It seems that Westerns are continuing to make a comeback to big screen productions. The last decade has seen titles like 3:10 to Yuma, The Lone Ranger, True Grit, No Country For Old Men, Django Unchained, and Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming Christmas release The Hateful Eight bring in big hauls at the box office, and now 3x Oscar-winning writer and director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Babel, Birdman) will be releasing his latest feature this January. The film is titled The Revenant and is based on the novel by Michael Punke about real-life frontiersman Hugh Glass, who was abandoned and left for dead by members of his own team after being mauled by a bear, and set out on a mission of survival and vengeance across the uncharted American wilderness during the 1820s. Starring in the lead role is Oscar-nominee Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic, The Wolf of Wall Street), with Tom Hardy (Lawless, Mad Max: Fury Road), Will Poulter (We’re The Millers, The Maze Runner), and Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina, Unbroken) making up the supporting cast. A new trailer is now available here on MADE. The film will see a limited theatrical release this Christmas Day, with a nationwide extension supposedly happening in January. Given the cast and the writer/director behind the project, I think this will probably be one of the year’s best releases, so mark this one down on your Must-See list.
A new Western-drama from Oscar-winning director Daniel Barber (The Tonto Woman, Harry Brown) titled The Keeping Room will be opening in theaters this September 25th. Written by actress-turned-screenwriter Julia Hart (Tuck Everlasting), the film centers around three Southern women (two sisters and an African American slave) in the final days of the American Civil War who must defend themselves and their land from rogue Union soldiers while the Union Army draws ever nearer to their location. Starring in the lead roles are actresses Brit Marling (Sound of My Voice, I Origins), Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit, Ender’s Game), and Muna Otaru (Syriana, Lions for Lambs), with Sam Worthington (Terminator Salvation, Avatar), Kyle Soller (Anna Karenina, Fury), and Ned Dennehy (King Arthur, Sherlock Holmes) making up the supporting cast. The film originally aired at the London and Stockholm Film Festival, receiving a nomination for Best Film and the Bronze Horse award, and was also an Official Selection at the Toronto International Film Festival. The trailer is available here on MADE. We’ll keep you posted as the release date draws closer. Enjoy!
With filming completed on the new Star Wars sequel, The Force Awakens, director J.J. Abrams has released a new teaser trailer just in time for the holiday new-release previews. There’s not a lot of hints regarding the whole plot-line, but there are some pretty cool sequences that are included and you can definitely get a feel of how Abrams has approached the material with his own style of filmmaking. The movie is not scheduled for release until next December, so Abrams presumably has a lot of work still to do in the editing and special effects departments, but the trailer alone gives a pretty good idea of what to expect. Original actors Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford are all returning for the new film, which picks up years after the conclusion of Return of the Jedi, which was released in 1983. Also joining the original cast for the film are actors Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), Domhnall Gleeson (True Grit, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2), Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones, The Zero Theorum), Oscar Isaac (Robin Hood, Inside Llewyn Davis), and John Boyega (Junkhearts, 24: Live Another Day), who we actually see pop up in the trailer. The script was written by Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, who also wrote The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), plus the first Indiana Jones installment Raiders of the Lost Art (1981). Other returning cast members from the film series are Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), and Kenny Baker (R2-D2). Enjoy!
Tony-winning actor Mark Rylance (The Other Boleyn Girl, Blitz) is currently in talks to take a role in director Steven Spielberg’s next film project, a Cold War thriller that follows the real-life story of attorney James Donovan. Donovan is best known for negotiating the release of Gary Powers, a U-2 plane pilot who was imprisoned after being interrogated for espionage by the KGB. Rylance was up for the role of the Mad Hatter’s father in the upcoming sequel to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, but he has since moved on from that project, which will once again feature Johnny Depp as the Hatter. Spielberg’s new film, which has yet to be titled, will also feature Oscar-winner Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, Captain Phillips) in the role of Donovan, and will be his fourth collaboration with the director Spielberg. The film is expected to begin production this fall, but is currently still awaiting a script re-write from writers/directors Joel and Ethan Coen (Oh Brother Where Art Thou, True Grit), so we’ll have to wait to hear more information on this as the details emerge. Stay tuned!
Director J.J. Abrams has finally released the official cast list for the long-anticipated seventh installment of the Star Wars franchise, which will follow George Lucas’s original trilogy. Returning from the original series are actors Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), and Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), as well as the droid characters Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker (C-3P0 and R2-D2), who have appeared in every Star Wars film since the original in 1977. Peter Mayhew will also reprise the role of Chewbacca, Han Solo’s Wookie co-pilot. Among the new generation of actors joining the space saga are John Boyega (Junkhearts, Half of a Yellow Sun), Daisy Ridley (Blue Season, Scrawl), Oscar Issac (Inside Llewyn Davis, Robin Hood), and Adam Driver (J. Edgar, Lincoln), although their respective roles are still unclear at this point. Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit), Domhnall Gleeson (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, True Grit), and veteran actor Max Von Sydow (The Exorcist, Shutter Island) will also be taking roles in the new film. The film is scheduled to begin shooting next month, so production is truly underway now. We’ll keep an eye out for more news.
Actor Kevin Costner has a decent amount of experience in the western genre. His breakthrough directorial project, Dances With Wolves, earned him an Oscar for Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Actor in a Lead Role in 1991. Costner also teamed up with veteran actor Robert Duvall for Open Range (2003), which was a fairly popular movie among modern westerns but failed to reach the acclaim Costner had received for Wolves a decade earlier. Since Open Range, movies in the western genre have been few and far between. Re-makes like 3:10 To Yuma and True Grit have really dominated the scene for the last few years, with a few exceptions like Django Unchained, The Missing, and No Country For Old Men keeping western films credible as important reflections on American history. Costner is now preparing to revisit the western genre with a trilogy of films that he hopes to release within a 12 month timeframe. There is no news thus far on what the films would be about or who would star in them along Costner, but we’ll first have to find out if any of the production companies will agree to budget a modern western trilogy, especially after the failure that was The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp. Modern sagas like Star Wars, Spider-Man, and Pirates of the Caribbean not only have the star power to make money for the film industry, they also have special effects and 3D appeal for audiences, as opposed to the low-budget stories laid out in western films. That being said, it would be cool to see a new western epic hit the big screen, especially since Quentin Tarantino backed out of his latest western after it was leaked on the internet. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.
Tommy Lee Jones has always been well known in Hollywood, but in recent years the actor has been taking his talents to new heights, stepping into the writer’s, producer’s, and director’s chairs for a number of projects. The actor is now slated to begin working with Warner Bros. to bring back a John Wayne western entitled The Cowboys, which follows the story of a rancher who finds himself without a crew to man his cattle ranch and so must hire the local schoolboys to avoid bankruptcy. Jones will be writing the script and directing the film, but there has been no word as to whether or not he will be doing any acting himself.
The original film was released in 1972, becoming one of Wayne’s last major pictures. He would go on to star in another 6 films before his death in 1979. The Cowboys will joining a growing list of John Wayne remakes. Joel and Ethan Coen did a remake of True Grit back in 2010 with Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon, and director John Singleton gave The Sons of Katie Elder a modernized revamp back in 2005 with Mark Wahlberg and Tyrese Gibson in Four Brothers. Whether or not Jones will be in front of the camera or not, his presence in the project should be enough to make a promising movie. His last film, The Sunset Limited, in which he directed and co-starred with Samuel L. Jackson, is now available on HBO. Jones next acting/directing project, The Homesman, is currently in post-production, but has not yet been given a release date. The Family, which stars Robert De Niro, Jones, and Michelle Pfeiffer will be hitting theaters this Friday (the 13th!!).