There are few movies that fill me with so much discomfort that I can’t wait to leave the theater, even while I’m watching them. Martha Marcy May Marlene, which premiered yesterday at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, is one of those films, a portrait of cult brainwashing that is so discomfiting, I would have walked out if I wasn’t so transfixed by the tremendous filmmaking on display.

Hit the jump for some more thoughts on the film, including a video blog I recorded with over half a dozen movie writers. Read More »

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Anything that puts John Hawkes in more movies is OK by me. And the great, until recently underrated actor has just bagged two new roles, so here’s a pair of films to put on your watch list. First up is Chronicle, about which we’ve got little info. Looks like Justin Long will appear alongside Mr. Hawkes and Ryan Philippe, with possible additions that include Mickey Rourke, Helena Bonham Carter, Kate Mara, Danny Masterson and Vincent D’Onofrio.

Jay Alaimo directs, and the plot reportedly features “two childhood friends reunite to launch the biggest marijuana-dealing operation in New York City.” As long as one of those friends is John Hawkes, we’re in good shape. [The Playlist]

After the break, info about The Playroom, in which the actor reunites with his Deadwood co-star Molly Parker. Read More »

2010 Gotham Independent Film Awards Winners

Tonight, the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) held the 20th Anniversary Gotham Independent Film Awards ceremony in New York City’s Cipriani Wall Street. The winners were comprised mostly of films which played earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival. A total of 30 films received nominations in seven competitive categories, including: Best Feature, Best Documentary, Breakthrough Director, Breakthrough Actor, Best Ensemble Performance, Festival Genius Audience Award and Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You®. Hit the jump to read the full list of winners and the official press release.

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Briefly: This is the sort of short news that might usually be dropped into an aggregate Casting Notes piece, but after seeing Winter’s Bone this weekend I’m too high on John Hawkes to sideline him like that. Hawkes is a magnificent presence in Winter’s Bone, contributing a great deal to one of the year’s best films.

So I’m excited that he’ll now be a part of Steven Soderbergh‘s Contagion, the “ensemble piece about the spread of a H1N1-type disease on an international scale.” (via Movieweb.) He’ll work alongside  Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law. Quite a cast, but I have no doubt that Hawkes can stand shoulder to shoulder with all of them.

If you haven’t seen Winter’s Bone, you should still know Hawkes from Deadwood, Eastbound & Down, Lost or Me, You and Everyone We Know. He’s one of the best character actors working. Please catch Winter’s Bone (trailer here) if it’s playing in your town, and hopefully you’ll find it to be the antidote to a pretty crappy summer movie season. And you’ll probably end up anticipating Hawkes appearances in movies like Contagion even more.

Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: I celebrate all levels of trailers and hopefully this column will satisfactorily give you a baseline of what beta wave I’m operating on, because what better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? Some of the best authors will tell you that writing a short story is a lot harder than writing a long one, that you have to weigh every sentence. What better medium to see how this theory plays itself out beyond that than with movie trailers?

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Winter’s Bone Trailer and Poster

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We missed posting this earlier this week, but I can’t totally pass up the chance to highlight the trailer for Winter’s Bone, the Grand Jury Prize winner at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

I quite like the look of the photography here, which is mostly naturalistic, but with a tinge of something fantastic, like the edges are just starting to fray. Add moments with Garret Dillahunt, John Hawkes and Jennifer Lawrence, who has been getting the breakout performance accolades this year that were showered upon Carey Mulligan in 2009. Read More »

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Deadwood alum John Hawkes has joined the cast of the sixth and final season of LOST, and producers of Fox’s 24 are planning for the possible end of the series. Details after the jump.

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I just returned from the set of H2 (Halloween 2) and am running off adrenaline, craft services coffee, and an iPod of Brian Jonestown Massacre and MF Doom. And also, a little bit of anger. Let me just say that Twitter has become a HUGE problem on movie sets, and that I do not grasp why it is necessary for some sites, however cool, to Tweet every effing detail of what they are seeing in real time. Word spreads quickly on these productions, and one bad, trivial, prematurely ejaculated Tweet can potentially and seemingly spoil access for everyone. End rant. The below news was in my email, cheered me up, and even though I need to crash, it was too good to delay posting…

HBO has officially confirmed that its original comedy series Eastbound and Down—a /Film fave—has been renewed for a second season. Better yet, given the fast ascent up the comedy ranks of the show’s masterminds, Danny McBride, Jody Hill, and Ben Best, one may have expected another six-episode season further down the pipeline. Instead, the next season begins filming later this year and will air in 2010. Woo. When we were on the set last year, co-director David Gordon Green revealed that a follow-up pitch was being entertained that centered on McBride’s profane bulletproof tiger Kenny Powers shipping off to South America to quasi-fulfill his baseball career. However, the idea seemed to be news to much of the cast, and given how well received the ensemble performances of Andy Daly, Katy Mixon, John Hawkes, and Steve “Ass Blood” Little,  I wouldn’t bet on it.

My review of Jody Hill’s Observe and Report is on the way. It’s a 9.5/10 and one of the most uncompromising, face-checking comedies to come around in a long time.

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