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Watch the first 5 minutes of 'Low Down,' with John Hawkes and Elle Fanning

Elle Fanning is super-excited about her next project: Halloween.

She might be one of the hardest-working actresses in Hollywood—with four films in theaters in 2014, including the blockbuster Maleficent—but she’s still only 16 and her Halloween costume is an elaborate production. “It’s a secret,” she says, when asked about her trick-or-treat dress-up plans. “But I’ll give you some of my greatest hits: I was the Morton Salt Girl. I was Strawberry Shortcake. I’ve been a Barbie Statue of Liberty. I’ve been Mary Poppins. I was a Madame Alexander doll. I was a vampire, but that was like a very glamorous done-up vampire. I was Marilyn Monroe—when I was 7. So yeah, it’s a big deal.”

In Low Down, which opens today in theaters, she gets to dress up as a real person. Amy-Jo Albany was the daughter of Joe Albany, a talented jazz pianist who recorded with Charlie Parker and Miles Davis. He also was a heroin addict, testing the love of many who cared for him. In the film, set in Hollywood 1974, Joe (John Hawkes) is trying to right his life and then hold it together for the sake of his teenage daughter, who adores him. It’s not an easy task.

EW has an extensive conversation with Fanning, and the film’s opening five minutes, which introduce the father/daughter dynamic and feature Joe jamming with a trumpet-playing Flea. (Beware of one expletive.) READ FULL STORY

Watch the trailer for 'Low Down,' about pianist Joe Albany

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During the jazz scene of the 1960′s and 1970′s, pianist Joe Albany struggled with drug addiction. His struggle was then captured by the memoir of his daughter, Amy-Jo Albany.

Now, Jeff Preiss is capturing it all on film. Starring John Hawkes as Joe and Elle Fanning as Amy-Jo, Low Down tells the pianist’s story through the eyes of his daughter. The film also stars Glenn Close, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, and more.

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'Life Of Crime': Jennifer Aniston's kidnapping goes wrong in new trailer -- VIDEO

Jennifer Aniston is starring in a new film based on Elmore Leonard’s novel The Switch – which also happens to be the title of an unrelated rom-com she starred in with Jason Bateman in 2010. (That film was originally called The Baster; the name was changed due to poor testing.) Thanks to that, the new movie has been retitled Life Of Crime. And it has nothing to do with artificial insemination — or at least, we think it doesn’t.

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Dueling Everest movies: Jake Gyllenhaal film begins shooting; Sony's 'The Summit' still in base camp

When it comes to ascending a summit, first to the top usually wins. News this week confirmed that Working Title’s Everest, to be released by Universal, is a go. The film, from director Baltasar Kormákur (2 Guns) began production Monday in Italy, with Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Jason Clarke and John Hawkes playing four of the climbers who attempted the disastrous 1996 ascent of Mount Everest in the Himalayas, only to be thwarted with terrible conditions that led to the loss of many lives.

Now that this film is in production, will it kill a competing Everest film at Sony?

Sony declined to comment on its project, which takes place in the 1920s and chronicles British climber George Mallory’s attempts to scale the world’s tallest mountain. One source close to the production says the studio is still committed to the movie, but the film, which Doug Liman (Mr. and Mrs. Smith) is set to direct after finishing the upcoming Tom Cruise-starrer Edge of Tomorrow, will no longer begin production in the next couple of months as originally planned.

Rather, the start date on the film — which now carries the title The Summit and still has Tom Hardy (Inception) attached to play Mallory and Luke Evans (Fast & Furious 6) to play his Australian rival George Finch — has been pushed to either early summer  or perhaps even to 2015.

According to another source, the studio’s hesitation on the project centers on concern over how to sell the the film domestically. Overseas, the film’s prospects appear much healthier considering the storyline and international cast but in the U.S. audiences are often reluctant to give period films a chance.

Complicating matters, a schedule change may force star Hardy to drop out. As reported earlier, Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) is still interested in the lead role should Hardy need to leave.

Sony is also being more cost conscious after a rough 2013 and launching a $60 million movie with a competing film in the pipeline may not look too appealing. Last summer the studio was on the wrong end of dueling White House disaster movies. Their White House Down with Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx opened at the end of June, earning $73 million. It had followed Film District’s Olympus Has Fallen, which opened in March and grossed $98 million.

Still, sources close to the project says the film, which was scripted by Sheldon Turner (Up in the Air), is still important to the studio.

The trick now is to keep that enthusiasm from falling off the mountain.

'Arcadia': Oscar-nominee John Hawkes on the lyrical, mysterious family road trip indie

When you’re a young teenager and your dad tells you that you’re moving across the country to California, you kind of have to listen. Even if your mother is mysteriously not joining.

In Arcadia, director Olivia Silver takes viewers on an atmospheric, sun-soaked road trip with Greta (Ryan Simpkins), Caroline (Kendall Toole), and Nat (Ty Simpkins) and their father Tom, played by Oscar-nominee John Hawkes. The reason for the move is cloaked in secrecy. There’s a job in California, and they have to go, but it’s not entirely clear why their mother isn’t there. As the middle child, 12-year-old Greta is the most shielded, and the most aware that something is off. Her older sister knows something she didn’t, and Nat is young enough to blindly accept what he’s told. The quiet film shows a generally happy, but broken family in transition. Eventually we discover along with Greta why their mother isn’t coming.

Arcadia is out on DVD on Tuesday, July 23, with a bonus inclusion of Silver’s 2008 Sundance Film Festival-accepted short Little Canyon. Check out EW’s interview with John Hawkes after the jump about his low-budget passion project.

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Casting Net: Jerry O'Connell joins 'Veronica Mars' movie; Plus, 'Gone Girl' still trying to find its girl, more

There’s a new Lamb brother in town. Jerry O’Connell (Burning Love) has joined the cast of the Veronica Mars movie as Dan Lamb, Sheriff Don’s (Michael Muhney) brother. In the Kickstarter update announcing the news, creator and director Rob Thomas traced his interest in O’Connell back to the movie Pirahna. “The performance in that movie that I couldn’t get over was Jerry O’Connell’s take on an amoral, coked up and soon-to-be penis-less smut peddler. I just kept wanting to get back to scenes of Jerry chewing scenery.” O’Connell even recorded a video for fans on the shoot. Welcome to Neptune, Sheriff Dan.
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Sex and 'The Sessions': Helen Hunt does a job that is NSFW

The Sessions, a movie about a severely disabled man trying to lose his virginity, may be the hardest sell of award season. How do you get people to give a movie a try when the very premise is squirm-inducing?

Funnily enough, describing The Sessions is also a little like trying to be intimate. If you come on too strong, too direct or blunt, all you’ll do is turn the person off. (Case in point: the way I described the movie above.)

But once you’ve actually seen The Sessions, you know there’s a lot more to it. For one, it’s hilarious. There are a fair number of heartbreaking moments, yes, but for the most part the spirit of this story is witty and warm and charming. Is it awkward? Absolutely — but how was your first time?

The video above, a Prize Fighter exclusive via Fox Searchlight, does a great job showing the lively nature of the film by focusing on the sex surrogate character played by Helen Hunt, a woman whose job is to help this man find happiness in a body that has given him anything but.

Does that description woo you any better?

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Casting Net: Sean Penn eyeing thriller 'Prone Gunman.' Plus: John Hawkes, George Clooney, Ty Burrell

• Sean Penn is in talks to star in the action thriller Prone Gunman, based on the novel by the late French author Jean-Patrick Manchette about an international assassin who runs afoul of the organization that hires him after he says he wants out of the business. (Silly assassin; shadowy global organizations are never keen on quiet retirement.) Peter Travis adapted the screenplay; there is no director yet attached. [THR]

• John Hawkes, lately winning Oscar buzz for The Sessions, has signed on for Low Down, a biopic of jazz pianist Joe Albany. He replaces Mark Ruffalo, who had originally been attached to tell the story of Albany’s relationship with his young daughter Amy through the 1960s and 70s. That same daughter co-wrote the screenplay as an adult, with Topper Lilien (Where the Money IsDungeons & Dragons). Commercial director Jeff Preiss will make his directorial debut with the project. [Variety]

• George Clooney is in talks to star in Disney’s tightly guarded sci-fi project 1952, which Brad Bird is attached to direct. Damon Lindelof co-wrote the film with EW senior writer Jeff Jensen. [Variety]

• Modern Family‘s Ty Burrell will play a love interest for Bill Hader in the indie dramedy The Skeleton Twins, about grown siblings (Hader and Kristen Wiig) who reevaluate their lives after they both have a near-death experience on the same day. Luke Wilson plays Wiig’s husband. Director Craig Johnson (True Adolescents) cowrote the film with Mark Heyman (Black Swan). [Variety]

• Eric Bana is negotiating to star in the paranormal thriller Beware the Night, about a cop who investigates possessions — and not the drug kind. (Cue scary organ music.) Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) will direct from the script he penned with Paul Harris Boardman (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Urban Legends: Final Cut). Jerry Bruckheimer is producing. [TheWrapVariety]

• The cast for the drama You’re Not You — starring Hilary Swank as a woman living with ALS (i.e. Lou Gehrig’s disease) and Emmy Rossum as the self-involved co-ed who is hired to care for her — has filled out its cast. Marcia Gay Harden, Loretta DevineJason Ritter, Ernie Hudson, Frances Fisher, Ali Larter, and Julian McMahon have all joined the cast, which also includes Josh DuhamelGeorge C. Wolfe (Nights in Rodanthe) is directing the script from Shana Feste (Country Strong) and Jordan Roberts (Around the Bend), adapted from the novel by Michelle Wildgen. [THR]

Read more:
Casting Net: James McAvoy in talks for WikiLeaks movie. Plus: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sara Canning
Casting Net: Rachel Weisz in talks for David Cronenberg’s ‘Map to the Stars.’ Plus: Alan Arkin, Wendi McClendon-Covey
Casting Net: Tim Robbins to star in, direct ‘Man Under’ with Michelle Pfeiffer. Plus: Benedict Cumberbatch, Gemma Arterton, Kristen Wiig

Is John Hawkes in 'The Sessions' another able-bodied actor playing a disabled part bound for Oscar?

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In The Sessions, opening in theaters this weekend, John Hawkes plays late poet Mark O’Brien, who was paralyzed from the neck down due to polio, and sought, in real life, to lose his virginity by working with a therapeutic sex surrogate. Hawkes is beyond emotionally and physically adept as O’Brien, restricted to laying flat in a huge iron lung, or being wheeled around on a portable cot, his face shifted to the side, his arms pinned to his sides. He’s partially nude at times, staring up at his sex therapist, played by distant-then warm Helen Hunt, and by turns funny, sweet, neurotic and moving. Oscar buzz has been swirling around Hawkes, who told EW at Toronto last month that the role was a challenge, like hungry flies to honey.

If Hawkes is nominated for an Oscar, he’ll join a long line of able-bodied actors and actresses who have been nominated or snagged top acting Academy Awards playing physically disabled – or physically challenged, as others say – roles. While real-life deaf actress Marlee Matlin won a best actress Oscar in 1987 for her part as a deaf pupil in Children of a Lesser God, and Harold Russell, whose hands were amputated after an accident in 1944, nabbed a best supporting actor Oscar trophy in 1947 as a World War II vet in The Best Years of Our Lives, they’re less the norm compared to the long line of able-bodied actors inhabiting those kinds of parts. READ FULL STORY

Helen Hunt and John Hawkes talk 'terrified' sex in 'The Sessions' -- EXCLUSIVE CLIP

In The Sessions, out in theaters Friday, John Hawkes plays sweetly loving and utterly virginal real-life poet and writer Mark O’Brien, who was paralyzed from the neck down due to polio. He takes it upon himself to lose his virginity in a very unusual way, through sessions with a smiling blonde therapeutic sex surrogate, played by Helen Hunt.

Check out this exclusive clip from the movie below:  READ FULL STORY

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