Brad Pitt

We’ve done so much drooling over Twelve Years a Slave that you should have a pretty good idea what it is by now. It’s the next film from visual artist extraordinaire, Steve McQueen, and his third in a row that sees him collaborating with the most exciting actor on the planet today, Michael Fassbender. It goes without saying that any chance we get to watch this actor/director duo work together again is reason enough to celebrate, but what’s been so exciting about watching this project develop is that, unlike Hunger and Shame, Twelve Years a Slave doesn’t seem like it’s going to be the Michael Fassbender show. No, this true story of the life of free man turned slave Solomon Northrup seems like it’s going to give McQueen the chance to spread the love around and direct a real ensemble. The cast is deep and impressive enough at this point that our own Kate Erbland has declared it to be the best of the year, so instead of getting too much into the who’s and what’s of things let’s just do a quick rundown. Joining lead actor Chiwetel Ejiofor will be the aforementioned Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Scoot McNairy, Ruth Negga, Garret Dillahunt, and Adepero Oduye. That’s an impressive list to say the least. And, seeing as the film has already started production, it wouldn’t seem like there’s much room left for anyone else to be added. Still, somehow McQueen has managed to […]

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While the rest of the movie-going universe debates the merits of Prometheus, Ridley Scott is busy putting the final touches on the Cormac McCarthy-scribed thriller The Counselor. The film stars Brad Pitt as a lawyer who gets involved with drug trafficking, and already sported the promising supporting cast of Michael the-best-thing-about-Prometheus Fassbender and McCarthy veteran Javier Bardem. According to Deadline Bloomington, another McCarthy veteran (remember All the Pretty Horses?), Penélope Cruz, has officially been added to the cast after being rumored for a role for some time. No word on what character she’ll play, but despite any reservations audiences have had about Scott’s latest star-studded genre outing, this cast in the first script penned by really-freaking-good novelist Cormac McCarthy seems promising. Deadline notes that the film has been described as [sigh...] “No Country For Old Men on steroids,” which promises exactly the opposite of everything that made that Best Picture winner interesting. Principal photography for The Counselor begins this summer.

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Late last week, the Daily Mail reported that Marc Forster‘s World War Z was set to undergo some massive reshoots in Budapest this fall, with the venerable Baz Bamigboye reporting that the production, wrapped for almost a year, was set to film for a boggling seven additional weeks. And now it looks like things are getting even worse for the Brad Pitt-starring adaptation, because those reshoots will apparently come care of screenwriter Damon Lindelof. The Hollywood Reporter has word that Lindelof has been tapped “to save” the production. He will reportedly focus on the film’s third act – which is deeply hilarious if one considers his apparent inability to really take things past the finish line (yes, I am talking about Prometheus, a film I was fully invested in until its third act, and even LOST and Cowboys & Aliens to varying degrees). The film has already been plagued by potential problems, including the delayed delivery of its first rejiggered script from Matthew Michael Carnahan, who was working off of some drafts by J. Michael Straczynski and the hard fact that World War Z the movie just didn’t sound like “World War Z” the beloved novel by Max Brooks. The main issue – how do you turn a book that’s about a post-zombie outbreak world into a movie about a world in the throes of a zombie outbreak? Oh, and also, how exactly do you focus the action all on one man, even if it is Brad Pitt?

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Scoot McNairy at Cannes

Scoot McNairy and Brad Pitt recently tag teamed Cannes with Killing Them Softly, which is apparently pretty good. Unsurprisingly.So it’s probably unsurprising that the pair are going to be working together again in Steve McQueen’s Twelve Years a Slave. Speaking of people who love working together, the film stars Michael Fassbender as a plantation owner who buys a free man (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) who is kidnapped and sold into slavery. According to Variety, McNairy will be playing a “shrewd circus worker” who has his eye on selling a free man as a slave. Hopefully McNairy can sell cabbage-smelling hands in a medium without scent.

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Brad Pitt in Killing Them Softly

Andrew Dominik always had an ominous mountain to climb with his next feature, having polarized opinion with The Assassination Of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford, that most tonal and visually textured of revisionist Westerns, but with Killing Them Softly he has certainly at least avoided the black hole that tends to suck young talents perilously down into obscurity. He might not, however, have scored a huge commercial hit. Taking a leaf out of Jesse James‘s book, Killing Them Softly is effectively a post-gangster film, deconstructing the genre and smashing it against the oh-so-contemporary wall built by recessions and austerity measures. The label might still seem to read “gangster,” with the presence of wise guys and henchmen presiding over their own lawless patches of the murky underbelly of normal society, but gone is the aspirational elements of Goodfellas and Casino in favor of a tight-belted, thoroughly modern revision of the gangster ideal. For all intents and purposes, this is the cut-price Cosa Nostra.

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Over Under - Large

Though Steven Soderbergh has had a lengthy career full of acclaimed projects, he’s perhaps best known for his remake of Ocean’s 11, a successful compiling of some of the biggest names in Hollywood for a good, old-fashioned heist movie that was so successful it spawned two sequels. Despite the fact that he was better known for artier fare when Ocean’s Eleven was released, audiences responded well to this fairly simple robbery tale, and the slight modern spin that Soderbergh put on the film’s largely vintage aesthetic got pretty universal praise. If there are any filmmakers working today who have a heftier resume of acclaimed works than Steven Soderbergh, then they’re definitely named Joel and Ethan Coen. The Coen brothers have been making artsy, weird movies ever since the mid-80s, and though it’s taken them a while to achieve any real financial success, they’ve always enjoyed an ever-increasing amount of critical acclaim. That is, until they ventured into the romantic comedy and heist genres in 2003 and 2004 with Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers. These two films are widely regarded as the Coens’ worst work, and their only movies worst skipping. This feeling is erroneous, however, because The Ladykillers in particular is very Coens and very fun, and the world was wrong for vilifying them for making a simple heist movie with a throwback feel. I mean, nobody minded when Soderbergh did it.

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We’ve been pretty closely following the development and casting news of Ridley Scott‘s The Counselor (written by no less than Cormac McCarthy), and while the bulk of casting so far has been quite exciting (Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, and Brad Pitt, to name the big guns), this is the first rumor that gives us pause. Twitch Film is reporting that Cameron Diaz has landed a role in the film, one Angelina Jolie was once hotly pursuing. The role of Malkina is one of two big female parts in the film, making this one of Diaz’s most juicy (and somewhat unexpected) gigs yet. While Diaz has yet to show that she’s capable of truly carrying a dark and dramatic role on her own, she has dipped her toe in interesting fare, stuff like The Box, Gangs of New York, and Being John Malkovich. She’s also continued to work on her comedic talents, showing a sort of weird fearlessness in recent roles, particularly the not-so-flattering Bad Teacher. And, hell, she’s even playing the female lead in the Coen brothers-penned Gambit remake, so perhaps Diaz is ready to take the next step in her acting career.

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The casting process for Ridley Scott’s next project, The Counselor, has been an absolute dream for people who like to write down famous people’s names. After going through a laundry list of the biggest actors working in Hollywood, Scott has seemed to settle on the titanic trio of Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, and Brad Pitt to play the three main male roles in this Cormac McCarthy-penned, lawyer-gone-bad drama. There has yet to be a consensus on who’s going to play the lead female role, that of the Fassbender character’s fianceé, however. The most recent buzz was that Pitt’s real-life fianceé Angelina Jolie was being looked at to come on board, but that never sounded like anything more than a long shot. And, sure enough, a recent report from THR claims that the actress’ role in the upcoming Disney film, Maleficent, would conflict with The Counselor’s shooting schedule.

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When we’re introduced to Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford‘s white-collar characters in the opening scene of The Cabin in the Woods, it becomes wildly apparent Drew Goddard‘s film is not your typical horror picture. They’re tasked with delivering an exceptional amount of exposition, which Goddard and Joss Whedon let them deliver with a pure sense of glee. Unlike Jenkins’s previous horror film performance, The Father in Let Me In, this is a character who is about as Average Joe as they come, and he just happens to have a not-so-Average-Joe occupation. Here’s what Jenkins had to say about comedic exposition, the brilliance of unexpected filmmaking, and why his character Ted in Burn After Reading deserved getting axed to death:

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When Cormac McCarthy writes a script for Hollywood, it seems that everyone and their brother comes out of the woodwork to try and get a job on the production, right quick. It wasn’t long after it was announced that his original screenplay, The Counselor, existed before it was also announced that Ridley Scott would be directing and Michael Fassbender was attached to play the lead role. And ever since then, there’s been a who’s who of entertainment industry royalty lining up to get in on the fun. Not too long ago it was said that Javier Bardem and Jeremy Renner were being looked at for the two remaining male roles, that of the villain and a drug runner, and that Natalie Portman was showing interest in coming in as the female lead.

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Remember a time before 1995 when movies were loaded with rainbows and puppies? Strawberry ice cream poured out of every frame. Then Se7en came along. Then things got really interesting. David Fincher‘s second effort at feature filmmaking caught a storm, and it was one filled with melancholic grime and depressing endings. Also there was something about a box and what was in it. The state of thrillers changed forever, and, while many copycats tried to pick up the scraps Se7en left in its wake, none would recapture that initial sense of dread when John Doe screamed at Detective David Mills, the killers hands covered in blood. Paints a pretty picture, doesn’t it? Well, with this week’s Commentary Commentary, we’re hoping the track we’ve selected paints a couple of dozen more. David Fincher, Brad Pitt, and Morgan Freeman lend their voices and insight into this commentary track for Se7en. If for no other reason, this track should already be looked into for including Freeman, who has one of the greatest voices this side of a certain Sith. So, without any further ado, here are all 25 items we learned from listening to the Se7en commentary. Now to find out what’s in that box.

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Fresh off their night of acting nominations for Moneyball, Jonah Hill and Brad Pitt are already planning on working together on another project. Not so much as co-stars though, this time around, Pitt will just be producing while Hill sidles up next to James Franco for the on-camera work. The project, which will be directed by Rupert Goold, is an adaptation of New York Times reporter Michael Finkel’s memoir “True Story.” Finkel’s story is a true life tale almost too strange to believe. It starts in 2002, when a man named Christian Longo, who was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list for the murders of his entire family, was captured in Mexico. What does this have to do with Michael Finkel, you ask? Well, it turns out that the entire time Longo was on the run, he was posing as Michael Finkel of the New York Times. And, to make matters more complicated, after his capture the only journalist he was willing to talk to about his arrest was…the real Michael Finkel from the New York Times.

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The Film: Fight Club (1999) The Plot: Our nameless Narrator (Edward Norton) works for a major auto manufacturer, investigating fatal crashes caused by product defects and running cost-benefit analyses to decide whether it’d be more expensive to recall the deadly cars or to pony up settlements in future class-action lawsuits. Sound like an amoral, soul-murdering job to you? Our Narrator agrees and embarks on a fumbling quest for peace. He gets a hearty shove down the path toward enlightenment when a) his apartment full of “versatile solutions for modern living” mysteriously explodes, b) he strikes up a love/hate relationship with the morbid nihilist Marla (Helena Bonham Carter), and c) he joins forces with soap entrepenuer and terrorist mastermind Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) to found the Fight Club movement.

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Oscar 2012 Predictions: Best Actor

Each year, there’s a certain group of people who bemoan the Oscars (and pretty much every other organization’s awards) for being nothing but a popularity contest. They’re right, of course, but the Oscars also helps set the standard for quality films… at least quality films from those who are popular in the industry. However, when it comes to the Academy Award for Best Actor, it’s probably the biggest popularity contest out there (only to be matched by the battle for the Best Actress Oscar, of course). It’s not just about who gave the most solid performance in a motion picture, but also who schmoozes the best at parties and on the red carpet. These awards are also often sewn up early and are less unpredictable than the lower profile awards for Costume Design and Sound Editing (Jane Eyre and Transformers represent, yo!). Still, as one of the “big six” awards, Best Actor is an important one. A nomination alone can breathe new life into a career. Just look at what it did for John Travolta in the mid-90s. Likewise, winning an award can help make you a superstar, like it did for Nicolas Cage around the same time. (Of course, now the Academy claims no responsibility for Cage’s more recent career choices.) In any respect, this year’s race for Best Actor presents a slate of great performances from newcomers and veterans alike, even if it’ll all be a popularity contest in the end. Read on for the nominations and my […]

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So I was watching the film The Descendants, and I couldn’t help but to laugh my ass off when the grandfather points to Nick Krause’s dumb-ass character and says “I’m going to hit you.” – Then, without any room for discussion he proves to be a man of his word. It got me thinking about some of the other great comedic punches out there, and soon enough I was assigning my wonder into list form. Violence and comedy together at last!

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Culture Warrior

A week and a half ago, Anthony Hemingway’s Red Tails was released. On the surface, the film breathes Hollywood oxygen through-and-through. It’s a WWII era action film that uses its setting for broad family-friendly cheese-banter and CGI-heavy eye candy rather than an opportunity for a sober interrogation of history. Red Tails looks and feels like any Hollywood film geared toward as mass an audience as possible. But the studio that’s distributing it – 20th Century Fox – didn’t pay a dime to produce it. The reported $58 million cost to make Red Tails came solely out of the pocket of producer George Lucas, who had been attempting to get a film about the Tuskegee Airmen made since the early 1990s. He was continually met with resistance from a studio system that saw anything less than the biggest guaranteed appeal to the largest possible audience as a “risk,” including a heroic true story about African-American airmen. The ideology that closed the doors on George Lucas of all people reflects the same business mentality that inspired Jeffrey Katzenberg’s lengthy warning to other studios in a memo written during the same years that Lucas was first trying to get Red Tails financed.  In the memo, Katzenberg warned studios regarding their practice of exponentially centralizing all their resources in a few very expensive projects, resulting in high risk, little room for experimentation, and an increasing reliance on that coveted monolith known as the “mass audience” (which, to make things even more complicated, now includes […]

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Jonah Hill

As you may have noticed if you’ve gone online or been anywhere near a TV today, the nominees for this year’s Academy Awards were announced this morning. Along with that always comes the scrambling to contact those nominated to get their reaction to the honor. Usually what they have to say is pretty boring, but hey, it’s a tradition. And it’s one that Variety has been hard at work keeping all day long. As a service to the world, I’ve compiled some of the more high profile reactions they’ve received here in one place.

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It’s been a year filled with silent screen stars seeking redemption, the 1920s coming alive in Paris, a young boy searching for the first great director, sex addicts in New York City, horses going to war, maids of dishonor, and skulls getting crushed in elevators. Now it’s time to celebrate all of those things and more with the 84th annual Academy Awards. They’ve come a long way since the Hotel Roosevelt in 1929 (although sex addicts have almost always been a fixture). Get to ready to smile, ball your fists with snubbed rage, or be generally unsurprised. Here they are. The 2012 Oscar nominees:

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Jemaine in Men in Black 3

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column born exactly one year ago today. And it’s very happy to still be around and well on its way to taking over the planet. It is convinced that it will have a very productive 2012 in that area, especially once humanity’s reign of terror ends later this year. In the mean time, it would like to thank you all for reading. Now enough of that mushy stuff, lets do the news. We begin this evening with an image of biker Jemaine Clement in Men in Black III. He’s playing an alien biker who turns out to be the villain in this time-traveling storyline…. And we wonder why that movie has had so many production problems? Either way, I’ll watch Jemaine Clement eat soap if I have to, as that guy is quite funny.

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Culture Warrior

As the final days of the calendar year wane to a close, efforts are made by anybody with Internet access to summarize and rank 2011’s products of popular culture. Two titles that have shown up repeatedly on end-of-year movie lists are Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life and Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia. While one was a summer release and the other a quite limited fall release, both these films in several ways have occupied conversations about film throughout the year: Malick’s film was highly anticipated not only because it was a new entry by a notoriously un-prolific director, but was staged as his magnum opus, and Von Trier’s film was anticipated not only because it was a Von Trier film, but was the follow-up to one of the most contentious and challenging films released thus far in this 21st century. In May, both films drew headlines after their Cannes premieres: Tree of Life for getting booed before taking home the top award, and Melancholia because of the utter shock of a career provocateur acting provocatively at a press conference. Having just recently seen Melancholia and in reflecting back on Tree of Life, I noticed that these two films interact as two piercing sides of the same vast coin which make them, perhaps more than any other roundly acclaimed and contentiously fought-over pair of films this year, speak to each other about the worth of human existence in a way that renders them inseparable.

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