10 items from 2015
"I make unapologetically R-rated, ferociously violent, action & crime cinema," producer Adi Shankar ("Dredd," "Lone Survivor," "A Walk Among The Tombstones," "Killing Them Softly") says in his Twitter profile. Though that seems to presuppose that the only way to do that kind of material is in an R-rated format. We'll leave that debate for another day, but Shankar has been putting his philosophy to use in his ongoing bootleg series of shorts, and today comes the violent, gritty take "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers" you've always wanted. Uh, right? Rounding up James Van Der Beek, Katie Sackhoff, and Joseph Kahn ("Torque") to direct, this one imagines what would happen if those colorful teenage kids trained to fight turned into adults with Ptsd. Well, it is in a blue palette world of electronic music and choreographed fights. It's an interesting take on the material, though the aesthetic design feels somewhat »
- Kevin Jagernauth
"Bloodline" has all the qualities you need for a great drama series. Kyle Chandler stars...and, well, really that's the end of the list. Sure, it's also from Netflix's originals department, which has so far churned out plenty of Emmy-winning live action series like "House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black." It's also created by the Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated producers of "Damages," and features a cast made up of one Oscar winner (Sissy Spacek), an Oscar nominee (Sam Shephard), an Emmy nominee/everyone's favorite "Freaks and Geek" star (Linda Cardellini) and a hot up-and-comer who's starred in films like "Killing Them Softly" and "The Place Behind the Pines" (Ben Mendelsohn). But really, the draw here is Coach Chandler, as "Friday Night Lights" fans like to call him. Take a look at the new trailer below — and the series' official poster ("key art") — for what looks like a moody, »
- Ben Travers
Written by John Maclean
Directed by John Maclean
Slow West is immersive in scope and proudly lethargic in its pacing. It envelops you in the dangerous world of the 19th-century Wild West, where a lovestruck Scot is chasing a woman in hope of saving her from the “dead or alive” bounty on her head. Teenager Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smith-McPhee of The Young Ones and The Road) is joined by mysterious charmer Silas (Michael Fassbender) who teaches him how to survive the elements and outlaws even as he sets his sights on getting the bounty himself. Slow West is reminiscent of the care taken in John Ford’s love letters to the West (The Searchers, Stagecoach) as it has the same sensibilities and tensions that are drawn out between love, duty, and the sad reality of circumstance. It »
- Lane Scarberry
When Johnny Depp‘s mustache comedy “Mortdecai” brought in less than $5 million on opening weekend, it marked the A-list actor’s fifth straight box office bomb. But he’s far from the only top billed actor to endure a tanker or two.
Also Read: 19 Biggest Box-Office Bombs and Bummers in 2014: From ‘The Giver’ to ‘Winter’s Tale’ (Photos)
- Travis Reilly and Todd Cunningham
The 51-year-old actor adds another flop to his already long streak, but other actors aren’t betting their careers on only box-office bankability
The actor plays the Wolf in Disney’s ensemble musical “Into the Woods,” but his last leading man hit was 2011’s installment of “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Last year’s “Transcendence” fizzled, as did 2013’s “The Lone Ranger” and »
- Linda Ge
At the premiere in New York of Kevin Macdonald's action-packed marine thriller Black Sea, starring an intrepid Jude Law with Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn, I asked Law about his relationship to the ocean and talked with producer Charles Steel about the horror of shackled skeletons. Screenwriter Dennis Kelly gives the world an ultimatum and I found out from the director that for him grapefruit rituals differ from continent to continent.
Law's face in Black Sea, looking a bit more roughed up and disillusioned than we are used to, commands the story of survival and greed. Wolfgang Petersen's Das Boot meets Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer, meets Andrew Dominik's Killing Them Softly. The latter because of the team of McNairy [as Daniels] and Mendelsohn [as Fraser]. The two actors form again a wildly entertaining duo of unsavoury immoral characters. »
- Anne-Katrin Titze
While it’s being treated to a December release in his native UK, director Kevin MacDonald’s latest feature film, Black Sea, gets plopped into Us theaters in January, perhaps signaling a wise move so that it will stand out amidst the litter of debris that constitutes the vein of awards fodder holdovers and studio doldrums flooding the theaters during that season. Fresh from his enjoyable dip into Ya dystopia with How I Live Now, MacDonald returns to a tale bearing a bit more historical baggage, spiriting us away into a homosocial space of mounting tensions and rival cultural attitudes. A likeable lead performance from Jude Law plus a handful of nervy twists and turns helps its claustrophobic narrative chug along to a finale of limited possibilities.
Being informed he’s about to be laid off by his employer, »
- Nicholas Bell
The Sundance Film Festival’s Premieres section is “A showcase of world premieres of some of the most highly anticipated narrative films of the coming year.”
Mississippi Grind — Image courtesy of The Sundance Institute
From the writing and directing duo that brought us Half Nelson and It’s Kind of a Funny Story comes Mississippi Grind, starring Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendelsohn as a pair of desperate gamblers on the road. Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck have thus far earned a solid indie reputation, so there’s not much reason to doubt that they’ll deliver engaging content even if one’s unsure of the acting team that’s being put to task. Reynolds’ name may suffer from overexposure in big studio flops like X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Green Lantern, whereas Mendelsohn’s growing respectability flies well below pop culture’s radar. »
- Lane Scarberry
If you are a Hollywood film fan, especially those more into the darker R rated genre, then you probably have seen some of producer Adi Shankar’s films. He has been behind the action thrillers The Grey and A Walk Among the Tombstones (both starring Liam Neeson), Lone Survivor (Mark Wahlberg) and Killing Them Softly (Brad Pitt), among others.
Now, the young producer is bringing the Hindi film epic drama Gangs of Wasseypur to the Us. Gangs of Wasseypur is director/writer/producer Anurag Kashyap’s ambitious and extraordinary blood-and-bullets-fueled crime saga that charts 70 years in the lives – and spectacular deaths – of two mafia-like families fighting for control of the coal-mining town of Wasseypur, India. Inspired by the real-life exploits of local gangs the film, Gangs of Wasseypur is produced by Guneet Monga (The Lunchbox), and boasts an incredible cast, including Manoj Bajpayee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Jaideep Ahlawat, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Piyush Mishra, »
- Stacey Yount
While we're in the season of the industry congratulating itself, if there was an Oscar for Keeping Cinephile Hope Alive, it would be awarded to producer Megan Ellison. Under her Annapurna Pictures banner, she has shepherded the kinds of risky, adventurous filmmaking that the studios generally don't want to invest in these days, and this nearly three-minute supercut is a highlight reel of what she's brought to screens from 2012 onward. Why is that such a pivotal year? Well, it arguably marks the start of the run of the movies that made her name, and associated Ellison with some of the most talented contemporary filmmakers of the current generation. Hell, the list of movies speaks for itself: "Lawless," "Killing Them Softly," "The Master," "Spring Breakers," "Zero Dark Thirty," "The Grandmaster," "Her," "American Hustle," and "Foxcatcher." Whether it's a true story military procedural, a »
- Kevin Jagernauth
10 items from 2015
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