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The Congress

"The Congress" is a roll call of the orgiastic pleasures and bountiful comforts that art provides, and, a reminder of what waits for us when…

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As Above, So Below

It's that rare found-footage film with a strong premise, a memorably eccentric style, and plenty of energy to burn. It's also poorly conceived, and hard…

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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* This filmography is not intended to be a comprehensive list of this artist’s work. Instead it reflects the films this person has been involved with that have been reviewed on this site.

#155 February 13, 2013

Marie writes: If I have a favorite festival, it's SXSW and which is actually a convergence of film, music and emerging technologies. However it's the festival's penchant for screening "quirky" Indie movies which really sets my heart pounding and in anticipation of seeing the next Wes Anderson or Charlie Kaufman. So from now until March, I'll be tracking down the best with the zeal of a Jack Russell terrier!  Especially since learning that Joss Whedon's modern B/W take on Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" is set to screen at SXSW 2013 in advance of its June 21st US release date; they'll cut an official trailer soon, rubbing hands together!

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Larry Sanders: Changing television and changing lives

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August, 2012, marks the 20th anniversary of the debut of "The Larry Sanders Show," episodes of which are available on Netflix Instant, Amazon Instant, iTunes, and DVD. This is the third and final part of Edward Copeland's extensive tribute to the show, including interviews with many of those involved in creating one of the best-loved comedies in television history. Part 1 (Ten Best Episodes) is here and Part 2 (The show behind the show) is here.

A related article about Bob Odenkirk and his characters, Stevie Grant and Saul Goodman (on "Breaking Bad"), is here.

by Edward Copeland

"It was an amazing experience," said Jeffrey Tambor. "I come from the theater and it was very, very much approached like theater. It was rehearsed and Garry took a long, long time in casting and putting that particular unit together." In a phone interview, Tambor talked about how Garry Shandling and his behind-the-scenes team selected the performers to play the characters, regulars and guest stars, on "The Larry Sanders Show" when it debuted 20 years ago. Shandling chose well throughout the series' run and -- from the veteran to the novice, the theater-trained acting teacher and character actor to the comedy troupe star in his most subtle role -- they all tend to feel the way Tambor does: "It changed my career. It changed my life."

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Tim and Eric Mediocre Movie, Great Job!

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"Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie" is available for streaming/download on iTunes, Amazon Instant, Vudu and YouTube. In theaters March 2.

"Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie" is a lot like "Tim and Eric's Awesome Show, Great Job!." They're both experimental video art posing as sketch comedy. In them you can see DNA from Ernie Kovacs, John Waters, the Kuchar brothers, Robert Downey, Sr., Tom Rubnitz, early Beck music videos, Damon Packard, Aqua Teen Hunger Force (and every other Adult Swim psychotic episode) and Harmony Korine, to name just a random few. But it's likely that actor-writer-directors Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim took inspiration from none of these freaks.

The duo's work seems to flow directly from three sources: Bad corporate promotional and instructional videos, absurd local TV programming and assaultive blockbuster films. Their collages of chopped-and-screwed sounds with spastic motion graphics and sloppy green screen don't seem much different (in effect, if not production values) from what's on cable any given Sunday. It's just that they put unattractive, demented-seeming people in front of the green screen instead of the usual telegenic emoters. They spout nonsense where platitudes and corporate messages usually go. When celebrities appear on the show, they flub and stutter like robot hologram versions of themselves. It's as if the show's editor was a spam bot.

Whether any of it is funny is almost beside the point. The creeping surrealism often takes away your ability to blink, especially, I suspect, when, like me, you have no history with the show.

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Mad Men (and Mad Women) from Twin Peaks

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The first time I remember seeing Lesli Linka Glatter's name was in a directing credit on "Twin Peaks." She directed four episodes of David Lynch's television masterpiece, 13 installments of "E.R.," eight of "The West Wing," five of "Gilmore Girls" and segments of other series, including "Freaks and Geeks," "House, M.D.," "Law and Order: SVU," "Numb3rs," "Weeds," "The Mentalist," "The Unit" and "True Blood." She's worked a lot. "The Crysanthemum and the Sword" is her sixth episode of "Mad Men" -- and the one that reminded me the most of "Twin Peaks," mostly in little visual touches.

(Although, come to think of it, she also directed the episode with the riding lawnmower accident, which could be seen as a Lynchian in-joke about "The Straight Story"...)

A few images, and then a few thoughts about other possible "Twin Peaks" connections:

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Prof. Cozzalio's take-home pop quiz is due!

The professor is about to supply his answers. Not the answers, his answers, and the prof is Dennis Cozzalio, Senior Quizmaster of Professor Kingsfield's Hair-Raising, Bar-Raising Holiday Movie Quiz at the always enlightening and delightful Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule.

It's been up since Christmas Eve, but first I was sick and then I got snowed in and then my dog ate my homework. So, I just got around to posting my answers yesterday. Get over there before the bell rings. Not that Prof. Cozzalio wouldn't let you turn yours in late, even if he fills out the questionnaire himself first.

UPDATE: The professor's answers are in!

Here are a few of my responses, which you'll find way down in the comments. I didn't read over anybody else's shoulder, though!

8) Are most movies too long?

Yes, and 20 years ago they seemed too long because they were too short. Perfect example: Sergio Leone's "Once Upon a Time in America." Anybody who had to sit through the 139-minute US release will tell you it was way, WAY longer than the 229-minute version.

9) Favorite performance by an actor portraying a real-life politician.

Phillip Baker Hall as Richard M. Nixon in Altman's "Secret Honor."

4) Favorite actor/character from "Twin Peaks."

Agent Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer). My hero. (Incidentally, there would be no "House" without this character.)

I never got tired of Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) and I loved any scene with Sarah and/or Leland Palmer (Grace Zabriskie, Ray Wise).

12) Why would you ever want or need to see a movie more than once?

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Ben Horne's "Twin Peaks" set snaps

View image The Man From Another Place (Michael J. Anderson, that is) with The Man From Spokane (David Lynch) in the Red Room. Photo by Richard Beymer.

The owls are not what they seem. And Richard Beymer has the photos to prove it, in this beautiful online gallery from the set of "Twin Peaks." The shot of Hank Worden ("Grateful to the hospitality of your rocking chair, ma'am!") with Lynch makes me very happy.

Look for marvelous/creepy shots of Ray Wise, Grace Zabriskie, Harry Goaz, Heather Graham, Carel Struycken, Frank Silva, Charlotte Stewart and Don S. Davis and more of your favorite "Twin Peaks" stars, hanging out in the Great Northern, the Double R, the Red Room, and the woods!

(tip: Movie City Indie)

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Rally 'round the Cruise, boys!

The Attitude in action. (photo: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

At first I wasn't going to write anything about last weekend's "disappointing" domestic grosses for "M:I:III" (or, as Stephen Colbert pronounces it, "Miiii"), because, well, who really cares about the box-office numbers of movies like "Miiii" (or Celebs Who Act Out)? Especially when "24" gives you trickier plotting, more believable stunts, top-flight production values, first-class actors (Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Stephen Spinella, William Devane, Ray Wise, Jean Smart...) and characters for whom you can actually feel something besides an indefinable creepy revulsion (though some have that quality, too), week after week (and in digital surround and HDTV, no less) -- making pre-packaged, pre-fab disposable summer action products like "Miiii" seem as dinosaurish and unnecessary as they truly are. (Note to self: How do I really feel?)

But then I saw this headline above a Reuters story Thursday: "Hollywood friends rally around Tom Cruise." Yes, dear readers, Tom needs some friends just now (if only, evidently, to buy batches of opening-weekend tickets to "M:I:III" at the Scientology Celebrity-Center-adjacent ArcLight Theater in Hollywood). It was too absurd to pass up.

So (he said wearily), let's recap:

His Cruiseness's public "approval ratings" (says a USA Today opinion survey) are way down there with the likes of... George W. Bush:

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