“Why Cookie Rocket?” Looking Back at RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

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[With Dawn of the Planet of the Apes opening on Friday, July 11th, I'm taking a look back at the Planet of the Apes movie franchise. These reviews contain spoilers.]

The Planet of the Apes movies have always been interested with time.  The original movie opens with Taylor (Charlton Heston) explaining that his spaceship’s mission isn’t to explore the galaxy, but to use Einstein’s Law of Relativity to leave Earth and return in the distant future where it might not be such a shithole (Taylor was disappointed).  From there, Beneath carried the torch to extinction, Escape traveled back in time, Conquest took a twenty-year jump to begin the downfall of humans, and Battle has a prologue and epilogue that take place in 2670 AD.  So it’s fitting that the series’ reboot, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, would restart the clock to unload the baggage of the previous movies rather than throwing us back into the middle of the madhouse.  While it didn’t carry the heavy commentary of the original saga, Rise took a new path by putting a strong focus on family and bringing a level of spectacle far beyond what any Apes film had done before.

Sundance 2014: LOVE IS STRANGE Review

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“Write what you know,” is a common piece of writing advice.  I don’t know how much of Ira SachsLove Is Strange is autobiographical, but it feels true to life.  Boring, boring life.  Because the film feels true to life, it also feels like one of the most self-indulgent films I’ve ever seen.  Sachs is completely oblivious to what its audience would find remotely interesting or even emotionally relatable.  The director takes his central relationship, one featuring great chemistry between Alfred Molina and John Lithgow, and completely undermines it with a hypocritical narrative. Not content to ruin his picture’s strongest asset, Sachs also drags his movie down with worthless side-plots and then tries to give his picture the illusion of depth and emotion with cheap tricks and unearned sentiment.

First Trailer for Christopher Nolan’s INTERSTELLAR

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Warner Bros. has released the first trailer for director Christopher Nolan’s new film Interstellar.  The sci-fi pic stars Matthew McConaughey and revolves around a group of explorers who make use of a newly discovered wormhole “to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.”  Though this teaser trailer features very, very little footage from the still in-production film, it’s a surprisingly moving piece that draws on the human spirit’s drive to keep moving forward.  I’ll say no more and let you experience the teaser for yourself, but the prospect of seeing Nolan further explore these themes in the full film is definitely exciting.

Hit the jump to watch the teaser Interstellar trailer.  The film also stars Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Michael Caine, David Oyelowo, Wes Bentley, John Lithgow, Ellen Burstyn, Topher Grace, David Gyasi, Mackenzie Foy, Bill Irwin, Timothée Chalamet, and Matt DamonInterstellar opens November 7, 2014.


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Continuing our coverage in anticipation of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, we’ve got some more first look images and synopses for films that will be screening as part of the Premieres category.  Briefly:

  • Love Is Strange – Directed by Ira Sachs; starring John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, Marisa Tomei, Darren Burrows, Charlie Tahan, and Cheyenne Jacksons.
  • A Most Wanted Man – Directed by Anton Corbijn; starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, and Robin Wright.
  • Nick Offerman: American Ham – Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts; starring Nick Offerman.
  • The One I Love – Directed by Charlie McDowell; starring Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss, and Ted Danson.

Hit the jump to check out the images and synopses.  The 2014 Sundance Film Festival runs January 16 – 26th.

John Lithgow Talks Voicing the White Rabbit in ONCE UPON A TIME IN WONDERLAND, the Quick Recording Process, What to Expect Going Forward, and More

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On the ABC fantasy series Once Upon A Time in Wonderland, Alice (Sophie Lowe) tells an impossible tale of a strange new land that exists on the other side of a rabbit hole, with an invisible cat, a hookah-smoking caterpillar and playing cards that can talk.  She was ready to put it all behind her, especially the painful memory of the genie — the handsome and mysterious Cyrus (Peter Gadiot) — that she fell in love with and lost forever, until the Knave of Hearts (Michael Socha) and the White Rabbit (voiced by John Lithgow) suddenly show up to take her back to Wonderland.

During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor John Lithgow talked about how he immediately jumped at the chance to voice such a unique and unusual character, why he loves being a part of family entertainment, how he finds his inner White Rabbit, how he feels like he can take about 3% of the credit for the final product, that nothing on this show will turn out how you expect, and the process of being able to record from anywhere, at anytime.  Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.

Pixar Announces Voice Casts and Reveals Concept Art for THE GOOD DINOSAUR and INSIDE OUT; Voice Actors Include Bill Hader & Amy Poehler [UPDATED]

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Pixar has announced the voice casts for two of its upcoming films during the D23 convention today.  Director Bob Peterson’s The Good Dinosaur, which opens next summer, takes place on an Earth where the asteroid never killed the dinosaurs and the creatures now live happily alongside humans.  The lead character, a dinosaur named Arlo, will be voiced by Lucas Neff (Raising Hope), while Bill Hader, Neil Patrick Harris, and Judy Greer voice his siblings.  The dinosaur mother and father will be voiced by John Lithgow and Frances McDormandThe Good Dinosaur opens in theaters on May 30, 2014.

Pixar’s next film, Up director Peter Docter’s Inside Out, takes place within an 11-year-old girl’s mind as she is forced to move to San Francisco.  The fantastic voice cast—playing the girl’s emotions—includes Amy Poehler as the lead character, Joy, Bill Hader (there’s no such thing as too much Bill Hader) as Fear, Lewis Black as Anger, Mindy Kaling as Disgust, and The Office’s Phyllis Smith as Sadness.  Inside Out opens in theaters on June 19, 2015.  Look for Dave’s full recaps of the D23 Pixar panels later today. [Update: We've added new concept art images and the official synopsis for both films after the jump.]

John Lithgow Joins INTERSTELLAR; Jessica Chastain Eyes A MOST VIOLENT YEAR Opposite Javier Bardem

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The cast of Christopher Nolan’s upcoming sci-fi film Interstellar is rounding out ahead of the film’s imminent production start date.  The great John Lithgow is the latest actor to join the film’s cast, which is toplined by Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and Michael Caine.  Given that plot details are firmly under wraps, The Wrap’s report has no information on Lithgow’s role.  Nevertheless, the Emmy-winning actor makes a swell addition, along with yesterday’s news of Ellen Burstyn, Mackenzie Foy, and Timothee Chalamet joining the cast.  Interstellar opens on November 7, 2014.

Hit the jump for news concerning Jessica Chastain possibly starring opposite Javier Bardem.

THIS IS 40 Review

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It’s not all gold, Mr. Apatow.  The logic behind his films seems to be, “If it got big laughs at a test screening, we should probably keep it.”  Therefore, the editing isn’t decided on how best to tell the story, but how many jokes they can stuff into a borderline-ridiculous runtime.  If this is the case, then there must be an absolute certainty that the jokes are all terrific, and that it doesn’t detract from the characters or the plot.  You can have the “Know how I know you’re gay?” scene in The 40-Year-Old Virgin because it’s funny, it doesn’t slow the film down, and it doesn’t detract from overall narrative.  This Is 40, Judd Apatow‘s latest film, lacks any such cohesion.  As nothing more than a slice-of-life, it’s free to wander around aimlessly, sometimes running up against great jokes, and sometimes meandering through scenes that could be cut completely.  More frustrating, beneath the sporadic success of the humor, there’s a compelling story and strong performances, especially from Leslie Mann.  Unfortunately, This Is 40 works in reverse, trying to let a story flow out of humorous situations rather than vice-versa.

5 Clips from Judd Apatow’s THIS IS 40 Starring Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann

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Universal Pictures has released five clips from writer/director Judd Apatow’s new film This Is 40.  For those unaware, the pic is a “sort-of sequel” to Apatow’s 2008 film Knocked Up, and continues the story of the characters played by Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann five years later as they’re navigating new challenges to their careers, parents, marriage, and children.

Hit the jump to watch the clips.  The film also stars Albert BrooksJohn LithgowMaude ApatowIris Apatow, Megan FoxChris O’DowdCharlyne Yi, Jason Segel, and Melissa McCarthy.  This Is 40 opens on December 21st.

Over 20 New Images from Judd Apatow’s THIS IS 40 Featuring Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Chris O’Dowd, and Lena Dunham

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Universal Pictures has released a large batch of images from writer/director Judd Apatow’s upcoming comedy This Is 40.  For those unaware, the film is a “sort-of sequel” to Apatow’s 2008 film Knocked Up and picks up with the characters played by Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann five years later as they’re navigating new challenges to their careers, parents, marriage, and children.  I’m encouraged by what we’ve seen thus far, and if anyone can bring a brutally honest portrayal of a marriage to the screen with equal parts charm and heartbreak, it’s Rudd and Mann.  These new images provide a colorful look at Apatow’s impressive cast.

Hit the jump to check out the images.  The film also stars Albert Brooks, John Lithgow, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow, Megan Fox, Chris O’Dowd, Charlyne Yi, Jason Segel, and Melissa McCarthyThis Is 40 opens on December 21st.

New Red-Band Trailer for THIS IS 40 Starring Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann

by     Posted 1 year, 224 days ago


A new red-band trailer has been released for Judd Apatow‘s new comedy, This Is 40.  The Knocked-Up spin-off follows Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) as they try to navigate new challenges to their careers, parents, marriage, and children.  Since Apatow films about 26-days of ad-libbing, a third of the jokes in this trailer aren’t in the movie even though the film is over two-hours long.  That’s not to say that movie isn’t funny, but it’s odd to use jokes to sell the film and then decide those jokes weren’t good enough for the final cut.

Hit the jump to check out the trailer.  The film also stars Megan Fox, Albert Brooks, John Lithgow, Chris O’Dowd, Jason Segel, Maude Apatow, and Iris ApatowThis Is 40 opens December 21st.


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Earlier this year, I wrote about how The Five-Year Engagement over-indulged its actors’ improvisational comedy, which caused scenes to run on for far too long.  Director Jay Roach wisely dodges this problem by cutting his new film, The Campaign, down to a lean 85 minutes.  There’s clearly plenty of more material as stars Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis‘ strong chemistry and comic mastery play brilliantly off each other, especially when the humor gets particularly crass.  It’s a film that can deliver big laughs, and yet it features an odd concoction of broad comedy that grazes up against targeted political commentary.  The brew tastes a bit off as it highlights a missed opportunity to truly take advantage of the political arena.

6 Clips, 10 Minutes of Behind-the-Scenes Footage, and Over 25 New High Resolution Images from THE CAMPAIGN

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Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis will duke it out in the upcoming comedy The Campaign, and six clips, 10 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage, and over 25 new high-resolution images from the pic have been released.  Ferrell stars as an incumbent congressman who is surprisingly challenged by the green and inexperienced Galifianakis in a North Carolina race.  Jay Roach (Recount, Austin Powers) directs the pic, which takes the ridiculousness of American politics to another level.  Ferrell and Galifianakis appear to be having a blast, and I’m looking forward to seeing the two take on the world of politics with gusto.

Hit the jump to check out the cilps, featurettes, and images, and if you missed any of our set visit coverage click here.  The film also stars Jason Sudeikis, Dylan McDermott, Dan Aykroyd, Brian Cox, and John LithgowThe Campaign opens on August 10th.

20 Things to Know from THE CAMPAIGN Set Visit

by     Posted 1 year, 362 days ago


As we gear up towards one of the most heated elections in our country’s history, people are getting a little (OK, a lot) stressed out:  political pundits are viciously attacking one another—and Batman movies—in the press, candidates are slinging mud via increasingly-aggro campaign ads, and voters on both sides of the aisle seem poised to tear one another limb from limb.  Seems like we could all use a good laugh right about now, doesn’t it?  Good news is, Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, writer Chris Henchy and director Jay Roach’s The Campaign is here to provide that much-needed dose of anger-deflating political comedy.

I visited the set of the film a few months ago, and have returned with 20 things you need to know about The Campaign before it opens next month.  Wanna know more?  Meet me after the jump.

Recap of the ROBOCOP Hero Complex Screening With Peter Weller

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This weekend Hero Complex in association with The Los Angeles Times hosted the third annual Hero Complex Film Festival.  Highlights to which included a screening of Shaun of the Dead with Edgar Wright, Wall-E with director Andrew Stanton and A Clockwork Orange with star Malcolm McDowell.

I was on hand Saturday for the fest at a midday screening of Paul Verhoeven’s seminal satirical ultraviolent masterpiece RoboCop. Star Peter Weller appeared after the screening for a lengthy and animated Q&A wherein he discussed prepping for RoboCop, learning to appreciate the satirical bend of the film and his thoughts on a hypothetical remake, among many other topics of conversation.  For highlights from the Q&A, hit the jump.

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