Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks as Walt Disney

Everyone knows Mary Poppins, but it’s unlikely that everyone knows the story of its long and bumpy road into production. It seems Disney plans to rectify that with Saving Mr. Banks, the upcoming drama that stars Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as ‘Mary Poppins’ author P.L. Travers. Walt Disney tried to adapt ‘Mary Poppins’ for the screen as early as 1938, but it took more than twenty years for its reluctant author to finally relent. The film follows Disney’s journey in obtaining the rights and bringing Mary Poppins to life (with lots of resistance from Travers in both cases), as well as a look back into Travers’ childhood.

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Tom Hanks as Walt Disney

TIME has debuted the first official image from Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks, an upcoming live action film starring Emma Thompson and America’s Dad, Tom Hanks. Hanks steps into Walt Disney’s shoes (because seriously, who else would play Disney?) to tell the surprisingly complicated story about getting Mary Poppins made.

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Sleepless in Seattle

While we’ve spent the past couple of weeks “celebrating” the birthdays of films with dubious honor (though if you are a genuine fan of stuff like From Justin to Kelly and Dumb and Dumberer, that’s cool and we respect your dedication to using less traditional means of tastemaking to pick your faves), it’s important to remember that there are still plenty of good movies with looming anniversaries that are worth actually honoring. You’d like an example now, right? How about the late, great Nora Ephron’s Sleepless in Seattle, which turns twenty years old today? (Also, yes, we’re all really old right now.) The film was the second on-screen pairing of stars Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan (their first was 1990’s Joe Versus the Volcano, a wonderfully weird rom-com if there ever was one) and their first outing with Ephron (she’d direct them five years later in their last pairing, You’ve Got Mail). It has the sort of dated plotline that sounded weird even when it was released in 1993 – really, what sort of people were still calling into sadsack telephone chat shows? – but its primary inspiration, drawn from 1957’s An Affair to Remember, is oddly timeless. As a story about other people, Sleepless in Seattle is inherently romantic and infinitely watchable, though it’s the type of thing that, if it happened in “real life,” would sound weird and basically hopeless. Ah, hopelessness, the true currency of all romantic comedies.

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bullock

What is Casting Couch? It’s the place actors go to try to get jobs, and it’s the place you can go to find out who got which jobs in which movie. Today we’ve got word that Chris Tucker is set to make his triumphant return to leading man status. Every good orphan story needs a mean old jerk who makes the orphans’ lives miserable, and it’s starting to look like producers Will Smith and Jay Z have found theirs for the Quvenzhane Wallis-starring update of Annie they’re putting together. Sandra Bullock had already been in talks to play Miss Hannigan, the cruel lady who runs the orphanage Annie lives in, back in March, but things fell apart at the time. THR is reporting that things are now back on, however, as talks with Bullock have recommenced, and one would tend to think that the only reason that would be the case is if the fundamental thing that was tripping them up last time had changed. Get ready to see Sandra’s scowl.

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big scenes we love

Tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of Big, the movie that boosted Tom Hanks from being just a funny leading man to an Oscar-worthy movie star. It’s also the comedy that put filmmaker Gary Ross on the map as he too earned an Academy Award nomination for this, his first feature script (co-written by Steven Spielberg’s sister, Anne). Directed by Penny Marshall, it was a word of mouth kind of hit, having opened in second place behind Crocodile Dundee II in its second week then going on to become the fourth highest grossing movie of 1988. For those of us around the same age as Josh Haskins (David Moscow/Hanks) at the time, it was a thought-provoking What If? situation even if most of us found a lot of the scenarios and behavior to be well-below the character’s maturity level. The tricky thing about Big in terms of highlighting its best moments is that it’s really only good as a whole, the sum of its parts. Yes, there are a lot of memorable scenes, but without the context of the, um, big picture, a lot of them are pretty silly or the comedy just falls flat (maybe this is why it’s so hard to find embeddable clips online). Still, I loved Big then and I love it now, albeit more so today as something to prod and study in terms of the fantasy scenario and how much of the humor seems so unremarkable in today’s regular manboy world. We can’t be sure […]

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trailer captain phillips

Pirates have made a big comeback in recent years thanks to the lawless activities happening off the coast of Somalia, but while we hear of multiple hijackings and kidnappings from the region they rarely involve American citizens. One of the exceptions though occurred in 2009 when the American cargo ship MV Maersk Alabama was attacked and boarded by pirates. Paul Greengrass is bringing the story to the big screen as his first film since 2010’s Green Zone, and the first trailer promises a thrilling real-life drama happily free of politics. Having Tom Hanks in your title role never hurts either. Check out the first trailer for Captain Phillips below.

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Once upon a time, Michael Gates Gill’s memoir, “How Starbucks Saved My Life,” was optioned by Universal to become a film that would be directed by Gus Van Sant and would star Tom Hanks. Chances are, that would have been awesome. It didn’t end up happening though, so get it out of your head now. It’s done. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Deadline has gotten word that The Weinstein Company has just swooped in and gobbled up the rights to the book, which will likely give it a second shot at becoming a film. For those of you not familiar with Gill’s story, you’re probably wondering how exactly Starbucks (yes, we’re talking about the coffee chain here) could have saved someone’s life. It certainly wasn’t through the quality of their over-roasted beans—am I right, hipsters? Ahem. Anyway, “How Starbucks Saved My Life” makes more sense if you hear its full title, “How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else.” It’s Gill’s account of how falling on hard times and actually having to get a job and work for a living gave him a new perspective and generally saved him from a life of behaving like an entitled goon. Suddenly he has to answer to someone who is younger than him, has darker skin, and is equipped with lady parts, he has to actually do manual labor in order to receive a paycheck, and once he gets said check he […]

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The Best Damn Oscar Blog

If you can find a review of Cloud Atlas that doesn’t use the word “ambition,” I will give you a quarter. Everyone is talking about the sheer grandiosity of the project, an adaptation of a book that has been called “unfilmable.” More than simply the most obvious talking point, the movie’s vast scope is also a major point of division between critics. Those that love it seem to praise its ambition most of all, while its detractors claim that the Wachowski Starship and Tom Tykwer bit off far more than they could chew. I would argue for the latter, that while there are many excellent individual moments spread across Cloud Atlas’s six stories, the larger endeavor often gets bogged down in its own scope. However, that might mean nothing at all for its Oscar chances. Cloud Atlas is a great example of a group we might call “lesser epics.” These films tell broad, temporally extensive narratives that take up many years, distant locales, and well over two hours of screen time. They are often period pieces with meticulous detailing, gorgeous landscapes, and the occasional stunning special effects. Yet for whatever reason they don’t come quite come together in the end and they rarely make much money. At the end of the day, however, their ambition is often deemed enough on its own to garner a smattering of Oscar nominations. Cloud Atlas is nothing if not ambitious, but is that enough to impress the Academy?

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What is Casting Couch? It’s where Hollywood moms come every day to find out if their actor kids have gotten a job. Remember that movie about the day JFK got shot that Tom Hanks was putting together because these days he’s such a history loving, lame dad? It’s called Parkland, and it just put together an awesome cast. According to Collider, director Vincent Bugliosi has signed the terrific trio of Paul Giamatti, Jackie Weaver, and Billy Boy Thornton to headline the cast. There’s no word on what characters they’ll be playing, but my guess is Giamatti will be JFK, Thornton will be Jackie O, and Weaver will be Lee Harvey Oswald. Makes sense, no?

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Cloud Atlas Review

Editor’s note: Cloud Atlas finally arrives in theaters today, so please dive deep into it with this review, first published as part of our Fantastic Fest coverage on October 3, 2012. It starts with an old, scarred, and obviously hard-lived man sitting near a campfire speaking to the audience, and it ends with the same scarred old man concluding his story at that same campfire talking to a group of children about past adventures. As the credits start to roll, it evokes a nostalgia that you may have just sat through the kind of immersive and imaginative tale that you wish you could recall all the details to tell it to your children exactly as it was told to you. All that was missing was a stick and a bag of marshmallows. In between these comforting bookends is a story that transcends time, tonal cohesiveness, or convention of almost any kind. Cloud Atlas an elaborate, beautiful, and ever-growing spiderweb of human causality and inter-connectivity that’s woven together by themes that support an idea that we are never unbound from one another or a purpose. Your life is not necessarily your own as you are tied to others in your time, others who came before you, and those who will come long after. What you do is what will define you and will determine the living conditions of those who follow. What you do may seem insignificant, or irrelevant to the plan at large, but most everything matters – and if […]

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The most interesting thing about this excellent behind-the-scenes look is that it’s focal point is David Mitchell, the author of the novel that The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer fell in love with so deeply that they had to make an insanely risky movie version. He becomes the entry point into a process that, typically, can seem alien to novelists. His glee at watching his story burst off the page is contagious here. Cloud Atlas is in theaters today, and the consensus seems to be that whether you feel the full force of its impact or end up hating it, the film itself is to be celebrated for trying some large and new. Adam certainly loved it, and now TIME has made “Bringing Cloud Atlas to Life: The Actors, The Filmmakers and David Mitchell Discuss the Film,” a fantastic companion to the movie which takes us from green screens to sandy beaches and beyond while Mitchell and the directors unpack the process (which apparently was a lot like playing with LEGOs). At the very least, you won’t be able to get Tom Hanks saying, “This is a violation!” out of your head all day.

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Cloud Atlas releases this month

This September wasn’t a bad way to get out of a summer slump. If any of you were disappointed by this past summer’s films, last month should have picked up your spirits. You were either in awe or disappointment over Paul Thomas Anderon‘s The Master, but whatever camp you fall into, at least you more than likely had thoughts about it. Rian Johnson‘s Looper completely lived up to the hype, wonky time travel logic and all. And we got Dredd 3D and End of Watch, two B-movies which exceeded expectations. Not a bad way to start a new season. There are plenty of offerings for every taste this October including one with a bug-eyed, jacked up, and horrifying Matthew Fox who apparently will be taken down by Tyler Perry. Keep reading for a glimpse at seven other movies you should run and skip to the theaters for.

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Film, like any art at its core, can be like philosophy in its pursuit of things not easily quantified. With Cloud Atlas it’s easy to say that Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer came together to make a film which spans time periods and geographical locations (some as far away as the edge of the galaxy) to show that as tiny as each of our lives are, they are still interconnected threads that shape things to come. Cloud Atlas is the definition of epic. In the beginning, we see Timothy Cavendish (Jim Broadbent) at a typewriter, narrating his work saying, “I know that you’re tired of flashbacks and flash forwards. However,…” in a playfully pleasant way of apologizing for its misgivings. Then, the sprawling, era and personality-jumping film opens up to grow into something massive and wonderful. Don’t worry about the flashbacks, Mr. Cavendish.

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Garden of Beasts

According to Deadline Hollywood, Tom Hanks and Michel Hazanavicius plan to meet soon to compare their Oscars, for Hanks to endearingly joke about having more than one, and to discuss possibly collaborating on In the Garden of Beasts. Adapted from the Erik Larson book of the same name, the project would focus on the real-world story of William Dodd – America’s ambassador to Hitler-controlled Germany – who was present in the lead up to WWII. There’s also a possibility of Natalie Portman getting involved, playing Dodd’s daughter who revels in Berlin life. More than anything, it sounds like a frustration play. Dodd sent back Cassandra-like memos to the state department about growing violence aimed at Jewish citizens which went largely ignored. Just think of it. You’re a welcomed diplomat living in the heart of darkness, witnessing the growing madness of Hitler’s Holocaust, but no one back home wants to listen to your theories. It’s infuriating subject matter that could make for a thrilling drama, especially with the gold-plated talent involved. Currently, it’s set up at Universal, but it needs a writer (and a script for that matter), so it could still be far off on the horizon. Fortunately, Hazanavicius is re-teaming with Berenice Bejo for a Chechnya-set drama about an NGO worker helping a lost little boy find his family as a follow-up to The Artist and The Players. Hanks, on the other hand, is busy taking awesome pictures with fans and playing Walt Disney, so there’s plenty of both filmmakers to keep […]

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All evening I was prepared for the snarkily apathetic responses to a certain film holding its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival Saturday night. Sadly, there was no Tweet expressing, “Cloud Atlas … shrug.” But there were indeed some claims of “meh” and “okay,” though perhaps not as many as there were declaring the ambitious effort either a monumental masterpiece or an epic failure. The film, which is based on the David Mitchell novel and adapted and directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, seems to be this year’s Inception or Tree of Life, as it parts the waves of criticism more distinctly than even the current American political divide. And, hey, Cloud Atlas actually sounds rather relevant to the presidential election with its apparent themes of history repeating itself and debate over change. The funny thing about a movie like Cloud Atlas is that the negative reviews seem to be more marketable than the positive. Those who say it’s a narrative mess still tell us to see the film for ourselves, if only because it’s still a marvel of cinema. And critics with the highest praise cut their own exaltations down by stating that a lot of moviegoers are going to hate it, whether because they won’t have the patience or they just won’t get it.

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Tom Hanks Headshot

Though he’s best known as an actor, Tom Hanks is a man who contains multitudes, and also has many other hobbies. When he’s not thinking about the moon or studying the great wars, sometimes he produces movies. Heck, he’s even got his own company, Playtone, that’s set up to help him do just that. A since we know what a sucker the man is for 60s history, it should come as no surprise that Variety is reporting Hanks and his Playtone partner, Gary Goetzman, are putting together a new movie that chronicles the day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated. From writer/director Peter Landesman, Parkland is set to be an ensemble film that studies the events of the day of Kennedy’s tragic death from multiple angles. Included in its cast of characters is said to be Kennedy’s wife, an FBI agent, a young doctor, a reporter, multiple members of the Secret Service and Kennedy’s staff, Lee Harvey Oswald’s older brother, and an infamous clothing manufacturer with a camera named Abraham Zapruder. Sounds like we’re going to be reporting on the casting of this thing for months.

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The novels of David Mitchell are densely layered affairs concerned with a complicated multitude of characters facing big and complex issues. Or so I hear. His novel Cloud Atlas is a favorite of many, but even those who would love to see a film version have been adamant that such an endeavor would be a foolish and fruitless undertaking. That opinion didn’t change when Tom Tykwer and Andy & Lana Wachowski announced they had written a screenplay and were looking for funding and distribution. It wavered slightly when the casting announcements started rolling in, but it otherwise stayed steadfast. But now the first official trailer has dropped, and while the possibility of a disaster remains it looks like these three writer/directors have accomplished something amazing. Will it live up to the novel? Who knows, but there’s no doubting anymore that they’ve accomplished something audacious and wonderful here. Check out the extended trailer below (courtesy of Cinema Blend).

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Even when it just had a director and two principal actors in place, Disney’s upcoming Saving Mr. Banks already seemed like it was the perfect storm of mainstream appeal. Take director John Lee Hancock, who made mountains of money and received boatloads of acclaim for his sugary sweet The Blind Side, give him two of the most universally loved actors working in Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, and put them to work on subject matter involving one of the biggest legends in entertainment history, Walt Disney, and one of the most enduring children’s stories of all time, “Mary Poppins,” and you have to imagine this film’s potential for box office dollars and warmed hearts is unprecedented. It turns out Saving Mr. Banks isn’t just content to get our attention and then sit back and coast on a winning formula though. Variety has a new report that a trio of actors have just signed on to the film in supporting roles, and they’re three of the best supporting players studio dollars can buy. Joining Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers will be Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, and Ruth Wilson.

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A League of Their Own

There have been times in my life when I’ve been invited to things. I usually end up having to work or sleep or do something far less interesting, but I’ve been known, from time to time, to make my presence known at a holiday gathering or two. One particular holiday of which I’ve long been a fan is the fourth of July. From fireworks on the National Mall to suburban block parties to back yard BBQs that end with various limbs in danger (thanks to the backyard BBQ’s constant cohort, the backyard fireworks display), I’ve never been one to shy from a few cold ones and grilled meat in celebration of this wonderful nation. It’s for the troops, for the American dream and for future generations that I imbibe. And because it’s a good time, of course. Another great Fourth of July tradition is that of getting out of the heat, before the fireworks start, and seeing a movie in a nice air conditioned theater, be it the multiplex or the couchiplex. Nothing says America like some good old fashioned Hollywood commerce. Which brings us to this week’s Pop Quiz question: what is your go-to Fourth of July movie? 

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For more than fifteen years, Pixar has represented the gold standard in computer generated films. Since the studio’s early days of making groundbreaking short films to producing Oscar-winning feature-length movies, Pixar has become a brand associated with quality animation and adorable characters. There have been some bumps along the road, from a love-hate-owner relationship with Disney to some questionable sequels, but few studios can boast such a consistent level of quality and innovation. This week, Pixar will be releasing its 13th full-length feature, Brave, with an entire new cast of characters different from any other Pixar film. This gives us a chance to look into Pixar’s past and remember some of the favorite characters from their films.

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published: 10.30.2014
B-
published: 10.29.2014
D+
published: 10.27.2014
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published: 10.24.2014
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