Gemma Arterton

review runner runner

Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) was a Wall Street hot-shot once upon a time, but when the economy tanked so did his job. Now he’s forced to attend Princeton on his own dime which is an untenable situation as he only has 170,000 dimes to his name. He lights upon the genius idea of gambling his $17k into enough to cover tuition on an online poker site called Midnight Black, but while he’s a financial whiz and a Texas Hold’em master he’s shocked when he loses it all to another player. Suspecting foul play he has the data analyzed, and sure enough, he’s been cheated. So he packs his bags and flies off to the absolutely and completely corrupt nation of Costa Rica where Midnight Black’s CEO, Ivan Block (Ben Affleck), resides outside of the United States’ jurisdiction. Furst finagles some face time, shares his accusation of the site’s malfeasance, and is promptly offered a job with the company. What job? Not important. All of his financial dreams are coming true, but the whole endeavor is threatened by the love of a bad woman (Gemma Arterton), the faults of a weak father (John Heard), and the actual threats of a rogue F.B.I. agent named Shavers (Anthony Mackie). Also, crocodiles. Runner Runner is a movie made by people who’ve seen other movies and thought to themselves, yeah, I can do that. It manages to be both convoluted and simplistic, busy and ultimately empty, and it does it all with expository narration that […]

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Runner Runner

Before he dons the Batman costume and endures the rage of thousands of confused and disgruntled fans who are outraged they weren’t consulted about a studio’s casting choice, Ben Affleck will be playing a different kind of billionaire. In Brad Furman‘s Runner Runner, Affleck is the head of an online poker company that is apparently located on the world’s most ominous tropical island. Here, he meets with average not-30-year-old college student Justin Timberlake, who has decided that gambling via online poker would be the smartest way to pay off his student loans. When that plan goes sour and he loses all of his money instead, he flies to Spooky Island to meet with Affleck. Check out the clip below:

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byzantium

From The Company of Wolves to Interview with a Vampire, director Neil Jordan has made some of the most entertaining, if modest, melodramatic treasures of the horror genre. There is a certain moodiness he brings to these worlds, especially if there’s fangs involved, that leads to a unique canvas that’s easy to lose one’s self in, flaws and all. That remains the case for his latest vampire picture, Byzantium, an intimate and yet occasionally grand picture. Jordan milks every gorgeous location at his disposal to tell Clara’s (Gemma Arterton) story. Clara, who grew up during in the Napoleonic Wars, has adjusted easily to her vampire lifestyle, although she’s still trying to figure out how to be a good mother to her unsatisfied daughter, Eleanor (Saorise Ronan). The two have lived as wanderering loners together, never staying in one place for too long. There’s a reason why: vampirism is a brotherhood, making Clara and Eleanor outcasts in the boys club. When Clara turned, she was rejected by her fellow vampires, forcing her to get by on her own. Cutting to modern day, an unknown vampire shows up to chase Clara down, causing her and Eleanor to once again pack up and start a new life. With the help of a bumbling hotel owner, Clara convinces him to allow her and her daughter to stick around in his dwindling family business. Clara, a stripper/prostitute, turns the man’s dying motel into a brothel. For a small portion of the film, Byzantium becomes the Risky Business […]

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Unfinished Song 2

Ah, movies about elderly British people. There has been somewhat of a groundswell of these movies over the years, with Quartet, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Ladies in Lavender and Calendar Girls. Typically, they feature Maggie Smith or Helen Mirren and show that, yes, while the Brits are thought to be stuffy, they are really crazy and fun! They also take old age by the balls by doing fun activities like posing nude or going on a wild vacay – probably with a life lesson learned along the way. Paul Andrew Williams’s Unfinished Song is yet another film falling into this “elderly British” bracket. And like the others, it features a group of oldsters doing a wacky activity and learning life lessons. It’s a syrupy yet pleasant film. Hardly the makings of a classic – there are many uncomfortable “senior-sploitation” moments and some format issues – the film rises above with good performances from its leads.

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byzantium

If you’re anywhere near being a vampire fanatic, then chances are pretty good you know who Neil Jordan is, because he’s the guy who directed Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in the adaptation of Anne Rice’s famous vampire story Interview with the Vampire. Well, it turns out Jordan must have developed a taste for those who have a taste for human blood, because his latest film, Byzantium, is also about undead bloodsuckers. Perhaps even more important than what it’s about though is the fact that Byzantium is a gorgeously shot epic that stars Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton. This is important because Ronan is clearly one of the strongest young actors working, and Arterton could possibly be as well, although I’ve only seen her in mostly terrible movies, but she sure is pretty though, and, oh—just go watch the trailer. It’s got vampires that kill people with coke nails.

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Byzantium

Vampire movies are about sex. This has become practically a rule, and that’s totally okay. I have no problem with Taylor Lautner winning Best Shirtless Performance at the MTV Movie Awards. But if you’re going to make a movie with irrepressibly erotic vampires, you should figure out why you’re doing it. The problem with Neil Jordan’s Byzantium is that it so drips with sex it loses purpose. It has elements of every recent incarnation of the genre, moments of horror and action and myth-making, but in the end it’s more of a bland vampiric soup than anything with real bite. Saoirse Ronan is Eleanor, two centuries old but trapped forever in her teenage years. She feeds only on those ready to die, which typically means the silent and fading elderly. She writes of her life but then tears up the pages, knowing that no one can ever know who she truly is. This secrecy is under the rule of Clara (Gemma Arterton), a woman the world knows as her sister but who we can easily see is her mother. “My savior, my burden, my muse,” Eleanor writers of Clara, whose torrential personality and dangerous profession only exacerbate their tense relationship.

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hansel and gretel witch hunters 04

The other day I received an email from a reader who is quite familiar with Tommy Wirkola’s background. He tells me that, while at film school, the director pitched something with the title “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” and received the following response from a professor: “never mention it again before you’re standing in front of Hollywood executives.” Even if the story is embellished at all (our reader says it was in the Norwegian press), it’s a perfect prologue for the fairy tale-like fantasy of the film industry and a harsh set up for the sad truth about million-dollar ideas. Wirkola did wind up in Hollywood and has made a feature called Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Of course he did, because it’s the sort of title that goes a long way in the business. The only pitch necessary is in those four words — we have well-known characters and a simple premise all spelled out right there. But just because it’s a genuinely clever concept and, more importantly, an easily sellable product, that doesn’t make it a movie worth seeing. Wirkola never gives us anything more creative than those four words, unfortunately, and even worse, he directs his unimaginative script with so little care and spirit that you’d think he hadn’t been sitting on this project for so many years.

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Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

While we may often joke about the provenance of many films that Hollywood churns out, truth be told, there are few projects that leave me scratching my head as much as Tommy Wirkola‘s Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. Surely, someone, somewhere, was itching for this tale of grown-up fairy tale kids turned bounty hunters, but I can’t rightly decide who the hell would conceive of such a thing. Yes, yes, of course Wirkola and co-screenwriter Dante Harper had the idea first, but the whole thing sounds like such a ludicrous pitch that it’s boggling that they weren’t laughed out of the room. It’s Hansel. And Gretel. Grown-up. As bounty hunters. And it sort of looks like 300. Sure? However the hell this thing got the screen, the film is finally being released later this month, so let’s all ponder its origins with a new red band trailer that, at this point, seems pretty tame.

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Benedict Cumberbatch

What is Casting Couch? Today it’s a casting column that’s debunking a couple of rumors that will probably come true anyway. Absolutely Anything is a project that’s long been on comedy nerds’ radars, not only because it’s being directed by Monty Python member Terry Jones, but also because the film will see Jones re-teaming with the other members of his legendary comedy troupe to do voiceover work. According to The Wrap, filming is looking to get underway on this one soon, Gemma Arterton has joined the cast, and Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) is currently negotiating to come on board, as well. The story is about a bumbling but magical school teacher, something that Cumberbatch would likely knock out of the park; which is one more positive that will help you forget Robin Williams is also going to be doing his voiceover thing here.

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Hansel and Gretel

The new red band trailer for Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, starring the dynamic duo of Jeremy Renner (The Avengers) and Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace) as the old Grimm’s tale grown up, is a little bit rock and roll. The 3D action film from Dead Snow director Tommy Wirkola and producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay (no, seriously) appears to sport plenty of blood, a number of snide remarks and a buffet of creative deaths for witch kind, not the least of which is burning at the stake. Because that’s what happens to witches, kids…

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Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

Everybody has heard the old fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel. It’s a story about two little German children, a cannibal witch with a taste for tender flesh, a ginger bread house, and a blazing hot industrial oven. One question most people probably have never asked, however, is what happens after the story ends. Well director/co-writer of Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow), did ask that question, and what he decided is that those little scamps probably “got a taste for witch blood” and grew up to be leather-clad badasses who hunt down witches with their extensive knowledge of kung fu and never-ending arsenal of futuristic firepower.

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Oh, come on now, you didn’t think that Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake would star in a movie together and there wouldn’t be hot ladies around, did you? The pair signed on for Brad Furman‘s Runner Runner in April and, back then, we only knew that it would focus on online gambling and that Timberlake would be the right-hand man to boss guy Affleck. Now we have a fuller picture of the film, including just how Timberlake gets tossed into this particular shark tank and who might help pull him out. Gemma Arterton has been cast in the film, in a role that Variety can only divulge as being “Timberlake’s love interest.” Let’s hope that she can get him away from Affleck, who sounds like he’ll be playing a real sleaze. The outlet also reports that the Timberlake will play “a Princeton student cheated out of his tuition money playing online poker who ends up the right-hand man of the site’s corrupt boss (Affleck).” Geez, bad decisions all around on that one.

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Did you ever wonder what might have happened to fairy tale characters Hansel and Gretel 15 years after that fateful day when they pushed a witch into an oven? No, neither did I. But director Tommy Wirkola and his co-screenwriter Dante Harper did, so now we’re getting the new action film Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as the titular duo. That’s a ridiculous idea, so scoff if you must, but I’m starting to think this movie might actually do pretty well. We’ve already written about how awesome it is that Peter Stormare is set to play the villain of this piece, and now Entertainment Weekly has revealed the first official image from the film, which has Renner and Arterton all butched up in black leather with big guns (check out the full photo after the break), and they’re throwing around buzz words like “dark” and “violent” in the accompanying interview. All the talk of darkness and grittiness isn’t just casual though, it’s hammered home in a way that suggests they’ve been instructed by the studio to push how decidedly not for kids this movie is going to be. Arterton told EW, “You see a series of flashbacks with their experience of killing that first witch, which is brilliant. I remember being on set for the final few days of that. The candy house, and the witches are really repulsive and quite frightening. The make-up is out of this world. It’s this bone-chilling scene. Very […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? First of all, POP POP! And now a few words about this column: it’s about movie news, but sometimes it serves as its author’s treasure trove of addictions. Such as his addiction to hanging on the words of Dan Harmon, or his need to regale you with his ability to find the best content on other websites. It’s a unique talent, he’s told. And now, something completely different… This week saw the season finale of Community. I will miss it until it comes back. For now, I would urge you to read this fantastic interview with creator Dan Harmon published by Vulture. There’s a reason the show is so delightfully nerdy, and it might just be the man in charge.

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Hey, you. Yes, you. No, not that person behind you who seems curiously intent on strangling you with a stand of fishing line. You. I’m guessing you are here because you want to know what’s going on in the world of movies? And chances are you’ve had about enough of the “Film School Rejects attitude” seen in other, more wordy editorials. I’m here to rescue you and give you only the news that you crave as we both stare up at the moon together. And just as you realize that the guy behind you was, in fact, killing you this whole time, you are also going to realize something else: I’m delivering the news with attitude, as well. What can I say, it’s late…

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If you were a fan of Clash of the Titans, then you saw it in 2D. Well played. This next go ’round, it looks like monster heads will be ripped off and people will accidentally make love with cows that are Gods in disguise after a healthy amount of post-production time to focus on making the CGI better. Wrath of the Titans will start filming in the Spring of 2011 for a March 2012 release, and it’s confirmed that Jonathan Liebesman will shoot in native 3D since there’s almost no reason not to do so. It seems like a no-brainer. Which is also the fighting move Perseus did to Medusa. Sam Worthington, Gemma Arterton, Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes are all back in the mix. All in all, those are the ingredients for at least a passable sequel. Fingers crossed. [Coming Soon]

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Say what you will about the Men in Black franchise, but don’t say that they can’t get talent involved. In addition to the already cast Will Smith, Flight of the Conchords star Jemaine Clement and Josh Brolin (who, after seeing Jonah Hex, may sign on to any project that offers him a free meal) for Men in Black 3, reports are now coming in saying that former Bond girl Gemma Arterton, microwave executive Alec Baldwin and silly South African Sharlto Copley are in talks to join the cast. According to Pajiba, Copley would play a “fast-talking Yoda type alien,” Baldwin would play the head of MIB in 1969, and Arterton would play is undoubtedly tortured, but tight-skirted secretary. Shooting is scheduled to begin in November.

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Gemma Arterton was born the same year that Aliens was released, meaning she was -7 years old when the first Alien was brilliantly unleashed unto the world. That’s not a slight against her (especially since she couldn’t have controlled when she was born), but it’s an interesting fact in light of her going to meet with Ridley Scott about possibly acting in his new prequel endeavor for the franchise. The young actor told the Sunday Times, “Ridley Scott saw Alice Creed and loved it. He wants me to meet for Aliens: The Remake, or something.” Clearly, if she can figure out what the film is, she might be acting in it. [The Playlist]

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The opening of The Disappearance Of Alice Creed is a fantastic how-to guide on planning, preparing for, and executing the abduction of a human being. So be sure to pay attention and take detailed notes. Two men walk silently through a store picking out items for the day ahead… a drill, rolls of duct tape, a ball gag… just the essentials. We see them next applying skills they picked up in shop class to secure and soundproof a van and a bedroom. (I’m pretty sure the latter was featured on an episode of the TLC show, Trading Spaces.) Remodeling complete, they dress in identical uniforms, drive out in to the world, and return with a writhing and whimpering woman with a hood over her head. They arrive at the dimly lit bedroom, and without uttering a single word to each other or to their wiggling prize they shackle her to the bedposts, remove all of her clothing, take some pictures, dress her in sweats, and leave her in a dark and locked room. Her name is Alice Creed. And before her ordeal is over secrets will be revealed, relationships will be shattered, and everyone’s will to survive will be tested.

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Alice Creed

Trailers are so 2009. Welcome to the future of film marketing as Anchor Bay releases the first five minutes of The Disappearance of Alice Creed onto the interwebs! Yeah, I know it’s not the first film to market itself this way (hell, Wolverine upped the ante by releasing the entire film in advance), but it’s still an interesting move. Doubly so in this case as the lead actress is nowhere to be seen…

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