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Ben Affleck Takes on Agatha Christie's Witness for the Prosecution Remake

19 August 2016 1:03 PM, PDT | MovieWeb | See recent MovieWeb news »

Ben Affleck is quickly becoming one of the busiest men in Hollywood, and seems to be gettin' while the gettin' is good. He is currently busy reprising his role as Batman for Zack Snyder in Justice League and has already signed on to direct a solo Batman movie for Warner Bros. Now it looks like he is going to be taking on yet another directing project not involving a superhero. This time, it will be an adaptation of the Agatha Christie story Witness for the Prosecution.

Deadline is reporting that 20th Century Fox is closing the deal with Ben Affleck, who will both direct and star in the movie. Witness for the Prosecution was originally written as a short story by Christie, and was adapted to the big screen in 1957 by Some Like It Hot director Billy Wilder. That version was received very well, having been nominated for Six Academy awards, »

- MovieWeb

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Ben Affleck’s ‘Live By Night’ May Enter Year-End Oscar Derby

16 August 2016 12:42 PM, PDT | Thompson on Hollywood | See recent Thompson on Hollywood news »

In late summer, studios check out rough cuts for movies that might be finished in time for year-end release. Top filmmakers and stars are eager to grab one of those key slots. But for distributors, mounting a big year-end release is costly — especially with awards campaigns attached. The movie had better have the goods. Going in January is one option.

For example, when awards-savvy Weinstein Co. commits its (limited) resources to a full campaign on Garth Davis’s “Lion,” which is hitting the fall festival circuit, then you know it’s a bonafide contender. But when “The Founder” gets a late-year limited slot with a January break, you know they’re pushing a Best Actor campaign for Oscar perennial Michael Keaton in order to boost attention.

Thus, eyes have been on Warner Bros. and Boston ’20s drama “Live By Night,” Ben Affleck long-awaited return to the director’s chair after the Oscar-winning “Argo. »

- Anne Thompson

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Ben Affleck’s ‘Live By Night’ May Enter Year-End Oscar Fray

16 August 2016 12:42 PM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

In late summer, studios check out rough cuts for movies that might be finished in time for year-end release. Top filmmakers and stars are eager to grab one of those key slots. But for distributors, mounting a big year-end release is costly — especially with awards campaigns attached. The movie had better have the goods. Going in January is one option.

For example, when awards-savvy Weinstein Co. commits its (limited) resources to a full campaign on Garth Davis’s “Lion,” which is hitting the fall festival circuit, then you know it’s a bonafide contender. But when “The Founder” gets a late-year limited slot with a January break, you know they’re pushing a Best Actor campaign for Oscar perennial Michael Keaton in order to boost attention.

Thus, eyes have been on Warner Bros. and Boston ’20s drama “Live By Night,” Ben Affleck long-awaited return to the director’s chair after the Oscar-winning “Argo. »

- Anne Thompson

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Alan Ladd Jr. Documentary Proves There’s Life Beyond the Original ‘Star Wars’

12 August 2016 7:00 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

When Alan Ladd Jr. was president of 20th Century Fox Pictures in the 1970s, he greenlit “Star Wars” and “Alien.”

That alone ensures him a place in Hollywood history. But his career also includes a third sci-fi classic — “Blade Runner” — as well as “The Omen,” “Young Frankenstein,” “Braveheart,” “Chariots of Fire,” and other cinema biggies through 2007’s “Gone Baby Gone.”

The executive is now the subject of a documentary, “It’s Always About the Story: Conversations With Alan Ladd Jr.,” which screens Aug. 13 at the Marina del Rey Festival before it continues on the festival circuit. The doc is one of four films (so far) in the Film History Preservation Project. It’s the brainchild of director-producer Stanley Isaacs, who is planning more such docs, to bring wider recognition to Hollywood’s unsung heroes: film producers.

Film buffs know stars and directors, but rarely know producers or executives like Ladd, »

- Tim Gray

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San Diego Comic-Con: New Wonder Woman, Justice League trailers and more!

25 July 2016 7:09 AM, PDT | Cineplex | See recent Cineplex news »

San Diego Comic-Con: New Wonder Woman, Justice League trailers and more!San Diego Comic-Con: New Wonder Woman, Justice League trailers and more!Adriana Floridia7/25/2016 9:09:00 Am

If you're a movie lover, comic book geek, or superhero fanatic, this past weekend at Comic-Con was as if Christmas came early.

Tons of new trailers and movie news dropped at the 2016 edition of San Diego Comic-Con, and we're just trying to catch our breath after all of the excitement. 

We've compiled everything you may have missed, whether it was the new Justice League teaser trailer, the news that Brie Larson will be playing Captain Marvel. or the epic Wonder Woman trailer. Check out everything from Comic-Con below and get excited!

Wonder Woman In 2017, the iconic female superhero finally gets her own film. It looks as though it'll be worth the wait, as Gal Gadot makes for the perfect Amazonian princess. The first »

- Adriana Floridia

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Keiynan Lonsdale on the Dance Academy movie and diversity in Aussie TV

3 July 2016 5:17 PM, PDT | IF.com.au | See recent IF.com.au news »

Keiynan Lonsdale in WB's The Flash.

Young Australian actor Keiynan Lonsdale started dancing when he was four years old..

After an episode of All Saints as a teenager and a stint performing in Fame the musical after high school, he landed an audition for the gig that was to be his big break: the second season of the ABC's unlikely international hit, Dance Academy.

"It was a good transition for me to go from dancing to acting, because I knew from Fame that I didn't want to be a dancer anymore. I wanted to focus on acting and music.".

The series provided his first real screen role ("I'd had one-liners before, [and] I was an extra a lot") then wrapped up for good after three seasons when Lonsdale was just 20.

As is now the norm, many of the young cast hotfooted it straight to La.

"When we were finishing season three, »

- Harry Windsor

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Ben Affleck May Have Passed Up The Chance To Helm Star Wars: The Force Awakens

24 June 2016 12:21 PM, PDT | We Got This Covered | See recent We Got This Covered news »

Before he donned the cape and cowl for Warner Bros., did Ben Affleck pass up the chance to take the reins of Star Wars: The Force Awakens? That was the million-dollar question presented to the writer-director when appearing on chat show Any Given Wednesday.

Much to the surprise of no one, Affleck remained coy, simply noting that he received “lots of offers” before picking up the mantle as Warner’s newfound Caped Crusader. Could one of those potential deals have teed up a trip to Disney’s galaxy far, far away?

When quizzed on the matter, Affleck said:  “Well I wouldn’t be able to say. It wouldn’t be polite to talk about the jobs you turned down. But I did have a lot of offers.”

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Hot off the one-two-three punch of Gone Baby Gone, The Town and Argo – with the latter bagging »

- Michael Briers

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Ben Affleck Calmly Discusses Career Low Point, Less Calmly Tackles Deflategate

23 June 2016 10:35 AM, PDT | Deadline TV | See recent Deadline TV news »

Sports columnist-turned-talk show host Bill Simmons said he needed a fellow Bostonian for the series premiere episode of his new HBO show Any Given Wednesday, and with Whitey Bulger “not available” he went with Ben Affleck, a sports nut who also happens to be Batman. Simmons got Affleck to open up about what he felt was the low point in his movie career (thanks to Robert Wuhl and United Airlines, of all things) before he found his voice directing via Gone Baby Gone, and… »

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Ben Affleck Calmly Discusses Career Low Point, Less Calmly Tackles Deflategate

23 June 2016 10:35 AM, PDT | Deadline | See recent Deadline news »

Sports columnist-turned-talk show host Bill Simmons said he needed a fellow Bostonian for the series premiere episode of his new HBO show Any Given Wednesday, and with Whitey Bulger “not available” he went with Ben Affleck, a sports nut who also happens to be Batman. Simmons got Affleck to open up about what he felt was the low point in his movie career (thanks to Robert Wuhl and United Airlines, of all things) before he found his voice directing via Gone Baby Gone, and… »

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Ben Affleck’s new directorial project “Live by Night” might be jumping into 2016

21 June 2016 3:42 AM, PDT | Hollywoodnews.com | See recent Hollywoodnews.com news »

Well, it’s just speculation right now, but this is potentially some very exciting news. Word trickled down over the weekend that Warner Brothers has moved the release date of Ben Affleck’s next project behind the camera, the crime epic Live by Night. Originally, we were scheduled to get it in October of this year, before it was delayed a year to October of 2017, partly to accommodate Affleck becoming Batman. Now, we’ve gotten notice that the WB has it opening in early January of 2017, which is right where American Sniper hit a few years back. As such, it’s almost a foregone conclusion now that it’ll get a qualifying run in December and be a part of the 2016 awards season. Make room folks, as a huge new contender could be joining the early stages of the race, potentially as the last player we’ll get this year. »

- Joey Magidson

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13 great modern thriller directors

14 June 2016 9:59 AM, PDT | Den of Geek | See recent Den of Geek news »

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They’ve made some of the best thrillers of the past six years. We list some of the best modern thriller directors currently working...

Director Guillermo del Toro once described suspense as being about the withholding of information: either a character knows something the audience doesn’t know, or the audience knows something the character doesn’t. That’s a deliciously simple way of describing something that some filmmakers often find difficult to achieve: keeping viewers on the edges of their seats.

The best thrillers leave us scanning the screen with anticipation. They invite us to guess what happens next, but then delight in thwarting expectations. We can all name the great thriller filmmakers of the past - Alfred Hitchcock, Carol Reed, Brian De Palma - but what about the current crop of directors? Here’s our pick of the filmmakers who’ve made some great modern thrillers over the past six years - that is, between the year 2010 and the present.

Jeremy Saulnier - Blue Ruin, Green Room

To think there was once a time when Jeremy Saulnier was seriously quitting the film business.

“To be honest," Saulner told us back in 2014, “Macon and I had really given up on our quest to break into the industry and become legitimate filmmakers. So what we were trying to do with Blue Ruin was archive our 20 year arc and bring it to a close. Really just revisit our stomping grounds and use locations that were near and dear to us and build a narrative out of that.”

Maybe this personal touch explains at least partly why Blue Ruin wound up getting so much attention in Cannes in 2013, signalling not the end of Saulnier and his star Macon Blair’s career, but a brand new chapter. But then again, there’s more than just hand-crafted intimacy in Saulnier’s revenge tale; there’s also its lean, minimal storytelling and the brilliance of its characterisation. Blue Ruin is such an effective thriller because its protagonist is so atypical: sad-eyed, inexperienced with guns, somewhat soft around the edges, Macon Blair’s central character is far from your typical righteous avenger.

Green Room, which emerged in the UK this year, explores a similar clash between very ordinary people and extraordinary violence. A young punk band shout about anarchy and aggression on stage, but they quickly find themselves out of their depth when they’re cornered by a group of bloodthirsty neo-Nazis. In Saulnier’s films, grubby, unseemly locations are matched by often beautiful locked-off shots. Familiar thriller trappings are contrasted by twists of fortune that are often shocking.

Denis Villeneuve - Sicario, Prisoners

Here’s one of those directors who can pack an overwhelming sense of dread in a single image: in Sicario, his searing drug-war thriller from last year, it was the sight of tiny specks of dust falling in the light scything through a window. That single shot proved to be the calm before the storm, as Villeneuve unleashed a salvo of blood-curdling events: an attempted FBI raid on a building gone horribly awry. And this, I think, is the brilliance of Villeneuve’s direction, and why he’s so good at directing thrillers like Sicario or 2013’s superb Prisoners - he understands the rhythm of storytelling, and how scenes of quiet can generate almost unbearable tension.

Another case in point: the highway sequence in Sicario, where Emily Blunt’s FBI agent is stuck in a traffic jam outside one of the most violent cities in the world. Villeneueve makes us feel the stifling heat and the claustrophobia; something nasty’s going to happen, we know that - but it’s the sense of anticipation which makes for such an unforgettable scene.

Prisoners hews closely to the template of a modern mystery thriller, but it’s once again enriched by Villeneuve’s expert pacing and the performances he gets out of his actors. Hugh Jackman’s seldom been better as a father on the hunt for his missing child, while Jake Gyllenhaal mesmerises as a cop scarred by his own private traumas.

Lynne Ramsay - We Need To Talk About Kevin

Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin may be the most effective psychological thriller of recent years. About the difficult relationship between a mother (Tilda Swinton) and her distant, possibly sociopathic son (Ezra Miller), Ramsay’s film is masterfully told from beginning to end - which is impressive, given that the source novel by Lionel Shriver is told via a series of letters. Ramsay takes the raw material from the book and crafts something cinematic and highly disturbing: a study of guilt, sorrow and recrimination. Tension bubbles even in casual conversations around the dinner table. Miller is an eerie, cold-eyed blank. Swinton is peerless. One scene, in which Swinton’s mother comes home in the dead of night, is unforgettable. Here’s hoping Ramsay returns with another feature film very soon.

Morten Tyldum - Headhunters

All kinds of thrillers have emerged from Scandinavia over the past few years, whether on the large or small screen or in book form. Morten Tyldum’s Headhunters is among the very best of them. The fast-paced and deliriously funny story of an art thief who steals a painting from the wrong guy, Headhunters launched Tyldum on an international stage - Alan Turing drama The Imitation Game followed, and the Sony sci-fi film Passengers is up next. It isn’t hard to see why, either: Headhunters shows off Tyldum’s mastery of pace and tone, as his pulp tale hurtles from intense chase scenes to laugh-out-loud black comedy.

Joel Edgerton - The Gift

Granted, Joel Edgerton’s better known as an actor, having turned in some superb performances in the likes of Warrior, Zero Dark Thirty and Warror. But with a single film - The Gift, which he wrote, directed, produced and starred in - Edgerton established himself as a thriller filmmaker of real promise. About a successful, happily married couple whose lives are greatly affected by an old face from the husband’s past, The Gift is an engrossing, unsettling movie with superb performances from Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall as well as Edgerton.

A riff on the ‘killer in our midst’ thrillers of the 80s and 90s - The Stepfather, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle and so on - The Gift is all the more effective because of its restraint. We’re never quite sure who the villain of the piece is, at least at first - and Edgerton’s use of the camera leaves us wrong-footed at every turn. The world arguably needs more thrillers from Joel Edgerton.

If you haven’t seen The Gift yet, we’d urge you to track it down.

David Michod - Animal Kingdom

The criminals at play in this true-life crime thriller are all the more chilling because they’re so mundane - a bunch of low-level thieves, murderers and gangsters who prowl around the rougher parts of Melbourne, Australia. Writer-director David Michod spent years developing Animal Kingdom, and it was worth the effort: it’s an intense, engrossing film, for sure, but it’s also a believable glimpse of the worst of human nature. Ben Mendelsohn and Jacki Weaver play villains of different kinds; the latter a manipulative grandmother who looks over her brood of criminals, the former a spiteful thief. Crafting moments of incredible tension from simple exchanges, Michod launched himself as a formidable talent with this feature debut.

Ben Affleck - The Town, Argo

Affleck’s period drama-thriller Argo won all kinds of awards, but we’d argue his earlier thrillers were equally well made. Gone Baby Gone was a confident debut and an economical adaptation of Dennis LeHane’s novel. The Town, released in 2010, was a heist thriller that made the most of its Boston setting. One of its key scenes - a bank robbery in which the thieves wear a range of bizarre outfits, including a nun’s habit - is masterfully staged. With Affleck capable of teasing out great performances from his actors and staging effective set-pieces, it’s hardly surprising he’s so heavily involved in making at least one Batman movie for Warner - as well as playing the hero behind the mask.

Anton Corbijn - The American, A Most Wanted Man

The quiet, almost meditative tone of Anton Corbijn’s movies mean they aren’t necessarily to everyone’s taste, but they’re visually arresting and almost seductive in their rhythm and attention to detail. Already a celebrated photographer, Corbijn successfully crossed over into filmmaking with Control, an exquisitely-made drama about Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis. Corbijn took a markedly different direction with The American, a thriller about an ageing contract killer (George Clooney) who hides out in a small Italian town west of Rome. Inevitably, trouble eventually comes calling.

Corbijn’s direction remains gripping because he doesn’t give us huge action scenes to puncture the tension. We can sense the capacity for violence coiled up beneath the hitman’s calm exterior, and Corbijn makes sure we only see rare flashes of that toughness - right up until the superbly-staged climax.

A Most Wanted Man, based on the novel by John le Carre, is a similarly astute study of an isolated yet fascinating character - in this instance, the world-weary German intelligence agent Gunther Bachmann, brilliantly played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Tragically, the film proved to be one of the last before Hoffman’s death in 2014.

Paul Greengrass - Green Zone, Captain Phillips

Mention Greengrass’ name, and the director’s frequent use of handheld cameras might immediately spring to mind. But time and again, Greengrass has proved a master of his own personal approach - you only have to look at the muddled, migraine-inducing films of his imitators to see how good a director Greengrass is. Part of the filmmakers’ visual language rather than a gimmick, Greengrass’ camera placement puts the viewer in the middle of the story, whether it’s an amnesiac agent on the run (his Bourne films) or on a hijacked aircraft (the harrowing United 93). While not a huge hit, Green Zone was an intense and intelligent thriller set in occupied Iraq. The acclaimed Captain Phillips, meanwhile, was a perfect showcase for Greengrass’ ability to fuse realism and suspense; the true story of a merchant vessel hijacked by Somali pirates, it is, to quote Greengrass himself, “a contemporary crime story.”

John Hillcoat - Lawless, Triple 9

We can’t help thinking that, with a better marketing push behind it, Triple 9 could have been a much bigger hit when it appeared in cinemas earlier this year. It has a great cast - Chiwetel Ejiofor, Norman Reedus, Anthony Mackie and Aaron Paul as a group of seasoned thieves, Kate Winslet cast against type as a gangland boss - and its heist plot rattles along like an express train.

Hillcoat seems to have the western genre pulsing through his veins, and he excels at creating worlds that are desolate and all-enveloping, whether his subjects are period pieces (The Proposition, Lawless) or post-apocalyptic dramas (The Road). Triple 9 sees Hillcoat make an urban western that is both classic noir and entirely contemporary; his use of real cops and residents around the film’s Atlanta location give his heightened story a grounding that is believable in the moment. Nowhere is this more in evidence than in the scene in which Casey Affleck’s cop breaches a building while hunkered down behind a bullet-proof shield. Hillcoat places us right there in the scene with Affleck and the cops sneaking into the building behind him; we sense the claustrophobia and vulnerability.

Hillcoat explained to us in February that this sequence wasn’t initially written this way in the original script; it changed when the director and his team discovered how real-world cops protect themselves in real-world situations. In Triple 9, research and great filmmaking combine to make an unforgettably intense thriller.

Jim Mickel - Cold In July

Seemingly inspired by such neo-Noir thrillers as Red Rock West and Blood Simple, 2014‘s Cold In July is a genre gem from director Jim Mickle (Stake Land, We Are What We Are). Michael C Hall plays an ordinary guy in 80s America who shoots an intruder who breaks into his home, and becomes drawn into a moody conspiracy that takes in crooked cops, porn and a private eye (who's also keen pig-rearer) played by Don Johnson. Constantly shifting between tones, Mickel’s thriller refuses to stick to genre expectations. In one scene, after Hall shoots the burglar dead, Mickel’s camera lingers over the protagonist as he cleans up the blood and glass. It’s touches like these that make Cold In July far more than a typical thriller.

Mickel’s teaming up with Sylvester Stallone next; we’re intrigued to see what that partnership produces.

Martin Scorsese - Shutter Island

As a filmmaker, Scorsese needs no introduction. As a director of thrillers, he’s in a class of his own: from Taxi Driver via the febrile remake of Cape Fear to the sorely underrated Bringing Out The Dead, his films are full of suspense and the threat of violence. Shutter Island, based on the Dennis LeHane novel of the same name, saw Scorsese plunge eagerly into neo-noir territory. A murder mystery set in a mental institution on the titular Shutter Island, its atmosphere is thick with menace. Like a combination of Robin Hardy's The Wicker Man and Adrian Lyne’s cult classic Jacob’s Ladder, Shutter Island’s one of those stories where we never know who we can trust - even the protagonist, played by Leonardo DiCaprio.

David Fincher - The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl

After the trial by fire that was Alien 3, David Fincher found his footing in the 90s with such hits as Seven and The Game. In an era where thrillers were in much greater abundance, from the middling to the very good, Seven in particular stood out as a genre classic: smartly written, disturbing, repulsive and yet captivating to look at all at once. Fincher’s affinity for weaving atmospheric thrillers continued into the 2010s, first with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, a superb retelling of Stieg Larsson’s book which didn’t quite find the appreciative audience deserved, and Gone Girl, an even better movie which - thankfully - became a hit.

Based on Gillian Flynn’s novel (and adapted by the author herself), Gone Girl is both a gripping thriller and a thoroughly twisted relationship drama. Fincher’s mastery of the genre is all here: his millimetre-perfect composition, seamless touches of CGI and subtle yet effective uses of colour and shadow. While not a straight-up masterpiece like the period thriller Zodiac, Gone Girl is still a glossy, smart and blackly funny yarn in the Hitchcock tradition. If there’s one master of the modern thriller currently working, it has to be Fincher.

See related  John Hillcoat interview: Triple 9, crime, fear of comic geniuses Jim Mickle interview: Cold In July, thrillers, Argento Jeremy Saulnier interview: Green Room, John Carpenter Jeremy Saulnier interview: making Blue Ruin & good thrillers Denis Villeneuve interview: Sicario, Kurosawa, sci-fi, ugly poetry Morten Tyldum interview: The Imitation Game, Cumberbatch, Headhunters Paul Greengrass interview: Captain Phillips & crime stories Movies Feature Ryan Lambie thrillers 15 Jun 2016 - 06:11 Cold In July Triple 9 Shutter Island Gone Girl David Fincher Martin Scorsese John Hillcoat Directors thrillers movies »

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John Travolta: examining his recent straight to DVD movies

12 June 2016 2:24 PM, PDT | Den of Geek | See recent Den of Geek news »

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We check out the John Travolta films that have been bypassing cinemas over the past few years...

In the days leading up to writing this article, which will cover a recent period in which he’s made a bunch of films that have quickly drifted to DVD or VOD, I had to stop and ask myself a genuine question: how do I actually feel about John Travolta?

The answer that rose from the depths of my coal-black, hell-bound soul was weirdly surprising. Brushing aside his personal life – which is not worth getting into here – I found I had nothing but good feelings surrounding his work as an actor.

I grew up with Carrie, Grease, Look Who’s Talking and perhaps his best film, Brian De Palma’s Blow Out. I also grew up with some of his clunkers, like the Look Who’s Talking sequels and 80s concept comedy The Experts. He’s been acting since before I was born, so he’s always been in the background of my pop culture landscape – working solidly for more than 40 years.

Over those decades, his catalogue has defied explanation. He seems to unapologetically pick whatever he feels moved to be a part of regardless of criticism and, goddamn it, there’s something inherently admirable about that. Unlike, say, Bruce Willis, he doesn’t seem happy with doing just a couple of days work on a shoot in a smaller part; more often he will choose to be the star, or at least have equal-ish screen time – even if the project isn’t boasting a huge budget or a big name director. When Pulp Fiction thrust him back into the mainstream, he was still picking up stuff like Phenomenon and Michael in the following years.

I can confidently say that I’ve never seen the man actively 'phone in' a performance and even when he’s overcooked it, there’s usually a decent reason. I mean, if you find yourself on the set of Face/Off going up against The Cage, you’re gonna need to fight fire with fire. Even in Battlefield Earth, he was at least trying.

But in the last half decade we’ve found ourselves in a deeper Travolta trough than we’ve ever been in before. His films aren’t quite cutting the mustard in the industry like they used to and, after a run of flops that have seen him drift back into television with an impressive turn as Robert Shapiro in The People V. O.J. Simpson, I find myself wondering 'will Travolta ever be big business again?'

So, I took a look at four of the films that Travolta’s worked on in the last few years - each of which has effectively gone straight to DVD (save for a few days in a cinema) - to see if anything’s slipped under our radar that needs a boost…

The Forger (2014)

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 7% IMDb Rating – 5.7/10

In The Forger, John Travolta is a man serving a prison sentence who makes a call to get out of it early so he can spend more time with his dying son. In exchange for help with bribing the judge to release him early, John’s expected to help forge a Monet for his erstwhile crime boss, played by Hell On WheelsAnson Mount.

As the film casually flits between the forge/heist story and the bonding relationship between John and his son, it’s a testament to director Philip Martin - who comes from a TV background where he’s learnt his trade by helping to bring Prime Suspect and Wallander crime stories to life – that it isn’t a complete disaster. In someone else’s hands, it very well could have been.

Instead, The Forger has a delicate touch and a lot of the shots are interesting and unexpected without being jarring. It flows very smoothly and there’s an undercurrent of genuine love stemming from Travolta’s performance. After losing his own son, making a film about losing a son might have been cathartic and definitely quite close to the bone. I don’t want to read too much into Travolta’s choices, because that way madness lies, but it does really come across as though he cared about this one.

The Forger’s family scenes - with Travolta’s son Tye Sheridan and father Christopher Plummer - play really well, and while the tone of these scenes doesn’t gel with the heist elements of the plot, there’s good stuff here.

Overall, there’s not quite enough substance to sail the whole thing smoothly down the river, but it’s not bad by any stretch and the reviews have been a little harsh on what is actually a perfectly average film. No, you won’t watch it again, but neither will you probably regret watching it in the first place.

Criminal Activities (2015)

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 47% IMDb Rating – 5.8/10

Hoo boy, that title. That’s the worst title. I can’t imagine anyone involved could have wanted it. It’s maybe the most generic title I’ve ever seen. It’s so bad that even when I picked up the DVD, looked at the cover and saw that Michael Pitt (Hannibal, Boardwalk Empire) and Dan Stevens (The Guest, The Guest, The Guest) were Travolta’s co-stars in this, I still felt like I was drowning in the beigeness of it.

The film itself - Jackie Earle Haley's directorial debut - is an unfortunate mess. The plot, such as it is, involves Michael, Dan and the rest of the lads from their childhood gang borrowing money from a mob boss (Travolta) to invest in some sure-fire stocks that immediately collapse, leaving them out of pocket and in John’s. To pay off the debt, he wants them to kidnap a guy, because that guy’s friend kidnapped someone else. It’s convoluted and makes little sense, due to the fact that there’s a big twist coming at the end which will clarify most, if not all of it.

The actors are doing wayyy too much in the film - directed by an actor who clearly wants the actors to have room to act - and therein lies the fundamental problem. Apart from a great turn by Edi Gathegi (Gone Baby Gone, X-Men: First Class, Crank) it’s impossible to point a finger at anyone else in the cast and say 'yep, you, good job' because there’s just too much going on.

The twist is actually decent, but everything leading up to it is a headache. Working on a low budget, most of the scenes are dialogue-heavy, arduous and reliant on excessive coverage – so what you end up with is a film where a load of dudes sit in a room together and shout and swear at each other a lot. I wanted to take that final twist aside, buy it a drink, hug it, and reassure it that it deserved better.

I’m afraid to say there’s not much here to recommend, which is ironic given that it’s had the most positive reviews of the bunch.

I Am Wrath (2016)

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 13% IMDb Rating – 5.2/10

I Am Wrath is the worst film of these four by a long chalk.

Here, John stars as a man who decides payback is needed when his wife (Rebecca de Mornay) is killed before his eyes. That’s really all there is, plot-wise. See, it turns out he’s a man with a very particular set of skills and yada yada yada off he goes.

The script - written by Paul 'nope, nothing you’ve heard of' Sloan - is so very, very bad. I am going to tell you how bad it is, so you don’t think I’m just whistlin’ Dixie here:

During his wife’s funeral, John tells the priest that he’s an atheist after the priest gives him a bible in his time of need. Later, Travolta flings this bible across the room angrily. He then stops, pulls a full Joey Tribbiani 'smell-the-fart', slowly approaches the discarded bible, picks it up and reads a line about wrath with the dumbest revelatory expression on his face as the music builds. He sees this as a sign that he should become wrath, despite his earlier insistence that he thinks religion is total garbage.

Later, when asked who he is, Travolta looks determinedly into a mirror and says “I am wrath” – he said the name of the movie you guys! Holy shit. Honestly, I could not believe how hackneyed the whole thing was, not to mention bizarre - the film regularly abandons its serious 'violence begets violence' tone whenever John’s Bff Christopher Meloni turns up, suddenly becoming a jokey buddy comedy.

This was hard to get through. Please avoid it at all costs, for there is nothing here to keep you warm at night.

Killing Season (2013)

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 11% IMDb Rating – 5.4/10

De Niro and Travolta – together at last?

Well, the opening sequence gives us a bit of background on the reason we’re all here. Something bad happened during the Bosnian War that will bring our two main dudes together for some serious vengeance. The sequence is sepia, because past, and ohhhhh god, here comes the present…

It’s at this point that we discover that John is going to attempt an Eastern European accent. It is Not Good. It is not John Malkovich in Rounders, but it is Not Good and we are stuck with it for the duration.

His facial hair during this first scene is also completely ridiculous. I can’t adequately describe how bonkers it is, but try to imagine a werewolf that can only grow stubble carefully shaving a circle into its face. It’s a relief to find that they decided to tone this down for the rest of the film - he looks more like he’s wearing a black chinstrap from then on.

Despite the accent and the questionable chin beard, it’s a lot easier to buy Travolta as a man on a mission of vengeance during Killing Season than it was during I Am Wrath. He’s obviously jazzed to be working with De Niro and he’s knuckled down to bounce off him, keeping it low-key and making an effort not to overdo it.

As a result of this equilibrium, we also get a glimpse of a pre-Meet The Parents De Niro - which is very much welcomed, sweet lord - and the two men head into the second act ready to take each other on, hunt each other down and resolve those Bosnian sins of the past in the most violent way possible.

The script - by proposed Tomb Raider reboot scribe Evan Daugherty - occasionally stumbles, but is solid enough. The direction is fine. It’s fine. It’s probably Mark Steven Johnson’s best film (but when his other major films are Daredevil and Ghost Rider, that’s not exactly a gush) and as the two leads hunt and trap each other, a lot of Predator love oozes out of the frame. Unfortunately, this is not Predator, but you could do worse on an evening than to sit through this instead (if you don’t own Predator).

…Oh my god you guys. We should totally watch Predator right now.

Until next time, and until the next rebirth of Mr Travolta, I bid you adieu.

Next time: the straight to DVD movies of John Cusack

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See related  Bruce Willis: examining his recent straight-to-dvd movies DVD & Bluray Feature Movies Kirsten Howard John Travolta 14 Jun 2016 - 05:16 The Forger I Am Wrath Criminal Activities Killing Season »

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Film Review: Now You See Me 2

9 June 2016 10:11 AM, PDT | LatinoReview | See recent LatinoReview news »

Synopsis: After fleeing from a stage show, the illusionists (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson) known as the Four Horsemen find themselves in more trouble in Macau, China. Devious tech wizard Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) forces the infamous magicians to steal a powerful chip that can control all of the world's computers. Meanwhile, vengeful FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) hatches his own plot against Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), the man he blames for the death of his father.

Remember when sequels were quaint? You probably can’t, and that’s okay. It was a long time ago when cable wasn’t digital and people dreamed about what the world-wide web might have to offer. For the purpose of this review, let’s say there are two kinds of sequels. There are those that aim to delve deeper into the characters audiences loved before. They raise the stakes because a new threat »

- Tyler Richardson

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Win Passes To The Advance Screening Of Central Intelligence In St. Louis

7 June 2016 8:40 PM, PDT | WeAreMovieGeeks.com | See recent WeAreMovieGeeks.com news »

Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart star in the action comedy Central Intelligence, for New Line Cinema and Universal Pictures.

The story follows a one-time bullied geek, Bob (Johnson), who grew up to be a lethal CIA agent, coming home for his high school reunion. Claiming to be on a top-secret case, Bob enlists the help of former “big man on campus,” Calvin (Hart), now an accountant who misses his glory days. But before the staid numbers-cruncher realizes what he’s getting into, it’s too late to get out, as his increasingly unpredictable new friend drags him through a world of shoot-outs, double-crosses and espionage that could get them both killed in more ways than Calvin can count.

Central Intelligence also stars Oscar nominee Amy Ryan (“Gone Baby Gone”), Aaron Paul (TV’s “Breaking Bad”), and Danielle Nicolet (TV’s “The Game”).

The film is directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (“We’re the Millers, »

- Movie Geeks

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Triple 9 Blu-ray Clip Gets Dirty with Chiwetel Ejiofor | Exclusive

31 May 2016 12:44 PM, PDT | MovieWeb | See recent MovieWeb news »

After hitting theaters in late February, the action-packed Triple 9 debuts today on Blu-ray and DVD from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. If you haven't seen this thriller yet, we have an exclusive preview for you to check out, before picking up the movie on Blu-ray, DVD or Digital HD this week. Our exclusive scene features Chiwetel Ejiofor's Michael, explaining to Marcus (Anthony Mackie) and Franco (Clifton Collins Jr.) the details surrounding his first ever kill.

When a veteran cop and his rookie nephew discover a shocking conspiracy that leads dangerously close to home, they'll stop at nothing to get to the truth in Triple 9, an action-packed tale of corruption and betrayal currently available on Digital HD, Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Propelled by John Hillcoat's (The Road, The Proposition) ferocious directorial style and a top-notch cast, Triple 9 races through a world »

- MovieWeb

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Ben Affleck is capable of more than you know in The Accountant trailer

12 May 2016 7:18 PM, PDT | JoBlo.com | See recent JoBlo news »

I've got to hand it to Ben Affleck, the dude has really turned his professional life around. After a period in which he seemed trapped in an endless cycle of run-of-the-mill action films and romantic comedies, Affleck took control and stepped behind the camera to give us some awesome films like Gone Baby Gone and Argo, not to mention taking on some interesting acting challenges in Gone... Read More »

- Kevin Fraser

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Ben Affleck Humiliated by Poor Batman v Superman Response?

7 May 2016 1:02 PM, PDT | MovieWeb | See recent MovieWeb news »

Yesterday it was announced that Ben Affleck is taking on the role of executive producer for Justice League, which he is currently shooting in London. The actor will reprise his role as vigilante superhero Batman. But apparently he's not happy about the way things are going. That's one of the main reasons why he was given a new title on the Zack Snyder directed superhero ensemble. Now comes word that the actor was just down right humiliated by the poor response Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice garnered from critics and fans alike.

After it was announced that Ben Affleck was being promoted to executive producer on Justice League, more info came out about exactly what this position means for the actor. Apparently, he will be working very closely with director Zack Snyder and screenwriter Chris Terrio to fine-tune the script on set. The trio will collaborate together to make the best movie they can. »

- MovieWeb

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Ben Affleck Becomes Executive Producer of ‘Justice League’

6 May 2016 1:41 PM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Ben Affleck has expanded his role in the DC universe by taking on the duties of executive producer on Warner Bros.’ “Justice League: Part One,” in addition to starring as Batman.

Affleck will work with director Zack Snyder and screenwriter Chris Terrio on the script and weigh in on post-production.

Affleck has directing credits on “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town.” He also produced, directed and starred in “Argo,” which won him a best picture Oscar. Terrio won the best original screenplay Academy Award for the same film.

Affleck also nabbed a screenplay Oscar with Matt Damon for “Good Will Hunting.”

Snyder began shooting “Justice League: Part One” in April with Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Amy Adams, Amber Heard, Jeremy Irons, J. K. Simmons and Willem Dafoe. The film is scheduled to be released on Nov. 17, 2017, with “Justice League Part Two” set »

- Dave McNary

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Justice League Promotes Ben Affleck to Executive Producer

6 May 2016 1:26 PM, PDT | MovieWeb | See recent MovieWeb news »

In the DC Movie Universe, it might just be Batman star Ben Affleck who brings balance to the force. At least, that's what Warner Bros. is banking on as they recently announced the man will be co-writing, directing and acting in an as yet untitled Batman solo movie that was not originally announced as part of the Dceu. Now, the studio is taking it a step further, officially making Affleck an executive producer on the now in-production DC adventure Justice League Part 1.

Ben Affleck is the main lead in Justice League, reprising his role as billionaire Bruce Wayne, who sets out to bring a number of Meta-Humans together to form this team of superheroes. In Affleck's new role as an executive producer, he will be working closely with director Zack Synder and screenwriter Chris Terrio. The hope is that he can steer this massive ship in the right direction, »

- MovieWeb

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Justice League Elects Ben Affleck As Executive Producer

6 May 2016 12:40 PM, PDT | We Got This Covered | See recent We Got This Covered news »

Batfleck’s presence in the DC Extended Universe reaches another level today. While his planned Batman solo flick continues to simmer in pre-production, Ben Affleck has now been elected executive producer of Warner’s Justice League movie, according to Deadline.

Working in tandem with Zack Snyder and screenwriter Chris Terrio, it’s understood the actor-director will help craft the film during production, where he will also be reprising his role as the Caped Crusader alongside Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Ezra Miller (The Flash), Ray Fisher (Cyborg), Jason Momoa (Aquaman) and Henry Cavill as Supes.

On paper, it’s an astute move; Affleck has, after all, long proven his storytelling credentials thanks to the one-two-three punch of Gone Baby Gone, The Town and Argo at Warner – a roster of films that’ll soon make room for one more in crime thriller Live By Night. It’s a streak that has seemingly »

- Michael Briers

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