Gus Van Sant‘s Promised Land became a surprise awards contender when Focus Features decided┬árelatively late in the game to give it an Oscar-qualifying limited run, but this first trailer suggests it’s more than worthy of the competition. Matt Damon stars as Steve, a likeable corporate salesman who arrives in a small rural town to pick up drilling rights. The locals, struggling to recover from the economic recession, initially appear more than eager to oblige — until a grassroots campaign against the purchase, led by Dustin (John Krsasinski) and local teacher Frank (Hal Holbrooks) starts picking up steam.

OK, I’ll admit that the synopsis sounds pretty dry when described that way. But between Van Sant’s steady direction and Damon and Krasinski’s engaging performances, Promised Land looks like a powerful, thought-provoking piece. Frances McDormand and Rosemarie DeWitt round out the excellent supporting cast. Check out the trailer after the jump.

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Johnny Depp and Rob Marshall are working to make a new version of The Thin Man, the Dashiell Hammett novel about drunk detective socialite Nick Charles, his charming young wife Nora and the unusual family mystery in which they become embroiled.

The question is: who plays Nora? Deadline says there is a shortlist that will begin to meet with Warner Bros. next week. Names on the list include Eva Green, Amy Adams, Emma Stone, Carey Mulligan, Rachel Weisz, Kristen Wiig, Emily Blunt and Isla Fisher. That is, just about every smart actress with free time in her schedule and an interest in starring opposite one of the few semi-legit movie stars in the business. And without knowing more about what Marshall, Depp and WB are specifically looking for, it seems pointless to try to play the guessing game based on a list that long.

The original The Thin Man, released in 1934, spawned a series of comic detective films and, later, even a TV show, and that precedent is fueling fire that the material might become a hit once again.

After the break, Albert Hughes’ film Motor City might finally have a lead, and Hal Holbrook joins Gus Van Sant’s new film Promised Land. Read More »

Michael Winterbottom sure does love author Thomas Hardy. He has made two adaptations of the author’s work — Jude and The Claim, neither sadly among the director’s best work — and now is at it again. He’s doing a version of Tess of the d’Urbervilles with the action transplanted to Rajasthan and Mumbai, and has cast Freida Pinto in the lead role. The film, which could end up being quite the dispiriting examination of rigid social and sexual rules, if it faithfully follows the novel, is called Trishna. Read More »

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Well, this is a lousy way to start the year. Over the last few months we’ve been watching as The Road director John Hillcoat attempted to kickstart a film adaptation of Matt Bondurant‘s novel The Wettest County in the World, which evidently was to be called The Promised Land on screen. Hillcoat had a script by Nick Cave and a solid cast attached, including Ryan Gosling and Shia LaBeouf.

Now, in a piece printed in the UK, Hillcoat says the film is dead as he expresses a dismal view of the film business in general. Read More »

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I’ve been keenly eyeing news on John Hillcoat‘s potential adaptation of The Wettest County in the World, scripted by Nick Cave based on the novel by Matt Bondurant. There’s been significant maybe/hopefully casting news for the film so far, but not much more. Hillcoat seems to have Shia LaBeouf and Ryan Gosling interested and/or attached, and there was word that other actors, like Scarlett Johansson and Michael Shannon, were interested. Now, based on some art from the American Film Market, it appears that the leading female role will go, in an ideal world, to Amy Adams. And the film may just have a slightly shorter and more generic title: The Promised Land. Read More »

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