Having tackled racism in Civil Rights-era Mississippi with the help of Emma Stone in last summer’s The Help, Viola Davis is now taking on the modern public education crisis with the aid of Maggie Gyllenhaal in Won’t Back Down.

Directed by Daniel Barnz (Beastly) from a script he co-wrote with Brin Hill, the apparently fact-based drama stars Gyllenhaal and Davis as a pair of determined mothers who team up to establish a charter school for struggling children in their Pittsburgh neighborhood. Oscar Isaac co-stars as a ukelele-strumming teacher who takes a romantic interest in Gyllenhaal, because he’s in everything these days. Watch the first trailer after the jump.

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After a decade of false starts on the big screen, an adaptation Jonathan Franzen‘s The Corrections looked to finally be making some headway on the small screen. HBO began developing it as a series with producer Scott Rudin last fall, and quickly signed director Noah Baumbach as well as a high-profile cast including Ewan McGregor, Rhys Ifans, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper and Dianne Wiest. The novel, which won the National Book Award in 2001, centers around an elderly couple and three adult children as they gather for “one last Christmas” near the turn of the millennium.

But alas, it seems this incarnation of the project isn’t going anywhere, either. After viewing the pilot, the premium cable has chosen to pass on the series. While HBO apparently liked the episode and the performances, it was concerned about the long-term sustainability of the premise. The book’s plot jumps back and forth through time, filling in the characters’ backstories, and HBO worried that it would be difficult for viewers to follow. The decision was not related to this week’s straight-to-series order of True Detective; with Luck off its plate, HBO would have had the resources to do both. [Deadline]

After the jump, the West Wing gang prove they’ve still got their walk-and-talk skills.

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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 »

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