Elijah Wood

Sasha Grey in OPEN WINDOWS

2007′s Timecrimes is a sharp time travel film that makes you believe the unbelievable in a movie with an impossible concept. Unfortunately, Nacho Vigilando fails to capture that same magic with his latest film, Open Windows. It’s a mixed bag that shows promise at the start before fizzling out in the last 30 minutes. Its technique is ambitious, but the final result is not. Nick Chambers (Elijah Wood) is visiting Austin to meet his favorite actress, Jill Goddard (Sasha Grey). She’s in town for Fantastic Fest to promote a comically terrible-looking cheap sci-fi sequel. Based on the clip, Jill is the kind of bad actress who still has her fans, including Nick, who runs a fansite for her. He was flown down to Austin to have dinner with Jill for an interview, but it’s unexpectedly cancelled by a mysterious figure (Neil Maskell). Since that figure’s voice is an English accent, you know something’s wrong from the start.

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Kids. You can’t live with them, and you can’t bash their head in with a fire extinguisher. But what this movie presupposes is… maybe you can. In fact, sometimes you have to if you want to live. Clint (Elijah Wood) is starting his first day as a substitute teacher, but in his mind it’s only a temporary way station on the way to the bestseller lists. Sure he’s living back at home and drives a beaten up Prius with “Eat my cock” scrawled into the dusty grime, but if he can just nail his horror novel’s opening line (“The boat was evil…”) he’ll be on his way. But when an outbreak infects the kids and turns them into little carnivorous bastards, Clint and a gaggle of other teachers are forced into the second biggest fight of their lives (after trying to survive on teacher salary and lack of respect). Cooties is horror comedy done right. It’s laugh out loud funny but never shies away from the gory, violent bits involving adults and children. See it with a child you love.

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ff grand piano

So you’re a famous pianist, and the world is your oyster. You have an A-list movie star wife who should be out of your league, but talent goes far and you made quite an impression. All those years studying with that world famous maestro are paying off in spades and nothing can go wrong, right? Sure you fat fingered some ivories during a concert last time you played. No big deal, c’est la vie, right? Wrong. For Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood) the flub was too much of a blow to his psyche. That was the day the house lights dimmed on his professional career. Seclusion came calling and who was he to ignore the call? FIVE YEARS LATER Tom is back! Lured out of retirement he agrees to play a concert honoring his mentor. His wife thinks it is a great idea. His conductor friend thinks it is a great idea. The public thinks it is a great idea. Most importantly, a greedy sniper thinks it is a grand idea. And so Grand Piano begins.

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Grand Piano tells that same old story we’ve all experienced at one point or another. Mid-performance, a concert pianist finds a death threat written in his sheet music, and plays cat-and-mouse with a vicious sniper while dazzling his way through a number of orchestral pieces. Same old, same old. Okay, maybe Grand Piano isn’t what you’d call “boilerplate.” Maybe it’s something very, very strange, and made far stranger with Spanish dubbing and a late-trailer reveal that John Cusack is the one pointing a gun at the noggin of Elijah Wood‘s concert pianist. But this trailer never lacks for excitement, and absence of English doesn’t mean much. The situation Wood finds himself in is weirdly specific enough that the goings-on of the trailer are always crystal clear. Go ahead and watch below.

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Open Windows

Were you such a fan of the Ethan Hawke/Selena Gomez instant classic Getaway that you have to see it again, only you’d like to see it kind of modified? Have I got a treat for you. Sit down for Nacho Vigalondo‘s Open Windows, a puzzling thriller that replaces the car with a webcam, Hawke for Elijah Wood, and the disembodied voice with…another disembodied voice. Wood stars as the creepy but well-meaning fanboy/webmaster of a website dedicated to what looks like paparazzi shots of his favorite actress, Jill Godard (Sasha Grey). Without any prompting (RED FLAG), a Disembodied Voice gives him a code for a secret webcam pointed on Jill. Thanks, buddy! You know the drill, though; if Wood doesn’t do what he says, Jill dies. After a lot of furious typing and nineties hacking technology streaming across the screen, because he’s a computer genius, the trailer devolves into some kind of action-y mess. Check out the trailer for yourself after the break.

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review maniac

Editor’s Note: Our review of Maniac originally ran as part of this year’s inaugural Stanley Film Fest coverage, but we’re re-running it now as the opens in limited theatrical release and premieres on VOD starting June 21st. Frank (Elijah Wood) is a lonely small business owner looking for love in all the wrong places. Sure, he meets a few girls through online dating services, but none of them work out beyond the first date. Though to be fair to the women, the evenings only go sour around the point Frank decides to scalp them for not living up to his dead mother’s high standards. His life gets a jolt and a singular chance at happiness when a photographer named Anna (Nora Arnezeder) stops by his mannequin restoration shop and asks a favor. The two develop a friendship, perhaps the first Frank has known is his life, and he begins to fall for her. It’s the closest thing to real love he’s ever felt and she’s the closest to redemption that he’ll ever get. But happiness just isn’t in the cards for Frank, and the pull of the knife begins again. This is Maniac, and not only is it one of the best serial killer films in years, but it’s also one of the most beautiful, creative and affecting ones, too.

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Elijah Wood really defies all Hollywood expectations. After making a graceful transition from child stardom, he became a pop culture icon as Frodo in The Lord of the Rings movies while balancing out all that box office mojo with equally great performances in smaller, more personal films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Everything Is Illuminated. He’s also now in his third season as the suicidal Ryan the darkly comic Wilfred, returning this week on F/X. Wood takes his talents to more sinister depths in Franck Khalfoun’s Maniac (inspired by the 1980 film of the same name), in which he plays Frank, an isolated young man who restores antique mannequins in an industrial area of Los Angeles and freelances as a serial killer with a fetish for scalping his female victims. His murderous ways are spurred by an unhealthy relationship with his mother who exposed Frank to things as a child that he probably shouldn’t have seen. His dangerous dynamic with women gets a bit more complicated when he meets Anna (Nora Arnezeder), a beautiful artist who wants to use Frank’s mannequins in one of her installations. Frank develops true feelings for Anna, and these feelings are constantly at war with his deep-seeded urges to kill. Generic plot synopsis aside, Maniac is hardly a run-of-the-mill horror film. Filmed almost entirely through Frank’s POV, the film truly gets inside the mind of a serial killer to the point where you are forced to empathize with him despite his horrific actions. […]

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maniac-image

We’ve been hearing about director Franck Khalfoun’s remake of Maniac for quite a while now. Heck, it was a full year ago when its first red band trailer was released and we got to see our first glimpse of Elijah Wood playing a psycho mannequin shop owner who stalks women and cuts them up. One thing we haven’t gotten to see though, at least here in the United States, is the entire movie. That’s about to change, because the film is finally set to roll out a limited theatrical release here in the US starting on June 21, and IFC Films has decided to release a brand new poster and trailer combo [originally via Apple] in order to mark the occasion. Click through to check out the studio’s last ditch efforts at enticing you to pay money to watch Frodo getting creepy.

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The lethargy inherent in being in between two of the biggest holidays of the year has made this week kind of a dead zone for movie news, but a couple of studios have still been throwing us bones by delivering extended previews of what they’ve got coming up in the next year. Just yesterday we were treated to the first four minutes of zombie comedy Warm Bodies, and today Warner Bros. is upping the ante by bringing us the first six minutes of their upcoming Maniac remake. Six minutes! That’s two more than yesterday. At this rate, tomorrow we may get to see the first eight minutes of something. And then, eventually, entire movies will get released without us having to pay for them at all. What a world.

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Drinking Games

By now, you’ve probably seen The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and you may have stumbled out of the theater, feeling drunk from the effects of the HFR projection. Regardless of what you thought of Peter Jackson’s latest Middle-earth fantasy epic, you might be tempted to watch all or part of his previous trilogy The Lord of the Rings. This is a marathon session to endure, especially if you opt for the extended editions of the films, which totals close to twelve hours of movies. In short, you can start one movie with breakfast (or second breakfast, or elevensies) and be drinking your nighttime spirits by the middle of the second film. So whenever you plan on drinking during this batch of movies, there’s always time for this drinking game.

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Michael Fassbender

What is Casting Couch? It’s where you go to make sure Elijah Wood is adding another new job to his calendar every day. Turns out, today he kept the streak alive, read on… Colin Firth and Michael Fassbender are two of the best actors on the planet Earth; objectively, inarguably. What a coup, then, that director Michael Grandage has landed both of them for his upcoming project, Genius. Based on a book by A. Scott Berg, Genius is a biopic that explores the relationship between Thomas Wolfe (Fassbender) and his editor Max Perkins (Firth). Turns out Wolfe and Perkins were great friends, but the kind who butted heads over everything. Sure, listening to two guys argue over word choice wouldn’t normally sound like a very exciting idea for a movie, but with these two actors on board it absolutely does. Add this one to your to-do list. [Variety]

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What is Casting Couch? It’s where Hollywood moms come every day to find out if their actor kids have gotten a job. Remember that movie about the day JFK got shot that Tom Hanks was putting together because these days he’s such a history loving, lame dad? It’s called Parkland, and it just put together an awesome cast. According to Collider, director Vincent Bugliosi has signed the terrific trio of Paul Giamatti, Jackie Weaver, and Billy Boy Thornton to headline the cast. There’s no word on what characters they’ll be playing, but my guess is Giamatti will be JFK, Thornton will be Jackie O, and Weaver will be Lee Harvey Oswald. Makes sense, no?

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Acting is like anything in that success doesn’t come quickly. It’s why we can go back and watch old clips of Brad Pitt whoring for Pringles or Tina Fey talking about the interest rate at Mutual Savings Bank. You have to start somewhere, right? Same goes for motion pictures – for most actors, your first role is going to be some mediocre piece like Return To Horror High or Revenge Of The Creature – but every once in a while an actor or actress starts off at a high point. Here are such high points, awesome first films that you’d be proud to be a part of even if you never did another film ever again.

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About a week ago a teaser trailer leaked to the net for Franck Khalfoun’s remake of the William Lustig horror film, Maniac. It gave us a glimpse of a knife-wielding, psychotic Elijah Wood, but wasn’t quite ready for consumption and got pulled down before everyone could see it. Well now the powers that be have deemed it permissible for the public to take a look at the film, and Twitch has gotten their hands on a new cut of the trailer; which is full-length, very red band, and very not safe for work.

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William Lustig’s original 1980 Maniac was of the highest, grainy midnight movie caliber. Perhaps it’s not sacred ground, but it’s a grisly example of an artifact from when terrifying and exploitative slashers were hacking their way onto big screens. It makes sense that there’s so much speculation surrounding Franck Khalfoun‘s remake starring Elijah Wood as a man with mommy issues trying to make the perfect woman. Now thanks to Cannes, there’s a teaser trailer to inform us all on the style. Is it gritty? Sort of. It’s the kind of gritty that you might take to a gallery opening or to an experimental ballet. Those exist right? It’s a little grit with gloss all over it. It will probably make you take a shower afterward, but the POV shots especially make this look like it came out of an NYU Film School grad’s portfolio. Check it out for yourself:

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How’d you like to be killed by Elijah Wood? You would have never seen it coming. For one, he’s one of the nicer guys on the planet. For two, we already saw how sneaky a murderer he can be in Sin City. He’ll most likely be a bit louder, ripping blood out of its veiny home in Franck Khalfoun‘s Maniac remake, though. Apparently, he’s also going to be slicing open mannequin heads. Just as everyone hoped he would. And co-star Nora Arnezeder will horrifyingly talk on a cell phone! Check out these first images from the production:

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Have you ever thought that the horrors and anxieties of childhood piano recitals have just never been appropriately captured on film? Ever thought that Speed would have been better if Keanu Reeves had to keep playing “Chopsticks” rather than keep driving a bus? Then Grand Piano is definitely the movie for you. Written by The Last Exorcism 2 scribe Damien Chazelle and to be helmed by Spanish director Eugenio Mira, Grand Piano tells the tale of a formerly famous concert pianist who hasn’t performed in front of people for five years due to crippling stage fright. When he finally does work up the nerve to perform in front of people again, he sits down to his piano to find that a note has been left on his music sheet by a vile terrorist. You see, if he doesn’t play the most perfect concert that he’s ever played in his life, both he and his wife will be killed!

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It’s often said that believing you will spend forever with the person you fall in love with in high school is a naïve notion and, while the opening montage of Celeste and Jesse Forever seems to prove that the opposite is true, once the film begins we realize that our leads, Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg), are actually separated and looking to get a divorce. The strange thing is, they still spend every second together and are only “separated” by their back yard, with Jesse now living in his studio out back rather than in the main house with Celeste. It is clear from the start that Celeste and Jesse are more than just a couple, they are each other’s best friends, complete with inside jokes and hand signals clearly established over years and years of knowing one another. There is a level of comfort and familiarity between the two that neither seems ready to let go of, which frames the central conflict of both their relationship and the film. Over dinner one night, two of their friends, Tucker (Eric Christian Olsen) and his fiancé (Ari Graynor), call them out on the odd state of their relationship stating that they either need to end things for good or get back together. Neither Celeste or Jesse think their behavior is strange, but the fact that they still say, “I love you,” to each other and can’t seem start their days until acknowledging one another seems to support their friends’ […]

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There’s not much one can really say about this first trailer for the much-anticipated The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. As with Peter Jackson‘s three previous Lord of the Rings films, the project looks gorgeous, meticulous, epic, stirring, just plain wonderful, and true to its classic J.R.R. Tolkien source material. So, yeah, I love it. With The Hobbit, we again return to Middle-earth and the Shire, and to a much younger Bilbo Baggins (a very well-cast Martin Freeman), to learn (the first half of) the epic tale that started all this ring business to begin with. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey comes complete with an all-star cast, including Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood, Evangeline Lilly, Andy Serkis, and Richard Armitage. It’s a testament to the world that director and co-writer Peter Jackson has created that so many of his Lord of the Rings cast came pack for this next go-round, journeying back in time to recapture some of that old magic. After the break, check out the first trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr dresses up in layers and layers of rain gear to brave the estrogen storm that comes with the showing of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part I. After enduring that non-masterpiece, he dances down a few screening rooms to watch the new Happy Feet movie. Confounded by the gelatinous goop that masquerades as movies this weekend in American cinema, Kevin eventually curls up in a ball and softly weeps.

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