WEIRDLAND: August 2016

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

"La La Land" Trailer, "Thank You For Your Service" documentary

La La Land is not only is a love letter to movies, to movie musicals, to romance, and to Los Angeles, but it is also an ode to people with a dream. It is a movie that has roots in Hollywood’s storied past and the golden era of such MGM musicals as Singin’ In The Rain and The Bandwagon, but also as a valentine to the French musicals of Jacques Demy and Michel LeGrand — specifically The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg and The Young Girls Of Rochefort

The last purely original musical written for the screen to take Best Picture was Vincente Minnelli’s Gigi in 1958. Minnelli’s films, along with Demy’s and others, were pure inspiration for Chazelle. 

“I remember when I saw The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg for the first time,” he said. “I had never seen a musical that was just as kind of high-flying as the sort of MGM style that it was borrowing from, but dealing with both the highs and lows. There’s something  just so beautiful  and poetic about it, and it’s still probably my favorite movie ever. So I feel like La La Land kind of started there.”

Ryan Gosling plays Sebastian, an aspiring jazz pianist who meets Emma Stone’s character Mia, a waitress working on the Warner Bros lot who aspires to be an actress. Both are superb, showing great musical skills, with Gosling even learning how to play excellent jazz riffs on the piano. The film details the ups and downs of their relationship as each pursues their dreams in the not-always-kind town of Los Angeles. 

Whiplash (starring Miles Teller as Andrew Neiman) worked out nicely, winning big at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and eventually receiving six Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. It won three Oscars and launched Chazelle’s film career into the stratosphere. 

Chazelle added that his dad’s side of the family is all French, like Demy, and he kind of sees what L.A. is like to them. “It’s almost the embodiment of the romantic idea of America, you know, the freeways that go on to infinity, the big horizon, the big sky, the beach, Hollywood, you know the whole thing is so larger than life and so kind of iconic America in their mind. There’s a lot to play with there.” Source:

"An American in Paris" (1952) directed by Vincente Minnelli, starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron.

"La La Land" (2016) directed by Damien Chazelle, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.

La La Land (One of the Most Anticipated New Films of the 2016-17 Oscar Season): With his sophomore effort “Whiplash,” Damien Chazelle proved to be a formidable talent. All eyes are on his follow-up, a musical love letter to Los Angeles set to open this year’s Venice Film Festival. It’s an ambitious genre to tackle these days, but if he handles it with half the aplomb of his 2014 Oscar winner, expect fireworks. Source:

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders will co-sponsor a special screening of "Thank You for Your Service," an award-winning documentary that explores the nation's superficial understanding of war trauma, including PTSD, and the flawed policies surrounding it. The movie will be shown on Wednesday, September 7th beginning 6:30 p.m. at the Hamilton Stage Theatre, 360 Hamilton Street, in Rahway.

The film is being presented as part of Chairman Bergen's UC HERO initiative for 2016, which assists Veterans. The movie has been called "gripping, wrenching, and persuasive" by the Village Voice and "a film every American should see" by the Star Ledger. The Military Times said it is "generating Oscar buzz." The documentary is currently being shown at film festivals around the country, and is scheduled for theatrical release in early October. It won "Best Documentary at the GI Film Festival in DC, and the "Impact Award" at the Illuminate Festival. Source:

Miles Teller as Adam Schumann in "Thank You For Your Service" (2017) directed by Jason Hall.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Shailene Woodley "She's Like a Rainbow" video

A video dedicated to the beautiful and talented actress Shailene Woodley. Soundtrack: "She's Like a Rainbow" by The Rolling Stones, "My Girl" by The Temptations, "My Girl" cover by The Jesus & Mary Chain, "She's not You" & "Stuck on You" by Elvis Presley, and "Baby Baby" by The Vibrators. 

“There is no envy, jealousy, or hatred between the different colors of the rainbow. And no fear either. Because each one exists to make the others’ love more beautiful.” ―Aberjhani, Journey through the Power of the Rainbow: Quotations from a Life Made Out of Poetry

"The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides." Audrey Hepburn

Monday, August 22, 2016

Miles Teller: a man of the people, Political Spectrum: "War Dogs" and "Snowden"

Edward Snowden and Lindsay Mills are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, but they share a great chemistry. A new clip from director Oliver Stone’s Snowden, a biopic about the NSA whistleblower, premiered Friday that shows Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shailene Woodley strolling past protesters outside the White House with an early date vibe. Mills sides with the anti-war protesters, while Snowden has strong reservations. “I don’t really like bashing my country,” he says. “How about questioning the liberal media? You’re just buying into what one side is saying.”

“Maybe I am, because my side’s right!” Mills retorts. “You are a very frustrating individual, you know what? How am I going to make you see?” After Snowden went into hiding, Mills joined him in Moscow. She even appeared on stage at the 87th Oscars in 2015 when Citizenfour, the documentary about the Snowden leaks, took home the Best Documentary trophy. Source:

Miles Teller showed uncommon depth in the superior 2013 romantic dramedy The Spectacular Now, sharing the Special Jury Award for Acting at Sundance with his co-star, Shailene Woodley. Then came Whiplash. Teller had done some drumming at school, in a church choir and a band called the Mutes. Andrew, his character, was tortured and self-destructive, mercilessly hazed by a bullying teacher (JK Simmons, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor).

“I’m a pretty light-hearted person,” says Teller. “So how Andrew carried himself physically, how he related to people, his temperament, all those things couldn’t be further from me. But what I liked about that kid was the fact that he was an underdog.” Teller’s favourite scene was when Andrew charges from behind the drums to flatten his tormentor. “JK cracked a rib,” he laughs. “I’m not proud of it, but after a guy’s slapping you and yelling at you for three weeks straight…! I always dug that scene because he just finally snaps.” And at least Simmons can take comfort from his Academy Award. Teller exhales a plume of smoke, “He owes me one, for sure.”

Teller is engaged, wry and opinionated, especially on gun control in the States and the mental health of soldiers returning from war. “We’ve known how to send guys to war forever, but we really don’t know how to bring them back yet,” he says, citing a statistic that there are 22 veterans committing suicide every day in the US. Teller might act bulletproof, but it’s obvious that the Esquire story really stung him. “Oh, I felt frickin’ helpless, I felt extremely misrepresented, I felt a little angry,” he says, his voice almost cracking. 

“For the average person, they are reading this article, they haven’t met you, they’re like, ‘Oh Miles is an asshole. You didn’t hear it? You didn’t read that Esquire? Yeah, she said he was an asshole – he must be!’ “I’d say that you get a little more guarded but I’m actually not,” he goes on. “Certain times I’ll choose my words very carefully and maybe come off a little more boring. But I also think that’s why certain people do relate to me: because there is no agenda, honestly. I was raised middle-class in a small town. I have all my same friends from high school. I’m close with my family. I’m dating a normal girl. So I want to feel people think I’m a man of the people. Because I feel that way.” The “normal girl” is a bit of a stretch – Keleigh Sperry, his girlfriend of three years, is a model – but the point stands. Source:

Miles Teller’s hero of sorts, David Packouz, starts War Dogs a man adrift, working as a masseuse in Miami and trying to build a nest egg by selling high-end bed sheets to old folks homes. That changes when he reconnects with his best bud from 8th grade, Jonah Hill’s Efraim Diveroli, who has found the scam of all scams: undercutting the big boys by lowballing small government military contracts. 

Both as conceived by the screenwriters and played by Teller, Packouz is very Jimmy Stewart, meant to act as the common man to whom we are all supposed to relate. While the Whiplash star is extremely effective at this kind of acting, the real guy was more complicated and interesting: There is no mention of the real Packouz’s musical aspirations, for example, though he does appear in the film playing an acoustic version of "Don’t Fear the Reaper." For his part, Hill once again channels Joe Pesci by way of John Belushi. His high pitched cackle of a laugh—along with his penchant for snorting coke, is meant as shorthand to indicate that his character is a bad guy. Indeed, Diveroli’s greed and lack of loyalty prove to be the pair’s downfall.

The presence of both Hill and the white boy marauders armed with little more than modems and cell phones bring to mind Martin Scorsese’s misunderstood 2013 masterpiece The Wolf of Wall Street. Source:

David Packouz (Miles Teller), is a Miami Beach college dropout who works as a freelance massage therapist, a job the movie mocks: His big dream? To make a killing selling quality bedsheets to retirement homes. David has to overcome one ethical scruple that, at first, seems relatively minor: He and his fiancé, Iz (Ana de Armas), are against the war. But the moral conundrum at the heart of “War Dogs” starts small and then grows, like a tumor. It’s not just about the politics of war — it’s about the interpersonal worm of lying. “War Dogs” marks a key turning point for Phillips. After all these years of yocks, it’s his first true grown-up movie, and it’s a nimble, gripping, and terrific one, with plenty of laughs, only now they’re rooted in the reality of fear, and in behavior that’s authentically scurrilous. 

The key to it all is that the two actors play it straight. David, tense and calculating, but in way over his head, is our representative, and Miles Teller has the gift of making decency magnetic. As for Hill, amazingly, he forms a direct connection to the audience even though he’s playing an irredeemable, mostly charm-free jerk who may, in fact, be a reckless sociopath. We should, objectively, be repelled by him, but in “War Dogs,” Hill, more than ever, is a true star, with a hellbent charisma that comes from deep within. Phillips, to his credit, doesn’t hit us over the head. He threads the movie’s message through every encounter, until we feel the queasiness of how lying can eat away at us. “War Dogs” lets the audience taste the lure of big easy money, and then says: That’s a hangover you have to wake up from. Source:

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller and Ansel Elgort Triangle, "War Dogs" Premiere, "Jonathan"

Actress Shailene Woodley protested the building of an oil pipeline that will run through North and South Dakota. “Because not only are we saying enough is enough to the fossil-fuel industry but we’re saying enough is enough to silence. That’s why this fight is so profound to me.”

The 24-year-old “Divergent” star joined 200 other protesters last week to stop the construction of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline, the Bismarck Tribune reports. The project will run 1,100 miles through the Dakotas, and the actress says she is protesting it because she fears it will contaminate the ground water. “It is our responsibility to learn the narrative in which Native Americans recall their own history and are walking their own history, and this is a beautiful opportunity for that,” said Woodley. Source:

Unforgettably, Shailene Woodley once commented that she likes to sunbathe naked to “give my vagina a little vitamin D” and some of her favorite hobbies are bizarre: "I'm obsessed with the morphogenetic field right now. It's fascinating. It's essentially examining genetics through your quantum field and what you can learn from that."

Miles Teller: "Shailene is a great actress and I think that for my love interest I’m lucky that it’s been Shailene. She’s one of the most talented actresses around and it’s easy. She’s just very pretty and I'm very comfortable with her. I don’t know. It’s hard to talk about it. I’m in love with her." Source:

“Miles: he's like my brother. We love each other a lot and we got each other’s backs.” -Shailene Woodley about Miles Teller

“The Trailblazer Award is for someone who breaks the mold, they said. And that’s absolutely Shailene. I remember right after Divergent came out it was like the biggest movie in the world. And Shailene was the biggest star in the world. I honestly can say I’ve never been in a room with somebody who emits more of a radiant, positive light. Shailene is an incredible force of nature. I’m sure when she gets up here, she’d like to give you all a heart hug, which is where you hug and your hearts touch. But she can’t, so she’ll just accept the award graciously. But, Shailene, I love you. I feel like I’ve written a bunch of speeches for you at this point. I’m always happy to do it, because you’re an incredible actress. And that’s really only matched by your integrity, and who you are as a person.” -Miles Teller presents Shailene Woodley with the MTV 2015 Trailblazer Award

Miles Teller showed his softer side as he got a sweet kiss on the cheek from girlfriend Keleigh Sperry on Monday at the War Dogs premiere in Los Angeles. Miles looked dapper in a tailored blue three-piece suit with white dress shirt and dark skinny tie. Keleigh showed off her model looks in a long black Jovani  dress with front cutout and high thigh split.

The 29-year-old actor and 23-year-old model also hugged each other as they packed on the PDA on the carpet at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Source:

Miles Teller: "Me and my buddies in High School found a spot where we could get graphing calculators pretty cheap and thought there was a good profit margin there, like black market dealing graphic calculators to all of our geometry friends in High School. Some of my best friends are in the military so for me I always look at those things on a more personal level, I look at the people that it’s affecting and not so much globally." Source:

This week, Jonah Hill and Miles Teller will star in War Dogs, a movie about two white dudes who supply weapons to troops in Afghanistan. We're here to talk about something even more troubling: The fact that, according to the internet, Miles Teller and Ansel Elgort are not the same person.

Until very recently (when I Googled "Who is in War Dogs"), I had been operating under the impression that Miles Teller and Ansel Elgort were, if not the exact same person, at the very least wholly interchangeable, like two elements that could easily be subbed in for one another in a complicated chemical equation without accidentally blowing up the lab. Both are 6-foot-tall-ish and seem to have the kinds of faces that morph based on salt intake. Both have orbited around Shailene Woodley for years and years, playing brothers and boyfriends and dystopian ne'er-do-wells. Both seem to have been named by drunk elves. Source:

Ansel Elgort has come on board “Jonathan,” playing both twin roles in the independent movie, which is set to begin shooting next month in New York. Bill Oliver is directing from a script he co-wrote with Peter Nickowitz. Randy Manis and Ricky Tollman are producing and Neal Dodson is exec producing. Elgort will portray Jonathan and his twin brother John. Jonathan is a successful architect while John sleeps all day and spends the night socializing and starting to fall in love with a woman. Jonathan forces John to end the relationship, and then starts a new relationship with the woman himself.

Elgort’s credits include (starring Shailene Woodley): “The Fault in Our Stars,” the three “Divergent” films, the upcoming remake of “The Billionaire Boys Club” and “Baby Driver” from director Edgar Wright. He’s been in talks to star in “Dungeons and Dragons” for Warner Bros. Source:

Friday, August 12, 2016

"I Wake Up Dreaming" Noir Festival, Cathartic Rewards, Miles Teller at Café Gratitude

Film noir fans, rejoice: I Wake Up Dreaming, a month-long annual festival of genre classics, is underway at the Castro Theatre. Beginning tonight, films will screen every Wednesday evening through August 31st.  "Film noir, simply put, is a film style first popularized in America around 1940," Lavine explained. "It's photographically expressionistic, utilizing a high-contrast, monochromatic approach. Tilted camera angles help to accentuate the discordant nature of the narrative, which often centers around fatalistic concerns, criminal or otherwise. Duplicity is generally part of the package, with trust a barely recognizable commodity. Happy endings are usually in short supply." "Film noir's enduring popularity stems from the timelessness of cynicism, which is at the heart of film noir," Lavine said. 

"Every generation seems to have something to be disgruntled about, and film noir offers its own kind of cathartic rewards." Betty Grable, fondly remembered for her song and dance talents, is seen in a rare out-of-character role in 1941's I Wake Up Screaming, a dark tale of murder set under the bright lights of Broadway. Source:

Whiplash: A Stirring, Cathartic Masterpiece - Miles Teller is brilliant as the obsessive, slightly unbalanced, and yet bizarrely anti-charismatic charismatic. It is a master class performance that one hopes is only the start to even greater things although it is hard to imagine him topping this. The resolution of this film, to that point, is one of the best, most discomforting, disquieting, and singularly impactful scenes in recent memory. It is a visceral representation of agony and perseverance, of genius, madness and precision congealing beneath a sweat, blood and tear-laden veneer. Not since Black Swan has a film so elegantly tackled destructive obsession. But unlike that film, which by comparison is a gentle meditation, Whiplash is a catastrophic catharsis, a personification of the differences between people, those that will do anything and those that won’t. Source:

Miles Teller: "I don't see very much of myself at all, if any, in Whiplash. There's stuff that my character is doing where I'm like, 'I don't think I've ever made that face in my life.'"

"I can't get up," says Miles: "I want to stay in bed all day." A slight moan escapes his lips when I'm on top of him. His eyes are still closed but a smirk plays on his lips as I push his hair back and gently kiss his jaw. He sighs and opens his eyes. 'I'm so in love with you,' he says quietly and I sit up to look at him. 'What have you done to me?' -a small smile appears on his lips as he takes a strand of my hair and tucks it behind my ear. His thumb traces my bottom lip and still, after all of this time, my heartbeat quickens from his touch. Source:

As the Rolling Stones, Revlon, and Angelina Jolie can attest, not many body parts are more sexualized than the lips. A new study published in Royal Society Open Science suggests that we’re not the only primates that feel this way. Black-and-white snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus bieti) have a strict social hierarchy in which a few, older males mate with multiple females, while the younger males form bachelor groups and bide their time. Mating males’ lips redden during the mating season, whereas the bachelor males’ become paler. Scientists still aren’t sure why the animals’ lips seem to correspond with their social rank, but one idea is that females prefer the redder shades when choosing a mate, similar to how a female peacock chooses the male with the most elaborate tail. Another explanation could be: Paler lips could make bachelors appear less threatening, allowing the mating males to focus their aggression on other red-lipped competitors. Source:

Miles Teller pulls a black tin from his inside pocket and pops a little piece of Snus dipping tobacco into his mouth. We’re at Café Gratitude in Downtown LA, a high temple of vegan culture and green health where menu items have names such as “blissful” and “charismatic”. Mr Teller has been filming Granite Mountain, a movie about the Arizona wildfire tragedy of 2013, in which he plays a firefighter who lost 19 friends to the flames. “People are so quick to judge,” he says about his "boys are dumb" light comedies period. But tread carefully around that stuff with Teller. 

“They said, ‘Oh, he’s this frat guy’. But if you’re getting speaking parts in your twenties, that’s better than most people.” Teller is prickly, ambitious, a little surly. He’s annoyed that BuzzFeed ran something about his dyed blond hair – which is for his Granite Mountain character. “They were like, ‘Who does Miles Teller think he is?’” he says. “That shit nauseates me.” And in Granite Mountain, he loses close friends. Teller can relate. When he was 20 years old, he was thrown out of a car that flipped eight times while travelling at 80mph. No story about Teller is complete without that crash. 

You can still see the scars on his face. “I got lucky,” he says: “The EMT told me 99.9 per cent of people in these cases would be dead or paralysed. Recovery was slow. For years, I had to have steroid injections and laser surgery. Very painful.” Within a year of his crash, two of his friends died in separate car accidents. “I probably should have talked to a therapist,” he says. “But I always felt I had a pretty strong sense of self.” In that way, he relates to Vinny Paz. The fighter broke his neck in a car crash at 29, at the peak of his career. The doctors said he’d never fight again, but Mr Paz disobeyed their orders to work out with a full neck and head brace and, within 13 months, he was back in the ring and won again. 

It’s unarguably the greatest comeback in boxing history. To get into a lightweight boxer’s shape, Teller didn’t eat carbs or have a beer for eight months. He boiled down to 168lb and just six per cent body fat. He got Pazienza’s accent and mannerisms down to a tee. “Vinny came on set one time,” says Teller. “I didn’t want to be doing him in front of him, but in the end, I was so proud of my preparation I wanted to show him. I wanted him to see himself at age 26. And he sent me a voicemail afterwards. He said, ‘Miles, you did me so perfectly!’” 

His phone bleeps. It’s time for Mr Fantastic to go home to Studio City, where he’s getting measured up for some suits. “I’ve got to do all these talk shows but I haven’t got anything to wear.” But after that, it’s just Mr Teller and his model girlfriend Ms Keleigh Sperry having a quiet evening in. “I got my Snus, I got my ESPN, I’m taking it easy tonight,” he grins. Source: