Did You Hear? John C. Reilly Reads ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ — An Audio Book Review

Presented by Audible

Listen in on your own, buy One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or get a free download here.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest doesn’t require much of an introduction. For those of you who may have only seen the 1975 film or pretended to read it in high school or college or, hell, even seen a parody or homage in other media (an episode of The Simpsons comes to mind), the novel is one that never seems to go out of fashion. Why? Because it deals with human behavior and emotional states on their most primitive, primal levels.

The main characters are R.P. McMurphy, a rapscallion with qualities equally shining and cruddy; “Chief” Bromden, a towering, seemingly speechless, compliant half-Native American; and Nurse Ratchet, a power-driven, manipulative matriarch of the insane asylum. In the book, a stranger (McMurphy) comes to town asylum, piques the interest of its inhabitants (“Chief,” the orderlies, doctors, nurses, and the other patients), and for the first time challenges the norms and conformities of the Nurse Ratchet’s establishment.

Written by the sage Ken Kesey, this novel quickly garnered acclaim and respect, reaching “classic” status almost instantaneously. It has everything a great book should have, and therefore, it is without debate that it is deserving of high production values when adapted as an audiobook. And this audiobook is skillfully—dare I say masterfully—narrated and performed by actor John C. Reilly.

Truth be told, I listened to this audiobook straight through without stopping on a rainy Saturday from first cup of coffee to well-past dinner. Non-stop. No joke. I never turned it off or paused it.

The audiobook is flawless – there’s nary a moment your mind wanders to Reilly’s performance in Boogie Nights or Step Brothers. Reilly embodies every character’s voice and personality by keying into their emotional state and motivations through his change in inflection, tone, and lowering or raising his voice when the narrative calls for it. His dictation is fluid and never a distraction and only heightens the text.

This audiobook is a performance of the highest caliber and frankly it’s as timeless as the book itself. This is the type of audiobook you use to pop an audiobook skeptic’s cherry… or your own.

Listen in on your own, buy One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or get a free download here.

Get Your Nostalgia On With John C. Reilly and ‘Wreck-It Ralph’

Community isn’t the only one soaking in the nostalgic joy of the 8-bit video game glory days. Disney is taking a similar, cultural mash-up route with its upcoming CGI film, Wreck-It Ralph, whose trailer dropped today. In it, John C. Reilly plays the titular role of a brawny, Donkey Kong-like character who is frustrated with his baddie role and ends up abandoning his long-time service to the arcade game in favor of a reformed life. Jack McBrayer of 30 Rock stars as Fix-It Felix, the Mario to his Donkey Kong. Jane Lynch, Sarah Silverman and Stefanie Scott also star in various roles. 

Ralph attends a support group meeting alongside an all-star video game retro-explosion cast, including perennial Super Mario baddie Bowser, Sonic nemesis Dr. Robotnik, Pac-Man ghost Clyde, a zombie from The House of the Dead and several Street Fighters, including M. Bison, Chun-Li and Zangief, who speaks in a strong faux-Eastern European accent. Q*Bert and Paper-Boy (Paper-Boy!) also appear in the trailer. There’s even a brief glimpse of Mario Kart. See, kids? There was a time before first-person shooters and simulation consoles. 

Wreck-It Ralph hits theatres November 12th, 2012. Watch and let the nostalgia explosion begin:

Jack White Teams Up with… John C. Reilly?

Jack White is one of the most prolific musicians on the face of the planet. When he’s not galavanting around the world playing guitar for his supergroup The Raconteurs, he spends the rest of his time running a record label. Third Man Records puts out digital and vinyl only releases, and recently put out a 7" by none other than TV funnyman Stephen Colbert.

News broke earlier today that White will be upping the "wha?" factor with his next collaboration, as Third Man Records is now putting out an EP by  everyone’s favorite curly-haired actor, John C. Reilly. The two have previously worked together on the musician biopic spoof, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, where Reilly proved his songbird supremacy as the titular country singer. (White made a cameo as Elvis Presley.) 

The EP is available on 11/29 for only $6 on the Third Man Records website, or their physical storefront in Nashville. 

The Duplass Brothers On the Making of ‘Cyrus’

Mark and Jay Duplass call their rise from filmmaking obscurity to in-demand, studio-backed directors “textbook,” and they’d be right. Beginning with the no-budget short This Is John in 2003, the Duplass brothers have consistently wowed the festival circuit with their distinct vérité style—rife with improvisation—and their stories of gabby, existential wrecks trying to sift their way through the quagmire that is human interaction. Their latest film Cyrus is also their first backed by a studio, but the only way you’d know it is by the names on the poster. John C. Reilly stars as a down-and-out divorcee who falls for a beauty, played by Marisa Tomei, and has to deal with the unusually close relationship she has with her emotionally-stunted son, played by Jonah Hill. The brothers are on a roll. They’ve already wrapped their next studio film, Jeff Who Lives at Home, starring Ed Helms, Jason Segel, and Susan Sarandon. Here they are on their new-found success, their struggle with female characters, and their movie-watching habits.

Did you write all the roles for the actors that played them? Mark: We really wrote it for John specifically, that’s where it started. And then once he came on board and we took in his level of intelligence and emotional maturity, we realized like, oh shit, we’re going to need a force to combat this. And then we knew Jonah was a fan, so when we sat with him it was like, where did this kid come from? I don’t know if you’ve had time with him before, but he’s a little dark, very intelligent, very sensitive, and very smart, kind of beyond his years. Kind of like Cyrus. And then when it came to Marisa, it literally compounded what I just said. Shit, now we have two really powerful guys. How do you have a woman who can stake her claim in this movie?

With your two studio-backed films, all of your male leads are established comedians. What attracts you to them? M: It’s the perfect blend, in a lot of ways. Audiences are going to go see those movies because they want to be entertained by these guys that they love. They’re also all incredibly likeable people, and our protagonists do a lot of very unlikeable things, so that’s really helpful. Jay and I are doing a blend of comedy and drama that we find is kind of specific. Most of these actors see our movies, and they’re comedic actors who are interested in doing something dramatic. We’re not going to go out and go full retard and try to get the Oscar. Let’s do a blend of the comedy and drama. They want to come to our world a little bit, and we love what they’re able to do. They all inhabit naturalism really well.

You’ve been criticized for not fleshing out your female characters as well as the males ones. Jay: I mean, we write about what we know. The main thing is, we’re never going to make a movie because a critic is telling us that we’re not good enough at doing something else. That’s not our goal. Our goal is to illuminate the human condition as we understand it, and to give as much of ourselves as we can possibly give. In our next movie, we have a female lead.

Is it Susan Sarandon? M: Yeah. But this particular movie is primarily about the competition between two guys. We wanted the female character to be as strong as possible. That’s why we hired Marisa Tomei. She’s as strong as it gets. She has a lot of integrity and compassion in everything that she does.

What was the idea behind making a radiant beauty like Marisa Tomei instantly fall for a guy like John C. Reilly? M: It’s written into the script that there is a woman that the character of John has never been able to get. So it was always conceived that way, that she was very much out of his league. There would be a bit of a mystery as to what it is about him that’s so interesting. And for us, there’s a lot of reasons for that. But, one of the core reasons is that John is a lot like an older version of Cyrus, and Molly is in love with her son. She’s not romantically in love with him, obviously. J: But I think that this sense of desperation of holding onto the women that they love, and the oddities about these two guys and how tenacious in battling it out with each other, I think that’s a big part of what draws Molly to John. But, more importantly there’s a John C. Reilly element to this, which is the undeniable magnetism of him as well. In particular, the scene where he’s at the party singing “Don’t You Want Me”. There’s a heart in that move and there’s a doofus-ness in that move that we just really love.

When he just leaves her in mid-conversation to go dance. M: Yeah, he’s going to try and get this party started and he’s going to throw himself on the coals to do it. That type of bizarre heroism is stuff that we love. And we see Molly as a character who can see the unconventional beauty in a lot of people. In particular, John and her son. We want audience members to ask that question when he shows up and they first meet and they first talk. You should be thinking, “Why would she ever go for him?” We’ll try and show you. Hopefully we did our job.

How much do you rely on John C. Reilly to bring out that charm? J: I mean, it’s not a coincidence why the character is named John. Mark and I had private conversations as we were writing the script that, Oh my God, if John Reilly doesn’t do this movie, I don’t think we’re going to make it work. Over time, it became clear to us that everything he was doing was funnier, more emotional, more tragic—all the things that we looked for in a movie just got heightened when we would think of John C. Reilly in the role. And then he played it, and it was better than we could have ever thought.

Do the Duplass brothers love big, mindless Hollywood blockbusters? M: Oh yeah, but more on the comedy side of things. Dumb and Dumber is top ten. If Dumb and Dumber comes on TV we’re fucked. We can’t leave, it’s over.

What do you guys go see in the theater? Are you guys going to go see a big summer movie like Inception? J: I don’t know, we don’t see much of that. We both have kids right now, so we don’t do anything anymore. We try and steal screeners from studios. And, we have Netflix instant viewing, that’s basically our world now. Honestly, the thing that we’re riveted by is documentaries now. That’s our style, that’s what we’re obsessed with. We’re obsessed with something real. We go to film festivals all the time. Narratives are hit or miss, but every time when we walk into a doc it blows us away because there’s a sense of reality there, something real is happening. Something is unfolding in a way that it can’t be denied.

Looking back on your still early careers, aren’t you amazed at how you literally went through the quintessential steps of young filmmakers? M: It’s kind of textbook. We are incredibly humbled by the opportunities, but at the same time, you know, we’ve been working toward this for a long time. It’s strange to say and it could come off sounding wrong, but when we’re sitting in the audience last night at BAM with this movie, there’s a huge part of us like, “I can’t believe we’re here,” but then we watch people reacting to our specific sense of humor and how much they get it and love it. We’re just like, “Fuck, I think we deserve to be here, this is awesome.” It’s a really good feeling.

John C. Reilly On ‘Cyrus,’ Improvising, and Playing Drunk

John C. Reilly isn’t accustomed to playing the romantic lead. He doesn’t have the looks, casting agents might say. But leave it to the Duplass brothers, thinkers outside of boxes, to cast the versatile actor as their avatar in the romantic, if slightly melancholy, comedy Cyrus. In the largely improvised film (out this Friday) Reilly plays a down-and-out divorcee who falls for a radiant beauty at a party (Marisa Tomei). He gets the girl, yes, but he also gets her overweight, possessive, and slightly terrifying son, played by Jonah Hill. A battle for her affections ensues, and the film ventures into unpredictable and uncomfortable territory. But you never stop rooting for Reilly. Here he is on working with some of the best directors in the business, the luxury of shooting Cyrus in sequential order, and playing drunk.

Is this a return to dramatic roles for you, or do you not see Cyrus as a drama? People that I’ve worked with in the past, like Paul Anderson, say “Why are people so surprised that you’re funny? You were hilarious in Boogie Nights!” I guess I haven’t had a straight drama out in a while. This movie is not exactly—it is a comedy. It’s a little more of a naturalistic comedy. I just finished a movie that was straight up drama, with Tilda Swinton. It’s kind of sad, and it’s a drama for sure. And then I did that movie with Ed Helms, Cedar Rapids, which is also a comedy, but it has a lot of heart. It’s directed by Miguel Arteta, who did The Good Girl, so his movies always have a real strong emotional fiber.

What is the difference between improvising for the sake of realism and improvising for the sake of getting laughs? Every movie is different. Even the two movies I did with Adam [Mckay, director of Step Brothers and Talladega Nights]. The way we worked on those, there were some similarities, but every job that you take is a new venture. With this movie, it was more like the relationships themselves were kind of improvised, and the dialogue. We just kind of found the story through improvisation. Something like Talladega Nights or Step Brothers, it’s more like we get a really funny script and we do the scripted version a few times, and then once you lose the sense of surprise with the other actors you start switching stuff out, and sort of riffing on set ideas. A lot is staying the same but you’re switching out the names, just kind of surprising each other and keeping that bubbly feeling in the air.

Have you shot a film in order like this before? I think this is the first time where we’ve shot completely in order. It’s a great luxury. It’s like getting to do a play in slow motion, and you’re able to adapt along the way and let the character change based on his own experiences in the story, as opposed to having to make deliberate decisions ahead of time to accommodate the schedule. It was better than I expected because a lot of days, you do these improvisational days and you’re like, Man, did we get that scene? I don’t even know, we just did it so many different ways, and we kind of floundered for a bit, and there was that really good thing that happened, and then we kind of lost our way again. But these guys, they did some really excellent work in the editing room shaping this story.

There’s a party scene where you manage to achieve the perfect amount of drunkenness, so that your character is able to lose all his inhibitions, but not be so wasted that he can’t charm Marisa Tomei’s character. Although I almost blow it in so many different ways. I run away from her like two minutes after meeting her because a song comes on the stereo. Those impulsive moments when you’re drunk like, “Alright, let’s go do this!”

Is that your interpretation of being drunk at a party? It was a night shoot, so I didn’t have the luxury of getting drunk, or I would have just fallen asleep. It’s just something you kind of play around with. We did a couple takes where I was walking down the stairs and I was getting a little bit too tipsy and they were like, “You can pull it back a little bit. It seems like you’re too drunk to continue with what you need to do later in the scene.” So you just rely on the directors to tell you what they want.

What’s the difference between working with the Duplass Brothers who are novices and then someone like Paul Thomas Anderson, who must be incredibly self-assured? Well, even working with someone like Martin Scorsese; it’s not like the guy walks around acting like, “I’m an expert, I know exactly what to do.” Making movies is a struggle. You have the script and it’s a theory of what you want to do, and then you get there on the day, and you’re like, “We gotta bring this to life, how are we going do this?” There were many times working on Gangs of New York and The Aviator where Martin would turn to us and be like, “Help me out here. This needs a little more life. What can we do?” So the best people don’t walk around with a crown and a scepter acting like they know everything. Paul is definitely a super collaborative director with the actors. He encourages improvisation where we need it. What you really want with a director, and this is true of Mark and Jay too, even though they are newer filmmakers, is you want someone open to suggestions, and encouraging to what you’re bringing. But at the same time they have an objective in their mind, they are maybe not even talking about it all the time, but as they are watching what is unfolding, they are keeping their eye on the prize. Kind of like the ship might turn left and right, and left and right, but they have their eye on the horizon about where the port is. But in the meantime, the best people are really open to discoveries. Someone like Robert Altman, he’s just waiting for mistakes constantly, he just wants you to fuck up so that something real happens. He was interested in that moment when you just can’t really control what’s happening anymore and life just invades.

Movie Reviews: ‘Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky,’ ‘Life During Wartime,’ ‘Cyrus’

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky opens with a fleeting glimpse of a youthful Coco Chanel (Anna Mouglalis) battling her corset, a feminine symbol she later trades for a signature style: polished androgyny. Chanel is first exposed to Russian composer Stravinsky’s misunderstood genius at the premiere of The Rite of Spring at Paris’s Théatre des Champs-Elysées. Chanel is instantly smitten with Stravinsky (Mads Mikkelsen), even as she enters the heyday of her renown. At her insistence, he relocates his wife and four small children from a dingy tenement to her picturesque country home. Their romance deepens as Stravinsky’s wife battles tuberculosis and suffers from the strain of her husband’s betrayal. The affair is brief, but director Jan Kounen locates, with magnificent precision, the passion and intensity that forever changed their lives. (June) —Eiseley Tauginas

Winter’s Bone – This year’s winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize for dramatic film, Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone is an exploration of human endurance. The drama follows Ree (Jennifer Lawrence), a strong-willed, 17-year-old loner, as she bravely defies her rural community’s code of silence in a quest to hunt down her meth-making, bail bond-ditching father and save her family. Along the way, she battles drugs, moonshine and a bevy of other impoverished mountain life clichés. With restrained direction and subtle, compelling performances from Lawrence and John Hawkes (as her uncle, Teardrop), the film never feels hammy or maudlin. Winter’s Bone is as chilling, saturnine and breathtakingly barren as its title suggests. (June) —Ashley Simpson

Life During Wartime – History haunts the characters in Todd Solondz’s Life During Wartime, the pseudo-sequel to his much-praised 1998 ensemble feature, Happiness. Purists might be perplexed to find that Solondz has recast each role in the new film—Ally Sheedy replaces Lara Flynn Boyle; Allison Janney, Cynthia Stevenson; Shirley Henderson, Jane Adams—but that shouldn’t detract from the thrill of the ride. Life During Wartime highlights the twisted but talented writer-director’s darkly acerbic humor and sideways exploration of upper-class American suburbia. Narrative threads weave in and out of each other as the film’s oddball characters grapple with divorce, newfound romance, pedophilia, mental illness and suicide in a way that is both wry and suffused with pathos. A son’s recrimination of his child-abusing father (Ciarán Hinds in the role once played by Dylan Baker) is simultaneously hilarious and tragic. Darker than night, yes, but absolutely delicious. (July) —Michael Jordan

Cyrus – What can a few million extra bucks buy you in Hollywood? Well, John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei and Jonah Hill, for starters. And that’s all Mumblecore grads Jay and Mark Duplass need to elevate Cyrus from a quaint indie flick into a highly watchable, slightly warped romantic comedy. It’s the Duplass Brothers’ first film with major studio backing, and besides a crisper stock and wider release, it’s got their distinct mark, all embarrassing moments and start-stop dialogue. Cyrus takes its name from Hill’s character, whose Oedipal relationship with his mother, Molly (a radiant Tomei), stands as the primary obstacle to her finding happiness with glum divorcé John (Reilly). The rivalry between the two man-children, as they battle for Molly’s affections, is at once hilarious, unsettling and truthful. (June) —Ben Barna