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Podcast: TSOYA Classic: No F***ing Eagles

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Show: 
Bullseye


We continue our journey into The Sound of Young America's vast audio archive with this program from The Sound of Young America Classics.

Our guests: We talk first with the founders of Lebowskifest, an annual celebration of all things Big Lebowski. Aherents call themselves "Achievers," and flock to the events, typically held in bowling alleys.

We also talk with Seth Greenland. He's the author of the novel "The Bones," which satirizes Hollywood and the world of comedy.

Please share your thoughts on the show in the comments section!

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The Comedy of the Schlub

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Sharon Waxman, a former TSOYA guest and a reporter with a great talent for finding the angle, has an interesting piece on the Judd Apatow ouvre in the Times today.

The question she introduces to the debate is an important one, and she quotes Mike White (the man behind such wonderful films as "School of Rock" and "The Good Girl"):

“To me, I definitely stand in the corner of wanting to give voice to the bullied, and not the bully. Here’s where comedy is catharsis for people who are picked on,” he said.

“There’s a strain in ‘Knocked Up’ where you sort of feel like something’s changed a little bit,” he continued. “My sense of it is that because those guys are idiosyncratic-looking, their perception is that they’re still the underdogs. But there is something about the spirit of the thing, that comes under the guise of comedy, where — it’s weird. At some point it starts feeling like comedy of the bullies, rather than the bullied.”

Apatow writes to Waxman:

“I think there is a nerd’s fantasy involved in many of these films. We all wish that somebody would take the time to get to know us, and love us, warts and all.”

He added: “I always wanted to be given a shot. And the sick part is this: No matter how many shots I get, I never completely lose the feeling of inadequacy that makes me wish I would get a chance to prove myself.”

The line between nerd-schlub and bully-schlub is a fine one. I think a great illustration might be the films of Adam Sandler, where while the protagonist is often a weird outsider type, and invariably a man-child, there's little attention paid to the real feelings that are so central to "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." Often in Sandler's films, acting like an emotionally stunted jerk is almost the reason for his triumph.

I haven't yet seen "Knocked Up," and I'm very excited to, but this will give me something to consider between now and then.

Jerry Lewis on Pauline Kael & critics...

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Dick Cavett talks with Jerry Lewis about being an auteur and dealing with critics. Including how much he loves Pauline Kael, a "dirty old broad" who'd never said anything good about him, ever. Great stuff.

La Haine on DVD

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I first saw La Haine (Hate) in the theatre, when I was in high school. With the exception of Style Wars, I think it may be the best "hip-hop film" I've ever seen. It tracks three friends in the suburban ghettos of Paris, and anticipates some of the racial and class unrest that we've seen there in the past few years. It's about hip-hop, and youthful alienation, and race, and all that stuff, and is very powerful.

It came out yesterday on Criterion DVD, and I think you should, at the very least, rent it.

Above: one of the film's most remarkable shots, which apparently was achieved using a remote-control helicopter.

David Wain talks about The Ten

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A guy from The Sundance Channel talks with the cast & crew of The Ten (pretty much all of them).

Lily Tomlin v. David O. Russell: HOLY SHIT

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David O. Russell is one of my favorite directors... "Three Kings" is one of my favorite films of all time, and I really enjoyed "I Heart Huckabees." I was surprised when I read Sharon Waxman's allusions to the bizarre and intense set tensions on Hucakbee's, which she wrote about in the Times in 2004. She talked about it a bit, iirc, in our interview with her upon the release of her book "Rebels on the Backlot," which profiled Russell. (MP3)

The above though -- holy shit. I mean, I'm a huge fan of Lily Tomlin too. So I'm just reeling.

Here's an excerpt from a Playboy interview with the star of Three Kings, George Clooney:

PLAYBOY: What made you want to do [Three Kings]?
CLOONEY: David Russell wrote as good a script as I've ever read. I fought to get it. He wanted a lot of other actors before me. They went to Mel and to Nic Cage. I wanted to work on this movie. David is in many ways a genius, though I learned that he's not a genius when it comes to people skills.
PLAYBOY: Did you learn about that the hard way?
CLOONEY: I did. He yelled and screamed at people all day, from day one.
PLAYBOY: Did he yell at you?
CLOONEY: At me often — and at someone daily. He'd throw off his headset and scream, 'Today the sound department flicked me!' For me, it came to a head a couple of times. Once, he went after a camera-car driver who I knew from high school. I had nothing to do with his getting his job, but David began yelling and screaming at him and embarrassing him in front of everybody. I told him, 'You can yell and scream and even fire him, but what you can't do is humiliate him in front of people. Not on my set, if I have any say about it.'

Another time he screamed at the script supervisor and made her cry. I wrote him a letter and said, 'Look, I don't know why you do this. You've written a brilliant script, and I think you're a good director. Let's not have a set like this. I don't like it and I don't work well like this.' I'm not one of those actors who likes things in disarray. He read the letter and we started all over again.

But later, we were three weeks behind schedule, which puts some pressure on you, and he was in a bad mood. These army kids, who were working as extras, were supposed to tackle us. David wanted one of the extras to grab me and throw me down. This kid was a little nervous about it, and David walked up to him and grabbed him. He pushed him onto the ground.

He kicked him and screamed, 'Do you want to be in this f**king movie? Then throw him to the f**king ground!' The second assistant director came up and said, 'You don't do that, David. You want them to do something, you tell me.' David grabbed his walkie-talkie and threw it on the ground. He screamed, 'Shut the f**k up! F**k you, and the AD goes, 'F**k you! I quit.' He walked off.

It was a dangerous time. I'd sent him this letter. I was trying to make things work, so I went over and put my arm around him. I said, 'David, it's a big day. But you can't shove, push, or humiliate people who aren't allowed to defend themselves.' He turned on me and said, 'Why don't you just worry about your f**ked-up act? You're being a d**k. You want to hit me? You want to hit me? Come on, pussy, hit me.' I'm looking at him like he's out of his mind. Then he started banging me on the head with his head. He goes, 'Hit me, you pussy. Hit me.' Then he got me by the throat and I went nuts. I had him by the throat. I was going to kill him. Kill him. Finally, he apologized, but I walked away. By then, the Warner Bros. guys were freaking out. David sort of pouted through the rest of the shoot and we finished the movie, but it was truly, without exception, the worst experience of my life."

Well here's some encouraging news.

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Quoth Variety:

"Knocked Up" is uproarious. Line for line, minute to minute, writer-director Judd Apatow's latest effort is more explosively funny, more frequently, than nearly any other major studio release in recent memory. Indeed, even more than the filmmaker's smash-hit sleeper "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," his new pic is bound to generate repeat business among ticketbuyers who'll want to savor certain scenes and situations again and again, if only to memorize punchlines worth sharing with buddies. Currently set for a June 1 release, this hugely commercial comedy likely will remain in megaplexes throughout the summer and, possibly, into the fall.

Full review here.

(thanks Lindsay!)

Tyler Macniven's "I Ran Iran"

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My pal Tyler MacNiven has done some really great stuff since we graduated from school. I've regularly plugged his first feature-length documentary, Kintaro Walks Japan, on this blog. His dad and I even talked with him on his way across that country. It's Tyler that Julie Snyder brought up (to my surprise) in our discussion of This American Life story ideas.

A year or two ago, Tyler and his friend BJ won "The Amazing Race," and with it, a million dollars. Tyler's used his part of the money to finance his interest in film-making, creating a new film called "I Ran Iran."

Tyler and his friend Bobak went to Iran to run its length. They figured that their apolitical trip might foster better relations between the two countries, especially since Bobak's family is Persian.

What they didn't expect was what really happened: a political and beaurocratic nightmare that began with the pair being celebrated as Iranian national heroes, and ended with them being expelled from the country.

Our friend Hadley Robinson put together a nice piece on the film for the excellent Gelf Magazine. Expect the finished version in June... in the meantime, click here to watch Kintaro for free.

(Note to Amazing Race fans: Tyler is not a hippie, but he is completely, almost alarmingly genuine.)

The Old Negro Space Program

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Thanks to the CC Insider for reminding me of this old chestnut: The Old Negro Space Program. And hey, director Andy Bobrow, who once let us use this film in a fundraising show in Santa Cruz, has a blog, which features great stuff like this post: "What would Jack Bauer do?"

Wayne's World

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I watched Wayne's World recently. Man, that's a fucking hilarious movie.

Above: the sorry fate of Mr. Doughnut-Head Man.

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