Not only is Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life one of the most beautiful films of the year, it’s also sparked some of the most fascinating online discourse. Critics are fairly divided, with some arguing that “The Tree Of Life has a vision that makes most movies look like crude stick drawings,” while others opine, “Tree of Life? Tree of sanctimonious mopey male egotism disguised as a search for meaning, more like.” Overall, though, the film has a high ranking on Rottentomatoes and has performed respectably at the box office.

But one thing that I’ve heard numerous times is that Sean Penn is wasted in this film. And a recent interview that Penn gave seems to affirm that the strong-willed actor himself believes his character was not put to good use. Hit the jump to read his comments.
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Here’s a massive post-weekend catchup casting roundup, with a headlining turn from Jean-Claude van Damme. How can you resist the Muscles From Brussels? Answer: you can’t. Just give in to his suave, over-confident appeal. After the break you’ll find details about:

  • JCVD taking part in a sci-fi film called UFO,
  • Danny Glover joining the cast of a different sci-fi thriller, Mentryville,
  • Sullivan Stapleton becoming the latest member of the Gangster Squad,
  • Nico Tortorella from Scream 4 joining Guy Pearce and Amy Ryan in an indie,
  • and What to Expect When You’re Expecting adds more.

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Here’s a lovers and spouses collection of casting news, leading off with a nice change of pace report of an actor being cast as the ‘love interest’ for a major actress, rather than the other way around. After the break you’ll find:

  • Matt Dillon will woo Anette Bening in Imogene,
  • The Killing actress Mireille Enos joins Gangster Squad,
  • Stephanie Szostak cozies up to Ryan Reynolds in RIPD,
  • and some of the Jersey Shore knuckleheads appear with famous fictional whackos The Three Stooges.

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Glee star Darren Criss has landed a part in Imogene, a dark comedy by American Splendor directors Shari Springer Bergman and Robert Pulcini. The Michelle Morgan-penned script revolves around a New York playwright (Kristen Wiig) who fakes a suicide in order to get her ex-boyfriend’s attention. Instead of winning him back, however, she winds up forced to move in with her gambling-addicted “tacky Jersey Shore mother” (Annette Bening).

Criss will play “a younger love interest” who catches the eye of Wiig’s character, but let’s be real — the really intriguing bit of info here is the fact that Bening will be, as Vulture put it, “channel[ing] Snooki” to play “the mother who’s a little inappropriate all the time.” Shooting for the project will begin in New York City this summer. [ThePlaylist]

After the jump, Frank Grillo picks up two new roles on either side of the law, and Patricia Clarkson gets ready to scare the living daylights out of Ron Fucking Swanson.

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Emma Stone in Talks For ‘Gangster Squad’

Briefly: One of Emma Stone‘s biggest breaks was being cast in Ruben Fleischer‘s Zombieland. Superbad was a good introduction for many audiences, but Zombieland led to Easy A and Spider-Man. Now she’s likely to re-team with the director for his true-life 1940s LA cops and mobsters film Gangster Squad. Read More »

Last season, FX’s boxing drama Lights Out entered the canon of brilliant-but-cancelled television series, when piss-poor ratings brought about its demise despite plenty of critical love. Thankfully, things seem to be working out better for the series’ acclaimed star, Holt McCallany, than they did for the show.

The actor is now in talks for Gangster Squad, Ruben Fleischer‘s highly anticipated (well, by us) period cop drama. McCallany would be joining an absolutely top-notch cast which already includes Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Anthony Mackie, Michael Peña, and Giovanni Ribisi, with Bryan Cranston in negotiations. How can you not get excited with a cast like that?

Based on a series of articles by Paul Lieberman, Gangster Squad tells the story of an LAPD task force which was formed to fight organized crime and corruption in 1940s Los Angeles. Gosling, Brolin, Mackie, and Cranston will be on the LAPD side; Penn will play real-life mob boss Mickey Cohen. McCallany is eyeing the part of Cohen’s bodyguard. Production for Gangster Squad will begin September 7. [Variety]

After the jump, Julia Stiles and America Ferrera team up, Dennis Quaid gets a much younger wife, and Jennifer Love Hewitt and Ivan Sergei find love.

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The first photos we saw from Paolo Sorrentino‘s This Must Be the Place, with Sean Penn as a Robert Smith-like rock star, were a little bit worrisome. Then we saw some footage, and I thought it looked pretty great. Reviews out of Cannes were not kind, however, and we seemed to be back to square one, or perhaps worse. Is the film, in which Sean Penn’s character searches for the Nazi who tormented his father during the Holocaust, a strange experiment, or an experimental failure? I still don’t know, but this trailer definitely suggests a few things. Check it out below.  Read More »

We’ve got classic cops fighting notorious gangsters, giant mechs fighting notorious monsters, and a despot and his double fighting…um…the boundaries of comedy? Something along those lines. After the break, check out details of the following three recent casting breaks:

  • Giovanni Ribisi joins the impressive cast of Gangster Squad.
  • Rinko Kikuchi takes the female lead in Pacific Rim.
  • J.B. Smoove is added to The Dictator. Read More »

Anthony Mackie Joins ‘Gangster Squad’

Briefly: Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer is just not messing around when it comes to the cast of his new film, Gangster Squad. The film, scripted by LA cop Will Beall and formerly reffered to as Tales From the Gangster Squad, is based on a series of articles in the LA Times that recounted efforts of a ’40s LAPD squad to curtail the influx of organized crime in Los Angeles.

Sean Penn (as Mickey Cohen), Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling and Michael Peña were already in the cast and now Anthony Mackie has joined, too. He’s been rumored for this one (and for World War Z), but now he’s locked Gangster Squad. He’ll play Rocky Washington, ex-cop and the first black lieutenant in the LAPD, who is ultimately recruited to work as part of the gangster squad. Just when conventional wisdom says that a major studio will never fund an adult-oriented film like this, we get a period piece, with this cast. Cross your fingers that it works better than Public Enemies… [Variety]

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

Briefly: Good news for film fans in the UK who want to see the new Terrence Malick film: after Icon Entertainment totally botched release plans for The Tree of Life by announcing a plan to open it in London ahead of the Cannes premiere, Fox Searchlight and int’l right holders Summit International got more than a bit angry, and we didn’t know when the movie would open in the UK. Some behind the scenes legal wrangling no doubt went on, but the bottom line is now clear: financier Bill Pohlad and his River Road Entertainment has sold UK rights to Fox Searchlight. The company will open the film in the UK on July 8, which is the same date the film goes wide in the US.

We don’t have any word on the planned Australian or New Zealand release for the film, however. (Icon also had rights for those countries.) But this is a good step. [Deadline]