Michel Hazanavicius in Talks to Direct Tom Hanks for In the Garden of Beasts

The term “Oscar bait” gets thrown around quite a bit these days, especially when there’s talk of a new WWII era drama with big talent attached. Well, the blogosphere can prepare for another entry in that category as Michel Hazanavicus, hot off his Oscar win for The Artist, has started negotiations to direct none other than Tom Hanks in a pre-WWII drama set in Germany called In the Garden of Beasts. Hanks will play William Dodd, America’s ambassador to Germany in the 1930’s, who, along with his family, at first embraced life in Berlin. The film will explore Dodd’s growing concerns about the country as he starts receiving reports of violence against Jews, gradually learning of Hilter’s plans for genocide. Natalie Portman is reportedly being courted to co-star as Dodd’s daughter who carries on several affairs with Third Reich officers.

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Nicolas Cage to Star in David Gordon Green’s Joe

Earlier this summer, it was reported that David Gordon Green had shot a “secret” film with Emile Hirsch and Paul Rudd, a low-key dramedy about two highway maintainence workers called Prince Avalanche. While there hasn’t been much news on that project, it’s now being reported that Green has another movie in development, this time with Nicolas Cage in the lead. Simply titled Joe, the film tells the story of an ex-con who becomes an unlikely role model to a teenager whose “family is ruled by a drunk, worthless father.” Together, the two attempt to find a better life in small town Mississippi. Green describes the film as a “performance piece” and says it contains “darkness, beauty, and humor,” signaling that, like Prince Avalanche, this should serve as a return to the director’s early work (George Washington, Undertow).

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Spike Jonze’s Latest Film Gets a Title and Plot Synopsis

Over the summer Spike Jonze quietly shot his next film, his first since 2009’s Where the Wild Things Are. Until today there haven’t been too many details revealed about the film except that it was an off-beat romance starring Joaquin Phoenix, Samantha Morton, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, and Olivia Wilde. However, a plot description has now surfaced and it certainly reads like the type of material we’ve come to expect from Jonze. Taking place in the near future, the story centers on a writer (Phoenix) who purchases a new operating system designed to “meet the user’s every need.” A romantic relationship develops between the writer and the operating system as the film examines “the nature of love and the ways that technology isolates and connects us all.” We’ve also learned that this unconventional love story will go by the simple title Her.

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Chuck Norris Will Not Return for The Expendables 3

With The Expendables 2 hitting theaters last weekend, rumors have already been flying on the next entry in the series. As previously mentioned, producer Avi Lerner claims to be chasing down the likes of Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood, Nicolas Cage, and Wesley Snipes for the third film, though none have signed on. He was also in hopes to get Mickey Rourke back “if he won’t be too crazy.” However, one person who will NOT be returning for more ass-kicking adventures is Chuck Norris. While he enjoyed his time working on the sequel, Norris made it clear that he was done, saying of part three, “Nope. Just number 2. This is it for me.” He offered no other reason for leaving the series, which has been the most mainstream thing he’s been involved with for a number of years. I suppose he has plenty of Chuck Norris jokes to fall back on.

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Billy Ray Set to Script Sinatra for Martin Scorsese

For a director like Martin Scorsese, there’s always a plethora of projects to choose from, so naturally some of the films he’s associated with always get put on the back burner. Sinatra, a biopic of the famous singer, represents one such project; a film that Scorsese has been planning to make for years now, although the stars haven’t aligned for it. Well, now it appears the film has taken a step in the right direction as Billy Ray (State of Play, Shattered Glass) has signed on to write the screenplay. Ray has built up a healthy resume over the years, recently working on The Hunger Games and the upcoming Paul Greengrass film Captain Phillips. This news doesn’t guarantee that Sinatra will become Scorsese’s next directorial effort after The Wolf of Wall Street, but it does add some weight in its favor at least.

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Tim Robbins Returns to Directing with City of Lies

Unless you saw him in Green Lantern last year, it’s probably been a while since most people have seen Tim Robbins in a movie. And as infrequently as he’s been in front of the camera lately, it’s been even longer since the actor has helmed a feature film, the last one being Cradle Will Rock in 1999. That’s about to change, though, as Robbins has signed on to helm City of Lies, a thriller about two spies who meet and fall in love during separate missions in Prague during the Cold War. The story has been featured previously on This American Life and producers Ira Glass and Alissa Shipp will work on the film as well. The screenplay comes courtesy of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the duo behind Captain America: The First Avenger and Michael Bay’s upcoming Pain & Gain.

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Wes Anderson in Talks with Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Angela Lansbury, and Regulars for Next Film

Director Wes Anderson has enjoyed a good year thus far with his latest film Moonrise Kingdom earning widespread acclaim and financial success. While promoting Moonrise, Anderson has also talked up his next film to a degree; essentially saying that the script is finished and that it will take place in Europe. Now we’re getting word of some potential casting and, as has become Anderson’s trend, there are some interesting newcomers mixed with returning favorites. According to Twitch, Johnny Depp, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jude Law, Jeff Goldblum, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe and Angela Lansbury are currently being pursued for roles in the untitled ensemble film. It’s unclear how far along the casting process has gone, so we’ll see how many actually end up in the movie.

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Ted Review

Ted
Directed by: Seth MacFarlane
Written by: Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, Wellesley Wild
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane, Joel McHale

For all the success he’s gained in television with Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show, it’s not surprising that Seth MacFarlane decided to try his hand at feature filmmaking. The resulting movie we’re given is Ted and it (also unsurprisingly) doesn’t stray from the brand of humor found in his shows. By this point, most people are familiar enough with MacFarlane’s shtick to basically know what they’re getting with Ted. The real unknown quantity here was what MacFarlane could do within the format of a movie. So, has he made something that reaches beyond the average R-rated comedy or does Ted feel like an extended episode of MacFarlane’s TV shows without the censors?

In terms of plot, MacFarlane certainly isn’t laying any new groundwork. The story starts off when a lonely boy named John who, through a Christmas wish, turns his toy teddy bear into a living playmate. Over the years, they remain best friends and, as adults, they enjoy an extended adolescence, much to the dismay of John’s (Mark Wahlberg) long-term girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis). And that’s really the main conflict of the film. Will John decide to stay friends with Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) and lead a man-child life of leisure or will he choose to step up into adulthood with Lori? It’s not exactly the most compelling of conflicts and the movie feels like it comes from a frat boy mentality at times. With that said, I’m fine with letting the actual story take a backseat in comedies sometimes, provided that it brings the funny.

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Martin Scorsese Going Digital for Good?

Martin Scorsese, one of the movie industry’s biggest champions of shooting on film, has chosen to go digital for his upcoming feature The Wolf of Wall Street, according to his long-time editor Thelma Schoonmaker. It was also confirmed that the movie will be a 2D production, unlike Scorsese’s previous effort Hugo. Schoonmaker went on to say that this decision could mark the end of Scorsese using film altogether. The news comes as somewhat of a surprise since in the past Scorsese has said that he’d only shoot digitally if the film was in 3D. Even though Hugo‘s digital photography earned great praise and even an Academy Award win, I think many people assumed he’d return to film again. Instead, this marks another step in the transition to digital filmmaking.

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The Muppets Director James Bobin to Helm Agent Zigzag

After the success of The Muppets last year, director James Bobin has naturally gained some notoriety. In addition to being attached to a Muppets sequel, Bobin has now signed on to direct Agent Zigzag, based on a novel by Ben McIntyre. The new film marks an altogether different type of material for Bobin as it tells the true story of a criminal-turned-hero who works as a double agent during World War II, collecting information from the Germans and reporting back to MI5. Agent Zigzag is being made at New Line and Tom Hanks’ Playtone Pictures will produce. The question that will come to most people’s minds now is what does this mean for the Muppets sequel?

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Jamie Foxx in Talks to Play the President in White House Down

Here’s a real role reversal – Jamie Foxx could go from playing a slave in Django Unchained to portraying the President of the United States in director Roland Emmerich’s latest, titled White House Down. The Academy Award winner has entered discussions for the thriller from Sony, which has been described as “Die Hard in the White House” and is based on a script by James Vanderbilt (Zodiac). We already know that Channing Tatum will star as the agent who is tasked to save the day when paramilitary forces take over the President’s home. With a summer start planned, Foxx wouldn’t receive much of a break since Django Unchained is still shooting. However, Sony has been anxious to move forward with the film in part because there’s a competing White House thriller, White House Taken, which has been developing with director Antoine Fuqua and Gerard Butler attached to star.

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Adam Sandler in Talks for Three Mississippi with Will Ferrell

Three Mississippi (originally titled Turkey Bowl), the upcoming football comedy from Warner Brother, has taken a few twists in pre-production over the past few months. Originally, the film was set up to reteam The Departed co-stars Mark Wahlberg and Alec Baldwin, as well as Will Ferrell and Wahlberg from their pairing in The Other Guys. Adam McKay was also set to direct, but since Anchorman 2 was given the go-ahead, he’s left to make that his next film. He’s not the only one who has left the project either, as Mark Wahlberg has decided to make Lone Survivor with Peter Berg instead. Since Ferrell didn’t want to wait for Wahlberg to become available again, none other than Adam Sandler is now in talks to replace him and Warner Brothers has brought on Sandler’s That’s My Boy director Sean Anders to take over for McKay.

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