If you weren’t already aware of how our recent economic state has made the source material for Jason Reitman’s new film “Up in the Air” extra-extra-melancholy, the teaser trailer, released earlier today, makes it perfectly clear. You don’t even need to listen to George Clooney’s corporate keynote-cum-voiceover about literal and metaphorical baggage — simply note the incredible amount of airport staring that’s going on.
It’s hard to say when the airport stare became American indie and pseudo-indie film’s favorite visual shorthand reminder of the modern empty coldness of our cold, empty modern lives. But it’s become inescapable — a character turns his (or her, but mostly his) dead gaze away from the camera, allowing us to reflect on how one can be lonely in a crowd, on how isolating our modern institutions are, on how epiphany may or may not be waiting around the corner, on how artfully sterile this shot composition is, on how we should really download this soundtrack song when we get home. It’s amazing anyone can manage to get to their flight on time, with so many people moodily drooping their way along conveyor belts, up escalators and in front of windows. A small selection:
[Photos: “Up in the Air,” Paramount, 2009; “Away We Go,” Focus, 2009; “Last Chance Harvey,” Overture, 2008; “Elizabethtown,” Paramount, 2005; “Everything is Illuminated,” Warner Independent, 2005; “Garden State,” Fox Searchlight, 2004; “Fight Club,” Twentieth Century Fox, 1999]
Writer/actor/rocker Carrie Brownstein recently added another credit to her poly-hyphenated resume: autobiographer. The Portlandia star and Sleater-Kinney musician penned Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, a memoir covering her years playing gigs, writing comedy, and producing a sketch show with cohort Fred Armisen.
Brownstein shared an excerpt from her memoir with The New Yorker that details her complicated relationship with her father, his coming to terms with his homosexuality, and how it led up to him coming out to Brownstein in 1988. A compelling and moving read, the essay is highlighted by the final passage wherein her father opened up to her grandmother and the life lesson Brownstein learned by her tragic response.
When my father came out to his mom, my grandmother said, “You waited for your father to die, why couldn’t you have waited for me to die?” I knew then that I never want to contribute to the corrosiveness of wanting someone to stay hidden. Despite all my initial conflicts about trying to reconcile the father I had as a child to the one I have now, I am thankful that he is happy, that he did not waste another second. Now there is someone to know.
We said everyone has a favorite character, and let’s be honest: it’s Red. And Red almost had the ability to lay out Hyde with a swift roundhouse kick to the head. Chuck Norris was considered for the role of Eric’s dad, but was unavailable due to filming Walker, Texas Ranger, opening the part for Kurtwood Smith’s incomparable portrayal.
2. Mila Kunis lied about her age to get the role of Jackie.
Snotty (but surprisingly smart) Jackie propelled Mila Kunis to stardom. She got the part by being perfect for it, and by playing older than she actually was. Auditioning at age 14, she told the producers that “I’ll be 18 on my birthday,” neglecting to mention said birthday was still four years away. Having an actual teenager play a television teenager for once is a nice novelty.
3. The show was almost named after a Who song.
A ’70s-set sitcom couldn’t help but be defined by music, but That ’70s Show was legally forced into its final name. Early ideas included “Teenage Wasteland” and “The Kids Are Alright,” but pressure from The Who’s lawyers forced the creators to come up with something better. At which point they found that test viewers had already given it the wonderfully self-aware name.
4. “The Circle” was a way to get around censors.
The show’s trademark camera spin was a powerful comedic tool for endless one-liners and honest moments where the characters talked directly to the camera. Most importantly, it allowed the show to make it clear the characters were totally baked while never showing them actually smoking pot.
5. Leo Was Really Arrested For Drug Charges
Hyde’s drug-inspired boss Leo incarnated the ’70s stoner culture on several levels. Not only was he played by the iconic Tommy Chong, but he disappeared from the series for a while because he was serving a jail sentence for selling drug paraphernalia. It was such a natural chain of events, Tommy was surprised they didn’t write it into the show.
6. You can blame a movie for Blonde Donna.
Donna claimed she dyed her hair blonde after her marriage to Eric was called off. But the truth is Laura Prepon went blonde for the lead role in the 2006 psychological thriller Karla.
7. Topher Grace was discovered in a high school play.
Topher Grace got his start in show business after That ’70s Show creators Bonnie and Terry Turner saw him in their daughter’s high school play. We assume he wasn’t constantly called “dumbass” in the play, but he wowed the Turners just the same.
8. Red really is from the “Craphole” state.
Kurtwood Smith is the only actor from Wisconsin, where the show is set. In fact, Red Forman is even more authentically Wisconson-ian, being based on Smith’s stepfather, who passed away shortly before the pilot was filmed. Yes, there actually was a real Red.
9. Josh Meyers was originally going to play Eric after Topher Grace left the show.
Josh Meyers, brother of Seth Meyers, was hired to replace Topher Grace, who’d left the series to fight Spider-Man on the big screen. Eric’s suddenly different appearance was going to be explained by the changing effects of coming back from his trip to Africa as a newly grown man, but the writers eventually ditched this ludicrous idea. Instead we got Randy Pearson, a fusion of Eric’s snarky humor and Kelso’s way with the ladies.
10. Eric’s Vista Cruiser license plate marks the passage of time.
That ’70s Show almost lasted an entire decade with eight seasons, but it only took up four years of fictional time. And you can tell what year each episode takes place in by the license plate at the end of the theme song.
Mark your calendars and stock up on Thunder Muscle, because Todd Margaretis coming back to IFC January 7th at 10P ET/PT. But before you meet a very, very different Todd in season 3, catch up on the first two seasons of the hit David Cross comedy series Thursdays at 10P ET/PT throughout December.
Beginning Thursday, December 3rd at 10P ET/PT, catch back-to-back episodes of Todd Margaret before the big season three premiere. (And stay tuned for the return of Comedy Bang! Bang! at 11P. Scott welcomes guests Adam Pally and Kathryn Hahn in back-to-back episodes.) Then on Saturday, December 5th, get ready for an all-day Todd Margaret marathon starting at 7AM to see what led up to Todd reluctantly blowing up the world. You can also catch up with Todd, Brent (Will Arnett), Alice (Sharon Horgan) and the rest by binge watching Todd Margaret seasons one and two on Netflix.
Want more Todd? Check out the season three trailer below.