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  • Posted 2/6/16 at 5:34 PM
  • Movies

Hey Girl, Nicholas Sparks Says No One Wanted to Be Noah in The Notebook

A million memes of Ryan Gosling seducing you with his eloquent feminist speak wouldn't have happened had Gosling not landed the very sexy role of Noah in The Notebook. Surprisingly, Gosling didn't have much competition for the role, though. According to Nicholas Sparks, via an IMDb Asks interview, no one wanted to play Noah: "It was really interesting because a lot of the actors said, ‘Well, what’s Noah’s arc?’" He went on, “It’s a guy who falls in love and then he just kinda does nothing, and then waits for her to show up and then he’s there and he’s still in love and then at the end of the film, well, he’s still in love. Where’s the arc? Ryan Gosling came in and he really brought that story to life.” (At least Sparks is cognizant that his characters aren't characters.) Films based on Sparks's novels tend to be not so great, though they occasionally have puppies in them. But The Notebook was a mega-hit and turned Gosling into a sensitive heartthrob. And the rest was history, girl. 

Regression Is a Disappointing Genre Exercise From the Great Alejandro Amenabar

Hey, remember Alejandro Amenabar? For certain viewers, the Spanish director seemed well on his way to becoming one of the great saviors of genre cinema in the late 1990s and early 2000s — the kind of guy who could take otherwise tired horror and science-fiction concepts and give them new life. His breakthrough 1997 hit Open Your Eyes (remade — inferiorly — by Cameron Crowe as Vanilla Sky), offered a mind-fuck psychological sci-fi thriller that was actually moving and not cheap and manipulative. His Nicole Kidman–starring classic The Others was the rare big-twist horror hit that actually improved upon second viewing. Later, the stylized quadriplegic drama The Sea Inside won an Oscar and firmly established Javier Bardem as one of the finest actors of his generation. His last film was 2009’s Agora, an expensive historical drama that dared to suggest the ancient world’s shift towards Christianity wasn’t necessarily the greatest thing to ever happen; it starred Rachel Weisz as a brilliant pagan scientist in Alexandria who ran afoul of religious zealots.

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The Choice Isn’t a Good Movie, But It Has Puppies

Every Nicholas Sparks adaptation is a contract. The subgenre comes with certain deliverables: Beautiful star-crossed lovers, sure, but also pleasant, comfortable settings (usually somewhere in the Carolinas), mild class-and/or-cultural conflict, mystical connections (in one, a woman’s son winds up with her beloved’s heart), and of course a tragic twist which then prompts a late-inning transformation of agony into hope. Oh, and aphorisms. Lots and lots of aphorisms. (From The Last Song: “Truth only means something when it's hard to admit.” From Dear John: “The saddest people I've ever met in life are the ones who don't care deeply about anything at all.” From this one: “If you see a man sleeping on a cold floor, there’s sure to be a beautiful woman nearby.”) These aren’t just stories, they’re lifestyles to be adopted — ways of being in the world. And The Choice is one of the more extreme iterations of Brand Sparks, cinematically speaking. It contains both the best and the worst of what we’ve come to expect from his work.

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John Krasinski on His Successful Sundance Doubleheader

A trip to the Sundance Film Festival would be nerve-racking for most filmmakers, but John Krasinski had double the concerns going into this year's edition: In addition to producing Kenneth Lonergan's tragic drama Manchester by the Sea, he also starred and directed in The Hollars, a family dramedy about a man who returns to his hometown to take care of his sick mother (Margo Martindale). Fortunately, Krasinski's time in Park City went about as well as he could have hoped, since Manchester earned rave reviews and sold to Amazon for eye-popping numbers, while The Hollars was picked up by Sony Pictures Classics near the tail end of the festival. Back in Park City, he sat down with Vulture to let us know how it was all going.

"To have people walk out crying is the best compliment I could get." »

  • Posted 2/5/16 at 6:12 PM
  • Props

Martin Is Not Happy Kurt Russell Smashed Its Priceless Antique Guitar in Hateful Eight

When C.F. Martin & Co. lent a priceless, 140-year-old guitar to Quentin Tarantino's Hateful Eight, it was on the understanding that it would be returned unharmed. Seeing that the film's script involved Kurt Russell smashing the instrument in a fit of rage, the production came up with a skillful workaround: Between shots, they would swap the guitar out with one of six replicas made precisely for that purpose. Except that isn't quite what happened. As the film's sound mixer Mark Ulano recalled this week, "Somehow that didn’t get communicated to Kurt ... Kurt shattered the antique guitar and everyone was pretty freaked out," including Jennifer Jason Leigh, whose authentic look of shock apparently delighted Tarantino.

Though those involved with the production swore Martin took the loss in stride, that was apparently because the company didn't quite understand just how the guitar got destroyed. After reading about Ulano's remarks on blogs like anyone else, Martin Guitar Museum director Dick Boak gave a stern statement to Reverb, explaining how "distressed" the company was by the news:

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  • Posted 2/5/16 at 4:53 PM

Samuel L. Jackson, Mad Max, and Susan Sontag: My Road Trip With A.O. Scott

One day in the spring of 1998, I tagged along with a friend of mine who was making a covert pilgrimage to the New England headquarters of the Church of Scientology. Her purpose was research. She was writing a paper on its then-disputed legal status as a religion. I was along on a lark. We both took the Scientology personality test, which I sensed was meant to measure some combination of self-confidence and non-fuck-up-ness, and presumably to find some exploitable deficit. I’m proud to say that, in all but one column, my scores were very high. In that column, I hit near rock bottom.

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Your Boyfriends Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Channing Tatum Are Making a Movie-Musical About Pilots Who Sing and Dance

Channing Tatum has caught dancing fever ... and he's infected Joseph Gordon-Levitt! THR reports that the pair have signed on to star in an untitled musical project written by 21 Jump Street's Michael Bacall. Little is known about the project, but it's reportedly "an R-rated musical comedy featuring two pilots on a misadventure." Yes, that's right — Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, dancing, in pilot's uniforms. Sploosh.

The Coen Brothers’ Star-Packed Hail, Caesar! Feels Overdeliberate

Once branded as essentially sophomoric, Joel and Ethan Coen have, over the past decade, established their artistic and philosophical seriousness, creating their own, distinctive border world straddling farce and tragedy. But they’re still kind of sophomoric. Nothing turns them on as much as fooling around with what they’ve called “movie fodder” — tired genre archetypes plunked down in radically different contexts and given a fresh, antic spin. Their amalgamations can be feats of genius, like their stoner-gumshoe farrago The Big Lebowski. Or they can pretty much lie there, like much of their new, star-packed comedy, Hail, Caesar!, which is nothing but movie fodder.

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Every Coen Brothers Movie, Ranked From Worst to Best

Joel and Ethan Coen’s new film, Hail, Caesar!, finally opened this week, propelled by many of the hallmarks of their filmography: Comically dim characters engaging in a variety of conspiracies and double-crosses against the background of a meticulously re-created and reimagined world (in this case, Hollywood in the 1950s). Funny thing about the Coens: They are two of the most original filmmakers American cinema has given us, and yet they consistently stress the same motifs and themes throughout their works. Every Coen Brothers movie is distinctive in its own right — you’d never mistake one for another — and yet they constantly traffic in the same story elements, characters, and situations. So much so that, way back in 2008, we actually published this handy chart/guide to creating your own Coen Brothers movie.

In other words, there’s a through-line that connects Nicolas Cage’s ex-con in Raising Arizona and William H. Macy’s car dealer in Fargo and Josh Brolin’s Vietnam vet in No Country for Old Men, just as there’s one that connects John Turturro’s crusading playwright in Barton Fink and Michael Stuhlbarg’s upright science prof in A Serious Man and Oscar Isaac’s bitter folkie in Inside Llewyn Davis. Over the years, even as they’ve collected awards and admirers, the Coens have also been taken to task for the remove at which they hold their characters. But such a criticism ignores the sheer love they clearly also have for these figures. Yes, it’d be easy to see the Coens’ portrayals of these idealists and dim dreamers as mockery. But then, why do these characters resonate so?

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Did You Hear the Indiana Jones Audio Easter Egg in The Force Awakens? Study Every Single Sound in the Movie, and Make Your Best Guess!

Remember when that Nazi’s face melted off at the end of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark? It turns out that The Force Awakens uses that exact same sound in its infamous Nazi face-melting scene! Oh, that wasn’t The Force Awakens? Then what the hell was I watching? According to their interview with The Nerdist, TFW supervising sound editor Matthew Wood and sound designer David Acord did sneak a little Indy into one of Han Solo’s scenes. If the tentacled rathtar chasing our heroes through the Millennium Falcon sounded like it was rolling, your ears must be like dog's ears or something. “I put in the sound of Ben Burtt’s boulder-roll sound from Raiders of the Lost Ark when the boulder is chasing Indy,” reveals Acord. You can listen to the entire interview here. Meanwhile, I have to go back to that Blockbuster and figure out what I rented. Oh, Blockbusters don’t exist anymore? Then what the hell was that place? Who was that guy?

James Franco Is Turning Zola’s Story Into a Movie, Because of Course He Is

In today's greatest troll: Remember Zola's too-good-to-be-true Twitter tale of sex work, drugs, lies, and murder that went viral last October? Well, James Franco read it, too, and he's turning it into the movie we all knew was inevitable. He's reportedly signed on to direct and star in Zola Tells All: The Real Story Behind the Greatest Stripper Saga Ever Tweeted, based on Zola's infamous "hoe trip" to Florida, but, weirdly, adapted from David Kushner's Rolling Stone feature about the 20-year-old Hooter's waitress/stripper whose real name is Aziah Wells. And while it's unclear who Franco will play in this bizarre scenario, our money's on Jarrett, the mentally unstable boyfriend of "this white bitch" Jess, the woman who, in the story, involved Zola on a wild night of prostitution and stripping, along with Jess's violent pimp, Z. Andrew Neel and Mike Roberts — who both recently worked with Franco on Sundance entry Goat — will write the script. From this day forward, February 4, 2016, will forever be known as the date Hollywood truly got lost in the sauce. And also the day Black Twitter died. RIP.

The Complete List of Movies Sold at Sundance 2016, and Why Amazon and Netflix Went All Out

Sundance 2016 is in the rearview mirror, and with its passing, two paradigms have shifted. First, the headline news: The Birth of a Nation, Nate Parker’s passion project about the rebellion-leading slave Nat Turner, shattered festival records when it sold to prestige-film power players Fox Searchlight for $17.5 million. Rapturously received by Sundance viewers, it’s already being discussed as a possible favorite at the 2017 Oscars, and Fox Searchlight had to beat out a $20 million bid by Netflix to win the rights.

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New Demolition Trailer: Jake Gyllenhaal Is Destroying His Life in Order to Put It All Back Together

Demolition, directed by Dallas Buyers Club and Wild's Jean-Marc Vallée, was supposed to be the movie that got Jake Gyllenhaal over the Oscar hump — until Fox Searchlight decided to release it in April instead of this fall. But the film was still the opening-night selection at last year's Toronto International Film Festival. The indie drama stars Gyllenhaal as an investment banker picking up the pieces (literally) after the death of his wife. As it turns out, the film looks much sunnier than Southpaw, the other movie where Jake Gyllenhaal loses his wife in a tragic accident. As Oscar Wilde once said, to lose one of Jake Gyllenhaal's onscreen wives is a tragedy; to lose two of Jake Gyllenhaal's onscreen wives looks like carelessness. We see a little more of Naomi Watts, the customer service agent who helps pull Gyllenhaal out of a slump in the newest trailer (above); for pure, unfiltered Gyllenhaal glumness, watch the first trailer (below).

Channing Tatum Doesn’t Remember How He Blew His Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift Audition, Which Makes You Suspect He Forgot to Wear a Tank Top

As a man of many talents and even more arm muscles, Channing Tatum seems like a natural fit for the Fast and the Furious films. It’s no surprise, then, that he went in for a role in The Fast and the Furious 3: Tokyo Drift. The mind boggles, however, when you try to imagine how he could have biffed the audition so hard, he himself had to pull the plug. Did Channing forget to mean mug? Did he stare resolutely into the middle distance instead of the far distance? Dear God, can the man not drive?

The 13 Most Insane Moments From This Year’s Sundance Films

At the Sundance Film Festival, as the lights go down and the projector comes on, you truly don't know what you're going to get. In part, this is because Sundance premieres most of its films before the studios have bought them and waged multi-million-dollar ad campaigns that tell you every little thing about a movie before you've had the chance to see it. But it's also because at Sundance, the films are likely to show you things you've never seen before: gross things, shocking things, emotional things, and things that get everyone talking. Here are 13 movie moments where you could almost feel the collective audience WTF as something startling unspooled onscreen.

Including Daniel Radcliffe's postmortem boner. »

Me Before You Trailer: What If Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games Did a Crossover Romantic Drama?

So many of your favorite Britishes from the stage and screen have assembled for this adaptation of Jojo Moyes's weepy best-seller Me Before You: Mr. Bates! Clara! Tywin Lannister! Neville Longbottom! But the two star-crossed actors at the center of this romantic drama are Emilia Clarke, the mother of dragons from Game of Thrones, and Sam Claflin, District 4 hottie Finnick Odair from The Hunger Games. Clarke plays Louisa "Lou" Clark, a 26-year-old working-class girl hired to cheer up the former adrenaline junkie and quadriplegic Will Traynor, played by Claflin. Naturally, they fall in love, and it's beautiful and magical and sad and won't someone please pass the tissues already?

Your First Official Look at Sexy Secretary Chris Hemsworth in Ghostbusters

We're not sure what's sexier: Chris Hemsworth wearing his sexy nerd glasses on a sexy motorcycle on the set of Ghostbusters, or Chris Hemsworth pointing all sexily from his sexy receptionist's desk in his first official sexy photo from Ghostbusters. It's too close to call! Speaking of call, when someone in the movie does do that, they'll get Hemsworth on the other end of his sexy line because he'll be manning the sexy front desk at Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon’s ghostbusting agency. Just look at that sexy shirt strewn all sexily over his computer for some sexy reason. And ooooh, is that a sexy candle we spot burning next to a sexy hat on his sexy desk? On the count of three: Swoon, baby, swoon.

Vin Diesel Just Confirmed That Fast & Furious Trilogy You Might Have Heard About; Here Are the Dates to Prove It

Aside from revisiting Xander Cage, Vin Diesel has also been teasing fans with murmurings of more Fast material — and not just in the form of one sequel, but three, because he's a boy who appreciates a good action movie, regardless of the number. Well, good news: There will be less talking and more racing, as the actor took to social media late Tuesday night to confirm that trilogy you might have heard of, and to offer some clarity in the process. "The studio has asked me to release some very big Fast news," the actor wrote on Instagram earlier in the evening. "As most of you know I like to stay in character, [Xander], for the most part when given the opportunity to make magic. However, it was Toretto Tuesday and the studio gave me big news to share ...  So I will share it." And share he did, with his Toretto Tuesday update officially revealing the next entrants (and release dates) of a now-ten-film saga:

Scope out the dates here: »

Seth Rogen, Zach Galifianakis, and Bill Hader Are Teaming Up for Some Funny Sci-Fi Thing Called The Something

Maybe this'll be something like Dr. Malocchio, the Green Hornet, and the Between Two Ferns host teaming up to create the ultimate space-traveling super squad, or maybe it'll be something else entirely, but Bill Hader, Seth Rogen, and Zach Galifianakis are for sure teaming up for something called The Something. THR reports the movie is a sci-fi comedy about three male space voyagers who stumble upon another ship while stuck on their journey. Point Grey Pictures and Good Universe are producing, with Universal distributing.

"Shit just goes crazy." »

Halle Berry Says It’s ‘Heartbreaking’ She’s Still the Only Woman of Color to Win Best Actress at the Oscars

Of the many actors of color who've spoken out about the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, many have themselves been nominees, but few have belonged to the exclusive club of Oscar winners. Now the first and only woman of color to win the Academy Award for Best Actress has expressed her disappointment over the lack of progress. Halle Berry, speaking at the 2016 Makers Conference on Tuesday, says she never imagined her historic win for Monster's Ball in 2002 would be the last time a woman of color saw that kind of recognition from the Academy:

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