Emma Watson

Emma Watson in This is the End

If it wasn’t clear by recent, real life events, Emma Watson has always been, and probably always will be a bonafide badass. Speaking out at the United Nations in the name of gender equality and the fight for feminism is an incredible accomplishment that took guts and candor that many don’t possess. In the world of film, Watson has an undeniable track record of that same, extreme level of confidence and bravado. Girl’s going places and she’s not letting anyone stop her. That was clearly solidified in her childhood when she stepped into the wizarding world of the Harry Potter series and schooled everyone around her for a subsequent eight films. Hermione Granger is lauded as the brainy sidekick of the hero of the saga, a clever witch who does her homework and gets things done in order to help the gang succeed toward their next mission. But as we’ve established, she’s so much more — she’s the brains behind the whole operation, the real one in charge. Does anybody truly think the war could’ve finally been won, and everybody could have had that happy future resolution with their questionable age makeup and Hogwarts-bound children without Hermione Granger?

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Movie musicals

Hollywood’s current movie musical landscape is, well, a pretty flat one (get it? landscape? musical? flat?). This year is surprisingly rich with musical offerings — four musically-tinged features (The Muppets Most Wanted, Jersey Boys, Annie and Into the Woods) will have hit theaters by the time the year ends, while 2013 only had one, 2012 had three and 2011 had a single entry — but despite that apparent upswing in musical feature films, none of them offer what the genre so desperately needs: an original and contemporary musical with a big romantic spin. Sure, the romantic genre is already floundering at the box office as is, thanks to the consistent wealth of Nicholas Sparks films (which, yes, all feel the same) and the lack of more traditional romantic comedies (which isn’t a bad thing, really, as long as Nancy Meyers keeps making fizzy stuff and we aren’t subjected to another bloated holiday feature, like Arbor Day or similar), but that means that there should be more room for some different spins (and twists and turns) on what constitutes a romantic film. There’s nothing more romantic than singing and dancing, right? So there’s shouldn’t be anything more cinematically romantic than an all-singing, all-dancing movie musical, right? Hollywood needs to be making more, and while they haven’t started just yet, that might be changing very soon.

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Hermione Prisoner of Azkaban

Exactly ten years ago today I was sitting in the back of a crowded movie theater waiting for magic to happen. As a teenager, I was already deeply entrenched in the Harry Potter pandemonium. The first book arrived in Scholastic catalogs and book fairs when I was in elementary school, and I prided my little, insufferable overachieving self on finishing the latest installments in the the series as soon as they came out to get bonus reading points at school. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was an event that every child looked forward to, the culmination of our carefully spent hours poring over pages and devouring J.K. Rowling’s words finally being brought to life on the big screen. Would Hogwarts be the magical world we’d been escaping to for the past few years? Would the mythical beasts and spells and potions and charms all remain intact while making the leap to movies? Would the characters we’d grown so invested in match our expectations? For young girls, the personification of Hermione Granger on screen was especially noteworthy. As the prominent female role in the story, she was never designated as a sidekick, never belittled as a love interest, always had the better tricks up her sleeves and never backed down when she knew she was right —even when she had a pack of insipid boys telling her how annoying she could be. She was familiar and inspirational, a muse with terrible hair and a magic wand, and when the first film […]

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Russell Crowe in Noah movie

If you were raised by parents who even loosely identified as practitioners of a Western religion, then chances are you were brought up being told some version of the Noah story. You know the one—God becomes upset with the wickedness of man, decides to flood the Earth and wipe everything out so that he can start over, Noah is tasked with building a giant boat that can save a male and female from every species of animal, and then, wickedness wiped out, Noah’s family and all of the critters are encouraged to be fruitful and multiply. It’s a good story for kids. It sends the message that if you don’t behave morally, the world will punish you, it involves a bunch of furry creatures, and it’s easy to summarize. Which is why Darren Aronofsky is kind of taking a risk by turning it into a big budget, epic adventure film. Not only do most people think of the Noah story as existing within the realm of childhood fairy tale, but those who are devout are likely to bristle at the idea of having one of their sacred stories blown up and turned into Hollywood fare, and those who don’t respond well to religion aren’t likely to look forward to reliving their early days sitting through Sunday School lectures. There’s good news here for all of these potential whiners though, because Noah is far too dark and complex to be confused for a childhood fairy tale, it takes great pains to […]

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While We

With yesterday’s news that Emma Watson is reteaming with her The Perks of Being a Wallflower filmmaker Stephen Chbosky for While We’re Young, yet another literary adaptation for the duo (this time of a book by Adena Halpern), there comes both excitement and the lingering sense of “wait, that title sure sounds familiar.” It should – because Noah Baumbach just so happens to be in the middle of crafting his own film titled While We’re Young. Red alert, people, red alert. The popular title is not to be confused with the One Direction song “Live While We’re Young” (don’t let that header image fool you), the teasing comment your sassy grandma yells out when you take too long to drive her to bingo, or the USGA’s “pace of play pledge” that they’ve styled around the saying (golfers, what can you do?). But the saddling of two very different films with the same title will inevitably lead to some confusion, so with that in mind, we’ve cooked up a handy guide to telling apart your dueling While We’re Young films. Here’s hoping no one else decides to jump on this moniker-addled bandwagon, we’ll just have to update this damn thing.

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watson2

Despite the fact that everyone with a soul loved the Harry Potter franchise, there was quite a bit of speculation following its completion as to whether or not the three young actors who made up the core of those films’ casts would be able to transcend their iconic roles and go on to have continued success in the acting world once they were over. Emma Watson didn’t take long to prove that she’d do just fine, however, and the big reason she was able to do that was the head-turning supporting role she was given in Stephen Chbosky’s 2012 film The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Given that Chbosky was primarily known as a writer, but was now going to be handling directing duties on Wallflower (which was an adaptation of his novel of the same name), there were more questions floating around regarding how successful that film was going to be than just whether or not moviegoers would be able to accept Watson as anything other than Hermione, but, in the end, Wallflower was one of the most pleasant surprises of 2012, and Watson’s performance ended up being one of the biggest highlights of a film that was full of them. And now there’s some news that Chbosky and Watson are going to be looking to rediscover some of that old chemistry, as a new project has them slated to work together again.

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Noah Crowe 1

Who knew sackcloth and ashes could look so great? Apparently Darren Aronosfky (or at least costume designer Michael Wilkinson). Recognizing that the bulk of the connection hear comes from Russell Crowe, these first images from the Black Swan director’s Biblical epic Noah feel a lot like we’re heading back into Ridley Scott Robin Hood territory. It’s also partially because these pictures (via The Film Stage) are close-ups on the actors without much discernible background beyond “a forest somewhere.” Obviously the films will be nothing like each other, and it’s interesting to see Noah and his family in something other than impossibly clean togas as is the artistic norm, but the likeness popped right out. Is it just me?

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melissa-mccarthy

What is Casting Couch? A column full of casting news that today includes stories on Emma Watson, Adam Sandler, Idris Elba, Liam Hemsworth, and Christina Hendricks. How’s that for an eclectic crew? Hopefully by the time the ubiquitous and centuries long ad campaign for The Heat finally draws to a close, the world won’t be too sick of Melissa McCarthy to go see anymore of her movies. She really is a versatile talent, so it would be a shame to see Hollywood wear out her welcome by shoving her down our throats in the crude loudmouth role until we retch from it. But perhaps her taking a voice acting role in an animated movie could help cleanse the palate. Deadline is reporting that she’s just signed on to talk into a microphone for Dreamworks’ B.O.O (Bureau of Otherworldy Operations), joining Seth Rogen as one of the leads. They’ll be playing partnered up agents who work for a government agency meant to protect humanity from evil spirits, which sounds like R.IP.D., only tons better.

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The Bling Ring

On the balance of probabilities, Sofia Coppola‘s fifth feature is likely to be one of her most commercial; not only is it based on true events (in more certain terms than her edgy if sketchy Marie Antoinette), but the real life tale’s rooting in the cult of celebrity will almost certainly ensure that it earns its fair share of fans. Disappointing it is, then, that Coppola can’t wring much of interest out of the people behind the story, while the eminent appeal of Emma Watson in yet another boundary-pushing, post-Harry Potter presence is almost completely squandered in a throwaway supporting role. Though The Bling Ring is not a good film by any stretch of the imagination, it is still very much the sort of feature audiences would expect from the director, crowded with an indie rock soundtrack and featuring long, deliberate takes in order to focus on the existential ennui of the characters therein. Despite doing little with them, it is the characters which Coppola peculiarly decides to focus on instead of the facts of the case itself. The titular collective of criminals is headed by Rebecca (Katie Chang), who leads her friends to the homes of their favorite celebrities to make off with their most expensive and illusive wares.

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The Bling Ring

Sofia Coppola’s latest minor opus about the perils and pitfalls of being (actually criminally this time) plagued by ennui and blind ambition, The Bling Ring, opens in limited release this week. Based on one of those “only in Hollywood” stories that, in fact, really only could and did happen in Hollywood, The Bling Ring tells a vaguely fictionalized version of the life and times of a ring of fame-obsessed teen burglars who broke into the houses of a number of big name stars in 2008 and 2009. The ring made away with the clothes, jewelry, accessories, artwork, and cash of celebs like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Rachel Bilson, Orlando Bloom, Miranda Kerr, Brian Austin Green, Megan Fox, and Audrina Patridge (yes, the terms “celeb” and “star” are used somewhat loosely as it applies to a few of the victims), until they were finally caught by way of surveillance footage and anonymous tipsters. “The Bling Ring” itself is weird enough, and while The Bling Ring the movie never quite digs deep enough into what made the teen criminals do what they did (beyond wanting cool clothes and rightly assuming that Paris Hilton was too stupid to lock her front door), it’s still a nice addition to Coppola’s resume and a nifty addendum to some real life strange crime. How strange is it? One of the major players in the ring, Alexis Neiers (brilliantly played in the film by Emma Watson), was in the middle of filming her own reality show (titled […]

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Bling Ring Trailer

There are a ton of great things in this full Bling Ring trailer, but Emma Watson is the absolute best. It’s very likely that her character’s conversation with the press that’s featured here could be the highlight of the entire movie. Otherwise, she just looks and sounds fantastic with her affected Valley Girl drawl and angsty airheadedness. Seriously, though. She might want to run a country someday. In the movie, she and her friends get the idea to rob from the rich and famous by paying attention to when they’re own publicity machines have them making high-profile appearances. They get caught, but they get a few high heels out of the deal. Check out the trailer for Sofia Coppola‘s latest for yourself:

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Bill Murray

What is Casting Couch? It’s the surveyor of all that is casting. Today we’ve got joyous news about more incredible actors joining Animal Rescue and sad news about Emma Watson dropping out of some promising projects. Get ready, it’s going to be an emotional roller coaster.

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The Bling Ring Emma Watson

It’s an interesting confluence of events that Sofia Coppola is following up her ambiguous Somewhere with a different kind of look at fame just as Harmony Korine’s exploitative-feeling Spring Breakers is hitting SXSW. Like a movie lovechild, the first DayGlo trailer for The Bling Ring has hit, and it shows off Emma Watson and friends dancing around, acting immortal and stealing from famous people. Ephemeral as it is, it would be unfair to judge a teaser trailer for not showing anything substantive. That’s kind of the point. To tease. But Coppola has such a history of exploring airy what-does-it-all-mean nonsense that this trailer seems likely to be an honest portrayal of what we’ll actually end up getting (even despite its energy). Check it out for yourself:

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H

What is Casting Couch? It’s a compiling of all the day’s most notable casting news. Today we’ve got updates on what big book adaptations the Harry Potter kids are moving on to next, among many other things. You better sit down for this one. Ever since genre fans got that glimpse of a post-apocalyptic world where robots were in charge and humans lived in little pockets of resistance cells in James Cameron’s The Terminator, they’ve been clamoring to get a proper robot war movie. Well, that may never happen, but Matt Reeves’ upcoming Dawn of the Planet of the Apes sequel might give them the next best thing: a proper ape war. Coming Soon has word that Dawn is mostly going to be about one of these pockets of human rebels fighting against a world that’s now controlled by the apes, and perhaps most excitingly, they’ve learned that Gary Oldman has signed on to play the leader of this human resistance. This is fitting, because Oldman is so awesome he probably really would be the best guy to put in charge if super-intelligent apes tried to take over the world. He could make them back down with just the authority in his voice.

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commentary-wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the story of Charlie (Logan Lerman), a teenager struggling to fit in with those around him (including Emma Watson and Ezra Miller) while also dealing with traumatic memories from his past. It’s a rare film in that it manages to be very personal even as it speaks to so many people. The disc contains two commentaries, one with writer/director Stephen Chbosky and another with six cast members plus Chbosky. I watched the film twice, back to back, with each of the commentaries, and the combination of experiencing it (mostly) free of dialogue, where actors’ expressions and the film’s editing tells the story while the creative team explores what the film meant to them has altered the movie for me in a profound way. I liked but didn’t love it upon first viewing, but as someone who watches way too many movies I know that sometimes a re-watch under different circumstances or in a different frame of mind can have a dramatic effect on how you receive a film. The fact that it happened to me while watching with the commentary track on is a definite first for me though. Keep reading to see what I heard with this week’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower Commentary Commentary…

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Screen Shot 2012-12-17 at 12.37.16 PM

Struck By Lightning is a huge deal for Glee star Chris Colfer – at only 22, he not only stars in the film, but also wrote the screenplay and executive produced. He has also adapted his screenplay for the film into the YA novel Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal, marking his second published novel after The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell. Directed by Brian Dannelly (Saved!), Struck by Lightning tells the story of high school overachiever Carson Phillips (Colfer) who dreams of leaving behind his small town, getting into Northwestern, and becoming a wildly successful journalist. However, these dreams come to an abrupt end when he is struck by lightning and dies. The film unfolds via Carson’s posthumous narration, as he recounts his struggles with his emotionally-challenged alcoholic mother (Allison Janney), his seldom-seen father (Dermot Mulroney) and his father’s pregnant fiancée (Christina Hendricks), but mainly how he and his best friend Malerie (Rebel Wilson) blackmail their fellow students into writing for their literary magazine. Colfer was kind enough to talk about his inspirations when writing the screenplay, the exciting festival experience, and other projects that are on his very creative horizon.

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Author Stephen Chbosky made an ambitious choice as his first feature film: his own acclaimed novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. From the pressure of living up to the reputation of your previous work to appeasing fans, that’s a daunting task. Considering the film’s critical acclaim and the successful opening, that publicity challenge Chbosky faced has been conquered. As for the actual “making-of” challenges, the book presents many narrative difficulties: the book’s told in an episodic structure; stuffed full of flashbacks and subplots; and the book has a twist which we don’t see too often in High School dramedies. Speaking with Chbosky, those are factors he was well-aware of, all of which he approached with delicacy. That delicacy has made for, as he told us after our interview, a film “he wouldn’t change a frame of.” Here’s what Chbosky had to say about adapting his own work, setting his actors free, and the power of David Bowie’s music:

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower Review

In attempting to write a review for Stephen Chbosky‘s cinematic adaptation of his own novel of the same name, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I ran into a problem (a problem big enough that I’d feel the need to use frequent “I” statements in said review, a big no-no in my book). It’s impossible for me to write a review of Perks that would, in any way, be able to masquerade as an objective take on the material (and, of course, no review is ever wholly objective, and you’d do well to remember that straight away), because Chbosky’s book made an indelible mark on me as a teenager, one that I’ve never been quite able to shake. Chbosky’s book was published on February 1, 1999. I got a copy of the book as a gift from my first boyfriend about two weeks later. For those of you not keeping track on my personal biography, I was fifteen in the winter of 1999, a sophomore in high school who, though lucky enough to have a ton of friends and great parents and good grades, still felt a bit awkward (being a bookworm and a movie buff and a modern art freak didn’t help — these weren’t cool things to be, yet). I’ll stop you there — yes, everyone felt awkward in high school, but the experience of being a teenager is a profoundly insular one, so most of us don’t know (often for quite some time) that everyone else felt […]

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Emma Watson

According to Emma Watson, speaking to MTV, she’ll be shooting Beauty and the Beast next summer. The actress – who is appearing in The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Bling Ring next – said she’s met with director Guillermo del Toro and seen his conceptual look book for the project. “We met a week or two ago, and we started working on the script, and it’s going to go next summer. It’s so funny; obviously I’ve been doing a lot of other work, and I was nervous. I was like, ‘Is this going to go away?’ And Guillermo is so psyched about it, and he’s, like, been thinking about it so much. “He brought the book. I was like, ‘Ah, this is killing me.’ I’m very excited.” As she should be. As we all should be. Hopefully everything comes together to make this schedule a reality. However, it would mean the proposed summer 2013 start date for del Toro’s take on Pinocchio (which, oddly enough, stars Watson’s Harry Potter co-star Daniel Radcliffe) would be pushed. Or maybe del Toro will attempt to take on a live-action and an animated project at the same time. All of this will shake out, but the core point here is that del Toro is steadily, actively getting the stuff on his plate made, and that’s a glorious thing. I can think of few things better than seeing Pacific Rim in July and seeing del Toro start production on something new a week […]

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While it’s seeming more and more possible that Darren Aronofsky won’t make the wish of flood enthusiasts everywhere come true by casting someone to play a giant wave or two (or three, or four…) in his Noah, he’s making up for that hideous oversight with a stellar cast that so far includes Russell Crowe, Saoirse Ronan, Douglas Booth, Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ray Winstone, and (probably) Jennifer Connolly – a litany of talents that he’s just rounded out with no less than Sir Anthony Hopkins. Aronofsky himself announced the news this morning via his Twitter, in a tweet that reads: “i’m honored to be working with the great sir anthony hopkins. we just added him to the stellar cast of ‪#Noah‬. ‪#methuselahlives‬” Methuselah lives! Hurray! Wait, who is Methuselah again?

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