We could soon see Joseph Gordon-Levitt singing in the rain or possibly on Broadway, for that matter. The actor recently sat down with The Advocate to promote his latest film "Inception," and discussed his interest in following up his song-and-dance routine from "500 Days of Summer" with a true blue musical.
Gordon-Levitt cryptically told the mag, “I don’t want to spoil it, but there is something in the works, man, and I can’t wait.” And given his experience on both the big screen and his rendition of "Make 'Em Laugh" during his opening monologue on "Saturday Night Live," we're curious to see where we will see Joseph putting his moves to good use.
With Hollywood's hard on for all things musical, thanks to the recent success of "Glee," the possibilities are endless. Anyone out there want to throw us a hint? [Movieline]
We could soon see Joseph Gordon-Levitt singing in the rain or possibly on Broadway, for that matter. The actor recently sat down with The Advocate to promote his latest film "Inception," and discussed his interest in following up his song-and-dance routine from "500 Days of Summer" with a true blue musical.
There are boys....there are men....and then there is CONAN.
After the heart-stopping first image from "Conan" arrived, followed by two more that got pulses racing, the female staffers at the Playlist weren't sure if they could handle any more, while the men wanted the endless emasculation to stop. Well, two more Conan pictures have arrived, sending the girls into a tizzy around the office, while the boys had the unpleasant experience of feeling their dicks retracting up into their body.
Yes, Conan is a real man. Just look at those impossibly formed pecs; watch how majestically he rides that horse with his burnished oak locks glowing in the misty late afternoon forest light. Sigh and flutter. At least for the ladies around here. The men wish they could just delete that shit off the Internet forever.
Damn you Jason Momoa; you're getting a free pass from our ladies to eat crackers in bed while we have to ask permission to use the toilet. Thanks a lot.
At the rate we're going, "Transformers 3: Clang Pop Wow Pshew Bang" will be indistinguishable from parts one or two in the robot opus. As far as some flowerly-worded defenses get in justifying Michael Bay's existence as an auteur and not a Pure Satanic Force For Fucking Evil, these movies, filled with fast, flashy, indiscernible special effects and a sea of racist, misogynist one-liners, act as a Mobius Strip where you're not entirely sure where this crap begins and ends. In a few years, some idiot will convince another poor sap to watch all three movies in a row, and a space-time paradox will open, launching us all into a parallel world where we don't know where Optimus Prime begins and Megan Fox's ass ends.
In the meantime, all parties involved are on board for the next, and ideally last, in the world's most intellectually bankrupt major franchise. Cast and crew all seem to be broken-up about how the nearly billion-dollar-grossing "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" turned out, as if they suddenly broke from some magical winning formula from the ornate puzzle box that was the first film, but that hasn't stopped Bay and the gang from shooting for the stars. And by stars, we mean President Kennedy and the space race.
CHUD has revealed that the beginning of "Transformers 3" takes place in the Oval Office, where President Kennedy learns of Transformers activity on the moon, leading to the acceleration of the space race. This sort of contradicts the very first teaser trailer for "Transformers," which we've embedded below, but that's a matter of continuity, and serious adults know these movies are just extended light shows.
This story point is brought to you by producer Steven Spielberg, who is credited with a stronger influence on the first film than the second, though it's hard to fathom how someone as revered as he would cast his lot with the hellish Sound+Fury assault that is this godforsaken series. The idea of alien robots directly influencing the space race is a fertile one, and if it was Spielberg directing on his own it would likely be a lot of fun, but it's "Transformers 3": Michael Bay helmed story centered around namby-pamby Shia LaBeouf, some shuck-and-jive black guy or hip-hop-inspired robot, and bombastically scored scenes of techno-rape.
Unlike Christopher Nolan's new film, this prequel comic to "Inception" doesn't go very far to explain all the rules established within dreams, so those of you without that frame of reference might be a bit lost. Really this is better to read after seeing the film for those interested in avoiding spoilers or wanting to read a comic that actually resolves the seemingly random allusions it makes.
Written by "Inception" co-producer Jordan Goldberg, "The Cobol Job" is a comic currently available free online that covers the period of time immediately before the opening heist scene in the film. Cobb and Arthur (played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the feature) are introduced already getting to work in a dream in which they are attempting to extract information from the chief engineer for Proclus Global, the company owned by Mr. Saito (portrayed in the film by Ken Watanabe). Joined by a group of toughs they label tourists (they aren't idea thieving pros like our heroes) Cobb explodes into a building to squeeze precious information from the engineer's brain. Learning the man's subconscious does not contain the information they are after, and the new target becomes Saito himself, which puts us up to speed with the start of the film.
When we think Will Smith, two kinds of films come to mind: macho action flicks like "Men in Black" and "I Am Legend," and emotional (and sometimes manipulatively so) tearjerkers like "The Pursuit of Happyness" and his most recent "Seven Pounds." Generally, biblical interpretations aren't really on the list.
Things change, though, and Smith has signed on to star in and produce "The Legend of Cain," a supposedly epic re-imagination of the good ol' first murderer himself. And, perhaps not surprisingly but still unfortunately, there's an extra twist— vampires. We wish we were kidding.
Smith's Overbrook Entertainment (which includes wife Jada Pinkett Smith, James Lassiter and Ken Stovitz) is producing from a script by Caleeb Pinkett (yes, Jada's brother and actor) and Dan Knauf ("Carnivale"), with revisions by Andrea Berloff ("World Trade Center," "Domestic"). No director or studio is attached yet.
Right now, Smith is busy promoting the reboot of "The Karate Kid" (starring his son, Jaden Smith) and will start filming on "Men in Black III" in August. How will this affect "Paper Wings," the rodeo romance drama that we mentioned yesterday that Smith was reading for along with Tom Cruise, Anna Kendrick and others? No way to tell for sure now, but the clock is ticking, at least to some extent, as Cruise is locked in to "Mission Impossible IV," due out in December 2011.
There's been talk of a sequel to "Ghost Rider" pretty much since the film came out in 2007 (or for several years now anyhow), with Nicolas Cage even recognizing how piss poor the movie was (at one point, he wanted to do his own reboot). Well despite reports earlier this year that Cage might not return for the film, last night on the "The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson" (the miracle here being that somebody was watching) the actor revealed, "There's gonna be a new one. I just made the deal today." He also goes on to confirm that "Crank" directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, who were circling the film last month, will be helming the picture.
The timing couldn't be better as Sony was facing a November 14th deadline looming to get a sequel into production or risk the rights reverting back to Marvel. Last we heard, the film still won't be a straight sequel but is apparently based on an old draft David Goyer penned when "Ghost Rider" was set up at New Line Cinema in the early '90s, which had an R-rated horror slant (expect that to change to PG-13). The story takes place eight years after the original, working as a standalone not heavily reliant on continuity. Scott Gimple and Seth Hoffman of "Flashforward" have also reportedly worked on this screenplay, but it's expected Neveldine and Taylor will take a stab at a draft as well.
Anyhow, can't say we're overly excited by this. As you might notice, "Ghost Rider" didn't come near the list in our appreciation of Nicolas Cage and Neveldine/Taylor have yet to prove themselves as more than gimmick directors. However, after acrimoniously leaving "Jonah Hex" and then gleefully watching it flail at the box office, they might have some extra incentive to prove themselves as a capable tentpole team. But it will be seen if they have anything in their toolbox other than lots of garish colors and fast edits.
Remember "Grindhouse," the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino double feature that was going to bring about a renaissance in '70s-style horror films? The films themselves were a flop at the box office, but Rodriguez's "Planet Terror" and Tarantino's "Death Proof" did leave an impression with their devotees even if they're both neither director's best work (we prefer the fun John Carpenter-esque 'Terror,' frankly).
Far more interesting were the faux-trailers played before and in between the two films: Eli Roth's "Thanksgiving," Edgar Wright's "Don't" and Rob Zombie's "Werewolf Women of the S.S." Although the two features were each given a stand-alone DVD release (with extended, uncut versions), a full-experience, single-disc version never materialized. We've been excited about the possibility of this edition coming to light for a few weeks since Wright (director of "Shaun of the Dead") cryptically tweeted that he would be posting a commentary on "Don't," leaving us to infer what that obviously meant.
Looks like he let the cat out of the bag. The Blu-ray package is up on Amazon, with a release date of October 5th and a price of $27.99 ($39.95 retail). Interestingly, there's no DVD version up yet — maybe there will never be one? Seems unlikely, but possible.
No word yet on what might be included as extras, although we're hoping for the entire two films plus trailer experience on a single disc, with the second reserved for goodies.
Talk about biting the hand that feeds....
Talking on BBC1's Newsbeat (via MTV) Muse bassist Chris Wolstenholme talked about the difficulty of breaking into the American marketplace and the things that bands must do to get exposure they otherwise wouldn't receive --- such as appearing on the soundtrack to "Twilight: Eclipse" and "New Moon." "I'm not sure how cool it is to be on those kind of things, but sometimes you've just got to get your music out there in different ways," Wolstenholme said.
He could've left it there and this probably wouldn't be a story, but he continues saying, "It's very difficult in America, because you don't have anything like Radio 1, nothing is national," he said. "You have to take every opportunity you get over there, and sometimes you have to sell your soul." Ouch.
For those of you aren't familiar with the "Twilight" soundtracks (aka Indie Music For Dummies), Muse has appeared on all three soundtracks for each installment of the franchise with the songs "Supermassive Black Hole," "I Belong to You (New Moon Remix)" and "Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever)" finding their way to the tracklists. If the band sold their soul, they definitely didn't trade it in for non-ridiculous sounding song titles.
We're sort of tickled by the thought of Muse -- who are by no means struggling for fans or exposure -- agonizing over whether or not to put some tunes on the "Twilight" soundtrack. We wish they had sold their souls instead to write some better music.
Robert Schwentke is a name we often forget about. The German director made his Hollywood debut with the surprisingly serviceable thriller "Flightplan," moved on to the romantic drama "The Time Traveler's Wife" and has the comic adaptation "Red" -- which really looks a lot better than we ever thought it would -- in the can, and set for an October release. We're sort of surprised more tentpole-ish material hasn't come his way but it looks like he's eyeing something that could open that door a bit more.
Pajiba reports that Schwentke is considering sitting in the director's chair of a new version of Robert Ludlum's "The Osterman Weekend." Cinephiles will note that it was already adapted once for the big screen in a 1983 film starring Dennis Hopper and Rutger Hauer and directed by none other than Sam Peckinpah (christ, imagine the testosterone coursing through that set). Presumably, this new take which has a completed script by Simon Kinberg ("Sherlock Holmes," "Mr. and Mrs. Smith") would tune up the story -- about "a hardworking attorney and loving husband, John Tanner, who is convinced by a CIA agent that the friends who have invited him to a weekend in the country are engaged in a conspiracy called Omega, which threatens national security" -- would be updated for modern times.
But this isn't the only politically minded book adaptation on Schwentke's plate. Pajiba tells us he's also got "Conspiracy of Fools" by Kurt Eichenwald; "Charlie Johnson in Flames" by Michael Ignatieff; and "Entering Hades" by John Leake all percolating as potential gigs.
"The Osterman Weekend" is currently set up at Summit. As per usual, this is no guarantee and things may change, but it's definitely interesting material for a director who is overdue for a big time arrival.
Quickly, since we don't want to spend too much time on this as we have no way to verify it's true (and the reportage itself seems rather flaky, honestly). A report is going around that former "Dr. Who" star Sylvester McCoy is up for, or already has the part of Bilbo Baggins in "The Hobbit" which may be directed by Peter Jackson if MGM can figure out their shit soon and pay him very handsomely.
The report is spotted at Bleeding Cool, who are honestly tireless when it comes to looking under every nook and cranny on the web, but tend to pick up on any and every rumor out there.
However, we're not completely discounting it either if only for a few things it may prove in the future. While most people will cry, "he's not a star! there's no way they'll go with him!" that's missing the point: almost all of the "Lord Of The Rings" cast were not stars when the film was first cast and some like Orlando Bloom were essentially unknowns at the time. Viggo Mortensen was still just a character actor (an excellent one at that) and regardless, even now he's hardly what you'd call a huge box-office draw. Even before him, Stuart Townsend was supposed to play Aragorn, so the producers and filmmakers have obviously had enough confidence in the past to go with non-marquee names.
Few things titillate film obsessives more than the masterpieces that never were. How many geeky conversations have you gotten into or overheard that begin with "Well, if Stanley Kubrick had actually done 'Napoleon'...." History is littered with films that could have been special had they, you know, been made. And "Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno" is a fascinating peek at a potential masterpiece by the French Hitchcock. It's hard to say whether or not "Inferno" would have changed the way people watch or make movies, but it certainly could have.
The story of "Inferno" was basically a simple tale about Marcel, a hotelier (Serge Reggiani) who becomes consumed by an obsession for his young wife Odette (the unbelievably gorgeous Romy Schneider), leading himself to believe that she is carrying on an affair with someone in the resort where they live. There isn't much "story" to Clouzot's film, but as the lovingly assembled documentary by directors Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea shows (utilizing footage from some 15 reels of raw footage they acquired thanks to a chance encounter with Clouzot's wife in an elevator) the director was instead attempting a visual approximation of the extreme sensation of jealousy. It's an amazing conceit, especially for a director known for his taut, suspenseful narratives in films like "Wages of Fear" and "Diabolique" and he employed a whole variety of experimental techniques to try and achieve his ambitious goal. Sometimes he would use colored lights that would swirl around Schneider, sometimes he would dip her into glitter or some brightly hued paint. These tests alone are captivating, and by the time the documentary wraps up, you absolutely feel like Clouzot could've made something special. But alas, it was never to be.
Not a first look, per se, but a whole ton of imagery from Anton Corbijn's "The American" has surfaced online via Moviefone.
We already get that the film is both a thriller about an assassin trying to do one last job in Italy and a romance. These photos certainly demonstrate both (here's the '70s-styled poster, two slightly different trailers and some previous photos). Corbijn's dad was a vicar and his music videos have had a lot of religious iconography in them and since it's set in Italy, we're sure that kind of imagery will certainly pop up.
We finally have our first look at Zack Snyder's ambitious, period-based alternate reality action film "Sucker Punch" that also apparently has some song and and dance numbers.
The first image gives us the the quintet of Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Jena Malone and Abbie Cornish looking particularly like they are ready to kick ass (or going to one helluva S+M party). In short, geeks everywhere have some new fap material (ew, gross, we know). Obviously, this is from the fantasy world section of the film which takes place in a stylized WWI setting. The cast is rounded out by Carla Gugino, Jon Hamm, Scott Glenn (pictured in the back) and Oscar Isaac As a refresher, here's the synopsis:
"Sucker Punch" is set in the 1960s, when a teenage girl (Emily Browning) is sent to an asylum by her nasty stepfather (Jon Hamm).The film is currently slated for a March 25, 2011 release and may or may not arrive in converted 3D. Snyder is cool on the idea while his wife and producer Deborah Snyder has argued, "Visually, Zack's done an amazing job. It's such a spectacle in and of itself and it's so fantastical that it doesn't really need the 3-D." And we can kind of see what she means.
Once inside, the girl bonds with several other teen patients (Vanessa Hudgens, Abbie Cornish, Jamie Chung and Malone), and she retreats into a multi-level fantasy world where she and her friends are, by turns, the star attractions in a Moulin Rouge-esque night club brothel, and sexy warriors battling robotic Germans in a stylized version of the First World War. They also fight dragons and knights in a medieval world, kick alien butt on a futuristic planet, and battle giant samurai in an ancient temple.
But if you stop to take notice and perhaps stop the cheap shot jokes, one can realize that the good far outweighs the awful in his oeuvre and while Cage might not even win an Academy Award again ("Leaving Las Vegas"), he is an Academy Award winner, and looking back on his body of work, it's quite impressive and nothing to be ashamed of in the slightest. In fact, there are major classic touchstones here worthy of several plaudits.
With the slightly harmless, but forgettable "Sorcerer's Apprentice" in theaters this weekend (and sounding like it's doing negligible box-office business already), we thought we'd take this opportunity to run down Cage's idiosyncratic career and sometimes wonderfully unhinged performances.
"Wild At Heart" (1990)
“This snakeskin jacket is a symbol my individuality and belief in personal freedom," is the oft-repeated maxim declared by Cage's character Sailor Ripley in “Wild At Heart,” David Lynch's swooning, sexy, creepy road trip to Oz, and applies to the kooky Cage as well (the jacket used in the film was his own). Could this be Cage at his peak? His embodiment of Sailor is sensual, menacing and just plain cool-- but his smoking chemistry with Laura Dern is some of the hottest ever onscreen. The Elvis nut swaggers and drawls like the King himself, crooning his ballad “Love Me,” but brings a looseness and relaxed humor to the performance, a greater feat than the high-tension campy scenery chewing evinced by the rest of the cast. He turns in a highly stylized physical performance (a rare commodity in this day and age) and manages to ground the universe of wacky characters swirling around him, with a skilled nuance and real genuine emotion. In the special features, Dern describes her mother Diane Ladd as the perfect Lynchian actor (and she is truly amazing and transcendent in this), but it could be argued that Cage, with his laissez-faire theatricality, willingness to fully engage in Lynch’s absurd hyperreality, and commitment to the truth of character and story is, in fact, the real perfect Lynchian actor. Can we cross our fingers for a reunion? [A]
"Vampire's Kiss" (1988)
While not as lauded as say "Raising Arizona," god, Nicolas Cage was never better than he was in the late 1980s. Directed by Robert Bierman, most people have long forgotten this B-movie vampire comedy, but there's one key thing to remember: it's written by Joseph Minion, the man who wrote Martin Scorsese's dark, strange and surreal 24-hour classic, "After Hours," and tonally the picture is just as weird. The film centers on a douchebag yuppie publishing executive (Cage) who thinks that he's turning into a vampire, when he has a random sexual encounter with a woman with a fondness for neck biting (Jennifer Beals). Of course it's all in his head (or is it?) and he goes to bizarre lengths to prove to himself that he's become a bloodsucker, including loosing his shit and torturing his poor assistant (Maria Conchita Alonso) with an impossible menial task. The role, notoriously known for Cage eating live cockroaches, is essentially a descent into madness and it's Cage at his unhinged, manic best, but it's well calibrated, knowing exactly when to pop like a madman and when to simmer like a deliciously semi-sane fruitcake teetering on the edge (oh and the Looney Toons facial expressions throughout are a laugh riot). [B+].
"Leaving Las Vegas" (1995)
In this loose, jazzy and affecting performance that won Nicolas Cage the Academy Award (and seemingly gave him the financial leeway to do tepid action movies for the next decade plus), he plays a surrendered man who has decided to completely bail out on life (and strangely happy with his decision); an alcoholic Hollywood screenwriter who goes to Las Vegas to drink himself to death, only to fall in love with a prostitute (played by a superb Elisabeth Shue). Just, you know, not enough to not drink himself to death. In the skilled hands of director Mike Figgis, he turns a prolonged, potentially hard-to-watch tragedy into something artful and heartrending. And thanks to Cage's wet performance, which wonderfully sidesteps any potential parody (since "the drunk" is a cliche as old as Hollywood itself), you feel for this character, no matter how reprehensible or irresponsible his behavior might be. What happens in 'Vegas' breaks your fucking heart and it certainly convinced the Academy. [A-]
Beck Wrote 21 Songs For 'Scott Pilgrim'; Brian O'Malley Initially Wanted Times New Viking To Pen Songs For Sex Bob-Omb
Throughout our track-by-track review, when talking about the songs by Sex Bob-Omb, the fictional band fronted by Scott Pilgrim in the forthcoming "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World" we noted the song's lo-fi, grimy, punk aesthetic. Well it appears that Beck, tapped to write the tunes that the band would perform in the film, had a great reference point to work from.
Speaking with actor Michael Cera and comic writer Bryan O'Malley, the LA Times reports that, initially, O'Malley was championing Matador Records' Midwest punkers Times New Viking to write the songs for Sex Bob-Omb. "We wanted them to sound like a garage band," O'Malley said. "We wanted them to sound rough and really distorted. There's this band called Times New Viking who had just released an album, and I was like, 'These guys are perfect.'"
However, director Edgar Wright wasn't quite sold on the band as being the right fit. While they certainly met his criteria, they might have just been a touch too extreme for the film. “I like Times New Viking,” Wright said, and “the link between Guitar Wolf and Times New Viking is that they’re mastered too loud. They’re the only two bands I can think of in my iTunes like that. Guitar Wolf’s ‘Jet Generation’ has a sticker on the back that says it has been mastered too loud and it shouldn’t be played at full volume. Times New Viking is the same. They’re designed to screw up a playlist.” And screwing up a playlist probably isn't what you want when prepping an indie rock fan's dream soundtrack.
A dense, layer cake mindbender that burrows deep into the recesses of your subconscious (and heart), the MC-Escher-like implausible levels to the film will leave you disconcerted and walking around in a haze for days.
The picture which finally sees release today is heady, surreal and firmly enters the canon of the finest thought-provoking head-trips in cinema (read our review here). In recognition of this incredibly ambitious and admirable film (the internal logic alone of the script is just super impressive to say the least), we decided to collect what we called (for lack of a better title), The Best Surreal, Alternate Reality Mindbending Films (yes, a whatever catch-all title to cover the films we wanted).
"Last Year at Marienbad" (1961)
Is it a dream? An imagined reality? A mis-remembered memory? A psychological denial? Or something else entirely? These are the questions that are asked and never really answered in Alain Resnais’ still mysterious “Last Year At Marienbad” which continues to dazzle and confound audiences more than four decades after its release. The story concerns a man, X, and a woman A, who encounter each other at a chateau, X is convinced he met A the year previously at Marienbad, but the woman thinks he’s mistaken. And over 90 minutes, Resnais will weave a web of repeated conversations and the same few events approached from slightly different perspectives. But what about the shooting range scene? What do the repeated games of Nim mean? Resnais opens the doors to Marienbad and as the viewer, your best bet is to give in rather than trying to make sense of it all. But if it sounds chilly, surprisingly, its not. There is something deeply sensual and erotic about the proceedings, while also being austere and modern (the cinematography and set design is simply breathtaking) but on top of it all is an evocative exploration of the meeting place between memory and imagination.
"Mulholland Dr." (2001)
1999’s “The Straight Story” was an unusually straightforward film for David Lynch, to the extent that it was actually released under the Disney banner. Was Hollywood’s strangest filmmaker finally settling down? Hell no. “Mullholland Drive,” initially conceived as a TV pilot, before being rejected and turned into a feature, was perhaps Lynch’s oddest work since “Twin Peaks” (although “Lost Highway” comes close, certainly) and few films have captured the feel, tone and rhythm of a fever dream as well as this. This is because the film is essentially a masturbatory, guilt-fuelled fever dream, as Naomi Watts’ Diane constructs an alternate reality after ordering the death of her lover. Terrifying, darkly funny and still managing to be one of the great L.A. movies, it’s one of our all time favorite alternate realities. And no mention of the film is complete without mention of Watts’ astonishing performance(s); almost unbearably raw, she’s never been as good since, but then we’ve seen few performances as good at all. Lynch returned to similar territory a few years later with “Inland Empire,” but despite another great performance, this time from Laura Dern, it covers similar ground, but is twice as long and half as good.
Within all the fine print of Tim Allen's contract for "Toy Story 3," is a clause that has him appearing in "Toy Story 4" if/when that should ever happen. This story picked up a bit of steam, but frankly, we wouldn't be surprised if the same line of legal appeared in the contracts for the rest of the major players in the franchise as well. And really, it's pretty standard for studios to contractually tie-in key talent for sequels to potential franchise films.
Anyway, while there's been no word if Disney/Pixar will go ahead with another installment (we kind of hope they don't; "Toy Story 3" is a great bookend and we'd like to see the studio move forward with some fresh concepts) the franchise is a financial behemoth, so the incentive is there. So it's no surprise that plans are already underway for a new "Toy Story" short to appear in front of "Cars 2." No word yet if Buzz and Woody will be back or if the short will take the opportunity to bump up some of the other characters to leading man status, but it's a savvy way to transition fans of one franchise to see the sequel to another.
But really, as you were. All this means is that should "Toy Story 4" happen, it's in Allen's contract that he'll be there. But as director Lee Unkrich said earlier this year, "I don’t know that there would ever be a ‘[Toy Story] 4.’ We don’t have any plans for one..." We hope it stays that way.
The marketing campaign for "Inception" may be the most brilliant thing we see all summer. After weeks of franchises and reboots moviegoers seem ready for a something with a little more class as the buzz level for the Christopher Nolan's latest has been rising like this summer's heat. An original cinematic idea that is going to MAKE MONEY can only be a good thing for an industry that seems a little desperate in this era of 3D conversions. The main competition this week comes in the form of Nicolas Cage's perm in "The Sorcerer's Apprentice." The family-oriented film faces strong holdovers from the much better "Despicable Me" and "Toy Story 3," so Cage should probably lay off more real estate investment for the time being. On the indie side this weekend "Valhalla Rising" is certainly your best bet. Nicolas Winding Refn is a filmmaker on the rise and his latest is no disappointment.
Chloë Sevigny and Jena Malone will be reuniting with indie filmmaker M. Blash for the black comedy "The Wait."
The actresses will be joined by Luke Grimes ("All The Boys Love Mandy Lane") in the film about "two sisters that decide to keep their recently deceased mother in their house after getting a call saying she will come back to life." Malone and Sevigny will play the sisters while Grimes "will play a philosophical and enigmatic man who becomes smitten with Malone's character."
Sounds interesting enough, but the previous Sevigny/Malone/Blash project was the barely distributed indie drama "Lying" which barely got distribution and not-so-great notices (though, if you're curious, its on DVD) so we'll keep our expectations in check. Filming begins this week in Portland. [Variety]
We're sure at when writer/director Jaco Van Dormael first came up with the premise for "Mr. Nobody," his first film in over a decade, it seemed like a fresh and original idea. Certainly we were intrigued by the time spanning tale about a man who wakes up in the year 2092 to find himself 120 years old, the oldest man in the world and the last mortal in a world where nobody dies. But, unfortunately, a number of other films have come along -- "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button," "The Fountain," "Inception" -- that have also flirted with the territory of time and memory spanning love. To be certain, even if those films never existed, it wouldn't make the achingly juvenile "Mr. Nobody" any better, but the fact that they do only makes the flaws in Dormael's film stand out even more.
It's hard to know where to begin addressing the myriad problems with "Mr. Nobody" but the setting seems like a good place to start considering that, ultimately, it has absolutely no bearing on the story. In short, there is no reason for this film to take place in 2092. Aside from allowing Dormael to play around with CGI and create a futuristic vision that seems lifted (with a smaller budget) straight from "The Fifth Element," there is actually no plot driven basis for the film to be set in 2092 other than give Nemo/Mr. Nobody (Jared Leto) a place to die and tell his story. In fact, the film doesn't even reveal why people are able to be immortal, why Nemo is excluded from being able to take part in this wonderful scientific breakthrough or how he's been able to live so long. This is just the first of many major story situations where Dormael takes the audience's trust for granted.
But, onwards, the story finally begins -- after a muddled opening twenty minutes -- when a reporter breaks into the hospital room where Nemo is staying in the future and asks him to talk about his life for posterity. Again, no reason is given why Nemo is being kept away from reporters other than it appears that he's having trouble with his memory. As he recounts his story (which basically puts the rest of the film into a flashback) three separate versions of Nemo's life emerge. Like the last season of "Lost" which dealt in parallel timelines, the same applies here, only Nemo's memory is also remembering those of his parallel lives; those started and lived by another version of himself had he made or not made certain decisions at key points in his life. Again, the internal logic is never explained just presented for the audience to accept, but without a structural basis to make it stick. There is no explanation why Nemo can do this and why no one else can, it just is.
We're big fans of writer Christopher McQuarrie, but he isn't exactly the most prolific of writers. Since breaking through with "The Usual Suspects," he's had only two produced credits, 2008's "Valkyrie" and his underrated 2000 directorial debut "The Way of the Gun." He's had a fairly rough ride, with plenty of thwarted projects, nearly quitting the industry at one point (there's a great, two-and-a-half hour interview that McQuarrie did with Jeff Goldsmith of Creative Screenwriting magazine that you can download here (right click to save)), but he's got his mojo back in a big way, it seems, with scripts for Bryan Singer's "Jack The Giant Killer" and the mooted "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" sequel, but it looks like he could finally be returning to the director's chair.
He came close a few years ago with "The Stanford Prison Experiment," but the funds fell apart, but according to Heat Vision, he's now signed on to re-write, and possibly direct, an adaptation of one the books in Lee Child's hugely popular Jack Reacher series, "One Shot." The series, which "Sleepers" author Lorenzo Carcaterra recently named as one of the ten thrillers that should be adapted into movies, focuses on Reacher, a former military policeman-turned-drifter, and stretches to 14 novels so far. "One Shot," the ninth in the series, involves Reacher being drawn into the case of a military sniper accused of five murders, and discovering a cover-up along the way. Yes, it's a little "Bourne"-esque and definitely has the potential to stretch out into a lucrative franchise.
Josh Olson, who was behind the excellent "A History Of Violence" wrote the first draft of the project, which is set up at Paramount, with Mutual Film and Cruise/Wagner Productions. It sounds a little generic, and worryingly close to the weak Mark Wahlberg vehicle "Shooter," but there's a brutality to the novels that McQuarrie could be well suited to; "The Way of the Gun" is as close to a Sam Peckinpah movie that we've seen since the great director died.
Perhaps one of the more unlikely box-office powerhouses among on-screen couples in recent years are Stanley Tucci and Meryl Streep; their pairings on "The Devil Wears Prada" and "Julie & Julia" are among the best of their genre in the last few years, both were huge hits and the two are clearly great friends in real life. Tucci played in support to Streep in both those pictures, but it looks like the dynamic may be shifting...
CAA are shopping a package around town for a comedy entitled "Mommy & Me," which would see Tucci direct Streep and Tina Fey in a comedy/drama focusing on a mother/daughter relationship, and we've got to admit it's an enticing prospect. Tucci hasn't directed for some time, but his debut "Big Night" (which was co-helmed with Campbell Scott) is a hall-of-famer for us, and his follow ups "The Impostors," "Joe Gould's Secret" and "Blind Date" are all undervalued, mostly because no one in the world actually saw them.
It all sounds like it's early stages yet -- there's no writer on board, and it hasn't landed at a studio, although Sony are apparently close to signing the project up. There's also no word if Tucci will also appear in the film, although he will produce, alongside Steve Buscemi (!) and Wren Arthur, his partners in Oliver Productions. Our only concern is that Fey, while indisputably a great comedian, hasn't flexed her dramatic muscles much to date and risks being blown out of the water by her co-star. But if she can rise to the challenge, this will be one we really look forward to. [LA Times]
When he started off his career, Aaron Sorkin seemed like a solid, if unremarkable screenwriter, turning out enjoyable middlebrow thrillers like "A Few Good Men" and "Malice," as well as performing heavy rewrite work on the likes of "The Rock" and "Enemy of the State." But then he moved into TV, and it became clear that everyone had been underestimating him. "Sports Night" stands as an excellent comedy drama, but it was with "The West Wing," a show that this writer is hopelessly obsessed with, that Sorkin stepped up to the big leagues. Riffing slightly on his film "The American President," the show followed the senior staff of a fictional Democratic president across more or less his entire eight-year term. For the fourth series that Sorkin wrote for, it took one of the best TV casts ever assembled, and made them soar with writing that, while sometimes on-the-nose, was mostly excellent, and sometimes transcendent.
We can't help it. We're pretty dazzled and taken aback with his striking, take-no-prisoners pictures.
In 1000 AD, held prisoner by a Norse chieftain, a fearless mute warrior (Mikkelsen) aided by a boy slave kills his captors and then falls in with a group of Vikings seeking a holy land which begets a journey into the heart of darkness. The picture is sort of a mix between Terrence Malick and Andrei Tarkovsky making it a spiritual horror film with maybe a soupcon of sinister John Carpenter vibes. However you want to describe it, it's a wonderful piece of work and a cinephile's delight. The picture comes out tomorrow Friday, July 16 in limited release and we sat down for a very long chat with Refn earlier this month. In case you're curious we spoke to him about his "Wonder Woman," film aspirations, his desire to one day work with Channing Tatum and another new project coming in the to be determined future called, "I Walk With The Dead."
The Playlist: Why a Viking movie of all things?
Nicolas Winding Refn: Well, I've had the idea for many many years to do a Viking-like action movie. But the strange thing is, I've never had an interest in Vikings. I heard a story on a radio program, which was about in the 1930s in Delaware, Washington, about a Viking rune stone found on a farmer's field. It was a great puzzlement because at that time, I'm sure at least Americans didn't accept there had been anybody to America before Columbus. So it was dismissed as a hoax. But evidence of Viking settlements were found as far away as Newfoundland in the 1980s. So historians speculated that possibly a ship had sailed south and gotten lost. And some kind of conflict had begun because the writing on the stone; it's a warning. And I felt like, "wow. "That's a great action concept, you know? And then when I finished the "Pusher" trilogy that I began to kind of see okay now I know how I can make this film at a budget that I can get fairly easy and control it.
No, because I think originally it I had more conventional approaches to it. I was just never very happy with it, but I wouldn't let it go. Finally I came up with the idea about a man prison on top of a mountain. And he doesn't know where he comes from. And he doesn't know where he's going. And it came to me very late at night. Then [Norwegian novelist and short-story writer] Roy Jacobsen and I had to come up with a story around that, and it became more like a science-fiction film in a way. And I guess it's because I always wanted to make a science-fiction film but without science. Like, mental fiction.
There's cinematic influences all over this one.
Well there's a lot of "Stalker" by Tarkovsky, and there's a lot of "2001," "Escape from New York," like the whole Snake Plissken kinda one-eyed thing persona of who they are. Einsturzende Neubaten, the German band, their music was very inspiring. I usually work with contemporary themes, so I use contemporary music, and I work with music a lot. But here it was very difficult – what would this movie sound like?
The droning, thunderous tribal music in the movie is really amazing, but at the same time it's used very sparsely.
Yeah, if I were to describe what the film was it would be like silence, like putting like this [pause to listen to the room ambience]. That sound you create in your head. I was always really fascinated by the drug films of the '70s and late 1960s. How do you make a film that's like a drug? And I don't do drugs, so it was an interesting kind of approach to see what could I come up with.
Was it a hard sell? I can't imagine anyone in America would ever finance this movie. I mean that in a good way.
It's like with "Bronson," nobody in the world, would have financed it. I mean they would when they saw the result, but 'Bronson' was financed because I was going to make a movie about Britain's most dangerous prisoner, and there was gonna be a lot of fights. It's just like 'yeah, it's a geezer lad movie – "yeah, we can get that going!" Shot for a million dollars. With 'Valhalla,' I was gonna make a Viking action film with Mads Mikkelsen and that kind of already gave us the money. Because he's well known, and me and him and the 'Pusher' trilogy and our past work.
So you keep your costs way down.
That's how you survive. I mean, 'Valhalla' was about three and a half million dollars. And I always say this, because I own it also, but the way you survive in the film industry, really, is unless you go to Hollywood and you work within that system, you got to learn two things. You gotta learn how to write. You don't have to be good at it, you just have to learn how to do it. Because if you can't find anything, then you gotta do it yourself. And then you gotta learn about distribution. If you don't, then you're cutting off your knowledge of how to get your film released. And then, the two things you have to think about when you make a movie is you've gotta make it good, which is relatively individual and you've gotta make it cheap because each dollar is a headache, and how many headaches do you want, really? The less headaches, the more fun. And that's how I was able to make these films.
Mads seems like a muse, but it seems like you guys have some tension, yeah?
We have a lot of tension, and we don't socialize. We never see each other. We don't work. I mean, I'll call him, and he'll call me, but it also has to do about a film we're working on or something having to do with publicity. But otherwise, we have zero interest in each other's lives.
Now is the tension something something you cultivate. You had a similar experience with Tom [Hardy] on 'Bronson' as well.
Tom is a great actor — but because we didn't know each other very well and only had like six weeks to make the movie, it was a very strange relationship because we suddenly had to become almost like one person because it was such an all-consuming performance. But when we had originally met, like the year before, we didn't like each other. I mean, we met in a wine bar in London and he's an ex-alcoholic and I don't drink alcohol so it was like the worst possible place. And I went out and looked for other actors but there was nobody. I spoke with Jason Statham about it, and Guy Pearce. But when it came time, there was nobody really else. The casting director suggested I would meet Tom again, and I was very childish about it like "no, that's never gonna happen!" He said," well, he is the best thing in England at the moment." And I was like a really stubborn kid and then I met him. And for some strange reason it suddenly clicked completely between us. Within ten seconds, we knew this was gonna work out.
We've described 'Valhalla' often as if "Terrence Malike had made a horror movie." How do you prep an audience for it. Because it's not your average experience.
I tell them I always wanted to make a drug movie. Because you can present it in one way as this movie is about some Vikings going crazy and killing each other. But at least I can see now that it has many themes going through 'Valhalla,' and it's very open to interpretation. But film, even though it's a visual medium, is strangely about the subliminal experiences. So even though it's the ultimate visual format, it's not about what you see, it's about what you don't see. It's about what's going on here [motions presumably to head] as you're watching a projected image.
This one has a lot of space and silence. Plenty of time for it to swirl around in your head.
Yeah, it's about science-fiction but without science. It's about faith, and what's beyond faith is when you die. Mads' character One-Eye is kind of like a monolith that appears when there's religious turmoil. Because in 1100, Christianity was spreading through Europe, and Paganism, which were never missionaries, were suddenly being forced to convert either by violence or they were bought basically, or they would fuse, and Jesus was sold as a warrior who died in battle.
He's captive on top of a mountain, and he's like an animal. He's primal. And he escapes, and becomes a warrior which means he begins to use his tools. And then he becomes a god, because the people around him begin to perceive him as the messiah. And then they begin to perceive him as the devil, so he represents heaven and hell. And then he becomes a man, and he sacrifices himself. At the end stage of the crusade, they realize where they had come to is not Jerusalem but somewhere else, and they almost start killing each other. When you die in battle, your sins are washed away from you. So, those kind of things were interesting. That's when One-Eye bypasses that and then he realizes that he's become man and he has to sacrifice himself. And he travels back to his origins which is earth and wind and nature which is before religion, before faith there was nature.
Do you consider yourself a genre guy?
Oh yes. I come from a background of, a family that — you know when the French New Wave came out that was their kind of *gasp* — so I've always grown up in a socialistic, well attended family where European art films were "the right" kind of film. And to me they were always kind of the Antichrist!
Ha! Was that a teenage rebellion type thing? So you're not into Bergman or anything.
Probably was a teenage thing. No, you know Bergman said something very good that you have to make three films to make one movie. I certainly have respect for a lot of these filmmakers but I never — I like Jean-Pierre Melville much more than I like the French New Wave.
And my theory is that genre films have become what the art film in the '60s were to my parents. Like, when you take a movie like "Oldboy" or a lot of the Asian invasion that took genre films – like even in the mid '80s with the whole Hong Kong wave was starting to come in with John Woo, I remember thinking that if my parents got high on Godard, I got high on John Woo because he showed me another form of cinema.
Another layer to it.
Yeah, just layer and possibility. And it's interesting because when the French New Wave kicked in, they trashed everything in Europe, but they kind of kept sacred hands on American genre filmmakers like John Ford and Nicholas Ray and Howard Hawks. And this was the same way, they were actually making versions of Sam Peckinpah and films like that. So the reason why we're in this position with cinema history, and also in television, why the genre shows are doing so well is because it's tapping into our fantasy element. It speaks to our imagination and not to our logic. We all have relationship problems and that has passed in a way.
Any genres that you'd like to tackle? Are we going to see you do a romantic comedy one day?
I would love to do a romantic comedy. No, I really would! I would love to do a musical! I would love to do like Jacques Demy movies or something like that, like really oversaturated champagne. But romantic comedies are quite hard to come by and they're quite hard to make good.
"Valhalla Rising" hits theaters on July 16. While this writer does not condone drug use, you know... it might not hurt.
Trailer: Julian Schnabel's Israeli-Palestine Conflict Film 'Miral,' Picture Set For A December 3 Release
Last month, we reported that The Weinstein Company had picked up Julian Schnabel's new film "Miral" for domestic distribution, planned for release sometime later this year. And now, a French trailer for the film has been released.
The film, adapted by Rula Jebreal from her own novel of the same name, revolves around a real orphanage in Jerusalem set up by a Palestinian woman (Hiam Abbass). From the looks of the trailer, Freida Pinto seems to take center stage here as a former inhabitant of the orphanage. We're a bit put off by the tone of the trailer, as the music gives a more mainstream flavor than Schnabel's previous work. Though the trailer's quick pace may just be marketing magic at work, the film does look a bit more conventionally riveting than his previous work, 2007's solemn "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." The film also stars Willem Dafoe, Yasmine Elmasri, Alexander Siddig and Vanessa Redgrave.
Look out for Tom Waits' "Down There By The Train" at the end of the trailer, too. Location and subject matter be damned, Schnabel seems to love using the guy's music (we can't blame him) regardless of the story he's filmed – Waits appeared on the soundtrack of both "Basquiat" and 'Diving Bell.' Perhaps a future collaboration between the two is in order?
The film was just dated for December 3 by The Weinstein Company and yes, this thing will totally get pushed for Oscar consideration with its timely subject matter. You can watch the French trailer below.
It's rare that we get a small, kid-driven movie in the theaters that's not a movie for kids. Off the dome, there was the unseen and under-appreciated Mexican film by Fernando Eimbcke, "Duck Season," and the London-set Shane Meadows social environment study "Somers Town." Both are incredibly delightful small films, ones that forego deep plot and focus on their characters. They're incredibly refreshing; a nice alternative to regular art-house non-narrative fare and bull-shit (or even well done) Hollywood bullshit. Lance Daly takes over the mantle this year, serving up his own take on the genre. "Kisses" follows the trend set by Eimbcke and Meadows, but isn't as involving.
The film wastes no time in proving that the two main characters would be better off elsewhere. It's Christmas Day, and Dylan's (Shane Curry) stepfather screams, yells and fights his wife. Dylan's brother ran away two years prior, and even the bullies don't think he's worth bothering with - they stop on their bikes, curse him off, and ride away, presumably having bigger fish to fry. Kylie (Kelly O'Neill), Dylan's neighbor and only friend, is relegated to walking her baby sibling, taking abrasiveness from her peers (who teasingly ask if her and Dylan have had sex yet), and fighting with her teenage sister. It's not so bad for her (at least until we learn more about her relationship with her uncle), but it's still pretty dour and Kylie is just as eager as Dylan to get the hell out of there. Once Dylan injures his stepdad in defense of his mother, the couple high-tail it in search of something better. They hop on a small boat and head to Dublin.
Posted by Christopher Bell at 9:15 PM
After hearing several reports that the trailer for Warner Bros. "The Town" (directed by Ben Affleck) was screened in front of "Inception" -- including one from our EIA --we pretty much had no doubt we'd be seeing the trailer any minute now. And well, yup, here it is.
The follow-up to Affleck's very admirable, "Gone Baby Gone," "The Town" is based on Chuck Hogan's novel "Prince of Thieves" and is crime thriller as well as a love triangle. It stars Affleck, Rebbeca Hall and "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm as a thief, a bank manager connected to one of his earliest heists and a FBI agent looking to bring him down, respectively. The picture also stars "The Hurt Locker" star Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Pete Postlethwaite and Chris Cooper.
The script is credited to Affleck, Sheldon Turner (an early version of "Up In The Air") and Peter Craig. Here's the full synopsis.
Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) is an unrepentant criminal, the de facto leader of a group of ruthless bank robbers who pride themselves in stealing what they want and getting out clean. With no real attachments, Doug never has to fear losing anyone close to him. But that all changed on the gang's latest job, when they briefly took a hostage--bank manager, Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall). Though they let her go unharmed, Claire is nervously aware that the robbers know her name... and where she lives. But she lets her guard down when she meets an unassuming and rather charming man named Doug...not realizing that he is the same man who only days earlier had terrorized her. The instant attraction between them gradually turns into a passionate romance that threatens to take them both down a dangerous, and potentially deadly path."The Town" is scheduled to hit theaters September 17 which hopefully means it will screen during the Toronto International Film Festival a few days before (which will be the strong make or break indicator if it's a winner or not, but hell, it looks pretty fantastic in our book). An embed is below, or you can just go to Apple for the HD version.