MR. TURNER Review

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[This is a re-post of my review from the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.  Mr. Turner opens today in limited release.]

Painter J.M.W. Turner, the eponymous subject of Mike Leigh’s new biopic Mr. Turner, was renowned for painting shipwrecks. A lazier film would condense Turner’s life around that simulacrum. Instead, Leigh chooses to look at the whole picture, and not just in showing a three-dimensional protagonist. Turner is part of a painting that includes a fascinating look at early-to-mid 19th century life in Europe. Leigh adds all the wonderful touches of the era’s dialect, vernacular, and linguistics along with a collection of other meticulous details to provide a vivid period piece. And it’s all built around an unforgettable performance from Timothy Spall who coughs, whistles, wheezes, and primarily grunts in his portrayal of an artist who personally and professionally defied easy categorization.

Sony Acquires Robert Rodriguez’s Frank Frazetta Adaptation FIRE AND ICE for Planned Franchise

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Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez first announced his intention to direct a film based on the art of Frank Frazetta over three years ago at Comic-Con.  The director said he would develop a fantasy tale called Fire and Ice (based on the 1983 animated film from Frazetta and Ralph Bakshi) that would revolve around a sword-wielding warrior who must save a princess kidnapped by evil sorcerers.  Shortly thereafter, Rodriguez announced his intent to helm Fire and Ice after Sin City 2, and with the latter sequel having hit theaters (barely) this past August, it appears that Rodriguez will indeed be moving on to Fire and Ice with the backing of Sony Pictures.  More after the jump.

Check out New Images from FURIOUS 7, INSIDE OUT, INSURGENT, CHAPPIE, PAN, THE WALK, and EVEREST

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As part of their 2015 preview issue, EW has released a new Furious 7 image along with new images from Inside Out, The Divergent Series: Insurgent, Chappie, Pan, The Walk, and Everest.  After a 2014 that I felt was fairly disappointing (I wanted to like Birdman and Inherent Vice so badly, and there were so many films that were pretty good, but short of greatness), but I’m hoping that 2015 will be better, and there are plenty of promising films.  Inside Out and Everest could be very interesting; Furious 7 looks like it can keep the momentum of Fast & Furious 7;The Walk has a captivating true story behind it, I can’t count out Chappie director Neill Blomkamp or Pan director Joe Wright.  And as for Insurgent…well…*crickets*

Hit the jump to check out the new Furious 7 image as well as the new stills from Inside Out, The Divergent Series: Insurgent, Chappie, Pan, The Walk, and Everest.  Also, click here to see the first image from Ted 2, and click here to see the first image from Sisters starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

9 Films Advance in Best Foreign Language Film Oscar Race, Including FORCE MAJEURE and IDA; MOMMY and TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT Miss the Cut

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The Academy today announced nine films that have advanced in the Best Foreign Language Oscar race, and there are a couple of notable exclusions.  Sweden’s hilarious/heartbreaking Force Majeure made the cut (read my review here), as did Poland’s highly praised Ida and Russia’s somewhat controversial (given its criticism of the Russian government) Leviathan, but the latest film from the Belgian filmmaking duo the Dardenne brothers, the Marion Cotillard-fronted Two Days, One Night was left off the list.  This is a surprise as the film received positive notice at Cannes earlier this year and Cotillard is somewhat of a dark horse in this year’s Best Actress race, but for whatever reason the Foreign Language branch opted not to advance the film.  Also left off the shortlist is French-Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan’s highly praised drama Mommy, which was also a critical favorite at various festivals throughout the year.

Check out the full Best Foreign Language Film Oscar shortlist after the jump.  Nominations for the 87th Academy Awards will be announced on January 15, 2015.

GET HARD Trailer: Will Ferrell Enlists Kevin Hart to Prepare Him for Prison

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Warner Bros. has released the first Get Hard trailer for the upcoming crime comedy.  Marking the directorial debut of Tropic Thunder and Men in Black 3 scribe Etan Cohen, the film stars Will Ferrell as a Bernie Madoff-type wealthy investment banker who enlists the man who washes his car (Kevin Hart) to help prepare him for a maximum security prison sentence.  The comedic pairing of Ferrell and Hart was already enough to make this worth seeing, but thankfully the movie also looks to be genuinely good.  There’s a twist on the premise as described that feels like a nice touch to keep it from feeling outdated (or offensive, really), and unsurprisingly there are more than a couple of really funny moments on display in this first look trailer.

Watch the first Get Hard trailer after the jump.  The film also stars Tip “T.I.” Harris, Alison Brie, and Craig T. NelsonGet Hard opens in theaters on March 27, 2015.

FBI Confirms North Korea Behind Cyber-Attack; Terrorists Demand THE INTERVIEW Not Be Released Online or on DVD

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It appears that today will be yet another circus with regards to The Interview and the cyber-terrorists behind its non-release.  Despite a new promo spot popping up online last night that proclaimed “In Franco and Rogen We Trust”, Sony removed all clips and the aforementioned video from the internet while also scrapping the film’s worldwide release.  Now a couple of new developments have arisen, chiefly: the FBI has officially named North Korea as the culprits behind the devastating cyber attack on Sony Pictures.  Moreover, a new message has arrived from the “anonymous” terrorists calling Sony “wise” not to release The Interview and demanding that the film not show up online or on DVD.  More after the jump.

First Image from SISTERS Starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler; Says They Are Going to Fucking Crush STAR WARS

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Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are an unstoppable duo.  They were great together on SNL, Baby Mama is a pretty enjoyable movie, and whenever they host the Golden Globes, they knock it out of the park.  Now the two are teaming up again for the new comedy Sisters (formerly “The Nest“), which has them playing “estranged siblings who reunite to clean out their childhood home before their parents sell the family house, during which they decide to throw one final blow-out party.”  And if you don’t have enough reason to admire Fey and Poehler, they’re not afraid to have their movie share the same weekend as Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  ”We said we’d only do the movie if it opened against Star Wars,” Poehler tells EW. ”We’re not scared. It’s what gets us up in the morning: We are going to f—ing crush Star Wars.”

Hit the jump to check out the Sisters image.  The film opens December 18, 2015, and also stars Ike Barinholtz (Neighbors).

Watch the Star-Studded Musical Finale for THE COLBERT REPORT

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After nine years on the air, The Colbert Report came to an end last night as host Stephen Colbert prepares to take over Late Night from David Letterman next May.  It was a fitting finale in that Colbert provided a funny and outlandish sendoff for his Colbert Report alter ego, complete with a musical finale featuring the most random assembly of celebrities ever.  Seriously, name three random people and they were probably on The Colbert Report last night singing “We’ll Meet Again.”  George Lucas?  Check.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?  Check.  Tom Brokaw?  Yep.  Even Big Bird showed up.  Comedy Central has now made the musical Colbert Report finale available online, so if you missed it or just want to watch again (which is totally acceptable), you can now do so.

Watch the Colbert Report finale video after the jump, which also features James Franco, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ariana Huffington, J.J. Abrams, Mike Huckabee, Alan Alda, Elijah Wood, Patrick Stewart, and of course Bryan Cranston.  Seriously, most random collection of people ever.

First TED 2 Image Has Mark Wahlberg and Ted Ready to Do Some Scuba Diving

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A Million Ways to Die in the West and the 2013 Oscar Ceremony taught us that people don’t want to see Seth MacFarlane; they just want to hear him.  Ted is one of the most successful R-rated comedies of all-time, and now we have the first Ted 2 image.  We still don’t know much what John (Mark Wahlberg) and Ted will be up to in the sequel other than part of the movie will take place at Comic-Con, Ted will need a civil rights lawyer (played by Morgan Freeman), and Amanda Seyfried has replaced Mila Kunis as the female lead.  Also, MacFarlane tells EW that there won’t be any new talking creatures in the sequel.  “It’s basically the way we treated Stewie in Family Guy,” says MacFarlane. ”He’s the only one of his kind who can talk.”

Hit the jump to check out the new Ted 2 image.  The film opens June 26, 2015, and also stars Jessica Barth and John Slattery.

Timothy Spall Talks MR. TURNER, Preparation for the Role, Painting Lessons, His Brush with Leukemia, and More

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Timothy Spall paints a fascinating portrait of J.M.W. Turner in the new biopic, Mr. Turner, written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Mike Leigh and beautifully lensed by cinematographer Dick Pope.  The actor fully immerses himself in the role of the eccentric but brilliant English painter, water colorist and printmaker who elevated the art form of landscape painting in the 18th century.  Mr. Turner premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival where Spall took the award for Best Actor and marks the seventh time in his career that he has collaborated with Leigh.  Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey, and Paul Jesson also star.

At a recent roundtable interview, Spall talked about the challenge of playing the artist, his preparation for the role, the directing process with Leigh, their organic approach to building up the characters through improvisation, his painting lessons with British portraitist Tim Wright that helped him portray Turner convincingly, how he captured the extraordinary physicality of the character and used his voice to convey Turner’s implosive nature as well as his explosive expression when it came to his art, how his close brush with leukemia altered his outlook on life, and his upcoming TV mini-series, The Enfield Haunting.  Check out our interview after the jump:

Sony Pictures Removes Latest THE INTERVIEW Promo along with All Clips; Cancels Worldwide Release

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Last night, Sony Pictures released a new The Interview spot proclaiming “In Franco and Rogen We Trust”.  Sony had previously yanked the movie from theaters following the major theater chains’ refusal to show the film after the cyber-terrorists who hacked Sony releasing a new statement threatening attacks on theaters that screened the picture.  The new promo provided hope that perhaps the studio was going to release the film on VOD, but it looks like their trust in Franco and Rogen has dissipated.

The studio has now taken down the promo from their YouTube page as well as any clips from the film, perhaps in the hopes that we’ll forget it ever existed because if there’s any way a studio can further appease a terrorist organization, they’re more than willing to do so (just ask Paramount, who refused permission to screen Team America: World Police for theaters that wanted something to replace The Interview).  Hit the jump for more on these unprecedented developments in this bizarre and depressing situation.

New EX MACHINA Featurette Explores the Themes of the Upcoming Sci-Fi Film Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, and Alicia Vikander

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A new Ex Machina featurette has gone online, and it has me even more excited for the movie.  Written and directed by Alex Garland (writer of 28 Days Later and Sunshine), the film stars Domhnall Gleeson as a computer programmer who wins a contest to meet with the CEO of a large search engine company (Oscar Isaac), but when he arrives, he discovers he’s part of an experiment to test the artificial intelligence of an android (Alicia Vikander).  It’s a terrific premise, and in this featurette, the cast and Garland explain the various themes they’re trying to explore with the movie.  I was hoping the picture would play at Sundance, but sadly, I’ll have to wait until April to see it.

Hit the jump to check out the Ex Machina featurette.  The film opens April 10th.

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Director J.J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy, Chewbacca, and More Say “Thank You” for Donations

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Back in May when Star Wars: The Force Awakens started filming, director J.J. Abrams announced the “Force for Change” campaign, which invited fans to donate to support UNICEF in exchange for prizes and even a chance to have a cameo in the movie.  The winner of the cameo was announced in August, but even if you didn’t win, you still helped raised over $5 million dollars to support UNICEF programs.  And for that, Abrams, producer Kathleen Kennedy, crew members, R2-D2, and Chewbacca say “Thank you.”  I suppose C-3P0 was off somewhere being an ungrateful jerk, whining about something or other.  Fucking Threepio.

Hit the jump to check out the Star Wars: The Force Awakens thank you video.  The film opens December 18, 2015, and stars John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Gwendoline Christie, Crystal Clarke, Pip Andersen, Domhnall Gleeson, Max von Sydow, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker.

THE MAZE RUNNER Digital HD Review

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Whether you’re a big fan of James Dashner’s book, dig Wes Ball’s film or perhaps haven’t even gotten that far and are just thinking that The Maze Runner might be a good movie for you, the digital HD copy of the film is a worthy purchase.  Maze Runner isn’t perfect by any means, but it’s got one key quality that makes it far superior to many movies at this stage of the release process – it’s very re-watchable.  The clever core concept is a nice draw, but it’s the wildly likable characters at the center of it that make it matter and also make you want more.  Read my full The Maze Runner digital HD review after the jump.

Director Matthew Vaughn Says “I Don’t Think I’ll Ever Shoot Film Again”

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The ongoing slide from film to digital has resulted in the vast majority of movies being shot on the latter, newer format.  While I still think there’s a noticeable aesthetic difference between the two mediums, the cost benefits of shooting on digital (along with the time-saving benefits since time really is money, especially on a film set) have definitely made a dent in the budgeting process for most projects.  Still, some directors have the clout to shoot on celluloid.  Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan come to mind and even Ti West was able to shoot In a Valley of Violence the old fashioned way.  With the amount of hits under his belt, one assumes that Kingsman: The Secret Service director Matthew Vaughn has some say in this matter when it comes to his projects, and he claims he’s made the switch to digital.  Permanently.

Steve recently learned this when he spoke with Vaughn to talk about Kingsman: The Secret Service.  We’ll have the whole interview up closer to that film’s release in the UK on January 29, 2015 and in the US on February 13, 2015, but I wanted to share this noteworthy bit first.  Check out the amazing red band trailer for the film and hit the jump for more on Vaughn’s relationship with digital filmmaking.

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