TOP 5: OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL Set Visit, Duncan Jones Directing WORLD OF WARCRAFT, JACK THE GIANT SLAYER Set Visit, X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, Sundance 2013 Wrap-Up

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Prior to last Sunday, Zero Dark Thirty was my favorite pic of 2012 by a considerable margin. However, after my matinee viewing of Silver Linings Playbook, that margin has been replaced with a draw. Whereas Zero provided me with a tension that left me on the verge of breathless at moments, Playbook‘s spectacular performances and head-on portrayal of mental illness and our ability to help each other cope/prevail proved not only hugely entertaining but also quite cathartic.

My 2012 movie scorecard aside, this week’s Top 5 includes our set visit coverage of Oz the Great and Powerful, Duncan Jones being tapped to helm the World of Warcraft movie, more visit coverage from the set of Jack the Giant Slayer, a slew of news from X-Men: Days of Future Past, and a Sundance 2013 wrap-up. A brief recap and link to each of the above is promised after the jump.

Amanda Seyfried Talks LOVELACE, Her Lack of Hesitation in Taking the Role, Why LES MIS Felt Like Her “Winning Ticket,” and More at Sundance

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One of the many films to premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s Linda Lovelace pic Lovelace.  The film stars Amanda Seyfried as the titular porn star who rose to prominence following 1972’s Deep Throat (the first pornographic feature film to be a mainstream success).  Lovelace would eventually go on to claim that her husband (played by Peter Sarsgaard) physically and verbally abused her and coerced her into the pornography business.   The film also stars Juno Temple, Wes Bently, Sharon Stone, Hank Azaria, Adam Brody, and James Franco as Hugh Hefner.

The day after the premiere, I sat down with Amanda Seyfried for an exclusive interview.  We talked about how she got involved in the project, how the film shows both sides of the story, whether or not she was nervous to play Lovelace, her Sundance experience, the incredible supporting cast, the success of Les Miserables, future projects, and a lot more.  Hit the jump what she had to say.

Sundance 2013 Wrap-Up: Adam’s Thoughts on Attending the Festival for the First Time, Favorite Films, and More

by     Posted 1 year, 301 days ago

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This year, I was lucky enough to attend the Sundance Film Festival for the very first time.  There are countless fests throughout the year, but Sundance has always been regarded as one of the best since most of the films screen there without any pre-buzz or context whatsoever.  Audiences go in knowing next to nothing about the films they’re getting ready to watch, and 10 days later, buzz has materialized for previously unknown titles that just may become hits like Beasts of the Southern Wild, Little Miss Sunshine, or even Saw.  Sundance has served as the launching pad for a number of filmmakers including Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, David O. Russell, and Steven Soderbergh, and it’s a joy to see what kind of fresh talent is on the horizon.

After a little recuperation from my time in Park City, I’ve written up a few thoughts on my impressions of the festival as a first-timer and my favorite films.  Hit the jump to read on. 

Director Fredrik Bond and James Buckley Talk THE NECESSARY DEATH OF CHARLIE COUNTRYMAN, Filming in Budapest, and More at Sundance

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The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman is director Fredrik Bond’s first feature film.  Premiering at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, it stars Shia LaBeouf and Evan Rachel Wood as a couple who meet under strange circumstances and have an impossibly strong mutual attraction.  As LaBeouf’s character Charlie falls for the beautiful and grieving Gabi, he gets caught in the sights of her dangerous husband (Mads Mikkelsen) and his life comes into immediate and grave danger.  The film feels like a modern fairy tale story of love and pain colliding set in the gritty world of Bucharest, Romania. It also stars Til Schweiger, Rupert Grint, James Buckley, Vincent D’Onofrio and Melissa Leo.

Shortly after the premiere of the film, I was able to sit down with director Fredrik Bond to discuss the film.  We were then pleasantly surprised to be joined by star James Buckley (The Inbetweeners) for the remainder of our 30 minute interview.  They discussed filming in Budapest, the unique look of the film, the closeness of the cast and gave me hints at what’s coming up next.  Click after the jump to read the whole interview.

Director Lynn Shelton Talks TOUCHY FEELY, Crafting the Characters and Script, Why She Edited the Film Herself, LAGGIES, and More at Sundance

by     Posted 1 year, 303 days ago

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One of the many films that premiered in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival was director Lynn Shelton’s Touchy Feely.  The film centers on a massage therapist played by Rosemarie Dewitt who suddenly develops an aversion to touching skin, and her dentist brother (Josh Pais) who begins to get a reputation as a healer and is unprepared for his immediate success.  As the family members (including Ellen Page as Pais’ daughter) deal with their newfound afflictions and admirations, they also discover themselves.  The film also stars Scoot McNairy, Allison Janney and Ron Livingston.

Shortly after the film’s premiere at Sundance, I was able to get an exclusive phone interview with writer/director Lynn Shelton.  During the conversation, she told me all about her process of crafting the characters and the script, how Allison Janney’s role was almost played by Catherine Keener, why she felt compelled to edit the film herself and about her next project, Laggies which will star Rebecca Hall.  Click after the jump to read the whole interview.

Jason Isaacs and Directors Logan & Noah Miller Talk SWEETWATER, How Isaacs Influenced the Crafting of His Character, Chemistry with Ed Harris, and More

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In addition to the various small-scale dramas, comedies, and dramedies at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, directors Logan and Noah Miller unveiled their period western thriller Sweetwater for the audiences in Park City.  The film stars January Jones as a woman in the 19th century west who runs up against a flamboyant and dangerous preacher (Jason Isaacs) and a rambunctious sheriff (Ed Harris) when her world is thrown into chaos.

While in Park City for Sundance, I had the chance to sit down with Logan and Noah Miller and Isaacs to discuss the film.  They talked about how they became involved with the project, the massive amount of input Isaacs had into crafting his character, what kind of material influenced Isaacs’ work, his chemistry with Ed Harris onscreen, how the script developed throughout production, and more.  Hit the jump to read the full interview, and click here to read my interview with Jones regarding the film and her work on X-Men and Mad Men.

THE COLLISION: Episode 34 – The 2013 Sundance Film Festival (Special Guest: Kate Erbland)

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This week on The Collision, we talk about the 2013 Sundance Film Festival with Film School Rejects Associate Editor and MSN Movies critic and contributor Kate Erbland.  We give our overall appraisal of this year’s festival, our favorite and least favorite films, and how we think these movies will perform when they’re released into theaters.  As always, we close out the show with our recommendations.

Click here to listen to the new episode of The Collision, click here for the previous episode (“Gangster Movies and Gangster Squad), click here to add the podcast to your RSS, and click here to find us on iTunes. To keep up to date with The Collision, you can follow us on Twitter at @MattGoldberg, @AdamChitwood, and @DrClawMD (Dave Trumbore). Hit the jump to check out the trailers for this week’s recommendations.

Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij Talk THE EAST, Parallels to Newtown, Crafting a Tense Yet Thought Provoking Thriller, and More at Sundance 2013

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The 2013 Sundance Film Festival saw the debut of a number of filmmakers, but one of the most anticipated titles was the follow-up film from Sound of My Voice director/co-writer Zal Batmanglij and star/co-writer Brit Marling.  The two made waves with Sound of My Voice at Sundance 2011, and this year they premiered their ambitious new film, the thriller The East.  Marling stars as an undercover corporate operative who infiltrates a domestic terrorist organization but becomes conflicted when she starts falling for the charismatic leader (Alexander Skarsgard).  The impressive ensemble cast also includes Ellen Page, Patricia Clarkson, and Julia Ormond, and you can click here to watch the trailer and here is Matt’s review.

While in Park City, I got the chance to speak with Batmanglij and Marling for an extended interview.  They talked about wanting to craft an effective thriller that also posed some important questions, how the film’s events and ideas could have parallels to the Newtown massacre, the interesting reactions to the film’s subject matter, how their experience on Sound of My Voice influenced their approach to this larger-budgeted film, and more.  In addition, they also briefly touched upon fulfilling the Sound of My Voice trilogy and future projects.  Read on after the jump.

FRUITVALE Wins 2013 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award

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Ryan Coogler‘s Fruitvale made audiences at this year’s Sundance Film Festival weep with the true story of Oscar Grant, who was murdered by BART Station police in 2009.  At last night’s awards ceremony, Coogler’s debut feature was awarded with both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award, which made it the first film to win in both categories since 2009′s Precious.  The Weinstein Company picked up the movie for $2 million after a heated bidding war, and I would expect a release sometime later this year.  Click here for my review.

Other winners included This Is Martin Bonner for “Best of NEXT” (voters must have connected with a movie where nothing happens), best screenwriting for Lake Bell for In a World… (click here for my review), and Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley for their tremendous performances in The Spectacular Now.  Hit the jump for the full list of winners.

Kate Bosworth Talks BIG SUR, the Sundance Experience, Working within Kerouac’s Narrative, and More at Sundance 2013

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Adding to the growing list of Jack Kerouac depictions onscreen is writer/director Michael Polish’s adaptation of Big Sur.  The film, which chronicles the author’s struggle with alcoholism and depression in the years following the publication of On the Road, made its world premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.  It’s a very “Kerouac” adaptation, and star Jean-Luc Barr turns in an impressive performance as the troubled author.

I had the chance to speak with co-star Kate Bosworth during my time in Park City, and the actress talked about the daunting task of tackling such a beloved property, how she prepared for the role, conveying her character’s emotions within the context of Kerouac’s untraditional narrative, what it was like to find out that their film had made it into Sundance, and more.  Read on after the jump.

TOP 5: J.J. Abrams Directing STAR WARS: EPISODE VII, BULLET TO THE HEAD Set Visit, WARM BODIES, G.I. JOE: RETALIATION, Sundance 2013

by     Posted 1 year, 306 days ago

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Even though we’re nearly three months removed from Halloween, I want to use this week’s opening paragraph to throw some support behind director Michael Stephenson‘s touching documentary, The American Scream. I recently caught the film via Netflix where it’s available to “Watch Instantly” and I was impressed to say the least. Stephenson’s previous entry, the indelible Best Worst Movie, quickly became one of my all-time favorite docs for the unexpected emotional punch it packed in following the lives of those impacted by Troll 2. Scream delivered on a similar level with its themes of family, community, and the pursuit of one’s passion (in this case, home haunting). If you haven’t seen it already, I recommend either checking it out on Netflix or picking up a copy for yourself from the film’s website.

All recommendations aside, much to the surprise of no one, this week’s Top 5 is headlined by the announcement that J.J. Abrams will direct/produce Star Wars: Episode VII with accompaniment by our Bullet to the Head set visit, Warm Bodies video interviews with Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer and more, a G.I. Joe: Retaliation set visit preview and interviews with director Jon M. Chu and more, and all of our coverage out of Sundance 2013 to date. A brief recap and link to each is hidden in plain view after the jump.

Sundance 2013: jOBS Review

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For a movie about a man who championed innovation, Joshua Michael Stern‘s Steve Jobs biopic, jOBS, is awfully safe and conventional.  By the end of the movie, most viewers will know as much as they previously did about the tech innovator or possibly even less.  Stern and screenwriter Matt Whiteley‘s depiction of Jobs makes one of the most influential figures in American business seem like nothing more like a savvy salesman who bullied people into following his vision.  Ashton Kutcher‘s lead performance veers between convincing and distracting, and while Josh Gad impresses as Steve “Woz” Wozniak, jOBS is a bland biopic that never provides any insight into the man behind the Apple.

Sundance 2013: FRUITVALE Review

by     Posted 1 year, 306 days ago

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Here’s one of the most morbid thoughts you can ever put in your head: will I die today?  This thought isn’t to spur you to live each day like it’s your last.  It’s a simple observation.  Where has life led you to this point, where would you like your life to go, and how does one affect the other?  In his debut feature Fruitvale, writer-director Ryan Coogler goes into the last day in the life of Oscar Grant, who was infamously shot by BART police officers in Oakland, California on New Year’s Day, 2009.  Coogler’s solemn, no-frills direction lets us walk into Oscar’s life, and become absolutely devastated as it heads to its inevitable conclusion.  The film’s emotional impact is only lessened by Coogler’s bizarre decision to push a message that doesn’t coincide with his movie’s theme.

Jean-Marc Barr Talks BIG SUR, Kerouac’s Influence on His Life, How the Author’s Principles are Lost on Today’s Generation, NYMPHOMANIAC and More

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One of the many films premiering at that 2013 Sundance Film Festival this week is writer/director Michael Polish‘s Jack Kerouac adaptation Big Sur.  The film is a wild ride as we’re taken through the author’s struggle with alcoholism and depression in the years following the publication of On the Road.  Tackling the character of Kerouac would’ve been a daunting prospect for any actor, but Jean-Marc Barr brings an intimacy to Kerouac’s manic tendencies in the film that convey to the audience exactly what’s going on in his head.

I had the chance to speak with Barr earlier this week in Park City about his work in the film, and he talked about Kerouac’s influence on his life when he was younger, nailing down all the rhythmic Kerouac dialogue, how the principles behind the author’s beatnik movement are lost on the younger generations of today, and more.  Barr also talked quite a bit about working with Lars von Trier on the much anticipated Nymphomaniac, describing the film as an ambitious working tackling all facets of sex.  Read on after the jump, and click here if you missed by interview with Josh Lucas and Radha Mitchell about the film.

January Jones Talks SWEETWATER, Her Participation in X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, and Betty’s Evolution on MAD MEN at Sundance 2013

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Though the 2013 Sundance Film Festival certainly hasn’t been lacking in coming of age stories or tales of ennui over the past week, the fest also played host to a peculiar western called Sweetwater.  Directed by Logan and Noah Miller, the film stars January Jones as a woman in the 19th century west who runs up against a flamboyant and dangerous preacher (Jason Isaacs) and a rambunctious sheriff (Ed Harris) when her world is thrown into chaos.

I had the chance to speak with Jones in Park City earlier this week in anticipation of the film’s premiere, and she talked about keeping her character grounded opposite the colorful performances by Isaacs and Harris, the ambiguity of her character at the beginning of the film, and what influenced her performance.  In addition, Jones talked about her non-involvement in the sequel X-Men: Days of Future Past and the evolution of her character Betty on Mad Men over the past five seasons.  Read on after the jump.

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