Fast & Furious 6 star Gina Carano has joined the cast of the Kickboxer remake. Jean-Claude Van Damme will appear in the revamp of his 1989 action movie, alongside Guardians of the Galaxy star Dave Bautista, former stuntman Alain Moussi and ultimate fighter Georges St. Pierre.
Carano, who is a former stuntwoman, will play a fight promoter.
The actress worked with the film's director, John Stockwell, on her 2013 breakthrough movie In the Blood.
Stuntman and martial arts star Alain Moussi has landed the lead role in the remake of Jean-Claude Van Damme's 1989 film Kickboxer. Moussi, who has worked on several movies, including White House Down and X-Men: Days of Future Past, will star alongside Ultimate Fighting champion Georges St. Pierre and World Wrestling Entertainment star David Bautista in his first leading role.
The film, which will be directed by Stephen Fung, will centre on a karate champion who travels to Hong Kong to train with his former mentor in a bid to avenge his brother's death.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is filled — and I mean jam-packed — with genre-bending, action-heavy, sportily tense and relentlessly sinuous, sky-high-concept and maniacally bonkers stuff. Polygonal mayhem that aims, and impressively so, to top the Marvel lot in ideas, deconstructing every thriller staple from government corruption to talking computers to odd couple agents gone rogue. But oddly enough, the moment in the Cap sequel that I find most arresting several weeks after seeing the film is our peaceful reunion with Steve Rogers, trotting merrily around the Washington Monument as the sun rises on our nation's capital.
The scene is shot from far overhead, a low pulse/high spirits Chris Evans reduced to a shapeless blur as he repeatedly (but politely!) laps fellow jogger and veteran Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie)... and yet it might be the closest we feel to Cap throughout the movie.
The Winter Soldier has a lot to worry about in the delivery of its content. Managing a plot as ambitious and multifaceted as its own, with themes as grand as the scope of the American mentality — as represented by Steve Rogers, raised in the good old days of gee-golly-jingoism — it doesn't always have the faculties to devote to humanizing its central troupe. Cap isn't left hollow, but his battles with the dark cloud of contemporary skepticism play more like an intriguing Socratic discussion than an emotional arc. Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, a character who ran circles around her Avengers co-players in flavor, feels a bit shortchanged in that department here (in her closest thing to a starring role yet, no less).
Mackie's Falcon, a regular joe who is roped into the calamity thanks largely to his willingness to chat with a fellow runner — a rare skill, honestly — is less of a problem. He doesn't have much to do, but he does it all well enough. Dynamic though he may be, Mackie keeps things bridled as Cap's ad-hoc sidekick, playing up the along-for-the-ride shtick rather than going full (or even half) superhero. We might want more from him, knowing just how fun he can be, but it's a sating dose. The real hunger is for more in the way of Black Widow, Cap, and — perhaps most of all — the titular villain.
Still, these palpable holes pierce through a film that gets plenty right. As elegantly as Joe Johnston did the Spielberg thing back in 2011, Joe and Anthony Russo take on the ballots of post-innocence. They aren't afraid to get wild and weird, taking The Winter Soldier through valleys that feel unprecedented in superhero cinema. We're grateful for the invention here — for Robert Redford's buttoned-up Tom Clancy villain, for the directors' aggressive tunneling through a wide underworld of subterranean corruption, and especially for one scene in an army bunker that amounts to the most charmingly bats**t crazy reveal in any Marvel movie yet. We might be most grateful, though, for a new take on Nick Fury; here, the franchise gives Samuel L. Jackson his best material by a mile.
But in the absence of definitive work done in our heroing couple, a pair rich in fibers but relegated to broad strokes and easy quips in this turn, most of it amounts to a fairly good spy thriller, not an ace-in-the-whole neo-superhero masterpiece... which, justly or otherwise, is what we've come to expect and demand from these things.
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French moviemaker Georges Lautner has died, aged 87. The director passed away on 22 November (13) in Paris, France but no more details about his death were available as WENN went to press.
Lautner rose to fame in the 1960s with the release of his popular 1963 crime comedy Les Tontons Flingeurs (Monsieur Gangster).
His most famous films included 1981's The Professional with Jean-Pierre Belmondo, 1968's Le Pacha and 1964's Les Barbouzes (The Great Spy Chase). He often worked with actress Mireille Darc, directing her in more than 10 pictures.
France's President Francois Hollande paid tribute to Lautner after hearing of his death, calling his movies "great popular comedies that became cult films of our cinematic heritage."
There are two scenarios that make collecting Criterion Blu-rays so incredibly rewarding. The first is when Criterion tenders amazing releases to movies you’ve never seen before. Much like the situation I found myself in with Brian DePalma’s Blow Out, there is nothing quite like discovering a film for the first time on Criterion Blu; few things are more cinematically idyllic. That being said, the scenario I prefer, and what has sent me sprinting back to acquire entries into the Criterion Collection again and again, is when it releases a film with which I am totally and relentlessly in love. Such a moment occurred last week when Clouzot’s Diabolique was released on Blu-ray.
As much as I dislike French New Wave, in terms of genre films, France has produced some of my absolute favorites. My first experience with this -- or any French film for that matter -- occurred in my freshman year of high school. The teacher of my French class, clearly desiring to take a de facto two-day vacation, decided that we would all sit down and watch an old black-and-white horror film from director Henri-Georges Clouzot. I was instantly awestruck by what unfolded before me, what ultimately became a frequently revisited film around my domicile. This may sound like a self-indulgent anecdote, but it turns out there was a very specific reason for my instant connection with this film that was only brought to my attention after delving into the special features on this Criterion Blu.
More on this revelation in a moment, but first, to the film itself.
Diabolique is the story of a private boy’s school run by a woman and her husband. When I say husband, what I really mean is the rancid excuse for a human being to whom our heroine happens to be wed. This man delights in physically, sexually and psychologically torturing his fragile, weak-hearted wife. Eventually, his regimen of abuse becomes too much for her to bear. She and another teacher at the school, with whom the husband has had an affair, conspire to exorcise themselves of him once and for all. Having accomplished the deed, they believe they are home free. But a series of supernatural events leads the two to suspect that somehow the husband is still tormenting them from beyond the grave.
Few modern horror films are able to match the power and unsettling effectiveness of Diabolique. The film is shot as if it were a gothic horror movie, and yet its setting is one of timeless foreboding. There have been countless films that have explored the frightfulness of private schools, and Diabolique stands shoulder to shoulder with some of the best -- The Devil’s Backbone and The Orphanage leaping immediately to mind. Diabolique similarly investigates the discord between these schools as havens, places of safety, as well as arenas for supernatural dangers. Diabolique’s cinematography (featuring masterful use of shadow and light) and its subtlety (always suggesting but rarely revealing) provide a more gothic tone and allow for a truly unique and terrifying experience.
Though not as loaded to the gills with special features as some of the other Criterion Blu-ray releases, Diabolique harbors one particular interview that was not only fascinating, but shed new light on my initial appreciation of the film as well as strengthened my currently thriving adoration. The interview is with a British film critic and novelist named Kim Newman. I was actually very happy to see him turn up here, as he was my favorite part of an extensive documentary about England’s Video Nasties and the corresponding censorship issue. Kim’s knowledge of truly schlocky exploitation fare was rivaled only by his wit and ability to perfectly and eloquently summarize any given film. On this special feature, Kim proves that his knowledge is not limited to cheesy horror, and he waxes poetic about the merits of Diabolique as well as a connection to Alfred Hitchcock, of which I was previously unaware.
I know I tend to make a habit of bringing up Hitch whenever possible, because this is a man who fundamentally altered the course of my film geekdom and ultimately my life. But what I didn’t know is that Hitch, for a brief time, considered Clouzot to be his rival. Hitchcock was never coy about his mantra as the Master of Suspense, and when Clouzot’s 1955 film Wages of Fear, about two men transporting nitroglycerin cross country, was touted as the most suspenseful movie of all time, he was a bit put off. But what really got Hitch’s goat was when Clouzot beat him out for the rights to adapt a story by Thomas Narcejac and Pierre Boileau, a story that ultimately became Diabolique and was a monster success for Clouzot. In response, Hitch snatched up another novel by those same writers that then became his Vertigo. There is also a rumor that Hitch latched on to the idea of adapting Psycho when he heard about the shower scene, which he hoped would dwarf the seminal bathtub scene at the end of Diabolique.
Even though Diabolique is a film with which I was already quite familiar, Criterion has engendered a completely new appreciation for it within me. Learning of the connections between Hitch and Clouzot, how each inspired the other to push further and further, was like a thunderclap in my brain. It would easily explain why that dorky high school kid, who was just discovering the greatness of Hitchcock, took such a shine to this weird little French horror flick. Thanks, Criterion!
Imagine only being able to communicate through blinking. Now imagine trying to dictate your memoirs in this grueling and time-consuming fashion. That’s how Jean-Dominique Bauby had to put his life and thoughts down on paper. The editor of French Elle suffered a stroke so severe that it rendered him almost entirely paralyzed for the remainder of his short life. He died less than 18 months later just days after the publication of his 1997 memoirs. Making amends for his laughable adaptation of Love in the Time of Cholera Ronald Hardwood pays homage to Bauby’s remarkable achievement with an eloquent screenplay that examines the power of the mind over the body. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly begins on the day when Bauby (Mathieu Amalric) wakes up from a coma and is alarmed to find himself in a hospital completely paralyzed and unable to speak. But his mind is sharp as it ever was. Flashbacks reveal Bauby to be a man who lived life to the fullest and relished every challenge that came his way. So being stuck in a body that no longer functions as it once did is clearly pure hell for Bauby--until his therapist Henriette (Marie-Josee Croze) teaches Bauby to communicate by blinking his left eye. Bauby suddenly decides to honor a book contract he had signed before his stroke--and in the process he discovers his raison d’être. Like My Left Foot’s Daniel Day-Lewis before him Amalric indelibly proves that the mind can and will thrive even when the body is broken and beyond repair. Amalric though has less to work with than the wild-eyed Day-Lewis who had the luxury of drawing you into his performance by tapping into Irish author Christy Brown’s abrasive personality and larger-than-life presence. It’s mesmerizing to watch the intrepid Amalric at work even though he’s practically motionless for the entire film bar for a few flashbacks. While the rest of his face remains frozen solid Amalric eloquently expresses Bauby’s innermost hopes and fears through the mere blink of his left eye. There’s never a time when you don’t know how Bauby feels. And his narration is laced with gallows humor which helps keep Diving Bell free from drowning in sentimentality. As Bauby’s therapist Croze personifies patience dedication and resourcefulness we all expect and demand from health-care professionals but don’t always receive. Emmanuelle Seigner maintains a brave face as Bauby’s neglected wife Céline. You wait for Céline to crumble especially as Bauby never stops asking about his mistress but Seigner reveals Céline to be caring and forgiving. The most heartbreaking moments come between Amalric and Max von Sydow who plays Bauby’s father who is much trapped inside his apartment as Bauby is inside his body. There’s great sadness and regret to be found in von Sydow’s every word as he comes to the painful realization that he will outlive his rich and successful son which no father wants to do. Yes Diving Bell is the latest in a long line of inspirational fact-based films about physically and/or mentally challenged people mastering their disabilities. But director Julian Schnabel distinguishes himself and the film by shooting the first act solely from Babuy’s perspective. We see everything Bauby sees through his one good eye from the moment he comes out of his coma. What follows is confusing disorienting and taxing. And darkly humorous as evidenced by Bauby’s admiration of his females nurses. Schnabel’s approach though works to dramatic effect because we receive a greater understanding and appreciation of what Bauby’s experiencing. Stay the course and you will be rewarded for your patience. Once Bauby comes to terms with his fate and refuses to spend the rest of his days wallowing in self pity Schnabel finally turns his camera on Bauby to reveal his post-stroke physical appearance. It’s a quiet but ingenious way for us to accept Bauby as he accepts himself. Schnabel then concentrates on Bauby’s Herculean effort to dictate his autobiography which is occasionally interrupted by poignant flights of fantasy (it’s not hard to guess what the diving bell and the butterfly symbolize). Equal amounts of joy and regret are be found in Bauby’s reminiscing but Schnabel never tries to romanticize his subject or ignore to his past transgressions. Diving Bell doesn’t set to turn a flawed man into a hero but Bauby’s will and determination ultimately reinforces the notion that anything’s possible if you set your mind to it.