Patton Oswalt Perfectly Compares NYC and L.A. In A.V. Club Interview

In an eye-opening Patton Oswalt interview with The A.V. Club’s Genevieve Koski published on Wednesday, Oswalt speaks eloquently and at length about the differences between the creative atmospheres of Los Angeles and New York City.

The comedian, whose new Showtime special “Finest Hour” premieres on Sept. 5 and was last seen playing Tom Scharpling in a Scharpling-directed music video, has been living in New York for the summer shooting a TV show, but is looking forward to returning to his permanent home in California.

He said:

My first month [in New York], I was staying in the Lower East Side, because when I was here last year, I was up in the more boring, touristy part of Hell’s Kitchen. So then I told the people that are doing this TV show, “I gotta stay in the West Village, or I gotta stay in the Lower East Side. I want someplace real.” And then after a month in the Lower East Side, during the New York heat wave, I was like, “Okay, you know what? I’m 42 years old. I think I’m done. I’ve had enough of the ‘real.’ This would’ve been great when I was 19, this is friggin’ horrible now.” I would open the doors to the hotel in the lobby, and even the two doormen would look back, like, “All right, dude, here it comes,” and just this wave of garbage air would pummel you. It was like a shockwave of stink.

But that’s not to say that Oswalt finds the environment of New York to be detrimental to comedy. He uses two acclaimed current TV comedies as metaphors to describe how the two coasts and lifestyles influence different approaches to creativity.

I think the kind of person that gravitates toward New York is a person that’s not so much focused on controlling exactly how they appear and how they exit. They’re more fascinated with the process. … A show like “Louie,” which is so goddamn brilliant, but it is so raw, it feels like a rough documentary sometimes. It’s just life happening. And then a show like “Community,” which is equally brilliant — it’s by this guy, Dan Harmon, who was a transplant to L.A .– and it’s so brilliantly about people that are kind of sealed up in their own little pop-culture worlds.

Finally, here’s just a great, out-of-context pull quote from the interview.

So, if Nickelback wants to sing “Photograph,” they decide to do that instead of forming a cult and killing people, it’s hard for me to get angry at that.

To read the rest of The A.V. Club’s interview with Oswalt in which he discusses upcoming projects, how his attitudes towards life and art have changed and much more, click over to The A.V. Club.

WATCH: Patton envisions the year 2009 as seen through the eyes of someone from 1999.

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Bill Augustin: The Artist Heads to the Savannah Film Festival

I have been the Special Programming Director for the Savannah Film Festival for the past several years and will be blogging about the ins and outs of planning a festival, and maybe sharing a little gossip along the way.

As the Special Programming Director, my role includes securing major films for the festival’s gala evening screenings as well as inviting down stars to be honored and to otherwise participate in the festival, be it promoting their films or to meet and educate students at SCAD.

Now in it’s 14th year, the Savannah Film Festival is hosted by SCAD (the Savannah College of Art and Design), so a lot of thought and choices I make are based on 1) what will appeal to and be useful for the students, and 2) what will appeal to the general public of Savannah and the many tourists and industry folk who come in for the festival.

Some of our Special Screenings last year included: Black Swan, Rabbit Hole, Blue Valentine, and 127 Hours. Over the years attendees and honorees have included: Ian McKellen, Liam Neeson, Isabella Rossellini, Peter O’Toole, Woody Harrelson, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta Jones, Jane Fonda, James Franco, Sidney Lumet, Patricia Clarkson, Jeremy Renner, Tommy Lee Jones, John Waters, George Segal, Alec Baldwin, Roger Ebert, Terrence Malick, Sydney Pollack, Vanessa Redgrave and Milos Forman.

I wasn’t going to blog about any of the films I’m programming — especially before we officially announce our lineup — but The Weinstein Company offered us The Artist as one of our special screenings this year and I was lucky enough to see it last week before it appears at Toronto.

For those of you who don’t know, The Artist is a silent, black and white film written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius and stars French actors Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo with featured performances by John Goodman, James Cromwell, Malcolm McDowell, Missi Pyle and Penelope Ann Miller. It was the breakout hit at the Cannes Film Festival this spring and was promptly snapped up by the Weinstein Company for release in the States this Thanksgiving

Usually I dismiss much of the buzz from Cannes because so many of the “hit” movies are dark, artsy and pretentious… very French. We’ve shown a couple of the Palme D’Or winners over the years, but oftentimes the Savannah crowd leaves the theaters baffled and disappointed. This film, however, is just as good as I’d heard, if not better.

I decided midway through my viewing that I want to open the festival with it. It seems like the perfect fit. First of all, it’s about movies and it’s a celebration of old Hollywood. Also it’s about an artist struggling with his pride and defending his art form. The film takes place in Hollywood in 1927-1931 when movies are transitioning from silent to “talkies”. Dujardin plays a veteran silent movie actor and Bejo plays a young star who rises to prominence in the talkies just as Dujardin’s life and career spiral down the drain.

I also found the movie to be an interesting allegory for the current transition between print and digital media. But maybe that’s just the world I live in.

I suspect that there’s going to be a bit of debate in the film festival office when I tell them I want to open the festival with The Artist (if you’re reading this guys: Surprise!). The Festival Director has final approval over the schedule I present. I don’t blame their concern. I went in to it kind of dreading watching a silent, black and white movie for 2 hours. But it won me over quickly and I left the theatre with a big stupid grin on my face.

Opening Night is traditionally a slot for a big glitzy starry film and the Savannah audience, though very savvy, has certain expectations from us. I know it’s risky to open the festival with a silent black and white film in a dated aspect ratio (to more authentically look like a movie from the 1920s). For me (and I’m assuming the rest of the festival staff), the most satisfying moment is sitting in the theatre watching a film we knew was a bold choice, and realizing that all 1100 people in the theatre are completely riveted to the screen. It doesn’t always happen, but when it does it’s magical.

This is a movie that I truly believe is the perfect way to set the tone for the festival as our opener. Hopefully I will be able to make a compelling argument. We will have to wait and see what happens when we announce our final lineup in October.

The Savannah Film Festival runs from October 29 – to November 5. For more information, visit

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Future of Tech: Hydrogen is once again starting to look like a promising green fuel of the future thanks to breakthroughs that permit the fuel to be stored and released from a chemical "tank" that is easily recharged.Future of Tech: Hydrogen is once again starting to look like a promising green fuel of the future thanks to breakthroughs that permit the fuel to be stored and released from a chemical “tank” that is easily recharged.

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Keira Knightley: Sexually Dangerous

Oscar, paging Keira Knightley. Keira Knightley, Oscar is paging you.

A year after Natalie Portman took home the Academy Award for portraying a sex-starved raving genius, Knightley is taking the gig back a century — her wheelhouse — to make her own bid for leading lady glory. Knightley plays Sabina Spielrein, the tortured Russian patient of Dr. Carl Jung who, evidence suggests, entered an illicit affair with her doctor. She later became a boundary-breaking analyst herself, .

Michael Fassbender plays Jung, while Vigo Mortensen takes on his mentor, Freud; their relationship is also examined, as Freud comes down on Jung for the affair.

The film is based on a London play called “The Talking Cure,” one of a number of stage productions about the drama. In 2005, the documentary, “Ich hieß Sabina Spielrein,” or, “My Name Was Sabina Spielrein,” was released, based on documents found in a box of her things in 1977.

Directed by David Cronenberg, the film hits theaters on November 23rd.



Bryan Young: Is George Lucas Really Altering Star Wars Again?

There are videos lighting the Internet ablaze right now, purporting to be alterations to the Star Wars films made by George Lucas for the Blu-ray releases.

My first question is this: Why do you believe these rumours? The official Star Wars Youtube has released a mountain of video material and none of it shows any significant changes, but does look gorgeous in the HD format. Over the last couple of days, we’ve seen these videos flood out of the gates. Allegedly, some Chinese worker recorded all of this audio of alterations and people have been taking the time to sync it with Hi-Def clips of their own.

The one that seems to be angering people the most is the “addition” of Darth Vader saying “Nooooo!” as he drops the Emperor off of the reactor shaft at the end of Return of the Jedi:

The audio team from Skywalker Sound is much better than this.  This is clearly chopped up bits of audio from other parts in the saga with really bad echo effects on them.  Give Matt Wood and Ben Burtt and those guys the benefit of the doubt, really.  Even if they had made this change, it would sound a lot better.  Some places are “confirming” it, but no one has seen or heard it first hand and Lucasfilm has neither confirmed nor denied it.  And review copies have NOT gone out yet, at least from the Lucasfilm side of things.

(Side note on this: CinemaBlend reported on this and the writer there got on his high horse about how Lucas has no right tinkering with Empire and Jedi because he didn’t direct them.  Wrong, buster.  As the producer and creator, he HIRED the director, essentially creating a work for hire.  Get your head on straight, man.  This is alarmist and you’re just riling people up for no reason, FOX news style.)

The next clip is something we have confirmation they changed.  Matt Wood from ILM spoke about this on the Forcecast and confirmed it in July of last year. Does that mean the sound has changed and there’s a good reason for it?  Yes.  Does that mean the following clip is actually what we’re going to hear?  No.  Again, at its best, this is a bootleg of some crappily recorded audio synced up to some good looking footage.  Whatever the sound eventually ends up being will undoubtedly be better than this:

And let’s be honest here, we don’t even have a confirmation of changes we’re relatively sure have been made, like the digital Yoda in Phantom Menace.  (Would that bring us a digital Yaddle, too?)

Another thing to consider about all of these changes:  The videos going around have ALL been uploaded by a youtube account called WideAsleepFilms.  If you go back and look at their history of uploaded videos, they’ve made a habit of updating effects and doing tests in After Effects using the Star Wars universe.  This could all be a hoax perpetrated by them.

The next rumour going around is that Ewoks blink and there will be a Dug in Jabba’s palace.  Now, neither of these changes really bug me, IF THEY’RE REAL, but I really doubt it.  Rich Johnston from Bleeding Cool has a report from ILM where they pretty bluntly state, “We didn’t do anything to the Blu-ray.”

From Bleeding Cool:

When I was at Big Screen a week and a half ago, I got to sit down with ILM’s John Goodson and Bill George. While it’s possible that they were mistaken and not properly briefed, both Goodson and George told me that, actually, no new material had created for the Blu-ray incarnations of the films.

I specifically asked precisely this, and they specifically told me that, no, George had not been making more changes of this fashion. I asked clearly, and they gave me a clear – and apparently definitive – answer.

So, I’ll be more than happy to admit that I was too optimistic if my take on this isn’t true, but this seems like the exact sort of skullduggery the legions of “Lucas-haters” would perpetrate to Strike Back at the man and company who brought us all of these wonderful stories in the first place.  If they’re true, then I’ll just have to see them in context.

I’ve requested an official quote from Lucasfilm, but haven’t gotten one yet.  I’ll update if and when I get one.

So in the meantime, as Qui-Gon says, just relax.  We’re not in trouble yet.

Bryan Young is the editor of the geek news site Big Shiny Robot! and author of Lost at the Con.