IOW: Two-and-a-half vids to-day!

The maize sun! The blue sky! The pleasant temps! It sure feels a lot more like C-U Bloom-fidential around here lately, does it not? That’s quite appropriate, dearest readers, since the creators of current movies bearing a distinct Midwest flavor and pinches of that ol’ Champaign-Urbana spice have been flashing signs of life lately to the world at large. We have early sightings on three such items to share with you, although one you will have to visit off-site as we’ll explain…

Introduced with a companion Web site by upstart distributor A24 Films (EX MACHINA) on Tuesday, May 26, the first trailer for THE END OF THE TOUR gives a taste of the conversations and understandings formed between the late novelist David Foster Wallace (Jason Segal) and Rolling Stone journalist David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg), as dramatized by director James Ponsoldt (THE SPECTACULAR NOW, also from A24) and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Donald Margulies (Dinner with Friends). Based on Lipsky’s belated transcriptions of those dialogues with Wallace, published in 2010 as Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, the film is a series of introspective moments between the two in 1996 as Wallace finishes his commitments to promote the release of his lauded work, Infinite Jest.

Although Wallace grew up in Champaign and had been teaching English courses at Illinois State University in Normal during the time TOUR is set, the filmmakers chose to shoot on location in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Minneapolis, Minnesota; Ponsoldt and producer Louise Lovegrove did visit Bloomington-Normal in advance to research the writer’s local history as well as the central Illinois winter Lipsky flew into for the chance to meet the reclusive literary star. Of course, the musing voiced by both men is shaded in viewers’ minds by the suicide of Wallace in 2008 at age 46, an eventuality all but avoided by Ponsoldt and Margulies to preserve focus. A24 will release THE END OF THE TOUR to theaters nationwide on Friday, July 31.

Elsewhere, Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones of Mister Lister Films released a clip of their upcoming thriller CONSUMED exclusively through The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday, June 9, to promote its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival the following Monday, June 15. This is the initial footage to be released of the project, described in the official production notes as “arguably the first narrative feature film (not a documentary) to truly tackle the complex and controversial world of GMOs [genetically modified organisms] in a substantial way,” after the production wrapped a year ago in Champaign County with a key assist from Shatterglass Studios of Champaign. The couple discusses the development and filming of CONSUMED in this interview with Stephen Saito of The Moveable Fest, while Justin Lowe of THR gives the feature a warm, if not glowing, recommendation in this review.

We’ll certainly be awaiting the news for when it will debut in the C-U as Mister Lister seeks out more festival play and distribution; since we are not able to embed that clip, being “exclusive” and all, we’ll instead shine the spotlight on a different Shatterglass collaboration. Shot in Chicago, THE ORIGINS OF WIT & HUMOR spins the yarn of poor Les (Joe Hursley), a comedy writer who believes a magic potion will make him “irresistibly funny” and attractive to the ladies after suffering a bad break-up. Producing team Christian Gridelli and Hunter Norris of Dimestore Films are also hoping to attract play dates and studio interest in the coming months, as WIT & HUMOR had its own world premiere at the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival on April 23.

~ Jason Pankoke

p.s. Our post title is not accidental. We just learned that Tolono native Mark Roberts, a television perennial like Lister-Jones and Segal with extensive producing and writing credits on MIKE & MOLLY, THE BIG BANG THEORY, and TWO AND A HALF MEN, will be in town August 15 to host a comedy event that will benefit the Greg Chew Theatre Scholarship. We approve wholeheartedly the nod being given to the late Urbana High School teacher, a nice man and late-blooming friend of CUBlog.

p.s.2 At the same time, we can’t name-drop Roberts without title-dropping WELCOME TO TOLONO, another low-budget filmmaking effort “brought to town” and filmed in its namesake city to the south of the C-U. TOLONO premiered at Foellinger Auditorium almost eight years ago to the day – June 30, 2007 – and has not really been seen since. With all the original plays and acting gigs and television work, Mr. Roberts, you’ve been busy and we understand its absence. Or do we? Probably not. Show biz, hrm.

p.s.3 Why, yes, your humble editor did get a shave and a haircut today. (Well, technically, it occurred yesterday, but close enough to qualify…) Thanks for the compliment!

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