Michael Shannon

Zack Snyder

Superman doesn’t look all that happy in these first two (near identical) teasers for Zack Snyder‘s Man of Steel. If you thought Bryan Singer‘s Superman was an unbearable mope, wait until you get a peak at Snyder’s, who has apparently made one of our greatest heroes in the galaxy a bearded, lonely and sad fisherman. You can’t get more “gritty” and “real” than that shocking transformation. Check both teasers out below, one with Kevin Costner narrating and one featuring Russell Crowe’s melodic grumbling.

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Kevin Bacon has shared many things throughout his career from fancy dance moves to the angle of his dangle, but the most important has to be the revelation made apparent by his long forgotten 1986 film, Quicksilver. What did that movie teach us you ask? Simple… movies about bike messengers are incredibly boring. Hollywood heeded that warning for twenty-six long years, but now the writer/director of Ricky Gervais’ Ghost Town thinks he’s figured out how to make bike messengers relevant and interesting again. The secret appears to be a combination of Michael Shannon and bicycle parkour (or bikour if your prefer). Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the unfortunately named Wilee, a bike messenger in Manhattan whose latest assignment finds him pursued by a corrupt cop (Shannon) who won’t rest until he gets his hands on Wilee’s package. Check out the trailer for David Koepp’s Premium Rush starring Gordon-Levitt, Shannon, Dania Ramirez and Jamie Chung below.

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UPDATE: After speaking with the head of WETA’s marketing, we can confirm that the sizzle reel mentioned below was not WETAs. Again, this IMDB posting should be taken at arm’s length, and there’s also the possibility that Rothbart got the effects company wrong, but if these scenes are real, they are not the work of WETA. Original posting follows: There was never much doubt that Man of Steel would have a comic book feel. It was only slightly less guaranteed than it looking like a Zack Snyder movie. The Warners mulligan on Clark Kent is set for theaters in June of 2013, but apparently WETA just showed two scenes as part of a sizzle reel that played at a fancy gathering with smoked salmon and a bunch of visual effects artists. Allegedly, one of those effects wizards, Jonathan Rothbart (Avatar, Priest, Iron Man), posted a description of the scenes on the film’s IMDB message board. He was pretty excited. Here’s what he (spoilerifically) had to say:

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Take Shelter

The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained. The Film: Take Shelter (2011) Curtis LaForche (played by Michael Shannon) lives a relatively uneventful, normal small town life. He and his wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain in one of many standout performances in a quite busy 2011 year in film) get by on his income as a construction worker and her selling of homemade pillows at a flea market. Despite their financial troubles trying to afford a surgical procedure to aid their young daughter’s hearing disability the two don’t have much in the way of a disheartened life. Then, Curtis gets struck with a nightmarish vision of a looming mega-storm that could represent the apocalypse. Initially, he brushes it aside as just a terrible dream, but as the experiences get increasingly more frequent, personally violent, and unsettlingly ‘real’ Curtis decides to throw caution to the wind and prepare for his family for what he believes to be an imminent threat of a frightening, indescribable major disaster. As he succumbs further and further to his visions Curtis also battles the known reality that paranoid schizophrenia is not foreign to […]

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Culture Warrior

For the first time in recent memory, I’m going into Oscar Sunday having no idea who is likely to take home many of the major awards. I’m sure there are entire websites out there devoted to an accurate prediction of who and what will take home the gold on Sunday, but there seems something a bit different about this year. Of the nine films nominated, I don’t have a clear sense of what would be the top five had AMPAS not changed the number of entries in the top category. While The Artist may clearly have more of a chance than, say, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, there’s no grand battle between likely leads like there was between The King’s Speech and The Social Network last year. And I don’t think I’m alone in stating that this year’s uninspiring list of nominees seems to reflect a growing indifference against the ceremony itself. Sure, on Sunday, like I have every year since I was eleven years old, I’ll watch the entire ceremony from beginning to end. And, like every year since I was twenty-one years old, I’ll make fun of the pompous and excessive self-congratulatory nature of the proceedings. But while in most years I have had some skin in the game, besides the two nominations afforded to the excellent Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and the presence of the transcendentally excellent Pina in the Best Documentary Feature category, this year I didn’t even get a sense that the Academy was awarding […]

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The premise of Return lends itself quite easily over to the plot synopsis of a Lifetime movie. Conveying the unsteady returning home of a soldier isn’t exactly breaking new ground, and it’s not the easiest type of story to tell. Night terrors, big breakdowns, and digging holes in the backyard, all tonally difficult and usually trite scenes. None of those scenes are in Return. In fact, writer/director Liza Johnson‘s film relies a good deal on silence, not so much on “loud” drama. For the film’s star, Linda Cardellini, that’s what she seemed the most taken with. As Kelli, Cardellini plays messy, flawed, and extremely difficult without ever giving a “big” scene to explain it all. Here’s what actor Linda Cardellini had to say about how to pronounce Cannes, how little details can inform a performance, and relying on silence:

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Jeff Nichols

One of my most anticipated films of the year is Jeff Nichols‘ Mud. Nichols is behind one of, if not the, best films of 2011: Take Shelter. With only two pictures under his belt, he’s quickly established himself as a filmmaker to get excited about. Earlier today Nichols was kind enough to make the time for an interview to discuss Take Shelter, for the upcoming Blu-ray release. We discussed an array of topics, and Mud was briefly covered. Nichols was hard at work in the mood swing-sounding editing room when we spoke, and although he stated he’ll have clearer answers for the movie once it comes out, the writer-director shared enough details to give us a small sense of what to expect from Mud. After talking about the love-hate relationship with editing, the joy of shooting the Mississippi river with 35mm anamorphic cameras, the no bullshit (and awesome) attitude of Sam Shepard, Nichols touched upon the themes of the film:

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I heard good things about Liza Johnson‘s Return after its Cannes premiere, and since then I’ve been watching out for it. Why? Well, for the most ultimate of starters, it starts Linda Cardellini, an actress I wish we saw more of. The last time I saw Cardellini appear in a film was in James Gunn‘s (awesome) SUPER, and that was only a cameo. She could make your heart wrench or fly on Freaks and Geeks, and it’s a real shame Cardellini hasn’t yet had any feature films to work with that give her that type of strong material to work with. But apparently Return does. Even the reviews that didn’t praise Return as a whole made special mention of Cardellini’s performance. The trailer for the film has an impressive low-key and claustrophobic buildup, and you can definitely see where the praise for Cerdellini is coming from. And, hey, Michael Shannon. Check it out after the break.

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Michael Shannon in Take Shelter

You’ve seen Michael Shannon before. Many times before. Similar to screen veterans Chris Cooper or Dylan Baker, Shannon is one of those actors who has had an extended career in front of the camera long before anyone really took notice of him. Even though he has been in films since the early 90s, he gained a strong national presence in 2009 with an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in Revolutionary Road. Shannon is getting more attention now with the independent hit Take Shelter, playing a man named Curtis who starts having apocalyptic visions, leading him to build an underground shelter to protect his family. With Take Shelter in limited release and acting award buzz building, Shannon took part of his lunch break from his “super” schedule to chat with Film School Rejects about his career and what he hopes will happen with this stand-out independent film.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr strips down to his boxers and starts a new training regimen to make him look more like Huge Jackman. He’s got a head start, considering his torso looks almost like Jackman’s… if you turn it upside down. After duking it out with some robots in a boxing ring, Kevin tries his hands at politics because it’s the kind of business where you don’t necessarily have to look like Ryan Gosling to get a young hottie like Evan Rachel Wood. But the primary system leaves him depressed and cold, so he takes a trip to the Sudan to play target practice with some warlords. He hears the Sudan is simply lovely this time of year.

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31 Days of Horror - October 2011

We continue our journey through a month of frightening, bloody and violent films. For more, check out our 31 Days of Horror homepage. Synopsis: It’s a love story between a psychologically damaged man and an emotionally damaged woman! Sounds romantic, right? Oddly, it kind of is. As the relationship strengthens between Peter (Michael Shannon) and Agness (Ashley Judd), the further Shannon’s character believes that little bugs are eating away at the two of them. Slowly the duo turn towards great insanity and chipping away at their bodies bit by bit to survive these apparently vicious bugs.

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The main deception of Jeff Nichols’ apocalyptic drama Take Shelter is that its plotline can be summed up so quickly and cleanly, though the film itself neither passes quickly nor lets anyone get away cleanly. And that’s meant as a compliment to the film (and Nichols and his entire cast and crew), one that mines a simple idea to its most fulfilling (and often unsettling) ends. The film stars Michael Shannon as Curtis, a family man who starts having disconcerting visions of nature gone mad (black rain falling from the sky, clouds that roll and swirl too swiftly, birds dropping dead at his feet), and responds in the only way that seems wise – he builds a souped-up fall-out shelter for his wife and daughter. As the layers of Curtis steadily get peeled back, it becomes obvious that it’s not just this singular (and relatively new) fixation on the end of the world as we know it that’s driving the man, as Curtis’ creeping concerns that he’s actually going insane have a real world root. His mother is crazy, and in a basic, hard-and-fast way. And she has been since, well, since approximately the same age Curtis is now. The delusions and nightmares and visions and creeping paranoia would be enough to make anyone worry, but with a possible genetic predisposition to psychosis, it’s a wonder that Curtis hasn’t broken down sooner.

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Machine Gun Preacher is a biopic that does not sugarcoat its violent lead. Unlike most bio films, this is not about a common man rising to become a perfect hero, but instead, a true anti-hero. Sam Childers — biker turned preacher turned freedom fighter — is not the most likable man in the film. Not only would you never want to hang out with him on a weekend, but even after finding Jesus, he commits inexcusable acts. The violence of Childers, at least when he is in Central Africa, is not part of those inexcusable acts. Many critics have said the film takes a very right-wing stance — and perhaps it does, at times — but the methods Sam uses are very black-and-white. He’s an eye for an eye guy. When Sam uses violence to save children, that’s when he becomes his true self. However, when he’s asked to be the father of his own family, that doesn’t come as easy. Again, not your average hero. Recently I had the opportunity to speak with screenwriter Jason Keller about his dynamic lead’s acts, as well as the themes of the film, not making a lifetime movie, and the process of writing for a true visionary.

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Marc Forster‘s Machine Gun Preacher is a humanistic picture. Despite the atrocities conveyed in the film and the fact that the story focuses on an actual anti-hero, the director managed to end on a hopeful note. Some call it dopey, I say humanist. Even with the upbeat nature of the film, there’s a slightly dark moral dichotomy; should a former junkie and criminal, Sam Childers, be the one leading a freedom brigade? Are his methods necessary or justifiable? Sam Childers isn’t the only character with his own moral conundrum, as one is also a part of Lynn Childers, played by Michelle Monaghan. This is the second time I’ve interviewed Monaghan, and like the first time, she reminded me of that popular girl in high school who was cool with everybody. Some actors look like they’re two seconds away from killing themselves during junkets, but Monaghan comes off like she couldn’t be more pleased to be discussing her work — with a guy like me interviewing her, I’m not sure how she does it. Here’s what Michelle Monaghan had to say about the ending of Source Code, the moral dichotomies of Machine Gun Preacher, when journalism and acting collide, passion projects, and the greatness of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

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No one can ever criticize Marc Forster for covering the same ground. Thematically, all his work ties together, but rarely does he play with a certain genre more than once. Over the past ten years he’s made a James Bond picture, a meta drama, an adaption, a 90 minute nightmare, and a raw family drama, and is now working on an epic zombie film. Forster is not only an eclectic filmmaker, but a candid one. In our interview for his latest drama, Machine Gun Preacher, the acclaimed director could not have spoken more objectively about his work, and what people think of it. Prime examples: Quantum of Solace and Stay. Upon the the release of both films, they were heavily criticized, and unlike how most directors may have responded to such criticism, Forster didn’t go with a simple “they didn’t get it.” In our chat, he openly discussed issues with some of his work, along with capturing his imagination, making blockbuster films personal, and the ethics of Machine Gun Preacher.

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In Premium Rush, Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a bike messenger that picks up a dangerous package that has him chased all over New York City. The result is a bit like Torque without the engine crashing into Enemy of the State. At least that’s what the trailer makes it feel like. This isn’t the first film from director David Koepp, even though he’s more well known as the writer of films like Jurassic Park, Death Becomes Her, Mission: Impossible, Spider-Man and two dozen others. His bread and butter is broad entertainment with flair. Cue applause from fixed-gear enthusiasts. What potentially sets this high concept apart is its cast. Gordon-Levitt is a hell of an actor, and he’s joined here by Michael Shannon playing (surprise) a bad guy and Jamie Chung playing (surprise) an attractive ex-girlfriend who gets him into the mess. Check it out for yourself:

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A couple weeks ago a spy photo from the set of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel made the Internet rounds. It contained what appeared to be Michael Shannon wearing what appeared to be a motion capture suit. If that was the case, then that would mean General Zod, the Evil Kryptonian General that Shannon is playing in the film, would have a completely computer generated outfit akin to the super suits in the recent, awful looking Green Lantern. Okay, so your opinion may vary, but I thought that the effects in Green Lantern looked horrible. Depending on whether you agree with me or not, a recent interview that Shannon did with MovieFone could either make you weep or make you cheer. It turns out that yes, that was Michael Shannon in that photo, and yes, the General Zod costume will be created using CG. When asked about the motion capture suit Shannon said, “ … it’s funny because when I met with Zack we were talking about it before it started and he mentioned that there was going to be a lot of CGI, or whatever. I said, ‘Just don’t make me wear one of those silly suits.’ He said, ‘Oh, yeah, don’t worry, I know exactly what you’re talking about.’” It turns out that Zack Snyder is a liar. Shannon is wearing the suit. However, even though Shannon was forced to wear a silly suit because of Snyder’s lies, he assures everyone that fans will be happy with how […]

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Machine Gun Preacher! It’s not just fun to say! It’s a movie, too! Marc Forster’s latest (the one before the World War Zadaptation fans everywhere are already bemoaning) focuses on a true-life story that comes oh-so-conveniently pre-packaged with a catchily-nicknamed protagonist. The film stars Gerard Butler as that supposed “machine gun preacher,” Sam Childers, a former drug dealer who turned his life around to save the often-orphaned children of East Africa, youngsters forced into the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to serve as soldiers before they’re even old enough to properly wield a gun. The synopsis for the film makes the story seem fantastic, and in the hyperbolic sense, because the concept of a former drug dealer saving African child soldiers by way of going straight into the belly of the beast and rescuing said kids by hand (and with a machine gun) is all a bit too much to believe. Yet, Childers is indeed a real person, and Forster’s film does depict some real life instances in between a mess of standard action film beats. Take a look at the boom-boom-pow trailer after the break.

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Michael Shannon recently spoke to an audience at the RiverRun International Film Festival, and since he was just cast as General Zod in the now officially titled Zack Snyder Superman movie Man of Steel, talk of course turned to that. What sort of a rigorous casting procedure did Shannon go through to land such a big role in such a big movie, you might wonder? Shannon describes his meetings with Snyder; “So I go meet him and he’s seriously sitting there and he’s telling me, he’s like, ‘You can’t read the script, so I’m just going to tell you what happens.’ And he spent like a half hour telling me every scene in this movie. And then it’s a month later, it’s like ‘Okay, you’re General Zod.’” Whoa, that sounds easy. Maybe I should be an actor.

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If you’re anything like me, you’ve long been a fan of Crazy Michael Shannon. This person bares a striking resemblance to Actor Michael Shannon, but one can only assume that they are two different people. When Actor Shannon slips into one of his many wonderfully insane roles, he becomes a new man entirely. This will help him in the near future, as he has signed on to play the villain Zod in Zack Snyder’s Superman: Man of Steel.

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