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America’s very own Kenny Powers aka The Man with the Golden Dick is officially leaving North Carolina and shipping off to play ball(s) in Mexico, better known as Hell on Earth in recent months due to drug cartel violence, kidnappings, and the rest of it. So, yikes, the “sour patch” seems only to worsen for Danny McBride‘s iconic steroid-taking professional baseball pitcher turned existential curse of an oaf. In early April, I wrote of the confirmation of an international change of setting from  Eastbound & Down co-director, David Gordon Green. He first brought up the possibility in 2008 during my set visit. In recent weeks, Puerto Rico had been bandied about quite a bit as a shooting location for the HBO series, but as I hinted, the island will sub in for ever-topical Mexico. The core team has been in Rico working on the scripts for the next eight episodes (its predecessor had six), and shooting begins in May.

Now, Deadline confirms two new regulars for the second season. In line with rumors, many of season uno’s beloved characters won’t be returning. One of the regulars for season two, actor Michael Pena, is a no brainer. He played the amazing thief/mall pig named Dennis in 2009′s Observe & Report, the cult classic sophomore feature from EB&D co-creator and co-director Jody Hill. In a subtle hat tip to the movie and the series’ new setting, fans will recall that Dennis fled America in a raffle car for Mexico where “the water’s warm and the girls are wet. “ More details south of the border, including news and pics of Kenny’s vivacious new lady friend…

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Danny McBride to Star in Jody Hill’s L.A.P.I.

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Now that Danny McBride and Jody Hill ostensibly have the keys to the kingdom by way of their new production company, Rough House Pictures, the world of comedy better watch its stagnant ass. Hill is attached to direct, and McBride to star as a “beaten down, hardboiled private investigator,” in a new action-comedy called L.A.P.I. Their pal and fellow North Carolina School of the Arts alum, David Gordon Green, who co-founded the company with them last year, will co-produce.

What’s intriguing is that unlike their previous collaborations The Foot Fist Way, HBO’s Eastbound & Down, and Observe & Report, the idea and pitch for L.A.P.I. originates outside the crew’s creative circle, from screenwriter team Michael Diliberti and Matthew Sullivan. The duo have two other buzzing projects in development: a comedy entitled Comic Con (one of two scripts by these guys on the 2009 Black List) and a remake of Brewster’s Millions. McBride and Hill are pretty damn selective about material, so I can’t wait to hear more and see what appealed to them. Read the official press release and additional /Film thoughts after the jump. Or just go celebrate in your backyard by waving around a machete and leaving uncool magical trails…

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Quentin Tarantino’s Top 8 Movies of 2009

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The Hollywood Reporter had a chance to ask Quentin Tarantino about his favorite films of 2009, and the filmmaker responded with the following eight movies…

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This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

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OBSERVE AND REPORT
It’s understandable that Observe and Report would polarize audiences. That the film even received financing remains surprising to me. Generally, studios wouldn’t dare greenlight a film as uncompromising as this without the promise of Oscar nominations down the line. I can only imagine they were banking on the financial viability of Seth Rogen, a casting decision that is both one of the film’s greatest assets and, temporarily, its greatest weakness. That weakness is not an issue with the film itself, but rather audience expectations. As much as I’d like to blame the trailers for misleading viewers, this is not an easy film to market, and as such, most ticket buyers walked into their screening ready for a simple, familiar formula: Seth Rogen + raunchy R-rated comedy. They were not, I suspect, prepared for a dark, cynical satire about American machismo and the country’s absurd obsession with guns, violence, and, to put it bluntly, obtaining satisfaction off inflicting pain on others. Even in watching the film though, these undertones may not be immediately clear; where other directors may have felt the need approach the material in a way that more clearly condemns Ronnie’s actions, writer/director Jody Hill wisely adopts the mindset of his insane lead character, playing the entire twisted tale as an inspirational underdog story. This was a brilliant decision on Hill’s part, but it came at a cost: fail to pick up on those elements, and much of film’s humor is lost. What should be (and is) scathingly hilarious instead comes across as ugly and dumb. Is it really any wonder that the film failed to find success at the box office? Thanks to DVD though, Observe and Report finally has a chance to find its niche audience. This is a movie that’s destined for cult status, where viewers can fully appreciate what Jody Hill was trying to do. The year’s not quite over yet, but as of now, Observe and Report is my pick for funniest movie of the year, as well as a lock for my Top 10 of ’09.
Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – No extras. Blu-ray – A picture-in-picture commentary track with Seth Rogan, Anna Faris, and director Jody Hill, three featurettes (‘Seth Rogen & Anna Faris: Unscripted’, ‘Forest Ridge Mall: Security Recruitment Video’, ‘Basically Training’), additional scenes, and a gag reel.

BEST DVD PRICE
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BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
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Amazon – $24.99

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With only two feature films and one TV show to his name, writer/director Jody Hill, is now synonymous with ignoring the boundaries and “genre rules” of modern comedy and creating anti-heroes that laughably burble with nihilistic rage, scary faux pas and hot-air egos. But there is also an internal depth to these macho doofuses played by Hill’s longtime pal and writing partner, Danny McBride, and comedy star Seth Rogen, to surpass the high art of a perfectly-timed and pronounced “fuck.”

Hill’s work on Observe & Report, The Foot Fist Way, and his cultural breakthrough, HBO‘s Eastbound & Down, contains more glass-darkly social commentary and life-lived expression than the work of any hotshot young novelist in recent memory. Rather than document the cold realities and indulgent pleasantries of another big city with bright lights, Hill is set on exploring the very place that so many creative-types vacate upon the arrival of their first Visa card or college acceptance letter: the American South. Moreover, as many middle-class and broke white American males face sobering, if inevitable, realizations and disillusions about the future, laughing at Hill’s moronic, unhinged versions as they champion outdated movie/sports star heroics atop small-town kingdoms is like homemade medicine. When it comes to countering the monotony of the average day-to-day? Eastbound is harder to beat still. The sight of Kenny Powers “dancing” in a middle school gym under the influence of eggrolls and ecstasy or ejecting a topless broad from his Jet Ski is priceless. Like cheetah-spotted gold or “a bulletproof tiger, dude.”

A native of North Carolina, Hill is the latest progeny of the North Carolina School of the Arts, alongside McBride and creative partner Ben Best, fellow EB&D director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express), and EB&D cinematographer Tim Orr. In the first part of my interview, we discuss the show in-depth, including some of the surprising and vile admissions and special features on the Season One DVD. We also talk about what it’s like to be a young director coming from, and staying in, the South, why so many comedians today are from there, and why the region was overdue for a proper comedic depiction.

Hunter Stephenson: Hey Jody, how are you?

Jody Hill: Hey Hunter. Good, good, good. Hey man, I wanted to say that I was sorry I wasn’t there when you visited down in Wilmington [Eastbound & Down set, 2008]. I remember the piece you wrote, and it sounded like a really good time. [laughs] Sucks I couldn’t there, man; I was editing my film (Observe & Report), and Warner Bros. wouldn’t let me go. When you have to do a director’s cut, they want to lock you up for 10 weeks. [laughs] Everybody said they had a blast…and I was editing.

Yeah. I expected to interview you there. And I didn’t know about the change, that David Green was now directing the majority of the episodes while you were in L.A. But it all worked out, he killed it. My first question: Legend has it that when you, Danny [McBride], and Ben [Best] first conceived of Kenny Powers you were sitting in a kiddie pool in North Carolina drinking beers. [laughs] Is that accurate?

Jody Hill: [laughs] Yeah, this was before we made Foot Fist Way or anything. We were trying to come up with ideas for shows. I was between jobs; I had been working this really shit reality show job, doing motion-control for Behind the Music and shit like that. [laughs] It was pretty lame. And so, yeah, we were in Charlotte, in the backyard of Ben Best’s house. And yeah, we were literally sitting in a kiddie pool with a case of beer. And Kenny was one of the ideas that, uh, we came up with. [laughs]

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/FilmCast

observeIn this episode of the /Filmcast, David Chen, Devindra Hardawar and Adam Quigley discuss the ideal business situation for 3-D glasses at theaters, get excited about Duncan Jones’ Moon, deconstruct the awfulness of Marley & Me, and reflect on the brilliance of Jody Hill. Special guests Katey Rich from Cinemablend and Whitney Matheson from USA Today’s Popcandy blog join us.

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 MONDAY night at Slashfilm’s live page at 9 PM EST / 6 PM PST as we review Crank 2.

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Weekend Update: Due to the amazing bitch-session in the comments: the following article is a combination free-form essay/review on the genius, relevance, and influences of writer/director Jody Hill and his works including The Foot Fist Way, Eastbound & Down, and his latest, Observe and Report. It also deals with the growing trend of incredibly dark and conflicted American male anti-heroes in movies and TV. Oh yeah, it’s also really, really, really long and I didn’t see a need to begin the piece with “If you were expecting Paul Blart, get ready for a crazy rollercoaster not suitable for the kiddies.” Because fuck Paul Blart. No one will remember that movie in five years, until the sequel is released and makes $200 million. My bad?

Let me preface this by saying that I now anticipate Jody Hill’s films more than any other working filmmaker with the exception of Paul Thomas Anderson. And on a particularly excruciating Monday, maybe Tommy Wiseau’s.

“You suck this gun like a dick and then this dick goin’ cum in your mouth and blow your brains all over the street!” – Danny McBride in Observe and Report, um, protecting his legacy

Generally speaking, there are two types of people, and as it lies, two types of moviegoers: Those who go to malls without a second thought and those who go into them only on the rarest of occasions, sucking on an imaginary Klonopin, those who walk around wondering how the fuck this and they and that sign came to be, pregnant with the speeding notion that a loon might as well destroy the entire fucking building or at least high-jack the “raffle car,” peel out through the entrance doors, and drive on to a fabled body of water.

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I just returned from the set of H2 (Halloween 2) and am running off adrenaline, craft services coffee, and an iPod of Brian Jonestown Massacre and MF Doom. And also, a little bit of anger. Let me just say that Twitter has become a HUGE problem on movie sets, and that I do not grasp why it is necessary for some sites, however cool, to Tweet every effing detail of what they are seeing in real time. Word spreads quickly on these productions, and one bad, trivial, prematurely ejaculated Tweet can potentially and seemingly spoil access for everyone. End rant. The below news was in my email, cheered me up, and even though I need to crash, it was too good to delay posting…

HBO has officially confirmed that its original comedy series Eastbound and Down—a /Film fave—has been renewed for a second season. Better yet, given the fast ascent up the comedy ranks of the show’s masterminds, Danny McBride, Jody Hill, and Ben Best, one may have expected another six-episode season further down the pipeline. Instead, the next season begins filming later this year and will air in 2010. Woo. When we were on the set last year, co-director David Gordon Green revealed that a follow-up pitch was being entertained that centered on McBride’s profane bulletproof tiger Kenny Powers shipping off to South America to quasi-fulfill his baseball career. However, the idea seemed to be news to much of the cast, and given how well received the ensemble performances of Andy Daly, Katy Mixon, John Hawkes, and Steve “Ass Blood” Little,  I wouldn’t bet on it.

My review of Jody Hill’s Observe and Report is on the way. It’s a 9.5/10 and one of the most uncompromising, face-checking comedies to come around in a long time.

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