Tag Archive | "Mila Kunis"

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Jessica Biel NOT Cast As The Viper In THE WOLVERINE

Posted on 18 July 2012 by William Gatevackes

One bad thing about relying on other news sites for stories that appear here is that sometimes, other sites get it wrong. Last Friday, Deadline stated that Jessica Biel was cast as The Viper in The Wolverine. Not “might be cast” or “In talks for the role,” they said she was cast. Fair enough. We reported that as a fact here, expanding on the news as to the comic book origin of the character she would be playing and how she might fit into the film.

However, today, Collider has an exclusive stating that not only wasn’t Biel officially cast, but also that talks had broken down and she wouldn’t be playing the part at all. (For their part, Deadline has a terse, three sentence blurb admitting they were wrong.)

So, Jessica Biel will not be in The Wolverine, which might be all for the best. While I think Biel is an attractive and  capable actress, when I think of The Viper, I think of a more exotic beauty in the role. I would think of someone like Morena Baccarin (Firefly, V, Homeland) or Mila Kunis (Black Swan, Ted). Or, for an oddball choice, Rachel Weisz. While she might be out of the film’s pay rate, and the ageist Hollywood system might not see someone 42 as being able to convincingly play a femme fatale, she has a similar, Eastern European lineage as the character (Weisz mother was of Austrian ancestry and her father of Hungarian), she has shown chemistry with Hugh Jackman (in The Fountain), has an Oscar on her shelf, and has comic book movie cred (from Constantine).

Just an idea. If thissounds good to you, Fox executives, no need to send money. Just a couple passes to the New York premiere would be fine.

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Review: TED

Posted on 29 June 2012 by Rich Drees

Here’s a tip if you are planning on going to see Ted, the feature film directorial debut of Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. Give the 1980 version of Flash Gordon a quick watch. Without giving away too many spoilers, the film is an important one in the lives of John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) and Ted, the stuffed teddy bear that Bennett magically wished to life when he was a boy. The film serves as the basis for a couple of jokes as well as a plot point or two. (No a crazy, bearded scientist doesn’t kidnap them on a home-built rocketship to Mongo.) Having the film somewhat fresh in your mind will certainly help with appreciating those moments.

But that’s not to say that the film is entirely dependent on a parade of pop culture references, a charge that has been fired at MacFarlane’s Family Guy by its critics. If anything, Ted is a combination romantic comedy, bromance and very fractured fairytale. It is also a very funny and raunchy film that still manages to have some sweetness at its core.

An avuncular narrator informs us at the beginning of the film that following the initial media explosion of Ted’s miraculous appearance, he slipped back into relative obscurity, “like Corey Feldman”. And now, 25 years later, he is still John’s best friend. They share an apartment, get high and still watch their favorite movie from childhood – Flash Gordon. And although the pair may have physically moved from the suburbs to downtown Boston, their lives have not progressed much further.

Surprisingly, even though John works the counter at a local car rental agency, he has managed to land himself a fairly successful girlfriend in the form of Lori (Mila Kunis). On the eve of their fourth anniversary of dating, Lori tells John that they need to take their relationship to the next level and that includes diamond rings and Ted getting his own place. John reluctantly agrees and even though Ted moves into a rather dingy apartment above a Chinese takeout place, John still spends an inordinate amount of time with his furry buddy, to the point where Lori breaks up with John in exasperation. However, the two reunite when Ted finds himself the target of some unwanted attention from a stalkerish former fan and his son.

As expected, MacFarlane plums every situation for laughs and never is satisfied with just giving us the first one he finds. Many sequences, such as an out-of-control party at Ted’s apartment and a fight between Ted and John in a hotel room, continue to build and escalate to absurd levels. And kudos should be given out to the handful of celebrities who cameo as, and poke fun at, themselves.

But MacFarlane manages to ground the high concept and silly shenanigans with some strong character writing for the three leads. Unlike many movie couples, where you only believe that they are together for the sake of the plot, the relationship between John and Lisa feels very natural and sweet. MacFarlane’s script gives the couple moments that hint at their long relationship and Wahlberg and Kunis’s chemistry together sells it easily. When it comes time for Lori to insist that Ted move out, there is a hint of sadness revealing that although she feels what she is asking is the right thing for everyone, she still realizes that she is coming between two great friends. It could have been very easy to make her seem like a bitch at this point, but MacFarlane goes for a more nuanced moment. For his part, Wahlberg delivers his best comedic performance yet and manages to enhance it with some pathos when he finds himself torn between Lori and Ted.

While some might dismiss the film’s high concept of a talking teddy bear as just another in a long line of talking non-human characters that have appeared in his work, MacFarlane manages to use the relationship between Ted and John as a metaphor for the pressure to leave behind childish things when one reaches adulthood. It’s an additional layer one doesn’t normally expect to find in a summer comedy, and its inclusion is welcome.

The weakest portion of the film is the plotline involving the creepy father and son who bear-nap Ted. This is what drives most of the third act and although it does help to resolve the relationship issues between Ted, John and Lori, it still manages to feel a bit tacked on and perhaps could have been more strongly set up earlier in the film.

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Michelle Williams To Play Glinda In OZ: THE GREAT AND POWERFUL

Posted on 18 May 2011 by Rich Drees

Sam Raimi has finally locked the last major player in the cast for his upcoming Oz: The Great And Powerful with the casting of Michelle Williams as the good witch Glinda.

Williams’ Glinda will be teaming up James Franco as a carnival huckster who has arrived in Oz to battle against her two evil sisters Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Theadora (Mila Kunis) for control of the magical kingdom over the rainbow. The film is a prequel to Frank L Baum’s classic children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, which was adapted in to the classic musical film in 1939 starring Judy Garland, Frank Morgan as the Wizard, Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West and Billie Burke as Glinda.

Raimi has had a rough time solidifying his cast for the film. Originally, Robert Downey Jr was attached to the part of the carnival pitchman who sets himself up as a wizard. He left the project in January 2011 and Johnny Depp was briefly involved before Franco signed on. He also went head-to-head with the studio over the casting of Evanora, before the two finally compromised on Weisz.

But despite all the problems there may have been, the end result is an exciting and solid cast. All three actresses are solid and dependable performers and Franco, however flakey he may come off in interview situations, has always turned in good work as well. I like that the film has more female leads than male ones. It’s a refreshing change from usual blockbuster fare.

And hopefully, William’s Glinda won’t suffer from the same bad eyesight that Burke’s did when she famously said to Dorothy that “Only bad witches were ugly” right after asking her “Are you a good witch or a bad witch?”

With the main casting set, Oz: The Great And Powerful is well on its way towards meeting its July production start date.

Via Variety.

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Mila Kunis Off To See OZ, THE GREAT AND POWERFUL

Posted on 18 February 2011 by Rich Drees

Mila Kunis is off to see the Wizard.

The Black Swan actress has been offered a role in Sam Raimi’s upcoming prequel-ish Oz, The Great And Powerful, as Theodorah, the younger sister of Evanorah who goes on to become the Wicked Witch of the West. Those of you up on your Oz lore knows that this will make Kunis the future Wicked Witch of the East and a future target for a Kansas farmhouse dropping out of the skies.

Vulture is reporting that Raimi was able to snatch Kunis away from the Hughes Brothers’ upcoming live action adaptation of the classic anime Akira, which had her the role of Kei, a young rebel who becomes the love interest of the lead Kaneda who is searching the Tokyo of the future for his missing friend. They are also reporting that Kunis’s involvement has sealed the deal with James Franco to star as the titular Kansas caroival huckster who is transported to the magical kingdom and mistaken for a powerful wizard.

The screenplay for Oz, The Great And Powerful landed on last year’s Black List of the best unproduced scripts circulating through Hollywood, though reportedly David Lindsay-Abaire (Inkheart) has just turned in a polish. Production is set to start at the Walt Disney Studios in July.

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New Releases: January 21

Posted on 20 January 2011 by William Gatevackes

1. No Strings Attached (Paramount, 3,018 Theaters, 110 Minutes, Rated R): I don’t know about you, but when I look at this film, it strikes me as it is above Ashton Kutcher’s usual fare and quite a bit below Natalie Portman’s (an actress who apparently looking to over take Michael Caine as the hardest working actor/actress in film. This is just one of about 500 films she has been or will be in within the last 24 months).

This film does come with a pedigree. It was originally called Fuckbuddies and the script by Elizabeth Meriwether was ranked #5 on the 2008 Black List of worth reading unproduced scripts. It was then renamed Friends With Benefits, but that name had to change when the producers realized there was a similarly themed film with that name starring Justin Timberlake and Portman’s Black Swan sparring partner Mila Kunis in the works.

The trailer had some laughs in it, but mostly from the supporting characters. That really isn’t as good a sign as you might think it is.

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Review: THE BOOK OF ELI

Posted on 15 January 2010 by Rich Drees

The Book Of Eli starts off like many other post-apocalyptic films. A lone protagonist moves through a blasted, oft-times monochromatic landscape, scavenging for whatever will help them survive for another day in this hellish world. Their journey is mostly silent, except for brief moments where they talk to themselves. Eli (Denzel Washington) is such a traveler, but we will learn that he has a mission that is just more than survival.

Once we get past this pro-forma beginning, The Book Of Eli does manage to distinguish itself by actually becoming a treatise on the power of religion to inspire hope in people and how that power of religion to inspire hope in people and how that power can be used or misused. Eli comes across a small town where others of the unspecified apocalypse scratch out a living. Ruling over the town is Carnegie (Gary Oldman), one of the few people old enough to have learned how to read before the collapse of civilization. (Anyone born after the cataclysm three decades prior hasn’t had too much time for schooling.) He is searching for a specific book which he believes can solidify his power base in the town and expand it out into the surrounding territory. It is no spoiler that the book in question is The Bible and Eli happens to be carrying one of the last copies known to exist. (Most were destroyed by the survivors of the left unexplained apocalypse.) Needless to say, Eli isn’t about to hand it over and leaves town in the company of the step-daughter that Carnegie pimps out (Mila Kunis) with Carnegie and his gang of thugs in pursuit.

Directors Albert and Allen Hughes do a good job in balancing the film’s action text against its thematic subtext. Many of the gun battles between Eli and his various opponents are stylishly done. There’s one such scene where the camera circles back and forth between Eli and a couple of other defenders in a house and Carnegie’s forces outside in what appears to be a seamless, continuous shot.

Washington and Oldman likewise do admirable jobs in allowing their characters to embody the film’s theme. Eli is a calm man trying his best to live by what he has read in the Bible, though in order to finish his mission to deliver the book westward, he will need to do something more proactive than turning the other cheek. Carnegie, on the other hand, simply sees the words in the Bible as a tool to manipulate people to his own ends. At once, the film is a critique of organized religion and an endorsement of the power of faith. An interesting mixture, given Hollywood’s general shying away from any religious these lest they offend potential ticket buyers. Screenwriter Gary Whitta manages to pull it off well, making this that very rare breed, a thinking man’s action film.

Unfortunately, The Book Of Eli stumbles right at the finish line, going on for about five minutes too long. The job that Eli set out to do is completed in an interesting, though not entirely unsurprising, way. But rather than fade to black and roll credits at this moment, the movie feels compelled to revisit some of the supporting characters one more time, to tie up each of their storylines in a nice neat bow, while we receive a final voiceover from Eli. The character resolutions are nothing unexpected and the movie already gives us enough to surmise what is in store for them without having to explicitly spell it out for us with these little codas. Additionally, Eli’s voiceover needlessly reiterates some inner workings of his own character that are implied through the final part of the story. It seems sadly ironic that a film about faith would suddenly loose its own in the audience in its final moments.

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Review: EXTRACT

Posted on 05 September 2009 by Rich Drees

ExtractPosterThe first scene of Michael Judge’s new comedy Extract features Mila Kunis’s character Cindy in a music store, buying an expensive electric guitar as a gift for her father. However, the moment when the two fawning clerks’ backs are turned, she casually picks up the unpaid-for guitar off the counter and walks out the door. Judge manages a similar smooth con on the audience with the film. While it starts off with the promise of a workplace-set comedy similar to his debut live action feature Office Space, but manages to snatch that away from us when we are not looking. Instead of leaving us with an empty counter where an electric guitar used to be and the disquieting feeling of being ripped-off, Judge leaves us with the story of a man experiencing a near perfect storm of crises that manages to elicit a few chuckles in the process.

After having the abusive treatment he received over the bare perfunctory release accorded to his last film, Idiocracy, by its studio, it would be understandable that Judge would want to retreat to the setting of the cult favorite Office Space. But Extract isn’t another story of drudgeries of working in a cubical farm. In fact, the only real similarity that the two films share are that they both center on average guys who have found that the responsibilities of adulthood have drained the enjoyment out of his life.

Joel (Jason Bateman) seems to have achieved a certain amount of success in his life, but he is unable to enjoy it. His factory manufacturing various cooking flavor extracts is being eyed for a buy-out by General Mills, but all he can concentrate on is the petty bickering that goes on amongst the workers on the company’s factory floor and the fact that his and his wife’s sex life has been DOA for several months now. A freak accident that leaves one of his workers (Clifton Collins, Jr.) minus a testicle attracts conwoman Cindy (Kunis) to town, who hopes to convince him to sue the company for millions of dollars which she will then steal. Worming her way into the company as a line worker, Cindy manages to attract the attention of Joel, who would like to pursue her, but only if he can do so without feeling guilty about cheating on his wife. To that end, Joel and his bartender friend Dean (a bearded Ben Affleck), hire dimwitted gigolo Brad (Dustin Milligan) to seduce Joel’s wife. Things spiral out of control for all parties involved from there.

Extract1As you can see, Extract’s biggest problem is its overabundance of plot. The film practically groans under the weight of the amount of maneuvering required to get many of the characters to a point where things really start to get going. But while the laughs are more plentiful in the second half, the various storylines meander and lose focus. (Ironic, as Office Space starts strongly with the comedy before getting bogged down by its plot in its second half.) Kunis’s conwoman character remains off screen for long stretches, which is distressing as she is a main plot motivator. Another character who suffers from the diffuse second half is J. K. Simmons’ Brian. As Joel’s second-in-command at the factory, he starts off with a strong presence in a number of scenes, but his role evaporates as the film goes on until he simply becomes a device that shows up to tell Joel it is time to move on to the next scene.

Still, that’s not as bad as the unnamed factory floor employee who steps forward and takes an active role in the workers’ storyline. Unlike many of the other of Joel’s employees who are introduced at the beginning of the film and whom we follow for its runtime, this character suddenly appears at the end for a sole plot purpose. It is some rather heavy-handed scripting, and since the part is played by Judge himself in a fright wig, fake moustache and beer gut, it just makes the involvement of his authorial hand all the more obvious.

On the plus side for Extract are many of the film’s performances. Always dependable character actor David Koechner pops up through the film as Joel’s annoying next door neighbor with the unerring ability to want to stop Joel for a chat at precisely the wrong time. While the character does echo Gary Cole’s passive-aggressive character from Office Space, Koechner plays the character much differently and Judge gives the character one of the film’s biggest laughs towards the end. As himbo Brad, Milligan’s clueless stare evokes laughs in every scene he is in, oblivious to the exasperation he is causing in all who attempt conversation with him. Affleck has not had much of a chance to stretch his comedy muscles in anything outside of his collaborations with writer/director Kevin Smith, so his performance as a spacey bartender who professes to take Xanax for colds comes off as fun and fresh.

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