Franco Nero in Sergio Corbucci’s Django (1966)

HitFix has what looks to be some well-sourced and thoroughly researched information about Quentin Tarantino’s next film, previously described as “A Southern” — a frontier revenge tale set in the post-Civil War South. Drew McWeeny connects the dots for us:

Earlier today, @AgentTrainee simply tweeted the word “Jealous?” and a picture of a title page that should look familiar to anyone who read either “Kill Bill” or “Inglourious Basterds.” And if that title page is right, then we know know a few new things.

Awards Daily reader, billy, has seen the script and offers this informal synopsis:

The title character Django is a freed slave, who under the tutelage of a German bounty hunter (Christophe Waltz) becomes a badass bounty hunter himself and after assisting Waltz on taking down some bad guys for profit, is in turn assisted by Waltz in tracking down his slave wife and liberating her from an evil plantation owner. And that doesn’t even half begin to cover it!

[Find more of billy’s impressions on the comment page.] Tarantino apparently put the finishing touches in his script three days ago. Take a look at the title page after the cut and read the conclusions assembled from available clues.

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The Jeff Buckley movie project is actually happening. The go-to star for this project appears to be Robert Pattinson, currently starring opposite Reese Witherspoon in Water for Elephants, but more well known for, well, you know. Those movies. He can sing and he looks a little like Buckley, although I’d say distinctly lacking Buckley’s elfin innocence. Pattinson has met with Buckley’s mom

“I met his [Jeff Buckley’s] mom who’s really great,” told The Playlist. “It‚Äôs really not up to me. I love Jeff‚Äôs music. He was amazing.” Pattinson stopped short, though, of saying he could sing like Buckley (who can, really), ‚ÄúHe was unique. Also, I can‚Äôt play guitar like him either. It would involve quite a lot of work. If someone just imitates Jeff‚Äôs voice, it wouldn‚Äôt be right. It‚Äôs always about the script. You have no idea how it‚Äôs going to represent someone.‚Äù

I know many will immediately dismiss Pattinson for this — but I personally don’t think it’s a bad choice. I’d like to see what Pattinson would do with this.

My favorite Buckley tune after the cut.

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Earlier this week Empire magazine announced that Icon (Mel Gibson’s distribution company) had plans to open The Tree of Life in the UK on May 4 — fully two weeks before its feverishly anticipated Cannes premiere. On the face of it, that claim sounded dubious and today we’re learning some messy details. Napier’s News digs down to the core issue:

Icon don‚Äôt actually have the rights to the film. Anne Thompson reports from sources that the company initially won the rights by offering a high minimum guarantee, which basically means they agreed to pay the film’s backers a lot of money regardless of how well the film does on the basis that they believed it would be a huge hit, but were now having second thoughts about releasing the film. Possibly because it’s not very commercial?

Icon is taking the matter to court, and that probably means a UK release for The Tree of Life will have to wait until the legal wrangling is over — which could be months from now. None of this has any effect on the previously announced limited US release for The Tree of Life on May 27.


Twitter has been a-flutter with the news that fresh off of his undeserved Oscar win, Tom Hooper will have a chance to show his stuff when he¬†next takes on the film version of the Broadway hit Les Miserables. ¬†I’m guessing Hooper will try to make a grittier version than the 1998 film with Uma Thurman and Liam Neeson. ¬†Every time I read he’s been confirmed, I click the link to read he’s still in “talks.” ¬†According to Deadline, he’s passed on the Weinstein Co’s Tulip Fever (I hope he realizes where he’d be without the Weinstein Co. ¬†Not in talks to direct Les Mis, I can tell you that).

He’s a decent enough director, so why not. ¬†Never having seen either the play or any of the film versions, I can’t speak for whether or not the world needs another cinematic interpretation of it. ¬†No one seems to be getting tired of other remakes, like Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice so perhaps there is still enough interest to make this a worthwhile project.

Beginners was my inspiration for posting today’s poll asking Awards Daily readers to choose their favorite gay films of the past 30 years. Looking back over recent history, especially over the past decade, it seems we’re seeing at least one major gay-themed movie each year figure prominently in the winners circle topping off the annual awards circuit. Offhand, for 2011 the only films that come immediately to my mind are Kaboom and Beginners — so I know I’m forgetting a few. Help me out. What other GLBT movies do we have to look forward to this year?

Chance the Gardener: As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden… Yes! There will be growth in the spring!

Hope springs eternal in the 12 weeks before Summer. As the new season begins to bloom, here’s a list of 25 films that make me most optimistic.

Mar 4 – I Saw the Devil
Mar 4 – Rango
Mar 11 – Certified Copy
Mar 11 – Jane Eyre
Mar 18 – Sucker Punch
Mar 25 – Win Win
Apr 1 – Source Code
Apr 8 – Meek’s Cutoff
Apr 8 – Hanna
Apr 15 – The Princess of Montpensier
Apr 15 – Rio
Apr 22 – Haywire
Apr 22 – Incendies
Apr 22 – Water for Elephants
Apr 29 – Caves of Forgotten Dreams
Apr 29 – 13 Assassins
Apr 29 – Sympathy for Delicious
May 6 – The Beaver
May 6 – The Vintner’s Luck
May13 – Hesher
May 20 – Midnight in Paris
May 20 – Beautiful Boy
May 27 – Tree of Life

Arriving June 10. Teaser poster after the cut.

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Deadline just announced (and it was like the shot heard round the world how fast it traveled on the web, srsly) that Barry Levinson will direct the script O.K.C. (a Black List script from 2010), written by Clay Wold, whose brother was a clerk on the McVeigh case. As described on Deadline:

The clerk’s determination to expose the truth led to a bigger conspiracy and nearly destroyed the young man.

I don’t have a copy of the script, so I did a little digging. Turns out there are several conspiracies that surround the McVeigh case – none of them as easy to digest as what appears to be the plain truth, that McVeigh and Terry Nichols acted alone in retaliation for Waco and Ruby Ridge. I always figure that humans are hard-wired to believe conspiracies because no one wants to accept how little of life’s circumstances we can control. But this article, written back in 2001, that tries to tie the whole thing to a neo-Nazi ring.

Either way, we have it on the watch.

Oscar winning screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher makes his directorial debut with Violet and Daisy, from his own script. The film stars Saoirse Ronan and Alexis Bledel as grrrl assassins, The Playlist reports:

The story finds Ronan and Bledel (who are shockingly 13 years apart) playing a pair of teenage assassins who are lured into what is supposed to be just another quick and easy job, only to find complications as the man they’re supposed to kill (presumably Gandolfini) is not what they expected. Also co-starring is “Machete” himself Danny Trejo and Marianne Jean-Baptiste, who’ll play a “worldly shape-shifting assassin,” whatever that means. We’re definitely intrigued.

Pics were not approved for release so we had to remove them.

The trailer for Meek’s Cutoff dropped 2 days ago, but I held off posting because the quality was poor. This looks to be a film that deserves to be introduced with a premium presentation. Notably the first feature film shot by cinematographer Chris Blauvelt but he’s been camera operator for some of the greats for more than a decade — working with Harris Savides on Fincher’s The Game and Zodiac, Christopher Doyle on Paranoid Park Elephant, Lance Acord on Where the Wild things Are, and Eduard Grau on A Single Man.

Meeks’s Cutoff is directed by Kelly Reichardt (Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy) and last September was chosen by the critics who voted in indieWIRE’s poll as the best narrative film at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

(Thanks, Faux!) Check out the bone-dry poster after the cut.

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Director Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent) and Fox Searchlight showcase Paul Giamatti in Win Win with a screenplay THR says in its Sundance review, “never strikes a false note”:

It’s no surprise that McCarthy is a skilled actor’s director, but the heartfelt compassion and observational acuity that infuses the writer-director’s films is what distinguishes them most. In all three features, he has shown a rare ability to shape unexpected connections between very real people, guiding them toward gently uplifting outcomes that are neither manipulative nor sentimental. That might make him one of the least cynical filmmakers working in America.

Fox Searchlight has carved a robust niche in the past with releases that center on underdogs and borderline losers enduring without sacrificing a firm sense of who they are. Think Napoleon Dynamite and Little Miss Sunshine. In many ways, Win Win fits that mold, which should make it McCarthy’s most broadly appealing movie to date.

(thanks to Jon, for the persistent reminders.) Win Win opens March 18, a month earlier than McCarthy’s The Visitor, another of Searchlight’s resilient Oscar Energizer Bunnies. Synopsis and poster after the cut.

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SXSW will screen Hesher in March and provides a clip after the cut.

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Distribution rights for Martin Scorsese’s 3D adventure, Hugo Cabret has been transferred to Paramount and its release date has been bumped up 2 weeks to November 23 for optimal family-friendliness. That’s almost exactly a year after Marty’s interview with the Guardian’s Mark Kermode last November:

Scorsese seems genuinely fired up about the possibilities of the 3D format. “Every shot is rethinking cinema,” he enthuses, “rethinking narrative ‚Äì how to tell a story with a picture. Now, I’m not saying we have to keep throwing javelins at the camera, I’m not saying we use it as a gimmick, but it’s liberating. It’s literally a Rubik’s Cube every time you go out to design a shot, and work out a camera move, or a crane move. But it has a beauty to it also. People look like‚Ķ like moving statues. They move like sculpture, as if sculpture is moving in a way. Like dancers‚Ķ”

Deadline says producer Graham King was determined to see the film open during the five-day Thanksgiving holiday.
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Joe Wright’s Hanna, scheduled for release in the US April 8 (UK May 6), features Saoirse Ronan as a teenage assassin, Eric Bana as the father who trained her, and Cate Blanchett as a CIA agent who tries rather unsuccessfully to tame and contain her.

The story follows a 14-year-old Eastern European girl (Ronan) who has been raised by her father to be a cold-blooded killing machine. She connects with a French family, forms a friendship with their daughter and goes through the pangs of adolescence. When the girl is dragged back to her father’s world and discovers that she was bred as a killing machine in a CIA prison camp, she must fight her way to a free life.

thanks to Yavor for calling our attention to the knockout clips after the cut (2-minute action sequences which naturally may be considered spoilers), along with two intensely menacing posters.

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Over the weekend the Weinsteins snatched up US distribute rights to Ralph Fiennes’ Coriolanus, updating Shakespeare in terms of a contemporary political thriller. That preemptive buy, made well in advance of last night’s premiere, confirms Harvey is savvy and prescient as ever. THR‘s critic Ray Bennett says Coriolanus is “a bloody delight”:

At a time when revolution is once again in the air around the world, Ralph Fiennes delivers a ferocious reminder of the perils in store when a warrior becomes the head of state.

Set in current times with Shakespeare’s language adapted skilfully by John Logan, and performed under Fiennes’ direction with modern phrasing, the film illuminates the playwright’s astonishing gift for timeless insight into what moves the human spirit and motivates ambition.

With her richest and plumiest role in years, Vanessa Redgrave as his mother Volumnia is a formidable figure. The Telegraph calls her “quite tremendous”:

The way she grasps and massages the part, you feel Shakespeare could almost have written it for her: she’s both implacable and hugely moving, advancing with steel in her entreaties and fire in her soul.

Superspidersize Me Press Release:

Columbia Pictures announced today that the title of the next Spider-Man film will be The Amazing Spider-Man.

The studio simultaneously released a photo of Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, the first shot of Garfield in the famous full mask and suit. The film, which is now in production and is being shot entirely in 3D, will be released on July 3, 2012.

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Your future has been rather aggressively photoshopped. But somehow for once the androidgenous porelessness enhances the unsettling effect. Not to be alarmist or anything, but I think I recognize that fedora from Dark City. Trailer after the cut. Nice gun-metal sheen to the cinematography from 2-time Oscar winner John Toll (channeling Wally Pfister, just a bit).

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close streep

[note]A guest essay written by Peter Gattlin (AD’s own ‘phantom’) looking ahead to a match that might materialize as one of the most interesting Oscar contests of 2011.[/note]

(Considering both films ‚Äì Albert Nobbs and The Iron Lady ‚Äì are unfinished at the moment, obviously I can’t comment on the actual performances or the films’ overall quality. I’m just trying to put into perspective a potential Meryl Streep-Glenn Close race.)

Although we are still very much in the 2010 race, I think it might be refreshing to stop (over)analyzing the Portman-Bening battle for a second, and take a quick look at next year’s Best Actress race, because if my early hunch rings true, it will be MUCH more fascinating than this year’s usual “hot ingenue vs. respected veteran‚Äù battle.

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The story broke yesterday that Beyonce will team up with Clint Eastwood for another remake of A Star is Born. We were slow with the uptake and much of the shock value of it is gone by now, but people keep asking me what I think the Oscar prospects are, and whether I think Beyonce is a good choice. She’s not a bad choice, I don’t think. She’s not an audibly groan-worthy choice, right? Although I guess I don’t know why they didn’t just go ahead and have Jay Z direct it. As a fan of Clint Eastwood’s movies I look forward to his take on the Hollywood myth of an older mentor being upstaged by a pretty young thing who then rules the world.

1937 — Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, 7 nominations (Actor, Actress) – 2 wins
1954 — Judy Garland and James Mason, 6 Oscar nominations (Actor, Actress) – No wins.
1976 –Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, 4 nominations, 1 win.

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Tree of Life

“Yes. In the garden, growth has it seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.” — Chance the Gardener

Yesterday’s arrival of the achingly radiant new trailer for The Tree of Life has me thinking ahead already to first promising buds of the 2011 movie season we’ll begin to see bloom as early as March. Oscar hopes spring eternal, so in the pre-dawn hush before the SAG nominations rain down upon us, I thought I’d compile a list of two dozen highly anticipated films of next year.

  • The Adventures of Tintin (Steven Spielberg)
  • Cars 2 (John Lasseter)
  • Contagion (Steven Soderbergh)
  • The Conspirator (Robert Redford)
  • A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg)
  • The Descendants (Alexander Payne)
  • Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn)
  • Farragut North (George Clooney)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher)
  • Hanna (Joe Wright)
  • Hoover (Clint Eastwood)
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Martin Scorsese)
  • Moneyball (Bennett Miller)
  • Moon Rise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)
  • On The Road (Walter Salles)
  • The Rum Diary (Bruce Robinson)
  • Source Code (Duncan Jones
  • Super 8 (J.J. Abrams)
  • Sucker Punch (Zack Snyder)
  • The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick)
  • War Horse (Steven Spielberg)
  • We Bought a Zoo (Cameron Crowe)
  • Young Adult (Jason Reitman)

What am I leaving off?¬† Aside from Super 8 there’s a lack of outstanding hard-core sci-fi for the second year running. That’s a let-down after the banner year we had in 2009. Fantasy and comic-heroes will help fill the void with 10 or 12 blockbuster money shots of popcorn porn, after the cut.

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