Richard Linklater to Hit the Appalachian Trail With Robert Redford and Nick Nolte

Sundance darling Richard Linklater is having a busy year already with his upcoming Before Midnight hitting theaters in May. Linklater has always been the kind of director who keeps a busy schedule, so it’s no surprise that he’s already linked to helm another film, this time featuring film legends Robert Redford and Nick Nolte in an adaptation of Bill Bryson’s travel memoir, A Walk in the Woods, Following two old friends who make a plan to walk the Appalachian Trail, the film will blend a bit of Linklater’s tried and true walking-and-talking style, this time setting the scene in the American wilderness rather than luxe European cities. It’ll be kind of like Into the WIld, but much funnier and with a much happier ending.

[via LA Times]

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Robert Redford Addresses Guns In Film At Sundance

Robert Redford briefly touched on guns in Hollywood as he opened the 2013 Sundance Film Festival on Thursday, pondering whether the entertainment industry is overreliant on gun violence.

“I think it’s appropriate and overdue to have this dialogue,” Redford said told the opening night crowd, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “I have a question, though. I was driving in L.A. recently, and I saw two billboards that featured guns prominently. It made me wonder, ‘Does my business think guns will help sell tickets?’ It’s worth asking that question.”

Festival director John Cooper added that Sundance 2013 is screening a film that touches on gun violence directly. Valentine Road is a documentary by Marta Cunningham about the 2008 murder of eighth-grader Lawrence (Larry) King, 14, by a classmate Brandon McInerney, 15, during their English class in Oxnard, California. The film explores the lives of both boys — Larry, an effemenite, possibly gay kid, and Brandon, who thought Larry had a crush on him. 

Cooper added that Valentine Road was selected for Sundance prior to the December 14 massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. He continued, “Newtown and the gun-control dialogue going on will change what the documentary means to people at the festival. But for us, a truth is a truth, and it’s about allowing our filmmakers to tell a deeper story.”

You can watch Redford and other festival organizers at the opening of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival below:

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Not Even The New York Critics Circle Can Convince Me To See ‘Lincoln’

Dear America, stop trying to get me to watch this movie. Do not want. DO NOT WANT. (We’re still talking like anthropomorphized cats on the internet, right?) I can’t imagine any other movie I’d rather see less than a long one about Our Greatest President starring The Greatest Living Actor Who Is Better At Playing Americans Than Most Living American Actors. Not even you, you group of New York film critics, are going to do this to me.

Sure, they didn’t give Lincoln top honors this year (they go, of course, to Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, the trailer for which I have seen a few times, and a film about which I know nothing except that it’s about Osama bin Laden and has Chris Pratt’s attempting to be serious-goofy rather than goofy-goofy and Jessica Chastain looks grumpy), but the Steven Spielberg Joint got two major awards for its leading actors: Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field. And look, I love Sally Field as much as the next gay, but I’d much rather see her revving up some union workers or dealing her flippant diabetic daughter than being sad and crazy and wearing too many ruffles.

Oh, and Tony Kushner, you say? Yeah, yeah, yeah. But unless Lincoln is about Roy Cohn dying of AIDS or singing African-American maids, I’m not interested. Because, honestly, the best part about Lincoln is all the stuff that happened after he died, and not even Robert Redford could make that story appealing. Plus, I’ve saved room in my brain for only one costume drama this season, and that will be Les Misérables. Obviously. So stop telling me to see Lincoln, you guys. It’s not gonna happen.

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Oscar Buzz Watch: Ben Affleck Is Definitely Getting Oscar-Nominated

Ben Affleck is definitely getting Oscar-nominated for Argo. When it opens in theaters next weekend, and you make it your compromise movie because nobody can agree on Pitch Perfect or Seven Psychopaths (and no one wants to see Here Comes the Boom, come on), you should watch it with the full knowledge that Ben Affleck is a stone-cold certainty to be nominated come January, for either Best Actor or (more likely) Best Director. It’s just absolutely going to happen.

You can try to pretend it won’t happen—maybe you’d rather it wouldn’t? Maybe you’re still holding on to some of that Bennifer resentment. And who could blame you? He was actually kissing her butt in the "Jenny from the Block" video! That’s how much they thought the public wanted to see them! Or maybe yours is a more high-minded resistance. Maybe it was that five-year-or-so stretch in the 2000s where he made an unbroken string of terrible movies, roughly from Bounce in 2000 through Surviving Christmas in 2004 (we’re being kind and granting his Golden Globe-nominated role in Hollywoodland as a streak-breaker. You’re under no obligation to do so). For a long while, Ben Affleck was about as far from Oscar material as you could possibly be. But that is exactly why it’s even more certain that he’s DEFINITELY getting Oscar-nominated for Argo

If there’s anything Oscar loves more than an actor-turned-director—do I even have to mention the award-winning names? Robert Redford, Clint Eastwood, Kevin Costner (Kevin COSTNER!)—it’s a comeback story. Particularly a comeback story where the individual is "coming back" from trying to make studio heads and agents lots and lots of money with movies like Armageddon and Pearl Harbor and Daredevil. Oh no! How will these businessmen ever forgive him for pulling in $118 million domestic for The Sum of All Fears?? Of course, what he’s really coming back from is a reputation as a great Hollywood doof. Sure, he won an Oscar seemingly right out of the gate with Best Original Screenplay for Good Will Hunting, but having to stand on all those red carpets next to perfect little Hollywood-sized Matt Damon, Affleck couldn’t help but look like the big dumb galoot along for the ride. Then Damon proceeded to go on one of the more interesting career arcs in recent memory, careering from art house disaster (noooooo, All the Pretty Horses!) to Bourne billions, ultimately becoming one of the better-liked A-listers in Hollywood. All of which only made Affleck look even worse in comparison, when people even bothered to think about him at all. (Never mind that while Affleck was getting slammed for cashing a paycheck on a movie actually called Paycheck, Damon wasn’t exactly covering himself in glory as Greg Kinnear’s conjoined twin in Stuck on You. See? You’re starting to feel a swell of sympathy for Affleck even now, aren’t you?) Then, in 2007, Affleck made the dubious-seeming decision to step behind the camera, and the result was the quite good Gone Baby Gone. So good that it nabbed an Oscar nomination for Amy Ryan and at least made people stop chuckling when talk turned to "Ben Affleck: Director." Three years later, Affleck directed The Town which, this writer’s contrary opinion of it notwithstanding, was very well-received by critics and was generally considered to have missed the Best Picture top ten that year by a hair’s breadth.

And next weekend, Affleck will see his third directorial effort hit screens with Argo, the "based on recently de-classified documents" political thriller / Hollywood farce (like chocolate and peanut butter, those genres!) that sees Affleck co-starring with a serious ’70s beard as a CIA operative who gets the bright idea to impersonate a Canadian film crew in order to infiltrate Iran and rescue six Americans during the 1979 hostage crisis. By the way, if the logline doesn’t sell you, Argo might end up being worth the ticket price for the sheer volume of character actors alone: John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Chris Messina, Bryan Cranston, Kyle Chandler, Phillip Baker Hall; I could go on (Clea DuVall!) and on (Titus Welliver!). This is classic Hollywood mythmaking (Zeljko Ivanek! Sorry, last one), where the very idea of The Movies is the apparatus that will free six American heroes during one of the darkest times in American history. Who’s NOT nominating this thing?

"Sure, for Best Picture, maybe," you say. "There could be ten nominees. How can you be so sure Affleck will be one of five directors so honored?" To that I say: ARE YOU SERIOUSLY CRAZY? You’re seeing all the ingredients here, right? Actor-turned-director. A wet dream of a campaign narrative. The slight air of being "owed" for his previous movies coming so close. Oh, and also, everybody who saw Argo at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals freaked out and started screaming "OSCAR!!!!" out their hotel windows into the late-summer air. Not every movie currently sits atop the "Gurus o’ Gold" Oscar prediction charts, you know. Argo also sits comfortably in the Best Picture ranks on both Hitfix and Vulture, though Vulture is RIDICULOUSLY blind to his Best Director chances, which is just too preposterous to consider. This is HAPPENING! Accept it.

Argo opens in theaters on October 12th. Oscar nominees are announced on January 10th. Which leaves Ben Affleck almost exactly three months to figure out how to convince us that he didn’t even know he was nominated until his agent called.

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Slow, Troubled Start to Sundance

imageThe 25th annual Sundance Film Festival starts tonight amid a perfect storm of bad news. It’s a buyers market (again), the industry is pinched with strikes and weighed down with a bad economy, some Park City residents are chafed over past crowds and noise, and the festival itself is the target of protesters. More importantly, say some locals, the party mood and crowd simply isn’t there. First off, this year will not likely see a lot of sales. A number of major distributors have shut down, the studios that usually buy films have started producing their own, and pretty much all of last year’s big sales were box office poison. “It’s a scary time out there,” one producer tells the Los Angeles Times. “I am concerned.”

And then there’s the protesters claiming Sundance is anti-gay and fest founder Robert Redford hates the poor. And yes, the locals are getting a bit tired of the whole circus.

One local tells BlackBook there is little to no crowd action on the streets. “I’m talking about the in-load of prior Skyy Vodka lounges and Motorola houses and the like. Normally on this Wednesday, it is total confusion on Main Street, Swede Alley, and Park Avenue. Occupancy is down 9% from last year, but my bet is that the total amount of people coming is down 50%. It’s Wednesday afternoon, and it’s fucking dead. But who knows, maybe Sundance will actually be about movies again.”

Redford meanwhile blames an already crowded field of film fests. But he’s not worried. “You don’t really know ’til it’s over, so I like that. I don’t know how the economy is going to affect us; my guess is it will. But it’s not going to affect the films we show,” he told the Hollywood Reporter.