Posts Tagged ‘Sundance

10
Mar
08

Leonid Rozhetskin: delayed news from Sundance!

Quint dances along with Steve Coogan’s Sexy Jesus in HAMLET 2 at Sundance!

March 5th, 2008 From Ain’t it Cool News

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here finally catching up on my Sundance coverage. In the last month I’ve seen somewhere in the neighborhood of 50-60 films theatrically and another half dozen screeners to add onto that pile.

Of all those movies only about a fifth were damn good and of those only a handful that are what I’d call fuckin’ good or better.

HAMLET 2 made the cut.

Steve Coogan. If that name puts a smile on your face, then get in line now. This is Coogan at his finest. If his name got a “Huh?” response, then that’s okay, too. You’ll be a new fan of his once Hamlet 2 hits and then, I’m sure, you’ll dive into the hilarious world of Alan Partridge.

While Ricky Gervais, Martin Freeman, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost broke over here Mr. Coogan was biding his time.

In HAMLET 2, Coogan plays an Arizona drama teacher. In his mind he’s a great actor and in the opening moments of the movie we’re treated to his highlight reel, which consists of bit parts on infomercials and speaking roles in STD treatment commercials.

He gets paid next to nothing, his wife (played by Catherine Keener) is always bitchy to him (she married him and waited for his bit acting career that never came), he’s got a live-in hanger-on (played almost silently by David Arquette) and he’s struggling in a school system that doesn’t value the arts. His classroom has been moved into the cafeteria where his lectures have to compete with the lunch ladies noisily cooking.

In short, his life’s a mess, but he still has a hopeful smile on his face, an almost childlike optimism.

In his new year of teaching he is given a class of delinquents. The irony is not lost on him or the movie as he studies films like DANGEROUS MINDS in order to learn how to make the transition from his pure white-bread theater snob class to a multi-cultural class just trying to get an easy A.

This same year, he finds out that the school has finally cancelled theater and that situation brings the class together to achieve Coogan’s game plan: He’s going to put on a play that is so popular, so good, that the school board will be forced to reinstate the class.

In the past, Coogan’s plays all consisted of stage remakes of popular movies. We’re treated to a glimpse at one of his previous works, a stage version of ERIN BROKOVICH. He has a heated conversation with his biggest critic, the high school newspaper’s entertainment reviewer (a child no older than 12). He asks this kid why he always gets a negative review. The kid simply states that his shows suck. Of course, Coogan breaks down and the kid has to console him and gives him a piece of advice. Do your own thing, don’t just copy everybody else.

With that in mind, Coogan is inspired to create his masterpiece… HAMLET 2. But… everybody dies at the end of Hamlet, right? Aha! Well, that’s where the time machine comes in.

Seriously, the final version that ends up onstage is something they should tour with. You have time travel, historical figures coming in to change the events of the first HAMLET and a dance number involving Christ called SEXY JESUS.

And yes, his main inspiration to sequelize HAMLET is that he thought Shakespeare’s original was too much of a bummer and he wanted a chance to make it happier. He takes the tragedy out of HAMLET, essentially.

I can’t write this up without mentioning a particular actress. One of the secondary stories is the difficulty Keener and Coogan are having conceiving a child. So they go to a sperm bank and while they’re waiting, Coogan bumps into a cute nurse, played by Elisabeth Shue. His mouth hangs open and he says, “Excuse… but you look exactly like my favorite actress Elisabeth Shue.” She smiles and says, “I am Elisabeth Shue.”

And so it goes. She quit acting and became a sperm bank nurse in Arizona… and she’s not a throwaway joke. She is a real character in the movie, playing herself, and boy does she still have it. I’ve had a crush on her since my childhood viewings of ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING and KARATE KID. She’s looking great and is as charming as she’s ever been.

The script was whip-smart, as should be expected from Pam Brady. She works with Trey Parker and Matt Stone a lot on South Park, the South Park movie as well as TEAM AMERICA. She doesn’t disappoint here.

The flick just finished filming in November, so the cut we saw in January I’m sure is still rough. There was a little drag in the middle, but I’m sure they’ll tighten the film a bit before release. Even if they don’t, it’s already hilarious.

It was the biggest pick-up at Sundance, with Focus Features dishing a reported $10 million for it, so you know you’ll see a big release. This’ll be one Sundance movie I”m sure will be at a theater near you no matter where near you is.

Anyway, that’s it for HAMLET 2. Still more Sundance/Santa Barbara flicks to go through before I’m done. Keep an eye peeled, squirts!

Leonid Rozhetskin via Wikipedia 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonid_Rozhetskin 

Leonid Rozhetskin`s Homepage 

http://leonidrozhetskin.net/ 

Continue reading ‘Leonid Rozhetskin: delayed news from Sundance!’

07
Feb
08

Leonid Rozhetskin; Sundance: The Scoop on ”Hamlet 2”

 Via Entertaiment Weekly

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If you’re a fan of Steve Coogan, that King Leer of a motormouth British comedian who starred in 24 Hour Party People, came to Hollywood (remember his glorious performance as his own trumped-up self in Jim Jarmusch‘s Coffee and Cigarettes?), and saw his crossover American career do a nosedive before it had even gotten off the ground, then you won’t want to miss Hamlet 2, in which he’s like the son of Peter Sellers crossed with a more handsome version of Tiny Tim. This is the movie that Coogan cultists have been waiting for — the one that finally lets him cut his inner wildman loose, only within a structure that lends method to his madness.

He plays a godawful failed actor, despised by his wife (a scalding Catherine Keener), who has become a self-loathing high-school drama teacher, and Coogan turns this pathetic yet insistently egomaniacal creature into a loser-nerd of genius. He mugs, he glowers, he hams up his telling of jokes too corny-horrible to print, and — most mesmerizingly — he comes on like a sarcastic geek acting like a swishy queen trying to pass himself off as a ”normal” heterosexual Middle American.

Make no mistake: The gay/not gay camp-theatrical weirdness is built right into Hamlet 2, which Andrew Fleming has directed and cowritten like a broader, more looney-tunes version of Waiting for Guffman. To save his job, Coogan’s lowly drama instructor writes and stages a musical sequel to Hamlet 2, in which a time machine returns the great Dane to life, so that he can save himself and everyone else in the play. As opening night approaches, the show becomes hugely controversial, because it is blasphemous (and demented) in almost every way. Yet really, it’s a high school musical that would make John Waters proud. You may wonder what could possibly be funny about a song called ”Raped in the Face,” but when you see this and other numbers, such as ”Rock Me Sexy Jesus,” they give off such a happy blast of cluelessness that the show seems to be rediscovering — through its very offensiveness — the unhinged glory of showbiz.

Hamlet 2 doesn’t have the exquisiteness of Guffman; with Coogan as its maestro/vamp in chief, it’s more like a one-man demolition derby of bad taste. But you will laugh, and, with any luck, you will become a believer in Steve Coogan, who in this film proves as uproarious an anarchist as Sascha Baron Cohen. At Sundance 2008, that’s what independence looked like.

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25
Jan
08

Leonid Rozhetskin via BuzzCheck

Sundance BuzzCheck™:

The festival’s top seller, ‘Hamlet 2′

Jan 23, 2008, 07:48 PM | by Pop Watch

Categories: Sundance Film Festival 2008

Cooganhamlet2_l To sell or not to sell? That has been the question dogging every fledgling filmmaker at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where sales have been remarkably slow. But it wasn’t a concern for the producers of Hamlet 2 — the bizarro comic farce about an about an eccentric high school drama teacher (Steve Coogan, pictured) who tries to save his drama program and his marriage to his fed-up wife (Catherine Keener) with his production of a sequel to Shakespeare’s masterwork. Their quandary was more about how much to sell their movie for, and to whom.

The raucous comedy had been the subject of tremendous buzz coming into Sundance…before it was even completed, and without a mere mention in the event’s catalogue. Indeed, the unfinished film was such a late entry into the festival that Park City’s primary premiere location, the Eccles Center, was fully booked. But that didn’t stop Hamlet 2 from knocking Sundance out of its mid-festival doldrums with a rowdy debut screening Monday night at the Library Center theater. The room erupted in hysterics about two minutes into the show, and things stayed that way for nearly two hours.

Afterward, Harvey Weinstein hovered by the door, ready to kick off the deal-making. He was far from alone. Producer Eric Eisner and Leonid Rozhetskin, whose L+E pictures financed the film, fielded offers “from all the usual suspects,” including Fox Searchlight and Lionsgate. But it wasn’t until after he spent the whole night hashing things out at the bargaining table in his condo that he finally settled on a deal to sell the worldwide rights to Focus Features for an astronomical $10 million — one of the highest sums ever fetched by any movie in the history of Sundance. Eisner insists it wasn’t simply Focus’ deep pockets that helped that distributor win the bidding war. “We love their whole overall approach to marketing and filmmaking,” say Eisner and Rozhetskin, who will confess that Hamlet 2 outperformed even his high expectations. “It’s been quite a ride. Now it would be nice to get some sleep.” —Christine Spines (with additional reporting by Missy Schwartz)

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13
Dec
07

Leonid Rozhetskin Takes a L+E Productions to the Sundance Film Festival

Leonid Rozhetskin had to select a film, produce it, and finance it, but I was trying to make that “How do you get to Carnegie Hall” joke. You know I have been rubbing shoulders with Hollywood producer Leonid Rozhetskin. Well, it looks like Leonid Rozhetskin and L+E Productions does a fine job of selecting scripts and projects because I got some breaking news: the Sundance Film Festival selected L+E Productions’ Hamlet II in its premiers category.

“The Sundance Film Festival nomination of Hamlet II is not up on the Sundance website, but here’s some information about the Premiers Category: To showcase the diversity of contemporary cinema, the Sundance Film Festival’s Premieres program offers a selection of the latest work from established directors and world premieres of highly anticipated films. This is not a competitive category. It’s L+E Production’s first Sundance selection.” (More about Hamlet II)

Via Chris Abraham and Friendster and Chris Abraham Online and Memes.org and Leonid Rozhetskin Hamlet II L+E Productions leonid Leonid Rozhetskin Rozhetskin Sundance Sundance Film Festival