The Good Life

Friday, July 30, 2010

Studio News: Weinstein Co. and Dimension Films 2010 Fall Preview

The Weinstein Company and Dimension Films announce the complete slate of films set to be released throughout the latter half of the year.

Compiled by R. Kurt Osenlund, The Good Life film critic

October 8, 2010—limited
Directed by: Sam Taylor-Wood
Starring: Aaron Johnson, Anne-Marie Duff, Kristin Scott-Thomas, David Morrissey, David Threlfall, Thomas Brodie Sangster, Josh Bolt, Sam Bell, Ophelia Lovibond

Imagine… John Lennon's childhood. Liverpool 1955: a smart and troubled fifteen-year-old is hungry for experience. In a family full of secrets, two incredible women clash over John (Aaron Johnson, star of “Kick Ass”): Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas), the buttoned-up Aunt who raised him, and Julia (Anne-Marie Duff), the prodigal mother. Yearning for a normal family, John escapes into the new and exciting world of rock n' roll where his fledgling genius finds a kindred spirit in the teenage Paul McCartney (Thomas Brodie Sangster). Just as John begins his new life, tragedy strikes. But a resilient young man finds his voice—and an icon explodes into the world.

Outstanding British Film
Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer
Best Supporting Actress (Kristin Scott Thomas)
Best Supporting Actress (Anne-Marie Duff)

Opening: October 22, 2010 – NY/LA
October 29, 2010 - Expanding
Writer/Director: John Wells
Cast: Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, Kevin Costner, Rosemarie DeWitt, Maria Bello, Craig T. Nelson

Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck) is living the American dream: great job, beautiful family, shiny Porsche in the garage. When corporate downsizing leaves him and co-workers Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper) and Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones) jobless, the three men are forced to re-define their lives as men, husbands, and fathers.
Bobby soon finds himself enduring enthusiastic life coaching, a job building houses for his brother-in-law (Kevin Costner) which does not play to his executive skill set, and perhaps the realization that there is more to life than chasing the bigger, better deal. With humor, pathos, and keen observation, writer-director John Wells (the creator of "ER") introduces us to the new realities of American life. THE COMPANY MEN debuted at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

November 24, 2010 – Limited
Directed by: Tom Hooper
Starring: Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush, Guy Pearce, Timothy Spall

Based on the true story of the Queen of England's father and his remarkable friendship with maverick Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue THE KING’S SPEECH stars Academy Award nominee Colin Firth (A Single Man) as King George VI, who unexpectedly becomes King when his brother Edward abdicates the throne. Academy Award Winner Geoffrey Rush (Shine) stars as Logue, the man who helps the King find a voice with which to lead the nation into war. The multi-award-winning cast includes Helena Bonham Carter (Alice In Wonderland) as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Guy Pearce (The Hurt Locker), Derek Jacobi (The Golden Compass), Timothy Spall (The Damned United) and Michael Gambon (Harry Potter).

Opening: December 3, 2010 - Limited
Director: Julian Schnabel
Writer: Rula Jebreal (based on her novel)
Cast: Frieda Pinto, Hiam Abbass, Willem Defoe, Vanessa Redgrave

From Julian Schnabel, director of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Before Night Falls and Basquiat, comes MIRAL, the visceral, first-person diary of a young girl growing up in East Jerusalem as she confronts the effects of occupation and war in every corner of her life. Schnabel pieces together momentary fragments of Miral’s world – how she was formed, who influenced her, all that she experiences in her tumultuous early years – to create a raw, moving, poetic portrait of a woman whose small, personal story is inextricably woven into the bigger history unfolding all around her.

December 31, 2010 – Limited
Directed by: Derek Cianfrance
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Mike Vogel, John Doman, Faith Wladyka

BLUE VALENTINE is the story of love found and love lost told in past and present moments in time. Flooded with romantic memories of their courtship, Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) use one night to try and save their marriage. BLUE VALENTINE debuted at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

Opening: TBD 2010
Directed by: Daniél Espinosa
Writer: Maria Karlsson

JW is a poor student who lives a double life within the wealthy Stockholm elite. He falls in love with an upper class girl and is soon lured into a world of crime. Jorge is a fugitive on the run from the police and the Yugoslavian mafia. His plan: import a massive cargo of coke and then disappear for good. Yugoslavian hitman Mrado is trying hard to find Jorge but his criminal life takes a turn when he is forced to take care of his young daughter. While JW starts a journey into the dark world of organized crime, he brings together the fate of all to a struggle of life and death. Easy Money is a Swedish crime thriller based on the International best-selling book Snabba Cash by Jens Lapidus. The book is the first installment in Jens Lapidus’ Stockholm Noir Trilogy.

Opening: TBD 2010
Directed by: Chao-Bin Su
John Woo
Writer: Chao-Bin Su

A skilled assassin finds herself on a quest to carry the mystical remnants of a Buddhist monk through China. A team of deadly assassins follow her, placing her in a fight for her life as she attempts to put the power-wielding secret of the monk to rest.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


The newest trailers for some of the most noteworthy upcoming flicks.

By R. Kurt Osenlund, The Good Life film critic

Sofia Coppola, who before Kathryn Bigelow was the first American woman to receive Best Picture and Best Director Oscar nods (for "Lost in Translation"), follows up her 2006 confection "Marie Antoinette" with another stylish drama, about a Hollywood actor (Stephen Dorff) and his relationship with his daughter (Elle Fanning).

I like Coppola's offbeat casting (Who even thinks about Stephen Dorff anymore?), and I love her imagery and worldliness. Much of "Somewhere" takes place at West Hollywood's Chateua Marmont, which the director makes appear as if it's in another country, expanding her cool instinct for enticing locales. This looks to be an intimate, artful story, and Coppola has more than announced herself as a filmmaker whose every project, for cinephiles anyway, is an event.

Speaking of directors whose films are events, green-screen king Zack Snyder ("300," "Watchmen") will return in March with "Sucker Punch," an all-girl ass-kicking fantasy that continues our current fascination with alternate, dream-based realities. The first trailer debuted at this year's San Diego Comic-Con:

I hated "300," but I loved "Watchmen," as well as Snyder's freshman effort, "Dawn of the Dead." He's a superb stylist. With Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, and that chick from "Lemony Snicket," "Sucker Punch" looks like it will be among Snyder's better titles, with the limits nowhere in sight given the dreamscape setting. What's it all about? I'm not entirely sure. But it looks pretty damn cool.

The Facebook movie, directed by David Fincher.

I think this is really exciting. Set to open the New York Film Festival, "The Social Network" is so terribly current; it stimulates you not because it's about a hot-button topic, but a topic that's an integral part of the everyday lives of most people. At this point, it's like making a film about lunch, or peeing -- everybody does it, yesterday, today, tomorrow. Only lunch and peeing aren't nearly as fascinating or fun.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


By R. Kurt Osenlund, The Good Life film critic

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (center) in "Inception."

When referring to the lean, dark-featured actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, many people will still remind you, "he's that kid from '3rd Rock from the Sun'!" Don't ever ask those people for film recommendations. Gordon-Levitt has done a great many things since leaving NBC's interstellar comedy, including taking time off to feed his thinker at Columbia University, and subsequently building an extremely impressive indie resume.

Gordon-Levitt's enduringly boyish looks are often misleading, suggesting he wouldn't be able to carry off serious drama, but the 29-year-old has repeatedly proven himself a true artiste with award-worthy turns in such excellent indies as "Mysterious Skin," in which he portrayed a gay hustler, "Brick," a modern noir that cast him as a young Bogart-type, and "The Lookout," a heist film to which he brought vulnerability and gravitas.

Not that he can't lighten up. Last year, Gordon-Levitt charmed the pants off of audiences (and co-star Zooey Deschanel) in "(500) Days of Summer," an uncommonly zestful romantic comedy that displayed the actor's better-than-ever instincts for comedic timing and dramatic weight. The role earned him Best Actor nominations at the Golden Globe Awards and the Independent Spirit Awards.

Now, of course, Gordon-Levitt can be seen in Christopher Nolan's dreamscape thriller "Inception," one of the year's best films. Opposite lead star Leonardo DiCaprio, Gordon-Levitt portrays Arthur, a savvy henchman skilled in the art of navigating dreams to obtain valuable secrets. If Gordon-Levitt was once an indie king, it now seems he's also a blockbuster prince, channeling that attractive charm and dramatic instinct into what amounts to an invaluable screen presence. In "Inception," he's terrific in both physicality and acting ability, and he's a standout in a remarkable cast.

Watch the trailer for "Inception," and by God, go see it...

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Brief capsules on new movies worth renting.

By R. Kurt Osenlund, The Good Life film critic


Academy Award nominee Colin Firth gives the performance of his career in this stylish, widely acclaimed directorial debut of famed fashion designer Tom Ford. Set in Los Angeles in 1962 (and draped in the fab styles of the era), the film depicts a single day in the crushed life of George (Firth), a gay British professor considereing suicide after the death of his lover. In her Golden Globe-nominated performance, Julianne Moore portrays George's longtime bestie, Charley, an aging socialite clinging to her decadent past. (Available Now)


Fans were so enamored with the blasted "Twilight Saga" that many of them missed the much better film to come out this year starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning. Stewart is Joan Jett and Fanning is Cherie Currie in this behind-the-music rock drama about the rise of the titular 1970s girl group, which was groundbreaking in its day. Fanning handily steals the show with the best performance of her still-blooming career, and Oscar nominee Michael Shannon ("Revolutionary Road") practically breathes fire as the band's volatile manager. Music video vet Floria Sigismondi directs with a stylish, fiercely feminine POV. (Available July 20)


Philly native Don Argott daringly casts a dark cloud over his hometown with "The Art of the Steal," the gifted documentarian's illuminating assessment of the battle over the world-renowned Barnes Foundation art, which is set to be moved to a spot on the Ben Franklin Parkway in 2012. Framed like a heist movie, the suspenseful doc points the finger at a handful of Philly power players, indicting them for breaking founder Dr. Albert Barnes's will and turning his institution into just another money-hungry tourist attraction. The result is as fascinating as it is infuriating. (Available July 27)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Behold! The latest trailers for some of the most noteworthy upcoming flicks.

By R. Kurt Osenlund, The Good Life film critic

More shaky-cam spooks from the folks who brought you last year's viral, night-vision phenomenon.

Meh. I suppose a sequel to this movie was inevitable (and I'll admit that "Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2," a similar inevitability, is one of my fave guilty pleasures), but you know the phenomena of the original simply cannot be replicated, so it's a disappointment from the get-go. The teaser proves this baby is still in pre-pre-production stages, since all we get are a few generic still shots. Keep an eye out for more trailers, which I'm sure promise more static, more night vision and more ominous sounds.

Greg (Ben Stiller), Jack (Robert DeNiro) and the rest of the fam are back, this time with wee ones.

I find it funny (and maybe a little sad) that what I guess we can now call the "Focker" franchise is, or at least considers itself, such a prominent and important part of the showbiz universe. After repeat viweings, "Meet the Parents" finally grew on me, but in general, these films are rather obnoxious, and what they really represent is the strange trip south DeNiro's career has taken. But anyway, about the trailer -- how does it correspond with the title? Simply because Greg and Pam had children? We only see them once. These movies are about Greg and Jack. Why not stick them on a desert island and see what happens? Wait, no, don't do that.

Everyone's favorite boy wizard faces down Lord Voldemort once and for all in the two-part conclusion of this modest little franchise. ;-)

It took last year's dark and beautiful "Half-Blood Prince" to really get me excited for this "movie event of a generation." As part of my need to be hip to all things pop culture, I made a friend explain to me the entire ending when J.K. Rowling's seventh and final "HP" tome hit shelves a few years back. My first response was, "sounds like it will make a great movie." Though I find the trailer to be a little dialed-down (impress me! impress me!), after watching it, I still hold to that sentiment.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Studio News: Andrew Garfield cast as Peter Parker in new 'Spider-Man'

Columbia Pictures announces the rising star will don the Spidey suit for the popular franchise's latest installment, slated for summer 2012.

Compiled by R. Kurt Osenlund, The Good Life film critic

FROM COLUMBIA PICTURES: After a comprehensive worldwide casting search, Andrew Garfield has been chosen to portray Peter Parker when Spider-Man swings back onto the screen in 3D on July 3, 2012. The new film will begin production in early December directed by Marc Webb from a screenplay by James Vanderbilt. Laura Ziskin and Avi Arad will produce the film from Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios.

Today’s confirmation culminates what has been one of the most eagerly anticipated casting announcements in recent memory. Bloggers, pop culture speculators, and everyday fans have pored over and analyzed every conceivable online rumor in an attempt to discover the identity of the next actor to play Peter Parker. Garfield will immediately begin preparing for the coveted role.

The Spider-Man franchise is one of the most successful in film history and the three previous motion pictures have collectively grossed more than $2.5 billion in worldwide box office.

On selecting Garfield, director Marc Webb said, “Though his name may be new to many, those who know this young actor’s work understand his extraordinary talents. He has a rare combination of intelligence, wit, and humanity. Mark my words, you will love Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker.”

Commenting on the announcement, Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Matt Tolmach, President of Columbia Pictures said, “Spider-Man is a classic superhero -- a young man who balances his responsibility to serve humanity and crush evil with the shyness and normalcy of someone struggling to find himself. The role demands an extraordinary actor. You need someone who can magically transform himself from Peter Parker into Spider-Man. An actor who will depict the vulnerability of youth and the strength and confidence of a legendary figure at the same moment. We have found that actor in Andrew Garfield. From the first time we saw him in the upcoming film The Social Network, to his glorious screen test, which floored all of us, we knew that we had found our new Peter Parker.”

Producer Avi Arad added, “I’m incredibly excited about Andrew Garfield. In the Spider-Man tradition, we were looking for a smart, sensitive, and cool new Peter Parker who can inspire us and make us laugh, cry, and cheer. We believe we have found the perfect choice to take on this role and lead us into the future.”

Producer Laura Ziskin said, “We are thrilled to have Andrew Garfield for this new incarnation of Spider-Man under Marc Webb’s direction. We were fortunate enough to meet with a group of fantastically talented young men. In the end, we all agreed that in addition to being an extraordinary actor, Andrew had the right mix of humor, youth, and pathos, along with an underlying sense of strength and power necessary to bring Peter Parker and Spider-Man to life on screen.”

The selection of Garfield was revealed at a press event in Cancun, Mexico for international journalists attending a media tour promoting upcoming films from Sony Pictures Entertainment. B-roll footage of the announcement will be available via satellite later this evening -- see uplink times coordinate information below.

Garfield is fast becoming one of the most respected and sought-after young actors working in the industry today. In a short career, spanning only five years, he has already been directed by, and starred alongside, some of the greatest names and received a BAFTA for a role that won him international praise.

Garfield most recently worked with director David Fincher on the upcoming film The Social Network. He previously starred for Spike Jonze on his robot love story I’m Here, which premiered at Sundance this year. He plays the lead male opposite Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan in Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go, due for release later this year.

Other notable screen credits include Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus playing opposite Christopher Plummer, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Jude Law and the late Heath Ledger, Robert Redford’s Lions For Lambs, where he starred alongside Redford, Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep; Revolution Films’ “Red Riding Trilogy – 1974” directed by Julian Jarrold, where he lead a stellar cast including Rebecca Hall and David Morrissey, and his unforgettable portrayal of a young ex-con in John Crowley’s “Boy A,” for which he earned the best actor BAFTA in 2008.

Garfield’s career began in theatre and in 2006 his performances in “Beautiful Thing” (Sound Space/Kit Productions), “The Overwhelming,” and “Burn / Chatroom / Citizenship” (Royal National Theatre) won him the Milton Shulman Award for Outstanding Newcomer at the Evening Standard awards and the Jack Tinker Award for Most Promising Newcomer at the Critics Circle Theatre Awards. Other notable theatre credits include “Romeo and Juliet” (Manchester Royal Exchange) and “Kes” (Manchester Royal Exchange), for which he received the Most Promising Newcomer Award at the Manchester Evening News Awards 2004.

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