Archive for the ‘Celebrities’ Category

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Laughing at the hollow excess of celebrity is always fun, and funner still when celebrities get in on the joke. That’s the comedy essence of ‘Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,’ which takes the irreverent antics of The Lonely Island and expands their viral-video pattern to fit a feature-length mockumentary.

Andy Samberg stars as hip-hop musician Connor “4Real” Friel, an overt homage to Justin Bieber (whose documentary Never Say Never serves as a rough template for Never Stop Never Stopping) with a backstory akin to Justin Timberlake. Connor rose to fame as part of a boy-band trio Style Boyz, but has since surged as a solo act and is on the verge of launching his sophomore album and a new world tour.

The documentary style allows for winking testimonials by the likes of Usher, RZA and Carrie Underwood, who heap praise upon Connor’s career while making not-so-subtle digs at the vacuousness of America’s music industry. For example, Simon Cowell praises Connor’s decision to place a giant, LED-emblazoned, Daft Punk-esque helmet on the head of his DJ. A similar move, Cowell deadpans, would have allows Zayn to stay in One Direction for years.

There’s a lot of layers to that joke. And the level to which those layers amuse you is a decent litmus test for how much you’ll enjoy the film ‘Popstar,’ which zooms in on male genitalia for several minutes and which includes a song that likens passionate lovemaking to the military efficiency that resulted in Osama Bin Laden’s death.

That the film works at all is a credit to the charismatic charm of Samberg and his Lonely Island partners Akiva Schaffer and  Jorma Taccone. There’s also more celebrity cameos in this film than a Lakers playoff game, used in increasingly amusing ways that deepen the cynicism of a movie that mocks the cult of celebrity.

Grade: B+

*Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping opens nationwide on Friday, June 3.

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I know, this post is more than a month late but the Utah Legislative session began the freaking day after Sundance ended so cut me some slack. I already posted my Sundance wrap up post so I’ll try to keep the redundancies to a minimum but there are just some things that deserve more than a camera phone.

Things like, Main Street’s Egyptian Theater.

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As a member of the press, I’m mostly relegated to the Holiday Village Cinemas during the festival but I always try to see at least one movie in the old Egyptian at the top of Main. This theater, along with its sister in Ogden, are hands down my two favorite cinemas in all of Utah (now that the Cinedome is closed, sigh). They have that amazing feel of nostalgia for Hollywood’s Golden Age, before HD television when going to the theater for a talkie was an experience. For some of us it still is, and theaters like the Egyptians reward us for our cinephilia.

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My screening at the Egyptian this years was Austenland, directed by Jerusha Hess, wife to and co-writer of Napolean Dynomite. Besides a week of amazing independent film and the ability to see the year’s best movies before anyone else, the true magic of Sundance is the post-screening Q&A’s that the filmmakers and cast hold with the audience. Sadly, Hess’ Q&A was hijacked by a bunch of twi-hards who wanted to know what it was like working with Stephanie Meyer (who produced the film), but Hess nonetheless seemed very charming.

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Speaking of charm, there’s no topping Sundance-regular, wunderkind and all-that-is-man Joseph Gordon-Levitt. His film, Don Jon’s Addiction, made its worldwide premiere at Sundance and the versatile writer-director-actor stopped by to chat with the audience about feminism, sexism in Hollywood and how to carefully trim pornographic clips to technically not exceed the bounds of an MPAA “R” rating. Don Jon’s will be hitting theaters soon, it will be interesting to see if they pulled it off.

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This here is Stu Zicherman, who directed and co-wrote A.C.O.D., which stands for Adult Children of Divorce and was quite possibly my favorite film of the festival (I can’t make up my mind. Too Much Good!) After I gave the movie an A rating on Wood’s Stock they were nice enough to retweet my blog post. Hashtags people, get on that train.

As always I can’t choose between color and B&W. I love the balance of the big red screen but I also love how Stu comes out of the dark in the BW picture, almost like a giant Ying Yang. Thoughts?

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This is the team behind “Breathe In,” particularly the film’s director Drake Doremus (the man with the microphone). Drake is the writer-director of Like Crazy, one of the best movies I’ve ever seen at Sundance and one of the best films of 2011. I had the chance to briefly meet Drake during Film Church of Sundance 2011. I wouldn’t expect him to remember, I just felt like mentioning that. Most people brag about getting a high five from Justin Bieber, I get star struck by indie filmmakers.

The Breathe In Q&A was interesting because a man called the film predictable and then got booed by the crowd. I wouldn’t call it predictable as much as I would call it familiar or natural, but either way it is a beautifully-captured story.

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And, as always, between movies there’s the chance to catch some amazing music. Like The Head and The Heart (above) who closed out the festival at the ASCAP music cafe. THATH, if you haven’t discovered them yet, is (are?) amazing but if you like Justin Bieber then just do us all a favor and stay away. The last thing I need is to see Down In The Valley covered on Glee. After losing fun. I’m not sure my heart could take it.

When I took this shot I was cursing that yellow ball hanging from the ceiling. Now that I see the picture though, I kind of love it. I wish it was brighter.

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I was also able to catch a bar-set by my cousin’s band Van Lady Love. My cousin has two bands (The other being Lady And Gent, a folkier outfit). I’d like to tell you where to go to find them but I’m not entirely sure. Google it, that usually works.

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And then, there’s always Main Street. People often ask me “Ben, I’m heading to Sundance, what should I do?” and more often than not they haven’t exactly planned ahead to buy screening tickets, aren’t willing to wait list and buy screening tickets and, frankly, have no interest in attending a screening. That, admittedly, limits your choices.

But Main Street, especially on opening weekend, is buzzing: art galleries, live music, restaurants and great people watching. I’m always struck by the dedication of the club-going crowd. The fact that women will brave strapless mini-dresses in the dead of Utah winter is nothing short of heroic. Also, if you’re lucky, you might see a star or two, if you’re in to that sort of thing. To be honest, you probably won’t see anyone, or at least anyone you recognize. I brushed shoulders with the girl from The Mob Doctor and it took me more than an hour to figure out why she looked so familiar, then again, it is The Mob Doctor.

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And how awesome are these windows? I’m a sucker for silhouette (and empty benches, but that’s not important right now) so I stood across the street from the Kimball Arts Center for about 30 minutes just snapping people walking by.

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Celebrity

I had talked about making a celebrity-sighting counter on my blog but after tonight I realize that would be foolish. I just got home from the red carpet premiere of “I Don’t Know How She Does It” and already the list would be too daunting.

And, if everything goes according to plan I’ll be meeting Michael Fassbender (a.k.a young Magneto, a.k.a one of the Inglorious Bastards, a.k.a. the coolest guy ever) on Wednesday.

But, here’s some highlights from tonight.


I chatted with Matthew Broderick about his upcoming projects (including the soon-to-be-released Tower Heist and his next Broadway play) and an old movie called “The Stuntman” starring Peter O’ Toole.

I bumped in Scott Adsit and asked him about next season of 30 Rock (he doesn’t know anything about it, yet) and he expressed a subtle jab about the show not being included in EW’s 50 shows were excited to see. I offered up the fact that 30 Rock has gotten a lot of love over the years from EW and he quipped that so has The Office, but it still made the list. Anyway…….he also recommends checking out the 1960’s version of Bedazzled.

I saw (but didn’t get to speak to) Pierce Brosnan who looked as bond-awesome as ever. I did overhear a reporter ask if he would ever consider doing another musical (a la Mamma Mia) to which he replied “Of Course.”

And someone asked Greg Kinnear if he would be willing to replace Regis Philbin (who is leaving his morning talk show this year) to which he said “No one could EVER replace Regis”

Other than that I saw (in order of cool), Emma Roberts, Chord Overstreet, Sarah Jessica Parker, Christina Hendricks, Olivia Munn and, aparrently, one of the Jonas Brothers.

There were others, and a lot of talk about fashion which all went over my head. Red Carpets are way annoying, I had a set question to ask everyone but only got the chance with two people (not including the person I was explicitly sent there to get) so this may be my LAST red carpet for a while depending on how disappointed EW is with me.

Funny though, I couldn’t help thinking how similar it was to a Crime Scene press conference. The lightning was certainly better, and the subject less grim, but the mechanics were exactly the same.

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