#GerardButler and #AaronEckhart Are a Dynamic Duo in 1st Trailer for #LondonHasFallen

London Has Fallen, movie, poster, Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart

Lionsgate UK has today released the first trailer for London Has Fallen, the sequel to 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen. I can only assume that the release of the trailer had been scheduled around the original October 2015 release date, before it was pushed back to January 2016*. Not that I’m complaining, It’s been a loooong time since I’ve seen Gerard Butler on the big screen (and no, animated voice acting does not count). Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing depends on your perspective. To quote Peter Quill, I’d say it’s a “bit’a both”.

Following the events of the original film, in which Mike Banning (Butler) single-handedly saved the President (Aaron Eckhart) from the clutches of a North Korean terrorist bent on our complete annihilation, Banning has been reinstated as not only a member of the Secret Service, but he’s back on his friend and President’s personal detail.

In the sequel, the two, travel to London to attend the funeral of the British Prime Minister. Terrorists come of the woodwork, seeking to capitalize on this confluence of world leaders.

This is only the first little teaser, but it would appear that President Asher doesn’t have to play the damsel in distress in this one, and gets to assist Banning with the world-saving. Call me crazy, but I like the on-the-nose use of “London Bridge is Falling Down” underneath it.

Radha Mitchell is back as Banning’s wife Leah. Maybe he’ll take her along for that long-delayed honeymoon. (A little snogging would be nice, Butler. Throw your distaff fans a bone.) My guess is that the other returning players, including Head of the Secret Service, Lynn Jacobs (Angela Bassett), Speaker of the House Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), Secretary of Defense McMillan (Melisso Leo)NSA Deputy Director Ray Monroe (Sean O’Bryan) and even blowhard General Clegg (Robert Forster) are probably all left at home manning the switches.

The sequel to the worldwide smash hit Olympus Has Fallen begins in London, where the British Prime Minister has passed away under mysterious circumstances. His funeral is a must-attend event for leaders of the western world. But what starts out as the most protected event on earth, turns into a deadly plot to kill the world’s most powerful leaders, devastate every known landmark in the British capital, and unleash a terrifying vision of the future. Only three people have any hope of stopping it: the President of the United States, his formidable secret service head (Gerard Butler), and an English MI-6 agent who rightly trusts no one.

Directed by Babak Najafi ( Easy Money II: Hard to Kill, “Banshee”), written by Katrin Benedikt and Creighton Rothenberger (who penned the original) and Christian Gudegast (A Man Apart, Den of Thieves**) with Chad St. John, the sequel also stars Charlotte Riley, Colin Salmon,  Patrick Kennedy, Shivani Ghai, Mehdi Dehbi and Andrew Pleavin*** and will be released on January 22, 2016.

More will surely follow.

London Has Fallen, movie, poster, Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart

*I know, I know. The rule is “beware the films of January” – but I’ve also said January is not the wasteland it used to be. I’m holding onto a kernel of hope. It’s Gerard Butler after all. I’m nothing if not loyal. I’m more perturbed by the fact that this film’s date was usurped by the Point Break remake.

**Den of Thieves is in pre-production and also stars Gerard Butler. I have to wonder whether or not it’s in jeopardy, like the oft-rescheduled Hunter Killer, due to Relativity’s financial woes.

***3rd time Pleavin will have appeared with Butler, following the made-for-television mini-series “Attila” and then 300

#MattDamon Knows Help Is Only 140 Million Miles Away in #TheMartian’s First Trailer

The Martian, Matt Damon, Sir Ridley Scott, movie, poster

…and he’s gonna “science the shit out of {it}”.

From Sir Ridley Scott, with a cast as impressive as this one boasts, it’s a safe bet that I will see The Martian, even if it were a live action version of Bugs Bunny’s nemesis Marvin the Martian’s life story.  Judging from the just released first trailer, it is not. What it does appear to be is a combination of both Gravity and Interstellar while managing to up the ante on them both.

I.CAN’T.WAIT.

Take a look at this:

While I’m on record as not being a proponent of 3D just for the sake of it, I believe a movie like this will probably benefit from every bit of technological wizardry that’s thrown at it. I’ll see it in IMAX 3D if it’s available.

During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return.

While Sir Ridley needs no introduction, The Martian is based on a best-selling (first) novel* by Andy Weir, and the screenplay was written by Drew Goddard, also responsible for the scripts for Cloverfield (and its upcoming sequel), The Cabin in the Woods, and World War Z, as well as a lot of episodes of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Angel”, “Alias” and “Lost”. Oh yeah, and he created current Netflix hit “Daredevil”.

As he did with Prometheus, Scott has embraced the era of viral marketing. The first promo for The Martian has been released, called “Ares Farewell”. In it, Matt Damon’s Mark Watney “interviews” the crew of the Ares (which for some reason he calls the Hermes. I wonder if the ship’s name was changed?**) as they do their final pre-flight checks. It’s designed to be viewed on your computer or device screen and includes pop-up “tweets”. One of which, “Vogel (Aksel Hennie) has to be the #synthetic right…#AresLive”, is a brilliant reference to characters in Ridley Scott’s previous space films, Alien and Prometheus.

Besides Damon, the cast includes Jessica Chastain***, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Hennie, Donald Glover and Mackenzie Davis.

The Martian, Matt Damon, Sir Ridley Scott, movie, poster

The Martian opens all over this planet beginning with the US on November 25 and the UK on 27th November.

*Weir first published the book in blog form on his own site. When people asked for a downloadable form, he offered it on Amazon for Kindle download at the (then) minimum price of $0.99. Now that’s a self-publishing success story.
**Ares is the Greek God of war. Hermes is the Greek God of transitions and boundaries, as well as being a messenger and a protector and patron of travelers. He’s the equivalent of the Roman God Mercury. Both are typically depicted with wings on their heels and/or helmets. JMHO, but Hermes seems like a better name for the spacecraft taking a crew to Mars.
***Both Damon and Chastain appeared in Interstellar, but shared no scenes together.

#TomCruise is Still Trying to Get That Door Open in 2nd Trailer for MI:5 – Rogue Nation

Mission Impossible, Rogue Nation, movie, poster, Tom Cruise

The Avengers may have kicked off the summer tent-pole season, but for my money, it won’t be official until I hear the opening strains of Lalo Schifrin’s “Mission Impossible” theme.

Call me crazy, but I still get excited whenever I hear the “dun dun dun dun DUN dun”. I still look forward to whatever shenanigans that Ethan Hunt and company are likely to get up to in the latest installment of the Mission Impossible film franchise. Despite how looney tunes Tom Cruise is, may be, or you perceive him to be, he continues to provide a pretty reliable return on the investment of  whatever you paid for your ticket. JMHO, but I think he’s crazy like a fox. He’s still one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, whatever we think of him here at home. And I don’t think the fact that he puts 110% into his performances (or at least 110% of what he has left after the Thetans have taken their cut) can be called into question. Those big global bucks ensure that, even at 52,  Paramount is still willing to let Cruise run amok by doing his own stunts, (which seem to get more outrageous the older he gets and despite the fact that he was injured six times on this film) and the special effects wizards keep getting to invent at least semi-plausible weapons and gadgets. (Can you imagine if Ethan Hunt were to team up with James Bond?)

The IMF team once again includes Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames. The new addition is Rebecca Ferguson (“The White Queen”) plays the film’s Ilsa Faust (a better name for a femme fatale has not been cooked up since, well, since Natasha Fatale), stepping into the shoes vacated by Paula Patton as Ethan’s arm candy. Faust, judging from the trailer, would seem to have some skills as well.

Natasha Fatale

Other newcomers include Simon McBurney, the always excellent and usually menacing Sean Harris and Alec Baldwin as the head of the CIA who apparently wants the heads of the IMF on a plate.

Ethan and team take on their most impossible mission yet, eradicating the Syndicate – an International rogue organization as highly skilled as they are, committed to destroying the IMF.

The Syndicate is the name of the organization that regularly provided the baddies for the original “Mission: Impossible” tv show. (What SPECTRE is to Bond and T.H.R.U.S.H.  is to the Man From U.N.C.L.E. – both of which will be revisited this year. That’s why Paramount moved the release date up from Christmas. MI5 gets to be first. Here’s a bit of trivia: Cruise was cast as Napoleon Solo, but dropped out to focus on MI5.) The film starts where Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (hard to believe that was 3 1/2 years ago) ends, with Ethan prepping his team to investigate the Syndicate.  Anyway, watch this:

“This may be our last mission. Let’s make it count.”  As if. As long as they keep making money, Tom Cruise will keep making Mission Impossible movies. I’m sure someone can figure out how to turn a walker into a weapon.  Bring it.

Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie (who has become Cruise’s go-to collaborator of late), Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation opens in the UK on 30th July and in the US on July 31.

JMHO Trailer Park: Blue-Eyed #JasonMomoa, #MichaelShannon Becomes Nucky,#JakeGyllenhaal Goes Up a Mountain & #CareyMulligan Takes a Stand

Debug, poster, movie, Jason Momoa, David Hewlett

I’m already skeptical whenever I find out about a film just prior to its release, after filming has taken place, posters put out, clips slipped to media outlets, etc.  I’m especially suspicious when the star of the flick is someone to whom I usually pay rather close attention. In this case, the movie is Debug and its “star” is Jason Momoa.

So, what exactly is going on here?

“Deep space. Six young hackers on a grueling work release program attempt to clear out – debug – the computer systems of a massive derelict space freighter. They quickly fall prey to the ship’s vengeful artificial intelligence, a program that would kill to be human. As the fractious team is forced to match wits with this rogue program, they discover that the ship holds a deadly secret, and a fate far worse than death.” 

Uh huh.

JoBlo has gotten their hands on an exclusive clip, in which Jason Momoa as Iam is doing battle with someone called Kaida (Jeaneann Goossen) which you can take a look at below:

Momoa’s the only “name” in the cast and his face is front and center on the poster, but he’s listed with “and”, which leads me to believe that it’s a cameo and there isn’t much more of him than in the clip.

The writer/director of this magnum opus is one David Hewlett. Yes, “Stargate: Atlantis” fans, THAT David Hewlett. I can only surmise that Mr. Momoa signed on as a favor to an old friend. The rest of the cast includes Tenika Davis, Adrian Holmes, Adam Butcher and Kerr Hewitt. JMHO, but I can’t see anything to recommend Debug, other than as a curiosity.

Jason Momoa, movie, photo, Debug, David Hewlett

Except that it’s hard to find fault with a blue-eyed Jason Momoa. Yes, I’m that shallow.

Debug gets a simultaneous (limited) theatrical, dvd & blu-ray bow on June 12.

99 Homes, Michael Shannon, Andrew Garfield, Laura Dern, movie, poster

At the other end of the spectrum, 99 Homes has been making a splash on the festival circuit for nearly a year, screening to critical acclaim at 2014’s Venice, Telluride and Toronto Fests, as well as Sundance 2015, among others. I’ve been wondering when or even if, it was going to get a domestic release. The answer is yes, on September 25.

The always excellent, always watchable Michael Shannon stars with Andrew Garfield, Laura Dern, Tim Guinee and (our social-media friend) Noah Lomax, in writer/director Ramin Bahrani‘s look at the fall-out from the economic collapse that forced millions of Americans from their homes. Frankly, I can’t wait to see how he fashioned a thriller out of the very real pain from which a lot of those people are still reeling.

A father struggles to get back the home that his family was evicted from by working for the greedy real estate broker who’s the source of his frustration.

Bahrani’s previous films have all been interested in social justice, from 2005’s award-winning Man Push Cart to 2012’s undervalued and underseen At Any Price (with Dennis Quaid).

Here, Garfield plays single dad Dennis Nash and Shannon, Rick Carver, the real estate agent who took his home. I’m still coming to terms with the fact that Laura Dern is old enough to play Andrew Garfield’s mother, but all glibness aside, the trailer alone will gut-punch you. Likening the housing crisis of the early 21st century to the Great Depression of the 20th, let me say that this isn’t Henry Gondorff and Johnny Hooker trying to take down fat-cat Doyle Lonnegan. This is The Grapes of Wrath with oranges.

The trailer:

99 HOMES hits theaters September 25, 2015.

Everest, Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal, movie, photo

Based on a true story, Baltasar Kormakur‘s Everest, tells the tale of two climbing expeditions trapped on the titular mountain by a severe storm. Personally I don’t know why anyone would want to climb the world’s highest peak, but then again, I can’t climb to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument without getting severe  .

I would, however, pay for a ticket to watch Jake Gyllenhaal, Keira Knightley and Jason Clarke battle the elements as they attempt to reach the summit of said mountain. Especially when the screenplay comes from Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) and Lem Dobbs (The Limey) among others.

As revealed in the trailer sets up an understandably intense battle of man versus nature when one of the biggest snowstorms in recorded history bears down on the two groups  of climbers.

The cast also includes Robin Wright, Josh Brolin, Emily Watson, Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Debicki, Michael Kelly, John Hawkes, Martin Henderson and Vanessa Kirby, to name but a few.

Take a look:

Everest opens in the US on September 18 and in the UK on 25th September.

Anne-Marie Duff, Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Romola Garai, photo, movie, Suffragette

It’s 2015 and we’re (hopefully) about to elect the first female President of these United States. How is it possible that Suffragette is the first feature film to tell the story of the movement that that led to the right of women to vote, first in Great Britain and then in America. Call them suffragettes or call them early feminists, these women risked everything for what should be a basic human right in a civilized society, something as simple as having a voice that counted.

The foot soldiers of the early feminist movement, women who were forced underground to pursue a dangerous game of cat and mouse with an increasingly brutal State.

Maybe it’s because, while there have been victories, the war continues, maybe it’s the raw humanity that star Carey Mulligan so effortlessly projects, or maybe it was just the ethereal version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” sung by Robyn Sherwell, but this trailer gave me chills.

It was smart to limit La Streep’s appearance in this first trailer. As the head of the movement Emmeline Pankhurst, I expect Meryl Streep to have little more than a cameo and the film shouldn’t be sold on her name alone.  Helena Bonham Carter, Anne-Marie Duff and most especially, Mulligan, are obviously the heart and soul.

Written by Abi Morgan (Shame, The Iron Lady), Suffragette also stars two of the cast of her BBC drama “The Hour”, Romola Garai and Ben Whishaw.  The patriarchal oppressors are represented by Brendan Gleason, Geoff Bell, and Samuel West. The rest of the cast includes Morgan Watkins, Natalie Press and Adrian Schiller. Directed by Sarah Gavron, Suffragette will open the BFI London Film Festival on 7th October before opening in the US (23rd) and the UK (30th) later in the month.  Expect this to be  major player come awards season.

 

Watch #JasonSegel and #JesseEisenberg Have a Great Conversation in #TheEndoftheTour

poster, movie, The End of the Tour, David Foster Wallace, Jason Segel, Jesse Eisenberg, James Ponsoldt

The first trailer for Sundance favorite, The End of the Tour, directed by James Ponsoldt and starring Jason Segel as the late David Foster Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg as his erstwhile biographer (actually he’s a writer for Rolling Stone), has just been dropped by A24.
Let me start by reiterating that I am not a huge fan of Jesse Eisenberg. Anything past Zombieland, when I wasn’t all that familiar with him, including The Social Network and Now You See Me, all I ever see is Jesse Eisenberg. While it might be difficult for the actor to portray himself onscreen, and that might account for the kudos usually showered upon his performances, I never see a “character”. I never forget who I’m watching.
That out of the way, let me just say that I’ve been a Jason Segel fan since “Freaks and Geeks”. While I still mourn that show’s untimely demise (yes, fifteen years later), I take comfort in the fact that nearly every member of the cast has gone on to bigger and better things. Many of whom are even household names. (Poor Samm Levine. Quentin Tarantino put him in Inglourious Basterds, but I don’t think I’ve seen him since. Apparently, he’s done a lot of television *shrug*.)
These days Segel is probably best known for seven seasons of “How I Met Your Mother”, as well as comedic turns in Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I Love You Man (all having at least a little something to do with Judd Apatow) and The Muppets.
Stretching toward “dramedy” in 2011, Segel did Jeff Who Lives at Home for the Duplass brothers. (It costars Ed Helms, Judy Greer and Susan Sarandon. It’s on Netflix. See it, if you haven’t) He co-wrote, co-produced (along with Apatow, among others) and starred in 2012’s The Five Year Engagement, with Emily Blunt. The cast also included Chris Pratt, Alison Brie and Jacki Weaver, and by all rights should have done better at the box office. The film’s release was delayed a number of times for various reasons, but I have to believe that not knowing which box it fit into and therefore the ability to sell it, is chief among them.
My point is that it’s not really a surprise that Segel is venturing into more serious territory. His contemporaries, most of which are also in the “Apatow Reperatory Company”, have certainly paved the way. (Sitting in the dark watching Superbad, who in their right mind would ever have predicted that Jonah Hill would now be known as a “two-time Academy Award nominee”? Insanity!)
Those who have already seen The End of the Tour, primarily at Sundance, have already put his name together with the phrase, “Best Actor contender”. Take a look:

While the movie is not about his death, knowing that Wallace committed suicide in 2008 makes all of this all the more poignant.

THE END OF THE TOUR tells the story of the five-day interview between Rolling Stone reporter (and novelist) David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) and acclaimed novelist David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel), which took place right after the 1996 publication of Wallace’s groundbreaking epic novel, Infinite Jest. As the days go on, a tenuous yet intense relationship seems to develop between journalist and subject. The two men bob and weave around each other, sharing laughs and also possibly revealing hidden frailties – but it’s never clear how truthful they are being with each other. Ironically, the interview was never published, and five days of audio tapes were packed away in Lipsky’s closet. The two men did not meet again. The film is based on Lipsky’s critically acclaimed memoir about this unforgettable encounter, written following Wallace’s 2008 suicide. Both Segel and Eisenberg reveal great depths of emotion in their performances and the film is directed with humor and tenderness by Sundance vet James Ponsoldt from Pulitzer- Prize winner Donald Margulies’ insightful and heartbreaking screenplay.

The End of the Tour is director James Ponsoldt’s fourth feature film and is being hailed as his best to date.(I admit that while I loved Smashed from 2012, which showed Aaron Paul was much more than Jesse Pinkman, I have yet to see 2013’s, The Spectacular Now [which launched Miles Teller], or his first film, Off the Black, from 2006.) It’s been playing film festivals non-stop since January. (Including the Boston Independent Film Festival in April. Sadly, I missed it.)
The cast also includes Anna Chlumsky, Mamie Gummer, Ron Livingston, Mickey Sumner and Joan Cusack. The film will get a (limited) release in the US on July 31. We can hope that also means a VoD release of some sort as well.

Watch the Brilliant First Clips from #Macbeth with #MichaelFassbender!

Macbeth, Michael Fassbender, movie, poster, Marion Cotillard, Justin Kurzel, Shakespeare, Scottish play

Justin Kurzel‘s Macbeth will have its (eagerly awaited) world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival tomorrow (May 23), as the final film in the main competition. (Bit of trivia. While it’s the third* film version of Shakespeare’s play to appear in Cannes, it is  the first to screen in competition.)

To celebrate, StudioCanal has just released two clips. At the risk of appearing to be a Fassbender fan site (since my last post was also about a Fassy film. What can I say, he’s about to have a HUGE year), I have to share them. Sweet baby jeebus, please let the rest of this film look as good as these tiny snippets!

The first clip, the appropriately titled “Battle” shows Michael Fassbender as Macbeth, with his friend and ally, Banquo (Paddy Considine) on one side and Jack Reynor as Malcolm on the other, as they prepare to fight in service of their king, Duncan (played by David Thewlis).

The mist shrouded Scottish Highlands are certainly used to good effect. The clip also reminds us that in those days, if you were tall enough to hold a sword, you were old enough to fight, as there seem to be a lot of teenage boys in the mix. As for the style, personally I can’t wait to see more. I like Kurzel’s choice to intercut the adreneline fueled, angry rush of one fighting force toward the other, with a silent, slow-motion, almost balletic clash. A battle scene shot like that (which, granted has been used poorly in less subtle ways since Zack Snyder made it popular with 300. I don’t anticipate cartoonish splatters of blood to fill the screen) makes the fight more personal, the combatants rendered individually rather than an angry, noisy clash of swords and bodies, where it’s impossible to tell who’s doing what to whom.

Speaking of 300, is it just me or is Fassbender’s leap an Easter Egg for fans who remember Stelios’ athleticism?

Stelios, 300, Michael Fassbender, Macbeth, photo, athleticism

The second clip, “Coronation” gives us a brief glimpse of the gorgeous (even under a veil) Marion Cotillard as Lady M, Sean Harris as Macduff and Elizabeth Debicki as his lady:

Even in that brief look, it’s clearly evident that the Macduffs are not happy with the precedings. But the biggest take-away for me is that stunning opening shot to this clip. I have rewatched it several times now and I’m just in awe of the way Kurzel and his director of photography, Adam Arkapaw (who worked with the director on The Snowtown Murders**), used the rays of the sun streaming through the cathedral windows to such great effect. They create a cross-hatch pattern that naturally blurs the background which makes the figures surrounding the throne stand-out in bas relief, despite the fact that they are in shadow.

Both of these snippets are short, but full of foreboding, the tension high, especially in the latter.

Macbeth, a duke of Scotland, receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth murders his king and takes the throne for himself.

Macbeth will get a UK release on October 2 (which curiously predates the opening of the BFI London Film Festival by five days. This seems like a natural choice. Oh well. No one asked me.). No US dates announced yet, but Harvey Weinstein won a bidding war for the rights and he’s already said he’s positioning it for an awards season push. Expect it in November or December.

*after 1971’s version directed by Roman Polanski and director Claude d’Anna‘s French version in 1987.

**The Snowtown Murders is on Netflix. If you haven’t seen it, you need to.

There’s More to Life Than Just Surviving in New UK Trailer for #SlowWest w #MichaelFassbender

Slow West, movie, poster, trailer, Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ben Mendelsohn, John Maclean

This new trailer, just released to flog the UK release of first-feature director John Maclean‘s Slow West, is a lot more revealing, despite its short length, than the domestic version we got last month.

This time around we get Michael Fassbender‘s voice-over, as well as a better look at Ben Mendelsohn (always a good thing) and a brief glimpse of Rory McCann.

The story is a sort of Old West Romeo and Juliet/classic western mashup that sees Kodi Smit-McPhee’s Jay Cavendish travel to the American west of the late 19th century from his native Scotland, all to find the girl he loves (Caren Pistorius), whose father (McCann) has spirited her away. Of course, Cavendish is the proverbial fish out of water, stranger in a strange land, take your pick, in need of his own rescue. Enter Silas (Fassbender – who also produced, and developed the script with Maclean), who becomes his mysterious “chaperone”.

Ben Mendelsohn, doing one of the things he does so very well, is the villain of the piece. (Or at least one of them. Maybe the one who fits most squarely into that box.)

Far from giving everything away, the trailer gives us just enough new material to keep not only keep our interest piqued, but makes us eager for more. Fassbender’s performance has been compared to Clint Eastwood (of whom he’s a huge fan) as well as Burt Lancaster, both favorably I might add. Not sure I see either of those two, yet, but I can’t wait to judge for myself. A24 will release Slow West, which premiered in January at Sundance, in the US this coming Friday, May 15 (limited) and on 26th June in the UK.