Trailers after dark: “Elektra Luxx” sets the porn industry on fire, or something

As if to give me an excuse to simply mention the name “Charlie Sheen” in the hopes of increasing our web-sters or googleties or whatever they’re called, along comes this trailer for “Elektra Luxx.” It’s a comedy about the porn business with a rather remarkable cast — Carla Gugino, Malin Ackerman, Timothy Olyphant and Joseph Gordon-Levitt for starters — and, though it’s just possible this might not be a masterpiece, this trailer gave me one or two of best laughs I’ve had in a week or so.

That Gordon-Levitt guy is such a card.

Anyhow, “Elektra Luxx” is actually a sequel to a Pedro Almodovar-esque looking movie called “Women in Trouble” from writer-director Sebastian Gutierrez, and it played at SXSW almost a year back. If you want to catch up before this comes out in March, and I sort of want to, the first film is available on Netflix streaming, so I just might be checking it out some lazy day.

Semi h/t (their version wasn’t embeddable): JoBlo.

  

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Winter 2011 TCA Press Tour: Day 11 – or – The Day The Tour Ended

As I start this write-up of the final day of the Winter 2011 TCA Press Tour, it actually still is the final day of the Winter 2011 TCA Press Tour. Normally, I don’t start these things until the next day, after everything that’s going to happen has happened, but the last panel of the tour wrapped at around 2 PM PST, so as far as I’m concerned, I’m officially off-duty. The only thing left for me to do is pack my bags, grab some food, have a few drinks with friends, and catch my shuttle to LAX…and, yet, I thought about it and decided, “Since I’ve actually got the time to do it, maybe I should go ahead and write up the last few panels before I ever leave Pasadena.”

Makes sense, right? That way, there’ll be nothing hanging over my head to finish when I get home, and I can enjoy at least a day or two of much-needed downtime.

Unfortunately, none of the transcripts are online yet, so you won’t be getting any exact quotes unless the fine folks in the transcription department manage to get them knocked out between now and 2:00 AM (that’s when I have to head down to the lobby), so you’ll just have to make do with a few random recollections for now, and I’ll play catch-up when I’m home, rested, and ready to write again.

Even before John Landgraf took the time to do a teleconference with TV critics to explain why FX had to cancel “Terriers,” I’ve thought he was one of the nicest and most approachable network presidents. Mind you, I blame this really just on one experience with him, when he made good on a promise to reveal the producer who was working on a rewrite of FX’s “Powers” pilot (Kevin Falls, who may or may not still be involved at this point), but the “Terriers” move was a classy one that just helped to underline how I already felt. He sounds hopeful that “Lights Out” won’t follow the same path in the ratings as “Terriers,” and, boy, so do I. I’ve seen the first five episodes of the show already, and I’m loving it.

Next up was Louis CK, who couldn’t have sounded more grateful about the way the critics have embraced his series…but, then, he was probably already beaming from the praise that had just been heaped on him by Landgraf in his introduction. We didn’t really get much of an idea what to expect from Season 2, which stands to reason, since he hasn’t even started production yet. The funniest moment came when FX exec John Solsberg invited all of the critics in the audience to visit the set, something which clearly hadn’t been mention to Louie, who shot him a tremendous “what the fuck?” look.

Even after talking to Elijah Wood at the Fox party the other night, I still couldn’t quite wrap my head around what to expect from his new sitcom, “Wilfred,” about a man who, when he looks at his neighbor’s dog, sees a man in a dog suit who talks in an Australian accent. (It’s based on an Australian series, with the same actor – Jason Gann – playing the dog in both.) Having now seen the pilot, though, I was rather surprised to find myself laughing a lot. It’s absolutely as ridiculous as it sounds, but Gann is hysterical, so I’m now curious to see if it’s going to be more than just a one-off. Of the panel, I really just have one immediate observation: Fiona Gubelmann is cute as a button and has legs that go on for miles.

The last of FX’s panels was for “Justified,” but even with a huge panel, I couldn’t help but notice one face missing: Elmore Leonard, the author responsible for creating the character of Marshall Raylan Givens. As it turns out, he’s been so inspired by the show that he’s now in the middle of writing a brand new novel entitled…you guessed it…Raylan. In his absence, though, Leonard offered a statement in which he raved about the show, particularly the performance of Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens. Funnily enough, though, Olyphant wasn’t asked a question until well into the proceedings, a fact which he noted with mock indignation. (“It’s like they got together and said, ‘Hey, nobody ask Walt (Goggins) or Tim a question. Fuck those guys. Fuck those guys. Nobody say anything to them.’”) I really need to finish catching up on this show before Season 2 kicks off, because I love all that I’ve seen thus far.

After FX’s panel, the network provided us with a free lunch, along with the opportunity to chat with several stars of the shows. I had ridiculously bad timing whenever it came to trying to grab members of the “Wilfred” cast for interviews, but I was pleasantly surprised to see Holt McCallany, who plays Patrick “Lights” Leary on “Lights Out.” Fantastic guy, and we had a really nice conversation about the show and how his character develops over the course of the episodes I’ve seen thus far. He swears the best is yet to come.

Okay, kids, I’m tired of waiting for the transcripts to come in, so I’m…

Dammit! That’s what I get for checking: they all just came in at once. Okay, fine, I’ll offer up a few quotes to close up my coverage. I hope you’ve enjoyed getting my perceptions of this strange event known as the TCA Press Tour. Stay tuned for my final wrap-up sometime soon…and look for further adventures during the 2011 Summer TCA Press Tour!

“What I felt about ‘Terriers’ was that the audience that was watching it, which included many of you and hundreds of thousands, actually, ultimately, in total viewers, millions of people at home, I knew they were going to be really disappointed it wasn’t moving forward, and I thought that they deserved as clear an explanation I could give them as to why it wasn’t, and a chance for you, as their representatives, to sort of have at me and ask why isn’t it coming back and for me to explain myself. I don’t know why networks haven’t done that before. I’ve never done it before. And I guess maybe it’s just that I’m now coming up on seven years in this job. And in seven years, you have some great successes and moments of exultation, and you have bragging rights, and then you have some failures. And I think you just get used to the rhythms of both in your work and eventually you get to the point where you’re capable of embracing your failures, learning from them, and talking about them. I think most programming executives are just fundamentally too insecure or too defensive to get to that point. And maybe I’m just old enough and I’ve been doing it long enough that I can take that tag.

“I think there’s always been a disconnect, unfortunately, between audience taste and critical acclaim. I think in those rare circumstances where you all have near unanimity and are willing to stand up on a table and shout, ‘This is the greatest show of all time,’ I think you guys can move the needle. But I think the reality is that you disagree with each other most of the time. Unanimity is rare, and most of you don’t feel you want to stand up on a table and shout even if you like a show, so you have to raise a huge din. You did raise a huge din on ‘Mad Men,’ and what that did — ‘Mad Men’ has become, by our analysis, literally the most critically acclaimed series in the history of television. (You have) taken it from a dismal ratings failure to ratings mediocrity.” – John Landgraf

Read the rest of this entry »

  

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SXSW 2010: Elektra Luxx

It’s only been a year since the premiere of the micro-budget comedy, “Women in Trouble,” but that hasn’t stopped director Sebastian Gutierrez from rushing out the second installment in his proposed trilogy just in time for its anniversary. There wasn’t a whole lot of outcry for a sequel, but considering just how fast and cheap these movies are to make, there probably wasn’t any time to wait around to find out. Unfortunately, while “Women in Trouble” featured a series of fun interconnected stories anchored by a clever script and strong performances from its mostly female cast, “Elektra Luxx” only offers a sliver of what made the first movie one of 2009’s underrated gems.

Picking up weeks after the events of “Women in Trouble,” the film opens with adult film star Elektra Luxx (Carla Gugino) still coping with the news that she’s pregnant. Now teaching a class on on making love like a porn star at the local community center, Elektra’s life is complicated once again when Cora (Marley Shelton) arrives in town with a proposition: help ease her guilty conscience by sleeping with her fiancé (Justin Kirk), and in return, she’ll give Elektra the lost lyrics of her late boyfriend, Nick Chapel (Josh Brolin). On the other side of town, porn blogger Bert Rodriguez (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) mourns Elektra’s exit from the adult film industry, only to be horrified to discover his sister (Amy Rossof) is interested in breaking in to the business, while Bambi Emmanuelle Chriqui) and Holly (Adrianne Palicki) head to Mexico for vacation.

electra_luxx

To say that either plotline is integral to Elektra’s story would be pushing it, however, because while they do eventually come together in the end, “Elektra Luxx” isn’t as much of an ensemble effort as the first film. You needn’t look any further than the title of the movie to know that it’s predominantly about Elektra, and although Carla Gugino is great as the blonde bombshell (even getting a chance to show off her diversity playing Elektra’s lispy twin sister in a flashback sequence), it just doesn’t have the same charm as “Women in Trouble.” Only a handful of actors return for the second go-around (including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whose role has been expanded beyond a short cameo), while many of the new characters, like Timothy Olyphant’s private investigator and Emma Bell’s cheating wife, aren’t on screen long enough to make an impression.

Thankfully, Emmanuelle Chriqui and Adrianne Palicki are also back for more, because they’re easily my favorite characters of the series. Palicki, in particular, steals the show as the lovesick amateur porn star, earning big laughs just about every time she opens her mouth. It’s at times like these where Gutierrez’s script shines, and although there aren’t as many here as in the previous movie, the writing remains his biggest strength. As a director, it’s a completely different story. Though Gutierrez definitely deserves points for experimenting with everything from black-and-white flashbacks to fantasy sequences and musical numbers, none of them are necessary and only take you out of the moment. Granted, “Elektra Luxx” isn’t a bad movie, but it’s still a disappointment after seeing how much could be accomplished with so little in “Women in Trouble.”

  

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“Justified” kicks ass

Pardon the crude title, but there just isn’t any other way to say it. After watching last night’s premiere, it’s clear that “Justified” is poised to become the next great FX series.

One part “The Shield,” one part “Sons of Anarchy” and one part “True Blood,” “Justified” follows Raylen Givins (Timothy Olyphant) a somewhat disgraced (yet badass) Deputy Marshall who is assigned to Eastern Kentucky (and his hometown of Harlan) after losing his plum assignment in Miami over a shooting he deemed “justified.” The series is based on a short story by Elmore Leonard.

The antagonist — at least for the first episode — is Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins, who you’ll recognize from his role as Shane Vendrell on “The Shield”), an Aryan criminal with a propensity for blowing things up.

There’s also Raylen’s ex-girlfriend, Winona (Natalie Zea), and Ava (Joelle Carter), who would like to be his new squeeze.

The first episode was about bad blood between Raylen and Boyd, but it looks like each week, Raylen will be working on a different assignment, ranging from witness protection to prison transfer to hunting down criminals. Olyphant was terrific in the role of sheriff on “Deadwood,” so he’s not going to have any problem carrying this series — he already owns this part.

If you miss “The Shield” and like “Sons of Anarchy,” give “Justified” a shot. It’s well worth the time.

  

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“Shutter Island,” “Cop Out,” and “The Crazies” mine money from mayhem for an R-rated weekend

Pretty much everything happened this weekend the way it was supposed to. As discussed here late Thursday (or very early Friday if you’re on the East Coast), Martin Scorsese‘s cop-psychological thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio, “Shutter Island,” was expected to come in at the #1 spot after having a drop of something in the 50% range. Meanwhile, the new Kevin Smith-directed Bruce Willis/Tracy Morgan buddy-cop comedy, “Cop Out,” and the quasi-zombie horror remake, “The Crazies,” were supposed to fight it out for the #2 spot and do reasonably well. That’s precisely what happened.

As per the filmic bean coutners of Box Office Mojo,  “Shutter Island” suffered only a lower-than-usual 45.9% drop. It therefore stayed on-top with a healthy estimated $22.2 million for Paramount, which won’t hurt the Scorsese/DiCaprio brand any.

Tracey Morgan and Bruce Willis I thought “Cop Out” was, at heart, a moderately lousy movie but also had to admit to almost kind of enjoying a lot of it. That was a rave compared to most critics. Still, as I suspected, the movie delivered the cop comedy goods just enough to keep audiences coming  and it netted Warners a perfectly acceptable estimated $18.5 million in the #2 spot for a modestly budgeted ($30 miillion) comedy.

“The Crazies,” which actually got its share of decent reviews, scored a solid estimate of $16.5 for the weekend for Overture. That’s actually a bit better than it sounds for the George A. Romero remake, because it was in nearly 500 fewer theaters than “Cop Out” and its per screen was average was nearly $700 higher than the comedy. Also, with stars Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell presumably asking less upfront than Morgan and Willis, it’s budget was $10 million cheaper.

The highest per screen average this week was, as usual, for a limited release film. Still, considering that it expanded this week from four to 43 theaters this weekend and managed a really good $20,233 per screen, Roman Polanski’s political thiller, “The Ghost Writer” did very well for itself.

As for poor little “Avatar” it made only a measly $14 million estimated this week in the #4 spot. But do not cry for the Na’vi, it’s still on top in the international box office sweepstakes. Nor should you shed tears for Hollywood overall. As Nikki Finke points out, revenue is up, even if attendance is just a tad down.

http://www.bullz-eye.com/mguide/reviews_2009/avatar.htm

  

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