Monday, September 1, 2014

Fifty Shades of Suck: Welcome to Bonertown


Happy Labor Day to everyone!  

Megan and I recorded Chapter 4 in our Fifty Shades of Suck podcast over the weekend, and we both thought that it would make a great way to cap off your long weekend!  Who needs the Every. Simpsons. Ever. Marathon or the Breaking Bad lovefest when you can hear Megan and I being snarky about the worst relationship ever committed?  You might want to tread carefully, because I declare my desire to kill myself quite early on in this chapter.  If Fifty Shades Darker is driving you to thoughts of suicide, use the number below.  


E.L. James must have thought she was boring her readers (she was), because this chapter is FULL of sex.  I'm not kidding.  There are 2 full on sex scenes in this chapter, but there was opportunity for even more.  James has two sex scenes back-to-back that fade to the fireplace.  Instead of having details that, you know, further the plot or make things interesting, James must have taken the notes from her editors to not have Ana and Christian bang themselves sore so much in one section of the book.  

You know those cheesy love scenes in movies where the camera fades over the fireplace to suggest sex?  James pulls that TWICE in this chapter alone!  

This is legitimately 2 hours long.  Enjoy!  

Ana's psychotic tendencies continue in this chapter.  Her possessiveness reaches even further highs when she tells Christian about the "ashen young woman" who accosted her in front of her workplace.  Apparently, Ana can't handle the fact that Christian had other girlfriends before, but the craziness is at least double sided.  After they bang (legitimately, not fireplace fade) the first time, Christian jokingly calls Ana his wench and demands that she make him some food.  I wonder if these two would be good opposite each other in Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew?  


Christian also says of Jack, "That fucker better watch himself."  Okaaaaaaaayyyy...

The chapter ends with a great Miley Cyrus "Wrecking Ball" reference when we get introduced to a character at the very end.



If you are new to Fifty Shades of Suck, my best gal pal Megan and I meet up every week to read a chapter from the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, but we provide our own snarky commentary.  Last year, we subjected ourselves to the first book, and now we are chugging right alone through the first sequel, Fifty Shades Darker.  If you would like to play catch up, the first set of podcasts are available here, and Fifty Shades Darker chapters are available below.  We hope you enjoy, and share them with your friends!!!


Friday, August 29, 2014

Movie MoJoe's 25 Most Anticipated Fall Movies


I legitimately had a hard time compiling this list this season. There are so many great looking films coming out this fall that it was difficult to cut them down to 25. Hopefully, there is a good combination of "prestige" films and blockbuster-y stuff on here--I always aim to have a nice mixture on my lists.  Let's just dive in, shall we?  

This might be a groan-inducing start off the list, but bitching be damned!  Since I was "fortunate" to live through Snowmageddon, I get the appeal of Two Night Stand, but I could see why people might not be down for it. 

Analeigh Tipton and Miles Teller play Megan and Alec, a pair of strangers who hook up for a one night stand.  When Megan goes to leave (and take her walk of shame), she finds that she can't leave Alec's apartment building because of a freak snowstorm.  With no way of escaping, the two are forced to spend time together, and maybe (just maybe) give their sexual fling another shot.


Perhaps Megan could just crawl out a window (surely, there is some sort of montage about her trying to leave and whatnot), but then we wouldn't have a romantic comedy!  In my day, when we had Snowmageddons, we got resourceful.  Not to toot my own horn, but I walked from Carrick to the Southside Works Theater and back when Pittsburgh was hit with a massive blizzard.  Just saying.  


Ah, Jake Gyllenhaal.  What a beautiful man.  Well, not so much in Nightcralwer--but the memory of his dreaminess remains.  

Jakey went Dallas Buyers Club skinny to star as Lou Bloom, a young man seemingly desperate for any job.  You know that guy that will walk into an office and try to charm his way into employment?  Lou seems like that guy.  He has the tenacity and the catch phrases that he thinks employers want to hear.  It's odd that Bloom would stumble onto becoming a videographer and going to any lengths to capture a news story.  


There's a playful intensity that reminds me of Christian Bale in American Psycho here.  Gyllenhaal must have thought it was a great part, because he dropped out of Rob Marshall's Into the Woods to star in Nightcrawler.  The film is directed by Michael Clayton's Tony Gilroy and also stars Rene Russo and Bill Paxton.  That's right.  Come for Jakey, stay for Rene.  

Jakey has been doing some great stuff lately (End of Watch, Prisoners), so maybe this will continue his streak.  


The Babadook centers around a demonic book.  Yes, it's a Barnes & Noble kind of horror flick!  Even the name of this little Australian horror movie sounds sinister.  The way it rolls off the tongue is kind of eerie.

Written and directed by Jennifer Kent, The Babadook stars Essie Davis as Amelia, a mother still struggling with the death of her husband six years earlier.  Her son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) is acting out at school, and his teachers think he has some serious behavioral problems.  When Samuel discovers a mysterious book in his room (called Mister Babadook) he believes that a monster is trying to get him and his mother.  


The imagery is so spooky.  It kind of reminds me of Persepolis gone to hell, and the sound design sounds menacing as well.  Is something wrong with Amelia that is causing the strife in her house, or is there really a monster that hides under the bed?  The Babadook debuted to rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.  


I came to a realization the other day.  Like a lot of people, I gave Kristen Stewart a lot of shit.  I mean, I obviously didn't give shit to her face, but, I complained about her like I know something.  Sure, my opinion of the Twilight Saga movies is pretty low, but I'd forgotten that Stewart is a really good actress.  Now that the vampire series is over, we can see her stretch her legs again (imagine all the roles she must have turned down due to her commitments to Bella Swan) in the Guantanamo drama, Camp X-Ray.  

Stewart plays Private Amy Cole, a soldier assigned to the Guantanamo Bay prison.  Her cap hides her eyes at the beginning of the trailer, and it appears that she is trying to just get along without being noticed.  She befriends a detainee being held at Camp X-Ray, and she begins to question her position as a soldier.  


Could her position with this detainee, played by Payman Maadi, change her entire outlook on the war?  These two characters are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum, and I'm very interested in seeing how they affect each other.  Of all the movies on this list, I think I am most interested in seeing Stewart's performance more than the movie.  It's not that I don't want to see Camp, it's just I am most looking forward to seeing Stewart tell all the haters to knock it off.   


Ava DuVernay directed a small, but very much acclaimed, film in 2012 called Middle of Nowhere.  A lot of the people I follow on Twitter and Facebook absolutely rave about it, but I can't ever seem to find it.  It has never come out on blu-ray, and I missed its debut on BET a few weeks back (trust me, I was kicking myself for not setting my DVR).  DuVernay's next feature is the Martin Luther King Jr. drama, Selma

Lee Daniels cast Daniel Oyelowo (who gained 30 pounds) as King back in 2010, but Daniels dropped out of the director's chair.  He didn't want to direct another civil rights film so soon after The Butler.  Other directors, including Paul Haggis and Spike Lee, considered taking on the project, but DuVernay signed on in the summer of 2013.  

The film chronicles three months in the summer of 1965.  DuVernay recreates the assault on Bloody Sunday protesters and the march in Alabama that leads up to the Voting Rights Act being passed.  It will also focus on the marriage between King and his wife, Coretta, played by Carmen Ejogo.  This cast is ridiculous.  Joining Oyelowo is Tom Wilkinson (as Lyndon B. Johnson), Oprah Winfrey (who is also producing), Orange is the New Black's Lorraine Toussaint, Giovanni Ribisi, Common, Niecy Nash, Alessandro Nivola, and Cuba Gooding, Jr.  

Now if someone can just get me a copy of Middle of Nowhere!  


In my review for Begin Again, I mentioned how much I enjoyed Keria Knightley's performance.  She's very relaxed and low-key.  Fingers crossed that she keeps the vibe up in Laggies, a coming-of-age comedy from director Lynn Shelton.  

Normally, "finding yourself" movies star stunted men (I'm looking at you, Zach Braff!!!), so the idea of a girl trying to figure things out intrigues me.  Knightley's Megan still lives with her high school boyfriend (Mark Webber), but when he proposes, she freaks out.  She tells him that she's going on a retreat, but she actually runs into a teenager (Chloe Grace Moretz) who convinces Megan to buy alcohol for her and her friends.  Knightley ends up hanging out with the tweens for the entire evening and a friendship is formed.  


If the idea of Knightley and Mortez hanging out isn't enough to sell you, then how about Sam Rockwell as Moretz's single dad?  I fell in love with Rockwell all over again last year during The Way Way Back, so seeing him as a father to a 15 year old definitely has me signed up.  


All right all right all right.  You've seen Matthew McConaughey lose weight to play a man suffering from AIDS, you've seen him romance Kate Hudson up and down, you've seen him win a freaking Oscar.  Now it's time to witness McConaughey in space!  

Christopher Nolan's Interstellar takes place in a future where the human race is dying.  Our planet can no longer grow the food that is needed to support the growing population.  Wouldn't it be kind of awesome if Nolan turned in a light comedy?  McConaughey stars as a widowed engineer who is asked to travel through a wormhole to embark on adventure in order to save humankind as we know it!!! 


Interestingly, Anne Hathaway dropped out of the Keira Knightley role in Laggies in order to star in Nolan's latest epic.  The cast is pretty impressive, but who wouldn't want to star in a Christopher Nolan film, right?  Jessica Chastain, Wes Bentley, Casey Affleck and Ellen Burstyn join Hathaway and McConaughey.  Oh, and Michael Caine.  Because, you know, Michael Caine is in almost all of Nolan's films.  

In case you were worried that McConaughey's newly-minted Best Actor status would only drive him to make mediocre films, you'd appear to be wrong.  Sure, The Dark Knight, Inception, and The Prestige are blockbuster mindfucks, but some fanboys have criticized his films for lacking an emotional punch.  That might change with Interstellar.  McConaughey's Cooper has to leave his daughter behind, and she is devastated--especially because she has no idea when he will return to Earth.  The visuals look striking, to be sure, but maybe Interstellar is his most emotional film to date?  


Kevin Smith's Red State is a bonkers horror movie.  In case you are unfamiliar, three high school boys are lured into the boonies with a promise that they will have sex with a woman.  She drugs them, and they wake up in dog carriers in the middle of an insane church sermon led by a bigoted priest.  It's just nuts.  

Smith's second horror movie, Tusk, looks like it will appeal to a wider audience.  It looks equally weird, and it stars Justin Long and Michael Parks, the crazy priest from Red State.  Long plays a podcast personality named Wallace who goes missing when he pursues a possible story.  Parks plays Howard Howe, a wheelchair bound man who promises tall tales and stories worth Wallace's ear.  As the evening progresses, however, it appears that Mr. Howe has a thing for walruses...


Yeah, doesn't that look absolutely nuts?  It's definitely not in the same canon as other horror movies coming out this summer (no disrespect to The Babadook or Ouija intended).  Kevin Smith's body of work isn't something that a lot of people would think I'd enjoy, but I always like his characters.  Parks is a terrifying actor, so check out Red State if you want to see him play a Fred Phelps-like leader.  Bonus points?  Haley Joel Osment plays Long's podcasting cronie.  Yes, Haley Joel Osment.  


The life of the late Louis Zamperini is like something out of a Hollywood movie.  Adapted from the 2010 best-selling Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, young British actor Jack O'Connell takes on the daunting task of portraying Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's ambitious Unbroken.  

Zamperini (who died this past July at the age of 97) had such an eventful life that it seems Jolie could have filmed just part of his story for a lush film.  Not only did Zamperini compete in the 1936 Olympics, he survived a plane crash and spent over 40 days floating on a raft in the Pacific Ocean.  He then spent over 2 years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.  The content of the trailer is enough to make anyone emotional:


Entertainment Weekly reports that Jolie was able to show Zamperini a final cut of Unbroken before he died earlier this summer.  Jolie's only other directorial effort, In the Land of Blood and Honey, wasn't as widely seen--Unbroken looks as if it will appeal to a huge audience.  The screenplay was written by Joel and Ethan Coen, and her cinematographer is Roger Deakins.  There's a lot of great talent on the crew, and it looks like it will be quite the sweeping epic.  


From one World War II story to another.  From Angelina Jolie to Brad Pitt.  

Unlike Unbroken, David Ayer's Fury is a fictional story centered on five weary soldiers.  Pitt plays a U. S. Army sergeant named Wardaddy who must lead tiny band of men behind enemy lines in the last month of the second World War.  The title comes from the massive Sherman tank that the small band of brothers drive. 


War movies aren't really my thing, but the somber tank movie looks really good.  I love how dirty it looks--the colors seems to be completely drained out of it as if to signify how tired all the men are.  Of the cast (which includes Shia LaBeouf, Micheal Pena, and The Walking Dead's Jon Bernthal), I am most looking forward to seeing the performance by Logan Lerman.  I've always been a big fan of his, and his inexperienced, terrified soldier looks like a performance to watch. 


Gotta love a gaggle of gays banding together to help some strapping miners, am I right?!  If you were looking for an inspiring British film to come out this fall, you might find it in Pride.  There's always one British-y, inspirational story out every year, isn't there?  It definitely feels like it.  

In 1984, a Welsh mining town gained support from an unlikely group during the coal miner's strike against Margaret Thatcher (can Meryl Streep have a cameo?).  Dominic West leads a group of LGBT activists who raise money to help the families affected by the strike, but the miners are afraid to be associated with a gay group.  


The film was directed by Matthew Warchus, who was behind the critically-acclaimed adaptation of the Matilda musical on Broadway.  It stars a crop of well-respected Brits including Imelda Staunton (start the Oscar campaign NOW!), Bill Nighy, and Paddy Considine.  Pride debuted at the Director's Fortnight section of the Cannes Film Festival this year, and it was awarded the Queer Palm trophy.  

Who doesn't love an uplifting gay drama with lots of gay misconception jokes?  


To be honest, I just suggest that everyone watches the trailer for Dear White People.  Watching the trailer will convey the tone of it way better than reading anything I write about it.  

Directed by Justin Simien, White People centers on Sam White (played by Tessa Thompson), an outspoken radio DJ at a fictional Ivy League university who features a segment called "Dear White People."  The program features lines like, "Dear White People, please stop dancing" or "Dear White People Using Instagram, you have an iPhone and you go on hikes.  I get it."  


Things come to a head when a white fraternity throws an "African American-themed party" and Sam becomes the newly elected leader of a resident hall that has a longstanding tradition of housing black students.

Simien was awarded a Directors to Watch prize at the 2014 Palm Springs International Film Festival, and he was also given a special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent from this year's Sundance Film Festival.  Both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter have written positive reviews of Dear White People, and it currently holds a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.  


The story behind director Theodore Melfi landing Bill Murray for the lead role in his directorial debut sounds like it could be a movie all its own.  Murray is notoriously hard to pin down, and he doesn't have an agent or any sort of management.  Melfi spent months sending scripts to random PO boxes hoping that he would read his work.  In 2012, Murray randomly got in contact with Melfi and they discussed the film at Murray's home in California.  

Murray plays Vincent, a hard-drinking war veteran who only wants to be left alone.  Think Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets but without the agoraphobia and a lot more rough around the edges (Nicholson was actually interested in playing the role).  Melissa McCarthy plays a single mom who moves in next door, and her young son, Oliver, strikes up an unlikely friendship with Vincent when his mother can't find anyone else to watch him after school.  


Any time Murray takes on a new role, it's worthwhile.  It will also be very interesting to see McCarthy in the straight man role since we are so used to seeing her bouncing off of other actors.  The chemistry between Murray and newcomer Jaeden Lieberher looks great, and Naomi Watts co-stars as Vincent's Russian prostitute/stripper girlfriend.  Yeah.  Murray, McCarthy and Watts with a thick Russian accent.  What's not to look forward to?  


You're heard the phrase "raised by worlves," but how about "raised by boxes?"  

Anytime Laika, the studio behind Coraline and ParaNorman, puts out a movie, I am there.  Their stop-motion animation is always gorgeous, and the designs are to die for.  Based on the 2005 novel Here Be Monsters!, The Boxtrolls is about unconventional families.  When the first teaser trailer came out a few months ago, the narrator even commented that some families have just one mom or two dads or one mom and one dad.  

When an infant boy named Eggs is abandoned, he is taken in by the Boxtrolls, a goofy group of trolls that live underground.  As Eggs grows up, he has no idea that he's human.  


The Boxtrolls are targeted by an evil exterminator named Archibald Snatcher, and Eggs must persuade an heiress to help save his family.  The animated tale features the voice talent of Ben Kingsley, Elle Fanning, Simon Pegg, Toni Collette, Nick Frost, Isaac Hempstead-Wright as Eggs.  

According to Entertainment Weekly, over 200 puppets were built, and it takes almost 4 days to film one second of footage.  Now that is being patient.  


If biopics follow the normal formula, they can be kind of boring.  You watch famous people go through the motions, and it can be a bit predictable.  If The Theory of Everything, the love story of Jane and Stephen Hawking, follows the standard patter, hopefully it will at least be enhanced by its performances.  

Eddie Redmayne stars as physicist Hawking, and Theory shows us him meeting and falling in love with Jane Wilde, played by Felicity Jones at Cambridge in the 1960's.  While the film looks like it could be a standard cradle to grave biopic, the focus on the love story is what looks like draws the most emotion.  


I honestly get a bit choked up whenever I see this trailer.  Redmayne has been on the fringe of a breakout for some time, and a lot of audiences were exposed to his talent 2 years ago when he played Marius in Les Miserables.  His performance looks pretty staggering.  Jones is not an actress I generally like, but her dedication to her husband makes me excited to see her in Theory.  It doesn't look like a biopic--it appears to be a romantic drama that just happens to be about a famous man.  


Who knew a sports documentary would land so high on my list?!  No, it's not about football...or baseball...or soccer...or even figure skating...Mudbloods is a documentary about Quidditch.  Ahhhh.  There the lightbulbs go off as to why it's on my list.  If there was a sports doc on Movie MoJoe's list it's going to be about "the best sport there is."  

For all those haters out there, Quidditch is a rather legit thing at some college campuses across the country.  No, they don't fly, but they follow every other rule.  Footage of the sport makes it look pretty brutal.  It's not all magic and spells, people.  It resembles rugby the most, so while players are chasing the Quaffle, they are also taking a beating.  

Mudbloods, directed by Farzad Sangari, follows the UCLA Quidditch team as they compete for a spot in the Fifth Annual Quidditch World Cup in New York City.  We get a glimpse of the tight-knit family bond between all the players, and it appears that it's a true underdog story.  


Since it's a smaller film, it doesn't have the traditional theatrical release.  It will be available on iTunes on October 14th, but it will appear on some big screens as well.  It definitely looks like a doc that we should keep an eye out for.  


Miles Teller is definitely a young actor to watch.  He's appeared in The Spectacular Now, Divergent, 21 & Over, Rabbit Hole, Footloose, and That Awkward Moment.  And that's just in the last four years (he also appears in the movie hanging out in the 25th spot on this list!).  He might make his most dramatic impression in Damien Chazelle's Whiplash.  

Teller stars as Andrew, drummer who has been accepted to a top jazz orchestra conservatory.  What he doesn't bargain for, however, is how hard he will be pushed, and the man that strikes fear into him is Terence Fletcher, played by J.K. Simmons.  Fletcher is a tyrant, and he demands nothing but perfection.  


When I first saw this trailer, Simmons scared the crap out of me.  He's been in everything from Juno to Spider-Man to Burn After Reading, but his performance looks absolutely terrifying (I know he played a Neo-Nazi on Oz, but I never caught up with the prison drama).  It almost feels like he is berating Teller for being such a newbie in the business, and he's just trying to push him to his full potential.  

Teller performed in several garage bands, and he performed all of his own drumming.  That sounds silly, but smacking those sticks around with Simmons in your face seems more dangerous than jumping off any old skyscraper.  


In Nancy Tartaglione's Venice Film Festival write-up for Deadline features the most interesting quote for the upcoming Birdman: "Think Black Swan directed by Mel Brooks."  If that isn't the most inspired quote for any movie this fall, I don't know what it.  

Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman follows Michael Keaton's Riggen Thomson, a washed-up actor who played an iconic superhero named Birdman.  Set on making a comeback, Riggen adapts Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love for big Broadway premiere.  The pressures of directing and headlining the play himself ultimately gets to him, and he suffers a breakdown leading up to opening night. 

The cast is pretty impressive--one of the best of the season, I think.  Edward Norton plays a cocky actor who undermines Riggen's authority.  Emma Stone plays Riggen's just out-of-rehab daughter, and Zach Galifiankis, the play's producer.  It also stars Andrea Riseborough, Lindsay Duncan, Naomi Watts, and Amy Ryan.  


One of the most exciting things about Birdman is that it's rumored to look like one continuous shot.  Or, it's at least edited so seamlessly that it looks like one take.  The cinematography, by recent Oscar-winner Emmanuel Lubezki, looks gorgeous.  Ultimately, it looks like a huge career resurgence for Michael Keaton, and, let's face it, who doesn't want that?  


Ah, the dysfunctional sibling comedy.  For some inexplicable reason, The Skeleton Twins reminds me of The Savages, and I have no idea why.  The Savages, which starred Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney, was about two siblings to get together to help each other put their father in assistant care.  The Skeleton Twins seems much lighter even though it deals with reuniting siblings.  

Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader star as Maggie and Milo.  They haven't seen each other in ten years, but they meet back up after Milo tries to commit suicide.  They rekindle their sibling flame, and they discuss how their lives didn't go the way they planned.  Luke Wilson stars as Maggie's boyfriend, and Ty Burrell is a former flame of Milo's.  


Since Wiig and Hader worked so long together on Saturday Night Live, it actually feels like they are brother and sister.  They don't have to fake any chemistry.  That lip syncing scene looks pretty awesome, too.  


Do I really need to tell you why I am excited about Mockingjay?  Oh, I'm sorry.  The Hunger Games: Mockingjay--Part I.  Damn, I hate these titles.  You'd think in a dystopian future they'd come up with better titles to our young adult film adaptations.  

Jennifer Lawrence is back as Katniss Everdeen, and the uprising truly begins.  Mockingjay is arguably everyone's least favorite book in Suzanne Collin's trilogy, so director Francis Lawrence can only go up in my opinion.  Mockingjay reads like a war novel, and a lot of people are miffed over a certain death near the end.  Since the last book is being split into two separate movies, we won't see that death until the second half.  Don't worry, guys, there's lots of time before we get to that.  


Francis Lawrence confirmed that District 13 Alma Coin gets a much more expanded role in the adaptation.  If you're going to cast Julianne Moore, you better use Julianne Moore to your advantage by having her on screen as much as possible.  So far the trailers have been pretty stark and only one has shown us anything from the movie.  Three different poster sets have also been released just to tease us.  


After a breakup, those two people remember the relationship differently.  Even during a relationship (or marriage or courtship) people see everything from their own perspective, and that's the focus of Ned Benson's The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby.  

Starring Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy, Rigby focuses on a couple but Benson tells it from each of their points of view.  Chastain's Eleanor returns to college while McAvoy's Connor runs a restaurant.  Benson filmed three versions of Rigby, and the combined version (with the dubbed subtitle Them) version hits first.  It was originally shot as two different films (with the titles Him and Her, respectively), and those perspectives will hit in mid-October after Them comes out in September.  


Sasha Stone from AwardsDaily has already seen the film, and she has declared that it's one of the best romantic dramas she's ever seen.  Jessica Chastain can do absolutely no wrong in my eyes, so it's one my most anticipated performances of the season.  


The journey from stage to screen has been a long one for Into the Woods.  It kind of echoes the long process that Chicago went through before it hit theaters in 2002.  The original plans for Woods came in the early 90's, and a reading was held with Robin Williams as The Baker, Goldie Hawn as The Baker's Wife, and Cher as The Witch.  In 1991, Jim Henson Productions was also looking at adapting the Stephen Sonheim fairy tale musical, and, to be honest, I would have watched the hell out of that adaptation.  Funnily enough, the man behind Into the Woods is Rob Marshall, and he also directed Chicago.  I guess Marshall is the guy you go to when you definitely want your musical to become a movie.  

Woods takes all those fairy tales you grew up with (Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red, Jack and the Beanstalk) and turns them on their heads by questioning what happens after ever after.  Anytime I've seen Woods on stage, a lot of newbies think the musical is a one act, because everything seems sewn up by the end of the first half.  Some of the most interesting themes come after the start of the second act, and it's only enhanced by Sondheim's whimsical, brilliant score.  


A lot of theater fans were miffed when rumors surfaced that a lot of the adult themes were toned down or eliminated (including the affair between The Baker's Wife and The Wolf's sexuality), but Marshall has assured that it's all in there.  The design of the film looks absolutely gorgeous--everything from the lighting to the set design looks gnarled and leafy.  

Perhaps I am just really biased towards Woods, because I got to be in it about five years ago.  It's got some Oscar heat, and I'm afraid everyone is going to rip it apart.  But, hey.  It can't be worse than Nine, right?  


The trailers for Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher remain rather mysterious, but something feels very ominous about it all.  The teaser trailers that have been released may be short, but the tension builds in them.  You can almost feel your pulse quickening while you watch.  

The film revolves around three men, but the primary focus is Steve Carell as John du Pont.  Just looking at pictures of him (with his prosthetic nose and disquieting stare) is enough to make you uncomfortable.  John du Pont turned his horse ranch into a training quarters for Olympic wrestlers, and he trained brothers Dave and Mark Schultz, played by Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum, respectively.  Carell's du Pont is responsible for murdering Dave Schultz in 1996, and there is a chilling moment in the teaser where he calmly walks into the training facility with a gun.  




Miller teamed back up with his Capote screenwriter Dan Futterman, and the film earned raves at the Cannes Film Festival this year.  All three actors have been singled out for their performances, but Carell seems to be gaining the most attention for his dramatic turn.  It could be a major Oscar player at the end of the year.  


You can't go home again.  Well, I guess sometimes you have to, and then you have to deal with the family you don't really like associating with.  This Is Where I Leave You deals with a family that reunite after the death of the patriarch.  

Based on the wonderful book by Jonathan Tropper, This Is stars Jason Bateman as Judd Altman, a radio producer who gets hit with a double whammy.  He walks in on his wife cheating with his boss, and then his sister calls to tell him that his father has passed.  Judd returns home, and discovers that his father's final request is for his family to sit Shiva.  As he tries to navigate his personal demons, he reconnects with his siblings and his mother.  His star-studded family includes Jane Fonda as his mother, Tina Fey as his sister, and Corey Stoll and Adam Driver play Bateman's brothers.  


Tropper's book is a beautifully written tale of sons and distant dads, but the film looks lighter.  Normally, I am overly concerned with how a novel is adapted, but the film looks like it packs the funny/dramatic punch.  Tropper also adapted his own work, so it's hard to quibble when an author makes his or her own cuts.  It may seem like a very light entry for such a high spot on the list, but I am such a fan of Tropper's writing that it deserves this slot.  


No one is surprised by this, right?

David Fincher's Gone Girl is far and away my most anticipated film of the year--no matter what the season.  For those five people that live under a rock, Gone Girl is based on Gillian Flynn's runaway bestseller about Nick and Amy Dunne.  On their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick discovers his living room in shambles, and Amy is nowhere to be found.  Is she dead or simply just gone?    

I think I am most excited about Fincher's film, because I was so enamored with Flynn's novel.  Reading it with a few of my friends (in a makeshift book club) definitely was an experience, but Flynn is a fantastic writer.  Her novel really lures you in, and you can smell the wretchedness in the pages.  Personally, it was a great read, and I love the ending.  Suck it haters.  

As far as the film is concerned, no one is more perfect than David Fincher.  The tone looks perfect, and the atmosphere is foreboding.  When I read the novel, I imagined Jon Hamm as the publicity-challenged Nick, but he is probably too old for the role.  Ben Affleck is perfect.  Remember the launching of Bennifer?  People didn't really enjoying seeing his mug everywhere, but he has risen from the ashes and is now an adored (and Oscar-winning) celebrity again.  The casting of Rosamund Pike is pretty awesome, because no one really knows who she is.  Other actresses (Natalie Portman, Rachel McAdams, Abbie Cornish and Charlize Theron) were considered for "Amazing" Amy, but Pike landed the role.  


Gone Girl is not only a portrait of a marriage or a crime, but it is sort of an indictment to the predisposed conceptions that we have about relationships.  It looks ferocious and perfectly cast.  

I mean, come on.  You know you want to see it.  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Random Poll: Which AHS Promo 'Freak's You Out?


Even though the fourth season of FX's American Horror Story doesn't premiere until October 8th, there are a lot of short teases coming out.  Yesterday, the period promo art (above) gave us a glimpse of the ensemble with regular Jessica Lange front and center.  Sarah Paulson's conjoined twins hangs above the fray.  

But what of all those teases?  Which gets you most excited?  Do any of them freak you out?  Take a look at all the short promos and vote which you think is the most effective.  


I know, I know.  This isn't an official promo (it was confirmed a fake the day after it was posted online), but the aesthetic was enough to trick fans and get the anticipation going.  If Ryan Murphy ever needs someone to help create spots, he should seek these people out.  


This official tease came with an admit one ticket.  


You want something sugary and sweet?  Then this teaser isn't for you.  


This one might be my favorite.  A three-legged trapeze act makes impressions of a swastika.  Lange's character is German, so it's not a bad assumption, right?  


This caged teaser debuted just hours ago.  I've never heard of a freak show act being held in a cage, so I apparently need to go to more freak shows...






Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ellar Coltrane Turns 20


Boyhood is the best reviewed film of 2014 so far.  The notices for it are quite staggering, and at the center of it all is Ellar Coltrane.  We literally see him grow up before our eyes on screen, and today he will be celebrating his 20th birthday!  

I don't think he has lined up his next project--perhaps he will step back from acting for a bit since he filmed Boyhood over a 12 year span?  Coltrane was interviewed by his Boyhood co-star (and father) Ethan Hawke in mid-July for Entertainment Weekly, and it's a great, short read.  

After the huge critical success of Boyhood, Coltrane's next move will surely get attention.  For now, though, I hope he enjoys his 20th birthday!  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Five Almost Anticipated Fall Movies


The 25 most anticipated movies of the fall list is hitting Movie MoJoe on Friday (fingers crossed), but there are always some movies that almost make the list.  In honor of the list dropping at the end of the week, I thought I'd compile a short list of the five movies that just missed getting a shout out.  


Disney had two huge hits with Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph, so their next project might also hit big.  Big Hero 6 is based on a little-known Marvel comic series, but the trailers make it look like a cuddly buddy comedy.  Honestly, if I hadn't read anything up on Hero, I wouldn't have known it had any Marvel roots.  

I could probably watch that inflated, Stay Puft-looking character for hours on end.  This lumpy guy is known as Baymax, and he's a bodyguard robot.  A young robots whiz named Hiro comes up with the plan to turn this gentle, nursing droid into a fighting machine when a Kabuki mask wearing supervillain tries to destroy the fictional city known as San Fransokyo.  


Remember Frank Hornberger from 30 Rock?  He provides the voice of Baymax, and Maya Rudolph, James Cromwell, and Damon Wayans Jr. lend their voices to other characters.  It's the first animated feature of a Marvel character since Disney acquired the studio.  


Newly minted Emmy-winner Benedict Cumberbatch plays another real-life figure after The Fifth Estate crashed and burned last year.  He plays Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, a race against time to break the Nazi Enigma Code.  When I first saw the trailer it reminded me of Enigma from 2001--that thriller starred Dougray Scott and Kate Winslet.  Cumberbatch stars alongside Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode.

Not only does it focus on the small group code-breakers during World War II.  It delves into Turing's past as a marathon runner, and Cumberbatch was able to replicate Turing's stutter.  Imitation also touches on Turing's conviction for being gay.  


Imitation's screenplay landed the top spot on The Black List (an annual survey about the top unproduced screenplays) in 2011, and it was acquired by The Weinstein Company for $7 million.  Expect Harvey Weinstein to push this hard for Oscar season.  Perhaps Imitation will be a historical drama with real emotional heft?  


Who isn't freaked out by a Ouija board?  A group teens are tormented by an evil spirit when they try to contact a recently deceased friend in...wait for it...Ouija!  To be fair, this looks like a standard ghost flick, but it looks like it could be a good time.  Loud musical chords cues and a young cast just looking for their big break   


The only person I recognize from this trailer is Olivia Cooke, who charms me every week on A&E's Bates Motel as Norman Bates' sweet friend, Emma.  She's no stranger to being surrounded by creepy, scary stuff, so maybe there's a scream queen in the making?  


Did you see Belle?  It was a costume drama about a mixed race daughter of a Navy Admiral in 18th-century England?  British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw played the title character in that sumptuous melodrama, and she headlines Beyond the Lights, a romantic drama about an up-and-coming singer struggling to balance her professional and personal life.  

I've only seen Mbatha-Raw (Quvenzhane, who?) in Belle, but she commands the screen in it.  Her beautiful face is at the focus of a lot of the shots in that film, but Beyond is a completely different animal.  She reminds me a lot of Kerry Washington, because both of those actresses keep the emotion right under their skin on their faces.  You can almost see it quivering underneath.  It will be interesting to see her go from Dido Elizabeth Belle to Noni Jean.  Mbatha-Raw does all of her own singing, and she spent some time backstage at the Grammy's in 2012 to get a feel of what it's like to be a burgeoning singer at the cusp of success.  


Maybe it will just be a soapy drama, but it definitely gets points for two other actors: Minnie Driver and Nate Parker.  Driver recorded some tracks for the Phantom of the Opera film, and Nate Parker is just sexy as hell.  I would watch him do anything, and I've been a big fan of his since Arbitrage.  


Tim Burton mainly focuses on male characters.  The only big characters in Tim Burton films I can think of are Mrs. Lovett (Sweeney Todd), The Corpse Bride (from...The Corpse Bride), Catwoman (Batman Returns), and (shudder) Alice (from Wonderland fame).  His fantastical aesthetic also doesn't lend itself to biopics very often--Ed Wood was the last one he directed--so Big Eyes is a bit of a departure for Burton.  

Amy Adams plays Margaret Keane, a painter in the 1950's whose work featured young children with these big, Burton-friendly eyes.  Her husband, Walter (played by Christoph Waltz), took credit for the works of art, and he used his charisma to sell them to hardware stores and gas stations.  Big Eyes focuses on Margaret standing up to Walter and taking credit for the art that is rightfully hers.  Burton's film chronicles their marriage and their dramatic courtroom divorce proceedings.  

I'm dying for a trailer for this...