Netflix Is Giving Us #CillianMurphy and #TomHardy in the BBC’s “Peaky Blinders”!

Peaky Blinders, television, Netflix,  Cillian Murphy, poster

Netflix has gotten into the original series business in a big way the past couple of years, with game changers “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black“. Now, thanks to our friends (sorry, I feel like I have a relationship with these people) Harvey and The Weinstein Company, along with Endemol (which also brings us “Hell on Wheels” among others) the company has picked up both seasons of the BBC series “Peaky Blinders”, which some are calling the UK’s answer to “Boardwalk Empire”.  As I’ve said before, I don’t often feel the need to bring television to this blog, so when I do, you know it’s something I consider special. Like Boardwalk, now airing its Swan Song season on HBO, “Peaky Blinders” is a huge hit. Both shows are about “gangsters” of a sort, but at least one other thing they have in common is that both series have managed to lure a great many actors known primarily for their film work, to series television, including series star Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill, Helen McCrory, Charlie Creed Miles, Annabelle Wallis and Paul Anderson. In season two, Tom Hardy joins the cast. (Yes, that Tom Hardy). Who might have induced an actor with a schedule as full as Hardy’s to take on a role in a television show, you ask? Why, Steven Knight, the writer/director of Locke, who happens to be the creator and writer of “Peaky Blinders”, that’s who. *demented poodle dance*

‘Peaky Blinders’ takes place in 1919 Birmingham, England, and follows the Shelby family, who lead the title group — a feared gang named for their practice of sewing razor blades into the peaks of their caps. Until now they have made money from illegal bookmaking, protection and the black market, but when a crate of guns from the local arms factory falls into his possession, Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) recognizes an opportunity to move up in the world. As rival gangs, communist revolutionaries and IRA Fenians descend on the city in pursuit of the weapons, Winston Churchill dispatches a ruthless police chief (Sam Neill) from Belfast to impose order on an increasingly lawless city and recover the guns.

The first six episodes of the first season will be available starting after 12:01am PT on Tuesday September 30 and the second season (in which Hardy will appear along with his new wife, Charlotte Riley, and Noah Taylor) will be available sometime in November.
The BBC Two, season two promo:

Netflix teaser:

Matthew McConaughey’s New Commercials For Lincoln Are Peak McConaughey

S. A. Young:

Uproxx declares that “Matthew McConaughey can act the shit out of anything!”

To which I reply, “Yes. Yes he can”. And while we’re here, may I just add that that is not only something I’ve been saying for years, but the fact that it is now a universal truth is still more proof to anyone in need of a public perception make-over that rehabilitation and rejuvenation are possible. *coughYouKNOWwhoI’mtalkingaboutcough* It won’t be long before “McConaisance” becomes a noun recognized by the Oxford Dictionary.

Originally posted on UPROXX:

A few things:

  • Matthew McConaughey and Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn have teamed up to create a series of commercials for Lincoln, an automaker McConaughey has been tied to at least since his starring role in the 2011 film The Lincoln Lawyer.
  • The commercials have kind of a True Detective-y feel, in part because they remind me of the famous scenes where he creeped Woody Harrelson out as they drove from crime scene to crime scene, and in part because McConaughey is wearing the Rust Cohle uniform of rumpled white dress shirts, loosened neckties, and leather jackets.
  • There are three commercials (so far!), but my favorite by miles and miles and miles is the one at the top of the screen, because McConaughey gives the line “That’s a big bull” the FULL MCCONAUGHEY at about the 0:10 mark, and I have not been able to stop laughing since…

View original 77 more words

Pics and Clips of Simon Pegg in the TIFF Bound Hector and the Search for Happiness

Hector and the Search for Happiness, Movie, Poster, Simon Pegg

courtesy Relativity Media

We love Simon Pegg. Whether he’s paired with friend and frequent collaborator Nick Frost while beating off zombies with a cricket bat¹, busting the village serial killer², befriending aliens³or thwarting an alien  invasion♠,  or without, as a has been comedian and would be blackmailer♣, robbing graves for fun and profit♥, going boldly where no man has gone before♦ or choosing to accept missions with Ethan Hunt◊, if Simon Pegg is in it, we’re there. (Why have I decided to use the royal “we”? I have no idea.)

In any case, Pegg’s latest, Hector and the Search for Happiness, directed by Peter Chesolm, is something of a departure. As the title might suggest, Pegg plays a man searching for inner peace. Hector is a psychiatrist who, having lost the ability to offer insight to his own patients embarks on a quest to figure out the formula for happiness. The journey that takes him from Africa to Shanghai to Tibet.

Ahead of its North American debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, Relativity has released the clips below
These first two, via Flickering Myth, feel like vintage Pegg:

and finally, via The Playlist, is a clip that would seem to give us a better feel for the tone:

If not, who knows. The director has had more luck with television than his theatrical endeavors, which include Hannah Montana: The Movie, Shall We Dance, Serendipity and the almost universally reviled Town & Country, so I’m not sure what to expect from him.  The screenplay, based on the novel “Le voyage d’Hector ou la recherche de bonheur” by Françoise Lelord, has three credited writers including the director, Maria von Heland, and Tinker Lindsay.  But, as I said, on the strength of Pegg , not to mention the  supporting cast, which includes Toni Collette, Rosamund Pike (who last appeared with Pegg in 2013’s The World’s End), Stellan Skarsgård, Jean Reno, and Christopher Plummer, I’m keeping an open mind. Hector and the Search For Happiness, which was released in the UK last month, opens in the US on September 19.

Here’s the latest trailer as well:

1. Shaun of the Dead
2. Hot Fuzz
3. Paul
♠. The World’s End
♣. “Mob City”
♥. Burke and Hare
♦. Star Trek and Star Trek: Into Darkness
◊. MI:3, 4 and the upcoming 5

#TomHardy “Keeping It Real” For #DennisLehane, #MichaëlRoskam in #TheDrop BTS Featurette

 

The Drop, Tom Hardy, movie, photo, puppy, Dennis Lehane, Michael Roskam

Is there anything cuter than Tom Hardy and a puppy? The answer is no…no, there is not.

Belgian director Michaël Roskam‘s first English-language feature, The Drop, with Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and featuring the late James Gandolfini‘s final screen performance, “drops” in less than two weeks.

The film, in which a man called Bob Saginowski (Hardy) finds himself at the center of a robbery gone awry and entwined in an investigation that digs deep into the neighborhood’s past where friends, families, and foes all work together to make a living – no matter the cost, and one I’ve been talking about for some time (if you’re not a fan of any of the above, sorry, but there’s more to come) was made from the first ever screenplay by writer Dennis Lehane, who adapted is own short story.  He has subsequently turned the screenplay into a novel, out next Tuesday, September 2.

The screenplay itself was based on an earlier Lehane short story called “Animal Rescue,” (the original title for the film- “what was wrong with that?”, I have to ask), which originally appeared in a short story collection called “Boston Noir”, about a killing that results from a lost pit bull.

The Drop, Tom Hardy, movie, photo, puppy, Dennis Lehane, Michael Roskam

See? Told ya.

As the writer explains in the featurette below, that story was based on a book he started more than a decade ago, but shelved.   After the movie was made, he was asked to do a “novelization” of the script, an idea he hated, but found that there were things from from the original novel that didn’t make it to the story or the script plus things original to the script that were cut either from that screenplay or from the finished film, that he still wanted to explore. Add all of that together and the result was a new book, now also called, “The Drop”.

In the interest of full disclosure, I an ardent Lehane fan. He’s one of the few contemporary writers that I feel will always merit the purchase of an actual book, as opposed to the digital version.

Lehane’s work, whatever form it takes, seems to lend itself particularly well to the screen. There have already been memorable adaptations of the novels Mystic River (dir. by Clint Eastwood), Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese) and Gone Baby Gone (which put Ben Affleck on the directorial map). Once Batfleck finally finishes work for Zack Snyder‘s Superman sequel, he’ll be back behind the camera for Live By Night, another Lehane adaptation.

For his part, Lehane is also writing episodes of the final season of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” (JMHO, but that’s reason enough to keep watching)  as well as developing “Ness”, a prospective television project about famed bootleg-buster Eliot Ness.

(Belgian Matthias Schoenaerts, here in his third film for Roskam   is apparently a method actor. Did you catch the Brooklyn accent used throughout?)

The Drop, directed by Michaël Roskam, with Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini, Elizabeth Rodriguez (“Orange is the New Black”), James Frecheville (Animal Kingdom) and Matthias Schoenaerts will screen at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on Septemer 5. It has also just been announced that the film will screen in competition at the 62nd San Sebastián Film Festival on September 26. It opens in the US on September 12 and in the UK on 14th November.

Latest tv spot:

Cotillard, Phoenix and Renner in The Immigrant – Now Streaming!

Cannes 2013, poster, movie, The Immigrant, Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner

Poster for The Immigrant – Cannes 2013

 

Turning on Netflix the other day, eager to hunker down and binge on the last six episodes, ever, of “The Killing”, I was surprised to learn that The Immigrant, James Gray’s tale of life in New York during the early part of the 20th century, a gorgeous film that I’m almost sure you missed at the theater, is available for streaming. That’s right, like a number of other hot titles have done lately, it skipped right over premium cable channels such as HBO or Starz and went right to Netflix, where we can watch it free (well, not quite free, assuming we’re not pirates and we’ve paid our monthly $7.99).

I’m not here to judge, so either way, let me tell you why you should be interested. (Frankly, the name Marion Cotillard will pique the curiosity of most cinephiles, however, for those of you that require more…)

The beautiful opening shot is of the Statue of Liberty shrouded in mist. (It’s a scene worthy of Chaplin – if he’d had access to the same technology while making his own The Immigrant in 1917.) It’s 1921. Ewa Cybulska (Cotillard) a Polish Catholic, has just arrived in New York after fleeing the deprivation caused by the First World War. She and her sister Magda (Angela Sarafian) are seeking a fresh start and their own piece of the American dream. What transpires next is what happens after the promise heralded by that first glimpse of America meets the grim realities of immigrant life. Magda is ill, and she and Ewa are immediately separated. For her part, Ewa, for reasons we don’t yet understand, is classified as a person of ‘questionable morals’ and in danger of being deported. Everything that follows results from Ewa’s efforts to both get her sister off of the island and keep them both from being sent back to Poland.
Enter Bruno Weiss (Joaquin Phoenix). Is he a Good Samaritan in the right place at the right time, a well-dressed representative of the “Traveller’s Aid Society”? Or is he a pimp? He does in fact produce burlesque shows. And while it does not take long for Ewa, who is desperate rather than naïve, to figure out that her savior is indeed also a predator, Phoenix’s Bruno is no Snidely Whiplash and by no means a simple villain. He’s certainly charming, but is also by turns wicked as well as vulnerable.

Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, photo, The Immigrant, movie

Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix in The Immigrant

At what would seem to be her lowest point, Ewa crosses paths with the suave, and equally as charming magician, Orlando (Jeremy Renner), whom we come to learn, happens to be Bruno’s cousin. He’s instantly smitten. She tries to resist, but he sweeps Ewa off her feet and would appear to be a chance for her to escape the cruel world in which she finds herself. But is he everything he would seem to be? Or is he what the jealous Bruno says he is?

How about both?

 Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Renner, photo, The Immigrant, movie

Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Renner in The Immigrant

There is history between them and that history will practically dictate their futures, but neither Bruno nor Orlando are all of one thing and none of the other. This makes sense, both because life exists in the gray areas, but also because the immigrant experience of the late-19th and early 20th centuries consisted of both struggle and triumph. Part of writer/director James Gray’s point would seem to be that although we now see the transition from the Old World to the New through the prism of time, tinged with nostalgia and family memories, to those making that long journey it was often terrible, and certainly strange.

Ewa is forced into prostitution and rejected by relatives she thought would care for her,  but she also must be devious and at times a thief.  She is treated with suspicion by some of her new companions, particularly Belva (Dagmara Dominczyk – Mrs. Patrick Wilson – who is wonderful and should be seen more), another of Bruno’s girls. Through it all, Cotillard makes her shine like a diamond in a coal heap. The part of Ewa was written for her and I cannot imagine it without her. Ewa is intensely luminous, vulnerable, fragile and yet dignified. The camera lingers on her face in much the way it might have done with the silent stars of the era in which she’s placed. (She particularly brings Greta Garbo, in her early silent roles, to mind.) Cotillard projects precisely the qualities that would cause not just one, but two men to be prepared to risk everything after just a mere glimpse of her.

Purposely melodramatic, The Immigrant, of course, is not a silent film and in fact has some beautiful dialogue, but cinematographer Darius Khondji has used a soft-focus, luxuriously grainy palette so that it feels almost like a long lost gem from the era it depicts. (If the silent film comparison doesn’t work for you, think Theodore Dreiser and “An American Tragedy”. Bruno has a lot in common with that novel’s protagonist Clyde, whose destruction was brought about by his innate moral and physical weaknesses including a lack of scruples, self-discipline and unfocused ambition. If you need a more recent cinematic comparison, try Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America.)

Of course, in a film more interested in mood and feeling than in the mechanics of plot, some elements don’t work, and unfortunately Ewa’s relationship with Orlando seems little more than a structural convenience. While he serves to move the story forward, his character should have been more fully realized and his subplot given more time to develop. I have to wonder if there weren’t more to it that didn’t survive the cutting room.
Ultimately, what we’re left with is a glimpse of early 20th century urban life, complete with a performance by Enrico Caruso (and set to the gorgeous score by Chris Spelman). The “doves” in Bruno’s employ, as well as their customers emulate the Astors and the Vanderbilts of Fifth Avenue in dress and mannerisms. It’s difficult to distinguish art from sleaze, since popular entertainment brought strippers, comedians and musicians together under one roof. Which is America in a nutshell. The tawdry exists side by side with the exquisite, brutality with tenderness. So it is with Bruno, and why we can’t quite separate the lost boy from the scoundrel.

The Immigrant gives us the flip-side, or the mirror image of the American dream. It’s the warts-and-all version of the tale your great grandparents told about their adventures in “coming to America”, the antithesis of the Hollywood-glamorized version one would expect, but probably much closer to the truth.

The Immigrant directed by James Gray, written by Gray with Ric Menello, with Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner, Dagmara Dominczyk, Robert Clohessy, Adam Rothenberg, and Angela Sarafian. It debuted at Cannes in May 2013, has played film festivals all over the world, and now, thanks to Harvey and The Weinstein Company, can be found on Netflix.

Watch: Millennium Gives Us Our 1st Look at Antonio Banderas In Automata

Automata, movie, poster, Antonio Banderas, Dylan McDermott

poster for Automata with Antonio Banderas

The moviegoing public has flocked to films about automatons, machines, automatons and robots since the movies began. One of the world’s first “blockbusters” or event movies, was Fritz Lang’s Metropolis from 1927, a film so beloved to this day that it has been updated, restored, and rereleased countless times.

One of the givens in 90% of these films is that we get to watch these machines turn on their makers, providing us with countless fables about the evils of progress and allegories for human nature. The latest such film stars Antonio Banderas in Automata, from Spanish director Gabe Ibañez. According to Ibañez, his film is about “this moment where artificial intelligence arrives at the same place as human intelligence.”

Banderas plays Jacq Vaucan, an insurance agent or accident investigator 50 years in the future. Earth’s ecology is on the point of collapse. Vaucan, working for the ROC Robotics Corporation, begins another routine investigation into the “illicit manipulation of a robot”, but this time he gets to know the ‘bots a little better than he bargained for, and even starts seeing their side of things, as the machines develop sentient intelligence and begin to rebel. What he discovers will have profound consequences for the future of humanity.

The actor also produced the film. During a recent Reddit AMA conversation he described it as “… a movie about … [a] scientific concept called singularity, which is the time in which machines actually overcome the human mind. So it’s a very reflective philosophical science fiction, going back to the science fiction I love, like Isaac Asimov. That’s the type of movie we tried to do.”

Take a look at this:

I like it. It doesn’t appear nearly as cold and bloodless as the landscape or even the synopsis would suggest. Or maybe it’s just the pulse-pounding score they put under this trailer. But c’mon, how cool was that gunslinger robot throwing off his cape a la Clint Eastwood and his serape? In any case, we see lots of different robots in varying degrees of technological advancement, which may hint at some sort of class structure and sociological hierarchy among the machines. A ‘bot “Animal Farm” perhaps.

In addition to Banderas, Automata stars Dylan McDermott and Robert Forster (in an Olympus Has Fallen reunion – although they didn’t share any scenes in that film), Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, Tim McInnerney, Andrew Tiernan, and yes, that was Javier Bardem’s voice. Automata has been languishing on the shelf for a while, which explains the presence of the ex-Mrs. Banderas, Melanie Griffith. Automata bows at the San Sebastian Film Festival next month then opens in the US on October 10, released by, what seems appropriately enough, Millennium.

London Has Fallen Finally Has a Director! – edited

London Has Fallen, movie, poster, teaser, Gerard Butler

1st teaser artwork for London Has Fallen

I have no idea how to feel about this.

The good news is that four months after the announcement that Olympus Has Fallen was getting a sequel, with the catchy title London Has Fallen, which one would think would be a HUGE clue as to the plot line, Millennium has finally signed a director for the project.

The bad news is that his name is NOT Antoine Fuqua. I had been convinced that the reason the director of the original had not signed on for the sequel yet was that he was holding out for more money. After all not only was OHF a huge box office hit, but he’s got The Equalizer (with his Training Day star, Denzel Washington) in the can, a film with such high expectations a sequel to THAT film has already been green-lit. But it seems that Fuqua is moving ahead with his passion project Southpaw, with Jake Gyllenhaal. Or maybe the producers didn’t meet his price.

Either way, London Has Fallen will now be helmed by Fredrik Bond, a director of music videos with one other feature to his credit, the festival favorite (and uber-indie) The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, with Shia LaBeouf, Evan Rachel Wood and Mads Mikkelsen. (And they weren’t even action &/or violence-laden heavy metal videos. We’re talking Moby.)

Yeah, that’s a head scratcher. Maybe Melissa Leo recommended him, assuming she’s coming back for LHF (hey, she didn’t die in OHF), since she’s in TNDoCC as well.

This actually doesn’t disturb me as much as the fact that Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt’s script has been rewritten by Christian Gudegast. One of the reasons I was ready to buy a ticket to this sequel, which in my humble opinion, with the rare exception of films like Jaws and The Godfather, are generally not a good idea, was that the husband & wife team responsible for the first film was back on board for the second. Again, just my humble opinion, but that their script is being redone by a writer whose biggest claim to fame is the Vin Diesel vehicle, A Man Apart does not inspire confidence. Although in all fairness, it might be the best Vin Diesel vehicle. But having said that, need I say more? (More proof that all roads lead to Gerard Butler – A Man Apart was directed by F. Gary Gray who directed Law Abiding Citizen. Just a bit of trivia.)

As it stands now, the only things London Has Fallen will have in common with Olympus Has Fallen will be its stars Gerard Butler (who will again produce) as Secret Service Agent Mike Banning, Aaron Eckhart as President Asher and Morgan Freeman as Speaker of the House Trumbull.

The plot has them in London to attend the British Prime Minister’s funeral. Of course some brain-trust with an evil bent thinks that they can use this occasion to kill all of the world’s leaders and “unleash a terrifying vision of the future”. Of course. This premise is no more preposterous than that of Olympus Has Fallen, which I believe I’m on record as having enjoyed enormously. So, at least on that score, my disbelief is still safely suspended…for now.

London Has Fallen has a release date of October 2nd, 2015 and production is scheduled to begin in October. Butler is supposed to be in Louisiana in October to film Geostorm for Dean Devlin. Millennium is based in Louisiana, so maybe it’s possible. (Hey, London is expensive.) More to come.

**Edited to add: London IS expensive so London Has Fallen will, if the sets being constructed are any indication, be filmed in Bulgaria.  Production may still begin in October, but filming is set to begin in December. (Hopefully indoors.)  I knew that.

So, what do you think of the latest development? Does the selection of this particular director have any influence on your interest in London Has Fallen?