Draft Day

Kevin Costner in DRAFT DAY

Meatballs, Stripes, Ghostbusters and Dave are four of Ivan Reitman‘s films that have stood the test of time. When Reitman was on top of his game, the now 67-year-old filmmaker hit grand slams. I’m not using these sports metaphors because his latest film, Draft Day, includes the NFL Draft, but because, like athletes, some directors have hot streaks and cold streaks. For an array of reasons, slumps happen. Reitman’s lasted 18 years. After Dave he directed Junior, Father’s Day, Evolution, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, and Six Days, Seven Nights. A few of those films had glimmers of hope that Reitman hadn’t lost his touch, but during those years, only as a producer was he making quality movies. People generally focus on the films that proceeded Dave, not Old School, Up in the Air,  I Love You, Man and Private Parts, and one of those acclaimed films he came close to directing. “It was stupid,” Reitman says, on why he didn’t direct Private Parts himself. “I was doing three movies at once: Space Jam, which I was sort of directing, but I wasn’t officially directing; Father’s Day, which I shouldn’t have directed, because we never got the script right; and Private Parts. Private Parts was the one I gave up, and I shouldn’t have.”

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Draft Day Movie

Anyone who follows sports knows that being a fan of the Cleveland Browns can be a heartbreaking endeavor. Of all the teams in the NFL, the Browns seem to pull the short straw the most. They have never been to the Super Bowl, let alone won the big game. (Of course, any good Browns fan will tell you that they won plenty of national championships in the 50s and 60s before the creation of the Super Bowl, but that only makes it sting a little less.) Sure, three other teams share this distinction with the Cleveland Browns, but two of them were recent expansion teams (the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans). The other is the Detroit Lions, and that city gets more bad press than Cleveland. (Sorry, Detroit.) Having a go at Cleveland teams and their often unfortunate records has become a bit of a tradition in Hollywood. Back in 1989, the film Major League poked some fun at the then-terrible Cleveland Indians, seeing the team fictionally win the pennant. Now, cinema history seems to be repeating itself with the film Draft Day, in which Kevin Costner plays the general manager who tries to wheel and deal a winning team during the NFL draft. Though it may be a bit more Moneyball than Major League for football, Draft Day is striking a chord with Cleveland fans. As one die-hard Browns fan said to me at my press screening for the film, “Yeah, it’s fictional, but this may be the […]

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Elway 30 for 30

The Super Bowl is already an all-but-official American holiday, and it looks like the NFL Draft Day is on its way to becoming one as well. At this rate, important dates for football will supplant the existing holidays, and the sport will be firmly entrenched as our new civil religion. The Draft is like that agonizing time in PE when the team captains take turns choosing their players from the class, but mutated and engorged a thousand times over. At least, that’s the understanding a football layman like myself has of it. I don’t know how crucial it is that a piece of entertainment about the Draft ensure that such a layman can understand it. Enough people understand football that a movie or book can probably take for granted that the audience knows the rules and history of the game going in. But Draft Day is unlikely to appeal to even the most dedicated scholars of football. Directed by Ivan Reitman and starring Kevin Costner, the film’s release is timed to be in close proximity to this year’s real-life NFL Draft. It’s a pity, then, that the movie features so little of what one could reasonably expect from a story about the Draft, namely the wheeling and dealing that goes on behind the scenes as different teams try to get the best picks they can. READ MORE AT NONFICS

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Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner in DRAFT DAY

It’s NFL draft time, and the Cleveland Browns’ general manager Sonny Weaver (Kevin Costner) is in a tight spot. The pressure is on from the public, the team’s owner (Frank Langella), the coach (Denis Leary) and the rest of the organization to build the best team possible. He manages the unthinkable early on and gets his team the first pick, but it was a panicked move that actually does more harm than good. Now he’s on the clock and running out of time — it’s the ninth inning, he’s in the end zone, and there’s blood on the ice —  oh, and his girlfriend (Jennifer Garner) just told him that she’s pregnant. This is the kind of crazy day that can only fully be captured with split screens. Lots and lots of split screens. Thankfully director Ivan Reitman is happy to oblige. It’s almost as if he just discovered the technology or is trying to win a contest. Draft Day is a poor man’s Moneyball in the sense that the screenwriters probably watched Moneyball at some point and thought to themselves “what if a rogue personality went against the grain to build their, wait for it, football team?” In addition to changing sports though they also swapped statistics and logic for gut instinct and contrivance, replaced character depth with daddy issues and removed any semblance of dramatic suspense by setting the story entirely on one day and off the field.

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A24

We’re not even halfway into 2014 and already this is proving to be a terrific year for movies. In March alone we had a slew of quality films: Enemy, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Raid 2, and Bad Words. This month is even better. What’s nice about this March and April is that they’ve given us some quality blockbusters that we’d expect from the summer without having to wait for the heat. While Noah had its flaws — a lot of them, to be exact — it was a grand and ambitious drama with the scope of a summer movie. A more consistent summer film is opening this week, and if you pay any attention to the world, you know which. A hint: it’s the one about a super soldier who was frozen for over 60 years and is now fighting a man with a metal arm that’ll make a gazillion dollars. The movie, not the guy with the metal arm. Not sure what his day rate is. The Marvel juggernaut isn’t the only movie you need to see this month, though. There are two movies in particular that will surely stand the test of time: Under the Skin and Only Lovers Left Alive. Those are experiences, not just movies. Before the busy summer movie season begins, make sure to make the time for them, in addition to these other eight Must See Movies:

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black:farrell

What is Casting Couch? A handy way to keep up with what all of your favorite actors are going to be up to in the coming months and years. Does that make you a stalker? Today we’ve got word on who’s the latest name to join George Clooney in Brad Bird’s mysterious Tomorrowland. Few things in the world are funnier than Jack Black kicking Will Ferrell’s dog off of a bridge, that much is certain. But take the hilarious animal cruelty out of the equation and would these two A-list comedians still be able to produce laughs together? We’re about to find out, because THR is reporting that New Line is putting together a comedy called Tag, which has them attached as co-stars. The basic story of the film comes from a “Wall Street Journal” article about ten classmates from a Washington prep school, now all in their 40s, who get together one month out of the year to play an elaborate game of tag. This conceit, of course, is just the sort of manchild nonsense that these two should be able to knock out of the park, as long as they get a script everyone likes and the thing actually comes together.

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The Black List

Over the years, the term “Black List script” has become much more prevalent when it comes to the reporting of new projects, thanks to the increased awareness of Franklin Leonard‘s annual list, one that just seems to balloon as the years go by. So just what is on this year’s list? Well, a lot of stuff we’ve already heard of. This year’s list was “compiled from the suggestions over 290 film executives, each of whom contributed the names of up to ten of their favorite scripts that were written in, or are somehow uniquely associated with, 2012 and will not have completed principal photography during this calendar year.” To keep things a bit slimmed down (this list is not even remotely slimmed down), each script had to receive at least six votes in order to be eligible. The list was announced via The Black List‘s official Twitter earlier this morning. Of the 78 picks that made the list, 50 of the films are already in some form of production or are already financed (here’s a nifty trick – if a film listing contains a slug for “Production” or “Financier” that baby is already in production or financed for prouduction). Oh, for the days of truly “unproduced” screenplays. The top pick, Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman’s Draft Day, has already gotten plenty of heat, thanks to past rumors that Kevin Costner was attached to star in it. The project is currently in turnaround at Paramount, but we suspect that will change […]

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Whoever Kevin Costner‘s agent is deserves the most ostentatious, wallet-busting, heart attack-inducing gift basket on the planet because they are working hard for the money. Let’s recap. Costner, who, as of a year or so ago, everyone had pretty much sort of forgotten about other than to mention in passing, “oh, yeah, Kevin Costner, I liked that guy” came smashing back into the collective Hollywood consciousnesses with last summer’s rumor that he would co-star in Django Unchained (though that proved fruitless), used that zing to get cast in Man of Steel, then grabbed an Emmy-winning role in Hatfields & McCoys, a major part in Jack Ryan, and a starring role in McG’s next thriller. Is Costner done yet? Not by a mile. Vulture reports (via The Playlist) that Costner will now topline Ivan Reitman‘s Draft Day, an NFL-centric film that follows the manager of the Buffalo Bills (Costner’s new role) on one heck of a day: the day he’s trying to land the number one draft pick in order to make all sorts of nutty trades, made all the more complicated by personal drama (you know, draft day). Sounds fun and all, but now it seems like Draft Day may have another feather in its cap, and not just of the Costner variety.

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