Adam Sandler to Star in Safdie Bros. Film Uncut Gems

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One of last year’s surprise critical favorites was the Safdie brothers’ pulpy crime film Good Time starring Robert Pattinson.  The duo are now preparing their new film Uncut Gems and have found an unlikely star in Adam Sandler.  While there isn’t much known about the plot yet the film is said to take place in the corrupt diamond district in New York City.  That brief description alone promises another gritty crime outing for the Safdies and a departure from Sandler’s typical roles.  Add to the fact that Uncut Gems will be produced by Martin Scorsese and you have an intriguing mix of talent involved.

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Miranda July Heist Film Gets All-Star Cast

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It’s been a while since indie director Miranda July’s previous feature The Future hit screens in 2011, but now she is set for a return with an untitled heist film.  July has assembled an impressive cast for the project, including Evan Rachael Wood, Gina Rodriguez, Richard Jenkins, and Debra Winger.  According to a press release, the film’s script “will center on a woman named Old Dolio (Wood) whose life is turned upside down when her parents (Jenkins and Winger), amateur con artists who must face the mistakes of their bad parenting, invite an outsider (Rodriguez) to join their biggest heist yet.”  The movie is set to start shooting in May and is being produced by Annapurna Pictures and Plan B Entertainment.

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Michael Showalter to Direct Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer Comedy

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After last year’s breakout success with The Big Sick, director Michael Showalter is now set to helm an untitled Christmas comedy starring Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer.  There aren’t many details known about the film at this time, but the story will follow two women braving the elements to get home in time for Christmas.  Considering the leads and the premise, this looks to be Showalter’s most mainstream film to date after lower-key films like Hello, My Name Is Doris and The Baxter.  The untitled comedy is based on a treatment written by Jessica Chastain and Kelly Carmichael and will be produced by Chastain’s Freckle Films production company.

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Kumail Nanjiani Turns to Drama with The True American

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Riding high off his hit comedy The Big Sick and its subsequent Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, Kumail Nanjiani is setting his sights on a dramatic role in The True American.  This will be the next film from director Pablo Larrain (Jackie) and it tells the true story of immigrant Raisuddin Bhuiyan, a Bangladesh Air Force officer who was attacked and nearly killed by Mark Stroman (played by Mark Ruffalo) days after 9/11.  The story tracks the two men’s lives afterwards, ultimately leading to Bhuiyan publicly forgiving Stroman and waging a campaign to have him spared from the death penalty.  The film will be based on the book The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas.

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Lucas Hedges Will Play Shia LaBeouf in LaBeouf Biopic Honey Boy

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Say what you will about him, but Shia LaBeouf certainly has had an interesting career, especially in recent years with roles in Fury and American Honey.  Now comes news of a project called Honey Boy, which sounds like it could be his most personal film yet.  Honey Boy will be a biopic of LaBeouf’s life, which he wrote under the pseudonym Otis Lort, and details the contentious relationship between LaBeouf and his father.  LaBeouf will actually be playing the role of his own father in the film and Lucas Hedges will be playing LaBeouf during his years on the Disney show Even Stevens.

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Scorsese Finally Moves Forward with Silence

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The ever-busy Martin Scorsese has just added another film to his schedule, although this particular project has been associated with the director for quite some time. The movie is called Silence and it will tell the story of two Jesuit priests who risk their lives to bring Christianity to Japan during the 17th century. If that plot doesn’t sound like the most commercial of stories, that could explain why financing hasn’t come together until now. As it stands, the film will be produced by Emmett/Furla Films (Alex Cross, Broken City) and Paul Breuls and his company Corsan Films (The Devil’s Double). Supposedly Scorsese will be at the Cannes Film Festival in the next few weeks and will officially “launch” the movie there, meaning that we could have additional information on the production soon. As it stands right now, a July 2014 shoot is planned.

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Paul Thomas Anderson Shooting Inherent Vice this Spring?

Paul Thomas Anderson movies have a history of lengthy development periods, mostly due to funding issues. Fans have now become accustomed to (but don’t necessarily enjoy) waiting 5 years between projects. However, they may not have as long a waiting period this time according to Anderson’s longtime producer, JoAnne Sellar. In reference to Anderson’s latest film, Inherent Vice, she’s quoted as saying, “We’re just putting the financing together and the plan is to start shooting in late April.” This news comes just a week after reports that Joaquin Phoenix would replace Robert Downey Jr. in the lead role, so perhaps things really are moving ahead. For those uninitiated, Inherent Vice will be an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s novel about a pothead private eye in the late 1960’s who becomes entangled in a strange case after an encounter with his ex-girlfriend.

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Rise of the Guardians Could Be a $50 Million Loss for DreamWorks

For the most part, animated flicks are a safe enough bet for studios. Family entertainment is always in demand, after all. Even if the budgets for many mainstream releases reach excessive levels, they can usually still make studios a profit. But, every now and then, an exception is made and it appears that Rise of the Guardians has taken on that role for DreamWorks Animation. Despite overall positive reviews, the film failed to catch on with audiences, opening 4th place in its first weekend. With a production budget of $145 million, even a holiday surge in box office might not be enough to make it into the black. This comes during a time when DreamWorks stock is already down, unfortunately, and it could lead to a re-evaluation of the company’s reliance on animated movies.

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George Clooney’s Monuments Men Moves Forward with Bill Murray and Cate Blanchett

Back in January, it was announced that George Clooney’s next directorial effort would be Monuments Men, a WWII tale about art historians who protect stolen art from destruction by the Nazis. In the intervening months we haven’t really heard much about the film, but now it appears to be gaining traction as Fox has come on board to co-finance the production with Sony. The addition of stars Bill Murray and Cate Blanchett also provides another sign of momentum and should help get film fans excited too. Clooney plans to co-star, although no details have been provided on what characters anyone will play. Here’s a description of the book that the film is based on:

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Werner Herzog Signs to Direct Vernon God Little

Even though we’ll be seeing noted director Werner Herzog in front of the camera later this year as the villain in Jack Reacher, that doesn’t mean he’ll be staying away from behind the camera. Case in point: Herzog has just signed on to direct an adaptation of D.B.C. Pierre’s novel Vernon God Little, “a coming-of-age story set in Texas about a teenager caught up in the aftermath of a high-school shooting committed by his best friend.” That description may sound like heavy material, but the book is also described as a satirical look at violence, materialism, and American media. Andrew Birkin, whose credits include Perfume and Name of the Rose, has written the screenplay. Here’s a full plot description of the book:

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Ben Affleck in Talks to Direct Live By Night

Ben Affleck has become one of Hollywood’s most sought after directors as of late, with plenty of offers to choose from. As his new film Argo opens this weekend, news of his next effort has surfaced. Affleck is currently in talks with Warner Brothers to direct Live By Night, an adaptation of a Dennis Lehane novel. Taking place in the 1920s Prohibition era, the story focuses on Joe Coughlin, the son of a noted Boston police captain, who becomes involved in the organized crime scene. It would be a fitting choice for Affleck given that his first feature, Gone Baby Gone, was also based on a Lehane novel. Earlier this year, Leonardo DiCaprio was attached to star in the project, though now he will only produce.

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Barry Sonnenfeld in Talks to Direct Lore Starring Dwayne Johnson

We all know that Hollywood typically likes to play it safe when it comes to big budget tentpole films. The latest case in point: Lore, a film in development at Warner Brothers about a line of protectors called Shepherds who defend the world against mythological creatures. The material has been described as tonally similar to Men in Black and after meeting with many notable directors the studio appears to have settled on none other than Barry Sonnenfeld. That’s right, the director of all three Men in Black movies is in talks to helm the film, which will be adapted from the graphic novel by author T.P. Louise and illustrator Ashley Wood. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has been on board to star since April, although it’s unclear when Lore will fit into his busy schedule.

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