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Some spoilers ahead for Jeff VanderMeer’s novel Annihilation. Ex Machina’s Alex Garland is following up that gripping and thought-provoking directorial debut with another science fiction film but one that will look starkly different from his A.I. thriller. Annihilation, based on the 2014 novel by Jeff VanderMeer, won’t have a single robot or computer onscreen, possibly not even any modern technology. It’s a smart career move — he’ll further establish himself as a talent worth watching for sci-fi fans, with a project that plays to his strengths for unsettling and eerie filmmaking. Meanwhile also (hopefully) proving he’s adept with a completely different aesthetic. Successfully realizing that aesthetic will be a challenge. VanderMeer’s book absorbed the reader in the depths of a wild, dense land cut off from the civilized world for decades. Known as Area X, it is a place where bizarre incidents have occurred »
- Emily Rome
Kate Winslet and Judy Davis working together, Friedrich Dürrenmatt's The Visit and Jack Nicholson in Sean Penn's The Pledge, Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns, Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven, Albert Maysles and David Maysles' Grey Gardens - Jocelyn Moorhouse, director of A Thousand Acres (Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Lange, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jason Robards, Colin Firth), and Proof (Hugo Weaving, Geneviève Picot, Russell Crowe) and The Dressmaker producer Sue Maslin, who reunited with novelist Rosalie Ham, discuss cinematic links and small-town logistics.
"If the dream, according to the interpretation, represents a wish fulfilled, what is the cause of the peculiar and unfamiliar manner in which this fulfillment is expressed? »
- Anne-Katrin Titze
There’s been no shortage of Lyndon B. Johnson depictions on film as of late, with Ava DuVernay capturing the 36th U.S. president as an arrogant man trying to diminish Mlk in Selma (as played by Tom Wilkinson), Bryan Cranston getting an Emmy nomination as Johnson in All The Way and, now, Rob Reiner directing Woody Harrelson in the makeup-heavy historical drama Lbj.
Having the actor play Lbj is somewhat of a curious choice, but it does work. He exudes playfulness, but also robust aggressiveness in his portrayal of a man that lost the presidential race to his nemesis JFK only to end up becoming vice president and, ultimately, the president after the assassination of JFK in Dallas. All doubt about whether or not Harrelson could pull it off is quickly diminished once he appears in the film’s very first frame. He not only embodies the mannerisms and social awkwardness of Johnson, »
- The Film Stage
Everything you missed on day 8 of #TIFF16Everything you missed on day 8 of #TIFF16Adriana Floridia9/16/2016 10:28:00 Am
The Secret Scripture had its World Premiere, and stars Rooney Mara and Vanessa Redgrave joined director Jim Sheridan on stage to introduce their film which tells the story of an elderly woman's memoir that reveals an epic tale of her traumatic life before she was confined to a mental hospital.
For more Tiff coverage, click here!
- Adriana Floridia
Johnson served as president from 1963 to 1969, but this story picks up just prior to Johnson’s swearing-in as president after JFK was assassinated on that fateful day in Texas in 1963. Reiner’s film back-tracks almost immediately to his days before he served as JFK’s number two, when he was serving as Senate Majority Leader. Assuming the role of Lbj is an almost unrecognisable Woody Harrelson (in heavy latex prosthetics), effortlessly pulling off the former leader of the free world’s mannerisms, strong personality and conveying his ruthless ambition, no-shit-taking and unique traits from the off. »
- Paul Heath
The movies, in case you didn’t notice, are having an Lbj moment. It began two years ago, when Tom Wilkinson played President Lyndon B. Johnson in “Selma” as a cagey but courtly political warrior whose hand was forced by Martin Luther King Jr. More recently, the Broadway drama “All the Way” was made into an HBO movie — 20 years ago, it would have been big-screen awards bait — with Bryan Cranston reprising his edgier, closer-to-the-bone performance as Lbj (more cussed, better accent, truly astonishing makeup). Cranston has made a specialty of playing decent men in scurrilous armor, and his Ljb was a cunning vulgarian blowhard saint, with a bark worse than his bite — a cracker-barrel curmudgeon.
- Owen Gleiberman
Coinciding with its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival today, a first look clip has arrived online from director Rob Reiner’s upcoming biographical political drama Lbj which stars Woody Harrelson in the titular role as President Lyndon B. Johnson; take a look below after the official synopsis…
Lbj follows the political upheaval that Vice President Lyndon Johnson (Woody Harrelson) faced when thrust into the presidency after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (Jeffrey Donovan). Johnson struggles to heal a distraught nation while simultaneously, against all odds, getting JFK’s historic Civil Rights Act passed through an incredibly divided Congress.
- Amie Cranswick
Alexis Arquette, the youngest sister of the Arquette acting family, passed away today at the age of 47 after a lengthy illness. She was the fourth of the five Arquette kids, all of whom became actors, with Rosanna Arquette leading the way to fame in the early 80s. Alexis was surrounded by all her siblings when she died as they listened to her favorite songs. She passed during David Bowie's "Starman." (So many sad goodbyes in 2016.)
Born Robert, she took the name Alexis early on, long before coming out officially as transgendered. Onscreen her first appearance was uncredited in the Bette Midler comedy Down & Out in Beverly Hills (1986).
as "Georgette" in Last Exit to Brooklyn
- NATHANIEL R
Directed by Luke Scott
A corporate risk-management consultant must decide whether or not to terminate an artificially created humanoid being.
Luke Scott’s (yes, the son of Ridley Scott) directorial debut Morgan is essentially Ex Machina for dummies. There’s really no nicer way to put it than that. Essentially, all sense of subtlety and stimulating subtext on the always profound and captivating theme of man playing God is lost and disowned for the sake of going for gory deaths and nonstop action.
It’s all unfortunate considering that the first 30 minutes or so of the movie seem to be going somewhere interesting, even if it is nothing refreshing at all. Basically, a bunch of scientists have created a living organism that is the titular Morgan, a »
- Robert Kojder
Few film festivals in the world double as an acquisitions marketplace quite like the Toronto International Film Festival, which will screen more than 300 movies between September 8 and September 18. Most of these films have yet to land a U.S. distributor, and only a select group of titles will secure a distribution deal before the end of the fest.
Which movies are likely to be swarmed by buyers at Tiff 2016? Here are nine hot titles from the lineup that could be prime targets for acquisition execs.
Writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour’s follow-up to her hit debut “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” is billed as a “dystopian love story in a Texas wasteland.” The film follows a young girl named Samantha (Suki Waterhouse) who’s been banished from civilized society and ends up escaping from a community of cannibals. Produced by Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures, the film stars Keanu Reeves, »
- Graham Winfrey
While Toronto does not have an official market like Cannes and Berlin, industry execs use the Canadian festival to introduce new films to the global indie market that are not screening in the festival. Of course, many titles, including those in the Gala section, are looking for U.S. distribution as well.
Director: Marc Forster
Logline: A blind woman and her loving husband seem to have the perfect relationship, until she gets an operation that enables her to see. (Tiff Special Presentation)
Sales: Wme (U.S.); Sierra Affinity (international)
Director: Philippe Falardeau
- Variety Staff
Eschewing the compelling Sf questions it raises, Morgan resorts to violence and would-be cleverness, and makes concrete what it should have left ambiguous. I’m “biast” (pro): desperate for movies about women; big Sf geek
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
Tips for young filmmakers hoping to break out from under the shadow of their famous filmmaker daddies with their directorial debuts: Don’t make a movie that invites comparison to one of Daddy’s best known, best loved, and just plain best movies. And if you must do that, consider ensuring that your movie compares favorably to Daddy’s movie.
Ps: Luke Scott, son of Ridley, is not that young. (He’s 48.) And his directorial debut, Morgan, does not compare favorably to Blade Runner. And the comparisons are inevitable. Morgan thinks it’s riffing on an intriguing ambiguity of Blade Runner, »
- MaryAnn Johanson
Chicago – There is nothing like the feeling of watching a completely immersive sci-fi film that delivers the complexity of technology in a modest package, and uses elements of nature to create a beautiful contrast. Unfortunately, “Morgan” doesn’t deliver on the enlightenment it promises.
Trying to fill the role created by last year’s masterpiece “Ex Machina”, “Morgan” explodes with superficial artificiality. It poses the question of what constitutes “personhood” and explores it through shallow platitudes and out of character, obsessive behavior. The high concept story development seems to have been an overwhelming task for first-time feature film writer Seth W. Owen. While trying to introduce the same ideas of “humanity” that we’ve seen not only in last year’s films, but from films stemming all the way back to Fritz Lang’s 1927 film “Metropolis”, Owen manages to create a story that feels less like an echo and more like a lazy mimicry. »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
The second weekend of horror-thriller “Don’t Breathe” is showing plenty of life at an otherwise quiet Labor Day box office with an estimated $19.4 million at 3,051 North American locations for the four days.
Warner Bros. fifth weekend of “Suicide Squad” showed impressive staying power in second place with about $13 million for the weekend — enough for the supervillain tentpole to top the $300 million mark on Monday.
But the holiday proved tough for two new entries into the market. Disney’s “The Light Between Oceans” was heading for a modest sixth-place finish with $6.1 million at 1,500 sites and Fox’s sci-fi thriller “Morgan” was nearly invisible with $2.4 million at 2,020, leaving it in 18th place.
Monday will also mark the final day for summer box office with the last year’s $4.48 billion, according to comScore. That would be about even with last summer’s total but 5.5% behind the 2013 record of $4.75 billion.
The Labor Day »
- Dave McNary
In what is proving to be a sleepy Labor Day weekend at the box office, “Don’t Breathe” continues to dominate with $4.2 million at 3,051 locations on Friday. The film, which carries a price tag below $10 million, is heading for a $15 million second frame, bringing its total to about $54 million.
Newcomers “The Light Between Oceans” and “Morgan” aren’t putting up much of a fight. The former, starring real-life couple Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander, will rake in about $5 million at 1,500 locations after earning $1.4 million on Friday; the later, an ensemble thriller earned $600,000 on Friday and is eyeing close to $2 million at 2,020 locations.
This first weekend in September follows a record August led by “Suicide Squad,” which will cross the $300 million domestic mark this weekend. The film picked up an additional $2.3 million on Friday and looks to take second this weekend with about $10 million at 3,292 locations.
Labor Day weekend is notoriously led by holdover films — the weekend is trapped between summer blockbuster season and fall, which is jam-packed with awards contenders. This summer’s final tally should wind up being about equal to last year’s $4.49 billion total.
The great success of Screen Gems and Stage 6 Films’ “Don’t Breathe” follows a trend of high-performing horror films. It stars Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto and Stephen Lang. Fede Alvarez directed the horror-thriller about three young robbers who target a blind veteran, but they tables turn as they are trapped and forced to fight for their lives.
“The Light Between Oceans” is a romantic drama in which a couple, who aren’t able to start a family, adopts an infant who mysteriously washes ashore. The film, from Disney, has a $20 million production budget. Derek Cianfrance directs from a script that he adapted from the M.L. Stedman novel.
“Morgan” is a sci-fi film about a humanoid girl who rebels against her creators.Anya Taylor-Joy leads the ensemble cast which includes Kate Mara, Toby Jones, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Paul Giamatti. The Fox film had only a $6 million budget, and is directed by Luke Scott who has previously worked on his father, Ridley’s, films “The Martian” and “Exodus: Gods and Kings.”
As “Bad Moms” heads for a $5 million sixth frame, the film will cross the $100 million landmark at the domestic box office. The female-driven comedy from Stx has far surpassed its $20 million budget.
In its fourth weekend, “Pete’s Dragon” is neck and neck with the third weekend of “Kubo and the Two Strings.” Both films picked up about $1.4 million on Friday and are heading for between $6 and $7 million this weekend.
“No Manches Frida,” from Lionsgate and Televisa’s Pantelion Film, cracked the top ten and is pacing about evenly with “The Light Between Oceans.” The film grossed over $1 million on Friday at 362 locations, and is eyeing a $4 million opening weekend. The Spanish language comedy is directed by Nacho G. Velilla and tells the story of a bank robber who poses as a substitute teacher in order to recover money buried underneath the school.
- Seth Kelley
Sony’s second weekend of “Don’t Breathe” is ready to scare up as much as $15 million at the domestic box office to handily lead a typically subdued Labor Day weekend, early estimates showed Friday.
“Don’t Breathe” should take in more than the combined number for the launches of Michael Fassbender-Alicia Vikander’s drama “The Light Between Oceans,” with about $6 million at a relatively modest 1,500 locations, and Luke Scott’s sci-fi thriller “Morgan,” with around $5 million at 2,020 sites.
The horror-thriller was dominating business on Friday with a projected $3.5 million. The opening days of Disney’s “Light” and Fox’s “Morgan” were both heading for around $1.4 million — and in a telling signal of the muted prospects for both new titles, neither studio held the usual preview showings on Thursday night.
- Dave McNary
Ryan Lambie Published Date Friday, September 2, 2016 - 17:36
Wears a hoodie. Plays her music at an excruciatingly high volume. Fed up of being cooped up indoors. Glowers at authority figures with simmering hostility. Yes, Morgan’s just your average teenager, really - apart from the small detail that she’s a genetically-engineered super-being with powers of precognition and an unaccountable affinity for martial arts.
Morgan, played with pleasing intensity by Anya-Taylor Joy, resides behind bullet-proof perspex in a concrete bunker deep underground. Created for hazy purposes by a futuristic corporation, Morgan’s only five years old, but her rapid rate of growth means she looks much older. Over those five years, the scientists charged with looking after and monitoring Morgan have formed an emotional attachment to the super-powered youth; among them you’ll find Dr Simon Ziegler (Toby Jones), her surrogate father figure, and Amy (Rose Leslie), who becomes a kind of big sister. »
Directed by Luke Scott.
A corporate risk-management consultant must decide whether or not to terminate an artificially created humanoid being.
Silver screen representations of artificial intelligence are hardly unfamiliar; in fact they are as frequent in modern filmmaking as portraits of dystopian futures or cliché-ridden teen angst. However with each new arrival, there is an element of hope that perhaps this’ll be the title to really push the envelope. Unlocking the potential of this complex landscape by detailing the protocols and indeed ethics when fabricating humanity.
Unfortunately for debutant director Luke Scott – son of Sir Ridley – he is unable to muster as such with Morgan; rather dipping a toe into frustratingly tepid water as opposed to diving in head-first. Enlisting a particularly starry cast (almost certainly because Daddy has contacts… »
- Chris Haydon
Just like that, it’s fall already. The first round of films fresh out of Tiff and Venice and Telluride are making their ways to theaters and living rooms nationwide. And now, we enter the last third of the year, with plenty of titles to be excited about. Below, you’ll see every planned theatrical release for the month of September, separated out into films with wide runs and limited ones. (Synopses are provided by festivals and distributors.)
Each week, we’ll give you an update with more specific information on where these films are playing. In the meantime, be sure to check our calendar page, where we’ll update releases for the rest of the year. Happy watching!
Week of September 2 Wide
Director: Luke Scott
Synopsis: A corporate troubleshooter is sent to a remote, »
- Steve Greene
Many storytellers have used science fiction to question human existence. Even if you haven’t read Mary Shelley’s iconic novel, you know the story of Dr. Frankenstein and his creation. You know of a scientist – I’ll leave calling him “mad” up to you – and his search to understand life and in doing so how he magically creates new life. You know of a tragic creature who is thrust into a world that is both fascinated and yet repelled by it. Though many would call the Frankenstein creature a him instead of an it, Kate Mara’s character Lee Weathers would be quick to correct you. Apparently artificial life should not be given proper pronouns, and while Luke Scott’s feature film debut seems ready to address the contemporary concerns over gender labels and life existing outside male and female labels, Morgan regresses into yet another forgettable attempt at »
- Michael Haffner
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