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Amanda Seyfried (#110 of 27)

Toronto Film Review Paul Schrader’s First Reformed

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Toronto Film Review: Paul Schrader’s First Reformed

TIFF

Toronto Film Review: Paul Schrader’s First Reformed

Everything Paul Schrader has done throughout his career has led him to First Reformed, potentially the finest entry in what my friend and former Slant contributor Jeremiah Kipp refers to as the writer-director’s “men in rooms” films. These include 1980’s American Gigolo, 1992’s Light Sleeper, and 2007’s The Walker, all woozy character studies of not-quite-alpha males drifting through impeccably maintained, utterly empty lives that are summarily upended. The spaces these men inhabit seem an extension of their preplanned existences. Look at the way, for example, Richard Gere’s high-end sex worker, Julian Kaye, in American Gigolo organizes his California apartment as if it were a sun-dappled monk’s cell, with Armani suits as his chaplain’s wardrobe and a luxury-linened bed as his altar.

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap Part 11

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Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 11

Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 11

Where last week’s episode of Twin Peaks: The Return brought intimations of encroaching darkness on a tide of unflinching violence and male brutality, last night’s installment divides its time pretty evenly between domestic drama, furthering the show’s overarching mythology, and an extended set piece of seriocomic pop surrealism. In a tidy structural parallel, “Part 11” opens with a pair of scenes that extend (and complicate) events from last week. The first reveals that eyewitness Miriam Sullivan (Sarah Jean Long) somehow survived Richard Horne’s assault and attempted assassination via makeshift gas-oven-and-candle explosive. It’s safe to say that Horne’s misdeeds will now see the light of day, setting up an inevitable showdown with the authorities that seems likely to end in a hail of bullets.

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap Part 10

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Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 10

Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 10

In “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell,” William Blake wrote: “Without Contraries is no progression…Love and Hate are necessary to Human existence.” Last night’s installment of Twin Peaks: The Return illuminated the precarious balance between these two opposing forces, previously represented as overarching cosmic principles in “Part 8” but here embodied at the level of all-too-human experience in ways both touching and terrifying.

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap Part 5

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Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 5

Showtime

Twin Peaks: The Return Recap: Part 5

The establishing shot of the glittering nighttime Las Vegas skyline that opens “Part 5” of Twin Peaks: The Return dissolves to a street-level prowl through an old-school, neon-lit district before cutting to the Rancho Rosa billboard, moodily lit by a spotlight. The hit men who’ve been lying in wait for Dougie Jones (Kyle MacLachlan) report back that his car hasn’t moved. And for the first time, we’re introduced to their higher-up: an agitated woman sitting behind a cluttered desk, with a makeup smudge (or faded bruise) visible on her cheek, who hastily sends off a text that cryptically reads “Argent 2.”

Poster Lab: Fifty Shades of Grey and the Year-Long Movie-Marketing Tease

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Poster Lab: <em>Fifty Shades of Grey</em> and the Year-Long Movie-Marketing Tease
Poster Lab: <em>Fifty Shades of Grey</em> and the Year-Long Movie-Marketing Tease

Just as E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey books began as Twilight fan fiction, the posters for the film adaptation have long been confined to the world of fan-made art, where eager, horny designers could get their Anastasia Steele on and realize their fantasies. Many such posters featured rumored leading man Matt Bomer as Christian Grey, while others, like this entertaining gem, cast Amanda Seyfried and Arrow’s Stephen Amell as James’s BDSM-loving couple. But on Jan. 25, roughly three months after Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan were announced as the film’s leads, the first official one-sheet was released, depicting Dornan with his back to the viewer, gazing out across the Seattle skyline. The poster has reportedly been accompanied by five exclusive billboards, which can be seen at five specific locations in New York, L.A., Chicago, San Francisco, and, of course, Seattle. It’s also joined by the launch of the film’s website, where visitors can “apply for an internship program” with Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc. (or, in other words, sign up to be on the mailing list for the Universal Pictures release). It’s all part of the kick-off of the ultimate movie-marketing tease, which is touting a film that isn’t due in theaters for a full calendar year.

That RoboCop Trailer and the Folly of Paul Verhoeven Remakes

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That <em>RoboCop</em> Trailer and the Folly of Paul Verhoeven Remakes
That <em>RoboCop</em> Trailer and the Folly of Paul Verhoeven Remakes

Even amid the troubling trend of remaking films that have barely collected a speck of dust, there are still movies that can surprise you. I know quite a few colleagues who were plenty keen on last year’s Dredd, a cohesive reimagining (or whatever) of the character whose first screen outing was an ill-fated, 1990s Stallone vehicle. Most often, however, in recent times, these remakes reek of desperation—evidence of Hollywood’s tendon-stretching reach for anything remotely tied to a known, sellable brand. Yesterday, the trailer for the RoboCop remake hit the web, and anyone born after 1995 probably didn’t even flinch. “Oh, look—there’s Samuel L. Jackson, that guy from The Avengers. And there’s some robot with a gun who kinda looks like a Transformer.” Following Len Wiseman’s banal-as-bathwater take on Total Recall, the new RoboCop (set for release on Feb. 7, 2014) will mark the second re-telling—I’m running out of “re” words here—of a Paul Verhoeven movie in as little as two years. By all evidence, these two films stand as testaments to the hollowness of mainstream cinema’s brand regurgitation, as their inspirations didn’t necessarily gain notoriety for their concepts, but for their director’s knowing, satirical, just-north-of-B-movie sensibilities.

Sundance Film Festival 2013: Lovelace and The East

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Sundance Film Festival 2013: <em>Lovelace</em> and <em>The East</em>
Sundance Film Festival 2013: <em>Lovelace</em> and <em>The East</em>

With Lovelace, directors Jeffrey Friedman and Rob Epstein have attempted to bring the definitive story of porn icon Linda Lovelace to the big screen, starring Amanda Seyfried in the title role. With a script penned by Andy Bellin, the film has approached the complexities of Lovelace’s early career and later anti-porn stance by generally glossing over them, relying on camp humor and an overly stylized aesthetic. The result: a flashy biopic filled with celebrity cameo after celebrity cameo, but very little substance.

The movie doles out Lovelace’s story quickly, jumping frantically from her days as a naïve and sexually conservative teen to her awkward courtship with future husband, manager, and abuser Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard), to her lessons in the art of oral sex (unseen on screen, of course) and her fleeting post-Deep Throat stardom and later denunciation of her former life. While the supporting cast, featuring James Franco, Sharon Stone, Chris Noth, and Chloë Sevigny (the list literally goes on and on), is amusing simply for the novelty of seeing them dressed in kitschy ’70s getups playing the likes of Hugh Hefner and Harry Reems, the revolving door of familiar faces is just one example of the film’s lack of focus. The tone that Freedman and Epstein want to hit is never clear, with the sexual elements of the film handled with humor, and the adult-film industry of the ’70s presented as cheap parody complete with artificial-looking pornstaches and over-the-top, skeevy directors. The light tone would be fine if it were consistent. When claims of abuse and exploitation arise later on, the film takes on an only slightly darker tenor that doesn’t make an impact due to its whimsical attitude toward Lovelace’s exploits earlier on.

Poster Lab: The Big Wedding

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Poster Lab: <em>The Big Wedding</em>
Poster Lab: <em>The Big Wedding</em>

It would appear that one of the biggest challenges facing movies with huge, starry casts is getting all the actors together to shoot the poster image. Like New Year’s Eve before it, the treacly-looking ensemble comedy The Big Wedding comes with a one-sheet whose pretty faces couldn’t look more disparate. The designers thankfully avoided the dreaded grid approach, but one wonders if a paper-doll Photoshop assemblage is even worse. As the central couple, whose pre-marriage plight involves conflicts too tired and dull to mention, Amanda Seyfried and Ben Barnes are perhaps the only two actors who genuinely seem to have been photographed together. A case could also be made for Susan Sarandon and Robert De Niro (who, like their younger costars, have the credibility factor of joined hands), but there’s still something vexingly posed, airbrushed, and artificial about their shared moment, as if even the laughs were digitally grafted.

Everyone else may just as well be on another planet, especially Diane Keaton, whose halfhearted smile and overall bemused awkwardness support the notion that she’s in fact prepping for her latest L’Oréal Paris ad. The one star whose directional gaze seems appropriate is Christine Ebersole, who offers an uncomfortable sneer while eyeing up the crackpots to her left. Also the only actor to not receive billing, Ebersole almost looks relieved to have been kept at a certain remove, and she plays viewer surrogate as she bitingly judges the mess in her midst.

15 Famous Missing Persons

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15 Famous Missing Persons
15 Famous Missing Persons

In a role that’s sure to further squander her talent, big-eyed blonde Amanda Seyfried returns this weekend in Gone, a paranoid thriller that sees her character go rogue when the police won’t help her find her missing sister. Lots of folks go missing in the movies—kids, Dames, drugged fiancés, imaginary inmates—and some of the most memorable are right here in this list. So while Seyfried hopefully kicks off another search (for a new agent), click on through to see which cinematic abductees are here—and, if you feel so inclined, tell us which ones are, you know, missing.