Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix in The Master

Isn’t it nice to know that no matter the chaos of the universe, Paul Thomas Anderson is out there making movies? Amidst a an ebbing sea of hype and disappointment, he’s out there, takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners. The second trailer for his forthcoming film, The Master, is an incredible example of cinematography and contemplative acting from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix. Plus, Amy Adams round out the mix. The movie focuses on Hoffman’s religious icon known as “The Master” as he builds a relationship with Phoenix’s character Freddie – a drifter who becomes his assistant. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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Culture Warrior

A few weeks ago, as the indie group Here We Go Magic traveled through Ohio, they encountered a tall, skinny hitchhiker who they quickly recognized to be the inimitable filmmaker/public personality/pencil-thin mustache enthusiast John Waters. The band members took pictures of themselves with Waters and sent them out to the twittersphere. John Waters’s presence in their van did not transform into a difficult-to-believe apocryphal story between friends over drinks, nor did it grow into the stuff of urban legend, but instead became a certified true web event simultaneous to the band’s immediate experience of it. For any fan of the ever-captivating and unique Waters, this unlikely scenario which was still somehow consistent with Waters’s personality was truly bizarre, interesting, funny, and perhaps even enviable. But Mr. Waters’s is simply the most recent in a string of out-of-the-ordinary celebrity encounters. Celebrity has changed greatly over the past few decades. Whereas stars of film, television, and popular music formerly dominated the imaginations of their public through their creative output and carefully orchestrated public personae (through interviews, red carpet appearances, etc.), today’s celebrities are characterized more by their public personae than any output to warrant it. The Kardashians, the Hiltons, and the VH1 reality stars of the world are simply famous for being famous (or, more accurately, for being born into incredible wealth). There is no longer a sense that one earns fame through creating something or contributing to culture.

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Joaquin Phoenix in The Master

Though everything we’ve heard about Paul Thomas Anderson’s upcoming project, The Master, paints it as being a Philip Seymour Hoffman-starring story about the head of a new religion, its new teaser trailer doesn’t give us any indication that this is the case. There’s no mention of religion, no scenes of cult-like indoctrination, and not even a glimpse of Philip Seymour Hoffman. What it does give us is a conversation between military personnel and Joaquin Phoenix, who’s playing a 50s-era serviceman who seems to be having some mental problems. Phoenix has a glint in his eye, a glow to his smile, and a hole in his memory – and it all adds up to a scene that manages to build a ton of tension and mounds of menace without ever actually showing us anything dangerous or getting spooky with the music. It’s a good example of how thoroughly a great filmmaker and a talented actor can manipulate your emotions, even while being completely subtle.

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Spike Jonze’s upcoming follow-up to Where the Wild Things Are doesn’t yet have a title, but it has a cast in place. Or, at least, it did. A while back we reported that Jonze’s next film was going to be about a man who falls in love with a computer voice, a sort of forward looking commentary on the dangers of developing a Siri fetish. Joaquin Phoenix was already on board as the male lead, and Carey Mulligan, Amy Adams, and Samantha Morton were negotiating to come on in other capacities. The negotiations stuck, because all three ladies became official members of the cast. But now that’s changed. According to Variety, Mulligan has been forced to drop out of the film due to scheduling conflicts. All is not lost, however. Signing up Adams and Morton is still a pretty good haul in and of itself, and there’s word that Jonze is in final negotiations to recruit a more than acceptable replacement for Mulligan.

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Paul Thomas Anderson

Yesterday, I ragged all over the hiring of Kenneth Brangah to helm the long-gestating Jack Ryan prequel, mainly because I don’t believe that the film will ever happen and I’m not necessarily sure that I care if it does – but not every long-talked-about project is a bust, not every heavily touted production is destined to never come to fruition. Some do. And some of them are more than worth the wait. Paul Thomas Anderson‘s maybe it is/maybe it isn’t Scientology feature, The Master, has been buzzed about for awhile now – and it’s hit some hurdles on it way to the screen. But that doesn’t mean that this Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, and Amy Adams-starring feature isn’t going to be great – in fact, I’ll be shocked if it’s not. With a resume like Anderson’s (including no less than Boogie Nights, Punch-Drunk Love, Magnolia, and There Will Be Blood ), a talented cast, and a compelling plot, it’s looking like a can’t-miss (which is why it landed on our most anticipated list for the year). But, when, oh when can we expect to see it?

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We’ve been in need of a new Spike Jonze feature since 2009’s Where the Wild Things Are, and it looks as if the filmmaker is planning an interesting new film with a stellar cast. The untitled feature (written and to be directed by Jonze) will center on a man “who falls in love with the voice of a computer, similar to the Siri feature on the new iPhone.” With Joaquin Phoenix already on board, we can only guess that he’ll play that love-struck techno-wonk, but just who of the reported three new female cast members would play the tantalizing voice? Deadline Cupertino reports that Carey Mulligan, Amy Adams, and Samantha Morton are all in talks to star in the film alongside Phoenix. My bet for the voice? Adams, because who else has the same pep and charm? Also adding to my complete speculation – the fact that Morton and Mulligan bare a striking resemblance to each other that I cannot help but think would work quite well in the “real world” confines of the film. This project is not to be confused with another Jonze film  that will star Phoenix and Mulligan – that’s the one that is being penned by Charlie Kaufman. That film is reportedly “a satire about how world leaders gather to figure out all the seismic events that will take place in the worlds, from oil prices to wars that will be waged,” which sounds particularly wonderful.

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Over Under: A New Perspective on Films New and Old

Back in ’82 this little movie came out about a boy who found an alien in his backyard. It was called E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. Ever heard of it? He phoned home and whatnot? This was basically the movie that solidified Steven Spielberg as being not just a guy who was making great movies everybody liked, but as being the most important director in the world: the guy. When you see that Amblin Entertainment logo you know you’re in for a certain kind of movie designed to appeal to everyone, and it’s an image from E.T. that gets the job done. Russkies came out in ’87, when the outbreak of Spielberg imitator movies about kids going on adventures was in full swing. This one is about a group of kids who find a Russian naval officer who has washed up on the coast of their Florida town. Even Spielberg knockoffs as bad as Mac and Me still get mentioned when people start talking about the good old days of the 80s, when family programming was king, but I’ve never in my life heard anyone bring up Russkies. Considering two of the main three kids in this movie are a young Joaquin Phoenix (pre-hobo beard) and Peter Billingsley (pretty much the king of 80s nostalgia), how is this movie completely forgotten?

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On Halloween night, 1993 River Phoenix cut his own life and acting career short when he died of a drug overdose outside The Viper Room in West Hollywood. Before he died, he had made a strong mark on the movie world with performances in Stand By Me, My Own Private Idaho and an Oscar nomination for his role in Running On Empty. Phoenix appeared in three films that were released in 1993, but there was one left unfinished – a thriller called Dark Blood that dealt with the long-term effects of nuclear testing and saw Phoenix playing a hermit widower living out in the desert awaiting the end of the world. Eighteen years later, director George Sluizer (The Vanishing) is announcing that he plans on editing the film into a completed print and releasing it sometime in 2012. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sluizer plans on requesting that Joaquin Phoenix do some voice over work as a stand in for his late brother. It will be wonderful to see River Phoenix on screen again, but beyond the curiosity here, the film doesn’t sound particularly remarkable. Sluizer had an uneven career, and the script for Dark Blood was written by Jim Barton – who has 5 lesser works to his name. However, the film co-stars Jonathan Pryce and Judy Davis, and there’s always the chance that Sluizer can create something as electric as The Vanishing once again.

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The last time I heard some news about Paul Thomas Anderson, he had two possible projects that he was working on, and heiress Megan Ellison was going to help him finance them. There’s big news on that front as The Weinstein Company has won the rights to distribute the religious drama Anderson has written that was once titled The Master. Whether or not that will remain the film’s title is unknown, as it has reportedly undergone some serious rewrites, but it is now confirmed as Anderson’s next film. The project already has Philip Seymour Hoffman set to star as the creator of a new religion in post WWII America. The movie seems to explore the beginnings of a cult movement, and is said to have a parallel or two to the life of L. Ron Hubbard and his founding of Scientology. Perhaps further exploring the theme of lost souls, Anderson has also cast Joaquin Phoenix, who has recently returned to acting after a very public and very fake meltdown. Other than that, not too many details are known, but what else do we need? All you have to tell me is that PT Anderson is making another movie and I’m on board. Get Hoffman in a starring role and I’m positively salivating. A release date for this one can’t come soon enough, no matter what it ends up being called. [Deadline Tilden]

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What is Movie News After Dark? For tonight at least, it will be your gentle companion. Due to it being a little on the late side, it will be brief and to the point. The point being all the audio/visual goodness that it can provide in one sitting. Fear not, generation of non-readers, there will be video! Tonight’s lead is something you’ll wish you could wipe away from your memory banks moments after you see it (so right about now), a first look at the stage production “Batman Live.” Clearly drawn from the recesses of Joel Schumacher’s mind, buried somewhere alongside his other horrid mistakes, is the look and feel of this London-set ‘stravaganza. God save the Queen, and The Dark Knight.

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Culture Warrior

Dear Mr. Franco, Before I say anything else, I just want to say, at the risk of sounding like a brown-nosing blogger writing a hypothetical letter to a movie star who most definitely will not read it, that I actually do appreciate what you’re trying to do. Many people would start a post like this heavy on the snark and in total dismissal of a star’s decision to construct their career as performance art. But I don’t. I think it’s kind of interesting. Kind of. We know you’re talented. And we know you like to explore a variety of avenues of expression. It’s not just that you’re actor, but an actor who can play Aron Ralston and Alan Ginsberg, convincingly, in the same year. It’s not just that you’re a filmmaker, but the filmmaker that made Saturday Night, which is more enjoyable than anything SNL has produced in years. It’s not just that you’re pursuing a PhD, but…well, I’m actually not familiar with your scholarship, but I’m sure you’ll publish something someday. Anyway, this is to say I’m writing from the perspective of a reluctant fan. But after Sunday night, you and everybody that respects you deserves a damn break.

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As the only literate Reject, it’s my duty to find the latest, the greatest and the untouched classics that would make great source material for film adaptations. I read so you don’t have to. “Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.” I have no idea what a bumblepuppy is, but Neil Postman was right to point out that while Orwell (and especially his “1984”) cautioned against tyrannical thought-police shoving rats in our faces to get us to comply, Aldous Huxley was more concerned with a governmental structure that shoved pleasure and an overload of information and distraction in our faces to get us to comply. Orwell is what happens post-apocalyptically. Huxley is what happens when society prospers beyond our wildest dreams. It’s unclear why a feature film has never been made of “Brave New World.” It’s baffling actually because the material there is so rich. With the completely average trailer for Atlas Shrugged out this week, it got me thinking about the classic philosophical novel that I identify with the most, what shaped my thinking most when I was younger, and the prospect of that novel becoming a movie. Here’s how I’d want to see it done, and in the effort to make it as viable as possible, my dreamcasting is all also economically viable for any studio who would take the chance on this brand. In […]

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James Franco is talking this week about the casting of his upcoming adaptation of the William Faulkner novel As I Lay Dying. Paul Dano appears to be involved, and Franco mentions that he wants Michael Shannon, Joaquin Phoenix, and Richard Jenkins to sign on as well; but who is on officially and who isn’t doesn’t seem to be exactly clear. That would be a pretty solid cast if Franco gets his way, but would it be enough to get audiences to sit through Faulkner?

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr announces that he is quitting his career as a film critic and plans to start a new career crooning to the tunes of Zamphir and his pan flute. Frank Stallone, the less-famous brother of an A-list actor, will be shooting a documentary of the entire thing. However, as one last hurrah, Kevin cracks some knuckles with his ruler and grades the new films this week, Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D and I’m Still Here. (Yes, he is aware that it’s Bella Swan’s birthday this weekend, but haven’t we had enough Twilight for a while?)

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Technically speaking, it’s impossible to return to a place you’ve never left, and with a movie coming out this weekend and more projects possibly on the way, it wouldn’t appear as if Joaquin Phoenix ever really went anywhere. The least he could have done was signed a contract with the Chicago White Sox and played farm league for a while. The point is, now that I’m Still Here is coming out and press for it (read: acting strange) will be over soon, expect to hear about which projects Phoenix is signing on for. He’s turned down more than a few lately – Poe biopic The Raven, the role of author Thomas Wolfe in Genius, a comedic villain opposite Jonah Hill in The Sitter, and an indie documentary about beard styles that I swear we called him about a hundred times – but he’s still attached to play a foot fetishist (so it’s either a Tarantino biopic or a film about Hitchcock) for Secretary director Steven Shainberg. Ladies and Gentlemen, Joaquin Phoenix has not left the building. [THR]

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Whether it’s fake or not, it seems hilarious. That’s all the great people of this planet care about. I’m Still Here has gotten far more press than it would have gotten otherwise, but the possibly fake documentary about Joaquin Phoenix trading in his acting career for a life in the rap community continues to deliver on the insane behavior front. Take, for example, this new clip where Joaquin Phoenix tells P. Diddy that he has a garage set up with Pro Tools. Apparently, that’s not enough to make a hit record.

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If one of the things on your bucket list is to see Joaquin Phoenix playing Zach Galifianakis playing Joaquin Phoenix, then this teaser trailer should have you running to grab your scratching-out pen. Many, many, many words have been written about the (probably fake) documentary I’m Still Here which chronicles the end of Joaquin Phoenix’s acting career and his struggle to turn it into a rapping career. However, none of those words are adequate enough to paint the word poem that is this self-righteous pile of teaser trailer.

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There’s been a ton of talk today about who came off looking like a jackass in the great public debate between Marvel and Edward Norton. However, the one key thing that Marvel is counting on is if you’ll head to the theaters even without Norton coming back for Avengers. As a business decision, all of the talk so far means nothing if butts are still in seats. Will yours be there? And are you more interested to be there if Joaquin Phoenix is Hulking out?

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If your eyebrow is raised from the news floating over the weekend that Edward Norton will not be returning to the Marvel fold as the lovable green menace for The Avengers, you’re probably not alone. We fans have been left standing in flustered silence at several of Marvel’s decisions, but this one might be the most nonsensical from an outsider’s point of view. We tried to gain some perspective, but my calls to Marvel went unreturned – either because they don’t care to comment or because I actually called a local pizza parlor to order lunch instead. Luckily, the studio released an incendiary statement and, like an old, shotgun-wielding man being robbed, Edward Norton fired back in a must-read pair of dueling press releases.

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Try reading that headline non-metaphorically. The reviews aren’t even in yet. The man literally gets defecated on.

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published: 12.23.2014
B+
published: 12.22.2014
C-
published: 12.19.2014
A-


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