Toby Jones

Berberian-Sound-Studio

Italian giallo films have made something of a quiet comeback recently. Restored blu-rays of Dario Argento and Mario Bava’s films are inviting renewed considerations of the genre outside the canonized Suspiria, and Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s Amer presented a dedicated contemporary revisitation of the genre. Now consider British writer-director’s Peter Strickland’s sophomore feature Berberian Sound Studio, a densely atmospheric and wonderfully bizarre journey into the increasingly fevered mind of a sound effects engineer of an Italian horror (but don’t call it horror!) film in which is the film itself is never actually seen, but only heard.

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berberian

It might sound kind of weird to try to set a thriller in a sound design studio, what with their being the domain of nodes, dials, tech geeks, and whatnot, but that’s exactly what writer/director Peter Strickland has done with his new thriller Berberian Sound Studio, and various FSR reviewers seem to be in agreement that the results of this experiment are gorgeous and intriguing, if not a little bit befuddling and empty. The consensus seems to be that it’s a solid B-. If you want to catch a glimpse of what everyone is so interested in and confused by, as well as a taste of Toby Jones being innocuously creepy like only he can, and some insight into how they make all those gross wet noises for slasher movies, then follow the link and watch the film’s new trailer below.

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Toby Jones in Captain America

What is Casting Couch? Currently its a column that reports on casting news, but it’s thinking about getting into directing. The last time we saw Toby Jones’ Captain America character, Dr. Arnim Zola, he was in captivity and giving up the goods on all of his boss, the Red Skull’s, super-secret plans. Fans of the comics know that Zola isn’t just some anonymous patsy who’s going to fade into the background, however. Mad scientists don’t go out like that. Instead, Zola has his mind put into a weird robot body that projects his face on his tummy and he continues to give Cap problems down through the ages. That’s in the comics. But now we’ve gotten some indication that we might be seeing some of this stuff play out in the upcoming Captain America movies as well. When giving an interview to Hey U Guys, Jones confirmed that he will indeed be returning for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, though whether it will just be through flashbacks to the 40s or if we’re going to see him as his present-day tummy robot isn’t yet clear. You gotta root for tummy robot though, right?

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Cate Blanchett

What is Casting Couch? It’s a round-up of Hollywood casting news, not one of those porn videos where a 19-year-old gets exploited in a grimy-looking office. Move along, perv. Now that we’ve got all of those live action Snow White movies out of the way, it makes sense that we would move down the fairy tale lineup and start seeing a rash of new Cinderella projects popping up. And, if Disney has their way, their Mark Romanek-directed Cinderella script from The Devil Wears Prada scribe Aline Brosh McKenna will be the hit that starts the trend. They’re trying to get casting for the film off on the right foot with the acquisition of a big name, as Deadline reports that the House of Mouse is in serious negotiations with Cate Blanchett to come on board to play a character called Lady Tremaine, known in some circles as the wicked stepmother. Given her experience playing a creepy elf in the Lord of the Rings movies, this seems like something of a perfect fit.

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There are many aspects to making a film – the actors, the script, the director, the music – but there is another aspect many people forget about: the sound mix. The process of combining an actor’s dialogue and the music with the ambient noises and sound effects is an art in its own right, but when doing so for a film filled with murders and hauntings, this process becomes all the more compelling and off-putting. The Berberian Sound Studio is located in Italy, and English sound engineer Gilderoy (Toby Jones) makes the trip to help create the mix for a pulp film from the eccentric director, Santini (Antonio Mancino). On the surface, a man coming to a new country may seem like a story about learning from different cultures and their various creative personalities, but the narrative takes a decidedly sinister turn when the sounds Gilderoy is creating for the film seem to follow him from his recording sessions into his actual life.

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Berberian Sound Studio

The moment that the closing credits started to roll for Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio I looked to my right to tell my colleague that I don’t think I’d ever sat through a horror picture and felt absolutely nothing. Not until then, anyway. I think my heart pumped more in saying that sentence than it did at any moment watching the picture. I don’t know if that was the intention of the movie. I also don’t know if it was intended for the movie to be considered a horror movie. It’s a movie about the making of an Italian giallo film, but it more closely resembles a Lynchian psychological thriller. Only without the thrill part.

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Toby Jones and Sienna Miller in The Girl

The girl in The Girl  is Tippi Hedren as played by Sienna Miller, and the first teaser trailer for the HBO Films project which premieres on October 20th uses a familiar rhyme scheme in order to haunt. Of course, it helps that the limerick is spoken by Toby Jones deep-voicing his way through Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic drawl. It’s a goose bump machine which hints at Hitch as the villain. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see a real-life story told with a bit of melodrama and framed in the same genre that Hitchcock worked best in. Hedren, like the young girl in the limerick, sounds like she’s knowingly in for some psychological torture, and anyone who knows the history of the production (or Hedren’s views on Hitchcock following it) are probably going to see hell by way of a movie set. Check the teaser trailer out for yourself:

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column about movies and other interesting things currently being written by someone who is far more enthralled with Olympic gymnastics. He also watches beach volleyball, because why not? We begin this evening’s somewhat slim edition of News After Dark with the first look at Toby Jones as Alfred Hitchcock and Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedren in The Girl, HBO’s look at the storied relationship between the director and his one-time muse.

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Editor’s note: Red Lights hits limited release this Friday, so please take this re-run of our Sundance review (originally posted on January 23, 2012) as a green light to give it a read. Rodrigo Cortés returns to Sundance after 2010′s Buried with another film about confinement and restriction – but one that turns those attentions to the human mind and its limits, instead of the body and its own absolutes. In Red Lights, Cortés sets his sights on the world of paranormal investigations, but in a way wholly different than we’ve come to expect from horror flicks that mine similar territory. Red Lights centers on Drs. Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and Buckley (Cillian Murphy), who work to disprove paranormal activity. The pair split their time between teaching at a university (to packs of eager students) and traveling to presumed paranormal occurrences (to debunk them). Both Matheson and Buckley maintain that they’ve never seen true paranormal activity that cannot be explained in one way or another (most often due to simple lies and farce), but they’re about to be challenged by an old foe of Matheson’s who appears to break all the boundaries the pair set. Simon Silver (Robert De Niro) was once a famous blind psychic, who retired amidst whispers of behavior that led to the death of his greatest critic – and now, he’s returned.

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Red Lights is a film filled with divisive questions. After the film’s Sundance premiere, many were either wrapping their heads around the grounded supernatural thriller’s final moments or completely scoffing at it. Whether one’s reaction is good or bad towards the questions writer/director Rodrigo Cortés is posing, he still gets a reaction out of you, as shown by the film’s early reviews. For most of its running time, Cortés is not afraid of playing with audience’s expectations and perceptions of the events as they play out on screen. Unlike his previous film, Buried, most of Red Lights can’t be taken literally. The difference between ambiguity and having no answers for your film’s questions can get blurred easily, but, as Cortés told us, he wrote and crafted the film with all of his own answers in mind. Here’s what Rodrigo Cortés had to say about the story’s exploration of duality, his flawed protagonists, and how to question everything we see in Red Lights:

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Back in 2010, Spanish director Rodrigo Cortés got the attention of U.S. audiences by putting Ryan Reynolds in a box for Buried. Now he’s back with an ensemble number that looks at the world of celebrity psychics. The first trailer for Red Lights doesn’t let us in on the secret of whether psychic powers really exist in its world or not, but it raises the question. And what it does reveal to us along the way is that it has an impressive cast that makes it look more than worth checking out. If you want to know more about the film, you can also check out Kate’s review from Sundance – or just check out the trailer below.

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Snow White and the Huntsman Banner Preview

Has a titular character for a tentpole film ever been muted in their own previews? That seems to be the case for Universal Pictures’ flashy-looking Snow White and the Huntsman, which so far seems hellbent on not letting its lead, played by Kristen Stewart, utter a single word in the previews. It’s probably wise to let Charlize Theron do all the talking, but how do you not give Snow White at least one line? Even Chris Hemsworth gets to open his mouth and yell in slow motion once again, Thor-style. Stewart is only given the exciting task of gazing off and acting lost. This is only a 60 second preview and I’m sure we’ll see Stewart say something before the film comes out, but after two previews with zero dialogue, it’s starting to get a bit comical. Check it out after the break.

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As I wrote in both my review and interview with Gary Oldman and Tomas Alfredson, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is not one’s average spy thriller. The espionage lifestyle we see here is cold, lonely, and harsh. Perhaps the character who represents that the finest is Jim Prideaux, played by Mark Strong. Prideaux, like every other character in the film, descends to worse and worse places, emotionally and mentally, as things progress. The character’s as lonely as can be, and Strong conveys that with every somber and sad look on his face. It’s an interesting contrast to another one of Strong’s performances from this year as Clive in The Guard. A lot of actors discuss how they love variety and go for it — and most genuinely mean it — but Strong seems to be one of the prime examples of someone doing it right. A sympathetic villain, an alien superhero, and an isolated spy make up an eclectic bunch of characters. Here’s what Mark Strong had to say about the catharsis of press, the divisiveness of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and the comfortable amount of takes:

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Tomas Alfredson hasn’t made your typical spy thriller. Not only is that due to the lack of explosions, a fast pace, shootouts, or any other convention the genre tends to call for, but because Alfredson hasn’t really made a “thriller.” Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, in actuality, is a dark ensemble love story about lonely spies. The best character who represents everything the film says is Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong). At first, Jim, a towering field operative, is played with a quiet intensity. He’s calculating and observant like the rest of his spy brethren, but once stripped down of his serious spy mode and once revealed at his most vulnerable, Jim’s an emotionally and psychologically tortured guy. The world of espionage is a vicious place, so says the film. At one point, for great reasons I won’t spoil, Jim ends up going from pivotal spy missions to teaching school children in an instant. For one, how emasculating and damaging that must be. The character goes from a life of importance and violence, and then goes off to teach children. The system chewed him up and spat him out like he was nothing.

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The Adventures of Tintin had always been a bit of a sure thing. With Steven Spielberg behind a camera he can put wherever the hell he wants, which he does indeed do, while adapting adventurous source material that couldn’t be more up in his wheelhouse, what could go wrong? Plus, he’s got a script from a dream team of writers — Joe Cornish, Edgar Wright, and Steven Moffat – and with Peter Jackson producing. I say it again, what could go wrong? As expected, not much. This is the high flying, energetic, and playful action film that we all hope and expect from Spielberg. As nearly everyone will unanimously point out, this is what we all wanted from Indy 4. This is Spielberg at his most indulgent, and it’s fantastic seeing him working at such a level. Spielberg embraces motion-capture in a wondrous way, and he pushes every gizmo and tool he’s got to its fullest extent. If anyone oddly questioned why Tintin was done in mo-cap — besides how silly Tintin’s hair would look live-action and the logistics of having Snowy doing crazy stunts — you’ll shut up after seeing the magic on display here.

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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy comes to us thanks to Tomas Alfredson, who is best known to horror freaks as the director of the original Let the Right One In, which is nervy and terrifying and better than just about any other vampire film made, oh, well, pretty much ever. Now it looks as if Alfredson is trying to do for the spy genre what he did for the vampire genre – basically, make it exciting and interesting again. The loverly Rob Hunter showed us the first trailer for the film back in June, and I proceeded to slobber all over it like I’d never seen a piece of movie marketing before. The film features an all-star cast packed with badasses, including Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciaran Hinds, Mark Strong, Toby Jones, John Hurt, and Stephen Graham. It’s essentially as if every single actor you’ve ever wanted to see in a spy flick got together and made that spy flick, but made it much more clever than you would have been able to craft on your own.

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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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Doctor Who Amy

When we talk about The Doctor, we’re usually talking about the tawdry quirks and a personality that exists on the exterior. That’s one of the things we love about Doctor Who, it’s a decades-old tale built around a character who, even after said decades of narrative, remains a mysterious intergalactic gunslinger with excellent taste in suits. But with “Amy’s Choice” we are seeing something new.

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Marvel Studios is in talks with Toby Jones (Infamous) to star as one of the secondary villains in the upcoming Captain America: The First Avenger (or whatever they are calling it these days).

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Warner Bros. wants he iconic actor to face the true-life events of a priest in exorcism school. Yes, they exist.

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