I talked a bit about The Oranges just the other day — that’s the indie that will put Hugh Laurie back on the big screen in a May-September romance with Leighton Meester. When I mentioned the film last week Catherine Keener was noted as being in the mix as the mother of Meester’s character. Now we’ve got a couple more names, and the cast as a whole is staring to look pretty good. Read More »


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I’m excited about the upcoming version of Mildred Pierce to be directed by Todd Haynes. Already set to star Kate Winslet in the title role, the HBO mini-series has just added a couple more good names: Guy Pearce and Evan Rachel Wood. Sure, Wood’s career has been spotty, but there’s something that suggests she can do a lot more than what we’ve seen her manage recently. I really liked her in Woody Allen’s Whatever Works, for example.

The obvious guess is that Pearce will play the husband from whom Mildred Pierce splits and that Wood will play their daughter. But that’s unconfirmed for now. [Production Weekly]

After the break, it’s buddy comedy time again, and the Hugh Laurie/Catherine Keener indie gets another cast member. Read More »

Sundance Video Review: Cyrus

The Duplass Brothers' Cyrus

Last night I attended the premiere of what I’m calling The Duplass Brothers‘ experiment, better known as Cyrus. The film is a comedy about a recently divorced depressed guy who meets the woman of his dreams, who he learns lives with her 21 year old son. The film stars John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei, Jonah Hill, and Catherine Keener.

The Duplass Brothers helped spark an indie film movement called mumblecore, which wikipedia defines as “primarily characterized by ultra-low budget production (often employing digital video cameras), focus on personal relationships between twenty-somethings, improvised scripts, and non-professional actors.” The Duplass Brothers have impressed Hollywood with their low-budget efforts, and this is their first studio film, with big mainstream actors. Hence why I termed it The Duplass Brothers’ experiment.

But does it work?  Cyrus is one of my favorite films of the festival thus far, and I’d venture to say John C Reilly’s funniest performance since Boogie Nights. It’s probably the most laughs I’ve heard in a Sundance movie in a couple years. We sat a few rows in front of Danny McBride and Jody Hill (director of Observe & Report), and I could hear both of them laughing throughout.  After the jump you can watch a video blog review which includes me (Peter Sciretta), David Chen and FirstShowing‘s Brandon Tenney.

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The Duplass Brothers' Cyrus

We’ve been writing about Cyrus, the new film from the Duplass Brothers, for a while — it was announced last year, shot quickly and is now at Sundance. And until about halfway through this trailer I’d completely forgotten that Jonah Hill was in the film. Then, when he shows up, after just a couple of lines I was floored. Hill looks great in this. Granted, he’s got impressive actors to play against (John C. Reilly and Marisa Tomei) but this might be the film that changes how he’s perceived. Check it out and see if you agree.  Read More »

Sundance Photo Preview: The Duplass Brothers’ Cyrus

The Duplass Brothers' Cyrus

After watching The Duplass BrothersThe Puffy Chair at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival I remember telling a friend “this is what real independent filmmaking is all about.” The film helped spark an indie film movement called mumblecore, and the brothers have since gone a bit more mainstream, working within the Hollywood system (kinda, sorta… this film for instance features an “upgraded” cast). They return to Sundance with their latest film Cyrus, which will screen in the Premieres category. The film is a comedy about a recently divorced guy meets the woman of his dreams. But then he meets her son who is, well… interesting.

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It appears that David Schwimmer is leaving the comedy genre for his latest directorial project, Trust, a dark drama starring Clive Owen and Catherine Keener. (And yes, typing out that last sentence did seem a bit trippy.) Owen and Keener will play parents who are shocked to learn that their teenage daughter (played by Liana Liberato) has been victimized by a sexual predator who she met in an online chat room. The film will explore the impact of that event on their family life.

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Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman has described his directorial debut Synecdoche, New York as his version of a horror movie. It’s a film about death, and man’s fear of mortality. I had the chance to se the film in Toronto, and I’m still unsure of what I saw. It is either brilliant or completely insane. It’s the type of movie that requires repeat viewings to understand the many layers of complexity. But it’s also one of those type of movies that is very dark and depressing in tone, so you might not be as inclined to see it the required amount of times. It’s also one of those movies that grows on you with time. The more I think about it, the more I want to see it again. I rarely give props to Sony Pictures Classics, but this is an extremely well cut trailer. Check it out and tell me what you think in the comments below!

Official Plot Synopsis: Synecdoche, New York explores nightmares that are all too realistic and human. Its hero, Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a 40-year-old local theater director in Schenectady whose life is collapsing around him. His marriage to his artist wife Adele (Catherine Keener) is on its last legs while at the same time he is stricken with a series of increasingly catastrophic illnesses. He is afraid he will die any moment having never accomplished anything important in his life. When he receives a MacArthur Grant, he decides to use the windfall to stage a massive theater piece in NYC, determined to create The Great Piece of Art and leave something as true, honest and heartbreaking as life itself. It’s one of those rare films that deals with death, excruciating illness, gross bodily fluids, despair, heartbreak and bad sex but can still bring a twinkle to the eye.

You can watch the trailer in High Definition on Yahoo. Synecdoche, New York hits theaters on October 24th 2008.


Somebody up there really likes us, because this glorious day brings not one, not eight, but two new posters for upcoming Robert De Niro flicks. First is Righteous Kill, the serial killer thriller starring Al Pacino and De Niro as no-nonsense cops who squat over crime scenes and directed by the guy who forever lives with directing Pacino’s worst film ever, 88 Minutes (and probably the worst De Niro/Pacino movie ever). Wow, this hot cake doesn’t open until September? Oy vey.


More promising is director Barry Levinson‘s What Just Happened, which currently has an 8.0 on IMDB from 200+ votes, albeit probably from industry people who quote industry movies like The Player and Hurlyburly. Judging from the poster, you might think the film is about a suit’s wild getaway in Daytona Beach, but De Niro stars as a past-his-prime Hollywood producer struggling to get a new film in the can (bucket?). Nice cast: Bruce Willis, Stanley Tucci, John Turturro, Sean Penn, Catherine Keener, Robin Wright Penn and veteran Michael Wincott. If you like the sound of knowing guffaws, go see it in L.A. on October 3rd.

Discuss: Stay calm.

Synecdoche, New York

Cannes2008 has released thre first three clips from screenwriter Charlie Kaufman‘s (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation., Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind) directorial debut Synecdoche, New York. The three clips don’t reveal much. The first screening of the film happened at Cannes on Saturday. Anne Thompson writes that those who have seen it describe the movie as “ambitious, arty and brilliant, if not entirely accessible.” Others have said that like Eternal Sunshine, Synecdoche stays with you for a few days.

Synecdoche, New York
stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as a theater director named Caden Cotard, whose life in Schenectady, New York is looking bleak. His wife Adele has left him to pursue her painting in Berlin, taking their young daughter Olive with her. A new relationship with the alluringly candid Hazel has prematurely run aground. And a mysterious condition is systematically shutting down each of his body’s autonomic functions. Worried about the transience of his life, he moves his theater company to a warehouse in New York City. He directs them in a celebration of the mundane, instructing each to live out their constructed lives in a growing mockup of the city outside. Catherine Keener, Michelle Williams, Samantha Morton and Tilda Swinton co-star.

Kaufman described the film to the hollywood reporter: “it’s about people’s losses and death and fear of death and intimacy and relationships. Romance and regret and struggle and ego and jealousy and confusion and loneliness and sex and loss — all those things are in the movie. I wanted it to be an all-inclusive experience of a person’s life. It’s this guy’s world.”

Check out the three video clips after the jump.

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