Brad Pitt

Zombies

After years of chatter, delays, and just plain trouble, the big screen version of Max Brooks’ game-changing zombie oral history, in the guise of director Marc Forster’s extremely changed and chopped up World War Z, finally hits theaters this Friday. While the production’s apparently awful journey to a theater near you (complete with enough script changes to make anyone consider letting a zombie eat their brains, just so you no longer have to attempt to keep track of who wrote what and when and maybe even how and one of Hollywood’s biggest reshoots ever) is finally over, it still remains to be seen if the world is ready for a big blockbuster (read: wildly expensive) zombie movie starring Brad Pitt. While the final product is certainly entertaining (and generally in a positive way), Forster’s film is still just a zombie movie, which is why the coolest thing about the film (really) is the fact that it busts out “the z-word” within its first hour, scoffs at it a bit, and then just runs with it. In World War Z, the world is screwed, Pitt plays a guy trying to stop an outbreak that’s based on a guy who reported on said outbreak ten years later (sorry, source material), but at least zombies are “zombies.” It’s about time.

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watts

What is Casting Couch? It’s not a fishing program on public access. It’s a place on the Internet to go to hear about actors landing roles. Today we have the latest on The Rock’s upcoming schedule, as well as a new member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. If you weren’t already on board to see a movie where Bill Murray plays a creepy old man who teaches all of his wrong-headed ways to his 12-year-old neighbor, then there’s probably something wrong with you, but St. Vincent De Van Nuys hasn’t given up on you yet. It’s latest strategy to lure you in, which comes after casting Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd as Murray’s co-stars, is to sign up Naomi Watts in the role of a Russian prostitute who Murray’s character likes to keep company with. That sounds both ridiculous and sexy, which are basically the two best ways anything can be. [Deadline]

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Brad Pitt

What is Casting Couch? It’s casting news. A bunch of it. All in one place. Today we’ve got the short list of young ladies who may be playing Cinderella in Kenneth Branagh’s upcoming Disney film, among other things. People seemed to love watching Brad Pitt don military garb and do a World War II movie for Quentin Tarantino, so it stands to reason they should be willing to line up to watch him go period again for David Ayer. According to Heat Vision, the director is looking to sign the star for his upcoming WWII-set project, Fury. If he becomes official, he’ll be taking the lead role of the film, which is an ensemble piece that will follow the 5-man crew of an American tank. More specifically, it follows the 5-man crew of an American tank in the waning days of the war, as they come across a battered and desperate division of German soldiers. Ayer wrote the film and sold it to QED on spec, which is going to start to look like a smart investment on their part if a star as recognizable as Pitt becomes official.

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World War Z

Trick question. There are no zombies in this new poster for World War Z. Sure, there are probably plenty lighting the world on fire just below Brad Pitt‘s iron stare, and perhaps there are even a few in those swirling helicopters, but for a film that is about a zombie invasion, this poster sure as shooting doesn’t seem interested in presenting even one brain-chomper. Draw your own conclusions. World War Z opens on June 21st. [Paramount]

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World War Z Poster

This isn’t the World War Z that we thought we were going to get. Fans of Max Brooks‘ contemplative book that chronicles the zombie apocalypse by soberly speaking with important survivors expected something from director Marc Forster that would look a bit more, well, like that book. This new trailer for the film is a zombie-covered ray of hope, though. Not that it’ll be close to the source material; that it’ll be a good movie regardless. It shows an awful lot of Brad Pitt looking pensive, but it also shows the human cost beyond the ant-like hordes that cover and devour all in their path. The vision of them taking down a helicopter isn’t frightening, but the thought of them trampling you, chewing your face off and welcoming you into their legion within a matter of seconds is pretty damn terrifying. If it feels familiar, it’s because this new look at the film feels a lot like the marketing for Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion. Which makes sense. What are zombies anyway if not human-sized viruses? Check out the trailer for yourself:

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20000 Leagues Under the Sea

Despite persistent reports that director David Fincher was looking to again team up with Brad Pitt for his 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, THR now reports that those rumors were “incorrect” and Pitt is not attached to the project. The outlet blames “local reports” which, paired with the news that the project may film in Australia, conjure up images of charming small-town Oz papers filled with breathless buzz that Pitt might be coming to an ocean near them, though the first news of potential casting came out of Variety. The news that Pitt is not set to lead the project doesn’t come with any further casting speculation, but with such a giant potential tentpole production at stake, it’s reasonable to assume that Disney and Fincher will still be looking for another big star to lead the project. THR also reports that the Australian government is on deck to offer up Disney a generous locations rebate that would amount to nearly $20m in savings for the massive project. Disney executives are reportedly finalizing the deal before giving the long-gestating project the green light.

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World War Z Movie

For anyone wishing to see some new footage from World War Z when the big game rolls around, there’ll be no need to switch over from the Puppy Bowl. The new teaser trailer for the Brad Pitt-starring zombie film is sewn together with shots from the previous trailer, a situation which would create a ton of useable jokes if this were a Frankenstein film. Sadly, Marc Forster and company didn’t help us out with that one. At the very least, we know that the people of the world in World War Z have never seen a zombie movie in their lives:

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news_brad pitt eating

Pontius Pilate, like Benedict Arnold after him, lived in a time of great political and social unrest. Big things were happening, many sides were battling against each other, feelings were running deep, and tempers were flaring. Each was faced with a fateful decision that forced them to choose which side to come down on, which warring faction to appease, and in the end the decisions they made were so poor that they didn’t just make them failures or losers, they made them into history’s most despised villains, the sorts of names who will never be forgotten due to their infamy. Bad for a guy like Pontius Pilate, sure, but a dissection of the political and religious turmoil that led to his decision of whether or not to authorize the crucifixion of Jesus Christ sounds like it could make for a really good movie. Or, at least, that’s what Warner Bros has been hoping ever since they bought Vera Blasi’s script for the period drama Pontius Pilate. By all accounts Blasi’s script is rich, complicated, and full of character, which would suggest the title role is going to require not a movie star like most big budget period pics, but a real actor capable of giving a rich, nuanced performance. The good news for Pontius Pilate is that it looks like it might be getting both.

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Andrew Dominik

Killing Them Softly is both a surprising and unexpected return for director Andrew Dominik, whose name has been missing from the big screen for five long years. What’s most surprising about the film is that it’s not much more commercial than his previous film, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, a movie which didn’t nearly get its due back in 2007. His latest film is, however, unsurprising in terms of theme: the power of the dollar. After Jesse James didn’t light the world on fire financially, Dominik found it difficult to get other projects off the ground, so money must have been on his mind. And, according to Dominik, it was, and that’s a part of how we got his new political crime picture, Killing Them Softly. Here is what writer and director Andrew Dominik had to say about the film’s slightly cartoonish approach, why the crime genre is so appealing, and the trials and tribulations caused by Jesse James:

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Brad Pitt in Killing Them Softly

After only about five people paid to see Andrew Dominik‘s beautifully poetic The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, the popular belief was that any director in that position would follow up his ambitious financial failure with something more commercial. While Killing Them Softly has far more public appeal than Jesse James, Dominik has fortunately made another film unafraid to polarize. Set in 2008, following the economic collapse, mobsters have been seeking easier ways to make a quick buck or two, there is no clear order left, and, in this America, as the smooth contract killer Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) puts it, you’re on your own. Cogan — who’s sort of the protagonist — is brought down to New Orleans after a series of robberies hit Markie Trattman’s (Ray Liotta) poker games. With criminals afraid to play and spend their money, it’s Cogan’s job to get them back to playing, by finding the two men responsible for the latest theft, two big time losers named Frankie (Scoot McNairy, now holding the record for the most number of irritating characters in a single year) and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn). This reads as all fairly simple, but there’s more to this story than the trailers have been leading us to believe. Killing Them Softly is, in fact, almost more of an angry, loud voicemail left for the politicians who aren’t all that different from the lost, scrambling criminals we see in the film.

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Over Under - Large

While inspirational sports stories usually prove to be box office draws, when you make them you still run the risk of alienating the portion of the film-going audience who just don’t like sports. If someone doesn’t like basketball or football, how do you get them to sit through a story where people play basketball or football for two hours? Brad Pitt’s 2011 starring vehicle, Moneyball, was hyped by its fans as being a baseball story that anybody could get into. Its focus was more on statistics and science stuff than it was gameplay. It was more about bucking the system than it was winning the big game. And at its heart was a story about a failed man reclaiming his life and growing as an individual. There’s no need to be into baseball to enjoy all of that stuff, right? Major League, conversely, is a 1989 comedy that was aimed squarely at baseball fans. If you didn’t know about the Cleveland Indians’ pathetic standing in the league, if you didn’t have a long-standing relationship with hearing Bob Uecker’s voice talk about the game, and if you didn’t know the ins-and-outs of each position and exactly what it takes to be bad at playing them, then a lot of the movie’s charms were likely going to be lost on you. And if you could care less about whether or not the Indians beat the Yankees in the championship game, would you even be able to get anything out of watching this […]

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It’d be beating a dead horse to gripe about Hollywood’s reliance on sequels, prequels, and adaptations, but not all is right in the world with the recent release of the trailer for the World War Z adaption from star and producer Brad Pitt. I don’t have a problem with Hollywood bringing books and other previously existing media to the screen – hell, I like it most of the time. It’s cool to see a cinematic translation of something you know and enjoy. Therein lies the rub with the World War Z trailer. It doesn’t appear to be a translation of something people know and enjoy. I say “people” and not myself since I actually found World War Z to be a fairly big disappointment, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t hoping for an excellent zombie movie, based however it may be on the failed execution of a great premise. It’s not always wise to judge a movie by its trailer, but from our first look it seems Hollywood has screwed the pooch in the most Hollywood way imaginable.

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World War Z certainly had a bumpy production trip to the big screen. The movie got pushed back six months, had a troubled shoot, and an ending which needed assistance from man who isn’t exactly well-regarded for his endings. Based on this first trailer for the film, some of the more creative troubles are on display. Word was Marc Forster was unsure of what type of zombies he wanted, and the kind he went with go against the gritty, grounded style he’s clearly aiming for. Whenever a horde of CG zombies appear in this trailer, Forster’s “serious” approach falls flat. Nothing can take someone out of a movie more than an all-CG character, but there looks to be plenty of cartoon zombies running amok in World War Z. Check out Brad Pitt running, staring off, and shouting a lot in the full-length trailer for World War Z:

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Normally, we here at FSR wouldn’t be so prone to posting teasers for trailers (you know, commercials for commercials), but when it comes to a project as hotly anticipated (and, let’s face it, as terribly plagued) as Marc Forster‘s World War Z, any fresh peek at new material is worth a look. And, what do you know, it looks like the film (the one about a zombie invasion, just to remind you) is full to bursting with zombies (color us shocked)! Really fast-moving, muddled, not-entirely-scary zombies. And Brad Pitt‘s hair. Don’t forget about Brad Pitt’s hair. Consider this a bit of a dud, but perhaps we’ll get more meat (and blood) out of the film’s imminently-arriving full trailer. The full trailer for World War Z will debut on “Entertainment Tonight” (dun-dun-duna-dun-dun!) this Thursday, but get a first look at what all the fuss has been about after the break.

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According to Variety, Disney has put David Fincher‘s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on hold for three months while they decide whether they want to make it or not. In a way, it’s understandable considering the size of the investment, but Fincher might have a trick up his sleeve in frequent collaborator Brad Pitt. It’s reported that the director is hunting down the actor (who’s appeared in three other Fincher films) to take on the harpooning role played by Kirk Douglas in the 1954 version of Jules Verne’s novel. The question becomes whether that will be enough to grab the greenlight. Here’s the funny thing: neither Fincher nor Pitt are necessarily known for bringing in massive amounts of cash. That may seem counterintuitive considering Pitt’s profile especially, but neither are huge money earners despite critical acclaim and a metric ton of tabloid covers. If it did move the needle for Disney, the next question becomes whether Pitt is really right for the role. The novel describes Canadian master harpooner Ned Land as peerless and possessing “an uncommon quickness of hand.” He’s a large man, “taciturn [and] occasionally violent.” That combination of stoicism and rage could be a fantastic challenge for Pitt who, for the most part these days, usually plays himself with Clooney-like ease. With Fincher making him do 99 takes for every scene, it could get Brando on set really quick, and that could create something amazing. Let’s hope Disney feels like taking a risk.

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This week, I am taking a little guest spot here in one of my favorite new FSR columns, Print to Projector. Because like Dr. Abaius, I sometimes read. And like Dr. Abaius, I also sometimes put down a book that I’ve just read — and somewhat understood — and say “hey, this should be a movie.” With that in mind, I would like to submit this entry…

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Christoph Waltz and Brad Pitt

Stephen Gaghan isn’t exactly a household name, but he’s a creative type whose work you’re likely familiar with. Not only does he have a hefty screenwriting résumé that includes titles like Rules of Engagement and Traffic, but he was also the writer/director of the George Clooney vehicle, Syriana. Why is this all important? Because The Wrap has news about what his next project is going to be, and it sounds pretty interesting. The film, which is being produced through Lionsgate, is called Candy Shop, and it’s said to be something of a crime thriller. The story’s protagonist is a deep cover operative dedicated to fighting an evil global organization who ends up losing everything and having to give up the life. Retirement doesn’t prove to come too easy though, because soon after he disappears into Brooklyn to live out the rest of his days as a fairly anonymous beat cop, he finds that the exact same organization he was dedicated to bringing down is operating right in his new neighborhood. If that doesn’t sound exciting enough, get a load of the actors that Gaghan is already courting to join his cast…

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The moviegoing world was saddened earlier this week when it was learned director Tony Scott had died. Despite the manner of his death, it’s no less sad when a filmmaker such as Scott, who continued making films well into his 60, had many more films to helm. We felt it was time to hear some filmmaking insight from the man himself, which leads us to True Romance. The movie itself is a modern classic, an energetic tale of love, drugs, and a whole bunch of bullets courtesy of fledgling – at the time – screenwriter Quentin Tarantino. He also provides a commentary for the film, a rarity for the Pulp Fiction writer/director, but we’ll cover that another time. This is Tony Scott’s time, and here, without further ado, are all the things we learned listening to him speak about his film, True Romance.

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Andrew Dominik is not a prolific director. After bursting onto the scene in 2000 with the violent biographical tale Chopper he waited seven years before releasing the critically acclaimed The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford with Brad Pitt. The film was universally praised by critics, but theater-goers have notoriously short attention spans meaning most of them moved on to something else before they even finished reading the title. (The ‘something else’ in this case was a one-two punch of Resident Evil: Extinction and Good Luck Chuck, so shame on you America.) Five years later and Dominik is finally returning to the screen, and he’s bringing Pitt along with him. Killing Them Softly is a blackly humorous crime thriller about a pair of low-rent amateurs who rob the wrong poker game. Pitt plays a mob man brought in to find and handle the pair, and the film follows his efforts arrange for their demise while interacting with the local criminal element. The film is an adaptation of George V Higgins’ 1974 novel Cogan’s Trade, and while it updates the story to the modern day it keeps the Boston setting that has served the genre so well over the years. Pitt’s joined by Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, Sam Shepard, Ben Mendelsohn and Scoot McNairy. Our own Simon Gallagher was a big fan when he saw it at Cannes, and now the rest of us can get a taste as well with the debut of the highly […]

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What’s most bizarre about Marc Forster‘s Brad Pitt-starring adaptation of Max Brooks‘ novel “World War Z” is not all the bad mojo swirling around the film’s production – including a release date shove and weeks of reshoots with “help” from Damon Lindelof – it’s the fact that a book that looks back on a devastating zombie apocalypse appears to be a film that tracks such a breakout as it’s occurring. Which is probably one of the reasons that the beleaguered production of World War Z is now apparently in need of a new ending for the film. Here’s your ending, guys – the zombies win (and Cuba becomes a super power power and everyone in North Korea is gone and most people are, you know, dead). Not so hard, right? Tell that to Paramount. According to Deadline Copenhagen, while Lindelof “cracked a potential new ending of the film” (we can only assume it included not tying up a bunch of narrative threads and forcing the characters to make a a series of increasingly stupid decisions), it was actually Drew Goddard who did most of the actual new writing (thank heaven for small favors). However, even the involvement of Goddard isn’t enough to get this thing copacetic, because the outlet also reports that the project might need yet another writer to sew it up.

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