Friends With Benefits: A post-modern romantic comedy

The horror movie reached a notable evolutionary point in 1996: That was the year "Scream" came out, and, as even casual fans of the iconic Ghostface Killah will remember, it cheekily built a horror movie out of parts of other horror movies.

The operative word, of course, was cheekily -- not only did Kevin Williamson's script borrow liberally from many horror movies that came before, but it also poked fun at all the things it was borrowing. Spoof movies, of course, were nothing new, but Williamson added a twist, constructing a new entry in a genre at the same time he was tearing that genre down.

"Scream" came to mind when watching "Friends with Benefits," and not just during Justin Timberlake's rapping scenes. Among the film's many one-liners are jokes about the romantic comedy itself. Timberlake and on-screen partner Mila Kunis watch a sappy movie-within-a-movie about a young couple in love (played to rip-your-eyes-out perfection by Jason Segel and Rashida Jones). They joke about the way romantic comedies artificially use end-credit music to give a sense of closure. They even poke fun at the hoariness of the moment-of-truth-climactic scene -- while they're in the middle of one.


Director Doug Liman discusses TV show ‘Covert Affairs’ as exec producer

Director Doug Liman is knows for directing blockbusters such as 'The Bourne Identity' and 'Mr and Mrs Smith'. With COVERT AFFAIRS’ second season already underway, the adrenaline-pumping series has demonstrated that it is willing to venture across the globe this season.  During a recent conference call, executive producer Liman talked about how the globe-trotting filming came about.


5 Reasons To Love the TV Show ‘Suits’ on USA Network

There are some shows that everyone is talking about before it premieres, a la Game of Thrones. And then there are others that come up in conversation over Twitter, email, or (gasp, face-to-face?!) dinner a week or more after they air, and you joyfully realize you’re not the only one in your circle watching it and loving it. That’s an experience you may be having with USA’s Suits (Thursdays, 10 p.m. ET).

If you’ve yet to get hooked, it’s the new show about Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams), a brilliant former screw-up/stoner with a photographic memory who gets hired as an associate by one of New York City’s best (and best-dressed) legal closers, Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht,pictured). So why is this one of the summer’s most addictive new shows?


When Bond met Indy

How do you interview tough guys like Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig? Carefully, very carefully. It also helps if you bring their Cowboys & Aliens director Jon Favreau in on the conversation. Last week, the three men sat down with EW at a ranch in Montana to discuss their upcoming genre-mashing sci-fi-western about extraterrestrials invading New Mexico in the 1870s. “A journey of redemption,” Craig calls the film, which is a lot more serious than its title suggests (it was produced by an all-star team of heavyweights, including Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, and Brian Grazer).

Beyond space invaders, the three amigos talk about everything from wearing chaps, to getting older, to their famous franchises. Ford describes how Tom Selleck almost got cast as Indiana Jones, and later reveals, “I thought Han Solo should have died at the end of the last Star Wars movie. Just because it seemed right for that character.” Craig, for his part, talks about former 007s (“I never liked Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan much,” he muttered, almost under his breath) and his role in the upcoming Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. He also expresses feelings about registering for wedding gifts. (Hint: he’s not a fan.)

For more on Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and Cowboys & Aliens, pick up the new copy of Entertainment Weekly, on stands July 22.

‘Sarah’s Key’: A Haunting Drama About Post-Holocaust Guilt

You’d be forgiven if you think that you’ve seen just about every possible permutation of a holocaust-themed film. You might even be fed up with those movies altogether after sitting through the likes of Roberto Benigni’s icky Oscar-winning debacle “Life Is Beautiful” or the treacly and gruesome “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.”

But the French import “Sarah’s Key” threw me for a loop. Yes, it focuses on an incident of World War II–era anti-Semitism, but it also looks at how the horrors of war can have lasting impact on both victims and those who profited from that victimization.

Kristin Scott Thomas, who’s been showing off her perfect French on-screen pretty much since her movie debut in Prince’s “Under the Cherry Moon,” stars as Julia, a globe-trotting journalist who’s in the process of renovating the Paris apartment that her husband’s family has owned for decades.


The 10 greatest “missing movies”

With the newly restored 35mm version of the late German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder's long-unavailable 1973 science-fiction epic "World on a Wire" -- which opens this week in New York before a national roll-out courtesy of Janus Films -- the number of missing movies has shrunk by one. This happens all the time, of course; filmgoers and home-video customers are deluged with more rediscoveries and restorations than we can process, and as soon as I publish this list it will become outdated. (Here's what I can see from my desk in various piles: Newly restored versions of Fritz Lang's "Metropolis," Eisenstein's "Battleship Potemkin" and Buster Keaton's "Our Hospitality," along with new-to-video titles such as Margot Benacerraf's "Araya," Jules Dassin's "The Law," Joseph Losey's "The Romantic Englishwoman" and John Huston's "The African Queen.")

In our age of information glut, it may seem surprising that anything remains missing at all. Yet the number of films that either can't be seen at all or can't be found without considerable difficulty (and extra-legal Internet spelunking) remains impressive, even when you bracket the fact that the vast majority of films made in the silent era no longer exist, including perhaps 95 percent of those made before 1920. (Or odd national tragedies, such as the reported fact that most of Malaysian cinema has been destroyed.)


How to become a visual effects producer

Visual Effects Producer

My working process is simple enough. A movie will come to the company with a script. Together with my visual effects supervisor, we have a meeting where we break down the script into storyboards and give them advice on how they should approach certain sequences. The main issues are whether it should be shot as miniatures, as live action elements, or if there needs to be CG [computer-generated] work in there too, and how we can do it.

A lot of our work is with computer-driven motion-control cameras. It's a way of replicating a camera move over and over again. At its most basic, in a film such as Babe, you want to shoot a lot of animals together in one scene, so you work out your camera move, put one animal in, shoot it, then swap it for another. You replicate that process until you've built up that entire scene. A lot of the rest involves filming miniatures and model work for scenes that can't be realised on set or on computer.


Jason Bateman Changes Up His Acting

Jason Bateman stretches some new acting chops in his new acting chops in the comedy ‘The Change-up”. It starts when he is stirred awake by a duet of dead-of-night cries over a baby monitor placed on his bedside table. Playing -- for the moment -- an earnest father and hard working lawyer named Dave, Bateman opens the "The Change-up" by responding to the parent alarm with a well-practiced series of shoulder rolls and quick breaths, before checking in on his infant twins. And, a few sloppy hijinks later, getting a hot blast of diarrhea sprayed into his mouth.

Thusly begins what was, Bateman revealed in a conversation with The Huffington Post, the funniest script he had ever read.

"I was like, wait a second, this is how they're gonna start? All right, I'm ready, my knees are bent, I'm prepared for anything they're gonna throw me," he laughed, remembering his reaction to the opening scene, "and they didn't disappoint. It just kept coming."

The film, written by the scribes behind "The Hangover" movies, casts Bateman's Dave as harried and unable to breathe: at home, wife Jamie, played by Leslie Mann, is demanding a therapist-recommended "dialogue night" amidst the insanity of a house with three young children; at the office, he's trying to make partner at his law firm while avoiding awkwardness with sexy younger co-worker Sabrina, played by Olivia Wilde. "The Change-up" signals exactly that for his character, as soon, a new Bateman emerges, thanks to a drunken wish while peeing in a fountain alongside best friend Mitch, a responsibility-free aspiring actor played by Ryan Reynolds.


Harry Potter and its impact on the visual effects industry

The Harry Potter movie franchise has dazzled audiences with its magical immersion into a fantastical world filled with wizardry. But another kind of wizardry is also responsible for its big success – visual effects.

One of the many mysteries of the Harry Potter series is how much Hollywood--and the Academy--have underappreciated the high-level craftsmanship on display throughout. Bill Desowitz looks at the impact the end of the series will have on its visual effects artists. There's more at stake than the most successful film franchise in history coming to a halt with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. There's also a cottage visual effects industry in London that now has to get weaned off the wizard of Hogwarts. Double Negative, The Moving Picture Co. (MPC), Framestore, and Cinesite all came of age with Harry in the first decade of the millennium, especially on the third film, The Prisoner of Azkaban, in 2004.


Hollywood viral videos that worked

Some great examples of moving away from traditional trailers to more original content include Disney's short original video they produced to promote the new Muppets movie Green With Envy that is a parody of The Hangover II. The video racked up innumerable views on YouTube and other channels.

Another great example of non-standard content is the interactive YouTube video page for Kung Fu Panda 2 that features a mix of videos of Jack Black and the animated main character, Po.

We also think the promotion for Super 8 has really taken things to another level. For example, they actually placed an interactive video ad for the movie as a playable level inside of the video game, Portal 2. Look for more of this type of social video integration in the future, both on console games as well as inside social games on Facebook.

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