Forest Whitaker

Film Title:  Out of the Furnace

Editor’s note: Our review of Out of the Furnace originally ran during this year’s AFI Fest, but we’re re-posting it now as the film opens in theatrical release. Sometimes it seems like the future is rapidly approaching, with more and more information being digitally consumed and smartphones attached to the palm of almost everyone’s hand, but there are still places that are untouched by time, where family and community are paramount. It may seem like a simpler life, but Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace shows just how difficult life in an industrial community on the decline can be. Russell (Christian Bale) and Rodney Baze (Casey Affleck) are two brothers trying to carve out fulfilling lives for themselves in the wake of hard times and the deteriorating health of their father. Russell is a good man who seems content to work hard for his family and his girlfriend Lena (Zoe Saldana), but Rodney is more of a loose canon. As a solider recently called back for another tour overseas, the younger Baze brother is wrestling with some serious demons.

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Cate Blanchett NY Times clip (Screengrab)

The experiment seems healthy enough. Take 10 incredible performers from 2013, get random lines of dialogue from 10 other creatives, snag some shoot time with Janusz Kaminski and deliver something poetic for the end of the year. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the results of The New York Times Magazine “Making a Scene” project are an eyebrow-stretching blend of unintentional hilariousness and forced high art importance. Make no mistake, Kaminski knows how to shoot. We’ve known that since (at least) Schindler’s List, and a reminder is always welcomed, but it’s disheartening to see so much talent utilized in the pursuit of whatever is going on here. In one scene Cate Blanchett sits down to a delicious fish in a pristine setting, utters a line provided by mumblecore maven Andrew Bujalski, then throws herself back against the bench with Norma Desmond-esque gusto. In another, Bradley Cooper rage dances in a puddle. Thanks to Greta Gerwig and Adele Exarchopoulos there are two (two!) shorts where women act manically before saying something idiosyncratic and losing control. Bonus points go to Gerwig for saying her dialogue to a taxidermied bear.

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Repentance offers a golden opportunity to everyone who’s already seen Misery, but would like to see it again with Forest Whitaker instead of Kathy Bates. Sure, there may be a couple other slight alterations too. Anthony Mackie‘s writer protagonist deals in self-help books, not novels. Whitaker breaks the agreed-upon rules of “kidnapping your favorite author to magically fix all your problems” by throwing in a couple of extra kidnappings down the line (totally not cool). And there’s also a scary ghost mom that may or may not be a hallucination. But the idea’s the same: fan loves author, fan kidnaps author, fan tortures author in ways relating to author’s most popular book. Go ahead and check out the trailer below.

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trailer zulu

Forest Whitaker may still be riding high from the success of his performance in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, but it looks like he’s getting the chance to add another film to the  gruffer side of his resume with Jérôme Salle‘s Zulu. In the French-subtitled (and NSFW) trailer, Whitaker and Orlando Bloom play homicide detectives in Cape Town, South Africa, where the duo deals with combating crime in a city still reeling from the after effects of apartheid. But they quickly discover the worst criminals of all are the government itself, which is working on building a chemical “race bomb,” designed to detonate and prevent an increase in the black population. The trailer contains a whole lot of gun slinging and  swearing, set to a powerful Alexandre Desplat (Zero Dark Thirty) score.  Check out the trailer for yourself:

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The Butler

Lee Daniels finally goes full historical drama with his Forest Whitaker-starring bid for awards season glory, The Butler (or, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, depending on how sensitive you are to technicalities). Based on the real life story of White House butler Eugene Allen, who worked for eight U.S. presidents between the years 1952 and 1986, Daniels and screenwriter Danny Strong have retrofitted Allen’s compelling story to suit their own aims (changing the name of the Allen character to “Cecil Gaines” is the least egregious modification to the story, and even that one feels strange). Less a story about one man and his experiences in a changing White House (and a changing world), The Butler is mostly a domestic drama told in the vein of Forrest Gump about a man who just happens to work in the White House, with much of history hitting him outside the confines of his unique job. Despite Gaines’ (or Allen’s, again depending on how sensitive you are to technicalities) incredibly interesting career path (from Southern slave to hotel employee to highest ranking butler in the White House), most of The Butler is focused on the family squabbles that play out between the apolitical Cecil and his oldest son Louis (played mostly by the wonderful David Oyelowo), who becomes a civil rights crusader in the most Forrest Gump way possible (you name a major event in the civil rights movement, and Louis is there, usually on television too, just for good measure). The film’s very subject […]

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Milla Jovovich stars in Screen Gems

What is Casting Couch? It’s casting news the way you like it: short and to the point. Today Paul Thomas Anderson has decided who he wants as the female lead of his next project, Inherent Vice. Read on to find out who he chose. You can’t make a new Expendables movie without rounding up a new crop of old action stars to join the dream team, otherwise you’d just be making a dumb movie about a bunch of people who have already teamed up, and who wants to dream about that? So, who’s going to be joining Sylvester Stallone’s crew of gun-toting retirees for The Expendables 3? Over the past few months we’ve heard rumors that names like Wesley Snipes, Jackie Chan, and Nicolas Cage were being sought after, and a new report from The Wrap confirms that they are all indeed negotiating to join the film, along with Resident Evil veteran Milla Jovovich, who isn’t quite as old as everyone else in the crew, but who probably gets a pass because she’s a chick. Clearly only men are allowed to look old on camera, so any ladies from the 80s are out.

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last stand 23

You probably missed Arnold Schwarzenegger’s comeback. Most people did. The Last Stand was supposed to be the former Governor’s mighty return to movies, but instead it grossed a paltry $12 million domestically and now marks Schwarzenegger’s lowest grossing movie ever (factoring inflation). It’s a shame, because those who (really should) take the opportunity to give The Last Stand the second chance it deserves on video will discover that it’s not just an enjoyable burst of Golden Age action cinema filmmaking, but a meta narrative that makes it far more intriguing than it appears. Most comeback movies dutifully pander to fans’ nostalgic expectations by just giving them more of what ain’t broke. Exhibit A: The Expendables series, which recreates for its actors (including Schwarzenegger) the roles they’ve always inhabited while exhibiting an “Oorah! We still got it!” enthusiasm about bringing back its aging heroes. The Last Stand, however, isn’t interested in simply rebooting its star into his old plot and character archetypes. Instead, it offers Schwarzenegger a comeback movie with a character — Sheriff Ray Owens — with a comeback narrative of his own. What’s more, because it biographically grafts Ray to Arnold, The Last Stand turns its fictional character’s journey from former to restored hero into one that parallels the very re-ascension Schwarzenegger is undergoing with this film.

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The Butler

When Lee Daniels signed on to direct The Butler, it was unclear how Wil Haygood’s “Washington Post” article would be converted into cinematic storytelling. There was a lot of room for maneuvering. Although deft and interesting, there are about a dozen different tones that could emerge from the profile of White House butler Eugene Allen — who served eight presidents from Truman to Reagan and is played here by Forest Whitaker. Judging from the trailer, Daniels and screenwriter Danny Strong swung for the fences. It’ll be fascinating to see how they’ve packed so many trenchant, racially-charged years of American history into an intimately human story. Allen was born in 1919 and would live to see Barack Obama elected president. That’s not merely a lot of time to cover; considering the loaded symbolism, the people who sat behind the Resolute desk while Allen was stacking champagne, and his rich personal struggle with the paperwork behind shuffled on Capitol Hill, Daniels and the production have their work cut out for them here. Of course there’s also John Cusack, whose face looks like its about to explode playing Richard Nixon. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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The Last Stand

When The Last Stand hits theaters in a few months it will finally put an answer to two congruent question marks. One, can Arnold Schwarzenegger still carry an action film? And B, can Kim Ji-woon manage the same level of quality with his American debut that he’s enjoyed with his Korean films? The first teaser for the film gave us little to judge (aside from too much of co-star Johnny Knoxville), but now a true trailer has debuted. It fleshes out the supporting cast to include Forest Whitaker, Peter Stormare, Luis Guzman and Jaimie Alexander (who was kind enough to bring along the tiny town from Thor), but the story remains similarly simplistic. A high-profile prisoner escapes federal custody and makes for the Mexican border in a souped-up sports car and protected by a small army of thugs. The only thing standing between him and freedom? A small-town sheriff, his ill-equipped deputies and the guy who pretended to be mentally handicapped from The Ringer. Check out the full trailer below.

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Today in trailers that make little to no sense – Aaron Harvey‘s Catch .44! Big bossman Neil told us a smidgen about this film back in July of last year, when cast additions Nikki Reed and Deborah Ann Woll were announced – and while that piece of news sold the film as a lady assassin flick, there’s not much of that to be seen in this first trailer for the film. Leading lady Malin Akerman is indeed front and center, but she looks like less an accomplished assassin (with an equally as talented and attractive crew backing her) and more like a pretty gal trying to make a quick buck with a big gun. But, hey, Bruce Willis is there doing an older Dov Charney impersonation, along with Forest Whitaker having a whole bunch of fun experimenting with some truly bad accents. Guns! Drugs! A secluded diner! Confusion and hijinks! After the break, try to make heads or tails of the first trailer for Catch .44.

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Jee-Woon Kim’s Arnold Schwarzenegger-starring story about a western sheriff running afoul of a Mexican drug cartel leader seems to be getting closer to shooting, because a bunch of names have been added to the cast list. We already found out that Friday Night Lights star Zach Gilford would be joining the cast as Schwarzenegger’s young deputy, but now a whole host of pretty diverse, kind of interesting actors have been added to support that duo. The biggest of the new names on the Lionsgate cast list are probably Forest Whitaker and Johnny Knoxville; one man who is famous for acting in a bunch of movies over the last three decades and another for getting hit in his balls a lot. Okay, that’s not fair, Knoxville has been fine in the few films I’ve seen him in, and I’m sure he’ll be fine with whatever they give him here. And Whitaker is always at least interesting to watch, even when he goes super hammy. But that’s a weird couple of actors to pair with Schwarzenegger if you ask me. I’d probably feel more comfortable with the choices if I knew what kind of characters they were playing. Whitaker and Knoxville aren’t the only new names though, a handful of less famous but still notable actors have been added as well. Let’s run through them: there’s Jaimie Alexander, Luis Guzman, Harry Dean Stanton, and Eduardo Noriega. Jaimie Alexander I’ve only seen in her small role in Thor, but she was playing a […]

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Junkfood Cinema

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema: we’re on a mission from God. And that mission is to bring you a weekly catalogue of the best of the worst that cinema has to offer you. Broadcasting live from the free Wi-Fi signal we picked up sitting behind that McDonald’s, each week we pick a deliciously awful film and tear it apart piece by piece. But then we remember how much we actually love it, and try, futilely, to convince you why. We’ll top it off with a tasty treat for you to enjoy while watching that will go with the film like peanut butter and ketchup. So grab a spork and let’s get started! This week’s treat? Bloodsport! Bricks not hit back this time!

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In what is perhaps the most shocking and unexpected TV news of the day, Deadline Oxford is reporting that House M.D. star Lisa Edelstein (Cuddy) will not return to the show next season. Supporting cast members Omar Epps (Foreman) and Robert Sean Leonard (Wilson) both renewed their contracts this month to return for the eighth (and what is most likely going to be final) season. Edelstein was the only remaining cast member still in the negotiation process and has apparently decided not to return. There is no word on how her character will be written out of the show or if she will appear for the premiere of season eight to conclude her character’s story line. But the silver lining is that the news will most likely soften the blow of recent CBS show cancellation, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior. A spin-off starring Forest Whitaker to CBS’s hit procedural Criminal Minds was never really that good and the ratings were a testament to the fact that the series truly felt like a cash grab. It also didn’t help that unlike many of CBS’s spin-off series, this one had nothing new to offer to the franchise, not even a city. It was nothing more than another (and inferior) BAU unit going around the country to stop serial killers.

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The new trailer for The Experiment promises to eat the weak or at least release some battery acid into your bloodstream with tension and social commentary. History and Psychology buffs will recognize the story as The Stanford Prison Experiment which saw volunteers divided into two groups to see how normal people would respond when given power over others or seeing their rights taken away. Such a fantastic premise for a film – and adding Academy favorites Adrien Brody and Forest Whitaker to the bill is a masterstroke – so why is it going straight to DVD again?

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kevin-reportcard-header

Kevin Carr sits his chubbiness down weighs in on The Bounty Hunter, Repo Men and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

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Repo Men

Jude Law and Forest Whitaker star as Remy and Jake the repo men, who have been both buddies and rivals since the fourth grade. Their corporate hack boss (Liev Schreiber) sends them on missions to retrieve the unpaid for organs of everyone from wealthy businessmen to hotshot musical artists to your everyday overweight schlubs. The men might believe they’re engaged in a respectable pursuit, but they are in fact angels of death forced to reclaim company property by any means necessary.

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At first, the new red band teaser for Repo Men, a futuristic action film starring Jude Law and Forest Whitaker, seems like a tired old girl. That is, until she busts loose with bloody intensity.

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wtwta-review1

Where the Wild Things Are is beautiful, successful in its task, and moving. But you might not like it. It’s darker than it is whimsical, sadder than it is sweet.

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wild-things-new-1

At this point we can’t even wrap our minds around the concept of not being excited about Spike Jonze’s adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. Therefore, we are super jazzed over these new photos.

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50cent-1

The awesome, exciting, and truly interesting casting news coming out of Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables had to come to an end sometime.

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