Patricia Clarkson

armie hammer harrison bergeron

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. Armie Hammer, who stars in the title role of Disney’s The Lone Ranger, has not been in many films. His first leading role was playing televangelist Billy Graham in the religious, indie biopic Billy: The Early Years, but it’s only since his memorable turn as both Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (aka “the Winklevii”) in 2010’s The Social Network that he’s become a major Hollywood player. It might have been earlier had the George Miller Justice League movie happened, but the casting of Hammer as Batman was not meant to be. Instead, in addition to the double duty as Mark Zuckerberg’s legal adversaries, he’s played prominent supporting characters in J. Edgar and Mirror Mirror and a deleted minor part in Hall Pass. Hammer’s “short start” came not at the very start of his career, but following the Graham film and a number of television gigs, the first of which was as a featured extra on Arrested Development (see him utter his one line here). His appearance in Chandler Tuttle’s sci-fi film 2081 was still a year before he broke out, and yet even for a short it’s a pretty plum role for a relative unknown. He plays the main character in this 25-minute adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s 1961 story “Harrison Bergeron.” Set in the titular year, it’s a tale of a dystopian future in which everyone is equal […]

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The casting news for Zal Batmanglij’s next film with co-writer and leading lady, Brit Marling, continues to be my latest obsession. We know that the pair’s film The East will focus on an eco-terrorism group that is infiltrated by a hired agent, and that plotline, paired with Batmanglij and Marling’s apparent interest in fringe groups and their draw (look no further than their Sundance hit Sound of My Voice for proof of this), is enough to get me outrageously excited for the indie thriller. But as the film rounds out its casting, my excitement level is verging on simply unmanageable. Marling is already in to star as the undercover agent, dispatched by a private security firm that works to protect large corporations from eco-terrorist groups like the titular the East. Marling will get more involved than she anticipated, however, as her character will end up falling for the leader of the group, to be played by Alexander Skarsgard. Ellen Page is also on tap to play a member of The East, one who also has a romantic past with Skarsgard. The production has now added Patricia Clarkson in the role of Marling’s corporate boss, along with Brit Toby Kebbell, who is in negotiations for a role as “a doctor who was treated with a tainted drug that caused him to have Parkinson’s-like symptoms.”

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr flexes his rippling muscles and sets out to live a warrior lifestyle, just like Jason Momoa in Conan the O’Barbarian. But before he can do that, he has to drive a stake through his neighbor’s heart, since he’s certain he lives next door to a vampire. What else could all those sparkles be about? Meanwhile, he sends his kids off to a dangerous 3D, Aroma-Vision mission, hoping they can make it as real spy kids so they can teach him to put on a fake British accent and woo a not-quite-British Anne Hathaway.

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Culture Warrior

The cinematic doppelganger effect seems to happen on a cyclical basis. Every few years, a pair of movies are released whose concepts, narratives, or central conceits are so similar that it’s impossible to envision how both came out of such a complex and expensive system with even the fairest amount of awareness of the other. Deep Impact and Armageddon. Antz and A Bug’s Life. Capote and Infamous. Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Observe and Report. And now two R-rated studio-released romantic comedies about fuck buddies played by young, attractive superstars have graced the silver screen within only a few short months of each other. We typically experience doppelganger cinema with high-concept material, not genre fare. To see two back-to-back movies released about the secret life of anthropomorphic talking insects, a hyperbole-sized rock jettisoning towards Earth’s inevitable destruction, a Truman Capote biopic, or a movie about a mall cop seem rare or deliberately exceptional enough as a single concept to make the existence of two subsequent iterations rather extraordinary. Much has been made of the notion that Friends with Benefits is a doppelganger of No Strings Attached (the former has in more than one case been called the better version of the latter), but when talking about the romantic comedy genre – a category so well-tread and (sometimes for better, sometimes not) reliably formulaic that each film is arguably indebted to numerous predecessors – can we really say these films are doppelgangers in the same vein as the high-concept examples, or […]

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr goes retro this week and injects himself with strange chemicals in an attempt to become a World War II era super soldier. Hop over to the Fat Guys at the Movies page to see if his physique has reached the pinnacle of that of Chris Evans from Captain America. After recovering from the procedure, Kevin randomly wandering the streets, looking for hot ladies like Mila Kunis who just want to have sex but with no emotional baggage of a relationship. Sadly, this will probably end up as empty and worthless as his similar attempt last January when No Strings Attached came out.

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I think of all of the things I would consider myself (an underestimated athlete, occasionally decent word maker-upper, deceptively intriguing coffee maker…), a connoisseur of the modern romantic-comedy is probably not amongst them. I’ll admit to stopping upon a Matthew McConaughey flick from time to time on a basic cable channel while I fold my laundry, cut my nails, or other things that really make me not sound very masculine. In my defense, I only do those things whenever a rom-com is on and so I blame the estrogen emitting from my television.

The point is, I purposely don’t watch many romantic comedies and when I do I really don’t pay much attention. It isn’t because I inherently don’t like them, it’s because they unfortunately have a very, very strict formula that’s about as predictable as the average American Friday date night. “What do you wanna do? Dinner and a movie? Okay,” equates to “Hi. I like you but I don’t know it yet. I know it now. You made me cry and run away. You ran after me? I love you, kiss my face.”

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Didn’t we just do this? More than most Deep Impact/Armageddon-style movie releases, the double dose of emotionless sex comedies has felt eye-rollingly boring. Fortunately, this trailer for Friends With Benefits makes it clear that this particular emotionless sex comedy takes things in a far more mad-cap direction than the Kutcher/Portman pairing. Justin Timblerlake busting some Kriss-Kross, Mila Kunis mocking Katherine Heigl movies, Patricia Clarkson doing some light S&M roleplaying, and Woody Harrelson stealing laughs as a gay man (who presumably can’t jump). It’s all here without even a hint of LOVE getting in the way of SEX. Not in this trailer at least:

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Emma Stone is up to her elbows in boys that want to pretend to sleep with her. In the movie Easy A she plays Olive, the smart girl that’s generally ignored by her class who gets a taste of popularity by way of infamy and continues to trash her own reputation in order to have one. She pretends to have sex with a gay classmate in order to boost his social status, and what results is a trip into a world of perception, heartache, trying to get with the school mascot, and a big red A on her chest.

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Ah yes, the high school tramp. Every red-blooded American male has at least one tale involving backseat shenanigans, broom-closet blowies, and trips to the pharmacist.

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Based on the real life backstory of the 1980 U.S. Men’s Hockey team, a team that defied all odds and rallied a nation by defeating the Soviet Union during a time of great sociopolitical tension, Miracle is also the very human story behind one of the greatest moments in sports history.

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whatever-works-1

The combination of Woody Allen’s return to New York City and Larry David’s presence as the lead in his new film never pays off as it should.

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phoebe-header

For those of you who aren’t down with Watchmen and live in a few select cities, you might want to check out a dark little fairy tale called Phoebe in Wonderland.

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Elle Fanning in Phoebe in Wonderland

Today, a promo reel for another delightful indie, entitled Phoebe in Wonderland, has hit the web. It features young Elle Fanning, little sister of Dakota Fanning.

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A cute, whimsical movie that lacks a bit of magic, but showcases a great performance from little Elle Fanning.

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Stanley Tucci directs himself and Patricia Clarkson in a film that might have an audience to find — it just won’t find one here.

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