File this under badass projects that I had no idea were happening. I guess the news of a samurai remake of Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven" made the rounds nearly a year ago, and I either glossed over it or missed it completely. Now a few trailers and a poster for the film have surfaced and, well, I'm totally on board.
This year's annual compromise candidate between Sundance and Cannes's otherwise divergent definitions of a festival film, "Fruitvale Station" is a clean-scrubbed tragedy that aims for a commendable reversal: taking a real-life human subject best known for the way he died, Ryan Coogler's debut feature instead builds its drama around the way he lived.
At least, it purports to do so. In Coogler's angry but unremittingly adoring portrait, how close you feel to Oscar Grant, the 22-year-old Bay Area proletarian whose life was cut unaccountably short by a brute transit officer on New Year's Day in 2009, may depend on how much truth you see in its tidily condensed life-in-a-day structure. And that, unlike the incontestable video-phone footage of Grant's death that Coogler unspools as early as the prologue, is strictly in the eye of the beholder. It is one thing to present us with an atrocity that we know, and possibly even remember, happened. It is another to make us believe it.
Looking ahead to the upcoming awards season, pundits are spoiled for choice when it comes to predicting the Weinstein Company's annual prize pony. But while obviously baity titles like "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" (which just unveiled a teaser trailer today) and "August: Osage County" dominate that particular conversation -- along with established festival hit "Fruitvale Station" -- Stephen Frears's "Philomena" is quietly waiting to pounce, most likely at the fall festival season.
Hear the voice of Idris Elba's freedom fighter in the teaser trailer for 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom'
At the risk of sounding crass, one has to wonder how Nelson Mandela's current state of health will impact the upcoming film "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," starring Idris Elba as the South African revolutionary. Thankfully things seem to be looking better for him than they were a week ago.
Meanwhile, Elba takes flight today with his first big leading role in "Pacific Rim," and The Weinstein Company has seized the opportunity to offer up a little tease of Justin Chadwick's film to go along with it. It isn't much. One helicopter shot of Mandela walking surrounded by children. It focuses more on Elba's accent as the actor speaks a monologue over the scene.
I have not seen "Grown Ups." I don't plan to see "Grown Ups 2." But hey, maybe you are. And maybe maybe you love it. And maybe you can change my mind. So hey, here's your challenge: convince me. And no silly "Isn't it your job to see everything?" talk (and no, it actually isn't, thank God). Or if you don't feel like building a case just tell us what you thought of the movie. And I'm assuming some of you will see it; it's going to win the box office this weekend, after all. Rifle off your take in the comments section below and go ahead and vote in our poll while you're at it. Also, if you've seen anything else you'd like to discuss, in theaters or at home or wherever, consider this an open thread to do so.
Travis Beacham had an idea, Guillermo del Toro ran with it and now we have a massive summer blockbuster in the form of "Pacific Rim." Box office chatter is grim but that's not what we're interested in here. We're interested in what you thought of the movie. Some people are doing cartwheels over this thing; Drew sure did. Others have a heaping helping of thumbs down for it. Others still might find their way to the middle. That's where I am, for a handful of reasons, but I'm glad there's something like this to chew on this summer as opposed to more sequels and more IP pillaging, etc. So when/if you get around to seeing the film -- which just kicked off midnight screenings in New York -- head on back here with your take on it, and feel free to vote in our poll.
I wish nothing but the best for Ava DuVernay. If female filmmakers are already a regrettable minority in Hollywood, African-American female filmmakers are still practically novelties, so anyone working to bust that particular glass ceiling has my attention. Still, DuVernay deserves notice on her individual gifts alone: the writer-director's coolly assured breakthrough feature "Middle of Nowhere," which won her the Best Director prize at Sundance, was one of last year's most richly characterized, formally striking US microbudget indies. Furthermore, DuVernay's not only looking out for number one: the former film publicist is doing much to support other independent talents via her own distribution outlet, the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement.
The marketing for Scott Cooper's "Out of the Furnace" is rumbling to life over at Relativity Media. A few production stills were released in conjunction with a USA Today story earlier this week, shortly followed by more photos and the official poster at Entertainment Weekly. Today, a trailer.
When Ben Affleck was making the press rounds for "The Town" a few years back, I talked to him about his friend Matt Damon's career path. We discussed the fact that Damon had been gearing up to direct a film (which ended up being "Promised Land") for some time but he kept getting calls from the likes of Martin Scorsese and the Coen brothers to star in their films. When you're an actor who wants to direct, you'd be a fool not to audit those classes, so to speak.
So I find it really interesting that in the midst of a strong and building filmmaking career that has already brought him a Best Picture Oscar (last year's "Argo"), Affleck has decided to star in David Fincher's adaptation "Gone Girl." It seems to me he may be taking note of his buddy's trek through the business, loading up on some crucial studies with master filmmakers. He already has Terrence Malick under his belt.
Yesterday Walt Disney Pictures gave us our first official look at John Lee Hancock's "Saving Mr. Banks" with a production still tease. Today, via Moviefone, the studio has dropped the first trailer for the film.