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Tom Hanks gives an Oscar-worthy performance in 'Sully'


Sully Warner Bros

The "Miracle on the Hudson," in which airline captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger landed his plane on New York City's Hudson River after it was struck by birds, was one of those moments that was ripe to be made into a movie.

Seven years after the US Airways plane landed into the icy river in January 2009, that movie is here. Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks as Sullenberger, it is a moving account that shows the event in dramatic detail and explores the frustrating investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board that Sullenberger had to endure following the landing.

Eastwood's directing talent has always been minimizing the stylistic bells and whistles that directors like to use as calling cards in their films and just telling a good story. He's an anti-auteur in an era when every director (both established and up-and-coming) feels he or she has to be flashy.

Though "Sully" is thrilling on an IMAX screen, Eastwood doesn't try to show off the technology with an overindulgence of CGI. He turns to the script by Todd Komarnicki, which is based on Sullenberger's book "Highest Duty," and the talents of Hanks.

Hanks proves once more that he's the Jimmy Stewart of our generation. It's hard to think of anyone else working today other than Hanks who could bring to the screen the professionalism, humility, and class that a veteran pilot who has built a career cheating death like Sullenberger exudes.

But as most of the movie explores, Sullenberger was crippled in the hours and days following the landing with second-guessing.

Sully 3 Warner BrosIt mainly comes from the NTSB investigators who question his actions, as computer simulations show that he could have gotten the plane back to LaGuardia Airport (later in the movie that theory is debunked).

This leads to Sullenberger having flashbacks to the landing and two horrific moments when he imagines the plane crashing into a Manhattan high-rise. It will be a cringe-inducing moment for those who still get flashbacks to the attacks on New York City on 9/11.

But the movie doesn't primarily find its emotion from sadness. Instead, it's uplifting and inspiring as Hanks, Aaron Eckhart (as Sullenberger's copilot), and the rest of the cast playing the flight crew are portrayed as the heroes they are. 

At a brisk 95 minutes, there's a lot packed into the movie with few dull moments (if any). Hanks is the film's glue, and should be considered for the award season. But Eastwood's storytelling with little use of music is a testament to how powerful the drama in the movie is on its own.

With over 30 feature-film directing credits, Eastwood hasn't always made the right choices, but "Sully" and his previous directing effort, "American Sniper," show that the 86-year-old is in a good directing groove at the moment.  

"Sully" opens in theaters on Friday.

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Shia LaBeouf was almost in 'Suicide Squad,' but the studio rejected him


shia squad

Shia LaBeouf sat down with Variety for a revealing new profile that explores the 30-year-old actor's bizarre behavior over the past few years and the comeback he's having with an Oscar-worthy performance in the upcoming movie "American Honey.

Though he says in the story that he's no longer on the wish list for the big Hollywood titles like he was as a kid starring in "Transformers," he did admit that he was almost in "Suicide Squad."

LaBeouf had worked with "Squad" director David Ayer on his previous movie, "Fury." The actor told Variety that Ayer asked him to play the role of Lieutenant GQ Edwards, which eventually went to Scott Eastwood.

But the studio apparently vetoed the casting.

“I don’t think Warner Bros. wanted me. I went in to meet, and they were like, ‘Nah, you’re crazy. You’re a good actor, but not this one.’ It was a big investment for them.”

LaBeouf also said that when he was vying for the role, the parts of Edwards and Rick Flag (at one time to be played by Tom Hardy and later played by Joel Kinnaman) were more substantial.

“Then Will [Smith] came in, and the script changed a bit," LaBeouf said. "That character and Tom [Hardy’s] character got written down to build Will up.”  

LaBeouf is currently having something of a return to form after a period of heavy drinking that led to strange behavior that ranged from him causing a drunken disturbance at a Broadway performance of "Cabaret" to plagiarizing the work of cartoonist Daniel Clowes for a short film he directed in 2013. LaBeouf says he hasn't had a drink in a year.

Read the entire profile here.

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Shia LaBeouf disses Steven Spielberg: 'I don't like the movies I made with him'


Shia LaBeouf Andreas Rentz Getty final

Shia LaBeouf sat down for a rare profile with Variety and the actor revealed that his time working on the Steven Spielberg-produced movies that turned him into a star were not that fulfilling for him.

“I grew up with this idea, if you got to Spielberg, that’s where it is,” LaBeouf said. “You get there, and you realize you’re not meeting the Spielberg you dream of.”

The actor was the new face of the Spielberg brand in the early 200s with "Disturbia," two "Transformers" movies, and "Eagle Eye" (all produced by Spielberg).

“Spielberg’s sets are very different,” he told Variety. “Everything has been so meticulously planned. You got to get this line out in 37 seconds. You do that for five years, you start to feel like not knowing what you’re doing for a living.” 

He added that Spielberg these days to his mind is "less a director than he is a f--king company."

LaBeouf also starred in the Spielberg-directed "Indian Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," which has since been regarded as a failure by fans of the franchise, and LaBeouf, too.

"I prepped for a year and a half," LaBeouf said of "Crystal Skull.""And then the movie comes out, and it’s your fault. That s--t hurt bad."

This isn't the first time LaBeouf has expressed his displeasure for the movies he made with Spielberg. When he did his #AllMyMovies art project, in which he watched all of his movies in reverse chronological order, he stood up from his chair and slept in the back of the theater when "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" played.

“I don’t like the movies that I made with Spielberg,” he said. “The only movie that I liked that we made together was ‘Transformers’ one.”

Yet LaBeouf did say he'd be willing to reunite with "Transformers" director Michael Bay on another movie. 

“Mike is an artist,” LaBeouf said. “People don’t realize how dope that dude is. He’s got to get a little ballsier with his moves — he’s trying to toe the line and be James Cameron, but James Camerons are dying. I don’t know what he’s chasing, but that version of director is dead. If Mike is to sustain, he’s got to get f---ing weird.”

Read the entire profile here.

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Why Pepper Potts isn't in 'Captain America: Civil War'


Warning: There are spoilers ahead for "Captain America: Civil War."

"Captain America: Civil War" juggled over a dozen superheroes on screen and introduced plenty of newcharacters. However, one of the most noticeable absences of the movie is that of Tony Stark's former flame, Pepper Potts. 

pepper potts iron man 3

While delivering a speech at MIT, the audience learns that Stark and Potts apparently went through an off-screen breakup. It was a bit of a bummer for those hoping to see Gwyneth Paltrow on screen again with Robert Downey Jr. Fans hadn't seen the character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2013's "Iron Man 3" when Tony promised Pepper he would no longer dabble in the robot-making game. (That promise didn't go over so well.)

pepper potts iron man 3

The "Civil War" crew explain on the "Captain America: Civil War" commentary there's a logical reason Ms. Potts doesn't physically appear in the film (and no, it's not just that Paltrow had a three-film contract with Marvel).

Her presence would have never enabled Stark to take the direction they needed in "Civil War."

"This is the beginning of a more mature, darker Tony Stark," explained screenwriter Stephen McFeely.

Co-director Joe Russo went into detail explaining how they needed a catalyst to help drive Tony to want to go after the Winter Soldier in a menacing manner without anyone to bring him back from the edge.

Remember, near the end of "Captain America: Civil War" Stark learns that Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier is responsible for the death of his parents.

bucky barnes captain america civil war

It's also news to Tony that Steve Rodgers/Captain America knew and decided to withhold that detail. He doesn't take that news so well.

captain america civil war iron man

"The intent in this movie, because we knew where we were going with the character, [was] that we had to motivate Tony to want to kill Bucky Barnes in the third act in order for the third act to work correctly, that Tony would have to be off-balance," explains Russo.

"The way that we thought we could make him off-balance was by pulling things out of his life, making him emotionally vulnerable. Really emotionally vulnerable," he continues. "So, Pepper is out of his life. It clearly is an issue for him, as you can see, by Robert's performance here."

robert downey jr iron man

Immediately after we learn something is amiss with Pepper and Tony, Stark is confronted by the mother of a boy who died because of the damage that took place at the end of "Avengers: Age of Ultron." Since Tony was responsible for the creation of Ultron, Russo adds that he feels a lot of guilt.  

"He's being attacked emotionally on a lot of different fronts. And it puts the character in a precarious position," says Russo. "So, as the movie progresses, if there is a touchstone or something cathartic were to happen to him, it could potentially push him over the edge, which is what happens at the end of the film."

bucky iron man captain america civil war

If Pepper Potts was still in Stark's world, she would bring him back down to Earth and talk some sense into him, preventing him from going after the Winter Soldier.

"Civil War" screenwriter Christopher Markus also points out that for Stark, his story arc has really come full circle from the first movie.

"His most recognizable action in the first movie is to stop making weapons because, 'The things I make are hurting people,'" Markus explains. "And he gets all the way to this movie and realizes, 'The things I make are still hurting people.'"

What a realization.

"Captain America: Civil War" is currently available on HD digital and will be released on Blu-ray and DVD September 13.

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James Cameron reveals a key plot detail for the upcoming 'Avatar' sequels


Avatar mother

Director James Cameron has shed some light on the central plot of his upcoming four sequels to "Avatar," his 2009 blockbuster that grossed over 2.7 billion at the box office worldwide.

In an interview with Variety, Cameron explained that the four films will revolve around a "family saga" between the "Avatar" protagonists.

"The storyline in the sequels really follows Jake and Neytiri and their children," Cameron said. "It's more of a family saga about the struggle with the humans."

The current release schedule for the sequels is as follows: "Avatar 2" (Christmas 2018), "Avatar 3" (Christmas 2020), "Avatar 4" (Christmas 2022), and "Avatar 5" (Christmas 2023).

As Vulture points out, however, Cameron has repeatedly pushed back the first sequel, so the current schedule is tenative to say the least. 

Cameron explained to Variety that he is prepared to push back the films again, in order to ensure the "cadence" of their releases.

"We haven't moved that target yet, but we will if we need to. The important thing for me is not when the first one comes out but the cadence of the release pattern," Cameron said. "If it's an annual appointment to show up at Christmas, I want to make sure that we're able to fulfill on that promise."

SEE ALSO: I finally watched 'Avatar' for the first time, and it has one glaring problem

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Netflix's new true-crime doc looks like it's going to blow up the Amanda Knox murder case


amanda knox

Netflix has released two trailers for "Amanda Knox," its latest true-crime documentary. This one is about the murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher in Italy in 2007, which eventually blew up in the media.

The case became very tangled. Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were arrested for the crime, convicted of it in 2009, "declared innocent in 2011, re-convicted in 2013 — but declared innocent once and for all by Italy’s highest criminal court" in March 2015, as The Washington Post reported

In line with its massive hit "Making a Murderer," Netflix promises to explore "the other side" of the epic eight-year crime saga, and its two opposing trailers alternately paint Knox as someone to either "believe" or "suspect."

"Suddenly I found myself tossed into this dark place," Knox says, teary-eyed, as she faces the camera in the "Believe Her" trailer. 

"Either I'm a psychopath in sheep's clothing, or I am you," Knox says in the trailer that asks you to "Suspect Her."

"Amanda Knox," which premieres tomorrow at the Toronto International Film Festival, will be available on Netflix on September 30. 

SEE ALSO: Italy's top court acquits Amanda Knox of murder

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A bald, overweight Matthew McConaughey has an amazing performance in the 'Gold' trailer


mcconaughey gold

Matthew McConaughey gained 40 pounds and a receding hairline for his upcoming film "Gold," and from the looks of the movie's first trailer, the transformation has made for an incredible performance.

The TWC-Dimension film stars McConaughey, Bryce Dallas Howard ("Jurassic World"), and Edgar Ramirez ("Point Break"). It's the first directorial effort from Stephen Gaghan since the release of his Oscar-winning film "Syriana" in 2005. (In case you forgot, George Clooney won the Oscar for best supporting actor in that film, for which he also put on some weight.)

Based on the true story of the Bre-X mining scandal, "Gold" finds McConaughey playing a businessman who makes the largest gold find in history in the tiger-filled jungles of Borneo. 

Here is the film's official synopsis:

"GOLD is the epic tale of one man’s pursuit of the American dream, to discover gold.  Starring Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey as Kenny Wells, a prospector desperate for a lucky break, he teams up with a similarly eager geologist and sets off on an amazing journey to find gold in the uncharted jungle of Indonesia.   Getting the gold was hard, but keeping it would be even harder, sparking an adventure through the most powerful boardrooms of Wall Street."

The film is set to premiere on December 25. 

Watch the trailer below:

SEE ALSO: Matthew McConaughey gained 40 pounds and a receding hairline for his new movie

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'The Magnificent Seven' is an ultra-violent thrill ride with the best stars money can buy


magnificent seven 2 sony

The new reboot of the 1960 classic Western “The Magnificent Seven,” out September 23, is nowhere close to the original — and that’s not a knock.

The film — directed by Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day,” “Southpaw”) and starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, and Peter Sarsgaard — is very much a reimagining, with the premise still intact: A group of gunfighters is hired to defeat a tyrant. But that’s about all that's kept. Even the iconic Elmer Bernstein score from the original only gets a cameo in the end credits.

magnificent seven 3 sonyFuqua’s take on this classic is blood-soaked and thrilling, but also filled with dark humor. And at times Washington and Hawke bring out some deeper dramatic moments.

In the original, the seven gunslingers are hired by poor Mexican farmers to help them ward off a group of bandits. This time around, it’s the town of Rose Krick that’s in trouble, as it’s being taken over by an industrialist named Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) who has overpowered the town by buying off the sheriff and killing any man who gets in his way.

After seeing her husband killed by Bogue, Emma (Haley Bennett) takes it upon herself to seek out men who can overthrow Bogue.

Washington, paying homage to Yul Brynner’s all-black wardrobe in the original, plays bounty hunter Sam Chisolm, who agrees to help Emma and begins enlisting the likes of an assassin (Byung-hun Lee), a sharpshooter (Hawke), a Comanche warrior (Martin Sensmeier), a tracker (Vincent D’Onofrio), and a Mexican outlaw (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo).

Along for the ride is the often intoxicated gambler Josh Farraday, embodied with the usual playfully sarcastic tone of Pratt. He brings needed comic relief with some great one-liners, and gets some millage out of quick jokes that Steve McQueen says in the original.

the magnificent seven 2016 haley bennett sonyThe body count in this movie is more on the level of “The Wild Bunch” than the original "Magnificent Seven," but the motivations for the men taking the job are deeper-rooted and more personal, a testament to screenwriters Richard Wenk and “True Detective” creator Nic Pizzolatto.

The creatives behind the movie should also be applauded for the Emma character. In an era when Hollywood is finally expected to give female characters their due, Bennett shows Emma as a tough, independent woman who isn’t scared to grab a gun and get in the mix. A far cry from most women seen in the Western genre.

“The Magnificent Seven” certainly has its flaws, and head-scratching choices (like the high-pitched voice D’Onofrio decided to go with for his character). But if you go into the movie with the expectations of seeing an entertaining action Western, not the original (nor certainly what inspired both, “Seven Samurai”), you should be pleased.

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A bizarre 'Grease' fan theory has resurfaced online — and it's causing mayhem


grease 3

Three years ago, a 'Grease' fan took to the Internet to posit a bizarre theory: What if Sandy Olssonthe goody two-shoes turned leather-clad vixen played by Olivia Newton John — was actually dead for the entire duration of the movie?

The theory, originally shared by Redditor atomicbolt in 2013, has recently resurfaced on social media, the Daily Mail reports, causing a ruckus among dedicated fans of the 1978 movie musical. 

The theory stems from one of Danny's lyrics in the song "Summer Nights." As he describes his summer with Sandy, he sings, "saved her life / she nearly drowned."

Atomicbolt suggests that maybe Sandy actually did drown. 

"As she drowned, her brain deprived of oxygen, she had a vivid coma fantasy involved her summer fling with Danny, where they shared a magical year of high school together," the Redditor wrote. "The entire movie was a drowning woman's coma fantasy."

The theory also offers an explanation for the movie's strange ending, when Danny and Sandy quite literally fly into the sky (perhaps to heaven?) in a red convertible.

The controversial theory's resurgence was further fueled when actress Sarah Michelle Gellar posted about it on her official Facebook page on Wednesday:

Upon discovering the theory, many fans were in shock.

"WHAT?! Never ever crossed my mind," wrote one commenter on Gellar's post. "Now I will never be able to watch Grease the same way ever again!"

"I don't think my day or my life will be the same after this," said another. 

Others didn't take kindly to this new interpretation of a classic.

"Why do people have to come up with this stuff?" one Facebook commenter lamented. "Why can't a movie just be a movie without someone wearing a hat made of tin foil while hiding in their parent's basement, making up this crap?"

The theory is definitely out there — but maybe it's not the most unbelievable thing about 'Grease.' Would Sandy really change everything about herself, buy expensive-looking leather pants, and start smoking cigarettes just to win over a high school crush? Please.

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The 16 best Tom Hanks performances ever, ranked


Sully Warner Bros final

For over three decades, Tom Hanks has been almost every type of character.

Starting his career as a funnyman on the TV series "Bosom Buddies" and then taking his nice-guy style to the big screen in romantic comedies like "Splash" and "The Money Pit," Hanks moved to more dramatic work in 1993 with his Oscar-winning role as an AIDS patient in "Philadelphia."

Since then, Hanks has gone back and forth, showing his diverse talents but often playing characters who, deep down, are upstanding men.

In Hanks' latest role, playing "Miracle on the Hudson" pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger in the Clint Eastwood-directed "Sully" (out Friday), he again shows he's the Jimmy Stewart of our era.

Here are Hanks' 16 best performances ever, ranked:

SEE ALSO: The 12 best Matthew McConaughey performances ever, ranked

16. Rick Gassko in “Bachelor Party” (1984)

In one of his first movie roles, Hanks is great as a soon-to-be-married guy who tries to stay out of trouble after his friends throw a wild bachelor party for him.

15. Walter Fielding Jr. in “The Money Pit” (1986)

Another classic from Hanks' romantic-comedy days, in which he plays opposite Shelley Long as a couple who struggle to repair a broken-down house they've bought. Hanks' physical comedy is at its best here.

14. James B. Donovan in “Bridge of Spies” (2015)

For most actors, a role like this in a Steven Spielberg movie is a highlight in their filmography. For Hanks, it's a strong performance but hard to compare to the others higher on this list.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Federal investigators are protesting being shown as bad guys in Clint Eastwood's 'Sully'



The federal investigators depicted in Clint Eastwood's new film "Sully"— about the real-life investigation of Chelsey Sullenberger, the pilot who made an emergency landing of a U.S. Airways flight in the Hudson River in 2009 — are protesting it. They claim the film is inaccurate and damaging to their reputations, The New York Times reports.

The National Transportation Safety Board, the federal agency that conducted the investigation, has said that the film's portrayal differs "in both tone and substance" from its public records of the events, according to the Times.

Despite having not seen the film, Robert Benzon, the man who led the investigation, claims that what he has heard about the movie's heated interrogations (and seen in the trailer) are not true to the actual events. 

"We weren't out to hose the crew," Benzon said. "There were no rubber hoses being brought out, no bright lights ... Sully is worried about his reputation, but this movie isn't helping mine."

"We're not the KGB. We're not the Gestapo,” Benzon also told the New York Post about the film's depiction on Thursday. "We're the guys with the white hats on."

Nonetheless, Chelsey Sullenberger himself told The New York Times in an email that the scenes in question — in which he is played by Tom Hanks — do accurately reflect how he felt during the investigation.

"For those who are the focus of the investigation, the intensity of it is immense," Sullenberger said of the process, which he found "inherently adversarial, with professional reputations absolutely in the balance."

"Sully," which opens in theaters Friday, has received positive reviews in advance of its nationwide premiere.

Watch the film's trailer below:

SEE ALSO: Tom Hanks gives an Oscar-worthy performance in 'Sully'

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Here's your first look at the Justin Timberlake concert film that Netflix just purchased


Justin Timberlake and The Tennessee Kids Official Trailer Netlfix

Netflix has bought the global rights to concert film "Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids," which is directed by Oscar-winning "Silence of the Lambs" director Jonathan Demme.

It's set to debut on the streaming video service on October 12.

Netflix made the announcement to press on Friday, just ahead of the film's world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Tuesday. In addition, it released a teaser clip for the film.

Demme — who also directed the 2006 concert film "Neil Young: Heart of Gold"— documents the final stop on Timberlake's two-year, 134-show "20/20 Experience World Tour" at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in 2015. Timberlake was joined on-stage by the 25 members of the band, The Tennessee Kids, a group of musicians, singers, and aspiring artists who regularly tour with Timberlake.

Grossing $231.6 million, the tour is Timberlake's most successful to date.

Watch the teaser trailer below:


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How the sudden, tragic death of a famous composer inspired the music in the new 'Magnificent Seven'


the magnificent seven Sony

Simon Franglen's work on the reboot of "The Magnificent Seven" was supposed to be similar to the numerous jobs he'd worked on with Oscar-winning composer James Horner.

Horner — the 38-year veteran responsible for the original scores of "Titanic" (for which he won an Oscar), "Aliens, "Field of Dreams,""Braveheart,""Apollo 13,""Avatar," and countless others — would create the original sound and Franglen would be his second-in-command, responsible for overseeing production.

The two had been teaming up together since "Titanic" in 1997, and for over a decade Franglen had become an integral part of how Horner works.

"We were a great team," Franglen recently told Business Insider. "It became evident that we loved working together."

Simon Franglen headshot website 1But that all suddenly ended on June 22, 2015, when Horner, while flying a single-turboprop plane by himself, was killed when the plane crashed in the Los Padres National Forest in Southern California. He was 61 years old.

"I have this text from him the night before he died and I had spoken to him earlier and he was in a great place," Franglen said. "Then the next morning there was this stream of texts and the phone calls started coming in — I would trade anything not to have this discussion."

At the time of Horner's death, he and Franglen had a full plate of projects.

Horner had signed on to do the scores for the Matt Damon thriller "The Great Wall" and the Mel Gibson-directed "Hacksaw Ridge," as well as for "Avatar" parts two, three, and four.

Then there was the project that needed their immediate attention, a remake of the 1960 classic Western "The Magnificent Seven" with Antoine Faqua directing and starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt.

Not only did Horner and Franglen have to fit the movie into a tight schedule, but they also had to go up against history. The original movie has what some might call an irreplaceable score written by Elmer Bernstein, a legend in his own right.

"Like anyone else in this business, I have Elmer in my DNA, and [James and I] talked at length about how could we reference it, how do we make sure that the audience knows we understand the heritage of the Bernstein score," Franglen said.

He and Horner thought they had cracked the code when Horner died.

When news hit of Horner's passing producers for projects like "The Great Wall" and "Hacksaw Ridge" began a search for new composers, but Franglen didn't want to let go of "The Magnificent Seven."

Franglen flew to Los Angeles and gathered Horner's team of music editors and lead orchestra conductors to create Horner's final score.

"I said to them, 'I don't want these things to just disappear, I want to at least play them for Antoine,'" Franglen said.

Franglen and company hired an orchestra and recorded Horner's ideas for the "Magnificent Seven" score. Franglen then flew to the set of the movie in Louisiana to play the music personally to Faqua.

James Horner Gareth Cattermole Getty"I said, 'Look, I have a gift from James, this is how I think he would like the score to have sounded and I just wanted to give it to you,'" Franglen said. "And it was emotional for us all. He sat down and played it and he listened and at the end he said, 'Let's do this. I want you guys to finish this score.'"

Franglen led the completion of the score, which took nine months and included the creation of some new pieces outside of Horner's work to have enough music for the entire movie.

The finished product is very distant from the Bernstein music in the original (which plays over the end credits in the new movie). Though at times it has the big orchestra sound like the original, there's a darker tone that mirrors Faqua's film.

And though everyone knew this would be the final score of a legendary composer, Franglen didn't want it to sound that way.

"The last thing we wanted to do was make this a mausoleum," he said. "It was meant to be a film score for a very specific film. Antoine needed music that reflected his film and that's the first job of a film composer, to serve the film and be the emotional heart. James would have been adamant that the score has to serve the film."

Franglen has recently completed the score for Terrence Malick's documentary "Voyage of Time: Life's Journey," and he hopes to continue in the footsteps of his mentor. Looking back, the experience he got from working alongside Horner for years is priceless. But the great loss remains: He is no longer alongside his friend.

"He was one of my closest friends," Franglen said. "It was a point where if he called the house and my son picked up the phone they would just chat away. We considered him part of the family. It was a horrendous loss."

"The Magnificent Seven" has its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday and opens in theaters September 23.

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5 movies you need to watch this September


Magnificent Seven

September is a special month for movies. The summer season is over leaving little room for blockbusters — or at least films the studios thought could be blockbusters — and awards season proper is still weeks away and with it the promise of high-quality films designed to challenge and nourish our minds and souls.

That’s not to say it’s a dead zone akin to January or February, but there’s a reason I‘m including a documentary and a limited release title among the five must-see titles to see in theaters this month.

Keep reading to see the five films I think are worth a trip to the theater for this month.


Release Date: September 9th

Director: Kirsten Johnson

Why is it a must-see? I don’t often put documentaries on these lists because — and please don’t tell Christopher Campbell this — it’s rare that they demand viewing in a theater as opposed to on VOD at home. While I haven’t seen it yet, Johnson’s highly acclaimed film feels to me like an exception. As a cinematographer on multiple docs including Citizenfour, A Place at the Table, and The Invisible War she’s been behind the camera through numerous and varied stories around the world, and now she’s telling her own through images captured on those journeys. The result promises to be a story told through pictures more so than words, and that’s a reason to watch on the biggest screen available.

"Blair Witch"

Director: Adam Wingard

Writer: Simon Barrett

Cast: No one you know… yet… maybe

Why is it a must-see? I’m at something of a crossroads on this one for various reasons. Cons? Found footage conceits need to die in a fire, we’ve seen this story dozens of times (officially and unofficially), and did I mention found footage films are garbage nine times out of ten. Pros? Wingard and Barrett (You’re Next, The Guest) are reliably entertaining filmmakers, and advance word has been strong (hyperbolic, but strong). Ultimately my love of horror and a desire to see great, scary horror has me hopeful that these guys have pulled it off and delivered something memorable. If they have, the theater is a great place to experience it alongside hundreds of equally terrified strangers.

"The Age of Shadows"

Release Date: September 23rd

Director/writer: Kim Jee-woon

Cast: Song Kang-ho, Gong Yoo, Han Ji-min

Why is it a must-see? This will probably be a NYC/LA theatrical opening, but if you live close enough it might be worth the visit. Kim’s resume includes films like The Good the Bad the Weird and I Saw the Devil, and his eye for style and action seems a smart fit for a historical thriller focused on Korea’s struggle to escape Japan’s cruel and deadly occupation in the early 20th century.

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Oscar favorite 'Arrival' is one of the best movies of the year — and a big surprise


arrival amy adams

From the trailer for "Arrival," which just showed at the Toronto International Film Festival, you'd assume it's a CGI-heavy sci-fi movie about aliens coming to earth to make contact. If they come in peace or to destroy us is the question that's left open.

But that's just the hook to get you in the theater. The truth is "Arrival," directed by Denis Villeneuve ("Sicario,""Prisoners") and starring Amy Adams, is a moving story that is more about humanity than whether beings from the sky come in peace.

Based on a short story by sci-fi author Ted Chiang titled "Story of Your Life,""Arrival" follows linguist Dr. Louise Banks (Adams), whom the military calls on to help start a dialogue once the aliens have landed.

The world goes crazy when 12 large pod-shaped ships suddenly show up in different areas of the world. There's one placed in the US, in an open field in Montana. Dr. Banks and scientist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) are the brains behind the US operation to figure out what the aliens want.

They communicate with all other countries investigating pods. But the head of the military arm of the operation, Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker), is getting pressure from the White House to get answers. And the stakes grow higher when China decides to disband from the process and attack the pod that's within its borders.

It's all thrilling, and the science is not heavy-handed and very easy to understand, but it's all a MacGuffin, a device Alfred Hitchcock loved to use. It's a detail in a story that is important for the characters but turns out to be less important for the audience's needs.

The real story (and warning: spoilers here) is the relationship that Dr. Banks builds with the aliens inside the pod, playfully named Abbot and Costello, the legendary comedy duo. Through her continued conversations with the duo in trying to understand their language, she begins to uncover what they want, but by delving into her own memories.

There are certainly thrills, helped by a dramatic score and use of pauses for tension, but the movie really runs off of the captivating emotions of Dr. Banks, delivered perfectly (as usual) by Amy Adams — who will definitely receive an Oscar nomination for this performance.

Another way of capturing that emotion is the beautiful cinematography by Bradford Young, who gives the movie a very Terrence Malick-like quality with sweeping views of nature and closeups of intimate interaction.

All elements come together under the direction of director Villeneuve, who has taken one step closer to becoming a top auteur working in Hollywood.

"Arrival" will certainly be an Oscar contender in numerous categories, but outside of awards, it's a film that should be celebrated for its masterful storytelling. 

"Arrival" is currently screening at the Toronto International Film Festival and will hit theaters on November 11.

SEE ALSO: The 10 most influential sci-fi movies of all time

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The villain of the next 'Avengers' looks far less menacing when you see him on set


robert downey jr josh brolin

Filming will be underway for the next "Avengers" movie soon and the directors of the movie are already sharing a look behind the scenes.

Anthony and Joe Russo shared a rehearsal photo with Josh Brolin who will be starring as the Avengers main foe, Thanos. Known as the Mad Titan, he’s the one going after all of the power stones spread across the Marvel movies. We first saw him teased in 2012’s "Avengers" and finally got a good look at him in "Guardians of the Galaxy."

If you don’t remember, here’s how he looks:

thanos guardians of the galaxy

But off-screen, when he’s in rehearsal with the Russos, the villain looks a little less threatening:

Yup. That's Brolin in a purple motion-capture suit. It's pretty much what it sounds like. The suit is used to capture all of the actor's motion while acting when transforming him into the Mad Titan on screen with visual effects.

Here's a closer look:

russo brolin avengers 4

So when Thanos is raining down all sorts of terror on the Avengers in 2018, remember what he actually looks like. 

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Here are 13 American presidents' favorite movies of all time


james bond

It seems a lot of presidents will "always have Paris."

The 1944 Oscar winner "Casablanca" tops a few different modern US presidents' lists of favorite movies. 

Other heads of state went for Westerns. One was crazy for James Bond. And another only really liked to watch himself.

From FDR to President Obama, here are US presidents' — and the 2016 presidential nominees' — favorite films:

SEE ALSO: Here are the surprising first movie roles of 27 A-list actors

DON'T MISS: Donald Trump's surprising list of favorite movies, TV shows, and music

Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Mickey Mouse

FDR was president during one of the most troubling periods in US history: the Great Depression. Movies were an escape from reality then as they are now, so FDR often enjoyed watching Mickey Mouse cartoons while in office. On a different note, he also famously adored Myrna Loy — so much so that it is rumored he wanted to postpone the Yalta Conference in order to meet her when she finally made it to the White House.

Source: Entertainment Weekly, The Baltimore Sun

Harry Truman: "My Darling Clementine"

With Truman, a trend begins. Many US presidents have had an affinity for Westerns. For Truman, it was "My Darling Clementine," starring Henry Fonda. Focus Features wrote that Truman had a connection to the film because he and Fonda were both “plain-speakers.”

Dwight Eisenhower: “High Noon”

Eisenhower loved movies, having watched about 200 in the White House's private theater during his eight years in office. While he watched a lot of movies, Westerns were his favorite and one topped Eisenhower's list: "High Noon," starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. You’ll see this flick pop up later in the list, too.

Source: The White House Museum

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'Birth of a Nation' is an ambitious slavery movie you should see despite the controversy


The Birth of a Nation Elliot Davis

For the foreseeable future, Nate Parker's directorial debut "The Birth of a Nation," which was the big winner at Sundance earlier this year and just showed at the Toronto film festival, will be shrouded in the recent news of a rape accusation against its writer-director-star-producer while at Penn State in the late 1990s.

How that will affect the movie's box office and award-season chances is another story.

But we'll delve into the movie itself, which focuses on Nat Turner (played by Parker), the slave who led a rebellion against the white masters of Southampton County, Virginia, in the 1830s.

A passion project for Parker, who spent years putting it together on his own terms, the movie is an ambitious undertaking for a first-time director. Having enough money to pull off a period piece is essential, but so is possessing the talent to build a compelling story that looks at the life of a person few know about.

The production value and beautiful cinematography make for an authentic 1800s South, but the tone is a slow burn. At times the movie is a slog as we go through the childhood of Turner, who is taught to read by the wife of the plantation owner (played by Penelope Ann Miller). He's taught the Bible, as other books are only for whites and he "wouldn't understand them," he's told.

the birth of a nation fox searchlightIt's when Turner becomes an adult and is told by a master (Armie Hammer) to travel with him to other plantations to preach to fellow slaves to lift their spirits (as rumors have started of emancipation) that the movie finds its groove.

Powered by Parker's emotional portrayal of Turner, the sermons give a jolt the movie needs, and the momentum builds as we begin to see the other slaves on the plantation with Turner begin to flock to him as a person who can lead them to a better future. 

That future involves killing their masters and forming an army that can overtake a nearby armory, where with guns they can take on any foe who comes at them.

News has spread since "The Birth of a Nation" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year that one of the filmmakers Parker turned to for advice was Mel Gibson, and that is evident.

Parker's movie has a "Braveheart" feel, from the plot of a man attempting to overpower an oppressor to the bloody battle sequences. But you can also find an homage to an African-American writer-director-producer-star previous to Turner.

A shot of Turner running through the woods at the conclusion of the movie harks back to the end of Melvin Van Peebles' 1971 landmark "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song," in which Sweetback runs into the night being chased by police with dogs.

The last 15 minutes of "Birth of a Nation" are its highlight. A stirring score matches the action on-screen, and among the savagery, Parker inserts lasting imagery, like a butterfly on the coat of a dead child.

Parker's talents in front of and behind the camera in this movie are undeniable. It remains to be seen if the open questions around the rape accusation, and subsequently the cloud hovering above the film itself, will cause audiences to miss that talent.

SEE ALSO: The 16 best Tom Hanks performances ever, ranked

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'Snowden' portrays the infamous NSA leaker as a hero, but leaves many big questions unanswered


edward snowden filmThe new film "Snowden" is a wildly entertaining thriller centered around the most-wanted man in the world, though I was left with many more questions than when I started.

The Oliver Stone-directed film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Edward Snowden takes viewers through most of Snowden's adult life in a series of flashbacks amid interactions with journalists in a Hong Kong hotel.

While the story will be fascinating for many, it glosses over a number of unanswered questions in the Snowden saga.

To be clear, the movie is not supposed to be a documentary or definitive account of Snowden's life, but I hoped, nevertheless, it would shed at least some light on a younger version of the ex-NSA contractor who leaked thousands of documents to journalists in 2013, which it did not do.

Instead, it starts with his apparent Special Forces training with the US Army. The extent of his army career has never been all that clear, and the Pentagon only confirmed that he enlisted as a Special Forces recruit in May 2004 who was discharged four months later.

(Business Insider has tried unsuccessfully to get Snowden's military discharge document released, as has The Guardian).

The film shows Snowden going through what seems to be Army basic training where stress fractures wear and tear on his body until finally, he breaks his legs jumping from the top bunk during an early-morning wakeup. The real Snowden, for his part, told The Guardian his legs were broken in a training accident.

"There are plenty of other ways to serve your country," the doctor, who recommends an administrative discharge, tells him in the film.

The film's pace is brisk. Soon after his Army washout, Snowden is undergoing an intensive polygraph and interviewing for a position with the Central Intelligence Agency. Here we meet Corbin O'Brian, Snowden's CIA recruiter, instructor, and main antagonist in the film, who is quite obviously named after the villain in George Orwell's "1984."

He even says Orwellian things like, "Secrecy is security and security is victory."

'I'm going to give you a shot, Snowden'

corbin o'brian snowden film

Actor Rhys Ifans plays Corbin O'Brian quite well, offering a spooky and secretive man who appears to be the driving force in Snowden's career. In interviewing Snowden, O'Brian says he ordinarily would not have hired him, but in 2006 — the height of the Iraq war — "these are not ordinary times." He tells Snowden he's getting his shot, and in turn, Snowden promises he won't let him down.

At this point, the real CIA recruiter O'Brian is based on (if he exists) is probably kicking himself.

Still, Snowden is portrayed as something of a boy genius.

In his initial CIA training, he aces a five-hour-long test in 40 minutes. He rapidly moves up the chain and gets advanced training before heading to Geneva on an assignment — one that ultimately begins his slow disillusionment with the government and the messy business of intelligence gathering.

While Snowden's longtime girlfriend Lindsay Mills was non-existent in Laura Poitras' documentary "Citizenfour"— except for a brief shot of her reuniting with him in a Moscow apartment — "Snowden" makes her a central character that moves along the plot and makes things much more interesting.

edward snowden film

That was a particularly good move since, despite various movies depicting exciting things happening in intelligence circles or in the military, the truth is that much of what is actually done is painfully boring. Sure, battles and spy craft happens, but Hollywood doesn't really care for the less glamorous work of reading through raw intelligence and writing endless reports, or Snowden's real job of taking clueless NSA employees step-by-step through the process of opening a document, for example.

Stone adds more action to the mix by having drone strikes on computer screens in the workplace, which often seem out of place. Gordon-Levitt sometimes delivers lines that make Snowden seem like the most important person in the intelligence field, instead of just one man among more than 800,000 people with top secret security clearances.

"Our government is hemorrhaging billions of dollars to Chinese hackers and I’ve been hired to shut them down," he tells his girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, at one point in the film.

The crown jewels in the Rubik's Cube

snowden rubik's

Eventually, Snowden ends up working at the NSA facility in Hawaii, taking a contract systems administrator job with Dell and later, Booz Allen Hamilton.

Though I'm pretty sure it was just done for the sake of expedience and Hollywood being Hollywood, the facility there is somewhat open — almost like a Silicon Valley startup — with the offensive hackers hitting China over there, while Snowden and others protecting US networks sit over there. No doors, no key cards.

This seems far outside the reality — especially so for an NSA facility. Sensitive compartmentalized information (SCI) literally means compartmentalized, to the point where one NSA analyst wouldn't even know what the guy in the next cubicle is working on. But for "Snowden," the typical office banter happens regularly, and friendships are formed among coworkers in different departments.

One such friendship is integral to Snowden's later whistleblowing, according to the film, when he meets an NSA hacker named Gabriel Sol (played by Ben Schnetzer). Through Sol, he quickly gains access to top secret programs that would later be exposed.

Perhaps the most notable is Prism, which gave the agency direct access to data on the servers of Facebook, Google, and other tech giants. Sol later taps into a random woman's webcam and watches her live as Snowden looks on, uncomfortably — likely an allusion to a program exposed in 2014 called Optic Nerve, which allowed British spies to intercept millions of webcam images from Yahoo users.

snowden film

Another friend in particular actually keeps his mouth shut when he sees Snowden downloading the critical NSA files to an SD card. It's a moment of high drama, but it's doubtful this even happened, especially when the film's climactic scene is put up against the reality: Instead of grabbing all the files in one day, Snowden apparently started downloading the cache more than a year before he met with journalists in Hong Kong, according to a report from Mark Hosenball in Reuters.

That scene features this exchange: "The NSA may come after you," Snowden tells his coworker. He responds: "I don't know what you're talking about."

Then he just lets Snowden grab a bunch of top secret documents hidden inside a Rubik's Cube, finally walking out the front door with a smile on his face (Snowden has never said how he actually grabbed the files). And before he hops in the elevator, Snowden has an unspoken exchange of, I'm leaving right now with tons of files and you're never going to see me again, wink wink, with his old friend Gabriel.

These interactions make it seem like intelligence professionals support what Snowden did, but that's a sentiment not backed up in statements from various officials, on the record or said anonymously. One former hacker with NSA's elite hacker unit, Tailored Access Operations, put it this way: "I can't believe anyone listens to him," the source told Business Insider. "It's so infuriating. He was the help desk administrator for the government."

Unanswered questions

edward snowden film

Overall, the film was fairly good. If you're searching for a solid flick offering a look into the world of the CIA and the NSA, you'll get it. And if you're a fan of Edward Snowden and believe he's a patriot, this movie is going to support that viewpoint.

But Snowden skeptics will be left wanting.

Many important questions go unanswered or are breezed past, and it ultimately does a disservice to its subject matter and the viewer. These include the open question of what Snowden was doing for the 11 days he spent in Hong Kong before he met journalists, his somewhat questionable claim of being "stranded" in Moscow, and whether he took any stolen documents with him to Russia.

For example, in the film Snowden proclaims "I no longer have any access to the data myself" as he deletes files on his laptop in a Hong Kong hotel room. But his claim to have destroyed the documents was contradicted in an interview he gave to the South China Morning Post, in which he said he would like to leak more documents later to "journalists in each country to make their own assessment, independent of my bias, as to whether or not the knowledge of US network operations against their people should be published."

"Snowden" also moves a bit too quickly at times for its own good, leaving out any mention of Snowden's childhood or how he ended up in a CIA interview. He apparently first got a top secret clearance working as a security guard, for example, which is not in the film. There is also little revealed of his new life in Russia, where he has been living under asylum since 2013.

Neil deGrasse Tyson and his guest Edward Snowden on StarTalk

All that viewers see of that is a cameo appearance by the real Snowden at the end of the film where he delivers a powerful speech from the second home of Anatoly Kucharena — a Kremlin-connected lawyer who represents Snowden in Moscow and wrote a novel loosely based on his flight from the US. Stone optioned that book, and Luke Harding's "The Snowden Files," for the basis of the film.

"Snowden" is held up by strong performances, most notably in Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the title character. He absolutely nails Snowden's voice and mannerisms; so much so that it's often hard to distinguish him at times from the real thing. And then there are similarly strong performances turned in by Zachary Quinto as journalist Glenn Greenwald and Nicholas Cage as Hank Forrester, a disillusioned NSA employee who acts as a mentor to Snowden, ultimately praising his haul of top secret documents by the end of the film.

"He did it. The kid did it," Forrester says.

Forrester seems to be based on another NSA whistleblower named William Binney, who initially offered high praise for Snowden when NSA documents revealed a mass spying dragnet. But Binney eventually shifted his view after Snowden leaked specific NSA hacking targets to a Chinese newspaper: He told USA Today that Snowden seemed to be "transitioning from whistleblower to traitor."

"As I have said in the past, revealing specific targets or successes of US intelligence activities is not in the public interest," Binney told Business Insider in 2014.

"Snowden" leaves that part out.

The film is out in theaters on Sep. 15.

SEE ALSO: The infamous hacker who exposed Clinton's email server is going to prison for 4 years

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