The first Hunger Games film was released one year ago this month. Feels longer than that, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s because so many other huge blockbusters have been released since then. But The Hunger Games, unlike those other blockbusters, continues with a sequel coming out this year.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire will be released on November 22 and Lionsgate has already started marketing for the film. We saw the Victors Posters and now individual character portraits are being released. To start, we see Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) and Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), all of whom are reprising their roles in the sequel.

UPDATE: We’ve added Cinna, played by Lenny Kravitz.
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In Jack the Giant Slayer, Bryan Singer engages in the time-honored tradition of taking a classic fairy tale and reshaping it to fit the times. Current trends being what they are, that means turning the film gritty and (relatively) realistic, with plenty of Lord of the Rings-style action.

Screenwriters David Dobkin and Darren Lemke take the basic touchstones of Jack and the Giant Beanstalk — the poor farm boy, the magic beans, the scary giants — but introduce several brand-new elements to the story. In this version, Jack (Nicholas Hoult) heads upward to rescue a beautiful princess (Eleanor Tomlinson) and stop her evil betrothed (Stanley Tucci) from taking over the kingdom. It’s a version of Jack that’s never been told in all the centuries that the character has been around. So why does it all feel so tiresomely familiar?

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Despite the seven-decade leap between Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there are a few stars from the former set to reprise their roles in the latter. That group includes Chris Evans as the title character, obviously, along with Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes and Toby Jones as Arnim Zola. It won’t, however, include Stanley Tucci, who revealed in a recent interview that his character Dr. Abraham Erskine won’t be in the sequel.

But contrary to previous reports, Tucci claims that Cap’s former flame Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) will make an appearance after all, as part of a flashback sequence. Hit the jump for more details.

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A movie I’m really curious to see, whenever the chance arises, is Gambit. Directed by Michael Hoffman, the movie is a remake of a 1966 romantic caper movie that originally starred Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine. This version was scripted some time ago by Joel and Ethan Coen, and finally shot with Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz in the lead roles, supported by Alan Rickman, Stanley Tucci, Tom Courtenay and Cloris Leachman.

The original version of the story features Caine as a slick professional thief who recruits MacLaine to help him accomplish a major theft. This version is a bit different, as it follows this path: “An art curator decides to seek revenge on his abusive boss by conning him into buying a fake Monet, but his plan requires the help of an eccentric and unpredictable Texas rodeo queen.” With the Coens scripting I’m hoping that some of the weird comic charm of the original is intact, or altered in an interesting fashion.

We don’t know much about how the project came out, but two posters have come online as part of the film’s international promotion, and there is also a very brief look at footage. It’s all below. Read More »

It’s weird to see a trailer for a film that feels like it has to throw out a recap definition of the Weather Underground, that group of radical leftists who in the early ’70s embraced violent tactics (riots, bomb attacks on banks and government buildings) in order to protest government actions and argue for revolution. But time marches on, and audiences don’t remember everything.

That said, the trailer for The Company You Keep actually argues that time does not march on, as it follows the efforts of a dogged young newspaper reporter (Shia LaBeouf) as he tracks an at-large WU member (Robert Redford) after the arrest of another formerly free suspect (Susan Sarandon). Redford directed based on a script by Lem Dobbs (The Limey, Haywire) and the trailer makes it look like a pastiche of classic Redford political thriller hits All the President’s Men, and Three Days of the Condor.

There’s an appeal to that classic thriller style, however, and the large cast (Julie Christie, Sam Elliott, Brendan Gleeson, Terrence Howard, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Brit Marling, Stanley Tucci, Nick Nolte, and Chris Cooper also appear) lends a real prestige feel to the proceedings. Check out the first trailer below. Read More »

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 »

When Lionsgate began the task of adapting The Hunger Games for the screen, the odds were never in its favor. The book was too violent, too well-known and too hard to translate because not only was it about kids killing each other, it would also have to create a whole new world.

I’m happy to report that director/co-writer Gary Ross has made the impossible possible. With The Hunger Games he has made a rousing, highly-emotional, and epic film that will be engaging for new audiences and give chills to true fans. It’s hard to imagine someone making a better adaptation of Suzanne Collins‘ popular novel.

Major set pieces all carry the emotional resonance and excitement they deserve. Every single performance pops with life and energy. When changes are made, they’re made to streamline the huge story. Even so, the film never feels slight. If anything, at 2 hours and 22 minutes, it might be too long and a little more subtle than most audiences are used to. It demands us to infer and enjoy the ride. And we oblige.  Read More »

Of course that last The Hunger Games poster wasn’t really the final one, no matter what the marketing folks claimed. But I’m not complaining. Two more banners have just dropped, promoting the film’s recently announced IMAX run. One is very much in line with the earlier poster, showing Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) taking aim with her trademark bow and arrow, while the other shows a uniformed Katniss in her training gear. In addition, we have a dozen new character photos of Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), Effie (Elizabeth Banks), Caesar (Stanley Tucci), and more, fresh from the official website. Check ‘em out after the jump.

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