Elizabeth Banks

You know how clumsy puppies can’t help but be adorable, even when  they do awful things? Basset Hound pups are a prime example. Their feet are too big, they trip over their own floppy ears, and even if they eat the legs off your sofa, it’s whatever. All a Basset puppy has to do is look at you and you’re halfway over it. Writer/director Alex Kurtzman‘s People Like Us is almost like that – forgivably clumsy when it’s falling all over itself and wrecking things, but cute in spite of itself. …except for that whole almost-incest thing. Holy crap, that thing. People Like Us is the story of Sam (Chris Pine), a fast-talking dealer of anything with no use and a past-due expiration date. He’s the Jerry Maguire of selling people bullshit – and entirely unpleasant when we meet him. When one of Sam’s underhanded business deeds comes back to bite him, his boss, played by a skeez-tastic Jon Favreau, gives it to Sam straight – make up for the lost cash, or an unhappy client is reporting them both to the FTC.

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Charlie Kaufman

In an interview with Moviefone, Elizabeth Banks had some sad news to deliver: Charlie Kaufman’s Frank or Francis “fell apart at the last minute.” Banks was set to co-star along with Catherine Keener, Nic Cage, Jack Black, Steve Carell and Kevin Kline. The film was to be an exploration of filmmaking, Hollywood culture, criticism, and probably a dozen other things but more importantly…it was new, original work from Charlie Kaufman. The Playlist has learned that the movie is simply postponed, but it’s time to start drinking nonetheless. Why? Because there’s no such thing as “dead” in filmmaking; only “postponed.” Of course, that comes with the optimism that Kaufman can make it happen one day. Hopefully soon.

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Co-workers! Pffft! Amirite? Yeah! You know what I mean! It looks like Elizabeth Banks feels me too, as she is set to star in Alan Ball‘s dark comedy What’s The Matter With Margie? as a “downtrodden” office drone who snaps and kills her co-workers. Fun! Deadline Henderson reports that Daniel Minahan will be directing the film, which comes from producer Balls’ own original screenplay. Not much else is known about the project at this time, but so far, it sounds like a perfect fit. Banks has long been due her own comedy vehicle, and she’s terrifyingly adept at going off the rails in hilarious fashion (her freak-out in this week’s What to Expect When You’re Expecting is one of the film’s rare bright spots, and she’s also done it in films like Wet Hot American Summer, The Details, and The 40 Year Old Virgin). Ball’s brand of dark American humor is a solid fit for this film, which is (shockingly) only his third screenplay. Yet, considering his first was American Beauty, we’re lucky to be getting another film from such a talented scribe. While this will be only Minahan’s second feature, the director has a lot of great TV gigs under his belt – including Deadwood, John From Cincinnati, Game of Thrones, and two Ball properties – Six Feet Under and True Blood.

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Pregnancy and childbirth are nothing new. In fact, there are few things less new than humans reproducing. It’s been done before. But Kirk Jones’ What to Expect When You’re Expecting accurately captures the inherent selfishness of expecting parents,and their individual “journeys” to the delivery room (and beyond). Unfortunately, even when gifted with a large, mostly eager cast, Jones is also saddled with a script from Shauna Cross and Heather Hach (working off of Heidi Murkoff‘s guidebook of the same name) that is deeply uninterested in providing much variety in their work. The effect is simple one – the film itself is deeply uninteresting. While What to Expect continually reminds its viewers that pregnancy and childbirth are miracles, unique and thrilling gifts, Cross and Hach have concocted one of the most bland, basic, and unadventurous scripts in recent memory.

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Writer Alex Kurtzman‘s (Star Trek) directorial debut People Like Us looks to be a sobering yet bright drama about a previously estranged family being glued back together by the will of an absentee father. It stars Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mark Duplass and Jon Favreau. As far as trailers go, this one is a winner. It’s engaging, evocative and the talent oozes right out of the edit. Check it out for yourself:

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Culture Warrior

Most dystopian science-fiction narratives feature stories in which a protagonist experiences a process of ‘waking up,’ transitioning from a state of blind ignorance to one of newfound enlightenment. The protagonists of The Matrix (1999), Brazil (1985), and the ur-text for dystopian futures, George Orwell’s 1984 (and its numerous film adaptations), all feature primary characters who transition from a state of passivity and complicity in an oppressive and manufactured society and transition to a newly critical, empowered state of being in which they are able to see beyond the veil of ignorance and witness the world for what it ‘really’ is for the first time. These protagonists are made capable of seeing beyond the structures of propaganda and carefully constructed illusion that they previously accepted to be objective reality and develop a political impetus in direct reaction to their previous state of complicity and ignorance. As someone previously uninitiated to the world of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games (I hadn’t read any of the books prior to seeing the film), what struck me most about Gary Ross’s adaptation is the spin it puts on the typical ignorance-to-enlightenment narrative of dystopian science-fiction.

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Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr is feeling hungry. Of course, this is nothing strange because he’s always feeling hungry. But this week, he’s extra hungry because only one movie is opening wide, and that is the highly anticipated adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ novel, The Hunger Games. So Kevin grabs a bow and arrow, a tub of magical antibiotics, tracker jacker repellant and a big bucket of popcorn to check out what is sure to be the next big young-adult-novel-turned-billion-dollar-franchise. (Spoiler alert: Kevin is still hungry when the movie is over, but that’s no surprise either.)

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The marketing was wrong. While the buzz has been on Gary Ross’s cinematic adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ wildly popular book series, The Hunger Games, since the first film was announced, all of the stills, trailers, and posters that have trickled out over the months have not captured the stunning final product. Ross’s film is an engaging, energetic, and emotional journey that should please the series’ dedicated fans while also luring in new ones. Cinephiles who are drawn to science fiction and dystopian stories will likely find a new favorite franchise, a YA adaptation elevated by a talented cast, skilled direction, and a tone and story that feel vibrant and applicable beyond just this single film. The film is set in a future version of the United States in which the country has been fractured and then tenuously reunited after an uprising nearly seventy-five years prior. The rebels were eventually quelled, and the resulting country consists of a rich and powerful central Capitol and twelve individual “Districts.” Each District is responsible for one type of provision or industry and, as the Capitol restricts communication and interaction between the Districts, they are at the mercy of their government to get supplies that are necessary for even basic survival. And though that should be enough to keep the Capitol satisfied in their power, it’s not, and they use the annual “Hunger Games” to remind their citizens just how in control they are. The Games are a televised fight to the death, with its […]

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Not a whole lot of negotiators on film look like Elizabeth Banks. They’re usually gruff, jaded, overweight, sloppy, and any other cliche description you can think of. Most of those adjectives don’t much apply to Banks, whose negotiator even uses her looks for the job. However, even though the actress doesn’t come anywhere close to the appearance of a 300-pound 50-something, she still gets to do plenty of things those old men get to do. She gets to shout, “This is my negotiation,” and without having to be bold and off-putting while doing it. That’s an accomplishment right there. It’s a nice little twist on the genre, and in my brief conversation with Banks, that’s what she seemed to be the most impressed about when it came to Man on a Ledge, the new thriller involving Sam Worthington hanging on a ledge for mysterious reasons…mysterious reasons that were mostly revealed in the trailer.

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A few days ago I reported on a story that two former female leads from Charlie Kaufman movies would both be working with the writer again, this time on his next directorial effort Frank or Francis. It turns out that was only half right. While Catherine Keener does appear to be attached to the film, buried in a report about Paul Reubens joining the cast is confirmation from THR that Kate Winslet has not. That’s a pretty big blow to my enthusiasm for the added girl power that this movie would have gotten by casting both Keener and Winslet, and the inclusion of Pee-Wee does little to soften the blow. Fortunately for me, there’s some more news that does soften the blow a bit. In another report, THR says that Elizabeth Banks has joined the cast, and in a role that sounds like it has some potential for hilarity. As we know already, Steve Carell and Jack Black are playing the title characters, a director and a film blogger who come into conflict with one another over a series of bad reviews. Well, it appears that Banks will be playing the Carell character’s girlfriend, an actress who keeps making “formulaic comedy bombs.” Seeing as the focus of this movie is the world of filmmaking vs. the world of film criticism, I’m imagining that Banks’ character will provide some delicious jabs sent the way of actresses like Kate Hudson and Katherine Heigl, the undisputed queens of the formulaic comedy bomb.

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Man on a Ledge

“You know, Mikey, one day you’re going to stick your dick in the wrong door, and somebody’s going to slam it,” and that line represents Man on a Ledge in a nutshell. Goofy and laughable, but overall kind of charming. Director Asger Leth, with the assistance of commercial honcho mega producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, has made a through and through B movie. What you’d expect from a movie called Man on a Ledge, you get. It’s all fairly preposterous and thin, and Leth knows not to let it go on too long before its cheesy charms lose steam. The plot, well, you already know it. Anyone who’s seen that trailer has seen it all. For those of you who live under a rock though, Ledge follows Nick Cassidy, played compellingly enough by Sam Worthington and a dodgy accent. Cassidy wants to prove his innocence over a stolen diamond, so like any wise man, he escapes prison and goes to hang out on a ledge. But things aren’t what they seem, as is always the case. As he teases a suicide, his brother Joe (Jamie Bell) and his eye-candy girlfriend, played by the suavely named Genesis Rodriguez, go about robbing the man who may have framed Nick, the snarling David Englander (Ed Harris).

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Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr tapes some alcohol bottles to his knuckles and gets ready to brawl with wolves. Unfortunately, he first drinks all the booze in the bottles and ends up passing out in the snow. When he wakes up, he brushes himself off and heads downtown to climb on the ledge of a tall building. The police are called to try and save him, but Kevin ends up jumping when he learns that Katherine Heigl is brought in to talk him down. Fortunately, Kevin survives the fall and stumbles to the local multiplex to check out this week’s new movies.

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There’s something great about the female-centric advertising coming out of a generic comedy based on an advice book for mothers about to deliver a bun fresh from the oven. The marketing team has faith in the women, and Lionsgate has faith in a woman-driven adult comedy. It’s clearly propelled by the success of Bridesmaids, but the more perverse secondary effect that that raucous comedy had on the studio math world is that crass women now equal box office gold. And thus, the posters for What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Again, it’s great to see women used so overtly for marketing without oversexualizing them (or, using their image months after their being sexualized?), but shoving bad lines with buzzwords in them reeks of desperation to appear edgy without actually having to be edgy. They won’t set back the women’s movement or anything, but they’re at least 10% heinous. Check them out for yourself:

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Back in July of 2010 it was announced that Disney was putting together a live action Tinkerbell movie called Tink, and that Elizabeth Banks would star. That sounded like a fun idea, but July 2010 was a long time ago…whatever happened to it? Apparently it’s still a possibility, and while talking to Movie Hole, Banks spilled a few more details about the concept: “It’s a live action Tinkerbell movie sort of in the vein of Elf in which I would play Tinkerbell. Tinkerbell gets thrown out of Never Never Land, and it’s about where she goes and who she meets and the adventures she has…Tinkerbell is one of the greatest characters because she’s mischievous and snarky and fun and sexy and jealous and vengeful.” Invoking the name of Elf  is a pretty bold move. Could Disney really make something that funny? The possibility is there, as Banks is a talented comedic actress, and the script is being written by Fright Night screenwriter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer veteran Marti Noxon, who is no slouch either.

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31 Days of Horror - October 2011

We continue our journey through a month of frightening, bloody and violent films. For more, check out our 31 Days of Horror homepage. Synopsis: A small town becomes ground zero to an alien invasion, which reaches Earth in the form of alien slugs on a chunk of space rock. After the meteor lands in the woods, a local big shot Grant Grant (Michael Rooker) becomes infected with the alien parasite, which controls his body and memories. It’s a story we’ve seen many times before, and understandably so. Director James Gunn creates a loving homage to movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Blob and Night of the Creeps, in which the small-town sheriff Bill Pardy (Nathan Fillion) must battle an onslaught of infected, zombified humans while trying to stop the spread of the parasite to the rest of the world. Helping the sheriff is his long-time crush and girl next door Starla (Elizabeth Banks), who also happens to be married to patient zero.

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Our Idiot Brother floats by on the genial charms of Paul Rudd, an apparently nice guy in real life who’s playing just about the nicest, most pleasant guy in the world. That sounds like a recipe for ho-hum disaster, but Rudd happens to be ridiculously adept at selling you two bags of goods at once, imbuing that geniality with a fount of deep tangible feeling. Audiences accustomed to Judd Apatow-era Rudd might forget that he’s acted in Neil LaBute plays and films (before LaBute turned into a director-for-hire) and once played F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Nick Carraway in a Great Gatsby adaptation made for TV. The guy has dramatic chops, and he’s one of the few actors in Hollywood who can naturalistically flow them into a deceptively low-key framework. Here, Rudd stars as Ned — or Nedley, as mom calls him — a lovable, trusting hippie farmer who sells a cop some weed and winds up in jail. After his release, with nowhere to go, Ned moves in first with mom and then with his three high-strung sisters in succession.

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Please don’t actually hold your lighter up to the screen to try this at home. Seriously. Put it down. This new motion poster for The Hunger Games features the main icon of the series – the Mockinjay Pin – which explodes in flames, but there’s no need to describe it here since it’s probably roasting below right now. Plus, if a picture is worth 1,000 words, this is technically worth 34,000,000. And, honestly, would you put that lighter away?

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If you think that making a Space Invaders movie is the most desperate attempt Hollywood has made to tie a new film to a pre-existing property lately, you might have need to think again. Making headlines in the film world recently has been the upcoming movie What to Expect When You’re Expecting, which is a feature film adaptation of a pregnancy manual by Heidi Murkoff. So many actresses have been announced for this thing, one at a time, that it’s starting to reach Hunger Games levels of casting announcement fatigue. Perhaps appropriately enough, their latest addition to the cast is an actress who will be appearing in The Hunger Games as well. Elizabeth Banks is said to be joining the film as a first time mother who has already built an empire writing books about her breast-feeding methods. There is some indication that despite her so-called expertise, the experience of actually having a child herself is one that she’s not ready for. Banks will be joining a cast that already includes Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Brooklyn Decker, and Anna Kendrick. The film is being directed by Waking Ned Devine’s Kirk Jones, from a script originally by Heather Hach and re-written by Shauna Cross. I can’t say that this is one that I’m looking forward to, but the inclusion of quality actresses like Banks and Kendrick is starting to make it look like it could have some potential. We shall see. [Coming Soon]

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David Wain might have missed the 9:00 appointment ten years from when all the campers of Wet Hot American Summer got together, but he may still have a chance to see who they’ve all blossomed into. If you’re not getting the references here, go watch the movie. Don’t tell anyone you haven’t seen it. Just calmly, quietly watch it (instantly). According to an interview Wain did for The Q&A With Jeff Goldsmith, the writer/director has been thinking about doing a “sequel, prequel, something or other” to get the gang back together. That gang includes Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Bradley Cooper, Amy Poehler, Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter and many, many, many other comedians wearing shorts that are too small for them. If Wain goes with his prequel idea, it would see actors in their late 30s and early 40s playing 20-year-old camp counselors, and there’s not one thing wrong with that.

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My Idiot Brother will premiere at Sundance later this month, bringing its sunny disposition to the cold of Utah. The movie features Paul Rudd as the eternal optimist with an uncanny beard-growing ability who springs back into the lives of his three sisters – played by Emily Mortimer, Elizabeth Banks, and Zooey Deschanel. There are 9 new images from the film which mostly show off the hippie rug covering Rudd’s face, as well as the strong, aforementioned talent pool playing his siblings.

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published: 10.30.2014
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published: 10.29.2014
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published: 10.27.2014
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published: 10.24.2014
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