Michael Roskam

The Drop

It’s been a little over a year since the world lost James Gandolfini and his many talents, but it’s making the transition a little softer knowing that the late, great actor still had several films in the can when he passed. The final film of that bunch is set to arrive, meaning The Drop is the last new film in which we’ll ever see the former Tony Soprano do what he does best: intimidate the hell out of everyone around him and boss around one or two or a dozen shady individuals. The Drop, directed by Michael R. Roskam (Bullhead) isn’t just a vehicle for showcasing Gandolfini. As all good crime movies begin, the trailer starts us off in a very ornate, probably Catholic church where our protagonists are likely attempting to repent for some unforgivable sins. Might as well have the big guy on your side if you’re going to get tangled up in something that could leave you riddled with bullets. Gandolfini is Marv, the owner (or maybe not?) of a bar where his cousin Bob (Tom Hardy) helps out bartending and watching his back. Now the trouble with Marv, and a little bit with Bob, is that they both have criminal pasts — Bob has opted to leave his there, while Marv is letting his leak more and more into the present, where it’s infecting the business of the bar, and the well-being of his family, including Bob’s love (Noomi Rapace), who has taken on an excellent concerned — […]

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George Clooney

What is Casting Couch? The day’s casting news, all in one place, because you’re a very busy person. At this point we don’t know anything concrete about the secret project Brad Bird is directing over at Disney. It’s largely being developed under the code name 1952, but for a minute it was being called Tesla. It’s rumored to be a science fiction film involving aliens, but in what regard isn’t clear. It’s said that Disney is thinking of it as a major tentpole release, but why it would have such mass appeal is being kept under wraps. All we have is rumors. And the latest rumor for the pile, courtesy of Variety, is that The Facts of Life star George Clooney is currently negotiating to star. If this proves to be true and Bird lands Clooney, that would be a pretty big step toward making this the blockbuster sort of feature that Disney wants it to be. And, generally, what Disney wants, Disney gets.

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Michael Roskam

The subtitle of John Vaillant‘s book “The Tiger” proclaims it as “a true story of vengeance and survival.” In the current state of filmmaking, there are a handful of directors that would be perfect for the bill, and Bullhead director Michael Roskam is most definitely on the short list. His Best Foreign Film nominated flick about the illegal bovine growth market in Belgian was an aggressive and stunning portrayal of personal retribution and loneliness. According to Deadline Hollywood, Roskam is taking over the job vacated by Darren Aronofsky, and that’s undoubtedly good news. Not that it wouldn’t have been interesting to see Aronofsky’s take, but this way we get him shooting Noah and Roskam has another potential-filled project lined up to shine for. The story for The Tiger focuses on an animal activist who has to stop a tiger that’s killing people in a small Russian village. Beyond the plot, it will no doubt be brimming with subtext and metaphors. It’s also based on true stories, if you care about that sort of thing. At any rate, getting more Roskam films should be celebrated. The man is a fresh voice that will hopefully find the kind of footing that will lead to continued success and continued work. Now let’s hope Roskam doesn’t fall prey to the curse that often befalls foreign directors entering into the American filmmaking machine.

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Editor’s note: This review was originally published as part of our Fantastic Fest 2011 coverage on October 16, 2011. But because this bonafide FSR favorite is hitting limited theaters this Friday, February 17, we’ve decided to re-post so that more of you can get intrigued by this modern masterpiece. Fantastic Fest is always my favorite week of the year. The lineup is jam-packed with great films, many that have already garnered buzz on the internet or at other festivals, but plenty more that I’ve heard nothing about. Every year I’m surprised by some films and completely blown away by others. This year, I was surprised and blown away by the same film, Michael Roskam’s Bullhead. If I told you that Bullhead is a brooding character study that would be true. If I told you that Bullhead tells a story about Belgium’s illegal hormone trade, the mafia that moves the chemicals, and the beef farmed from the animals injected with those chemicals that would be true too. But I doubt either of those facts would make you want to see this film. I’ll admit that it sounds boring and a tad ridiculous. It’s not. It’s an engaging, intelligent and powerful film that sticks with you.

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People say there’s nothing new under the sun. While I don’t completely buy into that (mainly because I don’t like the idea that original thought has been totally extinguished) there are thousands of years of recorded history from before I was even born, and the idea that someone else might have thought of something before my lifetime isn’t too far-fetched. Either way, it’s just plain fact that our creative output comes complete with telling signs that we were influenced by the creative output of others that came before us. While we all might not end up as blatant as de Palma “borrowing” (quite liberally) from Hitchcock, our work still serves as a showcase for the works we idolize. It’s widely acknowledged that George Lucas found inspiration for parts of Star Wars in Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress, but it’s perhaps gone unnoticed that a line can easily be drawn from Kurasawa and Star Wars straight through to Michael Roskam‘s Oscar nominated film, Bullhead.

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