The Oscar nominee further looks to diversify his output
Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" is still shooting, believe it or not, despite that Christmas Day release looming six months away. Two lengthy back-to-back shoots for Leonardo DiCaprio. That guy's gonna need a vacation.
Today comes news of further casting on the western romp, as Jonah Hill has joined the ensemble, according to a report at Deadline. Apparently Hill was in the mix for a larger role in the film at one point in time, but couldn't commit due to scheduling. It seems they've found room for him after all.
Hill has stepped up his profile plenty in the last few years. He's successfully jerked himself from the pigeonhole of broad comedy (though he'll continue to be in plenty of those, including this year's "The Watch"). An Oscar nomination for his performance in Bennett Miller's "Moneyball" certainly pushes that point.
The hair-metal musical hits theaters today
- Critic's Rating B
- Readers' Rating B
It didn't take great clairvoyant powers to predict that the critical majority would have their knives out for "Rock of Ages," an unapologetically synthetic karaoke musical that, with its "Glee"-generation take on 1980s excess, is surely the year's most uncool blockbuster. (Hitfix's Drew McWeeny didn't see the funny side; nor did David Poland, regular champion of the genre, who claimed he was "not exaggerating" in naming it the worst movie musical in 30 years.) Oh, well. I'm happy to be in the minority on this one, having already sung the praises of both the movie and Tom Cruise's magnetic, self-reflexive performance in it. (Golden Globe nod, here we come.) Any of you planning to make up your own mind this weekend? Report back if you do, and rank it using the button above.
Formerly titled 'Low Life,' film stars Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Renner and Joaquin Phoenix
On Monday, when we launched our Oscar predictions for 2012, Kris was keen to stress how fluid the field is, how few things are set in stone. "Which of these could fall off the 2012 map and take a seat until next year?" he asked. Days later, the first of these dropouts -- not that it was ever promised to us this year in the first place -- has come to light, and the Contenders charts have already required tweaking.
But it's good news. The latest feature from unhurried New York auteur James Gray -- a starry, evidently lush period piece that's currently untitled, but was once dubbed "Low Life" -- has been acquired by The Weinstein Company for a 2013 release, and Deadline's Mike Fleming claims that the distributor has "big plans" for the film next year.
That puts a major question mark on speculation about the film cropping up in this year's autumn festivals; Gray's work, for whatever reason, has a greater following in France than anywhere else, so Cannes 2013 (where his last three features premiered in Competition) seems the natural place for the Weinsteins to unveil this one, which only recently completed shooting.
The actor wickedly plays himself by way of Frank T.J. Mackey
This isn't going to be a review of "Rock of Ages." That's partly because I already wrote one in short form for Time Out and the film doesn't much benefit from extended analysis, and partly because I'd only end up repeating much of Andrew O'Hehir's bang-on piece for Salon, which rightly celebrates Adam Shankman's gleefully (with emphasis on the 'glee') silly hair-metal musical for the very ersatz quality for which many other critics are punishing it. As if hair metal was ever about authenticity in the first place. Suffice to say the film aims no higher than it can hit, and as two hours of quippy, gaudily decorated Hollywood karaoke, it hits pretty squarely. I more or less loved it.
More interesting than the film, however, and more worthy of considered conversation, is Tom Cruise's fascinating central performance in it -- a turn that earns the "central" tag despite its essentially supporting status, and not just because it reduces kewpie-doll leads Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta to sparkly wallpaper whenever he deigns to show up. (You can practically feel the film cowering as he makes his dimly lit entrance. We're trembling ourselves.)
The music of the third film seems to call back to 'Batman Begins' a lot
Can you feel that? It's the swelling of anticipation for "The Dark Knight Rises" reaching a fever pitch. Pretty soon, the thing is gonna pop and all 165 minutes of the film will be unleashed and some may just faint with that "it's finally here!" ecstasy.
Tickets for IMAX screenings went on sale Monday, and most of the midnight screenings were pretty much zapped instantly. This after select theaters put theirs on sale back in January and, yep, sold out. Insanity. Here's hoping there's something really special underneath all that hype. (I'm sure there is.)
Christopher Nolan's Batman series has largely been defined, I think, by the work James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer have done with the music. Unfortunately, neither "Batman Begins" nor "The Dark Knight" were nominated by the Academy (the latter stirring quite the controversy in 2008, with Zimmer even going before the Academy to state his case when eligibility came into question). But that's to be expected with that branch.
The heavily touted surround-sound tech marks an industry forever anxious to lure audiences to theaters
Next week Walt Disney Pictures will be premiering Pixar's "Brave" in conjunction with the Los Angeles Film Festival at the newly named Dolby Theatre (formerly the Kodak) in Hollywood. But while it promises to be a fun time for the event at hand, the fact that it's the grand re-opening of the space is what has me a little bit more excited.
See, I've never actually been in that room. No concerts, no Cirque du Soleil, no Academy Awards (I've never sought Oscar night credentials). So I'm happy to finally case the joint, as it were. But Dolby taking over the naming rights of the facility has also brought in the added attraction of its aural upgrades, namely the company's new Dolby Atmos technology, which was first revealed at CinemaCon in April.
Touted by Dolby as "the most significant development in audio since the arrival of surround sound," the promise of Atmos is an important one: keeping the theatrical experience unique and superior to what can be accomplished at home.
Revised Oscar rules for the doc race should make it easier to track contenders
One of the categories we did not touch in yesterday's inaugural 2012 Oscar prediction was Best Documentary Feature, a race that routinely requires a greater magnifying glass than its narrative counterparts -- and even then, tend to defy prediction. This year, however, I have less of an excuse than usual for not building up a documentary contenders list -- because for the first time, the category's eligibility schedule is more or less in sync with the US release calendar.
You may recall the recent rule adjustments the Academy, assisted by Oscar-winning firebrand Michael Moore, recently made to a beleaguered category that, on an near-annual basis, finds a way to exclude some of the year's most significant documentaries from consideration. Last year, the critical wails were as loud as ever, as acclaimed favorites like "The Interrupters," "Senna," "Page One" and "Into the Abyss" failed to make the Academy's longlist, while a number of scarcely-seen mediocrities took their place.
With Father's Day around the corner, a personal look my father's favorites
This article first appeared in part at InContention.com in 2009. It seemed like a good time to re-purpose it for new readers here at HitFix and to give the usual list-making shenanigans a rest for a week.
In case you’re like me and you happen to forget these things throughout the year, let today’s edition of The Lists serve as a reminder: Father’s Day is this weekend!
With that in mind, and as a personal tribute of sorts to my pops, who turns 59 this weekend in addition to celebrating his 31st Father’s Day on Sunday, I thought I’d offer up a rundown of the films that remind me of those days in front of the big console television growing up back east.
My personal movie awakening came in the mid-1990s, when films like Michael Mann’s “Heat” and Bryan Singer’s “The Usual Suspects” made me realize I wanted to have a hand in this business. But I can’t ignore the impact decades of film product had on my youth in the form of my father’s viewing habits. I didn’t like every film my Dad loved, but somehow, his taste frequently seemed to either correspond with my own or correspond with how it would eventually evolve.
First set of predictions (that are as good as the next guy's)
It's that time of year. Well, no, not THAT time. Awards season is still a healthy ways off and anyone giving it overtly serious consideration right now is in for a hurtin'. But with 2012's midway point fast approaching, it's a valid time to take stock of the film year so far, and to take a glance ahead at the season to come.
And yes, I suppose it's as good a time as any (on the early side of things) to update the sidebar predictions with uneducated stabs in the dark so we don't go on looking like we're living in the past.
First, a quick recap. Very quick, actually, as the only Best Picture stories of the year so far have been made on the basis of admittedly impressive box office success. But to me, considerations of "The Hunger Games" and "The Avengers" for serious Oscar contention feel a bit like hot air in the hot months with little else to grease the awards conversation gears.
What's this year's little engine that could?
After three peaceful months in which the "O" word was among the furthest things from my mind -- even at Cannes, where unusually few films sparked such speculation -- the distant-but-not-invisible threat of the 2012 awards season entered my consciousness in a number of ways this week.
First, before a screening of the emphatically not Oscar-bound "Rock of Ages" (hey, I don't mean that as a slight), my usual no-trailers policy was involuntarily broken as Warners subjected me to gorgeous glimpses of "The Great Gatsby" and "The Dark Knight Rises"... and as much as the moviegoer in me got excited, I'd be lying if I said my mind didn't wander to their intriguingly uncertain awards prospects. The next day, I had only myself to blame to raising the subject. After seeing Sarah Polley's wonderful "Take This Waltz," due for US release later this month, I foolhardily tweeted that it feels like a viable Oscar play for Michelle Williams -- only to wish I hadn't said anything as numerous followers replied with their skepticism.