You probably met Josh Radnor as Ted Mosby on long-running sitcom “How I Met Your Mother,” but he’d like the chance to re-introduce himself. Radnor’s sophomore feature effort, “Liberal Arts” (out in limited release Friday), concerns the angst of a 35-year-old New York admissions counselor, Jesse (played by Radnor, who also wrote and directed the film), who graduated from college but never really matriculated into adulthood. When Jesse returns to his midwestern alma mater for his second-favorite professor’s retirement, a chance meeting with 19-year-old student Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen) and the blossoming relationship that ensues, force him to decide whether he’s going to grow up or stay stuck in the past.
Radnor explained that Jesse is grappling with some of the same arrested development as his “HIMYM” character, but said that he hopes his movie delves slightly deeper into life, love and early adulthood in New York City than his day job does.
“It’s, to me, a kind of loving but hopefully honest exploration of some really deep questions about nostalgia and aging and growing older, the purpose of reading, of a liberal arts education, of how the kind of analytical mind can both save you and turn on you,” he said. “There’s a lot of things going on in ‘Liberal Arts’ maybe that you can’t quite tackle in 22 minutes on television.”
Radnor spoke with Moviefone on a press day ahead of the film’s release and answered our nagging questions about channeling a teenage girl, being 19 forever and who, exactly, he thinks is “HIMYM”’s titular mother.
“Just keep it in your room.” That’s what For a Good Time, Call… co-star/co-writer/co-producer Lauren Anne Miller told her then-roommate, Katie Anne Naylon, when Naylon admitted that she held a job as a phone sex operator to earn cash. Nowadays, Miller and Naylon are far from their Florida State University dorm room, but they’re still making dirty talk pay: For a Good Time, Call… is loosely based on Naylon’s former occupation, and stars Miller (playing a fictionalized version of herself also named Lauren) and Ari Graynor (who plays Katie in the movie).
Together, Miller and Graynor’s characters navigate the choppy waters of friendship, romance, making rent, and talking with a giant dildo shoved into the corner of your mouth, to hilarious and heartfelt effect.
Prior to the release of the movie, Miller called BUST to talk about making your own destiny, wrapping raunchiness in an “adorable pink bow,” and her father’s favorite euphemism for a certain male organ.
Writer and director Leslye Headland’s Bachelorette is a female ensemble comedy that culminates in a wedding, but Headland doesn’t want it confused with Bridesmaids or any of the other recent pack of funny-lady flicks. In fact, she’d rather not be thought of as a female writer at all.
“When I first started getting read and I started having [meetings] and Bachelorette made The Black List [a peer-nominated Hollywood list of the best unproduced screenplays], it was like, ‘So you’re a female Neil LaBute!’” Headland, who made her name as a playwright, said. “And you wouldn’t say, ‘You’re a gentile Neil Simon,’ you know what I mean? You wouldn’t say, ‘You’re a white John Singleton.’ Women are actually the majority in this country, so why are you using that adjective to describe my writing? Why can’t you just say it’s like Neil LaBute, which I would take as a huge compliment?”
One of the cardinal rules of phone sex, as explained in the new indie comedy “For a Good Time, Call…” is this: Don’t lead the conversation to a sexy place until the other person does. While speaking with Ari Graynor, the film’s star and executive producer, who may be most familiar from the recent release “Celeste and Jesse Forever” or as hot mess Caroline in 2008’s “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” we can’t say that we followed that rule. At all. Graynor plays Katie, a saucy New York City girl who maintains her bottom line by operating a phone sex line. After a rocky start, Katie and new roommate Lauren (played by Lauren Anne Miller, who also co-wrote and co-produced the film) start an independent hotline together, as well as a friendship. Co-written by Katie Anne Naylon and based loosely on Naylon’s time as a real-life phone sex operator in college, the film celebrates female friendship, entrepreneurial can-do and the twin powers of a hot pink rotary phone and bright blue dildo.
BUST chatted with Graynor on the phone ahead of the film’s release about the psychic stresses of Twitter, feeling like a surrogate mom, and the infinite struggle between fashion and easy bathroom access.
For Oscar-winning actress Melissa Leo, the experience of making a movie is almost as important as the end result. Take, for example, her new indie, “Why Stop Now,” based on the 2008 short film “Predisposed,” in which she also had a starring role: Leo cultivated an important working relationship during the quick shoot.
“The thing that leaps to my mind about that less-than-a-month last summer: Jesse Eisenberg, Jesse Eisenberg and Jesse Eisenberg,” she told Moviefone during a recent chat ahead of the film’s August 17 release.
“I knew the first time I met him that there was a great hope that he’d play my son in the film,” she said. ”[I would have been upset] if anybody else would have ended up playing that boy, because he was so perfect for it, the maternal instinct I had for him the second I met him, and the respect and the admiration.”
As luck would have it, Eisenberg would end up joining Leo for “Why Stop Now.” The film tells the story of a son trying to get his drug-addicted mom, Penny (Leo), to rehab, and himself to a performing arts college. To get to their happy ending, the mother-son duo must navigate red tape, a dealer named Sprinkles (played by Tracy Morgan) and a sock puppet with a vicious temper.
Leo, who was recently passed over for the role of Mags in the second installment of “The Hunger Games” franchise, spoke with Moviefone about dysfunctional families, cliches that don’t make sense to her and how a little gold man named Oscar changed her life.
Ten kitchens. A bowling alley. A health spa. A full-sized baseball field. A separate wing for the children. Something that could logically be referred to as “a grand staircase.” My house doesn’t have any of these things, does yours?
Jackie Siegel’s, on the other hand, will. Or at least, that’s what she and her husband, David Siegel, hoped when they began construction on what would have been the largest single-family residence in the United States, a 90,000-square-foot masterpiece of a home in Orlando. They called it “Versailles.”
I say “would have” because construction on Versailles has halted, yet another victim of the financial crash. The 99 percent may have been hit by the economic downturn, but Lauren Greenfield’s new documentary, The Queen of Versailles, puts a face on the 1 percent, too: Jackie.
What is it like to watch somebody with all the trappings of wealth — teetering heels, a litter of fluffy little dogs — lose it all? Greenfield spent more than three years filming Jackie and her family, stepping over the same dog turds ground into the carpet after the household staff was let go to save money as Jackie, David, and their eight kids did.
Roughly the same age as the titular queen [of the documentary], Greenfield and her camera were a mostly-silent presence in the Siegels’ life, witnessing Jackie, an RIT-educated engineer, thinking aloud that her children “might have to go to college” if the money ran out, and David theorizing that “anyone who doesn’t want to be rich is probably dead.”
The base conundrum is this: what does a relationship between an engineering student-cum-beauty queen-cum trophy wife and a documentarian focusing on social ills (Greenfield’s first feature documentary, Thin, focused on eating disorders) look like after three years, multiple foreclosures, countless hours in the editing room, and a lawsuit? (David Siegel has filed a defamation suit against Greenfield and her associates.)
Beyond that: what’s it like to watch a house of cards tumble in slow motion and remain behind the lens?
Greenfield and I sat down for a chat last week in New York ahead of the film’s limited release.
The trailer for “Pitch Perfect,” starring sneaky child Broadway star Anna Kendrick, would-be “John Tucker” murderess Brittany Snow and “Bridesmaids” scene-stealer Rebel Wilson, dropped recently and dang did it drop it like it was hot. The movie follows an all-female a capella group at the fictional Barden University (a thinly veiled LSU) on its quest for glory and soaring notes, all the way to an eventual showdown with a rival all-male group — full of hot and mysteriously attractive jerks, of course.
Such is the mess where Elizabeth Banks finds herself in “People Like Us,” which hits theaters this Friday. Here, she plays Frankie, a single mom trying to make ends meet. Starring alongside Banks is Chris Pine as Sam, the half-brother Frankie’s music-producing dad chose over her and her mother. After their father dies, Sam entangles himself in the lives of Frankie and her son, all the while wondering when to reveal his true identity — and the bag of cash he’s been dragging around with him.
Of course, Banks is only playing a part — one of many this year. On top of “People Like Us,” the actress also starred in “The Hunger Games,” “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” “Man on a Ledge,” and had a recurring role on NBC’s “30 Rock.”
Banks recently sat down with Moviefone in New York to answer our burning (sorry) questions about “Catching Fire,” “People Like Us,” and reveal the particular set of skills she has that would help her as a Hunger Games tribute.
Elizabeth Banks has been a busy woman this year: she has already appeared in three films and several episodes of “30 Rock,” with “People Like Us” and “Pitch Perfect” coming up. Her schedule shows no signs of slowing down, either, with several projects listed on her IMDb page for 2013.
However, one movie of hers that may notbe coming to a theater near you is “Frank or Francis.” Banks told Moviefone that the highly anticipated film, written and directed by Charlie Kaufman, is currently at a standstill.
“We didn’t get to shoot that movie,” she said during an interview ahead of the release of “People Like Us.” “It was ready to go, and, as many movies do, it fell apart at the last minute.”
Even if “brave” doesn’t necessarily describe any of the characters in Pixar’s most recent offering, the film’s existence itself is courageous. Imagine this: a story about a princess, with no princes and no pink, nary a ballgown to be found! Such is the case with “Brave,” directed first by Brenda Chapman, then by Mark Andrews (and written by both of them), and co-directed by Steve Purcell.