Traditionally, when a movie wins either the Grand Jury and Audience Dramatic Awards at Sundance, it’s meant for big things. Then there are some really special films that win both. Precious and Fruitvale Station are two recent examples. This year’s Sundance opener Whiplash is another.
Directed by Damien Chazelle, Whiplash tells the dramatic story of Andrew (Miles Teller), a highly ambitious young drummer who finds himself under the wing of the most demanding, intimidating and influential music teacher in the country. That’s Terence Fletcher, played by J.K. Simmons. Those dueling passions sets up a battle of the wills as Andrew tries to prove himself for Fletcher, hoping he doesn’t have to face the frightening truth that he’s just not good enough.
You can read Russ’s Sundance review here, but in lieu of a trailer for the October 10 release, the first Whiplash clip has now made it online. In it, you’ll get a sense of the film’s incredible tension and powerful performances. Read More »
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Posted on Thursday, March 13th, 2014 by Angie Han
Last month, Jai Courtney booked the role of Kyle Reese in Terminator: Genesis to complete the central trio of returning characters. (Or quartet, if you count Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s Terminator.) Now it’s moving on to some other, less prominent but still crucial, roles — starting with an boozed-up detective to be played by J.K. Simmons.
Learn more about his character, and get some details on how he’ll fit into this complicated time-jumping narrative, after the jump. Read More »
The heart of Whiplash is a duel between Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, and the weapon of choice isn’t a gun or a knife, but a drum kit. The players’ duel is a concept that cuts across musical genres. It can blaze bright in jazz, when players both complement and one-up one another in an effort to push a performance to its limits. The tendency leads to performances like the “drum battles” between Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa.
Andrew, played by Teller, has definitely heard those battles; he idolizes Buddy Rich and wants to be the next great jazz drummer. In his first year at an elite music academy he finds the ne-plus-ultra of instructors: Fletcher (Simmons), a jazz pianist and draconian band conductor. What begins as a simple teacher/student scenario escalates into a full-on battle of wills as Fletcher deploys manipulative tricks to beat Teller into shape as a machine able to perform on cue. The teacher will hurl a chair as quickly as an insult; is he wildly unstable, or a genius?
Whiplash is structured like a jazz tune, with the duel as the central melody out from which spring scenes that attempt to flesh out both characters and inform their tactics. When that melody rises above everything else, the film is unique and viciously energetic; the side notes, however, are wan, and the whole is messy and less driven than either lead character. Read More »
Let’s just get this out there: in describing the film Whiplash, which has set Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now) to star, Deadline calls the approach “Full Metal Jacket at Juilliard.” If that doesn’t make you wonder what the film is all about, nothing will. The film is an expansion of a short from Sundance, with Damien Chazelle, who wrote the short, directing the feature.
Teller will play a student drummer under the rule of “a brutal jazz orchestra teacher” played by J.K. Simmons. While dealing with his teacher’s methods, Teller’s character “begins to lose his humanity in his quest to become the core skins pounder of the top jazz orchestra in the country.” Again: Full Metal Jacket at Julliard. Consider me intrigued, especially with Simmons as the domineering teacher.
If you’re still not too familiar with Teller, check out a couple clips from his current film The Spectacular Now below. Read More »
Briefly: Ashton Kutcher made his big bow as Steve Jobs at Sundance, in the film once called jOBS and now wisely re-formatted as Jobs. The film was picked up by Open Road and quickly set for an April 19 limited opening. But audiences are going to have to wait longer to see Kutcher do his best take on the Apple co-founder.
That April date was chosen, presumably, because it is the anniversary of the founding of Apple, though not a particularly sexy one. (The 37th.) The distributor has decided that taking more time to market the film is a good idea. Whether any cuts or other changes will be made remains to be seen. A new date hasn’t been set at this point for the film directed by Joshua Michael Stern and written by Matthew Whitely.
Jobs also stars Dermot Mulroney, Josh Gad, Lukas Haas, J.K. Simmons and Matthew Modine. Germain reviewed the film at Sundance, saying it “feels slight because it tries to do too much.” [THR]
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Posted on Thursday, February 14th, 2013 by Angie Han
It’s pilot casting season! And as such, Rupert Grint, JK Simmons, Dylan McDermott, Billy Campbell, Jennifer Beals, and tons more have found new homes on the small screen. Also after the jump:
- Peter Sarsgaard has joined AMC’s The Killing
- Dexter Season 8 adds a Walking Dead alum
- Ridley Scott is bringing The Terror to AMC
- The About a Boy duo will tackle Neal Stephenson
- FX is moving ahead with Diane Kruger‘s The Bridge
- Up All Night will shoot just one multi-cam episode
- ABC shifts Happy Endings to the Friday death slot
- House of Cards is Netflix’s most-watched program
- Comcast buys the other 49% of NBCUniversal
- The first episode of The CW’s Cult hits the web
- Jason Blum‘s Paranormal-esque reality show gets a trailer
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Posted on Thursday, January 3rd, 2013 by Angie Han
Once the initial disbelief at Ashton Kutcher‘s casting in Joshua Michael Stern‘s jOBS wore off, it became apparent that the Two and a Half Men star looked the part of late tech guru Steve Jobs, if nothing else. But there’s a wide gap between mimicking Jobs’ hairstyle and outfits and actually embodying his persona.
Sundance Film Festival attendees will get to see how Kutcher really fares when jOBS makes its world premiere as the Sundance Film Festival’s closing night film later this month, but the rest of us won’t have too much longer to wait either. Open Road Films has just picked up the biopic with plans to release it theatrically this spring. More details after the jump.
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Posted on Wednesday, November 21st, 2012 by Angie Han
Although his credits include all types of films, it’s really within the horror genre that Jason Blum has made his name. The powerhouse producer has been behind some of the biggest hits in recent years, including the Paranormal Activity franchise, Insidious, Sinister, and The Bay. In 2013, he’ll try to continue that winning streak with a slew of new thrillers.
Among them is Dark Skies, an alien invasion flick directed by Scott Charles Stewart. Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton, and Dakota Goyo (Real Steel) play a family targeted by a mysterious force. J.K. Simmons also stars, as an expert who may be able to help them deal with the situation. Check out the trailer after the jump.
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Posted on Wednesday, August 1st, 2012 by Angie Han
After breaking out with Wedding Crashes and The Hangover a few years back, Bradley Cooper‘s been trying to make the transition into more dramatic roles. Which, for some reason, starts with playing shabby, dishonest writer types.
In last year’s Limitless, Cooper played a hapless copywriter who cheats his way to success with a performance-enhancing drug. In this fall’s The Words, he stars as a middling author who fakes talent by plagiarizing from a manuscript he discovers in an old briefcase. The trouble starts when Jeremy Irons enters his life, claiming to be the true author of the story. Olivia Wilde, Dennis Quaid, Zoe Saldana, and Ben Barnes also star. Watch the second trailer after the jump.
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