This Friday, Bilbo's unexpected journey grows ever-more perilous, darker, and more adventurous in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
The second installment in Peter Jackson's epic trilogy adapting the first Middle Earth novel by J.R.R Tolkien hits theaters nationwide on December 13th.
A year ago, the first film introduced the younger Bilbo, following him as he set off from the Shire on an adventure, accompanying Thorin Oakenshield's dwarf-party and Gandalf the Grey.
In The Desolation of Smaug, the group grows closer to the Lonely Mountain, where they attempt to reclaim the underground dwarf kingdom of Erebor from the formidable dragon who slumbers within. Along the way, they encounter Mirkwood elves, a skin-changer, Lake-Town, and all manner of orcs. Every threat pales in comparison, however, to the might of Smaug himself.
Along with entertainment journalists from all over the globe, IAR Managing Editor Jami Philbrick was on hand for the film's press conference in Beverly Hills earlier this month. He had the opportunity to discuss The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug with director Jackson, co-writer Fran Walsh, and stars Richard Armitage (Captain America: The First Avenger), Evangeline Lilly (Lost), Luke Evans (Furious 6), and Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness).
This holiday season, one of the most celebrated and beloved plays of Langston Hughes finally makes the transition from stage to screen.
Black Nativity hits theaters this Wednesday, November 27th.
The film is based on the gospel musical of the same name, which the playwright and towering Harlem Renaissance figure first staged more than half a century ago.
In adapting the play, Black Nativity brings the story into a contemporary setting, following Langston, a streetwise teen who ventures from his native Baltimore to New York for Christmas. Raised by his single mother, Langston is forced to spent the holidays with estranged relatives Reverend Cornell and Aretha Cobbs. Bristling under the Reverend's strict rule, Langston sets his heart on returning home to Baltimore, but finds himself on a journey that teaches him new lessons about himself, family, forgiveness, and God.
Written and directed by Kasi Lemmons (Eve's Bayou), Black Nativity features an all-star ensemble led by Jacob Latimore (Vanishing on Seventh Street) as Langston. Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniels' The Butler) plays Reverend Cornell, with Angela Bassett (Olympus Has Fallen) as Aretha Cobbs, and Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls) as Langston's mother, Naima. Lending support are Mary J. Blige (Rock of Ages) and Tyrese Gibson (Furious 6).
At the Los Angeles press day for Black Nativity, IAR Managing Editor Jami Philbrick had the opportunity to speak with Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, and Mary J. Blige. The actors enthusiastically discussed their connection to the material, the role of spirituality, challenges inherent in musicals, working with Lemmons, and the film's uplifting messages.
This Friday, November 15th, The Best Man Holiday lets audiences catch up with some old friends played by Morris Chestnut and Monica Calhoun.
It's been fourteen years since The Best Man introduced moviegoers to a group of college companions setting out on their own in the world, optimistically juggling their romantic and professional lives with only each other to depend upon. Through the drama and hilarity surrounding the wedding of Mia (Calhoun) and Lance (Chestnut), the film gave a snapshot of their lives and sense of their future.
Now, that future is coming to the screen. In The Best Man Holiday, it's once again Mia and Lance Sullivan who bring the characters we know and love together again. This time, the legendary professional football player and his wife of fifteen years invite the old gang to their palatial New York home for the Christmas holiday. In no time at all, everyone is back in their familiar rhythms, from struggling author Harper (Taye Diggs, Equilibrium) and his wife Robyn (Sanaa Lathan, Contagion) to Jordan (Nia Long, House of Lies), married couple and charter school administrators Candace (Regina Hall, Think Like a Man) and Julian (Harold Perrineau, Zero Dark Thirty), reality TV star Shelby (Melissa De Sousa, Ashes), and unapologetic ladies' man Quentin (Terrence Howard, Prisoners).
IAR participated in a discussion with Monica Calhoun and Morris Chestnut at the Los Angeles Best Man Holiday press day, where the two actors enthusiastically discussed the process of reuniting the Best Man ensemble, returning to these familiar characters, dancing onscreen, relating to one another, proud moments in their careers, and their hopes for The Best Man Holiday.
In About Time, expanding to a nationwide release this Friday, Rachel McAdams and Bill Nighy are players in a quietly unconventional time travel story, one unconcerned with saving the world or overblown visual effects.
Written and directed by Richard Curtis (Love Actually), About Time instead follows Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson, Anna Karenina), an earnest young man who discovers that all the men in his family have possessed the unique ability to travel through time. Though he does not have the ability to change history, Tim can alter what has happened and will happen in his own life. Setting out to create the perfect romantic relationship, Tim gradually discovers that, even for a time-traveler, life is full of surprises and fleeting, unrepeatable moments.
In this romantic comedy, Rachel McAdams plays Mary, the love of Tim's unusual life, with Bill Nighy as the father who shows his son the ropes of chrono-hopping. McAdams is a household name here in American and around the world, having demonstrated her inimitable charisma and charm in films as diverse as The Vow, Mean Girls, Sherlock Holmes, and Morning Glory. Nighy, meanwhile, is known best to Stateside audiences for his supporting performances in British gems like Shaun of the Dead, genre fare like Underworld, and blockbusters like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.
Thanks to Brenna Smith, IAR was on hand to discuss About Time with McAdams and Nighy in Los Angeles recently. Both actors enthusiastically shared their thoughts on romance, their leading man, working with one-man-romantic-comedy-empire Curtis, their roles, how the ordinary can be sublime, and the effect About Time is having on audiences.
Probably the most deceptive description of Dallas Buyers Club, in limited release this Friday, is that it's a Ghosts of Girlfriends Past reunion.
The acclaimed drama does indeed star Matthew McConaughey (Mud, Magic Mike) and Jennifer Garner (Juno, The Odd Life of Timothy Green), but Dallas Buyers Club is a far, far different film from that high concept comedy.
Dallas Buyers Club has earned almost unanimous acclaim on the festival circuit for its portrait of one man's response to an unprecedented modern plague and his own mortality. McConaughey stars as Ron Woodroof, a real-life Texas shitkicker, electrician, rodeo junkie, and ladies' man
who was diagnosed with HIV and given one month to live in 1985. During
those prejudicial days when the virus was thought of almost exclusively
as a homosexual disease, Woodroof found his assumptions upended, but
more importantly, he endeavored to survive by any means necessary. Seeking
out treatments not yet approved by the FDA, Woodroof traveled the world
securing non-toxic alternative therapies, which he then shared with his fellow HIV-positive
patients via the titular "buyers club."
Garner, meanwhile, plays the supporting role of Dr. Eve Saks, a medical professional whose sympathy for Ron leads to an unconventional friendship. It's just one of the standout performances in the film, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (The Young Victoria). Also receiving a lot of attention is Jared Leto (Fight Club) as Rayon, an HIV-infected transsexual who becomes Ron's partner in crime and an invaluable ally.
Both Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner were in attendance at a recent Los Angeles press day for Dallas Buyers Club. IAR Managing Editor Jami Philbrick was on hand to talk with the enthusiastic stars as they discussed their characters, different types of research, physically transforming for a role, playing off of Jared Leto, the production's unconventional methods, and the lessons to be learned from Dallas Buyers Club.
Harrison Ford needs no introduction, but he's getting one regardless.
The two-time Academy Award nominee is a true movie star, having brought to life some of the most iconic and memorable cinematic characters of the twentieth century. As Han Solo, Ford brought unparalleled swagger to the smooth, secretly heroic rogue bastard, and as Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones, he epitomized the strapping, serialized matinee hero of days gone by. While he is, of course, known the world over for those roles, Ford also earned acclaim for his nuanced performances in the likes of Witness and The Mosquito Coast, as well as his charismatic turns in Fugitive and as Tom Clancy's globe-trotting hero Jack Ryan.
Ford is currently kicking up awards season dust for his work as Branch Rickey in the Jackie Robinson biopic 42, and later this year he squares off against Ron Burgundy in the comedy sequel Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.
This Friday, he plays a crucial supporting role in Ender's Game. Written and directed by Gavin Hood (Tsotsi, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), Ender's Game takes place in a future where Earth has survived one war with an extraterrestrial species called Formics. To ensure that humanity is ready for the next interstellar war, the planet's military, the International Fleet, recruits the brightest young people from all over the world to train at Battle School, an orbital military academy dedicated to producing the next generation of generals and officers.
In the film, Ford plays Colonel Hyrum Graff, the IF officer assigned to track the Battle School progress of Andrew "Ender" Wiggin. Played by Asa Butterfield (Hugo), Ender is a precociously brilliant youth with a rare combination of tactical genius and emotional empathy. A nearly messianic figure, Ender is the Fleet's best hope of finding a leader for the next fight against the Formics.
IAR Managing Editor Jami Philbrick recently attended an Ender's Game press conference in Los Angeles, where the legendary actor discussed the film's thematic content, how visual effects technology has changed since Star Wars, working with this movie's phenomenal ensemble, wire work, his advice to young actors, and the possibility of cracking Indy's whip one more time.
In Captain Phillips, hitting theaters nationwide this Friday, our affinity for Tom Hanks is used against us, bringing a real-life incident of maritime peril to the screen with an almost unbearable intensity.
Even for an international movie star, Hanks is unusually loved by audiences. Rather than projecting unapproachable glamor, he has maintained an affable persona that often makes him feel like America's favorite uncle; we're pretty much always happy to see Tom Hanks.
Richard Phillips, meanwhile, is a bona-fide hero. He was the captain of the Maersk Alabama, a commercial freighter. When the unarmed vessel was boarded by four pirates 240 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia in April of 2009, Phillips was taken hostage, spending three days on a lifeboat with the armed pirates in a dramatic incident that made headlines around the world.
The new dramatic thriller is the latest feature from director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum), who honed his attention to verisimilitude with searing docudramas Sunday Bloody Sunday and United 93. Screenwriter Billy Ray (Shattered Glass) adapts A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy Seals, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Phillips himself and Stephen Talty.
Even with such talent behind the camera, the film largely rests upon its lead actor's shoulders. IAR Managing Editor Jami Philbrick was on hand at the Los Angeles press day for Captain Phillips, during which Hanks discussed tackling this true story of endurance, what he learned from the real Phillips, the spontaneity of the production, working with the Navy, and the pressures of playing heroes.
Sandra Bullock is one of the biggest movie stars on the planet.
So it makes a strange kind of sense that her latest film, Gravity, takes her off the planet.
Bullock has been a staple at the multiplex for two decades. Most recently, she once again proved her comedic chops with this summer's The Heat. In 2010, shortly after she headlined the hit comedy The Proposal, Bullock won the Best Actress Academy Award for her performance in the hugely popular drama The Blind Side. She's one of the rare contemporary stars able to bounce between genres, maintaining her popular appeal in seemingly any type of film.
And there are very, very few films like Gravity. Directed and co-written by Oscar-nominee Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Y Tu Mamá También), Gravity features only two actors onscreen for almost the entirety of its running time. With George Clooney (The Descendants) as Matt Kowalski, a NASA astronaut on a rountine orbital mission, Bullock stars as Dr. Ryan Stone, a medical engineer on her first trip into space. When satellite debris tears apart their shuttle, a routine spacewalk turns into a real-time a fight for survival against the void of space. As intense as that sounds, the film itself is more immersive and harrowing than such a description can capture, with Cuarón pushing modern visual effects almost to the breaking point in order to execute hugely involving uninterrupted takes of spacefaring action.
IAR Managing Editor Jami Philbrick was recently on hand for a Los Angeles press conference during which the one and only Sandra Bullock enthusiastically discussed the rarity of her Gravity role, her research with actual astronauts, collaborating with her acclaimed director, carrying a film of this size herself, and seeing the movie for the first time.
Sex Addiction is no joke. That doesn't mean, however, that Thanks for Sharing can't treat the subject with a little humor.
Opening in theaters today, Thanks for Sharing is the feature directorial debut of Stuart Blumberg, who earned an Academy Award nomination as the co-writer of The Kids Are All Right.
For his first feature, Blumberg has assembled a tremendous ensemble cast that reunites him with Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers) and also boasts the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron Man 3), Tim Robbins (Mystic River), Josh Gad (The Internship), Joely Richardson (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Patrick Fugit (Almost Famous), and Alecia Moore, aka Pink, in her most substantial film role to date.
Co-written by Blumberg and Matt Winston, Thanks for Sharing is an ensemble comedy-drama centered around three men grappling with sex addiction. Adam (Ruffalo) is dealing with his first serious relationship in years, afraid of revealing his addiction to Phoebe (Paltrow), the woman with whom he's falling in love. Adam's sponsor Mike (Robbins) has been successfully dealing with his sexual compulsion for fifteen years, but his discipline complicates his relationships with his wife (Richardson) and son (Fugit), coping with an addiction of his own. Finally there's Neil (Gad), who loses his job because of his public shenanigans, leading him into a program where he forms an odd couple friendship with Dede (Moore), another recovering sex addict.
IAR was on hand for the recent Los Angeles press conference, during which director Blumberg and stars Paltrow, Robbins, Moore, and Gad enthusiastically discussed Thank for Smoking's unique blend of comedy and drama, working with Ruffalo, what attracted them to the subject matter, their own addictions, and the indispensability of community.
He may look like the monosyllabic bruiser checking your I.D. on the way into an unsavory bar, but Vin Diesel is possessed of the gift of gab.
The loquacious action star is sharing his enthusiasm for Riddick, this Friday's sci-fi sequel that heralds the title character's return after an absence of almost a decade.
Interstellar outlaw Richard B. Riddick first charmed audiences thirteen years ago as the breakout character in Pitch Black. As one of the survivors of a crash landing on a desolate alien world, the extremely proficient killer whose polished eyes see in the dark went up against a swarm of nocturnal beasts. The sequel, 2004's summer event movie The Chronicles of Riddick, put the anti-hero at the center of a vast mythology, revealing him as the last of an extinct species known as Furyans and putting him in conflict with a marauding galactic empire.
Nine years after the straightforward sci-fi spectacle of that sequel comes Riddick, a return to form for the genre's foremost tank top-wearing mass murderer. Without abandoning the elements introduced in The Chronicles of Riddick, this entry more closely follows the stripped-down approach of Pitch Black. Once again, Riddick finds himself marooned on harsh alien soil. With no other option, he activates a distress beacon, one that brings not rescue, but bounty hunters intent on collecting his head. Unluckily for them, the mercenaries aren't just facing the most dangerous man in the galaxy, but also another limitless hoard of alien carnivores.
On Riddick, Vin Diesel dons the characters goggles again, working with David Twohy (A Perfect Getaway), the writer-director behind both Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick. IAR recently attended a press conference in which star and producer Diesel was happy to discuss Richard Riddick's return, how his fatherhood affected the character, building franchises like Fast & Furious, financing Riddick independently, Dungeons and Dragons influencing the atmosphere on set, matching muscles with professional wrestlers, and the future of the last Furyan.