Tom Hanks

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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Over Under - Large

Though Steven Soderbergh has had a lengthy career full of acclaimed projects, he’s perhaps best known for his remake of Ocean’s 11, a successful compiling of some of the biggest names in Hollywood for a good, old-fashioned heist movie that was so successful it spawned two sequels. Despite the fact that he was better known for artier fare when Ocean’s Eleven was released, audiences responded well to this fairly simple robbery tale, and the slight modern spin that Soderbergh put on the film’s largely vintage aesthetic got pretty universal praise. If there are any filmmakers working today who have a heftier resume of acclaimed works than Steven Soderbergh, then they’re definitely named Joel and Ethan Coen. The Coen brothers have been making artsy, weird movies ever since the mid-80s, and though it’s taken them a while to achieve any real financial success, they’ve always enjoyed an ever-increasing amount of critical acclaim. That is, until they ventured into the romantic comedy and heist genres in 2003 and 2004 with Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers. These two films are widely regarded as the Coens’ worst work, and their only movies worst skipping. This feeling is erroneous, however, because The Ladykillers in particular is very Coens and very fun, and the world was wrong for vilifying them for making a simple heist movie with a throwback feel. I mean, nobody minded when Soderbergh did it.

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Saving Mr. Banks is a Kelly Marcel-penned Black List script that details the 14 years it took Walt Disney to convince author P.L. Travers to give him the movie rights to her Mary Poppins character. The result of the lengthy courtship was, of course, the Julie Andrews-starring 1964 Disney film Mary Poppins. That movie has made Disney a whole lot of money over the years, so it makes sense that they would be looking to produce any sort of acclaimed script that manages to cash in on Poppins’ mainstream name recognition; especially one that features their company’s founder, Walt Disney, as the main character. To that end, Disney has acquired Marvel’s script and hired The Blind Side helmer John Lee Hancock to direct. That’s all old news though. The new news about this project is that casting has started, and they’re looking at some pretty huge names to play Disney and Travers. According to Variety, Hancock and company are talking to none other than Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson to fill the roles. Just let that sink in for a moment — Tom Hanks may play Walt Disney in a movie about the making of Mary Poppins. Have you ever heard of anything that will make a more violent grab for the hearts and wallets of everyone’s parents and grandparents than that?

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Reel Sex

As we approach Valentine’s Day (yes, it’s just a few days away) I think it’s only fitting that the topic of romance come into play in anticipation of the day meant to celebrate all things feelings. I’m not sure about you, but I have actually never celebrated Valentine’s Day with a loved one not related to me. Instead I spend the day (or week) loading up on conversational hearts, Reese Peanut Butter cups, and a collection of melodramas so depressing I become skeptical that love can actually end in anything but death. Regardless of my tendency to eat my feelings while crying over the tragic love found in Douglas Sirk films, I do enjoy happy love stories and tend to pair the sadder movies with some of my must-have romances. In honor of the big V-Day, I’d like to share my favorite 14 romantic scenes and also open it up the floor to hear your suggestions as well. Here are my concluding seven romantic scenes to last week’s first half of this list. Bring out the smelling salts; you might need them after all these swoons.

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Over Under - Large

When thinking about which films I consider to be overrated, I keep coming back to two different categories. First there are the art films that get embraced by the movie geek community and praised to high heaven for their crafting, whether they really makes for an exceptional overall movie-going experience or not. And then there are the movies that get overrated by the mainstream. They’re mostly sentimental movies that tug on the heartstrings, with characters that hit low lows, but then achieve some new victory. Robert Zemeckis’ Forrest Gump is definitely the latter. It’s a movie that seems designed solely to make parents and grandparents nod knowingly at historical incidents they remember and then tear up when a sad part rolls around; but they love it for it. Being There was nominated for the Palme d’Or and even won Melvyn Douglas an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor back when it came out, but it’s a movie I never hear mentioned these days. As a matter of fact, other than the little bit of nostalgia that remains for Harold and Maude, I would say that Hal Ashby is a director whose career has been kind of forgotten by my generation of film fans. That’s a shame, because the man did some great work, and this film in particular has one of the last great performances by the legendary Peter Sellers.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr pulls out his screening schedule, which looks like a gambling addict’s racing form. He bounces from huge, mainstream releases to minor indie award contenders. Facing motion-capture CGI, tattooed bisexual investigators, cross-dressing waiters, silent film actors, and a lead star who is literally hung like a horse, Kevin tries to make sense of the seemingly countless releases this holiday week. Exhaustion from this process makes it impossible to buy a zoo or face the 3D end of the world, but his movie stocking is full, nonetheless.

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Remember those trailers for Stephen Daldry‘s adaptation of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close that we all cringed at? Well, how could you forget – they stick with you in a very off-putting way. Disappointingly, most of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close replicates that experience. Daldry’s a fine filmmaker, and with a script from Eric Roth – a writer who’s delivered his fair share of modern classics – one should expect more from their collaboration. What their combination delivered is a mostly stilted, heavy-handed, and, quite often, wrongly manipulative experience. I won’t dismiss the film as being “blatant Oscar bait,” seeing as it’s well-intentioned and earnest. Unfortunately, those intentions, in execution, feel false and empty. A real heart isn’t here to grab onto; only an artificial and cold one. The film constantly says how Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) affects all these people he meets, but it never shows it. There are little glimpses of the child interacting with people on his quest, and whatever his effect may be holds no weight. The only emotional beat that somehow works is between Horn and Jeffrey Wright, despite the scene leaving one with the thought of, “Well, how’s this going to impact Wright’s character?” Sure, he’s seeing the beauty of a child desperately trying to find an answer, but in the grand scheme of things, the effect will probably be as powerful as a nice Christmas card: makes you smile and maybe makes your day, but a few days later, you’re no different.

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Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman’s Playtone company has, along with help from Universal, optioned the next big Hanks-starring vehicle. This one will be an adaptation of a novel called “In the Garden of the Beasts” and will see Hanks traveling back in time to Nazi Germany to play U.S. ambassador William Dodd. Dodd, along with his socialite daughter Martha, were fully engrained in the upper crust of Berlin back in 1933, right when things were starting to get crazy there but before everybody knew just how crazy. Dodd and his family lived amongst the Nazis, with his daughter even having an affair with a Gestapo official, but eventually conflict arose when they started to become more and more aware of the violence and evil that was happening right under their noses. Couple of real detectives, those two. “In the Garden of the Beasts” was written by Erik Larson, who is also known for “The Devil and the White City,” which told the life story of Dr. H.H. Holmes, a Chicago serial killer who murdered a bunch of World’s Fair guests from out of town in a hotel that he had built to be a funhouse of torture and terror. That book has been optioned by Leonardo DiCaprio and his people, so, you know, Larson is building up quite the lucrative career of writing creepy books and then selling their film rights to huge movie stars. Good for him. It’s always nice to see a weirdo make good. I hope he […]

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While I am not entirely sure that fans of animation and puppets and joy and wonder and childhood dreams need yet another reason to check out The Muppets when it opens over Thanksgiving weekend, Disney and Pixar are not taking any chances, loading up the fleecy feel-good film of the holidays with an extra gift – a new Pixar short. But it’s not just any new Pixar short, it’s a Toy Story short. Small Fry returns us to a post-Toy Story 3 world, with (spoiler alert if for some horrific reason you’ve yet to see the third film, you cold-hearted bastard) all the toys happily living out a play-filled existence with wee lass Bonnie. Ever equal when it comes to said play time, Small Fry opens with Bonnie and her mom going on a fast food-outing, accompanied by both Buzz and Rex. But a tiny little tyrant capitalizes on some ball-room confusion, usurping Buzz’s place in Bonnie’s backpack and leaving ol’ Lightyear to fend for himself. Happy Meal toys will never look the same after you see Small Fry. Angus MacLane (who previously contributed to the Burn-E short) directs the film, which features voice work from Pixar director Teddy Newton as the bite-sized Buzz and Jane Lynch as newcomer Neptuna, along with the whole rest of the recognizable Toy Story gang, including Tim Allen, Tom Hanks, John Ratzenberger, and Joan Cusack. After the break, sate your appetite for delicious new Toy Story fare and check out larger versions of two new […]

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Full disclosure: I have not read Jonathan Safran Foer‘s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I read his Everything is Illuminated and it just wasn’t my bag, so it’s fair to say that a part of me has been dreading the latest film adaptation of one of his novels. Stephen Daldry‘s take on the material seems a bit pre-packaged for the proper type of awards season buzz, what with its heavy hitter cast (Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Viola Davis, and Jeffrey Wright), the vaguely stunt-y casting of its young lead (Thomas Horn, a non-actor who reportedly got the part after his win on Jeopardy!), and a Christmas Day release date. There’s also the very premise of the book. The plot centers around young Oskar Schell, a kid genius who loses his dad in the 9/11 attacks. After Oskar finds a key in his dad’s belongings, he sets out to find out the meaning behind the key. Of course, he discovers much more along the way. And while that all sounds sort of twee and innocent and sad, I had a feeling about how the material would be brought to the screen, a bad feeling that’s only aggravated by this first trailer for the film, which you can watch after the break.

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Over/Under is a weekly column in which we even the odds between two films that have, perhaps unfairly, developed very disparate legacies over the passing of time. This week finds us looking for inspiration in the realm of the romantic comedy. Or, more specifically, we’re looking at one of the best-regarded romantic comedies of the last couple decades in 1993’s Sleepless in Seattle, and one that’s oft forgotten and sometimes derided in 1990’s Joe Versus the Volcano.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It is a nightly film industry news column dedicated to hacking away with the precision of a drunkenly wielded axe at the world of entertainment news. It has lopped off a few heads in its day, so keep your eye on it. We begin tonight with an image from the special Fright Night event held at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin last night. In attendance were McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), Anton Yelchin and Dave Franco, who looks just a little bit less stoned than his brother James. They made people drink other people’s blood and whatnot. Photo by Jack Plunkett

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With the state of the American economy still far from what you might call flourishing, it’s only natural that films would continue to reflect that. While we may not be in the textbook definition of a recession, the job market still sucks. It is apparently with that in mind that Hollywood has deigned to give us Larry Crowne. Tom Hanks stars as the titular Larry Crowne. Larry is a happy, upbeat guy working as a team leader at a big box department store called Umart. He’s clearly a hard worker who likes his job and everyone seems to like him, so when he’s called to the back one day he assumes it’s because he’s won his 9th Employee of the Month certificate. To his shock, he learns that he’s being fired because he never completed college and thus will never advance farther than his current rung on the Umart corporate ladder.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr decides to dump Megan Fox and hook up with a sexy British model who will shake her ass in front of a 3D camera for Michael Bay. Sadly, he couldn’t make that happen, so he heads down to the scooter pool at the local community college, hoping to find a free-spirited chick with a name that’s impossible to pronounce. Again, no dice, Chicago. So, Kevin abandons all hope and hides in a theater for almost three hours, watching Michael Bay’s latest spectacle. Then he postpones seeing Larry Crowne so he can stalk teachers from the aforementioned community college, hoping one is as drunk and pretty as Julia Roberts is in her latest film. How could this possibly end badly?

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That Thing You Do! is the kind of movie only a man with a particular amount of clout can get made. An off-beat comedy about a fake rock band from the ’60s starring a bunch of unknowns and unfamiliar songs to boot? Maybe if it was a comic book first. But thank the powers that be for Tom Hanks and his odd sensibilities. He may be a two-time Oscar winner and an impassioned producer of WWII serialized dramas, but when it came to his directorial debut, the end product was something closer to his Bosom Buddies/The Man with One Red Shoe days. When That Thing You Do! hit theaters it bombed, barely making back its budget and putting Hanks’s directing career in question. Not even Tom Freakin’ Hanks could get his passion project to play with audiences. That very well could have been the end of the actor behind the camera. But lo and behold, a decade and a half later, Hanks returns this weekend with another oddball flick, Larry Crowne. Whether the new comedy (sporting plenty of familiar faces) can counter-program Transformers 3 and survive the competitive summer isn’t the point — we should be happy enough he made something. With Larry Crowne, Hanks has succeeded in doing what so few of his actor-turned-director friends have managed: to make a second movie. Here are a few thespians who took the plunge into filmmaking, only to return to their day jobs after one outing.

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After leaving the Bourne franchise behind, Paul Greengrass made Green Zone (which might as well have been called The Bourne Historical Rewrite) and has been attempting to get his Martin Luther King, Jr film Memphis off the ground with Scott Rudin. As it turns out, Rudin may have something different in mind. According to Deadline Mogadishu, Greengrass has been offered the directing job for the Somali pirate movie based on Richard Phillips’s memoir “A Captain’s Duty.” The book chronicles his experience as the skipper of the Maersk Alabama, which was taken by Somali pirates. Phillips was held hostage before being rescued by Navy SEALs. Tom Hanks has signed on to star. This project has been percolating at the script phase for a year and a half, and there’s an honest question about whether the subject matter is all that compelling. At the very least, it’ll be culturally fascinating to see a boom in Navy SEAL movies coming out all around the same time, and Christmas Entertainment also has a Somali pirate movie called Dawn on the Gulf of Aden in development. Otherwise, the main question is how much shakier Greengrass’s camera would be on the open ocean.

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Few modern war movies exemplify the courage of a fighting force quite like Saving Private Ryan. Steven Spielberg deftly drew out performances from a varied cast of veterans and newcomers, and he even had a few tricks up his sleeve. For one, all of the actors went through military training except for Matt Damon so the cast would be bitter toward him. A more technical trick was attached drills to the sides of the cameras in order to make them shake the way he wanted them to. It wasn’t until they started shooting that Spielberg was informed that there were lenses that would create the effect (and that he didn’t invent some crazy new technology).

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Since it’s Saturday and the likelihood of us finding a lot of news to write about is slim, I’d like to present you with a clip that will assuredly make you grin. If it doesn’t make you grin, you may want to have yourself checked. Sitting down to watch Big last night — because there’s no better background movie while you are working and cleaning a wrecked Reject HQ — I was reminded that the F.A.O Schwartz piano scene is one of cinema’s great moments of pure joy. There’s no pretense, no forced sense of fun and it fits neatly into the film’s tone of childlike wonder. As Robin explained when she wrote a Movies We Love piece about it some weeks back, it’s scenes like this that make Big one of the most rewatchable movies of all-time. This particular moment is a personal favorite of mine, and a scene that will undoubtedly brighten up your day. Check it out after the jump.

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The Wachowskis made news when they signed one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, Tom Hanks, for their next feature Cloud Atlas. Hanks is kind of a brand name in the moviemaking business, and has been for quite a number of years now; so he’s not really known for taking chances. The Wachowskis, on the other hand, are pretty much known exclusively for taking chances. Everything they have done so far has been weird, experimental, and up in its own head. The other name involved in the development of this project, Tom Tykwer, is pretty off the wall as well. He’s the guy who made Run Lola Run. And the source material for this new film, a David Mitchell novel also named “Cloud Atlas,” is no exception. It tells six different stories, each taking place in different times and places, but involving characters who are recognized as being the same people, or reincarnations of each other, or something. Basically what I’m driving at is that everyone signing on to this film will have to take on multiple roles, so if the Wachowskis want to pull this off, they’re going to have to get some great actors. Thankfully, so far they have. In addition to having Hanks in the lead role, Cloud Atlas continues to add an impressive list of accomplished actors in supporting positions. Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, and Ben Whishaw had already been announced for key roles, and now when presenting the film to potential buyers and […]

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“Cloud Atlas” is a novel written by David Mitchell that sounds pretty complex and pretty cool. Kind of like The Fountain squared. The New Yorker describes the book by saying, “Mitchell’s virtuosic novel presents six narratives that evoke an array of genres, from Melvillean high-seas drama to California noir and dystopian fantasy. There is a naïve clerk on a nineteenth-century Polynesian voyage; an aspiring composer who insinuates himself into the home of a syphilitic genius; a journalist investigating a nuclear plant; a publisher with a dangerous best seller on his hands; and a cloned human being created for slave labor. These five stories are bisected and arranged around a sixth, the oral history of a post-apocalyptic island, which forms the heart of the novel.” Apparently each of the stories is read by a character from another, and some of them may be reincarnations of each other, and it all sounds complex and heady and exactly like the sort of thing that would catch the eyes of the Wachowski brothers siblings. And it has, because a while back they bought the adaptation rights and they’ve been developing the film alongside Run Lola Run director Tom Tykwer. Actors like James McAvoy and Halle Berry have been rumored to be involved with the project at various points, but now comes the first time that an actor has become officially attached. And that actor is Tom Hanks. Seeing as the movie sounds like it is going to be super complex and involve tons of […]

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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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published: 12.12.2014
D+


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