“The Law Is Shot to Hell” Watch 1st Trailer for #SlowWest with #MichaelFassbender

Slow West, Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee, John Mclean, western, Ben Mendelsohn, Rory McCann

Sundance Film Festival poster for Slow West

It has been clear since the days of Jonah Hex, that any western which included Michael Fassbender would not be your typical “oater” or “horse opera” in the vein John Wayne or even Gary Cooper (super duper! C’mon, you know you totally heard Peter Boyle in your head). This would have been true of Jane Got Her Gun, if he’d stayed with the project, and it’s certainly true of Slow West. We’d had hints of its  unconventional nature from the few stills released following the film’s debut at Sundance, but now we have proof with the first trailer.

The film is writer/director John Mclean‘s feature debut after having helmed a few well-received shorts including Man On a Motorcycle and Pitch Black Heist, also starring Fassbender. In Slow West he plays Silas, a “mysterious drifter” who throws in with a 16 year-old Scottish immigrant (Kodi Smit-McPhee). The kid, in true knight errant fashion, is on a quest to find his lady love (Caren Pistorius), whose father (Rory McCann) has spirited her off to the wilds of the American west.

Despite the fact that Fassbender is playing a sort of outlaw Friar Laurence to this 19th century Romeo and Juliet, it would appear that the film is still awash with grubby, saddle-sore villains as well. The always fantastic Ben Mendelsohn (I remember when I saw Animal Kingdom for the first time. Joel Edgerton was already making a name for himself, but everything else I read said that James Frecheville* would be the break-out star. No one predicted it would be Mendelsohn who is suddenly required to be in all the movies. And have you seen “Bloodline” on Netflix?  Do it! Now! As usual I digress.) as Payne, the leader of a gang of money-hungry, cold-blooded bounty hunters, is one such character.  The actor apparently took a shine to Payne’s furry coat. He wore it to the Sundance premiere.

Take a look at this:

trailer via JoBlo

Those lucky enough to have already seen the movie have raved about Mclean’s debut, calling it a fairy tale about doomed romance and unlikely families, defined by its “sharp wit”, and “absurdist violence” remininscent of Tarantino.  When can I buy my ticket!

Produced by the team from The King’s Speech and Shame, Iain Canning and Emile Sherman, among others, including Fassbender, Slow West moseys into the Tribeca Film Festival April 18. Its May 15 US opening doesn’t preclude a stop on the French Riviera first, so I wouldn’t be surprised if its included in the upcoming Cannes Film Festival lineup as well. The UK gets it on 26 June.

*last seen in The Drop with Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini

Watch: The #Focus Is On #WillSmith and #MargotRobbie

Will Smith, Margot Robbie, movie, Focus, con game, romantic thriller

Remember, oh say twenty years ago, when Will Smith wasn’t known primarily as a smart-ass action hero? Smith burst onto the scene in playing a con man in Six Degrees of Separation, way back in 1993. Then of course he met Michael Bay and diverged from the path marked “actor” and chose the prettier, shinier one that pointed to “movie star”.  It’s a crowded road; he had a lot of company.

It would appear, with the release this week of Focus, that Smith is now trying to get back on track. Oh sure, there have been a couple of side trips over the years, like when he made The Pursuit of Happyness and Eight Pounds for director Gabriele Muccino (you know, the two films that sold Gerard Butler on Playing for Keeps. Yes, I know. I liked it. I have my reasons.), or Ali for Oliver Stone or even the under-rated Hancock for Peter Berg. But all of those films were made when Smith, one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, was riding high.  Today we see an older and wiser Smith trying to recover from a string of box-office bombs, culminating in last year’s M. Night Shyamalan mess, After Earth, an ego project if ever there was one.

Watch the trailer below. I’m getting a strong “George Clooney in Steven Soderbergh‘s Out of Sight” vibe. If Smith is truly on a mission to reshape his career, George Clooney’s is not a bad one to emulate. (Especially since Clooney doesn’t seem to be very interested in being “Geoge Clooney” at the moment.)

In the midst of veteran con man Nicky’s latest scheme, a woman from his past – now an accomplished femme fatale – shows up and throws his plans for a loop.

We don’t often see Will Smith in any sort of romantic setting. (I would not count Hitch as romantic. It’s rare that a so-called “rom-com” generates any actual sparks, but I see plenty between Smith and costar Margot Robbie.

Not many had even heard of Robbie before Martin Scorsese gave her the female lead in The Wolf of Wall Street opposite Leonardo DiCaprio (another actor who doesn’t get to do romance very often. You probably had to stop and think about that, Titanic fans, but it’s true), but she managed to more than hold her own and at the tender age of just 21. Yeah, that’s right. Robbie is only 24 years old. Doesn’t it seem like she’s always been around? (I liken her to a young Cathy Moriarty, who was also in her early twenties and playing women older and more mature than her age.)

Throw in Rodrigo Santoro (yes, please) as the villain of the piece and the third point in romantic triangle, and the always terrific Gerald McRaney as his capo cum bodyguard, and it looks like Glen Ficarra and John Requa, the duo responsible for Crazy, Stupid, Love., have created another improbable soufflé that just might rise, this time in the vein of Elmore Leonard or John D. MacDonald.

I don’t expect that anyone’s reinvented any wheels here, but that’s okay. You buy a shiny new car, you don’t expect it to come with anything less than four tires, an engine, seats and a steering wheel, right? It’s all about how those things are crafted. Just judging from this trailer, Focus looks like a well-crafted romantic thriller with all of the right accessories. I’m in. Are you?

Also starring BD Wong, Adrian Martinez and Robert Taylor, Focus opens wide in the US (in IMAX in some places!) on February 27.

It’s Here, It’s Here! It’s Finally #Oscars Day (And My Predictions Are Finally Finished!)

Osczars, Academy Awards, predictions, movies

Okay, I’m attempting to get my predictions in, just at the wire, which is par for my course, so here are my thoughts on the subject:

First, I think that this year, there will be no one film that runs away with all of the awards for which it has been nominated and the love will be spread around quite a bit. I like this idea. Considering all of the many movies made and how few are recognized at the big dance, a nomination should be its own reward. As someone (J.K. Simmons perhaps) said at an awards show earlier this year, if you’re in the room, you’re already a winner.

Of my favorite films this year (which are many, I can’t limit myself to just 10, and in no particular order):
Frank
The Drop
Locke
The Grand Budapest Hotel
A Most Violent Year
Boyhood
Birdman
Guardians of the Galaxy
Only Lovers Left Alive
Snowpiercer
Gone Girl
Nightcrawler
Mr. Turner
HTTYD2
Inherent Vice
The Trip to Italy

I’m amazed that so many of them are still in the Oscar mix and of course, just as surprised that so many of them are not.

Remember when Gone Girl was released and it automatically became the front-runner for Best Picture? That didn’t last long. It doesn’t take away my enjoyment of the movie though. And it will probably be remembered a lot longer than some of those films that were recognized. (Does anyone believe that The Theory of Everything bears repeat viewings?) Guardians of the Galaxy was just too popular and made too much money for anyone to “take seriously”.  It has been in the mix for a handful of technical awards, but let’s be honest. All of the technology, makeup and CGI would not have made that film what it was without the performances of Chris Pratt and company.

Snowpiercer was another film that was declared an instant classic with film scribes all over the interwebz begging for some awards recognition for the “best film of the year”.  Sorry, too “niche-y”, too sci-fi, too dystopian, too grimy, too…foreign.

Tilda Swinton, however, should have been recognized. Her part was originally written for a man. Even though it was adapted slightly for her, she spent two hours every day in the makeup chair.  How is it possible that this extraordinary talent has only been nominated for one Oscar (that she won – for Michael Clayton)?  If no one could get past her gargantuan teeth in Snowpiercer, what about for her haunting, languidly sexy vampire in Only Lovers Left Alive? How was that movie missed by so many? It is perfection.  (Full disclosure, I adore this woman. I can’t wait to see her in Judd Apatow‘s Train Wreck.)

Coulda, shoulda, woulda. In the Best Actor category, neither of the two actors who should win were even nominated. My first choice would have been Tom Hardy for Locke, a virtuoso performance in a singular film, but I’d have been happy with Jake Gyllenhaal for Nightcrawler. That said, of those actors who did manage to snag a nomination, Eddie Redmayne has the momentum after his SAG and BAFTA wins, although admittedly the latter award was given in his own backyard and it would have been a surprise if he hadn’t won. I’d much prefer, however, that Michael Keaton get the prize for what is a career defining (not to mention rejuvenating) role in Birdman. I’m against giving Oscars as career achievement awards (unless they are actually called that), but. unlike Redmayne and even Benedict Cumberbatch, journeyman Keaton created a character from scratch and made us care about him, and that’s what it’s all about.

What’s really exciting is that it’s now Oscar Day and we’re still debating these things. This is an exciting year, in my humble opinion, precisely because there are still a few question marks regarding the evening’s festivities, which means that there may yet be some surprises to be found and

Aside from the speeches, (and I won’t go into some of the wacky and unexpected examples of those, because once a name has been read, all bets are off. Whatever anyone says or does, they can’t take the statue away from you, so have it with your one-armed pushups like Jack Palance or just whoop for ten minutes like Cuba Gooding, Jr.) it seems like it’s been quite a while since any of us who pay attention to these things, was actually surprised.

But surprises can happen. There have been quite a few unexpected wins in (what seems like) the recent past. For example, Adrien Brody for The Pianist in 2002 over the likes of Jack Nicholson, Michael Caine, Nicholas Cage, and Daniel Day Lewis. Deserving or not, and I happen to think he was, no one saw that coming. Then Brody’s director Roman Polanski, upset DGA winner Rob Marshall (Chicago). this is an aberration on the order of 1999’s Shakespeare in Love win over Saving Private Ryan (what?!), not to mention perhaps the most infamous examples, Marisa Tomei in 1992 over Judy Davis, Joan Plowright, Miranda Richardson and Vanessa Redgrave (!!) and then 2004’s Crash over Brokeback Mountain. So anything is possible.

While most of us on the outside looking in this year have Best Actor down to a battle between Redmayne and Keaton, it is definitely within the realm of possibility for Bradley Cooper to sneak in and snatch it out from under them. This is Cooper’s third nomination in three years and he did the whole body transformation thing – packing on 50 pounds of muscle to play Navy Seal Chris Kyle – which the Academy loves. The one actor who appears to be out of the running completely is Cumberbatch. This after months of assumptions that he was the front-runner for The Imitation Game, which has also all but dropped out of the race. Cumberbatch has been covered in the dust of Redmayne and Keaton. I have no doubt, though, that he’ll be back for future races. Sorry Steve Carell. You are the proverbial luckless snowball.

Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor are all pretty much done deals. Despite the four other names announced in each of those categories, only one has been cleaning up at all of the under-card races. Julianne Moore (Still Alice), Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) and J.K. Simmons (Whiplash), respectively, are virtual locks to win the big one. All that’s left are those speeches. I don’t expect any of them to pull a Roberto Benigni. Too bad.

I believe it’s entirely possible that the Best Director and Best Picture races will be split, just like at BAFTA where Director was given to Alejandro Iñárritu and Pic to Boyhood, and yesterday at the Independent Spirit Awards where the opposite was true and Richard Linklater walked away with Director and Birdman, Best Picture. I’ve often said it’s illogical to nominate a film without its director, but it’s almost the norm this year: Selma without Ava Duvernay, The Theory of Everything but no James Marsh, American Sniper without Clint Eastwood- this is what happens when you expand Best Picture to as many as 12 but don’t expand the other categories! Insanity! (How then to explain Bennett Miller but no Foxcatcher?) Anyway, in the case of Boyhood’s Linklater and Birdman’s Iñárritu, if the Academy splits, it may just be a case of wanting to recognize two of the best films of the year without playing Solomon exactly, but without actually choosing.

That said, I make the call for Birdman a. because it’s a movie about actors (and they comprise the largest Academy voting bloc) and b. it has a slight edge in the guild awards. But, no matter who takes home the hardware, when it comes to these two films, fans of well-written, well-acted, well-directed, just plain well-made (and yes okay, independent) movies are the winners. Here’s hoping their success heralds a new wave of quirky, inventive, intelligent, cinematic square pegs.

On with the show:

BEST PICTURE
American Sniper
*Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

BEST DIRECTOR
*Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Morton Tyldum, The Imitation Game
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher

I have to go with Iñárritu, because of his DGA win. It is extremely rare that the winner of the Director’s Guild Award does not win the Academy Award. BUT – see above. Linklater could pull it out.

Best Actor
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
**Michael Keaton, Birdman
*Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

BAFTA was icing, but Redmayne won the Screen Actors Guild award. See above re: voting bloc. Academy voting actors are SAG voting actors.

Best Actress
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
*Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Best Supporting Actress
*Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
*J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Best Original Screenplay
Birdman, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo
Boyhood, Richard Linklater
Foxcatcher, E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
*The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson and Hugo Guiness
Nightcrawler, Dan Gilroy

Grand Budapest will get this award not only as a consolation prize for best picture (it did after all score a great many other nominations as well), but because it’s a truly wonderful story. Wes Anderson is a very literary filmmaker. The WGA win is a harbinger unless it won only because the guild’s first choice, Boyhood, was ineligible. But I don’t think so. Nightcrawler won the Independent Spirit Award and I would not be unhappy if the Academy recognized Dan Gilroy (in place of Jake Gyllenhaal).

Best Adapted Screenplay
American Sniper, Jason Hall
*The Imitation Game, Graham Moore
Inherent Vice, Paul Thomas Anderson
The Theory of Everything, Anthony McCarten
Whiplash, Damien Chazelle

Another consolation prize since The Imitation Game scored eight noms but won’t win any other major category. And again, Graham Moore took home the WGA.award, but his closest Academy competition (The Theory of Everything) wasn’t eligible, so Anthony McCarten could steal.

Best Documentary Feature
*CITIZENFOUR
Finding Vivian Maier
Last Days in Vietnam
The Salt of the Earth
Virunga

Thanks to HBO and Netflix, I’ve seen four of the five and on the merits, this is a hard choice to make. I’m going with CITIZENFOUR because it’s a juggernaut.

Best Costume Design
*The Grand Budapest Hotel, Milena Canonero
Inherent Vice, Mark Bridges
Into the Woods, Colleen Atwood
Mr. Turner, Jacqueline Durran
Maleficent, Anna B. Sheppard

Grand Budapest, Birdman and Into the Woods all won Costume Guild awards, because they have several categories. The Academy lumps them all together. Canonero is an Academy favorite (with 3 previous wins), although so is Atwood, who also has three. I think Grand Budapest will win. Canonero’s costumes for this film re-imagined a real period in history, one that has been put on screen many times, and made them seem fresh and new.

Best Cinematography
*Birdman, Emmanuel Lubezki
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Robert D. Yeoman
Ida, Ryszard Lenczweski and Lukasz Zal
Mr. Turner, Dick Pope
Unbroken, Roger Deakins

If I were voting, I’d have to go with Dick Pope‘s gorgeous Turner-like landscapes in Mr. Turner or sentimental favorite Roger Deakins, who is nominated for his 12th Oscar. Last year’s winner, Emmaneul Lubezki, for whom this is his seventh nomination, will win again because the camera work in Birdman is still a major talking point, even among lay-people.

Best Hair & Makeup
Foxcatcher, Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard
*The Grand Budapest Hotel, Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier
Guardians of the Galaxy, Eliazabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White

Guardians could pull out an upset, but for me, this category was decided the minute I saw Tilda Swinton in The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Best Editing
American Sniper, Joel Cox and Gary Roach
*Boyhood, Sandra Adair
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Barney Pilling
The Imitation Game, William Goldenberg
Whiplash, Tom Cross

Why Boyhood? Twelve YEARS of footage. Now, I have to hand it to the editor of Whiplash as well. Miles Teller may have taught himself to play the drums for the role, but the tight editing made it fascinating, especially the finale, but still….twelve YEARS of footage. And it wasn’t just a cobbled together Frankenfilm. The result was lyrical and beautiful.

BEST SOUND EDITING
*American Sniper, Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
Birdman, Martin Hernandez and Aaron Glascock
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Brent Burge and Jason Canovas
Interstellar, Richard King

Unbroken, Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro

This category is about creating an aural picture, that coincides with and reinforces the visual one. All of the nominees in this category are worthy. And for this reason Richard King, who created sound in the vacuum of space in Interstellar could upset, but think about what you heard when you saw American Sniper. Think about the juxtaposition of the horrors of war with what was happening at home. That is sound editing.

BEST SOUND MIXING
American Sniper, John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin
Birdman, Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga
Interstellar, Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten
Unbroken, Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee
*Whiplash, Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley

Sound MIXING is creating a balanced blend,of the sounds that the sound editor has created. So doesn’t that mean that the film which wins that category should automatically win for mixing? Not necessarily. While Sniper could win, in this particular instance, it’s important that Whiplash be recognized, particularly for a sound category, especially when that aforementioned final sequence won’t have been. The sound mix is everything to this movie. That said, I could see Birdman’s jazz percussion soundscape sneaking in a win, But we’ll go with Whiplash.

Best Visual Effects
Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist
Guardians of the Galaxy, Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould
*Interstellar, Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher
X-Men: Days of Future Past, Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer

Some pundits are going with the team from Apes, both for its incredible effects (and their ability to make us care about the motion capture apes as well as all of their CGI tricks), and for the fact that this same team was nominated for Rise of the Planet of the Apes and didn’t win. That could also be a mark in Interstellar‘s favor. Interstellar should win on its own merits though. Whatever else you liked or didn’t like about Christopher Nolan‘s megafilm, it was visually stunning.

Best Foreign Film
Wild Tales, Damián Szifrón; Argentina
Tangerines, Zaza Urushadze; Estonia
Timbuktu, Abderrahmane Sissako; Mauritania
*Ida, Pawel Pawlikowski; Poland
Leviathan, Andrey Zvyagintsev; Russia

Ida is probably the film in this category that most people have seen. It’s been available on Netflix since December and has already won quite a few awards, including yesterday’s Independent Spirit Award. It’s also good enough to have been nominated for its stunning black and white cinematography and was in the conversation, at one time, for Best Picture.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
*The Grand Budapest Hotel, Alexandre Desplat
The Imitation Game, Alexandre Desplat
Interstellar, Hans Zimmer
Mr. Turner, Gary Yershon
The Theory of Everything, Jóhann Jóhannsson

Alexandre Desplat has been another Academy bridesmaid in recent years. Eight nominations since 2007, but without a win. He works on prestige films that get Academy recognition, but he’s also just that good. That he is nominated twice this year alone is testament to both of those facts. I do think he’ll finally win, but it gets trickier when one has to choose for which film. My personal choice is The Grand Budapest Hotel. As I’ve already said, I loved the score (as I did Desplat’s work on Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. Both quirky, toe-tapping and memorable). I can’t remember the score for any of the other films, although I remember enjoying them at the time. It is possible that because Desplat is competing against himself, that he might split the vote, leaving the door open for someone else. If that’s the case, it will probably be Jóhann Jóhannsson, who won the BAFTA.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“Lost Stars” from Begin Again, Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond
“Everything is Awesome” from The LEGO Movie, Shawn Patterson
*“Glory” from Selma, John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn
“Grateful” from Beyond the Lights, Diane Warren

This is another virtual lock. It not only evokes the film, but it’s a good song in its own right.

Best Animated Film
Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
*How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

I don’t know why The Lego Movie was not nominated. Even if it had been, I’d have been rooting for HTTYD2, for sentimental reasons and because it’s a great movie. It won the Annie, as did its predecessor, but this year it will also win Best Animated Feature since it doesn’t have a Pixar entry to beat. So yay! (Although I’m still bummed about John Powell‘s score snub that year and this.)

Best Short Film – Animated
**The Bigger Picture
The Dam Keeper
*Feast
Me and My Moulton
A Single Life

I loved them all and while my personal favorite might be The Bigger Picture, which was just so damn clever, I think Feast will win because, much like last year’s Paperman, it was the most seen. It’s also very sweet and deceptively simple.

Best Short Film -Live Action
Aya
Boogaloo and Graham
Butter Lamp
Parvaneh
*The Phone Call

Boogaloo and Graham pulled out a BAFTA win, and if that seemed like a hometown favorite (about two boys and their baby chicks), I’m equally as surprised that The Phone Call didn’t win there. It stars Sally Hawkins as a mental health worker at a suicide hotline and Jim Broadbent as her caller, both actors familiar to Academy voters, plus it’s the fictional companion to Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1. (See below) For those reasons I’m going with The Phone Call, even though some are touting the virtues of Parvaneh, from Switzerland, about an Afghan immigrant who travels to Zurich.
Best Short Film – Documentary
*Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

Our Curse
The Reaper
White Earth

I’ve seen the shorts programs. (Hey, if you want to prognosticate with any accuracy, you have to) and Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 is both gut-wrenching and topical. We all say we hate the war but love the warrior. We need to do a better job of proving it.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
*The Grand Budapest Hotel, Adam Stockhausen and Anna Pinnock
The Imitation Game, Maria Djurkovic and Tatiana Macdonald
Interstellar, Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis and Paul Healy
Into the Woods, Dennis Gassner and Anna Pinnock
Mr. Turner, Suzie Davies and Charlotte Watts

Anna Pinnock is another dual nominee, but her collaboration with Adam Stockhausen on Grand Budapest should win her the award. Despite the Academy’s proclivity to give this award to a musical if one is available, the highly stylized look of Wes Anderson‘s film is its core.

There you have it, my predictions for the 2015 Academy Awards. Got ‘em in, with a nanosecond to spare, but I got ‘em in. So what else is new? Want to start making predictions for next year?

UPDATE: I went 21 for 24 – same as last year. I’m always surprised, not by the fact that I missed a few, but the ones that I miss. 

“It’s a Good Day” says New #MadMax: Fury Road Int’l Trailer. Yeah, But For What?!

Tom Hardy, Mad Max Rockatansky, Mad Max: Fury Road,  movie, photo, trailer, Charlize Theron, George Miller

From the looks of this 67 seconds of hot, angry, sweaty, flaming mayhem…the answer is “to blow some shit up!”.

Warner Bros. has just released a new (and completely insane) Japanese trailer for this summer’s sure-to-be-blockbuster, Mad Max: Fury Road. And we thank them for it. Given the long road from inception to release that this film has traveled and is still traveling, the WB deserves kudos for not just keeping this in the front of moviegoers’ minds, but chomping at the proverbial bit.

Despite the fact that this clip is only a tad more than one-minute long, it not only compacts and condenses what was in the previous full-length trailer, it does provide some bits of new footage. How do they do that, you might well ask? By moving at the speed of sound and not wasting a nano-second of screen time on anything that isn’t racing, burning, screaming or better yet, exploding. There’s no room for flab in this post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Take a look:

Mad Mad: Fury Road is the fourth film of George Miller‘s Road Warrior/Mad Max franchise co-written and directed by Miller. The post-apocalyptic action film is set in the furthest reaches of our planet, in a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, and most everyone is crazed fighting for the necessities of life. Within this world of fire and blood exist two rebels on the run who just might be able to restore order… There’s Max (Tom Hardy), a man of action and a man of few words, who seeks peace of mind following the loss of his wife and child in the aftermath of the chaos. And… Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a woman of action and a woman who believes her path to survival may be achieved if she can make it across the desert back to her childhood homeland.”

Mad Max: Fury Road with Nicholas Hoult, Zoë Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee, Nathan Jones, and Hugh Keays-Byrne, takes over the world on May 13-15, 2015, depending on where you are in it. (A May 13 premiere in France suggests an appearance on the Croisette, no? The Cannes Film Festival also begins that day.)

Watch Hiddleston, Chastain, & Wasikowska in the Eerie 1st Trailer for Crimson Peak!

Crimson Peak, Guillermo del Toro, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, movie, gothic horror, poster

At last we have have the creepy first trailer for director Guillermo del Toro’s eagerly awaited Crimson Peak!

The production has been shrouded in secrecy. For over a year all we knew was that it went into production shortly after Pacific Rim finally wrapped, and del Toro cast one of his stars from that film, Charlie Hunnam, in this new one. Oh, and it’s a horror movie. That fact alone, coupled with the  name of the visionary director responsible for the multi-Academy Award nominated fantasy Pan’s Labyrinth as well as the Hellboy films, was enough to send fanboys into a frenzy of ever-more impatient speculation. Then he cast three of the best actors working today, and whose careers were already white-hot: Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska.  Suddenly it wasn’t just the fanboys chomping at the bit for news, although del Toro used San Diego Comic Con to effectively “launch” the film, revealing sets and costumes.  The director described the film as a “hardcore…gothic romance with supernatural elements”.

In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds…and remembers.

The film is set in Victorian-era England and Hiddleston is the charismatic suitor, Sir Thomas Sharpe, who sweeps writer Edith Cushing (Wasikowska)  off  her feet and takes her back to his ancestral home, Crimson Peak, where she encounters his jealous sister Lady Lucille (Chastain), as well as the family ghosts and skeletons.  Take a look:

Hunnam plays Dr. Alan McMichael. The rest of the cast includes Burn Gorman, Leslie Hope, Doug Jones, Bruce Gray, Jim Beaver and Emily Coutts.

Legendary and del Toro are hard at work on Pacific Rim 2 (One of 27 films in various stages of development on del Toro’s slate, inluding new versions of Frankenstein as well as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, it’s due in 2017). I’m sure Legendary hopes that Crimson Peak will pump some cash into their coffers after the dismal failure of Seventh Son (what the hell was Julianne Moore thinking??).  The film doesn’t open until October 16, so we still have quite a few months to wait, and I’m sure we’ll get a few more trailers before then, in fact I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it bowed during Cannes or TIFF Midnight screenings. But ultimately it means we will finally have a worthy fright-fest in time for Halloween.

 

 

*Total Film

Mads Mikkelsen Is Bringing On The Salvation

The Salvation, movie,Mads Mikkelsen, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Eva Green, western,  poster

I first heard about The Salvation, an old-school western from Danish director Kristian Levring, when it debuted at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival’s Midnight section last May. My interest was piqued for many reasons, chief among them that the cast includes several of my favorite actors, in one of my favorite genres.  Mads Mikkelsen, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Douglas Henshall and Eva Green made a western.  I was all ready to hand over my money, then… nothing. No word since the BFI London Film Festival in October. Finally, on the brink of a (limited) US theatrical release, IFC Films has dropped a US trailer.  There is so much to like about it, I’m nearly giddy.

As I always say, there’s nothing new under the sun and it’s all in the delivery. That is almost certainly true here. The Salvation is a tale of revenge set in the American West of the 1870s. A former Danish soldier (Mikkelsen), tired of war and looking or a fresh start, emigrates to America and takes his family west.  After his wife and son are murdered, he hunts down and kills the men responsible. One of the dead killer’s has a brother (Morgan), with the mustache twirling name of Delarue, now set on his own revenge. Also in the mix is Eva Green as the newly widowed Madeline.

The supporting cast also includes Henshall as the Sheriff, Jonathan Pryce, French actor Eric Cantona, Michael Raymond-James, Lisa Marie’s ex Danny Keogh and Mikael Persbrandt as Jon’s (Mikkelsen’s character) brother Peter.  (Originally, the role was to have been played by Mikkelsen’s actual brother, Lars. When Lars dropped out, Mads hand-picked fellow Dane Persbrandt.)

So, this could be Death Wish in the Wild West or it could be something more.

Watch this:

I’m thinking it’s the latter; not a new spin on a  classic western, it IS a classic western – in the tradition of John Ford and/or Sam Peckinpah. I could be wrong. I could be ascribing loftier ambitions to the film, on the basis of the trailer, than Levring intended. But I can’t wait to find out. C’mon, it’s Mads!

If all you know of Mads Mikkelsen is as tv’s “Hannibal” (or even Le Chiffre in Casino Royale), I’m not sure we should be talking…I’m kidding! But seriously folks, any self-respecting cinephile is doing themselves a huge disservice if they haven’t checked out his other work. I digress, as per usual.

That rousing score is by Kasper Winding (half-brother to Mads’ Valhalla Rising director, Nicolas Winding Refn).He also did the music for this year’s Riot Club, directed by yet another Dane, Lone Scherfig. (It’s a Danish Invasion!)
Cinematographer Jens Schlosser, who previously worked with Levring on The King is Alive, (a modern-day retelling of Shakespeare’s “King Lear” with an international cast), isn’t yet known to American audiences, but that may soon change. Take a look at some of the stills below for a closer look at his work in this film. Gorgeous. Hopefully I can see it on the big screen, but if not, The Salvation will get a more accessible VoD release the same day, February 27.

Watch the 1st Trailer for Tomorrowland, Today!

Tomorrowland, poster, Disney, George Clooney, Brad Bird, movie

Even if your teams weren’t playing, chances are you still tuned in to last night’s Super Bowl – either for the commercials or one of the fifteen new, and hotly anticipated, movie trailers.  Disney was one of the studios who paid big bucks to unveil one of those trailers in front of one of the largest (if not the largest) television audiences of the year.

Take a look at the first trailer for the sci-fi thriller, Tomorrowland:

“What if there was a place where nothing was impossible,”

After watching this little 30 second tease, that place still exists only in our imaginations, since we don’t know very much more than we did before we saw it. What we did get was the teensiest of peeks at the visuals,  which since they have to compete with the 3-D Tomorrowland  that many grew up actually walking around in, are sure to stunning.

from Walt Disney Studios:

“Bound by a shared destiny, a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor jaded by disillusionment embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory as “Tomorrowland”.”

I’m not generally a fan of films based on theme park rides or attractions, but I am intrigued by Tomorrowland.  One reason is that its director, BradThe IncrediblesBird,  was offered Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens as only his second live-action film (after IM5:Ghost Protocol), but turned it down for this one because, “when you get the rare chance to do an original film like Tomorrowland, you take the opportunity”. Since he co-wrote the screenplay with Damon Lindeloff, I’m not sure which came first, the film or the opportunity to direct.

Actually, the idea for the film has been kicking around almost as long as its Disneyland incarnation. Okay, that’s hyperbole. But in Hollywoodland terms,  2008, might as well be 1955.  It all started with a script from writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore,  who wanted Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to star. Their screenplay was supposedly not based on the Disney Tomorrowland attractions, but was an original story which merely “borrowed” the title.

In 2013, Walt Disney Pictures announced that a film titled 1952 (a code name for the top-secret, very hush hush project) would be re-titled Tomorrowland.  It doesn’t appear that Bird and Lindelof are using Lucas and Moore’s script at all, since only they (along with Jeff Jenson) have story credit on the film.

In any case, Bird has assembled a cast top-lined by the world’s most famous newlywed,  George Clooney, as inventor Frank Walker, as well as Hugh Laurie, Kathryn Hahn, Judy Greer, Keegan-Michael Key, Lochlyn Munro, Tim McGraw and  Britt Robertson, best known for “Under the Dome”, as budding scientist Casey Newton.

More will follow…and soon. Tomorrowland opens the flood-gates on this summer’s blockbuster season, on May 22…everywhere.