Out of the Furnace

Oscar Isaac in INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Inside Llewyn Davis It’s NYC in the early ’60s, and Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is trying to make his mark on the folk music scene. His efforts seem to be continually in vain though as pretty much nothing works out they way he wants. Is it fate? Or is it simply because he’s a bastard who fouls every relationship he has with his attitude. It’s probably too early to say, but screw it, it’s my column… Joel and Ethan Coen‘s latest is quite possibly their best and most mature work. From Isaac’s brilliantly nuanced performance to those of the supporting cast (including John Goodman, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, F. Murray Abraham, and others), from the fantastic score to the gorgeous cinematography, this is a tremendously affecting look at one man’s struggles against the world and himself. The Coens’ script is a work of art from which more beauty is born, and I really can’t recommend the film highly enough. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of]

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The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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outofthefurnace

“There are now two Americas. My country is a horror show.” The above summary is of an an impromptu speech The Wire showrunner David Simon delivered at “The Festival of Dangerous Ideas” in Sydney this week. Simon’s work as producer has been characterized by a distinct effort to represent the “great horror show” America he mentions – the America without social mobility, the America where people are left to survive in the marginal social position they’ve inherited, the America without special interest groups to make a perpetual underclass visible in the media and worth pandering to for politicians’ votes. The Wire, as Simon attests directly, sought to represent the conditions and lives of people who are “economically worthless,” a series that lent a rare lens to ordinary people’s endurance in the face of total invisibility in the public sphere. Mainstream contemporary movies and television shows have, perhaps until very recently, almost exclusively surveyed the lives of those with considerable economic worth: audiences with expendable income that can be advertised to during commercial breaks or be expected to buy most movie tickets. But Out of the Furnace and Killing Them Softly – both of which take place in 2008 and were released almost exactly a year apart – offer an incisive lens into a hermetically sealed, economically deprived, and otherwise underrepresented American underclass.

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cooper

43-year-old Scott Cooper didn’t direct his first feature film until he was 37.  2009′s Crazy Heart scored Jeff Bridges his first oscar, and it also made Cooper a director on the rise. The film cost only $7m and went on to earn more than $47m worldwide, making it both a critical and financial smash. That’s not a feat we see often, but for Cooper, he couldn’t have asked for a more welcoming result for his debut. His follow-up, Out of the Furnace, is an entirely different kind of film, featuring an ensemble cast, life and death stakes and suspense. Before it premiered at AFI Fest last month, one of the producers compared Out of the Furnace to The Deer Hunter, inferring that they didn’t set out to make a film that goes down easy. The talent in attendance clearly stated their intention: they wanted to make a movie about America. Not the big booming cities, but the small towns that have been left in financial turmoil. That wasn’t the story Brad Ingelsby‘s set out to write in the beginning. “The original screenplay was based on the idea of a man who gets out of prison and must avenge someone,” says Cooper, delving into the film’s subtext. “The rest all comes from a very personal experience. As I said in those opening remarks [at AFI], I wanted to show the turbulent world we’ve lived in the the last five years. I thought it was important to express my personal and artistic worldview through that lens, and out comes Out of the Furnace.”

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In the future, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford will be regarded as a classic. It’s a haunting epic packed with beauty and brutality thanks to Roger Deakins‘s finest cinematography, Brad Pitt‘s best performance to date, and a narrative that conforms to zero biopic conventions. However, at the time of its release writer/director Andrew Dominik‘s adaptation was a box office dud, grossing less than $4m across the globe on a $36m budget. A part of the problem was that it wasn’t the Jesse James movie Warner Bros. wanted. They were thinking Unforgiven, not two and a half hours of obsession and regret. Heck, they probably would’ve preferred American Outlaws, the other recent financial (and creative) misfire starring Colin Farrell as a plucky Jesse James. To a degree, that’s fair on the studio’s part: wanting the most commercial movie possible from what’s now considered a non-commercial genre. The movie went through various edits due to Warners disliking of Dominik’s cut, but, despite their efforts, what they released still wasn’t the shoot ‘em up they were hoping for. Instead the result was something people have developed an immense passion for since its 2007 release. This Saturday in New York City there’s a revival screening of the film, and several sites (including us) have used the event as an excuse to praise the flop. If you’re in New York and have the time and money, do not miss out. The Assassination of Jesse James is a theatrical experience every one of its acolytes should experience. One of its greatest […]

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DF-08470.CR2

Willem Dafoe is a chameleon, and everyone knows it. He’s ruled as Emperor to the Green Martian Tharks, done a painfully human portrait of Jesus, terrorized Spider-Man, eaten a bird as Max Schreck, and, of course, convincingly played a Huey Lewis and the News fan. Yet, that handful of roles doesn’t even begin to cover half of the shapeshifting Dafoe has done over his career. He can carry a picture, light some sparks with only a few minutes of screen time, or, in the case of The Fantastic Mr. Fox, have his voice do all the work. In Out of the Furnace he plays John Petty, a low-rent gangster Rodney Baze Jr. (Casey Affleck) does underground fights for. All of Dafoe’s scenes either involve Affleck, Christian Bale, or Woody Harrelson. Working opposite of those three isn’t exactly a bad day’s work. Dafoe has acted with some of the best (including himself in Spider-Man) and the topic of what makes a compatible scene partner came up when I spoke with him recently.

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Film Title:  Out of the Furnace

Editor’s note: Our review of Out of the Furnace originally ran during this year’s AFI Fest, but we’re re-posting it now as the film opens in theatrical release. Sometimes it seems like the future is rapidly approaching, with more and more information being digitally consumed and smartphones attached to the palm of almost everyone’s hand, but there are still places that are untouched by time, where family and community are paramount. It may seem like a simpler life, but Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace shows just how difficult life in an industrial community on the decline can be. Russell (Christian Bale) and Rodney Baze (Casey Affleck) are two brothers trying to carve out fulfilling lives for themselves in the wake of hard times and the deteriorating health of their father. Russell is a good man who seems content to work hard for his family and his girlfriend Lena (Zoe Saldana), but Rodney is more of a loose canon. As a solider recently called back for another tour overseas, the younger Baze brother is wrestling with some serious demons.

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The Wolf of Wall Street

After years of anticipation, the wait is nearly over. Worry no longer: 47 Ronin is finally coming to theaters. The Keanu Reeves vs. CG monsters movie somehow wound up with a Christmas release, and it’s one of the most bizarre Christmas releases in recent history. Universal either has immense confidence in the film or is blatantly dumping the mega-expensive picture into a snow-covered grave. Thankfully, 47 Ronin isn’t the only movie you can see this wonderful Holiday season. If it turns out to be a dud, you can watch 47 Ronin director Carl Rinsch‘s collection of fantastic commercials and short films online for free instead, and if that still doesn’t do it for you, then there are nine other films for your must-see list this month.

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outofthefurnace

There are many factors that grab a person’s interest in seeing a film – the actors, the director, the material that inspired the film, the film’s trailer, but with more and more popular artists and bands trying their had at composing, sometimes hearing new music from these artists can be just as big of a draw. Artists like Daft Punk, The Chemical Brothers, and Trent Reznor have taken to the sound stage to create music for films such as Tron: Legacy, Hanna, and The Social Network (with Reznor and Atticus Ross even winning an Oscar for their efforts), but what if these recognizable artists were considered a distraction rather than an enhancement to the films they are featured in? Out of the Furnace was rumored to have tapped Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam fame to create new music for the film – a solid choice considering the success Vedder had creating the music for Into the Wild. Vedder’s music was one of the highlights of that film and proved he understood how to create music for picture as much as he does for the stage. But Out of the Furnace director Scott Cooper seems to have changed his mind about this decision. While Vedder did create new music for the film, Cooper decided to take it out in favor of Dickon Hinchliffe’s score citing that Vedder’s music was, “… so powerful that it took me out of the narrative.”

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furnace

When the first trailer for Scott Cooper’s (Crazy Heart) Out of the Furnace hit, it made the movie seem like a pretty safe bet right away. The footage had a tattooed, rusty authenticity to it, the story featured stakes that were immediate and grave, and the cast—well it’s just a really good cast they’ve put together. But then, in the second half of the ad, what originally looked like a simple, gritty revenge story suddenly gave way to religious imagery, corny flashbacks, general melodrama, and a soaring Pearl Jam song over the soundtrack that made the whole thing seem like it just might be too pretentious and overbearing to reach its potential. Now there’s a second trailer out for the film though, and while it’s mostly a remix of footage that was already shown in the first, this time the focus is more on the danger of getting involved with a bunch of criminal hillbillies, and this time some girl doing a sort of panicked cover of Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’ provides the soundtrack, so everything gets presented with a much more haunting tone and less of a bro rock one. Check it out, really, it ends up working so much better.

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Out of the Furnace

Christian Bale doting on his brother. Economic hardship. Boxing. Right off the bat, the trailer for Out of the Furnace can’t help but recall 2010′s The Fighter, even if Bale has a little less Boston in his speech and a little more bulk on his frame. But soon enough, Out of the Furnace distinguishes itself and the real story becomes clear. Bale plays Russell Baze, a steel-mill worker whose brother becomes involved in a local crime ring and disappears. After every effort to find his brother has failed, Russell takes the law into his own hands to uncover the truth.

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Scott Cooper’s followup to 2009’s Crazy Heart has been making a lot of headlines lately due to all of its impressive casting announcements. Out of the Furnace is a movie about an ex-con trying to get his life together after getting out of prison. Unfortunately, the world is a tough place to live in, and bad things happen. So when the protagonist’s little brother gets caught up in some shady dealings that have an unfortunate end, he finds himself in a situation where he has to turn his new leaf back over to the dirty side, in order to seek revenge. A huge chunk of the cast has already been filled out by signees that were made official just a few days ago. Christian Bale has long been locked for the role of the lead character, Russell. And after his casting came names like Casey Affleck, who’s playing the little brother who meets a tragic end, Zoe Saldana, who is the Bale character’s love interest, and Sam Shepard, who’s all set to play his uncle, Red. Only one thing’s left: who’s going to play the villain? Every good crime movie needs a good bad guy, and with the cast that Out of the Furnace already has in place, not just any old actor will do for this one. You bring in somebody unestablished—without any chops—and he’s going to shrink when standing next to screen presences like Bale and Affleck. No, this movie needs a big damn personality, and if a […]

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Confirming some long-rumored casting picks, and even throwing in a surprise or two, Relativity Media has just sent around a press release detailing confirmed casting for Scott Cooper‘s Out of the Furnace. After the critical success of his directorial debut (which was nominated for three Oscars, ultimately winning two, including Jeff Bridges’s long-deserved first Academy Award), Cooper has been attached to a number of projects, but Out of the Furnace will be his first film since 2009. The release confirms that Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Zoe Saldana, and Sam Shepard are set to star in the gritty drama. Bale has been on board as lead Russell Baze since August, but this is the official confirmation of his role. Affleck and Saldana have been attached to the film since March as Bale’s younger brother and love interest, respectively, but back then, Robert Duvall was mentioned to take Shepard’s role as the Baze brothers’ uncle, Red. Still up in the air? The villain role – once rumored to be played by Viggo Mortensen or Billy Bob Thornton. At this point, they could cast anyone in this role, as the current cast is a fantastic collection of talents.

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UPDATED: Since publication the Variety story sourced has been updated to reflect breaking news that Mortensen is out as far as this film goes, and that Casey Affleck is being thought of as the front runner to play the role of Bale’s brother. Trading Mortensen for Affleck doesn’t really change the sentiment of this article, as that’s still a great cast of actors. Let’s just hope that Affleck’s name doesn’t get nixed, or this editing process is going to get real complicated. Since we first heard about the conception of Scott Cooper’s follow-up to Crazy Heart, Out of the Furnace, nearly a year ago, the project has moved forward and casting has begun. So far it’s been confirmed that Christian Bale will play the lead role, that of an ex-convict who is sucked back into the criminal world when his brother is murdered and he consequently vows revenge. But there’s also some intriguing maybes floating around out there as well. Variety has news that a trio of exciting actors are negotiating for or interested in taking supporting roles in this crime drama. Firstly, Avatar and Colombiana star Zoe Saldana is in early negotiations to play the role of the Bale character’s ex-wife. She’s a small town waitress married to the local Sheriff. Secondly, Robert Duvall is “expected” to come on board to play Bale’s uncle. And lastly, Viggo Mortensen is said to be interested in playing the part of the villain, who I would assume is the guy who murdered the […]

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Since news is pretty slow after the summer months (since everyone goes on vacation after their vacation), the biggest announcement isn’t really news at all. It’s more of a dartboard for movie fans to throw sharp objects at, but that definitely has its place in our wonderful world of speculation. So put on your opinion hats, and let ‘er rip. According to Variety, Christian Bale has avoided choosing a project to work on after The Dark Knight Rises because he wanted to focus all of his energies on playing Bruce Wayne one last time. However, there’s also a list of movies that have their doors open to the actor: Clint Eastwood’s re-remake of A Star is Born starring Beyonce Knowles (Harry’s younger sister) Michael Mann’s securities exchange fraud drama Gold Spike Lee’s Old Boy remake Scott Cooper’s 1970s revenge throwback Out of the Furnace Darren Aronofsky’s Biblical epic Noah There’s no information beyond that, and it’s perfectly possible that Bale could pass on all of these projects in order to opt for something else, but given the list here, what movie would you rather see him in? My money’s on his beard-growing ability for Noah, but Variety’s announcement also ignores reports that Bale will be teaming up again with Terrance Malick. That could take years, but it’s at least something solid. What do you think? Where does Bale fit best?

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We’ve yet to see a follow-up film from Scott Cooper since his much lauded Jeff Bridges as an alcoholic country singer film Crazy Heart made its rounds on the awards circuit, but that appears ready to change. Relativity Media bought a spec script back in 2008 called The Low Dweller. It’s the story of an 80s era Indiana convict who gets out of jail and tries to set about putting together a normal life, but instead gets sucked into a revenge scheme after his brother is murdered. A fairly anonymous Pennsylvania man named Brad Ingelsby wrote the original script, and when it was bought it was Relativity’s intentions that Leonardo DiCaprio would star and Ridley Scott would direct. Those plans have changed considerably, but DiCaprio is still on the project in a producer’s role. Now the film has been re-titled Out of the Furnace, and Cooper has been hired not only to direct the film, but also give the script a rewrite. It was reported back in November that Cooper was also involved in a remake of the Argentinean film Carancho, so it remains to be seen where this film ends up falling on his to-do list. Either way, the news of a movie studio hiring a director to bring to life a spec script that isn’t attached to any sort of pre-existing property or centered on a product or corporate logo should be reason enough to celebrate. Right? Source: Deadline Birdseye

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