12 YEARS A SLAVE and NEBRASKA Top 2014 Independent Spirit Awards Nominations

by     Posted 278 days ago

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The 2014 Independent Spirit Awards nominations have been announced, and director Steve McQueen’s excellent drama 12 Years a Slave tops the nominees with seven nods, including Best Feature, Best Director, and Best Actor.  Nebraska is not far behind with six nominations, and the Robert Redford drama All Is Lost also did well with four nods.  The much-beloved Short Term 12 failed to land a Best Feature nomination, but Primer director Shane Carruth’s twisty second feature Upstream Color landed nods for Best Director and Best Editing.  The Best Actor category is a strong mirror of the very tight Oscar race in the same category, and the wonderful Shailene Woodley and Brie Larson nabbed Best Actress nominations for The Spectacular Now and Short Term 12, respectively.

Hit the jump for the full list of nominations and additional commentary.  The Independent Spirit Awards will be hosted on March 1, 2014.

MUD Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 1 year, 17 days ago

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Writer/director Jeff Nichols has been a burgeoning talent in the filmmaking world for a few years now following his one-two punch of Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter, but his latest release is proving to be his most successful yet.  Not only has Mud caught on with general audiences (to the tune of $26.8 million and counting), but the film provides a unique, enthralling, and almost mythic take on the coming-of-age genre that boasts a magnetic performance by Matthew McConaughey and truly stunning breakthrough work from the young Tye Sheridan.  The result is one of the best films of the year, and it’s now available on home video.  Hit the jump for my review of Mud on Blu-ray. 

Kirsten Dunst Joins Michael Shannon in Jeff Nichols’ MIDNIGHT SPECIAL

by     Posted 1 year, 19 days ago

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Mud and Take Shelter writer/director Jeff Nichols has found the female lead for his next film.  Deadline reports that Kirsten Dunst has signed on to star opposite Michael Shannon and Joel Edgerton in Nichols’ sci-fi pic Midnight Special.  The Warner Bros. film centers on a father and his 8-year-old son who must go on the run when the father realizes that his son “has some kind of special powers.”  Nichols has been talking about the pic for quite some time, previously comparing it to John Carpenter’s 1984 sci-fi film Starman.  Having directed one of the best-reviewed films of 2013 with Mud, Warner Bros. definitely seems to be high on backing Nichols’ next project, and I’m very eager to see what he cooks up within the sci-fi genre.

Dunst most recently starred in On the Road and the futuristic romance Upside Down, and she’ll next be seen opposite Viggo Mortensen and Oscar Isaac in the upcoming thriller The Two Faces of January.

Michael Shannon and Jeff Nichols Reunite for Untitled Sci-Fi Chase Movie (MIDNIGHT SPECIAL?)

by     Posted 1 year, 115 days ago

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Michael Shannon, the best good luck charm a director can have, belongs to Jeff Nichols—Shannon stars in all three of Nichols’ films: Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, and Mud (currently in theaters).  Recently, Shannon revealed he and Nichols “are heating up our fourth collaboration to happen in the winter.”  Per Variety, said project is a sci-fi chase movie set in the present day.  The Warner Bros. project is Nichols’ first studio film.

The studio is keeping details under wraps, but Nichols described two scripts he is writing in January.  Midnight Special, which Nichols likens to a “1980s John Carpenter movie” (specifically Starman), sounds like a good fit.  More after the jump.

Michael Shannon Talks MAN OF STEEL, His Next Film with Jeff Nichols, and Jake Paltrow’s YOUNG ONES; Confirms His Zod Costume Is CG

by     Posted 1 year, 131 days ago

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As the marketing campaign for Warner Bros.’ Man of Steel has heated up in recent weeks by way of new images and a truly remarkable new trailer, the veil has been lifted with regards to the film’s villain.  Michael Shannon seems an inspired choice to play General Zod in director Zack Snyder’s fresh take on the comics character, and we got a few tantalizing glimpses of the actor in action in the most recent trailer.

Steve recently spoke with Shannon in anticipation of the crime drama The Iceman, and the actor also talked a bit about his work in Man of Steel, confirming that Zod’s armor is entirely CG.  Additionally, Shannon discussed Jake Paltrow’s upcoming film Young Ones and his next collaboration with director Jeff Nichols, which they hope to start filming later this year.  Hit the jump to read on.

Director Jeff Nichols Compares His Next Film MIDNIGHT SPECIAL to John Carpenter’s STARMAN

by     Posted 1 year, 221 days ago

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Director Jeff Nichols (Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, Mud) has explored dynamic family relationships and blue collars with a Southern backdrop in each of his films, but might be leaning towards genre territory for one of his next projects.  In a recent interview for MudNichols talked about his upcoming projects: the genre-slanted Midnight Special and an untitled work-in-progress that hits closer to his previous works.

Starring Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland, Nichols’ Mud opens April 26th.  Hit the jump to see what the director had to say about his next projects.

Sundance 2013: MUD Review

by     Posted 1 year, 224 days ago

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Jeff NicholsMud almost has it all.  It’s a sweet coming-of-age story, an adventure, a crime-thriller, and a romance.  Lead actors Tye Sheridan and Matthew McConaughey give outstanding performances as a boy and a man, respectively, who bristle when the world won’t conform to the mythic journey they’ve envisioned.  Nichols gives the movie a sweet, soft, and loving tone that takes the best of identity of the Deep South (i.e. avoids racism), and uses it as a rich backdrop for a captivating tale.  The film’s only flaw comes from implicitly agreeing with the main characters’ immature belief that women are not to be trusted.  To the film’s minor detriment, Nichols doesn’t examine how his characters can grow up when the script embraces such a facile and childish notion.

First Trailer for MUD Starring Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon

by     Posted 1 year, 227 days ago

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We saw the first two clips from writer/director Jeff Nichols’ Mud back in May of last year, but now the first trailer has been made available.  Starring Matthew McConaughey (Magic Mike) as a fugitive drifter who finds safe harbor on an island in the Mississippi River, but is discovered and befriended by two teenage boys (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland).  The trailer gives a great sense of the tension that builds over the course of the picture and hints at the dangerous situation the boys unwittingly become involved in.  Also starring Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shepherd, Michael Shannon and Sarah Paulson, Mud opens in limited release on April 26th.  Hit the jump to watch the trailer.

Matt Reeves Heads Short List of Directors for DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES; Others Include J Blakeson, Guillermo del Toro and Jeff Nichols

by     Posted 1 year, 339 days ago

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After reporting that director Rupert Wyatt was exiting Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, 20th Century Fox is now looking for a replacement.  As of this writing, it looks like Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In) is leading the pack.  Rounding out the short list of directors is J Blakeson (The Disappearance of Alice Creed), Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later) and Jeff Nichols (Mud).  Longer shots being reported are Pacific Rim director Guillermo del Toro (doubtful), Juan Antonio Bayona (The Impossible) and Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart).  Hit the jump to get this sorted out.

Chernin Entertainment Acquires Rights to THE BOY WHO PLAYED WITH FUSION About 14-Year-Old Nuclear Scientist Taylor Wilson

by     Posted 2 years, 31 days ago

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While superhero films like Spider-Man 2 and The Dark Knight Rises may toy with fictional nuclear fusion reactors in their plots, at 14-years-old, Taylor Wilson had already made a functional one.  Now Chernin Entertainment has acquired the rights to his story, catalyzed by an article in Popular Science titled The Boy Who Played with Fusion.  The company is negotiating with Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter) to direct.

While the tale of Wilson’s genius is compelling enough, the article parallels another young scientist whose path diverged wildly (Hazmat units and arrests compared to Wilson’s accolades and continuing success), stressing the need for mentors who will foster the gifts of these young minds.  Hit the jump for more on The Boy Who Played with Fusion.

Matthew McConaughey Clip Round-Up: THE PAPERBOY with John Cusack and Jeff Nichols’ MUD

by     Posted 2 years, 112 days ago

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The prestigious Cannes Film Festival kicks off next week, and we’re starting to see some promotional materials from a few of the films that will premiere at the fest.  We’ve already seen a stellar trailer for the prohibition-set crime drama Lawless and a fantastic clip from director Andrew Dominik’s (The Assassination of Jesse James) Killing Them Softly.  Now a few clips have surfaced for two Cannes films (both set in the South) that feature Matthew McConaughey.  The first is director Lee Daniels’ (Precious) adaptation of The Paperboy, which features McConaughey and Zac Efron playing a pair of brothers who team-up to investigate the potential wrongful conviction of a death-row inmate (John Cusack).

We also have two clips from director Jeff Nichols’ (Take Shelter) deep South drama Mud, which finds McConaughey playing a fugitive hiding out on an island in Mississippi who, with the help of two young boys, tries to escape and reunite with his lost love (Reese Witherspoon).  Hit the jump to check out the clips.

Producers Aaron Ryder and Marc Evans Talk THE RAVEN, CRUSH, THE STRANGERS 2, MUD, and More

by     Posted 2 years, 124 days ago

Producers Aaron Ryder and Marc Evans THE RAVEN Interview

Now playing at theaters everywhere is director James McTeigue‘s (V for Vendetta, Ninja Assassin) The Raven.  If you’re not familiar with the film, the story takes place in 1840s Baltimore where a series of grisly murders appear to have been inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe (played by John Cusack).  Poe and a detective (Luke Evans) must team up to find the killer before he takes out the woman Poe loves (Alice Eve).  The film also stars Oliver Jackson-Cohen, and Brendan Gleeson.   For more on the film, here’s the trailer and 40 images.

Recently, I got to sit down with producers Aaron Ryder and Marc Evans for an extended interview.  We talked about how they got involved in The Raven, the rating, deleted scenes, how the script changed when the actors got cast, Poe’s dark and extraordinary life, and more.  In addition, they also talked about their upcoming projects like House at the End of the Street with Jennifer Lawrence, Jeff NicholsMud, The Cold Light of Day and The Strangers 2.  Hit the jump for what they had to say.

Line-Up for 2012 Cannes Film Festival Announced; Includes COSMOPOLIS, KILLING THEM SOFTLY, LAWLESS, and THE PAPERBOY

by     Posted 2 years, 133 days ago

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The full line-up for the 2012 Cannes Film Festival has been announced, and there are some heavy hitting debuts making their premieres.  As we’ve previously reported, Wes Anderson‘s Moonrise Kingdom will open the festival.  This year’s Cannes will also include Cosmopolis (directed by David Cronenberg), The Paperboy (from Precious director Lee Daniels), Lawless (from The Road director John Hillcoat), Killing Them Softly (from The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford director Andrew Dominik), Mud (from Take Shelter director Jeff Nichols), Rust & Bone (from A Prophet director Jacques Audiard) and On the Road (from The Motorcycle Diaries director Walter Salles).

Click on the corresponding link for more on each film, and hit the jump for the full line-up.  The 65th Cannes Film Festival runs from May 16 – 25th.

TAKE SHELTER Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 2 years, 190 days ago

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Take Shelter marks the second collaboration between Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire) and his Shotgun Stories writer/director Jeff Nichols, and it only serves to verify that the promise this pairing demonstrated with their first outing was no fluke. Also like Shotgun Stories, I would be doing it a disservice to attempt to sell you on it in this intro with a single, sensational genre tag. Is it a disaster film? Eh. Psychological character study and suburban family drama? Mostly. Existential meditation? If it suits you. Checks across the board, yet it’s the way in which those distinct elements mesh that leaves Take Shelter without a clear home and all the better for it. In a way this Blu-ray’s arrival commemorates the anniversary of Take Shelter’s critically-lauded Sundance premiere and, given that most of you had no choice but to miss its limited theatrical run in L.A. and New York, this phenomenal disc makes for a handsome introduction. Take Shelter also stars Jessica Chastain (2011 movie) and Shannon’s Boardwalk co-star Shea Whigham. Hit the jump for my review.

Independent Spirit Awards Nominations Announced; DRIVE, 50/50, and THE ARTIST Up for Top Prize

by     Posted 2 years, 275 days ago

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The nominations for the 27th Annual Independent Spirit Awards were announced this morning with The Artist and Take Shelter each nabbing five nominations. In addition to The Artist and Take Shelter, Drive, 50/50, The Descendants, and Beginners will duke it out for the top prize. Absent from the Best Feature list is Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, though the film was recognized in Best Supporting Male (Corey Stoll) and Best Cinematography. Also of note, Elizabeth Olsen and John Hawkes landed nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Male for Martha Marcy May Marlene, and Ryan Gosling and Woody Harrelson were both singled out in Best Actor for Drive and Rampart respectively.

Hit the jump to check out the full list of nominations. Recognizing the best in independent film, the awards will be handed out on February 25th, the day before the Oscars.

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