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Sundance Review: Cobie Smulders, Guy Pearce, and Kevin Corrigan Reinvent the Rom-Com in Andrew Bujalski’s Results

Set in the world of Texas fitness instructors and starring some big-name actors, Andrew Bujalski’s Results looks at first like a concerted attempt to cross over into the world of mainstream rom-coms. But look again. Bujalski, a onetime “mumblecore” wunderkind (yeah, though he hates the M-word, and with good reason), has always toyed structurally with familiar stories. And Results feels so free-form, so liberated from the shackles of genre, that it becomes its own wonderfully alive and unpredictable thing. Plus, it’s funny as shit.

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Watch the Trailer for Amira & Sam, Featuring Paul Wesley in a Very Different Role

Conventional romantic comedies may be on the wane, but there's an upside to that: These days, unique spins on that genre finally have the room to break out. Consider, then, the trailer for Sean Mullin's Amira & Sam, which has found a warm reception on the film-festival circuit and opens this weekend. It stars Freaks and Geeks alum Martin Starr (here all grown up and filled out) as war veteran Sam, who strikes up a relationship with Amira (Dina Shihabi), who's at risk of being deported back to Iraq. The love that grows between them is almost as unconventional as the film's third important piece of casting: Vampire Diaries heartthrob Paul Wesley gets into the mix as a monologue-spouting relative of Sam's who confidently pushed shady hedge-fund deals.

"My schedule's been pretty full doing television work for the past five or six years, and I only have a couple months to do something else," Wesley told Vulture last week. "If I'm going to do something in my off-season, it's got to be something pretty different than what I do every day, and this character [in Amira & Sam] is a really misguided Wall Street guy whose moral compass is a little off. I've never played a character like that before. I didn't know anything about Wall Street, to be honest with you. I hope I pulled it off!"

Despite the massive success of Vampire Diaries, Wesley has spent his career mostly eschewing big studio films in favor of passion-project indies like this one. "I have a real deep connection with New York City independent filmmaking," he said. "I grew up in Jersey and spent a lot of my childhood in Manhattan, always around this indie-filmmaker world." In fact, it's while hanging around the production office of another indie that Wesley met Amira & Sam director Sean Mullin, and after he screened Shihabi's audition tape, "I knew the movie would be phenomenal."

Now that Wesley has directed two Vampire Diaries episodes, does he have plans to go off and make his own indie? "I've learned so much doing Vampire Diaries so that when I really do it and put a sizable budget together, I don't want to let people down!" he said. "But it will happen. It's in the works."

Abderrahmane Sissako’s Timbuktu Is Shattering

In our Western-imperialist culture, “Timbuktu” is slang for the outer fringe of East Bumfuck, but it’s the center of the world in Abderrahmane Sissako’s shattering Timbuktu — a center that cannot hold. The city is on the edge of the Sahara Desert in Mali with one foot in Islamic culture and the other in West African, and so the film has the rare distinction of being in six different languages: French, Arabic, Bambara, Songhay, Tamasheq, and English (the last employed in desperation when a character’s Arabic is too lousy to be understood). With all its colliding tongues and mores, the region is the perfect setting for farce — but in this case, tragic farce. There’s always tragedy when people have guns and are righteous about using them.

You can intuit from the opening — Islamic soldiers firing from a jeep at a young gazelle — that there will be force and that it will be terrible. »

Chris Messina Got Very Naked at Sundance

Let’s recap the R-rated bounty we’ve already received at what Vulture Kyle has dubbed “The Sundance of Sex”: Sebastian Stan was involved in the most gymnastic penetration ever captured onscreen; Jack Black hooked up with a certain paramour of Liz Lemon’s; Alexander Skarsgård took his clothes off to aid the sexual awakening of a teenager; Jason Sudeikis digitally pleasured a bottle of green tea; and Adam Scott and Jason Schwartzman danced full-frontal while swinging their prosthetic dicks with joy.

As of today, add Chris Messina to that august list. »

Handsome Aussie Liam Hemsworth Might Save America in the New Independence Day

According to the Wrap, Liam Hemsworth, a very nice young actor who has been to America a few times, has been offered a lead role in Roland Emmerich's upcoming Independence Day sequel, ID Forever. He'd star alongside original cast members Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman. The film reportedly takes place in an alternate universe where humans are much more technologically advanced, and Liam Hemsworth is as charismatic as Will Smith.

Sundance: Where Jason Sudeikis Pleasures a Bottle of Green Tea

Given that this has been such a sexually charged Sundance, you might expect Leslye Headland's R-rated rom-com Sleeping With Other People to be among the most risqué of the movies showing here in Park City, especially since it stars Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie as sex addicts. Certainly, Sleeping has a lot of dirty talk and even a briefly glimpsed encounter or two, but this is still the sort of mainstream-skewing movie in which recognizable actresses keep their bras on during the love scenes, as opposed to the sort of Sundance entry we've been getting this week that's chock-a-block with all sorts of full-frontal. What it does have, however, is Jason Sudeikis giving Alison Brie a memorable masturbation tutorial by fingering an empty bottle of green tea for several minutes.

"I let Jason pick the bottle." »

McCarthy, Wiig, McKinnon, Jones: Here Are Your Ghostbusters

After eons of speculation and a tremendous amount of wishing, Paul Feig has cast his all-female Ghostbusters: As expected, Melissa McCarthy will star, alongside Bridesmaids co-star Kristin Wiig and Saturday Night Live current cast members Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon. According to The Hollywood Reporter, only McCarthy has officially signed on, while the other three are in final negotiations, but Feig's tweet of the four actresses makes it seem like it's a done deal. No word yet on character descriptions, but at least the question of who ya gonna call has been answered.

  • Posted 1/27/15 at 3:20 PM
  • Rumors

Chris Pratt Might Be the New Indiana Jones

The pop-culture ouroboros we consider our world strikes again, now with the idea that Disney may reboot Indiana Jones — and according to Deadline, it's envisioning Chris Pratt as everyone's favorite archaeology professor. A whip-wielding Pratt is just a rumor at this point, so don't get too excited, but given the revivals of Stars Trek and Wars, plus Jurassic Park, plus, you know, everything, the idea of a new Indiana Jones does't seem so far-fetched. (Let us not speak of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.) Time to start brushing up on your Jehovah spellings, everyone.

Sundance Review: Jason Segel Is Actually Pretty Great As David Foster Wallace in The End of the Tour

To its credit, The End of the Tour makes it very clear that David Foster Wallace would have fucking hated The End of the Tour. Based on David Lipsky’s memoir, James Ponsoldt’s film looks at a few days in the life of the late author during the 1996 book tour for his breakout novel Infinite Jest. Lipsky, played in the film by Jesse Eisenberg, was trying to write a Rolling Stone profile of Wallace, played here by Jason Segel, and found his subject to be pathologically afraid of the attention — terrified of looking like a phony or trying to capitalize on his newfound celebrity. The film may look like a biopic, but it’s ultimately about that very fear.

I couldn’t take my eyes off Segel. »

Sia’s Surprisingly Romantic Fifty Shades of Grey Song, ‘Salted Wound’

And here it is: Sia’s contribution to the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack. "Salted Wound" is actually more sweet than salty, but maybe the salt comes from the tears you’ll cry when you listen? It’s quite romantic: "Don’t break / Yeah, you’ll pull through it / You’re safe." Perhaps it’ll soundtrack one of the many, many love scenes we’re expecting from Hollywood’s big contribution to this year’s Valentine’s Day.

Sundance Review: Ewan McGregor Is Jesus and the Devil in the Haunting Last Days in the Desert

In Rodrigo García’s Last Days in the Desert, Ewan McGregor plays Jesus and the Devil, and he brings a surprising amount of sincerity to both seeker and snake. It sounds like stunt casting, but it’s not. Many of the Devil’s temptations, questions, and asides feel like they could be coming from within Yeshua, or “the Holy Man,” as he’s referred to in the film. The Devil toys with Jesus’ own insecurities — whether that’s meant metaphorically or literally, you can decide for yourself. Last Days in the Desert focuses almost entirely on the time Jesus spent in the desert before coming to Jerusalem, and the first words he utters are to the sky are, “Father, where are you?” This is a portrait of the prophet as a man of doubt.

Jesus is looking for God, but all he finds is an endless stretch of desert. »

Sundance: Watch Robert Redford and Nick Nolte Get Ready to Hike in A Walk in the Woods

Who would have thought that one of the more polarizing movies at this year’s Sundance would be the one where Robert Redford and Nick Nolte play old guys trying to walk the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail? (Seems an appropriate movie to talk about in the middle of a blizzard, no?) The controversy that had Twitter and Hitfix aflutter was whether this slight, pleasurable movie that my dad is really going to love — an adaptation of Bill Bryson’s humorous memoir, A Walk in the Woods — should have screened at Sundance at all. Did it take away the spot of a smaller film simply because Redford runs this festival?

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If You Want Joss Whedon to Direct More Avengers Movies, Better Start Begging Now

Late last year, a rumor went around that the Russo Brothers, the team behind the last and next Captain America movies, were being eyed to direct Avengers 3 and 4 (a.k.a. the Infinity War Part 1 and 2). Now that still hasn't been substantiated, but it did get at one lingering question about the franchise: Is Joss Whedon coming back? Well, now it appears that the answer is probably no. "I couldn't imagine doing this again," Whedon told Empire. He explained: "It's enormously hard, and it'd be, by [the time Avengers 3 and 4 were finished], a good five years since I created anything that was completely my own. So it's very doubtful that I would take on the two-part Infinity War movie that would eat up the next four years of my life. I obviously still want to be a part of the Marvel Universe — I love these guys — but it ain't easy. This year has been more like running three shows than any year of my life. It is bonkers." May we direct your begging to @JossWhedon.

Beauty and the Beast Should Be All Harry Potter People

Emma Watson is going to play Belle in the upcoming live-action version of Beauty and the Beast. That seems lovely, no? She seems extremely capable of playing Belle, since she was great as Hermione, and Hermione and Belle have a lot in common. But there's no need to stop there: We can populate the entire Beauty and the Beast cast with former Harry Potter folk.

No, Draco is not Gaston. »

Patton Oswalt on Selma’s Oscar Snub and the Racist Backlash to the New Star Wars Trailer

When the Oscar nominations were announced two weeks ago, Patton Oswalt mocked the Academy on Twitter for snubbing Selma. So, last week, Vulture spoke with Oswalt before he took the stage to host this year’s Artios Awards in Beverly Hills and had him expound upon his comments. Oswalt proceeded to go off. Here is what he had to say:

"It's just logic. It goes beyond race." »

Selma’s Ava DuVernay to Make a Katrina-Set Murder-Mystery Movie

Oooh: Ava DuVernay is set to write, produce, and direct a film centered around Hurricane Katrina that's described as "a sweeping love story and complex murder mystery." DuVernay's Selma star, David Oyelowo, is also in negotiations to co-produce and star. Will Sean Penn be involved? Knowing him, probably. Stay tuned. 

Michael Keaton Is Into Your Crush on His Hot Son

Ever since he got an emotional shout-out in his father's Golden Globes speech, mild-mannered songwriter Sean Douglas has transformed into the internet superhero Michael Keaton's Hot Son. Now Keaton tells E! he's proud of his son's new identity as an online crush object. "He's a good guy," the actor said on the SAGs red carpet. "He's a nice person and he's a handsome dude." Douglas — who, amazingly enough, is the man behind Jason Derulo's "Wiggle" — will be attending the Oscars with his father, where he will likely be rooting for Eddie Redmayne just to spare himself more embarrassment.

  • Posted 1/26/15 at 12:26 PM

The Story Behind Sundance Smash Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

I love this movie. I love this movie so, so, so much. Mere minutes into Sunday afternoon’s Sundance screening of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, I started involuntarily whispering those words to the fellow journalist sitting next to me. I laughed hard many, many times. I bawled for minutes on end. And like the rest of the audience, I rose to my feet to applaud in the dark while the credits were rolling, tears still streaming down my face. 

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Emma Watson Will Play Belle in Live-Action Beauty and the Beast

In what seems like a strange move for the former Hogwarts student, Emma Watson will join Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast as Belle. Does the story have some sort of sentimental meaning? Is it because writer Stephen Chbosky, who directed Watson in his The Perks of Being a Wallflower, will pen the script? Perhaps. She wrote on her Facebook today: "It was such a big part of my growing up, it almost feels surreal that I'll get to dance to 'Be Our Guest' and sing 'Something There.' My six year old self is on the ceiling – heart bursting. Time to start some singing lessons." Good luck. 

Emile Hirsch Might Have Assaulted a Film Executive

A woman who works as an executive at Paramount Pictures alleged that actor Emile Hirsch assaulted her early Sunday morning at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. "Page Six" reported that police responded to a call at Tao nightclub around 3:30 a.m., after the anonymous exec told security there was a problem between her and the 29-year-old actor. "Something happened between the movie exec and Emile, and she said she had been assaulted and asked security to call the police," a witness told "Page Six." "Emile didn’t leave the scene, and calmly waited for the police to arrive, and spoke with them until around 5 a.m., after which he went home with his friends. No arrests were made."

She didn't press charges at the scene. »