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

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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.

Jane Got A Gun and (FINALLY) a Release Date

Jane Got A Gun, Natalie Portman, movie, photo, Gavin O'Connor, Joel Edgerton

A film whose troubled beginnings will almost certainly overshadow its box-office, Jane Got A Gun, has finally been taken off the shelf and is set to be dusted off and released to US audiences in September (which could mean a festival bow at TIFF or Telluride).

In case you’re unfamiliar with “the saga of the making of Jane Got A Gun”, I’ll recap:

The screenplay was plucked from The Blacklist* back in 2011 and when production began it was originally set to star Natalie Portman as Jane Hammond and Michael Fassbender as her ex-lover Dan Frost and Joel Edgerton as villain John Bishop, with Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin) at the helm. By what was to have been the first day of filming, Fassbender had already left, supposedly because delays had resulted in “scheduling conflicts”, Edgerton had taken Fassbender’s role with Jude Law as the bad guy. Then came reports that Ramsay had walked on that first day. It was weeks before anyone had a clue why and to this day, all anyone will say is “difficulties with producers” (one of whom, it’s worth mentioning, is Natalie Portman).

By the time cameras did eventually roll, the production had lost Law, because he only signed on to work with Ramsay,  who was replaced by Gavin O’Connor (Warrior). Law was replaced by Ewan McGregor.

Got it?

Anyway, to celebrate the fact that this potential cluster-fuck will finally see the light of day, Relativity (oh dear) has dropped these first-look images, which you can see below.

Young and pretty with a soul of pure steel, Jane Hammond (Natalie Portman) is a good girl married to one of the worst baddies in town. When her husband Bill (Noah Emmerich) turns against his own gang, the vicious Bishop Boys, and returns home barely alive with eight bullets in his back, Jane knows it’s time to ditch the dress for a pair of pants and strap on her own gun. As the relentless leader John Bishop (Ewan McGregor) gears up for revenge, Jane’s best hope for her family’s survival rests with her old love Dan Frost (Joel Edgerton) – a gunslinger whose hatred for Bill is only slightly overshadowed by his love for Jane. Together Jane and Dan spring clever traps, luring Bishop’s men to certain death just as their old feelings for each other resurface amidst the flying bullets.

So, what do you think? Will you see it? Does the back story make you any more or less curious about the end result?  For my part, I’m a fan of Gavin O’Connor’s work and he did have a talented cast to work with, regardless of how it was cobbled together. And at least he got to start at the beginning. It’s not like he had to step in mid-stream and finish another director’s work (regardless of how seamlessly he might have accomplished it because he’d probably be lambasted or it anyway *coughMichael Apted**cough*) It’s entirely possible that more films than we know go through similar machinations before they reach the finish line, just less publicly. I suppose I should wait for a trailer, but I’m in.

*The Blacklist is a database of the year’s best unproduced scripts. The list that included Jane Got A Gun also included The Imitation Game, Grace of Monaco, Django Unchained, St. Vincent de Van Nuys, Saving Mr. Banks and Sex Tape.  A lot can happen between the page and the screen.

 

**Chasing Mavericks

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”.

Featurette:

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.

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

Netflix Is Giving Us #CillianMurphy and #TomHardy in the BBC’s “Peaky Blinders”!

Peaky Blinders, television, Netflix,  Cillian Murphy, poster

Netflix has gotten into the original series business in a big way the past couple of years, with game changers “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black“. Now, thanks to our friends (sorry, I feel like I have a relationship with these people) Harvey and The Weinstein Company, along with Endemol (which also brings us “Hell on Wheels” among others) the company has picked up both seasons of the BBC series “Peaky Blinders”, which some are calling the UK’s answer to “Boardwalk Empire”.  As I’ve said before, I don’t often feel the need to bring television to this blog, so when I do, you know it’s something I consider special. Like Boardwalk, now airing its Swan Song season on HBO, “Peaky Blinders” is a huge hit. Both shows are about “gangsters” of a sort, but at least one other thing they have in common is that both series have managed to lure a great many actors known primarily for their film work, to series television, including series star Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill, Helen McCrory, Charlie Creed Miles, Annabelle Wallis and Paul Anderson. In season two, Tom Hardy joins the cast. (Yes, that Tom Hardy). Who might have induced an actor with a schedule as full as Hardy’s to take on a role in a television show, you ask? Why, Steven Knight, the writer/director of Locke, who happens to be the creator and writer of “Peaky Blinders”, that’s who. *demented poodle dance*

‘Peaky Blinders’ takes place in 1919 Birmingham, England, and follows the Shelby family, who lead the title group — a feared gang named for their practice of sewing razor blades into the peaks of their caps. Until now they have made money from illegal bookmaking, protection and the black market, but when a crate of guns from the local arms factory falls into his possession, Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) recognizes an opportunity to move up in the world. As rival gangs, communist revolutionaries and IRA Fenians descend on the city in pursuit of the weapons, Winston Churchill dispatches a ruthless police chief (Sam Neill) from Belfast to impose order on an increasingly lawless city and recover the guns.

The first six episodes of the first season will be available starting after 12:01am PT on Tuesday September 30 and the second season (in which Hardy will appear along with his new wife, Charlotte Riley, and Noah Taylor) will be available sometime in November.
The BBC Two, season two promo:

Netflix teaser:

Pics and Clips of Simon Pegg in the TIFF Bound Hector and the Search for Happiness

Hector and the Search for Happiness, Movie, Poster, Simon Pegg

courtesy Relativity Media

We love Simon Pegg. Whether he’s paired with friend and frequent collaborator Nick Frost while beating off zombies with a cricket bat¹, busting the village serial killer², befriending aliens³or thwarting an alien  invasion♠,  or without, as a has been comedian and would be blackmailer♣, robbing graves for fun and profit♥, going boldly where no man has gone before♦ or choosing to accept missions with Ethan Hunt◊, if Simon Pegg is in it, we’re there. (Why have I decided to use the royal “we”? I have no idea.)

In any case, Pegg’s latest, Hector and the Search for Happiness, directed by Peter Chesolm, is something of a departure. As the title might suggest, Pegg plays a man searching for inner peace. Hector is a psychiatrist who, having lost the ability to offer insight to his own patients embarks on a quest to figure out the formula for happiness. The journey that takes him from Africa to Shanghai to Tibet.

Ahead of its North American debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, Relativity has released the clips below
These first two, via Flickering Myth, feel like vintage Pegg:

and finally, via The Playlist, is a clip that would seem to give us a better feel for the tone:

If not, who knows. The director has had more luck with television than his theatrical endeavors, which include Hannah Montana: The Movie, Shall We Dance, Serendipity and the almost universally reviled Town & Country, so I’m not sure what to expect from him.  The screenplay, based on the novel “Le voyage d’Hector ou la recherche de bonheur” by Françoise Lelord, has three credited writers including the director, Maria von Heland, and Tinker Lindsay.  But, as I said, on the strength of Pegg , not to mention the  supporting cast, which includes Toni Collette, Rosamund Pike (who last appeared with Pegg in 2013’s The World’s End), Stellan Skarsgård, Jean Reno, and Christopher Plummer, I’m keeping an open mind. Hector and the Search For Happiness, which was released in the UK last month, opens in the US on September 19.

Here’s the latest trailer as well:

1. Shaun of the Dead
2. Hot Fuzz
3. Paul
♠. The World’s End
♣. “Mob City”
♥. Burke and Hare
♦. Star Trek and Star Trek: Into Darkness
◊. MI:3, 4 and the upcoming 5