Most of Tony Bennett’s family, Lady Gaga’s parents, Amy Winehouse’s parents and even Harry Belafonte were on hand for the premiere of “The Zen of Bennett” on Monday night, making a one-show-only bow at the Tribeca Film Festival. It was a temperate all-ages event, but it's fine if it wasn't too flashy: “Conceived, created, and produced by his son,” the documentary was what Danny Bennett described as a “love letter” to his 85-year-old father.
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It is unusual to actually learn something about a performer on a set visit, but I had a moment of pure clarity when I went to San Francisco to watch some of the production of "The Five-Year Engagement."
It was at the very end of the schedule, but it was for the first scene in the film. We spent most of the night on top of a building right by the water, watching Jason Segel propose to Emily Blunt repeatedly, and as I watched them shoot the scene, it was interesting to see how the dynamic between them played out.
In the first master shot, Segel was playing the comedy in the moment. It was a very funny version of the scene, and Blunt played it the same way. When Stoller moved in for close-ups, though, he shot Blunt's first, and she played the real emotion of the moment. It was still funny, but there was also something else going on underneath, something real and sweet. When the crew reversed the set-up for Segel's close-up, he adjusted his performance, playing it as real as Blunt did, turning up the emotion.
In the just-released trailer for Judd Apatow's Christmas release this year, "This Is 40," they directly acknowledge the unusual DNA of the movie, referring to it as a "sort-of-sequel to 'Knocked Up.'"
I can't really think of any equivalent follow-up to a mainstream hit, where supporting characters just sort of take over the second movie and the original lead characters don't return at all. When I spoke to Apatow about the origins of the film on the set last year, he said his first impulse wasn't to do a sequel, but that as he started exploring the idea of doing a film about turning 40 and dealing with the issues that raises for people, he realized that he would essentially have to create a new Pete and Debbie, and why bother when he already had a Pete and Debbie that he knew audiences liked.
This is a nice introductory trailer, and it's interesting how much of the movie it doesn't even remotely suggest at this point. For example, we'll meet Pete and Debbie's parents in this movie, and we'll see Albert Brooks and John Lithgow show up as their fathers. We'll also see Debbie's business, a clothing boutique, where Megan Fox and Charlene Yi both work.
Pack your bags, we’re riding shotgun on a road trip with John Mayer. In the video for “Shadow Days,” he takes us on a triptych across the West and Southwest-- from California to Idaho and Arizona and beyond. He’s traveling solo, but there are stops along the way: a diner, a convenience story, a guitar shop.
The shaggy-haired Mayer is sporting a hat much like the kind producer Don Was, who helmed Mayer's new album, “Born & Raised,” sports, as well as a few days’ scruff so we’re thinking Was definitely rubbed off on him not only musically, but fashion-wise. And he certainly got a beautifully nuanced guitar performance out of him on "Shadow Days."
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This weekend the science-fiction meditation on faith, time travel and the human desire to subjugate oneself to something “greater,” Zal Batmanglij's “Sound of My Voice,” opens in theaters. And the film is in part the result of actress Brit Marling’s (“Another Earth”) desire to create interesting roles for herself.
Marling found that the types of characters she wanted to play simply were not available to her, and so she and Batmanglij, a college friend and long-time creative collaborator, chose to invent one. The film follows a Los Angeles couple, Peter (Christopher Denham) and Lorna (Nicole Vicius) as they attempt to uncover the truth about a cult leader (Marling) who claims to be from the future.
Those are the broad strokes of the plot. But what the film is really looking at is faith, a culture in which a sense of community has become painfully fragmented and the seductive and potentially dangerous power of a person who purports to have the answers so many are seeking.
As fans will see for themselves when they hear Haley Reinhart’s debut album, “Listen Up,” out May 22, the “American Idol” season 10 contestant has really come into her own. Her sultry voice wrapping around the album's jazzy and soulful pop melodies recalls Amy Winehouse, Dusty Springfield, and Regina Spektor.
Though her fellow Season 10 contestant and buddy Casey Abrams does not appear on her album, it sounds like she might guest on his forthcoming Concord album, set for release this summer. The two released a spirited version of "Baby It's Cold Outside" as a Christmas gift to their fans and have reunited for more.
We interviewed Reinhart yesterday about the new album, but also asked if the pair had recorded anything new. “Yes, we actually just had something in the mix and I’ll let him talk about that; it’s nothing that I’ll give away," Reinhart said. "But yes, we are getting together and doing more stuff...We could never leave each other in that way. We have to continue to do stuff together.”
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It's refreshing to hear Nas -- one of hip-hop's most esteemed, lasting voices -- taking on more than swagger and girls in his latest song. Or, rather, he's rhyming about girls, but more specifically his own "little" girl, who is now 17.
"Daughters" is another new track to arrive from Nas' "Life Is Good" album, due on July 17. "Daughters" goes on sale in the usual spots on May 1.
Among Nas' temptations is to blaze through another elder-statesman "I'm still top of the game" kind of jam, but this super-specific track touches on a tender topic oft-ignored (or undercooked) by hip-hop on the whole. Raising a daughter and rapping aren't mutually exclusive, and Nas tackles his own daugther Destiny's parenting head-on. He addresses the fact that his little princess posted a photo of condoms on her bedside table to Twitter, and that she's already fielding numerous calls from, erm, suitors.
I've written a lot about "The Simpsons" this season, between the two-year renewal, a wave of nostalgia before the airing of the 500th episode, and my feeling that this is one of the stronger overall seasons of the last 10-plus years, and a good example of why I'm glad the show continues to churn out new episodes after all this time.
As I said in my review of Nicki Minaj's "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded," the star's output has suffered from her and her label's attempt to throw just about anything at the wall in hopes something sticks. In her music video for hopeless radio bait "Starships," they use the same method, only this time with Dayglo paint and bikinis.
Minaj is seen emerging from the water, a beam from a "starship" of manufactured Girldom, the centerpiece of every cheap beach rave and Vicky's Secret cliche you can think of. Certainly, Minaj looks beautiful, bound inside of strappy and stringy two pieces and body glitter on the beaches of Hawaii. But she doesn't look comfortable. Signalling that Minaj's dance moves are still unready for primetime, she's a bumbling, posturing siren in a sea of hippie-trippies and professional hoofers (in bowler hats, to boot).
For everything wrong with this video and this type of video, just fast forward to the final scenes, where the party jumps around and Minaj has to literally hold onto her bouncing bountiful breasts: is it to mirror very similar actions that everyday party-going girls have to endure or a true reflection of the waste and half-baked madness Barbz must endure? Either way: it requires endruance to get through this mess.
Cash Money has got to quit trying to make Minaj into Rihanna With Raps. She's got too much savage personality to fit into a sweetheart mold, too much talent as a rapper to squander and not enough know-how to navigate this kind of generic pop pageantry. It's like watching "Toddlers & Tiaras" -- she's not ready, which makes "Starships" well-meaning but completely off-course.
Hello, Village Roadshow.
This evening, I was working on a review for a film and occasionally looking over at the Twitter feed on another screen, and I saw Garth Franklin send a single Tweet. "Roadshow have confirmed - both "Cabin In The Woods" and Chernobyl Diaries" will go direct to DVD in Australia. Dates to be announced."
Could I ask you to reconsider that decision?
You've got time. You haven't announced any dates yet, so you haven't tied yourself to anything that you'd then have to retract. You are in a position right now to simply reverse course and make a whole lot of potential customers very very happy.
"But we've gone over the numbers and we've discussed it and we're pretty sure this is the right decision." I'm sure you have any number of very smart professional people working for your company who have spent real time and energy putting together the plan that Garth was referring to tonight. I'm sure there is sound reasoning behind the decision.
Nicholas Stoller's films are frequently lumped in under the broader umbrella of "Judd Apatow movies," but I think that's not fair. Yes, Apatow helped usher in a certain style of studio comedy that is now a major part of the landscape, but he doesn't write and direct every movie that he produces. Stoller's movies, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall, "Get Him To The Greek," and this week's new release "The Five-Year Engagement," have their own identity, their own unruly voice, and I think he's doing a nice job of honing that identity from film to film.
Working with Jason Segel, it seems to me that Stoller is fascinated by just how far he can push a character or characters before they break. In "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," Segel played wounded very well, and the gradual way he mended his heart was charted with honesty even though it was also packed with laughs. "Greek" was all about testing the character played by Jonah Hill and seeing just how much he was willing to put up with from someone he idolized. Now, with this film, Stoller and Segel are once again writing about something real, wrapping up some painful truth in some big comedy set piece moments, and if the film has a major flaw, it is inherent to the premise itself.
A review of tonight's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as I love it when you're needlessly disgusting...