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After perfecting her plain-girl act in Arrested Development, Mae Whitman (her?) is trying to shake it off in The Duff. She plays Bianca, a high school senior who’s dismayed to realize she’s considered the DUFF — Designated Ugly Fat Friend — to her prettier pals. In an effort to reinvent herself, she enlists the help of handsome popular jock Wesley (Robbie Amell).

It all sounds pretty silly, starting with the notion that Whitman is ugly and fat. But this is movie-land, where Rachel Leigh Cook was once considered freakishly repulsive because she dared wear overalls and glasses. And where we’re supposed to believe Amell, a 26-year-old former male model, is a typical teenager. Hit the jump to watch The Duff trailer.

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“Are you just another AFC (‘average frustrated chump’) trying to meet an HB (‘hot babe’)? How would you like to ‘full-close’ with a Penthouse Pet of the Year? The answers, my friend, are in Neil Strauss’ entertaining book The Game.” So begins, the Amazon.com description of The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists by Neil Strauss. A day after it was announced that Robert Downey Jr. might star in another adaptation of a Strauss book, Emergency, news breaks that Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, writers on The Office, are polishing a screenplay of The Game. If Eisenberg and Stupnitsky’s names sound familiar, it’s because they wrote (or are writing, who knows) Ghostbusters 3. As previously announced, The Game will be directed by Ari Sandel. We’ve got more on the project after the jump. Read More »

West Bank Story

Yesterday it was reported that Academy Award-winning USC grad Ari Sandel was in talks to direct the big screen adaptation of Neil Strauss‘ bestselling book The Game: Penetrating The Secret Society of Pickup Artists. So I thought it would be as good a time than any to feature West Bank Story, the short film which won Sandel an Oscar in 2007 for Best Live Action Short Film.

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The Game

In 2005, Columbia Pictures acquired the film rights to Neil Strauss‘ bestselling pickup book The Game: Penetrating The Secret Society of Pickup Artists, and About A Boy director/screenwriter Chris Weitz was at one point attached to direct. The option expired, and rights returned to Strauss. Now Variety is reporting that Academy Award-winning USC grad Ari Sandel (West Bank Story) is in talks to direct the big screen adaptation for Lionsgate with Spyglass financing and Depth of Field producing. Due Date scribe Adam Sztykiel is rewriting Dan Weiss‘ script.

For those of you who are chuckling about the idea of a handbook for pickup artists being adapted into a big screen movie, that isn’t exactly the case.

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2007 Academy Awards Winners

Let’s look at the results from the 79th Academy Awards ceremony:

Best Motion Picture of the Year:

The Departed
  • Babel
  • Letters from Iwo Jima
  • Little Miss Sunshine
  • The Queen

Achievement in Directing:

Martin Scorsese for The Departed
  • Clint Eastwood for Letters from Iwo Jima
  • Stephen Frears for The Queen
  • Alejandro González Iñárritu for Babel
  • Paul Greengrass for United 93

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role:

Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland
  • Leonardo DiCaprio for Blood Diamond
  • Ryan Gosling for Half Nelson
  • Peter O’Toole for Venus
  • Will Smith for The Pursuit of Happyness

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role:

Helen Mirren for The Queen
  • Penélope Cruz for Volver
  • Judi Dench for Notes on a Scandal
  • Meryl Streep for The Devil Wears Prada
  • Kate Winslet for Little Children

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