12 items from 2014
Tired of watching Elf, The Polar Express and It’s A Wonderful Life back-to-back every Christmas Eve? Voltage Pictures may have just the thing for you, with news that the studio is moving forward with a ludicrous action flick titled The Guns of Christmas Past and has brought Kevin Tancharoen on board to direct.
The movie, very loosely inspired by Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, centers on a retired hitman who finds himself in Chicago on Christmas Eve to avenge the death of a friend. That night, the hitman realizes that he must fight three unlikely adversaries from his past, present and future if he’s to avenge his friend’s death and find out who he really is in the process. Andrew Hilton, who also wrote upcoming flicks Bullet Run and The Lost Patrol, penned the script.
Honestly, that premise sounds just nutty enough to work. Typical Christmas movies »
- Isaac Feldberg
The plot centers on a retired assassin who returns to his hometown of Chicago on Christmas Eve to avenge the death of his longtime friend. He finds himself going up against three adversaries from his past, present and future, while discovering who he really is in the process.
Andrew Hilton wrote the screenplay, with Voltage Pictures' Zev Foreman and Nicolas Chartier producing. Voltage is also developing Andrew Hilton's script Bullet Run, which Rob Cohen signed on to direct back in 2011. He also has The Lost Patrol set up at Legendary Pictures.
Sherry Lansing, the former prexy of 20th Century Fox, and chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures for 12 years, was at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival this week with her husband, William Friedkin, who received the Crystal Globe for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema.
Lansing, who played a leading role in the success of such films as “Forrest Gump,” “Braveheart” and Titanic,” spoke to Variety about the prospects for talented female executives in international territories, the quality of Hollywood movies today, her objectives in the field of philanthropy, and Mel Gibson.
In 1980, you earned the status of trailblazer when you became the first woman to head a Hollywood studio. Although many female execs have followed in your footsteps Stateside, in international territories it is far less common to find female heads of leading film companies. What are the key factors that would change that and help talented female executives rise worldwide? »
- Leo Barraclough
Much like that it portrays, with the war movie there is always a thin line between success and failure. When dealing with such a hefty and complex subject matter, is one best suited to going on the offensive or holding back and forming a defensive line of conservatism? When dealing with real conflict involving real people, either by historical inspiration or factual invocation, are you making a drama or an action flick?
Regardless of which route one takes, this is a genre as susceptible to mediocrity and false hope as any other. Whether it be a great battle from history rendered obsolete by caricature or a teasing of genuine, shellshock events betrayed by insensitive thriller tropes, there will always be those that fail to hit the target when victory was so surely within reach. Intention is always undermined by incompetence.
Rather than look at the worst of the crop, Cinematic »
- Scott Patterson
Usually June is associated with the first real month of summer -- a time to go out and frolic through the wilderness like a snowman that doesn't know any better. But it also gets really, really hot, which has people retreating to their local multiplex or, even better, their luxuriously air-conditioned living rooms. With that in mind, take a look at the television shows and movies that will be available on Netflix's steaming service come June (via Vulture).
Thought the snail-who-dreamed-of-being-a-racecar saga ended with last summer's DreamWorks Animated joint "Turbo?" Think again. Apparently there's a television spin-off. And you can watch it on Netflix. We also have to give it up for a pair of wonderful sequels that are going to be on in June: the obviously-shot-in-Canada-even-though-it's-set-in-New York robo-epic "Short Circuit 2" (a favorite since childhood) and the far darker and more sinister "Wolf Creek 2," a sequel to the »
- Drew Taylor
Audiences congregated Wednesday for Sony’s faith-based film “Heaven Is for Real,” which kicked off the Easter weekend with an opening day gross of $3.7 million from 2,417 locations.
The feature adaptation of Todd Burpo’s real-life book, from director Randall Wallace (“We Were Soldiers”), received mostly mixed reviews from critics. Though based on its ‘A’ CinemaScore, Sony is confident the film will ride strong word-of-mouth among mostly religious auds throughout the holiday weekend.
There has been an influx of religious-based films of late, with Fox’s “Son of God,” Paramount’s “Noah” and Freestyle Releasing’s box office standout “God’s Not Dead,” which so far has grossed more than $42 million domestically. Even with “Heaven Is for Real” entering the market, “God’s Not Dead” fell just 25% on Wednesday, playing at 1,860 engagements.
- Andrew Stewart
Chicago – It would be easy to dismiss “Heaven Is for Real,” given that it is based on the visions of the afterlife by a child, that just happens to coincide perfectly with Christian doctrine (Jesus, Angels, etc.). But there is more to this film in the sincerity of its spirituality, and it succeeds with that inspiration.
The key was establishing a viable authenticity to the atmosphere of the vision, and get the right cast to deliver it, which director Randall Wallace (“Secretariat,” “We Were Soldiers”) was able to accomplish. He creates a hometown America that is part of the scenario, a luxurious and spacious hinterland of unyielding peace. The juxtaposition of the otherworldly garden of the boy’s vision with the wonder of earth creates a “heaven” that is for real, if we open our eyes. That spirit of simplicity becomes the kingdom.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
Despite its hopelessly silly title, the handsome and humanistic “Heaven Is for Real” is poised to become the biggest Christian crossover hit since the “Chronicles of Narnia” franchise. That's because director Randall Wallace (“Secretariat,” “We Were Soldiers”) offers a soft sell on Reverend Todd Burpo's truth – that his then three-year-old son Colton met Jesus during a life-saving operation, as related in his best-selling non-fiction book. Wallace smartly leaves room for skeptics of Burpo's account to maintain their doubt; what matters most is that audiences understand the film character's reasons for choosing to believe his son's vision/dream/delirium. Also read: ‘God's Not. »
- Inkoo Kang
After the contentious likes of “Noah” and “God’s Not Dead,” Hollywood’s season of Christian-themed cinema continues in relatively innocuous fashion with “Heaven Is for Real,” a bland, earnest yet appreciably restrained adaptation of Midwestern minister Todd Burpo’s inspirational bestseller about his young son’s miraculous glimpse of eternity. Audiences not inclined to suspend their disbelief, let alone take a leap of faith, will have no use for the film’s corn-fed sincerity or its clean-scrubbed celestial visions. Still, it’s something of a relief to report that the movie isn’t quite the vomitous bucket of spiritual saccharine the ads would suggest, and those willing to engage may be pleasantly surprised by some of its understated virtues: a carefully open-minded appeal to skeptics, a wry sense of humor that wards off sententiousness at key moments, and a fine cast of name actors (led by Greg Kinnear) who »
- Justin Chang
Chicago – The actor Greg Kinnear has been known for his neat and tidy image, but never has he portrayed a religious leader. His role as Todd Burpo – a pastor of a church and the father whose son believes “Heaven Is for Real” – brings the energy of spirituality to the movies just in time for the Easter holiday.
Born in small town Logansport, Indiana, Greg Kinnear was the son of a career diplomat, and moved around quite a bit as a child, even living overseas. He is a veteran actor who first came into prominence when he hosted the first version of “Talk Soup” on the E! Network in 1991. Four years later, he made a splashy film debut as David Larrabee in the 1995 remake of Billy Wilder’s “Sabrina,” directed by Sydney Pollack.
Photo credit: TriStar Pictures
A couple years later, »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
Based on the #1 New York Times best-selling book of the same name, Heaven Is For Real brings to the screen the true story that has inspired millions across the globe – that of a little boy’s extraordinary, life-changing experience, and his father’s search for the courage and conviction to share his son’s discovery with the world.
Academy Award® nominee and Emmy® Award-winner Greg Kinnear (Little Miss Sunshine) stars as Todd Burpo, a small-town businessman, volunteer firefighter and pastor struggling to make ends meet in a tough year for his family. After his bright young son Colton (newcomer Connor Corum in his feature film debut) is rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery, Todd and his wife Sonja (Kelly Reilly, Flight, Sherlock Holmes) are overjoyed by his miraculous survival. But they are wholly unprepared for what happens next — Colton starts to matter-of-factly recount what he says was an amazing journey to heaven and back. »
- Movie Geeks
Actor Jon Hamm, star of the upcoming Million Dollar Arm, was on hand to receive the CinemaCon Award of Excellence in Acting from Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios Alan Horn at The Walt Disney Studios Exclusive Presentation.
Hamm also introduced a Special Screening Of Million Dollar Arm on March 26, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
A native of St. Louis, Hamm currently stars on AMC’s “Mad Men” as the high-powered, philandering advertising executive, Don Draper.
In 2012, Hamm starred in Friends With Kids (which he also produced), for writer/director/star Jennifer Westfeldt, opposite Adam Scott, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Megan Fox. His previous film credits include Bridesmaids, Ben Affleck’s The Town, Zack Snyder’s fantasy thriller Sucker Punch, Shrek Forever After, in which he voiced the character ‘Brogan,’ The Day The Earth Stood Still, Jennifer Westfeldt’s Ira & Abby, Kissing Jessica Stein »
- Michelle McCue
12 items from 2014
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