Jason Clarke

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Numerous filmmakers have made their influences into mentors. Paul Thomas Anderson’s ’90s films were deeply indebted to the work of Robert Altman, with whom he developed a personal friendship, and even worked as an uncredited “backup director” for The Prairie Home Companion. And the well-publicized friendships between Peter Bogdanovich and titans of classic cinema (Howard Hawks, John Ford, Orson Welles) have threatened to obscure the notable films Bogdanovich actually made as his primary contribution to the world of movies. Many filmmakers hew themselves close to those whom they give homage, either personally or aesthetically. Yet this relationship typically produces a sort of third party amongst a collision of influences, a meeting of minds and personalities that shapes films which, while heavily indebted to what came before, use the past as a platform for expressing something notable on its own. That’s what makes A.J. Edwards’ debut work, The Better Angels, such a curious cinematic object. It’s a film that not only bears a significant debt to the style of Terrence Malick (and openly, proudly so), but produces such a perfect exercise in Malick-style filmmaking that it never quite reveals an autonomous personality of its own. It’s hard to think of a more confident, more elegantly executed debut feature than The Better Angels, but it’s also hard to think of any other strong debut that leaves the personality of its filmmaker obscured as deeply in the shadows as this.

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Reeves

When some actors and directors promote an adaptation or remake they’ll pretend they’ve always been fans of the original movie or the comic. You can generally tell when they’re lying, trying to pander to fans. Thankfully, real die-hard fans often get to be a part of properties that actually mean something to them. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes director, Matt Reeves, is one of those people. Like most kids growing up in the ’80s, the New York-born filmmaker gravitated toward E.T., Close Encounters, and Star Wars. For Reeves, though, those films never held a candle to Planet of the Apes. “That was my obsession. That was my Star Wars,” he tells us over the phone, counting the hours until the film opens this Friday. When it comes to the Apes franchise the original film and, the strangest of the series, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, are his favorites — Reeves is still shaken by the image of the mutated humans removing their faces in the latter film. He also has a deep fondness for the television series which only lasted, to his surprise, three months back in 1974. “I thought for sure it was on for years because it took up so much of my childhood. I had dolls, the records, and these comic books. I was so obsessed with that world.”

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Rise of the Planet of the Apes was so impressive it washed the taste of Tim Burton’s failed Apes remake out of our mouths for good. If there was a problem with the 2011 reboot, it was that the humans, while adequate, did not match the screen presence of the real leads of the film: Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his followers. The sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, wisely keeps its focus on the apes while also putting enough thought into the humans to make director Matt Reeves‘ movie a consistently thrilling and emotional summer blockbuster. Ten years after the Golden Gate Bridge showdown, the simian flu has killed billions. The Apes, who’ve now built a peaceful community together, even wonder if there are any humans left. Led by their strong leader, Caesar, who’s now a family man, they live by a simple code: apes don’t harm apes. They’ve seen the mistakes made by humans and do not want history to repeat itself. Their way of life is interrupted (as it often is) when people enter the picture. Led by Malcolm (Jason Clarke), a group of humans want to enter Caesar’s territory, hoping to bring power back to San Francisco. Both sides have to work together to make this happen, so naturally, hate and distrust bubble up between the two sides.

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Following in the political footsteps of the original series (of books and films), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes puts Jason Clarke’s peace-seeking character Malcolm in the middle of a world spoiling for war. It proves that, at the very least, the reboot sequel will make an interesting double feature with Zero Dark Thirty. Meanwhile, the biggest question facing this movie is how well director Matt Reeves and Andy Serkis’ Caesar can keep us engaged when we know the ultimate outcome of the story. Even for those who haven’t seen the original movies, the climax is right there in the title, and it’s my guess that dawn is going to break pretty damned hard. The first full trailer gives us a sniper’s eye view of the coming storm — a band of humans led by Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) has been hobbled for a decade by a man-made virus while a growing group of evolved simians wants to stake its own claim on society. Clarke’s character looks to go all Dances With Wolves (or Avatar) on everyone by touching foreheads with a chimpanzee and understanding his foe. Check it out for yourself:

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Jai Courtney

The character that Michael Biehn made awesome, Anton Yelchin made dumb, and Jonathan Jackson made boring, is returning to the big screen, as Jai Courtney has been cast as human resistance leader Kyle Reese in 2015’s Terminator: Genesis. Skynet’s worst enemy has had quite a crisis of identity since Biehn nailed the nuance of the role in James Cameron’s 1984 sci-fi action masterpiece, The Terminator, and his lasting imprint on the character will insure that Courtney has some substantial boots to fill. Courtney’s slim resume may make fans of the Terminator franchise, and Reese in particular, nervous about his capturing the role. His closest competition was model-turned-actor Boyd Holbrook, who while building an increasing film profile, has similarly not had his breakout role as of yet. Nailing Kyle Reese would go a long way in helping audiences forget his wooden performance in John Moore’s A Good Day to Die Hard, an all-around awful experience for most all.

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Léa-Seydoux

Jason Clarke, Lea Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, and Olivia Colman have all joined forces for Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos‘ first English language film, The Lobster. The futuristic romance is a bit out there, but nothing too strange from the man who brought us 2009’s Dogtooth. In Lanthimos’s dystopian future, being single is illegal and all those caught breaking the law are arrested and transferred to The Hotel. A far cry from The Four Seasons, Deadline Hollywood reports that the hotel guests are forced to find a mate within 45 days; should they fail, they get transformed into an animal and released into the woods. Problem solved! Don’t worry; it’s any animal of their choosing – it’s not like they’re cruel or something. Of course, one of the men taken to the Hotel escapes to the woods and falls in love (with a human? with one of the humans turned animal?), though it’s against all the rules of their society. There’s no word yet on who is playing what role, though it really seems like these four shouldn’t have any problem finding a mate – right? riiiiight? It’s also hard to judge from the simple synopsis what to make of the film’s tone. Billed as an unconventional love story, it has the trappings to either go the deeply sinister route (think about it, a lot of people probably don’t survive in those woods for very long), or darkly comedic (turning people into animals because they’re not married is kind of funny).

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clarke-zero-dark

What is Casting Couch? It’s diligently gathering together all the last bits of casting news that are hitting before Comic Con starts up later this week and takes over everyone’s attention with its water cooler-worthy sneak peaks and complaint-inducing lines. Read on for news regarding Juno Temple, an English-language voice cast for a Spanish movie, and Paul F’n Reiser. It’s hard to say which has been more on fire lately, Jason Clarke’s career or Child 44’s casting process. Probably that’s a debate we don’t need to have though, because the two have just converged and are now fighting for the same side. Heat Vision is reporting that Clarke is negotiating to join director Daniel Espinosa’s tale of Soviet-era child murders and coverups, in the role of a shady character named Brodsky who just may be a traitor. If Clarke’s involvement becomes official, he’ll join his Lawless co-stars Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman, as well as the already cast Noomi Rapace, Joel Kinnaman, Paddy Considine, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, which is just ridiculously impressive.

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Bradley Cooper

What is Casting Couch? It’s a compilation of casting news that has word of a new project for Zero Dark Thirty’s Jason Clarke as well as a look at Johnny Depp’s upcoming schedule. Read on. Bradley Cooper’s ego has gotten so big ever since he was nominated for an Oscar that he’s now decided he wants to take David Hasselhoff’s place as Germany’s favorite celebrity. According to Deadline, the Silver Linings Playbook actor has signed on to star in an English language adaptation of Kokowaah, which was Germany’s highest grossing film of 2011. The basic story here is that of a successful author and swinging bachelor who suddenly discovers he has an 8-year-old daughter from a brief fling he engaged in years ago. Cooper also has a producing credit on the film, and might even be stepping into the director’s chair to make this his directorial debut, but this is a casting report and not a feed Bradley Cooper’s ego report, so let’s move on.

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Jason Clarke

Not much is yet known about Matt Reeves’ (Let Me In) follow-up to Rupert Wyatt’s 2011 film, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. We know that it’s going to be called Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, that Andy Serkis is going to be back to do his part in bringing the ape leader Caesar to life, and that it’s supposed to take place somewhere around fifteen years after Caesar’s battle with the authorities on the Golden Gate Bridge. Thanks to a report from THR though, we now know the first name that’s going to be joining Serkis in the film’s cast. According to the trade, rising in popularity actor Jason Clarke has signed on to star in the film. Though Clarke has been getting regular work for coming up on two decades now, it’s been just recently that his film career has really started to get traction. Last year he was not only able to steal some scenes from the wildly charismatic Tom Hardy in John Hillcoat’s Lawless, but he also managed to turn a lot of heads and create a lot of buzz as the CIA agent who interrogates and water boards a prisoner in Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty.

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A Look Back at the Cinematic Facial Hair of 2012

The movies released in 2012 have been notable for many reasons, impacting or reflecting news events both positively and negatively. It’s also seen new innovations, the most notable being the first release of a film in 48 frames per second. However, cinematic historians will also look back on 2012 as being a banner year for facial hair. The entire crew of Film School Rejects relishes glorious facial hair (and yes, that also includes the ladies on staff). We all wish we could have half the style that characters in the movies this year displayed on their lips, chins and cheeks. Now, as the year draws to a close, we reminisce on the many styles we’ve seen on movie screens in 2012, and maybe give some tips on how to grow your own face so glorious.

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Zero Dark Thirty

If you’ve somehow managed to avoid the massive praise that’s already been heaped on Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty – so far, they include four Golden Globe nominations, three National Board of Review wins, inclusion in AFI’s list of the best films of the year, countless critics associations nominations, and that’s just going top-of-the-head here – you’ve managed to stay insanely out of the loop on one of the year’s very best films. Congrats to you. Now let’s correct that. Sony has just sent out their final trailer for the Jessica Chastain-starring, Osama Bin Laden-killing, truth-based tale, and it may be your last chance to jump on the ZDT bandwagon before that train pulls out of the station (forgive these mixed metaphors). All aboard? (Shh, secret time, I didn’t even watch this trailer, and I already know it’s awesome.) Check it out after the break, as if you need a reason.

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Matt Damon

What is Casting Couch? It’s not so much a couch as it is a list, a list of recent castings. And it seems to be talking a lot about World War II today. George Clooney and Matt Damon must have decided that they both look super handsome when they’re standing next to each other, because not only have they already worked together on the Oceans movies and Syriana, but now Deadline is reporting that Clooney has decided that he’s going to cast Damon in his next project as a director, The Monuments Men. This is that one about the museum curators who try to save as many artifacts and works of art as possible during the Nazis’ slash and burn campaign that took place during the dying days of World War II. If Damon’s negotiations go well and he signs up, he’ll be joining a cast that already includes Clooney himself, Daniel Craig, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville, and Bob Balaban—which is enough big name actors that they should probably just cash in and rename this thing Oceans Monuments Men.

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Jason Clarke in Lawless

Lawless features some towering performances. Tom Hardy commands with every grunt, Guy Pearce snarls in every scene, and Gary Oldman gives a quietly vicious performance. Then there’s Jason Clarke, playing the oldest of the three Bondurant brothers, Howard. He’s the brute of the group, the unhinged ox who’s seen a mass-scale violence, and he has clearly been affected by it. Clarke, like Hardy and his grunts, walks through the film with a lumbering physicality, as if he’s not even in much control over his own violent tendencies. That physicality is a factor Clarke put a lot of thought into, from using a smaller heel on his boot to wearing weights on his ankles. It’s that sort of commitment which seems to have earned the actor gigs with the likes of Baz Luhrmann, Kathryn Bigelow, John Hillcoat, and the two peas in the pod, Roland Emmerich and Terrence Malick. The actor was kind enough to take time off from walking around the White House for Emmerich to discuss his love for research, finding a character, and how you should never be afraid to go big.

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John Hillcoat and Tom Hardy

Director John Hillcoat isn’t entirely known for crowd-pleasing studio fare. After putting The Road and The Proposition under his belt, Hillcoat showed he’s the type of filmmaker never to shy away from bleakness. One would think that’s what made Lawless such a difficult project to get off the ground, but surprisingly, Hillcoat has made a real summer movie. However, even when striving for some of those cinematic thrills, the acclaimed director never pulls his punches. One major difference between Lawless and his previous films is the fact Hillcoat shot the picture digitally. Although he sounded quite sensitive about going that route, Hillcoat approached the film with a futurist point of view. Still, the director states there’s nothing more magical than celluloid, even after dealing with advantages and disadvantages of digital. Here’s what Lawless director John Hillcoat had to say about his attraction to brutal violence, the film’s sociopathic villain, and his experience with the ARRIRAW:

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The twelve-year run of prohibition in the United States was a period that punctuated social imparity, religious activism, and was a launchpad for some of the biggest names in organized crime. Basically, it’s a mixed bag of deeply interesting subject matter that is spot-on perfect for the big screen. Director John Hillcoat‘s Lawless is a violent slice of that era’s dying days. Distilled by screenwriter Nick Cave from the pages of Matt Bondurant‘s 2008 historical novel, “The Wettest County in the World,” Lawless tells the story of the Bondurant brothers, a family of moonshiners in the Blue Ridge Foothills of Franklin County, Virginia. In the midst of the Great Depression, the citizenry of Franklin County carved a living out of  making moonshine, and none are more successful than the brothers Bondurant, who run a healthy bootlegging racket.

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Jason Clarke

Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Wes Bentley, Isabel Lucas, Joel Kinnaman, Imogen Poots, Freida Pinto, and Ryan O’Neal…with that cast, and others unmentioned, one would think Terrence Malick would have enough actors for a single movie. Apparently, that’s not the case, as Malick has added another name to his project about life, love, and probably other poetic things of that nature. That name is Jason Clarke. While speaking with us today about John Hillcoat‘s Lawless, Clarke revealed he just finished shooting on Malick’s Knight of Cups. When discussing the visionary filmmakers he’s worked with lately – Michael Mann, Baz Luhrmann, Kathryn Bigelow, and so on –  the actor made sure to mention Malick’s name in that list, “I did a film with Terrence Malick as well. Knight of Cups, it’s another one that he’s producing.”

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In Lawless, John Hillcoat has almost crafted the perfect modern Western, infusing more explicitly the gangster genre elements that always occur in the genre, but never quite so explicitly. The film follows the Bondurant brothers – Jack (Shia Labeouf), Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke) – rise as the most famous bootleggers in sun-dried Prohibition-era Virginia, and the government’s attempts to stop them. The government’s chief agent is Guy Pearce‘s Charlie Rakes, a flamboyant looking, but profoundly villainous Special Deputy, let off his leash when the Bondurants, lead by Hardy’s powerhouse Forrest refuse to pay a monthly toll on their illegal activities. While it may sound like an all guns-blazing, epic Prohibition-era Western, the story, adapted well from Matt Bondurant‘s historical novel by Nick Cave (who also once again offers a superlative score) focuses on human stories to add poignancy and depth to the more explosive sequences.

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Director John Hillcoat’s (The Road) upcoming project tells the tale of a family of Depression-era bootleggers coming under the scrutiny of a crooked and cutthroat authority. It’s adapted from a Matt Bondurant novel called “The Wettest County in the World,” it was once being referred to as The Wettest County, and for some reason it’s now called Lawless – but a movie with this cast by any other name would be just as badass. The film’s first theatrical trailer has hit the net today, thanks to Yahoo! Movies, and for the first time we’re getting a glimpse of just how much fun it is to see all of these actors working together; which is a whole lot of fun indeed. First off, you’ve got Shia LaBeouf, Jason Clarke, and Tom Hardy playing the Bondurant Boys, the bootlegging trio of brothers who are, at least in some way, based off the author of the source material’s real family history. Then you’ve got Gary Oldman playing the big-time crook they’re working for, Guy Pearce playing the corrupt authority figure brought in to make sure they’re either getting shut down or giving the government their required cut of the profits, Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska playing a couple of ladies they become romantically entangled with, and a whole host of grizzled-looking character actors filling out the rest of the cast of backwoods Virginia hillbillies.

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Typically, release date information isn’t the most important of news, but when it comes to John Hillcoat’s latest project, a star-packed adaptation of a book ripe for a cinematic telling, all bets are off. Hillcoat lensed The Wettest County in the World, from Matt Bondurant’s fact-based tale of his very own grandfather and two of his granduncles and their moonshine-running exploits in Prohibition-era Virginia, earlier this spring, and rumors once held that we’d see it this December, but that’s just not the case. The Weinstein Company picked the film up back during this year’s Cannes Film Festival, but they won’t have the time or inclination to get it into theaters until April 20, 2012. The film is crammed with a murderer’s row of talent, from the firmly established (Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce) to the up-and-coming (Jason Clarke, Jessica Chastain, Dane DeHaan, Mia Wasikowska) to the hot properties looking to expand their resumes (Shia LaBeouf , Tom Hardy). Hardy, Clarke, and LaBeouf star as the three bootlegging Bondurant brothers, who attempt to hold their family business together through threats that include the law, other bootleggers, and love. While the book itself is a bit dry, the tale of the Bondurants is inherently cinematic, and under Hillcoat’s watch (and with a script from his The Proposition scribe, the ever-talented Nick Cave), Wettest County should prove to be an accomplished and thrilling slice of Americana. [BoxOfficeMojo, The Playlist]

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Ani Canaan Mann’s second feature film, Texas Killing Fields, has had a somewhat long journey to the screen, and has gone through some slightly different incarnations, from involvement with other behind-the-camera talent (namely Danny Boyle) to the shorter, gentler title of The Fields. But with the film showing in competition at Venice, it looks like it may be smooth sailing from here on out. Despite a pretty standard true crime plotline, there’s something about Texas Killing Fields that has kept me intrigued for many months. Maybe it’s that the film’s cast is almost murderously good, as it includes Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Sam Worthington, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jessica Chastain, Stephen Graham, Jason Clarke, and Annabeth Gish. That’s got to be it.

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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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published: 12.12.2014
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published: 12.05.2014
C+


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