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The unexpected cult status of Peyton Reed’s “Bring It On.”

The unexpected cult status of Peyton Reed’s “Bring It On.” (photo)

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The New Beverly in Los Angeles is hosting a tenth anniversary midnight screening of “Bring It On,” this weekend. By virtue of being better than it needs to be, “Bring It On” is one of the few studio teen films of the last decade to earned non-studio-manufactured goodwill, a small cult of genuine affection.

Part of that has to do with its relatively sharp craft, and part has to do with director Peyton Reed, who was, for a while, a rising young auteur and whose career might, at any moment, resurge unexpectedly.

Reed’s directed music videos (he did three for Superchunk) as well as a few episodes of “Mr. Show” and all (!) of “The Weird Al Show.” “Bring It On” was his feature debut, one of those “most pleasant surprise of summer” type movies.

While Reed won’t be making it to the screening, he did do an interview with Aint It Cool News talking about “Bring It On”‘s nervous conception. The main question, he reveals, was thinking about how to push the sexual aspects while keeping a PG-13 rating: “You cannot separate sexuality from cheerleading,” he notes. “It is inherently what it is – growing up with the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and all of that stuff. But it’s kind of a dangerous thing to do when you’re making a studio, PG-13 movie and trying to push the sexuality.”

07152010_downwithlove.jpgDespite this, he and editor Larry Bock — unpretentious veteran of “Rambo: First Blood Part II,” “Breakin'” and “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” — watched ’70s cheerleader exploitation movies while editing. The relatively low-budget film ($28 million) was a sleeper hit ($90 million worldwide); like “American Pie,” it spawned four increasingly shoddy direct-to-video sequels with little discernible relation to each other.

That minor success seemingly gave Reed the carte blanche to make “Down With Love,” as obsessive an homage to the Doris Day/Rock Hudson sex comedies as Todd Haynes’ “Far From Heaven” was to Sirk — with slightly broader sex jokes. The production design is glossy, the frame of reference specific, but both movies play like musicals without the musical numbers. If they’re too bright and shiny to be subtle, they’re bouncy enough to achieve a sort of grace.

The interview glosses over Reed’s post-“Bring It On” career, which is a shame. “The Break-Up” isn’t fun to watch, but it’s unexpectedly scabrous for what should’ve been a light summer romance. (The New Yorker‘s Richard Brody actually compared it to Sirk.)

07152010_break.jpgIn Reed’s telling, Vince Vaughn’s storytelling ambitions, Jennifer Aniston’s post-Brad Pitt angst and Reed’s own relationship woes made for a film that “can be very unpleasant to watch” but came from a place that “was very real to all of us at the time.” (The movie somehow made money anyway.)

The interview ends with the off-the-record-ish disclosure that Reed’s quitting comedy and working on vintage sci-fi. He’s obviously a cinephile and, if not turning out quite the type of films that get you deemed an auteur these days, is at least someone trying to make formulaic comedies and dramas seem fresh again.

Here’s one of Reed’s Superchunk videos (co-directed with Phil Morrison) that turns the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” mosh pit and thrashing into a more innocent pillow fight, complete with milk and cookies:

[Photos: “Bring It On,” Universal, 2000; “Down With Love,” Twentieth Century Fox, 2003; “The Break-Up,” Universal, 2006]

Fred Armisen and Stephen Colbert Sample Foghat Wine

Slow Vine

Fred Armisen and Stephen Colbert Had a Rockin’ Wine Tasting

Catch Fred on the new season of Portlandia Thursdays at 10P on IFC.

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As per The Late Show’s themed gift recommendation this past December, we all spent the holidays delightfully unwrapping various Foghat albums and compilations. And while those cassettes remain in our tape decks, there’s still more ’70s boogie rock to enjoy in the form of fermented grapes. Yes, Foghat has its very own wine, straight from the cellars of drummer and Late Show fan Roger Earl, and Portlandia’s Fred Armisen joined host Stephen Colbert to sample the goods. And thanks to Earl’s watchful eye and drumstick swirl during fermentation, the pinot noir unfolds nicely on the tongue and has the perfect notes to swig directly from the bottle while shrieking, “HELLO, CLEVELAND!”

Watch Fred Armisen and Stephen Colbert don literal “fog hats” and take a slow ride through some tasty spirits below.

The Doc Days of Summer: “Great Directors”

The Doc Days of Summer: “Great Directors” (photo)

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Angela Ismailos probably wasn’t intending herself to be included when she gave her film the simple title, “Great Directors,” but when the film played to a standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival last year, Ismailos figured they were just applauding for the ten internationally renowned auteurs she profiles.

“Todd Haynes was like ‘get up!'” laughed Ismailos, who eventually realized it was the only thing that would stem the five-minute-and-counting ovation. “Marco Müller, the director of Venice told me, ‘I’ve never seen an audience touched so much by a documentary.’ I guess it reminds people what all good cinema used to be.”

Indeed, “Great Directors” will likely have movie lovers running to their local video stores and Netflix queues to discover or revisit the work of the ten directors Ismailos gathered for her documentary, a celebrated group that includes Bernardo Bertolucci, David Lynch, Stephen Frears, Agnès Varda, Ken Loach, Liliana Cavani, Todd Haynes, Catherine Breillat, Richard Linklater and John Sayles. But the film is far from the rote dissertation of the directors’ greatest hits that one might imagine, instead benefitting from Ismailos’ curiosity as a burgeoning filmmaker and free-associating interrogator.

(more…)

“Iron Man 2″‘s redeemed burnouts and other summer meta-casting.

“Iron Man 2″‘s redeemed burnouts and other summer meta-casting. (photo)

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On June 23, after nine long years of anticipation, Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise will finally be reunited in “Knight and Day.”

The last time they paired up was a very memorable incident indeed. The occasion was Cameron Crowe’s loopy-but-endearing “Vanilla Sky,” in which Cruise played a rich guy with a shit-eating grin and Diaz played a psychotic bitch who got to utter the immortal lines “I swallowed your cum! That means something!”

Their relationship, alas, wasn’t destined to work out — as generally happens whenever Penelope Cruz decides to become the third part of the love triangle — but now they have a second chance at love, this time with Cruise as the crazy one. It’s going to be a blast.

Meta-casting — the art of reuniting stars with past on-screen histories, thereby letting the audience make some connotative connections, or otherwise playing off past imagery — is something that doesn’t happen often enough. There are, still, some amusing examples from this summer.

The implicit subtext of “Iron Man 2″‘s Downey-Rourke face-off, as has been widely noted, is former burnouts redeemed and going mano-a-mano. Next Friday begins the limited release of “Cyrus,” in which Jonah Hill torments John C. Reilly — payback, perhaps, for “Walk Hard,” in which young Reilly kills his brother accidentally, only to have him show back up in the form of Hill as ghost. (Given the way they sort of resemble each other, I expect this to keep happening for years.)

06102010_eclipse.jpgHaving made out in “The Runaways,” Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart will get back to proper money-making business in the latest “Twilight” movie, which makes the Joan Jett/Cherie Currie biopic the rough equivalent of slash fanfiction.

Still to come as well are two especially piquant pairings of the rom com variety. In “He’s Just Not That Into You,” Justin Long found true love (with Ginnifer Goodwin) and Drew Barrymore didn’t (with Kevin Connolly). In “Going The Distance,” can they find true love… together? Bonus layer of context: the two have resumed their real life romantic relationship.

Similar questions confront us when thinking about Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman in “The Switch.” In “The Break-Up,” Bateman was Vaughn’s friend, watching the disintegrating relationship from the sidelines; now, after all these years, he can make his move! This will also be the second time a pregnancy has been the inciting incident for Bateman, after “Juno.” It’s like when Katherine Heigl gets pregnant in “Killers” and it ultimately seals an otherwise unstable relationship!

[Photos: “Knight and Day,” 20th Century Fox, 2010; “The Switch,” Miramax, 2010]

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