Robert Duvall

The Judge

It’s easy enough to imagine the pitch meeting that led to the creation of David Dobkin’s The Judge: simply picture someone, anyone, it doesn’t matter who, standing in front of a loose assembly of Hollywood brass, spouting off something like, “he’s a judge, but he’s about to be on trial.” You can almost hear the sighs. “But Robert Downey, Jr. wants to star in it.” Cue clapping, the signing of a budget (is this how Hollywood pitch meetings go? no, but go with it) and lots of big smiles. The Judge! He’s a judge, but he’s about to be on trial! With Robert Downey, Jr.! It’s a can’t-miss! Dobkin’s film certainly has good intentions, shoehorning in an emotional redemption story alongside a standard “hey, maybe you really can go home again” tale and the kind of legal procedural that would only ever play out on the big screen, but the results are less than impressive. Fresh off a slowly diminishing streak of wacky comedies like Wedding Crashers, The Change-Up and Fred Claus, Dobkin attempts to go for something approaching sincerity and drama with The Judge, yet he can’t quite capture the right tone, and the film wings between light dramedy and genuinely upsetting family drama. A consistent interest in picking the most obvious choice possible at nearly every turn ultimately proves to be the film’s most egregious downfall. 

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Phase 4 Films

Mexico is a lawless place. Well, maybe not lawless as much as it is a place where the laws are ignored. The point is you can get away with pretty much anything down there. When Red Bovie (Robert Duvall) loses his Texas home and ranch to powers outside of his control he decides the trailer park that’s waiting for him can suck it. With the grandson he only just met in tow he heads south for the Mexican border in a spontaneous search for the freedom he craves and the absence of anyone telling him what he can or cannot do. He gets more than he bargained for, but not more than he can handle, when he and young Gally (Jeremy Irvine) find themselves mixed up with a murderous drug runner and a guitar-strumming stripper. A Night in Old Mexico casts Duvall in the familiar role of a cantankerous but fun-loving old man who’s in no rush to start acting his age. The adventure offers time well-spent with the legendary actor, but the story and supporting cast can’t quite keep up with him.

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Street Fighter The Movie

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

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Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting news roundup with the stiff upper lip, committed to carry on even as we lose Google Reader. Click through for news about what gentlemen like Robert Duvall, Jared Harris, and Charlie Day are doing next.

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fd-3

What better way to celebrate Oscar night than to post about a movie that should have received a bunch of Academy Award nominations and didn’t get a single one. Yes, 1993 was a great year for film, but Joel Schumacher‘s Falling Down had one of the finest performances each from Michael Douglas and Robert Duvall and an exceptional, memorable script from actor Ebbe Roe Smith. It’s a shame this Los Angeles odyssey, which turns 20 years old this Tuesday, wasn’t honored enough then and certainly isn’t talked about enough today. It’s a cinematic rant that would never be released by a major Hollywood studio now (though an indie like Magnolia might, a la God Bless America), and it features an antihero lead with an image that few stars would pull off ever (Douglas’s crew cut was ridiculed enough in the press then — I can only imagine the field day the blogosphere would have with something like that).

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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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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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Acting is like anything in that success doesn’t come quickly. It’s why we can go back and watch old clips of Brad Pitt whoring for Pringles or Tina Fey talking about the interest rate at Mutual Savings Bank. You have to start somewhere, right? Same goes for motion pictures – for most actors, your first role is going to be some mediocre piece like Return To Horror High or Revenge Of The Creature – but every once in a while an actor or actress starts off at a high point. Here are such high points, awesome first films that you’d be proud to be a part of even if you never did another film ever again.

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Jayne Mansfield

Back in 1996, when Billy Bob Thornton directed Sling Blade, its success seemed like a pretty big opportunity for the actor to change up his career focus and start accumulating awards by sitting in the director’s chair. That didn’t happen, though. Thornton has only made a handful of films since, and none that have come close to being as well-regarded as his first. However, it’s looking like this year could serve as Thornton’s best chance since Sling Blade at accumulating some more awards, because his latest film, Jayne Mansfield’s Car, looks like it’s got all of that good stuff that people who give out golden statues like. It’s a comedy of manners that throws excitable Southerners and stuffy Brits in the same space and examines the ways they chafe against each other, it’s set in the ’60s (so it’s got that oh-so-important element of nostalgia going for it, and there are plenty of period sets and costumes, shot with glowing gold light, which puts you in the perfect mood to squirt some tears at all of its ham-handed drama), and – probably most importantly – it boasts a cast of actors including names like John Hurt, Robert Duvall, Kevin Bacon, Irma P. Hall, Thornton himself, and many others. These are not untalented folk.

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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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With the entire original run of The Twilight Zone available to watch instantly, we’re partnering with Twitch Film to cover all of the show’s 156 episodes. Are you brave enough to watch them all with us? The Twilight Zone (Episode #110): “Miniature” (airdate 2/21/63) The Plot: A man becomes obsessed with the contents of a dollhouse. The Goods: On a trip to the museum, the timid Charley Parkes (Robert Duvall) believes he sees movement inside a dollhouse. As any normal human would do, he keeps heading back to see if he can spy the same motion or find out what it is. What he finds, is a young woman with whom he falls in tiny love.

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Alexander Payne’s next planned film, Nebraska, is about “a geriatric gin-hound of a dad who takes his estranged son with him from Montana to Publisher’s Clearing House headquarters, with a detour through Omaha, Nebraska, in order to claim his million-dollar sweepstakes prize.” Personally, I love Alexander Payne’s painfully realist aesthetic and pitch black humor, so this is a project that I’m interested in. When I hear that Payne wants to shoot the film in black and white, I get even more intrigued. Pre-production has already hit a snag, though. Apparently the studio will only let Payne film it in black and white if he gets a big name star to attach himself as the father. That might be a problem, except that we’re dealing with a director whose upcoming release The Descendants is doing well on the festival circuit, gathering some Oscar buzz, and improving his already well-respected position in the film industry. Surely he must have someone in mind for this role that he can convince to sign, right? Well, word has it that he has a few people on his short list, and any one of them would be awesome. The list reportedly consists of Robert Forster, Robert Duvall, and Jack Nicholson. Any of these actors would be great news in my mind, and Nicholson has already worked with Payne for About Schmidt, so that pairing isn’t unlikely at all.  There is, however, a fourth name on the list that’s really got me excited. Apparently Payne is looking to get the retired-from-acting […]

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Christopher McQuarrie’s upcoming adaptation of the Lee Child novel “One Shot” continues to make curious casting decisions. First it cast Tom Cruise, the diminutive head of the militant wing of the Church of Scientology, as the hulking, brute of a protagonist Jack Reacher. And now it has cast a German man in the role of The Zec, a Russian ex-POW who acts as the story’s antagonist. And not just any German man, the most German man in the world: Werner Herzog. To the public at large, that name might not mean much, but for those of us reading a film site, it’s kind of a big deal. Herzog is one of the most respected directors of film on the planet, his narrative works include things like Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre: The Wrath of God and his documentary work includes titles like Grizzly Man and the upcoming Into the Abyss. We’re used to hearing his voice narrating his docs, and he’s even showed up in features with small roles before (my favorite being his turn as the creepy father in Julien Donkey-Boy), but this will be the first time he ever gets a meaty role in a mainstream Hollywood film. Is it now only a matter of time before the entire country falls in love with Herzog’s rich, comforting grandfather voice? Is it only a matter of time before we see bumper stickers and novelty Ts carrying catchphrases about trees being in misery and birds screaming in pain? Is this the beginning […]

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Billy Bob Thornton hasn’t directed a non-documentary since 2001’s Daddy and Them. That’s kind of a shame, because it seems like the guy could be pretty good at it. Dude made Sling Blade after all. I take it as good news then, that Thornton has a cast in place and funding secured for his next feature Jayne Mansfield’s Car. Not much is known about the film yet, but Thornton co-wrote the script with his writing partner Tom Epperson, and it’s said to be about two families from different parts of the world experiencing a culture clash in 1969. Young actor John Patrick Amedori is set to star in the film and names like Robert Duvall, Kevin Bacon, Robert Patrick, Ray Stevenson, John Hurt, Dwight Yoakam, and Dennis Quaid are locked in to round out the cast. That’s a ridiculously impressive list of actors, but where are all the ladies? Perhaps that’s a mystery for another day.

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This trailer is the kind of efficiency that will make you proud to live in the era you live in. Before Star Wars, there was THX 113. Newcomer George Lucas expanded his short film Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB while shortening the title to create this vision of the future. He also wrangled Robert Duvall and Donald Pleasence for this sci-fi epic about what all sci-fi Dystopian epics are about: two humanoids finding love in a drug-addled world that forbids it. Also like most Dystopian futures, some of the dialogue (SEN’s) is drawn directly from Richard Nixon’s speeches.

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The Week That Was

We made it! As birds fall dead from the sky, fish show up dead around the world, politicians are being shot while picking up the produce, you and I have made it, dear reader. What a wild week it has been around the world — the apocalypse could very well be right around the corner. So if we’re all going to go out in a blaze of glory, lets take a moment for some delightful diversion. My suggestion — read the work of the FSR staff as we continue our ongoing coverage of the world of film. It may not be a homeless guy with the perfect radio voice, but it’s worth a look either way.

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Robert Duvall turns 80 today, and that’s an achievement all on its own. It’s also important to keep in mind that Duvall has been in the filmmaking business for 49 years. That’s 61% of his life. The last thing any of us dedicated that much time to was our Regarding Henry action figure collection and doing the math for that problem. Duvall is an icon amongst icons, a living legend that has put just as much love into his craft as he’s gotten back, a cinematic luminary that still continues to make great films. Attempting to pay tribute to him is a difficult task not only because there’s not enough space on the internet to do it, but because his career is a difficult one to wrap one’s mind around. He’s done just about everything except compose a film score, and he’s done so while staying at the top of his game through almost five decades of Hollywood evolution.

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Culture Warrior

It’s become common wisdom to say that the best remakes are those made of non-canonical, non-classic films; that is, it’s typically better to give a second go to a film that – while possibly venerated, is hardly deemed a work of perfection that can’t be improved upon – than to redo a classic. Such a rule isn’t set in stone, of course, but it can be argued through example via some of the most celebrated of remakes (like The Thing or, in a more modest and more recent example of improvement-on-imperfection, The Crazies), and are often a result of a genuine inspiration from the source material rather than a simple means of capitalizing from its name. With the Coen brothers’ quite popular and much celebrated remake of True Grit, however, the distinction of what kind of a remake it is isn’t exactly so clear, as what kind of movie the original is proves to be something of an enigma in of itself.

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With the ninth annual Tribeca Film Festival under way in New York, Robert Levin chimes in with some reviews. First: Robert Duvall and Bill Murray in ‘Get Low.’

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SXSW Film 2010

Join Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, director Aaron Schneider, and producer Dean Zanuck for lunch as they discuss Get Low.

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