Dating Jared Leto



There was a point in time where Jared Leto was dating a whole slew of twenty something actresses, and it made no sense. He was in his has-been phase, or he was pursuing his band or whatever (and they are inexplicably big, I believe). But seeing him squiring the likes of Scarlett Johansson…

STILL TRUE. To use, um, Twilight parlance, this man has basically imprinted on a whole generation of women. It’s crazy. And he’s going to win an Oscar tonight! Did you ever think it’d be Oscar winner Jared Leto?

Wayback Machine: Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright, and Nick Frost in a SUV

[Fun interview to do, genuinely nice guys. On the Hot Fuzz DVD special features, there is a quick shot of my big head backstage when they’re in Cambridge, MA. I only learned about it from two dudes that I didn’t know so well separately telling me. Very odd. I saw Simon Pegg in NYC years later and we had a quick chat and it was very pleasant and I felt like I was moving on up in the world. Also, let’s be honest: look at that Joe Cornish, who made an awesome film!]

In the midst of a whirlwind world tour to promote their new film, ‘Hot Fuzz,’ the jokes are fast and furious

By Elisabeth Donnelly
Globe Correspondent

“Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, the UK for four days, Amsterdam, then New Amsterdam, New York, and then we came to Washington, and then here,” said the floppy haired Edgar Wright, director of the new cop spoof “Hot Fuzz,” the follow-up to 2004’s much-loved zombie romantic comedy “Shaun of the Dead.”

“In two days we’ll be in Chic-aaaago,” added actor Simon Pegg, attempting the rounded vowels of a Boston accent.

“All in the span of about three weeks,” finished Wright, “We’re slightly going on dementia where certain phrases get stuck in a loop.” Wright and “Fuzz” stars Pegg and Nick Frost were in junket land, where the city changes every 36 hours and nearly every second of their time is devoted to working on their online video blog, charming their legion of ardent fans at regional “Hot Fuzztivals,” and giving the press interesting quotes – such as Wright’s assertion that “ 'Hot Fuzz’ is ['Armageddon’ director] Michael Bay meets Agatha Christie.” (A more accurate quote would replace “meets” with a rude and hilarious sexual innuendo)

The multitalented funnymen, longtime collaborators also known for the cult British TV show “Spaced,” were jet-lagged and exhausted yet committed to providing the best “Hot Fuzz” preview screening experience possible. The 30-something Fuzzers convened in the lobby of the new Ritz-Carlton early Sunday afternoon before heading to Cambridge for the screening. Pegg, who is skinnier and more attractive than his shlubby film persona suggests, was the first one to appear, wearing a navy-blue army cap pulled low over his eyes. Wright was late as usual, and Frost, (“I call him Frosty and he calls me Peggy,” Pegg said) had disappeared for a smoke. In a surreal touch, a basketball team arrived at the hotel, and a continuous stream of extremely tall men poured into the hotel while Pegg talked about his and Frost’s night at “Old Bar or something,” where he drank so much that he ended up buying a commemorative T-shirt.

Once the “Hot Fuzz” team, including video blogger Joe Cornish, was accounted for, the four Brits jumped into the shiny black SUV that was taking them across the river to Harvard Square’s Brattle Theatre.

Cornish grabbed the front seat, turned on his camera, and pointed it at the back seat: “Act like I’m not here,” he said, then giggled. “I feel so anarchic not wearing a seat belt!”

“We’re constantly talking or blogging,” said Wright. “We did loads of it on the film, because we blogged our way through the shoot. Where did web blogging come from? Where did the actual verb come from, it’s medieval ”

“It’s weblog,” added Frost.

“It’s when they used to record things on logs.” Cornish joked.

“Big logs,” Frost said.

As the van went past Fenway Park, Frost and Pegg put their faces to the glass. “What’s Fenway Park like?” asked Frost, “Is it the home of the big green wall? Is it covered in ivy?”

“The last time we were here, in 2004,” he said, “they won the World Series.”

“We bring good mojo,” said Wright.

“Fenway Paaark,” Pegg said with an improved Boston accent.

Frost kept peering out the window with a curiosity befitting his naïve comic persona, asking, Where’s Harvard? Where’s MIT?

Pegg and Frost had a ready response to the eternal “Spaced” query, “Can dogs look up?” – an ad-lib that stuck thanks to a shoddy dog trainer on the set.

“They can’t. They really can’t.” replied Pegg.

“They can move their eyes up, but they can’t pivot their heads,” said Frost.

It makes sense, Frost explained, because dogs “have no airborne predators.”

In Cambridge, the Harvard jokes began.

“There’s a lot of tramps here,” Frost said. “They’re very smart tramps.”

“Can I have 5 dollars for my Michel Focault book?” Pegg asked.

The car pulled up to the Brattle, and the Fuzzers spilled out, transforming from loopy junket men to rock stars pressing the flesh.

They said “hi” to the cowed crowd before being whisked backstage via a circuitous route around the back of the building and through a side door. “This is just like 'Goodfellas!’” Wright said happily.

And then it was time to leave the stars to their duty. Their fans were waiting.

Originally published in The Boston Globe Thursday, March 29, 2007


Last night I watched a well-received film featuring terrible prosthetics, and it was both well entertaining and basically lacking in that-hard-to-pin-down quality, soul. Anyways, I realized that I have a particular aversion to this director - who is very talented, and whose work, so far, has been far more good than bad but oddly unsatisfying - and part of it’s due to the fact that I do not care, one whit, about any of the humans in his work; the human condition is sacrificed for cool shit, party tricks, and it all goes down like something delicious and kind of forgettable. It was also full of guns and you know what? I’m seriously not in the mood for any movies that treat death in such a cavalier fashion.

I will admit in this case that my feelings err on the side of irrational because I think this man’s ego - the desire to point out how clever he is in every frame - leeched into his turns behind the camera on my favorite TV show, leading to the chilliest, worst episodes (it should be obvious who this is, obviously). It’s funny, too - my favorite TV show is familiar with death, and there have been shootouts, but a high percentage of the deaths on the show have mattered and have had weight and I think that’s important for the psyche.

But I also think that directors along the likes of this guy and the other guy with a movie coming out soon (hint: the star of my favorite TV show would be the Kevin Bacon-like link), directors who have done entertainments, who have tried action and done something reasonably novel enough even if that doesn’t make them the next great artiste; well, I feel like people should chill out about that person’s oeuvre. (Funny - both of these directors have taken on actors about my age as muses, and they’re not very good in most of their works!) They’re talked about in far too elevated terms when I think they’re just … pleasant talents - who make moderately entertaining, above-the-norm work with a woman problem - who certainly have the potential to go all David Gordon Green-like run of trash in the future.

In short, nobody’s going to be talking about this guy in 20 years, but the amount of ego laced throughout his work means you know he thinks that could be the case, and it’s so annoying. And I think he’s part of a movement of overrated writer-director types, and I think there need to be more straight-up humanists making movies and art out there, and not just easily impressed little boys.

I interviewed photographer Gregory Crewdson for The Paris Review Daily, where we talked about the movies (Lynch, Hitchcock, Malick), the pursuit of things that are perfect, digital versus film, and Mad Men, of course. In the “good news” category: Wes Anderson is finally working at a quicker pace. Hooray!

Fun fact, I don’t know if this remains in the final piece: Mr. Crewdson watches Mad Men on his iPad, because it reminds him of looking through the ground glass on his 8 by 10 camera, which makes a lot of sense.


Went to Bodega Bay, California for a wedding. It’s a small town probably best known as the filming location for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Most of the locations have burned down but the church is still there, and the Bodega General Store has loads of Hitchcock memorabilia, and a Hitchcock figure stands watch over the entrance, giving mad #shade to anyone who comes by.

It is absolutely irresistible to take many, many photos of oneself screaming and running from birds. There is Tippi Hedren wine available for thirty dollars.

It’s heartbreakingly beautiful there, in particular by the ocean and the bay. The church is a little bit inland, in the town center where it feels like the west.

I drove out to Santa Rosa to visit my aunt, listening to bad satellite radio the whole way, but at one point the new Jens Lekman came on, “I Know What Love Isn’t,” and it was pretty perfect. Jens Lekman really works when you’re driving through wine country, winding back and forth down dusty roads, looking at flora and cows.

The directors of James’ favorite indie films - “Manny & Lo,” “All Over Me,” and “Tully” - essentially disappeared after their initial offerings. So he knows that he needs to get another project going fast, and it needs to pop.
— Taken from Tad Friend’s New Yorker profile of Little Birds director Elgin James. What Friend is ignoring in this case, however, is that all four directors of said (very good and worth watching) films are women. Probably not that coincidental, in this case.

Oslo, August 31st

I wrote about why Joachim Trier’s films - Oslo, August 31st and Reprise - are just the best, for The Paris Review Daily. I also get a kick out of how the star of both films, Anders Danielsen Lie, is a doctor in real life, released a concept album about autism, is married to a supermodel, and the couple of films that he’s been in - including one he made as a ten year old that was nominated for an Academy Award - have done wonderfully. Do his friends hate him for being very successful at life?

For those who like to keep score (check Richard Rushfield’s “The Painfully Brief Candle of Modern Auteurs,” a totally fun theory) Trier is now two for two with great films, and I’m really curious as to whether he can keep it up - for two directors that I was very excited about at one point, Wes Anderson and David Gordon Green, their third film was where the seams started showing (Team Rushmore, less The Royal Tenenbaums), and they’ve been up and down ever since, one director sticking to a vision, the other… not. I think it’s different for foreign directors that can get arts funding, however.

I have slight issues with the use of the word “auteur” as an French, chic-sounding catch-all replacement for “film director,” as, contextually, Kael and Sarris-ly, at the least, it referred to seeing a director’s signature even in work-for-hire stuff, when it’s more used willy-nilly these days with relatively visionary directors of any stripe, including writer/directors. Kind of like the evolution of the word “peruse,” which I think means to read thoroughly and carefully in the OED and now is used for indicating that you flipped through something.

Still taken from “Give Us Today Our Daily Terror,” Martijn Hendricks, 2008

I have to go to Bodega Bay, California for a wedding in September. Bodega Bay is best known for being the setting of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, although most of the buildings featured in the movie have been torn down. (Tippi Hedren still signs autographs there, though.) It’s the week after a wedding on a farm in the middle of Kentucky bourbon country, which will be fun.

These weddings are the closest thing to a vacation this year. I want to go to Paris, but instead I’ll go to California. Should we try to camp at Big Sur in between weddings? Or just hang out for the week in LA and see whether we can get jobs there? What would you do?

It is this, but also a metaphor

This week I had the pleasure of seeing Joachim Trier’s second film, Oslo, August 31st and reading The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits. They’re both worth seeking out. Oslo, August 31st is purposefully small, a day-in-the-life of a junkie, whereas The Vanishers is a batshit insane novel that’s fun to describe: when a woman gets physically attacked by her psychic mentor, she’s off on a journey to find out secrets about her dead mother. Or something. That’s actually an attempt to be succinct.

But what was funny about both works was that they were dealing with big topics - drugs and addiction, psychics and European spas (it’s a crazy book) - they were both very much fronts for what the artists were interested in. Oslo, August 31st feels very much a film about being in your thirties, as opposed to Reprise, which is one of the very best films about being in your twenties. The Vanishers is wrestling with grief through satire, with Sylvia Plath looming above everything as a benevolent ghost. It is also distressingly on target about the little wars that women wage with each other - sometimes the behavior is that of a psychic attack, but we ignore the wounds.

Oslo, August 31st may be a little bit of a masterpiece - it manages to take a selfish story and make it something about everybody, humanity, the pulse of a city. Anders Danielsen Lie is quite a good actor. There’s stuff happening on his face even when the scene is still. The Vanishers is definitely uneven, but fascinatingly so, and the writing is so good that you need a highlighter for certain sentences. It was a wonderfully maternal world, and I wondered whether Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry - or a female writing/directing team that I haven’t even heard of yet - could make a little bit of weird magic out of its words. It would be a dream, for sure.

Bill Murray Poetry Competition


So while I think the Bill Murray poetry contest may be a scam, I am still damn proud of my entry.

Tonight Only: Ghostbusters on Both Screens

I saw a man sitting on the concrete stoop
In front of the DSS office on Washington street
In a white jumpsuit like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man
Starring at a pile of scratch tickets with his
Bill Murray eye. You know the kind.
With all the pain of an American Pierrot
Not knowing in the play he is the buffoon.

I love this poem.