One Oscar nomination and Demian Bichir is everywhere. After getting a surprise, but well deserved, Best Actor nomination earlier this year for his work in A Better Life, the actor is beginning to line up quite an impressive list of projects. He just completed Oliver Stone’s Savages, appeared on Showtime’s Weeds and he’s just been cast in Robert Rodriguez‘s Machete Kills and William Friedkin‘s Trapped. Variety, who broke the news of this casting, also reveals that J.J. Abrams was at one point interested in casting the actor as the villain in Star Trek 2 but Bichir had to pass because of a scheduling conflict. Read more about all of this after the jump. Read More »

Yesterday we saw the first bit of footage from Oliver Stone‘s new film Savages, in which the girlfriend (Blake Lively)of two pot growers (Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch) is kidnapped by a Mexican drug cartel, the better to get said growers to work for the bigger outfit.

The film features the sort of cast you’d expect to see Stone pull together: in addition to the leads there are Benicio Del Toro, Uma Thurman, John Travolta, Demian Bichir, Salma Hayek, Joel David Moore and Emile Hirsch, and it is shot in a style reminiscent of a few of his lurid ’90s entries such as U-Turn and Natural Born Killers. (Speaking of ’90s films, is Salma Hayek cosplaying as Thurman’s Pulp Fiction character Mia Wallace?)

Now we’ve got the full trailer, which sets up the story, offers a little bit of sex and violence, and shoves a knife through John Travolta. Check it out below. Read More »

Think back to the Oliver Stone films of the 1990s. Not so much JFK and Nixon; more like U-Turn, Natural Born Killers and Any Given Sunday. Those films had a stylized, hyper-saturated color palette that clearly gave Tony Scott some ideas. For instance, on U-Turn, Stone’s cinematographer Robert Richardson shot on reversal film stock — which becomes a transparent positive when developed, rather than a traditional negative — and then cross-processed it as negative film, increasing contrast and color saturation. Tony Scott and Daniel Mindel used the same technique for Domino almost a decade later.

Point is, Stone seems to have gone back to that exaggerated look for his new film Savages, which adapts Don Winslow‘s novel about two small-time pot dealers (Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch) whose mutual girlfriend (Blake Lively) is kidnapped in an attempt to strong-arm them into working with a Mexican drug cartel, which counts Salma Hayek and Benicio Del Toro amongst its members. John Travolta is also in the film; Stone borrowed him from Tony Scott.

If you saw the first poster for the film when Pete ran it in Page 2 yesterday you’ll know something about the look Stone is going for. But now there is a brief montage of footage showing off that stylish, colorful look the director first relied on almost 20 years ago. I have to say, I like it quite a bit. Read More »

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.