Paramount via Everett Collection
Actor Dylan Baker has been tapped to play former U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation director J. Edgar Hoover in the Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic Selma.
The Spider-Man 2 star will portray the government official who famously wiretapped the civil rights leader's office in a failed bid to prove he was a part of the Communist party, according to Deadline.com.
Baker will join a cast that includes David Oyelowo as King, Cuba Gooding, Jr. as American civil rights lawyer Fred Gray, British actor Tom Wilkinson as former U.S. president Lyndon B. Johnson and Tim Roth, who will portray controversial U.S. governor George Wallace.
Oprah Winfrey, who will play civil rights protester Annie Lee Cooper in the film, and Brad Pitt are among the producers of the project.
TV titan Oprah Winfrey has joined the cast of her Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic Selma. Winfrey is producing the film alongside Brad Pitt and now she is set to portray civil rights protester Annie Lee Cooper, an elderly woman who tried to register to vote and was denied by a sheriff.
The movie will reunite the 60 year old with her Lee Daniels' The Butler co-star David Oyelowo, who will play King, while Cuba Gooding, Jr. will star as American civil rights lawyer Fred Gray, British actor Tom Wilkinson has signed on to play former U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, and Tim Roth will portray controversial U.S. governor George Wallace.
A decade-long gap between sequels could leave a franchise stale but in the case of Men in Black 3 it's the launch pad for an unexpectedly great blockbuster. The kooky antics of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) don't stray far from their 1997 and 2002 adventures but without a bombardment of follow-ups to keep the series in mind the wonderfully weird sensibilities of Men in Black feel fresh Smith's natural charisma once again on full display. Barry Sonnenfeld returns for the threequel another space alien romp with a time travel twist — which turns out to be Pandora's Box for the director's deranged imagination.
As time passed in the real world so did it for the timeline in the world of Men in Black. Picking up ten years after MIB 2 J and K are continuing to protect the Earth from alien threats and enforce the law on those who live incognito. While dealing with their own personal issues — K is at his all-time crabbiest for seemingly no reason — the suited duo encounter an old enemy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) a prickly assassin seeking revenge on K who blew his arm off back in the '60s. Their street fight is more of a warning; Boris' real plan is to head back in time to save his arm and kill off K. He's successful prompting J to take his own leap through the time-space continuum — and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to put an end to Boris plans for world domination.
Men in Black 3 is the Will Smith show. Splitting his time between the brick personalities of Jones and Brolin's K Smith struts his stuff with all the fast-talking comedic style that made him a star in yesteryears. In present day he's still the laid back normal guy in a world of oddities — J raises an eyebrow as new head honcho O (Emma Thompson) delivers a eulogy in a screeching alien tongue but coming up with real world explanations for flying saucer crashes comes a little easier. But back in 1969 he's an even bigger fish out water. Surprisingly director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen dabble in the inherent issues that would spring up if a black gentlemen decked out in a slick suit paraded around New York in the late '60s. A star of Smith's caliber may stray away from that type of racy humor but the hook of Men in Black 3 is the actor's readiness for anything. He turns J's jokey anachronisms into genuine laughs and doesn't mind letting the special effect artists stretch him into an unrecognizable Twizzler for the movie's epic time jump sequence.
Unlike other summer blockbusters Men in Black 3 is light on the action Sonnenfeld utilizing his effects budget and dazzling creature work (by the legendary Rick Baker) to push the comedy forward. J's fight with an oversized extraterrestrial fish won't keep you on the edge of your seat but his slapstick escape and the marine animal's eventual demise are genuinely amusing. Sonnenfeld carries over the twisted sensibilities he displayed in small screen work like Pushing Daisies favoring bizarre banter and elaborating on the kookiness of the alien underworld than battle scenes. MIB3's chase scene is passable but the movie in its prime when Smith is sparring with Brolin and newcomer Michael Stuhlbarg who steals the show as a being capable of seeing the future. His twitchy character keeps Smith and the audience on their toes.
Men in Black 3 digs up nostalgia I wasn't aware I had. Smith's the golden boy of summer and even with modern ingenuity keeping it fresh — Sonnenfeld uses the mandatory 3D to full and fun effect — there's an element to the film that feels plucked from another era. The movie is economical and slight with plenty of lapses in logic that will provoke head scratching on the walk out of the theater but it's also perfectly executed. After ten years of cinematic neutralizing the folks behind Men in Black haven't forgotten what made the first movie work so well. After al these years Smith continues to make the goofy plot wild spectacle and crazed alien antics look good.
MSN today debuted a brand-new trailer for Arthur Christmas, the first fruits of its partnership with Aardman Animations, the folks behind Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run. James McAvoy lends his voice to the title character, the Santa's youngest son:
&amp;amp;amp;lt;a href='http://video.uk.msn.com?vid=59f667cc-87b5-4ff9-902b-d051dfb4dea0&amp;amp;amp;amp;mkt=en-gb&amp;amp;amp;amp;src=FLPl:embed::uuids' target='_new' title='MSN World Exclusive: Arthur Christmas 3D - trailer' &amp;amp;amp;gt;Video: MSN World Exclusive: Arthur Christmas 3D - trailer&amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;gt;
Arthur Christmas also features the voices of Hugh Laurie, Billy Nighy, Jim Broadbent, and various other British people. It opens November 23, 2011.
On a particularly sunny spring morning last year, I was on the way to my SoHo office when I noticed a sizable production crew on Crosby Street. As I approached the set, I saw all the telltale signs of a location shoot: trailers, craft services, cameras and monitors, etc. Though the scene looked pretty standard to me, the set was partially dressed with one piece of discernible evidence revealing what was being filmed – a brown sign hanging above a random boutique emblazoned with the words “Juan’s Magical Emporium” in a recognizable shade of light blue. It was then that I realized The Smurfs were going to take the entire island of Manhattan (not just the customary cinematic sections of the Big Apple – Times Square, Central Park, etc.), but I still wasn’t convinced that the film would do the 50-year-old property justice.
That sentiment changed after I saw first-hand what Columbia Pictures is doing to bring legendary artist Peyo’s lovable creations to life. I was invited to Queens’ renowned Kaufman Astoria Studio’s, where interiors were being shot and the production’s offices were housed. Once inside, I was treated to never-before-seen footage from the film and an in-depth review of the beautifully rendered concept art that helped costume and production designers create the magical world in which the Smurfs live, as well as access to some of the talent and executives involved in the fun-filled, live-action/CGI motion picture. Most Smurftastic, though, was the opportunity to see a vibrant scene being filmed. It was an extensive and eye-popping exploration of The Smurfs and if you keep reading, you’ll see exactly why old fans and new (as well as Sony Pictures) have so much to be excited about.
Let me start from the beginning of my entertaining journey. As I walked through the halls of the production offices, I noticed something incredibly encouraging: Smurf coffee mugs, Smurf pens and pencils, Smurf mouse pads – the staff may well have been wearing Smurf underwear. It had become quite clear to me that everyone involved in the film, from the gracious publicists who got me in there to the accountants tallying petty cash receipts, was immersed in the mythology and nostalgia of Peyo’s world. With a workforce of dedicated fans such as these, I can say with confidence that the finished product that director Raja Gosnell will deliver on July 29th will be an authentic representation of the characters that I had grown up with: carefree, fun and full of innocent laughs.
I continued on through the fantastically decorated offices (covered with character design developments and various pieces of production art) until I came to a clearing where chairs had been set up for all of the intrepid journalists. In front of us stood a chair with the name “Patrick” tagged on it – it didn’t take me long to figure out that Neil Patrick Harris was on the way.
Every bit the entertainer we’ve known and loved since Doogie Hauser M.D., Harris was an absolute delight to talk to: amusing, informative and kind. He let us know that, at this time, he and his on-screen wife Grace (played by Glee’s Jayma Mays) had finished filming their parts and that most of their work was done on the Kaufman soundstages, though they had also shot scenes at landmark NYC locations like Central Park and FAO Schwarz. Additionally, he told us which Smurfs they’d grown most attached to, namely Papa Smurf (who shares many frames with Harris), Smurfette and Clumsy Smurf (who spend much of their time by Grace’s side). It’s a good thing that he got so close to the little blue guys, too, because the best part of the interview was finding out that he’s already signed on for a Smurfs sequel!
As cool as it was to hang with NPH, the most interesting part of the set visit was getting to chat with producer Jordan Kerner, who is a living encyclopedia of Smurf knowledge. A veteran of family films like George of the Jungle and Inspector Gadget, there’s no filmmaker better suited to bring a beloved property of this size to the big screen. Kerner guided us through the art department, where we saw renderings of Patrick and Grace’s Manhattan apartment before and after it gets “Smurf’d”, Gargamel’s gothic castle and the Smurf village. Fans will fall in love with these fantastic environments because of how well they blend Peyo’s vision and Hanna-Barbera’s version of his stories. I particularly enjoyed hearing Kerner talk about how he wanted the Smurfs’ recognizable mushroom houses to accurately resemble real mushrooms – a trippy creative choice that might raise a few eyebrows but will certainly gain the respect of die-hard Smurf followers.
Of course, making a movie like this isn’t all fun and games. Kerner told us all about the pros and cons of filming in the Big Apple as well as the amount of time it took to get the project off the ground. For instance, did you know that he’s been pursuing the rights to the property since 1997?! Further, did you know that perfecting the look of the digital Smurfs in the movie was going to take a whopping 18 months?! It just proves that turning a popular property into a major motion picture is a time-consuming labor of love, but Kerner promises nothing but the best when the boys in blue hit the big screen this month.
And speaking of the boys (and girls) in blue, let’s give a brief shout out to all of the Smurfs who will end up on the big screen! There’s Papa Smurf (voiced by Jonathan Winters), Smurfette (Katy Perry), Gutsy Smurf (Alan Cumming), Grouchy Smurf (George Lopez), Jokey Smurf (Paul Reubens), Greedy Smurf (Kenan Thompson), Baker Smurf (B.J. Novak), Handy Smurf (Jeff Foxworthy), Brainy Smurf (Fred Armisen), Clumsy Smurf (Anton Yelchin), Panicky Smurf (Adam Wylie), Vanity Smurf (John Oliver) and finally, Hefty Smurf (Gary Basaraba). All of them have unique and dynamic personalities that have been fully realized thanks to scores of animators and the actors who play them, so there will be plenty to choose from as your "favorite" (and also plenty of toys to buy). But as cool as it was to learn all about these cute characters the absolute best part of the set visit was getting to chat with their infamous nemesis Gargamel!
At one point the great Wallace Shawn was rumored to be donning the unmistakable brown cloak of the Smurfs’ assailant, but by the time cameras were rolling screen and stage veteran Hank Azaria settled nicely into the role, as evidenced not only by the conversation we had with him (in character, with full make-up and costume on including the longest, most flexible fake nose I’ve ever seen) but by watching him shoot a hilarious scene that will play toward the end of the film! Without giving too much away, I’ll say that it involves plenty of grooving-and-shaking atop Belvedere Castle in Central Park, and is the cherry on top of an all-around Smurftastic sundae!
Whether you’re an avid reader of Peyo’s books, a longtime fan of the unforgettable Hanna-Barbera cartoon or a ravenous collector of all things Smurf, Columbia Pictures’ take on this beloved property is sure to make waves at your local multiplex, so get ready to paint the town blue!
The story of the most dominant racehorse of all time does not easily fit into the standard inspirational sports flick mold. Such films typically require its protagonists to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles be they competitive (Hoosiers) personal (The Natural) societal (Ali) or some combination of all three (Remember the Titans). But by all accounts the greatest challenges to Secretariat capturing of the 1973 Triple Crown were not rival horses — indeed Secretariat had no true rival — but a pair of slow starts and an abscess. And abscesses — apologies to dermatologists — simply aren’t all that effective as dramatic devices.
Lacking most of the vital ingredients of the traditional underdog movie formula Disney’s Secretariat is forced to synthesize them. Its screenplay written by Mike Rich and based rather loosely on the book Secretariat: The Making of a Champion by William Nack adopts a conventional save-the-farm framework: When her parents pass away within months of each other Denver housewife Penny Tweedy (Diane Lane) is advised to sell off her family’s Virginia-based Meadow Stables a beautiful but unprofitable horse-breeding enterprise in order to pay the onerous inheritance taxes levied by the state. But Penny her deceased father’s hackneyed horse-inspired counsel fresh in her mind (“You’ve got to run your own race ” etc. etc.) is loath to depart with such a cherished heirloom. So she concocts a scheme just idiotic enough to work betting the farm — literally — that her new horse Big Red in whom she has an almost Messianic faith will win the Kentucky Derby Preakness and Belmont races in succession.
Of course Big Red under the stage name Secretariat goes on to do just that but only after the film subjects us to nearly two hours of manufactured melodrama. Lane grasping all-too conspicuously for awards consideration treats every line as if it were the St. Crispin’s Day speech. Her character Penny exhibits a hair-trigger sensitivity to the sounds of skeptics and naysayers bursting forth with a polite rebuke and a stern sermon for anyone who dares doubt her crusade from the trash-talking owner of a rival horse to her annoyingly pragmatic husband (Dylan Walsh).
Lane isn’t alone in her grandiosity. The entire production reeks of it as director Randall Wallace lines the story with fetid chunks of overwrought Oscar bait like so many droppings in an untended stable even using Old Testament quotations and gospel music to endow Penny’s quest with biblical significance. John Malkovich is kind enough to inject some mirth into the heavy-handed proceedings hamming it up as Secretariat’s trainer Lucien Laurin a French-Canadian curmudgeon with an odd sartorial palette. It’s not enough however to alleviate the discomfort of witnessing the film's quasi-Sambo depiction of Secretariat’s famed groom Eddie Sweat (Nelsan Ellis) which reaches its cringeworthy zenith when Sweat runs out to the track on the eve of the Belmont Stakes and exclaims to no one in particular that “Big Red done eat his breakfast this mornin’!!!” Bagger Vance would be proud. Whether or not Ellis’ portrayal of Sweat’s cadence and mannerisms is accurate (and for all I know it may well be) the character is too thinly drawn to register as anything more than an amiable simple-minded servant.
Animal lovers will be happy to know that the horses in Secretariat come off looking far better than their human counterparts and not just because they’re alloted the best dialogue. In the training and racing sequences Wallace effectively conveys the strength and majesty of the fearsome animals drawing us into the action and creating a strong element of suspense even though the final result is a fait accompli. It's too bad the rest of the film never makes it out of the gate.
The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.
Robert Downey Jr. is in negotiations to star in Cowboys & Aliens, says The Hollywood Reporter. The film is a mix of science-fiction and Western and could serve as a 2010 tentpole release from DreamWorks and Universal.
Cowboys & Aliens is based on a graphic novel by Fred Van Lente and Andrew Foley from an original idea by Platinum Studios chairman and CEO Scott Mitchell Rosenberg.
The story focuses on an Old West battle between the Apache and Western settlers--including a former Union Army gunslinger named Zeke Jackson--that is interrupted by a spaceship crashing into the Arizona prairie. Downey Jr. would play Jackson.
THR says the story draws a parallel between the American imperialist drive to conquer the “savage” Indians with its advanced technology and the aliens’ assault on Earthlings, who must join together to survive the invaders’ attack.
Downey Jr. is being actively courted following the recent success of Iron Man. Other projects he is rumored to have an interest in include a Sherlock Holmes update directed by Guy Ritchie and Brett Ratner’s Hugh Hefner biopic.
Downey Jr. will next be seen in Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder, followed by the drama The Soloist.
The tenets of the martial arts as they apply to Fred Simmons (co-writer Danny McBride)--a self-absorbed self-deluded strip-mall Tae Kwon Do instructor--are explored in this appealing indie farce. When Fred’s not belittling or berating his students he’s espousing his loony philosophies and demonstrating his own (mediocre) prowess at Tae Kwon Do--utterly convinced that he is the living embodiment of the art. Life throws him a curveball--or gives him a karate chop to the neck if you will--when he discovers that his bimbo wife Suzie (Mary Jane Bostick) has been playing around. His inner strength shaken to the core Fred tries to apply the very teachings he espouses to his own mess of a life succeeding only in making it messier. Nevertheless as befits come-from-behind stories like this fate has a way of smiling on the underdog--no matter how stupid he may be. McBride soon to be seen in Tropic Thunder and Pineapple Express plays it perfectly straight as the pompous boor who’s not nearly as smart sexy or savvy as he thinks he is. Instead he’s smug smarmy and would be utterly unbearable were it not for the clueless charm that McBride plays him with. It’s a splendid comedic performance. Bostick complements McBride perfectly as the bubble-headed salon-tanned stereotypical dumb-blonde wife who just can’t seem to keep her hands to herself--and we’re not talking about the martial (or even the marital) arts. Ben Best who also collaborated on the screenplay with McBride and Jody Hill comes into the game late as Fred’s chop-socky idol the equally smarmy Chuck “The Truck” Wallace whose own adherence to the contemplative and spiritual nature of the martial arts is as bogus as Fred’s. As the most stalwart of Fred’s students Spencer Moreno and Carlos Lopez IV stand out with director Hill himself rounds out an enthusiastic cast of up-and-comers. The true success of the film is its confident execution which belies Hill’s first-timer status. The Foot Fist Way is consistently funny not because of the slapstick gags--although those work too--but in the pitch-perfect realization of characters that in other hands might well have been insufferable. Instead they’re amusing and appealing--even more so the worse they behave. The Hollywood landscape is littered with slob comedies that mistake lowbrow idiocy for inventiveness. The Foot Fist Way never makes that mistake and it moves speedily and entertainingly enough that its slow patches are quickly forgotten and forgiven.