Julia Emmanuele
  • Will 'Big Hero 6' Skew Towards a Younger Audience?
    By: Julia Emmanuele May 22, 2014
      What better follow-up to ice princesses than superheroes? The first teaser trailer for Big Hero 6, Disney’s first animated feature since Frozen stormed its way into our hearts and ears last year, was released on Thursday, and it seems the studio is aiming to give superheroes an adorable makeover. The film follows robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada and his robot Baymax, who team up with a group of crime fighters and fellow child geniuses to protect their fictional city of San Fransoyko. The Big Hero 6 comics books are one of Marvel's more obscure brands, designed as a mini-series in 1998, and because it's not well-known to people who aren't hardcore comic book readers, Disney Animation has a bit more freedom to play around with the source material in their first animated adaptation of Marvel comic.  And the studio used that freedom to revamp the plot and several characters to tell a different, more Disney-esque story. The original comics centered on a group of heroes who were recruited by the Japanese government to become a state-sanctioned band of heroes. Big Hero 6 was headed up by Silver Samurai, a freelance hero and part-time body guard and Sunfire, the country's most famous superhero and mutant, neither of whom are set to appear in Disney's film. Though many of the storylines and artwork are aimed at teenagers – and the characters themselves are mostly teens – there are plenty of adult-friendly elements to the books, including Honey Lemon's skimpy costume, her relationship with Hiro, and Baymax's "special relationship" with Hiro's mother, which came about as the result of Hiro using his father's brain to help program the robot.  The film, however, appears to be explicitly targeting a younger demographic, from again down the characters to playing up the film's connections to Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph over its Marvel origins. The animators also did away with the anime influences of the comics in favor of art reminiscent of Wreck-It Ralph and Bolt, which allows Disney to further put its stamp on the project. Though many of these changes were likely the result of the studio attempting to establish Big Hero 6 as its own property, they also help market the film towards a younger audience, which is Disney's primary target.  In many ways, the studio is smart to rework the source material for a younger audience. Designing the film to skew towards a younger audience opens up the range of people who will potentially come see a film – after all, age has never prevented people from seeing animated films – which results in bigger potential box office returns for the studio. By aging Big Hero 6 down, Disney is able to take a comic that appealed to a wide range of readers, and turn it into a true "all ages" experience. Besides, targeting children not only brings in bigger tickets sales, thanks to the adults who need to accompany them to the theater, but it also allows them to advertise both Iron Man and Baymax merchandise to the same demographic.  Of course, rebranding a property for a younger audience means that changes need to be made to the original comics in order to make things more family friendly, which means that things are likely to get left out. The Big Hero 6 comics weren't explicitly aimed at an adult audience, and the cast of teenagers makes it easier to revamp for a younger generation. The biggest losses the series will suffer in its move to the big screen are the absence of Silver Samurai and Sunfire, who were the original leaders of the gang. Since they were the most famous characters in the series, it's a big move to drop them completely, but since both left the Big Hero 6 team in the comics, leaving Hiro in charge, the writers have pre-existing stories and relationship to drawn on for the movie without them. As the oldest members of Big Hero 6, they don't necessarily fit in with Disney's concept of a team of children fighting crime, and since Sunfire is also part of the X-Men universe, there may have also been some contractual issues at play.  In the end, though, Big Hero 6 probably won't need its two oldest members in order to be successful. By creating an entirely new narrative inspired by the comics, Disney can find different ways to ensure that the best parts of Big Hero 6 stays intact on screen, while still having the freedom to drop the elements they deem superfluous. It’s hard to tell from just the teaser how those changes will affect the film, although the drastic change in tone and target audience does seem to suggest that not much will be lost when Big Hero 6 hits theaters on November 7.  Follow @hollywood_com Follow @julesemm  
  • A Few More Appropriate Titles for 'Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice'
    By: Julia Emmanuele May 21, 2014
    Twitter/batmanvsuperman The most highly anticipated - and controversial - film of next year officially has a title: Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Like most franchise sequels, the subtitle is both incredibly vague and highly specific, revealing nothing about the plot while at the same time setting up DC's long-term plans. Since DC used the title as an opportunity to be upfront with its fans, we decided to help them out by coming up with a few honest titles of our own. Maybe one of these would be a bit more fitting:  Batman V. Superman: The Prequel to The Justice League  Batman V. Superman: The Franchise Bandwagon Batman V. Superman: Because Every Superhero Needs an Elaborate Cinematic Universe Now Batman V. Superman: Yes, There Will Be a Post-Credits Scene  Batman V. Superman: Making Up for Man of Steel Batman V. Superman: Wonder Woman's In It! That Counts for Something, Right? Batman V. Superman: An Homage to Christopher Nolan  Batman V. Superman: We Added a Meaningless Subtitle So You Know It's a Sequel  Batman V. Superman: Now With More Heroes to Distract You From the Continutity Errors  Batman V. Superman: Rich White Man Problems  Batman V. Superman: Cut Us Some Slack, We're Trying Our Best Follow @hollywood_com // Follow @julesemm //
  • Can the Coen Brothers Write a Steven Spielberg Movie?
    By: Julia Emmanuele May 21, 2014
    Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection According to The Hollywood Reporter, Joel and Ethan Coen have signed on to write the screenplay for Steven Spielberg's upcoming KGB drama, which is set to star Tom Hanks. The currently untitled film, which is based on a true story, centers on an attorney who became a key figure in the Cold War after negotiating with KGB agents for the return of a spy plane pilot who went down in enemy territory. A first draft of the script, written by Matt Charman, has been making the rounds for some time now, but the presence of Hanks and the Coen Brothers seems to be the push the film will need to enter production sometime soon. Though having the Coens on board certainly bodes well for the film's production schedule, their presence does complicate things creatively. As a director, Spielberg's films tend to be earnest and straightforward, often with a heavy dose of sentiment involved. The Coens, on the other hand, specialize in irony and cynicism — their writing is practically dripping with it. Both creative forces are obviously talented, and have proven themselves to be adept at handling multiple genres, but there is very little common ground between their filmmaking styles. Can the Coens even make a Spielberg film, and vice versa? If you were to imagine a spy movie written by the Coen Brothers, it would likely involve a great deal of the dark comedy that has come to characterize their films, whereas Spielberg's would probably be an action film filled with emotional character beats and plenty of swelling music. He works on an epic scale, filled with dramatic and heartwarming moments, which is diametrically opposed to the smaller, outsider-focused films that the Coens tend to make. Spielberg's films have gotten dark in the past, but he's never really attempted to translate that darkness in a comedic way, instead choosing to focus on stories of humanity triumphing over terrible obstacles. In contrast, when the Coens' characters are knocked down, they tend to stay there. That dark edge is fundamental to all of the Coens' work, which might be what Spielberg has the most difficulty translating, and navigating that difference will be key to creating a coherent film. On their own, the filmmakers' styles are jarringly different, and so either the script or the direction will need to adjust to compensate for that. If Spielberg's direction is too earnest, then much of the Coens' sense of humor will be lost, and the darker aspects of their work will become overwhelming. However, the Coens have been branching out somewhat lately with the scripts they haven't directed — the remake of Gambit is a much broader comedy than any that they've helmed, and the upcoming Angelina Jolie film Unbroken seems as if it will feature some Spielberg-esque sentiment — so they should be able to adapt their writing to the director's more earnest style. Hanks' presence is also a good sign, as he's worked with both directors multiple times, which should allow him to easily navigate any disparate tones that are present in the film. As an actor, he tends to gravitate to more sentimental films, and his earnestness would be a good balance to keep the film from getting too cynical, while his experience working with the Coens should allow him to add some edge to the film's more heartwarming moments. Above all else, though, they're all talented filmmakers, which goes a long way towards smoothing over any differences. Follow @hollywood_com // Follow @julesemm //
  • I Watched the 'Girl Meets World' Theme Song 100 Times. Here Are My Thoughts.
    By: Julia Emmanuele May 20, 2014
    Disney Channel On Tuesday, the Disney Channel released the opening theme song and accompanying video for its upcoming Boy Meets World spin-off series Girl Meets World. At the behest of her editor, writer Julia Emmanuele watched the video one hundred times in a row, recording her thoughts after each viewing. Experience the phenomenon below.   Viewing # 1: This sounds nothing like the old Boy Meets World theme songs did. I wish it sounded more like that. Viewing # 2: It’s definitely very “Disney Channel,” with the pop song and the CGI graphics. I’ll give them that. Viewing # 3: Is… is that a ukulele? Is there a ukulele in this? Viewing # 4: There’s a lot of weird arm-dancing in this. Viewing # 5: That’s the cleanest subway station I have ever seen. There’s no way that’s really New York. Viewing # 6: They actually carried over the whole paper airplane thing from the original credits. That’s a nice touch. Viewing # 7: Rowan Blanchard looks nothing like Danielle Fishel and Ben Savage, but she does strangely look a lot like Sabrina Carpenter. Viewing # 8: Who dresses these children? These are the weirdest outfit combinations I’ve ever seen. I mean, a red plaid skirt over yellow leggings? Viewing # 9: This boy looks way too old to be the main character’s love interest. Viewing # 10: Topanga had better hair than this dude. If you’re gonna be the Topanga of this show, you’re gonna need to step up your hair game. Viewing # 11: See, look at Topanga’s old hair. Way better. Viewing # 12: Remember when Topanga was a weird hippie with a sister named Nebula? Good times. Viewing # 13: This younger brother seems very melodramatic. That’ll get old quick. Viewing # 14: Is she pouring paint on her own head? Viewing # 15: You know, the more I listen to this song, the more I like it. It’s pretty catchy. Viewing # 16: There are a lot of weird parallel shots between Riley/New Shawn and Cory and Topanga. Viewing # 17: The love interest’s face looks like it’s been airbrushed. It has a weird, glowing quality to it like someone put an Instagram filter over his title card. Viewing # 18: This theme song sounds like a Kidz Bop cover of The Lumineers. Viewing # 19: I feel like it’s only a matter of time before Disney Channel capitalizes on the whole “folk-revival” bandwagon and we get a bunch of tween Mumford and Sons groups. This will be the first single. Viewing # 20: The little brother reminds me of Lindsay, but the first version. The one who went into her room and never came back down. [Editor's note: She means Morgan, but you can't really fault her for mixing up names at this point.] Viewing # 21: I will never get this song out of my head. I will die with this song still stuck in my head. Viewing # 22: The only time Ben and Rowan look alike is when she’s in the blue dress in his classroom. She still looks nothing like Danielle. Viewing # 23: Rowan does a lot of that hand-to-head swooning movement. I hope that’s not like a thing her character does. Viewing # 24: There are a lot of strange facial expressions in this. Viewing # 25: I feel like I’m going to end up downloading the full version of this song. I will tell nobody. Viewing # 26: Is the guy just wearing a cardigan without a shirt underneath? Who does that? Riley, you can do better. Viewing # 27: Who let a horse in the school? Even when it got ridiculous, Boy Meets World still kept the animals outside. [Editor's note: Actually, in Season 3, Episode 6 of Boy Meets World, Shawn brought his pet pig Little Cory to John Adams High School.] Viewing # 28: Never mind, Riley’s wearing suspenders and shorts. She and Cardigan deserve each other. Viewing # 29: Danielle Fishel looks the same as she did when the show went off the air. She’s gorgeous. Viewing # 30: I like her oddly delayed reaction when Riley’s screaming. Quality acting. Viewing # 31: Is the younger brother putting on a play in the living room? With professional lighting? What the hell? Viewing # 32: Every time Ben savage pops through that door, all I hear is him screaming “Topanga!” Viewing # 33: I’m starting to hit a turning point with this song. Viewing # 34: That weird chanting bit at the end is starting to grate on me. Viewing # 35: Does she have Britney inflections now? Have I just not noticed them until now? Viewing # 36: Everything’s starting to look a little bit stupider now. Viewing # 37: Why does New Shawn have a top hat? Original Shawn would never. Viewing # 38: I miss Shawn. This show needs Shawn. Viewing # 39: New Shawn is getting awfully close to Cardigan at the end of this. That’s not going to end well. Viewing # 40: The little brother already annoys me. Although, everything’s starting to annoy me at this point. Viewing # 41: I appreciate them keeping the globe and paper plane motif, but the crappy CGI Chrysler building takes a lot away from the aesthetic. Viewing # 42: They put like, no effort into CGI Times Square. Viewing # 43: You know what? I take back what I said about this song. This song is terrible. Viewing # 44: Not a single person on this show is a decent dancer. Viewing # 45: I like the weird computer theme song better than this. [Editor's note: She's referring to the theme song from the first season of Boy Meets World.] Viewing # 46: The younger brother has an absurd number of layers on. Who dresses these children? [Editor's note: You said that already.] Viewing # 47: Has Cory always been this much of an idiot? Or are they dumbing him down for this show? Viewing # 48: This song makes me want to punch something. Viewing # 49: Did they just re-use the set from iCarly for this? Because I’m pretty sure those are the same apartment doors. Viewing # 50: Why do these two only have their faces covered in paint? Did they just stick their faces in the paint? Is everyone an idiot? Viewing # 51: I feel like the Britney inflections are becoming more and more pronounced. Who says “cray-zay?” Viewing # 52: This whole title sequence is really stupid. Viewing # 53: Those stupid bunny slippers are stupid. Viewing # 54: Cory’s weird hand moments at the dinner table are stupid. Viewing # 55: The fact that Cory has a Bob Dylan lyric written on his blackboard is stupid. Cory never would have listened to Dylan. Viewing # 56: Topanga’s old ‘90s choker is stupid. Viewing # 57: The little brother putting his face in his breakfast is stupid. You’re gonna make a mess, little brother, and then someone’s gonna have to clean up after you. Just be courteous and put your eha don’t he table. [Editor's note: Um... what?] Viewing # 58: Why are you putting your head in the bowl in the first place? You’re like 9. How stressful could your life possibly be? Viewing # 59: I feel like Riley and New Shawn at the end, when they’re on the conveyor belt. Viewing # 60: Are we supposed to believe their hair just naturally ended up like that? That hair is painstakingly styled. Viewing # 61: I no longer remember a time in my life before I heard this song. Viewing # 62: I no longer remember other songs. Viewing # 63: That weird dance Danielle Fishel does is amking me irrationally angry. Viewing # 64: This is making me hate the city of New York as a whole. Viewing # 65: Why does Cardigan have so many sweaters and coats? How cold is it in that school? Viewing # 66: You know, you wouldn’t need a sweater if you actually wore a shirt under your cardigan like a normal person. Viewing # 67: This is making me hate everyone involved in it. Viewing # 68: This is making me retroactively hate Boy Meets World. Viewing # 69: None of those fake New York landmarks are anywhere near each other in real life. Who researched this? Viewing # 70: You know, I’m starting to understand why the little brother is faceplanting into his bowl. Viewing # 71: I like how they tried to wedge a globe into every scene set at school. It’s an apporiate homage to the original. Viewing # 72: Either that or the production designer got paid by the globe. Viewing # 73: Feeney never had this many globes. Cory, what would Feeny do? Viewing # 74: I miss Mr. Feeny. Viewing # 75: I miss Eric. Viewing # 76: I miss everyone but Cory and Topanga. They’re the reason I have to keep watching this. They’re dead to me now. Viewing # 77: The lyrics to this song are dumb. I mean, “Stuck by lightning/my heart’s beating like a drum?” Come on. Viewing # 78: I feel like being struck by lightning would result in your heart stopping, not beating faster. Viewing # 79: Although, in retrospect, they’re probably better than “Wandering down this road that we call life/wondering what we’re doing.” Viewing # 80: Actually, you know what? I think I’m starting to come around to this song again. Viewing # 81: Why is New Shawn playing softball in a subway station? Why did it take me this long to notice? Viewing # 82: Why are they just crouching in the hallway? You’re in a school, there are chairs everywhere. Go find one. Viewing # 83: Do you think New Shawn’s sparkly jacket comes in adult sizes? Viewing # 84: I feel like the whole Cory/Riley hand-on-chin bit is supposed to be endearing, but it’s just coming off as trite. Viewing # 85: Is Cardigan just blatantly using his cell phone in class? Why is nobody yelling at him for that? Viewing # 86: I’m not even processing the words to this song anymore. It might as well be an instrumental. Viewing # 87: I feel like this theme needs more buckets of water being dumped on people’s heads. I volunteer. Viewing # 88: The little brother’s dramatic performance just reminds me of Eric’s weird one-man show. I miss Eric. Viewing # 89: The guitar at the beginning of this song is so over-processed, it barely even resembles a guitar anymore. Viewing # 90: I’m pretty sure I barely resemble a person anymore. I’m a shell of a person. Viewing # 91: I regret ever being excited about Girl Meets World in the first place. Viewing # 92: That being said, I’m probably going to watch every episode. Cory’s dorkiness is winning me over again. Viewing # 93: Or I have some sort of TV-related Stockholm Syndrome. I can’t tell anymore. Viewing # 94: Riley has a huge bedroom for an apartment in New York. Viewing # 95: Topanga’s ‘90s revival bangs look like someone dropped an animal on her head. I don’t remember her actual ‘90s bangs being that bad. Viewing # 96: They didn’t even try to make those trees in “Central Park” look real. Viewing # 97: Oh, thank god, I’m almost done. Viewing # 98: If I ever hear the phrase “Take on the world” again, I might lose my mind. Viewing # 99: I do enjoy how, in the end, every Disney Channel title card looks exactly the same. Viewing # 100: It’s not that bad, in the end. I might be on board with it. I’m gonna skip the titles whenever I watch it, though. I’m never listening to them ever again. Girl Meets World is available on the WATCH Disney Channel streaming service starting tomorrow, and will premiere on actual televisions on June 27 at 9:45 PM, which is insane.
  • This Week in Cannes Reviews: 'Lost River,' 'Foxcatcher' and More
    By: Julia Emmanuele May 20, 2014
    Prospero Pictures/eOne Entertainment It's the beginning of the summer, which means it's time for Hollywood's biggest and brightest stars to make their way to the French Riviera for the Cannes Film Festival, while the rest of us look on with jealousy. But just because you didn't snag a ticket to the most glamorous film event of the year, that doesn't mean you can't keep up with all of the big films premiering over the next two weeks. To help you stay on top of things, we're running down the biggest films that premiered in competition at the festival, including the latest from David Cronenberg, Steve Carell's potential Oscar vehicle and the high-profile movie that opened to worse reviews than Grace of Monaco. Lost RiverActor Ryan Gosling's dreamy and feverish directorial debut follows Billy (Christina Hendricks) and her son Bones (Ian De Caestecker) as they struggle to survive the economically devastated Detroit-like city of Lost River. Billy goes to desperate lengths to keep her childhood home while Bones resorts to scavenging from local abandoned houses, but a local madman named Bully (Matt Smith) has claimed the entire neighborhood for himself. Lost River screened in the Un Certain Regard category at Cannes and was met with mostly boos from the audience. Many critics have cited Gosling's ambition, but have accused the first time director of being derivative of other, more seasoned filmmakers. “'Lost' is indeed the operative word for this violent fairy tale about a fractured family trying to survive among the ruins of a city overrun by thugs, sexual predators and other demons, nearly all of them cribbed from the surreal cinematic imaginations of other, vastly more intuitive filmmakers. It’s perversely admirable to the extent that Gosling has certainly put himself out there, sans shame or apology, but train-wreck fascination will go only so far to turn this misguided passion project into an item of even remote commercial interest." - Justin Chang, Variety "The visuals are undeniably dreamy, but they mostly seem borrowed from other filmmakers’ dreams. There’s a Twin Peaks feel of an alternate, off-kilter world to the whole thing, one in which arbitrary, quasi-surrealistic images barge in, sometimes for symbolic reasons, at other times arbitrarily. Many of them relate to ruin and decay—civic, environmental, bodily—and there is a sense of the ghosts who occupy both the ruined homes and the underwater town. As beautifully presented as the imagery is, however, none of it registers deeply because it all seems like borrowed goods. It’s flashy enough to engage the eye, but the experience is akin to flipping through a gorgeous art photography book featuring an assortment of artists rather than one. " - Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter Maps to the Stars David Cronenberg’s latest film follows Agatha (Mia Wasikowska), a young woman who was disfigured in a fire, and moves to LA in an attempt to reconnect with her family… even if they don’t want to reconnect with her. Along the way she befriends a limo driver (Robert Pattinson) and gets a job working for a washed-up movie star Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore), who is attempting to land the lead role in a remake of a film that once starred her mother (Sarah Gadon). Meanwhile, Havana's shrink (John Cusack) is raising tween megastar Benjie Weiss (Evan Bird), who at 13 is fresh out of rehab and whose fame allows him to get away with just about anything. “If Sunset Boulevard, All About Eve and Kenneth Anger's Hollywood Babylon took a bunch of prescription medication, had a two-day three-way and conceived a child, nine months later the child would look something like "Map To The Stars. […] Hollywood's seemed pretty rotten from the off in the film, but as Cronenberg exposes its stinking maggoty core of ghosts, sexual deviancy and cover-ups, the film takes on a nightmarish K-hole tone of its own, while remaining darkly, bitterly funny to the last. LA's rarely seemed as unappealing on screen, which is quite the feat.” – Oliver Lyttelton, The Playlist “David Cronenberg's new film here at Cannes is a gripping and exquisitely horrible movie about contemporary Hollywood – positively vivisectional in its sadism and scorn. It is twisted, twisty, and very far from all the predictable outsider platitudes about celebrity culture. The status-anxiety, fame-vertigo, sexual satiety and that all-encompassing fear of failure which poisons every triumph are displayed here with an icy new connoisseurship, a kind of extremism which faces down the traditional objection that films like this are secretly infatuated with their subject.” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian Foxcatcher Based on the true story of the murder of wrestler Dave Schultz, Foxcatcher has emerged from the festival as a major player in next year's Oscars race. Channing Tatum stars as Mark Schultz, an Olympic wrestler who has long lived in the shadow of his older brother, Dave (Mark Ruffalo). When Mark gets an invitation from multimillionaire John E. duPont (Steve Carell) to move into his home and train at his facilities, his relationship with his new benefactor turns out ot have dangerous consequences. "Despite its hefty 134-minute running time, “Foxcatcher” doesn’t have an ounce of the proverbial narrative fat [...] Crucially, this meticulously researched picture feels as authentic in its understanding of character as it does in its unvarnished re-creation of the world of Olympic sports in the late ’80s; rarely onscreen has the art of wrestling, centered around the violent yet intimate spectacle of men’s bodies in furious collision, provided so transfixing a metaphor for the emotional undercurrents raging beneath the surface." - Justin Chang, Variety "Centered on an astonishing and utterly unexpected serious turn by Steve Carell, this beautifully modulated work has a great deal on its mind about America's privileged class, usurious relationships, men's ways of proving themselves, brotherly bonds and how deeply sublimated urges can assert themselves in the most unsavory ways." - Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter Saint LaurentFocused on the life and career of Yves Saint Laurent (Gaspard Ulliel), the film charts the designer's rise to fame and his relationship with his lover and business partner, Pierre Berge (Jeremie Renier). Written and directed by Bertrand Bonello, it's one of several high-profile biopics in contention at Cannes this year, although similarities to another recent Saint Laurent movie may have been its downfall with critics, as it only earned mixed reviews. "The point could be to show what it all cost Saint Laurent - and yet it doesn't actually seem to have cost him that much: he grows to a pampered old age, not very conspicuously interested in anyone or anything but his dog. Perhaps it is that they are entirely without affect, like a tableau by Warhol, who writes Saint Laurent a fan letter here. Finally, Saint Laurent is a well made but bafflingly airless and claustrophobic film, like being with fashion's very own Tutenkhamen , living and dying inside his own richly appointed tomb - and sentimentally indulged to the last." - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian Perhaps through time this hallucinatory quasi-dream of a biopic will grow in stature, but as first impressions go, the film loves itself so much it renders itself beautiful, but utterly shallow. The messy structure, which includes further time jumps in the future – a random introduction of an older Saint Laurent, the Pierre Berge-handling business affairs at irregular intermissions between exploration of a bored genius, and animal cruelty in the form of a pug OD’ing on pills – doesn’t do the film any favors." - Nikola Grozdanovic, The Playlist Ego Film Arts/The Film Farm The Captive Atom Egoyan's latest film centers on the kidnapping of a teenage girl, and the torture that her captor puts her parents through. Eight years after Cass (Alexia Fast) disappeared, her parents (Ryan Reynolds and Mireille Enos) discover disturbing new evidence that leads them to believe that she's still alive, and they desperately attempt to get the police to take their case seriously. The film, which was perceived by many to be a comeback vehicle for both Reynolds and Eyogan, premiered to largely negative reviews, putting it up against Grace of Monaco and Lost River for the biggest disappointment of the festival.  "The plotting here is so hopelessly tangled, clichéd, and bereft of psychological complexity that it's difficult to care what happens to any of these people. That goes even for poor Cass, who seems at times to have a touch of Stockholm syndrome but otherwise just looks bored sitting around on the pink princess bed she's outgrown. As Mika's antics become more bizarre and her distraught dad out of nowhere starts outsmarting her tormentors, the movie goes from uninvolving to risible." - David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter "Any other year, in any other context, The Captive would simply be another overcooked rote thriller that, like so many other films in this genre, totally loses the run of itself in the final act (seriously, Kevin Durand goes so Bond villain that he even has a female henchperson sidekick). [...] Instead, right down to the nearly synonymous title we get a lurid, silly Prisoners me-too (and that film itself was far from flawless) in which the only additions are a flashback-and-forward structure that never works, the kind of contrivance in which a laptop camera accidentally left transmitting records a crucial conversation (perfectly framed) and a crude, distastefully regressive subtheme which suggests that well, of course that this is what happens to girls and to women (even successful, intelligent, independent women) when they are left alone even for a moment by their menfolk." - Jessica Kiang, The Playlist The Homesman Co-written, directed by and starring Tommy Lee Jones, The Homesman follows a claim jumper and a pioneer woman (Hilary Swank), who accompany three insane women - played by Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto and Sonja Richter - across the border into Iowa. Like several other Cannes contenders, the film has already been receiving awards buzz, thanks to Jones' direction and a powerhouse lead performance from Swank. "Unlike other actor-directors, Jones never seems to indulge excess on the part of his cast. Though the characters are strong, the performances are understated. Even the three ladies settle into a state of near-catatonia after awhile, rather than indulging their various “hysterias.” In the past, people have whispered about Jones’ attitudes toward women; with this film, he says a thing or two on the subject with a sensitivity that comes as a welcome surprise." - Peter Debruge, Variety "This is a frontier tale with something of the classic style of Stagecoach or 3:10 to Yuma, but also the consciously grimmer, austerer feel of Kelly Reichardt's Meek's Cutoff and indeed Lee Jones's own The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada. And it is a frontier tale which is swimming against the generic current: most stories like these are about heading west. This is about a trudge in the opposite direction." - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian  Follow @hollywood_com // Follow @julesemm //
  • 5 Grand Romantic Movie Gestures for Robin Thicke to Try
    By: Julia Emmanuele May 19, 2014
    If movies have taught us anything, it's that the best way to apologize to your significant other is through a grand romantic gesture, and nobody in Hollywood seems to have taken that lesson to heart more than Robin Thicke. When it came time for R&B's smoothest white boy to plan his performance at Sunday night's Billboard Music Awards, he decided to drop the theatrics and instead delivered a heartfelt ballad - appropriately titled "Get Her Back" - in an attempt to win back his estranged wife, Paula Patton.  Unfortunately, just because something looks romantic onscreen, that doesn't mean it will necessarily translate to real life, and instead of being the heartwarming, dramatic moment that he hoped for, it came off as just another performance of a treacly love song. Though he gets points for using his minimalist stage design and choreography to highlight how heartfelt his plea was, a real grand romantic gesture needs to be a bit more cinematic. In order to help Thicke step up his game, we've put him in the shoes of some of the most romantic moments in movie history. Don't be surprised if Thicke's next awards show appearance just involves him holding a boom box over his head.  Say Anything Century Fox/Getty Images Taking a page out of Lloyd Dobler's book, Thicke could stand outside of Patton's home holding a boombox over his head so that she understands how much she means to him. As long as he remembers that just because "Blurred Lines" was the song of the summer, it's not particularly romantic. 10 Things I Hate About You Vista via Everett Collection/Getty Images Thicke's performance was missing two crucial ingredients that made Heath Ledger's soccer field serenade so memorable: charmingly terrible dance moves and a head of hair that flowed gloriously in the breeze. Or, at the very least, he could have thrown some trumpets in there.  The Notebook Line/Getty Images As Ryan Gosling proved, sometimes all you need to prove your devotion is some rain and a year's worth of romantic letters, so maybe Thicke would be better off writing down his apology songs instead of releasing them as singles. He would win back Patton, and we would get a break from having to hear him on every single radio station.  The Wedding Singer Line/Getty Images It may have come from a cheesy comedy, but somehow "I Want to Grow Old With You" is a better love song than anything Thicke has come out with in the last five years. Although we could easily see Thicke rocking a white suit.  The Graduate Pictures/United Artists/Getty Images Crashing a wedding is the ultimate romantic movie gesture, but since Thicke seems to prefer making his big gestures at awards shows, the Oscars producers should probably be wary about asking Patton to present next year.  Follow @hollywood_com // Follow @julesemm //
  • Analyzing Ryan Gosling's Fever Dream... I Mean, 'Lost River' Trailer
    By: Julia Emmanuele May 19, 2014
    Warner Bros. Pictures Ryan Gosling is many things – an actor, a former Mickey Mouse Club member, extremely good looking – but with the release of his latest film, Lost River, he’s set to add writer and director to that list. The film, which was previously titled How to Catch a Monster, follows a single mother who navigates a dark underworld while her son stumbles across a path that leads to an underwater town. And if just reading that description made you feel confused and disoriented, just wait until you watch the first teaser for the film, courtesy of IndieWire. From the looks of it, Lost River is basically a full-length fever dream. Though the film doesn’t premiere until later this week at Cannes, the teaser gives us a quick glimpse into the insanity that lurks just underneath Gosling’s handsome surface. Between the many fires, the chanting about muscles and the jeans with a built-in codpiece, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by everything packed into this clip. Luckily, we’re experienced pop culture analysts, and so we’ve attempted to unpack and break down all of the images present in the first clip from Lost River. Come, let us travel this journey into the unknown together:   0:07 - Every journey needs an entry point, and for us, it’s the young boy who emerges out of the darkness to confront the surreal world ahead of him. As he surveys the abandoned parking lot in front of him, he is forced into this new world, where he can no longer be protected by the comforting darkness and ignorance that the tunnel represents, and must instead face the horrors and confusions of the world head-on, carrying the literal baggage of his old life behind him. Meanwhile, the camera lingers on the graffiti on the walls behind him, representing the dangerous new language of his environment and showcasing how much detail the production designer took in replicating the cooler pictures he found in his Weird NJ books. 0:14 - Then, just as he’s becoming acclimated to his surroundings, our protagonist is thrown for a loop by the flaming bicycle that wheels past him, representing the death of his childhood and the rise of the harsh realities and questions of the new world. Either that, or Gosling is really opposed to the whole “go green” movement. 0:22 to 0:27 - From there, the camera cuts to Matt Smith, who apparently is trying to bring back '90s warmp up gear in much the same way that the Doctor brought back fezzes and bowties. We then hear him demand for us to look at his muscles, over and over again, while Gosling attempts to make jazzercise cool again by taking it on safari.   0:31 - Then, Smith stands on top of the car, and we see that his jeans come with a built-in codpiece, which serves to show that this a character designed to disorient the our protagonist. He represents being unafraid of your most primal desires and a reminder that just because something’s on sale, that doesn’t mean you should purchase it. 0:36 to 0:40 - Smith stands proudly in front of a bonfire, and his lack of concern over the synthetic material of his MC Hammer shirt catching fire represents his inherent danger and lack of inhibitions. We then cut to a house completely engulfed in flames, likely the result of Smith’s character letting his recklessness and anarchic tendencies take over. However, he is not present because the fire is burning too strongly for him to risk standing next to while wearing a scarf that is covered in cheap sequins without a shirt to protect him from the melting plastic. 0:58 to 1:04 - When we cut back to our protagonist, he abruptly runs into the distance, symbolizing his inability to face up to the harsh realities of this world and his desire to not be forever traumatized by the Doctor’s amateur rap career. As he runs over the bridge, his surroundings drag on and overwhelm him, because he will never be able to escape the images that he has just witnessed. And if we're being honest, neither will we.  Follow @hollywood_com Follow @julesemm
  • 'Game of Thrones' Recap: You Can't Trust Anyone in the Seven Kingdoms
    By: Julia Emmanuele May 19, 2014
    HBO Trust is a dangerous thing in a world like Westeros. If last week's episode established the idea of fairness being something subjective that characters earn, "Mockingbird" was all about the dangers of putting your trust in the wrong people. Nobody embodies that idea better than Lysa Arryn, who let her lifelong love of Petyr Baelish blind her to all of his maniuplation, resulting in her unfortunate trip through the moon door. But Lysa's trust in her new husband, and the sad ending it brought her has bigger, longer-lasting consequences, as it leaves Petyr in charge of the Vale (Robin might inherit the house, but Petyr will always call the shots), and forces Sansa to decide whether or not she can put trust in her new, creepy uncle.  Sansa has spent much of her time on the show learning who she can and can't trust, as most of the people she has confided in have either turned against her or been killed. In may ways, her relationship with Petyr is one of the most dangerous ones she's had to navigate thus far, as he's made it obvious what he's capable of. Thus far, he's protected her from the Lannisters, from Robin and from Lysa, but Petyr is such a master manipulator that it's harder to tell when he might change his mind at the least second and send someone to their death. And if that weren't enough of an uncomfortable situation, he's constantly comparing her to her mother — whom we're reminded is the only woman Petyr has ever loved — so she's forced to handle his romantic feelings as well as his desire for power.  The whole situation leaves Sansa in a difficult position: she's the only one who knows that Petyr killed Lysa, and she knows that he's willing to protect her, but there's no way for her to know how extensive that protection will be. In some ways, he will need to trust her to protect him from the authorities, but he still holds the power in this reationship. She may know he is a murderer, but she's seen him kill two of the most powerful people in Westeros, and he can hand her over to the Lannisters with one word, and so she must now decide whether she can continue to place her faith in someone so manipulative and dangerous.  Meanwhile, her estranged husband is also placing all of his eggs in one basket, as Tyrion discovers that he can no longer rely on the people he thought he could. After demanding a trial by combat in order to exert a little bit of control over his death, the youngest Lannister goes through one potential champion after another, discovering that he may no longer have anyone in his corner he can count on. Having assumed that Jaime would fight for him, he's thrown for a loop when Jaime admits that he can't fight with his left hand. From there, he truns to his trusty second-in-command, Bronn, only to find that someone has beaten him to the punch.  When Bronn arrives, he reveals that he's set to marry Lollys Stokeworth, and thus be second in line to the Stokeworth castle, an arrangement that Cersei kindly put together. Bronn doesn't trust people, he trust gold; it's a statement he's made many times over, and for the first time, Tyrion can't buy that trust, and it leaves him spinning. Peter Dinklage does wonders with the scene, cycling through disbelief, frustration and disappointment, before sitting in the corner, resigned to his imminent death. However, it turns out that though Tyrion can no longer trust his friends or family, he can trust his enemy, as Oberyn Martell offers to be his champion as a way of getting revenge for his sister's death.  HBO Oberyn's anecdote about seeing Tyrion as a baby and witnessing the contempt his family had for him from day one is used not only as an explanation for why he volunteers to be his champion — Oberyn has often talked about the Dornish perspective of justice and fairness, and Tyrion's situation clearly violates that — but also as a contrast between the relationships with their families. Oberyn loved his sister and wants to avenge her, while Tyrion's wants him dead, and since Oberyn prefers Tyrion over the other Lannisters, why not take the opportunity to right two wrongs with one sword? Pedro Pascal does a fine bit of acting here, recounting the story of the "monster" born at Casterly Rock, and allowing his distaste for Cersei's behavior to become clear in his voice, but the moment truly belongs to Dinklage, whose reaction to every beat of the story is evident on his face.  Like most episodes of Game of Thrones this season, "Mockingbird" touched bases with several different characters before spending the last act focused solely on one event. In Mereen, Daenerys is learning that being queen means controlling both your people and your advisors, and in a pair of scenes, she tests the loyalty of her two closest counsellors. First, she makes Daario prove his loyalty by allowing him to showcase his two skills (swordplay and women, of course), and then, when Jorah lectures her about trust and her practices of ruling, she pits them against each other. It's an unexpected bit of manipulation from Dany, who is so focused on the black and white of any situation that she often refuses to acknowledge any grey area. Though she professes to, she doesn't seem to trust Jorah's counsel, and she's warming up to Daario, which means those two will soon come to a head, and knowing Dany, it will likely be bloody.  Over on the King's Road, Brienne and Pod run into Hot Pie, who is alive and well and cooking the best steak and kidney pie in the kingdom. Brienne, ever the pragmatist, outright asks Hot Pie if he's seen Sansa Stark, but Pod was trained by Tyrion, and is wary about trusting strangers. It works out for them, and Hot Pie reveals that Arya and the Hound are headed toward the Eyrie, which gives them a lead on Sansa. Their trust of Hot Pie leads Brienne to trust Pod in return, in a sweet if heavy-handed moment where she lets him lead the way to the Vale.  Meanwhile, Arya and the Hound have learned to trust each other for protection, with the Hound stepping back and allowing Arya revenge on Rorge, and her offering to clean and stitch his wound for him. Sitting around the fire, he reveals to her how he got his scars, and how his father protected his brother instead of standing up for him, and by the time he ends his speech with "And you thought you were alone..." it's obvious that these two loners have come to rely on each other more than they want to admit. However, there's no telling how long this trust will last — he is her captor, after all — and so their moment, like Sansa's conversation in the courtyard with Petyr, has an ominous overtone to it.  Though it ended with another shocking death, "Mockingbird" is primarily an episode of exposition, allowing the series a breather before launching into the action of Tyrion's trial by combat and the Wildlings' raid on the Wall (which should either happen soon or be mentioned less, as the plot is starting to stall). It's a necessary part of any series, in order to build momentum for a big finish, but the writers might be better off mixing up the groups they focus on in any given episode, as not even a fall though the moon door can help keep things in motion.  Episode grade: B, or A Hot Pie with Two Wolf Breads. It's always good to see the kind-hearted characters make it through the series in once piece.  Follow @hollywood_com // Follow @julesemm //
  • Which Animal Was the Inspiration for Gareth Edwards' 'Godzilla'?
    By: Julia Emmanuele May 17, 2014
    Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection One of the most iconic movie monsters of all time, Godzilla is storming his way back onto the big screen, and it takes a surprising amount of work to craft a creature that can level a city in minutes. Luckily, the latest take on Godzilla has a secret weapon: director Gareth Edwards, who has spent much of his career working in the visual effects world. His experience was not only vital to creating a monster for the ages, but also to helping the film's stars act opposite it when they have no idea what they're looking at. Edwards, producer Thomas Tull and stars Ken Watanabe and Elisabeth Olsen sat down to talk about the "obvious" inspiration for Godzilla, the challenges of acting with only your imagination, and Olsen's unexpected reaction to seeing the finished film.  Director Gareth Edwards and producer revealed the initial inspiration behind the monster himself, and talked a little bit about the process of creating Godzilla: Edwards: "In terms of his movement, we initially had got hold of – we had a researcher get hundreds of different clips of animals fighting and animal behavior because I felt that the obvious thing to do is like, “Okay we’re just gonna use nature as a reference, we’re gonna do this realistically, let’s look at animals, let’s just copy that, that’s all we have to do.” So we got bears fighting and wolves hunting and animated him based on that and then sort of sat and watched it and were like 'Oh, there’s a problem here,' which is if you watch nature, a natural history documentary or a wildlife documentary and you don’t have any narration, you don’t know what the hell is going on...And so we ended up dialing in a lot more human performance to him and he slightly went incrementally from being purely animalistic to a lot more like a guy in a suit doing a performance because you needed to understand, in his body language, whether he was tired or angry." The actors themselves never got to see Godzilla until the film was completed, so they had to base their performance based on the mockup animations that Edwards showed them before filming began. Ken Watanabe and Elisabeth Olsen discussed what they had to work with:   Watanabe: “[It's] just imagination and a point. Gareth had an iPad with the animation, something like that, a point.” Olsen: “Gareth, before we shot anything that had special effects, he showed me previs, which I learned about, and it’s just these basic funny cartoons making terrible reactions to things. But you understand what they’re looking at and what the angles are, and that what was so exciting to me about doing a project like this is that imagination aspect.” However, having to rely solely on your imagination can be difficult for an actor, especially one who has never worked with CGI before, like Olsen. She went into what she found challenging about the process, and what she hopes to take with her to The Avengers: Olsen: “It’s difficult, because you think it’s just going to be full make-believe, and then it’s pouring rain and you have to walk seven steps that way and three steps that way and you have to get a verbal cue when you know that the camera guy has panned down from whatever is going to be there back to you, so you can turn. It’s very technical and so it’s was definitely something I’ve never really done before, but you still have to hit your marks and all that stuff. It surprisingly looks easy to me. I think that’s what I was surprised by when I saw it.  I think now that I’ve done it once I have confidence knowing that I understand how it’s gonna be edited, because it’s a little scary when you’re a fish in new waters.” In order to create an environment that Godzilla could interact with, Edwards and his team used CGI for various elements on the film, which were added to the physical set in order to create the final product. According to producer Thomas Tull, Edwards did such a good job with both aspects that the audience shouldn’t be able to tell what was built by hand and what was added in post-production: Tull: “Gareth is, in a way, an old fashioned filmmaker. We share the passion for Amblin’s movies back in the ‘80s, things like that. So there were some things that he wanted to do practical, that I think were great. Hopefully you couldn’t tell the difference, and tell me which — other than Godzilla, probably — we didn’t do practical. It’s really looking at each set piece or each item and deciding what you can get away with and not have people bump on.” Finally, Olsen spoke about her experience seeing everything come together in the finished film for the first time. Since Godzilla is her first effect-heavy film, she wasn’t sure what to expect from the film, and her reaction took her by surprise: Olsen: “I was actually shocked that I wanted to cry like twice in the film, and usually I’m quite removed from the films I watch and really get critical if I’m in them, and I was amazed at how moved I was so quickly, especially with Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche. I think that shocked me. It’s just always fun, because I never really worked with anyone but Carson [Bolde], who played my son, and Aaron [Taylor-Johnson] very briefly and this other actress Jill [Teed], who played one of the nurses, so it’s just nice to see what everyone else is doing. There was part of me that was like “Maybe I should have gone to see what everyone else was doing,” because part of me was like “Oh, it’s so crazy. They’re getting such crazy stuff!” but it’s good I didn’t because I’m also not seeing everything they’re seeing. I’m seeing it from a different perspective so it was just eye-opening to see what everyone else did, and I just really liked it. I saw it with one of my best friends, and we were so excited afterwards. We were like, “Good one!” Godzilla is now playing in theaters.  Follow @hollywood_com // Follow @julesemm //
  • Which Upcoming Zach Galifiankis Movie Is More Exciting?
    By: Julia Emmanuele May 16, 2014
    Focus Features via Everett Collection Now that he’s done being a one-man wolf pack, Zach Galifianakis is going highbrow. The actor has signed onto two new projects, Larry’s Kidney and Will, which will be helmed by Oscar nominated directors Richard Linklater and Michel Hazanavicius, respectively. Larry's Kidney doesn't yet have a planned time frame to start filming, and Variety reports that Galifianakis will start work on Will before the end of the year, primarily so that Hazanavicius can then begin production on In the Garden of Beasts, which is slated for a 2016 release. In addition to working with two acclaimed directors, the films will give Galifianakis a chance to reunite with his former co-stars: Will Ferrell is attached to star in Larry's Kidney, and Paul Rudd set to play the other lead role in Will. Between the unusual directors and the chance to see Galifianakis one-up The Campaign  and Dinner for Schmucks, it's hard not to get excited about his upcoming projects. But which film is truly the most exciting? We've pitted the two against each other to see which one of Galafiankis' next films is worth marking your calendars for. Will Plot: Set in a fantasy world where humans don’t have free will and are instead guided through life by a guardian angel, Will (Rudd) finds himself stranded after his angel (Galifianakis) quit. Will must now navigate through life on his own, and learn how to make decisions on his own. Director: Michel Hazanavicius, best known for The Artist, which won five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director.Co-star: Paul Rudd, everyone’s favorite comedic leading man.Team Involved: Will Ferrell and Adam McKay are on board as producers, and the script was written by comedian Demetri Martin.Pros: Between the cast, writer and producers, Will has an impressive team behind it and Hazanavicius will lend an air of gravitas to the proceedings. His films tend to be more dramatic, but The Artist did have some moments of broad, slapstick, and vaudeville comedy, which is similar to a lot of what Galifianakis does. Plus, Martin’s comedy is universally appealing while still being quirky and unique, which will help the film appeal to a wider audience than Galafiankis’ films might normally draw. Cons: The Artist was much more of a drama than anything else, which makes us apprehensive as to how well Hazanavicius will do with a straightforward comedy, since it’s not something he has a great deal of experience with. Also, while Rudd and Galifianakis are a solid pairing, they’ve played these parts many times before, with varying degrees of success, and since the concept is a tricky one to pull off – remember The Invention of Lying? – that could drag things down. How Excited We Are: Cautiously optimistic. The team is solid, the concept is interesting, and Hazanavicius is a talented director, but there’s still plenty of room for things to go wrong. Larry’s Kidney Plot: Based on the memoir by David Asa Rose, the film follows a man (Ferrell) who travels to China with his cousin Larry (Galifianakis) and a mail-order bride in order to help Larry receive a life-saving kidney transplant. That is, if the cousins can manage to stay out of a foreign prison and repair their fractured relationship. Director: Richard Linklater, whose filmography includes Dazed and Confused, Bernie and the Before Sunrise trilogy.Co-star: Will Ferrell, everyone’s favorite comedic man child.Team Involved: Thus far, Galifianakis, Linklater and Ferrell are the only people signed onto the project. Pros: Although Galifianakis and Ferrell are two of the biggest names in comedy right now, the real draw here is Linklater, whose comedies are consistently excellent. Like Hazanavicius, his presence adds some (much-needed) seriousness to the film, as even when his movies are broad and goofy, they’re still grounded. Larry’s Kidney seems like it could become a dramedy, which makes him the perfect choice, and will allow both actors to showcase their range. Cons: Well, the last time Galifianakis and Ferrell got together, the result was The Campaign, which wasn’t very good. Both have a similar comedic style, relying on over-the-top, weird characters and childish hijinks, which can be overwhelming if there’s nobody onscreen to help balance the out. Plus, though the plot seems like it could lend itself to more dramatic moments quite easily, the “foreign adventure” and “mail-order bride” remind us of the worst parts of the pairs’ films, which makes us uneasy. How Excited We Are: Slightly hopeful, mostly worried. Though we’re automatically on-board with everything Linklater does, this film has a lot stacked against it, and we're not sure that even he can reign the pair in enough to keep things from going off the rails. Winner: Will We're big fans of Linklater and his work, but Will has a stronger team behind it, and is less likely to give us terrible flashbacks to The Campaign. Follow @hollywood_com // Follow @julesemm //