Friday is the first real day of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and I spent the afternoon in the Eccles Theater (aka the Park City High School auditorium) watching two films: Jerusha Hess‘ adaptation of Austenland starring Keri Russell, and Kill Your Darlings starring Daniel Radcliffe as Alan Ginsberg. After the jump you can find my mini reactions and a video blog I recorded with Steve Weintraub from Collider.
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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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It’s already time to look ahead to January, apparently, seeing as today’s TV Bits includes updates on three shows premiering in early 2013. After the jump:

  • Leslie’s celebrity crush Joe Biden is coming to Parks & Recreation
  • ReelzChannel is planning a sequel to 2011′s political soap The Kennedys
  • Netflix is on the verge of a deal to save AMC’s The Killing for Season 3
  • Vampire Hunter Abe steals Jesse Pinkman’s job (not the meth-making one)
  • Watch the trailer for the spy drama  The Americans, starring Keri Russell
  • Portlandia sets a return date and announces a winter special watch a clip
  • The Sex and the City prequel Carrie Diaries hits The CW on January 14
  • The CW’s Beauty and the Beast and NBC’s Chicago Fire will stick around

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This special edition of TV Bits looks to the future, with several bits of info about new projects in development. After the jump:

  • Kelsey Grammer produces a Freakonomics-inspired drama for NBC
  • Warren Ellis‘ crime novel Gun Machine is being adapted for TV by Fox
  • Fox is developing a television adaptation of Danny Boyle‘s The Beach
  • The CW is prepping its own contemporary take on Sleepy Hollow
  • FX picks up The Americans, a Cold War drama starring Keri Russell
  • Luther creator Neil Cross and the BBC consider an Alice-centric spinoff
  • Terry Crews‘ Camacho could feature in a web-based Idiocracy spinoff

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Two successful female writers will take on new roles as they collaborate on an indie romantic comedy. The film is called Austenland and it’ll be directed by Jerusha Hess, who co-wrote Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho Libre and Gentlemen Broncos with her husband Jared Hess, and produced by Stephenie Meyer, writer of the Twilight novels. Though Meyer is credited as a producer on those ultra-successful movies, this will be her first producing gig on something she didn’t conceive.

Austenland focuses on a young woman obsessed with Colin Firth’s character, Mr. Darcy, in the BBC production of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Starring Keri Russell, JJ Field, Bret McKenzie, Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Seymour, Rupert Vansittart and James Callis, it humorously explores how that idealism completely ruins her love life. Shooting begins this week. Read more after the jump. Read More »

David Duchovny and Vera Farmiga Cast in ‘Goats’

Last year, we brought you a small casting report on an indie called Goats, when Ty Burrell joined the cast. Now, eight months later, the film still hasn’t shot, but a few more significant names have been added. David Duchovny and Vera Farmiga have signed on, and the film will shoot in February. Read More »

FILM-TORONTO/

Sitting opposite Ed Norton in an empty conference room in a skyrise, one can’t avoid thinking about the hyper-charged situations he’s glared down on film. Clad in a black shirt and noticeably relaxed, he takes a moment before responding to a question, pressing a small washer-like object into the table and letting it spring back. It allows a brief window to search for the chiseled Nazi skinhead who forced a thug to tooth a curb in American History X. And for the office drone who scaled barbwire fences late at night to steal the excess fat of women and absorbed grueling punches in Fight Club. And for the smack dealer in 25th Hour who walked man’s best friend by a World Trade Center-less horizon, as unprepared for a future in the clink as the U.S. was for its uncertain present.

Norton is obsessively drawn to characters whose scariest adversary is in the mirror. It doesn’t matter if the playing field is a study in madness or a testy, possibly concluded, stint in the Marvel Universe as Bruce Banner. His latest film, a thoughtful thriller entitled Leaves of Grass, puts a literal spin on his interest in duality. He plays formerly estranged, highly intelligent twins—one a respected and reserved philosophy professor, the other a shaggy distributor of hydroponic marijuana.

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Over the years, we’ve come to expect the sight an actor playing twins or clones on screen to either be yanked for low-brow laffs and shenanigans (Multiplicity, Double Impact) or to spiral down a freaky reveal about the human condition (Dead Ringers, Moon, Big Love). The latest word on Leaves of Grass, starring the challenge-welcoming Ed Norton in roles as a longhaired drug dealer and his straight-and-narrow twin, is that it’s an original and scrappy mix of twin genres, with a healthy splash of violence.

Below we have an exclusive clip where Norton offers a green hit to his twin and gives meta-meaning to peer pressure. One of my friends felt the stoner twin’s accent and personality bordered on kooktarded—personally have no problem—but let us know what you think. Leaves of Grass opens on April 2nd and premieres this Friday, March 12, at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas.

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