Set pics from Woody Allen's "Untitled London Project" have been released featuring Josh Brolin, Naomi Watts and Antonio Banderas. The film is currently shooting in London and also stars Anthony Hopkins, Freida Pinto and Bollywood star Anupam Kher. [INeedMyFix]
Lindsay Lohan has seemingly confirmed that she in on board Robert Rodriguez's "Machete." The actress wrote on her twitter that "something was made official today!!!!!!!!!" before following that with a link to the film's IMDB page. Rodriguez previously revealed that a part in film was for Lohan's to take. [Twitter]
Quentin Tarantino is in this month's Esquire Magazine and, judging from the cover (never judge a what by its what?), looks like he might be giving his uncredited proposal to bring back "Casino Royale" more press. [Twitpic]
Blake Lively has evidently joined the cast of Ben Affleck's "The Town." Lively will play the sister of Jeremy Renner's character. [ModBee]
Rumor has it a Wachowski Brothers produced, James McTeigue helmed "Superman" reboot is being eyed by Warner Brothers. Haven't heard that one before, right? [IESB]
Footage of Matthew Vaughn's "Kick-Ass" from Comic-Con has leaked online. Not sure how long it'll last and the first part is severely out of sync but, other than that, you can see why the fanboys wet their pants over it. Still, the film seems like a sure box office flop - can't see adults flocking to watch ultra-violent children on-screen and the R-rating means children won't be able to watch it. [UndercoverFanboy]
Set pics from Woody Allen's "Untitled London Project" have been released featuring Josh Brolin, Naomi Watts and Antonio Banderas. The film is currently shooting in London and also stars Anthony Hopkins, Freida Pinto and Bollywood star Anupam Kher. [INeedMyFix]
It feels like just a few short months ago when we were wondering whatever happened to George Miller's fourth installment of the Mad Max series. What was the intended plot? No one really seemed to know, but Miller told the New York Times in 2004, "I'm going to take Max in a new direction." Less desirable and more recent thoughts, are Miller's comments in a March 2009 MTV interview where he said he wanted to turn the fourth film into a 3D animated film for the big-screen. Ugh, sounds awful.
Miller directed all three of the iconic, dystopian action road films that made an international star out of Mel Gibson as Max (or Captain Walker as he's known in the underrated third film, "Beyond Thunderdome"), an empty shell of a man on a desolate road trying to survive the hordes of post-apocalyptic road warriors raping and pillaging what is left of civilization.
The second and third films in the series have held up surprisingly well and "The Road Warrior," is now a veritable '80s action classic.
And now a fourth Mad Max film is apparently rising from the dead with actor Jeremy Renner presumably in the lead role, but that's not entirely confirmed as the info that has come out is relatively vague.
"The Hurt Locker" star told Modbee in a recent interview when asked what was coming next, "I'm also fighting to do the new Mad Max film with George Miller. That might be next summer. I'm screen-testing and meeting George Miller."
Interesting news. Will they make it happen? This isn't the first time, a fourth Mad Max picture, once called, "Mad Max: Fury Road," was on the docket and in fact, 'Mad Max 4' almost happened and was in pre-production in the early aughts, but then became derailed. You can blame it all on Saddam Hussein (or rather WMD-hungry Dick Cheney and his cronies, read on...)
How close did it come to happening? In December 2002, the ambitious-sounding mega-project was announced in Variety, and it didn't sound cheap, boasting a $105 million dollar budget and a $25 million dollar payday for Gibson. It wasn't just an enthusiastic, "let's develop this!" either. "This is the most exhaustively prepared movie I have ever been associated with," a-then 20th Century Fox president said. "The script is as ready as they come."
In January 2003, Fox actually set a release date for the movie, which was July 23rd 2004, but obviously, that never came to pass. The film was to begin shooting in Nambia, but in late February 2003, just a few weeks before shock and awe, the prospect of the impending Iraq invasion prompted 20th Century Fox to postpone the production until a fall start and the project never fully recovered.
In a 2008 Newsweek interview, Miller said the project was just 11 weeks away from shooting when they had to delay and then eventually cancel. "When the war in Iraq started... that really threw [the project] out for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which was that the American dollar crashed against the Australian dollar. And apart from that, just insurances, getting vehicles and stuff there on container ships--all that slowed down around the world. So we had to move on to "Happy Feet," because that [situation] was going to take a long time."
Miller, who actually owns the rights to the Mad Max franchise, not 20th Century Fox, then started developing a video game in the interim, but we're not sure that ever came out.
So will Renner play the lead? Sounds like it. In that same 2008 interview, Miller said Gibson was long out. "He all but signed to play the lead [back then], yeah, yeah. But I think that day is long gone now--it's five years later." When asked if he would attempt the film again with a different scenario, he replied, "Oh, it wouldn't be with Mel...He's in his 50's now--it's too old."
It's interesting to note that as famous as the Mad Max films have become, according to Variety, the three pictures only grossed a collective $69 million in total domestically. [Modbee via AICN]
What was the intended plot? No one really seemed to know, but Miller told the New York Times in 2004, "I'm going to take Max in a new direction." Less desirable and more recent thoughts, are Miller's comments in a March 2009 MTV interview where he said he wanted to turn the fourth film into a 3D animated film for the big-screen. Ugh, sounds awful.But perhaps the director has new found confidence in Jeremy Renner and wants to make it a traditional, live-action film? Let's hope so, as that's the only way we'd be relatively interested. There were rumors in 2004 that Heath Ledger would have been involved, possibly as the grown up version of the feral, wolf boy from "Road Warrior," but those claims seemed to just be a lot of talk from disreputable Australian sites (the always dicey Moviehole.net).
This is an odd marriage if we've ever seen one. Rob Marshall ("Chicago," "Nine") is set to be named the director for the fourth movie in Disney’s never-ending "Pirates of the Caribbean" saga. Assuming this is declared in a timely manner, the movie is aiming towards a 2010 production start with Johnny Depp to return as the eyeliner heavy Captain Jack Sparrow.
‘Pirates 4’ hasn’t had a director since Gore Verbinski left earlier this year to work on the movie adaptation of the videogame "Bioshock," which has since lost steam. Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney have been searching for someone to take over their $2.6 billion baby ever since.
Marshall's recruitment also seemingly puts Disney's plans back on track with production on "The Lone Ranger," set to follow soon after 'Pirates.' What this all means for Depp's reunion with Tim Burton on "Dark Shadows" though, we're not quite sure but perhaps, if it's still on, 'Shadows' may shoot before or between the two Disney projects.
Even if a fourth (or a second or third for that matter) 'Pirates' probably isn't necessary, this is sure to be a big money maker for all involved. Now with an Oscar-winning director on board, Disney is surely seeing dollar signs and loving every minute of it. [BFDealMemo] - Beau Delmore
Somebody tell us, what inspires these dude directors of today to want to make, er, re-make musicals? The THR's Steven Zeitchik reported yesterday on his Risky Biz Blog, that "(500) Days of Summer" director Marc Webb is in active negotiations to helm a remake of the '70s rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar."
Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Broadway show was made into a seriously hairy, hippie, and totally groovy movie in 1973 by the great and uneven, Norman Jewison (see also, "Moonstruck," "Fiddler on the Roof"). The story follows just how much of a total bummer Judas Iscariot was during the last year of Jesus' life. Every line is sung, everyone has beards, wears tight pants and baggy tops, and (spoiler) Jesus dies in the end.
Webb already has "Age of Rage" lined up at Fox Searchlight. That film is described by THR as "Children of Men" meets "Lord of the Flies." Superstar is supposedly a passion project of Webb's and THR's Zeitchik speculates that Webb will bring his indie-pop style to the project (no!!!) much like Jewison brought the style of the 70's to the original adaptation (indie rockers, fire up your Rolodex now!)
It's also speculated that Webb's feel-good, musical number in '(500) Days' may have gotten him in the initial meeting with Superstar's producer, Marc Platt (see also, "Rachel Getting Married," the upcoming "Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World" and "Nine"). This could be an interesting project to watch in development if Webb indeed signs on. Fantasy cast? How about Anne Hathaway as Magdalene, Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus, and Tunde Adebimpe (TV on the Radio, "Rachel Getting Married") as Judas? No, seriously. - Andrew Hart
OK, we lied. Don't get too excited; it's not the Kevin Drew from Broken Social Scene, it's some other New Jersey singer-songwriter. We're sure you're dying to see the Fox Searchlight college-demo rom-com, "Post Grad," starring Alexis Bledel, Jane Lynch and Michael Keaton.
We'll let you come up with you're own comments in the peanut gallery, but the soundtrack's not all that bad. Due August 18, the disc features tracks by Lily Allen, L.A. songwriter Inara George's underrated band the Bird & the Bee, Lucy Schwartz (seemingly a Searchlight favorite, she's also on the "Adam" soundtrack), The Kooks and Gym Class Heroes.
Here's the full soundtrack tracklist.
1. Pony (It's OK) - Erin McCarley
2. Don't Give Me A Hard Time - The Locarnos
3. Take What You Take - Lily Allen
4. One Day - Jack Savoretti
5. What Happened To It - the Bird and the Bee
6. Main Titles (Score Track) - Christophe Beck
7. Always Where I Need to Be - The Kooks
8. The Queen and I - Gym Class Heroes
9. Turn Back Around - Lucy Schwartz
10. Happerman & Browning (Score Track) - Christophe Beck
11. Wake The Sun - the Matches
12. Brand New Day - Joshua Radin
13. Si Senor - Control Machete
14. I Say I Go - Kevin Drew
15. Ryden & Adam (Score Track) - Christophe Beck
Here's the trailer if you're morbidly curious.
A general criticism that has come out of the release of the trailer for Wes Anderson's "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" has been that the voice contributions from actors seemed "phoned-in" and uninspired. As Jason Schwartman explained though, this is despite the fact that Anderson and co. went to great lengths to avoid exactly that.
"It was really fun to be a part of it because Wes tried as hard as he could to not have all of the actors recording their voices separately in studios at various times. He really made an effort to get the actors together in groups, and literally act out the scenes with each other. To have overlapping [dialogue], and just weird exchanges. He'd have a gentleman with a boom mic running after us, following us doing it all. So, for example, the scenes in the movie where we dig? That's actually all of us on the ground digging - like digging in the real dirt. And if we were eating, we'd go "Rawr!" and have real stuff in our mouths. I play George Clooney's son, and there's a scene where we're talking to each other or having an emotional scene, and those scenes really are the two of us in a room acting and looking at each other - as opposed to being done separately and pieced together later. Of course, there are exceptions. Meryl Streep is in it, and I never got to act with her. But for the most part, most of my scenes were done with the actors I'm working with."
Though Anderson himself wasn't always physically present when he wanted to tweak scenes.
"I'd get a call from Wes where he'd say, "Would it be at all possible for you to record some new lines tomorrow?" So I'd go to the recording studio, and Wes would be on the phone - because he lives in France. So he'd be on the phone coming through my headphones, and I would talk into the microphone, and... in front of me on a music stand would be five or ten lines I was supposed to say. But out of context, and not in script form. So he would explain it to me verballly. 'This is a scene where you've just come out of a tree'."
Suppose we'll have to wait for the release to judge to the full extent. [AICN]
There's a moment about a quarter of the way through Park Chan-Wook's "Thirst" where Song Kang-ho (the doughy hero of "The Host"), playing a conflicted priest infected with vampirism, volleys across rooftops, carrying his disbelieving crush (Kim Ok-vin) in his arms. It's a moment that can only be described as movie magic. The camera careens with him as he hops from one rooftop to the next, and it's the kind of breathless, assured filmmaking that literally winds you.
The only problem with "Thirst," opening today, is that as the movie progresses, there are far too few of these moments and what was once a zingy, bold, experimental take on non-Western vampire mythology devolves into a kind of sludgy, overwrought family melodrama. Somewhere along the way, it loses its fangs.
It starts promisingly enough, with priestly Song Kang-ho going to Africa (or somewhere) to receive an experimental medical procedure meant to stop a leprosy-like virus. He's the only patient to survive, but he gets a little more than he bargained for: the effects of the virus will stop, but only if he consumes human blood. (Okay, this may sound a little convoluted. That's because it is. While this prologue sets up an interesting engine for him contracting the disease, it also seems terribly unnecessary. Why couldn't he just get it from a blood transfusion? It worked for David Cronenberg and the dearly departed Marilyn Chambers in "Rabid.")
So he returns to his town, to his life as a priest. Mercifully, his parish is adjacent to a hospital, and he soon finds a morally shaky but preferred method of obtaining blood: by siphoning it from comatose patients. This works for him and it works for us -- Park Chan-Wook, no stranger to the joys of movie violence (he's responsible for the lauded "vengeance trilogy" of "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance," "Oldboy," and "Lady Vengeance") - provides us with rivers of blood and more goopy-slurpy sound effects than an entire season of "Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!"
As the movie wears on, and the focus shifts from his life of quiet solitude and growing self-loathing as the monster within gnaws away at his soul, to a doomed romance (with said crush), to a sort of bizarre family drama/tragedy, the fun drips away from the story, like so much drained blood.
By the time it reaches its prolonged, tragic-comic climax, we as an audience have grown wary of its constant shifts in tone and context, which at first felt unexpected and refreshing. When it began, "Thirst" seemed like a bold reinvention of a tired genre (especially in today's vampire crazed culture), with a number of solid subplots ripe for the picking (including one where the doomed priest is seen as a kind of messiah to those afflicted with the leprosy disease -- this is revisited but not in the way you'd expect), but ends up rather limp and unfocused; it's a series of spooky-scary-gory vignettes, which are all interesting but when added up never form a cohesive whole.
It's a shame, too, because as a filmmaker, Park Chan-Wook seems to have honed his considerable talents.
His mastery of visual effects, his shot compositions and editorial prowess, are all top-notch. It's a gorgeous movie, too, with the contrast between daylight's warmth and nighttime's chilly sobriety being a highlight. And he knows how to goose an audience like nobody else -- squirms seemed to ripple outwardly from the screen at our screening, with even the most hardened film fan crunching up into a disgusted ball.
But the parts don't add up, and for all its lustrous art house prestige (critics will undoubtedly dub this the vampire movie teeny-boppers should have been psyched about, not "Twilight" -- and they're right, to a degree), "Thirst" isn’t much more than a half-entertaining/half-infuriating midnight movie. Because the things that are great about the movie are almost unparalleled (seriously, its technical mastery is stunning), but story-wise it goes so off the rails to such an extreme degree, for so long, that it's hard to forgive in the end.
The fun you were having at the beginning (which includes some deliciously absurd moments) seems so far away from where you wind up. It's easy to be dazzled by all the color, ambition and flair, but one can't forget the nagging lack of overall substance. For all its flying viscera, "Thirst" ends up being surprisingly bloodless and for it's epic running time, it's pretty telling that you're still left craving more. [B] -- Drew Taylor.
[ed. here's our review of "Thirst" from Cannes which doesn't feel vastly different from this review].
At a recent press conference for his Barack Obama documentary, Edward Norton was asked about his and the Hulk's involvement with the upcoming Marvel plans for "The Avengers." Marvel president Kevin Feige recently neglected to mention the Hulk's name when discussing the major players of "The Avengers" rather simply noting the involvement of "members of the Hulk universe."
"I probably won't comment on that just because they keep a pretty tight rein on what they are letting out," Norton responded. "I'll let them [address it]."
Seems like the bad blood between Norton and Marvel is on going or at least the relationship has yet to heal. Whether this will bleed into Marvel's plans remains to be seen but, in the meantime, Norton's coyness in throwing the ball into Marvel's court may suggest that, like us, he's also simply just waiting to see what unfolds. [SciFiWire]
"Funny People" is good. It's really fucking good. It's neither the maudlin mess that the trailers (and early reviews, like David Edelstein's overblown thoughts for New York Magazine) have indicated, nor is it the "risky" experimental piece some have pegged it as (like a recent Wall Street Journal article - these are probably the same people that predicted "Up" would be a box office failure, ha). In fact, for much of the movie you might just simply be in awe at how many things writer-director Judd Apatow gets right in spite of its sprawling size.
His arrested development man-children, in this case the ailing, paranoid movie star George Simmons (played by the monolithic Adam Sandler, in his best performance since P.T. Anderson set him on the quest for pudding coupons in "Punch-Drunk Love") and the wimpy, unsure nobody (Seth Rogen, toned down considerably, he's actually acting, it's nice), acknowledge their weaknesses. Yes, they are narcissistic, selfish, borderline homophobic/sexist assholes. But they are at least trying. (In one sequence a male character actually gives a female character oral pleasure -- imagine that!)
The emotional honesty has been heightened without ever really feeling melodramatic, his ambition seeming to center, for the first time, on what it takes to be human, not what it takes to be funny. The film seems like his least episodic in tenor - there's a real story to tell here, and it's nice to see a movie about death that doesn't turn into a sad-sack, woe-is-me wallow-fest even though it's also never afraid of giving off a beautifully wistful tone.
Apatow has partnered with Steven Spielberg's cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, and he gives it a kind of ethereal glow. (Not unlike the look Robert Richardson pioneered for Oliver Stone in movies like "JFK," but not the overblown and obnoxious halo-look that's in every shot, it's just a new healthy sheen). The subtle aesthetic that gives the already emotionally rich and complicated film a lot of extra texture is much appreciated. Everything in this movie feels more real, more truthful, and at the same time more cinematic. This understated look just helps give the dark (but not morose) and sad (but not too melancholy) film some extra weight. The title of the film, which easily could have been called, "Seflish Pricks Who Get A Second Chance & Still Don't Learn Jackshit," has a double meaning. The superficial (funny) and the subtext (people who are "off" and damaged) and yes, we suppose that's a facile, simplistic reading, but it does slightly convey how the picture is more than just an average comedy, or even your average Judd Apatow comedy. There's something incredibly real at stake here and the characters are unapologetically flawed -- perhaps even to a point that will make audiences uncomfortable or at least not root for them.
Part way through the tremendously enjoyable film, you're thinking, "This is great, I hope it never ends!" And then it never does.
The first two thirds of the film, which are still dealing with the hard-hitting issues of morality, moral emptiness, missed opportunities, and life's great purpose feature a whole lot of dick jokes. Like, an unnecessary amount. For all the headway Apatow makes, you still get the feeling that a large part of him, as an artist and a human being, is stuck in the middle school locker room. Still, you're almost surprised how funny these fairly lame jokes can be, and that's a testament to the endearing characters and their comedic delivery. There's a genuine sense of playfulness and camaraderie in their attempts to make one another laugh and it admittedly charms and makes you smile.
But when the more plot-heavy elements kick in towards the film's final act, with Sandler's sick comedian being cured (via experimental medicine or convenient plot device, we're not sure), time becomes an essential element, yet the dick jokes remain (if not increase), and what appeared to be a well-crafted exercise in bittersweet, humanistic comedy becomes an endlessly rambling mess. (And this is with the appearance of Eric Bana, in a surprisingly springy comedic turn, as the husband of Sandler's lost love, Apatow's real-life wife, the always excellent Leslie Mann.)
If a John Waters or Woody Allen comedy falters, we at least know that it's only going to be 90 minutes, and that the end is near. "Funny People" is just as long as those other summer movie marathons, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" and "Public Enemies." Similarly, "Funny People" plods along to a limp and, frankly, gutless and unsatisfying finale. Ultimately, the film is like a stand-up routine with no punchline. Instead, it's like a slow, fade-out and you can still hear the comedian riffing on jokes.
Don't get it twisted. The majority of "Funny People," is extremely entertaining, and very amusing (and it must be noted Jonah Hill almost steals every scene he's in and is riotously hilarious, Jason Schwartzman fits in perfectly with the Apatow milieu as well). It's Apatow firing on all cylinders, refining things he had attempted before while trying out new (and dare we say it?) mature elements in both story and character. But "Funny People" is just too fucking long.
Apatow paints himself into a corner and has no place to go. If one one would try and hurry up that last act (and they probably did - this movie has two credited editors and that's to say nothing of assistant editors, editorial technicians, etc. who all probably offered their two cents), they'd seriously compromise the film, and it feels pretty evident that he realizes this, takes a deep breath and cuts the movie to the length it needs for better or worse. In this case, it's worse, and by the film's final act you'll be counting all the frames that could have been shaved, or where earlier in the movie he could have lost a couple of beats (did he really need that montage of his kids set to sappy music?)
It seems silly to bitch about a film's length when it's this ambitious, but it is a real problem and keeps the film from truly achieving the greatness that it promises. There are some risks in the film and perhaps the most significant ones are protagonists that are selfish, unlikable jerks. One has to admire how the picture decides to not go the route of traditional character arcs. These people are flawed assholes and none of them really change for the better which isn't something you normally see in studio film, comedy or otherwise. So that move is bold, but we'd also be lying if we didn't say it feels somewhat unsatisfying.
And while we're semi-facetiously kvetching about the exorbitant length, the practical issue is that the third act material just cannot support or justify the long-windedness. It all just crumbles under the weight of its ambition and Apatow loses the plot; the dithering finale tends to wander around aimlessly. That's the real problem.
Every subsequent Apatow movie feels like a better draft of the one before it. Maybe next time he'll untangle all of his story elements beforehand, work with a ruthless editor, and make that great movie we all know he's got inside of him. Until then, we'll probably watch "Funny People" a dozen more times anyway. [B+] - Drew Taylor
Reviews for Judd Apatow's it's-time-to-get-serious dramedy, "Funny People," are decidedly mixed and of course we've become slightly irritated with those who think it's unfunny pretentious garbage (dead wrong) and those that think it's a marvelous, risky and maverick left turn (hold the phone, that's overstating the case, people), but we suppose we'll have to be the voice of reason.
We digress. How will "Funny People," do at the box-office this weekend? To many, including the trades, it's apparently somewhat of a mystery. The film will open up on a whopping 3,008 screens, but apparently its exorbitant length (two and a half hours) is precipitating pundits to forecast its b.o. opening somewhere between $20-30 million.
Totally fair guesstimation. But some are screaming, "bomb in the making!" and dancing on the early grave of Universal who have had a pretty difficult summer. However, do you think the studio's displeased with what he delivered? In a move that looks like a striking vote of confidence for the Apatow brand, the studio has hired the director/producer/writer for a three-picture deal. And no, it's not a deal that lets him produce three whatever comedies, sign his name on to it and walk off. This deal is three more films for Apatow to write and direct himself. Apatow has already suggested that the studio asking him to trim "Funny People," was bullshit and from the sounds of the Hollywood Reporter, Universal gave him tons of freedom (which seems pretty damn true considering how sprawling and occasionally long-winded the film is. Long leash? He was free to roam).
One thing that's a little nuts? Apparently "Funny People," cost $75 million. Does that mean Adam Sandler didn't take a pay cut? If it does open at less than $30 mil that will mean the film will have a long way to recoup. What will any of these three films turn out to be? None of them are set. [THR]
20th Century Fox's "Alien" prequel is growing legs with Jon Spaihts "now hired to scribe. Who? Spaihts wrote an unproduced sci-fi script called "Shadow 19" that has Keanu Reeves attached and also has been hired to write a space epic called, "
"Passengers," but he has no discernible IMDB credits yet.
Spaihts apparently got the job after pitching to the studio and the director's Scott Free, which will produce the film.
More importantly, it looks like Ridley Scott has bitten the bullet and is now "attached to return as director" despite championing protege Carl Erik Rinsch to helm.
This is perhaps because Fox insisted they would not move forward on any "Alien" prequel project unless Scott was directing himself. Not much is known about the plot other than it will be set before the events that took place in Scott's 1979 original, "Alien," so presumably Sigourney Weaver will not be in the picture.
If Spaihts' pitch however was enough to excite Scott into directing, we must admit, we're mildly intrigued. [BFDealMemo]
Welcome to another installment of ‘The Fridays of Summer,’ 2009 edition, where the weather is hot but most reviews are decidedly lukewarm. This weekend’s mainstream lineup is oddly similar to the previous one, including an animated comedy-adventure for kids (last week there was "G-Force") , a horror flick ( "Orphan"), and a rom-com nobody cares about ("The Ugly Truth"). Okay, scratch that last one; actually, "Funny People" is a probable standout for both box-office bang and bang-for-your-buck enjoyment. On the indie side of things, plenty of options abound on both sides of the fiction line.
Outside magical echoes of ‘Harry Potter’ or piggish tendencies of ‘G-Force,’ this weekend’s market should be wide open for whatever flavor people feel like partaking. This is similar to last Friday, with ‘G-Force’ replacing ‘Ice Age’ as incumbent kid-friendly feature for "Aliens in the Attic" to face off against. Meanwhile, in Grownup Land, despite some middling reviews, "Funny People" should have no problem besting the killer of "The Collector" and delivering a solid performance at least somewhere approaching the Apatow-standard $30 million opening range. Wouldn’t it be sad if "The Ugly Truth" has a better opening?
Worst things first: "Aliens in the Attic," a partially-animated family adventure directed by the guy who brought us ‘The Honeymooners’ of 2005 (starring Cedric the Entertainer and the inimitable Mike Epps) opens wide this weekend and chronicles the exploits of the Average American Family ™ trying to protect their summer home from ‘illegal aliens’ from Mars. Originally entitled "They Came From Upstairs," and apparently very good at avoiding being reviewed with a current 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes for lack of reviews, this movie doesn’t have much to recommend it beyond Ashley Tisdale fans seeing her possibly expand her ‘High School Musical’ persona, or non-Tisdale fans seeing themselves expand as she struts around in a bikini. Oh, and Kevin Nealon ("Weeds," but really 'SNL') for you other weirdoes.
Next up wide, we have "The Collector," who has not been collecting too many great reviews, based on the Tomatometer’s fairly dismal "33% Fresh" rating. Directed by "Saw" screenwriter Marcus Dunstan and originally planned as a "Saw" prequel until producers axed the idea, ‘The Collector’ follows the story of handyman and ex-con Arkin, played by Josh Stewart ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button") who aims to repay a debt to his ex-wife by robbing his new employer’s country home. Expect the typical maze of lethal inventions the hero must navigate to… save the family he planned to rob? If you still think torture-porn is cool, get to it.
Last but actually best to open wide, we have ‘Funny People’, Judd Apatow’s third feature film, which features many of his regular cast (wife Leslie Mann, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill) but also longtime pal Adam Sandler ("You Don't Mess with the Zohan," "Bedtime Stories") as well as Eric Bana (The not-so-incredible Hulk) and Jason Schwartzman (any Wes Anderson movie). This morality-tale influenced dramedy promises more dramatic elements than seen in Apatow's previous films. It tells the story of a very successful yet self-involved stand-up comedian named George Simmons (Sandler) who learns that he has an incurable blood disorder and is given less than a year to live. When he meets Ira Wright, a struggling comedian played by Seth Rogen ("Pineapple Express"), they become friends and help each other figure out what the hell is wrong with them both. And that’s only two-thirds of the movie! It's certainly not a perfect film, but you certainly could do a lot worse and regardless, we recommend it. With a ‘65% Fresh’ rating on RT, some but not a ton of other reviewers agree. We expect this film to be considered better as time goes on because, except for those that seem to really hate it (i.e. Rex Reed), people seem pretty satisfied with its comfort food-like mix of raucous comedy and heartwarming modern fairytale.
In Limited Release, there's a whole slew of choices. The indie circuit this weekend is fairly rich if uneven. The picture that probably is most emblematic of that sentiment is the sometimes brilliant, but chaotic vampire love story by South Korean auteur Park Chan-Wook called "Thirst." Its visually stunning at times and highly ambitious, but exhaustively long and like four pictures crammed into one. We didn't love it.
But, if you're looking for a sui generis work, this is definitely your pick, but its certainly not a perfect film and sometimes outright maddening in its incongruity. Its riotously absurd, but also a sprawling mess. Still some critics seem to be largely dazzled and aren't necessarily recognizing its fairly obvious deficiencies as it has a 78% RT rating overall. We're hoping for his next outing Chan-Wook can reel it in a little bit more and find more cohesion, but we do at least appreciate the effort and ambition.
After that you have the ostentatious Danish WWII film "Flame and Citron," which looks like the picture Tarantino should have made with, "Inglourious Basterds" minus the boring parts. Our review said, it was "stylish and somber," but we still gave it a strong B+, and it has a exemplary 83% RT rating too.
Next up you have "Adam," the Fox Searchlight film that looks dangerously fey, and part of the trend of obnoxious quirky indies, but turns out to be an a fairly decent rom-com without too many egregious cloying cliches. We thought it was an OK effort largely due to the strong lead actors Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne, and critics seemed to think the same as it only scored a 60% RT rating.
Following that Sundance flick you have the Dardenne Bros. latest, "Lorna's Silence," that we were very eager to see, but unfortunately missed. These guys have obviously won two Palme d'Ors within the span of six years -- an impressive feat -- so expectations are vaguely high, and critics seemed to agree, that while emotional bleak, it was another gripping film by these sibling and the picture earned a very high 88% RT score. Still, its something we'd like to see if we can find the time.
In the documentary world, the pseudo-thriller, "The Cove," about the illegal dolphin/whaling industry in Japan has received very high marks with a 94% RT Rating and while our score wasn't quite that high, we did feel it was still a compelling documentary worth watching and perhaps one of the most vital documentaries of the year so far. -Joe Sedita [top image via Movieline]
A new poster for Steven Soderbergh's "The Informant" starring Matt Damon has debuted. Very cheeky riff on Saul Bass. We love it. In the picture, Matt Damon plays a bumbling and inept corporate informant who is "helping" the government bring a price-fixing case against an agricultural business giant. [Yahoo]
Eli Roth on his upcoming sci-fi epic "Endangered Species": "I'm writing the parts with certain people in mind and we'll see if they do it. Well there's this guy Brad I just worked with; it would be wonderful to work with him again. Josh Brolin, I'd love to work with him. Big fan of Josh and we admire each other's work and have been looking for something to do together. I like to write parts for the people I like and see if they're available." Pipe dreams, Eli. Pipe dreams. [io9]
Billy Crudup has jumped on board Ryan Murphy's adaptation of Elizabeth Gibert's memoirs "Eat, Pray, Love." Crudup will play the husband of Gilbert's protagonist whose hopes to have children are dashed when her quest to get pregnant leaves her feeling she is not living the life she wants which produces a journey of self-discovery around the world. Julia Robert will play Gilbert while Javier Bardem and Richard Jenkins will costar. [Variety]
"Valentine's Day," the rom-com-to-end-all-rom-coms, spiritual sequel to "He's Just Not That Into You" has added Jamie Foxx, Queen Latifah, Carter Jenkins, Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner to its cast. The quintet will join the already huge cast of Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Jennifer Garner, Shirley MacLaine, Bradley Cooper, Ashton Kutcher, Topher Grace, Emma Roberts, Hector Elizondo, Patrick Dempsey and Eric Dane. The film comes out Valentine's Day next year where males globally will be coerced into contributing to its box office success. [THR/JustJared]
A featurette on Neill Blomkamp's "District 9" with new footage has been released.
Just when you thought the "Moneyball" imbroglio was over comes news of yet another piece on the matter, this one apparently from the pages of Vanity Fair.
Will it be a typical, sycophantic, dirt-drudging article by Gene Shalit-look alike Peter Biskind? One thing's for sure, if it's a hit piece, it's not on the former director Steven Soderbergh from the sounds of it. Imagine 5,000 words on this mess? Boner and drooooool.
Here's what Jeff Wells has to say about it. Or rather, what he's heard...
A friend confides that Vanity Fair "is doing a story on the Moneyball fiasco." He doesn't know who the writer is (I'm inquiring about this now) but says he's "heard about the article from a friend who was on the project. Should be very interesting. My understanding is that the angle is pro-Soderbergh and will detail how he was screwed over. Screwed by Amy Pascal, Bryan Lourd and, yes, Brad Pitt. Soderbergh was certainly not a creative auteur run amok on the studio's dime. The email trail from Pascal to Soderbergh makes it very clear that she was fully aware of what the film was and was excited and into it until the end."You surely know where our allegiances lie with this one, but we at least hope they try for a fair and balanced piece and they're simply not shining Soderbergh's old Oscar. Then again, it'll be interesting to hear how this one all went down. Are Sony the real bad guys here? Studios generally aren't the brightest bulbs as 2009 seems to have shown all too acutely. All this news comes at the perfect time since we just got our hands on the official VF cover and oh boy, it's a good one.
You're not shocked, "Up In The Air" is going to make its world premiere at TIFF. Or at least you shouldn't be. We already put it on our TIFF predictions piece, but it felt like a no brainer.
Jason Reitman had already said he was cutting the picture with an eye towards TIFF, plus his dad, Ivan is on the board, so c'mon! They're both Canucks. Of course they're going to premiere it in Canada.
George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Jason Bateman and Anna Kendrick star in the corporate downsizing dramedy, that's scheduled to hit theaters around Christmas time, just like Reitman's "Juno" did in 2007. For more, read our in-depth, but spoiler free "Up In The Air" script review.
Other newly announced TIFF premieres include:
Jean-Pierre Jeunet's (the director of "Amelie," "Alien Resurrection" and "Delicatessen") next effort "Micmacs à tire-larigot" (a world premiere).
- Fatih Akin's comedy "Soul Kitchen" which was added to the Venice line-up this morning.
- Joe Dante’s 3D thriller "The Hole." [Find a few others at ScreenDaily, but these are the key ones you're probably interested in].
Michael Sheen's previously rumored role in "Tron Legacy" has now been confirmed by Disney's own Twitter page.
Sheen had teased fans about the role via his own twitter page noting that he was set to play an antagonist in a film that was "in fact not a person at all." Further questioning and answering between fans and Sheen eventually deducted that it was the "Tron" sequel but, until today, no official word had been put out.
"Tron Legacy" will center on Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), the tech-savvy 27-year-old son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), as he looks into his father’s disappearance and finds himself pulled into the same world of fierce programs and gladiatorial games where his father has been living for 25 years. Along with Kevin’s loyal confidant (Olivia Wilde), father and son embark on a life-and-death journey across a visually-stunning cyber universe that has become far more advanced and exceedingly dangerous.
Meanwhile, the most exciting thing to come from the sequel, a reported 24 track score from French electronic-duo Daft Punk, had it's first unveiling during Comic-Con but now here's a taste of the "Tron Legacy" theme song via a reworking by fellow French artist Cryda Luv. [LatinoReview]
Daft Punk - Tron Legacy Theme (Cryda Luv Rework)
After toiling in the world of theater and television for years, writer/director Max Meyer has finally come onto the film scene with his feature debut, "Adam," which is a simple story about a lonely electrical engineer with Asperger Syndrome who, for the first time, experiences a romantic connection with his neighbor.
The tone of the film came as somewhat of a surprise to us, since the small marketing campaign seemed to sell the film as a romantic comedy set around a series of tragic events, a la "Garden State." Though it is true that the film does carry some semblance of a romantic comedy, as the Asperger Syndrome inflicted protagonist, Adam, struggles to interact with his new neighbor Beth, who happens to be a beautiful, aspiring child literature author (played by Rose Byrne), the film does initially result in a good amount of awkward-moment humor, but as a whole is a somewhat depressing look into the daily hardships of those with Asperger syndrome and those that love them.
Spoiler Alert-Some Plot Details Exposed: When we first meet Adam,who is played wonderfully by British actor Hugh Dancy in his first non-heart throb role, he is returning from what we presume to be his father's funeral while we follow him as he struggles to adjust to the foreign idea of life on his own. As this slow-paced first act rolls along, we slowly pick up information about Adam's backstory, not to mention the presence of a cute young girl moving into his apartment building. As Beth, who is unaware of Adams situation, attempts to flirt with Adam, who does not reciprocate the flirtatious banter because he simply not understand the concept, she becomes more and more discouraged by Adam's lack of interest.
After being laid off from his job as an electrical engineer for a toy company, Adam, whose intelligence lies somewhere on the genius spectrum, gets an interview for a job dealing with his true love, astronomy. When he hints that he usually implodes under the high pressure interactions of job interviews, Beth tenderly "coaches" Adam on how to act and react in an interview setting, literally instructing him on how to recreate emotions. These touching sequences really underline the "nurse" role that Beth undertakes in order to date Adam, and is also really where the film finds its rhythm.
Following a particularly violent outburst by Adam, Beth abandons him and retreats to her parents home in Westchester to be with her father in his last few free days. What follows is a touching scene where Adam, who has never left New York City on his own, treks up to Westchester to apologize to Beth and winds up instigating an intense confrontation between Beth and her father. After the fight, Adam reveals he has received an offer for the job of his dreams in California, but needs Beth to move with him. Initially agreeing to make the move, Beth begins to doubt her decision and crumbles under the pressure of her "babysitter" role. This is where the film really departs from the usual conventions of the romantic genre, as Beth decides she cannot stay with Adam, who surprisingly makes the decision to move anyway. The film picks up a year later as Adam, sans Beth is flourishing as an engineer working in an observatory.
To see someone like Adam finally connect with someone, then have it all go slowly wrong, was not exactly an easy thing to watch and the pace of the first half was a tad slow, but we have a hard time faulting someone for not pulling punches and painting a realistic portrait of lonely life. We must say that the ending, despite the fact Adams ends up alone, was somehow more uplifting than when he was in the midst of his relationship. Even though it was a feature debut, Mayer's film feels mature while his minimalistic directorial style lets the characters move freely in the frame, giving "Adam" an extremely natural setting, letting the audience feel as if they were watching actual people suffer through the events, forcing them to go along with the perpetual ups and downs of "Adam." [B]
Coming off his critically acclaimed performance in Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker," Jeremy Renner is now in talks to join Ben Affleck's Boston-based "The Town" which is being billed as a "romantic crime thriller."
Renner will play the "doomed" (umm, spoiler?!) best friend of Affleck's protagonist and member of the criminal gang whose actions drive the story based on Chuck Hogan's novel "Prince Of Thieves."
Renner's potential addition follows that of Rebecca Hall and Jon Hamm who recently jumped on board as a bank manager love interest of Affleck's and as the FBI agent after the criminal gang who also has romantic interests with Hall. Nice round up of actors Affleck has here - this could be something.
Filming for "The Town" begins in September. [THR]
Danish director Ole Christian Madsen certainly threw subtlety to the wind in making his World War II revenge epic,"Flame & Citron." The film, which chronicles the murderous exploits of two famous Danish resistance fighters, boldly walks the line between historical period piece and a action-packed graphic-novel.
Danish actors Thure Lindhardt ("Into the Wild") and Mads Mikkelsen ("Casino Royal") play the fabled citizens turned assassin team of Bent Faurschou-Hivid and Jorgen Haagen Schmith, known simply as Flame and Citron, while actress Stine Stengade plays the seductive double-agent Ketty Selmer.
Beginning with grainy footage of Germany marching into Copenhagen accompanied by an ominous voice-over by the protagonist, Flame, the film doesn't focus on the specifics of the Occupation, or even the atrocities of the fascist invaders, only the rage felt by the few citizens who find the sight of their country being overrun sickening. We are introduced to the two famous Danish assassins as they carry out an execution of a traitor to the Danish resistance, ordered by their shadowy bosses who claim to be operating on direct orders from mysterious sources in the British government.
After the hit we see Flame become enamoured with an unknown woman who may be an agent for his side, the Germans or both. At this point the action suddenly shifts from the gestapo filled streets of Copenhagen to dark basements, red-tinted hotel rooms and crowded bars as we attempt to unravel the plot that becomes increasingly twisted as Flame begins to realize his dispatcher may have less-than-noble intentions in his selection of targets and that the mysterious femme fatale he is involved with may be turning into a sinister acquaintance.
In the midst of this moral confusion, Flame's murderous obsession with Hoffman, the chief of the Gestapo, who is played by German actor Christian Berkel, also in "Inglorious Basterds," grows, creating a rift with his higher-ups, who insist the general must be immune from any assassination attempts.
If Andrzej Wajda's 1958 film about a Polish, morally confused young resistance fighter "Ashes and Diamonds" is on the realistic end of the war movie spectrum then "Flame & Citron" could almost be classified as a fantasy, a sensationalizing of the actual events told in lurid detail. This is a world where high intensity shootouts occur without mass causalities, our heroes, despite being the most wanted men in their country do little to disguise themselves (the most Flame does to mask his distinctive red hair is wear a fashionable beret once and while). To a certain extent, it embraces the post-modern Tarantino-school of cinema, aware of its own status as a film, not a retelling of events as they actually happened, becoming a gigantic reference to those who came before it.
While the story, for the most part, is riveting and does do a fantastic job of documenting the personal torment felt by the two men over their morally questionable acts, it seems as though it stretched itself too thin, attempted to cover too much ground while not rooting itself firmly enough in one place. Not that anyone will really notice, since cinematographer's Jorgen Johansson's stunning photography steals the show. His stylized vision doesn't attempt to recreate wartime Denmark, instead it embellishes its dark, rich colors, using the once beautiful cityscape turned war zone as a symbol for loss felt by the loyal Danes.
"Flame and Citron," despite its overly-stretched plot has a solid story, taut suspense and breath-taking visuals to go along moral confusion of the main characters, leaving the audience with, if nothing else, a highly interesting and ascetically pleasing view of a war torn nation. [B+]
"Flame & Citron' opens Friday, July 31 at the Lincoln Plaza and Sunshine Cinemas in New York.