Sam Riley

Dr. Doom

We already know that the new Fantastic Four movie is going to be really young and hip, and not just more young and hip than the first film, because no matter how nice his hair is, Ioan Gruffudd is not hip, and Michael Chiklis is hip like a hip dad, so the bar is a little low on this one. But, really, just how hip is this thing going to be? The Josh Trank movie already has Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, and Jamie Bell lined up to play three of the four, with Miles Teller probably on board to lead the cast as the stretchy good time known as Mr. Fantastic, but what about villains? Will there be hip villains? Will there be hip villains? Oh, you. Yes, of course there will be. Well, at least if a news bit from The Wrap is to be believed, as the outlet is now reporting that four actors (all with accents! Hip!) are currently on the shortlist of possible candidates for Dr. Doom. Will one of them take to the silver screen to battle the pure fantastic-tivity that is our four good guys? Maybe, but it’s hard to get too excited about the possibilities, because said list includes some pretty fresh talents that plenty of comic book fans might not recognize.

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Kill Your Darlings

Perhaps the most misleading aspect of the new crop of Beat movies that have surfaced during the past few years is that they obscure the fact that there was once an older crop of Beat movies. If your only exposure is Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s Howl, Walter Salles’ On the Road, John Krokidas’ Kill Your Darlings, and Michael Polish’s Big Sur, you might assume that the Beats participated in an artistic movement reserved exclusively for the written word. Yet Allen Ginsberg was front-and-center of experimental film projects like 1959’s Pull My Daisy (narrated by Kerouac) and 1966’s Chappaqua, while William S. Burroughs spent most of his career after the 1970s in independent films (alongside producing spoken word albums). Even Jack Kerouac, the most novelistic of the best-known Beats, showed his media literacy by recording improvisatory experiments in audio technology before he published “On the Road.” The literary Beats not only inspired later independent filmmakers, musicians, and artists, but they participated in multimedia productions themselves, seeking to realize a revolutionary new aesthetic across a variety of platforms of expression, often concurrently with their most famous published work. There is nothing inherently wrong with focusing only on these authors’ best-known works in adapting them to screen, but the resulting films do reinforce a rather common image of the Beats as forever-young literary outsiders, when they were in fact heavily involved in the social and artistic movements their work cultivated and helped inspire throughout their lives. But this raises a question: Do […]

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On the Road Movie

Editor’s note: On the Road cruises into limited release this Friday, so put your brains into gear and enjoy this re-run of our Cannes review, originally published on May 23, 2012. Some books demand adaptation, offering immediate and easily translatable promise as film projects, whether that is thanks to the power of the plot, or characters or certain ideas that would lead to a looser adaptation. Jack Kerouac‘s seminal “On The Road” is not one of those books – like the work of James Joyce, the book is explicitly literary, its content inherently bound by its form and its author so fundamentally a writer before a storyteller that many, including myself, believed it to be unadaptable. In that context, the presence of Walter Salles‘ adaptation, imaginatively called On The Road, on the In Competition list here always stood out as an intriguing prospect. How would the director who made that other road movie The Motorcycle Diaries cope with the very specific problem of adapting something that is so explicitly literary? The answer, unfortunately, is not well. For a tale which so obviously values hedonism and free expression, On The Road is ultimately joyless and unengaging, and for a self-discovering road movie to fudge the journey so much and lose almost all lasting meaning is downright criminal.

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If you’ve ever spent any extended time in a coffee shop or a freshman dorm, chances are you’ve seen a good number of young people with open hearts and confused eyes dutifully thumbing through the pages of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” It’s one of those books you just have to get into when you’re coming of age, like “The Catcher in the Rye,” or, if you’re a sociopath, Ayn Rand’s stuff. Given the book’s enduring popularity, it’s strange that it’s taken so long for Hollywood to make a big screen adaptation, but, nevertheless, the wait is over, and the first trailer for the film is here. How does it look? Well, it looks like director Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries) and his camera crew have shot a beautiful film. And seeing as the narration put over this trailer quotes one of the most famous passages from Kerouac’s novel, it looks like he’s made a film that’s very much On the Road. This seems to be a straight adaptation; the essence of the book put up on the screen, without any unexpected detours.

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Based on Jack Kerouac’s novel of the same name, On The Road begins in 1947 in New York City, where a young writer, Sal Paradise (Sam Riley), finds himself introduced to the larger-than-life Dean Moriarty (played with charm and conviction by Garrett Hedlund.) Thanks to Dean’s slightly “mad” outlook on life, Sal thinks that spending time with him may lead to some good stories — and hopefully fix his current writer’s block. But more than that, Dean reminds Sal of someone. As their relationship grows, Sal gets more and more embroiled in Dean’s life, and instead of simply observing and being around it Sal starts to become an integral part of it. When Dean decides to move back to Denver to win back his young wife Marylou (Kristen Stewart), Sal takes him up on his offer to join him. As a “young writer trying to take off,” Sal literally takes off, hitchhiking his way across the country and meeting even more interesting characters and jotting more and more notes in his tiny notebooks along the way. Once in Denver, Sal finds himself quickly falling into Dean’s life of sex, drugs, and jazz, and the line between reality and fantasy starts to blur.

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After years of rumors and buzz, Disney’s live-action take on the Angelina Jolie-starring Maleficent is finally zipping along full steam ahead. THR reports (via Cinema Blend) that Elle Fanning is now set to star as Princess Aurora (best known to those not in the fairy tale know as Sleeping Beauty), along with a murderer’s row of the other prime cinematic talent. Fanning was rumored to be in talks back in March (thanks to a nifty exclusive over at Twitch), but it’s nice to get some confirmation on what’s really lovely casting. The outlet also appears to confirm that Sharlto Copley, who is going on a job-accepting tear, is set to co-star as “Stefan, the half-human, half-fairy bastard son of the human king.” The rest of the cast will now include including Imelda Staunton and Lesley Manville as Knotgrass and Flittle (two of three pixies who care for Princess Aurora), Miranda Richardson as fairy Queen Ulla (also Maleficent’s aunt, though she reportedly doesn’t like her so much), Sam Riley as Diaval (Maleficent’s “right-hand man who can transform into a raven”), and Kenneth Cranham as the human king looking to rule the fairy kingdom as well. While this casting is all well and good, we appear to be missing a vital role – the handsome prince!

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Jack Kerouac‘s “On the Road” is so thoroughly based on the beauty of language that it will be interesting to see what kind of movie it will make. It’s the kind of dream project that elicits nightmares because it’s incredibly popular, but it’s also that rare case where a book is fiercely personal no matter how many millions of people read it. Walter Salles took on the challenge, and his background in road movies certainly helps, but there are some x-factors here to be sure. Sam Riley sounds appropriately gruff and wandering in voice over in the new trailer, but the movie will also be a test of whether Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart can really act or if they can only chew gum and walk. Check it out for yourself:

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Writer-director Rowan Joffe must love to challenge himself. With The American and his feature film debut, an adaptation of Brighton Rock, Joffe tackles the trickiest of characters: internal, cold ones. Like Jack (a.k.a. Mr. Butterfly), Pinkie is a lead that is always at a distance. He will never let anyone in. Everything remains internal. However, Pinkie is not a sucker for the ladies. Pinkie is a character that is not sympathetic, or likable, and is most likely insane. The gangster is a walking horror film; unpredictable, and will do anything he deems necessary out of fear. He’s insecure, which makes him a serious threat. This idea is, once again, expressed internally. Jack and Pinkie present their own challenges, both to the man behind the typewriter and the audience. Here’s what Rowan Joffe had to say about his enigmatic leads, writing a character-driven film versus a plot-driven film, and correcting Roger Ebert:

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franklyn_header

As you’ve come to expect, our radar for films has a rather far and wide reach, so it’s hard to say that a film ever really comes out of nowhere. So while Franklyn didn’t come out of nowhere, it is certainly a nice surprise.

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How do we fix a film that is too French? We can start with less turtlenecks…and 50 Cent.

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Nottingham

We have heard very little about this project since last fall, yet this past week has seen an explosion of news — some rumors and some truths — that have begun to bring the other denizens of Nottingham into focus.

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published: 10.30.2014
B-
published: 10.29.2014
D+
published: 10.27.2014
C-
published: 10.24.2014
C-


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