WHIPLASH Review | TIFF 2014

by     Posted 17 days ago

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[Note: This is a "second take" review of Whiplash by Phil Brown from the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.  To read Matt's initial review from Sundance 2014, click here.]

Reduced to the most basic possible logline plot description, Whiplash might sound like an impossibly cheesy inspirational teaching drama with jazz band setting. Thankfully anything resembling warm, fuzzy, and safe entertainment ends there in writer/director Damien Chazelle’s debut feature. What he’s created is a vicious game of psychological warfare between a talented pupil and nearly psychotic teacher that ducks and swerves against convention at every possible turn, transforming into a fascinatingly dark character study quite unlike anything that could be expected from this subgenre. Want to know why? Then go ahead and hit that jump. 

New WHIPLASH Trailer Showcases the Jazz-Infused Horror Starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons

by     Posted 27 days ago

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A new Whiplash trailer has gone online, and it gave me flashbacks of how much the film unnerved me when I saw it at Sundance.  The film stars Miles Teller as a student jazz drummer who aspires to greatness under a ruthless instructor, played with palpable intensity by J.K. Simmons.  Although some may want to file this under “drama”, make no mistake: this is one of the scariest horror films of the year.  The word “horror” usually implies something supernatural and thriller conveys some form of excitement.  Whiplash is nerve-wracking dread, but it’s still a must-see, especially for Teller and Simmons’ performances.

Hit the jump to check out the international Whiplash trailer.  The film opens October 10th.

TWO NIGHT STAND Trailer & Poster Starring Analeigh Tipton and Miles Teller

by     Posted 44 days ago

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I remember hearing about Two Night Stand gearing up to shoot a few years ago and then it completely fell off the radar.  Today, it is once again a blip on the screen thanks to this new trailer.  The film is directed by Max Nichols (son of Graduate director Mike Nichols) from a Blacklist script by Mark Hammer and stars Miles Teller (fresh off shooting The Fantastic Four, which I believe went into production after this film) and Analeigh Tipton.

I’m a fan of Tipton’s and Teller seems like he’s got a few chops.  But while Two Night Stand actually looks pretty good for what it is, what it is… is not for me.  It’s certainly not offensive, in fact I find the idea of two young people engaging in a frank dialogue about how to be more considerate lovers to be a refreshing concept in today’s mainstream landscape.  Maybe it’s just that I’m a few years older than these characters and don’t need to delve back into that mindset.  Still, it’s nice that movies about, you know, people aren’t just limited to serious art house fare. Hit the jump for the Two Night Stand trailer.  The film hits theaters on September 26th.

Kate Mara Shares Celebratory FANTASTIC FOUR Image to Mark End of Filming

by     Posted 50 days ago

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One of the bigger “huh?” moments from this year’s Comic-Con was the complete lack of anything from 20th Century Fox’s The Fantastic Four.  Granted, director Josh Trank‘s superhero adaptation was in the midst of production and barreling towards a fast-approaching June 19, 2015 release date, but fans were hoping to see at least a title treatment or image from the pic.  Alas, no such preview emerged, but Invisible Girl herself Kate Mara has now shared a kind of Fantastic Four image by way of a celebratory selfie with her fellow FF members.  “That’s a wrap on Fantastic Four” the tweet reads, though it’s unclear if that means the entire production has wrapped, the principal castmembers have wrapped, or only Mara has wrapped.  Regardless, since we’ve seen nothing official from the film thus far, it’s kind of neat to see Mara, Miles Teller (Mr. Fantastic), Michael B. Jordan (Human Torch), and Jamie Bell (Thing) all together on the streets of New Orleans.

Hit the jump to check out the image for yourself.  Hopefully a genuine piece of Fantastic Four material will show up in the coming months.  The film also stars Toby Kebbell, Tim Blake Nelson, and Reg E. Cathey.

WHIPLASH Trailer: J.K. Simmons Induces Terror as the Jazz Instructor from Hell

by     Posted 59 days ago

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Fresh off a prestigious TIFF selection, Sony Pictures Classics has released the first Whiplash trailer for writer/director Damien Chazelle’s Sundance award-winning drama.  The film stars Miles Teller as a student jazz drummer who aspires to greatness under a ruthless instructor, played with palpable intensity by J.K. Simmons.  I caught the film at Sundance, and this trailer does a great job of conveying the pic’s tone.  It’s essentially a story about the cost of striving for artistic perfection, but it almost plays out as a small-scale horror film with Simmons wholly embodying the role of a relentless teacher.  Teller does excellent work here as well, and he’s already making plans to reteam with Chazelle on another feature.

Hit the jump to watch the Whiplash trailer, click here to read Matt’s review, and click here to watch Steve’s interview with Teller from Sundance.  Whiplash also stars Paul Reiser and opens in theaters on October 10th.

Emma Watson and Miles Teller May Go Musical for LA LA LAND; Lupita Nyong’o to Lead AMERICANAH; Ike Barinholtz Joins THE NEST

by     Posted 108 days ago

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A couple of interesting casting announcements have surfaced.  First up, director Damien Chazelle—whose dark music-centric drama Whiplash drew raves at Sundance earlier this year—is putting together his next project.  Whiplash, a film about the relationship between aspiring jazz drummer (Miles Teller) and his ruthless instructor (J.K. Simmons), marked Chazelle’s feature debut, and it appears that he wants to stay in the music realm for his follow-up.  The Wrap reports that Miles Teller is in early talks to reteam with Chazelle on the musical La La Land, with Emma Watson in talks to tackle the female lead.  The story follows a lonely, aspiring actress and a cocky, charismatic jazz pianist who fall in love in Los Angeles.  However, they are soon faced with the stiff challenge of navigating a relationship in the cutthroat climate of L.A.

Hit the jump for more on La La Land and news regarding a new Lupita Nyong’o project and a Neighbors standout landing the lead in the new Tina Fey/Amy Poehler film.

DIVERGENT Sequel INSURGENT Begins Filming in Atlanta

by     Posted 117 days ago

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Lionsgate has announced that the Divergent sequel Insurgent has begun production in Atlanta, barreling towards the film’s March 20, 2015 release date.  That’s a rather quick turnaround for the futuristic thriller since Divergent only just opened in theaters this past March, and especially given that director Robert Schwentke (Red) has only been on the project for a couple of months.  Schwentke takes over directorial duties from Neil Burger, who was too busy completing post-production on Divergent to be able to prep and shoot Insurgent in the allotted time.

Hit the jump for more on Insurgent, including the full press release and official synopsis.  The film stars Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller, Ray Stevenson, Zoe Kravitz, Jai Courtney, Mekhi Phifer, and Maggie Q.

J.K. Simmons Throws a Chair at Miles Teller in First WHIPLASH Clip

by     Posted 124 days ago

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Ahead of the film’s screening at the Cannes Film Festival, Sony Pictures Classics has released the first Whiplash clip from writer/director Damien Chazelle’s acclaimed drama.  The pic stars Miles Teller as a student jazz drummer who aspires to greatness under a ruthless instructor, played to perfection by J.K. Simmons.  I caught the film at Sundance earlier this year—where it took home both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize for the U.S. Dramatic competition—and found it to be an entertaining and terrifying character study.  I’d go so far as to call it a horror film, as it puts an inventive spin on the “hard-ass instructor/striving-for-perfection student” genre.  This debut clip does an excellent job of conveying the tone of the pic as well as teasing the relationship dynamic between Teller and Simmons.

Hit the jump to watch the Whiplash clip, click here to read Matt’s review, and click here to watch Steve’s interview with Teller from Sundance.  Whiplash opens in theaters on October 10th.

TOP 5: GODZILLA Set Visit, DIVERGENT, Final Trailer for THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2, MUPPETS MOST WANTED Interviews, CHEAP THRILLS

by     Posted 183 days ago

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Now available on VOD and in select theaters is Drafthouse Films’ dark thriller/comedy Cheap Thrills starring Pat Healy, Ethan Embry, David Koechner, and Sara Paxton. I watched the film last night and, while not for the faint of heart or stomach, I can’t recommend it enough. At its core, Thrills works from a single question: how far would you go to be able to provide for yourself and/or your family? It uses precision pacing, confident direction from E.L. Katz, and solid performances across the board to explore this question, all while gradually rising to a crescendo that feels both inevitable and wildly inventive. Offhand I can’t think of a film that blends the thrilling and the disgusting, excitement and repulsion, in a more entertaining way than Cheap Thrills. Regardless of whether you want to or not (and I don’t think you will), this is a movie you won’t soon forget.

In addition to talking a bit more about Cheap Thrills with Matt’s review and a couple of interviews, this week’s Top 5 also highlights our set visit coverage for Godzilla, Matt’s review of Divergent plus interviews with Shailene Woodley and more, the final trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Muppets Most Wanted interviews with Tina Fey among others. Read on for a brief recap and link to everything I mention above.

DIVERGENT Review

by     Posted 185 days ago

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The story of Divergent celebrates bravery, compassion, and above all, accepting an emotional complexity that goes beyond a single characteristic.  Unfortunately, Neil Burger‘s adaptation of Veronica Roth‘s best-selling novel is constantly softening that emotional complexity or dodging it altogether.  The director is more focused on recreating the world of the novel, but rarely does he concern himself with fleshing it out and making the character relationships more than superficial.  The result is a staggeringly safe picture in what’s supposed to be a dangerous setting.

Miles Teller and Jai Courtney Talk DIVERGENT, Neil Burger, Shenanigans Off Set with the Rest of the Cast, TERMINATOR: GENESIS, and More

by     Posted 187 days ago

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With Divergent opening this weekend, I recently landed an exclusive video interview with Miles Teller and Jai Courtney.  During the interview they talked about working with director Neil Burger, why the police called so many times to the apartment building where the cast was staying, what can they tease about Reed Richards and Kyle Reese in Fantastic Four and Terminator: Genesis, and more

For those unfamiliar, the film is based on the Veronica Roth novel of the same name and takes place in a society where people are divided into factions based on their personalities.  Tris (Shailene Woodley) is a young girl who doesn’t fit into any of the pre-assigned groups and faces grave consequences due to her status as a “Divergent.”  Hit the jump to watch the interview.  Divergent also stars Theo James, Ashley JuddRay StevensonZoe Kravitz, Tony GoldwynAnsel Elgort,Maggie QBen Lloyd-HughesChristian Madsen, and Kate Winslet.

Over 25 New Images from DIVERGENT Featuring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller, Zoe Kravitz, and More

by     Posted 191 days ago

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Summit Entertainment has released a number of new images from director Neil Burger’s (Limitless) upcoming Veronica Roth adaptation Divergent.  The film is on track for a big opening weekend, and from what little footage we’ve seen, I’ve really liked Burger’s visual take on the dystopian world.  Moreover, the prospect of seeing The Spectacular Now stars Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller together again onscreen (albeit under very different circumstances) is highly enticing.  For those unaware, the futuristic thriller takes place in a society where people are divided into factions based on their personalities.  Woodley plays a young girl who doesn’t fit into any of the pre-assigned groups, and faces grave consequences if it’s revealed that she’s “Divergent”.

Hit the jump to check out the new images, which fans of the book will be happy to know include looks at nearly the entire cast and even Roth’s cameo.  The film also stars Theo James, Jai Courtney, Kate Winslet, Ashley Judd, Tony Goldwyn, Zoe Kravitz, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Christian Madsen, Ray Stevenson, Amy Newbold, and Ben LambDivergent opens in traditional theaters and IMAX on March 21st.

New Featurette for DIVERGENT Focuses on Theo James’ Character, Four

by     Posted 201 days ago

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Summit has released a new featurette for Neil Burger’s adaptation of the best-selling novel, Divergent.  The story takes place in a society where people are divided into factions based on their personalities.  Tris (Shailene Woodley) is a young girl who doesn’t fit into any of the pre-assigned groups, and faces grave consequences if it’s revealed that she’s “Divergent”.  Theo James plays Four, Tris’ instructor and love-interest, and this featurette provides a behind-the-scenes look at the character and his performance.  I haven’t seen any of James’ previous work, so I don’t know how he’ll handle the emotional scenes, but from a physical standpoint, he fits the bill.

Hit the jump to check out the featurette.  The film also stars Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoe Kravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, and Kate WinsletDivergent opens on March 21st. [Update: We've also added a new TV spot]

New Images from DIVERGENT Featuring Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller; Film Tracking Strong as Advance Tickets Go on Sale March 8th

by     Posted 206 days ago

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Summit Entertainment has debuted a batch of new images from director Neil Burger’s (Limitless) upcoming futuristic thriller Divergent, giving us a first look at a number of characters from the book—including Miles Teller’s Peter.  For those unfamiliar, the film is based on the Veronica Roth novel of the same name and takes place in a society where people are divided into factions based on their personalities.  Tris (Shailene Woodley) is a young girl who doesn’t fit into any of the pre-assigned groups and faces grave consequences due to her status as a “Divergent.”  Summit no doubt hopes to mimic the success of another YA franchise (The Hunger Games), and it looks like they just may succeed as The Wrap reports that Divergent is tracking strong for a $50+ million opening and building.  As someone who read and enjoyed the book and is a fan of Burger’s visuals, that’s good to hear.  In addition, the studio has announced that advance tickets for the film will be on sale starting March 4th, at which time purchasers will receive a free digital copy of the book.

Hit the jump to take a look at the new images.  The film also stars Theo James, Ashley Judd, Ray Stevenson, Zoe Kravitz, Jai CourtneyTony Goldwyn, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Ben Lloyd-HughesChristian Madsen, and Kate WinsletDivergent opens in traditional theaters and IMAX on March 21st.

TOP 5: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST Set Visit, POMPEII Interviews, FANTASTIC FOUR Casting, Toy Fair 2014

by     Posted 211 days ago

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Landing just outside of this week’s Top 5 and earning an opening paragraph mention as a result is the first trailer and poster for writer/editor/director Ti West‘s The Sacrament. Obviously inspired by 1978′s Jonestown Massacre, the film features a team of journalists who attempt to document the story of a seemingly peaceful religious commune only to have the proverbial shit hit the fan in the process. I think West is among the best working directors in terms of creating and maintaining terror as evidenced by both 2009′s The House of the Devil and 2011′s The Innkeepers. Each of those films expertly sustain a sense of dread throughout and if Gene Jones hauntingly daring the visiting journalists to “Take it…” in this first trailer is any indication, The Sacrament looks to be cut from the same stellar mold. While it will be tough to match the psychological horror dealt out by 2011′s cult-centric drama Martha Marcy May Marlene, I’ll be anxiously anticipating West’s latest up until the time it hits VOD on May 1st.

Transitioning to the list section of the feature, this week’s installment highlights the first trailer for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Steve’s set visit coverage for X-Men: Days of Future Past, interviews for and Matt’s review of Paul W.S. Anderson‘s Pompeii, casting news for Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot, and coverage from the floor of Toy Fair 2014 at the Javits Center in NYC. Keep reading for a quick recap and link to each of the above.

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