Casey Affleck

outofthefurnace

“There are now two Americas. My country is a horror show.” The above summary is of an an impromptu speech The Wire showrunner David Simon delivered at “The Festival of Dangerous Ideas” in Sydney this week. Simon’s work as producer has been characterized by a distinct effort to represent the “great horror show” America he mentions – the America without social mobility, the America where people are left to survive in the marginal social position they’ve inherited, the America without special interest groups to make a perpetual underclass visible in the media and worth pandering to for politicians’ votes. The Wire, as Simon attests directly, sought to represent the conditions and lives of people who are “economically worthless,” a series that lent a rare lens to ordinary people’s endurance in the face of total invisibility in the public sphere. Mainstream contemporary movies and television shows have, perhaps until very recently, almost exclusively surveyed the lives of those with considerable economic worth: audiences with expendable income that can be advertised to during commercial breaks or be expected to buy most movie tickets. But Out of the Furnace and Killing Them Softly – both of which take place in 2008 and were released almost exactly a year apart – offer an incisive lens into a hermetically sealed, economically deprived, and otherwise underrepresented American underclass.

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cooper

43-year-old Scott Cooper didn’t direct his first feature film until he was 37.  2009′s Crazy Heart scored Jeff Bridges his first oscar, and it also made Cooper a director on the rise. The film cost only $7m and went on to earn more than $47m worldwide, making it both a critical and financial smash. That’s not a feat we see often, but for Cooper, he couldn’t have asked for a more welcoming result for his debut. His follow-up, Out of the Furnace, is an entirely different kind of film, featuring an ensemble cast, life and death stakes and suspense. Before it premiered at AFI Fest last month, one of the producers compared Out of the Furnace to The Deer Hunter, inferring that they didn’t set out to make a film that goes down easy. The talent in attendance clearly stated their intention: they wanted to make a movie about America. Not the big booming cities, but the small towns that have been left in financial turmoil. That wasn’t the story Brad Ingelsby‘s set out to write in the beginning. “The original screenplay was based on the idea of a man who gets out of prison and must avenge someone,” says Cooper, delving into the film’s subtext. “The rest all comes from a very personal experience. As I said in those opening remarks [at AFI], I wanted to show the turbulent world we’ve lived in the the last five years. I thought it was important to express my personal and artistic worldview through that lens, and out comes Out of the Furnace.”

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Film Title:  Out of the Furnace

Editor’s note: Our review of Out of the Furnace originally ran during this year’s AFI Fest, but we’re re-posting it now as the film opens in theatrical release. Sometimes it seems like the future is rapidly approaching, with more and more information being digitally consumed and smartphones attached to the palm of almost everyone’s hand, but there are still places that are untouched by time, where family and community are paramount. It may seem like a simpler life, but Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace shows just how difficult life in an industrial community on the decline can be. Russell (Christian Bale) and Rodney Baze (Casey Affleck) are two brothers trying to carve out fulfilling lives for themselves in the wake of hard times and the deteriorating health of their father. Russell is a good man who seems content to work hard for his family and his girlfriend Lena (Zoe Saldana), but Rodney is more of a loose canon. As a solider recently called back for another tour overseas, the younger Baze brother is wrestling with some serious demons.

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Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford

The idea of robbing banks and trains should conjure up images of brazen cowboys and the spaghetti western music of Ennio Morricone, but instead, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford depicts a stark world left in the wake of these famed outlaws, full of melancholy and restlessness. Jesse James has a very distinctive look and feel thanks to the cinematography, the acting from the film’s two leads and the costumes — all of which give Jesse James an almost mournful tone. There’s one other element that solidifies that dirge-evoking spirit. The film may have come out six years ago, but with a revival screening poised to take place this weekend, it felt time to revisit Nick Cave and Warren Ellis‘ score, a work which embraces the mystery and magic that is the story of Jesse James as it is told through the unreliable perspective of its narrator Bob Ford (Casey Affleck).

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Jesse James

It’s strange to think that we’re in need of a revival (and a “revival” in the truest sense of the word) of a film that’s not even a decade old and that features star turns from big names like Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, and Sam Rockwell, but such is the case when it comes to Andrew Dominik’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. The critically beloved (it has a strong 76% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, though we think that should still be a fair bit higher) box office flop (it pulled in less than $4m at the worldwide box office in a very small release, a real mess considering its reported budget of $30m) is currently set for a two-night revival at New York City’s own Museum of the Moving Image, and that’s just the beginning. The best part of getting Dominik’s modern masterwork back on the big screen is that it comes care of an admiring fanbase. The new revival, amusingly titled “No Eulogies,” is hitting the big screen thanks to cinephile and big time Jesse James fan Jamieson McGonigle, whose admiration of the film extends so far that he recently told the New York Times that he thinks “It’s the best film that’s come out since 2000.” McGonigle originally conceived of the revival as something of a bachelor party, as he already has his own print of the film to screen and considered his plan on marrying next year at the museum a good […]

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furnace

When the first trailer for Scott Cooper’s (Crazy Heart) Out of the Furnace hit, it made the movie seem like a pretty safe bet right away. The footage had a tattooed, rusty authenticity to it, the story featured stakes that were immediate and grave, and the cast—well it’s just a really good cast they’ve put together. But then, in the second half of the ad, what originally looked like a simple, gritty revenge story suddenly gave way to religious imagery, corny flashbacks, general melodrama, and a soaring Pearl Jam song over the soundtrack that made the whole thing seem like it just might be too pretentious and overbearing to reach its potential. Now there’s a second trailer out for the film though, and while it’s mostly a remix of footage that was already shown in the first, this time the focus is more on the danger of getting involved with a bunch of criminal hillbillies, and this time some girl doing a sort of panicked cover of Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’ provides the soundtrack, so everything gets presented with a much more haunting tone and less of a bro rock one. Check it out, really, it ends up working so much better.

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Casey Affleck

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints proved the effectiveness of David Lowery and Casey Affleck; now it seems as though these two great tastes will taste great together once more in To Be Two. Based on a short story from Paul Broks‘ “Into the Silent Lands: Travels in Neuropsychology.” To Be Two describes a future where teleportation is an everyday occurrence. To visit Mars, just step into a teleporter; a perfect clone appears on Mars while the original copy is instantly, painlessly vaporized. Of course, the teleporter malfunctions and two Casey Afflecks are now on the loose, with the government hunting them down to correct such a grievous mistake.

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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

For the writer and director of Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, David Lowery, the story of Ruth (Rooney Mara) and Bob (Casey Affleck), two lovers pulled apart by their Bonnie and Clyde-style life, was too compelling to be confined to one film (read our own Allison Loring’s glowing review from Sundance here). Thoughout Saints, the characters are mostly apart, compelling Lowery to go so far as to write a short film about the couple in their carefree, young-love days before their crime spree caught up with them. But alas, the project never worked out. Enter Criterion Collection artist Eric Skillman, who together with comic book artist Matthew Southworth, took the plot of Lowery’s prequel and created New Tattoo, a digital graphic novel available in its entirety over at Entertainment Weekly. It’s a cool-hued (and just plain cool), subdued little feature that complements the film beautifully; anyone who saw Saints would have loved to see more about the hopeless lovers in the days when things were a little less bleak. Plus, isn’t it always great when filmmakers give us something like this for free?

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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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Aint them Bodies Saints

So you wanna see the Rooney Mara/Casey Affleck movie that everyone (including us) lost their minds over at Sundance? Awesome. We want to show it to you. We’re co-hosting a screening in Los Angeles tomorrow evening (8/13) at 7:30 Pacific, and we need you (and your handsome/beautiful +1) to fill some seats. All you have to do is email me at scott@filmschoolrejects.com by midnight Pacific (8/12) with the subject “How About Them Saints?” and tell us your name and why you want to go. Super easy. We’ll choose the winners at random and notify them tomorrow morning. And in case you don’t know about the film, here’s a trailer and a bit more about it.

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Out of the Furnace

Christian Bale doting on his brother. Economic hardship. Boxing. Right off the bat, the trailer for Out of the Furnace can’t help but recall 2010′s The Fighter, even if Bale has a little less Boston in his speech and a little more bulk on his frame. But soon enough, Out of the Furnace distinguishes itself and the real story becomes clear. Bale plays Russell Baze, a steel-mill worker whose brother becomes involved in a local crime ring and disappears. After every effort to find his brother has failed, Russell takes the law into his own hands to uncover the truth.

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bonhamcarter

What is Casting Couch? It’s one more shot of casting updates before you’re off to enjoy your weekend. Read on for stories involving Anne Hathaway, Gerard Depardieu, and Scarlett Johansson. Helena Bonham Carter has always had an otherworldly quality to her. That’s probably why she’s spent much of her career playing queens, witches, ape women, junkies, and the like. And it’s probably why Kenneth Branagh has tapped her to play a very magical role in his upcoming live action take on Cinderella. THR is reporting that she’s been hired to play Cinderella’s fairy godmother, the mystical benefactor who’s famous for helping the little servant girl along by turning pumpkins into stage coaches and water into wine, or whatnot. She joins a pretty stacked cast that features names like Downton Abbey’s Lily James as the title character, Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden as the charming prince, and Cate Blanchett as the wicked stepmother.

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I Killed My Lesbian Wife

Short Starts presents a weekly short film from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career.  For some filmmakers, an early short film can be a memorable calling card. For others, it may be an embarrassment from one’s past, something the now-revered artist wishes was erased both physically and historically. The latter is the case for Ben Affleck, who has admitted to being ashamed of his 20-year-old directorial debut, I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meat Hook, and Now I Have a Three-Picture Deal at Disney. It’s got a great title (aside from the Oxford comma), but the film itself is indeed something worth regretting. It’s the sort of work someone like Affleck should worry has been seen by enough Academy members to keep him being snubbed for the Best Director Oscar forever. “It’s horrible,” he told Entertainment Weekly a few years ago. “It’s atrocious. I knew I wanted to be a director, and I did a couple of short films, and this is the only one that haunts me. I’m not proud of it…It looks like it was made by someone who has no prospects, no promise.”

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What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting roundup that has news about Timothy Olyphant putting on cowboy boots again. Read on! Is Kristen Wiig going to be joining the cast of Anchorman: The Legend Continues? Maybe. The Wrap has a report that she’s being looked at to play the love interest (presumably replacing lamp) of Steve Carell’s dimwitted Brick Tamland in Paramount’s upcoming sequel. Of course, this one is far from starting filming (the script isn’t even done yet), and Kristen Wiig is being looked at for essentially every comedy that calls for a female part right now, so it’s hard to say if everyone’s schedules are going to synch up or not when all is said and done. Wiig getting thrown into the mix of the Anchorman crew does sound pretty dang promising though, doesn’t it? We’ll be watching this one for new developments very closely.

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Drinking Games

Even though October passed us by almost a month ago, Focus Features has decided to drop its brilliant stop-motion animated film ParaNornman during the Christmas season. Consider it a gift to all of us scary movie fans who can adore this sweet-yet-spooky film in the comfort of our own homes without kids in costumes ringing the doorbell, constantly interrupting to demand candy. Of course, since you’ll be enjoying this film at home, possibly eating the last reserves of your plastic jack-o’-lantern bucket, you can knock back a couple drinks in the process. But go easy on the spirits, considering this movie is good enough to remember without a hangover.

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Editor’s note: With FSR favorite ParaNorman opening today, we thought it was only appropriate to re-post our very special set visit from the film, originally posted on May 21, 2012. I recently visited a nondescript building outside Portland, Oregon that would feel right at home in any corporate office park in America. Nothing about the bland, uninteresting exterior even hinted at what to expect beyond the front doors. There’s no sign outside to tell you where you are. No iconic sculptures alluding to what they do inside. Nothing at all that even hints at the harmonious blend of magic and technology within. But make no mistake, what LAIKA Studios is hiding inside those four generic-looking walls is nothing short of a revolution in film production…a revolution 115 years in the making. LAIKA is the studio behind 2009′s critical and commercial hit, Coraline, a film that utilized creepy but beautiful stop-motion puppetry to tell Neil Gaiman’s dark childhood fable. Their follow-up feature is an original work called ParaNorman. It’s an Amblin-like tale of a small New England town, a very special boy who can see and talk with the dead, and a zombie uprising that threatens to destroy them all. And yes, it’s a comedy. Keep reading for a peek behind the scenes of LAIKA Studios’ upcoming production, ParaNorman, and their secret, high-tech weapon…Rapid Prototype 3D printers.

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Over Under - Large

When writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman teamed up on the 2007 film, Juno, the responses were mixed. Some people liked it quite a bit, not just because it was clever and quippy, but also because it presented a realistic, affecting look at the inherent drama of teenage pregnancy. Other people thought that it was painfully self-conscious in its hipness and insufferably annoying in its quirk, so they raged against any praise that came its way. Their next team-up, Young Adult, was different though. Not only did this look at a washed-up YA author traveling back to her home town in order to break up her high school sweetheart’s marriage do well with Juno fans, it did quite well with those who couldn’t stand Cody’s writing up to that point, as well. Charlize Theron’s painfully honest protagonist and Patton Oswalt’s achingly tragic supporting character really hit home for most. On the other end of the spectrum, the 2005 film Lonesome Jim doesn’t get very many mentions in a very many circles. On a couple levels, that makes sense. It’s a micro-budget indie that doesn’t provide any spectacle and didn’t get much promotion, and it was only seen on a handful of screens during its theatrical release. On the other hand, there are several reasons why you’d think this movie would have gotten more play over time. It’s one of the few films directed by Steve Buscemi, who everybody seems to love, it’s got great lead performances by Casey Affleck […]

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Scott Cooper’s followup to 2009’s Crazy Heart has been making a lot of headlines lately due to all of its impressive casting announcements. Out of the Furnace is a movie about an ex-con trying to get his life together after getting out of prison. Unfortunately, the world is a tough place to live in, and bad things happen. So when the protagonist’s little brother gets caught up in some shady dealings that have an unfortunate end, he finds himself in a situation where he has to turn his new leaf back over to the dirty side, in order to seek revenge. A huge chunk of the cast has already been filled out by signees that were made official just a few days ago. Christian Bale has long been locked for the role of the lead character, Russell. And after his casting came names like Casey Affleck, who’s playing the little brother who meets a tragic end, Zoe Saldana, who is the Bale character’s love interest, and Sam Shepard, who’s all set to play his uncle, Red. Only one thing’s left: who’s going to play the villain? Every good crime movie needs a good bad guy, and with the cast that Out of the Furnace already has in place, not just any old actor will do for this one. You bring in somebody unestablished—without any chops—and he’s going to shrink when standing next to screen presences like Bale and Affleck. No, this movie needs a big damn personality, and if a […]

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Confirming some long-rumored casting picks, and even throwing in a surprise or two, Relativity Media has just sent around a press release detailing confirmed casting for Scott Cooper‘s Out of the Furnace. After the critical success of his directorial debut (which was nominated for three Oscars, ultimately winning two, including Jeff Bridges’s long-deserved first Academy Award), Cooper has been attached to a number of projects, but Out of the Furnace will be his first film since 2009. The release confirms that Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Zoe Saldana, and Sam Shepard are set to star in the gritty drama. Bale has been on board as lead Russell Baze since August, but this is the official confirmation of his role. Affleck and Saldana have been attached to the film since March as Bale’s younger brother and love interest, respectively, but back then, Robert Duvall was mentioned to take Shepard’s role as the Baze brothers’ uncle, Red. Still up in the air? The villain role – once rumored to be played by Viggo Mortensen or Billy Bob Thornton. At this point, they could cast anyone in this role, as the current cast is a fantastic collection of talents.

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