The Spectacular Now at Sundance

In an age when the phrase “teen drama” suggests hardscrabble dystopias or lovelorn werewolves, what’s extraordinary about The Spectacular Now is how ordinary it is. The leads are two kids that could be from any town in America, and their romance is neither epic nor star-crossed. Stories like this one surely play out dozens of times a day all over the world.

But despite that ordinariness, or more likely because of it, The Spectacular Now is also one of the best teen dramas of recent years. Under the direction of James Ponsoldt (Smashed), The Spectacular Now is a pitch-perfect depiction of adolescence, warm and funny and sad without ever veering into forced sentimentality.

It’s a tough balance to pull off, and during a recent press stop in New York I got the opportunity to ask him how he managed to get it right. We also talked about why the kids in The Spectacular Now drink so much, how he took advantage of Kyle Chandler‘s Coach Taylor image, and which Arrested Development star he’d love to work with. Hit the jump to read the full interview. (Some spoilers for The Spectacular Now follow.)

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There’s something magical about Evan Rachel Wood, or so the movies would have you believe. Charlie Countryman and A Case of You didn’t have much else in common, but both were about her impressive ability to spur even the most aimless young (well, young-ish) man to action in an attempt to win her over.

She works her mysterious magic yet again in the indie romcom Barefoot, as an extremely sheltered and naive young woman who crosses paths with the ne’er-do-well scion (Scott Speedman) of a wealthy Southern family. Watch the trailer after the jump.

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Joaquin Phoenix Her

As depicted in Spike Jonze‘s Her, the future promises neither self-tying Nikes nor clear plastic skullcaps. Instead, we’ll all be wearing soft, colorful basics, like Gap pieces with a few offbeat tweaks. But if you don’t want to wait around for that future to come to pass, you can dress like a man in love with an operating system right now thanks to a new collection by Opening Ceremony.

Jonze and costume designer Casey Storm have teamed up with the clothing company to release a collection of outfits that echo the outfits worn in the movie — right down to the safety-pinned pockets, which are perfect for storing your digital girlfriend. Check ‘em out after the jump.

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Amanda Seyfried in The Big Wedding

While some actors seem to be forever pigeonholed into one genre or another, Amanda Seyfried has proven over the course of her decade-plus career that she can do them all: soap opera, teen comedy, modern noir, supernatural horror, sci-fi, thriller, romantic drama, musical, animated children’s feature, even a Western. So she seems as well equipped as anyone to try and breathe life into a genre that doesn’t get much love in Hollywood these days.

Seyfried has just boarded He’s Fuckin’ Perfect, a romcom being produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay and directed by Funny or Die alum Jake Szymanski. If the title rings a bell, that may be because we first reported on it two years ago when Emma Stone was linked to the role. Plot details and more after the jump.

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The new film from Spike Jonze is Her, which delves into the strangeness of modern relationships through an unusual device: Joaquin Phoenix plays a man who falls in love with a piece of software, appealingly voiced by Scarlett Johansson.

Set in a slightly sci-fi near-future Los Angeles, the story features Phoenix interacting with Johansson in voice only, through an earpiece that allows him to stay in constant contact with the operating system of his dreams. This is no glib gag laughing at the idea of a man/machine romance, however, but an earnest inquiry into what makes relationships tick.

There’s a new trailer out today, which you can see below. Read More »

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In her onscreen appearances this year, Elizabeth Olsen is sleeping with all the wrong people. Look no further than Oldboy for concrete proof, but if you want more, there’s the period drama In Secret, based on Émile Zola’s novel Thérèse Raquin.

Olsen plays Thérèse, trapped in an arranged marriage to her dunderheaded and frail cousin (Tom Felton), and who finds herself burning a candle — maybe a bonfire, really — for the dashing and worldy artist friend (Oscar Isaac) who enters her family orbit. The appeal here is, in part, based on the cast; Olsen is reliably great in most roles (she’s even good in Oldboy, though he work is not rewarded), and Oscar Isaac seems perfectly cast in the role of the potential paramour.

And there’s the tone, commanded by director Charlie Stratton (episodes of Everwood and Revenge), which builds mysteries and plot twists on a foundation of Victorian repression, with Olsen’s luminous face guiding us through the shadows. Check out a trailer below.

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

There have been no shortage of teasers, trailers, and clips for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Ben Stiller‘s latest directorial effort, but for the most part the footage has been revealed in brief one- or two-minute increments. Today, we have a brand-new trailer for the romantic adventure that clocks in at six minutes long.

Based on the 1939 short story by James Thurber and the 1947 movie inspired by same, Stiller’s Walter Mitty follows a timid Life Magazine photo editor who constantly daydreams to escape his dull life. When his job is threatened, however, he sets out on an epic journey every bit as incredible as the elaborate fantasy sequences he’s concocted in his head. Watch the latest promo after the jump.

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The band Broken Bells, aka Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton and James “the Shins” Mercer, makes very cinematic music. For a video to accompany new material the pair had a great idea. Burton took a story concept to Jacob Gentry (The Signal, My Super Psycho Sweet 16) and gave him the freedom to make an extended pair of shorts that effectively act as a music video for the album, rather than for any one song. (Gentry had previously done an earlier video for the band.)

The result is a two-part sci-fi romance starring Kate Mara (House of Cards) and Anton Yelchin (Star Trek, Only Lovers Left Alive), which uses music from the Broken Bells record ‘After the Disco,’ along with some material that is exclusive to these videos, as the score for the whole story. There are some classic sci-fi influences here, a nice little twist, and an emotionally affecting arc to it all. Check out both parts below. Read More »

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