Emily Watson

Belle

Amma Asante‘s Belle made a quiet premiere at TIFF last month in a festival full of bigger and louder productions, but the full trailer will hopefully generate a little bit of buzz for what looks to be a genuinely solid period drama. Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars as Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral who instructs his uncle and aunt (Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson) to bring her up as one of their own. While her connection to aristocracy affords her certain privileges she would have never known, her family’s uneasiness with the color of her skin leaves her in limbo between two worlds. This is especially true when it comes time to find love and marriage. It’s going to be a rough time finding a family willing to let her marry in, but it’s also a decent way to indicate which men are terrible. Here’s looking at you, Tom Felton – great to see you playing a heinous jackass again. Check out the trailer here:

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The Book Thief

“If your eyes could speak, what would they say?” So postulates Max, a young Jewish refugee seeking shelter in Liesel’s house during WWII. It’s a pretty big question to ask a little girl, but as the trailer for Brian Percival‘s The Book Thief suggests, just her mere presence changes the lives of everyone in that small German town forever. Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) is sent to live with new parents (Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson) after losing her own family in the middle of WWII. Fitting in as a new girl in a town full of Nazis is clearly hard, but spirited little Liesel learns to cope with a combination of her fists, and through the magic of the written word. Bonding with Papa Geoffrey Rush and Max (Ben Schnetzer) are fun as well. It’s still a little unclear from the trailer exactly what it is that Liesel does to “transform the lives of everyone around her,” as the official synopsis states. Does she incite a revolution? Is it just her precociousness? The Book Thief is an adaptation of a best-selling novel, so my answer is probably there, but I’m not looking to spoil anything. Check out the trailer for yourself here:

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review some girls

Editor’s Note: Our review of Some Girl(s) originally ran during this year’s SXSW, but we’re running it again as the film opens in limited theatrical release starting June 28, 2013. Any fan of playwright/screenwrtier/filmmaker Neil LaBute‘s honest depictions of cringe-inducing narcissism will be pleased by Some Girl(s). LaBute’s last few films — The Wickerman, Death at a Funeral, and Lakeview Terrace – have shown him going outside his comfort zone with varying results. Some Girl(s), which LaBute scripted (but didn’t direct) from his play of the same name, marks the theatrical return of the LaBute we love. His greatest works often resemble a car crash in motion with the driver smiling through every ding, bone crush, and bump while the victims are left with serious pain. The driver here is simply credited as “Man” and played by Adam Brody. The victims are a few of Man’s ex-girlfriends, all of whom feature distinct personalities and past issues with him. There is the older woman (Emily Watson) he had an affair with, a young girl (Zoe Kazan) he took advantage of, the High School girlfriend (Jennifer Morrison), the tattooed Chicago girl (Mia Maestro) who made him feel cool and the final girl is played by Kristen Bell. He’s doing all this to right any wrongs before marrying his newest girl.

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There’s nothing quite like applying humor to a horrific slice of history to give new blood to some well-tread territory – thus a “pitch black comedy” set during WWI that centers on romantic affairs between sworn enemies. The Playlist reports that director Jon Amiel‘s film, The Poisoners, has lined up a really wonderful cast to give some laughs (and love) to the WWI-set story. Coming from script by television writer Paul Billing, the film follows “a group of women left behind in an English farming community during WWI who then become romantically intertwined with several German prisoners of war.” So, like, reverse In the Land of Bloody and Honey? The film’s cast now includes Emily Watson, Anna Friel, and Lena Headey as just some of those British ladies who fall in love with their apparent enemies. They will be joined by German actors Ken Duken, Hanno Koffler, and Alexander Scheer so, at the very least, this one is going for some cultural authenticity. While that’s a great cast, I’m most excited about seeing more work from the ever-charming Friel.

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Just on the heels of the announcement that Kristen Bell had signed on to be the first of Adam Brody’s many ex-girlfriends in Some Girls, THR has a report that a whole bevy of additional actresses have come out of the woodwork to fill out the ranks of Brody’s former flames. You see, Some Girls is an adaptation of a Neil LaBute play about a young writer who is looking to take stock of his past romantic entanglements and gain closure with each of his exes before he moves forward in his life and marries his current fiancée. Bell is said to be playing a character named Bobbi, a whip-smart little lady who Brody’s character walked away from without so much as a word. And with this new casting announcement, it’s looking like the Jennifer Getzinger-directed film version of this story will be including four other girls that have a bone to pick with the reflective protagonist as well. The biggest name of the bunch is Emily Watson, who will be playing a married woman named Lindsay who Brody’s character had an affair with. Watson has had a whole bunch of great roles before this, but she’s probably best known for her Oscar nominated performances in Breaking the Waves and Hilary and Jackie. To say that she adds some pedigree to this production would be something of an understatement.

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War Horse is a sprawling war epic that’s so old-fashioned it belongs in a museum. Not only has director Steven Spielberg painstakingly recreated the look and feel of a classical picture of this scope, imbued with a heavy dose of mid-century British formalism, he’s essentially made a carbon copy of a David Lean movie. Such a nostalgic enterprise would be welcome if it told a story worth telling, with the strong, determined characters and bold cinematic brushstrokes of a Lean picture. Spielberg’s film does nothing of the sort — it’s a stodgy, ridiculous movie with a horse that simultaneously serves as an allegory for the bond that unites all mankind and a symbol of profound, idealized purity.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr pulls out his screening schedule, which looks like a gambling addict’s racing form. He bounces from huge, mainstream releases to minor indie award contenders. Facing motion-capture CGI, tattooed bisexual investigators, cross-dressing waiters, silent film actors, and a lead star who is literally hung like a horse, Kevin tries to make sense of the seemingly countless releases this holiday week. Exhaustion from this process makes it impossible to buy a zoo or face the 3D end of the world, but his movie stocking is full, nonetheless.

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In Oranges and Sunshine, Emily Watson brings her Oscar-nominee-worthy acting to a leading role that sees her investigating a decades-old crime perpetrated en masse by a religious order. That crime? The conning and subsequent deportation of thousands of children to work camps in Australia. What’s most harrowing about the story is that it’s true. Watson plays Margaret Humphreys, the social worker who uncovered the scandal, shined a light on it, and worked to reunite now-adult children with their families. She’s joined by Hugo Weaving and David Wenham, and the trailer looks absolutely gripping:

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