TIME movies

The Japanese Studio That Launched the Franchise Is Making a New Godzilla Movie

Godzilla Eats A Commuter Train
Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956) Toho/Embassy Pictures/Getty Images

“The time has come for Japan to make a film that will not lose to Hollywood”

Director Gareth Edwards’ 2014 Godzilla reboot was a box office rainmaker, earning $525 million worldwide. But Godzilla was born in Japan, and the Japanese studio that produced the first Godzilla movie in 1954 wants back in on the lucrative franchise. According to Variety, the studio, Toho, plans to begin filming next summer and release the film in 2016, a few years ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The most recent of Toho’s 28 Godzilla movies, out in 2004, was to be the last, largely thanks to disappointing revenues. But the overwhelming success of this year’s American version along with advances in computer graphics, says Toho producer Taichi Ueda, inspired the studio to get back in the reptilian monster game.

Looking to compete with the U.S. and develop a character that “will represent Japan and be loved around the world,” Toho is convening a committee of directors and studio executives, the Godzilla Strategic Conference, or Godzi-Con for short. There is still no word on a director or casting. But a competitive spirit will surely fuel the producers as the film takes shape — Edwards’ Godzilla 2 is slated for release in 2018.

TIME movies

‘Walter Mitty’ and the LIFE Magazine Covers That Never Were

Many of the classic LIFE magazine covers on display in 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty' were, in fact, never LIFE covers at all.

“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” James Thurber’s classic 1939 short story, is a tribute to the sometimes unsettling power of the human imagination. It’s also very, very funny and, alongside a number of other Thurber gems — “The Catbird Seat,” “The Night the Bed Fell,” “If Grant Had Been Drinking at Appomattox” — remains an indispensable example of the uniquely American, mid-20th-century humor that found its highest expression in the pages of the New Yorker.

The most recent movie adaptation of the Mitty story stars Ben Stiller in the titular role as the archetypal nebbish who retreats into an intensely vivid fantasy world in times of stress. (The first film version of Mitty, starring Danny Kaye, was released in 1947.) In this rendition of the tale, Stiller plays a photo editor at LIFE magazine — still publishing, thanks to the magic of the movies, four decades after it shuttered in 1972 — and much of the film is set in the meticulously recreated offices of the storied weekly. In those offices, meanwhile, hang poster-sized versions of LIFE magazine covers through the years.

The covers are stirring, iconic — and, for the most part, they’re fake.

Or rather, the majority of the LIFE covers one sees in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty were never covers at all. The pictures on the covers in this gallery, for example — the launch of Apollo 11; Jayne Mansfield luxuriating in a swimming pool; a theater audience watching the first-ever 3-D feature-length film — are, indisputably, classic LIFE images. But none of them ever graced the cover of LIFE magazine.

“When we were selecting photos for the LIFE covers in Walter Mitty,” says Jeff Mann, the production designer on the film, “we focused on pictures that would serve the story we were telling, but that would also capture the diversity of what LIFE covered in its prime. We worked really, really hard to select photos that were novel, naïve — in the best possible way — and that featured significant twentieth-century people, places and events.”

In the end, Mann says, he and his team — and Stiller, who is a photography aficionado — felt that the photos they chose to use as covers, from the literally millions of pictures in LIFE’s archive, had to somehow “convey the influence of LIFE magazine, while at the same time helping to move our story along. It was a fabulous problem, and one we had a lot of fun working to solve.”

Here, then, are a number of LIFE covers that never were — including several that, in light of how wonderful they look, perhaps should have been covers, after all.

[See all of LIFE’s galleries]

[Buy the book, 75 Years: The Very Best of LIFE]

TIME movies

Watch Jennifer Aniston Get Unglamorous in the Trailer for Cake

“Do you want to get better, really?”

The first thing people talk about when they talk about Jennifer Aniston’s role in Cake is her ugliness — or at least, her lack of characteristic prettiness. Playing a woman who suffers from chronic pain and an addiction to the painkillers meant to numb it, her face is scarred and shiny, her gait pained and graceless. For this reason, many are calling this Aniston’s Monster, the film for which Charlize Theron’s portrayal of a very un-made-up serial killer earned her an Oscar.

But the role is noteworthy for more than just a lack of lipstick. To prepare to play Claire, Aniston spent six weeks talking to people who suffer from chronic pain, seeking not only to understand the emotional hardship the condition presents, but also the movement of a person for whom movement brings about great pain. Aniston told an audience that she accepted the role without hesitation. “I thought the character was such a beautiful, complex, layered, tortured character,” she said. “I just tapped into something with Claire I felt instantly connected to.

Cake, which was received warmly at the Toronto International Film Festival, co-stars Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington, Adriana Barraza, Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy. It will be released for a limited, one-week pre-Oscar run in December, and for wide release in January.

TIME movies

Watch the First Peanuts Movie Trailer

Good grief!

Paul Feig, the director of Bridesmaids and producer of the highly anticipated Peanuts 3-D movie, just learned that he can “never trust a beagle.”

While 20th Century Fox initially pegged the 2015 film’s first trailer to premiere on Thanksgiving, it “leaked” 10 days early.

Rats!

TIME movies

This (Pant, Pant) Is the New 50 Shades of Grey Trailer

Safe for work!

A new two-and-a-half minute trailer for Sam Taylor-Johnson’s much-anticipated film adaptation of E.L. James’ bestseller, 50 Shades of Grey, is out.

There’s no full frontal nudity in this preview but viewers do get a peek into of the Red Room of Pain and a glimpse into the relationship between Christan (played by Jamie Dornan) and Anastasia (Dakota Johnson), the Wrap reports.

Want more? You’ll have to wait until the film’s release on Valentines Day 2015.

[The Wrap]

TIME movies

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Will Play Edward Snowden in New Movie

"White Bird In A Blizzard" - Los Angeles Premiere
Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt attends the premiere of "White Bird in a Blizzard" at ArcLight Hollywood on October 21, 2014 in Hollywood, California. Jason LaVeris—FilmMagic/Getty Images

Backers confirm the casting choice

Producers confirmed Monday that Joseph Gordon-Levitt will play Edward Snowden in the Oliver Stone movie set to start shooting in Munich in January.

The casting choice has been rumored since September, but was finally confirmed today, just two months before the film is set to begin filming, the Guardian reports.

Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone wrote the screenplay based on two books about Snowden and NSA surveillance (The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena) and reportedly sought out independent production companies Open Road and Endgame in order to protect the production from political pressures.

TIME movies

Jamie Foxx and Benicio del Toro to Star in Harmony Korine’s Gangster Movie

Jamie Foxx and Benicio Del Toro Getty Images (2)

No word on whether, like Spring Breakers, it will also include a Britney Spears singalong

Variety reports that Jamie Foxx and Benicio del Toro will co-star in an “ensemble gangster drama” written and directed by Harmony Korine. The Trap, as it is currently titled, is also billed as a revenge movie, but additional plot details have yet to surface.

In an interview with Bullett in September, Korine said he had finished writing the script and selected Miami as a filming location (“Just the way the sky looks,” he explained). “It’s going to be my most ambitious film,” he offered, “and I’m really just going to go for it. It’s some next level shit.” This says a lot, coming from the filmmaker who gave us Spring Breakers, which is already pretty next-level.

Foxx, meanwhile, will grace the silver screen later this month in Horrible Bosses 2 and in December as Daddy Warbucks reincarnate Will Stacks in the remake of Annie. For his part, Del Toro plays attorney Sauncho Smilax in Paul Thomas Anderson’s highly anticipated adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice, also premiering in December.

Korine plans to begin filming The Trap in early 2015.

TIME movies

5 Election Comedies to Get You Ready for the Polls

Because it's our civic duty to laugh

If Election Day were a comedy, this is how it would play out: One candidate would be unequivocally good, the other ruthlessly evil. Political operatives would control the play-by-play from a corner office far from the action. An unexpected candidate would emerge from nowhere in the eleventh hour, throwing the race into a tizzy. The deserving candidate would lose by a tight margin, but when the evil candidate’s fraud is revealed, the rightful victor would take the throne. Bad guys out, good guys in.

But Election Day is not a comedy, and good and evil aren’t two poles separated by an impossible distance. Good isn’t always as good as it purports to be. Good, alas, often loses. It’s refreshing, though, to visit a world as simple as the one these movies imagine. Perhaps you’re a jaded would-be voter in need of convincing that some good might come from pulling that ancient lever, or maybe you long to escape the disappointment of your candidate’s certain defeat, and find yourself instead enveloped in the warmth of Chris Farley’s glow.

Either way, here are five election comedies to motivate you, console you, and get you ready for the polls on Election Day.

Black Sheep (1996)

Black Sheep belongs to a class of movies that strikes you as pure comedic genius when you’re 12 and senseless drivel once your tastes have matured. But if you can tap into whatever lingering appreciation you have for scatological humor, it’s worth watching if only to spend 87 minutes with Chris Farley. Largely a vehicle for Farley’s brutishly brilliant physical comedy, Black Sheep has many of the elements of a typical election flick. Revolving around Farley’s Mike Donnelly, hapless kid brother to Washington gubernatorial candidate Al Donnelly, the movie pits familial love against political ambitions. Mike’s efforts to help the campaign unfailingly result in public embarrassment, threatening Al’s chances of success.

Like many in the genre, the movie focuses more on the campaign than the election itself. Donnelly is pure goodness, his dedication to his brother matched only by his concern for his would-be constituents. Incumbent Governor Evelyn Tracy is pure evil, sporting a win-at-all-costs mentality that counts fraud and slander among its tactics. It’s an absurd comedy of errors in which the younger Donnelly can’t seem to catch a break, but nestled between the pratfalls and the gags is one ingredient that often runs in short supply at the polls: just a little bit of heart.

Wag the Dog (1997)

The media is as crucial to the outcome of an election as its candidates’ campaigns, and Wag the Dog shows just how powerful the news can be — even when it’s fake. Like many good election movies, and a fair share of actual elections, this one revolves around a sex scandal. The sitting president is accused, less than two weeks before the election, of sexually assaulting a young girl. To distract from the scandal and inspire patriotism among voters, the White House hires spin-doctor Conrad Brean (Robert de Niro), who enlists Hollywood producer Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman) to stage a fake war with Albania.

Wag the Dog is intelligent satire in contrast to Black Sheep’s inane Looney Toon-esque shenanigans. Released one month before the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the movie had Roger Ebert perceptively noting, “It is getting harder and harder for satire to stay ahead of reality.” Rather than dishing up an inspiring good-guys-win narrative, it reminds the audience — American voters — how gullible we can be in the face of an effective media campaign. “Why does a dog wag its tail?” the opening credits ask. “Because a dog is smarter than its tail. If the tail were smarter, the tail would wag the dog.” In Wag the Dog, we are the brainless tail, ever at the whim of the scheming dog.

Election (1999)

“Winning isn’t everything,” says Tracy Flick. “Win or lose, ethical conduct is the most important thing.” Reese Witherspoon’s Flick is desperate for political glory in this portrayal of a viciously contested race for student council president. For a story about student government, it has all the trappings of a full-grown adult election: sex scandals and personal vendettas, witch hunts and sabotage. Blaming Tracy for her part in an affair that got his best friend fired, popular teacher Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) will do anything to take her down. His meddling leads to a contest that stands in stark contrast to the ideals he espouses in his social studies class.

Rotating between narrators, director Alexander Payne explores Tracy’s statement: Is ethical conduct more important than victory? And does it guarantee victory, or all but rule it out? Witherspoon delivers one of her most memorable roles as the type-A Flick, who sees victory as her destiny, and destiny as inescapable.

Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

Napoleon Dynamite may be a geek movie before it is an election movie, but the election between Pedro Sánchez (Efren Ramirez) and Summer Wheatley (Haylie Duff) plays a central role in the nerdy protagonists’ victory over their high school’s popular posse. Pedro is a transfer student whom Napoleon befriends and supports in his campaign for school president. He has the charisma of a sloth in a coma, always donning a blank stare above his bolo tie. His opponent, Summer, is equally uninspiring, banking on her social status to deliver her to victory.

Pedro’s election speech leaves much to be desired. When he promises the students, “If you vote for me, all of your wildest dreams will come true,” his tone is like that of a doctor delivering bad news. But a vote for Pedro is less a vote for change than it is a symbol of the underdog getting his due, a nerd with no ideas defeating a cheerleader with no ideas. Many a voter will sigh, waiting in line to cast her ballot, that she’s choosing the lesser of two evils, the better option between two mediocre choices. Napoleon Dynamite asks us to make this choice — and to compensate for its candidates’ lack of imagination, it gave us the dance scene of the decade.

The Campaign (2012)

The Campaign opens with a quote from Ross Perot, a presidential candidate perhaps best remembered for the size of his ears. “War has rules. Mud wrestling has rules. Politics has no rules.” And so the tone is set for opponents Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) and Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), an incumbent and an underdog vying for one seat in Congress. The Campaign offers a parody of modern elections that rings true for all its hyperbole. Gains in the polls are driven by strong hair and the frequency with which a candidate invokes America, Jesus and Freedom. Pandering is the rule, as Brady tells every group he meets — troops, farmers, audio installation specialists, and Filipino tilt-a-whirl operators — that they are the backbone of America.

In its best moments — when it’s not resorting to fat jokes and bathroom humor — The Campaign is funny because it’s so familiar. Big money decides who runs and what they stand for. Campaign managers shape candidates’ images, from their wives’ hairstyles to the eagle-inspired artwork adorning their living rooms. And a significant focus on attack ads, amplifying a particle of dirt into a full-blown dust storm, distracts from the time candidates spend discussing what they actually stand for. It would be farfetched to call The Campaign a cinematic feat. But it does make us consider the just-discernable line between reality and farce.

TIME movies

Pee-wee Herman is Coming Back to the Big Screen

After a more than two decade hiatus

It’s official: Pee-wee Herman is coming back to theaters.

After years of speculation, comedian Paul Reubens confirmed Wednesday on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon that another Pee-wee Herman movie is in development. Judd Apatow will produce and a director has been hired, though Reubens did not say who that is.

The return of the much-loved man-child character comes more than 20 years after the release of Big Top Pee-wee in 1988, a sequel to the children’s classic Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. Reubens briefly retreated from public view after he was arrested in an indecent-exposure scandal in 1991, but speculation about a new Pee-wee film has been rampant for years.

Reubens said production of the film will begin in February.

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