TIME movies

Early 2016 Release Date Set for Coen Brothers’ Hail, Caesar!

Apple Store Soho Presents Meet The Filmmakers: Joel Coen And Ethan Coen, "Inside Llewyn Davis"
Ethan Coen and Joel Coen speak during Meet The Filmmakers: "Inside Llewyn Davis" at the Apple Store Astrid Stawiarz—Getty Images

Ensemble cast will feature Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, and more

Universal Pictures let a few more details slip out Wednesday about an upcoming flick by the Academy Award-winning filmmakers called Hail, Caesar!

Indiewire, which published Universal’s synopsis, reports the feature by Ethan and Joel Coen, of Fargo and No Country for Old Men fame, is set for a Feb. 5, 2016, release.

The movie, which takes place toward the end of Hollywood’s Golden Age and “follows a single day in the life of a studio fixer who is presented with plenty of problems to fix,” will involve an all-star ensemble cast that includes Scarlett Johansson, Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill.

[Indiewire]

TIME movies

Watch the New Trailer for Serena With Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper

The pair reunites for a third time on the silver screen

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper’s last two movies together, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, earned the stars ample praise and accolades, often pointing to the pair’s chemistry onscreen. Now the duo attempts to carry on that success with Serena, a Depression-era drama that’s equal parts romance and crime.

In the new trailer, cut for U.S. audiences, Lawrence and Cooper are again shown playing Serena and George Pemberton, tycoons of a timber empire in 1930s North Carolina. We see glimpses of their whirlwind romance, the personal and business dilemmas that follow, and the drastic action Serena takes to try to preserve their future together. Adapted from a novel by Ron Rash and directed by Susanne Bier, the film has been long in the making, cycling through some casting and directorial changes and followed by a lengthy editing process.

Though the duo have made their biggest impact in dramedies, it remains to be seen how they’ll fare in a movie that dials the humor way down and elevates the drama. Serena was released in Europe this month, and preliminary reviews are middling at best. Perhaps the film will fare better among American audiences when it hits U.S. theaters in February 2015.

TIME movies

Joan Didion Documentary Reaches Funding Goal Within One Day

The American Theatre Wing's 2012 Annual Gala
Joan Didion attends The American Theatre Wing's 2012 Annual Gala at The Plaza Hotel on September 24, 2012 in New York City. Jemal Countess—Getty Images

“We’re making it because no one else, incredibly, has”

In the preface to Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion’s collection of essays from the 1960s, the author speaks to her primary strength as a journalist. “My only advantage as a reporter is that I am so physically small, so temperamentally unobtrusive, and so neurotically inarticulate that people tend to forget that my presence runs counter to their best interests.” Perhaps some of her subjects would agree, but the vast majority of American readers and writers — including the people who give out the National Book Award and the National Medal of Arts and Humanities — would beg to differ. Joan Didion’s work has been squarely within our best interests for half a century. Now, her story will be shared in a documentary.

And it turns out that Kickstarter, the same platform that gave us such lowbrow projects as the infamous potato salad, can provide much more value than mayonnaise and Yukon Golds. The project reached its funding goal of $80,000 before the end of its first day and has already exceeded that amount by nearly $20,000. Its 1,500-and-counting backers will receive rewards like Didion’s recipe book, and, for the high-rollers, a pair from her famed collection of sunglasses.

Driven by Didion’s nephew, filmmaker Griffin Dunne, We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order to Live will weave together archival photographs, Didion’s words, and interviews with those who know her and whose work she’s inspired. It will cover both her writing career, which began as a staff writer at Vogue in the 1950s, and her personal life, which saw the devastating losses, in quick succession, of her husband and daughter.

Participating in the project, Didion has already allowed the team to capture nearly 60 hours of footage. She’ll also select the passages from her essays and novels to read aloud for the film. Between Didion’s involvement and the reverence Dunne has for his aunt, the film may be more a celebration than a balanced account.

But a celebration is most definitely due. And there’s at least one good reason to believe We Tell Ourselves Stories will neither sugarcoat nor edit out the unsavory bits: Didion’s already written it all down anyway. “Everything that has happened to Joan,” explains Dunne in the Kickstarter video, “Joan has written about.” Hopefully those experiences will resonate as strongly on the screen as they do on the page.

TIME viral

If Disney Characters Instagrammed, They’d Be Guilty of These Selfie Crimes

Artist Simona Bonafini created a series that will rock your childhood

The Little Mermaid always wanted to be a part of our world. And we live in a world of selfies — lots and lots of selfies.

Artist Simona Bonafini created a series titled “Selfie Fables” that imagines what your Instagram feed would look like if it were habituated by your favorite cartoon characters. And while it isn’t as disturbing as other Disney re-interpretations, Hercules and company are guilty of some selfie faux pas:

Shirtless gym selfies. We know this is going straight to Tinder:

Simona Bonafini

Bikini shots. There’s no need for #perfectbody thinspo…

Simona Bonafini

Instilling feelings of FOMO. Maybe your invite to the tea party went into your spam folder?

Simona Bonafini

Nothing is wrong with this selfie. Maleficent owns it:

Simona Bonafini
TIME movies

There Will Be a Tetris Movie, and it Will Be ‘Epic’

Game Boy Game "Tetris"
The cover of Nintendo Game Boy game, "Tetris." Boston Globe—Boston Globe via Getty Images

"What you [will] see in Tetris is the teeny tip of an iceberg that has intergalactic significance."

Are you sitting down? Please, tell me you’re sitting down. Because, the Wall Street Journal reports, Tetris will be coming to a theater near you.

No, not for a World Cup competition — the company is determined to turn the classic blockbusting game into a spectator sport — but for a movie. That’s right, there is going to be a Tetris movie. And according to Threshold Entertainment CEO Larry Kasanoff, “It’s a very big, epic sic-fi movie.”

While we don’t know what to expect, Kasanoff, who turned Mortal Kombat into a film in 1995, told the WSJ what we shouldn’t expect. “This isn’t a movie with a bunch of lines running around the page,” he said. “We’re not giving feet to the geometric shapes . . . What you [will] see in Tetris is the teeny tip of an iceberg that has intergalactic significance.”

May this please open the door for other spinoffs of Marble Madness and Pong, too. Blip. Blip. Bloop.

[WSJ]

TIME film

J.J. Abrams Mashes Up Star Wars and Batman in Episode VII Tease

The Millennium Falcon as you've never seen it before

J.J. Abrams made the internet very happy Thursday. The Star Wars director tweeted out a video that at first seems like Episode VII footage, but then becomes something even greater: A Star Wars/Batman mashup.

It’s the Millennium Falcon as you’ve never seen it before.

Abrams has been exchanging these mashups with Batman v. Superman director Zack Snyder:

Fan fiction enthusiasts, commence!

TIME movies

There’s Going to Be a Ben-Hur Remake Starring Jack Huston

Actor Jack Huston arrives for the premiere of HBO's television series "Boardwalk Empire" Season 4 in New York
Actor Jack Huston arrives for the premiere of HBO's television series "Boardwalk Empire" Season 4 in New York September 3, 2013. Carlo Allegri / Reuters

Movie is scheduled for release in February 2016

Boardwalk Empire actor Jack Huston is set to star in a Ben-Hur remake, says the Hollywood Reporter.

The details aren’t finalized yet, but the English actor will reprise the role made famous by Charlton Heston. He will star alongside Morgan Freeman, who will play Ildarin, the Reporter says.

Director Timur Bekmambetov, known for his vampire franchise Night Watch and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter will take on the challenge of remaking the 1959 classic, which won 11 Oscars, including Best Picture.

Bekmambetov will begin filming in Europe next year, and the movie is scheduled to be released on Feb. 26, 2016.

[THR]

TIME History

FDR’s Polio: The Steel in His Soul

Jeffrey Kluger is Editor at Large for TIME.

Disease can break a lot of people. As a new film by Ken Burns and an exclusive video clip show, it helped make Franklin Roosevelt

No one will ever know the name of the boy scout who changed the world. Odds are even he never knew he had so great an impact on history. It’s a certainty that he was carrying the poliovirus—but he may not have known that either since only one in every 200 infected people ever comes down with the paralytic disease. And it’s a certainty too that he had it in late July of 1921 when he and a raucous gathering of other scouts had gathered on Bear Mountain in New York for a summer jamboree. So important was the event in the scouting world that it even attracted a visit by the former Assistant Secretary of the Navy and 1920 Democratic Vice Presidential nominee, Franklin Roosevelt.

This much is painfully certain too: somehow, the virus that inhabited the boy found its way to the man, settling first in his mucus membranes, and later in his gut and lymph system, where it multiplied explosively, finally migrating to the anterior horn cells of his spinal cord. On the evening of August 10, a feverish Roosevelt climbed into bed in his summer cottage on Campobello Island in Canada’s Bay of Fundy. It was the last time he would ever stand unassisted again.

Roosevelt’s polio, which struck him down just as his political star was rising, was supposed to be the end of him. The fact that it wasn’t is a self-evident matter of history. Just why it wasn’t has been the subject of unending study by historians and other academics for generations. This year, Roosevelt and his polio are getting a fresh look—for a few reasons.

October 28 will be the 100th birthday of Jonas Salk, whose work developing the first polio vaccine was backed by the March of Dimes, which was then known as the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis and which itself grew out of the annual President’s Birthday Balls, nationwide events to raise funds for polio research, the first of which was held on FDR’s 52nd birthday, on January 30, 1934, early in his presidency. That initial birthday ball raised a then-unimaginable $1 million in a single evening, a sum so staggering Roosevelt took to the radio that night to thank the nation.

“As the representative of hundreds of thousands of crippled children,” he said, “I accept this tribute. I thank you and bid you goodnight on what to me is the happiest birthday I have ever known.”

This year too marks one more step in what is the hoped-for end game for the poliovirus, as field-workers from the World Health Organization, Rotary International, UNICEF and others work to vaccinate the disease into extinction, focusing their efforts particularly on Pakistan, one of only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic.

Then too there is the much-anticipated, 14-hr. Ken Burns film, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, which begins airing on Sept. 14. It is by no means the first Roosevelt documentary, but it is the first to gather together all three legendary Roosevelts—Franklin, Theodore and Eleanor—and explore them as historical co-equals. It’s the segments about FDR and his polio that are perhaps the most moving, however—and certainly the most surprising, saying what they do about the genteel way a presidential disability was treated by the media and by other politicians in an era so very different from our own.

“We think we’re better today because we know so much more,” Burns told TIME in a recent conversation. “But FDR couldn’t have gotten out of the Iowa caucuses because of his infirmity. CNN and Fox would have been vying for shots of him sweating and looking uncomfortable in those braces.”

That’s not a hard tableau to imagine—the competing cameras and multiple angles, shown live and streamed wide. And what Americans would have seen would not have been pretty, because never mind how jolly Roosevelt tried to appear, his life involved far, far more pain and struggle than the public ever knew, as a special feature from the film, titled “Able-Bodied,” makes clear. That segment, which is not part of the broadcast and is included only on the film’s DVD and Blu-Ray versions, which are being released almost contemporaneously with the film, was made available exclusively to TIME (top).

Concealing—or at least minimizing—the president’s paralysis was nothing short of subterfuge, the kind of popular manipulation that wouldn’t be countenanced today. But it’s worth considering what would have been lost by exposing the masquerade that allowed FDR to achieve and hold onto power. Roosevelt, as the Burns film makes clear, was a man whose ambition and native brilliance far exceeded his focus and patience. It was a restlessness that afflicted cousin Teddy too, causing him to make sometimes impulsive decisions, like pledging in 1904 that he wouldn’t run again in 1908—an act he regretted for the rest of his life and tried to undo with his failed third-party presidential bid in 1912.

“Who knows what would have happened if Teddy had had the great crises Franklin had—the Depression and World War II?” Burns says. “I do know he was unstable and always had to be in motion. It fell to FDR, who could not move, to figure out a way to outrun his demons.”

George Will, in an artful turn in the “Able-Bodied” clip, observes that when the steel went onto Roosevelt’s legs it also went into his soul. That may have been true in FDR’s case, but it’s true too that suffering is not ennobling for everyone. Some people are broken by it; some are embittered by it. As polio nears the end of its long and terrible run, the things FDR achieved despite—even partly because of—his affliction remain nothing short of remarkable.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Iceland

Watch Iceland’s Bardarbunga Volcano Spew Lava Into the Air

Bardarbunga has been erupting since Aug. 31

These beautiful images, filmed by Nature Explorer, capture the moment Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano shoots lava into the air.

Bardarbunga has been spewing out fountains of molten magma over the Holuhraun lava field since it started erupting on Aug. 31.

But the volcano is also emitting noxious gases, like sulfur dioxide, which are putting the health of scientists working at the site at risk, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Residents living in the region have reported a stench in the air.

“It smelled like old redfish,” 68-year-old Unni Johansen, told the Journal.

Children and those with respiratory problems are being advised by Iceland’s health authorities to stay indoors, as scientists have traced the volcano’s toxic gases as far afield as Norway and Finland.

[WSJ]

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