Jessica Chastain to play Marilyn Monroe

I don't really know how many Marilyn Monroe biopics we need, but I suppose it's inevitable that there's another one in the works, as fascination with the late sex symbol and cultural icon never seems to die down. This time Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Killing Them Softly) is slated to direct the project, entitled Blonde, and Jessica Chastain has just been signed to play Marilyn.

Actually though, I think this is pretty good casting. Chastain's already shown she has range as a character actress and if you saw her in The Help you know she can be that sort of effervescent blonde- I bet she'll do a good job with this. Blonde is set to come out in 2015, and I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot more about it- what do you think? Can Jessica Chastain pull it off?

Happy Earth Day

To mark the occasion I've got a special recommendation, although it's not exactly a movie. For Earth Day I encourage you to watch Planet Earth, the eleven part documentary series commissioned by the BBC's Natural History Unit. It's an amazing show that takes you to a different part of the planet for each episode, where they look at the habitat, history and wildlife of the area. It aired back in 2006 and was narrated by David Attenborough, although when it was on the Discovery Channel in the U.S., for some reason Sigourney Weaver took over the narration duties (does it really make people want to watch a nature documentary more knowing that a celebrity's voice is talking over it?) It was actually filmed in High Def and now that the complete series is on blu-ray, looks absolutely incredible on your TV. Trust me, if you start one episode, you'll be hooked on the whole thing.

Here's a segment from the series that shows a pride of lions going after an elephant. It's crazy how they managed to obtain that footage at all:

Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: "Double Indemnity" (1944)

This was actually released on blu-ray last week, but it's a far better selection than anything that came out today. One of the all time great film noirs with the woman who practically created the femme fatale at the center of it. Billy Wilder wrote and directed this story of a man (Fred MacMurray) who falls prey to the wiles of a dangerous woman (the incomparable Barbara Stanwyck) who gets him to conspire to murder her husband. Everyone knows this story by now (there's also a really good remake of this in 1981's Body Heat), but this is the original and every inch of it is cool, cunning perfection. You owe it to yourself to check it out.

Original 1944 Trailer:

FIRST LOOK: "How to Train Your Dragon 2"

It's a lot more than a first look actually- it's the entire first five minutes of the film. This preview was attached to Rio 2 recently, and so here we can see the opening scene of the highly anticipated sequel. The animation looks great of course, and I can already see that those flying scenes are going to look amazing on the big screen. My only complaint here will probably just be my own personal thing- but does anyone else think it's kinda messed up what they're doing to those sheep? Obviously it's an animated universe and these guys are vikings, but still- tossing those sheep around like that for fun strikes me as kind of weird. I don't know why that bugs me- maybe because sheep are real animals and dragons aren't? But I'm sure it's just me and no one else will even notice.

TRAILER: "The Homesman"

Tommy Lee Jones steps into the director's chair for the second time in what looks to be a kind of pseudo-feminist western starring himself and Hilary Swank. This movie is another Cannes entry this year set to compete for the Palme D'or, and it looks kind of interesting and different, at least for a western. The trailer has a kind of mystical vibe about it somehow. Sorry about the subtitles at the bottom but the international trailer is the only one available at the moment.

TRAILER: "A Most Wanted Man"

One of Philip Seymour Hoffman's last starring roles was in this spy thriller based on the John Le Carre novel, who wrote Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It debuted at the Sundance Film Festival to moderately positive reviews (it seems the consensus on Le Carre is that his books aren't suited to everyone's tastes), but it has a great cast in Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright and Willem Dafoe. Directed by Anton Corbijn, who also made The American and Control, but it looks worth seeing to catch as many movies that Hoffman made as a lead while you can.