After “quitting” acting in a big, public way, Joaquin Phoenix is navigating an impressive comeback. He’s currently shooting Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master and now he’s also attached to star in the latest collaboration between screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and director Spike Jonze. The film, an untitled political satire, is being financed by Megan Ellison‘s Annapurna Pictures and Warner Bros. has also reportedly come on board, aiming at a March 2012 start date. Read more after the break. Read More »

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OK, we really need to send a giant ‘thank you’ bouquet to Megan Ellison. Her company, Annapurna Pictures, is reportedly financing two Paul Thomas Anderson films (The Master and Inherent Vice) and is backing Wong Kar Wai’s new film The Grandmasters as well as pictures like The Wettest County in the World and Cogan’s Trade. In short, if you like ambitious, literate films, she and her team are on your side.

Now the company is negotiating a deal for rights to “an untitled satire” that will mark the reunion of Being John Malkovich and Adaptation director and screenwriter Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman. Get a few more details after the break. Read More »

If you’re among the rather rabid audience for which the mere combination of the names Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman causes excited palpitations, then you’d better lie down before reading any further. The two filmmakers, who teamed for Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, are reportedly circulating a new film pitch to financiers. There is no plot outline available, or any info at all. The LA Times reports the news, and notes that as the project exists in pitch form, there’s not even a script to share at this point.

And here we were, just earlier today, noting that a heady film like Synecdoche, New York or the theoretical Fellini-esque second half of Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman project seemed like a difficult sell of late. And perhaps that’s the case — there’s no financing for this one yet. But fingers crossed that Jonze and Kaufman get financiers to bite. We can always use more conceptual, engaging movies like their previous two collaborations. Very much hoping this happens, and isn’t an overblown, too-early announcement of intent.

A few speculative, possibly connected details are after the break. Read More »

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Your first reaction to that headline is probably going to be your jaw hitting the floor. But pick it up and relax. Yes, Charlie Kaufman has evidently done some script work on Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom. But it’s just a polish, not a major rewrite. Still, does this mean that we’ll see a wild sequence of exquisitely realized self-doubt in the film? Probably not (or probably not in the classic Kaufman mode) but read on anyway. Read More »

We Were Once A Fairytail

It was only a few weeks ago that I flew out to Los Angeles to talk with filmmaker Spike Jonze about his adaptation of Where The Wild Things Are. I really wasn’t expecting to hear back from Spike until the next film, probably a couple years down the line. Last week, Jonze’s new short film We Were Once a Fairytale leaked online, and the filmmaker wanted to touch base again and talk about the new project. So I got on the phone with the man himself, on his birthday no less, to talk about the short film starring Kayne West, which is now officially online on iTunes in both standard and high definition video (download it now). I also snuck in a few unrelated questions from Twitter, including a joke question from Up in the Air director Jason Reitman.

Spike Jonze: Peter. Hey, how are you doing?

Peter Sciretta: Hey, Spike. Good.  How are you doing?

Spike Jonze: Good, good.

Peter Sciretta: Happy birthday.

Spike Jonze: Thanks.  Yeah, it’s– I’m just leaving on a vacation.  So I had a great birthday, and then, I’m going to have a birthday trip.  So it’s all good.

Read More »

dana-carvey1

The Dana Carvey Show is now on Hulu. What’s the big deal? Well, when the sketch comedy show premiered on ABC in the mid ’90s—following a family-safe block of programming—millions were in awe at the stuff it got away with. It was too good to be true, giving SNL an irreverent elbow. When Carvey spoofed President Bill Clinton by whipping out countless flabby breasts to proudly nurse babies and puppies, it was the beginning of the end. Ratings were steady but still used as a scapegoat, and it was axed after eight episodes. Parents and middle school teachers exhaled in unison.

Knowing that Robert Smigel‘s “The Ambiguously Gay Duo” debuted right after Jonathan Taylor Thomas’s stupid girl troubles on Home Improvement remains incredibly surreal and relevant in the current climate.

After the jump is a screen-shot that captures the show’s insane roster of writers: Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell and Charlie Kaufman for starters…

Read More »

/FilmCast

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In this special episode of the /Filmcast: After Dark, David Chen, Devindra Hardawar and Adam Quigley devote 80 minutes to discussing Charlie Kaufman’s frustrating, enigmatic, and brilliant film, Synecdoche, New York. Special guests Matt Singer from IFC and Angie Han join us.

Have any feedback? You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. Join us next Wednesday night at Slashfilm’s live page at 9 PM EST / 6 PM PST as we review Fast and Furious.

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Interview with Charlie Kaufman

In September, I had the opportunity to sit down with Charlie Kaufman, the screenwriter behind Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine and his directorial debut – Synecdoche, New York. Interviewing Charlie Kaufman is like playing a tennis match that you just can’t win. I went into the interview with questions about symbolism and themes, but one of the first things he said was that he doesn’t want to talk about the meaning of the film. And that’s fine. So the interview became more about the process of screenwriting and the transition into directing, than it did about the movie itself. Synecdoche, New York will be in a few theaters beginning this weekend.

Peter Sciretta: Do you typically write your films hoping that audience will require multiple viewings?

Charlie Kaufman: Yes. Well, I think it makes it more interesting for an audience to have some complexity in the material, and also, I’ve got this sort of thing where I’m trying to make it feel like it’s a living piece of theater, as opposed to a set, sort of a pre-recorded thing. And it’s sort of a tricky thing to try to make film feel alive because it isn’t. So this way, it can change when you watch it again at a different point in your life, or just seeing it for the second time, you’re going to see things you couldn’t possibly see the first time because you didn’t know something until the end. But, also, you get to look at details. You can watch things that are happening in the background of scenes that are informative that you probably don’t see the first time through when you’re just trying to get the thing. So that’s why.

Peter Sciretta: I’ve talked to a lot of people that they have that moment of realization or something a week or two after they see one of your films.

Charlie Kaufman: Yes, well, I mean I’ve heard that with this movie, in particular, that people tend to have a delayed reaction, that it sort of sits with them and becomes more affecting over time, which is kind of nice for me to hear that there’s a continuing relationship with the work in someone’s brain. It’s still processing over time. I think most movies aren’t designed to do that; they’re designed to get people into the box, into the theater on the opening weekend and make a lot of money. I guess it’s kind of an unfortunate sort of direction for something that’s an art form, or it should be or can be.

Peter Sciretta: What are the origins of Synecdoche?

Charlie Kaufman: I started to talk with Spike Jonze. We were going to do a horror movie for Sony, and we were talking about, well, what’s really scary rather than what horror movie conventions are that were scary. So we were talking about aging and dying and illness and family and loss and regret and loneliness and kind of went in to Amy Pascal and just pitched a kind of a general sort of direction, and she just wanted to work with us because we’d done adaptation there, and she liked us. So she told me to go off and write it, and I did. And it took me a few years to write it, and then Spike had become involved with Where the Wild Things Are, and I asked him if he would let go of it so that I could direct it, and he said yes.

Peter Sciretta:
What made you to want to direct this film? You’ve written a lot of films for Spike that show…
Read More »

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