

In honor of Radiolab’s season premiere episodes entitled LAUGHTER, the Angelika brings you more exclusive video clips. In our first clip, we watch Joe Randazzo, associate editor of The Onion, and Radiolab host Jad Abumrad discuss the evolution and anatomy of the laugh (and watch as they demonstrate some of their favorite laughs).

[QUICKTIME http://www.angelikablog.com/_Content/laughtermov.mov 320 257]

This second clip is best left to be explained by Abumrad: â??The first episode of our new season is all about why we laugh. I know, it seems like a stupid question. We laugh because something is funny, right? Actually, the scientists we talked to say that laughter has little to do with humor. It’s usually about social interactions, and, more specifically, power. Tyler Stillman, a psychologist at Florida State University, used a joke about a two muffins in an oven to show that a bad joke can get a big laugh, so long as a boss is telling it to an employee. Sadly, it doesn’t work the other way around. It seems the person in power laughs least. Here at Radio Lab, we like to test things out for ourselves. So we used the WNYC offices as our own little laboratory, and tried to find out if it’s true that our bosses are funnier than us, even when they aren’t. Here’s what we saw.â?

[QUICKTIME http://www.angelikablog.com/_Content/muffin.mov 320 257]

Don’t forget about the listening premiere this Thursday, Feb. 21 at the Angelika New York.

You saw it here first: scientist tickles rat in flattering red lighting

February 13, 2008

In anticipation of Radiolab’s listening premiere at the Angelika New York, we thought we’d post some video extras from the featured episode entitled LAUGHTER. Check it out below.

[QUICKTIME http://www.angelikablog.com/_Content/rat.mov 320 257]

Radiolab is holding its Season Premiere Listening Party, au gratis, on Thursday, Feb. 21 at the Angelika New York – first come first serve and hope to see you there!

Radiolab asks “who are you”; premiers season 4 at the Angelika NY

February 4, 2008

Radiolab, the syndicated, top-rated NPR program is premiering its 4th season at the Angelika New York on Thursday, Feb. 21 at 7pm. The free “listening premiere”, held in conjunction with WNYC public radio, is open to the first 203 lucky fans to arrive at the theater – attendees will be treated to some pretty cool guests, including one of The Onion’s hilarious editors, an underground musical act and the chance to meet the Radiolab hosts themselves!

Hosted by award winning, cult-journalist heroes Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, Radiolab airs locally on WNYC and takes an accessible, documentary-style, intelligent (and kind of odd) approach to tackling existentialist-friendly topics and current events (past shows have featured such titles as Morality, Beyond Time, & Who Am I).

For more info, visit the Radiolab Website. And keep checking back at our blog for exclusive media from a some of the [wacky] participants….

IN BRUGES director Martin McDonagh chats us up

February 1, 2008

IN BRUGES, a fresh, twisted take on the hit-man genre, opened this year’s Sundance Film Festival to plenty of rave reviews. Academy Award winning director (for the short film Six Shooter) and Tony nominated playwright Martin McDonagh makes his full-length feature-film debut with this medieval black comedy starring Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes and Brendan Gleason.

The ever-entertaining McDonagh sat down with us in Dallas to discuss the film and stayed for a Q&A with our audience after screening the film. Check out the video below, and don’t forget that IN BRUGES opens 2/8 at the Angelika New York and 2/15 at the Angelika Houston & Plano.

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[QUICKTIME http://www.angelikablog.com/_Content/martin2.mov 320 257]

SNEAK PREVIEW OF SMART PEOPLE

January 28, 2008

Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker and JUNO phenom Ellen Page star together in the upcoming film SMART PEOPLE. Fresh out of Sundance, this sharp black comedy centers on an isolated, acid-tongued college professor whose crush on a former student, combined with an unexpected visit from his derelict brother sends his life spinning out of control.

SMART PEOPLE opened to rave reviews at Sundance last week, and we’ve got a few exclusive clips to prove it. SMART PEOPLE opens April 11 @ the Angelika New York, Dallas & Plano.

[QUICKTIME http://www.angelikablog.com/_Content/smartpeople1.mov 320 257]

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