Helen Mirren

The Hundred-Foot Journey

A politician with half a face once said, “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” It was Harvey Dent, and it was in a movie, and he may not have been the eventual villain he feared himself to be (getting pushed off a ledge by Batman can put a real pin in any future plans) but the guy knew what he was talking about. This summer has had a villain problem, at least when it comes to presenting us with villains who are genuinely fearsome: both worthy of inspiring fear and capable of inspiring that same fear. We’ve got a lot of heroes, but the villain business is in serious need of some fresh blood. Matt Singer at The Dissolve effectively laid out why Thanos is not working for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (short version: he’s boring and hasn’t done anything truly menacing yet), and both of this summer’s great (truly great) monster movies, Godzilla and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, didn’t go whole hog on the “bad guy” thing (the apes of DOTPOTA were reasonable, Godzilla just seemed grumpy and was eventually lauded as a hero). Do you even remember who we were supposed to be afraid of in The Purge: Anarchy? (Answer: human nature.) Who was the big bad in Transformers or X-Men: Days of Future Past? Was there even a bad guy in The Amazing Spider-Man 2? Where are this summer’s truly terrifying villains? Well, there’s one – and she’s in […]

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The Hundred-Foot Journey

In the middle of a busy Indian marketplace, a young boy steals a taste of a coveted sea urchin. The way he closes his eyes and tastes the flavor shows us (and the urchin’s vendor) that he is more than just a curious boy – he understands and appreciates food. From its opening scene, The Hundred-Foot Journey is driven by its stomach, and director Lassee Hallström brings audiences as close to the amazing food featured on screen as he can without letting you taste it yourself. Unfortunately the narrative loses momentum when it shifts its focus away from the plate (and those filling it).

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stamp

What is Casting Couch? It’s the daily column that’s back with the first load of casting news for July, and if you love the CW’s 90210, then prepare to get excited, because two of the actors mentioned are apparently on that show, which apparently still exists. Tim Burton keeps making his upcoming biopic of Margaret and Walter Keane, Big Eyes, look more and more interesting by branching outside of his usual stable of actors and bringing in more and more talented people who we’ve yet to see him work with. The latest name he’s signed up, according to a report from THR, is screen legend Terence Stamp. He’ll be joining the film as art critic John Canaday, who is said to have been openly appalled at the way Walter Keane used his wife’s work in order to con his way into art world fame.

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review monsters university

The friends you make in college are the ones you make for life, right? Monsters University certainly thinks so, using the film as a prequel to Monsters, Inc. to tell the origin story behind how Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley’s (John Goodman) scare-tastic team came to be. After a class field trip to Monsters Inc., Mike sets his eyes (ahem, eye) on going to Monsters University and becoming a Scarer. The problem is – no one thinks Mike is scary. Despite his enthusiasm, things only get worse when he ends up in class with the large, brash Sulley, a monster who has the right look (and the famous Sullivan name to back it up), but who also has it out for “know-it-all” Mike. After a mishap during their final, the rivalry and tension between Mike and Sulley only increases and Mike decides that entering the Scare Games is the only way to get his dream of becoming a Scarer back on track. But because you must be a part of a team to enter the games, Mike decides to join one of the less popular fraternities on campus, OK (Oozma Kappa), made up of the kooky middle-aged Don Carlton (Joel Murray), two-headed monster Terri and Terry Perry (Sean Hayes and Dave Foley), awkward Scott “Squishy” Squibbles (Peter Sohn), and laid-back goof Art (Charlie Day.) This rag tag group must come together to win the games, but before they can even enter, they need a sixth member – and that is where Sulley comes in.

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Hitchcock Movie

The above picture needs a caption, and you need a Blu-ray of Hitchcock. You’ve come to the right place. You and the picture. Because that picture is sentient. All you have to do to win is hit the comments section below and offer up your best caption by Friday (3/8). From there, we’ll choose three (3) random winners to receive a Blu-ray of the Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren-starring film. Good luck to all who enter, and if you want to brush up on your Alfred Hitchcock, we’ve got you covered.

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RED 2

2010′s Red was a fun action romp that featured both the expected in Bruce Willis and the unexpected in a hilarious John Malkovich and a gun-toting Helen Mirren. The $58 million comic adaptation grossed $200 million world-wide, and Summit happily moved forward on green-lighting a sequel. (Those sons of bitches over at Paramount can take a hint from that decision.) Most of the surviving cast members are returning alongside screenwriters Erich and Jon Hoeber, but director Robert Schwentke is not. Dean Parisot is taking his place, and while his name may not be recognizable maybe you’ve heard of a little, near perfect gem called Galaxy Quest? Yeah, he made that one. Check out Red 2‘s old school action below.

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As much as Hitchcock is a romantic bio film comedy, it’s also very much about the ups and downs of filmmaking. Hitchcock may act like a drama queen in the picture, but nearly anyone who’s picked up a camera or acted has gone through similar troubles. Speaking with actor Danny Huston, he confirmed that’s often the case. The Hitchcock co-star, playing the director’s romantic rival, has faced the worry of one of his films never reaching an audience. He’s certainly been a part of movies which didn’t takeoff upon their release, but have been remembered more fondly later on than whatever movie opened #1 that weekend. That’s how Huston sees it, who also discussed with us dealing with critics, seeing your work with an audience, and taking a shower with Helen Mirren and Anthony Hopkins:

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Saoirse Ronan

What is Casting Couch? It’s just trying to cram its foot into this shoe. Just last week, we learned that Cate Blanchett was likely to be Mark Romanek’s wicked stepmother in the new Cinderella movie that he’s doing for Disney, and now Variety gives us word that the project is closing in on its Cinderella as well. According to the trade, Atonement actress Saoirse Ronan, Anna Karenina actress Alicia Vikander, and The Three Musketeers’ Gabriella Wilde have all been in to see Romanek for screen tests. So, clearly, the sweet spot for getting this role is to have an interesting accent and some period work under your belt. Keira Knightley better watch her back, because it looks like there’s a whole upcoming generation of ladies gunning for her roles.

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Hitchcock Review

Biopics take on a new personality when the subject is an admired figure or, worse still, a personal hero. Alfred Hitchcock’s well-deserved moniker, “The Master of Suspense,” does little to fully capture the elevated place of regard he holds with cinephiles who count themselves devoted fans, which is to say cinephiles. Sacha Gervasi‘s Hitchcock narrows the scope of the director’s life to the production of arguably his greatest film: Psycho. The film covers the lifespan of Psycho from inspirational inception to the labor pains of production, and finally its glorious delivery. Some may balk at the idea of a Hitchcock biopic covering such a short period of the man’s life and indeed only one movie from the intensely prolific director’s canon. However, this seemingly reductive approach is actually quite fitting considering the turning point that this one film represented and the inherent metaphors that can then be extrapolated from the production experience. Psycho was one of the riskiest endeavors of Hitch’s career. He was nearing the end of his professional life and wasn’t commanding as much studio confidence as he once was. It was at this precarious era that he decided to make, and self-fund, a film that not only challenged the conception of Hitchcock as an artist, but indeed changed the landscape of film itself. The studio refusing to fund the movie fed his lifelong insecurity and the tricks employed to sell Psycho to audiences were a function of his overarching commitment to publicity. So yes, the choice to […]

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Hitchcock

Having diligently watched both Sacha Gervasi‘s Hitchcock and Julian Jarrold‘s The Girl in recent weeks (and having reviewed the former for AFI FEST), it’s fairly obvious that the current trend to “illuminate” the life of Alfred Hitchcock via feature films can’t possibly happen without also “illuminating” the more unseemly side of the filmmaker. Mainly that Hitch was something of a world class creep who frequently became obsessed with his leading ladies. But while Jarrold’s film is almost totally focused on that element of Hitchcock’s life and personality (his is the HBO feature that stars Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedren), Gervasi’s film only occasionally touches on it. While Hitchcock didn’t go quite so nutty over Janet Leigh during the making of Psycho, his lecherous tendencies are not hidden, particularly in a new clip from the film that features Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock, Scarlett Johansson as Leigh, and Helen Mirren as Alma Reville. In this clip, Hitch has some ideas on how to film that shower scene – ones he’s happy to share with two quite unsettled ladies. Get creepy with ol’ Hitch after the break.

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Hitchcock AFI FEST

Alfred Hitchcock is, as the kids say, “having a moment” right now. On the heels of a HBO’s made-for-television film, The Girl, and a year before he’ll pop up in Olivier Dahan’s Grace of Monaco, ol’ Hitch is the subject of yet another feature. This one is simply named Hitchcock, and despite the promise such an eponymous title might deliver (“Hitchcock! That sounds like it will cover quite a bit of ground!”), Sacha Gervasi‘s film sticks to a slim (though important) period of the director’s life, focusing on the production of Psycho, a truly warts-and-all experience. And yet, despite working from intriguing material (the script, by John J. McLaughlin, has been adapted from Stephen Rebello‘s book, “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho”) and with a tremendously talented cast (led by Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren), the final product is a disparate and shapeless film that never finds its footing or its focus. A Hitchcock film this is not. Hitchcock attempts to immediately introduce us to both “Hitch” (Hopkins) and his obsessions, opening with a mildly amusing vignette that features mass murderer Ed Gein (Michael Wincott), the inspiration behind the book that inspired Hitchcock’s Psycho, offing his first victim while Hitchcock himself wryly observes, coming into frame like some sort of grand master of ceremonies (Gein will reappear throughout the film, each appearance becoming more laughable and ineffective than the last). Hitchcock, it turns out, has just come off the tremendous success of his North By Northwest and is now […]

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Hitchcock

Whenever an iconic actor takes on an iconic real-life figure as their next role, the film that they do it in tends to be guaranteed a certain amount of hype. Questions of how much they were made to look like them and how much they ended up sounding like them are the first things that cross everyone’s minds, so we all run out and gobble up those initial trailers. That’s likely to be the case for this new trailer for Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock, as well, because it features acting legend Anthony Hopkins portraying directing legend Alfred Hitchcock. How is Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock? Is he doing an impression of him, or kind of doing his own thing? Does his jowl makeup look believable? Luckily for us, the answers to all of these questions are contained here in this trailer, so our curiosity can be sated. When Hopkins is in the makeup, yes, he looks quite a bit like Hitchcock. He seems to be mimicking his mannerisms pretty broadly, but there’s also quite a bit of his own voice coming through in his performance. In a movie like this, where one celebrity plays another celebrity, complete with makeup and wardrobe, there’s always the possibility that after a while the whole thing will start to feel like an overly long SNL sketch and get ridiculous, but Hitchcock passes the initial sniff test.

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Catherine Zeta-Jones took a hiatus from acting late last decade, but she’s been back in the game with The Rebound and Sundance Weinstein pick-up Lay the Favorite. Now, she’s continuing that working streak with RED 2. At 42, it might be a little early for her to retire. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Oscar-winner has signed on alongside Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker and Dame Helen Mirren who will be reprising their roles. The screenwriters, Erich and Jon Hoeber, are also back, but director Robert Schwentke is not. He’s currently working on R.I.P.D., which may or may not be the reason, but Dean Parisot will be taking his spot. Parisot is also an Oscar winner, having won for Best Live-Action Short Film back in 1989 and going on to direct Galaxy Quest and Fun With Dick and Jane. It’s an interesting background he brings, but the comedy angle is easy to see. So the director has an Oscar, Dame Mirren has one, Malkovich is a two-time nominee, and their newest recruit is packing a statue. Not even counting the Golden Globes, this action comedy sequel has a lot of Oscar street cred.

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Since we first heard about director Sacha Gervasi’s (Anvil!: The Story of Anvil) upcoming look at the life and work of legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, quite a bit of important casting has seemingly gone down. Variety reports that not only are age-old rumblings of Anthony Hopkins being attached to play the title character still holding up, but also that Helen Mirren has signed on to play Hitchcock’s wife, Alma. That’s a lot of pedigree for one movie to have, both in cast and subject matter, but the news doesn’t stop there. Apparently the sweetest role in the pic is that of Janet Leigh, Hitchcock’s Psycho leading lady. Inside sources are saying that this is the sort of role that’s going to be grubbing for awards attention, like Michelle Williams’ turn as Marilyn Monroe did last year, and whoever lands it is bound to see their career get an uptick. So who’s getting the chance to play such a choice part? An actress who already has little trouble getting attention on her own, Scarlett Johansson.

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The Debt is a painstakingly old-fashioned drama that’s far more interested in the nuances of human behavior than exploitation or pyrotechnics. At the same time, in telling the parallel stories of Mossad agents hunting a Nazi doctor in East Berlin circa 1966 and those same agents dealing with the consequences of that mission 30 years later, John Madden’s film evokes the existential themes that lie at the heart of Israel’s creation. To straddle both those worlds within the constraints of a tightly-wound thriller is a considerable accomplishment. And this eloquent remake of a 2007 Israeli picture with the same name harkens back to the old-fashioned aesthetics of genre movies that mean something, films that are unafraid of drawing out big ideas between familiar lines. The film stars Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson and Ciarán Hinds as the older version of agents Rachel Singer, Stephan Gold and David Peretz, who discover that the book has not been written on their mission of 30+ years ago with the finality they thought it had. Jessica Chastain, Martin Csokas and Sam Worthington play their younger selves, tracking the sadistic Doktor Bernhardt (Jesper Christensen) astride the Iron Curtain.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr readies for a Labor Day vacation at a lake house surrounded by bloodthirsty sharks. Once dinner is over for the little beasties, he goes undercover in 1960s-era East Berlin to help a bunch of emotionally brittle Mossad agents to kidnap a Nazi war criminal. Unfortunately, all they uncover is dozens of hours of video recordings from a lost NASA moon landing. So Kevin decides to edit all of this footage together into a feature film and hock it to the Weinsteins, convincing them that it really happened… or did it?

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Why are spies so sad and mopey now? Where are the cool, suave, and untouchable secret agents? Lately, nowhere to be found on the big screen. Director John Madden certainly is not bringing back the era of smooth heroes with his latest film, The Debt. The director’s small, claustrophobic remake focuses on lost individuals who display more heartache and moral uncertainty than your typical heroics. Madden did not make a film about a secret mission gone awry, but a film about regret and the power of lies. A few years ago director Matthew Vaughn was attached to helm the thriller, and if he ended up behind the camera, The Debt would be a very different film. Instead of going for a stylish and poppy feel, the Shakespeare in Love filmmaker went with something far more claustrophobic and full of moral uncertainty. As a result, Madden made something many, many notches above Kill Shot in the quality department. Here is what director John Madden had to say about his three damaged Mossad agents, taking a serious matter seriously, and the power of regret:

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Writer-director Rowan Joffe must love to challenge himself. With The American and his feature film debut, an adaptation of Brighton Rock, Joffe tackles the trickiest of characters: internal, cold ones. Like Jack (a.k.a. Mr. Butterfly), Pinkie is a lead that is always at a distance. He will never let anyone in. Everything remains internal. However, Pinkie is not a sucker for the ladies. Pinkie is a character that is not sympathetic, or likable, and is most likely insane. The gangster is a walking horror film; unpredictable, and will do anything he deems necessary out of fear. He’s insecure, which makes him a serious threat. This idea is, once again, expressed internally. Jack and Pinkie present their own challenges, both to the man behind the typewriter and the audience. Here’s what Rowan Joffe had to say about his enigmatic leads, writing a character-driven film versus a plot-driven film, and correcting Roger Ebert:

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Drinking Games

Even though the DVD and Blu-ray of Arthur came out at a weird time (last Friday, to be exact), we couldn’t let it go by without giving it a drinking game. After all, how many movies are released each year that portray alcoholism in such a charming and carefree fashion? (We were also really drunk last week, from all of the other drinking games on the site.) So whether you’re being forced to marry a beautiful woman like Jennifer Garner or if you live in the gutter like the rest of us, you might have some fun watching Arthur when you’re drinking as much as Arthur is.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr spends a long day in the multiplex, checking out a variety of films from alcoholic romantic comedies to nature documentaries with elephants and orangutans. He drinks himself silly and hits on Greta Gerwig in Arthur, narrowly escapes being killed by ass-kicking teen assassin Hanna, narrowly escapes getting his arm bitten off by a tiger shark in Soul Surfer and peeps in on Natalie Portman undressing for a swim in Your Highness. Too bad she’s pregnant now, ‘cause Kevin just ain’t into that scene.

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