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  • Posted 4/18/14 at 5:30 PM

Ebiri on A Haunted House 2: A Movie-Length Nervous Breakdown

A Haunted House 2 is not a movie. It is a nervous breakdown. Directed by Michael Tiddes but largely the handiwork of star, producer, and co-writer Marlon Wayans, the film is being billed as yet another Wayans-ized spoof of the horror movie genre, à la the first Haunted House movie and the wildly successful Scary Movie series. (Keenen Ivory Wayans and his brothers were responsible for the first two Scary Movie films; they have since left that franchise, which may explain why a new one was needed.) And there are some familiar digs at recent horror flicks: This time, the creepy doll and the closet from The Conjuring, the family-murdering demon from Sinister, and the dybbuk box from The Possession all make appearances. But this new film is mostly an excuse for star Marlon Wayans to have extended freak-outs in response to the horrors visited upon him — shrieking, screaming, crying, cowering, and occasionally hate-fucking for minutes on end. Yes, you read that last bit right. A Haunted House 2 puts the satyriasis back in satire.

There are stabs at other types of humor here. »

Edelstein on Heaven Is for Real: A Gentle Movie That Wants Us to Believe the Best of Death

In 2003, Colton Burpo, the 5-year-old son of Nebraska pastor Todd Burpo, had emergency surgery for a burst appendix, and though he didn’t technically “die” or have a “near-death experience,” he left his body for approximately three (Earth) minutes and visited heaven — where he met Jesus (still bearing the marks of his crucifixion), Mary, the Holy Spirit, angels in white choir robes with wings, the grandfather who perished long before he was born, and the sister who died in his mother’s womb but was now growing normally, beautifully. Because heaven time is longer than Earth time, Colton was able to observe many things that conformed to descriptions in Scripture, of which he — being 5 — could obviously have had no prior knowledge.

Pastor Burpo’s account of his son’s journey became a huge bestseller. »

Max Greenfield to Star in Michael Showalter Movie

Talking to the Wrap, Greenfield revealed he will be starring in a new film written and directed by Michael Showalter. Greenfield — who first worked with Showalter on They Came Together, the David Wain rom-com parody Showalter co-wrote — described Hello My Name Is Doris as a dramedy about an older woman who is “forced to kind of find a new life in the city” after the death of her mother, and the younger guy (Greenfield) whom she thinks is the answer. This will be Showalter’s second feature, after 2005’s The Baxter, in which Showalter has remarked that he wishes he could’ve had a different actor star, instead of himself. Watch out, Paul Rudd, it appears these guys might’ve found their new handsome surrogate.    

Edelstein: Fading Gigolo Is So Crazy That It’s … Fun

When John Turturro writes and directs, the wiry actor becomes a florid romantic, a cheerleader for abbondanza and passione. (The latter is the title of his wonderful documentary about the music of Naples.) His new film, Fading Gigolo, is a hymn to the healing sensuous touch. He has cast himself as a diffident, gentle Manhattan florist named Fioravante who’s tapped by his friend Murray (Woody Allen), the owner of a failed used bookstore, to work as a high-priced prostitute. You read that correctly: Woody Allen is John Turturro’s pimp. And it turns out that Fioravante — not, by his own admission, conventionally handsome and certainly not young — is catnip for the ladies, some (Sharon Stone, Sofía Vergara) wowzas in their own right. He treats them like the fragile flowers they are — and they bloom. But Fioravante’s professional gunslinger detachment is tested when Murray hooks him up with an ultra-Orthodox widow, Avigal (Vanessa Paradis), one of those Jewish “lice ladies” who pick nits out of kids’ (and their parents’) hair. As Avigal begins to smile a lot, a lovelorn Orthodox law-enforcement type (Liev ­Schreiber) from her close-knit Brooklyn neighborhood monitors her comings and goings from Fioravante’s apartment — and the florist begins to think about putting down roots of his own.

What puts Fading Gigolo over the top is the presence of Allen. »

Take the Johnny Depp Movie-Hair Quiz

In the sci-fi thriller Transcendence, which opens this weekend, Johnny Depp spends the majority of his time onscreen inside a computer. (It's a long story, but basically he is inside a computer.) Though we get to see a digitized version of him, it's not the same thing. When you see a Johnny Depp movie, you're partly paying to see what his face and hair look like. From 1990's Cry-Baby through last year's The Lone Ranger, something is always going on with his head. So we wanted to test how familiar you are with the comings and goings of Johnny Depp's follicles. In Vulture's Johnny Depp Movie-Hair Quiz, you'll be shown fifteen haircuts and you have to pick which movie it's from. Luckily, right or wrong, you'll get to see that handsome mug of his. Good luck!

Ebiri: Transcendence Is at Heart an Old-Fashioned Horror Movie, It Just Doesn’t Seem to Know It

Transcendence is at heart an old-fashioned monster movie. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to know it. Ostensibly a cautionary tale about the prospect of the Singularity – the idea that human consciousness and technology will one day inevitably merge to create a superior form of life — Wally Pfister’s film tries to blend action epic, intimate drama, and scientific thriller all into one. But it’s really a film like The Fly or Colossus of New York, in which scientists flaunt the rules of nature and wind up turning themselves (or their loved ones) into horrific, awesome beasts, always with tragic results.

Here, the scientist in question is brilliant artificial-intelligence researcher Will Caster (Johnny Depp). »

Steven Spielberg Developing 1800s Jewish Priest Movie

Variety reports that Steven Spielberg has begun developing an adaptation of the 1997 nonfiction book The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara. Born Jewish in 1851, Mortara was given an emergency baptism by a servant, who was worried about a childhood illness. At age 7, the Catholic Church took him from his family, as it was against the law for non-Catholics to raise a Catholic. Adopted by the Pope, he went on to become a priest. Tony Kushner, who wrote Lincoln and Munich for Spielberg, will handle the script. It's not clear whether this will be the next movie Spielberg directs, as he is frequently taking on new projects. According to Variety, some are saying he hasn't made a decision, while others say the oft-postponed Robopocalypse is the frontrunner now that a rewrite has happened. There is also the Javier Bardem–starring Montezuma-Cortés movie. Not to mention his idea for that movie where he just swims in a pile of his money until he tires. Oh, wait, that was our idea. But you know you'd pay to see that, if John Williams did the score.

  • Posted 4/18/14 at 2:12 AM
  • Movies

Fox Developing Michael B. Jordan Action Vehicle Men Who Kill

Michael B. Jordan has been a hot commodity in the wake of Fruitvale Station, with upcoming roles as Apollo Creed's grandson in Creed and the Human Torch in the rebooted Fantastic Four franchise. Now, Deadline is reporting that Fox has closed a deal for Men Who Kill, an action drama that will be developed specifically as a vehicle for Jordan and is being described as an "international Bad Boys-style project." We don't know much else about it, but it's a safe bet that if you liked Bad Boys but found it overly provincial, this could be the film for you.

  • Posted 4/18/14 at 1:23 AM

Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson Star in Bleak Bromance The Rover

Animal Kingdom director David Michôd's post-apocalyptic Western The Rover is set to premiere at Cannes next month, and judging by the trailer, festival-goers can expect a lot of bleak, parched landscapes, Australian accents (at least, we think that's what Robert Pattinson is going for) and Rust Cohle-style macho philosophizing. Also: a solid amount of Guy Pearce/Robert Pattinson bromance, which is a draw that should not be underestimated.

  • Posted 4/17/14 at 10:25 PM

Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys Trailer Is Here

Here's the first trailer for Clint Eastwood's Jersey Boys movie  yes, that Clint Eastwood  based on the long-running Broadway musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. John Lloyd Young, who won a Tony for his stage portrayal of Valli, is back in the role, along with Vincent Piazza (Boardwalk Empire), and Christopher Walken as a mob boss. If you were concerned about how Hollywood's foremost rugged octogenarian would fare with his first foray into musical theater, fear not: It appears that Eastwood is sticking pretty nicely to the musical's key elements, with plenty of direct-address monologues in thick New Jersey accents followed by high-pitched song and dance numbers. Sort of like Goodfellas, if it was a crowd-pleasing jukebox musical directed by Dirty Harry. Count us in.

Ebiri on Manakamana: Two Hours in a Nepalese Cable Car and a Near Act of Hypnosis

Depending on the type of viewer you are, the premise of Manakamana will sound either fascinating or deadly. Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez’s experimental documentary consists entirely of fixed long takes inside a cable car as it goes up and down a Nepalese mountain. For nearly two hours. The passengers, who change every ten or so minutes (roughly the length of time it takes the cable car to go up or down the mountain), are a diverse bunch, though we know very little about them — an older man and what appears to be his young grandson, gabby young headbangers with a stray kitten, a solemn woman carrying flowers, a gaggle of goats, two musicians tuning and practicing on their instruments, an American tourist and her friend, etc. Here’s some additional context, which you do not really need: Manakamana is a Hindu temple that lies at the top of a ridge, about 100 kilometers from Kathmandu, and it is said that the goddess Bhagvati will grant the wishes of those who travel to worship her there. Most of these people, in other words, are pilgrims. (The goats, alas, are probably on their way to being sacrificed.)

What you do need to know is right there in front of you. »

Can You Guess Famous Lines From Office Space From Just a GIF or Freeze-Frame?

With Mike Judge’s Silicon Valley premiering on HBO to rave reviews, it’s the perfect time to celebrate his past work: Beavis and Butt-Head, King of the Hill, Idiocracy, and the most quotable of them all: 1999’s Office Space. Then why not celebrate with a Quote Quiz? The game works Hangman-style: You type in letters to fill in the quote that goes with the picture, but if you get more than three letters wrong, you lose that question. (If you're stuck, click for a hint on the upper-right-hand corner of each picture.) When you’re all done, make sure to share your score in your latest TPS report. I’m gonna need that by 5 p.m. On your mark, get set, quote!

Did You Catch the Coen Brothers Easter Egg in Fargo?

If you're watching the FX TV show Fargo, you might expect to see some Coen Brothers shout-outs. Did you catch the not-so-hidden reference to The Big Lebowski? Probably. But just in case you didn't, here it is:

  • Posted 4/17/14 at 1:00 PM
  • Candy

Watch Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer, and NBA Stars Live-Read Space Jam

On March 23 of this year, a ragtag group of comedians, actors, and basketball players assembled to do a live table read of Space Jam, the 1996 Michael Jordan–Looney Tunes "classic." The cast included Blake Griffin as Jordan, and Seth Green, Paul Scheer, Nick Kroll, Ben Schwartz, Danielle Fishel, and others, as a variety of talking animals, aliens, and '90s basketball players. Sadly, the whole thing isn't online, but Funny or Die has a delightful ten-minute highlight reel. It's like one of Jason Reitman's LACMA live-readings but a bit more highbrow. 

Under the Skin, Only Lovers Left Alive, and a Brief History of the Art-Horror Film

Under the Skin, starring Scarlet Johansson as an alien come to Earth in human form, is being billed as a science-fiction film, and it is, on some level. But with early scenes structured around Johansson’s “stalking” of various humans and a finale that echoes back to Frankenstein, director Jonathan Glazer’s film hews closer to horror. Even as that, however, it’s clearly something different, with a narrative and a visual and aural strategy that belong more to the realm of the experimental. In his review of the film, our own David Edelstein said it “takes the horror genre in infectiously strange new directions.” And he’s right. Glazer clearly has more on his mind than telling a tale about something that comes to Earth and harvests men. His film could be interpreted as a meditation on human sexuality, on modern alienation, on the existential chasm between flesh and being — all conveyed through a filmic style that privileges the physical, even as it (mostly) keeps the viewer at an emotional distance.

Similarly, Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive is a genre movie in name only. »

2014 Cannes Film Festival Lineup Announced

This morning, the films were announced for the 67th annual Cannes Film Festival. Included in competition are Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher, Jean-Luc Godard's Goodbye to Language, Tommy Lee Jones's The Homesman, The Artist director Michel Hazanavicius's The Search, David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars, and more. Out of competition, we already knew that Grace of Monaco was to open the whole thing, but the festival will also feature Ryan Gosling's directorial debut, Lost River. Jane Campion is heading up the jury. Read the full lineup below. The festival runs May 15-25. See you there, if we can find enough linen clothing.

Full Line-up »

X-Men Director Bryan Singer Accused of Sexually Abusing 17-Year-Old Boy

The Wrap reports that a lawsuit filed Wednesday in a federal court in Hawaii accuses X-Men: Days of Future Past director Bryan Singer of sexually abusing a teenage boy in 1999, when the boy was 17. The plaintiff, Michael Egan, claims that he was drugged and raped by Singer on multiple occasions.

According to The Wrap, the abuse began in 1998. »

Tatiana Maslany Joins Penn Badgley in Revenge Flick The Paper Store

Deadline reports that Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany will join Gossip Girl star turned indie rocker Penn Badgley in The Paper Store, a revenge story about a former college student who gets paid to forge essays, the client who becomes her lover, and their professor. Relative unknown Nicholas Gray is attached to direct and Richard Kind will co-star, while all the other characters will be presumably be played by Tatiana Maslany.

  • Posted 4/17/14 at 12:07 AM

John Legend Is Working on a Found Footage Dance Movie

John Legend and Step Up 5 writer John Swetnam are teaming up for a dance movie called Breaking Through, a "documentary-style dance drama for the YouTube generation." (Finally!) According to Deadline, the project will be the first of its kind to combine dance movies and found footage. So if you enjoyed Step Ups 1 through 5 but found yourself complaining about the overly high production values, boy, do we have the film for you.

  • Posted 4/16/14 at 10:30 PM
  • Sequels

A Mrs. Doubtfire Sequel Is in the Works

In news that has hit us with the force of a run-by fruiting, The Hollywood Reporter announced this evening that a Mrs. Doubtfire sequel is finally in the offing. The reboot would see Robin Williams reuniting with director Chris Columbus, with Elf scribe David Berenbaum attached to write. A sequel has been in the works for years, but only became active again early this year with Berenbaum's involvement. THR reports that "Williams and Columbus are attached and hopeful." We're hopeful too! Along with Dumb and Dumber To, this would mark the second beloved early-'90s comedy classic to get the long-awaited reboot treatment. We think we speak for everyone when we say: Don't screw this up, poppets.