Warning: Severe fawning/borderline obsession ahead
Okay, I admit it, I’m a little obsessed with Kate Winslet. Not in a restraining order kind of way, just in the sense that I’d crawl across broken glass to see her in any film, mini-series, or dog food commercial. (Maybe that restraining order shouldn’t be ruled out just yet.) I’ve admired the actress since the first time I saw her on screen—as the teenaged Juliet Hulme in Peter Jackson’s brilliant “Heavenly Creatures,” and I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’ve watched her as Marianne Dashwood in “Sense and Sensibility” at least a dozen times.
My least favorite of her films, “Titanic,” is the one that catapulted her to true stardom but I was thrilled to see that instead of embarking on the usual A-list sure-thing trajectory, the actress continued to make very quirky films, often about difficult topics. “Hideous Kinky,” “Quills,” “Enigma,” “Iris,” “The Life of David Gale,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Little Children,” “Revolutionary Road,” and her Oscar-winning performance in “The Reader” have cemented Winslet’s status as the talented upstart who is not letting others control her career. My wife and I recently subscribed to HBO solely for the duration of Winslet’s Emmy-nominated turn as “Mildred Pierce.” I loved it.
Whether audiences do is another story
Bennett Miller's film likely to join roster of all-time great sports flicks
The first trailer for Bennett Miller’s “Moneyball” was already excellent, striking the right chords between intellectual engagement and emotional involvement, and this new trailer only expands on that. The film has an excellent pedigree, with Miller directing from a script that’s been worked on by Stan Chervin, Steven Zaillian, and Aaron Sorkin. The cast includes Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Chris Pratt, and Kathryn Morris.
In short, “Moneyball” looks like a home run.
The film is based on Michael Lewis’ book of the same title, and it chronicles the unbelievable true story of baseball manager Billy Beane (played by Pitt), who turned the art of crafting a team on its head when he joined up with Ivy League egghead Peter Brand (Hill) to reassemble the Oakland A’s in a way that defied what other managers and teams had been doing for years. Tasked with putting together a working baseball team on a serious budget, Beane and Brand rebuffed old-school thinking and used sabermetrics (essentially, the hard scientific data gathered about baseball) to turn “an island of misfit toys” into a winning baseball team.
For those involved with baseball, an American pastime so rooted in tradition and superstition, what Beane and Brand (based on real-life A’s assistant general manager Paul DePodesta) did was unwelcome, and the film will show the repercussions of what others perceived as bastardizing the game and destroying the way it’s always been done.
Check out the expanded second trailer for "Moneyball," thanks to JoBlo, after the break.
Aliens attack Earth, want our electricity, but can't be seen - what a pickle!
The trailer for “The Darkest Hour” starts out in classic alien invasion form – we meet most of our main characters, all of them living it up before everything goes terribly wrong. In this case, we meet four young and hip Americans who are in Moscow with the express intent to party down. But as they toast the good life in a Russian nightclub, the lights go down. When they come back up, all the typical aliens-take-over tropes are present – things falling from the sky, panicked news reports, terrified citizens, ravaged cities, but “The Darkest Hour” boasts something a little different. The aliens in “The Darkest Hour” are invisible, and they feed off electricity.
So how do you defeat a vicious race of aliens you can’t see who are determined to take over your planet by way of a meticulous plan? Well, if we knew that, what would “The Darkest Hour” have to tell us?
Directed by Chris Gorak, the film stars Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella, and Rachael Taylor as said young and hip Americans who are marooned in a ruined Moscow after the attack.
The trailer gives away a lot of the look and feel of the electrical currents and fire that signal that the aliens are near, and how the characters within the film use that to their advantage – maybe too much. Invisible aliens are a clever twist on a tired genre, but this trailer reveals way too many of the tricks and scares that will likely form most of the aliens’ “screentime” in the final film. Check it out, thanks to Apple, after the break.
The star takes a break from filming to attend a progressive rally
In “Good Will Hunting,” Oscar-winning screenwriter and actor Matt Damon showed how important a teacher’s role can be in the life of a troubled kid. But his strong feelings about education were not just a ruse to get the attention of Hollywood. Damon’s mother is an early childhood education teacher and the two appeared together on Saturday at the Save Our Schools March in Washington. In response to the growing attacks on teachers by the right and the obsession with high-stakes standardized testing put in place by the odious No Child Left Behind Act, this organization strives to help teachers and parents reclaim control of our schools.
The former “Sexiest Man Alive” and star of Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming thriller “Contagion” gave an impassioned, articulate speech about teachers and the state of education. I’m guessing that many of these educators arrived at the rally already in love with Matt Damon—by the time they left, they probably would have taken a bullet for the actor! Even better than his speech was the response I saw to an idiotic reporter who was trotting out the absurd arguments that would have us believe that teachers are somehow overpaid, overprivileged public sector employees. Damon didn’t let the reporter get away with her ignorant statements and immediately rebutted each point with polite fierceness. President Obama could take a few pointers.
Inversion of the Body-Switchers in L.A.
A low-cost way to tell a fantastic story, body-switching goes back way before "Freaky Friday" in the '70s; with "The Change-Up," director David Dobkin ("Wedding Crashers") brings the sub-genre into the age of the R-rated "bro-mance" with the help of "Hangover" writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. Stars Jason Bateman (playing a harried husband to Leslie Mann, father and lawyer) and Ryan Reynolds (playing a slack, single screw-up) met the press in Los Angeles.
Would you really want to switch bodies, just for a day, to see what it would be like?
Reynolds: I'd do terrible things to his body.
Bateman: And to my wife. He's been after my wife for years.
Reynolds: Years. Amanda (Anka, Bateman's wife of 10 years)? She would be mine.
Tell us a little bit about your preparation: Did you actually study each other?
Reynolds: A little bit. I first met Jason 15 years ago, so we've known each other a long time. I think I speak for both of us unilaterally when I say neither of us are good enough at our jobs to do an impression of each other.
Bateman: How dare you.
Reynolds: No, we didn't really work on that specifically. We really went with the essence of the other guy. We have a pretty high level of conceit right up at the get-go on a movie like this, so we didn't want audiences picking apart our performances as a spot-on imitation of each other. It didn't seem really necessary.
Bateman: You're not going to R-rated comedies to get a study in acting. You want to go in there, have a good time, laugh your ass off, maybe get offended a couple of times and get the hell out. We're not trying to win Oscars here, or teach anybody any lessons. Having said all that, this movie is about as high-quality -- if I do say so myself -- as you can get with an R-rated comedy, a comedy absolutely pushes all boundaries and barriers and happens to sneak in quite a bit of heart and relatability -- if that's possible in a concept where people switch bodies. It's the reason that Ryan and I jumped at the chance to be in the film: The quality of the script, what Lucas and Moore did with what is obviously a concept that people are more than familiar with, that there's no reason to do another body-switching movie unless you're going to do something different -- and we do here. It's an R-rated body-switching movie, and it hasn't been done before. You put the director of 'Wedding Crashers' on that, and I'm already in. We were lucky to be a part of it, and we couldn't be prouder of it.
Reynolds: He said all that on one exhalation. Do you have gills or something? It's incredible.
Maybe more than your average lurking-fin thriller?
Talented young actor adds weight to troubled production
Despite having a somewhat solid pedigree behind it, Barry Levinson’s “Gotti: In the Shadow of My Father” has been plagued with bad press that has verged on just plain weird press. The film currently has John Travolta, Al Pacino, and Kelly Preston signed on for roles (including Travolta as the elder Gotti), but it’s the announcement from Variety that Ben Foster will play John Gotti, Jr. that is the most positive bit of buzz for the film yet. The film will chronicle the relationship between father and son, one fraught with tensions due to their very different outlooks on life, particularly a life of crime.
Foster has built himself an impressive resume of well-chosen roles over the span of his career, though he has yet to crack into the big leagues. His upcoming slate, however, should change that, as he has no less than five films currently in production, including Oren Moverman’s “Rampart” and a rumored role in Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus.” But his past work in films such as “The Messenger” and “3:10 to Yuma” prove how talented he is and that his joining the cast of “Gotti” is a huge boon for the project.
“Gotti: In the Shadow of My Father” has been dogged by wacky news reports since director Nick Cassavetes dropped out of the film in April. Most recently, Joe Pesci sued Fiore Films, the project’s production company, for $3 million. Why? Pesci claims that Fiore Films used his name to gather interest in the film without officially signing him on for it. Believing he was set for the role of Gotti enforcer, Angelo Ruggerio, Pesci gained thirty pounds. Pesci says that Fiore Films went back on their offer, though the production company now says it was Pesci who pulled out.
In other casting debacles, Lindsay Lohan was once rumored to play Victoria Gotti, with her role then changed to that of Kim Gotti, wife of Gotti, Jr. Lohan is reportedly not officially signed for the film yet, despite months of speculation around her name, and it remains to be seen if the actress will be available or insurable for the production, which is set to start shooting on January 3.
The film is also saddled with that hefty title, which was previously the equally-as-wordy “Gotti: Three Generations,” before taking on this “Shadow” bit, which still feels too long and a touch movie-of-the-week-ish. The story of the Gotti family is inherently cinematic, rife with drama and true crime tales, so here's hoping the film gets away from bad buzz and keeps rolling with more solid choices.