Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Brides Maids - Preview

It feels like the most talked-about film on Twitter (by the Tweeps I follow, anyway) is the Judd Apatow produced, Paul Feig directed Brides Maids.

Starring Saturday Night Live's Kristen Wiig (the single, 30-something maid of honour) & Maya Rudolph (the bride), Gilmore Girls' hilarious Melissa McCarthy (the groom's sister), a bunch of other funny ladies (bridesmaids) & a very smartly cast against-type Rose Byrne (the competition).

So it's The Hangover with girls, but don't let that scare you off - this is where ladies get to be funny & keep it real, instead of just being some guy's love interest.

Rude, but with heart, I give you Brides Maids:

Alexander Payne & George Clooney team up for The Descendants

George Clooney & director Alexander Payne have teamed up for Payne's latest film, The Descendants, an adaptation of Kaui Hart Hemmings' tragicomic novel of the same name.

The premise is simple - 'a land baron tries to connect with his two daughters after his wife suffers a boating accident' (thanks, - but the combination of Clooney, Payne, tragicomedy & distributor Fox Searchlight promises very good things indeed.

Clooney is on a winning career-streak where he can do almost no wrong, Payne's films (Citizen Ruth, Election, About Schmidt, Sideways & his glorious 5 minute segment 14e Arrondissement in Paris, Je t'Aime) have gone from excellent to flawless, and never fail to deliver pitch perfect, heavily flawed characters & a perfect balance of challenging drama & insanely funny entertainment (depending on what mood you're in).

Fox Searchlight has a knack for picking winners lately (Little Miss Sunshine, Juno, Slumdog Millionaire...) so keep your eyes on this one.

Short teaser clip:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Cannes Winners

Brad Pitt in Terence Mallick's Tree of Life
So the critics weren't crazy about it, and it got both 'whoop!'s & 'boo!'s at Cannes, but Terrence Malick's Tree of Life has won the Palme D'Or.

All the winners:

Palme D'Or: The Tree of Life - Terrence Malick
Grande Prix: (tie) Le Gaumin au Velo - Dardennes brothers & Once Upon a Time in Anataolia - Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
Best Director: Nicolas Winding Refn - Drive
Best Actor: Jean Dujardin - The Artist
Best Actress: Kirsten Dunst - Melancholia
Prix du Jury: Polisse - Maiwenn
Prix du Scenario (Best Screenplay): Hearat Schulayim - Joseph Cedar 
Camera d'Or (Best first film): Las Acacias - Pablo Giorgelli
Un Certain Regard: Prix Special du Jury: Elena - Andrey Zvyagintsev
Best Short Film: Cross Country

I hope this isn't the last we hear of Jean Dujardin in The Artist, but don't bet on Kirsten Dunst going much further than Cannes. Although Lars Von Trier is phenomenal with his lead actresses, his films are tough to swallow, and while Cannes thrives on difficult films, the Oscars don't. Bjork (Dancer in the Dark), Charlotte Gainsbourg (Antichrist) & now Kirsten Dunst have all recently won Best Actress at Cannes for their roles in difficult Von Trier films.

Only Emily Watson (for Breaking the Waves) has ever gotten an Oscar nomination for a performance in a Von Trier film. But maybe just maybe Dunst has enough goodwill with the Academy to pull it off?

But this certainly marks Tree of Life as your first likely Best Picture nominee - it may divide critics & audiences, but it will likely get enough impressive attention to get it into the Top 10.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Adventures of Tin Tin - Trailer


Should be fun, but I can't help being skeptical about the motion capture animation - too lifelike & it becomes creepy... Judah Friedlander has explained this at length in 30 Rock.

But it's Spielberg & Jackson, master entertainers, so we will give them the benefit of the doubt, for now.

James Stewart Clips

Great clip of James Stewart & Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story:

As endearing drunk, Elwood P. Dowd, in Harvey:

Screen electricity with Grace Kelly in Rear Window:

Hitchcock just brought out another side of James Stewart - Vertigo:

Classic Court Room thriller Anatomy of a Murder - this trailer is crazy nuts!! Somehow, though, it does manage to sell the film.

Happy belated Birthday to the late James Stewart

James Stewart would have been 103 yesterday.

A movie icon and an American war veteran, Stewart was nominated for 5 Best Actor Oscars, and won once - strangely enough for The Philadelphia Story (a great performance, but hardly the first to come to mind).

Pretty pictures from some of his most memorable performances:

Mr Smith Goes to Washington - 1939 (Oscar Nominee)

With Marlene Dietrich in Destry Rides Again - 1939
With Margaret Sullavan in The Shop Around the Corner - 1940
With Kate Hepburn, Cary Grant & John Howard in The Philadelphia Story - 1940 (Oscar winner)
It's a Wonderful Life - 1946 (Oscar Nominee)
Harvey - 1950 (Oscar Nominee)
With Grace Kelly in Hitchcock's Rear Window - 1954
Re-teaming with Hitchcock for Vertigo - 1958
Anatomy of a Murder - 1959 (Oscar Nominee)

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - 1962

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Jeremy Renner is the new (kind-of) Jason Bourne

Jeremy Renner will be headlining the new Bourne franchise (not as Jason Bourne, but as a 'Jason Bourne-like character') but he was neither director Tony Gilroy nor Universal Studios' first choice.

Tony Gilroy has made his name lately writing tight, morally conscious scripts that keep things understated & grounded in reality (Michael Clayton, The Bourne Ultimatum) and, according to Angie Han over at SlashFilm, he wanted to cast a lesser known actor to dig into the character, and had his eye on Animal Kingdom's Joel Edgerton.

Universal Studios, of course, wanted a big name to draw crowds, and apparently were gunning for Tron: Legacy's Garrett Hedlund, Dominic Cooper or Luke Evans, but according to, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire, Michael Fassbender, Josh Hartnett, Paul Dano (really?), Michael Pitt, Friday Night Lights' Taylor Kitsch & Alex 'I am Number Four' Pettyfer were all considered for the part.

Kudo's to Renner for getting it, then, regardless of whose choice he was. With this, The Avengers & Mission - Impossible: Ghost Protocol coming up on his resume, his career will certainly never be the same again.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Artist - Trailer

This is the coolest thing I have seen in a while.

An actual silent film about the transition from silent film to talkies in 1920s California - premiered at Cannes to glowing reviews. Looks awesome:

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Miranda July's 'The Future'

Since her 2005 indie hit, Me and You and Everyone We Know, Miranda July has kept herself busy with performance art, multimedia projects (like 2006's Things We Don’t Understand and Definitely are Not Going To Talk About), publishing short stories and writing / directing her latest quirky gem, The Future.

I'll tell you one thing - indie Hollywood sure has a massive lead on mainstream Hollywood when it comes to creating intriguing trailers & posters. This may be a matter of necessity for the indie scene, or it could be thanks to Hollywood's assumption that audiences are stupid & possess only pre-packaged expectations, or perhaps it comes down to whether creatives or  executives are behind the decision-making.

Either way - enjoy:

More The Future artwork + clip from Me and You and Everyone We Know AFTER THE CUT.

Midnight in Paris - Preview

Woody Allen's latest, Midnight in Paris, has won over the early critics in Cannes, although mostly everyone seems to agree that they don't dislike it.

'Allen had made one of his best, probably without giving it too much thought' - Sasha Stone

Allen's whimsical Parisian fantasy is being called silly and sweet but also delightful. The consensus seems to be that it is one of Allen's most focused and entertaining efforts of the past 10 years and, thankfully, it features no older men making it with young girls.

A romantic and nostalgic love letter to the City of Lights, it follows Owen Wilson as unlikely - but reportedly charming - Woody Allen surrogate, Gil, a dissatisfied Hollywood screenwriter / wannabe novelist drawing inspiration from & engaging - quite literally, thanks to a handy time-travel mechanism - with Paris's cultural history.

Midnight in Paris boasts a typically impressive cast, but while the real-world characters are said to be written as broad stereotypes (Rachel McAdams & Michael Sheen are wasted as annoying fiancĂ© & stuck up snob, respectively), the fantasy-world offer more complex and beguiling character - Kathy Bates as a straight-talking Gertrude Stein, Adrian Brody as Pablo Picasso, Marion Cotillard as a mysterious beauty with a taste for seducing artists, and most notably Corey Stall as scene-stealing, contradictory Ernest Hemingway.

Allen has commented lately on his disappointment in his own work as an artist and, in Midnight in Paris, he seems to be contemplating the flawed human personalities that create great art, particularly great literature, and the nostalgia that imbues greatness on the ordinariness of the past.

Allen has worked in Paris before (as writer / actor in 1965's What's New Pussycat, and briefly in 1996's Everyone Says I Love You) but this is the first time the city has taken center stage. New European locations seem to be Woody's creative Viagra, making their mark on his titles and box office returns, but repeat visits seem to yield diminishing returns (London revived his career with Match Point, but not so much with Scoop Cassandra's Dream). Curiously, Allen has yet to explore America beyond the borders of Manhattan - Republican America may be far more foreign to him than the artists of Europe. 

Europe also holds obvious travelogue appeal, and cinematographer Darius Khondji is unsurprisingly being celebrated for shooting the Paris of everyone's imagination.  

Almodovar's The Skin I Live In - Teaser Trailer

Pedro Almodovar's latest Spanish melodrama reunites him with Antonio Banderas, who appeared he launched in a series of zany / kinky / dark comedies & in the late 80s (notably, 1986's Matador & 1990's Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down).

Based on Thierry Jonquet's novel Mygale, Almodovar will apply his offbeat melodramatic sensibilities to this revenge thriller about a plastic surgeon's (Antonio Banderas) hunt for the man who raped his daughter (Elana Anaya). Pretty standard territory for Almodovar...

I'm a big fan of Almodovar's more heartfelt work (particularly Talk to Her), and his films are always gorgeous and polished, but I found 2009's Broken Embraces self-indulgent, self-important, high on style and low on substance. It also strangely undermined Penelope Cruz's talent by turning her into countless reincarnations of male fantasies.

Happy to give The Skin I Live In a fair bash, though.

I love how there is always somehow a trace of Almodovar's background in underground, punk & comic books in his style.

Drive - movie clip

Perhaps I am just seeing what I want to see, but Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive looks promisingly fresh & intense. Cinematography & subdued score very effective.

We will soon know more when the first reviews start coming out of Cannes.

We can confirm this: There Will Be Driving

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May the Fourth be with you!

Courtesy of Olly Moss. He should design all movie posters, exclusively. Happy Star Wars day:

Thor - Review

The sets are super cool. Chris Hemsworth has mad muscles, lady eyes & growl/talks. Natalie Portman is feisty & cool & a lot less embarassing than in No Strings Attached. The romance is sweet / unconvincing, but the strained deity-family dynamics propels the plot along nicely. It's far from brilliant, but it's good, pretty fun. It's Thor.

Wouln't it be cool if they had used British grahic designer Olly Moss's poster (created specially for cast & crew only) :

'Tree of Life' - first clip

Entertainment Weekly has an exclusive clip from Terrence Mallick's upcoming Tree of Life.

Check it out. It's dreamy.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

High Praise - & trailer - for Meek's Cutoff

"This tough, quiet revelation of a movie… makes everything feel at once mundane and mysterious. But tucked inside these carefully old, almost anecdotal narratives are intense emotions, intractable social problems and human truths that are too deep, too sad and perhaps too painfully absurd to name… MEEK'S CUTOFF is built around a dialectic of freedom and constriction… An undercurrent of mordant comedy… Ms. Reichardt is too wise and self-assured a filmmaker to offer easy answers. MEEK'S CUTOFF is as unsentimental and determined as Ms. Williams's character, its absolutely believable heroine. It is also a bracingly original foray into territory that remains, in every sense, unsettled." -- A.O. Scott, The New York Times
Click here to read the full review.

The year is 1845, the earliest days of the Oregon Trail, and a wagon train of three families has hired mountain man Stephen Meek to guide them over the Cascade Mountains. Claiming to know a short cut, Meek leads the group on an unmarked path across the high plain desert, only to become lost in the dry rock and sage. Over the coming days, the emigrants face the scourges of hunger, thirst and their own lack of faith in one another's instincts for survival. When a Native American wanderer crosses their path, the emigrants are torn between their trust in a guide who has proven himself unreliable and a man who has always been seen as a natural born enemy.


Michelle Williams is a western feminist heroine, & Marilyn Monroe

Following her Oscar nomination for Blue Valentine, Michelle Williams ups her profile with two powerful new roles - first, she teams up with her Wendy & Lucy director, Kelly Reichart, to play stoic feminist heroine Emily Thetherow in Reichart's acclaimed intellectual & enigmatic western, Meek's Cutoff.

After that, she takes a stab at Hollywood History, and more Oscar glory, as Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn, which chronicles the infamous tension between Sir Laurence Olivier and Ms Monroe on the production of The Prince and the Showgirl. Kenneth Branagh plays Sir Laurence Olivier, appropriately enough; Branagh & Olivier share a passion for adapting Shakespeare, successfully, both behind & in front of the camera.

If anyone can nail Marilyn's externally superficiality & internally complexity, it's Williams.

Lastly, she stars with Seth Rogan & Sarah Silverman in Sarah Polley's bittersweet comedy / drama Take this Waltz. She plays Margot, a woman 'struggling to choose between two different kinds of love', whatever that means.

Be it as it may, Michelle Williams' star is rising.

Ryan Gosling in Drive, the Ides of March & Logan's Run!

After 3 quiet years between Lars and the Real Girl and Blue Valentine, Ryan Gosling is back & churning out quality new projects like they were easy to find in Hollywood.

All Good Things

In addition to his Oscar-overlooked Blue Valentine, Gosling rounded off 2010 with another acclaimed performance as enigmatic rich kid in true-life murder mystery / love story All Good Things, with Kirsten Dunst & Frank Langella. I still have flashbacks of wanting to throttle Dunst in Elizabethtown, and the trailer (below) is pretty bad. But the film looks interesting & Gosling brilliant as ever:

Crazy, Stupid Love

Next year, Gosling is headlining 3 high profile movies:

First, he tries his hand at comedy / lighter drama opposite Steve Carrell, Julianne Moore & Emma Stone (nice cast) as womaniser Jacob Palmer (whose cold heart melts when he meets his true love, as usual) in Crazy, Stupid Love. Cool trailer below. 

The Ides of March

Then he joins one heck of a cast (Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Geoffrey Wright) in George Clooney & Grant Heslov's adaptation of Beau Willimon's  play, political drama The Ides of March. Clooney & Heslov's last outing together was the brilliant Good Night and Good Luck, so colour this one 'excited'.

Lastly, Gosling headlines Drive as a Hollywood stuntman / getaway driver using his skills to protect Carey Mulligan, her baby & himself from sinister forces in Nicolas Winding Refn's adaptation of James Sellis's acclaimed novel. Debuting at Cannes, so it's not that kind of action thriller. I hope.

In other news, Gosling recently signed up again with Nicolas Winding Refn for his upcoming adaptation of sci fi classic, Logan's Run, about a future where life is perfect, but ends at 30, and was briefly attached (or rumoured to be) to Gore Verbinski & Jerry Bruckheimer's The Lone Ranger, with Johnny Depp as Tonto. He is no longer attached (or rumoured to be) to the latter, but looks like Logan's Run is happening.