Jesse Eisenberg

2010 was a good year for Jesse Eisenberg and Melissa Leo. While Eisenberg was wowing audiences with his performance in The Social Network, Leo was simultaneously turning heads for her role as an overbearing, white trash mother in The Fighter. And Tracy Morgan, well, Tracy Morgan is insane. So watching this trio team up in Phil Dorling and Ron Nyswaner’s new comedy, Why Stop Now, should be something of a treat; especially since the powers that be seem to have cast each actor in roles that place them firmly in their comfort zones.

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Aaron Sorkin

Please read this article with caution as it does contain plot details that some may consider spoilers for the first episode of HBO’s The Newsroom. After screening the pilot episode (“We Just Decided To”) of Aaron Sorkin’s new show The Newsroom, the Los Angeles Film Festival audience was treated to a Q&A session which featured Sorkin himself along with executive producer Alan Poul, director Greg Mottola, and moderated by Madeleine Brand (The Madeleine Brand Show.) Anyone who has attended a Sorkin Q&A (or seen the man speak) knows that it is the equivalent of being shot out of a cannon. Sorkin’s signature fast-talk does not just live on the pages he writes, it is also how Sorkin speaks himself. It was clear that whatever Sorkin and Brand had spoken about prior to coming into the theater had left them both riled up. Brand (much like the Northwestern professor does to Jeff Daniels’ character, Will McAvoy, in the first scene of the premiere episode) refused to let Sorkin get away with non-answers or quips. Brand continuously pushed him until Sorkin, the man of a million words, let out an exasperated breath… and then jumped right back in.

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Perhaps we were spoiled with last year’s Midnight in Paris, auteur Woody Allen‘s return to (delightful) form after a few years of basically forgettable, minor efforts like Whatever Works, Scoop, Cassandra’s Dream, and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. Suffice to say, Allen’s next cinematic trip to a classic, romantic European city has come complete with heightened expectations, and while his To Rome With Love occasionally harnesses some of the charm and ease of Paris, it’s a wholly different film experience, and a less enjoyable one to boot. Much like Paris, Allen has lined up a sizable and talented cast for his latest outing, though he’s chosen Rome as his own spin on throwaway rom-coms like New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day and the far superior Love, Actually, instead of focusing on a single leading character. Allen uses the city of Rome as the (often only) link between all manner of people – Italians, Americans, young, old, famous, common, talented, sexy, unsexy, ambitious, bored, confused, the list goes on – and lets them play out their theatrically-tinged trials and tribulations against a gorgeous Roman backdrop. It’s frothy and fizzy enough, but To Rome With Love isn’t the sort of film that is likely to leave a lasting impact on its audience. It’s popcorn entertainment for the indie set.

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Woody Allen continues his European tour with his next film, To Rome With Love. This time around, the auteur appears to stick with the light fluffiness that made his Midnight in Paris such a delight to behold, but with a much deeper cast of characters to suit the film’s vignette style. The film’s synopsis tells us that it “is comprised of four separate vignettes and tells the story of a number of people in Italy—some American, some Italian, some residents, some visitors—and the romances and adventures and predicaments they get into.” Players in those various vignettes include Allen himself, Jesse Eisenberg, Alec Baldwin, Ellen Page, Penelope Cruz, Robert Benigni, Judy Davis, Alison Pill, and Greta Gerwig. With the film’s first trailer, we get our first glimpse what we can expect from each section – Allen being neurotic (shock); a potential love triangle involving Eisenberg, Gerwig, and Page; a flimsy and flighty Cruz; and Benigni becoming famous for something. I can already guess which vignettes I’ll feel the most amore for – can you?

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The latest stop in writer/director Woody Allen’s tour of Europe has, up until this point, been referred to as Nero Fiddled, which is a clever title referring to the myth that the Roman Emperor Nero played a fiddle while watching the city burn to the ground. Clever though it is, it’s also a little high-brow, and probably would go over the heads of most mainstream audiences. Normally going over the heads of the masses wouldn’t be much of a problem for a New York intellectual like Allen, but following the substantial and slightly surprising success of Midnight in Paris, one would imagine that the studio is looking to bring all those people that made their way out to the theater back for Woody’s next any way that they can. Perhaps to that end, the movie has been retitled, right before its marketing campaign looks to begin. From now on the project that stars names like Ellen Page, Penélope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg, and Woody himself will known as To Rome With Love, a title that once again mentions the city in which it is set by name, and that feels right at home sitting next to Midnight in Paris.

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The last time we heard about director Richard Ayoade’s follow-up to his quirky and likable teen drama Submarine, we were hit with the news that Jesse Eisenberg had been cast in the lead. The Double is based on a Fyodor Dostoyevsky novella called “The Double: A Petersburg Poem,” which is a trippy tale about an average Joe who’s being followed around by his exact double, an evil doppelganger intent on ruining his life. Eisenberg, of course, is playing the lead and the lead’s evil twin, which is exciting in itself; but now that THR is reporting that up-and-coming young actress Mia Wasikowska is also joining the cast, my excitement surrounding this one has, well, doubled. Seeing as this is less a direct adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s novella and more a work written by Ayoade and Avi Korine that’s inspired by the original story, it’s hard to say what role Wasikowska will actually be playing in the film. But seeing as she’s a major actress, I guess we can infer that it’s going to be a large one? What THR does seem to know for sure is that Ayoade promises that his film is “funny, frightening and dream-like” and it will “reflect on loneliness and our need to love and be loved.” Sounds like The Double is going to share some themes with Submarine. Is this the first glimpse we’re going to get at Ayoade the auteur? Couple this onscreen duo with the satiric wit that Ayoade displayed in his first film, […]

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Midnight in Paris is still out there making money and finding new audiences, so it’s less than surprising that Sony Pictures Classics has already picked up Woody Allen‘s follow-up film, Nero Fiddled, which was produced last year. According to Cinema Blend, the movie is described by Allen as a broad comedy with several overlapping stories. It stars Jesse “Woody Allen” Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Alec Baldwin, Greta Gerwig, Penelope Cruz, Roberto Benigni and Judy Davis. Woody Allen is also playing a role, but he lamented earlier in the year about not being able to play the romantic lead anymore. Which is ridiculous. Who wouldn’t want to see a hunky 76-year-old man embroil himself in the heart and loins of a gorgeous counterpart? Exactly. As long as it takes place in Rome, it’ll be romantic. I’m pretty sure that’s even where we get the word. So if you were at all worried that you’d go a year without hearing from the workhorse of filmmaking, fear not! More Allen is on the way. Just try not to loudly pontificate about the meaning of his work while waiting in line at the cinema.  

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Daniel Radcliffe

James Franco isn’t just known as the greatest Oscars host of all-time, he’s also an actor. An actor who up until now was the most recent man to portray legendary beat poet Allen Ginsberg on screen. Franco played Ginsberg in the movie Howl, which didn’t shy away from the perceived obscenity of Ginsberg’s works, the fact that there was a lot of drug use going on in the man’s life, or the fact that he was pretty openly homosexual. You have to be comfortable dealing with some pretty risqué stuff if you’re going to accurately portray Ginsberg on film, so it makes sense that an actor as concerned with being artsy and progressive as James Franco would take the poet on. But what’s a little more shocking is the newest actor who is going to be stepping into Ginsberg’s shoes. In the upcoming film Kill Your Darlings the poet is going to be played by none other than… Harry Potter?!

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Heist movies are usually about that one big score. That one massive job that’s too risky to take on, but too enticing to pass up. In order to motivate heist movie characters to step out of their comfort zones and take big risks, whatever they’re breaking into has to have a pretty big booty. But with each passing announcement, it becomes clearer and clearer that in Louis Leterrier’s upcoming heist film Now You See Me, the most valuable thing on screen won’t be the stockpiles of cash the illusionist characters steal from the world’s banks, but the amazing cast that he has assembled to bring these characters to life. It seems like almost on a bi-weekly basis some new casting announcement is made about this film that tops the last, and the latest comes from Movie Hole, who reports that Michael Caine has become the latest actor to join an already bursting at the seams ensemble. This puts him in a group of actors including Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, Melanie Laurent, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, and Woody Harrelson. Admittedly, Movie Hole’s accuracy rate at breaking news stories has been a little bit dubious, but The Playlist, a publication with a better batting record, has confirmed the story as well, so there must be some legitimacy to what Movie Hole’s secret source is saying. And if Movie Hole’s source knows what it’s talking about, then it raises another question about the film. Their source mentions the fact that Woody […]

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I’m not going to go on too long here. I’ve already written pages about how excited I am about the casting process for Louis Leterrier’s Now You See Me. Leterrier and company started out strong by casting Jesse Eisenberg in the lead role, then in rapid succession they added names like Mark Ruffalo, Melanie Laurent, Morgan Freeman, and Isla Fisher. This movie about bank robbing magicians has a next level cast, and it just keeps getting better. Variety is reporting that Woody Harrelson is the latest name to join the ensemble. Harrelson, one of the most delightful to watch and underrated actors in Hollywood, will be playing the role of Merritt Osbourne, a hypnotist and mentalist who can pull Jedi mind tricks on people. He used to perform for the Queen of England, but some sort of vaguely violent incident has forced him to relocate to Las Vegas where he becomes a member of the Four Horsemen, Eisenberg’s group of bank robbing magicians. Well, that about takes care of that; best movie ever.

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The casting process for Louis Leterrier’s upcoming heist film Now You See Me has played like a magician’s stage show up to this point. One after another, Leterrier has pulled actors I love out of his hat to fill the roles of the bank robber magicians and the government agents who will be tracking them down. But recently that process has hit something of a snag. The genie has been taken out of the bottle, because Variety is reporting that Amanda Seyfried has passed on playing the role of Henley, the master technician of the magician crew. For her sake, I hope that she isn’t passing up on this interesting sounding film to do yet another terrible movie like Red Riding Hood, but I guess we both need to just move on. Breaking up is hard. Moving on might be kind of easy though, as that same Variety article is also reporting that now that Seyfried is done sniffing around the role, the next step to finding a gadget gal for Jesse Eisenberg and his crew of bank robbing illusionists is to negotiate with Isla Fisher for the role. Fisher is charming, funny, and nice to look at, plus she doesn’t do nearly enough live action stuff, so I approve of this decision. That loss of Seyfried is going to hurt, I’m not gonna lie, but sticking a bubbly redhead in her place is a damn good way to make up for it. And more good news is that Mark […]

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr makes big plans to publish a best-selling book that women across the nation will read in hoity-toity book clubs. Step one: Move to the deep south and get raised by an African American maid. While Kevin tries to figure out how to move past that step, he gets a job delivering pizzas and lives in constant fear he’ll be used in a bank heist. Then he cheats death by avoiding the Glee concert movie, but lives in even more constant fear that the flick will hunt him down and make him watch it.

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30 Minutes or Less is a movie that takes risks. In a flat landscape of studio movies that seem mostly to be shoved into a formula that doesn’t quite work anymore, watching this film is like drinking an ice cold lemonade on a hot summer day that’s been spiked with stuff that would put hair on your chest. For all the laughs and gore of Zombieland, director Ruben Fleischer seems to have taken this comedy about a pizza boy forced to rob a bank simply to further prove he can get away with anything he wants. And he gets away with it, because the movies he makes are damned funny. This is a film for adults that grabs its anatomy, goes about its business, and doesn’t care to cater to any particular sensibility. It’s because of that attitude that it all works so well. The direction, the actors, and the writing commit fully to the premise, and sells us on the bit by sheer willpower (and a healthy amount of adult language and situations).

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I’m starting to feel a pretty strange connection to Louis Leterrier‘s upcoming heist movie Now You See Me. First he seemed to be practically reading my mind by casting all of my favorite actors in prominent roles. And now, just days after I randomly and nonsensically mentioned Morgan Freeman in an article reporting on Mark Ruffalo and Amanda Seyfried joining the cast, comes word that Leterrier is negotiating with Freeman to join the film as well. Hello? Louis? Are you in there? Can you hear my thoughts? Let’s run down the cast once more, and see where Freeman fits in. Jesse Eisenberg is set to play the leader of a group of magicians (now being referred to as “the Four Horsemen” in the Variety article) who use their powers of illusion to rob banks and then shower the audience at their magic shows with money. Mark Ruffalo will play the head F.B.I. dude intent on shutting their little crime ring down. Amanda Seyfried will be playing the technician that builds all of the magicians’ equipment. And Melanie Laurent is set to play a lead character who sits on the right side of the law.

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Director Ruben Fleischer seems to have cashed in all his chips from Zombieland and made a small, dark, action comedy. Underneath its obvious commercial appeal, chances are taken with the humor of 30 Minutes or Less. Whether it be with Michael Pena‘s performance or being unafraid to have actual stakes, the film doesn’t always play it safe. One would think Fleischer would jump right away into the world of tent-pole filmmaking, but he decided to wisely follow-up his hit film with a project that’ll allow his sensibilities to show. Fleischer won’t be staying in the comedy world forever, though. With his next film, The Gangster Squad, the director will be tackling an epic L.A.-set gangster picture through a digital camera lens. The director was kind enough to make the time to talk while prepping The Untouchables-esque epic, where we discussed the darkness of 30 Minutes or Less, grounding comedies, and his love for digital filmmaking:

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The Double has only just been announced, and already there’s a lot to like about this project. Directed by Richard Ayoade, starring Jesse Eisenberg, and adapted from a novella by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, this is a project with a pretty strong pedigree. If you’ve never heard of Ayoade, he’s not only one of the stars of the BBC comedy series The IT Crowd, he’s also the director of the feature film Submarine, which got a limited release in the United States earlier this year and probably didn’t get seen by enough people. It was a quirky look at a coming of age young man, kind of in the vein of a Harold and Maude or a Rushmore. Fyodor Dostoyevsky is the challenging but rewarding Russian author whose work you’ve probably been assigned and hopefully didn’t avoid at some point in your academic career. This film will be adapted from his novella “The Double: A Petersburg Poem”, which is either a surreal story where its main character is followed around by an exact double of himself that tries to ruin his life, or a look at the schizophrenic breakdown of a man who is hallucinating that an exact double of himself is following him around and ruining his life. And Jesse Eisenberg, well hell, you know who he is. He will most likely be doing his usual, nervous and neurotic shtick for this film, but this time doubly so. Looks like it might be time to call up his old co-worker Armie […]

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Louis Leterrier seems to be intent on pulling off the greatest magic trick of all time: getting all of my favorite young actors to appear in the same film. A movie about illusionists turned bank robbers playing a game of cat and mouse with the F.B.I. is interesting enough just as a pitch, but every new name he adds to the Now You See Me cast ends up making me more and more excited to see the end product. First he snagged Jesse Eisenberg to play the lead role. Eisenberg is an actor that started turning heads with The Squid and the Whale and then just kept turning in constantly solid work until finally achieving mainstream acclaim with his turn as Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. Any notion of him being the other Michael Cera has been long disproven. After getting a leading man, Leterrier needed an equally charming leading lady so he went after French actress Melanie Laurent. She, of course, is the feisty little philly who blew everyone (including important Nazi officials) away as Shoshanna in Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds. That’s quite a pair already.

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A while back I first heard that Louis Leterrier’s next project was going to be a heist movie about magicians who robbed banks. It was an interesting enough concept to pique my interest, but I still had a bad taste left in my mouth after Clash of the Titans. I guess enough time must have passed, because hearing about the project again, I don’t find much of that ill will still remaining. I think I’m kind of looking forward to this next movie. It just might be a new day for Leterrier and me. Or maybe I’m just happy that the new news about the film is that Melanie Laurent is in negotiations to play the female lead. I do so crush on that little pixie-like lady. You know who she is, right? The girl from Inglorious Basterds and Beginners? Yeah, she’s fun. Jake Gyllenhaal was also pondering the idea of joining the cast for a while, but seems to have passed for one reason or another. But that doesn’t break my heart much, because Jesse Eisenberg is still set to star. After his recent string of awesome films I’d say that I’ve developed a little bit of a man-crush on the Eisenberg, so if Leterrier manages to score Laurent he will be 2 for 2 with me. Eisenberg, Laurent, in a movie about the FBI tracking down bank robber magicians? Yeah, I’m down with that. Clash of the Titans who? [Variety]

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Even though Woody Allen’s latest film Midnight in Paris is still doing gangbusters in theaters, it’s time to start talking about his next project. I mean, the guy does one of these things a year, there’s no time to sit back and soak up any success. His next film, The Bop Decameron, sees him continuing his tour of Europe by filming in Rome. Makes sense, seeing as ever since he stopped filming in New York City we’ve already gotten movies from him set in England, Spain, and France. Why wouldn’t Italy be next on the itinerary? The films location isn’t the thing worth talking about though. What’s really newsworthy is that earlier today Allen made a show of announcing the official cast. His first announcement was that he himself would be returning to acting for this one, something we haven’t seen him do for half a decade, since 2006’s Scoop. The rest of the casting news is that The Bop Decameron will star, alphabetically, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penélope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, and Ellen Page. There are just too many actors I love, especially young actors, in that list to even begin dissecting why this is an awesome cast. I’ll just say I’m gushing at the thought of hearing Eisenberg deliver Woody dialogue and leave it at that. In addition to these names, Allen also says that the film will co-star Antonio Albanese, Fabio Armiliata, Alessandra Mastronardi, Ornella Muti, Flavio Parenti, Alison Pill, Riccardo Scamarcio and […]

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The last time I reported on Noah Baumbach’s next project, While We’re Young, it was with the unfortunate news that James Franco and Cate Blanchett had been forced to drop out of the film. At the time I held out hopes that Baumbach might be able to easily replace the actors with Jesse Eisenberg and Greta Gerwig, and it’s looking like at least half of my hopes and dreams are probably going to come true. While We’re Young is about a couple in their forties who are feeling alienated by their normal set of friends because they haven’t had any children, so they befriend a younger couple who kind of teaches them to rekindle their youth. Now that I know more about the plot of the film, having Gerwig replace Blanchett’s character wouldn’t make much sense age wise, but they seem to have found a different, equally awesome choice to fill her role that does work.

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