The Coen Brothers’ latest film looks to be capitalizing on what they do so effortlessly: Wacky and convoluted kidnapping comedy. Set in the 1950s, in Hollywood movie studio, Capitol Pictures, where a super expensive sword and sandals picture is underway. Their main contracted star, Baird Whitlock, played by George Clooney, is flubbing his lines and wasting a lot of pricey resources (and apparently, there also a sailor musical with Channing Tatum called “Merrily, We Dance” shooting next door.) The would-be blockbuster is in trouble, and that is before Whitlock is kidnapped by a mysterious group known as “The Future.” Even if there is nothing more to that name than simply a set up for a phone-message gag, shown here in the trailer, that’d be fine, because it’s that good.
Taking place a fair bit on Studio backlots with all the hustle and bustle and politics, it will come as no surprise that the cast, is ridiculously stacked. Scarlett Johansson is back in a Coen Brother’s film (after only the tiniest of roles in The Man Who Wasn’t There), as is Tilda Swinton (Burn After Reading) and Fred Melamed (who was a scene stealer in A Serious Man.) Frances McDormand is a given, but here they’ve made her the editor, in the picture. New faces for the directors include Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill and Josh Brolin, the latter playing the studio boss. But if you keep going down the cast, you’ll see Clancy Brown, Christopher Lambert, Robert Picardo, Fisher Stevens, John Carpenter regular Peter Jason has a small role, and then there is Dolph Lundgren. (Hopefully he gets in a bar fight with Tatum.) With Roger Deakins behind the camera and Carter Burwell doing the music, well now, you’ve got yourselves a picture, don’t you. Cut and Print.
This little slice of nastiness from John Hillcoat (The Proposition, The Road), a director who knows his way around balancing bleak and heart, looks to be pushing the envelope of Sicario and Training Day as far as it can go.
Triple 9 has elements of the militarization of police, the war of attrition with crime and violence (severed heads abound), and everyone thrown into the blender. Props to whoever came up with the kids ‘this little piggie’ to score this trailer, because it is damn effective with the imagery on display.
The cast is beyond stacked: Woody Harrelson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Norman Reedus, Casey Affleck, Aaron Paul, Anthony Mackey, Gal Gadot, Clifton Collins Jr., and somewhere in there is Kate Winslet. All stuck in John Hillcoat’s murky grime. I cannot wait to wade into this urban warzone in February 2016.
The latest 007 adventure is going to land in theatres in about a month (a week or so earlier if you are on the other side of the pond), and the final trailer is here to emphasize action, action and more action. With a garnish of Christoph Waltz.
Bears, Hypothermia, Buried Alive and Tom Hardy, O My! Leonardo DiCaprio goes full on Grizzly Adams in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s long take snow-caked visceral revenge western. We were teased earlier this year with the bleak gorgeous images and ambitious shot-length strategy of the film earlier this year, but this new trailer offers a lot more Tom Hardy, who plays the villain of the piece, and a fair bit more of the plot of the film.
After being left for dead and buried alive after a bear attack, Hugh Glass (A Grizzly Adams bearded Leonardo DiCaprio) seeks out the sonuvabitch (Tom Hardy) who also had a hand in murdering his son. Vengeance and long-take action sequences ensue.
The whole thing looks to be gloriously next-level-big-canvas epic, as Alejandro González Iñárritu continues his mission (along with his Mexican cohort, Alfonso Cuaron) to re-evaluate film grammar and the long take the digital age of cinema.
Clever, sharp, funny, maybe mean spirited, this is Jake Gyllenhaal in his prime, and it appears that Jean-Marc Vallée sees fit to channel this energy into his latest film, Demolition. Frappé this together with music introspection and metaphor, and you have the film that is opening this years Toronto International Film Festival. Hopefully it is not too sentimental in the end.
Paolo Sorrentino has been a darling on the festival circuit in the past few years with both 2008’s Il Divo and 2013’s The Great Beauty. The latter of which walked home with the Best Foreign Language Oscar of that year.
Here he has oldsters, played by Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel ,struggling with retirement (or rather, impending retirement) at a boutique hotel in the Alps. The trailer for his latest, Youth, angles it as both an emotional and a pedantic experience. That sounds about right. Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano and Jane Fonda also star.
The film certainly looks gorgeous, was well received at Cannes, is playing on this side of the pond at TIFF, and opens commercially in December.
Fred and Mick, two old friends, are on vacation in an elegant hotel at the foot of the Alps. Fred, a composer and conductor, is now retired. Mick, a film director, is still working. They look with curiosity and tenderness on their children’s confused lives, Mick’s enthusiastic young writers, and the other hotel guests. While Mick scrambles to finish the screenplay for what he imagines will be his last important film, Fred has no intention of resuming his musical career. But someone wants at all costs to hear him conduct again.
This is the one where Sean Bean and Jimi Hendrix show up.
By now, whether you have read Andy Weir’s surprise hit, self-published novel or not, you know that an astronaut, played by Matt Damon, gets accidentally stranded on the Red Planet. Left to his own devices and remaining gear scattered about, he has to ‘science the shit’ out of his situation while a rescue operation can be put together by both his fellow crew members currently headed back to Earth, as well as NASA mission control. The trailer has a lot of familiar beats from previous ones, but also has a fair bit of new footage as well. Nice to see some can-do American spirit on display without rampant flag-waving. Go Science!
During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible rescue mission.
The Martian will bow at this years Toronto International Film Festival, before receiving a wide theatrical release in early October.
Husband and wife seem to have trouble enjoying their vacation in a swanky hotel on the Maltese coast. Angelina Jolie wrote and directed By The Sea, and it stars in it with her husband Brad Pitt. They slap each other a lot, and look very unhappy and it is all very 1970s glamour. Make of that what you will.
Set in France during the mid-1970s, Vanessa, a former dancer, and her husband Roland, an American writer, travel the country together. They seem to be growing apart, but when they linger in one quiet, seaside town they begin to draw close to some of its more vibrant inhabitants, such as a local bar/café-keeper and a hotel owner.
In a rural community of Kansas there was a young teenager Ben Day (Tye Sheridan channelling Ezra Miller) who was very into the punk rock outfit The Misfits. He filled his sketchbooks with inked antichrist art, and was accused of molesting several of the girls in his volunteer art class at the local primary school. Eventually he was convicted for the murder of his mother (Christina Hendricks), two of his sisters, and possibly his girlfriend (Chloë Grace Moretz) as part of a satanic ritual. The lynch-pin in the ensuing trial was Ben’s surviving sister Libby, who pointed the finger squarely at her bother (after heavy coaching from the prosecution) to tie neatly off the “Kansas Prairie Massacre.”
Emotionally engaging and effortlessly surprising, Dark Places is a narratively complex, fictional amalgamation of all the lessons learned from the so-called Satanic Panic of the 1980s. The film reunites Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult shortly after their very metal mega-adventure along George Miller’s Fury Road. Coincidentally enough, both actors are playing similar roles: that of tough-as-nails survivor (albeit Theron has all her limbs) and almost-innocent neophyte (albeit Hoult has hair) who is looking for truth in a broken world.
The actual events of this horrible evening (and the frazzled motivational strings that lead up to it) are given a measured reveal analogous (albeit cinematically polished) to the case of the West Memphis Three from the mid-1990s; where took decades of work and a plethora of news stories and documentary films to get even a misty picture of the truth. Ditto for the expensive and lengthy McMartin daycare trials of the 1980s and the facts coming to light in the influential auto-biography of Satanic Ritual Abuse, “Michelle Remembers”. In Gilles Paquet-Brenner’s (Sarah’s Key, Walled In) adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name which amalgamates of all these narratives into the type of tale now reserved for season-long prestige television along the lines of True Detective (fun fact: The first season’s story was based loosely events involving The Hosanna Church in Ponchatoula, Louisiana), thick real-crime books such as Errol Morris’s “A Wilderness of Error,” and investigative podcasts such as NPR’s Serial. It is a testament of the screenwriting, acting and editing here that it comes together so satisfyingly. It pleases me that in light of migrating to other media, this kind of filmmaking the investigative thriller, has not completely disappeared.