Trailer: Focus

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If it seems like Will Smith has fallen off the face of the earth, well… you wouldn’t be too far off.

Other than an abysmal third Men in Black flick in 2012 and 2013’s After Earth, a vehicle for Smith’s son Jaden, we haven’t seen Will Smith lead a film since his duo of 2008 movies, Seven Pounds and Hancock. Considering it’s almost 2015, that’s a long time to go without Smith’s undeniable charisma gracing the big screen.

Directed by Glenn Ficcarra and John Requa (I Love You Phillip Morris, Bad Santa), Smith’s next film is titled Focus. While the plot itself doesn’t seem particularly original – the smooth-talking conman, the big heist, the femme fatale of questionable motives – I can’t help but be pleased to see Smith doing what he does best: making us wish we were as cool as him.

The movie looks slick and fun and maybe a bit mindless… which is all right by me if Smith can carry it.

Focus has a stateside release date of February 27, 2015.

Trailer: Dear White People (Red Band)

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Back in July, Kurt posted the first trailer for Dear White People, an amusing indie directed by Justin Simien from his own screenplay that was inspired by his own experiences at college. The film won the Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at Sundance and still is sitting at a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes after 10 reviews.

The film follows four black students at an Ivy League college as they prepare to deal with an upcoming off-campus party thrown by white students… in which the theme is blatantly mocking aspects of African American culture.

The original trailer for Dear White People was solid. This red band trailer is great. The film is sure to highlight the privilege and less overt 21st century racism of which most of white America is completely oblivious (or unconcerned).

The film hits theaters in a limited run on Oct 17, 2014.

Would you like to know more…?

Trailer: Listen Up Philip

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There has been a void in my life HBO criminally and unexpectedly axed Bored to Death after three seasons. While I could suffer through one of those dreadful criminal investigation shows if I wanted more Ten Danson in my life (I do, but not that badly), Jason Schwartzman has only been popping up here and there, mostly in supporting or bit roles. There has been a seriously lack of Schwartzman in my life.

Later this year though, that changes with. With the release of Listen Up Philip, we get Schwartzman in a starring role as an author named Philip (very clearly based on Philip Roth, though nobody seems to be mentioning this) who tries to balance the publication of his second novel with his girlfriend (played by Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss) and his budding relationship with his idol, a writer named Ike Zimmerman (also clearly based on Philip Roth’s alter ago, Nate Zuckerman) who has offered him a chance to stay at his summer home.

It looks good and interestingly, even has a bit role for Ernest Hemingway’s great granddaughter, Dree Hemingway, perhaps an intentional nod to the film’s literary inspirations.

Check out the trailer below. Listen Up Philip hits theaters stateside on October 17, 2014.

Trailer: The Homesman

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If you never saw Tommy Lee Jones’s 2005 directorial debut The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, do yourself a favor and get a copy of it. If you never watched his follow up feature, an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Sunset Limited (my review), then you’ve missed out on a masterpiece.

Needless to say, I’m eager to watch his next feature, The Homesman, which is his take on a classic western tale. He’ll also be starring in the film alongside Hilary Swank, who plays a woman who recruits Jones’s character to help her escort three mentally unstable women from Nebraska to Iowa.

If the plot doesn’t do much for you, maybe the rest of the cast will: Meryl Streep, Hailee Steinfeld, William Fichtner, James Spader, John Lithgow, Tim Blake Nelson, Miranda Otto, Grace Gummer (Streep’s daughter), and Jesse Plemons round out the cast.

While the film premieres at Cannes back in May, it hits theaters stateside on November 7, 2014.

Trailer: Young Ones

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A few days ago, Kurt posted the trailer to an upcoming sci-fi film starring Antonio Banderas titled Automata. It looked interesting and slick and gritty and, most importantly, it was filmed from an original screenplay (even if the story itself didn’t seem all that original).

Today comes the trailer for another original sci-fi film which appears even grittier. From writer-director Jake Paltrow (brother of Gwyneth), it’s titled Young Ones and I’m immediately sold by two points: its stars Michael Shannon and it’s described as a sci-fi western. From Rotten Tomatoes:

YOUNG ONES is set in a near future when water has become the most precious and dwindling resource on the planet … The land has withered into something wretched. The dust has settled on a lonely, barren planet. The hardened survivors of the loss of Earth’s precious resources scrape and struggle. … From writer/director Jake Paltrow comes a futuristic western, told in three chapters, which inventively layers Greek tragedy over an ethereal narrative that’s steeped deeply in the values of the American West.

Andrew O’Hehir of Salon described it as part Mad Max and part John Ford western. Even Geoff Berkshire of Variety, who was critical of the film, wrote that it was like a “cinematic graphic novel” and could likely gain a cult following, but had no chances of commercially succeeding.

I’m sold.

Young Ones also co-stars Elle Fanning, Nicholas Hoult, and Kodi Smit-McPhee (who you might remember as the son from The Road). It drops into limited U.S. theaters on October 17, 2014.

Trailer: Sonic Highways

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Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters is no stranger to filmmaking. Besides all of his band’s rather cinematic music videos, last year, Grohl directed the superb documentary Sound City (which still proudly boasts a 100% rating on on Rotten Tomatoes) about the San Fernando Valley recording studio that rocked the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Rick Springfield, Tom Petty, Metallica and Nirvana. While it may have gone relatively unseen and won few awards, it’s unquestionably one of the greatest rock documentaries to ever grace the screen.

This year, the Grohl-led Foo Fighters have collaborated with HBO on a television show, titled Sonic Highways (like their upcoming album), that will chronicle their creation of their upcoming LP which was recorded in eight different recording studios in eight different American cities (Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Seattle and Washington, DC).

As described by Rolling Stone, Grohl says of the show and album: “This isn’t just the making of our most ambitious album. This is a love letter to the history of American music.”

Sonic Highways debuts on HBO on October 17, 2014.

Robin Williams 1951-2014

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This one is a punch to the gut. But, details aside, let’s take some time to remember the man, the legend, and share our favorite moments from his illustrious career.

Here’s a great scene from the awesome and underappreciated Death to Smoochy:

Be sure to share your favorite and most memorable moments!

Trailer: The Theory of Everything

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If there is a modern man’s story worth knowing, surely the argument could be made for that story to be Stephen Hawking’s. He’s no stranger to the limelight and there have been numerous documentaries, books, and profiles of the man over the years, but now we are getting a full-fledged biopic of Hawking’s life both before his motor neuron disease took control of his life and after he had his success in physics.

The film, which is directed by James Marsh (Man on Wire) is titled The Theory of Everything. Starring Eddie Redmayne (Les Misérables, My Week with Marilyn) as Hawking and Felicity Jones (Like Crazy) as his first wife Jane, it looks to be a well-made, if not by-the-books examination of the man’s early years in college along with his personal struggle coping with the disease while trying to balance his personal and professional life.

If the trailer is any indicator, there will be a heavy emphasis on the relationship between he and his first wife. I’m definitely interested in seeing this, as it’s hard not to be interested in Hawking’s rather incredible life story.

The Theory of Everything opens up on November 7, 2014.

Philipp Meyer’s The Son to be adapted for AMC

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When Philipp Meyer quit his job on Wall Street to pursue writing, I’m sure he never expected his sophomore novel would not only be a Pulitzer Prize finalist, but also that it’d be adapted to the small screen with his intimate involvement by one of the hottest channels in television, AMC.

I first wrote about Philipp Meyer in 2009, after reading his excellent debut novel, the rustbelt Pennsylvania set American Rust, which at the time had been optioned for a big screen adaptation that is currently stuck in development purgatory.

Last month though, exciting news was announced by Deadline: AMC is developing a show based on his second novel, The Son, and Philipp Meyer himself will serve as executive producer.

Last summer, when I read his Texas-set, ambitious, brutal, and sometimes horrific sweeping epic The Son. I was blown away. I burnt through the 700+ pages in two sittings. The novel is not merely good… it’s a masterpiece. An instant classic. An important book in American literature that’s only going to continue to grow in significance as the decades pass. And while comparisons are silly, if you need one, it’s sort of like Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian as interpreted by John Steinbeck before being edited by William Faulkner.

When reading it, I thought the novel, like Blood Meridian, would be nearly impossible to adapt to the big screen. Even on television, which will provide the filmmakers with much more freedom than Hollywood would, it will be difficult as the story follows three distinct generations and time periods of a rising Texas oil empire: the ruthless Eli McCulloch, Eli’s son Pete, and Eli’s great-granddaughter Jeanne.

Meyer himself described it as a “partly historical novel about the rise of an oil and ranching dynasty in Texas, tracing the family from the earliest days of white settlement, fifty years of open warfare with the Comanches, the end of the frontier and the rise of the cattle industry, and transitioning into the modern (oil) age.”

What I find even more interesting, The Dallas Morning News ran an article yesterday describing how Meyer and writers like him are getting on board projects as executive producer.

Writers including Meyer, Brian McGreevy of Hemlock Grove, and Smith Henderson of Fourth of July Creek have formed a writers collective called El Jefe which, according to Meyer, was created to “help interesting, high-quality literary writers adapt, produce, and retain meaningful ownership of their own work for television and film.” Perhaps this was in response to the mess surrounding the American Rust adaptation that fizzled out.

The Son for AMC will be El Jefe’s first production. There is no word yet on casting or filming dates.

If you’ve read The Son, do you think even with Meyer’s involvement they’ll be able to effectively adapt it for television? Who could you envision in any of the lead roles? Chime in below!

Even if God existed, to say he loved the human race was preposterous. It was just as likely the opposite; it was just as likely he was systematically deceiving us. To think that an all-powerful being would make a world for anyone but himself, that he might spend all his time looking out for the interests of lesser creatures, it went against all common sense. The strong took from the weak, only the weak believed otherwise, and if God was out there, he was just as the Greeks and Romans had suspected; a trickster, an older brother who spent all his time inventing ways to punish you. -Philipp Meyer, The Son