Mark Ruffalo

mark ruffalo and keira knightley in begin again

In just two films, writer/director John Carney may very well have created a new genre: the neo-musical. First, there was 2006’s Once, a breakout indie film with an Oscar-winning song, “Falling Slowly.” Now he follows a similar plot trajectory with Begin Again (which was once wistfully titled Can a Song Save Your Life?). Two musicians – one male and one female – meet, collaborate on a project and flirt with impunity before ultimately deciding they would rather make music than love. Through his stories about musicians and collaboration, Carney has found a way to update the musical to our contemporary, authenticity-driven times. In his films, the characters frequently break into song, but they don’t break the fourth wall, and the stories never devolve into spectacle. However, Carney has more on his mind than genre-busting. Both of his neo-musicals contain a creeping criticism of a music industry that is depicted as overly-focused on image and provides little room for the true artist to find space to grow. In Once, the characters are working to create a demo so that they can get a record deal, but the implicit question asked by the film is why a singer as talented as Glen Hansard has to make ends meet by busking on the street in the first place (in real life Hansard fronts The Frames, a successful Irish rock band). If Once’s industry criticism is subtextual, Begin Again is more overt about its intentions. The film stars Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley as Dan and Greta, a music producer […]

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The Brothers Bloom

If you’re not convinced more Star Wars movies is a good idea, then the news that Rian Johnson will be writing and directing Star Wars Episode VIII should win you over. Johnson knows structure, action, comedy and character, making him the ideal filmmaker to make Star Wars fresh and exciting again. Not only do his talents make him the right filmmaker for the job, but so does his thematic interests. Looper and Johnson’s second picture, The Brothers Bloom, are about how much control someone has over their own narrative. Bloom (Adrien Brody) feels like he’s living a story written by his brother Stepehen (Mark Ruffalo), while Old Joe (Bruce Willis) and Young Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) battle over the course of their shared, separate life. In short, a franchise focused on creating your own destiny is right up Johnson’s alley. Out of Johnson’s three films so far, The Brothers Bloom is the one that’s probably talked about the least. It was met with a lukewarm response from critics, and it kind of got lost in the shuffle back in 2009, but it’s a richly structured flim flam movie full of heart. It’s as much about brothers as it is the con. The relationship between Bloom and Stephen lives beyond the movie; Brody and Ruffalo let us learn these characters so thoroughly that it’s easy to imagine other adventures they’d gone on. We revisited the film with the commentary track on. Here’s what we learned.

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Foxcatcher

Looks like it’s Foxcatcher day around the cinematically-inclined internets, as our own William Goss just recently unveiled a stellar A- review of the film out of Cannes, and now we’re all getting graced with the presence of a brand new teaser for Bennett Miller‘s latest film. Oh, and hey, it’s totally terrifying. Based on the real life story of crazed murderer/overly encouraging wrestling coach John du Pont (and also apparently loosely inspired by star Steve Carell‘s voicework in the Despicable Me films), Miller’s film sees Carell starring as the creepily intense (and also intensely creepy) du Pont, a rich dude with a thing for bringing glory back to America. No, really. Du Pont’s glory-seeking plan involves training Olympic level wrestlers, which sort of sounds like the perfect thing for a crazed rich dude to do. Du Pont’s desires might seem, yes, a bit nutty, but his path to all that glory is kind of smart — he starts a training program for actual athletes (including the Schultz brothers, played by Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo), using his own fortune as financing. Everything seems to be super-excellent, until he loses his tenuous grip on reality. Sound over-the-top? It’s not — it’s deeply unsettling. Ready to be chilled to the bone? Brace yourself for the film’s latest teaser trailer.

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Foxcatcher

“Fame makes a man take things over.” There couldn’t be a much more obvious needle drop for a scene of newly minted champions celebrating over champagne in a well-adorned trophy room, but more than one line from David Bowie’s “Fame” suits the grander themes of the terrific sports drama, Foxcatcher. Landing at the logical crossroads between Moneyball’s quest for sports-minded superiority and Capote’s chilly portrait of the criminal mind, director Bennett Miller’s third narrative feature revisits the eventually tragic real-life involvement of Olympic wrestling champs Mark and Dave Schultz with eccentric millionaire John du Pont. By 1987, 27-year-old Mark (Channing Tatum) had already earned an Olympic gold medal, but as he lectures bored students for a pittance and commits to his umpteenth meal of instant ramen while older brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo) raises a proper family, it’s clear that the glory has faded. Out of the blue comes a call on behalf of Mr. du Pont (Steve Carell), a wealthy ornithologist, philatelist and philosopher eager to sponsor the Schultz brothers if it means bringing the gold home to America once again.

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Steve Carell in Foxcatcher

There’s a little bit of Brick Tamland in every role Steve Carell‘s ever done. Even his dramatic roles (which are less “dramatic” than they are “drama adjacent”) bear the stigma of a man who once pooped a Cornish game hen in the Anchorman blooper bonus footage. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is the poignant story of a man who copes with the certainty of his own grisly death … by visiting a restaurant where a wacky wait staff kisses him and he yells things like a lunatic. Little Miss Sunshine is a touching family film where Carell overcomes his suicidal depression through his love for his niece and nephew. Then he does a wacky dance and yells like a lunatic. I long for the day he can fully emerge from the shadow of “I love lamp.” And that day’s almost here, give or take a few months. On November 14th, Foxcatcher will open in theaters across the country. It was originally scheduled for last December, but that was before Sony Pictures Classics decided the movie had more of a “2014” ring to it than a “2013” (makes sense — 2013 is so last year). It stars Carell as John du Pont, the real-life chemical heir who befriended Olympic wrestler siblings Mark and Dave Schultz, only to grow mentally unstable and kill the latter in cold blood. The film also stars Channing Tatum as the Tatum-esque Mark, and Mark Ruffalo as bald and bearded Dave. The first clip from the film, released via Yahoo Movies, has no Ruffalo,  […]

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mark ruffalo and keira knightley in begin again

When Inside Llewyn Davis hit theaters late last year, it showed audiences that being a solo acoustic artist on a small record label was anything but ideal, and the farthest thing from glamorous. But apparently the industry has changed quite a bit since the ’60s, because all it really takes nowadays to beat the competition in those dreary streets of New York City is for Mark Ruffalo to hear your song in a smokey bar and declare you a sensation. That’s it! Well, okay, there’s a little more to it than just Ruffalo’s undivided attention. There are Central Park boats involved and Cee Lo Green‘s wisdom to understand. The trailer for Begin Again, which is the new title for Toronto Film Festival favorite Can a Song Save Your Life? (and a blissful rename at that — what a terrible first try that had been) sets off to show all this and more when Ruffalo’s Dan, a recently fired record label executive, crosses paths with Keira Knightley‘s Gretta. She’s a girl just kicking it around NYC with an acoustic guitar in hand after being dumped by her rock star boyfriend (played by Adam Levine, the second host of The Voice we see featured in this movie).

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Thanks For Sharing

Telling the story of a sex addict is no easy task, especially when it involves his first real relationship since becoming sober. The music for such a story has to hit the various notes of a person going through the transition of recovering addict to stable boyfriend – and do so while dancing around the question of whether or not this transition is even possible. Mark Ruffalo takes on the role as Adam, a five years sober sex addict, by making him a mix of confidence and humility. Christopher Lennertz’ score follows suit sounding confident at times, but also ebbing into a more reserved tone when the theme calls for it. Adam is a Type-A personality who lives in a beautiful apartment in Manhattan and seems to have his entire life together. The classical music that plays as the film begins certainly reflects this, but as the music gets more staccato, it becomes clear that there is more to Adam then first meets the eye as the true depth of his disease is revealed. Thanks for Sharing tackles some serious issues, but it’s not all doom and gloom.

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Can a Song Save Your Life?

John Carney’s Can a Song Save Your Life? answers its own (inescapably clunky-sounding) titular question within its first twenty minutes, but it’s hard to tell if that salvation is ultimately sustainable. After all, most songs only last a few minutes, and what happens when the music stops? Burnt out music executive Dan (Mark Ruffalo) has a thing for long shots, and while that may have worked for him in his early days, he hasn’t had much luck when it comes to finding bankable new talent for a number of years. (Oh, and his personal life is also in shambles, because of course it is.) Stuck in a low-rent apartment, estranged from his rock writer wife (Catherine Keener, who can’t quite reach her normal charm levels here, mainly because half of her face is bizarrely hidden behind her hair) and his just-rebellious-enough teen daughter (Hailee Steinfeld, who should have gotten more screen time here), and running on fumes career-wise, Dan is at rock bottom. So it’s a pretty nifty stroke of luck that he just so happens to walk into a local bar running an open mic night in order to kill time before actually killing himself, and it’s also pretty cool that Greta (Keira Knightley) is there (reluctantly) singing and yes, it’s also totally awesome that her song actually refers to someone throwing themselves in front of a subway. If you can get past the silly plot contrivances and relatively thin script, Can a Song Save Your Life? just might […]

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Thanks for Sharing

Mark Ruffalo has a bit of a dilemma. Five years sober from sex addiction, his character has finally decided to test the waters of dating again, only to be thrown into a relationship where Gwyneth Paltrow prances around his apartment in black lingerie. But it’s not just Paltrow; as the new international trailer for Stuart Blumberg‘s Thanks for Sharing shows as Ruffalo makes his way down the crowded streets of New York City, sex is everywhere. For a sex addict, the simple act of watching television or taking the subway to work can be enough to unravel an entire day. The film explores these trials through all of the meetings the addicts have to attend, much like an alcoholic, and the rituals they have to go through to keep on the straight and narrow; Josh Gad, as a newly recovering addict, rides his bike to work every day to avoid groping women on the subway. It seems a little heavy-handed to constantly show sexy adverstising on the NYC streets to prove the “sexy sex is everywhere/look at our society” point, but I think we’ll have to forgive it for now, considering our subjects. But somehow, the film is taking this unpleasant subject matter and spinning it into an almost lighthearted package, proving you don’t always having to talk about serious things seriously. As our own Kate Erbland described it while writing about the first trailer, it’s for people who thought Shame was too sad. Check out the trailer for yourself here:

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foxcatcher-09

Steve Carell teetered over to the dramatic side of things in Little Miss Sunshine, but Foxcatcher will be the film to truly stretch his acting abilities. Based on real-life events, Foxcatcher sees Carell as Jon du Pont, the multimillionaire chemical heir who built a wrestling facility at his home in Foxcatcher Farm, where he later shot and killed Olympic wrestler David Schultz. Mark Ruffalo will portray Schultz, while Channing Tatum will play the role of his brother, fellow Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz So far, Carell has only ventured into a handful of dramedies, and never a full-fledged drama, so portraying a schizophrenic killer does seem like it may be a little out of his league. But at least the actor is in good hands. Bennett Miller, the man at Foxcatcher‘s helm, drove comedian Jonah Hill to an Academy Award nomination in his last feature, Moneyball (technically Hill had already tasted serious drama in Cyrus the year before, but never mind that). Entertainment Weekly has just debuted a still of Carell made up like du Pont, complete with a fake nose and an unhealthy-looking glower. This first image does make Carell’s menace seem genuine. Still, I can’t help but wonder – when du Pont ratchets up the crazy, will we see Carell embody his madness, or will we see Carell wearing a fake nose and falling back towards a Brick Tamland-like yelling spree? Hopefully it’s the former. Foxcatcher releases on December 20th.

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Thanks for Sharing

Remember that light-hearted sex addiction film by the guy who co-wrote The Kids Are All Right, starring The Hulk, Pepper Potts, and Broadway’s own Josh Gad that sounded so cool when it was first announced? Nope, we didn’t either – until the first trailer for Thanks for Sharing popped up on the ol’ Internet machine today. Turns out, sex addiction can be totally funny! Sort of! Okay, maybe! But it can definitely star Mark Ruffalo and Gwyneth Paltrow in decidedly non-Avengers roles and in a way that looks at least somewhat amusing. In short, if you wanted to see Shame and worried that it was too sad or too intense (and, as someone who saw a woman go into a seizure in the middle of the film that I’m still convinced had something to do with Michael Fassbender’s, um, performance, I don’t blame you), Stuart Blumberg‘s Thanks for Sharing just might be for you. Oh, also, Pink stars in it, too. Maybe it will be a Mark Wahlberg type thing! Don’t go on the subway and watch the first trailer for Thanks for Sharing instead, just after the break.

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NOW YOU SEE ME

Now You See Me must’ve been director Louis Leterrier‘s way of cleansing his palate. He’s coming off Clash of the Titans, a movie’s which problems were well covered upon its release. That hokey 3D conversion aside, it’s a film Leterrier doesn’t sound exceedingly pleased with. He’s not ashamed, as he points out in our chat, but the final product isn’t a representation of who he is as a filmmaker: someone who wants to make adventure movies, not “action” movies. Now You See Me is more in tune with Leterrier’s interests. It’s a movie that doesn’t rely solely on set pieces, but rather the charm of its cast and the strength of the script. If there’s a dull spot, a big ‘ol Kraken or a heavily bearded Liam Neeson can’t show up to provide the missing energy. It has to always be there for this type of movie to work. Good thing Leterrier’s movie is chalk full of actors who can make IKEA directions sound exciting. Speaking of excited, that’s something Leterrier certainly was in our extended chat with the man. If you want to know why he never needs to own a suit, read ahead.

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Today was basically Godzilla day on the Internet. All sorts of news regarding Legendary Pictures’ reboot of the big green guy’s film series broke, and some of it involves casting. THR broke the news that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was being looked at to star, but one of their writers, Borys Kit, was then quick to point out that his potential involvement in the film is long dead. Variety writer Justin Kroll then jumped in with the news that a few names that are still possibilities for the project are Henry Cavill, Scoot McNairy, and Caleb Landry Jones. All of this news comes with a special thanks to /Film, who compiled all the chatter into a tight little narrative. Even though things between Gordon-Levitt and Godzilla didn’t work out, don’t let that make you think that he’s going to go an entire week without being attached to a high profile project. In more Gordon-Levitt news, Deadline has word that the in-demand actor has just signed on to play a big role in Robert Rodriguez‘s Sin City sequel, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. Apparently he’s going to be playing Johnny, a role that was meant to go to Johnny Depp at one point, and that is said to be a core character in the overlapping parts of the film’s story lines. This comes at the same time as news that Gordon-Levitt’s possible involvement in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t going to end up happening, which is essential information if you happen to be exhaustively journaling all […]

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Now You See Me

Seeing as it’s a Louis Leterrier movie, of course the first trailer for Now You See Me is high energy and loud. Jesse Eisenberg is yelling into a microphone, people are disappearing with flashes of electricity, Isla Fisher’s smile is blinding you, and the contents of a bank’s vault are raining down on a jacked up theater audience. And this is all before the action starts. Then you gets showdowns and chase scenes, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine trading dialogue about grizzled old man doom and gloom, and Mark Ruffalo looking like he’s right in his wheelhouse playing a frazzled and out of sorts police inspector trying to keep up with a team of ultra-competent, bank robbing magicians. Sounds like this movie has something for everyone, no? Check it out after the break, and let us know what you think.

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Anthony Michael Hall

Director Bennett Miller‘s upcoming passion project, Foxcatcher, continues to add solid talent of the most unexpected variety. Next up, Anthony Michael Hall, everyone’s favorite ’80s movie brain (and some people’s favorite Rusty Griswold, though those people are wrong). Variety reports that Hall will play Steve Carell‘s character’s assistant in the stunning true crime tale. The film tells the true story of John du Pont (Carell), the heir to the du Pont fortune who, as a huge supporter of amateur sports and USA Wrestling in particular, built a wrestling facility, called Team Foxcatcher, on his Pennsylvania estate. But du Pont was also a paranoid schizophrenic who believed that there was an international conspiracy in place to kill him – a conspiracy that he believed his long-time friend, Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) was a part of. That belief led du Pont to shoot and kill Schultz in 1996, in front of both Schultz’s wife and du Pont’s head of security. After the shooting, du Pont barricaded himself in his mansion for two days while negotiating with the police. Sienna Miller also recently joined the cast as Schultz’s wife, and Channing Tatum is set to play his younger brother, Mark, also an Olympic wrestler. Production is finally set to kick off on the film later this month in Pittsburgh. Frankly, we can’t wait.

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Sienna Miller

Director Bennett Miller‘s passion project follow-up to his smash hit Moneyball continues to take shape with the protracted roll-out of his final casting decisions. Deadline Hollywood reports that Sienna Miller is now set to play Nancy Schultz in Foxcatcher, based on the wrenching and bizarre story of the murder of Olympic wrestler (and Nancy’s husband) Dave Schultz. Mark Ruffalo has been attached to the Schultz role since April, along with the rest of an impressive cast that also includes Steve Carell and Channing Tatum. Miller has been trying to get the film made for years, so it’s heartening that he’s finally been able to compile such a talented line-up to tell the tale of the tragically murdered Schultz. And what a tale it is.

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Ben Foster

While we don’t typically celebrate when two talented actors leave a film, when it comes to Adam Rapp‘s Red Light Winter, the loss of Mark Ruffalo and Billy Crudup is actually a good thing. Variety reports that, while Crudup’s role still remains uncast, Ben Foster is now attached to star in the role that was previously Ruffalo’s, and his involvement with the film has given it a push to filming sooner rather than later. Ruffalo’s involvement with the film (which playwright and filmmaker Rapp will both write and direct) was first rumored way back in the spring of 2011, but it was always something that was on the horizon for him, not of immediate import. With Foster now set for one of three lead roles, the production is reportedly looking to start filming in December or January. Rapp’s play of the same name centers on a pair of college buddies (Matt and Davis) who hit their thirties and attempt to reconnect with each other by traveling together from New York City to Amsterdam to whoop it up in ways perhaps better suited for younger men. Along the way, the two get caught up in an unexpected love triangle with a “window prostitute” (set to be played by Kirsten Dunst), which unearths some of the fissures in their damaged relationship). It’s bleak, dark, soul-searching stuff.

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Despite a dud for a title, John Carney‘s Can A Song Save Your Life? sounds intriguing, particularly when you consider that Carney is the man who brought us the incredibly charming Once and that he had lined up a somewhat unexpected pair to top-line his production. Back in February, the project was announced with Scarlett Johansson on board to play a young singer looking to break into the music biz after a bad break-up, alongside Mark Ruffalo as a record producer who turns her life around (professionally and personally) . It was set to be a fun little reunion for the Avengers pair, something more romantic and pleasing to the ears. But now Johansson is out and Ruffalo’s name is nowhere to be seen in the latest dispatch regarding the film. ScreenDaily reports (via Cinema Blend), that Johansson has stepped away from the project for “personal reasons,” and that her role will now be played by Keira Knightley (not an entirely bad swap, really). The news reports that Exclusive Media will financing and producing the film, in addition to selling it at Cannes, and as far as other stars, it only mentions Hailee Steinfeld (who is set to play the producer’s daughter), there’s nothing about Ruffalo. With the ‘Ruff (go with it) making such a big splash in The Avengers, it seems unlikely that an upcoming production wouldn’t be trading on his name any way they can. Is he out, too?

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Culture Warrior

Crowding a movie with talent often seems like a good idea only in the abstract sense. In practice, such films can easily feel overstuffed. For example, the basic conceits for both The Expendables and Grown Ups sound like products of wishful thinking held during a drunk conversation between a group of 19-year-olds at 3am. Yes, in theory a movie featuring all of the action stars of the 80s or the most successful SNL cast since the late-70s would be great – however, a bunch of famous people do not a seminal action film or great comedy make. What’s most surprising about Joss Whedon’s The Avengers is that the whole somehow proved greater than its parts. A movie with this quantity of iconic superheroes runs the incredible risk of being overstuffed and only half-cooked. The standards created by previous Hollywood films indicate that studios would be happy enough allowing the conflagration of bankable characters stand in for (or, more accurately, distract from the lack of) actual entertainment value; mammoth opening weekends, after all, are always more a sign of effective marketing than good filmmaking. But The Avengers not only stands as an equal to some of the stronger entries in Marvel’s 4-year, 5-film multiverse-building, but is arguably superior. Some of these characters came across more fully-fleshed and three-dimensional as part of an ensemble than in their respective standalone films.

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Reel Sex

To turn a phrase from my favorite family of Northerners, “Summer is Coming.” And by coming, I mean today. After waiting what felt like an eternal Westeros winter, Marvel Studios will finally reward us with the release of Joss Whedon’s take on The Avengers. If you haven’t already, take a moment to read our review of the film, re-watch the trailers, and then meet me back here for some fireworks and sno-cones. People have been saying for weeks now that the film is pretty great, and thankfully that is true. Whedon built a rich world for these Marvel characters; putting so much detail into their stories and their lives that it’s virtually impossible not to get wrapped up in the battle trickster Loki (Tom Hiddleston) wages with his brother Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the rest of the Avengers gang. But there is one surprising element lacking from The Avengers—pivotal women sharing scenes. Shocking considering Whedon has always been an advocate for female role models and has fought TV and film studios for years over the way he prefers to portray women in his cannon. Yes, he had huge pressure on his shoulders to craft a stellar superhero film, but of all the things Whedon could have done wrong why did he have to separate his two major women characters from each other? It’s a bit troubling to say the least.

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