Patrick Wilson

cc young adult

Jason Reitman‘s fifth feature film, Labor Day, hits theaters this Friday, but while I haven’t seen it yet the advance word has been a far cry from the critical acclaim his movies usually receive. To be fair, it’s also by all accounts a different beast from Reitman’s previous films as it concentrates more on the drama than on the acerbic, darkly comedic wit. It’s for this reason that I decided to go back a few years to Reitman’s last film, the blackly comic, emotionally tragic, and sadly under-seen Young Adult, for this week’s commentary listen. Well, that and the fact that one of the best films to play this year’s Sundance, Listen Up Philip, reminded me positively of it. Both movies are excellent entries in the canon of “asshole cinema” in that their lead characters are irredeemable pricks struggling to conceal their humanity and causing all manner of hilarity and emotional distress along the way. Charlize Theron plays a young adult novelist who returns home to her small town to reclaim her high school boyfriend (Patrick Wilson) in the hopes that it will knock her out of the doldrums of both her career and her life. Her efforts don’t quite go according to plan and instead she’s forced face to face with the reality of the person she’s become.

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Carnahan

Joe Carnahan is a director whose work has improved at such a rapid pace, pretty much everyone was caught by surprise when his 2012 survival thriller The Grey ended up being as good as it was. Even fans who were enthusiastic about his previous work like Smokin’ Aces and A-Team weren’t ready for what a deep and affecting meditation on mortality and the mercilessness of nature that movie ended up being. And the studio suits certainly didn’t know what they had on their hands with The Grey. Despite the fact that it was good enough to end up on a whole bunch of critics’ end of the year lists for 2012, they released it in January when the crap that they’re not optimistic about generally gets dumped, and they mis-marketed it as some sort of exploitation film where Liam Neeson boxes a pack of wolves. Just imagine the awards potential it could have had if it was released in the fall and was effectively marketed as the powerful drama it proved itself to be. What’s the point of bringing all of this up? Well, it looks like Carnahan’s followup to The Grey—a  movie called Stretch that’s said to be a darkly comedic thriller—is also experiencing some problems thanks to the studio people who are supposed to be supporting it. So many problems that, at the moment, there isn’t even a solid plan to put it out anymore.

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review insidious chapter 2

Some sequels continue unfinished stories from where their predecessor left off, but others just use the name as a launching pad towards something completely different and usually far inferior. I’m looking at you Meatballs Part II. Happily, director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell have gone the former route with the follow-up to their 2010 horror hit, Insidious. Unfortunately, that’s one of only a few things to be happy about here. Josh and Renai Lambert (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) have just survived a ghostly ordeal, but when Josh returned from the other side where he found and rescued their son Dalton (Ty Simpkins), he brought something evil back with him. Chapter 2 picks up in the minutes and days that follow as the Lamberts move to Josh’s mother’s (Barbara Hershey) house only to discover the horror is ongoing. Ghosts roam the halls, threats of violence hang in the air, and Josh is no longer the man he once was. Insidious: Chapter 2 is for the people who actually liked the final minute of Insidious as opposed to seeing it as the only low-point in an otherwise fantastic horror film. There are fun moments to be had here, but they’re front-loaded and minimal when compared to the sloppy, cluttered, and frequently ineffective rest.

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insidious-chapter-2-03

If you’ve already seen the first trailer released for James Wan’s upcoming horror sequel, Insidious: Chapter 2, then you’ve got the basic gist of what’s in its new international trailer as well. It’s starts with the same heart-warming footage of a family enjoying each other’s company, takes the same turn when it starts to look like their troubles might not be over after all, and then ends with the same stinger of that creepy dude yelling in Patrick Wilson’s face about having his baby. If, like many, you’re a huge fan of the first Insidious and are anticipating the hell out of this sequel, you’re still probably going to want to take a look at the second trailer though. Not only does it include even more spooky-looking ghosts than the first did, and a few more of those tense moments that Wan is getting so good at creating (Have you seen The Conjuring yet? It’s terrifying), but it also provides some hints regarding the further world-building that this next installment in what now seems likely to become the Insidious saga is going to be doing. To be more specific, it starts to dig a little bit into the Wilson character’s past.

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The Conjuring

The best horror films transcend simple scariness. They create an atmosphere filled with tension that puts a stranglehold on the audience. That reaches through the screen, grabs you and pulls you into the film. Movies like The Exorcist, Poltergeist and Halloween all do this in different ways. It’s a sort of ineffable quality, difficult to put into words, but often characterized by causing goosebumps. I’ve seen The Conjuring twice now, and I’ve gotten goosebumps both times. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga play real life husband and wife paranormal investigation team Ed and Lorraine Warren. The film opens with them going through a famous case of theirs involving a creepy doll, but we then meet the Perron family, Roger and Carolyn (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor) and their 5 daughters as they move into a new home. Things are off about the new house and as the disturbances grow in intensity, Carolyn seeks out the Warrens. Ed is initially reluctant, but they agree to come to the Perron home to help.

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Insidious 2

Since they killed Darth Maul in the first one (I think), the Insidious: Chapter 2 production has gotten a few scarier villains — ones that absolutely hate wire hangers — to take his place. With James Wan at the helm, Leigh Whannel behind the screenplay, and Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson returning to star, the entire creative team that made the first film such a hit is back in full force for the sequel. This time around the story finds The Lambert family discovering a deadly childhood secret that explains why they can’t seem to sever their connection to terrorizing ghosts who want to steal their babies. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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THE CONJURING

The Perron family has a problem. They have just moved into a large, spacious farm house set off a beautiful lake, but around 3:07 every morning, something goes very wrong. Clocks stop, bad smells travel around the rooms, and doors creak and bang shut for no reason. But it is during a game of “hide and clap” that an unknown cellar is revealed and the mysterious occurrences around the house get worse. After one of her daughters is terrorized, Carolyn (Lili Taylor) realizes her family needs help. She seeks out two well-known paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), with the hope they can figure out what, if anything, may be haunting her family. The moment Lorraine enters the Perrons’ home it becomes clear this family is not experiencing rational bumps in the night. The panicked truth playing behind Lorraine’s eyes while she tries to keep her composure showcases Farmiga’s ability to create a layered and captivating performance while amplifying the terror.

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trailer insidious 2

Insidious is one of the best horror films of the past few years, and while some viewers feel the comedic elements in the second half mess with the tone too much the film’s only real failure comes in the final minute. If you’ve seen it you know exactly what I’m talking about. The events of those last 60 seconds seemed to preclude the possibility of a sequel, but director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell apparently think otherwise. The follow-up sees the Lambert family moving on only to discover their nightmare isn’t over. Most of the cast is back along with a new medium who they hope can identify and eliminate the source of their haunting. Turn off the lights, wrap yourself tight in a warm blanket, and take a peek at the trailer for Insidious: Chapter 2.

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The Conjuring

The first trailer we saw for James Wan’s (Saw, Insidious) upcoming horror film, The Conjuring, didn’t really hit all the usual beats that horror trailers do. Instead it played much more like a short film, building to a big scare in the end. It was an effective tactic that really sold the movie as something that was going to scare the pants off you. So it’s pretty head-scratching as to why the approach was completely abandoned for this new ad for the film, which is just about as generic as a horror movie trailer can get, even while going completely over the top with what it gives away. It opens with some faux found footage that looks derivative of every bad horror movie that’s come out over the last five years, moves on to the same invisible-ghost-yanking-the-legs-of-sleeping-people trick that the Paranormal Activity movies have driven into the ground, checks the creepy kids box off of its list, and then goes on to show way more special effects craziness than probably even the feature itself should contain. The rule of that which you don’t see being scarier than that which you do see seems to be completely thrown out of the window here.

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conjuring-poster

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but here’s a poster for a brand-new horror film that promises us that its story has sprung from some true life tales. Crazy, right? Well, perhaps a little less crazy than we’re used to seeing on the big screen. James Wan‘s The Conjuring is actually based on a case file from Ed and Lorraine Warren, noted paranormal investigators and demonologists who were involved with some of the world’s most insane supernatural cases. Remember the Amityville Horror? Yup, it was the Warrens who helped investigate that one. The Conjuring stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as the Warrens, dispatched with investigating “a family terrorized by a dark presence in a secluded farmhouse. Forced to confront a powerful demonic entity, the Warrens find themselves caught in the most horrifying case of their lives.” Sounds fun. The Conjuring opens on July 19th. [Press Release]

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girls patrick wilson

Kate Erbland and I don’t quite agree on this week’s episode of HBO’s Girls. It’s a shame, too, as we’ve been in such beautiful synch recently. The ep opens with a brief appearance by Ray (Alex Karpovsky) before Hannah (Lena Dunham) disappears down guest star Patrick Wilson‘s rabbit hole for a few days of the high life. That’s it… no Marnie, no Jessa, no Shoshanna and still(!) no goddamn Adam. What’s the deal? Keep reading as Kate and I struggle to answer that question below:

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Michael Shannon

What is Casting Couch? It’s the roundup of casting news that knows what Gillian Jacobs is going to be doing with her upcoming break from Community. All that time in the bushes finally paid off. Most people probably thought Wild Things director John McNaughton’s career hit its zenith when he directed Wild Things. That movie was basically the most ’90s thing ever, and it practically introduced the concept of the three-way to the square community through the communicative power of Denise Richards’ boobs. He may yet top that work though, because Deadline reports that he’s just recruited the best actor in the world, Michael Shannon, to star in his upcoming thriller The Harvest. The film will star Samantha Morton as a successful heart surgeon and Shannon as her co-dependent husband. Its conflict comes in when their sick son meets a new friend, and suddenly the very controlled routine that Morton’s character has created starts to break down. Sounds like a creepy mom.

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Insidious

Despite producer Jason Blum’s initial comments that he wouldn’t get behind a sequel to 2010’s possession horror, Insidious, unless he was presented with a story that really made sense, it always seemed like a sequel was going to be inevitable anyway. Not only is Insidious one of the mostly widely well-reviewed horror movies of the last decade, but it also managed to make a whole bunch of money without having a very big budget. That’s too good of a formula for the Hollywood money-making machine to abandon. So, sure enough, last February we got word that director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell were both coming back, and Insidious 2 was officially in the works. The press release issued for the film today [via ComingSoon] brings a couple of more surprises with it as well, though. Despite the fact that the original Insidious ended with a situation that looked pretty grim for the family that it featured, and you might have imagined that a sequel would introduce us to a whole new cast of characters battling a similar evil spirit, the money men behind this sequel say that Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, and Ty Simpkins will all be back for this new film, reprising their roles from the original. Is it likely that Wan and Whannell have come up with a great story that will bring these characters back for more hauntings and manage to make sense in the process, or can we take the returns of the […]

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Bradley Cooper and American Sniper

What is Casting Couch? It’s a daily movie news column that that wants to make you a star, baby. Filmmaker Cameron Crowe hasn’t said much about his next project. We don’t yet have a title or a plot synopsis for it. But what we do know is that it’s said to be similar in tone to things like Almost Famous and Jerry Maguire, and it’s got Emma Stone playing a lead role (and it might just be a rewrite of his Deep Tiki script from years ago). So basically, expect something that lines up with Crowe’s best work and stars one of your favorite actresses. Sounds great. The new news regarding the project is that Crowe is reportedly close to finding his male lead. Deadline Hollywood says that he has his eye on Bradley Cooper, and he’s close to making a deal happen. Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone in a Cameron Crowe movie? Yeah, that should be enough to get the attention of every person of every gender and sexuality ever. Remember how we reported that Christopher Nolan’s regular DP, Wally Pfister, is going to be directing his first movie, it’s going to be called Transcendence, and it’s going to star Johnny Depp? Well, all of that stuff is still true, but the L.A. Times has dug up even more information. Turns out the film is actually going to have three leads, and Pfister is very game to get Christian Bale to sign on as number two of the three. Anyone out there want to see Johnny Depp […]

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In 2010, Patrick Wilson got haunted in Insidious. In 1999, Lili Taylor got haunted in The Haunting. Now the two are heading back into the haunted house together with Vera Farmiga and Ron Livingston in James Wan’s The Warren Files. Now they’ll have children to look after as ghosts chase them around in New England. According to Variety, Mackenzie Foy (Twilight) and Joey King (who will play young Talia Al Ghul in The Dark Knight Rises) have both been tapped to play young members of the based-on-real-life Perron family who claimed they were living with spirit from beyond in the 1970s. Taylor and Livingston play the adult members of the family, while Wilson and Farmiga play ghost investigators The Warrens. So, for those keeping track, with Insidious, The Warren Files and Insidious 2, James Wan is going to be telling ghost stories for a long time.

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Commentary: Hard Candy

In honor of our brave rejects battling the snowy terrain and darkened theaters of Sundance, we felt it best to revisit a recent breakout hit from the film festival. As luck would have it, a shiny, slightly used copy of Hard Candy ended up in the DVD player this week. It’s called serendipity. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a fine film, and there is sure to be plenty to gleam off of the actors involved. That’s right. Actors. We’re giving the directors/writers/producers/best boys a break this week and delving into the minds of Hard Candy‘s two leads, Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson. It’s the first time we’ve checked out a commentary involving only actors. This uncharted territory could be rocky, or it could be fascinating. One thing is for sure, though. The chances of it being boring are about as slim as Wilson’s character ever getting the upper hand in this film. So here, in all of its uncomfortable glory, all the great things we learned from listening to Patrick Wilson and Ellen Page talk about Hard Candy. We’ll keep the Goldfrapp comments to a minimum.

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“Guys like me are born to like girls like you.” If you’re one of those guys – someone who finds unrelenting asshole women irresistible – Young Adult will leave you with a new crush. If you’re a socially normal human being who knows how destructive an asshole can be, Young Adult will leave you with a new on-screen enemy. I fall in the middle. Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) could not be further from likable and sympathetic, and that’s the whole point. The young adult writer, not the most subtle character trait, is never glorified as being a “cool smokin’ bitch,” something that she only starts off as. As the film progresses, the beautiful womanchild is stripped down to something so ugly, unappealing, hopeless, and, in some uncomfortable ways, a little relatable.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr goes rogue and infiltrates his local IMAX theater. First, he scales the wall of the plus-sized building and slides in undetected through the air vents. He slowly lowers himself into a theater seat to enjoy an early screening of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Unfortunately, he finds himself in the middle of a wild crowd of six-year-old kids for the early screening of the latest Alvin and the Chipmunks movie. To deal with the psychological damage, Kevin then stumbles into the Sherlock Holmes sequel and later finds an extra seat in Young Adult, where he can imagine that his chubby caboose could land a hottie like Charlize Theron.

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In an unprecedented move, 20th Century Fox will be holding a massive “sneak preview” event for Cameron Crowe’s We Bought a Zoo a full four weeks before the film opens for the Christmas holiday. The film, scheduled to go wide on December 23, will now take over a different holiday, playing in more than 800 theaters around the country on the Saturday of this year’s Thanksgiving weekend, November 26. The studio is reportedly holding the sneak previews based on positive test screenings, in hopes that the massive launch will spawn both good word-of-mouth from regular filmgoers and a spat of fresh reviews from critics who shell out their own cash to jump the review gun. Fox is also partnering with TOUT (some sort of social media hub that I’ve never heard of that relies on “video status updates”) to allow viewers to post reviews of the film (presumably via quick video snippet). Fox is also reportedly crafting a larger social media campaign that includes tie-ins with Twitter and Facebook. Based on Benjamin Mee’s memoir, the film follows a single dad (Matt Damon) who hopes to reinvigorate his family life with a new home – one that’s in the middle of a ramshackle zoo whose rebuilding the family takes on. The film also stars Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Elle Fanning, and Patrick Fugit. The last two trailers for the film have won the hearts of both myself and our own Cole Abaius, so here’s hoping that the film delivers on its promise.

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In a post-Juno world, director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody have re-teamed for a much darker spin on inappropriate maturity levels and their inevitable consequences. Whereas their hamburger phone-chatting, bon mot-spouting teen Juno was almost too mature for her own good, their latest heroine is undoubtedly too immature to even be considered a real adult. In Young Adult, Charlize Theron plays Mavis Gary, a YA author who has much more in common emotionally and intellectually with her characters than she does with anyone her actual age. Mavis heads back to her small hometown, still gorgeous as ever, but with a real chip on her shoulder (to put it mildly). Mavis wants her high school sweetheart back (Patrick Wilson), and she doesn’t care if he’s married, and she doesn’t care if she’s a real bitch to everyone else, and she just…well, she just doesn’t care. Check out the first trailer for Young Adult after the break, with bonus Patton Oswalt as one of Mavis’ former classmates who is also a bit stuck in the past.

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