Frank Langella

Tribeca Film Festival

Some movies do not seem possible. Their very existence is an absurdity of hubris, their production something of a financial miracle. Or, rather, a financial eccentricity. The largest projects are the ones with the most to prove, disastrous flops like the Korean War epic Inchon financed by the Unification Church or that time Richard Burton played Yugoslav president-for-life Josip Broz Tito. Yet there’s a smaller version of this bizarre passion project, fantasies designed not to stroke the egos of cult leaders or dictators but Hollywood moguls. This time around we are in the hands of writer/director Victor Levin, Emmy-award winning co-executive producer of Mad Men and screenwriter of Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! The film is 5 to 7, a romance of almost unfathomably terrible proportions. The hero is Brian (Anton Yelchin), a young man without any sense of his own enormous privilege. Sure, he’s currently a failed writer. He’s also 24 years old, the son of very wealthy New Yorkers who presumably pay for his Manhattan apartment and, as we learn later on in passing, have already put away enough money for law school just in case. He sits at home all day re-writing his short stories and pasting rejection letters from literary magazines to his wall. The film gives him the luxury of near-constant voice over as the story begins, the first sign that Levin is entirely complicit in the narrative excesses that follow. Brian is the most inherently irritating protagonist of the year, but neither he nor his creator has any inkling thereof.

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Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner in DRAFT DAY

It’s NFL draft time, and the Cleveland Browns’ general manager Sonny Weaver (Kevin Costner) is in a tight spot. The pressure is on from the public, the team’s owner (Frank Langella), the coach (Denis Leary) and the rest of the organization to build the best team possible. He manages the unthinkable early on and gets his team the first pick, but it was a panicked move that actually does more harm than good. Now he’s on the clock and running out of time — it’s the ninth inning, he’s in the end zone, and there’s blood on the ice —  oh, and his girlfriend (Jennifer Garner) just told him that she’s pregnant. This is the kind of crazy day that can only fully be captured with split screens. Lots and lots of split screens. Thankfully director Ivan Reitman is happy to oblige. It’s almost as if he just discovered the technology or is trying to win a contest. Draft Day is a poor man’s Moneyball in the sense that the screenwriters probably watched Moneyball at some point and thought to themselves “what if a rogue personality went against the grain to build their, wait for it, football team?” In addition to changing sports though they also swapped statistics and logic for gut instinct and contrivance, replaced character depth with daddy issues and removed any semblance of dramatic suspense by setting the story entirely on one day and off the field.

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MAGF

For Muhammad Ali, one of the most highly publicized fights of his lifetime happened outside of the ring, when, for religious reasons, he declined to enlist in the army during the Vietnam War. As the Stephen Frears film Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight details, the prize fighter’s decision to claim conscientious objector status after being drafted and the legal battles that ensued caused massive public uproar and outrage at Ali’s “audacity.” You know, even though there were definitely white guys claiming CO status, too. The HBO film boasts a stacked cast, including Danny Glover, Frank Langella, Christopher Plummer, Barry Levinson, and Bob Balaban. What is particularly interesting is that rather than casting an Ali, the film solely uses archival footage during his scenes. At least we know his words are exactly as he said them? Check out the trailer for yourself:

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black:farrell

What is Casting Couch? A handy way to keep up with what all of your favorite actors are going to be up to in the coming months and years. Does that make you a stalker? Today we’ve got word on who’s the latest name to join George Clooney in Brad Bird’s mysterious Tomorrowland. Few things in the world are funnier than Jack Black kicking Will Ferrell’s dog off of a bridge, that much is certain. But take the hilarious animal cruelty out of the equation and would these two A-list comedians still be able to produce laughs together? We’re about to find out, because THR is reporting that New Line is putting together a comedy called Tag, which has them attached as co-stars. The basic story of the film comes from a “Wall Street Journal” article about ten classmates from a Washington prep school, now all in their 40s, who get together one month out of the year to play an elaborate game of tag. This conceit, of course, is just the sort of manchild nonsense that these two should be able to knock out of the park, as long as they get a script everyone likes and the thing actually comes together.

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The Best Damn Oscar Blog

The release of Lincoln could not be better timed. The plan must be to get as much of a boost from the presidential election as possible, yet at the same time avoid being cast as part of the political debate, by opening after November 6th. Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner would rather their film be seen as a portrait of a great American hero above contemporary politics, or at least not see it hijacked by 21st century bickering.  They have every right, even though upon closer inspection it might become clear where they stand. However, let’s leave that for later and move on to some Oscar history. Only four men have earned Best Actor nominations for playing US Presidents, with Daniel Day-Lewis now certain to be the fifth. (For context, the Academy has over the years nominated nine Kings of England.) The list contains one other Lincoln, one Woodrow Wilson, and two Richard Nixons. That’s a bit bleak, isn’t it?

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Robot and Frank

Editor’s note: With Robot and Frank hitting limited release this week, here is a re-run of our review from Sundance, originally published on January 22, 2012. If Jake Schreier‘s Robot and Frank is too believed, the near future is very similar to the present – just with more hipsters enamored of things they don’t understand and more robots consigned to help with everyday tasks. Both come, oddly enough, to a head in Schreier’s feature debut about a man, his robot, and the things that bond them (including a distaste for said hipsters). The film is a wily mix of genres - Robot and Frank is a buddy comedy, a fish out of water story, a heist film, and a drama about aging in its many forms – and it mostly delivers on its immense promise when it works within the bounds of dry and clever comedy. But when the film allows itself to slack, it slumps almost irrevocably, and it never quite recovers from an unsatisfying and overemotional middle.

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Technology is meant to make our lives easier – from the brain-crushing minutiae of everyday work to world-changing scientific advancements, the possibilities of technology are endless. And, in Jake Schreier‘s Robot and Frank, those possibilities even include criminal activities. In the director’s first feature, Schreier imagines (thanks to Christopher D. Ford‘s original screenplay) a world where technology has advanced to the point that most homes now have their very own helper robot. The new robot tech is gradually taking over supposedly mindless jobs – inside and outside the home – including serving as nifty companions to the elderly. Salty old Frank (Frank Langella) isn’t too sold on the idea of robots (to put it mildly), so he’s quite put out when his kids (James Marsden and Liv Tyler) provide him with his own robo-helper. While Frank initially balks at the new addition to his home, the pair eventually form a bit of a friendship – which former jewel thief Frank then totally exploits in order to get back in the gem-heisting game. What a nice old man! Check out Langella robbing his neighbors with his robot pal in the first trailer for Robot and Frank after the break.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr hit his head and spent the better part of his time wandering around Berlin looking for January Jones. Soon he unlocked the key to his past and realized he was an alien who is hiding among the people of Earth, hunted by big dudes with tattoos and trench coats. Fortunately, he woke up from this terrifying dream to realize the true nightmare… there’s another Big Momma movie with Martin Lawrence and on-screen son Brandon T. Jackson in fat suits. To quote many a movie: “Noooooooooooo!”

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If someone made a movie that combined The Fugitive, The Game, and Taken, would that pique your interest? Of course it would. And, of course it will. The new trailer for Unknown (which apparently isn’t called Unknown White Male anymore) shows a very confused, very pissed off, very revenge-fueled Liam Neeson as a man whose identity seems to have been stolen. The world that opens up is one of deception and conspiracy, and the coma he was in probably doesn’t add much to his credibility. The bottom line: this trailer is intense and promises a complex film with plenty of asses being kicked.

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Culture Warrior

I was living in New York in September 2008, and took some time a couple of days after the stock market crash to visit way downtown Manhattan and see what was going on. The quietude was shocking, as the alarms being sounded on cable news networks made it sound like I shouldn’t be surprised to see brokers peddling on the street, people running around on fire for no apparent reason, or CEOs segway-ing off of cliffs. As I rarely visited the Financial District, I had no idea whether or not this was normal. Maybe the crash had invoked a necessary meditation or speechlessness, a rare time of reflection for capitalists-run-amok. But the truth was that such panic wouldn’t be visible on the street amongst the common folk (houses around the country owned by low and middle-income families told that story), rather the chaos was happening inside the buildings themselves. Oliver Stone’s latest entry into his “W” trilogy dealing with major 21st century American events (alongside World Trade Center and W.), Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, is an attempt to inquire on the conversations that may have gone on in those buildings.

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thebox-1

Richard Kelly delivers a muddled movie and Cameron Diaz delivers a muddled southern accent.

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kevin-reportcard-header

Kevin Carr takes a look at this week’s movie releases, including A Christmas Carol, The Fourth Kind and The Box.

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WallStreet2FrankLangella

Apparently it’s now called Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, and legendary actor Frank Langella will be joining the cast in a pivotal role.

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the-box-header

Warner Bros. has released the long-anticipated first trailer for the next thriller from Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly this afternoon. And if you don’t like Cameron Diaz, this one’s for you…

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I don’t see the point when every aspect of Frost/Nixon is excellent, from Ron Howard’s direction to Salvatore Totino’s cinematography to Peter Morgan’s stirring screenplay.

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FSR

Kevin Carr looks at Punisher: War Zone, Frost/Nixon and Timecrimes, in theaters this week with the FSR Report Card.

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Fat Guys at the Movies

Kevin and Neil drive a Cadillac through the War Zone and take some shots at David Frost and Richard Nixon. They continue with their proselytizing for the cause of Fatguyenatics and the Church of Fatguyentology, in which they canonize their first patron saint.

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Frank Langella and Michael Sheen in Frost/Nixon

Yesterday we posted, and then were promptly asked to remove the first teaser trailer for Ron Howard’s upcoming film Frost/Nixon. Oddly enough, the official release of the domestic trailer came today.

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Frank Langella and Michael Sheen in Frost/Nixon

If there is one thing that should be abundantly clear at this point, it is that this is an election year.

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If Starting Out in the Evening were much shorter, it would be more easily forgivable.

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