There Are Other Movies Happening At Sundance Not Involving James Franco

Yesterday, the Sundance Film Festival announced its out-of-competition lineup, which included a lot of hype, a lot of all-star actors and a whole lot of James Franco. In his never-ending, Zelda-esque quest to become Supreme Lord of the Film Festival, James Franco is actually involved in two out-of-competition and rather NSFW films at the festival. One of the “Park City at Midnight” films is kink, a documentary about the employees of the adult website, for which Franco worked with regular collaborator Christina Voros (Voros makes her directorial debut; Franco is signed on as a producer).

For the experimental “New Frontier” section of the festival, Franco has offered Interior. Leather Bar., which he both appears in and co-directs with Travis Mathews, who also wrote the film. In it, the directors attempt to recreate the lost gay S&M footage taken out of the 1980 film Cruising, removed to keep the film from garnering an “X” rating. I mean, it’s really only a matter of time before James Franco tries to curate his own festival of all movies involving James Franco as the star or director or EP or maybe he tries to write the soundtrack did you know he plays music now that’s a thing? Maybe he’ll come to the premieres in character. Maybe he’ll start his own filmmaking academy. Maybe eventually our national obsession with James Franco being involved in so many activities will finally come to rest, and we can all be at peace with our accomplishments. That would be nice.

But this isn’t an all-James Franco festival, because that would be boring. There are actually a lot of other talented people who have movies not in the competition. There are other documentaries, even! Including Sarah Polley’s festival-favorite Super 8-laced family tale Stories We Tell and Dror Moreh’s The Gatekeepers, a rather-relevant profile of members of the Israeli secret service. There’s S-VHS, the sequel to the acclaimed found-footage horror flick V/H/S, which will likely get a lot of play. There’s No, Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín’s look at the later years of Augusto Pinochet, a Cannes favorite featuring Gael García Bernal; Jeff Nichols’ Mud, your classic man-on-the-run-gets-help-from-teenagers story featuring Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon. The multimedia art installations from the likes of lyrical Twitterati Yung Jake and interactive light-and-sound master Rafael Lozano-Hemmer also sound pretty intriguing. Let’s see you try to do something like that, Franco.

But perhaps the most exciting batch of films are in the “Park City at Midnight” section, which includes S-VHS and kink, as well as a film involving a recently-released prisoner on the road back to family and to his new life that is even called The Rambler, a road-trip horror film, a movie about a cannibal family and Virtually Heroes, which sounds like an alternate-universe Wreck-It Ralph in which “two self-aware characters in a Call of Duty-style video game struggle with their screwy, frustrating existence.” Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon’s demon-house comedy Hell Baby, featuring a whole lot of funny people (Keegan-Michael Key, Rob Huebel, Paul Scheer, Leslie Bibb, Rob Corddry) and road-trip comedy Ass Backwards, co-starring and co-authored by June Diane Raphael and Casey Wilson (and featuring Alicia Silverstone!), round out the lineup. 

Amy Heckerling and Alicia Silverstone Reunite For ‘Vamps’

I bet you were wondering if Amy Heckerling would ever direct a follow-up to her 2000 film Loser, right? (Ha, joke’s on you, everyone who forgot about I Could Never Be Your Woman.) For those of us who were satisfied with pretending that she just retired after Clueless, today’s a very bittersweet day. The trailer for her vampire romantic comedy ("What do the kids like? Vampires?" – Amy Heckerling, 2012) has finally shown up online. The good news! Alicia Silverstone is in it!

Vamps, which boasts an impressive cast featuring Krysten Ritter (whose brilliant comedic timing makes her my personal unsung hero), Dan Stevens, Wallace Shawn (so that’s what he’s been up to!), Justin Kirk, and Sigourney Weaver, is getting a straight-to-DVD release, which means it can’t be so great. But based on the trailer, it looks pretty funny? And like a cheesy ’90s comedy, which is actually a compliment? Eh, what can you do. It’s a post-Clueless Amy Heckerling movie. I’ll take what I can get. 

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Jennifer Garner Battles Olivia Wilde in All-American Pursuit of Butter Carving

Butter, y’all! Ain’t nothin’ more American, except maybe patriotism and competition. And strippers. And Kristen Schaal (this is my America, dammit). Butter has all that and more, with an all-star cast including Jennifer Garner, Hugh Jackman, Ty Burrell, Alicia Silverstone, and Olivia Wilde. And butter carving! It’s great to see the artistic sensibility of the Midwest finally breaking into the mainstream. (Next up: deep-fried Oreos!)

Alicia Silverstone Has the Best Baby Name This Year

Okay, by best, we obviously mean worst. The Clueless star gave birth to her first child this past week, bestowing upon him the most absurd baby name of 2011 so far. And that’s saying something. Her kid’s name is Bear Blu Jarecki. Silverstone blogged an entry on her personal page yesterday announcing the birth of her son. Sadly, she didn’t reveal which fresh hell the idea for his name sprang from.

Obviously, Silverstone doesn’t stand alone when it comes to crazy Hollywood baby names. Let us not forget Sage Moonblood (Sylvester Stalone), Audio Science (Actress Shannyn Sossamon), and Buddy Bear Maurice (Jamie Oliver and Juliette Norton). For a short while, it seemed like this awful trend was taking a turn for the better. No longer.

Morning Links: Arnold Schwarzenegger & Maria Shriver Separate, Taylor Momsen Off Gossip Girl

● The new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are on their honeymoon right now, on an island somewhere surrounded by coconut groves. Where are you? [DailyMail] ● After 25 years of marriage, Arnold Schwarzennegger and Maria Shriver have separated. Shriver’s moving out of their Brentwood mansion while they “work on the future of [their] relationship”. [LA Times] ● Whitney Houston has voluntarily returned to rehab, purportedly as part of a “long-standing” recovery process. [AP/Yahoo]

● Probably much to her relief, Taylor Momsen has been released from her duties as Little J on Gossip Girl. She is now free to do whatever else it is that she does. Jessica Szohr is out after this season, too, although both are welcome back as guests. [TVLine] ● Vin Diesel “wouldn’t be surprised if there is some Oscar talk” around Fast Five because “sooner or later, people are gonna say, ‘Wait a minute, just because they are for the working class doesn’t mean they’re not great.'” Then he chuckled, “I don’t know, maybe I’m just biting off what some guy from Channel 7 thought.” [NYM] ● Alicia Silverstone named her newborn son Bear Blu Jarecki, a name that’s pretty cute for, like, a pet. [TooFab] ● Paul Thomas Anderson’s Scientology movie (once called The Master, but currently without a working name) has been picked up for distribution by the Weinstein Company, which means Harvey is probably not a secret Scientologist. [Deadline]

More Bloodsuckers, Courtesy of Amy Heckerling and Alicia Silverstone

What the world needs now is more vampire stories, no? Mercifully, film director Amy Heckerling and her former Clueless star Alicia Silverstone are poised to resolve the crisis. According to Screendaily, the soon-to-start-production, Vamps, will tell “the modern-day tale of two female vampires who live it up in New York until love enters the picture, when each has to make a choice that will jeopardise their immortality.” Somehow, a snarky variation on the old Smucker’s slogan comes to mind: “With a double entendre like that, it’s gotta be good!”

Not to disparage Heckerling or Silverstone too much, but neither of these talents have exactly been thriving during the aughts. I want desperately to like Heckerling, if for nothing else Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Clueless, but I can’t discount her having also helmed the Look Who’s Talking pictures and, albeit without credit, A Night at the Roxbury. Neither of her offerings in the new millenium were nearly as toxic as these, but they didn’t sing either. Both Loser and I Could Never Be Your Woman struck me as very earnest failures—faint praise to be sure—but at least they kept me alive to what Heckerling might be up to next. Now it seems she’s boarding the Vampire gravy train.

As for Silverstone, she has less to indemnify her against the charge of cashing in and/or terminal irrelevance. Clueless is clearly the outlier among a body of work that includes Batman and Robin, Beauty Shop, and Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. But then, to be fair, perhaps she’s due for a comeback. Silverstone’s currently on Broadway in the Donald Margulies play, “Time Stands Still”, where she’s earned some favorable reviews—nothing to sneeze at considering she’s acting opposite Laura Linney. Still, the idea seems like a longshot.

As much as I hate to make this kind of arch projection so far in advance, Vamps looks like a simultaneous attempt to rustle up some old magic and tap in of one of the more tiresome cultural trends of the zeitgeist. If it ends up being the next Let the Right One In, I vow to literally eat crow.

Links: Heidi Montag as Michael Jackson, Mischa Barton’s New York Feeling

● Spencer Pratt says wife Heidi is the Michael Jackson of 2010, whatever that means. [Celebuzz] ● Kim Kardashian will produce a reality show on what she knows best: public relations. The series will follow Kim’s pals, the heads of bicoastal agency Command Public Relations. [People] ● The lawyer of Michael Jackson’s dermatologist’s Arnold Klein reveals that Klein is “well aware” that he is the biological father of Jackson’s two children, Prince and Paris. [USMagazine]

● Judd Apatow hints that an Anchorman sequel may be in the works, possibly picking up with Ron Burgundy in his golden years. [Empire] ● Alicia Silverstone has taken a break from acting to start an eco-friendly/cruelty-free cosmetic line — something Cher Horowitz could get behind. [ContactMusic] ● Mischa Barton downplays her police-assisted hospital stay and involuntary hold: “The funny thing is, if all this happened in New York, no one would care.” [Yahoo]

Links: Denise Richards’ Bags of Fun, Evan Rachel Wood Sucks (Blood)

● What happened to Billy Corgan? He was once an icon of alternative rock … but now? He’s using former lyrics to promote PPV wrestling matches. [Youtube] ● Pharrell Williams has decided to laser all the tattoos off his arms off. [Twitter] ● Denise Richards has filmed a segment for Funny or Die about what’s she’s known for: her “funbags.” [FunnyorDie]

The Brothers Bloom has been delayed for almost a year, but director Rian Johnson is previewing the opening sequence of the Mark Ruffalo & Adrien Brody film on Hulu. [Hulu] ● Is there a Clueless sequel on its way? Evidently Alicia Silverstone and director Amy Heckerling have nothing better to do, as they were seen talking about the script while shopping. [Star] ● Evan Rachel Wood will be doing a two-episode stint on HBO vampire show True Blood. She’ll be playing Sophie-Anne, the 500-year-old vampire Queen of Louisiana. [EW]
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