Good news for those eager to find out exactly why Benicio del Toro is picking on Blake Lively in that first image from Savages: Universal has just shifted the opening date for Oliver Stone‘s latest from September 28 to July 6. Savages is the only film currently scheduled to go up against Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man, which hits three days before on Tuesday, July 3. It’s a bold move on the studio’s part, but it may also be a smart one — Savages could be ideal counter-programming to the comedies, actioners, and superhero flicks due out around the same time this summer.

Based on a book by Don Winslow, Savages stars Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson as a pair of small-time pot dealers who get roped into working for a Mexican cartel that kidnaps their shared girlfriend (Lively). The impressive cast also includes Uma Thurman, Salma Hayek, John Travolta, Demián Bichir, and Emile Hirsch.

After the jump, new release dates for Clint Eastwood’s Trouble With the Curve, Drafthouse Films’ The FP, and lesser known Oscar nominees Bullhead (also from Drafthouse Films) and Chico & Rita.

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From Weeds to weed — Demian Bichir is making the move into Oliver Stone‘s world. The director is making Savages, based on the book by Don Winslow. He already has quite the cast lined up: Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson play up and coming pot dealers coerced into working for a drug cartel when their girlfriend O (Blake Lively) is kidnapped. John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Emile Hirsch, Salma Hayek and Benicio Del Toro are all in the cast, and now Demian Bichir has signed on, too. Read More »

Watching the trailer for A Better Life, you’d never guess it’s from Chris Weitz, the director of American Pie, The Golden Compass, About a Boy and The Twilight Saga: New Moon. There’s no big concept here, it’s a small film full of unknowns about an illegal immigrant in Los Angeles working hard to make a better life for his son. Check out the moving trailer, see the poster, images and read more about the movie after the break. A Better Life will be released June 24. Read More »

After college, I kicked it around downtown Miami for a bit. While the city never became the new hipster mecca to replace Brooklyn as the, uh, booming condo industry promised, I did become aware that Fidel Castro has died approximately 1,000 times and that the locals like to celebrate each time like it’s the last time. I’m not sure any man’s exaggerated death has ever caused so much happy yelling and dancing in the streets. I parlay my awe because a few interesting images of Castro from Steven Soderbergh‘s ambitious pair of 2008 films about Che Guevara, The Argentine and Guerilla, have floated over to Ain’t It Cool.

Castro is being played by Mexican actor Demian Bichir, whose prior work I’m not familiar with. He replaced the great Javier Bardem after the project was delayed and definitely looks the part of a determined, intelligent revolutionary who would forever alter history from the depths of the jungle. Che is being played in both films by Benecio Del Toro, in what is clearly being mounted as a powerhouse performance. There’s the chance that by the time these films roll around, Castro will be no more, as he’s issued uncharacteristic messages of late about the transition of power in Cuba. But as a fan of Hollywood, his showbiz pals include Jack Nicholson and Oliver Stone, I’m sure he’s aware of the $70 million project and can get a private screening upon request.

With 2008 a landmark year for American politics and a world in turmoil amid revolutions, upheavals and violence, we can look forward to some serious heavy-lifting political biopics, with Soderbergh and Spielberg leading the charge. So, be sure to have a monocle, a brandy snifter and a good cigar on standby this year like you’re Colonel Mustard or something.