While many eyes today were turned toward Washington, D.C., business continued on anyway at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Some big deals have been made so far, two of the most prominent being $4 million for Don Jon's Addiction and $2.5 million for Fruitvale. Relativity bought Don Jon, a movie written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who also stars alongside Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore. In the comedy, Gordon-Levitt plays a Jersey lothario who's also addicted to porn, which has some critics saying very positive things. Perhaps another auteur is born, an Affleck who realized his abilities earlier and before sputtering out as an actor. Fruitvale is a humbler but still much-lauded movie; helmed by a first-time director, its biggest star is Friday Night Lights charmer Michael B. Jordan. But The Weinstein Company saw something in the movie, about a real-life police shooting in Oakland, and so they'll be peddling it sometime later this year. People are calling it this year's Beasts of the Southern Wild, though other than it being a hit and starring black people, I don't really see where the comparison comes in. But that's the nature of Sundance; everyone is simply trying to recreate old experiences. There always has to be the next Little Miss Sunshine, or Blair Witch, or even a Reservoir Dogs. And yet, there never is. [The Hollywood Reporter; Deadline]
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The long-weekend box-office numbers are in, and it is good news for Jessica Chastain. She's the star of the number one and number two movies. Her truly baffling horror movie Mama took the top spot, earning $33 million from Friday to today. That's a lotta scratch for a junky January crapfest, though as happens with most horror movies, this will likely drop steeply in its second week. Once the initial scare-seekers are done and word spreads, there isn't really anyone else left. Especially, y'know, when the movie is bad. Which Mama definitely is. Zero Dark Thirty was number two with $18.7 million, likely on its way to a cool $100 million domestically. Some people will definitely not be happy about that — Chris Hayes and Glenn Greenwald spring to mind — but it's good news for Kathryn Bigelow and her producers. And it's good news for Chastain, who might actually become something of a viable movie star? She's been kinda artsy until now, well except for The Help, but now she's headlining hit political thrillers and horror movies. Sure, people are mostly going for the ghost and the SEAL Team Six raid, but she's there too, sticking in people's minds. All she needs to do now is make a hit romantic comedy and she's as good as gold. Maybe she plays a flustered Boston gal who works in restaurant PR and clashes with a brash new restaurant owner (James Marsden) who eventually teaches her to sample the buffet of life and dig in. You know, something awful like that. Think about it, Chastain. Tell your agents. [Entertainment Weekly]
While Michael B. Jordan earns Sundance accolades, his Friday Night Lights girlfriend Jurnee Smollett (who also used to be Michelle Tanner's friend on Full House) is heading to HBO. (Where Jordan featured on The Wire.) She's been cast as a regular on the next season of True Blood, playing "wide-eyed Nicole Wright, who is not concerned with money and more concerned with the common good and doing what’s right." Hmm. Sounds dull. I'm sure she won't be corrupted or anything. That would never happen on True Blood. The show has also cast an actress named Amelia Rose Blaire to play the daughter of the governor of Louisiana, to be played by Arliss Howard. Wait. the governor of Louisiana? Plus his daughter and some other girl? Oh, man. That's terrific news. Because really what True Blood needs is more characters. There are just not enough characters or storylines on that show. Every episode I watch, I think, "This is great and all, but there just aren't enough plots or characters. I need more nonsense to follow." So thank god they're finally adding more nonsense. Phew. The show is saved. I wonder if the governor is in cahoots with the vampires? Or the werewolves? Or the shapeshifters or the faeries or the bad vampires or the good werewolves or maybe just the boring humans? Are there any humans left on the show? Basically there's Arlene and that's it. Poor Arlene. Poor True Blood. Poor us. [Deadline]
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Here is a trailer for Emperor, a post-WWII drama about a military officer (Tommy Lee Jones) and his right-hand man (Matthew Fox) deciding whether or not they should arrest the emperor of Japan for his role in the war. It looks serious and earnest and kinda boring and will probably mostly go to on-deemand and end up on Netflix someday, which you'll use to watch it some Sunday when you are hungover or it's raining and there's nothing on TV. I hope you enjoy it. Be sure to order food.
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And here is the trailer for At Any Price, a father/son farming drama that is actually supposed to be smart and serious in a way that this hokey trailer doesn't at all show. Still, you'll probably watch it on Saturday afternoon on HBO or something, before going out and ruining yourself for the next day, when you'll watch Emperor and remember this post.