Having made their marks in front of the camera, two acclaimed actresses are getting ready to step behind the scenes.

Melissa McCarthy is teaming with her husband Ben Falcone (a.k.a. Air Marshal Jon in Bridesmaids) to direct the road trip comedy Tammy, which the pair also co-wrote and in which McCarthy will star. Meanwhile, Ellen Page is prepping her directorial debut Miss Stevens, with Anna Faris in the lead role. Hit the jump to keep reading.

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How about we take a quick break from Sundance and Star Wars for some good old fashioned superhero casting, okay? Director Bryan Singer has revealed that Anna Paquin, Ellen Page and Shawn Ashmore have been cast in X-Men: Days of Future Past, 2014′s follow up to X-Men: First Class.

Paquin, Page and Ashmore are all series veteran, most recently appearing in Brett Ratner’s X-Men The Last Stand as Rogue, Kitty Pride and Iceman, respectively. They’ll join Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen as returning characters along with First Class cast members James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and more. There’s more below. Read More »

The Sundance Film Festival has treated Brit Marling exceptionally well over the past few years. She was the big breakout story of the 2011 event, with the one-two punch of Mike Cahill’s Another Earth and Zal Batmanglij‘s The Sound of My Voice, and she got to return in 2012 with Nicholas Jarecki‘s Arbitrage. This year, she’s back once again with Batmanglij for The East, a thriller about a shadowy anarchist collective (called The East, hence the title) and a private intelligence operative (Marling) who goes undercover to stop it. The first trailer has just hit the web, and you can watch it after the jump.

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2011 saw one of the greatest successes of Woody Allen‘s career, as his film Midnight in Paris did great business on the US arthouse circuit and worldwide, eventually raking in nearly $150m globally. There was also that little matter of winning an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

Now Allen returns with To Rome With Love, a vignette-based romantic comedy with most of the action falling into a very familiar Allen mode. (It’s a welcome returns, with lines like “the kid’s a communist, the father’s a mortician… does the mother run a leper colony?”)

The cast features Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, Ellen Page, Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz, Roberto Benigni (of whom we haven’t seen much in some time), Judy Davis and Woody Allen himself, who hasn’t been in front of the camera since the 2006 release Scoop. The action places that cast in various minor romantic and comic entanglements that all look a bit fluffy, and very entertaining.

Check out the trailer below. Read More »

Briefly: 2011 was a great year for Woody Allen. His playful, entertaining film Midnight in Paris turned into the year’s runaway arthouse hit, taking in $60m to become Allen’s greatest domestic success. Sony Classics has distributed the director’s last few films and after their stellar success with Midnight in Paris, I think it has been pretty much a foregone conclusion that his next movie, Nero Fiddled, would go out via the company as well.

Variety reports that deal has been set, with Sony Classics picking up North American and UK rights to the film, which stars Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penelope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig and Ellen Page. As is typically the case with a new Allen film we don’t know much about the plot — all we’ve got is that the Rome-set film “consists of four separate vignettes — two with American characters, two with Italian characters — but the vignettes never intersect.”

The film will get a summer 2012 release, and is a likely bet for a Cannes debut.

Nicole Kidman‘s Blossom Films and Olympus Films have teamed up to acquire the movie rights for Kevin Wilson‘s bestselling book The Family Fang, which they plan to develop as a starring vehicle for Kidman. The two companies previously collaborated on Rabbit Hole, for which Kidman received a Best Actress Oscar nomination.

Wilson’s debut novel centers around a couple of performance artists who regularly incorporate their unwilling children into their bizarre acts. Years later, misfortune prompts the now-grown son and daughter to return home, where they find their parents gearing up for one final masterpiece. [Deadline]

After the jump, New Line pulls together an intriguing shortlist for Burt Wonderstone‘s female lead, and The East‘s terrorist organization gets one more member.

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Woody Allen Renames Upcoming Film ‘Nero Fiddled’

This past summer, Woody Allen enjoyed the unexpected success of his film Midnight in Paris, which has been going strong in arthouses since May with over $100m earned worldwide. He also shot a new film in Rome, and for quite some time he was planning to call the movie Bop Decameron. There’s a lot to like about that title — it’s very Woody Allen, and even a good bit more jaunty than most of his titles. But it isn’t the sort of title that will keep a movie on screens for six months. Midnight in Paris sounds romantic and enticing. Bop Decameron sounds like… well, I imagine Woody realized a lot of people might not know what it sounds like.

So the film is now called Nero Fiddled. Not as jaunty or romantic, but at least people will know what he’s talking about. I hope. Read More »

The more people get cast in Zal Batmanglij‘s The East, the more interesting it sounds. The latest addition is the always excellent Patricia Clarkson, who’ll play the boss of co-writer and star Brit Marling.

The thriller revolves around an agent (Marling) from a private security firm who is tasked with infiltrating a terrorist group called The East. Once she’s in, however, she finds herself falling for the group’s leader, probably because he looks exactly like Alexander Skarsgard. Other recent additions to the cast have been Ellen Page as Skarsgard’s ex and another member of the organization, and Toby Kebbell as a doctor who takes a tainted drug and develops Parkinson’s-like symptoms. [The Playlist]

After the jump, Octavia Spencer goes to Vegas and Michael Angarano goes home.

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