20 items from 2015
'Affliction' movie: Nick Nolte as the troubled police officer Wade Whitehouse. 'Affliction' movie: Great-looking psychological drama fails to coalesce Set in a snowy New Hampshire town, Affliction could have been an excellent depiction of a dysfunctional family's cycle of violence and how that is accentuated by rapid, destabilizing socioeconomic changes. Unfortunately, writer-director Paul Schrader's 1998 film doesn't quite reach such heights.* Based on a novel by Russell Banks (who also penned the equally snowy The Sweet Hereafter), Schrader's Affliction relies on a realistic wintry atmosphere (courtesy of cinematographer Paul Sarossy) to convey the deadness inside the story's protagonist, the middle-aged small-town sheriff Wade Whitehouse (Nick Nolte). The angst-ridden Wade is intent on not ending up like his abusive, alcoholic father, Glen (James Coburn), while inexorably sliding down that very path. Making matters more complicated, Wade must come to terms with the fact that his ex-wife, Lillian (Mary Beth Hurt), will never return to him, »
- Andre Soares
Paul Thomas Anderson has signed on to write the screenplay and possibly direct Warner Bros.' Pinocchio. The project has been in development since 2012, when Robert Downey Jr. signed on to produce and star as Geppetto, the woodcarver who creates the iconic title character. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Robert Downey Jr. and Paul Thomas Anderson are longtime friends and have been trying to find a project to work on for many years now. The actor was initially attached to star in the director's last film, Inherent Vice, but he had to pass due to scheduling conflicts with Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Michael Mitnick (The Giver) wrote the most recent draft of the screenplay, which Robert Downey Jr. has been been quietly working on for the past six months. Bryan Fuller and Jane Goldman wrote previous versions of the script, with Tim Burton attached to direct at one point. The »
The Italian Contemporary Film Festival recently wrapped up their fourth year, concluding with a black tie gala @ The Ritz-Carlton in Toronto, following the screening of "Sei Mai Stata Sulla Luna?", directed by Paolo Genovese:
Running simultaneously in six cities in Canada, the festival hosted prolific names in Italian cinema including Marco Turco, whose film "L’Oriana" premiered as opening night film.
Icff presented 28 features and 22 shorts screening over nine days, hosted in Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Vaughan, Mississauga and Hamilton...
"...bringing together over 25,000 guests bridging the gap between Italy and Canada through film. Guests were invited to visit Italy without leaving Canada from the comfort of their seats..."
"We are extremely pleased that our films were so well received," said Cristiano de Florentiis, artistic director Icff. "With an average 4/5 rating from guests, Italian contemporary film has resonated with Canadians."
In collaboration with the Toronto International Film Festival, Icff also »
- Michael Stevens
'Father of the Bride': Steve Martin and Kimberly Williams. Top Five Father's Day Movies? From giant Gregory Peck to tyrant John Gielgud What would be the Top Five Father's Day movies ever made? Well, there have been countless films about fathers and/or featuring fathers of various sizes, shapes, and inclinations. In terms of quality, these range from the amusing – e.g., the 1950 version of Cheaper by the Dozen; the Oscar-nominated The Grandfather – to the nauseating – e.g., the 1950 version of Father of the Bride; its atrocious sequel, Father's Little Dividend. Although I'm unable to come up with the absolute Top Five Father's Day Movies – or rather, just plain Father Movies – ever made, below are the first five (actually six, including a remake) "quality" patriarch-centered films that come to mind. Now, the fathers portrayed in these films aren't all heroic, loving, and/or saintly paternal figures. Several are »
- Andre Soares
A few nights ago, Warner Bros. hosted a very canny event that our own Louis Virtel attended at the Playboy Mansion, a screening of "Entourage" that may have felt like virtual reality for those who attended. While I doubt being surrounded by scantily clad bunnies influenced Louis one way or another on the film, it's likely you'll see a number of reviews that are perhaps more enthusiastic than they would otherwise be, and it'd be hard to blame anyone who fell for it. One of the reasons the setting seemed so right for that particular film is because much of the charge of "Entourage" is watching the core ensemble swagger their way through Hollywood, doing whatever they want and rarely if ever facing any consequences as a result. It's always presented with a wink and a smile, just a case of boys being boys. We live in a world right »
- Drew McWeeny
Hell on Earth: Nemes’ Impressive, Unsettling Debut Plunges into the Darkness of WWII
Hungarian director Laszlo Nemes makes an impressive debut with Son of Saul, a fixed perspective account of the last throes of Auschwitz in World War II as seen from the eyes of a Sonderkommando (Jews forced to aid in the assistance of the operations of the gas chambers). Needless to say, this is incredibly challenging material to sit through, a type of examination that does not serve to entertain or explain, but defines a particular experience rarely examined this closely. This particular recollection of the concentration camps is bound to aggravate some, and repel others. But Nemes, who once served as an assistant director for fellow Hungarian auteur Bela Tarr, doesn’t seem interested in any sort of placating. Instead, his film is representative of an incomprehensible horror told through the experience of sensory perception. There »
- Nicholas Bell
Kristen Stewart 'On the Road' dancing, with Garrett Hedlund on the right Down memory lane: Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart 'On the Road' images At the time best known as The Twilight Saga's conflicted human Bella Swan, Kristen Stewart was cast as the exuberant Marylou in Walter Salles' film adaptation of Jack Kerouac's iconic 1950s novel On the Road. Salles had been impressed with Stewart's pre-Twilight work in Sean Penn's Into the Wild. Based on LuAnne Henderson, Kerouac's close buddy Neal Cassady's first wife, Marylou is described as a "beautiful little sharp chick." Apparently, one who also likes to move seductively to the sound of music – as can be attested by the Kristen Stewart picture above, which first came out online in early 2011. Besides Stewart, On the Road also features Garrett Hedlund – at the time best known for Tron: Legacy – as Dean Moriarty, »
- Zac Gille
All week long our writers will debate: Which was the greatest film year of the past half century. Check here for a complete list of our essays. Just one glance at the Oscar nominees for 1998 might make it seem less a questionable choice for “best year in film” — and more an insane one. Instead of a 1974 – The Godfather II, The Conversation, Chinatown, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, etc – or even a 1994, where Shawshank, Quiz Show, and Pulp Fiction lost to Gump – you choose a year where the Oscars would allow Roberto Benigni to climb atop both the figurative and literal chairs of the Shrine? Fine, step away from the Oscars. Would you still celebrate a year that saw not one, but two movies about asteroids threatening the Earth? A year that saw such scars carved across cinematic history as Patch Adams, My Giant, Stepmom, and Krippendorf’s Tribe? It bears repeating: Krippendorf’S Tribe? »
- Michael Oates Palmer
With Hollywood looking for franchises wherever it can find them, it seems mighty odd that The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, a highly successful novel with a film adaptation that had Rooney Mara, David Fincher, and James Friggin’ Bond attached, is not already swimming in sequels. The American version of Stieg Larsson’s novel wasn’t exactly a blockbuster, but it made $233 million worldwide on a $90 million budget. It seems like a no-brainer.
Now there’s talk from THR that a sequel could arrive soon enough, but Sony is debating the possibility of turning Larsson’s last two books, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, into a single film. They may even lump in a new novel starring hacker Lisbeth Salander by David Lagercrantz called The Girl in the Spider’s Web. Larsson passed away in 2004, before the books were even »
- Brian Welk
Has Roberto Benigni taught us nothingc As Disney continues to find ways to revamp their animated filmography with live-action, CG-infested remakes, it has just been announced Disney will make a Pinocchio-inspired live-action feature to arrive at a theater near you soon. No director is attached at the moment, though Peter Hedges (What's Eating Gilbert Grape, About a Boy) signed on to pen a screenplay loosely based on the original tale of a wooden boy who becomes a real boy. Reports suggest this new Pinocchio will, like the original text, focus more on the father-son relationship, which also serves as a look between creator and his creation. Of course, this is not the first time, in animation or live-action, the tale of Pinocchio comes back to the screen. But it's also not the first recent attempt to bring the little boy back to cinematic life. At one point in time »
- Will Ashton
Disney is developing a project loosely based on their 1940 animated classic Pinocchio, bringing on screenwriter Peter Hedges (The Odd Life of Timothy Green) to write the screenplay. This is the third live action adaptation of an animated movie that Disney has put into development over the past week, following Mulan and Winnie the Pooh. The studio has also announced new live action versions of Dumbo and Beauty and the Beast over the past few months.
The story of Pinocchio originated with author Carlo Collodi's 1883 novel The Adventures of Pinocchio, following a boy made out of wood who ultimately gets his wish to become a real human, but each time he tells a lie, his nose grows longer and longer. Peter Hedges' take on Pinocchio is said to be inspired by the original story, but no specific plot details were given. Director Guillermo del Toro is currently developing his own version of Pinocchio, »
The debut feature from writer-director Ruth Borgobello is in pre-production and the shoot will start in northern Italy on May 7
Flavio Parenti (To Rome with Love, I am Love ) is the lead, Marco, a 35-year-old who has a dispiriting job as a factory worker in Udine despite his skill as a chef amid the deepening economic crisis in Italy.
He passes his time in an empty relationship and after his best friend Claudio is killed in a car accident he tries to keep Claudio.s struggling bookshop business alive. Then he encounters Olivia, an aspiring furniture designer who is visiting Italy, the land of her father and grandparents.
- Don Groves
American Ultra stars Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg will be reunited later this year in another project: Woody Allen's next as yet untitled feature. Bruce Willis is the third cast member whose name has been publicly announced. The source for this information is an "exclusive" report via Deadline.com's Mike Fleming Jr. So far, as Fleming explains in his brief piece, Woody Allen and "his people" haven't confirmed the casting. In other words, things could change in the not-too-distant future. See also: Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt Movie Project, also featuring Laura Dern and Michelle Williams. Unsurprisingly, no plot details about the upcoming Woody Allen project have been forthcoming. In fact, one wonders if Kristen Stewart, Jesse Eisenberg, and Bruce Willis – in case they have indeed joined the fold – know what the movie is going to be about. Allen's latest collaborators – Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum and Edward Walson – will be producing the film. »
- Zac Gille
The Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov first came to the attention of the international film world in 2012 with “Gamer,” which screened to great acclaim at the Rotterdam Film Festival. Inspired by a computer and videogaming club for kids that Sentsov had founded, “Gamer” was shown in the Bright Future section of the festival for talented newcomers.
Today the “bright future” that Sentsov is looking at is 20 years in a Russian prison, accused of being a terrorist.
Sentsov was arrested in his home town of Simferopol, Crimea, in May 2014. Since then he has been tortured, locked up on false charges in Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo prison and refused access to representatives of the Ukrainian government.
A campaign by the European Film Academy for Sentsov’s release, »
- Mike Downey
Some people are angry that Channel 4 is developing Hungry, a comedy set in one of Ireland’s darkest times. But don’t judge a script before it’s written
The idea dies hard that comedy automatically trivialises – or disrespects – whatever it touches. There’s a hoohah right now about a sitcom script Channel 4 is developing, called Hungry, about the 19th-century Irish famine. Chortle records a recent dust-up on the subject at the London Irish comedy festival, at which one protestor railed: “Why not make comedy about Negro slavery? Why not make comedies about the Holocaust?” Why not, indeed? Dave Chappelle did so in the former case, Roberto Benigni in the latter – and in neither instance was the gravity of the original subjugation or slaughter diminished one jot.
What’s with the assumption that comedy is inherently disrespectful? Would the same protestors complain if Hollywood announced a historical drama about the famine? »
- Brian Logan
The Academy Awards offer a huge, guaranteed audience of both industry and civilian fans. That makes it a unique opportunity for stars and non-stars alike to act out with the assurance that someone, somewhere will be paying attention to them. And this has happened a lot. As we approach the 87th Academy Awards, let's take a look back at some of the strangest moments to grace Oscar night. Some Dude Steals Alice Brady's Oscar In 1938, as the story goes, an unidentified man strode onstage to accept Alice Brady's Best Supporting Actress Award (for In Old Chicago), because she »
- Alex Heigl, @alex_heigl
The secret to a great Oscars telecast is not a perfect set of winners or speeches; it's the fabulous Oscar presenters who really carry the whole thing. Presenting is a thankless task. You're given stale TelePrompter feed to read, and you probably spend more time onstage than most of the sputtering winners. You're doomed to be boring unless you try one of the five methods of Awesome Oscar Presentation we've outlined below. We hope this year's presenters take a hint from these wonderful podium moments. 1. The F. Murray Abraham method: Compliment the hell out of the winner Here's F. Murray Abraham dramatically presenting Best Actress at the 1986 ceremony. Watch as he drums up excitement with florid descriptions of each nominee and concludes by giving Geraldine Page an unprecedented compliment: "This is the greatest actor in the English language!" 2. The Sophia Loren method: Utter jubilation Roberto Benigni's hammy theatrics are a bit polarizing, »
- Louis Virtel
By Anjelica Oswald
Four different directors whose films are nominated for best picture could all win Oscars at Sunday’s ceremony.
Birdman, directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, and Boyhood, directed by Richard Linklater, are frontrunners in the best picture race. Both directors are nominated as co-producers on their respective films and both are also nominated for best director. If Inarritu wins for best picture and Linklater wins for best director (or vice versa), it would be the 24th time in Oscar history where best picture and best director have split.
Wes Anderson, director of The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Damien Chazelle, director of Whiplash, are nominated for original screenplay and adapted screenplay, respectively. Anderson co-produced The Grand Budapest Hotel.
If Anderson and Chazelle win for their screenplays (and Linklater and Inarritu win), it would be the second year in a row where three or more directors won at the same awards ceremony. »
- Anjelica Oswald
Sean Penn: Honorary César goes Hollywood – again (photo: Sean Penn in '21 Grams') Sean Penn, 54, will receive the 2015 Honorary César (César d'Honneur), the French Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Crafts has announced. That means the French Academy's powers-that-be are once again trying to make the Prix César ceremony relevant to the American media. Their tactic is to hand out the career award to a widely known and relatively young – i.e., media friendly – Hollywood celebrity. (Scroll down for more such examples.) In the words of the French Academy, Honorary César 2015 recipient Sean Penn is a "living legend" and "a stand-alone icon in American cinema." It has also hailed the two-time Best Actor Oscar winner as a "mythical actor, a politically active personality and an exceptional director." Penn will be honored at the César Awards ceremony on Feb. 20, 2015. Sean Penn movies Sean Penn movies range from the teen comedy »
- Steve Montgomery
By Anjelica Oswald
Set in 1960s Poland, Pawel Pawlikowski’s black-and-white drama Ida focuses on faith and identity after family secrets are revealed. Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska) is a young orphan brought up in a convent preparing to take her vows to become a nun. When told she must visit her aunt, her only living relative, Anna discovers she’s Jewish, her name is actually Ida and her parents were killed in WWII. Anna/Ida and her aunt embark on a journey to learn more about the family’s history and discover the truth about what happened.
The film landed on the Oscar shortlist for best foreign-language film and was nominated for a Golden Globe in the same category.
A number of foreign films focused on WWII have done well at the Oscars throughout the years. Ones based on real events include The Counterfeiters (2007), about the Nazis’ attempt to »
- Anjelica Oswald
20 items from 2015
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