Disney Drops Teensiest Musical Breadcrumbs Hoping to Lure Us Into the Woods

Into the Woods, movie, musical, poster, Meryl Streep, Disney, Sondheim

Back at the beginning of August, when I shared the first trailer for director Rob Marshall’s big screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, I wondered where the music was for this lavish movie musical, and why the producers were keeping it from us.

Well, now there’s a new featurette that lets us know that there will be music, but they’re still not ready to give us the “full Monty”, as it were. (Or the full Meryl for that matter). Streep has a lovely singing voice, but I’m still not convinced she possesses the power and range needed for the role – unless her best songs have been cut. Why the hell aren’t they leading with “Children Will Listen”? (They are, however, using a snippet of “Stay with Me”, another showstopper, but we only get the intro.)

We also get a better look at Johnny Depp as “the Wolf”.


Oh dear. Captain Jack has a brand new bag.

The brilliant minds at HitFix have said all there is to say about our first look at Depp’s latest paycheck grab role. Their ten best reactions are…priceless:

1. “Into the Woods” is going to feel like an Evanescence video directed by Tim Burton.
2. I’m guessing the Wolf’s parents are a Steven Tyler mic stand and a Stevie Nicks yard sale.
3. Can Russell Brand or Keith Richards sue Johnny Depp? Do they have to sue each other first?
4. When did Johnny Depp become an airbrushed Mickey Rourke?
5. I think he’s about to cry.
6. Little Red Riding Hood is looking at us like, “Can you believe I’m supposed to be scared of this freakish art dealer?”
7. Furry sleeves? He looks like Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer dyed turquoise.
8. You know Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter sit around dreading the day they’ll have to play each other.
9. It’s so easy to picture Meryl Streep laughing at this.
10. “Wolf” is code for “Willy Wonka’s sassy aunt.”

What are your thoughts? Do you agree?

INTO THE WOODS is a modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales, intertwining the plots of a few choice stories and exploring the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. This humorous and heartfelt musical follows the classic tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel—all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife, their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch who has put a curse on them.

You can find clips of the original Broadway cast of the show, here.

Into the Woods opens in the US on December 25, and 9th January in the UK. The cast includes Streep, Emily Blunt, James “The new Craig Ferguson” Corden, Chris Pine, Anna Kendrick, Mackenzie Mauzy, Daniel Huttlestone, Lilla Crawford, Tracy Ullman, Annette Crosbie, Tammy Blanchard, Lucy Punch, Simon Russell Beale, Billy Magnussen and Christine Baranski.

Watch Ben Barnes in 1st Trailer for Boston Crime Thriller, By the Gun

By the Gun, movie, poster, Ben Barnes, Leighton Meester, Boston, crime drama

So it looks like Ben Barnes, he of Dorian Grey and Prince Caspian fame, and Leighton Meester (of “Gossip Girl” fame) came to Boston last winter to make a movie. As if that pairing wasn’t high enough on the “improbable meter”, then how about we add Harvey Keitel and Toby Jones, who are both along for the ride. Wait…what?

Yes, it’s yet another Boston crime thriller about a guy who longs to be a “made man”. Of course, as soon as that box is ticked on the old bucket list, he meets the girl of his dreams and then wants out of the life.

By the Gun (original title God Only Knows) is written by Emilio Mauro (who is no Dennis Lehane, nor even Chuck Hogan, though he would seem to have borrowed tropes from both – among many others). Speaking of Hogan, director James Mottern is no Ben Affleck (who directed The Town based on Hogan’s book). Mottern did, however, make a pretty good directorial debut with Trucker back in 2008. (Didn’t see it? You’re certainly not alone, which is a shame. It gave Michelle Monaghan the role of her life.) He hasn’t directed anything since, but Trucker gives him the benefit of the doubt. (Provided he isn’t responsible for Meester’s casting.)

Nick Tortano (Barnes) is a smooth-talking, ambitious criminal from the streets of Boston. After years spent working for and idolizing the Italian gangsters he finally proves himself to the boss and becomes a made man. However, once inside, Nick conflicts with a moneymaker for the Mafia and begins to drive a wedge between him and the Boss.

Take a look at this first trailer:

I don’t think Mottern and Mauro are tilling any new ground here, but I’m a sucker for the genre and it’s set in my city, so there’s one ticket sold.

By the Gun also stars, Paul Ben-Victor, Slaine (Yes! A Lehane AND Affleck connection – Ben discovered Slaine for Gone Baby Gone. He is becoming the face of Southie.), and other assorted faces you’ve seen in a lot of wise-guy flicks, like Richie Coster, Michael Yebba, Jay Giannone (Gone Baby Gone, The Iceman and the upcoming Black Mass), and Damien DiPaola, plus former New England Patriots linebacker Tully Banta Cain making his film debut, and Kenny Footloose” Wormald. (Hey at least he was born in Boston. Maybe he helped with the accents.) Millennium Entertainment will give the film a limited theatrical and same-day VoD release on December 5. Wild horses couldn’t keep me away from this. Maybe I’ll go hang out at the red carpet premiere* on December 1 and totally fan-girl out!

*Actually, if anyone reading this is in the Boston area, tickets to the premiere and after-party can be had and the proceeds go to charity. Details here.

Watch Bradley Cooper Grapple with a Tough Choice in 1st Trailer for Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper

Clint Eastwood, American Sniper, Bradley Cooper, movie, photo, trailer

Just yesterday I posted the first two pics of a beefed-up Bradley Cooper in Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper. (Over on Facebook) Warner Bros. has now released the first trailer for Eastwood‘s much-anticipated war drama. Based on a true story, Cooper plays decorated Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who is credited with the most sniper kills in U.S. military history.

Sienna Miller plays as Kyle’s wife Taya Renae, while Cory Hardrict, Jake McDorman, Luke Grimes and Kyle Gallner play his comrades along with several real-life Navy SEALs, including Kyle’s actual friend Kevin “Dauber” Lacz.

Eastwood directs from a script by Jason Hall (Paranoia), based on Kyle’s book. Eastwood produced along with Cooper, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar and Peter Morgan. (If Morgan had written it, I’d be even more excited.)

Take a look. The tension in just this 1:45 bit of film is palpable.

This is actually the UK version of the trailer. I wonder what the US version will be like.

American Sniper, which also stars Eric Close, and Owain Yeoman, is the second Eastwood film we’re getting in the same year (after Jersey Boys. Yeah, I nearly forgot, too). There are, of course, rumblings that this will be a major player come awards season. Cooper could end up with his third nomination. The movie will get a limited, awards-qualifying release on December 25 before going wide on January 16, 2015.

Eastwood has proven that knows his way around a battlefield. The subject matter of American Sniper might not be to everyone’s liking and might still be too raw, but I’ve no doubt the execution, based on this trailer alone will be masterful. What do you think? Are you in or are you out?

Watch: Russell Crowe Looks to Make a Splash with Directorial Debut, The Water Diviner

poster, Russell Crowe, The Water Diviner, movie, trailer
I can’t seem to finish the discussions of films I have actually seen because I’m constantly being distracted by teasers of what’s yet to come. *ooo shiny!*

The latest cinematic bauble to catch my eye is the first trailer for Russell Crowe’s directorial debut, The Water Diviner.

The actor has been hard at work on the film for more than a year, but has managed to keep it pretty well under wraps, which makes this look at the some actual footage all the more enticing and exciting.

Crowe not only directs, but stars in the film as Connor, an Australian farmer who has sent three sons off to fight in “The Great War”. The film begins in 1919, almost three years since the Battle Of Gallipoli (the mere mention of which brings to mind images of a young Mel Gibson in Peter Weir’s fantastic film. It’s probably safe to assume that Crowe learned a thing or two from Weir). All three of his sons fought there, none of them came home. So Connor makes the trek to Turkey to find his missing boys.

The trailer leads us to believe that we’ll get flashbacks that will give us insight into Connor’s past relationships with his sons and why he’s compelled to make this trip. We also get flashes of their mother, Connor’s wife, played by Jacqueline McKenzie. It appears their relationship was a bit rocky, but it also appears that she was the final impetus for Connor’s journey. Which begs the question, is she alive or dead? Because it also seems like there will be some canoodling between Connor and whomever it is that is played by Olga Kurylenko. It’s obvious she figures into his quest in some way.

But enough of me, take a look at this:

JMHO, but based on this first trailer, Crowe has shown a surer hand on the tiller than a lot of his hyphenated peers *coughRyanGoslingcoughNicolasCagecoughMadonnacoughalthoughevencallingheranactorisastretch*. If the film is half as good as this self-assured trailer would suggest, it will be a lot closer to a Dances with Wolves or Braveheart than a W.E. or Lost River.

I love that Crowe decided his first time behind the camera should be a home-grown affair. It’s an Australian story, filmed primarily in Australia with an Australian cast and crew.

The screenplay was written by Andrew Knight, known primarily for Australian tv and Andrew Anastasios, a first-time scriptwriter. The cinematography, which the trailer teases exceptionally well, particularly with the shots of the sand storms, is by Andrew Lesnie, who has worked extensively with Peter Jackson, including all six of the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings films. I expect great things. The score was composed by David Hirschfelder (Australia, The Railway Man, Elizabeth). The film costars Aussies Isabel Lucas, Ryan Corr and Jai Courtney.

The Water Diviner opens in Australian and New Zealand on December 26, and the UK on 23rd January, but no US dates yet. I have no doubt one will be forthcoming.

This featurette goes further to show Crowe’s ties to the material and what it means to him, and the Australian people as a whole.


Final Trailer for Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar Teases Epic Space Odyssey Epically

Interstellar, Christopher Nolan, Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, poster, movie, trailer

Warner Brothers has just released the final, mind-blowing, trailer for Christopher Nolan‘s Interstellar. Kudos go to the team that has cut these three teasers, because while we do get a sense of the epic scale of the film, I’ll be damned if I really know what the hell it’s about. (Other than that the Earth is dying and a group of scientists, including Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway embark on a deep space mission to find us all a new home.) That is the way Nolan wants it, for now. But I want to know, and that’s the most important thing. I can’t wait to hand over my money for a ticket to this giant ride.

We’ve already learned that Interstellar will be nearly three hours long, so if the footage we’ve seen didn’t give us a clue, we can tell by this fact that it’s the “biggest” film Nolan has yet produced. While bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better, if this movie is half as good as he and Warner Brothers would like us to think it is, and that these trailers would indicate, then, JMHO, for the second time in two years, we’re looking at a guaranteed awards contender set in space.
Now, I don’t yet know about the technical aspects of Interstellar, in terms of whether or not they are more dazzling than Alfonso Cuarón‘s Gravity (or if they even come close), and let’s face it, that is a bar set about as high as K12, but what Gravity was really missing, was a pulse. Sure it had George Clooney sacrificing himself for Sandra Bullock, who was left alone in that capsule to hallucinate and remember her daughter etc etc. But, to paraphrase Rick Blaine*, “the problems of {two} little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this world”. and what kept it from winning anything other than technical prizes (aside from the fact that it was up against 12 Years a Slave) was heart.

Interstellar, on the other hand, would seem to have that in spades. Oscar winners McConaughey and Hathaway will trump Oscar winners Clooney and Bullock because not only is it about the fate of all mankind, but also on a more personal level, it’s about a father trying to save the world…for his children. Children that, unless I miss my guess, will grow up to be Jessica Chastain and Casey Affleck, carrying on the good fight back on Earth will Dad spends most of their lives trying to get back to them.

So, sight unseen, on the basis of three trailers (a total of less than 10 minutes of footage from a three hour movie), I’m making a completely subjective, non-scientific prediction: along with also sight-unseen flicks Birdman, Unbreakable, The Imitation Game, and Wild, Interstellar will be on the short lists for all of the major year-end prizes (along with Boyhood, Foxcatcher and A Most Violent Year, which I have seen). This list is, of course, subject to change. It is, after all, only October 1. Enjoy the trailer.

Interstellar, written and directed by Christopher Nolan, co-written by Jonathan Nolan, starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Elyes Gabel, Wes Bentley, Topher Grace, Mackenzie Foy, Ellen Burstyn, John Lithgow, David Oyelowo, William Devane, and Michael Caine (plus an uncredited Matt Damon – perhaps to do his Matty impression?), opens in the US and the UK on November 7. (Actually it pretty much opens everywhere on the planet with a movie theater between November 5 and November 7 – you won’t be able to miss it, but why would you want to try?)

*Casablanca (1942) Humphrey Bogart to Ingrid Bergman