Anton Yelchin

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Beyond the title’s reference (intentional or otherwise) to the Dylan Thomas poem, it’s hard to say that I was personally very aware of the new Nicolas Cage-led thriller Dying of the Light. In fact, it hasn’t been mentioned on the pages of this site since Cage joined the project in July 2013. But here it is now, a fully realized movie that’s hitting theaters on December 5. And look at that hat. To pass up an opportunity to show you that hat would be a disservice to Cage fans, disrespect to Dylan Thomas and an affront to humanity itself. But wait, there’s more.

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Tribeca Film Festival

Some movies do not seem possible. Their very existence is an absurdity of hubris, their production something of a financial miracle. Or, rather, a financial eccentricity. The largest projects are the ones with the most to prove, disastrous flops like the Korean War epic Inchon financed by the Unification Church or that time Richard Burton played Yugoslav president-for-life Josip Broz Tito. Yet there’s a smaller version of this bizarre passion project, fantasies designed not to stroke the egos of cult leaders or dictators but Hollywood moguls. This time around we are in the hands of writer/director Victor Levin, Emmy-award winning co-executive producer of Mad Men and screenwriter of Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! The film is 5 to 7, a romance of almost unfathomably terrible proportions. The hero is Brian (Anton Yelchin), a young man without any sense of his own enormous privilege. Sure, he’s currently a failed writer. He’s also 24 years old, the son of very wealthy New Yorkers who presumably pay for his Manhattan apartment and, as we learn later on in passing, have already put away enough money for law school just in case. He sits at home all day re-writing his short stories and pasting rejection letters from literary magazines to his wall. The film gives him the luxury of near-constant voice over as the story begins, the first sign that Levin is entirely complicit in the narrative excesses that follow. Brian is the most inherently irritating protagonist of the year, but neither he nor his creator has any inkling thereof.

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Anton Yelchin in ODD THOMAS

If Edgar Wright had sex with an episode of Gilmore Girls and the happy couple gave birth to a child who was repeatedly dropped on its head during its formative years, that offspring just might grow up to become the new Stephen Sommers film, Odd Thomas. Please, allow me to explain. Odd Thomas (Anton Yelchin) is a fry cook in the small Southwestern town of Pico Mundo, but while he likes to keep his life simple and free of clutter like motor vehicles, 401k accounts, and premarital sex, he actually has a fairly complicated secret. He sees dead people. That should be enough for any man, but on occasion Odd also sees fibrous phantoms he calls bodachs that appear in anticipation of pain, suffering, and bloodletting. He starts seeing swarms of them around town, and soon Odd’s investigating a stranger he fears may be planning a devastating attack on his friends and neighbors.

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Odd Thomas

The life of a man named Odd Thomas is bound to be anything but normal. Anton Yelchin, as the titular odd man, is just an average everyday diner cook who can seemingly see otherworldly creatures and conjure up gateways to hell. His paranormal powers get him, along with his trusty gal pal Stormy (Addison Timlin) mixed up in some spooky business in their quiet southwestern town — where apparently every surface is just crawling with ghosts and ghoulies. Based on the Dean Koontz novel of the same name, the supernatural comedy-action-thriller (supromedacthriller?) has been in the works for quite some time, but was delayed indefinitely in July 2013. The film is back for a February release in full force, meaning the clock is ticking to get a trailer up and out. While nearly anything featuring both Willem Dafoe and murderous ghost-demons interacting in the same vicinity usually gets a must-see stamp, based on the (fairly hefty at 2:27) trailer, this one might be getting a pass.

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yelchin

A good horror movie protagonist has to be able to do two things. They have to be likable enough that you actually care about them when they’re put in danger by whatever horrific threat they’re facing down, and they have to project enough vulnerability that you really believe they might not come out of the other end of the story all in one piece. Being a great protagonist in a horror comedy is a little bit more complicated of a job though. Not only do horror comedy heroes have to accomplish both of those tasks, but they also have to be funny, and they have to be able to make the transitions in tone from scary to funny without having the change feel jarring to the audience or without making it feel like these two different aspects of the film are at odds with each other. Horror comedies need a talented actor. A talented actor like, say, an Anton Yelchin. Yelchin proved that he was likable in his first big break starring role, Charlie Bartlett, he proved that he could project vulnerability in his attempt at a romantic drama, Like Crazy, and he even showed that he could mix everything together and be a relatable anchor for a horror comedy in the Fright Night remake he starred in for Craig Gillespie. If there’s one thing that remake did well (and there was), it was casting Yelchin as its protagonist. When you break down the film as a whole though, the […]

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Yelchin:Johnson

The cast of Michael Almereyda’s latest modern update of a Shakespeare work, Cymbeline, keeps swelling with notable names. The casting story on this one started with the news that Ethan Hawke, who also starred in Almereyda’s 2000 version of Hamlet, would be lending his hand in an undisclosed role to this film as well, it kept going with the news that Ed Harris had been brought on to play the title character of the piece, King Cymbeline, and somewhere along the lines Penn Badgley and Milla Jovovich were brought on board as well. That’s a pretty solid lineup already, and Almereyda wasn’t event done yet. The latest casting news, from Screen Daily, is that two more notable names have just been brought on board to round out the cast. Said names are Star Trek’s Anton Yelchin and 21 Jump Street’s Dakota Johnson. Given the amount of actors already signed for this one and the fact that Shakespeare’s original story is kind of complex, figuring out who everybody is playing is something of a confusing endeavor. Let’s do our best to untangle the knot.

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William H. Macy

What is Casting Couch? It’s a voice of truth and honesty in a sea of April Fools’ pranks and lies. Only real casting news here, including what’s next for screen legend Peter Fonda. Our first two bits of news are about actors becoming directors and then giving jobs to other actors. It’s the circle of life, and it moves us all. First up is some news regarding William H. Macy’s directorial debut, a drama with music at its core called Rudderless. THR is reporting that this story about a father who stumbles across some of his dead son’s musical compositions and decides to start a band has just hired the high-powered quartet of Billy Crudup, Anton Yelchin, Selena Gomez, and Laurence Fishburne. They’ll be joining the already-cast Felicity Huffman, as well as Macy himself, as he plans on pulling acting and directing double duty. Do you think that means we could get to hear him sing too?

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Diane Kruger and Anton Yelchin

Ever since Diane Kruger stole everyone’s hearts in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds back in 2009, she’s just been doing far too many French films and not nearly enough English language work. It’s time they lent her back. They’ve been bogarting her. And Anton Yelchin, well he’s been spending far too much of his time starring in rehashes of properties from decades ago and providing voices for children’s movies. It’s high time he makes us all tear up in another relationship drama, like he did with Like Crazy. It’s good news for everyone, then, that THR is reporting the duo will soon be teaming up for a project called 5 to 7, which is both an indie romance as well as a movie that was written and will be directed by a guy who speaks English. The good news doesn’t stop there though, because that English-speaking guy isn’t just some jerk off the street. No, 5 to 7 is the latest work of Victor Levin, a creative type so talented that he’s been spending the last couple years serving as a writer and producer on TV’s Mad Men (you know, the Mad Men that was already the best show on television, but then just topped itself with its stellar season 5). Sure, he also wrote a romantic comedy called Win a Date With Tad Hamilton! back in 2004 that I don’t think anybody remembers much or liked all that well, but let’s focus on the positive: Mad Men!

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Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation have just announced that production has kicked off on their inevitable “live-action/computer animated hybrid 3Dfamily comedy” sequel to last year’s smash hit, The Smurfs. The Smurfs 2 brings back all of the cast from the first film, including Neil Patrick Harris as Patrick Winslow, Jayma Mays as Grace Winslow, Sofia Vergara as Odile, Hank Azaria as Gargamel, Katy Perry as Smurfette, Jonathan Winters as Papa Smurf, Alan Cumming as Gutsy, Fred Armisen as Brainy, George Lopez as Grouchy, and Anton Yelchin as Clumsy. Director Raja Gosnell is also back behind the camera. Screenwriters J. David Stem, David N. Weiss, Jay Scherick, and David Ronn are also returning, along with a newcomer to the Smurfs franchise, Karey Kirkpatrick (James and the Giant Peach, Chicken Run, Charlotte’s Web), proving that it takes five screenwriters to write something this unoriginal. The film will have some new faces, however, both on the human and the blue side. Brendan Gleeson joins the cast as Patrick ‘s stepfather, along with Christina Ricci and JB Smoove, who will voice “new Smurf-like naughty characters,” Vexy and Hackus. Uh oh, just “Smurf-like“?

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Anton Yelchin

Sometime around Cannes last year we reported that Elizabeth Olsen and Dakota Fanning would be starring in a new movie by first time director Naomi Foner called Very Good Girls. It’s a story that Foner penned about a couple of young girls who have made a pact to lose their virginities, who then come into conflict with each other when they fall in love with the same “charismatic street artist.” All these months later it appears that this film is finally gearing up to happen, and there’s some news about who has been cast to play the deadbeat object of their misguided affections. No, it’s not the guy who played Nick from Family Ties like I suggested originally, Foner and company went in a completely different direction. According to a report from Deadline Leningrad, curly-headed manic pixie dream boy Anton Yelchin is in final negotiations to take the role. Those that saw him in last year’s Like Crazy know that Yelchin is no stranger to adeptly playing young love related melodrama, and the kid is just so cheek-pinchingly cute… so I guess this casting was kind of a no-brainer. There’s no telling what Foner is going to be able to deliver as a director, but I now find myself looking forward to this one on the strength of the cast alone. I hope it’s a story interesting enough to deserve so many talented young actors teaming up.

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This year’s Young Hollywood panel (presented by the Los Angeles Times) brought together rising stars Anton Yelchin, Evan Rachel Wood, Armie Hammer and Kirsten Dunst to discuss how they got started in acting, what it is like working with impressive (and at times intimidating) directors like Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen and David Fincher and how their success is shaping their careers. Hammer and Dunst are each featured in films screening at the festival (J. Edgar and Melancholia, respectively) with Hammer as Edgar’s right-hand man and Dunst as a depressed bride. Yelchin and Wood have been getting attention for their performances as one half of a long distance relationship in Like Crazy and the tempting intern who may undo an entire presidential campaign in The Ides of March. The four came together Friday night (with Hammer fresh off the premiere of J. Edgar the night before) and there was a palpable energy between them as they would get so excited or intrigued by another person’s answer it would sometimes feel like we were simply overhearing a conversation between new friends. It was interesting to see Hammer surrounded by three actors who have been doing this since they were young (as he is just getting started in his career) and how he was just as engaged in their answers as the audience, asking which project they would be referring to in a story or simply being shocked over hearing about directors who preferred to do scenes in a single take.

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Watching Like Crazy was a frustrating experience for me. The whole time I was watching the film, I felt as if I should have been enjoying it much more than I actually was. Visually, the film is both intimate and gorgeous, kind of like watching a home movie if your dad was a virtuoso filmmaker. The performances are all strong, from top to bottom. But despite all of the obvious talent on the screen, I just couldn’t find myself connecting to the story or the characters as they were crafted. Maybe I’m not much of a romantic, but I found the relationship woes of the main characters Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and Anna (Felicity Jones) to be less than compelling. In fact, they were pretty frustrating to get through. Who were these kids and why should I care that they treat their personal lives like the most important things in the world? We’re not so much introduced to Jacob and Anna as we watch as they’re introduced to each other. The film opens with their meeting in a college course in which Anna is a student and Jacob a teacher’s aid, followed by Anna’s bold decision to leave a note declaring her infatuation under Jacob’s windshield wiper, and the stilted conversation and stolen glances of their first date. The getting-to-know-you sequence is cute, but it doesn’t last long. Soon we’re informed through montage (we’re informed of a lot of things through montage in this film) that the two kids are now very […]

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr flexes his rippling muscles and sets out to live a warrior lifestyle, just like Jason Momoa in Conan the O’Barbarian. But before he can do that, he has to drive a stake through his neighbor’s heart, since he’s certain he lives next door to a vampire. What else could all those sparkles be about? Meanwhile, he sends his kids off to a dangerous 3D, Aroma-Vision mission, hoping they can make it as real spy kids so they can teach him to put on a fake British accent and woo a not-quite-British Anne Hathaway.

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I am likely one of very few critics that sat down to watch Craig Gillespie’s Fright Night having not seen Tom Holland’s 1985 original first, but upon doing so after, feel I’ve unintentionally done myself a great service. Now that I’ve seen it, the original is a great film; Chris Sarandon’s Jerry Dandrige and Roddy McDowall’s Peter Vincent are uniquely them, the tone and pace a perfect example of eighties horror done right – smart and campy all at once. Like most re-makes/re-imaginings, if the original felt good and was a part of my film collage growing up, it would have colored my perception of the new offering by default. This certainly isn’t bad, but it’s not always the best way to approach something new. I am glad then that in putting the cart before the horse, I was able to appreciate and have a good bit of fun with this latest offering.

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I visited the set of the new Fright Night movie last September and wrote about the experience here. That post covers my thoughts on the whole process, but it’s not all I have to report. No siree, while I was there several members of the cast and crew took time out of their clearly busy schedule to chat with the press. Unheard of you say? It’s true! And here are some words to prove it from the likes of Anton Yelchin and director Craig Gillespie! [These are excerpts from group interviews conducted during the set visit.] Be sure to check out all of our Fright Night coverage here.

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I visited the set of the new Fright Night movie last September and wrote about the experience here. That post covers my thoughts on the whole process, but it’s not all I have to report. No siree, while I was there several members of the cast and crew took time out of their clearly busy schedule to chat with the press. Unheard of you say? It’s true! And here are some words to prove it from the likes of Colin Farrell and Imogen Poots! [These are excerpts from group interviews conducted during the set visit.] Be sure to check out all of our Fright Night coverage here.

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I visited the set of the new Fright Night movie last September and wrote (perhaps a bit too honestly) about the experience here. That post covers my thoughts on the whole process, but it’s not all I have to report. No siree, while I was there several members of the cast and crew took time out of their clearly busy schedule to chat with the press. Unheard of you say? It’s true! And here are some words to prove it from the likes of screenwriter Marti Noxon and producer Michael De Luca. [These are excerpts from group interviews conducted during the set visit.] Be sure to check out all of our Fright Night coverage here.

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I visited the set of the new Fright Night movie last September and wrote (perhaps a bit too honestly) about the experience here. That post covers my thoughts on the whole process, but it’s not all I have to report. No siree, while I was there several members of the cast and crew took time out of their clearly busy schedule to chat with the press. Unheard of you say? It’s true! And here are some words to prove it from the likes of special effects guru Howard Berger and producer Alison Rosenzweig. [These are excerpts from group interviews conducted during the set visit.] Be sure to check out all of our Fright Night coverage here.

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Sundance veteran Drake Doremus returned to Park City this year with a very different film than 2010’s Douchebag. For his 2011 entry, Doremus brought along Like Crazy, a sensitive and romantic film that doesn’t rely on anyone taking their shirt off or ludicrous meet-cutes or casts packed with tween pop stars to make it work. I saw the film back in January at Sundance, and it is one of two romantic dramedies with a young, hip cast from the festival that has stuck in my mind these many months. The other one, the Freddie Highmore-starring The Art of Getting By (retitled from its Sundance name, Homework) has remained in my brain mainly due to how much I hated it. It’s frowned upon to spit when speaking about films, but that’s been the best way I’ve found to physically express how terrible that movie was, and how emotionally disingenuous. On the flipside, there was Doremus’s Like Crazy, which stars Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones (with co-starring appearances by Jennifer Lawrence and Charlie Bewley). Not to get emotional over here (because, you know, gross), but Like Crazy is one of the best films about long distance relationships I’ve ever seen (and I know from long distance relationships).

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It’s September of last year and I’m standing in a hallway at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Albuquerque, New Mexico, cursing at the door to my room. It’s one of those ubiquitous card key locks, and I’m in no mood for a third trek down the long hall, down the glass elevator, and back to the front desk to admit once again that I’m apparently an idiot who can’t open a door. It’s a brilliant start to my Fright Night press visit that I’m only a part of due to a scheduling conflict elsewhere on the FSR team, and when combined with my already cynical view of the whole set visit concept it hardly bodes well for the next few days. I just don’t see the appeal of it all for anyone aside from the studio and the writer. The studio gets some relatively cheap marketing, the writer gets a free trip, free hotel, and a chance to hobnob with the talent, and the readers get… what? Interview quotes that will be repeated on a dozen different web sites? A puff piece about how awesome the final movie is going to be? Clearly, I’m the wrong person for this particular assignment.

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published: 11.26.2014
B
published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+


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