Middleburg Film Festival

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Review: Ouija: Origin of Evil

Directed by Mike Flanagan,Starring Elizabeth Reaser and Annalise Basso

Review: Certain Women

Directed by Kelly Reichardt, Starring Michelle Williams, Kristen Stewart, and Laura Dern

Review: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Starring Tom Cruise and Cobie Smulders

Review: Keeping Up with the Joneses

Starring Zack Galifianakis, Gal Gadot, Jon Hamm, and Isla Fisher


Eli Roth's 'Death Wish' Remake Casts Beau Knapp As Villain

In Charles Bronson's 1974 Death Wish and in the novel by Brian Garfield, there were no lead villains to go after. That was kind of the point, that Paul Kersey's vigilantism had no obvious end. But that's clearly not where Eli Roth's remake is going because Deadline reports Beau Knapp is set to play revenge thriller's main bad guy. Sure, okay.

Knapp, who was last seen ticking off Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling in The Nice Guys, will now be the "main adversary" to Bruce Willis. The rest of the story is what it has always been; Willis plays Kersey, an ordinary guy who seeks bloody vengeance after his family is attacked by criminals in their own home.  The thing is, in the original story he doesn't even really go after the guys who committed the violent act. He just buys a gun and starts killing those he knows are bad people. That's why giving the movie a villain isn't such a good idea.

But we'll see; things may not be as they seem. The report could be incorrect and Knapp just another target on Willis' hit list.

James McAvoy Goes Mental In Trailer For M. Night Shyamalan's 'Split'

After spending a bunch of years playing the telepathic Charles Xavier of the X-Men, James McAvoy is taking on a character with a totally different set of mental issues. He'll get to show his range in Split, the new thriller from M. Night Shyamalan, playing a character with a whopping 23 different personas.

Also starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Jessica Sula, and Haley Lu Richardson, Split centers on Kevin, whose dissociative identity disorder manifests in unpredictable ways, like kidnapping three girls and holding them hostage. The trailer, much like the synopsis, reveals just enough without giving too much away. And as we learned from the strong early buzz out of Fantastic Fest, there's a lot more Shyamalan is keeping under wraps. Perhaps one of his infamous "twists"?

While the mental divisions of those with dissociative identity disorder have long fascinated and eluded science, it is believed that some can also manifest unique physical attributes for each personality, a cognitive and physiological prism within a single being.

Though Kevin (James McAvoy) has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley), there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy, The Witch), Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him—as well as everyone around him—as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.

Split opens January 20th 2017.

Warren Beatty Becomes Howard Hughes In Final 'Rules Don't Apply' Trailer

Not every actor can take fifteen years away and come back like he never left. Fortunately for Warren Beatty his legendary status allows him to do just that. His Howard Hughes film Rules Don't Apply is his first in that stretch of time, and with the star-studded film on the way next month the final trailer has arrived.

Directed by and starring Beatty as the reclusive, eccentric Hughes, the film stars Lily Collins as a contract actress who finds her faith tested and career jeopardized her love for her driver, played by Alden Ehrenreich. Kind of an oddball premise, but with a cast that includes Alec Baldwin, Annette Bening, Haley Bennett, Candice Bergen, Matthew Broderick, Dabney Coleman, Steve Coogan, Taissa Farmiga, Ed Harris, Oliver Platt, and Martin Sheen it should be fun.  Here's the synopsis:

An aspiring young actress (Lily Collins) and her ambitious young driver (Alden Ehrenreich) struggle hopefully with the absurd eccentricities of the wildly unpredictable billionaire (Warren Beatty), who they work for.

It’s Hollywood, 1958. Small town beauty queen and devout Baptist virgin Marla Mabrey (Collins), under contract to the infamous Howard Hughes (Beatty), arrives in Los Angeles. At the airport, she meets her driver Frank Forbes (Ehrenreich), who is engaged to be married to his 7th grade sweetheart and is a deeply religious Methodist. Their instant attraction not only puts their religious convictions to the test, but also defies Hughes’ #1 rule: no employee is allowed to have any relationship whatsoever with a contract actress. Hughes’ behavior intersects with Marla and Frank in very separate and unexpected ways, and as they are drawn deeper into his bizarre world, their values are challenged and their lives are changed.

Rules Don't Apply opens November 23rd.

Wolverine's Healing Factor Ain't Workin' In New 'Logan' Image

In case the previous image of an aged and scarred Hugh Jackman wasn't enough to prove how powered-down Wolverine will be in Logan, the latest update from director James Mangold should do the trick. The photo shows a groggy Wolverine with wounds in his chest that don't appear to be healing at all. And if those wounds aren't healing, you can imagine how much it must hurt when he pops his claws. Ouch.

But Wolverine is still alive and kicking, which is a testament to his toughness. He'll need every bit of it if he's to survive the threat of the Reavers led by Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), as well as his old foes in Weapon X. Then again, with this being Jackman's final time as the X-Man and the introduction of X-23 (Dafne Keen) maybe Wolverine isn't meant to survive?

Also starring Richard E. Grant, Stephen Merchant, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Eriq La Salle, and Elise Neal, Logan opens March 3rd 2017.

Tim Miller's 'Deadpool 2' Exit May Not Have Been So Simple

As usual when there's behind-the-scenes friction on a major Hollywood movie, it's the news that emerges afterwards which is the most interesting. A few days ago we learned Deadpool director Tim Miller had exited the sequel due to some creative differences with star Ryan Reynolds. The given reason was Miller's desire to cast Kyle Chandler as Cable, while Reynolds wanted someone else. That always seemed a bit flimsy, and according to The Wrap the reasons are deeper...and greener.

Apparently, Miller wanted to seriously jack up the budget for the sequel, into the neighborhood of $150M. That's roughly triple what the original movie cost, and it's not something Reynolds or screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick wanted to do. Can't hardly blame them; the first movie looked great and didn't need to spend a ton of money to do it.

That said, Miller has been wary of exorbitant budgets in the past so this doesn't really sound like him. Perhaps a bit of misdirection by 20th Century Fox to hide a bigger issue? Anyway, the search is on for a replacement, and there are already petitions out there for Quentin Tarantino to take over. Good luck with that one, although it would be pretty awesome.

‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Recap: S4E5:“Lockup”

This week of Agents of S.H.I.E.LD. continued the team up with the Agents and the vigilantes (Daisy and Ghost Rider).  Last week Daisy landed back with Coulson and then gang as they were investigating the anti-Inhuman group the Watchdogs.  Now there are bigger fish to fry, and Lucy and the other scientists-turned-ghosts are trying to find the Darkhold, the ancient “Book of Sins.”  The one person they need to find is Ghost Rider’s uncle Eli, who is currently locked up in prison for the brutal assault of one of the Momentum lab scientists.

The episode begins showing us our first look at the Darkhold book in a flashback as scientists Lucy and Joseph finding the mysterious book.  As soon as they open it, we learn a little bit about the mystic book.  The book is able to “read” each person who tries to read it.  Lucy’s native language is English, so she can read it in English.  Joseph’s native language was originally German, so the letters appear to him in German.  We find later on, that thanks to her transformation, Lucy can no longer see the pages of the book.  She needs to find Eli, so it’s off to the prison she goes.

Mack and Coulson try to interrogate Joseph, but since ghost Lucy touched him, he’s now infected with the same hallucination-inducing sickness that claimed May a few weeks ago and he quickly dies due to the shock of seeing the hallucination of black-eyed Coulson and Mack.  With nowhere to go, Mack and Coulson decide they need to have another go-round with Eli, who’s locked up in prison.  Coulson has been playing this investigation off the books, and decided not to tell Director Mace about Darkhold and they go to the prison with Daisy and Ghost Rider.

Meanwhile, Simmons has her scheduled lie detector test and it’s going to be hard to keep the secret of AIDA away from Director Mace.  Lucky for her, just as the lie detector machine is about to catch her in a big lie, Director Mace needs her help.  Turns out, he needs debate help for his debate with Nadeer on George Stephanopoulos’s show (with an interesting cameo by the news anchor).  As the interview commences, we learn a little bit about Director Mace.  He was at the UN in Vienna when it was bombed in Captain America: Civil War by Helmut Zemo and emerged as a hero helping the injured there.  As the debate with the Inhuman-hating senator takes a turn, Mace decided to drop the bomb that he is in fact, an Inhuman.  Surprisingly, this works in his favor as his poll numbers (and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s) go up as a result.  The director then thanks Simmons for her help, but she still has the lie detector test to go on with.  Simmons manages to out-politic him as she reveals the truth that she knows he’s not the hero he claims to be.  As a result, Mace relents and excuses her from the lie detector test.

At the prison, all hell is breaking loose.  The guards have become infected by Lucy and are attacking the agents as well.  We get to see the return of Coulson’s “Captain America” energy shield sprouting from his robot hand as he defends himself from the guards shooting bullets.  To make matters worse, Lucy has released the prisoners to slow them down.  We are treated to an impressive and well-choreographed fight scene between the Agents (specifically Daisy) and the inmates in the prison cafeteria.

Elsewhere, Mack and Ghost Rider are trying to find his uncle.  However, Robbie notices the ink of a gang from his hood, in fact, the gang is responsible for his younger brother being crippled from their drive by.  At first, Robbie blows it off at Mack’s insistence.  However, after they rescue his uncle, he wants to enact his vengeance.  As he talks with the gang leader it is revealed that the gang didn’t make the call to put the hit out on him, they just took up the order.  So who did, and did they signal Robbie out on purpose?  We don’t get to find that out because Robbie burns the gangster to a crisp.  In the commotion, Lucy finds Eli and escapes with him.  She needs him to translate the text from the Darkhold since she cannot ready it anymore.

The end is somewhat surprising as we see Senator Nadeer and Director Mace have a one-on-one in the aftermath of their debate.  Because they are both politicians, the meeting is not too surprising.  They don’t appear to be colluding, but they don’t not appear to be colluding either.  She then reveals to him that Coulson has been working with Ghost Rider and Daisy, two vigilantes and she will send it to the press.  The directors then ask her what does she want.

Overall, the episode didn’t have much forward storytelling.  It did give some great insights to Director Mac e as he may not be as squeaky clean as we thought he was when we first met him.  There is a cool Easter egg referencing the original Ghost Rider in the form of a poster for the Quentin Carnival, made famous in the comics by Johnny Blaze, the original Ghost Rider.  Also, Eli’s look of amazement at the Darkhold is intriguing.  Was he more involved with the scientists than we previously thought?

Next week will give us the true origin story for Robbie Reyes, and we will get to see how he became the Spirit of Vengeance.

Nick Hornby Adaptation 'Juliet, Naked' To Star Rose Byrne, Chris O'Dowd, And Ethan Hawke

Any time one of Nick Hornby's books is set to get adapted, it's probably a good idea to pay attention. The "High Fidelity" and "About a Boy" author, who also wrote the screenplays for Brooklyn, An Education, and Wild, is about to see one of his most recent novels "Juliet, Naked" brought to the big screen with an all-star cast attached.

Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke, and Chris O'Dowd are set to star in Juliet, Naked, which has Jesse Peretz (Our Idiot Brother) on board to direct. The script was initially adapted by  Tamara Jenkins (The Savages) and Jim Taylor (Sideways) with recent revisions by  Phil Alden Robinson and Evgenia Peretz . In what sounds similar to High Fidelity, the story centers on Annie (Byrne), the long-suffering girlfriend of Duncan (O'Dowd), a music-obsessed fan of  faded singer/songwriter Tucker Crowe (Hawke).

I've always had a soft spot for Hornby's books and the adaptations that follow, with High Fidelity and Fever Pitch being my favorites. This sounds like it could be up my alley, too, so I'm eager to see how this shapes up. [Deadline]

A New Hero Comes To Town In Fox's '24: Legacy' Trailer

The clock is ticking on America again. Who can we call to come to our rescue? Jack Bauer? Nah, his days of saving America from terrorists in just under 24 hours are over. The burden has now been passed to Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins), and the first trailer for Fox's 24: Legacy shows us the newcomer in action.

The franchise reboot also stars Jimmy Smits and Miranda Otto, but it's Straight Outta Compton's Hawkins who has the biggest shoes to fill. Carter is a former Army Ranger and the last of his unit to survive when a dead terrorist leader's followers take out the rest of his unit.  With no one else to turn to for help, he asks the revived  CTU to protect him and stop a large-scale terrorist threat in Washington, DC.

So...are we sure we're not getting any Jack Bauer at all? No Chloe O'Brien, either? According to Kiefer Sutherland the answer is "no", but I still think he'll show up somewhere.

24: Legacy kicks off with a two-night premiere on Feb. 5th right after Fox's Super Bowl coverage ends.

Ice Cube And 'Hamilton' Director Teaming For Disney's 'Oliver Twist'

Ice Cube's transformation from the guy who led N.W.A. and a group called the Lynch Mob into a warm and fuzzy family-friendly actor completed years ago, we know that. But it gets solidified even more today with news that he is teaming with Disney and Hamilton director Thomas Kail on a modern musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist".

Cube is really spearheading this project, taking on a producer role, co-writing the script with Jeff Kwatinetz, and starring in the role of Fagin, adult leader of a band of child pickpockets which includes the young orphan, Oliver Twist. And this being a musical it will cross multiple genres including hip-hop, much like Hamilton does. Kail most recently directed Fox's Grease Live!, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of the stars of that broadcast end up here, too.

Disney previously adapted Dickens' novel into the 1988 animated film, Oliver and Company, which was about stray alleycats. So I guess this falls into their stable of live-action remakes, although I doubt this one will feature four-legged felines. [THR]


Shawn Levy Named As Director Of Sony's 'Uncharted' Adaptation

We've been down this road before. Considering how many names have been attached to direct Sony's long-developing adaptation of bestselling video game, Uncharted, it's tough to get excited over news that Shawn Levy is the latest to join the list. But today Deadline is able to confirm it, and that he'll be working from Joe Carnahan's latest script. 

Initially it was David O. Russell who was in line to write and direct the adventures of fortune hunter Nathan Drake, with his buddy Mark Wahlberg in the lead role. They both dropped out and Neil Burger (Divergent) took over as director, only to have him leave and Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses) take over. He exited the project last year, and somewhere in-between you had Oscar-winner Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker) and others furiously working on rewrites. Carnahan came aboard and for a time seemed like the frontrunner to direct, but he chose to direct Bad Boys 3 aka Bad Boys for Life for the studio instead. Understandable. 

So we'll see if Levy is the guy to finally get Uncharted off the ground. He's coming off the success of Netflix's Stranger Things, for which he was a director and exec-producer. His last feature was 2014's Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, his third of the franchise.