Denzel Washington’s successful collaboration with director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Magnificent Seven, The Equalizer) continues with The Equalizer 2. Though he’s carved out one of cinema’s most successful careers, The Equalizer 2 is actually Washington’s first sequel, as we witness Frank McCall exacting vengeance on the cutthroats who killed his friend (Melissa Leo).
Wizened and still physically agile at 63, Washington shows that he can still pull off an action driven film with the best of them. Released in 2014, The Equalizer made over $101 million domestically, and the sequel is a sure bet to at least “equal” that impressive figure. The only complaint is that Leo, who delivered wonderful work last year in Novitiate, will probably be gone by the first act. Still, it’s great to see Washington, years after his towering and intimidating work in Training Day, continue to work within Fuqua’s genre driven universe. Check out the trailer below and tell us what you think!
Novitiate is a drama set during the pre-Vatican II era that centers on the spiritual journey of Cathleen (The Nice Guys’Margaret Qualley), a woman who literally falls in love with God. Such a bond is obviously frowned by the Church, Sister Cathleen’s love for God does not go unpunished.
Melissa Leo co-stars as the Reverend Mother, a person who’s not exactly a nurturing mentor to the nuns in training. Leo is heavily featured in the trailer, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Oscar winner Melissa Leo (The Fighter) lands another Academy Award nod. The feature has already received great word of mouth, and writer-director Maggie Betts won the Breakthrough Director award at the Sundance Film Festival. Director John Patrick Shanley’s2008 film Doubt, another story about nuns and unwavering faith, received a slew of award nods, and Novitiate may follow suit.
Co-starring Dianna Agronand Liana Liberato, Novitiate opens October 27. Check out the trailer below and tell us what you think!
After names such as Michael Shannon, Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe and David Harbour were bandied about, the coveted role of Cable in Deadpool 2 has been cast with Josh Brolin landing the part. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Brolin inked a deal for four films. The original film featured an add-on scene during the final credits that teased the arrival of the popular character. Production is expected to start in June.
Jude Law will star as the younger version of a beloved film character, as he’ll appear as young Albus Dumbledore in the sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Deadline reports that in the film, we get to see more of what the character’s life was like before he became the headmaster at Hogwart’s.
Don Cheadle has found his next passion project. The actor will star in and produce Prince of Darkness, a biopic of 19th Century millionaire Jeremiah G. Hamilton, Wall Street’s first black millionaire. Variety reports the film is being adapted from Shane White’s book of the same name, which follows Hamilton’s life as a larger-than-life businessman who purchased a mansion in New Jersey and owned railroad stock though he was not legally allowed to ride the train.
According to Tracking Board, a sequel to Eddie Murphy’s 1988 comedy Coming to America is in the works at Paramount. Original writers Barry Blaustein and David Sheffield have reportedly inked deal to pen the new film as well.
The Manny is ready to hang out with some bad moms. Justin Hartley, star of NBC’s breakout hit This Is Us, has joined the cast for the Bad Moms sequel, Bad Moms Christmas. Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn all return, and in the sequel Hartley plays a firefighter by day and erotic dancer by night who bonds with Hahn’s character.
Sly Stallone will return for a third Escape Plan film. The actor starred in the original film in 2013, while the second film is currently wrapping production.
Brett Ratner will reportedly oversee a film on the life of Playboy magnate Hugh Hefner. Deadline reports that RatPac Entertainment recently optioned the rights and Ratner will produce, while Hefner himself will be an executive producer.
According to Deadline, Robert Duvall has joined the cast of the Steve McQueen-directed film Widows. The heist-themed thriller also stars Viola Davis, Colin Farrell, Liam Neeson, Michelle Rodriguez and others. The film centers on the widows for four armed bank robbers who were killed while robbing a bank. The widows unite after their deaths with the idea of finishing the job.
Filmmaker James Gray and Ethan Ross have reportedly co-written a film called Ad Astra that has attracted Brad Pitt as its potential star. Collider reports that the film centers on a slightly autistic engineer whose father left 20 years ago on a mission to Neptune in his youth in an attempt to find signs of extra-terrestrial life. Now, as an adult, the engineer sets out to travel the solar system trying to track down his father and learn why the system failed.
Melissa Leo has signed on to star in Always on My Mind. Deadline reports the movie from writer/director Chris D’Arienzo finds Leo as the wife of an Alzheimer’s-stricken music legend, who starts to uncover his shocking secret as he begins to deteriorate. The role of the rock star has yet to be cast.
The news is not good for the long gestating film Triple Frontier. Deadline reports that Paramount has backed off the film, while stars Channing Tatum and Tom Hardy have exited as well. The film was also set to star Moonlight Oscar winner Mahershala Ali and Adria Arjona.
Dominic Rains (A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night) delivers subtle yet ultimately powerful work as the lead in Burn Country, a drama which is a blend of a fish out of water tale and a film noir driven thriller. Osman (Rains) is a former fixer who helped journalists navigate their way in Afghanistan, and now he’s found a new home in a small town in California. Melissa Leo is Gloria, a sheriff who provides Osman with a temporary roof over his head (she’s the mother of a journalist friend of Osman’s).
Believing a change of scenery will finally bring him peace and a bit more safety, Osman attempts to land a job at the local newspaper and ends up with a low paying crime reporter job. As he journeys deeper into the town’s mysteries, Osman becomes entranced by a theater actress (Rachel Brsonahan) and an eccentric local (James Franco) with criminal tendencies.
Inspired by the moral and thematic ambiguity of films from the 1970s, director Ian Olds (the filmmaker cites Night Moves as an influence for Burn Country) crafts an unpredictable and atmospheric thriller that takes us right into the complex mindset of Osman. Though Osman is filled with emotional turmoil, which simmers with almost every person he meets in town, Rains wisely doesn’t overplay his hand. By crafting his character with a more humanistic approach, Rains infuses Osman with a ton of depth and feeling.
Burn Country is a fictional tale, but the movie originates from a real place, as director Ian Olds found the narrative’s inspiration from his own experiences helming the documentary Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi.
Burn Country’s DVD doesn’t come with any special features, but it’s still worth a look, especially if you love intricately crafted thrillers.
Rachel Brosnahan and Dominic Rains in "Burn Country" (Samuel Goldwyn)
One of this year’s most arresting performances comes from Dominic Rains in Burn Country. It’s the story of Osman (Rains), a fixer and journalist who, after experiencing his share of trials and trauma in Afghanistan, finds refuge in a sleepy Northern California town. Though the movie is fiction, director/scribe Ian Olds and co-writer Paul Felten drew from Olds’ 2009 documentaryFixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi.
“This film specifically as inspired by a documentary I made in Afghanistan,” said Olds. “I was working with an Afghan fixer and translator and an American journalist. I was trying to tell a story of the larger war and also this relationship with the fixer. We were back in the states and he ended up being kidnapped and murdered. We went back with a sense of obligation to finish that story and after we finished that film, the other fixer we worked with ended up getting asylum in the West and found himself facing a totally different challenge. He had spent his entire life trying to get out of Afghanistan and now here he was, facing this existential crisis of ‘what do I do now’?”
Osman’s journey in his new environment is a perilous one even though he starts off on the right foot. His living situation is stable, as he lives with Gloria (Melissa Leo), a sheriff’s deputy and mother to his journalist friend (James Oliver Wheatley). Although she warns him to stay away from a troubled man’s (James Franco) business, his innate curiosity keeps him moving towards danger.
“All of a sudden he’s in this new town where he’s being asked to write the police blotter and it’s so far on the other end of the spectrum with what he is used to in terms of trauma and the drama,” said Rains. “He wants to go to that place. That’s all he knows – is to go to that place. Yes there is a dark underbelly (with the town), but it’s not like the dark underbelly of Afghanistan. He’s manifested (this belief) that when a death happens, a hole opens in world. What if all he knows is seeing that hole? He’s in this Northern California town and he’s looking for that hole – and that’s all he knows.”
Now playing in select theaters and available On Demand, Burn Country also stars Rachel Brosnahan (Patriots Day).