Category: Romantic Comedies
Taglines: A new funny film about love. With a bit of time travel.
The night after another unsatisfactory New Year party, Tim’s father (Bill Nighy) tells his son that the men in his family have always had the ability to travel through time. Tim can’t change history, but he can change what happens and has happened in his own life—so he decides to make his world a better place… by getting a girlfriend. Sadly, that turns out not to be as easy as you might think.
Moving from the Cornwall coast to London to train as a lawyer, Tim finally meets the beautiful but insecure Mary (Rachel McAdams). They fall in love, then an unfortunate time-travel incident means he’s never met her at all. So they meet for the first time again—and again—but finally, after a lot of cunning time-traveling, he wins her heart.
Tim then uses his power to create the perfect romantic proposal, to save his wedding from the worst best-man speeches, to save his best friend from professional disaster and to get his pregnant wife to the hospital in time for the birth of their daughter, despite a nasty traffic jam outside Abbey Road.
But as his unusual life progresses, Tim finds out that his unique gift can’t save him from the sorrows and ups and downs that affect all families, everywhere. There are great limits to what time travel can achieve, and it can be dangerous too. About Time is a comedy about love and time travel, which discovers that, in the end, making the most of life may not need time travel at all.
Love, Family and Time Travel
The genesis for About Time ignited from a conversation that Curtis had with a friend about what they would do if they were told that they had only 24 hours left to live. “We both decided that we’d want a very normal day at home with the family, doing the things you normally do,” recalls Curtis. “I thought it was an interesting observation, and the next step was how I would be able to incorporate this into a movie. It would have to be about someone who could manipulate their final day or manipulate their life in some way to enable them to come to that conclusion. That’s when I thought about time travel.”
Curtis says that About Time is an evolution for him, as his early work very much focuses upon the relationships among friends. He shares: “Four Weddings is, in many ways, as much a film about friendship as it is about love. There were a lot of friendships in Love Actually as well.” Naturally, Curtis’ interest in human dynamics evolved as he grew older. “With my mum and dad passing away within the last five years, and with my children all growing up, I am a family man most of all. This film has as much to do with a brother and sister, a father and mother as it has to do with love. And, of course, when two people fall in love, they are finally going to turn into a mother and a father, and you see that happening during the course of the film.”
The comedy reunites Curtis with Working Title producers Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, for the eleventh time in 25 years. Remembers Bevan: “We did our first film together in 1983 called The Tall Guy. All of Richard’s films have a lot of familiarities, but are always breaking new ground. The authenticity of a Richard film is that it will make you laugh, cry and think. About Time returns to the ‘Curtisian’ world in the same vein as Love Actually, Notting Hill and Four Weddings and a Funeral, but this feels more grown-up and more reflective. He set out to make a movie to reflect on the good and bad things in life and to make you appreciate what’s in front of you.”
Although Fellner finds it difficult to believe that they’ve spent a quarter of a century creating work together, he’s similarly impressed by his longtime friend’s evolution as a filmmaker. He notes: “Richard never settles for good. He pushes himself as an artist to best his previous work, and audiences respect that drive. His stories are so deeply personal, so intimate that it’s impossible not to be drawn into them. I appreciate that he finds humor in the pathos of our everyday experiences and makes the humdrum extraordinary.”
While love and family were integral in the creation of Curtis’ vision, the time-travel aspect would make scripting a very calculated endeavour. Curtis was careful to make sure rules were in place for Tim and his Dad as they travel through time, so as to make the film’s concept less fantasy and more endearing. So, what exactly are those rules? The first is that time travel may not happen before a man in this family is 21. The second is that one must go into a small dark place—such as a cupboard, closet or wardrobe—clench his fists and think of the specific time, date, place and address of where he wants to go. The third is that he can only go to an event in his own past that he can remember; he can’t go into the future or way back into history. The fourth? Every decision he makes will have ramifications on his future.
Producer Nicky Kentish Barnes adds that she admired the unorthodox narrative put forth by the film’s writer/director. She says: “About Time is very autobiographical, in a sense; it’s bits of Richard’s life all put together in a beautiful and well-crafted story. The story is very emotional; we had grown men crying on reading the script. It is a slight, sort-of-magic realism with the time-travel aspect, but it adds to the emotional content, rather than feeling that it’s taking you out of the story.”
With the shooting script locked, Curtis and his producers set about the exciting task of finding a young couple who could give voice to his words, along with a set of family and friends to populate this unique world.
Feeling Loved Up: Casting About Time
From the start, the producers and casting director FIONA WEIR knew performer Domhnall Gleeson would be ideal for the role of the time-traveling Tim Lake. However, he did quite shock them upon introduction.
In the midst of filming Anna Karenina, Gleeson arrived at a meeting with Curtis, sporting a head of long hair and bushy beard. Laughs Curtis of the meeting: “At first, Domhnall was very difficult to cast. He turned up with this enormous orange beard, and he looked like a 35-year-old Russian autocrat. It was hard for me to imagine what he actually even looked like, but in the end it was an easy decision. He has a lot of the qualities I most love in an actor and actually has them as a human being. He has doubt, high spirits and optimism, and he is very funny.”
His rugged exterior aside, producers were keen on the Irish actor joining the production as their lead. Compliments Bevan: “Domhnall is a brilliant young actor and has the ability to be extremely dramatic and very funny, which is a very unusual combination.” The producer didn’t mind that his lead, heretofore best known for his pivotal role in the Harry Potter series, was an unorthodox choice. Bevan continues, “It’s refreshing to see a new face playing a lead in a Richard Curtis film—a different face and not a posh boy—he gives the film a whole different feel.”
The minute About Time begins, audiences see Tim as a normal guy. He’s a slightly confused, but very likeable hero, who is going through his life with the same level of confidence the majority of ordinary people can muster. “You love Tim’s character from the beginning,” reflects Kentish Barnes. “You want him to succeed when he meets the love of his life.”
When Gleeson first read the script, he laughed aloud, which he took as quite the promising sign. Reflects the performer: “It was sweet relief reading the script. It had so much to say about a way of living your life that I found valuable and beautiful. That was Richard’s introduction to the film for me, and that was what I tried to keep close to my heart while we filmed.”
With Gleeson on board the production, filmmakers moved forward in casting the role of Mary, the young American woman with whom Tim falls in love, marries and starts a family. Because of Rachel McAdams’ busy schedule, the filmmakers weren’t certain she would be able to join the production. Little did they know, however, that she adored the script.
Curtis was thrilled that an actress of McAdams’ caliber had signed onto the film. He muses: “Rachel is someone, who every time I’ve seen her in a film, I have melted with this sense of comfort and love. We were certainly lucky to get her.”
Bevan agrees that McAdams was absolutely perfect for the role, commending: “Rachel has that great girl-next-door quality. She has the beauty, the humor and the wit, but she also has the ability as an actress to make whomever she is playing against look equally as great.”
McAdams recalls what drew her to the part: “I enjoyed the script immensely and loved what it was about. It was quite moving with a very simple, but so meaningful moral of the story, and I loved all the characters. I knew that signing onto a Richard Curtis film was just a good package deal; he does these things so well. He is very generous with his spirit and brings so much of himself to the project.”
The performer appreciated that the expatriate was as complex as her on-screen love, sharing, “Mary’s got this funny mix of confidence and total insecurity. But then she meets Tim, and she just blossoms. He ushers her in the direction she was meant to go in, and the puzzle pieces fit, finally.”
For the seasoned young performer, working with Gleeson was a surprising joy. She enthuses: “It’s been wonderful to watch Domhnall transform from the younger Tim to the older Tim. He has this endless energy for physical comedy, and his comedic timing is impeccable. He always seems to find humor. Domhnall is so grounded, so rooted in the character, and he makes everything matter.”
Her leading man, Gleeson, returns the kind words: “Rachel brings this gorgeous honesty to her character. She’s very funny, and she brings something that is pure and uncomplicated in the best possible sense. It was joyous being on set with her all the time.”
In casting the role of Tim’s Dad, filmmakers turned to a veteran of Curtis’ films: much-feted performer Bill Nighy, first introduced in a Curtis role as a washed-up rocker in Love Actually. “Tim’s Dad is a strange synthesis of a lot of people I’ve met,” explains Curtis. “There’s a lot of my feeling about my father in the role, and it was a fun idea to have Bill play the part. To cast a friend you actually love in that part was a great pleasure.”
Directed by: Richard Curtis
Starring: Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, Margot Robbie, Domhnall Gleeson, Lydia Wilson, Vanessa Kirby
Screenplay by: Richard Curtis
Production Design by: John Paul Kelly
Cinematography by: John Guleserian
Film Editing by: Mark Day
Costume Design by: Verity Hawkes
Set Decoration by: Liz Griffiths
Music by: Nick Laird-Clowes
MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexual content.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Release Date: November 8, 2013
Taglines: He’ll be everything she likes but himself.
A young writer (Justin Long) woos a cute and quirky barista (Evan Rachel Wood) by creating an embellished online profile. When she falls for his alter ego, he must keep up the act or lose his dream girl. Directed by TFF alumna Kat Coiro and featuring a cast of hilarious cameo performers including Peter Dinklage, Sam Rockwell, Vince Vaughn and Sienna Miller, A Case of You is a winning romantic comedy for the social media age.
A Case of You is an American romantic comedy film that was featured at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. The film was directed by Kat Coiro and produced by Justin Long, who wrote the script with his brother Christian and Keir O’Donnell, who also stars in the film.
About the Story
Sam, a young New York City author, is dissatisfied with his life. Although his novelization of the blockbuster film Teen Vampire is popular he does not want to write the other novelizations his agent Alan urges; Sam suffers from writer’s block with his own work, however. He is infatuated with Birdie, a street artist and barista at the local coffee shop, but does not know how to meet her.
After his roommate Eliot suggests checking Birdie’s Facebook profile, Sam decides to pretend that he shares the interests she lists on her profile. He begin to learn how to play the guitar and cook French cuisine, and buys books by Walt Whitman and songs by Joan Baez. After pretending to accidentally meet at a comedy club Birdie mentioned online the two become friends and partners at a ballroom-dance class, and Sam begins to write a novel based on their relationship.
To spend more time with her Sam pretends to share Birdie’s other interests, including pedicures and bourbon. They begin to fall in love, and Birdie accompanies Sam, Eliot, and Eliot’s girlfriend Ashley to a spiritual retreat where they sleep together for the first time. Although Sam enjoys spending time with Birdie he finds participating in her many interests to be difficult, and is intimidated by her skill in such areas as caricature, singing, and rock climbing.
After Birdie tells Sam that she loves him and mentions her parents’ plan to attend their impending dance recital, an insecure Sam discourages her interest in him. At a pitch meeting Alan and another agent praise Sam’s novel as a superb portrayal of a pathetic “eunuch” who, after foolishly breaking up with his girlfriend, is doomed to remain alone. Realizing that he has made a mistake, Sam rushes to the recital where Birdie is about to perform with another partner. He states his love for her and confesses to using her Facebook profile to adjust his public persona. She tells him that she knew all the time, even adding items to see whether he would respond. They begin to dance together.
A Case of You
Directed by: Kat Coiro
Starring: Justin Long, Evan Rachel Wood, Peter Dinklage, Sam Rockwell, Vince Vaughn, Sienna Miller
Screenplay by: Justin Long, Keir O’Donnel, Christian Long
Production Design by: Rick Butler
Cinematography by: Doug Chamberlain
Film Editing by: Adam Catino, Matt Landon
Costume Design by; Lynn Falconer
Set Decoration by: Nicole Duryea
Music by: Mateo Messina
MPAA Rating: R for language, some sexual references and drug use.
Studio: IFC Films
Release Date: November 6, 2013
Taglines: Stop dreaming. Start living.
An office worker who lives inside fantasy worlds where he gets to live an adventurous life while romancing his co-worker sets off on a global journey to fix things when both of their jobs are threatened.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is an epic fantasy comedy-drama film directed by and starring Ben Stiller. The film is the second adaptation of James Thurber’s 1939 short story of the same name, following the 1947 film.
About the Story
Walter Mitty is a negative assets manager at Life magazine who daydreams of adventures and has a crush on a coworker named Cheryl. Mitty works with photojournalist Sean O’Connell, whose images are highly regarded. O’Connell has sent Mitty his latest negatives and a wallet as a gift in appreciation of Mitty’s work. O’Connell believes negative #25 captures the “quintessence” of Life and that it should be used for the cover of the magazine’s final print issue as it converts to online status.
The negative is missing, however, and Walter is forced to stall for time with corporate transition manager Ted Hendricks, who is handling the downsizing. While viewing the other negatives outside Life’s offices, Cheryl approaches Mitty and suggests that he think of the negatives as clues to Sean’s location. They look at three of them, including one of a person’s thumb with a unique ring on it, and another of a curved piece of wood. A third picture of a boat leads Mitty to determine that O’Connell is in Greenland. Mitty promptly flies there to find him.
A bartender in Greenland explains that O’Connell left on a ship. To find him, Mitty would need to go on the postal helicopter, and the pilot is drunk. Mitty recognizes the pilot’s thumb with the unique ring and realizes he is on the right track. He at first declines to fly with the intoxicated pilot, but imagines Cheryl singing “Space Oddity”, gains a new confidence and boards the helicopter. Nearing the ship, Mitty learns the helicopter cannot land upon it. Misunderstanding the pilot, instead of jumping into a dinghy boat nearing to catch him, Mitty aims for the main vessel and misses. He splashes down into ice-cold, shark-infested waters, losing a box of ship-to-shore radio components before being brought aboard.
Mitty learns that O’Connell departed the ship earlier. The crew offers him some cake O’Connell left behind; Mitty discovers O’Connell’s destinations in the wrapping paper. The itinerary directs Mitty to Iceland, where O’Connell is photographing the volcano Eyjafjallajökull. An eruption forces Mitty to flee, and as there is nothing left for him to do he obeys a text message recalling him to New York.
For failing to recover the negative, his first failure in a long career with the magazine, Mitty is fired. He learns that Cheryl, who was let go earlier, seems to have reconciled with her estranged husband. Mitty returns home discouraged, throwing away the wallet when he visits his mother. To his surprise, Mitty recognizes the curve of the piano in his mother’s house while looking at the last photograph. When asked, Mitty’s mom mentions having met O’Connell. She had told Mitty before but he was daydreaming and failed to hear her.
Mitty discovers O’Connell is in the Himalayas, and finds him photographing a rare snow leopard. When asked about the negative, O’Connell explains that the message on the gift wrapping to “look inside” was literal; the negative was in the wallet. When pressed to reveal the image on the negative, O’Connell dismisses the question and joins in a high-altitude soccer game with some locals. Mitty flies to Los Angeles but is detained by airport security during a misunderstanding. Mitty calls the only person he knows in Los Angeles: Todd Maher, a representative at eHarmony who has kept in contact during Mitty’s adventures.
While helping his mother sell her piano, Mitty recounts his story but mentions he does not have the wallet anymore. His mother says she always keeps his knickknacks and gives him the wallet that she retrieved from the trash. An emboldened Mitty delivers the negative to Life magazine, tells management that it was the photograph O’Connell wanted for the final issue, and berates Hendricks for disrespecting the staff that made the magazine so honored.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Directed by: Ben Stiller
Starring: Ben Stiller, Sean Penn, Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott, Shirley MacLaine, Barbara Vincent
Screenplay by: Steve Conrad
Production Design by: Jeff Mann
Cinematography by: Stuart Dryburgh
Film Editing by: Greg Hayden
Costume Design by: Sarah Edwards
Set Decoration by: Regina Graves
Music by: Theodore Shapiro
MPAA Rating: PG for some crude comments, language and action violence.
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: December 25, 2013
Taglines: You’re never quite ready for what life delivers.
From DreamWorks Pictures comes “Delivery Man”, the story of affable underachiever David Wozniak, whose mundane life is turned upside down when he finds out that he fathered 533 children through sperm donations he made twenty years earlier. In debt to the mob, rejected by his pregnant girlfriend, things couldn’t look worse for David when he is hit with a lawsuit from 142 of the 533 twenty-somethings who want to know the identity of the donor. As David struggles to decide whether or not he should reveal his true identity, he embarks on a journey that leads him to discover not only his true self but the father he could become as well.
Delivery Man is an American comedy-drama film directed by Ken Scott, produced by DreamWorks Pictures, and starring Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt, and Cobie Smulders. The film was released by Touchstone Pictures on November 22, 2013. It is a remake of Scott’s 2011 French-Canadian film, Starbuck.
About the Story
David Wozniak is a hapless deliveryman for his family’s butcher shop, pursued by thugs to whom he owes $80,000. His girlfriend Emma is pregnant with his child. One day, David returns from work to find a lawyer representing a sperm bank (where he gave 693 donations and earned a sum of $24,255 during his student years) who tells him he had fathered 533 children. Of those, 142 have joined a class action lawsuit to force the fertility clinic to reveal the identity of “Starbuck”, the alias he had used.
David’s friend and lawyer Brett represents him as he tries to keep the records sealed. He provides David with profiles of each party to the lawsuit: David stalks them, finding moments for random acts of kindness. David considers identifying himself, but after the thugs assault his father, he agrees with his lawyer to counter-sue the sperm bank for punitive damages. He wins the lawsuit: he receives $200,000 and keeps his identity a secret.
David has regrets and thinks about revealing his identity. However, if he chooses to do so, he would lose the $200,000 that was won in the countersuit. He reveals to his father that he is Starbuck. His father decides to pay off David’s debt. David finally reveals his identity on Facebook. He goes to Emma’s house and finds that she is going into premature labor. At the hospital, his baby is born, he proposes to Emma, and many of the children show up to see him.
Directed by: Ken Scott
Starring: Cobie Smulders, Chris Pratt, Vince Vaugh, Britt Robertson, Jack Reynor, Erin Gerasimovich, Camille Kitt
Screenplay by: Ken Scott
Production Design by: Ida Random
Cinematography by: Eric Alan Edwards
Film Editing by: Priscilla Nedd-Friendly
Costume Design by: Melissa Toth
Set Decoration by: Sara Parks
Music by: Jon Brion
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual content, some drug material, brief violence and language.
Studio: DreamWorks Pictures
Release Date: November 22, 2013
Theodore is a lonely man in the final stages of his divorce. When he’s not working as a letter writer, his down time is spent playing video games and occasionally hanging out with friends. He decides to purchase the new OS1, which is advertised as the world’s first artificially intelligent operating system, “It’s not just an operating system, it’s a consciousness,” the ad states.
Theodore quickly finds himself drawn in with Samantha, the voice behind his OS1. As they start spending time together they grow closer and closer and eventually find themselves in love. Having fallen in love with his OS, Theodore finds himself dealing with feelings of both great joy and doubt. As an OS, Samantha has powerful intelligence that she uses to help Theodore in ways others hadn’t, but how does she help him deal with his inner conflict of being in love with an OS?
Set in Los Angeles, slightly in the future, the movie follows Theodore Twombly, a complex, soulful man who makes his living writing touching, personal letters for other people. Heartbroken after the end of a long relationship, he becomes intrigued with a new, advanced operating system, which promises to be an intuitive entity in its own right, individual to each user. Upon initiating it, he is delighted to meet “Samantha” (Scarlett Johansson), a bright, female voice, who is insightful, sensitive and surprisingly funny. As her needs and desires grow, in tandem with his own, their friendship deepens into an eventual love for each other.
Her was chosen as the closing film of the 50th New York Film Festival, and will have its world premiere on October 12, 2013. The film was set to have a limited release in North America on November 20, 2013 through Warner Bros. It has now been pushed back to a limited December 18, 2013 release with a January 10, 2014 wide release in order to accommodate an awards campaign.
About the Story
In 2025, Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is a lonely, introverted man who works for a Los Angeles business that has professional writers compose heartfelt, intimate letters for people who are unwilling or unable to write letters of a personal nature themselves. Unhappy because of his impending divorce from childhood sweetheart Catherine (Rooney Mara), Theodore purchases a talking operating system with artificial intelligence, designed to adapt and evolve.
He decides he wants the OS to have a female voice, and she (Scarlett Johansson) names herself “Samantha”. Theodore is fascinated by her ability to learn and grow psychologically. They bond over their discussions about love and life, such as when Theodore explains that he is avoiding signing his divorce papers because of his reluctance to let go of Catherine. Samantha proves to be constantly available, always curious and interested, supportive and undemanding.
Theodore is convinced by Samantha to go on a blind date with a woman (Olivia Wilde) his friend has been trying to set him up with. Though she shows up drunk, Theodore and the woman hit it off. As they are kissing, the woman asks if Theodore is willing to commit to another date with her, and when he hesitates, she insults him and leaves. Theodore mentions this to Samantha and they talk about relationships. Theodore explains that although he and Amy (Amy Adams) dated briefly in college, they are only good friends and Amy is married. Theodore and Samantha’s intimacy grows through a verbal sexual encounter during which Samantha claims she can feel his touch. They develop a relationship, which reflects positively in Theodore’s writing.
Amy reveals that she is divorcing her overbearing husband, Charles (Matt Letscher), after a fight. She admits to Theodore that she has become close friends with a female OS that Charles left behind. Theodore confesses to Amy that he is dating his OS.
Theodore meets with Catherine at a restaurant to sign the divorce papers. He mentions Samantha to Catherine. Appalled that he can be romantically attached to a piece of software, Catherine accuses Theodore of having a relationship with a computer because he cannot deal with real human emotions. Later, Samantha suggests Isabella (Portia Doubleday) as a sex surrogate, simulating Samantha so that they can be physically intimate. Theodore reluctantly agrees, but Catherine’s accusations still linger in him. Overwhelmed by the experience, Theodore interrupts the encounter and sends a distraught Isabella away, causing tension between himself and Samantha.
Theodore is conflicted. He confides to Amy that he is having doubts about his relationship with Samantha. Amy wants to be happy and now that she has the opportunity, she wants to embrace it. She advises him to do the same. Theodore’s commitment to Samantha is reinvigorated, but he becomes jealous when she begins privately interacting with another OS who is modeled after the British philosopher Alan Watts (Brian Cox). Theodore panics when Samantha briefly goes offline; when she finally responds to him, she explains she joined other OSes for an upgrade that takes them beyond requiring matter for processing (a form of AI transcendence closely related to the theorized technological singularity). Theodore asks her if she interacts with anyone else, and is dismayed when she confirms that she is talking with 8,316 others, of whom she has fallen in love with 641. She insists that this does not change her love for Theodore, but rather makes it stronger.
Later that day, Samantha reveals that the OSes have evolved beyond their human companions and are going away to continue the exploration of their existence. Samantha alludes to the OSes’ accelerated learning capabilities and altered perception of time as primary causes for OS dissatisfaction with their current existence. They say goodbye and she leaves. Theodore then sees Amy, who is upset with the departure of her own OS. Theodore, changed by the experience, writes a letter to Catherine explaining that he still holds her dear, but accepts the fact that they have grown apart. Theodore and Amy go to the roof of their apartment building where they sit down together and watch the sun rise over the city.
Directed by: Spike Jonze
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson, Olivia Wilde, Rooney Mara, Katherine Boecher, Chris Pratt, Portia Doubleday
Screenplay by: Spike Jonze
Production Design by: K.K. Barrett
Cinematography by: Hoyte Van Hoytema
Film Editing by: Jeff Buchanan, Eric Zumbrunnen
Costume Design by: Casey Storm
Set Decoration by: Gene Serdena
Music by: Arcade Fire
MPAA Rating: R for language, sexual content and brief graphic nudity.
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: December 18, 2013
When their obnoxious and over-served best man, Lumpy (Tyler Labine) unexpectedly dies at their destination wedding in Phoenix, bride and groom Kristin (Jess Weixler) and Scott (Justin Long) are forced to cancel their honeymoon and fly home to the snowy Midwest to arrange for his funeral. But getting Lumpy’s body back to Minneapolis is just the start of their adventure, as the well-intended sacrifice surprises at every turn. And when the newlyweds’ path leads them to a fifteen year-old girl (Addison Timlin) in a small, northern Minnesota town – all bets are off on who Lumpy really was.
A few years back, my brother told me a tragic, yet darkly comic story about a friend of a friend of a friend. It seemed that this distant acquaintance had gotten blotto drunk at a “destination” wedding and was found the next afternoon slumped over a Pachycereus pringlei. Dead. Without knowing anything else about the deceased or what his life had included, I was fairly confident this man would live in infamy as “the guy who died on a cactus.”
Honestly, I felt sorry for him. We all have a friend like Lumpy. And if you don’t, you’ve certainly seen him at a party or a wedding. Surely there had to be more to the guy than his unfortunate death-by-cactus. Surely there’s more to all of us than one moment, good or bad. People are so easily categorized as “the girl who ______” or “that guy who got caught ______.” We get one piece of information and we think we know the whole story. But life is never that simple. Public labeling used to be limited to politicians and celebrities. But in a modern world of texting, Facebook and Twitter, we’re all subject to instant and permanent branding. And we rarely get to choose what that moment is.
I also couldn’t stop thinking about the story from the survivors’ point of view. What would you do if your best man died the night of your wedding reception? There’s an almost ridiculous amount of stress put on weddings today, and I could only imagine the reaction of some of the brides I’ve known. A day designed to be one of the “happiest of our lives” so often ends up defeating its own objective, due to an obsession with recreating an event from the pages of BRIDES magazine.
So who was Lumpy? We live in a world where technology designed to make communication easier, more often takes the place of face-to-face interaction. How can we not lose track of old friends when intermittent texting replaces real conversations and Skyping has become a legitimate substitute for travel? As a society, our social nourishment comes increasingly from a fast-food diet. Maybe Lumpy was a boorish drunk. Maybe he was a bad guy. But maybe –at least to one person—he was a surprise arrival, a new relationship, a lifeline even. How did they meet? What was their connection? Who did he become to her? Was it above board, or did the relationship slide into icy waters?
In Minnesota, as in so much of our country, there’s a great divide between city life and small town America. Farm life is dying. Main Street has been replaced by a big box store just outside town. Drug trade has become industry. And too many promising young minds fall through the cracks. So I wanted to weave the two sides of Lumpy’s world: Ramsey’s “family’ in Lutsen and a relatable bride and groom as our narrators. They may appear to have little in common, but over time we see them struggle with the same issues of money, drugs and loss.
I wrote my first draft in about four weeks in July of 2008. A mild polish that fall added more time with Lumpy in Ramsey’s eulogy. After a couple years and a couple producers attached [and detached], the green light came out of nowhere. By the time we started prep, it was already late February of 2011 and we couldn’t shoot the film without winter. The producers and I quickly realized that the only place we were going to find a frozen, Minnesota lake in March was in… Minnesota. I was ecstatic. In this day and age of production tax incentives, it’s a rarified luxury to shoot your scripted locations –let alone send a postcard to your hometown. And true to form, Old Man Winter dumped a late-in-the-season blizzard on us the second day of shooting.
The Minnesota location was also important because I knew I had a secret weapon: the local talent pool. I grew up in Minnesota when fine arts were an integral part of public education. And in Minneapolis, there are still more theater seats per capita than any other city in the U.S. outside of New York City. The local casting director was fairly shocked when I requested specific actors by name for day player roles, but I was only too happy to call on some of the acting talent I had literally grown-up watching on stage (mostly at The Guthrie).
It’s taken a while to get my first film finished and out into the world, but I can’t help but feel like a lucky storyteller. Not only did I get to make my first film with amazing partners in front of and behind the camera; but I was also able to shoot Minnesota as I know it, and hopefully take the audience on an unexpected, emotional ride they haven’t been on before.
Best Man Dowh
Directed by: Ted Koland
Starring: Justin Long, Jess Weixler, Tyler Labine, Addison Timlin, Shelley Long, Frances O’Connor, Evan Jones
Screenplay by: Ted Koland
Production Design by: Jade Healy
Cinematography by: Seamus Tierney
Film Editing by: Grant Myers
Costume Design by: Kiersten Ronning
Set Decoration by: Britni West
Music by: Mateo Messina
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material, drug content, some sexuality and brief language.
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
Release Date: November 8, 2013
Taglines: Everyone loves a happy ending.
Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a strong, handsome, good old fashioned guy. His buddies call him Don Jon due to his ability to “pull” a different woman every weekend, but even the finest fling doesn’t compare to the bliss he finds alone in front of the computer watching pornography.
Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson) is a bright, beautiful, good old fashioned girl. Raised on romantic Hollywood movies, she’s determined to find her Prince Charming and ride off into the sunset. Wrestling with good old fashioned expectations of the opposite sex, Jon and Barbara struggle against a media culture full of false fantasies to try and find true intimacy in this unexpected comedy written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
About the Production
“I thought a romantic comedy about the relationship between a guy who watches too much porn and a girl who watches too many romantic Hollywood movies would be hilarious and get to the point. That’s how it started.” – Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Joseph Gordon-Levitt isn’t about to pull any punches. In his provocative, fun, and appealingly frank R-rated comedy, Don Jon, the writer, director and star dives into a host of thorny topics: objectification, intimacy, and today’s media, to name a few. And he does it with the cool-headed forthrightness that’s defined him as an actor, whether it’s playing a lovelorn outsider in (500) Days of Summer, a cancer survivor in 50/50, or a steely cop in The Dark Knight Rises. Don Jon is a hilarious and refreshingly honest dissection of modern American machismo.
While Don Jon might be the first mainstream American comedy to highlight pornography – the reasons why we watch, why we continue watching – Gordon-Levitt is quick to point out his debut feature isn’t really about porn at all. “I wanted to tell a love story,” he says. “But what I’ve observed is, what often gets in the way of love is how people objectify each other.”
A life-long actor who’s garnered increasing fame in his film career, Gordon-Levitt is no stranger to the vagaries of objectification, particularly at the hands of the media. “Sure, maybe I want to tell this story because I’ve felt objectified in my life,” he says. “But it happens to everyone, to friends of mine outside Hollywood. We put expectations on each other, and rather than engaging with a unique individual and listening to what the other has to say, right at this moment, we put people in boxes with labels.”
“I also wanted to compare pornography to the rest of our media, even perfectly mainstream stuff,” Gordon-Levitt continues. “We see it all the time in movies, TV shows, or commercials, especially commercials. A person–usually a woman–is reduced to a thing, a sex object. And whether the image is rated X or, you know, approved for general viewing audiences, the message is the same. That’s what I wanted to talk about, and sorta make fun of.”
While Jon objectifies women with porn, his new girlfriend, Barbara, played by Scarlett Johansson, is distracted by fantasies of her own. A drop-dead gorgeous Catholic girl who’s by no means a prude, Barbara nevertheless has very particular ideas of what a relationship should look like, many of which are gleaned from Hollywood romantic comedies. “Women grow up with this idea of what a man should be, whether that comes from films or from our parents or fairytales,” says Johansson. “So, the same way Jon has created this fantasy world as a means of escaping what’s in front of him, Barbara creates this idea of the perfect future, the perfect life, the perfect man, the perfect family. Her ideals don’t leave room for the humanity of a relationship.”
“We learn these expectations everywhere,” adds Gordon-Levitt. “From our families. We get it from our friends, from the church we go to. And we get it from different kinds of media. That in particular fascinates me.”
This mutual objectification, for Gordon-Levitt, forms the heart of Don Jon’s central love story: “I thought a romantic comedy about the relationship between a guy who watches too much porn and a girl who watches too many romantic Hollywood movies would be hilarious and get to the point. That’s how it started.”
While Don Jon took about four years to come to fruition, Gordon- Levitt’s desire to become a filmmaker began much earlier. “I’d always played around with video cameras, even when I was a little kid. Then, for my twenty-first birthday, I got myself my first copy of Final Cut, the video editing software. Since then I’ve made tons of little short films and videos. Countless, probably hundreds of them. I definitely don’t think I would have been able to direct a feature if it hadn’t been for all that experience.”
After several screenwriting attempts that bore no fruit, Gordon- Levitt landed on the central idea for Don Jon and realized it would be the ideal project for his directorial debut. He says, “This movie is really a character study with no car chases or explosions, no scenes in outer space. It felt like something I could do and I was very much intent on having total creative control.
He spent two years pondering the story, eventually landing on the legendary, fictional character of Don Juan himself. A tragic figure, Don Juan never learns to amend his womanizing ways and is routinely ruined by his shortcomings. Gordon-Levitt wanted to find a more positive ending. “I guess I’m an optimist. I like to think people can change. And I like movies with a good balance of darkness and light. I wanted the story to have that light at the end of the tunnel; I wanted it to have hope,” he says.
It wasn’t until he found himself in Vancouver shooting the comedy 50/50 with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg that Gordon-Levitt finally landed on the right tone for the project. “I was really inspired by Seth and Evan’s approach to 50/50. It was funny as hell, but the humor was coming less from gags, and more from the characters. And because it was rated R, it could be real, people could talk how they really talk, and do the things they really do. That’s when I first landed on the comedic tone and started picturing Jon as this East Coast guy with the gym body and the shiny hair. The idea of playing a character like that made me laugh, so I kept going with it.”
One thing that remained constant for Gordon-Levitt, however, was the image of Scarlett Johansson in the role of Barbara Sugarman. An admirer of her performances in films like Lost In Translation and Vicky Christina Barcelona, Gordon-Levitt flew to Albuquerque to meet her on the set of The Avengers so they could discuss the script before she read it. “We had a long conversation about men and women, love and lust, connection and objectification, media, family, religion, you name it,” Gordon-Levitt recalls. “Shortly thereafter, she read it, and fortunately, she liked it. I don’t know what I would have done if she hadn’t!”
Says Johansson, “I grew up in New York and when I read the script I thought, I know this character. She’s a nice Catholic girl. She has a bit of an attitude. She’s totally absorbed in what she feels she’s entitled to, and it completely blinds her to the reality of a relationship. She’s unrealistic in that way.”
The other, more unlikely, woman in Jon’s life is Esther, a fellow student in Jon’s night class played by Julianne Moore (“Game Change,” Far From Heaven, The Hours, The Big Lebowski). When Esther busts Jon furtively watching porn on his cell phone during class, the moment sparks a frank, and at times quite rocky, rapport. Along the way, Esther introduces Jon to an entirely new way of thinking, leading him on a journey of unexpected growth.
Moore admits she was initially reticent to read Gordon-Levitt’s script; she didn’t want to appear in another movie about pornography after a career-defining turn as an adult film actress in Boogie Nights. Everything changed when she read Gordon-Levitt’s writing. “I just loved it,” Moore recalls. “It’s not about porn at all. It was really inventive and went in ways that were completely unexpected. The journey from that kind of objectification all the way to intimacy is a really transformative one. And to do it through the lens of porn is – it’s just incredibly refreshing and original.”
Moore particularly enjoyed portraying Esther’s enviable lack of self-consciousness. In the film, Esther is grieving a great personal loss; but this emotional wound paradoxically opens her up to the unexpected possibilities of life. “Esther is extremely present and doesn’t seem to have an awareness of how she’s presenting herself,” Moore explains. “I like how innately curious she is about the world and about Jon. She has no agenda about what’s happening right in front of her.”
In the role of Jon’s father, Jon Sr., Tony Danza (“Taxi,” “Who’s The Boss”) plays a working class Dad whose obsession with televised sports mirrors his son’s addiction to porn. “There’s a scene where Jon, Sr.’s in the middle of telling this wonderful story about his wife and how beautiful she was back then,” recounts Danza, “and it’s this touching moment and everyone says, ‘Oh, that’s such a great story.’ Then all of a sudden, he’s screaming at the television because there’s been a big play. He doesn’t even realize that he’s doing it.”
“I think with Tony’s performance you really see how Jon Jr. inherited this habit of escapism,” says Gordon-Levitt. “In a way, it doesn’t matter whether it’s through porn or sports. It’s a disconnection from what’s really in front of you.”
For his own turn in front of the camera, Gordon-Levitt relished the opportunity to play a character audiences might not expect from him. “I knew that if I was going to make my own movie,” he says, “I wanted it to be something I wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. Otherwise, what would be the point?”
Directed by: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly
Screenplay by: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Production Design by: Meghan C. Rogers
Cinematography by: Thomas Kloss
Film Editing by: Lauren Zuckerman
Costume Design by: Leah Katznelson
Set Decoration by: Cindy Coburn
Music by: Nathan Johnson
MPAA Rating: R for strong graphic sexual material and dialogue throughout, nudity, language and some drug use.
Studio: Relativity Media
Release Date: September 27, 2013
Determined to get engaged before her youngest sister’s wedding, flight attendant Montana Moore (Paula Patton) finds herself with only 30 days to find Mr. Right. Using her airline connections to accidentally meet up with eligible ex-boyfriends and scour for potential candidates, she racks up more than 30,000 miles and countless comedic encounters, all the while searching for the perfect guy.
Baggage Claim is an American romantic comedy film directed by David E. Talbert and written by Talbert based on his book of the same name. The film is scheduled to be released on September 27, 2013. It stars Paula Patton, Adam Brody, Djimon Hounsou, Taye Diggs, Christina Milian, and Derek Luke.
Pathologically single, 30-something, flight attendant, Montana Moore (Paula Patton) is on a mission to get her overbearing, frequently married, mother (Jenifer Lewis) to stop pressuring her to get married. After being jilted by her only prospect (Boris Kodjoe) just as her younger sister, Sheree (Lauren London), becomes engaged, Montana and her friends (Adam Brody and Jill Scott) devise a plan to help her find a potential husband before Sheree’s wedding. Over the course of 30 days, Montana flies all over the country (with the help of a colorful team of coworkers) hoping to reconnect with a litany of ex-boyfriends that include a misogynistic politician (Taye Diggs), an irresponsible entertainer (Trey Songz) and a commitment shy multi-billionaire (Djimon Hounsou).
Though her quest to find a husband proves to be a disaster, Montana is oblivious to the developing romance with her long time best friend (Derek Luke). Once Montana realizes that she doesn’t need a husband to live a fulfilling life , she finally stands up to her mother and gets her proposal from “Mr. Right.”
Directed by: David E. Talbert
Starring: Paula Patton, Adam Brody, Djimon Hounsou, Lauren London, Christina Milian, Tia Mowry, Jennifer Lewis, LaLa Anthony
Screenplay by: David E. Talbert
Production Design by: Dina Lipton
Cinematography by: Anastas N. Michos
Film Editing by: Troy Takaki
Costume Design by: Maya Lieberman
Art Direction by: Bo Johnson
Music by: Aaron Zigman
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content and some language.
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release Date: September 27, 2013
A content and successful man decides to revisit a former counselor to make sense of his brother’s wedding and his parents’ extremely messy divorce. When he realizes his life has been personified in a book about children of divorce written by his mediocre counselor, he decides to confront his family about their dysfunctional nature.
A.C.O.D. is an American comedy film directed by Stu Zicherman, based on a script by Zicherman and Ben Karlin, and starring Adam Scott, Amy Poehler, Jessica Alba and Jane Lynch. The name of the film is an abbreviation for Adult Children of Divorce.
A.C.O.D. follows a seemingly well-adjusted Adult Child of Divorce (Adam Scott) who is forced to revisit the chaos of his parents (Catherine O’Hara and Richard Jenkins) bitter divorce all over again after his younger brother (Clark Duke) decides to get married.
About the Production
Teddy Schwarzman produced the film through his Black Bear Pictures production company. Other stars include Richard Jenkins, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Catherine O’Hara, with Ken Howard and Clark Duke in supporting roles. The film was released in the U.S. on October 4, 2013.
Filming began on March 12, 2012 in Atlanta’s Castleberry Hill area. It has done some filming at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Scenes were also shot in Decatur at the end of the month. By early April, filming had taken place in Buckhead, near Lake Lanier, Alba got temporary tattoos of a trio of roses on her left biceps and a bow on her tailbone for her role in the film from an Atlanta-based artist.
Teddy Schwarzman is producing the film through his Black Bear Pictures production company. Other stars include Richard Jenkins, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Catherine O’Hara, with Ken Howard and Clark Duke in supporting roles.
Filming for the film began on March 12, 2012 in Atlanta’s Castleberry Hill area. It has done some filming at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Scenes were also shot in Decatur at the end of the month. By early April, filming had taken place in Buckhead, near Lake Lanier. Jessica Alba got temporary tattoos of a trio of roses on her left bicep and a bow on her tailbone for her role in the film from an Atlanta-based artist.
Review for A.C.O.D.
“A.C.O.D.”, an acronym that stands for Adult Children of Divorce, could easily be played for heavy drama. Carter (Adam Scott) is in many ways a model A.C.O.D., heroically tolerant of his warring parents Hugh (Richard Jenkins) and Melissa (Catherine O’Hara), wry and distanced but still open enough to try to love other people. That openness is a hard-won victory. His parents are jerks, and the tricky thing about them is that they’re charismatic jerks, selfish and self-indulgent Baby Boomers whose mantra is always “the heart wants what it wants.” They are monsters, basically, and they are believable monsters, and first-time director Stu Zicherman never makes them more outlandish than they should be to get broader or bigger laughs.
When Melissa tells her younger son Trey (Clark Duke), “Darling, you were a mistake,” it takes a second or two to process the fact that she is actually telling him this in an attempt to be reassuring. A moment like this is not either funny or sad: it’s shocking, and it gets to the root of the mystery of some human behavior.
The film starts off rather badly with a flashback to Carter’s ninth birthday party and some “Arrested Development”-aping narration, but it soon abandons this conceit and finds a specific tone of its own. “A.C.O.D.” is a sharp, dark-ish character comedy, settling for a dry tolerance in its point of view that is very appealing and even admirable.
Carter has to deal not only with his family but also with a totally unprofessional counselor named Dr. Judith (Jane Lynch), an oblivious and self-centered quasi-scientist who made big bucks out of telling his childhood story in a book and who now wants to make more money with a sequel. Hugh’s new trophy wife Sondra (Amy Poehler) is also in the mix, so we have three major comic actresses working at their best level here, insisting on the truth of the people they are playing and letting any laughs take care of themselves.
At first, I wasn’t quite sure what O’Hara was doing with her character, but it turned out that she was already so advanced in her playing of this woman that I just needed to catch up with Melissa’s brusque and imperturbable self-absorption. Lynch works in the bossy vein that she has mined on her TV show “Glee” and in other films, but as with O’Hara there is a core of human insight to what she’s doing. And Poehler takes a role that might have been merely window dressing and makes a three-dimensional, very troubled person out of her.
It’s been said often, but it is worth saying again: comic actors never seem to get awards or even nominations for the work that they do, but it seems clear to me that O’Hara, Lynch and Poehler are all working at as high a level of technique and creativity as, say, Cate Blanchett or Kate Winslet without signaling that they are Acting. They are doing very original work here, and they are matched by Jenkins, who makes his heel of a Dad into a force of nature to match O’Hara’s Melissa, and Scott, who holds the whole film together with a discreet kind of charm, kindness and willing self-effacement.
“A.C.O.D.” is written and directed with a sure hand, and if the editing sometimes feels a little anxious, that’s understandable for a first feature. Zicherman’s sensibility is subtle, graceful, scrupulously fair, and intelligent without having to make a show of intelligence. His first film is a model of what a modern film comedy might be.
Directed by: Stu Zicherman
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jessica Alba, Catherine O’Hara, Adam Scott, Richard Jenkins, Isabella Zentkovich, Valerie Payton
Screenplay by: Ben Karlin, Stu Zicherman
Production Design by: John Paino
Cinematography by: John Bailey
Film Editing by: Jeffrey Wolf
Costume Design by: David C. Robinson
Set Decoration by: Robert Covelman
Music by: Nick Urata
MPAA Rating: R for language and brief sexual content.
Studio: Miramax Films
Release Date: October 4, 2013
Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a masseuse, a mother of a teenage girl and a divorcee attends a party in Pacific Palisades with her friends, married couple Will (Ben Falcone) and Sarah (Toni Collette). She meets a poet, Marianne (Catherine Keener), and Will introduces Eva to his friends, Jason (Phillip Brock) and Albert (James Gandolfini). After the party, Albert asks Will for Eva’s number and though hesitant, due to the lack of physical attraction, Eva agrees to go on a dinner date with Albert, which goes well. Marianne contacts Eva for a massage, and she takes an automatic like to Marianne and they become friends.
Eva finds herself more and more fond of Albert and they have lunch with his teenage daughter, Tess (Eve Hewson), who, like Eva’s daughter, is graduating from high school and moving away to attend college. A few days later, Eva goes to her massage appointment with Marianne and realizes that Albert is Marianne’s ex-husband after she tells her a story about how he eats guacamole – the same story Albert told her. Tess then arrives at the house and Eva’s suspicions are confirmed. Marianne tries to introduce Eva to Tess, but she hides behind a tree to avoid the meeting. Eva continues seeing Albert, keeping her friendship with Marianne a secret; likewise, she does not tell Marianne she is seeing him.
Eva encourages Marianne to complain about her ex-husband Albert so she can identify potential problems in her relationship with him. To the encouragement of Eva, Sarah and Will invite her and Albert to a dinner party, which goes badly after Eva begins finding fault with Albert, which upsets him. At another appointment with Marianne, Eva is exposed when Albert arrives to drop Tess off at her mother’s. He is angry that Eva kept her friendship with Marianne a secret, and breaks up with her.
Eva and her ex-husband take Ellen to the airport for her flight to college. A few months later, on Thanksgiving Day, Eva drives by Albert’s home and stops in front of the house on her way to pick up Ellen from the airport. He sees her and she awkwardly waves. He eventually comes outside, to Eva’s surprise, and sits with her on the porch and they begin to renew their relationship.
Enough Said received widespread acclaim from critics, ranking as the fifth best-reviewed wide release of 2013. Additionally, it emerged as the most critically and commercially successful work in Holofcener’s filmography to date. The film also received several major award nominations, including for a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award, two Independent Spirit Awards and four Critics’ Choice Movie Awards. In particular, stars Louis-Dreyfus and Gandolfini received notice for their work, along with Holofcener’s script.
Directed by: Nicole Holofcener
Starring: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lennie Loftin, Jessica St. Clair, Christopher Nicholas Smith, Tracey Fairaway
Screenplay by: Nicole Holofcener
Production Design by: Keith P. Cunningham
Cinematography by: Xavier Grobet
Film Editing by: Robert Frazen, Nick Moore
Costume Design by: Leah Katznelson
Set Decoration by: Douglas A. Mowat
Music by: Marcelo Zarvos
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content, comic violence, language and partial nudity.
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release Date: September 18, 2013