Alexander Skarsgård

Tarzan

Pre-production has officially begun on the Alexander Skarsgård-led Tarzan movie from Warner Bros., set to be filmed in 3D, and coming with a swath of big names attached. Due to arrive July 1, 2016, Harry Potter vet David Yates will direct the live-action film, with a screenplay based on the writings of Tarzan creator and author Egar Rice Burroughs, whom also created the much beloved John Carter. Yates’ film will be joining Zack Snyder’s 2016 untitled Man of Steel sequel as yet another big, summer tentpole for Warner Bros. What a difference a new year makes, as April of 2013, the project was considered mothballed due to budgetary and casting issues, the most noteworthy of which was a rumored difficulty in getting Academy Award-winning actor Jamie Foxx onboard. It appears now that Foxx may be out of the equation all the same, as the current cast includes The Wolf of Wall Street star Margot Robbie as Jane, Django Unchained actor Christoph Waltz, and Samuel L. Jackson (who is not Laurence Fishburne). Jessica Chastain was also a name attached to the project last year, but like Foxx, also appears to have moved on.

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villain

Christoph Waltz is a super charismatic performer who can easily come off as being very likable, as we saw last year when he won everyone’s hearts as the second lead in Django Unchained. But the fact of the matter is, he debuted in mainstream minds so powerfully and so memorably playing an evil and disturbing Nazi in Inglorious Basterds that many seem to be typecasting him as a bad dude. Already since Basterds got everyone’s attention he’s played a ridiculous villain in The Green Hornet, a ridiculous villain in The Three Musketeers, and now there are reports that he’s being looked at to play what’s sure to be a ridiculous villain in David Yates’ upcoming Tarzan film. The story comes from Variety, who report that Waltz is currently in talks to join the film opposite Alexander Skarsgard’s title character. Seeing as there are so many dozens of “Tarzan” novels alone, not to mention all of the other versions of the character from other mediums, it’s hard to say what sort of storyline Yates and company are looking to adapt for this new Tarzan film, but early reports indicate that the character Waltz is up for would be that of a military man. Likely a smug military man, with a jerk plan of some sort.

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brit 2

Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij left a positive impression on me a few years ago at South by Southwest. Not only with Sound of My Voice, their first full-length feature film together, but also in person during the brief time I spent sitting down with them. That is a movie that raises quite a few questions, and it was obvious they had every possible answer to these questions in mind. Both on screen and off, the two filmmakers displayed between them a clear confidence and shared interests. With their second collaboration, “the eco-terrorist” thriller The East, the two came to town for a press day near their old stomping ground, Georgetown University. Marling and Batmanglij met for the first time there, and it was fitting interviewing them close to the campus after having discussed their college and city experience a few years ago in Austin. Despite having found a nice little home with Fox Searchlight and having more money to work with now, the duo remain the same, sharing a similar interest in certain themes and the type of stories they want to tell.

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The East

Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij stepped onto the indie scene in a prominent way with Sound of My Voice. The collaborators made a surprising movie that truly engaged in a conversation with its audience, asking plenty of questions and giving you the proper amount of clues to form your own answers. Their followup film, The East, isn’t so much about questions, but it’s a shame the movie lays everything on so thick and in such obvious ways, leaving little room for any moral ambiguity. At the end of the day, this is a movie where the good guys are the good guys and the bad guys are kind of the bad guys. One of those characters, who fluctuates between both camps in contrived ways, is Sarah (Brit Marling). She works for a private intelligence firm made for evil corporations and such, has a boyfriend, and a nice life. Sarah, being the up and coming hotshot agent she is, like any other spy protagonist, is assigned to infiltrate an eco-terrorist cell known as “The East.” Assigned by her boss, Sharon (Patricia Clarkson) — who even gets to spew out exposition on a rooftop with that cliche helicopter lingering in the background — she has complete faith in her spy. It’s an obvious B-movie set up, and for the first half, it moves exceptionally well in that regard.

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What Maisie Knew

It may only be Monday, but our feel-bad trailer of the week has already arrived (and with a bullet). In Scott McGehee and David Siegel‘s What Maisie Knew, an already-messy divorce takes on an extra cast of awful, thanks to some apparently shifting romantic entanglements. Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan star as hip New Yorkers in the middle of a particularly ugly divorce and custody battle that threatens the well-being of their only daughter, an eerily adult Onata Aprile (as Maisie). Things get still worse when Coogan takes up with the nanny, Moore takes up with Alexander Skarsgard, and — oops! — said nanny and said Skarsgard just might take up with each other. See? Messy. If you’re not interested in being in a good mood, check out the first trailer for What Maisie Knew after the break.

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TheEast_still3

  So far it has only been seen at Sundance, but The East is giving those of us not in Park City a glimpse of what it has to offer, in the form of a trailer. This is the latest collaboration between director Zal Batmanglij and his co-writer/star Brit Marling, the duo who brought us the weird and interesting cult movie Sound of My Voice last year. The East casts Marling as a private intelligence operative who protects the interests of big corporations and sends her off on a mission to infiltrate and take down a cell of dangerous eco-terrorists. Sounds easy enough, right? Not when you start to fall in love with the operation’s charismatic leader and your loyalties begin to be pulled in two different directions. The trailer for the film doesn’t tell us all of this, though. Instead it masquerades as a sort of propaganda video/audio-visual threat aimed at rich people and big business. A mission statement gets read as we see images of big companies polluting the Earth and oppressing the poor and of this organization of revolutionaries making preparations to fight back. Threats are made and creepy masks are worn. If you’re a business owner with a bursting bank account, you might want to skip this one for fear of it making you squirm in your seat. But for everyone else, prepare to catch glimpses of Ellen Page, Alexander Skarsgård, and Patricia Clarkson. For an indie movie, The East boasts a pretty impressive cast.

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Sylvester Stallone in Cobra 2: Axing for Trouble

What is Casting Couch? It’s a news roundup that’s jam-packed with updates about big star doing big things. Look at this list of names! There’s barely a second-stringer on there. When you shoot as many people in the head and blow as many things up onscreen as Sylvester Stallone, every once in a while it’s nice to take a break from all of the insanity and do a quiet little indie drama. So, according to Variety, that’s exactly what he’s doing with his next film, Reach Me. Written and directed by Stallone’s Cobra co-star John Herzfeld, Reach Me is an ensemble piece about a group of characters who were all touched by a self-help book that was written by a reclusive football coach. There isn’t yet any word on what role Stallone will be playing, but, for the sake of his old knees, let’s hope it doesn’t involve any running. Those hobbling away from the explosion scenes in the Expendables movies are starting to look pretty painful.

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Tarzan Bo Derek

It’s been over a decade since Tarzan graced the big screen in Disney’s animated adaptation and over three since the jungle hero was sexed up by Bo Derek in Tarzan the Ape Man. Between those two we’ve seen Christopher Lambert go ape in Greystoke, the Legend of Tarzan…and that’s about it. But Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ high-flying hero looks set to be a hot property in the next couple of years. First up will be a motion-captured adventure starring Twilight‘s Kellan Lutz, but it’s probably safe to call that one a bomb right now. The much safer bet is the big budget reboot coming from WB. David Yates has been rumored to take on the directing gig for a few months now, but the veteran Harry Potter-helmer seemed to be in no rush to jump into another possible franchise. Per Vulture though, it looks like Yates has finally signed on the dotted line. The question now becomes who will be cast in the high profile but somewhat risky role of Tarzan?

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When a “loose” adaptation of Hasbro’s iconic board game Battleship was announced, it didn’t take a genius to figure out what type of film was in the making: big, loud, manic summer fun. The man to deliver on that promise was none other than Peter Berg, a director whose filmography ranges from Friday Night Lights to Hancock. After over three years of working on the film, Berg didn’t make a film that passes itself off as anything it’s not; he’s made Battleship. Battleship features the expected markings of all commercial tentpole films, something Berg did not want to shy away from. As the anti-film school director put it, he wanted to make a global event film, one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. When your film’s based on a popular board game, how could you? Berg, along with his potential blockbuster, could not be more self-aware. Here is what Battleship director Peter Berg had to say about letting life inform storytelling, his organic and actor-friendly approach to filmmaking, and how to keep your sanity while crafting a $200m event film:

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On December 7, 1941, the naval base at Pearl Harbor was attacked by 353 Japanese planes. It was a day that lives in infamy, but now director Peter Berg has reconciled the Americans and Japanese (finally!) in the dumbest, broadest, most pointlessly explosive way possible with Battleship. This obnoxious chore of a movie suffers from two cardinal sins. One, it’s probably the smallest-feeling big movie of the past three decades. Two, it steals so much from other, better movies that there’s no doubt Universal‘s legal team spent time considering possible action. Everything from the script to the CGI are low quality, making this $200m tentpole feel like it was made for fifteen bucks and a pack of gum.

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Look, Battleship will probably end up proving that it has at least a few original ideas in its head. Someone out there has to have shoved in one or two scenes that don’t look exactly like other movies, but the trailers certainly aren’t out to prove that. Nevertheless, it’s time to stop ragging on this flick for being a moronic idea and time to start ragging on it as a clear patchwork of other movies. Somehow, Universal has bypassed the need to do Hollywood math by simply copying and pasting directly from other films that have been successful. Why make something like Iron Man or like Transformers when you can go ahead and just make them again under a different name. Watch this new trailer and try to say with a straight face that the alien design isn’t Iron Man with a paint job. Watch the giant building collapse and try not to think up 5 other movies within the past 2 years where it’s happened (and try extra hard not to imagine the exact same scene in Dark of the Moon). No one says much of anything. Probably a good thing. But, whew, the action sure does look eye-popping.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that isn’t holding out hope that it will be chosen to host the 84th Academy Awards. It has never had a good working relationship with Brian Grazer. Earlier today the entire film world was talking about Brett Ratner’s departure as producer of the Oscars because of a whole bunch of controversy over some comments he made that offended fans of rehearsals. Everyone wanted him out, and they got it. The also got the bonus of Eddie Murphy jumping ship as host, two-for-one discount style. And now they’re getting something else, which might be seen as a bonus. The Academy confirmed this evening via a press release that Brian Grazer will produce the 84th Academy Awards telecast. The odds on Tom Hanks hosting just went through the roof.

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R.E.M. may have sang about the end of the world as we know it, but Lars von Trier brings that idea to the big screen in his film Melancholia, which deals with the heavy issue of depression (played with palpable despair and frustration by Kristen Dunst) in the face of a looming planet that threatens to end all life on earth. The film begins with a near ten-minute-long, slow-motion sequence focusing on foreboding images (which look almost like paintings) that are overtaken by darkness. The heavy (and at times jarring) soundtrack of the film, featuring deep violins and strings, is established during this sequence, and it strikes up throughout the film when things begin to take a more menacing turn. The film is split into two parts, the first focusing on Justine (Dunst) and her grand wedding to Michael (Alexander Skarsgard), while the second focuses on Justine’s sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourgh), and how she tries to hold her family together in the face of something that would cause depression (and utter fear) in almost anyone – the sudden and unstoppable end of life. Although the first part may seem a bit confusing, as von Trier brings us right into the story and does little to fill in the gaps, it becomes clear quickly that Justine is only trying to play the part of the happy bride, but does not fully have it in her. Despite pressure from her family and even her employer, Justine cannot seem to connect with what is going […]

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The last time Lars von Trier explored a relationship in decay, the divisive auteur could not have been more in your face. While parts of Antichrist were labeled as pure button-pushing, it was button-pushing in the greatest way possible. The director made a 2-hour endurance test, a great one at that. His latest, Melancholia, is not an endurance test. Right from the beginning prologue, which paints a picture of events to come, von Trier sucks one into his world of emotional and cynical chaos. The whole film, despite von Trier’s bombastic filmmaking nature, is surprisingly grounded. This isn’t about the destruction of earth, but of these characters. The apocalypse is only used to symbolize all of the characters’ emotional deterioration.

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The casting news for Zal Batmanglij’s next film with co-writer and leading lady, Brit Marling, continues to be my latest obsession. We know that the pair’s film The East will focus on an eco-terrorism group that is infiltrated by a hired agent, and that plotline, paired with Batmanglij and Marling’s apparent interest in fringe groups and their draw (look no further than their Sundance hit Sound of My Voice for proof of this), is enough to get me outrageously excited for the indie thriller. But as the film rounds out its casting, my excitement level is verging on simply unmanageable. Marling is already in to star as the undercover agent, dispatched by a private security firm that works to protect large corporations from eco-terrorist groups like the titular the East. Marling will get more involved than she anticipated, however, as her character will end up falling for the leader of the group, to be played by Alexander Skarsgard. Ellen Page is also on tap to play a member of The East, one who also has a romantic past with Skarsgard. The production has now added Patricia Clarkson in the role of Marling’s corporate boss, along with Brit Toby Kebbell, who is in negotiations for a role as “a doctor who was treated with a tainted drug that caused him to have Parkinson’s-like symptoms.”

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Ellen Page is reportedly in “final talks” for a role in Zal Batmanglij’s The East. Batmanglij has written the script with the film’s star, indie up-and-comer Brit Marling, with the film marking the pair’s first collaboration after their Sundance hit, Sound of My Voice. The film has been billed as a sort of thriller, set in the world of hardcore eco-terrorist groups. We’ve known that Marling would play some sort of “agent” who infiltrates a group, called The East, which is led by Alexander Skarsgard, but today’s news on Page’s casting comes with some additional information on the film’s plot, which is now further explained as a “story [that] concerns a private contracting firm tasked with protecting big corporations from radical environmentalists and anti-business extremists that assigns its best and brightest agent to infiltrate a mysterious anarchist organization known only as ‘The East.’” Marling is the agent employee of said contracting firm, who “finds herself falling for the leader” of the group. As if that didn’t sound like trouble enough, “Page will play Izzy, a member of The East who used to be Skarsgard’s lover and is now jealous of the attention he pays Marling’s character.” Who wants to bet that it’s Page’s character who uncovers what Marling’s character is really up to and reveals it all in one snarling torrent?

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Writer-director Rod Lurie was in a bit of a lose-lose situation when it came to dealing with the hardcore Straw Dogs fans. Like all remakes, if Lurie deviated too much, many critics would ask, “Why call it Straw Dogs?” If the Nothing But the Truth director stayed too faithful, then he’d get ripped on for making a carbon copy. There’s a tough middle ground between those two sides, and Lurie made enough changes to try to find it. For one thing, unlike Sam Peckinpah, Rod Lurie doesn’t hate women. All jokes aside, the original film earned controversy, partly because Peckinpah’s depiction of his female lead was deemed misogynistic. That’s not much of a surprise — Peckinpah treated that character with such disgust, as he treated all the main characters in that film with disgust. His film was about David (played in this version by James Marsden) finding his inner animal, while Lurie opted for David finding his inner man. Here’s what Rod Lurie had to say about the commercial potential of a Straw Dogs remake, the fine line between David being manly and narcissistic, and Peckinpah’s depiction of Amy versus his own: Note: this interview contains spoilers.

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Since busting on to the scene with her work in two of Sundance 2011’s biggest hits, Brit Marling’s next roles have been the source of constant speculation and chatter. But the multi-hyphenate’s skills go far beyond just acting, and one move was always for sure – she would be reteaming with Zal Batmanglij for another film, titled The East. With Marling serving as female lead and co-writer with director Batmanglij, the film was in need of strong male lead to play against Marling. They may have gotten that with Alexander Skarsgård, who is in talks to join the film. We don’t know much about the film (and I don’t expect that to change, considering that the little we do know seems so intriguing and not in need of any sort of big elaboration), but we do know that it will revolve “around a female agent who infiltrates an eco-terrorist group. The title of the movie refers to the group’s name.” Marling will play the agent, with Skarsgård in talks to take on the role of the group’s leader. The East will chronicle the type of fringe group not normally seen on cinema screens. It brings to mind the documentary If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, which opened this year. That film focused on true stories of some of the ELF’s members, a number of which are certainly interesting enough to go the big feature route. The East should play as an interesting counterpoint to Marling […]

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Seriously folks. Battleship may very well turn out to be a fun action flick, but this trailer makes it look like a massive chore to sit through. Directed by Peter Berg (who has proven that he knows good character and story), this film shows off the talents of Liam Neeson’s one-liner abilities as well as the fill-in-the-blanks action prowess of Dolph Lundgern’s son Taylor Kitsch. It goes strictly by the book, and the comparison to Transformers and Skyline is so apt that you can still see the afterbirth pooling around the edges if you look hard enough. So, look hard:

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Russell Edgington is a prime example of a great villain. Not only was he smart and calculated, but he also had the power and strength to get things done on his own. And when Edgington got down and bloody, he looked cool doing it. The vampire king was one of the few vamps on True Blood that seemed interested in actually having fun. He always looked as if he was going to a party and simply looking for a good time, especially with the help of his slick 70s style wardrobe. Sadly, Edgington isn’t around this season, but don’t fret. As actor Denis O’Hare says below, the plan is for him to return. Things didn’t end well for Edgington last season, but the King of Mississippi had persistence and ambition, so there was no real reason for us to be doubting his return. While Denis O’Hare isn’t on this season, the actor was still kind enough to make the time to discuss his role on the show. Throughout my whole chat with O’Hare he wore his love for Edgington on his sleeve. From discussing the character’s past to his childlike wonder, the actor remained enthusiastic.

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