Monthly Archives: April 2014

R.I.P. – Bob Hoskins

Legendary British actor Bob Hoskins died of pneumonia yesterday at the age of 71. (See reports from BBC, Huffington Post, CNN, and several others.)

He was perhaps most famous for his lead (co-lead?) role in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and as Smee in Steven Spielberg’s Hook. But his resume is a long and impressive one over more than 40 years. He gained widespread acclaim for the 1980 classic The Long Good Friday, and has since had memorable roles in Brazil, Mona Lisa, Pink Floyd The Wall, Mermaids, Nixon, Enemy at the Gates, Unleashed, Mrs. Henderson Presents, Hollywoodland, a 2000 TV version of Don Quixote, and many many more.  Most recently he appeared in Snow White and the Huntsman.

Even as bad as Super Mario Bros. was, I still loved seeing him in the role.

(Yup that’s the entire movie, if you feel so inclined.)


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Meet the New “Star Wars” Cast


It’s official. Take a look at your cast for the new Star Wars: Episode VII (pictured above). In addition to the returning cast which we already knew about, there are a number of names that should make you perk up your ears, including some recent indie stars…

  • John Boyega hit it big with the lead in Jon Cornish’s excellent Attack the Block (along side Nick Frost). He’s done a number of smaller projects since, but his next big role has been eagerly anticipated, no matter what it would be.
  • Daisy Ridley is still a mostly unknown entity. Given the rest of the cast I take it she’s the female lead, but there’s no way of knowing yet what she will bring to the table.
  • Adam Driver is best known for HBO’s Girls, but he’s also seen a lot of recent exposure in last year’s indie-hits Inside Llewyn Davis and Francis Ha, as well as this year’s critically acclaimed Tracks alongside Mia Wasikowska. He also had roles in J. Edgar and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln.
  • Oscar Isaac came within spitting distance of an Oscar nomination last year for his revelatory role as the titular folk musician in Inside Llewyn Davis. Ultimately he fell victim to one of the most competitive fields in decades, but given a normal year he would’ve been assured a nod if not a win.
  • Andy Serkis has been practically a household name ever since his revolutionary motion-capture performance as Gollum in The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies. With every new project, including his work in King Kong and especially Rise of the Planet of the Apes, he rekindles the argument for making mo-cap and voice performances eligible for Oscars and other awards.
  • Domhnall Gleeson is most recognizable as Bill Weasley in the final two Harry Potter films. He is the highest profile acting son of legendary character actor Brendan Gleeson, and he recently headlined Richard Curtis’ time-traveling rom-com About Time along side Rachel McAdams. He’s also had notable roles in True GritDredd, and Anna Karenina.
  • Max von Sydow is the most legendary name attached to a Star Wars film since Sir Alec Guinness. His career began over 65 years ago, as protege of Ingmar Bergman. Classics like The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries have cemented his name in the pantheon of all-time giants of the silver screen. More recently he has appeared in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Shutter Island, and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. The latter earned him a near-record-breaking Oscar nomination at the age of 82. (Only Hal Holbrook was older – by 50 days – when he was nominated 4 years earlier.)

And these are the returning cast members from the original trilogy. (If you don’t know these names you have no business watching the new movie.)

  • Harrison Ford
  • Carrie Fisher
  • Mark Hamill
  • Anthony Daniels
  • Peter Mayhew
  • Kenny Baker


Director J.J. Abrams says, “We are so excited to finally share the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII. It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again. We start shooting in a couple of weeks, and everyone is doing their best to make the fans proud.”

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Linklater’s “Boyhood” 12 Years in the Making (Trailer)

Critics have been clamoring over Boyhood ever since it debuted at Sundance a couple month’s ago. But the real story with Richard Linklater’s (Dazed and Confused, the Before trilogy, and half a dozen other contemporary classics) newest film is the way he made it. He cast one 6 year old boy and filmed scenes with him over the next 12 years. The result is an extraordinary vision of a child growing up before your eyes.

It reminds me of Michael Apted’s Up series, in which an original documentary about a bunch of 7 year olds in the 60’s has been revisited with a new documentary every 7 years with the same subjects as they age. The most recent film was 56 Up (2012). The difference with Linklater’s approach is that his patience and determination is channeled into a work of fiction rather than a documentary.

boyhood poster

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James Gandolfini’s Last Movie “The Drop” (Trailer)

James Gandolfini’s final film performance returns him to the mobster roots that made him a star, only instead of Tony Soprano’s Italian Mafia this time it’s the Boston-area Irish Mob. The Drop, based on Dennis Lehane’s short story “Animal Rescue,” also stars Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace.

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Final Hobbit Film Retitled “The Battle of the Five Armies”


According to his Facebook page, Peter Jackson has decided to rename the upcoming finale to his Hobbit trilogy. It will now be released as The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

Regarding the original title of “The Hobbit: There and Back Again,” Jackson said it “felt like the right name for the second of a two film telling of the quest to reclaim Erebor, when Bilbo’s arrival there, and departure, were both contained within the second film. But with three movies, it suddenly felt misplaced—after all, Bilbo has already arrived ‘there’ in the Desolation of Smaug.”

Of course, expanding the story to three films in the first place has generally been received by critics – including yours truly – as a poor decision. The first two installments felt overlong and full of unnecessary side-tracks that. The excessive bloat not only sucks the energy from the central story, but also seriously threatens to sully the memory of his first classic Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I’d say my initial gut response to the name change is a negative one. But in all honesty, the truth is I’m caring less and less. Jackson has taken his once-visionary and groundbreaking franchise and cheapened it to merely a few steps above a Michael Bay or Jerry Bruckheimer piece of popcorn entertainment. It’s lost its luster of importance.

Jackson’s full post on Facebook…

Inside Information…

Our journey to make The Hobbit Trilogy has been in some ways like Bilbo’s own, with hidden paths revealing their secrets to us as we’ve gone along. “There and Back Again” felt like the right name for the second of a two film telling of the quest to reclaim Erebor, when Bilbo’s arrival there, and departure, were both contained within the second film. But with three movies, it suddenly felt misplaced—after all, Bilbo has already arrived “there” in the “Desolation of Smaug”.

When we did the premiere trip late last year, I had a quiet conversation with the studio about the idea of revisiting the title. We decided to keep an open mind until a cut of the film was ready to look at. We reached that point last week, and after viewing the movie, we all agreed there is now one title that feels completely appropriate.

And so: “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” it is.

As Professor Tolkien intended, “There and Back Again” encompasses Bilbo’s entire adventure, so don’t be surprised if you see it used on a future box-set of all three movies.

Before then however, we have a film to finish, and much to share with you. It’s been a nice quiet time for us—Jabez and I happily editing away in a dark cave in Wellington—but those halcyon days are quickly coming to an end. It will soon be time to step into the light. Expect to see and hear much about The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies in the coming months.

And there’s also The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Extended Cut, which we’re in the process of finishing, with over 25 mins of new scenes, all scored with original music composed by Howard Shore.

It’ll be a fun year!


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The Immigrant (Trailer)

Joaquin Phoenix, Marion Cotillard, and Jeremy Renner star in The Immigrant, directed by James Gray. It already wowed the critics on last year’s festival circuit. Opens here in the US on 5/16/14.

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Steve Carell Goes Against Type in “Foxcatcher” (Trailer)

UPDATE: The studio announced this afternoon that the film will be released to theaters on November 14, 2014.

Here’s the first short glimpse we have of Foxcatcher, starring Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, and Steve Carell as real-life murderous multi-millionaire John du Pont.

This is the third feature by director Bennett Miller, whose first two – Capote and Moneyball – both earned Best Picture nominations. Foxcatcher was originally scheduled to be released late last fall, but was pushed back to 2014 at the last minute. Given how insanely competitive this past awards season turned out to be, that was probably a very wise decision.

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GrabBag – A 3 Minute Film History Lesson, plus Clint Eastwood takes on the “Jersey Boys”

ANNOUNCEMENT: For those paying attention, GrabBag has been a regular Friday feature here at The Screen Life. While it’s not going away, it’s going to be a little less regular for a bit. I could tell you that this is because news has been a little slower recently, but truth is actually more personal. With a number of major life-changing events happening over the next few months (wedding, moving, career change, etc.), the demands on your humble author have skyrocketed.

Don’t worry I won’t abandon this blog! I’m just cutting back on the number of GrabBags. That said, I do have a limited one for you today: a montage and two trailers…

  • The entire history of film in under 3 minutes.
  • If you were to list probable directors to helm the film version Broadway musical smash hit Jersey Boys, about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, I doubt Clint Eastwood would be near the top of that list. Nevertheless, with his name adding an established pedigree to such a popular material, this is probably one to keep in mind, come awards season.
  • The Rover will star a very rough-looking Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson in the Australian outback. Directed by David Michod, who directed Jackie Weaver to an unexpected Oscar nomination a few years ago in Animal Kingdom.
  • The film’s marketing team also released a couple stills and posters…

TheRover_Gun _ROV7508.nef TheRover_Pearce TheRover_Pattinson

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SNL’s Jenny Slate in “Obvious Child” (Trailer)

Saturday Night Live alum Jenny Slate got her first lead in a feature, and it looks like a good one!

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