19 items from 2015
With January upon us and the turkey still digesting in our stomachs some might think it premature to announce a new Christmas movie. However CBS Films are hoping to get us in the festive spirit as they trumpet high profile family comedy Let It Snow.
Set on Christmas Eve, it won’t surprise you to learn it features a clan gathering at which everyone learns a valuable life lesson. Doesn’t sound too inspiring until you read the cast list – Amanda Seyfried, Alan Arkin, Olivia Wilde and Anthony Mackie are in the (stuffing) mix, alongside Diane Keaton, John Goodman, Marisa Tomei, Ed Helms and June Squibb. Now that’s a relative ruckus I could get on board with.
If that line up wasn’t enough to pull your moviegoing cracker then the presence of T Bone Burnett on soundtrack duties may well set fire to your pudding. Known for his »
- Steve Palace
The Gambler, 2014.
Directed by Rupert Wyatt
Lit professor and gambler Jim Bennett’s debt causes him to borrow money from his mother and a loan shark. Further complicating his situation is his relationship with one of his students. Will Bennett risk his life for a second chance?
Spoilers for both the 1974 and 2014 versions of The Gambler below…
At the end of Karel Reisz’s 1974 film The Gambler James Caan’s character is debt-free after dragging a young student with a promising basketball career into the world of sports fixing. The student, Caan sees, is just as susceptible to making a quick thousand dollars as Caan is to losing it. Caan never smiles or shows signs of having broken free of his addiction; rather he goes into a nearby rundown brothel, picks a fight with a pimp, »
- Gary Collinson
Mention James Wan’s name, and more times than not, the Saw or Insidious series will come up. Every once in a great while, a fan of the criminally underrated Dead Silence will be brought up (and rightfully so, it’s wonderful), but for the most part, Wan’s fanbase tends to focus on the traps of Saw, the ghosts of Insidious or the frightening Warren experiences of The Conjuring. One film in Wan’s filmography that always seems to get the shaft in conversations or isn’t referred to much, is his loose adaption of Brian Garfield’s novel, Death Sentence. That film has always held a spot in my heart for many reasons, the writing, the music, the performances, and most of all, the morality tales and lessons that though are not subtle whatsoever, speak volumes about how far we can get from who we are, while trying »
- Jerry Smith
Pioneering woman director Lois Weber socially conscious drama 'Shoes' among Library of Congress' Packard Theater movies (photo: Mary MacLaren in 'Shoes') In February 2015, National Film Registry titles will be showcased at the Library of Congress' Packard Campus Theater – aka the Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation – in Culpeper, Virginia. These range from pioneering woman director Lois Weber's socially conscious 1916 drama Shoes to Robert Zemeckis' 1985 blockbuster Back to the Future. Another Packard Theater highlight next month is Sam Peckinpah's ultra-violent Western The Wild Bunch (1969), starring William Holden and Ernest Borgnine. Also, Howard Hawks' "anti-High Noon" Western Rio Bravo (1959), toplining John Wayne and Dean Martin. And George Cukor's costly remake of A Star Is Born (1954), featuring Academy Award nominees Judy Garland and James Mason in the old Janet Gaynor and Fredric March roles. There's more: Jeff Bridges delivers a colorful performance in »
- Andre Soares
It’s Friday, the edge of the weekend, nearly the first payday of 2015 and now things get even better with our exclusive clip from Mark Wahlberg’s new movie The Gambler that opens today in cinemas across the UK. Here’s a little background:
Jim Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) is a risk taker. Both an English professor and a high-stakes gambler, Bennett bets it all when he borrows from a gangster (Michael Kenneth Williams) and offers his own life as collateral. Always one step ahead, Bennett pits his creditor against the operator of a gambling ring (Alvin Ing) and leaves his dysfunctional relationship with his wealthy mother (Jessica Lange) in his wake. He plays both sides, immersing himself in an illicit, underground world while garnering the attention of Frank (John Goodman), a loan shark with a paternal interest in Bennett’s future. As his relationship with a student (Brie Larson) deepens, »
- Dan Bullock
It doesn’t quite work as a package, but Wahlberg is a real pleasure to watch as he crafts a portrait of a tormented anti-hero with an apparent death wish. I’m “biast” (pro): like Mark Wahlberg
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
I think you’re the kind of guy who likes to lose.” So someone pegs Jim Bennett, child of privilege, literature professor, and dude in to an illegal Los Angeles casino run by Korean gangsters for $240,000. Which he has to repay in seven days, or else. But a perverse pleasure in losing — blackjack and roulette seem to be his entertainments of choice — is only a small part of Bennett’s intriguing, but most definitely anti-heroic, complexity. Mark Wahlberg (Transformers: Age of Extinction), as Bennett, has never been this good: he actually makes us buy that Bennett is »
- MaryAnn Johanson
The Gambler, 2014.
Directed by Rupert Wyatt.
A dejected literary professor is given just seven days to pay back his substantial gambling debts.
First, a word on the trailer: balls. Much like how last year’s wonderful Pride was made to look like a schmaltzy television movie (when in fact it was a schmaltzy movie movie) in its trailer, The Gambler looks like a moody, pretentious brat. Actually, that rather neatly sums up its lead character, but it’s far from the world’s best marketing technique.
The trailer is not representative of how much you will enjoy this film.
Now a few more words on the movie itself: surprisingly enjoyable. A remake of the 1974 James Caan film, The Gambler tells the story of Jim Bennett (played with remarkable faux-disinterest by Mark Wahlberg), a literature professor and chronic gambler. »
- Oli Davis
Director: Rupert Wyatt; Screenwriter: William Monahan; Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Jessica Lange, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Michael K Williams, Alvin Ing, Anthony Kelley; Running time: 111 mins; Certificate: 15
Crime pays but blackjack most certainly doesn't in The Gambler, a so-so existential thriller based on the cult '70s film starring James Caan. Mark Wahlberg doesn't look too comfortable in those hand-me-down shoes, or with the tousled hair that is supposed to imply hours spent scratching his head over thoughts of his own mortality and the complete works of William Shakespeare.
He is no-one's idea of a literature professor and yet, that's the day job of James Bennett, whose nights are spent in high-stakes gambling dens run by Korean gangsters. The joy of winning is always short-lived because his next move is an all-or-nothing bet that leaves him with, guess what - nothing, except the threat of imminent death. It's this compulsion that »
Actress and singer Brie Larson first made her mark on television, and has since appeared in such films as 21 Jump Street, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World and Rampart. She really made her mark with Short Term 12, the 2013 drama in which she starred as Grace, a supervisor in a home for troubled teenagers. It was a sensitive, thoughtful performance, and like the film itself, widely acclaimed and nominated for numerous independent film awards.
Larson’s latest film is The Gambler, a drama starring Mark Wahlberg as a well-to-do college professor with a tendency to lose money in various gambling dens. Larson plays Amy, a gifted English student who’s uniquely aware of her teacher’s insidious addiction. Although The Gambler’s very much Wahlberg’s film, Larson again brings intelligence to her role here. »
This is the first time the festival has appointed two presidents
The festival press release:
For the first time in the history of the Festival de Cannes, not one but two leading figures will chair the Jury.
Indeed, American filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen have accepted the invitation from President Pierre Lescure and General Delegate Thierry Frémaux to become the Presidents of the 68th edition of the Festival.
“We look forward to returning to Cannes this year »
- Steve Pond
Michael Stevens For 'The Good':
In this pulse-pounding action feature, actor Bradley Cooper, eerily inhabits the role of patriotic Navy Seal 'Chris Kyle', with a steely determination in his eyes that gives way to a Wtf expression whenever he pauses to think about what his dangerous job entails...
...embodying his father's flashback wish for him to be a protective 'sheepdog', rather than a predator wolf preying on the weak, or an innocent sheep waiting to be led to slaughter.
Director Clint Eastwood deftly drops the viewer into the heart of darkness on several tours of duty with Kyle, as we share his moral responsibilities in the use of deadly force and power, plus the struggles veteran »
- Michael Stevens
Director: Rupert Wyatt
Run Time: 111 minutes
Synopsis: The death of a beloved grandfather sends a literature professor with a high-stake gambling addiction on a path of self-loathing and destruction as he counter-balances mounting gaming debts with borrowed money from a number of dangerous loan sharks.
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes’s Rupert Wyatt shows viewers a glimpse into the havoc of an entitled and self-indulgent whiner hell-bent on self-destruction in his latest film The Gambler that stars Mark Wahlberg in the lead role.
Rebooted from James Toback’s original 1974 film starring James Caan, Wyatt’s direction and William Monahan’s screenplay are decidedly different from their predecessors: not only in comparable terms (the protagonist is still a gambling addicted literature professor and disgraced scion of a wealthy »
- Sacha Hall
Having made his debut feature with the acclaimed 2008 thriller The Escapist, British filmmaker Rupert Wyatt directed the hugely successful Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes in 2011. Reviving a franchise that had long since slipped into the doldrums, it was hailed as a summer film with an all-too-rare streak of intelligence.
Wyatt's latest film is a very different proposition: a remake of the 1974 film starring James Caan, The Gambler is a slickly-written drama about a college professor (an against-the-grain Mark Wahlberg) in hock to some very dangerous people. With his debts mounting, Wahlberg's gambler resorts to a series of schemes to try to pay his way out of trouble, only for his self-destructive nature to send him sinking further into the mire.
As The Gambler's UK release approaches, we catch »
McCarthy plays the CIA’s top analyst, Susan Cooper, who steps away from her computer and gets in the action when her suave partner (Law) falls off the grid and Statham’s identity is compromised by a deadly arms dealer, played by Rose Byrne.
- Greg Gilman
“The name change is meant as a symbolic acknowledgement of the incredible growth of the company since it’s inception 7-plus years ago. The change further reflects the significant contribution from partners Kivowitz and Donatelli,” said company founder David Schiff.
- Jeff Sneider
Each year, I like to pretend that I’m an Oscar voter with a sliver of power and write up my Oscar picks as if I had a ballot. There are no rules, but I only include categories I feel qualified to vote for, though for the actual Academy Awards, voters are limited to their respective branches and Best Picture.
I chose the eight major categories as well as Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects. Keep in mind the Oscars use a weighted ballot, and remember, an asterisk denotes my vote to win, which doesn’t always correspond with my No. »
- Jeff Sneider
Mark Wahlberg leads The Gambler as Jim Bennett, a guy with a serious gambling addiction who’s deeply in debt to three moneylenders - a gambling ring operator (Alvin Ing), a gangster (Michael K. Williams) and John Goodman’s character, Frank, a loan shark who wants his money back but also wants to see Jim pull himself together. You can get a sense of Jim and Frank’s unique relationship in our exclusive The Gambler clip showing off a piece of their first meeting together. And a fun fact, director Rupert Wyatt told me he color coded all of the moneylenders. Check out Goodman’s red hat in our clip after the jump and then keep an eye out for more color coded components in the full feature which is playing in theaters now. The Gambler also stars Brie Larson, Emory Cohen, Anthony Kelley and Jessica Lange. Here’s our »
- Perri Nemiroff
Chris Carter’s The After is no longer being pursued at Amazon Studios. The company dropped the series, according to Variety, providing little information as to the sudden change of direction. “We have decided to not move forward with ‘The After,’ ” said Amazon Studios VP Roy Price. “We would like to thank Chris Carter, the phenomenal cast, crew and producers for all their efforts.”
The pilot for The After was produced last year, featured a fairly large ensemble cast including Jamie Kennedy, Adrian Pasdar, Sharon Lawrence, Arielle Kebbel, Aldis Hodge, Andrew Howard, Louise Monot, Sam Littlefield, and Jaina Lee Ortiz and was subsequently released on Amazon Prime the following February. The then-hopeful drama series centered on eight strangers brought together by mysterious forces, who must rely upon one another to survive in a violent world that defies explanation.
Amazon Studios began creating original content two year ago and and has »
- William Fanelli
With director Rupert Wyatt’s (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) The Gambler now playing in theaters, I recently landed an exclusive video interview with the busy director. As most of you know from the trailers, the remake stars Mark Wahlberg as a literature professor whose gambling spirals out of control, affecting both himself and those around him. The film also stars Brie Larson, Jessica Lange, John Goodman, and Michael K. Williams. As you might imagine with a script by William Monahan, the film is loaded with incredible dialogue and tense, edge-of-your-seat sequences. During the extended interview Wyatt talked about making The Gambler, Monahan's script, how his first cut differed from the final product, deleted scenes, what he would have done with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Wyatt also talked about his first feature, The Escapist, and how it's found a new audience on Netflix (if you've »
- Steve 'Frosty' Weintraub
19 items from 2015
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