Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The New 'Raid 2: Berandal' Trailer Features 98% Less Wall-Punching (VIDEO)

The Raid 2: Berandal trailer

Gareth Evans's "The Raid: Redemption" stunned snowbound Sundancers last year with its nonstop martial arts insanity. Thankfully, "The Raid 2: Berandal" is already headed to our shores, with a Sundance premiere in the upcoming weeks and a March 28 release date.

This full-length trailer has approximately 98% less wall-punching than the shorter trailer we saw in November, but that's not to say it's any less crazy violent. However, we do get a tad more info on the plot, which once again centers on Rama (Iko Uwais), the policeman who had to fight off an entire building of baddies in the first flick. This time, Rama's headed undercover to help the cops deal with the two biggest crime families in Jakarta. His first stop? The slammer.

Speaking of slamming, "The Raid 2" promises plenty of it. Judging by the trailer, it looks like setting the action in an entire city has given Evans a much bigger and more explosive sandbox to play in.

Evans took to Twitter last night while experiencing some technical difficulties. He assured fans that all the exposition in the trailer is just from the first act and isn't revealing anything too spoilery. He also wrote, "Naturally, there's a ton of stuff we have kept hidden from the trailer. About 4/5 action scenes don't feature at all," adding, "Also wanted to put less emphasis on the brutality - this is the closest I could get to a green band version."

Buckle up and get ready to "Raid."

from The Moviefone Blog http://news.moviefone.com/2013/12/31/raid-2-berandal-trailer/


Watching 'The Lion King' Without Animals Is Like Having Your Childhood Erased (VIDEO)

lion king without animals

"The Circle of Life" has taken a dark turn, you guys. All this ad from Greenpeace Netherlands needs is some Sarah McLachlan and sad-eyed puppies to bring on the waterworks. What better way to illustrate the dangers of not protecting the environment than slowly erasing all the adorable animals from Disney's "The Lion King"?

Appropriately enough, this video by Studio Smack is called "Hacking Disney," and not even Simba is safe from these pixel-manipulating monsters. The only thing we can do to stop them from tugging at our hearts any more is to donate to Greenpeace, obviously.

If Studio Smack did indeed "hack Disney" with this video, it will be interesting to see if the studio responds. Then again, taking on Greenpeace would make the company look about as cuddly as P.L. Travers on a bad day. [Via Gizmodo]

from The Moviefone Blog http://news.moviefone.com/2013/12/31/lion-king-without-animals-video/


Kevin Smith's Next Movie, 'Helena Handbag,' Will Feature a 'Rapturing Giant Jesus'

kevin smith next movie

If you thought Kevin Smith's Twitter followers were hell in a handbag, wait until you hear about his next project.

We're not talking about "Tusk," either, and that's a horror movie starring Justin Long as a guy who's forced to wear a walrus suit. (Smith is hoping to get "Tusk" into Cannes; it's already slotted to come out this fall thanks to A24, the studio behind "Spring Breakers" and "The Bling Ring.")

Turns out Smith's already cracked out a new script called "Helena Handbag" that's about "mankind teaming up with Hell to save existence from extinction at the hands of a Rapturing giant Jesus," according to Smith's official Facebook page. Like "Tusk," it's based on an episode of the SModcast, his podcast where he and Scott Mosier riff on all things, uh, SModdy?

Of course, this is all a ways away. Smith is hoping to start production on "Clerks III" in May, but that's gotten pushed back before, as has his hockey flick "Hit Somebody." Relatively speaking, it seems that "Tusk" came together with a quickness, so there's really no telling what Smith has up his hockey jersey sleeve. For the time being, we'll be keeping a close eye on the Cannes line-up and Smith's whiskery flick.

[via Vulture]

from The Moviefone Blog http://news.moviefone.com/2013/12/31/kevin-smith-next-movie-helena-handbag/


Leonardo DiCaprio Addresses 'Wolf of Wall Street' Backlash

leonardo dicaprio wolf of wall street backlash

To say people are divided about Martin Scorsese's newest movie, "The Wolf of Wall Street," would be an understatement. The movie about debauched Wall Street swindler Jordan Belfort and his cronies has viewers and critics practically coming to blows over whether or not the movie glorified Belfort et al or if it was meant as satire. For instance, this account of Wall Streeters at an advanced screening for "Wolf" is pretty damning. On the other hand, there are plenty of rational, intelligent adults who see the movie as a not-so-subtle indictment of the behavior it illustrates.

Over at Deadline.com, star and producer Leonardo DiCaprio weighed in on the controversy. DiCaprio responded that he, Scorsese, and screenwriter Terence Winter "very consciously wanted this to be an analysis of the temptation and intoxication of the world of money and indulgence and hedonism."

Comparing it to the sort of drug use and abuse that Belfort and his pals take part in, DiCaprio added, "To me, if you're an audience member, you want to be completely submerged in the actual film. We wanted it to be from these peoples' perspective, an understanding of the very nature of who these people are, and why this can be so intoxicating and so exciting for them."

DiCaprio was emphatic that "Wolf" isn't supposed to make Belfort's shenanigans look cool or admirable, though. "By no means is this film a glorification or some sort of promotion of this lifestyle and those who say it is are missing the point entirely. These people are what they are and we didn't want to give them any false sense of sympathy," he told Deadline.

Belfort has said that he won't be receiving any money from the movie. However, he is shopping around a reality TV show where he plays a sort of life coach for those "who, like him, have hit rock bottom but still hold out some hope for redemption." However you feel about "Wolf," perhaps we can all agree that's some must-miss TV.

from The Moviefone Blog http://news.moviefone.com/2013/12/31/leonardo-dicaprio-wolf-of-wall-street-backlash/


'Frozen' Song 'Do You Want a Build a Snowman?' Made Even More Sob-Inducing by Fans (VIDEO)

frozen snowman song

Look, let's face the facts. If you didn't enjoy "Frozen," you might be a monster. Sorry, but it's the truth.

That said, "Frozen" isn't perfect. (Let's not even talk about that troll song interlude, okay?) There's always room for improvement, and one thing we could have used was way more Idina Menzel. And a heartbreaking reprise! Yes, because we weren't already sniffling away in the theater before.

The best song in "Frozen" is "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" No question. Anna (Kristen Bell) can't figure out why her cool big sister Elsa (Menzel) has stopped playing with her when they used to do everything together and have so much fun making snowmen. After their parents kick the bucket, Anna tries to convince her sister to come out and play, to no avail.

An exceptionally clever person who goes by the handle phananigans over at Musical Catbug wrote a reprise of "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" that works perfectly in the scene when Elsa discovers that Anna has been frozen. Another Tumblr user who goes by the name Scarlet-Glow actually recorded the lyrics over a clip from the movie.

Yes! Yes, Elsa wants to build a snowman! She's so very sorry she never built a snowman with you, Anna. But it looks like it's too late... Or is it?

from The Moviefone Blog http://news.moviefone.com/2013/12/31/frozen-song-do-you-want-a-build-a-snowman-fan-version/


Monday, December 30, 2013

Jordan Belfort Shopping Reality Show, Won't Make a Dime Off of Scorsese's 'Wolf of Wall Street'

jordan belfort wolf of wall street

Jordan Belfort has already been immortalized on the big screen thanks to Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street," but now the former investment banker/scammer wants to put his current life on display. He also plans on turning over his cut of the "Wolf" movie profits to the victims of his scams.

The Hollywood Reporter writes that Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie, is shopping a reality TV show that would have the now 51-year-old head an "uplifting show" where he "step[s] in to help others who, like him, have hit rock bottom but still hold out some hope for redemption."

Belfort's story of Wall Street excess -- and ultimate downfall after cheating his clients -- told in his 2007 memoir caught the attention of Electus, the studio behind reality series including "Fashion Star" and "Mob Wives," which reached out to him to develop a concept for a show. Electus CEO Chris Grant told THR that several pitch meetings have already taken place, with one network describing Belfort as "TV gold."

Should it get picked up, the show would no doubt help supplement the still-large lifestyle of Belfort, who currently enjoys luxuries like a mini-mansion in Manhattan Beach, California, and a Mercedes, according to a profile in New York magazine. But Belfort claims that that luxury is all on the up-and-up -- he has a successful second career as a motivational speaker, commanding fees in the five figures -- and he won't accept a dime of the profits from his book or Scorsese's film. He wrote in a recent Facebook post that he's turning over 100 percent of the proceeds from that media to the government to help repay victims of his financial scams.

"This should amount to countless millions of dollars and hopefully be more than enough to pay back anyone who is still out there," Belfort wrote. " ... I am not making any royalties off the film or the books, and I am totally content with that. My income comes from new life, which is far better than my old one."

[via The Hollywood Reporter, h/t Vanity Fair]

from The Moviefone Blog http://news.moviefone.com/2013/12/30/jordan-belfort-reality-show/


Diehard 'Hobbit' Fan Undergoes Elf Ear Surgery, Posts Procedure to YouTube (VIDEO)

melynda moon elf ears

Have you ever looked at an actor or actress in a movie and thought, "I wish I could look like them"? Well, one model -- and diehard "Hobbit" fan" -- took her appreciation one step further recently when she underwent plastic surgery to have her ears shaped into points to resemble elf ears like those sported by characters in Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings" films.

Model Melynda Moon (who also loves "The Legend of Zelda," fairies, and pixies) explained in a YouTube video (below) that her decision to undergo ear pointing -- explained by Movies.com as "a surgical procedure that involves removing a small, triangular portion from the top of your ear and then suturing the rest together" -- was in the works for several years. Moon acknowledged that many people may find her choice "completely strange," but said "it's my life."

"The elegance of the elf ear is something I adore a lot," she said in a YouTube video.

The model also encouraged those interested in the procedure to do their research about it, and find someone they trust to work with. While her ears were tender for quite some time after the surgery, Moon said the worst part of the experience was the itchy stitches.

So if you want to be the real-life Legolas or Arwen, know that anything is possible with some plastic surgery.

[via Movies.com]

from The Moviefone Blog http://news.moviefone.com/2013/12/30/hobbit-fan-surgery-elf-ears-video/


'Seinfeld' Diner Immortalized (Again) in 'Tom's Restaurant: A Documentary About Everything' (VIDEO)

Fans gather outside Tom's Restaurant 14 May in New

It's most famous as the subject of Suzanne Vega's song "Tom's Diner" and as the exterior of the restaurant on "Seinfeld," but the history of New York City's Tom's Restaurant goes back much further than that. The eatery's storied past and continuing importance as a part of pop culture and a neighborhood staple is told in a new film, "Tom's Restaurant: A Documentary About Nothing Everything."

The trailer -- which is a mini documentary itself, clocking in at more than five minutes -- gives a brief synopsis of the restaurant's past and present. It was opened by a Greek family in the 1940s and is still owned by the same clan today.

In addition to serving as the exterior of Jerry, Elaine, Kramer, and George's favorite hangout spot on "Seinfeld" in the '90s (the interior scenes were shot on a soundstage), it also welcomed a slew of famous guests over the years, including regulars like guitarist Bob Rose (who worked on films including "Grease" and "Footloose") and professor and philosopher Dr. Cornel West.

"It's a beautiful place to be," West says of the restaurant in the trailer. "You just see the flow ... of humanity come through Tom's."

For more about the film, check out the trailer and the documentary's website.

from The Moviefone Blog http://news.moviefone.com/2013/12/30/seinfeld-diner-documentary/


Let's Put a Stop to Those 'X-Men' and 'Fantastic Four' Crossover Rumors

x-men fantastic four crossover

A rumored crossover between the Fantastic Four and the X-Men probably isn't happening, according to a handful of reports that have surfaced recently.

Last week, financial site The Motley Fool claimed that studio Fox, which owns the rights to Marvel's Fantastic Four and X-Men characters, was planning a crossover similar to what Disney was doing with its Marvel properties, building a universe where its heroes could interact with one another through multiple interconnected films. The plot was said to be based on a 1980s comic plotline called "Fantastic Four vs. the X-Men" that pitted the heroes against each other and exposed a sinister origin of the Four.

But The Motley Fool ultimately retracted its story, saying that no such film was currently in development. And as The Playlist points out, comic creator and Fox producer Mark Millar already said in August, "There is NO crossover planned." So there's that.

It seems fans of Marvel's multiple Anvengers-style crossovers aren't going to get any such films from Fox's Marvel properties anytime soon. Still, the X-Men and Fantastic Four are all hitting the big screen -- some multiple times -- over the next few years. Here's hoping those appearances can appease comic aficionados for now.

[via The Playlist]

from The Moviefone Blog http://news.moviefone.com/2013/12/30/x-men-fantastic-four-crossover/


Best Canadian Movies of 2013

sarah polley, stories we tell

Year after year, Canadian film just keeps getting better.

While Canadians still bemoan the state of our movie industry -- as well as our rock-bottom budgets -- it's easy to see that Canadian movie actors, directors and producers are really upping the ante. Big-name directors like Atom Egoyan and Don McKellar are delivering shiny new products, and gone are the hackneyed tropes that used to dominate Canadian film. (You know what I mean: snow, ice, despair...)

With that in mind, here are some of the best movies that Canada had to offer in 2013. We're talking homegrown talent, folks! Let's support them as best we can!

from The Moviefone Blog http://news.moviefone.com/2013/12/30/best-canadian-movies-2013/


Christian Bale as Moses in 'Exodus': First Look (PHOTO)

christian bale moses exodus

Empire has our first look at Ridley Scott's "Exodus," and judging by the impressive construction going on behind Christian Bale's Moses, this Biblical tale should be epic indeed.

The film follows the story of Moses, abandoned as a baby and adopted by Egyptian royalty, only to hear the voice of God as he grows older and ultimately lead the Israelite slaves into the promised land. In this image, Moses witnesses the suffering of his people at the hands of the Pharaoh.

Along with Bale, "Exodus" stars Joel Edgerton as Pharaoh Ramses, John Turturro as Ramses's father Seti, Sigourney Weaver as Ramses's mother Tuya, Aaron Paul as Hebrew slave Joshua, and Ben Kingsley. Empire reports that the film is looking to echo the massive scale of the classic sword and sandals epics of the 1960s, and has apparently cast thousands of extras.

christian bale moses exodus

"Exodus" is expected in theaters December 12, 2014.

[via Empire, h/t ScreenCrush]

from The Moviefone Blog http://news.moviefone.com/2013/12/30/christian-bale-moses-exodus-photo/


Four New 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' Photos Revealed

robert redford samuel l jackson captain america the winter soldier

There are a whole host of superhero movies set to invade movie screens in 2014, but one of our most anticipated has got to be "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," the follow-up to 2011's "Captain America: The First Avenger" and, if what we're hearing is correct, a pseudo-sequel to 2012's blockbuster team-up movie "The Avengers."

The sequel finds Captain America (Chris Evans) dealing with the bureaucracy surrounding super spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D. and facing a foe from his frosty past (Sebastian Stan as the Winter Soldier). Well, today we've got four brand new images from the film (courtesy of Empire) that make us even more jazzed.

The four images feature more or less what you'd expect -- Cap looking stoic and handsome, a still featuring Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury seemingly facing off against his S.H.I.E.L.D. superior Alexander Pierce (played by Robert Redford!), an action shot of Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow running (and not just through our dreams), and the Winter Soldier menacingly clutching Cap's signature shield.

Supposedly, the tone of this film is much more in line with conspiracy thrillers from the '70s than your average everyday superhero film (hence Redford's casting) and based on the footage we've seen, this one is going to be some huge-scale fun.

"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" comes out on April 4, 2014. Does this mean summer official starts right after spring break is over?

[via Empire]

from The Moviefone Blog http://news.moviefone.com/2013/12/30/new-captain-america-the-winter-soldier-photos/


Box Office: 8 Important Lessons We Learned From the Five-Way Christmas Melee

box office christmas movies

At your house, Christmas may be a time of peace on Earth and good will toward men, but at the multiplex, this Christmas was the site of a bruising brawl, with five new, wide-release movies taking on the established holdovers. In the end, the holdovers won, with half of all receipts going to four movies that had been in theaters at least two weeks.

Still, every beating is a character-building experience (at least in the movies), and this one comes with some hard-learned lessons too. Here are some of them:

1. Five New Wide Releases on a Holiday Weekend Is Too Many

Even in April and August, it's probably too many, but it's especially true at Christmastime, when family, weather, buying gifts, and returning gifts are all additional competitors for the attention of potential moviegoers. This weekend's new releases very likely canceled each other out, leaving "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" to top the chart for a third straight week, with six-week-old "Frozen" not far behind. As a result, no new film debuted higher than fifth place, and two didn't even crack the top 10.

2. At Christmastime, It Helps to Be Kid-Friendly

One reason "Hobbit" and "Frozen" packed 'em in (to the tune of about $30 million each) is that you could take the whole family. The raunchy antics of "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" and "American Hustle" (this week's No. 3 and No. 4)? Not so much. Nor for the middle-aged male fantasies of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" or the violent slugfests of "Grudge Match" and "47 Ronin." And certainly not the three-hour orgy of call girls and cocaine that is "The Wolf of Wall Street."

3. Poor Word-of-Mouth Needn't Sink a Film

Critics may have loved Martin Scorsese's "Wolf," but audiences gave it only a C at CinemaScore. Maybe they didn't find the movie Christmas-y enough, or maybe its length and excess wore them out, or maybe, having seen Leonardo DiCaprio as a hard-partying Long Island crook in "The Great Gatsby," they felt they'd already seen "Wolf" just a few months ago. And yet, "Wolf" did better than any of this weekend's other new wide releases, earning an estimated $18.5 million from Friday to Sunday and $34.3 million in the five days since its release on Christmas Day.

4. The Pundits Can't Be Trusted

OK, they predicted a three-peat for "The Hobbit," and they guessed correctly that "Walter Mitty" would earn about $13 million, but they overestimated the take on the other four new releases, sometimes by a factor of two or three. Then again, they're only following the tracks laid down by the studio analysts, the ones who thought they could all make money by releasing five competing movies this weekend.

5. Do People Really Want to Watch Two Old Guys Fight?

Probably not, even if they're the guys who starred in "Rocky" and "Raging Bull" more than three decades ago. It's not much of a surprise that the prospect of watching 67-year-old Sylvester Stallone take on 70-year-old Robert De Niro, even in a comedy, didn't appeal to many. ("Grudge Match" opened at No. 11, grossing an estimated $7.3 million from Friday to Sunday and $13.4 million for the five-day holiday weekend.) The only surprise is that there were box office trackers who expected it to do twice as well.

6. Every Once In a While, Hollywood Delivers a Really Impressive Flop

Or: Not Every Martial-Arts-Flavored Action Spectacle Keanu Reeves Stars In Is the Next "Matrix." That includes this fantasy adventure (based on a true story that has become part of Japanese folklore), on which Universal reportedly spent between $175 and $200 million. With this weekend's opening (No. 9, with an estimated $9.9 million for the weekend and $20.6 million since its Wednesday debut), the movie stands likely to become an financial sinkhole the likes of which we haven't seen since this summer's "The Lone Ranger."

Hollywood is often accused of making nothing but formulaic blockbuster-hopefuls that are produced and marketed according to strict formulas that remove all risk (and originality) from the process, but sometimes, they do take a risk ("47 Ronin" is, after all, an original screenplay, not based on a comic book, a novel, a TV show, or a story familiar to Western audiences), and the whole thing goes off the rails. This is one of those rare moments, so cherish it.

7. Justin Bieber Is Not the All-Conquering Pop Culture Force He Was Eight Months Ago

Or a year ago, or whatever short-term unit of measure you want to use. His new concert film "Believe" opened way down at No. 14, with just an estimated $2.0 million since Friday, and $4.3 million since Wednesday. Maybe his bizarre behavior in recent months has reduced his fanbase, or maybe the rumored announcement of his retirement at age 19 had the remaining fans too depressed to buy tickets. Either way, the new movie and its poor showing aren't likely to generate too many new "Beliebers."

8. A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

As much as these new wide-releases underperformed, this was still the eighth-best weekend of 2013 at North American theaters, one that saw almost $200 million in ticket sales. And while half that money went to "Hobbit," "Frozen," "Anchorman," and "American Hustle," much of the rest went to Oscar-hopeful movies that have finally expanded beyond the art-house and penetrated the multiplex.

"Hustle" is one of those, and it saw a boost in business over last weekend. So did such awards-seeking fare as "Saving Mr. Banks," "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," "Philomena," "Inside Llewyn Davis," "Nebraska," "Her," "12 Years a Slave," "The Great Beauty," and "All Is Lost." Maybe viewers jumped at the chance to see these movies after weeks and months of awards hype, or maybe they just stumbled upon them after heading to the multiplex to see "Hobbit" or "Hustle." Either way, Tinseltown seemed to have enough tinsel this Christmas for everyone -- well, everyone who wasn't chasing a huge box office windfall.

from The Moviefone Blog http://news.moviefone.com/2013/12/30/box-office-christmas/


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Weekend Box Office: 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' No. 1 for Third Week

weekend box office

LOS ANGELES (AP) - "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" continued to top the box office, landing at No. 1 over the Christmas holiday for the third weekend in a row.

The Warner Bros. prequel earned $30 million, bringing its domestic gross to $190.3 million, according to studio estimates on Sunday.

"Frozen," Disney's animated adventure, took the No. 2 position, bringing in $28.9 million over the weekend and $248.4 million since opening in late November.

Paramount comedies managed to hold two slots in the top five. "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" came in at No. 3 with $20.2 million, and "The Wolf of Wall Street" snagged the No. 5 spot, earning $19 million after opening at No. 2 on Christmas Day.

At No. 4, Sony's "American Hustle" earned $19.6 million.

from The Moviefone Blog http://news.moviefone.com/2013/12/29/weekend-box-office-the-hobbit-the-desolation-of-smaug/


Friday, December 27, 2013

'The Best Offer' Trailer: Geoffrey Rush Falls for a Woman Hiding in a Wall (VIDEO)

the best offer trailer

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and in "The Best Offer," Geoffrey Rush's art dealer is a very seasoned beholder. But he finds himself falling for a woman -- without ever seeing her face.

The trailer for the movie presents it as an tale of intrigue, passion, and mystery. Virgil Oldman is a respected auction house manager who secretly collects portraits of women. Then, he's asked to appraise the antiques owned by a young woman (Sylvia Hoeks) who only interacts with him via a hole in the wall. Fascinated, Virgil sets out to see the woman's face, and discover if she's as alluring as she sounds.

"The Best Offer" also stars Jim Sturgess and Donald Sutherland, and debuts on demand January 1.

from The Moviefone Blog http://news.moviefone.com/2013/12/27/the-best-offer-trailer-geoffrey-rush/


Oscar Isaac on 'Inside Llewyn Davis,' Working With the Coen Brothers, and Making Music

Golden Globes Nominations

The latest film by the Coen Brothers, "Inside Llewyn Davis," is a funny little flick. During their press tours for the film, the always-sardonic filmmakers have joked that the story is plotless, which is why they shoehorned a cat into the movie -- to keep the audience happy.

Of course, this is another of their trademark defections from the depths of their own art; naturally, there's a lot going on in this film, a deceptively simple tale of a hapless folksinger making his way during the early 1960s. The Greenwich Village setting, austere palate and wonderful and rich soundtrack hearken back to the kind of neighbourhood depicted on the cover of Bob Dylan's "Freewheelin'" album. The character of Llewyn is based in part on a number of yeoman folkies, including the likes of Dave Van Ronk, the so-called Mayor of MacDougal Street.

Even more than any historical figure, it's the film's star Oscar Isaac that really brings the character to life, bringing both a sensitivity of performance and a deep musical understanding to the role. The casting is impeccable, and from the opening shots of the film where we hear him singing to a smoke-filled room, we're absolutely transfixed in this man's journey. Moviefone Canada spoke to Isaac soon after his Golden Globe nomination was announced, and delved into just what it's like to be playing such a major part within the Coen's world.

Moviefone Canada: For such a unique role I assume the casting process was reasonably taxing.

Oscar Isaac: The casting process was pretty traditional. Ellen Chenoweth, the casting director, had a couple scenes and I did those. I had to record a song, and I did about 30 takes of the song. I sent in take 27.

Once cast, how much involvement you had in the way that the songs were performed on screen, the selection of songs?

There were about two or three songs that were already specified in the script, but there were many that weren't. I quickly fell in love with Dave Van Ronk's music in particular, so I started learning a lot of his music. [Famed music supervisor] T-Bone [Burnett] and I got together and started playing music together. Sometimes I would go and just make an arrangement myself and bring it to T-Bone and he would change a few things, so it was a very collaborative process. The way the Coens work with T-Bone ... they create a community. To be honest, people can't really remember who came up with what. If you ask the Coens "who wrote this line?" they won't remember. As soon as you give your idea you don't own it anymore. It's all the raw materials to build this thing, and I had an equal share in it.

How much research did the Coens encourage you to do to prepare for the role?

Nothing was dictated to me. It would just be a conversation. Basically, we would go over the entire script and we would talk about each scene, but that really was coming from me, saying, "Hey, can we do this?," and they, of course, were happy to do it.

What are the unique challenges of bringing a real era to life while still creating your own character to portray?

You're trying to make an actual human being, so you take from everything. I have a feeling originality is just a lack of information, so you just steal from wherever you can -- a little bit of this, a little bit of that. I've got a buddy of mine, lives on MacDougal Street, [and he's] in his late 60s. He's been doing it forever, and struggling, so I used a lot of his story. Then you go to random places, places where you wouldn't necessarily think were a direct link. Buster Keaton for me was a big inspiration, he's resilient in a comic way, someone who strives and struggles and has this melancholic impasse for a face and we root for them. I like that idea. I also thought of the Charles Bukowski poem called "Bluebird " for inspiration.

How has your own relationship with this era of music changed after playing this role, as you explore New York's Folk scene leading up to the cultural explosion set off by Dylan?

Getting to learn Dave Van Ronk's repertoire was incredible, and listening to the stuff with Van Ronk and Lightning Hopkins and these other amazing players. I could use as an example the [English ballad from 1537] "The Death of Queen Jane." In the script, it says Llewyn gets to Chicago and is about to audition for this gatekeeper, and then he sings a song. The song wasn't specified, so I started researching all this stuff, trying to find the right song, maybe something really bluesy or something wild where he just lays it all out on the table and gives it. So I bring them these songs, and I said I'm thinking of leaning towards Blues. They said, "No, we're thinking of something more white." They gave me "The Death of Queen Jane," which was a song about a medieval Caesarian section.

Why this one? I spent a bit and wrapped my mind around this song about this woman who has a C-section that goes wrong, and what does this have to do with him? I had to just surrender to instinct. It wasn't until afterwards when I saw [the film] that it suddenly dawned on me that of course this is the song he plays. The job of a folk musician, a true folk artist, is someone who looks back and finds these old, archaic songs that seemingly have no relevance and then makes them alive, present, and of the moment. They're living, and that's what he does. The moment when he is asked to play something he says this is the most honest thing I can play right now -- it's not the most commercial, and it's probably the wrong choice for his career, but it's the truest thing that he can play. Actually it has a lot of relevance: the child that he just gave up in Akron, the abortion. The Coens, they don't think about what the most meaningful thing can be and then put that in, they go off on instinct, but what makes them geniuses is that they have so many layers.

For me, "Llewyn Davis" is their most "acoustic" movie. It's such a chill, stripped-down film that on first blush it looks like there's not a lot going on. Can you talk about setting that tone, making a really quiet film and deceptively simple-yet-powerful film that still works?

[Working with the Coens] is a strange phenomenon, I have to tell you. It's the same thing with working with T-Bone, it's so off-handed and relaxed, you don't even know something's happening until it happens. Everything is just part of a conversation, so you're having a conversation about whatever and T-Bone will say something like, "Play it like you're playing to yourself on the couch."

Suddenly that resonates in such a strong way, and I think not only should I play the song that way, but I should play Llewyn that way. He's always taken to himself, he's an island unto himself and so that starts a process. Then I get together with the Coens and we go through every scene and just talk about where he is at that moment, the levels of expression. Maybe it registers a little bit more, play it where it registers less. It's all just very practical and pragmatic adjustments. They never really speak in terms of theme or symbolism or any of that stuff. That's not really them.

Do they talk in terms of other films, like "Check this out, this sets a similar mood"? Or is it simply that you're living within the world of the Coens and you're responding as a specific performer within that world?

hat's basically it. They don't try to say you need to watch this, you need to read this. It's really just about the vibe, the feeling that's being created in the moment. Of course I brought a lot of ideas, and a lot of that would be them saying, "OK, that's the right direction," or "No, that's less of the right direction."

You've said in other interviews that when you were working with John Goodman, and looked in the rear view mirror and saw him there you realized that, yup, you're in a Coen brothers film. What do the Coen brothers mean to you as an audience member, and how have their films changed now that you've worked on one of their sets?

Tone is the big thing that pops out to me. One thing they've always been masters of is tone. I think that's why they get along with T-Bone so well, because T-Bone works with tone. I remember watching my very first Coen film, "Raising Arizona." I was just a kid so I didn't know anything about this stuff. But I remember that it stuck with me in such a strange way. It was so funny and so sad and made me feel so weird. And they've been doing that ever since. There's something about the way that they examine existence.

They're able to layer tragedy and absurdity in such an incredible way, much like Chekhov. There's something that just speaks to the way I move through the world in a very similar way and there's always a slight feeling of a stranger in a strange land. So being part of that universe was more than I would have hoped for because they are so generous, not only with their laughter, but with their thoughts about life, movies, art, and everything. They create a community of artists, which is an incredible thing. And their movies, it's just enriched by seeing that process. They're folklorists, that's what they are. They're the greatest American folk artists working today. They make art about the American experience.

"Inside Llewyn Davis" is now playing in theatres.

from The Moviefone Blog http://news.moviefone.com/2013/12/27/oscar-isaac-inside-llewyn-davis-interview/


'Grudge Match' Review: Sylvester Stallone vs. Robert De Niro

Tim Dahlberg

Billed as "Rocky" versus "Raging Bull," despite the fact that both those movies came out over 30 years ago, "Grudge Match" aims to settle the ultimate boxing movie debate -- or at least find a way to get Sylvester Stallone back in the ring one last time without trying to justify a "Rocky 7."

So "Grudge Match" pits two of Hollywood's most famous on-screen pugilists against each other as former rivals Henry "Razor" Sharp (Stallone) and Billy "The Kid" McDonnen (Robert De Niro). Each won one fight against the other in the '80s, but the deciding bout was called off when Razor left the sport for mysterious personal reasons. Now, three decades later, the two former light heavyweight champs are pulled back into the ring for one last big payday (how meta!) and the chance to settle who's the better boxer once and for all.

But since the three-decades-in-the-making title card bout only takes up about ten total minutes of screen time in "Grudge Match," here's a look at how the two veteran actors stack up outside the ring.


In the movie, both Razor and Kid's records have only one blemish: their loss to the other. In real life, the only time Stallone and De Niro competed against each other (for "Rocky" and "Taxi Driver"), they both lost out to Peter Finch's posthumous Oscar. While De Niro eventually got his for playing a boxer, Stallone never did.

Advantage: De Niro

Fighting Shape:

Both actors qualify for AARP membership these days, but while De Niro has mostly been relegated to playing crotchety dads and even crotchetier grandfathers at age 70, Stallone is still a bona fide action hero. Not to mention in freakishly good shape for a 67-year-old. That said, neither are able to pull off a green screen suit very well.

Advantage: Stallone

Business Savvy:

Like many retired athletes, Razor lost all his money to his corrupt former manager, which means he's stuck working at a Pittsburgh steel mill. Kid was much smarter, parlaying his fame into endorsement deals, a car dealership, and his own bar. Like De Niro, he's a man who understands the importance of making your money while you still can. Which means when a movie asks you to do a fart joke or a double entendre-filled monologue about why men love "butterscotch jellybeans (ahem, BJs)," you do it, no matter how many Oscars you have. Still, you've got to give Stallone credit for being able to continue cashing paycheques for playing the same punch-drunk lovable underdog character for this long.

Advantage: De Niro


Nobody does a training montage like Stallone, so he's got the clear edge here. And Kid's tried-and-true traditional methods of sparring and chin-ups have nothing on Razor's "old-school" approach, which involves flipping truck tires, chugging raw eggs (of course), racing a motorized scooter, piling up "Rocky" references, and being shouted at by Alan Arkin.

Advantage: Stallone


As a goofy comedy that gets most of its mileage out of old-age jokes and boxing movie references, "Grudge Match" is the type of production where everybody's just there to have a good time. And while nobody's having a better time than Arkin (playing Razor's cantankerous trainer), De Niro comes close, throwing himself into the antagonistic, scotch-swilling Kid with more energy than we've seen from him in a while. Stallone's Razor is much more of a wet blanket, especially in the scenes with his long-lost love, where he and Kim Basinger seemingly duke it out for who can deliver more incoherent, rambling dialogue.

Advantage: De Niro

Technological Aptitude:

Neither knows what a viral video is, though Razor is at least aware of YouTube. Kid, on the other hand, owns at least one TV, to Razor's zero. And judging from the overwhelming amount of jokes that "Grudge Match" tries to wring out of Razor's self-imposed cultural isolation, that's got to be a crucial point in Kid's column.

Advantage: De Niro

Heartfelt Speeches:

For someone who calls himself a poor communicator, Razor sure does a lot of talking, and as the movie's true lead, he dominates Kid in the cheesy monologue category. De Niro's character also goes for the heartstrings with a subplot involving his estranged son (Jon Bernthal) and precocious grandkid, and while neither lands much of an emotional punch, Stallone takes way more shots at adding some drama to the feel-good comedy.

Advantage: Stallone

Public Opinion:

Thanks to cell phone videos of the two making fools of themselves going viral, Razor and Kid's rivalry is trending enough to earn its own HBO special, video game, and a sold-out Pay-Per-View event. Razor's clearly the people's champ though, blue-collar all the way, with a bunch of his former steel mill co-workers rooting him on from the nosebleeds, while Kid's cheering section is located primarily in his bar.

Advantage: Stallone

Final Tally:

It's a split decision. De Niro draws first blood, but because this is a cheesy, broad comedy, "Grudge Match" is more about melodramatic moral victories and life lessons than knockouts. And as the movie says, it's not Stallone and De Niro's best, but it's pretty much the best they've got to offer fans these days.

"Grudge Match" is now playing in theatres.

from The Moviefone Blog http://news.moviefone.com/2013/12/27/grudge-match-review/


Keanu Reeves Rules Out 'Point Break' Remake Return

keanu reeves point break remake

Apparently, there is going to be a "Point Break" remake (we had kind of forgotten too). The 1991 classic, about a band of surfing, skydiving bank robbers, is scheduled to get a big screen overhaul, but you can count out one potential participant: original star Keanu Reeves, who played an FBI agent who goes undercover to infiltrate the group of criminals (led by the late, great Patrick Swayze).

When the BBC (via Total Film) asked Reeves if he would be involved in the remake, he replied, "Absolutely not. It's not my place."

In fact, the star (whose period fantasy "47 Ronin" opened this week, without much fanfare) added that, while he's not opposed to the remake (being produced by Alcon Entertainment, which first announced the project in 2011), he does remain skeptical.

"If they can find a way to do it that works out good, then God bless them," Reeves told the BBC. "It sounds very exciting -- but is it a good thing? I don't know."

If you are itching for some more great Keanu action, we implore you to rent "Man of Tai Chi," which was recently released on home video. The action-thriller, which Reeves directed and co-starred in, is an obscene amount of fun and very highly recommended, especially if you want a break from the drearily serious Oscar fare.

Top 10 Best Movie Remakes

from The Moviefone Blog http://news.moviefone.com/2013/12/27/keanu-reeves-point-break-remake/


'Wolf of Wall Street' Clip: Leonardo DiCaprio Wants What He Can't Have (EXCLUSIVE)

Wolf of Wall Street -Clip No. 2

Leonardo DiCaprio doesn't hear the word "no" very often. Neither does his character in "The Wolf of Wall Street."

Jordan Belfort may king of the financial world, but at home, it's his wife Naomi (Margot Robbie) who calls the shots. In this exclusive clip, as Jordan plays with his daughter, Naomi lays down the law on "Daddy" after the couple has a fight.

"Daddy doesn't even get to touch Mommy for a very, very, very long time," Naomi declares.

"Daddy is really sorry about what he said in the other room," Jordan replies.

That may be, but Naomi doesn't forgive or forget easily, and she outlines just how excruciating her revenge will be.

from The Moviefone Blog http://news.moviefone.com/2013/12/27/wolf-of-wall-street-clip/


Chiwetel Ejiofor: 15 Things You (Probably) Don't Know About the '12 Years a Slave' Star

Chiwetel Ejiofor Facts

Chiwetel Ejiofor is hard to miss in great movies like Alfonso Cuaron's "Children of Men" and Spike Lee's "Inside Man," but the talented British stage and screen actor was handed the role of a lifetime in this year's "12 Years a Slave."

Ejiofor is undeniably spectacular as Solomon Northup, a free man turned slave, in Steve McQueen's 2013 awards darling, a current favorite for Best Picture. The haunting film -- arguably one of the most gruesome and accurate depictions of American slavery ever produced -- has thrust Ejiofor into the national spotlight.

Whether you've seen Ejiofor in the riveting Oscar-contender or not, there's still much to know about the talented British star. From his favorite holiday destination to his tragic beginnings, here are 15 things you probably don't know about Chiwetel Ejiofor.

1. Despite the recent attention, the talented actor was already established and had three Golden Globe nominations under his belt by the time "12 Years a Slave" came along. Now, with a nomination for the intense slave drama -- and another for the mini-series "Dancing on the Edge" -- Ejiofor has racked up five Golden Globe nods.

2. The actor was born in Forest Gate, London, to Nigerian parents.

3. Ejiofor began acting when he was 13 years old, and soon joined the National Youth Theatre. Later on, he entered the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), but left after a year upon receiving a role in Spielberg's "Amistad" (1997).

4. The role Ejiofor would most like to play is Iron in Nigel Williams's "Class Enemy." The role depicts a 16-year-old boy, and the actor has acknowledged he's certainly too old for the part.

5. His favorite films are "Raging Bull," "The Godfather," "Fargo," "Miller's Crossing," and "Do the Right Thing."

6. Sadly, when Ejiofor was 11, his father was killed in a car crash in Nigeria after returning from a wedding. The actor was also badly injured in the crash, and scars on his forehead are still visible today.

7. His favorite vacation destination is Barcelona, Spain.

8. In 2007, the actor starred alongside Ewan McGregor on the London stage in "Othello."

9. Ejiofor never decided to act professionally, but rather loved the craft and fell into his career. He jokes that it only became a profession "when somebody offered to pay [him] for it."

10. Ejiofor loves sailing and spending time in the outdoors, so he looks forward to getting out to Los Angeles.

11. According to Steve McQueen, director of "12 Years a Slave," Ejiofor initially passed on the role of Solomon Northup. Ultimately, the actor just needed a bit more time to contemplate the intense part.

12. His nickname is Chiwe (pronounced chew-ee).

13. If Ejiofor could trade places with one person, living or dead, he would love "to have the distinct and beautiful voice of Nat King Cole."

14. The actor's favorite book is "Other People's Trades," by Primo Levi.

15. Ejiofor was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.) in the 2008 Queen's Birthday Honors List on behalf of his service to drama.

[Sources: IMDb, Wikipedia, Slant Magazine, IndieWire, WhatsOnStage]

from The Moviefone Blog http://news.moviefone.com/2013/12/27/chiwetel-ejiofor-facts/


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing: Your First Look at 'The Imitation Game' (PHOTO)

benedict cumberbatch alan turing

Following Queen Elizabeth II's pardon of World War II codebreaker Alan Turing this week, the first photo of Benedict Cumberbatch as the mathematician in "The Imitation Game" has been released.

The movie's official Twitter account posted the photo of Cumberbatch, looking frazzled and sweaty in suspenders, in front of what appears to be the computer that broke the famous Enigma code used by Germany during World War II.

Turing, who went to help develop computers at the University of Manchester after the war, was convicted in 1952 of gross indecency after engaging in homosexual relations. He was hormonally castrated and lost his job. Two years later, Turing committed suicide by ingesting cyanide.

Over 60 years after his conviction, Turing given the highly rare and unusual pardon by the queen.

"The Imitation Game" also stars Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance, and Mark Strong, and has no official release date yet.

from The Moviefone Blog http://news.moviefone.com/2013/12/26/benedict-cumberbatch-alan-turing-photo/


James Franco: 21 Reasons Why You Couldn't Avoid Him in 2013

james franco 2013

It seems James Franco is now the hardest-working man in show-business -- if you look back at his 2013, that is.

Franco's multi-tasking started to seem like a Joaquin Phoenix-style put-on a couple years ago; not only was he writing, directing, and starring in various films, but he was also, it seemed, studying for graduate degrees at several universities at once. But then, it became apparent that he really was spreading himself too thin when he practically fell asleep onstage while co-hosting the 2011 Oscars. He took a lot of flak for that, but he hardly seems to have lessened his pace.

Indeed, the Oscar jokes ceased once Franco returned to the good graces of moviegoers with the 2013 smash "Oz the Great and Powerful."

According to IMDb, Franco worked on some 49 film and TV projects in 2013, and while many of those were just guest spots on talk shows, that still means that, on average, you couldn't go more than a week without Franco making a new bid for your attention. Plus, he's already got a dozen projects slated for release next year.

Since it's all but impossible for anyone who is not James Franco to keep up with everything Franco has in the pipeline, here's a guide to the highlights of his work on both sides of the camera in 2013.

1. "Oz, the Great and Powerful": Franco re-united with "Spider-Man" director Sam Raimi to play the wizard in this "Wizard of Oz" prequel that was one of 2013's biggest hits.

2. "Spring Breakers": In theaters at the same time as his Disney blockbuster was Harmony Korine's indie tale of debauchery that featured a standout performance by Franco as a cornrowed creep named Alien who sets out to corrupt some vacationing co-eds, including Disney princesses Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez. Franco's transformation into the nearly unrecognizable sleazebag was seen as further proof of his chameleon-like versatility.

3. "The Iceman": Released in May, this drama starred Michael Shannon as notorious hitman Richard Kuklinski. Franco appears as one of his victims.

4. "This Is the End": The apocalyptic summer comedy hit featured several stars playing exaggerated versions of themselves as they face a Biblical armageddon in Los Angeles. Much of the action takes place during a party at (what is supposed to be) Franco's house.

5. "Lovelace": This summer's much-hyped, little-seen biopic of Linda Lovelace starred Amanda Seyfried as the "Deep Throat" star-turned-anti-porn activist. Franco has a small role as "Playboy" publisher Hugh Hefner, in what would turn out to be the most mainstream of the many porn-inspired movies Franco would be involved with in 2013.

6. "Palo Alto": Franco co-starred in this crowdfunded anthology adapted from his own short-story collection.

7. "As I Lay Dying": Franco directed and co-starred in this feature-length, commercially released adaptation of the classic William Faulkner novel.

8. "Lily": Franco co-produced writer/director Zach Singer's short film, based on a one-act play by Tennessee Williams.

9. "Kink": Franco is credited as an executive producer on this documentary about fetish website kink.com, which played at Sundance at the beginning of the year.

10. "A Fuller Life": Samantha Fuller's documentary, which played at the Venice Film Festival, takes an unconventional approach to recounting the life of her father, pulp director Sam Fuller ("The Big Red One"): it features various well-known actors and directors reading excerpts from his memoirs. Franco reads a segment titled "Copy Boy."

11. "The Director: An Evolution in Three Acts": Franco is listed as a producer of this documentary about Gucci designer Frida Giannini. It screened at New York's Tribeca Film Festival in April.

12. "Venice 70: Future Reloaded": Also at the Venice Film Festival was this anthology, with segments directed by 70 international filmmakers, about the future of cinema. In the credits, at least, Franco gets to rub shoulders with the likes of Bernardo Bertolucci, Catherine Breillat, and Abbas Kiarostami.

13. "Child of God": Yet another Venice entry, one that also played the big fall festivals in Toronto and New York, this is an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel about a man's violent downward spiral. Franco directed, co-wrote, and plays a supporting role in the feature, which should see a commercial release next year.

14. "Third Person": This romantic drama by Paul Haggis ("Crash"), featuring three interwoven love stories, played at the Toronto Film Festival. In a cast that includes Liam Neeson, Olivia Wilde, and Mila Kunis, Franco co-stars as an artist who comes from a wealthy family.

15. "Interior. Leather Bar.": As notoriously sensationalistic as the 1980 Al Pacino thriller "Cruising" was, there was as much as 40 minutes of even more lurid gay-bar footage that was cut to secure an R rating. (Director William Friedkin claims he shot the extreme scenes knowing they'd be cut, in order to get the scenes he wanted to keep past the censors.) This short film, co-directed by Franco and Travis Mathews, imagines what the content of that lost "Cruising" footage might be.

16. "Richard Peter Johnson": A comedy about a porn star (note the triple pun in the name) who tries to go legit. Franco reportedly has a cameo as himself in this yet-to-be-released feature.

17. "Acting Class": This unreleased short is a mockumentary about an acting class with an egotistical martinet of a teacher. Franco executive produced the film, which reportedly features some of his own acting students.

18. "XR91 BioRebellion 2.0": Writer/director Steven Huffaker's unreleased short is about a film student trying to complete a sci-fi epic. Franco has a cameo as himself, in his role as a film professor.

19. "Comedy Central Roast of James Franco": It's Franco's turn in the hot seat as he's roasted by various comics and pals.

10. "The Mindy Project": Franco guest-starred on two episodes of the Fox sitcom as a handsome, troublesome new doctor in Mindy's practice.

21. "Homefront": Franco co-starred with Jason Statham in last month's action thriller. Playing a small-town meth dealer named Gator in a movie written by Sylvester Stallone is about as normal as it got for Franco this year.

EARLIER: 20 Things You (Probably) Don't Know About James Franco

from The Moviefone Blog http://news.moviefone.com/2013/12/26/james-franco-2013/