Imelda Staunton

The Awakening

It’s 1921, and Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall) is doing brisk business as an author and professional ghost chaser. She never actually catches any spirits though because her specialty is in disproving their existence. Using a combination of common sense, high (and low) tech gadgetry and deductive reasoning she debunks charlatans and identifies the true causes behind supposed hauntings. Post-WWI England is a country still reeling from the loss of over a million lives. The war and the cruelty of influenza have left behind millions more mourning their loved ones and ripe for exploitation at the hands of so-called mediums and psychics. Cathcart relishes the moment when she reveals them as liars and thieves even if some of the customers prefer the fakery as a form of comfort. But each unveiling of the truth also comes with a tinge of sadness for her. She doesn’t believe in the afterlife, but that doesn’t mean that some small part of her doesn’t wish it existed. When Robert Mallory (Dominic West) appears, wanting her help investigating recent ghostly sightings at a boys boarding school in the countryside, her instinct is to say no, but she eventually accepts the opportunity to expose yet another fraud. Her expectations of man-made shenanigans are quickly met. And then the real ghosts arrive.

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After years of rumors and buzz, Disney’s live-action take on the Angelina Jolie-starring Maleficent is finally zipping along full steam ahead. THR reports (via Cinema Blend) that Elle Fanning is now set to star as Princess Aurora (best known to those not in the fairy tale know as Sleeping Beauty), along with a murderer’s row of the other prime cinematic talent. Fanning was rumored to be in talks back in March (thanks to a nifty exclusive over at Twitch), but it’s nice to get some confirmation on what’s really lovely casting. The outlet also appears to confirm that Sharlto Copley, who is going on a job-accepting tear, is set to co-star as “Stefan, the half-human, half-fairy bastard son of the human king.” The rest of the cast will now include including Imelda Staunton and Lesley Manville as Knotgrass and Flittle (two of three pixies who care for Princess Aurora), Miranda Richardson as fairy Queen Ulla (also Maleficent’s aunt, though she reportedly doesn’t like her so much), Sam Riley as Diaval (Maleficent’s “right-hand man who can transform into a raven”), and Kenneth Cranham as the human king looking to rule the fairy kingdom as well. While this casting is all well and good, we appear to be missing a vital role – the handsome prince!

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr gets his grading done early because school is off for the rest of the week. With three family movies opening in theaters for the Thanksgiving weekend, Kevin tries to keep things respectable. Reliving his childhood, he sings and dances his way into the theater for the revival of The Muppets, then takes a serious look at 3D and avant-garde filmmaking with Martin Scorsese’s latest film Hugo. Finally, he bundles up and heads to the North Pole on a search for Santa and his family, knowing it has to be exactly like it is depicted in Arthur Christmas. Movies don’t lie, after all, do they?

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Most Christmas films are too often saddled with the same basic plotlines and tropes – “new” takes on A Christmas Carol or a focus on dysfunctional families gathering for the holiday or something about locating the perfect present – but few of those spins on the genre can match the magic of the good ol’ “but just how does Santa do it?” plot. How does Santa Claus make it around the world in just one night to deliver toys to all the good boys and girls, with only a sled and eight reindeer to aid in his journey? Well, according to Sarah Smith’s Arthur Christmas, he doesn’t. At least not anymore. In Arthur Christmas, Smith and her co-writer Peter Baynham (who, strangely enough, also scripted this year’s Arthur remake) imagine a traditional Santa-Claus-at-the-North-Pole concept, but one that’s been turned on its head by the influx and influence of new technology. Santa and Mrs. Santa’s (Jim Broadbent and Imelda Staunton, giving the film some real British brio) eldest son, Steve (Hugh Laurie), has revitalized the way that Christmas is done at the North Pole, while youngest Arthur (James McAvoy) is still pleased as Christmas punch to keep doing things in the old style. Steve has outfitted each elf with a HOHO (an elf smart phone named after an acronym too fun to spoil here), while Arthur spends his days as a Mail Agent who is most happy to write back (with pen and paper and everything!) to each boy and girl […]

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Christmas has come and gone, but a late present (like the melted chocolate Santa in the toe of your stocking) has been delivered a year early. Arthur Christmas doesn’t come out until November 2011, but he’s here with an elven friend of his to turn your attention away from Santa’s giant flying UFO that’s hovering above your head. The film is a partnership between Aardman and Sony, and it boasts a fantastic vocal cast. James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy, and Ashley Jensen. One thing is for sure: Santa is British. The question is how he manages to get all those presents to all those kids. Enter that giant spacecraft, a million-strong elf slave army, and some funny physics, and this film seeks to provide at least one explanation. See the trailer for yourself after the jump:

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Told from Death’s perspective, a young girl is taken into foster care in Munich after her mother is imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp for being a Communist.

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Another day comes, and another opportunity for us to lay down some of the day’s hot news stories is upon is. But instead, we begin your Thursday with The B-Roll. Or as we like to say, “And now, for something completely different.”

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Kevin Carr looks ahead to this week’s movie releases, effectively shredding The Final Destination, urging you to stay clear of Halloween 2 and Taking Woodstock to task.

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‘Taking Woodstock’ is an unexpected detour into sunny territory for director Ang Lee but it’s so lightweight it’s almost insubstantial.

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A little birdie left a bunch of cool images from Taking Woodstock on my doorstep, and then clumsily flew off into a nearby window.

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Last night the first trailer for Taking Woodstock, the latest film from director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain), premiered during the Comedy Central show Important Things with Demetri Martin. And since then, it has appeared online in a low resolution format. Lo-res or not though, we feel that it’s important that you get a look this morning.

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