Scarlett Johansson

HER

I don’t know which critic first suggested Scarlett Johansson deserves an Oscar nomination for Her. That’s too bad, because a statement like that often initially comes from a place of attention-seeking. Not necessarily in a bad way, either. We like to and need to have fresh ideas in this business, and even more than that we like to get credit for those ideas. But it’s also too bad because I’m curious of the true intent behind the statement. It’s one thing to suggest — not in jest but in a way that’s not totally meant to be taken seriously so much as inspire a certain kind of discussion — and it’s another to really champion and campaign for the notion that a voice-only performance should be considered for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. The conversation around the idea reminds me of the one a couple years ago in response to the suggestion that Andy Serkis‘s performance-capture work on Rise of the Planet of the Apes deserved a Best Supporting Actor nomination. It was actually residual build-up following the same idea more than a decade ago about Serkis’s performance as Gollum in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Interestingly enough, there was no talk of such recognition a year ago when the actor reprised the role as the computer-generated character in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Had everyone just given up? Was it a lesser performance? Definitely not the latter. Perhaps it was that the novelty of […]

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Don Jon

Editor’s Note: This review originally ran during our coverage of Sundance and reruns now as the film hits theaters near you. Don Jon (Joesph Gordon-Levitt) is — as his name suggests — a modern-day “Don Juan.” He’s a ladies man the girls just can’t seem to say no to. Every weekend Jon stands in the middle of the club with his buddies, scans the room, sets his sights on whichever girl is closest to “dime” status, dances up on her, makes out with her, escorts her into a taxi, and then, well, you can imagine what happens next. At the beginning of Don Jon, Jon tells us there are only a handful of things that matter to him: his body, his pad, his car, his family, his boys, and his girls. But there is one thing that trumps them all: his porn. Jon explains that it’s something “all guys do,” and while he likes the real thing (and certainly has no trouble getting it), he always enjoys his porn more. After a while of running through the same routine, Jon finds himself bored and longing for something more. That “something more” seems to come in the dime sized package of Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson), a curvaceous blonde who fits all of Jon’s stereotypical requirements. Barbara is different, Barbara is special, Barbara is making Jon wait. Barbara wants a real relationship and Jon obliges because Barbara is the “most beautiful thing he has ever seen.” But after finally sealing the deal […]

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Under the Skin

After first being introduced to us via a truly puzzling little teaser trailer, Jonathan Glazer‘s Under the Skin is still a bit of a head-scratcher in it’s full-length trailer form. But it’s that strangeness that makes this watch so mesmerizing. Scarlett Johansson, as we have learned, is an alien bombshell who drives around Scotland in her mystery van looking for foolish men to lure in with her charms. Once they’re thoroughly seduced by her Attractive Human Woman Form, she feasts upon the men and presumably bathes in their sad male tears. It’s what keeps her hair so shiny. The film is based on the novel by Michel Faber of the same name, so there’s the place to go for more details about why she’s after Scottish men specifically, or even why she’s been sent to this planet in the first place. This trailer isn’t giving up much else. Visually, though, it’s a fascinating look into a bizarre sci-fi thriller where it seems that the sky is perpetually darkened and something sinister’s about to happen around every corner. Then again, I’ve never been to Scotland so this might not be Glazer’s doing. Johansson also does “alien trying to be human” right by wearing a fur coat to the beach and looking supremely uncomfortable in a night club. Check out the trailer for yourself here:

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under-the-skin

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

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under-the-skin

Normally, a trailer- even a teaser- will lay down some basic foundation about the movie it’s advertising. Story, characters, setting. Something. Then there’s Under the Skin. The first trailer for the upcoming sci-fi film has just been released, but I hesitate to call it a trailer (or even a teaser) despite the video being labeled as one. Maybe “brief collection of quick shots that will probably be in the film” would be more accurate.

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Don Jon

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is hot stuff in Hollywood right now, and his directorial debut Don Jon is either the next step up in a long and fruitful career, or a one-time experiment. Watch the newest trailer after the jump (courtesy of Yahoo! Movies) and decide for yourself.

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her trailer

Spike Jonze returns from a four-year hiatus from filmmaking to fuck us all up with the trailer for Her, the story of a woe-begotten Joaquin Phoenix who falls in love with the AI in his computer, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. It’s dreamy, creepy, uncomfortable, and like the poster proclaims: it’s a Spike Jonze love story. Heartbroken Theodore Twombly (Phoenix) decides to cheer himself up with a fancy new operating system that promises to be incredibly intuitive and unique to each user. What he gets is “Samantha,” a chipper female voice who interacts with him as a friend and confidant, and who seems to grow more lifelike every day. Samantha is the woman of Theodore’s dreams, and it’s unsettling how easily you find yourself rooting for the “couple” in the trailer when you see him laughing and smiling through hazy shots of sunshine and blue skies. But just as soon as the happiness appears, reality kicks in when it’s a phone that Theodore is twirling with on the beach and, you know, not a human lady. Dammit, Jonze! The trailer only continues to spiral and become more sinister from there as Samantha becomes more sentient and their relationship gets more “serious.” I’m just worried about getting emotionally invested in a story about a man and a computer program. Check out the trailer below and see what you think.

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bonhamcarter

What is Casting Couch? It’s one more shot of casting updates before you’re off to enjoy your weekend. Read on for stories involving Anne Hathaway, Gerard Depardieu, and Scarlett Johansson. Helena Bonham Carter has always had an otherworldly quality to her. That’s probably why she’s spent much of her career playing queens, witches, ape women, junkies, and the like. And it’s probably why Kenneth Branagh has tapped her to play a very magical role in his upcoming live action take on Cinderella. THR is reporting that she’s been hired to play Cinderella’s fairy godmother, the mystical benefactor who’s famous for helping the little servant girl along by turning pumpkins into stage coaches and water into wine, or whatnot. She joins a pretty stacked cast that features names like Downton Abbey’s Lily James as the title character, Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden as the charming prince, and Cate Blanchett as the wicked stepmother.

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reilly

What is Casting Couch? It’s just coming out of a holiday weekend, so it doesn’t have all that much casting news at the moment. But how about we put all of the actors we’re reporting on in stylish sunglasses to celebrate the kickoff of the summer season? It would be pretty hard to argue that Marvel Studios’ recent slate of interconnected superhero movies hasn’t been a huge success. Marvel movies have pleased longtime fans, cultivated a generation of new fans, and made gobs and gobs of money. Everyone knows that you’re not truly a success in the movie business until you’ve worked with John C. Reilly though, so Hitfix is reporting that the studio is currently trying to get the living legend on board one of their upcoming projects. Apparently an offer has gone out for him to play Rhomann Dey in Guardians of the Galaxy. Things are a bit more confusing than that though, because while Dey was an alien member of the intergalactic Nova Corps in the comic books, apparently in the movie world he’s going to be a human agent of SHIELD who works as the liaison between the organization and this new team of space heroes. Weird.

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Don Jon

If someone was to possibly say that they expected Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s directorial debut, a film about porn addiction that debuted at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, to be a serious affair and that they maybe they laughed for five straight minutes when the film introduced Gordon-Levitt’s character, a Jersey Shore reject to top all Jersey Shore rejects and then probably had to quickly rearrange all their expectations in order to fully enjoy the funny, sharp, and insightful film that followed, you wouldn’t judge that person, would you? Question their credentials? No? Great! Yup, Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon (formerly known as Don Jon’s Addiction) centers on his Jon Martello’s addiction to internet porn, while also tracking the highs and lows of his new romantic relationship with Scarlett Johansson‘s sexy Barbara Sugarman (just call her B-Woww), but it’s not Shame for the porn set. Instead, it’s just very funny and very witty and it’s definitely got something to say about modern romance in a time of flimsy pop culture. Get some good vibrations and check out the first trailer for Don Jon after the break.

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johansson-kitchen

What is Casting Couch? It’s the same casting news roundup that it’s always been, but today Cannes started up, so it’s got a little extra juice. Christoph Waltz, Bradley Cooper, Michelle Williams, Joel Edgerton: they’re all in here. Seeing as Jon Favreau made more money than science knew existed with his two installments of the Iron Man franchise, he’s basically the kind of director who now has the power to do anything he wants in the film industry. So it was kind of refreshing to hear that what he wanted to do was make a simple indie movie called Chef about a chef who falls on hard times and tries to make his comeback by opening a food truck. But now Variety has reported that he’s gone and hired Scarlett Johansson to play his love interest in the movie, and suddenly his motivations don’t appear to be all that down to Earth. Johansson is an underrated actress and will probably be fine in the film, but—come on! Try to not let all of that power go to your head, Mr. Favreau. We’re watching.

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scarjo

What is Casting Couch? Today it’s mostly just an excuse to post a big picture of Scarlett Johansson. But it also has some news about Adam Sandler’s acting career that actually sounds promising. As if everyone didn’t love Scarlett Johansson enough, the sultry actress just had to go and kick things up a notch by kicking ass as the Black Widow in last year’s Avengers. Now anytime we see her being sexy without also doing a bunch of sweet-looking karate moves, it’s going to feel like a letdown. That shouldn’t be a problem for her next film though, as Heat Vision is reporting that Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita) has hired the lady to star in his next big action movie, Lucy, which is about a girl who acts as a drug mule for some sort of super serum getting dosed with what she’s carrying and turning into a super-smart, telekinetic, ass-kicking machine. This sounds like exactly the kind of movie the world needs right now.

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Joseph Gordon-Levitt made bold choices with his feature debut, Don Jon, previously titled as the misleading Don Jon’s Addiction. Sure, he made a crowd-pleaser out of a potentially dark concept – something we don’t see often from the indie film world – but, as a filmmaker, Levitt took some chances. Not only did go about doing so by shooting on 35mm, but also with a few broad, committed stylistic flourishes. We see the world through Jon’s eyes — who is a self-centered, narcissistic Jersey boy — so at first the film is shot like the most expensive, high-production value porno you’ve ever seen. Once the character’s journey comes to an end, gone is all the cheesy club music and camera whips. It’s a heightened aesthetic that lets an audience know exactly what Don Jon is from the beginning. We spoke with Levitt here about Don Jon‘s style, along with why he wanted to make a movie with a capital “m.”

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If there’s anything I hate most about the Oscars it’s the way the movie awards have the power to influence filmmaking. This time of year it’s more and more difficult to tell if certain films are even meant for us, the audience, or if they should solely be shown to the Academy in exchange for little gold men. Of course, one of the purposes of baiting for Oscars is to receive nominations and especially wins, which will presumably help earn more money at the box office (or, more likely, from the cable outlet). This still excludes satisfying the audience as the primary impulse and objective of making movies. In theory, accolades should indeed motivate Hollywood to make the best pictures they could possibly make. There’s still something to be said for art being the best when not aiming for praise and prizes, but in terms of studio product, which is more craft and entertainment than art and expression, such goals can be positive inspiration. Without the Oscars we probably still would have seen a profit-aiding progression of special effects technology and artistry, but surely some production values have improved over time as a result of sound recordists and costume designers and art directors and composers and songwriters striving to be known as the best in their field.

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Hitchcock Review

Biopics take on a new personality when the subject is an admired figure or, worse still, a personal hero. Alfred Hitchcock’s well-deserved moniker, “The Master of Suspense,” does little to fully capture the elevated place of regard he holds with cinephiles who count themselves devoted fans, which is to say cinephiles. Sacha Gervasi‘s Hitchcock narrows the scope of the director’s life to the production of arguably his greatest film: Psycho. The film covers the lifespan of Psycho from inspirational inception to the labor pains of production, and finally its glorious delivery. Some may balk at the idea of a Hitchcock biopic covering such a short period of the man’s life and indeed only one movie from the intensely prolific director’s canon. However, this seemingly reductive approach is actually quite fitting considering the turning point that this one film represented and the inherent metaphors that can then be extrapolated from the production experience. Psycho was one of the riskiest endeavors of Hitch’s career. He was nearing the end of his professional life and wasn’t commanding as much studio confidence as he once was. It was at this precarious era that he decided to make, and self-fund, a film that not only challenged the conception of Hitchcock as an artist, but indeed changed the landscape of film itself. The studio refusing to fund the movie fed his lifelong insecurity and the tricks employed to sell Psycho to audiences were a function of his overarching commitment to publicity. So yes, the choice to […]

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Hitchcock

Having diligently watched both Sacha Gervasi‘s Hitchcock and Julian Jarrold‘s The Girl in recent weeks (and having reviewed the former for AFI FEST), it’s fairly obvious that the current trend to “illuminate” the life of Alfred Hitchcock via feature films can’t possibly happen without also “illuminating” the more unseemly side of the filmmaker. Mainly that Hitch was something of a world class creep who frequently became obsessed with his leading ladies. But while Jarrold’s film is almost totally focused on that element of Hitchcock’s life and personality (his is the HBO feature that stars Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedren), Gervasi’s film only occasionally touches on it. While Hitchcock didn’t go quite so nutty over Janet Leigh during the making of Psycho, his lecherous tendencies are not hidden, particularly in a new clip from the film that features Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock, Scarlett Johansson as Leigh, and Helen Mirren as Alma Reville. In this clip, Hitch has some ideas on how to film that shower scene – ones he’s happy to share with two quite unsettled ladies. Get creepy with ol’ Hitch after the break.

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Frank Grillo

What is Casting Couch? Today it’s the way to get news regarding all of those upcoming super hero sequels. Tomorrow it might be something else. Though we’ve still yet to have the pleasure of taking in the first two installments of Marvel’s super hero movie Phase II, Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is already coming up in 2014, so it’s probably about time we started hearing some casting news. And, wouldn’t you know it, Variety brings us just that. Not only has the trade revealed that End of Watch, The Grey, and Warrior star Frank Grillo will be joining the cast as the Red Skull’s brutal henchman Crossbones, but they also have news that some familiar SHIELD faces from The Avengers will be showing back up in Cap’s second solo adventure. More specifically, Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, Cobie Smulders’ Agent Maria Hill, and Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff will all be coming back. You remember them, right?

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Hitchcock

Whenever an iconic actor takes on an iconic real-life figure as their next role, the film that they do it in tends to be guaranteed a certain amount of hype. Questions of how much they were made to look like them and how much they ended up sounding like them are the first things that cross everyone’s minds, so we all run out and gobble up those initial trailers. That’s likely to be the case for this new trailer for Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock, as well, because it features acting legend Anthony Hopkins portraying directing legend Alfred Hitchcock. How is Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock? Is he doing an impression of him, or kind of doing his own thing? Does his jowl makeup look believable? Luckily for us, the answers to all of these questions are contained here in this trailer, so our curiosity can be sated. When Hopkins is in the makeup, yes, he looks quite a bit like Hitchcock. He seems to be mimicking his mannerisms pretty broadly, but there’s also quite a bit of his own voice coming through in his performance. In a movie like this, where one celebrity plays another celebrity, complete with makeup and wardrobe, there’s always the possibility that after a while the whole thing will start to feel like an overly long SNL sketch and get ridiculous, but Hitchcock passes the initial sniff test.

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Fringe: Season 5

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that welcomes your feedback. Or your blind allegiance. Whichever you prefer, dear reader. We begin this evening with a new shot from season five of Fringe, a show I’ll dearly miss once it makes its exit after this upcoming season. The bastard son of a generation of J.J. Abramses raised on The X-Files, Fringe is still one of the most consistently interesting and energetic sci-fi shows on television. And it’s got John Noble, so that helps.

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Despite a dud for a title, John Carney‘s Can A Song Save Your Life? sounds intriguing, particularly when you consider that Carney is the man who brought us the incredibly charming Once and that he had lined up a somewhat unexpected pair to top-line his production. Back in February, the project was announced with Scarlett Johansson on board to play a young singer looking to break into the music biz after a bad break-up, alongside Mark Ruffalo as a record producer who turns her life around (professionally and personally) . It was set to be a fun little reunion for the Avengers pair, something more romantic and pleasing to the ears. But now Johansson is out and Ruffalo’s name is nowhere to be seen in the latest dispatch regarding the film. ScreenDaily reports (via Cinema Blend), that Johansson has stepped away from the project for “personal reasons,” and that her role will now be played by Keira Knightley (not an entirely bad swap, really). The news reports that Exclusive Media will financing and producing the film, in addition to selling it at Cannes, and as far as other stars, it only mentions Hailee Steinfeld (who is set to play the producer’s daughter), there’s nothing about Ruffalo. With the ‘Ruff (go with it) making such a big splash in The Avengers, it seems unlikely that an upcoming production wouldn’t be trading on his name any way they can. Is he out, too?

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