Every agency — be it an advertising firm, a mystical demon-hunting society, or a top secret government organization bent on thwarting international terrorism — needs a snarky office fixture. A master of the deadpan, though moreover useless in the field. Preferably British. Thick glasses optional. Don't bother trying to fill this position though (we're sorry, recent graduates desperate for any means of employ). Jared Harris has got it covered. Deadline reportst that the increasingly present actor is now joining The Man from U.N.C.L.E., the Guy Ritchie picture set with Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer in the central spots. While the mad Men star's role in this film is as of yet undisclosed, we can surmise that it will entail some finely pressed suits, orders barked with conviction, and a stark deficit of smiling.
This will be Harris' second go with Ritchie, who led the British actor to villainy in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Harris' most recent turn was in the YA feature The Mortal Instruments, in which he played his intellectual shut-in shtick up to 11. With a script from Scott Z. Burns, the mind behind Steven Soderbergh's exceptional The Informant!, Harris should have a good deal of fun pouncing on some dark, bridled mania.
Just the way we like our Jared Harris: buttoned up tight, confined to a claustrophobic office, and right on the verge of snapping.
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Now that we've finally all stopped talking about Lance Armstrong, people are beginning to think that we're not talking about Lance Armstrong enough. Sure, there's a movie about the disgraced cyclist in the works — a Paramount feature being produced by J.J. Abrams and totally not starring Bradley Cooper. But that's hardly enough. We need another movie. And another "J" to direct it. That's what Warner Bros. thought, anyway, as it has enlisted Jay Roach to helm a second biopic about the biker.
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Deadline reports that Roach — director of the Austin Powers series, Game Change, and The Campaign — is signing on to helm the tale of Armstrong's fall from glory in the face of a doping scandal. Along with Roach comes screenwriter Scott Z. Burns, a Steven Soderbergh frequent collaborator who must be looking for a new pal since his The Informant!, Contagion, and Side Effects director is hanging up the corduroys after the HBO film Behind the Candelabra.
With Roach in tow, we might be inclined to expect an Armstrong story that is a bit funnier than the alternative. Sight gags, witty repartee, bicyclists slipping on banana peels... but then we have Burns, a thriller machine also responsible for The Bourne Ultimatum and slated with writing the forthcoming Dawn of the Planet of the apes. So a whole mess of tension and a few jokes to break up the anxiety? That sounds like a functional formula.
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At this point, there are too few details surrounding either this picture or Abrams' Armstrong film to tell how they'll be different. Will Roach's be more intimate and personal, while Abrams' more vast and far reaching? Will one tell a softer, simpler story of a man taken down by his own pride, while the other indulges in the dramatic examination of the very idea of drug abuse? Will one have Mini-Mes and the other displaced polar bears? If so, which will have which?
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I admittedly might have approached Side Effects with an unfair attitude. I went in ready to judge Steven Soderbergh's psychological thriller not as a standalone feature but as his farewell feature specifically — Soderbergh has affirmed that Side Effects will in fact be his final big screen foray making it difficult for any longtime admirer of the filmmaker to hope for and expect a vivacious last hurrah. Without these connotations Side Effects might not have warranted the same degree of disappointment.
This realization aside it's still an exhaustive effort to discover what exactly Side Effects has to say. With ripe material at its disposal — the elements of depression and anxiety and the industries of psychiatry and drug prescription should present any number of interesting haunting avenues — the movie sets itself up to express something new and important.
And for the first 20 minutes or so it carries on this charade. The story opens on a 28-year-old Emily (Rooney Mara) overwhelmed by her husband's (Channing Tatum) imminent release from prison following a stint for insider trading. The first chapter of the film unites a confused and grief-stricken Mara with psychiatrist Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) whose judgment in prescribing her an experimental new anti-anxiety medication Ablixa is tainted by the pharmaceutical company's monetary offers.
But while this engrossing opening act of Side Effects prepares us for one thing its remaining hour-and-change delivers another. An abrupt shift in the film's identity occurs at the point where a medicated Emily does the unthinkable and the movie never returns to form thereafter. Where a stronger film might be able to brand this off as a thrilling twist a successful exhibition of cinematic sleight-of-hand Side Effects' 180 just serves to furrow brows. Throughout the bulk of the movie Side Effects' adopts the persona of a half-cocked whodunit bouncing around the question of fault regarding a drugged up Emily's malfeasance. But the execution is sloppy with foreshadowing clues placed awkwardly throughout. The audience's interest in the cast of characters (with Catherine Zeta-Jones popping out of the woodwork as a former shrink of Emily's) dissolves as the once vivid figures turn into mere pawns in this game of industrial Clue regurgitating exposition to carry forth the skeleton of tension that becomes of the film.
Given what they have to work with past the halfway point the actors deserve commendation with Mara an especially invigorating presence. Only in the bait-and-switch extended intro are we allowed to see the powerful performers shine swelling with emotional resonance. This faction of the movie swells with confidence and originality. But then the point of no return: the meat of Side Effects shies away from this grit this substance and leaps headfirst into an empty thriller with ostensibly not much to say. And it's a shame too because that first chapter really seemed to be gearing up for something worthwhile.
In some instances, death may occur. But in director Steven Soderbergh’s newest film Side Effects, death might be the least of their worries.
The trailer for the newest thriller from Contagion’s team of Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns has hit the web and after making us all germophobes post-Contagion, we should now prepare to fear our medications. After a woman (Rooney Mara) takes a new medication, Ablixa, she experiences deadly consequences that affect a whole chain of people around her. The film also stars Jude Law (also from Contagion) and Channing Tatum, who shows significantly less skin than he did in Soderbergh’s Magic Mike.
Side Effects is supposed to be Soderbergh's next-to-last film before he goes "sabbatical" from directing. He has no other films lined up besides next year's Behind the Candelabra starring Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as his lover, on HBO.
Side Effects hits theaters February 8, 2013.
Check out the trailer below:
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Catherine Zeta-Jones has joined cast of Side Effects, director Steven Soderbergh's pharmaceutical-themed thriller, Deadline.com reports. The film concerns a prescription drug-addled woman (Blake Lively) who becomes involved with a doctor (Jude Law) on the eve of her husband's (Channing Tatum) release from prison. Zeta-Jones will play Dr. Erica Seibert, a role for which Deadline provides precisely zero description. Side Effects, which was written by Soderbergh's prolific collaborator Scott Z. Burns (Contagion, The Informant!), is slated to begin shooting in April in New York.
Having the opportunity to sit down with an acclaimed director like Steven Soderbergh (the man behind sex, lies, and videotape, Out of Sight, Ocean's 11, The Girlfriend Experience and last Fall's Contagion) is a dream come true. But pending an hour with the man, discussing his latest movie Haywire, his creative process and lengthy career? Let's just say that by the halfway mark, I was pretty much lost in the mesmerizing honesty and passion of the conversation.
While I'll be posting selections from the full conversation with Soderbergh next week, the director did offer up a few interesting tidbits on his future, including info on his next collaboration with Contagion screenwriter Scott Z. Burns, The Bitter Pill, and his Liberace biopic for HBO Behind the Candelabra and a definitive response to the "will he/won't he?" mystery surrounding his retirement.
A discussion on casting MMA fighter Gina Carano segued to a conversation on working with female characters, a relevant topic to Soderbergh's next project. "There's something more fun about it. Things are harder for them. Men run everything. They have another thing to deal with that we don't have to deal with. From a directorial standpoint that's fun. There are a couple of great female characters in the film we're doing this Spring, The Bitter Pill."
The movie, which Soderbergh revealed shoots in April, follows a woman who finds herself hooked on prescription drugs in the days counting down to her husband's release from prison. Soderbergh explained his stylistic approach: "I'm in the middle of trying to figure that right now on Bitter Pill…I've been watching [William] Friedkin and Adrian Lyne."
Behind the Candelabra, which is set to star Michael Douglas as the famed singer Liberace? "I haven't gotten there yet…Douglas Sirk. [Laughs] "
Of course, conversation eventually drifted towards the director's impending departure from the cinematic world. Even though he had a great experience working on Haywire, don't expect a Gina Carano/Soderbergh reunion in the future ("For me, there's nothing I have coming up that I could really put her in." ). So what is next?
"I need to tear down my process and start over again—if I'm going to come back. I'm not going to come back unless I found a new way to do this. By my definition. I don't know if that's going to happen or not. A year from now, I'll be done.
"I was planning this before [the release of Che]. When Section 8 [Soderbergh's production company] closed, I wanted to be out. It was a series of things all leading to me feeling like I need to change. I need a radical change."
But Soderbergh isn't planning an extended vacation: "I have ideas for other things that aren't movies. Whether they're painting, photography or books. I'd like to do one more book, so I've been working on that. Another film book.
"It is rare that filmmakers that make their best films late. It's not unheard of—[Luis] Buñuel, John Huston—but it's certainly something I don't want to happen to me. The primary reason is feeling frustrated at my knowledge being at a standstill. I feel like there's another kind of movie out there and I need to figure out what it is."
But the Liberace movie isn't really the last hurrah…right?
"I'd bet. You should put money on it. Don't bet against me."
Look for our full interview with the Haywire abutter next week and head to CinemaBlend for new info on Soderbergh's next movie, the Channing Tatum male stripper flick Magic Mike!
Fast Five director Justin Lin, actress Julia Ormond and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns have signed on to judge the competition at this year's (12) Sundance Film Festival in Utah. The indie film event begins at the end of the month (Jan12).
There may not have been a more relevant motion picture released in the past year than Contagion. Warner Bros.’ fact-based pandemic thriller comes at a time when our world is bracing for the worst and in an age when we’ve seen one far-fetched apocalyptic action flick after another director Steven Soderbergh’s scientific exploration of nature’s greatest weapon plays to our fears with a touch of terrifying realism.
The story which comes courtesy of The Informant!’s Scott Z. Burns is as expansive as the virus itself jumping from one POV charcter and location to the next with each edit. We follow Matt Damon’s devoted husband/father whose wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) is the film’s “index patient” as he navigates a society on the edge of complete breakdown while Laurence Fishburne and his team of CDC experts – including Kate Winslet and Jennifer Ehle – as well as other parties like Marion Cotillard’s World Heath Organization staffer Bryan Cranston’s military man and Jude Law’s pharmapolitical blogger work to cure contain and cover the epidemic respectively. Every member of the A-list ensemble is genuinely on edge and in-tune with the horrifying scenario. Of particular note is Ehle who flawlessly recites her character’s descript dialogue and explicit knowledge of biology with utmost confidence but it’s the cast as a whole that really raises the fear factor throughout the movie. And even though the filmmakers wrap their narrative up a bit too neatly for my taste Contagion ends on an explanatory note that both completes the chronicle and suggests the ease with which a population-decimating virus could breakout.
To complement that notion Warner Home Video has packed a few informative extras into the film’s Blu-ray release that whether intended or not will probably scare the crap out of you. “The Reality of Contagion” finds the cast producers and technical advisors (who would be the real-life heroes if an outbreak on this scale ever occurred) discussing what the world would be like in the wake of a pandemic and whether or not we’re prepared for an international emergency on this level. “The Contagion Detectives” brings you face to face with the real doctors and scientists who research new diseases and how they helped the actors understand the material while “Contagion: How a Virus Changes the World” presents a lighter look at what happens to the economy and society in the midst of a biological disaster. As told through a virtual infographic it’s basically a summation of the rest of the bonus material and the film itself.
While Contagion stands out as one of the more affecting films of the year it’s home entertainment release doesn’t do it any justice. For one thing there’s no commentary track and on any Soderbergh picture that’s something that I hotly anticipate (especially given his impending “retirement.”) Also missing are deleted scenes and production featurettes – something I consider must-haves. The movie looks great in its 1080p HD transfer and Cliff Martinez’ subtle electronic score sounds fantastic in 5.1 digital surround sound so fans will want to own this package regardless of the slim special features. But even with a DVD and UltraViolet digital copy included I’m left wondering what could have been…
A lot of people would consider Steven Soderbergh irreplaceable. Not Warner Bros.! Deadline.com reports that the studio is close to hiring Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes) to direct The Man From U.N.C.L.E., a film Soderbergh had been slated to helm before departing the production a month ago over reported disagreements on budget and casting. Ritchie inherits a script from longtime Soderbergh collaborator Scott Z. Burns; presumably, it will be re-written to make room for lots of frantic, coherence-shedding action sequences with ever-changing frame rates.
Guy Ritchie's next film, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, opens in theaters next Friday, December 16, 2011. Click on the image below for more photos of Ritchie and his hot girlfriend: