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1-20 of 49 items from 2006   « Prev | Next »


Chicago film critics circle 'The Departed'

28 December 2006 | ioncinema | See recent ioncinema news »

- The Chicago's film critics gave a trio of year’s best prizes to The Departed picking up Best Feature, director and adapted screenplay. The usual suspects won for acting awards and Emmanuel Lubezki looks like a sure pick for best cinematography at the Oscars this year for Children of Men. Futuristic film The Fountain won for best original score. Finally Rian Johnson was named most promising filmmaker for Brick. Here are the complete noms and winners (*). Best Picture"Babel"**The Departed**"Little Miss Sunshine""The Queen""United 93"Best Foreign-language Film:"Apocalypto"**Letters From Iwo Jima**"Pan's Labyrinth""Tsotsi""Volver"Best DIRECTORClint Eastwood for "Letters From Iwo Jima"Stephen Frears for "The Queen"Paul Greengrass for "United 93"Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for "Babel"**Martin Scorsese** for "The Departed"Best Original Screenplay"Babel" -Guillermo Arriaga"Letters From Iwo Jima" -Iris Yamashita"Little Miss Sunshine" -Michael Arndt**The Queen »

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Blanchett's Fears for Dench Fight

28 December 2006 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Cate Blanchett feared she would be too starstruck to hurl her revered co-star Dame Judi Dench against a wall during an onscreen fight scene. The actress was crippled by nerves ahead of the Notes on a Scandal shoot in case she injured the 72-year-old Oscar winner in the violent gesture. She recalls, "(Judi) had this Ninja Turtle pad on her back to protect her. "We finished shooting, and went to have a glass of champagne. 'Phew!' we said. And then they asked us to do it again." Blanchett has received a Golden Globe nomination for her supporting actress role in the film. »

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Phoenix critix tap United 93 as Best Pic

21 December 2006 | ioncinema | See recent ioncinema news »

- Following in the steps of the Dallas assn., the critics from sunny state Arizona also selected United 93 as the best feature. Here is the complete set of winners of the Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards. Winners of the 2006 Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards Best Film: "United 93" directed by Paul GreengrassRunners-up (in alphabetical order): "Babel""Bobby""Borat""Children of Men" "The Departed""The Last King of Scotland" "Letters from Iwo Jima" "Little Miss Sunshine""The Queen"Best Foreign-Language Film: "Letters from Iwo Jima," directed by Clint EastwoodBest Director: Martin Scorsese, "The Departed" Best Actor: Forest Whitaker, "The Last King of Scotland"Best Actress: Helen Mirren, "The Queen"Best Supporting Actor: Jack Nicholson, "The Departed"Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett, "Notes on a Scandal"Best Original Screenplay: Michael Arndt, "Little Miss Sunshine"Best Adapted Screenplay: William Monahan, "The Departed"Best Ensemble Acting: "Little Miss Sunshine"Best Documentary: "An Inconvenient Truth, »

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Queen tops of 2006 T.O critic's list

20 December 2006 | ioncinema | See recent ioncinema news »

- The Toronto Film Critics Association were faithful to the commonwealth - voting The Queen as the top feature, best screenplay, actress and best supporting actor. Canadian doc Manufactured Landscapes picked up best Canadian film and best documentary. Here are the year’s best list: Best Picture The Queen Best Director (tie): Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne - L'enfant (The Child), Stephen Frears - The Queen Best Actor: Sacha Baron Cohen -Borat Best Actress: Helen Mirren - The Queen Best Supporting Actor: Michael Sheen - The Queen Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett - Notes on a Scandal Best Screenplay: The Queen - Peter Morgan Best Foreign Language Film: L'enfant (The Child) , Belgium Best Animated Film: Happy Feet Best Canadian Film: Manufactured Landscapes Best Documentary: Manufactured Landscapes Best First Film: Jason Reitman - Thank You For Smoking »

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Toronto critics anoint 'Queen' best picture

20 December 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

TORONTO -- The Toronto Film Critics Assn. on Tuesday chose Stephen Frears' The Queen as the best picture of 2006.

The royal drama dominated the voting, with Helen Mirren earning best actress for her portrayal of a frosty Queen Elizabeth II facing the emotionally charged death of Princess Diana, Michael Sheen winning best supporting actor for his performance as British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Peter Morgan taking the screenplay award.

Frears split the best director nod with Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne for their Belgian drama L'Enfant, winner of the Palme D'or at the year's Festival de Cannes.

The other multiple winner this year was Canadian filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal, who picked up the best documentary feature and best Canadian film citations for Manufactured Landscapes, a film shot in China about the world and work of Canadian artist Edward Burtynsky.

Other TFCA awards saw Sacha Baron Cohen winning best actor for his star turn in Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, and Cate Blanchett earning best supporting actress honors for Notes On a Scandal.

Jason Reitman's Thank You For Smoking was the critics' pick for best first feature, while George Miller's Happy Feet earned top honors in the animated feature category. »

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Blanchett to receive P.S. career award

20 December 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Cate Blanchett will be honored at the 18th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival with its Career Achievement Award.

The fest, which runs Jan. 4-15, also will present composer Philip Glass with its Frederick Loewe Award for Film Composing at its Awards Gala, which is set for Jan. 6 at the Palm Springs Convention Center.

The prolific Blanchett, who received an Oscar for best supporting actress in 2005 for The Aviator, stars in Babel, The Good German and Notes on a Scandal.

Said festival chairman Earl Greenburg, "Cate Blanchett is one of the greatest talents of our generation, and after reviewing her work in 'Notes on a Scandal' and 'The Good German, ' we had to single her out and recognize her for those performances as well as her ensemble performance in 'Babel.' "

Glass, who has received two Oscar nominations for his scores for Kundun and The Hours, is represented this year onscreen by his work on The Illusionist and Notes on a Scandal.

Added Greenburg: "Philip Glass remains one of the most important American composers of our generation." »

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Toronto critics anoint 'Queen' best picture

20 December 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

TORONTO -- The Toronto Film Critics Assn. on Tuesday chose Stephen Frears' The Queen as the best picture of 2006.

The royal drama dominated the voting, with Helen Mirren earning best actress for her portrayal of a frosty Queen Elizabeth II facing the emotionally charged death of Princess Diana, Michael Sheen winning best supporting actor for his performance as British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Peter Morgan taking the screenplay award.

Frears split the best director nod with Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne for their Belgian drama L'Enfant, winner of the Palme D'or at the year's Festival de Cannes.

The other multiple winner this year was Canadian filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal, who picked up the best documentary feature and best Canadian film citations for Manufactured Landscapes, a film shot in China about the world and work of Canadian artist Edward Burtynsky.

Other TFCA awards saw Sacha Baron Cohen winning best actor for his star turn in Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, and Cate Blanchett earning best supporting actress honors for Notes On a Scandal.

Jason Reitman's Thank You For Smoking was the critics' pick for best first feature, while George Miller's Happy Feet earned top honors in the animated feature category. »

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'Queen' anointed in Toronto

20 December 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

TORONTO -- The Toronto Film Critics Assn. on Tuesday chose Stephen Frears' The Queen as the best picture of 2006.

The royal drama dominated the voting, with Helen Mirren earning best actress for her portrayal of a frosty Queen Elizabeth II facing the emotionally charged death of Princess Diana, Michael Sheen winning best supporting actor for his performance as British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Peter Morgan taking the screenplay award.

Frears split the best director nod with Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne for their Belgian drama L'Enfant, winner of the Palme D'or at the year's Festival de Cannes.

The other multiple winner this year was Canadian filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal, who picked up the best documentary feature and best Canadian film citations for Manufactured Landscapes, a film shot in China about the world and work of Canadian artist Edward Burtynsky.

Other TFCA awards saw Sacha Baron Cohen winning best actor for his star turn in Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, and Cate Blanchett earning best supporting actress honors for Notes On a Scandal.

Jason Reitman's Thank You For Smoking was the critics' pick for best first feature, while George Miller's Happy Feet earned top honors in the animated feature category. »

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Toronto critics anoint 'Queen' best picture

19 December 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

TORONTO -- The Toronto Film Critics Assn. on Tuesday chose Stephen Frears' "The Queen" as the best picture of 2006.

The royal drama dominated the voting, with Helen Mirren earning best actress for her portrayal of a frosty Queen Elizabeth II facing the emotionally charged death of Princess Diana, Michael Sheen winning best supporting actor for his performance as British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Peter Morgan taking the screenplay award.

Frears split the best director nod with Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne for their Belgian drama "L'Enfant", winner of the Palme D'or at the year's Festival de Cannes.

The other multiple winner this year was Canadian filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal, who picked up the best documentary feature and best Canadian film citations for "Manufactured Landscapes", a film shot in China about the world and work of Canadian artist Edward Burtynsky.

Other TFCA awards saw Sacha Baron Cohen winning best actor for his star turn in "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," and Cate Blanchett earning best supporting actress honors for "Notes On a Scandal".

Jason Reitman's "Thank You For Smoking" was the critics' pick for best first feature, while George Miller's "Happy Feet" earned top honors in the animated feature category. »

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Dallas critics opt for 'United 93'

18 December 2006 | ioncinema | See recent ioncinema news »

- The Dallas film critics spread their best of 06' picks this year - Scorsese walks off with Best Director, but Paul Greengrass' United 93 is tops with Best Picture. Here are the selected winners from the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Assn. Best Film: United 93 Top 10 include: The Departed Little Miss Sunshine The Queen Babel Letters From Iwo Jima Dreamgirls Blood Diamond Little Children Flags of Our Fathers Best Director: Martin Scorsese - The Departed Best Actor: Forest Whitaker - The Last King of Scotland Best Actress: Helen Mirren - The Queen Best Supporting Actor: Jackie Earle Haley - Little Children Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett - Notes on a Scandal Best Foreign Language film: Letters From Iwo Jima Best Documentary Film: An Inconvenient Truth Best Animated film: Happy Feet Best Screenplay: Michael Arndt - Little Miss Sunshine Best Cinematography: Dean Semler - Apocalypto »

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'Babel' Towers Over Rivals in Golden Globe Noms

15 December 2006 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Ensemble drama Babel leads the nominations at next year's Golden Globe Awards, boasting seven nods including Best Dramatic Picture and an acting accolade for star Brad Pitt. The film, spanning several countries telling four inter-related stories, sees Pitt praised in the Best Actor In A Supporting Role category. He'll battle it out alongside Ben Affleck (Hollywoodland) and Eddie Murphy (Dreamgirls), as well as The Departed co-stars Jack Nicholson and Mark Wahlberg. The mob thriller earned a total of six nominations yesterday. Babel's Rinko Kikuchi and Adriana Barraza also received supporting acting nods, along with Cate Blanchett for Notes On A Scandal, Emily Blunt for The Devil Wears Prada and Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls. But it's Leonardo DiCaprio who looks most likely to convert an acting nomination into a trophy after being named twice in the Best Actor category. His performances in The Departed and Blood Diamond are up against Peter O'Toole's in Venus, Will Smith's in The Pursuit Of Happyness and Forest Whitaker's portrayal of former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King Of Scotland. Actor-turned-director Clint Eastwood is another star with a double reason to celebrate - Flags Of Our Fathers competes against his other war film Letters From Iwo Jima in the Best Director category. Meanwhile, Dame Helen Mirren stands to win three awards at the star-studded Hollywood ceremony next month. Her role as monarch-in-crisis Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen pits her against another veteran British actress, Dame Judi Dench, for Notes On A Scandal. Penelope Cruz is also a strong contender for Best Actress in Volver, as well Maggie Gyllenhaal (SherryBaby) and Kate Winslet in the suburban drama Little Children. Mirren's other nods are for small screen work - her roles in Prime Suspect: The Final Act and period piece Elizabeth I could see her pick up a Best Actress In A Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made For Television. »

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List of Golden Globe nominees

14 December 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

MOTION PICTURES

Picture, Drama

"Babel", "Bobby", "The Departed", "Little Children", "The Queen"

Actress, Drama

Penelope Cruz, "Volver"; Judi Dench, "Notes on a Scandal"; Maggie Gyllenhaal, "Sherrybaby"; Helen Mirren, "The Queen"; Kate Winslet, "Little Children"

Actor, Drama

Leonardo DiCaprio, "Blood Diamond"; Leonardo DiCaprio, "The Departed"; Peter O'Toole, "Venus"; Will Smith, "The Pursuit of Happyness"; Forest Whitaker, "The Last King of Scotland"

Picture, Musical or Comedy

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," "The Devil Wears Prada", "Dreamgirls", "Little Miss Sunshine", "Thank You for Smoking"

Actress, Musical or Comedy

Annette Bening, "Running With Scissors"; Toni Collette, "Little Miss Sunshine"; Beyonce Knowles, "Dreamgirls"; Meryl Streep, "The Devil Wears Prada"; Renee Zellweger, "Miss Potter"

Actor, Musical or Comedy

Sacha Baron Cohen, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan"; Johnny Depp, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"; Aaron Eckhart, "Thank You for Smoking"; Chiwetel Ejiofor, "Kinky Boots"; Will Ferrell, "Stranger than Fiction"

Supporting Actress

Adriana Barraza, "Babel"; Cate Blanchett, "Notes on a Scandal"; Emily Blunt, "The Devil Wears Prada"; Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls"; Rinko Kikuchi, "Babel"

Supporting Actor

Ben Affleck, "Hollywoodland"; Eddie Murphy, "Dreamgirls"; Jack Nicholson, "The Departed"; Brad Pitt, "Babel"; Mark Wahlberg, "The Departed"

Director

Clint Eastwood, "Flags of Our Fathers"; Clint Eastwood, "Letters from Iwo Jima"; Steven Frears, "The Queen"; Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, "Babel"; Martin Scorsese, "The Departed"

Screenplay

Guillermo Arriaga, "Babel"; Todd Field and Tom Perrotta, "Little Children"; Patrick Marber, "Notes on a Scandal"; William Monahan, "The Departed"; Peter Morgan, "The Queen"

Foreign Language

"Apocalypto", USA; "Letters from Iwo Jima", USA/Japan; "The Lives of Others", Germany; "Pan's Labyrinth", Mexico; "Volver" Spain

Animated Film

"Cars", "Happy Feet", "Monster House"

Original Score

Alexandre Desplat, "The Painted Veil"; Clint Mansell, "The Fountain"; Gustavo Santaolalla, "Babel"; Carlo Siliotto, "Nomad"; Hans Zimmer, "The Da Vinci Code"

Original Song

"A Father's Way" from "The Pursuit of Happyness"; "Listen" from "Dreamgirls"; "Never Gonna Break My Faith" from "Bobby"; "The Song of the Heart" from "Happy Feet"; "Try Not to Remember" from "Home of the Brave"

TELEVISION

Series, Drama

"24," Fox; "Big Love", HBO; "Grey's Anatomy", ABC; "Heroes", NBC; "Lost", ABC

Actress, Drama

Patricia Arquette, "Medium"; Edie Falco, "The Sopranos"; Evangeline Lilly, "Lost"; Ellen Pompeo, "Grey's Anatomy"; Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer"

Actor, Drama

Patrick Dempsey, "Grey's Anatomy"; Michael C. »

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Broadcast Film Critics Association noms

12 December 2006 | ioncinema | See recent ioncinema news »

- Promoting themselves as a barometer for Oscar predictions – this pretty much group all the favorites and safe picks. Leading the pack are “Babel," "The Departed," "Dreamgirls" and "Little Miss Sunshine" each with seven nominations each. Now its in 12th year, the Critics Choice Award is voted on by film critics from almost 200 television, radio and online critics. The 12th annual Critics’ Choice Awards ceremony will be held on Friday, January 12, 2007, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Best Picture Babel Blood Diamond The Departed Dreamgirls Letters From Iwo Jima Little Children Little Miss Sunshine Notes on a Scandal The Queen United 93 Best Actor Leonardo DiCaprio - Blood Diamond Leonardo DiCaprio - The Departed Ryan Gosling - Half Nelson Peter O'Toole - Venus Will Smith - The Pursuit of Happyness Forest Whitaker - The Last King of Scotland Best Actress Penelope Cruz - Volver Judi Dench - Notes »

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Palm Springs to fete 'Babel' cast, director

12 December 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

The 18th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival, which runs Jan. 4-15, will honor the cast of Babel with the fest's first-ever Ensemble Performance Award and will recognize the film's director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, with its Director of the Year Award at its annual awards gala Jan. 6 at the Palm Springs Convention Center.

Cast members Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi are expected to attend, along with Inarritu.

"Babel' is truly a remarkable film, featuring a diverse cast of both actors and nonactors, all of whom contributed immeasurably to the power of this unique film," festival chairman Earl Greenburg said Thursday. »

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Notes on a Scandal

11 December 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

This review was written for the festival screening of "Notes on a Scandal".This may run counter of the auteur theory, but "Notes on a Scandal" feels much more like a film by writer Patrick Marber than by director Richard Eyre. Eyre does a fine job overseeing performances by a terrific cast that rings true until female hysteria takes over the final act. But in tone and theme, the film has all the hallmarks of playwright-screenwriter Marber's stark, uncompromising misanthropy, if not misogyny.

That would mean neurotic women daring to experiment with unconventional if not outlaw sexual relationships ("Asylum") and the depiction of love as tawdry acts of betrayal and exploitation ("Closer"). While "Scandal" is indeed based on a novel by another writer, Zoe Heller's "What Was She Thinking: Notes on a Scandal," Marber never bothers to import into his screen version any of the wit or subtlety that so pleased its literary critics. Instead, he goes for a dispiriting hard-heartedness.

To whom will such a film appeal? To misanthropes perhaps? Perhaps lonely, bitter folks with no Christmas bird to share with friends or family. Remarkably, Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench almost make sense of these extreme characters. Possibly enough enthusiasts of these fine actresses may turn out to deliver a modest art house boxoffice for Fox Searchlight.

The story tells of a scandal provoked by a colossally foolish affair between a married female schoolteacher and a 15-year-old male student. The arrival of art teacher Sheba Hart (Blanchett) at a comprehensive high school in north London catches everyone off guard. Her slightly bohemian manner and oddly out-of-fashion attire furrows the brows of fellow teachers and provokes sex-crazed male students. One student, Steven Connolly (Andrew Simpson), pursues her with great ardor. He has about him just enough modest artistic talent and a whiff of poverty within an abusive household to provoke her unhealthy interest.

Sheba appears to have a content home life with a lawyer husband several years her senior (Bill Nighy), a teen daughter (Juno Temple) at a difficult age and a cheerful son (Max Lewis) with Down syndrome. Perhaps that contentment comes from this being a household of "semiprofessional drinkers."

But none of these characters narrate the story. That tasks falls to diarist Barbara Covett (Dench), a history teacher nearing retirement who describes herself as a "battle-ax." Barbara takes the novice teacher under her wing. When she discovers the affair, she acts as mother confessor. When it becomes public knowledge, she acts as Sheba's only defender.

However, she proves both an unreliable narrator and friend. She sees Sheba's dilemma as a personal opportunity to gain the upper hand in the relationship. Marber's screen adaptation makes it clear that Barbara's friendship with and defense of Sheba springs from a strong Sapphic impulse.

Barbara believes the affair puts this good-looking woman in her power. When that power fails her, when Sheba shows insufficient compassion for her dying cat -- a cat, for Pete's sake -- Barbara makes certain rumors will spread, thereby destroying Sheba's life and family. From this point on, female hysteria reigns, egged on by an unusually emotional Philip Glass score.

For a while, two of the finest actresses in cinema make these characters believable. Nothing they do in the final act, however, retains this credibility. Nighy certainly earns our sympathy, though we don't really get to know the man. The youngsters are more props than flesh-and-blood characters, more like Barbara's cat, in fact.

On the plus side, the film nicely surveys the scruffy, genteel sections of contemporary London thanks to excellent design by Tim Hatley and cinematography by Chris Menges. »

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Notes on a Scandal

11 December 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

This may run counter of the auteur theory, but Notes on a Scandal feels much more like a film by writer Patrick Marber than by director Richard Eyre. Eyre does a fine job overseeing performances by a terrific cast that rings true until female hysteria takes over the final act. But in tone and theme, the film has all the hallmarks of playwright-screenwriter Marber's stark, uncompromising misanthropy, if not misogyny.

That would mean neurotic women daring to experiment with unconventional if not outlaw sexual relationships (Asylum) and the depiction of love as tawdry acts of betrayal and exploitation (Closer). While Scandal is indeed based on a novel by another writer, Zoe Heller's "What Was She Thinking: Notes on a Scandal," Marber never bothers to import into his screen version any of the wit or subtlety that so pleased its literary critics. Instead, he goes for a dispiriting hard-heartedness.

To whom will such a film appeal? To misanthropes perhaps? Perhaps lonely, bitter folks with no Christmas bird to share with friends or family. Remarkably, Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench almost make sense of these extreme characters. Possibly enough enthusiasts of these fine actresses may turn out to deliver a modest art house boxoffice for Fox Searchlight.

The story tells of a scandal provoked by a colossally foolish affair between a married female schoolteacher and a 15-year-old male student. The arrival of art teacher Sheba Hart (Blanchett) at a comprehensive high school in north London catches everyone off guard. Her slightly bohemian manner and oddly out-of-fashion attire furrows the brows of fellow teachers and provokes sex-crazed male students. One student, Steven Connolly (Andrew Simpson), pursues her with great ardor. He has about him just enough modest artistic talent and a whiff of poverty within an abusive household to provoke her unhealthy interest.

Sheba appears to have a content home life with a lawyer husband several years her senior (Bill Nighy), a teen daughter (Juno Temple) at a difficult age and a cheerful son (Max Lewis) with Down syndrome. Perhaps that contentment comes from this being a household of "semiprofessional drinkers."

But none of these characters narrate the story. That tasks falls to diarist Barbara Covett (Dench), a history teacher nearing retirement who describes herself as a "battle-ax." Barbara takes the novice teacher under her wing. When she discovers the affair, she acts as mother confessor. When it becomes public knowledge, she acts as Sheba's only defender.

However, she proves both an unreliable narrator and friend. She sees Sheba's dilemma as a personal opportunity to gain the upper hand in the relationship. Marber's screen adaptation makes it clear that Barbara's friendship with and defense of Sheba springs from a strong Sapphic impulse.

Barbara believes the affair puts this good-looking woman in her power. When that power fails her, when Sheba shows insufficient compassion for her dying cat -- a cat, for Pete's sake -- Barbara makes certain rumors will spread, thereby destroying Sheba's life and family. From this point on, female hysteria reigns, egged on by an unusually emotional Philip Glass score.

For a while, two of the finest actresses in cinema make these characters believable. Nothing they do in the final act, however, retains this credibility. Nighy certainly earns our sympathy, though we don't really get to know the man. The youngsters are more props than flesh-and-blood characters, more like Barbara's cat, in fact.

On the plus side, the film nicely surveys the scruffy, genteel sections of contemporary London thanks to excellent design by Tim Hatley and cinematography by Chris Menges.

»

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The Good German

1 December 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

When not making his Las Vegas heist movies, director Steven Soderbergh enjoys experimenting with film forms and genres. In The Good German, he takes Joseph Kanon's best-selling novel of intrigue, set amid the devastation and corruption of post-World War II Berlin, then imposes on himself the style and restrictions of American studio filmmaking of that era. Thus, German is in black and white, shot on the backlot and in Southern California locations subbing for exotic locales with newsreel footage and rear-screen projection for exterior backgrounds, while stars George Clooney, Cate Blanchett and Tobey Maguire emote in the foreground.

The visual style -- the camera setups, editing and scene-shifting wipes -- all scream Warner Bros. circa 1945, with an undisguised nod toward that studio's greatest wartime romance, Casablanca, even to the point of echoing the final sequence at an airport, where two lovers say goodbye for the last time, though for decidedly different reasons.

A stunt? Yes, of course, but a good one and well executed. It also allows Soderbergh and writer Paul Attanasio, in a smart, well-paced adaptation, to explore a moral complexity that never found its way into movies of that era. In German, a 1940s studio tale of honor and survival collides with the stark realities of hard choices made by people in the face of unimaginable horror. In the old studio versions, there was always a moral high ground; in German, that position is very hard to locate.

The demographics for this film might skew a little older than 2006 Warners might like. It calls for at least an appreciation of the old style of filmmaking. The leads will help sell the film to younger audiences, but what viewers un-familiar with Casablanca or Watch on the Rhine will make of the old-fashioned techniques is hard to say. Warners should enjoy at least modest success, and given the rising star power of Clooney, Blanchett and Maguire, possibly a breakout hit.

When war correspondent Jake Geismar (Clooney) returns to Berlin, a city where he ran the Associated Press bureau before the war, he discovers dramatic changes. It's not just street after street of bombed-out buildings and barely inhabitable rubble. It's how the laws of the jungle have seized everyone, occupier and occupied.

Russian soldiers have raped their way across Berlin. Yank soldiers, tasting for the first time the forbidden fruit of unrestricted moral boundaries, eagerly deal in the black market and commit crimes with impunity.

Jake enthusiastically accepted the New Republic's offer to cover the Allies' Potsdam Conference so he might track down a former lover, Lena Brandt (Blanchett), a married woman he hired as a stringer before the war. Tully (Maguire), a venal soldier from the Army motor pool assigned to drive him, has deep connections in the black market. Consequently, Jake finds Lena much sooner than he anticipated. Imagine his shock though to learn that Lena is a prostitute and Tully her lover-pimp. We're a long way from the reunion of Ilsa and Rick in Casablanca, aren't we?

What drives the melodrama is an intense manhunt for Lena's husband by U.S. and Soviet authorities. Emil Brandt was a mathematician who assisted a Nazi rocket scientist whom the American authorities are eager to spirit out of Berlin to work for the U.S. rocket program. Only Emil is privy to information regarding the scientist that would be most damning were it to come out in the press or a war crimes tribunal.

Lena insists Emil is dead. Indeed, he has left no trace. Yet Lena is in constant danger, and soon so is Jake. Tully meanwhile turns up dead in the Soviet sector with 100,000 German marks in his pocket.

Things go from bad to worse as Jake struggles to help Lena. Only Lena doesn't want his help. She keeps telling him she is not the woman he once knew. She is a survivor and has all the guilt, shame and dirty secrets that come with survival. Jake fails to listen -- to his own peril.

Thus, Jake, played with sturdy, masculine thickheadedness by Clooney, becomes our point of entry into the moral morass that is 1945 Berlin. Everyone is dirty. And, in the case of Army Colonel Muller (Beau Bridges) and Congressman Breimer (Jack Thompson), cheerfully so. They see the future, the Cold War, and have their eye on the prize -- ex-Nazi scientists and who cares about their crimes. Jake remains clueless until the end. After all, there must be such a thing as a good German, right?

Clooney adds to his increasingly prestigious rogues' gallery of film portraits as the one guy in this unsavory lot trying to stay clean. Blanchett gets everything right -- the accent, her German dialogue, the weary sexuality (deliberately reminiscent of Marlene Dietrich) and the amorality her character has embraced. Maguire is wonderful as a guileless young man for whom the war has unleashed hitherto unknown desires, excitement and greed.

The seamless mix of archival footage and sets is much superior to what was possible in 1945 Hollywood. The murky shadows and slightly smudged look of the cinematography -- by Soderbergh under the pseudonym Peter Andrews -- fit the old style, as well as the theme of darkness reaching out to blot the light. The editing -- also by Soderbergh under another pseudonym -- keeps things moving right along at a let's-get-to-the-point speed that even Jack Warner would have admired.

»

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Clooney Wearing All Hats Thru 2009

30 November 2006 | ioncinema | See recent ioncinema news »

- Quick Links  George Clooney  The Belmont Boys  White Jazz  LeatherheadsMichael ClaytonOcean's ThirteenThe Good German What do you do if you are an A-list actor and Oscar nominated director? If youâ€.re George Clooney, you ride the wave for all its worth and book yourself solid for a couple of years. Clooney currently has 7 projects in production or in the can including the highly anticipated and publicized Oceanâ€.s 13. The prêt essential Hollywood â€.jack-of-all-tradesâ€. is working as producer, director, writer and actor in projects that will take him through to 2009. Coming in 2007 Clooney will star with Renee Zellwigger in Leatherheads for Universal; a romantic comedy with a backdrop of â€.20s pro football. Clooney also penned the screenplay and helmed the pic. Also coming in 2007 is Clooneyâ€.s next teaming with Oceanâ€.s 13 mate Steven Soderbergh in The Good German for Warner; based on a novel by Joseph Kanon. »

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Palm Springs to fete 'Babel' cast, director

30 November 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

The 18th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival, which runs Jan. 4-15, will honor the cast of Babel with the fest's first-ever Ensemble Performance Award and will recognize the film's director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, with its Director of the Year Award at its annual awards gala Jan. 6 at the Palm Springs Convention Center.

Cast members Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi are expected to attend, along with Inarritu.

"Babel' is truly a remarkable film, featuring a diverse cast of both actors and nonactors, all of whom contributed immeasurably to the power of this unique film," festival chairman Earl Greenburg said Thursday. »

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'Borat' banks $28.3 mil to stay on top of b.o.

13 November 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

It was a case of deja vu at the North American boxoffice this weekend: The top three films from last weekend held on to their spots this frame, beating out numerous wide releases that were jockeying for top billing.

Between the expansion of 20th Century Fox's Borat earning $28.3 million and the amazingly strong holdovers of two family films -- Buena Vista Pictures' The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause and Paramount Pictures release of DreamWorks Animation's Flushed Away generating $16.9 million and $16.6 million, respectively -- it was too tough of a top three for any of the new releases to crack.

Sony Pictures' Stranger Than Fiction got closest to the coveted ranking, earning a fourth spot and a haul of $13.4 million. Focus Features' PG-13 horror flick The Return from its Rogue Pictures division had a much tougher time, grossing only $4.5 million in its three-day opener. And while Fox had fabulous news with its Borat expansion, not everyone at the studio was celebrating considering Fox 2000's romantic drama A Good Year starring Russell Crowe generated only $3.7 million in its opener.

Paramount Vantage had a challenging time with its expansion of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Babel. Upping its run to 1,251, the R-rated drama starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett grossed $5.6 million, earning a sixth spot at the boxoffice derby. However, with a per-theater average of $4,443, the film may have some difficulty sticking around in theaters until the awards season gets started, when the film is likely to reap some accolades.

MGM did not have much luck with its wide release this frame. The distributor unveiled Bauer Martinez's Harsh Times on 956 theaters to $2.0 million. From writer-director David Ayer, the film starring Christian Bale delivered a slim per-theater average of $2,059.

Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat is still the story of the weekend. Earning an additional $28.3 million in its second weekend of release, the R-rated comedic romp, which added 1,729 theaters to its run, has now earned close to $67 million after 10 days in release. »

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