Angelina Jolie

Back in 1996 when Billy Bob Thornton directed his first feature, Sling Blade, I thought that he had made his mark and was going to become one of the big directors working in Hollywood. That never happened, though. After that he only directed the Cormac McCarthy adaptation All the Pretty Horses in 2000 and then Daddy and Them, a movie I don’t even remember existing, in 2001. I guess the guy just decided that he’d rather be an actor than a director. And that’s fine, but now that he’s getting a bit older it seems like the directing bug might have bit once again. Last year he directed both a Willie Nelson documentary called The King of Luck, which is currently looking for distribution deals, and a dramatic film called Jayne Mansfield’s Car, which just played Berlinale. And apparently he’s not stopping there, because Variety has news that Thornton and his writing partner Tom Epperson are already set to collaborate on another project that Thornton will helm. The film, called And Then We Drove, is the first under $20m feature that will spring from a $120m film fund started by producer Alexander Rodnyansky. Why did Rodnyansky choose this project to be the first of the up to 6 films he will fund? He said, “I found the story amazing. It’s a pretty new combination of genres to put into one movie,” then concluded by adding, “It’s based on his experiences in many ways.”

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On the surface, In the Land of Blood and Honey seems like a vanity project of sorts for its maker, Angelina Jolie. After all, the actress/humanitarian/super-mom is one of the few figures in Hollywood who could strive to make a Bosnian War-set Romeo and Juliet with subtitles and actually get it done. Yet the finished project suggests that we might have found a new director to watch. Jolie brings a sincere, serious vision to this ambitious enterprise. Crafted with a veteran’s skill, the film ably traverses a range of emotions, from the intimate warmth of bedside scenes to the cold, calculated brutality of war at its most horrific. Shooting mostly in Hungary but working with an all-Bosnian cast, Jolie brings alive the terrible, destructive ethnic conflict that erupted between 1992 and 1995, after the former Yugoslavia split apart. Her narrative imparts the conflict’s heartaches through its focus on the forbidden, strife-ridden romance between Ajla (Zana Marjanovic), a Muslim artist, and Serbian policeman Danijel (Goran Kostic).

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On the heels of yesterday’s renewed confirmation that Angelina Jolie is on tap to play Cleopatra comes news that the actress is looking to play yet another strong female leader in a fact-based film. Jolie is now attached to star in Gertrude Bell, a biopic about the “female Lawrence of Arabia” who had a huge stake in crafting the “modern framework” of both Jordan and Iraq. While Bell is not a widely-known name, she was an essential part of the restructuring of the former Ottoman Empire, and her life story is rich enough and deserving enough of a big-scale biopic. Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions is producing the film, and Scott himself is reportedly considering the film as a directorial outing as well. The director is, however, quite busy, and is considering two other projects for directing aside from Gertrude Bell. Those projects include Gucci, based on the fashion family in their 70s and 80s heyday, and Child 44, a serial killer flick that takes place in Stalinist Russia. Scott will presumably pick one of these projects after his Prometheus opens on June 8, 2012 (a film which is already getting sequel buzz).

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Actors turned directors are a fascinating breed as their natural desire to be seen and noticed is often forced to take a backseat to what and who is visible onscreen. Well, unless they insist on directing and starring for their directorial debut. The difference can be incredibly varied as anyone who’s seen both Gone Baby Gone and Harlem Nights can attest. For every The Night of the Hunter there are a handful of Star Trek 5: The Final Frontier‘s. And as a fan of movies both good and deliriously bad I wouldn’t have it any other way. And while Angelina Jolie isn’t the first actor to step behind the camera, she may be the first bobble-head to do so. I kid. But seriously, her head is too big for her body. Despite that physical impairment Jolie has carved a solid niche for herself as Hollywood’s go to action heroine with occasional side trips into more dramatic (but less interesting) territory. Like most actors it seems, she’s decided that what she really want to do is direct, and the initial fruits of that labor are finally ready to be revealed. In the Land of Blood & Honey is a drama about a doomed and fairly twisted relationship between a Muslim woman and a Serbian soldier in war-torn Bosnia. Romance and tragedy are intertwined with a glimpse into one of the many dark spots in humanity’s recent history. It may or may not sound like much, but judging by the first trailer […]

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As if anticipating the announcement of a sequel, I finally watched Salt last week and enjoyed it. The storyline is so absurd that I looked for a writing credit from Mel Brooks, but it’s a capable action thriller that turns into a hilarious cartoon in the last minute. What’s not to like? Now Deadline Sakha is reporting that Sony is ready for more killing and has hired Kurt Wimmer to write the script for Salt 2. Going back to the original’s writer is somewhat encouraging (and Wimmer will always get a soft pass from me for writing Equilibrium), and it’s assumed by Deadline that Angelina Jolie will be on board “if it comes together right.” Empty speculation aside (what actor wouldn’t want to join a project if it came together correctly?), Jolie returning makes more sense than her character returning for a new Wanted installment, so at least logic is on the studio’s side. It’s unclear if director Phillip Noyce will come back to the franchise, but he’s not exactly idle; his name is attached to a handful of projects that might or might not get off the ground (as things often do or do not do). Regardless, this thing hinges on Jolie more than anyone else. If she approves the script, we’ll be seeing more from the woman on the run.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr follows Jamie Chung to Thailand, hoping to get married. Unfortunately, someone slips him roofies, which made him black out and spend a drunken night in Bangkok. Once he got out of that city, he headed over to China to become the new pot-bellied dragon warrior. After all, if a cartoon panda can do it, why can’t he? That didn’t stop him from spending another night in the hospital, and maybe a little time in a Bangkok jail. And then the real horror happened… Kevin saw The Tree of Life.

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If there’s one family movie franchise I wouldn’t mind seeing more of it’s the epic tale of Po the Kung Fu Panda and his merry band of fighting creature friends, the Furious Five. This sequel to the 2008 hit resurrects and expands upon the original’s blend of creatively filmed action, appealingly broad comedy and classic Chinese motifs interspersed with that age-old animation standard: cute animals. This time, Po the Dragon Warrior (Jack Black) and his team are called upon to protect China from Lord Shen (Gary Oldman), a peacock with a devious plan to right a past wrong and heavy machinery to back it up. The kung fu masters must face immense obstacles, not the least of which is Po’s sudden, shocking realization that his noodle-shop owning goose father (James Hong) isn’t his biological paterfamilias.

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The historical biopic based on a best selling book “Cleopatra: A Life” has had Angelina Jolie set to star for a while now, but it has yet to find a director. First it was rumored that James Cameron was going to direct, but then he committed to doing Avatar sequels instead. Then it looked like Paul Greengrass might come on board, but he wound up going off to do Memphis. Maybe the problem Cleopatra is having is that her standards are too high. Instead of only going after the biggest directors in Hollywood, she just needs to get out there and start dating. The big problem standing in the way is that Angelina Jolie reportedly has quite a bit of say-so that goes along with her attachment to the film, and she is very particular about who she wants directing. I mean, just look at her filmography and you can tell that she only works with the best. This lady does top notch stuff. Who knows what The Tourist would have looked like if she didn’t hold out for the most talented people in the business to sign on? Jolie’s eye for talent has now looked toward The Social Network director David Fincher. He has had talks about the possibility of taking on the project, but it is questionable if his schedule will allow for it. Famously, his next project is the English language version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and with that film comes two sequels. And […]

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Boiling Point

To get more hits on this article, I considered calling it “Ricky Gervais & The Golden Globes, Sandra Bullock nude, Ryan Reynolds break up, chicken fight.” But we’re above that sort of stuff here at FSR, or at least that’s what I’m told when all my work gets edited down. Anyway, some of you reading this may care about awards shows. If that’s you, then you probably watched the Golden Globes on Sunday and I feel bad for you because why do you care about awards shows? Did you win your office pool? Nice/Better luck next time. So if you watched the show, or just read about it later, you know that comedian Ricky Gervais is catching some heat over his presentation. Apparently a few celebrities and some Hollywood Foreign Press members (who put on the show) thought that his jokes and barbs crossed a line, proving they don’t know who Ricky Gervais is.

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Those holding their breath for the Alien prequel to go away, or to pass over without doing much damage to the franchise can breathe easy now. They may even want to use that fresh influx of oxygen to cheer. Deadline Bisbee is reporting that from the bones and ashes of the Alien prequel comes Prometheus, rising like a phoenix who invented fire. Mixed metaphors aside, the universe of Alien is expanding and opening its arms for an original story with original characters. Noomi Rapace is on board to play a scientist named Elizabeth Shaw, and the second major role of Vickers is being battled over by Charlize Theron and Angelina Jolie. So what the hell is it about?

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No matter who ends up directing Cleopatra, it’s going to be a cyclopean undertaking. The budget will be inflated, Angelina Jolie will be inflated, and the director will have to make sense of it all. It’s unclear what it means to “like the idea” of Paul Greengrass directing, since this isn’t middle school, but according to Deadline, Scott Rudin and Sony might soon be slipping a note to Greengrass asking him “check yes or no” in regards to the gig. The film seeks to be a grittier version than the widely known Elizabeth Taylor film from 1963, but the plan is to keep it PG-13 and in 3D. That’s unsurprising considering the budget size (which will be massive), but it’s disappointing. It’s also disappointing to see Angelina Jolie wrapped up in this role. In a way, she’s too perfect for it, and her acting in recent years has been trumped completely by her public persona. Taylor became the highest paid actress by signing on for her Egyptian epic (playing a Greek queen), but Jolie has been on the highest paid list for a long time now, and her welcome is a bit outstayed. Greengrass is unarguably a good fit because he can do tight action, good dramatic storytelling and higher budget projects. Another choice might be Kathryn Bigelow, but she’s got her hands full for the rest of the year. Regardless, this thing will be a big deal (and possibly a big gamble) and something to keep a close eye […]

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We could almost start a brand new daily column for this, thanks to the crack staff at MTV. They are quote-unquote reporting today that Angelina Jolie will not play Catwoman in Christopher Nolan’s upcoming Batman flick The Dark Knight Rises. When asked about the rumors/speculation that she’d make a great Catwoman, Jolie responded to MTV with the ever-cryptic script “I haven’t heard anything about it…” What?! You haven’t heard of Christopher Nolan’s next Batman movie? How dare you, Mrs. Pitt. Stop doing charity work and get your ass to the internet. The important stuff is happening right here. As for the casting of Chris Nolan’s next, the saga continues. And if MTV has anything to say about it, perhaps we’ll finally know whether or not John Stamos is ready to confirm the rumors of being cast as The Riddler, or not. Stamos! [MTV News]

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr heads to the movie theater to enjoy the holiday releases and the award films. But how do they stack up against each other. After being swept into Narnia in post-converted 3D, Kevin takes a trip to Venice where he watches a portly Johnny Depp play an everyman to Angelina Jolie walking around a lot. Finally, he takes another award season trip to Boston to watch Mark Wahlberg get punch drunk..

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Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck is at risk of having his tourist visa revoked. Or at least he would be if there were any justice in the cinematic world. (Of course, the continued presence of Ashton Kutcher on the big screen proves that’s not the case.) The problem isn’t that von Donnersmarck has made a bad movie or that saying his name aloud reminds one of the worst part of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (I’m looking at you Eli Roth!). No, the problem is that after the absolute brilliance of his suspenseful and emotionally satisfying debut, The Lives Of Others, the director’s arrival in Hollywood is with little more than a beautiful but bland trip to Mediocreville.

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Quick, name one historical figure you’d love to see brought to the big screen in glorious, big budget 3D. If you said Harold Lloyd then pat yourself on the back because that would indeed make for an entertaining 3D biopic, but apparently no one but us thinks it’s a good idea. Instead, Hollywood is returning to the well of cinematic epics from days gone by and is preparing to dust one off for an update of sorts… and they’ve got some pretty big heavy hitters already interested. Per Deadline Kapuskasing, Sony Pictures is extremely keen on making a big budget Cleopatra film, and they may already have a director and star in place. Angelina Jolie has long spoken of her desire to play the role of Egypt’s final pharaoh, and many people consider her exotic looks and apparent charisma to make her a natural for such a powerful and well known historical character. On the other side of the camera Sony has garnered the attention of James Cameron. Interest has piqued most recently thanks to a new script from Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential) based off the recent bestseller, Cleopatra: A Life, by Staci Schiff, that paints the formidable ruler in a far different light than people are used to. This will not be Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra…

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There’s nothing about the first trailer released for The Tourist that makes the movie look special in anyway. It’s more of the same all echoed by Angelina Jolie slapping her vocal chords with fish and chips. For those keeping score, there’s the mysterious attractive woman on a train, the mistaken identity, the boat chase scene from Indiana Jones, Europe, and an unmistakable sense of inertia. Stop me when you have a bingo. See for yourself:

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Sandra Bullock might be returning to sci-fi. It’s been 17 years since Demolition Man, but the actress may need to brush up on her three shell method for Alfonso Cuaron. An offer to star in Gravity is currently still out to Natalie Portman, but if she passes, Bullock is next on the list for a call from Warners. It’s a natural choice after earlier concerns about Angelina Jolie passing. After all, if Jolie won’t do it, who do you hire? How about an actress that made more money for studios in 2009 and won an Oscar? [Cinema Blend]

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Last week, we mocked the idea that Angelina Jolie’s absence could sink a movie (let alone any actress’s), and shockingly Gravity is still on its feet. The sky didn’t fall. Plus, it’s looking at a great talent to fill the main role that would be age-appropriate and be able to, you know, act. The offer is out to Natalie Portman who now finds herself surrounded with Oscar buzz the same way Jake Sully found himself surrounded by those floating ghost tree seed things in Avatar. That’s not a simile – Oscar buzz looks exactly like those things. It’s a nuisance, really. Natalie Portman playing a greenhorn astronaut with Alfonso Cuaron at the helm? Hopefully she’ll hop on board. [Risky Business]

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The Week That Was

With this week, Summer 2010 has officially gone. We are into September and here in Austin at Reject HQ, the temperature is back down into the 90s and we’re looking forward to seeing all of our genre-loving friends at the end of the month for Fantastic Fest. As you’ll begin to notice, we will soon become very preoccupied with what’s happening in the war room over at the Alamo Drafthouse, where the final slate for Fantastic Fest 2010 seems to be coming together quickly. But for now, there are still films in theaters and news from around the globe that have caught our interest. That interest was quickly turned into articles filled with biting commentary. Those articles are assembled here, in a weekly column we like to call The Week That Was…

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The Chicken Little sentiment of the day is that Angelina Jolie’s passing on Gravity – the incredibly cool-sounding sci-fi flick from Alfonso Cuaron – could possibly sink the ship. After all, Warners is sending $80 million up into orbit, and the film rests almost solely on the shoulders of the female lead. Who could be worth that kind of money? That question and the concept that any actor’s refusal could possibly sink a production would have mattered five years ago, but we’re past the point where actors matter all that much anymore. I’ll grant that Salt made over $100 million domestic, and it was done on Jolie’s shoulders. Yes, she has the capability of creating large numbers. But to think that the sky is falling just because she declined is foolish, and here’s why.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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