08.05.11

The Yes List

Each week, The Daily Beast sifts through the cultural landscape to choose three top picks. This week, ‘Bellflower’ earns the best reviews of the year, William Joyce’s ‘The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore’ embraces the potential of the iPad, and ‘Jersey Shore’ returns for a culture shock in Italy.

 The Year's Most Explosive Film Hits Theaters

A deranged love story made for just $17,000 and boasting homemade flamethrowers and whiskey-dispensing muscle cars has emerged as the leader among the high-profile acquisitions at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Mesmerizing indie film Bellflower, in theaters Friday, tells the tale of Woodrow, a soft-spoken gearhead played by writer/director Evan Glodell. He builds flamethrowers and other weapons in preparation for the apocalypse, which would clear a path for his made-up gang, “Mother Medusa,” to rule the earth. But when he finds his blond bad-girl Milly cheating, he gets in a near-fatal motorcycle accident, and transforms into a brain-damaged nihilistic loner who makes her life a living hell. Made with a tiny budget in a mere three years, Glodell has achieved the near-impossible with Bellflower. “When it came to the movie, I was willing to do anything that I thought wouldn’t kill me,” he told The Daily Beast.

William Joyce’s Children’s iPad Book Embraces the Future

Morris Lessmore on the iPad
Moonbot Studios

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, William Joyce’s fabulous new children’s book, embraces the potential of the iPad like nothing else. From his balcony in what looks like the French Quarter in New Orleans, The story’s title character is swept away by a Katrina-like storm so powerful that it can blow the words right off the pages of a book. Dumped into a black-and-white landscape littered with wreckage, Morris encounters a savior of sorts, who tosses him a flying book that leads him to a library set out in the countryside. Here he takes up residence, learns to care for the thousands of books he lives with and begins to write down his own story, an effort that takes him all his life. This little story about the love of books has actually outsold “Angry Birds,” at least for a few days. Joyce, the astonishingly prolific filmmaker, children’s television show creator, and children’s author, admitted he was worried about the new medium. “It’s going to doom the things I love. I thought librarians would be afraid of it, like I’d brought in a jar of anthrax spores,” he told The Daily Beast. “But what I saw was people embracing and loving the bookishness of it. It made them want to have the book. Whatever the future’s going to be, part of it is going to be working this way. People aren’t going to quit buying books, they’re still going to want to own the books they love.”

Jersey Shore Takes Over Italy

Jersey Shore
The cast of The Jersey Shore. (Courtesy of MTV)

“There’s nothing more authentic than my family” were Jersey Shore Vinny’s famous last words before leaving for Italy on the show’s fourth season premiere on Thursday. But the guidos and guidettes, whose orange skin and heavily sprayed tresses blended in in Seaside Heights and Miami Beach, quickly learned that things in Italy are very different. In this parallel Jersey Shore Italian universe, blow dryers, flat irons, and curling irons didn’t work and The Situation started putting the moves on Snooki. In the first episode of Season 4, Pauly D called Italy “the most beautifulest [sic] country” and Snooki exclaimed “a Ferris wheel!” upon seeing a carousel. It’s no surprise the cast struggled with their new home’s native language. With Vinny as their only Italian speaker and a new “guido Mr. Miyagi” friend at the gym, the Jersey Shore cast may find a way to get by—that is, if they don’t kill each other in the process. We’ll find out what Italy brings for them next Thursday (a.k.a. Jerzday).