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.


Tom Hardy’s World is Fire and Blood Where Only the Mad Survive

Mad Max: Fury Road, Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, George Miller, poster, movie

1st poster for Mad Max: Fury Road

Ah Comic Con. That Disneyland/Mecca/Nirvana for pop culture junkies of all shapes, sizes, colors and creeds, has, thanks to  Warner Brothers and Village Roadshow, yielded more treasure. Right on the heels of this morning’s four new character posters (and last week’s first official poster – seen above), today, at long last, we have our first look at some actual footage from George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road with Tom Hardy taking over from Mel Gibson (complete with Aussie accent, it would seem). It’s not a full-blown trailer, but it is a teaser to be sure.

Fury Road is the fourth film in the franchise, a sequel/reboot hybrid of Miller’s own films, the post-apocalyptic sci-fi classics, The Road Warrior and Mad Max. The movie also stars Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Zoë Kravitz, Riley Keough, Hugh Keays-Byrne, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, most of whom can be at least glimpsed in the teaser.

Peep this:

For all of the delays, for reasons ranging from financing, to scheduling to bad weather, (including having to find a new location when said weather turned the Australian outback green and lush) and reshoots, this an impressive first look. Hey naysayers, this might actually be GOOD!

In fact, it would appear that 1. This thing is going to kick all kinds of ass and 2. Hardy is going to have no trouble winning over the skeptical legions of die-hard Mad Max fans. If they won’t exactly forget Mel Gibson, they will at least be able to accept Hardy as Max.

Mad Max: Fury Road is set to be released on May 15, 2015, a date which will, no doubt be etched into your memory over the course of the next ten months.

So? Whaddya think? Are you excited or what?


It’s Summer, Let’s Get Silly with Sly! Watch the Expendables 3 Trailer!

Expendables 3, movie, Sylvester Stallone,  poster

First, let’s all agree that The Expendables was much more fun than it had any right to be. So naturally, that begot Expendables 2, because if it’s good, more is better, right? Well, no not necessarily. But the sequel was mindless fun to munch popcorn by, and the producers are smart enough to release this nonsense in the “Dog Days” of August when we’re all so beaten down by the heat (and we’ve seen everything else), that it doesn’t matter as long as the theater is air-conditioned.
In that vein, and because both 1 and 2 made stacks of cash, Sylvester Stallone and company are back for “one last ride” in Expendables 3. (Yeah right. We’ll see how much this one makes before we believe it’s the “last”.) They do have a few things going for them with this installment, not the least of which is a script by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedickt, the duo responsible for Olympus Has Fallen (and its in-pre-production sequel, London Has Fallen). So…yeah, there’s that.
This time around Stallone and Jason Statham, along with three-peaters Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, and Arnold Schwarzenegger (sort of – he was ‘uncredited’ in the first one), drag along Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas, Kellan Lutz, Wesley Snipes, Robert Davi, MMA fighter Ronda Rousey (making her film debut), welter-weight boxing champ Victor Ortiz (making HIS) and…Kelsey Grammer. Wait…what? I enjoy Gibson’s level of crazy (at least on screen where it belongs – he’s getting help for the rest of it) and lords knows Snipes needs the money, but…hmmm…one of these things is not like the other…
Oh well. Peep this short teaser, with its electrified version of “The Colonel Bogey March”:

Still here? Check out this one set to Billy Squire’s “The Stroke” (Bit of trivia: I didn’t think it was actually Billy Squire. I thought it was probably a cover by a Warrant-wanna be or something, but it is in fact an unreleased remix of the song by Squire. Phew!):

Finally, we get a full-length trailer:

Okay, okay, UNCLE! I give. The big screen has suffered from a decided lack of The Stath and his manly muscled head of late and this just looks too silly to pass up. So, I’m in. For a matinee. But then I’m done. Seriously…

The final game begins 14 August in the UK and August 15 in the  US.

Next Year’s a Locke for Tom Hardy – updated

(Yeah, yeah, you think it’s easy comin’ up with a clever title every time? You try it.)

Tom Hardy, Locke, movie

I’ve been trying to say what I wanted to say about both Tom Hardy and Locke for over a week now. Time to get this down before the movie comes out and renders this moot.

It has been far too long, in my humble opinion, since Tom Hardy has been on the big screen. He hasn’t had a movie in the theaters since last summer’s Lawless. Of course that was the last of three films released in 2012: First there was This Means War (oh well, every actor needs one of these on their resume. He’s not the first to be the best thing about ridiculous movie) which was followed by a little film called The Dark Knight Rises.

While I (along with legions of others) may have missed his face (and that mouth….where was I? Oh yeah. Sorry), I know that he’s been hard at work on several film projects (as well as a few humanitarian efforts). I could say that I believe that 2014 will be a HUGE year for Hardy, but I’ve had that thought before.

He’s been “on the verge” for a long time. I’ve been a fan since 2008’s Rocknrolla, but I really thought that after the rest of the world discovered him in Inception in 2010, that Warrior in 2011 was going to make him a household name. Wrong. It took a superhero flick in which his face was covered for all but 3 seconds of screen time to do that. As usual, I’m ambivalent about an actor I’ve long considered a “hidden jewel” gaining the popularity they deserve. Sometimes, maybe even often, an actor does his best work before the glare of the spotlight finds him and he becomes a tabloid regular. On the other hand, if more people had known who he was and had subsequently gone to see Warrior, he may not have been robbed of the awards-season attention he deserved. His Tommy Conlon breaks my heart every time I see it.

But I digress. 2014 will finally see the long awaited release of George Miller’s much delayed Mad Max reboot, Fury Road which also stars Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, and a few stick bugs  Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Abby Lee and Riley Keough. At least that’s what we’re still being told. As of this writing, the movie has several weeks of reshoots scheduled for November.

“Not a good sign” you say? True, there have been nothing but bad omens surrounding this project since its first inception way back in 1985.  Mad Max: Fury Road was originally conceived to be the fourth Mad Max flick for Mel Gibson. For myriad reasons, too many to list here, including a couple of wars, that obviously didn’t happen. There was even talk of doing it as an animated film featuring Gibson’s voice. Again, no go. Writer/director Miller persevered, however, and reconfigured it as a reboot, eventually casting Hardy in 2010

The plague of production problems continued. When cameras were finally set to roll in 2011 in the Australian outback, unseasonable and heavy rains turned the area into the Garden of Eden instead of the “back of beyond” and new locations had to be secured. In the meantime the cast scattered to do other projects. When they finally got back together and cameras rolled in mid 2012, the film faced numerous shutdowns, budget over-runs (Warner Brothers sent suits to Africa to watchdog Miller), and charges from the Namibian government that the production permanently damaged indigenous plant life. Filming itself was physically grueling and took a toll on Hardy and Theron.  Now they’re facing nearly a month more of African filming.

There are conflicting reports as to whether these are actually “reshoots” or a planned sequence they were unable to get for various reasons the first time around.

That said, much like January and February release dates, reshoots aren’t necessarily the kiss of death that they once were. (World War Z springs to mind, since it’s still in theaters, as an example of another troubled production; one that turned out extremely well.) So if the movie is good, we may never know and no one will care. If it isn’t, then we can add it to the list of reasons why the movie failed.

Tom Hardy, Mad Max Fury Road, movie

source: AICN

In addition to the much ballyhooed Mad Max: Fury Road, 2014 will see not one, but two Tom Hardy films costarring Noomi Rapace.

Animal Rescue, written by Dennis Lehane from his own short story, is the English-language debut of Bullhead director Michael Roskam, about a lost pit bull, a wannabe scam artist, and a murder, (the cast also includes Bullhead star Matthias Schoenaerts and the late James Gandolfini in his final film), as well as the currently filming Child 44 from the novel by Tom Rob Smith. Set in the USSR during the Stalin-era, Hardy plays a disgraced MGB (Ministry for State Security – which preceded the KGB) agent sent to investigate a series of child murders in a country where crimes of this sort “did not exist”. He soon begins to connect the case with top party leadership. That one is directed by Daniel Espinosa who made his English debut with last year’s Safe House (Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds) but is best known in his native Sweden for Snabba Cash (Easy Money) with Joel “Robocop” Kinnaman. It also reteams Hardy with Gary Oldman.

At last we come to the film that, although it will more than likely see release next year, has actually debuted this year- last week in fact, at the Venice Film Festival.  Locke is a thriller that unfolds in “real time”, written and directed by Steven Knight and exec. produced by Joe Wright (director of Atonement, Anna Karenina etc) . Knight made his directorial debut with Redemption (original title Hummingbird) with Jason Statham (which got only a token release back in June here in the US, but hits DVD on September 24), but he’s also the writer responsible for the just released (and entertaining, but ultimately forgettable political thriller) Closed Circuit with Rebecca Hall and Eric Bana as well as two of my favorite movies of the past few years, Eastern Promises (dir. by David Cronenberg starring Viggo Mortensen) and Dirty Pretty Things (with Chiwitel Ejiofor and Audrey Tautou, dir. by  Stephen Frears).

Just prior to doing the limbo under the radar and straight into Venice,  a first clip (not really a trailer – which you can see below) premiered late last month for Locke. Most people were probably wondering why they’d never heard of it. One reason? Knight’s spare, confined space drama (the action in the film never leaves the car and Hardy is in every frame), was shot over the course of just eight nights this past February.

Video removed because it “no longer exists”

“Based on an original screenplay from Knight, LOCKE is the story of one man’s life unraveling in a tension-fueled ninety minute race against time. Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) has the perfect family, his dream job, and tomorrow should be the crowning moment of his career. But one phone call will force him to make a decision that will put it all on the line.”**

There are other actors credited, including Ruth Wilson (The Lone Ranger, “Luther”), Olivia Colman (Tyrannosaur, “Broadchurch”), Ben Daniels (“Law & Order: UK”, “House of Cards”), and Tom Holland (The Impossible), but they don’t get screen time. Only their voices will be heard. For the eight nights of filming, Hardy drove through and around London while the other the actors (stationed in a hotel) placed calls to his cell phone.

Conceived in November, filmed by February, and despite the fact that it was made for about $2 million and by seasoned professionals, this sounds a lot like guerilla filmmaking. Maybe Knight has established a new genre. Maybe Hardy and company are ‘upscale urban guerillas’.  Or not. I’m all in for this in any case. It will probably get a UK theatrical release via Lionsgate. Hopefully we’ll get to see it on this side of the ocean, if only on VOD.

Hardy also has six other announced titles in various stages of production, so eventually we will get to see him again in something. In the meantime maybe BBCAmerica will let us watch “Poaching Wars”. You could always catch up with some of Hardy’s earlier work like Bronson, Sweeney Todd (not the musical) or “Stuart: A Life Backwards” (if you can find it) or the BBC miniseries “The Virgin Queen” and “Oliver Twist” or even better, go rewatch Rocknrolla or Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy again. If all else fails, and you really need a fix, there’s always This Means War. You can find the good parts on YouTube.

Here’s a clip of Tom (an Audi spokesman since 2008) driving another car and having a ball doing it:

(Frankly he could be driving a Big Wheel as long as he narrates the advert)

UPDATE 9/7/13: The North American distribution rights to Locke have just been acquired by A24 in the first major deal of the Toronto International Film Festival.

** IM Global/Anthem Press release from Berlin Film Festival, February 7, 2013