A new drama from writer/director Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, The Hunger Games) titled Free State of Jones is now playing in theaters. The film follows the true story of Newton Knight, a farmer in Civil-War era Mississippi who abandoned the Confederate Army and formed a militia consisting of both white farmers and African-Americans who took over and declared Jones County an independent state. Ross adapted the screenplay from author Victoria Bynum’s The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War, although there are numerous publications of Knight’s stance in Jones County. Appearing as Newton Knight is Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar, Dallas Buyer’s Club), who is joined onscreen by Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Concussion, Jupiter Ascending), Mahershala Ali (House of Cards, The Place Beyond the Pines), Keri Russell (The Americans, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), Christopher Berry (Django Unchained, 12 Years a Slave), and Jacob Lofland (Mud, The Scorch Trials). This is definitely a lesser-known portion of American history, but one that is definitely intriguing, although I will say that the trailer reads a bit like The Patriot. If you’re looking for an evening out this week, keep this one on your list. The trailer is available here on MADE.
With writers in Hollywood constantly falling short of a new and interesting idea for a good movie, filmmakers are continuing to turn to real-life biographies for inspiration, particularly in the music industry. Such is the case with these two upcoming movies, which follow two of the 20th century’s most original musical acts, the charismatic James Brown, and the New Jersey native Frankie Valli. Get On Up follows the story of James Brown’s rise from poverty and imprisonment to international fame and features an all-star cast including Chadwick Boseman (The Kill Hole, 42), Viola Davis (Doubt, The Help), and Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters, The Blues Brothers). The film is directed by The Help director Tate Taylor and comes from a screenplay by Jez and John-Henry Butterworth. Jersey Boys is a film-adaptation of the award winning Broadway musical of the same title, which follows Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and their rise to commercial success from Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino, Million Dollar Baby). Other upcoming biopics on music legends includes a film from actor Don Cheadle about legendary jazz musician Miles Davis, and a Jimi Hendrix biopic starring Anthony Mackie (Captain America: The Winter Soldier). While Cheadle’s project is still looking for some solid financing, Mackie will portray Hendrix in a film that will follow the last 9 days of the iconic musician’s life, with Thandie Newton (Crash, The Pursuit of Happyness) and Noomi Rapace (Prometheus, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) on board to take on supporting roles for director Ol Parker (Imagine Me & You, Now Is Good). Stay tuned for more updates!