Impressive #CrimsonPeak is Vintage Guillermo del Toro

Crimson Peak, Guillermo del Toro, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, movie, poster

Contrary to those ads you’ve been seeing and the trailers with Nick Cave‘s “Red Right Hand” playing beneath it, make no mistake, Guillermo del Toro‘s Crimson Peak is a true Gothic romance that just happens to have ghosts in it (as well as copious amounts of blood and blood-like substances).What it is not, is a horror movie. The director himself has not called it that. He’s actually compared it to Hitchcock, particularly Rebecca or George Cukor’s Gaslight (both of which are apt comparisons), but it is as a horror film, that it is being marketed. It was shot February through May and completed in December 2014, but Universal wanted to release it at Halloween, so here we are in October 2015. Make no mistake, there are thrills and chills, and it’s full of murderous intent and malice-aforethought, but no real “scares”, at least in terms of what movie-goers born post-Freddie Kruger and weaned on the Paranormal and Insidious series’ as well as remakes of Halloween, The Fog and Poltergeist, would consider truly scary.

Mia Wasikowska is Edyth Cushing, an aspiring novelist, whose biggest champion is her wealthy industrialist father (Jim Beaver). Her aspirations make her something of an outsider to her social climbing contemporaries who prove that the male publishing world isn’t alone in thinking she should be concentrating on getting a husband.  So of course, it is is Edyth that the mysterious Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), a rakish English demi-noble (his title, “Baronet”, is thrown around a lot) plucks from the bouquet of dewy young things presented to him upon his arrival in turn-of-the-century Buffalo. He quickly marries her, after the shocking (and incredibly brutal) death of her father, who had objected to the match on grounds we are not immediately privy to (made known to him by his hired detective Holly, played by Burn Gorman), then whisks her away to a molding, crumbling estate back in (extremely) rural England, full of ghastly secrets and even ghastlier ghosts.

When her heart is stolen by a seductive stranger, a young woman is swept away to a house atop a mountain of blood-red clay: a place filled with secrets that will haunt her forever. Between desire and darkness, between mystery and madness, lies the truth behind Crimson Peak.

The film, written by the director and Matthew Robbins (Mimic) who started it in 2006 and finally finished during filming, is visually stunning in typical del Toro style. All of the colors are rich and over-saturated. Both Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain often look like they belong in a Pre-Raphaelite painting. A lot of the sumptuous fabrics used in designer Kate Hawley‘s costumes are vintage, from the period depicted. The set design (all of which was built from the ground up specifically for the film by art director Thomas E. Sanders) is, in a word, incredible. Every scene, particulary once the film moves to spooky Allerdale Hall, could have been captured by an artist’s brush as well as the lens of Danish cinematographer Dean Laustsen.  del Toro has said that he wanted his movie to look like a Technicolor Mario Bava film (Bava was a painter before he was a director/cinematographer) and, JMHO, he’s succeeded. (You will hear about Crimson Peak come awards season. It will be up for all of the technical awards – as it should be.)

But this film owes as much to Bava as it does Hammer Studios in its hay-day. Charlie Hunnam‘s Dr. McMichael is a “good guy” straight out of their repertory company. The grand score, by Fernando Velasquez, and the dialogue, particularly in the early scenes, is straight out of a period-perfect Penny Dreadful (speaking of which, there are shades of the Showtime series as well – again, not a bad thing at all), with a lot of stilted delivery of the phrase “my child”.

Watching Wasikowska and Hiddleston, it’s hard to imagine Emma Stone and Benedict Cumberbatch in their roles. Hiddleston, in particular, was made for this type of film (if you haven’t seen his tortured, soulful vampire in Only Lovers Left Alive, remedy that. Immediately) and the site of him in white tie and tails is indeed impressive and utterly swoon-worthy. Wasikowska gets to be the heroine of her own story, in a departure from the Gothic formula. del Toro has imbued her with the intelligence and resiliance to not only recognize the dastardly shenanigans of her new husband and his creepy sister, but to defend herself against them.

The Sharpes are a tragic pair, certainly not your typical villains, created by equal parts nurture and nature, and it is Jessica Chastain’s Lucille that is the beating pulse of this movie. Lucille is fierce and determined, with a stare that is both ice cold and blazing with intensity. She doesn’t go full-tilt bozo until the final reel, but it is a payoff the film has been ratcheting toward from the start and what we’ve been waiting for. (Even then we feel some small measure of sympathy for her.) I don’t want to spoil anything, particularly since most of the plot twists are easily untangled while you watch, but trust me – there are monsters and there are monsters.

See Crimson Peak and see it at a theater in all its glory. I’m not usually one to endorse what I consider marketing gimicks, but I highly recommend IMAX for this one.  It deserves the biggest screen  you can find. Come back and let me know what you think.

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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

I’m Not Trying to Sell You Anything, But Jude Law Is

Jude Law, short film, photo, advertisement, Johnnie Walker Blue

Jude Law stars in The Gentleman’s Wager for JOHNNIE WALKER BLUE LABEL Blended Scotch whisky

It is not often I feel the need to do a post about an advert (or as Ralphie Parker* would say, “A crummy commercial”), but this one came to my attention today and while it may be simply because it stars Jude Law, whom I’ve been thinking about more than usual of late, but I find it so unusually impressive, I feel the need to talk about it.

The ad is nominally for Johnnie Walker Blue Label, which, if you’re going to drink a blend, as opposed to a single malt, this is a good one. I say nominally, however, because the makers of what can only be called a short film, are not doing the hard sell here.

The film has a title. It’s called A Gentleman’s Wager, and along with Law it stars Giancarlo Giannini (whom most of you probably know best as Rene Mathis, in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, which is too bad. It means you’ve missed, among other things, the films of Lina Wertmüller.)

The film tells the story of a wager between two men striving for personal progress through the quest for a truly rare experience. The Gentleman’s Wager sees Law in the role of a man who, despite having it all, challenges himself to strive for something he wants that money can’t buy. The film begins with Law and Giannini sipping Johnnie Walker Blue Label on a gorgeous hand-crafted boat as they look out across a stunning ocean seascape. We hear Law’s character state that he wants to buy the boat, but it is not for sale and the only way he can get it, is by putting on a truly unique performance. The wager begins.

What makes this short remarkable is its pedigree. Sure, there have been any number of high-profile advertisements in the past decade, featuring both A-list actors (Clive Owen, Brad Pitt) and directors (Guy Ritchie, Michael Mann), the latest of which was the “It’s Good to Be Bad” campaign for Jaguar featuring Mark Strong, Tom Hiddleston and Sir Ben Kingsley. But not many have the talent both onscreen and behind, that Johnnie Walker has assembled.

A Gentleman’s Wager is directed by Jake Scott. If the first name isn’t familiar, it probably will be soon, but the last name should be. He’s one of those Scotts. He’s the son of Sir Ridley and nephew of the late Tony. His own resume includes Welcome to the Rileys and Plunkett and Macleane (with Jonny Lee Miller and which I liked. Don’t judge) as well as a slew of big-name rock-docs.

It was shot in The British Virgin Islands, Caribbean and London by John Mathiason, who was the cinematographer on Ridley Scott films like Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven and Robin Hood as well as Phantom of the Opera and X-Men: First Class. Production design was by Joseph Bennett, responsible for the look of HBO’s “Rome”. Costumes are by Scott regular Janty Yates, in conjunction with London bespoke mens outfitter, Mr. Porter. The film was produced by Jules Daly (The Grey, Assassination of Jesse James) and Tracie Norfleet of Scott Free.  That’s a lot of stops that were pulled.

Commenting on his role and involvement in the film, Law says: “The film is about improvement and progress and this is something I try to do in my work and my everyday life. I had to learn new skills shooting this film and that combined with the places we visited and shot in, alongside working with Jake and with Giancarlo, made it a truly rare experience.”

Take the above with a grain of salt or a slug of Johnnie Walker. I’m sure Mr. Law was paid a boatload of pounds sterling for his “rare experience”. Oh well. A Gentleman’s Wager is still a classy and entertaining little bit of footage.  And if it were up to me, I might give Jake a shot at the next Bond film. Whenever Sam Mendes decides to pack it in, of course.

*A Christmas Story (1983)

Two, Two, Two Geezers in One! Tom Hardy Films Legend

Ronnie Kray, Frances Shea, Reggie Kray, photo, Legend

Ronnie Kray, Frances Shea, Reggie Kray at the 1965 wedding of Frances and Reggie

British actor extraordinaire, Tom Hardy has already played a number of diverse characters including  Robert Dudley to Anne-Marie Duff’s Queen Elizabeth,  Heathcliff to (future fiance) Charlotte Riley‘s Cathy, incarcerated hardman/mad man Charlie Bronson, and of course arch-villain Bane, to name but a few.  He’s already set to add Sir Elton John to that list in the upcoming Rocket Man.  But first, he’ll add not one, but two O.G.’s (original geezers) to his resume.

Filming began this week on writer/director Brian Helgeland‘s Legend in which Hardy plays both Reggie and Ronnie Kray, the sadistic twins who ran a murder and protection racket in London during the 50s and 60’s (that probably gave Whitey Bulger something to aspire to) and palled around with socialites, MPs and entertainers. Their exploits were nearly single-handedly (double handedly?) responsible for the creation of the British tabloid  industry.  (So don’t confuse it with the 1985 Tom Cruise fantasy. There be no unicorns here.)

We got the first images from the set in London via the Daily Mail. Smartly, STUDIO CANAL/Working Title decided to follow that up with  an official image.  Brilliant move.

Tom Hardy, Reggie Kray, Ronnie Kray, Legend, movie, still

photo credit: Greg Williams/STUDIOCANAL

It’s obvious though that the appetite for news of  this film has just barely been whetted, probably all due to the fact that Hardy is one of a triumvirate of current British “IT” Boys (that also includes Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch) and this film’s stunt casting. Not only have the paparazzi been staked out at most of the London shooting locations, but news agencies all over the world have published the photos as if this were real news.

Seen below are Hardy as Reggie Kray filming scenes with bride Emily Browning as his ill-fated first wife, Frances Shea, as well as some shots of Hardy, as twin Ronnie, in which he appears to have prosthetic jowls. (Actually some are Hardy and some are his stand-in. Can you tell the difference?)

The storyline is simple,

Identical twin gangsters Ronald and Reginald Kray terrorize London during the 1950s and 1960s.

but little is known about the actual plot of the movie, although a little more of the cast has been revealed. The cast also features David Thewlis, Christopher Eccleston, Chazz Palminteri and Tara Fitzgerald.

I’m curious who will be/has been cast as the twins’ mother, Violet. The thing about the Krays was, despite their reputations for some truly depraved behavior,  they really did go home every night to the small East End house in which they still lived with mum.  She was played by Billie Whitelaw in the 1990 film, The Krays, in which Spandau Ballet’s Gary and Martin Kemp played Ronnie and Reggie.  Whitelaw’s Violet was very nearly as scary as her sons. Can’t wait to find out not only whom Helgeland has cast, but what delicious lines he’s written for her.

More information will surely follow.  Legend doesn’t have a release date yet. I expect an initial announcement will be made soon.

Only Lovers Left Alive: A Romantic Vampire Tale for Grown-ups

Only Lovers Left Alive, movie, still, Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton
Only Lovers Left Alive, an official selection of Cannes 2013, is stylish, hip, sexy and smart, all of which are things I’m generally in favor of. It’s also, despite the scenes of Jim Jarmusch’s creatures-of-the-night (the word vampire is never used) imbibing “the good stuff” from delicate cordial glasses and antique flasks (or even “on a stick”), the most sanguine vampire tale I’ve ever seen.

Actually, it’s a film that is more about eternal love, not just eternal life; a character study in which our Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) just happen to be vampires. Other than their quest for a blood supply untainted by the poisons of modern life, they fill their endless lives much as we mortals do: searching for ways to amuse themselves as well as give meaning to their existence. Twilight, this is not.

We will learn that Swinton and Hiddleston are lovers, that they have been married for centuries, that they are soul-mates. But from the first scene, we already know they are connected even when they’re apart. The film opens with intertwining shots of the two, spun to the tune of “Funnel of Love”. ( I thought I was listening to the song played at half speed so that Wanda Jackson sounded less like Minnie Mouse on helium than I’ve ever heard, but it’s actually director Jim Jarmusch’s band, SQÜRL with singer Madeline Follin, of Cults.)

Adam, who refers to humans as “zombies”, is a musician, who is hiding out under the perfect cover of a decimated Detroit. His devoted “Renfield” is manager/enabler Ian (Anton Yelchin), who would love to be able to promote him so that Adam’s music could reach a wider audience, but Adam won’t have it. The zombies love his music, but he ‘vants to be alone’. He collects antique instruments and shuns modern anything, unlike Eve who embraces the technology that allows her to stay connected to Adam. Sensing Adam’s growing despair, which is only confirmed via a Skype chat (the Rube Goldbergian way in which Adam has rigged his antiquated analog devices to accomplish this task is comical, yet indicative of what an intelligent mind can come up with when one has all the time in the world),  Eve decides to make the transatlantic journey to see him, despite the intrinsic difficulties of traveling by day.

Eve is a seeker, and a lover of knowledge, currently residing in Tangier. She’s worldly and as much of the world as reclusive Adam wants to shrink from it. I’m not sure the part wasn’t written specifically for Swinton, she is just so perfectly cast, and her chemistry with Hiddleston is palpable. (I know I’ve mentioned that Michael Fassbender was Jarmusch’s original choice. I, as I believe you will, have no trouble embracing Hiddleston as Adam.)

Watching Eve make her travel arrangements is just one of the sly and witty ways that the script pokes holes in well-known vampire lore. It also hints at the possibility of the presence of vampires throughout history. Adam gave an adagio to Shubert. Christopher “Kit” Marlowe (John Hurt) is not only “alive” but a vampire and used the “illiterate” Shakespeare as his front to continue to “get the work out there” long after his supposed death. There are also odes to the same lore that the script deflates eg: vampires must be invited to cross a threshold. And there are things that Jarmusch may have made up, yet seem like they should be part of the myth, for instance, vampires also need permission to remove their gloves, which they always wear in public. I’ve never heard of that one (or have I just forgotten it? Anyone? Bueller?)

Adam plays word games with a hematologist (Jeffrey Wright) who calls himself Dr. Watson, that he bribes for access to pure blood. He calls himself first Dr. Faust then Dr. Caligari. Eve expresses her love for Jack White, who has always looked a bit like a vampire, although to my knowledge, there have been no rumors of blood drinking.

At the end of Eve’s journey, she and Adam reconnect in a dozen sexy, slinky, sultry ways, including sinuously dancing around his crowded manse in silk dressing gowns (wouldn’t it be nice if Denise LaSalle and Charlie Feathers experienced career resurgencies?) and driving through the desert of Detroit at night, discovering its lonely beauty. Their reunion, however, is interrupted by the arrival of Eve’s irresponsible and uncontrollable little “sister” Ava (Mia Wasikowska). Although both Adam and Eve (as well as Marlowe) had dreamt of her arrival, it was anticipated with dread.  Ava’s bratty antics become the catalyst for all that follows, including the funniest lines in the movie.

Example: Adam and Eve watch a body melting in acid. “That was visual”.  (You just have to see it.)

Jim Jarmusch doesn’t like digital cinematography and wanted to shoot on film, but could not due to budgetary constraints. He and his director of photography, Yorick Le Saux, whose last English-language film was Arbitrage, worked with low lighting (they were after all, shooting entirely at night) and experimented with a variety of lenses until they were able to achieve the look they wanted, one that approximated “film”. However they got there, they’ve found a prism of color in the blackness and the result,  in which the cold dark night of Detroit is contrasted with the exotic warmth of the Morocco where Eve lives and walks among the locals, is mesmerizing.

Adam and Eve glide along to the trance-like soundtrack provided by SQÜRL (which includes Carter Logan, and Shane Stoneback, in addition to the director), and Dutch minimalist composer Jozef Van Wissem, with a guest appearance by Yasmine Hamdan, the singer for Soapkills, the first indie/electronic band in the Middle East, and nod their heads in unison to the beat. Jarmusch has given his immortals a “been there and done that” insouciance, but if there’s one thing that they still can’t get enough of after all these years, it is each other.  So, aptly, we are left with Adam and Eve, determined to survive, if only so that they can continue to be together.

Ultimately, Only Lovers Left Alive is a hypnotic paean to the mysteries of true love.

“Make me immortal with a kiss.” – Christopher Marlowe, Dr. Faustus

 

 

Bit of trivia that may or may not have been intentional: One of the books that Eve packs for her trip to Detroit is a catalog of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work. Jeffrey Wright’s film breakthrough was as the title character in Basquiat.

 

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.

 

More Hemsworth! More Hiddleston! More Hopkins! More THOR!

…oh yes and more Elba!

Chris Hemsworth, Thor, movie

courtesy Marvel via imdb

I know we just talked about it last week, but  this new trailer for Thor: The Dark World has a good deal more of everything we’re looking for than that teaser we were given a few months ago.

At the top of the list is gravitas. Perhaps it is because the comic book Thor is based on long cherished Norse mythology, but he is both more serious and taken more seriously than a lot of the denizens of the Marvel canon. They’ve got Sir Anthony Hopkins playing Odin for Asgard’s sake!  Of course, the somber tone was set when this sequel was titled Thor: The Dark World.

The new trailer also does a better job of reminding us how visually stunning Thor’s world is, plus it gives us a better look at the key players, including Natalie Portman’s Jane, making it clear that her relationship with Thor is  at the heart (pun intended) of this story. We get more of  Ray Stevenson’s Vollstagg (who appears, thankfully, to have lost some of the curl in his hair), and Jaimie Alexander’s Sif.  Idris Elba’s profile has increased a hundred-fold since the first film and so naturally we get a better look at Heimdall, Also of note, is the trailer time given to Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. It was recently confirmed that Loki will not be a part of the upcoming sequel to The Avengers (which, despite the fact that it makes sense in terms of the character, is a still a bummer), so enjoy him while you can.

Watch this:

First, I have to say that I am always surprised by how deep Chris Hemsworth’s voice is.  Second, I love the way they tied this to last summer’s The Avengers. Five words (and a slap) lets us know where this movie falls in the timeline and that the characters are aware of the events from that film.

Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” continues the big-screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself.  In the aftermath of Marvel’s “Thor” and “Marvel’s The Avengers,” Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos…but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.

Thor: The Dark World also stars Stellan Skarsgård, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano, and Rene Russo and will be in UK theaters on 30th October and in the US on November 8, in glorious 2D!

edited to add pics! D’oh!