Anna Kendrick

Sundance

And thus ends another Sundance Film Festival. This year’s festival provided us with plenty of feature fodder to examine for the next eleven or so months, despite the lack of any big breakout a la Fruitvale Station or Beasts of the Southern Wild. As ever, though, the festival featured some recurring trope and tricks (a few of which we identified early), but not all of them seemed rote or repetitive. In fact, there are more than a few themes and players that popped up throughout the festival that we would like to see more of – either at Sundance or out in the wide release world. So what kept showing up in this year’s Sundance selections that deserves a bigger stage? Read on, and make some notes.

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Drinking Buddies

Editor’s Note: This review was originally part of our SXSW coverage, but Drinking Buddies is in theaters this weekend so stop messing around and go see it. Joe Swanberg is one of a group of filmmakers who made their mark with movies that relied on improvisation more than script, 20 something ennui more than narrative and friends more than professional actors. This model works for some viewers, but it’s not designed to ever really appeal to the wider audiences. His latest film, Drinking Buddies, keeps the improv method, but it still manages to tell a cohesive and truly affecting story. A big reason for that is a cast of extremely talented actors with wicked good comedic timing in the lead roles. The four performers, along with a more assured Swanberg directing and editing, have crafted a story about heartbreak, temptation and friendship.

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schwarzenegger

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting news column that’s catching up on some developments that occurred over the weekend while preparing for tonight’s huge Stanley Cup Finals game. Find out what’s up with Adrien Brody and Felicity Jones before the puck drops. You’ve already seen him save the world from terrorists, aliens, and killer machines, and now it’s looking like you’re going to finally get the chance to see Arnold Schwarzenegger save the world from the oncoming creep of the zombie menace. Or, at least, he’s going to do his best to get his daughter through a zombie apocalypse, as that’s the plot of the latest project he’s taken on. According to Variety, the movie is called Maggie, it comes from a Black List script by strangely-named screenwriter John Scott 3, and it will see Schwarzenegger playing a father who is helping his daughter, “come to terms with her infection as she slowly becomes a zombie,” in what sounds like the most family-oriented role the action star has taken since he was in Junior.

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dumber

What is Casting Couch? Your daily dose of casting news. Today we’ve, of course, got the latest name to be confirmed for the Veronica Mars movie, as well as some info about the casting process for Star Wars: Episode VII. They’ve been talking about putting together a sequel to Dumb and Dumber for quite some time now. The project has seen its share of ups and downs, however, and many people have probably started to think that it’s just one of those things that’s never going to happen. A new report from Deadline claims that those fears are unfounded though. They’re reporting that Dumb and Dumber To has just landed in the lap of Universal, and not only are Peter and Bobby Farrelly on board to direct and do a re-write of the current script, but both Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels are on board to reprise their roles of Harry and Lloyd, as well. And more than that even, this is said to be a movie that’s been put on the fast track, so it should see scheduling starting soon. That all sounds pretty official, right?

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review rapture palooza

2013 seems to be the year of end-of-the-world comedies, and while that may be a sure sign of the end times at least we’ll go out laughing. Edgar Wright’s The World’s End opens later this summer, the very funny This Is the End hits theaters next week, and the even better It’s a Disaster was just released on Blu-ray/DVD. It really is a fine time for fans of the apocalypse. The fourth entry (or second if you’re going chronologically) is Paul Middleditch‘s Rapture-Palooza. Lindsey (Anna Kendrick) and Ben (John Francis Daley) are young and in love, but unlike the billion or more young couples that came before them these two are seeing their romance blossom amidst the events foretold in the Book of Revelation. The undead roam the streets, foul-mouthed locusts and crows berate the survivors, and occasionally large, flaming rocks fall from the sky to crush food carts. As bad as things are though, they get even worse when the anti-christ (Craig Robinson) points his erection Lindsey’s direction determined to have her even if that means eliminating Ben and anyone else standing in the way.

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Drinking Buddies

Do you like fun things? Things like beer and love and friendship and mostly improvised movies? Or even fun people? Fun people like Jake Johnson, Olivia Wilde, Anna Kendrick, and Ron Livingston? Would you like to see all of those things and people together in one of SXSW’s biggest hits from earlier this year? Good, you can do that quite soon. Until then, here is a poster. Refreshing! Drinking Buddies will be available on VOD on July 25th, with a theatrical release following on August 23rd. [EW]

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kendrick

What is Casting Couch? It’s the news column that’s got its ear to the ground, listening for any juicy tidbits coming out of Cannes. Today people like Uma Thurman, Seann William Scott, Amanda Seyfried, and Bruce Willis all got new jobs. Zach Braff hasn’t yet had much of a career as a film director, but if there’s one thing he’s got more experience shooting than most people, it’s tiny girls wearing giant headphones. So chances are Pitch Perfect star Anna Kendrick will be a perfect fit for the cast of his new movie, Wish I Was Here. The Wrap is reporting that she’s just joined the film in the role of Janine, a chick who’s into cosplay and who the Josh Gad character becomes enamored with. However you feel about the controversy surrounding Braff’s Kickstarter funding of this film, you have to admit, added Anna Kendrick just made going to see it sound a whole lot more enticing.

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Pitch Perfect

Of all the news coming out of this year’s CinemaCon, the revelation that Universal Pictures is launching a sequel to their surprise hit Pitch Perfect is the one most worth singing about (it’s just convenient that this pun works so well in this context). Details are scarce on the follow-up, but we do know that the film will arrive sometime in 2015 and that original screenwriter Kay Cannon is set to return to pen this new feature. There is no word on other returning cast or crew (please, please, give us more Rebel “Fat Amy” Wilson). As Entertainment Weekly reports, the first film was a massive hit for the studio, pulling in $112m at the box office (with just a teensy $17m budget) and going on to “earn over $90 million across all home market platforms…it currently stands as the studio’s third highest-grossing VOD title ever behind blockbusters Ted and Bridesmaids. On top of that, the Pitch Perfect soundtrack has sold over 636,000 copies and spawned a hit single — complete with its own music video – with Anna Kendrick’s ‘Cups.’” Basically, this thing is money, so of course Uni is going to go the sequel route.

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mnad_ofthrones

Your Thursday night will end with Anna Kendrick being the most adorable person on the face of the planet. But before that, we’ll talk about why Game of Thrones is the most important show ever, why fans of Selena Gomez need to get over Spring Breakers and why Jon Stewart’s directorial debut is already getting panned. It’s all here on Movie News After Dark.

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Hugh Jackman in The Wolverine

Tonight in the wide world of entertainment news, we’ve gone down the rabbit hole of nerd pleasures. From a wedding officiated by Patrick Stewart to Hugh Jackman’s hands to Brad Bird inserting curse words into Star Wars to our undisputed queen of nerdom, Anna Kendrick, it’s all about the love in Movie News After Dark.

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Rapturepalooza

Will Rapturepalooza actually be funny? Even after watching its entire red band trailer, which is chock-full of gags, the answer to that question still doesn’t really become clear. There are so many jokes that fly by here, some good and some bad, that it’s near impossible to tell what the hit-to-miss ratio is going to be like when you actually sit down to watch the thing in the theater. Has this trailer basically given away every joke the film makes, or are there still plenty more waiting to be discovered? Are the jokes we do see the broadest, silliest ones, meant to attract a general audience, or is broad silliness all the movie has to offer? It’s tough to say. But what’s clear is that director Paul Middleditch and writer Chris Matheson haven’t pulled any punches with what they’re willing to satirize. They shoot Jesus out of the sky with a laser cannon. They make light of Orlando being decimated in a nuclear explosion. You don’t have to go into Rapturepalooza worried about it half-stepping as far as the comedy is concerned.

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Pitch Perfect

Given its success at the box office, and the fact that movies about singing, or cheerleading, or whatnot always seem to get sequels, it was probably something of a given that this year’s surprisingly good a cappella movie Pitch Perfect would spawn a franchise. What is a little bit surprising though is that it sounds like it’s going to be getting a proper sequel, with several of the cast members coming back, and not just a straight-to-video farce where some unknown girl from the Disney channel explains to us that she’s Fat Amy’s cousin Chubby Debby, or whatever. The scoop regarding movement on a sequel comes from Movie Web, who sat down with that actor who played the sensitive guy from the first film, Skylar Astin, and had him spill the beans regarding where talk regarding a sequel is. Astin revealed to the site, “I do have a meeting with a Universal representative next week. And I know that Rebel Wilson had hers last weekend. It’s definitely a talking point.” Of course, one big name that Astin left out of his comments is Pitch Perfect’s lead actress, Anna Kendrick. Given the acclaim that she’s received for both her dramatic as well as her comedic work, and the grand possibilities of where her career could be headed very quickly, it would make sense that Kendrick would be the cast member most reticent to agreeing to appear in what might be a chintzy sequel. It will be interesting to see if her […]

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Paranorman Commentary Track

The commentary tracks on animated films are destined to be different beasts than their live-action cousins if only because there’s little opportunity for onscreen performers to contribute. Sure the voice actors can join in, but they’re a minor element of production most likely severely lacking in anecdotes. So that leaves listeners with filmmakers unused to performing directly to an audience. But that doesn’t mean they’re not entertaining. ParaNorman is the only release I recommended buying in this week’s Blu-ray/DVD column, and it’s not difficult to see why. The makers of Coraline have returned with a funny, Amblin-like tale that finds real heart and drama in a story about a young boy who can see and speak with the dead. Norman is shunned by pretty much everyone, but when an evil witch’s curse threatens to raise the dead and destroy the town he becomes an unlikely and unexpected hero. Please note, there are spoilers below, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet skip this and go read my ParaNorman set visit instead.

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Drinking Games

Even though October passed us by almost a month ago, Focus Features has decided to drop its brilliant stop-motion animated film ParaNornman during the Christmas season. Consider it a gift to all of us scary movie fans who can adore this sweet-yet-spooky film in the comfort of our own homes without kids in costumes ringing the doorbell, constantly interrupting to demand candy. Of course, since you’ll be enjoying this film at home, possibly eating the last reserves of your plastic jack-o’-lantern bucket, you can knock back a couple drinks in the process. But go easy on the spirits, considering this movie is good enough to remember without a hangover.

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If you’ve yet to see the season’s bonafide feel-good feature of the season otherwise known as Pitch Perfect, you should bookmark this post, check the film out post-haste, and then return here so that you too can bask in the news that star Anna Kendrick has singed on for another aca-awesome film that will require her to use her very own musical prowess. Good lord! Moviehole reports (via CinemaBlend) that Kendrick is now set to star in director Richard LaGravenese‘s adaptation of Jason Robert Brown’s off-Broadway musical, The Last Five Years. Based in part on Brown’s own love life (to the point that his ex-wife, Theresa O’Neill, threatened legal action due to the play mirroring their struggles a touch too closely), the play centers on a pair of struggling creative types who meet and fall in love – with a twist. The play uses a nifty storytelling trick – “the young woman’s story is told in reverse chronological order (beginning the show at the end of the marriage), and the male’s is told in chronological order (starting just after the couple have first met). The characters did not directly interact except for a wedding song in the middle as their timelines intersect.” Ah, crafty. And sure to come complete with all sort of wrenching emotional connections (they’re falling in love but also falling apart! they are meeting cute and also breaking the hell up! the humanity!).

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Frankenweenie

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that’s taking it easy on this Friday evening. Expect fun, happy thoughts heading your way in the news rundown below… We begin this relaxed Friday evening edition of MNAD with a shot from the Frankenweenie art exhibition currently going down at Disney’s California Adventure. Our friends at ScreenCrave posted some shots from around the gallery. As you know, I was quite fond of Frankenweenie. And I like art shows.

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Pitch Perfect

The good news is that Glee has not ruined a cappella singing-centric entertainment. The better news is that first-time feature director Jason Moore‘s Pitch Perfect nearly resurrects the entire mini-genre, thanks to a game cast and a relentlessly fun energy. Yes, Pitch Perfect is about competitive collegiate a cappella groups that have group names like “The Treblemakers” and yes, there’s a truly unexpected amount of vomit present and yes, one character insists on prefacing nearly all of her sentences with an “a ca-” (“a ca-awesome!” “a ca-what?”), and yes, the whole thing should be just awful and ear-splitting. But it’s not. Pitch Perfect is instead not only a fresh and funny spin on the musical genre, it’s also just damn funny on its own, one of the true comedic gems to come out of the studio system this year (remember how we all doubted 21 Jump Street? It’s like that).

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End of Watch Review

In one sense, End of Watch is just another cop movie, something like the sixth written by filmmaker David Ayer. We’ve seen the valor and corruption seeping into your everyday urban police department writ large countless times before. But through its use of first-person found footage and it’s framing of the story from the point of view of LAPD officers Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Zavala (Michael Peña), Ayer’s film (which he also directed) finds a new way into the old formula. The movie offers a front seat portrait of these men as they traverse the fraught, dangerous terrain of South Central Los Angeles. With Taylor toting a camera for a class project” (he’s working towards a law degree), the officers sporting small recorders on their chests and your everyday squad car cameras offering a POV perspective, the movie offers an unvarnished look at these men on the job. We’re present as they respond to a variety of incidents, talk about everything from their families to the future to their love for Red Bull, and develop the sort of deep-rooted camaraderie that only comes from spending so many long, trying nights together.

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David Ayer on Set of End of Watch

Filmmaker David Ayer seems to really love cops. From the dirty ones to the good-natured kind, Ayer continuously explores the men and women who wear a gun and badge, and then sees how they use that power. With Street Kings, Dark Blue, and Training Day, Ayer showed that power can corrupt certain cops. With End of Watch, the writer/director does the opposite of what he’s known for: portraying good, incorruptible men. It’s not often we see cops this well-intentioned on the big screen. Not a single part of End of Watch delves into police corruption. It’s a real love letter to the force which strays away from certain genre conventions, something Ayer attempts to do when he’s writing solely for himself. Here’s what director David Ayer had to say about the large thematic world of law enforcement, the work-for-hire process, and the style of End of Watch:

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Robert Redford in The Company You Keep

Just last week we reported that Robert Redford’s latest film, The Company You Keep, managed to score a distribution deal before it even played any festivals. Well, the film is gearing up to play Venice and Toronto regardless, so TIFF has released a trailer promoting it. Complete with typewriter sounds and vintage news footage, said trailer starts off by making The Company You Keep look like it’s going to be an authentic, journalistic look at the history of the radical anti-war group The Weather Underground, but then we’re suddenly dumped into present day, and it’s revealed that this is actually going to be a fun-looking chase movie about the last few members of the movement still being on the run from the law. The Company You Keep is full of grizzled old activists/bank robbers, plucky young reporters, plucky young F.B.I. agents, action, intrigue, murder, and a cast that features names like Redford, Susan Sarandon, Shia LaBeouf, Brendan Gleeson, Anna Kendrick, Terrence Howard, Nick Nolte, Sam Elliott, Richard Jenkins, Chris Cooper, Brit Marling, Julie Christie, Stephen Root, and Stanley Tucci.

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published: 04.19.2014
A-
published: 04.19.2014
B+
published: 04.18.2014
C-
published: 04.18.2014
C

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