Michelle Williams

johansson-kitchen

What is Casting Couch? It’s the same casting news roundup that it’s always been, but today Cannes started up, so it’s got a little extra juice. Christoph Waltz, Bradley Cooper, Michelle Williams, Joel Edgerton: they’re all in here. Seeing as Jon Favreau made more money than science knew existed with his two installments of the Iron Man franchise, he’s basically the kind of director who now has the power to do anything he wants in the film industry. So it was kind of refreshing to hear that what he wanted to do was make a simple indie movie called Chef about a chef who falls on hard times and tries to make his comeback by opening a food truck. But now Variety has reported that he’s gone and hired Scarlett Johansson to play his love interest in the movie, and suddenly his motivations don’t appear to be all that down to Earth. Johansson is an underrated actress and will probably be fine in the film, but—come on! Try to not let all of that power go to your head, Mr. Favreau. We’re watching.

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review oz great powerful

Hollywood trend #74 goes like this. Pick a classic children’s tale that hasn’t been adapted in the past few years, say Alice in Wonderland or Snow White maybe, then build a new film around it that substitutes excessive CGI for imagination and physical comedy for characterization. Oh, and be sure to improve upon the source material by throwing in a big third-act battle between armies too. Anyway. Oz the Great and Powerful is a new look at a land we are all too familiar with thanks to L. Frank Baum’s books and a little movie called The Wizard of Oz. Director Sam Raimi‘s film predates Dorothy’s classic adventure to show how the wizard actually became the wizard in the first place, but just because it takes place in a magical world doesn’t guarantee a magical experience.

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Oz the Great and Powerful

If Disney’s Oz the Great and Powerful ends up being another Alice in Wonderland-level exercise in style over substance, the parallels to its main character are going to be too obvious to dismiss. In the film, James Franco plays Oscar Diggs, a Kansas con-man magician who does tricks illusions and enjoys tricking illusioning people out of their coins. During a hot air balloon stunt, he’s pulled into a tornado and whisked away to the strange land of Oz where three good witches (played by Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams) implore him to rid the world of a wicked witch. The only problem? He only talks a big game, and he might not be able to deliver any real magic. The plot in its vague form mirrors The Wizard of Oz directly, and the look of the universe tries for the CGI expansiveness of Alice, but hopefully Sam Raimi has been able to make the movie his own. With a new trailer comes new hopes and concerns. It looks like a lot of fun, but some of the dialogue (and the delivery) sounds like first draft exposition. It’s also not hard to think of Franco as a bored actor at this point, and there’s nothing here to disabuse anyone of that notion. However, the callbacks to the 1939 classic are spot-on and exciting. Maybe this could be a real epic after all.

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Michelle Williams

The story behind the publishing of Irène Némirovsky’s “Suite Française” is an interesting one. When World War II first started, Némirovsky was a successful writer living in Paris, but by the time 1942 rolled around, she was a prisoner being held in Auschwitz, the prison camp where she eventually died. Somewhere during this period she managed to write the entirety of “Suite Française,” however, in microscopic handwriting, in a single notebook. Believing it to be a personal journal, Némirovsky’s daughter kept it until the late ’90s without ever reading it. Then, after thumbing through the pages and realizing that she had one of the first literary works about World War II ever written, she decided to have her mother’s book published, and it wasn’t long before it became a bestseller. The book’s Amazon description describes its plot by saying, “Beginning in Paris on the eve of the Nazi occupation in 1940. ‘Suite Française’ tells the remarkable story of men and women thrown together in circumstances beyond their control. As Parisians flee the city, human folly surfaces in every imaginable way: a wealthy mother searches for sweets in a town without food; a couple is terrified at the thought of losing their jobs, even as their world begins to fall apart. Moving on to a provincial village now occupied by German soldiers, the locals must learn to coexist with the enemy—in their town, their homes, even in their hearts.”

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It’s been three years since a Sam Raimi film graced theaters and five since he’s had a box office hit (sorry, Drag Me to Hell), but he returns to the big screen next year with something substantially different than his usual fare. In fact, if the lead were Johnny Depp instead of James Franco you might be forgiven for thinking this was a Tim Burton joint. Oz the Great and Powerful is an upcoming Disney film that posits the origin of L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz (the man, not the story). Oscar Diggs (Franco) begins as a mediocre magician in the dustbowl of a black and white Kansas before boarding a hot-air balloon for an ill-fated ride into a tornado. The journey lands him in Oz where he comes face to face with creatures, people, three witches and technicolor. Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, and Michelle Williams play the three witches, and that’s really all the reason one needs to want to see the movie… Check out the trailer for Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful below.

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Right around the time that the 67th poster of two stars leaning back to back hits theater lobbies is when the pessimism about modern one sheet design starts to creep in. Fortunately, there’s always a handful of excellent posters dotting the year to keep hope alive. Thank you, Oz the Great and Powerful poster, for keeping hope alive:

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Nothing says “summer at the movies” quite like a metric ton of big name blockbusters flooding theaters near you – superheroes on top of superheroes, classic television series brought back from the dead, animated gems about finding yourself – oh my! But with the cinema summer growing ever-larger, the stakes being pushed ever-higher, and enough content to keep audience members in their seats ever-longer, a line has to be drawn somewhere. Which is why all the members of the Voting Body of Film School Rejects gathered together in our secret chambers to vote on just which films have won our Most Anticipated nod. Twenty films emerged from our complicated, decades-old voting process (read: a Google doc) to be crowned winners. Why twenty? Well, there are twenty weeks in the cinematic summer season (if you count May, which we do – April will be included next year if Hollywood keeps this up), and that should give you movie-lovers a reasonable goal to meet for the viewing season. We’ve even managed to pinpoint our most anticipated movie-going weekend of the summer – June 22nd, when four films open in theaters, all of which made our list. But beyond the mathematics that went into picking the summer’s best weekend, there were also some genuine surprises on the list – including big tentpole films missing completely (sorry, Battleship and Dark Shadows), some indies that sneaked in with lots of votes, a battle royale that went down between our number one and number two picks, […]

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Oscar 2012 Predictions: Best Actress

In recent years, the Best Actress Oscar has been a far more compelling race than the Best Actor Oscar. Where Best Actor winners have been those whose time has come (like Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart or Colin Firth in The King’s Speech), the Best Actress Oscar has been a tighter and less predictable race. The roles that have won Best Actress have been increasingly edgy over the past decade or so, as well as honoring relatively younger actresses (including Natalie Portman, Reese Witherspoon, and Hilary Swank). This year offers an interesting mix of candidates who cover a range of ages and experiences. The actresses in Hollywood should be proud that their top roles are about such challenging subjects as sexual identity and female empowerment. This is a more radical turn from the Best Actor field, which has roles dealing with relationship drama, sports and spying. To quote an old cigarette campaign for Virginia Slims, “You’ve come a long way, baby!” It’s been a long way from the early days of Hollywood where more traditional damsel roles were far more prominent. The meatier roles and blockbuster heroes continue to go to male actors, but the real depth of character and challenging subject matter has been making its way to the women of Hollywood, if in a smaller degree at least a more noticeable degree. Read on for the nominations and my predicted winner in red…

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It will be perhaps my greatest cinematic accomplishment of the summer if I can somehow manage to walk out of a viewing of Sarah Polley‘s Take This Waltz without feeling an abject loathing for Michelle Williams. Even now, watching the film’s longest trailer to date, I am filled with a deep, hissing hatred for her character, Margot. That is actually a good thing – it shows just how effective even a monologue- and music-heavy piece of marketing for the film can be, setting the stage for a big, gorgeous, moving film. Polley’s latest film stars Williams and Seth Rogen as seemingly happy married couple Margot and Lou. But when Margot meets a handsome new dude (Luke Kirby) who, oops!, just so happens to live next door to the pair, all bets are off and Margot struggles against her deep and unresolved desires for Kirby’s Daniel. Surprise – she doesn’t succeed, “succumbing to the moments” that this monologue skirts around. Think about the meaning of wedding vows and check out the trailer for Take This Waltz after the break.

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It’s been a year filled with silent screen stars seeking redemption, the 1920s coming alive in Paris, a young boy searching for the first great director, sex addicts in New York City, horses going to war, maids of dishonor, and skulls getting crushed in elevators. Now it’s time to celebrate all of those things and more with the 84th annual Academy Awards. They’ve come a long way since the Hotel Roosevelt in 1929 (although sex addicts have almost always been a fixture). Get to ready to smile, ball your fists with snubbed rage, or be generally unsurprised. Here they are. The 2012 Oscar nominees:

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Attack the Block Chuck Taylor

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that has a bit of a fashion sense, a sometimes sexy side and perhaps even a creepy streak. It will use and abuse all of these facets of its game in tonight’s edition. This one, as they say, is a must-read. We begin tonight with an image of custom Attack the Block themed shoes made by Toni Taylor-Salisbury, whom you may know as Mrs. Junkfood Cinema. The lovely Kayla Kromer tweeted them earlier this evening, as yet another example of Mrs. Salisbury’s amazing work in the realm of geek footwear. You can check out her other work over on her Etsy store. Do it now. Then come back, because there’s more news.

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Simon Curtis’ My Week with Marilyn isn’t really a bio pic. Underneath the core love story of a naive dope, it’s about a clashing of two actors. In one corner, there’s Miss Marilyn Monroe, wanting to be taken seriously. In the other (and more respectful) corner, there’s Sir Laurence Olivier, possibly wanting the fame Marilyn has, at least according to a few characters. Marilyn needs to “find” the character, while Olivier believes it’s all on the page. The veteran actor sticks to his classical roots, while the blonde bombshell attempts more unusual methods. Kenneth Branagh, who portrays an artistically frustrated Olivier, sympathizes with both sides. Underneath their differences, the two portrayals of Monroe and Olivier are similar at heart: they’re both simply trying to create something, but they use the opposite methods. My Week with Marilyn is a deconstruction of what it means to be an actor, and those types of discussions seem to be the kind Branagh revels in. Here’s what Kenneth Branagh had to say about faking the truth, the fright of acting, and how you don’t have to be a murderer to play one.

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With AFI FEST presented by Audi just one week away, fellow FSR-er and AFI FEST attendee Kate Erbland and I went through the impressive list of films on the schedule and selected the ones we are most looking forward to seeing. To the credit of those putting together this year’s AFI FEST, I found myself practically highlighting the entire schedule grid as I saw film after film that had already been on my “to-see” list. From films I have been anticipating for the past few months (Shame) to ones I had not heard of until now (Butter), this year’s AFI FEST looks to be one of its strongest lineups yet. AFI FEST will run from November 3rd through the 10th in Hollywood, with all screenings taking place at The Chinese, the Chinese 6 Theatres, and the Egyptian Theatre. Tickets for all screenings are free (and available starting today, October 27, right HERE). The complete schedule grid is now online for the festival, which you can check out HERE. After the break, check out my list of my top ten most anticipated films of this year’s AFI FEST. Which films are you planning on seeing at this year’s AFI FEST?

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While some lucky individuals have already had the chance to see Simon Curtis’ peek into the life of a sex icon My Week with Marilyn at the New York Film Festival, the rest of us plebeians have to wait until November for our own chance. Now, early buzz for the Michelle Williams (Marilyn Monroe) vehicle has been favorable, however that is not what’s piquing my interest in the project. Rather I’m curious to see the maudlin-looking Williams’ embodiment of the sexpot. Williams is of course a stunning actress when she’s dressed for award season, but we rarely see that beauty on screen as she tends to embrace homely, makeup free characters. Clearly she will add an intriguing element of wistful sadness to the woman many of us wish to be.

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The film adaptation of Claire Messud’s gorgeous novel The Emperor’s Children has faced an unfairly bumpy trip to the screen. Back in 2009, Ron Howard was slated to direct the film from a script by Noah Baumbach. Then the project seemingly fell dead, with no news until March of 2010, when Howard left the project entirely, leaving both writing and directing duties to Baumbach. At that time, a list of attached cast members was announced (including Keira Knightley, Eric Bana, and Richard Gere, with buzz about some other names like Michelle Williams). Production was supposed to start last summer, but of course, it didn’t, and know Baumbach appears to be back out of the director’s chair, with Crazy Heart helmer Scott Cooper stepping in to direct from Baumbach’s script (according to an insider report from Twitch). Cooper burst on to the scene with his Jeff Bridges-starring Crazy Heart back in 2009, a directorial debut so lovely and assured that it earned its star his first Oscar (after being nominated no less than six times). Since then, Cooper has had his own fair share of project whiplash, with rumors that he was on the shortlist for Gangster Squad, news that he was developing his own take on The Hatfields and the McCoys, and attachments to the Carancho remake, Empire of the Summer, and Black Listed The Low Dweller. Which is all a nice way of saying that, just like The Emperor’s Children, there’s been a lot of talk about Cooper, but no […]

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Simon Curtis’s upcoming film starring Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe doesn’t look like the typical film about historical figures. This isn’t a look at Monroe’s entire life, the tale of her rise and fall. This film is, just like the title says, about one week only, the week when Marilyn Monroe went to England to film The Prince and the Showgirl and ended up getting escorted around by a regular guy named Colin Clark. It doesn’t look like it’s really a story about Monroe or her costar in that film Sir Laurence Olivier, so much as it is a character drama that happens to have real life famous figures in it. That’s an interesting approach and it keeps me from dismissing this as just being yet another movie about Marilyn Monroe. The other thing that keeps me from dismissing My Week With Marilyn is the outstanding cast. It’s got veteran performers that are reliable rocks like Kenneth Branagh, Julia Ormond, and Judi Dench. It’s got promising young actors like Emma Watson, and Eddie Redmayne (who was the only thing worth watching in Derick Martini’s new film Hick). And it has an actress enjoying the prime of her career, one of the most talented ladies on the planet, Michelle Williams, in the title role.

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We’ve been following the development of British TV vet Simon Curtis’ Marilyn Monroe film My Week With Marilyn for quite some time. First, there was the news that Michelle Williams had replaced Scarlett Johansson as Monroe. Then we got our first look at how Williams looked when dressed up as the sexual icon. And now we have news of where you’ll get your first chance at seeing the film.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column dedicated to things happening in the world of entertainment. It’s also deathly afraid of Kevin Bacon. It would like to reassess it’s number of degrees and somehow increase from its usual 2 to at least 8. That way Mr. Bacon and his X-Men character can’t clamp its nether regions in the contraption above. At least we think that’s what that thing is. We begin our night with X-Men: First Class and a massive dump of images over at Gamma Squad. From high-res shots of the meticulously crafted costumes to high-res shots of cool CGI mutants to a high-res shot of whatever the hell Kevin Bacon is doing in the photo above. I almost don’t want to know. But I do, because this movie continues to look better and better with every little marketing bit.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It is a nightly movie news column that ain’t afraid of sharks. Just don’t tell any sharks that it said that, because they just don’t need to know about it. It’s also a movie news column that continues to unapologetically report on all things Michael Bay and Doctor Who. If you can’t handle that, there’s other stuff in here, too. Shark Night 3D is a real thing. So real with its bikini-clad Sarah Paxton almost within the grasp of a big ass angry fish. So real with Snakes on a Plane director David R. Ellis at the controls. Oh, who are we kidding? This is going to be ridiculous, bloody and one-step above porn. If we’re lucky.

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The last few weeks have been emotionally exhausting and utterly surreal for me, and visiting with some of my favorite movies for advice has been a big help in moving forward. Of course this isn’t the same as talking with a good friend or crying into a whole box of Dunkin Donuts Munchkins (with sprinkles!), but sometimes the stories unfolding on screen just make you feel better in a way talking and eating just can’t. All my time watching movies has taught me if a heartbroken soul can get through it, head held high and sane, so can I. But where do we draw the line between real and too real when it comes to romance and sex in film? Sex complicates, but does it also have to destroy the lives involved? In Cruel Intentions, sex is used as a key element in an emotionally manipulative game between Kathryn and Sebastian, whereas in Y Tu Mama Tambien sex leaves best friends confused about their future, and in Blue Valentine sex brings upon the end of a relationship representing so many couples before and after. In each of these films, the act itself is both poignant and flawed, and no one walks away uninjured.

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