Devil’s Knot

RAM Releasing

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Hide and Seek Sung-soo is a successful business owner with a perfect family, a gorgeous condo and an enviable life all around. He also has memories of a step brother he essentially abandoned years ago. When he gets word that his brother has gone missing he heads to the man’s apartment and discovers a dangerous mystery. This Korean thriller manages to be far creepier than any “typical” piece of Asian horror as psychopaths will always be scarier than long-haired ghost girls. More than that though the film is directed and edited to near perfection. Sequences thrill, excite and terrify as the story unfolds, and while the script has some major issues they’re easily ignored because everything else works so damn well. From the legitimate twists to the commentary on class warfare and fears, this is a fantastical thriller. [DVD extras: Making of]

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West-of-Memphis

It almost seems too obvious. From the moment that the production of Devil’s Knot was announced, film lovers the world over noted that it was covering material that had already gone well-trodden by documentaries. And it’s not a case like, say, that time a fiction film and a documentary about the Jack Abramoff scandal came out in the same year. The case of the West Memphis Three has been turned into not one but four docs, and they are anything but low-profile. The movies of the Paradise Lost trilogy are among the best-known, most important documentaries of modern times. And West of Memphis struck at just the right time, just as new developments in the case brought it back into the national spotlight. But that doesn’t mean that a good adaptation of this story couldn’t have been made. In fact, the story of the West Memphis Three is so ripe for Hollywood exploitation that it’s honestly surprising that it’s taken this long for it to happen. It has everything the Oscars love: incredible tragedy, outrageous injustice, and an ending note of inspirational triumph. But Devil’s Knot botches it very, very badly. Even the more problematic documentaries about the WM3 are preferable to it. READ MORE AT NONFICS

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Colin Firth in Devil

Devil’s Knot is in a bit of a pickle. A new trailer for the film just debuted online, tempting audiences with two minutes’ worth of Colin Firth speaking in a Southern twang. But two hours’ worth of the same premiered at last fall’s Toronto International Film Festival, and the results were… well, less than stellar. So director Atom Egoyan and Devil’s Knot must peddle their wares, knowing all too well that the typing of a mere two words — “Rotten Tomatoes” — can all but obliterate the goodwill generated from Colin Firth saying “y’all.”

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devils_knot

Four highly publicized documentaries in, it should go without saying that the West Memphis Three ordeal has taken up its fair share of screentime. The necessity for a narrative feature is a questionable one, and despite the potential promise of Atom Egoyan’s Devil’s Knot, the film ultimately stands as a prime example why the story shouldn’t be adapted into a narrative feature – at least not a narrative feature this lazy and uninteresting as this one. Even with a cast that includes Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth, Kevin Durand, Dane DeHaan, Bruce Greenwood, Amy Ryan, and Mireille Enos, Egoyan has delivered one of the worst big screen takes on a true story of this magnitude in quite some time, an eye-popping failure of both execution and emotion. Egoyan fails to engage with not only his audience but also the actual material he’s attempting to portray on screen, making Devil’s Knot one of the year’s most disappointing misfires.

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devils-knot

Courtesy of EW comes this first, small look at Atom Egoyan‘s Devil’s Knot, the dramatization of the horrible tale of the West Memphis Three, a trio of teenage boys who were convicted in the 1993 murders of three eight year-old boys despite a lack of evidence. Though the incident has been the subject of several documentaries, this is the first time their story has come to the big screen as a factual, but fictionalized drama based on a 2002 nonfiction book of the same name by Mara Leveritt. Colin Firth is front and center in the only two stills released, and handsome as the man is, they’re not giving us much to work with before the film’s premiere at TIFF. Firth plays Ron Lax, a private investigator who worked to find DNA evidence that proved the three teens may not have committed the heinous crimes. In the first image, Firth appears on his massive ’90s brick phone, chatting about important PI business, while in the second, he sits in the courtroom with another investigator (Collette Wolfe) looking like they both just heard some bad news.

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And we’re back on the Devil’s Knot casting beat (and, yes, we’re pretty beat by it). Atom Egoyan‘s upcoming film documenting the tragedy of the West Memphis 3 has so far collected a cast of various talents and notoriety levels, including Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth, Mireille Enos, Collette Wolfe, Kris Polaha, Kristopher Higgins, along with still-in-negotiations actors Amy Ryan and Dane DeHaan, but now the filmmaker is mining some truly undiscovered country. Variety reports that Seth Meriwether has been tapped for the role of West Memphis 3 defendant Jason Baldwin (the outlet notes that earlier reports that Justin Castor was set for the role were “premature,” as the actor had not yet received an official offer at the time of it hitting the wire). Don’t know Meriwether’s name? Well, you wouldn’t – the kid is a seventeen-year-old high school senior from Montgomery, Alabama. Just how the heck did Meriwether land such a plum part? The outlet doesn’t say, but it does reveal that Meriwether recently filmed a “minor role” in the Clint Eastwood-starring Trouble With the Curve, so we can only assume that his work there got the word out. A brief Google search of the kid’s name also turned up a myriad of articles detailing his acting career over the years, so it looks like Meriwether has been honing his chops for quite some time. But Egoyan has cast yet another unknown as the final member of the West Memphis 3, and this one does come with a thrilling […]

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In which we return to our well-worn beat of covering casting news on Atom Egoyan‘s Devil’s Knot, which will chronicle the real life tragedy and drama of the West Memphis 3. The film has already cast Reese Witherspoon as the mother of one of the murdered boys, Alessandro Nivola as her husband (and a possible suspect), Colin Firth as private investigator Ron Lax, and Mireille Enos as a major witness. Casting on the film has now ramped up so considerably that we’ll just tease you with some names and provide a full rundown of their involvement and possible roles after the break. Amy Ryan. Collette Wolfe. Dane DeHaan. Read on!

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Atom Egoyan‘s Devil’s Knot continues to slowly round out its cast with interesting and perhaps off-beat casting choices. Next up, Deadline Primm reports that Alessandro Nivola will play a crucial role in Egoyan’s film that centers on the real life story of the West Memphis 3. Nivola (Face/Off, Grace Is Gone) has been tapped to play Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of one of the victims in the brutal 1993 murder of three small boys. The role is billed as “pivotal” to the film and, with Reese Witherspoon set to play Hobbs’ wife Pam (and the mother of victim Stevie Branch), the pair’s relationship will “form the backbone of the story.” But Hobbs’ importance in the film is not just of the emotional variety – he’s still viewed as a primary suspect in the case. Hobbs has long been linked to the murders as a possible suspect and, even twenty years later, new evidence continues to come out against the man. Amy Berg’s Sundance documentary, West of Memphis, also paid particular attention to Hobbs as a suspect, with the last third or so of the film focusing squarely on a bevy of new accusations and witnesses who have come out against Hobbs (some of the interviews were filmed just days before the film premiered at the festival).

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Atom Egoyan‘s upcoming drama based on the real-life tragedy of the West Memphis 3, Devil’s Knot, has been quite slowly accumulating cast members, with news on each new member of the production trickling out over the course of many months. Reese Witherspoon joined the cast in December as Pam Hobbs, the mother of victim Stevie Branch, and Colin Firth signed on in February to play Ron Lax, a private eye who offered his services to the WM3 before their trial in 1993. While the project itself was announced all the way back in August, with such delicate material to cover, perhaps Egoyan is taking his time in picking his cast (what an idea!). Devil’s Knot has now added its third major cast member, and it is indeed a delicate role that is being filled – Deadline Seattle reports that The Killing star Mireille Enos will play Vicki Hutcheson in the film. Those who are familiar with the WM3 tragedy and trials surely know Hutcheson’s name – she became a key witness during the 1993 investigation into the murders of children Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers, a witness who later recanted her statements. The film continues the Golden Globe-nominated actress’ foray into features – she will next be seen in Gangster Squad and World War Z.

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Atom Egoyan’s planned cinematic dramatization of the infamous West Memphis 3 triple homicide story, Devil’s Knot (based on the book by Mara Leveritt of the same name), seems to be trucking along nicely. The first news that came out about this project was that Reese Witherspoon had been cast as Pam Hobbs, the mother of one of the three victims in this grizzly murder tale. That gave a project that’s still looking for funding and distribution some much-needed star power. The newest bit of casting news should help in that regard as well. Deadline Eastleigh is reporting that the 2011 winner for the Best Actor Oscar, Colin Firth, is joining the cast as well. That should put even more attention and even a little bit of prestige on this project, which Deadline says is now pretty close to getting funding and distribution deals in place. Firth joins the cast playing Ron Lax, a private investigator working on the case who did a lot of the initial work that cast doubt on the guilt of the three defendants, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley Jr. It was his investigation that found DNA in the ropes tying up one of the victims that implicated not the three teenage boys, but Terry Hobbs, the husband of the woman Witherspoon is playing, in the murders.

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The West Memphis Three trials are infamous, not just for the brutality of the crime that spawned them, but also for the controversy surrounding the verdict. The case involved the triple homicide of three 8-year-old boys and the conviction of three teenagers, who were thought to be responsible for the crime. After the three were imprisoned, however, doubts began to grow about their guilt, eventually leading to their release from prison on August 19th of this year, 17 years after their conviction. The entirety of the trials, convictions, imprisonments, and further investigations into the murders that eventually led to the suspects’ releases were already well-chronicled in the Paradise Lost trilogy of documentaries done by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, but now it seems that since the whole ordeal has come to an end, Hollywood is going to take a crack at dramatizing the story. To that end, screenwriters Scott Derrickson and Paul Boardman (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) have been adapting a screenplay from a book about the murders, Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three, which was written by Mara Leveritt. That’s a lot of names involved with this project already, but let’s add one more to the pile. Derrickson and Boardman’s script is going to be directed by Atom Egoyan (Chloe), who has worked on the latest draft of the script with Boardman. The newest news about the film is that Egoyan and company have signed Reese Witherspoon to play a featured role. She’ll be […]

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