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Casting Net: Johnny Depp embracing 'Transcendence.' Plus: Bradley Cooper, Rhys Ifans, Katt Williams

• Johnny Depp is in talks to star in Transcendence, the directorial debut of A-list cinematographer (and noted Avengers non-fanWally Pfister (The Dark Knight Rises, MoneyballInception). The plot is top secret at this point, though given the title, we’re thinking undead pirates are likely not involved. First-time feature screenwriter Jack Paglen penned the script. [Variety]

• In other intriguing-projects-being-kept-under-wraps news, Bradley Cooper is in preliminary talks to join Emma Stone in writer-director Cameron Crowe‘s next untitled project — about which we know nothing other than it is destined to have a killer soundtrack. [Deadline]

• The Amazing Spider-Man‘s Rhys Ifans has signed onto an adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s classic tragic novel Madame Bovary. He will play Monsieur Lheureux, the scheming merchant who tricks the title adulteress (Mia Wasikowska) into falling into a mountain of crushing debt. Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) and Paul Giamatti costar in the film, to be directed by Sophie Barthes (Cold Souls) from a script by rookie screenwriter Rose Barreneche. [Variety]

• Comedian Katt Williams is joining the storied cast of Scary Movie 5 in an unspecified starring role. He joins Lindsay LohanMike TysonCharlie SheenHeather LocklearKate Walsh, and Ashley Tisdale. Director Malcolm Lee (Soul MenUndercover Brother) is taking on helming the horror spoof franchise for the first time, from a script from Scary Movie 3 and 4 director David Zucker. [THR]

• Dominic Monaghan will star in the fantasy family film Molly Moon, about an orphan girl (Snow White and the Huntsman‘s Raffey Cassidy) who can hypnotize anyone around her. Monaghan will play a thief bent on landing Molly’s priceless book on hypnosis. Christopher Rowley (Bonneville) is directing the adaptation of the Georgia Byng novel. [Variety]

• Lily Rabe (American Horror Story) will star in and produce We’re Just Married, a romantic comedy about a love triangle penned by the Tony-nominated actress’ father David Rabe (HurlyburlyThe Firm). Rodrigo Garcia (Albert Nobbs) is directing. [Deadline]

Read more:
Casting Net: Angelina Jolie’s kids Pax and Zahara join her in ‘Maleficent.’ Plus: Al Pacino, Jeremy Renner, Julianne Moore
Casting Net: Anna Kendrick to sing about ‘The Last 5 Years.’ Plus: Hugh Grant, Emmy Rossum, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Casting Net: Nic Cage in talks to star in more mainstream ‘Left Behind’ reboot. Plus: David Oyelowo, Kara Hayward

New 'Silver Linings Playbook' trailer strikes a new tune -- VIDEO

Oscar-nominee Jennifer Lawrence features more prominently in the new trailer for The Silver Linings Playbook, no doubt a reaction to the movie’s stellar reception at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the Hunger Games star picked up some Oscar buzz.

We also get more of Bradley Cooper’s character’s anger issues, but what really seems to tie it all together is the Lumineers’ song “Ho Hey,” the same contagious tune you’ve heard on those Bing commercials.

Check it out below: READ FULL STORY

Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Amy Adams to star in David O. Russell project


The cast for an upcoming, as yet untitled dramatic project from Silver Linings Playbook writer-director David O. Russell is official, and it includes A-listers Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner and Amy Adams.

The trades had reported months ago that Bale had dropped out of the project, with Cooper taking on the true life role of a financial con artist. However, according to a press release from the upcoming film’s producers Atlas Entertainment and Annapurna Pictures, Bale will play the con artist, with Adams as his mistress and partner in crime. Cooper will play an out of control federal agent working with the pair “to turn the tables on other con artists, mobsters, and politicians,” according to the release. Renner will play the local hero and passionate but volatile leader of the New Jersey state assembly, who is also the mayor of lower-income Camden. The film is tentatively set for release in late 2013, and will begin production on the East Coast in mid February.


Toronto Film Festival: 'Silver Linings Playbook' wins audience award

David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook won the Blackberry People’s Choice Award at the 2012 Toronto Film Festival, which concluded with a ceremony this afternoon. Based on Matthew Quick’s darkly comic novel, the film follows a mentally unstable former teacher (Bradley Cooper) who moves in with his parents and befriends a young widow (Jennifer Lawrence).

Along with Ben Affleck’s Argo (the first runner up for the People’s Choice Award) and J.A. Bayona’s The ImpossiblePlaybook emerges from the festival as a strong Oscar contender thanks to buzz from glowing reviews and enthusiastic audience responses. Other winners at the fest include Midnight Madness champion Seven Psychopaths, written and directed by Martin McDonagh (In Bruges), plus FIPRESCI prize winners Dans la maison (In the house), a French drama by Francois Ozon, and Mikael Marcimain’s Call Girl.

Click here for a full list of winners.

Read more:
Toronto Oscar Watch: ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ and ‘Cloud Atlas
Silver Linings Playbook’ Preview
Toronto Q&A: Rockwell, Harrelson, Walken on ‘Seven Psychopaths
Toronto: Midnight premiere of ‘Seven Psychopaths’ total madness
Toronto 2012: ‘Argo’ and ‘The Gatekeepers’ get the festival off to an exciting start

Toronto Film Festival: 'The Place Beyond the Pines' starring Ryan Gosling: Maybe it's not you, it's me


It’s rare these days to be able to walk into the screening of a new movie knowing little except the most basic information. Settling in for the premiere of The Place Beyond the Pines, all I knew was that the picture reunites director Derek Cianfrance and his Blue Valentine star Ryan Gosling. I knew it also stars Bradley Cooper and Eva Mendes (and I’m a big fan of all three). I knew the production was shot entirely in upstate New York, because a friend in the area told me she was tickled to catch a glimpse of Cooper during the shoot. Plot outline, genre, even running time? I sat happily ignorant as the theater lights went down.

Then came trouble. Five minutes in, my internal bullpoop detector began setting off a faint alarm. A very long two hours and twenty minutes later — after the fate and legacy of Gosling’s motorcycle stunt-rider-turned-bank-robber linked up fully with the fate and legacy of Cooper’s conflicted cop who ends the robbery spree — the clang of hooey! deafened me with its reverb. I’m just one opinionator; my colleague Dave Karger has already shuffled the performances into his deck of Oscar contenders, and critical praise is arriving from other quarters. But until you click in search of a happier review, I’m going to analyze a few  elements of pretention in what looks and sounds to me for all the world exactly like a Sundance movie on Toronto steroids.

–First sign of trouble: tattoos. Art directors and a certain breed of cool younger actors love them, but, seriously guys, they don’t convey toughness; they convey lazy character development and/or actorly affectation. Playing a dead-end drifter named Luke, Gosling sports a dagger-and-tear design under his left eye, spidery writing on his neck, and stupid-ass designs up and down his arms and torso. He also favors bleached-platinum hair, a cigarette perpetually dangling from his lips as he mumbles in a pained-life monotone, a wardrobe of (expertly) distressed tee shirts worn inside out, and a repertory of long, wordless, opaquely placid stares that mask a capacity for psychopathic violence. For those who saw Gosling’s soulful-loner performance in Drive, this riff is a rerun. All decked out in art-directed grunge, Gosling’s Luke remains an arbitrary cypher.

–Second sign of trouble: Luke’s temporary residence is a trailer in the woods. This signifier of low social strata is particularly attractive to indie filmmakers who have never lived in trailers in the woods, and don’t understand that such set-decorated habitats and hideaways have little to do with what life is really like for young dead-enders in these United States.

–Third sign of trouble: Yet another night-shift diner waitress job with which the struggling single mother (Mendes) earns meager money to feed her year-old son. Is there no other job in the movie universe for attractive struggling single mothers? (Wasn’t that Carey Mulligan’s gig in Drive?)

–Fourth sign of trouble:  Lousy, only-in-the-movies police work. Let’s just say, spoiler free, that unlike Cooper’s cop, a police officer on duty in a squad car would never be traveling without a partner as he chases  an obviously dangerous suspect.

–Fifth sign of trouble: Ray Liotta as a cop who’s both rotten and threatening. Really? In this day and age? Yet again?

I could go on, clucking at various directorial moves that draw attention to the direction rather than the material — the opening tracking shot, pretty and meaningless, is one place to start. But I’ll finish up with a ding of the uh-oh bell for the distractions offered by a portentous-sounding score, with its steady bass rumble of subliminal existential unease. At least I think that’s what the rumble is supposed to suggest. A pumped-up exercise in genre and a playground for big acting gestures rather than a a story told with conviction about characters worth caring about, The Place Beyond the Pines represents the kind of inauthentic indie-style American movie that has established itself as “cool” and manly-intimate today.

Box office preview: 'The Words' won't bring in the numbers over the slowest frame this year

For the first time in four years, it seems likely that no movie will pass $10 million at the box office this weekend.

The last time that happened? The weekend after the Republican and Democratic National Conventions wrapped in 2008, when Bangkok Dangerous topped the chart with just $7.8 million.

CBS Films’ third release this year (after The Woman in Black and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen), The Words, a romantic thriller starring Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana, has the best shot at (very) modest success. The title, which was made for a reported $6 million and is opening in 2,801 theaters, should do better than Cooper’s recent flop Hit and Run, which opened with $4.5 million, but it likely won’t reach as high as Saldana’s last leading effort Colombiana, which found $10.4 million in its opening weekend.

The rumored real-life romantic ups and downs of Saldana and Cooper may be the film’s biggest selling point — it’s certainly a sexier angle than the plagiarism plot line. Poor early reviews, coupled with a generic title and blah visuals, will keep many moviegoers at bay. Bradley Cooper looked like he may be a Limitless star last year when his action flick opened with $18.9 million, but The Words may open with a decidedly more limited $7.5 million.

The week’s other wide release is Summit’s long-on-the-shelf The Cold Light of Day, which is finally opening on this, the slowest weekend of the year. The thriller, shot for $25 million and co-financed by Intrepid Pictures, will be lucky to start with $3 million from 1,511 theaters. Fortunately, Summit didn’t put much money into advertising the film, which stars future Man of Steel Henry Cavill and Sigourney Weaver, after it underperformed at the international box office with $13.1 million.

With those films headed to soft business, there’s a chance that The Possession could take No. 1 once again — a rare feat for a frontloaded demonic tale. The Possession may drop by about 60 percent from its three-day debut of $17.7 million, which would yield about $7.1 million this time around. If it can manage a slightly better hold, it should take out The Words.

Are you headed to the box office this weekend? If so, what do you plan on seeing?

For more box office coverage, and up-to-the-minute results, follow me on Twitter.

'The Words': Bradley Cooper has a secret (and Jeremy Irons knows it) -- VIDEO


The Words, which stars Bradley Cooper as an overnight literary sensation with a dark secret, has one of the finest examples of whatever the opposite of a meet-cute is called. (A meet-cruel?) The fair-haired young man is catching up on some light reading in the park when a disheveled older man interrupts and starts asking questions. But it’s clearly not a chance meeting; Jeremy Iron’s character has something to say, something he’s aching to say. Watch their introduction below: READ FULL STORY

Casting Net: Bradley Cooper looks to play detective in ‘Bad Blood and Trouble.’ Plus: John Goodman, Rafe Spall, Megan Park


• Bradley Cooper is in negotiations to star in the crime thriller Bad Blood and Trouble, a 1950s noir about a Miami detective who falls for a married woman. J. Blakeson is directing, and also wrote the screenplay. [Variety]

• John Goodman is in talks to play a small “bad guy” role in The Hangover Part III. The franchise’s director Todd Phillips is returning to direct the third installment of the over-the-top wacky buddy series, with Hangover II  screenwriter Craig Mazin co-writing the script with Phillips. [Variety]

• Rafe Spall (Prometheus) and Megan Park (The Secret Life of the American Teenager) have joined the cast of the romantic comedy The F Word, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan as young folks who hit it off at a party, though Kazan has a boyfriend, played by Spall. Michael Dowse is directing from a script by Elan Mastai. [THR]

Read more:
Casting Net: Carey Mulligan to hunt for rich husband in ‘Nancy and Danny.’ Plus: Tom Hardy, Zoe Saldana, Joy Bryant
Casting Net: Robert Pattinson to play Lawrence of Arabia. Plus: Tobey Maguire, Dermot Mulroney, Robin Wright

'Hangover 3': New logo proves the threequel is happening


The Hangover Part II grossed more than $500 million worldwide, an impressive feat for a movie that basically took the screenplay for Hangover Part I and added “…but this time in Bangkok” to the end of every sentence. A third Hangover film will arrive next May, and Legendary Pictures has released the first promotional image for the threequel on the franchise’s Facebook page. The image doesn’t reveal anything about the plot — although we already know that at some point the characters will return to Las Vegas. (That corresponds perfectly to the Joseph Campbell Monomyth Rule of Trilogies: See also, Luke Skywalker returning to Tatooine in Return of the Jedi and Bruce Wayne returning to deep holes in the ground in The Dark Knight Rises.) Check out the image in a larger size below. READ FULL STORY

Toronto Film Festival: 10 films with Oscar dreams

As it has been for most of the last dozen or years, the Toronto International Film Festival was a major Academy Awards feeder last year: Three of the nine eventual Best Picture nominees (The Artist, The Descendants, and Moneyball) played there, while Beginners, which won Best Supporting Actor for Christopher Plummer, premiered at the festival in 2010. Now that much of this year’s lineup has been announced, here are the 10 movies I’ll have my eye on when I head up north in September.

Anna Karenina
The first two times Joe Wright and Keira Knightley collaborated, it resulted in a nomination for either Best Picture (Atonement) or Best Actress (Pride and Prejudice). Adapting Tolstoy’s classic novel with the help of Oscar-winning screenwriter Tom Stoppard seems Academy-friendly to the max.

Ben Affleck’s latest directorial effort is a true story of international terrorism, cooperation, and heroism. Early buzz surrounds Alan Arkin’s scene-stealing turn as a hot-headed movie producer who mounts a fake sci-fi flick in order to rescue six hostages from Iran. READ FULL STORY

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