Paul

Posted on March 17, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Director Greg Mottola (“Superbad,” “Adventureland”) is an expert at mixing raunch and sweetness. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (“Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz”) are experts at making funny but knowing and affectionate tributes to movie genres. Together, they’ve made an uneven but amiable road trip sci-fi comedy about an alien with sly references to everything from “Star Trek” and “2001” to “Alien” and “Battlestar Gallactica.” And, of course, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “ET.”

It begins, as all pop-culture-obsessed stories should, at Comic-Con, the annual San Diego fanboy extravaganza. Two English fans, Graeme (Pegg) and Clive (Frost) begin their long-awaited first visit to America, starting at Comic-Con and continuing on a road trip to Area 51, Roswell, and other legendary UFO locations. They happily put an “Alien On Board” bumper sticker on their camper. But that doesn’t mean they are prepared to actually have a close encounter of their own.

And certainly Paul (stoner-ish voice of Seth Rogan) is not at all what they had in mind. He immediately reassures them that the business about the probes is just an urban legend. He’s been on Earth for quite a while, so he has had a chance not just to absorb a lot of American culture but to influence it as well (Steven Spielberg has a clever cameo). He thought he was a guest, but has learned he was a prisoner. Now a fed (Jason Bateman) and a pair of cops (“SNL’s” Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio) are after him and Graeme and Clive are in for an adventure beyond their wildest dreams, which were already pretty wild (as shown in their comic book).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5ipZwwQPcY

They meet a variety of people along the way, including Jane Lynch as a sympathetic waitress and Kristin Wiig as Ruth, a fundamentalist Christian with a bad eye who wears a creationist t-shirt showing Jesus shooting Darwin. Paul and the Brits cause her to have massive cognitive dissonance, questioning everything she has ever believed. Wiig manages to make Ruth’s child-like delight in catching up on a lifetime of unused swearwords is sweetly innocent. Mottola keeps things going briskly with some surprising cameos as more people join the chase, including Ruth’s gun-totin’, Bible-thumpin’ father, some angry biker types, a woman whose life was transformed by a close encounter with Paul when he first landed, and the head of the shady government agency trying to capture Paul before he makes it to the mother ship. The crudity, drug humor, and attempted satire about fundamentalism fall flat most of the time, but the affectionate understanding of fanboys and their obsessions, the unpretentious sweetness of the friendship and budding romance, and a couple of plot surprises make this something to phone home about.

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Action/Adventure Comedy Fantasy Science-Fiction
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‘Twilight’s’ Alex Merez: Interview of Paul from the Wolf Pack

Posted on June 29, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Alex.JPGAlex Merez is one of the wolf pack in this week’s release of “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” the third of the series based on Stephanie Meyer’s wildly popular books. The wolf pack are the Quileute people who become wolves. I spoke to him when he came to Washington D.C. for a special showing of the last film, “New Moon.”
When “New Moon” came out, I spoke to two of the vampires, who told me they took movement lessons to develop their cat-like grace. What kind of preparation did you do for moving like a wolf? Was your background in dance helpful?
Yes. I think it is mostly about your posture. People can tell whether it is defensive or aggressive. I put some thought into it but I didn’t take any classes. (Laughs.) It’s all in the eyes. That’s where their chain of command is, in the eyes. Little subtleties, too, where their ears are, keeping my shoulders in, kind of scrappy and aggressive.
Do you have any action scenes in the film?
No, but my wolf does! I made sure to massage Phil Tippett, the genius behind making the wolves do what they do. I just massage his shoulders and then he made my wolf do extra-cool stuff.
What’s the most fun about playing a wolf person?
Being half-nude the whole time! It got freezing cold, but it was the only time I could be that naked and not get a ticket.
I watched over and over again Bram Stoker’s Dracula with Gary Oldman, one of my favorites. I really enjoyed that film. Now I like more dramas and indie films. I loved “Crazy Heart,” this anti-hero trying to reclaim the fleeting game.
Did you want to be an actor when you were a kid?
It wasn’t until much later. I thought if you wanted to be an actor you had to be on stage, acting, singing — that was not my cup of tea. But I met my mentor, a very strong, physical, masculine man and he persuaded me to go into it.
You are a First Nation descendant of the Purepecha Nation, so like the wolf pack in the movie you are of Native American descent. Is that important in playing the role?
The cool thing about it is coming from that cultural perspective, you can’t fake it or read a book about it. It’s something you just have. It’s just a part of you. So we really bring that into our characterization. We definitely focus on the community. And wolf packs rely on each other. They can’t survive alone. That’s something native people do anyway.
What did you do to have fun while you were filming?
We would go out to eat, we were watching movies. And Taylor would just hang with us.
Do you study martial arts?
Yes, I’m a black belt in Shidokan karate, have done muay thai, Afro-Brazilian martial arts, a little bit of ju-jitsu. twilight_saga_eclipse.jpg
Why is this story so popular?
It’s grounded in reality. Every great story is a love story at the root. Everyone can relate to that. Everyone understands hatred, betrayal, revenge, unrequited love. It touches on a lot of things that fans can grasp.
What do the fans say to you?
Take your shirt off!

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