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Tag: the West Memphis Three (1-9 of 9)

Toronto 2013: Do we need a West Memphis Three drama even if it's good?

Devil’s Knot, a docudrama about the tangled and still-loaded West Memphis Three case, directed by Atom Egoyan, is for the most part a tense and absorbing movie. It’s the intelligent, detail-jammed, well-executed version of what we used to call “a TV movie” — a phrase you can’t really use anymore, since it once connoted a certain second-rate, connect-the-dots Madame Tussauds biopic quality that’s become irrelevant in the age of HBO. (There was never a “TV movie” like Behind the Candelabra or Recount.) Yet that term also summoned up the basic, childlike voyeuristic appeal of seeing interesting actors inhabit the roles of tabloid figures — celebrities, criminals, or both — who get famous for unspeakable behavior. Be honest: Wouldn’t you like to see a down-and-dirty TV movie about the Casey Anthony case? (Actually, there was one, but it was awful. I say: Cast Emily Blunt now!) And the West Memphis Three case, though it’s been dealt with in the media for years as — rightly — a dead-serious episode of egregious injustice, remains, at its dark heart, a river of homicidal mystery boiling with undertows of evil. READ FULL STORY

Casting Net: Colin Firth, Cate Blanchett attached to Barbra Streisand-directed drama. Plus: Charlie Sheen, Reese Witherspoon, Maya Rudolph

• Type casting alert. Charlie Sheen will play the President of the United States in director Robert Rodriguez‘s exploitation thriller sequel, Machete Kills, Rodriguez announced Thursday on Twitter. The film will follow ex-Mexican Federale Machete (Danny Trejo) as he takes on a drug cartel for the U.S. government. Mel Gibson, Jessica Alba, Amber Heard, Sofia Vergara, and Zoe Saldana costar. [@Rodriguez]

• Reese Witherspoon is an alien! Specifically, a Venusian. The actress is attached to a feature adaptation of Dr. John Gray’s mega-bestseller Men Are From MarsWomen Are From Venus. Commercial director Bryan Buckley will make his feature directing debut with the film, which was adapted by Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont (Leap Year, Made of Honor). [Deadline]

• Maya RudolphRob Corddry, and Amanda Peet have joined The Way, Way Back, the coming-of-age dramedy penned by recent Oscar winners Jim Rash and Nat Faxon (The Descendants). The pair will also make their directorial debut with the project, as well as star in two small supporting roles. The cast also includes Sam RockwellToni ColletteSteve Carell, and Liam James (AMC’s The Killing), in the lead role of a teenager who spends a summer at a local water park. [Deadline]

• Max Minghella (The Social Network) is in preliminary talks to star opposite Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson in director Shawn Levy‘s comedy The Internship. Minghella would play an ambitious intern who squares off against Vaughn and Wilson, playing has-been salesmen who try to reboot their careers by taking internships at a technology company. [Variety]

• Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek), Michael Gladis (AMC’s Mad Men) and Matt Letscher (ABC’s Scandal) have all signed onto the West Memphis Three film Devil’s Knot. Greenwood will play the presiding judge in the case that controversially sent three Arkansas teenagers to jail for the murder of three young boys; Gladis and Letscher would play defense attorneys in the case. Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter) is directing. [THR, Deadline]

Read more:
Casting Net: Jim Parsons, Rihanna to give voice to ‘Happy Smekday!’ Plus: Jason Schwartzman, Rob Reiner, Edgar Ramirez
Casting Net: Jon Hamm may face off against Larry David. Plus: Jon Bernthal, Amber Heard
Casting Net: Tony winner James Corden to play Paul Potts. Plus: Alex Pettyfer, Cam Gigandet, Ed Helms

Casting Net: Chris Hemsworth boarding 'In the Heart of the Sea.' Plus: Stephen Colbert, Ray Winstone, Anton Yelchin

• Speaking of fact-based films set in the 19th century, Alfre Woodard has joined the formidable cast of Twelve Years a Slave, director Steve McQueen‘s follow-up to Shame about a free man (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who is dragooned into slavery. The film costars Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, and Sarah Paulson. See what I mean about formidable? Yowsah! [THR]

• Stephen ColbertAllison Janney, Ellie Kemper (Bridesmaids), Ariel Winter (Modern Family), and Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day) will lend their voices to Mr. Peabody & Sherman, the DreamWorks Animation adaptation of the beloved animated shorts from the Rocky and Bullwinkle family. Colbert will take on the role of Paul Peterson, archrival of Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell); Janney will play Peterson’s wife Paula, and Winter his daughter Penny. Young actor Max Charles (The Amazing Spider-Man) is voicing Sherman. Rob Minkoff (The Lion King) is directing. [THR]

• Ray Winstone (Sexy BeastSnow White and the Huntsman) is in talks to play the heavy opposite Russell Crowe in NoahDarren Aronofsky‘s big-screen take on the Old Testament story. Emma WatsonLogan Lerman, and Douglas Booth round out the cast. [Deadline]

• Anton Yelchin (Star TrekLike Crazy) is joining Tilda SwintonTom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, and John Hurt in Jim Jarmusch‘s vampire romance Only Lovers Left Alive. Because why not a Jim Jarmusch vampire romance? [Deadline]

Alessandro Nivola (Jurassic Park III) has joined the West Memphis Three feature film Devil’s Knot. He’ll play Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of one of the three murdered boys at the heart of the internationally famous case; recent documentaries West of Memphis and Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory both allege Hobbs was responsible for the murders, but he has denied any involvement. Reese Witherspoon will play Hobbs’ wife Pam. [Deadline]

Read more:
Casting Net: Samuel L. Jackson signs on to ‘Robocop.’ Plus: Jamie Foxx, Robin Williams, Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch
Casting Net: Matthew Modine in Jobs biopic, ‘Slave’ adds two more to all-star cast
Casting Net: Louis C.K., Andrew Dice Clay join new Woody Allen film. Plus: Ashley Tisdale, Elijah Wood, Johnny Galecki

Casting Net: Stallone and De Niro eyeing boxing comedy 'Grudge Match.' Plus: Gary Oldman, Dominic Monaghan, Anne Hathaway

• Gary Oldman and Dominic Monaghan have signed on to the biopic Monster Butler, about real-life bisexual serial killer and thief Roy Fontaine (a.k.a. Archibald Hall), played by Malcolm McDowell. Oldman will play a taxidermist; Monaghan his lover David Wright. Director Doug Rath will be expanding his short film about Hall of the same name, that also starred McDowell. [THR]

• Get ready for wet kisses, memorable sunsets, and meaningful deathsJosh Duhamel and Julianne Hough, ’cause Relativity Media announced today that you’ve signed on to star in the latest Nicholas Sparks adaptation, Safe HavenLasse Hallström (The Cider House Rules) will direct.

• Anne Hathaway is circling the indie drama Song One, about a woman who falls for her injured brother’s favorite musician. Writer-director Kate Barker-Froyland will make her feature debut with the film. [Variety]

• The Killing‘s Mireille Enos just can’t get enough of slow-moving murder stories: She’s joining Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon in the West Memphis 3 drama Devil’s Knot. Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter) will direct. [Deadline]

• Angelina Jolie has found her prince. Aussie TV actor Brenton Thwaites will play the dashing suitor to Elle Fanning’s Princess Aurora in Maleficent, Disney’s live-action re-imagining of Sleeping Beauty. [Deadline]

Read more:
Casting Net: Adam Shankman comedy eyeing all-star cast. Plus: Jude Law, Michelle Pfeiffer, Gillian Anderson, Taran Killam
Casting Net: ‘Thor 2,’ ‘Iron Man 3′ land new villains. Plus: Anthony Hopkins, Bradley Cooper, Owen Wilson, Olivia Wilde
Casting Net: Minka Kelly heads to the White House. Plus, Gary Oldman and Rupert Grint

'West of Memphis' picked up by Sony Pictures Classics

West-Memphis-poster

West of Memphis, director Amy Berg’s chronicle of the effort to exonerate the West Memphis Three, was acquired today by Sony Pictures Classics in a deal for the global distribution rights.

Produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, the film focuses a great deal on Lorri Davis, the wife of Damien Echols, who was sentenced to death for the 1993 murder of three young boys in Arkansas, and was released last year after 19 years in jail, along with Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr. (who were serving life sentences for the crime). “We are excited and quite frankly overwhelmed at the chance to tell our own story,” Davis and Echols, who are also producers of West of Memphis, said in a statement about the acquisition. “Working with Fran, Peter and Amy has been the most powerful and fulfilling of experiences for us. We see this film as a source of inspiration, and it carries our heart and soul with it.”

The film premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival to strong reviews, including EW’s Owen Gleiberman, who said the film “casts a hypnotic dark spell.”

No release date has been set yet.

Read more:
Peter Jackson, Damien Echols, and Amy Berg on ‘West of Memphis’ — VIDEO
Sundance review: Even if you’ve seen all three ‘Paradise Lost’ films, ‘West of Memphis’ casts its own dark spell
Peter Jackson talks about his innocence project: ‘West of Memphis’

Sundance: Peter Jackson, Damien Echols on 'West of Memphis,' and visiting 'The Hobbit' set -- VIDEO

One of the most high-profile debuts at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival has to be director Amy Berg and producer Peter Jackson’s documentary West of Memphis. Largely a chronicle of the effort, bankrolled by Jackson and his wife Fran Walsh, to exonerate the West Memphis Three — a.k.a. Jessie Misskelley Jr., Jason Baldwin, and Damien Echols — the doc is already winning critical praise and media attention for the new witnesses Berg only just interviewed on camera last week.

I talked with Jackson and Berg about that dramatic development when they stopped by EW’s Sundance studio with two of the film’s central subjects (and producers): Damien Echols and Lorri Davis. Echols was released from death row just last year after 18 years in prison, in large part thanks to the steadfast dedication of Davis, who met and married Echols after he was in prison. It was easy to see in our interview that the glamour of Sundance has been a bit of a shock for them, but I loved hearing about their two-month trip to New Zealand to visit Jackson and Walsh on the set of The Hobbit. Check out our interview below:  READ FULL STORY

Reese Witherspoon joins movie about West Memphis Three

Already this year, there have been two separate documentaries about the West Memphis Three, in the wake of their release after 18 years in jail. And now Variety is reporting that Reese Witherspoon has signed onto a feature film adaptation of the true-crime story, based on the book Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three by Mara Leveritt, and directed by Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter).

Witherspoon would reportedly play the mother of one of the three young boys Jessie Misskelley Jr., Jason Baldwin and Damien Echols were accused and convicted of murdering, who comes to believe that the trio were in fact wrongly incarcerated.

Read more:
West Memphis Three doc ‘Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory’ to debut on HBO — EXCLUSIVE TRAILER
Peter Jackson announces completion of West Memphis Three documentary
Victim’s parents lobby Oscars to exclude West Memphis 3 documentary

Peter Jackson announces completion of West Memphis Three documentary

Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh have announced their production company, WingNut Films, have wrapped a new documentary about the notorious wrongful conviction case of the West Memphis Three.

West of Memphis tells the story of Damien Echolls, Jason Baldwin, Jessie Misskelley Jr., three Arkansans who were arrested for a triple homicide in 1993 and spent over 18 years in prison before finally being released. Echolls and wife Lorri Davis are also serving as producers; documentarian Amy Berg, whose Deliver Us from Evil was nominated for an Oscar, is directing the film.

“This film represents the trial these men didn’t have,” says Berg in the announcement. READ FULL STORY

Toronto: 'Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory' is a plea for justice that also lets us know (more or less) who the killer is

A little more than ten years ago, when they were finishing the second documentary in what turned out to be the Paradise Lost trilogy, directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky chose the title Paradise Lost: Revelations. In a way, though, they could have put that title on almost any one of the three films. For when you watch Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996), or Paradise Lost: Revelations (2000), or the new chapter, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, which premiered this week at the Toronto Film Festival, what keeps you watching — what keeps you just about soldered to the screen — is the promise of revelation. The promise of a moment when the forensic clues (a serrated knife! a telltale hair!) finally start to fit together. When the innocence of the West Memphis Three (who were railroaded for the crime of murder) comes rushing into the light. Or when the identity of the real killer suddenly looms up before us. Every day, we see Hollywood movies that are called “thrillers,” but the addictive fascination of the Paradise Lost films is that they take us back to the feeling of shock and awe that people used to get, in a more innocent time, from Hitchcock. At key moments, they make you suck in your breath. READ FULL STORY

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