What Will J.J. Abrams's 'Star Wars' Look Like?

The Atlantic Wire

Today in showbiz news: Discussing the J.J. Abrams/Star Wars news, Joaquin Phoenix and Paul Thomas Anderson are teaming up again, and a first look at the Coen Brothers' new film. 

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As noted earlier, J.J. Abrams has been chosen by Disney, and one would assume by God, to direct Star Wars: Episode VII, the much whispered/grumbled-about Star Wars sequel that will make itself known in a few years' time. How do we feel about this? I mean, a collective we, as a nation? Well, some folks seem excited. Abrams has proved himself a more than competent film director with movies like the touching Spielberg-homage Super 8 and the dark, bracing Mission: Impossible III. And, of course, Star Trek. (More on that in a minute.) He's got an inventive sense of pacing and a cool, confident visual style. As expected there have been many lens flare jokes — Star Trek was lousy with them — but mostly people seem confident that he'll make something cool rather than cloying, the prevailing mood of the much-derided (and rightly so) George Lucas prequels. But as to the Star Trek thing... Isn't it a little insane that Abrams is now responsible for the modern reinvention of science fiction's two biggest film & television properties? Like, these are the things that invented fanboy-dom. Isn't it going to be hard for him to separate, and not aesthetically, or even emotionally, confuse the two? He's going to have to install a new brain! Sure there isn't actually that much difference between Star Trek and Star Wars, looks-wise anyway, but still. They need to exist as two separate entities. Otherwise the world will collapse in on itself or something. So, we're wary of this. Because it seems like a lot to put the nerd world's two biggest horcruxes in the hands of one man. And, really, we're wary of this project in general — already in tatters because of the prequels, the Star Wars name could face complete, Alderaan-style decimation should these sequels be botched. Abrams might prove a good, if not terribly inspired, choice, but we'll only believe it when we see it. May the Force— Well, you get it. [The Wrap]

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Many film geeks are unequivocally happy about this: Joaquin Phoenix and Paul Thomas Anderson are likely teaming up again, with Phoenix in talks to feature in Anderson's next film Inherent Vice, an adaptation of a detective novel by Thomas Pynchon. Joaquin Phoenix, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Thomas Pynchon all in one movie? That's a thick-framed glasses-wearing, Greenpoint-dwelling, Manhattan Inn-brunching asshole's wet dream! And many other people's too. It's a strong pedigree, many would argue. We'd argue that only two of the three are, but that's just us. Feel free to be entirely thrilled about this. It's OK. This is good news. [Deadline]

RELATED: J.J. Abrams Will Direct New 'Star Wars' — but Ben Affleck Almost Did?

Lena Dunham's much-lauded HBO show Girls has been picked up for a third season. The show, about Romanian street children living in Bucharest slums, has been a modest success in its second season, drawing in an average of 1.6 million viewers on original broadcasts. Probably a lot more people watch it through other means — many in the show's demographic don't have HBO, very likely — but the hard numbers are good enough to keep the show going. Those recent Golden Globes probably didn't hurt the show's chances, either. So, more of Girls! Will Brigita and Ileana be able defend themselves from Vlad the pimp? Will Veronika find enough food to feed her young cousin Nataliya and survive the winter? I guess we'll find out next season! [Entertainment Weekly]

RELATED: Eight Spielberg References in the New 'Super 8' Clip

Meanwhile, Dr. Phil, a show about four young women living in New York City and grappling with a screwball array of bohemian-bourgeoise problems, has been renewed through 2017. 2017! That is a lot of a boiled ham wearing a mustache saying things. That is just a lot more of that. That is four more years of a basted dinner roll giving advice. But, hey, people like it, so what the hell. If people want advice from a face carved out of solidified chili with a pipe cleaner under the "nose," then so be it. [Deadline]

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Charlotte Rampling has, rather bizarrely, just been cast in a recurring role on the next season of Dexter. She'll play a former Oprah disciple and non-registered psychologist who hectoringly counsels troubled people on national television. No, no, she'll play "a neuro-psychiatrist who specializes in working with young psychopaths and profiling criminals in unorthodox ways." Ha, so, not that far off, actually! That is pretty exciting. Charlotte Rampling is very good. Just a very good, very interesting actress. It will be interesting to see her in something like this. The show has also cast Sean Patrick Flanery, as in Sean Patrick Flanery from every college boy's favorite movie. Yes, Simply Irresistible. I'm kidding, I'm kidding. I mean Powder. Ha! No, Boondock Saints, obviously. College dudes love Boondock Saints. On Dexter, Flanery will be playing a private investigator. No joke. [Entertainment Weekly]

Oh dear. The Weinstein Company is putting together a sequel to the Oscar-winning martial arts movie-cum-spiritual inquest Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Only, Ang Lee isn't involved. No, the director is some other dude named Ronny Yu, whose credits include the 2003 César Award-honored feature Freddy vs. Jason and the Golden Bear-winner at the 1998 Berlin Film Festival, Bride of Chucky. (He also directed Jet Li's Fearless, what of it?) So this could be a disaster. It could be fine, too. But it's hard to imagine that it will come close to the soaring heights of the first one. But, that's probably not the point. The point is probably for The Weinstein Company to do some business in China. [Deadline]

Here is the first trailer for Inside Llewyn Davis, the new film from the Coen Brothers. The movie, about a folk musician in 1960s New York City, stars Oscar Isaac, who's shown musical chops before, along with Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, and, infuriatingly, Justin freakin' Timberlake. Hopefully he just sings the whole time. No acting from you, Justin! No acting from you ever again if we can help it. Anyway, forget him. This looks great. The Coen Brothers are great. Yay for this movie.

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