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Weekly Movie News Rundown

March 28, 2015

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Time for your weekly movie news update!  Below you’ll find a slew of sentences meant to provide a brief glimpse of what’s been going on over the past week in movieland.  If something leaves you desperate for more info, then my advice is to do a little extra research on one or all of the following fantastic sites:  Latino Review, Dark Horizons, Ain’t It Cool News, CHUD and/or JoBlo.  Read on!

Joe and Anthony Russo have reportedly signed on to direct Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 and 2.

Idris Elba may sign on to be the villain in Star Trek 3.  Elba is also expected to appear in Harmony Korine’s The Trap.

Matthew McConaughey is set to star in The Billionaire’s Vinegar.  It’s said to be about the 1985 purchase of a bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafite Bordeaux that was once supposedly owned by Thomas Jefferson.

Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline) is said to be up for a role in Star Wars: Rogue One.

Twentieth Century Fox has hired Art Marcum and Matt Hollway (Iron Man) to write a new version of Alien Nation.

Sony has secured the rights to Robotech and plans on turning it into a film franchise.

Nick Antosca (Hannibal) has been hired to write a new Friday The 13th film.

Newcomer Lane Condor has landed the role of Jubilee in X-Men: Apocalypse.

Bradley Cooper will make his directorial debut with A Star Is Born.  Beyonce may star in the film.

Vivica A. Fox has signed on to appear in Independence Day 2.

Jennifer Lawrence let it slip that X-Men: Apocalypse will be her last film in the series.

Vincent D’Onofrio is reportedly in talks to play the villain in Antoine Fuqua’s remake of The Magnificent Seven.

Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) has been hired to write a heist film for Steve McQueen.

Adam McKay is reportedly close to signed on to a direct a Marvel film.

Jason Segel and Drew Pearce have signed on to co-write and co-direct a LEGO spin-off film, The Billion Brick Race.

Steven Spielberg is set to direct the adaptation of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is reportedly in talks to star in the remake of Force Majeure.

Martin Scorsese may direct the big screen version of Kenneth Branagh’s version of Macbeth.

Rumor has it that Mateus Ward (Murder In The First) recently auditioned for the role of Spider-Man.

This Week’s Notable Trailers

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In Review: SXSW Film 2015

March 26, 2015

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Now that I’ve had a few days to put the chaos of SXSW behind me, I’m ready to divulge what I thought of the ten films that I saw during the festival.  For fun, I’ve sorted them from best to worst.  Read on.

Ex Machina

As I was walking out of the Paramount a guy in front of me looked over at his friend and excitedly labeled Ex Machina as an “instant classic.”  I don’t know if I’d go that far, but it is a great film.  The directorial debut from Alex Garland (writer of 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Dredd and more) is a heady sci-fi thriller that had me engaged and on the edge of my seat right from the start.  Oscar Issac, Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Viklander are absolutely great it, and I suspect that all of their character’s actions will be the subject of drunken debates for years to come.  I can’t wait to see Ex Machina again.

Furious 7

I’m prefacing my comments about Furious 7 by noting that I truly adore the entire Fast And Furious series.  All of the films are self-aware adrenaline rushes that aim to delight the senses, and I can’t think of a better example of escapism than what Vin Diesel and the gang have done over the years.  With all of that being said, it’s only half accurate to say that I went into Furious 7 hoping for more of the same.  Yes, I wanted the crazy car stunts, heavy handed monologues from Vin and more, but the death of Paul Walker meant that the film needed a sizable dose of sensitivity to go along with the speed, and I wanted it done right.  I wanted to see Walker honored and not just awkwardly dealt with because it had to be done.  Thankfully, all turned out well, and nothing about the film feels forced or tacked on.  It’s big and crazy (just like it should be), but then when it needs to get small and intimate, it does.  Good on director James Wan for taking what could have been a huge mess and turning it into a triumph.

Trainwreck

If you’ve ever seen a Judd Apatow film, then you’ve seen Trainwreck.  It’s funny, raunchy, 20 minutues too long and loaded with quotable bits.  Amy Schumer is charming and hilarious in the film, and I’ll be surprised if she doesn’t become a new go-to for female roles in comedies.  Also, LeBron James is pretty damn solid in it.  Who knew he had such good comedic timing?

Love And Mercy

Brian Wilson’s story is interesting, complicated, sad and totally not something that should be crammed into a single film.  Somehow though, Love And Mercy works.  Director Bill Pohlad wisely just shows only the necessary portions of the two most important stretches of Brian Wilson’s life, and Paul Dano and John Cusack both do a wonderful job of portraying the famed artist during those times.  I highly recommend you see it regardless of whether or not you’re a fan of Wilson.

The Final Girls

The Final Girls is a horror comedy that follows a group of friends who get sucked into their favorite slasher film and then must figure out a way to survive.  It’s super meta and very much a spiritual successor to Cabin In The Woods.  Now, just so I’m clear, I’m not saying that The Final Girls is as good as Drew Goddard’s 2012 hit.  A sizable amount of jokes miss completely and often the “world” that the characters exist in makes no sense at all, but overall it’s a fun time that will play well for those who enjoy clever horror movies.

Hello, My Name Is Doris

Hello, My Name Is Doris is about an older woman (Sally Field) who is doing her best to woo a much younger man and make up for the all the years she lost while taking care of her sick mother.  I found it to be charming, funny and heartfelt, but also too goofy for its own good.  Fortunately, Field is so great as the troubled, but tenacious Doris that you’ll probably be too caught up in rooting for her to even notice when the film tries to throw itself off the rails.

Honeytrap

Honeytrap deals with a series of unfortunate decisions made by Layla (competently played by Jessica Sula), who desperately wants to be accepted and loved.  It’s depressing.  See it only if you’re in the mood to be reminded that some people have practically no shot at a better life.

Just Jim

Directed by and starring Craig Roberts (Neighbors), Just Jim is a coming of age film that features a twisted sense of humor and interesting characters.  Check it out so that you can see Emile Hirsch in full-on bizarro mode as Jim’s mentor.

Quitters

There’s not much to like about Quitters.  The main kid (Ben Konigsberg) is quite possibly the most unlikeable character I’ve come across in a long while, and I spent much of the movie hoping he would get hit by a meteor.

Brand: A Second Coming

Brand: A Second Coming is nothing but an eternally long wad of nonsense.  I know Russell Brand said he didn’t want to show up to the SXSW premiere because he felt watching it would be “uncomfortable” for him, but I think it’s because he knew it wasn’t any good.

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Movie Breakdown: Get Hard (Noah)

March 26, 2015

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

It’s got Kevin Hart in it which automatically drops it down to the very bottom of the list after anything starring Ian Ziering and George W. Bush’s amateur sex tape.

The Reality:

At this point, with comedies of this mind-numbing stature, I don’t even know what to say anymore. Did I enjoy the story of a very rich man (Will Ferrell) who’s sentenced to maximum security prison for money reasons and so believes that he’s going to die in the joint that he enlists his car washer (Kevin Hart) to teach him to, ahem, “get hard”? Yeah, like I enjoy unsalted mash potatoes or, uh, lukewarm bubbly water. Did I think the film bordered on the edge of offensive, and used a paper thin veneer of “social commentary” to just actively endorse the ridiculing of stereotypes? Yeah, sure. At the end of the day would I tell you, the reader, to go out and see this movie in the theater because it’s a redefinition of comedy, a broad new step in the career of Will Ferrell, that it ends with Kevin Hart falling off a building? No, no I wouldn’t. Get Hard plays like a “greatest hits” reel of Will Ferrell’s very Will Ferrell-y comedy – he cries, he “sad dogs”, he acts like a gangster, he plays a sort of sad giant (an Elf with money instead of gifts) totally unknowing of the world around him. It’s enjoyable to watch Ferrell because he’s an enjoyable actor, but you could’ve cut out the ham-handed story, especially the relationship that builds between Hart and him, and just strung the leftover bits together and called it Saturday Night Will and it would’ve been just as enjoyable. Get Hard is the definition of a “vehicle” for two stars – it’s a loose story built around them just doing dumb shit – and though, yes, it will illicit some laughs, you have to sit through the rest of the crap to get to them.

The Lesson:

T.I. is a surprisingly funny actor. You learn something new every day.

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Weekly Movie News Rundown

March 14, 2015

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Time for your weekly movie news update!  Below you’ll find a slew of sentences meant to provide a brief glimpse of what’s been going on over the past week in movieland.  If something leaves you desperate for more info, then my advice is to do a little extra research on one or all of the following fantastic sites:  Latino Review, Dark Horizons, Ain’t It Cool News, CHUD and/or JoBlo.  Read on!

Rogue One is the official name of the first Star Wars spinoff film.  Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) will direct.  Felicity Jones (Theory Of Everything) will star.

Disney has officially announced Frozen 2.

Rings will be a prequel to The Ring.  F. Javier Gutierrez (Evil Dead 2013) is set to direct.

John Lasseter and Josh Cooley will co-direct Toy Story 4.

Tim Burton is set to direct a live-action version of Dumbo.

Tron 3 will reportedly start shooting later this year.  Joseph Kosinski is expected to return to direct the sequel.

Eddie Murphy has joined the cast of Lee Daniels’ Richard Pryor biopic.  Mike Epps is set to star in the film.

Josh Gad will portray La Fou (Gaston’s sidekick) in the live action version of Beauty And The Beast.

Jamie Foxx recently let it slip that Martin Scorsese is going to direct him in a Mike Tyson biopic.

Joe Carnahan will write and direct Motorcade.  The story is said to be centered around terrorists attacking the President’s motorcade.

Kate Mara is set to star in Morgan, which is said to be about a risk-management consultant who must decider whether or not to terminate an at-risk artificial being.  Luke Scott (Ridley’s son) will direct.

Ruben Fleischer will direct Miles Teller in The Life And Times Of The Stopwatch Gang.  It’s based on the true story of a trio of Canadian bank robbers.

Rumor has it that Warner Bros. are interested in casting Chris Pine as the lead in the Green Lantern reboot.

This Week’s Notable Trailers

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Movie Breakdown: Run All Night

March 12, 2015

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Taken 4: Run All Night sees Liam Neeson on a mission to save his son (played by Joel Kinnaman).  Ed Harris and Common are the bad guys.

The Reality:

Mob stories have been done to death, but every now again a little something slips out and refreshes the genre.  Run All Night is not that something.  Just like director Jaume Collet-Serra’s previous two Liam Neeson-led films – 2011′s Unknown and last year’s Non-Stop – it’s an okay action flick that’s so generic it becomes wholly forgettable the moment the credits hit the screen.  Hell, I’m roughly 98% sure I’m going to end up catching it on TV in a few years and watching it as though I haven’t already slogged my way through it before.  Then I’ll be treated to its paint-by-numbers experience all over again!  I can’t wait.  But seriously though, Run All Night is less bad of a bad film and more of a boring one, and if you were to get out this weekend and see it you’d probably be more inclined to simply shrug your shoulders than frown with disappointment, but does that mean it’s worth your time and money?  I say no.  And frankly, it might be better at this point to stop supporting Liam Neeson in roles like this.  The guy is on the verge of needing another career reboot.

The Lesson:

We have to figure out a way to steal Liam Neeson away from the clutches of Jaume Collet-Serra.  That guy is not a good director.

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Movie Breakdown: Cinderella (Noah)

March 12, 2015

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The Impression:

Kenneth Branaugh has made two of my least favorite movies of the last ten years. Match his heavy, uninspired hand with Disney’s recent need to “reinvent” their classic characters and I’d say this is the least excited I’ve been about a film since I’ve started writing for this blog.

The Reality:

I don’t need to ever see a traditional imagining of a classic story ever again. I never need to see one of our national written treasures – the Hamlets, the Red Riding Hoods, the Grapes of Wrath – portrayed as originally written. We’ve come so far in our abilities to make films and instead of pushing the envelopes of what our films can be, we’ve regressed into making slack-jawed word-for-word adaptations of our prized texts. Cinderella, as directed by Kenneth Branaugh, is the definition of a traditional text being treated as such. This is Cinderella (Lily James from Downton Abbey) as a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, scarily skinny, white girl in a blue dress, who with the help of her fairy godmother (Helena Bohnam Carter) must win the heart of her Prince. A Prince (Richard Madden from Game of Thrones) with a granite-jaw, a cod-piece and the bright blue eyes of a serial killer. This is Cinderella where everything you’ve ever seen happen in any version of Cinderella ever happens. It is a moment-for-moment adaptation of the Disney cartoon of the 1940s, and it is both dull and near offensive in its lack of originality. If you want the story of Cinderella that you’ve grown up with, the one with the crystal slipper and the blue dress and the pumpkin cart and mice and so and so forth (which I really do imagine a lot of you do) then this is very much the film for you. If you want a film that looks at our fairy tales and tries to apply any sort of modern context to them, one that uses a term like “classic” to hide the word “boring”, a film that will continue to impress upon your children that the face of a prince and princess are always white – then this is the film for you. I’m not asking for steampunk Cinderella, I’m not asking for manga-Cinderella, or Quentin Tarantino’s take on the glass-slippered starlet – I just want whomever, inevitably, picks up this property next to think, “Maybe there’s a different angle here.” There might be an argument that in a time when irony and snark are so often beaten over our heads, that a film that earnestly approaches its subject is a good thing. I just don’t think that earnestness and interesting and original filmmaking are mutually exclusive subjects.

The Lesson:

I spent most of this film vacillating between a sort of forced hibernation and looking at the little girl next to me who was leaned forward in her chair, head perched on her hands, absolutely loving the shit out of this film. It’s not a film for me, but that little girl was truly enchanted.

The Lesson Pt. 2:

Cate Blanchett is fantastic in this film as the evil stepmother. She’s vicious, wily and seething with evil, and every moment she was on screen I could almost convince myself that I was enjoying the film.

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Movie Breakdown: The Hunting Ground (Noah)

March 11, 2015

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The Impression:

Kirby Dick and company take on college rape and higher education’s controversial methods of dealing with the pervasive problem. Sounds like I’m leaving this one with a stomach full of rage.

The Reality:

Kirby Dick has made a film aimed at exposing the severity of the rape issue on college campuses. More so, he’s made a film that calls bullshit on the absolutely horrifying way that university’s have chosen to deal with the subject. Simply put: rape is a big problem on college campuses, a bigger problem than you think, but the biggest problem is that colleges are protecting their own self-interests by shaming rape victims and purposefully neglecting to report or punish on-campus rapists. It’s a brutal subject and Dick manages to dig deep not only into the stories of a small handful of the women (which is still a pretty big handful) who’ve been victimized, but also the perpetrators of the acts as well as the culture of colleges that breeds what one woman refers to as a “hunting ground.” He points fingers at the universities, the fraternity system and college athletics, all the while showcasing the noxious entanglement of education and finance that promotes the horrifying atmosphere so many women (and men) are a part of. It’s a brutal subject and Dick manages to showcase that. Which is what makes this a good documentary, but Dick is a good director, not a great one, and the film never coalesces into the searing classic it could be. This may seem insensitive, but Dick is actually fairly heavy-handed with the material. You don’t need to play sweeping orchestral music or Lady Gaga’s It Get’s Better time and time again for the audience to know that the horrible, violent rape of our college-aged men and women is awful. Dick doesn’t trust his material though and at the times when you’re ready to throw a brick through the fucking screen because some rich, white man is telling a rape victim to go home and sleep it off, the music swells and all of a sudden it feels a little maudlin. Strangely, a few of the times when Dick isn’t beating you over the head with the topic, he’s gone in the other direction, contrasting terrifying data with upbeat music or almost chipper animation. The disparity between the subject, and the two tones casts the film into an aesthetic limbo. We live in an age of amazing documentaries about subjects broad and wide, inspirational and awful, that are near perfect examples of the melding of tone and subject. And though Dick is a seasoned documentarian (an Oscar-winning one at that) The Hunting Ground finds it subject, but isn’t able to find the film to match it.

The Lesson:

Higher education, you have a lot to atone for.

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Weekly Movie News Rundown

March 8, 2015

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Time for your weekly movie news update!  Below you’ll find a slew of sentences meant to provide a brief glimpse of what’s been going on over the past week in movieland.  If something leaves you desperate for more info, then my advice is to do a little extra research on one or all of the following fantastic sites:  Latino Review, Dark Horizons, Ain’t It Cool News, CHUD and/or JoBlo.  Read on!

Drew Goddard (Cabin In The Woods) will write and direct The Spectacular Spider-Man.

Jeremy Renner is reportedly set to appear as Hawkeye in Captain America: Civil War.

James Mangold recently noted that he expects to shoot the next Wolverine movie “early next year.”

Diablo Cody (Juno) has been hired by Sony to rewrite their Barbie movie.

Luke Evans will play Gaston and Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) will be the beast in Disney’s live action Beauty And The Beast.

Jessie Usher (Survivor’s Remorse) has landed a role in Independence Day 2.  He will portray the son of Will Smith’s Captain Steven Hiller.  Smith is not expected to be in the film.  Also, Liam Hemsworth and Jeff Goldblum have signed on.

Steven Spielberg may direct Jennifer Lawrence in an adaptation of Lynsey Addario’s memoir, What I Do: A Photographers Life Of Love And War.

Joseph Kosinski may direct a Gran Turismo movie for Sony.

Denis Villenueve (Prisoners) will direct Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner in Story Of Your Life.  It’s said to center around an expert linguist who is recruited by the military to communicate with aliens.

Ang Lee is going to adapt Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.  Newcomer Joe Alwyn is set to star in the film.  Garrett Hedlund (Tron Legacy) and Steve Martin may also sign on.

Bryan Singer will direct an adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon Is  A Harsh Mistress.

Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite) is set to direct Overnight at 42nd Street.  The film will reportedly follow a man and his son as they try to defuse a hostage situation that develops while they’re in a toy store.

Peter Berg, Ronda Rousey and Iko Uwais (The Raid) are teaming up for the action thriller Mile 22.

This Week’s Notable Trailers

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Movie Breakdown: Chappie (Noah)

March 6, 2015

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

I was ready to disown director Neill Blomkamp after the abysmal Elysium. After seeing the trailers for his new film Chappie, seemingly about a sensitive robot who learns to gang-bang, I’m ready to start weaning his name out of the human language.

The Reality:

You know, Chappie could’ve just been a film about a rogue, sentient robot named Chappie and the near-braindead gangsters who teach him how to act tough, shoot guns and tear doors off cars and it would’ve been pretty watchable. Instead, to my great surprise, Neill Blomkamp is able to inject the story of, you know, Chappie with a strong message, a beating heart, and some epic bits of robot-on-robot action and to erase my fears about his future output in the process. Chappie, if the setting was different, and the main character not a ebonics-spouting South African cop-robot, could be a film that shows the danger of our upbringings. Chappie, one more time, is a cop-robot set for destruction when his “Maker” (Dev Patel) imbues him with artificial intelligence, just prior to being robbed and kidnapped by two bad haircut sporting South African thugs (Yolandi and Ninja from Die Antwoord basically playing fantastical versions of themselves). The rest of the film bounces back and forth between the philosophical struggle of how to teach a robotic baby how to live, Hugh Jackman (with the fucking worst haircut of all time) trying to sabotage the robo-baby, and Chappie (a marvel of computer graphics) learning how to c-walk. It really could be an awful film but Blomkamp shows the chops that made District 9 so remarkable, and makes a film that’s ostensibly about just how horrible human beings can be. The strongest moments of the film are Chappie learning to be relatively human. His emotional output (as voiced by Sharlito Copley) grows realistically and by the time he’s got a gold necklaces and a gat and he’s robbing an armored truck, you can believe that he’s ended up there. You can believe that the selfish interests of others have forced this blob of moldable robot clay into a sort of thugged-out criminal. It doesn’t all work out. Dev Patel’s character seems overly tacked on, and his presence in every scene takes away from the gangster Chappie story. Sigourney Weaver is barely there and when she is she’s stiff and awkward. And again, Hugh Jackman (though I like his villainous role) has the worst hair of all time. That said, Chappie was a pleasant surprise, Short Circuit with a more skilled director behind the wheel.

The Lesson:

Putting Die Antwoord into your film requires that they just get to play themselves. And that they wear their own merchandise and the soundtrack only consists of their songs. Hell, with a few cuts, this just could be one long Die Antwoord video.

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Movie Breakdown: Unfinished Business

March 5, 2015

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Three guys go on a business trip.  The trailers have done well to make the movie not look funny at all.

The Reality:

If you take a solid look at Unfinished Business, you’ll notice it does have the right pieces.  There’s an accomplished cast (Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco, Sienna Miller, Nick Frost and others) and a solid premise that follows three guys as they work hard to try and save their business.  Also, the film has a big ole heart.  Vaughn’s Dan Trunkman is simply on a mission to do right by his employees and his family, Franco’s Mike Pancake is a loveable dolt and Wilkinson’s Timothy McWinters is an old man who just wants to find true love.  It’s all so sweet!  And, unfortunately, woefully unfunny.  I’m all for any comedy that wants to stray away from being mean-spirited, but it at least has to be chuckle-worthy, and Unfinished Business just isn’t packing in that department.  I barely laughed at all.  It was good to see a “nice” comedy, but the lack of laughs really made for a tedious time.

If you’re hoping to see something that will crack you up this weekend, your best bet is still Fifty Shades Of Grey.

The Lesson:

Always make sure “funny” is on the list of ingredients for your comedy.

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Weekly Movie News Rundown

March 1, 2015

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Time for your weekly movie news update!  Below you’ll find a slew of sentences meant to provide a brief glimpse of what’s been going on over the past week in movieland.  If something leaves you desperate for more info, then my advice is to do a little extra research on one or all of the following fantastic sites:  Latino Review, Dark Horizons, Ain’t It Cool News, CHUD and/or JoBlo.  Read on!

Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners) is reportedly close to signing on to direct the Blade Runner sequel.  Harrison Ford will star.

Leonardo DiCaprio will star in The Crowded Room.  The film is based on the book The Minds Of Billy Milligan, which details the true experiences of Milligan as the first person to use mental illness as a defense against his crimes.

Richard Linklater has signed on to direct an adaptation of Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go Bernadette.

Rob Schrab (Community) is set to direct The Lego Movie Sequel.

Ben Hardy (EastEnders) is set for what’s being called a key role in X-Men: Apocalypse.

Blake Lively and Jason Clarke will star in Marc Forster’s All I See Is You.  It’s said to follow a blind woman who starts to see disturbing things after her sight is restored.

Evan Daugherty (Divergent) has been hired by Warner Bros. the write the Tomb Raider reboot.

Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike will star in James Mangold’s The Deep Blue Good-By.  The film is based on the book series that features sleuth Travis McGee.

Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire) may star in the remake of The Crow.

Arnold Schwarzenegger recently noted that he’ll be back for the next Terminator film.

Simon West (The Expendables 2) will direct Henry Cavill in Stratton.  The film is based on the book series that features Special Boat Service Commando John Stratton.

John Lee (Broad City) has signed on to direct Pee-wee’s Big Holiday.  The film will be released via Netflix.

Nicolas Cage has joined the cast of Oliver Stone’s Snowden.

Jessica Chastain has signed on for a role in The Huntsman.  The film is a prequel to Snow White And The Huntsman.  Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron and Emily Blunt are already set to star.

A Bruce Lee biopic is currently being developed by his daughter, Shannon Lee.

Christopher Cosmos has been hired by Nu Image/Millennium Films to write the remake of Red Sonja.

Will Ferrell is set to star in The House, which is reportedly about a man who opens up an illegal casino in the suburbs.

Robert Townsend will direct a remake of Brewster’s Millions.

This Week’s Notable Trailers

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Movie Breakdown: My Life Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn (Noah)

February 26, 2015

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Nicolas Winding Refn is a weird director. I mean sure, you can watch Drive and just say he’s another stylized action director, but then dig a little deeper, get your nose in Valhalla Rising or Bronson, and this guys got a whole other party raging in his head. That’s what this film is about, that other party.

The Breakdown:

My Life Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn (which from this point forward will be referred to as My Life because I have fat fingers and I get sweaty easily) clocks in at a minute over an hour, and that was exactly the amount of time I could handle living inside of the domestic life of The Refns. I guess that’s what you get when you make the decision to film your famous-director husband in the throes of trying to film his poorly received, art-house, Thai, Gosling-starring action film. It isn’t that this is a bad movie, for what it is it’s actually a pretty incisive, revealing portrait of a director trying not to be defined by just one thing (Refn’s prior film Drive) and Refn (here being filmed by his wife, the director of the documentary) allows honest emotion to be captured for the screen. It’s just that Refn, mostly angry, sometimes sad, a lot of the time full-out depressed, is hard to watch. He comes across as petulant and self-obsessed and though you learn almost nothing about his wife (aside from the fact that she struggles with her professional life in the shadow of her husband) you do learn that living with Nicolas Winding Refn is the equivalent of living with a sad shark, who mopes around all day thinking about his hunger until somewhere someone does something and he lashes out, shiny teeth gleaming. You also learn that Ryan Gosling and Refn have a sort of bromance going on that involves a lot of hugging and talking about emotions. And even though Gosling (the star of Only God Forgives) is only in it for a few scenes, his natural warmth, his genuine sort-of goofy sweetness acts as a mirror to Refn, highlighting just how cold and emotionally withdrawn the director is. Again, it’s only an hour, and the length helps and mostly hurts it. We see Refn in his the thrall of his mood swings, over and over again, but we never get past the emotional pain to see why or what causes this. It ends up painting Refn as a whiny ponce (which maybe he is) but doesn’t give any reason that he’d be angry about his beautiful and lovely kids and big, crazy house in Bangkok. Instead you get just one hour to have one argument firmly slammed home – Nicolas Winding Refn is kind of an asshole.

The Lesson:

Don’t marry Nicolas Winding Refn.

My Life Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn is due out on VOD and in select theaters on February 27.

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Movie Breakdown: Focus

February 26, 2015

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

The romantic crime drama-looking Focus is Will Smith’s first real attempt at apologizing for After Earth.  With him is the beautiful Margot Robbie.

The Reality:

When it came time to scribble down a post-film comment, “decidedly average” was the only way I could think of to describe Focus.  Will Smith and Margot Robbie have good chemistry and the film itself is fairly entertaining, but it’s all nearly buried by far too many twist and turns that aren’t remotely clever or surprising.  Also, the tone of the film is just all over the place.  Maybe it’s because of the litany of double crosses at play, but it constantly ping pongs between being funny, serious, sexy and dangerous like it’s desperately trying to keep you distracted so that you won’t guess what’s going to happen.  Except you’re going to, because Focus telegraphs every single one of its punches.

If you’re willing/able to switch off your brain for a bit, I think you’ll find Focus to be an alright time.  Just know going in that it’s a safe and predictable film that you’ll watch and probably instantly forget.

The Lesson:

Keep on truckin’, Will.

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Weekly Movie News Rundown

February 21, 2015

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Time for your weekly movie news update!  Below you’ll find a slew of sentences meant to provide a brief glimpse of what’s been going on over the past week in movieland.  If something leaves you desperate for more info, then my advice is to do a little extra research on one or all of the following fantastic sites:  Latino Review, Dark Horizons, Ain’t It Cool News, CHUD and/or JoBlo.  Read on!

Production on Mission Impossible 5 has shut down due to the ending getting a rewrite.

Neil Blomkamp is officially set to direct an Alien movie for Fox.

Morena Baccarin (Firefly) has landed a lead role in Deadpool.  It’s rumored she will portray the character Copycat.

Despite having portrayed Colossus in various X-Men movies, Daniel Cudmore will not be in Deadpool.  The role is being recast.

Will Smith may star in Bounty.  The film is said to follow a convicted murderer who escapes prison in order to try and prove his innocence.

Kodi Smit-McPhee (Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes) has landed the role of Nightcrawler in X-Men: Apocalypse.

Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Irrfan Khan, Omar Sy, and Sidse Babett Knudsen are set to star in Ron Howard’s adaptation of Dan Brown’s Inferno.

Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Kaya Scodelario (Maze Runner), Brenton Thwaites (The Giver) and Golshifteh Farahani (Exodus: Gods And Kings) have signed on for Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.  The film will reportedly follow Jack Sparrow as he searches for the Trident of Poseidon so that he can stop a group of ghost pirates.

Timothy Olyphant and Rhys Ifans have joined the cast of Oliver Stone’s Snowden.

Rumor has it that Steven Spielberg is interested in directing Chris Pratt in a reboot of Indiana Jones.

The author of the Fifty Shades Of Grey books is reportedly demanding to be given screenwriting duties on future films.

Gore Verbinski is set to direct what’s being described as a “driver-less car race” film for Sony.

Producer John Davis (Predator) is said to be working on a reboot of Shaft.

Ewan McGregor will make his directorial debut with an adaptation of Philip Roth’s American Pastoral.  Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning will star opposite him in the film.

Jay Roach will direct Scarlett Johansson in the adaptation of Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test.  Kristin Gore (Futurama) will pen the script.

Kristen Bell will star opposite Melissa McCarthy and Peter Dinklage in Michelle Darnell.

Jay Hernandez (Gang Related) has landed a role in Suicide Squad.

SNL’s Cecily Strong is said to be up for a role in the Ghostbusters reboot.

This Week’s Notable Trailers

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Movie Breakdown: Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (Noah)

February 19, 2015

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

C’mon, if you saw the first film about four idiots who go back in time to the 1980s to, I don’t know, look at boobs or something, you’re probably mildly interested in seeing the sequel in which they go into the future to, uh, look at boobs.

The Reality:

Now, I want you to understand that when I level the term “dumb” against Hot Tub Time Machine 2 as a criticism, I understand that coming into this film, as a fan of the original, that these films are the definition of dumb, that they mine their humor from playing on the tropes of dumbness, that it’s a hot summer day and dumbness is the delicious, teeth-rotting Kool-Aid of Hot Tub Time Machine 2. That said, this film is dumb in a bad way. Where Hot Tub Time Machine The First used its dumb stick with maybe even a modicum of finesse (context people), Hot Tub Time Machine 2 just loads it in the dumb gatling gun and sprays it around like a 40s gangster. For a variety of reasons Hot Tub Time Machine 2 finds our protagonists, now fabulously wealthy because of their time-toying (shy one John Cusack, who clearly had better things to do…) in search of Lou’s (Rob Cordry) killer … IN THE FUTURE. Cue jokes about future sex toys (the “Dick Hole” device), future drug use (the “ladybug” device), future realities where people are matched with entirely out-of-their-league partners (the “coat check girl” device) and and other, future-y stuff. Amongst all the self-aware riffing (a major drag on this film) and dick jokes, Steve Pink (who so ably meshed stupid with funny in the first film) tries to weave in some emotion, hell even a plot, but it gets buried under layer after layer of occasionally funny potty humor. And this is what kills me about the adventures of Nick (Craig Robinson), Jacob (Clark Duke) and Adam (Adam Scott – far funnier here than in anything else I’ve seen him in) – the dumb has taken over entirely, and this time it’s mean spirited. Sure, it seems like maybe once, a long time ago, these people were friends, but all of them sans straight-man Jacob, are so terrible to each other (hell, just terrible in general) that the film becomes a big, bubbling cesspool of meanness. This is funny to some people, a bunch of dudes fucking with each other, and I think with a more steady hand and a better script this could be funny too, but instead it ends up like watching a comic version of a Tucker Max book but instead of it ending with him shoving coins in a girl’s hoo-ha, it ends with unearned sappiness.

The Lesson:

Alright, just a quick dip in the nerd pool. I understand that Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is not a film predicated on science, but for the amount they talk about time travel (and they do, even if they’re making fun of it), could they at least have tried to make it somewhat, ahem, realistic? It was distracting how little effort they put into making time travel slightly functional, but still spending a million hours describing it and trying to explain why the situation everyone was in worked. Pick a side Pink, you want scientific time travel, do it; you want four stupid guys getting sprayed in the face with semen, do that. But you can’t have both.

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