Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Alex of Venice review

Mary Elizabeth Winstead has the “one to watch” thing down pat. The former teen actress has now blossomed into one of independent film’s most reliable and relatable leading ladies and her steady rise up the cinematic ranks – from the drunken darkness of Smashed to the dark humor of Faults, with a little The Thing and A Good Day to Die Hard thrown in for a touch of blockbuster fun– has long been someone worth watching, and now. For his directorial debut, actor Chris Messina has quite wisely built a story around Winstead’s charms, setting her up as the eponymous Alex for his Alex of Venice, an amiable outing that serves as yet another reminder that Winstead is more than enough of a draw on her own. The duo star in the domestic drama as a long-time couple fractured and felled by apparently normal grievances. Alex (Winstead) is a hardcore workaholic, and her career as an environmentally minded attorney both fills the time and doesn’t quite pay the bills. George (Messina) is stuck with home-bound duties, from getting their son Dakota (Skylar Gaertner) off to school, maintaining the house, and even caring for Alex’s dad (Don Johnson, potentially playing himself). Alex may be exacting when it comes to her job, but George appears to be the truly pragmatic one – or, at least, that seems to be the role he’s been shoved into by Alex and the demands of their home life – and when he starts exploding around Alex, their son, […]

read more...

faults_sxsw

Faults is one of the more frustrating experiences of SXSW. It’s by no means a bad film or even a mediocre one. Writer-director Riley Stearns shows promise, but his feature debut never comes together the way it should. The worst that can be said for Faults is that it’s hard not to feel indifferent towards it, despite having two fine lead performances. One being Leland Orser as Ansel Roth, a washed up expert on mind control. He used to have a television show, a wife and a hit book.  Now he goes around promoting his disastrous self-published follow-up novel and tries to con restaurants into giving him free meals. Ansel has hit his lowest, but he’s offered a chance of redemption that he only sees money signs on. A couple (Chris Ellis and Beth Grant) pleads with Roth to “deprogram” their daughter, Claire (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who hasn’t been herself since joining a cult. She claims she’s never been happier, but her parents want the old her back.

read more...

THESPECTACULARNOW_still1

Editor’s note: Allison’s review of The Spectacular Now originally ran during this year’s Sundance Film Festival, but we’re posting it again as the film opens this week in limited release. There are two kinds of people who go to high school: those who love every second of it, and those who cannot wait to get out. In The Spectacular Now, Sutter Keely (Miles Teller) is a charming screw-up who falls in the first group, but he is also acutely aware that this is the best time of his life. And he is living that life to the fullest, embracing and living in every moment, but unfortunately doing so with a super-size booze-filled slurpee clutched in his grasp at every turn. When he sits down to start writing his college essay (pulling on a PBR as he does), he uses the question about the biggest hardship he has had to overcome to unload about his recent break up. After yet another party and another night getting loaded, Sutter finds himself waking up on the lawn of Aimee (Shailene Woodley), a pretty girl from his school that he has never quite noticed before because she does not have a specific “thing” that defines her from the pack.

read more...

Mary-Elizabeth-Winstead-Death-Proof-Widescreen-Wallpaper-mary-elizabeth-winstead-7221018-1280-800

What is Casting Couch? It’s the news roundup that’s gathering together one last batch of casting reports before it takes a brief Comic-Con break. Read on for news regarding screen beauties like Linda Cardellini, Ashley Greene, and John Lithgow, and then we’ll see you again next week. After recent performances in dramas like Smashed and The Spectacular Now, actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead seems to be leaving her past of performing in genre work behind in order to take more dramatic roles. Deadline is reporting that she’s just signed up for her third new job is just a few weeks, and this one will see her joining the Jeremy Renner-starring Gary Webb biopic, Kill the Messenger, as the character of Dawn Garcia, who was Webb’s editor at the “San Jose Mercury News.” Just a year or so ago people might have been questioning if she could pull this off, but now it’s clear that she can. Let’s just hope that all of these new bonafides don’t keep her from still doing the occasional cheesy action movie now and then. It’s important to let your hair down.

read more...

cage

What is Casting Couch? It’s a gathering together of the industry’s casting news, a collection of that last little bit of work agents are doing before they abandon their desks for the extended holiday weekend. Today we’ve got new Woody Allen players, new Beach Boys, and new jobs for Mary Elizabeth Winstead. A deal is currently on the table that may lead to Nic Cage starring in director Terry Zwigoff’s (Bad Santa) next sure-to-be-crude film. The project is called Lost Melody, and if the negotiations with Cage go well it will see him playing a man who decides to give up hope regarding his shrew wife in order to fall in love with a prostitute (that old mid-life crisis cliche again?). Zwigoff co-wrote the script with Melissa Axelrod, who seems to have worked doing odd jobs for the director going all the way back to Crumb. [The Wrap]

read more...

Susan Burke

Last year, audiences couldn’t find two more distinct movies dealing with alcoholism than Flight and Smashed. While Robert Zemeckis‘s film dealt with an all-out reckless drunk, big dramatic plot points, and John Goodman, director James Ponsoldt’s Smashed approaches the matter with a more character-driven and religion-less narrative, with the assistance of the film’s co-writer, Susan Burke. Burke, who also works as standup comedian, didn’t want the lead character in Smashed, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, to suffer simply because she’s an alcoholic. It isn’t a movie that punishes its characters or says with a million exclamation points, “Drinking is bad.” Smashed isn’t grim in the way we generally associate movies featuring alcoholism, but a dramedy that isn’t built around misery porn and, as Burke says, indie quirks. Screenwriter Susan Burke made the time recently to discuss with us the advantages writing a film over standup can have, avoiding dire plot points, and more:

read more...

Aural Fixation - Large

When one thinks of a party mix songs by artists like Bart Davenport, Cass McCombs, and Sonny & The Sunsets are not usually what come to mind, but then again, Smashed is not a film that simply shows you how much fun you can have while under the influence – it is an honest (and sometimes honestly hard to watch) look at what it means to live your life in a haze and what happens after you make the decision to come out of it. As I said in my review of the film, Smashed focuses on the life of Kate, played with brutal honesty by Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Kate is not a Ke$ha style party girl, but she is a girl who likes to have a good time and can be spotted indulging in some “hair of the dog” before heading off to work (as a school teacher, mind you.) This slow, unassuming, almost innocent look at Kate’s life is reflected in the film’s soundtrack which is filled with more mellow artists (like those mentioned above) and composed pieces from Andy Cabic and Eric D. Johnson.

read more...

Mary-Elizabeth-Winstead-and-Octavia-Spencer-in-Smashed

Editor’s note: With Smashed hitting limited release this week, please delicately sip (or chug down, your preference) our Sundance review of the film, first published on January 24, 2012. Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) seems to lead a charmed life – she has a loving husband, friends, and a job teaching first grade that she is passionate about. But the one thing that is always present in Kate’s life is alcohol. She and her husband, Charlie (Aaron Paul), spend every night getting (wait for it) smashed on beer, liquor, really just whatever alcohol is available. The drinking (while excessive) appears to be just a harmless part of their lifestyle, but when Kate shows up hungover to work (and throws up in front of her class), one of her students asks if she is pregnant and Kate confirms the lie, figuring it is a better excuse than the truth.

read more...

Cloud Atlas releases this month

This September wasn’t a bad way to get out of a summer slump. If any of you were disappointed by this past summer’s films, last month should have picked up your spirits. You were either in awe or disappointment over Paul Thomas Anderon‘s The Master, but whatever camp you fall into, at least you more than likely had thoughts about it. Rian Johnson‘s Looper completely lived up to the hype, wonky time travel logic and all. And we got Dredd 3D and End of Watch, two B-movies which exceeded expectations. Not a bad way to start a new season. There are plenty of offerings for every taste this October including one with a bug-eyed, jacked up, and horrifying Matthew Fox who apparently will be taken down by Tyler Perry. Keep reading for a glimpse at seven other movies you should run and skip to the theaters for.

read more...

TIFF Review Smashed

Smashed takes a look at alcoholism through the eyes of a married couple, Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Charlie (Aaron Paul), who should so happen to both be alcoholics. Their relationship is completely based on their shared love of a bottle of beer, wine, whiskey, tequila, and such other recipes for liver disease. After an incident at her job (elementary school teacher, oops), Kate decides to try getting sober, which proves to not only be a massive personal undertaking, but one that puts a huge strain on her marriage. Smashed quickly proves that Kate’s alcoholism, while not good for her, is exactly what makes her relationship with Charlie seem great. Before we reach the point where it’s clearly more than a just little problem and the audience is ready to call for their own intervention, the scenes of Paul and Winstead together on screen (while obviously self-destructive) are fantastic to watch. We see the couple doing such mundane things as playing croquet and riding their bikes, but these scenes are so beautiful that we really get a sense of their connection. 

read more...

Mary-Elizabeth-Winstead-and-Octavia-Spencer-in-Smashed

We underestimated Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Sure, the actress has turned in a number of charming performances over the years (including roles in the criminally underrated Sky High, the generally forgettable Final Destination 3, and her calling card role in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), but her work in Sundance favorite Smashed is so brutally accomplished and so worthy of praise that it’s more than a bit stunning. In the film, Winstead plays one-half of an alcoholic couple (her husband is played by Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul) who realize that their lives are no longer sustainable and they must make a change. It sounds like heavy stuff, and it is, but the film is also lively, funny, and honest. It’s solid work, and Winstead is the best thing about it. In her Sundance review of the film, our own Allison Loring singled out Winstead’s performance as the marquee attraction of the film, calling it “stunningly honest” and one that “keeps you engaged and caring about Kate (even in her darkest moments) from beginning to end.” While this first trailer might edge more to the light side of things, make no mistake, Smashed hits hard. Take a sip and check it out after the break.

read more...

Benjamin Walker in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

“The joke ends in the title” has been a popular selling point for the makers of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Now, with the film out in the world, there will inevitably be question over that statement. However, what no one can question is the all-out seriousness the cast and director Timur Bekmambetov took Seth Grahame-Smith‘s material. There is no 21st century irony in sight here. Namely, there’s the lead of the film – Benjamin Walker, who goes as straight-faced as one can in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. No matter how ridiculous the situation – Lincoln running on top of horses or, you know, killing vampires – Walker never winks or smirks at the silliness. Here’s what Benjamin Walker had to say about the melancholic superhero nature of Abraham Lincoln, adjusting to makeup, and how the film is a Lincoln biopic which just so happens to have blood-thirsty vampires roaming around:

read more...

Just as the fears of global cataclysm at the end of the last century fueled films like Deep Impact and Armageddon, the ticking clock to December 21, 2012 has led to more end-of-the-world movies that rely on something larger than a zombie outbreak or a deadly contagion (although those have been recently popular as well). The latest entry into Hollywood’s obsession with the Earth’s last days is the apocalyptic rom-com Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and if the Mayans were right, that might very well be the last one made. Film School Rejects responds to your concerns about the end of the world, as evidenced by the Apocalypse Soon feature currently running on this site. While you’re catching up on these films to see before the end of the world, we wondered who would be the best people to spend that time with. Steve Carell’s character gets to spend the end of the world with Keira Knightley, and here are some cinematic characters with whom we’d like to spend our last days.

read more...

Benjamin Walker in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

It’s hard to imagine how Abraham Lincoln could loom larger in the American mythos, but Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter appears to have found an answer. After all, what could compare with the awesome legacy of saving the Union and emancipating the slaves quite like prolifically slaying the undead on your downtime? Timur Bekmambetov’s adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s mash-up novel (the author also wrote the screenplay) offers a vision of Honest Abe (Benjamin Walker) as an avenger hellbent on the destruction of bloodsucker bigwig Adam (Rufus Sewell) and the rest of his kind after vampire Jack Barts (Marton Csokas) murders Lincoln’s mother with just one bite. The movie cleverly reworks both the familiar events of the 16th President’s life and some broader archetypal period moments, and Grahame-Smith and Bekmambetov stick closer to the historical record than you’d think. When he’s not studying the law or romancing Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) in Springfield, Lincoln is serially, secretly disposing of hidden vampires. His close companion Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson) aids him on his otherworldly mission. Jefferson Davis recruits the undead to the Confederate Army. The tragic 1862 death of Willie Lincoln is given a fresh spin.

read more...

“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” is not the most cinematic of books. If Seth Grahame-Smith‘s novel was a completely faithful adaptation, it’d make for a ten-hour movie. In its translation to the big screen, the story has been stripped down to a two-hour, atmospheric, and violent 3D actioner. The director who took on the challenge of bringing Smith’s tonally tricky novel is Timur Bekmambetov, the filmmaker behind Night Watch, Day Watch, and Wanted. Like his previous films, Bekmambetov once again blends both fantasy and reality with his Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. He plays with more than a few fantastical and silly ideas, but always keeps them attached to the real world. This time around, though, Bekmambetov gets to capture that style of his with 3D. Here is what Timur Bekmambetov had to say about the power of 3D, how free dreaming and character informs his visuals, and why Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is his Dusk Watch:

read more...

Benjamin Walker in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Poor ‘lil Stevie Spielberg. Come Oscar season he may have a tough act to follow with his Daniel Day Lewis-starring Lincoln pic, the one which probably won’t feature Lincoln’s finest achievements: chopping off vampire heads, marrying Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and getting Anthony Mackie to somehow be your sidekick. All in all, that’s quite the life, as this bloody red band trailer for Timur Bekmambetov‘s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter shows. Check out Abraham Lincoln acting like a “mad man”:

read more...

What is Movie News After Dark? It doesn’t have time to explain it to you, yo. We just gotta get out of here, Mr. White! We begin this evening with the first image from the upcoming fifth and final season of Breaking Bad, courtesy of AMC. And guess what? It’s a shot of Walt (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse (Aaron Paul) standing in a field looking less than pleased with their surroundings. Even though it’s a shot we’ve seen a million times in four seasons, it never ceases to be interesting. 

read more...

Dark Shadows and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter don’t fit the bill of your average summer blockbuster. An adaptation of a slightly obscure soap opera about a vampire? We don’t see those often enough in the summer season. A hard-R actioner featuring one of our greatest presidents shredding vampires to bits? That’s another unheard of type summer tentpole. Although Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s names alone can create money out of thin air, Dark Shadows is not the sort of film we often see as a May release, and the same goes for June’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The man partly responsible for these two going-against-the-norm pictures is author/screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith. Grahame-Smith had to tackle some difficult tasks when it came to making these two projects – like making an accessible Dark Shadows film and adapting his own epic and tonally tricky novel, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Here’s what Seth Grahame-Smith had to say about writing for the screen, the soap-operatic tone of Dark Shadows, and the straight-faced badassery of Abraham Lincoln slaying vampires:

read more...

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter doesn’t exactly pop out as your typical summer blockbuster. To broadly compare it to this season’s offerings: it’s not based on a comic book, isn’t adapted from a toy line, and isn’t a reboot or sequel. All in all, pretty distinct, and I didn’t even mention that the film features one of our greatest Presidents kicking vampire ass. To further add onto that pile, Timur Bekmambetov‘s adaption of Seth Grahame-Smith‘s book is a hard-R summer movie. If you’ve read Smith’s book, then you know it has its fare share of violence. If you haven’t read the book, here’s a good example: it features a vampire slaughtering a baby. Today I spoke with author/screenwriter Grahame-Smith as a part of our summer preview, wherein we briefly discussed how far the film pushes the book’s violence and what type of R-rated material to expect.

read more...

A.C.O.D. is a comedy starring Adam Scott and directed by Stu Zicherman that’s been in the works for a while now. Not much has been reported about it other than a smattering of casting news and the fact that the acronym in the title stands for “Adult Children of Divorce,” however. The conceit of the film is that Scott plays an adult who discovers that he took part in a study about children of divorce many years ago. When he enters into a follow-up study that looks at the sort of adults these children of broken homes have become, that’s when the drama/funny starts. Despite the fact that A.C.O.D. has flown under the radar so far, this is a movie that we’re probably going to be hearing a lot more about soon, because today Deadline Newton broke some big news about new casting. It seems that Scott’s co-star and onscreen love interest on the delightful NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation, Amy Poehler, has agreed to come on board and play his love interest once again, this time on the big screen. Poehler’s character is Scott’s current wife, and apparently she has quite the rivalry going with his ex-wife, who is played by Catherine O’Hara.

read more...
NEXT PAGE  
Twitter button
Facebook button
Google+ button
RSS feed

published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+
published: 12.15.2014
B
published: 12.12.2014
D+


Some movie websites serve the consumer. Some serve the industry. At Film School Rejects, we serve at the pleasure of the connoisseur. We provide the best reviews, interviews and features to millions of dedicated movie fans who know what they love and love what they know. Because we, like you, simply love the art of the moving picture.
Fantastic Fest 2014
6 Filmmaking Tips: James Gunn
Got a Tip? Send it here:
editors@filmschoolrejects.com
Publisher:
Neil Miller
Managing Editor:
Scott Beggs
Associate Editors:
Rob Hunter
Kate Erbland
Christopher Campbell
All Rights Reserved © 2006-2014 Reject Media, LLC | Privacy Policy | Design & Development by Face3