Here’s the First Clip From ‘Downsizing,’ Alexander Payne’s New Comedy Starring Kristen Wiig


After premiering to rave reviews at the Venice Film Festival today, Alexander Payne has released a clip from his new feature, the sci-fi comedy Downsizing.

The movie is about the idea that if we were to shrink everyone down to be tiny, we’d be able to solve the problems of overpopulation and climate change. It stars Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Matt Damon, Jason Sudeikis, Hong Chau, and Udo Kier.

Payne has won two Oscars so far in his career, for the Best Adapted Screenplays of The Descendants and Sideways, both of which he was also nominated for Best Directing. He serves as writer, director, and producer for Downsizing—set to be a potential Oscar-worthy update on Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

The film is set for release on December 22 with Paramount Pictures. Take a look at the trailer below.


Watch the First Clip From Alexander Payne’s ‘Nebraska’ Before it Heads to Cannes

So far, it’s been a pretty great year for small-scale black and white films. There’s Noah Baumbach’s absolutely charming Frances Ha that debuts this Friday and next we’ll see Joss Whedon’s delightful adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. But premiering at Cannes this week is the follow-up to critically-acclaimed The Descendants from director Alexander Payne.

Starring an odd duo of Bruce Dern and Will Forte, Payne’s Nebraska, is father-and-son film about a "curmudgeonly old drunk who believes he’s won a million dollars from a sweepstakes and drags his son  on a roadtrip to collect the prize." And as one of our most anticipated films of the festival, we’re looking forward to reviews rolling in next week. But in the meantime, TheFilmStage has an exclusive first clip from the feature.
Here, we see Stacy Keach, the antagonist of the film, as she confronts Dern and Forte. Take a look below. 

‘Fargo’ Coming to FX as ‘Limited Series’

It’s a big day for FX, as this morning they announced a new sister channel, FXX (devoted to comedy, with It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia being the programming anchor). They’ve also announced the greenlight for a "limited series" based on Joel and Ethan Coen’s Oscar-winning Fargo

"Limited series," of course, is fancy, high-tech talk for miniseries; perhaps the latter moniker brings about memories of trashy, campy projects like North and South. But FX is hoping that this will pay off, and they’re putting a lot of money into the concept, and not just with a TV adaptation of Fargo. According to Deadline:

Additionally, FX president John Landgraf announced several high-profile limited/miniseries projects in development as the genre will become a cornerstone for FX’s sibling FXM (Fox Movie Channel): Grand Hotel from Sam Mendes, about a fictional terrorist plot in Paris; Sutton, from Alexander Payne and Michael De Luca, about the infamous bank robber; Mad Dogs, from The Shield‘s Shawn Ryan, based on the British black comedy/psychological thriller miniseries; and The Story Of Mayflower, from producers Paul Giamatti and Gil Netter (Life Of Pi).

I was dubious at first about the prospect of a Fargo miniseries (what, exactly, would be the point?), but FX seems to have its shit together and is tossing money to smart people. Still, let us not forget the failed Fargo TV series from 1997, which starred Edie Falco in the role orginated by Frances McDormand. The pilot was even directed by Kathy Bates! Let’s get those two women involved in this one, eh?

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2011 Oscar Nominations Go More or Less as Expected

With the speed of a lumbering engine powered by critical hubris and self-importance, the 84th Academy Awards nominations dropped into our newsfeeds this morning with predictable result. Did you know that people liked The Descendants this year, The Artist as well? Brad Pitt and George Clooney scored the requisite Hollywood heartthrob acting votes (they will lose to the no-name French guy who doesn’t talk), while Meryl Streep got her due for sticking around. Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese were also nominated, just like they always are. It’s another Oscar ceremony, y’all!

But not to sound cynical or anything. It’s somewhat surprising, though definitely nice, to see Terrence Malick get official recognition for The Tree of Life, even if there’s almost no way the hype-happy Academy will give their highest awards to a movie with more than a handful of inscrutably artsy scenes. Equally surprising on the other end is the inclusion of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, a movie that no one seemed to like but not for any inscrutably artsy reasons, simply because it’s kind of schmaltzy and not very good. Why not give the spot to something innocuous like Bridesmaids or even the last Harry Potter movie, if they’re trying to go commercial? Madness, it’s all madness. (I won’t even get started on Albert Brooks’ snub for Drive.) You can look at the important nominees below, or go to the Academy’s website for the full list.

Best Picture
The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse

Actor in a Leading Role
Demian Bichir – A Better Life, George Clooney – The Descendants, Jean Dujardian – The Artist, Gary Oldman – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Brad Pitt – Moneyball

Actress in a Leading Role
Glenn Close – Albert Nobbs, Viola Davis – The Help, Rooney Mara – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady, Michelle Williams – My Week with Marilyn

Michael Hazanavicius – The Artist, Alexander Payne – The Descendants, Martin Scorsese – Hugo, Woody Allen – Midnight in Paris, Terrence Malick – The Tree of Life

Actor in a Supporting Role
Kenneth Branaugh – My Week with Marilyn, Jonah Hill – Moneyball, Nick Nolte – Warrior, Christopher Plummer – Beginners, Max von Sydow – Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Actress in a Supporting Role
Berenice Bejo – The Artist, Jessica Chastain – The Help, Melissa McCarthy – Bridesmaids, Janet McTeer – Albert Nobbs, Octavia Spencer – The Help

Coen Brothers, Alexander Payne, & ‘The Thing’ Remake Breaking Ground

Three projects I’m excited about begin lensing this week (ostensibly), so I thought it’d be appropriate to wish them all well. The first is the Coen Brothers’ remake of Henry Hathaway’s 1969 John Wayne wagoneer, True Grit. This time around, Jeff Bridges takes over the role of crapulous sheriff Rooster Cogburn, hired by an impetuous young girl (Hailee Steinfeld) looking to avenge her father’s murder. I can’t say that the original — which earned Wayne an Academy Award for best actor — is exactly a favorite, but the idea of the Coens collaborating with Bridges for the first time since The Big Lebowski is sufficiently thrilling for me to get over any misgivings.

The next film that’s got me going is Alexander Payne’s The Descendants. I know very little about the Kaui Hart Hemmings novel on which it’s based, so the Publisher’s Weekly blurb will have to do.

Hemmings’ bittersweet debut novel stars besieged and wryly introspective attorney Matt King (Clooney), the land-rich descendant of Hawaiian royalty and American missionaries and entrepreneurs. He wrestles with the decision of whether to keep his swath of valuable inherited land or sell it to a real estate developer. But even more critical, Matt also has to decide whether to pull the plug on his wife, Joanie, who has been in an irreversible coma for 23 days following a boat-racing accident.

The big draw for me here is, of course, Payne, who hasn’t helmed a feature since Sideways. Fans of the Election and About Schmidt director have had only his contribution to the omnibus film Paris, Je t’aime to tide them over, though many (myself included) count that among his best works. Hopefully The Descendants will be worth the wait but, if nothing else, I’m happy to see that the underrated Matthew Lillard (SLC Punk) is getting some decent work again.

The last film I’m juiced about is the re-make of John Carpenter’s 1982 classic The Thing, itself a loose remake of the 1951 Howard Hawks picture, The Thing from Another World. Carpenter’s film is the kind of thing that really can’t be bested, so the filmmakers (producers Marc Abraham and Eric Newman, director Matthijs Van Heijningen Jr.) are making more of a companion piece rather than a straight-up remake. Fans of the original may recall that the “thing” came to infect Kurt Russell’s arctic weather station after wreaking havoc in a similar, nearby Norwegian camp. The new film aims to tell the story of that latter camp, only briefly visited in Carpenter’s film. It’s a canny move I think, one that wont ruffle the pic’s legions of devotees, who I’m guessing share my opinion that there’s really no replicating this (which is pretty NSFW owing to spectacular gore!):