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Guardians of the Galaxy Is the Highest Grossing Film of 2014

Star-Lord is single-handedly rescuing a lackluster summer box office. The funny-kid cousin of the Marvel universe, Guardians of the Galaxy took the Labor Day weekend box office with a $16.3 million haul thus far, making it the top grossing film of 2014 with over $274 million (over Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which brought in $259 million), and the first movie projected to cross the $300 million threshold. Another movie with surprisingly long legs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brought in $11.7 million over its fourth weekend, giving it $162 million overall. The Chloe Moretz YA tearjerker If I Stay came in third with $9.2 million, and the horror flick As Above/So Below debuted at $8.3 million, edging out Let’s Be Cops, at $8.2 million. Pierce Brosnan’s thriller The November Man did poorly in its debut, bringing in just $7.6 million. Overall, the summer box office is down over 20 percent from last year, making it one of the weakest years in the past decade. We’ll probably just remember this as the summer of Chris Pratt.

  • Posted 8/29/14 at 3:45 PM
  • Video

Brighten Your Day With This Delightful Number From the Belle and Sebastian Musical

It’s a quiet Friday and you’ve got the whole holiday weekend ahead of you, so why not start the proceedings on a light and airy musical note? We’ve got just the thing for that: an exclusive three-minute musical sequence from the new movie God Help the Girl (out September 5), written and directed by Belle and Sebastian front man Stuart Murdoch and spun through with songs from his 2009 album of the same name.

Watch the charming clip. »

4 Summer Movie Lessons Hollywood Must Learn

This year's summer movie season can be summed up with one long, worryingly elongated word: Yiiiiiiiiikes. Not a whole lot worked this summer, and even the films that were meant to be big mostly came in well under studio expectations. It was the kind of season that could prompt some soul-searching from Hollywood executives, though we're not likely to see the results of that course correction for quite a while, since summer movies can take so many years to make (and these days, studios have their schedules plotted out until the year 2020). Still, if they're willing to listen, here are four things we learned this summer that Hollywood executives would be wise to take heed of.

Please, make more summer movies that star women. »

What’s New on Netflix Streaming: September 2014

At the beginning of (and throughout) every month, Netflix Streaming adds new movies and TV shows to its library. Here is a list of some that you might be interested in. Some of these may have been added halfway through or near the end of August, but we're going to include them in this roundup anyway since you might 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.

It's Robert Redford versus Mother Earth. »

The Highs and Lows of the 2014 Summer Movie Season

It’s time to put another summer movie season behind us, and for many in Hollywood, September is arriving none too soon: Several big-budget spectaculars underperformed this summer, and the box office was the weakest it’s been in years. Still, if you looked beyond those would-be blockbusters, there were plenty of gems to go see, and they deserve their end-of-summer due, too. Here, then, are the moments and movies that Vulture considered the summer season’s finest … and the lowlights we had to muddle through to get to them.

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You Won’t Have Any Idea What Is Happening in As Above, So Below

Just when you thought the found-footage horror subgenre was starting to die, As Above, So Below doubles down on it. In so doing, it also demonstrates some of the fundamental limitations of the subgenre. It may even remind you, by way of counterexample, why such films took hold in the first place. Afterwards, I thought fondly back to The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, and [Rec], wondering what they did so right that As Above, So Below so, so doesn’t.

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Bill Murray Did Another Wonderful, Very Bill Murray Thing Last Night

Bill Murray, among many things, is a minor-league baseball-team impresario, with an ownership stake in a handful of teams. With one of his teams, the St. Paul Saints, playing their last game at their old field, Murray was there to be particularly hands-on. As you can see below, Murray took tickets and caught the first pitch (to hilarious results). He also made a few people see the world as a more wonderful place, where anything can happen, even on a midwestern weeknight.

Starred Up Is an Edgy, Teeming Prison Thriller

As Eric Love, a violent teenager transferred earlier than normal — “starred up,” in the local argot — to a maximum-security adult British prison, the young actor Jack O’Connell lopes down the main corridor of cells radiating insolence, ready to strike back before anyone thinks to strike first. It’s a remarkable performance, both huge and subtle, not just for the ways in which O’Connell suggests Eric’s volatility in repose, but also for how he evokes the teen’s bitter wit. O’Connell wrinkles his forehead in mock bemusement the way Sean Connery used to, as if Eric is puzzling out a question to which he knows — and has always known, since before he could talk, probably — the answer. That answer is, of course, that he can depend on no one, and that everyone on earth is inclined to hurt him. He has barely arrived in the prison before he makes a run at the guards, latching onto one’s testicles with his teeth, practically inviting them to beat him down so that he can rise back up, bloody but in control. His hair-trigger hostility to authority figures makes things very confusing when, in the course of Starred Up, he’s confronted by two father figures, one an earnest group therapist named Oliver Baumer (Rupert Friend), the other his actual father, Neville (Ben Mendelsohn), a dominating inmate whom Eric barely knows. The psychodrama is so thick, you can cut it with a straight razor.

Starred Up is an edgy, teeming thriller, brilliantly disorienting, making strange a world we thought we knew. »

  • Posted 8/29/14 at 12:18 AM
  • Movies

See Downton’s Dan Stevens Get Into a Bar Fight

We already knew from previous trailers that Dan Stevens was going to playing a pretty sketchy character in his new movie The Guest. In this clip, we see him engaging in further behavior unbefitting of a Crawley: namely, flying into a Hulk-esque rage and beating up a bunch of teens at a bar. Lord Grantham would be so disappointed.

The Rewrite Trailer: A Classic Hugh Grant Rom-Com

Here’s a trailer for The Rewrite, a classic, Hugh Grant–circa–early–aughts rom-com about a sleazy, out-of-work screenwriter who starts teaching a college class so he can hit on younger women and upset people with comments like “I’m just a little bit tired of female empowerment.” Fortunately, age-appropriate crush Marisa Tomei turns up to help him see the error of his ways and to "rewrite" his life. Or something!

George Takei Is Always That Happy — Just Ask George Takei’s Husband

According to the person who knows him best, George Takei doesn’t become the George Takei whose unique voice you know and love until he’s had a cup of green tea. “When he wakes up in the morning, his voice is like this,” says the actor’s husband, Brad Takei, using a high-pitched chipmunk voice. “Then I give him some hot green-tea and he gets into the groove.” Brad, who married George in 2008 and took his last name, was speaking with us last month in the Chart Room of the Queen Mary 2, the Cunard line’s flagship ocean liner, while we waited for the “trans-Atlantic premiere” of To Be Takei, which opened in theaters last weekend. Though the documentary about the Star Trek alum’s life is George-centric, his partner of 27 years plays a heavy part. After the screening, George joked, “He stole the show from me!”

The documentary is as much about Brad as it is about George. »

Terry Gilliam on 13 of the Most Difficult Scenes He Ever Shot

Sometimes it’s a wonder he gets any movies made at all. Over the course of his legendary career, Terry Gilliam (BrazilTime Bandits, 12 Monkeys) has built a reputation as a director who likes to try for the impossible — be they shots, scenes, or entire movies. This is, after all, a man who made a romantic comedy about homeless people, madness, and death (The Fisher King). A man who made a microbudget, absurdist, effects-laden coming-of-age fantasy (Tideland). A man who made a film of Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas that's just as nutty, if not more so, as the original book.

Sometimes his job is difficult because he sets impossible challenges for himself. »

The November Man Is the Spy-Movie Equivalent of Airport Reading

The November Man is a nasty piece of work — the kind of movie where it’s not enough for a bad guy to get a sniper’s bullet through the brain in close-up; he also has to smash his head against the side of a boat as his lifeless body plummets to the water. (He’s on a boat.) Based on the late author Bill Granger’s popular series of Cold War–era espionage novels, this thriller, updated for our times and starring Pierce Brosnan as Granger’s CIA agent hero Bill Devereaux, is appropriately pulpy — fuss-free and fast. If it doesn’t transcend its genre origins, I suspect it’s because it doesn’t want to.

The film opens with a scenario typical of movies like this: the job gone wrong. »

Meet the Rebel Warriors in the Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 Posters

More Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 character posters have dropped, and they've traded the last round's gloomy grayscale for this dark, intense series depicting District 13's rebel warriors, machine guns and crossbows at the ready. The rebels — the soldiers and film production crew who join Katniss in leading the revolt against Panem — include Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and new characters Messalla (Evan Ross), Boggs (House of Cards' Mahershala Ali), Castor (Wes Chatham), Pollux (Elden Henson), and Cressida (Game of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer), who looks especially fearsome with her half-shaved do. Still no signs of Katniss, but she's bound to show up eventually, right?

Underworld Is Getting a Reboot

Underworld, the vampire-versus-werewolf series starring Kate Beckinsale, is getting a reboot, according to The Hollywood Reporter. As you may recall, the original film came out in 2003 and led to three sequels, the most recent being Underworld: Awakening back in 2012, which is pretty recent even by today's lightning-fast reboot standards. But whatever. Reboot everything!

  • Posted 8/27/14 at 9:56 PM

Bryan Singer’s Accuser Dropped His Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

Plaintiff Michael Egan has dropped his lawsuit against X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse director Bryan Singer, which accused Singer of sexually abusing Egan when he was a minor. On Wednesday, a federal judge in Hawaii granted Egan's motion to dismiss the case "without prejudice," meaning that Egan could file a case with the same claims again later. Egan had been representing himself after his lawyers withdrew from the case in late July following deteriorating attorney-client relations.

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How Getting Wild Saved a ‘Lost’ Reese Witherspoon

“Honestly, I’ve done some movies that were really challenging, and I’ve done some movies that aren’t challenging at all,” confesses Reese Witherspoon, who dug in deep for a suite of provocative fall projects. In addition to a starring role in the Lost Boys of Sudan drama The Good Lie, Witherspoon produced David Fincher’s highly anticipated missing-wife thriller Gone Girl and pops up in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice. She also took on her meatiest role in years with Wild (out December 5), which is based on the best-selling memoir by Cheryl Strayed and casts Witherspoon as a soul-searching woman embarking on a thousand-mile hike. “It’s rare to have the kind of opportunities I had making this film,” says Witherspoon, “and I treasured it.”

"For someone who’s been doing this for as long as I’ve been doing it, it’s like, 'Oh my gosh, finally!'" »

  • Posted 8/27/14 at 12:00 PM
  • Spotted

New Pictures of Nikki Finke Emerge, Prove She’s Just a Person Like You and Me

In June, Hollywood journalist Nikki Finke launched an eponymous website following her drama-filled departure from Deadline.com. Last week, BuzzFeed reported that NikkiFinke.com was on the verge of shuttering following demands from lawyers representing her former employer, Penske Media Corporation, which owns Deadline in addition to Variety. Much schadenfreude was had. As we wrote last November, a new confirmed photo of Finke has not been published since 2008, which is bizarre because she lives in Los Angeles, a city that happens to be full of photographers both professional and amateur. People want to know what Finke looks like these days because she has terrorized Hollywood for years, and when someone yells at you on the phone, you want to have a picture of her in your mind. One must know the face of the enemy. So: A new, childishly named site has arisen with what it purports to be brand-new photos of Finke emerging from her apartment building. The Hollywood Reporter cites two sources who support the site's claim that this is Finke in the flesh. So, this is apparently Nikki Finke. Happy?

Tyler Perry on Gone Girl’s Ending and Singing With Ben Affleck

Tyler Perry doesn’t step in front of another director’s camera often, but he’s glad he did so for David Fincher. “He’s brilliant,” says Perry, who stars in the exacting filmmaker’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl as the magnificently named Tanner Bolt, lawyer for Ben Affleck’s character, a man accused of his missing wife’s murder. Perry spoke with Vulture about the process.

"If I had known who David Fincher was, and his body of work ... I would have said no." »

Next Big Thing Jack O’Connell on Nude Scenes, Starred Up, and Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken

If you recognize Jack O'Connell as the rascally Cook from the British series Skins, then congratulations: You got in on the ground floor, because soon enough, everybody's going to be asking who the 24-year-old actor is. The cornerstone of O'Connell's rising Hollywood profile will come this Christmas when he stars in the highly anticipated WWII drama Unbroken, directed by Angelina Jolie, but in the meantime, you can check him out in this week's gritty British prison drama Starred Up, which makes good use of O'Connell's bravado and tightly coiled intensity. (Two traits he shares with Jolie, in addition to their plentiful tattoos.) Last week, the English actor rang up Vulture to talk about how far he's willing to go onscreen.

"The director wouldn't have been able to use wider angles if I didn't go starkers, you know?" »