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Watch: First Clip Of John Cusack & Matthew McConaughey In Lee Daniels' 'The Paperboy'

by Oliver Lyttelton
May 10, 2012 8:02 AM
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The Paperboy Matthew McConaughey John Cusack

Of all the movies that start to unspool at the Cannes Film Festival next week, perhaps the biggest question mark for us is "The Paperboy." Based on the novel by Pete Dexter, it seems to be, on the surface at least, a crime procedural that might make a decent amount of money, but wouldn't necessarily be the kind of fare that traditionally ends up in the Official Selection at Cannes. The cast is led by a number of actors -- Matthew McConaughey, John Cusack, Zac Efron -- who in recent years have found critical acclaim elusive, along with a lead actress, Nicole Kidman, who's done great work of late, but also some pretty terrible work too. And director Lee Daniels made his debut with the laughable "Shadowboxer," and his directorial excesses came close to unbalancing his breakthrough "Precious."

But then again, all the actors involved have been making more interesting choices of late, and there was enough good in "Precious" to suggest that Daniels could knock it out of the park at some point. And tentatively, that's been backed up by the first clip from the film, which Rope of Silicon obtained overnight from the Cannes Film Festival site. Showing a prison meeting room confrontation between a Death Row con (Cusack) and the journalist (McConaughey) who's setting out to clear his name, this glimpse is not setting the world alight, but McConaughey seems to be in the same consistently fine form he's been in since "The Lincoln Lawyer," and Cusack seems to be enjoying himself with a drawly Southern accent. Daniels seems to be keeping the camera under control as well, which is a relief.

It's obviously only a brief clip, and we're still yet to be convinced that this has the heft to compete with the rest of the Cannes line-up. But it's a promising enough start for a film we certainly hope to see more of (and given that the clip is labelled #4, we imagine more footage will be revealed in the next few days). "The Paperboy" bows on the Croisette a little under two weeks from now, on Wednesday May 23rd, and we'll have our verdict on the finished film for you then.

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  • jake | May 16, 2012 11:20 PMReply

    Well, dahlings, I for one am a huge nicole kidman fan. One thing about her that no one seems to notice is that she is one of the few women who doesn't seem to whimper and pout when a man appears. Raised by devoted to equality parents, Kidman has a sense of herself that allows possession of the screen and that's now easy to do. Also none of you seem to have seen Dead Calm, which got her the work with Tom Cruise in that car race movie. And may I suggest you watch Far and Away again. An amazing movie and a great role for her. In fact, even when she plays a femme fatale, she never whimpers and pouts as an expression of feminine wiles. She looks great in The Paperboy so give her the credit due her.

  • Amy | May 12, 2012 8:17 AMReply

    It is the exact ridiculous argument in your post that points out the insult leveled at The Paperboy. The Paperboy is not a Zac Efron Film, it is a Lee Daniels film just like Cosmopolis is not a Robert Pattison film but a Cronenburg film. If you are going to use Efron to judge the film then do the same with the other "great" directors films in your post with B to Z level talented actors and actresses. Are all their actors ALWAYS gold? Honestly, what exactly has Pattison done to make people feel that Cosmopolis will be gold?

    And what if The Paperboy does not win the Palm D'or, I mean by August to December, does ANYONE care about the Palm D'or? really? People are already thinking about the Oscars by then and winning a Cannes award doesn't matter, it's great but in the scheme of things what does it mean until the next time the winner shows up at Cannes? Who won it last year?

  • DAFSDFSAD | May 13, 2012 11:44 PM

    Again, calm down. I didn't really mean anything by the Efron comment (not even that he's a bad actor), but I was talking about perceived heft, not actual heft, which I thought was obvious. The difference between Cosmopolis and The Paperboy: David Cronenberg > Lee Daniels.

  • JayP | May 12, 2012 2:13 PM

    Amy, you are an absolute genius! Please guide me to your blog because, frankly, I never ever want to miss any more of your bonafide & spectacular ruminations. Alas, you are probably too busy, because such outstanding insight (that you undoubtedly possess) is probably money in the bank. And judging from your comments you obviously are a multi-billioniare. Hence, I will just wait for your new book, which I am positively sure will blind and render me breathless as a result of the abundance of wisdom that you will so generously share, leaving me magnificently dazzled. Your Cannes-do spirit and unprecedented wisdom is certainly a refreshing change from all the moronic musings of the markedly uneducated bat-shits that share their brain-farts when clearly they should be seen and not heard, and perhaps finish high school! If it were not for your rare no-holds-barred resplendent audacity (which for you I'm sure comes effortlessly) I would probably chuck my computer. Please, when you get a break from your undeniably demanding schedule, continue to bless us all with your unprecedented cogency. The Lord has surely made you one of his favorites.

  • Oogle monster | May 12, 2012 10:04 AM

    Amy, you do realize you posted a "it doesn't matter what movie wins at Cannes" argument on a MOVIE site that dedicates a good chunk of its bandwidth to awards season? Wrong place, darling. Also to answer your last question- it was The Tree of Life :)

  • JayP | May 12, 2012 9:38 AM

    The Artist and Tree of Life! Oh I guess youare right; Cannes is irrelevant. Those two movies went nowhere.

  • Amy | May 10, 2012 7:28 PMReply

    Paperboy does not have as much heft as the other films to unspool at Cannes? are you kidding me? the book is out there, go and read it or flip through its pages to find out the emotional depth of the book. In fact, rather than assuming what it seems on the surface, why not find out about what it is really about. It is not as if it is an original screenplay, it is an adapted work.

    And as for Kidman and the cast plus the director being judged on their work as part of how to give merit to Paperboy, I did not realise that all the other actors and directors with films at Cannes have a perfect record. As for Cannes itself, is this not the same festival that opened with La Fan Fan Tulipe and screened every other awful Woody Allen film in the last few years?

    Paperboy is selected and nominated for the Palm D'Or, get over it.

  • dafsdfsad | May 10, 2012 8:09 PM

    Didn't they say the clip looked promising? Calm yo self. "is this not the same festival that opened with La Fan Fan Tulipe and screened every other awful Woody Allen film in the last few years?" Yes, out of competition. I don't see why it's so weird for someone to think that The Paperboy by Lee Daniels starring Zac Efron would not, on the surface, seem to have quite as much heft as, say, the new Kiarostami, Haneke, Resnais, Mungiu, Cronenberg, Hong, Reygadas, Seidl, Carax, Wes Anderson, John Hillcoat, or Andrew Dominik. Maybe it'll be the best film of the festival, who knows? I would bet you a million dollars it won't win the Palme d'Or, though. Good as it may be.

  • Jasmine Kelland | May 10, 2012 2:10 PMReply

    Wow, thoroughbred acting right here. Give me these two guys over Clooney and Pitt any day of the week.

  • Sharona | May 10, 2012 12:45 PMReply

    If the movie is anything like the book, this should be an excellent film. But another indie film, of course, which will get limited release and can only be seen in large cities/towns. Such a shame. So many really great independent films never even get seen by most of America because of this. I'd very much like to see this on the big screen but I'm probably like most of us, having to wait until it comes to Netflix or DVD-BlueRay

  • Mizzy | May 10, 2012 12:10 PMReply

    Yeah, she also has that upcoming movie with Chan-Wook Park.

  • dw | May 10, 2012 12:00 PMReply

    Anyway, I liked what I see in that clip. Cusack looks to be in fine form. Can't wait to see more.

  • dw | May 10, 2012 11:58 AMReply

    re: Kidman....there's no forgiving Trespass but I do think it's a little ridiculous that people always lump in what was basically a glorified cameo in Just Go With It to her shit list when, if you actually read the reviews, she was literally the only bright spot in it and was in, what, three scenes? Hardly a starring role. I also feel like The Invasion cannot be blamed on her as from literally every account on that film, it started out as something completely different and possibly unique (and originally directed by a director with "auteur" status) before the studio came in and ripped it to shreds. And yet its star gets the full blame. It's unfortunate.

    I agree that she is one of the most interesting actresses working today, and has remained that way since the 90s with To Die For. She's always one to watch out for and has been so for 15+ years. That's impressive.

  • Alex | May 10, 2012 10:18 AMReply

    Here are a random person's thoughts on the film career of Nicole Kidman:

    Trespass (Nic Cage+Millenium+Joel Schumacher=bound to be awful) and Just Go With It were both terrible decisions from the beginning. Both were announced shortly after Geyer Kosinski became her manager. Just Go With It seemed like a cynical attempt to boost her box-office cred by having an extended cameo in a film that was bound to do well no matter how bad it turned out.

    On the other hand, you can't really blame her for The Invasion. It was an interesting concept, co-starred Daniel Craig, was directed by the guy who had just directed Downfall. The fact that it turned it out shit is just bad luck. Bewitched was pretty bad but Nora Ephron films are generally quite watchable so can't blame her for that one. Even the idea of a Stepford Wives remake directed by Frank Oz sounds promising. Her problem seems to be that she has too much faith in the 'name' of a director, potentially overlooking the importance of a decent script.

    She also has too much faith in the consistency of 'auteur' directors, often appearing in the less good follow-ups to their critical breakthroughs - see Margot at the Wedding (still a great movie but not as good as The Squid and the Whale), Invasion (Olivier Hirejskjgkdfglsnjfdlnfgljkegnwe), Fur (not as good as Secretary), Nine (let's pretend Memoirs of a Geisha never happened), Australia (bad compared to Moulin Rouge).

    In spite of all of this, I can't think of too many of her contemporaries that have starred in as many quality and interesting films as she has. She has Moulin Rouge, The Hours, Rabbit Hole, Birth, To Die For, The Others, Margot and the Wedding, Dogville, Eyes Wide Shut and The Portrait of a Lady on her CV. Cate Blanchett and Kate Winslet are probably the only other ones around.

    Julia Roberts only has Erin Brockovich, Pretty Woman, Ocean's Eleven and Closer - none of those are objectively good. Charlize Theron has Monster, North Country (pretty bad), Ciderhouse Rules and Young Adult. Hilary Swank has Boys Don't Cry, Million Dollar Baby and that's about it. Renee Zellwegger has Jerry McGuire, Nurse Betty, Chicago, Bridget Jones, Cold Mountain (was average but she won an Oscar so I'll give it to her). Reese Witherspoon has Pleasantville, Walk the Line, Legally Blonde, Election and not much else. Angelina Jolie only really has Girl Interrupted. Gwyneth Paltrow has 7even, Shakespeare in Love, The Talented Mr Ripley, The Royal Tenenbaums and Two Lovers.

    In short, what I am saying is that for Nicole Kidman has made some terrible choices, but has probably left more of a mark than most of her contemporaries. I can't deny that she struggles to pull in a crowd, but then again she doesn't really seem to try anymore.

  • Oogle monster | May 12, 2012 10:06 AM

    Charlize has left an equally impressive mark, if not more. She goes for more interesting work than Kidman in my opinion and can actually move her forehead muscles... so yeah, there's that. But in all honesty, I like both actresses... I just wouldn't put Kidman ahead of Charlize or vice versa.

  • jesse | May 10, 2012 8:36 AMReply

    Kidman's career has always been about making interesting work with auteurs followed by mainstream fare - always. Check the 90's, the 00's. That's her career. She's not easy to classify as an actor because of her choices, her career is strange, it's an unpredictable one. At least it's not a boring one, as she rarely does the same thing twice.

  • Oliver Lyttelton | May 10, 2012 9:07 AM

    Yes, but the trouble is that all too often, she makes interesting work with auteurs followed by total crap. For every Margot at the Wedding or Rabbit Hole, it feels like there are two of Trespass, Just Go With It, Bewitched or The Invasion.

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