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Eva Mattes, who turns 60 today, has been acting on stage and in front of the camera since she was twelve. Internationally, she'll probably always be associated with the New German Cinema. She was still a teenager when she appeared as a Vietnamese rape victim in Michael Verhoeven's o.k. (1970), which caused an uproar at the Berlinale. In 1979, Mattes won a Best Supporting Actress award in Cannes for her performance in Werner Herzog's Woyzeck. She'd previously worked with him on Stroszek (1977). She appeared in several films by Rainer Werner Fassbinder and played him two years after his death in Ein Mann wie Eva. More recently, Mattes has appeared in Frieder Schlaich's Otomo (1999), Jean-Jacques Annaud's Enemy at the Gates (2001) and Percy Adlon's Mahler on the Couch (2010). » - David Hudson »
Whether you want to immerse yourself in the world of birds, bees, baseball or backup singers, Netflix has a documentary for you. Missed "Man on Wire"? It's on there.
Here are films that changed the world, righted wrongs, pinpointed a moment in history, or simply shone a light on a previously unknown subset of society. (Availability subject to change. Films are unrated, except as noted.)
1. "20 Feet from Stardom" (2013) PG-13
2. "The Act of Killing" (2012)
The director invited killers -- men who took part in the horrific purge that left more than 500,000 dead in Indonesia in the 1960s -- to reenact their crimes on film, resulting in a bizarre look inside the mind of men capable of mass murder.
3. "The Battered Bastards of Baseball" (2014)
Two filmmakers pay homage to their grandfather, »
- Sharon Knolle
Riga, Latvia — The Berlin Film Festival is to present its Berlinale Camera award, which goes to personalities or institutions to which it feels particularly indebted, to food activists and Slow Food founders Alice Waters and Carlo Petrini.
The presentation will take place on Feb. 8 as part of the kickoff of the fest’s Culinary Cinema section.
In 2006, the Berlinale introduced the subject of cinema’s relationship with food — the first A-festival to do so. Among others, Waters and Petrini discussed this relationship with young film professionals at the “Hunger, Food & Taste” workshop of the 4th Berlinale Talent Campus.
“Waters and Petrini gave the Berlinale in 2006 not only new ideas that led to the creation of the Culinary Cinema section in 2007, but also inspired ‘Food & Film’ events in many other countries,” festival director Dieter Kosslick said.
Author and cook Waters, described by the New York Times as a “food revolutionary,” named »
- Leo Barraclough
Exclusive: The Butler producer Cassian Elwes and the Black List have chosen Mike Harden to receive the Cassian Elwes Independent Screenwriting Fellowship in the award’s second year of making Hollywood dreams come true. The Cinderella honor grants a worthy new (and agent-less) voice in screenwriting with a whirlwind trip to the Sundance Film Festival under the mentorship of indie film veteran Elwes and the Black List staff.
Eligible writers can’t have earned more than $5,000 to date from their projects, and Harden fits the bill: The East Bridgewater, Massachusetts native was working as a part-time real estate agent, in the shipping department of a wholesale retailer, and writing corporate videos and small films while building his writing career on the side. He landed on the Black List’s radar with his script A Good Man, a violent crime thriller set in Brockton, Mass. A Good Man was one of »
- Jen Yamato
Exclusive: Post-apocalyptic comic series Marksmen is eyeing a jump to the screen via Benderspink and Benaroya Pictures, who are teaming to produce a feature adaptation of the action-thriller saga. Marksmen takes place in a dystopian future America where civil war over oil resources has left New San Diego as the last remaining bastion of peace and prosperity, protected by walls by the titular militant guards. Drake McCoy is the best of the Marksmen, who leads his small but skilled team as an invading army from the Lone Star State lays siege to their home in an attempt to steal the city’s energy technology.
It’s the latest comic book property to join the development slate at Benderspink, which optioned rights to Marksmen from Benaroya Publishing, who first issued the comic in 2011. The comic was developed in-house by the Kill Your Darlings and Margin Call company’s publishing arm and was created by Michael Benaroya, »
- Jen Yamato
Chicago – Along with your local library’s DVD section and equality, Antarctica remains one of the general world’s greatest oversights, even though it’s the size of a continent (because it is one). Around this time of year, the North Pole gets a huge shoutout for its mass production of brand items, but it’s the South Pole that forever remains in the shadow of everything else in the world, only mentioned in films like Werner Herzog’s 2007 documentary “Encounters at the End of the World,” or that 2009 Kate Beckinsale snow thriller “Whiteout.”
As it turns out from Herzog’s doc and now first-timer Anthony Powell, there is more to Antarctica than a giant rock of frozen water. And where Herzog’s (highly recommended) documentary comes solely from his viewpoint as definitively curious outsider, this week’s release “Antarctica: A Year On Ice” by Powell presents the continent from an insider’s perspective. »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
After a four-year slowdown due to the economic recession and the Arab Spring shockwaves, Morocco is back with a bang and proving once again a hotspot for big U.S. shoots.
“Mission Impossible 5,” “Queen of the Desert” and “A Hologram for the King” along with 30 other foreign films and TV productions sailed to Morocco in 2014, investing an estimated $120 million on local soil, a 420% year-on-year jump.
Mendes and Bond star Daniel Craig recently traveled to Oujda, in northeastern Morocco, to shoot a small scene in a train — one that’s not electrified.
“Oujda is pretty spectacular: It’s surrounded by the desert,” said Zakaria Alaoui, who runs one of Morocco’s leading shingles, Zak Productions, and signed a one-year exclusive contract to work on the Bond movie.
The production will return in June »
- Elsa Keslassy
Gloriously bonkers. Like, Looney Tunes levels of cartoon madness. You will laugh your homo sapiens head off. I’m “biast” (pro): mostly love the Madagascar movies, really love the penguins
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
The hilarious paramilitary penguins of the Madagascar flicks have their own movie, and it is gloriously bonkers. Like, Looney Tunes levels of cartoon madness. You will laugh your homo sapiens head off. Penguins of Madagascar is closest in tone to what I called the “animated anarchy” of the third film, Europe’s Most Wanted… about which, I said two years ago, it felt as if the “cool, smooth nonsense of the penguins’ outrageous schemes… was allowed to take over the entire film.” Now this has actually happened, and there was much rejoicing. The plot is entirely superfluous. All you need to know is that »
- MaryAnn Johanson
Rachael Rakes and Leo Goldsmith have won a grant to complete a book on Peter Watkins. More film book news: Miranda July's debut novel, The First Bad Man, will be out on January 13. Iain Sinclair reviews Werner Herzog: A Guide for the Perplexed: Conversations with Paul Cronin for the Tls. For Slate, Michelle Orange reviews a reissue of MacDonald Harris's 1982 novel Screenplay. In the Los Angeles Review of Books, Andrew Nette revisits the 1970 novel by Ted Lewis that became Get Carter. And in the New York Times, Janet Maslin reviews Scott Saul's Becoming Richard Pryor. » - David Hudson »
The new issue of cléo features interviews with Sally Potter and Julie Taymor, a profile of Sylvia Schedelbauer and articles on Alexander Payne’s Election, Jonathan Lynn's Clue, Mia Hansen-Løve's Eden, John Fawcett’s Ginger Snaps and Jon Hall's Beach Girls and the Monster. Necsus has rolled out its autumn issue with and essay by the late Harun Farocki. In the new journal Kinetophone, we can read about Dario Argento's Opera, Jean-Jacques Beineix's Diva, Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo and Federico Fellini's E la nave va. The new Cineaste is out and Fireflies is preparing its second issue on Abbas Kiarostami and Béla Tarr. » - David Hudson »
When it comes to the Madagascar series of films, there are the main characters, and then there are those scene-stealing penguins. They're the secret bedrock of the series, the funniest characters in the bunch, the consistent comic relief who both ground the films and heighten the craziness of the shenanigans and goings-on. It's not a surprise that the penguins have been the stars of most of the Madagascar spin-offs, including their own television series and a bunch of specials. It's not a surprise that, with the Madagascar gang having wrapped up a pretty solid trilogy of entertaining flicks, that the first spin-off be given to the comic relief.
The penguins are the most entertaining characters in Madagascar's animal kingdom, so it's not surprising that they've also got one of »
Throughout the first Madagascar film, four cuddly penguins remained on the sidelines, waddling onscreen whenever comic relief was needed. In 2008, the penguins were given their own television show but limited profits caused it to be cancelled in 2012, after only three seasons. Now, directors Eric Darnell (Madagascar) and Simon J. Smith (Bee Movie) have decided to give the beloved penguins another go in their own film, entitled Penguins of Madagascar.
We open up with a prologue detailing how the four penguins came together. As soon as the voice-over narration by Werner Herzog is heard, audience should know what they’re in for, and that’s material that can be enjoyed by both children and adults alike. As Herzog’s documentary crew observes, Kowalski (Chris Miller) and Rico (Conrad Vernon) are trailing their leader Skipper (Tom McGrath) along a line of other penguins. As the trio is marching, an egg rolls by. »
- Matt Hoffman
This year however, Steve James did make the list with his documentary Life Itself, based on the life of Roger Ebert, along with the presumed frontrunner Citizenfour, which some are demanding earn a nomination for Best Picture.
Here’s the full list of 15 feature documentaries, all of which will now be eligible to choose from for nomination come January.
Art and Craft
The Internet’s Own Boy
Keep On Keepin’ On
While this is a fairly representative list, 2014 was an especially great year for documentaries, »
- Brian Welk
Many people may know Les Blank most for his association with Werner Herzog, who he filmed while on the brink of creative madness in Burden of Dreams and earlier in Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe, in which the notoriously true-to-his-word filmmaker indeed ate his shoe after having promised he’d do so if Errol Morris managed to finish his pet cemetery film, Gates of Heaven. But those ignoring the larger majority of Blank’s overflowing oeuvre would be sorely missing out on the jubilance of life that the quietly curious documentarian managed to strike on film with just his trusty 16mm Eclair, his appreciation for cultures of all kinds, and a fervent hunger for life. Sadly, Blank passed away in the spring of last year, just weeks before receiving the Outstanding Achievement Award and a restored retrospective of his body of work in Toronto at the Hot Docs Film Festival, »
- Jordan M. Smith
As CEO of DreamWorks Animation, Jeffrey Katzenberg has seen a huge upheaval in the Hollywood landscape over the past 20 years. The carefully-crafted 2D animations have fallen by the wayside, as souped-up digital blockbusters like Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar have taken their place.
Katzenberg, who oversaw an animation renaissance during his tenure as Walt Disney Studios chairman (which spanned from The Little Mermaid to Tarzan), isn't wistful for those heady days. "I don't have a nostalgic gene in me," he told Digital Spy. "What I find most valuable focusing on are my mistakes and on the things that went badly because I find my best lessons come from the things I did wrong, not the things I did right."
The studio boss addressed latest offering Penguins of Madagascar, what's in store for DreamWorks and why the industry has let the public down with its approach to 3D.
There's a »
Tim here. I’m going to spend most of the remaining weeks of 2014 taking a look at some of the 20 films submitted to for the Best Animated Feature Oscar. These will mainly be the little underdogs that don’t really have a chance for a nomination, but deserve our attention as lovers of movies anyway.
But first, a different kind of film that doesn’t have a chance at receiving any Oscar buzz: this week’s new Penguins of Madagascar, the 30th release by DreamWorks Animation, and the last wide-release animated feature of the year. If I may confess my sins to all of you, I was actually looking forward to this, kind of: the penguins of the Madagascar film trilogy have been reliable stand-outs for as long as the franchise has existed: a wacky military squadron comprised of an ebullient Skipper (Tom McGrath), no-nonsense Kowalski (Chris Miller), wide-eyed moron Private (Christopher Knights), and demented, »
- Tim Brayton
Chicago – The only thing rarer than a spinoff that soars over its inspiration is a DreamWorks Animation production without “Dragon” in the title, and one that’s actually worth watching. Improbably, “Penguins Of Madagascar” is both.
To be honest, I’ve felt the “Madagascar” series to be typical of DreamWorks decidedly second-tier status in the field of animation. They lacked the imagination of Pixar’s best efforts, and settled for the usual collection of celebrity voices and overly hyperactive animation, topped off with a generic frenetic dance sequence that fades from memory before the beat even stops. While “Penguins” doesn’t exactly set itself apart per se, it does freshen up the formula and shows why it became popular in the first place.
This film sends the quartet of Skipper, Kowalski, Private, and Rico into their own secret agent spy adventure beginning with an inventive heist at Fort Knox. »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
Whether in TV or movies, spin-offs are risky, never more so than when the figures being spun off are wacky supporting characters who must now carry the story themselves. What made viewers happy in small doses may overwhelm them when it’s administered in jumbo servings. You may think you want a bowl of Lucky Charms with nothing but marshmallows, but really, you don’t. But the quartet of conniving penguins who have consistently been the funniest part of the Madagascar films (and who already have their own Nickelodeon TV series) have now successfully launched their own movie with Penguins of Madagascar, a zippy action comedy that’s closer in spirit to Looney Tunes than the usual DreamWorks offering. Directed by franchise veteran Eric Darnell and DreamWorks stalwart Simon J. Smith, and written by a trio of men whose experience is mostly in live-action, the film is stuffed with jokes for kids and their parents (including a »
- Eric D. Snider
If one were to speculate about fiercely independent filmmaker Les Blank’s politics, via the worldview presented in his wondrously luminous documentaries, it would quickly come down to one option: libertarianism. Distilled down to their essence, Blank’s offbeat, yet inconspicuous and low-key documentaries, indebted to cinéma vérité without being purist about it, were often concerned with capturing the natural simplicity of unencumbered life, following those with the liberty to explore the fundamentals of existence and to self-express. Perennially fascinated with music, food, and marginalized cultures, Blank’s casual, unobtrusive films are primal in the sense that they seem built for the very reason the camera was invented: to capture images that would otherwise be unseen for the purpose of communicating back something new and vivid to the rest of the world. Perhaps best described to a newcomer as a kindred spirit to Werner Herzog—a friend and colleague he. »
- The Playlist Staff
We're very excited that Lola, one of our favorite film journals, has started to roll out its 5th issue entitled "Shows." The pieces published so far include Joe McElhaney on German filmmakers in Hollywood, Lesley Stern on the "Ghostliness of Gesture", and Dorian Stuber & Marianne Tettlebaum on To Be or Not to Be. Still to come: "essays on Claire Denis, Eduardo Coutinho, anime, Blade Runner, the filmic object, film criticism, and more ... plus a special interview with James Benning." The Museum of the Moving Image's "First Look" lineup has been announced and includes new films by Ulrich Seidl, Ken Jacobs, and Gina Telaroli. The series will be running between January 9th and 18th. For Criterion, Farren Smith Nehme writes on Frank Capra's It Happened One Night:
"An ideal romantic comedy doesn’t ignore reality; it converses with it. The Depression may be softened by moonlight and shining eyes, »
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