With the Toronto Film Festival set to get into full swing Thursday, we’ve already begun to see trailers and clips from all sorts of interesting independent releases. The latest is Twice Born, directed by Sergio Castellitto based on a novel by Margaret Mazzantini. Penelope Cruz stars as a mother who brings her 16-year-old son back to the city of his birth, Sarajevo, and is forced to relive the trials and tribulations she and her family faced during the wars of the 1990s. Emile Hirsch co-stars and, after the jump, you can see the first trailer for the film which premieres this week in Toronto. Read More »

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In July, Oliver Stone is going back to his lurid daylight noir style (think U-Turn) with his adaptation of Don Winslow‘s novel Savages. The film features Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson as a couple of pot growers whose business ends up in the crosshairs of a more powerful Mexican drug lord (Salma Hayek). Her henchman (Benicio Del Toro) kidnaps the guys’ shared girlfriend (Blake Lively), which leads to a pretty intense confrontation.

After the break, we’ve got an exclusive behind the scenes video showing the setup and filming of one of the movie’s action setpieces. We’ve also dropped in some of the other videos from the film that have hit in the past couple days. Read More »

Sneaky, sneaky. While we’ve been wondering when David Gordon Green might return to the indie fare that earned him so much acclaim in his early days, it turns out Green himself has already done so in secret. Green, along with stars Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, has just wrapped the low-budget road trip comedy Prince Avalanche, an Austin, TX-set remake of the Icelandic film Either Way (A annan veg). More details after the jump.

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“Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap!” Wait. Hiring Matthew McConaughey to kill someone costs how much? Twenty-five grand? Ok, maybe not ‘dirt cheap,’ then. Anyway, The Exorcist director William Friedkin is back this year with Killer Joe, a Southern-fried thriller in which McConaughey is hired by Emile Hirsch to kill his mom (Gina Gershon). But complications arise when the killer wants money up front and the kid can’t pay. That’s where his sister (Juno Temple) comes in.

The film ended up being rated NC-17, and despite whatever intense stuff goes down to earn that rating, it seems like there’s a real appeal here when it comes to the performances from McConaughey and the supporting players. I’m thrilled, frankly, to see McConaughey getting a string of roles that really take advantage of his particular talents, and this one looks like a win for him. Check out a trailer below. 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 »

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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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Probably the most intriguing aspect of the Timur Bekmambetov-produced alien invasion flick The Darkest Hour is the film’s unique take on aliens. Unlike your typical movie ET, these otherwordly baddies take the form of “lethal wave energy” that renders them invisible, and therefore extra dangerous, most of the time. And when they do catch up with their prey, their unusual makeup also allows them to kill off the human protagonists in creative and nifty-looking ways. These aliens aren’t content to just maim or kill — any creature with the misfortune to fall into their path disintegrates completely.

Sound cool? The marketing team behind the movie thinks so, too, as indicated by their choice to feature an alien attack as the focus of the motion poster. Directed by Chris Gorak, The Darkest Hour stars Emile Hirsch, Max Minghella, Olivia Thirlby, and Rachael Taylor as a group of friends who find themselves stranded in Moscow after a crushing alien attack. Check out the motion poster after the jump.

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‘The Darkest Hour’ Concept Art Revealed

In September of2010, I was lucky enough to visit the set of The Darkest Hour in Moscow Russia. I will be posting updates and interviews from the set visit in the coming months. Summit Entertainment has provided the group of visitors an exclusive look at concept art of the locations from the film. The Timur Bekmambetov-produced alien invasion movie titled The Darkest Hour has been described as a 28 Days Later-type thriller following a group of American tourists visiting Moscow Russia when an alien invasion occurs. The image above shows the iconic Red Square, “the scene of desolation in the post-alien invasion world of The Darkest Hour.”

The film stars Emile Hirsch (Speed Racer, Into the Wild), Olivia Thirlby (Juno, The Wackness), and Max Minghella (Bee Season, How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, Agora, The Social Network). Chris Gorak directed the film, with a script by M.T. Ahern and Leslie Bohem with revisions by Gorak, Jon Spaihts, and Josh Zetumer. The film was shot last Summer in Moscow, and the Russian backdrop is sure to provide the story with a very unique look and tone. Also, the aliens in the film are very unlike the designs and concepts we’ve seen in recent years. I will write more about the locations after I return from my Canadian travels this week. After the jump you can see 12 concept art images from the film.

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