Ben Foster

Foster as Armstrong

Empire has been so kind as to give us the first look at Ben Foster as cycling legend and lying liar who lies, Lance Armstrong, in the still-untitled biopic directed by Stephen Frears. Personally, I like 2Fast 2Armstrong, but I don’t think I’ll be consulted about this decision. The film is one of several Armstrong projects in the works right now, not to be confused with Alex Gibney’s documentary The Armstrong Lie, or that one with Bradley Cooper. Filming only just began on October 18, but here Foster is already in his finest spandex, gunning it through a race as the crowd cheers him on. Pretty spot-on resemblance, no? Armstrong, of course, won the Tour de France seven consecutive times before being stripped of his titles for doping. It’s unclear which race this image depicts, but those smiling fans aren’t going to be too happy for much longer.

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KillYourDarlings_still1

Editor’s note: Our review of Kill Your Darlings originally ran during this year’s Sundance Film Festival, but we’re re-posting it as the film opens today in theatrical release. In Kill Your Darlings, Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) is an aspiring writer but one that is trapped under the weight of his successful poet father (portrayed with a reserved performance from the usually comedic David Cross) and his mentally unstable mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh). When Allen gets into Columbia, his father encourages him to go and become the writer he has always longed to be. But in his first poetry class, Allen rubs his professor the wrong way when he questions why poems have to rhyme and follow a certain structure. In doing so, he also catches the eye of one of his fellow students, Lucien “Lu” Carr (Dane DeHaan). Allen makes his way down to his room one night and the two share a drink and begin talking about poetry and writing. It is the first time we see Allen truly light up inside, talking about something he is so passionate about with someone who understands him. Lu takes him downtown to a party at the house of his friend David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall), and as Allen enters he proclaims, “Allen in Wonderland.” And it is true, as we watch him suddenly enter a word full of people who think like him but also act on it, writing, drinking, and creating.

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Aint Them Bodies Saints

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints isn’t a Terrence Malick knockoff. Whenever a movie has beautiful landscape shots or characters talking with a musical quality, Malick’s name is the first one to appear in comparison, but writer/director David Lowery‘s Sundance darling bares little similarity to Malick’s work. This isn’t a story of criminals wildly in love, but of a man, Bob (Casey Affleck), trying to return to his lover and former partner in crime, Ruth (Rooney Mara). With the exception of the film’s opening, Lowery doesn’t show any of the big scenes you expect from that plot synopsis: Bob escaping from jail; getting into a car chase with the coppers; or finding himself in a shootout. The film starts with a bang, but as Lowery puts it, he wanted to focus on what came after that bang.

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Aint Them Bodies Saints

Editor’s note: Allison’s review originally ran during this year’s Sundance Film Festival, but we’re re-running it as the film opens in limited theatrical release this weekend. Bob (Casey Affleck) and Ruth (Rooney Mara) are hopelessly in love. Even when they fight, they cannot help but fall back into each other’s arms with Bob reminding Ruth he will always follow her, always be with her. But with Bob down on his luck, a bad decision and a few gun shots have him headed off to jail, leaving Ruth without her husband and a baby on the way. Despite this turn of events, Bob and Ruth never give up on each other, a fact made achingly clear from the way they cling to each other even as Bob is being taken away. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints starts where most heist stories end, showing audiences what happens when the dust settles and the “bad guys” are put away. Skipping ahead four years, Ruth’s daughter, Sylvie, is now grown and the two are now living a quiet life on their own. Bob still writes to Ruth, and she keeps every letter, but beyond that Ruth has not seen him since that faithful day, and Sylvie has never laid eyes on her own father. While there are a few men looking out for Ruth and Sylvie, Officer Patrick Wheeler (Ben Foster) has clearly taken a particular interest in the two. Ironically, Patrick is the officer who was gunned down, which then lead to Bob’s arrest, but it is […]

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lonesurvivor

Mark Wahlberg is continuing his grand tour of racking up macho roles by now playing a Navy SEAL in Peter Berg’s Lone Survivor. Did you know that these men are heroes? Because the very literal, somber rendition of David Bowie’s “Heroes” playing in the background of the trailer that seems to be stuck on the part where he says “heroes” will remind you if you’ve forgotten. Lone Survivor tells the true story of the failed 2005 Navy mission “Operation Red Wings,” in which a four-man team headed to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to hunt down Taliban leader Ahmad Shah. I hate to be the one to point out a spoiler, but I’m pretty sure only one of them survives. The foursome is played by scruffed-up versions of Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster. Eric Bana also stars. For fans of war tales or male bonding to the sweet, dulcet sounds of Peter Gabriel (who isn’t?), Lone Survivor is probably going to be a hit. But otherwise, it seems like just another war movie to add to the pile.

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Ben Foster

It’s not a great time to be Lance Armstrong (now that he’s admitted to doping and been banned from competitive cycling), but it’ll probably get worse when all those “Lance Armstrong doping scandal” movies start coming out. Sony Pictures Classics have a documentary, The Armstrong Lie releasing soon. On the biopic front, Paramount and J.J. Abrams have teamed up for their own film, based off of Juliet Macur’s book, Cycle of Lies: The Fall of Lance Armstrong. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. and Jay Roach have their own film planned. Now the list grows to four Lance Armstrong films, this one coming from Working Title Pictures, with Stephen Frears (of High Fidelity and The Queen) slated to direct. Although it’s the newcomer to this ever-expanding group of potential Armstrong films, it may actually be the first to see release (outside of The Armstrong Lie, which is already in the can). Deadline reports that the film may begin shooting as early as this fall, and that Ben Foster, of this year’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and Kill Your Darlings, is in final talks to star. John Hodge, writer of Trainspotting, has screenplay duties. Is it likely that all four movies will actually be released? Probably not. And with Frears’ film already raring to go, it looks like Abrams and Roach are the most likely casualties. That’s probably good news for filmgoers. And for Lance Armstrong.

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Ben Foster

While we don’t typically celebrate when two talented actors leave a film, when it comes to Adam Rapp‘s Red Light Winter, the loss of Mark Ruffalo and Billy Crudup is actually a good thing. Variety reports that, while Crudup’s role still remains uncast, Ben Foster is now attached to star in the role that was previously Ruffalo’s, and his involvement with the film has given it a push to filming sooner rather than later. Ruffalo’s involvement with the film (which playwright and filmmaker Rapp will both write and direct) was first rumored way back in the spring of 2011, but it was always something that was on the horizon for him, not of immediate import. With Foster now set for one of three lead roles, the production is reportedly looking to start filming in December or January. Rapp’s play of the same name centers on a pair of college buddies (Matt and Davis) who hit their thirties and attempt to reconnect with each other by traveling together from New York City to Amsterdam to whoop it up in ways perhaps better suited for younger men. Along the way, the two get caught up in an unexpected love triangle with a “window prostitute” (set to be played by Kirsten Dunst), which unearths some of the fissures in their damaged relationship). It’s bleak, dark, soul-searching stuff.

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Eric Bana in Lone Survivor

Though there weren’t many people out there who appreciated Peter Berg’s recent board game cash-in, Battleship, he was generally a well-regarded director before he laid that one on us, so there should still be interest out there for what he’s doing next. Especially since he’s already assembled a fairly impressive cast for it. The film is called Lone Survivor, and it tells the true story of a Navy SEAL mission in Afghanistan gone bad, as adapted from the biography of soldier Marcus Luttrell. While on a reconnaissance mission along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, Luttrell and three of his fellow SEALs made a fatal error. After showing a bit of compassion and letting an old man and three boys who came upon them walk away, they soon became victims of a Taliban ambush, which took the lives of every member of the team other than Luttrell, the titular lone survivor.

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360 Movie 2012

Director Fernando Meirelles‘s career is taking a quick and dumbfounding fall. After giving us arguably one of the greatest films of the modern era, City of God, and a satisfying follow up with The Constant Gardener, Meirelles has fallen into misery porn-level drama which would even make a fellow character executioner like Alejandro Iñárritu cringe at the ridiculous obstacles the characters in 360 are forced to stumble through. At a near-two hours, Meirelles’s ensemble piece becomes an astonishingly immersive experience, solely in the way it puts the audience in the uncomfortable and dull state a few of its characters are stuck in. Those characters include a former sex offender (Ben Foster), a bored married couple (Jude Law and Rachel Weisz), an unsatisfied gangster, a dentist in love, a prostitute (Lucia Siposova), an elderly father (Anthony Hopkins) searching for his missing daughter, and some other wasted character whose main purpose is to ridiculously put Tyler, the sex offender, in a seriously uncomfortable situation.

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Sure, Fernando Meirelles disappointed everyone with 2008’s Blindness, but that disappointment stemmed from the fact that he had already directed films as good as City of God and The Constant Gardener; expectations were through the roof. Now that we’ve all been knocked back down to Earth, maybe we can take a more balanced, cautious approach to his latest film, 360, which has just released a trailer. What does he have in store for us this time? The first thing that jumps out at you when you watch this trailer is the realization of how good the cast is. It’s kind of hard not to get excited for a film that’s headlined by names like Rachel Weisz, Jude Law, Ben Foster, and Anthony Hopkins. The other thing that’s instantly striking is that Meirelles still seems to be on point as far as the visuals of his films are concerned. Despite the fact that 360 seems to just be a tale about people’s relationships, with a little bit of menace and deceit thrown in, you would think that it was some sort of epic, globe-hopping thriller if you watched it without audio. Not only are there gorgeous locations on display, but everything is shot with Meirelles now trademark blend of classically beautiful photography and cutting edge, stylish experimentation.

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Channel Guide - Large

With fall shows wrapped, Mad Men and Game of Thrones winding down, and the Louie and True Blood season premieres still weeks away, it’s the perfect time to curl up in front of your television set or computer (which actually seems really uncomfortable) and indulge in a little vintage TV series binge. While most of your old favorites are probably available to you on DVD, Netflix, or Hulu, several noteworthy classics inexplicably and unjustly aren’t. In some cases, no one even had the foresight to record every single episode back when they originally aired and then do their duty to mankind by illegally uploading the series onto YouTube or selling bootleg copies through shady-looking websites and, honestly, that’s just infuriating. If Emily’s Reasons Why Not – a 2006 Heather Graham snoozer that only aired one episode – is on DVD, then surely the following superior series should be released.

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Word on the street is that Oren Moverman‘s Rampart is pretty damned good. It stars Woody Harrelson as an LAPD cop in the wake of the Rampart scandal in the 1990s. It also features Ice Cube, who doesn’t at all still represent the LA of the early 1990s. The thing is, even if the movie were terrible, this poster would still be awesome. It looks absolutely stunning, and we’re giving one away. Plus, one (1) lucky winner will get a Harrelson-signed script to go with their new wall art. How do you enter? Excellent rhetorical question! Here’s how:

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Drinking Games

Back when Contraband hit theaters earlier this year, it’s possible that some people tried to smuggle some adult beverages into their theater. Now that it’s on DVD and Blu-ray, there’s no need for an elaborate smuggling plot to enjoy the film with alcohol. Just go get some out of your ‘fridge. Mark Wahlberg may not run around without his shirt on in this film, but he does go down to Panama for some decent action sequences. And if that’s not enough to pique your interest, think of the swirling vortex of white trash creepiness this film offers with both Ben Foster and Giovanni Ribisi in the mix.

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Over two years ago we got to see a whole new side of Ben Foster. With director Oren Moverman‘s The Messenger, Foster gave a quiet and powerful performance, right next to Woody Harrelson, who also showed something we hadn’t seen from him before. With Rampart, the duo continue to explore new territory. Unless I’m mistaken, we haven’t seen Harrelson play a damaged and narcissistic cop, and the same goes for Foster in an unrecognizable appearance as a homeless vet. That type of transformation and change is something Foster seems to embrace. If you know about Oren Moverman’s work ethic, then you’re well-aware he searches for honesty, which Ben Foster obviously has great admiration for. Here’s what Ben Foster had to say about reacting, never having enough time to prepare, and how any director who says they have the answer is full of shit:

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Writer-director Oren Moverman’s terrific feature debut, The Messenger, was about trying not to deal with grief, while his character-driven “cop” drama, Rampart, is about attempting to not deal with everything. The lead of the film, Dave Brown, rejects change in a major time of change. Despite Moverman using his latest film to track a far more morally corrupted character than he previously dealt with in Messenger, he still shows an equal measure of empathy. The film follows Woody Harrelson‘s Dave Brown, as he confronts both a new time and a new way of life. Brown, a former soldier who sees himself as something of a man’s man, is unwilling to get with the times. With the true-life Rampart scandals serving as motivation, the LAPD is making major changes – ones that Brown won’t (or can’t) go along with. The cop is a sickly, paranoia-driven enigma who (forgive the cheesy as all hell expression) plays by his own nonexistent rules. Dave is stubborn, racist, fearful, and believes that he’s someone important enough to be spied on. He’s a real bastard.

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Lots of actors have a niche they like to call home, and while it’s sometimes fun to see them stretch outside their comfort zone they often do their most relaxed and assured work with material that feels the most familiar. For Mark Wahlberg that zone is “nice guy committing criminal acts while remaining pretty damn charming.” When he sticks to it we get fun films like Three Kings, Four Brothers, The Italian Job, Shooter and more. When he veers too widely away though we get The Happening. Lucky for us Contraband falls into the former category of fun, lightweight films that take full advantage of Wahlberg’s physical appearance, under-utilized sense of humor and charismatic charm (that falls somewhere between a George Clooney and a Michael Shannon).

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Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr recovers from his colossal failure in getting any of his votes in the Critic’s Choice Movie Awards to count (except for A Separation for best foreign film, but who didn’t think that would win?) by engaging in therapy via multiplex. Unfortunately, it’s January, and his only choices were Marky Mark and the Smuggling Bunch or Queen Latifah going mano-y-mano with the robot Dolly Parton. He opts for the action film, but he may have also fallen asleep during it. How soon until good movies are released again?

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Only mere hours ago, I watched Oren Moverman‘s Rampart. It’s much, much different from his fantastic 2008 directorial debut, The Messenger. Since I’ve only seen the film so recently, I’m not 100% comfortable discussing it at length. It’s a film that needs time…but I can say that this trailer is not the best representation of Moverman’s meditative drama. There is no hard rock music in the movie, it’s not fast paced, and the film is not as clichéd as the trailer suggests. If this trailer gets anything across right, it’s all the hints at how great Woody Harrelson is as Dave Brown. Harrelson fills a through-and-through bastard with a surprising amount of humanity, and even a little bit of uncomfortable empathy. It’s a powerful performance. But does Harrelson really look like the most corrupt cop you’ve ever seen on screen? You be the judge:

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There’s dirty cops and there’s bad cops, and there’s a difference between the two. In Oren Moverman’s Rampart, a large-scale scandal threatens to ruin an entire police division, but the possibly-orchestrated (and conveniently televised) fall from grace of a single, uninvolved officer forms the plot of the filmmaker’s sluggish and sloppy second feature. Writer and director Moverman again teams with his The Messenger star, Woody Harrelson, as maybe-fall guy Dave Brown, a renegade cop unhinged by the possibility that he’s been bad all along, he just didn’t know it. Though Rampart makes copious mention of the complicated real-life scandal that shook up Los Angeles and the LAPD in the 90s, the film itself instead focuses on the fictional tale of Harrelson’s Dave Brown. An old school cop, a former solider who spends a touch too much time harkening back to his Vietnam years, Harrelson fills out Dave with enough of that classic Woody charm to keep him endlessly watchable, but frequently hard to care about (Harrelson will likely get some Oscar buzz, and if anything in this film is awards-worthy, it’s Harrelson’s work). A cigarette-chomping, skirt-chasing alcoholic, Dave doesn’t have much to recommend him besides swagger and a smirk, but even that can’t save him when he’s caught on tape positively kicking the crap out of a citizen who (at least on the video) appears to be doing nothing wrong. Sent to the media and popping up on newscasts across the city, Dave’s bad behavior may be ruining his life, […]

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Earlier this morning, my partner in LA film festival crime, the lovely Ms. Allison Loring, posted her list of Most Anticipated Films from this year’s upcoming AFI FEST presented by Audi. Of course, many of our choices overlap (Shame, Butter, Rampart), but we part ways when it comes to some of the smaller films at the festival. For all the big, Oscar bait flicks (J. Edgar) or the wang- and soul-baring Fass-outings (Shame again, always Shame), there are a few films that I’ve been positively rabid to see (Alps, Michael) that might not yet have the cache value and audience awareness of those other films. From the festival’s incredible list of 110 films, I’ve narrowed down my list to ten films that are my bonafide Most Anticipated Films of the festival. Like any list, I am sure that some of you perusing it will be displeased, weighing in on titles I’m a fool to miss. But hold your wrath for a few days, because many of the best titles of the fest are ones I’ve already seen, and those films might just crop up in an unexpected place (like, oh, another list). AFI FEST will run from November 3rd through the 10th in Hollywood, with all screenings taking place at The Chinese, the Chinese 6 Theatres, and the Egyptian Theatre. Tickets for all screenings are free (and available starting today, October 27, right HERE). The complete schedule grid is now online for the festival, which you can check out HERE. After the break, […]

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published: 12.23.2014
B+
published: 12.22.2014
C-
published: 12.19.2014
A-


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