Earlier this year, more than a few projects fell apart for Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, who was just coming off the success of "Bronson" and a successful TIFF premiere of this summer's "Valhalla Rising."
He had to pass on his "Jekyll & Hyde" project with Keanu Reeves and "The Dying Of The Light," starring Harrison Ford and Channing Tatum, crumbled under the weight of studio deals (or potentially Ford's notoriously cold feet).
But things have come together for his next project "Drive," of which he was so excited about working with Ryan Gosling, he flipped his plans and pushed back his neo-Western, "Only God Forgives" which he says he'll be shooting immediately after this neo-noir thriller about a Hollywood stunt driver (Gosling) who finds more excitement as a wheelman during robberies.
The film is already set for a September 20th shoot in L.A., so casting is ramping up. When we spoke to Refn earlier this summer, he said he had actors in mind, and one in particular for the villain role, but he said he didn't have anyone secured just yet.
But that has changed. Film School Rejects just talked to the filmmaker and he said AMC's "Breaking Bad" star Bryan Cranston has joined the cast. We should have guessed as much. After telling us about the roles in "Drive" he hadn't yet full cast, he praised the show among some other greats that have graced the small screen of late. "I think television is gotten so good. Genre shows like 'Breaking Bad' or 'Sopranos' and 'The Wire' have also set the bar very high for cinema."
We imagine more deals will fall in place and thus more actors will be announced soon. Anyone got a script? We'd love to read this one.
Earlier this year, more than a few projects fell apart for Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, who was just coming off the success of "Bronson" and a successful TIFF premiere of this summer's "Valhalla Rising."
Ah, Mark Millar. Of all the big name comics creators, none quite resemble a psychologically troubled child as much as the Glaswegian writer of "The Ultimates." Making Garth Ennis look like Craig Thompson, most of his work is personified by a spectacularly juvenile, sexist, misogynistic worldview, which never fails to make the reader feel a little bit unbathed. But, thanks to the success of "Wanted" (and, to a lesser extent, "Kick-Ass"), he's fairly hot property, and it looks like another adaptation of his work is on the way.
Millar (who's somewhat unreliable as a source on his own work, having previously claimed he'd approached to write the next "X-Men," a claim strenuously denied by Fox) spent much of last week teasing a huge announcement and it came yesterday, with Bleeding Cool, swiftly followed by Deadline, reporting that Fox have picked up the rights to Millar's most recent baby, "Nemesis," co-created with artist Scott McNiven, and that the suddenly omnipresent Tony Scott is attached to direct.
The comic, which is halfway through a four-issue run at Marvel's creator-owned imprint Icon, earning fairly weak reviews so far, starts from the conceit "What if Batman was the Joker?," and follows the titular supervillain, a genius billionaire who, bent on avenging the deaths of his parents, travels the world picking cops to torment, and finally returns to Washington DC to confront the cop who caused his family's deaths. The source material is typical Millar, who never met a subtle undertone he couldn't skullfuck while jumping from an exploding airship; it begins with a Japanese cop being run over by a bullet train, and also features Nemesis hijacking Air Force One and crashing it into Washington DC.
If we were to be generous, we'd say that "Kick-Ass" proved that adaptations of Millar's writing can rise above their source, and that, in Scott, he's found his perfect partner in bloated excess (Millar had previously claimed that Sam Raimi and Guy Ritchie were interested in an adaptation, but Scott probably seems like a better fit). We suppose the idea is kind of interesting, and that it could theoretically make for an interesting deconstruction of the superhero genre. But let's face it, it probably won't.
As we reported a few days ago, Scott is currently picking between three other possibilities for his next project, and with no writer currently on board this one, it's a few years off from happening. But you know, consider yourself warned.
There's definitely a small, but vocally snobby faction of film writers out there — yes, snobbier than us, believe it or not — who did not enjoy Guillaume Canet intense, genre-y mystery thriller, "Tell No One" which was a pretty sizable hit in France in 2006 and did well in the U.S. as well when it was finally released here in 2008. But it does have a 93% RT score and while not a film that made our best of list that year, and somewhat ephemeral of an experience, it's still a thrill ride that we enjoyed.
Canet, also an actor (the French 20-something in "The Beach" alongside DiCaprio), but probably best well known as the lucky bastard that gets to bed Cotillard every night (they're "domestic partners") and he's back with a new film called, "Les Petits Mouchoirs" ("Little White Lies") and it stars once again, "Tell No One" star François Cluzet, plus Cotillard, Benoît Magimel and Gilles Lellouche. The synopsis is thus:
Despite a traumatic event, a group of friends decides to go ahead with their annual beach vacation. Their relationships, convictions, sense of guilt and friendship are sorely tested. They are finally forced to own up to the little white lies they have been telling each other.It's a comedic drama, so it's pretty much the polar opposite of "Tell No One" which is probably a good thing; repetition can be dull. The film is due in France in October, but it's unclear when it'll hit Stateside. Probably sometime in 2011. Updated: Here's the French trailer which features Band Of Horses. [Rope Of Silicon/Movielicious]
Fake movie posters are always a lot of fun, and while the fake films for "Tropic Thunder" probably out-do these fake posters from "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World," they're still pretty amusing. These posters ("Let's Hope There's a Heaven" is our favorite, frankly) all center around Chris Evans' character, Lucas Lee, who is an evil ex-boyfriend of Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and a professional skateboarder-turned-actor (it's always been presumed this character is a knock on Jason Lee who is exactly that: a pro skateboarder-turned-actor, though we must say Lee is more affable and charming than the Lucas Lee douchebag character is).
"Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" hits theaters next Friday on August 13th. Ok, maybe we'd go see "Action Doctor" too. [Empire]
Jack Black & Shirley MacLaine Cast In Richard Linklater's 'Bernie;' Shooting In East Texas This Fall
As we reported back in early June, Richard Linklater was picking himself up and dusting himself off from the kick in the dirt that was the shelving of both his girls-on-a-road-trip Obama inauguration flick "Liars A-E" and "That's What I'm Talking About," the spiritual sequel to "Dazed and Confused." He wrote his intended rebound project, "Bernie," based on a true-crime story out of East Texas that Linklater wrote 10 years ago. And when we spoke to Linklater he described the project as, "my 'Fargo' in East Texas, where I grew up, so it's crazy local with fifty characters. It's about a funeral home assistant who befriends this old lady."
News arrives today Via Bleeding Cool and Short Film Texas that, "Bernie" is indeed a go with Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine attached to star, and the shoot gearing up to start in Texas this fall. Linklater's even put out the casting call in Texas for folks "who are not necessarily professional actors...the real deal – funny and interesting folks. There are a lot of small parts in the movie, mostly for people over 40."
Short Film also released a blurb from the Texas Monthly article that inspired Linklater and script co-writer Skip Hollandsworth. The tale also inspired the made-for-TV movie, "Strange Felony." The unusual tale, as described by Texas Monthly:
"This past August, however, Carthage captured the attention of the entire country when the news broke that the town’s richest and snootiest widow, 81-year-old Mrs. Marjorie Nugent, had been found in the bottom of a large freezer in her home. What made the story peculiar was that Mrs. Nugent had been dead for almost nine months before people began searching for her. What made the story truly bizarre was the way many of the townspeople rallied around the 39-year-old man who had admitted to killing her and stealing her money — the soft-spoken, chubby-cheeked Bernie Tiede, the former assistant funeral director at Hawthorn Funeral Home who had gotten close to Mrs. Nugent when he supervised her husband’s funeral."Black and MacLaine are the perfect choices to bring life to this little dark comedy, and if Black can dial down the man-child-possessed-by-sugar-demons energy with which he tackles almost every role, this could perhaps be a transcendent performance by him (though his maniac approach did work wonders for Linklater's cute and enjoyable, "School Of Rock.") There's a lot to be excited about, not the least of which is Linklater getting back into the directing saddle. Look for more news on this coming soon... and or right now. The trades have confirmed. It's a Castle Rock/Mandalay Vision film and it will shoot in October. Glad to hear that Linklater is officially back.
If there's anything more bizarre than this trailer for the $90 million Hungarian Christmas film "Nutcracker 3D" (or, literally, "Nutcracker and the Rat King") starring John Turturro, Nathan Lane, and Elle Fanning and directed by Andrey Konchalovskiy ("Tango and Cash" and writer of Andrei Tarkovsky classics "Andrei Rublev" and "Ivan's Childhood") ... then we're not sure if we want to hear about it.
The film, apparently a musical (which, to be fair, is mentioned in the director's IMDB bio so take this with a grain of salt as the trailer makes no indication of any of this, although considering the musical source material, it's entirely possible), will follow the classic tale of a young girl who is given a Nutcracker toy, it comes to life, they fight off the rat army together and dance at the end. Seeing as the Rat King is in the title and played by Turturro, and both him and one of the young protagonists are riding a motorized air-scooter with machine gun turrets in the trailer, there might be some embellishing going on here, such as giving the Rat King a beefier role.
Just another Christmas movie that, as insane as it all is, we'll probably forget come next year when another handful of Christmas movies come our way. The only reason to follow this one is to see if it even makes one-fourth of its budget back. Check out the trailer after the jump.
Documentary Oscar winner Louie Psihoyos ("The Cove") isn't stretching out on the couch, snuggling with his Academy Award (or signing on to a teen-pop star biopic for a day) - apparently, according to Momentum, via /Film, he's already shooting his next documentary, tentatively titled "The Singing Planet."
The director's sophomore film (which will be in exciting 3-D!) will focus on the extinction of wild life thanks to humanity's various exploits. "I think it's the biggest story out there right now," he told Momentum. He's probably right. Filming will take place in "The Gulf, Polynesia, all over the Pacific including Cocos and Galapagos, Europe," with others TBD.
While we're glad he's taking another critical eye at society, who knows how this one will fly with audiences. "The Cove" swept festivals and won the Oscar, and yes, some people went to see it (making $1 million world wide), but who knows how audiences will feel without an evil scapegoat. This is one subject that we're all apart of - It's easy to look at a small Japanese town and be disgusted and outraged with how they treat dolphins. Sure, maybe the film-makers hoped film-goers would examine how we treat other animals in our respective societies, but if so, it was an after-thought. This one is precisely about us and how we're treating our planet, and who knows how many people are actually going to want to see something that fatalistic. We're glad Psihoyos is back out there so soon and continuing his activism, and yeah, we'll see it and don't mind being called assholes (see our comments section) but the outside appeal of this one isn't so huge.
Also of note is the grand scale of this project. "The Cove" was relatively small, the subject being a fishing town in Japan. This film, being about, you know, the world, will cover entire countries. The director proved himself to be a very smart filmmaker, but who knows if he'll have the amount of discipline he had on his first film with the second. It's a lot more to tackle, and it'll be easy to get lost and buried in the sheer amount of footage and subject matter.
Though maybe he'll knock it out of the park again, and hopefully he does. Chances are we won't see this one for a while, as it sounds like there's still plenty of work to be done.
Like any good up-and-coming superstar, or Tom Cruise, Aussie actor Sam Worthington is now a name whose participation can green light any movie. Therefore, the actor is doing what Tom Cruise does; attaching himself to various projects that he wouldn't be embarrassed to be involved in, and then when one is ready and set to go, he just hitches a ride and is off.
"Man On A Ledge" is a relatively new potential gig for Worthington, but the picture is finding movement via screenwriters Erich and Jon Hoeber,who penned the upcoming Bruce Willis comic-book adaptation "Red," the not so successful, "Whiteout" and Peter Berg's "Battleship," who are in negotiations to rewrite the script.
Man On A Ledge" is a Summit Entertainment cop thriller where Worthington would play an ex-police officer threatening to jump to his death from a Manhattan hotel rooftop; unbeknownst to the police psychologists brought in to talk him down, the suicide attempt is a cover for the biggest diamond heist ever attempted. Last we heard Asger Leth ("Ghosts of Cité Soleil") was in negotiations to direct (Leth was also supposed to direct Josh Brolin in "Cartel," but Universal pulled the expensive plug earlier this year).
Buyer beware with this one: Lorenzo di Bonaventura ("G.I. Joe," tons of other crap) is the producer.
One of Hollywood's hottest screenwriters — or at least one that became white hot in the last few weeks — Aline Brosh McKenna ("The Devil Wears Prada"), has just scored another plum gig. She's writing a romantic comedy for burgeoning genre-geek super producers/screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (writers behind the "Transformers" series for Michael Bay, the "Star Trek" reboot for J.J. Abrams and the producers/writers of Jon Favreau's upcoming "Cowboys & Aliens")
A currently untitled romantic dramedy that Kurtzman and Orci will produce at Dreamworks under their Paper Products shingle, the film is based on McKenna's original script, following the "on-off love affairs and friendships among a close circle of friends over two decades." Variety's description kind of sounds like an extended version of "The Big Chill" only set over decades and not a reunion-like weekend, or perhaps a wider-scoped version of Lone Scherfig's currently-filming "One Day."
With live-action Disney properties being all the studio rage (thanks to the billion-topping "Alice In Wonderland"), McKenna recently capitalized on the craze, presciently pitching a "Cinderella" story that fetched her over seven figures from the Mickey Mouse studio (of course). Cameron Crowe is directing her script of "We Bought A Zoo," and while he's rewriting it, she'll likely get the top billing and screenplay credit (she also has an untitled J.J. Abrams project in the works set up under his Bad Robot shingle).
McKenna also penned "27 Dresses," for her sins, has several upcoming projects and wrote the upcoming "Morning Glory," starring Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford and Patrick Wilson (also from the Bad Robot stable), which hits theaters in November.
Post apocalyptic films are usually dead in the water, and even the best of them ("Time of the Wolf," "The Road,") are really dry or dull at times. One would think this wouldn't be the case, as the idea is certainly an intriguing one. So who's next in their attempt to bring life to such a bleak concept? Well, that would be none other than rogue filmmaker Abel Ferrara.
In an interview with Guardian, Ferrara talks very briefly about "The Last Day on Earth," a film he's currently prepping. The details are extremely bare, with the plot described as being about "what would happen if everyone knew the world was ending." He doesn't mention names or anything of the sort, but he does think that he will end up getting funding.
Thankfully, it seems like the film will not take place during the apocalypse, which will definitely keep the costs relatively low on this one. However, despite Ferrara's confidence, we can't help but remember all of the films he has on hold or that have been canceled. He walked away from Wesley Snipes vehicle "Game of Death, and one of the many "Jekyll and Hyde" projects, which had Forest Whitaker and 50 Cent, hit a road block when Whitaker backed out. Ferrara speaks more of the latter project, saying of 50 Cent, "He could be an awesome Ed Hyde. He's the real deal. But it's not gonna get made." He mentions that Warner Bros had only put up a fraction of the money, and that any film with Jekyll and Hyde being played by one actor "is an abomination." He also goes on to say that one day he will make it the proper way.
There's no mention of the previously announced Ferrara-led Broadway show "Short Eyes," nor is there any mention of AbelFerrara.com, something we've just discovered thanks to a little digging. GotchaMovies reports that the website would allow fans to watch video interviews and clips from his films, receive news from the director himself and also allow fans to interact with honest Abel. The article is dated May 24th 2010, and 2 1/2 months later there's still a blank page on the website.
In other words, who knows when or if this project will get off the ground. It definitely sounds interesting, it would be great to see Ferrara's take on a society that is aware of their planet's expiration date, but the film-maker doesn't seem to be in a rush to get this one done. We're just hankering to see another Abel film.
Thanks to the reader who sent us this excellent scan. It's a first look at James Franco in Danny Boyle's "127 Hours" from the newest issue of EW.
EW says when Boyle first heard about the story of Aaron Ralston that spawned this movie -- about an American mountain climber who became trapped under a boulder while canyoneering alone near Moab, Utah and the desperate measures he took in order to survive --he envisioned "an action movie where the hero can't move."
The "Slumdog Millionaire" director suggests a film that will be filled with tense desperation. "This movie is going to be obsessive, and it will be for obsessives," Boyle told EW. "You will want him to cut off his arm by the end."
The cast that includes Amber Tamblyn, Lizzy Caplan, Kate Mara and Clémence Poésy. Rather ambitiously, the film also features work from two cinematographers in Anthony Dod Mantle and Enrique Chediak and will predominantly follow Ralston through first-person POV dialogue, a narrative tool that should provide for a harrowing, claustrophobic cinematic experience.
Will the film premiere at the Toronto Film Festival as THR suggested this week? Considering a few of us will be in attendance, we sure hope so. Either way the film comes out November 5 in the U.S. and frankly, we can't wait.
A rumor we heard earlier this week, but neglected to report (because it seemed a little thin), has been validated. Well, sort of. Earlier this week we heard that Sony is interested in "Inglourious Basterds" star Christoph Waltz for the villain character in Marc Webb's 3D reboot of "Spider-Man." The same piece of information is now in this week's pages of Production Weekly: Sony interested in Waltz (presumably this is the Lizard if the rumors are correct).
But we're interested in being independently wealthy, that doesn't mean it's going to happen. If we were Waltz, we'd point to "The Green Hornet" and think, "Uhh, I just did that," and he strikes us as a real thespian and probably will take a meaningless meeting and pass, even if, between Michel Gondry's film and Paul W.S. Anderson's "The Three Musketeers," he already has form in lying back and thinking of the summer house.
But wait. Andrew Garfield was paid Marvel-like money (insulting peanut shells) for "Spider-Man," so there may not be a massive pot of gold at the end of that rainbow. Shrug. Don't get too excited, but we figured we'd mention since it's come up twice now. Pinch of salt, however you like, though "Spider-Man" is said to be shooting in December, so casting is probably ramping up.The only thing to desperately extrapolate here is that, with Waltz being Austrian, and the half-German Michael Fassbender previously being courted for the role, can we expect a Teutonic foe for Spidey? Umm... no.
The Wall Street Journal has an article online on the importance of international audiences to the profitability of films these days, particularly focusing on Paramount, and suggests that the tiny portion of the total gross for the original "Anchorman" brought in by foreign ticket buyers (slightly over $5 million, only 6% of the complete haul) was one of the reasons that the film wasn't green lit. Director Adam McKay comments "At the end of the day, the economics of the business has changed -- there is so much more pressure to play globally, and we couldn't fight that."
We suppose that's fair enough; Comedy is traditionally the genre that translates the least well overseas, with even something like "The Hangover" making 60% of its money domestically. But it also ignores a number of factors. Firstly, when the original film was released, few of its stars had any profile whatsoever outside the States (the likes of "Saturday Night Live" or "The Daily Show" rarely air outside America), so Will Ferrell was simply 'that guy from that kid's Christmas movie,' if anyone recognized him at all -- it's likely that him, Paul Rudd and Steve Carell are all more recognizable internationally than they were before.
Furthermore, the film's huge following on DVD and cable would have undoubtedly lead to the sequel increasing its box office exponentially, and we're almost certain it would have more than covered its costs, including marketing, from the domestic haul alone. And it's not like McKay wasn't willing to make concessions: the same article reports that there were attempts to reshoot Derek Jeter's part in "The Other Guys" with David Beckham or Cristiano Ronaldo for international audiences, although it proved unworkable in the end (the practice is fairly common with animation: British TV chef Jamie Oliver voiced the health inspector in the UK release of "Ratatouille," for example).
McKay doesn't sound entirely sold however, sardonically adding "Rather than trying to veer your audience toward the film, just tweak your film to the audience. Next, I'd like to start tweaking movies by region, one version for the Midwest, another for the East Coast, and the South."
But you know, whatever, Paramount. We hope "The Last Airbender" makes you a shitload of Euros.
Wachowski's Gay Romance Iraq-War Pic Actually Called 'Cobalt Neural 9'; Not Showing Actors Scripts To Their Highly-Secretive Project
Last we heard, the Wachowski brothers' sure-to-be-controversial, hard-R gay romance Iraq-War movie was called, "CN9."
Now we know that stands for "Cobalt Neural 9." According to Deadline, the filmmakers are meeting with actors now, but are being so secretive about the project, they're not even showing actors the script. Makes for a pretty strange audition we're sure and maybe Christopher Nolan is envious about these paranoid levels of security.
Interestingly, we found this random tweet in Google that reads, "COBALT NEUTRAL 9 : worst screenplay ever! Thanks to its writers who made me waste a LOT of time." It's from Charles Touboul, whose location is in Paris, France. And according to his linked in page, he's a Creative Executive at Gaumont and was once an acquisition executive at Canal +. Same script? We can only imagine that it is? Who knows, but that tweet is from May of this year.
The Deadline story doesn't reveal too many other details. No actors are named and the piece says this growing security tactic is changing the game for Hollywood since scripts always leak and therefore details get out there (not always, no "Inception" script has leaked yet and the movie's out there obviously).
So who is going to star in this taboo picture? Well, it's about an American solider who falls in love with an Iraqi, so that should tell you at least something about the two male leads' needed ethnicity's (or ethnic look anyhow). Can we suggest Israeli actor Ashraf Barhom ("Lebanon," "Clash of The Titans," "The Kingdom"), who is dark-olive skinned and could probably pass as an Iraqi easily (we hope that doesn't offend, he's a great actor and looks Middle-Eastern is all we're saying). It's also been described as a cinema verite-style treatment that begins in the near future and then spans back over years that include the current war in Iraq.
Amir Bar-Lev's adaptation of Robert Greenfield's "Dark Star: An Oral Biography on Jerry Garcia" — the story of the Grateful Dead lead guitarist's early life before he became the figurehead of the legendary jam band — has been dealt a severe blow with Garcia's estate refusing to allow any music rights for the project's use.
"We want to make clear that neither Grateful Dead Prods. nor the Jerry Garcia Family LLC are in any way working with -- or are in any other way affiliated with -- the supposed upcoming Amir Bar-Lev-directed biopic about Jerry Garcia," a statement revealed. "We will not be licensing any recordings from Grateful Dead or Jerry Garcia's music library for this production, nor will we provide the producer/director with access to any Garcia family members."
Denying nearly three decades of music from his subject is a setback for the "Tillman Story" and "My Kid Could Paint That" director, though hopefully may not hinder the entire project for him. Author Greenfield did reveal that "the movie ends when Garcia leaves to join the Dead [instead exploring] the period when the guitarist was working in coffee shops and playing bluegrass, newly married with a young daughter." So maybe Bar-Lev can find ways to work around it.
Script will come courtesy of Topper Lilien ("Dungeons & Dragons," "Where The Money Is") with the story hoping to portray Garcia as "a complex human being. After a certain point, everyone had their own vision of Jerry. This film is about who he really was before people made him what they wanted him to be. I think a lot of that has been lost in the legend and the myth that has grown since his death," author Greenfield added.
The film is eying a shoot for early next year and is being produced by Eric Eisner and Bona Fide partners Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa.
While like many comic actors, he has a specific persona that he often employs, with tweaks, he's not just a grotesquely hairy, shouty man-child. He is, of course, a grotesquely hairy, shouty man-child, but there are subtleties in all his performances that distinguish them; he's certainly no one-trick pony. And while his career has had both highs and lows, as a great man once said: "60 per cent of the time, it works every time."
With "The Other Guys," from Ferrell's most frequent collaborator Adam McKay, hitting theaters today, earning the actor some of the best reviews of his career, and a return to more serious fare on the horizon, alongside Rebecca Hall in the Raymond Carver adaptation "Everything Must Go," it seemed like as good a time as any to order three fingers of Glenlivet with a little bit of pepper and some cheese, and take a look at John William Ferrell; the man, the work, the legend, the male nudity.
One thing's for sure. Ferrell has never met a sport he didn't think was ripe for satire.
If you examine Jon Favreau's 'Elf" closely, Ferrell's Buddy can be seen as a precise distillation of most of the characters in the actor's filmography: an overgrown man-child who exasperates those around him through his lack of responsibility (he crashes at his father's posh apartment) and his complete inability to act as an adult (he eats everything with maple syrup). But even though we're known for our snark and cynicism here at The Playlist, "Elf" turns us into gleeful, giggling children who earnestly believe in the Capital-S-Spirit of Christmas. It's not just the surprisingly spry Bob Newhart or even the swoonworthy Zooey Deschanel that win us over; it's the wide-eyed wonder of Ferrell himself. He's entirely sincere in a role that others might have played with more than a bit of irony, and his genuine joy is infectious. [B+]
"Wedding Crashers" (2005)
"What is she doing back there? I never know what she's doing," on paper is an incredibly underwhelming line of dialogue, but thanks to Will Ferrell's honest and unflinching portrayal of living-breathing contradiction — the man-child lothario Chazz Reinhold — the line is rendered as a work of comedic art that precipitates tears of awe. David Dobkins' "Wedding Crashers" is far better than it deserves to be, but for all its cliches, it's a timeless modern comedy with some standout turns (Bradley Cooper and Rachel McAdams fully blossomed in these parts). Ferrell's part — the reclusive Casanova — is but a small cameo that lasts perhaps three minutes, but it's a ravishingly psychotic turn as a shut-in who is both generously amiable with his mother's meatloaf and wildly dangerous with nun-chucks, sometimes within the same breath. Ferrell essentially disappears into Chazz, a pioneering wedding crasher, so bored with the art he has perfected, he begins to up his sexual stakes into the realm of funeral pick-ups where grief is nature's aphrodisiac. His proclamation of, "I'm just living the dream," is frighteningly truthful. [A-]
"Kicking & Screaming" (2oo5)
Fairly maligned for stealing its title from a far superior and cherished Noah Baumbach indie comedy about erudite, but clueless college students struggling to become adults, Ferrell's spin on the milieu of futbol — this time as a coach, not a player — is unfairly besmirched for being PG kids-play. But it is a Judd Apatow-produced vehicle — a few months before "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" made him a household name — and it is an amusing, if gentle, riff on the "Bad News Bears" mien; a coach acting inappropriately around children generally provides laughs. If this writer — who once scripted a film with a very similar vibe, focusing on and exaggerating North America's general indifference towards soccer — can still enjoy the picture that made his moot without a trace of bitterness, surely you can give it another whirl. Plus: Robert Duvall and Mike Ditka as rivals. If there is one unique element about 'Screaming' it is that it embodies both of Ferrell's favorite dualities; the character is meek and polite, but thanks to a spiraling caffeine addiction, he blooms into an obnoxious monster. If that's not loaded with deep and pregnant metaphor about the world around us, we're not sure what is. [B]
“Stranger Than Fiction” (2006)
[Sarcasmotron turned off] It’s cliché yes, but the basic premise of the film, in which mild-mannered Harold Crick discovers his life is being narrated in a voice only he can hear by a reclusive author, asks us: what would you do differently if you knew your life was going to end soon? The film, criminally underrated and overlooked by critics and audiences alike, explores that answer with tenderness, humanity and humor. A remarkably tuned-in and dialed-down Will Ferrell finds his rebellious voice in an actual character rather than just amping the pitch of his voice. Aided by a very clever script by Zach Helm that plays like something Charlie Kaufman might have written (but sans the feeling of needing to prove himself on every page), “Stranger Than Fiction” makes it clear that Will Ferrell in a (semi) dramatic role shouldn’t be an oddity. [B]
This writer had a pretty good time at the BFI London Film Festival last year; while there was a few high-profile disappointments like "Nowhere Boy" and "Glorious 39," many of the big films like "Fantastic Mr. Fox" and "Up in the Air" more than delivered, while smaller gems like "Mother," "Scouting Book For Boys" and "Father Of My Children" provided most of the highlights.
The festival's rolling around again, set to run from October 13th to 28th, and the organizers announced yesterday that Mark Romanek's "Never Let Me Go" will make its European debut at the opening night of the festival. The film, which is set to premiere at Toronto, is a natural fit, coming from a novel by British writer Kazuo Ishiguro, a screenplay by Alex Garland ("Sunshine") and being set and filmed in the country, with a British cast, most of whom, including Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley, are expected to attend the screening, along with director Mark Romanek.
Romanek commented "I think I can speak for the entire cast and crew when I say we are deeply honored and excited to have been selected to open this year's festival. For me personally, it seems the perfect way to celebrate the conclusion of an incredible filmmaking experience in the UK."
On the one hand, we're a little disappointed; the festival has opened in the last two years with two world premieres, of "Frost/Nixon" and "Fantastic Mr. Fox," so it's a shame that a film that will already be rolling out around the world is the opener this time. At the same time, we can't wait to see Romanek's film (which doesn't open til January 14th in the UK); few films in the season hold as much promise, or would be such a fitting opening to the festival.
The full line-up will be announced on September 8th, but the smart money is on films like "The Kids Are Alright," "Another Year," "Chatroom," John Landis' "Burke and Hare" and Colin Firth vehicle "The King's Speech" (the latter a likely candidate for the closing night gala) all making an appearance, along with plenty of other festival favorites from Cannes, Venice and Toronto. Fingers crossed, we'll be there on the ground again this year. [Variety, Ultra Culture]
Rebecca Hall, Rose Byrne, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Deborah Ann Woll All Testing To Join Casey Affleck In 'The F Word'
One of our favorite romantic comedy scripts of recent years is "The F-Word," by Elan Mastai. Following Wallace and Chantry, two twentysomethings who meet at a party, and hit it off, but Chantry has a long-term boyfriend, and so the pair decide to remain friends, but struggle with their mutual attraction. It's a familiar premise, but extremely well executed, with well-drawn, likable characters, and dotted with some ingenious animated sequences. Essentially, it's like "500 Days Of Summer," but without the female lead being a paper-thin cypher.
It made the Black List in 2008, and Fox Searchlight finally began moving forward on it in recent months; "In Search Of A Midnight Kiss" director Alex Holdridge was appointed a few months ago, and Casey Affleck landed the role of Wallace at the end of June. Now, according to the latest issue of Production Weekly (as usual, not online except for subscribers, but p. 7 if you do have access), four actresses are in the running to join him, and they're some very high-calibre names.
The publication suggests that testing is underway for the role of Chantry, and that Rose Byrne, Rebecca Hall, Deborah Ann Woll and Mary Elizabeth Winstead are all likely to go before cameras to land the role; basically every young actress who's too tall to play Lisbeth Salander... Coincidentally, all four are totally our girlfriends. Production Weekly isn't always 100% accurate, but this seems like solid info to us.
If nothing else, it suggests that Holdridge has a very keen eye for casting. Byrne's a fine actress, who hasn't had the best roles of late, but showed a new talent for comedy by being one of the best things in "Get Him To The Greek," and looks to continue this with next year's Judd Apatow produced "Bridesmaids." Hall is obviously terrific, and this might fill the rom-com hole she missed out on after Richard Linklater's "Liars A-E" was sadly scrapped, while Woll, a star of "True Blood" has been linked with a role in Paul Thomas Anderson's new film, and Winstead is likely to be in demand after "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World."
Despite not being the biggest fans of "In Search Of A Midnight Kiss," we're pretty excited about this one, assuming any of the four actresses end up signing on. The big question here is Affleck; we're obviously huge fans, but he's somewhat untested as a romantic lead, and that was even before certain allegations made recently which may make it difficult for audiences to identify with him. But innocent before proven guilty and all, he's a fine actor, and should be a great piece of a promising package.
The summer symphony has swelled to early August and with that another broad comedy to heal the sunburn with a little laughter. Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg make for a perfect pair in "The Other Guys," an outrageous buddy cop movie that is certain to smother the box office receipts of the similar "Cop Out" from earlier this year. It also means that "Inception" should finally lose its top spot, perhaps even settling for bronze. That is if people will really pay $15+ to see "Step Up 3D". All signs point to yes, as earlier films made tidy dough, especially on DVD. Expanded limited release will see "Middle Men" and "Twelve" hitting 252 and 212 screens respectively. "Middle Men" appears to be the better picture, but most people can wait to Red Box these some sad and lonely night two months from now. It's a mixed bag at the arthouse this week, with "The Disappearance of Alice Creed," "Lebanon," and "Eccentricities of a Blond Girl" all having intriguing if imperfect qualities.
More capsule reviews from the 2010 Melbourne International Film Festival.
"The Killer Inside Me"
Michael Winterbottom's adaptation of pulp writer Jim Thompson's eponymous novel is a grim, darkly humorous and captivating look into the mind of a seemingly normal small town cop with an innate psychopathic and murderous personality. Casey Affleck is sublime in the lead role — a man flirting with a debilitating insanity — helped on by a strong supporting cast including Elias Koteas, Ned Beatty, Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba. It's a real shame the quality of the film and performances will long be overwhelmed by the reported controversies surrounding misogynistic violence which we thought was overstated. Or perhaps we've just been desensitized from all the talk about it. [A]
Director Im Sang-soo has revealed plans to direct a sequel to his remake of Kim Ki-young's classic erotic thriller "The Housemaid."
Speaking at the Melbourne International Film Festival (where we have a correspondent in attendance), the director noted he typically had three or so projects in the works at any one time with one currently being a sequel to his new remake. While production is totally dependent on potential financial backing, Sang-soo added that the sequel would likely be "more commercial" and center on a murder mystery in a similar setting to its predecessors.
Both 'Housemaid' films follow the story of a young housemaid who wreaks havoc, by way of of an affair with the patriarch, upon new employment in the household of an upper class family. The original is noted as being iconic for it's commentary on social class and kicked off a Housemaid trilogy for Ki-young that followed with "Woman Of Fire" and "Woman Of Fire '82."
Sang-soo's remake, meanwhile, premiered earlier this year at Cannes to mixed reviews and was just announced as a feature at the Toronto International Film Festival this September. IFC Films have also acquired the North American rights though no release plans are have been set just yet.
Alexander Payne Says 'The Descendants' Won't Be Ready Until 2011; Looking To Shoot 'Downsizing' Next Year As Well?
Shot between March and May of this year, Alexander Payne's adaptation of Kaui Hart Hemmings' "The Descendants" had looked like a possible late, late season award contender this year. That, however, is evidently not to be with the director now revealing that post-production on the film will run into early 2011 with a release potentially not coming until the fall season.
"I predict I’ll be working on it until January or February." Payne told the Omaha World-Herald. "[The release is] up to the studio. Because this film has more adult themes, they might hold it to fall of next year. We haven’t held those conversations yet."
The film centers on a wealthy Hawaiian man named Matt King, played by George Clooney, who takes his daughters on a road trip to find the man his wife has been having an affair with after a boating accident leaves her critically injured. "Only Clooney and the girls [played by Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller] have big parts. But they’re all important roles," Payne explained of the extended cast. "Beau Bridges plays a cousin of Matt King. Matthew Lillard is a lothario. Judy Greer plays the wife of the lothario. Robert Forster is Matt King’s father-in-law. Mary Birdsong is King’s wife’s best friend. Nick Krause is a good friend to Matt’s older daughter."
The Payne-Clooney collaboration is one we look forward to seeing dearly though it apparently could have come much sooner with the director noting he "had met [Clooney] twice, once over lunch when I was casting 'Sideways.' He was interested in one of the roles." "The Descendants" will not only excitingly mark their first union but also Payne's return since that trip to wine country.
When Time Magazine called 3D "the future of movies," we doubt this is what they had in mind.
But oddly, could it be a film that revives the dwindling format? The trailer for "Jackass 3D" has been unveiled — unfortunately in 2D — and exhibits all the crash, bang and debauchery we could ever wish for.
The film screened 8 minutes of footage at this year's Comic-Con to rave reviews with the footage included in this trailer seemingly a watered down version of that. Director Jeff Tremaine told Collider there that the film will likely be exactly 90 minutes, was shot using 3D cameras for about 80% of the time which will blend together with 2D footage and will feature signature 'Jackass' cameos and an opening scene that supposedly is "the best one yet" and "very 3D."
"It's definitely a fun thing to learn and figure out and hopefully we'll make the ultimate 3D film and no one will need to work in 3D after we're done. We'll destroy the format," Spike Jonze regular Lance Bangs told us earlier. "The stuff in 'Jackass 3D' so far looks like a ViewMaster. It's like candy, all the colors and levels of depth." We can't wait.
"Jackass 3D" hits theaters October 15th.
It's more or less what you'd expect when one of the most loved directors is linked to a left-of-field project but reports now peg that the story linking Quentin Tarantino to the gestating 20th Century Fox adaptation of "The Shadow" is not true.
Yesterday it was reported that Tarantino was in discussions — and may even already be on board — with Fox to rewrite the script by Siavash Farahani and direct the project, though as we noted at the time, the move was awfully out of character for the outspoken auteur to take on some unoriginal work even if The Shadow was the kind of pulp character right up Tarantino's alley.
An official representative of Tarantino has now reportedly told MTV that "there is no truth to this story" while QT Archives have added that they're "happy to confirm that the rumors are completely false." It'd probably be a pretty open-shut case but Pajiba and their Hollywood Cog source have a fairly solid record of breaking news and even braced themselves for the backlash (similiar to all their past exclusives), noting that this story was also "likely to be met with a lot of skepticism."
It'll remain to be seen where the story goes from here but, for now, we'll continue to consider it a rumor. Either way, but the film would seemingly only add yet another potential project to Tarantino's hefty plate which already boasts a spaghetti western focusing on slavery, an adaptation of a trilogy of Len Deighton spy novels, a 1930s gangster movie, and possibly a documentary on patron/friend Harvey Weinstein. God knows where his headed next.
With news coming in yesterday that Tony Scott was mulling over three possible projects for his next film, it seems as good a time as any to have a look at the one he's currently finishing up. "Unstoppable" is a big budget thriller due this November, which, like Scott's last film "The Taking of Pelham 123," stars Denzel Washington as an ordinary schlub who has to deal with a crisis involving a train.
This time, Washington plays an experienced train engineer, who's teamed with a rookie conductor (Chris Pine, in his first big role since "Star Trek"), but an ordinary day turns dramatic when an unmanned train full of toxic chemicals starts speeding down the tracks. The pair must race to stop it before it hits a curve and derails, threatening an entire town.
Considering the director, it all looks unsurprisingly high-octane and, well, Tony Scott-like, even if we're still not sure how much tension can be squeezed out of one train chasing another train along a straight line for 90 minutes. Washington might as well be asleep he's played this role so many times, but Chris Pine seems like he's carried over his Captain Kirk charisma, and the pair seem to have decent chemistry together. There's also a strong supporting cast, with the likes of Rosario Dawson, Ethan Suplee, T.J. Miller and someone we think might be Kevin Corrigan all serving as tech support/comic relief.
We're not expecting "True Romance," or even "Enemy of the State" from this one, but the clip suggests it might be a passable programmer to take your dad to over Thanksgiving. In the long term, though, we'll probably stick with Andrey Konchalovskiy's underrated "Runaway Train" for our track-based thrills. And it's not pretentious to say that, because it's got Eric Roberts in it. [/Film]
John Landis' "An American Werewolf In London" is probably one of the very very few horror comedies that actually work, and tone and execution-wise (sorry "Scream" series), the damn thing reaches near perfection. We've re-watched it fairly recently, and it hasn't aged a day, still funny, dark, and wonderfully gory, with a number of standout scenes and an ending both hysterical and chilling that has kept us from ever thinking of Picadilly Circus the same way again. Naturally, it's being remade.
We also finished re-watching "The Number 23" recently, but that was over PBR's while telling ironic drunken jokes because that's the breed of hipster douchebag we are. Few recent movies have gotten every single thing wrong about cinematic execution and, from start to end, the damn thing's a near Dadaist masterpiece of terrible. To rank as Joel Schumacher's worst film is... something special. We looked up "The Number 23" writer Fernley Phillips, and found that he, rightfully, had no post-"23" credits to his name. Until now.
Dimension Films, clearly with a sense of humor about themselves and a fair amount of spite for audiences and the original "Werewolf," have hired Phillips to pen the remake. No other talent is attached yet (and may never be), but the Weinsteins have been hot on this title since purchasing the remake rights in June '09, and this is the first confirmation it's in active development. Aspiring screenwriters take note: if Fernley Phillips can do this job, any fucking retard can.
Did Marvel's Notoriously Cheap Ways Bounce Jon Favreau Out Of Directing 'The Avengers' Or 'Iron Man 3'?
Good on Cinema Blend for again confirming what we've heard and expected of the working relationship between director Jon Favreau and Marvel Studios: it sucks. With "Iron Man" hitting major box office gold and laying the groundwork for the studio's ambitious crossover plans, most assumed he would get first dibs for "The Avengers" as a giant thank you from the fledgling studio to the man that made them bankable.
For a while, Favs seemed like the number one choice, but the big stumbling block turned out to be "Iron Man 2." Favreau was open about being rushed into production on the big budget sequel so soon after the first film, and it looked briefly like he would be replaced because they couldn't meet his quote (how familiar sounding). Favreau, quite the negotiator, used the fan outrage to his advantage once word got out that he was being lowballed and scored a much higher fee for "Iron Man 2."
Naturally, Marvel, living up to their petty reputation, reacted by poisoning the "Iron Man 2" well. Cinema Blend's source, while not providing specific hints, claims Marvel exerted strong control over the sequel, shoehorning in the hefty' Avengers'/'SHIELD' subplot meant to set up future movies in the Marvel universe. Even those who liked "Iron Man 2" found that these moments seemed more than a little detached from the major storyline, which itself felt patchy and underwritten.