Jessica Biel

Playing for Keeps

The romantic comedy genre is a very forgiving place for performers and filmmakers. Rom-coms are relatively cheap to produce, and like horror films (which are far cheaper) they usually get a guaranteed audience on opening weekend, so it’s not uncommon to see actors and actresses on the downward slide in Hollywood find a home there. (The reverse works too, with actors on the rise getting a bump from a successful but otherwise low-key rom-coms.) The point is it’s always interesting to see who turns up in a romantic comedy that hits theaters with no expectations. George (Gerard Butler) was a big time soccer (the football kind) player once upon a time, but an ankle injury saw an end to his career and his stardom. His family also fell by the wayside at some point, but now he’s moved to the same town as his wife Stacie (Jessica Biel) and son Lewis (Noah Lomax) in the hopes of reconnecting with them both. He’s working towards a sportscasting career but takes a gig coaching Lewis’ soccer team while he waits for a call from ESPN. George tries to rekindle a life with his wife and son, but his recurring reckless behavior, the horn-dog soccer moms and Stacie’s Baxter of a fiance (James Tupper) may just derail his dream.

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The Tall Man - Jessica Biel

Editor’s note: The Tall Man creeps into theaters tomorrow, so hold your children close and enjoy this re-post of our SXSW review, originally posted on March 21, 2012. SXSW Midnighter pick The Tall Man falls into the category of the most aggravating kind of disposable movies. It’s not bad, there’s a certain level of competency, and a few of its ideas, if translated right, would make for an interesting film. Unfortunately, those ideas aren’t handled right, and the final result is a tedious, bland, and unsubtle thriller. Set in the small rundown town of Cold Rock, there lives the legend of “The Tall Man,” someone who’s been snatching kids away from their families. While there’s been no sighting or hard evidence of his existence, he’s still been talked up into a nightmarish figure. The government and anyone else of real importance hasn’t done anything about it since it’s a poor town. The lead of the film, Jessica Biel‘s Julia Denning, is a local free clinic nurse and a widow and, like everyone else, she fears even the very idea of The Tall Man. As expected, the legend comes and takes her child away.

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Let’s talk about what Playing For Keeps has going for it. It has a somewhat okay director in Gabriele Muccino (The Pursuit of Happyness). It has a talented cast with Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman, Dennis Quaid, and Judy Greer. It has a script from the guy who wrote So I Married An Axe Murderer (that is a plus, because that film is still funny). But it’s also directed by the guy who directed Seven Pounds (schmaltz, sap, with added jellyfish). And it only imagines that Butler is capable of playing a soccer-playing lothario and that Zeta-Jones can only be a deranged maneater. And, yeah, it also comes to us with a script by the guy who has only a story by credit on, of all things, In the Army Now. Let’s take it to the trailer!

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Director Len Wiseman made the 21st Century remake of Total Recall we kind of expected. It’s big, flashy, and in modern remake/reboot fashion it’s also gritty & grounded. Sure Wiseman nicely packed three-breasted women into his PG-13 picture, but this isn’t a movie fit for Kuato, small prostitutes firing off machine guns, and Arnold Schwarzenegger making funny faces. There’s little room for comedy in the futuristic world Wiseman has built. Compared to his previous films, it’s the biggest sort he’s created thus far. With a budget of $125 million — which, as Wiseman points out, has been falsely reported as being $200 million — the director has also made a blockbuster about as big as one can get. That scope isn’t what drew the Underworld filmmaker, but the identity crisis at the film’s core is. Wiseman set out to make a personal detective tale which happens to be set in a big, futuristic world. Here’s what Total Recall director Len Wiseman had to say about not going big for the sake of big, the influence of The Fugitive, and how certain Roland Emmerich classics served as his film school:

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Let’s get this out of the way – there’s quite a bit different about Len Wiseman‘s remake of Paul Verhoeven‘s Total Recall. Although the film hasn’t exactly been greeted with the most pleasant of critical responses thus far, one thing you can’t criticize the film for is being a carbon copy of the 1990 film. Obviously missing is the iconic Kuato and the setting of Mars, but also absent from the film is a widely reported appearance by Ethan Hawke. Although it sounds like Wiseman’s remake lost a sizable amount of material in the editing bay – considering there is a 17-minute-longer director’s cut in the works – Mars and Kuato never even made it past the script stage. While speaking with Wiseman yesterday, he told us why there is no Mars, no appearance or mention of Kuato, and why you won’t see Ethan Hawke’s brief role in the theatrical cut:

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As the cinematic summer season winds to a close, audiences everywhere will soon get to relive the joy of memory implantation, three-boobed ladies, and governmental double-cross. No, no, it’s not The Bourne Legacy (is anyone triple-stacked in that? Let’s hope so!), it’s Len Wiseman‘s take on Total Recall. This time around, no one goes to Mars and Ahnuld is nowhere to be found, instead Colin Farrell takes over as the mystified and misplaced everyman Douglas Quaid whose fun-time mind-trip ends up with some seriously unexpected consequences. Last weekend, Beverly Hills’ own Four Seasons Hotel played host to scads of press primed to interview the Total Recall crew about such things as what they’d want Rekall to implant in their minds, what it was like working with a married couple, and how the film’s lovely lady stars stay so young-looking. Of course, there were also interesting questions asked at the junket, and director Wiseman and his stars Farrell, Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale, and Bryan Cranston answered those, too. And also Cranston talked about Breaking Bad for twenty minutes and we all took it in, starry-eyed. After the break, check out 21 we learned at the Total Recall junket, from how Cranston thinks BB will end, what element of the film stands out as the major difference between it and the original (hint: it’s not that the film doesn’t go to Mars), what Biel knows about the status of David O. Russell’s Nailed, and the special cameo that Wiseman built into the film […]

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Total Recall

Here we are, the downturn of one of the most hyped cinematic summers in recent memory. Now, we’ll be getting all the films the studios weren’t quite sure would make it during the May-July run. We’ll be seeing a lot of these titles over the next two weeks…two weeks…two weeks. To kick off the Gilligan’s-Island-worthy “and the rest” season is Len Wiseman‘s remake of Paul Verhoeven‘s Total Recall. Based on the book, “The Future Hates You And Will Kill Your Face” by Philip K. FunnyLastName. No, it was actually (of course) Philip K. Dick‘s ‘We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.” The basic premise is largely the same as it was in the before time, the Schwarzenegger longlong ago. A man trudging through a humdrum existence (Colin Farrell‘s Quaid), realizes he lives in futurey times and can have memories of a more exciting existences slam-packed into his brain via a company called Rekall. Trouble is that in so slam-packing, the company accidentally pops the top on a whole pickle jar of new skill sets and suggests that the life he currently knows may be a lie. The big difference of course between the original Total Recall movie and the remake is a profound reduction in the set pieces that take place on the planet Mars. That is to say, no part of the remake takes place on the planet Mars. This is where geeks like me would usually throw a conniption, or at the very least a strongly-worded hissy fit. […]

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Svetlana Khodchenkova as Viper?

It was recently reported that Hugh Jackman’s upcoming solo run at a superhero movie, The Wolverine, was looking to include the green-haired, Hydra-trained, poisons expert Viper as one of its main villains. The talk at the time was that Jessica Biel had been offered the role, but soon after word broke that negotiations with the actress hadn’t gone so well, and she probably wasn’t going to be an option going forward. This, of course, left those in charge with a conundrum. Word had gotten out about one of their big villains, but they didn’t have an actress to announce as playing the part. What to do? Well, according to Twitch, they’ve moved their focus over to a Russian actress named Svetlana Khodchenkova. Though she’s mostly done work in her native country up to this point, many English-speaking audiences will remember Khodchenkova from her role in last year’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, where she received the great honor of getting to smooch on Tom Hardy.

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UPDATE: Collider now reports that “talks have broken down” between Biel’s people and the studio, so Biel is no longer in the running for the role. After a handful of announcements came out a few days ago filling the roles of Hugh Jackman’s new love, father-in-law, partner, and arch-enemy for his upcoming Japan-based adventure The Wolverine, it looked like all of the big parts in this film were probably close to being taken. But some new casting news that hit today might be the biggest yet. Twitch reported earlier in the day that director James Mangold and company had offered Jessica Biel the role of the villainous Viper, and Deadline Madripoor has since taken things a step further and reported that she’s officially been cast. So, who is the Viper? She’s a Marvel villain with a long history and complex relationships with several of the other characters who appear in this story. Part terrorist, part secret agent, Viper was an operative trained by the evil organization Hydra, who you might remember as appearing in last year’s Captain America: The First Avenger. She has no real superpowers, but she’s ridiculously good at all things deadly, with poisons being something of a specialty. Think of her as a more evil, less Russian version of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow.

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The Tall Man - Jessica Biel

Remember that old argument that foreign directors who make the jump to English-language and/or Hollywood studio films, usually make something that’s not so good? Pascal Laugier (Martyrs) might be adding more proof to that theory. The international trailer for The Tall Man (aka The Secret) features Jessica Biel trying to find her son after he’s taken, possibly, by a sort of urban legend who wears a big black cloak and could probably play professional basketball. It’s pretty bland, but it might just be bitterness that this isn’t that Angus Scrimm documentary everybody’s been clamoring for. Check it out for yourself:

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Earlier today, our own dapper man Nathan Adams predicted that Rian Johnson’s Looper could go down as the best action picture of the year. Now we got a trailer for another upcoming sci-fi actioner: Total Recall, which looks to give that time travel hitman tale a challenge in the trailer set piece count. Based on these trailers, if Looper is going to be 2012’s thinking man’s sci-fi picture, then Len Wiseman‘s remake shall take the honor of being this year’s most expensive ADD teen boy movie. A few months ago, Wiseman told us he wanted to make a “dangerous mind trip” with Total Recall, but, based on what Sony is selling, he really made a teenage boy’s ultimate wish-fulfillment – beautiful gals, a hunky lead as their P.O.V., robots, three-breasted ladies, and a frustrated Bryan Cranston. Take a look after the jump!

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More than a few opinions were changed about the upcoming Total Recall when that trailer hit last month. The big summer sci-fi blockbuster’s preview sold an epic scope, the chance to explore a new world, and a fresh take on Philip K. Dick‘s story. Gone was Mars, the mutants, and a body builder acting like a killing machine. What director Len Wiseman is bringing to the table is more in line with the tone of Dick’s short story: serious, heady sci-fi. Wiseman has unquestionably made a film that will contain its fair share of explosions and one-liners, but the mystery of Douglas Quaid is what piqued the Live Free or Die Hard filmmaker’s interest the most. “Who am I?” is a quintessential life question, so imagine the stakes of having to answer that while being chased down and shot at. Speaking with Wiseman, the busy director discussed his reliance on practical effects, building an entire world without too many talking heads, and the identity crisis Douglas Quaid faces.

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It’s fair to say the reception for the Total Recall trailer has been positive. Nathan Adams notably went over the moon for it, declaring the visuals “mind-blowing.” While that might a bit extreme, the trailer was pretty damn cool, and certainly more impressive than most skeptics were expecting. Now, courtesy of MTV, director Len Wiseman provides a commentary for the trailer, in which he discusses the world of the film, the unique opium den take on Recall, and how that one shot is an all-practical effect.

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Colin Farrell in Total Recall

When it first got announced that they were going to remake Paul Verhoeven’s action/sci-fi classic Total Recall, the collective groans of film fans could be heard the world over. If there was ever an action movie full of iconic imagery and quotable lines that didn’t need to be sullied, it was that Arnold Schwarzenegger-starring original. This remake was going to star a pipsqueak like Colin Farrell instead of a mountain of muscle like Arnie, nobody was going to be getting their asses to Mars, and there wasn’t even any confirmation that it would include a three-boobed hooker. Who needed it? Well, after watching the first full-length trailer, I’d say that anybody who’s ever been a fan of adrenaline pumping action, jaw dropping special effects, sprawling future cities, the feminine wiles of Kate Beckinsale or Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston acting grizzled, guns, explosions, or Stormtroopers needs this movie. Check out the trailer and be blown away:

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This Sunday! There will be a thing on the Internet! That we all might be interested to see! But here is some of it now! The teaser trailer has somewhat recently become quite the en vogue way to heighten anticipation for films – throw up a few splashy title cards, dice in some scenes that could (or could not) be important to the film, bate viewers for the full trailer. It’s a fair way to market stuff, and when it works, it really works – like in this teaser trailer for Len Wiseman‘s take on Total Recall. Wiseman’s film is “inspired anew” by Philip K. Dick’s short story, “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale,” and it stars Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, and Bryan Cranston. While it’s hard to get too much of a feel for an entire production from a thirty-second spot that’s peppered with reminders to watch for the full trailer this Sunday, Wiseman’s film at least looks to be a bit more serious and hardcore than Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 film. And, of course, it appears to come complete with Farrell jumping on stuff, like, all the time. The teaser trailer won’t make you wish you had three hands, but it will certainly make you want to see more.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr hunkers down and braces for award season. He also prepares for an onslaught of celebrity guest stars in New Year’s Eve, which features a poster that looks like a “Friends available to chat” sidebar on Facebook. In order to watch all the movies for the week, Kevin hires the only babysitter available… Jonah Hill. What could possibly go wrong with that? Fortunately this frees him up to see some of the smaller releases, like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, W.E. and I Melt with You. And he wraps up the week wondering why everyone needs to talk about him.

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Here’s something sort of bizarre – director Garry Marshall and writer Katherine Fugate‘s latest star-crammed desecration of random, non-religious holidays is not monumentally or irremediably terrible. It is also not good, but it’s certainly better than its predecessor, the rancid Valentine’s Day (though that’s not saying much). New Year’s Eve is not so much a film as a gimmick – tons of stars! lots of plots! all kind of connected! just one day! – and such a gimmick can yield some unexpectedly positive results just as often as it can ending up being simply terrible entertainment not worthy of being called cinema. New Year’s Eve is not so much a film as a two-hour piece of wish fulfillment for the sort of people who read US Weekly on, well, a weekly basis. Unlike Valentine’s Day, its very existence is not offensive, but it’s bloated and kind of boring and really, just really, tremendously unnecessary.

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The horror…the horror… The best part about this poster for New Year’s Eve is either that it features all of the names and pictures of the actors, but not in the same order, or that the catchphrase “Let The Countdown Begin” lets us know that it’s a Doomsday Movie. Garry Marshall, who should be ashamed of himself for directing Valentine’s Day, proves once and for all that he owes some serious men down at the race track by stepping up to direct this sequel which seeks to squeeze even less screen time out for even more famous faces. Also, Homeless Hector Elizondo is kind of cruel considering they made everyone else look halfway decent (except for Ashton Kutcher who clearly didn’t show up for a photo shoot and forced the marketing department to find a paparazzi shot of him smiling). Enough with the words! Check it out for yourself, and feel free to largify it by clicking (if you dare):

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If the multiple storylines, loose connections, and a total lack of chemistry of Valentine’s Day was simply not enough for you, director Garry Marshall has yet another holiday-themed film for the masses – twice the storylines! twice the loose connections! twice the total lack of chemistry! Wait, that math isn’t right. Even less chemistry! Everyone, meet New Year’s Eve. Like last year’s chillingly empty Valentine’s Day, Marshall’s latest film tracks a group of romantically challenged love losers across the course of one holiday. Will they find love? Will I hiss in the theater again? When is he making Flag Day? New Year’s Eve moves the action to New York City, though it inexplicably features two stars of VD (Ashton Kutcher and Jessica Biel) who appear to be playing totally different roles than in the previous film. If that hints at some sort of alternate universe, well, that’s still not very interesting to me. The really strange part about this trailer is the sense it gives off that all of its many stars were thrown into a blender, set to “frappe,” and poured out onto the pages of the script. How else can we possibly account for a film that pairs up Katherine Heigl with Jon Bon Jovi, Michelle Pfeiffer with Zac Efron, Lea Michele with Ashton Kutcher, or Jessica Biel with Seth Meyers? And that’s only about a quarter of the cast, everyone else flew by so quickly that my own mother could be in this film, and I wouldn’t […]

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But which one of them will have a human growing out of their stomach? Collider is confirming that Kate Beckinsale is officially signed for Total Recall as Colin Farrell’s character’s wife. The more cynical of the world might believe that it’s simply because her husband Len Wiseman is directing that she got the part, but it might also have to do with her being incredibly attractive and outstanding in roles like this. Plus, with the production starting next week, they’ve secured Jessica Biel to play a woman that Farrell’s character meets in the “spy world.” As if that weren’t enough to get the blood flowing, The Hollywood Reporter is announcing Bill Nighy will be re-teaming with Wiseman and Beckinsale to play Quatto – the leader of an underground resistance. To play catch up, this incarnation of the Phillip K. Dick story will never make it to Mars. Instead, it will focus more on Quaid (Farrell), a factory worker who believes he is spying for one of the two major world governments. From the sound of it, Wiseman and company might be making it more along the lines of a confusing mystery thriller – so more Minority Report than, you know, Total Recall. This cast is strong, and sticking closer to Dick might make this re-adaptation one actually worth making.

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