You have to give James Franco credit for trying a great many different things, from graduate studies to acting to writing and directing short films and transitioning up to features. Franco has plans to adapt a couple of the more challenging authors around, Cormac McCarthy (Blood Meridian) and William Faulkner (As I Lay Dying), in the immediate future.

But first there is The Broken Tower, a film about poet Hart Crane that Franco wrote, directed and stars in, with Michael Shannon and Dave Franco also playing roles. The film premiered at the LA Film Festival to mixed reviews, and now that the first teaser trailer has arrived, you’ll probably be able to guess some of the reasons for the shaky reception. Read More »

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It’s never quite been clear to me why Linda Cardellini isn’t a bigger star. Cardellini’s talents have been apparent ever since she starred in Paul Feig’s Freaks & Geeks back in 1999, and over the years she’s shown remarkable range in projects ranging from the deadly somber (Brokeback Mountain) to the utterly silly (Legally Blonde, the Scooby-Doo films).

I don’t know whether her next movie, Return, will do much to raise her profile, but if it doesn’t it certainly looks like another to add to the “Reasons Linda Cardellini Should Be More Famous” pile. Cardellini plays a war vet who’s initially excited to return home to her husband (Michael Shannon) and kids after a long deployment, but struggles to fit back into a world that’s clearly moved on without her. Critics praised Cardellini’s riveting turn after the film’s debut at Cannes last year, and even in this 85-second trailer, it’s easy to see why. Watch the video after the jump.

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For a while there it looked like Ariel Vromen‘s The Iceman was on the verge of falling apart, as James Franco dropped out of the project. But the hitman biopic is moving along with David Schwimmer and Chris Evans added to the cast in recent weeks, and now Winona Ryder has boarded the picture as well in a role once slated for Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Ryder will play the wife of mob contract killer Richard Kuklinski, a.k.a. The Iceman (Michael Shannon), who’s unaware of the true nature of her husband’s career. Ray Liotta and Ryan O’Nan will also star.

Based on interview footage and Anthony Bruno‘s book The Iceman: The True Story of a Cold-Blooded Killer, the picture is scheduled to begin production early next year in Louisiana. [Deadline]

After the jump, a former Everybody Loves Raymond star gets fired by a former The Office star, a Broadway adaptation casts a Broadway star, and a trio of rising Brit talents sign on for an artsy romance.

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As we head toward the end of the year, it’s clear that 2011 has yielded some damn great performances from both established stars (Gary Oldman, Glenn Close) and rising talents (Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska). So naturally, the best way to celebrate their accomplishments is by inviting each of them to play characters wholly unlike the ones they’ve recently received acclaim for.

In a video gallery from The New York Times Magazine titled “Touch of Evil,” thirteen of this year’s most notable stars tackle thirteen villainous types, from “The Menacing Dummy” (Oldman) to “The Sociopath” (Rooney Mara channeling A Clockwork Orange‘s Alex DeLarge) and everything in between. Hit the jump for a photo gallery from the feature.

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How much did Nicolas Cage‘s copy of Action Comics #1 sell for? Is there an update on a comic book sequel to Watchmen? What does Robert Rodriguez have to say about Sin City 2? Does Michael Shannon have a funny anecdote about the differences between Take Shelter and Man of Steel? How should have X-Men: First Class really ended? Read about all of this and more in today’s Superhero Bits. Read More »

He’s played the Human Torch, and now Chris Evans will be in The Iceman. This is a movie about a different Iceman, though — one wholly unrelated to Marvel’s mutant supporting character.

There are two biopics brewing of Richard ‘The Iceman’ Kuklinski — one called The Ice Man: Confessions Of A Mafia Contract Killer, starring Mickey Rourke as the Iceman. Then there is this one, which features Michael Shannon as the hit man, and now boasts Chris Evans in a role once earmarked for James Franco. Read More »

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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Which major celebrity created their own, customized Batmobile? Want to watch Michael Shannon and Tom Hiddleston talk about Man of Steel and The Avengers? How about see a ton of new images from the New York set of The Dark Knight Rises? What do cats look like dressed up as superheroes? Curious how you can make your very own flourescent kryptonite candy? How is North Carolina reacting to their Iron Man 3 news? What is Stan Lee doing with Michael Eisner? Is there video of the Man of Steel scene from which a spoiler-filled set photo surfaced recently? Read about all that and much more in this special four page, weekend edition of Superhero Bits. Read More »

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