Emily Blunt

Editor’s note: With Your Sister’s Sister beginning its limited roll-out this week, we thought it best to re-run Robert Levin’s sterling Sundance review of the film, already a Reject favorite. This review was originally published on January 28, 2012. Your Sister’s Sister is perhaps the most high-concept movie I saw at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, but it’s also one of the funniest and most heartfelt. Sometimes, a precise, discernible pitch really does have potential. And after this film and Humpday (in which two straight male friends decide to make an amateur porn film together), writer-director Lynn Shelton is fast establishing herself as one of the independent film world’s masters of such fare. Her new picture parallels pensive shots of the pristine, misty splendor of the Pacific Northwest with the story of three lonely, likable locals who are searching for happiness. Mark Duplass stars as the directionless Jack, struggling to cope with the recent death of his brother. Emily Blunt plays Jack’s best friend Iris, who is also his brother’s former girlfriend. To clear his head, she offers him the run of her family’s vacation home on a picturesque island off the Washington coast. Iris’s half-sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) is already there, though, looking to escape a trauma of her own: the end of a seven-year relationship. A drunken night with Jack leads to hilariously awkward sex and, eventually, serious consequences when Iris unexpectedly shows up the next day.

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Culture Warrior

Imagine what some of our most beloved romantic films would look like if they were made in the 21st century. Laura and Alec of David Lean’s Brief Encounter could have managed their secret meetups over text. Harry and Sally could have checked each others’ okcupid accounts before explaining every aspect of what they seek in a partner over a cross-country road trip. And Ilsa would never have had to get on that plane because, y’know, the war’s over. This is a fruitless endeavor, I know, but it brings one thing into light which poses both problems and opportunities for the contemporary romance film, specifically the romantic comedy: politics, economic conditions, shifting gender roles, and technological evolution means different kinds of relationships and, thus, different kinds of romantic movies. How can the 21st century romance film expect the wedding-bell-chiming happy ending to work in a society full of emerging adults who feel less and less of a need to get married? How can new romantic comedies account for the fact that today’s working professional must move constantly – putting all their human relationships at risk – in order to find a job that suits them without only making films about the uber-privileged? Will there ever be a mainstream romantic comedy featuring a non-monogomous or non-heteronormative protagonist? Several recent screen romances have attempted to tackle the changing nature of relationships – or, at least, the type of relationship typically depicted in the Hollywood romance.

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Compared to Nicholas Stoller‘s two previous films, The Five-Year Engagement has a lot going on. While his prior efforts only covered a few days, Engagement‘s timeline, if you couldn’t guess, goes well over… five years. Fitting all that time in one movie mustn’t be easy, as well as all the drama and comedy that takes place in that same period. As Stoller described the long writing process, it wasn’t easy, but life saves such as When Harry Met Sally helped him get through it, along with the help of co-writer Jason Segel.  With their dramatic comedy, the frequent collaborators took on an idea not discussed enough in love stories: that no one is ever going to be 100% perfect for you. As you’d expect from Stoller and Segel, said idea is milked for every comedic turn possible. Here’s what co-writer/director Nicholas Stoller had to say about the long writing process, why he never screams, and how the world almost got the Eminem animated show it deserved:

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The idea of beginning a romantic comedy at the moment where most others end is a potentially intriguing and promising one. What happens after the meet-cute, the courtship, the third-act conflict and ultimate reunion that leaves our happy couple smiling and in love? If The Five Year Engagement is any indication, what happens next is a slow slog peppered with rom-com conventions, supporting characters who often outshine the leads, and enough laughs to sustain a far shorter movie. When we first meet Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt) they themselves have already met, fallen in love and decided to spend the rest of their lives together. He has a great job as a chef in San Francisco, she’s awaiting an offer from UC Berkeley, and their future together looks bright. Until it doesn’t. Berkeley passes, but a school in Michigan offers her a two-year position so Tom gives up his job and the loving couple move east where she blossoms and he begins to fall apart. The wedding day gets pushed back again and again as Tom and Violet struggle to rediscover what brought them together in the first place. Hilarity ensues?

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Dynamic duo Nicholas Stoller and Jason Segel continue their tangled professional careers together in The Five-Year Engagement, unlike the last film in which the pair split writing, with Stoller directing and Segel starring, Get Him to the Greek, their new film tackles some tough stuff in name of the comedy – marriage. The film centers on Segel’s Tom and Emily Blunt‘s Violet and their stumble to the altar. From the film’s first scenes, it’s obvious that Tom and Violet are very much in love, but a series of big life events that have nothing to do with their nuptials steadily pile up until it looks as if their five-year engagement will be just that, an engagement, with no wedding at the end. In the style of Stoller and Segel’s previous works, the film is both funny and true, and the addition of Judd Apatow as producer and a cast that includes Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, Mindy Kaling, Rhys Ifans, Kevin Hart, Chris Parnell, and Brian Posehn only pumps up the film’s improv-influenced laughs. The press junket for The Five-Year Engagement was a laidback affair, and one that drove home the point that the film was a collaborative effort between people who actually like each other. Comprised of four roundtables of paired talent, your faithful Reject and a group of other online journalist spent time talking to Segel and Blunt, Nicholas Stoller and Judd Apatow, Brie and Kaling, and Parnell and Posehn. Revelations from the junket were not just confined to […]

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There are a good number of reasons to get excited for Your Sister’s Sister, not the least of which is that our own Robert Levin saw it at Sundance and ended up enjoying it quite a bit. The biggest reason to get excited today, however, is the release of the film’s trailer. Taking place in the gorgeous scenery of the Pacific Northwest, Your Sister’s Sister tells the tale of a depressed gent (Mark Duplass) who gets sent away by his best friend (Emily Blunt) to her family’s island cabin. Hijinx ensue when Blunt’s equally depressed sister (Rosemarie DeWitt) is unexpectedly already at said cabin, and some drunken sexy time commences. Drama ensues when Blunt shows up the next day, also unexpectedly, and everyone has to work through a tangled web of complex interpersonal relationships and suppressed feelings.

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Actress Emily Blunt has reportedly nabbed the female lead role in one of Tom Cruise‘s next projects, a sci-fi actioner not be confused with his Oblivion/Horizons that went through a long cycle of “short list” casting choices before settling on its two female leads. Fortunately, Doug Liman‘s All You Need is Kill has not subjected the movie news-consuming public to another drawn-out casting process and has just gone ahead and picked a dazzling lead. Variety reports that Blunt and Warner Bros. have ended a “long flirtation” for the part, with the Brit currently in talks for the role. The film is being adapted from a “light novel” of the same name by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, that centers on a new soldier (named Keiji Kiriya) who dies in his first battle – which happens to be against evil aliens who are taking over the Earth. Oddly enough, Keiji’s death is not the end of his life, as he wakes up every morning and relives the battle (and his death) over and over. It’s like a war-set sci-fi Groundhog Day. Blunt will reportedly play “another solider who fights alongside Cruise.” While I have not yet read the film’s highly lauded source material, a brief trip to the book’s Wikipedia page reveals a possible character for Blunt – “Rita Vrataski: A U.S. special forces soldier. Highly decorated and peerless in battle, she is seen as a hero by the entire world. In reality, she was caught in a time loop just like Keiji.” That […]

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After having to deal with those teasers-for-the-teaser annoyance, we now have the actual teaser trailer for writer/director Rian Johnson‘s Looper, his futuristic sci-fi thriller featuring a Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt face-off, both playing the same character. Right off the bat you can see Gordon-Levitt is channeling Willis’s well-known demeanor and style. But based on the impression this trailer gives, it’s an actual transformation, not an impersonation. Take a peek at Bruce Willis apologizing for Surrogates:

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In September, Bruce Willis will be hunting Joseph Gordon-Levitt (unless it’s the other way around? Or the other, other way around?) for Rian Johnson‘s Looper. You know this because Tyler knows this. And because you’ve probably had your calendar marked for this one since a year and a half ago. The fine folks at /film have debuted the first poster for the Sony flick, and it looks beautiful, mirrored, and like it will continue the People Evaporating theme that’s hit everyone from Source Code to Total Recall lately. Check it out for yourself:

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Do you live in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia or San Francisco? If not, do you mind driving to them for a Lasse Hallström movie? If so, pack up some beef jerky, energy drinks and the What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? soundtrack because you’re in for the wildest road trip of your life. And when you get to one of those cities, we’ll get you into a free advanced screening of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen – Hallström’s new flick starring Ewan MacGregor and Emily Blunt which tells the story of a fishing expert charged with bringing the sport of fly fishing to the desert by a Sheik. What do you have to do? Email me with a subject heading “I Want to Go Salmon Fishing” and give me your name and the city you’ll be in on Tuesday (3/6) or Thursday (3/8) in or around the evening time. First come, first served. Plus, you can bring a +1. A spouse, a girlfriend or boyfriend, a family member, maybe a stranger you meet on the subway and fall deeply in love with because of us and this movie? Or, if you’re planning on attending the San Francisco screening, maybe a giant naked woman who just stomped on your car. That’s up to you! By that, we mean we’re not liable for any damage done to your car when the giant naked woman is overwhelmed with emotion by the movie.  

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Rian Johnson

The powers that be at Film School Rejects were wise enough to include Rian Johnson‘s sci-fi pic Looper as one of our Most Anticipated Films of 2012, and it’s certainly in my top 3 for the year as well. Sadly, the film is still far off and we’ve only gotten a few behind-the-scenes pics (via Looper‘s Twitter feed) and an official shot showcasing Bruce Willis doing what he does best. Now we have gotten another behind-the-scenes picture which may give you a better idea of what to expect. Johnson released this pretty damn cool shot of the film’s time travel machine, and it looks like a down and dirty time machine, a.k.a. it’s not shiny and all that stuff.

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Director Lasse Hallström’s newest picture, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, is about an eccentric sheik who loves fishing so much he’s willing to pay obscene amounts of money to create a permanent river in the deserts of Yemen, stocked with salmon. It then becomes up to his legal council to find a fisheries expert who can make it happen. And here we have the set-up for a really boring movie. Except, watching the trailer, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen doesn’t seem boring at all. Most of that probably has to do with the fact that the legal council and the fisheries expert are played by Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor, two actors with more charm in their fingernails than most people have in their whole bodies. I kind of have big crushes on both of them, so watching McGregor play nervous and proper, and Blunt playing blunt and driven, and seeing the two of them turn banter into romance…well, it all just seems to be too cute for words. Add in Kristin Scott Thomas as a sassy newspaper woman with shady motives, and this may be a movie with too much charm for its own good.

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The trailer for The Five-Year Engagement doesn’t make it look like a movie I’m too excited to see. Which is strange, because it’s not just the latest film from director Nicholas Stoller, it’s also his latest writing collaboration with Jason Segel, and I love pretty much everything that these guys do. I think the problem is that this one looks like it’s going to be a romantic comedy that’s a little bit heavier on the relationship drama than it will be on the comedy. I like my Jason Segel more silly and whimsical than the one I’m seeing here, dealing with the trials and tribulations of loving a woman who’s career path is taking his life in a different direction than he saw it going. On the flip side of the coin, this little two-and-a-half minute trailer is pretty much the most comedy I’ve ever seen Segel’s co-star Emily Blunt do, and she seems to be rather good at it. Not every actor can do comedy, so you’re never sure what you’re going to get until they try. The image of Kate Hudson getting shot in the leg with an arrow really doesn’t do much for me, but when it happens to Blunt here I got my one solid laugh from the trailer. Emily Blunt certainly isn’t my issue. Check out the first trailer for The Five-Year Engagement after the break.

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Due to an overwhelming need to embrace my inner hermit the last few weeks I have forgone my usual weekend gallivanting in favor of staying home with movies. It might seem as if I’m turning into a cat lady (I prefer dogs) who hopes to find solace in the virtual arms of Tom Hardy or Gerard Butler while I contemplate my Bridget Jones-esque death at the mangled jowls of a wild pack of voracious coyotes, but in all honestly there is just something comforting in spending Friday nights with a lover who is always in bed next to you – the remote control. I like to call my endless supply of romance, sex comedies, erotic thrillers, and documentaries “research” for this column, and that’s why it’s completely acceptable for me to leave my desk Friday at 5PM to watch whatever is inside that little red envelope. But this week I needed something different. Instead of a film about French sexploitation or sex in the Australian outback, I wanted a more mainstream offering. I desired a pretty film with the hint of romance but the full adrenaline rush of a psychological thriller. I also wanted to indulge my blazing Emily Blunt crush. Again, in the name of research.

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Drinking Games

Would you vote for Matt Damon for Congress? The people of fake New York sure seem to be ready to do so, as long as his toothy-grin politician character in The Adjustment Bureau can keep his pants on… and with Emily Blunt running around in high heels, that’s not an easy task. But something tells us that a mysterious force might keep him in check to make that happen. One of this spring’s speculative fiction films comes to DVD and Blu-ray, based on a story by Phillip K. Dick, and we give it a $1000-a-plate treatment with our latest drinking game.

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Focus Features International is backing a new dark comedy from director Dante Ariola. This will be Ariola’s first feature, but the project is already interesting to me for three reasons. The first is that Ariola has credits for being a crew member on a bunch of old The Ren and Stimpy Show episodes. That doesn’t really mean anything for this film; I just think that it’s fun. The second and third reasons I’m interested will have direct effects on this new film’s quality, however, because those reasons are Colin Firth and Emily Blunt. Firth is, of course, coming off of his Best Actor win for his starring role in The King’s Speech and Blunt was most recently seen running around with Matt Damon in The Adjustment Bureau. This new film, which is still untitled, is about a man who fakes his own death and tries to create a new identity for himself. Somewhere in the process he meets a girl, who is in a similar situation, and they go about having some bonding time while breaking into houses and pretending that they are the people who live there. I can only assume that Firth is set to be the man and Blunt the girl. But whichever way the casting goes, I’ll be keeping my eye on how this project develops, because those are a couple of great names to come out of the gate with for your first film, and an interesting premise or these great actors to play around […]

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I was already pretty pumped just at the announcement that Nicholas Stoller and Jason Segel were going to be working together again. Their first film collaboration Forgetting Sarah Marshall is one of my favorite comedies of the last decade and the idea of them reteaming for Five Year Engagement had me at hello. But since then they’ve just kept making this movie sound cooler and cooler. From the very beginning Emily Blunt was cast as Segel’s love interest in the film. I defy you to find someone who doesn’t like them some Emily Blunt. Score one point. movie. But it didn’t stop there. The wonderful people behind this film then went on to cast the funny and adorable Alison Brie to play Blunt’s younger sister. After that they filled things out by adding the ridiculously charismatic Rhys Ifans and the next big thing in comedy Chris Pratt for supporting roles. Could things get any better? Well, yes, and they have.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr gets an added dose of tiger’s blood and Adonis DNA to make it through all the movie-watching he endures. He bats about .500 in his screenings, really liking some but struggling through others. After a visit to the wild west of Rango, he finds his fate adjusted by a mysterious fleet of men with stylish hats. Then, he realizes how ugly Number Four really is before staying out all night, drinking with Topher Grace and Teresa Palmer… who looks a lot like Number Six.

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Nicholas Stoller directed both Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek. I liked both of those movies to varying degrees. I found Get Him to the Greek to be an enjoyable enough romp, but I thought Forgetting Sarah Marshall was one of the top few comedies of the decade. I would be interested enough in his next project no matter what it was. So when I look over the cast that has been announced for this one so far, I start to feel myself go from interested to fanboy meltdown. Stoller and Jason Segel, the same team that wrote both of the previously mentioned films, wrote the script. Personally, I’ll see anything that Jason Segel has a creative credit on. I find the man to be completely charming and his upcoming film The Muppets is something that I’m just giddy over. Segel is set to star in this one alongside my current crush Emily Blunt (who I’m watching flashing leg on Conan the very moment I type this). It tells the tale of the high and low points of a relationship, hopefully less depressingly than Blue Valentine did. But whichever way they go, I have faith that they’ll find a way to tell the story with humor and heart. Community’s Allison Brie has already signed on to play Blunt’s younger sister, and that’s great because she’s funny and pretty. Tell me all of this and I’m already on board. Adding in the new news is some delicious icing […]

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The Adjustment Bureau, loosely adapted from a Philip K. Dick story, takes on one of science fiction’s stock themes. Fans of Lost, for example, or Minority Report or The Matrix will recognize the classic struggle between fate and free will at the heart of the picture, the clash between the universe’s plan for us and our desire to carve out our own destiny. It’s familiar, quasi-religious territory rendered with stylish flair by writer-director George Nolfi and cinematographer John Toll. Set in a Manhattan rife with dapper henchmen in fedoras and swanky buildings with long marble foyers, captured in sweeping camera movements and symmetrical compositions, the film has the look of a production of weighty, spiritual import. Yet that stylistic edge services a love story that starts flat and never gets going. It’s a forced and altogether empty conjoining of two moderately likable, exceedingly bland individuals that inspires none of the deep, transcendent passion required of a narrative so immersed in spirituality.

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


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