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10 items from 2007

Top 10: Best Director & Actor pairings of 2007 (Repeat Offenders)

26 December 2007 | ioncinema | See recent ioncinema news »

- Today’s Top Ten looks at the best director/actor pairings of the year. More specifically, we are looking at directors and actors who have continued to foster their relationship over the years in the cinematic field - providing us viewers with examples of magical collaborations on screen. I could cite at least 250 other significant relationships of the sort from the past 9 decades of film history, everyone from Dietrich and von Sternberg, Fellini and wife Giulietta Masina, Hitchcock and his slew of muses aka leading ladies, Bergman and Ullmann, Antonioni and Monica Vitti and to Scorsese and DeNiro or Scorsese and DiCaprio. Note sequels and trilogies were not taken into consideration. Enjoy the list!10. Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen The first met in the late 90’s when Seth Rogen was one among many actors starring in the short-lived NBC television series called Freaks and Geeks. Flash forward to 2005, and »

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99 Francs

2 November 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

PARIS -- Adapted from Frederic Beigbeder's novel of the same title -- one of the biggest French best-sellers of recent years -- and starring the very bankable Jean Dujardin (Brice de Nice, 0SS 117: Cairo Nest of Spies), Jan Kounen's 99 Francs represents a scathing -- for France -- satire on the advertising industry, one that is likely to do excellent business in its home territory.

Dujardin plays Octave Parango, whizz-kid creative director of the advertising agency Ross and Witchcraft whom we first meet standing on the roof of a skyscraper in driving rain apparently bent on committing suicide. In voice-over -- there is a great deal of VO and direct address to camera -- Octave explains that he is the master of the world, the man who decides today what Joe Public will want to buy tomorrow. And that he is a very bad lot indeed.

He then leads us through the stages of his career, presenting his colleagues -- fellow creator Charlie (Jocelyn Quivrin), finance director Jeff (Patrick Mille), girlfriend Sophie (Vahina Giocante) -- and CEO Alfred Duler (Nicolas Marie), of his leading client, a major dairy products manufacturer.

Quite how bad a lot he is becomes rapidly apparent as the film watches him snort large quantities of cocaine and vent his cynical wit on all around him. When Sophie informs him that she is pregnant with his child, he proves incapable of producing an authentic human response. But he is lucid enough and decides finally to rebel, notably by sabotaging the launch of a new brand of yogurt.

Comparable with last year's Thank you for Smoking, Jason Reitman's acerbic take on lobbyists for Big Tobacco, 99 Francs is strong stuff for France where advertisers traditionally wield considerable influence among television broadcasters who in turn have a major say as regards which movies get made.

Kounen, working from a script by Nicolas Charlet and Bruno Laveine with some impromptu input by Dujardin, pulls few punches in his portrayal of advertising agencies as dens of narcissistic, coke-fueled opportunists on the make. Having made 30 or so ads himself, mostly in England, he presumably knows something of what he is talking about. His approach is not always subtle, and cliche is always lurking, but the movie is constantly inventive and the jokes score more hits than misses.

Some of the humor will fall flat with non-French audiences, but the movie is also dotted with references to well-known movie directors such as Sergio Leone, Stanley Kubrick, Wong Kar-Wai and Federico Fellini. Kounen is more interested in effects than in narrative clarity. The reality status of a number of scenes appears problematic -- real, pastiche, publicity or drug-induced fantasy? -- though in this the movie reflects the novel.

The pace is fast and furious. Since Kounen deploys the techniques of advertising the better to debunk them, he risks burdening the spectator with sensory overload. But it's all good fun with real bite, and France's best-known yogurt manufacturer will not be best pleased to see its brand name lightly disguised as Madone.


Film 99 Francs, Pathe, Arte France Cinema


Director: Jan Kounen

Writers: Nicolas Charlet, Bruno Laveine, Jan Kounen

Producer: Ilan Goldman

Director of photography: David Ungaro

Production designer: Michel Barthelemy

Music: Jean-Jacques Hertz, Francois Roy

Costume designer: Sylvie Ong, Claire Lacaze

Editor: Anny Danche


Octave Parango: Jean Dujardin

Charlie: Jocelyn Quivrin

Jeff: Patrick Mille

Sophie: Vahina Giocante

Tamara: Elisa Tovati

Duler: Nicolas Marie

Jean-Christian Gagnant: Dominique Bettenfeld

Running time -- 100 minutes

No MPAA rating


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Fellini script 'Viaggio' on new voyage

19 October 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

ROME -- Work will start early next year on "Viaggio a Tulum" (Voyage to Tulum), a Mexico-based story written by iconic Italian director Federico Fellini but not started during the director's lifetime.

The news is the first to emerge from the Business Street market at the second RomaCinemaFest, which got under way Thursday.

The project will officially launch at a briefing to be held at the Hotel Flora -- which housed Fellini's offices in Rome -- which are now hosting part of the Business Street.

The film, which will center on Fellini's trip to Mexico to meet the famous mystic Carlos Castaneda, will be filmed in Mexico and at Rome's Cinecitta Studios, with a budget of at least €3.5 million ($5 million).

Filming is expected to start Jan. 20, 2008, which would have been the 88th birthday for Fellini, who died in 1993.

The film's backers say they have secured about half of the funding they need already, most of it from Mexican investors and the Mexican government. »

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Ovation revisits the classics

12 October 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Ovation TV is premiering a new Saturday night film series showcasing classic world cinema this weekend.

The series, dubbed Destination ArtHouse, will feature classic films from the past 80 years and is being presented via a special arrangement with indie film distributor Janus Films. It premieres at 9 p.m. Saturday with Federico Fellini's La Strada (1954).

Other films include Francois Truffaut's Jules and Jim (1962), Louis Malle's My Dinner With Andre (1981), Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon (1950) and Seven Samurai (1954), Marcel Camus' Black Orpheus (1959), Ingmar Bergman's Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), Peter Weir's Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) and Roman Polanski's Knife in the Water.

All films will be presented with limited commercial interruption. »

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FilmItalia chief: Country needs star power

31 August 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

More news from the Venice Film Festival

VENICE, Italy -- The Italian film industry lacks only a major onscreen star to begin the path toward regaining its glory days, the head of Italy's film promotion body said Thursday in a wide-ranging interview about the future of the Italian film industry.

Irene Bignardi, the president of FilmItalia, pronounced the Italian film industry in good health but said that, in comparison to the industry's strongest years in the 1950s and '60s, it lacks an internationally recognized star.

"People seem to be looking for Marcello Mastroianni but, unfortunately, he's no longer available," Bignardi said, referring to the iconic Oscar-nominated star of Federico Fellini's 1960 classic "La Dolce Vita" and Pietro Germi's 1961 comedy "Divorce -- Italian Style", who died in 1996.

"The quality and variety of films and documentaries produced in Italy is extremely impressive," she went on. "But we don't have a headline star to attract attention outside Italy."

During an interview that took place on the sidelines of the Venice Film Festival, Bignardi spoke about the future of FilmItalia, the policy of government financing for films, and the Venice event itself, where she is often mentioned as a possible successor to artistic director Marco Mueller, whose mandate concludes this year. »

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Michelangelo Antonioni: 1912-2007

31 July 2007 | IMDb News

Michelangelo Antonioni, the Italian film director whose modernist style created such haunting, enigmatic films as L'Avventura and Blow Up, died Monday at his home in Italy; he was 94. Antonioni had suffered a debilitating stroke in 1985 which gave him limited speech capabilities and curtailed his directing abilities, though he continued to work, most notably on 1995's Beyond the Clouds, after his stroke. Born in Ferrara, Italy, Antonioni graduated from the University of Bologna with a degree in economics but went to work for a local newspaper as a film writer and critic. Moving to Rome during World War II, he collaborated with Roberto Rossellini on A Pilot Returns and began making short documentaries. His first full-length film, Story of a Love Affair, was released in 1950, and he found his breakthrough with 1957's The Outcry, where he met actress Monica Vitti, who would go on to star in his famed film trilogy of emotional alienation: L'Avventura, La Notte, and L'Eclisse, released from 1960-1962. With these austere black-and-white films, seductive and amazing to some and puzzling and mysterious to others (L'Avventura and L'Eclisse both won the Jury prizes at Cannes), Antonioni established himself as one of the premier international filmmakers of the time, alongside fellow countryman Federico Fellini and other emerging directors of the '60s such as Roman Polanski and Ingmar Bergman; he was considered such a fixture of the time that he was even mentioned in lyrics (alongside Fellini and Polanski) in the seminal musical of the '60s, Hair.

In 1966, Antonioni found box office as well as critical success with Blow Up, the story of a London photographer (David Hemmings) who believes he may have accidentally captured a murder on film. The quintessential portait of the swinging '60s, the film featured a luminous Vanessa Redgrave and, most notoriously, an imaginary, silent tennis game played between two sets of white-faced mimes. While some shrugged, others continued to celebrate his success, and Antonioni received two Academy Award nominations for writing and directing Blow Up. That film was followed by the notorious flop Zabriskie Point, an existentialist rumination in Death Valley featuring amateur actors, but Antonioni then rebounded with The Passenger, starring Jack Nicholson as a journalist researching a documentary in the Sahara, now considered one of his best films. Antonioni made only a handful of films following The Passenger, and worked only in a limited fashion after his stroke, though he surprised critics and audiences with 1995's Beyond the Clouds, which producers would only back with the stipulation that director Wim Wenders follow the filming in case Antonioni faltered. Though he was only able to speak a few words, the director was able to communicate effectively with his crew and actors; the same year Beyond the Clouds was released, he received an honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement. Antonioni is survived by his wife, Enrica, whom he married in 1986. --Mark Englehart, IMDb staff


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MOMA unspooling Rialto classics

27 June 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

The Museum of Modern Art is presenting "Rialto Pictures: Reviving Classic Cinema," a 17-film series celebrating the 10th anniversary of the art house revival distributor. Films by Robert Bresson ("Mouchette"), Carol Reed ("The Third Man"), Luis Bunuel ("Diary of a Chambermaid"), Federico Fellini ("Nights of Cabiria"), Jean-Luc Godard ("Masculin feminine") and Jean-Pierre Melville ("Bob le Flambeur") will be screened. The selection chosen by MOMA Department of Film senior curator Laurence Kardish will be screened from July 25 to Aug. 10 in New York. »

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Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis

25 April 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Tongue Press

NEW YORK -- An important and unjustly neglected figure of avant-garde cinema gets chronicled in Mary Jordan's absorbing documentary, which recently received its U.S. theatrical premiere at New York's Film Forum. Via revelatory film clips, snippets of his live performances, samples of his photography and interviews with many of his contemporaries, "Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis" makes a strong case for the influence of its subject on such figures as Andy Warhol, Federico Fellini and John Waters, among many others.

Smith is best known for his landmark if little-seen underground film "Flaming Creatures", the only feature he ever completed. Made in 1963 and exhibited widely around the country, its blatant sexuality and copious doses of nudity made it a fixture in obscenity cases.

Smith, who died in 1989 of AIDS, was a fascinating flaming creature, living an ultra-bohemian and poverty-stricken lifestyle, at one point surviving on a daily diet of cheese and crackers. He cultivated a stable of performers who would work for him steadily, the most notable being the drag queen Mario Montez. (Not surprising, since a major objection of obsession for Smith when he was a young man was the Hollywood vamp Maria Montez.)

He was also a perversely eccentric figure who, after his notoriety with "Creatures", essentially refused to finish another work. He would literally edit his films in the projection room while they were being shown, and his live performance pieces, often staged in his dilapidated Lower East Side apartment, were often held to little or no audiences.

The film includes interviews with such figures as Jonas Mekas, who Smith gave the derogatory nickname of "Uncle Fishhooks" after he became resentful of what he saw as the critic's exploitation of Smith's work for his own gain.

Filmmaker Jordan is frequently hamstrung by the lack of clarity in both Smith's life and work, with the result that her portrait occasionally displays a somewhat sketchy quality. But it ultimately provides a fascinating glimpse of an artistic pioneer whose influence still resonates today.


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Marshall helming 'Nine' film adaptation

13 April 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

NEW YORK -- Rob Marshall will direct a big-screen version of the 1982 Broadway musical "Nine" for the Weinstein Co.

Marshall and John DeLuca will choreograph the adaptation of the show, which won five Tonys, including best musical. Their company Lucamar Prods. will produce the film with the Weinstein Co., which acquired rights to the project from original "Nine" book writer Arthur Kopit and composer Maury Yeston, who will serve as co-executive producers.

The film and play are adapted from Federico Fellini's 1963 classic autobiographical feature "8 1/2," following the life of a famed film director and the many women in his life. An announcement on the screenwriter is forthcoming.

Marshall last teamed with Weinstein Co. co-head Harvey Weinstein on the Oscar-winning musical "Chicago" while the exec was at Miramax Films.

Weinstein Co. executive vp business and legal affairs Eric Roth and senior vp business and legal affairs Laine Kline negotiated the deal on behalf of the distributor. ICM and attorneys Michael Gendler and Kevin Kelly negotiated on behalf of Marshall. »

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Italian producer Carlo Ponti dies at 94

10 January 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

ROME -- Producer Carlo Ponti, one of the forces behind Italy's post-war film renaissance and the long-time husband of Italian film legend Sophia Loren, died early Wednesday at the age of 94.

Ponti produced more than 100 films during a career that spanned nearly 60 years. Among his most famous productions were David Lean's Doctor Zhivago(1965), Federico Fellini's La Strada (1954) and Vittorio De Sica's 1960 classic La Ciociara (Two Women), for which Loren won the 1962 Oscar for best actress.

"His was a life dedicated to cinema," Loren and her two sons, Carlo and Edoardo, said in a statement. "Surrounded by the love of his family, Carlo Ponti passed away serenely at the age of 94 during the night between Tuesday and Wednesday in Geneva's hospital."

Ponti, who had been in relatively good health until December, had been admitted to the Geneva hospital on New Year's Eve for lung problems.

Ponti got his start in the industry distributing films in Milan during World War II. He produced a few small films during the war and immediately afterward, but began to make a name for himself with director Riccardo Freda's 1948 production of Les Miserables.

Ponti met Loren, named Sophia Villani Scicolone at the time, during a beauty contest in Naples in the 1950s and persuaded her to change her name to Sophia Loren and begin studying acting and English. They were married in 1957.

In 1956, La Strada, which he co-produced, won the Academy Award for best foreign film, as did Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow in 1964.

But it was his affair with the young ingenue Loren that captivated the public, rather than his work with top filmmakers such as Dino De Laurentiis, Federico Fellini, Jean-Luc Godard, Peter Ustinov, David Lean and Roman Polanski.

"I have done everything for love of Sophia," he said in a newspaper interview shortly before his 90th birthday in 2002. »

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10 items from 2007

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