Jon Favreau

The Jungle Book

It’s about to be, well, a jungle out there (sorry) as both Walt Disney Pictures and Warner Bros. are hellbent on giving the world a new version of The Jungle Book. So, yes, two versions of The Jungle Book, a beloved children’s book that has already been turned into a movie plenty of times before. But while we wait to hear more about about Andy Serkis‘ feature (that’s the Warner Bros. film, and one that is apparently set to be titled Jungle Book: Origins, because it sounds appropriately sci-fi, oh wait, what?), Jon Favreau‘s set-to-be-CGI-heavy take on the material continues to know it out of the park when it comes to casting. The latest addition to the cast — Bill Murray as Baloo, come on, people – just proves that, no matter what the final outcome is, this new Jungle Book has a solid lineup of talent behind it. But who is everyone playing? Baloo is the bear, right? What’s a Kaa? Who is Raksha? We got you on this. It’s time to relive your childhood.

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Christopher Walken in The Country Bears

The Jungle Book is seriously crushing the casting game right now. This morning, Deadline revealed that two new actors have come aboard the all-singing, all-dancing, all-CG wildlife pic directed by Jon Favreau (as opposed to the other one, coming from Andy Serkis). Giancarlo Esposito, best known for portraying a dark-universe Colonel Sanders on Breaking Bad, will play the wolf Akela. And Christopher Walken, best known for a lifetime of skeezing people out by being Christopher Walken, will play the orangutan King Louie. Those two extra-talented thespians join Ben Kingsley as the panther Bagheera (yes, splendid), Lupita Nyong’o as mother wolf Raksha (really, really great), Scarlett Johansson as the python Kaa (this is perfect) and Idris Elba as the film’s antagonist, the tiger Shere Khan (good god yes). Also, there’s some newcomer named Neel Sethi playing Mowgli, but  he is not a well-loved Hollywood star voicing an extremely appropriate animal character. Temper your excitement accordingly.

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Godzilla 2014

In order to convince David Straithairn’s Admiral Stenz not to use nuclear power to annihilate the giant behemoths quickly approaching American soil, Ken Watanabe’s Dr. Serizawa brandishes a deceivingly quotidian object: a stopped pocket watch. It was Dr. Serizawa’s father’s during the bombing of Hiroshima, an instructive moment in history now literally frozen in time as a cautionary token. Though Ken Watanabe looks nowhere near 70, my (I thought, reasonable) assumption during this scene of Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla was that Dr. Serizawa’s father had immediately perished alongside tens of thousands of others during the infamous 1945 atomic bombing. But regardless of this emblem’s status as a memento of death on a massive scale, that Dr. Serizawa’s father survived Hiroshima and Dr. Serizawa is a healthy mid-50s man now seems far more likely considering this film’s view of tragedy. Despite its keeping with the summer movie tradition of mass destruction, despite its conflagration of images evoking recent tragedies from the Fukushima to Katrina, and despite updating a film 60 years its junior that was in no way afraid of dealing with violent devastation head-on, 2014’s Godzilla is not a monster movie about understanding tragedy. It is instead a rather strange film about survivors, and it demonstrates how disingenuously low-stakes studio summer movies have become.

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Open Road Films

If someone said in 2001, “I bet this Jon Favreau guy — the star, writer, and director of Made – is going to help turn Marvel into one of the most successful film studios ever,” you probably would’ve written them off as insane. When you think about it, though, Favreau exhibited a voice for character, story and comedy in Made and Swingers that was well-suited for the Marvel universe. His sensibility made Iron Man a hit, impacting the tone and spirit of the Marvel films that followed. After his one-two punch at Marvel and a crack at a high-concept western, Favreau has returned to his roots with Chef, a film about a creatively unsatisfied cook, Carl Casper (Favreau), who also has to reconnect with his son. Some say the film is really about a filmmaker frustrated by the system, but, first and foremost, it deals with the important choices in life a creative has to make. “I knew I wanted to talk about the balance of career and family,” Favreau tells us. “By the time you hit my age, those little decisions you’ve made really affect your life and you think, ‘How did I end up here?’ A lot of people are confused by where they land. Often when you put all your effort into your career, it’s not as satisfying, because you don’t have that base and foundation.” What is success without people to share it with? It’s an age old theme, but it’s something that Favreau hopes resonates.

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Jon Favreau and Aaron Franklin in Chef

Editor’s note: Our review of Chef originally ran during this year’s SXSW film festival, but we’re re-running it now as the film opens in theaters. During his introduction of his new movie Chef on opening night of the SXSW Film Festival, Jon Favreau talked at length about how nice it was to be able to make a movie that is personal, to be inspired to make something that didn’t have to appeal to every demographic, as is the requirement placed upon so many blockbusters. He talked about being so inspired in a way that he hadn’t seen since Swingers. This got some applause, for sure, from an audience anxious to see him bring that kind of film. Because when he said that it was nice to make a movie that would appeal to a smaller, more passionate audience, it was almost as if he had made it for that particular audience. It is a movie about good food and music with a cameo from Austin’s favorite city (Austin), after all. The only problem is that with the sweetness with which Favreau has imbued his latest movie comes a bit of bitterness toward online critics, an aged view of social media and the Internet and a movie that comes away from the wreck of its conflict too clean for its own good. All things that, if they weren’t so drunk on BBQ, wouldn’t get by such an audience.

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Chef trailer

“Be an artist on your own time! It’s my restaurant!” Metaphors are cool, okay? Similes and parallels and references are awesome literary devices that can often work wonders when translated into different realms of art — like filmmaking, where traditionally written nods to other things and people and senses can be portrayed visually. Or, in the case of Jon Favreau‘s Chef, they can be shown quite overtly, because there’s little doubt that the filmmaker’s latest outing is its own giant reference to the Hollywood machine that he is still a part of. Favreau pulls triple duty on the film — he wrote it, directed it, and stars in it — and it’s clearly a passion project for him. But how much of it has he pulled from his own life? In the film, Chef Carl Casper (Favreau) is a talented cook who gives into the demands of his boring boss (played by Dustin Hoffman, which sounds awesome) and subsequently biffs things big time. An unfavorable review sinks Carl, and he attempts to rebuild his life and career — one ruined by critics and people who don’t want to let him do his own thing — by setting out to make his own food in a rehabbed little food truck. The food truck may as well be the indie movie of the chef scene, and Hoffman might as well be wearing a shirt that says “executive producer” on it. See what Favreau’s cooked up (and how many parallels you can find with Hollywood) with the very first […]

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elementstruth-1

Like many readers of this site, I love comic books. I grew up reading them, so when Hollywood finally started to really get superhero movies right in the mid-to-late 2000s, I was overjoyed. Of course, I had been enjoying superhero movies long before Iron Man and The Dark Knight. As a child of the 70s and 80s, I grew up watching superheroes on television and in the movies when radiation was the key element of heroic transformation and spandex was the fashion standard. Going back to the 80s, these comic book movies have their own Kryptonite that causes problems for them. It seems that one of the best ways around a mysterious substance or miracle solution is to encounter an unknown element, or to discover a new one if you don’t have the expertise to just create it in your own home laboratory. And this got me thinking… where do all these unknown and new elements come from?

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The Jungle Book

Over the summer, it was announced that Disney would be opening their vault and re-introducing the world to one of its most beloved classics, The Jungle Book, in the form of a trendy live-action adaptation. I like to imagine that the Disney vault is an actual place in Anaheim guarded by Walt’s cryogenically frozen body, but that’s a theory I should save for my B-movie. Now, The Hollywood Reporter is back with more news about the project, namely that Jon Favreau is in talks with the studio to direct. Favreau is no stranger to directing for the Disney family. After all, he’s the man behind the Iron Man franchise and Elf. After leaving the nest to make an indie called Chef, Favreau has heard the sweet call of the House of Mouse once more, to helm the remake written by Justin Marks. Here’s the thing, though: we all know that The Jungle Book got a delightful live-action adaptation in 1994, right? Mowgli, Baloo, and Bagheera were all brought to life with Cary Elwes, Sam Neill, Lena Headey and John Cleese in supporting roles. John Cleese. Disney has a bit of a thing for turning their animated gems into vehicles with flesh-and-blood movie stars. There haven’t been many, but the list is continuing to expand. After The Jungle Book, 101 Dalmatians had its dog day in 1996 with the star-studded cast of the truly terrifying Glenn Close, her henchmen Mark Williams and Hugh Laurie and an amiable Jeff Daniels as Pongo’s dad Roger. Not […]

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ironman3-commentary1

Much like The Avengers last summer, Iron Man 3 was the undisputed box office champion of the season in 2013. Building off the good buzz from The Avengers and the events in the end of that movie, Iron Man 3 offered the new director of the series Shane Black a chance to take Tony Stark to new places. Namely, he got him out of the Iron Man suit and toyed with the notion that Tony Stark was the real hero, even without all the technology. Following up two massive movies before it, and one of the biggest box office successes in history as an ensemble piece, Iron Man 3 was still a bit of a gamble. It paid off for all the parties involved. However, when Black and his co-writer Drew Pearce recorded their commentary to the film, the film had not yet proved itself completely. They had only been open for a week overseas, with the American opening on the horizon. Sure, it was a huge success at that point outside of the U.S., but so was Battleship. Still, Black and Pearce move through the commentary with confidence that it’s a hit, and that gives them the stones to explain why they chose to change some character elements from the original source material and why there were about as many revisions to the scripts as revisions to the Iron Man suit in Tony’s basement. Iron Man 3 comes out on DVD and Blu-ray next week, so take a few […]

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favreaudinner

Jon Favreau seems to be the type of guy who’s pretty into food. No, that wasn’t a fat joke—he who lives in glass houses and whatnot—it’s just an observation coming after he hosted a talk show called Dinner For Five that was based on a crew of interesting people gathering around a table full of food, and now he’s reportedly taking a break from making wildly profitable (when not involving cowboys *and* aliens) blockbuster tentpole pictures in order to put together a little independent project that will see him doing a lot of cooking. The project, according to a scoop that came out of Variety, will see Favreau writing, directing, and starring in a film called Chef, which is said to be a comedy about an emotional chef who runs a Los Angeles-based restaurant.

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Star Wars

Before we get into today’s line-up of fresh Star Wars Episode VII talk, can we just take one moment to reflect on how truly insane it is that we’re reporting on an entire string of rumors about a seventh Star Wars film that is actually being made within mere months? Have we thought about that enough? Yes? Okay. First up, more director rumors! (We know you guys love these.) Joining the ranks of Zack Snyder, Steven Spielberg, and Quentin Tarantino, J.J. Abrams has weighed in on his potential for helming the film with a big, fat, resounding “no.” The director told Hollywood Life: “Look, Star Wars is one of my favorite movies of all time…I frankly feel that – I almost feel that, in a weird way, the opportunity for whomever it is to direct that movie, it comes with the burden of being that kind of iconic movie and series. I was never a big Star Trek fan growing up, so for me, working on Star Trek didn’t have any of that, you know, almost fatal sacrilege, and so, I am looking forward more then anyone to the next iterations of Star Wars, but I believe I will be going as a paying moviegoer!” Cross Abrams off the list (probably). And what about Jon Favreau? Favs gave a bit of a riff on Abrams’ answer to the outlet, saying: “I think both J.J. and I come from a generation of people who formed our whole creative persona around what […]

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Star Wars

You know the story. At this point it’s basically the new shot heard ‘round the world: Disney has bought Lucasfilm for $4 billion, George Lucas is retiring from the Star Wars game, and three more Star Wars films are planned for production starting in 2015. Lucas and the new Lucasfilm president, Kathleen Kennedy, have stated that they have archives of story treatments for more books, TV shows, and films… but with Lucas stepping back from the property, who are they going to get to direct these next three episodes in the ongoing Star Wars adventure? Let’s take a look at some candidates, whether they be likely, unlikely, or long shots.

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Channel Guide - Large

The dialogue in NBC’s less than revolutionary new adventure series Revolution is filled with pointless obfuscations. “It’s all going to turn off,” warns Ben Matheson (Tim Guinee), a frazzled family man who knows…something. “It’s going to turn off and it will never, ever turn back on.” Technology is the “it” being discussed in this vague statement that simultaneously establishes the show’s gratuitously theatrical tone and sets up the central conflict—lights, computers, cars, planes, iPhones (!), and all of the other essential, electronic thingamajigs that we take for granted, abruptly, stop functioning. The premise is provocative enough (albeit in an ordinary “What If?” game sort of way) but Revolution’s series opener is tepid—made up of recycled bits and pieces from other overblown post-apocalyptic dramas—and, at times, unintentionally hilarious. Created by Supernatural’s Eric Kripke, Revolution is supposed to be this year’s epic—the event show that sucks everyone in with its mythology and intrigue. Post-Lost, we’ve been given at least one of these Abrams-esque dramas every season. Sometimes, like this one, J.J. Abrams is actually involved with the production (Abrams and Jon Favreau are executive producing), which only fuels the hype. Revolution has all of the standard features of this class of show—the large ensemble, the misdirection, the sci-fi. The most lamentable flaw, then, is that it never rises above its role as the requisite Abrams show.

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Revolution Television Show

Editors’ note: Hey! TV stuff! With Revolution premiering on NBC this very evening, why not journey back with us to our own world without power – way back in July when we wrote about the show’s pilot episode as part of our Comic-Con coverage. This feature was originally published on July 16, 2012. NBC’s new television series Revolution was everywhere at this year’s Comic-Con, from a giant skin covering the side of the Hilton Hotel (a skin that was unavoidable if you happened to be near the San Diego Convention Center and you happened to have your eyes even slightly open) to a large scale set piece stationed in the middle of the hullabaloo of the Gaslamp District, so it’s not shocking that the series’ panel and pilot premiere was positively packed. The original series is a good fit for the ‘con – a new hour-long drama that takes place in a world without electricity and populated by people just trying to survive, people trying to seize (metaphorical) power, and people trying to figure out why the lights went out (and the planes went down and the cars stopped working and the water stopped running). Creator Eric Kripke is a known name to a niche audience of TV fans – he also created beloved long-running series Supernatural – but it’s the more marquee names that Revolution might be trading on to lure in fans for the show. Both J.J. Abrams and Jon Favreau are executive producers on the project (along […]

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While it’s certainly not a requirement that the stars of musicals can actually sing, it does add a nice level of verisimilitude to the proceedings. Unfortunately for fans of the Tony Award-winning smash Broadway hit, Jersey Boys, it seems like musical ability has taken a major backseat when it comes to the casting of the play’s inevitable cinematic adaptation. CinemaBlend passes along word that the Jon Favreau-directed adaption has sent out an open casting call for the film’s four leads (those, of course, being Frankie Valli and the three other original Seasons), and each individual call lists the ability to sign and play musical instruments (as it applies to the character) as “a plus.” You got that right. Considering the wealth of talent currently performing in the play on stages around the world, it’s a bit curious that none of those actors have stepped into any of the roles, but perhaps the production really wants to capture some fresh and new faces (singing ability notwithstanding). Check out the casting call after the break. Think you  have the chops? You can submit here.

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Magic Kingdom

According to Jon Favreau, the world will have to wait for Magic Kingdom, and that’s a good thing. In an interview with Crave, the director noted that his past three films (Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and Cowboys & Aliens) have all been made under the gun of a release date and preliminary poster art. It’s arguable that that rush had an effect on overall quality. By “arguable,” we mean, “almost assured.” Of course, Pixar is happy to help with the methodical, only-when-the-story-is-ready approach. “What we’ve been doing is writing a script, going up to Pixar, meeting with the brain trust, coming back down, bringing on artists, story editors and putting it together as though it were an animated film so that by the time we actually film it, we’ll have a rock solid story,” Favreau said. Of course, it’s in no way an official Pixar film, but Disney seems keen to use them and John Lasseter as a valuable creative resource.

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You know how clumsy puppies can’t help but be adorable, even when  they do awful things? Basset Hound pups are a prime example. Their feet are too big, they trip over their own floppy ears, and even if they eat the legs off your sofa, it’s whatever. All a Basset puppy has to do is look at you and you’re halfway over it. Writer/director Alex Kurtzman‘s People Like Us is almost like that – forgivably clumsy when it’s falling all over itself and wrecking things, but cute in spite of itself. …except for that whole almost-incest thing. Holy crap, that thing. People Like Us is the story of Sam (Chris Pine), a fast-talking dealer of anything with no use and a past-due expiration date. He’s the Jerry Maguire of selling people bullshit – and entirely unpleasant when we meet him. When one of Sam’s underhanded business deeds comes back to bite him, his boss, played by a skeez-tastic Jon Favreau, gives it to Sam straight – make up for the lost cash, or an unhappy client is reporting them both to the FTC.

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Last week, the utterly shocking news broke that not only was Warner Bros. pursuing a Justice League movie, but it also was in no way at all ever influenced by the unbridled financial success of Marvel’s The Avengers. We can all believe that, can’t we? After all, we read it on the internet. With Man of Steel coming out next year and a no-brainer Batman reboot coming now that Christopher Nolan’s movies are wrapping up this summer, this is an opportunity for Warner Bros. and DC to set a new stage. Plus, with adaptations of The Flash and Lobo, and the potential for a Green Lantern reboot, Warner Bros. and DC have things laid out for them to work out very similar to the pre-Avengers line of films. But this is Hollywood, and so many things can go potentially wrong with a project like this. Here are seven ways Warner Bros. can avoid a potential disaster as they develop this film series.

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Pardon me? In one of those weird twists of Hollywood casting (and crewing?), Variety reports that a well-regarded director (Jon Favreau) is the frontrunner to helm a beloved property (the cinematic adaptation of hit musical Jersey Boys) in a combination that just doesn’t make one goddamn lick of sense. Favs? A musical? Wha-what? While the Iron Man and Iron Man 2 helmer certainly knows how to juggle a lot of big pieces in his productions, I can’t say that I ever thought song-and-dance numbers would be one of them, and I sure as hell can’t say I am sold on this idea. The Tony and Grammy-winning hit musical Jersey Boys (originally produced by Dodger Theatricals, written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, directed by Des McAnuff, with music by Four Seasons member Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe) was officially announced back in January, with Hugo scribe John Logan set to adapt it. The musical centers on the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and their incredible rise to fame in the 1960s, and it’s one of those rare “historical” musicals that’s just as much fun for fans of the original group as it is for newbies.

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Ben Kingsley

Ben Kingsley is in negotiations to play a villain role in Iron Man 3, according to sources familiar with the subject — as passed through the folks at THR. There isn’t much word yet on which villain he may play, but one name being thrown around currently is Iron Man’s number one foe, The Mandarin. It’s a character that was hinted at early on by Iron Man director and Iron Man 3 executive producer Jon Favreau, even going so far as to place the Ten Rings of The Mandarin in the first story. 

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published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C
published: 11.18.2014
B+
published: 11.14.2014
B+


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