Glen Powell Teams With Richard Linklater For A (Sort Of) True Comedy Noir Thriller Romance That Hits The Target

Written by jen on September 05 2023

Hit Man debuts on Rotten Tomatoes with a perfect score!

Film Review from Venice:

DEADLINE – It was 22 years ago that Skip Hollandsworth wrote a Texas Monthly article about Gary Johnson, a school teacher who moonlights as a hit man who doesn’t kill people. Now if that doesn’t sound like the formula for a hit movie, you may understand why it has taken so long for Gary’s story to make it to the silver screen — so long in fact that its subject passed away before he could hit the red carpet of the Venice Film Festival, where the film is having its world premiere tonight.

Nevertheless, Glen Powell never forgot the story and has teamed with Richard Linklater to finally tell it, though it is only “loosely” based on the original article. Certain details in the screenplay co-written by Linklater and Powell are made up, and those are the details that actually help make this a hilarious winner, as well as perhaps Linklater’s most commercial movie since School of Rock. Its quirky true crime element also has a bit in common with Linklater’s Bernie, which starred Jack Black. The director seems drawn to this kind of offbeat tale, with some level of truth to it.

Powell plays the role of Gary Johnson, who works part-time for the New Orleans Police Department as a fake hit man, a master of disguise who with the unit assigned to him sets up lots of unsuspecting marks by agreeing to kill whatever friend, loved one, relative or other person they want offed. Wired and ready to pounce, Johnson simply gets them to say the magic words about wanting him to commit the murder and voila, they are arrested. The film’s opening half hour has Powell, almost in Peter Sellers mode, disguising himself in different getups to trap various targets who don’t know what they are getting into. In real life, Johnson nailed about 70 people desiring his services to kill on their behalf.

Where the movie takes its own course is when Johnson, using his fake name of Ron, becomes attracted to a beautiful woman named Madison (Adria Arjona), who is trying to hire him to kill her abusive husband. He actually shows some humanity by convincing her it would not be worth the risk to go through with it, much to the disdain of his co-workers in the van listening in and wondering why he let this one get away. That becomes obvious when he begins secretly dating her but under his pseudonym of Ron, now posing as the fake hit man in the pursuit of a new romance, but of course not letting on to his colleagues that he is doing this as it obviously would be unprofessional.

One of those colleagues, Jasper (Austin Amelio), is jealous of Gary as he wants the job and is only his #2. He begins to suspect that something is up, and if he can prove it he knows it will be the end of the line for Gary. It all becomes complicated when Madison’s jerk of a husband Ray (Evan Holtzman) confronts the pair as they are out on a date. Soon and coincidentally, the NOPD team gets a new customer. Guess who? Now it is Gary who has to turn up to take the job offer for a hit on his wife from Ray, who later turns up mysteriously dead. What has happened? Who did it? Suddenly, Hit Man has the elements of a noirish mystery.

Linklater knows just exactly how keep all the balls in the air of this complex story of a hit man who wasn’t a real hit man who just could become a hit man all in the name of love. Billy Wilder would have loved it because it is bordering on Double Indemnity territory. Powell is the perfect fit for this leading role, and clearly he knew it as he also writes and produces with Linklater. He makes all the disguises and changing circumstances seem effortless to navigate. Arjona is a beauty and plays off him nicely with good chemistry between the pair. Amelio is a hoot, the guy who we need to hate here. Retta as Claudette and Sanjay Rao as Phil make up the rest of Gary’s team and they all blend together.

Producers are Mike Blizzard, Linklater, Powell, Jason Bateman and Michael Costigan. The film next heads to the Toronto Film Festival and is a hot market item no doubt. This one is a sleeper and real crowd pleaser.

Photos: ‘Devotion’ Washington DC Screening

Written by jen on November 18 2022

Photos from the DC screening of Devotion at the United States Navy Memorial last night have been added into the photo gallery.

Events > 2022 > Nov 17 | “Devotion” Washington DC Special Screening at the United States Navy Memorial

Photos: ‘Devotion’ LA Premiere

Written by jen on November 15 2022

Photos from the red carpet premiere of Devotion in Los Angeles tonight have been added into the photo gallery.

Events > 2022 > Nov 15 | “Devotion” Los Angeles Premiere

Photos: ‘Devotion’ Premiere at 2022 Toronto International Film Festival

Written by jen on September 12 2022

Photos from the premiere of Devotion today in Toronto have been added into the photo gallery, along with a few portraits that have been released today, and a photo from the Deadline Studio at TIFF. I’ve also added a session from SXSW earlier this year as well.

Events > 2022 > Sep 11 | Toronto International Film Festival – Deadline Studio
Events > 2022 > Sep 12 | Toronto International Film Festival – “Devotion” Premiere
Photoshoots > Portraits > Session 012
Photoshoots > Portraits > Session 013

‘Devotion’ To Premiere at Toronto International Film Festival

Written by jen on July 29 2022

DEADLINE – The Toronto Film Festival is back this year.

Seriously, it’s really back.

Unlike last year, which was a significantly quieter festival with fewer stars and feature films at a count of 130, this year TIFF will see the celebratory closing down of King Street (sans streetcars), full-capacity maskless theaters, no proof of vaccinations, live press conferences and the return of concessions and orange shirt volunteers. It also will feature a robust curation of 260 feature films, of which Thursday the fest announced 18 galas and 45 special presentations.

In a fall and holiday corridor at the domestic box office that’s chock-a-block full of adult counterprogramming primed for awards season, distributors require a TIFF launch now more than ever in order to generate buzz and stoke older moviegoers who are still slow to return during the pandemic. A critically acclaimed film out of TIFF can propel a movie to cross over to wider audiences. Cases in point: the 2019 TIFF world premiere of Hustlers, which became Jennifer Lopez’s highest-grossing live-action movie stateside with $105 million, and even the 2018 North American premiere of A Star Is Born, which saw its way to a $215M-plus stateside gross, eight Oscars noms and one win.

“There are movies that will launch on the heels of the festival, that I hope adult audiences will see and revive that moviegoing habit. Thankfully that’s been done with the summer blockbusters. There’s a different kind of movie that launches in the fall, and we’re hoping audiences go and see them,” says TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey.

Outside of the already announced nine world premieres — including opening-night Netflix movie The Swimmers from Sally El Hosaini, Rian Johnson’s Netflix title Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Billy Eichner’s Bros, Clement Virgo’s Brother, Sanaa Lathan’s On the Come Up, the Harry Styles Amazon Prime pic My Policeman, Viola Davis starrer The Woman King, Steven Spielberg’s autobiopic The Fabelmans and Lena Dunham’s Catherine Called Birdy — there are works by Martin McDonagh (The Banshees of Inisherin); Sam Mendes (Empire of Light); Tyler Perry (A Jazzman’s Blues); Catherine Hardwicke (Prisoner’s Daughter); Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale starring a very transformed, and big, Brendan Fraser; Peter Farrelly (The Greatest Beer Run Ever); and Reginald Hudlin (the Sidney Pointier documentary Sidney) among several others.

Other star-studded world premieres include Jennifer Lawrence in the U.S. military veteran drama Causeway; Nicolas Cage in Butcher’s Crossing; Anna Kendrick in Alice, Darling; Jessica Chastain (who started her path to a Best Actress Oscar win last year at TIFF with The Eyes of Tammy Faye) and Eddie Redmayne in Netflix’s The Good Nurse; Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult and Ralph Fiennes in The Menu; Lily James and Emma Thompson in What’s Love Got To Do With It?; Jonathan Majors and Glen Powell in Devotion; Judi Dench in Sir Richard Eyre’s geriatric ward drama Allelujah; and Sally Hawkins and Steve Coogan in Stephen Frears’ The Lost King.

Last year, films competing for the coveted Oscar bellwether TIFF prize, the Grolsch People’s Choice Award, were required to screen at the festival in-person and online. This year those rules have changed as Bailey says “We are a fully in-person festival.”

In regards to the hybrid nature of this year’s 47th edition, “We will only have a small sampling of films available in Canada for at-home viewing online. The festival is happening in-person, in theaters, and that’s where we want to see everyone.”

“We’re excited to welcome some of the most celebrated figures in movies back to Toronto to present their Gala and Special Presentation films,” he continues. “With stories that span six continents and feature performances you just have to see, this lineup delivers the rich experiences we wait all year for. Cinema is alive. Red carpets are back. And the best audience in the world awaits them in Toronto.”

Typically, Spielberg’s awards-season entries go down to the wire in post before their release (remember 2005’s Munich?), but here’s the three-time Oscar winner has a November release roaring to go at TIFF. Not to mention, the filmmaker doesn’t always world premiere his movies at festivals; Ready Player One being the last title at SXSW. Talking about how TIFF notched the filmmaker’s first ever movie at the festival, Bailey explained, “We are longtime partners with Universal Pictures. We speak with them about what they have coming up in the fall — this was, of course, high on our list, and on their list as well.”

“When we saw the film, we responded in a strong emotional way. I sent a note, which was passed on to Steven, about our own reaction to the film, how moved we were by it, how it’s a beautiful love letter to films and movies,” he continues.

“Toronto is a place where the audience is paramount. The audience defines the shape of the festival, defines the films that everyone is speaking about and go on to further notice and elsewhere,” Bailey said. “The emotional reaction that we had when we saw it will be amplified when our audience sees it; that embrace will be stronger and fiercer than anywhere else.”

Talk about a festival that’s looking to be loud a year after Hollywood was reluctant to venture across the re-opened Canadian border: mega-performing artist Styles will reportedly be in Toronto for the world premiere of his love triangle movie My Policeman. However, curiously not receiving a North American premiere after its Venice Film Festival world premiere is the Styles-starring, Olivia Wilde-directed erotic drama Don’t Worry Darling. Sources have told Deadline that a situation didn’t want to be created at TIFF whereby a star such as Styles has competing projects pulling on his profile. Says Bailey about why Don’t Worry Darling is M.I.A. at TIFF, “Great question, not one for me, that’s one for Warner Bros,” further adding that in regards to Styles’ other title at the fest, “if you’re looking for edgy, you’re going to want to see My Policeman.”

With the vibrant return of an in-person festival, Bailey says that drive-in premieres, which were implemented during the pandemic, will be no longer.

“We had a two-year run with drive-ins and it was an exciting new thing for us to do, but there’s all kinds of new complications of showing movies to people who are sitting in their cars, as you can imagine, but for the moment, we’re done,” Bailey says.

Before the pandemic forced TIFF to go hybrid over the last two years, attendance in 2019 reached a reported 307,362 in its last in-person event. Bailey feels upbeat that with the increased offerings this year, audiences will indeed return to the fest.

“We are expecting full houses. We know from the ticket packages that we had going for the last few weeks, some of them have already gone off sale, but there’s a lot still available. There’s enough appetite for what we’ve seen so far that we’re expecting a big audience.”

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