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Twitch has a short clip from the odd-looking superhero movie Defendor, starring Woody Harrelson and Kat Dennings. We’ve already run some photos, which got me interested in the film immediately, and this clip looks great. Check it out after the break. Read More »

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Defendor

Defendor is a superhero dramedy which premieres at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. Written and directed by Peter Stebbings, and starring Woody Harrelson and Kat Dennings, the story centers around three characters: an everyday guy who comes to believe he’s a superhero, his psychiatrist, and the teenager he befriends.

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I’m still extremely behind on Sundance reviews. After the jump you will find my mini-reviews for Adam, Arlen Faber and Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. Enjoy.

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First Look: Robert Rodriguez’s Shorts

Warner Bros has finally released full details and the first photos from Robert Rodriguez‘s next film, a kids adventure film called Shorts. The official plot synopsis follows:

“Set in the suburb of Black Falls, where all the houses look the same and everyone works for Black Box Unlimited Worldwide Industries Incorporated, whose Mr. Black’s Black Box is the ultimate communication and do-it-all gadget that’s sweeping the nation. Other than keeping his parents employed, however, Mr. Black’s Black Box has done nothing for 11- year-old Toe Thompson, who just wants to make a few friends… until a mysterious rainbow-colored rock falls from the sky, hits him in the head and changes everything. The Rainbow Rock does Mr. Black’s Black Box one better: it grants wishes to anyone who holds it. Before long, wishes-gone-wrong have left the neighborhood swarming with tiny spaceships, crocodile armies, giant boogers… and outrageous magical mayhem around every corner. But it’s not until the grown-ups get their hands on the Rock that the trouble really starts. Now Toe and his new found friends must join forces to save their town from itself, discovering along the way that what you wish for is not always what you want.”

I’m usually up for seeing anything Rodriguez does, especially if there is a commentary on the DVD. He’s like the old movie magic magicians from my childhood. And even when the kiddish plot isn’t particularly interesting, its always fun to find out how he accomplished some of the things he has on screen. I’ve always said he’s one of a handful of directors that I love to hear talk, but I don’t put much value in their actual filmography. But is it just me, or does the mysterious rainbow-colored rock thing look like something out of a direct to dvd or made for tv movie?

The film stars Jon Cryer, William H. Macy, Leslie Mann, James Spader, Jimmy Bennett, Kat Dennings, Trevor Gagnon, Leo Howard, Devon Gearhart, Rebel Rodriguez, Jake Short, and Jolie Vanier.

Robert Rodriguez‘s Shorts is expected to hit theaters on August 7th 2009.

2009 Sundance Film Festival Competition Films Announced

The Sundance Institute has announced the first half of the line-up for the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. Included in the first press release are the films in competition in the Drama and Documentary segments. 3,661 feature-length films were submitted this year, which is 37 more films than last year. For the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, 118 feature-length films were selected including 87 world premieres, 19 North American premieres, and 4 U.S. premieres representing 21 countries with 42 first-time filmmakers, including 28 in competition. Before we get into the full list, I would like to point out some of the films that particularly interest me. Also, now should be the time for me to admit that I focus more on English-language films, so my foreign picks will probably be lacking.

The Wrestler screenwriter Robert Siegel makes his directorial debut with Big Fan, which stars Patton Oswalt as a parking garage attendant and hardcore New York Giants football fan who struggles to deal with the consequences when he is beaten up by his favorite player. Michael Rapaport also stars. I loved the humor that Siegel brought to The Wrestler, and with Oswalt in the lead – this one is a no brainer.

The Office star John Krasinski makes his directorial debut with a big screen adaptation of David Foster Wallace‘s book Breif Interviews with Hideous Men. The story follows Julianne Nicholson as a doctoral candidate in anthropology who “tries to remedy the heartache” of being dumped with little explanation, by interviewing men about their behavior. Krasinski, Dominic Cooper and Timothy Hutton also star.

In Cold Souls, Paul Giamatti stars as a famous American actor who in the midst of an existential crisis, “explores soul extraction as a relief from the burdens of daily life.” Okay, doesn’t have the best plot description but Giamatti is involved, as well as David Strathairn, Emily Watson, and Lauren Ambrose.


Emmy Rossum stars in Adam Salky‘s feature directorial debut Dare, about “three very different teenagers discover that, even in the safe world of a suburban prep school, no one is who she or he appears to be.” IMDB also provides a different teaser synopsis: “The good girl, the outsider and the bad boy…like you’ve never seen them before.” This is a feature length adaptation of Salky’s 2005 short film which was met with acclaim at film festivals. I’m a sucker for coming of age films.

Everyone is talking about Paper Heart, the film that Michael Cera made under the raydar with his girlfriend Charlyne Yi. The film is apparently a meta-love story with the stars playing themselves (?). The pre-festival hype aside, I would see this film based on Cera’s involvement alone.

Teeth star Jess Weixler returns to Sundance opposite Jason Ritter in a big screen adaptation of Peter and Vandy, the Drama Desk Nominated Best Play that was lauded for its “almost embarrassing intimacy and killer comic timing.” The film tells the story of a contemporary Manhattan love story, told out of order, with no beginning and no end. Festival programer Geoffrey Gilmore says that “One of the themes” of this year’s festival is “the kind of new-generation love story,” … a new “way of telling love stories right now by a new, younger generation that’s different, that’s fresh, that’s original.” This and the Cera film Paper Heart seems to fit into this statement.

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Jeff Daniels stars as the title character Arlen Faber, a reclusive author of a groundbreaking spiritual book awakens to new truths when two strangers enter his life. The film also stars Kat Dennings (Nick and Norah), Olivia Thirlby (Juno, Wackness), and Lauren Gram. The film was formerly titled “The Dream of the Romans“, which is a much better title if you ask me.


In Good Hair, Comedian Chris Rock turns documentary filmmaker when he sets out to examine the culture of African-American hair and hairstyles. I’m not sure if it will be good, like many of Chris Rock’s films, but I’ll always be there for anything the guy creates.

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Documentary filmmaker R.J. Cutler was given unprecedented access for a film titled “The September Issue“. Cutler and crew shot Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour and her team over the corse of nine months as they prepared the 2007 VogueSeptember issue, widely accepted as the “fashion bible” for the year’s trends. I’ve always been interested in the world of journalism, even if the Fashion world might be a very different realm. And I must admit that The Devil Wears Prada has me very interested to catch this one.

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You can read the full press release (which includes a listing of all the films announced today) after the jump.

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Kat Dennings Cast in Superhero Dramedy


Nick and Norah’ Infinite Playlist star Kat Dennings is in talks to join Peter StebbingsDefendor. Woody Harrelson plays a regular guy who believes he has a secret superhero identity. Dennings will play a teenage girl who he befriends. Sandra Oh will play his psychiatrist. I imagine that the film will be something like K-Pax meets Unbreakable, but I could be totally wrong. I was so excited when they Hancock went into production (but obviously disappointed with the final production) because I think the film world could use a take on superheroes which steps beyond the standard comic book adaptation. Maybe Defendor might be a step in that direction. Stebbings will make his directorial debut, with production set to begin next month in Toronto.

source: THR

TIFF Review: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Many people have drawn a comparison between Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Juno, due to the hand drawn opening title sequence / poster title, Michael Cera and a focus on indie pop music. It also doesnt help that Norah screens at the Toronto a year after Juno premiered at the Film Festival. But Nick and Norah is nothing like Juno.

The teen comedy genre has always placed one step below Horror movies on the meter of public respect, probably because there are so many bad ones. I’ve always had a soft spot for high school films, and have had to defend the genre over the years to friends and family, touting Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Can’t Hardly Wait, Go and most recently Superbad as examples of what the genre can produce with the right talents involved. I’ve noticed that many of the teen films I’ve enjoyed, tend to happen over the course of one night. Nick and Norah is no different.

Nick (Michael Cera) is still trying to get over a six month relationship by making the 12th volume of a mix CD for his uninterested bitchy ex-girlfriend. After playing a gig with his queencore band The Jerk Offs (sans drummer), Norah (Kat Dennings) abruptly asks Nick to be her boyfriend for five minutes in order to show up her condescending friend Tris. And so the adventure begins. Norah’s drunk girlfriend gets lost in New York City while the duo goes on the hunt to find Fluffy’s secret show in Nick’s crappy little yellow car. And this is only the beginning.

Adapted from the novel by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is good but not great. I have a feeling that it could have been better if they had stuck closer to the source material. In the book, it is Nick, not Norah, who asks for the five-minute relationship in an attempt to show his ex, who has showed up at his gig with a new guy, that he has also moved on. The reasoning behind the moment in the film seems very forced and contrived. It’s also never made clear why Tris went out with Nick in the first place. The six month relationship is unbelievable, even if she spent the whole time cheating on him. Maybe she was impressed that he is in a band.

What the film does get right is the wonderful little moments of a blossoming relationship, for example, one sweet moment when Nick offers to washes off Norah’s hands with a wet nap that he got at a resturant the week before. But the fantastical story gets in the way too often. Kat Dennings is the perfect go-to non-perfect girl you can’t help but love, and Michael Cera elevates the film with the wonderfully awkward comic timing we have come to enjoy. Mark Mothersbaugh provides a magical synth-pop score. Oh, and did I mention there is a small cameo by SNL’s Andy Samberg.

/Film Rating: 7 out of 10

The trailer for Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist has hit the web. Looks like a half-decent teen flick. And the uncomfortable delivery of Michael Cera could get me through anything, I’m pretty sure. I’m also a huge fan of teen films that takes place over the course of one night (ala Go, Can’t Hardly Wait, Superbad). As always, share your thoughts in the comments below.

Directed by Peter Sollett (Raising Victor Vargas), and based on the novel by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, Michael Cera (SuperBad) and Kat Dennings (The 40-Year-Old Virgin) star. “It all starts when Nick asks Norah to be his girlfriend for five minutes, to avoid his ex-girlfriend, who’s just walked in to his band’s show. And then, with one kiss, Nick and Norah are off on an adventure set against the backdrop of New York City-and smack in the middle of all the joy, anxiety, confusion, and excitement of a first date. This is the story about one date over one very long night, with two teenagers, both recovering from broken hearts, who are just trying to figure out who they want to be-and where the next great band is playing.”

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist will hit theaters on October 3rd, after premiering at the Toronto Film Festival in September.

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