Ethan Hawke

Ethan Hawke in PREDESTINATION

The concept of time travel is one thing. Entrusting time travel, and the fate of the world, to Ethan Hawke, really seems like quite another. But here we are, with Ethan Hawke: Time Cop keeping us safe from the world’s ills while we sit pretty in whatever linear concept of time and space we think actually exists. How foolish we’ve been this whole time. Fresh off his oft praised turn as the dadliest of dads in Boyhood, Hawke is trying his hand at sci-fi with Predestination, a film written and directed by Michael and Peter Spierig (his second collaboration with the Spierig Brothers after 2009’s Daybreakers) that answers the questions: is Ethan Hawke the hero we need right now, and is he the one we deserve? The premise for the film, laid out in the first trailer, is simple, but it doesn’t make any of the details any less dazzling. Hawke is a temporal agent, a time traveling arm of the law who leaps back and forth between decades stopping crimes before they are even committed. His main mission is to stop the terroristic reign of the so-called Fizzle Bomber, which if we’re being honest, sounds like a spectacular new rocket-shaped popsicle that you can get from your local ice cream truck.

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IFC Films

There’s a conceit at the center of Richard Linklater‘s new film Boyhood that imbues it with a unique and wonderful power absolutely absent from any other movie. It’s usually hyperbole to say a film is unlike anything you’ve seen before, but in this case it’s very true. In order to tell the story of a boy’s life from age six to eighteen, the writer/director assembled a cast willing to film for a week or so each year… for twelve years. The result is a coming-of-age tale where the usually accepted norm — child actors being replaced with older child actors as the character ages — is itself replaced with the smoothly subtle and unexpectedly touching effect of actually watching a boy (and his family) age before our eyes. We drop into Mason’s (Ellar Coltrane) life at six years old to find him in a small bit of trouble at school. His mom (Patricia Arquette) shares his teacher’s concerns on the drive home with the predominant one being Mason’s penchant for letting his mind wander to the world beyond the classroom. His curious and warm eyes — his only features to remain constant as his face and body age and mature around them over the years to come — carry that same casual inquisitiveness up into his eighteenth year when we leave him and his life just as unceremoniously as we arrived. There’s no doubt or debate that Boyhood is an unparalleled achievement, and if you grew up in America (or possibly other Western countries) […]

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Sarah Snook and others in PREDESTINATION

Movies featuring time travel as a central plot device immediately and unavoidably put a target on their back for the numerous plot holes and inconsistencies sure to arise from such a twisty narrative structure. Even the best will sometimes have moments or scenes that just don’t work given too much thought, but if audiences are willing to go along for the ride those inevitable bumps in the road can be smoothed over through execution and other strengths. Predestination is one such film, and a few caveats aside, it’s one of the most dramatically thrilling and emotionally satisfying time-travel movies of the past several years. Two figures fight in the basement of a busy travel hub. One is trying to blow up hundreds of people, and the other is trying to stop it. Injuries from the ensuing blast leave a Temporal Agent (Ethan Hawke) burned and near death, but he pulls through and is soon assigned a new mission from the past. The confusingly-named “Fizzle” bomber will be destroying a few blocks of NYC in 1975, and the time traveling government agency has been unable to stop him in time again and again. The agent is sent back to recruit fresh blood, a man named John (Sarah Snook), and together they set out to stop the bomber before he kills again. Again.

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cymbeline

Michael Almereyda’s (Hamlet) latest film adaptation of a work of William Shakespeare, Cymbeline, has a lot going for it on the surface. Not only does it feature all of the flowery language and intricate, twisting plot elements that one would associate with a work that was penned by the Bard, but it also features an extensive ensemble cast that’s full of familiar faces, and more action than you can shake a stick at. Almereyda has taken a pretty soap opera-heavy story about love and deceit, set in a world of ancient nobility, and plopped it right down in a modern drug war between a crew of corrupt cops and a gang of unruly bikers, he’s got big stars like Ethan Hawke, Penn Badgley, Dakota Johnson, Milla Jovovich, Anton Yelchin, John Leguizamo, Ed Harris, and a handful of others helping to bring it all to life, and he’s brought more car crashes, machine guns, and explosions to the table than anybody likely ever imagined they would see in an adaptation of a Shakespeare work. What’s not to like? Well, seeing as Cymbeline seems to be trying to be all things to all people, that lack of focus on a clear tone could result in there being quite a few things not to like. At least for the people who have to sell it to audiences.

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gattaca_1

Director Andrew Niccol’s 1997 science fiction film about a future where humanity’s genetic makeup is firmly under societal control, Gattaca, still has quite a few fans. To the point where whenever you’re talking about science fiction movies someone will inevitably say to you, “Hey, have you seen Gattaca? You should see Gattaca.” The problem for Niccol is that nobody has liked anything else he’s done since nearly as much, especially recently, as he’s been churning out intriguing-looking but ultimately completely shitty sci-fi schlock like In Time and The Host. Perhaps all it would take for Niccol to step up his game and make another fan favorite film would be a re-teaming with his Gattaca star Ethan Hawke though. After all, once a filmmaker has shown that he’s capable of making one good movie, you know that there’s always a chance he could do it again. Or, at least, these are the things that we should currently be hoping, because Deadline is reporting that Niccol and Hawke are getting ready to team up and make another movie together, and after Hawke just dumped The Purge and Getaway on our heads, he’s a guy who could use a little redemption as well.

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IMG_9437.dng

There’s a brief scene during the final throes of Getaway that is both thrilling to watch and impressive on a technical level. It’s a single-take POV, running roughly ninety seconds or so, of a car chasing another vehicle through early morning traffic. Neither dialogue nor film score distracts from the visual ride as the only sounds are the revving engine, the shifting gears, and an occasional squealing of brakes. The two cars weave at high speeds around morning commuters, narrowly avoiding collisions as they race through intersections, and for a minute and a half your eyes are glued to the screen enjoying a heart-racing few moments of beautiful simplicity. It’s not unusual for a film to save its highlight for the finale, but what makes this instance memorable is that it’s quite literally the only worthwhile scene in the entire movie. The improbably named Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke) is driving a heavily modified and recently stolen Ford Shelby Super Snake in a bit of a hurry. He’s not exactly sure where he’s headed, but he most assuredly knows why. His wife has been Taken kidnapped from their apartment in Sofia, Bulgaria, and now Magna has to follow the instructions of a voice on the car’s dashboard phone if he wants to get her back in one piece. The gravelly-voiced lady napper, a man whose mouth we see in close-up as he handles business from a night club, directs Magna in eluding police and damaging public property with no apparent goal […]

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getaway

The first trailer for director Courtney Solomon’s (Dungeons and Dragons) new action thriller, Getaway, was thoroughly ridiculousness. And not ridiculous in an over-the-top, gleefully insane way, but ridiculous in a baffling, who-thought-this-was-a-good-idea way. It presented us with a rock stupid plot wherein Jon Voight kidnaps Ethan Hawke’s wife and forces him to keep driving fast in some sort of senseless Speed recreation if he ever wants to get her back, it made us sit through a bunch of contentless exposition delivered in one of Voight’s silly accents, and, perhaps most ludicrously, it cast cherub-faced teen idol Selena Gomez as some sort of gun-toting street thug who goes around carjacking grown men. The second trailer for the film is pretty ridiculous too. Let’s get that out of the way up front. But it also takes some crucial steps in toning down many of the most head-scratching aspects of the first ad, and it even makes Getaway look like it could possibly be a big dumb action movie worth watching. Okay, it still features Voight doing one of his silly accents, but everything else is much better. Take a look.

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Though Ed Harris is a performer who most people would recognize at this point, he’s still not exactly what one thinks of when they think of a “movie star.” While he’s not exactly a “that guy” character actor who constantly shows up playing small roles, he’s not quite a leading man either. He’s more likely to show up in a movie as the guy behind the guy, just one step behind the hero, or even as the villain, someone who’s probably just as essential to a story as the hero but doesn’t get nearly as much of the credit when box office receipts and reviews start rolling in. Harris is more often than not the highlight of every film he appears in, and he has the chiseled looks and piercing eyes of a leading man, but for some reason he’s never quite broken through to that next level of Hollywood where he’s gotten the opportunity to get the big, showy roles and anchor the big, expensive films. Whether that’s because casting agents think that he’s lacking some sort of intangible quality that makes one a star or just that Harris himself prefers to make a living and build a career doing smaller, often more interesting work isn’t clear. But what is clear is that he’s been one of the best actors working regularly over the last few decades, he’s always a welcome name to see pop up on any casting list, and we now have reason to celebrate, as there’s […]

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Ethan-Hawke-Before-Midnight

The best part of the 2000 Hamlet adaptation starring Ethan Hawke may have been seeing Bill Murray attempt Shakespeare and be brutally murdered for doing so. Yet the same creative team behind this previous Shakespeare retelling are at it again. Deadling reports that Hawke and Hamlet writer/director Michael Almereyda will be teaming up once more to put one of the Bard’s lesser-known works – “Cymbeline“- up on the big screen. And just like the previous Hamlet (see also: almost every other Shakespeare play put on film in the last twenty years), Cymbeline will place Shakespeare’s story in the present day. This will reportedly involve two lovers adrift in a sea of dirty cops battling Sons of Anarchy-style biker gangs, with a style not unlike ROMEO + JULIET. There’s no word yet on how this will tie into the actual plot of “Cymbeline,” which involves a king and his daughter, the latter marrying a common man against her father’s wishes. Also, the original play is considered to be somewhere between a comedy and a drama and, from the sound of it, this re-telling doesn’t seem like a laugh riot. But let’s not pass judgement just yet (even though it’s both easy and fun). Hawke has his share of Shakespeare experience – not only with Hamlet, but on the actual stage, having performed in both “Macbeth” and “The Winter’s Tale.” And hey, maybe Bill Murray will show up again. One can always hope.

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purge questions

Those who have seen the trailer for The Purge, or the film itself, know this is not your normal brand of horror film. The Purge is certainly ful of jump scares and villains out for blood, but it takes that standard idea of horror one step further by infusing the narrative with bigger questions about society and human nature. This is not your typical story of people being pursued and not knowing why. The characters in The Purge know exactly what is out there, but the fear here is they thought they were armed against it, and what is even more unsettling is the realization that the true terror may exist outside of this single night. Life in The Purge is an almost Pleasantville-like world where crime is down, employment is up, and the general population seems content and happy – and there is a very distinct reason for this. For one night, every year, the entire population is allowed to “purge” themselves and give in to any evil or violent tendencies they may have been suppressing in favor of such a well mannered society. But The Purge gives audiences more than just a series of scares, it presents a variety of different questions, both directly and indirectly, throughout the film, but it does not offer many answers. It is not unusual for a horror film to leave audiences with an open ending, but the questions The Purge leaves open are ripe for discussion long after the credits roll. The following contains spoilers for […]

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review purge mullen

As with most things in life, there are good trailers and there are bad trailers. Bad trailers may lay out the entire film third act or not do a good job of selling you on the film, while a good trailer often teases just the right amount of a story to get you hooked and ready for more. The trailer for The Purge fell pretty firmly in the good category, explaining the outlandish future-set premise and teasing a home invasion storyline. It was up to the film to deliver on the promise of a fun, entertaining film, but unlike the trailer before it, it didn’t do a great job. The premise is certainly interesting. Set in 2022, America is “a nation reborn,” words you will hear throughout the film. Unemployment and crime are at all time lows thanks to a new government program called the Purge. For one night a year, from 7pm to 7am the next morning, all crime is legal. Police, fire and emergency medical services are suspended during this time and anything goes. For James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) and his family, the Purge has been a pathway to prosperity. James makes a shit-ton of money selling fancy, very secure looking security systems to wealthy homeowners (including many of his neighbors) to protect themselves during the annual Purge. His wife Mary (Lena Headey) is nice enough but seems to have a little more edge than the typical soccer mom, though perhaps that’s Headey and her history of playing […]

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getaway

Ethan Hawke has probably been having one of the best few weeks of his career. His latest collaboration with Richard Linklater and Julie Delpy, Before Midnight, has opened to rave reviews, he’s got a thriller called The Purge set to hit theaters while riding the momentum of the inexplicable buzz that’s been generated by its ad campaign, and now a trailer has debuted for his new movie, where he gets to live out his lifelong dream of working alongside Selena Gomez. Okay, Gomez hasn’t been acting for all that long, so maybe lifelong dream is overstating it, but she’s pretty popular with the young folk, so maybe Hawke’s kids are at least pretty excited to see their dad working alongside their idol? And if you’re a fan of movies where cars get driven really fast for no reason, things explode, and Jon Voight speaks with a silly accent, then maybe you’ll be excited for Getaway too. There’s only one way to find out, and that’s to watch the trailer.

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blum

Blumhouse productions has been making quite a go at the box-office over the past few years. “Quite a go” may actually be an understatement, considering they’re pulling in big numbers for very non-tentpole releases. After the success of Paranormal Activity, producer Jason Blum has been making a lot of bang for his buck. With Insidious and the Activity franchise, Blum has cornered the market on low budget horror movies aimed at a broad audience. His newest project, The Purge, is hoping to follow in those films’s footsteps. The high-concept siege movie was made for a mere three million dollars, which isn’t even close to the budget of the fellow wide releases we’re seeing this summer. Even if the movie doesn’t strike gold, expect a profit and more movies like it from Blumhouse. Not a bad model by any standard. Here’s what The Purge producer Jason Blum had to say about that business plan and finding creativity within it.

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Before Midnight

Editor’s Note: This review originally ran as a part of our insanely extensive Sundance 2013 coverage. Before Midnight is in theaters as of May 24th. It’s no easy feat to review one of Richard Linklater’s Before films – including Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Sundance premiere Before Midnight – because to attempt to chronicle and summarize films that primarily feature two characters walking and talking would likely prove boring and definitely end up reducing the experience of watching one of the Ethan Hawke- and Julie Delpy-starring films. Here it is straight – do you love Before Sunrise and Before Sunset? You will love Before Midnight. Do you just like the previous two films? You’ll probably still love Before Midnight. Do you hate the film’s predecessors? Well, perhaps you’re best advised to stay away from this one. Have you never even seen one of the Before films? Well, you’ll probably do pretty okay with Before Midnight, thanks to its impressively well-crafted flow, its increasingly more relatable characters, and its less-starry-eyed but much more satisfying approach to what it means to actually love someone.

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review purge

When is a good old-fashioned home invasion movie not a good old-fashioned home invasion movie? When it sets itself in the near future and forgets to be all that good. Welcome to The Purge. It’s 2022, and the United States has finally solved its growing problem with violence and crime by making it legal. More precisely, it’s legal for a twelve hour period one night per year. Citizens are encouraged to stay safe in their secure homes, unless of course they care to vent their animalistic rage and partake in the annual event. The Sandin family feels safe behind their state of the art security shutters, but when their dumbass son has a crisis of conscience and lets an injured man in, all hell breaks loose.

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derrickson

Brian De Palma’s classic, and best film, Blow Out, isn’t the most obvious inspiration for co-writer/director Scott Derrickson‘s Sinister. They’re in different genres all together, but both focus on two characters dealing with failure who find themselves reduced to sitting alone in a room trying to figure out a plot that is bigger than they ever would’ve imagined. What is obvious about Sinister is its level of accessibility. The movie is never extreme with its scares, never relies on cringe-inducing carnage, and is straight-forward in its plotting, all of which probably helped make it a box-office success late last year. Speaking with Derrickson via email for the film’s Blu-ray release, that simplicity is entirely what he aimed for — making a horror movie for everyone. Here’s what else Derrickson had to say about creating the look of Sinister with the Alexa camera, Blow Out and working with child actors: 

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Before Midnight

Seeing as Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise and Before Sunset are movies that basically consist of two characters walking and talking for their entire run times, they’re the niche sort of films that aren’t going to appeal to everyone. Those that fell in love with Ethan Hawke’s Jesse and Julie Delpy’s Celine in that first film fell hard though, and most continued to love what they got in the sequel 9 years later. Well, here we are, 9 years after that, and the third film in the trilogy has a trailer. What does it tell us to expect from the film? Of course, it gets Jesse and Celine together in a gorgeous European location (this time Greece), and it gets them walking around, taking in the sights, and debating life, love, and human nature. But there are some differences here, as well. They’re older now, parents, and their talk seems to be less about the possibilities of love and romance and more about the reality of what it is to love and be loved. Also, instead of keeping them isolated somewhere on their own, this film seems to see them spending much more time together while interacting in groups. Has too much time passed for Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy to rekindle the magic a third time? Has too much changed about these characters and the setup for this to really feel like a Before movie? By all accounts, no. Everyone who has seen the film has responded to it very strongly, […]

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Before Midnight

Perhaps the days of waiting months (and sometimes years) to see Sundance films are finally on the wane, as Exhibitor Relations reports (via /Film) that Sony Pictures Classics has set a limited release date for festival favorite Before Midnight on May 24th, when it will open in both New York and Los Angeles. The film was a true darling at last month’s festival (it even earned an A- from this critic) and is widely considered to be a wonderful end to Richard Linklater‘s globe-trotting romantic trilogy starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Fans of the trilogy have been anticipating this one for years and, we daresay, they will not be disappointed with this final entry. We mentioned the film in our wrap-up of purchased features from the festival that we posted last week, and while we didn’t have an exact opening date then, we did guarantee that it would be a 2013 release. We’re certainly pleased that our prediction proved true, and you’ll probably share the sentiment when you get to see the film this spring. Before Midnight will also play at SXSW, which kicks off on March 8.

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Bradley Cooper and American Sniper

What is Casting Couch? It’s a daily movie news column that that wants to make you a star, baby. Filmmaker Cameron Crowe hasn’t said much about his next project. We don’t yet have a title or a plot synopsis for it. But what we do know is that it’s said to be similar in tone to things like Almost Famous and Jerry Maguire, and it’s got Emma Stone playing a lead role (and it might just be a rewrite of his Deep Tiki script from years ago). So basically, expect something that lines up with Crowe’s best work and stars one of your favorite actresses. Sounds great. The new news regarding the project is that Crowe is reportedly close to finding his male lead. Deadline Hollywood says that he has his eye on Bradley Cooper, and he’s close to making a deal happen. Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone in a Cameron Crowe movie? Yeah, that should be enough to get the attention of every person of every gender and sexuality ever. Remember how we reported that Christopher Nolan’s regular DP, Wally Pfister, is going to be directing his first movie, it’s going to be called Transcendence, and it’s going to star Johnny Depp? Well, all of that stuff is still true, but the L.A. Times has dug up even more information. Turns out the film is actually going to have three leads, and Pfister is very game to get Christian Bale to sign on as number two of the three. Anyone out there want to see Johnny Depp […]

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Sinister

Editor’s note: This review has previously appeared as part of our SXSW 2012 and Fantastic Fest coverage, but since it’s so well-written and increasingly relevant thanks to Sinister’s opening this week, it’s back! In recent years the found footage style of horror has been done, pardon me, to death. Whole films have been cobbled together with bits of the fake stuff in service to pretend storylines, delivered to their audiences in tidy packages that often place style over substance. In Scott Derrickson‘s Sinister (this year’s SXSW “secret” screening), the found footage conceit is instead used as a source of information and scares, a clever little bit of storytelling that delivers the creeps with ease. Derrickson’s film (co-written with C. Robert Cargill) centers on Ethan Hawke as a true crime writer who has stumbled on his biggest gig yet – penning a book about the mysterious deaths of four family members, hung from a tree in their own backyard in a ritualistic manner. Not only is the perpetrator of the crime still at large, but a fifth member of the family (the youngest girl) who disappeared after the crime is still missing. Hawke’s Ellison routinely moves his family to new towns that have been struck by some sort of tragedy, tragedies that Ellison investigates and writes about to some apparent acclaim. But it’s been years since Ellison had a hit, and it’s imperative that Ellison’s next book is one, just for simple financial reasons.

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