Movie News

Jeremy Renner in The Bourne Legacy

Two franchises starring Jeremy Renner are apparently going in opposite directions regarding what they want to do with the actor. For The Avengers, Renner is likely to never get a solo installment with his Marvel character, Hawkeye. He’s going to just be one of the ensemble in the big Avengers-title crossover blockbusters, and maybe he’ll show up on a future episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (if my guess about his recent Twitter tease is correct) or possibly a one-off short film at the very least. Then there’s the Bourne franchise, which he temporarily took over from Matt Damon until Damon announced his return for another sequel. We kept hearing that Renner’s character from the spin-off The Bourne Legacy would be in more movies, but once Damon’s next installment became a reality there was more assumption that the two stars would wind up sharing the screen in a crossover. “We don’t have plans for that,” producer Frank Marshall told Collider this week. “They’re on separate tracks.” He also said he never says never and “you never know,” but at the moment the idea remains that Damon has his Jason Bourne movies and Renner has his Aaron Cross movies and probably never the twain shall meet. That shouldn’t be news worthy of its own post, but it is because it’s so shockingly against the grain of Hollywood right now. Everyone else is so intent on developing Marvel-like mega-franchises that it’s hard to believe that not only will the Bourne boys not team up or battle or both but that […]

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zombies vs robots

It’s been four years since we first heard that Michael Bay and Platinum Dunes were adapting the comic book “Zombies vs. Robots.” It seemed like a perfect combination for a studio that’s given us mostly horror remakes and the director of the Transformers movies. Finally, it’s now moving forward with an Oscar-nominated director: Andrew Adamson. His prestige comes in the form of the Academy’s recognition of Shrek 2, which he helmed with Kelly Asbury and Conrad Vernon (though Adamson was the only one credited for the honor), as one of the best animated features of 2004. He also co-directed the first Shrek, with Vicky Jenson, which won the first Oscar for Best Animated Feature, but that honor and statuette went only to producer Aron Warner. Since the sequel, damson has made two Chronicles of Narnia movies, the Cirque du Soleil film World’s Away and the New Zealand war drama called Mr. Pip, which released quietly in the US last fall. In addition to the news of the directorial hire, which comes via Variety, there’s also word that the movie is no longer called “Zombies vs. Robots.” Never mind that that’s the name of the property it’s based on. And really never mind that it’s such a perfect, straight-to-the-point title that fits with a modern trend for simplistically descriptive titles for the most high concept releases. So, what is the new title? Inherit the Earth. Yep, instead of something that tells us plainly that the movie is about zombies fighting robots, they’re going with something […]

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The Voices Movie 2015

What with a new baby, casting news for Deadpool and now a trailer for The Voices, it’s a big week for Ryan Reynolds. At least bigger than he’s had in pop culture for a while. We’ve barely written about the guy since we shared a first look at The Voices back in 2013. We missed the movie when it debuted at Sundance last year, and that’s too bad because it looks like a lot of dark, twisted fun — good enough to put it on our list of most anticipated releases of this year. Reynolds plays a factory worker who talks to his pets, and the dog and cat talk back (both voiced by Reynolds). At least in his mind. And in his mind they tell him to kill his girlfriend (Gemma Arterton), and then her decapitated head starts talking to him, too. Maybe that’s a spoiler, but it’s a huge part of the new trailer and could even be seen in that early promotional image (seen also above), so I guess the filmmakers aren’t concerned about us knowing that much.

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Brand

The first wave of titles screening at the 2015 South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival were announced today, and the batch has us very excited indeed. First of all, the event will open with the latest documentary from Ondi Timoner, who directed the masterpieces Dig! and We Live in Public. This one is called BRAND: A Second Coming, and it’s about comedian Russell Brand‘s rebirth as a “self-proclaimed revolutionary” following a bout with addiction and his rise to fame. Even if you don’t care for her subject, Timoner is the kind of filmmaker who can keep you intrigued anyway. Her past few films have also dealt with big, fascinating egos, from hot shit rocker Anton Newcombe to exhibitionist Internet pioneer Josh Harris to “skeptical environmentalist” Bjorn Lomborg. Timoner returns to SXSW following last year’s debut of her short Obey the Artist, on Shepard Fairey. Among the fiction selections is one of our most anticipated movies of 2015 (#3 to be exact): Alex Garland‘s Ex Machina, which stars Oscar Isaac as a programmer testing out a new female AI system. It actually opens in the UK later this month and rolls out to other countries in Europe plus New Zealand ahead of its arrival in Austin, so this will be the North American premiere. We’ll take it. There’s also Michael Showalter‘s follow-up to his underrated 2005 comedy The Baxter. Titled Hello, My Name is Doris, it’s co-written by Laura Terruso based on her short Doris & The Intern (watch it here) and […]

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Election

More than 15 years ago, Reese Witherspoon gave her first really impressive performance as an ambitious, overachieving high school student in the indie comedy Election. She’d shown talent before then, but this was the moment we knew she would grow as an actress as she aged further into adulthood (she was 22 at the time, playing a teenager). Later came Legally Blonde and cemented her as a movie star, one who would go on to additional rom-com fluff like Sweet Home Alabama while only occasionally mixing in more substantial fare — enough to win an Oscar in 2005 for Walk the Line, at least. Now she appears to be focused on the latter in what some have called a career resurrection or (to borrow an idea from her Mud co-star) “Reese-enaissance” or (via the Fighting in the War Room podcast) “Reese-urgence.” And with this new era comes a reunion with her Election director, Alexander Payne. According to Deadline, Witherspoon, who is likely to earn an Oscar nomination for Wild later this month (she’s already up for the Golden Globe and SAG Award), is set to join Matt Damon in Downsizing, a movie also reuniting her and Payne with screenwriter Jim Taylor. He’d collaborated with the director on every one of his movies from Citizen Ruth in 1996 to Sideways in 2004, the latter winning them both an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, but he’s been absent from Payne’s last few (Downsizing has been in development for a long time, so they likely […]

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Michael Keaton in Birdman

It’s no surprise that Michael Keaton is in demand now more than ever. He’s hot off the acclaimed and award-garnering Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), for which he’s a likely contender for the Oscar for Best Actor (he’s already nominated for a Golden Globe and a SAG Award). Hollywood typically comes calling when actors and actresses receive big honors, not necessarily because of the talent being recognized but because these people are being talked about. Buzz for Keaton is especially heavy because Birdman has been labeled a comeback of sorts. But it’s only really a comeback in terms of prestige, not presence. Last year alone he was also in the RoboCop remake and Need for Speed. Had the former been a big hit, that could have technically been his comeback. Even though so was The Other Guy five yeas ago. News that Keaton is now joining the cast of Kong: Skull Island, therefore, is partly because of his current buzz but it also doesn’t seem that much different than a part he would have been offered without the plume of Birdman. According to The Wrap’s Linda Ge, the actor has officially closed the deal for the gig, joining Tom Hiddleston and J.K. Simmons for director Jordan Vogt-Roberts. That’s some good company, performers and a filmmaker we love and expect will at least have fun with the material. What could just be a junky big budget B movie spin-off set in King Kong’s hometown is increasingly something worth getting […]

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Back To Life Productions, LLC

It’s typically frustrating when acclaimed documentary filmmakers make the leap to fiction. After all, not everyone can mix up the real and make believe as well as Werner Herzog. Even Errol Morris, Joe Berlinger and Barbara Kopple had trouble making the switch. Plus, we need those great documentarians to make more great documentaries. But, alas, they need to make some money, too. I like David Gelb a lot, and I love his breakthrough, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, so I’m reserving most of my judgment of his upcoming horror film, The Lazarus Effect, until I see it. And even if it’s as bad as it looks, I’ll still be hopeful that the filmmaker made enough cash to deliver another nonfiction gem. The Lazarus Effect, which shouldn’t be itself confused for a doc from a few years ago about HIV and AIDS in Africa, seems to be a mix of Pet Sematary and Luc Besson’s Lucy. The former because it’s about a team of scientists dumb enough to be working on a way to bring dead animals back to life (have they no “Frankenstein” or any of its descendants in their world?) and the latter because when they resurrect their fallen friend (Olivia Wilde) she has increased neural activity and has superpowers stemming from her mind. At least, that’s what I’m getting from the movie’s trailer, which can be seen below. 

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The LEGO Movie

Not everyone is looking forward to tons of LEGO Movie sequels, but as long as Phil Lord and Chris Miller are involved we can expect that they are going to be awesome. We just can’t have any doubt with those guys, not after their magical way of turning worrisome projects like Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street and yes The LEGO Movie into brilliant and popular successes. They even showed us with 22 Jump Street that doing sequels isn’t any less creatively bankrupt than doing stuff based on classic children’s books, so-so TV dramas and toy brands. Sure, they’re eventually going to fall from their pedestal like Babaloo Mandel and Lowell Ganz did in the mid ’90s (sorry for the obscure comparison, but they were the first screenwriting duo I felt I could forever depend on, in my youth). For now, though, we can still be very excited about The LEGO Movie 2, which they’re writing but not directing. And that means that nothing should make us skeptical, no matter what kinds of updates we receive between now and its May 25, 2018, release date. Note: only read on if you don’t care about SPOILERS concerning the ending of the first LEGO Movie.

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12 monkeys

A lot of TV series based on movies are weak versions of their source material, and thankfully many of them disappear quickly and have no damaging effects. Once in a blue moon something like M*A*S*H or the second iteration of Parenthood comes along and is a good enough piece of pop culture in its own right. I’ve been expecting Syfy’s 12 Monkeys show to be the former, but after checking out the first nine minutes ahead of next week’s debut, I’m thinking it could at least be worth watching if not also another classic. Let it be known that I’m a humongous 12 Monkeys fan. It’s one of only a couple movies I ever went back and re-watched on the big screen immediately (as in very next showing, didn’t even leave my seat) following my first viewing. It works perfectly in the 127-minute time frame. But so does the 28-minute La Jetee, Chris Marker’s film that inspired Terry Gilliam’s feature. Maybe a continual series is merely the next step and can work just as well if done right. So far I’m chalking up the show’s worth to star Aaron Stanford, who takes over the Bruce Willis role of time traveler James Cole. He’s always been great, and I hope this utilizes his talents better than the X-Men movies franchise has (I haven’t seen him in his previous TV series based on a movie, Nikita). And Amanda Schull, in the part of Dr. Cassandra Reilly (played by Madeleine Stowe on the big screen), seems […]

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Thelma and Louise

Geena Davis wants to put you in pictures. The Academy Award-winning actress has just launched her very own film festival – a daunting enough prospect on its own – with a specific aim: to help support women and diversity in film. The first annual Bentonville Film Festival will arrive in Bentonville, Arkansas (population: 40, 167) later this year, and Davis and her myriad sponsors (from Wal-Mart to Coca-Cola, AMC to Kraft, which seems to ensure some interesting gift bags and potentially comfy theater locations) are aiming pretty damn high with their new endeavor. Fortunately, it sounds like Davis and company kind of have everything they need to back it up – which is exactly why Davis is the perfect person to do this. Davis isn’t just a name brand, a well-respected talent, and one half of Thelma and Louise (RIP forever, gals), the actress has long been dedicated to issues of gender diversity in film, a passion that led her to start the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount St. Mary’s College back in 2007. Davis serves as both the founder and chair of the institute, which is billed as “the only research-based organization working with media and entertainment companies to engage, educate and influence the need for gender balance, reducing stereotyping and creating a diverse and inclusive range of female characters for entertainment targeting children 11 and under.” And, let’s be honest, it doesn’t hurt that Bentonville will open with the kind of corporate sponsorship and […]

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Hits

Back in 2006, David Cross was the first investor in Kickstarter. Almost a decade later, he’s gone to the crowdsourcing service for what is apparently his first project on the site (he also seems to have only just recently backed another project for the first time, too). The comedian and actor and now filmmaker is seeking money for his directorial debut, Hits. The movie premiered a year ago at the Sundance Film Festival and will finally hit theaters next month. While normally a little indie comedy like his would only have a dinky release in New York and Los Angeles followed by digital distribution after a few months, he’s attempting to get a wider presence around the country so his fans all over have a chance to watch it on the big screen. The Kickstarter goal is $100k and that’s to cover for bookings in about 50 markets in a way that allows you and me to choose our price for the ticket. Inspired by past strategies of Radiohead and Louis C.K. in putting out their works, Cross has teamed with BitTorrent for this experiment, and the pay what you wish option will also be available through their BitTorrent Bundle file-sharing site. He says that Hits will also be on iTunes and other traditional platforms but those will be at the normal cost for movie rental and purchase. Of course, there is the matter of Cross depending on the fans to pay now and then also later, but there’s no requirement […]

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Ant-Man-poster-550x814

The first true teaser trailer for Marvel’s Ant-Man debuted this evening during the premiere of the same studio’s own Agent Carter TV series. In the days ahead, many of us will be poring over each frame to know exactly what we’re looking at, but for now it’s time to just watch. And listen to Michael Douglas slowly explain to Paul Rudd why he needs to take over the role of a superhero called “the Ant-Man.” Is it too late to change the name, indeed? Just kidding, I like the name and just how faux-serious this movie is sold as right up until that little joke. After that, we can re-watch and appreciate how silly it actually all is (in a good way), especially Ant-Man riding on the back of a flying ant. Watch the Ant-Man teaser after the jump.

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tj miller in silicon valley

Ryan Reynolds may have just had a baby (with wife Blake Lively), but the addition to his life that matters most is this: according to The Wrap, T.J. Miller is in talks to join the cast of Deadpool. You should know the actor for his role on HBO’s hilarious series Silicon Valley and, because we’ve recommended it plenty, the short film Successful Alcoholics, which he co-wrote. His voice will also be familiar to anyone who has seen the How to Train Your Dragon movies and Big Hero 6, in which he voices Marvel superhero “Fred” (aka Fredzilla). In the report on this casting at The Wrap, he’s recognized for having been part of three of the top-grossing movies of last year, and that would make you think he’s a bigger name than he is. Two of those movies were animated features and the third was the latest Transformers installment, where he disappointingly got killed in the first act. Yeah, I don’t care about spoiling that. It made me too angry for me to keep it in. He was its only redeeming element, briefly.

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IFC Films

In Andrew Niccol‘s Gattaca, Ethan Hawke plays a guy who just wants to travel into the sky and beyond. Now the filmmaker and actor are reunited for a third outing (Hawke is also in Niccol’s Lord of War) and this time the latter plays a guy who just wants to get back to the sky. In the new movie, titled Good Kill, he’s not going for the beyond, just wishing to return to a physical bomber jet and actual combat. In a way, that seems like beyond compared to what he’s been doing: getting “good kills” via drone with a joystick in the comfort of an air force base many miles away, on American soil. And everyday he finishes up his shift remotely blowing up stuff and people and goes home to his wife (January Jones) and kids in the Vegas suburbs. Anything but a normal mix. The premise is a worthy idea for a movie in these times, especially for how new military operations are changing what a war movie looks like, but it also seems a little simple. Enough that the new international trailer for Good Kill is already sufficiently on point in less than three minutes. There’s even an implication that Hawke’s character needs more physicality of a sexual nature than he’s getting in his domestic life, too. It could still be very interesting, though, given Niccol’s past dealings with sci-fi situations that relate to our current technologies or scientific pursuits. Drone warfare has been going on for a while yet still […]

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Accidental Love

Isn’t it so nice to see troubled productions finally come into existence? Whether it’s hearing about Terry Gilliam getting another chance with one of his projects or gazing at promotional images from a Natalie Portman Western following a cast and crew shakeup, such second chances are like hearing that a friend cleaned up and found religion. Of course, that friend seems like a whole other person now, and that can be a bit problematic for your friendship if you can’t get past that. But if you’re willing to open your mind and heart to them, everything will be hunky dory in no time. With that in mind, I invite you to attempt to go into the upcoming movie Accidental Love without prejudice. Pretend you don’t know anything about it. It looks like a lot of fun. The ensemble cast — consisting of Jessica Biel, Jake Gyllenhaal, James Marsden, Paul Reubens, Catherine Keener, James Brolin, Tracy Morgan, Bill Hader, Kirstie Alley and Beverly D’Angelo — is outstanding and its director, David O. Russell, is one of the most important American filmmakers working right now. Not that Russell’s name is anywhere to be found in the marketing of the movie. He directed a movie titled Nailed, which fell apart in the middle of production six years ago. This is what that movie, which he disowned, has become. 

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Big Game

Try to pick out the single most ridiculous thing about Big Game after watching its trailer. Is it that Samuel L. Jackson plays the President of the United States? Or that he’s thrown into some kind of crazy “Most Dangerous Game” style human-hunting contest for terrorists? Is it that he’s paired up with a kid (Onni Tommila)? Is it that this kid is Finnish and much of this action movie is in Finnish but that won’t stop American audiences who don’t normally watch foreign films to check out Samuel L. Jackson in a movie that’s basically a mix of Air Force One, Die Hard, White House Down/Olympus Has Fallen and Escape from New York, except where the main hero is a kid? (Also some might go see it thinking it’s about a big sports game.) My pick is Jim Broadbent seemingly phoning it in as a spy who himself is seemingly phoning it in. Good for that guy, getting another well-deserved paycheck. Joining Jackson and Broadbent on the more familiar side are Ted Levine, Felicity Huffman and Victor Garber, who plays the Veep to Samuel L.’s POTUS, and the movie is written and directed by Jalmari Helander, who made the ridiculous evil Santa Claus movie Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. Those of you who’ve seen that will also be recognize Tommila as one of its stars. You also might not be surprised to see that Helander is continuing to make more absurdly awesome movies obviously inspired by plots of John Carpenter movies (with […]

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Peanuts Movie

How many of you watched the Peanuts holiday specials over the last few months? For many of us, it’s an annual tradition of viewing the classic Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas shorts starring Charlie Brown and friends, but this was my first time introducing them to my son. Briefly, anyway. I quickly realized that they’re pretty damn depressing cartoons and not always entertaining for little kids. How have they been such a staple for almost half a century? At least my son liked the Snoopy and Woodstock bits in each. Maybe it’s for similar reason that Fox has been focusing on the little beagle and bird duo in their promotions for their upcoming The Peanuts Movie, which is due in November. Then again, there’s not much that’s more depressing than World War I, and so far the primary sequence shown to us in teaser trailers is Snoopy as ace pilot of his doghouse — flying in the style of a Sopwith Camel — over Paris. Sure, it’s as light a tone as Snoopy fighter plane scenes ever are without evoking any reminders of the reality of the Great War. We’ll leave it to good ol’ Charlie Brown to make his most Charlie Brown-est entrance yet in the computer-animated feature talking of how he’s not happy or in the holiday spirit because of Ebola, terrorism, war and other suffering in the world. Chuck and the other human Peanuts characters do show up in the latest teaser, Mr. Brown once again being laughed at cruelly for being […]

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The Raid 2 knife fight

Star Wars: The Force Awakens just advanced a bunch of spots on our list of most anticipated movies of 2015. All of you who were shocked to see the upcoming “Episode VII” only place at #12 instead of #1 can rest easy today. We were obviously just keeping things in perspective so that we’d have room for growth when the movie dropped its next casting bombshell. And here it is: according to Twitch, three stars of Gareth Evans’s The Raid movies have joined the ensemble in J.J. Abrams‘s Star Wars sequel. Hell yes. Those leaping into the Galaxy Far Far Away are lead ass-kicker Iko Uwais along with Yayan Ruhian (“Mad Dog” in The Raid: Redemption and “Prakoso” in The Raid 2) and Cecep Arif Rahman (“The Assassin” in The Raid 2). There’s no information on who or what they’ll be playing, but we can assume that this late in the game they’re not major characters. Chances are they’re making cameos for some sure-to-be-great action set-piece where they’re showing off their martial arts skills, maybe while wielding lightsabers.

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Scarlett Johansson in UNDER THE SKIN

Update: Scarlett Johansson has officially signed on to Ghost in the Shell, according to Variety. Original Post: Earlier this week came news of WB/DC’s Suicide Squad, and the sparkly list of celebs wanted to play various morally murky supervillains. And right afterward came an update from Deadline — yes, Tom Hardy, Will Smith and Margot Robbie are super interested in pursuing some supervillainy (save for Ryan Gosling, who’s being all finicky). But in one throwaway sentence of that Deadline piece was something even more shocking (more shocking than Will Smith playing an outright villain, if you can believe it). It seems Robbie was free to pursue Suicide Squad because her previous target, the live-action Ghost in the Shell adaptation, had ditched her to pitch woo at Scarlett Johansson.

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Josh Gad in Love and Other Drugs

Last night, millions of viewers got to know the real Roger Ebert through CNN’s TV premiere of the documentary Life Itself. Soon enough, they’ll also get a dramatic portrayal of the late film critic in Russ & Roger Go Beyond. The movie is an extended account of one part of Ebert’s life featured briefly in the doc, his co-writing of the screenplay for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Russ Meyer‘s 1970 cult classic satire/sequel to Valley of the Dolls. Last summer, Will Ferrell was announced for the co-titular role of Russ, and now Josh Gad has been named to play Roger. Hollywood Elsewhere’s Jeff Wells scooped the news from producer David Permut at an event over the weekend, but there’s nothing official yet. The Wrap reports this morning that Gad has not signed on, nor has he even read the script, which is by Emmy-winning sitcom and sketch comedy writer Chris Cluess (MADtv). Ever since development on the movie was made public, Gad has been mentioned as a proper fit for the part, along with such names as Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill, the latter actually having been the original choice for the project, according to Wells. 

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