Jay Chats With ‘My Week With Marilyn’ Director Simon Curtis to Discuss His Newest Film ‘Woman in Gold’

 

Woman-in-Gold_Poster

by: Jay Carlson

Indie Revolver recently sat down with My Week with Marilyn director, Simon Curtis, to discuss his newest film, Woman in Gold.

Curtis discusses the expectations of making another film after the success of My Week with Marilyn, “It’s funny because at the time of My Week with Marilyn, I was always thinking that review wasn’t good and this, that and the other. But now people talk about it as this great success in retrospective. But, you know, I felt very lucky to make that film and very lucky to make that film with who I made it with. So I was thinking I’ve got to be as passionate about something else to make another film. Because, you know, you go on such a complex, intense journey making a film. I just didn’t want to make any old thing. This story, The Woman in Gold, I felt very passionate about. It was a story that meant a lot to me personally and I was very excited to go on the journey.”

Woman in Gold is the remarkable true story of one woman’s journey to reclaim her heritage and seek justice for what happened to her family. Sixty years after she fled Vienna during World War II, an elderly Jewish woman, Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren), starts her journey to retrieve family possessions seized by the Nazis, among them Klimt’s famous painting Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I. Together with her inexperienced but plucky young lawyer Randy Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds), she embarks upon a major battle which takes them all the way to the heart of the Austrian establishment and the U.S. Supreme Court, and forces her to confront difficult truths about the past along the way.

Curtis might seem like a new kid on the block but he’s been at it for quite a while, beginning his career in the theater working with the likes of Academy Award winning director Danny Boyle and Max Stafford-Clark in British theater. “They were theater experiences, so you’d learn to work with actors, basically. And listen to actors and find the language to talk to actors. And also to learn to shut your mouth sometimes as a director. You know? I think that some directors talk all the time and that just gets in the way. So, you learn not to say too much. Someone like Helen, she knows what she’s doing but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want a dialogue, but she doesn’t want to be lectured between every take either. The good thing about being an assistant director is that you get to see other directors at work. Directors don’t tend to see other directors at work. And so that was good. But obviously theater was a great background in teaching me to work with actors.”

From there Curtis moved into a very successful career working in British television. “The kind of TV I was lucky enough to make isn’t a million miles from making a film. You know, it’s like, stuff that’s showing on WGBH Masterpiece (Theater). Working with great British actors essentially, and in BIG projects. Like if you did David Copperfield with Ian McKellen and Maggie Smith and Daniel Radcliffe and it’s three hours long. That isn’t a million miles, in fact, arguably it’s a bigger thing to do than making a movie.”

Coming up this way gave Curtis a unique experience behind the scenes. “I was a producer at the BBC and I watched a lot of other directors working on films. Sam Mendes and Stephen Daldry, all those kind of people, you know, we all grew up together in the theater and television at the BBC and so on. I probably know more (of) other director’s than any other director around, for that reason.”

One thing that Curtis seems to have a knack for is pulling together impressive casts. His last two films have featured the likes of recent Academy Award winner, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Tatiana Maslany, Helen Mirren and Daniel Bruhl. Any film would be lucky to have one of these actors. “I gave a schoolboy his first job as David Copperfield and that was Daniel Radcliffe at age ten. I pride myself with being very ambitious with my casting and trying to get great people in all the smaller parts. You know, to have Charles Dance from Game of Thrones or Elizabeth (McGovern) from Downton Abby or Jonathan Pryce in one of the smaller parts. And in this film, Katie Holmes and Tatiana Maslany from Orphan Black, who is going to be a mammoth star. And also the great German actors, Daniel Brühl and Tom Schilling, they’re some of Germany’s best actors and so they were fantastic to work with. You know, I’ve been very lucky with the people I worked with both at the beginning of their careers and in the case of Dame Judi and Dame Maggie and Dame Helen. You know, these legendary people.”

Along with the cast in front of the camera, Curtis also seeks out the best crew to work with behind the scenes, as well. “The first thing you learn as a director is to get the best collaborators.” Among the talented collaborators on Woman in Gold is composer Hans Zimmer and The Wolverine Director of Photography Ross Emery. “I was very ambitious with the collaborators, and they were all fantastic on this film. That was a big part of it.”

With a film that deftly maneuvers through a nearly hundred year journey, there were surely elements that couldn’t make a two hour feature film. “I mean, there’s so much we couldn’t tell. I think that Maria’s wedding was the last big Jewish social event in Vienna before, so we wanted to get that sense, that dance.. that it was the end of an era. That was important. And actually, the escape (out of Nazi occupied Vienna) was even more complicated than that. But we had to work out, we could only afford THAT many minutes to tell that story before we derailed the film. The joke I have , it’s only half a joke, is that my last film was My Week with Marilyn and this one is my century with Maria. You know it’s a massive undertaking. Frankly Klimt and Adele was a movie. Adele herself, was a movie. Maria and her husband arriving in California, building a life. But we decided the film was this odd couple, these two people who take on this campaign and we wanted to flashback to the past to reinforce that this wasn’t just any old painting. This was a painting that Maria’s uncle commissioned Gustav Klimt to paint of her aunt and it was a painting that was on the wall of the family home. That family was, sort of, the epitome of that whole community that was shattered overnight when the Nazi’s arrived.”

When asked if he felt any pressure dealing with such an important and powerful story, Curtis says, “Yeah, I think if you’ve taken on impersonating Marilyn Monroe for the world (laughter) nothing is ever as frightening as that. But this story is, the emotional truth of it, is very important and the complexity. I didn’t want it to be a simple.. You know, I think so many films are so simplistic. Not all of them, obviously, but a lot are. I wanted this to have the complexity that I felt this story had.”

Curtis elaborates on the logistics of what it was like to shoot a film with such an expansive story and scope. “We were filming in three countries, two languages.. three time periods. We had German actors speaking English, we had English actors speaking German and we had English speaking actors with Austrian accents. It was like a nightmare over there, actually. There was one day when we were doing scenes on the soundstage, doing quite a little comedy scene, interior of the car with Helen holding up a chocolate donut and it was almost played like an L.A. sitcom. We finished that scene and I walked to the next scene and it was Klimt painting Adele in this erotically charged film in German at the beginning of the century and I thought, “How could this be? This is the same movie.” But again, that’s so stimulating, too.”

Even though the film’s heroine Maria Altmann, portrayed by Helen Mirren passed away in 2011, Curtis still had the film’s hero, her lawyer, Randol Shoenberg, played by Ryan Reynolds, available to him. “Randy was very involved. In fact, I was doing press with him last week in Washington, and his acknowledgement that the film feels accurate is terribly important to me. And part of that is he was very helpful in helping shape the script and so on. So that means a lot, because as you say, it’s such a big story, and it’s such a complicated legal procedure and all that. The fact that it lands as authentic is terribly important. He’d never claim to be a filmmaker. So he would read the script and say, “No, that isn’t quite right. What about this?” It was more that sort of level. We showed it to him early on and one of the proudest moments of my life was at the Berlin premiere at the Berlin Film Festival, he was just in floods of tears, moved by the whole thing. In a good way, I hope. But, he was on set a couple of times. He actually appears in the film in a where’s Wally kind of way, the eagle eyed viewer will be able to see him.”

Ultimately, Curtis has high hopes the film will make audiences take notice of the film’s powerful message. “At a time where there aren’t many people living who remember the second World War and one of the themes is, we mustn’t forget, we must remember what happened. It’s landed at a time where anti-Semitism, certainly in Europe, is in the air all over again. It seems a very timely reminder of the perils of anti-Semitism, or indeed the perils of picking on anybody because of their race or religion. I hope that people will be provoked by it and think about how close they are to the terrible events of World War II and how those things mustn’t be forgotten. The film is (also) a love letter to American immigration policy. These people were able to recreate and live great lives in the United States.”

Speaking to what the future might hold for him, Curtis leaves the door open to possibly revisiting his beginnings in the theater. “The timing (would have to be) right and the right play and so on. I’m always interested in that.”

Reflecting back on the Woman in Gold, the director says, “I think that there’s something about (it). This film works and could connect with people all over the world and that’s a very powerful thing. Also, there’s something about sitting there, which I’ve only done in the last week, or so, and seeing it in its finished glory on a screen that is.. you have to pinch yourself over having anything to do with it, honestly. It’s (been) a special experience.”

Woman in Gold opens in select theaters on April 1.

Jay Sits Down With ‘Danny Collins’ Director Dan Fogelman to Talk about Pacino, John Lennon and and Explosive Performances

by: Jay Carlson

Indie Revolver recently had the opportunity to sit down with first time director Dan Fogelman to talk about his new film Danny Collins starring Al Pacino, Annette Bening and Christopher Plummer. You might not know Fogelman by name (not yet anyway) but most likely you’ve seen more than one of the films he’s written, whether it be one of the Disney animated films like Cars, Bolt and Tangled or one of his more adult films like Crazy, Stupid, Love. and Last Vegas. Fogelman jokes, “I either do movies for four year olds or eighty year olds.”

 

His track record as and in-demand screenwriter began to open doors for him, giving him more opportunity to branch out into directing. “All the movies were getting made, I was developing relationships with actors so a lot of opportunities were coming at me to potentially direct something. “Would you want to adapt this book to direct it?” or “Would like to meet to possibly direct this movie at a studio? They’re interested in talking to you.” But it wasn’t really something I was chasing and when I wrote this script I felt very strongly that I didn’t want to hand it to anybody else and that it was time. It was kind of coinciding, I felt I was at the experience level where I was comfortable now and the material kind of spoke to me so.. I controlled it. And so I sent it to Al saying I want to direct this and that’s how it kind of went out in the world.”

The script he’s referring to is Danny Collins. Danny Collins stars Al Pacino as aging 1970s rocker Danny Collins, who can’t give up his hard-living ways. But when his manager (Christopher Plummer) uncovers a 40 year-old undelivered letter written to him by John Lennon, he decides to change course and embarks on a heartfelt journey to rediscover his family, find true love and begin a second act.

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As the film’s opening title card informs us, the film is (kind of) based on a true story. “I had just finished Crazy, Stupid, Love and I’d had a great experience on that film and a lot of people really liked the movie and I was kind of stuck, I didn’t know what to write next. And as I was kind of procrastinating at my blank computer is when I came across the real life story that had and I said this is my next thing I want to write.”

The real life story Fogelman is referring to was that of a British singer/songwriter by the name of Steve Tilston who gave an interview to ZigZag, a British rock magazine, in 1971 in support of his first album. Tilston was asked if he thought fame and fortune would prove toxic to his songwriting, to which he replied, “Yes, yes, of course it will. My heart will suffer.”

Unbeknownst to Tilston, John Lennon read the interview and wrote him a response, saying  that the money didn’t change anything, ending his letter “So whadya think of that?”

Lennon mailed the letter to Tilston in care of ZigZag Magazine, but it never made it to the musician. More than likely, someone at the magazine received the letter and realized its value. Tilston only became aware of the letter 34 years later, when it surfaced in 2005 to be authenticated.

It was this premise that got Fogelman’s gears turning, “I saw this story and  I couldn’t stop thinking about it, about the real-life story of this guy who got a letter 40 years too late from John Lennon. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Not the real life guy’s story, that (story) wasn’t that cinematic. The “What If” of wow, what If there’s a kid who’s really worried about his career going off the rails if he got rich and famous and what it would do to his art? And John Lennon had written him a letter, his hero, that he didn’t get until he was in his sixties. I couldn’t stop thinking about that guy. And then I started thinking about Pacino. And right within a week of seeing that story I had sat down and written the screenplay.  I was writing it for Pacino but I had never met Pacino. I was writing it imagining Pacino. You’re actually sinking into a kind of quiet Al, an Al that maybe you haven’t seen in a while on the big screen. But once he gets that letter he starts to come alive. And we modulated how alive he becomes so it never got too crazy. It becomes fun for the audience to watch Al get that charisma and spark and that Pacino swagger, but then never take it too far. I wrote it for him to hopefully be able to flex all of his muscles a little bit.”

Over the years Pacino has become known for his larger than life performances in films like Scarface and Scent of a Woman, something that Fogelman realized going in. “Al is a New York theater actor at heart, he’s a Shakespearian theater actor. And he is one of the most interesting small actors out there. He’s just not known as much for it because people, as he says, like to put a gun in his hand and give him big things to say. And it works really well, as a country and a world we ate it up. But he’s very comfortable doing a David Mamet play or a very quiet play on stage by himself, and he’s beautiful at it. You don’t want to rob him of all the things we love, the charisma and charm and the ability to pull off a big moment. I hate the movies that are like, “Here’s what you want,” and not give you any of that and then you’ve got to give a great critical review even though you’re getting no pleasure from this fuckin movie. It’s like, no I don’t want to see Al Pacino with a gun to his head for two and a half hours just being depressed and quiet so that’s the line and that’s what I told him. I said, “Al, if we get this right it gets you the ability to do everything in one two hour span that you’re so good at.”

In the film, Al Pacino steps out of his comfort zone and performs onstage as Danny Collins. “I knew he needed to (perform himself). I mean, Al’s not a natural, gifted singer. I was never too concerned about because neither is the character in the film and I had thought it was very important that it be clearly Al and not a fake singer pretending to be Al. I thought that it was really important to see the struggle of a guy who admittedly, I mean, one of his first lines of dialogue in the movie is “I don’t even know if you can call what I’m doing singing anymore.” And that was always scripted and he says “I’ve been abusing my body for four decades.” The craft has left him or the craft that he might have once had and even the songwriting is a muscle he hasn’t used in a while. I think that that’s what’s sweet about the journey. And I think it’s what makes his song that he eventually writes really beautiful and it’s got this Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan vibe to it. It’s a really simple stripped down raw attempt for a guy to recapture something as an older man that he doesn’t have the skillset that he had as a younger man. I think there’s really something kind of emotional about that.. that journey.. musically.”

Al Pacino and Ryan Adams (Pictured with Guitar)

Al Pacino and Ryan Adams (Pictured with Guitar)

Speak of the music, Fogelman puts musician Ryan Adams to great use for the film. The Alt-Country rocker contributes a song to the opening scene of the film. Fogelman says of the song, “Yeah, I believe he altered… but I believe the early, early song, Ryan had said, that.. It’s a while ago now, but I remember him saying that “I have this thing that I’ve always loved but was never sure about, but I feel like it’s maybe what you’re looking for.” And he played it for us and I think, changed it up and adjusted it.”

Adams also contributed by writing the song that Pacino is seen writing throughout the last two acts of the film as well and co-scoring the film with Theodore Shapiro. “The stripped down song that becomes Pacino’s song that carries the second half of the movie, THAT Ryan wrote for us. Like particularly for Al and for the film.” When asked about Adams’ work on the films score Fogelman elaborates, “He worked with Teddy Shapiro, who is a super incredibly talented and accomplished guy who did a bulk of the composing score… We used Ryan’s songs and music all over as score and he took a listen of the movie and just kind of, he basically just kind of creates a bunch of music and then Teddy finds a way to let that inspire score and uses pieces of it and so they share a composing credit on the film.”

Miraculously, the film features numerous original John Lennon songs throughout the film including Imagine and Working Class Hero. “I was putting all these songs in my cut and everyone, including my lovely producers, particularly my main producer Jesse, who’s been with me for six years on this project was going, “Damn, what are you doing to yourself? Can you make a list prioritizing them, at least?” And then Yoko’s camp responded and they saw the movie for what it is, the underpinning of the movie is a bit of a love letter to Lennon. He’s kind of this voice, carrying a through line underneath it all subconsciously. They worked with us and we were able to.. we got the call that we were basically told that we could leave all the music that we had put in, in the film.”

It would seem like making a first film with such an established cast would be daunting for a first time director but Fogelman says, “It was surprisingly not difficult. In fact, in many ways it made it easier because everybody was such pros. It was definitely jumping in the deep end a bit with Pacino starting in the title role for your first one, but he’s the loveliest. He’s really a great guy. You look at the poster and it’s got these five gigantic names on it and especially with Pacino and Annette and Plummer, like these kind of legendary actors who are older than me. They happen to also be the nicest people. I always say when you do this kind of stuff you have to pretend they’re nice but these guys are genuinely nice. And that makes a big difference. You know you spend a lot of time preparing for the film and knowing these people and by the time you’re shooting it’s no longer intimidating because they’re kind and they’re nice and you know them so it makes life a lot easier.” Fogelman jokes, “I mean if I had walked into day one of shooting with Al Pacino and Annette Bening and Christopher Plummer and they were all dicks it would have been different. ”

Working with movie stars one could imagine needing to deal with egos on set but Fogelman says this wasn’t the case “No. None Whatsoever. As Normal as can be other than the fact that they’re incredibly famous and well known.”

One role that proved a little more difficult to cast was that of Danny’s grown son, Tom, played by Bobby Cannavale. “Originally, very early on, coming off Crazy, Stupid, Love. (Steve) Carell was involved with it and even considered playing the son.”  Pacino then brought up Cannavale, “Al very early always wanted Bobby. They had done Glengarry Glen Ross together and I’ve been an admirer of his since, like, Station Agent. So it was just a matter of would we be able to pull off the financing for that version of the film? It’s such a big part in this movie. It’s ostensibly where you end the movie. It’s the core relationship in the film. I’m so glad it worked out because there’s such a genetic coding between them. I think they feel like father and son in real life. They love each other like father and son a little bit, they have a very close relationship, Bobby and Al. Al really admires him, I think he’s somebody like an actor that Al has given the next generational seal of approval to. He really thinks he’s the real deal, which I do, too. He’s a heavyweight actor. He’s got a real alpha-male masculine presence, which is not common. At an age and a type that doesn’t always get necessarily represented. Our movie stars tend to be a lot prettier and he’s got, there’s just a real man there. A man’s man. That was very important for this film, a kind of salt of the earth dude. Allowing Bobby and Al, who are both most known in their respective careers for these big, showy performances, whether it be Scarface and Scent of a Woman or whether it’s Bobby killing people in Boardwalk Empire, I thought this was an opportunity. Most of their scenes are very, very intimate, quiet scenes. . I like that both of them have the chance to flex that muscle when they’re known for BIG SHOWY STUFF and it’s a lot more quiet. They’re explosive actors, and with that you get iconic, explosive parts and then you become known for that. Which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not all they can do either. “

On finding his niche, Fogelman elaborates, “To me, Crazy, Stupid, Love and this film are most in the zone of what I set out to do when I decided this was what I was going to do for a living. I don’t know what you call that type of movie. It just feels like… a movie. My dad really likes this movie and my fiancé’s parents really like this movie but also my fiancé really likes this movie. I like those type of films. So, I don’t know what that all means. It’s interesting, I’ve been thinking a lot about it a lot with the animated films. You get more leeway to do stuff that’s unabashedly heartfelt and sweet with animated films. In our increasingly cynical world with more and more internet, it’s harder to put a live action adult movie out that wears its heart on its sleeve because you get hit for it. There’s just no way to pull it off without getting hit. To make a commercial heartfelt film is scary but I’m going to keep trying. I don’t know what you call them and I don’t know what the market is for them anymore, but it’s what I like. You just have to keep chasing that.”

Danny Collins opens tomorrow. I highly recommend you give it a look. You won’t be disappointed.

 

Arrow’s Stephen Amell joins ‘TMNT 2’!

by: Marcus Rivera

Oliver Queen is leaving Star City & headed to the Big Apple! Variety is reporting that Stephen Amell, who plays the titular hero on the hit WB show Arrow, will take on the role of Casey Jones in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2. He joins the returning Megan Fox and Will Arnett in the film, which will be directed by David Green (Earth to Echo).

Casey Jones is one of the more popular characters in turtle lore, a loner-type who becomes an ally of the turtles & fights alongside them in a hockey mask and with various weapons. He had also served as a love interest for April O’Neil. Elias Koteas played the role in the original live-action film.

The site reports that Amell screen-tested alongside six actors over the weekend and won the role because of his chemistry with Fox, who plays April. A few scenes were recently filmed during a Knicks/Clippers game at MSG with Arnett and his love interest in the film, supermodel Alessandra Ambrosia. Clippers SG JJ Reddick was interviewed and let it slip that the title maybe TMNT: Half Shelled. The sequel is set for release next year.

How do you feel about Amell taking on the role of Casey Jones, sound off and let us know!

Put This in Your Eyes Now!! The Final Trailer for ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ is Here!

 

From director George Miller, originator of the post-apocalyptic genre and mastermind behind the legendary “Mad Max” franchise, comes “Mad Max: Fury Road,” a return to the world of the Road Warrior, Max Rockatansky.

Haunted by his turbulent past, Mad Max believes the best way to survive is to wander alone. Nevertheless, he becomes swept up with a group fleeing across the Wasteland in a War Rig driven by an elite Imperator, Furiosa. They are escaping a Citadel tyrannized by the Immortan Joe, from whom something irreplaceable has been taken. Enraged, the Warlord marshals all his gangs and pursues the rebels ruthlessly in the high-octane Road War that follows.

Tom Hardy (“The Dark Knight Rises”) stars in the title role in “Mad Max: Fury Road”—the fourth in the franchise’s history. Oscar winner Charlize Theron (“Monster,” “Prometheus”) stars as the Imperator, Furiosa. The film also stars Nicholas Hoult (“X-Men: Days of Future Past”) as Nux; Hugh Keays-Byrne (“Mad Max,” “Sleeping Beauty”) as Immortan Joe; and Nathan Jones (“Conan the Barbarian”) as Rictus Erectus. Collectively known as The Wives, Zoë Kravitz (“Divergent”) plays Toast, Riley Keough (“Magic Mike”) is Capable, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”) is Splendid, and supermodel Abbey Lee is The Dag, and Courtney Eaton is Fragile. Also featured in the movie are Josh Helman as Slit, Jennifer Hagan as Miss Giddy, and singer/songwriter/performer iOTA as Coma-Doof Warrior.

The cast is rounded out by well-known Australian actors John Howard and Richard Carter, supermodel Megan Gale, Angus Sampson, Joy Smithers, Gillian Jones, Melissa Jaffer and Melita Jurisic.

Oscar-winning filmmaker George Miller (“Happy Feet”) is directing the film from a screenplay he wrote with Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris. Miller is also producing the film, along with longtime producing partner, Oscar nominee Doug Mitchell (“Babe”, “Happy Feet”), and P.J. Voeten. Iain Smith, Graham Burke and Bruce Berman serve as executive producers.

The behind-the-scenes creative team includes Oscar-winning director of photography John Seale (“The English Patient”), production designer Colin Gibson (“Babe”), editor Margaret Sixel (“Happy Feet”), Oscar-winning costume designer Jenny Beavan (“A Room with a View”), action unit director and stunt coordinator Guy Norris (“Australia”), and makeup designer Lesley Vanderwalt (“Knowing”).

Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, a Kennedy Miller Mitchell production, a George Miller film, “Mad Max: Fury Road.” The film is scheduled for release on May 15, 2015, and will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.

Mad Max: Fury Road drives into your brain on May 15th.

Trailer: ‘Masterminds’ Starring Kristen Wiig, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis and Owen Wilson

Masterminds has a helluva pedigree. The film, based on the 1997 Loomis Fargo Robbery in North Carolina by four dimwitted southerners, is being directed and by Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre) from a script by Emily Spivey and Jody Hill & Danny R. McBride and Chris Bowman & Hubbel Palmer.

David Ghantt (Zach Galifianakis) discovers the true meaning of adventure far beyond his wildest dreams. He is an uncomplicated man stuck in a monotonous life. Day in and day out he drives an armored vehicle, transporting millions of other people’s money with no escape in sight. The only glimmer of excitement is his flirtatious work crush Kelly Campbell (Kristen Wiig) who soon lures him into the scheme of a lifetime.

Along with a group of half-brained criminals led by Steve Chambers (Owen Wilson) and an absurdly faulted heist plan, David manages the impossible and makes off with $17 million in cash…only problem is he foolishly hands the money over to this wild group of double crossers and has been set up to take the fall. With the bandits blowing the millions on lavish and ridiculous luxuries, they leave behind a glaring trail of evidence. Now on the lam and in over his head, David must dodge the authorities, evade a hilarious hit man, Mike McKinney (Jason Sudeikis), and try to turn the tables on the ones he trusted most.

 

The film was title was recently changed from its working title of Loomis Fargo to Masterminds.

Masterminds is scheduled to be released on August 14, 2015.

 

 

Deadpool Casts Newcomer as Obscure Mutant Character

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

Just days after Bryan Singer cast unknown actress Lana Condor as Jubilee in X-Men: Apocalypse, Tim Miller has done the same and cast a relative newbie as an obscure mutant character in his upcoming Deadpool film.

Brianna Hildebrand has nabbed the role of teenage mutant Negasonic Teenage Warhead according to The Hollywood Reporter. The character was an original creation of writer Grant Morrison on his New X-Men run. She was introduced and summarily killed early in his run.

It’s unknown at this time how much of the character will transfer from page to screen. The comic book version was a pale Goth kid with precognitive and telepathic powers. It is being reported that Hildebrand is currently going through stunt training, so it’s a good bet that NTW will do more than just sit on the sidelines and mess with people’s minds.

Deadpool will be Hildebrand’s first major role. She was part of Annie Undocumented, a web series that won the 2014 New York TV Festival for Best Web Series.

Filming is currently under way in Vancouver with Ryan Reynolds, T.J. Miller, Gina Carano and Morena Baccarin among others.

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Disney Targets ‘Mulan as Next Live-Action Adaptation

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

And another green light goes off as Disney okays another live-action adaptation of one of its popular animated films. The Hollywood Reporter reports that the studio has decided to buy a script from writing team Elizabeth Martin and Lauren Hynek to bring Mulan back to the big screen.

The story will center on the female warrior Hua Mulan and may stay a little closer to the source material than the Disney films did (which probably means no Eddie Murphy-voiced dragon or cute cricket). That’s not a bad thing – the newest version of Cinderella kept things a little more realistic (while still magical it kept a lot of the story grounded) and that was a fantastic movie.

The original 1998 animated film told the story of Mulan, a young woman who (to protect her father) joins the Chinese army disguised as a man and goes to war. With the help of her trusty dragon sidekick Mushsu, Mulan becomes a skilled warrior and is recognized as one of the country’s greatest heroes.

Disney has been on a roll. Maleficent and Cinderella have both been box-office smashes. And the slate for their live-action movies keeps growing, with versions of The Jungle Book, Beauty And The Beast and Dumbo all set to hit theaters sometime in the near future.

Director Colin Trevorrow set to Read From the ‘Book of Henry’

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

Just from watching trailers of the upcoming June film Jurassic World, t looks like director Colin Trevorrow has crafted a film worthy of the original. And he’s not content to just sit back and bask in the adulation. He’s already been attached to direct sci-fi thriller Intelligent Life, a film that he co-wrote with JW partner Derek Connolly. And the most recent news is that he’s signed on to direct the upcoming film Book of Henry.

Not much is known about the film, other than it’s an original idea from crime novelist Gregg Hurwitz. Aside from writing books, Hurwitz is also known for writing comics for DC and Marvel (he had quite possibly one of the best Punisher stories ever outside of Garth Ennis and Aaron Way).

There are high hopes for this film as Sidney Kimmel Entertainment (the main backer for the film) is prepping for a September shoot in New York.

“Book of Henry is a remarkable piece of screenwriting that has stuck with me for years,” Trevorrow said. “I feel very fortunate to be able to tell this story. It is a true original.”

POW! New Batman ’66 Animated Film in the Works!

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

Holy Merchandising, Batman! (Sorry, I couldn’t help it.)

The last year or so has seen the old-school Batman TV show finally get its licensing problems sorted out and all sorts of merchandise has come out of the woodwork, We’ve had action figures, a comic book series, a myriad of other collectibles and the Holy Grail – The Complete Series on glorious high-def Blu-Ray! But it doesn’t stop there.

Announced at the Mad Monster Party in Charlotte, NC via Consequence of Sound we have now learned that a full length animated feature film based in the 1966 Batman universe is in the works – and that Adam West and Burt Ward will voice their respective characters of Batman and Robin!

The movie is set to release in 2016 for the 50th anniversary of the show. It’s rumored that there are two movies in the works, but for now we definitely know that we’re getting at least one with West and Ward returning to the fold.

Odds are good that this will go straight-to-DVD/Blu-Ray. DC Comics can’t seem to make a live-action film (outside of Nolan’s Batman trilogy) that critics or fans can agree on, but their animated universe is beyond great. This film wouldn’t fall inot that current universe, but it could be a fun little side trip, like the Dark Knight Returns animated movies.

I usually buy the DC Animated films fairly quickly after release, but considering it’s the 1966 Batman (of which I’m a fan of the show and the current comic series) I may have to buy this on Day One. If I’m not at work the day it comes out, you know where to find me – in front of my TV singing along to one of the best TV themes of all time!

Shooting Commences on Nicolas Winding Refn’s ‘The Neon Demon’!

by: Jay Carlson

We’ve been eagerly anticipating Nicolas Winding Refn’s return behind the camera since casting began for his upcoming film, The Neon Demon. He’s put together an all-star cast including Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Karl Glusman, Bella Heathcote, Abbey Lee, Desmond Harrington, Christina Hendricks, and Keanu Reeves.

Refn begins filming today on the film, which centers on an aspiring model, Jesse (played by Fanning), who moves to Los Angeles where her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has. 

Refn says of the project, “I very much look forward to the odyssey I’ll be taking with all these wonderful actresses (and a few guys) to travel beyond The Neon Demon where all I see is the wicked dying young.”

I can’t wait to see what Refn does with a horror film.

 

 

Transformers to get its own Cinematic Universe?

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

Oh Marvel, look what you’ve started.

After seeing the success that Marvel had with its cohesive cinematic universe, the copycats were sure to follow. It only made sense for Warner Bros to do that with their DC Comics properties. And Universal followed suit with a plan to connect all of their classic monster characters together. Shared universes are the in thing apparently.

Now the latest rumor from Deadline is that Paramount is looking to follow suit with their Transformers franchise. And the man behind the brain trust is Akiva Goldsman, the Oscar-winning writer of A Beautiful Mind (but also the man responsible for the gigantic flop Winter’s Tale)

Goldsman will work with executive producers Michael Bay, Steven Spielberg and Lorenzo di Bonaventura to hire a group of writers to help create a cohesive cinematic world where many sequels and spinoffs could come into play. While Goldsman will spearhead this group it’s being reported that he wouldn’t actually be involved in the writing process (which may be a blessing or a curse depending on how you look at it).

It’s expected that Bay, the director of the first four films, will return for number five after he’s done with his Benghazi attack film 13 Hours.

I’m all for this if it means we get better Transformers films. I loved the first one, as it brought out the little kid in me that played with Transformers toys. But they steadily declined in quality as the sequels came out. I was thoroughly bored with the fourth film and felt that pretty much everyone involved should have been ashamed with their involvement in that project. But if hiring a group of writers whose job it is to keep track of the films and give us better movies is what Paramount thinks will turn this franchise around, by all means go for it.

And before people start taking about the possibilities of a GI Joe / Transformers crossover (di Bonaventura controls the rights to the Real American Heroes), let’s worry about cleaning up the Robots In Disguise first. What we need is a few films that lead to an encounter with a big bad that brings together all the characters from the sequels and spinoffs that are being dreamed up, ala Marvels Avengers. Maybe a big Earth-threatening event, like the arrival of major villain Unicron?

But that’s only after all the in-house stuff gets taken care of and the movies start to make some sense again. One step at a time.

‘Deadpool’ Gets Official Logo and Synopsis!

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

Ryan Reynolds has been busy repping Marvel’s Merc With A Mouth on social media recently and it looks like that train has no intent of slowing down. 20th Century FOX, the studio behind the upcoming Deadpool film have launched a Facebook and Twitter page for the film as well as releasing the official logo and synopsis.

The logo is pretty plain, but it works. I would have liked the circle symbol DP uses as a belt buckle used in some way, but that could be some time down the line.

The synopsis for the film is pretty generic:

Based upon Marvel Comics’ most unconventional anti-hero, DEADPOOL tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.

Any fan of the character knows that anything involving Deadpool will be wacky, insane and beyond any conventional explanation anyways. This is a film that was pushed forward by the fans that read and love the character and the fans involved in making the actual product (Ryan Reynolds has always had this film in his sights, championing it since day one). It has the MARVEL logo, so most people will go see it just for that despite what the “official description” says.

Deadpool is filming now for a February 12, 2016 release. It stars Ryan Reynolds, Gina Carano, Morena Baccarin and T.J. Miller and will be directed by Tim Miller.

UPDATED With Comments From James Mangold: Is Hugh Jackman Hanging up his Claws?

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

UPDATE:

Well folks, it’s official.

James Mangold, director of the upcoming Wolverine sequel, has confirmed via Twitter that Hugh Jackman will pop the claws for the last time in his film.

Even though Hugh Jackman has said in the past that he’d love to play the Canadian mutant until the day he dies, we all know it had to end sometime. Hopeful Mangold crafts one hell of a send-off for the Ol’ Canucklehead.

————————————————————————————————–

Could we be close to hearing Hugh Jackman’s final Snikt?

The Aussie actor recently posted a photo to his Instagram page that showed his hands closed into fists, with one of them wielding the familiar claws of the mutant character Wolverine. Along with the photo he posted the caption “WOLVERINE…ONE LAST TIME. HJ.”

Hugh Jackman

It would seem that Jackman is telling us that he’ll be sheathing his claws for the final time, possibly after the next Wolverine solo film.

Hugh Jackman and Wolverine are pretty much one and the same to many people at this point. The actor has portrayed the Canadian destroyer in seven X-Men franchise films since they started in 2000 (including a quickie cameo in First Class, which was probably one of that movie’s funniest scenes). It’s hard to imagine anyone else portraying Logan at this point in time.

With that being said, it’s not like the studio is going to allow one of the most popular mutants in Marvel’s roster to stop being used in films. It will be interesting to see where FOX goes with this. Do they pick another actor and hope that fans take to him? Or do they let director Bryan Singer manipulate the time/space continuum of the movie world again and somehow take care of Wolverine that way?

Either way, we knew it had to happen eventually. Let’s just hope the fans are ready when Jackman says good-bye to popping those claws.

Gillian Flynn and Steve McQueen Team Up for Heist Thriller!

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

Gillian Flynn worked magic for the big screen when she adapted her book Gone Girl for director David Fincher. The duo made one hell of a film and Flynn was lauded for her writing skills. Now the scribe will be teaming up with Steve McQueen, the man behind the camera for 12 Years a Slave, for an upcoming crime thriller according to Deadline.

The as-yet-untitled heist flick will be based on the 2002 British mini-series Widows. It tells the tale of the wives of a group of armed robbers. After the men are killed in a job that went south, the ladies pick up where their spouses left off to finish what was started.

McQueen will direct the film, with he and Flynn co-writing the script.

I like the sound of this, but I’m also afraid for Gillian Flynn. Even though she’s got a few other projects in the works (including scripting a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train), I don’t want her to get branded as the writer who specializes in “tough / crazy women.”

That being said, this sounds like an interesting idea. There’s no shortage of top notch actresses who would definitely want to attach their name to this, what with the behind the scenes talent already attached. Hopefully this gets put on the fast track and we see some casting news soon.

Is ‘Star Trek’ Headed Back to TV?

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

It looks like we may get to boldly go where no man has gone before from the comforts of our own homes again.

Latino Review is reporting that CBS is currently developing a new Star Trek show for television. Essentially the new show would take after the premise of the rumored pitch from around 2006 (before the J.J. Abrams reboot / reimagining) called Star Trek: Federation.

The original pitch would launch the timeline into the far flung future and redefine some of the already well known characters and turn traditional Trek stereotypes on their heads. The Federation would be a mere peacekeeping force. The Vulcans would withdraw from the United Federation of Planets and rejoin with the Romulans. The Klingons wouldn’t be warriors, but warrior-mystics. The possibilities for scenarios are endless.

While not much is officially known (and other sites are already calling shenanigans), this would be a decent idea. You can have the new movies for the big budget action romps that they were meant to be and you could do the TV show for more long-term dramatic storytelling. And the studio wouldn’t need to worry about the show and films contradicting each other, as the timelines would be separated by a vast number of years.

Rumor is that Bryan Singer and Mark Burnett could be involved in a producer capacity with Christopher McQuarrie also being involved in some way. That’s a pretty strong trio of talent behind the camera. If the show does go forward, at least it would seem to be in capable hands.

What do you think IR readers? Does the thought of a new Star Trek series get you excited?

First Trailer and Name for ‘The Walking Dead’ Companion Series!

While not exactly innovative, AMC has given its companion series to The Walking Dead an official title. It kind of hits the nail right in the head while being a little obvious.

The companion series is called Fear the Walking Dead. The news was broken via Twitter by The Walking Dead co-creator Robert Kirkman.

Kinda…anti-climactic. Like I said, obvious (because we should all fear zombies) but it does tell you what you need to know.

The new series, set to debut this summer between Season 5 and Season 6 of the main show, has already been picked up for a 2 season order. It will feature a brand new cast set in a new locale and take us back to the beginning of the initial outbreak, showing us how the world first reacted when the dead began to rise.

Starring Cliff Curtis, Kim Dickens, Sam Dillane and Alycia Debnam Carey, the new show will take place in Los Angeles. The first season has been set for a six episode order, much like the initial season The Walking Dead.

 

 

Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Talks for ‘Force Majeure’ Remake

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

In a move typical of Hollywood, when a foreign film does good it just HAS to be remade for an American audience. This time around it’s the Swedish darling Force Majeure, a film that swept the Guldbagge Awards (think Swedish Oscars) and won the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes last year, as well as being nominated for the Best Foreign Film at the Golden Globes.

FOX Searchlight has picked up the rights to the remake and The Hollywood Reporter is saying that the studio is in talks with Julia Louis-Dreyfus to star.

Louis-Dreyfus is more known for her comedy work, best remembered as Elaine from the hit 90’s sitcom Seinfeld and more recently for her work on the HBO series Veep. She hasn’t had much chance of a chance to showcase her dramatic side, but I do recall liking her performance opposite the late James Gandolfini in Enough Said.

Force Majeure tells the story of a family on vacation in the French Alps. When an avalanche threatens the resort the family is staying at, the father (in an act of extreme cowardice) abandons his family to save himself. Once the disaster has passed and the family is reunited, the dad attempts to reconnect with his family, but his actions have caused a rift in their dynamic that may not be able to be repaired.

No writer or director has been attached at this time.

With the Americanization, I’d expect that the vacation would be changed to somewhere like a New England ski resort or somewhere in Colorado possibly. Either way, the story idea is top notch and attaching Julia Luis-Dreyfus should get potential writers and directors jumping to work with her.

Vincent D’Onofrio Circling Villain Role in Antoine Fuqua’s ‘Magnificent Seven’

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

Antoine Fuqua has chosen his villain for the upcoming Magnificent Seven remake, and it’s someone who seems to be relishing the darker roles lately. Variety reports Vincent D’Onofrio has just signed on to play opposite Denzel Washington in Fuqua’s western project.

D’Onofrio has been taking on some villainous roles as of late. He’s appearing in the Netflix series Daredevil as the ruthless crime boss Wilson Fisk, better known as The Kingpin. And he’ll also be in an antagonistic role in the upcoming summer blockbuster Jurassic World.

Antoine Fuqua’s Magnificent Seven is a remake of the 1960 western of the same name starring Yul Brenner, which itself was a reimagining of the 1954 Akira Kurosawa classic Seven Samurai. The newest incarnation has a script written by True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto with rewrites by John Lee Hancock.

In the film, a ruthless gold-minig baron (most likely D’Onofrio) and his thugs take over a small town. When opposed, they kill one of the men in the town. His widow (actress Haley Bennett) hires a bounty hunter (Washington) to drive the bad guys out of the town for good. The bounty hunter rounds up a team of six more men to help get the job done.

The cast also includes Ethan Hawke and Chris Pratt as members of Washington’s posse.

Even though no release date has been set, production is slated to start in the next month or so. This means we should expect more cast updates to round out the rest of the Seven hopefully soon.

Will Star Wars’ First LGBT Character Also Appear in ‘Rogue One’?

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

Disney has been getting a lot of positive press with the recent announcement of the first official LGBT character in the Star Wars universe. The character, Moff Mars, will make her debut in the upcoming novel Star Wars: Lords Of the Sith, which is due to hit shelves at the end of April. But now the rumor is that Mars will make her onscreen debut in the future spinoff film Rogue One.

According to Cinelinx (who first broke the news of a possible live-action SW TV show), Disney is thinking about putting a character from the upcoming slate of books onto television. While the show is just speculation at this time, the good word is that Mars could be that character.

The timeline fits. Lords Of The Sith takes place after the cinematic Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith and Rogue One ( a story of a group of bounty hunters looking to steal the plans for the currently-under-construction first Death Star) will take place shortly before Episode IV: A New Hope. Mars’ could be the character being hinted at by those with the inside track.

While Disney and LucasFilm are keeping mum on all this, it certainly seems like it would benefit them greatly. There has been a huge push to show diversity, and showcasing the first canon LGBT character would be the way to go for that. And this would go a long way in helping strengthen the bond between the movies and the various other support projects the House Of Mouse has in mind for the Star Wars universe.

Star Wars: Lords Of the Sith hits bookstores April 28 while Star Wars: Rogue One will hit the silver screen December 16, 2016.

Ryan Reynolds Channels his Inner Burt Reynolds in the Costume Reveal for ‘Deadpool’

By: Jay Carlson

 

Ryan Reynolds took to his official Twitter account to give the world its first look at what his Deadpool will look like when it hits the big screen on February 12th 2016

In keeping with the humor of the character, Reynolds struck the pose of another famous Reynolds for the costume unveiling.

What do you think? I hated the Deadpool we saw in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but I have faith that Reynolds and company are very capable of nailing the character.

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Ethan Suplee and Jeremy London Returning for Kevin Smith’s ‘Mallrats 2’

mallrats poster

by: Jay Carlson

As predicted the pieces are all falling into place for Kevin Smith’s Mallrats 2.

Yesterday, Ethan Suplee was confirmed via Smith’s official Instagram account, followed by Jeremy London this morning.

 

They join already announced cast mates Jason Lee, Shannon Doherty, Michael Rooker, Stan Lee, Jason Mewes and Smith himself.

According to Smith’s count he has eight of the twelve cast mates confirmed. It’s safe to assume that  the remaining four would be, Ben Affleck, Claire Forlani, Joey Lauren Adams and Renee Humphries.

What do you think? Are you at all excited to see all these Gen X’ers Twenty years older. It sounds kind of depressing to me…