Richard Jenkins

John Krasinski

Frankly, we’re a bit miffed that John Krasinski‘s next directorial effort, The Hollars, is not about an Appalachian family with issues they need to work out or a fake type of currency, but that might just be our own prejudices and personal interests shining through. Instead, the James C. Sprouse-penned screenplay centers on the fictional Hollar family. ZZzzz. Let’s maybe change that. The Hollars will see Krasinski approaching, oddly enough, both Steel Magnolias and Garden State territory. No, really, as Screen Daily reports that producer Tom Rice describes the film as “blending the emotion of Steel Magnolias with the youth-oriented relevance of Garden State,” which is either absolute brilliance or the end of Krasinski’s short-lived directorial career (we’re leaning to the former on this one, though). See? Steel Magnolias and Garden State. It’s right there. Krasinski will also star in the film as John Hollar, a New York artist (we bet he’s hip) who has to return to his Middle American hometown when his mother requires brain surgery. But that’s not all! Hollar will be toting along his lady friend and be forced to face down “his helpless brother, anxiety-prone father and over-eager high school girlfriend” and probably also a bunch of weird, unsettling memories and maybe even a sequence involving juice and/or bad wallpaper.

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acod

Editor’s note: Allison’s review of A.C.O.D. originally ran during this year’s Sundance Film Festival, but we’re re-running it now as the film opens in limited release. According to Carter (Adam Scott), his parents were “married for nine years, but feels like they have been at war for a hundred.” Growing up in the crossfire of his parent’s epic fights and manipulations, it is surprising to discover Carter is now a well-adjusted adult in a healthy relationship of his own, despite being an A.C.O.D. (Adult Child of Divorce.) But when Carter’s younger brother, Trey (Clark Duke), proposes to his girlfriend after only four months of dating, Carter’s issues with relationships, marriage, and (most importantly) his parents, start to come out.

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trailer acod

For those of us who’d like to see Adam Scott get more starring roles, A.C.O.D. is a truly blessed thing. It’s got Scott in a lead role and a long list of talented names (including Richard Jenkins, Amy Poehler, Jane Lynch, Jessica Alba, Catherine O’Hara) in the supporting cast. But most important of all, it looks warm and inviting and chock full of laughs. Scott plays Carter, an A.C.O.D. (Adult Child of Divorce) who has managed to put his messy childhood behind him and lead a relatively stable life. But when his brother (Clark Duke) decides to get married, Carter has to reunite his family and unleash years of pent-up, awkward hostility. Check out the trailer below, courtesy of Yahoo! Movies.

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59761341261826-jackreacher1

Christopher McQuarrie has been trusted for quality ever since his screenwriting debut with The Usual Suspects. It’s an intriguing movie, not only because of the twist we all know, but it’s made even more interesting by the fact McQuarrie knew next to nothing about the 101 rules of screenwriting. It was unconventional, surprising, and entertaining. Most of those adjectives don’t apply to his adaptation of Lee Child‘s character Jack Reacher, but “entertaining” surely does. The lack of surprise becomes apparent from scene one in McQuarrie’s film. It is a mystery story that we already know the answer for, at least a part of it. The first act comes down to James Barr’s (Joseph Sikora), a former Army sniper, involvement in a horrific shooting. We know most of that answer in frame one, and that’s a smart choice on McQuarrie’s part. Based on conventions alone, we already know whether Barr is innocent or not, so McQuarrie doesn’t try to string the audience along for that meaningless mystery, telling us flat out from the start if he did it or not.

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Andrew Dominik

Killing Them Softly is both a surprising and unexpected return for director Andrew Dominik, whose name has been missing from the big screen for five long years. What’s most surprising about the film is that it’s not much more commercial than his previous film, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, a movie which didn’t nearly get its due back in 2007. His latest film is, however, unsurprising in terms of theme: the power of the dollar. After Jesse James didn’t light the world on fire financially, Dominik found it difficult to get other projects off the ground, so money must have been on his mind. And, according to Dominik, it was, and that’s a part of how we got his new political crime picture, Killing Them Softly. Here is what writer and director Andrew Dominik had to say about the film’s slightly cartoonish approach, why the crime genre is so appealing, and the trials and tribulations caused by Jesse James:

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Brad Pitt in Killing Them Softly

After only about five people paid to see Andrew Dominik‘s beautifully poetic The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, the popular belief was that any director in that position would follow up his ambitious financial failure with something more commercial. While Killing Them Softly has far more public appeal than Jesse James, Dominik has fortunately made another film unafraid to polarize. Set in 2008, following the economic collapse, mobsters have been seeking easier ways to make a quick buck or two, there is no clear order left, and, in this America, as the smooth contract killer Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) puts it, you’re on your own. Cogan — who’s sort of the protagonist — is brought down to New Orleans after a series of robberies hit Markie Trattman’s (Ray Liotta) poker games. With criminals afraid to play and spend their money, it’s Cogan’s job to get them back to playing, by finding the two men responsible for the latest theft, two big time losers named Frankie (Scoot McNairy, now holding the record for the most number of irritating characters in a single year) and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn). This reads as all fairly simple, but there’s more to this story than the trailers have been leading us to believe. Killing Them Softly is, in fact, almost more of an angry, loud voicemail left for the politicians who aren’t all that different from the lost, scrambling criminals we see in the film.

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What is Casting Couch? It’s where Hollywood moms come every day to find out if their actor kids have gotten a job. Remember that movie about the day JFK got shot that Tom Hanks was putting together because these days he’s such a history loving, lame dad? It’s called Parkland, and it just put together an awesome cast. According to Collider, director Vincent Bugliosi has signed the terrific trio of Paul Giamatti, Jackie Weaver, and Billy Boy Thornton to headline the cast. There’s no word on what characters they’ll be playing, but my guess is Giamatti will be JFK, Thornton will be Jackie O, and Weaver will be Lee Harvey Oswald. Makes sense, no?

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Jack Reacher Tom Cruise Robert Duvall

Lee Child has published seventeen novels with lead character Jack Reacher, and this December one of them will finally be hitting the big screen. Reacher was a military policeman once upon a time, but just because he no longer carries a badge doesn’t mean he’s forgotten wrong from right. Now he wanders the nation from one state to the next, and like Bruce Banner and Sam Beckett before him he helps those unable to help themselves. “One Shot” (renamed simply Jack Reacher for the movie) is the ninth book in the series and sees him investigating a mass shooting in Middle America and the man arrested for the crime. Reacher has some very specific characteristics, mostly focused on his size, that should have realistically precluded any actor under 6’3″ from playing him onscreen. Hollywood though is a magical place where respect for the written word isn’t always a priority, so Tom Cruise was cast in the role. Cruise, as we all know, stands 3’7″ which led to a fair amount of bitching and moaning online about his giant ego in a tiny body ruining such a kick-ass literary character. But books and movies are two different mediums, and changes big and small are inevitable when adapting between them meaning the resulting films should be judged on their own merits. We got a glimpse of those merits with the first teaser back in July, but today the full trailer has dropped offering us a look at the story, writer/director Christopher McQuarrie‘s sense […]

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Liberal Arts Movie 2012

Editor’s note: Liberal Arts opens in limited release this Friday (just in time for back-to-school!), so please enjoy our Sundance review of the film, originally published on January 23, 2012. Triple threat Josh Radnor‘s first feature, happythankyoumoreplease, debuted at Sundance in 2010, hitting big with the crowds and ultimately winning the Audience Award. The film was written and directed by Radnor, who also starred in it as a disaffected twentysomething struggling to make meaningful connections with others in big, bad New York City. Radnor’s latest outing, Liberal Arts, is written and directed by Radnor, and stars the multi-hyphenate as– well, you probably know the rest. But while happythankyoumoreplease was perhaps too much of a classic first feature – complete with overly precious touches and too much reliance on the magic of coincidence and not enough emphasis on the sort of things that actually happen in the real world – Liberal Arts sees Radnor and his craft maturing wonderfully, which is startlingly in-line with the aims of the actual film.

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Robert Redford in The Company You Keep

Just last week we reported that Robert Redford’s latest film, The Company You Keep, managed to score a distribution deal before it even played any festivals. Well, the film is gearing up to play Venice and Toronto regardless, so TIFF has released a trailer promoting it. Complete with typewriter sounds and vintage news footage, said trailer starts off by making The Company You Keep look like it’s going to be an authentic, journalistic look at the history of the radical anti-war group The Weather Underground, but then we’re suddenly dumped into present day, and it’s revealed that this is actually going to be a fun-looking chase movie about the last few members of the movement still being on the run from the law. The Company You Keep is full of grizzled old activists/bank robbers, plucky young reporters, plucky young F.B.I. agents, action, intrigue, murder, and a cast that features names like Redford, Susan Sarandon, Shia LaBeouf, Brendan Gleeson, Anna Kendrick, Terrence Howard, Nick Nolte, Sam Elliott, Richard Jenkins, Chris Cooper, Brit Marling, Julie Christie, Stephen Root, and Stanley Tucci.

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Robert Redford in The Company You Keep

The latest directorial effort from screen legend Robert Redford, The Company You Keep, was all set to make a big splash and impress distributors at the upcoming deal-making feeding grounds that are the Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals, but a new development is making it look like the film’s screenings at those fests are going to come off as something of an afterthought. If you’ve got a used car that you need to get rid of, or maybe some old exercise equipment lying around that you’ve been thinking of putting on eBay, then maybe you should think of having Redford write the ad copy for you, because it seems that he’s something of a salesman. THR is reporting that the director, along with his fellow producers Nicolas Chartier and Bill Holderman, have already struck a deal with Sony Pictures Classics to handle all U.S. distributions rights for the film. Based on a book by Neil Gordon, The Company You Keep stars Redford himself as a former Weather Underground militant, wanted for bank robbery and murder, who gets exposed decades after his crimes by a meddling young reporter (as played by Shia LaBeouf).

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Andrew Dominik is not a prolific director. After bursting onto the scene in 2000 with the violent biographical tale Chopper he waited seven years before releasing the critically acclaimed The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford with Brad Pitt. The film was universally praised by critics, but theater-goers have notoriously short attention spans meaning most of them moved on to something else before they even finished reading the title. (The ‘something else’ in this case was a one-two punch of Resident Evil: Extinction and Good Luck Chuck, so shame on you America.) Five years later and Dominik is finally returning to the screen, and he’s bringing Pitt along with him. Killing Them Softly is a blackly humorous crime thriller about a pair of low-rent amateurs who rob the wrong poker game. Pitt plays a mob man brought in to find and handle the pair, and the film follows his efforts arrange for their demise while interacting with the local criminal element. The film is an adaptation of George V Higgins’ 1974 novel Cogan’s Trade, and while it updates the story to the modern day it keeps the Boston setting that has served the genre so well over the years. Pitt’s joined by Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, Sam Shepard, Ben Mendelsohn and Scoot McNairy. Our own Simon Gallagher was a big fan when he saw it at Cannes, and now the rest of us can get a taste as well with the debut of the highly […]

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Multi-hyphenate Josh Radnor has had a real nice time at the Sundance Film Festival. His debut film, happythankyoumoreplease, premiered at the festival in 2010, and he just brought his second feature, Liberal Arts, to Park City this past January. Both films star Radnor as a shiftless twentysomething who is, for a variety of reasons, unhappy with his current lot in life. But whereas happythankyoumoreplease tended to feel too twee, too naval-gazey, too unformed, Liberal Arts showed a tremendous progression in Radnor’s talents and execution. And now you can see it, too! IFC will release the film just in time for back to school on September 14 of this year. The film also stars Elizabeth Olsen, Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney, and Zac Efron, and should be the perfect way to ease back into fall drudgery after the fireworks of the summer season.

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Editor’s note: With Darling Companion opening this week in limited release, we thought we’d unleash Dustin’s review from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, originally posted on January 30, for you to take a bite out of. Woof. The opening night film at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival has always been a walk-away; generally an under-cooked indie with no distribution and little shot at getting into general theaters. So why kick a film when it’s down? There’s not a lot of value in heaping negative criticism on a new filmmaker who will likely go on to bigger and better things with more experience. That said, the 27th year of Santa Barbara’s festival brought a heavyweight opening night player in writer/director/producer Lawrence Kasdan, and his Sony Pictures Classics distributed Darling Companion. Basically, fair game. Darling Companion is the story of Beth Winters (Diane Keaton), her spine surgeon husband Joseph (Kevin Kline), and the dog that  brings them together. Or at least, it tries to be about them while clumsily pulling viewers into unnecessary side stories that aren’t particularly interesting. The film suffers on every level, but prominent among its faults is an odd pace that steals away any reason to invest in any of the characters, the spotty narrative, or the wholly expected and unsatisfying ending.

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When we’re introduced to Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford‘s white-collar characters in the opening scene of The Cabin in the Woods, it becomes wildly apparent Drew Goddard‘s film is not your typical horror picture. They’re tasked with delivering an exceptional amount of exposition, which Goddard and Joss Whedon let them deliver with a pure sense of glee. Unlike Jenkins’s previous horror film performance, The Father in Let Me In, this is a character who is about as Average Joe as they come, and he just happens to have a not-so-Average-Joe occupation. Here’s what Jenkins had to say about comedic exposition, the brilliance of unexpected filmmaking, and why his character Ted in Burn After Reading deserved getting axed to death:

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Genre dissections like The Cabin in the Woods are risky ventures. When filmmakers are clearly intent on both telling a story and offering a self-reflexive statement, there’s a significant chance that one impulse could overwhelm the other. The possible results — an ineffectual drama or a suffocating, pretentious satire — are not pleasant. So it’s fortunate that Cabin director/co-writer Drew Goddard, working closely with producer/fellow writer Joss Whedon, manages the tricky balancing act. His long-awaited horror movie, which has sat on the shelf for more than two years thanks to upheaval at original distributor MGM, is smart and fun, packing unexpected surprises while cleverly recalibrating genre expectations. The film’s about a group of five archetypal college friends — among them the jock figure (Chris Hemsworth), the stoner (Fran Kranz) and the “virgin” (Kristen Connolly) — who head to an isolated cabin for the proverbial weekend getaway. Naturally, something goes terribly wrong while they’re there, but it’s surely not what you think.

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Drew Goddard’s highly anticipated horror film The Cabin in the Woods goes into wide release this weekend, and everyone should make a point to see it. Forget The Hunger Games; this is the cinematic experience of the spring that should drive people to the theaters. By now, you’ve read a lot – possibly too much – about The Cabin in the Woods, and everyone from the director and studio to fans on Twitter are complaining about spoilers flying through the interwebs. In the interest of keeping secrets secret, here are seven spoiler-free reasons to see The Cabin in the Woods this weekend.

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The Cabin in the Woods isn’t much of a deconstruction of the horror genre. In actuality, it’s a love letter from writer/director Drew Goddard and co-writer Joss Whedon to the genre. Some have labeled the horror-comedy as being in the vein of the Scream series, but The Cabin in the Woods should not be mistaken as a satire. Aside from a few winks here and there, Goddard stays away from smug self-referential storytelling. He tells his own story, rather than making fun of others. Forget the conventions you know about the horror genre, because what you know won’t help you say “I saw that coming!” while watching The Cabin in the Woods. It takes turns we haven’t seen before, making the film all the more difficult to discuss, especially with Drew Goddard. Here’s what Goddard had to say about The Cabin In the Woods and making out with wolves:

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Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Five young, attractive friends take a weekend trip to a remote cabin deep in the woods, but after a night of partying and a dark discovery in the basement they soon find themselves in a fight for their lives against a nightmarish enemy. As well as you think you know this story, you are wrong. Drew Goddard’s The Cabin In the Woods (co-written by Joss Whedon) takes a stereotypical horror film set-up and does extraordinary things with it. It features more than a few jump scares and creepy scenes, a hefty amount of laughs, and a near-brilliant take on a deceptively common storyline. It’s that last part that serves as the core of the film’s greatness, and instead of being just a simple twist or revelation it opens up a whole new way of seeing the genre. Please note, I’ve avoided true spoilers in the review below. That said, there are some elements that may seem spoilery but actually aren’t. If you’ve seen even a single trailer this is a safe read.

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A.C.O.D. is a comedy starring Adam Scott and directed by Stu Zicherman that’s been in the works for a while now. Not much has been reported about it other than a smattering of casting news and the fact that the acronym in the title stands for “Adult Children of Divorce,” however. The conceit of the film is that Scott plays an adult who discovers that he took part in a study about children of divorce many years ago. When he enters into a follow-up study that looks at the sort of adults these children of broken homes have become, that’s when the drama/funny starts. Despite the fact that A.C.O.D. has flown under the radar so far, this is a movie that we’re probably going to be hearing a lot more about soon, because today Deadline Newton broke some big news about new casting. It seems that Scott’s co-star and onscreen love interest on the delightful NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation, Amy Poehler, has agreed to come on board and play his love interest once again, this time on the big screen. Poehler’s character is Scott’s current wife, and apparently she has quite the rivalry going with his ex-wife, who is played by Catherine O’Hara.

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