Listen to Jake Gyllenhaal Read You ‘The Great Gatsby’

In case you were worried about clamoring to finally read The Great Gatsby or were simply looking to brush up on a beloved text before May 12th, never to fear—Jake Gyllenhaal will read it for you. In conjunction with Baz Luhrmann’s highly-anticipate and lavish adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel waltzing into theaters soon enough, there’s a new audiobook version of the original material for you to feast your ears on. Described as "a series of definitive recordings of the Fitzgerald canon in association with the Fitzgerald Estate," the Gyllenhaal-version is set to debut May 7th. In addition, Tender is the Night and The Love of the Last Tycoon are also apparently up for a new audio tracking, although which actor will take on those works is still a mystery.

But before we listen to Gatsby, let’s look back on some other celebrities who have lent their voices to great audio books.

Jeremy Irons, Lolita

Alan Rickman, The Return of the Native

Orson Welles, Moby Dick

Sissy Spacek, To Kill a Mockingbird

This CBGB Movie Looks Kind Of Ridiculous (But You’ll Probably See It Anyway)

So the poster for CBGB, Randal Miller’s upcoming cinematic take on the legendary club and its owner, Hilly Kristal, was released today, prompting another NYC cultural institution to declare: "If you’re the type of cynical punk asshole who thinks the movie about CBGB can’t be anything but terrible, well GOOD NEWS, the movie’s poster essentially proves you right." The whole thing has a very Rock of Ages-meets-Purim Carnival feel about it (Paste‘s Bonnie Stiernberg compared it to the "rock and roll" section of a Party City catalog, A+), and even with Alan Rickman, who can do no wrong, the whole thing just seems, well, ridiclous. The poses! Oh, the poses! At least the captions for Debbie Harry and Iggy Pop are things the two of them really said. 

There’s the Justin Bartha crotch-grab, which actually does look like he’s auditioning for Rock of Ages or maybe some boy band. Joel David Moore’s Joey Ramone has this weird Very Mary-Kate thing going on. And not pictured is Johnny Galecki, who although is playing someone on the business side, dude was in The Big Bang Theory, and if there’s one thing that is not punk rock at all, it’s CBS. Rupert Grint really does kind of look like Cheetah Chrome, though. Regardless, even if this movie is as lulzy as the poster makes it seem like it will be, you’ll probably see it out of some morbid curiosity or just to hear some jams. Or maybe it will capture the sort of irreverence and goofiness that existed in the club’s spirit. Whatever. It’s your call. 

If you want to see some awesomeness happening at the real CBGB, here’s Talking Heads performing "Psycho Killer" there in 1975. Enjoy. Happy Friday.

Rating The Plot Lines In ‘Love Actually’

It’s the day before Christmas and all through the house are the sounds of Love Actually coming from the living room, because tradition in our house is for my mother to watch that movie over and over again while I hide in my room and listen to normal music. I have seen this damn movie so many times. At first I loved it. Then I found it slightly annoying. And now I hate it. But let’s be real: it’s not all bad. Here’s a quick little guide to the best and worst story lines in this madcap Christmas romantic comedy.

GREAT: Harry and Karen

This is definitely the best plot line of the film. Can’t we all agree? First of all, of course Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson would have the best/worst marriage in cinema. It only makes sense for that marriage to be depicted in the best/worst Christmas movie ever made. But not only is this story the strongest, writing wise, it’s consistently the one that tears everyone apart. The scene in which Karen discovers that her husband is probably cheating on her with his tarty (tarty! British!) secretary and she cries along to Joni Mitchell? Don’t act like you haven’t dramatically reacted to every minor life crisis the exact same way.

AWFUL: Jamie and Aurelia

Colin Firth is all Mister Darcy over the fact that his girlfriend sleeping with his brother, so he has to run away to sunny France for Christmas so he can spend the holiday alone and write a novel on his typewriter. Who uses a typewriter?! This ain’t Brooklyn, Jamie. Luckily, he has a hot Portuguese cleaning lady who he falls in love with, and it’s an interesting take on class status in Europe. Ha ha, just kidding, but isn’t it hilarious when Jamie can’t speak Portugese really well at the end? (Nope.)

GREAT: David and Natalie

Sure, it’s kind of weird that this plot line about the Prime Minister and a member of his staff devotes a few scenes to the Iraq war and disparages the United States presidency with a composite of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton (Southern, ass-grabbing) played by Billy Bob Thornton. And then, you know, the Prime Minister falls in love with someone on his staff. But he doesn’t grab her ass! Instead, he dances to the Pointer Sisters. (Ah, those Brits, always making me ask the question, “Is he gay or just English?”) But Hugh Grant is adorable as hell in this, and props to the since-unseen Martine McCutcheon for looking cute as a button and looking like a normal human woman with a real, bangin’ body.  

AWFUL: Sarah and Karl

Why does Laura Linney live in London? What is going on with her mentally ill brother? Why does he call so much? Why does she have a thing for Karl? (OK, that answer is obvious.) Why does Karl string her along? Why does Karl drop her based entirely on the fact that she has a mentally ill brother who calls her too much? I dunno, Karl, maybe you not be a dick for a second and a half and realize that maybe you could take the lady out on a date instead of just trying to bang her after the company holiday party? Or maybe Sarah should wise up and realize that Karl—his name is Karl, for Christ’s sake—is kind of a jag off and maaaaybe she shouldn’t shit where she eats? She already has enough on her plate with her brother, you know?

GREAT: Daniel and Sam

How awkward is it to watch Love Actually now that Natasha Richardson has died? Obviously Liam Neeson’s character would deal with the death of his wife by breaking the necks of a lot of evil Europeans. Or wolves, or something. Luckily, this story line focuses on the love between Daniel and his stepson, Sam. Sam, who is the most adorable child in the history of film, steals everyone’s hearts with his sad face and his mussy hair and his obsession with the American girl who is really only in this movie to remind everyone how awesome “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is. But like Harry and Karen’s story, this plot line is one of the best because it walks the line between heartwarming and heartbreaking.

THE WORST: Mark, Juliet, and Peter

Hey, Mark? If you’re in love with your best friend’s new wife, maybe you should stop hanging around them and filming their wedding and showing up at the door to profess your love to her with some silly Bob Dylan-style speech-with-cue-cards thing. ‘Cause that is some bullllllllshit. You are a terrible person. And Juliet? Don’t think you’re off the hook for kissing him. I know you think he’s sweet and everything, but you have a husband inside the house—right there inside the house—so maybe you shouldn’t participate in his terrible, evil best friend’s efforts to break you two apart because he’s kind of a selfish, sad puppy of a man. And Peter? Pull your head out of your ass. Shit is going down all around you and you’re too busy organizing choirs to sing to your wife. 

GREAT: John and Judy

Tits, basically. And Martin Freeman. So thumbs up!

THE WEIRDEST: Billy Mack and Joe

We can blame this movie for Bill Nighy’s weird career, right? But even I don’t even know what the hell is going on in this one. Sure, I’m beginning to get "Christmas Is All Around" stuck in my head for the rest of the week, and a British bromance is darling, I suppose. But nothing about the resolution of this story—basically, the image of two old Brits sitting around on Christmas eve, hugging and watching porn together—makes me want to do anything but vomit all of the cinematic eggnog I’ve willingly accepted for nearly two-and-a-half hours. 

Follow Tyler Coates on Twitter

CBGB’s Regulars Talk Biopic Casting

It was revealed earlier this week that a feature film about iconic Manhattan rock club CBGB’s is in the works, but more surprising than the fact that a movie about the legendary venue was in the works was the news that Alan Rickman—the actor a whole generation of filmgoers knows only as Professor Snape—would be playing CBGB’s owner Hilly Kristal.

Whenever an actor is cast to play the role of a real person, it can cause some controversy. And when that real person is as beloved and revered as Kristal, things can get messy. So we decided to check in with some old-time CBGB’s regulars to see what they think of the casting – and how they might do things differently.

James Sliman (former Kristal employee and tour manager for The Dead Boys): “I’m not really that familiar with Alan Rickman’s work, but I’m sure he’ll do a fine job with a good script and the right director… Alan Rickman certainly has the right look for Hilly, but I have to say, I would probably have chosen Philip Seymour Hoffman for the role. I just saw him in Death of a Salesman on Broadway and I know he could actually become Hilly, in all aspects of Hilly’s personality. He also has that downtown New York thing about him. No matter who plays Hilly, I can’t wait to see the film.”

Bebe Buell (model, musician, former Playboy Playmate): "I think I would prefer to see John Mayer in the role, because he’s got Hilly’s height and majestic quality and I’m sure he could pull off Hilly’s baritone voice. He would be my first choice. What many people don’t know about Hilly is he was a great singer & guitar player, so there you go!”

Cheetah Chrome (The Dead Boys): "Wait a minute – the guy who played Snape, is going to be Hilly? The guy is older than [Stiv] Bators would be, is Hilly gonna be 70 through the whole movie? So is Daniel Radcliffe playing Stiv? Hell, get Johnny Depp to play me!”

‘Seminar’: A Hilarious, If Unsurprising, New Play

There’s a scene in Theresa Rebeck’s new play Seminar, in which Lily Rabe’s Kate, having just had the story she’s spent six years writing eviscerated by the mean-spirited Leonard (played by the sharp-tongued Alan Rickman), emerges on clutching a two-litre bottle of Diet Coke, a bag of chips, and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. "I’m depressed and I’m trying to make myself feel better. Is that all right with you?" she yells at Martin, an aspiring writer who is also paying Leonard $5,000 to critique his work. The moment gets a huge laugh. The scene, along with a third-act set change from a glorious Upper West Side apartment to a cluttered and dark downtown loft space, is one of the surprises in Seminar, a hilariously acted and handsome production of a conventional, unsurprising comedy. 

The image of an uptight, female Manhattanite reacting to the verbal destruction of her creative output’s limited worldview with junk food isn’t an especially shocking one, and it’s an example of several stock characteristics that fill up Seminar. Rabe and the rest of the cast handle these stereotypes gracefully, injecting their roles with a humanity that is surprising to find in a satire. Joining Rabe and Rickman are three accomplished actors making their Broadway debuts: Hamish Linklater as the awkward Martin, a Brooklyn literary type struggling with a fear of rejection; Jerry O’Connell as the pretentious Douglas, the nephew of a famous, unnamed author; and Hettienne Park as the sexy Izzy, who is the object of the three men’s amorous affections. 

Plenty of moments in Rebeck’s script touch on familiar themes of creative frustration and existentialism. The four young students in the seminar struggle with their own authenticity as Leonard, an accomplished novelist turned magazine writer who brags of his excursions in third-world countries, blasts them for not exploring topics outside of their own comfort zones. Martin, perhaps the most fully developed character, deals with his crippling fear of failure by keeping his work to himself and attacking Douglas for his pedestrian and showy approach to the craft. He’s an intellectual and literary idealist, and the establishment and utlimate collapse of rapport with Leonard allows Rebeck to take a subtle look at the larger career of a fiction writer. While Rickman and Rabe are the stars of the show, Linklater delivers a standout performance.

The major issue, of course, is that anyone who has been in a creative writing seminar will recognize that it’s not quite possible for a character to read handfuls of sentences and applaud an entire text as exquisite. Yet that happens several times in the play: Grand pronouncements of brilliance are delivered by characters who glanced at the material for just seconds. The stories are never read aloud for the audience’s benefit, so it’s difficult to see those moments as anything other than a flaw in the narrative. Having said that, Seminar is a satire, one that runs for less than two hours, and a couple of literary readings would definitely bring the production to a standstill. The play already suffers from an uneven momentum, with the first half’s speedy dialogue a misleading introduction to the second half’s slow, somewhat serious tone. 

Despite the script’s flaws, Seminar makes for a compelling and hilarious night of theater thanks to the ensemble’s performances and Sam Gold’s near-perfect direction. Rebeck succeeds at crafting smart and snappy dialogue, peppered with enough middle-brow cultural references to make even your average TKTS receipt-carrying philistine feel like an academic by the show’s end.

‘Precious’ to ‘Basterds’: Sinister Villains to Make Mark This Oscar Season

Oh, look. Awards! Bestowed by a tight-knit coterie of L.A.-based film critics! And, lo! More awards! This time, conferred by some folks in Boston. A common thread among the breakout winners? A dastardly streak that makes Heath Ledger’s Joker seem warm and cuddly. This awards season, it pays to be a ruthless villain. A few obvious and unlikely picks after the break.

Mo’Nique. Originally, there was some speculation about whether the comedienne was being too precious about where she chose to hawk Precious. But her searing, hairy armpit performance as mortifying matriarch Mary was enough to silence such concerns, and she’s already started racking up honors.

• Alan Rickman. Probably afflicted with the same kind of curse that plagued Lord of the Rings until its last installment scooped up a healthy lot of major awards, Harry Potter may finally be an Oscar candidate. The latest film’s overwhelmingly positive reviews, for Rickman as the cruel Severus Snape in particular, and the fact that Oscar viewership spikes whenever blockbuster movies end up nominated, makes a nod for Rickman more likely than ever before.

• The Manhattan Media Complex. Sure, the implosion of print media means that not many New York based magazines are taking awards home, but that doesn’t mean R.J. Cutler’s The September Issue can’t. Issue, about the making of one installment of Vogue, is an excellent documentary, though its 2009 release date made it work best as a cruel anachronism, or unintentional dark comedy, reminding us of insanely flush times of a not-so-distant-era before the meltdown. Putting Anna Wintour at the heart of the film is an excellent way to win Oscar sympathies–voters are suckers for morally complex protagonists.

Christoph Waltz. Waltz’s Colonel Landa from Inglourious Basterds was the exact opposite of Mo’Nique’s Mary. He was slow-burning to start, but when he pulled the trigger, he proved to be just as explosive. Even more dastardly, he’s a Nazi. Hollywood reverse-likes those.