"Precious" walked away with Best Feature, Best Director as well as statues for both Gabourey Sidibe and Mo'nique at last night's 25th annual Independent Spirit Awards. As the title implies, the awards exclusively celebrate independent filmmaking, and as per tradition, the ceremony falls right before the Oscars. So what bearing will this have on Sunday? Absolutely none, but it does mark the last hurrah before Sunday's nights festivities.
We weren't fans of "Precious," but both Sidibe and Mo'nique deserved their wins as their performances were spellbinding and kept the film anchored even as Lee Daniels flailed about with his direction. We're also pleased to see "A Serious Man" take away the Robert Altman Award and a cinematography win for Roger Deakins; it's a film that really deserved much more love (particularly for lead actor Michael Stuhlbarg) this awards season. It was also nice to see Sacha Gervasi's "Anvil! The Story of Anvil" get some love in the Best Documentary category as his film was tremendously deserving, but somehow was snubbed by the Oscars.
Here is the full list of winners:
BEST FEATURE (Award given to the Producer)
Lee Daniels, Precious
BEST FIRST FEATURE (Award given to the director and producer)
Scott, Cooper, Crazy Heart
JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD
(Given to the best feature made for under $500,000; award given to the writer, director, and producer)
Lynn Shelton, Humpday
Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, 500 Days of Summer
BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious
BEST FEMALE LEAD
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
BEST MALE LEAD
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Roger Deakins, A Serious Man
BEST DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director)
Sacha Gervasi, Anvil! The Story of Anvil
BEST FOREIGN FILM (Award given to the director)
Lone Scherfig, An Education
ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD
(Given to one film’s director, casting director, and its ensemble cast)
“A Serious Man”
Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Casting Directors: Ellen Chenoweth, Rachel Tenner
Cast: Richard Kind, Sari Lennick, Jessica McManus, Michael Stuhlbarg, Aaron Wolff
PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD
Karen Chien (“The Exploding Girl” & “Santa Mesa”)
SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
Kyle Patrick Alvarez (“Easier with Practice”)
TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
Bill Ross & Turner Ross (“45365”)
"Precious" walked away with Best Feature, Best Director as well as statues for both Gabourey Sidibe and Mo'nique at last night's 25th annual Independent Spirit Awards. As the title implies, the awards exclusively celebrate independent filmmaking, and as per tradition, the ceremony falls right before the Oscars. So what bearing will this have on Sunday? Absolutely none, but it does mark the last hurrah before Sunday's nights festivities.
As Hollywood gears up for their biggest night of self-congratulation, that also happens to celebrate their finest achievements over the past year, they wasted no time in closing off the week by reminding us that, for the most part, great ideas are few and far between in LaLaLand. Late yesterday we learned that, inexplicably, a sequel to Robert De Niro's 1989 comedy "Midnight Run" was in the works, and though we're only getting to it this morning two more pointless reboots are on their way as well.
Over at Paramount, Stephen King's "Pet Sematary" is being brought back to life (ha ha). For those of you who may not remember, King's 1983 novel is about "a family that trades the city life for the country life in Maine, then discovers that they have moved near a pet cemetery that rests on an ancient burial ground. When the husband’s toddler son is killed in an auto accident, the father takes the boy’s body to the cemetery, where it is resurrected in demonic form." As ridiculous as that sounds, it was made into a movie in 1989 largely with a cast unknowns that is perhaps only notable for The Ramones terrible-but-sort-of-endearing title track song (see video below).
Anyhow, apparently a reboot has been in the works for a while and at one point had (we're guessing a very drunken and desperate) George Clooney circling the project. Thankfully, he's moved on but the project has been given new life as Matthew Greenberg, who adapted King's story "1408" is on board to write this new version.
Meanwhile, over at New Line, they're looking to bring "Police Academy" back for a whole new generation of viewers who want to waste their money. We're sure we don't have to remind you about the original movie that spawned a seven film series, but original producer Paul Maslansky, is hoping to capture the audience that watched the TV series, "It's going to be very worthwhile to the people who remember it and to those who saw it on TV. It's going to be a new class. We hope to discover new talent and season it with great comedians. It'll be anything but another movie with a numeral next to it. And we'll most probably retain the wonderful musical theme." Wait, there was a TV series? Good luck with this one Paul.
Polish composer Abel Korzeniowski has replaced Owen Pallett for the score of John Mitchell Cameron's upcoming drama "Rabbit Hole" according to MovieScore.
Final Fantasy mastermind and infrequent Arcade Fire member Pallett previously revealed he had been completing work for the film but, due to to prior scheduling with touring for his new album Heartland, would have to leave his work incomplete in the hands of producers to decide its future.
Unfortunately for Pallett, Korzeniowski has been recruited to score the film after making a name for himself with the moving and emotional score for Tom Ford's "A Single Man" that featured on our Best Of Soundtracks & Scores list of 2009 and received a Golden Globe nomination.
As disappointed as we are to miss out on hearing what Pallett created, Korzeniowski is more than suitable replacement with the themes of Cameron's film not dissimilar to that of "A Single Man."
"Rabbit Hole" stars Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart as a young couple trying to cope with the accidental death of their young son in what Cameron described as an anti-Hollywood production. David Lindsay-Abaire adapted the film from his own play with some plaudits already earmarking the film as a potential 2010 award season contender.
Fox Searchlight will likely release the film in the fall. It will be interesting to see if Korzeniowski incorporates any of Pallet's themes or direct pieces into the film or if the material he had written so far is simply scrapped.
It's been a while since we've heard from Don Cheadle's Miles Davis biopic but in an interview with Parade, the actor provided updates on the project previously described as a "cradle-to-grave, historically accurate depiction of who he was" rather than a traditional biopic.
"It's been a long time coming, but we're working on the script right now," the actor added. "I think it will happen. I love Miles, but you have to take everything he says with a grain of salt. He would tell a long story, and someone would go, 'That's amazing. Did that happen?' He'd reply, 'I don't f—ing know. You figure it out.' He wasn't interested in what you thought about him. He was like, 'I'm about the music. Deal with that.' Capturing the essence of that man is a challenge."
A separate interview from YRB -- with Erin Davis and Vince Wilburn Jr. (Davis' son and nephew) -- further expands on the development on the long-gestating project.
"We're in the process of OK'ing the script with a new writer," Wilburn Jr. notes. "Don didn't like the other writer that was attached to the movie, so there's a new writer named Steven Vegelman that Don's writing with. Once is the script is OK'd by the family, then we go into production."
Wilburn Jr. also interestingly adds that legendary jazz pianist, "Herbie Hancock's going to score it." Hancock involvement makes a lot sense though — the iconic musician was part of the Miles Davis Quintet after being personally recruited by Davis who saw his great potential. The two then developed a fruitful collaborative relationship which began with 1963's Seven Steps To Heaven and continued on for many years to come. Cheadle, himself an accomplished jazz saxophonist, would also have the connections and know-how when it came to the musical side of a film on Davis.
Cheadle's reported honest, accurate depiction of the often enigmatic jazz legend sounds like it's big and attractive enough to get off its feet but who honestly knows these days. Either way, it does sound like it's not too far off, but it all likely depends on financing. [MilesDavis]
Despite the acclaimed "Garden State" which saw the multi-hyphenate write, direct and star, Zach Braff's ventures into feature filmmaking have thus far been few and far between. The actor, however, will now star in Deborah Chow's upcoming dark indie drama "The High Cost Of Living."
The film's story is put into motion when a hit and run incident sees an eight-month pregnant woman, Nathalie, lose her baby while the intoxicated young male responsible, Henry, flees the scene of the crime in order to save himself from police prosecution. However fates align and the two soon coincidentally stumble upon each other though both remain blissfully unaware of the other's role in the accident. What transpires is the unlikely relationship between the two and their parallel confrontation of loss, and whether the cost of living is worth the price.
The project came together through the Kodak New Vision Mentorship program in Canada under the guidance of acclaimed director Patricia Rozema with the film's first act having already been shot and showcased. Chow will now expand, and in a way remake, the project as a feature length film with Braff, Isabelle Blais ("The Barbarian Invasions") and Patrick Labbé starring. Filming is currently taking in Montreal with an eye on a TIFF world premiere.
Braff also has an English language remake of the Danish film "Open Hearts" by Susanne Bier in the works (though its been years since we've heard and anything about it) and his next directorial effort is supposed to be the Black List rom-com "Swingles" which has Cameron Diaz attached to star opposite the director/actor, but no movement seems to have been made yet.
Even though "Cop Out" was critically reviled, it did passable box office numbers, and will undoubtedly turn a profit, meaning that Hollywood wants more Tracy Morgan.
Deadline reports that both Warner Bros. and Paramount have the "30 Rock" star attached to some new comedies. For WB, Morgan is set to star in "ID Theft" where he will play "a cash-strapped father who sees a shortcut out of his struggles when the credit card of a suburban dad lands in his lap." The script is by SNL writers Rob Klein and Colin Jost, which means the first hour will be mildly amusing, while the last half hour will be dreadful. Over at Paramount, Morgan has "Freshman Roommates" in the works, and while plot details are not available at this time, we're pretty sure we can guess what happens in that one. "Blades Of Glory" writers John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky are in talks to write the next draft.
Frankly, both of these films sound tedious; we've heard Morgan's "30 Rock" alter ego Tracy Jordan spout off better ideas than these. That said, it doesn't seem like Morgan is ready to deviate from his carefully honed act of throwing-random-words-together-and-saying-them-very-loudly which he has milked very successfully until now. We think Morgan is a funny guy, but he seems to be going the safest, and therefore, dullest route. Hopefully, these won't "Corky Romano" his film career.
It seems the aging, creaky wheels on the sequel that nobody is asking for to "Midnight Run" are moving forward.
Back in January it was announced that "Midnight Run 2" was in "mid-development," but it appears Universal has given the production a boot in the pants as Deadline reports Tim Dowling ("Role Models" and the forthcoming Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston comedy "Just Go With It") has been brought aboard to write the script. Robert De Niro, who is also producing, is confirmed to be reprising his role as Jack Walsh, an LA-based bounty hunter. The actor, who will be turning 67 this year, won't be chasing down Charles Grodin this time around as he's wisely moved on, pretty much retired from acting and is now a news anchor.
De Niro films "Dark Fields" with Bradley Cooper in May, and will be seen in "Machete" and the still untitled "Meet The Fockers" sequel later this year. God, we really hope "I Heard You Paint Houses" with Martin Scorsese happens soon.
Sure, there are always curve balls, surprises and whatnot, but if you pay a modicum of attention you should be able to guess at least 17 out of 24 picks correctly.
The season obviously changes and films fall in and out of favor, so there's really no point in making several predictions during the year. You'll recall at one point "Precious" had a lot of heat, so did "Up In The Air," along with its star George Clooney and director Jason Reitman. Films always surge and then their Oscar buzz dies down or goes up; it's simply always ebbing and flowing (see "Avatar" and the more recent "Inglourious Basterds").
Either way, like every year, we just wanted to put our picks down for posterity. Here's how we think the night will go down.
In case you forget, here are all the nominations in full.
Who will win: “The Hurt Locker” — The "Lockergate" fiasco will backfire, the Academy voting branch will see it for what it is, a smear campaign, and the members will vote on the quality of the film
Who should win: “The Hurt Locker” — It's a remarkable piece of work and compared to all the other nominees, it's the only film in the final 10 that feels like it is deserving of a Best Picture. It has a weight and import to it.
Nice Try: Harvey Weinstein, at least you can still move the needle and are probably good at character assassination pieces that might help your film. 'Inglourious' will not take it, sorry.
Who will win: Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker” — The first female ever, who made a kick-ass, intense film that is replete with action, but has miles more depth than the average action picture? Hell, yes.
Who Should Win: Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker” — No one wants to see James Cameron up there again.
Who will win: Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart” — He's been nominated four times before and has never won. It's his achievement award and he deserves it.
Who Should Win: Colin Firth for “A Single Man” or Jeremy Renner for “The Hurt Locker” — However, it's not necessarily his best performance ever and Renner and particularly Firth truly blew us away. Alas, it will certainly not happen.
Who Will Win: Sandra Bullock, “The Blind Side” — She has SAG, Globes, all the pre-awards on her side. The mathematical statistics are on her side.
Who Should Win: Carey Mulligan, “An Education” — A stunning and wonderful performance that announces a newcomer that will undoubtedly be up at the podium again.
Who Should Have Been Nominated Instead of Bullock: Abbie Cornish, "Bright Star" — Nope, we're still not over that snub, but seriously, it's a terrific performance, flush with emotions that you feel in your gut on a visceral level.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Who Will Win: Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds” — There's absolutely no stopping this win. He's a shoo-in and it is a pretty solid performance if a little too queeny for our taste sometimes.
Who Should Win: Woody Harrelson, “The Messenger” — Harrelson's tightly wound and psychically damaged solider was better, frankly.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Who Will Win: Mo'Nique, “Precious” — She's a beast in this picture; a force of nature, but she saves this exploitative and garish movie from being a total waste of time.
Who Should Win: Monique, “Precious” — See above.
In 1972, Aretha Franklin (whose gestating biopic seems to have made no progress) recorded her best selling album (and arguably the best selling gospel album of all time) "Amazing Grace" at the New Temple Missionary Church in Los Angeles. Director Sydney Pollack also happened to be there with a four-man camera crew capturing the sessions for a still-unreleased documentary.
The film was apparently going to originally be released as a double feature with "Superfly," but Warner Bros.' was never quite sure how to release or market the film and ended up not doing anything, leaving it to sit in their vaults. After 38 years, producer/musician Alan Elliott has taken on the reins of the project from the late Pollack and will be releasing the film sometime this year, according to Variety. The film will still be credited as "a film by Sydney Pollack."
But this is not the first time that someone has attempted to give the film a revival. Pollack tried to come back to the project numerous times throughout his career without success and only ever got a small part of it shown on a 1988 BBC documentary.
The film has no theatrical or DVD release date yet, but a trailer has hit the web (see below). We've done some cursory Google searches and it appears that this is being labeled as the trailer for the DVD. But we'll have to wait for more details to arrive.
After being drained from directing the box-office smash "Twilight: New Moon," rumors circulated that Chris Weitz was going to retire, but he quickly quashed those by quietly setting up his next film, the low-key drama "The Gardener."
Not much has been heard about the project, but Weitz has been busy, as Deadline reports he's cast the film and will start shooting next month in Los Angeles. Demian Birchir (who played Fidel Castro in "Che") is set to take the title role in the film, which Weitz's describes as being about "...an undocumented immigrant who gets the chance to buy a truck and equipment to raise his family out of poverty, and how things go right and wrong from there.” Weitz, further describes the film as "....an Italian neo-realist movie with a contemporary feel. I wanted to return to making films with no green screen required, not that there's anything wrong with those.”
Actually, it sounds pretty interesting, and something he's definitely excited about so we'll keep our eye on it. As for the rumors that Weitz might return to film the fourth and fifth films of the Twilight saga, "Breaking Dawn," it pretty much looks like that's not going to happen. Speaking with HitFix he says, "I think that for some rather dull reasons it probably won't happen, but that's because of my family and what I owe them having done two big epic-y films and I get to make 'The Gardener' in LA. But [to do that after 'New Moon'] I think my mind would explode."
After the energy drain of "New Moon" and the clusterfuck of "The Golden Compass," we're pretty sure Weitz is not so eager to return to the world of franchise films for a while.
File this under rumor if you like, but the buzz and noise about this has become too deafening to ignore.
It all started in the comments section of our script review of Paul Thomas Anderson's gestating and untitled Scientology project, called the "The Master" in some circles for shorthand. We posited that Paul Dano might be a good fit for Freddie, a young, naive, misguided and semi-alcoholic youth in his '20s who slowly becomes mentored by The Master (Philip Seymour Hoffman has this role according to Variety). Some readers took that to believe we had some sort of inside information there, and things began to snowball.
In the comments section an Anon says "when was Paul Dano confirmed to be in this??" which is followed up by another Anon post, "I don't think he was/is. Everything I've heard is that an offer is out to Jeremy Renner." We normally wouldn't pay attention to this, but right around the same time, Jeremy Renner revealed to the NY Times that he had taken five meetings already on a "secret project" he was unable to talk about. We took pause at that, but Movieline and Cinematical definitely started to speculate, pointed to our comments section and lo and behold the rumor began taking some real shape.
It's been two weeks now, and the rumors have been quietly, but substantially persisting. An Anon poster on IMDB says what we too have heard: that Renner has met with Paul Thomas Anderson several times, but that Anderson is not convinced that Renner is right for the role. Age is the factor here, as Freddie is supposed to be in his '20s, and Renner is 39. And yes, they note our comments section could have just spiraled this out of control, but we've heard this from a number of different sources and are frankly surprised someone like Deadline hasn't caught wind of it yet. Furthermore, a source in L.A. confirms to us that Renner has met with Anderson, but cannot say more.
It could all add up to nothing, but our gut tells us this is something that we shouldn't ignore. We're also betting if he doesn't get the role — in our minds, as much as we love him, he probably shouldn't, he is too old for it— it will at least come out after the fact that he was in the running.
But, as the script that has circulated for "The Master" is still a very early draft, some may wonder if Anderson might rework the role, aging the character slightly to match the 39 year-old Renner. We think that it's a slight possibility, but pretty much doubt it will happen. Freddie is a lost soul on the run, who needs a bit of guidance which makes it far easier for him to come under The Master's spell. And while a cult figure like The Master can weave his spell on anyone, of any age that has fallen on hard times, in a film, it's probably a much easier and more dramatic sell if that character is younger. Simply put, we don't see Freddie being rewritten as older. It could work, we suppose, but we like the way it was written. It feels right.
Aside from The Master and Freddie, the other major characters are the Master's fiercely protective daughters and that's about it. There is a minor role of The Master's son, but it's so small, we don't see Renner being interested.
The only other possibility, is that Philip Seymour Hoffman is out and that Renner is eyeing the lead role, but again, we highly doubt that. The role is written for someone who already has adult children in their '20s and '30s and while Hoffman is only a few years older than Renner, he can play older a lot more convincingly.
As Renner said to the New York Times, a decision will need to be made soon as he's also eyeing a role in Peter Berg's "Battleship" and both films are aiming for summer shoots. That said, as far as we know, Anderson's film is still awaiting a greenlight from Universal, who will need to approve the finished script, so its possible that "The Master" might start at a later date depending on when all the pieces fall into place.
So yes, consider this rumor now if you like, but expect to hear some kind of news soon. Update: The London Times says he's "close to announcing that he will star alongside Philip Seymour Hoffman in the new, as yet untitled Paul Thomas Anderson film."
Like we said, file it under rumor if it makes you feel better, but discussions are happening.
From their beginnings as lo-fi psychedelia experimenters, it's unlikely that The Apples In Stereo would have ever imagined working with Frodo Baggins.
The Denver sextet, known also as a part of the Athens, Georgia based Elephant 6 Collective, revealed that in support of their upcoming album "Travelers in Space and Time," they would be producing a short film entitled "Exploring The Universe with Elijah Wood." The film stars Elijah Wood and Apples frontman Robert Schneider as alternate versions of themselves. In this alternate reality, Wood plays the chair of the fictional Drain Creek Middle School Department of Physical Science and Physical Education and Schneider as a guest physicist. The short (which you can watch below) plays out as a Tim & Eric-esque cable access presentation of pseudoscience. You can even see a fake press release for the film here.
Wood is a known music buff. He shot scenes (later excised) for The Flaming Lips movie "Christmas On Mars," and was at one point attached to play Iggy Pop in a biopic, so it comes as no huge surprise that he chose to make an appearance in a weird little project such as this one.
On the website launched to promote the album (which you can step through the portal to), the video is numbered, so we can assume there's more science wackiness with Wood and Schneider to come. The Apples In Stereo will release 'Travellers' on April 20th and tour in support of it.
'Enter The Void' To Hit Theaters & OnDemand In Sept; IFC Films To Also Release New Clair Denis & Christopher Honore Films
OK, we know that Gaspar Noé's experimental and surrealist, mindbender "Enter The Void" is coming out via IFC Films sometime this year, but when?
The film has been called everything from disaster to masterpiece, but we're still dying to see it, cause we're suckers for punishment or whatever. But c'mon, like Lars Von Trier, Noé is an enfante terrible and extremist, but his brutal films ("I Stand Alone," "Irreversible"), must be seen, regardless if they're successful or not. Someone like Noé must keep making films frankly.
So we asked and IFC Films tells us that the wait will unfortunately continue for a few months. "Enter The Void" won't hit theaters or VOD until September. However, the film will be playing at the SXSW Film Festival next week.
A few other films IFC will be releasing this year — already tipped off by a BAM retrospective — and now confirmed to us, include Clair Denis' African-set, "White Material" starring Isabelle Huppert, Isaach de Bankolé and Christopher Lambert. That film — which we saw at the NYFF last year — centers on a obdurate matriarch who refuses to leave her family's coffee plantation in Africa during a Darfur-like genocide and civil war. There's no date on this one yet, but IFC Films will release it later this year and it's a good fit for them. Denis' last film, "35 Shots of Rum" was released by an even smaller indie and basically came and went unless you lived in New York or L.A. which was a crying shame (this writer named it his #2 film of 2009).
Also an IFC Film for late spring/early summer is Christopher Honore's next picture, "Making Plans for Lena" which stars Chiara Mastroianni (daughter of Marcello Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve, how about them genes) as a French single mom who returns to her parents' home after splitting up with her husband.
Also an amazing side note, did you know that Gaspar Noé not only saw and loved "Avatar," but that he was so moved he actually cried during the movie? "I cried when the tree caught fire," he told OregonLive during Sundance. "It was something I never saw before. It was like when I saw the parting of the Red Sea in 'The Ten Commandments' when I was 10 years old. And then I cried when they were in the jungle and everything was glowing and it was just this beautiful imaginary world."
Man, now we've heard everything. To cleanse yourself of that thought, you can watch the opening epilepsy-inducing credits to "Enter The Void." Once you peel yourself off the floor, you'll probably forget all of this. Who did that crazy techno theme? Why none other than Daft Punk's Thomas Bangalter, who of course scored the entire nightmarish film (the full song below the credits, complete with some new images from the film). Also below, a French-language trailer for "White Material" which doesn't have subtitles, but reveals some of the Tindersticks score and should give you a feel for the film, which is actually quite dark, moody and ominous.
So we've already revealed the soundtrack details to "The Runaways" and the fact that Dakota Fanning herself (who plays lead singer Cherie Currie), sings four tracks on the CD (and presumably in the movie as well), including, “Cherry Bomb,” “California Paradise” plus “Queens of Noise” and “Dead End Justice." Kristen Stewart joins her on the tracks, as she obviously plays Joan Jett in the picture.
And now Vulture have dug up a “Cherry Bomb” leak on YouTube. They call it a butchering, but it honestly doesn't sound terrible per se and to be completely honest, we've heard worse. Ok, Fanning sounds a little weird in the verses when she says kewl and bloooose (blues), but it really could have been far more disastrous.
It sounds like you might expect: a modern, but pretty decent approximation/ facsimile of the original (which you can hear here).
Put it this way, we're generally predisposed to being easily embarrassed by these kinds of re-dos, but this version only makes us slightly cringe rather than jump overboard or scream in outrage. We mean, they're teenage actors; they did a decent job all things considered. And it's not like the original Runaways were the most super talented bunch of musicians in the first place (but sure, they had attitude and spunk in spades).
The film also stars Scout Taylor-Compton as Lita Ford, Stella Maeve as Sandy West, Alia Shawkat as a fictionalized composite of the band's many bass players named Robin and Michael Shannon as the band's exploitative manager, Kim Fowley.
Collider also has the new poster (guess the Cherry one with the fuse was too vague for some audiences) and some new images, which you can see here. "The Runaways," will open on March 19th in semi-limited release (220 screens in ten cities) then go wider April 9, when it will be upped to another 1000 screens. Here's the newest trailer.
Man, it's a slow one this weekend.
Tim Burton and Johnny Depp's latest mashup "Alice In Wonderland" explodes onto 3D screens across the country in what should be a huge opening weekend. Perhaps no one wanted to compete against the 3D (sorry 2D-upped to 3D) craze. "Avatar" certainly proved that audiences at-large love nothing more than a spectacle and "Alice" is tracking almost as strong as James Cameron's film just prior to it's release. It should easily top "Valentine's Day" for the biggest opening of 2010 so far. With "Shutter Island" inching closer to the $100 million mark, "Brooklyn's Finest" will try to corner the adult drama crowd, but weak reviews could stop it from really taking off. Not much happening in the art-house world this weekend, but there is plenty out there to check out from previous weeks, so please patronize your local cinemas.
In Wide Release: Tim Burton once was once known as one of the most original voices working in Hollywood. But ever since his "Planet of the Apes" remake, he has seemed content to make films out of already established properties instead of bringing something fresh to the table. Yet, fans who grew up on his best work in the 90's keep returning, film after film, hoping for a return to form for a director who increasingly acts like he's working on autopilot. The trend continues this weekend with "Alice In Wonderland," a big-budget adaptation of the Lewis Carroll classic starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham-Carter, Anne Hathaway and Mia Wasikowska as Alice. We reviewed the movie earlier this week, finding it to be, as expected, another wasted opportunity for the Burton/Depp twosome. Rotten Tomatoes tracks the movie with a 53% rating, while Metacritic is close with a 55 score.
"Training Day" director Antoine Fuqua returns to territory with the cop drama "Brooklyn's Finest." The film marks Wesley Snipes' return to movies that actually get a theatrical release as he stars alongside Richard Gere, Don Cheadle and Ethan Hawke. The story follows three unconnected officers on vastly different career paths in Brooklyn who are brought together by a massive drug operation. After a string of misses like "Shooter" and "Tears of the Sun," we were beginning to wonder if the strength of "Training Day" can be credited more to the performances and screenplay, which had memorable dialogue to spare. We got a chance to see "Finest" and we're pleasantly surprised to find it somewhat of a return to form for the director, even if the script is cliched and lacking in places. RT has the movie at 31%, with a 40 score from Metacritic.
In Limited Release: Damon Wayans adds some star power to the indie drama "Harlem Aria," the story of of a mentally challenged boy from Harlem who dreams of becoming a great opera singer. Considering the film premiered at Toronto almost 10 years ago, we wouldn't expect too much from this one. The critics agree with a 0% rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Stay home and catch "Major Payne" on cable. The documentary, "Harlan: In the Shadow of Jew Suss" is getting good buzz with an 89% RT score. It's a pretty fascinating subject and focuses on the children and grandchildren of Veit Harlan — the director of the infamous Nazi propaganda film, "Jew Suss" made under Jospeh Goebbels — who are still around to consider his notorious legacy.
The animated film, "The Secret of Kells" doesn't hit in limited release until next weekend, but we reviewed it early as it is an animated Oscar nominee this weekend. We gave it high marks and called it a "feast" for fans of serious animation. It sits right now on RT with a very high 93% score.
Tom Hanks has revealed to Time that he has acquired the rights to Vincent Bugliosi's massive 1612 page tome, "Reclaiming History: The Assassination Of President John F. Kennedy." The book, which made waves when it was released in 2007, is an exhaustively researched argument that posits that there was no conspiracy in the JFK assassination, and that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman.
No matter how authoritative the argument, the JFK assassination (and the subsequent assassination of his brother) will never be completely settled in the American mindset. Hanks aims to do that though in an adaptation (a documentary mini-series would be a safe bet) he hopes to air on TV in 2013, "We're going to do the American public a service," Hanks says. "A lot of conspiracy types are going to be upset. If we do it right, it'll be perhaps one of the most controversial things that has ever been on TV."
He's certainly not wrong there. The JFK assassination has spawned reams of books, countless films (most notably, Oliver Stone's "JFK") and continues to fascinate. Hanks' forthcoming project will certainly add a considerable dimension to the ongoing debate.
Back in December, it was announced that Steve Carell was attached to an untitled comedy to be helmed by John Requa and Glenn Ficarra, the writing and directing team behind "I Love You Phillip Morris" and written by Dan Fogelman ("Bolt," "Cars," "Fred Claus"). The film is about "a father whose life unravels as he faces a marital crisis and tries to manage his relationship with his children."
You would think the last name that might be attached to this would be Ryan Gosling, but according to the fluffy gossip site LaineyGossip (who have a pretty good track record of breaking news like this), Gosling is "signed on" to the film. We're a bit surprised, and kind of excited to see Gosling potentially go toe-to-toe with Carell. We wonder what role he'll play in the film....perhaps a grown-up child of the father trying to get his life back on track? Guess we'll have to wait and see.
No word on when production on this is set to start, but both Gosling and Carell have new movies hitting this year in "Blue Valentine" for Gosling and "Date Night" and "Dinner For Schmucks" for Carell.
Updated: Variety confirms this report and notes that the project is now set up at Warner Bros.
We were disappointed with Will Gregory and Alison Goldfrapp's score for "Nowhere Boy," but Gregory's work on Pawel Pawlikowski's "My Summer of Love" is rather wonderful. Now, Pitchfork are reporting that he'll be teaming with Portishead member Adrian Utley on a new score for Carl Theodor Dreyer's 1928 classic "The Passion of Joan of Arc."
The pair previously collaborated on a score for the 1999 Northern Irish crime thriller "Accelerator," and Utley also composed music for the Stellan Skasgard/Charlotte Rampling film "Signs & Wonders." The piece will feature six guitarists, singers from the Monteverdi choir, percussionists and horn and keyboard players, and will be premiered at a screening of the film at the Colston Hall in Bristol on May 7th. Tickets aren't yet on sale, but we urge any local readers to check it out. For anyone else, hopefully the score will get a release at some point (fingers crossed maybe on a new Blu-Ray of the film. Criterion, are you listening?...), but there's no official word on this yet.
The success of Pixar's early CGI films inspired every other studio in town to blindly greenlight endless terrible CGI animations, ignoring the fact that those films worked, and connected, because they put time into the story and characters, whereas the likes of say, "Open Season," um, didn't. Similarly, the two billion dollar success of "Avatar" has already accelerated the desire to put every tentpole in three dimensions, ignoring the fact that it proved so successful because 1) it found a genuine sense of awe and wonder missing in most big movies of the last few years and because 2) people, for whatever reason, connected with the story.
Nevertheless, the me-toos keep coming - yesterday saw the announcement that "Green Lantern" and "Sucker Punch" will both get 3D releases, and today brings a report that the "Alien" prequel that Ridley Scott is currently prepping will be shot in 3D. Site Shadowlocked (via Slashfilm) spoke to Roger Christian, the art director of the original film in the series, who said that he's spoken to the director, and that "Ridley's doing the next "Alien" in 3D."
Christian's hoping to be hired for the project, and said that "Ridley told me some of his ideas when we were here in Toronto. He has a very clear understanding of where this should go. They kind of stopped dead one of the greatest horror franchises there's ever been, and it had legs to go on. So I'm hoping he'll revive another three. The world certainly wants it, and the fans want it - everybody."
To repeat what we've said before, we're not sure we want this one, really. We're pleased Scott is directing, but H.R. Giger's creatures are terrifying in the first film, because you know nothing about them, and a prequel, as the film's rumored to be, risks over-explaining the beast. The 3D element, if true, doesn't exactly convince us that it's anything except a cash grab. We'll see in a month or so how keen the studio bean-counters continue to be on the 3D revolution when "How To Train Your Dragon" and "Clash of the Titans" cannibalize each other's screens, but we imagine there's enough people out there that want to see facehuggers literally in their faces.
As if we couldn't be less excited for the omg-little-kids-fighting-and-swearing movie "Kick Ass," now comes word that UK pop singer Mika has penned the title track that will be used in the film.
We suppose the choice makes sense. After all, "Kick Ass" is a parody of superhero conventions while Mika is a parody of an actual musician. The track is produced by RedOne who, according to Mika's website, is "the man behind loads of recent hits for Lady Gaga and Akon" so you know it's going to be good.
The soundtrack will hit stores in the UK on March 29th via Polydor and the song will also be Mika's next single. There is no word on the North American release date for the soundtrack at this time. The film hits theaters on April 16th.
Danny Elfman is to set to reteam (via Collider) with director Gus Van Sant, penning the score to the forthcoming "Restless" (yes, we know the film became untitled last year, but that's how Elfman referred to it, so perhaps its back in?).
Elfman, who was spoofed in a fairly spot on parody we posted yesterday, has worked on Van Sant's previous big studio films including "To Die For," "Milk," "Psycho" and "Good Will Hunting" (all of them being some of his better work in the last two decades). His hiring here continues the trend as "Restless" is another studio project for Van Sant, produced by Ron Howard, Bryce Dallas Howard and Bryan Grazer and set to be released by Columbia Pictures.
The teen drama/love story stars Mia Wasikowska (who stars in the dreadful "Alice In Wonderland" hitting theaters today, which Elfman also scored), Schulyer Fisk and Henry Hopper (yep, Dennis' son) in what we think has the potential to be Van Sant's most unique film ever. We described the films as falling somewhere in between "Terms Of Endearment" and "Harold & Maude" which, at least tonally, is fairly new territory for Van Sant. The film shot last fall, and its most likely in post-production right now. There's no word on a release date, but this fall isn't out of the question.
We're not known to be the biggest Elfman fans around here, but his work with Van Sant in the past has been less egregious compared to other works and as long as it's not intrusive here we'll deal with it (though one of our writers nearly wanted to claw his ears out while watching "Alice In Wonderland"). We'll have to wait and see how this one plays out.
Toby Kebbell Was Attached To John Hillcoat's Now Defunct Depression Era Crime-Drama 'The Promised Land'
We admit, it's naive of us, but we're still holding on to the slim hope that John Hillcoat may one day return to the now defunct project, "The Promised Land."
Boasting a "remarkable, vivid and tactile" script by Nick Cave, the prohibition/depression era crime-drama centered around three brothers in a moonshining operation was initially set to begin shooting this past February with the likes of Shia Labeouf, Ryan Gosling, Scarlett Johanson, Paul Dano, Amy Adams and Michael Shannon all noted as talent who were at least once interested in the project (though if all of them were interested at the same time remains unclear, it's very possible people like Johnson and Adams were both interested in the same role).
Sadly, however, Hillcoat announced at the beginning of the year that the project was suddenly stopped dead in its tracks; presumably over finances, even going on so far as to take a stab at the film industry in his reasonings, describing its current state as its "own apocalypse."
But a profile on the talented Toby Kebbell in the April issue of the Australian magazine Total Film retroactively reveals that the actor was attached to star in "The Promised Land" as one of the leading males.
"There's a film he's hoping to do that's written by Nick Cave and directed by 'The Road's John Hillcoat, playing opposite Shia Labeouf and Ryan Gosling as three brothers."While the current issues of this magazine does talk about the "The Promised Land" as an upcoming project, we're positive it's very outdated information as several features in this particular issue — an interview with Colin Farrell was still discussing Oscar talk for "Crazy Heart" for example — are obviously not at all in the cards.
But Kebbell's would-be casting provides yet another painful reminder of the film's collapse, leaving us to only wonder what could have been. The British actor will next be seen in Robert Redford's "The Conspirator" where he'll play assassin John Wilkes Booth, Southern accent and all.
Hillcoat's future prospects, meanwhile, potentially took another blow yesterday when Benicio Del Toro attached himself to play Joaquin Garcia in a Steven Soderbergh-produced mob-drama. This would presumably rule the actor out of the similarly mafia-themed Pete Dexter-scribed Joe Petrosino film which Del Toro was attached to star with Hillcoat helming. Surely, he'll now just turn to his mini-series adaptation of BFF Nick Cave's "The Death Of Bunny Munro" which he's making for British television, but either way, we hope some feature-film length luck comes his way soon.
Jay-Z cemented his love for New York City with last year's smash hit "Empire State Of Mind" and the city (and pretty much the rest of the country) loved him right back. Now the dealer-turned-rapper-turned-mogul is ready to show some more of that love with his forthcoming concert documentary "NY-Z."
Directed by concert documentary veteran Danny Clinch, the film captures the rapper's September 11, 2009 Madison Square Garden benefit concert for Answer The Call. Going on stage and behind the scenes, the black and white trailer seems to capture the same vibe as the "Empire State Of Mind" video (and not surprising, considering it's scored to the song as well). Lots of poetic shots of New York City streets and the rapper flexing his image to the max.
To watch the film, all you have to do is go over to the dedicated Facebook page, become a fan, and you'll get access to the premiere. The concert featured a plethora of guests including Kanye West, Rihanna, Mary J. Blige, Beyonce, Pharrell, Diddy and um, John Mayer. As most of you well know, Mayer got into some big trouble for his recent Playboy interview (site, obvs, NSFW but its an amazing trainwreck read) where he called Jessica Simpson "sexual napalm" and said that his dick was a white supremacist. Odd then, that's he's the only celeb to make an appearance in the trailer. He must've called in a huge favor to Jigga.
"NY-Z" debuts on March 22.
Olive Films Opens The Paramount Vaults, Lets Out Nicholas Ray's 'The Savage Innocents,' 'Tropic Of Cancer' And, Otto Preminger's Wacky, 'Skidoo'
As DVD sales have dipped, and those numbers have been further crunched by the weakening economy, classic films on DVD, already a stepchild for studio's home video divisions, have pretty much been left to wither or, in the case of Warner Bros., go to master tape dumped, overpriced, burn-on-demand releases that leave you forking over $20 for a DVD-R. In many cases, few films released on VHS are available on DVD, and even more films never released on any format float in the ether. So consider our day made that DVD distributor Olive Films have stepped up and made a bid for a number of films gathering dust in the Paramount vaults, with a release plan scheduled to begin in June. No dates have been set, but the studio wants to put out about three titles per month from their total of 27 new acquisitions.
If you're looking for star turns, look no further than "Tropic of Cancer," which cast a young Rip Torn as a boozing, womanizing Henry Miller and Ellen Burstyn co-stars. Oh, a world where Rip Torn was a womanizer did exist, young folks. Historians might want to note this was the first movie to ever feature the word "cunt," and we can't think of anyone better suited to break that barrier than Mr. Torn.
Most notable are a few works from the great Austro–Hungarian director Otto Preminger ("Anatomy of a Murder," "Bunny Lake Is Missing," "Laura") hitting the format, most specifically the long-unavailable, spectacularly wrongheaded "Skidoo." Yesteryear's "Southland Tales," "Skidoo" features Jackie Gleason as a mild-mannered husband who finds himself knee deep in a crime plot and is fueled mostly by its creators' misguided interpretations of the effects of LSD, and stands as a monument to completely inaccurate, awful representations of drugs onscreen. With an entire raft of "Batman" villains in its cast (Cesar Romero, Frank Gorshin and Burgess Meredith, though Preminger himself was also once a Bat-baddie), "Skidoo" also finds screen time for Carol Channing singing in her underoos, Frankie Avalon and John Philip Law looking lost and confused, and a slumming, depressed-looking Groucho Marx in one of his final roles. The final credits, in what had to be a first, were actually sung entirely by Harry Nilsson. We've included them below, because to be honest, sometimes we feel like we're just making shit up when we talk about this movie.
Other films included in this treasure trove include Preminger's 1967 drama "Hurry Sundown" starring Michael Caine and Loring Smith, the 1971 dramedy "Such Good Friends" starring Dyan Cannon, plus Ingmar Bergman's 1976 film "Face to Face" about a psychiatrist who is suffering from a mental illness, starring (naturally) Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson. Plus many more (Criterion watch out!).
The entire list of Olive Films acquisitions can be found here.
Here's part one of "The Savage Innocents." The entire thing is on YouTube if you can't wait.