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After much anticipation, neither Kim Ji-woon’s The Last Stand nor Park Chan-wook’s Stoker set Western audiences on fire when they opened earlier this year. But the third English-language debut by a South Korean director this year, Bong Joon-ho‘s Snowpiercer, seems poised to blow the other two out of the water.

Following very early screenings for the highly anticipated sci-fi film, the very first reviews have begun trickling out. And the critics seem to agree on a few points: 1) that Snowpiercer is very, very dark, 2) that it’s so dark it could turn off movie ticket buyers, and 3) that it’s freakin’ fantastic. Hit the jump to read their comments.

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It’s the rare genre anthology film that satisfies entirely; at best, we can usually hope for a couple great stories amid the near-misses in any given collection of short stories. Many, however, don’t even achieve that, and the South Korean effort Doomsday Book falls in with that large crowd of mostly unsatisfying story collections. Directed by Yim Pil-sung (Hansel & Gretel) and Kim Jee-woon (I Saw the DevilThe Good, the Bad, the Weird), with the former tackling two tales and the latter one, Doomsday Book presents three visions of humanity’s future, and ways that it might end, or at least change.

Fitfully entertaining, with occasional flashes of black humor and  philosophical insight, this is a tome that isn’t even valuable as the sum of its parts — which isn’t much of a surprise, given the low individual value of each chapter. Read More »

Some of the biggest genre-oriented directors out of South Korea have, in addition to their signature features, dallied with segments in anthology films. Park Chan-wook (Oldboy) did a part in the film Three…Extremes; Bong Joon-ho (Mother, The Host) did a segment for Tokyo!; and Kim Jee-woon (I Saw the Devil, the upcoming Arnold Schwarzenegger movie The Last Stand) did a segment in 3 Extremes II.

Now Kim Jee-woon is going back to the anthology, as he is a producer and director on Doomsday Book, a three-part anthology about the end of the world. Yim Pil-sung (Hansel & Gretel) is his co-conspirator, with the directors each doing one segment solo and collaborating on the third. As his solo effort, Kim directs a segment about a robot that develops its own consciousness. (Pictured above.) An English-subbed trailer is now available; check it out below. Read More »

Briefly: South Korean director Kim Ji-Woon is becoming a major talent — his last films The Good, the Bad, the Weird and I Saw the Devil got him loads of international attention. So much attention that he ended up directing The Last Stand, a border tale of an old disgraced cop facing down a fleeing drug runner that will act as Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s return to starring roles.

But the United States isn’t going to be Kim’s permanent home, as new reports say that he’ll return to South Korea to work on a movie called The Fall of Humanity. Perfect material for 2012, it seems. Read More »

Sometime last summer, a report surfaced that Jim Carrey had been offered a part, possibly the lead, in the magician comedy Burt Wonderstone. Steve Carell has since landed the title role, but now it seems Carrey may be interested in climbing aboard in a different capacity.

Carrey has entered negotiations for the film, which will be directed by 30 Rock‘s Don Scardino. Chad Kultgen first drafted the film, then John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein did a rewrite, and Jason Reitman was recently hired to polish the script. The story follows a Vegas magician who breaks up with his stage partner and finds himself upstaged by a younger, hipper illusionist. Carrey’s potential character in the film has not been revealed, though I suppose the most obvious guess is that he’ll play Wonderstone’s former partner. [Deadline]

After the jump, Eduardo Noriega takes on the Governator, while two Immortals stars head to Asia.

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The theme of this Casting Bits seems to be “rising stars,” as All My Children‘s Ambyr Childers stakes out a spot in an all-star cast, War Horse star Jeremy Irvine leads a movie starring Britain’s finest, and Thor actress Jaimie Alexander signs on to co-star with the Governator himself. Read more after the jump.

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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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The Wire‘s Michael K. Williams (who, like John Goodman, just guest-appeared on Community) was in the running for the title role in Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained, and though he lost the part to Jamie Foxx, he may still end up in the film, in a part written just for him.

Hopefully another new job won’t get in the way; Williams will now also be a producer and actor in Life Garland‘s indie thriller The Suspect, written by Stuart Connelly. Here’s how the writer describes the film: “Two African American social scientists pose as bank robbers in an effort to understand the racial dynamics of small-town law enforcement. However, their experiment takes an unplanned, deadly turn.” That’s a great premise that could be the beginning of a compelling film. We’ll definitely follow the development. Shadow and Act reveals that Isaiah Washington is also set for the film.

After the break, David Duchovny rides a sub, and The Last Stand and Cloud Atlas get new actors. Read More »

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