Saturday, August 31, 2013

This Week in Movie News: James Spader in "The Avengers 2", "Gravity" gets raves, "Labor Day" mixed, "Now You See Me 2", "Dallas Buyers Club" trailer

With school starting this week, I was so busy and stressed that I was not able to blog at all. However, I wanted to give a summary of the movie news of this week now that I have a three-day weekend. In addition, reviews are coming as I intend on seeing several movies this weekend. This was a rather light week for movie news as the internet after the aftermath of Batfleck, but there were some casting bits, plot details and film festival premieres that I wanted to cover. Here we go:

-James Spader is Ultron in "The Avengers: Age of Ultron"

Famous character actor James Spader will be playing the villain in the sequel to the 2012 smash hit. I am not familiar with any of Spader's work, but the indifference with which the internet responded to the casting doesn't encourage me that much. I think that Spader will do fine in the role, but I believe that Spader will just be providing the voice for the film. I don't see Spader doing much acting in the role, but I think that this is an interesting choice due to the fact that the rumor is that Jarvis will be turned into Ultron. I think that this could smash that theory, but who knows.

-Rumored "Interstellar" plot details released, shock internet

Look, I think that it's become pretty obvious at this point that Christopher Nolan is the internet's favorite director. He's made a lot of instant classics and not one bad film yet. So, it's a sure bet that Nolanites will be following every piece of news that relates to Interstellar, Nolan's new film dated for November 7, 2014. This week brought news on two fronts: casting and plot details. First off, Matt Damon has joined the film in a small, unspecified role. That just adds more credence to the already stunning cast that includes Matthew McCounaghey, Jessica Chastain, and Anne Hathaway. But the news that came as more shocking was the rumored plot synopsis. Here it is:

"Set in the future, the movie details the toll climate change has taken on agriculture, with corn the last crop to be cultivated. The scientists embark on a journey through a wormhole into other dimensions in search of somewhere other crops can be grown."

I doubt that these details are authentic, but I felt like throwing them out there.

-Venice Film Festival begins: "Gravity", "Philomena" get raves


Somehow, what used to be a massive film festival has taken a back seat to Toronto and Telluride in terms of predicting the Oscars. But, Venice still has the power to get the conversation going as it did with two Oscar contenders earlier this week. First off is Philomena, a small British drama about a woman (Judi Dench) and her search for the son she put up for adoption. The film had it's world premiere at Venice last night and unsurprisingly, the film was a success with the Venice crowd. Thompson on Hollywood said this about the film: "Dench takes your breath away, and so does Philomena." The film should have some success in the acting categories with Dench being a surefire contender.

But onto the bigger news out of Venice: the rave reviews for Gravity. The space drama, which is my most anticipated film for the rest of the year, held its world premiere in Venice and received practically unanimous praise. The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a 100, saying: "Gravity is a thrillingly realized survival story spike with interludes of breath-catching tension and startling surprise." The Telegraph gave the film a 5/5 saying that Gravity is a "science fiction thriller of rare and diamond-hard brilliance." The lowest grade given to the film off the Lido was a 4/5 by HeyUGuys and The Guardian. We're in for something special with this one.

-Telluride Film Festival begins: "Labor Day" review mixed, "Prisoners", "12 Years a Slave" wow fest in sneak screenings


The film world's smallest pre-Oscar party still has the power to get the conversation moving. Labor Day, the new film from Jason Reitman kicked off the small Colorado festival with raves from some critics, and mixed reviews from others. William Goss at Film.com called it "as consistently assured a film as any we've seen from Jason Reitman" and gave it a 7.7/10. Meanwhile, Chris Willman at The Playlist gave the film a C and said that it was a "full immersion exercise in the old-fashioned women's weepie that skews far closer to Nicholas Sparks' brand of contrivance than Diablo Cody territory." Labor Day also plays at Toronto this coming week, so we'll see how the response is there.



Meanwhile, as traditional, Telluride held a few "secret screenings" of films that will release in the coming months. Two of the films this year were Prisoners and 12 Years a Slave. Both received heaps of praise. There has been only one official review published from Variety, which proceeded to say that the film "immediately enters the ring as an awards season heavyweight" while THR and HitFix proceeded to agree that the film blew the roof off the fest. Meanwhile, 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen's harsh picture of American Slavery was met to unanimous praise from Variety, HitFix and IndieWire alike. Variety said that the epic film makes "Scarlett O'Hara's troubles seem petty by comparison", while HitFix gave the film an A- saying that "no film has ever depicted the sheer brutality and horror that was American Slavery as Steve McQueen's 12 Years A Slave." However, the highest grade came from IndieWire. Eric Kohn gave the film an A+ and called it a "slavery movie for the ages." Look for this one to be an Oscar heavyweight.

-"Now You See Me 2" on its way with director Letterier at the helm


Now You See Me was one of the surprise films to hit theaters this summer. On a $75 million budget, it grossed $293 million worldwide. I gave the film an A- on its initial release, but I now find that it's easily forgettable. However, I'm slightly shocked to see that a sequel is on the way. It had a pretty definitive ending in my book, and I'm not sure if the public interest is there, but with director Louis Letterier returning, it seems that Summit has a viable hit franchise on its hands. Expect the sequel to hit theaters in 2015.

-"Dallas Buyers Club" premieres first trailer, tries to work its way into the Oscar race

There are obviously a lot of Oscar contenders this year. Already, we've had three films that received heaps of praise (12 Years A Slave, Prisoners, Gravity) and one that received some outstanding reviews and some mixed (Labor Day). So it seems certain that a lot of smaller films will be knocked out of the race by the studio-backed heavyweights. One of those films could be Dallas Buyers Club, the AIDS drama that stars Matthew McCounaghey and Jared Leto. Here's the first trailer:

McCounaghey seems to be a sure bet for a best actor nominee, but the trailer didn't blow me away. In the end, I think that there are just too many heavyweights that are being released that I'm not sure what some of these smaller films are going to do.

Alright, so that's the weekly news wrap-up, something that I will try to do more often on this site. But for now, I'll see you next week on This Week in Movie News.

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