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‘The Raid’ Reunion Staged with Radius-TWC Acquisition ‘The Night Comes for Us’

Written by Danny King, January 20, 2014 at 2:00 pm 

Rather than start the festival with a title that’s screening in Park City, Radius-TWC have kick-started their Sundance business by acquiring the North American rights to The Night Comes For Us, a forthcoming action-thriller from two filmmakers who both have other work set to screen in Park City very shortly. On tap to direct Night is Timo Tjahjanto (V/H/S/2, The ABCs of Death), the co-director of Killers, which will be unveiled this evening; the other chief collaborator is The Raid helmer Gareth Evans, who “will handle action direction in the film.” (Evans’s 148-minute Raid sequel premieres tomorrow night, before entering a limited theatrical release on March 28.)

The Deadline report tells us additional Raid alumni will, too, be featured in Night: martial artist Iko Uwais (who appeared in Keanu Reeves’s fantastic directorial debut, Man of Tai Chi) is reuniting with Evans to choreograph the action, while Raid performers Joe Taslim (as “a mobster who returns to his local crime family in Jakarta only to find himself trapped in a word of betrayal and chaos”) and Yayan Ruhian are slated to co-star. Night is scheduled to hit in 2015.

Do you think these two directors will work well together? What do you make of The Night Comes for Us?

Martin Scorsese Compares ‘Silence’ to ‘Bringing Out the Dead,’ ‘Kundun,’ and ‘Mean Streets’

Written by Danny King, May 17, 2013 at 11:30 am 

Currently in Cannes to scout funding for his passion project Silence, Martin Scorsese, in a brief-but-somewhat-enlightening interview with Total Film, hasn’t hesitated in comparing the 17th century-set Shusaku Endo adaptation to previous films of his. “It’s similar to Mean Streets, in a way,” he said, for the story “deals with spiritual matters in a concrete, physical world; a world where invariably the worst of human nature is revealed.” This probably comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with Scorsese’s breakout 1973 film: though Silence is said to be primarily a Japanese-language, Japan-set undertaking (as opposed to New York, which the director is so often aligned with), the clash between spirituality and reality has long been a theme in Scorsese’s work, regardless of setting.

Perhaps more surprising are the other parallels Scorsese draws. He refers to Silence as a “suspenseful film, with elements of a thriller,” and says that it will incorporate “themes that were overt in Kundun and Bringing Out the Dead.” This is not unlike what was revealed in a recent interview with Variety, wherein the director made a strong point of explaining that, while Silence is indeed “meant for a smaller audience” than some of his best-known films, it’s still “a thriller. Thriller meaning they are undercover. I’m interested in this, whether it’s undercover priests or undercover cops.”

On paper, this juxtaposition of stately period detail and genre-informed suspense is beginning to sound rather compelling, and Scorsese’s description of the film’s angle — it will have a “smaller approach, more internal,” he said, but “there is landscape” — appears to reflect those conflicting sensibilities. The next step in the making-of process seems to be casting-related: though Scorsese’s already lined up Andrew Garfield and Ken Watanabe for the film, there’s still “an older Jesuit, in his 50s, and another young priest” left to fill. Perhaps he’ll land actors for these two coveted roles while in Cannes? It’s hard to rule out.

Silence will begin shooting in mid-2014.

What do you think of the comparisons to Scorsese’s previous films? Who would you like to see in the two as-yet-uncast roles?

Watch: First Clip From ‘The Immigrant’ as James Gray Sets Up Sci-Fi Picture

Written by Danny King, May 17, 2013 at 9:46 am 

It’s no secret that undervalued writer-director James Gray is beloved much more in France than he is here in the United States. Prior to The Immigrant — Gray’s new film, soon premiering at Cannes — the director’s body of work consisted solely of four feature films (ranging from 1994′s Little Odessa to 2009′s Two Lovers) made over the course of fourteen years, which perhaps accounts for the difficulty he’s had achieving a consensus with both critics and audiences in America.

Gray’s response, it seems, is to amp-up his productivity. In addition to The Immigrant, Gray has a second film at Cannes this year: Blood Ties, which he co-wrote with director Guillaume Canet (Tell No One, Little White Lies). A crime story set in Brooklyn during the 1970s, the film is in Gray’s wheelhouse, subject-wise, and the star-studded cast of Clive Owen, Mila Kunis, Marion Cotillard (Canet’s wife), and James Caan (phenomenal in Gray’s The Yards) could ignite some major crossover appeal.

On top of this comes today’s Deadline report, wherein it’s stated that Gray is already lining up his next feature — an unexpected step for someone who’s worked so deliberately in the past. The project is currently untitled, and details are pretty scant at this point — in another sign of stepping outside the bounds, Deadline call it a sci-fi thriller — but we do know that Gray co-wrote the film with Fringe writer Ethan Gross. (Lest you raise your eyebrows at the thought of Gray working with a TV writer, Gross has previously been credited with “special thanks” on both The Yards and Two Lovers, so it’s safe to assume the two work well together.)

This untitled effort will be produced by the Brazil-based RT Features, a company with two interesting 2013 titles under their belt: Noah Baumbach‘s Frances Ha, which opens in limited release this weekend, and Kelly Reichardt‘s forthcoming Night Moves, which perhaps represents another esoteric auteur’s attempt to crack the mainstream. As with Reichardt, here’s hoping Gray’s increased output results in the best of both worlds: the maintaining of peak artistic quality and boosted support from critics & audiences.

In the meantime, see a Marion Cotillard- and Jeremy Renner-starring clip from The Immigrant below (via ThePlaylist):

What is your reaction to seeing Gray announce his Immigrant follow-up so quickly? Any thoughts on the potential genre jump?

Martin Scorsese to Executive Produce Directorial Debut of Longtime Script Supervisor Martha Pinson

Written by Danny King, January 26, 2013 at 12:00 pm 

Martha Pinson, whose impressive résumé as a script supervisor goes all the way back to the early 1980s — Brian De Palma‘s Dressed to Kill and Sidney Lumet‘s Deathtrap were some of her first credits — will soon be making her directorial debut with a British feature titled Tomorrow. Still without a cast, the project nevertheless has most of its behind-the-scenes credits confirmed, and this new piece from THR has added a pretty significant one: Martin Scorsese, who’s worked with Pinson on several of his recent features. He’s hopping aboard as an executive producer.

Pinson has done work on Scorsese’s four most-recent narrative films: The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island, and Hugo. According the report, her credits also “[boast] award-winning shorts and off-Broadway plays in addition to her script work.” The script she’ll be working with on Tomorrow was co-written by Stuart Brennan and Sebastian Street, and “is billed as a feel-good story about five main characters living for the day.” Is it just me, or is it sort of interesting that Pinson, who’s made her living as a script supervisor, isn’t one of the credited writers on her directorial debut?

“It’s an amazing script, with colorful characters and a truly uplifting story,” said Dean Mitchell, who will be lead-producing the project alongside Neil Jones. “With Martha at the helm, it’s going to be a beautiful picture,” he added. As I mentioned above, the casting process for Tomorrow is still in the works, though the current expectation is for shooting to begin this year.

Do you think Scorsese’s presence will help Pinson make the jump into directing?

Sundance: Magnolia Pictures on Verge of Acquiring Horror Sequel ‘S-VHS’

Written by Danny King, January 24, 2013 at 9:16 pm 

After acquiring David Gordon Green‘s Prince Avalanche, which is said to be a long-awaited return-to-form for the writer-director, Magnolia Pictures has quickly worked its way back into the conversation of recent Sundance purchases: according to Variety, the company “is nearing a deal to acquire” S-VHS, the sequel to 2012′s horror anthology V/H/S, which Magnolia also picked up at Sundance last January.

We weren’t too keen on the film when we reviewed it the other day, calling it “a sub-par incarnation of the original,” but word elsewhere has been a bit more positive, and the film’s likely to attract the audiences that were so taken with the original. One area where our review aligned nicely with popular consensus is in the Indonesia-set segment from Timo Tjahjanto and Gareth Evans (The Raid: Redemption). This vignette has “garnered the strongest reaction on social media,” says the Variety report, and our review was similarly enthusiastic in that regard: “Evans and Tjahjanto push the envelope for what one can do with a short and deserve a chance to make a feature length horror film together.”

Other makers on S-VHS include Adam Wingard (the only returning voice from V/H/S), Gregg Hale (a producer on The Blair Witch Project), and Jason Eisener (Hobo with a Shotgun). As the deal doesn’t appear officially confirmed just yet, there’s still some key information left unknown, though I’m intrigued to eventually learn not only how much the deal is going for (Magnolia bought V/H/S for around $1 million), but also if the distributor plans to use the VOD platform once again.

What did you think of V/H/S? Are you looking forward to the sequel?

Kate Winslet Goes Franchise Alongside Shailene Woodley In Neil Burger’s ‘Divergent’

Written by Danny King, January 24, 2013 at 7:34 pm 

Limitless director Neil Burger signed on to helm Divergent back in August of last year, and, in the months since, the project’s undergone a fairly erratic casting process. An adaptation of Veronica Roth‘s young-adult debut novel, Summit Entertainment landed on their leading lady — the on-the-rise Shailene Woodley (The Descendants) — rather early into the proceedings. The situation has been much more complicated, however, for her male counterpart: Lucas Till (X-Men First Class, Stoker), Alex Pettyfer (Magic Mike), and Jeremy Irvine (War Horse) are just three of the names who have been tested for this role.

The latest report, from Variety, doesn’t clear up this male-centric side of things — in fact, it interestingly says that Summit “may go older after not finding its guy with the latest readings” — but it does provide quite a coup for the opposite sex: Kate Winslet, who hasn’t appeared in a single franchise in her entire career, will play a supporting role in the film, which Summit is looking to eventually develop into a Hunger Games-like trilogy. The move has been confirmed via Summit’s official Twitter page, and, though we don’t yet know what role Winslet is circling, her involvement in any capacity certainly gives the project a boost of prestige.

Summit has already landed on a release date for Divergent: March 21st, 2014, which pretty much identically resembles the early-year slotting The Hunger Games used to such great effect in 2012. I must admit that, even as a modest fan of the Jennifer Lawrence-led franchise-starter, another similarly-themed trilogy was starting to sound like a bit much. But with Winslet on board — and with the momentum Woodley will likely gain for her turn in the supposedly excellent Sundance hit The Spectacular Now — it’s possible that this could end up being something exciting. Now we just have to wait and see who will be Woodley’s beau.

Does the casting of Winslet increase your interest in this project?

Sundance: David Gordon Green’s ‘Prince Avalanche’ and Anne Fontaine’s ‘Two Mothers’ Latest Films to Get Acquired

Written by Danny King, January 23, 2013 at 4:30 pm 

The latest two films to be acquired at the hot-ticket Sundance Film Festival are both very much ones that I’m eager to see. The first, Prince Avalanche, is supposedly something of a return-to-roots picture for David Gordon Green. Admittedly, it’ll be tough for him to match the magically high bar he set for himself with films like George Washington and All the Real Girls, but the simple fact that he’s back in the indie-movie milieu — after having helmed both Your Highness and The Sitter — is enough to get me into the theater.

Magnolia Pictures is the distributor making this purchase, which is solely for the film’s North American rights. “The low-budget comedy centers on two road workers (Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch), who spend the summer of 1988 in rural Texas repairing a stretch of country highway that has been damaged by wildfires. It was loosely adapted from an Icelandic film called Either Way.” This is, to my knowledge, Magnolia’s first acquisition of the festival, and it has the recipe — positive early reviews, recognizable faces, an experienced filmmaker — for something that could be a modest hit. [TheWrap]

The second film picked up (so far today) is one I’m equally excited to see: the Australia-set Two Mothers, an English-language debut for director Anne Fontaine (Coco Before Chanel). Based on a novel from Nobel Prize-winning author Doris Lessing, the film “centers on two lifelong friends (Naomi Watts and Robin Wright) who fall in love with each other’s sons, played by Xavier Samuel and James Frecheville.” That’s nowhere near your average romantic-entanglement premise — and, from what I’ve heard, the film has certainly invited its fair share of divisive reactions — but it’s such an out-of-bounds story that I’m curious to see how it’ll play out. (That Watts and Wright are both very nice-looking is likely another factor in my anticipation, too.)

The buyer of Two Mothers is Exclusive Releasing, headed by Scott Pascucci and Matt Brodlie, and this marks the company’s first-ever purchase (which, admirably, doesn’t exactly sound like a down-the-middle way to start things off). Exclusive’s deal apparently includes rights to the film both in the US and the UK, so hopefully that scope will help their investment — the highly attractive co-leads aside, I still can’t help thinking that Two Mothers will have trouble making much of a splash in the US. Keep in mind, though, that I’d love to be proven wrong. [Variety]

Are you happy to see David Gordon Green retuning to his indie roots? Do you have any interest in Two Mothers?

Disorienting UK Posters for Danny Boyle’s ‘Trance’

Written by Danny King, January 23, 2013 at 4:09 pm 

Update: Two new posters have come in — one a Rosario Dawson version of the original release, the other a UK quad — courtesy of Empire and RecentMoviePosters (via ThePlaylist). The original story can be read below.

I haven’t been following the recent UK marketing for Danny Boyle‘s Trance all that closely, if only because I knew right from moment one that a Boyle-directed heist film was a must-see. However, this disorienting new poster from TotalFilm — which will be used overseas to promote the film’s March 27th release in the UK — has increased my interest tenfold, as I honestly had no idea the film was even flirting with the possibility of being something of a reality-warping head-trip.

The latest plot-synopsis run-down makes the mind-bending elements of the plot extremely clear: “The all-star cast features James McAvoy as a fine art auctioneer whose dodgy extracurricular dealings go awry when he suffers amnesia mid-way through a heist. When Rosario Dawson enters the scene as a hypnotherapist intent on helping him recover his memory (and the painting), the lines between reality, desire and hypnotic suggestion blur to deadly effect.” That Vincent Cassel (mesmerizing with recent supporting turns in Black Swan and A Dangerous Method) is on board as “the gangster on their tail” just makes things all the more exciting. The script, meanwhile, was co-written by John Hodge (Trainspotting) and Joe Ahearne (who helmed the TV movie upon which this is based).

Get a full look at the orange-tinted poster below, and click here if you need to catch up with the trailer, which debuted about two weeks ago. I’m really hoping that we get word of a domestic release date as soon as possible, because Trance simply sounds like classiest entertainment around since Skyfall — which, coincidentally, also premiered first in the UK, to enormously great effect.

What do you think of this poster? Does it match the vibe you got from the trailer?

David Fincher Could Direct Adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Best-Seller ‘Gone Girl’

Written by Danny King, January 22, 2013 at 6:57 pm 

Over the past half-decade or so, American crime-genre author Gillian Flynn has slowly but surely developed into something of a sensation. All three of her published novels to date — Sharp Objects, Dark Places, and Gone Girl — have been well-reviewed best-sellers, and all three are currently in the process of being adapted to the silver screen. Information regarding the Sharp Objects film is still hard to come by, but we know that Amy Adams (Oscar-nominated once again for The Master) will star for Sarah’s Key director Gilles Paquet-Brenner.

And the Gone Girl adaptation, meanwhile, could very well turn out to be the highest-profile production of the three, as this Deadline report claims that David Fincher — a longtime guru with this sort of material, even if his 2011 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a bit disappointing for me — is considering hopping on-board the project to direct. Flynn wrote the screenplay herself, which was picked up last July “in a 7-figure deal” by 20th Century Fox and Pacific Standard’s Reese Witherspoon.

The novel’s story, which you can read more about over at Amazon, revolves around “a woman [who] disappears on the day of her fifth anniversary…[All] roads point to her husband as the killer.” Fincher, of course, has been working on 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea: Captain Nemothe last news came with good and bad sides: Brad Pitt was being circled, but Disney were hesitant — and he also directed the first two episodes of the forthcoming TV series House of Cards, which will premiere on Netflix on February 1. He’s also been rather elusive regarding whether or not he’ll return for the Dragon Tattoo sequels, though the last report we made on that subject pointed in the direction of the affirmative.

There’s still no information regarding the potential cast of Gone Girl, other than the perfunctory producer / director credit, though if Fincher does indeed end up taking the job, I think we can pretty much expect many big-time names to start flocking to the project. Personally, I’d like to see Fincher helm Gone Girl, if only because I’m not crazy about the idea of him getting stuck doing two more Lisbeth Salander-centered sequels: He’d obviously do a slick job with them, I’m sure, but I don’t necessarily enjoy the thought of a director in his league getting pigeonholed into the same universe for years on end. That’s just my brief take.

Have you read any of Flynn’s novels? Would you like to see Fincher direct Gone Girl?

‘Mud’ Helmer Jeff Nichols Working on John Carpenter-Esque Project ‘Midnight Special’

Written by Danny King, January 22, 2013 at 10:30 am 

Writer-director Jeff Nichols‘s third film Mud (watch the trailer here) has endured a rather long, winding journey en route to its forthcoming April 26th opening, which has always struck me as somewhat odd, considering how very well-respected Nichols’s first two films (Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter, both Michael Shannon-starrers) are. There is, too, the catnip-for-distributors fact that the film reportedly has a slightly more conventional bent than his other works. To quote our own mixed-to-positive Cannes review: Nichols is “[still] exploring the working class American south with a heavy dose of mythical storytelling, only this time with a much broader brush.” And, on top of that, the film’s also led by the iron-hot Matthew McConaughey (Killer Joe, Magic Mike), whose output in 2012 marked a monumental career resurgence.

That said, it’s not as if McConaughey is going anywhere — he’s also got Dallas Buyers Club and The Wolf of Wall Street spooling out in 2013 — and the recent Sundance showing for the film is really doing a good job of building it up as something well worth seeing when it bows in theaters. Perhaps, then, Roadside Attractions — who first nabbed the film in August of 2012, before stamping it with a release date this January — was right to play it this way all along, which would bode well for Nichols going forward. And from the sound of this Sundance interview with Movie Mezzanine, Nichols could very well be entering different territory after Mud.

“Right now I’m working on this one called Midnight Special,” he said in the interview from Sundance. “I won’t talk too much about it now, other than to say I kind of want to make a 1980s John Carpenter movie. If I had to choose one of those it would be Starman.” Nichols revealed a second project he’s working on at the moment, too, which sounds just as uniquely promising: “It’s interesting because I’m doing the same thing I did in the summer of 2008 where I’m writing two scripts at once. And so Midnight Special is going to be a genre film put through whatever bizarre filter is me. And then I’m writing this other movie based on a documentary that will hopefully be austere, quiet, sad, and beautiful.”

As completely different as those two prospective works sound, they both seem ripe with potential, and though some have convincingly argued that Mud marks a step forward for the talented writer-director, it’s hard not to see the two scripts mentioned in the above interview as even more disparate from the sensibility of the previous films he’s made — although good chunks of both Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter are, I would argue, “austere, quiet, sad, and beautiful.”

What have you thought about Nichols’s work to date? Do you think these projects could be intriguing steps forward for him?