We’ve got a couple of casting announcements to attend to this evening. First up, The Wrap reports that Forest Whitaker is in talks to star opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in director Antoine Fuqua’s (Training Day) boxing drama Southpaw. The story revolves around a left-handed boxer who wins a title but suffers various tragedies in his personal life, all while trying to win back the love of his daughter. Gyllenhaal plays the titular fighter, while Whitaker will fill the other lead as a former fighter who now works as a trainer. The script was penned by Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter and at one point had Eminem attached to star. Production begins this summer.
Hit the jump for casting news concerning the Jennifer Aniston indie Cake.
Oscar Isaac (Sucker Punch) has signed on to play the male lead in Still I Rise. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis star as “two frustrated mothers who team up to transform an inner-city public school.” Variety says Isaac will play a “sexy, ukulele-playing teacher” (is there any other kind of ukulele-playing teacher?) who romances and inspires Gyllenhaal’s character. Director Daniel Barnz (Beastly) is now polishing a rewrite of the original Brin Hill screenplay. Production on the Walden Media/Fox collaboration begins next week in Pittsburgh.
Isaac will next be seen among the impressive likes of Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, and Bryan Cranston in Drive when the movie opens September 16. Later in the year, Isaac will appear as one of the high school reunionites in the ensemble drama Ten Year; the role features a performance of a song Isaac wrote exclusively for the film. (Prior to his acting career, Isaac was the lead singer and guitarist for The Blinking Underdogs.) Finally, Isaac has a role in W.E., the romantic drama co-written and directed by Madonna.
Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis will star in the topical drama Still I Rise. Directed by Daniel Barnz (Beastly), the actresses will play a pair of mothers who join forces to reform an inner-city public school. According to Deadline, “the film takes aim at the crisis of public education in America.” So is it going to attack the evils of standardized testing? That there aren’t enough teachers and class sizes are swelling to where no student can get the attention they deserve? Or will it be an attack on the abysmal pay for teachers? I’m guessing “None of the Above”. I’m betting that it will be an attempt to root out the “bad” teachers and a nice update to the school’s facilities.
Gyllenhaal and Davis are both great actresses and I hope they’ve signed onto a project that examines the complexity of our education problem rather than trying to uphold some quick, ineffective fixes. And if not, perhaps they can do a film where the military’s budget accidentally goes to education.
Beastly nearly succeeds at hiding all of its woes behind its comedic exterior. Unfortunately, the film has a devastatingly pretentious beginning and an unwieldy message. This modern day reimagining of the classic Beauty and the Beast tale goes after the teen heart with particular verve. While the film will obviously squander the good looks of star Alex Pettyfer, it makes an effort to show him doing shirtless pull-ups in the opening scene. All of this is laughably wrong, and yet the comedic bits that Beastly provides almost wipes the bad taste from your mouth by the third act. Instead of laughing at it, you begin laughing with it. However, all of its levity can only go so far to save this mixed message fairy tale about how far love can go. Hit the jump for my full review.
CBS Films has released a new trailer for their upcoming film, Beastly. The film – directed by Daniel Barnz (Phoebe in Wonderland) – is a modern reimagining of Beauty and the Beast, which places the classic tale in a high school setting. Alex Pettyfer (I Am Number 4) stars as a popular handsome high school student that finds himself turned into a beast, who then has one year to find someone who can love him so that he can reverse the curse. The film also stars Vanessa Hudgens, Neil Patrick Harris, and Mary-Kate Olsen. Beastly is set to open on March 18. You can hit the jump to watch the trailer and check out 21 images: