Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Gone Girl : First trailer stars Ben Affleck and SHE

After all my months of whining about Ben Affleck being not quite right for Nick Dunne - too old, not the lean and lanky look I imagined Nick to be - now that I've watched the just-released trailer I'm beginning to see just how right for the role Ben is! My son says Affleck has a face you want to hit which is Nick to a T. 

As for Rosamund Pike as Amy, while the song 'She' is all about her, the actor is barely seen in the trailer, emphasizing that Amy Dunne has in fact, gone missing.  The old Charles Aznavour tune, first used for the British TV show Seven Faces of Woman in the 70's, is still mesmerizing. I'm partial to the Elvis Costello version used in Notting Hill but this rendition from Richard Butler of The Psychadelic Furs haunts in much the same way. It's deliciously ironic used here, don't you think?

While we get glimpses of Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry), Go (Carrie Coon) and Detective Boney (Kim Dickens) I didn't catch Desi Collings (Neil Patrick Harris) or Andie (Emily Ratajkowski), although it's possible they were standing in the shadows. There was a sense of darkness, not just thematically as a fair amount of scenes take place in shadows and half-light. If you haven't seen it yet, give the trailer a look and see what you think. So often there's just too much spoilery stuff in trailers but I like that this one doesn't go too far; the mystery is intact. I'm sort of excited to see how the film differs from the book - we already know the ending has changed but how? We'll find out October 3rd.

Monday, April 14, 2014

FIRST LOOK: Gone Girl poster is quite the tease

Fresh, gorgeous, contemporary and quite the tease!

Now this is what I call AWESOME! The first poster for Gone Girl has landed with quite a splash. If the very un Hollywood graphic  - where are the stars? get me Ben Affleck STAT- is any indication, David Fincher's take on the Gillian Flynn bestselling thriller could actually be thrilling. Could character and story trump celebrity? Wouldn't that be awesome. 

Couldn't wait to share this with you! What do you think, are you as intrigued as I am to see the movie? I'm really curious to see how the new ending - Gillian Flynn and director David Fincher collaborated and came up with a different way to finish the story which sounds great to me; I know I'm not alone with finding the original ending problematic.
Gone Girl comes out in theaters October 3.

Philip Seymour Hoffman stars in upcoming God's Pocket

Catching Fire won "Movie of the year' last night at the MTV awards; Josh Hutcherson and Sam Claflin accepted the award while honoring their deceased castmate Philip Seymour Hoffman. Hoffman, who plays Plutarch Heavensbee. It's weird to think the last time we see Philip Seymour Hoffman it will be in Mockingjay Part Two due out November of 2015. Without casting aspersion on the Hunger Games series, it's not the kind of role by which I want to remember the consummate actor; based on the trailers alone both A Most Wanted Man and the upcoming God's Pocket offer something meaty for Philip Seymour Hoffman fans to hunger for, in parts worthy of his talent. We looked at the trailer for A Most Wanted Man yesterday; let's zero in on God's Pocket directed by John Slattery (Mad Men) costarring John Turturro, Richard Jenkins and Christina Hendricks today. The film will be released May 5.  Link to the God's Pocket trailer via AccessHollywood.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

FIRST TRAILER: A Most Wanted Man starring Philip Seymour Hoffman

I first wrote about A Most Wanted Man when the film made its debut this past January at Sundance. We had no idea then that we'd soon lose its star, Philip Seymour Hoffman, making the film not only one of Hoffman's last but one that will surely get a lot examination in light of his death. Hoffman also appears in the Hunger Games adaptations, Mockinjay parts one and two, and the upcoming God's Pocket based on the Peter Dexter novel, all of which can be found  my guide to this year's films based on books.

Lionsgate has just released the trailer for the A Most Wanted ManBesides the obvious mastery of the German accent, it looks like the actor turned in another brilliant Hoffmanesque performance. Robin Wright, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, and Daniel Bruhl.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

GONE GIRL - FIRST LOOK! The Official Trailer Sneak Peek has landed.

Finally! The trailer for Gone Girl is almost here; the promo for the David Fincher-directed, Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike starring thriller based on Gillian Flynn's best seller will debut this Monday on Entertainment Tonight. In the meantime, ET has released a teaser. What do you think of this first look at Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne? He has a bit of a temper, eh?

The Fault in Our Stars ... The Songs on the Soundtrack, the complete playlist

I hear you YA types out there are freaking out and breaking the internet with your love for The Fault in Our Stars again. This time it's because Grouplove, Charli XCX, Lykke Li, and Birdy all tweeted song titles of what are thought to be their contributions to the TFIOS soundtrack. It's a young diverse bunch in line with the filmmakers direct appeal to their target audience - teens - via the contemporary music. 

UPDATED 4/12/2014: The complete playlist was released today; the soundtrack will be available to pre-order on iTunes on 4/13/2014. 

1. Ed Sheeran – All Of The Stars
2. Jake Bugg – Simple As This
3. Grouplove – Let Me In
4. Birdy & Jaymes Young – Best Shot
5. Kodaline – All I Want
6. Tom Odell – Long Way Down
7. Charli XCX – Boom Clap
8. STRFKR – While I’m Alive
9. Indians – Oblivion
10. The Radio Dept. – Strange Things Will Happen
11. Afasi & Filthy – Bomfallarella
12. Ray LaMontagne – Without Words
13. Birdy – Not About Angels
14. Lykke Li – No One Ever Loved
15. M83 – Wait
16. Birdy – Tee Shirt *

Along with the release of the music selections the marketing for the film includes an online contest that enable fans to actually be 'in' a The Fault in Our Stars music video. IDOLATOR announced the news, slyly keeping mum about the name of the musical artist but I have a hunch it may be Ed Sheeran. Sheeran who became widely known to the world after appearing as a mentor on The Voice last season is without doubt an amazing and talented songwriter/ artist. I've added video of Sheeran singing "I See Fire" which he wrote for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug for oldies like me who may not have Sheeran in their personal collections. 
[I was wrong about this next bit, bummer!  :(]
There's also a chance that Nat Wolff and brother Alex, whose recording of I Won't Love You Any Less made it onto the soundtrack for director Josh Boone's Stuck In Love will be involved. I wouldn't be at all surprised; Wolff who plays Isaac, is a favorite of the director's, I've included some video of Nat and Alex and their gorgeous music below.

Here's IDOLTOR's announcement about the music video contest -
Just ahead of the sweeping love story’s release, one of the soundtrack artists (sorry, we can’t reveal who it is just yet!) will be filming a very special video in the next few weeks…and we want to give you a chance to be a part of the action. You want in?

A chance to be included in a very special music video for The Fault in Our Stars.
Post an Instagram telling us how The Fault in Our Stars has given you the courage to live, love, and make life awesome. Tag it #TFIOSEncouragements for a chance to be included in a very special music video for the movie.
Good luck, and make sure to check back here on Saturday for the soundtrack’s tracklisting!

Hypable shared the titles noting Birdy's contribution was cited as being No More Angels but fans seem to think it's actually Birdy's latest song, No Angels. I couldn't say but I've included it here. It's dark and plaintive, achingly beautiful, it sounds like it should be part of the score.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Railway Man starring Colin Firth: Two reviews

I haven't been able to see The Railway Man, now out in theaters in Los Angeles and New York; in lieu of my take, I'm posting two reviews. The first is from my hometown newspaper, Gary Goldstein in the Los Angeles Times who rather liked the movie. Following the positive review is Claudia Puig in USA Today; Ms. Puig was not a fan. Take your pick:)

The Railway Way
by Gary Goldstein in The Los Angeles Times

An alternately delicate and brutal retelling of the memoir by former World War II British Army officer Eric Lomax, "The Railway Man" is an impressively crafted, skillfully acted, highly absorbing journey into a dark corner of world history.

Colin Firth plays Lomax in 1980, more than 35 years after being tortured at a Japanese labor camp in Thailand. He learns that Takashi Nagase, the Japanese interpreter at the helm of that cruel, unforgettable punishment, is still alive. Lomax will eventually cross continents to confront his erstwhile captor and hopefully quell the post-traumatic stress disorder that has plagued the self-dubbed "railway enthusiast" for decades.

The film, as directed by Jonathan Teplitzky from a script by Frank Cottrell Boyce and Andy Paterson, takes anything but a direct approach toward that tense, final showdown between Lomax and Nagase (Hiroyuki Sanada). Instead, it effectively toggles between the latter-day Lomax as he meets and marries the compassionate Patti (Nicole Kidman) as a former nurse who struggles to understand her tight-lipped new husband's longtime trauma) and flashes back to a young Lomax's (Jeremy Irvine) horrific time as a prisoner of war under the young Nagase's (Tanroh Ishida) iron thumb following the 1942 fall of Singapore.

The nightmare of the military conflict and the attendant torture, all set against the inhumane construction of the Burma-Siam Railway (a.k.a. the Death Railway), are grippingly re-created. Low key but equally compelling are the emotionally resonant scenes of the Lomaxes navigating their early days of marriage, times that swing from idyllic to fraught based on Eric's often crippling PTSD.

A fine Stellan SkarsgÄrd also appears in the pivotal role of Finlay, Lomax's best friend and fellow labor camp detainee (played in flashback by a strong Sam Reid), who crosses a line to help Patti better understand her husband's anguish.

Superb cinematography by Garry Phillips and a stirring score by David Hirschfelder add much to this powerful, evocative film, which is capped by a cathartic coda that might have felt a tad too "cinematic" had the events not actually taken place.

The Railway Man
by Claudia Puig in USA Today

The grim experience of a Scottish man tortured in a Japanese labor camp during World War II forms the backbone of The Railway Man.

But for a well-acted movie about the horrors of war and the lure of revenge, it's surprisingly dull and starchy (**1/2 out of four; rated R; opens Friday in New York and Los Angeles).

Colin Firth is sadly repressed as Eric Lomax, a former British army officer suffering from flashbacks and what would today be labeled Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He is superbly low-key as he stoically withstands his inner torment, bringing characteristic gravitas to the role.

Based on Lomax's autobiography, from which the film takes its name, the story flashes back and forth between the early 1980s, when the middle-aged Eric meets Patti (Nicole Kidman) on a train and falls in love with her, and the early 1940s, after the fall of Singapore and during his wartime incarceration in a prison camp in Burma. The prisoners of war were made to work on building the Thai/Burma railroad while enduring hideously vindictive treatment.

As a young soldier Eric is played by Jeremy Irvine, who does a terrific job in the role. During his time in the camp Eric fashions a crude radio in order to establish connection with the outside world. When the Japanese authorities discover it, he's savagely tortured. The brutality is overseen by young interpreter Takashi Nagase (Hiroyuki Sanada).

Though his life took a decidedly positive turn when he married Patti, Eric grows withdrawn and increasingly haunted by his experience in Burma. Despite his happy marriage, his demons begin to overtake him. He attends regular meetings with fellow ex-prisoners of war, though these are hardly group therapy sessions. The men don't do a lot of talking. His closest friend among them is Finlay (Stellan Skarsgard), who urges Eric to track down Takashi. Patti also turns to Finlay to attempt to understand what is plaguing her taciturn husband. One can't help but wonder how Eric coped in the decades between his incarceration and the time he met Patti.

Kidman is not given much to do except be expressionlessly supportive in a non-showy role. Their initial romance is dispensed with in a series of sentimental montages, then she spends much of the rest of the movie looking mildly concerned.

The film's climax takes Eric back to Burma to face down Takashi, who is working as a tour guide at the same prison camp where he oversaw the barbarous treatment of Eric. He says he is there to expiate his guilt, and insure that later generations don't forget what happened there. Eric, in his slow-burning anger, won't accept his apologies. Their meeting, however, lacks the drama it should after all the intervening years.

Eric has the opportunity to inflict pain upon Takashi, but rises above such base instincts. Ultimately, Eric forgives his abuser and the pair become lifelong friends.

Though both Firth and Sanada are excellent in their parts, they are limited by the bland script by Frank Ctrl Boyceand Andy Paterson, which doesn't do justice to the subject matter. It's no doubt challenging to visually depict emotional healing and catharsis, to delicately balance the darkly savage material with the uplifting, tender conclusion.

As a celebration of compassion and forgiveness, the film is laudable. But the slow drama, as directed by Jonathan Teplitzky, suffers from a plodding pace and cliched dialogue, undercutting much of the power of an inherently fascinating account. The historical drama makes the viewer wish they'd read the book rather than watched the movie.

So have you decided? Will you be watching or not? 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Movie based on Me Before You gets a director

I've been Jones-ing for word on the adaptation of Jojo Moyes Me Before You. If you've read my take you know I'm a huge fan of Moyes best-seller. And while I was aware that YA scripting superstars, Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber had been signed to write I learned from Deadline that the author had already written the first draft. According to Deadline anyway. I hope that didn't go down too hard with Ms. Moyes; she's a fantastic novelist but it doesn't necessarily follow that she'd make a fantastic screenwriter. Neustadter and Weber probably couldn't write a book between them but when it comes to screenplays, the pair rules the YA indie world. The duo who wrote the original screenplay (500) Days of Summer are doing gangbuster business in the adaptation department, counting The Spectacular Now, and the upcoming The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns, and Where'd You Go, Bernadette among their list of credits. I'm a major fan, and actually, I dunno, they might even nail a novel if they tried. 

Benedict Cumberbatch, Faye Castelow/After the Dance

The big news is that a director has been hired - which also means the script must be well in hand and it's time to start thinking seriously about casting. I'm excited about the choice; Thea Sharrock, the acclaimed British theater director. The project would be her feature film debut but the woman has a super impressive resume including Daniel Radcliffe’s 2008 Broadway debut Equus, Danny DeVito in The Sunshine Boys, The Misanthrope with Keira Knightley and Damien Lewis, and the Olivier Award winning After the Dance starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Next up is Kevin Spacey as Clarence Darrow in the Old Vic production of Darrow. Plus the BBC's Call the Midwife, and The Hollow Crown (trailer below). That's who is directing Me Before You. So yeah, I'm excited. 

Deadline's sums up the plot nicely or read my take for more details.
The novel tells the story of Lou, a small-town girl caught between dead-end jobs, and Will, a success all his life who finds himself wheelchair-bound after an accident. He finds no reason to live until they meet when he hires her as his caretaker for six months, and she becomes determined to prove to him life is worth living. They head for a series of adventures together, which changes each of them.
Sharrock told EW she loved the book said she is determined to cast Brits in the roles of Louisa and Will. 
"Sharrock is also mindful of preserving the British specificity of the book when it comes to casting her leads. She knows it’s fraught territory whenever an American is cast as a beloved British heroine. Think Anne Hathaway in One Day or Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones. Both were derided when initially announced, yet Zellweger eventually overcame what Hathaway in One Day couldn’t. 
“It’s very early days, so I can’t make any promises, but I will certainly say that we are absolutely aiming to [cast British actors] for that reason,” says Sharrock. “I don’t want anyone to have to go through that again. [Both Bridget Jones and One Day] tell us just how careful we have to be.” 

The Hollow Crown trailer 

Me Before You ... Time to get casting!

Photo Credit: Tristram Kentam/The Guardian

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Flash Boys: The latest from the writer of Money Ball and The Blind Side is heading to the movies

Moneyball, the movie anyway, was fantastic. Never read the book from Michael Lewis and I won't be reading Flash Boys either, just released at the end of March. Chances are though, I'll be watching the film based on Lewis' book. According to Deadline, Flash Boys - what a great title, eh? - has been acquired by Sony Pictures and Scott Rudin who produced the hit adaptation of Moneyball starring Brad Pitt, along with Jonah Hill in a career-changing role.

Flash Boys is about some Wall Street types who banded together to reform the stock market, changing the rules and thwarting the ability of high-frequency traders to dominate the stock market using insider info. According to Lewis, many of these men walked away from mega-money positions in order to investigate big banks, stock exchanges and high-frequency trading firms. I have a feeling that a guy like the one played by Jonah Hill in The Wolf of Wall Street would be at the top of the Flash Boys hit list.

Lewis long list of non-fiction credits includes The Blind Side which earned Sandra Bullock her Oscar; the author has a couple of other books in development - The Big Short about the financial crisis of 2008 (Brad Pitt is reportedly attached) and Liar's Poker based on his own days as a bond trader at Salomon Brothers in the 1980's.