Director Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns have spent the last couple years making genre films with prestige casts to explore modern anxieties in a unique manner. The Informant! tackled fears of impotence and mediocrity through the story of a guy who envisions himself as a powerful insder agent. Contagion charted paranoia about the ever-closer proximity in which we live with others, using a tagline that warned “Don’t talk to anyone. Don’t touch anyone.”

Now the two finish out an informal anxiety trilogy with Side Effects. The film wraps a thriller structure around a look at the insidious pharmaceutical industry, and the ways in which we rely on it, often blindly. A short new trailer for the film dropped today. It’s a brief edit, just a minute long, but the effect is much bigger than the short running time as a husband and wife (Channing Tatum and Rooney Mara) deal with the fallout of the woman’s use of medication. More than a few things are obscured in this trailer, but there’s enough here to get my attention. Read More »

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2012 saw a couple of high-profile fairy tale releases, but the trend is really just getting started. 2013 has a couple such titles due out in just the first three months, including Tommy Wirkola‘s Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters in January and Bryan Singer‘s Jack the Giant Slayer in March.

Of course, that’s not to say there aren’t promising non-fantasy movies due out as well. One we’re especially looking forward to is Side EffectsSteven Soderbergh‘s possibly final theatrical release. Check out new posters for all three films after the jump.

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Steven Soderbergh‘s retirement may be imminent, but over the past couple of years he’s been busy as ever. Where most directors might’ve opened one film between 2011 and 2012, he’s released three: Contagion, Haywire, and Magic Mike. Now, for his final (at least for now) act, he has the thriller Side Effects due out early next year, followed by his final effort, Behind the Candelabra.

Rooney Mara, in her first post-Dragon Tattoo role, stars as a woman struggling with anxiety over her husband’s (Channing Tatum) recent release from prison. She turns to a new brand of anti-depressant, prescribed by a doctor (Jude Law) who apparently harbors a not entirely professional interest in her. Before long, everything is spiraling badly out of control. Watch the trailer after the jump.

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Briefly: This is audience-shot video (by me) from a few rows back during the Black Lips set at the 2012 Austin City Limits festival. As the set kicked off, I could see Ryan Gosling off to the left side of the stage, behind the stacks. Then a small camera crew walked out, following Rooney Mara wearing a guitar. For one song — I don’t know the name of the tune — Mara mimed playing with the Black Lips as Terrence Malick watched nearby and the camera caught her work.

Will this stuff end up in Malick’s new film? Probably not, in all likelihood, so consider this a little addition to the internet-sourced DVD extras for that movie. Two videos follow, and because they’re shot on my phone from the audience they’re not the best. Malick is briefly visible in the second — he’s the guy in the big-brimmed hat behind the stacks on the left.

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We’ve already got the villainess (Angelina Jolie), the young princess (Elle Fanning), her father (Sharlto Copley), and the three fairies (Imelda Staunton, Lesley Manville, and Juno Temple), and now, at long last, we have the prince. Young Aussie actor Brenton Thwaites has just boarded Robert Stromberg‘s Maleficent, a Sleeping Beauty retelling seen from the perspective of its big bad.

Thwaites is almost totally unknown in the U.S., though he’s a little more famous in his native country. He first broke out with a starring role in the Australian drama series SLiDE, and has since done a stint on the long-running soap Home and Away. (As have the likes of Guy Pearce, Heath Ledger, Naomi Watts, and Chris Hemsworth before him.) He’ll next appear in the Lifetime Channel’s Blue Lagoon: The Awakening, but I’m betting that the Maleficent casting means this kid will be attracting some much higher-caliber projects soon. [Deadline]

After the jump, Olivia Wilde teams up with Spike Jonze.

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Briefly: There has been a change to the untitled new film that Spike Jonze is putting together. For his first feature since Where the Wild Things Are, Jonze wrote a script about a man (Joaquin Phoenix, presumably) who falls in love with the voice of a computer. Think of someone getting a bit too attached to Siri on the iPhone. Amy Adams and Samantha Morton are in the movie, and Carey Mulligan had planned to play a role as well.

Now Mulligan has had to back out, reportedly due to scheduling issues, and Rooney Mara (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) will take her place. Mara would lock the cast, and this would turn into the project she shoots after Steven Soderbergh’s The Bitter Pill, in which she plays the lead role. She’s also got a part in Terrence Malick’s untitled new movie, formerly called Lawless, opposite Ryan Gosling. Carey Mulligan, meanwhile, has got the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis and Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby this year, so she’s in a good place. [Variety]

One of the last two films Steven Soderbergh plans to shoot before retiring from directing is The Bitter Pill, a thriller scripted by Scott Z. Burns (The Informant!, Contagion) that follows a troubled and highly medicated woman (Rooney Mara) who is dealing with her anxiety pending the release of her husband (Channing Tatum) from prison.

The promising actress Vinessa Shaw (Two Lovers, pictured above, and 3:10 to Yuma) is now set to play the wife of one of Mara’s doctors, who will be portrayed by Jude Law. After The Bitter Pill, Soderbergh will move on to his Liberace biopic for HBO, and then he’s done. (So he says.) [Deadline]

After the break, Ray Liotta lives with chemistry and Stanley Tucci joins two Harry Potter veterans. Read More »

After taking a hiatus for the birth of her son, Natalie Portman is gearing up to get back to work. Portman, who won Best Actress at last year’s Academy Awards, has found her first post-Oscar roles in two upcoming Terrence Malick films, Knight of Cups and Lawless. Details on the two films are still scarce, but given the combination of Malick, Portman, and her co-stars on the two projects, I’m pretty excited all the same. More details after the jump.

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