Foxcatcher

Foxcatcher

“Hello, Oscar voters, Channing Tatum here. Yes, hello, it’s nice to speak to you, too. No, I will not be appearing in Step Up: All In. No, no cameo. I swear. I know I’ve done it before, but there was just no time for this one. I am sorry. That’s really nice that you love dance movies, but I am here to talk to you about something else. No, not Matthew McConaughey. Not his Oscar. ALRIGHT ALRIGHT ALRIGHT. Happy? Let’s get to it. My Oscar. No, no, I don’t want to wait until next March. I’d like it now. No, right now. I know Foxcatcher hasn’t even been released yet, but I think that I’ve got a little something for you that might sway your opinion. Here, take a look, then let’s talk about that little gold man.”

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Foxcatcher

Looks like it’s Foxcatcher day around the cinematically-inclined internets, as our own William Goss just recently unveiled a stellar A- review of the film out of Cannes, and now we’re all getting graced with the presence of a brand new teaser for Bennett Miller‘s latest film. Oh, and hey, it’s totally terrifying. Based on the real life story of crazed murderer/overly encouraging wrestling coach John du Pont (and also apparently loosely inspired by star Steve Carell‘s voicework in the Despicable Me films), Miller’s film sees Carell starring as the creepily intense (and also intensely creepy) du Pont, a rich dude with a thing for bringing glory back to America. No, really. Du Pont’s glory-seeking plan involves training Olympic level wrestlers, which sort of sounds like the perfect thing for a crazed rich dude to do. Du Pont’s desires might seem, yes, a bit nutty, but his path to all that glory is kind of smart — he starts a training program for actual athletes (including the Schultz brothers, played by Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo), using his own fortune as financing. Everything seems to be super-excellent, until he loses his tenuous grip on reality. Sound over-the-top? It’s not — it’s deeply unsettling. Ready to be chilled to the bone? Brace yourself for the film’s latest teaser trailer.

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Foxcatcher

“Fame makes a man take things over.” There couldn’t be a much more obvious needle drop for a scene of newly minted champions celebrating over champagne in a well-adorned trophy room, but more than one line from David Bowie’s “Fame” suits the grander themes of the terrific sports drama, Foxcatcher. Landing at the logical crossroads between Moneyball’s quest for sports-minded superiority and Capote’s chilly portrait of the criminal mind, director Bennett Miller’s third narrative feature revisits the eventually tragic real-life involvement of Olympic wrestling champs Mark and Dave Schultz with eccentric millionaire John du Pont. By 1987, 27-year-old Mark (Channing Tatum) had already earned an Olympic gold medal, but as he lectures bored students for a pittance and commits to his umpteenth meal of instant ramen while older brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo) raises a proper family, it’s clear that the glory has faded. Out of the blue comes a call on behalf of Mr. du Pont (Steve Carell), a wealthy ornithologist, philatelist and philosopher eager to sponsor the Schultz brothers if it means bringing the gold home to America once again.

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Steve Carell in Foxcatcher

There’s a little bit of Brick Tamland in every role Steve Carell‘s ever done. Even his dramatic roles (which are less “dramatic” than they are “drama adjacent”) bear the stigma of a man who once pooped a Cornish game hen in the Anchorman blooper bonus footage. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is the poignant story of a man who copes with the certainty of his own grisly death … by visiting a restaurant where a wacky wait staff kisses him and he yells things like a lunatic. Little Miss Sunshine is a touching family film where Carell overcomes his suicidal depression through his love for his niece and nephew. Then he does a wacky dance and yells like a lunatic. I long for the day he can fully emerge from the shadow of “I love lamp.” And that day’s almost here, give or take a few months. On November 14th, Foxcatcher will open in theaters across the country. It was originally scheduled for last December, but that was before Sony Pictures Classics decided the movie had more of a “2014″ ring to it than a “2013″ (makes sense — 2013 is so last year). It stars Carell as John du Pont, the real-life chemical heir who befriended Olympic wrestler siblings Mark and Dave Schultz, only to grow mentally unstable and kill the latter in cold blood. The film also stars Channing Tatum as the Tatum-esque Mark, and Mark Ruffalo as bald and bearded Dave. The first clip from the film, released via Yahoo Movies, has no Ruffalo,  […]

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hope springs steve carell

Despicable Me 2 has earned close to $1 billion worldwide, and I’m guessing that means Steve Carell can do anything he wants, career-wise. Especially since Universal will want him back for the already announced third outing. So, even if his more serious endeavors don’t add up nearly as high as his animated or comedy work, if that’s what he prefers then that’s what he’s got the freedom to do. The Hollywood Reporter has his next dramatic role already picked out, with Carell set to produce and star in an adaptation of the new memoir The Priority List: A Teacher’s Final Quest to Discover Life’s Greatest Lessons. He’ll play its author, inspiring cancer-stricken school teacher David Menasche, who is going on eight years since being told he had only months to live. The story goes that Menasche was diagnosed in 2006 with a lemon-size brain tumor. Let the realization of how big a lemon is sink in for a moment. In spite of his terminal sentence, surgery and chemotherapy kept him alive and even working for another six years until he suffered a seizure in 2012 that damaged his vision, memory and more. He left teaching and traveled the country on a mission he called his Vision Quest, reconnecting with former students in order to fill in things he was beginning to forget about what he meant to them. The plan was not to just write a book but also produce a documentary with footage he filmed along the way. It’s unclear […]

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Monuments Men

Hollywood has a favorite sport, one that comes complete with odds and bets and even occasional physical contact, though it’s not one that requires a ball or a uniform or actual rules – it’s Oscar prognostication, and it’s out of control. Every year, awards season wonks start crafting lists of possible contenders and winners still earlier and earlier. Many of this year’s safest bets (if there can be such a thing) have yet to even hit theaters or screen beyond film festivals, but plenty of journalists, bloggers, and writers who focus their attentions on awards season have already gotten to work on their lists for 2014. It must be noted – many of the films apparently bound of Oscar glory haven’t been completed yet, some of them haven’t even started filming, and yet they are already the subject of career-making guesswork. The last few weeks have seen a surprising number of “surefire” awards season contenders drop out of this year’s race, simply by moving their release dates from late 2013 (prime awards season) to various times in 2014 (obviously, a film cannot be eligible for 2013 awards if it opens in 2014). George Clooney’s The Monuments Men is the latest to join a long line of films, much like Foxcatcher, The Immigrant, Grace of Monaco, and (for awhile there at least) Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street.

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foxcatcher-09

Steve Carell teetered over to the dramatic side of things in Little Miss Sunshine, but Foxcatcher will be the film to truly stretch his acting abilities. Based on real-life events, Foxcatcher sees Carell as Jon du Pont, the multimillionaire chemical heir who built a wrestling facility at his home in Foxcatcher Farm, where he later shot and killed Olympic wrestler David Schultz. Mark Ruffalo will portray Schultz, while Channing Tatum will play the role of his brother, fellow Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz So far, Carell has only ventured into a handful of dramedies, and never a full-fledged drama, so portraying a schizophrenic killer does seem like it may be a little out of his league. But at least the actor is in good hands. Bennett Miller, the man at Foxcatcher‘s helm, drove comedian Jonah Hill to an Academy Award nomination in his last feature, Moneyball (technically Hill had already tasted serious drama in Cyrus the year before, but never mind that). Entertainment Weekly has just debuted a still of Carell made up like du Pont, complete with a fake nose and an unhealthy-looking glower. This first image does make Carell’s menace seem genuine. Still, I can’t help but wonder – when du Pont ratchets up the crazy, will we see Carell embody his madness, or will we see Carell wearing a fake nose and falling back towards a Brick Tamland-like yelling spree? Hopefully it’s the former. Foxcatcher releases on December 20th.

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Anthony Michael Hall

Director Bennett Miller‘s upcoming passion project, Foxcatcher, continues to add solid talent of the most unexpected variety. Next up, Anthony Michael Hall, everyone’s favorite ’80s movie brain (and some people’s favorite Rusty Griswold, though those people are wrong). Variety reports that Hall will play Steve Carell‘s character’s assistant in the stunning true crime tale. The film tells the true story of John du Pont (Carell), the heir to the du Pont fortune who, as a huge supporter of amateur sports and USA Wrestling in particular, built a wrestling facility, called Team Foxcatcher, on his Pennsylvania estate. But du Pont was also a paranoid schizophrenic who believed that there was an international conspiracy in place to kill him – a conspiracy that he believed his long-time friend, Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) was a part of. That belief led du Pont to shoot and kill Schultz in 1996, in front of both Schultz’s wife and du Pont’s head of security. After the shooting, du Pont barricaded himself in his mansion for two days while negotiating with the police. Sienna Miller also recently joined the cast as Schultz’s wife, and Channing Tatum is set to play his younger brother, Mark, also an Olympic wrestler. Production is finally set to kick off on the film later this month in Pittsburgh. Frankly, we can’t wait.

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Sienna Miller

Director Bennett Miller‘s passion project follow-up to his smash hit Moneyball continues to take shape with the protracted roll-out of his final casting decisions. Deadline Hollywood reports that Sienna Miller is now set to play Nancy Schultz in Foxcatcher, based on the wrenching and bizarre story of the murder of Olympic wrestler (and Nancy’s husband) Dave Schultz. Mark Ruffalo has been attached to the Schultz role since April, along with the rest of an impressive cast that also includes Steve Carell and Channing Tatum. Miller has been trying to get the film made for years, so it’s heartening that he’s finally been able to compile such a talented line-up to tell the tale of the tragically murdered Schultz. And what a tale it is.

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You hear that? That’s the sound of everyone in Hollywood sitting up and finally taking notice of the absurdly talented Mark Ruffalo. While the actor has turned in a series of accomplished roles (including You Can Count on Me, Zodiac, The Brothers Bloom, and The Kids Are All Right) over the years, he’s never quite vaulted into big-name, big-award territory. Until now. Though his casting as Bruce Banner/The Hulk in Joss Whedon’s upcoming The Avengers was an unexpected choice, Ruffalo’s work in the film is outstanding (I can vouch for that, having seen the film last week), and fans will be very pleased with his take on both Bruce and “the other guy.” To that end, Variety reports that Ruffalo has landed his first post-Avengers role, and it’s one that may make an Oscar winner out of him yet. Ruffalo has now joined the cast of Bennett Miller’s long-gestating true crime story, Foxcatcher. Miller has been trying to get the film made for years, and Steve Carell and Channing Tatum have both been set to star for months now, but the casting of Ruffalo has proven to be especially important – as it will be Ruffalo who takes the co-leading role, not Tatum, as once reported.

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