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Brad Pitt’s Best Film is 15 Years Old

From Esquire: “Lamp-lit figures emerge from the woods. A train rounds a corner. Illuminated among the undergrowth are men with sacks covering their faces, rough eye holes cut out, shotguns cradled in their arms. There is a hiss of steam and sparks as the train slows. Guns popping, the bandits emerge, intent on robbery. Pitt’s Jesse James swaggers among them, cool and in command. This is one of the best, one of the most eerie and menacing and beautiful scenes in the best film of Brad Pitt’s career.

Pitt was 42 years old during the filming of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and perhaps the biggest movie star in the world. In 1999 Fight Club had turned the Oklahoma native red-hot. The rebooted Ocean’s Eleven cemented his leading man status. The perfect time, then, to take a left turn into a low budget, ponderous historical epic meditating on the celebrity culture Pitt embodied, through the lens of the life and death of a late 19th-century train robber.

The Assassination of Jesse James… was intended to be “a dark, contemplative examination of fame and infamy,” the film’s director, Andrew Dominik said in an LA Times article. Dominik succeeded in that, while showing us a side of Pitt of which we arguably haven’t seen enough. As James, Pitt is introspective, mournful, exhausted, quick to anger, compassionate, ruthless, yet kind. Observe how in the final scene, with acceptance etched on his face, he watches his children play, sets down his gun belt, then turns his back to accept the bullet from Casey Affleck’s assassin. It’s a career-best performance in a career best film.

Unfortunately, these types of performances aren’t always assured. There are two sides to Pitt the actor. For every goofy stoner/bro character (True Romance, Burn After Reading, War Machine) there’s the artist, the auteur, the Pitt whose characters we imagine dabble in sculpture and study German architecture in their spare time, just like Pitt himself. Which isn’t to say the more comedic performances aren’t good, just that when Pitt digs deeper he’s able to convey more of the human experience, for a deeper, more fleshed-out piece of work. When he embraces this, in films like Moneyball, The Tree of Life, Ad Astra and, especially, Jesse James, Pitt is never better.

Moving away from the lighter stuff into more weighty material was a conscious decision. “In the ’90s I did become aware that there was this kind of leading-man role that you could plug any of us into and it didn’t even matter,” Pitt told the New York Times in 2019. “We would all have the same result.” He’s right. Is popcorn fare like Mr & Mrs Smith, Snatch, or The Mexican elevated by having Pitt in it? Yes, sure. But would it make a huge difference if Tom Cruise or Matthew McConaughey or Val Kilmer or whoever had taken these roles instead? Probably not.

Pitt points to the 2004 flop Troy as the moment he decided to invest in solid, meaningful stories. As a producer, this shift saw him back Oscar-winning projects including The Departed, 12 Years A Slave, and Moonlight. As an actor, he’s been nominated for four Oscars, eventually winning one in 2020. “I was a pretty good actor before, but definitely hit and miss. I think I became a really good actor,” Pitt told The Telegraph in 2015.

Of course, it takes more than serious performances in serious films to make a good actor. The Angelina Jolie-directed By The Sea is weighed down to the very bottom of the ocean by its own self-importance. And the Cormac McCar-hy-penned The Counsellor could not be saved even by the combined talents of Ridley Scott and one of the best movie casts ever assembled.

There is a sweet spot between weighty and comedic in Pitt’s two Tarantino-directed outings, Inglourious Basterds, and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. But even then, in Pitt’s Oscar-winning performance in Once Upon A Time… he’s largely playing the straight guy to Leonardo DiCaprio’s larger-than-life film star (acid-dipped cigarettes aside).

Arguably, despite his many hits, Pitt has never recaptured the perfect storm of filmmaking that went into Jesse James. His performance, Roger Deakins’ cinematography, the set design, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’s soundtrack, the editing, Dominik’s direction, and supporting performances from Sam Shepard, Sam Rockwell, and Mary-Louise Parker all tie together to make this the finest film of Pitt’s career – and one that he is yet to better, 15 years later.

While the forthcoming Bullet Train seems to find Pitt slipping back into blockbuster-bro mode, let’s hope we get at least one more ambitious epic on the scale of Jesse James before the 58-year-old actor hangs up his gun belt for good.”

Brad Pitt Backtracks His Comments About Retiring: “I’m So Sorry I Said That”

From E News: “This Hollywood hunk isn’t going anywhere just yet.

After stating in a June 2022 GQ Magazine article that he considers himself to be on the “last leg” of his career, Brad Pitt shut down any rumors of retirement exclusively on E! News’ Daily Pop.

“I’m so sorry I said that,” he told Daily Pop’s Francesca Amiker before explaining his comments, saying, “I just see it as like, there’s child to young adult, there’s young adult to middle-age. And then, you get over that hump of middle-age, and it’s kinda downhill from there. And I was just saying I’m over that hump.”

But the 58-year-old isn’t stopping any time soon, as he stars in the new action flick Bullet Train, which premieres August 5. Pitt plays assassin Ladybug, who discovers he isn’t the only person on the film’s titular train in search of a mysterious briefcase.

Among the film’s star-studded cast—which includes Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry and Logan Lerman—is Pitt’s longtime friend Sandra Bullock, who plays his character’s boss, Maria Beetle.

“She will drop anything to come to my aid,” Pitt said of his pal at the film’s premiere on August 1. After playing a small part in her recent movie The Lost City earlier this year, the actor said it was fun to “cross-pollinate each other’s films.”

“And now, contraction, I’m gonna do only Sandy Bullock films,” he joked. “You heard it here.”

Also in attendance on the red carpet was Pitt’s co-star Joey King, who plays fellow assassin Prince. Despite feeling imposter syndrome while filming, she told Daily Pop that the Hollywood icon was always there to support her.

“You step on a set like that with all these heavy-hitters—and it’s a David Leitch action movie—you’re like, ‘Do I belong here?'” she stated. “And Brad literally said, he was like, ‘You belong here. Stop it.'”

Pitt also goes toe-to-toe against musician Bad Bunny in the new film. The artist’s role as the villainous Wolf marks his second film appearance, having made a brief cameo in last year’s Fast & Furious installment F9.

“Working with Brad Pitt and punch his face was amazing experience,” Bad Bunny told Daily Pop on the red carpet. “I’m very proud of it.””

Brad Pitt Wore a Skirt Because “We’re All Going to Die”

From Vanity Fair: “Brad Pitt figures if we’re all going to die, you might as well wear some breezier garments before you kick the bucket.

The actor wore a brown linen, knee-length skirt and matching blazer by Haans Nicholas Mott paired with a salmon linen button-down and black combat boots to the Berlin premiere of his new film Bullet Train last month. An outfit that quickly went viral due to it being such an unusual choice for the typically suit-clad star. Most probably haven’t even heard of the secretive New York-based designer behind Pitt’s much-discussed look as the brand has no website, email, or phone number, is not carried in stores, and operates on a “referral-only” business model, according to GQ.

At the Los Angeles premier of the film on Monday evening, Pitt was asked by Variety why he’d chosen to make the fashion statement, to which he replied, “I don’t know! We’re all going to die, so let’s mess it up.” But at the Berlin premiere, he offered a slightly different response to the meaning behind his look. When asked by a reporter at the time why he chose the garment, he replied simply, “Breeze,” per the Wall Street Journal. A sensible response given Europe’s current record-breaking heatwave.

This isn’t even the first time the actor has opted to wear a look with a little more breathability. Back in 1999, he did a cover shoot for Rolling Stone in conjunction with the release of Fight Club in which he modeled a number of high-end women’s dresses and skirts. And Pitt also isn’t the only high-profile skirt-lover in Hollywood as a number of male stars, including Harry Styles and Oscar Isaac, have also recently started incorporating the garment into their red carpet style.

But while he may be taking risks with his wardrobe, Pitt confessed to Variety that when it comes to the more daredevil feats you see on-screen, he prefers to leave that up to the professionals. He explained, “I try to get out of it. I love a stuntman. This one was action-comedy, something I’ve never done before. David [Leitch, the director] and I had always been big fans of Jackie Chan. We’d been talking about him for decades. He’s kind of our Buster Keaton. He’s so talented and underrated even. Just to do something in that direction was what was really appealing to me.” The actor added that while he “certainly went home and went, ‘Owwwww,’” plenty of nights, he was thankfully able to avoid any serious injury.”

‘Bullet Train’: Brad Pitt did ‘99%’ of his own stunts

From Yahoo! Movies: “Brad Pitt did ‘99%’ of his own stunts on his new action thriller Bullet Train says its director David Leitch.

If anyone is well-versed on the art of stunt work, it’s Leitch. The director of John Wick and Deadpool 2 was a stuntman and co-ordinator for years before finding his seat behind the lens.

His latest, Bullet Train, requires a healthy amount of action and choreography from its leading stars, one of which is Pitt. In the Japan-set action film, set on one of the country’s high speed trains, Pitt plays Ladybug a reluctant hitman who is called back into action to collect a briefcase on board.

Leitch explained to Yahoo how they decipher which stunts are considered beyond an actor’s capabilities.

“You come into a project and it’s a collaboration, but there are protocols, health and safety is a big one, the stunt department and their knowledge of what is safe and what isn’t, then the actor’s ability and appetite and aptitude,” he explained.

“As a stunt co-ordinator for years you never put an actor in a position where you don’t think they can succeed safely, you would never do that.”

“Brad did do 99% of his stunts because of the way the action was choreographed and he has a high aptitude, so that was from my knowledge of how to make him shine in the action knowing him for so long, and I leaned into his strengths,” he said.

Pitt was not just a committed performer when it came to the action sequences. The film has a striking comedic edge, and he was required to provide the movie with a light touch too. Joey King told us about Pitt’s infectious sense of humour, and how much fun they all had with the actor on set.

“He’s just the most normal, ridiculous, stupid, sweet person, we had so much fun together,” King said. “We all just became so close and were constantly tearing each other apart.”

“He likes a good, full-circle joke, so a joke that started like two years ago he just full-circled it yesterday with me,” King continued.

“He loves to be roasted, and to roast you back, he’s a team player. He’s really funny.”

Lewis Hamilton hired by Brad Pitt to consult on ‘exciting’ new Hollywood blockbuster Formula 1 film

From TalkSport: “Lewis Hamilton has been hired as a consultant to help Brad Pitt in a new Formula 1 film.

Apple studios confirmed in June that it will make the, as yet untitled, film with Pitt in the leading role.

Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski was also confirmed as part of the project.

Seven-time F1 champion Hamilton had been confirmed as an executive producer, but will also have a bigger role.

The Sun report the 37-year-old has agreed to serve as a consultant on set in order to teach Pitt all he needs to know about motorsport.

A source told The Sun: “This is one of those films where everything just seems to be in the right place at the right time. “F1 is obviously huge, but Brad is totally the right man for this role. Joseph couldn’t be hotter at the moment thanks to the new Top Gun movie and Lewis is excited at the thought of a new experience. “It’s perfect. They’re all so up for it.””

Sandra Bullock Joins Brad Pitt in Sony’s ‘Bullet Train’

From Variety: “Sandra Bullock is the latest star to come aboard Sony Pictures’ action thriller “Bullet Train,” Variety has confirmed.

Bullock joins an ensemble cast jam-packed with stars, including Brad Pitt, Joey King, Lady Gaga, Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Zazie Beetz, Logan Lerman, Bad Bunny, Andrew Koji, Brian Tyree Henry, Masi Oka, Michael Shannon, Hiroyuki Sanada and Karen Fukuhara.

The details of Bullock’s role in the film are currently unknown. Sony declined to comment on the casting.

Based on the novel “Maria Beetle” by Kōtarō Isaka, “Bullet Train” follows five assassins who find themselves on a bullet train in Japan and realize that their assignments are related. “John Wick” and “Atomic Blonde” director David Leitch is set to helm the film from a screenplay by Zak Olkewicz.

“Bullet Train” is produced by Columbia Pictures, 87North Productions and Fuqua Films. Leicht is also taking on a producer role, alongside Antoine Fuqua, Kelly McCormick and Kat Samick.

“Bullet Train” will mark the first film that Bullock and Pitt have appeared in together. Bullock earned an Oscar in 2010 for her performance in drama “The Blind Side.” Most recently, Bullock played Debbie Ocean in 2018’s “Ocean’s 8” and Malorie Hayes in the Netflix hit “Bird Box” that same year.

Production on “Bullet Train” is said to have commenced in October in Los Angeles. Though a crew member tested positive for COVID-19 on set in December, Variety learned that production on the film was able to continue uninterrupted.

Deadline Hollywood was the first to report the news of Bullock’s casting.”

Tarantino Breaks Down Why His Once Upon a Time Ending Is More Terrifying Than Silence of the Lambs

From MovieWeb: “Quentin Tarantino believes Once Upon A Time in Hollywood ending was more terrifying than Silence of the Lambs.

Aside from being an acclaimed filmmaker, Quentin Tarantinoo is also an avid movie watcher, who closely studies the various ways in which directors use filming techniques to create the right atmosphere for the audience. In a recent interview for Empire, Tarantino contended that the scene where Cliff Booth enters Spahn Ranch in his movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is more terrifying than the end of The Silence of the Lambs.

“When you watch the movie with an audience the first time… it achieves something I think is difficult to achieve in a movie. It achieves terror. The audience is terrified for Cliff and the air in the theater changes. They are genuinely afraid… That sequence [at the end of The Silence of the Lambs] is magnificent. I would push back on one aspect of it though. I’ve seen some movies before. I did not think Jodie Foster was going to die. At that point in the movie I would have been surprised if it ended with Buffalo Bill killing Jodie Foster. No, I’ve seen too many movies to think that was actually going to happen… One of the reasons that that scene [Spahn Ranch] works so effectively is because Cliff could die.”

For context, in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Brad Pitt in the role of Cliff enters Spahn Ranch, which, unknown to him, is the lair of a murderous cult. Cliff’s investigations lead him straight into the den of the cult, and for some time, a grisly death at the hands of crazed killers seems definitely on the cards for the character. Thankfully, Cliff leaves before anything drastic happens.

On the other hand, the end of Silence of the Lambs saw Clarice Starling, played by Jodie Foster, entering the lair of the notorious serial killer Buffalo Bill on her own. After a tense battle in which Bill very nearly overpowers her, Clarice finally gains the upper hand. According to Tarantino, the difference between his movie and The Silence of the Lambs comes down to what separates terror from suspense.

“There’s a difference between suspense and terror. On one hand it’s razor thin on the other hand It’s as wide as the Grand Canyon. Suspense is ‘what’s going to happen?’ Terror is [when] you know exactly what is going to happen and you don’t want to see it.”

Clearly, Tarantino has very strong ideas about what constitutes true terror. And now we can’t help but wonder what a pure horror movie made by Quentin Tarantino would look like. The director had addressed the possibility a few years ago, admitting that his fondness for injecting humor into scenes would prevent him from making something like The Exorcist.

“If I had all the time in the world, I would love to make a really, really scary horror film, like The Exorcist. But I don’t know if me taking my sense of humor and putting it in the backseat just to hit a tone of dread from beginning to end is the best use of my talents or my time. I don’t know if I could let go of that humor and be able to make something like The Exorcist and keep that tone of dread all the way through.”

Snatch is getting a 20th Anniversary release on 4K Blu-ray this June

From The Digital Fix: “Snatch is heading to 4K Blu-ray to mark it’s 20th Anniversary with a release date currently set for 1st June 2021. Guy Ritchie’s film takes the formula he first established in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and dials it up with a bigger story and a cast that includes Brad Pitt.

We have no details on what the release will feature, but a full 4K remaster is sure to make this an essential purchase even without full details on the disc contents.

As soon as we know more we’ll share it right here.”

‘Nobody’s going to make this film’: Terry Gilliam, ’12 Monkeys’ screenwriters look back on oddball sci-fi favorite 25 years later

From Yahoo: “Despite a remarkable run of idiosyncratic classics that included Time Bandits (1981), Brazil (1985), The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) and The Fisher King (1991), Monty Python alumnus Terry Gilliam still doubted the plausibility of making 12 Monkeys, the predictably odd and ambitious sci-fi favorite that would become the filmmaker’s biggest box-office success.

“I thought, ‘Nobody’s going to make this film,’” Gilliam tells us during a recent virtual interview in which he reunited with the movie’s husband-and-wife screenwriting duo, David and Janet Peoples, ahead of its 25th anniversary this month (watch above). “It just didn’t fit into what Hollywood was known for doing. And I was blown away by [the script], because I thought, this is a challenge. I thought if anything’s a challenge, this is one.

“And it touched on so many elements that appealed to me: time travel, the idea of something that wipes out half of humanity, if not more. I’ve always been a great fan of the idea of a big cull of the human species. … We are the most dangerous creature on the planet. We’re f it up.”

12 Monkeys, which like several other disease-oriented films has seen a spike in interest during the coronavirus pandemic, follows a convict (Bruce Willis) from a dystopian future sent back to the past (in this case 1996) to gather information on a man-made virus that has forced humanity to live underground. While there, Willis’s James Cole memorably encounters Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt), the insane asylum resident thought to be a suspect for his ties to the activist group The Army of the Twelve Monkeys, and Dr. Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe), a psychologist Cole kidnaps who later becomes an ally.

While Gilliam directly referenced time travel, the Peoples couple insist they always viewed the story to be more about “mind travel.” As David Peoples puts it, “It was not a sci-fi picture about magic traveling from one time to another. It was about, what would happen if you could travel? And what would it do to your mind? … What is the future? And if you had a dream that you were in the future, could you really have been there? How would you know you hadn’t been there? And that was the dilemma of poor Cole. Did he just have a bad dream, and now he’s stuck trying to warn everybody about something?”

Loosely based on the French 1962 short film La Jetée, the Peoples’ conceived their story after witnessing animal rights protests outside a research lab near the neighboring University of California, Berkeley campus.

“The script was a mess. … It was so dense and so weird,” David Peoples admits about the project before Gilliam came onboard. “We realized that Terry was the only person who could’ve made that movie. Nobody else could’ve got that narrative, along with all those visionary [elements]. Terry had us make some changes in the script, and unusually in the motion picture business, they were improvements.”

That included one of the film’s key twists. In the original script, the Army of the Twelve Monkeys did actually release the virus.

“It was very conventional,” Janet Peoples says.

“And Janet suddenly pointed out, ‘They can’t send out the virus. That’s absurd, it’s somebody else. It’s just a big McGuffin.’ And from there on we had a story that was working.””