Every so often a film comes along that plays pitch perfect to your sensibilities and hits you with such pinpoint accuracy that it reaffirms your love of the medium. That’s what Spike Jonze‘s Her did for me last weekend. It’s the type of movie I wish I had the talent to make and, at the same time, one that I’m thankful anyone had the talent and passion to make. It’s a film that says so much about our desire to connect, to love and to feel loved, that evaluating it piece by piece (acting, editing, sound, cinematography, mise-en-scène, etc.) almost cheapens its value as a whole. Above all, though, it refuses to be just one thing and therein lies its greatest achievement. It’s comedy soaked in melancholy, drama with hints of playfulness, quirk wrapped in genuine romance, and heartbreaking sincerity set within the most plastic of relationships. Her is an instant classic.
In case my subtlety has left you uncertain about my feelings on Her, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com and I’ll try to be more on the nose about how damn great it is. In the meantime, this week’s Top 5 features the newly announced 2014 Oscar nominations, Marvel casting news/rumors regarding Ant-Man and Doctor Strange, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit interviews with Chris Pine and more, the trailer for the seemingly interesting doc DOOMED! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s “The Fantastic Four”, and all of our Sundance 2014 coverage to date. Click on to find a brief recap and link to each of the above.
The official trailer for Diego Luna’s Cesar Chavez is now online. Even for those who don’t know the story of the Civil Rights activist and labor organizer, this trailer does a wonderful job at setting up the events of the biopic. Starring Michael Peña (End of Watch) in the title role, Cesar Chavez takes a look at the man’s life from laborer to leader, and the non-violent demonstrations he championed.
Also starring America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson, and John Malkovich, Cesar Chavez opens in theaters March 28th. Hit the jump to watch the trailer.
The Marvel news is definitely flowing now that everyone is back from their holiday break. Fans have been waiting years to see writer/director Edgar Wright’s take on the Marvel superhero Ant-Man, and production is finally set to begin this coming April. We learned yesterday that Michael Douglas will be playing Hank Pym opposite Paul Rudd’s lead role as Scott Lang, and now another actor looks close to joining the cast as The Wrap reports that Michael Peña has an offer to take on a role in the Marvel pic. Hit the jump for more, including news regarding the female lead.
On Chozen, FX’s new animated series, the title character’s sister describes him as, “a boy, trapped inside a man, trapped inside a wifebeater.” “You forgot violent and sensitive!” he sputters back. Chozen is indeed all of these things, and more: a gay white rapper who has just emerged from prison, he has a new outlook and a huge chip on his shoulder that are fueling his desire to become the most famous rapper in the world. But an old foe stands in his way.
Chozen is the brainchild of several Eastbound and Down writers and producers, and is animated by Floyd County Productions, which also handles Archer. The connections are obvious, not only visually, but in the show’s overall style. Chozen (Bobby Moynihan) channels Kenny Powers’ self-absorption, love of excessive innuendo (or no innuendo at all), speaking style, and single-mindedness when it comes to fame. Hit the jump for more.
Production continues in London on director David Ayer’s WWII tank film Fury, and the filmmaker has been sharing an image from the set for each day of filming. The story takes place in 1945 as the Nazi regime is in collapse and revolves around the five-man crew of an American tank called “Fury” that battles a desperate German army. Ayer’s original screenplay sparked a bidding war among studios earlier this year, and Jon Bernthal recently described the film as “one of the darkest war movies ever made.” Brad Pitt leads a cast that includes Bernthal, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Pena, and Logan Lerman, and all can be glimpsed in this new collection of set images, which also includes looks at how Ayer is filming the tank battle sequences.
Hit the jump to check out the images. Fury opens November 14, 2014.
Sony Pictures has released a new trailer for director David O. Russell‘s new film American Hustle. The story is based on the Abscam sting operation that uncovered widespread political corruption in the late 1970s. This theatrical trailer doesn’t get too deep into the film’s plot, but we do get a nice feel for the film’s tone. There’s a very strong Goodfellas vibe here, and it’s nice to see Russell getting back to his more offbeat roots after the slightly more conventional Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter. Obviously the cast is fantastic (Bale has a great moment at the beginning of this trailer), and I look forward to seeing how the ensemble comes together in the finished film.
Hit the jump to check out the trailer and click here to watch the first trailer. The film stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, Jeremy Renner, Louis C.K., Michael Pena, Amy Adams, and Jack Jones. American Hustle opens in limited release on December 13th before going wide on December 25th.
Writer/director David Ayer has been tweeting pictures from the set of his World War II tank movie, Fury. Mostly behind-the-scenes stuff, but tonight’s offering is our first official look at the cast in costume. Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena, and Jon Bernthal sit casually atop a tank which, according to a scribble of white paint across the tank gun barrel, is called “Fury.” Pitt plays Wardaddy, an Army sergeant who leads the five-man crew of the Fury into a dangerous mission behind eneymy lines: “Outnumbered and outgunned, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.”
Fury is scheduled for release on November 14, 2014. See the image after the jump.
Sony Pictures has released the first trailer for David O. Russell‘s American Hustle. The story is based on an undercover sting operation called “Abscam”, which was set up in the 1980s by a con artist working for the FBI who rooted out corruption in Congress. Christian Bale plays the con artist, Amy Adams plays his lover/accomplice, Bradley Cooper plays an FBI agent, and Jennifer Lawrence is set as Bale’s “loose cannon of a Long Island house wife.” Those plot and character details are mostly absent from the trailer, but we do get a look at what could be a wild and fun ride.
Hit the jump to check out the trailer. The film stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, Jeremy Renner, Louis C.K., Michael Pena, and Jack Jones. American Hustle opens in limited release on December 13th before going wide on December 25th. [Update: We've replaced the video embed with a higher-quality version and added high-quality images.]
We’ve got a few casting stories for you this afternoon. Briefly:
- Sam Elliott has joined Ivan Reitman‘s dramedy Draft Day starring Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary, Ellen Burstyn, and Terry Crews.
- Michael Pena will co-star in David Ayer‘s WWII thriller Fury starring Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, and Logan Lerman.
- Speaking of LaBeouf, he’s set to lead Villain, a psychological thriller from director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later).
Hit the jump for more on all these films.
Considering that the film was bumped around from September to January due to a national tragedy, it would be nice to feel a little sorry for Ruben Fleischer’s Gangster Squad. The period film, which casts Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling as cops going against Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) for control of Los Angeles, has a great cast and period setting. On top of that, The Untouchables is a great film and it wouldn’t be the worst thing to see more films like it. And yet, Gangster Squad is a total miss. My review of the Blu-ray follows after the jump.
Director David O. Russell’s follow-up to last year’s crowdpleasing awards contender Silver Linings Playbook now has a title. Previously referred to as American Bullshit, the pic is now titled American Hustle per Box Office Mojo. The story is based on a real-life undercover sting operation called “Abscam”, which was set up in the 1980s by a con artist working for the FBI who rooted out corruption in Congress. The film boasts an incredible ensemble cast that includes a number of Russell regulars like Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro as well as some exciting Russell newcomers like Jeremy Renner, Louis C.K., Michael Pena, and Jack Huston.
Russell is currently in the middle of production on American Hustle in the New York City area, and we’ve already seen a number of wildly entertaining set photos of the cast done up in their 80s garb. The film opens in limited release on December 13th before going wide on Christmas Day, and it’s safe to assume that American Hustle will be a serious player in this year’s awards race.
Check out some recent casting announcements below:
- Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters) is in negotiations to join the road trip comedy Tammy, starring Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Mark Duplass and Kathy Bates.
- Michael Peña (End of Watch) joins the Oscar-award winning cast of David O. Russell’s new untitled picture that stars Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Lawrence.
- Omar Sy (The Intouchables) is on board director Stephen Gaghan’s Candy Store, also starring Jason Clarke.
Hit the jump for more on each project.
A new trailer and poster have been released for DreamWorks Animation’s Turbo. The story follows a snail (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) who dreams of being able to go fast, and gets his wish after a freak accident. He then goes to pursue his dream of racing in the Indy 500. The trailer looks cute, but I’m not sure if the movie has an antagonist. I hope it’s salt.
Hit he jump to check out the trailer and poster. The film also features the voices of Paul Giamatti, Michael Pena, Luis Guzmán, Bill Hader, Richard Jenkins, Ken Jeong, Michelle Rodriguez, Maya Rudolph, Ben Schwartz, Kurtwood Smith, Snoop Dogg, and Samuel L. Jackson. Turbo opens in 3D on July 19th.
Writer/director David Ayer has more than a passing familiarity with the heroes and villains of law enforcement. He’s been behind the pen of Training Day, S.W.A.T., Dark Blue and Harsh Times, while stepping behind the camera for the latter film, as well as Street Kings. His latest effort, End of Watch, has him pulling double duty, but giving up some camera control to his principal leads Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña. In bringing some aspects of “found footage” into an action movie following two street cops on their daily grind, Ayer has managed to find another layer of realism that makes his films so enjoyable. Hit the jump for our breakdown of End of Watch on Blu-ray, including the highlight of Ayer’s directorial commentary that makes the film easily worth a repeat viewing.
It’s a bit disappointing that Ruben Fleischer‘s Gangster Squad can live in such a rich setting and still feel so light. As seen through a grand tradition of films dating back over 70 years, post-war Los Angeles was boozy, hedonistic, dangerous, and dark. Gangster Squad waters down this colorful world, and simply coasts on being an amusing, frivolous action film. There’s nothing wrong with that, and with a strong cast at his disposal, Fleischer finds a nice blend between the style he brought to Zombieland and the spirit of the time period. Unfortunately, a thin plot and even thinner characters make Gangster Squad as intense as a drive-by shooting and just as fleeting.