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Adam McKay’s Vice with Christian Bale and Amy Adams Gets Trailer and Poster

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Adam McKay’s Vice Starring Christian Bale and Amy Adams Gets Trailer and Poster

Annapurna Pictures

Adam McKay’s Vice Starring Christian Bale and Amy Adams Gets Trailer and Poster

Three years after he hit paydirt and a bonanza of critical acclaim for The Big Short, Adam McKay is back with Vice, which is being billed by distributor Annapurna Pictures as “the untold true story that changed the course of history.” Written by McKay, the film follows the rise of Dick Cheney (played by Christian Bale) and how he shaped the American landscape, as well as the world, as vice president to George W. Bush. According to a recent Variety article, Bale’s performance demanded that he cut off his hair, bleach his eyebrows, and gain 40 pounds. Naturally, there’s already talk of an Oscar nod for the actor, as well as for Sam Rockwell and Amy Adams, who star in the film as Bush and Cheney’s wife, Lynne, respectively.

Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions Supporting Actor

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Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actor

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actor

Frances McDormand will all but certainly reap the benefit of staying true to form and eschewing the bulk of the Oscar campaigning playbook, thereby avoiding having to utter any defenses for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, unquestionably this year’s most #problematic awards contender. Sam Rockwell, conversely, has spent Oscar season staying true to himself and doing everything within his power to charm voters and please crowds. The results have been defter than even his ever-reliable fancy feet. He joked through his Golden Globes acceptance speech, admitting that after a career filled with indie films—and, you know, Charlie’s Angels—it was nice to be in something that people actually saw and thanking writer-director Martin McDonagh for “not being a dick.” He reasserted his renegade-outsider cred by dutifully clocking in at Studio 8H and then lacing one of his Saturday Night Live skits with an impromptu, live-TV four-letter word. He kept his tongue firmly planted in cheek even as he allowed a cardboard cutout of Agnès Varda to upstage him and everyone else at the Oscar nominees luncheon.

Hope and Chaos: The Sixth Annual Los Cabos International Film Festival

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Hope and Chaos: The Sixth Annual Los Cabos International Film Festival

Forager Films

Hope and Chaos: The Sixth Annual Los Cabos International Film Festival

Watching Australian director Jennifer Peedom’s Mountain one morning at the sixth annual Los Cabos International Film Festival, I was struck by the fullness of the auditorium and by the prominence of children in the audience. Peedom’s film is an essayistic documentary about humankind’s relationship with mountains all over the world, with tender, ruefully poetic narration (spoken by Willem Dafoe) that emphasizes how our appreciation of nature can morph into an urge to conquer it, rendering the wild another of the controlled habitats from which we seek refuge. Mountain isn’t what Americans would designate a “children’s film,” as we have a habit of parking young ones in front of whatever A.D.D.-afflicted cartoon happens to be topping the box office at any given moment. It was gratifying to see such a varied audience turn out for Mountain, imparting hope as to the communal possibilities of cinema in the 21st century. Of course, many of the children were whispering and running around the theater, seemingly bored with the film in front of them, but at least they evinced some effort and curiosity.

Loitering with Intent Interview with Michael Godere, Ivan Martin, Adam Rapp, Sam Rockwell, & Marisa Tomei

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Loitering with Intent Interview with Michael Godere, Ivan Martin, Adam Rapp, Sam Rockwell, & Marisa Tomei
Loitering with Intent Interview with Michael Godere, Ivan Martin, Adam Rapp, Sam Rockwell, & Marisa Tomei

Two out-of-work actors searching for a new project, Michael Godere and Ivan Martin, took matters into their own hands when they wrote the feature-length screenplay for Loitering with Intent, with parts for themselves and their two famous friends, Marisa Tomei and Sam Rockwell. The story, about two out-of-work actors, Dominic and Raphael, attempting to write a screenplay on a 10-day deadline, suggests art imitating life, but the rest is playful fiction. The film is an intimate exploration of the dynamics of both the creative process and relationships in general, shining a rare light into what our own Chuck Bowen described as a “fleeting paradise of camaraderie and heartbreak, which at least offers proof of capacity for feeling.” I had the chance to chat with actor-writers Godere and Martin, their stellar co-stars, Tomei and Rockwell, and director Adam Rapp about their years-long friendships, tricks of the trade to keep the energy high, Raymond Chandler Easter eggs, and more.

Toronto International Film Festival 2014 Lynn Shelton’s Laggies

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Toronto International Film Festival 2014: Lynn Shelton’s Laggies
Toronto International Film Festival 2014: Lynn Shelton’s Laggies

Lynn Shelton’s Laggies feels as rehashed as Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler, albeit to entirely pleasant results. Keira Knightley stars as Megan, who’s still dating her high school sweetheart, Anthony (Mark Webber), 10 years after graduation and watching as her friends slowly get married, have kids, and grow fed up with her vulgar humor and juvenile behavior. When Anthony tries to propose at their friend’s wedding, Megan freaks, pretends to go to a weeklong self-development seminar and instead moves in with Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz), a teenager who she befriended a few nights earlier after buying her alcohol. The premise is preposterous and your enjoyment of Laggies will directly correlate to how much you can let that slide, and also to how much you can tolerate yet another film about arrested development.

Berlinale 2013 The Grandmaster, Gold, & A Single Shot

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Berlinale 2013: The Grandmaster, Gold, Vic + Flo Saw a Bear, & A Single Shot
Berlinale 2013: The Grandmaster, Gold, Vic + Flo Saw a Bear, & A Single Shot

Since coming home from the sumptuous, if lopsided, American road trip of My Blueberry Nights, Wong Kar-wai has been hard at work on his martial-arts epic The Grandmaster. Perhaps the most explicitly in dialogue with film history of all his works thus far, the film will read as a much-needed strike of lightning to wu xia for connoisseurs of the genre and a feature-length TV spot for others. Which is to say that its visual design is (surprise, surprise) magnificently original, but it lacks Wong’s characteristic elliptical approach to storytelling that has won him so many admirers. Pierre Rissient allegedly dismissed Wong as “postcard cinema”—and it hurts to say it, but The Grandmaster might be more impactful as a series of stills than a motion picture.

Set mainly over the course of the 1930s in Foshan, a city in southern China, the film narrates the Ip Man’s (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) rise to prominence as a Wing Chun grandmaster, focusing especially on his brushes with Gong Er (Zhang Ziyi), the daughter of one of the grandmasters from the north. Although they cross paths across many years, Wong forgoes the melancholic romanticization of time we’ve come to expect from him and opts to tell their story in a disappointingly linear fashion, Hollywoodian flashback included. Essentially a biopic wrapped in a kung-fu art film, The Grandmaster’s ambition but feeling of incompletion brings to mind Sam Peckinpah’s analogous probing of national history, mythology, and masculinity.

Poster Lab: Trance

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Poster Lab: <em>Trance</em>
Poster Lab: <em>Trance</em>

A seemingly unapologetic genre vehicle, Trance looks like Danny Boyle’s first film since Sunshine that won’t become awards bait. Instead, the sci-fi thriller shows goals of stylistic crowd-pleasing, to which Boyle is surely no stranger. An art-world tale sprinkled with hypnotherapy themes, Trance gets artfully literal with its initial UK one-sheet, which comes in three character variations.

The leading image, featuring lead star James McAvoy, warns that his art-auctioneer not “be a hero,” which of course promises plenty of derring-do. The other two, which lay the same design over the faces of Rosario Dawson and Vincent Cassell, offer taglines pertaining to personal security (i.e. “Do You Feel Safe?”). The evidence, including the film’s trailer, suggests a flick that blends The Thomas Crown Affair with Inception, following a man involved with art theft as folks try to retrieve memories from his brain.

Poster Lab: Seven Psychopaths

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Poster Lab: <em>Seven Psychopaths</em>
Poster Lab: <em>Seven Psychopaths</em>

No, it’s not just you—the poster for Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths looks awfully familiar, despite the blinding neon green it uses to lasso your attention. Not long ago, you saw a markedly similar lineup of badass characters, glaring out at you from the one-sheet for Guy Ritchie’s Snatch. Like that memorable image, which put Brad Pitt front and center in a stylish hat, the new ad features one guy in the contrasting gleam of a leather jacket, and another in a heavy coat that highlights his exasperated, straight-man’s shrugged shoulders. But it’s more than just single file and fashion that unites these two posters. Seven Psychopaths follows Snatch’s lead so fully that it even opts to spike its plot—and, subsequently, advertising—with a little dog too. Instead of Pitt’s leashed, squeak-toy-swallowing pooch, there’s a wee, fluffy Shih Tzu, whose ironic cuteness speaks to McDonagh’s light-black tone, and who reportedly serves as the movie’s MacGuffin. However fun it may be to eye up a row of attractive rogues, it’s a tad disheartening that this Irish maestro’s latest had to plainly mirror a cult British production, as if there’s only one way to sell Euro crime comedies.

SXSW 2011: Source Code

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SXSW 2011: <em>Source Code</em>
SXSW 2011: <em>Source Code</em>

Based on Duncan Jones’s first two feature films, Moon and now Source Code, the latter of which had its world premiere Friday night here at SXSW, one could say that Jones has a knack not for putting across breathtakingly original ideas in a breathtakingly original way, but for putting across familiar ideas with enough skill, intelligence, and heart to make the end result seem fresh enough. Moon at first played like basically a cross between 2001: A Space Odyssey and Solaris, right down to its white-dominated production design, until it gradually began to stake out its own distinctive thematic and emotional territory. Source Code similarly begins in a manner that suggests it’s going to be merely a rehash of films ranging from Groundhog Day to The Manchurian Candidate, but the film eventually develops an identity of its own, thanks in part to Ben Ripley’s structurally brilliant script and the committed performances of its cast.

A Movie a Day, Day Two: Iron Man 2

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A Movie a Day, Day Two: <em>Iron Man 2</em>
A Movie a Day, Day Two: <em>Iron Man 2</em>

I know, I know; I’m late on this one. I liked Iron Man enough to be a little nervous about the sequel, especially after seeing the film’s star, Robert Downey Jr., marooned in Sherlock Holmes, which reached for that same mix of cool special effects, kinetic camerawork, clever dialogue, and mildly kinky characters and missed by a mile.

I didn’t even plan to see the sequel yesterday. I’d set out to see Everyone Else, but my train got stuck in the station, delayed by an investigation down the line. So I walked upstairs and down the block to another theater, where Iron Man 2 was starting in 15 minutes.

As he did in the original, director Jon Favreau tells a story as streamlined as Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit. The premise is set up and the hero (Stark) and nemesis (Ivan Vanko) are introduced before the credits finish rolling. The pace never slackens or bogs down in tangents or tedious exposition, though a couple of the fight scenes feel superfluous or overly familiar.