Movie News

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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rock-n-roll-high-school

There’s no doubt that Martin Scorsese knows exactly what he’s doing when it comes to crafting thorough, smart and loving projects centering on the careers of beloved musical acts. He’s basically the unofficial godfather to the Rolling Stones, using their music in a number of his films and directing their fantastic concert doc Shine a Light. He has The Last Waltz, a doc chronicling The Band’s legendary 1976 farewell concert under his belt, as well as the Bob Dylan film No Direction Home, and a long-gestating project called Sinatra still in the works. What he hasn’t touched yet is punk, but he’s going back to the source by reportedly making a biopic about the Ramones, the seminal New York act that inspired a generation of leather jackets in 80-degree weather, ripped jeans, scowling faces and songs around two minutes in length (if we’re being very generous). Buried in a Billboard article detailing the ways that the Ramones will resurge in the next few years, at least in terms of branding, is this news that Scorsese “is attached” to a film about the punk rockers. The Wrap adds that a source close to the project says he’ll be directing.

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Lionsgate

Fantastic Fest may be a festival focused on off-the-radar genre films from here and abroad, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for recognizable Hollywood faces. They’ve just announced their second wave of titles playing this year, and while it’s heavy on unfamiliar foreign titles there are a few heavy hitters in there too. One of last year’s highlights was the presence of Keanu Reeves who there with his directorial debut, the surprisingly fun Man of Tai Chi, but also took time out to participate in the Fantastic Debates. He’s returning again this year, and while he didn’t direct John Wick it promises to be a rollicking action flick all the same thanks to Reeves’ clear love of the genre and the co-directors vast experience in the stunt game. Jake Gyllenhaal won’t be making an appearance, but his fantastically dark-looking new film, Nightcrawler, will be closing the fest. Other known talents include the latest from high-kicker Marko Zaror in Redeemer, Takashi Miike’s return to horror with Over Your Dead Body, Astron-6’s giallo-inspired thriller The Editor, Sion Sono’s hip-hop musical Tokyo Tribe, a documentary about the cinematic glory days of Cannon Films and one of my favorite films from this year’s Sundance fest, Eskil Vogt’s Blind. Keep reading to see the whole announcement and entire second wave of films playing this year’s Fantastic Fest.

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Laura 1944

Here’s a remake idea that won’t have you doing a spit-take and attempting to burn Hollywood down to its sinful ashes: Otto Preminger‘s Laura. Yes, the film is an unabashed classic, one of those films noir that’s been vaulted up to mythical, God-like status amongst those who still watch movies from before 1970. The 1944 film follows a detective, Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews), investigating the murder of the rich, gorgeous and all-around enchanting Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney), who was blown away by an unfortunate shotgun blast to the face. Our dashing detective sinks himself into the case, but as he does he starts to fall madly in love with the deceased dame. Which would be fine (who among us hasn’t developed a little crush on a murder victim now and then?), except the case starts to turn in a seriously weird direction, leaving McPherson the only one to sort out its loop-de-looping plot twists and save the day. Laura stands perfectly fine on its own, and the world would also be just fine if everyone left the film alone on its pedestal of greatness and didn’t try to match it (unlike that Kickboxer remake, a necessary sacrifice to the elder gods, lest they rain hellfire upon us). But in this case, we’ll allow it. Here’s why: The Hollywood Reporter has James Ellroy re-adapting the story for the screen. Ellroy is one of the biggest crime fiction writers alive, with a self-described style that’s “declarative and ugly and right there, punching you in the nards.” […]

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Medium Cool tank

What if in the midst of the Ferguson protests, literally on the scene with actors intertwined with real demonstrators, someone was filming a fictional drama with a romantic plot? That would seem disrespectful, I’m sure, if only because those events have been centered around the death of an individual. It might be different if there was a Hollywood production filming in the middle of something less personal, like the Occupy Wall Street protests, as Warner Bros. had reportedly been considering doing for parts of The Dark Knight Rises. That didn’t happen, and maybe it never was supposed to, because that sounds like a logistical nightmare as far as release forms and such are concerned. Plus, in retrospect, it would have been an unfortunate cameo for the 99% given that the movie’s superhero comes off as anti-OWS, even if Christopher Nolan doesn’t mean to be critical of the movement. In spite of where the technology is at today, having a fictional film use real events as not only a backdrop but as onscreen background material is probably not possible. Sure, there’s better capability now of involving high-quality stealth cameras in something like a protest march or battlefield or other bit of history in the making, but the legalities have to be too much of a headache to deal with. We can navigate more easily through the crowds, but not through the paperwork. That is one of the reasons Haskell Wexler‘s Medium Cool, which Paramount Pictures released 45 years ago on this date, is so extremely cool. […]

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THE NINTH LIFE OF LOUIS DRAX by Liz Jensen

Though Jamie Dornan will soon be seen taking care of business and (literally) cracking the whip as a young entrepreneur with an exceptionally active social life over at Fifty Shades of Grey, he’s signed up for a bit of a fictional career change as he joins the cast of Alexandre Aja‘s The Ninth Life of Louis Drax. The film, an adaptation of a best-selling novel by Liz Jensen, follows a nine-year-old boy named Louis Drax who is a little different than the other kids. Brilliant, but perceived as weird, Louis always seems to have something terrible happen to him — and his ninth birthday is no different. He suffers a massive fall that nearly takes his life, and there are no details to shed light on how or why the incident occurred. Dornan steps in as Dr. Allan Pascal, a physician who is drawn to Drax’s peculiar case.

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