Elle Fanning

Michael Shannon in Young Ones

There wasn’t much hype surrounding Young Ones at Sundance. It was a movie on people’s radar, but after it screened, it didn’t generate much buzz. That’s a shame, because Jake Paltrow‘s second directorial effort is an excellent film. It’s a western with a twist of science-fiction. The sci-fi elements are mostly left in the background, though. Young Ones is a movie that could mostly do without all the futuristic machinery, it’s just an immensely cool cherry on the top. That CGI tech, by the way, is seamlessly rendered into these beautiful desert landscapes. They have a worn down, used quality that suits this old-fashioned story. Young Ones is about a family. At the beginning we see a father, played with charm and warmth by Michael Shannon, protecting his land from thieves. They’re there to steal his water supply. In this future — what year isn’t stated and doesn’t matter — there’s a serious drought going on. The father and his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) hope one day to get some of the water that’s left to run through their land. Their journey leans more heavily on drama than genre thrills, but the trailer would lead us to believe otherwise.

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Walt Disney Pictures

A quick re-watch for anyone with a hazy memory of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty reveals that the 1959 film has a lot of problems – just one of which being the complete apparent lack of motivation for its catalytic villain, Maleficent. She sort of just shows up at the princess’ christening and casts the infamous “sleep like death” spell. She’s barely even in the Disney movie, really. For screenwriter Linda Woolverton, this leaves a nearly blank canvas with which to re-imagine the character’s story. For director Robert Stromberg, this is an opportunity to create an entire magical world as the setting for said tale. Yes – Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent is also technically based on the classic fairy tales, but the story told in Maleficent seems exclusively tailored to the Disney character. Opening the film with a re-imagining of Maleficent’s past, her story is told like a connect-the-dots puzzle where each dot represents one of her physical traits: here’s why she walks with a staff, this is what’s up with her and that crow, it’s time to talk about that headpiece, etc. It’s in between these style landmarks that Maleficent’s new truth is revealed.

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Anglina Jolie Maleficent

Disney has finally released the highly anticipated teaser trailer for Maleficent, giving us the first look at Angelina Jolie as the beautiful, intimidating horned villain to Elle Fanning‘s Sleeping Beauty. If you can recall back to your childhood, the film tells the other side of Sleeping Beauty, from the perspective of the evil sorceress who put the curse on Princess Aurora that sent her into a charmed sleep only broken by true love’s kiss. The teaser doesn’t offer much in terms of plot, but it’s a glimpse into a gorgeous, dark world far beyond the 1959 original. Gone is the bright, sing-songy storybook realm where Aurora and the good fairies lived peacefully until Maleficent’s curse; the new landscape is enveloped in shadows and guarded by thorns (and a boatload of CGI) — because we’ve entered the world how Maleficent sees it now.

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boxtrolls

With the current cover of ‘The New Yorker’ sparking online debate as to whether or not it’s appropriate to teach our children about same sex couples, or at least at what age it’s appropriate to start introducing them to the concept, the new trailer for Laika’s next stop-animated motion picture, The Boxtrolls, seems to have come along at just the right time. It takes a stab at the issue itself, and serves as an important reminder that it’s possible to frame messages of tolerance to children in a way that doesn’t need to include addressing issues of sexuality that their tiny, under-formed brains can’t yet comprehend. But the heartwarming message that families come in all shapes and sizes isn’t the only thing The Boxtrolls has to offer. Oh, no. If you’ve seen the previous two features Laika has produced, Coraline and ParaNorman, then you know that they make beautiful pictures that are so visually dense and have such an attention to detail that they’re able to dazzle the eyeballs as well as reward multiple viewings. And from just this minute long vignette, it’s clear that their latest offering is going to be no different.

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Ginger and Rosa AFI FEST

Editor’s note: Daniel Walber’s review originally ran during NYFF 2012, but we’re re-running it as the film’s limited theatrical release begins this weekend. The personal is political. This adage, one of the seminal concepts to come out of the Feminist Movement in the late 1960s, began with a very specific meaning. The idea was that, given oppression on a societal level, the specific problems facing women in their daily lives necessarily took on larger significance. While it wasn’t actually written down until a 1969 essay by Carol Hanisch, it had been an unspoken truth for a long time. Seven years earlier, when the Cuban Missile Crisis rocked the world’s already fragile sense of security, it manifested in the way that revolutionary men took to the streets yet still expected nothing more of the women in their lives than a well-cooked plate of food and a prompt cup of tea. In her new film, Sally Potter takes stays true to the initial spirit of that revolutionary aphorism while simultaneously making it double. Ginger and Rosa  tells the tale of a teenage girl adrift in London during that panic-stricken summer of 1962. With a relaxed sense of style and a precisely poetic screenplay, Potter has created a film of twinned metaphors. The personal crises of her characters stand in for the anxieties of a nuclear world, while the activist Left and its political struggles against the bomb echo the deeply intimate troubles of teenage love and family strife. The personal becomes political while […]

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Peter Dinklage

What is Casting Couch? It’s a quick compiling of the day’s casting news. Today it has quite a bit to say about the Fanning sisters. If you had to pick one breakout star from HBO’s wildly successful fantasy series, Game of Thrones, it would have to be Peter Dinklage. Sure, the guy has been doing solid work for years, but post-Game of Thrones he’s now a name. It’s quite a coup for first time director Paki Smith then, that he’s just cast Dinklage in his first film, A Long Way Home. According to Variety, this one is a story of magic, adventure, and a young boy who’s questing to be reunited with his family…which kind of sounds like kids’ stuff. Hopefully it still finds reason to give Dinklage ample opportunity to be drunken and perverse, because that’s when he’s at his best (worst?).

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Ginger and Rosa AFI FEST

Coasting freely through the festival circuit, Sally Potter‘s Ginger and Rosa earned a lot of accolades, including from our own reviewer. The film focuses on two girls (Elle Fanning and Alice Englert) who dress the same, keep their hair the same length and otherwise stick as close as best friends can. Set in the Nuclear 60s, their paths start to diverge after Ginger’s peace activist father stirs the pot with bad parenting and undeniable charisma. The trailer (via The Playlist) gives us all a strong idea of why the film captured so much attention. Both inwardly emotional and outwardly provocative, the power of this story is on full display alongside a stellar cast. Check it out for yourself:

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Anglina Jolie Maleficent

Production on Maleficent started on June 13th, and the movie won’t be in theaters until March 14th of (wait for it) 2014, but Disney has already released a teaser image of star Angelina Jolie as the iconic, evil witch queen who really hates Sleeping Beauty. To be fair, without Maleficent, the fair-haired heroine would just be called “Beauty,” and that name was already taken, so she probably wouldn’t have a cool nickname at all. Credit has to be given to Gregory Maguire’s “Wicked” for birthing a modern fascination with the villain’s side of the story (but mad respect to the old school “Grendel”), and the Robert Stromberg-directed fairy tale promises just that for Jolie. Although this will be the directorial debut for the veteran effects designer, the writing team features both Paul Dini and Linda Woolverton, so there’s a lot to be hopeful for. Plus, the cast also includes Elle Fanning, Juno Temple, Sharlto Copley and a ton of other solid names. Clicking on the image makes it largified. [Disney]

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Disney has finally cast the cherry on top of its long-gestating revisionist take on the Sleeping Beauty myth, setting up young Aussie actor Brenton Thwaites to play the prince to Angelina Jolie‘s evil Maleficent and Elle Fanning‘s innocent Princess Aurora. In the classic fairy tale, the part is generally referred to as Prince Phillip, but Deadline Evil Dark Woods doesn’t let on if that will be the case in Robert Stromberg‘s take on the tale. Despite his name, Thwaites is not a type of bread and he’s also not a knock-off of clothing brand Benetton, he’s one of those Aussie actor kids who cut his teeth on two of their many, many television series. Thwaites did a ten-episode run on SLiDe and also starred on continual favorite, Home and Away. He’ll next be seen as the male star in Lifetime’s take on The Blue Lagoon, next month’s Blue Lagoon: The Awakening (ew). Other stars who did their time on Aussie TV? Chris Hemsworth, Ryan Kwanten, Rose Byrne, Toni Collette, Portia di Rossi, and Liam Hemsworth. It’s nothing to sniff at and no one should be surprised if Thwaites ends up the next Hollywood It Boy. Hey! Maybe we can cast him in Catching Fire!

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After years of rumors and buzz, Disney’s live-action take on the Angelina Jolie-starring Maleficent is finally zipping along full steam ahead. THR reports (via Cinema Blend) that Elle Fanning is now set to star as Princess Aurora (best known to those not in the fairy tale know as Sleeping Beauty), along with a murderer’s row of the other prime cinematic talent. Fanning was rumored to be in talks back in March (thanks to a nifty exclusive over at Twitch), but it’s nice to get some confirmation on what’s really lovely casting. The outlet also appears to confirm that Sharlto Copley, who is going on a job-accepting tear, is set to co-star as “Stefan, the half-human, half-fairy bastard son of the human king.” The rest of the cast will now include including Imelda Staunton and Lesley Manville as Knotgrass and Flittle (two of three pixies who care for Princess Aurora), Miranda Richardson as fairy Queen Ulla (also Maleficent’s aunt, though she reportedly doesn’t like her so much), Sam Riley as Diaval (Maleficent’s “right-hand man who can transform into a raven”), and Kenneth Cranham as the human king looking to rule the fairy kingdom as well. While this casting is all well and good, we appear to be missing a vital role – the handsome prince!

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For the uninitiated who might think that Maleficent is just a nonsense word (you know, like me), it might seem strange that Disney is so gung-ho about putting together an Angelina Jolie-starring film using such gibberish as a title. But for those in the know, the situation is a lot more clear. You see, Maleficent is the name of the Evil Queen in the classic fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty,” and Maleficent is an upcoming feature that means to tell the Sleeping Beauty story from the perspective of said Queen. The big question about this prospective project is whether or not Maleficent will be able to do for Evil Queens what Wicked did for Wicked Witches. Given Jolie’s recent track record when it comes to quality of projects, and the fact that its director, Robert Stromberg, is sitting in the chair for the first time ever, things weren’t looking so certain. But with a little bit of new casting news, suddenly the future is looking much brighter.If Maleficent is set to be our protagonist, then the other big casting question as far as this film is concerned is who will be playing the evil and sleepy Princess Aurora. According to Twitch, it may just be Elle Fanning.

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Some actors worry about keeping strict control over how the world perceives them and making sure that they don’t get typecast, but Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks seems to think that if you look that good dressed up in the garb of the period, why not follow up your head turning, 60s-set breakout performance with another role steeped in the same decade? To that end, she has accepted a role in director Sally Potter’s upcoming anti-nuke movie Bomb, which tells the tale of a couple of teenage girls who become part of the Ban the Bomb movement and also learn a little bit about free love and their own blossoming sexuality along the way.There isn’t yet any word on what role Hendricks will play in the film, but she joins a cast that already includes Elle Fanning and Alice Englert as the main girls, and is also rumored to soon pick up names like Alessandro Nivola and Annette Bening as well.

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We Bought a Zoo strives to be Cameron Crowe‘s biggest crowd-pleaser yet, and it’s coming after two of his most splitting features. Elizabethtown was not met kindly and Vanilla Sky either blew your mind or frustrated the hell out of you, despite being a film that made one of the most likable movie stars around a narcissist often hidden under a nightmarish mask — how many directors do that to movie stars? Not many. Crowe doesn’t exactly disfigure Matt Damon in his Christmas release, but the film does what Crowe usually does best: showing good-natured people simply trying to do their best. While speaking to Crowe, he reminded me a lot of his films — someone who clearly wears his heart on his sleeve, and not in an artificial way. In fact, the first thing Crowe said to me left a goofy smile on my face for days, which is what his films usually do as well. The man was kind enough to give me extra time, and even by the end I felt like we could have gone on for hours. The writer-director and I spent more time than I expected but hoped on Vanilla Sky, as well as his writing process, how old films are like diary entries, and why it’s easier to make cynical films nowadays.

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In an unprecedented move, 20th Century Fox will be holding a massive “sneak preview” event for Cameron Crowe’s We Bought a Zoo a full four weeks before the film opens for the Christmas holiday. The film, scheduled to go wide on December 23, will now take over a different holiday, playing in more than 800 theaters around the country on the Saturday of this year’s Thanksgiving weekend, November 26. The studio is reportedly holding the sneak previews based on positive test screenings, in hopes that the massive launch will spawn both good word-of-mouth from regular filmgoers and a spat of fresh reviews from critics who shell out their own cash to jump the review gun. Fox is also partnering with TOUT (some sort of social media hub that I’ve never heard of that relies on “video status updates”) to allow viewers to post reviews of the film (presumably via quick video snippet). Fox is also reportedly crafting a larger social media campaign that includes tie-ins with Twitter and Facebook. Based on Benjamin Mee’s memoir, the film follows a single dad (Matt Damon) who hopes to reinvigorate his family life with a new home – one that’s in the middle of a ramshackle zoo whose rebuilding the family takes on. The film also stars Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Elle Fanning, and Patrick Fugit. The last two trailers for the film have won the hearts of both myself and our own Cole Abaius, so here’s hoping that the film delivers on its promise.

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The first trailer for Cameron Crowe‘s adaptation of Benjamin Mee‘s memoir We Bought a Zoo hit the interwebs back in September, and while that trailer aimed a bit too squarely for the heart, I’m a sucker for Crowe working for emotion, and the shades of Jerry Maguire (the quitting! the Tom Petty music!) work for me like nothing else. Throw in some animals, cute kids, and soaring music, and I’m a mewling mess of feelings-goo. But if you’re not as gooey as I am, this new international trailer might work much better for you. Check out the international trailer for We Bought a Zoo after the break, featuring Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Elle Fanning and Patrick Fugit.

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Cameron Crowe is a heartstring-tugging force to be reckoned with. Even with a few low points, he still emerges as one of the best writer/directors of our time, creating sentimental stories that push us into an emotional space whether it’s because a band is singing Elton John or because a sports agent has a girl at “hello.” His next film, as if no one knew, is the adaptation We Bought a Zoo, which features Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Hayden Church, Elle Fanning and Patrick Fugit. The trailer is a soft focus blend of tears and triumph, and you can check it out for yourself:

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This year’s Comic-Con was predictably more quiet than in years past, so when Francis Ford Coppola announced his revolutionary presentation plan for his next film, Twixt, at the project’s panel, it swiftly turned into the hit of the convention (check out Cole’s wrap-up of the panel here for a bevy of other details and information). Coppola’s plan involves taking his film on the road and editing it as he fits for each individual screening, thanks to his own computer set-up and a specialty program. A lauded director using new technology to flip the script on how movies are shown, paired with some gimmicky 3D face masks and a talented cast, it all sounds like damn interesting stuff, right? So why is none of that innovation even hinted at in the film’s first trailer? Probably because a tiny Francis Ford Coppola can’t shrink down and fit inside everyone’s computer and edit the trailer as he sees fit for each individual trailer-watcher. Or can he? Okay, no, he can’t, sorry to get your hopes up.

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Above, please take note of the general appearance of Elle Fanning (the one without the beret) as she appears in Francis Ford Coppola’s forthcoming Twixt. This is apparently the kind of thing which shows up in his dreams. Besides stemming from one of Coppola’s night terrors, Twixt tells the story of a hack writer (Val Kilmer) who hits up a smaller town on his book tour, only to get sucked into a murder mystery involving a young girl (Fanning). It’s certainly a fantastical look going on here. Someone smarter will have to tell me whether that’s supposed to be Lolita mixed with Kabuki, but at least Coppola and the make-up design team didn’t make her go Ganguro. [EW]

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr relives his childhood by running around with a Super 8 film camera, trying to capture a train derailment on film. He deftly uses the cover of shooting a home movie with a bunch of local tweens who ride around on their bikes all day like some extras in a Spielberg film. However, when the cops come after him for suspicious behavior, he ducks into the local cinema to catch the live-action big screen adaptation of the Judy Moody books. This might not be helping his case.

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There’s nothing quite like returning to the old neighborhood to find that your childhood playground hasn’t been torn down. You run your hand along rope ladders deemed “unsafe” by modern standards, feel the crunch of pebbles beneath your feet that did more to cut than soften a fall, sit in the swing and think for a moment about jumping out at the highest point. Super 8 is the cinematic equivalent of unearthing a time capsule and finding everything inside is still impossibly shiny and new. It’s impossible to remove the film from its own nostalgia, except for its intended audience of children discovering this type of filmmaking for the first time (and maybe even seeing their first Amblin logo). That’s a pretty powerful thing. With everyone clamoring to tap a market of adults eager for their own past while simultaneously getting kids into seats, J.J. Abrams‘s latest is one of the few that actually succeeds.

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