Review: Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV

With Aaron Paul, Lena Headey, and Sean Bean

Review: War Dogs

Starring Miles Teller and Jonah Hill

Review: Ben-Hur

Starring Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell, and Morgan Freeman

Review: Kubo and the Two Strings

With Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, and Rooney Mara

Review: Morris from America

Starring Craig Robinson, Markees Christmas, and Carla Juri

8/26/2016

Elizabeth Olsen Joins Jason Sudeikis And Ed Harris In 'Kodachrome'


After a little bit of confusion, the cast of the upcoming road trip drama Kodachrome is coming together. A few months ago Jason Sudeikis and Ed Harris boarded the film which features a script by This is Where I Leave You author/screenwriter Jonathan Tropper. Elizabeth Olsen was attached, then dropped, and now she's attached again according to THR.

Directed by Mark Raso (Copenhagen), the story centers on a record label boss who goes on a road trip to Kansas with his dying father to get a roll of Kodak film developed at the last Kodachrome lab before it shuts down forever. Wendy Crewson, Dennis Haysbert, and Bruce Greenwood co-star with Shawn Levy producing.

Olsen's non-Marvel time usually finds her taking on a number of smaller films, such as I Saw the Light and the upcoming drama Wind River, and you can now add Kodachrome to that list. Shooting begins this weekend leaving her plenty of time before starting on Avengers: Infinity War.


Russos Confirm A Major Change For Captain America Post-'Civil War'

 

From the moment he was introduced Captain America's story has been about the super-patriotic Avenger coming to grips with the nature of modern heroism. As he learned in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the concept of heroes and villains wasn't as black and white as when he faced the Nazis in 'The First Avenger'. And finally, 'Civil War' found his incorruptible standards putting him at odds with the Avengers themselves. So when he laid down his shield at the end of the film it really meant something huge, and the Russo Brothers have revealed to HuffPo exactly what the gesture meant...

“I think him dropping that shield is him letting go of that identity,” Joe Russo said. “[It’s] him admitting that certainly the identity of Captain America was in conflict with the very personal choice that he was making.”

So no more Cap? This has actually happened before in the comics, when he dropped the shield, renounced his ties to the U.S., and became Nomad. Is that the direction we can expect to see the film version of Cap go? Maybe, maybe not, but even if it is don't expect it to last long. We probably won't see Cap until Avengers: Infinity War anyway, and then its eventual follow-up, and he'll probably be back sporting the red, white, and blue by the end of the battle with Thanos.  Hey, at least he's still alive which is more than what can be said about the comic book Civil War storyline. But it does open the question as to who is Captain America now. Given how things turned out it's unlikely Falcon or Winter Soldier would pick up the mantle, but then you never know.

However, there's a good chance we never would have reached this point if Robert Downey Jr. hadn't agreed to be part of 'Civil War'.  It wasn't always a done deal, and the Russos told EW that they had one other big idea just in case they had no Iron Man for Cap to beef with...

“There was a period where we did discuss a third act that revolved around the Madbomb from Cap mythology,” said Anthony Russo. It didn’t have anything to do with ‘Civil War,’ and if we couldn’t get Downey — in the very, very early conversations before we nailed him — somebody pitched the idea of a third-act that revolved around the Madbomb, which makes people crazy. It almost like zombifies them — but not literally. "

Joe added, “The notion of the Madbomb would have been Cap having to fight civilians and how he would he handle that. We were always trying to put him into these interesting moral conundrums because of his nature. That would have made a compelling third act because if civilians are the antagonists, how could he stop them without killing them? Somebody you know has turned into a zombie and now you have to fight them. And there would have been the emotional component of that."

Meh, doubtful it would have had the same emotional impact. Stories like that rarely do. Let's just be thankful things went as they did, because without it we wouldn't have the below blooper reel from the upcoming Captain America: Civil War Blu-Ray, which you should have already ordered.

Review: 'Ixcanul', Starring María Mercedes Coroy, María Telón, And Marvin Coroy


I can understand why Guatemala's offering for this past season's Best Foreign Language Film didn't get nominated, despite its quiet beauty and lyrical imagery.  Once you check off the requisite holocaust story and three that engage with different aspects of the complicated relationship between the modern west and the Muslim world, there's only one slot left for gorgeously photographed indigenous Latin American communities, and Embrace of the Serpent nabbed that one.  Luckily, Jayro Bustamente's Ixcanul -- "Volcano", in English -- is getting a small release anyway.

Maria (María Mercedes Coroy) is one of the indigenous Kaqchikel people in Quatemala.  She and her family live on a coffee plantation on the side of a volcano, little more than indentured servants "allowed" to live in their houses on the plantation's land.  Her parents (María Telón and Manuel Manuel Antún) are arranging a marriage to Ignacio (Justo Lorenzo), who works closely with the plantation boss, going along with him on business trips to the big city and everything.  But Maria seems less than thrilled at the prospect.

Her affections are more for Pepe (Marvin Coroy), one of the laborers on the plantation.  Less secure than Ignacio, he fills her head with romance and adventure.  As soon as he gets paid for this season's work, he's going over the mountain, to the United States -- well, passing through Mexico in between -- and he's promised to take Maria with him.  And like any young couple in love, they don't want to wait until they get married before reaping the benefits, with predictable trouble for Maria.

Bustamente weaves this story together with silent, almost documentary-style observations of the daily lives of indigenous Mayan enclaves, both ritual and prosaic.  He starts the film with Maria and her mother Juana beseeching the volcano for a happy marriage and life.  When she becomes pregnant, Juana has a slew of traditional remedies.  And until one of them works, the "magic" of a woman's pregnancy can have all sorts of beneficial uses in the village.

But it is a slow, calm movie that works in more through observation than explanation.  As such, it demands a fair amount of attention, and it's certain to work better with an audience that's already attuned to the tribulations of indigenous Guatemalans.  I didn't know at the outset, for example, that Guatemalan medical workers had for decades systematically stolen and put indigenous babies up for adoption.  Knowing that would have helped make sense of one sequence in particular, and I'm sure that there's other things I missed that someone more familiar with the issues facing indigenous Central American peoples.

Even so, despite what I might have missed or misunderstood, Ixcanul has much to offer.  This community defies reduction or stereotype in any direction, as all real communities do.  They are, for all the ways they differ from us, profoundly similar.  Maria has the same hopes and dreams and fears that any young woman might have.  Her mother does too, and their responses to their circumstances are anything but simple, the way they might be presented if an American production bothered to present them at all.

Rating: 3 out of 5

'New Mutants' Just Scored The Perfect Pair Of Writers


It should become standard practice that any movie about teenagers be written by Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter. The duo were behind the screenplays for (500) Days of Summer, The Fault In Our Stars, The Spectacular Now, and Paper Towns, all pretty good or even great at showing what it feels like to be young and in love. Can they work that magic in a movie that also includes a girl who can teleport and a techno-organic alien? We'll find out because Weber and Neustadter have been hired to write X-Men spinoff, New Mutants.

They'll be reuniting with The Fault In our Stars director Josh Boone who has been aboard the film since the beginning. The New Mutants are basically the mutant junior leaguers, in training to become X-Men some day. In the comics they are initially trained by Charles Xavier, and it's expected James McAvoy will reprise that role along with Alexandra Shipp as Storm. As for the team roster it will include human rocket Cannonball, Wolfsbane the lycan shapeshifter, heat-absorber Sunspot, Colossus' magical teleporting sister Magik, Native American warrior Dani Moonstar, and the techno-organic being Warlock. Here's hoping they find a way to fit in Warlock's pal, Cypher, so we can get Douglock at some point. Anya-Taylor Joy (The Witch) has been rumored for the role of Magik, and she would be absolutely perfect for it, while Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones) could play Wolfsbane.

There's still a lot we don't know about New Mutants, like where it fits in the overall X-Men franchise. Could it lead to a possible X-Force movie? Will Deadpool be involved somehow? How about a Wolverine cameo? Hopefully we'll start to learn more soon. [THR]




Demi Moore Will 'Rock That Body', Sarah Paulson Rounds Out 'Ocean's 8', Vincent D'Onofrio Has A 'Death Wish'


Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer and Zoe Kravitz will be joined in the R-rated comedy Rock that Body by Demi Moore. This will be her first major theatrical film since Margin Call in 2011, although she's been keeping busy on smaller projects. The raunchy story centers on five friends who rent a beach house in Miami for a wild bachelorette weekend, only to have things go completely off the rails. There may also be the hiding a dead body involved, if we're to believe the previous title of Move that Body. Broad City's Paul W. Downs and Lucia Aniello wrote co-wrote the Black List approved screenplay for Aniello to direct. Filming has already begun in hopes of having it ready for a  June 23rd 2017 release. [Deadline]

The eighth member of the Ocean's Eight cast may have been found as Sarah Paulson (Carol, American Horror Story) is in talks to join Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling and Awkwafina. Gary Ross (The Hunger Games) is directing the spinoff of Ocean's Eleven, which finds Bullock as the sister to George Clooney's character. She and a new team of thieves plan to steal a valuable necklace from the Met Ball in order to frame a villainous gallery owner.

The Eli Roth-directed, Bruce Willis-starring Death Wish remake has added Vincent D'Onofrio and Dean Norris (Breaking Bad) to the lineup. The original 1974 film is a Charles Bronson revenge classic, and centers on a regular New York guy who becomes a vigilante after the murder of his wife. Multiple versions of the script have been written already but the latest draft comes from Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski (Big Eyes) who will be sticking closer to the source novel by Brian Garfield. [Deadline]

Neil Burger To Direct That Remake Of 'The Intouchables' Which Is Still Happening


Has Weinstein missed the boat on their remake of hit French comedy, The Intouchables? For years they've struggled to find a pair of stars that have the chemistry of Omar Sy and François Cluzet. After going through Colin Firth, Jamie Foxx, Chris Tucker, and more, they finally settled on Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart. But choosing a director has been just as difficult, and now a new filmmaker is taking over from Simon Curtis who had been in negotiations.

Variety reports Neil Burger (Divergent) will direct the American version of the 2011 comedy about a wealthy, white quadriplegic who becomes close friends with his streetwise black caregiver. The original movie was huge, grossing $430M worldwide and was voted the cultural event of the year in France. Weinstein was quick to snap up the remake rights that same year but have had difficulty getting the project rolling.

Paul Feig wrote the first draft of the remake's script although John Hartmere has penned the version Burger will direct. Production is expected to begin in January.


Disney Wants Sam Mendes For Live-Action 'James And The Giant Peach'


Roald Dahl may be one of our most beloved authors, but his last adaptation, Steven Spielberg's The BFG, was a huge failure. That won't stop Disney from bringing another of his cherished novels to the screen, however, as they are lining up some impressive talent for a live-action James and the Giant Peach, which was previously adapted to great acclaim in 1996 by Henry Selick and Tim Burton.

Variety reports Skyfall and Spectre director Sam Mendes is in very early talks to direct James and the Giant Peach, with Oscar-nominated screenwriter Nick Hornby (Brooklyn, High Fidelity) penning the script. The classic 1961 novel, Dahl's first for children, centered on a lonely boy who befriends a bunch of insects inside a giant magical peach.

Disney was also behind the 1996 stop-motion film so this counts as yet another of their live-action remakes. Mendes has been keeping a low profile since bowing out of the next Bond movie to pursue different projects. This would be about as different from Bond as possible, so he's at least getting what he wants.

Disney's 'The Nutcracker' Adds Helen Mirren As Mother Ginger


Helen Mirren is one of the greatest living actresses, but what's best about her is that she'll do whatever the heck she wants. If she wants a role in Fast 8 opposite Vin Diesel? Well, it's hers. And while she doesn't exactly seem like the holiday spirit kind of lady, she must enjoy Christmas enough to join Disney's live-action The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.

THR reports Mirren is in talks to play Mother Ginger in the adaptation of the famous ballet. Mackenzie Foy, Keira Knightley, Morgan Freeman, and ballerina Misty Copeland star in the classic story about a young girl's nutcracker doll that comes to life on Christmas Eve to protect her from the villainous Mouse King.  I wonder if Mirren will wear the large hoop skirt the character sports in Tchaikovsky's ballet, because that could be worth paying for all by itself.

Disney has yet to give the Lasse Hallstrom-directed film a release date but would anyone be shocked if it's next year around the holidays?


8/25/2016

Review: 'Hands Of Stone' Starring Edgar Ramirez, Robert De Niro, And Usher Raymond


Man, the Weinsteins just can't buy a break with their recent boxing dramas. Last year they openly suggested Jake Gyllenhaal's Southpaw would be an Oscar contender and it was noticeably upstaged by Creed. They've had similar hopes for the Roberto Duran biopic Hands of Stone, but its placement at the tail end of summer tells you they eventually came around to their senses. Not that the film is bad, but it doesn't deliver the heavy emotional blows worth of its hard-hitting subject.

Movies about the squared circle remain the ultimate in "man vs. life" microcosm, which is why they are perfectly suited to the cinematic treatment. And Duran's story would seem to be well in-line with that, as he rose from a poor Panamanian upbringing to become one of the greatest, most enduring lightweight champions in boxing history. That he's known mostly for his infamous "No mas" match against Sugar Ray Leonard is a disservice to his legacy as a ferocious competitor who had more than 200 fights and won titles in four separate weight classes. Duran was a beast; Hands of Stone, named after the boxer's well-earned nickname, ironically lacks punching power.

Edgar Ramirez capably fills the gloves of Duran, who we see scrapping for food and money as a child in Panama. When his fighting ability is noticed by a local trainer, Duran begins to rise in the ranks as an epic slugger. Always confident, Duran has no problem talking to get what he wants, including the heart of the gorgeous  Felicidad Iglesias (Ana de Armas), an beauty well above his social status. It's not until Duran hooks up with famed Jewish trainer Ray Arcel (Robert De Niro) that his career really takes off. Writer/director Jonathan Jakubowicz struggles with the placement of Ray's story. Is it the primary plot or a secondary one behind that of Duran's, and the lack of focus is glaring. Ray's been out of the game for years, having been edged out by New York mobsters (John Turturro plays infamous gangster/promoter Frankie Carbo) for refusing to fix fights. The rule is that he can never earn another penny as a trainer, so Ray agrees to train Duran for free because that's how much he believes in his talent.

Ray, who was well into his '70s at the time, invests everything into Duran and teaches him the tricks of the trade. One of his clever pscyhological ploys comes between rounds when he would gently comb Duran's hair so he always started the next round looking unscathed. It works, and soon Duran is top of the heap after defeating the previously unbeaten Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher Raymond) for the Lightweight championship. From there, Duran's hot head and ego get the best of him, and the trajectory downward is swift, only to be followed by many learned lessons and redemption.

As great as boxing movies are, they can be painfully formulaic and Hands of Stone definitely qualifies as such. This isn't a problem if the other aspects are elevated to make each boxer's story seem special, or at least worthy of being told. There's little heart and soul injected into Duran's journey, however, and at no point are we made to feel like his career is as great as it was in reality. There's also very little attempt to provide insight into why Duran is who he is. What are the motivations behind the demeaning comments he makes towards Leonard's wife before their fight? If it was to sell tickets then we could at least say Duran was a precursor to the staged antics of today, but that reason is never given. Why, at the height of his success, does he then push away everyone who ever helped him achieve greatness? Why is he incapable of training and maintaining weight, a problem that directly affects his unwanted rematch with Leonard, the "no mas" fight that has become legend? And ultimately, what made him utter those words and quit the fight, tarnishing his career forever? Hands of Stone doesn't offer much in the way of answers and doesn't seem interested in them, which begs the question, "Why is this movie here at all?"

Hands of Stone plows forward in a straight-ahead fashion, similar to how Duran battled in the ring. Where it finds greatest success is in those in-ring showdowns as Jakubowicz and DP Miguel Ioann Littin Menz capture the energy, artistry, and viciousness of the sweet science. Ramirez doesn't get much of a chance to endear Duran to us, but inside the ring he's a physical dynamo. De Niro, no stranger to boxing movies after classic Raging Bull and not-so-classic Grudge Match, knows the scene and fits in nicely as a mentor/father figure to Duran. And in a surprise Usher is actually great as Sugar Ray Leonard; not only is he practically a Leonard clone but he captures his dashing exuberance. In the ring he dances and smiles and jabs, grinning from ear to ear with each punch; a happy assassin just like Leonard. Maybe it's unfair that Hands of Stone exists in a world where so many great boxing movies have come before it. If they didn't exist we may look at it in a different way. But they do exist, and the best fighters should always rise to the level of their competition, not be defeated by them.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5


Denzel Washington May Star In Legal Drama 'Inner City' From 'Nightcrawler' Director


Moviegoers probably know the last name 'Gilroy' because of Tony Gilroy, the longtime screenwriter of the 'Bourne' franchise, director of Michael Clayton, and the apparent savior of those Rogue One: A Star Wars Story reshoots. But last year his brother Dan Gilroy made the case he should be high in the minds of many with his directorial debut, Nightcrawler, which gave Jake Gyllenhaal the role of a lifetime. Can Gilroy do the same for Denzel Washington in his next film? We're about to find out.

According to Variety, Washington will star in legal drama Inner City, which Gilroy will write and direct. Once again exploring the Los Angeles underbelly, the film finds Washington as a lawyer dealing with major changes at his firm. ThePlaylist firms up the description by adding that he plays "an ambulance chasing lawyer, who takes over the business when his boss falls sick, but only manages to mess everything up." Paul Newman's The Verdict has been cited as a comparison which is pretty bold if you ask me.

For obvious reasons the major distributors are circling this one like a hawk, with Netflix looking like a possible destination.