Month: April 2015

Just Like A Woman

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Just Like A Woman Movie

Taglines: Two friends. One Journey. No limits.

Just like a Woman is an English-language film directed by Rachid Bouchareb, starring Sienna Miller and Golshifteh Farahani. The narrative follows an American housewife and a North African woman who travel from Chicago to Santa Fe to participate in a bellydance competition. The film is a co-production between companies in France, the United Kingdom and the United States. Bouchareb intends it to be the first in a trilogy about the relation between North America and the Arab world.

Tessalit Productions produced the film together with Taghit, which is the American subsidiary of Rachid Bouchareb’s company 3B Productions. It was co-produced by Arte France Cinéma, the British The Bureau and the American Cohen Media Group. Filming started in June and ended 5 August 2011.

About the Filmmaker

Rachid Bouchareb was born in Paris to an Algerian immigrant family. Themes of cultural identity and clash pervade his body of work, beginning with his first film, Baton Rouge (1985). In 1987, the director and his friend Jean Bréhat co-founded production company 3B, which produced all his subsequent films as well as those of Bruno Dumont.

Bouchareb was first nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar in 1995 with Poussières de vie (Dust of Life), about life in Vietnam after the war. His next film, Little Senegal (2001), a tribute to Sergio Leone westerns and Midnight Cowboy, met with critical and public acclaim.

Just Like A Woman Movie

With Indigènes(Days of Glory) (2006), Bouchareb was again nominated for a Foreign Film Oscar for his cinematic tribute to the thousands of African soldiers who fought and died to free Nazi-occupied France during World War II. The film helped motivate French President Jacques Chirac to recognize the duty of war veterans and increase their pensions.

In 2011, Bouchareb received his third Oscar nomination for Hors-la-loi (Outside the Law), a chronicle of three Algerian brothers fighting for their country’s independence after 1945. His latest film, Just Like a Woman (2013), is Bouchareb’s first in English. The movie tells the poignant tale of two women, barely more than casual acquaintances, who escape the prisons of their unhappy marriages and embark on a revealing journey of self discovery that leads them to the importance—and true meaning—of friendship.

About the Cast

Sienna Miller was born in New York, educated in England and studied drama at the Lee Strasberg Institute in New York. Sienna’s film debut came as the love interest of Daniel Craig in Matthew Vaughn’s Layer Cake. From there she excelled in movies including Factory Girl, Casanova, The Edge of Love, Interview and Paramount’s, GI Joe: Rise of Cobra, which was a huge international box office hit in 2009.

Sienna played the role of ‘The Baroness,’ for which she was awarded ‘Best Supporting Actress’ at the ShoWest Awards in Las Vegas. Sienna has received a number of accolades for her work in film including a British Independent Film Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Edge of Love. In the same year she was also nominated for the BAFTA Orange Rising Star Award and in 2006 was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for her role as ‘Katya’ in Interview.

Just Like A Woman Movie

Sienna’s more recent film projects include the Nick Cassavetes film entitled Yellow, which is due for release in 2013, Just Like a Woman directed by the Oscar nominated Rachid Bouchareb and Julian Jarold’s The Girl, which was aired on HBO in October 2012. The Girl explores the relationship between Tippi Hedren (Miller) and Alfred Hitchcock (Toby Jones) during the making of ‘The Birds.’

It has received outstanding reviews, especially for the performances of Miller and Jones. Brian Lowry of Variety magazine heralded Miller’s ‘splendid performance’ announcing it as ‘the best work of Millers career.’ Roger Freidman wrote ‘Jones and Miller are superb as the conflicted duo.’ It was also shown on the BBC in December 2012. Sienna was nominated for her performance in The Girl for a Golden Globe in the Best Actress category and for a TV BAFTA in the same category.

Sienna’s most recent film project is the much-awaited new Bennett Miller movie, Foxcatcher, which tells the true story of John du Pont who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and killed wrestler David Schultz. Sienna stars alongside Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Steve Carrell. The film will be released in November 2013.

Sienna has done a lot of Theatre work throughout her career and in 2005 Sienna made her West End debut playing Celia in the Young Vic’s production of William Shakespeare’s As You Like It at the Wyndhams Theatre in London. She appeared alongside Helen McCrory and Dominic West. Critics heralded her “brave” and “fearless” performance. Sienna has since trodden the boards on Broadway in Patrick Marber’s adaptation of After Miss Julie, directed by Mark Brokaw, similarly to critical acclaim. More recently she starred in Terrence Rattigan’s Flare Path at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, directed by Trevor Nunn. It was a box office hit and received rave reviews across the board.

Just Like A Woman Movie - Sienna Miller

The Independent newspaper wrote of Miller, ‘Her performance is genuinely heart-tugging.’ Sienna also has a staunch devotion to her humanitarian work. As the Ambassador of Global Cool, Sienna changed legislation in India, tackling head-on the worrying problems of Climate Change. Now, as the Ambassador of Children’s Charity Starlight, and world relief organization, International Medical Corps, Sienna continues to follow her passion for charity work.

Golshifteh Farahani is an Iranian actress and daughter of the theater director Behzad Farahani Her career began very early when started performing on stage at the age of six. When she was 14, Farahani was cast as the lead actress in Dariush Mehrjui’s The Pear Tree for which she won the award for Best Actress at the 16th Fajr International Film Festival.

Since then, she has acted in over fifteen films. Recently, Farahani has appeared in acclaimed films such as Bahman Ghobadi’s Half Moon in 2006, which won the Golden Shell at the 2006 San Sebastian Film Festival. She also appeared in Rasool Mollagholi Poor’s Mim mesle madar, which was chosen to represent Iran for the Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards in 2008.

In 2008, she appeared with Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe in Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies, making her the first Iranian actress to play in a major Hollywood production. Her last film in Iran, A propos d’Elly directed by Asghar Farhadi, won a Silver Bear at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival and The Best Narrative Feature at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.

In 2011, she appeared in Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi’s Chicken with plums with Mathieu Amalric and Edouard Baer in addition to starring in Just Like a Woman for which she was awarded Best Actress at the “Festival de la fiction TV de la Rochelle” in 2012.

Farahani also stars in award-winning author and director Atiq Rahimi’s film adaptation of his best-selling novel The Patience Stone, which will be released by Sony Picture’s Classicsin August 2013. She also the lead in Hiner Saleem’s My Sweet Pepperland, which will be released later this year.

Just Like A Woman Movie Poster

Just Like A Woman

Directed by: Rachid Bouchareb
Starring: Sienna Miller, Golshifteh Farahani, Bahar Soomekh, Tim Guinee, Roschdy Zem
Screenplay by: Joelle Touma, Marion Doussot
Cinematography by: Christophe Beaucarne
Film Editing by: Matt Garner
Costume Design by: Mahemiti Deregnaucourt
Set Decoration by: Patrick McGee
Music by: Éric Neveux
MPAA Rating: R for language and a scene of sexuality.
Studio: Cohen Media Group
Release Date: July 3, 2013

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The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger Movie

Taglines: Never take dff the mask.

From producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski, the filmmaking team behind the blockbuster “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, comes Disney / Jerry Bruckheimer Films’ “The Lone Ranger,” a thrilling adventure inf used with action and humor, in which the famed masked hero is brought to life through new eyes. Native American warrior Tonto (Johnny Depp) recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid (Armie Hammer), a man of the law, into a legend of justice–taking the audience on a runaway train of epic surprises and humorous friction as the two unlikely heroes must learn to work together and fight against greed and corruption.

“The Lone Ranger” also stars Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner, Barry Pepper, James Badge Dale, Ruth Wilson and Helena Bonham Carter.

The Lone Ranger is an American action western film directed by Gore Verbinski from a screenplay written by Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott, and Terry Rossio. Based on the radio series of the same name, the film stars Johnny Depp as Tonto, the narrator of the events, and Armie Hammer as John Reid (The Lone Ranger).

It relates Tonto’s memories of the duo’s earliest efforts to subdue the immoral actions of the corrupt and bring justice in the American Old West. William Fichtner, Barry Pepper, Ruth Wilson, James Badge Dale, Tom Wilkinson and Helena Bonham Carter also are featured in supporting roles. It is the first theatrical film featuring the Lone Ranger and Tonto characters in more than 32 years.

The Lone Ranger Movie - Rebecca Reid

A Legacy Reborn

Eighty years after they first rode into the public’s imagination, the classic characters of the Lone Ranger and Tonto remain enduring fixtures of the American cultural landscape. “There’s something about these characters that have appealed to every generation since they were invented,” notes producer Jerry Bruckheimer. “I grew up in Detroit, and ‘The Lone Ranger’ radio and TV shows were part of my youth, and millions of others as well.” On radio, television, theater screens, TV animation, comic strips, books, graphic novels, and video games, the perpetual popularity of these iconic American characters represents a continuum that confirms the continuity of the public’s fascination with them.

The program first made its way onto the airwaves courtesy of WXYZ radio in Detroit, Michigan, on January 30, 1933. The station owner, George W. Trendle, wanted a Western that would appeal to a children’s audience. The character he created was wholesome, honest and an authority figure kids could admire. The concept of the Lone Ranger was thus born and handed off to Fran Striker, a script writer from Buffalo, and the station’s staff director, James Jewell.

Jewell went on to direct “The Lone Ranger” radio series through 1938, by which time it was a national phenomenon. Jewell’s father-in-law owned Kamp Kee-Mo-Sah-Bee in Mullet Lake, Michigan, which became the obvious linguistic inspiration behind Tonto’s name for his friend, the Lone Ranger (Tonto was introduced 11 episodes into the series). It’s believed that the camp was named after an Ojibwe word, “giimoozaabi,” which has been varyingly translated as “trusty scout” or even “someone who does not follow the normal path.” The name Tonto might also derive from another Ojibwe word, “N’da’aanh-too” (pronounced “Nduh-on-toe”) meaning “wild one” or “to change.” Jewell also suggested Gioachino Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” as the program’s theme music.

The Lone Ranger Movie - Rebecca Reid

There were 2,956 radio episodes of “The Lone Ranger” (the last new one was broadcast on September 3, 1954), a 21-year history that actually overlapped the hugely successful television series, starring stalwart Clayton Moore as the titular character and dignified Jay Silverheels as Tonto. This program, which became an international phenomenon, began airing on ABC in 1949 and continued until 1957.

The huge popularity of the show also spun off into two theatrical feature films, “The Lone Ranger” (1956) and “The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold” (1958). But now it’s time for Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer to put their own indelible stamps on Tonto and the Lone Ranger. As they respect some traditions established over the past eight decades, they also fearlessly interpret the characters for an entirely new generation.

Shaping the Story

As with many ambitious projects, it was a long and winding road that brought the new version of “The Lone Ranger” to fruition. But neither producer Jerry Bruckheimer nor director Gore Verbinski are men to be easily dissuaded once their hearts and minds are focused. “We knew that it was time for ‘The Lone Ranger’ and Westerns to be reborn,” says Bruckheimer, “just as Gore and I knew that it was time for pirate movies to be resurrected when we first developed ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ for the screen a decade ago. There’s a reason why people have relished these characters and genres for decades, and we knew that if we re- introduced them in a fresh and exciting way, they would fall in love with them all over again.”

Verbinski was interested in directing “The Lone Ranger” only if they could take the classic story and stand it on its ear. “I think if you’re a fan of the original TV series,” Verbinski says, “you’re going to be surprised by the movie, because everybody knows that story, and that’s not the story we’re telling. We’re telling the story from Tonto’s perspective, kind of like ‘Don Quixote,’ told from Sancho Panza’s point of view. I would say that at its core, our version is a buddy story and an action-adventure film with a lot of irony and humor and enough odd singularity to make it distinct.”

To write the fresh take on the legendary tale, the filmmakers hired the brilliant screenwriting team of Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, who had also scribed all four of the hugely successful “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, the first three of which were collaborations between Jerry Bruckheimer and Gore Verbinski, and Justin Haythe, who wrote “Revolutionary Road” for Sam Mendes.

Commenting on the story, producer Jerry Bruckheimer says, “This is the story of how John Reid becomes the Lone Ranger,” adds Bruckheimer, “but in the framework of a ‘dramedy’ between two characters from totally different backgrounds, who are really at odds at the beginning of the story and through the course of their relationship come to a kind of uneasy bonding. Our version has a lot of excitement, adventure, drama, comedy, spectacle and emotion. And because of Gore’s vision, it’s also huge.”

Bruckheimer was thrilled that his “Pirates” partner Gore Verbinski was onboard the “The Lone Ranger.” “Gore is an amazingly talented director, someone who encompasses it all. Sometimes you find a director who does comedy well but can’t do action, or those who can only do action,” says Bruckheimer. “Gore is one of the very few directors who can do everything — action, drama, comedy, animation — with equal brilliance. He’s highly visual and lets nothing stand in his way to create sequences that have never been seen before, and then he somehow finds a way to shoot them to maximum effect.”

Back to School… Cowboy School

The cast and background players of “The Lone Ranger” discovered that if you want to be a cowboy, gunslinger, or railroad builder on screen, you’ve got to go back to school and be properly taught. “Cowboy Boot Camp” began three weeks before Gore Verbinski called “Action” for the first time and was attended by the vast majority of the primary cast at the Horses Unlimited ranch in Albuquerque. Their teachers included stuntmen, horse wranglers, the prop master, and armorers, and nobody was cut an easy break — not even the guy playing the film’s eponymous character.

“Cowboy Boot Camp is basically all the actors running around like six-year-old boys,” says Armie Hammer. “Riding horses for two hours a day, throwing lassos for an hour, shooting guns, riding in a wagon, putting on a saddle and taking it off. It was like an immersion project. After just a few days of boot camp, I did more riding than I cumulatively had in my entire life.”

“What Gore wanted,” explains stunt coordinator Tommy Harper, “was to have a Cowboy Boot Camp where we basically teach each actor how to shoot a gun, how to saddle and ride a horse, along with other training. This way we get to know the actors, what their abilities are, and how to keep them safe. The main thing for me is to make sure that at the end of the movie they’ve done as much as they can do safely, and end the movie being completely healthy.” Although boot camp started before filming actually began, Harper points out that the actors’ training went “all the way to the end. Just when you think you know everything, something backfires on you, so we never let them get too comfortable.”

Clearly, it was crucial for the actors to learn the correct handling of firearms, and for that they were under the expert tutelage of armorer Harry Lu. “Even though they’re shooting blanks,” notes Harper, “it’s still a dangerous piece of equipment that they’re working with, and we have to make sure that they know every bit of handling and how to look correct doing it.”

William Fichtner, who as ultimate badass outlaw Butch Cavendish had to feel absolutely secure with his weaponry, was glad to put himself in the safe hands of the experts. “With Mr. Harry Lu around, I’m comfortable with anything when it comes to firearms,” says the actor. “It’s hard… the first time you hold that heavy gun in your hand. But every time I would arrive on set and see Harry, I would ask him if I could handle the gun for a little bit, and he would always show me something new to practice, then show me a little more.” After a time, Fichtner was doing dangerously cool flips and twirls with the gun, which were captured on film during shooting in Creede, Colorado. “You know why you try so hard with things like that?” asks Fichtner. “Because as an actor, you want little moments to equal everything else that’s happening on this film. I wanted that gun move to be as good as the amazing backdrop and set we were shooting on in Creede.”

Schooling the talent on horsemanship was the film’s crack wrangling team under the supervision of head horse wrangler Clay M. Lilley and wrangler gang boss Norman Mull. “A horseman can look at an actor and know that person can’t ride a horse,” says Harper. “You can just tell by how they walk up to it, or how they mount and dismount. So teaching them how to look correct was really important.” Adds Norman Mull, “What we’re trying to do in boot camp is to get the actors comfortable with horses, pick horses for them, and teach them whatever we need to make sure they can ride. Some of the actors had some previous experience, including Armie Hammer and Ruth Wilson. “I’ve fallen off a few horses before,” says Wilson with a laugh, “so I thought this was a good place to start learning properly.” Wilson enjoyed being the only woman at boot camp. “Yeah, I loved it, surrounded by cowboys, it was quite fun. It was a really nice way of understanding the world of the movie.”

The normally fearless Hammer, however, was actually a little nervous. “I’d been on horses before, but I thought, ‘This animal thinks for itself, and that makes me a little nervous. What is it going to do if it sees a bunny?’ But they don’t give you a choice; they just stick you on a horse and say, ‘Go ride.’ It was nonstop fun for three weeks.”

The other principal actors also had a blast at boot camp, although they acknowledged the rigors involved. James Badge Dale, the New Yorker who plays tough Texas Ranger Dan Reid in the film, had to come clean about his riding skills when he first met with Jerry Bruckheimer and Gore Verbinski. “I didn’t have the job yet, and I met with the two of them. Jerry was just sitting quietly, as he often does, observing and listening carefully. Gore asked me if I knew how to ride a horse. I went back and forth with some story, and finally said, ‘Gore, I’m sorry, I have no idea how to ride a horse. I’m from New York City!’ Then Jerry suddenly starts laughing, and said, ‘You’re the first person who’s come in here and told us the truth!’ Then Gore added, ‘Well, you’re going to learn.’ And I did. I learned things about horses that I never thought I would. These wranglers are very good at what they do. They love their horses and they teach you to respect them.”

Also making an important contribution to boot camp was Kris Peck’s prop department, since it was responsible for providing the period-correct tack for the actors’ horses. They custom-made upwards of 80 Western saddles, 25 U.S. Cavalry saddles and 30 Native American saddles. “We have to teach the actors how to take off all their props and look as if they know what they’re doing,” explains assistant prop master Curtis Akin. “They have all kinds of stuff that they’re going to use for the camp scenes, so when they ride up they’re going to get off their horses, pull all this stuff out, lay their saddles around the campfire, and lay their bedrolls out to make camp for the night.”

The Lone Ranger Movie Poster

The Lone Ranger

Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Starring: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner, Barry Pepper, James Badge Dale, Ruth Wilson, Helena Bonham Carter
Screenplay by: Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Justin Haythe
Production Design by: Jess Gonchor, Mark ‘Crash’ McCreery
Cinematography by: Bojan Bazelli
Film Editing by: James Haygood, Craig Wood
Costume Design by: Penny Rose
Set Decoration by: Cheryl Carasik
Music by: Hans Zimmer
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence, and some suggestive material.
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Release Date: July 2, 2013

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Best Friends Forever

Best Friends Forever Movie

Taglines: Two girls, a ’76 AMC Pacer, the open road and an impending nuclear apocalypse.

Best Friends Forever is a clever dark comedy and heartfelt road trip buddy film wrapped in an apocalyptic disaster story, with two badass girls. Harriet (Brea Grant), a perpetually optimistic comic-book artist, dreams of escaping her past in Los Angeles and hits the road for a new life in Austin, Texas. She drags Reba (Vera Miao), her seemingly devil-may-care BFF, along for the ride. In the hush period following mysterious nuclear explosions, the girls are forced to ask: When faced with the end of the world – what is most important to you?

Best Friends Forever is an American dark comedy film written by Brea Grant, Vera Miao, and directed by Brea Grant. The film stars Brea Grant, Vera Miao, Sean Maher, Glen Powell, Constance Wu. The film began a limited theatrical release in the United States on July 1, 2013.

Review

It takes a real set of balls to make a movie about the apocalypse without actually showing the apocalypse. It’s ironic that Brea Grant is the person who has those balls. She wrote, directed, and stars in the alternately quirky and morose Best Friends Forever. The film tells the story of two young women who embark on a road trip and end up at the beginning of the end of the world.

Best Friends Forever Movie

Harriet (Grant) is a comic book artist who has recently been released from psychiatric supervision. She’s planning on a fresh start in graduate school in Austin, Texas. Harriet plans a road trip from Los Angeles to the Texas capitol with her best friend Reba (Vera Miao), including some out-of-the-way stops along the way. However, once on the road, the duo enters the isolated desert without the knowledge that a nuclear bomb detonated in L.A., essentially wiping the entire city off the map.

As Harriet and Reba learn the fate of the City of Angels (including that of Reba’s family, who live there), they have chance encounters with symbols of apocalyptic dangers. One comes in the form of a hipster band whose scarves and dark-rimmed glasses mask their true form of bandits on the road. Another comes in the form of a religious nutjob who picks up the girls hitchhiking and begins a blame-fueled sermon. Other dangers include abuse of authority, anarchy, and general mistrust of friends leading to feral behavior.

This entire journey becomes not simply about survival but about the bond these women share. While the world crumbles around them, the story is less about the millions that die and more about how these two hold themselves together.

There are several impressive elements to Best Friends Forever, not the least of which is the restrained presentation of a nuclear apocalypse. This is where the heart of the independent film lies. There’s no big budget for a blockbuster-sized destruction of a city. Almost void of visual effects, Best Friends Forever hints at the apocalypse but never tries to survive on the spectacle.

Best Friends Forever Movie

Instead, first-time director Grant wraps the film in the characters (specifically its two leads) and how the end affects them emotionally. One might be tempted to call the Harriet and Reba’s reactions somewhat muted, and that wouldn’t be inaccurate. However, considering the characters’ isolation from the action and the fact that real reactions to such intense (albeit distant) trauma sometimes lead to underwhelming results rather than a string of would-be Oscar clips, it highlights how disconnected they are.

Both Harriet and Reba are distant individuals. Harriet is such by her own design, hiding behind her artwork and the lies she tells herself. Reba is removed from her overbearing family, choosing a life of relative promiscuity and rebellion. She uses sex not for comfort but for distraction, and that comes back to haunt her throughout the film. Their being caught up outside the apocalypse lets their world end the way they lived it: somewhere in the background.

Grant handles this film well, able to direct herself with some smart decisions, namely to let Reba carry the overt emotional burden of the story. She also frames the results of the apocalypse in a familiar way. Rather than relying solely on corny news commentary (although those snippets do show up from time to time), Best Friends Forever tells its story through its characters eyes and actions, for better or for worse.

There are some wrinkles along the way, however. One of the greatest dangers of being so close to your story and characters is that you fall in love with them so much that you cannot allow the natural flow of the story to keep its course. Grant falls into this trap multiple times, playing a bit of softball with the threats to both Harriet and Reba.

The reality is that the film works when it gets dark, and it travels down those unlit paths several times. One of the best was a fantastic moment in the film when real panic sets in for the characters, proving they would resort to anything to save themselves and each other. Unfortunately, there are a couple missed opportunities and a few other moments that steer down an extremely dark and dangerous path only to be brushed away with relative ease.

Still, this leaves Best Friends Forever as a warm and somewhat uplifting film about the worst day the planet will ever see. It’s an honest, down-to-earth look at what might happen when everything around you crumbles, yet it manages to have its heart in the right place.

Finally, it’s worth pointing out that Best Friends Forever was shot (rather proudly, I might add, based on the production notes) on Super 16mm film. In a world where digital options are quickly becoming the standard (which is increasingly more cost-effective to the independent filmmaker), it’s nice to see people actually committing a story to celluloid again.

Best Friends Forever Movie Poster

Best Friends Forever

Directed by: Brea Grant
Starring: Brea Grant, Vera Miao, Sean Maher, Glen Powell, Constance Wu Screenplay by: Brea Grant, Vera Miao
Screenplay by: Brea Grant, Vera Miao
Production Design by: Carolyn King
Cinematography by: Michelle Lawler
Film Editing by: Jacob Chase, Amy McGrath
Costume Design by: William Boye Jenkins
Art Direction by: Ryan Spindell
Music by: Matthew Puckett
MPAA Rating: None.
Studio: Gravitas Ventures
Release Date: July 1, 2013

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Despicable Me 2

Despicable Me 2 Movie

Taglines: Back 2 Work.

Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s worldwide blockbuster Despicable Me entertained audiences around the globe in 2010, grossing more than $540 million and becoming the 10th-biggest animated motion picture in U.S. history. In summer 2013, get ready for more Minion madness in Despicable Me 2.

Chris Melandri and his acclaimed filmmaking team create an all-new comedy adventure featuring the return of (former?) super-villain Gru (Steve Carell), his adorable girls, the unpredictably hilarious Minions… and a host of new and outrageously funny characters.

Now that the ever-entrepreneurial Gru has left behind a life of super crime to raise Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher), Gru, Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) and the Minions have some free time on their hands.

But as he starts to adjust to his role as a suburban family man, an ultra-secret organization dedicated to fighting evil around the globe comes knocking. Now, it’s up to Gru and his new partner, Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig), to discover who is responsible for a spectacular crime and bring him to justice. After all, it takes the world’s greatest ex-villain to catch the one vying to take his place…

Despicable Me 2 Movie

Life Post-Villainy: Despicable Me 2 Begins

In Despicable Me, we were introduced to our protagonist, super-villain Gru, who was given a monumental challenge when he encountered three orphan girls who unexpectedly changed his life. The arc of the relationship between Gru and Margo, Edith and Agnes was the heartbeat of this animated adventure, and remains an essential element in what has grown into a franchise.

As the filmmakers approached the story for Despicable Me 2, they felt that the ending of the first movie—Gru realizing how much he loved the girls— was truly a beginning for the characters. The formation of this unusual family, and how they will move forward, provided a rich and identifiable point of engagement for moviegoers across the globe who saw their unique families reflected in this animated one.

After Despicable Me’s success, what became clear to the team was that the first film served as a launching pad. Illumination Entertainment CEO Chris Meledandri elaborates that it was the outpouring of support that ensured that there would be more tales of Gru and his family: “After Despicable Me’s success, it was clear that we wanted to make another film. The storytelling process of determining what was going to happen in the next film was a natural evolution. I’ve never had an experience where a conversation about a sequel was as organic as it was with Despicable Me 2. The characters and relationships that had been formed suggested many different places that we could go with the story. But we knew that the underlying core was going to be about the evolution of this family. That was absolutely clear.”

The creative team behind Despicable Me returns for Despicable Me 2 with a unified goal: to honor what worked so well in the first story, to amplify those elements through character and story, and deliver the combustible mixture of the sweet, the subversive and the unexpected that had such an impact on audiences. Meledandri acknowledges that this was no accident: “The team that made Despicable Me over a four-year period was nothing short of extraordinary. From our incredibly talented directors, Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin; to our writers, Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio; to my producing partner, Janet Healy; and all of the animators, designers, storyboard artists, technical directors, sound mixers—there were hundreds of people who brought their talents together to realize this wonderful film. I am fortunate enough to have them back to make the sequel. The relationship that was forged through the first film has translated into shorthand and a collaborative spirit on the second film that’s extraordinary.”

Healy reflects that this easy rapport among her colleagues made for a much more fluid process this time around: “Because Despicable Me 2 represents a reunion of the same crew, we knew one another very well and how to complement one another’s strengths. It made it much easier to revisit these characters in this world. This allowed us to think more about what their story would be this time because we didn’t have to figure out the look of the picture or how bad Gru should be or the characters of the girls. It was all there for us to mine.”

In Despicable Me 2, we pick up with Gru, the girls and the Minions, and we see what life for them looks like post-villainy. For Gru, there are practical questions that he has to answer: Is he capable of being a good father and leaving the exciting (not to mention lucrative) world of villainy behind? How will he provide for his daughters and continue to employ Dr. Nefario and the Minions now that the spoils of wickedness are in his past? Sums Meledandri: “For Gru, it’s life after villainy, and now his primary responsibility is his family. He’s trying to figure out how to support them and has started a cottage industry in his lab. He’s retrofitted his lab to become a jam and jelly factory.”

Despicable Me 2 Movie Poster

Despicable Me 2

Directed by: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Starring: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Ken Jeong, Miranda Cosgrove, Moises Arias, Russell Brand
Screenplay by: Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul
Production Design by: Yarrow Cheney, Eric Guillon
Film Editing by: Gregory Perler
Music by: Heitor Pereira
MPAA Rating: PG for rude humor and mild action.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Release Date: July 3, 2013

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White House Down

White House Down

Taglines: It started like any other day.

In Columbia Pictures’ White House Down, Capitol Policeman John Cale (Channing Tatum) has just been denied his dream job with the Secret Service of protecting President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx). Not wanting to let down his little girl with the news, he takes her on a tour of the White House, when the complex is overtaken by a heavily armed paramilitary group. Now, with the nation’s government falling into chaos and time running out, it’s up to Cale to save his daughter, the president, and the country.

White House Down is n American political action film directed by Roland Emmerich about an assault on the White House by a paramilitary group and the Capitol Police Officer who tries to stop them. The film’s screenplay is by James Vanderbilt, and it stars Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, with Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Woods, Jason Clarke and Richard Jenkins in supporting roles. The film was released on June 28, 2013 and has since grossed more than $205 million worldwide White House Down is one of two films released in 2013 that deals with a terrorist attack on the White House, the other being Olympus Has Fallen.

White House Down - Channing Tatum

About the Film

Columbia Pictures’ White House Down is the new action film from director Roland Emmerich, whose films, including Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, and Anonymous, have taken in more than $3 billion worldwide. His latest film is an action movie on an epic scale starring the most recognizable home on the planet, which is very familiar territory for Emmerich. “Actually, that was the one thing holding me off – I wondered, ‘Can I really do the White House again?’” laughs the man who had aliens blow up the building in Independence Day and sent the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy through it in 2012. “Ultimately, I wanted to tell this story because it features strong characters and a very different and unusual narrative, combining action elements with those of a political thriller of worldwide significance.”

“Obviously, Roland likes to play with symbols and icons,” says producer Bradley J. Fischer. “If you look at the content of the films and the storytelling, his films are big event movies that unfold over a worldwide scale, but they’re also about breaking down ivory towers of one form or another. So, sure, he’s destroyed the White House before, but it’s never been the centerpiece of the film – both in the plot and in the underlying storytelling – the way it is here.”

“This is really a global story,” says producer Harald Kloser, who previously worked with Emmerich as a writer and producer on 10,000 BC and 2012, and composed the music on those films as well as Anonymous and The Day After Tomorrow. “If anybody takes over the White House, they’ll have access to the world’s largest weapons arsenal. A takeover of the White House would for sure trigger a global crisis with unimaginable consequences.”

White House Down

The character at the center of White House Down is John Cale, an ex soldier and divorced father who’s trying to put his life back on solid footing – especially when it concerns his relationship with his daughter. The role is played by Channing Tatum. “Cale’s been trying to figure out his life for years, to get it together. He doesn’t really have the tools to put it all into place,” says Tatum. “But his heart is good – he’s always wanted to be his daughter’s hero. And now that he’s realizing that he can’t be that, due to mistakes he’s made, he thinks, ‘Well, she idolizes the president – if I can’t be her hero, maybe I can help protect the guy who is.’”

“At the start of the movie, he’s probably a better buddy than a father,” says Tatum. “He’s not a good role model or someone you want to go to for advice. But if the stuff hits the fan, he’s the guy you want – he’s been through a lot of it.”

“That’s part of the hero’s journey in this movie,” says Kloser. “He has to accomplish something on the outside – saving the world – and something on the inside. And the story on the inside is the emotional story with his daughter.”

Opposite Tatum, the filmmakers cast Jamie Foxx as President Sawyer. Fischer says that casting Jamie Foxx was part of the key to defining the tone of the film. “We were hoping to find the right actor to play the President – somebody who could play it in a way that was a little disarming,” says Fischer. “We were hoping to find an actor who could bring the gravitas of the presidency, but also a comedic element – not jokes, but funny, light moments that would cut the tension. In a way, Cale and Sawyer are a classic ‘buddy’ pairing. That’s why Jamie was perfect – he won an Oscar® for the way he can inhabit different characters. Not only that, but it turned out he has great chemistry with Channing – they played off of each other in a way that we all found incredibly satisfying to watch. With Channing and Jamie together, the movie is just so much fun.”

Foxx says that the 46th president of the United States is “a man who would do anything to protect America, but also a man who understands that in order to protect America in this day and age, you have to have an understanding of the enemies. If you don’t have that understanding, or a way to open a dialog, you’ll forever be at odds and something drastic will constantly keep happening.”

Emmerich says that Vanderbilt wrote the character of President Sawyer as an interesting counterpoint to Cale. “When President Sawyer gets elected, he wants to do so much – and then when he’s in the job, it’s not that easy. He has to spend an inordinate amount of time on the politics of the job,” says Emmerich. “Whereas Cale’s goal is to try to impress himself and his daughter, the president is holding himself up against greatness – he wants to do something truly presidential, something Lincolnesque. He wants to be remembered as a great president. So that is part of the fun of the movie: you have a former soldier battling it out intellectually with the commander in chief as they’re stuck together throughout the movie.”

Fischer came to the project along with his Mythology Entertainment partners, James Vanderbilt and Laeta Kalogridis, when Vanderbilt revealed to Fischer that he had written the project in secret. “James said, ‘I’ve been working on something. I don’t think it’s quite ready yet, but I want you to take a look at it.’ So I took a look at it and told him he was crazy, because it was fantastic. The script started making its way around town and before we knew it, we were getting unsolicited offers from studios. We decided to go with Sony, and within 48 hours, we were sitting with Roland Emmerich, the movie was greenlit, and we were off to the races.”

White House Down Movie Poster

White House Down

Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Jason Clarke, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Richard Jenkins, Joey King, Rachelle Lefevre, Matt Craven
Production Design by: Kirk M. Petruccelli
Cinematography by: Anna Foerster
Film Editing by: Adam Wolfe
Costume Design by: Lisy Christl
Set Decoration by: Marie-Soleil Dénommé, Paul Hotte, David Laramy
Music by: Harald Kloser, Thomas Wanker
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action and violence including intense gunfire and explosions, some language and a brief sexual image.
Studio: Sony – Columbia Pictures
Release Date: June 28, 2013

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Redemption

Redemption Movie

Taglines: All roads don’t lead to salvation.

Joseph Smith (Jason Statham) is an ex-Special Forces veteran who went AWOL from his unit in Afghanistan, and now lives as a homeless drunk in London. While fleeing thugs, he breaks into an apartment and discovers the owner, Damon, is travelling for months. He begins to assume the life of the owner, calling himself Joey Jones, and spends his time looking for Isabel (Victoria Bewick), from whom he was separated in the streets. He finds a credit card in the apartment mail, and starts to improve himself.

Joey is friends with Cristina (Agata Buzek), a nun who runs the soup kitchen, and she helps him with medicine and messages to Isabel. Joey gets a job in a Chinese restaurant kitchen, and when the management call upon him to help deal with some rowdy diners, his fighting ability brings him to the attention of Mr Choy (Benedict Wong), a senior organised crime manager, who hires him as a driver and enforcer, collecting extortion payments and delivering drugs. He saves some of the money he receives and begins to do charitable work, ordering pizzas for the soup kitchen and buying gifts for Cristina. The homeless begin calling him “Crazy Joe”. He finds Dawn (Vicky McClure), his ex and mother of his young daughter, and starts giving her money. He tells the neighbours that he is Damon’s boyfriend.

Redemption Movie - Jason Statham

Joey invites Cristina to dinner at a barbecue in the street behind the Chinese restaurant. Cristina attends, but only to show him a police photo of Isabel, who had been beaten to death and thrown in the river. Joey is enraged, but Cristina is able to calm him, and encourages him to start an honest life. He finds the men who chased him away from Isabel and beats them, interrogating them about Isabel’s murder, acquiring a rough description of her killer. Joey meets Cristina at an art gallery, to give her this information to pass on to the police. She gets a bit tipsy, and they kiss. She tells him about a ballet ticket she has for the same date as when Damon is due to return – 1 October.

The police learn of Joey’s activities, and begin questioning Cristina. Joey finds her later, and they share life stories. As a child, she was sexually abused by her gymnastics instructor in Warsaw, and eventually kills him. Being too young for prison, she is instead sent to a convent. Cristina is ashamed of her relationship with Joey, and asks her mother superior (Ger Ryan) to be transferred to another mission in Sierra Leone. Joey continues his search for Isabel’s killer, trading services with Mr. Choy’s boss. He is given the keys to a truck with boxes containing refugees/slaves to be delivered.

Meanwhile, Isabel’s killer, Max Forrester (Christian Brassington) is savagely beating another hooker. A neighbor finds Max’s invitation to a rooftop cocktail party, and the invitation finds its way to Joey, who had put the word out that he wanted information of someone fitting Max’s description.

Redemption Movie - Jason Statham

Joey meets Cristina on 1 October. He asks her to take photos of him for his daughter, and he hints that he won’t be the same for long. She tells him that she is leaving for Africa, and that she wants to be with him before she leaves. The two consummate their relationship as the apartment’s owner returns, and they escape through the back. She invites him to the ballet. He delivers the photos and a bag full of cash to his ex-wife and daughter.

Cristina waits for Joey, but he goes to the cocktail party instead. He finds Max Forrester and throws him from the roof in front of all the guests, killing him. Cristina leaves the ballet, still looking for Joey. She finds him drunk and sleeping on the curb. He reveals that he is wanted by the military police for a random revenge killing he carried out in Afghanistan in payback for the death of five of his men. He explains to her that when he is sober and functional, he hurts people, because that is what his training turned him into. Joey tells her that he is going to return to life as a wandering drunk because that way he doesn’t hurt anybody, but not before he gave the police information on Mr Choy’s human trafficking operation.

The next day, Cristina is leaving for Africa, and receives a note from Joey. He has paid his debts with everyone and is homeless again. As he walks the streets, the police are closing in, and he is hunted by a surveillance drone similar to the one that witnessed his crimes in Afghanistan.

Redemption Movie Poster

Redemption

Directed by: Steven Knight
Starring: Jason Statham, Senem Temiz, Vicky McClure, Siobhan Hewlett, Agata Buzek
Screenplay by: Steven Knight
Production Design by: Michael Carlin
Cinematography by: Chris Menges
Film Editing by: Valerio Bonelli
Costume Design by: Louise Stjernsward
Set Decoration by: Claire Nia Richards
Music by: Dario Marianelli
MPAA Rating: R for strong brutal violence, graphic nudity and language.
Studio: IM Global
Release Date: June 28, 2013

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Byzantium

Byzantium Movie

Byzantium is a British-Irish fantasy thriller film directed by Neil Jordan and starring Gemma Arterton, Saoirse Ronan, and Jonny Lee Miller. The story concerns a mother and daughter vampire duo. This is the third foray by Jordan into the world of the undead, following the poorly-received High Spirits in 1988 and his Oscar-nominated Interview with the Vampire, in 1994.

A vampire mother and daughter’s dark two-hundred-year history threatens to catch up with them in a run-down hotel on the English coast. Their story begins during the Napoleonic Wars, when young Eleanor (Ronan) was abandoned as Clara (Arterton) was forced into prostitution. Two centuries later, contemplative Eleanor and extroverted Clara are on the run when they seek sanctuary in a dilapidated coastal resort.

There, Clara sets her sights on a lonely soul named Noel (Daniel Mays) who has just inherited the Byzantium Hotel, a once-thriving business that has fallen into disrepair. Before long, the elder vampire has transformed the Byzantium into a makeshift brothel. Meanwhile, Eleanor falls for Frank (Caleb Landry Jones), a waiter who unwittingly draws out the natural storyteller in her. Amidst a string of mysterious disappearances in the sleepy coastal town, Frank realizes that Eleanor’s extraordinary tales are much more than dark fantasy.

Byzantium Movie

About the Story

The film begins with an old man picking up a discarded note dropped by teenage vampire Eleanor Webb (Ronan), who has taken to writing her life story, but then throwing the individual pages to the wind. Realising what she is, the old man invites Eleanor to his house and tells her his life story, before explaining that he is ready for death. Eleanor proceeds to kill him with a talon grown from her right thumbnail and consume his blood.

Elsewhere, Eleanor’s mother, Clara (Arterton), is chased from the strip club where she has been working by a member of the vampiric Brotherhood named Werner. Werner subdues Clara and forces her to take him back to Clara and Eleanor’s apartment. He demands to know where Eleanor is. Clara decapitates Werner with a garrote, burns his body within the apartment and leaves town with her daughter.

Eleanor and Clara seek sanctuary in a dilapidated coastal resort. There, Clara sets her sights on a lonely soul named Noel (Daniel Mays), who has just inherited the Byzantium Hotel, a once-thriving business that has fallen into disrepair. Meanwhile, Eleanor plays the piano in a restaurant and is approached by a young waiter named Frank (Caleb Landry Jones), who takes a shine to her. Having seduced Noel, Clara turns the Byzantium into a makeshift brothel and Eleanor joins the local college which Frank attends. Interested in her past, Frank questions Eleanor, who writes her story for him to read.

Byzantium Movie - Saoirse Ronan

The story, revealed to the viewer in a series of flashbacks over the course of the film, begins during the Napoleonic Wars, when a young Clara, then a fisherman’s daughter, encounters two Royal Navy officers, the cruel Captain Ruthven and the mild-mannered Midshipman Darvell. Much to the dismay of Darvell, Clara leaves with Ruthven, who forces her into prostitution. When Eleanor is born, Clara leaves her daughter at the local private orphanage to spare her life, and secretly visits her at night.

Years later, Clara is dying of what appears to be tuberculosis, and is still one of Ruthven’s favourites when he visits the brothel. One day, the brothel is visited by Darvell, whom Ruthven had believed to have died years earlier. Darvell explains to Ruthven that he has, in fact, become a vampire. The only way a human can become a vampire is by traveling to an unnamed island. The island is home to a being known as “The Nameless Saint” who resides within a small stone shrine. If a human enters the shrine and accepts death the Saint will kill them and they awaken as a “soucriant”… a vampire. Darvell gives Ruthven a map to the island stating Ruthven is a survivor and has all the qualities one needs to become a vampire. After Darvell leaves the brothel, Clara, who was listening to Darvell’s story, shoots Ruthven in the leg, steals the map, makes her way to the island and becomes a vampire.

After she awakens, Clara meets with Darvell who brings her before The Brotherhood, a secret society of vampires who protect the secret of vampirism. As their members have traditionally always been male noblemen, they are appalled that a woman, and a low-born prostitute, has joined their ranks, and contemplate killing her. Their leader, Savella, rules that it would be a violation of their code to kill another vampire unjustly, so they let her go, warning her that she may play no part in their brotherhood, but that they still expect her to follow their code, on pain of death for any violation. For years Clara watches over Eleanor from afar.

When Eleanor is 16 years old, Clara’s decision to spare Ruthven comes back to haunt her. The vengeful captain turns up at Eleanor’s orphanage and rapes her, infecting her with what appears to be syphilis as revenge for Clara stealing his chance at immortality. Clara arrives too late to stop him and kills him in a fit of distress. Now forced to choose between incurring the Brotherhood’s wrath, or watch her daughter die a slow, painful death, Clara takes Eleanor to the island and has her transformed into a vampire, violating the Brotherhood’s code that women are not permitted to create vampires. Clara and Eleanor then spend the next two centuries running from the Brethren’s agents. Clara sustains herself by targeting criminals and other undesirables as her source of blood, while Eleanor targets people who are already dying of old age or sickness, and effectively euthanises them.

Byzantium Movie Poster

Byzantium

Directed by: Neil Jordan
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Barry Cassin, Gemma Arterto, David Heap, Warren Brown, Gabriela Marcinkova
Screenplay by: Moira Buffini
Production Design by: Simon Elliott
Cinematography by: Sean Bobbitt
Film Editing by: Tony Lawson
Costume Design by: Consolata Boyle
Music by: Javier Navarrete
MPAA Rating: R for bloody violence, sexual content and language.
Studio: Number 9 Films
Release Date: June 28, 2013

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The Heat

The Heat Movie

Taglines: Good Cop. Mad Cop.

FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) – the Fed – and Boston cop Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) – the Fuzz – couldn’t be more incompatible. But when they join forces to bring down a ruthless drug lord, they become the last thing anyone expected: buddies.

From DGA Award winner and Emmy® nominee Paul Feig, the director of Bridesmaids (worldwide theatrical gross: almost $300 million), THE HEAT takes a look at the odd couple pairing of two law enforcement officials who, to their everlasting shock, slowly find themselves on the same page. Starring Oscar-winner Sandra Bullock, whose films have grossed $2.9 billion worldwide, and Academy Award® nominee Melissa McCarthy, who has had two consecutive smash hit comedies – Bridesmaids and Identity Thief – in as many years, THE HEAT has bawdy laughs and real emotional stakes.

The Heat is an American buddy cop comedy film written by Katie Dippold and directed by Paul Feig. The plot centers on Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy as FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn and Boston Detective Shannon Mullins, who must take down a mobster. The film was released in the United States on June 28, 2013.

The Heat Movie

About the Film

When we meet Sarah Ashburn, she’s hoping for a promotion and high-tails it from her home base in New York City to Boston, to help solve the mystery behind several murders. Standing in Ashburn’s way is a hard-hitting Boston police officer, Shannon Mullins, who’s not happy that the FBI – especially the stuck-up Ashburn — is treading on her turf. Ashburn is determined to wrestle the case away from Mullins, but the disheveled, foul-mouthed, in-your-face cop is a formidable adversary. They’ll soon discover they have more in common than they ever thought possible, including their misfit status and complementary skillsets.

The Ashburn-Mullins dynamic is akin to that eternal physics problem about an irresistible force meeting an immovable object. Only, here, it’s hard to tell who is which. Ashburn is ambitious, talented, brainy, and possesses Sherlock Holmes-like powers of deduction and intuition. She’s always the smartest person in the room, and isn’t shy about letting everyone know it. The socially awkward Ashburn has no family, significant other, or even friends. Her only companion is a cat…that belongs to her neighbor.

“Ashburn’s effectiveness as an FBI agent comes from her meticulousness, stubbornness and thoroughness,” says Bullock. “But she’s completely inept when it comes to any kind of social interaction. She’s trying so hard to make up for that particular weakness that she becomes insufferably arrogant on the job. Ashburn is respected but not liked because she isn’t a team player. Every time she opens her mouth, people cringe.”

The Heat Movie - Sandra Bullock

If Ashburn needs to be taken down a notch, then Mullins is only too happy to oblige. Mullins, says Melissa McCarthy, is “all kinds of bark, but no bite – though she might actually bite people.” Mullins grew up on the streets of Boston, and has a shoot-from-the-hip (and mouth) style of dealing with crime and its perpetrators. She’s the “yang” to Ashburn’s “yin.”

Ashburn likes to get inside people’s heads; Mullins prefers bashing them in. It’s not surprising, notes director Paul Feig that the dynamic between Ashburn and Mullins is initially antagonistic, because “Ashburn wants to prove herself by solving a big case, but Mullins doesn’t want Ashburn on her turf. Mullins will not back down. In fact, she’s used to people backing down from her.”

So, Ashburn is stuck with Mullins, but the FBI Special Agent eventually realizes that her new partner’s street smarts can be an asset in their pursuit of their criminal quarry. “By learning from Mullins how to be more instinctual, in-the-moment, and less cerebral, Ashburn breaks out of her shell, opens up her thinking, and becomes a better agent,” says Feig.

At the same time, Mullins learns from Ashburn how to exercise a little self-control, and to take a breath before beating the crap out of someone. Then something completely unexpected occurs. “We joke about this, but THE HEAT is kind of a love story,” says McCarthy. “Mullins and Ashburn struggle with each other, get past it, and then actually begin to enjoy working together. That brings some heart to the comedy. Nobody wants to watch two goofy people do things poorly. But Ashburn and Mullins together are better than the sum of their individual skills, so you’re rooting for them.”

The Heat Movie

Turning on ‘The Heat’

The Heat is the first produced screenplay by Katie Dippold, who has written for television shows like Parks and Recreation and MadTV. The film was born from Dippold’s love of buddy-cop movies. She has many favorites, but singles out the 1986 comedy-action film Running Scared, starring Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines as wisecracking Chicago street cops. “I’ve always enjoyed those kinds of movies,” says Dippold, who recently signed a deal to write another comedy for director Paul Feig. “The characters and actors always seemed like they were having so much fun.”

Dippold’s love of buddy-cop films provided the foundation for a script that ultimately transcended the genre with outrageous humor and heart. Feig sparked to the script, calling it “one of the funniest I’ve ever read.”

“It turns the genre on its head by adding some breasts,” jokes Bullock. “It’s gonna surprise people what women with breasts can do.”

When the filmmaker told Dippold that THE HEAT was going to be his next film, the neophyte screenwriter was flummoxed. “I thought I was being pranked,” Dippold admits. “I got an email saying that Paul wanted to have lunch with me. After reading the email, I sat there frozen for several minutes. Then, I thought it was a joke.”

“Well, that’s Katie,” says producer Jenno Topping. “She’s incredibly humble and real.”

With Dippold’s first draft in hand, Feig moved at warp speed to cast the film, a task facilitated by his visualizing his “dream team” in the script. “I’ve always been a fan of Sandra Bullock, and as I was reading I was just like, okay, Ashburn is Sandra. Ashburn felt like her. Sandra is so funny in movies and in real life. She’s confident and cool, but she’s also analytical about things to a point where it’s comical, and which I love. And that’s how I felt about the Ashburn character.”

“Sandra brings a sweet quality to what could have been an unlikable character,” adds Katie Dippold. “She really nails that ‘A+-student’ vibe, and she’s hilarious.” And McCarthy notes that, “Sandra is great, funny and weird. We are very much in sync.”

It didn’t take much convincing to bring Bullock aboard THE HEAT. She was a big fan of Bridesmaids, and eager to work with its director, Feig. “Watching Bridesmaids was one of those rare moments when I thought to myself that this is a person [Feig] I want to work with because you know he is going to make you better – and that he could turn THE HEAT into something memorable.”

To cast Mullins, Feig looked no further than his Bridesmaids breakout star, Melissa McCarthy. “On Bridesmaids, Melissa became my hero,” he says. “So, about 15 pages into reading THE HEAT, the idea of casting her just snapped into my head. The script, which was already hilarious, got ten times funnier when I read it while imagining Melissa as Mullins.

The chemistry between Bullock and McCarthy was evident from the first table read. “When we read the script [together] for the first time, Melissa and I would make the same faces, simultaneously,” Bullock recalls. “Our rhythms are different, but we worked so well together, they began to click. We made so many connections; it’s something I never thought I would have on this level.”

The strength of the Bullock-McCarthy dynamic, evident even then, inspired additional script fine-tuning. “By the end of that first read, it was obvious that Sandy and Melissa really inhabited these characters, and that it was up to Katie Dippold and me to take all that magic and get it into the script – and really let the women fly,” says Feig.

Dippold remained with THE HEAT through production, coming up with alternate jokes and character bits. “I always allow improv,” Feig notes,” but you must always start with a great script.”

For Dippold, the process was liberating. “Sandy and Melissa took what was on the page and made it funnier than I thought it could ever be,” she says. A particular favorite came during a Mullins’ tirade against her captain (played by Tom Wilson) – accusing him of lacking a set of testes – when he refuses her demand to boot Ashburn from the case. “Melissa really ran with the one scripted line, ‘Have you seen the captain’s balls?’ and turned it into something spectacular.”

The Heat Movie Poster

The Heat

Directed by: Paul Feig
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Kaitlin Olson, Taran Killam, Raw Leiba, Michael Rapaport, Kathryn Shasha
Screenplay by: Katie Dippold
Production Design by: Jefferson Sage
Cinematography by: Robert D. Yeoman
Film Editing by: Jay Deuby, Brent White
Costume Design by: Catherine Marie Thomas
Set Decoration by: Kyra Friedman Curcio
Music by: Michael Andrews
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language, strong crude content and some violence.
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: June 28, 2013

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I’m So Excited

I'm So Excited Movie

A technical failure has endangered the lives of the people on board Peninsula Flight 2549. The pilots are striving, along with their colleagues in the Control Center, to find a solution. The flight attendants and the chief steward are atypical, baroque characters who, in the face of danger, try to forget their own personal problems and devote themselves body and soul to the task of making the flight as enjoyable as possible for the passengers, while they wait for a solution. Life in the clouds is as complicated as it is at ground level, and for the same reasons, which could be summarized in two: sex and death.

I’m So Excited! is a Spanish comedy film written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar, and starring Javier Cámara, Cecilia Roth, Lola Dueñas and Raúl Arévalo. The original Spanish title is Los amantes pasajeros, which has a double meaning of “The fleeting lovers” and “The passenger lovers”. The narrative is set almost entirely on an airplane. Almodóvar describes it as “a light, very light comedy”.

I'm So Excited Movie Poster

I’m So Excited

Directed by: Pedro Almodóvar
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz, Antonio de la Torre, Hugo Silva, Laya Martí, Javier Cámara, Miguel Ángel Silvestre
Screenplay by: Pedro Almodóvar
Production Design by: Antxón Gómez
Cinematography by: José Luis Alcaine
Film Editing by: José Salcedo
Costume Design by: David Delfín, Tatiana Hernández
Set Decoration by: María Clara Notari
Art Direction by: Federico García Cambero
Music by: Alberto Iglesias
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content including crude references, and drug use.
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Release Date: June 28, 2013

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Unfinished Song – Song for Marion

Unfinished Song - Song for Marion

Taglines: Open your heart. Find your voice.

Arthur Harris is the grumpy husband of Marion, who is terminally ill yet continues to participate with enthusiasm at her local seniors’ choir. Arthur is unimpressed when the choir, led by mistress Elizabeth, serenades the couple at their home. As Marion’s health deteriorates, Arthur is keen to please his dying wife and even agrees to take her place in the choir. The transition proves to be trying for Arthur thanks to the unconventional songbook that includes racier songs such as “Let’s Talk About Sex”. Arthur’s experience in this new social environment will take him on a journey of self-discovery and thaw his bitterness, qualities that he will need in his imminent transition to life without Marion.

The funny and uplifting story of Arthur (Terence Stamp), a curmudgeon old soul perfectly content with sticking to his dull daily routine until his beloved wife (Vanessa Redgrave) introduces him to a spirited local singing group led by the youthful and charming Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton). This unexpected friendship and his discovery of music revitalizes Arthur’s passion for new adventures and shows us all life should be celebrated at any age.

Song for Marion (released in the United States as Unfinished Song) is a British-German comedy-drama film written and directed by Paul Andrew Williams and starring Terence Stamp, Gemma Arterton, Christopher Eccleston, and Vanessa Redgrave. The film was nominated for three awards—Best Actor, Best Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress—at the 2012 British Independent Film Awards.

Unfinished Song - Song for Marion Movie Poster

Song for Marion

Directed by: Paul Andrew Williams
Starring: Gemma Arterton, Christopher Eccleston, Vanessa Redgrave, Terence Stamp, Anne Reid
Screenplay by: Paul Andrew Williams
Production Design by: Sophie Becher
Cinematography by: Carlos Catalán
Film Editing by: Dan Farrell
Costume Design by: Jo Thompson
Set Decoration by: Stella Fox
Music by: Laura Rossi
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sexual references and rude gestures.
Studio: The Weinstein Company
Release Date: June 21, 2013

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