This scene of a Passover meal from a hospital bed is the strangest of uplifting film moments.

Richard Jenkins stars as an ailing patriarch inLullaby, a man about to stop treatment for terminal cancer. One of his final meals is with his wife (Anne Archer), son (Garrett Hedlund) and daughter (Jessica Brown Findlay).

It’s also one of the first family moments the group has shared in years, with a visiting police officer joining in the meal.

“It’s a beautiful moment for them,” says Lullaby director/writer Andrew Levitas. “It’s making good memories up until the end. It’s not dark. It’s a family sitting around having one of the nicer meals they have ever had together. Even considering the circumstances.

“It’s the point of all of this,” Levitas adds, explaining a driving Lullaby theme. “There are so many dark and scary things in this world. But if you can connect with family and find love, even bad things don’t feel so bad.”

There is plenty of bad in this ultimately positive tale of a financially rich but broken family whose members have been torn apart by illness for years. It opens June 13.

The film follows successful business leader Robert (Jenkins), who decides to take himself off life support after a decade of illness. But it’s mostly seen through the eyes of his troubled son, Jonathan (Tron: Legacy’s Hedlund).

“This is a hero’s journey for Jonathan, which is central to the story,” Levitas says. “We’re basically watching someone who has been lost for years find himself.”

Levitas says viewers will see a very different side of Hedlund, who was last seen in a memorable cameo for Inside Llewyn Davis. In Lullaby, he lashes out onstage, performing in a rock band and in his personal life.

Meanwhile, Jenkins instantly makes himself sympathetic while trying to pull his family together in the final hours of his life. “Richard is just the kind of father so many people wish they could have,” Levitas says. “He shows it’s never too late to reclaim your life.”

The cast is filled with great actors pulled together by Levitas, including Archer andDownton Abbey‘s Findlay. Terrence Howard stars as a sympathetic hospital doctor, and Jennifer Hudson is a scene-stealing nurse.

Meanwhile, Amy Adams managed to make time in her schedule to play Jonathan’s ex-girlfriend.

“People were passionate about this story and believed in what we were saying,” Levitas says. “Amy showed up and did her thing.”

Jenkins’ character might not find his miracle cure. But once again, the strangely uplifting mode kicks in for the on-screen family man.

“At the end of his life, Richard is surrounded by people he loves, and he’s able to smile, knowing he has lived a great life,” Levitas says. “He knows he has had the life he wanted. That’s how he finishes it. We should all be so lucky.”


Lullaby Sneak Peak
11 Apr, 2014

Garrett Hedlund and Michael Pena Cast in John Michael McDonagh’s War on Everyone

Writer/Director John Michael McDonagh scored a big success in 2011 with his first film The Guard and looks set to repeat it with new comedy Calvary, in cinemas next week. But the filmmaker already has his sights set on his next project.

McDonagh has been talking about the script for War on Everyone for a few years now, mentioning it back when we interviewed him for The Guardand it seems it’s finally coming to fruition. The story is said to be about ‘two confrontational, totally corrupt cops in Alabama’ and we’ve got the scoop on who will be playing them.

In our recent interview for Calvary, McDonagh said: “The next movie looks like it might go with Michael Pena and Garrett Hedlund about two corrupt cops in Texas.” Confirming that it would indeed be War on Everyone, he goes on to talk about the stage that the film is at:

“They’re already attached to it, it’s just trying to get the financing you want to make the movie you want. I think we need about $8-10 million. Let’s say Calvary is a success, that’ll be a help. If Michael and Garrett have a film coming out that’s a success that’ll help and that will all get us the money hopefully to put the pieces together and add a few supporting actors that add financial value. So if we can get that it will probably happen in October/November 2014.”

Expect more news on the film very soon. Pena is currently out with his Cesar Chavez movie and is the lead in a Mark Neveldine exorcism movie, Hedlund has a thriller with Mark Wahlberg from the writer of The Departed.


Garrett and Michael Pena Cast in War on Everyone
04 Apr, 2014

Angelina Jolie’s ‘Unbroken’ to Hit Theaters in December 2014

The release date puts the film adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand’s acclaimed 2010 book in the heart of awards season.

Universal has set a Christmas Day 2014 release for World War II drama Unbroken, which marks Angelina Jolie’s second directorial effort.

The coveted release positions the film — an adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand’s acclaimed 2010 book about World War II hero Lou Zamperini — for an awards run. Ethan and Joel Coen are writing the script from previous drafts by William Nicholson and Richard LaGravenese.

Universal picked up the rights to the book in January 2011, initially for Francis Lawrence to direct. Jolie boarded the project in December.


Some other interesting articles and information beneath the cut …

23 Mar, 2014


On the Road is finally coming to US theaters tomorrow so there is a fresh batch of reviews for the movie. To celebrate the release, I wanted to spotlight some of the great comments reviewers were making about Garrett’s performance.

The King Bulletin

This brings me to the performance of Hedlund, which is simply one of my favorite male performances of the year (and there have been a lot of great ones). Hedlund gives Dean the irresistible swagger we’ve always imagined — he talks like a country singer, woos people with his intoxicating energy, and is so confident in his physical appearance that he rarely needs to wear anything dressier than a plain-white T-shirt to get people into bed with him. But the magic of the performance — like that of the film in general — is that Hedlund’s Dean is so charismatic and full of passion that he can’t help but also be profoundly sad at the same time. Indeed, he’s quite often both of these things at the exact same time: perhaps Hedlund’s best scene in the film has him switching from talking about suicide to a four-way orgy within the blink of an eye. This is a guy who has no control over himself, and, therefore, can never get a lasting, meaningful grip on the world he lives in.

This theatrical cut of On the Road runs 124 minutes, and it’s largely unsurprising, given the film’s satisfying understanding of the source material, that an extended cut would probably be even better. When it debuted at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, it ran closer to 140 minutes, but was unfortunately forced into the editing room on its way to domestic distribution. The melancholy, drawn-out image that plays out over the closing credits — Hedlund’s Dean, his back to the camera, pacing drearily down some middle-of-nowhere railroad tracks — is a prime example of why I’d eagerly accept any longer version that may come our way.


Boston Globe

And the casting is very strong, especially Garrett Hedlund in the critical role of Dean Moriarty, a.k.a. Neal Cassady, the one character who lives what the others just write about. That’s not quite right: Dean can only live — skipping from city to city, apartment to apartment, woman to woman — while his friends have to turn it into art. That’s why they idolize him: Dean’s life is his art. Kerouac knew there’d be a price to pay for that, and if his book sees the downside of Being Dean with piercing romanticism, the movie just sees it clearly.

Anyway, Hedlund — last seen in “Tron: Legacy,” poor thing — is a tremendous Dean, confident, impulsive, sexy, rootless. Even his mistakes seem like great ideas at the time. (It helps if you’re a guy.) The others, also well cast, are lesser planets to his Sun.


23 Mar, 2014