Another Look at Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard in Macbeth!

Macbeth, Scottish play, Shakespeare, movie, still, Marion Cotillard, Michael Fassbender

Another new image has just been released from Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth. It again features Michael Fassbender as the titular Scottish Laird, this time speckled with blood as he gazes adoringly at his “Lady M”, Marion Cotillard.

This photo follows the two that surfaced just ten days ago.

No release dates for the film have yet been announced, and imdb still lists a vague “2015”. I have to wonder though, given that the publicity stream has started to flow, whether that might be moved up to late 2014 – you know, awards season. It won’t make Cannes next month, since that schedule has already been announced (or is a late edition possible, given that Fassbender has a high profile film like X-Men: Days of Future Past about to open around the same time?), but it could make Venice or TIFF. If a trailer arrives in the next month or so, I’d say 2014 will be a safer bet, with or without a festival appearance. JMHO

Macbeth is directed by Justin Kurzel (The Snowtown Murders), from a script by Jacob Koskoff and Todd Louiso, based on Shakespeare’s play. It also stars Sean Harris, Paddy Considine, David Thewlis, Jack Reynor and Elizabeth Debicki.

First Look at Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys

Jersey Boys, musical, movie, banner, Franki Valli, The Four Seasons

It was inevitable that sooner rather than later, someone would attempt to turn Jersey Boys, the smash hit Broadway musical chronicling the rise of the last princes of do-wop, Franki Valli and the Four Seasons, into a movie. I’m not sure anyone thought that someone would be Clint Eastwood, in fact Jon Favreau was Warner Brothers’ first choice. But Eastwood has mellowed in his old age, and he’s done it nonetheless.

This is the director’s first film since 2011’s J. Edgar, so maybe this is something of a salve to his wounds suffered from the slings and arrows of the critics surrounding that movie. It’s also his first true musical as a director. He did, of course, costar in 1969’s Paint Your Wagon. (Paramount obviously hopes to capitalize on this fact. Two weeks ago they put it on YouTube to rent for $2.99.) He’s an accomplished jazz pianist and has composed all or part of quite a few of his own films’ scores. In 1988, Eastwood directed Bird to a gaggle of Golden Globe, BAFTA and other award nominations, as well as a Best Actor Award at Cannes for Forest Whitaker.  So a movie version of a Broadway musical isn’t as far fetched for Eastwood as it might be for say, Quentin Tarantino. In any case, despite the fact that he’s showing no signs of “retiring”, the man is 83. Maybe directing a musical was on his “bucket-list”. (If it was, Clint, then there’s really no need to do A Star is Born, is there? Let Jay-Z buy his wife another director.)

The screenplay, which was written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice,who wrote the musical’s book, as well as John Logan (Hugo, Skyfall, Coriolanus, The Hurt Locker, and a lot of other really good films that don’t revolve around anyone singing), opens up the stage version to focus on not just the music, but the group’s hard-knock days on the streets of Jersey (where “girls comb their hair in rear-view mirrors and the boys try to look so hard”…wait that’s another Jersey icon) and their alleged association with the mafia.

Clint Eastwood’s big screen version of the Tony Award-winning musical tells the story of the four young men from the wrong side of the tracks in New Jersey who came together to form the iconic `60s rock group The Four Seasons. Their trials and triumphs are accompanied by the hit songs that influenced a generation, and are now being embraced by a new generation of fans through the stage musical.(c) Warner Bros.


John Lloyd Young, won a Tony playing Franki Valli on Broadway, but he wasn’t a shoe-in for the film. Although Eastwood didn’t want “Hollywood actors’ for the main roles, an extensive search went on before Young was finally cast. The studio had, at one point, attached Dominic Cooper, Paul Dano, and James Badge Dale, but the director won out and got the stage actors who had played the roles night after night.

Just my humble opinion, but the titular quartet doesn’t sound much like The Four Seasons. Young’s got a nasal quality to his falsetto that is too pronounced for my taste. That said, so what? We all know the songs and that’s the real reason anyone will be going out to the multiplex to watch Jersey Boys. I will see it just to sit in the dark with my popcorn, tap my toes and “silently” sing along. (I will do this even though I have always loathed one of the songs at the center of this movie. You try dealing with people singing “Sherry Baby” AT you in BAD falsetto, the first time they learn your name.) Ten bucks for a movie is a lot less than a ticket to even the cheapest dinner-theater version of the stage musical and if this first trailer is any indication, this movie will probably make money hand over fist. Since it is Clint Eastwood’s name over the title, it will, as usual, be considered an early Oscar contender, especially since the Academy’s notoriously “older” demographic will eat it with a spoon… that is if they can remember that far back come selection time. The June 20 release date is a bit like the early-bird special.  Perhaps the WB, Eastwood’s longtime collaborator has determined that commerce, in this case, trumps art. They have Transcendence to pay for.

Jersey Boys, directed by Clint Eastwood with John Lloyd Young as Frankie Valli, Erich Bergen as Bob Gaudio, who wrote most of the group’s songs, Vincent Piazza as Tommy DeVito, Michael Lomenda as Nick Massi, and Christopher Walken as Gyp DeCarlo, opens June 20 in both the US and the UK.  (Is it too much to ask for a shot of Walken dancing to “You’re Just to Good to Be True”?)  Oh, and as usual, the director has worked in a part for one of his kids: Francesca Eastwood as “Waitress”.

Jersey Boys, musical, movie, banner, Franki Valli, The Four Seasons

Will We Get to Hear The Immigrant’s Song At Last?

Cannes 2013, poster, movie, The Immigrant

Finally, a domestic trailer for James Gray’s The Immigrant has been released, re-whetting my appetite for a film that I had given up hope of ever seeing, unless it was picked up by Showtime (that island of misfit independent films). Happily, I was wrong. The delay seems to have more to do with The Weinstein Company’s desire to give the film some breathing room, than any doubts about its theatrical worth.

The year is 1920. In search of a new start and the American dream, Ewa Cybulski and her sister Magda sail to New York from their native Poland. When they reach Ellis Island, doctors discover that Magda is ill, and the two women are separated. Ewa is released onto the mean streets of Manhattan while her sister is quarantined. Alone, with nowhere to turn and desperate to reunite with Magda, she quickly falls prey to Bruno, a charming but wicked man who takes her in and forces her into prostitution. And then one day, Ewa encounters Bruno’s cousin, the debonair magician Orlando. He sweeps Ewa off her feet and quickly becomes her only chance to escape the nightmare in which she finds herself.

Those who have seen the film, as is evidenced by the blurbs which pepper the trailer, were charmed and moved by it. Comparisons to Elia Kazan don’t come lightly to most.  It’s probably no accident that the trailer brings to mind Kazan’s America, America as well as Sergio Leone‘s Once Upon a Time in America. In any event, it looks to have been beautifully photographed by Darius Khondji (Amour, Midnight in Paris). The music under the trailer was not composed for this film, but it is by a Polish composer, Wojciech Kilar. I hope Christopher Spellman, who has scored three previous Gray films (all of which starred Joaquin Phoenix as well), captures the themes and the period as well as Kilar’s piece. Look for Spellman in a cameo as Arturo Toscanini.

For my part, Marion Cotillard looks appropriately waif-like, bordering on consumptive, while managing to maintain her luminous beauty. I have no doubt she’ll be wonderful. Phoenix looks restrained, but the hint of menace is still there. I’ll be waiting for the other shoe to drop after every line he utters. The question mark for me will be Jeremy Renner’s Orlando. Is he the good guy? The romantic lead? That would be a nice change. We’ll see.

Here’s the first full-length domestic trailer:

thank you JoBlo


I followed the production of The Immigrant pretty closely when it was still called “Untitled James Gray Project” (way back when I was still writing for I Need My Fix *moment of silence*). The title then became Lowlife, then Nightingale, and finally, The Immigrant. After screening in-competition at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival in May and the New York Film Festival in October, followed by fests in Chicago, Miami and all over the rest of the world, again there’s really been no word on whether or not this film would ever see the light of a US day. Next week, it will play another festival, this one in Newport Beach, CA and then in May, The Immigrant will finally get a (limited) release on the 16th, thanks to Harvey and The Weinstein Company. Now, if you don’t happen to live in either NY or LA, the odds are you won’t see it unless you have some form of OnDemand. (I’m still hoping we’ll get it here in cinema-friendly Boston.)

The same fate was suffered by Blood Ties, the 2nd James Gray/Marion Cotillard collaboration (albeit he only wrote it and Cotillard’s husband Guillaume Canet directed it). That one was filmed after The Immigrant, yet released first. But unless you were actively looking for it, you’d have missed it both in NY/LA theaters AND VoD. It does make one wonder just how “lucky” their collaboration is, at least commercially. Artistically, however, is another matter. There is such a thing as art for art’s sake.

Cotillard was cast after she met Gray during a dinner where Gray and Canet were discussing the script for Blood Ties. The director claims that he had never seen any of Cotillard’s work, but was instantly drawn to her. He wrote the character, Ewa Cybulski, his first female lead, especially for her. He also wrote her a LOT of Polish dialogue for what was the French actress’s first English language LEAD, despite a lot of supporting roles.

Meanwhile, Cotillard’s accent has been discussed quite a bit recently. Justin Kurzel, directing a new version of Shakepeare’s Macbeth made the decision to let Lady Macbeth be French, rather than have his lead actress struggle to wrap her delicate French tongue around a Scottish accent. (Pitchfork wielding purists can relax. There is plenty of historical evidence to support the plausibility of Kurzel’s choice.) It does always amuse me when filmmakers assume that the ears of English speakers won’t be able to tell that an actor’s accent does not match their on-screen heritage, eg: in Dom Hemingway, we’re asked to buy Mexican actor Demian Bichir as a Russian gangster without any attempt to alter his speech patterns. (The movie itself is so over-the-top and one gets so caught up in its momentum that this might not bother most. It is merely the most recent example of this phenomenon.)

The Immigrant, directed by James Gray, with Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner, Angela Sarafyan, and Dogmara Domincyzk. Opens in New York and LA on May 16, before (hopefully) rolling out to more cities.

*(bit of trivia: she’s Mrs. Patrick Wilson)



Trailer…No Spoiler! 1st Look at David Fincher’s Gone Girl

Ben Affleck, Gone Girl, still, movie

As I’ve noted more than once on this blog, movie trailers which deliver the intended tease without actually spoiling the whole thing are few and far between, which is why it’s worth mentioning when discussing the first full-length trailer for David Fincher’s Gone Girl.
Ben Affleck plays Nick Dunne, whose beautiful wife Amy (Rosamund Pike), has disappeared and is eventually presumed dead. Of course, the husband is the prime suspect. Take a look:

Having read the book, I can tell you that there is much more than meets the eye in this first 90 seconds of footage. I think Affleck is a good choice to play Nick. He’s a man used to coasting by on his boyish charm, and good looks. Affleck’s trademark crooked grin will serve him well.  Amy Dunne is always described as beautiful in a cultured and classic way, a description that fits Pike, in my humble opinion.
I’m not sold on the supporting cast, which we don’t really see a lot of here. I can’t imagine that I’m going to like Tyler Perry as Tanner Bolt, a small, but pivotal role, but I do think I’ll like Kim Dickens as Det. Rhonda Boney. I have no doubt that Neil Patrick Harris will kill it as Desi. Carrie Coon plays Nick’s twin sister Margo (called ‘Go). I don’t know her from anything other than the trailer for HBO’s “The Leftovers”. Coon is a NY stage actress and she must have really impressed Fincher, since ‘Go is crucial.
Speaking of Fincher, in addition to his trademark thrills, and a few chills, he’s promised that even those of us who have read the book are in for some surprises. After filming Stieg Larsson’s beloved “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”, he decided he’d been too slavishly devoted to the source material. With Gone Girl, and with author Gillian Flynn’s enthusiastic support, he’s supposedly deconstructed the novel and put it back together again. (He’d just about have to. So much of the book is epistolary, in the form of Amy’s diary entries. )
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who scored The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, are back to do the music, and just as they did with Led Zeppelin’s “The Immigrant Song” for that trailer, they’ve provided a cover, this time of Elvis Costello’s “She” (sung by Richard Butler of The Psychedelic Furs) for Gone Girl’s first look. Perfect-JMHO.

Gone Girl, David Fincher, Rosamund Pike, Ben Affleck, magazine cover

Another Visit to the JMHO Trailer Park

Frank, movie, still, Michael Fassbender, papier-mache head

Welcome to another edition of JMHO Trailer Park, wherein I attempt to bring you the best of (what I consider to be) the best trailers for upcoming films.

First up, to celebrate Michael Fassbender‘s much deserved win for Best Supporting Actor (for 12 Years a Slave) at Sunday night’s Jameson Empire Film Awards, as well as his 37th birthday tomorrow, I bring you the trailer for Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank. which I had mentioned briefly back in July.

Frank is the story of Jon (Domnhall Gleason), a would-be musician, who discovers he’s bitten off more than he can chew when he joins an avant-garde  pop band led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank (Fassbender), and the very scary Clara, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal.  Frank is mysterious and enigmatic mostly because he never appears in public (or anywhere else really) without his giant papier-mache head.  The film is a fictional story loosely inspired by Frank Sidebottom, the persona of cult musician and comedian Chris Sievey, as well as other outsider musicians like Daniel Johnston and Captain Beefheart.  The screenplay was written by Jon Ronson (based on his memoir) and Peter Straughan (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), and the flick’s cast also includes Scoot McNairy, and Tess Harper.

In the world of alternative music, The Soronprfbs are the ne plus ultra of outsiders. A brilliant, ramshackle, barely functioning band, they are built around the eponymous Frank (Michael Fassbender), an unstable yet charismatic musical savant, who at all times wears a large, round fake head with crudely paintedOon features O like Daniel Johnston hidden behind a cartoon smile. His closest musical collaborator is the forbidding Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal); part caretaker, part jailer, Clara is the antithesis of all things mainstream. The band is completed by Nana (Carla Azar), a Moe TuckerOlike drummer, and Baraque (Francois Civil), a beautiful Frenchman who plays bass. Into this mix comes replacement keyboard player, Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), after the band’s original keyboardist is hospitalized following an attempt at drowning himself. In his head, Jon’s is a true creative, a maverick musical force; in reality he’s a very ordinary young man trying to escape his humOdrum, smallOtown life. For Jon, this is the break he’s been waiting for, his chance to climb through the looking glass and into the world of artistic collaboration, real musicOmaking, and rock ‘n’ roll adventure that he’s always dreamed of. But he discovers (and perhaps has always suspected) that he lacks the one thing he needs to make his dream come true – genuine talent.

While most of us wonder why anyone would hire Michael Fassbender and then stick a giant fake head on him, I can also imagine that for Fassbender, the reluctant movie star who can probably sympathize with Frank quite a bit, it would be freeing. Having filmed 12 Years a Slave then The Counselor, both requiring a lot of intensity, throwing himself into something so completely different, a comedy of sorts, would almost be a vacation.

Frank premiered at Sundance in January, played South by Southwest last week and will play Sundance London in April before opening in the UK on May 2. No US date yet, but I have no doubt one will be forthcoming, for NY and LA at least. Unless I miss my guess, it’ll be VOD for the rest of us.

Devil's Knot, movie, poster, Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth

It would appear that Michael Fassbender (not to mention James Brown) has some serious competition for the title of “the hardest working man in show business”. Colin Firth has four titles that will be released in 2014. In addition to Railway Man, Before I Go To Sleep and Paddington (all featuring Nicole Kidman), there’s a project called Devil’s Knot, directed by Atom Egoyan and costarring Reese Witherspoon, and is based on the story of the “West Memphis Three”. It played the Toronto International Film Festival last year, but I don’t remember hearing a thing about it.

The story is probably at least a little familiar. In 1993, three teen boys (here played by James Hamrick, Seth Meriwether and Kristopher Higgins)  were convicted of the murder of three eight-year-olds, in what was widely reported at the time to have been a satanic ritual. Subsequently, private investigators were able to pull apart the original prosecution case, but the presiding judge in their appeal, who freed them after 17 years in prison, did not overturn their convictions (so they are not entitled to any form of compensation).

There have been four documentaries made about this case: Joe Berlinger’s Paradise Lost series of three films, and Amy BergWest of Memphis, but this is the first dramatization. Witherspoon plays the mother of one of the victims, and Firth a private investigator trying to discern fact from fiction in a scared and angry community.

“The savage murders of three young children sparks a controversial trial of three teenagers accused of killing the kids as part of a satanic ritual.”

Take a look at the trailer:

This one may not have been on my radar before, but it certainly is now. Also starring Alessandro Nivola, Amy Ryan, Mireille Enos, Elias Koteas, Stephen Moyer, Kevin Durand, Martin Henderson, Bruce Greenwood and Dane DeHaan, Devil’s Knot has been given a US release date of May 9. It’s already played Egoyan’s native Canada. The UK will get it 13 June.

Under the Skin , poster, movie, Scarlett Johansson

Under the Skin has gotten a lot of attention because Scarlett Johansson walks around Glasgow  (and into the wet-dreams of a million fanboys) stark naked.  It’s also garnering director Jonathan Glazer comparisons to less a master than Stanley Kubrick. I enjoyed Glazer’s first two films, the gangster flick Sexy Beast with Ray Winstone and Ben Kingsley and the under-rated (at least at the time) Birth with Nicole Kidman and Danny Huston, I’ll have to see Under the Skin before I can endorse that kudo. (Not that anyone’s holding their breath for my endorsement lol).  Birth, about a woman’s husband who may or may not have been reincarnated in the form of a young boy who is determined to convince her,  would seem to have more in common with Under the Skin at least visually, with it’s scenes of a stark New York in winter filled with gray half-light and chilly fog.

The premise is simple: “An alien seductress preys upon hitchhikers in Scotland. ” But from the accounts of people who’ve seen it at festivals, that’s only the beginning and it is pretty damn scary. Sounds good to me! Check out the the ethereal posters by artist Neil Kellerhouse (via TotalFilm) below.

Under the Skin doesn’t have a big name cast. In fact you probably won’t recognize anyone other than Johansson. It opens here this Friday, April 4. Counter-programming for Captain America?

Only Lovers Left Alive, movie, poster, vampires, Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton

And in the third and final Michael Fassbender reference in this post, we have the trailer to Jim Jarmusch‘s imagined lives of vampires,  Only Lovers Left Alive. The vampire love story which would seem to ooze even more cool than blood (and it won’t be short of that I’m sure), pairs Tilda Swinton with Tom Hiddleston. What’s that got to do with Fassbender? Michael Fassbender dropped out,  making way for Hiddleston. I have no problem with that whatsoever. It would undoubtedly have been great fun watching Fassbender with Swinton, but  it would definitely appear that T.H. OWNS the role of Adam, a vampire who has been in love with Swinton’s Eve for eons, drifting in and out of each other’s “lives” and the centuries, searching for meaning.

Much like Anne Rice’s vampire prince, Lestat, Adam is a musician – in this century a rock musician. Unlike Lestat, it appears that Adam does not crave the spotlight. The movie begins when Adam’s  depression over the direction human society has taken sparks a reunion with his lover Eve.  Their romantic interlude is interrupted by the appearance of her little “sister” Ava, played by Mia Wasikowska. (Every time I see the trailer I have to remind myself that it is Wasikowska, and not Juno Temple.)

“Set against the romantic desolation of Detroit and Tangiers, an underground musician, deeply depressed by the direction of human activities, reunites with his resilient and enigmatic lover. Their love story has already endured several centuries at least, but their debauched idyll is soon disrupted by her wild and uncontrollable younger sister. Can these wise but fragile outsiders continue to survive as the modern world collapses around them?”

Jarmusch uses his usual light, sly touch with an emphasis on the humor of the situation and the intelligence of his characters… and his actors. Despite the fact that it’s a movie about vampires, this might be the director’s most accessible film yet. Watch the trailer and then watch the clip below it as these two impossibly and preternaturally beautiful people discuss the merits of Mary Wollstonecraft (mother of Mary Shelley and an author in her own right) and suck blood…on a stick.

I have an admitted vampire fetish and I have been waiting for this one for a long time. Also featuring Anton Yelchin, John Hurt, and Jeffrey Wright, Only Lovers Left Alive opens here in the US on April 11

The Drop, movie, Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini, poster

And finally, “Tom Hardy Week” rolls on with the very first trailer for Michaël Roskam’s The Drop (formerly known as Animal Rescue) that we told you about a few days ago.

The story, once again centers on Bob (Hardy) and Marv (James Gandolfini), the bar where they both work and the mob:

THE DROP is a new crime drama from Michaël R. Roskam, the Academy Award-nominated director of BULLHEAD. Based on a screenplay from Dennis Lehane (MYSTIC RIVER, GONE BABY GONE), THE DROP follows lonely bartender Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) through a covert scheme of funneling cash to local gangsters – “money drops” – in the underworld of Brooklyn bars. Under the heavy hand of his employer and cousin Marv (James Gandolfini), Bob 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.

The action has been moved from Boston to Brooklyn, but The Drop still feels very “Lehane” to me.  (And while I think Hardy’s Brooklyn-ese is pretty good, it would kill me if he butchered a Boston accent.) Matthias Schoenaerts is obviously a heavy (since he’s seen menacing the doll, played by Noomi Rapace) but judging from the synopsis, it sounds like the real villains will be the Russian mob and there may be more to his story.

In yet another WAY TOO EARLY Oscar prediction, if The Drop is as good as it looks from this first trailer,  James Gandolfini might just have one more shot at a posthumous Oscar.

It’s going to be a long wait until September. At least it looks like it’s shaping up to be a pretty good spring, at the multi-plex anyway.