Bennett Miller

Foxcatcher

“Hello, Oscar voters, Channing Tatum here. Yes, hello, it’s nice to speak to you, too. No, I will not be appearing in Step Up: All In. No, no cameo. I swear. I know I’ve done it before, but there was just no time for this one. I am sorry. That’s really nice that you love dance movies, but I am here to talk to you about something else. No, not Matthew McConaughey. Not his Oscar. ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT. Happy? Let’s get to it. My Oscar. No, no, I don’t want to wait until next March. I’d like it now. No, right now. I know Foxcatcher hasn’t even been released yet, but I think that I’ve got a little something for you that might sway your opinion. Here, take a look, then let’s talk about that little gold man.”

read more...

Foxcatcher

Looks like it’s Foxcatcher day around the cinematically-inclined internets, as our own William Goss just recently unveiled a stellar A- review of the film out of Cannes, and now we’re all getting graced with the presence of a brand new teaser for Bennett Miller‘s latest film. Oh, and hey, it’s totally terrifying. Based on the real life story of crazed murderer/overly encouraging wrestling coach John du Pont (and also apparently loosely inspired by star Steve Carell‘s voicework in the Despicable Me films), Miller’s film sees Carell starring as the creepily intense (and also intensely creepy) du Pont, a rich dude with a thing for bringing glory back to America. No, really. Du Pont’s glory-seeking plan involves training Olympic level wrestlers, which sort of sounds like the perfect thing for a crazed rich dude to do. Du Pont’s desires might seem, yes, a bit nutty, but his path to all that glory is kind of smart — he starts a training program for actual athletes (including the Schultz brothers, played by Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo), using his own fortune as financing. Everything seems to be super-excellent, until he loses his tenuous grip on reality. Sound over-the-top? It’s not — it’s deeply unsettling. Ready to be chilled to the bone? Brace yourself for the film’s latest teaser trailer.

read more...

Foxcatcher

“Fame makes a man take things over.” There couldn’t be a much more obvious needle drop for a scene of newly minted champions celebrating over champagne in a well-adorned trophy room, but more than one line from David Bowie’s “Fame” suits the grander themes of the terrific sports drama, Foxcatcher. Landing at the logical crossroads between Moneyball’s quest for sports-minded superiority and Capote’s chilly portrait of the criminal mind, director Bennett Miller’s third narrative feature revisits the eventually tragic real-life involvement of Olympic wrestling champs Mark and Dave Schultz with eccentric millionaire John du Pont. By 1987, 27-year-old Mark (Channing Tatum) had already earned an Olympic gold medal, but as he lectures bored students for a pittance and commits to his umpteenth meal of instant ramen while older brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo) raises a proper family, it’s clear that the glory has faded. Out of the blue comes a call on behalf of Mr. du Pont (Steve Carell), a wealthy ornithologist, philatelist and philosopher eager to sponsor the Schultz brothers if it means bringing the gold home to America once again.

read more...

Steve Carell in Foxcatcher

There’s a little bit of Brick Tamland in every role Steve Carell‘s ever done. Even his dramatic roles (which are less “dramatic” than they are “drama adjacent”) bear the stigma of a man who once pooped a Cornish game hen in the Anchorman blooper bonus footage. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is the poignant story of a man who copes with the certainty of his own grisly death … by visiting a restaurant where a wacky wait staff kisses him and he yells things like a lunatic. Little Miss Sunshine is a touching family film where Carell overcomes his suicidal depression through his love for his niece and nephew. Then he does a wacky dance and yells like a lunatic. I long for the day he can fully emerge from the shadow of “I love lamp.” And that day’s almost here, give or take a few months. On November 14th, Foxcatcher will open in theaters across the country. It was originally scheduled for last December, but that was before Sony Pictures Classics decided the movie had more of a “2014” ring to it than a “2013” (makes sense — 2013 is so last year). It stars Carell as John du Pont, the real-life chemical heir who befriended Olympic wrestler siblings Mark and Dave Schultz, only to grow mentally unstable and kill the latter in cold blood. The film also stars Channing Tatum as the Tatum-esque Mark, and Mark Ruffalo as bald and bearded Dave. The first clip from the film, released via Yahoo Movies, has no Ruffalo,  […]

read more...

foxcatcher-09

Steve Carell teetered over to the dramatic side of things in Little Miss Sunshine, but Foxcatcher will be the film to truly stretch his acting abilities. Based on real-life events, Foxcatcher sees Carell as Jon du Pont, the multimillionaire chemical heir who built a wrestling facility at his home in Foxcatcher Farm, where he later shot and killed Olympic wrestler David Schultz. Mark Ruffalo will portray Schultz, while Channing Tatum will play the role of his brother, fellow Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz So far, Carell has only ventured into a handful of dramedies, and never a full-fledged drama, so portraying a schizophrenic killer does seem like it may be a little out of his league. But at least the actor is in good hands. Bennett Miller, the man at Foxcatcher‘s helm, drove comedian Jonah Hill to an Academy Award nomination in his last feature, Moneyball (technically Hill had already tasted serious drama in Cyrus the year before, but never mind that). Entertainment Weekly has just debuted a still of Carell made up like du Pont, complete with a fake nose and an unhealthy-looking glower. This first image does make Carell’s menace seem genuine. Still, I can’t help but wonder – when du Pont ratchets up the crazy, will we see Carell embody his madness, or will we see Carell wearing a fake nose and falling back towards a Brick Tamland-like yelling spree? Hopefully it’s the former. Foxcatcher releases on December 20th.

read more...

Sienna Miller

Director Bennett Miller‘s passion project follow-up to his smash hit Moneyball continues to take shape with the protracted roll-out of his final casting decisions. Deadline Hollywood reports that Sienna Miller is now set to play Nancy Schultz in Foxcatcher, based on the wrenching and bizarre story of the murder of Olympic wrestler (and Nancy’s husband) Dave Schultz. Mark Ruffalo has been attached to the Schultz role since April, along with the rest of an impressive cast that also includes Steve Carell and Channing Tatum. Miller has been trying to get the film made for years, so it’s heartening that he’s finally been able to compile such a talented line-up to tell the tale of the tragically murdered Schultz. And what a tale it is.

read more...

Culture Warrior

Editor’s Note: With Landon Palmer busy (read: probably writing a thesis on Sexual Deviancy in John Wayne Films in the Greater Context of Post-WWII America As Seen Through the Work of Southern Filmmakers), the excellent, insightful Adam Charles has stepped in to write this week’s entry. Enjoy. Few things have been as equally discussed and deliberated over the past few weeks than that of who Lionsgate was going to choose to take the reigns from Gary Ross to direct the second installment in The Hunger Games franchise. The first film had one of the biggest opening weekends in history (and it didn’t even require 3D price-hikes to get there), earned a positive majority from critics, and has a dedicated fanbase that defies demographic lines of fandom; and they’re chomping at the bit to see the next adaptation in the series, Catching Fire, as quickly as possible. Neither Lucas, Spielberg, or even Peter Jackson’s franchises could replicate just how much of the domestic populous is waiting for the next picture.

read more...

You hear that? That’s the sound of everyone in Hollywood sitting up and finally taking notice of the absurdly talented Mark Ruffalo. While the actor has turned in a series of accomplished roles (including You Can Count on Me, Zodiac, The Brothers Bloom, and The Kids Are All Right) over the years, he’s never quite vaulted into big-name, big-award territory. Until now. Though his casting as Bruce Banner/The Hulk in Joss Whedon’s upcoming The Avengers was an unexpected choice, Ruffalo’s work in the film is outstanding (I can vouch for that, having seen the film last week), and fans will be very pleased with his take on both Bruce and “the other guy.” To that end, Variety reports that Ruffalo has landed his first post-Avengers role, and it’s one that may make an Oscar winner out of him yet. Ruffalo has now joined the cast of Bennett Miller’s long-gestating true crime story, Foxcatcher. Miller has been trying to get the film made for years, and Steve Carell and Channing Tatum have both been set to star for months now, but the casting of Ruffalo has proven to be especially important – as it will be Ruffalo who takes the co-leading role, not Tatum, as once reported.

read more...

Culture Warrior

Usually I’m quite cynical about end-of-year lists, as they demand a forced encapsulation of an arbitrary block of time that is not yet over into something simplified. I typically find end-of-year lists fun, but rarely useful. But 2011 is different. As Scott Tobias pointed out, while “quiet,” this was a surprisingly strong year for interesting and risk-taking films. What’s most interesting has been the variety: barely anything has emerged as a leading contender that tops either critics’ lists or dominates awards buzz. Quite honestly, at the end of 2010 I struggled to find compelling topics, trends, and events to define the year in cinema. The final days of 2011 brought a quite opposite struggle, for this year’s surprising glut of interesting and disparate films spoke to one another in a way that makes it difficult to isolate any of the year’s significant works. Arguments in the critical community actually led to insightful points as they addressed essential questions of what it means to be a filmgoer and a cinephile. Mainstream Hollywood machine-work and limited release arthouse fare defied expectations in several directions. New stars arose. Tired Hollywood rituals and ostensibly reliable technologies both met new breaking points. “2011” hangs over this year in cinema, and the interaction between the films – and the events and conversations that surrounded them – makes this year’s offerings particular to their time and subject to their context. This is what I took away from this surprising year:

read more...

Culture Warrior

The month of September is typically regarded as one of the least exciting and least eventful in the calendar year. It’s something of an interval month, a strange in-between phase sandwiched in the middle of summer Hollywood blockbusters and the “quality” flicks and holiday programming of the fall. In strictly monetary terms, it’s the most underperforming month of the year, and has even been beaten by the desolate burial ground that is January in terms of event-style opening weekends. But this may ultimately be a good thing. In fact, if future Septembers continue to exhibit the same patterns as this month, the time of the year in which schools go back in session and you can no longer wear all-white may prove to be one of the most interesting and exciting months on the wide-release calendar.

read more...

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr decides he’s going to learn history from Hollywood. After all, why not when three out of the four major releases are based on or inspired by a true story. He learns about the true history of baseball with Moneyball (and was sorely disappointed it wasn’t called Monkeyball because a movie about monkeys playing baseball would have been awesome). Then he learns all he needs to know about marine mammals and depressed children in Dolphin Tale. Finally, he faces the cadres of screaming tweenage girls to see Taylor Lautner in ABduction. That’s based on a true story, right?

read more...

Towards the beginning of the second act of Bennett Miller’s Moneyball, Jonah Hill’s mathlete Peter Brand explains to Brad Pitt’s Billy Beane that the team he dreams of creating for the Oakland A’s is essentially “an island of misfit toys.” Peter makes this admission without irony or snark – to him, those misfits are the ones with the true potential, and Peter understands that the potential to be a winner is much more important than the (very distinct) possibly of being a loser. And yet, Moneyball is a film about being a loser, even if the losers we come to know are losers in a very particular context. Can you be a professional athlete that makes a solid six-figure paycheck and still be a loser? Can you be a popular professional sports organization with millions of dollars to spend, your own stadium, and an accomplished legacy and still be a loser? Can you be Brad Pitt and still be a loser? Yes, yes, and yes (sort of) – and not just a loser in the most literal sense (you know, someone who loses), but in the larger sense of someone who just doesn’t win. As general manager of the Oakland A’s, Billy is tasked with crafting a professional baseball team with significantly less funding than the other heavy-hitting teams in their league. It’s that lack of cash that leads to a worst-case scenario play for Beane and the A’s – losing out on the American League West championship, the team […]

read more...

It’s been six long years since director Bennett Miller‘s Capote, and he’s finally returned with a very commercial, very accessible, and very good film, Moneyball. On the surface, the awards contender looks like a simple star vehicle for Brad Pitt. On a deeper level, it’s a film about ambition, being an outsider, and striving for greatness. Clearly, that fits nicely into Miller’s wheelhouse. Although this is only the filmmaker’s third film, the themes that spark Miller’s interest are apparent. Despite Moneyball being a commercial juggernaut and his 2005 critical hit being a breakout indie, they couldn’t be more thematically similar; both films are about men searching for career success, but finding something unexpected at the end. Speaking with Miller, you get a perfect sense of why the director is drawn to these ambitious figures. Here’s what the Moneyball director had to say about ambition, the adaptation challenges of his character drama, and taking advantage of the medium he works in:

read more...

Sports movies have always been one of the tougher genres for audiences to embrace on a mass level. This usually has a lot to do with the sport in question, and in Bennett Miller’s new film Moneyball, baseball (a uniquely American past-time) is front and center. While the film may show limited appeal at first glance, it transcends that incorrect assumption by embracing its underdog true story and successfully juggling hope, love and frustration. The main ingredient that sets apart the good sports films from the bad ones is heart. It may seem painfully obvious and simple but executing that fundamental emotion is anything but easy. It’s a skill that requires a balancing act of love and involving the audience in the sport you’re showcasing. If you get too saccharine it’s not a sports movie anymore, and if you get too technical and inside baseball (pun intended) you alienate a mainstream audience. This is where credited screenwriters Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin come in. They both have an authentic flair for dialogue and Sorkin in particular just won an Oscar this year for The Social Network, another true life story that juggles many different pieces. But instead of the self-destructive Mark Zuckerberg, Moneyball’s protagonist is Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane. In the film he’s played with a suave swagger by the suave Brad Pitt, but this isn’t the kind of cool we’re used to from the superstar. Here he plays his cool as a false confidence that smiles on […]

read more...
Twitter button
Facebook button
Google+ button
RSS feed

published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+
published: 12.15.2014
B


Some movie websites serve the consumer. Some serve the industry. At Film School Rejects, we serve at the pleasure of the connoisseur. We provide the best reviews, interviews and features to millions of dedicated movie fans who know what they love and love what they know. Because we, like you, simply love the art of the moving picture.
Fantastic Fest 2014
6 Filmmaking Tips: James Gunn
Got a Tip? Send it here:
editors@filmschoolrejects.com
Publisher:
Neil Miller
Managing Editor:
Scott Beggs
Associate Editors:
Rob Hunter
Kate Erbland
Christopher Campbell
All Rights Reserved © 2006-2014 Reject Media, LLC | Privacy Policy | Design & Development by Face3