The Conjuring 2 stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga have been friends for years and their easy and effervescent chemistry is so evident on screen, playing paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.
Conjuring 2 follows the Warrens, just coming off the Amityville case, in which they are labeled by some as charlatans for believing the house was possessed by a demon. Lorraine wants to pull back on their work because she has visions of something horrible happening to her husband. But a case across the pond in Enfield, north of London, brings them back into the demon fold. They are sent to investigate claims that a malicious spirit is plaguing the home of a single mother, Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor), and her four children living there. Particularly affected is 11-year-old Janet Hodgson (Madison Wolfe), who seems to be the conduit for the spirit. Let’s just say this… it’s just as scary as the first one!
Knight of Cups is one of those surreal, existential journeys that only director Terrence Malick can bring to life on the big screen. The film’snarrative mostly meanders, but it’s so filled with stunning imagery, you definitely get wrapped up. Malick is a love it or hate it kind of filmmaker, but there’s no questions this guy feels things, and maybe projects himself a little into Christian Bale’s role as a successful screenwriter who ponders on his past loves. Knight of Cups is also most definitely a love letter to the City of Angels, even while showing the grimier side.
Check out my interviews with stars Freida Pinto and Teresa Palmer that I did for We Got This Covered… they were quite lovely and talk about how they interpret the film and what is was like working with Malick on set.
Hail, Caesar! is Joel and Ethan Coen’s homage to the old Hollywood studio system. It takes place in 1950s Hollywood and centers on a studio executive and “fixer” by the name of Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), who, on any given day, has to put numerous fires and keep the studio’s big stars out of the gossip columns.
But on one particularly bad day, the studio’s big star, the buffoonish Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) goes missing, which is a big deal since he is starring in the studio’s grandest film to date – a sword and sandal epic about a Roman tribune who encounters the power of Jesus Christ. So it’s up to the multitasking Eddie to figure out how to get him back (and it has something do with Trumbo-like writers, all hardcore Communists).
The film also stars Channing Tatum, as Burt Gurney, a Gene Kelley/Donald O’Connor type star who has one helluva a musical number; Scarlett Johansson as DeeAnna Moran, an Esther Williams-type star whose really not all that “sweet”; newcomer Alden Ehrenreich (Beautiful Creatures) as Hobie Doyle, a young Western star ill-fitted to do much else; Tilda Swinton as twin sister gossip columnists (yes, like THOSE gossip columnists of the 1950s); Ralph Fiennes as director Laurence Laurentz who wants to do serious films; and Jonah Hill, as Joseph Silverman, an accountant who’ll do anything for the job, including going to jail or adopting a big star’s baby.
Quentin Tarantino’s latest Western opus The Hateful Eight offers stellar moments for the entire acting ensemble.
Set in the years following the Civil War, the story follows a Wyoming bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell), who is bringing wanted criminal Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to the gallows in a local town. They get sidelined by a blizzard and are forced to hole up in Minnie’s haberdashery with six other strangers to wait out the storm. The inhabitants include a black bounty hunter (Samuel L. Jackson), a British lawman (Tim Roth), the local sheriff (Walton Goggins), a Civil War general (Bruce Dern), a Mexican running the haberdashery in Minnie’s absence (Damien Bichir), and a rogue cowboy (Michael Madsen). Soon, they all find themselves in a plot of betrayal and deception, and it’s not certain who will survive.
Krampus, which took the top spot at the box office this past weekend, is one of those fun horror/comedy flicks that might just be a great intro for those slightly older kids ready for their first horror movie.
The story revolves around a dysfunctional family, who come together for their annual Christmas holiday. Young Max (Emjay Anthony) still believes in Santa but is finding harder and harder to stick to his beliefs, especially when everyone around him has lost that Christmas spirit. His estranged parents, Tom (Adam Scott) and Sarah (Toni Collette), host the gathering because they have the big house and lots of money, but when Sarah’s sister, Linda (Fargo‘s Allison Tolman) and her red-neck brood, including husband Howard (David Koechner), drunk aunt (Conchata Ferrell) and their four obnoxious kids, come barreling in, it’s just chaos. Only Max’s German grandmother, Omi (Krista Sadler), tries to keep Max’s hope alive because she has experienced first-hand what happens when you give up on Christmas — instead of Santa and gifts, you get the mythical creature Krampus and a world of hurt.
But it’s too late. After a very embarrassing moment with his mean cousins and squabbling family, Max tears up his letter to Santa, thus releasing that bad mojo into the air and summoning Krampus and his evil Christmas-y minions, all ready to take the souls of Max’s whole family. Now it’s up to the clan to overcome their differences and band together to fight Krampus and regain their holiday cheer. Good luck!
ScreenPicks had a great time at the press day, talking with stars Collette, Tolman and Scott, along with director Michael Dougherty, about the film’s themes, their own Christmas memories and what scary things they couldn’t get out of their heads when they were a kid. Continue reading How to Interview: Cast of “Krampus”→
Miss You Already delves into familiar territory, telling a story about a close friendship between two women (Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette) that is rocked by a breast cancer diagnosis, but it also surprises you with its honesty, humor and all-too-real way this disease affects the people it touches.
But first and foremost, it’s a story about women, directed and written by women, and it’s empowering. ScreenPicks sat down with director Catherine Hardwicke to talk about making Miss You Already and how she’s standing up for equal rights for women filmmakers!
Step 1: Find the project
“I really hadn’t thought about the subject. Of course, I’ve had three friends who have gone through this, my dad’s gone through this, so there’s nobody that’s been exempt from this. But then this beautiful script came from the producer. I met him in 2003 with Thirteen and he said he was riding his bike in London and my face popped into his head. And he thought, ‘Maybe Catherine would be the one to direct this.’ So I started getting drawn in, coming up with little changes, things I wanted to do. Met with the writer [Morwenna Banks] who was very open to it.” Continue reading How to Interview: Catherine Hardwicke on “Miss You Already”→
The excellent Trumbo examines a black time in Hollywood history. In the 1950s when the Cold War was just beginning it’s ugly reign, the perceived threat of an invading Communist regime threw most Americans into a panic. As the Red scare spread, it hit the entertainment industry particularly hard, as those with any affiliation with what was deemed “unpatriotic” were placed on a blacklist and lost their livelihoods.
The film follows one blacklisted screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston), part of the Hollywood 10, who decided to fight back using the only weapon he had at his disposal: his words. After being demonized by the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), led primarily by the hugely popular gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren), and even sent to jail for a time for contempt, Trumbo came out swinging. He continued to write in any way he could, finding like-minded, low budget producers to buy his scripts under aliases and also buy the work of his blacklisted friends. Trumbo even won two uncredited screenwriting Oscars (for Roman Holidayand The Brave One) during this time. The man never gave up, and when he finally received credit for his work on Spartacus in 1960, Trumbo’s in-your-face coup was instrumental in dismantling the Hollywood blacklist.
At the film’s press conference, stars Cranston, Diane Lane (who plays Trumbo’s wife, Cleo), Elle Fanning (who plays Trumbo’s oldest daughter, Niki), Michael Stuhlbarg (who plays Edward G. Robinson) and director Jay Roach all discuss the impact Trumbo made on the industry, how the blacklist history relates to today’s climate, and more. Continue reading How to Interview: The Cast of “Trumbo”→
The indie heart-breaker Room is a movie you won’t be able to stop thinking about. Based on the novel by Emma Donoghue, who also wrote the screenplay, the story follows 5-year-old Jack (Jacob Tremblay), who has lived his whole life in one room with his Ma (Brie Larson). You find out this room is actually a prison for Ma, who was abducted and forced to live there for seven years, but for Jack, it’s his whole world and one filled with endless possibilities.
Ma, however, desperately wants to escape and now that Jack is somewhat old enough to understand, she tells him about her plan to get out, for which she needs Jack’s help. Once the plan is in action, Jack is suddenly faced with a more awe-inspiring revelation: There is an even bigger, more amazing world outside of Room.
At the film’s press conference, writer Donoghue, stars Larson, Tremblay and Joan Allen (who plays Grandma) and director Lenny Abrahamson speak about the powerful emotions in making this film and about how the absolute purity of working with young Tremblay made everyone bring their A game.
Step 1: Turning the book into the film
Emma Donoghue: “I relished the opportunity because cinema has different techniques and offers different pleasures. One thing I love, which is different from the book, is when you’re looking at Jacob’s face on screen and you don’t know what’s going through his mind. I love the un-spelled out nature of that. In the book you know exactly what they’re thinking. I love that Ma and Jack is a real two-hander in the film – you get equal access to both of them. In many ways, that’s a huge improvement on the book. There were many moments where I’d change things in the script and Lenny would say let’s get back to the book. I didn’t feel opposition. It felt as if he and I were both trying to translate the magic.” Continue reading How to Interview: The Cast of “Room”→
In the new horror comedy Cooties, one seriously contaminated chicken nugget makes it way to an elementary school cafeteria in middle-town USA, and after an unfortunate little girl eats said disgusting nugget, she suddenly isn’t quite herself. No, instead she turns into a flesh-eating little monster, infecting her fellow classmates with “cooties,” and turning them all into rampaging zombies.
Now, it’s left to the poor hapless teachers (Alison Pill, Elijah Wood, Jack McBrayer, Rainn Wilson, Leigh Whannell, Nasim Pedrad), to figure out what’s happening and escape the school grounds before they become the next lunch meat.
ScreenPicks had fun talking with Pill, Wood and McBrayer about those days when chicken nuggets and McDonald’s Playlands ruled and how they dealt with cooties on the playground.
Make sure to check out the hilarious Cooties, now playing in select theaters and on VOD!