Ang Lee might be filming in Hudson Valley

Larchmont resident Ang Lee’s movie Taking Woodstock will begin production this month and might be filming in the Hudson Valley. tjndc5-5de524bya43vmz4l6rk_original.jpg

The Times Herald Record reports today we should know by next week on whether or not Ang Lee will shoot the film locally.

If they do, our readers living in the northern end of the Hudson Valley are in for a treat.

The movie is based on the memoir of Elliot Tiber, a hotel worker who helped save Woodstock by helping organizers find a venue. The movie is not necessarily about the 1969 concert, but rather the chaos in organizing it.

The person playing Tiber will be comedian Demetri Martin. Hilarious guy on stage (I opened for him in Cleveland last year, woot woot), and I’m really curious to see how he’ll be able to take on a dramtatic role.

Liev Schrieber (The Manchurian Candidate) and Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild) are also in the flick.

If anyone has any more details on where they will be filming, drop us a line!

(AP Photo/Jerome Favre)

Podcast: July 23

On the show this week: A former director and a stranded motorist — both from Larchmont — praise the late Heath Ledger, and a David Lee Roth impostor fools Canadian cops.

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At the end of the video and after the break is the answer to this week’s quiz: The twins of Brad Pitt and former Sneden’s Landing resident Angelina Jolie were born earlier this month in what country?

A. France
B. Namibia
C. Spain
D. United States
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No Joke: Heath Ledger’s Oscar buzz boosted as ‘Dark Knight’ has record-breaking weekend

Like pretty much everyone else in the country this weekend, I caught “The Dark Knight.” Beyond the gripping action sequences, moody ambiance and stellar special effects, the haunting performance of the late Heath Ledger is what makes the movie a must-see.

ledger.jpgTrue to the accounts I’d heard and read prior to seeing the movie, he disappears into the role in a way that unfathomably outdoes Jack Nicholson, who by comparison was playing a cranky Jack Nicholson in clown makeup. Among comic book movies I’ve seen, Ledger made the Joker by far the most believable villain, making his posthumous performance all the more chilling. He made the character murderous but multidimensional, ruthless but riotous.

Unlike Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance in “There Will Be Blood,” Ledger’s isn’t quite the slam-dunk for a best actor Oscar, but even with months to go before the Academy Awards and a previous nod for “Brokeback Mountain,” it would be hard to argue against another nomination at this point of the movie season.

Oscar-winner Ang Lee, a Larchmont resident who directed Ledger in “Brokeback Mountain,” said a few months ago that when he heard Ledger’s Joker hiss the line “Let’s put a smile on that face,” Lee didn’t recognize the actor behind it until he looked at the screen.

I couldn’t believe that was Heath. He was such a different person, used such a different voice for Brokeback Mountain. It’s haunting, how much he disappeared into his characters. It wasn’t until I heard that, that I realized just how gifted he was with his voice.

But talent isn’t the only reason Ledger, who died Jan. 22 after an apparent accidental drug overdose, has been missed. A day after his death, Suburbarazzi noted that CNN printed a quote attributed to Dan Bova of Larchmont:

Once when I was driving in Brooklyn, I got a flat tire. As I was jacking up my car, this deep voice from behind me said, ‘Need a hand?’ It was Heath Ledger. I couldn’t believe it. He helped jack up my car and change the tire. He was really good with tools!

All the more reason that the six Americans who haven’t already seen “The Dark Knight” should do so sooner than later.

(Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/USA Today.)

Will Ang Lee’s Woodstock film actually be filmed at Woodstock?

Back in April we first heard about Westchester resident Ang Lee’s latest film, “Taking Woodstock,” a comedy about the part-time hotel manager who issued the permit for the famous concert.

tjndc5-5b5f7m7stjaupsysezi_layout.jpgIt seemed like a no-brainer that the movie would be filmed somewhere in the Hudson Valley, either in Bethel, where the events in question took place, or somewhere nearby. Lee could even commute from his home in Larchmont!

Um, not so fast.
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Ang Lee versus the Canadian Parliament

It’s not unusual for Oscar winner Ang Lee to show up to Larchmont town hall to weigh in on whatever small-town issue is currently before the board (according to one of our colleagues, he’s pretty engaged with the community), tjndc5-5j3sluhaa041ddaww9ec_layout1.jpgbut who knew that the director would ever take on the Canadian government?

The issue in question is Bill C-10, a piece of pending legislation that would deny tax credits to any films or videos filmed in the country that are deemed offensive to the public.

As Lee pointed out in an article in the Globe and Mail, his film Brokeback Mountain, about gay cowboys, was shot in Calgary. “People should be free to say anything.” He added that the bill was almost like censorship and urged young filmmakers to “make a noise, whatever” to stop it from being ratified.

(AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

Two hours of peace, love, and Ang Lee

For reasons that still baffle me, plenty of Marvel fanboys came out of the woodwork yesterday to dispute the assertion that the new Hulk movie will be anything but awesome. And while they were 100 percent right that I’m not a “true Hulk fan,” I was heartened to hear that more than a few of them liked the 2003 Hulk movie by Larchmont’s Ang Lee. As  Coquito Von Tito put it, “I just hope they didn’t dumb down the high standards set by the Ang Lee film, which, we all must admit, was too highbrow to sell.”

tjndc5-5j3sluhaa041ddaww9ec_layout.jpgWell put. The good news — for us highbrow junkies, anyway — is that Lee is still delivering the goods. As the The Hollywood Reporter reports, he’s even signed on for another trip to Brokeback territory, in the form of the upcoming film “Taking Woodstock.” This movie will revolve around the life of the Greenwich Village interior designer and part-time Catskills hotel manager who issued the permit for a certain three-day-long 1969 concert in Bethel, NY. A little party called Woodstock. According to THR, it’ll be based on Elliot Tiber’s 2007 memoir “Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, a Concert, and a Life,” and produced — as all Lee movies are — with James Schamus and Focus Features.

Marvel — who needs ’em anyway?

(AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

More trailer trash: ‘The Incredible Hulk’ and ‘Speed Racer’

After reading Entertainment Weekly’s Summer Movie Preview issue this weekend, I got a little trailer obsessed.

I’ve already shared my thoughts on “Indy 4” (oh, hell yeah) and “Righteous Kill” (eh, not so righteous looking). But I wanted to take a minute out to look at two more of the summer’s biggest expected blockbusters — “The Incredible Hulk” and “Speed Racer” — both of which, by the way, have LoHud connections. Tenuous LoHud connections, but still enough for me to post the trailers.


Watch the video and join the debate after the break.

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Ang Lee adopted by Brangelina

Not quite sure what Adar Eisenbruch was going for in his piece for the Johns Hopkins News Ledger — a kind of “Shouts and Murmurs” riff, presumably. Whatever it is, I like it.

And since there aren’t nearly enough reasons to write about low-key Larchmont resident Ang Lee, I figured I’d point y’all to this.

One little excerpt:

Asked how the 53-year-old Lee would fit into their family, Jolie acknowledged that he was “a bit” older than the other children she and Pitt have adopted but explained that they “were looking for a different sort of parenting challenge.” She further stated that the couple hopes that “Anggie” would be a “good big brother, a role model” to their other children, named Maddox, Pax, Zahara and Shiloh.

“Brad, Angelina adopt Ang Lee” [JHNL]

Hooray for NC-17: ‘Lust Caution’ wins ShoWest ‘Freedom of Expression Award’

Ang Lee may have gotten snubbed by the Academy, which didn’t allow his film “Lust Caution” to compete in the Best Foreign Language Film category (because some of the film’s crew members were not Taiwanese), but he’s still racking up plenty of other nominations and wins. Among the “Best Film” awards the flick has taken: The Golden Horse, the Satellite Award, and the Golden Lion.

And next week it’s getting yet another, from, of all groups, the National Association of Theater Owners. As Variety reports, Lee and his longtime producing partner James Schamus are being recognized for allowing their film to be released with an NC-17 rating (rather than, say, slashing some scenes to appease the MPAA and get an R). The two are getting the “Freedom of Expression Award” at the annual ShoWest conference in Vegas.

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Oscars, Suburbarazzi-style: Local nominees and recent winners

oscar2.jpgThis Friday at 7:30 p.m. EST, Ted Mann and I will join TV reporter Karen DePodwin for a live RNN segment about Sunday’s Academy Awards. I’ll be wearing my tux for only the third time since my senior year in college, so the comedic value of that alone might be worth the tune-in. Here’s a preview of one of the topics slated for discussion.

Stars with a connection to the Lower Hudson Valley have done very well for themselves at the Oscars over the years, and 2008 is no exception.

Eight-time Oscar-winner Alan Menken, a New Rochelle native and North Salem resident, has been nominated three times for his songs from the Disney movie “Enchanted.” He took home his first two trophies for Best Song and Best Score for “The Little Mermaid,â€? and his most recent ones were in the same categories for songs from “Pocahontas.â€? In total, he’s been nominated for a whopping 18 Oscars, but hasn’t won one since 1996.

First-time nominee and sentimental favorite Ruby Dee, a New Rochelle resident, is nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her part in “American Gangster,” starring Mount Vernon native Denzel Washington and former Nyack dweller Russell Crowe — both of whom are Oscar-winners themselves.

LoHud also has at least two representatives in the Best Documentary/Short Subject category, including Ossining High School alumnus Francisco Bello (for “Salim Baba”) and former Croton-on-Hudson resident Cynthia Wade (for “Freeheld”).

After the break, check out a list of some other prominent current and former residents of the Lower Hudson Valley who have won or have been nominated for an Oscar in the last 30 years. Continue reading

Tuesday Twofer — ‘American Gangster’ and ‘Lust Caution’ out on DVD

Two of the best movies of 2007 (starring local celebs) are out on DVD today.

70060009.jpgFor my money, I still say “American Gangster” was as good (and enjoyable) as just about any other Best Picture nominee that isn’t named “Juno.” It’s bizarre that New Rochelle resident Rube Dee is the only person to get nominated from the film, especially considering that Mount Vernon native son Denzel Washington was at the top of his game. Anyway, if you didn’t see it in the video, be sure to add it to your Netflix queue.

70059999.jpgAnd the other movie is “Lust Caution,” directed by Larchmont’s Ang Lee. This too was snubbed by the Academy in the best foreign language category. Bunch of prudes, I say.

Thanks to F.O.S. Amy Vernon for the tip.

Ang Lee: ‘A Caligula among directors’?

In the aftermath of the Heath Ledger tragedy, director Ang Lee — who worked with Ledger on “Brokeback Mountain” and lives in Larchmont — had one of the nicest quotes about the actor in any of the stories I read.


“Working with Heath was one of the purest joys of my life. He brought to the role of Ennis more than any of us could have imagined – a thirst for life, for love and for truth, and a vulnerability that made everyone who knew him love him. His death is heartbreaking.” </div></blockquote>


Eager to find any other comments Lee has made about Ledger in the past, I stumbled upon something even better: an article in The Age about how Lee is a cruel, cruel tyrant on film sets. As the story put it, Hugh Grant once nicknamed the normally softspoken man “Fang Lee” after shooting Sense and Sensibility. The only other evidence that the story puts forward to back up its claim is the Heath Ledger once said (with Lee standing at his side) that the director “drove him and Jake Gyllenhaal to the outer limit of physical endurance in freezing temperatures.”

I’m not sure how exactly that qualifies him as an evil taskmaster, but the article goes on, “Under that mild-mannered exterior — consisting of a gentle-to-inaudible speaking voice, self-deprecating manner and an overall Zen calm — lurks a driven obsessive, a Caligula among directors.”

As for another claim in the article — that Lee spent 100 hours filming a ten minute sex scene for “Lust Caution” — well, that’s just plain common sense. And, I think, even something that a frostbitten Heath Ledger would have approved of.

“Fang Lee: Cruel but True” [The Age]

(AP Photo/Focus Features)