Director Gabe Polsky Talks RED ARMY, How the Cold War Influenced Hockey, the Russian Five, and Werner Herzog’s Role as Executive Producer

by     Posted 26 days ago

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Gabe Polsky’s new film Red Army (check out Matt’s review) is an exhilarating documentary about the Cold War on ice and how an incredibly oppressive system produced one of the greatest teams in sports history:  the Red Army Hockey Team of the late 70’s and 80’s.  The story is told from the perspective of its former captain and star defenseman, Slava Fetisov, who was at the center of an extraordinarily talented group of players – Sergei Marakov, Vladimir Krutov, Igor Larionov and Alexei Kasatonov – known as the Russian Five.  Fetisov’s impressive career took him from national hero to political enemy to Russian Minister of Sport under Vladimir Putin.

In an exclusive interview, Polsky spoke about using hockey as a window into a larger personal and political story, what inspired him to structure his documentary around the legendary Red Army Hockey Team and one of its greatest players, why Fetisov was an interesting interview subject, the challenge of finding the right archival clips to give people a sense of the place and setting, the visionary Anatoli Tarasov and what distinguished the Soviet style of play from that of North America, Werner Herzog’s role as executive producer, the impact of hockey on Polsky’s life and its influence on him as a filmmaker, and his upcoming projects.  Check out our interview after the jump.

Objects in Perpetual Stasis: On Werner Herzog’s NOSFERATU: PHANTOM DER NACHT

by     Posted 216 days ago

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Towards the end of Werner Herzog’s remake/reimagining of Nosferatu, pseudo-Mina-stand-in Lucy** (Isabelle Adjani) wanders outside through a crowd of revelers, basking in dance and each other’s company.  The rub here is that in the background of all this merriment – half-discarded coffins and lost crud-stained pigs roam unnoticed.  Lucy finally comes to a stop, noting an upper-class family enjoying a lavish dinner outside.  The family gobbles platters of grub while delicately sipping their goblets of wine; however underneath the elegantly carved wooden table the family dines at, hundreds of rats scurry along nibbling at their bare feet.  The imagery here clearly gets at the bleak nihilistic heart of Herzog’s picture: life just a series of distractions from the cold inevitability of death.  All the joy and cheer of existence – a simple means for laymen to wish away and ignore their own impending insignificance.  Hit the jump, to continue reading.

English-Language Voice Cast for Hayao Miyazaki’s THE WIND RISES Includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, and Mandy Patinkin

by     Posted 1 year, 4 days ago

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Walt Disney Studios will be distributing director Hayao Miyazaki’s final film The Wind Rises to domestic audiences early next year, and today the studio has unveiled the voice talent that will be dubbing the English-language version of the Studio Ghibli film.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt will lend his voice to the lead role of Jiro Horikoshi, while the rest of the cast will be filled out by John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Martin Short, Stanley Tucci, Mandy Patinkin, Werner Herzog, William H. Macy, Mae Whitman, Jennifer Grey, Darren Criss, Ronan Farrow, and Elijah Wood.  The film tells the story of the man who designed the Zero Fighter used by Japanese pilots in World War II, and examines the Japan’s turbulent first half of the 20th century as the country struggled through an earthquake and economic fallout.

Hit the jump to read the full cast list, which denotes the characters that the actors will be voicing. Click here to read Matt’s review of the film.  The Wind Rises will open in select North American theaters on February 21, 2014 before expanding wide on February 28, 2014.

Trailer for Joshua Oppenheimer’s Brilliant and Disturbing THE ACT OF KILLING

by     Posted 1 year, 212 days ago

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The best film I’ve seen so far this year is Joshua Oppenheimer‘s The Act of Killing.  Produced by Werner Herzog and Errol Morris, the documentary focuses on executioners from 1965-66 Indonesia who were allowed to murder practically anyone they wanted, and are still treated as heroes today.  Because of their utter lack of remorse, Oppenheimer asks them to direct recreations of their atrocities. The trailer hints at the dark and twisted plot without giving away too much.  But even by showing scenes from near the end of the movie, this is a film that can’t be spoiled.  No trailer can recreate the absolutely chilling experience of watching this documentary.

Hit the jump to check out the trailer, and click here to read my review from SXSW.  The Act of Killing opens July 19th.

Werner Herzog Eyes James Franco to Replace Jude Law in QUEEN OF THE DESERT

by     Posted 1 year, 240 days ago

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Director Werner Herzog is looking to get his Gertrude Bell biopic Queen of the Desert back on track.  The film has Naomi Watts set to star as Bell, who worked extensively in the middle east and was responsible for establishing what would become the modern framework for Jordan and Iraq. She worked for British Intelligence during World War I, and was key in the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire and subsequent founding of Iraq.  Jude Law had previously been set to co-star, but he subsequently left the project due to scheduling conflicts, providing quite the stumbling block for a production that was looking to start filming last month.

Now Deadline reports that James Franco is circling the project, in which he would fill the role that Law vacated.  There’s no guarantee that he’ll sign on (Franco is, to say the least, a busy guy), but if he does then that would put Queen of the Desert back on the path towards production.  Robert Pattison is also attached to star in the film as T.E. Lawrence.

First Trailer and Poster for Werner Herzog’s HAPPY PEOPLE: A YEAR IN THE TAIGA

by     Posted 1 year, 344 days ago

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The first trailer and poster for director Werner Herzog’s upcoming documentary Happy People: A Year in the Taiga have been released online.  The film takes place deep in the Siberian wilderness and focus on a small group of indigenous people who live in the harsh environment.  This trailer promises yet another great Herzog voiceover as well as some gorgeous visuals, and I’m interested to see how the full film turns out.  If you liked Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams or Grizzly Man, odds are this one will be right up your alley.

Hit the jump to watch the trailer.  Happy People: A Year in the Taiga will open in theaters on January 25th.

JACK REACHER Review

by     Posted 2 years ago

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It’s almost difficult to remember what a hard-boiled, stripped-down, old-fashioned action-thriller looks like.  We’ve become so reliant on CG for our action and jump-scares for our thrills that we forget solid action-thrillers don’t need to rely on gigantic budgets or creepy mysteries to make an impact.  Jack Reacher is that confident action thriller we’ve been missing.  Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie has created a film that almost feels like a throwback in its confident plotting and attitude.  Furthermore, Tom Cruise once again reminds us that we can never underestimate his acting talent, and while he may not share the physicality of the character in the book, the attitude remains.

6 Clips and 23 Images from JACK REACHER Starring Tom Cruise

by     Posted 2 years, 9 days ago

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Paramount Pictures has released six clips and 23 images from the upcoming Lee Child adaptation Jack Reacher. Based on the popular series of novels, the film stars Tom Cruise as a man who exists outside the law and exacts his own brand of ruthless justice. Early reviews and reactions seem to be fairly positive for director Christopher McQuarrie’s thriller, and these clips only reinforce the idea that Cruise was a swell choice to tackle the title role.

Hit the jump to check out the clips and images. The film also stars Rosamund Pike, Robert Duvall, Richard Jenkins, David Oyelowo, Jai Courtney, and Werner Herzog. Jack Reacher opens on December 21st.

Early JACK REACHER Reviews Praise the Action, Direction and Casting of Werner Herzog as the Villain, Mostly Positive Reactions for Tom Cruise

by     Posted 2 years, 10 days ago

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Some early reviews for writer/director Christopher McQuarrie’s Jack Reacher are now available, with a consensus praising the film’s action sequences and pacing, as well as McQuarrie’s capable direction. Werner Herzog’s rare performance as the villain was also lauded across the board, while Tom Cruise’s role as the titular tough guy hit home with a majority of viewers. Fans of the Lee Child source novels were more critical of Cruise playing the 6’5” enforcer, but appeared to be won over by his on-screen intensity. The film also drew a number of comparisons to classics like Dirty Harry, Bullitt and The Outlaw Josey Wales.

Jack Reacher, also starring Robert Duvall, Rosamund Pike and David Oyelowo, opens December 21st. Hit the jump to read some of the early reviews and reactions.

New JACK REACHER Trailer Reveals More Plot and New Footage, Plus Plenty of Badass Action

by     Posted 2 years, 16 days ago

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Even though it’s in Japanese, this new trailer for Jack Reacher shows off more plot than any of the previous trailers combined. Plus, it’s not exactly light on action either. Director Christopher McQuarrie’s adaptation of Lee Child’s novel stars Tom Cruise as the titular character, a man who exists outside the law and exacts his own brand of ruthless justice. Also starring Werner Herzog, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, Robert Duvall, Jai Courtney and David Oyelowo, Jack Reacher opens December 21st. Hit the jump to watch the new trailer and finally understand what it’s all about.

JACK REACHER Launches First Two TV Spots with Tough Guy Tom Cruise

by     Posted 2 years, 34 days ago

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Tom Cruise is looking to kick off another action franchise with Jack Reacher, a crime drama based on Lee Child’s book series featuring the title character. While Cruise isn’t the first person that comes to mind for fans of the imposing protagonist, he certainly does prove he’s still one hell of an ass-kicker in these two new TV spots for the film.

From writer/director Christopher McQuarrie, Jack Reacher also stars Rosamund Pike, Robert Duvall, Richard Jenkins, Jai Courtney, David Oyelowo and Werner Herzog. The film opens December 21st. Hit the jump to see the new TV spots. 

Jude Law Joins Robert Pattinson and Naomi Watts in Werner Herzog’s QUEEN OF THE DESERT

by     Posted 2 years, 47 days ago

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Jude Law has joined director Werner Herzog’s long-in-development Gertrude Bell biopic Queen of the Desert.  Described as the female Lawrence of Arabia, Bell worked extensively in the middle east and was responsible for establishing what would become the modern framework for Jordan and Iraq. She worked for British Intelligence during World War I, and was key in the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire and subsequent founding of Iraq.  Robert Pattison is already onboad to play T.E. Lawrence (ie. Lawrence of Arabia), while Naomi Watts is poised to play Bell.  THR reports that production is set to begin in March 2013 in Morocco.

Ridley Scott had also been developing a Gertrude Bell biopic of his own with Angelina Jolie, but it appears that Herzog beat him to the punch.  Law is next set to film Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel and will be seen in February in Steven Soderbergh’s thriller Side Effects.

Werner Herzog to Direct Adaptation of Coming-of-Age/School-Shooting Novel VERNON GOD LITTLE

by     Posted 2 years, 59 days ago

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Werner Herzog is set to direct an adaption of D.B.C. Pierre‘s novel Vernon God Little.  Per Variety, Vernon God Little is “a coming-of-age story set in Texas about a teenager caught up in the aftermath of a high-school shooting committed by his best friend.”  Aside from the perspective being from the shooter’s friend instead of a parent (like in the recent films We Need to Talk about Kevin and Beautiful Boy), the book is billed as a “provocatively satirical, riotously funny look at violence, materialism, and the American media.”  If Andrew Birkin‘s script sticks to that tone, I can see Herzog pulling it off, and perhaps one of the few filmmakers who could tackle the material.

Herzog has been focused on documentaries for the past several years, although he’s also attached to direct the feature Queen of the Desert starring Naomi Watts and Robert Pattinson.  However, he also hasn’t left documentaries behind with his plan to work on Hate in America and On Death Row.  He’ll next be seen playing the villain in the Tom Cruise action flick, Jack Reacher.  Hit the jump for a synopsis of Pierre’s novel.

New Trailer for JACK REACHER Starring Tom Cruise

by     Posted 2 years, 64 days ago

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A new trailer for director Christopher McQuarrie’s thriller Jack Reacher has been released.  Like the teaser trailer, the new trailer is predicated on whether or not you can buy Tom Cruise as a bad-ass.  Not an action hero—the character even says he’s not a hero—but as a take-no-prisoners, borderline anti-hero.  Personally, I’m just not seeing it.  I like the premise of an army investigator looking into the framing of a sniper, and I’ll show up simply to see Werner Herzog play the villain, but ultimately, Jack Reacher is looking like it will suffer from seriously miscasting its title character.

Hit the jump to watch the trailer.  The film also stars Robert Duvall, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, and David Oyelowo.  Jack Reacher opens December 21st.

Werner Herzog Prepares Documentary Series HATE IN AMERICA and ON DEATH ROW [Updated]

by     Posted 2 years, 113 days ago

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Werner Herzog‘s 2011 death row documentary Into the Abyss was met with critical acclaim, but I found it to be a tedious series of brazenly manipulative interviews where Herzog constantly took his eye off the ball to explore tangents that were immaterial to his larger exploration of capital punishment.  Hopefully, he’ll be more focused in his upcoming three-part documentary series On Death Row.  According to The Hollywood Reporter, “The new cases involve a man who paid killers to eliminate his ex-wife; a man who shot down truck drivers from his motorcycle; and a man who beat his girlfriend’s baby to death because he thought it was possessed by demons.”  Those are certainly disturbing cases, and I hope Herzog can give them the attention they deserve rather than taking time away to talk to an unimportant guy who was stabbed with a screwdriver.

Herzog is also working on the documentary series, Hate in America.  Hit the jump for more. [Update: We've updated our information on Hate in America]

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