spoils-of-babylon-trailer

While the mainstream is fetishizing the ’90s, a crew is still looking back at the forgotten corners of ’80s pop culture. IFC mini-series The Spoils of Babylon is from exec producers Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Matt Piedmont, Andrew Steele and Nate Young. (Steele and Piedmont wrote.) It is designed as a spoof of ’80s event television, and skewers stuff like The Thorn Birds; beach lit stories that, in their small-screen incarnations, are forgotten by most people who weren’t around to watch them the first time.

The series is about the Morehouse oil tycoon family, with Tobey Maguire, Tim Robbins and Kristen Wiig among the leads. (Jessica Alba, Jelly Howie, Val Kilmer, Michael Sheen, and Steve Tom also show up.) Below, watch a trailer in which Maguire narrates a brief history of the family, culminating with the ominous memory of the Morehouse son Winston. Read More »

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Masters of Sex

Into a TV landscape littered with antiheroic morality tales and Scandinavian crime dramas, Showtime is introducing something a little different with Masters of Sex.

Michael Sheen stars as William Masters, a real-life sex researcher whose pioneering work still serves as the basis for much of what we know about sex today. Lizzy Caplan stars as Virginia Johnson, his partner in science and, eventually, love. That cast alone is enough to get me to sit up and pay attention, but the first trailer also makes the show look like a hell of a lot of fun. Hit the jump to check it out.

Be warned that while the trailer is technically SFW — there’s no nudity or even cursing — there’s enough risqué material in here that perhaps you shouldn’t be watching it at work. Unless your office is as open-minded as Masters’, perhaps.

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Will-Ferrel-Spoils-of-Babylon-Teaser-Trailer

Will Ferrell and Adam McKay are living in the past. The modern TV “event series” has its roots in, well, Roots, and other mini-series adaptations of popular epic fiction. The late ’70s and early ’80s saw a rash of highly-touted adaptations of historical novels and family sagas, with the runaway success of Roots followed by Jesus of Nazareth, Shogun, The Thorn Birds, The Winds of War, and many more.

The basic format has changed little today — you’ll still see mini-series novel adaptations with a high-profile cast and a budget that outstrips some television. but there’s a way of advertising these events that has changed a little bit.

For their IFC mini-series The Spoils of Babylon, Ferrell and McKay are taking aim at those TV events, and they’ve appropriated the old ’80s ad style to go along with it. Or a comic version of it, at least. I don’t know if this will work on people under 30, but anyone who was watching TV in the late ’70s and early ’80s will chuckle at this spot. (The series features Ferrell, Kristin Wiig, Tobey Maguire, Jessica Alba, Michael Sheen, Val Kilmer, Tim Robbins and Haley Joel Osment, but none of them show up in this teaser, just warning.) Read More »

For high school seniors, college admissions board members can seem almost godlike in their power over the futures. From the time the kids send in their application to the time they hear back, the fate of the world seems to rest in the schools’ hands.* But as the new trailer for Admission shows, the process isn’t always a pleasant one for the folks on the other end, either.

In the new film by Paul Weitz, Tina Fey plays a Princeton admissions officer who takes a recruiting trip to an unusual school run by her former college classmate Paul Rudd. It turns into a potentially life-changing event when she crosses paths with a boy (Nat Wolff) who may or may not be the son she gave up long ago. Watch the video after the jump.

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In the final act of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2, as primary characters face horrific fates and a Highlander film’s worth of decapitations flickered on the screen, I struggled to wrap my head around a realization: I might have to convince some of my friends to see this movie. For someone who has sat through — I might even hyperbolize “endured” — the previous four films, this was new. Enjoyment. Enthusiasm. The battle scene hinted at in the image above is exactly the sort of thing films such as the entire Underworld series have struggled to create. Here, it’s tossed off with seemingly little effort.

But then there’s the movie wrapped around that sequence. This is still Twilight, full of gravely serious vampires far better at posing with faces full of concern than than they are to be at actually sucking blood. Is this, the last film in the series, any good? No, not really.

But this time  – and this is important – everyone involved, from director Bill Condon on down, finally seems to be in on the joke. I’d swear that Michael Sheen, playing the leader of dire vampire enforcement clan the Volturi, was running lines from Rocky Horror in his head. A pair of Transylvanian guys (or are they characters cut from Sprockets?) throw so much Lugosi into their voice that they’re nearly unintelligible, to oddly funny effect. And a CG baby is used when a perfectly normal human baby would have worked just as well. Seriously: a CG baby. That alone nearly merits a curiosity viewing. Read More »

Tina Fey built her career on the fast-paced comedy of Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock, but with the latter almost at an end it’s time for her to move on to the next phase. If the trailer for Paul Weitz‘s Admission for any indication, that may just end up being movie stardom. Perhaps even as something of a dramatic actor.

Although Admission is billed as a dramatic comedy, it represents a more serious turn than anything we’ve seen from Fey before. Fey plays Portia, a Princeton admissions officer who’s forced to confront a painful secret during what initially appears to be a routine recruiting trip. Paul Rudd also stars, as a former classmate of Portia’s who harbors a crush on her, and Nat Wolff plays a teenager who may have ties to her past. Watch the trailer after the jump.

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Every film director does some of the most important work of creating a movie in the editing room, but Terrence Malick is more famous for his editing process than most. Malick is known for re-writing films during the editing stage, and for being fearless when it comes to cutting scenes, and even whole characters. The Thin Red Line is notorious for the fact that Adrien Brody, once meant as the lead, was reduced to a supporting character, and Billy Bob Thornton’s narration was scrapped altogether.

Malick’s next film, To the Wonder, is a movie that features four primary roles, played by Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Olga Kurylenko, and Javier Bardem. But there were a good number of ancillary characters as well. “Were” is the operative word, as several have been cut, including Rachel Weisz. Read More »

After he finished The Tree of Life, director Terrence Malick shot a film that was referred to for quite some time as The Burial. The romance features Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Olga Kurylenko, Javier Bardem, Rachel Weisz, Barry Pepper, Michael Sheen, Amanda Peet, and Jessica Chastain, and has been the subject of much speculation, as is often the case with Malick’s films.

Now we’ve got one new detail: thanks to the MPAA, we know the film is now called To the Wonder, and has been rated R for “some sexuality/nudity.” Read More »

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