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  • Posted 8/29/15 at 4:38 PM
  • Movies

The Cast for Lee Daniels's Richard Pryor Movie Is Comically Good

The Richard Pryor biopic has been gestating for a long time. 48 Hours director Walter Hill was set to co-write and direct the movie back in 2005, when Pryor was still alive. Mike Epps gave a killer audition and won Pryor's approval. Pryor died shortly thereafter and the movie went stagnant. Then Epps was supposed to play Pryor in a Nina Simone biopic that's had so many problems it might as well be cursed. Now the Pryor film has finally been green-lit, Deadline reports. Lee Daniels is at the helm, filming a script by Bill Condon and Empire collaborator Danny Strong. The cast is stellar: Oprah Winfrey will play Pryor’s grandmother, Eddie Murphy Pryor’s father, and Kate Hudson Pryor’s widow. Pryor, the man who once said, “I’m not a movie star, I’m a booty star,” will still be portrayed by Epps, ten years after he initially won the role. Marlon Wayans briefly had the role when Condon was slated to direct and Adam Sandler was slated to produce, but that didn't work out. (Imagine a Richard Pryor movie produced by Adam Sandler. That'd be like a Beatles biopic produced by Nickelback.)

  • Posted 8/29/15 at 1:41 PM
  • Movies

Russia Kills Its Only LGBT Film Festival

A few months ago, Louis C.K. went to Russia and he hated it. It's hard to blame him, considering the Russian government's lousy stances on many social and equality issues, and now Russia has taken another step backwards: Moscow Premiere, a charitable film festival and the only festival in Russia to champion films by members of the LGBT community, has been canceled. Citing economic hardship, Moscow's culture committee pulled funding as the festival was about to begin its 13th year. It will be replaced by a "positive, youth-orientated" festival called the The Youth Festival of Life Affirming Film, which enlightens Russia's youth by prohibiting people under 18 years of age from watching movies that depict homosexuality in any way. Moscow Premiere head, film critic Vyacheslav Shmyrov, told Russian newspaper Noviye Izvestia, “We cannot affiliate to the new festival — not least in terms of our self-esteem.” He said Moscow Premiere, which did not charge admission, existed mainly as a “social mission” for those who can't afford to go to the movies. The lineup for the Youth Festival hasn't been announced yet, but expect a marathon of unintentionally homoerotic films with plots featuring teenagers' love and admiration for President Putin.

  • Posted 8/29/15 at 10:05 AM
  • Movies

Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith On Movies, Porn, and Working in Video Stores in the 1980s

Tom Roston's upcoming book I Lost It at the Video Store (a play on Pauline Kael's classic I Lost It at the Movies), a gaggle of filmmakers share stories of their lives as video store clerks. It should come as no surprise that the two most quotable participants are over-caffeinated movie buff Quentin Tarantino and comic connoisseur Kevin Smith. Below are a few tidbits from the upcoming book, via Entertainment Weekly. (Then take our Tarantino Superfan Quiz and see how well you know the filmmaker.)

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  • Posted 8/28/15 at 6:15 PM
  • Movies

Steve Carrel Is Replacing Bruce Willis in Woody Allen’s New Movie

Bruce Willis recently departed Woody Allen's new film, currently in production, purportedly because of his commitment to his role in the Broadway adaptation of Stephen King's Misery. (This remains a pretty unconvincing explanation.) Regardless, Variety reports that Allen has found a replacement for Willis in the form of Steve Carrel, who is nothing at all like Willis, who is nothing at all like Woody Allen. Though details regarding Allen's untitled film are scarce, we can now safely assume that it won't be an action movie, or Carrel will be the hairiest action star since Chuck Norris

Pour a Glass of Chianti for This Supercut of the 3 Portrayals of Hannibal and Will’s Relationship and Because It’s Friday

As Hannibal closes out its run on NBC tomorrow night, it also puts the six-episode Red Dragon arc to rest. The story line comes from Thomas Harris's novel Red Dragon, where FBI agent Will Graham tries to catch the serial killer by enlisting the help of another — one Dr. Hannibal Lecter. With Bryan Fuller's interpretation, there have now been three major screen adaptations of the book, including Michael Mann's Manhunter and Brett Ratner's Red Dragon. In the former, William Petersen and Brian Cox play Will and Hannibal, and in the latter, it's Edward Norton and Anthony Hopkins. Video editor Matthew Morettini found that the dialogue in each one remained remarkably faithful to Harris's book, which allowed him to seamlessly re-create the scene where Will first approaches Dr. Lecter to ask for his help. The edit is remarkable, and it allows you to see the distinct variations in each interpretation. Now, enjoy Hannibal and Will, three ways:

Ben Affleck Casts Chris Messina to Play His Friend (Just Like You’ve Always Wanted to Do)

Great dancer Chris Messina is in negotiations to star opposite Ben Affleck in Live by Night, a Prohibition-era crime drama written and directed by the future Batting Gentleman. Messina will play Affleck’s best friend Dion Bartolo, which you could totally see. (Can’t you imagine Messina and Affleck roughhousing – Messina under Affleck’s arm, getting noogied real good?) Based on Dennis Lehane’s novel The Given Day, Live by Night’s cast also includes Elle Fanning, Sienna Miller, and Zoe Saldana. All the actors have been considered for their parts for awhile now, but production was delayed while Affleck was being a movie star/superhero. Of course, Messina previously worked with Affleck on Argo, where he showed the director/actor he could pull off period-specific facial hair.

  • Posted 8/28/15 at 9:43 AM
  • Bourne

Matt Damon Divulges New Details on the Next ‘Post-Snowden’ Bourne Film

Matt Damon, who will soon appear onscreen as a badass botanist in Ridley Scott's The Martian, has revealed new details regarding his return to the Bourne universe. Damon hasn't played Bourne since 2007's The Bourne Ultimatum, and is coming back to the character after Jeremy Renner and Tony Gilroy's moderately successful Bourne Legacy. Speaking to BuzzFeed, Damon explained that part of the reason he stayed away was he was waiting for a geopolitical paradigm shift. "We always looked at those movies as really about the Bush presidency, and so we kind of had to wait for the world to change." He went on, "Without giving too much of it away, it’s Bourne through an austerity-riddled Europe and in a post-Snowden world. It seems like enough has changed, you know? There are all these kinds of arguments about spying and civil liberties and the nature of democracy." The film, which will also bring back director Paul Greengrass and Julia Stiles (and add Alicia Vikander and Tommy Lee Jones), starts shooting in Greece soon. “We’re starting in Greece, you know, the beginning of democracy,” Damon told BuzzFeed. “And the movie ends in Las Vegas, the most grotesque incarnation of …" The film is slated to open in 2016.

Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Schumer Dance Onstage With Billy Joel, Slide Into the Top Spot of Your Celebrity BFFs List

Sometimes new friendship can be an intoxicating whirlwind more intense than any romance. You feel like you've known each other forever, having inside jokes instantly. After a few weeks of laughing, you say in unison the only thing that makes sense at the time: "We should definitely write a movie together." And if you're famous, you say, "Let's go onstage at this Billy Joel concert." Warning: Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Schumer don't come onstage until about two minutes in, so fast-forward, or else you'll definitely have "Uptown Girl" stuck in your head all weekend. And this is the last weekend before Labor Day! It's too risky. Warning over. Enjoy!

Robert De Niro’s Wizard of Lies Has Grabbed Michelle Pfeiffer, As Well As Some Momentum

Michelle Pfeiffer has signed up to join Robert De Niro for HBO Films' long-awaited Bernie Madoff movie, Wizard of Lies, the network announced Thursday. The project, which saw some initial buzz in 2011, has been moving at a glacial pace, but the addition of Pfeiffer is a welcome sign things are finally picking up. Pfeiffer will play De Niro's onscreen wife, Ruth Madoff, and they'll be joined by Alessandro Nivola, who will take a turn as Madoff's older son, Mark. (That is what you call picture-perfect casting — even before all the makeup!) The story follows Madoff's infamous Ponzi scheme; Barry Levinson will direct, based on Diana Henriques's book of the same name, as well as Laurie Sandell's Truth and Consequences. Sam Baum, Sam Levinson, and John Burnham Schwartz are attached as writers for the script. Other production details, most notably with regard to timeline, are unavailable at the moment. Like everyone, De Niro & Co. are probably just hoping this thing gets made before Madoff gets out of jail — which, I guess, would be sometime in 2159. Fingers crossed.

Jon Hamm Might Star in the Sci-Fi Dramedy Marjorie Prime Because He Is Feeling Adventurous Enough to Be a Hologram

After spending several years in the 1960s playing Don Draper (and not taking home any hardware yet), Jon Hamm is kind of like, Well, I guess I could maybe play a hologram? Sure, why not? Deadline reports that the actor is in talks to co-star in an adaptation of the sci-fi dramedy Marjorie Prime, the story of an ailing violinist enduring the rest of her existence in an assisted-living facility with a therapeutic, holographic companion. The holograms from the original play, which was written by Jordan Harrison and was a 2015 Pulitzer finalist, take the form of predeceased loved ones. Hamm would reportedly play (if the movie is to be anything like the source material) the hologram of the titular Marjorie's husband — but probably in his 30s or 40s — there to either revisit or rewrite memories with her, so as to prevent her mind from atrophying before death.

Fun! Different! »

Watch Key and Peele Re-create the Probably Somewhat Real, There’s-No-Wrong-Answer Gremlins 2 Brainstorm

As with the hilarious dramatic reenactment of OutKast's differences, Key and Peele last night took a crack at re-creating the Gremlins 2 writers' room. And this is definitely what happened. Maybe Star Magic Jackson Jr. should lend a hand with the next Fantastic Four movie?

  • Posted 8/27/15 at 3:46 PM
  • Movies

Rock the Kasbah Trailer: Bill Murray Rocks the Something Something

In Barry Levinson's Rock the Kasbah, Bill Murray plays a cantankerous, on-the-outs record producer who insists he's still got it. (He doesn't.) It's sort of a play on his 1970s SNL character Jerry Aldini. Murray accidentally becomes a talent scout for Afghanistan's version of American Idol and goes on one of those wacky trips during which he experiences zany antics and eventually an epiphany. The movie also features Zooey Deschanel, Kate Hudson, Danny McBride, and Bruce Willis. No word yet if the shareef don't like it.

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Here’s Your First Glimpse of John Boyega With a Lightsaber in New Star Wars: The Force Awakens Video

In a new video posted on the official Star Wars Instagram account, we finally see whom Kylo Ren (who isn't a Sith) is facing off against in that first Force Awakens trailer: John Boyega, wielding a blue lightsaber. Boyega looks angry, as the camera pushes towards him and raises the lightsaber. We also get a new glimpse of the adorable BB-8 with Daisy Ridley's Rey, as well as Andy Serkis's brooding, "There has been an awakening," which has a new, slightly more reverb-laden mix. Basically, The Force Awakens looks awesome.

First Look at Michael Fassbender in Assassin’s Creed

He will be playing Callum Lynch, a character who never appeared in the incredibly popular video-game series, as the movie will be telling an original story. Here's how Yahoo describes him: "Lynch discovers he is a descendant of the secret Assassins society through unlocked genetic memories that allow him to relive the adventures of his ancestor, Aguilar, in 15th Century Spain. After gaining incredible knowledge and skills he’s poised to take on the oppressive Knights Templar in the present day." Okay, now look at him standing badass-ly, with arms wide open by his side.

Every Quentin Tarantino Movie, Ranked

Dense with allusions to other work but more fun than a barrel of monkeys (studded with nails and rolled down a hill, à la Herschell Gordon Lewis’s 2000 Maniacs), Quentin Tarantino’s movies cry out to be viewed both singly and in relation to one another — as the journey of a boy who once lived through grindhouse movies and is now permitted to dramatize (and cinematize) his fantasies on an epic scale. Few directors give you the sense that they’re getting off so much on their own work. For better, and occasionally for worse, Tarantino really digs Tarantino.

N.B.: Here and there, I’ve mined some of my past reviews (the ones I still agree with, anyway) for descriptions. It’s not just laziness. The feelings that come to you in the first flush of pleasure after seeing a Tarantino movie are difficult to recollect in tranquility.

Pulp Fiction changed people’s ideas about American independent cinema. »

Joseph Gordon-Levitt on Meeting Edward Snowden and Learning to Walk a Tightrope

And the Oscar for Actor Most Likely to Be Detained by Airport Security goes to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays two real-life anarchist-heroes this fall: In Robert Zemeckis’s The Walk, which opens the New York Film Festival on September 26, he stars as Philippe Petit, the French daredevil who walked a wire between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. And in Oliver Stone’s Snowden, out on December 25, Gordon-Levitt will play the exiled NSA whistle-blower. If all that wasn’t enough to get him on a watch list, he’ll also reteam with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who produced last year’s The Interview, for The Night Before, about three best friends (Rogen, Gordon-Levitt, and Anthony Mackie) who spend a wild Christmas Eve in New York. 

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Wim Wenders on Salt of the Earth and What Happened to Until the End of the World

This Friday, the IFC Center begins the monthlong series Wim Wenders: Portraits Along the Road, a career-spanning retrospective of the director's work. This past March, we spoke to Wenders about his career and what was then his latest release, the documentary The Salt of the Earth. We are republishing that interview now.

In the late 1970s and '80s, if you were into serious cinema, you had to be into Wim Wenders. The German director of Paris, TexasAlice in the Cities, and Wings of Desire was the international poster-child for artful ennui and existential despair. But his films were also remarkable for the way they mixed a very continental brooding with a love of pop culture, usually American. That’s what made his films so brilliant, in a way — they were serious, but accessible. As evidenced by his triumphant recent MoMA retrospective, which screened brand-new restorations of his films, Wenders has proven to be a remarkably resilient and adaptable filmmaker over the years. He still makes narrative films, but he is now known as much for documentaries like The Buena Vista Social Club and Pina as he is for his earlier classics. This week sees the release of the Oscar-nominated Salt of the Earth, a documentary about the famous Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado, directed in collaboration with Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, the photographer’s son. As Wenders tells it, the collaboration was not an easy one — taking many years to finally settle on a finished film. In this wide-ranging interview, the director discusses his new film, how filmmaking has changed over the years, his love of new technologies, and what exactly happened with his ambitious, ill-fated 1992 epic Until the End of the World.

"I could never get a film financed today without a script. Kings of the Road was financed with a half page of exposé. Unthinkable today." »

Finally, Jennifer Lawrence Is Doing a Comedy

Jennifer Lawrence announced today that she and Amy Schumer are writing a movie together, and there are plenty of reasons to be excited. The Oscar winner and the ascendant Trainwreck star are two of our sharpest actresses, so any sort of collaboration between the two of them is more than welcome; at the same time, it’s encouraging that Lawrence wants to develop her own material, especially since Hollywood often has very narrow-minded ideas of what to do with her. But to me, the biggest upside of this announcement is a very simple one: Jennifer Lawrence is going to do a comedy, and it’s about damn time.

Has there ever been a bigger disconnect between a star’s real-life personality and the blockbuster movies she makes? »

Joaquin Phoenix in Talks to Reunite With M. Night Shyamalan

M. Night Shyamalan seems to be vying for a sort of renaissance, with Wayward Pines earning fairly good reviews and his upcoming film, the low-budget, self-financed The Visit, marking his return to indie horror. Now Deadline reports that Shyamalan is in talks reunite with an old collaborator: Joaquin Phoenix. The premise for the film remains mysterious, as is the case with most of Shyamalan's movies, but production will tentatively begin this fall, with the shoot taking place in Philadelphia. Phoenix last appeared in Shyamalan's The Village (2004), the film held up by many as the point when the filmmaker's reputation took a nosedive. It was a box-office hit, earning over $250 million, but it was also his first film to earn a "Rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. (None of his films has been "Fresh" since.) The year after The Village, Phoenix earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Johnny Cash in Walk the Line, while Shyamalan made Lady in the Water. Hopefully reuniting with Phoenix could foment a creative resurgence for the filmmaker.