It’s not every actor that can steal a scene right out from under Philip Seymour Hoffman’s nose, but in The Master, Joaquin Phoenix did just that. No wonder, then, that director Paul Thomas Anderson is eager to reunite with him on his next movie. Phoenix is now in talks to join Anderson’s Thomas Pynchon adaptation Inherent Vice, replacing long-attached star Robert Downey Jr. Read more about the casting updates after the jump.

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Thomas Pynchon fans have reason to celebrate this year. The reclusive author (is Pynchon’s name ever mentioned without the word “reclusive”?) has announced the imminent publication of a new novel, for one. And his previous novel, Inherent Vice, is the subject of an adaptation effort by none less than Paul Thomas Anderson.

Pynchon’s novels have never yet been the basis for a major film, though his influence has been felt in small ways in more than a few movies in the past. Inherent Vice will be the first major film based on a Pynchon novel, and it benefits from quite a creative team. Anderson is writing, possibly with the help of Pynchon himself, and Robert Downey Jr. has long been in place as the likely choice to play the central character, burnout detective “Doc” Sportello.

And now Charlize Theron is reported as a likely addition as well. Read More »

Where to start with the big remake news of the past twenty-four hours? How about with the version of Park Chan-wook’s Sympathy for Lady Vengeance that Charlize Theron has been trying to make for so long that when it cropped up again today, many people thought it was new. The third film in Park’s “Vengeance Trilogy” features a woman released from prison after years-long confinement for a murder she didn’t commit. After her release, she sets in motion a complex revenge plan.

Back in ’08 Theron was linked to the remake as a producer, and it hasn’t gone anywhere since then. But now Annapurna Pictures (The Master, Lawless) is backing it, with William Monahan (The Departed, London Boulevard) scripting and Theron set to star. That’s a good collection of talent, and Monahan explained in a statement today, “this will be very American — and very unexpected.” There’s no director yet.

After the break, proto-slasher thriller The Town That Dreaded Sundown gets a remake. Read More »

It looks like this new Mad Max film is really happening, at long last. George Miller wrote and has planned to direct Mad Max: Fury Road, but the production has been delayed to the point where we wondered if it might evaporate in the African sun. The film has been discussed as the possible kick-off of a new trilogy, but first it has to shoot.

Stars Tom Hardy (who plays the new Mad Max) and Charlize Theron have both said shooting starts within weeks, and Theron has been spotted sporting a closely-cropped haircut, presumably for the role.

Now Fury Road has added another actor: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who made the jump from Victoria’s Secret model to actress thanks to Michael Bay and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Read More »

Briefly: Shakespeare in Love and The Debt director John Madden had a pretty good spring thanks to the $100m global take of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, but now he’s going into a new mode with a new mystery. A Murder Mystery, to be exact, as Madden will make shoot a film with that title from a script by James Vanderbilt (The Amazing Spider-Man, Zodiac).

Co-producing and in talks to star is Charlize Theron, who has her own run this summer thanks to Snow White and the Huntsman and Prometheus. The film is called an “affectionate deconstruction” of a story in the vein of Agatha Christie tales, and features “comedy, action, and mystery” as an American couple travels abroad.

I like the idea of the guy who wrote Zodiac putting together a comic take on the classic whodunnit, and I like the idea of Theron taking a moment to do a solid comic turn in the same sort of project. We’ll watch for more details on the script, and hope that Madden doesn’t keep things too fluffy. [Deadline]

The 15 Big Ideas in Prometheus

Prometheus is going to be a controversial film. As a prequel to Alien, and a “summer” movie, it has a certain suspense / horror / sci-fi pedigree that generally belies serious conversation. There’s no particular reason Prometheus should have “big” themes running through it, any more than Battleship or MIB 3 would, except for the salient fact that we believe director Ridley Scott has embedded some interesting nuggets throughout, much as he did with Blade Runner.

So what are these “big” ideas? What are the questions and themes Prometheus tackles throughout its two-hour running time? We’ll start with the easy ones, and then progress toward the more philosophical questions.

Note: Massive thematic SPOILERS follow, naturally. Read More »

Last week in London I had the opportunity to sit at a table with other journalists and interview Prometheus star Charlize Theron.

Charlize talks the evolution of the script from when she first read it to shoot, the secrecy of the production, the brilliance of working on practical sets vs. cg, the extent that Ridley Scott went to make everything feel real, gives a little bit of insight into the backstory of her character, being frightened by the unknown, deciding not to rewatch the Alien films before shooting, having fun with Fassbender in between takes on set, theories about her character, the delivery of dialogue, preparing for Mad Max: Fury Road, making big movies vs. making smaller movies,  producing tv projects with Ridley Scott and David Fincher, the attraction to do tv over films, her obsession with HBO and Game of Thrones, finding time to take a vacation, and much more.

Read the entire interview after the jump. It contains only very minor spoilers (I have made any mild spoilers invisible, you need to highlight to reveal).
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Snow White and the Huntsman leaves the most interesting character out of the title: Ravenna, the so-called evil queen who wants Snow White’s heart on a platter. In this telling, the queen is a black widow whose appetite for power is driven by a consuming fury towards all men. Charlize Theron plays Ravenna not with subtlety — nothing in this would-be blockbuster is subtle, from the insistent effects to the poop jokes — but at least a sense that Ravenna nurses a great wound in her soul.

No other character is as captivating. Ravenna is a strange, wild jewel, flawed and brilliant. She’s more than just a cookie-cutter villain, and begs to be the center of the film. If Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent can get her own movie, why can’t Ravenna?

Huntsman doesn’t seem to know what it has, however. It wants to be a fairy tale revision, an action movie, a franchise opener. Even if the movie truly was hers, the monster can’t always be the center of attention; leave the camera on the shark in Jaws and you’ve merely got a documentary. But the film’s approach to retelling the story of Snow White, and of the Huntsman who saves her and the Prince who loves her, is so fractured that all the queen’s dark power is wasted. Read More »

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