The end of any calendar year is traditionally marked by a glut of biopics, the kind of true-life tales that frequently pack an emotional wallop, particularly the “inspirational” kind. It’s easy to feel compelled to action — some action! any action! — after sitting in a theater for two-plus hours, having your heart broken by a story that’s both cinematically rich and personally touching, but it’s far harder to turn that into actual movement. Let’s put it this way: when was the last time you walked out of a movie theater and felt like you’d had the crap kicked out of you? If you’re keeping up with 2014’s staggering rash (not that kind of rash, unless you’ve been tempted to imitate Wild) of dramatically upsetting biopics, it was probably mere days ago. But how can you fix that movie-sized hole in your heart after watching genuine human beings go through terrible, terrible things on the big screen, purely for your entertainment? What if you’re too busy feeling sad about said biopics to get your holiday shop on? Open up your pocketbooks, buddy, ’tis the season!


Unbroken Movie

First of all, Angelina Jolie‘s Unbroken looks like a breakout moment for Jack O’Connell, regardless of how the movie itself does overall. He stars as the real-life Louis Zamperini, who did more in his lifetime than we could do in five. Long distance Olympic athlete who met Hitler, WWII POW survivor, inspirational speaker, Zamerini had a hell of a biography before passing away July 2nd of this year. Now, his story will be secured in cinema with O’Connell at the forefront of what looks like a whirlwind performance. Second of all, my fingers are crossed tight enough to break off circulation, hoping this movie isn’t even one tenth of how schmaltzy a slab of forced inspiration the trailer makes it out to be.


Angelina Jolie and Louis Zamperini

Louis Zamperini lived just about one of the craziest lives imaginable. A first-generation American, he went from being a young punk who grew up during the Depression and was the scourge of local law enforcement, to being an Olympian who ran in the Berlin Olympics and got a personal meet-and-greet with Hitler, to being a bombardier who fought against Axis forces in the second World War, to surviving on a life raft in the Pacific Ocean for 47 days while eating raw fish and drinking rain water, to being held in a Japanese POW camp, to eventually being a married man and motivational speaker. It’s the sort of story that Hollywood loves to turn into movies. But, due to all of the inherent drama in the subject matter and the delicacy with which it needs to be handled, it’s also the sort of movie that Hollywood tends to turn into sappy melodramas. So, seeing as Zamperini’s upcoming biopic, Unbroken, is being put together by Angelina Jolie, who’s only had one previous go-around at being a director (In the Land of Blood and Honey), sappiness is certainly a concern. There are a couple of indications that Jolie and company are going to get the execution right on this one though, and now that the film aired a teaser during the Olympics, we’ve all got a much better idea of what to expect. Click through to check it out.



This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. Brad Furman‘s latest movie, Runner Runner, has been getting terrible reviews. Like really, really terrible. I think we at FSR even just avoided it entirely. That’s a shame because his first two narrative features, The Take and The Lincoln Lawyer, were pretty well received. And prior to that, his shorts were successful, too. His debut is called Fast Forward, and it involves the 1981 shooting of President Reagan. Rather than recreating the incident entirely, Furman takes the familiar TV footage, which millions of us have seen over and over before, and mixes it with peripheral reenactment where necessary for an added fictional component. Using the real material is for good purpose as the point of the film seems to be that the footage — and much of television like it — is confusing in its chaos and maybe not at all what it seems. Is Furman aiming to equate the Reagan assassination attempt with the JFK assassination? Perhaps.  Fast Forward is about a news reporter (David Deblinger) who sees the footage play out on a monitor in his van five minutes before the events actually happen, Final Destination style. After finally realizing what he’s seeing, he rushes out to try to stop the gunman. But the video he’s seen doesn’t offer a clear look at the guy. In the end, I’m not totally sure what ensues. Maybe […]



What is Casting Couch? It’s the place to go to find out which upcoming movies are going to star which actors. Keep reading to discover the cast of veterans Adam Carolla wants you to help him make a movie with. Given Johnny Depp’s penchant for always sporting flashy accessories and conspicuous facial hair, his next project should prove to be right in his wheelhouse. The Wrap is reporting that he’s all set to star in Mortdecai, which is an adaptation of Kyril Bonfiglioli‘s comedic crime novel “The Great Mortdecai Moustache Mystery,” and possibly the launcher of a new franchise for the actor. David Koepp (Premium Rush) will direct the film, which will cast Depp as Charlie Mortdecai, a dashing art dealer who often finds himself caught up in espionage and intrigue. This particular Mortdecai story is one that involves rare paintings and Nazi gold, which most of the best stories often do.


Louis Zamperini has an amazing life story. He ran in the Berlin Olympics of 1936 where he shook Adolf Hitler’s hand because the leader wanted to meet him. He then fought in WWII, flying with  a B-24 bomber in the Pacific Islands before a mechanical failure brought his plane and the 11 men in it down. Only three men survived, Zamperini included, and they ate raw fish and drank captured rain water for 47 days while fighting off shark attacks before washing ashore in the Marshall Islands where they were taken as POWs by the Japanese. Zamperini was torture by one of the 40 most wanted war criminals of the time but survived for two years before finally seeing his release at the end of the war. Oh, and he’s still alive. He’s 96 and, clearly, he cannot be killed.


Angelina Jolie Unbroken

After completing her feature directorial debut with 2011’s Bosnian War-set drama, In the Land of Blood and Honey, multi-hyphenate Angelina Jolie has been mum on what her next directing gig will be (though we did get those hilarious rumors that she was on deck to helm Fifty Shades of Grey), so it does come as a bit of a surprise that we’re first catching wind of her probable next project, an adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand‘s bestselling “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption” via press release. Curiouser still is the fact that the release only says Jolie is “in talks” to direct the film, as such official announcements are usually reserved for, well, more official announcements. What does that mean? Yeah, this is probably a done deal. Jolie is “in talks” to helm the film for Universal Pictures and Walden Media, one which follows “the incredible life story of Olympian and war hero Louis Zamperini who, along with two other crewmen, survived in a raft for 47 days after a near-fatal plane crash in WWII only to be caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a prisoner of war camp.” That’s right, Jolie is going back to a war camp for her next feature. Can’t someone get her a rom-com? We’re sad already.



Francis Lawrence keeps himself busy, and it shows when you look at his untrusty IMDB page. The director’s name has been tied to a lot of projects in the past few years – Survivor, Sgt. Rock, Houdini, and more — but many of those films aren’t ones Lawrence will be making. In my interview with the director, we spent some time discussing what may be next for him, either Houdini or Unbroken, and why certain projects didn’t come together. First off, Lawrence won’t be adapting Survivor, which he backed away from over two years ago. Not because the project died while he was working on it, but over a tonal issue:

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published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.29.2015
published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.28.2015

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