Anna Kendrick

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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Robert Redford in The Company You Keep

The latest directorial effort from screen legend Robert Redford, The Company You Keep, was all set to make a big splash and impress distributors at the upcoming deal-making feeding grounds that are the Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals, but a new development is making it look like the film’s screenings at those fests are going to come off as something of an afterthought. If you’ve got a used car that you need to get rid of, or maybe some old exercise equipment lying around that you’ve been thinking of putting on eBay, then maybe you should think of having Redford write the ad copy for you, because it seems that he’s something of a salesman. THR is reporting that the director, along with his fellow producers Nicolas Chartier and Bill Holderman, have already struck a deal with Sony Pictures Classics to handle all U.S. distributions rights for the film. Based on a book by Neil Gordon, The Company You Keep stars Redford himself as a former Weather Underground militant, wanted for bank robbery and murder, who gets exposed decades after his crimes by a meddling young reporter (as played by Shia LaBeouf).

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Editor’s note: With FSR favorite ParaNorman opening today, we thought it was only appropriate to re-post our very special set visit from the film, originally posted on May 21, 2012. I recently visited a nondescript building outside Portland, Oregon that would feel right at home in any corporate office park in America. Nothing about the bland, uninteresting exterior even hinted at what to expect beyond the front doors. There’s no sign outside to tell you where you are. No iconic sculptures alluding to what they do inside. Nothing at all that even hints at the harmonious blend of magic and technology within. But make no mistake, what LAIKA Studios is hiding inside those four generic-looking walls is nothing short of a revolution in film production…a revolution 115 years in the making. LAIKA is the studio behind 2009’s critical and commercial hit, Coraline, a film that utilized creepy but beautiful stop-motion puppetry to tell Neil Gaiman’s dark childhood fable. Their follow-up feature is an original work called ParaNorman. It’s an Amblin-like tale of a small New England town, a very special boy who can see and talk with the dead, and a zombie uprising that threatens to destroy them all. And yes, it’s a comedy. Keep reading for a peek behind the scenes of LAIKA Studios’ upcoming production, ParaNorman, and their secret, high-tech weapon…Rapid Prototype 3D printers.

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“An episode of Scooby-Doo directed by Sam Raimi” is how directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell describe ParaNorman. Their horror-comedy wears its influences proudly. From the John Hughes-esque ensemble to Jon Brion‘s whimsical take on a John Carpenter score, it’s all obvious. Tonally, ParaNorman doesn’t share much in common with LAIKA Studio’s Coraline, a far darker movie. And not only is ParaNorman different from Henry Selick’s film in content, but also in terms of production. Butler and Fell didn’t want to approach ParaNorman as a stop-motion picture, as they saw the technical restrictions in going that route. Instead, they approached the film as if it was live-action, and it shows in the film’s scope and playful camerawork. According to Butler and Fell, they didn’t want to play by the rules of stop-motion. Here’s what ParaNorman directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell had to say about the film’s epic production, how The French Connection and Ronin influenced their zombie car chase, and the future of stop-motion:

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Pitch Perfect

Stop it, Anna Kendrick. Just stop it. You’re in danger of making everyone on Earth fall in love with you and/or want to be your best friend forever. And this? This is just too much. This is simply untoward. First, you go ahead and decide to star in a film that’s about college a capella groups. Then you apparently actually sing in the film (imagine that!). Then you sing no less than Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” in an empty pool and allow that clip to be released on the Internet for everyone to see, adore, and play on repeat. Stop it. Or just become my best friend forever. Okay? Seems fair. We might have to wait a couple more months to see Kendrick as awkward-college-freshman-turned-reluctant-a-capella-star Beca in Pitch Perfect but, until then, we have this unthinkably charming clip of Kendrick and her cohorts singing songs about S-E-X in an empty pool. Good lord!

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It seems as if Anna Kendrick is on a mission to prove to us that she’s the most versatile, multi-talented actress working in Hollywood today. Not just content to turn heads and get an Oscar nomination for her performance in Up In the Air, Kendrick has also been a tween idol in the Twilight series, made us laugh in the strange and hyper-stylized Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, straddled the line between comedy and jerking tears in 50/50, and she’s even set to prove that she can sing in the upcoming Pitch Perfect. When all is said and done, she will have appeared in five films over the course of this calendar year, and all signs point to the fact that she won’t be slowing down any time soon. Case in point, Deadline Deering has word of a new project that has scooped her up as its star, an indie comedy going by the name of Drinking Buddies. Set to be largely improvised and shot in Chicago later this summer, Drinking Buddies stars Kendrick and Ron Livingston (Office Space) in a story that’s said to be about a “fun and flirtatious friendship that goes off the rails.” It’s being directed by king of the micro-budget comedy, Joe Swanberg (Hannah Takes the Stairs, Nights and Weekends), and it will also star Olivia Wilde (that chick from your dreams) and Jake M. Johnson (New Girl, Safety Not Guaranteed) in undisclosed roles.

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Pitch Perfect

If we’re being honest with ourselves and one another, we can all just admit to having both seen and enjoyed an episode of Glee at one point. For some, the enjoyment lasted beyond one episode. But the feeling is the same, and it’s not hard to understand why those darn kids love to watch singing, dancing stereotypes fight with the full force of school pride. Plus, those songs are catchy. It’s all part of what makes Pitch Perfect an interesting little project. That, and the fact that it’s led by Up in the Air star Anna Kendrick, who can apparently sing and rap and play the bad girl who just changed schools and it looking to find her way (even after she’s found her rape whistle). According to this first trailer, Beca (Kendrick) finds her way into an a cappella group performing girls-against-boys style all the way to Regionals, or something along those lines. With a script from 30 Rock writer Kay Cannon, there’s a palpable self-aware element shown off in the trailer. This movie knows that it’s premise is ridiculous, and it shall subvert at all turns. Mostly in the form of Rebel Wilson, who played one of the creepy roommates in Bridesmaids. Go ahead, watch the trailer and tell me you didn’t get a few laughs out of her performance.

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Pregnancy and childbirth are nothing new. In fact, there are few things less new than humans reproducing. It’s been done before. But Kirk Jones’ What to Expect When You’re Expecting accurately captures the inherent selfishness of expecting parents,and their individual “journeys” to the delivery room (and beyond). Unfortunately, even when gifted with a large, mostly eager cast, Jones is also saddled with a script from Shauna Cross and Heather Hach (working off of Heidi Murkoff‘s guidebook of the same name) that is deeply uninterested in providing much variety in their work. The effect is simple one – the film itself is deeply uninteresting. While What to Expect continually reminds its viewers that pregnancy and childbirth are miracles, unique and thrilling gifts, Cross and Hach have concocted one of the most bland, basic, and unadventurous scripts in recent memory.

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According to a press release, CBS Films has rounded up a fantastic cast for the upcoming movie Get A Job – which taps into the zeitgeist with frightening precision to tell the story of a group of college graduates struggling to find work alongside a father who is, surprise, also trying to find work. Why is it so exciting? For one, Bryan Cranston will be playing that father. For two, it’s being directed by Dylan Kidd – who may not be a household name, but should be after his hip indie flick Roger Dodger which paired a young Jesse Eisenberg with a brilliant Campbell Scott. For three, the rest of the cast features Anna Kendrick, Miles Teller (Rabbit Hole, Project X, How’s that for diversity?), Alison Brie, Brandon T. Jackson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Nick Braun, and comedian Jay Pharaoh. That’s three great reasons to get excited about this project. Some are even multi-partite. That’s how serious this is. Also, Pharaoh’s character is named Skeezy D, so there is clearly genius at work here. Great to see CBS Films pull something excellent out of the hat here.

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Who is the Nielson Family?

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that is celebrating Monday Funday with what amounts to a bunch of shenanigans. Don’t worry though, we’ve slipped in at least one legitimate piece of news. We’ll get to that shortly. We begin tonight with something found a few weeks ago via Warming Glow, where an image from the Twitter account of Charley Koontz, best known as Fat Neil on Community, shows that Executive Producer Dan Harmon is just as bitter about Community‘s ratings as the rest of us. Seriously, who is the Nielsen Family? In other news, I hope Dan Harmon never changes.

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Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has a pretty good life. He works in Seattle as a producer for a public radio station, his best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen) is always good for a laugh, he lives happily with his girlfriend Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard), and best of all, he’s exceptionally healthy. An odd back pain sends Adam to the doctor where he discovers he’s suffering from a late stage tumor. The diagnosis shocks him at first as he’s spent considerable time exercising, eating healthy, and avoiding alcohol and drugs, but he quickly moves to anger…because he’s spent considerable time exercising, eating healthy, and avoiding alcohol and drugs. His tumor is a rare type, and while he weighs his options including chemotherapy and surgery he discovers the unofficial odds on his survival over the next few months are fifty-fifty. There’s a one in two chance he’ll be dead before his next birthday. That pretty good life soon collapses around him as he’s forced to face the reality of both his life and death. His journey will expose certain truths about himself, his family and friends, and even a few strangers, and it might even give him a new pick-up line for the ladies… Imagine if Funny People was a comedy. Then imagine it was filled with wit, heart, and an honesty about the relationships we form throughout our lives. Now stop imagining, because that movie you’re picturing is 50/50.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr is all giddy because apparently Joseph Gordon-Levitt has decided to copy his signature hairstyle. Undeterred by folks telling him Gordon-Levitt shaved his head to play the role in 50/50, Kevin tries to lobby other Hollywood actors to copy his image. Unfortunately, What’s Your Number? star Chris Evans refuses to grow a huge belly and Dream House star Daniel Craig just won’t latch onto Kevin’s charming American accent.

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You know how that show Glee came out, focused on a bunch of teenage melodrama and cheesy stage show covers of popular music, and then became ridiculously successful? Well, Universal caught wind of that too, and now they’re looking to distribute a new film called Pitch Perfect, which will focus on the world of college level a cappella groups. Just think of it as Glee, the college years. The film is based off a non-fiction book that was written by GQ’s Mickey Rapkin and will be directed by Jason Moore who, in addition to being a stage director, has directed episodes of TV shows like Dawson’s Creek, Everwood, and One Tree Hill. The story follows a goth girl who attends the same college where her father teaches (which is extremely embarrassing for a goth girl), and who has a hard time adjusting to college life, until she discovers she has a great voice and then becomes the secret weapon of the school’s female a cappella group. Being a red-blooded American male, everything I’ve just written about this movie pretty much makes my blood run cold. Forget monster movies, slashers, and what have you; this could possibly be the set-up for the most terrifying horror movie ever conceived of. Except for one little detail that keeps me from writing this whole project off as simple schlock being peddled to teenage girls: Anna Kendrick is in negotiations to play the goth girl (do goth girls even exist anymore? I’m out of the […]

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If you think that making a Space Invaders movie is the most desperate attempt Hollywood has made to tie a new film to a pre-existing property lately, you might have need to think again. Making headlines in the film world recently has been the upcoming movie What to Expect When You’re Expecting, which is a feature film adaptation of a pregnancy manual by Heidi Murkoff. So many actresses have been announced for this thing, one at a time, that it’s starting to reach Hunger Games levels of casting announcement fatigue. Perhaps appropriately enough, their latest addition to the cast is an actress who will be appearing in The Hunger Games as well. Elizabeth Banks is said to be joining the film as a first time mother who has already built an empire writing books about her breast-feeding methods. There is some indication that despite her so-called expertise, the experience of actually having a child herself is one that she’s not ready for. Banks will be joining a cast that already includes Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Brooklyn Decker, and Anna Kendrick. The film is being directed by Waking Ned Devine’s Kirk Jones, from a script originally by Heather Hach and re-written by Shauna Cross. I can’t say that this is one that I’m looking forward to, but the inclusion of quality actresses like Banks and Kendrick is starting to make it look like it could have some potential. We shall see. [Coming Soon]

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