Jeremy Renner

Focus Features

It should surprise no one that governments, including our own, have sometimes acted in ways unbecoming of a free democracy. They’ve done bad things is what I’m saying, and as is the case with any organization that’s committed questionable acts they’ve often tried to sweep those sins under the proverbial rug. We’ll never know how frequently they’ve gotten away with it, but sometimes a brave and possibly stupid soul speaks up — a whistle blower, a member of the press — and the government is shamed into proper behavior once again. (Until the next time anyway.) Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner) is a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News in the mid ’90s with an interest and nose for investigative journalism. A tip from a drug dealer’s girlfriend puts him on the trail of a story that at first even he finds difficult to believe that leads him on a trail of shady individuals, from overseas crooks to cabinet members in Washington D.C. The details he uncovers involving the C.I.A., Nicaragua’s freedom fighters and the crack epidemic on the streets of the U.S.’s biggest cities are part of a bombshell revelation, but bombs can cause collateral damage. Kill the Messenger alternately engages and enrages as it relates the true story of one man’s battle between his integrity and the country’s reality, but while it mostly succeeds in that vein the film’s greatest strength is its star.

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king kong vs godzilla 1962

Some things should be left to the message boards. Or at least to the comic books. The question of “Who would win in a fight between…” probably goes back millennia. Prehistoric man would look at two different beloved cave drawings and ponder a battle between a bear on one wall and a lion from another. Maybe an early storyteller came up with the tale of this match, concluding the narrative with the animals teaming up and going after a common enemy: humans. Or, because they were man’s villains, the story probably went the other way, with the bear and the lion being manipulated by their prey to fight each other, the result being a draw where they both lose. The latter is basically updated in the movie Freddy vs. Jason. The former story is more apt for one in which two heroes are pit against each other. The upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is assumed to be that sort. The title characters are expected to fight — unless there’s a bait-and-switch a la Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever — and then of course wind up joining forces to at least form the Justice League. One of the most anticipated parts of Avengers: Age of Ultron, meanwhile, is the promise of an Iron Man vs. Hulk scene, which will have to be a brief obstacle for these characters before they reunited as Avengers and go after Ultron.

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Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye in The Avengers

It’s been at least six hours since our last piece of Marvel movie news, so we have to find something to tide us over. In this case, a wink will do nicely. The wink (two winks, really) in question comes from the upper and lower eyelids of Jeremy Renner, who played Hawkeye in The Avengers, showed up for like half a second in Thor and has otherwise gone unused by the Marvel Universe gods. And according to Renner, that’s just fine; he’d much rather be the “utility guy,” called in whenever a Marvel venture needs another vaguely super dude to add a little interconnectivity. This comes by way of MTV News, who spoke with Renner about his future in the Marvel stable. Just before that line about being a “utility guy” comes this frank declaration: “I’m not scratching or clawing to do a solo movie by any means.” And just after comes two big fat winks, directly after the words “Cap” and “three” enter the conversation.

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Jeremy Renner

  Let’s take a journey back in time. The year? 2010. Hot off The Hurt Locker (and reasonably hot off The Town), Jeremy Renner looked poised to break out in a big way. He was going to be Hawkeye. He was going to be the new Jason Bourne. He was going to take over the Mission: Impossible franchise. It was going to be Jeremy Renner’s world, and we were all just going to live in it (and buy lots of movie tickets while living in it). It was going to be great. It didn’t happen. The literal promise of Renner’s breakout did come true – he is Hawkeye in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he took over the Jason Bourne franchise, he was introduced as a new character in the last Mission: Impossible film – but he’s still not the star of any of those franchises. And, based on the latest round of Hollywood news, he’s not going to be.

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Billy Madison

In response to A.O. Scott’s gorgeously organized, well thought out treatise on how maturity is and is not displayed in TV and film, we’d like to offer a free-wheeling conversation filled with half-formed ideas. How are we displaying adulthood in our art, and is it an accurate reflection of our lives and escapist desires? We’ll also check in Kate Erbland to hear about the best movies of TIFF that you’ll be able to see soon, and Jack Giroux interviews Jeremy Renner about his new biopic of Iran-Contra whistleblower Gary Webb, Kill the Messenger. You should follow Kate (@katerbland), Jack (@jackgi), the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. Please review us on iTunes Download Episode #71 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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The Weinstein Company

The Immigrant is a film of faces. That may seem simple, and perhaps it is, but James Gray‘s newest film does not try to be inscrutable. This is one of the virtues of melodrama, the raw and transparent quality of its emotion beaming from close-ups of the human face. Marion Cotillard‘s open, Catholic performance falls about her eyes, somewhere between Maria Falconetti and a Merchant Ivory adaptation of an Edith Wharton novel. Joaquin Phoenix‘s brow, meanwhile, seems ever wider and more brutal as he oscillates between compassion and selfish violence. Jeremy Renner wears eyeliner, like the star of a theoretically possible Mike Leigh film about Yiddish vaudeville entertainers. The plot is relatively straightforward, even initially cliché. Cotillard is Ewa, a woman just off the boat from Poland, with her sister Magda in tow. Yet when the Ellis Island officials notice that Magda is ill she is rushed off to the infirmary, where she will recuperate or face deportation. Ewa, meanwhile, is put in a precarious position by a vaguely-alluded-to incident on her journey that has cast her as a “woman of low morals.” Threatened with deportation herself, she appeals to a passing American for help.

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The Immigrant

For some reason, James Gray‘s The Immigrant didn’t get released last fall as an awards contender. Like Snowpiercer, The Immigrant was far better than pretty much everything else Harvey Weinstein decided to release in 2013. Both movies sat on the shelf for a little bit, but thankfully for not too long. Snowpiercer and The Immigrant will have limited releases this summer, and it’s highly recommended to seek out the theaters that will show Gray and Bong Joon-ho‘s films. Both movies were made for the big screen. Bong Joon-ho’s exceptional control over tension makes for a true theatrical experience, while Gray’s new movie features gorgeous cinematography and another superb performance from Joaquin Phoenix that shouldn’t be first seen on your television set. Following up his best film, Two Lovers, Gray tells the story of an immigrant, played by Marion Cottillard, hoping to make it in America with her sister. It’s an often moving, refreshingly funny, and smartly structured drama.

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2013review_performances

Christian Bale, Sanda Bullock, Joaquin Phoenix, Oscar Isaac, Tom Hanks, Robert Redford, Michael Fassbender, and Meryl Steep, because she’s Meryl Streep, have all had heaps of praise thrown their way this year by both fans and critics. They’ll continue to see even more acclaim in 2014 and beyond, but with all those fantastic movie star performances, not all of 2013’s best have gotten the attention they deserve. That happens most every year, of course. Only so many performances can be nominated for statuettes. After all, even after listing these 13, another 13 could have easily followed (it was a good year). In that spirit, hopefully you’ll share your picks in the comments section, but for now, here are 13 performances from 2013 not to forget when someone else is being played off stage for making their acceptance speech too long.

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justin lin bourne legacy 2

When it was announced earlier this year that James Wan would be taking the reins for the seventh Fast & Furious film the focus was understandably on Wan’s move from micro-budgeted and highly profitable horror films to the blockbuster world of Universal’s biggest franchise. Fast & Furious 6 cost $160 million to produce, while the most expensive of Wan’s films (The Conjuring) topped off at only $20m. The unasked question, at least at the time, was where Justin Lin would go next. As the director of the last four films in the series, Lin has injected nearly $2 billion into Universal’s coffers over the past seven years. He’s been loosely attached to a handful of projects since then for both film and television, but none have seemed very solid or calculated. Until now anyway. Per Deadline, Universal has set Lin to direct and hopefully rejuvenate one of their other franchises. That’s right. We’re getting another Bourne-less Bourne film.

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immigrant

Does it sound like a super-dramatic period piece featuring beautiful, warm cinematography and starring first-rate actors like Joaquin Phoenix, Marion Cotillard, and Jeremy Renner would be the sort of thing that you’d be interested in? Then you’re probably going to want to watch the trailer for co-writer/director James Gray’s (We Own the Night, Two Lovers) new film, The Immigrant. It tells a complex tale that involves starting over in a new land, searching for lost family members, sex trafficking, and the seedy world of stage magicians. The Immigrant’s basic setup seems to be that Cotillard is the title character, who has traveled to 1920s New York in order to find a better life, Phoenix is a sleazy pimp, who offers to provide her this new life but ends up exploiting her, and Renner is a mustachioed gentlemen, who, upon meeting her, attempts to liberate her from the unseemly situation in which she’s found herself. Click through to give the movie a try, but be warned—this is an international trailer, so it features bare bosoms and, even worse, French subtitles.

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jason-bourne

Update: According to Variety, Universal is denying that they’re talking with Damon or Greengrass about returning to the franchise. This might be a tactic to futilely keep the possibility quiet until they can nail down specifics, or it may be the straightforward truth about a project that’s purely wishful thinking. Even though Matt Damon wasn’t down to do another Bourne movie around the time Universal was putting together The Bourne Legacy—which led to the studio going ahead and doing one without him—he’s always been hesitant to make it look like he was handing over the reins of the franchise to Legacy star Jeremy Renner permanently. As a matter of fact, he’s often made it clear that he and Paul Greengrass, who was Damon’s director on the second two Bourne movies, Supremacy and Ultimatum, intend on someday teaming up on another Bourne movie, but on their own schedule and not the studio’s. Well, now there’s a report out there that Universal has once again been getting an itchy trigger finger, and have recently been putting feelers out to see if enough time has passed for Damon to want to once again don Jason Bourne’s trademarked, um—t-shirt and gun, I guess—and go on another adventure. How do their efforts seems to be going this time?

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The Immigrant

James Gray has steadily gained a head of steam over the four pictures he has released to date, culminating with the grand critical success of his compelling 2008 romantic drama Two Lovers. With another film again appearing In Competition at Cannes, Gray raises the curtain on what is easily his most-anticipated work to date, The Immigrant, which has previously gone by the names The Nightingale and Lowlife, though has no doubt landed on its final moniker for ripe positioning by the Weinstein Company in the impending awards season. As soon as Polish immigrant Ewa Cybulski (Marion Cotillard) and her sister Magda (Angela Sarafyan) arrive in the United States, their circumstances are dire. Magda is immediately quarantined with tuberculosis, while Ewa is questioned for reportedly being a “woman of bad morals,” due to her apparent conduct on the ship over from Europe. Appearing sympathetic to her plight, Bruno Weiss (Joaquin Phoenix) bribes an official to allow Ewa passage, at which point he introduces her to his Prohibition-era bar and theater, and soon enough has her turning tricks in his employ. As Ewa finds little possibility to escape from this life, only Bruno’s magician cousin Orlando (Jeremy Renner) seems to offer any respite, locking the two in a fierce battle over the woman.

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Jeremy Renner

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting news round-up that’s for some reason talking a lot about suicide today. Um…enjoy your weekend, everybody! Tired of Jeremy Renner playing the angry little tough guy in all his movies? Then maybe his next project, Kill The Messenger, is what you’ve been waiting for. Deadline confirms that Renner will be starring in this Michael Cuesta-directed feature that tells the true story of Gary Webb, a journalist who was the victim of a CIA smear campaign after he wrote articles accusing the organization of arming rebels in Nicaragua and aiding with the smuggling of cocaine into California. The mounting pressure of said smear campaign eventually got to the point where Webb took his own life, so don’t expect Renner to go into a rage and shoot his way out of this one. Instead, expect to see yourself leaving the theater puffy-faced and pretending that you’re not crying.

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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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Louis CK

What is Casting Couch? It’s the column that’s rounding up all the casting announcements the studios have released now that the buzz surrounding the Golden Globes has died down. They’ve been hoarding. Before his show on FX became such a well-respected thing, people thought of Louis CK mostly as being a stand-up comedian and not really as an actor, despite the fact that he’s shown up in a few small roles here and there. That might be about to change though, because not only does CK  star in Woody Allen’s upcoming movie, Blue Jasmine, but THR is reporting that he’s also in talks to join David O. Russell’s next project: that con-man movie starring Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, and Amy Adams that used to be called American Bullshit. If CK’s involvement becomes official, it will see him rubbing onscreen elbows with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, which is probably going to feel a little weird at first.

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The Hurt Locker

Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty is currently in limited release and about to go wide, but while it’s unclear what the film’s box-office reception will be the critical one has been fairly unanimous. Unless you count the Academy Awards. Bigelow’s previous visit to the Middle East netted six Oscars including Best Film, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay (for Mark Boal), and like her new one, it faced its fair share of criticism over accuracy. Director and writer both sat down for a commentary track, and while they don’t comment directly on those claims, Boal in particular seems very aware of them. Keep reading to see what I heard with this week’s The Hurt Locker Commentary Commentary…

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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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Movie Stars

As if answering our well-established hypothesis about Hollywood shutting down the production of genuine movie stars, the industry offered a positively scientific blitz of testing this year to challenge that assertion and ultimately prove it correct. The home version of the game is to try and name the last movie star minted by the studios, the last big name to emerge and become wildly popular because of their appearances in motion pictures, the last figure to be crafted by the system in order to help secure a bigger box office for it. However, filmmakers gave us something much more concrete this year in order to prove once and for all that — while a face or two still rises from the periphery to the forefront in movies — we should be mourning the concept of “The Movie Star.” They gave us Channing Tatum and Taylor Kitsch. Let’s start with some magic.

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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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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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