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 »

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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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Briefly: Oliver Stone‘s new film is Savages, based on Don Winslow‘s novel of the same name, about two small-time pot growers (Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson) and their shared girlfriend O (Blake Lively). Their little world gets messed up when O is kidnapped by a Mexican drug cartel as a means of strong-arming the two guys into working for the cartel.

This first image from the film shows Lively as she’s held by the cartel, where she is evidently smoked out in a rather menacing way by one primary henchman, played by Benicio Del Toro. The rest of the cast is notable: Uma Thurman is O’s mom; Salma Hayek is the cartel boss and John Travolta is a DEA agent. Emile Hirsch and Demián Bichir have roles as well. Savages doesn’t hit until September 28, so we might have to wait a while for a trailer. [Universal via Empire]

Scarlett Johansson may seem like an unlikely lead for a Judd Apatow film, but in this context her casting actually makes a lot of sense. Johansson has signed on to star in Can a Song Save Your Life?, which will be written and directed by John Carney (Once) and produced by Apatow. The film follows “a washed-up A&R man who forms a passionate bond with a young singer-songwriter (Johansson) from out of town.”

The project calls for Johansson to sing, which shouldn’t be a problem for the actress. Johansson is in fact a professional singer, having released an album of Tom Waits covers titled Anywhere I Lay My Head back in 2008 and a collaboration with Pete Yorn called Break Up in 2009. Though the male lead has yet to be cast, Mark Ruffalo and Jim Carrey have been rumored as possibilities. (FWIW, I vote Ruffalo.) Shooting on the film will begin in New York City next year. [The Playlist]

After the jump, new gigs for the stars of Twilight, Wizards of Waverly Place, and the late-’90s/early-’00s teen alien show Roswell. Gosh, remember that?

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Universal just added one entry to the 2012 Oscar race and two to the 2013 Summer box office bonanza. They just announced that Oliver Stone‘s adaptation of the Don Winslow novel Savages, starring Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson, Emile Hirsch, Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, Uma Thurman and John Travolta (wow), will bow on September 28, 2012, the sequel to the 2010 hit Despicable Me, cleverly called Despicable Me 2 for now, will hit theaters July 3, 2013 and the Joseph Kosinski-directed sci-fi epic Oblivion (which we’ve covered in excruciating detail) starring Tom Cruise will be released July 19, 2013.

Those last two are the first movies to get release dates in the July 2013. Get em while they’re hot!

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