Movie News

Zodiac

Please read the following sentence: Look here, sister, start usin’ them getaway sticks or you’ll be takin’ a pill from this roscoe here.* Did that make any earthly sense? Yes? No? Well, either way we’ll be learning the ways of the noirish gentleman (and lady) soon. Hopefully. Because David Fincher and James Ellroy are in talks with HBO to start up a film noir TV series. From the Playlist, we’ve got a scant few details: it’ll be set in Los Angeles and steeped in the same general ’50s backdrop as previous Ellroy works (they cite “L.A. Confidential” as a biggie). And that’s about as far as “scant” gets us. The Playlist stresses that there’s “no deal in place,” but given the talent involved, HBO would be foolish to pass this one up. Fincher’s never made an out-and-out film noir (unless you count a couple of ads for The Gap), but he’s dabbled in things with noir-ish vibes to them. Like Se7en, which was kind of a horror movie and kind of a neo-noir but still had Morgan Freeman in a three-piece suit, trenchcoat and hat. Totally counts in that regard. Ellroy, by comparison, is 100% gumshoe, having written two of the best noirs in recent history: “L.A. Confidential” and “The Black Dahlia.” Also, here’s a salient quote that should be mentioned every time his name comes up — Said by Ellroy, about Ellroy: “declarative and ugly and right there, punching you in the nards.”

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WATER FOR ELEPHANTS

After Reese Witherspoon dyed her hair and stepped into June Carter Cash’s shoes for Walk the Line, it was no longer a secret that she could sing, and sing well. The 2005 biopic that earned her the Oscar for Best Actress is a dark and complicated journey through the singer’s life with Johnny Cash, just as much about their volatile relationship as it is about the music. And though Carter was never someone with a just an ordinary voice, Witherspoon absolutely nailed what made her tick, hitting ever lilt and country twang with ease. Now she’s tackling another giant: legendary jazz singer and songwriter Peggy Lee (who herself received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination). There’s actually no title for the biopic yet — who wants to bet good money that it’s called Fever? — but Witherspoon has actually been circling the project for over four years, during which time it was to be written and directed by the late and great Nora Ephron. When she passed away in 2012, it was assumed that the project wouldn’t be moving forward, but news surfaced from Witherspoon herself that indicates otherwise. The actress revealed during an onstage interview at the Toronto Film Festival last night that Ephron completed her script before her death, and Todd Haynes will now be directing. He is the man to talk to when it comes to original and unconventional music biopics, so this is promising news for getting the project back in the running. Among his larger filmography, Haynes is responsible for the very unauthorized Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, the fictionalized-but-little-too-real glam-rock […]

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justin-lin-and-michelle-rodriguez-in-furios-si-iute-6-2013--large-picture

We’ve known for a while that True Detective isn’t doing the one-director-per-season thing, because that takes eons longer to film than an average TV show and HBO would very much prefer to run new episodes on a consistent schedule, not whenever a bunch of “time is a flat circle” mystics will it into existence, man. What we haven’t known is which directors will be stepping in to fill the Cary Fukunaga-sized hole left in the series. Until now. Potentially. The Hollywood Reporter names Justin Lin as the first director to be officially courted by HBO. The publication, sporting a stringy ponytail and jamming a penknife into a Lone Star beer can, says he is in talks to direct two episodes of the eight that are coming next season. Probably the first two, but it’s hard to tell amongst the crinkle of metal on metal and THR’s lengthy discussion of how life is memory that’s been locked away and left to rot, and all that remains is something something nihilism, alright alright alright.

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Robert De Niro in Grudge Match

We can never have too many wacky road trip comedies, but they need to involve particular formula to make things extra off-the-wall. Here’s one version: take a no-nonsense youngster — extra points if he’s a millennial completely dependent on technology who doesn’t appreciate how good things are nowadays (a mile uphill in the snow to school, etc., etc.) — and pair him with a zany sex-obsessed octogenarian who just wants to party. And party hard! Where we going? Vegas? Why? Who cares? Such an adventure is set to star Zac Efron and Robert De Niro with a script by John Phillips and direction by frequent Sacha Baron Cohen collaborator Dan Mazer (he’s a writer on Borat, Bruno and The Dictator). The project is going through a bit of an identity crisis at this point — it’s either called Dirty Grandpa or Driving Dick Kelly, depending on which outlet you consult. But the premise is the same no matter the name: Efron will play a very uptight young man with a huge problem: he’s going to marry the wrong woman! He is also tricked into driving his grandfather (De Niro), a retired, recently widowed and — this is important — perverted Army general, down to Florida for spring break. We all know where it goes from there. Spring. Break. Forevahhh. Question: How would Robert De Niro look in a pastel colored balaclava while holding a machine gun? Is there any answer besides amazing?

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Muschietti and Del Toro

Assassin’s Creed and Warcraft are no longer the only two contenders in the category of eminent video game movies that might not suck. A third possibility with some unbelievable muscle has just joined the fray. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Guillermo del Toro protege Andres Muschietti (Mama) has signed on to turn the Playstation 2 game Shadow of the Colossus into a jumbo tentpole for Sony, which includes him overseeing the script being written by Seth Lochhead. For those unfamiliar with the game, it centers around Wander, an adventurer desperate to revive the body of a slain maiden, for some reason (the details are kept intentionally vague). To do so, he must horseback his way across a vast fantasy world, tracking a teeny glint of light reflected from his sword. When he arrives at wherever the light was pointing to, a Godzilla-sized kaiju conveniently unburies itself from the earth. Bringing down the kaiju (or “Colossi,” as they’re called in the game) is the object of the game. You’re one guy with nothing but a horse, a sword and a bow, but the game repeatedly plops you in front of a monster whose toenails are the size of school buses and says, “Kill this, please.” Usually, that involves hanging on to patches of fur and using scales as stepping stones up its body, dodging the beast’s frequent attempts to pluck you off like an ant until you can bury your sword into an unprotected spot on its head.

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Bird People Movie

Bird People is a series of misconnections. After a blissful prologue paying homage to Wings of Desire, Pascale Ferran’s fourth feature listlessly morphs into a bizarre confluence of realism and magicalism. The film is a textbook example of ambition undercut by tonal and pacing inconsistency. Divided into two chapters, Bird People leads with Gary (Josh Charles), a Bay Area businessman ready to “leave everything behind,” as he proclaims. Ridden with anxiety, Gary knows he needs to leave his position at his growing Tech Company, his wife (after 18 years of courtship), his kids, and his current way of life. From one airport hotel to the next, he seems unable to experience joy or happiness.

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Margot Robbie in WOWS

Margot Robbie made audiences know her name in a big way last year as Jordan Belfort’s second, more glamorous (sorry, Cristin Milioti) and gloriously assertive Brooklynite, lingerie-designing wife in The Wolf of Wall Street. Since then, she has been racking up the lead roles. It doesn’t take much more than a nod from Martin Scorsese to let everyone know you’re alright. The Australian actress has a full roster of upcoming projects: she stars opposite Will Smith in the rom-com caper Focus, will appear alongside Michelle Williams and Kristin Scott Thomas in the French WWII flick Suite Française, is exploring a post-apocalyptic landscape with Chris Pine and Chiwetel Ejiofor in Z for Zachariah and swinging onto the big screen as the next Jane to Alexander Skarsgard’s Tarzan. Robbie clearly hasn’t pegged herself down as being a specific kind of actress, and she’s furthering that perception by entering early talks to star in a live-action adaptation of the classic manga “Ghost in the Shell.” DreamWorks will remake the 1995 anime version directed by Mamoru Oshii, something Hollywood has been attempting for the last 20 years, with William Wheeler (The Hoax) penning the script Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman) directing. If all works out, this could be her first solo venture.

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Vince Vaughn in Delivery Man

It’s time you asked yourself a tough question: when was the last time you had a genuine interest in seeing a Vince Vaughn movie? I’ll go ahead and start things off myself. Wedding Crashers. And Wedding Crashers was released 10 years ago. At first glance, Vaughn’s newly announced film The Politician looks to continue the trend of Vince Vaughn films the general public has no vested interest in. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he will star as a holder of elected office who’s caught in the act with a couple prostitutes. Rather than stand up and face his own failings, this politician gives a collective “ehhhh, the hell with this” to the nation and goes on the lam. At which point the FBI, the US Marshals and a drug gang all tear after him. But when the news broke, something curious bubbled up around it, just barely noticeable from our current position of general Vince Vaughn apathy: Talk of a Vince Vaughn comeback. It’s not much; only a few outlets are speaking of The Politician in the whispered tones and shifty eyes of “comeback” conversation. Here’s what we’ve got so far: “Maybe Vaughn truly is taking back his career á la Matthew McConaughey.” (Evan Dickson, Collider) “Hopefully that pans out and that starts something of a career comeback for Vaughn.” (Cricket Lee, GeekNation) “This film sounds like it could signal a turnaround in Vaughn’s fading star power.” (Damen Norton, UnrealityTV) “We could see a return to form for the actor.” (Graham McMorrow, JoBlo)

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The Rock in Fast & Furious 6

After months of speculation and giddy, delightful wishes and hopeful tweets from the man himself, Dwayne Johnson has officially revealed his role in the DC Movie Universe via Twitter. (and reported on by Variety). While it’s been known for some time that he would play some part in that evolving franchise, it took time to pinpoint exactly where he would land. He wasn’t to be a villain in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, he wasn’t to be their Aquaman and he vehemently denied he would be Green Lantern. Instead, he is indeed in a standalone Shazam movie, as he has consistently teased on social media and practically confirmed back in July — but at the time he didn’t divulge whether he would play the title superhero or the villain, Black Adam. You can’t blame the man. Johnson’s a guy of simple tastes. He loves pro wrestling, lifting at the gym, being one of the nicest guys in Hollywood and reading the “Shazam” comic books. So the likelihood that he would play one of the lead roles in Shazam has been big news for his Twitter feed. And today is no different, as he went online to Tweet that we should all “kneel at his feet or get crushed by his boot.”

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ABCs of Death 2

Promising 26 new ways to die, the red band trailer for The ABCs of Death 2 is another hodgepodge of violent imagery and delightful snacking options. It lives up to its NSFW coloration, too. People are shot, stabbed and axed, cheeks are bitten clean through, and one woman performs an homage to either Clockwork Orange or penises in general. It’s another trailer to press play on just as your boss walks by your office/cubicle/fry station.

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Emma Roberts American Horror Story

High school is rough for everyone, but things get a little more complicated when your prestigious all-girl prep school is severely isolated across a frozen landscape and your parents mysteriously fail to pick you up for winter break. No calls or anything. Such is the case for Rose and Kat, the unfortunate teens at the center of Osgood Perkins‘ upcoming film, February. Described as a coming-of-age horror thriller, the film follows Rose and Kat along with a third young woman named Joan — identified as “beautiful and haunted,” always a great yearbook superlative — who starts a journey to come save them. But as she gets closer, Kat starts experiencing terrifying visions, and Rose is only able to silently watch as she becomes possessed by a sinister, unseen energy. Emma Roberts and Kiernan Shipka have just signed on to star in the film, but it’s not clear which two of the trio they’ll be playing. Since their casting was listed together, it seems most likely that they’re playing Rose and Kat, the unhappiest prep schoolers with the most negligent parents and school officials in history. Who leaves a couple students unattended at a giant spooky school without checking to see when their parents are retrieving them first? That’s ground for a solid lawsuit.

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Hallucinaut

The first time I recall Terry Gilliam‘s name being used to sell me on a movie it was City of Lost Children, but that was through a critic blurb making a comparison between the Brazil director and City‘s Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro. Prior to that, though, he’d actually lent his name as a presenter for their Delicatessen. I might not have discovered those movies without the endorsement. Later, Gilliam also put his name in a similar manner on Bill Plympton’s Idiots and Angels. As a Gilliam fan, I fell in love with Jeunet’s work immediately, while I’d already been into Plympton and now had more reason to appreciate the animation legend. I don’t know that Gilliam attached his name to anything before, between or after those two — I’m not counting the BBC TV adaptation of the book The Last Machine: Early Cinema and the Birth of the Modern World, because he also appears in the series. He does, however, have two executive producer credits on upcoming movies, a live-action fantasy from Oscar-nominated animators Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski called The White Circus, and an animation-plus-puppetry steampunk feature called 1884: Yesterday’s Future. Now there’s another project we have to look forward to based on Gilliam’s support: Hallucinaut.

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Nicholas Sparks Movies

There’s some obscure (and possibly occult) law that if enough people sob at a movie, their tears will fertilize a new film empire. It’s why James Cameron stopped making regular action movies and started putting out three-hour epics like Titanic and Avatar, all designed around jerking as many tears as possible. This would also explain the alleged reports that Cameron showed up during random screenings of Titanic to dab at people’s tears with a wad of hundreds and chuckle menacingly to himself. Nicholas Sparks did the same thing with The Notebook. He got the requisite number of sobs, and now he’s set for life. Along with this year’s The Best of Me and next year’s The Longest Ride, yet another film based on one of his novels is now in the works. Variety reports Sparks’s novel “The Choice” will be adapted into a feature by Ross Katz, whose new film Adult Beginners premieres next week at the Toronto Film Festival (Katz’s first feature, for anyone curious, is the 2009 HBO movie Taking Chance, in which Kevin Bacon escorts home the body of  fallen soldier). Here’s how Variety describes the novel: “the story of a man and a woman who meet first as neighbors in a small coastal town in North Carolina and end up pursuing a relationship that neither could have foreseen.”

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Carla Juri in Wetlands

Never in my life have I been so engrossed in that which is gross. That’s perhaps my second thought after seeing David Wnendt’s Wetlands at this year’s South by Southwest Film Festival. My first thought: “Ewww…” I wasn’t alone: Nothing at SXSW has topped Wetlands, aka Ewww Is the Warmest Color. — Britt Hayes, Esq. (@MissBrittHayes) March 13, 2014 According to the PR email accompanying this new “pink band” trailer for the film’s theatrical release, Wetlands is “an unapologetically vulgar coming-of-age tale about divorce, first love and anal fissures.” That pretty much sums it up. The story of an eighteen year-old girl named Helen (Carla Juri) who is into skateboarding and rebelling against the tenets of personal hygiene. As she explains in the film’s opening monologue, she’s decided to treat her body like an active science experiment. She’s out to break the glass ceilings of society’s taboos and we’re along for the ride. Just bring your dramamine.

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Lars von Trier in The Five Obstructions

If you were concerned that Lars von Trier had come out of his self-imposed media isolation (since 2011) to share assuredly bizarre news with the world, soothe your worries, because he had Stellan Skarsgard and Nymphomaniac producer Louise Vesth do the dirty work for him. During the Venice Film Festival press conference for Nymphomanic: Vol. II — Director’s Cut, which von Trier declined to attend in person, Vesth shared brief details on the filmmaker’s next project (even cranky artists who aren’t too fond of reporters need to get the word out somehow). Deadline relayed the announcement that von Trier is tackling an “unprecedented” English language TV series with an enormous international cast called The House That Jack Built. According to Vesth, it will be “something you have never seen before and something you will definitely never see again.” While that is completely believable, the plot details aren’t available yet. Von Trier is in the process of writing the series for a 2016 shoot. Although we’ll be waiting a little while before this materializes, the show’s executive producer, Peter Aalbæk Jensen, still urged everyone that “you better hold your breath.” What exactly is von Trier cooking up here? While he’s danced with television before, his best work was back in 1994 when he helmed the brilliant Danish fantasy and horror miniseries The Kingdom. That series, which centers upon a Copenhagen hospital where supernatural happenings occur, was a massive success for the filmmaker. There’s a real possibility, knowing von Trier, that the new series is going to be just as strange and surreal as […]

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Pixar Lava

It’s still nearly a year away, but Pixar wants you to meet the smiling earth pimple who will sing his way into your heart. Lava will play in front of Inside Out in June 2015, and it features two volcanoes in love. If IMDB is to be trusted, it also takes place over millions of years (most likely lived in land-bound, cloud-envying frustration). On its own, the teaser trailer is sweet and lightweight with some excellent time-lapse-aping visuals, but as yet another sign of Pixar’s return to originality and experimentation, it’s also a mountain-sized sigh of relief. Uku (singing in Kuana Torres Kahele‘s unmistakable voice) sings a song that’s essentially “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with different lyrics that still have the same wishful meaning. He wants someone to wrap his foliage-covered arms around. Check it out for yourself:

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Open Road Films

When Jon Stewart first announced he was taking time off to write and direct a feature film the expectation was for some kind of comedy. Sure it would probably be smart and most likely woven through with political or social commentary, but the main narrative would surely be something goofy. Happily that wasn’t what Stewart was interested in pursuing though and instead took up a far greater challenge. Maziar Bahari is an Iranian-born journalist who was arrested in Tehran while covering the elections and subsequent riots for Newsweek. His jail time lasted several months and included both physical and emotional torture, and the story Stewart wanted to tell on film is the one Bahari told in his memoir, “Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity and Survival.” It’s an alternately engaging, terrifying and inspiring story, and while that’s enough of a reason to bring it to the screen Stewart had another motive as well. Clips of Bahari being interviewed on The Daily Show were used as evidence against him during his “trial” in Iran. Check out the first trailer for Rosewater below.

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Rhymes for Young Ghouls

It’s easy enough to pinpoint when Jennifer Lawrence broke out. Long before American Hustle or the X-Men films or even the Hunger Games series, there was Winter’s Bone. At some point in January of 2010, Lawrence became a bonafide star — or, at least, a star-in-the-making, one to watch — thanks to Debra Granik’s acute study of the kind of hard knock life that few people ever even have a basic awareness of. Lawrence was eventually nominated for an Oscar for her part in the film — her first — and the film picked up nods for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (the phenomenal John Hawkes). It was a small-scale indie juggernaut, and it made it clear that Lawrence was someone to watch. We suspect something similar is about to happen to Devery Jacobs after her turn in Jeff Barnaby‘s Rhymes for Young Ghouls. Did you miss the Lawrence bust-out? Don’t make that same mistake twice.

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Harry Belafonte in Kansas City

Proving the Honorary Oscars are not simply lifetime achievement awards given as a consolation prize, two of this year’s four Governors Award recipients are already Academy Award winners. And of those two, there are seven nominations among them. Japanese animation legend Hayao Miyazaki was recognized in the Best Animated Feature category in 2003 for Spirited Away, in 2006 for Howl’s Moving Castle and in 2014 for The Wind Rises. He won the first of those. French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere was nominated in 1973 and 1978 for collaborating with Luis Bunuel on scripts for The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (original) and That Obscure Object of Desire (adapted), then in 1989 for working with director Philip Kaufman on the adaptation of The Unbearable Lightness of Being. His first nomination and win came in 1963 for writing and directing the short film Happy Anniversary with Pierre Etaix. As for the other two honorees who’ll receive their statuettes in a special ceremony on November 8th, one is actress and iconic redhead Maureen O’Hara, who was never herself nominated but who starred in Best Picture winner How Green Is My Valley and nominees Miracle on 34th Street and The Quiet Man. Rounding out the foursome is Harry Belafonte, whose previous vicinity to Oscar was narrating the documentary feature nominee King: A Filmed Record…Montgomery to Memphis and starring in Carmen Jones, which received nominations for co-star Dorothy Dandridge and its score. He also performed the nominated song “Unchained Melody” at the 1956 ceremony, though he wasn’t the voice on the soundtrack for its movie, […]

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Michael Shannon in Young Ones

There wasn’t much hype surrounding Young Ones at Sundance. It was a movie on people’s radar, but after it screened, it didn’t generate much buzz. That’s a shame, because Jake Paltrow‘s second directorial effort is an excellent film. It’s a western with a twist of science-fiction. The sci-fi elements are mostly left in the background, though. Young Ones is a movie that could mostly do without all the futuristic machinery, it’s just an immensely cool cherry on the top. That CGI tech, by the way, is seamlessly rendered into these beautiful desert landscapes. They have a worn down, used quality that suits this old-fashioned story. Young Ones is about a family. At the beginning we see a father, played with charm and warmth by Michael Shannon, protecting his land from thieves. They’re there to steal his water supply. In this future — what year isn’t stated and doesn’t matter — there’s a serious drought going on. The father and his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) hope one day to get some of the water that’s left to run through their land. Their journey leans more heavily on drama than genre thrills, but the trailer would lead us to believe otherwise.

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