Tim Blake Nelson

The Sound and the Fury

James Franco’s desire to prove himself in almost every medium of art merits serious discussion, especially when his eagerness puts him on a path to direct an adaptation of William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury with screenwriter Matt Rager. The novel is widely considered to be one of the greatest English-language works of the 20th century, praised for its successful use of stream of consciousness writing, unorthodox structure, and difficult characters. It’s not a simple book, to say the least, and if it’s going to be adapted, it deserves more than a simple movie.

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Well Go USA Entertainment

Early on, Child of God signals to you how it’s going to go about its business. Main character Lester Ballard (Scott Haze) abruptly stops his foraging in the woods to pull down his drawers, squat, go to the bathroom and use a stick to wipe his rear. All in plain view of the camera. This movie is going to literally show you shit… and much worse. The story goes on to include sexual assault, murder, the mutilation of corpses, and necrophilia, none of which the audience is spared from witnessing. That right there is likely to tell you whether or not you’ll be at all interested in watching this film. I’ll understand if you lose all interest, though this graphic ugliness comes hand in hand with some truly great artistry. I know it’s a cliche for a critic to praise explicit, difficult work as “artistic.” I doubt that the debate over the value of smashing taboos will ever be settled. The best we can expect is that people become inured to what they previously never dared to look at or talk about, only for new unspeakables to come into vogue. Or maybe we’ll develop into a society without limits. I’d be interested to see what that looked like. But for now, there are certain things that we are conditioned from birth not to talk about or look at too much, and it can be incredibly uncomfortable when an artist forces us to do so (and I think that, the way cinema works, there is an […]

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Tim Blake Nelson in The Incredible Hulk

The Fantastic Four already has its Fantastic Four. It also has a Doctor Doom. And once those five names were announced, the world said, “Well, neat,” and promptly moved on to other things. Once we have the science-minded super family and their arch-nemesis, what else is there to care about? Mole Man. We should care about Mole Man. Because according to The Hollywood Reporter, Tim Blake Nelson is in talks to join The Fantastic Four as “Harvey Elder, an eccentric and socially awkward scientist” who is also the guy who eventually burrows underground, enslaves a race of mole people and christens himself Mole Man, hellbent on destroying the surface world that shunned him for being extremely short and also kind of a jerk. Now to harsh the buzz brought about by the words “Mole” and “Man. According to The Hollywood Reporter’s anonymous sources, The Fantastic Four won’t have any Mole Man. Just Elder, being wacky and eccentric and setting himself up as a future villain, presumably for The Fantastic Four 2 and its June 14, 2017, release date.

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Adventures in the Sin Bin

Like a teenaged C.C. Baxter, Brian (Michael Seater) loans his van out to his buddies for sex (to have in, not with), but he’s dying to lose his virginity and get in on the greasy fun. Luckily a popular guy named Tony (Bo Burnham) takes him under his wing, and things go completely off track in Adventures in the Sin Bin. I thought it might have been a hockey movie, too. From the looks of the trailer, it’s as charming and off-kilter as any coming-of-age sex comedy with the added benefit of Jeff Garlin, Tim Blake Nelson and Gillian Jacobs rounding out some roles. Plus, Burnham looks on fire here as a smarmy operator. Check it out for yourself:

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BC3

Editor’s Note: Kevin’s review of Blue Caprice originally ran during this year’s Sundance Film Festival, but we’re re-posting it now as the film opens in limited release. The Beltway Snipers captivated the country’s attention and established a shroud of fear for people living in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia back in October of 2002. Blue Caprice is loosely inspired by that story, keeping some of the key players and events while changing backgrounds and actions significantly. Director Alexandre Moors (Cruel Summer) wanted to focus on the relationship between the elder John Allen Muhammad and the younger Lee Boyd Malvo rather than making the film about the actual murders themselves. Fiction diverges from reality right from the beginning of the film, with Lee (Tequan Richmond) first encountering John (Isaiah Washington) in Antigua after his mother leaves him to fend for himself. In reality, John met and knew Lee’s mother. For those familiar with the backstory of the actual Beltway Sniper attacks, this signifies that the film takes its own path. But for people unfamiliar with the particulars, this might be a case of fiction becoming a false reality. It’s more very loosely based on a true story than it is meant to be historical fiction.

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tim blake

The first three weeks of October 2002 was a tense time for anyone living around the Nation’s Capital. Living in Maryland I vividly recall the amount of fear the Beltway Snipers created, leading to special precautions at schools and people avoiding crowded areas. The movie that tells the story of those two snipers, Blue Caprice, captures that uneasiness with slow-building, methodical filmmaking. There’s a few familiar faces in Alexander Moors‘ film, including Tim Blake Nelson, playing Ray, an “unwitting accomplice” to one of the snipers. While he’s most famous for playing one of the many lovable morons in O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Nelson has been working successfully as a writer, director, and, for the past year and a half, a member of James Franco‘s camp. Nelson has now acted in two of Franco’s films, As I Lay Dying and Child of God, making for a collaboration that has put a pep in Mr. Nelson’s step. We discussed that artistic partnership with Nelson, as well as Blue Caprice, humanizing transformations, and why an actor always needs to have their antennae out:

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childofgod

When James Franco announced that he wanted to write and direct an adaptation of William Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying,” most of us scoffed at the idea and said that it was a story that would never make for a good movie. Franco being Franco, he went ahead and did the job anyway, and now he’s got a completed As I Lay Dying film that debuted at Cannes and is scheduled for a limited theatrical release in the US at the end of September. Point for James Franco. Never one to take a break from giving himself challenges, Franco then moved on to adapting another challenging work from another titan of the literary game, Cormac McCarthy’s “Child of God.” If you’re familiar with The Road, which John Hillcoat adapted from another McCarthy work, or even No Country For Old Men, which was the Coen brothers’ take on one of his stories, then you know McCarthy is an author who can go pretty dark and get pretty bleak with his material. Well, if you want to understand the challenge that Franco undertook by making Child of God,  take all that darkness and bleakness in things like The Road and No Country, and then multiply it by about a hundred, because this is probably the most disturbing story featuring the most difficult to relate to character McCarthy has ever written. It’s hard to imagine anyone being able to make this one into a movie anyone would want to watch, but now Deadline has […]

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leader

Remember when Tim Blake Nelson‘s noggin started looking all funky in The Incredible Hulk? Well, if you don’t, it happened around the point where the Hulk and the Abomination starting ripping each other apart. While those two worked out their problems, Dr. Samuel Sterns was having a makeover. Before the finale, we saw Sterns crack a smile while making his transformation into The Leader, the brilliant green-skinned Marvel baddie. He’s a villain favorite for some, possibly even the makers of The Amazing Spider-Man, who used one of his more famous schemes for The Lizard’s grand plan. The Leader is a very comic book-y type of villain, one that could have been too much for Marvel’s Phase I, but now that the studio has pushed the boundaries of its scientific status, bringing back actor Tim Blake Nelson to terrorize The Hulk or The Avengers is a solid idea. Louis Leterrier would seem to agree. Speaking with him recently, I asked whether there was ever serious talk over using The Leader in future films.

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Evan Green

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting column that’s basically been subsisting on news coming out of Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City sequel in recent days. Today he adds two more actors to his ensemble. The big news is that Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, after having already shot some of its scenes, has finally found an actress to play the character of Ava Lord, who serves as the film’s titular dame. Dimension Films announced [via ComingSoon] that the powers that be have decided to go with Eva Green. The Ava Lord character is described by Frank Miller as being “every man’s most glorious dreams come true, she’s also every man’s darkest nightmares,” and both Miller and Rodriguez agree that Green is the actress who can best, “embody the multifaceted characteristics of this femme fatale.” That’s either a big compliment, or they might have just called her a bitch.

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Considering the dazzling assortment of projects that multi-hyphenate/total lunatic James Franco gets involved with, tossing around the term “passion project” as it applies to any of them might be a bit moot – after all, the guy seems to be passionate about everything he does (including directing commercials for phones or pulling guest gigs on soap operas). Yet, Franco does seem to have a deep love for his next project – directing an adaptation of William Faulkner‘s “As I Lay Dying” from his own script. Showbiz411 passes on word that the project will start filming this October in Mississippi. Showbiz411 also first reported the news that Franco had penned a script for the project and was looking to direct it way back in January of 2011. At that time, the rumored cast included Paul Dano, Michael Shannon, Joaquin Phoenix, and Richard Jenkins, all big talents that would contribute to telling a classic story that is memorably told in a number of different voices and from different perspectives. Of course, the months-long delay for the film has meant that most of it has been recast (though Franco himself is still expected to have a small role in the film), and the current slate of talent is not nearly as impressive as the first round.

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Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr heads out to the drab English countryside to settle a woman’s estate only to find the place haunted. Fortunately, Kevin had already crawled down a mysterious hole and gained super powers, so he’s able to fend off the evil spirits. For a fleeting moment, he considers using his new powers for good, like to save a family of gray whales trapped under the ice in Barrow, Alaska. However, his fear of the 30 Days of Night vampires keep him at home. He then decides to use his new powers to read the subtitles of The Hidden Face so he can enjoy the copious amounts of pretty Colombian breasts.

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For those of us who are not predisposed to spend hours of our time spying on birds in a forest, birding aficionados can seem like an awfully strange lot. That’s not to suggest that their hobby isn’t understandable. After all, the satisfaction in finding a rare bird seems similar to the sense of accomplishment one feels upon finishing a difficult puzzle, or upon finally locating Waldo. Still, anyone who’s ever accompanied a birder on his mission knows that once the object of prey is spotted there will be a long, frenzied staring and photographic session, with any slight movement met with enthusiastic “oohs” and “aahs.” If you’re not of the niche birder community, this is an insufferable experience. So it’s hard to fathom why director David Frankel and screenwriter Howard Franklin imagined anyone would be especially entertained by a movie about it.

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A murder mystery, a sci-fi action movie, a family drama = Tom Cruise… in the future! Why We Love It There’s been a lot of shameful Phillip K. Dick adaptations. From John Woo’s comically bad Paycheck to the just plain bad Next, Dick’s prolific work does not always receive the best of treatments. However, Stephen Spielberg delivered one of those best treatments. In the vein of Blade Runner and Total Recall, I have no doubt that Minority Report will be regarded as a classic one day.

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Daniel Day-Lewis. Tommy Lee Jones. Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Sally Field. Tim Blake Nelson. Hal Holbrook. James Spader. John Hawkes. Steven Spielberg has officially pointed his bat at the far bleachers when it comes to casting his upcoming film Lincoln. It’s telling when the Oscar talk can begin fairly nonchalantly during the casting phase. We already knew that Sally Field was set to play Mary Todd Lincoln and Daniel Day-Lewis would don the top hat and beard to play the iconic 16th President. Now, according to LA Times Blog, Jones has joined the cast as abolitionist congressman Thaddeus Stevens and Gordon-Levitt is on board as Lincoln’s son. While The Conspirator focused on the aftermath of Lincoln’s assassination, Spielberg’s take will look at slavery from the view point of Lincoln and his political advisers. It now has one hell of a cast and no vampire hunting in sight.

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Leaves of Grass feels like a classical religious fable brought to modern day. It features the themes and tropes we’re all aware of: brotherhood, love, power, corruption, and murder. Being titled after a collection of Walt Whitman poems is more than suitable and the film wears its love for classical storytelling on its sleeve. The tone of Leaves of Grass is really what makes or breaks the film for most, which director Tim Blake Nelson acknowledges himself. The sense of manic and mood swings are all intentional, perfectly representing its characters and making for some unexpected turns. Here’s what director Tim Blake Nelson had to say about writing smart Southerners, the comedic sensibility of the film, and playing into classic archetypes and themes:

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In what sounds a bit like Chalk meets Dangerous Minds meets Half Nelson, newcomer Carl Lund’s script for Detached has an absurd amount of acting talent currently stapled to its cover sheet. “Mad Men” firecracker Christina Hendricks, Lucy Liu and William Peterson (who some remember from “C.S.I.” but no one seems to remember from Young Guns 2) have signed onto a cast that already includes Adrien Brody, James Caan, Blythe Danner, Marcia Gay Harden, Bryan Cranston, and Tim Blake Nelson. Doug E. Doug is also involved – in case you had any doubts left.

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Tim Blake Nelson and Edward Norton

During SXSW I sat in with 9 other online film journalists for a roundtable discussion with actor-producer Edward Norton and writer-director-actor-producer Tim Blake Nelson as they discussed their new film Leaves of Grass. We covered an array of topics, including Menander, Zionist Tulsa Jews, why Rounders is a comedy, and noodling with Keri Russell (not what you think).

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SXSW Film 2010

I had a chance to sit with director/actor Tim Blake Nelson for his film Leaves of Grass. After seeing the film, I was thoroughly impressed with the characters and the performances that elevated the story in a very genuine way.

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Leaves of Grass

We all know Edward Norton is talented, but probably the truest and scariest test for an actor’s talent is playing opposite himself, thus having to encounter the insecurities and limitations of one’s skill in both action and reaction. Few actors have done a great job acting opposite themselves, and it’s something that could potentially be fatal even with a strong actor giving two performances at the center, but with Leaves of Grass Edward Norton can be added to that short list of great double-performances in a single film.

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We are back from the weekend and ready to get re-focused on what is important, the major Austin-based film festival that seems to be steamrolling toward us. Today we take a look at another highly anticipated premiere, Tim Blake Nelson’s Leaves of Grass.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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