*“The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister And Pete,” the coming-of-age story of two abandoned and scared boys trying to survive in New York City, will open on October 11 in limited release, Lionsgate announced today.
Directed by George Tillman Jr., the film stars Skylan Brooks, Ethan Dizon, Jordin Sparks, Jeffrey Wright, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Anthony Mackie and Jennifer Hudson. Michael Starrbury penned the script.
The film will go up against Sony/Columbia’s “Captain Phillips” and Open Road’s “Machete Kills” which are opening wide, reports Deadline.com. Relativity’s “Romeo And Juliet,” Buena Vista’s “The Fifth Estate” and Radius/TWC’s “All The Boys Love Mandy Lane” are also set to bow on that date.
*Codeblack Films has picked up US distribution for “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete,” co-executive produced by Alicia Keys, directed by George Tillman Jr. and starring Jeffrey Wright, Jordin Sparks, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jennifer Hudson and Anthony Mackie.
The film, which made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 25, is about two abandoned and scared boys – 13-year-old Skylan Brooks as Mister and Ethan Dizon as 9-year-old Pete – trying to survive in New York City.
“Inevitable Defeat” was the debut of multiplatinum songstress Keys as an executive producer. She also serves as the film’s composer.
(L-R) Actor Skylan Brooks, producer and musician Alicia Keys, actress Jennifer Hudson and director George Tillman Jr. pose for a portrait during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival at the Getty Images Portrait Studio at Village at the Lift on January 18, 2013 in Park City, Utah
The almost insurmountable gloom that we see the protagonists face in this Sundance premiered film is a very brave and interestingly refreshing move from director George Tillman Jr. Unsettling of course, but as the title suggests the worst is ‘inevitable’, so ultimately we always know how the film will wrap up – and it’s a long way from how you’ll want it to after you’ve spent two hours in the world of Mister and Pete.
Set during a sweltering summer in New York City, our two kids, already sadly firmly amid the drug and guns culture of the Brooklyn projects, are forced to fend for themselves as Mister’s mother Gloria (played masterfully here by Jennifer Hudson) slides down the junkie slope of no return. Shot in a mere 25 days and on an eyewateringly tight budget, “The inevitable defeat of Mister and Pete” is a hugely touching and beautifully observed film, which highlights how fractious relationships between parents and children can be, and the sad impermanence of human loyalty.
Jennifer Hudson in “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete”
Tillman has drawn very strong performances out of pretty much his entire cast here – which includes two “American Idol” alumni (Hudson and Jordin Sparks). The real breakout performances however are from our two kids. Mister’s paternal instinct kicks in in an admirably quick and believable fashion, and it’s this determination, brute force and attitude that is wonderfully complimented by Pete’s quirky, cute but notably damaged self. Together they work very well, but it remains clear throughout that they’re both equally vulnerable. The comedic moments that we see between the pair will make you fall in love with them even more, making it even harder to watch this sad story play out in front of you.
Some of the Sundance write ups have pointed out that not a great deal actually “happens” during their summer of struggle, arguing that it weakens the narrative of the film. Is this not exactly the point? So often in life, struggles such as this are entirely unresolved and involve hugely extended periods of “nothingness.” Yes, the middle portion of the film is protracted, but surely this is intentional in order to mirror the bleakness of what can so often be reality.
Not a perfect film, and not one to watch if you’re feeling a tad vulnerable – but the strength of the performances and the delicacy with which these difficult subject matters are dealt with will no doubt make it an indie cinema hit.
Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 Desperately sad, sadly real, with some genuinely funny moments thrown in.
Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn (L) and Christelyn D. Karazin, authors of “Swirling”
*State Street Pictures, the West Hollywood-based production company headed by Robert Teitel and George Tillman, Jr., has picked up feature film rights to the book “Swirling: How to Date Mate and Relate Mixing Race, Culture and Creed.”
The first-time release from pop culture blogger Christelyn D. Karazin and journalist Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn was penned “as a dating wake-up call for African American women.” It “debunks social, cultural and sexual myths on ‘dating out’ and serves as a practical guide for coping with disapproving friends and family, and offers advice from mixed couples who are happily ‘swirling.’”
Karazin and Littlejohn will serve as executive producers on the project with Teitel and Tillman, who is slated to direct.
“We are thrilled to be working with such great and contemporary material as ‘Swirling,’” said Teitel. “The book is a great ‘how-to’ guide on dating across race and creed and lends itself to a fun yet poignant screen adaptation.
Released May 15, 2012 by Atria Paperback (an imprint of Simon & Schuster), “Swirling” debuted at #53 among books on SEX and #65 among books on HAPPINESS on Amazon.com’s Top 100 Books listing.
Karazin and Littlejohn are currently touring nationally to promote the release.
*Every once in a while a film comes along that is perfect for its genre. It may not garner any awards or accolades, but fans of that genre will be in awe of it. “Faster”, directed by George Tillman Jr., is one such film.
Starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Billy Bob Thornton, Jr., “Faster” is a tale of revenge, triumph and lots of a bullets and cool cars.
The Rock is already a pretty big dude, and we know that’s the understatement of the day, but the former pro wrestler says he put on upwards of 30 pounds of a muscle for this role. His character is fresh out of jail from a 10 year prison bid. Is it overkill? Not according to Mr. Johnson.
“Bigger is always better. I’ve worked my butt off for this movie,” the extra buffed actor told EURweb.com and other outlets at the film’s press conference in Beverly Hills. “It was a role that I was excited about playing. It fit with the character who was incarcerated for about ten years. In the prison population, in that environment, a lot of the training is very unsophisticated. It’s a lot of moving weight and there’s a density to a lot of prisoners’ muscularity when they train like that for years.”
Billy Bob Thornton is a veteran actor by anyone’s standards. He has been in some roles in which you jeer him, and in other roles where you cheer for him. In “Faster” Thornton plays a detective who kind of skews the lines of good and bad. He’s a human and Thornton says that’s exactly what he was aiming for and that’s the effect the writers instilled in each of the other characters as well.
“I think one of the flaws in most commercial action movies is that the characters are usually not very developed,” said Thornton. “They’re there to just service the job. A lot of times you have this movie star hero and then you have these bad guys who are just there to be killed by the hero. They’re just nameless, faceless people and as a result you’re really not afraid of them because you don’t see them ask somebody to pass the salt. You don’t see them with a family. In this case, and it’s a credit to the screenwriters, they gave each character some type of story. That sort of world weariness of the character adds to the movie. He’s not black or white. It puts him in a very gray area.”
The movie starts out with a lot of people dying really fast, but we would imagine that’s just to get your adrenaline pumping. As the story develops the shooting deaths slows down a little and the film matures.
“The whole script started out with the idea that some guy gets out of prison and starts shooting people in the head as fast as he can,” Director George Tillman, Jr. said. “Then you find out that that’s your protagonist and you find that out by the end of the first act. Yeah, he busts down a lot of doors and he kills a lot of people but you eventually find out there’s something else going on because who would want to sit there and watch this guy blow people’s brains out with no character change?”
The past few years have witnessed The Rock getting awfully cute and cuddly in his film roles. “The Tooth Fairy” was the most cuddly of all, but he tells reporters that was only for a season.
“It wasn’t necessarily important for me to go back and kick ass and do an R rated movie,” he explained. “It was just a matter of me getting good material that really resonated with me, something that I had been waiting for-for some time. I had enjoyed some of the work that I had been doing in the past for some time, whether it was Disney or some other studios, but my philosophy has always been pretty straight forward. If I see something I like and I can see its value to the audience, and its value to me then I give it a shot regardless of the genre. (‘Faster’) just happened to come along at a time when I was waiting for something like this. I’ve been waiting a long time. It’s something I can sink my teeth into. It came along and I read it, loved it and wanted to do it.”
The screenplay of “Faster” is streamlined in terms of a dialogue. There’s lots of kick-ass-edness going on. But the characters are still as three dimensional as possible.
“In terms of the characters, I think they’re kind of iconic characters and that’s why we named them as sort of action figure characters,” explained Tillman. “We didn’t want to give them a name. In the script I think it comes across better than it does on the screen. As you’re reading the dialogue one guy is called Driver, one’s called Cop, one’s called Killer. The goal was to set them up as these sort of archetypes then set them up as more original.”
In addition to lots of brute strength and ballistics, there are plenty of American muscle cars. The Rock says that was one of his favorite parts about the role.
“The stunt driving school was really necessary,” said Johnson. “I remember talking it over earlier with (director) George (Tillman) and it was very important to the film in terms of its authenticity. You can tie me in to all of these shots and not cut away to a stunt double. I loved the Chevelle. The Chevelle became like the character’s home. It was like his family.”
Besides all the cool guy stuff packed in the film, The Rock gets to brandish his classic stare on soon to be doomed villains. He does that so well he had to have practiced it. He’s got the best eyebrow lift since Mr. Spock of “Star Trek” fame.
“I practiced by watching a lot of Clint Eastwood movies,” explained Rock. “It was one of those welcome challenges to the movie. The script that these guys wrote had the challenge of telling a story without my character saying many words at all. I give a lot of credit to George, who was one of the most prepared directors I’ve ever been around.”
Stallone, Schwarzenegger and all of the other action heros that many of us grew up on have gotten old. So, who will save us from our cinematic doldrums? The Rock tells reporters that he is more than up for the task, given the right material.
“Absolutely,” he told reporters when asked. “For me, the action genre has always been my home. I’m a very physical guy. I love that and I enjoy it, but it was also very important for me to have a diverse career. I didn’t want to get pigeon-holed. I didn’t want to be defined as the action guy or the comedy guy or the family guy. I just wanted to give it my best shot and get really good at it over time.”
“I think actors are pigeon-holed sometimes and they’re portrayed that way by other people. We don’t think of each other that way,” added Billy Bob Thornton. “With Dwayne, I’d seen him do several movies already, and I was interested in him as a human being. We didn’t really know each other until shortly before the movie. We had mutual friends and we were always sending messages but I was aware of him as an actor. More importantly, you can kind of tell. That’s one of the reasons that I don’t audition people for movies when I’m directing. I’d rather sit and talk to them for a few minutes. If you look at him that way instead of saying ‘Oh, that’s the guy that played the ‘Scorpion King,’ but he was also the ‘Tooth Fairy,’ I don’t really think of it that way. I just think of that guy and whatever that specific vibe is.”
From the previews it’s easy for one to discern that “Faster” is a full-throttle, shoot ‘em up cinematic offering. It’s almost a forgone conclusion that the violence contained therein is gratuitous, right?
“From a cinematic standpoint one of the things I talked about with Dwayne was really trying not to glamorize it,” said Tillman. “The sequence when he goes into the strip club and has the fight. That’s it, it’s over, he’s out of there. We tried to keep it in reality. Don’t try to do what most action movies do, extending the conflict. It gets to the point where ‘Is that real or is that not?’ As a director I was thinking I couldn’t go too far and go over board. I try to have this done as quick, fast as possible. But there’s always the beat of the Driver thinking ‘Why did I do that?’ That was already there with the script and I just took it from there and tried not to glamorize it.”
“Faster” is a good old fashioned action film that combines some elements of westerns and 70s style car chase films. It opens today November 24th in theaters nationwide.
Director George Tillman Jr. confers with Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson on set of 'Faster'
*We’re sure you have seen all the trailers for “Faster” by now, haven’t you? Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson running around kicking ass and looking mad as hell.
If you like action films and beefy brothers with vendettas then this film is for you. It stars The Rock, of course, as well as Billy Bob Thornton, Mike Epps and others. But you may not have known it was directed by George Tillman, Jr.
His credits include “Men of Honor,” “Soul Food” and “Notorious,”, and if you don’t know now ya know! EURweb.com happened upon the man who put the film’s visionary plan together. We asked Tillman what he thought of the film’s title.
“I look at it as we have 3 guys; the driver’s trying to kill, killers trying to stop him and the cop that’s trying to stop them both,” he explained. “All these guys are so fast in trying to accomplish their mission that they don’t think about all the consequences. The driver (The Rock) doesn’t stop to think that he’s killing people that have families, the cop (Billy Bob Thornton) doesn’t realize that he’s loosing his family and the killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) doesn’t realize that he may loose his woman. They’re moving so fast to get to a certain point that they don’t realize their circumstances. That’s what the movie means to me. So, it’s not just an action movie. It also has a lot of character.”
Tillman oversees set up of scene with Billy Bob Thornton (with gun)
Though the title of “Faster” would lead one to believe the movie is all about cars, Tillman says the scenery and locations gave it a western feel. But that western feel is what makes “Faster” so cool!
“For me the movie was almost like an old school western. We look at a movie like ‘The Good, The Bad and the Ugly’ by Sergio Leoni, with us you’ve got “Driver,” “Cop,” and “Killer.” We’re out there shooting in the desert at a lot of locations: Palmdale, Lancaster (and even San Pedro by the ocean). We were all around and I felt like we hadn’t seen that kind of location in a long time. That’s what makes the movie feel kind of fresh. We just felt like Here’s the best location we could find to do a lot of those car chases, and a lot of those fast sequences that we had.”
This movie has the potential to be one of those classic tough guy films, which is kind of hard to believe when you consider the fact that George had never done this kind of film before.
“I wanted to try something different after ‘Soul Food’, ‘Men of Honor’ and ‘Notorious’ and I felt like I doing the same thing in the genre,” Tillman told our Lee Bailey. “‘Soul Food’ and ‘Men of Honor’ were all about family to a certain degree. I had to get it so I chased the (CBS Films) studio execs down, gave them the best presentation that I could. I worked hard to get it and I really feel like it paid off.”
You got that right George, “Faster” is the da bomb diggety! You did an excellent job.
Besides The Rock, Thornton and Jackson-Cohen, the film also stars Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Mike Epps. It opens this Wednesday, Nov 24.