Diner Live Read Header

Usually when I go to a Live Read, I know the movie like the back of my hand. Ghostbusters, Pulp Fiction, The Usual Suspects, American Beauty, these are all movies I’ve seen dozens of times and know backwards and forwards. However, the November reading was a film I’d never seen until this week: Barry Levinson‘s Diner. It totally deserves to be mentioned among those films, but it somehow fell through the cracks in my years as a film fan. It’s as timeless, funny and poignant as any movie I’ve ever seen.

Watching the film, I began to worry about the Live Read. Sure this was a movie with dynamic characters based on a razor sharp script, but Levinson’s film also created such a perfect atmosphere. The movie was 1959 Baltimore, from the weather to the locations, outfits and the music. Oh, the music. Diner is a jukebox full of awesome tunes and the Live Reads don’t play music during the read. Was it going to work out?

Presenter and director Jason Reitman had an answer for that. To make the script move at a clip worthy of its amazing original cast, and to make the audience forget there was no music or settings to enhance it, he’d need actors who are incredibly familiar with each other. Actors with an ability to deliver filthy dialogue very fast, have perfect chemistry, talk a ton of crap and dish about football. How about the cast of FXX’s The League?

Yes, almost the entire cast of The League read Barry Levinson’s Diner at latest Jason Reitman Live Read, presented Film Independent at LACMA. Below, read what the cast brought to the script and what the script revealed about itself.  Read More »

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Humbling trailer

Al Pacino shows up in two big festival films this year: David Gordon Green’s Manglehorn, and The Humbling from Barry Levinson. Here’s a first The Humbling trailer, in which Pacino plays an aging actor who embarks upon an affair with a younger woman (Greta Gerwig) after he has a minor breakdown. OK, maybe not such a minor one.

If that sounds like it should really be Woody Allen material, keep in mind that the film is an adaptation of the novel by Philip Roth, who could almost be considered Allen’s literary twin. Pacino picked up rights to the novel, reunited with Levinson, his You Don’t Know Jack director, and got Buck Henry and Michal Zebede to script. Check out Pacino in the first The Humbling trailer below. Read More »

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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