The director of the Olivia Wilde–Jake Johnson rom-dramedy Drinking Buddies, and co-star of director Adam Wingard’s twisty, droll home-invasion thriller You’re Next, Joe Swanberg is sort of the new Kevin Bacon. With several dozen acting and directing credits in the last eight years, you could make a game out of connecting recent American indie-film luminaries back to Swanberg in even less than six degrees. Between directing and acting, in web series, shorts, and features, over the last eight years Swanberg has worked with Lena Dunham, Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach, Mark Duplass, indie horror legend Larry Fessenden, and more. With both Drinking Buddies and You’re Next opening theatrically on Friday, you may have questions. Here are some answers.
Once someone has not only won a Best Director Oscar but seen that movie go on to win Best Picture, it must be tempting to spend the rest of your career repeating the formula that resulted in such success and acclaim. Fortunately for moviegoers, Danny Boyle is making like the Coen brothers: Each project he's helmed since the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire (127 Hours, the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics, and now Trance) has been a total departure from the one before.
Trance looks like Boyle's take on an Inception-esque thriller, in which the characters and the audience can't be entirely certain from scene to scene what's real and what's a dream, or a hypnotic suggestion, or a fantasy, or … you get the idea. James McAvoy is an art auctioneer who has no memory (or does he?!) of where he's hidden a painting to protect it from thieves; Rosario Dawson is a hypnotherapist who might be able to help him with his amnesia (or is it?!); and Vincent Cassel is a skeevy French criminal, in what will probably not turn out to have been the biggest stretch of his career.
Fourteen months ago, Fox debuted New Girl as a star vehicle for the considerable, if occasionally adorkable, charms of Zooey Deschanel. Now in its second season, the sitcom has evolved into one of the best shows on television largely thanks to the comedic firepower of its emerging ensemble. Much of the credit for this transformation goes to Jake Johnson, who plays Nick, a struggling bartender/zombie novelist whose preternaturally old-man crankiness clicks beautifully with Deschanel's Etsy-fied whimsy. Johnson's role was originally written as the quiet straight guy; New Girl took flight once its producers realized the good things that can happen when Johnson — a Chicago native with a welcome dash of Belushi bile — starts yelling.
Unlike his aggressively unmotivated New Girl character, Nick Miller, Jake Johnson is proving to be quite the industrious type. Along with Max Winkler, scion of the Fonze (note: "He was just a regular dad. It wasn't like he drove me to school on a motorcycle in a leather jacket, while I was in a little side car with my hair gelled back"), Johnson has sold a comedy pitch to his current home, Fox.
Every May, the network fat-cats kennel their white tigers and head to New York City for the advertising pep rally/celebrity burlesque review known as the upfronts. Initially conceived as an industry event, a chance for the broadcast nets to unveil their fall schedules to assembled advertisers who, in turn, will shell out enough dollars to keep Burbank flush with development cash for another year, the upfronts have morphed into genuine public spectacle, a breathlessly reported-upon State of the Union for the Big Four. Buoyed by canapés and perhaps a monologue from Jimmy Fallon, the audience of beat reporters, unwashed bloggers and shampoo reps are encouraged to buy in to the scripted optimism on display. What’s funny – certainly funnier than Jimmy Fallon’s monologue – is that the same speeches will be made at first place Fox and last place NBC: an annual promise that these new shows with their pedigreed casts and gauzy gag reels are destined to become great big shining hits. In the bright lights of a midtown hotel ballroom, it’s more than possible to believe that stinkers like Pan Am will take flight or that disasterpieces like Work It just might work out. After all, it’s springtime. Anything is possible.
When it picked up the sitcom New Girl, Fox made a risky gamble: It pinned the success of a freshman series on the polarizing cultural figure known as Zooey Deschanel. A member of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl Club since her star turn in (500) Days Of Summer, Deschanel has a very specific celebrity brand: She's a ModCloth-wearing, signature bangs-rocking, ukulele-playing quirk factory — not that there's anything wrong with that. And Fox's marketing campaign played up Deschanel's appeal by promoting New Girl with a made-up word: "adorkable."
The cavalcade of press for Fox’s break-out sitcom The New Girl has, for good reason, focused on said girl herself, Zooey Deschanel. But after a careful, unicorn-free viewing of last night’s second episode — as well as the even better third, airing October 17 — it’s clear that behind every new girl lurk three strong male characters. This is meant as no slight to Deschanel’s performance: Her Jess is a pan-dimensional pixie, a fully-realized comic disaster in a sundress and clogs. But the secret weapon of the show, the ballast that has thus far kept it from tumbling over a candy-colored cliff into insufferable tweeness, has been the performances of Max Greenfield, Jake Johnson, Lamorne Morris, and, briefly, Damon Wayans Jr. as Deschanel’s “why me?”-asking, Y-chromosome-having roommates.