Spike Jonze + Siri + rom-com = Her
Her tells the story of Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a heartbroken writer who strikes up a new relationship with Samantha. But this being a Spike Jonze film, there must be something hidden beneath the surface of this standard rom-com premise, right? And there is: “Samantha” is an advanced operating system; think of her as a much more intelligent and insightful Siri, with Scarlett Johansson’s voice. For the first time in four features, following 2009’s Where the Wild Things Are 71, Adaptation 83 and Being John Malkovich 90, Jonze takes solo writing credit, and the results look very promising. With a cast that also includes Rooney Mara and Amy Adams, Her will close the New York Film Festival before opening in theaters on November 20th.
George Clooney's Monument-al search for Oscar gold
George Clooney directs and stars in his own (with producing partner and co-writer Grant Heslov) adaptation of Robert M. Edsel’s book The Monuments Men about a disparate group of art experts brought together to recover valuable artwork stolen by the Nazis during World War II. When he took on all three roles for The Ides of March 67 and Good Night, and Good Luck 80, Clooney earned three Oscar nominations, so expect The Monuments Men to be around come awards time. Joining Clooney behind enemy lines in a race to prevent the destruction of these cultural artifacts will be the impressive cast of Matt Damon (filling in for Daniel Craig, a late scratch due to scheduling difficulties), Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Jean Dujardin, and Hugh Bonneville. See it in theaters beginning December 18th.
I’m the captain now
Director Paul Greengrass returns to the true-story suspense of Bloody Sunday 90 and United 93 90 with this story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates. Tom Hanks stars as Captain Phillips in this adaptation of Phillips' memoir, A Captain’s Story: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs and Dangerous Days at Sea, by Billy Ray, the writer (and director) of Breach and Shattered Glass. Captain Phillips will have its premiere as the opening night film of the New York Film Festival before arriving in theaters on October 11th.
Written by Cormac McCarthy, directed by Ridley Scott, starring Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, and Cameron Diaz. Sold? No? How about these clips between Fassbender and Pitt, Fassbender and Bardem, or Fassbender and Cruz? Still no? How about the tattoos on Cameron Diaz’s back, her polished knife-like nails or her crawling on the hood of Bardem’s convertible? Still not doing it for you? Well how about a cheetah sitting in the driver’s seat of an SUV? It must belong to Diaz’s character, considering those tattoos and her dress, right? Or maybe Bardem’s character’s has a very particular fetish. Either way, don’t you want to find out? The Counselor comes to theaters October 25th.
Thor: The Dark World
Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones) takes over directing duties from Kenneth Branagh to tell the continuing story of Thor as he battles Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) and his army of Dark Elves. Returning to help Thor are his parents, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and Frigga (Renne Russo), and pals Heimdall (Idris Elba), Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), Sif (Jaimie Alexander), and Fandral (now played by Zachary Levi). Natalie Portman is back as well and in danger as Jane Foster, but at least she gets to visit Asgard and punch Loki. With the recent announcement that Loki would not appear in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, this could be Tom Hiddleston’s last appearance as Thor’s treacherous brother, so enjoy it while it lasts. Thor: The Dark World hits theaters November 8th.
The final trailer for Ender’s Game
Based on the award-winning science fiction novel by Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game tells the story of Ender Wiggin (Hugo’s Asa Butterfield), a young man recruited to Battle School, where he trains to to fight an invading alien race known as Formics. After he impresses Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford), Ender is promoted to Command School, where he trains under Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley) and prepares to lead Earth’s fleet into battle. The film comes to theaters with a cloud of controversy and the threat of boycott due to the anti-gay views of Orson Scott Card, but writer-director Gavin Hood (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and the film’s stars have been adamant that, despite Card’s personal views, the story he created has value and tackles subjects like bullying and tolerance. Ender’s Game comes to theaters November 1st.
James Gandolfini, Enough Said
Enough Said, writer-director Nicole Holofcener’s fifth feature to look at the intimate relationships between friends and lovers (following Please Give 78, Friends with Money 68, Lovely & Amazing 75 and Walking and Talking 67), stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a masseuse who begins to fall for her new client’s ex-husband (James Gandolfini in one of his final screen performances). The film might be earning more notoriety due to Gandolfini’s passing, but the consistency of Holofcener’s past output should almost guarantee that the film will be worth seeing. Besides, her lucky charm, Catherine Keener, plays Gandolfini’s ex-wife. Look for Enough Said in theaters beginning September 20th after its premiere at TIFF.
A quick tease for Muppets Most Wanted
This sequel to 2011’s The Muppets 75 will not star Jason Segel or Amy Adams, but director James Bobin is back as is writer Nicholas Stoller, and there are plenty of new actors ready to interact with our favorite muppets as they tour the world and get caught up with a European jewel-heist team. Could it be the Pink Panthers? Joining the fun are Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey, Sean “Diddy or whatever he’s going by these days” Combs and Salma Hayek. Muppets Most Wanted opens on March 21, 2014.
Diablo Cody’s Paradise
Paradise, Diablo Cody’s directorial debut, premiered on DirecTV last night, but those who don’t have access to that satellite TV service will have to wait until October 18th to see this story of Lamb (Julianne Hough), a young woman who survives a plane crash but begins to question her faith. After cutting ties with her mother (Holly Hunter) and community, she goes to Las Vegas to experience all the “worldly pleasures” it has to offer, and she encounters Russell Brand and Octavia Spencer, who are happy to aid in her debauchery.
And While We Were Here
In And While We Were Here, Kate Bosworth stars as a married woman torn between two men on the Italian island of Ischia. One is her husband, played by Iddo Goldberg, and the other is a younger man played by Jamie Blackley. Kat Coiro (Life Happens) writes and directs this feature that becomes available on VOD on August 13th and arrives in theaters on September 13th.
Harvey Scissorhands strikes againBong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer is currently breaking attendance records in Korea, but The Weinstein Company still has not set a U.S. release date. This week, Twitch shed some light on why the film’s release date is still uncertain. It seems that Harvey Weinstein wants to cut 20 minutes from the film and add an opening and closing voiceover. Film critic Tony Rayns (Criterion Collection fans will recognize his name from the Chungking Express and Yi Yi discs, among many others) claims, “TWC people have told Bong that their aim is to make sure the film 'will be understood by audiences in Iowa ... and Oklahoma.’” According to Twitch, Rayns also believes after speaking to the director that “most of the cuts would come in the form of character detail, effectively turning this rich sci-fi thriller into a straightforward action film.” Is it news that a Hollywood studio would characterize the middle of the country and U.S. audiences in general as unable to “understand” a foreign film? No, but it is disheartening when this assumption is made so obvious. Harvey Weinstein has been doing this for years and just recently asked for Wong Kar-Wai to cut The Grandmaster by 20 minutes for its U.S. release. In that case, the director was fine with the alternate cut; let’s hope that Bong Joon-ho feels the same way if he’s forced to make significant changes. If not, perhaps Rayns will compare both cuts on the inevitable Criterion disc.
Quick notes: Rumors, release dates, casting news and more
- Who are the early contenders to play an “older” Batman in the Man of Steel sequel? Josh Brolin, Matthew Goode, Joe Manganiello, Richard Armitage, Max Martini, and Ryan Gosling. - Heat Vision
- Steven Spielberg will not direct American Sniper with Bradley Cooper. - Deadline
- Hugh Grant will play the head of British Naval Intelligence alongside Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, and Elizabeth Debicki in Guy Ritchie’s adaptation of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. - THR
- Christopher McQuarrie confirmed that he will direct Mission: Impossible 5.
- Sylvester Stallone revealed that Harrison Ford would join The Expendables 3 and that Bruce Willis was out of the project, calling Willis “greedy and lazy.” THR later reported that Willis was offered $3 million for four days work, but wanted $4 million.
- Tarsem Singh (Immortals) will direct The Panopticon from a Craig Rosenberg (The Uninvited) script about a man who must race to save humanity after receiving a recorded message from his future self. - The Wrap
- Writer Anthony Peckham (2009’s Sherlock Holmes) has been hired to work on a fifth Bourne Identity movie that will continue the story of Jeremy Renner’s Aaron Cross. - Deadline
- Josh Gad will play comedian Sam Kinison in a biopic to be directed by Larry Charles (Borat, The Dictator). - Deadline
- Sam Rockwell is in talks to join Rosemarie DeWitt in Gil Kenan’s Poltergeist remake. - The Wrap
- John Moore (A Good Day To Die Hard) will direct The Englishman, the story of an ex-Special Forces team coming to the aid of civilians in Sierra Leone. - Variety
- The very busy Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci will somehow find time to write Star Trek 3. - Heat Vision
- Zaraah Abrahams has been cast as the female lead in Spike Lee’s Kickstarter-funded joint.
- Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep will reunite on film for the first time in 17 years to star in an adaptation of Ann Leary’s novel, The Good House. - Deadline
- Leonardo DiCaprio is attached to produce and possibly star in King Harald, based on a pitch from writer Mark L. Smith about the last Viking king. - Deadline
- Meryl Streep, Alexander Skarsgard, and Cameron Monaghan will join Jeff Bridges and Brenton Thwaites in Phillip Noyce’s adaptation of the young adult novel, The Giver. - Deadline & The Wrap
- Marisa Tomei will star alongside John Lithgow and Alfred Molina in Love Is Strange for director Ira Sachs (Keep the Lights On). - Variety
- Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses, Identity Thief) will not direct Horrible Bosses 2. - THR
- Current UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey is in talks to join the cast of Fast & Furious 7. - Variety
- Judy Davis and Kate Winslet will play mother and daughter in writer-director Jocelyn Moorhouse’s adaptation of Rosalie Ham's The Dressmaker. - THR
- Judy Greer is in talks to join George Clooney (her castmate in The Descendants), Hugh Laurie and Britt Robertson in Tomorrowland for writer Damon Lindelof and director Brad Bird. - Deadline
- Sophia Grace Brownlee will play Little Red Riding Hood in Rob Marshall’s adaptation of the musical Into the Woods.- EW
- Jeremy Luke and Joey Russo have joined Christopher Walken in the cast of Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys adaptation. - THR
- Ang Lee’s next film will be a 3D boxing drama set in the 1960s and 70s, looking at the greatest fights during those decades. Peter Morgan will write the script. - Deadline
- Mira Nair will direct Bengali Detective, the story of a Calcutta private eye who dreams of dancing on TV. - Variety
- Ed Harris, Penn Badgley, and Milla Jovovich will star alongside Ethan Hawke in Michael Almereyda's recently announced adaptation of William Shakespeare's Cymbeline. - THR & Deadline
- Two Paranormal Activity movies will come to theaters next year. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, a Latino-targeted spin-off, hits theaters January 3rd, while Paranormal Activity 5 is due on October 24th. - STYD
- James Gray (Two Lovers and the upcoming The Immigrant) will direct White Devil, the story of a white orphan who rises to the top of the Chinese mafia in Boston. - Deadline
- Somehow Now You See Me made $275 million. Now Lionsgate is working on a sequel. - THR
- The sequel to Sharknado will be titled Sharknado 2: The Second One. Makes sense. - EW
- The New York Times reports on the amazing discovery of Too Much Johnson, an early Orson Welles film with an awesome title.