Review: The Incredibles 2

Pixar's Long-Awaited Sequel Is Both Timely And Timeless

Review: Hearts Beat Loud

Starring Nick Offerman and Kiersey Clemons

Review: A Kid Like Jake

Starring Claire Danes, Jim Parsons, and Octavia Spencer

Review: Tag

Starring Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, and Ed Helms

Review: China Salesman

Starring Mike Tyson, Steven Seagal, and Dongxue Li

9/30/2015

Jennifer Lawrence Reveals Final 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2' Poster


There's nothing subtle about the fiery new poster for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. Jennifer Lawrence debuted the splashy image on her Facebook page, and it promises Katniss will burn the Capitol to the ground and look good doing it.  It's an appropriately striking poster for what is likely to be the last promo for the franchise which began back in 2012. Here's the big finale's official synopsis:

The blockbuster Hunger Games franchise has taken audiences by storm around the world, grossing more than $2.2 billion at the global box office. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 now brings the franchise to its powerful final chapter in which Katniss Everdeen [Jennifer Lawrence] realizes the stakes are no longer just for survival – they are for the future.

With the nation of Panem in a full scale war, Katniss confronts President Snow [Donald Sutherland] in the final showdown. Teamed with a group of her closest friends – including Gale [Liam Hemsworth], Finnick [Sam Claflin], and Peeta [Josh Hutcherson] – Katniss goes off on a mission with the unit from District 13 as they risk their lives to liberate the citizens of Panem, and stage an assassination attempt on President Snow who has become increasingly obsessed with destroying her. The mortal traps, enemies, and moral choices that await Katniss will challenge her more than any arena she faced in The Hunger Games.

Directed by Francis Lawrence, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 opens November 20th.

Expect More Crossover Between Marvel's Movies and TV Shows


Marvel and DC have very different approaches when it comes to their movie and television universes. While DC goes out of their way to keep them separate, unless they need to hype an upcoming movie or something, Marvel sees the big and small screen universes as pieces of a whole. They exist in the same world, and we've seen limited crossovers in Agents of SHIELD, Agent Carter, and Daredevil. What we haven't seen is the movies referencing events on the TV side but according to Kevin Feige that has to change at some point. He told an audience at a recent Q&A in Los Angeles...

“I think that’s inevitable at some point as we’re plotting the movies going forward. The schedules do not always match up to make that possible. They’re more nimble and faster and are able to produce things more quicker than we do. That’s one of the reasons you can feel the effects of The Winter Solider or Age of Ultron on the show. Going forward and certainly as they tend to do more shows and cast as such great actors as they have — particularly on the Daredevil show — that may occur… By the time we start doing a movie, they’d be midway through a season. By the time our movie comes out, they’d be done with the second and starting the third season. Finding the timing on that is not always easy.”

How cool would it be if Luke Cage had a chance to fight alongside the Avengers? Or for Agent Coulson to finally reveal his existence to his old superhero pals? With the synergy favored by Disney and Marvel it's bound to happen that we get a tighter connection between all of their characters.

Feige touched on a number of issues regarding Marvel's Phase Three. Most of it I found pretty pointless but if you're interested check out Slashfilm's report here.

Natalie Dormer Enters the Suicide Forest in Trailer for 'The Forest'


Japan's Aokigahara forest has a deep mythology surrounding it that has made it a popular cinematic venue. Known as the "Suicide Forest", the location was recently used as the setting for Gus Vant's drama, Sea of Trees, which stars Matthew McConaughey. But it's also a natural setting for horror, and last year Game of Thrones' Natalie Dormer signed on to star in The Forest, a supernatural thriller directed by Jason Zada. Today MTV has debuted the first trailer, and it looks like a film that could scare up a lot of attention during 2016's early months.

Dormer plays Sara, an American woman who goes to Japan in search of her twin sister, who went missing after being spotted in the Suicide Forest. Despite being warned to "stay on the path", Sara ventures into the forest where she is confronted by the angry and tortured souls of the dead

Using the Suicide Forest's story as a springboard is a brilliant idea. Let's just hope the film is scary enough to live up to the potential.  The Forest opens next year on January 8th. Dormer will be seen next in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 2, and then in another horror film, Patient Zero. 

Free Advance Screening of 'He Named Me Malala'


We're happy to offer our readers a chance to attend a very special screening of He Named Me Malala, the acclaimed documentary from Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) on the youngest Nobel Prize laureate ever, Malala Yousafzai. At the age of 15, Malala was targeted by the Taliban for her advocacy of girls' education, suffering a nearly fatal gunshot wound. She survived and continues to fight so that women the world over have the same rights to an education as their male counterparts.

The screening takes place on Monday, October 5th at 7:30pm at Landmark E Street. If you'd like to attend and see this incredible film, simply go to the Fox Searchlight site here and download one Admit-Two pass. Be sure to spread the word! Remember that having passes does not guarantee entry and you'll want to arrive at the theater early to ensure receiving a seat.

He Named Me Malala opens in DC on October 9th.

Russell Crowe to Star in Survival Drama 'In Sand and Blood'


After making his directorial debut with the modest post-war drama, The Water Diviner, Russell Crowe is ready for another desert epic. According to Variety he will star in the survival drama In Sand and Blood, an adaptation of Dean King’s nonfiction book Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival.

Penned by Ronan Bennett (Public Enemies) and directed by Saul Dibb (The Duchess), the story is based on the true story of an American sea captain and his crew who are tortured and enslaved by African natives after being shipwrecked off the coast of the Sahara in 1815.  The book was released in 1817 and was recognized by Abraham Lincoln as a text that inspired him most.

No word on when filming begins but Crowe has already begun his own research, tweeting this image a few days ago...

'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' gets an Official Rating


Was there anyone out there who thought that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice would somehow achieve an R-rating? Well then obviously you haven't been paying attention because that will never happen with a mainstream superhero movie, especially with Warner Bros. banking so much on the film's success. So Zack Snyder's film received the PG-13 rating from the MPAA that we all knew was coming.

The film has been rated PG-13 for "intense sequences of violence and action throughout, and some sensuality." Sensuality? Really? Oh yeah, that's right, Gal Gadot is there making for the sexiest Wonder Woman ever, and who knows? Maybe she seduces Batman right out of his utility belt.

The uber-sensual Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opens March 25th 2016.

Teaser for Drafthouse Films' Release of Twisted Cult Favorite 'Dangerous Men'


"A film 26 years in the making" is not an exaggeration. In 1979 John Rad, an Iranian-born filmmaker, moved to the U.S. to shoot his passion project, Dangerous Men, an uber-violent, psychotic and corny exploitation film. It took him 26 agonizing years but he got it done, and the film received a tiny release window in 2005, going on to gain cult status soon after. The little-seen crime thriller was recently shown to audiences at a surprise screening at Fantastic Fest, and now Drafthouse Films is releasing a teaser trailer ahead of its first real theatrical release.

Unfortunately, Rad passed away in 2007 and won't be around to see his achievement reach the audience he always hoped it would. He wrote, directed, produced, and edited the movie, which Drafthouse Films has restored with the help of Rad's family and others.

I've only heard about how twisted (and terrible) the film is but haven't actually seen it myself, but these comments from Drafthouse Films COO James Emmanuel Shapiro sum up why so many are excited.

“It took us almost three and a half years of continuous begging, pleading and debasement before John Rad’s family agreed to license us the film. It was well worth it! We are immensely proud that we’ve carved out our own niche of mind-shredding repertory releases and beyond thrilled to unleash what should very much be considered the Holy Grail of Holy F*cking Sh#t on audiences worldwide!” 

Dangerous Men will hit theaters on November 13th.

Review: Robert Zemeckis' 'The Walk' Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt


The amazing story of French high-wire artiste Philippe Petit is damn near impossible to screw up. It's simply that incredible, such a sterling example of the feats human beings are physically and mentally capable of. To say his story is perfectly made for the cinematic experience would be an understatement, and it made for a great documentary in James Marsh's Oscar-nominated Man on Wire just a few years ago. Robert Zemeckis is a director known as a standard-bearer in the field of visual effects but little else, and he very nearly screwed up Petit's triumphant feat with his 3D IMAX spectacle, The Walk. It's a film that struggles to find its balance for far too long, but when it does the results are transcendent.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt takes on the role and French accent of Petit, a brash, arrogant tightrope walker whose dream is probably a lot bigger than yours. In 1974 Petit accomplished the unimaginable feat of walking a high-wire across the World Trade Center Towers. That's 110 stories up, in the middle of bustling New York City at a time when the people weren't so fond of those two gigantic skyscrapers. But that's the end of the story, and the film actually begins much earlier with Petit as a street performer struggling to get by despite his overwhelming ability and confidence. An aggravating framing sequence has Petit, sitting atop the Statue of Liberty no less, narrating each step of his journey. It slows down what is already a burdensome origin in which he has a meet-cute with fellow entertainer Annie (Charlotte Le Bon), and gets tightrope-walking tips from Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley). Always looking for a new place to hang his wire, Petit discovers his incredible life's dream when he chances on a magazine article about the Twin Towers.

What made Man on Wire such an unforgettable documentary was that it maintained all of the hallmarks of a great heist movie. There were teams assembled with members of various professions and strengths, all collaborators in Petit's mad and very illegal scheme. That fear of getting caught and going to jail was a very real thing, but Zemeckis and co-writer Christopher Browne fail to capture that anxious energy. Instead the tone lacks any seriousness in the planning stages, and Petit's co-conspirators aren't given much to do. That's a shame when the group consists of talented actors like Le Bon, Kingsley, James Badge Dale, and Ben Schwartz. Levitt does a good job capturing Petit's spirited, mercurial temperament, although his French accent takes some getting used to.

The mood shifts noticeably once Petit arrives in the U.S., but the film doesn't actually begin to soar until he's up on the Tower roof.  The film evolves into something glorious, as if Zemeckis deliberately kept the earlier stuff a little flat so as to make the actual walk across the wire truly special. This is one case where it's absolutely essential to pay the extra money for 3D, as you'll be mesmerized by the dizzying, vertigo-inducing heights. With every step more dangerous than the last, every one of Petit's theatrical flourishes an act of pure daring, this is as terrifying and exhilarating as movies get. The greatest compliment that one can give Zemeckis is that his recreation of Petit's performance is as thrilling as what we saw in Man on Wire. For a while you totally forget this is a visual effects creation and that Levitt is actually quite safe. You can't help but tremble with every move, and have your breath taken away with every sweeping panoramic view of the city below.

What's lacking is Petit's motivation, or the motivation in others to support him on what must have looked like a fool's errand. There just doesn't appear to be much interest in the inspiration behind Petit's feat, just the feat itself. In that case The Walk is every bit like a showman who dares to dazzle the audience but won't bore them with the details.

Rating: 3 out of 5

9/29/2015

Live-Action 'Death Note' Film to Star Nat Wolff


Warner Bros. has had zero luck getting an adaptation of Akira off the ground, but lesser known has been their years-long effort to adapt another manga classic, Death Note. While names such as Shane Black and Gus Van Sant have been attached at different points, most recently it was Adam Wingard (You're Next) who took over the directing reins, and now the film has found its star.

According to Variety, Paper Towns star Nat Wolff is in final talks for the film, playing a high school student who discovers a supernatural notebook that lets him kill anyone whose name he writes in it. As he uses the book to kill dangerous criminals, he's joined by the spirit of death that created the notebook in the first place. He also becomes a target of the police and a genius detective named 'L'. Tsugumi Ohba and artist Takeshi Obata created the manga in 2003, spawning a popular anime and a series of Japanese live-action movies.

Wolff can currently be seen in the film Ashby alongside Mickey Rourke and Emma Roberts. Death Note begins filming next spring from a screenplay by Jeremy Slater, writer of the recent Fantastic Four reboot.

'Pacific Rim 2' is Back On; Guillermo Del Toro Updates On His Next Project


Only weeks ago Universal and Legendary Pictures pumped the breaks on Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim 2, putting the film on indefinite hold. The decision came amidst reports of some behind-the-scenes disagreements, and while fans were obviously upset it didn't deter Del Toro, who proceeded as if nothing had changed. And it seems he had good reason for confidence as Universal released a statement today saying the film is still on the schedule. 

“Legendary’s ‘Pacific Rim 2,’ originally scheduled for release on August 4, 2017, will be redated at a later time. The filmmakers, Legendary and Universal Pictures are committed to having ‘Pacific Rim 2,’ the sequel to 2013’s ‘Pacific Rim,’ which generated more $411 million at the global box office, be the vanguard, fully-immersive experience that the franchise deserves. To this end, the decision was made to delay the production and release of ‘Pacific Rim’ so that the creative team can continue in its efforts to exceed the amazing experience of the first film.”

So taking over the August 4th 2017 date will be Pitch Perfect 3, which had previously been set for a month earlier. The only details available on that one are that Kay Cannon will once again pen the script with Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson returning. 

While Del Toro is already busy helping Jon Spaihts and Travis Beacham hammer out a screenplay for Pacific Rim 2, it won't be the next film he directs. In a recent Variety piece, Del Toro revealed he would next film "a small, independently financed movie that he is keeping under tight wraps." A little over a year ago he talked about making a small black & white movie before jumping into another blockbuster kaiju flick, and that's probably what he's referring to. 

For now, fans can continue to get pumped for Del Toro's horror Crimson Peak which opens October 16th. 


Matthew Vaughn to Direct Espionage Thriller 'I Am Pilgrim'


It may still be a while before Matthew Vaughn is ready for a Kingsman: The Secret Service sequel, but that doesn't mean he's done with the world of spies.  Vaughn has signed on to produce and direct I Am Pilgrim, an adaptation of Terry Hayes' best-selling espionage novel.

Hayes will adapt the screenplay himself and the story centers on a retired intelligence agent known only as "Pilgrim" who is called in to crack one last case. Here's a synopsis for the book:

"A breakneck race against time…and an implacable enemy.

An anonymous young woman murdered in a run-down hotel, all identifying characteristics dissolved by acid.

A father publicly beheaded in the blistering heat of a Saudi Arabian public square.

A notorious Syrian biotech expert found eyeless in a Damascus junkyard.

Smoldering human remains on a remote mountainside in Afghanistan.

A flawless plot to commit an appalling crime against humanity.

One path links them all, and only one man can make the journey.

Pilgrim."

Sounds intense, and it'll be interesting to see if Vaughn tackles the genre in a straight-forward manner this time. Production gets underway next year. [Deadline]

New Trailer for 'Love', Gaspar Noe's 3D Romance


If there's been an emphasis on the hardcore sex action in Gaspar Noe's 3D film Love, it's because the director has put that out there himself. While there has been a somewhat split response to the film judging by the early reviews, the general feeling is that there is a lot more to the story than just people getting it on. The new trailer for it strips away some of the more outrageous stuff so the footage can be comfortably watched without fear of your workplace's content blocker getting activated.

Here's the synopsis: January the 1st, early morning. The telephone rings. Murphy wakes up next to his young wife and 2-year-old child. He listens to his voicemail: Electra's mother, sick with worry, wants to know whether he has heard from her daughter. Electra's been missing for a long time. She's afraid something really bad has happened to her. Over the course of a long rainy day, Murphy finds himself alone in his apartment, reminiscing about the greatest love affair of his life, his two years with Electra. A burning passion full of promises, games, excesses and mistakes...

Love opens in limited release on October 30th before expanding a week later.

Denis Villeneuve Wants to Direct a James Bond Movie; Damian Lewis Again Rumored to Replace Daniel Craig


While the James Bond movies have been around for decades, they've experienced ups and downs just like any other franchise. The Daniel Craig era has the legendary secret agent's adventures on a definite upswing, and now everybody wants to be a part of it. Spectre is right around the corner, and it's likely to be the final film for director Sam Mendes. But there have also been reports that Craig may be on his way out soon. Today brings fresh talk about who could about the future of Bond both in front of and behind the camera.

There isn't a more exciting director working right now than Denis Villeneuve. The Prisoners and Enemy director made his first real foray into action movies with the awesome drug war thriller, Sicario, and now he's looking to step it up to another level. While talking with Comingsoon about his preference for genre movies, Villeneuve revealed he'd love a crack at 007...

"It’s strange, because I understand that each genre has its own specific rules, but for me, they are all movies. I’m just attracted to try to do different things, and I was very excited to make a movie that required more action. I was raised with James Bond. I love James Bond movies. I would love to do a James Bond movie one day. Action is very cinematic. I’m not someone that loves dialogue – I am someone that loves movement. Action, if it’s well done, can be very poetic and meaningful."

Villeneuve could be perfect for taking the franchise in a different direction, or if they want to continue exploring the dark side of Bond's past. The problem is that he's already got a Blade Runner sequel to direct, so it could be some time before this happens. He's already completed shooting on the sci-fi romance, Story Of Our Lives, starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner.

What fans really want to know is who would step into the perfectly-tailored suit of 007 when and if Craig steps down. A few months ago a rumor surfaced that Homeland's Damian Lewis had a leg up on the competition, and now U.K. site Mirror says he's been given the "unofficial nod" that he'll be the guy. What the heck is an "unofficial nod"? Who knows? To be honest, this isn't the most reliable of sources so take this with the biggest granule of salt you can find. It's probably not true.

So nothing concrete on either of these scores, but keep them in mind. Spectre opens on November 6th.


Leonardo DiCaprio Goes Into the Wild in New Trailer for 'The Revenant'


Is there anyone out there who is not excited for The Revenant? How would that even be possible? First of all, there's a grizzled Leonardo DiCaprio battling the harsh elements, joined by a phenomenal cast that includes Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Lukas Haas, and Will Poulter. Next, it's directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, with the Birdman director re-teaming with famed cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and going au natural in their approach to lighting. Finally, there are the horror stories, with production overruns, busted budgets, scheduling delays, and on-set dangers everywhere. Yeah, The Revenant is looking to be something special, and the newly-released trailer only confirms it.

Here's the official synopsis:  Inspired by true events, THE REVENANT is an immersive and visceral cinematic experience capturing one man’s epic adventure of survival and the extraordinary power of the human spirit. In an expedition of the uncharted American wilderness, legendary explorer Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is brutally attacked by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team. In a quest to survive, Glass endures unimaginable grief as well as the betrayal of his confidant John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). Guided by sheer will and the love of his family, Glass must navigate a vicious winter in a relentless pursuit to live and find redemption. 

The Revenant opens Christmas Day. Check out the trailer below some new photos here.

Enter to Win Kevin Bacon Thriller 'Cop Car' On Blu-Ray!


Punch Drunk Critics is happy to offer our readers a chance to win a copy of the gritty thriller, Cop Car, starring Kevin Bacon and directed by Jon Watts, the guy who will be directing the next Spider-Man movie. SYNOPSIS: A pair of ten-year-olds find an abandoned cop car in a field. When they take it for a joyride, it seems like they could kill themselves at any moment. But things only get worse when the small town sheriff goes looking for his missing car. The kids find themselves in the center of a deadly game of cat and mouse they don't understand and the only way out is to go as fast as their cop car can take them.

To enter, simply complete the steps in the contest form below. Winners will be selected on Friday, October 2nd and contacted by email. Good luck!

Cop Car is available now on Blu-Ray and DVD.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

New Trailers for 'The X-Files' Have Mulder On Dangerous Ground


“In 2002, our investigation ceased, but my personal obsession did not. They police us and spy on us, tell us that makes us safer – we’ve never been in more danger.”

Could there be a more Mulder-esque start to the trailers for The X-Files' revival series? As there seems to be a different revival TV series emerging every week, each more unnecessary than the last, The X-Files is one that fans are genuinely excited for because there will always be new mysteries for Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) to solve.

Fox debuted the two-part trailer during last night's episodes of Gotham and Minority Report, teasing the aura of mistrust and suspicion that made the original series so popular. Chris Carter returns to write and direct three episodes of the six-episode run, with the first centering on a possible alien abductee.  Joel McHale, Robbie Amell, Mitch Pileggi,William B. Davis, Lauren Ambrose, Annabeth Gish, and more co-star.

The X-Files will have its big world premiere next month at the New York Comic-Con. The series returns to Fox on Sunday, January 24th after the NFC Championship game, and continues the next night, Monday January 25th, at its regular 8pm time slot.



Danny Boyle Plans to Shoot and Release 'Trainspotting' Sequel Next Year


Danny Boyle has been saying for a few years that he hoped to shoot a sequel to Trainspotting in 2016. Why that year specifically? Because it marks the 20th anniversary of the breakout drug comedy, which starred then rising stars Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner, and Kelly MacDonald. Earlier this month Boyle reiterated his hopes for that plan, but noted it would be tough with the cast's tight scheduling. But now it seems everything is starting to come together just like he wanted.

Boyle confirmed to THR that Trainspotting 2, which obviously won't be named Porno after the Irvine Welsh novelization, is confirmed for a May/June shoot. Even more, he intends to have the film ready for release in 2016. As for those concerns about scheduling, it's going to be a tight squeeze because of Carlyle and Miller's TV commitments (they star in Once Upon a Time and Elementary respectively) but the four principle actors are ready to return. Here's what Boyle told Comingsoon...

“We’ve got the four main actors all eager and willing to do it. I’m very happy because my only (concern) was that the script would be good for two of them and not so great for the other two, and they’d feel obliged to come back, but they’ve all got good stuff, and it’s a very interesting look at them again. Hopefully, we can get it finished in time to release it in 2016 which is the 20th Anniversary year, so yes, we’re on it, and it’s looking good.”

The film will be shot for a relatively cheap $20M, and gives Boyle the control to be as faithful to the characters as possible.

“The actors were understandably worried about its reputation and not wanting to let people down or to just be cashing in. So actually the script, which John [Hodge] has written, has been put under a very fierce spotlight by everyone, and it’s a good one.”

I've never been a huge Trainspotting fan but Boyle is a director I have a ton of respect for. My curiosity is piqued by seeing what he can do with these characters now that he's such a vastly improved filmmaker, not due to any nostalgia for the original film. What about you? Are you excited for a Trainspotting reunion?

9/28/2015

Review: 'Partisan' Starring Vincent Cassel


Don't be surprised if the first half hour of Ariel Kleiman's remarkably atmospheric and diabolical thriller, Partisan, leaves you off-balance. That seems to be the point conjuring up as many unanswered questions as possible, creating a mental fog that disrupts the senses. Who is the mysterious, charismatic man in the maternity ward who both seems to belong there and yet, strangely, does not seem to belong there? Why does he have such a control over the woman about to give birth?  Years later, why is he the only grown up man in a community of women? And where in the world is this isolated, rocky commune located? 

Partisan's greatest achievement is dropping the audience into a world of peculiar construct and providing little in the way of a lifeline. Kleiman, who co-wrote the screenplay with Sarah Cynglar, keeps information at an absolute minimum, which as it turns out is exactly how it should be. Commanding our attention from the very beginning is the great Vincent Cassel as Gregori, the leader of what can only be described as a cult. When we first meet him he's overseeing the birth of Suzanna's (Florence Mezzara) son, Alexander (Jeremy Chabriel, a solid match for Cassel), who grows into a strong, inquisitive 11-year-old boy. Unfortunately, being inquisitive isn't seen as a virtue in Gregori's realm, in which he's the only fully grown man surrounded by women who worship the ground he walks on. And yet there are dozens of children of various ages, all being trained in the art of assassination. Gregori sees to it personally, rewarding the kids for their murderous proficiency with treats and parties. But he has no patience for those who question him or his knowledge of the outside world.

While a fascinating sub-set to explore, the film is slow to introduce conflict, but when it does the tension burns hot. Alexander begins to change his outlook on life when a young boy trying to protect a chicken becomes the target of Gregori's wrath. As Alexander asks more questions, Gregori is forced to assert his authority in harsher ways, but Kleiman never depicts him as outright abusive or even as an evil figure. There's gentleness to Gregori that one can see as calming. He does seem to genuinely care about his charges, who he believes he is protecting from a cruel society on the outside. Even if his ideology is fractured and completely skewed, Gregori still comes across as somewhat sympathetic, a tremendous feat that can only be accomplished with an actor as skilled as Cassel.  There are moments of light-heartedness and normalcy, which only underscores how screwed up everything really is.

Shot in Eastern Europe's haunting, abandoned block structures in Georgia, one gets the impression these people are living in a kind of ghost town. How all of these people, who appear to have come from different regions, could have possibly come together under Gregori's command. Another mystery is whether the outside world is really as decayed as he wants his followers to believe, or if it's a carefully crafted lie. 

It's rare that a filmmaker has the level of confidence shown by Kleiman, who never feels the need to guide us through Partisan point by point. This is a tremendous first effort, and if it's a sign of things to come then we've all got something special to look forward to from him. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Leonardo DiCaprio Faces a Mountain of Skulls in New Images from 'The Revenant'


Compared to what he has reportedly gone through on survival drama The Revenant, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu must miss the relative ease of directing Birdman. The director's latest film went wildly over budget, been hit with scheduling delays (which caused Tom Hardy to drop out of Suicide Squad), endured weather troubles, lost a producer, and had employees complaining about unsafe working conditions. Fortunately, the film is now completed and based on everything we've seen so far all of the headaches were worth it.

A batch of lovely new images have been released for the wilderness film, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a fur trapper who is mauled by a bear and left for dead by his hunting team. He eventually recovers and sets off on a vengeful quest against those who abandoned him.

If you notice something different about the film's look it could be that Inarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki chose to shoot using only natural light.  That meant most of filming took place between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and "scrambling at the end of the day to film the last few hours of daylight" according to production designer Jack Fisk.

The Revenant opens Christmas Day.






Vin Diesel Updates On 'Furious 8' Director Search; Reveals When Series Will End


"One last ride", eh? Somebody's been sucking up too much carburetor exhaust, because Vin Diesel doesn't sound like he's ready for the Fast & Furious franchise to go on for a lot longer. But first there needs to be a Furious 8, and despite a release date in 2017 the film doesn't have a director. Multiple names were reportedly asked and turned it down, but the most interesting rumor has been that Diesel may want to direct it himself. Well, Diesel took to Facebook to address those rumors directly...

"My producing partner Neal [Moritz] would love for me to just sign off on a director, but this is too special a franchise, so these matters have to be very carefully handled...These matters have to be very carefully handled. To be clear, NO ONE has been offered to helm Fast 8 yet… let alone seen a script.”

That would debunk previous stories claiming James Wan, Justin Lin, and Jaume Collet-Serra were offered the job.

On the one hand it's great that Diesel cares so much about the direction of the franchise and whether it continues to appeal to fans. On the other hand it shows just how much control he has over every decision Universal may want to make. That power supposedly led to some conflicts during Furious 7.

Whatever happens on that front, the next film will be the beginning of a brand new trilogy...the FINAL trilogy, or so Diesel claims.

"Universal has been so good to me and so trusting of the vision… they have been like family… I promised the studio I would deliver one last Trilogy to end the saga. "

To be fair, this news is only somewhat new. When Lucas Black was brought back into the franchise it was part of a three-film deal, meaning his character would be sticking around through nine movies. So really this is only adding one more to the list, and can you imagine how epic a blowout a tenth and final Fast & Furious movie will be? They may literally jump a car to the moon or something.

Bradley Cooper's a Culinary Bad Boy In the New 'Burnt' Trailer


Given how gung-ho The Weinstein Company tends to be about promoting any awards season favorites, it probably says something that we've heard so little about Burnt. That silence is especially deafening when the cast is taken into account as multiple Oscar-nominee Bradley Cooper leads the culinary drama with Sienna Miller, Emma Thompson, Omar Sy, Daniel Bruhl, Uma Thurman, Alicia Vikander, and more (but not Jamie Dornan, whose scenes were cut) co-starring. So it may be that the film is geared more towards scoring a big box office rather than earning any awards.

Cooper stars as Adam Jones (the film's previous title, by the way), a culinary bad boy with two Michelin stars to his credit. But to get the elusive third star he's going to need to take his restaurant to another level and rounds up an all-star team who can make that happen.

The latest trailer makes the world of cooking look like an especially intense episode of Hell's Kitchen, which isn't a bad thing. It's a good way of making clear how different this film is from the rash of cooking movies we've seen lately.

Directed by John Wells, Burnt hits theaters on October 23rd.

Free Advance Screening of 'Freeheld' Starring Ellen Page and Julianne Moore


We're happy to offer our DC readers a chance to attend a free advance screening of Freeheld, the gay rights drama starring Ellen Page, Julianne Moore, Michael Shannon, and Steve Carell. The film is based on the remarkable true story of New Jersey police lieutenant, Laurel Hester, and her registered domestic partner, Stacie Andree, as both battle to secure Hester's pension benefits when she is diagnosed with terminal cancer.

The screening takes place on Tuesday, October 6th at 7:30pm at Landmark E Street. To enter, simply follow the steps in the below contest form. Winners will be selected on Saturday, October 3rd and contacted by email. Good luck!

Freeheld opens in DC on October 9th. 

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Batman and Superman May Get Equal Treatment in New 'Dawn of Justice' Trailers


The most recent rumors surrounding Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice have revolved around the screen time for DC's two biggest heroes.  Henry Cavill's presence has apparently been reduced, while Warner Bros. execs really want to see more of Ben Affleck's Batman, which makes sense considering he's getting a solo movie. While there may be some question who is the film's actual lead character, it appears a way has been found to give them equal treatment in the trailers.

A new rumor surfacing at Heroic Hollywood says two character-specific teasers are set to debut on Monday, October 26th. One would center on Superman and debut during the premiere of CBS' Supergirl series, which makes sense. A Batman teaser would run that same night during, what else, an episode of Gotham over on Fox. They would then be followed by a full trailer released in November ahead of Creed, Spectre, or The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2.

This is all just speculation for now and may not happen, so take it with a grain of salt. The networks would have to agree to it, and there's no real incentive for them to do that. There's also the risk of casual fans thinking the movies exist in the same universe as the TV shows, which they definitely don't.

We'll see what happens. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opens March 25th 2016.

9/27/2015

Box Office: 'Hotel Transylvania 2' Scores Monster Debut, 'The Intern' Works Up $18.2M


1. Hotel Transylvania 2 (review here)- $47.5M
Adam Sandler's live-action flicks may be the scorn of audiences everywhere but they'll still pay to hear his voice. Hotel Transylvania 2 broke September records with a $47.5M debut, surpassing the $42.5M set by Hotel Transylvania three years ago. In other words, audiences love these films and will probably continue to support them. It couldn't have come at a better time as there hasn't been a major studio animated movie since Minions. And for Sandler this is a strong comeback following the lousy response to Pixels just a couple of months ago.
2. The Intern (review here)- $18.2M
Proving there's still a place for Nancy Meyers' brand of glossy, light-hearted, somewhat antiquated comedies, The Intern got off to a respectable $18.2M debut. The film stars Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro, so no shortage of star power, in the story of a retired widower working as an intern for an online fashion company. The promos played to the film's strengths, namely the cast and breezy tone, the latter a change-of-pace for the serious drama season.
3. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials- $14M/$51.6M
So after two weeks, a 53% drop and a $51M domestic haul, it's clear Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials won't do quite as well stateside. However, the worldwide totals should surpass its predecessor means we should get the third film, The Death Cure.
4. Everest- $13M/$23.1M
After a blistering IMAX run last weekend, Everest went wide to over 3000 theaters, earning $13M in the process. The $55M film with a ton of A-list stars has banked nearly $100M worldwide and should continue to do well even when its IMAX run ends in a few days.
5. Black Mass- $11.5M/$42.6M
Johnny Depp may be getting a lot of awards attention for his performance in Black Mass, but the gangster film is only looking like a modest success at this point.
6. The Visit- $6.7M/$52.2M
7. The Perfect Guy- $4.7M/$48.8M
8. War Room- $4.2M/$55.9M
9. The Green Inferno- $3.5M
Fans of horror director Eli Roth have waited seven years for his latest film, cannibal thriller The Green Inferno, and they packed the 1504 theaters to the tune of $3.5M. That's not bad for the low-budget, very grisly R-rated film. Roth has a reliable audience and they'll probably follow him to Knock Knock when it opens soon.
10. Sicario (review here)- $1.7M/$2.3M
Expanding slightly over last week (it goes wide next week) is Denis Villeneuve's well-reviewed drug thriller, Sicario. This one is looking more and more like a late year powerhouse, led by stars Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, and Benicio Del Toro. After a start like this we may see it make some serious noise, not only at the box office but when the awards race begins.

It's a Not-So-Good Morning in New Trailer for 'Marvel's Jessica Jones'


All of Marvel's Netflix shows promise to be gritty and mature in different ways, and the trick is going to be keeping them all fresh. All of the ways Marvel's Jessica Jones will differ from Daredevil are brought to light here in a brief but dead-on new trailer.

Private detective Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is face down on the bed, looking like she's had a long, rough night. Empty liquor bottles are strewn about the messy bedroom floor among a pile of probably-filthy clothes. The beaming sun tells us that it's not 2:59AM, but deep into the afternoon, and when the alarm goes off Jessica ain't havin' it, putting her superhuman strength to good use.

Yeah, this is one screwed up chick with a ton of personal demons to contend with.

Jessica Jones hits Netflix on November 20th.

Domhnall Gleeson and Lenny Abrahamson Reteaming for 'The Little Stranger'


The last time Domhnall Gleeson and director Lenny Abrahamson teamed up it was for the offbeat and completely amazing musical comedy, Frank. Both have taken their careers to new levels since, with Gleeson showing up as a villain in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, plus a major role in potential Oscar contender, Brooklyn. Meanwhile, Abrahamson has been earning strong reviews on the festival circuit for Room. Now the duo are coming back together again for a project that has a ton of potential.

According to Baz Bamigboye, Abrahamson will direct an adaptation of Sarah Waters' best-selling novel, The Little Stranger, with Gleeson starring. Lucinda Coxon (The Danish Girl) will pen the ghost story's screenplay. Here's a synopsis from the book:

One postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country physician, is called to a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once impressive and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. Its owners—mother, son, and daughter—are struggling to keep pace with a changing society, as well as with conflicts of their own. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr. Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become intimately entwined with his.

Not sure this would be something to get excited about without Abrahamson and Gleeson, but with them this could be great. Production begins next summer.

Christina Hendricks Has a 'Fist Fight', Adrian Grenier Joins 'Marauders'


Following news that Tracy Morgan would be making his big screen return as part of the comedy, Fist Fight, now comes word he'll be joined by Mad Men's Christina Hendricks. The film stars Ice Cube and Charlie Day with the latter playing a meek school teacher challenged to a fight by a tougher colleague played by Cube. Hendricks plays a drama teacher and Cube's love interest. Richie Keen is directing with Jillian Bell and Dean Norris co-starring. [Variety]

The entourage Adrian Grenier is joining as part of the action thriller Marauders could totally kick the ass of his HBO crew. Bruce Willis, Dave Bautista, and Christopher Meloni star in the Steven C. Miller-directed film about an FBI agent investigating a bank robbery, only to discover a trail of secrets hidden away by the bank's owner. [Deadline]
Grenier is joining for the action thriller

Morten Tyldum to Direct Adaptation of Agatha Christie's 'And Then There Were None'


So while there haven't been a ton of Agatha Christie adaptations, her book And Then There Were None has been brought to the big and small screen in various ways more than a dozen times. Last year brought a VERY loose remake with the bullet-riddled and bloody Sabotage led by Arnold Schwarzenegger. But now a version that promises to be more traditional is on the way with The Imitation Game's Morten Tyldum set to direct.

According to Deadline, Tyldum will direct And Then There Were None based on a screenplay by Eric Eisserer, writer of The Thing remake. The story centers on ten guests invited to an isolated island by a mysterious host, who then proceeds to accuse each of them of murder. As their deepest, darkest secrets are revealed each guest begins to die until only one remains.

Apparently the version pitched to the Christie estate got them very excited for the project, so there may some twist we haven't previously seen. Next up for Tyldum is Passengers, the sci-fi romance starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. Think he'll try to lure one or both of them in for this, too? There are plenty of roles to go around, after all.

'Avengers: Age of Ultron' Deleted Scene Takes Thor to the Norn Cave


One problem with Marvel having so many individual franchises is that it puts pressure on Joss Whedon's Avengers movies to set them up. Such was the case with Avengers: Age of Ultron, which was essentially the launching pad for the next phase of films, and began setting up Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War. That occurred in an edited and mostly unnecessary scene with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Dr. Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) in the Norn Cave.

A deleted scene now puts that moment in greater context, drawing an obvious connection with Loki's scepter and the powerful Mind Stone.  “It was never his, it is of the six, the infinite six cannot be joined or kept apart.”  

This works better as a means of setting up future movies but it's easy to see why it was left out of Avengers: Age of Ultron, which you can pre-order on Blu-Ray/DVD now before release on October 2nd.

9/26/2015

'My Cousin Rachel' Remake Lands Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin


Daphne du Maurier's mystery novel My Cousin Rachel has already been adapted for the big screen in an Oscar nominated film led by Richard Burton and Olivia Mary de Havilland. But if you thought that would be enough and a remake wouldn't be in consideration, think again. Hyde Park on Hudson director Roger Michell will write and helm a modernized remake with Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin set to star.

The story remains essentially the same with Claflin playing Philip, a young orphan who believes his rich and beloved guardian Ambrose was murdered by his beautiful cousin, Rachel (Weisz), in order to claim his estate. As Philip plots revenge, his feelings are thrown into question when he falls in love with her. Was he wrong to suspect her as the killer? Or should he be concerned that she's targeting him next?

No word on when this will shoot but this is strong noir material with a superb cast being put together, so it's worth keeping a close watch on. [Variety]

John Goodman and Thomas Mann Join 'Kong: Skull Island'


Legendary's Kong: Skull Island has been slow to get moving and has already undergone a number of changes. First it lost two of the biggest stars when Michael Keaton and J.K. Simmons dropped out due to scheduling conflicts caused by delays. Then Legendary decided to distribute the film with Warner Bros. rather than Universal as a way of leading up to a crossover with Gareth Edwards' Godzilla at some point. So the cast has changed, the scope has changed, but things appear to be back on track with two more stars coming aboard.

John Goodman and Thomas Mann (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) are joining the expedition to Kong: Skull Island. Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Toby Kebbell, Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins, John C. Reilly, Samuel L. Jackson, and Tom Wilkinson star in the blockbuster film about a group of explorers venturing to the dangerous island of home of the "king of the apes". Goodman plays Randa, a government official leading an expedition to the island, with Mann as a member of the team.

Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, Kong: Skull Island opens March 10th 2017. [Deadline/Variety]