Roger Ebert (1942-2013)
Yesterday was a sad day for film lovers everywhere. Roger Ebert, film critic, film enthusiast, film festival organizer, cancer survivor, and cancer fighter passed away a little more than a day after announcing his leave of presence. We'll have more on Ebert's legacy and criticism in a special feature next week. In the meantime, today's Chicago Sun-Times has a wealth of information about the man who spent 46 years there. Sadly, we won’t get to read Roger’s opinions on any of the movies below, but his love of movies and his brilliance at writing and talking about them will always inspire.
We begin with The End
When the end of the world comes, the safest place to be could be James Franco’s house, at least for Franco, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson. Their friends, on the other hand, might beg to differ, since a giant sinkhole opens up and swallows Jason Segel, Aziz Ansari, and Rihanna (not to mention what happens to poor Michael Cera). It’s celebrity deaths on parade and there are plenty of jokes as well. The week began with an April Fool’s trailer, continued with a red-band trailer, and finished with a green-band trailer. While the official trailers share many of the same moments, they do have some unique laughs. This Is the End hits theaters on Wednesday, June 12.
Two lethal weapons
Based on Steven Grant’s graphic novel, 2 Guns feels like an old buddy cop picture with a twist. Mark Wahlberg is a Naval intelligence officer, and Denzel Washington is a DEA agent, but neither knows the other is working undercover. After a bank robbery, they are disavowed by their agencies and must team up to survive. Threats come from Edward James Olmos as the head of a Mexican drug cartel and Bill Paxton as a CIA operative. James Marsden and Paula Patton have supporting roles, and Baltasar Kormákur, Wahlberg’s director on Contraband 51, is at the helm of the action-packed pic. 2 Guns hits theaters August 2nd.
Red-band teaser for Only God Forgives
Nicolas Winding Refn’s follow-up to Drive 79 is another slow-burning, violent drama starring Ryan Gosling. The two are in Thailand this time for a story about an exiled gangster seeking revenge for his brother’s murder at his mother’s behest. This leads Gosling to find a retired cop known as the Angel of Death and challenge him to a fight. Kristin Scott Thomas plays Gosling’s mother. Expect another stylized but brutal battle from the director of Bronson and Valhalla Rising. Only God Forgives comes to theaters (in limited release) on July 19th.
The Great Screaming Gatsby
Somehow, with each successive trailer, Baz Luhrmann finds a way to make his 3D adaptation of The Great Gatsby seem more over the top and out of control, whether it’s the musical choices (a soundtrack listing can be found here), the use of slow motion and ultra-vibrant colors, or just the sheer scale of the production. It’s a go for broke filmmaking style that can be divisive but is rarely uninteresting. Even though his last film, Australia 53, failed to capture U.S. audiences, it did well worldwide, so now it’s time to see if this classic American story can translate across oceans. Stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, and Joel Edgerton star in The Great Gatsby, which opens in North American theaters on May 10th before screening on the first night of the Cannes Film Festival on May 15th.
A first look at the Carrie remake
Can Chloe Grace Moretz and Kimberly Peirce top Sissy Spacek and Brian De Palma in this new adaptation of Stephen King’s novel? Moretz has been lining up projects lately with Kick-Ass 2 coming in August, Lynn Shelton’s next film Laggies on the horizon, and this week’s Deadline report that has her and Nicolas Hoult joining Charlize Theron in Gilles Paquet-Brenner’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places. Peirce, who hasn’t made a feature since 2008’s Stop-Loss 61, also signed on to a new project this week, according to Deadline: The Brand, a drama about the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang. Does all this new work bode well for Carrie, the story of a telekinetic teen and her deeply religious and unstable mother (Julianne Moore)? Let’s hope so. The supporting cast includes the reliable Judy Greer as friendly gym teacher Miss Desjardin and Portia Doubleday as one of Carrie’s tormentors. See it in theaters beginning October 18th.
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief 47 came out in 2010, but it feels like it could have been 2005 when the first book was published. The film had a big opening weekend upon its release but then quickly faded, though foreign sales made a sequel possible. And here it is: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. Coming off his success as Charlie in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Logan Lerman is back as Percy, as is Brandon T. Jackson as the horned and hoofed Grover Underwood and Alexandra Daddario as Annabeth Chase. Joining the series are Nathan Fillion as Hermes, Stanley Tucci as Dionysus, and Leven Rambin as Clarisse, Ares’ daughter. The story revolves around the resurrection of Kronos and the search for the Golden Fleece. Look for it in 2D and 3D theaters beginning August 16th.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Beautiful Creatures and The Host failed to replicate the box office success of the young adult phenomena that are the Twilight and Hunger Games sagas, so it’s up to The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones to reverse the trend. Lily Collins stars as Shadowhunter Clary Fray and Jamie Campbell Brown plays Jace Wayland, Collins’ romantic interest/gateway to the ways of demon hunting in this adaptation of the first book in Cassandra Clare’s series. Harald Zwart (2010‘s The Karate Kid 61) directs, and the supporting cast includes Lena Headey (Game of Thrones), Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and Jared Harris (Mad Men). Look for it in theaters beginning August 23, 2013.
Yes, they made another Grown Ups
Believe it or not, this is Adam Sandler’s first sequel, but why he picked Grown Ups 30 to add a “2” to isn’t a mystery. The original made $271 million worldwide, and he’s a good friend to David Spade, Chris Rock, and Kevin James, so why not get together again and make a bunch of money. It’s another family-friendly comedy that critics will hate and many people will go see when it opens on July 12th. Sadly there’s no Rob Schneider in Grown Ups 2, but there is Nick Swardson, Taylor Lautner, and Shaq, so all should be good in Sandlerland.
James Wan, creator of the Saw series and director of 2011’s Insidious 52 helms this haunted house tale starring Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston as parents whose house isn’t safe for anyone. The 1971-set story is based on the files of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, played in the film by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. With a strong cast and a director skilled at creating chills, The Conjuring could be the film to see on July 19th.
It’s a criminal free-for-all
Ethan Hawke starred in one of the surprise horror success of last year, Sinister, and now, after a brief respite in Greece with Julie Delpy and Richard Linklater, he’s back in the genre world with The Purge, a tale that asks what would happen if the government sanctioned a 12-hour period during which all criminal activity was legal. Lena Headey plays his wife and Max Burkholder plays their son, who lets a desperate man (Edwin Hodge) in their home on that special night. Written and directed by James DeMonaco, The Purge hits theaters May 31st.
Like father, like son
Penn Badgley (Gossip Girl) plays singer/songwriter Jeff Buckley and Ben Rosenfield plays his father Tim in this look at the days leading up to Jeff’s performance at his father’s 1991 tribute concert. Badgley’s Jeff works out his daddy issues with the beguiling Imogen Poots, who plays a young staffer at the concert. Daniel Algrant (People I Know 53) directs. Greetings from Tim Buckley comes to theaters May 3rd after debuting on iTunes and VOD on April 16th.
The English Teacher
Julianne Moore stars in an indie comedy about a teacher whose life is disrupted when a former student (Michael Angarano) comes back home after failing as a playwright in New York. Yes, it also stars Greg Kinnear and Lily Collins, but it’s not Stuck in Love; it’s experienced TV director Craig Zisk’s debut feature, The English Teacher. Also in on the fun are Nathan Lane and John Hodgman (and his mustache). See it in limited release May 17th or on VOD starting April 16th.
The Kings of Summer featurette
The Kings of Summer (known as Toy's House when it screened at Sundance) is a coming-of-age tale about three friends who decide to spend the summer building a house in the woods and avoiding any parental oversight. This featurette is an ode to Ohio, where the film was shot, and features moments with the cast that includes Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso and Moises Arias (who play the boys) as well as Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, and Alison Brie. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ debut feature comes to theaters May 31st.
Disney’s Dory, Planes, and Bears
Disney announced this week that Pixar’s Finding Nemo sequel will be titled Finding Dory and will be released November 25, 2015. Andrew Stanton will be back as director and in the story, Dory “will be reunited with her loved ones, learning a few things about the meaning of family along the way.” Along with that good news, Disney released previews of their August 9th release, Planes, as well as the Disneynature film Bears, which won’t come out until April 18, 2014. Check them out below.
Quick notes: Rumors, release dates, casting news and more
- Brad Pitt will star in David Ayer’s war drama Fury about the crew of an American tank battling Germans at the end of WWII. - Deadline
- Zoe Saldana will play Gamora opposite Chris Pratt as Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy. - Heat Vision
- Benedict Cumberbatch will join Emma Stone and Charlie Hunnam in Guillermo del Toro’s haunted house thriller Crimson Peak. - Variety
- Richard Linklater will direct Robert Redford and Nick Nolte in A Walk in the Woods, based on Bill Bryson’s memoir of the same name. - L.A. Times
- Justin Lin will make Fast & Furious 6 his fourth and final FF movie. Fast & Furious 7 will start production in L.A. this summer without him. - THR
- Apichatpong Weerasethakul is prepping Cemetery Kings, his first film since he won the Palme d’Or for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. - THR
- Clint Eastwood could take over the adaptation of the hit musical Jersey Boys to which Jon Favreau was previously attached. - THR
- Tim Burton will direct Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams in Big Eyes, a biopic about painters Margaret and Walter Keane. - Deadline
- Bella Heathcoate (Not Fade Away), Lily James (Downton Abbey), and Margot Robbie are testing for the lead role in Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella. - Deadline
- Part of Steven Soderbergh’s post-big-screen career will include time spent on a 12-part adaptation of John Barth’s Sot-Weed Factor. - EW
- G.I. Joe: Three is now in the works thanks to a stellar ($132 million worldwide) opening weekend for G.I. Joe: Retaliation. - Variety
- Jason Clarke and Omar Sy will star in Stephen Gaghan’s crime thriller The Candy Store. - THR
- Jennifer Garner is in talks to play Kevin Costner’s secretary in Ivan Reitman’s NFL-set film Draft Day. - Variety
- Abigail Spencer will play Jason Bateman’s adulterous wife in Shawn Levy’s adaptation of This Is Where I Leave You, and Timothy Olyphant will play Tina Fey’s former crush while Ben Schwartz plays a rabbi. - THR & Deadline
- Susanne Bier (In a Better World) will direct an adaptation of Helen Schulman’s novel This Beautiful Life. - Coming Soon
- Tom McCarthy (Win Win) will direct and co-write a drama based on the Boston Globe’s reporting on the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal. - THR
- Liam Hemsworth could lead The Raven, Ricardo de Montreuil’s feature length adaptation of his own award-winning short. - Deadline
- The Australian government has given $20 million to Disney and David Fincher to shoot 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in their country. Now it just needs to get the official greenlight.- THR
- William H. Macy will make his feature directing debut with Rudderless. He will star alongside his wife Felicity Huffman (Filliam H. Muffman lives!) as well as Billy Crudup, Anton Yelchin, Selena Gomez, and Laurence Fishburne. - THR
- Brady Corbet, the star of Simon Killer, will write and direct a period piece set in France. - THR
- Jim Sturgess will star opposite Kate Beckinsale in Brad Anderson’s Eliza Graves. - Heat Vision
- Will Arnett has joined Megan Fox in Jonathan Liebesman’s update of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. - Heat Vision
- Catherine Hardwicke will direct the big screen adaptation of Karen Thompson Walker’s debut novel The Age of Miracles. -
- Leighton Meester has joined Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Vincent D’Onofrio, Dax Shepard and Billy Bob Thornton in The Judge. - THR
- Corey Stoll (House of Cards) and Sarah Baker have joined Reese Witherspoon in the Sudanese refugee drama The Good Lie. - Deadline
- Toni Collette, Jean Reno, Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike and Christopher Plummer will star in Peter Chelsom's adaptation of François Lelord’s Hector and the Search for Happiness. - THR
- Kellan Lutz will play the title role in Renny Harlin’s Hercules 3D. - Heat Vision
- Nicole Kidman will have a cameo in Anchorman: The Legend Continues. - THR