Based On a True Story

Richard Kelly’s first feature film, Donnie Darko, was pretty off the wall, and a little bit of a mess, but generally it was well-liked by most people who saw it. His next couple of films, Southland Tales and The Box, however, saw Kelly take his ambitions even further, and resulted in films so strange and confusing that not many people could get behind them. Then you have Nicolas Cage, who’s pretty much the king of being so strange and confusing that people can’t get behind him. Seeing as he’s an ambitious artist much like Kelly, people have called Cage’s performances ill-conceived, awkward, or just plain awful, but nobody has ever accused him of being boring. And every once in a while you get that one that he knocks completely out of the park. Kelly and Cage are two combustible creative elements, so, even if the results turn out awful, it should still be great fun to see what they produce when they get together. In what may be the most terrifying actor/director combination since Cage teamed up with Werner Herzog, Variety is reporting that Cage and Kelly are all set to collaborate on a crime thriller called Amicus.

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Michael Shannon in The Iceman

t’s been a big week for Michael Shannon. Just seven days ago his latest film, Premium Rush, hit theaters and earned the man heaps of critical praise for his quirky, Dick Tracy villain performance as a dirty cop; and now the trailer for his latest starring vehicle, The Iceman, has hit the net. This is big news because, oh boy, does this true telling of the life of contract killer Richard Kuklinski look like it’s going to be a doozy. Detailing the life of a hired gun all the way from the late ’60s to the early ’80s, The Iceman doesn’t just give Shannon a chance to do that intense, conflicted, rolling sea of emotions just beneath the surface of his skin thing that he does so well, it also gives him the opportunity to experiment with all sorts of ridiculous facial hair combinations. Oh wait, and who’s that? Why, it’s Captain America himself, Chris Evans, and his sleazy Lemmy beard looks like it wants to get in on the action too.

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If you thought that the last scene in Kathryn Bigelow’s legendary bank-robbing-surfers movie Point Break was the coolest presentation of big wave riding that was ever going to be put on film…well, you were probably right. But just because it was the best word doesn’t mean it has to be the last word. So now we’ve got Chasing Mavericks, a Gerard Butler- and Jonny Weston-starring film that tells the true story of how surfing legend Jay Moriarty learned to ride a board on top of ridiculously big walls of water. Like most true stories about an underdog chasing an impossible dream, Chasing Mavericks looks pretty cheesy. All of the standard tropes are there: the tenuous relationship with an initially gruff mentor, the training montage sequences, the budding romance with an energetic blonde. But, before you dismiss this movie outright and go watch The Karate Kid for the thousandth time, note that there are a couple reasons why you might want to give it a chance.

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If we were all to make lists of the young faces in Hollywood who are clearly destined for acting greatness, chances are that Mia Wasikowska’s name would appear near the top of most. From her coming-of-age turn in The Kids Are All Right, to her period work in Jane Eyre, to the mountains of box office business she did with Alice in Wonderland, Wasikowska is an actress who has shown limitless potential up to this point. It’s not hard to imagine that if she stays her current course, she’s bound to become one of those actresses who has a number of gold statues sitting up on her mantle by the time she decides to call it quits. So it’s with great interest that we follow the next few crucial steps that she takes on her career journey, and it just so happens some news on a new project the actress has signed on for has come out of Cannes today. Variety is reporting that Wasikowska has signed to star in Tracks, an adaptation of the memoirs of Robyn Davidson that’s set to be helmed by The Painted Veil and Stone director John Curran. Davidson’s memoirs, of the same title as this adaptation, have become pretty beloved since their mid-90s publication. Amazon describes her book by saying, “A cult classic with an ever-growing audience, ‘Tracks’ is the brilliantly written and frequently hilarious account of a young woman’s odyssey through the deserts of Australia, with no one but her dog and four […]

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Director Roman Polanski is no stranger to scandals, so it should come as no surprise that his next project will cover a real-life event that was very scandalous. The subject matter in question is the infamous Dreyfus affair, which doesn’t have anything to do with Richard Dreyfus’ married life, but instead involves a Jewish Captain of the French army named Alfred Dreyfus. You see, back in 1894 Dreyfus faced court martial because of accusations that he had been passing secrets to the Germans. After being found guilty, he was sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island – but that’s not where his story stops. It continues when the head of French counter-intelligence, Colonel Georges Picquart, realizes that the real traitor is still at large and attempts to prove as much. His efforts lead to clashes with superior officers, framings for crimes he didn’t commit, and, eventually, his own imprisonment. Strange things were afoot at the Circle K. Eventually Dreyfus was cleared of all charges and released, but not until he had endured 12 years of investigations, media attention, and imprisonment.

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The upcoming movie Kill Your Darlings will look at the relationship between beat authors Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, and the man who introduced them, Lucien Carr. It was a relationship that reportedly began with murder, as soon after the three became friends Carr was implicated in the killing of another man named David Kammerer, and the famous authors found themselves caught in the middle of all the drama. Sounds like a saucy little story, especially with the “based on true events” factor that it has working for it. But perhaps even more exciting than the murder aspects of this story is the cast that it is now being assembled to bring it to life. The first casting announcement was that Daniel Radcliffe would be shrugging off his wizarding robe and branching out in another direction to portray Ginsberg. The idea of watching Radcliffe do something so different could have been enough to sell people on this movie alone, but some new casting details have surfaced that add to the anticipation. According to a report from Variety, not only has the Kerouac role been filled by Boardwalk Empire’s Jack Huston, and the Carr role filled by In Treatment’s Dane DeHaan, but Martha Marcy May Marlene’s breakout star Elizabeth Olsen has signed on as well. She’ll be playing Edie Parker, who was an art student and a girlfriend of Kerouac’s.

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In Oranges and Sunshine, Emily Watson brings her Oscar-nominee-worthy acting to a leading role that sees her investigating a decades-old crime perpetrated en masse by a religious order. That crime? The conning and subsequent deportation of thousands of children to work camps in Australia. What’s most harrowing about the story is that it’s true. Watson plays Margaret Humphreys, the social worker who uncovered the scandal, shined a light on it, and worked to reunite now-adult children with their families. She’s joined by Hugo Weaving and David Wenham, and the trailer looks absolutely gripping:

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Dominic Cooper is pulling double duty for Lee Tamahori’s forthcoming film about an Iraqi man forced to become a look-alike (or fiday) for Uday Hussein. The first trailer for The Devil’s Double feels a lot like Scarface, right down to the scantily clad women and blow. It’s definitely got an energy to it. Check it out for yourself:

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Conviction, the story of a man falsely accused of murder and the sister that puts herself through law school to defend him, is one of those fall films that will inevitably be labeled as “Oscar bait.” That’s as unfair as it is with most cases. This isn’t the overwrought drama that it may seem or the one that those hilarious parody trailers poke fun at. In fact, it’s fairly subdued and strays away from sugarcoating. Betty Anne Waters isn’t portrayed as a total hero, but instead, almost obsessive and delusional. Kenny Waters isn’t shown as a boy scout and you could buy him actually killing someone in the film. They’re shown as good people, but not without their not-so-appealing flaws. This could’ve been a Hallmark film through and through, but thankfully, most of it isn’t played with the subtlety of a jackhammer. It’s not heavy and it’s not schmaltzy. It’s always a surprise to see small (female driven, especially) dramas like this get made, and from what director Tony Goldwyn says about the hardship of getting financing, it’s a shock this even made it to the screen. Here’s what Goldwyn and star Sam Rockwell had to say about the long process of getting the film made, avoiding melodrama, and keeping things raw:

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