Eddie Redmayne

Focus Features

It’s easy enough to get an audience worked up during the end of an inspirational biopic – that’s basically the point of most films in the genre – but James Marsh’s moving and magical The Theory of Everything does a neat trick: it starts the waterworks flowing early. They never really abate. Marsh’s take on beloved thinker Stephen Hawking is an intensely, richly emotional feature that boasts big, star-making performances by both its very talented leads and a narrative that doesn’t flinch when it comes time to get down to the dirty stuff. Ostensibly a feature about Hawking (Eddie Redmayne), The Theory of Everything also gorgeously captures the story of Stephen and his first wife, Jane Hawking (Felicity Jones), gracefully winding the two tales into one. Stephen and Jane are initially attracted by virtue of the most basic of human instincts: they like the look of each other. Eventually, however, the seemingly different pair discovers that their disparate fields of study (Jane’s a poetry buff with her own designs on getting a PhD) surprisingly intersect, and even what later becomes a long-standing debate about the existence of God helps bond the pair together. It’s still early days in their pairing when Stephen falls ill and the disease wreaking havoc on his body finally reveals itself, but even it proves to be no match for the pure force of Jane’s affection and dedication.

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Focus Features

The name Stephen Hawking conjures up a certain image of the genius scientist, who is currently confined to a wheelchair and has been for many years, unable to speak with his own voice, using the assistance of a electronic voice box to express what he couldn’t say on his own. But the upcoming film The Theory of Everything from director James Marsh introduces audiences to a different Hawking (played here by Eddie Redmayne of Les Miserables), a young and absolutely brilliant student pursuing a Ph.D in physics at Cambridge to become a cosmologist while falling madly in love with a fellow student named Jane (Felicity Jones). The first trailer for the film, written by Anthony McCarten (Death of a Superhero), paints an idyllic picture of campus life in Cambridge as Hawking and his love frolic in carefree bliss after meeting cute at a party. We watch them ride carousels, steal kisses and make pretty frequent comparisons to their love and Hawking’s work attempting to figure out the mysteries of space and time. It’s especially tragic when the young lovebirds don’t know about the storm brewing ahead — Hawking’s life-altering diagnosis of motor neuron disease, which comes on fiercely, robbing Hawking of his ability to move normally and speak.

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Dr. Doom

We already know that the new Fantastic Four movie is going to be really young and hip, and not just more young and hip than the first film, because no matter how nice his hair is, Ioan Gruffudd is not hip, and Michael Chiklis is hip like a hip dad, so the bar is a little low on this one. But, really, just how hip is this thing going to be? The Josh Trank movie already has Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, and Jamie Bell lined up to play three of the four, with Miles Teller probably on board to lead the cast as the stretchy good time known as Mr. Fantastic, but what about villains? Will there be hip villains? Will there be hip villains? Oh, you. Yes, of course there will be. Well, at least if a news bit from The Wrap is to be believed, as the outlet is now reporting that four actors (all with accents! Hip!) are currently on the shortlist of possible candidates for Dr. Doom. Will one of them take to the silver screen to battle the pure fantastic-tivity that is our four good guys? Maybe, but it’s hard to get too excited about the possibilities, because said list includes some pretty fresh talents that plenty of comic book fans might not recognize.

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Screen Shot 2012-12-17 at 4.53.07 PM

There is a lot of buzz about the live singing on the set Les Misérables. All of the actors sang as the cameras rolled rather than recording in a studio first, and that’s a great accomplishment since many of the actors have wonderful singing voices and don’t exactly need autotuning. This live singing in combination with the film’s grand scope – finally, a film of the legendary Boublil/Schönberg musical! – is supposed to make this a great film. But, very sadly, it does not. While the film is filled with a lot of great talent and certainly is watchable, it buckles under the often mind-blowingly heavy-handed direction by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) and never becomes the epic piece of cinema that it so clearly set out to be. The story is fairly common knowledge (and quite involved), but Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is finishing up his prison sentence for breaking into a house and stealing a loaf of bread. He thinks he is free, but because of being on a stringent parole at the hand of Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) he cannot get employment after his sentence is over. Valjean vows to make another go of it and when we find him years later, he is living under an assumed identity as the mayor of a small town. Valjean pays his good fortune forward when he helps factory worker-come-prostitute Fantine (Anne Hathaway). After Fantine’s death, he bails her young daughter Cosette (Isabelle Allen) out of an abusive boarding house […]

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Josh Hutcherson

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting column that has updates on the careers of some promising young talent. And Matthias Schoenaerts. Josh Hutcherson is one of the hottest young actors in the business right now, but when you first hear that he’s negotiating to star in a movie about Pablo Escobar, it sounds a little confusing. Never fear though, because Deadline has an explanation. Paradise Lost is the movie about Escobar that’s being written and directed by Life of Pi actor Andrea di Stefano and is starring Benicio Del Toro as the infamous drug lord. The reason that Hutcherson is said to be negotiating for the lead role is because, while Del Toro gets to do the showy stuff as Escobar, Hutcherson’s character is the one whose eyes we see the story through. If he signs on he’ll be playing an Irish surfer who falls in love with Escobar’s niece and then has to meet her murdering, drug-dealing uncle. Colombia sounds fun.

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Les Miserables

Let it never be said that director Tom Hooper took the easy road with his follow-up feature to his Oscar-winning The King’s Speech. While Hooper’s decision to again tackle a period piece with a new film version of an already often-adapted piece of work might have seemed simple when it was first announced, Hooper’s inspired idea to make his Les Miserables as close to an actual stage production as possible is anything but safe or expected. With Hooper making the bold decision to use “live” singing from his cast (not going the more traditional route of lip-syncing and recording tracks in post-production), his version of Les Miserables places quite the premium on getting truly great musical performances out of its stars. Which is why it might be confusing to many a moviegoer that the cast of Hooper’s Les Mis is rounded out by big name movie stars that most people wouldn’t necessarily associate with the Great White Way. But Hooper knew exactly what he was doing when he cast such stars as Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathway, and Amanda Seyfried in his film, because while the cast of Les Miserables is rife with well-known acting talent, it’s also filled to the brim with exceptional (and, in most cases, exceptionally trained) songbirds. Not sold on the dulcet tones and vocal stylings of this new Les Mis cast? Let’s take a look at their singing backgrounds.

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Bill Murray at Cannes 2012

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting roundup that’s got news about what weird, clown-related thing Peter Stormare is going to do next. Read on for the juicy details. If your name is Dan Aykroyd or Ivan Reitman, then Bill Murray has been spending the last ten years or so trying to convince you that he doesn’t read scripts. That’s got to sting, because Deadline has a new report that proves this to be balderdash. Murray read Ted Melfi’s script for St. Vincent De Van Nuys and identified with the writer’s work so much that he called him up and invited him out for a drive. One negotiating process later and Murray is reportedly ready to sign on to star in the film, which is about a cantankerous old coot who bonds with a twelve-year-old boy over rounds of drinking, gambling, and generally despicable behavior. Sounds like it’s going to be a hoot.

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Les Miserables Anne Hathaway Shaved

Most trailers are anywhere from 2 to 4 minutes, but very few pack as much grandiose power as the new teaser for Les Miserables manages in just a minute and a half. To be fair, director Tom Hooper is utilizing time-honored music that swells and soars, but there’s also a power in the shots, the set design, and in Anne Hathaway‘s voice as she laments the death of a dream. With a shaved head. The scale looks nasty, brutish and epic. Check it out for yourself:

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Hick Movie 2012 Blake Lively Chloe Moretz

Hick is an ugly piece work. The worst kind of bad. It’s a movie that believes it has something to say, but has nothing – a nothingess that comes after 90 minutes of misery. It’s a vapid mess about a girl who, despite encountering nothing but terrible acts, earns zero sympathy. That girl, Luli (Chloë Moretz), a 13-year-old kid from Nebraska, sets out to Vegas after being abandoned by her loony mother and drunk of a father. Her road trip goes the typical route: violence, rape, drug use, and robbery, everything you’d expect from a 13-year-old’s trip with a wasted Blake Lively. She comes from a world where a gun is a nice birthday gift for a kid, where 13-year-olds awkwardly quote Sunset Boulevard, and where Eddie Redmayne is forced to play a poor man’s take on Kit  from Badlands, all these phony details are used to establish we’re in a dark and heightened world. Or is this intended as our reality? Director Derick Martini can’t answer that, never coming up with the right tone.

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After taking the festival circuit by storm with his 2008 film, Lymelife, director Derick Martini became something of an indie darling. Now he’s back with his latest film, Hick, which tells the tale of a confused young girl running away from her deadbeat parents and learning about life on the road. The main attraction here is that said young girl is being played by Chloe Moretz, an actress who’s shown great potential up to this point, and is just chomping at the bit to get a meaty role to sink her teeth into, so she can really show what she can do. Whether or not Hick is the right platform for her will be a matter of opinion, but, as you can see from its new trailer, the film contains enough dark, dramatic material to give her range a showcase, no matter how you positively or negatively you respond to the absurd and traumatizing things you’ll experience.

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The life of a celebrity (regardless of what they are famous for or what era we may be in) is a confounding and, at times, seemingly crazy circus of people, cameras, and lights. We have seen it with the young starlets rising (and falling) today to those featured in films like Country Strong, which try and show what it is like to live in the eye of that storm. Surrounded by yes-men and an unquestioned supply of pills, you begin to wonder what is fantasy and what is reality. In the trailer for My Week With Marilyn we see Marilyn (Michelle Williams) ask Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) if she “should be her,” meaning what the public thinks of when they think of Marilyn Monroe – the eyes, the lips, and the hips – hinting at the idea that there is more to Marilyn when she lets you behind that closed dressing room door. Based on the real-life memoirs of Clark, My Week With Marilyn follows Colin as he falls in love for the first time – with both filmmaking and a beautiful woman. Growing up in a successful and pressure-filled family, Colin found solace at the theater and decided he wanted to pursue a career in the film business. After refusing to take no for an answer (and thanks to his puppy dog eyes that charmed any woman in his path), Colin landed a job as the third Assistant Director on Laurence Olivier’s (Kenneth Branagh) film, The Prince and the Showgirl, starring none other than Marilyn Monroe.

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Simon Curtis’s upcoming film starring Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe doesn’t look like the typical film about historical figures. This isn’t a look at Monroe’s entire life, the tale of her rise and fall. This film is, just like the title says, about one week only, the week when Marilyn Monroe went to England to film The Prince and the Showgirl and ended up getting escorted around by a regular guy named Colin Clark. It doesn’t look like it’s really a story about Monroe or her costar in that film Sir Laurence Olivier, so much as it is a character drama that happens to have real life famous figures in it. That’s an interesting approach and it keeps me from dismissing this as just being yet another movie about Marilyn Monroe. The other thing that keeps me from dismissing My Week With Marilyn is the outstanding cast. It’s got veteran performers that are reliable rocks like Kenneth Branagh, Julia Ormond, and Judi Dench. It’s got promising young actors like Emma Watson, and Eddie Redmayne (who was the only thing worth watching in Derick Martini’s new film Hick). And it has an actress enjoying the prime of her career, one of the most talented ladies on the planet, Michelle Williams, in the title role.

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The Yellow Handkerchief seems like a very odd film, but I am a least interested.

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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