Watch Patton Oswalt’s ‘Star Wars’ Filibuster From This Week’s ‘Parks and Rec’

Patton Oswalt is really making himself a national treasure this week. And tomorrow, we’ll see him guest star Parks and Recreation, and as the citizens of Pawnee are wont to be, his character appears to be a crazy weirdo. And we’re not complaining. In the episode, he’ll be playing a man who attempts to filibuster a city council vote. In an improvised 8-minute long rant at the request of the producers to give a speech about a topic of his choosing, he goes on to describe—in full detail—his plot for the seventh Star Wars movie. And of course, his nonsensical passionate ramblings are wonderful and hilarious. Take a look.


Steve Carell & Keira Knightley Make Nice in ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’

The end of the world doesn’t seem like ripe material for a romantic comedy, but here goes: In Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Steve Carell and Keira Knightley star as strangers who maybe — just maybe — find themselves in similar straits after it’s announced that an asteroid will collide with the Earth. Accompanying by a ringing indie rock soundtrack and a delightfully morbid string of jokes, they’ll attempt to navigate the waters of dreams deferred and unresolved midlife crises while trying to avoid thinking about the fiery rock above them. Of course, there’s no indication that Carell and Knightley will fall for each other — in fact, she seems to be trying to reunite him with his long-lost love. But you know how these things are, and frequently go.

This will be the directorial debut of Lorene Scafaria, who previously wrote the unfortunately titled/existing Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist. In case her reputation throws you off, don’t worry: the trailer looks fun and snappy, filled with enough in-the-now comedy actors like Patton Oswalt and Community‘s Gillian Jacobs to make the end of the world seem like it might not be so bad, after all. (Until the fire and the death, of course.) It’s out on June 22.

How to Tweet About Your Oscar Snub

The Oscar nominations were released yesterday with plenty of buzz and even some surprises — apparently a 48% Rotten Tomatoes score is enough to get you into the running for the most prestigious award in American filmmaking. (I’m just going to give Stephen Daldry the benefit of the doubt and assume he was just focusing on making the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremonies the best ever.) But like any year, the nominee field had its fair share of head-scratchers and snubs. Some burned actors chose to express their chagrin via the modern man’s haiku, Twitter. 

Quite a few people thought Albert Brooks had been legitimately robbed and deserved a nomination for his performance in Drive. He started his Oscar tweets the night before with a little jab at Christopher Plummer before making some attempts, after the nods were released, at being funny and self-deprecating:

I got ROBBED. I don’t mean the Oscars, I mean literally. My pants and shoes have been stolen.

And to the Academy: ‘You don’t like me. You really don’t like me.’

Looking forward to the State of the Union tonight. Hope the new Axis of Evil includes Hollywood."

One last thing. Got a very nice note from Kyle Williams & Billy Cundiff.

The Sally Field reference is pretty stale, but what does Brooks’ intent in is the "Axis of Evil" tweet. He was trying to be funny, and if there’s any institution that needs to have more of a sense of humor about itself, it’s Hollywood — but on the Twitters, it just sounded a bit bitter. Luckily for Brooks, he decided to drop this strategy pretty quickly and return to discussing politics. And his tweets led to a golden response from Patton Oswalt. Which leads us to…

The very funny Patton Oswalt, who generated some Oscar hype with his acclaimed performance in the underrated Young Adult, took a more lighthearted approach, inviting the jilted Brooks to a snubbed actors’ party:

@AlbertBrooks See you later tonight. Might be out of booze — Serkis has Pogues on the jukebox & Fassbender just showed up in a pirate hat.

@AlbertBrooks Oh shit — we’re definitely going to run out of booze. Charlize & Tilda just pulled up in a stolen police car.

@AlbertBrooks Dude, GET DOWN HERE. Gosling is doing keg stands and Olson [sic] & Dunst LITERALLY just emerged from a shower of rose petals.

It gets better — mooning, karaoke and a renegade expedition to LegoLand are later referenced. Oswalt and his snubbed ilk may not be taking home statuettes, but it sounds like they throw an excellent party. Your move, Elton. 

Juniper-Hater Patton Oswalt Gets the Gin Treatment at Stone Rose

Though he mines his curmudgeonly side for comedy gold, when he’s not performing, Patton Oswalt goes out of his way to be a nice guy. It’s nearly 9:00 p.m. and he’s just finished an arduous day of shooting a dark bromance called Scoutmasters, but the “former wedding deejay from Northern Virginia,” according to his Twitter account, is all smiles and great-to-meet-yous as he enters the elegant and futuristic Stone Rose lounge in New York, the kind of bar Jane Jetson would have frequented before settling down in Orbit City.

He’s got a galaxy’s worth of projects in the works, from a new comedy album based on his recent Showtime special, Finest Hour, to the upcoming Young Adult (out December 9), in which Oswalt plays a former high school classmate of teen lit writer Mavis Gary (played by Academy Award winner Charlize Theron) in a Diablo Cody–scripted, Jason Reitman–directed story about whether it’s possible to go home again. Still, Oswalt seems sincerely happy to have this opportunity to taste gin-based cocktails, despite his admission that gin really isn’t his thing. Fortunately, his juniper-averse palate is in the capable hands of mixologist Oana Kovacs, a Romanian beauty whose deft touch behind the bar can dress up the embattled spirit for just about any taste. Over the course of the evening, Oswalt has us all laughing at his reactions, which veer from the literal to the literary to the downright weird. For one night, at least, Gin Lane had nothing on 10 Columbus Circle.

Cocktail #1: Gin Blossom Muddle 5 slices of cucumber, 1 oz. elder ower syrup, and 1 oz. cranberry juice in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and 1 ½ oz. Hendrick’s Gin. Shake and strain into an ice-filled highball glass. Top off with club soda and garnish with a cucumber slice. “I like how it smells like the water they give you in health spas, with cucumber and lemon. Fill a pitcher with this in a spa and people would get wasted. I’d definitely give this one the thumbs up, because I cannot taste the gin at all. This is probably the last mixed drink Truman Capote had before he stopped pretending to be genteel and started drinking gin right out of the bottle. That’s all I’m going to have of that one. I am being a responsible actor. I’d like that in the article, please. I can’t show up on set with my liver hanging out of my mouth.”

Cocktail #2: Grapefruit Basil Martini Combine in an ice-filled cocktail shaker: 2 oz. Bombay Sapphire Gin, 1 oz. grapefruit juice, ½ oz. simple syrup, 3 large basil leaves (torn). Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a basil leaf. “This just tastes like grapefruit juice and basil. The fruity taste makes it kind of stingy, which is what hides the gin, but the basil makes it seem like you’re drinking a cold aperitif. It’s almost entering boozy gazpacho territory, which is a good thing. It’s a kiddie pool full of sunshine, but at the bottom there’s a fistfight waiting. So far, boom boom. Nicely done, Stone Rose.”

Cocktail #3: Eastsider Muddle 5 mint leaves, 3 wedges of lime, and ½ oz. simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and 1 ¾ oz. Plymouth Gin. Shake and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wheel. “Dammit, it’s a mojito with the guhhhh taken out. Me likey. My favorite so far. The Eastsider’s great because it comes with its own trust fund and ironic T-shirt.”

Cocktail #4: Grapefruit Tonic Combine in an ice- lled highball glass: 2 oz. Tanqueray Gin, splash of grapefruit juice. Fill with tonic and float with 3 shakes of grapefruit bitters. Garnish with a grapefruit slice. “This is like that bar scene at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark, only instead of doing shots, we’re drinking these amazingly constructed cocktails. We’re going to drink a giant Mongolian under the table. Okay, this is the one where I can taste the gin. The grapefruit bitters and the gin are fighting to make me put it down. They’re saying, ‘You don’t want this, kid. Go back to the Eastsider.’ This is what the husband instructs the bartender to make for his trophy wife to piss her off when they’re fighting at the yachting regatta.”

Cocktail #5: Classic Negroni Combine in an ice- lled cocktail shaker: 1 ½ oz. Bombay Sapphire Gin, ¾oz. Aperol, ¼ oz. Lillet. Shake and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with an orange twist. “Too much goddamn gin. The bitters just enhance the gin for me, man. It’s like I can taste the chemical process and it bums me out. It tastes like it’s pissed off that I’m drinking it. ‘Let someone cooler drink this, not you.’”

Cocktail #6: Blackberry Bomb Muddle 3-4 blackberries and ¾ oz. simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and 1 ½ oz. Hendrick’s Gin. Shake and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Top off with a splash of club soda. “I feel like I’m drinking a Russian short story. It’s very moody. It’s like, ‘I’ll get you drunk or not, but we’ll all be dead soon, so who gives a shit.’ The protagonist in an H.P. Lovecraft story would drink this. Does that make sense? No, it doesn’t.”

Patton Oswalt Will Temporarily Alleviate Your End-Of-Summer Blues

It’s Labor Day Weekend, marking the end of a summer that just began, like, two weeks ago. Say all you will about how great it will be to wear sweaters again, but you know your life will be filled with darkness and sorrow for the next six months. Best to start off the season of death with a few hearty laughs, which is exactly what comedian, actor, and writer Patton Oswalt will deliver with the debut of his Showtime special Patton Oswalt Finest Hour, which will be shown for the first time on Monday night (September 5) at 10:00.

Oswalt is a hilarious guy, which I know because, well, I have access to YouTube, but also because we sampled a few cocktails together on Wednesday night for my spirits column in BlackBook’s upcoming October issue and he had me laughing up a storm with his observations on the various libations that passed our lips. In the past he has riffed on everything from Cheetos to LSD, and his Showtime special promises to be filled with his signature observations on life, love, and the hell that is other people. Remember to set your DVRs, because you know you’ll still be stuck in traffic on the way back from the beach at 10 pm, praying for death’s sweet release before winter arrives.

And if you somehow miss it, Finest Hour will be released as an album on Tuesday, September 20, when you can go to your local record store and buy it download it from iTunes.

Patton Oswalt Returns to the Small Screen

Brilliant stand-up comedian Patton Oswalt might be returning to network television. Fox is reportedly in talks with Oswalt to develop a single-camera comedy series for the network. Scott Aukerman (Mr. Show, Comedy Death-Ray) will team up with the funnyman to write and produce the currently untitled show, which will star Oswalt as a man who’s recently separated from his wife of 20 years. You know what that means: Awkward and probably hilarious sex scenes!

Oswalt, who voiced Remy the rodent in Pixar’s Ratatouille, has appeared in myriad movies (The Informant!, Zoolander, Magnolia) and television shows (Community, Bored to Death), and his first book, Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, will be released by Scribner on January 4. He played Spence Olchin on long-running network-TV sitcom The King of Queens and took on his first starring film role in 2009’s underrated Big Fan. If Fox does pick up this show, it would mean a big score for smart humor, not to mention that anything that helps Oswalt pay his bills and focus on writing comedy is a decidedly good thing for the universe.

Here’s hoping the network will let him make fun of fast-food restaurants:

Links: Ivanka Trump’s Stalker is Kind of the Man; Heidi Montag is Your New Megan Fox?

● Ivanka Trump’s stalker unloaded a bunch of real talk in a statement: “Basically I was sending some twitters and emails dude. Some internet bullshit. I just wrote her, I said, ‘I want to marry you.’ I said, ‘Celebrity Apprentice sucks.'” [Daily Intel] ● Columbia University’s valedictorian was caught plagiarizing a joke, in full, from well-known comedian Patton Oswalt, who outed the overachiever on Twitter. [ABC] ● A man spent 24-hours inside a Starbucks and all he got was 10,000 calories. [Zug]

● Heidi Montag’s video to Michael Bay, “auditioning” for Transformers 3, makes Megan Fox look like Meryl Streep. [Facebook] ● Lindsay Lohan is still allowed both Adderall and Ambien despite her drug and alcohol-related probation, because they were prescribed by a doctor. Meanwhile, every twentysomething in the country laughs. [TMZ] ● Who should play the BP oil spill in the film adaptation? Sorry, Benicio Del Toro is too greasy. [Videogum]

Movie Reviews: ‘Big Fan’, ‘Lorna’s Silence’

Writer-director Robert D. Siegel admires the faithful. Both his script for The Wrestler, and now his directorial debut, Big Fan, focus on men whose dreams have bankrupted every aspect of their lives — except the spiritual. His films would likely be overlooked art-house material if these muted Christian allegories weren’t so intermittently corny, droll and mawkishly sentimental. Everyone, after all, loves an underdog.

Big Fan’s Paul Aufiero (Patton Oswalt) endures a layered casserole of Middle-American humiliations: he’s 35 years old, works in a parking lot (“Have fun in your box!” an irate customer yells), lives with his mother (“What kind of life is this for a grown man?”) and romances his hand nightly. Paul’s only interest centers on the New York Giants, the football team for which he lives and breathes obsessively. He immerses himself in radio call-in shows, superstitious rituals and game days spent in the stadium parking lot (because, of course, Paul and his friend Sal, played by Kevin Corrigan, can’t afford to get in).

Paul’s loyalty to the Giants is tested, however, when a chance encounter with his hero, quarterback Quantrell Bishop (Jonathan Hamm), turns unexpectedly violent. Paul wakes up in the hospital with a head injury, surrounded by a persistent investigating officer and an irate brother. Against all reasonable expectations, Paul ignores the incident, concerned that it might negatively impact his team. Even as things get worse—Bishop is suspended, Paul is publicly outed as his victim—he remains inflexible. It’s a modern, soft-shoe version of the Job story, in which fandom has become the new religion.

Siegel aligns audiences with this sincere but otherwise unappealing sideliner by casting mercurial stand-up comedian Oswalt, who has the childish, pouting face of a cherub grown old. The camera hovers over him for the duration of the film, sometimes asking for emotions he’s not able to deliver, but Oswalt has a genuine affability and his comic persona is a useful hedge against Paul’s acidic presence.

By film’s end, it’s tempting to compare Paul to previous big screen antiheroes, Big Fan’s grim tone evoking 1970s benchmarks Taxi Driver and Joe. But this new loner breed is of a different stripe psychologically. He is not a radical, but the schlubby antithesis: he resists change and is reasonably content with himself and his faded existence. Siegel exalts these punching bags into second-string saints, taking the hits, sustained only by their faith in something as (non)trivial as a football team or a signature wrestling move. It’s inspiring and horrible at once.

Co-directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne are also filmmakers who trade in religious allegory, but in a subtle and astringent style light-years away from Siegel’s. Their oeuvre is composed of intimate, hardscrabble salvation stories from the underbelly of their native Belgium. Bleak but redemptive, their work has earned the Palme d’Or at Cannes twice (for Rosetta and L’Enfant) and, lately, a growing chorus of critics who grouse about the similarity of their films.

The brothers’ latest outing, Lorna’s Silence, tells the story of a hopeful Albanian immigrant (Arta Dobroshi) involved in a mercenary scam: Having married a junkie (Jérémie Renier) for citizenship, her underworld handler (Fabrizio Rongione) insists they kill him and move on to their next victim. Most of the film hinges on the awakening of Lorna’s conscience, which is gradual but hard to begrudge since, as the Dardennes remind us over and over again, money is the engine that drives everything.

The relatively unknown Dobroshi provides a quietly radiant presence here, which transcends the moral muck of her situation. Adding to the effect is the Dardennes’ graduation from 16mm to 35mm, which signals a more controlled, frame-conscious aesthetic. Lorna’s Silence may not be their most wrenching piece—they’ve set unbelievably high standards there—but it’s their most refined yet.

‘Watchmen’ Backlash Spawns Backlash

Word of mouth on Watchmen has been so negative since the film’s release last Friday, that even I — a fan of the graphic novel — am wondering if I’ll ever find the motivation to see it before it leaves multiplexes. Friends (Alan Moore faithfuls and plebeians alike) have gotten me so bummed about the supposed lack of suspense, the fight scenes, the crap acting, and the almost three-hour runtime. My only reason for seeing the movie now is to check out its most preposterous aspect: that infamous sex scene. Sensing this rapidly spreading vitriol, two people — one with a strong connection to the film, and one who feels strongly connected to it — have taken to the interwebs to plead with us, go watch Watchmen!

Standup comedian Patton Oswalt unleashed a manifesto on his MySpace blog, tearing into all the haters and bandwagon jumpers. He writes:

Zack Snyder STEPPED UP, motherfuckers. THE WATCHMEN was going to get made, one way or another. And instead of bleating on his Facebook status updates or Tweeting about how shitty the upcoming adaptation’s going to be, he TOOK THE BULLET and tried to do it right. Yes, THE WATCHMEN should be a limited series on HBO and blah blah blah IT WAS NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN THAT WAY. Zack delivered a 2 1/2 hour, honest attempt, and broke his ass cranking out tons of free extras. Hell, he even animated The Tales of The Black Freighter for you chumps. Plus, he gave you a kick-ass DAWN OF THE DEAD remake, plus 300, plus whatever else he’s got coming down the pike. He’s the best friend the Nerd Mafia’s had since Joss Whedon and Brian Michael Bendis, so everyone please crack the tab on a frosty can of Go Fuck Yourself and go see the movie version of THE WATCHMEN.

One of the film’s screenwriters, David Hayter, is trying to minimize the film’s second-week rot (and the damage to his career) by reaching out directly to hardcore fans, begging them to see it again via an open letter on Hardcore Nerdity:

You have to understand, everyone is watching to see how the film will do in its second week. If you care about movies that have a brain, or balls, (and this film’s got both, literally), or true adaptations — And if you’re thinking of seeing it again anyway, please go back this weekend, Friday or Saturday night. Demonstrate the power of the fans, because it’ll help let the people who pay for these movies know what we’d like to see. Because if it drops off the radar after the first weekend, they will never allow a film like this to be made again. … You’ll be thinking about this film, down the road. It’ll nag at you. How it was rough and beautiful. How it went where it wanted to go, and you just hung on. How it was thoughtful and hateful and bleak and hilarious. And for Jackie Earle Haley.

Yes, do it for Jackie Earle Haley.