More Malick Already on the Way

The most anticipated film of the year, Terry Malick’s Tree of Life hasn’t even seen the dark of theaters yet and already we’re getting some bits from his next film; an as of yet untitled romance starring Rachel McAdams and Ben Affleck. Apparently shooting concluded last week and we’re looking forward to a 2012 release (yeah, I’ll believe that when I see it).

If Affleck / McAdams doesn’t really turn your crank, here’s the rest of the cast which may excite you: Rachel Weisz, Olga Kurylenko, Javier Bardem and Barry Pepper Nothing else really to report as details, per usual on a Malick film, are pretty much under wraps. Still, excitement ensues. Check out the first released (Days of Heaven-esque) image of the film below.


Fourth Annual Row Three Oscar Live Blog!

Row Three Live Blogs the OscarsI must admit that I had nearly written off this year’s live blog but kudos to Jandy for spurring me on because honestly, we can’t break tradition now that we’re so close to our fifth year anniversary!

Returning for another year, our liveblog will include lots of bitching, lots of cooing and probably a few drinks spilled over keyboards. The races don’t seem qutie as close as in years past but there’s always the cut-throat art direction category which could go to a film with hardcore gay porn connections. OK. So that’s a bit of a stretch but an amusing one. And heck, I can’t remember the last time I was more interested in the foreign language race than that of best picture.

And then there’s the Hathaway/Franco factor. I’m sure that has nothing to do with my excitement (for once!) at seeing the show.

So come on by on Sunday, Februay 27th to join in the fun. The show starts at 5PM pacific time but we’ll likely kick things off at 4:30PM or so with a call for shooters every time Andrew mentions how awesome Penelope Cruz looks.

So mark your calendar, set your reminder, make your trip to the liquor store early, be sure to enter our Oscar Pool Contest and then tune into the fun!

Is the world ready for a dramatic Steve Carell?

It’s not a stretch really. Many great comedic actors have successfully transitioned to the darker side – Robin Williams, Bill Murray, Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey. Hell, even Tom Hanks was considered a comedic actor for well over a decade of his career. So why not Steve Carell? It’s not as if he hasn’t already dabbled in the dramatic with Little Miss Sunshine and Dan in Real Life.

If Mr. Carell gets his way, we are going to see just that. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Carell is attached to star in Dogs of Babel, an adaptation of the popular Carolyn Parkhurst novel of the same name. In the rather depressing book, the story follows a linguistics professor who comes home one day to find his wife dead in their backyard. While the police rule that it was an accidental fall that killed her, the husband thinks begins an obsessive investigation of his own and becomes determined to find the answers to what really happened from the only witness to her death: their dog.

It sounds absurd, but as someone who read the book, it actually plays out rather well – and while it is has darkly humorous moments, the entire book is rather depressing in its examination of a man obsessed with finding closure, weaving back and forth between his quest to teach his dog to communicate and the early years of he and his wife’s relationship.

So what do you think? Does Carell have what it takes to make the transition? And is this a good start to his post-Office career?

Cameron Diaz is a bad, bad teacher.

Remember back when Cameron Diaz used to bearable? Yeah, I know – the 90s were a long time ago now and my teenage crush on her from her There’s Something About Mary and The Mask days has been all but extinguished by schlock such as Charlie’s Angels and a string of by-the-books romcoms. When I see her on screen or in interviews now, I can’t help but grit my teeth and wonder she ever played somebody as meltingly adorable as Mary Jensen.

I find myself rooting for her next movie though – not so much for her, but because:

  • It co-stars my homeboy Jason Segal.
  • It’s directed by Jake Kasdan (“Freaks & Geeks,” The TV Set, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story).
  • It’s written by two writers of “The Office.”
  • I’m curious to see how Justin Timberlake continues to evolve as an actor.
  • The trailer is painfully awful, but trailers for comedies almost always are, containing the more obvious jokes to attract the mainstream audience – and it does contain some music by The Black Keys. So, who knows.

    Okay, okay – in all honesty, my interest level in this is extremely low. I just wanted to post that picture of Diaz from The Mask. I hate to get all superficial up in here, but good lord, what happened to her and when did she get so obnoxious?

    Ben Mendelsohn and Scoot McNairy to star opposite Brad Pitt in “Cogan’s Trade”

    Ben Mendelsohn and Scoot McNairy are two actors who really only came to my attention in the past year. An Australian actor (represent!), Ben Mendelsohn has acted in numerous local films and television programs as well as the occasional bit part in Hollywood movies including Australia and Knowing. International cinephiles however would most likely know him from his recent turn as the mentally unstable criminal Andrew “Pope” Cody in David Michod’s critically acclaimed Animal Kingdom.

    McNairy, meanwhile, having previously been restricted to bit parts and TV roles, recently starred in the low budget sci-fi parable Monsters, a film that, in light of its surprising lack of special effects, relied largely on the strong performances of its leads.

    Ben Mendelsohn (right) in Animal Kingdom

    Scoot McNairy in Monsters

    In light of the impressive work both men turned in last year, it comes as welcome news that they have both been cast opposite Brad Pitt in Andrew Dominik’s upcoming crime film Cogan’s Trade According to Variety, McNairy and Mendelsohn will play “two young junkies who perpetrate a heist that takes place during a high-stakes poker game held under the protection of the mob.”

    Brad Pitt will play a mob enforcer who is investigating the robbery. The film will also mark the second time that Pitt and director Andrew Dominik have worked together, having previously collaborated on The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

    Mendelsohn also recently finished shooting Trespass with Nicholas Cage, and The Killer Elite with Robert DeNiro, while McNairy is reportedly in talks to take parts in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi film Prometheus and Timur Bekmambetov’s presidential…um…biopic, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. All in all, it looks like we’re going to be seeing a lot more of these two guys in the next couple for years. Are you as excited as I am?

    Jay Cheel’s BEAUTY DAY Trailer

    Friend of Rowthree, Documentary film writer and co-podcaster, Jay Cheel has been entertaining the blogosphere for years with the FilmJunk podcast as well as short films starring the eccentric Reed Farrington, Video Game faux-docs, and Mario Bava inspired horror shorts. He has stepped up to the territory of feature documentary filmmaking with Beauty Day.

    Before Johnny Knoxville and the Jackass crew were were risking their lives, and common decency for the sake of your entertainment, before Tom Green made an ass of himself in public for shits and giggles, there was Ralph Zavadil, a resident of St. Catherines, Ontario (Canada) that used to broadcast his dangerous and highly amusing stunts and general mayhem on the local community access channel, in the guise of his alter-ego, Cap’n Video. Cheel has turned the trials and tribulations of Zavadil into a feature documentary that captures Cap’n Video 15 years later against the backdrop of his famous shows, including a ‘neck-breaking’ pool jump, skiing off his roof and lighting his face on fire amongst other things. Beauty Day will be screening at the Museum of Modern Art on Sunday March 20th (and a follow-up screening on the 21st) before hitting the festival circuit, and a Canadian Theatrical release this spring. But for now, enjoy Ralph doing what he does best, lighting stuff on fire, casually dropping F-Bombs, and delightfully wrecking stuff! Cheel has an eye for wide-screen cinematography, and a love for John Carpenter, Errol Morris and Werner Herzog , so there is no doubt that this will be gorgeous on the big screen.

    After a serious on-camera accident and a controversial Easter episode, the Cap’n was pulled from the airwaves and eventually faded away into community cable obscurity. Now, fifteen years later, Ralph has decided to revisit the Cap’n in celebration of the 20th birthday of the creation of the character. With the help of his best friend Robert, he’ll attempt to get back on the air one last time and give the Cap’n the send off he deserves. In the process, we revisit all of the ups and downs in Ralph’s life and learn that those who are truly passionate about their art always manage to find an outlet and surround themselves with like minded, creative people.

    The trailer is tucked under the seat.
    Would you like to know more…?

    RDJ and PT Anderson may join forces.

    It looks as if the stars may be aligning and the gods are smiling down on us. Word is coming in from The Hollywood Reporter that Robert Downey Jr. is in official talks to take on the lead role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s next film, an adaptation of the 1970s-set private eye novel Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon. THR briefly describes the premise:

    Vice is a comparatively accessible Pynchon work that tells the story of a stoner detective who gets wrapped up in a number of mysteries in 1969 L.A. while the Manson Family trial growls in the background.

    After dropping out of Disney’s Oz, the Great and Powerful, Downey has been looking for something to fill the void in his schedule and this looks to be it. I am yet to read the book, but I have always been aware of it, and it seems to be a novel that appeals to both critics and casual readers alike. Naturally, my attraction comes to seeing Downey playing detective yet again and working with a director who always brings the best out of every actor that he works with.

    To provide you with a little more sense of the tone, here’s a trailer for the book, which was released in 2009 by Penguin Group:

    DVD Review: Faster

    Faster Poster

    Director: George Tillman Jr. (Notorious, Men of Honor, Soulfood)
    Screenplay: Tony Gayton & Joe Gayton
    Producers: Tony Gayton, Liz Glotzer, Martin Shafer, Robert Teitel
    Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Billy Bob Thornton, Carla Gugino, Maggie Grace, Moon Bloodgood, Jennifer Carpenter, Tom Berenger
    MPAA Rating: R
    Running time: 98 min.

    I like Dwayne Johnson the action star but his turn in a number family films in the last few years hasn’t appealed to me and I’ve been patiently waiting for his re-emergence as the action hero. The release of Faster last November marked his return as action star but the film came among a wide assortment of other, more dramatic stuff and it came and went before I had a chance to see Johnson kick butt (or in this case, shoot people) but with the film’s appearance on DVD this week, the time came to finally catch up with the picture and the only thing I’m really thankful for is that I didn’t spend $12 to see it.

    Faster Movie StillIt’s not that Faster is completely awful but it’s a pretty bland tale of revenge. The film opens with Johnson as he’s being released from prison. We don’t know what he’s been in for (yet) but as soon as he gets out, he’s on the hunt. We later find out that he was the driver for his brother during a robbery that ended badly when a rival gang came into their hideout, killed everyone (or so they thought), and took the cash. Johnson is now out and seeking revenge for the guys that killed his brother in cold blood. While he’s driving from place to place killing these guys, the mastermind responsible for killing Johnson’s crew hires a professional to dispense of Johnson but the killer has trouble and the next thing you know Johnson is being tracked by the killer as well as a pair of cops investigating the apparently unrelated murders.

    You may have noticed that in that entire paragraph made no mention of any character names. Turns out writers Tony and Joe Gayton didn’t think these characters deserved any and the film’s main male characters all lack names. We simply know Johnson as “Driver,” Oliver Jackson-Cohen who plays the hired gun as “Killer” and Billy Bob Thornton, one half of the police duo, as “Cop.” I’m not sure what the point of this is but it’s kind of lame.

    Would you like to know more…?

    DVD Review: Story of Jen

    Story of Jen DVD Cover

    Director: François Rotger (The Passenger)
    Screenplay: François Rotger
    Producers: Nicolas Comeau, Tom Dercourt
    Starring: Laurence Leboeuf, Marina Hands, Daniel Pilon, Torny Ward
    MPAA Rating: R
    Running time: 107 min.

    French Canadian director François Rotger is a bit of a mystery to me. When I first spotted Story of Jen on the DVD release schedule, I was drawn to the fact that this was a Canadian film I’d heard and seen nothing about. Curiosity won out and it paid off for Story of Jen is a powerful piece of work.

    Story of Jen Movie StillStory of Jen, Rotger’s second full length feature, started as a novel based on a combination of fiction and biographical material from one of his friends. As the story developed, Rotger saw his next film and by 2009, the film had premiered at Locarno and Laurence Leboeuf had won a Jutra award for her performance as the film’s titular character.

    Jen is a teen girl who doesn’t quite fit in. She wants badly to experience love but no one pays her much attention. As if this typical high school problem wasn’t traumatizing enough, Jen and her mother Sarah are also dealing with the sudden and violent death of her Jen’s father.

    A month after the death, his half-brother arrives at their home offering Sarah a helping hand during these tough times. She seems reluctant but agrees and Ian moves into the property though his help is non-existent and he spends his days drinking, smoking and sleeping. Melvin, Jen’s grandfather, is concerned of what people will think of a man living on the property so quickly after the death so he finds the able bodied man a job on a nearby farm. In the meantime, Ian has struck a friendship with Jen who welcomes the advances and silently prays that he will find it within himself to have a relationship with her. The two have an encounter which ends with Ian venturing into the wilderness and Jen returning home to deal with the consequences of their encounter.

    Would you like to know more…?

    DVD Review: Beauty & the Briefcase

    Beauty and the Briefcase DVD Cover

    Director: Gil Junger (10 Things I Hate About You)
    Screenplay: Michael Horowitz, Daniella Brodsky (novel)
    Producers: Hilary Duff, Richard Fischoff
    Starring: Hilary Duff, Jennifer Coolidge, Jaime Pressly, Matt Dallas, Chris Carmack, Michael McMillian, Amanda Walsh
    MPAA Rating: NA
    Running time: 83 min.

    Beauty and the Briefcase Movie StillI’ve always been prone to the Hilary Duff charm. There’s something about her that draws me in. Sadly, her choice in films has been less than appealing and the string of bad romantic comedies is only occasionally broken by something more worthwhile (I quite enjoyed 2004’s A Cinderella Story and though it wasn’t great, Duff herself was pretty good in War, Inc.) but watching Beauty & the Briefcase, I was reminded of how badly these projects can go and how important a good script is to a story.

    Directed by 10 Things I Hate About You’s Gil Junger, from an adaptation of a Daniella Brodsky novel, Duff plays Lane, an aspiring writer who has just published her first story in a local fashion magazine and has aspirations (complete with a wall shrine) to work at Cosmopolitan. Her photographer roommate/best friend, goes out of her way to snag Lane an interview at Cosmo and she’s assigned a story about finding love in the corporate world. The pitch is that she’ll get a job in finance and only date guys in suits in an effort to find Mr. Right. Never mind the fact that the premise itself is ludicrous and full of moral dilemmas, some of that can be overlooked if the movie is fun but this one doesn’t even measure up on the fun factor.

    Would you like to know more…?

    Intense, hyper-violent trailer for Korean revenge film “I Saw the Devil”

    Beautifully scored, stylishly edited and unflinchingly violent, if this recent red-band trailer is anything to go by, I Saw the Devil looks to be the latest addition to the list of excellent Korean films making their way to the West. Directed by Kim Ji-woon (The Good, The Bad and The Weird, A Bittersweet Life), the film tells the story of a secret agent (Lee Byung-hun, The Good, The Bad and the Weird) who sets out on a quest of bloody vengeance against a brutal serial killer (Choi Min-sik, Oldboy) who murdered his fiancé.

    The movie scored strong reviews coming out of TIFF and Sundance (including this largely positive one from our own Kurt Halfyard), and is set to go into limited release in the United States on March 4th. Click here to see if it’s playing near you.