Showing posts with label Terry Zwigoff. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Terry Zwigoff. Show all posts

Monday, March 6, 2017

Amazon Pilot Season Returns March 17th

Amazon’s Spring 2017 Pilot Season Premieres on March 17, 2017 on Amazon Video

Five new pilots, The Legend of Master Legend, Budding Prospects, The New V.I.P.’s, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Oasis, will debut for all Amazon customers in the US, UK, Germany, Austria and Japan to stream and review

Shows come from prominent creators including Amy Sherman-Palladino, Micah Fitzerman-Blue, Noah Harpster, Terry Zwigoff and Steve Dildarian, and feature notable actors including Rachel Brosnahan, Tony Shalhoub, Richard Madden, Anil Kapoor, John Hawkes, Will Sasso, Ben Schwartz, Haley Joel Osment and Missi Pyle

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--(NASDAQ: AMZN)—Amazon announced its lineup for its Spring 2017 pilot season which will debut on Amazon Video on March 17, 2017 in the US, UK, Germany, Austria, and Japan. Amazon is continuing its tradition of extreme variety this pilot season, including The Legend of Master Legend, from Noah Harpster and Micah Fitzerman-Blue (Transparent), about a homemade superhero in Las Vegas juggling the demands of his duty and his family; Budding Prospects, from Terry Zwigoff (Bad Santa), a 1980s pot comedy based on the T.C. Boyle novel of the same name; The New V.I.P.’s, from Steve Dildarian (The Life & Times of Tim), Amazon’s first adult animated comedy where a group of low level employees seize control of a major corporation after accidentally murdering their boss; The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, from noted creator Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls), about a 1958 New York City woman who goes from uptown housewife to stand-up comic in Greenwich Village; and Oasis, from Matt Charman (Bridge of Spies), that follows a chaplain who is sent into space to help establish a colony on a distant planet.

    “Pilots continue to be the best way to take risks, find voices and evolve the art form of television”

All Amazon customers in the US, UK, Germany, Austria and Japan are invited to stream and review the pilots to help determine the next Amazon Original Series that are then available to Prime members. The pilots will be available via the Amazon Prime Video app for TVs, connected devices including Fire TV, and mobile devices, or online at Amazon customer feedback on pilots have assisted in making some of the most critically-acclaimed and popular series to date, including multi Golden Globe- and Emmy-winning series Transparent, multi Golden Globe-winning series Mozart in the Jungle, and the most-streamed scripted Amazon Original Series ever by Prime members globally, The Man in the High Castle.

The new pilots feature prominent actors including Rachel Brosnahan (House of Cards) and Tony Shalhoub (Monk) in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel; Richard Madden (Game of Thrones), Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense, Alpha House) and Anil Kapoor (Slumdog Millionaire, 24) in Oasis; John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone), Dawnn Lewis (Major Crimes) and Shea Whigham (Boardwalk Empire) in The Legend of Master Legend; Joel David Moore (Bones), Will Sasso (MADtv) and Brett Gelman (Fleabag) in Budding Prospects; Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation), Matt Braunger (Agent Carter), Missi Pyle (Gone Girl) and Jonathan Adams (Last Man Standing) in The New V.I.P.’s.

“Pilots continue to be the best way to take risks, find voices and evolve the art form of television,” said Joe Lewis, Head of Comedy, Drama & VR, Amazon Studios. “We’re excited about these new worlds, characters and filmmakers. We’re looking forward to another Amazon Pilot Season and more great customer feedback.”

Amazon’s half-hour pilots include:

The Legend of Master Legend

The Legend of Master Legend is a dark comedy about the life of Frank Lafount, aka Master Legend -- a homemade superhero whose mission is to protect the people of Las Vegas from evil doers. Master Legend juggles the demands of justice with the even more complicated demands of his real family, who don’t see him as a hero at all. The Legend of Master Legend is executive produced by Youree Henley (20th Century Women), Joshuah Bearman (Argo) and David Klawans (Argo), along with executive producers and writers Micah Fitzerman-Blue (Transparent) and Noah Harpster (Transparent). The pilot is directed by James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now) and stars John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone), Dawnn Lewis (Major Crimes), Shea Whigham (Boardwalk Empire) and newcomer Anjelika Washington.

Budding Prospects

In 1983, three hapless city boys move from their comfort zone of the San Francisco counter-culture to Mendacino to grow marijuana. Their expectations of the experience being a back-to-the-land, nurturing adventure in a beautiful rustic setting run up against the harsh truth prior to their arrival at "The Summer Camp" – a miserably run-down shanty out in the middle of nowhere, where they are bedeviled by rats, snakes, mosquitoes, and harsh, unfriendly growing conditions, noisy neighbors, dangerous locals, and menacing law enforcement. Budding Prospects is directed and executive produced by Terry Zwigoff (Bad Santa), executive produced by Vincent Landay (Her) and co-written by Melissa Axelrod. The pilot stars Adam Rose (Veronica Mars), Joel David Moore (Bones), Will Sasso (MADtv) and Brett Gelman (Fleabag).

The New V.I.P.’s

Amazon’s first adult animated comedy show, The New V.I.P.’s follows a group of low level employees who seize control of a major corporation after accidently murdering their boss. The show was created by Steve Dildarian (The Life & Times of Tim), Titmouse served as the production company (Ben Kalina and Dave Newberg), along with producer Peter Principato (Central Intelligence) from Principato Young. The pilot stars Matt Braunger (Agent Carter), Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation), Missi Pyle (Gone Girl) and Jonathan Adams (Last Man Standing).

Amazon’s one-hour pilots include:

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is written and directed by Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls) and executive produced by Daniel Palladino (Family Guy) and Sherman-Palladino. It’s 1958 Manhattan and Miriam “Midge” Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan, House of Cards) has everything she’s ever wanted—the perfect husband, two kids, and an elegant Upper West Side apartment perfect for hosting Yom Kippur dinner. But her perfect life suddenly takes an unexpected turn and Midge discovers a previously unknown talent—one that changes her life forever. She charts a course that takes her from her comfortable life on Riverside Drive, through the basket houses and nightclubs of Greenwich Village as she storms the world of stand-up comedy…a course that will ultimately lead her to a spot on Johnny Carson’s couch. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel also stars Michael Zegen (Boardwalk Empire) as Midge’s husband Joel Maisel, Alex Borstein (Family Guy) as Susie Myerson, Golden Globe winner and three-time Emmy Winner Tony Shalhoub (Monk) as Midge’s father Abe Weinberg, and Marin Hinkle (Two and a Half Men) as Midge’s mother Rose Weinberg.


Based on the cult-hit novel The Book of Strange New Things from Michel Faber, Oasis follows a chaplain (Richard Madden, Game of Thrones) who is sent into space to help establish a colony on a distant planet. What he ends up discovering not only puts his faith to the test, but life as we know it. The pilot also stars world-renowned Indian actor and producer Anil Kapoor (Slumdog Millionaire, 24) as Vikram Danesh, the head of the base on Oasis, Michael Shaw (Limitless) as B.G., Antje Traue (Man of Steel) as Grainger, Mark Addy (Game of Thrones) as Halloran, Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense, Alpha House) as Sy, Maureen Sebastian (American Gothic) as Alicia Ruiz, Michael Shaffer (Coach Sinclair) as Phelps, and Zawe Ashton (Nocturnal Animals) as Severin. Oasis is written by Matt Charman (Bridge of Spies), executive produced by Charman, Andy Harries (The Crown) and Lila Rawlings (Left Bank Productions), produced by Rob Bullock (The Night Manager), with Kevin MacDonald (The Last King of Scotland) directing. The one-hour drama pilot is a co-production of Amazon Studios and Left Bank Productions.

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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Review: "Art School Confidential" Has an Artful Cast (Happy B'day, John Malkovich)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 216 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

Art School Confidential (2006)
Running time: 102 minutes (1 hour, 42 minutes)
MPAA – R for language including sexual references, nudity, and a scene of violence
DIRECTOR: Terry Zwigoff
WRITER: Daniel Clowes (based on the comic by Daniel Clowes)
PRODUCERS: Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, and Russell Smith
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jamie Anderson, A.S.C. (director of photography)
EDITOR: Robert Hoffman
COMPOSER: David Kitay

COMEDY/DRAMA with elements of romance

Starring: Max Minghella, Sophia Myles, John Malkovich, Jim Broadbent, Matt Keeslar, Ethan Suplee, Joel David Moore, Nick Swardson, Anjelica Huston, Adam Scott, Jack Ong, Michael Lerner, and Ezra Buzzington

The subject of this movie review is Art School Confidential, a 2006 comedy-drama from director Terry Zwigoff. The film is based on a four-page comic book short story written and drawn by Daniel Clowes and published in Clowes’ comic book series, Eightball #7 (Fantagraphics Books). Clowes wrote the screenplay for Art School Confidential, the second film collaboration between him and Zwigoff. Zwigoff directed and Clowes wrote the screenplay for Ghost World, a film based on a Clowes graphic novel.

In Art School Confidential, an ambitious art school student tries desperately to get the girl of his dreams, but she’s attracted to a dumb jock type whose simplistic pop art paintings have taken the art class by storm. This the second film from the team of Terry Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes that gave us the Oscar-nominated, Ghost World. Clowes is a comic book artist, and Art School Confidential, like Ghost World, is adapted from his comics.

Jerome Platz (Max Minghella) wants to be the greatest artist of the 21st Century, and to that end he escapes his suburban home and terrible high school to a tiny East Coast art school, the Strathmore Institute. However, the beauty and craft of his portraiture does not win him any friends among his fellow students in the anything-goes art class. He finds this new world filled with a collection of offbeat characters: his worldly, but obnoxious classmate, Bardo (Joel David Moore); a roommate exploding with the desire to make a cinematic masterpiece of blood and violence, Vince (Ethan Suplee); his self-involved art teacher, Professor Sandiford (John Malkovich); and a failed artist and Strathmore grad who is drowning in alcohol and self-pity, Jimmy (Jim Broadbent).

Jerome does find his eye drawn to the girl of his dreams, Audrey Baumgarten (Sophia Myles), an artist’s model (who models nude for Jerome’s class) and daughter of an acclaimed artist. Audrey is initially attracted to Jerome, whose attitude is refreshing and not like the affectations of the local art crowd. However, a fellow art student and jock-type named Jonah (Matt Keeslar) becomes the toast of the art school with his pop art paintings. When Audrey turns her attentions to Jonah, Jerome concocts various plans to win back her affections, which all fail, but his next one will put Jerome’s future at stake, as well as the lives of those in and around Strathmore.

While Art School Confidential comes across as a satire of art schools, the faculty, and students, it is also a love story and youth relationship drama. It works well as all three. As a work of satire, Clowes’ script is matter-of-fact about art school politics. All his characters exist more in their own worlds than they do in the larger world in which they also co-exist, whether or not they believe they do. It seems as if they tolerate people and desire others attentions mostly so others should validate their art, agendas, and careers.

As for the romance and drama: Max Minghella certainly makes Jerome Platz a likeable underdog for whom we root. He may a bit aloof and may be na├»ve in terms of his expectations, but he’s honest and his ignorance and rudeness are endearing. We want him to get the girl, and we love the girl, too. Sophia Myles plays Audrey, the object of desire, quite well – mainly because she’s an “It” girl with that kind of classic look that works so well in film.

Still, the question that’s on everyone’s mind, “Is Art School Confidential funny?” I thought it uproariously funny, although it goes dry at the beginning of the last act. Clowes views humanity with a sanguine eye, even when his work seems cynical. His comics are matter-of-fact about humanity – warts and all. He may privately pass judgment, but in his comics, he lets the reader make up his own mind. His movie writing is like that, and Zwigoff is adept at picking up both the subtle nuances and broad strokes of his screenwriting collaborators. That allows Zwigoff to spend his time letting his talented cast have fun with the script and story. The result is fun, even exceptionally good flicks like Art School Confidential.

8 of 10

Friday, October 20, 2006

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Review: Naughty "Bad Santa" is Quite Nice (Happy B'day, Billy Bob Thornton)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 170 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux

Bad Santa (2003)
Running time: 91 minutes (1 hour, 31 minutes)
MPAA – R for pervasive language, strong sexual content and some violence
DIRECTOR: Terry Zwigoff
WRITERS: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, with contributions from Joel Coen, Ethan Cohen, Arnie Marx, and Terry Zwigoff
PRODUCERS: Sarah Aubrey, John Cameron, and Bob Weinstein
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jamie Anderson (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Robert Hoffman
COMPOSER: David Kitay

COMEDY/CRIME with elements of drama

Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Brett Kelly, Lauren Graham, Lauren Tom, Bernie Mac, John Ritter, Ajay Naidu, Octavia Spencer, and Ethan Phillips

The subject of this movie review is Bad Santa, a 2003 crime comedy and Christmas movie from director Terry Zwigoff. Although Glenn Ficarra and John Requa are credited as the film’s only writers, Joel Coen, Ethan Cohen, Arnie Marx, and Terry Zwigoff performed various rewrites of the script, with the Coen Bros. also credited as executive producers on the film. Bad Santa was the late actor John Ritter’s last film appearance.

Some bovine in the media have already asked, “Is nothing sacred?” in response to director Terry Zwigoff’s (Ghost World) new Christmas movie, Bad Santa. They can get over it. Bad Santa is the Christmas movie for the rest of us – those who don’t buy all the must-be-happy hype, over consumption, and phony religious tradition. Besides, it’s so damn funny.

Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) is a department store Santa. He’s also a lecherous, nympho-manical alcoholic. For the past several holiday seasons, Willie and his dwarf partner, Marcus (Tony Cox), play Santa and elf in department stores. They case the businesses and eventually rob the store safes of tens of thousands of dollars. They move to Arizona for their next big heist, but they run into a few problems. One is fastidious store manager (John Ritter in his final film role). Another is a sly store dick (Bernie Mac) who discovers their scam and wants in on the action. The biggest stumbling block is when a lonely, strange boy (Brett Kelly) whom Willie calls The Kid, latches onto Willie for friendship.

The movie has a few rough and dry spots, but otherwise it’s hilarious. Bad Santa is dark, foul, and vulgar, but it’s not cynical. Many of the characters are just not the kind usually found in holiday fare. These are people who live on the periphery of society, lonely people, and criminals. Willie is depressed and suicidal. The Kid may not be mentally handicapped, but he’s a bit of a retard – euphemistically speaking. As dark as it is, however, Bad Santa is quite hilarious in the way it deals with frank sexual matter, people who are frankly sexual, and conniving criminals who’ll do whatever it takes to get what they want. Maybe the most frightening thing for many people is how much profane language is directed at children in the film. Willie consistently curses at The Kid, and as Santa, at children who come to the store to sit on his foul lap.

But Thornton is a fine actor with grand talent. His Willie is a living, breathing, and believable person whose life is falling apart. He and Zwigoff handle Willie’s transformation with subtleness and a kind of brazenness that surprises the viewer at each turn. In fact, Zwigoff masterfully directs the film, knowing, except for some poor moments, just when to hit the viewer on the head with blunt coarseness and when to gently splash the mire in our faces. Zwigoff pulls off the trick of making this film roughly anti-sentimental and sentimentally rough. In a way, Zwigoff does manage to make the typical Christmas movie, and it’s good that he does it the way he does.

I heartily recommend Bad Santa to anyone who can take it. This film also has one of the better Bernie Mac performances. This is the moment he proves that he is a comedian and an actor, and it’s in performances like this that he can find the road to being both a good comic and dramatic actor. Good Bernie Mac is always reason to see something.

7 of 10

2004 Golden Globes, USA: 1 nomination: “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical” (Billy Bob Thornton)


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Review: "Ghost World" is Very Different and Very Good (Happy B'day, Scarlett Johansson)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 14 (of 2002) by Leroy Douresseaux

Ghost World (2001)
Running time: 111 minutes (1 hour, 51 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong language and some sexual content
DIRECTOR: Terry Zwigoff
WRITERS: Terry Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes (based upon the graphic novel by Daniel Clowes)
PRODUCERS: Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, and Russell Smith
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Affonso Beato (D.o.P.)
EDITORS: Carole Kravetz-Aykanian and Michael R. Miller
Academy Award nominee


Starring: Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, Steve Buscemi, Brad Renfro, Illeana Douglas, Bob Balaban, and Stacey Travis

After graduating from high school, two friends watch as their relationship and plans change over the course of the following summer. Enid (Thora Birch, American Beauty) is disdainful of current pop culture and of conformity. Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) usually follows her friend’s lead, but she isn’t quite as critical of all things popular.

As the movie begins, both girls are aimless. They enjoy following people and spying on them and enjoying a laugh at the expense of others. However, Rebecca begins to gather herself, anxious to get on with her life. The girls had made plans to get an apartment together, and Rebecca soon has a job to pay for her adult expenses. Enid, on the other hands, lives day to day, aimless and chasing one infatuation after another.

She becomes attracted to the victim of one of her snide jokes, Seymour (Steve Buscemi), a collector of obscure jazz and blues vinyl records. As her interest in Seymour’s live becomes deeper, Enid drifts from Rebecca. Rebecca, in turn, grows closer to her and Enid’s friend Josh (Brad Renfro), a convenience store clerk. When Seymour begins to date another woman and Enid’s Dad (Bob Balaban) invites his girlfriend to move in with him, Enid’s life begins to fall apart.

Directed by Terry Zwigoff, who directed the documentary on underground cartoonist and legend Robert Crumb, Crumb, Ghost World is a teen comedy for really, smart and intelligent people. Sans corny jokes, gross humor, and juvenile depictions of sex, Zwigoff relies on the acting talent of his cast, an excellent script, simple, evocative photography, and a unique soundtrack to tell his film story.

The script, co-written by Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes, is the tent pole that supports this film. The movie is based upon Clowes’s graphic novel, Ghost World, which was serialized in issues of Eightball, Clowes long-running comic book series published by Fantagraphics Books. Fantagraphics eventually published a very popular hardcover and soft cover editions of the collected story. Clowes expanded his original story and added elements from his other comic book stories for the screenplay.

The screenplay trusts the ability of the characters to portray their own dramas. Enid is a complex character. Although sympathetic and likeable, she is maddeningly stubborn. An iconoclast, she is determined to go her own way and have her own way. When she meets obstacles of which she cannot move, she stands her ground even at the cost of great mental duress to herself. Her intelligence and originality add some unexplainable quality to her physical appearance and makes her physically attractive. You can’t help but root for her. You wish the best for her, and you’re angry when she spites herself just to maintain one of her eclectic standards.

Seymour is painfully real. Unable to connect with people, he readily connects with objects and things, especially things from a bygone era – the good old days. He seemingly cannot help but love a golden age despite there being more rust than gild on the precious metal of his olden days. He and Enid develop a relationship that seems peculiar on the surface, but is in fact quite simple; they can meet each other half way even when at odds. In the end, it is outside interests that dictate the evolution of their friendship.

Ms. Birch’s performance as Enid is a revelation, while the overrated American Beauty only hinted at her talent. She totally buys into Zwigoff and Clowes’s script, wholly and completely creating Enid. Ms. Birch engages us; we get so into her character that we cannot help but love and care for Enid, when we might become bored with her eccentricities. Only the best performances demand that much attention and sympathy.

Ms. Johansson’s Rebecca is also quite good. In Enid’s shadow, she slowly emerges as her own woman, different and free of Enid’s belief system. Rebecca is the audience gone cold on Enid’s quirks, but still loving her; she mirrors our occasional impatience with Enid. Like Ms. Birch’s performance, Ms. Johansson’s performance has surprising depth from one so young, but she had good writing from which to work.

Seymour is one of Buscemi’s most human characters to date; as usual, his performance reveals how deep he understands the goals of the storytellers. Brad Renfro isn’t left behind. His Josh seethes boredom with existence. One look at him and you know that he wants to tell the world where to get off. He regards most anything and most anyone with a smoldering annoyance worthy of a classic screen rebel.

Ghost World can occasionally seem cold. The scriptwriters hope that we are patient during the dry moments as the story unfolds. The movie doesn’t only develop; it slow opens itself to us. We are simultaneously annoyed, angered, bored, confused, hopeful, joyous, and sad.

Confusing? No. Quite engaging, very thoughtful, some damn fine performances, and some really good character writing. Ghost World is a different and very good movie.

7 of 10

2002 Academy Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published” (Daniel Clowes and Terry Zwigoff)

2002 Golden Globes: 2 nominations: “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Steve Buscemi), and “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy” (Thora Birch)


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