Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart in CAMP X-RAY

Kristen Stewart has long been maligned for her seemingly unshakeable performance tics – the hair-playing, the lip-biting, the huffy breathing – and despite being gifted with a compelling character in Peter Sattler’s ambitious Camp X-Ray, Stewart simply can’t kick her bad habits in service to a good performance. Sattler’s debut feature is set at Guantanamo Bay, requiring Stewart to play a young U.S. soldier who finds her worldview forever altered by her experiences, and the actress simply isn’t up to the task, bringing down the quality and power of the entire film in the process. The film opens with a shot of the Twin Towers smoking on 9/11, as seen on television in a foreign country that we only, much later, learn is Germany. Aware of the events and confoundingly kitted out with a bag of cell phones, Ali Amir (Payman Maadi) turns his attention away from the news for afternoon prayer. He doesn’t finish those prayers, because a black bag is soon thrown over his head and he’s carted off to Gitmo. Beaten, caged, and imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, the film then flashes forward to eight years later, and the arrival of Stewart’s Private Amy Cole.

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Clouds of Sils Maria

The word coming out of TIFF about Kristen Stewart’s performance in Clouds of Sils Maria mirrors the word that came out of earlier festival runs. It boils down to, “Surprise! She’s an actress!,” but Sam said it a bit more eloquently in his review: “Stewart is magnetic, devoid of the amateurish affectations that have plagued her in the past (the nail and lip biting, the hair twirling). In Clouds she’s sexy, confident and articulate, with oversized rims and enough vulnerability to draw you in.” For her fans, this has to be both a No Shit, Sherlock moment and a vindication of sorts. Here’s the child star from Panic Room (who David Fincher must have seen something in) proving that her persistence in the industry isn’t a fluke. For the skeptical, it may signal a maturation — the next step in talent evolution for a promising figure who hadn’t yet lived up to any great promise. It doesn’t really matter which it is because it depends solely on where you’re standing. The prevailing narrative is that she’s finally emerging from a cold winter although she’s been experimenting with different roles at least since Adventureland. Maybe she needed to get out of the shade of Twilight, or maybe the right blend of story and power hadn’t happened with On the Road or Welcome to the Rileys, but regardless of the hypothesis, the main point is that she’s the next actor in line for reconsideration.

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Juliette Binoche in Clouds of Sils Maria

A searing satire of an antiseptic Hollywood system, a meta-commentary on “Celebrity” culture, a melancholic evocation on the impermanence of youth, a pensive portrait of clandestine love, Clouds of Sils Maria is all of this and more. And yet, to simplify or contextualize its intelligence into precise, aphoristic themes feels wildly inappropriate. Olivier Assayas’ latest masterwork transcends superlatives – too daring and damning to be labeled. Its beauty is ineffable. Seamlessly divided into two chapters (plus an epilogue), the film opens with the passing of Wilhelm Melchior, a lauded writer/director responsible for jumpstarting the career of Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche). Twenty years since playing the lead in Melchior’s beloved lesbian drama “Maloja Snake,” Maria is headed to the Alps to pay her respects at a posthumous retrospective. At her side is Valentine (Kristen Stewart), Maria’s devout personal assistant responsible for essentially everything in her life. Once the initial pretenses of the festival subside – the press, the photo shoots, the pseudo sentimentality – Assayas’ introduces his first question: how are we supposed to behave in the wake of death? Maria is understandably distraught upon hearing the news of Melchior’s death – so much so that she’d rather not attend the “posthumous homage” of his work. In the age of Twitter and the twenty-four-hour news cycle, how we grieve, publicly and privately, seems to be actively changing. When someone we’ve known and loved (or even someone we never met, but knew of) ceases to inhabit the same space we do, how do we […]

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Kate Lyn Sheil

Remember back when we told you that it was time you started paying attention to indie it girl Kate Lyn Sheil? Well, not to get out braggy on, but we were right. Sheil has got a packed schedule — just look at her IMDb page, which is crammed with “completed” and “post-production” features, shorts and television projects — but the actress has managed to make some room for another feature film, one that’s already been poised to rocket its talented team into the next echelon of indie filmmaking. Needless to say, it’s a good fit for Sheil. Sheil has just joined up with Drake Doremus‘ Equals, the latest feature from the perennial Sundance favorite (the director behind films like Breathe In and Like Crazy, both of which have bowed at the film festival in recent years to general acclaim), a futuristic and sci-fi-tinged project titled Equals. The film is a big step forward for Doremus, a high concept affair that still manages to focus on relationships (Doremus’ speciality). Complete with a script by Nathan Parker (Moon), Equals could be the next big sci-fi romance to hit the box office. Oh, and the rest of its cast doesn’t hurt, with Kristen Stewart, Nicholas Hoult and Guy Pearce already on board.

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Juliette Binoche in Clouds of Sils Maria

Hollywood is a fickle business, and it’s no secret that it’s at its most treacherous when you’re attempting to navigate its murky waters as an aging actress, especially one who used to be a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed young starlet. Roles that were once piling at your feet faster than you could say “is it really necessary for my character to wear this crop top?” are — not suddenly, but gradually enough to not notice their slide — drifting away and being handed to the next new cute thing. Even if  you’re still respected and revered and praised, you’re not going to be called an ingénue anytime soon. The tides have changed. With the new international trailer for Clouds of Sils Maria, Juliette Binoche is figuring this out all too well for herself when Chloe Moretz storms into her life. Binoche is Maria Enders, an actress who found great fame as a young woman playing Sigird in a play called “MalojaSnake.” Twenty years later, when the playwright who gave her this starmaking role dies, she’s compelled, albeit hesitantly, to join a new production of the play — this time playing the role of the emotionally fragile older woman. Jo-Ann Ellis (Moretz), Hollywood’s heavy-partying It Girl takes on her former role and challenges her as an actress and apparently her sanity as well.

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Chris Hemsworth is The Huntsman

Snow White and the Huntsman made a ton of money. And like most films that make a ton of money (say, a certain bot-morphing franchise with a new sequel this weekend), it’s mostly immune to criticism. No one cares about sagging reviews when your film just brought in the GDP of a small country. But there’s some kind of criticism that will sink your film-Titanic: a star that’s poison in the tabloids. It’s why Mel Gibson is just now crawling his way back into an Expendables role after all those racial slur incidents a few years back. And Snow White and the Huntsman is no stranger to this kind of low controversy. You may remember that in 2012 star Kristen Stewart and director Rupert Sanders were caught in a love affair, kindled by the fires of British actors digitally altered to look like dwarves. What you might not remember is the tangled mass of media reporting that followed immediately afterwards. First, the official reports claimed Stewart had been booted from the project, and the sequel would erase Snow White and go all Huntsman, all the time. Then Universal came out with a public denial: “Any reports that Kristen Stewart has been dropped are false.” A couple months later, Sanders was officially given the boot, while Stewart was kept on for part two. Stewart herself confirmed it. Those across the nation who saw this story unfold (from the tabloid headlines that stick out in line at the grocery store) could finally rest easy. Now […]

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Kristen Stewart Dead in Snow White and the Huntsman

Deciding not to direct Ant-Man is the big fad right now. Everybody’s doing it! But while Marvel continues to play the arcade claw game with strictly comedic directors, the dramatic ones are apparently being eyed elsewhere for another franchise. Universal needs a director for the 2016-slated sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman, a film that was met with a resounding “meh” back in 2012 (and then immediately blurred together with Alice in Wonderland and Jack the Giant Slayer in the minds of people who’ve seen too many recent dark and edgy live-action fairy tales). And so far, the studio is looking at three truly terrific choices, the names of which have been shared by Deadline. We weigh the benefits of each below. Frank Darabont The Shawshank Redemption. The Mist. The Walking Dead. Darabont is the master of slow-paced, suspenseful melancholy that takes a quick snack break for something horribly upsetting. Like how The Mist is a pleasant how-to guide on disaster relief and supermarket safety, and then — POW! — a guy explodes and a bunch of spiders come out. With his experience with The Walking Dead, he might be able to unearth something new (say, “emotion”) from the likes of star Kristen Stewart. Seriously, though, Darabont is a pretty masterful filmmaker when he wants to be, and he’s no stranger to monstrous horrors that appear out of nowhere to drag men to their doom. Which will almost certainly appear in the next Huntsman film. Overall, an extremely solid choice for Snow White and the Huntsman 2 Furious.

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Angelina Jolie

Two weeks ago, I told you that Robert Downey Jr. was the real Tony Stark when it was revealed that he was the highest-paid actor in Hollywood after having made a unfathomable $75m between June 2012 and June 2013. Now, Forbes has released their list of highest-paid actresses, and it appears that Angelina Jolie is supreme queen, raking in $33m in the same time period. Despite not having a huge film in theaters for over three years (2010’s The Tourist with Johnny Depp), Jolie’s starpower is apparently enough to keep her at the top of the chart. She was able to nab a paycheck north of $15m for next summer’s Maleficent, and did well with her writing and directing venture, the Bosnian war drama In the Land of Blood and Honey. Jolie is a bonafide movie star in that she even outranks The Girl on Fire by $7m. Jennifer Lawrence had an insane 2012, and with $26m in her pocket 2013 is probably looking even better. Lawrence won the Best Actress Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook, and ushered in a new era of Hunger Games mania as Our Lady of Badassery, Katniss Everdeen. The Hunger Games made $690m off a $80m budget, and though Lawrence made less than $1m for the first film, her paycheck was promptly bumped up following its success. Go girl. Not to mention, Lawrence is also part of the X-Men franchise as young Mystique, and received earnings from those films as well.

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keiraknightley

What is Casting Couch? It’s a news column concerned with movie castings that has word of a new role for Game of Thrones star Nicolaj Coster-Waldau, as well as some controversy surrounding Johnny Depp. The Intimidation Game has had Morten Tyldum attached as its director and Benedict Cumberbatch attached as its star for a while now. But it seems like all of its pre-production ducks must now be getting in a row, because today a report out of THR is suggesting that they’ve started to go forward with the rest of their casting. This Alan Turing biopic, which is set to cover his days breaking codes during the war as well as his days being tried by the government for homosexuality, is reportedly close to signing Keira Knightley as a woman who comes from a conservative background, but who forms a friendship with Turing and sticks by him all the way to his life’s tragic end. This will all, no doubt, be very emotional, so expect lots of opportunities to see her make that face she makes when she’s just about to cry.

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Drinking Games

Well, folks, it’s finally over. The Twilight Saga rang its final bell this past weekend with the release of Breaking Dawn: Part II on DVD and Blu-ray. Chances are, the fans out there have already secured a copy and have had it on a continuous loop since it hit the streets. If you happen to be the significant other (or father or super good best friend) with a Twi-hard making you watch the last installment in the franchise, you’ll want to knock back a couple drinks in the process. Raise your glass to the end of an era, an end of a franchise, and an end of body glitter in the multiplex.

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commentary-breakingdawn

Well, Twi-hards, with the release of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part II on DVD and Blu-ray this week, the series has come to a final close. (That is, of course, until Lionsgate decides to reboot the franchise or Stephenie Meyer cranks out more stories in this universe. ‘Cause we all know that’s gonna happen soon enough.) To help tie the final two chapters of the saga together, Lionsgate has also released the extended edition of Breaking Dawn – Part I. Both movies feature a commentary by director Bill Condon. Now don’t worry too much. While I (and many of the writers here at Film School Rejects) am not a fan of the series at all, I can respect the fan base. This won’t be a lengthy article goofing on the flaws of the series. Instead, let’s break down what the director has to say about wrapping up the series with a one-two punch of the final book brought to life on the big screen. And on to the commentaries…

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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

While many would like to think that snark was something born of the Internet age, the fact that the Razzie Awards for Worst Achievements in Film are now in their thirty-third year pretty demonstrably proves that to be untrue.  There’s an uncomfortable truth at the center of all this, which is, to snark, to pass judgment, to make fun of things that fail publicly and spectacularly—it’s all kind of fun, at least in a sick way. If it wasn’t, something like The Razzies wouldn’t be able to stick around this long. In recent years, however, the film industry’s laser focus on building franchises and sticking to the same formulas has taken a little bit of the fun out of seeing who gets picked on for being the worst of the year. A crop of usual suspects has developed, making the announcement that the latest Twilight movie and the latest Adam Sandler comedy have earned the lion’s share of the nominations something of a tedious formality. So, here we are, having yet again sat through another Twilight movie and another Adam Sandler comedy, and, sure enough, it seems that they’ve once again gotten the bulk of the nominations. If there’s any new narrative going on, it’s that Madea’s Witness Protection seems to have annoyed the people who vote for the Golden Raspberries more than usual. Perhaps that’s due to Jack & Jill making men in drag a more contemptible offense after last year, or perhaps it’s because they’re trying to set […]

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Snow White and the Huntsman

Let’s get this straight right off the bat, the normally-reserved Kristen Stewart is pumped about returning for the sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman. After all sorts of back-and-forth chatter after the, ahem, scandal involving Ms. Stewart and the film’s director, Rupert Sanders, it’s finally been confirmed that Stewart will return for the new film (Sanders, however, will not). And Stewart is psyched about the new project – so psyched, in fact, that she can’t seem to hold her tongue or watch her language when it comes to the project. Stewart told ET (via ComingSoon), “Oh, it’s gonna be f***in’ amazing. No, I’m so excited about it, it’s crazy. I’m not allowed [to talk about it]. The other day I said that there was a strong possibility that we’re going to make a sequel, and that’s very true, but everyone was like, ‘Whoa, stop talking about it.’ So no, I’m totally not allowed to talk about it.” Whoa! When it comes to Stewart’s thoughts on if a sequel is justified, the actress (obviously? she wants the job, right?) said, “Oh my God. F***, yeah. Absolutely. And we’ve got a really amazing… [smiles] So, yeah. It’s all good. [laughs]” An amazing what? What is going on here? Whatever it is, at least the film’s leading lady is excited about the possibilities, though it’s still not clear who else will be returning, who is going to direct, and who has actually penned the final draft of the screenplay, so consider our […]

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Ben Affleck

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting news roundup that finally gets to stop talking about Walk of Shame, which was really being something of an attention hog lately. Some real bad news hit today for everyone looking forward to seeing what a trainwreck Ben Affleck and Kristen Stewart starring opposite of each other as romantic interests would have been. Affleck announced that, due to his busy schedule of being a busy person, he’s not going to be able to act in Focus after all. This means that the Glenn Ficarra- and John Requa-helmed pic will have to find someone else to vibe with Stewart as its in-the-mood-for-romance con artist, and Affleck is going to have to stick to directing movies, a place everyone seems to feel way more comfortable with him being in anyway. [Variety]

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On the Road Movie

Editor’s note: On the Road cruises into limited release this Friday, so put your brains into gear and enjoy this re-run of our Cannes review, originally published on May 23, 2012. Some books demand adaptation, offering immediate and easily translatable promise as film projects, whether that is thanks to the power of the plot, or characters or certain ideas that would lead to a looser adaptation. Jack Kerouac‘s seminal “On The Road” is not one of those books – like the work of James Joyce, the book is explicitly literary, its content inherently bound by its form and its author so fundamentally a writer before a storyteller that many, including myself, believed it to be unadaptable. In that context, the presence of Walter Salles‘ adaptation, imaginatively called On The Road, on the In Competition list here always stood out as an intriguing prospect. How would the director who made that other road movie The Motorcycle Diaries cope with the very specific problem of adapting something that is so explicitly literary? The answer, unfortunately, is not well. For a tale which so obviously values hedonism and free expression, On The Road is ultimately joyless and unengaging, and for a self-discovering road movie to fudge the journey so much and lose almost all lasting meaning is downright criminal.

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Kevin Hart

What is Casting Couch? It’s a handy one-stop source for all the casting news that broke while you were sleeping in over the weekend. Not only are Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart two of the most hilarious comic actors working today, they’re also two of the most famous funny people on the planet. So the fact that they’re going to be teaming up for a new comedy from Key & Peele showrunners Ian Roberts and Jay Martel is potentially big news. The pitch they’ll be working from, which Deadline says Warner Bros. is currently negotiating to acquire, is for a film called Get Hard, which will cast Ferrell as a yuppie investment banker who gets sentenced to a maximum security prison, and Hart as the streetwise guy he hires to teach him how to handle life on the inside before he has to report in 30 days. Montage fans should take note, because it sounds like this is the sort of movie that’s going to have a lot of them.

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Consider this major “with a grain of salt” news, particularly since it runs diametrically opposite to another rumor that hit the wire back in August. Radar Online reports (via Hollywood News) that despite an earlier report that Kristen Stewart would not be a part of the Snow White and the Huntsman sequel, while director Rupert Sanders would be returning (it’s important to note that Universal firmly rebuffed the news at the time), just the opposite has proven true. The outlet reports that “the actress has signed on to reprise her role in Snow White and the Huntsman, but director Rupert Sanders…won’t be a part of the project.” Strangely, when the first rumor was reported, it also held that the project was being reshaped as a more Huntsman-centric sequel, to the point that screenwriter David Koepp was out and set to be replaced by a new scribe. The Radar story continues on to claim that “the script has already been written and production will begin late next year.” Which sounds awesome and all, but who the heck wrote that script and who is going to step in to direct?

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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

As someone who’s somehow resisted the pull of Stephenie Meyer‘s Twilight books but has seen all five films, I feel confident saying the first three movies (Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse) exist on a sliding scale of awfulness. They’re bland, lacking in anything resembling emotion or humanity, poorly acted, terribly written and insulting to the concepts of free will, family, gender equality, canine care, individuality and love itself. Breaking Dawn Part 1 changed some of that for the better. The themes were still offensive to rational people who prefer a uterus be connected to a functioning and free-spirited brain, but director Bill Condon managed to inject a degree of humor and zaniness to the proceedings that embraced the entertainment value inherent in the story but missing from the earlier films. Basically, he made it fun. And thankfully, he returned to helm part 2. To recap part 1, Bella (Kristen Stewart) the human and Edward (Robert Pattinson) the vampire have married, fornicated and given birth to a baby they felt it necessary to name Renesmee. While still a fetus the little scamp had sucked the life from its mother leading to Bella’s death shortly after Edward decided to perform an emergency Cesarean with his teeth. He acts quickly and bites her again, this time in an attempt to save her life by turning her into a bloodsucker, and it works. She opens her inhuman, crimson eyes, and the credits roll. Oh, and Jacob (Taylor Lautner) the werewolf pees on Bella’s newborn daughter […]

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If you’ve ever spent any extended time in a coffee shop or a freshman dorm, chances are you’ve seen a good number of young people with open hearts and confused eyes dutifully thumbing through the pages of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” It’s one of those books you just have to get into when you’re coming of age, like “The Catcher in the Rye,” or, if you’re a sociopath, Ayn Rand’s stuff. Given the book’s enduring popularity, it’s strange that it’s taken so long for Hollywood to make a big screen adaptation, but, nevertheless, the wait is over, and the first trailer for the film is here. How does it look? Well, it looks like director Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries) and his camera crew have shot a beautiful film. And seeing as the narration put over this trailer quotes one of the most famous passages from Kerouac’s novel, it looks like he’s made a film that’s very much On the Road. This seems to be a straight adaptation; the essence of the book put up on the screen, without any unexpected detours.

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Drinking Games

The wait is over. The saga is nearly complete. The second half of Breaking Dawn comes to theaters this week, and the estrogen will flow. Twi-hards and Twi-moms around the world will be watching all four Twilight films leading up to the sure-to-be unepic conclusion. You may be forced to sit through one – or all – of these films before attending a showing of the new film this weekend. If that sounds like hell on Earth, you might want to have a drink… or two… or fourteen while watching the films with your significant other.

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+
published: 12.15.2014
B


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