After the solid trailer for "Cedar Rapids," it looks like the the film might have the makings of a sleeper hit in the wasteland that usually marks the first two months of the calendar year. Directed by Miguel Arteta (”Youth In Revolt,” “Chuck & Buck”), and featuring a great cast including John C. Reilly, Anne Heche, Isiah Whitlock Jr. (Sen. R. Clayton ‘Clay’ Davis from “The Wire”) Sigourney Weaver, Alia Shawkat, Rob Corddry and Stephen Root, Ed Helms leads the charge as a dull and dimwitted Midwestern insurance salesman who travels to a big-city convention in an effort to save the jobs of his co-workers. Of course, things don't go as planned. The film opens on February 11th and premieres at the Sundance Film Festival which begins next week.
This one has been keeping on the down low a bit but that should change very soon. Shari Springer Berman and her husband/directing partner Robert Pulcini ("American Splendor") have been hard at work on "Cinema Verite," a project for HBO Films. Berman told us last year, "The movie is on the making of the landmark PBS documentary 'American Family,' about the Loub family and it's a narrative film starring Diane Lane, James Gandolfini and Tim Robbins, about this perfect American Family. It was before 'American Experience' and Margaret Mead is a part of it. It's the first reality TV show, it's like the next step of anthropology." Sounds like a fascinating project and we'll see the results when it airs in April.
This was has, uh, piqued our curiosity -- a period comedy about the invention of the vibrator, directed by Tanya Wexler and starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy, Jonathan Pryce and Rupert Everett, titled "Hysteria." The interesting premise will feature Dancy and Pryce as doctors in Victorian-era London "treating cases of hysteria, a condition said to be characterized at the time by a woman's irritability, anger or unexplained tears. Dancy's character and his best friend, portrayed by Everett, experiment with a new electrical device for treatment for the ailment. Gyllenhaal portrays the daughter of Pryce's character." No release date yet, but we expect it turn up on the festival circuit.
Meanwhile, Tommy Lee Jones has been quietly directing, an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's single setting play, "Sunset Limited." The film focuses on two characters Black (played by Samuel L. Jackson) and White (Jones) who meet after the former saves the latter from throwing himself in front of the titular train. It airs next month on HBO; here's the play synopsis from Amazon:
A startling encounter on a New York subway platform leads two strangers to a run-down tenement where a life or death decision must be made.
In that small apartment, “Black” and “White,” as the two men are known, begin a conversation that leads each back through his own history, mining the origins of two fundamentally opposing world views. White is a professor whose seemingly enviable existence of relative ease has left him nonetheless in despair. Black, an ex-con and ex-addict, is the more hopeful of the men–though he is just as desperate to convince White of the power of faith as White is desperate to deny it.
Their aim is no less than this: to discover the meaning of life.
And finally, "Kung Fu Panda 2." Can't say we care about this at all except for the fact that Charlie Kaufman did some script work on it. But an animated film about a panda facing an existential crisis? Yeah, we doubt it. The second in the planned six films for this franchise (we are not fucking kidding) hits on May 27, 2011.