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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What In Gawd's Name Is This SERENA Trailer About?

No, really. I need to understand. I know at this point we're just supposed to think that anything Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence do together is the cat's pajamas, but this SERENA trailer, though? I just...what is even going on in this movie?? I see that Lawrence is playing another vixen-type character paired with a much older man (Cooper, for the third time) back in another era, and..she may or may not have killed save their marriage? All I know is by the end of the two-minute clip the couple looks like they've Romeo and Juliet'ed each other. I mean....?

Guess you just had to be there. Maybe the synopsis will help?

North Carolina mountains at the end of the 1920s – George (Bradley Cooper) and Serena Pemberton (Jennifer Lawrence), love-struck newly-weds, begin to build a timber empire. Serena soon proves herself to be equal to any man: overseeing loggers, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving a man’s life in the wilderness. With power and influence now in their hands, the Pembertons refuse to let anyone stand in the way of their inflated love and ambitions. However, once Serena discovers George’s hidden past and faces an unchangeable fate of her own, the Pemberton’s passionate marriage begins to unravel leading toward a dramatic reckoning.

Not...really. Except now we know that this Serena character was a feminist before her time, and can apparently be just as conniving as any man. Win?

Gawd, I hope the movie is better than how it looks. Susanne Bier (Things We Lost in the Fire) directed the film (which could be its saving grace) from Christopher Kyle's (Alexander) screenplay adapted from the original novel by Ron Rash. Rhys Ifans also stars in the film.

Magnolia Pictures will release SERENA on iTunes / VOD February 26, 2015 and in theaters March 27, 2015.

28 DAYS LATER Writer To Make His Directorial Debut with a Sci-Fi Thriller Starring Oscar Isaac

I'm so glad that everyone is finally on the Oscar Isaac train. I admit, I didn't officially start to take notice of him until he cradled a cat for 100 minutes starred in Inside Llewyn Davis, but he's always been an actor who delivered solid performances in that film about that guy. Not really a standout, but you're intrigued enough to keep one eye on him. He may finally be on his way to that coveted A-list status with an interesting new role that, like most roles, could go really well or really badly.

A24, the studio that brought us Under the Skin starring Scarlett Johansson earlier this year, has just announced that they have acquired the rights to 28 Days Later... and Never Let Me Go writer Alex Garland's directorial debut, EX MACHINA. Described as a cerebral thriller, the film will star Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander Will (soon to be seen in The Man from U.N.C.L.E remake).

More about the project after the jump:

Alex Garland, writer of 28 Days Later and Sunshine, makes his directorial debut with the stylish and cerebral thriller, EX MACHINA. Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), a programmer at an internet-search giant, wins a competition to spend a week at the private mountain estate of the company's brilliant and reclusive CEO, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac). Upon his arrival, Caleb learns that Nathan has chosen him to be the human component in a Turing Test—charging him with evaluating the capabilities, and ultimately the consciousness, of Nathan’s latest experiment in artificial intelligence. That experiment is Ava (Alicia Vikander), a breathtaking A.I. whose emotional intelligence proves more sophisticated, seductive––and more deceptive––than the two men could have imagined.

Goodness knows we've been getting a lot of these sci-fi thrillers lately, though I think Garland is really good at approaching the genre in a fresh and genuinely interesting way that is more than just big explosions and bleak apocalyptic undertones. So we'll just have to wait and see how this one will end up. I'm not familiar with Will's work, and while I know Gleeson has landed on a few people's "stars to watch" lists, I can't say I've been too impressed with what I've seen from him. So it's really all about Isaac and Garland for me. As for now, I'm intrigued. 

What do you think? Check back back on the site Thursday for a teaser trailer.

EX MACHINA will be released April 10, 2015. 

We Need To Talk About What's Going On With Djimon Hounsou's Career

Remember that one time when Djimon Hounsou was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in In America, or that other time he was nominated for an Oscar for Blood Diamond? Have you seen that actor lately? Because I haven't. And that saddens me because I truly believe that he had such promise, such talent. He could have been a contender. Hell, he was a contender. Twice. He even held his own alongside Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix in Gladiator. Like a boss.

But since his Oscar runs back in 2004 and 2007, Hounsou has kinda...fallen off. Sure, he's been working consistently (including roles in Guardians of the Galaxy and Baggage Claim) since he first burst onto the screen more than twenty years ago. He's even got eight other films on his slate within the next year, which could very well push him back onto the A-list. But I feel he's lost the Hollywood clout he once had. Which brings me to yesterday's announcement that he has joined the cast of Paramount Pictures' SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME. Yes, this is the actual title of the film. It's based off the nonfiction bestselling book by Ron Hall and Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent. Judging by the synopsis below, it sounds like an inspirational drama and also stars Gregg Kinnear, Jon Voight and Renee Zellweger.

This brings me to my next question: How did Hounsou get wrapped up in an inspirational drama with Zellweger and Kinnear, who also haven't had a great movie in a LONG time? (I purposely left out Voight, who's doing great work on Ray Donovan, but I'm looking at him too). I weep.

Read the film's description:

“SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME” is the story of an international art dealer Ron Hall (Kinnear) who must befriend a dangerous homeless man (Hounsou) in order to save his struggling marriage to his wife (Zellweger), a woman whose dreams will lead all three of them on the most remarkable journey of their lives. Voight plays Hall's father, with whom he reconciles thanks to the revelations of his new life.

Vincent is also the author of Heaven is For Real, which I think some people liked. So maybe this will attract a similar audience. But for right now, this is a bit of a head scratcher to me. I will likely see it because I do respect the cast, but I just really want Hounsou to get back on top again. You know? Can this really be the project to propel him back into the big leagues again? I don't know. 

Director Michael Carney will make his first full-length feature debut with this film, which he co-wrote with Alexander Foard and Ron Hall. Principal photography began October 27th in Jackson, Mississippi.

Check back here for updates.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

In Other Horror-Related News, THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT Will bein 3-D

Wait, am I the only one who wants to type Detergent every time instead of Divergent? Yes? Oh...ok.

Anyway. fans of the Divergent series will be happy to learn that the next installment in the series, Insurgent, will be in 3-D. The rest of us, however, are cringing at the mere thought that this sequel will could be three dimensionally far more awful than the first film. Oh, the horror.

Clearly, it's become an unspoken rule that most every YA adaptation has to be in 3-D now. But am I the only one worried about how wooden Shailene Woodley's acting (and everyone else's in the cast, for that matter) will be in bold 3-D? It just...hurts my head. But, you know, maybe the first film was a rough start and THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT will be when it really gets good. Maybe.

Here's a little more about what to expect next in the series:

The Divergent Series: Insurgent raises the stakes for Tris as she searches for allies and answers in the ruins of a futuristic Chicago. Tris (Woodley) and Four (Theo James) are now fugitives on the run, hunted by Jeanine (Kate Winslet), the leader of the power-hungry Erudite elite. Racing against time, they must find out what Tris’s family sacrificed their lives to protect, and why the Erudite leaders will do anything to stop them. Haunted by her past choices but desperate to protect the ones she loves, Tris, with Four at her side, faces one impossible challenge after another as they unlock the truth about the past and ultimately the future of their world.

I will say this about the franchise: it's introduced me to the beautiful Theo James, so that's something. Also, as I reported previously on the site, Octavia Spencer has joined the cast as the leader of the Amity faction, which is also a good look. I haven't read the book, so I'm curious how large her role is. And, to that point, whether Maggie Q's lab role will expand in the new film as well (she is so much better than a fleeting cameo). The rest of the cast remains the same (Jai Courtney, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q and Mekhi Phifer).

THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT hits theaters March 20, 2015. 

Feast Your Eyes on the Trailer for the First Iranian Vampire Western

Could this be the beginning of a new wave of vampire westerns? I haven't seen a whole lot myself, but I remember the genre became a thing years back and has since faded from the forefront. But if they are staging a comeback, can they all look like writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour's full-length feature debut, A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT? The film is not only breaking barriers as the first of its kind by an Iranian-American filmmaker, but its trailer makes it look like something ripped out of Robert Rodriguez's handbook of cult horrors -- with a seductive feminine twist. Which means it could be ridiculously awesome or simply ridiculous.

Either way, the trailer has won me over. It's apparently already garnered other fans as Amipour was nominated just last week for a 2014 Gotham Independent Film Award in the Breakthrough Director category. The film also earned raves at this year's Sundance Film Festival. (It probably also helps that Elijah Wood is one of the executive producers on the project). Here's more about it:

Strange things are afoot in Bad City. The Iranian ghost town, home to prostitutes, junkies, pimps and other sordid souls, is a bastion of depravity and hopelessness where a lonely vampire stalks its most unsavory inhabitants.

Cinema's first Iranian vampire western, Ana Lily Amirpour's debut feature basks in the sheer pleasure of pulp. A joyful mash-up of genre, archetype, and iconography, its prolific influences span spaghetti westerns, graphic novels, horror films, and the Iranian New Wave. Amped by a mix of Iranian rock, techno, and Morricone-inspired riffs, its airy, anamorphic, black-and-white aesthetic and artfully drawn-out scenes combine the simmering tension of Sergio Leone with the weird surrealism of David Lynch.

LOL. I love that the story is set in a town called "Bad City," where things are "afoot." Seriously, sign me up for whatever craziness is happening right here. It looks so campy yet stylish, and I need to watch it right this instant. Plus, you've gotta love that this is helmed by and stars two Iranian-American talents (You may recognize the film's star, Sheila Vand, from her work in Argo two years ago. She'll also be seen next in the upcoming NBC show, State of Affairs, starring Alfre Woodard and Katherine Heigl). 

Watch the trailer:

U.S. Distributor Kino Lorber will release A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT in New York and Los Angeles on November 21st, with national expansion to follow. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

How Many of These Indie Horror Films Have You Seen?

As per tradition, this month I've been really binging on horror films -- revisiting some of my favorites, some classics, and others I've never seen before (by the way, Netflix has a pretty gnarly collection recently added that I'd encourage you to check out).

So, needless to say, I'm always looking for recommendations. Which is why I was happy to receive an email from (a streaming service for indie films), that introduced me to 8 films I've never heard of, plus one I've been meaning to watch for some time (A Tale of Two Sisters). In case any of you are also looking to marathon a few horror movies this Halloween, I thought I'd share the list. Check it out:

Director: Gerardo de Leon
Screenwriter: Cesar Amigo
Cast: Ronald Remy, Amalia Fuentes, Eddie Fernandez
Plot: The monstrous vampire Marco is determined to raise his beloved Katrina from the dead. But in order to do so, he needs to transplant the heart of her living sister, Charito, the sweetest, loveliest girl in the village. Unleashing his murderous giant bat and his evil minions, Marco spreads terror and death through the community as he attempts to abduct the innocent girl. But a priest, a detective, and Charito's friends risk their lives in a desperate attempt to save her from Marco's hideous surgery.

Director: Harry Kümel
Screenwriter: Pierre Druot, Harry Kümel
Cast: Delphine Seyrig, John Karlen, Danielle Ouimet
Plot: International screen icon Delphine Seyrig stars as Elizabeth Bathory, an ageless Countess with a beautiful young 'companion' and a legendary legacy of perversion. But when the two women seduce a troubled newlywed couple, they unleash a frenzy of sudden violence and depraved desire.

Director: Arthur Crabtree
Screenwriter: Herman Cohen, Aben Kandel
Cast: Michael Gough, June Cunningham, Graham Curnow
Plot: London is fear-struck and Scotland Yard is baffled by a series of strange murders plaguing the city. Through his stories of the atrocities, crime journalist Edmond Bancroft (Michael Gough) comes to his own conclusions while clues of the crimes continue to elude the police. This is because Edmond is actually behind these horrible crimes in order to create material for his writing. Along with his assistant Rick (Graham Curnow), Edmond runs a private "Black Museum" filled with the very murder and torture devices used in the creation of these horrific stories.

INFERNO (1980)
Director: Dario Argento
Screenwriter: Dario Argento
Cast: Leigh McCloskey, Irene Miracle, Eleanora Giorgi
Plot: A young woman stumbles upon a mysterious diary that reveals the secrets of the "Three Mothers" and unleashes a nightmare world of demonic evil. As the unstoppable horror spreads from Rome to New York City, this unholy trinity must be stopped before the world is submerged in the blood of the innocent. Written and directed by Dario Argento, INFERNO is the second chapter of the "Three Mothers" trilogy begun with the classic SUSPIRIA.

Director: Harold Daniels, Jerry Warren
Screenwriter: Lora Crozetti, Richard Mahoney
Cast: Lon Chaney, Jr., John Carradine, Andrea King
Plot: Warlock Belial Desard (Lon Chaney Jr.) and his brother Andre (John Carradine) battle for dominion over the creepy House of Desard. HOUSE OF THE BLACK DEATH is a result of one group of hack filmmakers making half a movie and a different group of hacks unsuccessfully attempting to finish the job. 

ZOMBIE (1979)
Director: Lucio Fulci
Screenwriter: Elisa Briganti
Cast: Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson
Plot: In Italy, it was considered the 'unofficial sequel' to DAWN OF THE DEAD. In England, it was known as ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS and banned as obscene. In America, it was called ZOMBIE and advertised with the depraved tag line, "We are going to eat you!" Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Al Cliver and Richard Johnson star in this worldwide splatter sensation directed by 'Maestro of Gore' Lucio Fulci that is described as one of the most eye-skewering, skin-ripping, gore-gushingly graphic horror hits of all time.

Director: Kim Jee-Woon
Screenwriter: Kim Jee-Woon
Cast: Kap-su Kim, Jung-ah Yum, Su-jeong Lim
Plot: Su-mi and Su-yeon return home after an extended hospital stay. Things have not been the same since their mother passed away. Their return is welcomed by their stepmother Eun-joo. Su-mi, the older and stronger of the two, isn’t afraid to speak her mind, while Su-yeon is more timid and wary of their stepmother and looks to Su-mi for help. Continually picked on and harassed by their stepmother, the two have no choice but to endure the relationship for their father’s sake. Su-mi promises Su-yeon that she will never let their stepmother beat them again. Unexplainable things start to occur at the house. Could it be their stepmother trying to torment them, or is a more sinister supernatural force at work?

Director: Pete Walker
Screenwriter: David McGillivray
Cast: Rupert Davies, Sheila Keith, Deborah Fairfax
Plot: Sheila Keith stars as a former patient of a mental institution who has settled down in a remote farmhouse, where she tells fortunes in her spare time. But the kind, maternal exterior conceals a dreadful monster, which the asylum, it seems, was unable to cure.

TOAD ROAD (2012)
Director: Jason Banker
Screenwriter: Jason Banker
Cast: James Davidson, Sara Anne Jones, Whitleigh Higuera
Plot: TOAD ROAD, presented by Elijah Wood and his SpectreVision production company, unfolds like a hallucinatory cross between the sexual candor of Larry Clark and Harmony Korine and the backwoods creep-out of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. Young James kills time with his small town druggie friends, engaging in excessive chemical intake, until he meets sweet new arrival Sara. But just as James wants to abandon the narcotics life, Sara wants him to take her further into mind-altering experimentation and she also wants him to introduce her to the sinister local legend of Toad Road, a spot deep in the forest that is apparently home to the Seven Gates of Hell. 

As you can see, the list is pretty diverse -- from absolutely absurd to really intriguing. Which ones will you check out, and which others have you already seen and have an opinion on?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Vin Diesel Will Play a Witch Hunter in an Upcoming Film

I...don't even really know what to make of this, so I'm just going to let you guys have at it. I've just learned that Vin Diesel and Elijah Wood have teamed up for a new project that's currently filming in which the former will play an immortal witch hunter. Simply titled THE LAST WITCH HUNTER, the film is being directed by Breck Eisner, who brought us the 2010 remake of The Crazies (which is still hard for me to get through to this day).

Honestly, this movie sounds like a mix between The Chronicles of Riddick and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so... take from that what you will (I'm still trying to figure it out myself). There's not much other information available yet, including what role Wood will play, but Michael Caine is also among the cast. Oscar nominee Melisa Wallack (Dallas Buyers Club) and Cory Goodman (Priest) collaborated on the screenplay -- which should be interesting to say the least.

Here's the synopsis:

From Summit Entertainment. Tormented by the loss of his family and cursed with immortal life, the last witch hunter (Vin Diesel) is all that stands between humanity and the combined forces of the most horrifying witches in history.

It's being described as an action/fantasy, but it sounds like it's also got some horror elements. Plus, it's coming to theaters right around Halloween next year. What do you think so far?

THE LAST WITCH HUNTER will open in wide release on October 23, 2015.  

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