Movie News

David Henrie

Ronald Reagan has been portrayed plenty over the decades, but this year seems to be especially hot for the actor-turned-politician. He is reportedly an actual character in the second season of the Fargo TV series, and now there’s an update on an upcoming biopic about the world leader way before becoming the President of the United States. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the movie will focus on Reagan’s early years as an actor, through his time as the head of the Screen Actors Guild. That presumably covers the 1940s and 1950s, including his divorce from Jane Wyman and meeting and marriage to Nancy (Davis), but the actor just cast for the lead role in the movie is former Disney Channel star David Henrie (The Wizards of Waverly Place), and he’s only 25. Reagan turned 25 in 1936, a year before he even made his first film appearance in Love is On the Air. More than aiming for a look at the future POTUS’s Hollywood life and start in politics, this biopic will focus on Reagan’s stance against communism, a position that had him and Nancy ratting out suspected reds in the film industry, first as FBI informants and then officially before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

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Entertainment One

The hunt for Osama bin Laden was so significant that we’ve already had a few movies about missions to find and/or kill the al-Qaeda leader. Most famously, of course, is Zero Dark Thirty, which dramatizes the operation that resulted in bin Laden’s death. Before that was the comedic documentary Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?, in which director Morgan Spurlock jokingly travels through Africa and the Middle East in search of the wanted terrorist. Spurlock wasn’t the only “regular guy” on the hunt, though, as we’ll see soon enough in the comedy Army of One. Described as a satire, the movie will also be based on a true story of the “Rocky Mountain Rambo,” Gary Faulkner, a Denver-based construction worker who in 2010 went to Pakistan armed with a pistol, a knife and a samurai sword to take out bin Laden all by himself. Who could possibly play such a crazy man? Nicolas Cage has been cast, of course. Directing Army of One is Larry Charles, of Borat, Bruno and the Bill Maher-led comedic documentary Religulous. The Hollywood Reporter describes the project as “semi-scripted,” with writing credits going to Draft Day‘s Scott Rothman and Rajiv Joseph and a “GQ” article by Chris Heath. “GQ,” by the way, is a Conde Nast publication and this movie will be produced by Conde Nast Entertainment. The Weinsteins have already picked it up for distribution, possibly for a late 2015 release even though it won’t begin shooting until March.

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Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

On the heels of the theatrical and VOD debut of Vice last Friday, Bruce Willis is re-teaming with the producers of that sci-fi thriller for another movie called Extraction. This one will similarly shoot in Alabama and similarly sounds like another cheap genre flick suited for a direct-to-video release coupled by good box office overseas. According to Deadline, Willis will play a CIA agent who is kidnapped and has to be rescued by his son, who is also a CIA agent, when the government passes on mounting a mission themselves. Is it just a role-reversed remake of A Good Day to Die Hard? Should they just cast Jai Courtney as the younger spy and some foreign markets can actually retitle it A Good Day to Die Hard 2 on their DVD covers? Extraction will be directed by Steven C. Miller, helmer of the 2012 Silent Night, Deadly Night remake, and is written by someone named Umair Aleem, who has no IMDb profile. The producers, Randall Emmett and George Furla, have worked with Willis on a number of movies, most of them in the recent lower-profile phase of the actor’s career. Past collaborations you may or may not have heard of include last year’s The Prince, 2012’s Fire With Fire, 2011’s Setup and, most notable, 2006’s 16 Blocks. Emmett and Furla have been involved with a lot of vehicles for past-their-prime action stars, such as Escape Plan, Rambo and Steven Seagal’s Submerged, plus a whole lot of movies starring 50 Cent, but they’re […]

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.@GundamFan4Life The Raid 3 isn’t going to be happening anytime soon. Ideas in my head. Nothing written. No set date. 2018/19 possibly. — Gareth Evans (@ghuwevans) January 21, 2015 It’s possible that you poured yourself a double and wept at this tweet from Raid director Gareth Evans, and there’s no shame in that, but consider the major reasons why pressing pause on the franchise is a good thing. For one, it allows Evans to branch out, to move away from the sink hole of being known for one set of movies. Proving himself by covering different ground can 1) give us even more fun movies to watch and 2) show future investors that he’s not a one-trick filmmaker. Also consider that his tweet was in response to a question launched by an earlier tweet which read, “Time to find a brand new collection of streets & buildings outside of Indonesia to fuck up with cars and mayhem.” Sound good? Sounds good. He’s currently working on another project called Blister, as well as UFC/heist movie called Breaking the Bank and whatever else is brewing in his head.

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Dinesh-DSouza-America

At a time when the authenticity of Selma and American Sniper are being debated thoroughly, it’s hard to imagine any movie that could be good enough to consider for a grade school curriculum. Not as something a lone teacher chooses to show students (the best example of my experience I can recall is seeing Witness in a class while learning about the Amish) but as mandatory viewing for all students. Maybe a documentary could work, right? A lot of them even depend on sales of copies intended for educational showings. Well, even documentaries are regularly scrutinized for not being balanced and truthful enough — as they should be, because docs aren’t necessarily supposed to be all facts and figures without an artistic perspective. One nonfiction film in particular that is far from embraced and accepted as educational material is Dinesh D’Souza‘s America: Imagine a World Without Her. Yet according to The Washington Post, there’s a chance a condensed cut of the doc could serve as a teaching tool in Florida schools to counter all the “lies” Senator Alan Hays claims kids are currently learning there. He introduced a “Patriotic Film Screening” bill in November that would make it mandatory for 8th and 11th graders. Never mind the politics of the film. As I addressed in my review, it’s a bad doc regardless of its right-wing interests and in spite of starting out with good intentions. What I wonder is if movies should be utilized alongside textbooks anyway. 

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LucasFilm

Here’s a difficult revelation for those of us who grew up trusting in George Lucas, regardless of what we think of the Star Wars prequels: the franchise’s creator had ideas plotted out for Episode VII and beyond, but Disney scrapped them all for their upcoming trilogy. In an interview with Cinema Blend to promote Strange Magic, Lucas states that he sold the sequel outlines along with Lucasfilm and the rights to all things Star Wars, and “[Disney] came up to the decision that they didn’t really want to do those. So they made up their own.” On the one hand, maybe they were bad, as in focused on trade agreements or something similarly convoluted. But on the other hand, Lucas devised the Star Wars universe to such an amazing degree back in the beginning that there’s never been anything comparable in terms of movie world-building. Disney already scrapped the expanded universe, and here we have proof that the new guard on the franchise has also dismissed the vision of its originator. Its god, if you will. And that could result in a cracked foundation for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the rest. 

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Female Pervert

“No testicle is safe” is my favorite phrase in the long synopsis for Female Pervert, a new feature about to premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival. “Like Lena Dunham” is my least favorite. Not because I have anything against Dunham, but her name and her show are mentioned way too much in the promotion of other women filmmakers and other movies and TV series about hip femmillennials, especially those living in the big city. Last year, on the eve of Sundance, Obvious Child was being likened to Girls, sight unseen. And Appropriate Behavior writer-director Desiree Akhavan was heavily compared to Dunham (now Akhavan is actually a cast member on Girls for the new season). There was also Fort Tilden, which debuted at SXSW, easily looked at as a Girls wannabe. For some it can in fact be a positive selling point, but for many others it can be a negative. Female Pervert is the latest from Jiyoung Lee, an up-and-coming Atlanta-based filmmaker who does happen to be female, and the movie does happen to be about a young woman in the city (Jennifer Kim, who also had a small part in Obvious Child), and maybe its focus on sexual perversion has something in common with bits of Girls but it also just looks like an awkward comedy that could very well be its own thing. Does Girls have a scene involving a dildo and a theremin? I don’t think so. Female Pervert seems a lot less real, but not necessarily in a bad way. […]

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Until recently, my reason for paying for Amazon Prime was merely about being able to get diapers in two days without having to leave the house. The streaming service attached to that two-day-shipping deal was also good for my kid’s Dora the Explorer addiction, but that’s about it. Then Transparent came along and gave me something to watch “free” on Amazon Instant Video, too. As for movies, though, it’s never been of interest, especially since it hardly ever seems to have anything that Netflix doesn’t also have (by the way, they’ve noticed the concern enough to have a page for “Not on Netflix” offerings, including Under the Skin and Cheap Thrills), and anyway Netflix is a whole lot easier to watch on a mobile device or tablet. Amazon Studios is likely to develop more original series as good as Transparent or good enough, and given that they’ve already secured Woody Allen for his first episodic endeavor, they obviously have some money to throw at some interesting creative talents. But still, what about movies? Well, after recently hiring indie film legend Ted Hope, producer of such titles as The Brothers McMullen, The Ice Storm, American Splendor, Adventureland and Martha Marcy May Marlene, the online conglomerate is entering the big leagues by producing and acquiring about a dozen features per year under the banner Amazon Original Movies. Presumably, as it makes sense, the acquisition side will kick off at the Sundance Film Festival, which begins this week.

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Guardians of the Galaxy

If you’re hoping we’re here to tell you that a new Howard the Duck movie is in the works, I’m sorry to say that’s not the case. And if you’re suddenly spoiled by that immediate revelation that Howard the Duck appears in the post-credits sequence of Guardians of the Galaxy, I’m not that sorry because I don’t know why else you clicked on a post about a spin-off to the most popular movie of last year. Anyway, here’s the deal: Howard the Duck has a new comic book series from Marvel, and the second issue is going to explain how the character (voiced by Seth Green) wound up sharing that drink with The Collector (Benicio del Toro). That makes it more of a prequel or sidequel or something other than a sequel, but the latter terminology is what Marvel is going with in this description of “Howard the Duck” #2, via The Hollywood Reporter: “Howard’s first big case has taken him across the universe and landed him in the clutches of The Collector! But he’s not alone as the very popular Rocket Raccoon is a prisoner as well! Have you ever seen a comic book sequel to a post-credits scene in a movie? Well, you will now!”

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Emily-Blunt-in-Into-The-Woods

I really enjoyed Snow White and the Huntsman. But then, I’ve never had any problems with Kristen Stewart as an actress, and also the production design of that world is a fantastic distraction from any faults the movie has anyway. That admitted, I haven’t been terribly excited for the sequel, which is simply titled The Huntsman and surprisingly still a thing in spite of not involving the main character of Snow White (Stewart) nor the original director (Rupert Sanders). Moving forward on what’s basically become a spin-off more than a straight-up follow-up makes Universal seem desperate for franchises even if they lose their primary element. It’s like Disney doing Frozen 2 but centered solely on Kristoff. Except with a property that nobody really cares that much about. Speaking of Frozen, The Huntsman has a new addition that gives it something to start getting excited for. According to The Wrap, Into the Woods star (and newly minted Critics Choice Award for Best Actress in an Action Movie winner) Emily Blunt will return to the land of fairy tales to play The Snow Queen, a villain who is clearly modeled after the same Hans Christian Andersen story that fuels Disney’s hugely popular 2013 animated feature. She’s also the sister of Ravenna (played by Charlize Theron in the first movie) — and therefore I guess also of Finn (Sam Spruell) — and seeks revenge for that other evil queen’s death. Meanwhile, Eric the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) rises to front and center for a plot that has him searching for Ravenna’s stolen magic mirror.

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Rose Byrne in The Turning

It shouldn’t be difficult to see a movie that’s been made, is available, has received almost unanimous praise and involves popular movie stars, including Cate Blanchett and Rose Byrne onscreen and Mia Wasikowska behind the camera.  The Turning probably just feels like it’s taking forever to come out, but even though the first trailer debuted in 2013, it’s merely been taking the long road through the international film festival scene. It hasn’t been sitting on a shelf or anything like that. Now this beautiful-looking Australian production is about to open in the UK and Ireland next month, and a slightly new trailer is online, mostly different in its positive pull quotes — because there’s enough favor for substitutions. What about a US release? Main Street Films are set to distribute the anthology film sometime this year, though it’s surely a difficult venture since the thing is three hours long in its original version. The British and Irish release is cut down to 107 minutes and only features 10 of the 17 short films produced for the initial collection, almost the entire lot being adaptations of stories by Tim Winton (one is an animated take on a T.S. Eliot poem that prefaces Winton’s book). And previously, an Australian cut for TV was brought down to 90 minutes and eight shorts. However, the Main Street Films site lists all 17 titles, and I hope that means that when the movie does make a return to the States (it played the Seattle International Film Festival, complete), it will be the full version.

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Nightmare Before Christmas Poem

If you like watching free movies online, you’re probably already a fan of Open Culture. More than film, the site has been curated with education in mind — audiobooks, online courses, curiosities. Its movies are free not because they’re pirated, but because they are in the public domain or directly designed to be free/educational. If you’re not already a fan of Open Culture, you should become one as soon as possible because, according to Torrent Freak, the MPAA has submitted a takedown notice for Open Culture to Google. To be fair, that probably won’t result in anything happening, but to understand why it’s strange, you have to realize that Open Culture vets its offerings carefully and, although they often write brief information about the movies, the majority of what they feature is all on YouTube. Thus, if the MPAA wants Open Culture shut down due to copyright infringement, they’d also need to slap YouTube on the wrist. Except they can’t, because the movies are all legally shared. It’s also quite possible that this request is part of some automated mistake that red flagged “/freemoviesonline,” so it’s not a cause for alarm quite yet — except to say that the MPAA should be more conscientious of what they’re submitting for review. As of posting time, a request for a quote from the MPAA has gone unanswered.

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JLaw in Catching Fire

In the fall of 2003, James Cameron filmed the record-breaking “no limits” free dive of Pipin Ferreras, which was a special event commemorating the death of Ferreras’s wife, Audrey Mestre. A year earlier, she drowned attempting the same feat of reaching a depth of 170 meters (557.7 feet) while holding her breath. During the press conference for the 2003 dive, Cameron confirmed earlier reports from that summer that he would be making a movie about the couple, and it would wind up being based on Ferreras’s 2004 memoir, “The Dive: A Story of Love and Obsession.” More than a decade later, Cameron has been focusing his directorial interests on the Avatar movies, but he’s continued developing the project with other filmmakers coming on board to take the helm. Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) became attached back in 2012, and now Francis Lawrence is the latest substitution, according to The Wrap. He also has an actress joining him for the role of the late diver: his Hunger Games leading lady, Jennifer Lawrence. Apparently she has a strong desire to work with Cameron. 

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Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson in CAPTAIN AMERICA THE WINTER SOLDIER

There goes my theory about Black Widow dying in Avengers: Age of Ultron that I pulled out of my ass last year. The character was confirmed in a recent interview with directors Joe and Anthony Russo to be back for Captain America: Civil War, which begins filming soon. Technically Anthony just said they’ll be joined by actress Scarlett Johansson for the shoot, so maybe she’ll be playing the Avenger’s clone or twin or a new character for which she changes her look. He specifies that Chris Evans is returning as Captain America and that the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan, unnamed by Anthony) will be back and that Robert Downey Jr. is on board as Iron Man. He never specifically says Black Widow. Make of that what you will, theorizers. I’m kidding, of course, about Johansson playing another character. Of course she’s playing Black Widow again, and of course she’s the logical other Avengers to return since she was the co-lead (sadly not titularly) in the last Captain America movie, which was also directed by the Russo brothers. With the confirmation, though, we’re now spoiled about her surviving the upcoming Avengers sequel and, more significantly, we’re seeing this next Captain America movie seeming more and more like a full-on Avengers installment. How many Avengers does it take to make it an Avengers movie, anyway? Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) is supposed to be in Civil War, too, albeit not likely as a member of The Avengers even by the end.

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What We Do In the Shadows

One of our favorite undistributed movies of 2014 needs help getting distributed in 2015. What We Do in the Shadows, which had us rolling in the aisles at Sundance and SXSW, is set to open on February 13th, but so far the release is limited to New York City and Los Angeles. So, writers/directors/stars of this hilarious vampire mockumentary Jemaine Clement and Taiki Waititi (Flight of the Conchords; Eagle vs. Shark) have launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter in order to help finance distribution to other locations around the US — 70 cities to be exact. The goal is $400k, and that’s apparently mostly to cover promotional materials like posters and publicity. Unlike the current Kickstarter campaign of David Cross to get his new movie in more theaters, this one doesn’t seem to be covering theatrical bookings to the point that box office ticket sales aren’t still a necessity. Surprisingly, none of the pledge levels will get you a ticket to the movie (well, there are tickets to special screenings) or a link to stream it (update: they’ve added a $30 pledge level with an online screener reward!). Instead, your contribution allows you the possibility of seeing What We Do in the Shadows in a movie theater along with swag perks like copies of the screenplay, t-shirts and, at the higher levels, meet and greets and personal messages from Clement and Waititi. There are also signed DVDs of the comedy — which the Kickstarter refers to as an actual documentary — due upon its […]

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SELMA-e1415826982114

This year’s Oscar nominations have left a bunch of movie fans disappointed. Why isn’t The Lego Movie up for Best Animated Feature? Why isn’t Jake Gyllenhaal up for Best Actor for Nightcrawler? Where’s Jennifer Aniston‘s nomination for Cake? Why isn’t A Most Violent Year represented anywhere? How were Life Itself, The Overnighters and Jodorowsky’s Dune all excluded from the Best Documentary race? Why was Selma‘s Ava DuVernay robbed of becoming the first African-American woman nominated in the Best Director category? I’ve heard all the complaints about what’s missing from this year’s crop of contenders, and I too am pretty surprised by the lot of them. Not just because some of them deserved the recognition, but because they’ve already received honors elsewhere. One of these elsewheres is the Critics Choice Awards, the ceremony of which just so happens to be tonight. And you can watch them live on TV — A&E at 9pm ET — to appreciate that, hey, film critics do matter. We’re actually better than the Hollywood elite, as it turns out. You see, the nominees for the Critics Choice Awards include The Lego Movie for Best Animated Feature and Jake Gyllenhaal for Best Actor (and Nightcrawler is up for Best Picture) and Jennifer Aniston for Best Actress. Also, A Most Violent Year is represented at least once with Jessica Chastain up for Best Supporting Actress, Life Itself, The Overnighters and Jodorowsky’s Dune are all in contention for Best Documentary and, most importantly, Ava DuVernay is nominated for Best Director. Additional nominees I’m happy about, particularly as a new member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association who participated in […]

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Focus Features

The fine folks at Focus Features, feeling generous after The Boxtrolls brought in a well-deserved Oscar nomination this morning, have thrown some swag our way. We haven’t done a contest or giveaway in a while, but we all really like this movie so we’ve decided that we’d like some of our readers to be able to see it, as well. All you have to do is jump down into our comments section and caption the above photo. Our editorial staff will then pick our three (3) favorite captions and send each winner a copy of the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. It’s your chance to show off how clever you can be and to win a free copy of one of the year’s best-crafted films.

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MTY Productions

It’s easy to overlook the Slamdance Film Festival while in Park City attending Sundance. But year after year, the smaller event up the hill increasingly proves its programming is worth paying attention to. Last year, Slamdance gave us the odd, ethically complicated documentary Kung Fu Elliot, which became a bit of a cult favorite and wound up at Fantastic Fest in the fall. My sudden most-anticipated selection from the 2015 Slamdance program is sure to head to Austin later this year, too. It’s called Bloodsucking Bastards, and I don’t think there’s any better way of describing its aesthetic than Flickchart’s comparison of “Office Space meets Shaun of the Dead.” Only instead of zombies, the heroes here have to deal with vampires. The metaphorical concept has to do with how working at an office is “soul-killing,” as the synopsis puts it. Not that such a layer of meaning matters, because I don’t think this will be on the level of satirical brilliance of Edgar Wright’s zom-rom-com, but I’m just curbing my expectations for now on something by people I’m unfamiliar with, such as director Brian James O’Connell. Honestly, before seeing Shaun of the Dead back in 2004, I would have thought it looked cool but not necessarily like a contender for one of the best films of the year, let alone decade. Meanwhile, there are a surprising amount of great vampire comedies lately, between What We Do in the Shadows and Only Lovers Left Alive, so eventually something’s gotta disappoint. Hopefully it’s […]

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Tom-Cruise-Dumbfounded-in-Edge-of-Tomorrow

Tom Cruise as a pilot in the 1980s? While we wait forever for Top Gun 2, perhaps a movie in development called Mena will quench our need for speed. Or maybe speed is not the appropriate drug to go with for this project, which will see Cruise playing a real-life cocaine trafficker and gun runner named Barry Seal if the talks reported by Deadline go through with success. Previously, Ron Howard was set to direct the movie, but while it’s still housed at his Imagine Entertainment, the job is up for grabs and the likely hire is Doug Liman. That would make this an Edge of Tomorrow reunion, albeit one that doesn’t promise any of the laughs and sci-fi spectacle we got with that awesome 2014 action flick. Unlike this week’s other re-team announcement for the Gone Girl gang to remake Strangers on a Train, this one is not about a collaboration for more of the same.

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John Krasinski

John Krasinski could wind up one of those actors who isn’t made for the movies. Whether it’s because he’s got a look more suited for television or that we’ll never stop seeing him as Jim Halpert from The Office or that he simply can’t lock down the right breakthrough role on the big screen, maybe he should just let his wife be the movie star (one who had a great 2014, by the way) and he can stick to being famous on the small screen, where his facial expressions get the proper attention in perpetual close-up. Or, maybe he just needs more time, like his UK Office counterpart, Martin Freeman, who just needed Peter Jackson to cast him as the lead in The Hobbit movies for a boost of cinematic notoriety (of course, Freeman’s most notable gigs of late are on TV: Fargo and Sherlock). And perhaps Michael Bay can be Krasinski’s Peter Jackson. Bay is currently set to direct 13 Hours, a serious yet action-oriented movie about the 2012 terrorist attack against Americans in Benghazi, Libya, and Variety reports that Krasinski is in talks for one of the lead parts after apparently blowing the Transformers director away in an audition. He’d play a real-life Navy SEAL, which these days seems to be a good luck charm for comedy actors looking to build a stronger resume, whether in a primary position like Bradley Cooper in American Sniper or Chris Pratt in a minor role in Zero Dark Thirty. But this is still a Michael Bay movie, reminding us more of Pearl Harbor, which also […]

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