Movie News

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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The Emperor

This is dream team stuff, people. The Wrap reports that actress/writer/director Lake Bell has been tapped to direct the big screen adaptation of Claire Messud‘s Man Booker Prize listed bestselling novel “The Emperor’s Children.” Bell will direct from Noah Baumbach‘s script, which has basically just been sitting around for whole years waiting for someone to make it into a real movie. Set in New York City just before and after 9/11, the novel centers on a trio of Brown University pals (who maybe don’t like each other as much as they should) who are just trying to make their way (often, their very misguided way) around life in the big city. The events of 9/11 change that, of course, and the novel is an unsentimental look at how we experience tragedy, especially the wide-ranging and extremely unexpected kind (as the pages tick by and the days move forward and the inevitability of what will soon happens sets in, phew, well, it gets pretty damn heavy). It’s just great stuff. Chatter about a big screen adaptation of Messud’s beloved novel has gone around since 2006, when the book first hit shelves. The last we heard — way back in 2011! — was that Crazy Heart director Scott Cooper was going to take on the project (using Baumbach’s script), though that obviously didn’t pan out. Before that, Ron Howard was set to direct (also from Baumbach’s script). A hefty number of big names have been rumored to star in the film, including Keira Knightley, Eric Bana, Richard Gere, Michelle Williams, […]

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Girls Season 3

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Richard Pryor Biopic

Okay, this isn’t normally the way we do things. An actor gets cast in a role, and we hear about it from some trade magazine of glamorous and shining repute. But not this time. Lee Daniels‘ Richard Pryor biopic looks to have just cast its lead, and we’re hearing the first news…on Twitter. But it’s Lee Daniels’ Twitter, so we’ll take that as slightly more legitimate than most. Here’s the fateful tweet in question: Get ready y’all- #MikeEpps as #RichardPryorpic.twitter.com/0sothu7yVB — lee daniels (@leedanielsent) August 24, 2014 I think it’s safe to assume that, were Stephen Spielberg to tweet “Get ready y’all- #Ryan Reynolds, #RyanGosling and #RyanSeacrest in #SavingPrivateRyan2,” we’d be inclined to believe him. If Saving Private Ryan 2 was real. And probably if he didn’t use the words “Get ready y’all,” which probably mean Lee Daniels has gotten a hold of Spielberg’s Twitter password.

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Full House

If you’ve already exhausted your syndicated TV options — heavy on the Friends, light on the Family Matters, some Seinfeld thrown in for good measure — we’ve got the throwback news you’re apparently pretty hungry for. New Full House. No, really. And, no, it’s not suddenly 1997, so stop shaking your calendar (and making that joke). TV Guide reports that “Warner Bros. TV is mulling a new take on Full House, with some of the original cast intact.” WHAT. Well, it turns out that Full House continues to perform exceptionally well on the syndicated market (it does seem to be on all the time) and that measurable audience interest, combined with the actual cast’s apparent desire to come back from some more family-friendly hijinks, means that little dollar signs are positively dancing in the heads of the Warner Bros. brass. Honestly, who could possibly blame them?

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Chris Hemsworth as Shirtless Thor

Sometimes it’s scary how much people wind up being just like their parents. They try to fight it, but there they are, 30-something years later, dragging their own kids in the trusty family car down the same winding roads that they once had to travel on some wacky adventure. You’d think Rusty Griswold would have learned some lessons back in the ’80s after just a few failed family bonding attempts, but the long-gestating reboot of National Lampoon’s Vacation is still underway, with a couple new faces now added to the cast, according to The Hollywood Reporter: Chris Hemsworth and Charlie Day. In the new incarnation of Vacation, written and directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein, Rusty (Ed Helms) is all grown up and taking his own family (including wife Christina Applegate) on a whirlwind road trip that way or may not have an end goal of visiting Walley World. You think that place is still open? While the details of Griswold 2.0’s grand plans are still under wraps, the whole family will play at least some part in the fun and frustration. Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo are set to have cameos as the original Mr. and Mrs. Griswold (Does Clark have anything to do with the terrible idea of going on a road trip again?) and sister Audrey will play some role to the main story, though that part has yet to be cast.

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Ben Affleck in GONE GIRL

We already know that David Fincher‘s Gone Girl will be slightly different than author Gillian Flynn‘s original novel — at least, different when it comes to some third act tweaks — but that doesn’t mean that the filmmaker and writer have abandoned all the stuff that made the bestelling tale of a missing wife (Rosamund Pike) and her maybe-guilty husband (Ben Affleck) so good. That would be, in simple terms, really stupid. Most of our looks at the film so far — and there have been plenty, thanks to two juicy trailers — have focused on the film’s basic premise, which sounds like an obvious thing to do, but one that doesn’t exactly reflect the twisting and twisted nature of Flynn’s book. Yes, Amy Elliott Dunne (Pike) is missing, but no, this isn’t a film about a husband (Affleck) who offs his wife and tries to get away with it (and, no, that’s really not a spoiler). The latest trailer for the film finally starts layering on the creepy, weird mystery that starts to seep through in Flynn’s novel somewhere around the hundred page mark, and it just doesn’t let up. Basically, for people who loved the book, this is catnip (and assurance that the final film won’t be too far off the mark from the original). Let’s break it down.

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Paramount Pictures

If there’s anything that HBO has figured out this year, it’s that True Detective‘s success means that audiences are more than willing to sit down for an hour of creepiness, darkness, peculiar monologues and mysteries upon mysteries. So it’s fitting that a series based on Shutter Island, the 2010 psychological thriller from Martin Scorsese that pitted Leonardo DiCaprio against the staff of a rundown mental institution, and ultimately his own head, is coming to the network. Tentatively titled Ashecliffe, as in the name of the mental facility located right on scenic Shutter Island (You’ll never want to leave), HBO and Paramount Television have teamed up to bring the adaptation to life, with Scorsese actually set to direct the pilot and Dennis Lehane, the author of the novel that inspired the film, writing the script, and DiCaprio one of many executive producers. The series is set in the years before Shutter Island takes place, and will explore the past of the hospital. As if the current state of the institution (in 1954, as the film was set) wasn’t corrupt and decrepit enough, it’s clear that before US Marshal Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) even stepped foot on that disgusting soil decades of corruption were already underway.

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Dreamworks

Back in 2002, an unsuspecting horror movie ruined the lives of pretty much anyone who mistakenly thought they were just in for a fun time with friends at the theater only to instead develop lifelong phobias of backyard wells, VHS tapes, staticky televisions, girls with untrimmed bangs and being told you have to wait for anything for seven days. The Ring, Gore Verbinski’s exercise in seeing exactly how long it would take before he could convince Naomi Watts to punch a little girl in the face, is now a terrifying horror classic. It was followed in 2005 with a still scary, but not as fetal position-inducing second film from Hideo Nakata — who actually helmed the 1998 scare-fest Ringu, the nightmarish inspiration for the American films as well as a handful of other sequels and spin-offs. Now, almost 10 years after the last victim popped that unmarked video tape into their VCR, the third American installment is going to drag itself out of the television and wreak havoc on another journalist who’s just trying to do her job by figuring out why all these local kids are melting and molding into strange shapes after watching a mysterious old film. Dubbed The Ring 3D — because the only thing more horrifying than watching Samara throw herself at people full force and steal their souls is feeling like she’s doing it to you — the film is set to be written by Oscar-winning scribe Akiva Goldsman. Now that’s scary.

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