Woody Harrelson

Scott Cooper’s followup to 2009’s Crazy Heart has been making a lot of headlines lately due to all of its impressive casting announcements. Out of the Furnace is a movie about an ex-con trying to get his life together after getting out of prison. Unfortunately, the world is a tough place to live in, and bad things happen. So when the protagonist’s little brother gets caught up in some shady dealings that have an unfortunate end, he finds himself in a situation where he has to turn his new leaf back over to the dirty side, in order to seek revenge. A huge chunk of the cast has already been filled out by signees that were made official just a few days ago. Christian Bale has long been locked for the role of the lead character, Russell. And after his casting came names like Casey Affleck, who’s playing the little brother who meets a tragic end, Zoe Saldana, who is the Bale character’s love interest, and Sam Shepard, who’s all set to play his uncle, Red. Only one thing’s left: who’s going to play the villain? Every good crime movie needs a good bad guy, and with the cast that Out of the Furnace already has in place, not just any old actor will do for this one. You bring in somebody unestablished—without any chops—and he’s going to shrink when standing next to screen presences like Bale and Affleck. No, this movie needs a big damn personality, and if a […]

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Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr is feeling hungry. Of course, this is nothing strange because he’s always feeling hungry. But this week, he’s extra hungry because only one movie is opening wide, and that is the highly anticipated adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ novel, The Hunger Games. So Kevin grabs a bow and arrow, a tub of magical antibiotics, tracker jacker repellant and a big bucket of popcorn to check out what is sure to be the next big young-adult-novel-turned-billion-dollar-franchise. (Spoiler alert: Kevin is still hungry when the movie is over, but that’s no surprise either.)

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The marketing was wrong. While the buzz has been on Gary Ross’s cinematic adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ wildly popular book series, The Hunger Games, since the first film was announced, all of the stills, trailers, and posters that have trickled out over the months have not captured the stunning final product. Ross’s film is an engaging, energetic, and emotional journey that should please the series’ dedicated fans while also luring in new ones. Cinephiles who are drawn to science fiction and dystopian stories will likely find a new favorite franchise, a YA adaptation elevated by a talented cast, skilled direction, and a tone and story that feel vibrant and applicable beyond just this single film. The film is set in a future version of the United States in which the country has been fractured and then tenuously reunited after an uprising nearly seventy-five years prior. The rebels were eventually quelled, and the resulting country consists of a rich and powerful central Capitol and twelve individual “Districts.” Each District is responsible for one type of provision or industry and, as the Capitol restricts communication and interaction between the Districts, they are at the mercy of their government to get supplies that are necessary for even basic survival. And though that should be enough to keep the Capitol satisfied in their power, it’s not, and they use the annual “Hunger Games” to remind their citizens just how in control they are. The Games are a televised fight to the death, with its […]

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Over two years ago we got to see a whole new side of Ben Foster. With director Oren Moverman‘s The Messenger, Foster gave a quiet and powerful performance, right next to Woody Harrelson, who also showed something we hadn’t seen from him before. With Rampart, the duo continue to explore new territory. Unless I’m mistaken, we haven’t seen Harrelson play a damaged and narcissistic cop, and the same goes for Foster in an unrecognizable appearance as a homeless vet. That type of transformation and change is something Foster seems to embrace. If you know about Oren Moverman’s work ethic, then you’re well-aware he searches for honesty, which Ben Foster obviously has great admiration for. Here’s what Ben Foster had to say about reacting, never having enough time to prepare, and how any director who says they have the answer is full of shit:

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Writer-director Oren Moverman’s terrific feature debut, The Messenger, was about trying not to deal with grief, while his character-driven “cop” drama, Rampart, is about attempting to not deal with everything. The lead of the film, Dave Brown, rejects change in a major time of change. Despite Moverman using his latest film to track a far more morally corrupted character than he previously dealt with in Messenger, he still shows the same measure of empathy, making Rampart a fascinating character study. The film follows Woody Harrelson‘s Dave Brown, as he confronts both a new time and a new way of life. Brown, a former soldier who sees himself as something of a man’s man, is unwilling to get with the times. With the true-life Rampart scandals serving as motivation, the LAPD is making major changes – ones that Brown won’t (or can’t) go along with. The cop is a sickly, paranoia-driven enigma who (forgive the cheesy as all hell expression) plays by his own nonexistent rules. Dave is stubborn, racist, fearful, and believes that he’s someone important enough to be spied on. He’s a real bastard.

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When HBO wanted to create an adaptation of the best-selling book “Game Change,” about the 2008 presidential race between John McCain and Barack Obama, they picked up the phone and called Jay Roach – the director behind Austin Powers and The Fockers who also delivered them the television movie Recount. Now, Roach has covered, semi-fictionally, politics in 2000 and in 2008. Slog through the dialogue between Woody Harrelson as Steve Schmidt (the Republican strategist) and Ed Harris as McCain, and you’ll be rewarded briefly with who will inevitably be the real star of the show, Julianne Moore slingin’ a down home twang as Sarah Palin. The question is this: with so much going on socially and economically, are we really interested in going back in time to examine a reality television star?

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Only mere hours ago, I watched Oren Moverman‘s Rampart. It’s much, much different from his fantastic 2008 directorial debut, The Messenger. Since I’ve only seen the film so recently, I’m not 100% comfortable discussing it at length. It’s a film that needs time…but I can say that this trailer is not the best representation of Moverman’s meditative drama. There is no hard rock music in the movie, it’s not fast paced, and the film is not as clichéd as the trailer suggests. If this trailer gets anything across right, it’s all the hints at how great Woody Harrelson is as Dave Brown. Harrelson fills a through-and-through bastard with a surprising amount of humanity, and even a little bit of uncomfortable empathy. It’s a powerful performance. But does Harrelson really look like the most corrupt cop you’ve ever seen on screen? You be the judge:

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The Hunger Games movie

We’ll try to keep this short and sweet. You know, for the fans. Most of whom are probably already up early on this Monday morning awaiting the debut of the first trailer for The Hunger Games. Get excited, Hunger Gamesers (what do they call themselves, anyway?), as it’s finally here. Lionsgate debuted the trailer this morning on Good Morning America and has since given it to Apple to put it online. We’ve picked up the bow and arrow from there and embedded it just after the break for those interested parties to view. And by interested parties, I of course mean everyone, as this will undoubtedly be one of the most talked about trailers of the week. It’s got some style, some thrill and some flair — also, the trailer delivers a prelude to what we can only hope is a lot of violence. That’s in the books, right?

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There’s dirty cops and there’s bad cops, and there’s a difference between the two. In Oren Moverman’s Rampart, a large-scale scandal threatens to ruin an entire police division, but the possibly-orchestrated (and conveniently televised) fall from grace of a single, uninvolved officer forms the plot of the filmmaker’s sluggish and sloppy second feature. Writer and director Moverman again teams with his The Messenger star, Woody Harrelson, as maybe-fall guy Dave Brown, a renegade cop unhinged by the possibility that he’s been bad all along, he just didn’t know it. Though Rampart makes copious mention of the complicated real-life scandal that shook up Los Angeles and the LAPD in the 90s, the film itself instead focuses on the fictional tale of Harrelson’s Dave Brown. An old school cop, a former solider who spends a touch too much time harkening back to his Vietnam years, Harrelson fills out Dave with enough of that classic Woody charm to keep him endlessly watchable, but frequently hard to care about (Harrelson will likely get some Oscar buzz, and if anything in this film is awards-worthy, it’s Harrelson’s work). A cigarette-chomping, skirt-chasing alcoholic, Dave doesn’t have much to recommend him besides swagger and a smirk, but even that can’t save him when he’s caught on tape positively kicking the crap out of a citizen who (at least on the video) appears to be doing nothing wrong. Sent to the media and popping up on newscasts across the city, Dave’s bad behavior may be ruining his life, […]

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Heist movies are usually about that one big score. That one massive job that’s too risky to take on, but too enticing to pass up. In order to motivate heist movie characters to step out of their comfort zones and take big risks, whatever they’re breaking into has to have a pretty big booty. But with each passing announcement, it becomes clearer and clearer that in Louis Leterrier’s upcoming heist film Now You See Me, the most valuable thing on screen won’t be the stockpiles of cash the illusionist characters steal from the world’s banks, but the amazing cast that he has assembled to bring these characters to life. It seems like almost on a bi-weekly basis some new casting announcement is made about this film that tops the last, and the latest comes from Movie Hole, who reports that Michael Caine has become the latest actor to join an already bursting at the seams ensemble. This puts him in a group of actors including Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, Melanie Laurent, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, and Woody Harrelson. Admittedly, Movie Hole’s accuracy rate at breaking news stories has been a little bit dubious, but The Playlist, a publication with a better batting record, has confirmed the story as well, so there must be some legitimacy to what Movie Hole’s secret source is saying. And if Movie Hole’s source knows what it’s talking about, then it raises another question about the film. Their source mentions the fact that Woody […]

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Earlier this morning, my partner in LA film festival crime, the lovely Ms. Allison Loring, posted her list of Most Anticipated Films from this year’s upcoming AFI FEST presented by Audi. Of course, many of our choices overlap (Shame, Butter, Rampart), but we part ways when it comes to some of the smaller films at the festival. For all the big, Oscar bait flicks (J. Edgar) or the wang- and soul-baring Fass-outings (Shame again, always Shame), there are a few films that I’ve been positively rabid to see (Alps, Michael) that might not yet have the cache value and audience awareness of those other films. From the festival’s incredible list of 110 films, I’ve narrowed down my list to ten films that are my bonafide Most Anticipated Films of the festival. Like any list, I am sure that some of you perusing it will be displeased, weighing in on titles I’m a fool to miss. But hold your wrath for a few days, because many of the best titles of the fest are ones I’ve already seen, and those films might just crop up in an unexpected place (like, oh, another list). AFI FEST will run from November 3rd through the 10th in Hollywood, with all screenings taking place at The Chinese, the Chinese 6 Theatres, and the Egyptian Theatre. Tickets for all screenings are free (and available starting today, October 27, right HERE). The complete schedule grid is now online for the festival, which you can check out HERE. After the break, […]

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With AFI FEST presented by Audi just one week away, fellow FSR-er and AFI FEST attendee Kate Erbland and I went through the impressive list of films on the schedule and selected the ones we are most looking forward to seeing. To the credit of those putting together this year’s AFI FEST, I found myself practically highlighting the entire schedule grid as I saw film after film that had already been on my “to-see” list. From films I have been anticipating for the past few months (Shame) to ones I had not heard of until now (Butter), this year’s AFI FEST looks to be one of its strongest lineups yet. AFI FEST will run from November 3rd through the 10th in Hollywood, with all screenings taking place at The Chinese, the Chinese 6 Theatres, and the Egyptian Theatre. Tickets for all screenings are free (and available starting today, October 27, right HERE). The complete schedule grid is now online for the festival, which you can check out HERE. After the break, check out my list of my top ten most anticipated films of this year’s AFI FEST. Which films are you planning on seeing at this year’s AFI FEST?

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Fans of Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games” books will remember Haymitch Abernathy as the drunken battle-to-the-death survivor who is chosen to mentor young Katniss Everdeen as she is forced to participate in the same brutal games that Haymitch won. He’s a character who starts off as comically inept, but who darkens, develops, and is revealed to be quite capable in his own way over time. When it was announced that Woody Harrelson had been cast in the role, I opined that he was a perfect choice, seeing as he was an actor who could merge humor with danger and make it seamless. In a recent interview that the actor did with 24 Frames, he talked a little bit about his approach to the character and revealed that he too thinks that he’s the perfect actor to correctly play both the comedy and the drama inherent in this role. Harrelson said, “It was my objective to give the character as much comedy as I could without it seeming not to fit. I tried to take a certain comedic aspect and give a sense, through that, that he’s been through a lot and is anesthetizing himself as a result of that.” I like his use of the word “anesthetizing” there. When we first meet Haymitch we see him through the eyes of Katniss, who sees him as nothing more than a pathetic lout. But he’s a character who has been though quite a bit and survived, so he couldn’t have always been such […]

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The world has descended into chaos. An artsy, color coordinated chaos to be sure, but still, society has taken a turn for the worse. To combat it the world’s government bans all firearms in an effort to quell the escalating violence. The result is a fusion of the Old West and the Far East as disagreements and feuds are handled solely through fisticuffs, swordplay, and a strict code of honor. Two strangers ride into town, not on a horse, but on a train. The Drifter (Josh Hartnett) is looking for a card game and Yoshi (Gackt) is here at his dead father’s request, but both men also have a secret purpose involving the town’s big boss, Nicola the Woodcutter (Ron Perlman). Their dueling quests will bring them in contact with each other, but it also finds them crossing paths with The Bartender (Woody Harrelson), Yoshi’s hot cousin Momoko (Emily Kaiho), the mysterious Alexandra (Demi Moore), and Nicola’s red-suited army led by Killer #2 (Kevin McKidd). What follows is a storybook tale with an arresting visual style that brings comic book pages to life on a stage-like setting. It’s theater for a new age that works as often as it doesn’t depending on who and/or what is onscreen, but even when it fails as an engaging narrative it often manages to delight the senses with a barrage of imagery both broad and specific. It’s a genre movie in cotton candy trappings, and while it runs a bit too long it’s a […]

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I’m not going to go on too long here. I’ve already written pages about how excited I am about the casting process for Louis Leterrier’s Now You See Me. Leterrier and company started out strong by casting Jesse Eisenberg in the lead role, then in rapid succession they added names like Mark Ruffalo, Melanie Laurent, Morgan Freeman, and Isla Fisher. This movie about bank robbing magicians has a next level cast, and it just keeps getting better. Variety is reporting that Woody Harrelson is the latest name to join the ensemble. Harrelson, one of the most delightful to watch and underrated actors in Hollywood, will be playing the role of Merritt Osbourne, a hypnotist and mentalist who can pull Jedi mind tricks on people. He used to perform for the Queen of England, but some sort of vaguely violent incident has forced him to relocate to Las Vegas where he becomes a member of the Four Horsemen, Eisenberg’s group of bank robbing magicians. Well, that about takes care of that; best movie ever.

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Guy Moshe‘s live-action cartoon, Bunraku, lives or dies by its cast. The poppy world Moshe created calls for a specific type of acting, and not an easy one. The film requires a sense of unrealistic cool. Josh Hartnett plays a silent, but suave cowboy, and he has to spout out some dialog you would never hear a normal human being say. With Lucky Number Slevin, The Black Dahlia, and his brief scene in Sin City, Hartnett’s done that style of acting before. Here, he went about it differently. Instead of worrying about finding a grounding, as Hartnett says below, he wanted to embrace the odder tonal aspects. It bridges on cheesiness. But when one’s acting against Woody Harrelson cracking jokes or Ron Perlman looking the way he does in the film, it’s understandable that Hartnett would want to fit in with that scenery-chewing gang.

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Culture Warrior

The cinematic doppelganger effect seems to happen on a cyclical basis. Every few years, a pair of movies are released whose concepts, narratives, or central conceits are so similar that it’s impossible to envision how both came out of such a complex and expensive system with even the fairest amount of awareness of the other. Deep Impact and Armageddon. Antz and A Bug’s Life. Capote and Infamous. Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Observe and Report. And now two R-rated studio-released romantic comedies about fuck buddies played by young, attractive superstars have graced the silver screen within only a few short months of each other. We typically experience doppelganger cinema with high-concept material, not genre fare. To see two back-to-back movies released about the secret life of anthropomorphic talking insects, a hyperbole-sized rock jettisoning towards Earth’s inevitable destruction, a Truman Capote biopic, or a movie about a mall cop seem rare or deliberately exceptional enough as a single concept to make the existence of two subsequent iterations rather extraordinary. Much has been made of the notion that Friends with Benefits is a doppelganger of No Strings Attached (the former has in more than one case been called the better version of the latter), but when talking about the romantic comedy genre – a category so well-tread and (sometimes for better, sometimes not) reliably formulaic that each film is arguably indebted to numerous predecessors – can we really say these films are doppelgangers in the same vein as the high-concept examples, or […]

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Bunraku premiered almost a year ago at the Toronto Film festival, and since then, nothing but mixed things have been said about it. Based on this trailer, the love it or hate it reaction the film has received up to now makes even more sense. What director Guy Moshe seems to have done is taken a sizable budget with a respectable cast, and make a film that will appeal to, at best, five people. Count me in as one of those people.

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I think of all of the things I would consider myself (an underestimated athlete, occasionally decent word maker-upper, deceptively intriguing coffee maker…), a connoisseur of the modern romantic-comedy is probably not amongst them. I’ll admit to stopping upon a Matthew McConaughey flick from time to time on a basic cable channel while I fold my laundry, cut my nails, or other things that really make me not sound very masculine. In my defense, I only do those things whenever a rom-com is on and so I blame the estrogen emitting from my television.

The point is, I purposely don’t watch many romantic comedies and when I do I really don’t pay much attention. It isn’t because I inherently don’t like them, it’s because they unfortunately have a very, very strict formula that’s about as predictable as the average American Friday date night. “What do you wanna do? Dinner and a movie? Okay,” equates to “Hi. I like you but I don’t know it yet. I know it now. You made me cry and run away. You ran after me? I love you, kiss my face.”

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When it was reported that John C. Reilly was being courted to take on the role of the drunken lout Haymitch Abernathy in the upcoming film version of The Hunger Games, I let out a squeal of delight that probably would have been more appropriate coming from a tween girl hugging a poster of Justin Bieber. Haymitch is maybe the most fun character in the books, a hopeless drunk who is haunted by being the survivor of one of the past Hunger Games that ends up getting tasked with training the new recruits for the deadly Games from District 12 Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). That’s not very good news for the kids because not only does Haymitch not really care about anything; he also spends the entirety of his days too drunk to function. Reilly would have been perfect for the role as he is hilarious whenever playing the inebriated fool, but he also has the dramatic chops to pull off the dangerous edge of a man who has survived a battle royal to the death. After hearing his name mentioned for the role, I imagined that I would be extremely disappointed if anyone else ended up getting it. The new news is that John C. Reilly won’t be playing Haymitch after all, but they went and hired maybe the one guy who doesn’t come off as a disappointment to me at all. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Woody Harrelson has officially signed on for […]

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published: 04.16.2014
B-
published: 04.14.2014
B
published: 04.14.2014
A-
published: 04.14.2014
C

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