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6/28/2016

First Trailer For Xavier Dolan's Cannes Award Winner 'It's Only The End Of The World'


There are always polarizing films at the Cannes Film Festival, many of which get showered with boos from the highly-critical audience. This year one film that received some pretty harsh treatment was Xavier Dolan's It's Only the End of the World, which stars Marion Cotillard, Léa Seydoux, Vincent Cassel, Nathalie Baye, and Gaspard Ulliel. However when all was said and done the Jury praised Dolan's film, honoring it with two awards, and now the first trailer is here so the rest of us can begin to judge for ourselves.

Based on the Jean-Luc Lagarce play, the film centers on a writer who returns home to announce his impending death, and the ramifications that follow. Here's the official synopsis:

After 12 years of absence, a writer goes back to his hometown, planning on annoucing his upcoming death to his family. As resentment soon rewrites the course of the afternoon, fits and feuds unfold, fuelled by loneliness and doubt, while all attempts of empathy are sabotaged by people’s incapacity to listen and love.

From top to bottom the cast is terrific, and Dolan seems to going for ample moments of levity to go along with such a heavy premise. Based on this it looks like a solid drama but if he got the emotional mix wrong then it could go off the rails quickly. It's Only the End of the World has yet to gain U.S. distribution but we'll update you if that changes.

Review: ‘Septembers Of Shiraz' Starring Adrien Brody, Salma Hayek-Pinault, And Shohreh Aghdashloo


There might be some way to depict the Iranian Revolution on film, but Septembers of Shiraz is not it.

This drama about a Jewish family persecuted in Iran once Islamic fundamentalists seized power of the government simplifies too much, failing to provide much of the necessary context required to understand the motivations of its characters. Instead of illuminating, the film languishes—spending so much time on scenes of Adrien Brody being tortured and Salma Hayek-Pinault crying that it fails to make any kind of point aside from “The Iranian Revolution was bad, and most Iranian Muslims involved were hypocrites.”

And, well, that’s a point that tons of American action movies already de facto give us in their depictions of the Middle East. Academy Award winner Argo did it, and Jon Stewart’s very underrated Rosewater did it, and both of them had more nuance and subtlety than Septembers of Shiraz

The film, “based on true events” and the 2007 novel by Dalia Sofer, centers on a secular Jewish family living in Tehran in August 1979: Husband Isaac (Brody), a jeweler, and wife Farnez (Hayek), a writer-turned-housewife. They are educated and wealthy, sending their teenage son to a boarding school in the United States, but it’s clear that the country is changing around them. The Iranian Revolution is becoming more violent as Islamic fundamentalist factions led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini wrestle power away from their socialist, intellectual, and student allies, and the country is becoming more conservative and oppressed by the day.

Why did the Revolution happen? What caused so many Iranians to push against the influence of the West, especially the United States? What brought about their antagonism toward Iran’s Jewish population, which had a presence in the country for thousands of years? Septembers of Shiraz doesn’t address any of those questions, even though it wants to weave a story from the answers. Within the first few minutes, Isaac and Farnez go from having a fancy party blasting disco to a news report about how the Revolutionary Guard is running Tehran. “Our country’s coming apart at the seams!” Isaac yells, and that’s about all the political-upheaval explanation we get.

Instead, the film goes heavy on the torture and mind games that Isaac and Farnez are subjected to: Isaac is arrested and made to undergo vigorous questioning and beatings about alleged ties with the Israeli government and the former Shah of Iran, while Farnez turns to their housekeeper, Habibeh (Shohreh Aghdashloo) for comfort, even though Habibeh’s son Morteza (Navid Navid) has become a member of the Revolutionary Guard and is trying to turn his mother against the family. “When I listen to him, he makes a lot of sense,” Habibeh tells Farnez. “Why should some people live like kings, and the rest like rats? … What if we want our mullahs to rule us?”

The conversations between Farnez and Habibeh, which address issues of religion, labor, and class, are the best parts of Septembers of Shiraz, and come closest to acknowledging some of the major motivations of the Iranian Revolution. Farnez is elitist, and Habibeh is disenfranchised, and the reality is that they can’t see eye-to-eye on everything—that’s not how capitalism works. But Hayek-Pinault is her best when she’s coldly pointing out how much she and her husband have done for Habibeh and her son, and Aghdashloo has always been good at projecting insidious shame and resentment.

Brody, though, is stuck in a torture storyline that feels both exploitative and underdeveloped. He gets a good scene toward the end of the film when he faces off against Morteza, questioning him about why he’s wronged their family, but that’s about all Brody gets to do.

There are too many unanswered questions in Septembers of Shiraz, and too many distractions. Goofy things like Brody and Hayek-Pinault’s failed Iranian accents (both sound like a British Dracula) will take you out of the movie, but so will the sense that an incomplete story is being told—that while Isaac and Farnez certainly doesn’t deserve what happened to them, just like thousands of Iranians didn’t, there was more to the Iranian Revolution than just a bunch of thugs high on power trips, looting houses and abusing strangers.

“They didn’t need a reason,” a character says about how the Revolutionary Guard and the Muslim fundamentalists are bleeding the country. But Septembers of Shiraz tells a disappointingly superficial story to make that point.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 Guttenbergs
  


Tyrese Is Coming Back For 'Transformers: The Last Knight'


It looks like Josh Duhamel won't be the only original cast member to return for Transformers: The Last Knight. With shooting already underway on the franchise's fifth film, Tyrese Gibson has confirmed through Instagram that he'll be back as soldier Robert Epps, once again getting swept up in the fight between Autobots and Decepticons.


Tyrese joins Mark Wahlberg, Isabela Moner, Sir Anthony Hopkins, and Laura Haddock with the plot possibly involving Optimus Prime's journey to Cybertron and quest for a powerful artifact with ties to King Arthur.  With Duhamel and Tyrese returning it appears the U.S. military will be playing a big role after skipping Transformers: Age of Extinction.

Like him or not but Tyrese has been right in the middle of two of the biggest movie franchises of all-time. He'll be seen next opposite Vin Diesel and the gang in Fast 8, which he's been a part of since 2003's 2 Fast 2 Furious.  That film opens next April, with Transformers: The Last Knight arriving just two months later on June 23rd 2017.

'Ghost In The Shell' Producer Plans Live-Action 'Lone Wolf And Cub'


Numerous attempts to bring an Americanized live-action version of Koike Kazuo's classic manga Lone Wolf and Cub have all fallen by the wayside, with Justin Lin (Star Trek Beyond) attached to direct one back in 2012. Despite the many failures Hollywood has experienced trying to adapt any of Japan's top manga/anime properties, they aren't giving up. This time the project is being spear-headed by producer Steven Paul, who has a proven track record after attracting Scarlett Johansson for Ghost In the Shell.

Variety reports Paul's SP International Pictures will develop an English-language Lone Wolf and Cub: Final Conflict, the iconic story of noble samurai Ogami Ittō who is framed for assassination by the Yagyu Clan and forced to become an assassin. Along with his 3-year-old son he seeks revenge against those who disgraced his honor.

Lone Wolf and Cub has been adapted into six live-action Japanese movies starring  Tomisaburo Wakayama, and most are worth checking out. It's also been a TV series, stage play, and a video game, because everything gets turned into a video game over in Japan. 

The plan is to get rolling some time in 2017 and it will be very interesting to see what approach Paul takes with the casting. He says the film will be shot with an "essentially Japanese cast", but does that necessarily apply to the lead role or just the supporters? Hopefully he's learned a lesson from the backlash Ghost In the Shell received for casting Johansson as a traditionally Asian character, but then we don't know if that brief uproar will have an impact at the box office.



Owen Wilson Joins 'Wonder' With Jacob Tremblay And Julia Roberts


Could it be that everyone is flocking to work with Room breakout, Jacob Tremblay? How could they not after seeing the talented young actor's performance and how it helped boost Brie Larson to her first Oscar win? Already he's got Colin Trevorrow's The Book of Henry (first glimpse at that here) opposite Naomi Watts, and recently he agreed to star in Wonder with Julia Roberts. Now that inspiring coming-of-age drama will see Tremblay joined by Owen Wilson, as well.

Wilson has landed a role in the adaptation of Racquel J. Palacio's book about August Pullman, a young boy born with facial differences that kept him out of mainstream school early in life, but now as he enters the fifth grade is enrolled in a private school where he becomes an unlikely hero. Wilson is expected to play August's father.

Stephen Chbosky, author and director of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, will be behind the camera working from a script co-written by Steve Conrad (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) and Jack Thorne. Shooting will likely begin soon in order to hit the April 7th 2017 release date. [Variety]

6/27/2016

Ansel Elgort Is Joining The 'Dungeons & Dragons' Movie


Believe it or not but there have been three feature films based on the nerdiest game of all, Dungeons & Dragons. Most remember the 2000 flop that featured Marlon Wayans for some reason, and that was followed by two cheap sequels that either were for TV or straight-to-DVD. But Warner Bros. has been developing one of their own for a while now, and after a lengthy legal battle over the rights they announced Rob Letterman (Goosebumps) as the director. Now they're taking the next step by signing Ansel Elgort as the first official cast member.

Deadline has the news of Elgort's negotiations to join the film which will be written by David Leslie Johnson (The Conjuring 2) and is described as  “a fantasy adventure centering on a warrior and his band of mystical creatures as they embark on a dangerous journey to find a mythical treasure.” So why would audiences be excited over this when they weren't over Warcraft?

Elgort is a good start, and he's a genuinely likable actor that audiences seem to be responding to. He was great in The Fault In Our Stars and the Carrie remake, and is one of the few bright spots in The Divergent Series. He's currently shooting Edgar Wright's Baby Driver and will be seen later this year in November Criminals, reuniting with Chloe Moretz. No word on what Elgort's role will be or when the film will hit theaters, but after the long wait you can bet Warner Bros. won't wait long. And if they can snag Vin Diesel for a role then that would be even better. Diesel is a longtime D&D player and has been lobbying to be part of it. Now you know why he was so gung-ho for The Last Witch Hunter because it kind of looked like a D&D game come to life, only not as cool.

First Look At Jacob Tremblay And Jaeden Lieberher In Colin Trevorrow's 'The Book Of Henry'


There's still an air of mystery surrounding The Book of Henry, the latest film from Jurassic World, Safety Not Guaranteed, and upcoming Star Wars IX director, Colin Trevorrow. What we do know for certain is that it has a pair of today's most beloved young stars in Room's Jacob Tremblay and Midnight Special's Jaeden Lieberher.

Both actors appear in the first official image released by Empire Magazine. The story, penned by author and comic book writer Gregg Hurwitz, centers on a single mom raising two boys, one of whom is a genius and apparently loves plunging things. The boys set out on a scheme to rescue their neighbor (Maddie Ziegler) from abuse at the hands of her father, a police commissioner. Naomi Watts plays the boys' mother, while Sarah Silverman, Dean Norris, Lee Pace, and Bobby Moynihan co-star. 

This has been a passion project of Trevorrow's for a while now, and he sounds excited to finally be making it happen. Scoring the #1 hit of 2015 will do that for ya.

"I wanted to do something that scared the hell out of me. An acoustic movie with intense emotion. The challenge was to give an audience the same tension and thrills they get from a blockbuster, but rely solely on story and character to do it.”

The Book of Henry opens September 16th, and if we're lucky it'll mean Tremblay can attend all the awards shows again.


Enter To Win ROE Passes To 'Swiss Army Man' Starring Paul Dano And Daniel Radcliffe


We're happy to offer our readers the chance to win run of engagement (ROE) passes for Swiss Army Man, the totally weird buddy comedy starring Daniel Radcliffe, Paul Dano, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

SYNOPSIS: Hank (Paul Dano) is stranded on a deserted island, having given up all hope of ever making it home again.  But one day everything changes when a corpse named Manny (Daniel Radcliffe) washes up on shore; the two become fast friends, and ultimately go on an epic adventure that will bring Hank back to the woman of his dreams.  

These passes are good at any Regal or AMC theater in Washington DC beginning Tuesday, July 5th. They are available for use Monday-Thursday. To enter, simply send an email to punchdrunktrav@gmail.com with 'Swiss Army Man ROE' in the subject line, and include your full name and mailing address. 10 winners will be selected on Wednesday, June 29th, to win an Admit-Two ROE pass.

Good luck!  Swiss Army Man opens in DC on July 1st.

Jamie Dornan Investigates 'The 9th Life Of Louis Drax' In New Trailer


It's been a circuitous route to the screen for supernatural film The 9th Life of Louis Drax. The original directors attached to adapting Liz Jensen's novel were the great Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella. However, both directors passed away and the project languished for a while until Anthony's son, Max, took over as screenwriter. He brought in his Horns director Alexandre Aja, snagged a then-hot star in Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey), and now here we are with the first trailer.

Also starring Sarah Gadon, Aaron Paul, Oliver Platt, Barbara Hershey, Molly Parker, and Aiden Longworth as 9-year-old Louis Drax, this peculiar film centers on the titular boy whose life has been full of strange coincidences and near-death encounters, culminating in a fall that leaves him in a coma. Dornan plays the doctor who begins investigating the nearly fatal accident and the odd circumstances surrounding the boy's life.

The 9th Life of Louis Drax opens September 2nd, and looks to be an intriguing mix of fantasy, mystery, and sci-fi thrillers.

The Bachelor Party Must Go On In Trailer For 'Joshy' With Thomas Middleditch, Jenny Slate, And Aubrey Plaza


Every guy knows the best part of any wedding is the bachelor party, right? So what do you do when the wedding gets canceled unexpectedly? If you're the groom's true friends then the only recourse is to throw the bachelor party anyway, and that's what happens in the Sundance comedy ensemble, Joshy, which just debuted its first trailer.

The cast is filled with a ton of funny people who have rarely had a chance to shine on the big screen. Silicon Valley star Thomas Middleditch plays Joshy who is dumped by his fiancee only to have his pals keep the party going. Adam Pally (who starred with Middleditch in the similar Search Party), Nick Kroll, Jenny Slate, Brett Gelman (Married), Lauren Graham, Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson, and Alison Brie co-star along with roles for directors Alex Ross Perry (Queen of Earth) and Joe Swanberg (Drinking Buddies). Jeff Baena (Life After Beth) directed and wrote the script, but buzz out of Sundance is that the entire thing was improved, which could be interesting.

Hulu plans to release Joshy opens on August 12th.