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Saturday, April 25, 2015

A New Documentary on 17-Year-Old Activist Malala Yousafzai Hits Theaters in October

I have so much respect for Malala Yousafzai, the 17-year-old real life hero who became a leading campaigner for the rights of children worldwide after being shot in the head when Taliban gunmen opened fire on her and her friends’ school bus in her region of Swat Valley in Pakistan back in 2012.
You may have seen her in media interviews in which she spoke about her experience and her passion for educational activism, including this glorious cover of Time Magazine's Person of the Year Issue in 2013 (she was the runner up, after President Barack Obama):

Not to mention, she's also the youngest Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. (Kinda makes you wonder what you're doing with your life, huh?).

And now Yousafzai's story will be the focus of an upcoming documentary titled HE NAMED ME MALALA, written and directed by David Guggenheim (Safe House). The film, which also stars Ziauddin Yousafzai, Malala's father, will open in select theaters in the U.S. on October 2.

I am so there.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Adrien Brody's New Thriller is Close to Getting a Major Acquisition Deal After Its Impressive Tribeca Debut

You may remember last month when I first wrote about BACKTRACK, the thriller starring Adrien Brody that made its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival just last week. It was one of the films on the roster I was most looking forward to, and it looks like it made quite an impression at the festival as Saban Films is closing in on a seven-figure acquisition of the film, which also stars Sam Neill and was written and directed by Michael Petroni (who wrote the underrated drama, The Book Thief). This is according to a press release issued by the studio today.

Here's a recap of the synopsis:

In BACKTRACK, troubled psychotherapist Peter Bowers (Adrien Brody) is suffering from nightmares and eerie visions. When he uncovers the horrifying secret shared by his patients, he is put on a course that takes him back to the remote hometown he fled years ago. There in False Creek he is consumed by solving a decades-old mystery that holds the key to his strange and menacing delusions.

Saban Films President Bill Bromiley said, “BACKTRACK is an unexpected and haunting psychological thriller. Michael Petroni is a great storyteller and his film was a major standout in the Tribeca Film Festival. This will be a strong addition to the Saban slate.” 

For those of you unfamiliar with Saban Films (as I was), it launched just before last year's Cannes International Film Festival, and quickly hit the ground running acquiring films including The Homesman (another gem from last year). 

I'll keep you posted on the film as I learn more about it. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Fred Armisen Has Also Joined the Cast of ZOOLANDER 2

Don't ask me why Paramount/Ben Stiller has decided to reveal one cast member from ZOOLANDER 2 a day, but I suppose it's building excitement for those of you who eagerly anticipate this sequel. Today's actor? Fred Armisen, most known from SNL and Portlandia.

In case you forgot, this is what he looks like:

I really, really hope this movie pleasantly surprises me. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt Team Up for a New Film from the Director of ANCHORMAN

Pardon me if I don't get too excited about this film right away. Actually, call me cautiously optimistic at this point, only because I do love the cast so far. Today it was announced that director Adam McKay's upcoming film, THE BIG SHORT, will star Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, as well as Melissa Leo and Marisa Tomei. Awesome lineup, right?

But here's the thing. It's Adam McKay, who brought us Anchorman, Stepbrothers and The Other Guys--three films I can't even get through (I am okay with being in the minority on this). So obviously I'm not too geeked to check out this new film, which McKay also wrote. Even the synopsis is very meh to me:

“THE BIG SHORT” is the remarkable true story of the genius contrarian investors who, recognizing just how insane the housing bubble had become, figured out how to “short” the market prior to the financial collapse of 2008.

It's just not compelling, not even as a comedy (though my Spidey senses tell me that this might turn out to be along the lines of an American Hustle kind of thing...Take from that what you will). So a couple of guys (okay, maybe Leo and Tomei's characters get wrapped up in this somehow) stumble upon a housing scheme which pays off for them big time. So what?  

Ugh, maybe it will be more than that. With this cast, I could only hope McKay puts them to good use. Production has already begun in New Orleans. I'll share more as I learn more.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Are You a ZOOLANDER Fan?

...Because I never bothered with the franchise. But now I feel like I have to watch ZOOLANDER 2 because my girl crush Penelope Cruz is going to be in it (oh how the mighty have fallen). You might have already heard this announcement from Ben Stiller when he tweeted about it last week (peep the hilariously adorable vintage pic of Cruz in the link):

And today brings the news that Billy Zane (arguably the hardest working actor in Hollywood, averaging about 200 movies a year that no one actually watches) will return for the sequel. Check out this gnarly photo of him:

Eh, I can't say I'm too excited about this one. But I'll have to support team Cruz. Thoughts?

Monday, April 13, 2015

TRUE STORY, Starring James Franco and Jonah Hill, is Pretty Much Dead on Arrival

It has reluctantly come to my realization that James Franco has become a shocking parody of himself, so much so that I can't even take him seriously in dramatic roles anymore (which pains me to say because I always felt like I was his last surviving fan). But now I feel like I don't know if he's trying to be funny, actually trying not to laugh or whether it is in fact supposed to be a comedy that I am watching. Weeks after I've seen his new movie, TRUE STORY co-starring Jonah Hill, the answer is still unclear (on all fronts).

It's never good when you leave a film and completely forget you've seen in not even five minutes later. That's how it was with this movie. It just kinda...happened. Franco phoned in a meager portrayal of a con artist/accused murderer Christian Longo, who might just be an interesting character in real life but certainly not in this film. Perhaps more accurately, it is Christian who is playing Franco as the actor never quite gets a grip on who this character is. There are several times when Franco clearly slips out of character in a scene with Hill in which they both actually look like they're going to just start reciting lines from This is the End. Hill is on the one side playing disgraced journalist Michael Finkel, convincingly desperate to pen Christian's story, and across the table is Franco, struggling to find a single genuine emotion despite portraying a man accused of murdering his wife and three kids. Seriously, WTF is this?

Director Rupert Goold, who also adapted the screenplay from Finkel's own memoir, tries to create a fuller story that actually draws the audience in with suspense and its "who's playing who?" intrigue. But actually doesn't. Between the empty tête-à-têtes with Christian and Michael and the meaningless scenes with Michael running around trying to pick up the pieces of his ruined reputation, TRUE STORY just never feels like it gets anywhere. And Goold's lame attempt to give Felicity Jones (who plays Hill's concerned wife) something to do at the tail end of the film just seems like a tacked-on effort to add gravitas when the film had already fallen over a cliff.

This movie is just an anomaly in the worst way.

Rating: D (** out of *****)

TRUE STORY is in select theaters April 17. Watch the trailer below:

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Let's Cast the Live Action Mulan

By now you've probably heard that Hollywood has set its sights on a live-action adaptation of the 1998 Disney classic Mulan (arguably one of the best fictional heroines ever), and I am thrilled/concerned. Thrilled because it's one of the best Disney films ever and concerned because of the same reason (because no one knows how to mess up a good thing better than Hollywood). I can only hope that the powers that be stay as true to the original film as possible.

But since I generally find it hard to rely on "hope," I've decided to combine forces with you, the reader, by asking who you think should be cast in this new version of Mulan.

To get you started, I've included my own wishlist of actors who I think would be great for this production:

Steven Yeun (in my head, he is Shang)

Devon Aoki (as Mulan)

Jamie Chung (as Mulan)

Ken Watanabe (as Fa Zhou)

Daniel Dae Kim (as Shan Yu)

Michelle Yeoh (as Fa Ling)

Rick Yune (as Shan Yu)

John Cho (as Mushu)

Who are your picks?

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