#GerardButler in #Geostorm Now Brewing in 2017 But What Does It All Mean?

Septembers of Shiraz, movie, poster, Iran, based on novel, Adrian Brody, Salma Hayek, Gerard Butler

I’m sensing it’s the end of an era. You know I work really hard at keeping the faith, keeping the torch of Gerard Butler’s career lit (for all the thanks I get from him), but I have no idea what to make of this newest development. We’ve gone from a possible three films in 2015, to no films in 2015. Three films in the can. All three have now been pushed back from their original release dates.

London Has Fallen, the sequel to 2013’s surprise hit Olympus Has Fallen and the closest thing to a safe bet among the three, will, as of this writing at least, be released in January 22, 2016, pushed back from October 2015. I’ve already complained about the fact that the October 2 date was given to what will surely be an execrable remake of 80’s “classic” Point Break (sorry Edgar Ramirez, but I don’t think even you’ll be able to save it). The reason supposedly had something to do with a crowded fall schedule. The original date would have pitted the film, by a director, Babak Najafi, making his English language debut, against Victor Frankenstein with James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe and Robert ZemeckisThe Walk with Joseph Gordon Levitt, among others.

Alex Proyas’ (RepoMan) Gods of Egypt is slated to follow in April 2016, back from an original date of February 12. Despite the fact that I’m a tad peeved that it won’t open on my birthday, The rescheduled date actually bodes well, on the face of it. February is the new January. While the first month of the year used to a wasteland of dumped films that studios had no confidence in, but figured might make a few bucks, and they had to put out something. These days, quite a few studios are “counter-programming” against the late end of December rush to release awards season fodder, by unleashing some films in January that are not meant to garner awards but just entertain those segments of the population that either have no interest in more high-brow fare, or who have already seen everything. So now February has become the dead space between end of year blockbusters and art films and new Spring films. An April date for Gods of Egypt might just signal a little more faith from its studio, Lionsgate/Summit. They’ll need some faith. They’ve got a huge nut to crack. Twelve special effects companies are expensive. $140 million expensive. (Although supposedly, Lionsgate/Summit’s ante was only around $10 million, because of the international pre-sales and Australia tax incentives.)

Lastly, there’s Geostorm which had originally been slated for an October 2016 release. Today it was announced that it has been pushed back to January 2017. Geostorm is the directorial debut of disaster flick maven, writer/producer Dean Devlin. The cast, in addition to Butler includes Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Mare Winningham, Kathryn Winnick, Ed Harris and Andy Garcia. In it, Butler is a “charming but stubborn satellite designer called in to help when the orbiting devices that control the Earth’s weather start to go haywire, leading to fears that the worst storm humanity has ever known could soon befall us all. Sturgess is his estranged brother, with whom he’ll have to work if he’s to stop the meteorological meltdown.”
No reason has been given for this latest move. It’s been deduced that it is to give Devlin (who is also at work on his TNT series “The Librarians”) more time in post-production (where it’s been since March 2015). So it was originally going to be a year and a half from wrap to release, now it’ll be closer to two years. The same can be said of Gods of Egypt, which when into post in July 2014. Both films are ultra- special effects heavy extravaganzas. The latter takes place almost entirely in front of a green screen.

I actually don’t think this will be the final move for Geostorm. Giving Devlin a few more months to tinker is one thing, but the new date is already crowded with the likes of the Magnificent Seven remake, DreamWorks Animation’s Boss Baby, the LONG gestating version of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower (which hasn’t even filmed yet) and the latest Power Rangers reboot. Regardless of what I think of those films, it’s likely that at least one of them will share ticket buyers with Geostorm. So we’ll see.

While all of this may be out of Gerard Butler’s control, probably yet another reason he’s taken to producing his own films (and he only has a hand in one of these, London Has Fallen), he’s been out of the movie-going public’s eye since October 2013. That’s a Hollywood lifetime. I think this was the point. I’d like to believe that even he had tired of the carnival that is his life. While no one has more fun, in terms of his career, it was time to take a step back and reassess. Or at least that’s what I want to believe. While I know it hasn’t all been endless vacations in between Hugo Boss campaigns, none of these three films add up to what I believe is his own (well-deserved) version of a McConaissance. I sincerely hope I’m wrong, but they appear, at first blush, to be more of the same. Perhaps his manager/producing partner Alan Siegel knew of where he spoke when, quite a few years ago, he said (and I’m paraphrasing) that eventually Gerard Butler will disappear completely from in front of the camera and reemerge behind it. Perhaps that’s where he’ll find true creative fulfillment.

Butler will likely be in Toronto this month to attend the Gala premiere of Septembers of Shiraz, during the Toronto International Film Festival. It is the first film he’s shepherded as producer from the purchase of the book’s film rights all the way to the screen, and the first that doesn’t have him in it. It stars the other half of my favorite bromance, Adrien Brody, as well as Salma Hayek and Shohreh Aghdashloo.

Here’s the first clip:

(clip first published on Deadline.com)

The film, directed by Wayne Blair (The Sapphires) and based on the novel by Dalia Sofer, is the true story of a secular Jewish family and the unexpected journey they face during post-revolutionary Iran.

The clip features Farnez Amin (Hayek), pleading for details on the whereabouts of her husband (Brody), who was taken into custody and accused of espionage. “It’s time you understood, sister Amin, that the times when people like you could demand things from us are over. Now, it is our turn,” forewarns Mohsen (Alon Aboutboul).

As events build toward a dangerous bid to escape, Farnez and her husband Isaac Amin must confront their fundamental identity and what their future may hold.”

Movie 43 it ain’t.

I don’t predict huge box office in the US after its as yet to be determined and probably limited release, but it’ll likely have legs overseas and I have no doubt tireless promoter Butler will hand carry it across the globe if need be.

My point, if I have one, is that as the time between films in which Gerard Butler appears on our screens grows longer and longer, and some might well wonder if by the time these films are finally released anyone will still care, we might also ask, will he?

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

#TomHardy “Keeping It Real” For #DennisLehane, #MichaëlRoskam in #TheDrop BTS Featurette

 

The Drop, Tom Hardy, movie, photo, puppy, Dennis Lehane, Michael Roskam

Is there anything cuter than Tom Hardy and a puppy? The answer is no…no, there is not.

Belgian director Michaël Roskam‘s first English-language feature, The Drop, with Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and featuring the late James Gandolfini‘s final screen performance, “drops” in less than two weeks.

The film, in which a man called Bob Saginowski (Hardy) 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, and one I’ve been talking about for some time (if you’re not a fan of any of the above, sorry, but there’s more to come) was made from the first ever screenplay by writer Dennis Lehane, who adapted is own short story.  He has subsequently turned the screenplay into a novel, out next Tuesday, September 2.

The screenplay itself was based on an earlier Lehane short story called “Animal Rescue,” (the original title for the film- “what was wrong with that?”, I have to ask), which originally appeared in a short story collection called “Boston Noir”, about a killing that results from a lost pit bull.

The Drop, Tom Hardy, movie, photo, puppy, Dennis Lehane, Michael Roskam

See? Told ya.

As the writer explains in the featurette below, that story was based on a book he started more than a decade ago, but shelved.   After the movie was made, he was asked to do a “novelization” of the script, an idea he hated, but found that there were things from from the original novel that didn’t make it to the story or the script plus things original to the script that were cut either from that screenplay or from the finished film, that he still wanted to explore. Add all of that together and the result was a new book, now also called, “The Drop”.

In the interest of full disclosure, I an ardent Lehane fan. He’s one of the few contemporary writers that I feel will always merit the purchase of an actual book, as opposed to the digital version.

Lehane’s work, whatever form it takes, seems to lend itself particularly well to the screen. There have already been memorable adaptations of the novels Mystic River (dir. by Clint Eastwood), Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese) and Gone Baby Gone (which put Ben Affleck on the directorial map). Once Batfleck finally finishes work for Zack Snyder‘s Superman sequel, he’ll be back behind the camera for Live By Night, another Lehane adaptation.

For his part, Lehane is also writing episodes of the final season of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” (JMHO, but that’s reason enough to keep watching)  as well as developing “Ness”, a prospective television project about famed bootleg-buster Eliot Ness.

(Belgian Matthias Schoenaerts, here in his third film for Roskam   is apparently a method actor. Did you catch the Brooklyn accent used throughout?)

The Drop, directed by Michaël Roskam, with Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini, Elizabeth Rodriguez (“Orange is the New Black”), James Frecheville (Animal Kingdom) and Matthias Schoenaerts will screen at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on Septemer 5. It has also just been announced that the film will screen in competition at the 62nd San Sebastián Film Festival on September 26. It opens in the US on September 12 and in the UK on 14th November.

Latest tv spot:

Daniel Radcliffe Will Make You Ask, “Harry Who?”

Horns, poster, movie, Daniel Radcliffe

Poster for Horns with Daniel Radcliffe

One viewing of the first trailer for Horns, and it is clear ole’ DanRad, who is still only twenty five years old, by the way, has a very bright post-Potter future ahead of him.

Personally, I’m not a fan of the world of Harry Potter, nor any of its other inhabitants, since I’m one of the few people on the planet who has neither read the books nor seen the films. (Yeah, yeah…they’re on my list.) That said, I do not reside under a rock. I’m well aware of Daniel Radcliffe’s rabid fanbase and how desperately they want him to succeed.

To that end, Horns, which is based on the novel of the same name by Joe Hill (son of Stephen King), is a hotly anticipated commodity, especially since it premiered at TIFF last year. Now, thanks to the film’s promotional appearance at Comic Con,  there is finally a full length trailer. I may be wrong, but this might be the flick that finally allows Radcliffe to step out of Harry’s shadow for good. He’s been steadily taking on roles with more and more edge and banking his indie cred the past few years. He’s even proven he can topline a film that doesn’t have the Potter name attached, when he starred in British chiller The Woman in Black (which earned enough to demand a sequel).

In Horns, Radcliffe plays a man trying to unravel the mystery behind what happened to his girlfriend, as well has why the hell he’s suddenly beginning to sprout…well, horns.

The story follows a 26-year-old man (Daniel Radcliffe) who wakes up after a nasty hangover to find his girlfriend (Juno Temple) has been raped and murdered and he’s the lead suspect. Then he discovers horns growing out of his head that grant him the power to make people confess their sins, which comes in handy as he searches for his girlfriend’s killer and prepares for revenge.

Take a look at the full-length trailer at MTV (there’s also a teaser below):
http://www.mtv.com/videos/movie-trailers/1065309/horns.jhtml
Is it me or does this seem to have a wickedly twisted sense of humor ? And while I can (grudgingly) see Shia LaBeouf in the role (he had it first then dropped out – who knows why), I think Radcliffe’s gonna kill this (with a pretty good American accent, too). I’m in! I may skip the multiplex (because let’s be honest, the honest will be comprised of Harry-heads and Potter-ettes, at least on the first weekend), but I’ll catch it on OnDemand (Radius-TWC is distributing, guaranteeing a multi-platform release).

Directed by Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes, Piranha 3D– that must be where the sense of humor comes from) with a script by Keith Bunin (“In Treatment”), Horns also stars Max Minghella, Heather Graham, James Remar, Joe Anderson, Kelli Garner, and Kathleen Quinlan, and will be released, appropriately enough, on October 31 in the US and the UK.

Teaser:

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.

Coming Soon: The Art of the Steal and Enemy

The Art of the Steal, poster, Kurt Russell, Terence Stamp, Jay Baruchel, Matt Dillon, movie

courtesy imdb.pro

It’s been more than two months since I’ve done an honest-to-goodness post and put it on this blog, which is inexcusable**, so if you’re actually reading this, I thank you for hanging in with me.

Back in January ’12, Dimension Films announced (by way of Deadline Hollywood ) that it had acquired the US rights to a heist comedy called,The Black Marks, with Kurt Russell, Matt Dillon and Jay Baruchel attached. Since then,  the film, written and directed by Jonathan Sobol (writer/director of the well-received, if little-seen, indie A Beginner’s Guide to Endings), has gotten a new title and added the great Terence Stamp.  Now called The Art of the Steal, it debuted at TIFF last September and is now due to open here in the US on March 14, courtesy of  The Weinstein Company off-shoot, Radius-twc.

Here’s the first trailer:

Despite the fact that they’re going after the Guttenberg Bible, this does not, in fact, look like high art. It looks like a rather slight caper-comedy, but it does boast a pretty good cast. I bring it to your attention because 1. it’s been a long time since Kurt Russell has done anything (one film in five years), let alone had what looks like fun on screen. 2. Terence Stamp 3. March is looking a little bleak at the multi-plex 3. If you’re STILL snowed in, one of Radius-twc’s raisons d’etre is multi-platform releasing, so you still get to watch it and in your jammies with bowl of popcorn and a mug of cocoa in front of a raging fire, to boot. In fact, it’s available now, before it gets to theaters, via iTunes.

“Crunch Calhoun (Russell), a third rate motorcycle daredevil and semi-reformed art thief, agrees to get back into the con game and pull off just one more lucrative art theft with his untrustworthy brother Nicky (Dillon). Crunch reassembles the old team and comes up with a plan to steal a priceless historical book, but the successful heist leads to another, far riskier, plan devised by Nicky. What the brothers don’t realize is they each have their own agenda and their plan goes awry in this con movie about brotherhood, honor and revenge.”

A number of reviewers who saw it in Toronto called it a fun take on a familiar genre, with some great dialogue.  Sounds like a good matinee to me.

The Art of the Steal also stars Katheryn Winnick of “Vikings”, Stephen McHattie, Chris Diamantopoulos (the only thing worth remembering from the Farrelly Brothers’ The Three Stooges movie AT ALL) and Jason (“The Daily Show”) Jones. Bit of trivia: did you know he’s married to Samantha Bee? Me either.

Enemy, movie, poster, Jake Gyllenhaal, Denis Villaneuve

courtesy kinoplakat

The release date, March 14 will be shared by a slew of new movies including Jason Bateman‘s directorial debut, Bad Words, the eponymous Veronica Mars crowdfunded flick, Fast & Furious clone Need for Speed, Tyler Perry’s The Single Mom’s Club (ugh) and the US debut of the possible Best Foreign Language Oscar Winner, The Great Beauty, none of which I’m excited about.  There is a film, however, that I am. Enemy is Denis Villaneuve‘s 2nd pic with his Prisoners star, Jake Gyllenhaal.

Enemy is a mystery/thriller that also stars Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds, Now You See Me), Sarah Gadon (A Dangerous Method, Cosmopolis) and Isabella Rossalini (whose name I have to say in my head with an exaggerated Italian accent…every time) about a man who “seeks out his exact look-alike after spotting him in a movie.”

Take a look:

Gyllenhaal walked off the Prisoners set and on to the set of Enemy, filming the two back-to-back. He and Villaneuve have been singing each other’s praises since both Enemy and Prisoners opened during TIFF 2013, and as good as Gyllenhaal as in Prisoners (and he was terrific), he is reportedly the best he’s ever been in Enemy.   March 14 is, of course, the date of release in New York. Hopefully it will roll out to other “select cities”, or at least pop-up on On Demand, shortly thereafter.

Again, if you’ve gotten this far, thanks for reading. I promise my Oscar post will be finished BEFORE the ceremony.

**I have been hanging out at my brand new Facebook page. Facebook is the debil I tells ya!

The Master: Charisma to Spare, but What of Substance?

The Master: Charisma to Spare, but What of Substance?.

via The Master: Charisma to Spare, but What of Substance?.

I finally saw Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master today. It’s Anderson’s first film since 2008’s There Will Be Blood in which he directed Daniel Day Lewis to an Oscar for Best Actor. The Master was a sensation even before it opened the Venice Film Festival and had a gala screening at the Toronto International Film Festival since Harvey and The Weinstein Company had staged sneak peeks all over the country at old movie palaces, selling out in every city, creating internet buzz for what is essentially an independent, art-house film. When it opened in New York and LA, it set per screen box office records. What I had heard about the film before going in was largely positive. Audiences at TIFF gave the film standing ovations, even as they left the theater scratching their heads. What I was reading was that a lot of people have had trouble processing the film and felt that they needed a second viewing before they could articulate their thoughts.

Personally, I think those people are overthinking it.

One of the most anticipated films of the year, The Master is a 1950s-set drama centered on the relationship between a charismatic intellectual known as “the Master”, played by the brilliant Philip Seymour Hoffman, whose faith-based organization (“The Cause”) begins to catch on in America, and a young drifter who becomes his right-hand man. The drifter is played by Joaquin Phoenix.

Visually it’s stunning, shot in 70mm. The last film shot in that format was Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet from 1996. (A film I adore by the way. You can finally get it on dvd and if you haven’t seen it, I recommend it highly, although you have truly missed out by not seeing it in all of its Technicolor splendor on the big screen.) The cinematography, by Mihai Malaimare, Jr., is beautiful when it uses natural landscapes and the continued use of flowing water but it is the meticulous attention to period detail that sticks out for me. In the photography and lighting as well as the costumes and the production design.

Several observers have noticed parallels between the story of the Master and his Cause, and the founding of Scientology by L. Ron Hubbard. Anderson and his people deny that this is some sort of Scientology allegory. It’s also not the first time Anderson has delved into the subject of charismatic pseudo-religious leaders and the effects on their followers, after Magnolia, which ironically, reignited the career of one of the most famous Scientologists, Tom Cruise. So it’s even more ironic that Cruise is reportedly unhappy with The Master. Scientologist #1 has “issues” with the film, according to the New York Post, after having recently screened the finished product. Whether that’s true or not is anyone’s guess at this point since The Post doesn’t actually go into any detail. It could just be a publicity stunt. Both the Anderson and Cruise camps have since denied that Cruise has any problem with the film.

Personally, I don’t think that there can be any doubt that this film is based on Scientology, although I don’t know enough about the particulars of that organization to know what if anything is literal. Anderson has stated that his main influence was John Huston’s government-sponsored documentary from 1946, Let There Be Light, about returning WWII vets with PTSD. The camera films them from their induction through to their eventual ‘cure’ and final departure back into mainstream America. Once completed the government banned it for 30 years. There is a scene in the beginning of The Master that would seem to have been lifted from this film.

I think both Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix gave exceptional, understated performances. There is not a single scene in the film in which one or the other, if not both, is on screen. Their final scene together is, as it should be, the most powerful. It consists of closeups on the two men’s faces and it had me holding my breath, watching the oh-so-subtle changes taking place. Phoenix’s characterization is almost entirely physical. He conveys nearly everything we need to know about his character from the way he walks, carries himself, even the way he holds his mouth when he speaks.

Both he and Hoffman will both, almost certainly, be nominated for Best Actor Oscars (thus canceling out both. In another bit of irony, that will probably leave the way clear for Daniel Day Lewis once more.) Jeremy Renner was originally cast, but they lost him when the financing took years to put together. Luckily, Phoenix had just gotten off of the Crazy Train and was available. As much as I liked Phoenix, I’m curious about what Renner’s take on the character of Freddie Quell would have been.

Amy Adams, who plays “the Master’s” fertile third wife (she’s first seen with a toddler on her lap and is pregnant through most of the film), delivers another fine performance and is the backbone of the film. She plays perky so well that it is easy to underestimate her. A few scenes with closeups of her steely blue eyes and one begins to wonder just who “The Master” of the title actually is.

The performances are all amazing. but ultimately? There’s no “there” there.

The Master is two hours and sixteen minutes of people moving along a timeline, but to what end? I think that’s the point. There is no end, because our journeys are never ending. One of the chief tenets of “The Cause” and not coincidentally of Scientology, is that we’ve all been here before, we’ll be here again.

The bottom line is that I think The Master will probably be nominated for Best Picture because the Academy won’t understand it, so they’ll think it must be art and they should recognize it. It won’t win, however, for the same reason: It’s art and they won’t understand it.