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Movie Review: Karl Marx City uncovers a dark mystery from the files of the East German secret police

3 hours ago

In the hours before his suicide in 1999, Petra Epperlein’s father washed his car, burned his personal papers, and mailed his daughter a cryptic note along with a postcard she had sent him some years earlier. The death seemed to come out of nowhere for Epperlein and her two brothers; their father had been a prototypical mustachioed, hard-working family man who labored to give his children the best life he could in their corner of East Germany. But there was the matter of the mysterious blackmail threat that arrived at their home not long after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and the fact that their father had been able to get his sons out of military training thanks to what had been described as a favor from a friend. In the years since his suicide, a suspicion has bugged the family: Did their father, in fact, work with »

- Ignatiy Vishnevetsky

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For Our Consideration: Chicago’s crime of the century has inspired 4 movies—so far

3 hours ago

Decades before the O.J. Simpson case, there was already a “crime of the century” for the 1900s. Now nearly a century old, the case still has a long-standing impact, not just where it happened (Chicago) but in our culture overall: Multiple movies have been made about it, with such actors as Dean Stockwell and Ryan Gosling playing one of the culprits in question. Even if you’re not sure who, exactly, these names belong to, you’re likely familiar with the phrase “Leopold and Loeb.”

Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were two beyond-gifted teenagers in the high-class neighborhood of Kenwood (where the Obamas have a home), near Hyde Park on the South Side of Chicago. Both had graduated from college before the age of 20. In 1924, 18-year-old Loeb was in graduate school, and 19-year-old Leopold was in law school. Studying the works of Nietzsche, the pair decided to ...

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- Gwen Ihnat

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Newswire: Paul Greengrass to direct Eliot Ness biopic based on a graphic novel

6 hours ago

Though The Untouchables has seemed like the definitive Eliot Ness movie for a few decades, Paul Greengrass is stepping up to direct a new Eliot Ness movie for a new generation. Titled Ness, the movie will be based on Brian Michael Bendis and Marc Andreyko’s graphic novel Torso, which chronicled Ness’ attempt to capture a torso-chopping serial killer in Cleveland in the years after bringing down Al Capone. The screenplay is being written by La Confidential’s Brian Helgeland, who also worked on Greengrass’ The Bourne Supremacy.

This comes from Deadline, which says that the studio (Paramount Pictures) is hoping to turn this into a franchise. If that’s the case, subsequent movies will probably have to be prequels, since the most famous thing Eliot Ness ever did wasn’t catching this torso killer. There’s also no casting information yet, but Matt Damon is definitely waiting by his »

- Sam Barsanti

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Coming Distractions: Nicole Kidman is Queen Of The Desert in this trailer for the Werner Herzog film

7 hours ago

Sand can be pretty divisive. It’s coarse, rough, irritating, and it gets everywhere, but in this trailer for Queen Of The Desert, sand is greatly preferable to a stuffy life in England. The film stars Nicole Kidman as Gertrude Bell, a writer, archaeologist, explorer, and political operative who played a crucial role in forming the borders of modern-day Iraq. The film also features James Franco, Damian Lewis, and Robert Pattinson—who happens to be playing a young version of T.E. Lawrence, another person famous for his love of the desert—and it was written and directed by Werner Herzog.

The film has been sitting on various shelves for a while now, with the last trailer coming out over a year ago. Now it has a proper release date, and fans of Herzog, Kidman, and sand will be able to see it in theaters and on-demand services on April ...

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- Sam Barsanti

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Odds And Sods: The cast of The Most Hated Woman In America answers life’s most existential questions

10 hours ago

The new Netflix film The Most Hated Woman In America deals with some weighty and, at times, existential subject matter. It tells the story of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, an atheist activist who lobbied against the reading of the Bible in public schools in 1995. At SXSW, we caught up with the team behind the film—Melissa Leo, Josh Lucas, Michael Chernus, and writer-director Tommy O’Haver—to see if they could answer some of life’s biggest questions. »

- Baraka Kaseko

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Newswire: O’Shea Jackson Jr. goes from Straight Outta Compton to the Godzilla sequel

11 hours ago

Though he made his cinematic debut playing a younger version of his dad, O’Shea Jackson Jr. has actually displayed a lot of versatility. The Straight Outta Compton actor followed up his dramatic success in that music biopic with some serious Sundance recognition: He was named one of Variety’s breakout stars for his performance alongside Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen in the comedy Ingrid Goes West. Now Variety reports Jackson Jr. is heading to blockbuster territory for a role in Godzilla: King Of Monsters.

The sequel’s cast already includes Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, and Kyle Chandler. And Ken Watanabe, who starred in the 2014 film opposite Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Bryan Cranston, will reprise his role for the sequel. Godzilla: King Of Monsters is one of multiple projects on the horizon for Jackson Jr.; he’s currently shooting Den Of Thieves with Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber, and ...

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- Danette Chavez

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Great Job, Internet!: Cringe at how expensive it was to film these deleted scenes

11 hours ago

People stopped caring about deleted scenes pretty soon after DVDs became a thing (unless they’re Star Wars-related). Truly, there’s a reason most of these things were deleted. Now, it’s not the content of a deleted scene that captures the attention so much as the waste of time, effort, and money it took to film what was essentially a fruitless endeavor. A new video from Looper compiles some of the most wasteful, and it’s a volume of lost footage that could’ve funded a dozen or so indies.

While some of the films included on this list, including World War Z and Little Shop Of Horrors, deleted entire acts rather than scenes, others found themselves taking a huge financial hit on just a single, lonely scene. One such example is the original opening of 2006’s Superman Returns, which filmed a sumptuous, contemplative opening on Krypton ...

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- Randall Colburn

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Coming Distractions: See the trailer for a Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer, plus new details on its villain

12 hours ago

Take flight. A new #SpiderManHomecoming trailer is landing tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/AZQwodJUE6

— Spider-Man (@SpiderManMovie) March 27, 2017

The last Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer was preceded by a short clip revealing the new web-wings on Spidey’s Tony Stark-built superhero suit, and once again Sony and Marvel are hyping up a Spider-Man trailer by revealing a new spider-gadget. As you can see in the clip above, it seems to be some kind of tiny drone that transforms from the actual logo on Spider-Man’s chest, which not only gives the wall-crawler a new toy (both in the movie and for the merchandise people), but also justifies him having a logo on his suit in the first place. Beyond that, we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see the full trailer.

For those hungry for more spider-info, USA Today has some new details on Michael Keaton’s villain, the Vulture. For ...

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- Sam Barsanti

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Newswire: Fox is making a movie musical inspired by Pharrell’s life

13 hours ago

Perhaps due to the success of La La Land, or perhaps just because singing and dancing is great, it seems everyone wants to make a movie musical these days. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Channing Tatum are collaborating on one, and now Pharrell Williams has another in the works.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox will make a musical inspired by Williams’ childhood called Atlantis. Williams and producing partner Mimi Valdes worked with the studio on Hidden Figures, which he also scored. The pair will produce this project as well, along with as Gil Netter. Michael Mayer, best known for his work on Broadway, will direct. THR doesn’t say whether or not Williams would actually score the project, although if he doesn’t, that would be a huge missed opportunity. Apparently, the story cribs a bit from Romeo And Juliet, so be forewarned: This could be very, very sad.

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- Esther Zuckerman

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Newswire: It’s Rumor Time: The Venom movie could be R-rated, super scary

13 hours ago

With Sony intent on putting a standalone Venom movie into the world, rumors about just what that particular project will look like have begun to circulate. The general consensus? It won’t be for kids, which is fitting for a film about a parasitic villain. Collider reports that it is “hearing” that the studio wants to make it R-rated, following in the footsteps of Fox, which got grown-up with Deadpool and Logan. That assertion comes with a lot of qualifications, but also makes sense given both the character in play and the current superhero sub-trend.

Similarly, Screenrant is pointing out that the site My Entertainment World categorizes Venom as “Action / Horror / Sci-Fi,” meaning that it would presumably be scarier than your average Spider-Man adjacent flick. This also figures, given that Venom’s look alone is the stuff of nightmares. Still, all of this is incredibly premature, and entirely speculative. What »

- Esther Zuckerman

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Watch This: John Hughes’ Uncle Buck is the sentient version of the Chicago he loves

14 hours ago

Watch This offers movie recommendations inspired by new releases or premieres. Since it’s Chicago Week here at The A.V. Club, we’re looking back on some essential Chicago movies, set (and often filmed) in the Windy City.

Uncle Buck (1989)

The greater Chicago area had few cinematic boosters more tireless than John Hughes. The city was the setting for nearly every youth-centric story he told, from the detention hall of The Breakfast Club to the suburban streets of Home Alone. But while the films often prominently feature Chicago landmarks or residences, Uncle Buck feels different. Not just because it’s the only film Hughes directed besides Planes, Trains, And Automobiles (which also starred his frequent collaborator John Candy) to follow a grown-up rather than kids—but because Candy’s character, Buck Russell, is the closest thing imaginable to a sentient embodiment of the Chicago the filmmaker loved.

The ...

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- Alex McLevy

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Great Job, Internet!: Here’s how they put 19 million individual hairs on King Kong in Skull Island

14 hours ago

Kong: Skull Island was a visual marvel, its aesthetic magnificence helping to distract from its uneven tone, lack of clear protagonist, and complete trivialization of ostensible stars Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson. There might be no greater, more iconic shot this year than the first glimpses we get of King Kong cast in the glare of a hazy sun.

A new video from Wired works to provide some insight into the process behind the film’s visual effects, with host Mike Seymour pinpointing a few specific scenes that provided unique challenges.

What’s especially interesting is that the noted scenes, which include Kong’s consumption of a giant squid and the appearance of a massive, seaweed-soaked water buffalo, were essentially a means of world-building rather than any kind of centerpiece action sequence.

The squid scene, for example, encompassed everything from flesh and water sims to facial animation and “complex fur »

- Randall Colburn

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Newswire: Weekend Box Office: Nostalgia keeps selling

14 hours ago

What’s old is constantly new again at the movies. Just look at the current box-office charts, tallying this past weekend’s ticket sales. We’ve got two remakes of old television shows, a superhero-themed spinoff of an animated movie, the tenth installment in a superhero franchise, a couple R-rated thrillers blatantly indebted to other movies, another King Kong film, and a live-action remake of an animated version of an old fairy tale. Even Get Out, the sleeper hit of the season, has some familiar genre parts to compliment its new take on horror.

It’s tempting to put the blame squarely on Hollywood for giving audiences nothing fresh to sink their teeth into. Of course the box office is going to be dominated by sequels, remakes, and reboots, because that’s about all the giant recycling plant we call the studio system ever coughs up. But audiences play a »

- A.A. Dowd

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Great Job, Internet!: Watch some chill bros petition their city council to build a Paul Walker statue

14 hours ago

At this point, the Fast & Furious series has eclipsed its humble beginnings and become something of an institution, a bleary, lurid rush of neon cars, punchlines, soliloquies about family, and Ludacris. 2015’s Furious 7 was the last featuring series stalwart Paul Walker, who died in 2013, and the film ended with a surprisingly moving tribute to the actor from the cast that had worked with him longest.

Still, that tribute was not quite enough, and so two earnest and extremely lax bros have petitioned the San Clemente City Council to construct a 12-foot-tall steel statue of the actor looking absolutely shredded and handsome, as was his wont. (Fast forward to 30:30 for the bros.)

While the fell specter of Donald Trump is never explicitly raised as justification, the bros say that we are living in “gnarly times,” a “bummer year” for which the statue of Walker could ...

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- Clayton Purdom

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Odds And Sods: We try to stump Giancarlo Esposito and Josh Duhamel on their own careers

16 hours ago

At SXSW, assistant editor Alex McLevy got a chance to sit down with Giancarlo Esposito and Josh Duhamel to discuss their upcoming satirical drama, This Is Your Death. When the interview portion was done, Alex thought he’d play a friendly game with the actors. In the clip above, Alex quizzes both Esposito and Duhamel on their IMDb credits.

Watch our interview with the duo here.

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- Baraka Kaseko

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Odds And Sods: The team from This Is Your Death hopes to use their art to affect change

16 hours ago

At SXSW, assistant editor Alex McLevy got a chance to sit down with Giancarlo Esposito and Josh Duhamel to discuss their upcoming satirical drama This Is Your Death. This Is Your Death is a satirical look at reality television in which a hit game show has its contestants kill themselves on-air. In the clip above, Esposito and Duhamel discuss their approach to the film, and what inspired them to take on such a heavy-handed story.

Watch us try to stump the duo on their own careers here.

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- Baraka Kaseko

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Great Job, Internet!: Yes, that Bette Davis musical performance in last night’s Feud actually happened

16 hours ago

One of the most amazing standouts in a series full of them like Feud is Susan Sarandon’s performance as Bette Davis. It’s a portrayal that zooms far past imitation to become a reverent and spot-on interpretation. Sarandon possesses the necessary Bette Davis eyes, but seamlessly adds the actress’ clipped tones and theatrical gestures to possess the Hollywood legend completely. An Emmy nom, if not a win, seems to be a shoo-in.

Screenshot: Feud

Case in point: In last night’s Feud, Sarandon’s Davis is shown enjoying the newfound popularity brought to her in 1962 by the fact that her gothic thriller What Ever Happened To Baby Jane is a hit. She even performs a pop song based on the movie title on The Andy Williams Show. Sarandon’s performance of the song is a Davis tour de force, made all the more impressive by the fact that ...

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- Gwen Ihnat

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Great Job, Internet!: Post-credits sequences were a thing before Marvel, believe it or not

17 hours ago

Due to an overabundance of “cinematic universes” and sequel fodder, post-credits sequences have become such a thing in modern moviegoing that they’ve become less of a surprise and more of an obligation. These days, the post-credits sequence functions as a teaser of sorts of a new hero (as seen in the latest Power Rangers film), a new villain (à la the first Avengers), or even the foreshadowing of a forthcoming battle (who else heard that Godzilla roar at the end of Kong: Skull Island?).

In simpler times, however, the post-credits sequence could serve multiple roles. A new video from WhatCulture compiles some notable examples, some of which are truly surprising (L.A. Confidential, really?).

As evidenced by films as diverse as Django Unchained, Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, and Lethal Weapon 3, the post-credits sequence was more often than not a punchline for some unresolved joke, though »

- Randall Colburn

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Newswire: Jake Gyllenhaal to play one of The Anarchists Vs. Isis in new film

17 hours ago

Not long after giving Life to their first collaboration, Jake Gyllenhaal and Daniel Espinosa are getting ready to team up once more for something less tentacled and more earthbound. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Gyllenhaal has just boarded The Anarchists Vs. Isis, which Espinosa will direct. The film is an adaptation of a recent Rolling Stone article about a real-life “ragtag group” of socialists (is there any other kind?) and other American outcasts who have been fighting along the Ypg (Kurdish militia) against Isis in Syria. Gyllenhaal will presumably play one of the anarchists, and he’ll co-produce with Espinosa, Riva Marker, Michael Litvak, and executive producer Gary Michael Walters.

The original article was written by Seth Harp, but there’s currently no word on who will pen the screenplay. The Anarchists follows in the steps of War Dogs, the Jonah Hill-starring film based off a 2011 Rolling Stone article »

- Danette Chavez

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Coming Distractions: Javier Bardem really has it in for Jack Sparrow in new Pirates 5 trailer

18 hours ago

The new Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales opens with a bit of monologuing from Javier Bardem’s Captain Armando Salazar, who hated pirates in life and hasn’t quite gotten over that despite now being undead. Not that his grudge is unfounded: In addition to being a general scourge, pirates had something to do with his being trapped in something called the Devil’s Triangle. And he seems to especially hate Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), which again, is probably with good reason. In fact, no one seems to care for Jack in this trailer—not the kid (Brendon Thwaites) who breaks him out of jail, nor his old compatriots, or the astronomer played by Kaya Scodelario. But that’s never prevented him from assembling a crew before, and it doesn’t hinder him here either.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales sets sail »

- Danette Chavez

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