Woody Harrelson

True Detective

True Detective is in a slightly difficult position right now. The first season of HBO’s detective story was a fantastic eight hours of television. The central mystery itself was fairly routine, but that’s not what the first season was about: it was about seeing Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) and Rust Cohle’s (Matthew McConaughey) wildly different world views conflict and come together. Each second with Marty and Rust is a treat. Their limited exposure (in an age of 9-season TV franchises) is part of what makes the experience special. Those episodes said everything we needed to know about their relationship. Since they’re not the focus of season 2, show creator and writer Nic Pizzolatto has to create a new dynamic that will be inescapably compared to the star-gazers. Considering how people responded to Marty and Rust, that won’t be easy. Right now all we know about season 2 is it’s set in California and focuses on two men and one woman. One of the show’s executive producers, Scott Stephens, participated in a panel at the Los Angeles’ Produced By Conference over the weekend. While he couldn’t discuss any specifics, Stephens did explain how much more challenging the production will be on season 2.

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True Detective 1

Your theories were wrong. Well, probably. HBO’s latest opus of small screen cinema, the Nic Pizzolatto-created, Cary Fukunaga-directed, and Matthew McConaughey- and Woody-Harrelson-starring True Detective, ended its first season last night (unless you were trying to watch the season finale on HBO GO, in which case you might still be watching the flat circle of time known as the loading screen endlessly unspool) and after eight weeks of obsessive viewing, the first season finale is already the subject of intense hyperbole. The final episode, “Form and Void,” is less than a day old, and it’s already fiercely divisive – it was either the best possible ending or a tremendous letdown. The truth is, of course, somewhere in the middle – though that doesn’t mean that True Detective is not, on a whole, great entertainment. And although True Detective is the kind of often dense programming that benefits from closer reading and a few outside sources (“The Yellow King” post over at io9 remains essential), it’s also the kind that has suffered at the hand of relentless fan theorizing – because it’s those people who are most let down by its final conclusions.

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The Hunger Games Catching Fire

At the tail end of 2013, Iron Man 3 received one of the biggest bitch-slaps of the year, courtesy of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The teen novel adaptation swooped in and eclipsed the Marvel superhero’s spot as the highest grossing movie of the year, at least in terms of domestic box office. While The Hunger Games: Catching Fire didn’t overcome the worldwide box office of Iron Man 3, it had its own victory by besting the first installment by more than $200m worldwide. As the movie-going audience prepares for the first of two final sequels releasing later this year, they can stave off their hunger by checking out The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on DVD and Blu-ray. Included on the discs is a commentary with director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson. Lawrence had already been working on the final two films at the time of recording, so his insight goes beyond the production of this film and extends into the grand finale. Even if you’re not a huge fan of these films, you can take solace in the fact that the filmmakers behind them are striving for something better and deeper than the previous box office champs in terms of young adult fiction. (Yes, I’m talking about the thank-god-it’s-over Twilight films.) Now, with that dig against Stephenie Meyer and all things sparkly out of the way, on to the commentary.

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Film Title:  Out of the Furnace

Editor’s note: Our review of Out of the Furnace originally ran during this year’s AFI Fest, but we’re re-posting it now as the film opens in theatrical release. Sometimes it seems like the future is rapidly approaching, with more and more information being digitally consumed and smartphones attached to the palm of almost everyone’s hand, but there are still places that are untouched by time, where family and community are paramount. It may seem like a simpler life, but Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace shows just how difficult life in an industrial community on the decline can be. Russell (Christian Bale) and Rodney Baze (Casey Affleck) are two brothers trying to carve out fulfilling lives for themselves in the wake of hard times and the deteriorating health of their father. Russell is a good man who seems content to work hard for his family and his girlfriend Lena (Zoe Saldana), but Rodney is more of a loose canon. As a solider recently called back for another tour overseas, the younger Baze brother is wrestling with some serious demons.

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review free birds

Free Birds solves one of life’s great dilemmas by finally, finally granting us that animated flick about time-traveling turkeys, which we’ve dreamt of since Muybridge first filmed that horse more than 140 years ago. Rest easy, fellow moviegoers: The long, national nightmare is over. Multiplexes across the land will starting this very day welcome perplexed children and bemused parents to the story of Reg (Owen Wilson) and Jake (Woody Harrelson), who waddle inside a time-traveling egg and set their sights on 1621, where generations of turkeys depend on the menu for the first Thanksgiving being changed. There, they join forces with a heroic band of counterparts living in an underground utopia who fight a defensive war against the starving Plymouth settlers.

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furnace

When the first trailer for Scott Cooper’s (Crazy Heart) Out of the Furnace hit, it made the movie seem like a pretty safe bet right away. The footage had a tattooed, rusty authenticity to it, the story featured stakes that were immediate and grave, and the cast—well it’s just a really good cast they’ve put together. But then, in the second half of the ad, what originally looked like a simple, gritty revenge story suddenly gave way to religious imagery, corny flashbacks, general melodrama, and a soaring Pearl Jam song over the soundtrack that made the whole thing seem like it just might be too pretentious and overbearing to reach its potential. Now there’s a second trailer out for the film though, and while it’s mostly a remix of footage that was already shown in the first, this time the focus is more on the danger of getting involved with a bunch of criminal hillbillies, and this time some girl doing a sort of panicked cover of Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’ provides the soundtrack, so everything gets presented with a much more haunting tone and less of a bro rock one. Check it out, really, it ends up working so much better.

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Free Birds

If you were growing sick and tired of watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving every November, Relativity’s got your back with Free Birds, the animated Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson-voiced turkey caper filling the Thanksgiving film void we didn’t know was empty. Nothing says “gather around the table with friends and loved ones” like “animated birds facing their own mortality.” Reggie (Wilson) is a happy turkey who was pardoned by the President and now lives at Camp David, eating pizza and watching TV. He’s even got a lady-turkey (Amy Poehler). Jake (Harrelson) comes from the Turkey Freedom Front, a radical group fighting for freedom from the dinner table. The two team up to find a time machine in a government lab to take back to the first Thanksgiving so they can stop turkey from getting on the menu altogether. Now, I know they’re simple birds, but if they’re smart enough to master the concept of time travel shouldn’t they understand the biggest rule – don’t mess with anything in the past?! Thanksgiving has never really been seen as an action-packed holiday, so maybe this film is the rebranding effort it needs to get in line with the Independence Days and the New Years Eves? Having talking birds high-five and run from explosions while Carly Rae Jepson plays in the background is a surefire way to get kids in the theater, though, so kudos to the studio for this trailer. That tagline though – “Hold on to your nuggets!” Haha, it’s a joke […]

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trailer true detective

Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson are taking the leap to HBO like so many great Buscemis and Daniels and McBrides and Jessica Parkers before them, for True Detective, a gritty and sprawling crime drama helmed by Cary Fukunaga. Though many of you probably saw the trailer after the season premiere of Boardwalk Empire last night, those who missed it can check it out right now. McConaughey and Harrelson play Rust Cohle and Martin Hart, respectively, two Lousiana detectives entwined in a 17-year chase for a serial killer. A freakish murder in 1995 that would not look out of place on the set of NBC’s Hannibal is the basis for their investigation; the series appears to jump back and forth between their initial finding and 2012, when the case is reopened. Watch the trailer here:

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Out of the Furnace

Christian Bale doting on his brother. Economic hardship. Boxing. Right off the bat, the trailer for Out of the Furnace can’t help but recall 2010′s The Fighter, even if Bale has a little less Boston in his speech and a little more bulk on his frame. But soon enough, Out of the Furnace distinguishes itself and the real story becomes clear. Bale plays Russell Baze, a steel-mill worker whose brother becomes involved in a local crime ring and disappears. After every effort to find his brother has failed, Russell takes the law into his own hands to uncover the truth.

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3_DetroitDealer_A004_C043_0117MJ

For a documentary to get noticed these days, it helps to have a fresh angle. But being creative with the form doesn’t necessarily result in an effective film, especially when it’s tackling a serious issue. Stunts occasionally work (see Super Size Me), as do innovative narrative devices (see 1965 Oscar-winner The War Game), but most docs with a gimmick unfortunately seem to hold that stylistic choice in front of the subject at hand. There’s no denying that How to Make Money Selling Drugs is a clever work of nonfiction, but we’re left thinking about the structure more than the film’s point. The real problem, however, might be that the film’s point is not even too clear anyway. Written, directed and heavily narrated by Matthew Cooke, the doc takes the form of, as the title suggests, an actual How-To guide to making money selling drugs. For a while it seems like an amusing piece of ironic satire, as former dealers including rapper 50 Cent and legendary trafficker “Freeway” Rick Ross favorably talk of making big money at very young ages. Then Cooke’s focus veers towards the problems of the Drug War and the prison industrial system and NYC’s Rockefeller laws, and it’s apparent that he may in fact be endorsing the occupation.

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review now you see me2

2013′s summer movie season will likely go down as one of the biggest and be remembered for Iron Man 3‘s record-breaking box office, but there’s an unfortunate common theme developing here too. From Marvel’s film to Star Trek Into Darkness to the latest installment of the Fast & Furious franchise, this summer’s big studio releases appear to have given up even the pretense of intelligence in exchange for plain, dumb fun. That’s not a bad thing on it’s own, and to be clear, this isn’t an issue of believability as much as it is about shameless, lazy stupidity. Louis Leterrier‘s new film, Now You See Me, gleefully jumps into the fray hoping to skate by on the same “dumb but fun” mentality, but while the three movies above featured spectacular action set-pieces and big stunts to distract from their half-assed scripts this one instead has… magic tricks?

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nowyousee_harrelson

Is this new motion poster for Now You See Me an illusion, or is it magic? We can’t say for sure. Some sort of Photoshop wizardry is at play around Woody Harrelson’s character, so much so that I’ve already inadvertently typed “Woody Allen” three times while writing this article. Be it actual magic or just sleep deprivation, the fact remains: Now You See Me is coming soon and we’ve got a fancy poster exclusive to share with you.

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Jim Carrey

What is Casting Couch? It’s all part of a very simple process. Movie execs do the casting, the trades get the casting announcements, and then we put all of the news in one handy place. Today trios of big actors have been added to both Kung-Fu Panda 3 and Beware the Night. Jim Carrey’s casting in the upcoming comedy Ricky Stanicky has been a long time coming. According to Deadline, he’s been looking at this Black List script about a group of friends who have blamed everything they do wrong on a made up acquaintance named “Ricky Stanicky” their entire lives for about a year, and only just recently has decided to sign on to star. The deciding factor seems to be the fact that Steve Oedekerk has also come on board the project to direct, and Carrey already has experience working with him on Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. Remember, Oedekerk directed that scene where Carrey was birthed from a rhino’s ass? Classic. It looks like we can begin readying ourselves for some more high concept comedy.

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NYSM

Let’s hope that Louis Leterrier‘s upcoming magician film, Now You See Me, fares a bit better than The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, because the director’s latest star-studded outing just looks cool as hell. The film centers on “The Four Horsemen” (totally a cooler name than just “The Incredible”), a pack of illusionists who pull off some mighty cool (yup, still cool) heists under the guise of magic shows. Starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, and Dave Franco as the Horsemen and Melanie Laurent, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, and Common in other, probably still cool roles, Now You See Me should shape up to be a, wait for it, cool time at the movies. Check out its stylish new poster up above. Now You See Me appears in theaters on May 31st. [Press Release]

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Now You See Me

Seeing as it’s a Louis Leterrier movie, of course the first trailer for Now You See Me is high energy and loud. Jesse Eisenberg is yelling into a microphone, people are disappearing with flashes of electricity, Isla Fisher’s smile is blinding you, and the contents of a bank’s vault are raining down on a jacked up theater audience. And this is all before the action starts. Then you gets showdowns and chase scenes, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine trading dialogue about grizzled old man doom and gloom, and Mark Ruffalo looking like he’s right in his wheelhouse playing a frazzled and out of sorts police inspector trying to keep up with a team of ultra-competent, bank robbing magicians. Sounds like this movie has something for everyone, no? Check it out after the break, and let us know what you think.

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Seven Psychopaths

Marty (Colin Farrell) is a screenwriter with a serious case of writer’s block. “Seven Psychopaths” is his latest script, but there’s one big problem with it. The title is all he’s written so far. He needs some inspiration to make his characters and his story come alive, but where is an Irishman with a drinking problem and relationship issues going to find that spark of originality? As with most of life’s questions, the answer here is Sam Rockwell. More precisely, it’s with his good friend Billy (Rockwell). Where Billy goes trouble follows, and that trouble is currently in the form of a pissed-off gangster named Charlie (Woody Harrelson) who’s violently distraught over the loss of his pooch Bonny (Bonny the ShihTzu). It seems Billy’s primary source of income is a scam he runs with his friend Hans (Christopher Walken) involving the dog-napping and subsequent return for reward of wealthy peoples’ pups. Snatching Bonny has opened up a can of murderous worms as Charlie hunts down those responsible and Marty finds himself caught in the blood-spattered middle of it all. On the bright side he’s getting inspiration for all seven of his fictional psychopaths, but none of that will matter if he doesn’t live to finish the screenplay. Seven Psychopaths is exactly the film we should expect from the man who created the wickedly great In Bruges. It’s whip-smart funny, deliriously violent and deceptively heartfelt. And good god does it have the most aggressively awesome ensemble cast of all time.

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Seven Psychopaths

A film begins with its script. So when a screenwriter is poised with creating a script for a film entitled Seven Psychopaths and is unable to get past page one (for various reasons), it’s obvious we have a conundrum on our hands. Marty (Colin Farrell) has found himself, drunk more times than not, staring at a blank notepad still trying to figure out who the seven psychopaths are. As the story goes on, he encounters a series of psychopaths all surrounding a dog kidnapping scheme that Hans (Christopher Walken) and Billy (Sam Rockwell) are running. Billy has picked up a Shih Tzu dog that happens to belong to Charlie (Woody Harrelson), who happens to be a raving psychopath who heads up some sort of mob or something. While this film sets itself up (marketing-wise) as a crazy comedy about this slew of characters, it really isn’t. It’s more about the process of writing, with a lot of blood and guts involved. The film enjoys the use of shocking comedic violence in a way that allows its characters to get a laugh through their situations and reactions more than just through their catchy one-liners. There are some jokes in this movie that are so deeply embedded in character reveals that it’s made for multiple viewings.

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Drinking Games

Along with Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, and Batman, a lesser-known heroine named Katniss Everdeen became one of the biggest box office draws of 2012. Now the immensely popular dystopian science fiction adventure The Hunger Games is available on DVD and Blu-ray. The Hunger Games tells the story of a dark future where the government punishes the people by forcing their children to fight to the death in an arena. You know the drill, basically a less-Japanese version of Battle Royale with some really funky fashions. Still, it’s an enjoyable film and worth enjoying with a drink in your hand.

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Martin McDonagh‘s In Bruges remains one of the finest black comedies in recent years thanks to his sharp writing/directing and a couple of fantastic performances by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. Both actors displayed great comedic chops alongside a surprising pathos, and the result is a film that’s eminently quotable and highly re-watchable. And it was four years ago. McDonagh is finally following that film up, and the first trailer has arrived. Seven Psychopaths stars Colin Farrell as a struggling screenwriter whose friends get him mixed up in dog-napping, violence, and murder. Those mischievous friends are played by Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken, and they’re joined by Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko, and Tom Waits. Check out the trailer below.

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2012 Movie Roland Emmerich

The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained. The Film: 2012 (2009) The Plot: Disaster filmmaker extraordinaire Roland Emmerich gives audiences his vision of how the world will end in this 2009 blockbuster. As the clock ticks closer to December 21, 2012, geologists and other scientists discover various anomalies happening to our planet. Solar flares are tossing neutrinos across space, and they are impacting the Earth’s mantle. They predict global catastrophe as the crust shifts and the Earth’s plates rearrange. Eventually, massive earthquakes wipe entire cities off the globe while one family, led by John Cusack, makes an escape in a limousine of awesomeness.

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