Aronofsky Portman Black Swan

We talk all the time here about new projects for our favorite directors, but today we’re going to talk about two films that have just been dropped by their respective helmers.

According to new reports, Darren Aronofsky has walked away from the thriller Red Sparrow, after circling the picture for months. Meanwhile, Oliver Stone is kicking off his MLK weekend by announcing that he is no longer making an MLK biopic. Hit the jump for updates on both projects.

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Oliver Stone is going back to his favorite subject matter: influential American personalities, particularly those of the past middle century. He’s already chronicled JFK and Nixon (and George W. Bush) and now Stone is in early talks to make a film about Martin Luther King, Jr.

This is one of a few different MLK films that have been in development recently, but the DreamWorks and Warner Bros. co-production have the all-important approval of the King family in addition to the influence of producer Steven Spielberg. The script is by  Kario Salem (Chasing Mavericks) who is reworking a draft by Ronald Harwood (The PianistAustralia).

If things work out, Stone will make the film, and he’ll have his Any Given Sunday actor Jamie Foxx in the starring role.

Update: This week, Stone confirmed that he and Foxx are moving forward with the MLK film. He told the Wall St. Journal “we’re looking for a way to relate to this extraordinary man.”

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Breaking Bad - Felina

One week after Walter White concluded his journey on Breaking Bad, people are still turning over that finale in their minds, and coming to very different conclusions.

On one side, we have the artistic director of the One World Symphony in New York City, who so liked the series that he plans to adapt it into an opera. On the other is filmmaker Oliver Stone, who complained that “Felina” was too violent. Hit the jump for more on these very different Breaking Bad reactions.

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In July, Oliver Stone is going back to his lurid daylight noir style (think U-Turn) with his adaptation of Don Winslow‘s novel Savages. The film features Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson as a couple of pot growers whose business ends up in the crosshairs of a more powerful Mexican drug lord (Salma Hayek). Her henchman (Benicio Del Toro) kidnaps the guys’ shared girlfriend (Blake Lively), which leads to a pretty intense confrontation.

After the break, we’ve got an exclusive behind the scenes video showing the setup and filming of one of the movie’s action setpieces. We’ve also dropped in some of the other videos from the film that have hit in the past couple days. Read More »

Thursday afternoon at CinemaCon, Universal Pictures presented footage, clips and trailers from their upcoming 2012 line-up and beyond. Included in the presentation were clips from Snow White and the Huntsman, Oliver Stone‘s Savages, Seth MacFarlane‘s TED, The Bourne Legacy, Les Miserables, Judd Apatow‘s This Is 40, Carl Erik Rinsch‘s 47 Ronin, Joseph Kosinski‘s Oblivion, and R.I.P.D.. Per usual, I recorded a video blog after the presentation with Alex from FirstShowing and Frosty from Collider. We give our reactions to the footage without spoilers or in depth descriptions. Watch the video blog now embedded after the jump.

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Yesterday we saw the first bit of footage from Oliver Stone‘s new film Savages, in which the girlfriend (Blake Lively)of two pot growers (Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch) is kidnapped by a Mexican drug cartel, the better to get said growers to work for the bigger outfit.

The film features the sort of cast you’d expect to see Stone pull together: in addition to the leads there are Benicio Del Toro, Uma Thurman, John Travolta, Demian Bichir, Salma Hayek, Joel David Moore and Emile Hirsch, and it is shot in a style reminiscent of a few of his lurid ’90s entries such as U-Turn and Natural Born Killers. (Speaking of ’90s films, is Salma Hayek cosplaying as Thurman’s Pulp Fiction character Mia Wallace?)

Now we’ve got the full trailer, which sets up the story, offers a little bit of sex and violence, and shoves a knife through John Travolta. Check it out below. Read More »

Think back to the Oliver Stone films of the 1990s. Not so much JFK and Nixon; more like U-Turn, Natural Born Killers and Any Given Sunday. Those films had a stylized, hyper-saturated color palette that clearly gave Tony Scott some ideas. For instance, on U-Turn, Stone’s cinematographer Robert Richardson shot on reversal film stock — which becomes a transparent positive when developed, rather than a traditional negative — and then cross-processed it as negative film, increasing contrast and color saturation. Tony Scott and Daniel Mindel used the same technique for Domino almost a decade later.

Point is, Stone seems to have gone back to that exaggerated look for his new film Savages, which adapts Don Winslow‘s novel about two small-time pot dealers (Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch) whose mutual girlfriend (Blake Lively) is kidnapped in an attempt to strong-arm them into working with a Mexican drug cartel, which counts Salma Hayek and Benicio Del Toro amongst its members. John Travolta is also in the film; Stone borrowed him from Tony Scott.

If you saw the first poster for the film when Pete ran it in Page 2 yesterday you’ll know something about the look Stone is going for. But now there is a brief montage of footage showing off that stylish, colorful look the director first relied on almost 20 years ago. I have to say, I like it quite a bit. Read More »

Good news for those eager to find out exactly why Benicio del Toro is picking on Blake Lively in that first image from Savages: Universal has just shifted the opening date for Oliver Stone‘s latest from September 28 to July 6. Savages is the only film currently scheduled to go up against Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man, which hits three days before on Tuesday, July 3. It’s a bold move on the studio’s part, but it may also be a smart one — Savages could be ideal counter-programming to the comedies, actioners, and superhero flicks due out around the same time this summer.

Based on a book by Don Winslow, Savages stars Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson as a pair of small-time pot dealers who get roped into working for a Mexican cartel that kidnaps their shared girlfriend (Lively). The impressive cast also includes Uma Thurman, Salma Hayek, John Travolta, Demián Bichir, and Emile Hirsch.

After the jump, new release dates for Clint Eastwood’s Trouble With the Curve, Drafthouse Films’ The FP, and lesser known Oscar nominees Bullhead (also from Drafthouse Films) and Chico & Rita.

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