Sitting Down With Elijah Wood and Franck Khalfoun to Discuss Their Bloody New Film ‘Maniac’

When it comes to unconscious feelings evoked by a film that frightens or excites us, the horrorshows that crawl under our skin and play with our nerve endings, the notion of sadness or empathy usually doesn’t fall into the deck of emotions. We watch these psychologically disturbing and oft gruesome tales through the distance of the camera, knowing that there’s a lens between their demented mind and ours, their blood-spattered world far removed from our immediate sense of danger. But with Frank Khalfoun’s twisted and powerful remake of Maniac, he transports us right into the POV of a psychotic killer, who, despite his strongest desires, just cannot control his horrific thirst.

As a lost and tremendously tortured soul with an fetish for women’s scalps, Elijah Wood plays the leading role of Frank with a delicate mania that allows us to get inside his head and feel as though we’re right there behind his eyes committing these heinous acts. With his only companions the restored and bloody-wigged porcelain figures that populate his mannequin restoration shop, Frank resides in a desolate Los Angeles landscape that’s at once lush and deeply vacant. 
 
Shot with a richness of depth and elegance in its fluidity, Maniac plays out like a nightmarish dream that you’re too entrenched in to wake up from. With an electronic and playful score by composer Rob, Khalfoun’s film slowly creeps itself way into your brain and sets off reactors of fear and anxiety but without ever pulling you out of its harrowingly entrancing story. 
 
Last week, I sat down with Wood and Khalfoun to discuss the nature of remaking classic films, the psychological effect of POV filmmaking, and finding the beauty between the blood.
 
Are you able to watch your own work or do you find it challenging to get through?
Elijah Wood: I don’t have any problem watching myself so much, I’m just so curious to see the final product. Certainly if you’ve made something your proud of it’s a gratifying experience. It’s a little overwhelming the first time because tied into the film is all the experience you had making it, so you can’t really be objective. I’ve seen this movie a few times now.
 
Well, at least with this one you don’t really have to watch yourself.
EW:
 That is a bonus, exactly.
Franck Khalfoun: It depends on the movie, really. Personally I enjoy watching it if other people are watching it. At home, no—maybe this one maybe because it’s weird and I like seeing little nuances—for the most part I like to do other things. In theaters it’s different, I like seeing how other people react and this one has been great. We have certain screenings where the genre people are there and they understand every joke, they understand everything in the film and it’s a real pleasure to watch them react. In this film, people have no idea what’s coming next  and it’s always great for fresh people to see it because they have really wonderful reactions—whether they’re totally grossed out or they find the humor. 
 
Why did you choose to make this, were you a huge fan of the original?
FK: 
I really liked the original, and the idea of making this was a terrifying for me because of the core audience and the idea that this movie’s so loved, and then just the idea of doing remakes in general. You’ve got to be real careful as a filmmaker to do something that’s already been done.
EW: He and I share the same perspective on that. I’m not a huge fan of remakes, it’s very daunting. More often than not—especially the horror genre’s mired with remakes now—they don’t really bring anything new to the table. If you’re going to remake something, you might as well make it your own.
FK: And that’s the lash back you get from the audience, that they think you’re just trying to squeeze money out of them without giving them a new experience, which is the case with a lot of films and the reason why a lot of remakes get made. 
EW: It’s a built-in audience…
FK: Thinking they can make some money. But I’m thankful for Langmann and Aja who produced the film and are two daring characters and weren’t afraid to allow us to do something different—which is not the case with anybody. Very few people I’ve met have the balls to say, oh that’s really interesting let’s take a risk on it, let’s put millions of dollars into this risk. It’s a throwback to how Hollywood was—you took a risk, you know? So I think if you do take risks and you go out on a limb and try to do something new, the audiences will respond. I know for a fact that the genre audiences are the best film audiences and they don’t just like genre movies. They dissect movies and analyze movies, but they love all movies. 
EW: They’re the most enthusiastic audiences.
FK: This was a good experience for me in particular because I always look at what’s the core of the film, what is it that we’re trying to remake or reconvey or redo and how can we do it in a cool, interesting way that’s not going to take audiences for fools?
 
Elijah, when and how did you become involved with the film?
EW: It was proposed to me from one of the producers. She said, we’d love for you to play the killer in this remake of Maniac that Alex Aja has written and you will be only seen in reflection because the entire movie will be shot in POV. That pitch fuckin sold me. Initially I wasn’t psyched at the notion of doing a remake because like he said, I’m not a huge fan of them in general. But I was so intrigued by the notion of doing something from the POV perspective and playing a character you don’t really see was exacting for me as an actor. Her proposal was like, well it’s about two weeks of work shooting your reflections, which was a little naive because I needed to be there everyday and my hands break frame a lot and I had to make choices in those regards. But I loved the script and the idea of working in a horror film is exciting, I love the genre. Getting to play a villain and delve into something dark that was a well-rounded, not a one-dimensional character felt like there was a lot to work with and it was four awesome weeks at night in downtown LA.
FK: It was one of the more pleasant shoots I’ve been on.
EW: It was super pleasant! It was great.
FK: It took a while to figure out, first you think, oh we’re only POV, we’re not covering scenes it’s going to be easy, but then it’s never what you expect. Then you get into the rhythm and you understand what things are allowed and how things will come off. I remember some days we had to figure out a rig to make this work, it was so hard technically with the choreography and the blocking and we’d end up spending half the day just figuring out how we were going to get this thing off. So that ends up taking time, but it was fun.
 
Using POV not only felt very unique and new, but for this film specifically and this character, it made you feel for him so much more. You understood that what he was doing was really something he couldn’t control, and I feel like if you had seen it from an outside perspective you wouldn’t have sympathized for him. Even though he does these horrific things, you’re with him inside his head.
EW: You’re spending time with his internal life.
 
And you see him try to control it and how quickly he escalates into being out of control. POV was a great way to give you another side to him.
FK: That was exactly the goal, so, good. However, my worry was that because you don’t see him, you might not empathize with him. But I think the little doses that you do get to see him throughout the movie—whether it’s a reflection or a dream or an out of body experience—you’re getting a glimpse and, without even thinking about it, the audience starts wondering when you’ll see him next. So you’re getting attached to the next time you’re going to see the character and that is exciting because it’s always different and keeps you engaged.
EW: It’s also a reminder that it’s POV too, because it’s shot so beautifully and so gracefully that at times you forget it’s POV and I really like that. Maxime didn’t go overboard with making the camera feel like it was attached t a body at all times and it was totally a stylistic choice, but it works so wonderfully.Even shots when he’s walking, he’s on a segue so he’s just floating and it adds a really interesting equality to the film. I like that you occasionally forget and you’re not being barraged by it being POV for first person.
FK: We had long discussions about how erratic it would be and how it would take you out of the film, which is what a lot o these found footage, behind the camera movies do. They start shaking so much for no reason. The wonderful thing about what we do, every frame tells a story—not just the movie, every frame—and the way that camera’s handled and the lens you pick, everything really is specific. Now with young filmmakers who have such access to making movies, they don’t really study the technique and what emotion images are going to create, and they think you can just shoot and do whatever and it works. Often it does, but for the majority of the time there’s a real technique.
EW: There’s definitely a cinema language.
FK: Of course, and people relate to it but it also evolves. Seeing a film in POV fifteen years ago would have been too distracting for people, but now culturally with all these found footage movies and first player video games, a language has opened up—but it still changes. 
 
What else did you discuss cinematography-wise for film’s aesthetic and also the landscape in which you shot it.
FK: I wanted it to be lush and beautiful. There’s a thing about downtown LA, it’s beautiful but you don’t realize it and especially at night when it’s all covered in darkness and you really stop and look at a building and look up, you’re like wow, these old buildings from the 20s and 30s are spectacular. And right next to them are these modern buildings, so it’s the old and the new connected—the rich and the poor, the duality of downtown. The movie needed to be really beautiful but dark and if you were to raise the lights in the movie you would see how plush the sets are. 
 
Like his bedroom and the wallpaper.
FK: Yeah. I just wanted it to be on the edge of darkness, I told Maxime everything should be just on the edge, just the way he is. And the city is like that and mostly he’s out at night in the city. I thought also the beauty of the film—the serenity and the elegance of the film—would be important in juxtaposition to the graphic horror. The first ten or fifteen minutes is beautiful to look at, and it sucks you in and then lets you have it with the violence. And the same with the music. The whole movie seduces you into this false sense of security and then it lets you have it and that’s very close to the character too. There’s an innate beauty about him.
 
Yeah, Rob was telling me wanted to convey and innocence and beauty, which is not what you’d expect.
FK: But it’s humanity, it’s the beauty of all people that have been scarred and that are stuck between light and dark. 
EW: Rob did a fantastic job with the music, it’s really wonderful. I was so excited at the prospect of an electronic score because the 70s and 80s were filled with those kind of scores for horror films, which are typically not employed anymore. So it was really exciting, the prospect of doing something that had that sense of being a little bit of  throwback and nostalgic for that time period. He did such a beautiful job. It’s haunting but it does convey an innocence too, it’s really lovely. In tandem with the way the film is shot and also the environment of downtown LA, it just creates such an interesting atmosphere. It’s almost a character in and of itself.
 
With horror films, the music often tends to feel so manipulative and this was not in any way, this just wove its way through the story on its own. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack quite a lot and you can really separate it from the film as well.
FK: It’s certainly unorthodox in every way in terms of being a genre or scary movie. Besides for the one little cheap scare we tried to put in there, for the most part really it creeps up on you, it doesn’t jump at you, it’s a slow creep into this mind. 
 
So even though so much of your work is outside the shot, were you still on set the whole time? And how much were the women just playing to the camera?
EW: Almost entirely, If it wasn’t a dream sequence or a memory, it was entirely to camera—which is interesting because they had a much different experience than I did. I was behind camera and had the benefit of looking at them even though they weren’t looking at me. But they were looking at the lens, which I hadn’t really thought about until recently but that’s a total abstraction as well. We would block every scene out traditionally so we at least had moments as actors working with each other and from there they certainly felt my presence, but it’s still a funny thing. I just did a film where the majority of the film I’m looking at a camera and it’s bizarre, it’s a weird abstract thing. 
 
Besides the original, did you have any other films you looked to for tone or feeling?
FK: Wow, no. No, I mean maybe a little bit of the way The Shining is poised—

And how it creeps up on you.
FK: 
My focus was on trying to create a world where you were just swallowed up into it, and a character that you felt compassion for. That’s what struck me the most from the original, was how I really felt bad for this guy and it marked me at the end of the movie. Like, wait a second this guy just killed a bunch of women and I feel bad for him? That was a statement in itself. I don’t know about me as a man, but I was with him and so that’s very dangerous. A movie not recommended for young minds.

That’s why the ending felt like a happy one to me—it was a relief for him.
FK: That’s interesting. It’s true. He does have this almost very satisfied or peace to him at the end finally—which I find tragic. 
 
You changed the flashback scenes, how did you want them to be different or more modern?
FK: When I first read the script he had cigarette scars and burns. It was very sort of 1950s, like keeping you locked up in your closet. So rather than physical abuse, I think an audience would connect more to neglect.
EW: Physical abuse would have come off as a bit of a cliche.
FK: As opposed to neglect, which to me, a lot of people can relate to nowadays. Your parents didn’t hit you but they weren’t there, it’s kind of the same thing.
EW: That can be as emotionally scarring.
 
And the way his mother was, it would make sense why he might end up with these psychosexual issues.
FK: Somebody said to me, "Oh, it’s always about the mom, it’s always the women!" I was like, I don’t know.
 
Well, the father wasn’t there so that’s his fault too.
FK: Yeah, I don’t want to say his mother’s responsible for him turning out the way that he did, but she certainly didn’t lay the best foundation. I think parents can be the blame somewhat. We forget to nurture our children and to love them, and maybe if that can come across in this film we’ve done a little something for humanity—which is always something I think about no matter the subject matter. I go, what really in the end can we say, what is it that we can pull out of this? Yes, we had fun and it was cool but did we make a statement about something, can somebody find something else in here that’s useful and insightful?
 
You’ve played so many different kinds of roles throughout your career, but this certainly seemed like a challenge. Was doing something more dangerous and violent an attraction for you?
EW: That was definitely part of the intrigue I had for the project, because it’s not a character I’ve ever played before and as an actor I’m always looking for something new and challenging to delve into that. And there’s also the horror film fan in me loved the idea that we got to work with prosthetics and scalps and blood, I love all that shit. Especially the end death set pieces, it was awesome and really fun.

Chatting With Composer Rob on Scoring the Hair-Raising Thriller ‘Maniac’

When it comes to the most immersive and memorable film scores, the beauty comes in their ability to transcend the screen. The compositions that you listen to long after the credits roll, the ones that stay with you, evoke that specific cinematic sense of pleasure and grandiose feeling that comes with a truly remarkable piece of music created for a very specific moment on film. A good score is not supposed to be manipulative, rather, it should bring you into the psychological landscape of the characters, absorbing you into the world of the film with ease. And with Frank Khalfoun’s bloody good new horror thriller Maniac, French composer Rob grabs us from the first moment of the film with his trance-inducing synth-fueled tones and melodic textures that harken back to a bygone era of midnight cinema.

As the remake of Bill Lustig’s grimy 1980-set horror thriller of the same title, Khalfoun’s film—which stars Elijah Wood—transports the original to a dismal Los Angeles landscape, giving a modern spin to the gruesome tale of a homicidal loner with a twisted fixation with scalps. And with Rob’s moody and melancholic electronic score, that sense of psychological terror and creepy thrill is only amplified. And last week, while taking a moment’s break from touring with Phoenix, Rob and I got to chat about his childhood connection with the film, the personality of the score, and the endless possibilities of composing.

How did your music make its way into the film?
Alexandre Aja, the producer and writer of Maniac, asked me very simply one day. He had listened to another score I did for a French movie called Belle Épine and he loved it and asked me if I was interested in doing this. I  didn’t even hesitate for one second, I said yes right away because doing a soundtrack for a horror movie was a fantasy for me. I was also a bit traumatized as a kid by the original, so I was very excited to be involved.

Did you try to mirror the tone or feel of the original at all? Or was composing for this film a way to do something entirely new?
I tried to not listen to it at all so that I wouldn’t get too inspired by the original, but I knew what was very interesting in it is that you penetrate the mind, mood and world of the maniac. Your point of view is to feel empathy with that guy instead of the victim—I thought that was the key point in composing the music. So I wanted to do something very melancholic and sentimental that’s related to his childhood trauma—very naive melodies and a very soft and childish mood, so that it can contrast with the violence and the horror.

That’s an interesting mix: melancholic and personal in a way that’s still exciting in a thriller sort of way.
Absolutely. That’s why this movie is so strong, the way you feel watching it is so bizarre because you feel very sad but not what you’re supposed to be sad for. You’re not shocked because of the images, you feel so bad because it’s a nightmare and we’re in his head when we watch it.

Did you read the script before you stared composing? When did you begin the process?
I was lucky enough to be a part of the whole process, so I had the script and also I received the rushes from LA everyday. It went all along with me and it was very nice. I was already very excited then just to see things like light they used, the way they shot, it made things very easy for me and it was very nice. I actually composed all the main music before the end of shooting. The whole process was great.

Scoring a film such as this is even more interesting because it’s entirely POV, so your really subjected to the characters—the maniac—and you’re inhabiting his world at all times and the music has to mirror that for you.
Yeah, we’ve been lucky to find the right angle to do the movie and the music. I was in touch with Alexnadre a lot and we shared this desire for a naive and childish thing to add in the movie—the fact that everything is related to the childhood of the character and his naivety. The music I made could be music for a French cartoon during the 80s, the kind of cartoons we were watching growing up. So it was very instinctive for us and very easy because when you’re a kid everyone thinks that it’s easy and it’s only fun and joy, but actually, everything is scary. Of course you’re joyful when you’re a kid, but you’re also filled with complex fear and nightmares. So that’s the part Alexandre and I tried to explore.

Did you have any direct sonic references when composing? It does harken back to an 1980s horror sound.
Not really, no. The only name drops we had during conversations were Giorgio Moroder, but then obviously we all love movies and the music of John Carpenter. I also love Goblin—who did all of Dario Argento’s stuff—so that’s the kind of music I love to listen to anyway, even when it’s not for a horror movie. It also eases the process of composing because I already love that kind of music which is always very melodic and moody or sentimental, it’s not like proper horror movie. I’m not into that and I didn’t want to do some stressful music, I wanted to do a contrast.

And it’s not manipulative in any way, it just glides with your through his eyes.
Yeah, that’s the thing, just trying to be sensitive and to really feel and get in your blood and in your mind and that should never be explaining what you’re watching but just make you feel.

Do you enjoy the juxtaposition of film scoring and touring around the world with a band?
Absolutely. I have to admit that I’m very lucky because the balance of being alone in my studio and getting very involved in movies, you spend a lot of time alone, but now I’m playing with a successful band touring in front of a huge crowd—it’s just wonderful. But I like composing for movies because the possibilities you have and the different experience working on movie is more interesting than anything else because its always something different.

Who else do you find yourself influenced by?
I love Philip Glass and I’m a big fan of that kind of repetitive music of Steve Reich. Also many french composers from the New Wave, like all the composers for Truffaut and Godard.

BlackBook Exclusive: See the New Poster for Franck Khalfoun’s ‘Maniac’

Ever since its premiere at Cannes over a year ago, Franck Khalfoun’s blood-spattered POV slasher film Maniac has kept horror enthusiasts buzzing with anticipation for its US debut. And after multiple clips and trailers have been released, teasing us with the dark fetish pleasures of the Elijah Wood-led serial killer flick, the film will finally see its release on June 21st courtesy of IFC Midnight.

As the remake of Bill Lustig’s grimy 1980-set horror thriller of the same title, Khalfoun’s film transports the original to a dismal Los Angeles landscape, giving a modern spin to the gruesome tale of a homicidal loner with a twisted fixation with scalps. For those who only know him as Frodo from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Wood isn’t the first person you’d pin to the role of creepy murderer, but after taking on a series of dark characters as of late, he seems to be stepping into the bloody role just fine. 
 
With a pulsating and ominous soundtrack that recalls classic ’80s thrillers, exciting your nerves and upping your heart rate, the original score for Maniac is done to eerie perfection by French composer Rob. And today, we’re pleased to premiere the latest theatrical poster for the film, which was designed by Art Machine. Showing only half of Wood’s angular face, we get a clean taste of his demonic desire for scalps in against a neon-lit Los Angeles nightscape. 
 
Check out the new Maniac poster and the film’s official synopsis below:
Just when the streets seemed safe, a serial killer with a fetish for scalps is back and on the hunt.  Frank (Elijah Wood) is the withdrawn owner of a mannequin store, but his life changes when young artist Anna (Nora Arnezeder) appears asking for his help with her new exhibition.  As their friendship develops and Frank’s obsession escalates, it becomes clear that she has unleashed a long-repressed compulsion to stalk and kill.  A 21st century Jack the Ripper set in present day L.A., Franck Khalfoun’s MANIAC, produced by Alexandre Aja (THE HILLS HAVE EYES, HAUTE TENSION), and composed by Rob of the band "Phoenix", is a re-boot of the William Lustig cult film considered by many to be the most suspensseful slasher movie ever made – an intimate, visually daring, psychologically complex and projoundly horrific trip into the downward spiralling nightmare of a killer and his victims.
 
df
 

See Elijah Wood Get Bloody in the First US Trailer for ‘Maniac’

I’m not quite sure what world I am living in, but when it comes to Elijah Wood, whenever I hear his name, my mind immediately wanders to Flipper or The Ice Storm or The Faculty, as if the past decade or Lord of the Rings Trilogy never existed. But as we’ve seen Wood transform from a big-eyed child star to a vaguely creepy, vaguely older looking dude, he has begun to take on darker and more disturbed roles from Wilfred to Sin City. But now, with the remake of Bill Lustig’s 1980 horror thriller, Maniac, Wood is taking his freakish side to a bloodier level.

The remake “is transplanted from the grimy New York of the late seventies to the desolate wasteland of Los Angeles—you can catch a glimpse of the famed 2nd Street Tunnel, which you may recognize from Blade Runner and The Terminator,” putting a gruesome modern spin on the tale. The film centers around a homicidal loner with a fetish for scalps. The owner of a mannequin shop, he lives amongst the non-living figures as his obsession grows when he meets a young female artist. Sidenote: when I hear anything about mannequins on film, my brain automatically compares it to this (8:50):

 
And now, with the film’s release coming up in June, there’s a twisted new trailer for you to enjoy (or to freak you out). And actually, I’m pretty excited for the soundtrack for this. The film’s official synopsis reads:
A 21st century Jack the Ripper set in the present day, MANIAC is a reboot of the cult film considered by many to be the most suspenseful slasher movie ever made. Frank (Elijah Wood, in a tour de force performance) is the withdrawn owner of a mannequin store, but his life changes when young artist Anna appears asking for his help with her new exhibition. As their friendship develops and Frank’s obsession escalates and the number of victims increases, it becomes clear that Frank is far more dangerous than he seems. With a pulsating electronic score by Rob, the film is an intimate, visually daring, psychologically complex and profoundly horrific trip into the downward spiraling nightmare of a killer and his victims.

Watch Elijah Wood Get Bloody in the Trailer for ‘Maniac’

I just finished watching The Ice Storm, so I’m still a little tender about Elijah Wood. However, throughout the years, Wood’s evolution from big-eyed child star to vaguely creepy dude has been a steady climb. And speaking as someone who has never watched a Lord of the Rings movie, my first thoughts on him always go from Flipper to The Faculty—obviously not his best work. But in recent years, Wood has taken on some darker adult roles between his FX series Wilfred and Sin City, save his voice work in Happy Feet. But now, with the remake of Bill Lustig’s 1980 horror thriller, Maniac, Wood is taking his freakish side to a bloodier level.

The remake “is transplanted from the grimy New York of the late seventies to the desolate wasteland of Los Angeles — you can catch a glimpse of the famed 2nd Street Tunnel, which you may recognize from Blade Runner and The Terminator,” putting a gruesome modern spin on the tale. The film centers around a homicidal loner with a fetish for scalps. The owner of a mannequin shop, he lives amongst the non-living figures as his obsession grows when he meets a young female artist. Sidenote: when I hear anything about mannequins on film, my brain automatically compares it to this:

 

 

 

Anyhow, Maniac looks to be an aesthetically pleasing and gross psychological thrill ride from actor/director Franck Khalfoun—yes, everyone loves a good sexually-charged horror now and again. Plus, the bits of voiceover and dialogue in the trailer are extra creepy coming from the soft vocal tones of Wood. The film has yet to see a US release date but will hit French theaters just in time for Christmas.

 

 

Daniel Radcliffe In Slow Club’s “Beginners” and Other Celebrities in Music Videos

After Shia LaBoeuf bared all for Sigur Ros yesterday, Daniel Radcliffe is the latest movie star to feature in a music video. In the clip for folk-pop duo Slow Club’s typically gorgeous track “Beginners,” Radcliffe has a dramatic breakdown in a pub, all filmed in one take. (If the teeth-gnashing and fist-shaking weren’t clear enough, it’s obvious that his character is in a bad place from his Hawaiian shirt.) Watch “Beginners” below, and check out some other music videos with celebrity guests.

Slow Club – “Beginners”

 

The Shoes – “Time To Dance”
Jake Gyllenhaal channels Patrick Bateman as he goes on a killing spree soundtracked by the French dance-pop duo the Shoes.

The Apples In Stereo – “Dance Floor”
This isn’t another Daniel Radcliffe clip; it’s Elijah Wood being transported through time and space to meet indie-pop stalwarts the Apples in Stereo.

Brandon Flowers – “Crossfire”
Killers frontman Brandon Flowers never did anything on a small scale, so it made sense to have Charlize Theron play a warrior on a mission in this video for one of his solo songs. Her?

Father John Misty – “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”
Aubrey Plaza gets angry, bites/throws things, and goes through some sort of party/nightmare hybrid.

Vampire Weekend – “Giving Up The Gun”
This earlier foray sees Jake Gyllenhaal brandishing a tennis racket in one hand and a handle of whiskey in the other. The video also features cameos from RZA, Lil Jon, and Joe Jonas.

Watch Elijah Wood & More Explain the Death & Return of Superman

Max Landis, son of Animal House director John Landis, wrote the screenplay for Chronicles, a movie about three high school students with superpowers.  To help drum up buzz for the flick, which came out this weekend, he released a short film called The Death and Return of Superman.  Don’t give a crap about the Man of Steel?  Elijah Wood, Mandy Moore, Simon Pegg, Ron Howard, and a few more recognizable faces are in it.

The short lampoons the 1992 storyline that killed off and brought back the hero. It also involves a lot of whiskey. 

The Black List: Ten Things that Irritate Elijah Wood

In this month’s new FX comedy series, Wilfred, actor Elijah Wood stars as an unemployed, suicidal sad-sack who converses (and a whole lot more) with the neighborhood dog. He’ll soon reenter Frodo’s world in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, but here, with a bitch list of his top-10 irritants, Wood proves himself lord of the zing.

1. Remakes and reboots. Have we not the balls to support original material? Why must the vast majority of our unique pieces be relegated to minuscule budgets and poor exposure, while hundreds of millions of dollars are put toward rehashing used ideas? How about we even out the budgeting a bit. Remember when we chose a little-known Polish director to helm a film about the devil impregnating Mia Farrow? 2. Doing the bare minimum of one’s job description. I once had a heavy crate delivered. The delivery man set it on the sidewalk in front of my house. It being far too heavy for one person to move on his own, I asked if he would help move it to my driveway. He replied by saying that he’d done his job, then begrudgingly helped move it as if he were doing me a favor. Nope, not extra. Still your job.

3. Anti-smoking laws that now extend to outdoor spaces. Can we not let the use of free air be determined by the people using it? Should someone have a problem with roving smoke, they could simply ask the offending smoker if he or she would kindly refrain. Most spaces are smoke-free, and I accept that—particularly inside restaurants—but can smokers not have patios and general outdoor areas?

4. Truncated texting. Most of us have full keyboards on our magical mobile devices—use them. It was understandable on numbered keypads and even forgivable with the aid of T9. But now? C u l8r? No, you won’t.

5. Orcs. Ugly fuckers.

6. (Most) clubs. Crowds of people dressed in their finery, standing outside, lining up around the block yearning for acceptance—only to enter a loud space with predominantly awful music, bottle service, and neither the room to move nor the ability to utter words that can be heard without shouting. I’ve often wondered why hordes flock to these overstyled douche cantinas.

7. When people aren’t held accountable for their actions. If you fuck up, deal with it—it’s your responsibility. Somehow we’ve created a world where a person spills coffee on himself, sues the coffee company, and wins.

8. Relationship statuses on Facebook. Breaking up with someone in the real world is hard enough. There’s no need to do it digitally. That there’s some weight attached to changing your status from “in a relationship” to “single” is ridiculous.

9. My printer. It refuses to wirelessly speak to my computer. I’ve tried at various times to get the two to chat and take on basic tasks together, such as printing a document or scanning a photo. It even insists on stubbornly refusing my attempts to start a healthy USB-free dialogue between the two. Bastard.

10. Clutter. Why do you accumulate? I have utter disdain for you, yet I am to blame for your existence. A conundrum. (Oh, and: Complaining. Just shut up and deal with it. No one wants to hear it.)

Shirley Manson & Elijah Wood Do ‘Mad Men’ Chic

So even if former Garbage frontwomanturned-sometime TV actress Shirley Manson’s solo album is still stitched up in limbo somewhere, it’s a relief to see her filling the interim with worthwhile side projects. She’s sharing stylespace with Elijah Wood. The pair (and their eyewear) are the focal point of the Oliver Peoples Spring Resort 2010 Collection.

Clearly taking a sartorial cue from the extended success of Mad Men (what isn’t?), the series of ads was photographed by Autumn de Wilde. Wilde’s past clients include Vanity Fair. Her subjects include everyone from The White Stripes to Rodarte.

Those seeking a livelier incarnation of Manson that finds her revisiting her rock roots may find her singing alongside Gwen Stefani. Or else, they may have to make do with Guitar Hero 5. As demonstrated below.