Last week, we thought things might be looking better for home video releases, what with a few of the highest rated films coming out (the Golden Tomato winners for both Best Limited Release and Best Comedy, in fact). Unfortunately, it looks like it might just be business as usual again this week, as we’ve got a handful of releases that failed to gain much momentum with critics. Having said that, there are still a few noteworthy choices, so let’s look ahead with a positive attitude and take a look at what’s new on DVD and Blu-Ray. After all, it’s only the third week of January!



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The Invention of Lying

Ricky Gervais is, in the immortal words of Zoolander‘s Mugatu, “so hot right now.” It’s thanks in large part to him that we have such instant classics as The Office and Extras, and he’s fresh off his stint as the host of the Golden Globes just last night. Unfortunately, he hasn’t fared as well in the realm of film, and this latest effort, The Invention of Lying had critics wishing for more of his dry, unpredictable wit. Starring alongside Jennifer Garner, Gervais plays Mark, a man living in an alternate reality where everyone tells the truth who discovers that lying can produce dramatic results… both bad and good. Though critics felt the film relied a bit too much on romantic comedy formula, they still felt it was, overall, witty and enjoyable. You can pick it up on DVD or Blu-Ray this week.



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Gamer

Speaking of hot leading men of the moment, it seems King Leonidas himself, Gerard Butler, is poised to become one of the next big things. At least, that’s where all indications were pointing until he released a string of somewhat poorly received movies, including P.S. I Love You, Law Abiding Citizen, and The Ugly Truth. Unfortunately, Gamer didn’t fare much better, earning just a 29% on the Tomatometer. The story is set in a world where humans control other humans in live-action video games; a human avatar (non-blue) by the name of Kable (Butler) achieves notoriety with his player counterpart by winning repeatedly, but he must ultimately escape the “game” in order to return to his family. Not an entirely new concept here, but Butler has proven himself in action pieces before, so it might be worth a Friday night rental.



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Pandorum

It’s apparent where a lot of Pandorum‘s ideas come from. This isn’t the first psychological sci-fi thriller we’ve seen about a seemingly abandoned spacecraft that holds terrifying secrets. In Pandorum, two men (Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster) awake from hypersleep to find the 60,000 other passengers of their ship have vanished, and together they must uncover the mystery behind the disappearance. While some critics felt the movie could be effective for hardcore sci-fi fans, most believed the story to be a tad too derivative and strained. If you fall into the former category, this could be a decent pickup for you this week.



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Whiteout

What can we say about one of the runners-up to the Moldy Tomato Award this year? Earning just a 7% on the Tomatometer, Whiteout even managed to make it onto our Worst of the Worst: 2000-2009 list. But this Antarctic thriller about a killer roaming loose at an isolated research facility isn’t poorly crafted from a technical standpoint, per se; critics mostly blamed the uninspired plot and the excruciatingly slow pace. Kate Beckinsale does her best to save the material, but many felt it just wasn’t enough. But who knows? Maybe you’ll check it out, disagree completely, and come back to tell us why the critics were absolutely dead wrong on this one.



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Outrage

Thankfully, we have at least one brand new release that happens to be Certified Fresh, and that would be Outrage, a documentary exploring homosexuality in politics. Kirby Dick, who previously turned his camera on the MPAA in This Film Is Not Yet Rated, this time focuses on the American government and what he perceives to be the rampant homophobia prevalent within it. And though many critics felt the film at times falters in objectivity (Dick calls out several politicians as closet homosexuals), most thought it was a fascinating look into the topic worth checking out.



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Che – Criterion Collection

Director Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven, Traffic) has been cranking out films over the past few years, and this year, he took on an independent project with the help of many of his friends. Che is a biopic about the Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara, starring Benicio Del Toro in the title role and focusing on the years after Guevara had already met and begun working for Fidel Castro. Over four hours long, the film was released in two parts and never gathered much steam. It did, however, earn a 63% on the Tomatometer and a Criterion edition in both DVD and Blu-Ray. You can pick up the film in its entirety this way, and it’s available this week.



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Boogie Nights and Magnolia – Blu-Ray

Paul Thomas Anderson is an arthouse darling, crafting deep, affecting dramas often with dark undertones. Most recently, Anderson’s There Will Be Blood was the top contender for the best picture Oscar alongside No Country For Old Men, and lead actor Daniel Day Lewis did, in fact, take home a statue. But these two films, now being released on Blu-Ray, are considered two of Anderson’s finest, and while Boogie Nights may be better known overall, simply for one particular iconic moment, both are Certified Fresh and widely praised. High definition should do wonders for all the flying frogs and prosthetic… Well, never mind about that.


Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassins’ Ball

At just 27% on the Tomatometer, 2007’s Smokin’ Aces probably didn’t need a sequel, as most critics felt it was a bit of a mess, part Quentin Tarantino, part Guy Ritchie, but with none of the wit and cleverness found in either. As a result, there aren’t many returning for this Assassins’ Ball, and the film itself is heading straight to DVD. If we’re being honest here, the plotline for a movie like this is negligible, but for the sake of information, it goes something like this: an FBI man with a price on his head finds himself pursued by a rogue’s gallery of psychotic assassins, and it leads to an hilarious, action-packed chase to be the first to make the kill. Whether or not this actually works, you’ll have to see for yourself.


Red Cartoons: Animated Films from East Germany

This was such a unique item that we just had to include it. Red Cartoons is a collection of 16 short animated films from the days of East Germany, when the DEFA Studio for Animation Film churned out more than 800 of them. Utilizing animation as a medium by which certain aspects of political satire not normally allowed in live action films could be explored, various directors took advantage of the chance to push boundaries. The 16 works gathered here are by 8 different directors, and they represent a wide variety of influences and styles. It’s a bit of a niche item, but for those who are interested, it could be a fascinating look not only into film, but history as well.


Kingdom of the Spiders – Special Edition

Speaking of history, let’s travel back to 1977, when the man who once played the captain of a very popular starship suddenly found himself up to his armpits in tarantulas. We are referring, of course, to Kingdom of the Spiders, a cheesy creature feature starring William “Captain Kirk” Shatner as Dr. Robert “Rack” Hansen, a veterinarian who discovers the cause of a number of farm animal deaths is an aggressive new species of spider, which has overtaken Rack’s small town with an army of millions. Sure, it might have some cheesy dialogue, but there’s something charming about seeing Shatner covered in creepy-crawlies and reeling off lines like “Why would… spiders… suddenly turn aggressive?” with no hint of irony in his voice. This Special Edition even contains a recent interview with Shatner, wherein he discusses the unfortunate lack of CGI when the film was made. In any case, if campy old fright-flicks are your thing, you might get a kick out of this one.

This week at the movies, we’ve got zombie zaniness (Zombieland, starring Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg); derby dolls (Whip It, starring Drew Barrymore and Ellen Page); funny falsehoods (The Invention of Lying, starring Ricky Gervais and Jennifer Garner); financial follies (Michael Moore‘s Capitalism: A Love Story); and a pair of Pixar classics (Toy Story and Toy Story 2, both in 3-D). What do the critics have to say?



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Zombieland

For those who think there’s nothing left on the carcass of the zombie subgenre to pick over, guess again. Critics say Zombieland is a hilarious send-up of films about the undead — with enough blood and guts to satisfy the gorehound set. Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg star as a pair of non-zombies who team up for a road trip across an American landscape that’s overrun with walking corpses. It’s a simple enough setup, but pundits say what makes Zombieland such a good time at the movies is its boundless energy and inventiveness — and the fact that it features one of the funniest celebrity cameos in quite some time.



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Whip It

With Whip It, Drew Barrymore makes her directorial debut with a girl-empowerment sports comedy. And the critics say this roller derby flick is sweet and sparky, with a breezy, unsentimental tone that compensates for the predictable script. Ellen Page stars as a beauty pageant regular who decides to try her hand in the rough-and-tumble world of roller derby — and break out of her small-town routine in the process. The pundits say Whip It is loaded with sports movie clichés, but so what? Featuring a veritable army of top-notch actresses (including Kristen Wiig, Eve, Juliette Lewis, Marcia Gay Harden and Barrymore herself), the film is both fleet-footed and good-natured.



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The Invention of Lying

Calling Ricky Gervais’ brand of comedy self-deprecating doesn’t go far enough — self-immolating is more like it. And though Gervais is undeniably talented, the pundits say his latest, The Invention of Lying (which he co-scripted and co-directed with Matthew Robinson) is ambitious but uneven. The film takes place in a parallel world in which everyone tells the whole truth and nothing but all the time, until Mark (Gervais) discovers that bearing false witness will get him ahead in the world — for a while, anyway. The critics say this is thought-provoking, inventive stuff, but despite some big laughs, The Invention of Lying eventually jettisons its originality for romantic comedy convention.



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Capitalism: A Love Story

A few documentaries have tried to grapple with the events that lead to the current economic crisis. Michael Moore goes a step further, indicting our economic system itself with Capitalism: A Love Story, and the pundits say the result is his most personal (if not his best) since Roger & Me. As usual, Moore blends stock footage, interviews, and gonzo stunts, taking aim at the system that spawned our recent financial collapse. As with many of Moore’s films, some critics feel his research is thin, and that his biases overwhelm the facts, but most say his brand of cinematic rabblerousing is in fine form, with affecting tales of fiscal woe and a few big laughs. (Check out our interview with Moore here.)



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Toy Story and Toy Story 2

This week, two of Pixar’s crowning achievements — Toy Story and Toy Story 2 — get rereleased in glorious 3-D. Let us put it to you in the simplest terms possible: these are two of the best-reviewed films in the history of this site. If you’ve never seen them before, now’s your chance to experience the magic on the big screen — while wearing 3-D glasses, no less.


Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Abel Ferrara‘s Chelsea on the Rocks, a documentary about New York’s legendary boho residence, the Chelsea Hotel, is at 91 percent.
  • The Coen BrothersA Serious Man, which follows a Jewish college professor and family man who’s struggling to find the meaning of life, is at 81 percent.
  • Afterschool, a dark drama about a youngster whose fascination with internet videos pulls him in sinister directions, is at 73 percent.
  • More Than a Game, a doc about NBA superstar LeBron James and his high school teammates, is at 62 percent.

Finally, props to RunAmok for coming the closest to guessing Pandorum‘s 34 percent Tomatometer.

RT Visits the Set of Cemetery Junction

“He won’t do it,” says Ricky Gervais, striding over to RT. He’s referring to his round-headed friend Karl Pilkington. Last time we sat down with Gervais he’d suggested Pilkington – co-star of his phenomenally successful podcast series with Stephen Merchant – as a film reviewer for the Tomatometer. “I said, ‘They’ll pay you £50.’ He wasn’t interested. I said, ‘We’ll dress you up as a giant tomato.’ He went, ‘Oh, this is getting better and better.'”

But while Gervais has failed in that particular recruiting mission, he and Merchant are on fine form today. It’s late July and RT has come to the Shepperton Studios set of Cemetery Junction, their first feature film together after success on the small screen with The Office and Extras. The atmosphere is light, the cast and crew seem to be enjoying themselves and Gervais’ trademark cackle rings regularly through the air.

Taking its name from a road junction in Gervais’ hometown of Reading, the film stars Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson and Matthew Goode. Relative newcomers Christian Cooke, Tom Hughes, Jack Doolan and Felicity Jones, play its young leads. “It’s a film about escaping your roots and that small-town mentality,” explains Gervais. “There’s a line in it which my mum said to me when I was 18. I told her I was going to France and she said, ‘What do you want to go there for? There’s parts of Reading you haven’t seen.'”

“It’s about a group of working-class lads in the 70s, one of whom aspires to be better than his dad – played by Ricky – and not go to work in a factory,” continues Merchant. “Instead, he goes to work for Ralph Fiennes’ character; a sort-of white-collar job. He finds a role-model in him but in doing that he starts to drift away from his friends who are still in that world. It’s the story of them, really, and whether that friendship will last.”

Cemetery Junction

Gervais and Merchant on set, rocking the Miami Vice look.

Like all of their work to date, there’s a sense that this is a comic take on a delicately-observed slice of real life, but it’s not just the hometown location that makes the project feel all the more autobiographical than The Office and Extras. “The coolest kids in school when I was growing up,” says Gervais, “the best footballers, the best fighters, the ones who got a girlfriend first — now they’re bald and stacking shelves. The Office was that feeling of, you’ve already wasted some of your life and you don’t want to wake up and go, ‘That was it.’ With these kids we’ve condensed that pounding feeling that there must be something out there. They’re 23, not 33.”

It seems, too, as though the comedy in Cemetery Junction will come from a slightly different and perhaps unexpected place. “We’ve lost that level of irony,” Gervais tells us. “We’ve lost that level of, isn’t it funny that they’re bad? Isn’t it funny that they’re stupid or they’re saying the wrong things? With this we wanted to give them a rip-roaring adventure — we want you to like these guys. They do get into fights and they do drink too much and chase girls, but it’s to be celebrated.”

And that’s the key point for Gervais and Merchant — this isn’t your average British film. While much of the British industry seems to wallow in gritty realism, get lost in romantic fantasy or strap on a bonnet and put on a posh accent, Gervais and Merchant hope that Cemetery Junction will strike away from pack and, perhaps, present a slightly less blinkered view of life in Britain. “We liked the idea of making it very contained in this small town in the 70s, but with that sort of swagger that you get in Butch Cassidy,” explains Merchant. “It’s a much smaller story about tiny lives, but in their heads it’s epic. No-one lives their lives going, ‘I’m a nobody and I’m pathetic.'”

Gervais continues: “Their world is as big to them as it is to us; it’s just that they sometimes don’t go outside of their square patch of it. Even in the kitchen we’ve tried to make it cinematic. We’ve used the widescreen this time; we’re not shooting for telly. And we’ve got our soap-opera radar — anything that looks slightly cheap is out. We were very conscious that we didn’t want this to look drab and dingy, and curtains drawn and kitchen sink. We want this to look like Hollywood doing early-70s England. And we have taken liberties, you know; it’s sunny every day in Cemetery Junction for that summer.”

RT Visits the Set of Cemetery Junction

Casting the central roles was the biggest challenge — finding actors in Britain who had the screen presence to strike that epic quality. “In the States, I think one of the reasons there are perennial heroes like Steve McQueen is because they’re classless,” says Merchant. “I think it’s one of the things that are tricky in making British films, because class always comes into it. It’s quite tricky to find something that feels neutral and allows you to think about the story and not the class of the characters.”

“[Our actors] just had that,” says Gervais. “They walked into a room and suddenly they were film stars. They weren’t phoning their agent saying, ‘I’ve got The Bill tomorrow and I’ve got a small part in Holby and I might do a play.’ They were going, ‘I want to be a film star,’ and they got it straight away. Plus they were cheap, and we’ve signed up for 50% of their earnings until they’re 68!”

If that’s not strictly true, as we suspect it may not be, Gervais told RT last year that the plan was to extend the world into a TV series so the pair could further explore these characters, so this may not be the last time they work with the young cast. The spin-off is still on the cards, they said, but nothing was certain. “It’s an option, but we never hold ourselves to anything like that. I’d like to, but anything could happen. We might think it ruins the legacy of the film, and that’s important to us, and we’ll turn it down. We might love it; we might do five series this time instead of two. I think the likelihood is that we’ll probably write it, at least, because that’s the real joy for us, the writing.”

Cemetery Junction

L to R: Felicity Jones as Julie, Christian Cooke as Freddie, Tom Hughes as Bruce, Jack Doolan as Snork.

“It’s all speculative,” agrees Merchant. “We’ve been totally focussed on this script. But we like the characters, and we’ll be doing a scene with Ricky and we’ll go, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if…'”

“What we’d lose is the one big story,” adds Gervais. “But we’d have more fun with the smaller characters. My character, for example – it could become about the family unit, so it’s more of a sitcom.”

For now though, the focus is on delivering the film amidst the pair’s other commitments. In addition to their work together, Gervais, also has a stand-up tour to do (he’d probably be keen on us mentioning that it’s sold out, as his last tour was) and his first American directorial feature, The Invention of Lying, to promote.

So with all the work on their plates have there been any tensions between them? “We see eye-to-eye on 98% of stuff,” says Gervais. “And when we don’t see eye-to-eye, we’ve got one rule: one veto and then it’s out, or let’s do them both and we’ll see in the edit. There doesn’t need to be arguments, really. And we work so fast, and it’s such a joy. It’s so much fun. The only thing I don’t like is getting up early.”

“Or doing the work,” adds Merchant.

“Or doing anything.”

“Anything that takes you away from the sofa.”

Gervais unleashes that cackle again. “Yeah, so all my scenes were on the sofa. At one point Steve went, ‘Ricky, are you actually asleep?'”

Cemetery Junction is released next year. Ricky Gervais’ home on the web is rickygervais.com, where you can fail to buy tickets for his sold-out stand-up tour.

Ricky Gervais - Jeff Vespa/WireImage.com

NB: This is the third part of a larger feature – to start from the beginning click here.

Ricky Gervais, the award-winning creator of The Office and Extras, is a very funny guy – a description he’d no doubt agree with.

But fame found the 47 year-old late in life. An early stint in the 80s as one half of pop duo Seona Dancing – by his own admission a duo more than slightly influenced by David Bowie — didn’t catapult the Reading-born Gervais to international success. Instead it was years later, when he wrote, directed and starred in The Office, a faux-documentary about life in a Slough paper merchant’s, that Gervais truly found fame. The show became one of the country’s most successful sitcoms and set Gervais up as one of comedy’s icons.

His career has gone from strength to strength ever since. With his writing partner Stephen Merchant and radio producer Karl Pilkington, The Ricky Gervais Show served London station XFM well for years before spinning off into the most successful podcast of all time. With Merchant he went on to write Extras, leveraging all the good will he’d earned with The Office to pepper a sitcom about life as a Supporting Artiste with cameos from the likes of Kate Winslet, Samuel L. Jackson and Orlando Bloom.

Hollywood soon beckoned, and Gervais’ star began to ascend Stateside with cameos in the likes of Night at the Museum, For Your Consideration and Stardust. This year it’s his turn to dominate, with the recently-released comedy Ghost Town marking his first romantic lead. He’ll follow it next year with This Side of the Truth, which he’s written and directed with Matthew Robinson. The star-studded comedy is set in a world in which the human race hasn’t evolved the gene to lie until a writer discovers he’s different.

Proving his talents operated just as comfortably in the live arena, Gervais has performed three stand-up shows, Animals, Politics and Fame, which have had respective DVD releases. A new show for the US will be released there shortly.

Dinner and the Movies
Ricky Gervais talks to RT-UK editor Joe Utichi

As Gervais works to finish This Side of the Truth and begins work on his next project — a new British comedy with Stephen Merchant — he joins RT to accept his Certified Fresh award for Ghost Town and discuss his career past, present and future. This is the latest chapter in our Dinner and the Movies series of extended interviews, which began with Kevin Smith and continued with Neil Gaiman, Edgar Wright and Guillermo del Toro.

The interview, presented in 15 parts which we’ll release in 5 chapters every day this week, can be watched back-to-back for a full conversational experience or dipped in and out of at will. Start from the beginning here.

Previously:

Part 1 – On being Certified Fresh and the worth of reviews.
Part 2 – On this year’s Emmys — highlights and lowlights.
Part 3 – On receiving the RT award and the public reception of Ghost Town.
Part 4 – On redemption as a key theme and comedy plus.
Part 5 – On how annoyance informs the podcast.
Part 6 – On the brilliance of Karl Pilkington.
Part 7 – On a return to the podcast and a possible live run.
Part 8 – On going back to Extras.
Part 9 – On taking Andy Millman and company to America.
Part 10 – On why it’s easy to be ambitious.
Part 11 – On what to expect from This Side of the Truth.
Part 12 – On Karl’s appearance in the film and his take on evolution.

In Today’s Chapter:

Part 13 – On Karl becoming a Rotten Tomatoes film critic.
Part 14 – On The Man from the Pru and a TV spin-off for the film.
Part 15 – On Simon Pegg, British comedy and dealing with press over-exaggeration.

Join us again tomorrow as Gervais discusses the ease of ambition, what to expect from This Side of the Truth and Karl’s abortive appearence in the film. But for now, continue onto Part 13.

Ricky Gervais’ home on the web is rickygervais.com

Part 13 of 15: On Karl becoming a Rotten Tomatoes film critic.

Could Karl soon be reviewing films for RT? We certainly hope so — Ricky and RT strike a deal.

Continue on Part 14: On The Man from the Pru and a TV spin-off for the film.

Part 14 of 15: On The Man from the Pru and a TV spin-off for the film.

Gervais will reteam with Stephen Merchant on The Man from the Pru — he shares his idea for a TV spinoff exclusively with RT.

Continue on Part 15: On Simon Pegg, British comedy and dealing with press over-exaggeration.

Part 15 of 15: On Simon Pegg, British comedy and dealing with press over-exaggeration.

Simon Pegg recently made some comments that started an all-out war with Gervais. Except it didn’t. Ricky laughs about the “feud,” talks about British comedy and ponders press over-exaggeration.

This concludes our Dinner and the Movies interview with Ricky Gervais. If you missed any part of it click here to start from the beginning. Ricky Gervais’ home on the web is rickygervais.com

Ricky Gervais - Jeff Vespa/WireImage.com

NB: This is the third part of a larger feature – to start from the beginning click here.

Ricky Gervais, the award-winning creator of The Office and Extras, is a very funny guy – a description he’d no doubt agree with.

But fame found the 47 year-old late in life. An early stint in the 80s as one half of pop duo Seona Dancing – by his own admission a duo more than slightly influenced by David Bowie — didn’t catapult the Reading-born Gervais to international success. Instead it was years later, when he wrote, directed and starred in The Office, a faux-documentary about life in a Slough paper merchant’s, that Gervais truly found fame. The show became one of the country’s most successful sitcoms and set Gervais up as one of comedy’s icons.

His career has gone from strength to strength ever since. With his writing partner Stephen Merchant and radio producer Karl Pilkington, The Ricky Gervais Show served London station XFM well for years before spinning off into the most successful podcast of all time. With Merchant he went on to write Extras, leveraging all the good will he’d earned with The Office to pepper a sitcom about life as a Supporting Artiste with cameos from the likes of Kate Winslet, Samuel L. Jackson and Orlando Bloom.

Hollywood soon beckoned, and Gervais’ star began to ascend Stateside with cameos in the likes of Night at the Museum, For Your Consideration and Stardust. This year it’s his turn to dominate, with the recently-released comedy Ghost Town marking his first romantic lead. He’ll follow it next year with This Side of the Truth, which he’s written and directed with Matthew Robinson. The star-studded comedy is set in a world in which the human race hasn’t evolved the gene to lie until a writer discovers he’s different.

Proving his talents operated just as comfortably in the live arena, Gervais has performed three stand-up shows, Animals, Politics and Fame, which have had respective DVD releases. A new show for the US will be released there shortly.

Dinner and the Movies
Ricky Gervais talks to RT-UK editor Joe Utichi

As Gervais works to finish This Side of the Truth and begins work on his next project — a new British comedy with Stephen Merchant — he joins RT to accept his Certified Fresh award for Ghost Town and discuss his career past, present and future. This is the latest chapter in our Dinner and the Movies series of extended interviews, which began with Kevin Smith and continued with Neil Gaiman, Edgar Wright and Guillermo del Toro.

The interview, presented in 15 parts which we’ll release in 5 chapters every day this week, can be watched back-to-back for a full conversational experience or dipped in and out of at will. Start from the beginning here.

Previously:

Part 1 – On being Certified Fresh and the worth of reviews.
Part 2 – On this year’s Emmys — highlights and lowlights.
Part 3 – On receiving the RT award and the public reception of Ghost Town.
Part 4 – On redemption as a key theme and comedy plus.
Part 5 – On how annoyance informs the podcast.
Part 6 – On the brilliance of Karl Pilkington.
Part 7 – On a return to the podcast and a possible live run.
Part 8 – On going back to Extras.
Part 9 – On taking Andy Millman and company to America.

In Today’s Chapter:

Part 10 – On why it’s easy to be ambitious.
Part 11 – On what to expect from This Side of the Truth.
Part 12 – On Karl’s appearance in the film and his take on evolution.

Join us again tomorrow as Gervais discusses the ease of ambition, what to expect from This Side of the Truth and Karl’s abortive appearence in the film. But for now, continue onto Part 10.

Ricky Gervais’ home on the web is rickygervais.com

Part 10 of 15: On why it’s easy to be ambitious.

It’s easy to be ambitious, says Gervais, which is just as well as he’s been busy recently.

Continue on Part 11: On what to expect from This Side of the Truth.

Part 11 of 15: On what to expect from This Side of the Truth.

What can audiences expect from This Side of the Truth? Ricky explains the film.

Continue on Part 12: On Karl’s appearance in the film and his take on evolution.

Part 12 of 15: On Karl’s appearance in the film and his take on evolution.

There’s a cameo for Karl Pilkington in This Side of the Truth. Or is there? We discuss his role and his take on the film’s themes.

Join us again tomorrow as Gervais finds a job for Karl Pilkington on RT, talks about his reteaming with Stephen Merchant on The Man from the Pru and continues the “feud” with Simon Pegg.

Ricky Gervais’ home on the web is rickygervais.com

Ricky Gervais - Jeff Vespa/WireImage.com

NB: This is the third part of a larger feature – to start from the beginning click here.

Ricky Gervais, the award-winning creator of The Office and Extras, is a very funny guy – a description he’d no doubt agree with.

But fame found the 47 year-old late in life. An early stint in the 80s as one half of pop duo Seona Dancing – by his own admission a duo more than slightly influenced by David Bowie — didn’t catapult the Reading-born Gervais to international success. Instead it was years later, when he wrote, directed and starred in The Office, a faux-documentary about life in a Slough paper merchant’s, that Gervais truly found fame. The show became one of the country’s most successful sitcoms and set Gervais up as one of comedy’s icons.

His career has gone from strength to strength ever since. With his writing partner Stephen Merchant and radio producer Karl Pilkington, The Ricky Gervais Show served London station XFM well for years before spinning off into the most successful podcast of all time. With Merchant he went on to write Extras, leveraging all the good will he’d earned with The Office to pepper a sitcom about life as a Supporting Artiste with cameos from the likes of Kate Winslet, Samuel L. Jackson and Orlando Bloom.

Hollywood soon beckoned, and Gervais’ star began to ascend Stateside with cameos in the likes of Night at the Museum, For Your Consideration and Stardust. This year it’s his turn to dominate, with the recently-released comedy Ghost Town marking his first romantic lead. He’ll follow it next year with This Side of the Truth, which he’s written and directed with Matthew Robinson. The star-studded comedy is set in a world in which the human race hasn’t evolved the gene to lie until a writer discovers he’s different.

Proving his talents operated just as comfortably in the live arena, Gervais has performed three stand-up shows, Animals, Politics and Fame, which have had respective DVD releases. A new show for the US will be released there shortly.

Dinner and the Movies
Ricky Gervais talks to RT-UK editor Joe Utichi

As Gervais works to finish This Side of the Truth and begins work on his next project — a new British comedy with Stephen Merchant — he joins RT to accept his Certified Fresh award for Ghost Town and discuss his career past, present and future. This is the latest chapter in our Dinner and the Movies series of extended interviews, which began with Kevin Smith and continued with Neil Gaiman, Edgar Wright and Guillermo del Toro.

The interview, presented in 15 parts which we’ll release in 5 chapters every day this week, can be watched back-to-back for a full conversational experience or dipped in and out of at will. Start from the beginning here.

Previously:

Part 1 – On being Certified Fresh and the worth of reviews.
Part 2 – On this year’s Emmys — highlights and lowlights.
Part 3 – On receiving the RT award and the public reception of Ghost Town.
Part 4 – On redemption as a key theme and comedy plus.
Part 5 – On how annoyance informs the podcast.
Part 6 – On the brilliance of Karl Pilkington.

In Today’s Chapter:

Part 7 – On a return to the podcast and a possible live run.
Part 8 – On going back to Extras.
Part 9 – On taking Andy Millman and company to America.

Join us again tomorrow as Gervais discusses the ease of ambition, what to expect from This Side of the Truth and Karl’s abortive appearence in the film. But for now, continue onto Part 7.

Ricky Gervais’ home on the web is rickygervais.com

Part 7 of 15: On a return to the podcast and a possible live run.

Could the podcast return as a live show? Gervais certainly hopes so, as he explains to RT.

Continue on Part 8: On going back to Extras.

Part 8 of 15: On going back to Extras.

Extras demands more screen time, says Gervais, as he discusses with RT where Andy Millman could go next.

Continue on Part 9: On taking Andy Millman and company to America.

Part 9 of 15: On taking Andy Millman and company to America.

Andy Millman seems destined for Hollywood, as we discuss with Ricky Gervais.

Join us again tomorrow as Gervais discusses the ease of ambition, what to expect from This Side of the Truth and Karl’s abortive appearence in the film.

Ricky Gervais’ home on the web is rickygervais.com

Ricky Gervais - Jeff Vespa/WireImage.com

NB: This is the second part of a larger feature – to start from the beginning click here.

Ricky Gervais, the award-winning creator of The Office and Extras, is a very funny guy – a description he’d no doubt agree with.

But fame found the 47 year-old late in life. An early stint in the 80s as one half of pop duo Seona Dancing – by his own admission a duo more than slightly influenced by David Bowie — didn’t catapult the Reading-born Gervais to international success. Instead it was years later, when he wrote, directed and starred in The Office, a faux-documentary about life in a Slough paper merchant’s, that Gervais truly found fame. The show became one of the country’s most successful sitcoms and set Gervais up as one of comedy’s icons.

His career has gone from strength to strength ever since. With his writing partner Stephen Merchant and radio producer Karl Pilkington, The Ricky Gervais Show served London station XFM well for years before spinning off into the most successful podcast of all time. With Merchant he went on to write Extras, leveraging all the good will he’d earned with The Office to pepper a sitcom about life as a Supporting Artiste with cameos from the likes of Kate Winslet, Samuel L. Jackson and Orlando Bloom.

Hollywood soon beckoned, and Gervais’ star began to ascend Stateside with cameos in the likes of Night at the Museum, For Your Consideration and Stardust. This year it’s his turn to dominate, with the recently-released comedy Ghost Town marking his first romantic lead. He’ll follow it next year with This Side of the Truth, which he’s written and directed with Matthew Robinson. The star-studded comedy is set in a world in which the human race hasn’t evolved the gene to lie until a writer discovers he’s different.

Proving his talents operated just as comfortably in the live arena, Gervais has performed three stand-up shows, Animals, Politics and Fame, which have had respective DVD releases. A new show for the US will be released there shortly.

Dinner and the Movies
Ricky Gervais talks to RT-UK editor Joe Utichi

As Gervais works to finish This Side of the Truth and begins work on his next project — a new British comedy with Stephen Merchant — he joins RT to accept his Certified Fresh award for Ghost Town and discuss his career past, present and future. This is the latest chapter in our Dinner and the Movies series of extended interviews, which began with Kevin Smith and continued with Neil Gaiman, Edgar Wright and Guillermo del Toro.

The interview, presented in 15 parts which we’ll release in 5 chapters every day this week, can be watched back-to-back for a full conversational experience or dipped in and out of at will. Start from the beginning here.

Previously:

Part 1 – On being Certified Fresh and the worth of reviews.
Part 2 – On this year’s Emmys — highlights and lowlights.
Part 3 – On receiving the RT award and the public reception of Ghost Town.

In Today’s Chapter:

Part 4 – On redemption as a key theme and comedy plus.
Part 5 – On how annoyance informs the podcast.
Part 6 – On the brilliance of Karl Pilkington.

Join us again tomorrow as Gervais discusses a possible return to the podcast with a live show, and taking Andy Millman to the US in Extras. But for now, continue onto Part 4.

Ricky Gervais’ home on the web is rickygervais.com

Part 4 of 15: On redemption as a key theme and comedy plus.

Redemption has been a key theme for Gervais in The Office, Extras and now Ghost Town. He discusses why “comedy plus” is important.

Continue on Part 5: On how annoyance informs the podcast.

Part 5 of 15: On how annoyance informs the podcast.

The Ricky Gervais Show Podcast is one of the most popular of all time — Ricky explains why the dynamic works so well.

Continue on Part 6: On the brilliance of Karl Pilkington.

Part 6 of 15: On the brilliance of Karl Pilkington.

Karl Pilkington has a head like an orange, but he’s strangely brilliant. Gervais tells RT why that’s so.

Join us again tomorrow as Gervais discusses a possible return to the podcast with a live show, and taking Andy Millman to the US in Extras.

Ricky Gervais’ home on the web is rickygervais.com

Ricky Gervais - Jeff Vespa/WireImage.com

Ricky Gervais, the award-winning creator of The Office and Extras, is a very funny guy – a description he’d no doubt agree with.

But fame found the 47 year-old late in life. An early stint in the 80s as one half of pop duo Seona Dancing – by his own admission a duo more than slightly influenced by David Bowie — didn’t catapult the Reading-born Gervais to international success. Instead it was years later, when he wrote, directed and starred in The Office, a faux-documentary about life in a Slough paper merchant’s, that Gervais truly found fame. The show became one of the country’s most successful sitcoms and set Gervais up as one of comedy’s icons.

His career has gone from strength to strength ever since. With his writing partner Stephen Merchant and radio producer Karl Pilkington, The Ricky Gervais Show served London station XFM well for years before spinning off into the most successful podcast of all time. With Merchant he went on to write Extras, leveraging all the good will he’d earned with The Office to pepper a sitcom about life as a Supporting Artiste with cameos from the likes of Kate Winslet, Samuel L. Jackson and Orlando Bloom.

Hollywood soon beckoned, and Gervais’ star began to ascend Stateside with cameos in the likes of Night at the Museum, For Your Consideration and Stardust. This year it’s his turn to dominate, with the recently-released comedy Ghost Town marking his first romantic lead. He’ll follow it next year with This Side of the Truth, which he’s written and directed with Matthew Robinson. The star-studded comedy is set in a world in which the human race hasn’t evolved the gene to lie until a writer discovers he’s different.

Proving his talents operated just as comfortably in the live arena, Gervais has performed three stand-up shows, Animals, Politics and Fame, which have had respective DVD releases. A new show for the US will be released there shortly.

Dinner and the Movies
Ricky Gervais talks to RT-UK editor Joe Utichi

As Gervais works to finish This Side of the Truth and begins work on his next project — a new British comedy with Stephen Merchant — he joins RT to accept his Certified Fresh award for Ghost Town and discuss his career past, present and future. This is the latest chapter in our Dinner and the Movies series of extended interviews, which began with Kevin Smith and continued with Neil Gaiman, Edgar Wright and Guillermo del Toro.

The interview, presented in 15 parts which we’ll release in 5 chapters every day this week, can be watched back-to-back for a full conversational experience or dipped in and out of at will.

In Today’s Chapter:

Part 1 – On being Certified Fresh and the worth of reviews.
Part 2 – On this year’s Emmys — highlights and lowlights.
Part 3 – On receiving the RT award and the public reception of Ghost Town.

Join us again tomorrow as Gervais discusses his favourite theme, redemption, explains how the podcast dynamic works and revels in the brilliance of Karl Pilkington. But for now, continue onto Part 1.

Ricky Gervais’ home on the web is rickygervais.com

Part 1 of 15: On being Certified Fresh and the worth of reviews.

As Ricky comes to the RT office to pick up his Certified Fresh award he talks about critical success and the worth of awards.

Continue on Part 2: On this year’s Emmys — highlights and lowlights.

Part 2 of 15: On this year’s Emmys — highlights and lowlights.

Gervais’ appearance at the Emmy awards this year was one of the show’s few highlights — he discusses it with RT.

Continue on Part 3: On receiving the RT award and the public reception of Ghost Town.

Part 3 of 15: On receiving the RT award and the public reception of Ghost Town.

Gervais’ appearance at the Emmy awards this year was one of the show’s few highlights — he discusses it with RT.

Join us again tomorrow as Gervais discusses his favourite theme, redemption, explains how the podcast dynamic works and revels in the brilliance of Karl Pilkington.

Ricky Gervais’ home on the web is rickygervais.com

Speaking exclusively to Rotten Tomatoes, writer and comedy actor Ricky Gervais revealed that his upcoming feature film, The Man from the Pru, would spinoff into its own television series shortly after its debut. “We’re thinking of doing a TV spinoff,” Gervais said. “We’re doing it the M*A*S*H way round. It was originally just going to be a TV series — in fact it predates Extras.”

The multi-hyphenate, whose directorial debut This Side of the Truth is shot and is due in cinemas late next year, recently visited the Rotten Tomatoes office in London to collect a Certified Fresh award for Ghost Town, in which he stars. The film, about a man whose hospital mishap results in a rather unwanted ability to see dead people, is currently an impressive 85% fresh with 143 reviews collected.

The Man from the Pru will be his next project, and his first big-screen collaboration with Stephen Merchant, with whom he co-wrote The Office and Extras. The film will follow a group of twenty-somethings in the 1970s as they waste their lives while working at the Prudential building society. “It’s that thing of whether these working class guys can escape their class. Are they going to move in with their mum when they get married and then move in next door when they get their first house?”

Explaining the concept of spinning the film off into its own TV show, Ricky told RT, “it’d be lovely to launch this sort of quintessentially British feel and then have that ongoing thing ready where you can hit the ground running. I think it’s a much better way around than doing a TV show and trying to turn it into a film. This way around gives it a bit more gravitas, I think.

“The film would be The Man from the Pru, but then the show could be The Men from the Pru. It could be a prequel, we might not get to where we did in the film, or we might move the emphasis a bit, we might make it slightly more sitcom and less epic. We’re going to think of it as we go along, really.”

The project is close to home for Gervais in more ways than one. Not only is it set in his hometown of Reading, but he revealed that some of the dialogue in the script for the film came from conversations he’d had with his mother in his youth. “There’s a line in it that my mum said to me,” he explained. “I was thinking of going to France and she went, ‘What do you want to go abroad for? There are parts of your own town that you haven’t seen yet.'”

Of course we’ll be following the project as we learn more, but that’s not all from Gervais on RT this month. Join us tomorrow when we’ll be sharing his words on the possibility of more Extras, and later on to catch his hilarious acceptance speech and our full interview. Could Karl Pilkington soon be reviewing films on RT? Find out more soon.

Ghost Town is in cinemas now. You can find out more about Ricky’s many upcoming projects at rickygervais.com

Hitting the UK cinemas this week we have Ricky Gervais as a dentist who sees dead people in the comedy Ghost Town, the long awaited big screen debut for the Disney behemoth that is High School Musical 3, and on a slightly less fluffy note we have a young mother who sees her husband and son killed in a terrorist attack in Incendiary. But what did the UK critics have to say?

Ricky Gervais boasts a proud record of two hugely successful TV series with The Office and Extras, pioneering and record-breaking podcasts with Stephen Merchant and the legendary Karl ‘Head Like A ****ing Orange’ Pilkington, a range of critically acclaimed childrens books with the Flanimals, three sellout stand-up shows, and most recently a few minor, but well received roles in Hollywood films Night At The Museum, For Your Consideration and Stardust. But how would he fare in his first starring role as misanthropic dentist Bertram Pincus, who discovers he can communicate with the dead after dying for seven minutes during a botched medical procedure? With the movie Certified Fresh at 85% on the Tomatometer, UK critics reflected what their American counterparts had said about the movie, praising Gervais for his enjoyable, sharp and witty performance as the spirit spotting teeth tyrant, which elevates the film above its possibly creaky concept into, what some of the critics are saying, one of the rom-coms of the year. Up next for Gervais is This Side Of Truth, due for release next year, a comedy in which he not only stars, but he has written, and co-directed, so we will see if we can add auteur to his already glittering CV.

If you are aged over the age of 14, you may find the whole High School Musical phenomenon slightly bewildering, but with ticket pre-sales for the threequel, the first cinematic outing for the smash hit series, breaking box-office records, there is no denying that Disney have a monster on their hands. Teen heartthrobs Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens reprise their roles as Troy and Gabriella, in the final year at East High School, with university looming, the couple have to face up for a possible future apart. UK critics praised the movie for its slick production, feel good factor, and positive messages, but on the whole the jaded critics felt underwhelmed by it’s saccharine lightweight nature, predictable plot and sanitised vision of high school life. But even at a Rotten 58% on the Tomatometer, we’ve no doubt that the critical reception for HSM3 will have no bearing whatsoever on its box office takings come half term week.

Incendiary is directed by Sharon Maguire who previously helmed Bridget Jones Diary and is an adaptation of a novel by Chris Cleave. The novel was notable for its release on 7/7/05, the day of the London bombing atrocities, as it also deals with a terrorist bomb plot in London. Michelle Williams stars as a young mother who’s life is torn apart when her son and husband are killed in a bomb blast at the Arsenal football stadium, who seeks solace in her grief with Ewan McGregor‘s reporter character. The critics have praised Williams’ earnest portrayal as the mourning mother in the well-natured drama, but on the whole the movie has been dismissed for its unrealistic portrayal of modern London, far-fecthed nature and cliché ridden plot. At 26% on the Tomatometer, Incendiary is more of a misfire than a blast off.

Also worth checking out this week…

Chocolate — A tough, uncompromising, real stunt, Thai Kung Fu flick, with a slushy plot but badass fight scenes. 69% on the Tomatometer.

Quote Of The Week

“Committed acting, cast chemistry and the odd touching moment just about save you from checking whether this was actually produced by Bernard Matthews.”

Incendiary. Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro.

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