Tanya Wexler‘s Hysteria boasts the kind of premise that’s bound to make viewers sit up and take note: In Victorian-era England, the handsome young Dr. Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) invents the vibrator to help him treat his “hysterical” female patients by inducing paroxysms. (Or as we call it today, masturbating them to orgasm.) That it’s based on a true story, or a true-ish one anyway, makes it even more intriguing. So it’s a little disappointing that Hysteria is actually much tamer than that description would suggest, but it’s got so much charm I found myself enjoying the hell out of it anyway.

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As usual, this summer season looks to be stuffed with massively hyped, massively budgeted blockbusters, from May’s The Avengers to August’s The Expendables 2. Whenever you tire of glossy, expensive explosions in IMAX 3D, however — and at some point you will — there are plenty of other smaller movies on the calendar that could be worth a look.

After the jump, we have trailers for Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy‘s Victorian-era sex comedy (yes, really) Hysteria, Noel Clarke’s sci-fi thriller Storage 24, and the latest installment of Fox’s kid-friendly Diary of a Wimpy Kid franchise, Dog Days. Watch after the jump.

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I know already I’ve gone on and on about how excited I am by HBO’s adaptation of Jonathan Franzen‘s The Corrections, but considering the talent signed on — Noah Baumbach, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Dianne Wiest — can you blame me? Today the good news continues with the report that Maggie Gyllenhaal and Rhys Ifans could be up for parts in the series as well. More details after the jump.

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Hot off two of the year’s most buzzed-about performances in Albert Nobbs and Martha Marcy May Marlene, Glenn Close and Elizabeth Olsen have signed on to star in Thérèse Raquin. Charlie Stratton is writing and directing the erotic thriller, which is based on a 19th century novel and play by Émile Zola. Olsen will lead the cast as the titular young woman, who’s pushed into an unhappy marriage by her overbearing aunt (Close). Thérèse eventually falls into a passionate affair with her husband’s friend Laurent, with destructive consequences for all involved.

Close has reportedly been attached to the film for years, though Olsen’s involvement appears to be a recent development. Thérèse Raquin is scheduled to begin shooting this spring. [Entertainment Weekly]

After the jump, David Schwimmer gears up to kill people and Saoirse Ronan gets another love interest for The Host.

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It feels like James Franco is attached to pretty much everything these days, but now there’s one less Franco project we have to look forward to. According to JustJared.com, the star has pulled out of The Iceman, a biopic of Mafia hitman Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski. Franco was lined up to play Robert “Mr. Softee” Pronge, the “mentor assassin” to Kuklinski (Michael Shannon); Ray Liotta and Maggie Gyllenhaal were also set to star in the picture, by director Ariel Vroman. However, with Franco gone, “it looks like this project might fall apart,” a source told the site.

Details of Franco’s exit have not been revealed, although the same source blames “key contractual issues that didn’t involve financial terms.” The rest of the cast sounds too interesting to waste, so I’m hoping the movie can still come together out even without Franco’s involvement. If not, well, there’s always The Ice Man, the competing project starring Mickey Rourke. [Cinema Blend]

After the jump, Franco’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes co-star Tom Felton gets to play a good guy for once, and Ruben Fleischer is still adding people to the cast of Gangster Squad.

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This is quite possibly the most absurd thing I’ve seen today, but also fairly cute and just a bit charming. The trailer for Hysteria shows the work of Jonathan Pryce, Hugh Dancy, Rupert Everett and Maggie Gyllenhaal in a period sex comedy about the invention of the vibrator. Or, to borrow a line from the trailer, “we are NOT going to take a dangerous electrical device and press it against a lady’s most gentle areas.” Actually, yes. You are. Many, many times. See the trailer, erm, below. Read More »

Great Hope Springs, the movie in which Meryl Streep plays one half of a married couple spending a week of marriage and sex therapy with a famous therapist (Steve Carell) has gone through a few possible male leads. Jeff Bridges was mentioned early on, and James Gandolfini looked like a possibility at one point. (Those were when Mike Nichols was going to direct, but now The Devil Wears Prada director David Frankel will make the film instead.)

Tommy Lee Jones was next in the casting rumor series, but now he definitively has the gig playing husband to Meryl Streep. That’s a great pairing, and while the director may not be my top choice, I’m still as interested in watching these two actors trade barbs as I was when the idea first came up.

The synopsis for Great Hope Springs is after the break, along with news of new gigs for Maggie Gyllenhaal and Holly Hunter. Read More »

Universal’s been saying for a while now that the entire American Pie gang would be returning for American Reunion, and what do you know, they’re actually making good on that promise. Thomas Ian Nichols has just signed on for the fourth theatrical entry of the long-running American Pie franchise, making him the last major character to sign on. Fellow Pie stars Alyson Hannigan, Seann William Scott, Jason Biggs, Tara Reid, Mena Suvari, Chris Klein, Eddie Kaye Thomas and Eugene Levy have all previously confirmed their involvement.

I haven’t heard any news on whether Jennifer Coolidge might be reprising her role as the original MILF, but as The Hollywood Reporter calls Nichols the “last holdout,” I’m guessing that’s a no. We’ll miss you, Stifler’s Mom!

In the 1999 film, Nichols’ Kevin Myers was one of the four central friends who made a pact to lose their virginity before graduation. The new sequel will see the original gang returning to their hometown for their ten-year high school reunion. American Reunion will hit theaters April 6, 2012. [The Hollywood Reporter]

After the jump, new projects for Al Pacino, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, and… Warren Buffet?

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