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Left to his own devices Lee Daniels makes films that are eccentric and sometimes just way the hell out there. (The Paperboy) But he has called his newest film, The Butler, “a big compromise” and explained that the film might be “the closest I will come to as a work-for-hire.” Does that mean that, on the relative scale of whackadoo films, The Butler will be far closer to “normal” than anything else he’s made?

Hard to say at this point, but the first trailer suggests that there’s some weird stuff going on here. There’s the parade of cameo players appearing as a string of US Presidents. Among them is John Cusack‘s turn as Richard Nixon, which is… interesting. Then there’s Alex Pettyfer playing an uber-douchebag cotton farm overseer, and the digital effects and makeup that shave a few decades off lead Forest Whitaker in some scenes.

Whitaker plays Cecil Gaines, who served several different President as the White House butler, and the trailer suggests the film traces his entire life story, using it to frame the sweep of the civil rights movement. It’s a good story, but this trailer looks a lot like a parody that might show up on SNL. So we’ll see — maybe The Butler will be just as crazy as the rest of Daniels’ work. Read More »

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Seth MacFarlane‘s first foray into feature filmmaking, Ted, was an unqualified success, grossing over $500 million on a $50 million budget and even picking up some strong reviews along the way. Naturally, then, he’s having no trouble recruiting strong talents for his sophomore effort, A Million Ways to Die in the West. Charlize Theron and Amanda Seyfried are already on board to star, and now they’re being joined by Giovanni Ribisi and Liam Neeson. Hit the jump to read more.

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With the arrival of December, awards season is in full swing, and usually that just means limited releases of some big new films, to establish them as Oscar contenders. And so a film like Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty will open in New York and LA on December 21, but won’t go wide until January 11.

But we also see the occasional re-release, meant to remind Academy voters that films are worth considering for awards. And so December 7 sees two films re-opening, the better to angle for Oscar. Open Road is doing a nationwide re-release of David Ayer‘s End of Watch, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña as LA cops. And as the following tweet shows, Joe Carnahan‘s The Grey is getting a two-week run at two LA-area theaters:

Granted, Carnahan’s film, starring Liam Neeson as one of a team of roughnecks stranded in the Alaskan wilderness, has been on DVD for months; you can even stream it on Netflix right now. But it’s a solid film, and I’m happy to see it get a small shot at awards recognition.

It’s no great surprise that Phil Lord and Chris Miller are luring in some excellent talent for Lego: The Piece of Resistance, but it’s cheerful news all the same. Chris Pratt and Will Arnett were among the first actors announced over the summer, followed by Morgan Freeman and Elizabeth Banks a couple of months later. Now four more shining stars have just boarded the cast: Will Ferrell, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, and Liam Neeson. More after the jump.

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Is it time to look ahead to 2013 already? After the jump:

  • The Hangover 3 will shoot in Orange County, CA
  • Paul Walker is recovering from a Fast Six injury
  • Monsters Inc.‘s Mike is Billy Crystal‘s favorite role
  • Liam Neeson collected $10 million for Taken 2
  • Matt Damon probably won’t play Bourne again
  • Roberto Orci defends the one-second Star Trek clip
  • Over-the-hill movie stars team up in Red 2 set photos
  • See a new photo from Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines

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Some of today’s tidbits involve actors claiming they probably won’t do a sequel. Imagine that. After the jump:

  • 300: Rise of an Empire stars gather for a group photo
  • Watch an explosive video from Fast and the Furious 6
  • Liam Neeson does not think Taken 3 will ever happen
  • Mike Tyson and Kendra Wilkinson join Scary Movie 5
  • Benedict Cumberbatch talks about mo-cap in Hobbit
  • Ethan Hawke says Before Midnight may be the end of his unexpectedly long-running series with Richard Linklater.

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My favorite Sequel Bits are the ones with a little something for everyone, like this one. After the jump:

  • Lindsay Lohan tries to get out of Scary Movie 5
  • Looks like Adele will be singing the Skyfall theme
  • Human Centipede 3 will have a 500-person chain
  • Lydia Hearst boards Cabin Fever: Patient Zero
  • Breaking Dawn Part 2 tickets to go on sale in October
  • See the Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning trailer
  • Maggie Grace goes on the run in a new Taken 2 clip
  • Paul W.S. Anderson would do a sixth Resident Evil

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‘Taken 2′ Internet Trailer: So Much Killing to be Done

Liam Neeson introduces a new internet-only trailer for Taken 2, the film that features the continuing exploits of Neeson’s former black-ops character, whose family is once again the target of foreign tough guys who have a preoccupation with violence. And the trailer really pushes the idea that these movies are exploiting our human trend towards creating endless cycles of violence — you hurt my people, so I hurt yours, and you hurt mine again, and it never, ever ends.

From a movie producer’s standpoint, that’s a great thing — endless sequel possibilities! — but how will that play out in the film, when we as an audience want to watch some cheap, bone-cracking thrills? The thrills here look pretty good, too, but in the end will we all feel like we’re a part of that cycle of violence? Probably not, but follow Liam Neeson’s instructions and watch this trailer to begin the process of finding out. Read More »

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