TIFF Movie Review: Max Winkler’s Ceremony

Yesterday, I attended the premiere of Max Winkler‘s feature directorial debut Ceremony at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The 27-year old USC film school graduate and son of television actor Henry Winkler (Fonzie on Happy Days) is probably best known as the director of the popular Clark and Michael web series which starred Michael Cera and Clark Duke. In 2005, he co-wrote and co-directed a short film titled The King of Central Park, which screened at the Tribeca Film Festival, Malibu International Film Festival and Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The short is wonderfully awkward, sometimes Wes Anderson-like, especially in the music, use of slow motion and symmetrical framing.

You could definitely see he has a unique voice and sense of comedy, which led to a few writing assignments: He co-wrote The Adventurer’s Handbook with Jonah Hill and Matt Spicer, which SNL Digital Shorts/Hot Rod helmer Akiva Schaffer is attached to direct at Universal. He also co-wrote a football script, a big screen adaptation of the short story Whispers in Bedlam for Jason Reitman.

He has been trying to get a feature film off the ground for the past few years. He sold a Charlie Kaufman-esque script to Fox Searchlight titled The Ornate Anatomy of Living Things, about a “bookstore clerk living in Manhattan discovers a museum run by a strange old man that exists solely for the purpose of studying his life.” But for some reason or another, the project never went into production. He has instead decided to take the low budget approach and independently produced his debut feature.

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More first looks up today, kicking off with a low-key photo showing Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari in action for 30 Minutes or Less. If the photos don’t thrill you, remember that the film is directed by Zombieland‘s Ruben Fleischer, and that Danny McBride is also in the mix as a criminal who forces Eisenberg to rob a bank with a bomb strapped to his chest. The script is funny and slightly savage, and I’m looking forward to this one. [Grand Rapids Press via GatW]

After the break, images of Uma Thurman and Michael Angarano in Ceremony, and of Sean Penn in This Must Be the Place. Read More »

Kevin Smith

Briefly: We still don’t know very much about Kevin Smith‘s long-gestating middle-America horror film Red State, other than that Michael Parks is tapped for a lead role and that the film is based in part on sham ‘preacher’ Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church. But now there’s a logline for the film, which comes via STYD, that clarifies things just slightly:

A group of kids encounters a crazed preacher (based on Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church) who gives a whole new meaning to the term “extreme fundamentalism.”

Well, OK, very slightly. Smith is doing a good job keeping this one locked up; he’s talked about wanting to just shoot the movie quietly without giving too many details away, and so far he is successful. The film shoots this fall, so we’ll expect to know more in the next couple months. In addition to Michael Parks, Kyle Gallner, Melissa Leo, Dermot Mulroney, Michael Angarano and Steven Root all seem to have roles. So Gallner and Angarano are in the group of kids, and hopefully Melisssa Leo will be on the preacher’s side.

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For the longest time, Kevin Smith’s Red State seemed like a film that would never get made, but bit by bit, the project keeps coming together. The film already has a September shooting date (as tweeted by Smith), and the lead role has been locked in place. And now, the film has a not-yet-confirmed roster of actors to fill out the supporting cast.

The potentials include Dermot Mulroney (My Best Friend’s Wedding), Kyle Gallner (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Michael Angarano (The Forbidden Kingdom), Stephen Root (Office Space), and the Oscar nominated Melissa Leo (Frozen River). Learn more after the break. Read More »

Spider-Man Screen Tests Under Review at Sony

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This is a pretty small update to the story about the casting of Sony’s upcoming Spider-Man, to be directed in 3D by Marc Webb. We’ve had one major leaked actor shortlist, which was later augmented with a couple more names. And despite rumors that Sony liked any given actor over the others, the casting process is ongoing.

A new report says that Sony has shot screen tests with most of the names on the list, and is still working with Webb to choose a lead so that the rest of the film can be cast around him. Read More »

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Steven Soderbergh‘s action thriller Knockout, starring MMA fighter Gina Carano and a hell of a supporting cast, has evidently been given a new title. The picture is now called Haywire, and looks to be set for release in January 2011 by LionsGate. Read More »

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Here’s a brief update on Steven Soderbergh‘s upcoming spy/fight film Knockout, which has been the subject of several casting breaks over the past week. The latest (and last?) major cast member to sign on is Michael Angarano. Gina Carano plays an operative for a private military contractor who is betrayed by one of her teammates. Angarano will play a teenager who ends up as Carano’s unwitting partner after he helps her out of a tight spot, says THR.

That’s the first shred of plot that has lessened my interest in the movie, but I’ll still trust in Soderbergh and his screenwriter Lem Dobbs. Also in the cast, in case you missed the news, are Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender, Dennis Quaid and Channing Tatum. Antonio Banderas is rumored to be signing on, too.

Meanwhile, care to place your bets on whether Agnarano is in the running to be the new Peter Parker in Sony’s Spider-Man reboot? Along with Anton Yelchin and Andrew Garfield, you’d think he’s very possibly on the shortlist.

Gentlemen Broncos Movie Trailer

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I’ve been looking forward to seeing footage from Gentleman Broncos by Jared Hess, and a trailer is now online at Apple. The film follows a high school kid (Sky High‘s Michael Angarano) who goes to a fantasy / sci-fi writer’s camp, where the most famous sci-fi author in the world (Flight of the ConchordsJemaine Clement) steals his book idea. We see each author’s version of the book acted out, with Sam Rockwell in the lead each time. Read More »

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Two days ago, we delved into rumors that the next Peter Parker could be played by the Macguire-esque Patrick Fugit (Almost Famous, Wristcutters) or the younger, spunkish Michael Angarano (Sky High). Well, Sony wants to put some Internet skywriting out there and fast. Their message is: “Tobey Maguire you’re the best, you’re our Spider-Man!…right?” Sony’s head of media relations tells IESB

“No one is being considered for the role but Tobey. Period.”

IESB adds that numerous inside sources and agencies have confirmed that no actor in Hollywood or Bollywood has been contacted for Peter Parker. Prior to this, CHUD caught word from a producer on Fugit’s latest film who said the rumor was totally bunk. Let’s all electric slide back to square one, okay?

This premature casting drama went supernova because a higher-up at Marvel speculated that Sony will have Spider-Man 4 in theaters in 2010, which supported rumors that Sony wants to shoot Spider-Man 4 and Spider-Man 5 back-to-back. Whatever Sony says, there is movement happening with the franchise, so a little interwebs madness is expected, healthier than eating bacon even.

I don’t think Fugit would be (have been) an unwise choice, he’s talented, but he shares Macguire’s sleepy, melancholy style to a fault. Peter wonders why Shia Labeouf is not in the mix—he’s probably my first choice for Parker, and I really hope they bring in a new director as well. What’s interesting is that the fan outrage at these Macguire replacement rumors is not really there, which is odd. And fanboy hindsight on Spider-Man 3 seems to grow dimmer as time passes. More on the next Spidey flick(s) as it develops.

Discuss: Will Tobey Maguire be back you think? Do you think the word is out to other actors? Ideally, what do you want to see happen?

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

The Next Peter Parker

In the past few weeks we’ve heard mumblings that Sony had renewed their option to make Spider-Man movies, and internet rumors of preliminary plans to shoot Spider-Man 4 and Spider-Man 5, back-to-back.

Now comes word via LatinoReview that Patrick Fugit is the top name in the running to replace Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker. Now of course, no contracts have been signed, and the films have not even been officially greenlit (at least from a public perspective), so in other words – nothing is final. You probably recognize Fugit from his breakout performance in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous, or some of his indie work which has included Saved, Spun, and Wristcutters.

And if Fugit doesn’t work out, Michael Angarano is also said to be on the list of candidates. Angarano was most recently seen in Forbidden Kingdom, was in the superhero film Sky High, and even tried out for the now defunct Justice League movie. And while I’m not against the idea of going younger for the role, I just don’t see Angarano as Peter Parker.

I’m kinda surprised Shia LaBeouf’s name isn’t being mentioned. Some of you might also be wondering: if you’re going to go older, why not just go with Jake Gyllenhaal? Unfortunately Jake will be tied up for the foreseeable future with the big screen adaptation of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time.

Discuss: Who should replace Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker?