Ciaran Hinds

bana

A few nights ago, because I’m a rather busy man, I spent three hours revisiting the 2004 Cannes Film Festival gem, Troy. That’s the Wolfgang Peterson movie where much of its buzz was based on Brad Pitt’s abs and, to my disappointment, only semi-nude scenes, not the fact that it featured Peter O’Toole, Brian Cox, Brendan Gleeson, and other seasoned pros. Also in that cast was Eric Bana – shortly after grabbing attention with Andrew Dominik’s Chopper and Ridley Scott’s Blackhawk Down. Troy wasn’t exactly up to snuff with those two films, but, in a big ‘ol cheese ball of a movie where even O’Toole hammed it up a little too much, Bana brought a much needed gravitas to Peterson’s light popcorn epic. He was stoic and imposing as Hector, and you’ll see him as the opposite in this week’s Closed Circuit, where he plays a jaded lawyer who probably wouldn’t even know how to fire a gun if you handed him one. We spoke with Eric Bana about Closed Circuit‘s old-school vibe and the longevity a few of his films have enjoyed over the years:

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Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr heads to the desert to hide in a cave, hoping against hope that some mystical bald alien will beam him to Mars so he can make a pass at the ridiculously gorgeous Lynn Collins in a brass bikini. Unfortunately, no one came to his rescue, so he snuck into an abandoned house in upstate New York to terrorize some people. Again, no one came. That left Kevin to skip his movies this week so he could go to the library and find a book that would allow him to curse Eddie Murphy into not speaking. He hasn’t been heard from since.

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Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr takes the week off because the studios didn’t screen the new releases anywhere near him. In fact, he was specifically told not to come to one particular screening. And that can’t be a good sign, can it? What else can you expect for the movies in the weeks leading up to the Oscars, ‘cause the new ones in the theaters don’t stand a chance of winning anything next year. To take away the pain of not seeing movies this week, Kevin makes a deal with the devil, selling his soul for the ability to set his skull on fire whenever he sees a bad movie. Unfortunately, the light from said flaming skull got him kicked out of the theater because someone thought he was using his cell phone to pirate the film.

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It’s easy to predict one’s response to Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. You either accept the idea of a flaming-skull Nicolas Cage sucking the souls out of leather jacket-clad baddies, or you don’t. You relish Cage in full-on, over-the-top crazy mode – weird twitching and all – or you’re sick of his penchant for CGI-heavy junk. This isn’t rocket science. That being said, the Ghost Rider franchise, such as it is, has come a long way since the mediocre original flick, which opened in 2007, or approximately 100 Cage movies ago. Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (Crank), masters of speed-freak cinema, have taken over the directorial reigns and amped things up with fast motion, quick cuts, some artful comic-book stylistic digressions, slick pseudo-religious imagery and a much-needed helping of humor.

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Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr heads out to the drab English countryside to settle a woman’s estate only to find the place haunted. Fortunately, Kevin had already crawled down a mysterious hole and gained super powers, so he’s able to fend off the evil spirits. For a fleeting moment, he considers using his new powers for good, like to save a family of gray whales trapped under the ice in Barrow, Alaska. However, his fear of the 30 Days of Night vampires keep him at home. He then decides to use his new powers to read the subtitles of The Hidden Face so he can enjoy the copious amounts of pretty Colombian breasts.

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Tomas Alfredson hasn’t made your typical spy thriller. Not only is that due to the lack of explosions, a fast pace, shootouts, or any other convention the genre tends to call for, but because Alfredson hasn’t really made a “thriller.” Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, in actuality, is a dark ensemble love story about lonely spies. The best character who represents everything the film says is Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong). At first, Jim, a towering field operative, is played with a quiet intensity. He’s calculating and observant like the rest of his spy brethren, but once stripped down of his serious spy mode and once revealed at his most vulnerable, Jim’s an emotionally and psychologically tortured guy. The world of espionage is a vicious place, so says the film. At one point, for great reasons I won’t spoil, Jim ends up going from pivotal spy missions to teaching school children in an instant. For one, how emasculating and damaging that must be. The character goes from a life of importance and violence, and then goes off to teach children. The system chewed him up and spat him out like he was nothing.

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The Avengers and The Walking Dead weren’t the only highlights from this past Saturday at NYCC. While some were walking the show floor and enjoying many of the smaller panels going on throughout the day, a majority had one goal… Get their ass to the IGN theater. And while a fair amount were merely their to squat a seat for the two big events that would go on later that evening, I was there to enjoy some really awesome panels, the first of which was for the new FOX show Terra Nova.

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The Debt is a painstakingly old-fashioned drama that’s far more interested in the nuances of human behavior than exploitation or pyrotechnics. At the same time, in telling the parallel stories of Mossad agents hunting a Nazi doctor in East Berlin circa 1966 and those same agents dealing with the consequences of that mission 30 years later, John Madden’s film evokes the existential themes that lie at the heart of Israel’s creation. To straddle both those worlds within the constraints of a tightly-wound thriller is a considerable accomplishment. And this eloquent remake of a 2007 Israeli picture with the same name harkens back to the old-fashioned aesthetics of genre movies that mean something, films that are unafraid of drawing out big ideas between familiar lines. The film stars Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson and Ciarán Hinds as the older version of agents Rachel Singer, Stephan Gold and David Peretz, who discover that the book has not been written on their mission of 30+ years ago with the finality they thought it had. Jessica Chastain, Martin Csokas and Sam Worthington play their younger selves, tracking the sadistic Doktor Bernhardt (Jesper Christensen) astride the Iron Curtain.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr readies for a Labor Day vacation at a lake house surrounded by bloodthirsty sharks. Once dinner is over for the little beasties, he goes undercover in 1960s-era East Berlin to help a bunch of emotionally brittle Mossad agents to kidnap a Nazi war criminal. Unfortunately, all they uncover is dozens of hours of video recordings from a lost NASA moon landing. So Kevin decides to edit all of this footage together into a feature film and hock it to the Weinsteins, convincing them that it really happened… or did it?

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Why are spies so sad and mopey now? Where are the cool, suave, and untouchable secret agents? Lately, nowhere to be found on the big screen. Director John Madden certainly is not bringing back the era of smooth heroes with his latest film, The Debt. The director’s small, claustrophobic remake focuses on lost individuals who display more heartache and moral uncertainty than your typical heroics. Madden did not make a film about a secret mission gone awry, but a film about regret and the power of lies. A few years ago director Matthew Vaughn was attached to helm the thriller, and if he ended up behind the camera, The Debt would be a very different film. Instead of going for a stylish and poppy feel, the Shakespeare in Love filmmaker went with something far more claustrophobic and full of moral uncertainty. As a result, Madden made something many, many notches above Kill Shot in the quality department. Here is what director John Madden had to say about his three damaged Mossad agents, taking a serious matter seriously, and the power of regret:

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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy comes to us thanks to Tomas Alfredson, who is best known to horror freaks as the director of the original Let the Right One In, which is nervy and terrifying and better than just about any other vampire film made, oh, well, pretty much ever. Now it looks as if Alfredson is trying to do for the spy genre what he did for the vampire genre – basically, make it exciting and interesting again. The loverly Rob Hunter showed us the first trailer for the film back in June, and I proceeded to slobber all over it like I’d never seen a piece of movie marketing before. The film features an all-star cast packed with badasses, including Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciaran Hinds, Mark Strong, Toby Jones, John Hurt, and Stephen Graham. It’s essentially as if every single actor you’ve ever wanted to see in a spy flick got together and made that spy flick, but made it much more clever than you would have been able to craft on your own.

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Sam Worthington in The Debt

The first trailer for The Debt has hit the web. This movie, which appears to have snuck up on many of us, is the latest from Shakespeare in Love director John Madden. It’s a trip into the world of Isreali agents hunting down Nazi war criminals, and it’s filled with an interesting cast. The likes of Sam Worthington and Jessica Chastain are flanked by some serious talent: Helen Mirren, Ciaran Hinds and Tom Wilkinson. The trailer doesn’t give us much to work with beyond evoking the general look and feel of Steven Spielberg’s Munich, but it does deliver a sense of energy. And it does have a bit of energy. It’s worth noting that this film is based on a story by Kick-Ass creative duo Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman. The official synopsis and new trailer are yours to play with after the jump.

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Warner Bros. wants he iconic actor to face the true-life events of a priest in exorcism school. Yes, they exist.

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FSR

Kevin Carr reviews this week’s new movies: Race to Witch Mountain, Last House on the Left and Miss March.

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The Rock in Race to Witch Mountain

Didn’t The Rock learn anything from Vin Diesel’s foray into the world of family action comedies — I think we all remember how The Pacifier worked out, and Race to Witch Mountain has all the potential workings of a similar fate.

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