Gabourey Sidibe

What is Casting Couch? It’s a casting news column that has a theory casting agents are kind of just coasting going into the Thanksgiving holiday. Bryan Cranston. For a long time he was viewed as being an under appreciated character actor, or even “the dad from Malcolm in the Middle,” but these days he’s basically the most universally beloved actor in the business. It’s amazing what cooking meth in your tighty-whities can do for your career. What a coup for the upcoming crime drama, Eye of Winter, then, that it’s landed Cranston as its lead. He’ll be playing a blind criminal who takes a struggling motel owner (Alive Eve) and her daughter hostage so that they can be his eyes while he attempts to retrieve a package from a crooked cop (Logan Marshall Green). Tze Chun (Children of Invention) will direct and has co-written alongside Osgood Perkins and Nick Simon. [Variety]

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Seven Psychopaths

Marty (Colin Farrell) is a screenwriter with a serious case of writer’s block. “Seven Psychopaths” is his latest script, but there’s one big problem with it. The title is all he’s written so far. He needs some inspiration to make his characters and his story come alive, but where is an Irishman with a drinking problem and relationship issues going to find that spark of originality? As with most of life’s questions, the answer here is Sam Rockwell. More precisely, it’s with his good friend Billy (Rockwell). Where Billy goes trouble follows, and that trouble is currently in the form of a pissed-off gangster named Charlie (Woody Harrelson) who’s violently distraught over the loss of his pooch Bonny (Bonny the ShihTzu). It seems Billy’s primary source of income is a scam he runs with his friend Hans (Christopher Walken) involving the dog-napping and subsequent return for reward of wealthy peoples’ pups. Snatching Bonny has opened up a can of murderous worms as Charlie hunts down those responsible and Marty finds himself caught in the blood-spattered middle of it all. On the bright side he’s getting inspiration for all seven of his fictional psychopaths, but none of that will matter if he doesn’t live to finish the screenplay. Seven Psychopaths is exactly the film we should expect from the man who created the wickedly great In Bruges. It’s whip-smart funny, deliriously violent and deceptively heartfelt. And good god does it have the most aggressively awesome ensemble cast of all time.

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Culture Warrior

One of the great misconceptions about Hollywood is that it is a liberal institution. Several false assumptions inform this misconception: thinking of “Hollywood” as a monolithic entity in any way besides its shared corporate infrastructure, confusing public endorsements of celebrity politicians by celebrity movie stars as political activism, thinking that left-leaning consumers of movies see Hollywood as representing their political beliefs in any way, selectively reading a limited number of texts (e.g., Green Zone “proves” Hollywood’s liberalism, but every superhero movie ever isn’t proof of its conservatism), and, most importantly, thinking that the most public figures associated with Hollywood (i.e., stars and filmmakers) are Hollywood. This last point I think is one that has continued to be the least considered when such straw man critiques are drawn, because Hollywood here is equated only with its most visible figures who overshadow its intricate but also not-so-shrouded political economy. It’s no mistake that despite the fluctuating numbers of major and minor Hollywood studios in the past 100 years, the most powerful studios, like the biggest banks in the nation, have been referred to as “The Big Five.” And indeed, to the surprise of no one, both Big Fives have had and are continuing a lucrative relationship with one another. Hollywood’s agenda, of course, has always been profit, and the representatives of this ideology are not George Clooney and Matt Damon, but Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal (Chairman/CEO & Co-Chairman, Sony/Columbia), Stephen Blairson (CEO, 20th Century Fox), Brad Grey (Chairman/CEO, Paramount), Ronald Meyer […]

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Josh Kovacs is, quite simply, outstanding at his job. Back-breaking early hours don’t faze the manager of the chi-chi Tower apartment building, one of the most glitzed-out residences in Manhattan, as he uses that time to beef up his knowledge of fancy cheeses and impressive wines in order to seamlessly recommend them to his high-end clientele. But Josh (Ben Stiller) isn’t just interested in impressing his residents (particularly penthouse owner Arthur Shaw), he’s also equally involved in the lives of his employees. Josh buys the Tower lifestyle hook, line, and sinker – obsessed with keeping his workers at the top of their game so as to provide the best experience for all Tower residents, an experience that will thus ensure longevity in the careers of all those Tower employees. It’s a machine that works, with Josh manning all the gears with a goofy grin on his face. But toss a wrench in that machine, and everything grinds to a halt. Josh’s life works when everyone does their job and does it well – whether that job be operating one of the Tower’s elevators or being a gracious resident. When money man Shaw (Alan Alda) is accused of bilking his clients out of millions of dollars, it stings Josh enough (after all, isn’t Shaw just a Brooklyn boy like Josh?), but when the deeper deception comes to light, Josh’s work ethic and mental stability both go soaring out the metaphorical skyscraper window. Shaw didn’t just play the old financial cup game […]

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The entire setup for the Tower Heist trailer is solid and pretty damned timely. A staff at an incredibly schmancy apartment building are fleeced out of their pensions by the building’s wealthiest schmuck so they decide to rob him. But they’ll need help. Enter the moment the trailer stops dead in its tracks. You know you’re poison when a perfectly harmless action comedy (even one where Ben Stiller and Matthew Broderick try to keep straight faces while Alan Alda tries to be unlikable), becomes a laughingstock just by inserting your image into the trailer. Guess who, movie fans. It’s your favorite comedian turned least favorite comedian and he ruins everything here:

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Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

This year has been a strange one for acting performances. In a big way, the only category to fully reflect the new diversity that the Academy seems to be going for is the Best Actress category in which we see a Southern mom, a famous author’s wife, a young girl finding her purpose, a young girl finding her purpose through intense hardship, and a former spy who wants to take cooking lessons.

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