The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete

There comes a moment in every person’s life when they realize that life just isn’t fair, and there’s fuck-all they can do about it but survive the best they can. Unfortunately, part of that injustice is that some folks are forced to learn that lesson much sooner than others.

Like the title characters of George Tillman Jr.‘s The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete. Mister (Skylan Brooks) is a 13-year-old whose recent flunking of the eighth grade is the least of his worries. His mom (Jennifer Hudson) is a drug addict who gets arrested and taken away, and he’s left to take care of the 9-year-old Pete (Ethan Dizon), a neighbor kid in a similarly sad situation.

Desperate to avoid being put in foster care by child protective services, Mister and Pete struggle to survive on their own in Brooklyn, while working toward Mister’s goal of moving to Beverly Hills to land a TV role. Watch the first trailer after the jump.

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Produced by Grammy winner Alicia Keys and co-starring Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson and American Idol Jordin Sparks, The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete might sound like a kiddie movie. Quirky title, popular names, and two child leads make that assumption easy. But this one, written by Michael Starrbury and directed by George Tillman Jr. (Notorious, Faster), is anything but kids’ stuff.

While the film dramatizes the ultimate childhood wish fulfillment, spending a summer without parental supervision, it does so with brutal honesty in the harsh realities of modern Brooklyn. Mister (Skylan Brooks) and Pete (Ethan Dizon), two young boys whose mothers are both MIA drug addicts, decide that living on their own and scavenging for food, medicine and soap, is better than being brought to a boys home.

The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete features two beautiful lead performances and solid supporting turns by Hudson, Sparks, Anthony Mackie, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Jeffrey Wright. It is an emotionally effective, if not particularly resonant addition to the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Read more after the jump.

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Sparkle remakes the 1976 film of the same name that was a fictionalized story of a Motown girl group inspired by the Supremes. But the reason most people will be paying attention to the film now is that it features the final screen appearance of the late Whitney Huston. The singer plays mom to three sisters (Jordin Sparks, Carmen Ejogo and Tika Sumpter) who take to the stage to make their fortune as singers. It seems like Huston mostly plays a supporting role, with a few big scenes here and there, and the just-released trailer for Sparkle doesn’t try to make the film out to be hers alone.

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Briefly: Sony has just announced release dates for two very different projects I’d very nearly forgotten about. Variety reports that Paul Greengrass‘ reality-based Somali pirate tale Captain Phillips is now slated for a March 22, 2013 opening, while Salim Akil‘s music-themed drama Sparkle will hit August 10, 2012.

The former stars Tom Hanks as real-life hero Captain Richard Phillips, who offered himself as a hostage to Somali pirates in exchange for the safety of his cargo ship’s crew. Adapted by Billy Ray (State of Play) from Phillips’ memoir A Captain’s Duty, Captain Phillips comes from The Social Network producers Scott Rudin, Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti, and Kevin Spacey. The March 2013 date pits Captain Phillips against DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods, which is aimed at a younger demographic.

Akil’s Sparkle is a remake of the 1976 drama of the same title, and is a fictionalized take on the story of Diana Ross and The Supremes. Starring Jordin Sparks, Derek Luke, and Whitney Houston (in her first big-screen role since 1996′s The Preacher’s Wife), the film will feature original music from R. Kelly. Sparkle‘s August release coincides with the opening two rather dissimilar films — Jonathan Levine’s zombie romance Warm Bodies and Jay Roach’s political comedy Dog Fight.

Zach Gilford, best known as sensitive QB Matt Saracen on Friday Night Lights, will be starring opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Last Stand. Described as “a combination of Die Hard and High Noon,” the action film revolves around a border town sheriff (Schwarzenegger) who finds himself tasked with stopping a drug kingpin from crossing the U.S. border. Gilford will play one of the cops working under Schwarzenegger’s character.

The Last Stand marks the English-language debut of South Korean filmmaker Kim Ji-woon (I Saw the Devil), as well as Schwarzenegger’s return to acting. Given the kind of work that Schwarzenegger and Gilford have each done in the past, I’m having a little trouble imagining them starring next to each other. But Gilford’s a wonderful actor who deserves to get way more work than he does, so I’m just happy to see him pick up a higher-profile gig for once. The Last Stand is due out January 18, 2013. [Deadline]

After the jump, pop star Pink tries her hand at acting, while actor Derek Luke gives music a shot.

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Whitney Houston is set to return to the big screen for the first time in 15 years for Sparkle, a remake of the 1976 drama based on the real-life tale of Diana Ross and The Supremes (yes, kind of like Dreamgirls, only Sparkle came first). The story follows the rise and fall of fictional girl group Sister & the Sisters, the members of which find their personal lives falling apart even as their act reaches ever higher levels of fame and success.

Houston, who’s also set to executive produce, will play the “not-so-encouraging” mother of the girls in the band. Houston has actually been attached to the project since back when it was supposed to star Aaliyah, who passed away in 2001. Also in the cast are Jordin Sparks making her cinematic debut in the title role, and Mike Epps in the part of destructive comedian Satin. Salim Akil (Jumping the Broom) is set to direct the feature from a script by his wife Mara Brock Akil. [Movieline]

After the jump: Dustin Hoffman snags some fine British talent (including two notable Harry Potter actors) for his directorial debut, and Twilight star Ashley Greene signs on for a weird, “ultra-modern” version of a Charles Dickens classic.

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