The Two Faces of January Is a Suspense-Free Travelogue
Starring Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, and Oscar Isaac.By Bilge Ebiri
The Fantastic Four reboot didn’t show off any footage at Comic-Con this past summer, but the film’s lead, Miles Teller, says we can start shaking off the cobwebs left from the poorly reviewed 2005 take on the comic-book characters. “It’s different in every way,” Teller told Vulture last night at a screening of his new film Whiplash, hosted by the Cinema Society and Brooks Brothers. “All those actors were a lot older, their characters were in different places. The tone of this film is completely different: We don’t have Michael Chiklis in a big Styrofoam thing, and I think that [a more grounded approach] is what people are into — X-Men: First Class is doing that. You’re dealing with these characters but you’re making them real people in how they exist day-to-day. People wanted it to be taken more seriously than the kind of Dick Tracy, kitschy, overly comic-book world.”
If there’s one thing that promotions for Gotham, Fox’s new Batman prequel series, want you to know, it’s this: Sure, we might not have Batman, but we have so many of his famous rogues gallery. The pilot alone — which coincided with Batman's 75th birthday this year (really, he doesn’t look a day over 35, but to be fair, that cowl covers up a lot of his face) — features versions of the Penguin, the Riddler, Catwoman, and mob boss Carmine Falcone; with three quarters of a century's worth of comics, movies, and TV shows at their disposal, producers have hundreds more bad guys (no, really) to choose from for future episodes.
But not every villain the Dark Knight has faced is worth translating to television. Any series that’s been around for 75 years is sure to have had its share of off moments, and with literally thousands of Batman comics published during that time, there are plenty of adventures he would like to forget. If any of the following guys show up in Gotham, you can rest assured that the bottom of the barrel is very, very close to being scraped.
Feburary's The Lego Movie aside, you'd be forgiven for thinking it has been a weak year for great animated films. Look closer, however, and you’ll see something else: While wide releases (How to Train Your Dragon 2, perhaps, or Mr. Peabody and Sherman) have been a mixed bag, indie screens have seen a steady stream of excellent and diverse animated films. In fact, this year has been an incredible one for animated films, one of the best in my lifetime. It's just that many of these excellent movies have gone woefully underseen.
Ben Affleck's three kids do not care that he's Batman. According to Affleck, they would "give a shit" if he starred in the Frozen sequel but, no, they do not care that he's Batman. Maybe if he sang about being Batman to the tune of "Let It Go," they might come around? But first, he's going to have to learn to really belt that thing, because ... this is weak. Come on, man: If you want to play a rock troll in the sequel, you're gonna have to step it up.
Netflix is taking on Hollywood: In what the New York Times calls "a first deal of its kind," the streaming giant announced today that the first original film to premiere exclusively on Netflix will be the Weinstein Company’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend, the follow-up to Ang Lee’s 2000 Oscar-winning martial-arts hit. The film — which features original star Michelle Yeoh and is directed by Yuen Woo-Ping — will roll out simultaneously on Netflix and in select IMAX theaters on August 28, 2015. "Fans will have unprecedented choice in how they enjoy an amazing and memorable film that combines intense action and incredible beauty," said Netflix's Ted Sarandos in a statement. Basically, if the thought of watching a series of elaborate aerial fight scenes in IMAX 3-D makes you feel nauseated, it sounds like Netflix is your next best bet.
Some interesting news from the Oscar foreign-film race: Andrey Zvyagintsev's Leviathan has been chosen to represent Russia as its foreign-language entry after fellow contender Andrei Konchalovsky's White Nights of a Postman was withdrawn from consideration. While Leviathan received wide critical acclaim and won the screenplay prize at Cannes, it has sparked controversy within Russia for the critical view it takes of the country's contemporary political situation and its implicit criticisms of the Putin regime. The profanity-heavy script also ran into some trouble with Russia’s new obscenity laws, although it was recently given a national release, albeit with the obscenities bleeped out.
Let's get right to the good stuff, people: The trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson's next film, Inherent Vice, has finally dropped. Joaquin Phoenix stars as the gummed-up gumshoe at the center of this adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's psychedelic detective story, and there's a vast array of actors circling him in fab late-'60s garb, including Reese Witherspoon, Benicio Del Toro, and Owen Wilson. This looks to be the loosest, funniest film Anderson has made in quite some time (after the dramatic double-deckers of There Will Be Blood and The Master), and the director himself has cited the joke-filled spoofs of the Zucker brothers as inspiration. How does that comic sensibility mesh with Anderson's? By the time you've watched ten seconds of Josh Brolin barking in a foreign language, you'll know. Enjoy!
Though he's probably best known for his work on the 1995–98 animated sitcom Pinky and the Brain and for channeling Orson Welles in several other cartoons, Emmy Award–winning voice actor Maurice LaMarche has played everyone from Yosemite Sam to Toucan Sam. LaMarche calls himself a "utility" actor, a pinch-hitting performer who steps in for supporting roles when he gets the call. To aficionados, his voice is instantly recognizable and totally charming; once you've identified him by ear, you'll notice that he pops up everywhere (like on last night’s season premiere of The Simpsons, in which he voiced Rodney Dangerfield). LaMarche is one of several voice actors in The Boxtrolls, a new animated movie about trash-hoarding goblins and the human boy who loved them. Vulture talked to LaMarche about smoking Cuban cigars, filling Mel Blanc's shoes, and dying repeatedly in video games.
Cary Fukunaga, he of the beautiful man-braids, will not be returning to the upcoming second season of True Detective. In his place (at least for two episodes) will be director Justin Lin, the man who turned the Fast and Furious franchise into the safe-robbing, plane-chasing juggernaut it is today. While Fukunaga's True Detective tenure was marked by a moody stillness, Lin's work so far has showcased his bold, hyperkinetic style — above all, he's a director of motion. To get a sense of what you can expect from #TrueDetectiveSeason2, here's a guide to Lin's journey from microbudget indies to globe-spanning blockbusters.
TMZ is reporting that Amanda Bynes was arrested for a DUI yesterday in California. Picked up by police at 4:10 a.m., the actress was booked on a misdemeanor DUI and released on $15,000 bail. Bynes is currently on probation after a string of legal problems last year; according to TMZ, she was released from her parents' conservatorship earlier this month.
David Cronenberg’s Hollywood satire Maps to the Stars picked up a Best Actress award in Cannes for Julianne Moore’s go-for-broke performance as a fading movie star, but its awards-season prospects appeared dimmer Stateside when distributor Focus World announced plans to eschew an Oscar campaign this year in favor of an early 2015 release. When we talked to David Cronenberg Saturday night at the New York Film Festival, though, he told us to expect a short theatrical run for the film by the end of the year. “They're going to do a qualifying run — I think it's in New York and L.A. — so that it will legitimately qualify for the Golden Globes and the Oscars,” said Cronenberg, who admitted, “There was a lot of discussion. You know, they really felt that they could do a better job releasing the film in 2015, in January or February. And then, of course, the discussion was, ‘Yeah, but wouldn't it be great if Julianne got an Oscar nomination, since she won Best Actress at Cannes?’” A strong recent showing at the Toronto Film Festival convinced Focus World to put the film out this year, though the distributor hasn’t committed to funding a costly Oscar campaign. “You know, I think the movie will find its way regardless,” said Maps screenwriter Bruce Wagner. “It already has.”
Here's the first bit of Lorde's curated The Hunger Games: Mockingjay soundtrack, "Yellow Flicker Beat" — which also happens to be her first new music since 2013's Pure Heroine. For this one, Lorde is going full Katniss, writing on her Tumblr: "it’s my first offering from what i hope will be a soundtrack you love. it’s my attempt at getting inside her head, katniss’. i hope you like it."
At the beginning of (and throughout) every month, Netflix Streaming adds new movies and TV shows to its library. Here is a quick list of several that you might be interested in. Some of these were added halfway through or near the end of September, but we're going to include them in this roundup anyway, since you may have missed them. Some of these may also have previously been on Netflix, only to have been removed and then added back. Feel free to note anything we've left out in the comments below.
Reese invited Vogue over to her L.A. home to ask her 73 questions (just like Blake Lively and Sarah Jessica Parker before her), and it was pretty much everything you'd imagine. She did a trampoline backflip, offered up some southern-style homemade tea, admitted that she knows she is Hollywood's "life of the party," would like to have a dinner party full of female senators, and said that she'd totally cameo on Girls. Despite all this, what's the one thing missing in her life right now? "The bees." The bees.
Horror filmmaker John Carpenter’s body of work is atypical in that his films often seem to have been made by an uncompromisingly intuitive commercial artist. Never content just to take a check, Carpenter abandoned the Halloween franchise after co-writing and producing the series’ first two unsuccessful sequels and took on bold projects, such as Big Trouble in Little China and Prince of Darkness that suggested he knew how to make movies without giving in to creative pressure to make palatable pablum. Vulture talked to Carpenter about how he resolved key conflicts on projects that defined his career, particularly The Thing, his Halloween sequels, and others.
In Hossein Amini’s handsomely mounted The Two Faces of January, the Aegean sun shines harsh and bright on the duplicitous characters, like a celestial interrogation. An adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith novel, the film, set in Greece and Turkey in the early 1960s, brings together three Americans: elegant couple Chester and Collette McFarland (Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst), and Rydal (Oscar Isaac), a well-educated tour guide who lives in Athens impressing female tourists with his smoldering looks and bountiful knowledge of the local ruins.
It's hard to get a read on Viggo Mortensen's con man in The Two Faces of January, and that's awfully fitting, considering who plays him. Since the Lord of the Rings trilogy made Mortensen bankable, he's mostly spent that capital on unexpected character roles in a series of modestly budgeted indies, including this throwback thriller (adapted by Hossein Amini from the Patricia Highsmith novel), where Mortensen and his wife Kirsten Dunst are thrown together with Oscar Isaac after an accidental murder in 1960s Greece. No one is who they seem, and their alliances are always up for grabs, and Mortensen had a ball with the ambiguity. "It’s always fun to have secrets," he told Vulture, "but when you’re playing a con man, you’re having secrets within secrets within secrets."
Every week between now and January 15, when the nominations are announced, Vulture will consult its crystal ball to determine the changing fortunes in this year's Oscar race. Check back every Friday for our Oscar Futures column, when we'll let you in on insider gossip, confer with other awards-season pundits, and track industry buzz to figure out who's up, who's down, and who's currently leading the race for a coveted Oscar nomination.
The Boxtrolls is being released in 3-D, and I wish it were in Smell-o-vision, too. Its ornate world of piled-up garbage and giant wheels of cheese and gross body horror would surely emit a wondrous stink. Adapted by the animation studio Laika (who gave us the terrifying coming-of-age tale Coraline and the horror spoof ParaNorman) from Alan Snow’s novel Here Be Monsters!, this is a film firmly rooted in the dark side of a child’s imagination — the side that compulsively wonders what might happen if you smelled this or broke that, that occasionally threatens to experiment on the family pet. It’s a delinquent film, but it’s magical.
Starring Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, and Oscar Isaac.By Bilge Ebiri
From the animation studio that gave us Coraline and ParaNorman.By Bilge Ebiri
There’s a special kind of hell for artists who array vigilante revenge-porn in saintly garb.By David Edelstein
Written and directed by 12 Years a Slave's John Ridley.By Bilge Ebiri