Oz

Miles Teller and JK Simmons in Whiplash

Do you miss the days when J.K. Simmons was a sadistic, sociopath prison rapist? Nowadays, he’s not so much into the dangerous manipulation and sex abuse – not when there’s a steady line of cop, military and general “authority figure” roles that let Simmons speak to us with his particular manner of sarcastic wisdom. But all those lectures on what we don’t know about our insurance have gotten a little stale. It’s time for Simmons to reclaim his rightful place on the “please stop screaming at me, sir” throne. He’ll do so with Whiplash, this year’s Sundance darling that stars Miles Teller as a young jazz drummer who just wants to make it big, man, and Simmons as the big man who will guide Teller to his dreams of being the next Buddy Rich. Oh, and Simmons’ preferred method of musical instruction is screaming so close to your face that his saliva strands brush your eyelashes. That’s the twist with Whiplash. Unlike most films where a character is super good at playing some kind of instrument, music isn’t the all-enlightening force that will right our hero’s wrongs and provide that outlet for creative expression that lets us know how deep and yet also flawed he is. Here, music is a platform for the scary bald man to beat you, then threaten much worse: he’ll “gut you like a pig” if all drumming is not perfect from now until the sweet release of death. Watch the new trailer for the movie below.

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Mike Johnson is an animator, the co-director of Corpse Bride and an Oscar nominee. For his next trick, he’ll be treading on the sacred ground of Oz in a way that none of the other twenty-nine directors of forthcoming Oz-based movies are attempting. He’s taking the characters into stop-motion territory with Oz Wars. This couldn’t be a better idea if it came with free gold bricks. Johnson has a short but focused resume, and the thought to take these beloved characters into a medium they’ve never been before is inspired. According to Variety, Vanguard Films is taking the task here, and they’ve already used the words “dark,” “sexy,” and “dangerous” to talk about the project. That’s cause for some concern (especially the sexy part), but the original 1939 film was always a bit dark and dangerous, so there’s nothing wrong with that. Now, if they could somehow get Henry Selick involved in some capacity, the excitement here would really go up to 11. As it stands now though, it’s pretty damned cool.

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What Sam Mendes might be doing when he should be directing Preacher.

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