We may be within spitting distance of this year’s Comic-Con, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t spend some time getting excited about the next next big event: this September’s Toronto International Film Festival. The festival has now unleashed the first bit of its slate, and it’s already the kind of talent-packed, big name-crammed, jaw-dropping kind of thing we’ve long come to expect from the festival. Honestly? I’m sort of already packing my bags right now, because I don’t want anything slowing down my ability to see a whole mess of these films (even excessively and embarrassingly early preparations).

This announcement includes thirteen Galas and forty-six Special Presentations — just a smidge of the festival’s full slate, really, but the one that’s the most glitzy and recognizable — which includes thirty-seven world premieres and plenty of films we’ve been waiting a long time to see. Eager to see what TIFF has to offer? After the break, take a look at every single film announced today, including twenty-three titles that already have us excited to decamp to Canada in two months.

Fantasia 2014

Fantasia 2014

Fantasia International Film Festival 2014 runs July 17 to August 6. Follow all of our coverage here.

Beth (Aubrey Plaza) is dead, and her boyfriend Zach (Dane DeHaan) is all torn up about it. Sure they were having troubles and it looked like they might be heading for a split, but now that she’s gone — as in gone gone — he’s finding it difficult to think about anything else as he sinks into his pit of despair. Hoping for company with like-minded people he takes to spending time with Beth’s equally distraught parents, but just a few days later they shut him out of their lives. Distraught and driven for similarly bereft companionship he heads to their house only to glimpse something odd through a window.

Beth is still alive.

Kind of.

She’s returned from the dead, and overcome with joyful confusion her parents are hiding her from the world. Beth’s memory isn’t all that great — she’s really stressed about a test she has tomorrow and has no idea that she’s dead — but Zach isn’t bout to turn his back on this second chance at a struggling relationship. Every couple hits some bumps in the road right? He soon discovers though that some love stories are better off dead.


FX Networks

Aw jeez, we didn’t think that FX’s hit series Fargo was really going to run for just one single season, don’t cha know, but it sure is exciting to hear that we’re getting more of the good stuff, you betcha! (End bad slang usage.) Hot on the heels of some major Emmy nominations — 18 total, the most for any FX series ever — the cable channel has renewed their beloved series, based on the Coen Brothers’ film of the same name, for ten all new episodes. And they really will be all new, thanks to a new setting, a new cast of characters, a new actual cast, and a new crime to follow. But, rest assured, this Fargo promises to still feel like both of its predecessors.

So what does the second season of the series hold for us? Well, probably plenty more winter jackets. But this time, they will be vintage winter jackets.



Welcome back to This Week In Discs!

If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon.

Discs Section: Pick of the Week

BLUE RUIN bluBlue Ruin

Dwight (Macon Blair) is a bit of a loner. He lives in his car, parked on the side of a road near a Delaware beach, and spends his days scrounging for food, collecting cans and reading. A gentle wake-up knock on his car window precedes a disturbing piece of news. The man who killed Dwight’s parents is being released from prison. Single-minded but far from focused, Dwight fills the gas tank, pops the car battery into place and makes a beeline straight into hell.

The setup here is economical, and the rest of the film follows suit, but rather than be a negative that simplicity actually elevates the film above its bigger budgeted, higher profile cousins. A Hollywood version of this tale would complicate things with unnecessary subplots, excessive exposition and time spent highlighting just how bad the bad guy and his henchmen really are. Here we stick with Dwight throughout, and the result is one of the most intimate and affecting revenge films in years. My full review.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, making of, deleted scenes, camera test]

dwayne johnson in tooth fairy

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and Walden Media, LLC.

We’re likely to get the official announcement this weekend at Comic-Con, but the cat is peeking out the bag regarding a DC Comics superhero role for Dwayne Johnson. He hinted in a recent interview with Total Film that he has finally found the character for him, and without naming names he basically revealed that character is Shazam. “Just say the word,” he not-so-cryptically said at the end of the conversation, which is a pretty good giveaway considering Shazam, aka Captain Marvel, becomes his super-powered self when a kid named Billy Batson exclaims the word “Shazam.” He also reverts to his younger self by saying it again. Johnson also noted that his secret role has the powers of Superman, and Shazam certainly has those. In fact, he was believed to be modeled after the more famous DC hero when Captain Marvel debuted in the pages of competitors Fawcett Comics.

Presumably Shazam, a movie already slated for 2016 with Peter Segal (Grudge Match) producing and possibly directing, will be a part of the Justice League mega-franchise that Warner Bros. is building (to be kicked off/continued in 2016 with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice). That could be chalked up to producers truly believing that Johnson is the opposite of kryptonite for troubled franchises — which Justice League has been before even getting off the ground. Shazam has been part of the team at times, yet he’s not one of the core JL characters that we tend to think of as being a member.

It’d be pretty cool if DC and Warners were able to launch a separate series for Shazam simultaneously to Justice League, but we all know that’s not likely. Then again, there was that other DC superhero movie starring a former athlete that came out the same year as a Batman movie. Hopefully Shazam will be a little better than Steel.

Watch Johnson giddily fumble his can of beans to Total Film’s Josh Winning below.

The Imitation Game

The Weinstein Company

Plink. Plink. Plink. Plink. Plink. What’s that? Oh, just the sound that signals that a serious, dangerous, historical trailer is coming on through (consider it on par with the “brrrrannngghhh” of setting a mood). Plink. Plink. Pllllunk.

The Imitation Game is indeed serious, dangerous, and historical — fortunately for all involved, it also looks pretty good. After years of development back and forth (remember when Leonardo DiCaprio was going to star in this?), Graham Moore‘s Black List script about the life of Alan Turing (“the father of computer science”) is finally an actual movie with a bunch of actual stars and enough street cred to push it into “hey, maybe we need to think about awards or whatever” territory. Cool beans, and maybe it will get kids interested in computer science! It’s a win-win! (Although we wonder what kind of kids will be checking out the historical Benedict Cumberbatch film this fall, but c’est la vie.) The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing, with Keira Knightley on board as his best pal/early cool coding girl Joan Clarke and Matthew Goode, Charles Dance and Mark Strong around to add some gravitas.

Ready your ears for the plinking, after the break:

Fantasia 2014

Fantasia 2014

Fantasia International Film Festival 2014 runs July 17 to August 6. Follow all of our coverage here.

Blaire (Shelley Hennig) is online chatting with her boyfriend Mitch (Moses Jacob Storm) while they wait for their other four friends to join. The couple takes a brief stab at cyber-sex before they’re interrupted by the gang, but something isn’t right with their Skype connection. A seventh person is on the call. No one knows who it is, the person isn’t speaking and nothing they do seems to get rid of it. They soon discover the mystery caller’s motive has something to do with the suicide of a girl named Laura Barnes exactly one year ago.

Once the caller starts communicating it’s with death threats, shocking revelations and the seeming control of each person’s computer. Attempts to disconnect or reach outside help are squashed, efforts to delete certain pictures or accounts are made impossible and ultimately the six friends are forced to face just how tenuous their friendships truly are as they come face to face with the guilt of past misdeeds.

Cybernatural uses a similar format to the recently released The Den, but it does so to tell a very different story. We see only what appears on Blaire’s laptop screen, and nothing else, but in those dozens of windows and tabs a tale of cruelty, failed relationships and revenge unfolds. This sounds terrible I know, but you’ll just have to trust me here. It’s a slickly made production that serves to enhance the story as things play out with visuals that are both familiar and foreign to the social media addicts and film lovers in us all.



Welcome to the final week of our 2014 Summer Box-Office Challenge!

We’ve been tallying points all summer long, and now it comes down to this. A strong man versus a smart woman. As a reminder, at the end of the contest — next Monday, July the 28th — the three top point-earners will each win a Blu-ray/DVD prize pack! First place will win ten (10) Blu-ray/DVD titles that were released throughout the summer, second place wins five (5) and third place wins two (2).

As we’ve already seen the score can shift noticeably week to week, and with one week left that means anyone within nine points of the top three spots still has a chance of winning. All of the still eligible players are listed below the break. Now let’s look at this past weekend’s results!

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes held onto #1 bringing in another $36.3 million. That’s pretty much an exact 50% drop from opening weekend and a great hold for the critically acclaimed film. Our bonus question resulted in far fewer of you guessing right as Mood Indigo‘s per theater average ($13k) beat out both Wish I Was Here ($7k) and I Origins ($7k). Keep reading to see the new player rankings and the ten who are still in the game.


Star Wars

This may come as a surprise to you (if, say, you haven’t gone online, spoken to an acquaintance or left the comfy confines of the rock you live under for several days), but another intrepid soul has claimed to have the keys to J.J. Abrams‘s mystery box. The secrets held inside? Significant story chunks from Star Wars: Episode VII.

Earlier today, we referred to this leak as “ridiculous-sounding plot details,” and that’s just about as accurate as accurate could be. But for the sake of blindly trudging into the unknown, let’s take a look at these ridiculous details anyway. Also, if any of this turns out to be legit, it will count as a SPOILER, but it’ll really only spoil the first five minutes or so. Maybe 10.

Moon Landing in 2001

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

There’s nothing like the Moon for cinema. It’s been a fascination for fiction from way before motion pictures were invented, but it’s had a very special place in the history of film. From the beginning, at least as early as 1896 when Georges Melies created a lunar-based dream for A Nightmare (watch it here), filmmakers have been portraying our planet’s natural satellite in all kinds of ways. One of the most famous movie images of all time is a silhouetted bicycle in front of a giant full moon, in E.T. The Extra Terrestrial. Even one of the Hollywood studios incorporates a crescent moon in its logo.

One of the reasons the Moon is so interesting for cinema is that for the majority of the art form it was still a relatively unknown thing. Then, 45 years ago today (or yesterday, depending on where you are in the world), man touched ground on its surface and the idea of a journey to the Moon was no longer science fiction. Well, that’s actually dependent on who you ask, as well. Immediately we had hints about the Moon landing being a hoax, or if not totally manufactured then involving some other secret situation — like Apollo 11 really being a mission to investigate crashed Transformers (watch that here). Even after we officially knew there were no Cat-Women on the Moon and that it wasn’t in fact made of cheese, films have still had fun imagining the lunar body for sci-fi and fantasy stories set in the past, present and future.

In honor of the real Moon landing, I’ve selected my seven favorite fictional landings. A few of the following movies were made prior to the summer of 1969, and a few were made since. 

Open Road Films

Open Road Films

Last year we saw Jake Gyllenhaal‘s lose a significant amount of weight for his part in Dan Gilroy‘s Nightcrawler. When the film comes out this October people will likely be talking more about Gyllenhaal’s performance than how many LBs he lost. This is the project he dropped out of Into the Woods for, and it’s easy to see why. Gilroy’s script is an intense, darkly comedic, and flawlessly structured character study. It’s also Gyllenhaal’s juiciest role to date, playing an unforgettable character unlike anything we’ve seen from the actor before.

The film largely takes place at night time in Los Angeles, where the seedy environments and protagonist, Louis Bloom (Gyllenhaal), dig right under your skin. This is an unsettling character operating in an even more unnerving world. He’s a freelance crime journalist, but calling him a journalist may be too kind; he’s basically a TMZ reporter for dead bodies.

Where the Sidewalk Ends


If you were ever a grade schooler in desperate need of clever rhymes and you had finally graduated to the point where you were just a hair too mature for the wacky words of a one Dr. Seuss, your grubby little hands likely reached for a heavy Shel Silverstein tome like “Where the Sidewalk Ends” or “A Light in the Attic.” His sprawling books of colorful poetry and beautiful accompanying illustrations (all his own) chronicled all the issues that mattered the most to children. For instance, flipping open a Silverstein book could point you to the plight of a modern day King Midas, who turns everything he touches to raspberry jello. A perfect hell! Or maybe you’d settle on the story of Melinda Mae, the girl who tried to eat an entire whale, an actually does so in the span of 80 years. That’s just silly.

Now, the man who brought so much joy to our childhoods is getting the chance to have his own story told. “A Boy Named Shel: The Life and Times of Shel Silverstein,” a biography by Lisa Rogak, is getting adapted into a biopic from writing partners Chris Shafer and Paul Vicknair (1:30 Train), under production with McG‘s Wonderland Sound and Vision.

Marvel Ant-Man Test Sneak 3

Marvel Studios

When Edgar Wright left Ant-Man, a lot of excitement for the film went out the door with him. His involvement is what made the project so appealing in the first place. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World showed the director isn’t interested in making a run-of-the-mill comic book movie, but doing something fresh, new, and its own thing. Of course, that’s not the kind of comic book movie we see often enough. Since Wright left Ant-Man over creative differences, was it a matter of Marvel balking over taking some risks? That’s what a lot of fans understandably suspect.

After seeing James Gunn‘s Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s difficult to fathom Marvel getting cold feet over taking another risk. Guardians of the Galaxy is a superhero movie with a talking raccoon, some good old-fashioned dick jokes, and, basically, more of what you’d expect from James Gunn (Slither). Guardians doesn’t feel like a project Gunn had to make compromises on, but instead got to make a movie he can call his own that happened to cost $150m. Perhaps taking chances wasn’t the problem with Ant-Man. Maybe it really was just two different visions that couldn’t see eye-to-eye.

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