Stanley Tucci

Paramount Pictures

There was a question for a brief while as to whether or not director Michael Bay would return to the Transformers franchise he helped create once the initial trilogy was complete. The answer came fairly quickly after his critically successful but lowest grossing film yet, Pain & Gain, came and went at the box office last year. The third film’s $1B+ haul probably had something to do with his return as well, but all of that is filler. Bring on the transforming metallic creatures! Transformers: Age of Extinction features a world where mankind has turned its back on the intergalactic visitors who’ve saved our asses three times now. An Earth without space-born threats is an Earth without a need for Transformers apparently, so our friends Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Snake Eyes, El Beardo, Yellow Stream, Racist Caricature, Ricardo Montalban and others are scattered and in hiding. An all-American farmer (Mark Wahlberg) finds Prime rotting in a junkyard, and soon the semi, the farmer and his “hot” daughter are racing to save the world from Stanley Tucci. I may need to watch the trailer again.

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LaBute

The past few years have been strange for Neil LaBute. Not personally speaking, unless TMZ covers LaBute’s life and I missed something, but his filmography took a turn with 2006′s The Wicker Man. He went from directing The Shape of Things to Nicolas Cage in a bear suit screaming about bees. He followed that YouTube sensation with Lakeview Terrace and Death at a Funeral. He was trying his hand at new material, which in today’s world, is seen as strange. But LaBute has returned to directing his own material, where the border between the stage and film is broken down. Some Velvet Morning is set in one location with two characters, Fred (Stanley Tucci) and Velvet (Alice Eve), working out their feelings with explosive results. For LaBute, this film is a return to his roots. We got to talk to LaBute about his writing process, what makes something cinematic and why he likely wouldn’t adapt “Fat Pig.”

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tucci

Stanley Tucci can now add “LaBute’s classical ass” to his profile. Writer/Director Neil LaBute has always been known for writing vicious men who put their female counterparts through the ringer. Naturally, that’s what Tucci’s character does in Some Velvet Morning. Tucci plays Fred, a man attempting to worm his way back into Velvet’s (Alice Eve) life. He toys with her, manipulates her, and tries to break her down just enough that she comes crawling back into his arms. Some Velvet Morning is set in one house with two characters, which means Tucci and Eve are in the camera’s eye for all 82 minutes of its runtime. It makes for a challenge, but Tucci was more than game for the film’s fast schedule. Of course, there were a few things that helped.

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medora locker room

Small things matter in Medora, Indiana. It’s the kind of town where “enormous” only really applies to people’s pride, especially in the minimal size of their community, schools and achievements. But to them it’s relative. What may seem like small victories are really great ones. And no part of Medora is more illustrative of this than the high school basketball team, which is the absolute worst in a state famous for the sport. When — if — they ever win, it’s almost the equivalent of being named national champions. Medora, a gripping and thoughtful documentary about this place produced by actors Steve Buscemi and Stanley Tucci, focuses on a single season with the Hornets, who in the previous year went 0-22. But it’s really about the endangered small towns having big trouble surviving in modern America, and not just because of the recent economic downtick. Factories have been gone, farms have been struggling and funding for public education institutions have been dwindling by the school year.

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Jack the Giant Slayer

Jack the Giant Slayer is like an expensive remake of The Brothers Grimm, except more pricey and less interesting. Director Bryan Singer has always been a reliable director, but as is sometimes the case with Terry Gilliam the audience for his latest work seems unclear. It’s too goofy for most adults, not energetic enough for kids and instead exists as a tonally bizarre, lethargically paced oddity. It does manage the occasional moments of light-hearted entertainment, but they’re few and far between resulting in a strange and surprising misfire since on paper Jack’s journey sounds like a sure thing of a popcorn movie.

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Robert Redford in The Company You Keep

Just last week we reported that Robert Redford’s latest film, The Company You Keep, managed to score a distribution deal before it even played any festivals. Well, the film is gearing up to play Venice and Toronto regardless, so TIFF has released a trailer promoting it. Complete with typewriter sounds and vintage news footage, said trailer starts off by making The Company You Keep look like it’s going to be an authentic, journalistic look at the history of the radical anti-war group The Weather Underground, but then we’re suddenly dumped into present day, and it’s revealed that this is actually going to be a fun-looking chase movie about the last few members of the movement still being on the run from the law. The Company You Keep is full of grizzled old activists/bank robbers, plucky young reporters, plucky young F.B.I. agents, action, intrigue, murder, and a cast that features names like Redford, Susan Sarandon, Shia LaBeouf, Brendan Gleeson, Anna Kendrick, Terrence Howard, Nick Nolte, Sam Elliott, Richard Jenkins, Chris Cooper, Brit Marling, Julie Christie, Stephen Root, and Stanley Tucci.

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Drinking Games

Along with Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, and Batman, a lesser-known heroine named Katniss Everdeen became one of the biggest box office draws of 2012. Now the immensely popular dystopian science fiction adventure The Hunger Games is available on DVD and Blu-ray. The Hunger Games tells the story of a dark future where the government punishes the people by forcing their children to fight to the death in an arena. You know the drill, basically a less-Japanese version of Battle Royale with some really funky fashions. Still, it’s an enjoyable film and worth enjoying with a drink in your hand.

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Culture Warrior

Most dystopian science-fiction narratives feature stories in which a protagonist experiences a process of ‘waking up,’ transitioning from a state of blind ignorance to one of newfound enlightenment. The protagonists of The Matrix (1999), Brazil (1985), and the ur-text for dystopian futures, George Orwell’s 1984 (and its numerous film adaptations), all feature primary characters who transition from a state of passivity and complicity in an oppressive and manufactured society and transition to a newly critical, empowered state of being in which they are able to see beyond the veil of ignorance and witness the world for what it ‘really’ is for the first time. These protagonists are made capable of seeing beyond the structures of propaganda and carefully constructed illusion that they previously accepted to be objective reality and develop a political impetus in direct reaction to their previous state of complicity and ignorance. As someone previously uninitiated to the world of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games (I hadn’t read any of the books prior to seeing the film), what struck me most about Gary Ross’s adaptation is the spin it puts on the typical ignorance-to-enlightenment narrative of dystopian science-fiction.

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Did you not already get your fill of the Jack and the Beanstalk myth from this year’s Puss in Boots? Good, because Bryan Singer has his own (live-action) take on the tale, and the results look to be similarly cartoonish. Listen, you try to make magic beans look menacing while also crafting a giant goddamn beanstalk that pops up out of the ground without it looking totally bizarre and silly, okay? Oh, you did already? Oh. Oh, that looks nice! While there was a fair bit of buzz around Singer’s Jack the Giant Killer before the film blossomed into existence (see what I did there?) mainly regarding Singer talking about the project for over two years, casting rumors as to who would be starring as the titular Jack (Aaron Johnson and Andrew Garfield were both talked about before the role went to another superhero kiddo, X-Men: First Class‘s Nicholas Hoult), and a delay that pushed the film back almost a year, news on the project has been surprisingly scarce since it started filming earlier this year. So what’s the finished result of the classic tale reimagined going to look like? Well, if you believe this trailer, a bit like a cross between Puss and Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Check out the first trailer for Jack the Giant Killer, complete with its own big-eyed orange kitty (seriously), after the break.

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Culture Warrior

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Source Code…and, for that matter, Avatar. Recently in Hollywood, the physiological capabilities of our heroic protagonists have owed a great deal to modern medicine and technology, specifically from the military. Whether it be the unique opportunity provided for the paraplegic Jake Sully in Avatar, the incredible and unwanted responsibility of the nearly-dead Colter Stevens in Source Code, or the intravenous hyper-bulking of Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger, Hollywood has given us a spate of unlikely protagonists connected specifically by the fact that their initial disabilities provide for them a unique opportunity to become exceptionally enabled.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr goes retro this week and injects himself with strange chemicals in an attempt to become a World War II era super soldier. Hop over to the Fat Guys at the Movies page to see if his physique has reached the pinnacle of that of Chris Evans from Captain America. After recovering from the procedure, Kevin randomly wandering the streets, looking for hot ladies like Mila Kunis who just want to have sex but with no emotional baggage of a relationship. Sadly, this will probably end up as empty and worthless as his similar attempt last January when No Strings Attached came out.

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The films of Marvel Studios have come full circle, and not a moment too soon. What began with a flurry of excitement over Iron Man, their opening salvo into the world of being an independent studio, has lately been listless in its Avenger-assembling agenda. In their last two outings — Iron Man 2 and Thor — they’ve spent more time focused on the future of the heroes than the heroes themselves. With Captain America: The First Avenger, they take full advantage of the ability to leave all the distractions out of it, allowing them to deliver their most confidently crafted, complete film yet. Sure, the story of Captain America feels bookended by his role in Marvel’s forthcoming team-up movie, and from what we’ve been told, The Avengers is your reason for sticking around after the credits. But in between all that, director Joe Johnston has set out to tell the simple story of a hero named Steve Rogers. The year is 1942, and after five unsuccessful attempts to join the fight against Adolf Hitler, a scrawny Rogers isn’t ready to give up. Luckily his heart and determination catches the eye of a government scientist whose work includes making a Super Soldier serum that will turn an ordinary man into a super-human fighting machine. Desperate to get in on the action, the young patriot from Brooklyn signs on the dotted line. A few doses of steroids later and this scrawny little dude, created with brilliant CG-enhanced, Benjamin Button style effect that […]

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Please don’t actually hold your lighter up to the screen to try this at home. Seriously. Put it down. This new motion poster for The Hunger Games features the main icon of the series – the Mockinjay Pin – which explodes in flames, but there’s no need to describe it here since it’s probably roasting below right now. Plus, if a picture is worth 1,000 words, this is technically worth 34,000,000. And, honestly, would you put that lighter away?

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Director Joe Johnston loves good old fashioned fun. The Rocketeer, Hidalgo, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, and Captain America: The First Avenger don’t contain a dark or cynical bone in their bodies. While some superhero films try to go to darker places nowadays — usually by just having their hero mope around — Johnston has no interest in a sulky hero. Captain America is all about adventure, charms, and simply being a kid from Brooklyn. While many people question if Cap can reach an audience outside of the States, Johnston thinks differently. The Boba Fett and Iron Giant creator didn’t want to make a commercial about America’s awesomeness; he wanted to explore themes that nearly everyone can relate to. Like his previous films, the idea of finding one’s identity and coming of age is present in Captain America: The First Avenger. Despite being a super solider who looks the way that he does, Captain America is like any other kid trying to become the man he’s meant to be. Here’s what Joe Johnston had to say about Raiders of the Lost Ark, fully embracing the color palette of comics, the ego of Red Skull, staying sincere without being cheesy, and why he’s a true film school reject:

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According to the 114th press release about Hunger Games casting we’ve received, Stanley Tucci will be suiting up to play. He joins the other well-known cast members in what will surely be a battle to the death of not-yet-known up-and-comers by playing Caesar Flickerman. Does anyone else think the names of the novels were created by a random name generating website? According to the release, Flickerman is the host of the Hunger Games and has the uncanny ability to find the humor even in the darkest of scenarios. Plus, he wears a signature suit covered in light bulbs to accent his blue hair and generally weird appearance. This is awesome. Stanley Tucci is going to dress up like Matthew Lesko and interview children who are about to die. Sold.

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Burlesque tells the unique, riveting tale of a small-town girl with big dreams, who hops off a bus in Hollywood and ascends to stardom. Centered on a burlesque themed nightclub, in which our protagonist finds a mentor and faces off with a rival as she claws her way to the top, the movie breaks bold new cinematic ground and will surely live on in the hearts and minds of all those who see it.

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As the only literate Reject, it’s my duty to find the latest, the greatest and the untouched classics that would make great source material for film adaptations. I read so you don’t have to. This week, Print to Projector presents the story of a young man joining an ad agency in the early 1960s, but instead of drinking scotch, chain smoking, and wearing nice suits all day, he stumbles upon the Milgram Experiment, a mysterious suicide of a close friend and is haunted by his true murderous nature.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr is stuck in an elevator reviewing movies, but he realizes that being in there with the Devil isn’t nearly as bad when you’re also stuck in there with faux-slut Emma Stone. To pass the time, he robs a few banks in The Town of Boston with Ben Affleck and embroiders a scarlet Easy A on his chest. Sigh… if only he had worn a shirt when he did that…

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Emma Stone is up to her elbows in boys that want to pretend to sleep with her. In the movie Easy A she plays Olive, the smart girl that’s generally ignored by her class who gets a taste of popularity by way of infamy and continues to trash her own reputation in order to have one. She pretends to have sex with a gay classmate in order to boost his social status, and what results is a trip into a world of perception, heartache, trying to get with the school mascot, and a big red A on her chest.

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Some are already looking at the new trailer for the Christina Aguilera, Cher team-up Burlesque and reacting to the tune of “it’s Showgirls meets Chicago.” Cinematical’s Alison Nastasi may have hit the nail on the head with this comment: “more like Showgirls lite — Oprah approved,” pointing out the film’s need to dance through PG-13 territory. The film is a stock tale of a small-town girl (Aguilera) heading for the big city trying to make it big. She authoritatively buys herself a one-way ticket to the big city (in this case, Los Angeles) and starts working on her dream of becoming a burlesque dancer, with Cher as her reluctant guide. As a fan of burlesque shows, I was intrigued. As a fan of watchable movies, I was left with a feeling of wanting — wanting for Cinemax late night programming, or something of the like. More after the jump.

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