In early April, Brooklyn-based cinematographer and filmmaker Jeremy Saulnier was en route to shooting a corporate video in Cleveland when he learned that his movie had been accepted to the Cannes Film Festival. It was quite the validation: To make the tense, violent crime drama "Blue Ruin," the first feature Saulnier directed since his scrappy horror-satire "Murder Party" in 2007, Saulnier relied on financing from his wife's retirement fund, his own Amex card, and a last-minute Kickstarter campaign. But Sundance had rejected him and he had started to think the movie might not get out there for another year. Instead, Cannes' esteemed Directors Fortnight section catapulted "Blue Ruin" to international attention at the biggest film gathering in the world.
Recalling that day, Saulnier said, "it made it a lot easier to go shoot B-roll for IBM, knowing what was in store for me."
A month and a half later, Saulnier sat down on the lawn of the Grand Hotel at Cannes and surveyed the scene. "I feel like a public school kid in private school. Everyone here is wearing blazers and jackets. Where I'm from, it's always hoodies and jeans. But I like this. It's fun to dress up."
Saulnier's wide-eyed reaction belies his serious creative ambition. After "Murder Party" won the top prize at the Slamdance Film Festival and received U.S. distribution with Magnolia Pictures, he grew frustrated with the film's minimal returns and returned to shooting commercials for a living. The wacky hipster comedy, in which a Williamsburg resident attends a macabre costume party and is taken captive by the killer hosts, only opened doors for similarly low-rent opportunities. "I got scripts sent my way, but most of them were garbage," he said.
As "Blue Ruin" proves, Saulnier's ambitions were bigger. In 2009, he shot the microbudget romance "You Hurt My Feelings," followed by Matthew Porterfield's widely acclaimed sleeper hit "Putty Hill" and Michael Tully's bizarre Sundance midnight entry "Septien." With newfound faith in his artistry, Saulnier saw another window to make a movie. While he produced "Murder Party" on a whimsical dash to complete a feature before his 30th birthday, "Blue Ruin" came together shortly before the birth of his third daughter. Saulnier figured that if he was going to increase his clout, he needed to act fast. The time had come to tell a more advanced story.
The gamble paid off: A tense, darkly comic and surprisingly esoteric revenge tale in the tradition of the Coen brothers' "Blood Simple," the new movie displays his serious capacity for complex genre cinema. Longtime collaborator Macon Blair, the slapstick figure at the center of "Murder Party," embodies the far more credibly tragic Dwight, a man drawn to concoct a thorny scheme that devolves into an absurd cavalcade of errors.
First seen donning a scraggly beard and living the solitary life of a hermit, the peripatetic loner suddenly learns that the man accused of murdering his parents 20 years ago has been released from prison. Before he's muttered more than a few dazed sentences, Dwight launches on a clumsy warpath that culminates in a superb bathroom showdown that's simultaneously shocking and weirdly awkward. Then he's on the run, with a horde of angry thugs on his tail, leading to several more ill-fated showdowns. Dwight's tribulations include a crossbow-wielding assassin, stalking an old trigger-happy pal in the hopes of strengthening his defenses, and performing a ghastly bit of self-surgery in a wry nod to "No Country For Old Men" -- the movie that Saulnier used to pitch "Blue Ruin" to its eventual producer, Anish Savjani. "I said it was 'No Country' except that the protagonist is a total idiot," Saulnier said.
Originally, he had different plans. His initial screenplay aimed for a more straightforward comedic tone and involved the exploits of a beach bum hired to assassinate someone's dog. Then Blair discovered reports of another production underway with a similar premise. That was Saulnier's wakeup call. "I decided, 'Forget these indie comedies, this milquetoast horseshit,'" he recalled. "We're going to make a revenge movie." But it would be his revenge movie, an off-kilter misadventure littered with irreverent flourishes and technical polish.
Though still a minimalist production that makes no effort to conceal the economy of its design -- Saulnier's shooting locations included the homes of Blair's cousin and Saulnier's mother -- "Blue Ruin" shows a degree of sophistication that unquestionably deepens his filmmaking cred. No longer will "Murder Party" have to be his only calling card. "That was basically a gonzo comedy midnight-type film," he said. "I pigeonholed myself there and couldn't get out of it. With 'Blue Ruin,' I tried very deliberately to shift away from it."
Indeed, the movie displays an ongoing commitment to a mature visual style and an extreme emotional range. Saulnier conveys the scenario with a combination of pathos and breakneck forward momentum that surprises with each new twist. While fearing for the safety of his equally downbeat sister (Amy Hargreaves), Dwight sets out on a doom-laden mission to face his foes even as he repeatedly stumbles. In any case, the body count steadily rises. "Hopefully, people fall in love with him as he blunders through this process," Saulnier said about Blair's character, whose mournful and blustered expressions take him out of the realm of your average rage-fueled gun nut.
Despite its hectic energy, "Blue Ruin" has a plethora of ideas driving its application of violence. That's partly the result of Saulnier's headspace when he was writing the movie last summer and turned on the news to learn of the Aurora shootings. "I was very conflicted," he said. "I didn't mean for the whole guns-in-America thing to come to the forefront."
Yet there's a burgeoning sense that guns, more than any specific individual, serve as the true villain in "Blue Ruin," their presence enabling an ongoing dispute only resolved with their elimination. "I love cinematic violence," Saulnier said. "When bear or lion cubs play, they play kill. When humans play murder in movies, it's totally fine. I think guns are awesome, but for some reason, Americans can't play nice with them." In other words, "Blue Ruin" is a cautionary tale, as Dwight himself acknowledges in a closing monologue.
The premise for the movie pleased enough Kickstarters for Saulnier to reach his $35,000 goal by the end of August, using the contributions of a few hundred people to finance the payroll for his crew. He finished shooting the movie just three weeks before submitting a rough cut to Sundance.
It may have worked out in his favor that the movie still required some work. Saulnier has essentially achieved an indie coup by making exactly the kind of movie he needed to expand his appeal. But while the creative control he maintained on "Blue Ruin" certainly left him satisfied, he expressed an eagerness about facing the challenges involved in bigger projects. "If I can pick and choose, I would love to take a huge step," he said. "No problem."
You need to see these. Artist Amanda Visell recently created a set of uber-cool wood figures for Nickelodeon and I am 8bit, "carving some love" for Ren and Stimpy. These limited edition Acrylic on hand-crafted wood-sculptures are very expensive - but so cool to look at. More information on the I am 8bit website.
Next up Disney! All one of a kind original sculptures based on classic Disney icons - hand painted, hand sculpted in custom box. Check them out on Amanda's Switcheroo site. Wood Idols are back!
It had to happen sooner or later. New Variety editor Claudia Eller has taken off the gloves and run a tough story about once rock-solid studio Warner Bros., which has been under management duress of late. Ex-L.A. Times staffer Eller is one of three editors in charge at the Penske-owned Variety; she runs film coverage, while Cynthia Littleton supervises TV and Andrew Wallenstein manages all things Digital.
Eller reports that movie studio chief Jeff Robinov threw a hissy fit when he didn't get the top job that went to rival Kevin Tsujihara instead. Given that TV chief Bruce Rosenblum decided to leave the studio altogether when he didn't land the post, it is presumably in the studio's interest to hang on to Robinov at this point, who reportedly apologized to his bosses and has been on his best behavior.
I've been worried about Robinov's longevity partly because he is one of the few studio chiefs who is willing to take bold risks on moviemakers. This is not a cookie cutter formula guy, although he makes his share of tentpole "Harry Potter"s (departed exec Alan Horn took credit for that series). Robinov recognizes the need to bet on exciting filmmakers like David O. Russell ("Three Kings"), Christopher Nolan ("Insomnia" led to "Batman Returns" and other tentpoles), the Wachowskis ("The Matrix" series paid off, but "V for Vendetta," "Speed Racer" and "Cloud Atlas" did not), Spike Jonze (who got extra time and money to fix "Where the wild Things Are"), Ben Affleck (Robinov is the one studio head who saw the actor's directing talent in "Gone Baby Gone," which yielded "The Town" and Oscar-winning "Argo") and most recently, Baz Luhrmann, whose "The Great Gatsby" may have been a turbulent ride but turned out to be a commercial hit. Warners made the right call to wait until May to release it.
Robinov seems to have thrived with temperate and experienced executive Alan Horn at his side, and he seems to have been struggling more since Horn's departure, with a series of recent flops listed by Eller, including “Gangster Squad” (delayed after the Aurora shootings), New Line's $200-million “Jack the Giant Slayer” and the less expensive magic movie “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone."
But not only did Warners score with "Argo" ($221 million worldwide) and "The Hobbit" ($303 million worldwide), but the studio has enjoyed a sudden turnaround in its fortunes, which Eller did not mention, from Brian Helgeland's "42" ($86 million domestic) to "Gatsby." The studio is currently ranked third among the studios for market share, and has high expectations for the summer for Nolan-supervised "Man of Steel," which has excellent buzz, and Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim," among other things.
Warners needs Robinov. They already have a new chief executive learning his job and a TV department in turmoil. The last thing they should do is to rock the movie division as well--management changes always take a few years to shake out. What Robinov should recognize is that he could use a sober-minded executive to help him shoulder his massive responsibilities and steer him straight. That's Tsujihara.
At Cannes earlier today, Harvey Weinstein unveiled The Weinstein Company's 2013 lineup of upcoming films, to attendees, and one of the films on the company's slate is Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Idris Elba's Nelson Mandela biopic, directed by Justin Chadwick, which highlights Mandela's early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison.
S&A isn't at Cannes this year, so we obviously weren't present for the showcase. But thankfully Twitch Film was and they published a write-up of the event, which included trailers for each.
So they got to see the first trailer for Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, and seem impressed by it:
Perhaps the most compelling trailer was the two-and-a-half minutes put together from Justin Chadwick's upcoming Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom. "This is not your dad's HBO Mandela film," quipped Harvey after the trailer ran. I honestly have no idea what that means, but the film, starring Idris Elba as the South African leader, did look to be a very well executed period piece and plenty exciting. The movie is dated for November 29 and will surely be in the awards picture if it lives up to the potential seen today.
The trailer shown should be online soon we hope. It's a film that we've seen absolutely nothing of, since it's all been under-wraps.
Also unveiled for the first time was a poster for the film, which you can see below.
Naomie Harris co-stars as Winnie Mandela in a film that producers have said will have an "epic sweep," from a script written by Gladiator, Shadowlands and Les Miserables writer, William Nicholson.
The top stories of the week from TOH!
Finally from our roundup of tonight’s Weinstein Company 2013 preview reel (you can read about “The Immigrant” here and the rest of the movies teased here), and well, we’ve kind of saved the best for last. Or at least, the best received on the night. Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Only God Forgives” is without a doubt one of the most hotly anticipated movies playing at this Cannes Festival, promising to send a jolt of that amoral, violent, genre cool he does so well surging through a lineup that’s a little heavy on the “serious adult drama” side otherwise. And the scene selected to play, pretty much in its entirety tonight, entirely justified that hype, especially because it came from a slightly unexpected direction. It’s not Ryan Gosling handing out or receiving a beatdown, it’s not a neon-soaked street scene of gritty glamor, it’s actually a dinner scene, in which Gosling’s Julian is at the table with his girlfriend (Yayaying Ratha Phongam) and his mother Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas). The scene, however, totally belongs to Scott Thomas and she fucking kills it.
It starts with an acidic, foulmouthed diatribe at the pretty Thai girlfriend, sparked when Crystal asks what she does, and the girl replies “I’m an entertainer.” “Hm and how many cocks can you entertain in that cute little cum dumpster of yours?” snarls Crystal. She’s not your regular apple-pie and apron type of mom, it would seem. Having ordered for everyone at the table (“… and she’ll have a salad. With the dressing on the side,” she patronizes) she then launches into a vicious monologue which basically skewers the notion of the grieving mother, to the increasingly shocked silence of the girlfriend, and the mute brooding watchfulness of Gosling’s Julian.
The scene illuminates a little of the family dynamic that existed between Julian, his now deceased brother and their mother, with Crystal basically excoriating Julian for failing to measure up to his brother, in metaphorical, but also literal terms, claiming that in part Julian’s jealousy is rooted in the fact that his brother’s cock was bigger. Not that Julian’s was small, but his was “enormous.” The verbal/sexual hatefulness portion of her monologue spent, she goes on to spit bitterly “one thing I do know, if the tables were turned your brother would get out there and bring me [the killer]’s head on a platter.” How much his mother’s scorn motivates his the revenge story that we’re told propels the rest of the film we can’t tell from Gosling’s impassive reaction here, but the scene played like gangbusters, with every barb from the against-type Scott Thomas landing and eliciting shocked laughter, and a round of applause breaking out at the end of the clip, for the first and only time during the showreel.
Of course, it also looked stunning, despite being essentially a dialogue scene in a single interior setting, there are still the slick dark surfaces set off by neon blues and pinks that we recognise as Refn’s recent aesthetic -- in fact it seems extended to the nth degree here, with the stylization pushed even further than in “Drive.”
It’s only one scene, and one scene does not a movie make, but in giving us something that both meets our expectations (in crisp, slick visuals, dark motivations and spartan Gosling performance) and also confounds and surpasses them (we really hope there’s a lot more of Crystal...), we have to say we could not possibly be looking forward to next Wednesday morning, when the film screens for press, any more. Watch the scene below.
Editor Graydon Carter, 63, has been a fixture at Vanity Fair since 1992. Keith Kelly reports that he's having a bumpy time renegotiating his contract, which is up in July, with Conde Nast CEO Charles Townsend, rather than S.I. Newhouse.
Carter has enjoyed his expansive lifestyle, riding the magazine through more heady times, from annual Oscar and Cannes bashes and power lists to dabbling in documentary filmmaking. But things are tighter now, and I would caution Carter to remember the post-Conde Nast career of Tina Brown. While she did well at Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, Harvey Weinstein lured her away to run Talk Magazine, which flopped; she then tried television punditry, wrote bestselling bio "The Diana Chronicles," and finally landed at The Daily Beast and Newsweek.
If Carter's time has come, his replacements are lining up. Kelly cites star New York editor Adam Moss, who is probably the most gifted editor of his generation, having never failed to pursue excellence, from Esquire and Seven Days to The New York Times Magazine. Also in the queue are Janice Min, who pushed both Us Magazine and The Hollywood Reporter to new heights, and British GQ editor Dylan Jones.
In other media changes, another venerable publication, The Village Voice, is laying off three well-paid name stars: 30-year-veteran gossip columnist Michael Musto, food critic Robert Sietsema and theater critic Michael Feingold. All will land on their feet. But The Voice is no longer what it once was.
More lady news coming out of Cannes.
Uma Thurman will star as controversial anti-gay activist Anita Bryant in Anita. Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman will direct from a screenplay by Chad Hodge. The film follows the singer and orange juice spokeswoman who, after allowing a gay screenwriter into her home, is forced to confront her past as an anti-gay Christian crusader who successfully campaigned to overturn a gay rights law in Florida and whose polarizing views destroyed her show biz career in the process. (via Deadline)
Image Entertainment has acquired all U.S. rights to Winnie Mandela at the 2013 Cannes International Film Festival. The film is an adaptation of Anne Marie du Preez Bezdrob's biography Winnie Mandela: A Life and is written and directed by Darrell J. Roodt. Winnie Mandela stars Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls; Sex in the City) and Academy Award nominee Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow; Red Tails; Iron Man) and will be released in theaters Fall 2013.
Winnie Mandela explores the personal and political life of the wife of renowned activist and former South African President, Nelson Mandela (Terrence Howard). The film tells the compelling story of one woman’s journey as she fights for the freedom of the man she loves and for the freedom of her people during the Apartheid era. Winnie Mandela depicts the struggle to keep the Mandela dream alive amidst her husband’s life imprisonment, her own time in solitary confinement, and her battle to overcome controversies that followed her through the years. (via Deadline)
The Weinstein Co. has inked a deal for Stephen Frears’ Philomena paying $6.5 million for the U.S., Canada and Spain. The film stars Judi Dench as Philomena Lee, an Irish woman who searches for her son that she was forced to give up for adoption as a teenager, and is based on BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith's 2009 book, "The Lost Child of Philomena Lee." (via Hollywood Reporter)
Taking place tomorrow, Saturday, May 18th, starting at 4:30pm, the Maysles Cinema and United Muslim Alliance presents the 4th Annual Malcolm X On Film & Panel Discussion in celebration of the 88th birthday of Malcolm X.Then & Now, The Legacy of Malcolm X-El Hajj Malik El Shabazz Lives On
Co-sponsored by the People's Survival Program
Malcolm X Book/Video and Art Fair
Malcolm X Speaks: The Speeches of Malcolm X
1997, color & B/W 41 min.
Malcolm's speeches from 1963-1965 including several legendary Harlem speeches such as "The Ballot Or The Bullet" and "By Any Means Necessary."
Autobiography Of Malcolm X: His Own Story As It Really Happened
Dir. Marvin Worth, 1972, color & B/W 92 min.
Adapted for the screen from the autobiography he wrote with Alex Haley's assistance, Malcolm X (released two decades before the Spike Lee film Malcolm X) is a stirring portrait of the man whose life has become a rallying cry for millions. Includes rare footage of his speeches and interviews as well as newsreel footage. Narrated by James Earl Jones with Martin Luther King, Betty Shabazz, Ossie Davis, Muhammad Ali, Jesse Jackson, Rap Brown, Angela Davis and many more.
8:30PM - The Malcolm X Legacy Panel
Prof. James Smalls, Malcolm X Pilgrimage Collective/OAAU
Sis. Dequi Kioni Sadiki, Malcolm X Commemoration Committee
Bro. Mark Harding, Malcolm X- Dr. Betty Shabazz Cultural/Educational Center
Bro. Omowale Clay, Malcolm X Celebration Committee/Dec.12th Movement
Dr. Rosalind Jefferies, Association for Study of Classical African Civilizations & The National Conference of Artists
Sis. Autumn Marie, (Moderator), Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
R.I.P. Malcolm Shabazz (1984-2013), Malcolm X's grandson and friend of the Maysles Cinema.
It's a good time to be Kevin Feige. The producer is responsible for the output of Marvel Studios, and if the third-biggest-film-in-history success of "The Avengers" wasn't enough, "Iron Man 3" looks like it'll come close to equalling it, having just crossed the billion-dollar mark at the box office, and still on track to take much, much more.
It's about as strong a start to the Phase Two of Marvel movies as Feige could hope for, and bodes well for the rest of the company slate leading up to "The Avengers 2" -- namely "Thor: The Dark World," "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "Guardians Of The Galaxy." But already Feige is looking to the future, and he sat down with EW to discuss what might be included in the company's Phase Three plans, which will follow "The Avengers 2" in the summer of 2015.
The only confirmed picture, and hitting theaters on November 6th 2015, is Edgar Wright's long-awaited "Ant-Man," which will have been in the works for nearly a decade by the time it hits theaters. As it turns out, the film could have been a part of Phase Two, or even Phase One, but Wright wanted to hold out, telling EW “I actually made the choice to make 'Scott Pilgrim' and 'The World’s End' before this one. And 'Ant-Man' is such a big special-effects film, it’s almost like the further it goes on, the easier it is to do, in a way." Wright and Feige aren't spilling too many beans here, but we'd be surprised if we didn't see a big announcement -- casting, perhaps? -- at Comic-Con this year. But the rest? Here's the breakdown.
"Inhumans & "Dr. Strange" Strong Possibilities For Phase 3
"Doctor Strange" has been in a quiet form of development for a while, but Feige talks the Sorceror Supreme up, saying "I would love Strange to be a part of that only because he’s a great character. He’s a great standalone character... There’s a whole supernatural/magic alternate dimension going on in the Marvel comics that we haven’t ever touched on. So I think that’s exciting."
The X-Men Aren't The Only Uncanny Heroes
Meanwhile, the "Inhumans," a superteam made up of an alien royal family trapped on an abandoned world, haven't been part of discussion so far, but Feige is enthusiastic about them, saying, and suggests that the upcoming weirdness of "Guardians Of The Galaxy" could help pave the way, saying "all the craziness that comes with Inhumans, we’ve done in the other movies already. But this would have some of the social drama that we haven’t really done yet. [Fox’s] X-Men, obviously, has been touching on that stuff for a while.” Could they be Phase Three's answer to 'Guardians?' It sounds like it's a definite possibility.
The Hulk Could Smash Again
Also conceivable for the next stage is a solo "Hulk" movie. Speculation's gone back forth after Joss Whedon made the tricky-to-translate character a fan favorite in "The Avengers 2." Mark Ruffalo recently expressed worry that he'd soon be too old for the character, but Feige dismisses it, saying "If anyone could be a great 55-year-old Hulk, it’s Mark so I’m not worried about that." Feige admits that they're talking about the movie, though there's no script in the works. But he again rules out the rumored idea that the "Planet Hulk' storyline could be the source material, saying "What we’re excited about exploring and expanding is Mark — and Banner’s not in Planet Hulk at all. The fun of the Hulk is his interaction with humans.”
"Runaways" May Have Died On The Vine
But there's a few other properties that you shouldn't be holding your breath for. Brian K Vaughan's excellent teen-centric series "Runaways" was part of Marvel's early plans pre-"Avengers," but subsequently stalled, and Feige admits that it's a tricky project to give the greenlight to, saying "The way the business is working now, you either have really inexpensive, sort of surprise movies that can come out and be hits, but don’t cost much. Or you have the big giant summer blockbusters that really swing for the fences. Right now, we’re just swinging for the fences every time. 'Runaways' sort of falls in between those, in a way. We just haven’t found where or how to do it… right now.” Meanwhile, he pretty much rules out the idea of what-if scenarios like fan-favorite "Marvel Zombies," saying “Are you going to draw figures in chalk with your 3-year-old with Hulk eating someone? Or Captain America with his brains coming out of the top of his head? Probably not,”
"Daredevil & Titles Reacquired Back From Fox & Sony May Have To Wait
Likely for similar reasons (i.e, they don't appeal much to kids), darker properties like "Daredevil," "Blade," "Punisher" and "Ghost Rider," the rights to which all recently reverted to Marvel, don't seem to be in a rush to get on screen, with Feige saying "I think we need to find the right time." So, it seems like a possible line-up for Phase Three would include "Ant-Man," "Doctor Strange," "Inhumans" and "Hulk," but what about the other "Avengers." We're sure that third "Thor" and "Captain America" movies (and a second 'Guardians') are possibilities, as Marvel won't want to go into Phase Three with all unknown quantities, but Robert Downey Jr is still being cagey about a possible "Iron Man 4." As such, Feige is preparing fans for the possibility that they'll have to recast at some point, saying "I believe there will be a fourth Iron Man film and a fifth and a sixth and a 10th and a 20th. "I see no reason why Tony Stark can’t be as evergreen as James Bond. Or Batman for that matter. Or Spider-Man. I think Iron Man is a character just like that.”
Scarlett Witch & Quicksilver Confirmed For "Avengers 2."
Speaking of the "Avengers," Joss Whedon's been updating IGN about the film's sequel, and confirms that regardless of the outcome of Downey's negotiations, and *SPOILERS* the fact that he initiates the 'Clean Slate' protocol at the end of "Iron Man 3," Tony Stark is part of his plans for the movie. He tells the site, "I feel like in 'Iron Man 3,' even though he said, ‘I’ve changed' -- he blew up his remote suits, but I don’t think anybody thinks he doesn’t have one anymore. The question is, if The Avengers are called, does he show up? And the answer is, ‘Yes!’” *END SPOILERS*
Whedon also confirms recent reports that two new characters, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch -- usually associated with the "X-Men" universe, but able to be used by Marvel and Fox due to some rights complications -- are going to be part of the movie. The mutants -- one who has lightning speed, the other with the power to control reality -- seem to be antagonists in the film, at least at first, according to Whedon, who says "They’re interesting to me because they sort of represent the part of the world that wouldn’t necessarily agree with The Avengers. So they’re not there to make things easier. I’m not putting any characters in the movie that will make things easier.” Could they be the film's Big Bads, in conjunction with Thanos? We'll find out when "The Avengers 2" opens on May 1st, 2015. And head over to EW for much more from Feige.
It’s a testament to the talents of Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling -- the writer/director and lead star of the Sundance hit, "The Sound of My Voice" -- that their indie thriller doesn’t look too out of place with its competition, especially during the crowded months of summer. The stylish thriller hits theaters at the end of the month, and a dozen new photos have arrived online via Fox Searchlight.
Directed by Batmanglij and co-written with Marling once again, the film follows a private intelligence firm operative who infiltrates an anarchist organization led by Alexander Skarsgard, only to find that things are more complicated than they seem. Our review from Sundance called it “stylish and sincere” and that it was “a terrific companion piece for anyone who enjoyed 'Sound Of My Voice.' "
You’ll be able to check out the film for yourself when it opens in limited release on May 31st. Check out the pictures, which include a peek behind-the-scenes, below.
"Star Trek Into Darkness" opened Thursday. Directed by J.J. Abrams. Starring Chris Pine, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, and Anton Yelchin. Our review: "For the first hour or so, it's just as enjoyable as the original, but by the time the credits roll, there's a sense that you're undernourished and unsatisfied; you've been on a decent ride, but not one that really adds up to anything by the time you're done. 'Star Trek Into Darkness' is a long, long way from a disaster, but it's hard not to feel that Abrams' mystery box turned out to be a bit empty this time out." Metacritic: 73 Rotten Tomatoes: 87% The Playlist: C+
"Black Rock." Directed by and starring Katie Aselton. Also starring Kate Bosworth, Lake Bell, Will Bouvier, Jay Paulson, and Anselm Richardson. Our review: "Some more strident and narrow-minded horror fanatics -- not fans, but fanatics -- will possibly find 'Black Rock' too talky, or not violent enough...but if you like your scares smart, and like them to happen to people you actually care about, then Aselton's island of friendship and fury is a nice place to visit." MC: 46 RT: 39% PL: B-
"Augustine." Directed by Alice Winocour. Starring Vincent Lindon, Soko, Chiara Mastroianni, and Olivier Rabourdin. A contemporary perspective infuses this evocatively acted drama about a Victorian Era psychoanalyst and his female patient. MC: 79 RT: 87%
"State 194." Directed by Dan Setton. The facts about Palestine's struggle for statehood are presented clearly enough, employing a more local framework than any previous coverage. However, the doc suffers from numerous digressions that don't contribute enough to the central message. MC: 61 RT: no score yet
"Old Dog" opened Wednesday. Directed by Pema Tseden. Starring Drolma Kyab, Lochey, Tamdrin Tso, Yanbum Gyal. Our review: "'Old Dog' is a true gem and the mark of an especially skilled director -- mark our words, Pema Tseden is a name you'll be seeing in contention for the Palme d'Or in the not-too-distant future." MC: 74 RT: n/a PL: A
Films About Women Opening This Weekend
Black Rock - Directed by Katie Aselton
Black Rock is every woman's worst nightmare. You go out on an adventure with friends and then things go horribly wrong and you are running for your life. Katie Aselton gives us a film where the women Lake Bell, Kate Bosworth and Aselton herself need to work together to get out of a horrible situation. They have nothing but their wits and guts and life long relationships to come out of what should have been a fun camping trip alive. A major triumph of girl power. I'd take any of those women camping with me. (Melissa Silverstein)
Frances Ha - Co-Written by Greta Gerwig
"Remember when life was like that?" "It still kind of is."
This was an exchange I overheard after seeing Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha. Two people, no longer in their twenties, one nostalgically ruminating on what we had just seen, and one questioning that maybe that chaos, uncertainty and romantic possibility about life isn't just a "twentysomething" thing.
Co-written by Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, Frances Ha follows Frances (Gerwig), a 27-year-old dancer who really wants move beyond her dancing apprenticeship into the company. She lives with her best friend, Sophie (Mickey Sumner) and the two are inseparable, until they aren't. Frances has her dreams yet doesn't know if they are even based in reality or how to make them so.
Frances's life is steeped in uncertainty--about her career, romantic options even about where she's living. Gerwig and Baumbach smartly filter Frances's struggle through a very class conscious lens--looking at her aimless peers who may be in the same boat as her but clearly have the trust-fund means to not have to overthink it. While Frances Ha is about a woman trying to figure out her life, at the movie's core is romance -- because the one thing that Frances is certain of is her feelings for Sophie.
The film is a love letter to female friendships -- from the opening montage filled with a weekend of spending time with your person -- beers on a balcony, shared cigarettes, board games and falling asleep together to Netflix. It captures those heady, love-filled moments but doesn't shy away from the painful ones when life and our own selfishness gets in the way. (Kerensa Cadenas)
The English Teacher - Co-Written by Stacy Chariton
Linda Sinclair (Julianne Moore) is a forty-year-old unmarried high school English teacher in the small town of Kingston, Pennsylvania. Linda's simple life turns an unexpected page when former star pupil Jason Sherwood (Michael Angarano) returns to Kingston after trying to make it as a playwright in New York. Now in his 20s, Jason is on the verge of abandoning art, pressured by his overbearing father. Linda can't stand the thought of Jason giving up on his dreams so she decides to mount his play. As Linda, now well out of her normal comfort zone, takes further risks in life and love, the stage is set for highly comic downfall. (From the press materials)
Augustine - Directed by Alice Winocour
Augustine, the debut feature film from French writer-director Alice Winocour, nominated for a 2013 Cesar for Best First Feature, an examination of the real case story and unusual relationship between Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot, the pioneering 19th century French neurologist - whom Sigmund Freud studied under - and his star teenage patient, the illiterate kitchen maid Augustine, prone to spectacular fits of "hysteria." (From the press materials)
Please Kill Mr. Know It All - Co-Directed by Sandra Feldman
An anonymous advice columnist finds herself caught in an unlikely romance with the man who has been hired to kill her alter ego. (Canadian release)
Films About Women Currently Playing
Venus and Serena - Directed by Maiken Baird and Michelle Major (doc)
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Films Directed by Women Currently Playing
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Films Written by Women Currently Playing
Arthur Newman - Written by Becky Johnston
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Films By and About Women on DVD/On Demand
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The call for submissions for the 2013 edition of the trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff), which takes place from September 18 to October 1, will close on May 31, and filmmakers who wish to submit a film are urged to do so no later than that date.
The ttff seeks to highlight excellence in filmmaking through the exhibition of dramatic, documentary and experimental feature and short films made in T&T, the Caribbean and its diaspora. The Festival therefore accepts submissions from Caribbean filmmakers, Caribbean filmmakers in the diaspora, and international filmmakers with films from or about the Caribbean or its diaspora.
Submissions must have been produced after January 1, 2011.
The Festival screens short films (under 60 minutes) and features (60 minutes and over) in digital, Blu-ray and 35mm formats. The festival also screens music videos of any length.
Films screened in competition are eligible for one or several of the following jury prizes: best narrative feature film (US$4,000); best documentary feature film (US$4,000); best narrative short film (US$1,000); best documentary short film (US$1,000); best T&T narrative feature film (TT$10,000); best T&T documentary feature film (TT$10,000); best T&T narrative short film (TT$5,000); best T&T documentary short film (TT$5,000); and best Caribbean film by an international filmmaker (US$1,000).
There are also four people’s choice awards, for best dramatic feature, best documentary feature, best short film and best music video, each worth TT$5,000.
All submissions must be made online, via www.withoutabox.com, trinidad+tobago film festival.
There is no submission fee.
For more information, email email@example.com.
The ttff, which is in its eighth year, is presented by Flow and receives leading sponsorship from RBC Royal Bank, bpTT and the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company Limited.
The intriguing documentary opens today at New York's Quad Cinema (34 W 13th Street) on May 17 for a week-long engagement, with two shows daily at 1pm and 7pm. For tickets and more information go to the film's web page at http://www.re-emergingfilm.com.
Directed by Jeff Lieberman, journalist, producer and documentary filmmaker, RE-EMERGING: The Jews of Nigeria documents the lives of Igbo people who have embraced Judaism as a part of their legacy, and who believe Igbos are really descendants of Israelites.
The doc follows Sam, now known as Shmuel, on his quest for knowledge about Igbo identity and history - from Igbos' roots in Israel, to their journey during the Atlantic Slave Trade, to the Nigerian-Biafran War.
The doc aims to reveal a rich Igbo history unbeknownst to African descendants all over the world, especially African Americans, many of whom are of Igbo ancestry.
Here's more about the film:
"RE-EMERGING: The Jews of Nigeria" is a journey into the heart of Igboland and into the lives and culture of the Igbo people. The film introduces the world to the many synagogues that dot the land, and a handful of passionate, committed, and diverse characters -- each striving to fulfill their historical legacy with few resources and unbeknownst to most of the world. Individual stories are woven together with key facets of history, tracing the Igbo from Biblical times up to the brutal 1960s Biafran War, which killed over 1 million Igbo. A wide range of American academics help detail this history, including shedding new light on the Igbo origins of thousands of slaves captured during the Atlantic Slave Trade and brought to American shores. The film delves into this history and travels to the southeast coast of Georgia, where locals still speak of the Igbo spirit alive and well at a riverbed called Ibo Landing.
Watch the trailer below:
The "Shamasneh Case," as explained by The Times of Israel blogger Moriel Rothman, concerns a family who was evicted from their home in the town of Sheikh Jarrah, which is depicted in "My Neighborhood," in 2009 along with three other families. Demonstrations in Israel have broken out over the case, but it's likely that the family's fate will be further relayed by more legal proceedings. In the mean time, hundreds of thousands of Israelis now live in Jewish settlements, which are considered illegal or illegitimate by the international community, while several thousand settlers live in unauthorized outposts that Israel has promised to dismantle, but has not.
Bacha, who directed the award-winning doc "Budrus," which showcased Israeli and various Palestinian activists working together to fight the construction of a "security wall" being built in the town, will be on hand for a special screening of the film on Monday night.
Bacha captures some amazingly visceral footage in "My Neighbourhood" of the invasion and evacuation of Palestinian families. In interviews, Bacha has revealed that much of the footage was captured on the cellphones of ordinary citizens.
Unfortunately, it's not footage that we see much on the Nightly news. Bacha has said that the troubling images we see in "Budrus" and "My Neighbourhood" are happening across Israel.
"We choose the stories that journalists are not telling," she told the Wall Street Journal Online. "We take a lot of pride in taking our films to those portrayed in film. We have this conversation with the media: look at these stories, and say why are they not part of your coverage, and in the community we say we are telling your stories. In that sense we have had a significant impact on this dialogue. It’s small."
"Are we a few steps from a solution? No way, but throughout history there are moments when people believed nothing would ever be solved. In South Africa, I talked to people about the Apartheid Movement who didn’t believe that something would change in their lifetime, but said that this is the right thing do. During the Civil Rights movement those in the beginning did not know and most were sure that nothing would change in their lifetime regarding their condition. Yet they knew this was the correct thing do. These are the people we want to highlight and honor them."
Earlier this week we shared a few clips from Jim Mickel’s well-regarded horror remake “We Are What We Are,” which is currently having a showing at this year’s Cannes. Today brings another clip to us by way of Deadline and some surprising news about the future of this festival favorite.
“We Are What We Are” explores the dynamics of a family of cannibals as they try and band together after being struck by tragedy. The clip, which you can watch below, presents a quiet moment between sisters Iris and Rose Parker. While the film delves into the dark world of cannibalism, the clip presented here highlights some of the more relatable family drama.
And while we wait to see how the film is received at Cannes, Memento Film International seems to have a lot of faith in the project, revealing to Screen Daily that they had launched sales on a prequel and sequel to the upcoming film.
AJ Annila (Jade Warrior) has been attached to direct the prequel, entitled “What We Were,” which will explore how the Parker parents, Frank and Emma, came to be a couple and what led to their cannibalistic tendencies. The film will mark AJ’s first English-language film. Nick Damici, who worked on the remake “We Are What We Are,” will draft the script for the prequel.
Meanwhile Jorge Michel Grau, who directed the original Mexican version of “We Are What We Are,” has signed on to helm the sequel. It’s a little early to talk about what the sequel will be about since the current film is still playing the festival circuit; however, they did share that it’ll start shooting in 2014.
Long-gestating JFK assassination conspiracy film "Legacy of Secrecy" is reportedly finally coming to fruition, with director David O. Russell at the helm. First announced in 2010 by Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way banner, the film centers on FBI informant Jack Laningham and Mafia kingpin Carlos Marcello (to be played by Robert De Niro) who confided to Laningham that he ordered the hit on Kennedy.
No specific word on who would play Laningham, but the Playlist understandably presumes it would be DiCaprio. The film is based on the book by Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann, and adapting it has long been a passion project for DiCaprio's father, George.
November of this year marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination, and a number of JFK-oriented projects have wheels spinning. "Parkland," starring a sprawling cast including Paul Giamatti, Jacki Weaver and Billy Bob Thornton, and produced by Tom Hanks, went into production in January, and centers on the chaotic events at Dallas' Parkland Hospital on the day of the president's shooting.
Meanwhile, Cate Blanchett has just joined the cast of David Mamet's "Blackbird," currently being shopped to foreign buyers at Cannes, which is a contemporary-set thriller following a woman who discovers her father played a role in the conspiracy.
Ahead of its first Cannes market screening, Chicago-based Music Box Films has picked up all US and Canadian rights to Arnaud des Pallières' competition title "Michael Kohlhaas," starring Mads Mikkelsen and adapted from the 1811 Heinrich von Kleist classic Romantic novel. Films du Losange is selling the film, which is Des Pallières' fourth feature, at Cannes.
Des Pallières describes the film as:
"set in a period where an impoverished aristocracy precariously still clings to feudal privileges passed down since the Middle Ages, while in the towns, a new world is taking shape. The townspeople are educated, often wealthy, but politically almost powerless. Kohlhaas, a horse merchant, suffers an injustice at the hands of a young baron and demands his rights, but society lets him down. He reacts by suddenly, brutally declaring war on society. He chooses the path of violence, with a razor-sharp sense of justice as his only moral guideline."
Produced by Les Films d'Ici ("Waltz with Bashir," "To Be and To Have") "Michael Kohlhaas" is Des Pallières' first film to have US distribution. Mikkelsen, who won best actor at Cannes for "The Hunt" and starred in Denmark's Oscar nominated "A Royal Affair," is joined by Bruno Ganz ("Downfall"), Dennis Lavant ("Holy Motors"), and Sergi López ("Pan's Labyrinth"). Von Kliest's book was previously adapted for film in 1969 by Volker Schlöndorff, and inspired E.L. Doctorow's "Ragtime."
"It’s rare to see such a smart period action drama, and one that deals with themes that still resonate," says Music Box Managing Director Edward Arentz. "It also doesn't hurt to have such a compelling lead in Mads Mikkelsen. We expect 'Kohlhaas' to perform strongly on all platforms."
Last year’s Films du Losange Cannes Competition entry "Amour" went on to win the Palm d'Or and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Founded in 2007, Music Box Films is one of the few arthouse distributors that releases multiple foreign films a year, along with Sony Pictures Classics, Weinstein Co., IFC and Magnolia. On its 2013 release slate are: Werner Herzog and Dmitry Vasyukov's "Happy People: A Year at the Taiga," Roger Michell's "Le Weekend," starring Jim Broadbent, and two World War II films, Cate Shortland's "Lore" and German "Generation War."
Past Music Box releases include the film adaptations of Stieg Larsson's "Millennium Trilogy": the first in the series,"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," which grossed over $10 million in US box office, was one of the most popular international releases of the last decade. More recent releases include Terence Davies' "The Deep Blue Sea" and Canada's Oscar-nominated "Monsieur Lazhar."
U.S. sports fans have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to pondering sportscasters -- or is it just an embarrassment?
Every network has an anchor of choice -- Jim Nantz of CBS, Bob Costas of NBC and Mike Tirico and Mike Breen of ABC/ESPN.
My favorite is Marv Albert of TNT. In fact, nobody comes close. I'm biased, having grown up in New York and listened to Marv broadcasting Knicks and Rangers games much of my life, in addition to other events.
Do you like the calming, mellifluous tones of Nantz? Do you favor Costas' journalistic approach? I like Breen's style (he seems to have studied Albert closely) and enjoy the antics of Doc Emrick, the hockey announcer who, hopefully, switches to decaf after the season ends.
Above all, I prefer Marv Albert because he makes every game sound exciting and meaningful. He has coined such well known phrases as "garbaaaage time" and "downtown" in basketball broadcasting and I used to love it during Rangers games when he would declare, "Kick save and a beauty," "He hit the post -- HE HIT THE POST!" and "Eddie Giacomin holds on to the puck -- and I don't blame him."
He also cracks me up during the games with his good-natured putdowns of his broadcasting partners.
But that's me.
MEDIA MATRIX QUESTION: So, who is your favorite TV sportscaster?
Feel free to leave your answer here.