Sean Penn

2013review_performances

Christian Bale, Sanda Bullock, Joaquin Phoenix, Oscar Isaac, Tom Hanks, Robert Redford, Michael Fassbender, and Meryl Steep, because she’s Meryl Streep, have all had heaps of praise thrown their way this year by both fans and critics. They’ll continue to see even more acclaim in 2014 and beyond, but with all those fantastic movie star performances, not all of 2013’s best have gotten the attention they deserve. That happens most every year, of course. Only so many performances can be nominated for statuettes. After all, even after listing these 13, another 13 could have easily followed (it was a good year). In that spirit, hopefully you’ll share your picks in the comments section, but for now, here are 13 performances from 2013 not to forget when someone else is being played off stage for making their acceptance speech too long.

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experiment

What’s the reason humanity has become so plagued with diseases and mental disorders that historically have not existed over the course of the last fifty years or so? A new documentary from producer Sean Penn and directors Dana Nachman and Don Hardy called The Human Experiment theorizes that it’s all of the chemicals that have been introduced into our food and our environment by greedy corporations and ever expanding industry. Okay, so this documentary doesn’t so much theorize this as it fervently believes it and aggressively calls its viewer to take action against the corporations who are operating with little or no regulations and certainly without any sense of morality or restraint. This is probably the movie most concerned with chemicals since The Bourne Legacy. Take a look at the trailer, provided by THR, and decide if this is an issue you can get behind.

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller‘s no stranger to the dramatic role. His career has been dotted with films like The Royal Tenenbaums and Greenberg, projects that demonstrate his abilities in a role not played for yuks (although it’s probably fair to say that the former makes a much stronger case than the latter). Now Stiller’s at it again with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which will see the actor/director as, not surprisingly, both actor and director. Walter Mitty may show off Stiller’s dramatic side, but that doesn’t make it a tearjerker – the trailer has its fair share of that same slightly dry, slightly funny indie-film quirk present in both Tenenbaums and Greenberg. It’s especially apparent towards the end, as Stiller sports a wry look while a branch thwacks him in the face and he makes his choice of red or blue car. I’m not sure whether a soft chuckle or a sigh is more appropriate. The quirkiness on display here does seem a little played out. But everything that comes beforehand is much more refreshing. With no dialogue (up until the end), little hints at some stellar supporting players (Kristen Wiig, Sean Penn, and Adam Scott), and an inviting look at Stiller’s daydreams, the trailer has far more positive than it does negative. ake a look at that trailer down below.

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penntough

What is Casting Couch? It’s a daily info dump of casting news. Today we’ve got reports of new jobs for Internet favorites like Simon Pegg and Peter Dinklage, as well as a bunch of pictures of actors holding animals, because why not? Paul Thomas Anderson’s upcoming film, Inherent Vice, is said to have somewhere around 20 important speaking roles, so it’s starting to look like it may call for the most star-studded cast he’s ever put together; or at least the most star-studded since he last did an ensemble piece like Magnolia. Anyway, Cigarettes and Red Vines is reporting that the next big name likely to join the film is Sean Penn, as he’s currently in negotiations, and if the PTA-centric blog had to take a guess as to what role he’s up for, they imagine he’s going to be playing hard-nosed loan shark Adrian Prussia. They also have the interesting news that Penn’s signing would make him the fourth member of his family to work alongside Anderson. They’re really a very thorough blog.

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seanpenn-thismustbetheplace

After hearing about it for almost two years, you’ve probably been scratching your arm skin off to get a chance to own This Must Be The Place on DVD. Well, we’ve got good news for you (and bad news about your inability to regrow skin). We’ve giving three (3) DVDs away, and if you want to get your hands on a copy, all you have to do is share this post on Facebook (through the little button in the bottom right hand corner of the post) or go to our Facebook page and sharing the contest post that’s slapped up over there. US Residents only. Sorry, all other countries. Do it by tomorrow (2/12) at midnight, and you’re entered to win. Then watch the trailer over and over and over again until we pick three random winners:

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gangster 1

This weekend’s Gangster Squad may invoke classical conventions of the mobster genre, but director Ruben Fleischer never set out to make an old school throwback. His dramatic action movie is a part of a new breed of period pieces, ones made with a very modern sensibility. They move at a bullet’s pace, are shot with feverish popcorn energy, and avoid any preconceived notions of being stuffy. Fleischer didn’t set out to make an epic like The Godfather, and after 30 Minutes or Less and Zombieland we wouldn’t expect that from him, but that doesn’t mean he settles into expectations either. Generally if you work in a genre more than once, you become distinctly known as, in Fleischer’s case, “the comedy” guy. While Gangster Squad has its laughs, it shows Fleischer working on a whole new level as a visual storyteller in a different genre . Speaking with Fleischer, he was obviously happy to escape the pigeonhole with his third feature film. Here’s what he had to say about seeing his movie 400 times, the hilarity of Sean Penn and why he’ll continue to shoot digitally:

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Sean Penn

What is Casting Couch? It’s a daily casting column that isn’t stalking Maria Bello. It swears. Sean Penn has been one of Hollywood’s top actors for decades now, but he’s never really been the sort of performer who stars in big budget blockbusters. Doesn’t he deserve to have his own action franchise already? Well, if his latest project takes off at the box office, he might get it. THR reports that Penn has signed on to star in an adaptation of one of French crime novelist Jean-Patrick Manchette’s books, “The Prone Gunman,” where he will play a badass spy type who gets betrayed by his organization and ends up getting chased all across Europe in a deadly game of cat and mouse. Think of it as being like Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire, only starring an actor.

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  Editor’s note: With This Must Be the Place now officially released in theaters, here is a re-run of our Cannes review, originally published on May 20, 2011. Sean Penn‘s second appearance at this year’s fest – though in truth his first main once, since he was relegated to a side player in The Tree of Life – sees him don his finest goth garb and make-up to take an impressive shot at a Robert Smith type character. He plays Cheyenne, an aging former rock star, who seems happy to live off his royalties in a grand country house in Ireland with his wife (Frances McDormand), though really he is stagnating: depressed or bored, he can’t work out which. He gets an opportunity for respite when his father dies and he travels home to America for the funeral, subsequently learning that his father had been obsessed with tracking down a former Nazi Auschwitz guard who tormented him, and using the information he had already compiled to take on the task himself. In essence Paolo Sorrentino’s This Must Be The Place is a one-man road movie, and in traditional fashion it presents both a metaphorical and a physical journey through undiscovered or at least unfamiliar lands. And it all hangs on yet another stellar performance by Mr. Penn, who now must be getting close to being sick of the praise.

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Gangster Squad Reshoots

“You’re going to be begging for a bullet before it’s over,” maybe isn’t the smartest line to end your preview with. Good thing it doesn’t look like The Gangster Squad is going to make for any kind of chore. This second trailer is packed to the brim with big hats, lots of bullets, and plenty of funny voices — all the famous hallmarks for a man’s man kind of movie. When you have a cast which includes Josh Brolin, Sean Penn, Anthony Mackie, Nicky Nolte, and Robert Patrick, pure manliness is probably what you’re going to end up with. Check out the second trailer for The Gangster Squad to see how many times you can hear “good lord” before going nuts:

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This Must Be the Place

Like a bizarre rumor, This Must Be The Place has been floating around out there for a while. It saw audiences at Cannes 2011 (where Simon fell in love with it) and then traveled to Sundance, so even though its journey hasn’t been as long as some festival flicks out there, it’s nice to see it finally see the darkened theater light of day. From director Paolo Sorrentino, the film stars Sean Penn as a former rock star who is spurred by his father’s death to learn more about the man and to track down the Nazi death camp guard who tormented him. He does this all while looking like Robert Smith from The Cure and talking as if years of drug use made him permanently dehydrated. From the trailer, it looks to be a serious subject handled with dry absurdity. Check it out for yourself:

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Sean Penn and Josh Brolin

Sean Penn is no stranger to sending young men out into nature to do battle with the elements. After all, his most recent directorial effort, Into the Wild, saw Emile Hirsch playing a real-life character who did just that. And it doesn’t seem like Penn has gotten those man vs. nature themes out of his head just yet, because Variety is reporting that his next project will be sticking to very similar subject matter. The film is called Crazy for the Storm, and it tells the true story of Norman Ollestad, an 11-year-old boy who survived a plane crash only to find himself stranded and alone in a mountain wilderness. Given that Will Fetters adapted the screenplay for this project from Ollestad’s memoirs, it’s no real spoiler to say that the boy survived the experience, and that’s said to be largely thanks to survival skills he was taught by his father, a former F.B.I. agent who apparently had his kid doing way crazy stuff at an early age (best dad ever).

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Ruben Fleischer is two for two. Zombieland and 30 Minutes or Less both exhibited an energetic brand of comedy that showed off the chops of a new talent. Now it’s time for that talent to change genres and show some range. The Gangster Squad was a black list script from Will Beall that made its way to Warners. The first trailer boasts a stellar cast of Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Nick Nolte, Emma Stone, Sean Penn and a ton of familiar face. Plus, Gosling comes off as a total pansy here, no matter what size gun he’s got. That’s an interesting reversal after the stoic badass in Drive. It looks like a standard gangland story, but the visuals are dynamic and everything points to it being a solid flick. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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Possible introductory pieces of wordsmithery to lead off this post – “not worth nyuk-ing about!” or even “better than a poke in the eye!” or possibly a longer rife on the use of “just say Moe” as the film’s tagline. Yet all of those cracks at humor are rendered absolutely and starkly unnecessary by this first trailer for the Farrelly Brothers‘ The Three Stooges, which is so painfully unfunny that it makes even related humor feel useless. The Farrellys have been wanting to make a Stooges feature film for years, proclaiming it a passion project, but its journey to the screen has been filled with its own pratfalls and slams to the face – development delays and huge casting issues abounded. The film was originally rumored to star Jim Carrey, Benicico del Toro, and Sean Penn, but when they all dropped the project, other potential casting options were mentioned and reported, including Hank Azaria, Johnny Knoxville, Andy Samberg, and Shane Jacobson. Which doesn’t explain how we ended up with a cast that includes Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe Howard, Sean Hayes as Larry Fine, and Will Sasso as Curly Howard. And Snooki is there, because why not make something that looks terrible look even more bogglingly awful? If you don’t value your eyes, your soul, or the possibility that Hollywood would greenlight an original and creative project, check out the first trailer for The Three Stooges after the break.

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It’s not often these days that you hear word of a new Robert De Niro project that doesn’t sound completely awful. Recently, when I think “De Niro,” I don’t think Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, I think Meet the Parents sequels and cameos in the New Year’s Eve trailer. So when word of something as promising as Sean Penn’s next film, The Comedian, comes across the news wire, I take a moment to breath deeply and cherish the feeling. Penn’s first effort as a director since 2007’s Into the Wild, The Comedian will tell the story of an aging comic who is filled with angst and rage due to his fading star power. He’s even hit such a low point that he’s been arrested and assigned community service because he hit an audience member in the head with a microphone. Just the thought of seeing De Niro once again taking on the role of a comedian should be enough to stir up all sorts of positive memories of The King of Comedy, but his casting isn’t the only thing this project has going for it. Once De Niro’s character gets started with his community service, he ends up meeting a gorgeous redhead who turns his world upside down. That redhead will be played by Kristen Wiig, fresh off her star-making performance in this year’s Bridesmaids. Not only is Wiig the hot thing right now, she’s also completely hilarious and a really unique persona, so I can’t wait to see her […]

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If you haven’t been reading along, I’ve been gushing about Ruben Fleischer’s upcoming crime drama The Gangster Squad for quite a while. Story details about the cops and gangsters flick about real life gangster Mickey Cohen can be found in my first article about the movie, where it was announced that Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, and Ryan Gosling had all been cast in key roles. Penn is in the starring role as Cohen, and Brolin and Gosling are two of the members of the titular gangster squad that is put together to take him down. After hearing that, I didn’t think that life could get much better, but then it did. The second Gangster Squad related bomb that Fleischer dropped on me was that man about town Bryan Cranston would also be joining the cast as a rough and tumble member of the LAPD by way of Texas. Suddenly the original Triumvirate of Awesome that was the Gangster Squad cast became the Cornerstones of Awesome instead. And now that the film has such a solid foundation to build a metaphorical house on, it’s time to start picking out pretty curtains and stuff by filling out the cast further. The big news of the day from Deadline Monowi is that grizzled, crazy actor Nick Nolte has also been cast. He will play Bill Parker, the incorruptible chief of police who takes it upon himself to form this so-called gangster squad. That sounds like a big role. Seeing as Nolte’s upcoming movie […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column, sure. But at its core, it is a hunter. A hunter of the most interesting film-related tidbits of the day. Can you feel the heat? It’s not enough for director Alex Proyas will make Paradise Lost, the story of the break between Heaven and Hell. But he’s also bringing Djimon Hounsou as the Angel of Death. If there is one actor that I look at on a consistent basis and think, “that man would bring death to me,” it’s Hounsou. It sure beats Bradley Cooper as Lucifer, so we’ll see how it shakes out.

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Zack Snyder has been involved with the upcoming, set in Afghanistan drama The Last Photograph from the very beginning. Since the project’s inception he has served as a co-writer and a producer. When you hear that Snyder is involved with a drama set in a war torn country, the concept instantly sends up some red flags. How would his flashy, comic-booky style fit with more real-world, dramatic subject matter than men in loin clothes eviscerating each other or girls in short skirts fighting giant robots? In the past this wasn’t too much of a concern, however, as Snyder was just in a producer’s role. The director’s job was going to go to someone else, and that someone else ended up being The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo helmer Niels Arden Oplev. He’s good, right? Yay, everyone cheers, and we all live happily ever after. Not so fast. Twitch is now reporting that Oplev has dropped out of the project for mysterious reasons, and seeing as he is already so engaged in it’s development, Snyder is going to step into the director’s role as an easy fit. The Last Photograph should fit perfectly into Snyder’s schedule, as he can slip right into shooting after he finishes work on the Superman reboot Man of Steel. That brings up some problems. Will Christian Bale’s reporter character be doing slow motion spin moves, snapping off photographs in mid air, while mortar shells explode around him? Will we get a scene of Sean Penn’s character […]

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When it was announced that Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, and Josh Brolin were all starring together in the upcoming Gangster Squad, I went as far as to call them a tri-force of awesome. That’s some ridiculous hyperbole, but the limits of my excessive enthusiasm for this project haven’t even begun to spin out of control yet. Wait until I hear that Bryan Cranston is also joining the cast, and then see what happens. Oh wait, I just found out. So now I’m ready to declare Gangster Squad the greatest movie ever made, before it has even been filmed. How’s that for hyperbole? For a quick recap, Gangster Squad is to be directed by Zombieland’s Ruben Fleischer, from a script based off of this L.A. Times article and written by a retired cop named Will Beall. Penn will play famous gangster Mickey Cohen, Gosling and Brolin will be the duo of police trying to bring him in, and now Variety reports that Cranston will be playing, “Max Kennard, a laconic LAPD officer from Texas who enforces the law ambitiously.” I take “laconic” to mean that he’s going to be doing a lot of his Cranston glare. And the phrase “enforces the law ambitiously” to mean that he’s going to be planting evidence, taking bribes, and dropping guns with the serial numbers filed off onto the bodies of young punks that he shoots. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go quit my job so I can properly prepare for this […]

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The Tree of Life isn’t a film for everyone. You have to meet it halfway, it tests your patience at times, and it doesn’t fit normal storytelling conventions. If a viewer isn’t at all into experimental filmmaking and doesn’t know what “non-linear” means, then it’s most likely not a film for them. Because of this, some filmgoers should probably do their homework before going to Terrence Malick’s epic. “Brad Pitt? Sean Penn? Dinosaurs? And the creation of earth!?! Awesome!” Some patrons must’ve gotten that impression, and the art house Avon Theater in Stamford, CT is responding to those theatergoers who would prefer a refund, rather than enduring a two and a half hour poem. Here’s the “no refund” warning the theater put out:

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The Tree of Life is a film that, as most of you have surely already noticed, will be hailed for its beauty and visual ecstasy. Everyone will discuss how every frame could make for a great photo or whether or not Terrence Malick is actually saying something with all those incredibly long non-narrative shots, but thematically, Malick backs up his eye-candy. While the headline title and statement made by actress Jessica Chastain could be read as being very hyperbolic, it couldn’t be closer to the truth. The Tree of Life does not hit the standard narrative beats, something that will either excite or annoy viewers. When there’s a 20-minute sequence of seeing the beginning of time unfold, you’ll quickly realize you’re not watching your typical drama. Here’s what Jessica Chastain had to say in our quick conversation about the film’s truthful exploration of childhood memories, the film’s structure, how Malick’s scripts read, and her interpretation of the ending.

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