It’s Jon Brion’s Birthday So Let’s All Have a Cry

If this sounds incoherent, it’s only because I am listening to the Magnolia soundtrack and am growing too emotional to type. Sorry. But that only makes sense, considering today is the 49th birthday of cinematically minded musical genius Jon Brion. Although perhaps best known for his work in the PT Anderson-Fiona Apple-Aimee Mann world of collaboration, the whimsically dramatic singer/songwriter/composer/record producer has scored dozens of films—ranging from Adam McKay’s Step Brothers to his absolutely perfect work on Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind—while producing for everyone from Kanye West to Rufus Wainwright.

Although his projects may vary in medium and style, there’s a very specific sensation that wanders through all of his work—like gentle fingers plucking away at your heart strings, unhinging tearducts, and allowing you to journey even farther into the work it’s a part of. He isn’t melodramatic or devious with senitment, but provides an atmospheric, emotional through-line to guide you amidst the tangled worlds that his work speaks to. But however you see it, here’s a tasting of some favorites from his wonderful body of music.

Magnolia, “Stanley/Frank/Linda’s Breakdown” 

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, “Phone Call”

Punch-Drunk Love, “Punch-Drunk Melody”

Hard Eight, “Sydney Doesn’t Speak”

I ♥ Huckabees, “Monday”

Magnolia, “Showtime”

Step Brothers, “Back and Forth”

Fionna Apple, “Fast as You Can”

Rufus Wainwright, “Damned Ladies”

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Full OST

The Jon Brion Show – Feat. Elliott Smith / Brad Mehldau

Magnolia, “I’ve Got a Surprise For You Today”

‘Bachelorette’ Writer/Director Leslye Headland Gets TV Deal

Leslye Headland, who wrote and directed the raucous comedy, Bachelorette, told me a few weeks ago, "Fingers crossed, I’ll get to do more, but most female filmmakers don’t even last three movies." Well, she’s not limiting herself to the film industry, as one of her plays—also in her Seven Deadly Sins cycle—is being developed into a series for NBC.

Assistance, inspired by her time working for Harvey Weinstein at Miramax, premiered at New York’s Playwrights Horizons this past February, is headed to the network. The project is being produced by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Jessica Elbaum, and Owen Burke. Here’s how Playbill describes the source material:

For these young assistants, life is an endless series of humiliations at the hands of their hellacious boss, a powerful uber-magnate. In rare moments of calm when the phone calls stop rolling, Nick and Nora and their traumatized co-workers question whether all their work will lead to success—or just more work. [It’s] a biting, high-octane satire about our attraction to power and what we’re willing to sacrifice to stay in its orbit.

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The ‘Anchorman 2’ Teaser Checklist

Fans who jumped up and down like an animated gif waiting to happen after hearing the news that Will Ferrell’s beloved and oft-quoted Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy would be getting a sequel now have the delight of a teaser trailer for the film, coming in at under a minute and appearing at cinemas near you. Maybe.

The teaser for the film (due out in 2013), doesn’t include much indication as to what the plot will be. It’s just Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) and the rest of his news team doing what they do best: shooting off lines that people you dislike will put in their Facebook profiles someday.

That said, there were some lines fans will enjoy. To recap, here’s a checklist of tropes from the last film featured in this teaser:

  • Weird combovers, Greg Brady hair and ’70s threads? Check.
  • Ron Burgundy making a nonsensical motivational imperative statement? Check.
  • References to scotch? Check.
  • A same-mannequin-different-outfit reiteration of the "Invitation to the pants party" / "I love lamp" exchange? Check.
  • Steve Carell as Brick Tamland making everyone in the theatre uncomfortable? Check.
  • (Ron Burgundy addressing the people of America? Check.
  • Him telling us to "stay classy" in the process? Uncheck.)
  • Use of "Grazin’ In The Grass" by the Friends of Distinction? Check.
  • Veronica Corningstone? Uncheck, which seems pretty unfair, as the whole point of the last movie was getting them to the point of equal billing, becoming co-anchors as well as co-people. 

‘The Virginity Hit’ Trailer: Movies Are Getting Cheaper

Not long ago I wrote about the trailer for the forthcoming Devil. I didn’t address how audiences in a New York City theater booed the name of producer M. Night Shyamalan when it appeared on screen (that hadn’t happened yet), but rather how utterly cheap the movie is. To whit, it mostly takes place in an elevator. This is the most transparent movie-on-a-budget gambit I’ve seen poised for a major release in a long time. And yet, it only took a week or so for me to come across another: I give you The Virginity Hit.

This one’s conceit is that the whole film is shot by a teenager on his own video camera. It’s like Cloverfield without the expensive CGI. Crappy lighting? That just makes it more realistic! Shaky camera work? Ditto! As if this tactic didn’t make the thing look cheap enough, the plot looks to be an unapologetic mishmash of equal parts American Pie and Superbad. Now, if this were a film made by some scrappy upstarts, I could maybe, maybe forgive some of this. But it’s not. It’s producers are Will Ferrell and Adam McKay.

Really gentlemen? Really?

The Day Funny or Died: Will Ferrell & Adam McKay Jump Ship

In 2005 when YouTube came through the door like Eric B for Pres, pulled their Yankee cap low, and politely declared “respect me in this bitch” the online universe (or, “the game” if we were to continue with our hip hop intro) was changed forever. The initial populist inclinations of the site were informed by the founder’s longtime experience in the space (they founded the blog PayPal) and never gave nor received handjobs from the Entertainment Industry. Music Videos went up. Movie Trailers went up. And, more importantly, their audience did as well. Then Google bought them. Then Hulu did it right. And YouTube has been on its knees out left courting Hollywood heavyweights ever since. So why did Will Ferrell and Adam McKay decide that it was time?

Obviously there’s only one way to announce this partnership — via the daily Advertising Age newsletter to which I subscribe. There’s also YouTube. The video below looks to have been shot on location while McKay and Ferrell shoot The Other Guys. WARNING: Wahlberg.

One time I really fucked up a hand-to-hand with my drug dealer. I had done it a hundred times before with him, but this particular day it was so bad and awkward I felt inclined to inform him that I’m a huge fan of The Wire and that, as a fan of a show that prominently features the drug trade, I should have known better. WHATEVER. IT MADE SENSE AT THE TIME. This transition should go much much better I would imagine.