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Four New Images from Richard Linklater’s Instantly Acclaimed ‘Before Midnight’

Written by Danny King, January 21, 2013 at 9:40 am 

Richard Linklater‘s Before Midnight has been let out of the bag, and the early reactions I’ve seen are almost entirely ecstatic, with hardly a person in sight left disappointed by the eagerly awaited follow-up to the writer-director’s universally acclaimed Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. The number of people actually surprised by the uproar of praise that’s greeted the film after its first official Sundance screening is probably just as low, though it’s still hard not to breathe a sigh of relief at the widespread satisfaction, especially considering how suddenly the project’s completion was made known to us all.

ThePlaylist has kindly brought us four new images from the film (one of which is pictured above), and, while I’m sure these won’t quell most folks’ anticipation for more than a couple of minutes, it’s just a wonderful breath of fresh air to see Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy sharing the screen again; they do, indeed, look entirely at home in these soothing, soft-as-a-feather stills. Here’s a quick reminder of the film’s story: “Shot on the sly in Greece last summer, the picture catches up with Celine (Delpy) and Jesse (Hawke) nine years later, as once again they use a portion of the day to reignite their relationship.” There’s also this intriguing little nugget, stated by Hawke himself: “The biggest change between this one and the last one is the Internet.”

By now, you already know how much we’re gnawing at the walls to get a look at Before Midnight — the film cracked the #8 slot on Our 100 Most-Anticipated Films of 2013 list, and would, perhaps, even be a bit higher now that we know it has supposedly lived up to the lofty expectations. With that in mind, there’s little more that can be said at this point, though we’ll likely have more reports and reactions pertaining to the film as Sundance rolls along, so be sure to keep checking back.

Do you have any thoughts on these images? Has the early Sundance reaction impacted your anticipation of the film?

‘Argo’ Actress Kerry Bishe Joins Peter Bogdanovich and Jerry Lewis in Daniel Noah’s ‘Max Rose’

Written by Danny King, January 19, 2013 at 2:00 pm 

A couple of days ago, we caught word of Jerry Lewis‘s sudden return to live-action film acting when it was revealed that he’d be starring in the title role of Daniel Noah‘s Max Rose — the actor’s first starring role since Funny Bones back in 1995. That report came loaded with a handful of potential actors to round out the cast, and this new piece from Variety clears up the picture even further, confirming that Kerry Bishé (recently of Argo fame) and (even better) Peter Bogdanovich will fill out some of the film’s meatiest supporting roles.

The film, which was also written by Noah (who made his debut over a decade ago with the little-seen Twelve), “follows a recently widowed 82-year-old pianist (Lewis) who wonders if his decades-long marriage was based on a lie after he discovers an artifact of his wife’s that suggests she may have been unfaithful.” Bishé, whose other recent credits include Red State, Newlyweds, and The Fitzgerald Family Christmas, “will play the protagonist’s granddaughter who takes care of him.” There’s no word yet on the specifics of Bogdanovich’s role.

I have no knowledge of Noah’s debut film, nor am I even quite sure what exactly to make of this seemingly small-scale project proving to be the catalyst for Lewis’s return to big-screen acting. I will say, though, that the synopsis we have at the moment strikes me as one with intriguing dramatic potential. It looks very much like the dynamic between Lewis and Bishé could perhaps be the central emotional crux of the story, and it’s such an unlikely pair that I’m finding myself curious as to how it’ll eventually turn out.

How do you feel about the cast that is currently shaping up for Max Rose?

Watch: Clips From Sundance Selections ‘Stoker’ & ‘Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes’

Written by Danny King, January 19, 2013 at 1:00 pm 

Park Chan-wook‘s Stoker, Hollywood debut of the South Korean filmmaker behind Oldboy  — and, most recently, Thirst — will have its first screening at the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday, and you can bet that early-word reactions will instantly become a hot ticket around the web. To hold us over until then, Yahoo! has charitably debuted a nearly-two-minute clip from the film, featuring Nicole Kidman in a performance that will hopefully continue her long-standing run of successful collaborations with left-field auteurs like Gus Van Sant (To Die For), Stanley Kubrick (Eyes Wide Shut), Jonathan Glazer (Birth), and Lars von Trier (Dogville).

Take a look at the clip below, and don’t forget that Stoker‘s distinguished cast is also rounded out by Matthew Goode, Mia Wasikowska, Dermot Mulroney, and the recently Oscar-nominated Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook):

Also debuting online recently — this time via HitFix — is a clip showcasing Jessica Biel in writer-director Francesca Gregorini‘s Emanuel and the Truth about Fishes. (If you were one of those people who found the title of Benh Zeitlin‘s Beasts of the Southern Wild to be a bit bothersome, I dare you to justify this one.) The film, which has already screened in Park City, also stars Kaya Scodelario (who was very strong in Andrea Arnold‘s Wuthering Heights), Alfred Molina, and Frances O’Connor (The Hunter).

You can watch it below:

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What do you think of these early clips? Which film are you more eager to see?

‘The Adjustment Bureau’ Director and ‘The Last Stand’ Scribe to Collaborate on Sci-Fi Project for Universal

Written by Danny King, January 19, 2013 at 12:00 pm 

Ever since making his directorial debut with the Philip K. Dick adaptation The Adjustment Bureau — which proved to be a solid early-year success for Universal back in 2011 — writer-director George Nolfi (whose earlier scripting credits include Ocean’s Twelve and The Bourne Ultimatum) has been scrambling to find his follow-up project. He was once a leading contender for the Captain America 2 job, but that position has since been officially grabbed by Community executive producers Anthony and Joe Russo.

Nolfi has attached his name to a number of other projects, too, including the Cuban missile crisis thriller One Minute to Midnight as well as the Darren Aronofsky-produced XOXO. A new piece from THR has thrown another option into the mix — “an untitled sci-fi action project” that, as with The Adjustment Bureau, will be handled by Universal.

Nothing else is yet known about the film’s story, though Nolfi — who has plans to both produce and direct the project — will be collaborating on the screenplay with Andrew Knauer, the original scribe behind the new Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle The Last Stand. “Nolfi and Knauer met during the making of Last Stand,” claims the story, “when the former did rewrite work on the action movie…Nolfi read the spec and was sufficiently impressed that he reached out to Knauer to collaborate on the high-concept project.”

With the details still so vague, it’s hard to get too amped-up about this project, though I was a modest fan of The Adjustment Bureau, if only for the sincere sparks between co-stars Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. And with so many projects now on his plate, I suppose it’s high time that Nolfi sat down and figured out which one he’s going to tackle first.

Which of these Nolfi-led projects are you most excited about?

Robin Williams Heads To ‘Boulevard’ For ‘Guide to Recognizing Your Saints’ Director Dito Montiel

Written by Danny King, January 9, 2013 at 7:19 pm 

Dito Montiel‘s Empire State, a cops-and-robbers drama starring Dwayne Johnson, Liam Hemsworth, and Emma Roberts, is still awaiting an official release date from Lionsgate, but that hasn’t kept the A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints writer-director from securing his next project. Titled Boulevard, the film is set to star Robin Williams and Roberto Aguire, and it’s about “a devoted husband (Williams) in a marriage of convenience until a run-in with a guarded young man (Aguire) forces him to come to terms with his own secrets.” The screenplay was written by Douglas Soesbe. [Variety]

After the fairly acclaimed Saints, Montiel’s career has skewed in an unfortunately negative direction: Fighting and The Son of No One, his two recent efforts (both starring the now-more-reputable Channing Tatum), received far less critical support than his debut, and The Son of No One in particular was an overwhelming commercial flop. That Empire State has yet to land on a date of theatrical release is probably not the most promising bit of information, either, but perhaps the partial star-wattage — and potential genre appeal — will make it a modest hit.

The casting of Williams, meanwhile, is nothing if not an encouraging sign. After re-announcing himself in a big way with Bobcat Goldthwait‘s 2009 World’s Greatest Dad, Williams hasn’t been to quick to get himself back on screens. He has a number of projects currently in the works — including The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, Look of Love, The Big Wedding, and Lee Daniels‘s The Butler — but most of them, like Montiel’s own Empire State, are still waiting for a release-date announcement to be made. That he’s jumped on the Boulevard train so early in the game is hopefully a sign of some quality in the Soesbe script.

Do you think Montiel and Williams will make a good team?

[First Look] Halle Berry Receives ‘The Call’ In New Thriller From ‘The Machinist’ Director Brad Anderson

Written by Danny King, January 8, 2013 at 9:00 am 

There’s not much in the pre-release information for The Call that would suggest a project of any uniqueness — there’s the bland early-year release date of March 15th, the entirely rote-sounding plot synopsis, and, as of today, a first-look image that’s about as by-the-book as humanly possible. That it manages to make the gorgeous Halle Berry look like a generally average stress-ball-squeezing telephone operator must be some sort of an achievement, I suppose, but I’m not sure it’s the one that any right-minded marketing campaign would be gunning for.

Nevertheless, there remains a glimmer of hope in the film’s director, Brad Anderson, who has a couple of solidly atmospheric titles under his belt — the skin-crawling Christian Bale-starrer The Machinist and the absorbing train-car thriller Transsiberian chief among them. The same can’t be said, unfortunately, for screenwriter Richard D’Ovidio (Exit Wounds, Thir13en Ghosts), who hasn’t worked on anything in a decade.

Originally titled The Hive, the D’Ovidio screenplay — which follows “a 911 emergency operator (Berry) who must face her own fears in order to save a teenage girl (Abigail Breslin) from a disturbed killer” — sounds fairly disposable, but Anderson apparently saw something there that compelled him to call Berry’s leading role “a formidable [one] for an equally formidable actress.” Here’s hoping that statement wasn’t entirely driven by professional obligation, because I imagine it’ll be quite difficult for anything here to seem like a “formidable” assignment compared to what Berry was asked to do in Cloud Atlas. Check out the image above and head back for the trailer soon.

Do you think The Call will resemble some of Anderson’s better work to date? Or are you expecting merely another generic early-year thriller?

Carey Mulligan Eyeing Lead Role in James Marsh-Directed Thriller ‘Nancy and Danny’

Written by Danny King, August 15, 2012 at 8:31 pm 

It’s a sad thought, but unless Joel and Ethan Coen‘s Inside Llewyn Davis receives a last-minute 2012 push, the news of The Great Gatsby‘s delay means that we’ll have to wait for our calendars to change years until we next see Carey Mulligan on the big screen. It’s unfortunate, too, because 2011′s one-two punch of Drive and Shame — the latter, in my opinion, representing career-best work to date — surely did wonders for her popularity, and a successful late-year turn in Baz Luhrmann‘s 3D extravaganza would’ve certainly kept the wheels turning.

But even now, with several badges of honor under her sleeve, Mulligan remains reluctant to attach herself to newly-announced projects without scrupulous consideration, so it’s with great intrigue that I report her personal interest in the starring role of Nancy and Danny, a small-town story about “a money-hungry woman (Mulligan) whose big-city dreams failed.” The logline’s second sentence: “In order to land a high school crush, she uses a hapless man as a pawn in a get-rich-quick scheme that quickly goes wrong.”

The THR exclusive, which describes Nancy and Danny as “in the vein” of Gus Van Sant‘s Nicole Kidman-starring To Die For, is quick to point out that Mulligan “pursued the part” herself, and that may have something to do with the attached helmer: James Marsh, of the Oscar-winning documentary Man on Wire. More related to this project, however, is Marsh‘s history as a narrative filmmaker — back in 2009, he directed the second of the Red Riding films, and this year, his Shadow Dancer premiered to an extremely interesting response at the Sundance Film Festival. (You can find our video review of Shadow Dancer here.)

The screenwriter of Nancy and Danny, Brad Ingelsby, also carries some pedigree with him — in addition to being attached to Scott Cooper‘s Crazy Heart follow-up, Out of the Furnace, he’s earned multiple big-figure sums in the recent script-buying market, and has also been tapped to pen the American remake of The Raid.

Combining all that information together, it’s easy to understand why Mulligan would want the opportunity to jump on-board, and it’s even easier to get excited about the project’s potential. First thing’s first, though: I want to see Shadow Dancer.

Are you as intrigued by Nancy and Danny as I am? Do you think Mulligan would fit well into the role?

Juan Antonio Bayona’s Tsunami Drama ‘The Impossible’ to Hit Theaters at End of Year

Written by Danny King, July 18, 2012 at 9:23 pm 

Just yesterday, when a trio of brand-new one-sheets debuted for Juan Antonio Bayona‘s The Impossible, we were lamenting the fact that the film’s distributor, Summit Entertainment, had yet to announce a stateside release date. Well, perhaps they heard our cry for support, as a settled-on opening of December 21st has now been unveiled by way of Twitter.

It will be a limited-scale debut, beginning in New York and Los Angeles before branching outward. Though that may initially seem like a weak play for a natural-disaster action-thriller starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, it’s entirely understandable when considering the unbelievably crowded platform of mid-to-late-December releases. This year, they include, among others: Peter Jackson‘s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained, and Baz Luhrmann‘s The Great Gatsby. (There’s also slightly “smaller” fare like This is 40 or Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty to think about.)

The more modest approach Summit has wisely opted for will hopefully allow the film — if it lives up to the potential of Bayona‘s last film, The Orphanage — room to breathe and gain an audience over a sustained period of time. Be sure to catch up with the film’s international trailer, which hit the web back in April. I also imagine, in lieu of this announcement, that we may be getting a domestic-flavored preview sometime in the near future. Stay tuned.

Will you keep an eye out for The Impossible this coming Deember?

Oscilloscope to Distribute Matteo Garrone’s Grand Prix-Winning ‘Reality’ In 2013

Written by Danny King, May 29, 2012 at 3:52 pm 

At first glance, the passion for Matteo Garrone‘s Reality appeared to be somewhat minimal. Our review, out of the handful of others I looked through, seemed to the most positive, with a good deal of other journalists saying that, however finely-made, the film had trouble taking off in the shadow of Garrone‘s grittily excellent Gomorrah.

Since those initial whispers, however, the film’s momentum has really taken off. When the festival’s awards were handed out on Sunday, Garrone joined the Palme d’Or-winning Michael Haneke (Amour) as the festival’s other back-to-back winner this year — Reality, like the 2008 Gomorrah before it, took home the Grand Prix. And today brings the news that Oscilloscope Laboratories has bought the rights to the film, with plans to run the festival circuit this fall in anticipation of a likely 2013 theatrical release. [Variety]

Sadly, Oscilloscope founder — and, more famously, Beastie Boys performer — Adam Yauch passed away this year, but there’s no denying the admirable image he created for Oscilloscope during his time there. Uncompromising purchases like Oren Moverman‘s fiery debut The Messenger, Kelly Reichardt‘s Meek’s Cutoff, and Lynne Ramsay‘s We Need to Talk About Kevin paved the framework for a distribution company with an eye for challenging, provocative art-house talent. Here’s hoping Reality ends up fitting nicely within that landscape.

Do you think Oscilloscope makes a good match for Reality?

Emily Browning Gets ‘Plush’ for Catherine Hardwicke

Written by Danny King, May 26, 2012 at 12:30 pm 

When we got the news a few months ago that Evan Rachel Wood had agreed to re-team with writer-director Catherine Hardwicke on Plush, it was a fairly welcome announcement for those acquainted with Hardwicke‘s fierce, determined — if largely one-note — Wood-starring debut, Thirteen. In combination with the cryptically titillating logline — an “erotic thriller set in the L.A. music world” — there was little reason to speculate that Hardwicke was still stuck in the mud of her snoozy Twilight and Red Riding Hood days.

A new exclusive from Variety, however, mixes things up quite a bit — both for better and for worse. The revelation of Emily Browning‘s circling of the project is, to my mind, the better half of that token. The striking Australian up-and-comer had to dodge a lot of criticism for her work in Zack Snyder‘s disastrous Sucker Punch, even though the film’s failings were no fault of her own. Less divisive, though, was the quality of her contribution to Julia Leigh‘s challenging first-time feature, Sleeping Beauty. The film was certainly no unanimous pleaser — and I’ll admit to not being fully convinced, after a single viewing, of its terse formal agenda — but even detractors seemed to concede that Browning‘s revealing, vulnerable leading turn was something noteworthy.

That said, there remains a heavily doubt-inducing aspect of the Variety report, and that’s the significant alteration to the film’s storyline, co-scribed by Hardwicke and Artie Nelson. It reads as follows: “Story follows a psychic psychologist who delves into the minds of patients and sees their memories in order to help them unleash past demons. He meets his match in Browning’s teen, who shares his gift.”

Whereas the previous, briefer summation brought back reassuring memories of both Thirteen‘s provocative sexual experimentation as well as its evocative representation of a seedy Los Angeles, the new plotline feels riddled with all the fantastical nonsense that has marred Hardwicke‘s previous two outings. So, for now, color me thumbs-up on the Browning involvement, and a seriously skeptical thumbs-sideways on the narrative side of things.

What is your initial reaction to the drastic storyline alteration?