Sunday, April 26, 2015

TAKE YOUR FIRST LOOK AT DEPP’S NEW THRILLER “BLACK MASS”


The first-look video titled “Just Sayin’” from the crime thriller “Black Mass” starring Johnny Depp has just been released by Warner Bros. and may be viewed below.

The film is based on the book Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob, about the infamous gangster Whitey Bulger. The film stars Oscar® nominee Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger and Joel Edgerton (“The Great Gatsby”) as FBI Agent John Connolly. The film is directed by of Scott Cooper (“Crazy Heart”).

“Black Mass” also stars Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Imitation Game”) as Whitey’s brother, Billy Bulger, who is a Massachusetts State Senator; Jesse Plemons (AMC’s “Breaking Bad”) as Whitey’s longtime partner in crime, Kevin Weeks; Sienna Miller (“American Sniper”) as Whitey’s lover, Catherine Greig; Dakota Johnson (“Fifty Shades of Grey”) as Lindsey Cyr, Whitey’s former girlfriend and mother of his only child; Rory Cochrane (“Argo”) as Steve Flemmi, another member of the Irish mob; Julianne Nicholson (“August: Osage County”) as John Connolly’s wife, Marianne; and Adam Scott (ABC’s “Parks and Recreation”) as FBI Agent Robert Fitzpatrick.

The screenplay is adapted from the book by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill.

In 1970s South Boston, FBI Agent John Connolly (Edgerton) persuades Irish mobster James “Whitey” Bulger (Depp) to collaborate with the FBI and eliminate a common enemy: the Italian mob. The drama tells the true story of this unholy alliance, which spiraled out of control, allowing Whitey to evade law enforcement, consolidate power, and become one of the most ruthless and powerful gangsters in Boston history.

Opening across the Philippines on Sept. 23, 2015, “Black Mass” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Check out trailer below.

YOUNG ACTORS PLAY A DEADLY GAME IN “UNFRIENDED”



The principal cast of Universal Pictures' new horror thriller “Unfriended” consists of six characters who become trapped in a game of cat and mouse, as a mystery chatroom user torments them with secrets they thought would never be uncovered and pushes them into horrifying actions.

Working on tight time constraints, casting director John McAlary brought talented actors in for auditions, but, as the performers would soon learn, they weren’t average auditions.

In the beginning, the team had actors read in the room with them, but it soon became quite clear that they needed to audition in front of a computer. So, the casting process took place just that way, in two different rooms, via video chat, and the cast was chosen based upon those auditions. Once they assembled their top choices, director Leo Gabriadze and his key crew conducted a mix and match of sorts, in which they took different groups of six people and had them do a scene together. In this, each was asked to find their character’s personality and place in the group. Indeed, it was crucial that each actor was comfortable with improv and quick changes. After that, the final group of six was chosen.

In auditioning actresses for the role of Blaire, the team knew the moment they saw Shelley Hennig that she was their Blaire. Hennig, who is well-known for her role as Malia Tate on TV’s “Teen Wolf,” walks us through a quick description of Blaire: “She’s that girl in high school who makes it a priority to do the right thing, and keep life pretty simple. She’s usually satisfied to spend her time hanging out with her crew on Skype, and being totally in love with her high-school sweetheart, Mitch.”

As they never actually make physical contact throughout the film, it was important that Blaire and Mitch have palpable chemistry. After seeing several actors for the role of Mitch, the core team found him in Moses Storm. The performer, who will star in and is writing his directorial debut, #ModernMillennial, shares his experience: “What drew me to the project was how innovative the concept of the film was. I’d never seen anything like it using this format. It seemed like a challenge, almost impossible to do, and the concept is what sparked my interest. During the casting process, I was in a long-distance relationship where our only contact was through Skype, so that definitely aided in the audition process and drew me to this as a unique way to tell a story.”


Renee Olstead, known for her co-starring role on the critically acclaimed coming-of-age series “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” landed the role of the lovable-but-dim-witted Jess. Olstead shares what intrigued her the most about being part of the film: “What I love about this movie is that we flesh out every possible scenario. Initially, something scary happens, and in every other scary movie, the audience would say: ‘Well, why don’t they just shut off their computer?’ That’s something we show right off the bat, exactly what happens when someone tries to leave the conversation. The filmmakers did their homework and created something that’s authentically scary.”

For the role of tech-savvy Ken, who is arguably the biggest joker in the group, the team selected actor/comedian Jacob Wysocki. On what attracted him to the project, Wysocki gives: “The concept was something that had never been attempted. In the audition process, they said there was room for improv—and I come from a background in that—so it was tantalizing to be part of something that was pitched as a play that never cuts.”

Actor Will Peltz, who recently starred in “Men, Women & Children,” was selected for the role of the crass, hard-partying Adam. Peltz, too, felt the relevance of the film and was intrigued with the manner in which the script put a twist on a contemporary topic.

For the role of Val, the production chose actress Courtney Halverson, who will next be seen on HBO’s groundbreaking series “True Detective.” Halverson shares: “Val is that friend you have in your circle that you don’t necessarily like hanging out with, but you have such a history together that it’s hard to get rid of her. She’s bossy, opinionated and can be a bit abrasive.”

Rounding out the cast in the role of Laura Barns, a fellow classmate who committed suicide after she was ridiculed over an embarrassing video of her passed out at a party, is Heather Sossaman (TV’s “Days of Our Lives”).

Opening across the Philippines on April 29, 2015, “Unfriended” is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Monday, April 13, 2015

MELISSA MCCARTHY: WHEN THE WORLD NEEDS A NEW “SPY”


Blessed with freakish memory, Cooper labors in a dreary sub-basement office, serving as the eyes and ears (and pining for the heart) of super agent Bradley Fine – a charming but self-absorbed fop who manages to complete his missions while keeping every hair in place.

In latching onto her first spy mission, McCarthy’s Susan Cooper must first let go of insecurity and self-doubt while mustering the nerve to abandon her desk at Langley (CIA Headquarters) to tangle with an assortment of well-quaffed European baddies.

Says McCarthy: “Susan’s always had ability, and is great technically and tactically, but she lacked confidence. Now her field experiences and loyalty to Jude’s character, Bradley Fine, begin to bring out her full potential. She discovers talents she didn’t know she had.”

Teaming with Melissa McCarthy for the third time, following their smash hits “Bridesmaids” and “The Heat,” writer-director Paul Feig this time adds a planeload of action to their trademark comedy and sets the story in gorgeous European locales. The bustling, unfamiliar environments of such famed capitals as Rome, Paris and Budapest add to Susan’s disorienting transition into the cloak-and-dagger fieldwork of international espionage.


In developing a palette for the film, Feig, along with director of photography Robert Yeoman and production designer Jefferson Sage, was inspired by James Bond movies. They set out to make a comedy in the visual style of those iconic films, with sweeping shots, striking backdrops and convincing action sequences. Yeoman says, “Typically in comedies the lighting is bright and flat, but Paul wanted it darker, with more contrast, to emphasize some of the danger and risks in the shadowy world of espionage. There is a big scope to the location shots.”


“Spy” shot primarily in Budapest, Hungary, which also doubles for Rome and Paris. The city’s striking and varied architecture allowed Sage to utilize interesting landmarks and unique neighborhood characteristics to distinguish between the three capitals. Buda, located on the west side of the Danube, is hilly, with winding cobblestone streets that provide an effective cheat for Rome. Meanwhile, abundant natural trees and vegetation effectively serve to soften the location backdrops for Paris, which filmmakers wanted keep lighter and wider in tonality.

“Spy” opens May 21 from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.

WITHERSPOON CHANNELS BIEBER IN NEW “HOT PURSUIT” TRAILER


The new, international trailer of the comedy “Hot Pursuit” starring Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara have just been revealed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and New Line Cinema, and may be viewed at https://youtu.be/dmp4Dqv5rRo.

In “Hot Pursuit,” an uptight and by-the-book cop (Witherspoon) tries to protect the sexy and outgoing widow (Vergara) of a drug boss as they race through Texas, pursued by crooked cops and murderous gunmen.

Anne Fletcher (“The Proposal”) directs from a screenplay written by David Feeney (TV’s “New Girl”) & John Quaintance (TV’s “Ben & Kate”). John Carroll Lynch (“Crazy, Stupid, Love.”) and Robert Kazinsky (“Pacific Rim”) also star.

The film is produced by Bruna Papandrea (“Wild,” “Gone Girl”), Reese Witherspoon and Dana Fox, with Jeff Waxman, Sofía Vergara and Luis Balaguer serving as executive producers.

Fletcher’s behind-the-scenes creative team is comprised of several of her collaborators from “The Proposal,” including director of photography Oliver Stapleton, editor Priscilla Nedd Friendly, production designer Nelson Coates and costume designer Catherine Marie Thomas. The composer is Christophe Beck (“Frozen”).

Set for release across the Philippines on May 7, “Hot Pursuit” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

GET THE LOOK, MEET FRIENDS AND FIENDS OF “THE DUFF”


Everyone knows what it is like to be sort of the underdog...especially in high school. In the teen movie “The Duff” based by author Kody Keplinger’s book of the same name, the relatable and of-the-moment stuff of growing up and the struggle to fit in is explored in “The Duff” that will open this April 15 in cinemas (Phils.).

“As everybody transitions from youth to adulthood you get into those private moments of sharing when you realize the universal message that everybody has their stuff – their insecurities, their feelings of DUFFness,” explains producer McG. “And to some degree we have a bit of that struggle our entire lives. That is why I think the movie will appeal to a broader audience than just girls and teens.”

To fill the role of the pivotal and titular DUFF (Designated. Ugly. Fat. Friend.) a.k.a. Bianca Piper, producers turned to the young but experienced film and TV actress Mae Whitman, who unbeknownst to them at the time of casting, was Keplinger’s choice for the role. 


The filmmakers agreed that the DUFF in the film needed to be someone who was not unattractive or unintelligent, but rather someone who just doesn’t quite measure up to her group of friends in the high school rating system. Whitman hadn’t heard of the term DUFF before she was given the script. But as soon as she read it, she thought it was an important story to be told and one that spoke to her personally. “The story is important to me because I’ve grown up in this industry and have had to struggle with being put in certain categories my whole life,” says Whitman.

In talking about the characters of Casey and Jess, Bianca’s best friends played by Bianca Santos and Skyler Samuels respectively, Keplinger stresses that, although Bianca’s best friends are stunningly gorgeous, they are good friends to her. It is only after Bianca is pointed out as their DUFF that she begins to feel inadequate around her own friends. “Just because Bianca feels inadequate around them does not make them bad, especially when you consider that they feel inadequate in some ways too,” says the author.


For the role of Wesley Rush, producers had to find someone to play the quintessential handsome jock who has been categorized as dumb and shallow. The producers found Canadian-born actor Robbie Amell (“The Flash,” “Tomorrow People”) to portray this surprisingly complex guy. Amell had concerns about making a teen comedy until he read the script. “It is tough to make one that feels real and grounded,” he says. This script felt like one of the special ones that will endure the test of time. The message speaks to anyone’s insecurities and ways to deal with them, embrace them or overcome them.”

The filmmakers were challenged with creating and casting Bianca’s nemesis - Madison Morgan (played by Bella Thorne), a character that does not exist in the book. But Madison, like everyone else, is equally insecure so her attitude is her defense mechanism.”

“The idea of doing a coming of age film that also deals with bullying, which is really in the zeitgeist right now with everything happening on the internet, and how pervasive social media is in high school life, really intrigued me actually,” says director Sandel. 

“Texting and all this stuff, it’s a whole new ballgame as far as bullying, and it’s rampant,” says Whitman. “It’s rampant everywhere in America right now. There’s this whole mentality of ripping other people down. And it sort of is perpetuated on the internet so I think it’s a cool new twist to be illuminating how horrible that stuff is, because it’s really bad.”


To capture the range of high school styles, from Bianca’s DUFF look - and later her homecoming dance dress - to the teen chic looks of Jess and Casey and the sexier school look of Madison, all of which play an integral part of the film, the team brought in costume designer Eric Daman, who had earned a stellar reputation for his costumes on many modern projects, most notably The Carrie Diaries (the Sex and the City prequel) and Gossip Girl.

“This is a very female-centric, female-driven film, so one thing I wanted to do was surround myself with people who I thought would really bring an expertise on what teenage girls are into and what they find, you know, acceptable. Wardrobe is really important. So I teamed up with Eric Daman who brought a really interesting perspective,” says Sandel. “Eric and I agreed we wanted a toned down vibe to the styles. If people notice the wardrobes then we’re not doing it right. It’s got to feel really regular and down-to-earth. I think that was something different than what Eric’s done typically and I think he nailed it. I mean, he’s really good at the nuance and he’s really known for his fashion style and being able to do casual but still make it cool and chic.”

“The Duff” is from Pioneer Films that will open in cinemas nationwide this April 15.

KEVIN HART MENTORS PRISON-BOUND RICH GUY IN “GET HARD”


One of the hottest comedians and entertainers in the industry today, Kevin Hart (“The Wedding Ringer,” “Grudge Match”) is tasked to get Will Ferrell in “tough” shape for prison, in Warner Bros. Pictures' new adult comedy “Get Hard.”

This outrageous and satirical comedy is about two guys who work in the same building but live in different worlds, until they strike an unusual and potentially life-changing deal that challenges their most basic – and hilariously off-base – preconceptions about so many things.

It all begins as Ferrell’s character, James, a ridiculously wealthy and entitled hedge fund manager with the biggest mansion and the hottest fiancée money can buy, is caught with his hand in the till. Summarily convicted of the kind of fraud that costs regular people their life savings, he then adds insult to injury by turning to the only person he can think of to help him prepare for lockup: his car detailer Darnell (Hart), a struggling but focused entrepreneur whom James automatically expects to have done time, statistically speaking, given Darnell’s age, his economic circumstances, and...

“He assumes Darnell has been in jail because he’s black,” offers Hart. In fact, Darnell has zero experience with the prison system. Understandably offended, he tries to set James straight but the disgraced financier is too wrapped up in his own escalating panic to listen. Darnell then quickly does the math and figures: why not? If James is stupid enough to run that stereotype and is willing to pay for the mentoring he believes Darnell can provide, “he’ll take him up on the offer, create some kind of program, put up with his bullshit for a few weeks and take his money.”


The only thing James and Darnell appear to have in common, apart from the absurdity of their situation, is the commitment and timing of the actors who portray them.

“There are levels. It’s not always about being the funniest person in the room, and we both get that,” Hart says. “We were focused on making each scene better and the material put us in a situation where we could both win. As a fan of comedy, a fan of improvisation, Will has always been at the top of my list. We’re making a movie to make people laugh, so we need to laugh while we’re filming it; that’s how you get your best content, and that’s what Will and I were doing from the start. We didn’t rush to our trailers between takes. We mostly just sat in the chairs, talking and laughing.”

Theirs was a welcome camaraderie in that “Get Hard” develops into a kind of buddy movie. Or, says director Etan Cohen, “It’s about two people who make a lot of assumptions about each other and who would just go on their way and never have those assumptions challenged if not for the situation they get into. It’s a two-way street. James has never encountered anyone outside of the Ivy League or the world of high finance, so when he meets Darnell he sees a potential gang-banger. And Darnell takes James for a racist jerk who’s had everything handed to him — and to some extent that’s true, but, once he gets to know him, he realizes James is trying to be a good guy, in his own weird way. Conversely, James comes to understand that Darnell isn’t necessarily struggling because of a character failure but because of his circumstances.”


“The movie deals with stereotypes in a funny, clever way and we make fun of all of them,” says Hart. “It helps to draw attention to the stupidity. We’re saying, hey, in this day and decade, we should all be on the same playing field and treat each other accordingly.”

Opening across the Philippines on April 29, “Get Hard” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

OONA CHAPLIN’S EXTRAORDINARY ENDEARING LIFE AND MARRIAGE IN “THE LONGEST RIDE”


Coming from a lineage of unique thespian talent, Oona Chaplin, the granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin, the great granddaughter of American playwright Eugene O’Neill, daughter of actress Geraldine Chaplin and Chilean cinematographer Patricio Castilla, stars opposite Jack Huston, Scott Eastwood, Britt Robertson, and Alan Alda in the “The Longest Ride,” an epic drama interweaving two love stories, linked across the decades from the bestselling romantic novel of the same title by Nicholas Sparks.

Best known for her role as Talisa in the worldwide hit television series “Game of Thrones,” in “The Longest Ride,” Chaplin stars as Ruth circa 1940, a beautiful Austrian immigrant in America, meets Ira, (Huston), a local man working in the family’s clothing store and they fall in love. While in present day North Carolina, Sophia (Robertson), an art history student falls for Luke (Eastwood), a bull rider. Luke and Sophia rescue a man who is severely injured in a car crash. It turns out to be Ira, now an elderly widower (Alan Alda). Sophia befriends Ira and learns about his extraordinary life and marriage to Ruth. 


Chaplin plays the exuberant Ruth and is pitch perfect as the exquisite girl from Vienna who sweeps young Ira (Jack Huston) off his feet. Ira grew up in North Carolina and leads a simple life; Ruth is artistic, intellectual and cultured, with sophisticated sensibilities. They come from different worlds but fall in love. As the story unravels, and when Ira returns from World War II the couple faces some serious challenges where art is a central theme in the film. 

After finding the actors for the contemporary love story, the filmmakers turned to the task of casting the couple that inspires Sophia, beginning with Oona Chaplin, who plays Ruth. “Oona really selected herself for the role,” says Sparks. She was just so vibrant. Her energy was just what we were looking for in casting the role.”

For Chaplin, the fact that she could portray a character from ages 17 through 45 was a dream come true. “I really respect Ruth because she’s very strong,” says the actress. “Like Ruth, I was fortunate to have an upbringing that was full of different types of culture. The [film’s flashback] historical context of the Second World War and having to leave behind everything that you know, was an interesting thing to explore.” 


Chaplin enthuses on the film’s theme, ““I feel that this film is playing tribute to all of the women who have sacrificed things in their lives for their men and have been behind them, which is an honorable position to be in. Ruth is so strong. Over the centuries, there have been so many women who have been unconditionally behind the men in their lives, saying: ‘don’t worry, I’m here, I love you and I’ll be with you forever.’ You can never really know if you will do that yourself, the kind of thing Ruth does, until you are faced with something that tests you. But I think women today are very different from Ruth. We are more selfish, because we’ve been promised everything: the perfect man, the perfect career, the perfect house. We are conflicted and I think we give up on relationships too readily. I think we need to ask: ‘What do you want out of this relationship? What are you willing to sacrifice?’ That’s what relationships are all about. That is what this film is about: sacrifice.”

At its heart, “The Longest Ride” is about the power of love that will open on April 15 in theatres nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.