Helen Mirren, Russell Brand and Djimon Hounsou in  the poster for Julie Taymor's "The Tempest"
Credit: Touchstone Pictures

Contrasting posters debut for 'The Tempest' and 'It's Kind of a Funny Story'

A triple theme seems to be in vogue

Two posters for two highly anticipated films made their debut this week and while on the surface they don't have that much in common on the big screen, they may as examples of key art.

First up is Julie Taymor's "The Tempest."  A holdover from Disney's sale of Miramax.  The adaptation of Shakespeare's play stars Helen Mirren, Djimon Hounsou, Chris Cooper and Russell Brand.  The new poster pushes Mirren and Hounsou and the darker elements of the tale in a three segment approach.  The question is whether or not that's Brand in the top image or not.  In either case, it's somewhat surprising the younger-skewing comedy star wasn't highlighted more in this design.  And while certain elements are striking in the design, it's hardly as memorable or iconic as posters for any of Taymor's previous works including "Titus," "Frida" or "Across the Universe." The drama will debut as the closing night feature of the Venice Film Festival and also screen during the New York Film Festival.

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Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp in "The Tourist."

Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp in "The Tourist."

Credit: Sony Pictures

Is Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp's 'The Tourist' taking a trip to Oscar?

New dramatic thriller gets a plum Dec. release date

The 2011 awards season already looks like a bumpy road with studios strategizing to hold certain contenders out of the festival circuit ("The Fighter," "True Grit,") while others go full bore for maximum effect ("Black Swan," "The Social Network").  Now, an interesting carrot is being thrown into the mix with the new Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp thriller "The Tourist."

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Evan Rachel Wood in Frank Miller's Gucci Guilty commercial

Evan Rachel Wood in Frank Miller's Gucci Guilty commercial

Credit: Gucci

Watch: Rachel Evan Wood and Chris Evans tease Frank Miller's new 'Guilty' spot

Don't hate them because they are beautiful, hate them for the lack of creativity

Don't hate Chris Evans and Rachel Evan Wood because they are beautiful.  They can't help it.  It's a combination of good genes, working out and Southern California stylists who have made their bodies what they are today.  You can, however, wonder when the director of their latest commercial, Frank Miller, is going to evolve his cinematic style.

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Megan Fox walks the red carpet during the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival.

Megan Fox walks the red carpet during the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival.  She returns in 2010 with the new drama "Passion Play."

Credit: AP Photo

Megan Fox's 'Passion Play,' Clint Eastwood's 'Hereafter' and Will Ferrell's 'Everything Must Go' bolster Toronto's starpower

Toronto is clearly the must attend festival of the fall for Oscar watchers

This year's Toronto International Film Festival will not be for the weak of heart.  The festival already features Darren Aranofsky's "Black Swan" with Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis, "Never Let Me Go" starring Keira Knightly and Carey Mulligan, Woody Allen's "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" with Josh Brolin and Naomi Watts, Robert Redford's "The Conspirator" starring James McAvoy and Evan Rachel Wood, "The Debt" with Helen Mirren and Sam Worthington and Ben Affleck's "The Town" with Jon Hamm and Jeremy Renner.  Now, the festival has announced a slew of new films that will either premiere or screen and, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie notwithstanding, they will absolutely increase the festival's starpower.

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Natalie Portman is a ballerina in the dramatic thriller "Black Swan"

Natalie Portman in Darren Aronofsky's "The Black Swan."

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Watch: Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis embrace and battle the 'Black Swan'

Darren Aronofsky's latest ready to make its mark on awards season

One of the most intriguing titles in development over the past few years has been Darren Aranofsky's follow up to "The Wrestler," the thriller that dances around a supernatural theme, "Black Swan."

Set in the competitive world of the New York City Ballet, "Swan" finds Natalie Portman playing an up and coming prima ballerina who is suffocating under the pressure and demands of  the company's artistic director (Vincent Cassell) after she is chosen as the lead in a new production of "Swan Lake."  Things turn curious and dark when a rival appears in the form of Mila Kunis as Portman's character begins to have a psychological breakdown.  Oh, and there is one other stunning transformational element, but let's save that for the end of the trailer.

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Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim in "Scott Pilgrim vs the World"

Michael Cera and Universal gave it their all to convince moviegoers to see "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World," but it appears the battle has been lost.

Credit: Universal Pictures

What went wrong with 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World' and why it should scare moviefans

Is Michael Cera now box office poison?

For critics and moviegoers who constantly wonder why Hollywood studios continue to return to sequels and formulaic product instead of more original ideas, all you need to do is look at this weekend's box office results for ample evidence why. 

Certainly a new product, Sylvester Stallone's "The Expendables" uses a popular "the gang's all here" marketing mentality by featuring some of the most beloved and well known actions stars of the past 30 years to hook male ticket buyers.  While they are barely in the movie, the campaign used numerous shots of one scene featuring Stallone, Bruce Willis and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to reinforce this fact.  The result? Stallone's biggest opening ever, $35 million.

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Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfield in the first image from the Coen Bros TRUE GRIT

Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfield in the first image from the Coen Bros "True Grit."

Credit: Paramount Pictures

First Look: Jeff Bridges and his eyepatch in the Coen Bros.' remake of 'True Grit'

Potential Oscar contender a serious return for the Coens

One of the more anticipated films of the holiday season is the Coens Bros. remake of the classic Western "True Grit."  The 1969 Henry Hathaway flick supplied John Wayne with his one and only Best Actor Oscar and tells the story of a U.S. Marshall who helps a stubborn young lady track down her father's murderer.  The new version features recent Academy Award winner Bridges in the Wayne role, but also includes Matt Damon and reunites the Coens with their "No Country for Old Men" star Josh Brolin.

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James Franco in Danny Boyle's 127 HOURS

James Franco in Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire" follow up, "127 Hours."

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Oscar Watch: Danny Boyle's '127 Hours' makes London Searchlight friendly

Plus: The new poster for Ben Affleck and Jon Hamm's 'The Town'

The openings and galas for the major fall film festivals have been coming fast and furious over the past two weeks and the London Film Festival just landed a major coup over their more prestigious rivals.  Already hosting the European premiere of Fox Searchlight's "Never Let Me Go" for opening night, the LIFF revealed it will close with the world premiere of another Searchlight title, Danny Boyle's "127 Hours."

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Guy Pearce and James Frecheville in ANIMAL KINGDOM

Newcomer James Frecheville and Guy Pearce in David Michod's "Animal Kingdom."

Credit: Sony Classics

Will Guy Pearce allow crime to run wild in the 'Animal Kingdom'?

Watch five intriguing clips from the late summer indie thriller

There is an intriguing new release arriving in theaters this month and it's not "The Expendables" or "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World."  The winner of the Grand Jury World Dramatic Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival, "Animal Kingdom" is an intense thriller set amongst a criminal family in Melbourne, Australia.  Featuring impressive performances from Guy Pearce, Joel Edgerton and Jacki Weaver, it is also noteworthy for being the directorial debut from former film film journalist David Michod.

It's rare that an international film like "Kingdom" makes its debut at Sundance which is traditionally seen as more of a launch pad for American films), but when speaking to HitFix last week, Michod seemed unfazed by the picture's success so far.  That may be because he's been working on the project for a good portion of his life and has had a good deal of time to make sure it turned out pitch perfect.

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Christina Aguilera in "Burlesque."

Christina Aguilera in "Burlesque."

Credit: Sony Pictures

Christina Aguilera and Cher's 'Burlesque' appears anything but Awards-worthy

Watch the new trailer for the new musical

There have been many conflicting reports about the seemingly bizarre concoction that is "Burlesque."  Featuring a cast campier than anything John Waters could imagine including Cher, Stanley Tucci, Christina Aguilera (in her big screen debut), Cam Gigandent, Kristen Bell, Alan Cumming, Peter Gallagher and Julianne Hough, the musical has had buzz ranging from "amazing" to "a mess."  For Aguilera in particular, anything closer to the former is absolutely necessary (the less said about "Bionic" the better).

The directorial debut of Hollywood lifer Steven Antin, "Burlesque" centers on Ali (Aguilera), a young singer who comes to LA with dreams of becoming a star only to find her big break on the stage of a neo-burlesque club. But does she really have the passion and talent to make it in this tough town?  And can Cher and Tucci save the club from being bought out by a real estate mogul all within the span of two hours? And who will Ali fall for: said rich real estate mogul or the overly attractive bartender (Gigandent)? (Something tells me you really don't want any more plot details).

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