That’s Quite A Cast There, ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’

So, today we learned a lot of new things about Wes Anderson’s early-20th-century European romp, The Grand Budapest Hotel, which now has a distributor (Anderson fans Fox Searchlight) and something of a plot. In addition to IMDb’s lone sentence about the tribulations of Mr. Gustave, "the hotel’s perfectly-composed concierge," Screen Daily has a bit more substantial information. 

 

"The Grand Budapest Hotel tells of a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars and his friendship with a young employee who becomes his trusted protégé. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting, the battle for an enormous family fortune and the slow and then sudden upheavals that transformed Europe during the first half of the 20th century."

Wartime friendships? A dysfunctional family? Curious protégés of crazy rich white dudes? Stolen art? Did I mention a dysfunctional family? This is sounding pretty Wes-tacular. But even more characteristically Wes Anderson is the cast, which includes all his favorite pals, and a lot of other marquee names that will probably make this post read like it was done just for SEO purposes.

Returning Anderson-movie alumni include Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson Jason Schwartzman, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel, Jeff Goldblum and Willem Dafoe, as well as (deep breath) Jude Law, Ralph Fiennes, Tom Wilkinson, Bob Balaban, Saoirse Ronan, Mathieu Amalric, F. Murray Abraham and Tony Revolori. Whew. That’s a lot of people. That’s, like, more than are going to fit on one movie poster. Is there going to be some kind of Hunger Games to determine who gets marquee billing or are they going to try and fit everyone? Wow.

[via Indiewire]

See New Photos From the Set of Wes Anderson’s ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’

After Moonrise Kingdom swept people away with its whimsical meditation on first love, the sartorially-minded autuer has been working hard on his next ensemble feature, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Wes Anderson and his slew of handsome stars have been shooting in Germany since the new year and whatever sector of Wes’ world this film falls into, he’s surely rounded up quite a cast. With Alexandre Desplat scoring the film, the synopsis tells us that The Grand Budapest Hotel will follow, "The troubles and tribulations of Mr. Gustave, who serves as the hotel’s perfectly composed concierge." Everyone from Bill Murray and Jeff Goldblum to Ralph Fiennes and Adrien Bordy to Willem Dafoe and Harvey Keitel are in the mix, and thanks to The Film Stage we now have a nice roundup of images from on set, as well as a behind the scenes clip. Enjoy.

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Ralph Fiennes and Mads Mikkelsen Join ‘Snowtown’ Director Justin Kurzel’s ‘Our Kind of Traitor’

Back in January, we reported that Justin Kurzel—director of the terrifyingly real drama Snowtown—would be at the helm of Our Kind of Traitor with Ewan McGregor leading the cast. As the sophomore effort from the talented Australian director, the film’s script will be penned by Hossein Amini, scribe for Drive and Snow White and the Hunstman. It was rumored earlier in the year that Jessica Chastain, as well as some other Hollywood heavyweights would be joining the cast but until today nothing was a sure bet. But as of now it appears Ralph Fiennes and Mads Mikkelsen are in final talks to join the picture. Can we get an amen? Those two together. With McGregor. Come on. 

Our Kind of Traitor tells the story of "an English couple who get mixed up with a Russian businessman who turns out to be an oligarch, and one of the world’s biggest money launderers. They get caught up in his plans to defect and are soon positioned between the Russian Mafia and the British Secret Service, neither of whom they can trust.” McGregor will be playing one half of the English couple with Mikkelson as the money-laundering Russian, and Fiennes as a UK government advisor. 

The film is set to begin shooting this summer in Moscow, Marrakech, Paris, London, Switzerland, for a $35 million fee. Let’s hope for a swift shoot and speedy 2014 release. 

Ewan McGregor Joins the Cast of ‘Snowtown’ Director Justin Kurzel’s Next Film

Watching director Justin Kurzel’s Snowtown feels a bit like being subjected to the Ludovico technique. It is painful, a bit nauseating, as these haunting and disturbing images crawl under your skin, you cannot turn away. But it isn’t a violent or perverse film for provocation’s sake—the story is real, and for that, you feel even more ill at ease. However, his chilling debut showcased his talents as a filmmaker, especially one that could take on a very weighty crime thriller with finesse and a subtle fright that made you actually invest in the people committing the heinous crimes and appreicate how well a story like this could be told. And as it was announced last spring, Kurzel’s sophomore film, an adaptation of John Le Carré’s Our Kind of Traitor has been in the works. Although his last film was populated with unknowns, it was rumored earlier in the year that his new project would feature some of Hollywood’s best dramamtic talent—from Jessica Chastain to Ralph Fiennes. But as of late, the first actor officially on board looks to be Ewan McGregor, according to Baz Bamigboye.

Our Kind of Traitor follows, "an English couple who get mixed up with a Russian businessman who turns out to be an oligarch, and one of the world’s biggest money launderers. They get caught up in his plans to defect and are soon positioned between the Russian Mafia and the British Secret Service, neither of whom they can trust.” Drive writer Hossei Amini will be at the helm penning the script  and presumably McGregor willl be playing one half of the English couple. When I spoke to Kurzel last year, we touched on the nature of violence in film and his affinity for the crime drama, saying “ I feel so many films that are dealing with violence, portraying it onscreen in a heroic way, and that’s fair enough if you’re making a genre film, but if I’m making a film about real events the violence has to be confronting in a way. But the audience experiences it through the character, and it’s far from titillating. I never wanted it to be exotic. What I found so horrific in the case was how the violence came out of a banality and a domesticity.” Kurzel’s second directorial effort will be an exciting one to watch so in the meantime, we’ll be anticipating just who joins the cast next. 

Here’s the Trailer for Mike Newell’s ‘Great Expectations’

For my money there’s no greater modern-day adaptation of classic literature than Alfonso Cuarón’s 1998 version of Great Expectations starring a handsome Ethan Hawke and a not-yet-oversaturated Gwyneth Paltrow. There was also a scary Robert De Niro and and even more haunting Anne Bancroft, and don’t forget about the equally terrifying score featuring the la la las of Tori Amos. (Second place, if you’re wondering, is She’s the Man, the teenage version of Twelfth Night starring Amanda Bynes, naturally.) That doesn’t, of course, mean that the classic Charles Dickens story of love, revenge, and redemption can’t hit the big screen again, which is why Mike Newell is bringing it back in all its British costume drama glory.

Newell is the director of such celebrated movies like Four Weddings and a Funeral and Donnie Brasco (as well as the less-celebrated Pushing Tin and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time). But based on the trailer alone, it looks like it’ll be a lush, faithful adaptation, one that boasts the star talents of Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter (you think she just shows up on set in her own clothes?) and relative unknowns Jeremy Irvine and Holliday Grainger. Get ready for Oscar Buzz Season, everyone!

Your Definitive Guide To Casting On ‘American Horror Story’ Season Two

Casting news can get so tedious, especially when you couldn’t give a crap about the latest Breaking Hunger Potter Twilight Games franchise. But a casting update I can get behind is season two of American Horror Story, which will be set in an all-new setting and feature an almost all-new cast. Creator Ryan Murphy dished to The Hollywood Reporter that season two will be "fun, sexy and baroque" and set on an East Coast mental institution for the criminally insane. So who can we expect to see onscreen?

  • Jessica Lange (who played Constance the neighbor): Lange will play a nun who runs the East Coast mental institution, spars with patients, and is in love with her hunky boss.   
  • Other season one actors including Zachary Quinto (Chad the spurned gay lover), Evan Peters (Tate the creepy boyfriend), Sarah Paulson (medium Billie Dean) and Lily Rabe (Nora the sad mom): These season one cast member will return to the series, but will play entirely new roles. The only thing we know about Quinto’s role is that he’s been signed on as the series’ "co-lead" along with Lange. #2
  • Adam Levine: Yes, we’re going to learn the hard way if Maroon 5 frontman and co-host of The Voice can actually act in something longer than a music video. Murphy said the singer needs to "play a sexy guy" and will appear with actress as two "gritty" characters called The Lovers.  
  • Chloe Sevigny: The indie darling will play a "nymphomaniac" named Shelly who will "go head to head" with Lange’s nun character.
  • James Cromwell: The Artist actor will join the cast as a doctor at the mental institution named Dr. Arden.
  • Ralph Fiennes: The hunky actor is "in talks" to play Jessica Lange’s boss and "lust object," according to NYmag.com’s Vulture blog.  
  • Chris Zylka: The young actor has just appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man and the recently cancelled Secret Circle. He’s now headed to season two in an as-of-yet unclear role, but only indicated he gets screentime with Lange. 
  • Britne Olford: The young actress recently played Cadie in the American version of Skins and will join the season two cast as a character named Alma.
  • Lizzie Brochere: The French actress will play a "nemesis" to Jessica Lange’s character on season two. According to TV Line, her role was described in casting as a femme fatale, "extremely sexual and dangerous wild-child sexpot" and compared to Angelina Jolie’s character in Girl Interrupted. Sounds like a perfect part for a French actress known for her racy work.

So there you have it: an exhaustive, but surely not  yet complete, list of who we can expect in season two. In the meantime, where are you all getting your psychosexual comedic drama?

Phantom Menace: Anticipating the ‘Harry Potter’ Prequel Trilogy

As much as Harry Potter fans are excited to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, that joy is inevitably alloyed with nostalgic melancholy. It all ends! Says that right on the movie poster. But you don’t have to worry. Lots of us felt the same way about Return of the Jedi, back in the day. But we were so lucky! And you could be too, when, in a decade or so, J.K. Rowling’s fevered brain will have fermented enough in a soup of infinite money and power that she figures a prequel series would be an excellent idea. It worked for Darth Vader, right? Right? Spoilers ahead, I guess. Nerds.

When he’s not dabbling in his Black Swan-style wand classes, Voldemort thespian Ralph Fiennes seems to think there’s a lot to love about the evil wizard. Well, maybe not love exactly, but some cores of not-evil (“loneliness”) in there somewhere. That’s beside the point here, because even if Voldemort is a total bastard from cradle to grave to second grave, there’s still plenty of other lovin’ going on in that backstory. You know the love I’m talking about, right? Oh yes you do. GAY WIZARD LOVE.

Rowling eventually admitted what fans had suspected, i.e. that wizard schoolmaster Dumbledore is gay as a piñata. He fell in love with his “partner” from younger days, a power bottom named Grindelwald who served as a sort of Voldemort junior until Dumbledore put him into wizard jail forever. Voldemort eventually killed Grindelwald for his secret meatball recipe or something. Did Voldemort know Grindelwald and Dumbledore used to be an item? Was this a magical hate crime? On-topic for our times.

The important thing is we have plenty of backstory for a movie or three about what was going on long before the Harry Potter stuff. I mean, the eight movies are already 55% flashback to begin with, so why not just go for the retro gusto. Prequel movie #1 is Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s tender exploration of the sexy arts, and throw in some prophecies and such about Voledmort (prophecies are excellent ways to literally broadcast where the plot is going to go); the two older wizards break up at the end, right before they’re really going to start boning constantly in front of everybody, like those guys did in that recent X-Men movie. Repression! Prequel #2 has those two guys fighting and working out their denial issues while some more prophecies happen. I guess Harry’s parents and Snape and all those other people can start appearing as kids now. Kid Voldemort appears.Then Movie #3 has the first war situation, climaxing with Voldemort doing that scar to baby Harry’s head which gets the rest of the movies started. I probably mixed up the chronology here, so feel free to note corrections in the comments of another website.

Anyway, the revisionist sequels might not happen like that at all, but rest assured, they will happen. Who will be the Jar-Jar Binks of this future/past Harry Potter? Tough call given there are already five or six Jar-Jar Binkses in the current movies, and only half of them are CGI. Regardless, enjoy the time between now and then, when we can all still enjoy the welcome delusion that this is all, finally, over at last.

Ricky Gervais’s ‘Cemetery Junction’ Goes Straight to DVD

Say it ain’t so! The latest film by comedy legends Rickey Gervais and Stephen Merchant—co-creators of The Office—is going straight to DVD when it comes out in the US on August 17th. The film, which is titled Cemetery Junction, is Gervais’s first foray into drama. With a fine cast that includes some of England’s standout talent, like Ralph Fiennes, Matthew Goode, and Emily Watson, Cemetery Junction is the story of three young men seeking to break out of the stifling confines of small town England in the coal-mining 1970s. Gervais described it as his Saturday Night Fever.

Cemetery Junction already opened in England. Although the reviews haven’t been stellar (it currently stands at 64% on Rotten Tomatoes), it’s hardly been an unmitigated disaster. Why no theatrical release? Well, to be fair, neither of Gervais’s previous films have lit up the US box office, with 2008’s Ghost Town earning a domestic take of $13 million and 2009’s The Invention of Lying soaking up about $18 million. Both saw a reasonably wide release in about 1,500-1,700 theaters.

Still, even though Gervais hasn’t been a consistent box office draw in the US, it’s surprising that Cemetery Junction isn’t even getting a limited release. Really, Columbia, you’re not even going to test the waters with this one? It’s a sad day when The Human Centipede sees a wide release and a Ricky Gervais film doesn’t. Here’s the trailer:

‘Clash of the Titans’ Reviews: Sam Worthington Gets Speared

No one is going to see Clash of the Titans this weekend for the acting (they’re going for the Kraken, duh), but it would be nice if Sam Worthington could tap into that well of charisma he displayed so effortlessly in Terminator Salvation (and to a lesser extent Avatar) instead of letting the CGI, 3-D, the Neeson, and the Fiennes, do all the heavy lifting. Russell Crowe has shown time and again that it’s possible to put the ‘act’ into ‘action.’ Maybe it’s green screen fatigue, and Worthington just needs to be around real people again, but the early reviews are not being kind to our Jake Sully. So, while everyone else is doing iPad review roundups, here’s one for Clash of the Titans.

● “If only it had a zestier hero! Perseus, played by Avatar’s Sam Worthington, is a Hercules/Christ figure, a half-man/half-god (unbeknownst to him, he’s the son of Zeus) who leads a tribe of soldiers in revolt against the gods. To do so, he must seize the greatness within himself, but Worthington shows less personality than Harry Hamlin did. He looks smashing in his Russell Crowe gladiator haircut, but unlike Crowe, he’s volatile without any gravitas. When he has to show fury, it’s token ”fury”—fiery resolve on antidepressants. He’s like a handsome statue that’s still coming to life.”—Entertainment Weekly

● “Okay, no one goes to something called Clash of the Titans with the expectation of meaningful drama or deep introspection, but would it be too much to ask that the lead character have a personality? Sam Worthington has become the go-to actor for big budget spectacles – this is his third in less than a year (following Terminator: Salvation and Avatar) – and he continues to show as much range as the special effects with which he is surrounded.—Reel Views

● “Worthington is emerging as the new Charlton Heston – an actor big enough to fill a big screen with his bigness. But he plays every role the same–,always a crewcut Marine, here battling beasties in the distant past. His out-of-place haircut and unflattering hemline do the Terminator/Avatar star no favors.”—Orlando Sentinel

● “Worthington plays Perseus as a variance of his Marine character in Avatar, which is patently dullsville, and the whole of the film feels like a goofy lark.”—Austin Chronicle

● “As Medusa-slaying hero Perseus, Sam Worthington is little more than sirloin in a skirt, rocking a jarringly broad Aussie accent and a fixed scowl that suggests exposure to a Gorgon occurred even before the cameras rolled.”—SFX Magazine