Angelina Jolie

Unbroken Movie

First of all, Angelina Jolie‘s Unbroken looks like a breakout moment for Jack O’Connell, regardless of how the movie itself does overall. He stars as the real-life Louis Zamperini, who did more in his lifetime than we could do in five. Long distance Olympic athlete who met Hitler, WWII POW survivor, inspirational speaker, Zamerini had a hell of a biography before passing away July 2nd of this year. Now, his story will be secured in cinema with O’Connell at the forefront of what looks like a whirlwind performance. Second of all, my fingers are crossed tight enough to break off circulation, hoping this movie isn’t even one tenth of how schmaltzy a slab of forced inspiration the trailer makes it out to be.

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Maleficent

Did you walk out of the theater after taking in Disney’s latest mega-hit, the villain-centric Maleficent, feeling just a bit uncomfortable? Perhaps because the PG-rated “family” film is, in no uncertain terms, a story about rape, abuse and what happens to victims of crimes rooted in power, control and sexual politics? The Angelina Jolie-starring film is all about humanizing her eponymous heroine – a powerful fairy who loses both her gentle spirit and her (emotionally and physically important) wings after someone she trusts and loves (Sharlto Copley, whose bonkers-bad performance should be discussed at length another time) cuts them off. In the middle of the night. After he’s lulled her with sweet words. And drugged her. If the subtext isn’t clear enough in the initial act, the aftermath of it drives it home spectacularly (and quite devastatingly), as Jolie’s Maleficent wakes to find her wings gone, realizes what has happened and reacts in a way that’s akin to mourning. Even removed from the situation, it’s a very upsetting sequence, one that seems out of place in an ostensibly family-friendly film. Really, though, what’s most out of place in Maleficent is the entire subplot that leads to that wrenching moment (the most emotionally interesting one in an otherwise muddled and choppy feature), and although reading it as something different (or at least something not so jarringly un-Disney) is possible, it’s also wrong. Says who? Jolie.

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angelina-jolie-maleficent1

In Disney’s 1959 Sleeping Beauty, the evil Maleficent has less than 15 minutes of screen time, making the character’s decade-lasting infamy and the initial interest in a feature-length film of her re-imaging, Maleficent, notably impressive. Of course, the same could be said for the Evil Queen of Disney’s 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, who’s gotten two recent chances to re-captivate  audiences with Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman. Judging by Maleficent‘s opening weekend domestic box office numbers, this serpentine queen is number one in fans’ cold dead hearts. Anyone who remembers Maleficent’s fifteen minutes of fame in Sleeping Beauty already knows that Maleficent writer Linda Woolverton took enormous leaps in filling the expansive gaps in Maleficent’s history. However the same can be argued for the writers of Sleeping Beauty as well. The original Disney film was based on both the original fairy tale “La Belle au Bois Dormant (The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood)” by Charles Perrault and the later “Little Briar Rose” by the Brothers Grimm – neither of which had much to say in the characterization of the once nameless and now legendary villain. So how did Maleficent change over time? We did the reading, so you don’t have to.

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Walt Disney Pictures

A quick re-watch for anyone with a hazy memory of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty reveals that the 1959 film has a lot of problems – just one of which being the complete apparent lack of motivation for its catalytic villain, Maleficent. She sort of just shows up at the princess’ christening and casts the infamous “sleep like death” spell. She’s barely even in the Disney movie, really. For screenwriter Linda Woolverton, this leaves a nearly blank canvas with which to re-imagine the character’s story. For director Robert Stromberg, this is an opportunity to create an entire magical world as the setting for said tale. Yes – Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent is also technically based on the classic fairy tales, but the story told in Maleficent seems exclusively tailored to the Disney character. Opening the film with a re-imagining of Maleficent’s past, her story is told like a connect-the-dots puzzle where each dot represents one of her physical traits: here’s why she walks with a staff, this is what’s up with her and that crow, it’s time to talk about that headpiece, etc. It’s in between these style landmarks that Maleficent’s new truth is revealed.

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Brangelina in Mr and Mrs Smith

In 2005, the world as we knew it was a much different, much simpler place. Brad Pitt was still married to that cute girl from Friends, Jennifer Aniston, and she wasn’t painted as a sad, baby-less spinster in every tabloid that was having a slow news day. Angelina Jolie was still a successful actress best known for making out on the red carpet, wearing a vial of Billy Bob Thornton’s blood around her neck, adopting children on her own and completing humanitarian aid work around the world. All peachy, right guys? But when Pitt and Jolie co-starred in Mr. & Mrs. Smith, the spy movie that was more about the super attractive leads sucking face while being pretty together than it was a traditional thriller, universes collided and Hollywood — nay, Earth — was never the same again. Just a few months after the film’s premiere, Pitt and Aniston got divorced. He famously became involved with Jolie soon after, and they now have six children and successful careers to rest on. (Don’t worry; Aniston’s doing just fine for herself, too.) Although they’ve kept busy with ample projects, Pitt and Jolie have never worked together again since their infamous turn in Smith. But that’s about to change, with The Hollywood Reporter signaling that the couple is working on a “mystery project,” likely based on a script that Jolie wrote several years ago.

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Angelina Jolie and Louis Zamperini

Louis Zamperini lived just about one of the craziest lives imaginable. A first-generation American, he went from being a young punk who grew up during the Depression and was the scourge of local law enforcement, to being an Olympian who ran in the Berlin Olympics and got a personal meet-and-greet with Hitler, to being a bombardier who fought against Axis forces in the second World War, to surviving on a life raft in the Pacific Ocean for 47 days while eating raw fish and drinking rain water, to being held in a Japanese POW camp, to eventually being a married man and motivational speaker. It’s the sort of story that Hollywood loves to turn into movies. But, due to all of the inherent drama in the subject matter and the delicacy with which it needs to be handled, it’s also the sort of movie that Hollywood tends to turn into sappy melodramas. So, seeing as Zamperini’s upcoming biopic, Unbroken, is being put together by Angelina Jolie, who’s only had one previous go-around at being a director (In the Land of Blood and Honey), sappiness is certainly a concern. There are a couple of indications that Jolie and company are going to get the execution right on this one though, and now that the film aired a teaser during the Olympics, we’ve all got a much better idea of what to expect. Click through to check it out.

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Maleficent

The promise of Maleficent is that it redirects our view on the nasty villain who forced Princess Aurora into an egregiously long nap. Drawing on the legacy of other baddie-contextualizing work like “Grendel” and “Wicked,” it theoretically turns a wicked witch into the central character of the story to provide a meaningful, understandable reason as to why she’s a horrible, terrible beast woman. But the trailer doesn’t bode well for that promise. Or at least the CGI doesn’t.

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Anglina Jolie Maleficent

Disney has finally released the highly anticipated teaser trailer for Maleficent, giving us the first look at Angelina Jolie as the beautiful, intimidating horned villain to Elle Fanning‘s Sleeping Beauty. If you can recall back to your childhood, the film tells the other side of Sleeping Beauty, from the perspective of the evil sorceress who put the curse on Princess Aurora that sent her into a charmed sleep only broken by true love’s kiss. The teaser doesn’t offer much in terms of plot, but it’s a glimpse into a gorgeous, dark world far beyond the 1959 original. Gone is the bright, sing-songy storybook realm where Aurora and the good fairies lived peacefully until Maleficent’s curse; the new landscape is enveloped in shadows and guarded by thorns (and a boatload of CGI) — because we’ve entered the world how Maleficent sees it now.

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Angelina Jolie

Two weeks ago, I told you that Robert Downey Jr. was the real Tony Stark when it was revealed that he was the highest-paid actor in Hollywood after having made a unfathomable $75m between June 2012 and June 2013. Now, Forbes has released their list of highest-paid actresses, and it appears that Angelina Jolie is supreme queen, raking in $33m in the same time period. Despite not having a huge film in theaters for over three years (2010’s The Tourist with Johnny Depp), Jolie’s starpower is apparently enough to keep her at the top of the chart. She was able to nab a paycheck north of $15m for next summer’s Maleficent, and did well with her writing and directing venture, the Bosnian war drama In the Land of Blood and Honey. Jolie is a bonafide movie star in that she even outranks The Girl on Fire by $7m. Jennifer Lawrence had an insane 2012, and with $26m in her pocket 2013 is probably looking even better. Lawrence won the Best Actress Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook, and ushered in a new era of Hunger Games mania as Our Lady of Badassery, Katniss Everdeen. The Hunger Games made $690m off a $80m budget, and though Lawrence made less than $1m for the first film, her paycheck was promptly bumped up following its success. Go girl. Not to mention, Lawrence is also part of the X-Men franchise as young Mystique, and received earnings from those films as well.

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depp

What is Casting Couch? It’s the place to go to find out which upcoming movies are going to star which actors. Keep reading to discover the cast of veterans Adam Carolla wants you to help him make a movie with. Given Johnny Depp’s penchant for always sporting flashy accessories and conspicuous facial hair, his next project should prove to be right in his wheelhouse. The Wrap is reporting that he’s all set to star in Mortdecai, which is an adaptation of Kyril Bonfiglioli‘s comedic crime novel “The Great Mortdecai Moustache Mystery,” and possibly the launcher of a new franchise for the actor. David Koepp (Premium Rush) will direct the film, which will cast Depp as Charlie Mortdecai, a dashing art dealer who often finds himself caught up in espionage and intrigue. This particular Mortdecai story is one that involves rare paintings and Nazi gold, which most of the best stories often do.

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Louis Zamperini has an amazing life story. He ran in the Berlin Olympics of 1936 where he shook Adolf Hitler’s hand because the leader wanted to meet him. He then fought in WWII, flying with  a B-24 bomber in the Pacific Islands before a mechanical failure brought his plane and the 11 men in it down. Only three men survived, Zamperini included, and they ate raw fish and drank captured rain water for 47 days while fighting off shark attacks before washing ashore in the Marshall Islands where they were taken as POWs by the Japanese. Zamperini was torture by one of the 40 most wanted war criminals of the time but survived for two years before finally seeing his release at the end of the war. Oh, and he’s still alive. He’s 96 and, clearly, he cannot be killed.

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Angelina Jolie Unbroken

After completing her feature directorial debut with 2011’s Bosnian War-set drama, In the Land of Blood and Honey, multi-hyphenate Angelina Jolie has been mum on what her next directing gig will be (though we did get those hilarious rumors that she was on deck to helm Fifty Shades of Grey), so it does come as a bit of a surprise that we’re first catching wind of her probable next project, an adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand‘s bestselling “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption” via press release. Curiouser still is the fact that the release only says Jolie is “in talks” to direct the film, as such official announcements are usually reserved for, well, more official announcements. What does that mean? Yeah, this is probably a done deal. Jolie is “in talks” to helm the film for Universal Pictures and Walden Media, one which follows “the incredible life story of Olympian and war hero Louis Zamperini who, along with two other crewmen, survived in a raft for 47 days after a near-fatal plane crash in WWII only to be caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a prisoner of war camp.” That’s right, Jolie is going back to a war camp for her next feature. Can’t someone get her a rom-com? We’re sad already.

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Anglina Jolie Maleficent

Production on Maleficent started on June 13th, and the movie won’t be in theaters until March 14th of (wait for it) 2014, but Disney has already released a teaser image of star Angelina Jolie as the iconic, evil witch queen who really hates Sleeping Beauty. To be fair, without Maleficent, the fair-haired heroine would just be called “Beauty,” and that name was already taken, so she probably wouldn’t have a cool nickname at all. Credit has to be given to Gregory Maguire’s “Wicked” for birthing a modern fascination with the villain’s side of the story (but mad respect to the old school “Grendel”), and the Robert Stromberg-directed fairy tale promises just that for Jolie. Although this will be the directorial debut for the veteran effects designer, the writing team features both Paul Dini and Linda Woolverton, so there’s a lot to be hopeful for. Plus, the cast also includes Elle Fanning, Juno Temple, Sharlto Copley and a ton of other solid names. Clicking on the image makes it largified. [Disney]

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Angelina Jolie

I’ve spent the entire morning checking to see if they somehow changed June 8th to April Fool’s Day. No such luck, but this rumor is so absurd that it either has to be correct or has to be mined from an anonymous user on the message board of a fanfic blog. Or it comes from Deadline Seattle. The paper thin report alleges that Universal has been in talks with Angelina Jolie to direct at least the first film in the trilogy based on E.L. James’s “Fifty Shades of Grey.” The project is a massive one according to studio math because the books have been so popular (over ten million copies sold in 37 countries), so theoretically getting a high profile name attached as director could help the business side of things. On the other hand, this seems like a massive gamble. Is it supposed to be a tentpole film like Hunger Games and Twilight? It has a huge built-in fanbase, but will that be enough to ensure it’s worth the price tag? Can’t people go rewatch Secretary and Indecent Proposal instead? Why are we asking all these questions? And what are the odds that this rumor is anywhere near true?

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Disney has finally cast the cherry on top of its long-gestating revisionist take on the Sleeping Beauty myth, setting up young Aussie actor Brenton Thwaites to play the prince to Angelina Jolie‘s evil Maleficent and Elle Fanning‘s innocent Princess Aurora. In the classic fairy tale, the part is generally referred to as Prince Phillip, but Deadline Evil Dark Woods doesn’t let on if that will be the case in Robert Stromberg‘s take on the tale. Despite his name, Thwaites is not a type of bread and he’s also not a knock-off of clothing brand Benetton, he’s one of those Aussie actor kids who cut his teeth on two of their many, many television series. Thwaites did a ten-episode run on SLiDe and also starred on continual favorite, Home and Away. He’ll next be seen as the male star in Lifetime’s take on The Blue Lagoon, next month’s Blue Lagoon: The Awakening (ew). Other stars who did their time on Aussie TV? Chris Hemsworth, Ryan Kwanten, Rose Byrne, Toni Collette, Portia di Rossi, and Liam Hemsworth. It’s nothing to sniff at and no one should be surprised if Thwaites ends up the next Hollywood It Boy. Hey! Maybe we can cast him in Catching Fire!

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We’ve been pretty closely following the development and casting news of Ridley Scott‘s The Counselor (written by no less than Cormac McCarthy), and while the bulk of casting so far has been quite exciting (Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, and Brad Pitt, to name the big guns), this is the first rumor that gives us pause. Twitch Film is reporting that Cameron Diaz has landed a role in the film, one Angelina Jolie was once hotly pursuing. The role of Malkina is one of two big female parts in the film, making this one of Diaz’s most juicy (and somewhat unexpected) gigs yet. While Diaz has yet to show that she’s capable of truly carrying a dark and dramatic role on her own, she has dipped her toe in interesting fare, stuff like The Box, Gangs of New York, and Being John Malkovich. She’s also continued to work on her comedic talents, showing a sort of weird fearlessness in recent roles, particularly the not-so-flattering Bad Teacher. And, hell, she’s even playing the female lead in the Coen brothers-penned Gambit remake, so perhaps Diaz is ready to take the next step in her acting career.

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After years of rumors and buzz, Disney’s live-action take on the Angelina Jolie-starring Maleficent is finally zipping along full steam ahead. THR reports (via Cinema Blend) that Elle Fanning is now set to star as Princess Aurora (best known to those not in the fairy tale know as Sleeping Beauty), along with a murderer’s row of the other prime cinematic talent. Fanning was rumored to be in talks back in March (thanks to a nifty exclusive over at Twitch), but it’s nice to get some confirmation on what’s really lovely casting. The outlet also appears to confirm that Sharlto Copley, who is going on a job-accepting tear, is set to co-star as “Stefan, the half-human, half-fairy bastard son of the human king.” The rest of the cast will now include including Imelda Staunton and Lesley Manville as Knotgrass and Flittle (two of three pixies who care for Princess Aurora), Miranda Richardson as fairy Queen Ulla (also Maleficent’s aunt, though she reportedly doesn’t like her so much), Sam Riley as Diaval (Maleficent’s “right-hand man who can transform into a raven”), and Kenneth Cranham as the human king looking to rule the fairy kingdom as well. While this casting is all well and good, we appear to be missing a vital role – the handsome prince!

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The casting process for Ridley Scott’s next project, The Counselor, has been an absolute dream for people who like to write down famous people’s names. After going through a laundry list of the biggest actors working in Hollywood, Scott has seemed to settle on the titanic trio of Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, and Brad Pitt to play the three main male roles in this Cormac McCarthy-penned, lawyer-gone-bad drama. There has yet to be a consensus on who’s going to play the lead female role, that of the Fassbender character’s fianceé, however. The most recent buzz was that Pitt’s real-life fianceé Angelina Jolie was being looked at to come on board, but that never sounded like anything more than a long shot. And, sure enough, a recent report from THR claims that the actress’ role in the upcoming Disney film, Maleficent, would conflict with The Counselor’s shooting schedule.

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When Cormac McCarthy writes a script for Hollywood, it seems that everyone and their brother comes out of the woodwork to try and get a job on the production, right quick. It wasn’t long after it was announced that his original screenplay, The Counselor, existed before it was also announced that Ridley Scott would be directing and Michael Fassbender was attached to play the lead role. And ever since then, there’s been a who’s who of entertainment industry royalty lining up to get in on the fun. Not too long ago it was said that Javier Bardem and Jeremy Renner were being looked at for the two remaining male roles, that of the villain and a drug runner, and that Natalie Portman was showing interest in coming in as the female lead.

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For the uninitiated who might think that Maleficent is just a nonsense word (you know, like me), it might seem strange that Disney is so gung-ho about putting together an Angelina Jolie-starring film using such gibberish as a title. But for those in the know, the situation is a lot more clear. You see, Maleficent is the name of the Evil Queen in the classic fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty,” and Maleficent is an upcoming feature that means to tell the Sleeping Beauty story from the perspective of said Queen. The big question about this prospective project is whether or not Maleficent will be able to do for Evil Queens what Wicked did for Wicked Witches. Given Jolie’s recent track record when it comes to quality of projects, and the fact that its director, Robert Stromberg, is sitting in the chair for the first time ever, things weren’t looking so certain. But with a little bit of new casting news, suddenly the future is looking much brighter.If Maleficent is set to be our protagonist, then the other big casting question as far as this film is concerned is who will be playing the evil and sleepy Princess Aurora. According to Twitch, it may just be Elle Fanning.

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published: 10.30.2014
B-
published: 10.29.2014
D+
published: 10.27.2014
C-
published: 10.24.2014
C-


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