Scott Cooper

outofthefurnace

“There are now two Americas. My country is a horror show.” The above summary is of an an impromptu speech The Wire showrunner David Simon delivered at “The Festival of Dangerous Ideas” in Sydney this week. Simon’s work as producer has been characterized by a distinct effort to represent the “great horror show” America he mentions – the America without social mobility, the America where people are left to survive in the marginal social position they’ve inherited, the America without special interest groups to make a perpetual underclass visible in the media and worth pandering to for politicians’ votes. The Wire, as Simon attests directly, sought to represent the conditions and lives of people who are “economically worthless,” a series that lent a rare lens to ordinary people’s endurance in the face of total invisibility in the public sphere. Mainstream contemporary movies and television shows have, perhaps until very recently, almost exclusively surveyed the lives of those with considerable economic worth: audiences with expendable income that can be advertised to during commercial breaks or be expected to buy most movie tickets. But Out of the Furnace and Killing Them Softly – both of which take place in 2008 and were released almost exactly a year apart – offer an incisive lens into a hermetically sealed, economically deprived, and otherwise underrepresented American underclass.

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cooper

43-year-old Scott Cooper didn’t direct his first feature film until he was 37.  2009’s Crazy Heart scored Jeff Bridges his first oscar, and it also made Cooper a director on the rise. The film cost only $7m and went on to earn more than $47m worldwide, making it both a critical and financial smash. That’s not a feat we see often, but for Cooper, he couldn’t have asked for a more welcoming result for his debut. His follow-up, Out of the Furnace, is an entirely different kind of film, featuring an ensemble cast, life and death stakes and suspense. Before it premiered at AFI Fest last month, one of the producers compared Out of the Furnace to The Deer Hunter, inferring that they didn’t set out to make a film that goes down easy. The talent in attendance clearly stated their intention: they wanted to make a movie about America. Not the big booming cities, but the small towns that have been left in financial turmoil. That wasn’t the story Brad Ingelsby‘s set out to write in the beginning. “The original screenplay was based on the idea of a man who gets out of prison and must avenge someone,” says Cooper, delving into the film’s subtext. “The rest all comes from a very personal experience. As I said in those opening remarks [at AFI], I wanted to show the turbulent world we’ve lived in the the last five years. I thought it was important to express my personal and artistic worldview through that lens, and out comes Out of the Furnace.”

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Film Title:  Out of the Furnace

Editor’s note: Our review of Out of the Furnace originally ran during this year’s AFI Fest, but we’re re-posting it now as the film opens in theatrical release. Sometimes it seems like the future is rapidly approaching, with more and more information being digitally consumed and smartphones attached to the palm of almost everyone’s hand, but there are still places that are untouched by time, where family and community are paramount. It may seem like a simpler life, but Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace shows just how difficult life in an industrial community on the decline can be. Russell (Christian Bale) and Rodney Baze (Casey Affleck) are two brothers trying to carve out fulfilling lives for themselves in the wake of hard times and the deteriorating health of their father. Russell is a good man who seems content to work hard for his family and his girlfriend Lena (Zoe Saldana), but Rodney is more of a loose canon. As a solider recently called back for another tour overseas, the younger Baze brother is wrestling with some serious demons.

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The Stand

Not everything is adaptable, and that’s okay. Such is the case with Stephen King’s sprawling, 800+ page epic “The Stand,” which has recently sloughed off its third high-profile director on its way to the big screen. The Wrap reports that Warner Bros. and director Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) have parted ways when it comes to the project, as one source reports that the split came care of good old-fashioned “creative differences.” Cooper was brought on back to the project earlier this year, and he was set to both helm the production and re-write its script. The adaptation has already hit some big bumps on the road – the film has already cycled through experienced filmmakers like David Yates and Ben Affleck – and when Cooper was brought on to rewrite and direct the film back in August, it seemed like a bold, if not exactly advisable choice. Cooper is a fine filmmaker, but he’s only got two features under his belt, and neither of them even remotely touch upon the scale and scope of “The Stand.” Let’s put it this way – if the guy who directed the final four Harry Potter films wasn’t the right guy for the job, Cooper certainly wasn’t either. But the news still feels a bit striking, given that Cooper recently sat down (like, this week) with MTV to chat about his upcoming Out of the Furnace, and when the conversation turned to The Stand, he talked about his vision for the project and some […]

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outofthefurnace

There are many factors that grab a person’s interest in seeing a film – the actors, the director, the material that inspired the film, the film’s trailer, but with more and more popular artists and bands trying their had at composing, sometimes hearing new music from these artists can be just as big of a draw. Artists like Daft Punk, The Chemical Brothers, and Trent Reznor have taken to the sound stage to create music for films such as Tron: Legacy, Hanna, and The Social Network (with Reznor and Atticus Ross even winning an Oscar for their efforts), but what if these recognizable artists were considered a distraction rather than an enhancement to the films they are featured in? Out of the Furnace was rumored to have tapped Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam fame to create new music for the film – a solid choice considering the success Vedder had creating the music for Into the Wild. Vedder’s music was one of the highlights of that film and proved he understood how to create music for picture as much as he does for the stage. But Out of the Furnace director Scott Cooper seems to have changed his mind about this decision. While Vedder did create new music for the film, Cooper decided to take it out in favor of Dickon Hinchliffe’s score citing that Vedder’s music was, “… so powerful that it took me out of the narrative.”

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furnace

When the first trailer for Scott Cooper’s (Crazy Heart) Out of the Furnace hit, it made the movie seem like a pretty safe bet right away. The footage had a tattooed, rusty authenticity to it, the story featured stakes that were immediate and grave, and the cast—well it’s just a really good cast they’ve put together. But then, in the second half of the ad, what originally looked like a simple, gritty revenge story suddenly gave way to religious imagery, corny flashbacks, general melodrama, and a soaring Pearl Jam song over the soundtrack that made the whole thing seem like it just might be too pretentious and overbearing to reach its potential. Now there’s a second trailer out for the film though, and while it’s mostly a remix of footage that was already shown in the first, this time the focus is more on the danger of getting involved with a bunch of criminal hillbillies, and this time some girl doing a sort of panicked cover of Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’ provides the soundtrack, so everything gets presented with a much more haunting tone and less of a bro rock one. Check it out, really, it ends up working so much better.

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The Stand

With Ben Affleck busy donning cape and cowl to protect the streets of Gotham, it looks like someone else will have to step in to write and direct the adaptation of Stephen King‘s “The Stand” (that Affleck was previously tied to). And, thank to Deadline Hollywood, we now know the secret identity of Affleck’s replacement – Scott Cooper. Cooper’s first feature was 2009’s Crazy Heart and his Christian Bale-starring revenge flick Out of the Furnace will be in theaters this fall. Based on those two, Cooper looks to be a strong choice, but he’s got his work cut out for him. The Stand could dwarf a phone book – the original version totals a whopping 823 pages, and King’s later “Complete & Uncut Edition” ups it to 1152 pages. There’s no word yet on whether The Stand will be divvied up Hobbit-style, or if Cooper has the unfortunate task of cramming so much story into a single flick.

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Leonardo DiCaprio

Once upon a time, Leonardo DiCaprio was going to star in a movie about poor people and violent crime. The film was going to be called Out of the Furnace, and it was going to be directed by Ridley Scott. That deal never quite came together though, so eventually the film went to Crazy Heart director Scott Cooper, who rewrote it and recast the lead with Christian Bale. What could have been a missed opportunity is now a movie tentatively scheduled to be released later this year. The fates have conspired to give DiCaprio another chance at making a movie about poor people and violent crime though, and funnily enough this time it comes with Cooper attached as the director. Deadline is reporting that Warner Bros. has acquired the rights to a still-unreleased Michael Armour novel called “The Road Home,” which they’ve got Cooper signed on to direct and are hoping to develop as a starring vehicle for DiCaprio, who already has a producer’s credit on the deal.

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Jennifer Lawrence was “obsessed” with the part. Kristen Stewart wanted it “more than anything.” So just who has ultimately landed the role of Peyton Loftis in Scott Cooper‘s adaptation of William Styron‘s 1951 novel, “Lie Down in Darkness”? Yup, that headline gives it away – Stewart has reportedly grabbed the role of Peyton after years of both actresses making it known just how much they wanted to play the incredibly difficult role. Vulture reports that Stewart will lead the indie adaptation of the classic novel, with Crazy Heart director Cooper at the helm. The fifties-set novel centers on the Loftis family, perhaps one of American literature’s most revolting and damaged families ever put to the page. Led by Milton Loftis (an alcoholic with more problems than just the drink) and Helen Loftis (frigid and emotionally blind), the Southern family has two daughters – the crippled Maudie and the beautiful Peyton. And when the book opens, Peyton is already dead.

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Scott Cooper’s followup to 2009’s Crazy Heart has been making a lot of headlines lately due to all of its impressive casting announcements. Out of the Furnace is a movie about an ex-con trying to get his life together after getting out of prison. Unfortunately, the world is a tough place to live in, and bad things happen. So when the protagonist’s little brother gets caught up in some shady dealings that have an unfortunate end, he finds himself in a situation where he has to turn his new leaf back over to the dirty side, in order to seek revenge. A huge chunk of the cast has already been filled out by signees that were made official just a few days ago. Christian Bale has long been locked for the role of the lead character, Russell. And after his casting came names like Casey Affleck, who’s playing the little brother who meets a tragic end, Zoe Saldana, who is the Bale character’s love interest, and Sam Shepard, who’s all set to play his uncle, Red. Only one thing’s left: who’s going to play the villain? Every good crime movie needs a good bad guy, and with the cast that Out of the Furnace already has in place, not just any old actor will do for this one. You bring in somebody unestablished—without any chops—and he’s going to shrink when standing next to screen presences like Bale and Affleck. No, this movie needs a big damn personality, and if a […]

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Confirming some long-rumored casting picks, and even throwing in a surprise or two, Relativity Media has just sent around a press release detailing confirmed casting for Scott Cooper‘s Out of the Furnace. After the critical success of his directorial debut (which was nominated for three Oscars, ultimately winning two, including Jeff Bridges’s long-deserved first Academy Award), Cooper has been attached to a number of projects, but Out of the Furnace will be his first film since 2009. The release confirms that Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Zoe Saldana, and Sam Shepard are set to star in the gritty drama. Bale has been on board as lead Russell Baze since August, but this is the official confirmation of his role. Affleck and Saldana have been attached to the film since March as Bale’s younger brother and love interest, respectively, but back then, Robert Duvall was mentioned to take Shepard’s role as the Baze brothers’ uncle, Red. Still up in the air? The villain role – once rumored to be played by Viggo Mortensen or Billy Bob Thornton. At this point, they could cast anyone in this role, as the current cast is a fantastic collection of talents.

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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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A few weeks back, I bemoaned the lack of Crazy Heart writer and director Scott Cooper in recent cinema. Despite being attached to a number of projects, nothing had yet panned out, so the news that he was signing on for an equally-as-languishing project, the adaptation of Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children was music to my ears. Such news must have given Cooper and his team a kick in the pants, as the helmer is now set for another new project. Fox Searchlight has signed Cooper to helm (and possibly adapt from the source material) a film based on Mark Seal’s book The Man in the Rockefeller Suit. Seal’s book chronicles the bizarre and criminal life of Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, a German man who moved to the United States as a teen, and then slowly began to pass himself off as a part of the Rockefeller family. For whatever reason, Gerhartsreiter’s insane ruse worked, and he spent a number of years as “Clark Rockefeller.” As a Fake-efeller, Gerhartsreiter got work on Wall Street, palled around in chi-chi social circles, got married to an apparently smart businesswoman, and had a kid. He also apparently killed two people in California in his younger years. Oh, and he also went totally nuts when his wife finally caught on to his lies and sought a divorce, kidnapping their young daughter for a period that was less than a week, but that still involved his dragging a social work by SUV and also a weird […]

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The film adaptation of Claire Messud’s gorgeous novel The Emperor’s Children has faced an unfairly bumpy trip to the screen. Back in 2009, Ron Howard was slated to direct the film from a script by Noah Baumbach. Then the project seemingly fell dead, with no news until March of 2010, when Howard left the project entirely, leaving both writing and directing duties to Baumbach. At that time, a list of attached cast members was announced (including Keira Knightley, Eric Bana, and Richard Gere, with buzz about some other names like Michelle Williams). Production was supposed to start last summer, but of course, it didn’t, and know Baumbach appears to be back out of the director’s chair, with Crazy Heart helmer Scott Cooper stepping in to direct from Baumbach’s script (according to an insider report from Twitch). Cooper burst on to the scene with his Jeff Bridges-starring Crazy Heart back in 2009, a directorial debut so lovely and assured that it earned its star his first Oscar (after being nominated no less than six times). Since then, Cooper has had his own fair share of project whiplash, with rumors that he was on the shortlist for Gangster Squad, news that he was developing his own take on The Hatfields and the McCoys, and attachments to the Carancho remake, Empire of the Summer, and Black Listed The Low Dweller. Which is all a nice way of saying that, just like The Emperor’s Children, there’s been a lot of talk about Cooper, but no […]

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We’ve yet to see a follow-up film from Scott Cooper since his much lauded Jeff Bridges as an alcoholic country singer film Crazy Heart made its rounds on the awards circuit, but that appears ready to change. Relativity Media bought a spec script back in 2008 called The Low Dweller. It’s the story of an 80s era Indiana convict who gets out of jail and tries to set about putting together a normal life, but instead gets sucked into a revenge scheme after his brother is murdered. A fairly anonymous Pennsylvania man named Brad Ingelsby wrote the original script, and when it was bought it was Relativity’s intentions that Leonardo DiCaprio would star and Ridley Scott would direct. Those plans have changed considerably, but DiCaprio is still on the project in a producer’s role. Now the film has been re-titled Out of the Furnace, and Cooper has been hired not only to direct the film, but also give the script a rewrite. It was reported back in November that Cooper was also involved in a remake of the Argentinean film Carancho, so it remains to be seen where this film ends up falling on his to-do list. Either way, the news of a movie studio hiring a director to bring to life a spec script that isn’t attached to any sort of pre-existing property or centered on a product or corporate logo should be reason enough to celebrate. Right? Source: Deadline Birdseye

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‘Crazy Heart,’ better known as the movie that Fox Searchlight thinks will get Jeff Bridges an Oscar, is an admirably low-key venture that never packs much of a punch.

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crazy-heart-header1

A month ago, there was very little known about the Jeff Bridges led drama Crazy Heart, from first time director Scott Cooper. But ever since Fox Searchlight set a release date, we’ve been hit with a flood of new info that has piqued our interest.

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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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published: 12.12.2014
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