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TACOMA - Who could imagine making a documentary about dolphins could lead to so much trouble. When director Louie Psihoyos exposed what the Japanese locals were doing to dolphins in Taiji, Japan in The Cove, he found himself a wanted man. This sea-side community celebrates their relationship with the dolphin. But there’s a darkside when they herd dolphins into a cove, sell the prized ones to aquariums for $150,000 each. The remaining dolphins are slaughtered and given to school kids as whale meat. He found himself wanted by the Japanese law for various charges including videotaping undercover police officers.

Certain folks have defended this slaughter as cultural dining. How dare Americans protest what the Japanese eat. The falsely labeled dolphin meat has toxic levels of mercury. Remember that this is the same Japan that will shut off imports of American agriculture and livestock with the rumor of something being amiss. Yet they had no problem giving their children mercury poisoning.

The Cove isn’t merely a talking heads with archival footage documentary. Psihoyos is a cameraman for National Geographic and part of Oceanic Preservation Society. He joins other activists in a clandestine effort to film the hidden slaughter. The film is an espionage thriller with hidden cameras, stealth operations and undercover cops. There’s also a supporting role from Heroes‘ Hayden Panettiere. The film recently won best documentary from the National Board of Review and is on the Academy Award shortlist for nomination eligibility.

The Cove arrives on Blu-ray and DVD this December 8. Director Psihoyos called up the Party Favors hotline. Listen in as we discuss mercury poisoning, the impact the film has had on the dolphin slaughter and the Japanese legal system.

DOWNLOAD: (right click to save)
Party Favors: Joe Corey Chats with THE COVE’s Louie Psihoyos (MP3 format)

The Cove has already had an impact in popular culture with a South Park episode based on it.

HUMPDAY EVERYDAY

Always be careful when drinking with old college buddies because you never know what you’ll talk each other into doing to prove you’re not elderly sell outs. Such was the message of Humpday. The Sundance darling is one of my favorite comedies of the year. The Blu-ray and DVD have just been released. Stars Joshua Leonard and Mark Duplass called up the Party Favors hotline to discuss their buddy comedy.

Humpday got its start with a chance meeting in the land of Starbucks and drizzle.

“I met Lynn on the set of this movie called True Adolescents that I was acting in up in Seattle,” Duplass said. “She was doing stills. We knew of each other. We hit it off as filmmakers in what we believe in when in making movies: improvisation, naturalism and a strong plot. She said, ‘I want to build a movie around you.’ I said, Great, sounds like fun. She called me about a month later and said, ‘I have this idea for a movie about two straight guys who get obsessed with a porn film festival called Hump.’ It’s a real festival in Seattle. I immediately loved it. I said we should do it as two guys try to have sex with each other over the course of a weekend.”

While Duplass was the first actor involved in the project, Shelton had him lined up for the vagabond pal.

“She initially approached me about playing Andrew, the character that Josh plays. I had just played a similar character in a movie. Let me play the married guy. I’m married now so I know what its about. I’ll get a haircut and clean up. And at that point we brought Josh onboard.

“I had not worked with Josh. Lynn said, ‘I don’t know anybody that could play this role.’ My brother Jay had just met Josh at a film independent lab that Jay was mentoring. Josh was a big fan of my brother and I’s first feature, The Puffy Chair. We were huge fans of what he’d done in The Blair Witch Project. More importantly, I didn’t know him that well, but I knew enough to know that we had a very special dynamic. Josh and I became friends very quickly and got very close very quickly. I think it had something to do that we are both very headstrong, very type A and have a ton of respect for each other. I really love him. We also have a side to our personalities that in this life it works great for us. In another life, if we’d been born on different sides of a battlefield, we could tear each other’s faces off. It something about that special love-hate bond that made it right for the role.”

Leonard has a different memory of how he became part of the Humpday duo.

“I got tricked into it,” Leonard declared. “I was dear friends with Mark Duplass. I knew of Lynn, but didn’t necessarily know her work. I was in New York doing a play when I got an email from Mark, who I adore as my friend and think the world of as a filmmaker. He said, ‘You want to play my best friend in this movie?’ I said absolutely, man. I’d love to as long as we can work the schedule out. He sent me an email back saying, ‘Great. Remember that you’ve already committed to it. It’s a film about two straight guys who try to make a gay porn.’ To which I responded, ‘OK. I trust your taste, but please, as my friend, never let me commit to anything without asking what it’s about first.’”

Since the movie was improvised, the principles had to focus on the characters’ history.

“We worked with some backstory, Josh, Lynn and I had these little summits in the backroom of my house in L.A. We had one particular long weekend were we stayed up and talked about the history of the guys. What we quickly came up with was they were best friends in college, but more importantly best friends at that time in life when the world seems open. You’re cocky, young and brash and feel like you can do anything. That reminds them, now in their early 30s, that they’ve lost that spark and they’ve lost that way. They want it back. And they are constantly colliding into each other trying to figure out how to get that back. They come up with a ridiculous way of doing it.”

The idea of the duo making the gay porn comes up during a small party. While the characters are seen drinking, Were other libations supposed to be ingested during the scene?

“There was a little bit of pot smoking going on if you can catch it,” Duplass said. “It was the pot and alcohol. We talked about the idea of taking it deeper into drugs. But we didn’t want to cheapen it and make it seem like it was just the drugs speaking. We wanted to get them tipsy enough that they could do it, but not so tipsy that it wasn’t rooted in their desires.”

During this talk of gay sex at the party, Leonard’s character gets frisky with Monica played by Lynn Shelton. Was that a perk for the part?

“I do wind up making out with Lynn” said Leonard. “That was my one contractual stipulation. I had to make out with the director. I try to put that in all my contracts. This is the first time it worked out.”

Duplass also had his time making out with a woman before heading off to the hotel room with Leonard. Alycia Delmore played his wife. They built up their relationship using 21st century help.

“We talked on the phone and did some iChats ahead of time,” Duplass said. “We both had a pretty good understanding of our characters so we didn’t really talk to much about backstories between them. Alycia had such a good grasp of her character and it’s such a tough character to play. It can so easily become the cuckold who doesn’t know what’s going on and is not intelligent or the person that knows everything that’s going on and is a shrew. She rode that fine line so well, I followed a lot of her leads on these things. It was my job to bring her all the terrible news and feel her reaction.”

The interaction between the cast and crew helped the improv story take shape. “It was a team effort completely,” Leonard said. “It was one of those rare scenarios where the best idea always won and it didn’t matter whose it was. Nobody cared where it came from.”

And it seemed that nobody in the crew knew how the film was going to end.

“We shot the whole film in sequence and that was the last scene we shot,” Duplass said. “While each scene was improvised, they were very plotted out where the characters wanted to go. The final scene we didn’t do any plotting or what should or could or would happen. We were checking into a motel at 7 o’clock tonight and checking out tomorrow morning at seven a.m. We’ll see what we get. We were shooting 50 minute takes. Just going and going and going. Interestingly enough, on the first take we did, about 80 percent of what we did in that first take is in the movie. At that point you know your characters so well, you’re living them, you just follow your instincts.”

The one buggy thing about the motel scene was there wasn’t a tripod on the videocamera. Why didn’t they have the essential tool for the aspiring home porn stars who want to be able to use all hands in the action?

“We didn’t want to get too involved in the semantics of it,” Duplass said. “Ben is trying to decide at the last minute if he’s going to go or not based on the conversation with his wife. Because it’s so last minute he’s only able to come up with this home videocamera approach. There’s a purity to that being less about anything technical and more about saying, it doesn’t matter what equipment we have. It’s all about capturing the moment.”

In the hotel room for those twelve hours was Mark, Josh, the cameraman, the soundguy and director Lynn Shelton running a camera. How did the duo keep up the awkward feeling through out the night?

“It wasn’t that difficult,” Leonard said. “I was standing with my buddy in my not particularly toned body in my boxer shorts trying to figure out a way to make sweet love to him.”

Neither actor felt the pressure to spend months in the gym to achieve Mario Lopez six packs. “Fortunately for press purposes we can tell everyone that we both gained weight for the roles,” Leonard said. “Raging Bull ain’t got nothing on us.”

Both men have been busy over the last year. Leonard played Jane Adam’s boyfriend on HBO’s Hung. He’s unsure if he’ll be in the upcoming season. “I haven’t even talked to those guys about that,” he said.

Most of his attention is focused on a bigger project. “I just directed a feature based on a T. Coraghessan Boyle story called The Lie. It’s about a guy who doesn’t want to go to work so he lies to his boss that his newborn baby has just died. The movie takes place in the ensuing five days between the time that the guy throws a grenade on his life and when it blows up in his face. It was done the same way. We arced out the treatment and improvised the dialogue. Ben Kasulke who shot Humpday shot this one.

“It was the coolest group of people. It was literally one of those experiences where I called all my favorite actor friends and had them come out for a couple days. We had a five month old baby as the third lead. It was not an easy shoot.” The film stars Jane Adams, Kelli Garner, Allison Anders and Holly Woodlawn.

Duplass’ upcoming film with his brother Jay Duplass will be screened at the upcoming Sundance. You might have caught him on FX’s The League. He’s the stud of a fantasy football league.

“We had a series of meeting with the creators of The League that went on for about six months,” he said. “I was concerned about my schedule doing a TV show since my brother and I have a pretty hefty writing-directing career. We work a lot. They said, we really want you. They guaranteed me a small amount of time that I have to work on the show.”

Coincidentally in the first episode, there’s a moment that deals with him and anal penetration. Does he fear being typecast as the heterosexual guy with the tempting backdoor?

“I’m hopeful, really,” Duplass said. “Jack Black plays musicians. I play the butthole guy. We’ve both got our niche.”

DIDN’T YOU DIE

Joshua Leonard might look somewhat familiar since he was in The Blair Witch Project. I inform Leonard that I spent a year worried about him after being shown the original teaser almost a year before the release when it was still supposedly real. I kept calling a pal to find out what was on the discovered film. Had the filmmaking trio been located?

“You weren’t the one who called my parents to offer your condolences?” Leonard asked. “Right when stuff first started coming out, they got a lot of condolence calls. They took that reality marketing to the nth degree.”

FESTIVUS SPECIAL

Happy Festivus. Now prepare to wrestle me for the last slice of meatloaf!

TIGER TRAPPED

Tiger Woods has let his fans down not because he had an affair, but because he screwed a skank from VH1’s Tool Academy. He’s the greatest golfer in the universe worth billions and he dumpster dives for a mistress. How exactly did he expect discretion from a celebutard?

It’s a miracle he can stand steady and focus on a putt since VH1 ought to be VD1 with their toxic dating pool. I often visit a health clinic for testing after accidentally exposing myself to For the Love of Ray J. Can you catch crabs from sitting too close to the TV?

No wonder his wife went after him with a golf club. Tiger was on the slippery slope of scooping up Brett Michael’s Rock of Love rejects as they fall from the bus. Tiger Woods might have ended up in a Devil’s threeway with Flavor Flav if Mrs. Woods didn’t break out the pitching wedge. That’s the rehab Dr. Drew needs to dish out.

INVEST NOW

Too many people have been caught up in Fox News’ conspiracy to inflate gold prices on the rumor of an upcoming robot holocaust religious war. Why in the middle of a Road Warrior future is gold really a good investment?

I watch enough warriors of the apocalypse films. It is my supremely educated opinion that in such a bleak scenario, there’s only two investments for the smart survivalists: water and hot young women. Which means you can get rich in the ground floor of a hot market. Party Favors wants your unwanted water and hot young women with Cash4H20andHOS. Just call our hotline number and we’ll send you an insured envelope. Fill the envelope with water and women and mail it back. Our professional experts will grade the contents and we’ll send you a check. Remember to not send us your crazy girlfriend. Even radioactive mutant freaks don’t want them or crazy cat ladies. They might want the cats for appetizers. You can send them to Cash4Cats.

Don’t delay and quit listening to Glenn Beck with his gold lies. Call 1-800-Cash4H20andHOS before the FBI shuts us down again.

MR DVD

Did anyone expect Wes Anderson’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox to completely implode upon wide release? How can you go wrong with distributing a kid’s film during the Christmas season? Earlier in the fall Spike Jonze’s adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are earned over $75 million. How did Anderson’s version Roald Dahl’s Fox barely adaptation of Fox not even clear a third of Wild Things opening week and fall off the Top 10 chart by the second weekend? Was it too adult for kids and too childish for adults? Was nobody interested in a Paddington Bear-esque stop-motion animation flick? Or was it that Anderson’s cinema aesthetic has cooled off the folks that might have been curious in seeing Fox? Who became the target of producer Scott Rudin’s Monday morning bagel missile?

Seeing how this is Anderson’s third consecutive theatrical thud, is it time he gets his name moved down below the title since it’s obviously not a great selling point? Forget judging the ticket sales against the rumored budgets. Five of his six theatrical releases didn’t earn enough money at the box office to cover the cost of advertising, promotions and striking 35mm prints. His core audience seems to be people who eager to collect the Criterion Collection discs of his movies. He’s a home video superstar star like a 21st Century Andrew Stevens except he’s got Bill Murray instead of Shannon Tweed.

SEASONAL WISHES

If I have one Christmas wish, it’s the return of saxophonists in the world of Rock music. Don’t let Kenny G. make the sax an instrument of wussdom.

If I can get a second one: Joel McHale and Patrick Warburton each need to host Saturday Night Live this season. Enough with the barely talented tweens stretching on the show.

Final wish would be simple - scratch and win on a Ric Flair lottery ticket.

CHRISTMAS GIFTS

This year’s annual Christmas gifts to grab have been mixed up. First off is Warners deciding to not come out with Looney Tunes - Golden Collection, Volume 7. They also held back on putting out anymore Popeye cartoons. So much for real vintage cartoons this year. However there are the megasets of Transformers: 25th Anniversary Matrix of Leadership Edition and G.I. Joe A Real American Hero: Complete Collector’s Set that gives all their ’80s animated goodness.

Normally I’d list Saturday Night Live: The Complete Fifth Season as a must grab. This was the season with the last of the Not Ready for Prime Time Players after Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi left. This was the end of the Buck Henry hosted episodes. Ultimately this is the last season of SNL that I’d willing pick up as boxset. Recently the first four seasons have been going at various stores for $15 instead of $70. I can wait till the price drop hits.

There is one thing on my must get list: The Complete Peanuts 1971-1974 contains volume 11 & 12 in the series. This is the time when Lucy and Linus get their brother Rerun. Also the birth of Joe Cool takes center stage. There’s still 25 years to go before Charles Schulz ended the strip. This should be a constant gift under the tree until 2016. Hope the world doesn’t end in 2012 cause I do want to see what I missed in the ’90s.

BLU-RAY HEAVEN

G-Force seemed like a joke movie poster in Tracy Morgan’s 30 Rock dressing room. Turns out they did make a film about a pack of guinea pigs that are high tech secret agents with beyond Bond gadgets. The CGI pets are voiced by major stars like Morgan, Steve Buscemi, Penelope Cruz, Jon Favreau and investment guru Nic Cage. Their unit become victims of government cutbacks. They’re returned to the pet store, but you know their fate won’t be stuck in a kindergarten. They must save the world. Kelli Garner of The Lie also shows up in human form. The Blu-ray looks good with the furry fury of the G-Force. The boxset also includes the DVD and a digital copy so you want watch it on an iPod. There’s plenty of bonus features with Jerry Bruckheimer showing us how he made Nic Cage finally have believable hair in a film. G-Force is the perfect mindless film to watch while enjoying the egg nog this Christmas.

Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 3 Blu-ray completes the Kirk and Spock TV years in 1080p. Like the previous editions, viewers can choose between the original effects and the enhanced HD CGI effects. The reason to get this set is “The Way to Eden” with the invasion of the Space Hippies! Charles Napier (Russ Meyer superstar and Squidbillies sheriff) riffs galactic groovy tunes on his futuristic guitar. Napier’s jaw was made for HiDef. Amongst the large amounts of bonus features is an early cut of “Where No Man Has Gone Before” that’s never been released. This was the second pilot with Kirk finally in the captain’s chair. They didn’t get to the end of their five year mission.

World’s Greatest Dad ruined my belief that Robin Williams is a complete sell out whore. How much hope could there be for him after crapping out Man of the Year and RV. Thankfully Bobcat Goldthwait brought him back to the delicious dark side of comic genius. Williams is a failed writer who is about to get fired from his high school for an unpopular poetry writing course. His son (Spy Kids’s Daryl Sabara) is a gross teen who likes scat sex videos. Robin lives to flirt with the art teacher (Alexi Gilmore). Things go extremely bad when his son dies in hangs himself while jacking off. Robin does what any parent does in such a case - zips up his son’s pants and makes it look like a normal suicide. He writes a suicide note on the kid’s computer to explain this sad end. The letter becomes a hit. Robin exploits his son’s ghost to rejuvenate his own writing career. How far will he go to achieve success? It just gets extremely uncomfortable as Williams finally gives a performance that just won’t play for the braindead that loved Bicentennial Man. It’s such a relief that Bobcat was able to remind us that Robin Williams isn’t just a schmaltz fiend.

Taxi: The Final Season wraps up a prime sitcom in its fifth season. NBC picked up the show for what wasn’t the great ratings comeback. The big focus for a lot of the episodes were Latka (Andy Kaufman) and Simka (Carol Kane). “The Shloogel Show” is their little party for the rest of the gang. Rev. Jim also dominates the action. “Jim’s Inheritance” has him up for his dad’s fortune. His blood thirsty siblings want him ruled incompetent so they’d control the inheritance. It’s up to Alex (Judd Hirsch) and Louie (Danny DeVito) to back up his semi-sanity. “Scenskees from a Marriage” discloses Latka having a fling with a female cabbie. As punishment, they throw a party. The last male guest will sleep with Simka. “Crime and Punishment” gives the usually quiet Jeff (J. Alan Thomas) an episode. He gets framed for Louie skimming money. He finds himself being arrested. Will Louie confess or let his assistant take the rap? The big finale isn’t really a farewell episode with “Simka’s Monthlies.” She’s going to be deported. Judging how lame other sitcom farewells have been, it’s appreciated that Taxi didn’t wrap it up. We can still dream that Elaine Nardo (Marilu Henner) is hacking around Manhattan.

The Fugitive - Season Three, Volume Two contains the final 15 black and white episodes of this four year chase. No longer would Dr. Richard Kimble (David Janssen) hide in the shadows. “Wife Killer” pours on the pressure when Kimble kidnaps the Man with One Arm. Can he coax a confession and finally gain his freedom? Not to spoil the ending, but there are more episodes. “This’ll Kill You” puts Kimble in the employment of Mickey Rooney at a laundry. “Stroke of Genius” makes Telly Savalas play Beau Bridges’ son. Did Lloyd sign off on this? Telly’s brother George has a bit part. “With Strings Attached” presents Donald Pleasence an almost young. “The White Knight” lets future Mission: Impossible star Steven Hill and Arrested Development’s Jessica Walter have a forbidden affair with Ted Knight (Too Close For Comfort) investigating. “In a Plain Paper Wrapper” unleashes a mean Kurt Russell under the direction of Richard Donner. Only one more year and Kimble’s entire flight from justice will be captured on DVD.

Perry Mason - Season 4, Volume 2 gives a dozen cases that twist like pretzel justice. “The Case of the Wintry Wife” goes boom when an inventor’s lab explodes. Michael Fox plays the autopsy surgeon. He’s the reason why there’s a Michael J. Fox. “The Case of the Angry Dead Man” has a rich guy gets declared dead even though he survived a near drowning. After a few days of being a ghost, he really does turn up dead. “The Case of the Barefaced Witness” presents Adam West. Always fun to see Batman tangle with Perry Mason (Raymond Burr). “The Case of the Grumbling Grandfather” creaks with Gavin MacLeod (The Love Boat). This is still my favorite legal series with it’s black and white certainty. There’s five more seasons to go.

Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie - Extended Edition should be your go to holiday gift if you’ve got an elementary school niece. While doing an informal chat with 8 year old girls, I discovered that Selena Gomez has stolen all of Miley Cyrus’ heat. Gomez is part of a family of wizards-in-training. Her dad is played by David DeLuise, Dom’s son. The family goes on vacation and Gomez casts as spell that might wipe the family off the map. The only thing that can reverse her screwed up spell is the “Stone of Dreams.” Imagine the hours of silence as the kids leave you around during post Christmas cool down.

The Tudors The Complete Third Season gives us even more of Henry VIII’s wives. Anne Boleyn met the axe so now Henry (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is on the prowl for a third wife. He’s also dealing with an insurrection upset at the ousting of the Catholic Church from England. Mostly they hate Thomas Cromwell (James Frain). Jane Seymour is next on base. She knows it’s all about popping out a boy to maintain her head. I don’t want to spoil this for those who skipped English history class, but Jane didn’t live for centuries to create the Open Hearts design. Henry remarries Anna of Cleeve (singer Joss Stone). This is a gutsy role since Stone is savaged as trollish. He moves onto Katherine Howard. She’s quite the minx. There’s only 8 episodes for this season even with three fresh wives in the mix. The next season on Showtime will wrap up Henry’s serial marrying ways along with his life. This is truly a classy production that properly relates history by mixing education with Cinemax After Dark moments.

The Girl From Monaco tangles legal work with a romantic playground. Fabrice Luchini is a major lawyer with strange ticks. He heads to Monaco to defend a notorious character. However the lawyer has plans to drop his legal briefs for Louse Bourgoin. She’s messing with his mind as you’d expect from a vixen of her calibre. When she’s in pure seduction mode, you’ll forget there’s a film going on. He forgets he has a paying client as he goes native. Always nice to have a Riviera tale on the TV screen while it’s getting nippy outside.

Chai Lai Angels: Dangerous Flowers is a Thai flavored take on Charlie’s Angels. This isn’t a carbon copy since you get five female undercover agents. The quintet are brought onto a case to protect the daughter of a professor and martial arts master. Gangsters swear she knows where to find the Andaman Pearl. She needs help from the Angels. There’s plenty of over the top action with plenty of the ladies kicking mobster ass. There’s a sweet car explosion that doesn’t look CGI enhanced. This is so much better than those Drew Barrymore Charlie’s Angels movies. The bonus features include music videos that introduce the five undercover agents.

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