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As AMC prepares to air the “Mad Men” finale May 17, the show’s creator, Matt Weiner, harks back to his debut, 1996 microbudget film “What Do You Do All Day?” that he wrote, produced, directed and starred in. A Variety critic slammed the picture, but Weiner talked about how that whole experience fueled his subsequent work.
Talk about your early career.
I made an independent film before I started my life in television, and it actually helped me get my career started. It was a $12,000 movie. I’m in it, my wife’s in it, my car’s in it. It’s a strung-together, black-and-white movie. We sent it off to some film festivals, it premiered at Santa Barbara, and Variety ran a review.
Did you read Variety in those days?
I grew up in Los Angeles, and Variety has this sort of iconic quality. To be in Variety seemed to »
- Variety Staff
Fellow Oscar winners Sir Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, who team for the sixth time after The Dark Knight Trilogy and Now You See Me and its now-shooting sequel, have already been cast in the film, which is to be directed by Zach Braff (Wish I Was Here, Garden State). Ted Melfi (St. Vincent) has penned the remake, which will see Braff direct someone else’s material for the first time on film. Donald De Line is the films producer, with original film producer Tony Bill also on board.
- Scott J. Davis
New Line had been in talks with Dustin Hoffman for the part late last year. Zach Braff, who helmed the Kickstarter-funded comedy “Wish I Was Here,” will direct from Ted Melfi’s script, with shooting set to begin Aug. 3 in New York City.
The 1979 pic also starred Art Carney and Lee Strasberg and followed three retirees who wear Groucho Marx glasses to execute a bank heist. Directed by Martin Brest, the film was a solid performer for Warners with $30 million at the box office.
The new version of “Going in Style” will center on three retired men who lose their pensions when the company they’ve worked for »
- Dave McNary
The screen version of any long-running comic-book superhero inevitably feels thin compared to the richly detailed idea of that hero in the minds of the fans who grew up with it. Five movies in, no Hollywood Spider-Man has yet embodied, all at once, the comic iteration's glorious contradictions. He's the genius/broke-ass geek/outcast/photojournalist/inventor-hunk who dates supermodels and bombs out of grad school and fights off fear/depression/guilt with a relentless stream of Groucho Marx patter-jokes as he bops villains' skulls to save a city that hates him.
If that's too much for the movies to get right, the even crazier Daredevil never had a chance. Here's a blind lawyer/acrobat/vigilante leaping from Hell's Kitchen roofs/flagpoles to kick the asses of the criminals w »
By Lee Pfeiffer
In the wake of unexpected critical acclaim for director Richard Lester's A Hard Day's Night in 1964, studios scrambled to emulate the success of that first feature film starring The Beatles. Over a period of a few years, many bands found themselves top-lining major feature films. Most were mindless exploitation films, a few others more ambitious in their goals. Fitting snugly into the latter category was Having a Wild Weekend (released in the UK under the title Catch Us If You Can.) The film represents the only movie starring the Dave Clark Five, one of the more popular bands to emerge during that marvelous era in the 1960s when Great Britain shed its post WWII doldrums and came to dominate international pop culture. The band was one of many who rode the coattails of The Beatles to the top of the charts, but they had their own »
- email@example.com (Cinema Retro)
Alonso Ruizpalacios’ “Gueros,” Rigoberto Perezcano’s “Carmin Tropical” and Max Zunino’s “Open Cage” will compete in the exquisitely curated Feature Film Program at Mexico’s 6th ArteCareyes Film and Arts Festival.
“A cultural festival” and “multidiscipline platform” promoting “the artistic content” of films and presenting new talents in music and contemporary art, per fest founder-director Filippo Brignone, ArteCareyes unspools March 4-8.
It also features a Careyes Creation Lab led by legendary New German Cinema director Volker Schlondorff and attended by some of the boldest contemporary talents in Mexican filmmaking. Another highlight, Direct From Fest, sees a special screening of Jim Strause’s “People, Places, Things,” chosen and presented by Sundance Festival director John Cooper.
Famed as a composer (“The Draughtsman’s Contract,” “The Piano”), Michael Nyman will receive fest’s 2015 Tane Tribute and introduce an anthology of his video work as well as an exhibition of his photos.
- John Hopewell
Christian Petzold took a bold step into history with 2012's Barbara, exiling Nina Hoss's heroine into the diaphanous threats and suspicions of a provincial, 1980s East Germany. With Phoenix, his follow-up, Petzold takes this movement into history even further, striking starkly, deeply at questions of identity in a post-war Germany quivering silently with destitution, rage, and willful blindness. In a spectral sequence opening the film directly evoking the eerie clinical imagery of Georges Franju's lyrical horror film Eyes without a Face, Nelly, a concentration camp survivor, returns in quiet to Berlin after having reconstructive surgery following wartime mutilations. The woman who emerges from under the knife cannot be recognized. She emerges as embodied by Nina Hoss—a true queen in today's cinema—and her slender, lean physique becomes that of a post-war zombie, a ghost embodied, tottering and halting, a body not familiar with movements outside the camp, »
- Daniel Kasman
Charlie Sheen might be kind of a jerk, but after his very public meltdown, “Two and a Half Men” discovered it couldn’t get by without him any better than it could live with him. So despite the hoopla that surrounded signing Ashton Kutcher, the series has been pretty much running on creative fumes since 2011, making its finale – after 12 hugely profitable seasons – feel more overdue than nostalgic.
In what can only be called a bizarre turn, satirizing that unflattering appraisal became the spine of the program’s one-hour series finale, an episode that owed as much to the Marx brothers, in tone, as to the past 12 years of the CBS series. Throughout the hour (and Spoiler Alert if you haven’t watched), the message came through loud and clear that while many have derided “Men” as a silly, lowbrow sitcom, hey, we’re laughing all the way to the bank over here. »
- Brian Lowry
Inside Hans Zimmer's panoramic, wall-to-wall burgundy studio are claw-footed sofas, velvet armchairs, gilded bookshelves, dimly glowing lamps made from skulls, custom bedazzled guitars, a grand piano and, on a central coffee table, an unopened pack of Marlboro Lights. Collaborators bustle in and out of the room like Marx Brothers extras. It's as if this storied composer were moonlighting in a Transylvanian bordello. German-born Zimmer's lair at Remote Control Productions in Santa Monica has been his creative home-away-from-home since 2000, around the time he composed the stirring "Gladiator" score. But he never sleeps there, and takes time away from his work to do other things. Zimmer admittedly had a hell of a time at the Grammys last weekend, where he hopped onstage to shred guitar alongside "Despicable Me" pal Pharrell. "I am a rock 'n roller, and I'll always be a rock 'n roller," he said. But he also feels strongly about working. »
- Ryan Lattanzio
In 1982, the 23-year-old documentary filmmaker Robert Weide wrote his idol, Kurt Vonnegut, a fan letter with an ulterior motive: He wanted the Slaughterhouse Five author and perennial fanboy favorite to be his next subject. To his surprise, Vonnegut wrote back. He had seen Weide’s first doc, about the Marx Brothers, and he consented. They met to discuss Weide’s plan, which was to lock in financing quickly and finish the movie within a year.By 2014, Weide’s subject was seven years dead and the director had several more movies to his name (along with the 27 episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm that he directed), as well as dozens of hours of Vonnegut footage — but no documentary. Then he saw the news that Griffin Dunne had launched a Kickstarter page for a documentary about his aunt Joan Didion. “When [Dunne] got $80,000 in a single day I thought, Okay, now’s the »
- Boris Kachka
The most frequent question Curb Your Enthusiasm co-creator Robert B. Weide gets asked is apparently, “When are you going to finish your Kurt Vonnegut documentary?”. Weide started filming the author in 1988, having secured Vonnegut's blessing for a film project as early as 1982. And 33 years on, Weide is finally getting round to using the footage, co-directing Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck In Time with documentarist Don Argott (As The Palaces Burn, The Art Of The Steal). A Kickstarter campaign has just launched, which comes with a trailer."It's going to be amazing," Argott tells Empire. "Bob Weide did the Woody Allen documentary a couple of years ago: a Lenny Bruce documentary, a Marx Brothers documentary... he's been a filmmaker for years. I met him in Kiev and we hung out and hit it off and had known and liked each other's work, and he called me to ask if I'd be interested in »
Remember when Adam Sandler was funny? Think hard; I know it was a long time ago. Ok, so he was never a comedic genius at the level of the Marx Brothers or George Burns, but at least you could get a chuckle or two out of his films. Now he’s just become the Razzies’ favorite actor, and it appears that that trend is not going to shift any time soon. After inking a four-picture deal with Netflix last fall, Sandler has finally announced what his first Netflix film will be: a western spoof called Ridiculous 6.
Ridiculous 6 will tell the story of an orphaned boy (Sandler) raised by an Indian tribe, along with four half-brothers played by Taylor Lautner, Rob Schneider, Luke Wilson, and Terry Crews. Nick Nolte is on hand as Sandler’s long-lost father, with Jon Lovitz as a wealthy industrialist and Whitney Cummings as his wife. Steve Buscemi, »
- Lauren Humphries-Brooks
Everyone knows Woody Allen. At least, everyone thinks they know Woody Allen. His plumage is easily identifiable: horn-rimmed glasses, baggy suit, wispy hair, kvetching demeanor, ironic sense of humor, acute fear of death. As is his habitat: New York City, though recently he has flown as far afield as London, Barcelona, and Paris. His likes are well known: Bergman, Dostoevsky, New Orleans jazz. So too his dislikes: spiders, cars, nature, Wagner records, the entire city of Los Angeles. Whether or not these traits represent the true Allen, who’s to say? It is impossible to tell, with Allen, where cinema ends and life begins, an obfuscation he readily encourages. In the late nineteen-seventies, disillusioned with the comedic success he’d found making such films as Sleeper (1973), Love and Death (1975), and Annie Hall (1977), he turned for darker territory with Stardust Memories (1980), a film in which, none too surprisingly, he plays a »
- Graham Daseler
★★★★★ Within its opening premise, the concept of a utopian Freedonia, the Marx Brothers' glorious Duck Soup (1933) is already flinging mud in the eye of Western democracy. Bankrupt, the aforementioned country's lofty name is skewered when it is hauled back into the black by its richest citizen, Mrs. Teasdale. She insists on replacing the ousted premiere with a bold new leader of her choosing. The power of money may be absolute, but it's the enduring power of absurdist humour that is evident in her selection - Groucho Marx' wise-cracking Rufus T. Firefly. Leo McCarey's film throws meaningful narrative out of the window, presenting a masterclass in political satire and gut-busting slapstick.
- CineVue UK
It was curious yesterday when The Lego Movie,” one of the best reviewed animated movies of 2014, couldn’t make the final cut in the Best Animated Film category at the Oscars. Just as curious yesterday, the film’s co-director Phil Lord called his own film “a classic.” To be fair to Lord, he’s not the first director to laud his own film. Case in point? Federico Fellini. The folks over at Open Culture have shared Fellini’s top 10 list from Sight And Sound and as expected, it’s very idiosyncratic. First of all, the list isn’t confined to only 10 selections —Fellini left the list open for as few as 12 movies to as many as 131. How? He had three Charlie Chaplin films tied for the top spot (“The Circus,” “City Lights” and “Monsieur Verdoux”) and declined to list a title for the next spot, opting instead to write “Any »
- Cain Rodriguez
Duck Soup, 1933.
Directed by Leo McCarey.
Freedonia and Sylvania are forced into war due to the insults of Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx) and the spies of Sylvania (Chico and Harpo Marx).
When told about the Marx brothers, I often think of Groucho. Until I watched Duck Soup, I didn’t know what his shtick even was. Were they silent comics, akin to Chaplin and Keaton? Did they transcend the talkie-divide like Laurel and Hardy? Were they lightning-fast talkers, in the same vein as Woody Allen or Henry Youngman? It turns out that the family of the Marx Brothers – Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo – are a bit of everything. Each sibling either prefiguring or directly influenced-by a specific comic of the past. Chico, the smart-talking but not-so-clever one. Harpo, the physical silent one. »
- Simon Columb
The Marx brothers' 1933 satire returns to the big screen this week as part of a season at the BFI in London. In the imaginary country of Freedonia, Rufus T Firefly (Groucho) is appointed the new leader in hopes he will help save it from bankruptcy. Political high office never looked so absurd, says Peter Bradshaw. Duck Soup is on limited release from Friday Continue reading »
- Peter Bradshaw and Paul Frankl
Introducing The Best of the Marx Brothers, a season opening today at BFI Southbank in London and running through the end of the month, Nick Bradshaw notes that "they were the ideal jesters for an era when the wheels had come off the economy, the world was in uproar and politics was turning weird. Sound familiar? Their power has never really ebbed—the Situationists tipped their hat in ‘68 Paris (‘Je suis Marxiste – tendence Groucho’), Duck Soup saved Woody Allen from suicide in Hannah and Her Sisters, and Jean-Luc Godard seems to have modeled his elder-statesman screen persona on Groucho." We're collecting more appreciations. » - David Hudson »
Chicago – One of the specialities of HollywoodChicago.com is the film and personality interview. The majority of these chats came through me, Patrick McDonald, and I couldn’t narrow it down to a top 10 or even a top 20. For 2014, there were 25 top interviews, and it is a diverse range of voices.
It is a privilege to get the opportunity to participate in the promotional tours, awards ceremonies, film festivals, book appearances, phoners and other lucky happenstances that feature the notable among us. To whittle down the list, I mostly thought about what was said in these interviews, whether inspirational or provocative – plus the status of the participants, whether they are up-and-coming or established.
The interview highlights are broken down by “Background and Behind-the-Scenes” and the “Memorable Quote” associated with each subject, and are often accompanied with exclusive photography by Joe Arce of HollywoodChicago.com. Four notables who just missed the »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
A pun is a word that doesn’t mean what it says, or rather, means what it says but also means something else. It is a signpost bearing the same destination, but pointing in two directions.
The longest pun-free period in Duck Soup is at the beginning, after the unsettling opening shot of ducks paddling in a cauldron over a hot fire. We are in the majestic council chamber of the government of Freedonia. A meeting is in session. Zander, the president, is asking the wealthy Mrs Gloria Teasdale, widow of the late Chester V Teasdale, for a further $20m, so that he can announce an immediate reduction in taxes. Mrs Teasdale, played by the redoubtable Margaret Dumont, complains »
- Craig Brown
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