From improbably remote arthouse origins, Québécois director Denis Villeneuve is turning into quite hot Hollywood property. A couple of years after his Middle Eastern melodrama "Incendies" scored an Oscar nomination, his austere formal gifts and taste for high-concept tragedy combined to make his starry but profoundly bleak kidnap thriller "Prisoners" a risky mainstream hit last autumn. The smaller-scale surrealist exercise "Enemy," which premiered near-simultaneously at Toronto and was released in the US last month, took him back to specialty territory, but showed he has enough clout to attract an A-lister like Jake Gyllenhaal to a very eccentric indie. All options are effectively open to him.
Perhaps I'm just getting old, but it doesn't feel like eight years since Davis Guggenheim's climate-change documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" was very much in the mainstream conversation -- and, of course, an unstoppable force in the Oscar race.
Last week, we passed along news of a rather intriguing new project for 18-time Oscar nominee Meryl Streep: an untitled Diablo Cody script, to be directed by Jonathan Demme, in which she'd play a fame-hungry mother reuniting with her estranged family. Today, a few more choice details were announced, beginning with a title: the film is to be called "Ricki and the Flash." Tastier still: Streep will be unleashing her inner rock chick.
The last time we were talking about Bong Joon-ho's "Snowpiercer" was about eight months ago when word surfaced that Harvey Weinstein was looking to cut 20 minutes out of the film ahead of its North American release. It had already played quite well in South Korea and picked up a fair share of raves across Asia and at this and that foreign film festival.
The film will be released Stateside on June 27, but word comes today that it will see its official US premiere two weeks earlier as the opening night presentation at the Los Angeles Film Festival on Wednesday, June 11.
On March 31, 1999, Andy and Lana (née Larry) Wachowski's "The Matrix" hit theaters. That's 15 years ago today, and it was a pretty significant event.
When Jason Sudeikis presented at the Oscars earlier this month, it was as good an indication as any that the industry no longer sees him simply as an overgrown "Saturday Night Live" comic. And while his films thus far (a small role in "Drinking Buddies" notwithstanding) have been in a fairly broad mainstream comic vein, he's evidently looking to class things up a bit with something a little more festival-friendly. "Tumbledown," an independent romantic comedy in which he stars alongside Rebecca Hall, has begun shooting in Massachusetts -- filling in for Maine, apparently.
The last thing I heard about Susanne Bier's long-awaited "Serena" is that certain parties involved didn't want the film released in 2013. I have no idea if it's a bad film or not and would have hurt the Oscar prospects of Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in "American Hustle," but it remains quite strange that a film starring that hot a duo coming off "Silver Linings Playbook" still hasn't been released, nor (at least) landed a release date.
It's also been in post-production for a long while, however, and films can be fashioned out of trouble with the right editorial care. Just ask, well, "American Hustle." I'm a big Susanne Bier fan (she took home the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar a few years back for "In a Better World" — more awards cache for the film) and I'm intrigued by this story, set in Depression Era North Carolina and based on the Ron Rash book about timber magnate George Pemberton (Cooper) and his wife (Lawrence). So here's hoping it finds its way into the light of day soon enough.
I think we can now emphatically put a lid on the 2013/14 awards season, as the Empire Awards -- voted on by the readers of the British film magazine -- took place in London last night. Unsurprisingly, given the magazine's inclination toward populist and genre fare, this is one ceremony where "Gravity" managed to trump "12 Years a Slave": Alfonso Cuaron's space adventure took Best Film and Best Director, while "Slave," which had received six nominations, won only Best Supporting Actor for Michael Fassbender.
There's quite a lot of firepower already stacked up behind Ava DuVernay's Martin Luther King Jr. biopic "Selma." Brad Pitt and Plan B partners Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner are producing (hot off a Best Picture Oscar win for "12 Years a Slave") along with Oprah Winfrey, and today, a new actor has been announced for the cast.
The Arnold Schwarzenegger comeback continues apace, though if you've already forgotten that "Escape Plan" and "The Last Stand" came out in the last year, no one would blame you. Can "Sabotage" make a more lasting impression? Not if the critics have anything to do with it: reviews of the DEA task-force thriller have been largely dismissive, which is disappointing considering the promise of director David Ayer ("End of Watch," "Harsh Times") and a classy supporting cast. I haven't seen it myself, so let's open the floor to you: Are the critics right, or does "Sabotage" deliver? Share your thoughts in the comments, and vote in the poll below.