This Week’s L.A. Happenings: Trois Mec & Bronzed Aussie Open, Jack Black At Largo

NOW: Trois Mec
Get familiar with Trois Mec’s web site. In fact, bookmark it now. It’s the only way you can get "tickets" to Ludo Lefebvre’s new restaurant inside a former pizza joint. The French king of pop-up restaurants and the familiar face on any of those food shows (Top Chef Masters, The Taste, his own Ludo Bites America) is dishing out a prix-fixe tasting menu for a maximum 26 guests a night.

Tickets to Trois Mec (716 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood) are $75 per person. Tickets must be bought on the web site every other Friday for the immediate following two-week period. For more information on Trois Mec, visit the BlackBook Guides.

MONDAY: Bronzed Aussie Opens Downtown
How to speak Australian: eat a freakin’ meat pie. Apparently it’s a thing in the motherland, and now Angelenos can get their hands on savory, puff pastries with the opening of the new, tiny joint Bronzed Aussie. Expect plenty of meat (pepper steak, lamb, etc) with veggie options to boot. 

Bronzed Aussie (714A S. Los Angeles St., Downtown) is now open. For more information, visit the listing at BlackBook Guides.

SUNDAY: Jack Black At Largo
The second annual “A Night of (At Least) 18 Laughs” at Largo features top comedians like Jack Black, Dana Gould, Will Forte, Jeffrey Ross, and surprise guests (rumors include Kristen Wiig). Proceeds go to OneKid OneWorld.

Tickets to “A Night of (At Least) 18 Laughs” at Largo (366 N. La Cienega Blvd., W. Hollywood) are $100/$150 for VIP tickets. For more information on Largo and to buy a ticket, visit the listing at BlackBook Guides. 

Know every inch of this city by visiting BlackBook’s L.A. Happenings

Andrew Lloyd Webber Is Planning a ‘School of Rock’ Musical

The School of Rock, the Jack Black comedy directed by Richard Linklater and written by Enlightened creator Mike White, would probably make a terrific musical. I mean, it’s a comedy, it’s got precocious kids, and it’s prime for a pop-rock score. Of course, when you get Andrew Lloyd Webber in the mix, things get a little tricky. The British musical theater titan has acquired the rights to bring the movie to the stage, and while he’s no stranger to a good old rock opera (see: Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita), he also has the tendency to write pretty crappy pop musicals. There is a reason, after all, that Love Never Dies, the sequel to his record-smashing Phantom of the Opera, never made it to Broadway. Of course, Lloyd Webber hasn’t determined if he’ll actually write any new songs; “There may be songs for me in it," he told CBC radio, "but it’s obviously got songs in it as it stands.” Ah yes, because Broadway needs another jukebox musical.

[via EW]

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Richard Linklater Makes Another Movie About Creepy Texans

The finest Richard Linklater films—Before Sunrise and Sunset, Dazed and Confused, Waking Life—have all been unique, philosophical, and relatively uplifting in their outlook on the world, with few casualties beyond a broken heart or paddled ass. He didn’t seem to be a director who did dark—whether it was due to his own personal tastes or lack of range was a topic of film geek chat room debate. That’s why his newest film Bernie seems, on the surface, like such a departure from the happy-go-lucky Bad News Bears studio fare many nostalgic indie film fans feared Linklater may have settled into.

Based on a Texas Monthly article about the bizarre murder of Marjorie Nugent in the small town of Carthage, Texas in the late ‘90s, Bernie is a spatter of true crime Americana fully loaded with quirky circumstances and characters—a pitch perfect tale for Linklater’s subdued directorial and storytelling talents. He was hooked as soon as he read Skip Hollandsworth’s piece in the state’s official magazine, prompting him to head back to his boyhood stomping grounds of East Texas to actually watch the trial in person—a fine refuge back in 1999, shortly after The Newton Boys flopped. And now, more then a decade later, the trip has paid off, with a top tier cast of Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey leading the way.

The end result is one of the most well-rounded and fascinating films of the Austin-based director’s career, proving he can go dark in his own refreshingly humorous way. Linklater and I chatted about Bernie in the middle of the madness of South by Southwest just minutes before he headed down to the Paramount Theater to premiere the dark comedy to a packed house of a thousand eager moviegoers. 

Do you get nervous before these types of premieres anymore?
No. Not about the film doing well. It’s more about petty things—like public speaking. I’m not a huge fan of that.

While truth is often stranger then fiction when it comes to true crime stories. How much of Bernie is embellished?
Most of this stuff really happened, as it’s adapted almost directly from the Texas Monthly article and then what I witnessed at the actual trial. People have said they don’t believe certain things, like the jurors in the courtroom drinking big gulps while they watched the proceedings in court. I was there; I saw it with my own eyes. It’s at the judge’s discretion, evidently. It’s pretty real, this whole thing. Having grown up in East Texas, in Huntsville, I felt I had a story to tell about this world. 

Was there always a humorous undertone?
It was always humorous. I don’t even see this film as a dark comedy—I see it as a comedy with one really dark act that informs the rest of the story around it. I actually went and visited Bernie in prison and he’s not a dark guy. He’s not a psychopath. He wouldn’t do this again. To me, the bigger issue that we all have to ask ourselves is could the nicest person in the world be capable of the most heinous act? Most people I ask that question to are in the film industry, so all of them respond that they could kill someone, of course.

Film people are not exactly the nicest people in the world.
That’s for sure. But beyond that, I think most people go through their lives and never question it, they don’t consider it to be part of their own set of behaviors. But if you really think about it, could you be driven crazy enough to kill someone?

Is this the first murder in any of your films?
It is, technically. I have had some jokey things that were arguably not real, but this was my first killing. I asked Jack [Black] actuallybefore we shot if he had every murdered anyone in a movie before. He hadn’t, so it was both of our first, real cinematic murders. I didn’t take that sort of thing lightly—I wanted to show the real-life ramifications of it. The after effects of something like that are still being felt in the town.

Especially now, with the film coming out. What was Bernie like when you visited him in prison?
He was a really nice guy, actually. It confirmed the angle of the film and what I thought about him from what I’d read.

There’s no manipulation? He didn’t come across as a sociopath?
Not with Bernie. If he’s manipulative, it’s not for a place of his own gain. In a way, we all manipulate each other 24 hours a day, but it really comes down to what ends. The sociopath manipulates to strictly for their own gain with no feeling for who they are manipulating. Bernie just wants to be liked, which is his fatal flaw. He just couldn’t tell anyone to piss off—which ends up pushing him to his breaking point.

Why couldn’t he just leave Marjorie Nugent and go on with his life?
That’s the most fascinating part about it to me and it wasn’t until Jack [Black] and I talked to Bernie in person that I figured it out, about six months before we shot the film. Bernie couldn’t just leave Ms. Nugent, because he felt that he was her only friend and she couldn’t live without him. He was stuck with her, for better or worse. It’s strange—it’s like an abused wife who shoots her husband in the head while he is sleeping. People ask her after the fact, “Why couldn’t you just leave?” And her response is, “I loved him too much.”

Five Must-See Films From This Year’s SXSW

The film conference may be the least influential of the three portions of South by Southwest, due primarily to the fact it has so much competition amongst other film festivals out there. Interactive has launched a few hundred million-dollar ideas that we all now have access to on our smart phones, and the music conference showcases some the best brand new artists in the world on a yearly basis. Yet film, despite consistently having a fantastic, unique lineup every year, could be considered the underachieving middle child. When an independent filmmaker looks to premiere the next Napoleon Dynamite, they look to Sundance or Tribeca first; when an Oscar-winning director has made his or her passion project, it’s across the pond to the austere Berlin or Cannes Festivals. SXSW Film falls into the upper middle of most top tier Indie submission lists.

This may be due to the fact that SXSW is more diversified as an event then the other fests that focus almost solely on the art of filmmaking—they don’t have to share attention with another medium. However, sleeper films are truly beginning to break at South by—last year the virtually unheard of sports documentary Undefeated was picked up by The Weinstein Company, and went on to win the Academy Award for best Documentary Feature.

So I went in search of sleepers at this year’s film conference. I definitely didn’t see all the films I intended on seeing, those that were getting post-screening buzz heard in various badge lines or while fiddling with my scheduling app, waiting for a film to begin. However, the five films I have listed below are the best of the ones I saw at the conference, all worth the price of admission.

The Imposter
Unlike any documentary you will ever see, The Imposter tells the true story of a thirteen year-old boy who was abducted in San Antonio in the mid ’90s. Three and a half years pass with no trace of the child before a person claiming to be him is picked up by authorities half a world away in Spain. The family is notified and the boy is returned home to America—despite the fact that it is in fact someone else pretending to be this boy, an imposter, as the film’s title suggests. Director Bart Layton sews together interviews with the Imposter himself and the boy’s family with beautifully photographed narrative feature-length reenactments, making you feel as if you are watching something between a narrative and a documentary—in short, something wholly unique. The film is such a perfectly intense and fascinating experience that I honestly can’t stop recommending it to everyone I see. The Imposter will be out in July through Indomina.

Somebody Up There Likes Me
The third feature from off-beat Austin director Bob Boyington is undoubtedly his best yet, which feels like a tightly written, fast-paced Wes Anderson comedy with the darkly humorous stylings of something from Eastbound and Down’s Jody Hill. Comedically, nothing is sacred in this film. The sharp, straight-faced banter between leads Keith Poulson and Nick Offerman (best known as Ron Swanson in NBC’s Parks and Recreation) is hilarious yet quietly philosophical. Despite some forgivable Indie film mistakes (focus, dammit and mind the camera’s reflection), Boyington is poised to become a new, aggressively brilliant voice. At the time of this writing, Somebody Up There Likes Me does not have distribution.

Fat Kid Rules the World
Remember the tall, lanky, funny guy who was one of the killers in Scream? Or the narrator of that off-beat cult classic SLC Punk? Well, it turns out he can direct, too. Matthew Lillard fell off many people’s radars when he became Shaggy in the Scooby Doo franchise—something he admits to me made him feel like a sellout. Yet, as all true artists out there, he had a passion project and the young adult book Fat Kid Rules the World, for which he had done the book on tape for nine years prior, was it. A finely acted, funny teenaged tearjerker with Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready doing the original score was the result—a spectacular achievement for a first-time director working with a budget of less then a million dollars. At the time of this writing, Fat Kid Rules the World did not have a distributor.

Bernie
Richard Linklater is synonymous with the Austin film scene and Bernie is a welcome reminder of just how talented he truly is. He’s been on the latter end of hit-and-miss recently, with features like Me and Orson Welles and Fast Food Nation being considered box office and critical failures and A Scanner Darkly suffering mightily from a hellish production. However, all will be forgotten with Bernie, the funny East Texas true crime Americana tale starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McCounaughey, based on the article by Skip Hollandsworth in Texas Monthly. As career history has shown, Linklater may be at his best when he returns to his roots. Bernie will be released through Millennium Entertainment in late April, early May. 

The Do-Deca-Pentathalon
What everyone will soon realize is that the Duplass Brothers are proving themselves to be some of our generation’s best filmmakers. They consistently tell engaging and funny yet intimately personal stories, despite their seemingly amateurish shaky-cam, blurry style of HD cinematography. It only reinforces the notion that great storytelling, direction and acting will trump low-production value every time. The Do-Deca-Pentathalon, a story of two overly competitive brothers trying to rekindle their relationship, harks back to their earlier, truly-Indie films like The Puffy Chair, Hump Day, and Baghead—before they had A-List casts and major studio backing for projects like Cyrus and the upcoming Jeff Who Lives At Home. Acquired at SxSW this year, The Do-Deca-Pentathalon will be released by Fox Searchlight and Red Flag in June.

Morning Links: Rebecca Black Pulls “Friday” From YouTube, Emma Roberts Doesn’t Believe In Nepotism

● 167,370,534 views later, Rebecca Black’s “Friday” video is gone from YouTube, apparently as a result of a copyright claim filed by Rebecca Black herself. You don’t always know what’s good ’til it’s gone… [TechCrunch] ● Retired talk show host Oprah Winfrey says she won’t rest easy until she gets what she wants from O.J. “I have a dream of O.J. Simpson confession to me,” she said. “I don’t just want an interview, I want the interview on the condition that you are ready, Mr. Simpson.” It would be a moment long in the making. [HR] ● Kelly Osbourne’s pomeranian Noodle had to be put down after an incurable brain defect was discovered. “I DON’T PLAY GOD,” she tweeted. “It was an unfortunate necessary!” RIP Noodles. [NYDN]

● Emma Roberts, Julia Robert’s niece and sometimes co-star, doesn’t believe in Hollywood nepotism. “A lot of people think that and they talk about nepotism which I think is so ridiculous considering it’s obviously not true, because I’ve auditioned for so many things and never gotten the part,” she told PopEater. Um, we’re still waiting for our audition. [PopEater] ● When it comes to cars, Rick Ross keeps it personal. His Benz is nicknamed “Justin Bieber, his Maybach “Oprah”, and his Bugatti coupe is known as “Katy Perry” — “She’s really sexy,” he says. Ruf! [RS] ● And lest you forget, Jack Black is very much in the house. [NYM]

Richard Linklater Talks Zac Efron, ‘School of Rock 2,’ Future of Filmmaking

When Richard Linklater directed School of Rock — the first truly commercial success of his career — you’d think he’d stay in the world of profitable, A-list comedy. After all, the paychecks are bigger than what you’d make for say, directing a film that features Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy discussing abstraction and truth, uninterrupted on the streets of Paris. But Linklater has always followed his own path, and despite making some of the most memorable films of the last twenty years (Dazed and Confused, Waking Life), the director still struggles to get projects off the ground. I recently had the chance to speak to Linklater from his home in Austin, where we discussed his latest documentary, his upcoming period piece Me and Orson Welles starring Zac Efron and Claire Danes, and anything and everything about the movie business.

Can you tell us about your new documentary, Inning by Inning: Portrait of a Coach? It’s a documentary that fits into the portrait subgenre, and it’s a depiction of a really interesting baseball coach who worked with the University of Texas Longhorns. He has an incredible career on paper, but that’s really not what he’s about. He’s a pretty fascinating cat. I think I was trying to transcend sports in a way. If you don’t like baseball, it still might have something to say about your life. Sports metaphors are always good for that. I just found out about this script that finished called That’s What I’m Talking About. It just got put on the shelf? Yeah, it’s definitely on hold. It’s pretty heartbreaking, but the industry is really bad off right now. Everybody I know, it’s like you think you have it bad, and then you hear their sob story. So I was like, gosh a low budget college comedy that’s kind of a follow-up to …

Dazed and Confused? You know, it just doesn’t make any sense. The industry is so shitty, it’s just beyond all comprehension. I had it financed, I was just in search of a distributor. It shows how much the industry has evaporated.

Are you hopeful that it’s going to get made eventually? Yeah, I’m pretty sure it will at some time, it’s hard to say when. It’s kind of like, when will the economy recover? Someday. It could be ten years, it could be 18 months. It’s a guessing game. It’s just a weird time. It’s one of those times that I think I pay for my outsider status, not really having that many friends inside the industry. When things tighten up, I fall off the list pretty quickly.

When you see a movie like Transformers 2 make $200 million in five days, how does that make you feel? That’s the tip of the industry that’s working just fine. We’re living in the age of big-budget success. Studios have really figured it out.

Is that a part of the business you ever want to be involved in, given the opportunity? What, to do Tranformers 5? No.

But there are a lot of directors with artistic integrity that have gone into the blockbuster business. Well, it’s not so cut and dry. There’s a real grey area there, but I think the bigger the film and the bigger the superhero, that’s what’s working right now.

Given that state, are you interested in making something like School of Rock 2? Um, yeah. My forays into comedies like Bad News Bears and School of Rock, I enjoy that. I like making a comedy. School of Rock 2 however, is its own very slowly evolving thing that isn’t there yet.

Is there a script for it? Well, I’m not interested in doing School of Rock 2. Jack and I do talk about it, and if we sort of cracked it, it might be worth revisiting, but you have to do it for the right reasons, you know?

Is there something recently you’ve turned down as a script and its was directed by someone else and it ended up being successful? Yeah, that happens a lot, but I don’t regret any of that because if I didn’t have a deep feeling for the subject-matter — at that level I’ve got to feel like I’m the only person, I’ve got to be at the quick end of the necessary self-delusion that I’m the only guy that could pull this off. You’ve got to feel like you’re perfectly cast for the subject matter.

I feel like something like Superbad would be a perfect kind of foray into the mainstream for you. Yeah, that’s kind of more in my comedy world, I can do that.

Your films were a precursor to those movies. In some ways. They’re definitely in the ball park, like Dazed is in that comedy universe that I don’t know if I’m exactly welcomed in. I don’t think I’m kicked out, but I’m not a full-time member. They don’t send you a memo or a membership card, so I don’t know if I’m welcomed, or if I’m a pleasant surprise. I’d like to think I’m welcome everywhere, but I don’t know. Maybe I’m unwelcome everywhere. In my own self-deluded world. I feel like I’m a free agent and I’m welcome everywhere. It’s important for me to think that.

What do you think about the future of film technology, in terms of the proliferation of 3D and IMAX? Do you think these benefit the medium, or are they detracting from its purity? It’s all exciting and good. You’ve got to push the technologies and see where they take you. It’s up to the artist to figure out what’s best. Hollywood’s always faced this, whether it was sound, color, or cinemascope. A gimmick to one person becomes color on another artist’s palette. Where you get in trouble is in absolutes. Like in the 1950s, studios were like, “absolutely every movie here will be in 3D, this is the future.” I’m for no rules at all, but endless possibilities. But look at some of the best films of the past few years, and the most interesting filmmakers, they’re filming at a real small scale and it’s not about technology.

You just finished shooting Me and Orson Welles with Zac Efron and Claire Danes. How was that experience? Beautiful. It’s coming out this fall. I couldn’t be more happy with it. And Zac is fantastic. He worked really hard. I know it’s always boring when people say how great everyone is they work with, but Zac’s the real deal and he’s going to have a really long career, because he’s meant to be here.

So he’s not just a song and dance man? He’s too talented, he’s too much a natural. I’ve never met anyone less conflicted about performing. He’s just born to do what he’s doing. And he’s really smart, and he works hard. He has a good family. I’d say his foundation is such that he’s not going to be a fuck up and sabotage himself.

What kind of person flames out? Usually people who do that are the ones who feel like they haven’t worked hard and really have had it hoisted on them. They’re picked out of a line, suddenly you’re in the public eye, and think maybe you don’t deserve it or something.

Was there any mobbing on set, because Robert Pattinson is getting it like crazy in New York right now. Yeah, Zac attracts that same mob, but he handles it pretty well. How can you take it seriously? The age range of that mob is pretty young. It just shows you there’s not a lot going on in the physical world for a lot of people. People like showing up and being excited about something. It’s kind of fun to hear that squeal of young girls, I never really heard it before in person. When they encounter Zac Efron, it’s just a pitch range that I haven’t heard in my lifetime.

Do you feel that Fast Food Nation didn’t get as much attention as it deserved, considering it was based on a bestseller, it had a star-studded cast, and premiered at Cannes? Well, I’m not sure about that word “deserve.” I don’t know what’s deserved or not in this world. But the fact is, the distributor that distributed it pretty much made sure that all that stuff never happened. So when it starts there, there’s pretty much nothing you can do.

Why do you think that is and how does that make you feel? It’s the trickle-down effect in the industry right now. The bar is so high even in the indie world. It used to be an indie film that grossed $3 million would be a huge hit. Now they won’t even touch it if they don’t think it can gross potentially $50 to 60 million.

When a movie like Juno or Slumdog Millionaire makes a lot of money, people say it’s great for the industry because its letting more of these films smaller films get made, but it sounds like it’s actually the opposite. It’s actually bad for the industry, because at the end of the day, they’ll spend so much on getting a film like Juno or Little Miss Sunshine to make all this money, that they’ll spend $40 million, just like a studio film. And then the bar gets raised to an astronomical level. What’s lacking is a bunch of new distributors who are ok with—to use the baseball analogy—a bunch of singles and doubles, rather than the proverbial $80 million home run. Fuck, I don’t know what I’m saying, whatever. I would be happy to have one of those indie successes, but Fast Food Nation was not going to be one of them. It was not the feel-good movie that people were looking for.

Out of all your films, is there one that you’re least proud of. or more proud of than the others? Believe it or not, not really. I feel remarkably similar about all my work, which is very kind of wonderful. I don’t have any antagonist relationships to any of my movies. I like all of them. I’m not saying they’re all the same or anything, but I have similar working methods on all of them, a similar approach, a similar vibe.

What are your favorite restaurants to go to in Austin? It’s this veggie Mexican food place, a healthy Mexican place, just about a mile on the East side on Cesar Chavez Avenue. It’s called Mr. Natural. It’s a healthy Mexican little buffet. It’s wonderful. It’s been there forever. It’s too good to be true. It’s a quick little buffet, you’re eating within like four minutes of when you walk in the door.

What about bars? I don’t know, I don’t go out so much anymore. There’s a lot of bars coming and going. I just go where I’m dragged.
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Links: Lindsay Lohan’s Dad on Twitter, Madonna vs. Jose Canseco

● Jose Canseco doesn’t approve of former flame Madonna dating a 22-year old model. “Oh my god! Doesn’t she realize she is 60 years old?” he exclaimed. Madonna’s response: “Jose who?” [NBC] ● Emily Blunt is out of consideration for the villain role in Iron Man 2. Blunt was to play the Black Widow, but due to her contract at Fox, she is forced instead to be in Gulliver’s Travels film with Jack Black. Demotion! [Filmonic] ● Juliette Lewis — sometime actress, full-time singer — has ditched her old band The Licks for a new one she’s dubbed The New Romantiques. Look for her/them at SXSW. [NME]

● Lindsay Lohan’s father disapproves of her friendship with singer Lily Allen. Like any concerned parent, the elder Lohan sent the singer a Twitter stating that she had a drinking problem and she should address it. [TheSun] ● Now that Sean Penn has the Oscar on his side, he’s pushing for California to make May 22 “Harvey Milk Day.” [Variety] ● And here’s the most specific list I’ve ever seen: The Top Five Most Unintentionally Gay Horror Movies. [Cracked]