Shia LaBeouf

So much for retirement. Just three weeks after his dramatic announcement that he would “#stopcreating” in the wake of the Daniel Clowes plagiarism scandal, Shia LaBeouf has booked a new movie.

LaBeouf has just joined Bill Murray in Barry Levinson‘s Rock the Kasbah, along with Bruce Willis, Kate Hudson, Danny McBride, and Zooey Deschanel. The indie comedy follows a music manager in Kabul. Hit the jump for more details.

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Bill Murray

This time, the Sharif does like it. Bill Murray has just signed on to star in Rock the Kasbah, directed by Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson. In the film, Murray will play a older music manager who stumbles a talented young singer in Afghanistan and angles for her to win an American Idol type competition show. Mitch Glazer, who wrote the classic Murray vehicle Scrooged, penned the script. Read More »

Johnny Depp Bails on ‘Black Mass’

depp-fear-loathing

The film Black Mass, which is meant to tell the story of high-profile Massachusettes gangster Whitey Bulger, would have been a Donnie Brasco reunion of sorts, but the idea of Johnny Depp playing Bulger seemed a little weird. Now it isn’t happening.

Black Mass is to be directed by Donnie Brasco producer Barry Levinson, based on Dick Lehr and Gerald O’Neill’s 2001 book Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob. But now Depp has pulled out of the project, after sluggish pre-sales at Cannes led producers to ask the actor to reduce his $20m quote.

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One of the most popular and in-demand actors in Hollywood has just scheduled the rest of his year, with one glaring omission. Johnny Depp will now officially star in Transendence, the mysterious sci-fi directorial debut of Wally Pfister, best known for his work with Christopher Nolan. From there he’ll star in Barry Levinson‘s Black Mass, a true-crime drama. He was previously rumored for both roles.

Transcendence shoots in April, Black Mass will shoot over the summer, and with a healthy dose of press for his new film, The Lone Ranger, peppered in, Depp is going to be a very busy man. One film not mentioned in his upcoming slate is Pirates of the Caribbean 5, a film that’s been given a July 2015 release date by Disney and has been in its script stage for some time. With Depp’s schedule all but booked for the next nine months or so, it seems unlikely that movie could shoot until next year. Read more about all the projects below. Read More »

Regional crime boss James Joseph “Whitey” Bulger has a curiously strong hold on the imaginations of filmmakers. As one of the last of a largely bygone generation of gangsters, Bulger has become an inspiration for those looking to create screen villains — Jack Nicholson’s character in The Departed, for example, was based on Bulger. So was Pete Postlethwaite’s character in The Town.

The Boston-area criminal has captured the interest of Boston-area filmmakers Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as well, and the two have planned a Bulger film for a couple years now. Looks like the will be beat to the punch, however, by Barry Levinson. The director is attached to Black Mass, a film based on Dick Lehr and Gerald O’Neill’s 2001 book Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob.

Now Levinson has landed Johnny Depp — star of the Levinson-produced crime film Donnie Brasco — to play Bulger. That gives Black Mass serious momentum. Read More »

The world doesn’t necessarily need another found-footage horror film, but Barry Levinson‘s well-crafted The Bay reminds us why there are so many of them to begin with. The format does precisely what it’s supposed to here, ramping up the dread through the illusion of reality. Combine that with Levinson’s commitment to (relative) plausibility and incisive understanding of human nature, and we’re left with an eco-horror film whose scares linger long after the credits roll.

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It’s July 4 and a coastal playground in the Northeastern US is under attack from something that comes from the water. Familiar as that premise sounds to Jaws fans, this is something different. The Bay is from Barry Levinson (Wag the Dog, Rain Man) and is a found-footage assembly that looks at what happens when pollution-mutated parasites start burrowing into people.

This is like a grand found-footage mash-up, featuring viral horror, zombie-like aftereffects, and an obvious updated influence from Jaws, in at least the film’s first act. Check out the trailer below. Read More »

Barry Levinson, director of the baseball classic The Natural, is about to return to the diamond once more. The filmmaker is set to direct a biopic of legendary sports star Hank Aaron, based on the Howard Bryant tome The Last Hero: The Life Story of Henry Aaron. Adam Mazer, who previously penned Levinson’s You Don’t Know Jack, will provide the script.

The new film will follow Aaron’s quest to defeat Babe Ruth’s home run record, which he ultimately did on April 8, 1974 with his 715th home run. (Aaron’s own record was eventually eclipsed by Barry Bonds in 2007.) Casting for the film is expected to get underway shortly.

Perhaps spurred on by the success of last year’s Moneyball, baseball movies seem to be cropping up all over the place as of late. In addition to the Aaron biopic, there’s also Brian Helgeland’s Jackie Robinson tale 42 and Robert Lorenz’ Trouble with the Curve. [Variety]

After the jump, MacGruber director Jorma Taccone lands another action comedy.

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