Based on the BBC miniseries of the same name, State of Play is as much an elegiac swan song to print journalism as it is a gripping political thriller. But State of Play is more than just a paean or whodunit; it is really about moral compromises. The story — scripted by Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton), Matthew Carnahan (Lions for Lambs) and Billy Ray (Breach) — follows overweight, slovenly but dogged Washington Globe investigative reporter Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe) as he discovers that a string of seemingly unrelated murders are all connected.
Worse, the unfolding case embroils his old college pal, Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck), in a sex-and-murder scandal that threatens to extinguish his once-promising political career. Is Collins the killer of his staff member and mistress Sonia Baker (Maria Thayer), or is PointCorp. — the private military company that Collins has been investigating in televised congressional hearings — really behind it? The closer that Cal and his partner, blogger and aspiring “serious” journalist Della Frye (Rachel McAdams), get to finding out the truth behind Sonia’s slaying the more dangerous it gets for them and their already imperiled newspaper as cops, power brokers, spin doctors and soldiers of fortune all come gunning for them.
Every character in State of Play is compromised to varying degrees: Cal is too close to Stephen to understand how much he’s blurred the lines between media and politics, and his friendship with Stephen’s wife Anne (Robin Wright Penn) may also be closer than it seems; Collins’ moral shortcomings are obvious from the plot synopsis, with his idealism being stronger than his integrity; Della comes from a new breed of reporter (“bloodsuckers and bloggers,” as the film calls them) who are more important in being “first!” than in being good at what they do; and Globe Editor in Chief Cameron Lynne (Helen Mirren) seems to be losing the battle between balancing her journalistic principles with the commercial necessities of keeping her paper’s owners happy. No one comes off looking too heroic or clean in State of Play, a gutsy move on the part of a major studio production to keep it real.
The cast is excellent across the board. Crowe owns the movie as the slobby but sly reporter who relies on old-fashioned tools such as notepads, door-to-door interviews and schmoozing all the right people (mostly cops) who can supply him with information. This could be the movie that makes audiences fall in love with Crowe again after a spell of flops and bad publicity. Affleck gives his best performance in years (if not ever) as Collins, although the nearly unanimous opinion among those who have seen the film is that it’s simply unbelievable to buy fortysomething Crowe and thirtysomething Affleck as former college roommates. One line change (e.g., Cal worked on Stephen’s campaign or was his T.A. in college or grad school) could have dispelled that entirely justifiable criticism. It also doesn’t help that Penn is closer to Crowe’s age than Affleck’s (all three characters knew each other in college). Penn plays Anne’s wounded pride well in a disappointingly small role.
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Bringing a semblance of dignity to the Twilight film series, award-winning British actor Michael Sheen has joined the cast of the currently shooting second movie in the franchise, The Twilight Saga: New Moon.
Variety has the report on the casting of the Frost/Nixon actor. Sheen also has appeared in The Queen, Blood Diamond and of course the Underworld series. He played a werewolf in the latter films, though in the case of New Moon he’ll be appearing as the leader of the Volturi, those ancient Italian vampires from Stephenie Meyer’s hugely popular books.
New Moon focuses on the series’ heroine Bella as she’s “drawn into the world of werewolves while threatened by the Volturi.” Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson will once again star in the film as, respectively, Bella and Edward, her vampire lover.
The Twilight Saga: New Moon hits theaters on November 20th.
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Release date: Friday April 17, 2009 Genre: Action Director: Brian Taylor, Mark Neveldine Studio: Maple Pictures, Lionsgate Screenplay: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor Producer(s): Gary Lucchesi, Richard S. Wright, Skip Williamson, Tom Rosenberg Cast: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Bai Ling, Dwight Yoakam, Clifton Collins, Jr., Efren Ramirez, David Carradine Official Site:crank2.com Rating:R frenetic strong bloody violence throughout, crude and graphic sexual content, nudity and pervasive language Runtime: 1 hour 25 minutes Available film art:Crank: High Voltage movie posters
Synopsis The indestructible hopped-up hitman Chev Chelios, played to the hilt once again by Jason Statham, returns in Crank 2: High Voltage, picking up where the first film left off — except this time, Chelios is chasing a Chinese gangster who hijacked his heart and substituted it with a mechanical one that needs to be jolted with an electric charge to stay pumping. The maverick directing/writing team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor returns to inject more caffeinated craziness into Lionsgate’s burgeoning action series, with Amy Smart and Dwight Yoakam set to reprise their roles from the original. Efren Ramirez, Bai Ling, Clifton Collins Jr., and Corey Haim round out the cast.
“The Reader” opens in post-WWII Germany when teenager Michael Berg becomes ill and is helped home by Hanna, a stranger twice his age. Michael recovers from scarlet fever and seeks out Hanna to thank her. The two are quickly drawn into a passionate but secretive affair.
Michael discovers that Hanna loves being read to and their physical relationship deepens. Hanna is enthralled as Michael reads to her from “The Odyssey,” “Huck Finn” and “The Lady with the Little Dog.” Despite their intense bond, Hanna mysteriously disappears one day and Michael is left confused and heartbroken.
Eight years later, while Michael is a law student observing the Nazi war crime trials, he is stunned to find Hanna back in his life – this time as a defendant in the courtroom. As Hanna’s past is revealed, Michael uncovers a deep secret that will impact both of their lives. “The Reader” is a haunting story about truth and reconciliation, about how one generation comes to terms with the crimes of another.
“The Reader” stars Ralph Fiennes, David Kross and Kate Winslet, and is directed by Stephen Daldry (the Academy Award nominated director of “The Hours”), from a script by David Hare, and based on the award winning novel by Bernhard Schlink. Schlink’s The Reader has been translated into 40 languages and was the first German novel to reach number one on The New York Times Bestseller List.
Cast: Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes, Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, David Kross; Directed by: Stephen Daldry
Adapted from the legendary comic strip, THE SPIRIT is a classic action-adventure-romance told by genre-twister FRANK MILLER (creator of 300 and SIN CITY). It is the story of a former rookie cop who returns mysteriously from the dead as the SPIRIT (Gabriel Macht) to fight crime from the shadows of Central City. His arch-enemy, the OCTOPUS (Samuel L. Jackson) has a different mission: he’s going to wipe out Spirit’s beloved city as he pursues his own version of immortality. The Spirit tracks this cold-hearted killer from Central City’s rundown warehouses, to the damp catacombs, to the windswept waterfront … all the while facing a bevy of beautiful women who either want to seduce, love or kill our masked crusader. Surrounding him at every turn are ELLEN DOLAN (Sarah Paulson), the whip-smart girl-next-door; SILKEN FLOSS (Scarlett Johansson), a punk secretary and frigid vixen; PLASTER OF PARIS (Paz Vega), a murderous French nightclub dancer; LORELEI (Jaime King), a phantom siren; and MORGENSTERN (Stana Katic), a sexy young cop. Then of course, there’s SAND SAREF (Eva Mendes), the jewel thief with dangerous curves. She’s the love of his life turned bad. Will he save her or will she kill him?
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Eva Mendes, Gabriel Macht; Directed by: Frank Miller
Release date: Friday June 12, 2009 Genre: Comedy/Family Director: Karey Kirkpatrick Studio: Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon Movies Screenplay: Ed Solomon, Chris Matheson Producer(s): Ed Solomon, Lorenzo di Bonaventura Cast: Eddie Murphy, Vanessa Williams, Thomas Haden Church Official Site:imaginethatmovie.com Rating:PG for some mild language ad brief questionable behaviour Available film art:Imagine That movie posters
Synopsis A financial executive (Murphy) who can’t stop his career downspiral is invited into his daughter’s imaginary world, where solutions to his problems await.
Release date: Friday November 20, 2009 Genre: Animation/Comedy/Sci-Fi/Adventure Director: Javier Abad, Jorge Blanco, Marcos Martinez Studio: Columbia Pictures Screenplay: Joe Stillman Producer(s): Guy Collins, Ignacio Pérez Dolset Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Seann William Scott, Jessica Biel, Justin Long, Gary Oldman, John Cleese Official Site: planet51.com Rating:Not yet rated Available film art:Planet 51 movie posters
Synopsis Animated sci-fi tale set on “Planet 51,” whose inhabitants live in fear of an alien invasion. Their paranoia is realized when astronaut Capt. Charles “Chuck” Baker arrives from Earth. Befriended by a young resident, the astronaut has to avoid capture in order to recover his spaceship and return home.
Release date: Friday April 10, 2009 Genre: Family/Musical Running time: 102 min. Director: Peter Chelsom Studio: Walt Disney Pictures Screenplay: Dan Berendsen Producer(s): Alfred Gough, Miles Millar Cast: Miley Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus, Emily Osment, Jason Earles, Mitchel Musso, Moises Arias, Lucas Till, Vanessa Williams, Margo Martindale, Melora Hardin Official Site: disney.go.com/hannahmontanamovie Rating:G Available film art: Hannah Montana: The Movie movie posters
Synopsis “Hannah Montana: The Movie” follows Miley Stewart as Hannah Montana’s soaring popularity threatens to take over her life. With a little urging from her father, the teenager travels back to her hometown of Crowley Corners, Tenn., to rediscover what’s really important.
An adventure comedy starring Adam Sandler as Skeeter Bronson, a hotel handyman whose life is changed forever when the bedtime stories he tells his niece and nephew start to mysteriously come true. He attempts to take advantage of the phenomenon, incorporating his own aspirations into one outlandish tale after another, but it’s the kids’ unexpected contributions that turn Skeeter’s life upside down.
Cast: Adam Sandler, Keri Russell, Guy Pearce, Courteney Cox, Russell Brand, Lucy Lawless, Jonathan Pryce, Aisha Tyler, Dana Goodman; Directed by: Adam Shankman
The Day the Earth Stood Still” is 20th Century Fox’s contemporary reinvention of its 1951 classic. Keanu Reeves portrays Klaatu, an alien whose arrival on our planet triggers a global upheaval. As governments and scientists race to unravel the mystery behind the visitor’s appearance, a woman (Jennifer Connelly) and her young stepson get caught up in his mission – and come to understand the ramifications of his being a self-described “friend to the Earth.”
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Kathy Bates, John Cleese, Jaden Smith; Directed by: Scott Derrickson
I t’s 1964, St. Nicholas in the Bronx. A vibrant, charismatic priest, Father Flynn (Academy Award® winner Philip Seymour Hoffman), is trying to upend the schools’ strict customs, which have long been fiercely guarded by Sister Aloysius Beauvier (Academy Award® winner Meryl Streep), the iron-gloved Principal who believes in the power of fear and discipline. The winds of political change are sweeping through the community, and indeed, the school has just accepted its first black student, Donald Miller. But when Sister James (Academy Award® nominee Amy Adams), a hopeful innocent, shares with Sister Aloysius her guilt-inducing suspicion that Father Flynn is paying too much personal attention to Donald, Sister Aloysius sets off on a personal crusade to unearth the truth and to expunge Flynn from the school. Now, without a shard of proof besides her moral certainty, Sister Aloysius locks into a battle of wills with Father Flynn which threatens to tear apart the community with irrevocable consequence.
Cast: Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Viola Davis, Lloyd Clay Brown; Directed by: John Patrick Shanley
In rural Alabama, two couples find themselves in a fight for survival. Running from a maniac (The Tin Man) bent on killing them, they flee deep into the woods and seek refuge in a house. They soon realize the killer has purposely lured them to this house and that they are now trapped. As they huddle around an old fireplace, a tin can falls through the chimney. Scrawled on its side is a message from the killer, establishing his House Rules. The rules call for their deaths unless they kill at least one of the four.
They have less than 12 hours to find a way to survive. At sunrise the game is over and everyone dies if the killer’s demands aren’t met. What they quickly learn is that the only way out . . . is in. But going further into this house–where unknown challenges await them–is equally deadly.
Director Bill Duke steps behind the camera for this adaptation of the T.D. Jakes novel concerning a newly married couple that finds their union threatened by pressures involving faith, family, and finances. As the couple exchanges their vows, the minister lays a cord around them while uttering the blessing, “a threefold cord is not easily broken.” Later, during their darkest hour, the minister’s advice to always keep God at the center of their marriage could be the only thing that keeps this troubled pair together.
Cast: Morris Chestnut, Taraji P. Henson, Maeve Quinlan, Cannon Jay, Gregg Bello; Directed by: Bill Duke
A man (Carrey) who finds himself very depressed, and is always saying no. When friends ask him out, he always says no, “Yes Man” will explore what happens when he decides to say YES to every thing that comes his way.
Cast: Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Danny Masterson, Bradley Cooper, Terence Stamp, Sasha Alexander, Molly Sims, Patrick Labyorteaux, John Michael Higgins; Directed by: Peyton Reed
Once upon a time, in the faraway kingdom of Dor, there was magic in the air, laughter aplenty and gallons of mouthwatering soup. But an accident left the King broken-hearted, the Princess filled with longing and the townsfolk without their soup. Sunlight disappeared. The world became gray. All hope was lost in this land…until Despereaux Tilling was born.
A modern fairy tale from visionary filmmaker Gary Ross, together with directors Sam Fell & Rob Stevenhagen, The Tale of Despereaux tells the story of several unlikely heroes: Despereaux (Matthew Broderick), a brave mouse banished to the dungeon for speaking with a human; Roscuro (Dustin Hoffman), a good-hearted rat who loves light and soup, but is exiled to darkness; Pea (Emma Watson), a Princess in a gloomy castle who is prisoner to her father’s grief; and Mig (Tracey Ullman), a servant girl who longs to be a Princess, but is forced to serve the jailer (Robbie Coltrane).
Tiny and graced with oversized ears, Despereaux was born too big for his little world. Refusing to live his life cowering, he befriends a Princess named Pea and learns to read (rather than eat) books—reveling in stories of knights, dragons and fair maidens. Banished from Mouseworld for being more man than mouse, Despereaux is rescued by another outcast, Roscuro, who also wants to hear the tales. But when the Princess dismisses Roscuro’s friendship, he becomes the ultimate rat and plots revenge with fellow outsider Mig.
Cast: Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman, Sigourney Weaver, Christopher Lloyd, Kevin Kline, Stanley Tucci, William H. Macy; Directed by: Sam Fell, Robert Stevenhagen
The full list of Autobots and Decepticons that will be appearing in the Transformers sequel has been revealed.
The Autobots and Decepticons appearing in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen have finally been officially identified.
Yahoo! Movies has posted a list that reveals the following Autobots as appearing in the Michael Bay-directed sequel: Optimus Prime, Ironhide, Ratchet, and Bumblebee are back from the first film, joined by the female motorcycle Arcee, Sideswipe, the twin concept cars Skid & Mudflap, and two former Decepticons, Jetfire and Jolt.
The Decepticons will be made up of Starscream, Scorponok, the Audi R8 Sideways, communications satellite Soundwave, the four-legged Ravage, radio-controlled truck Wheelie, spider-like robot The Doctor, the Constructicon Demolisher, Devastator (the Constructicon composed of Scavenger, Scrapper, Hightower, Longhaul, Rampage, Overload and Mixmaster), as well as The Fallen.
The list curiously omitted Megatron; Bay has said he will not be in the film, although Hugo Weaving recently revealed that he’s recorded a vocal performance for it.
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