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Keep up with the wild and wooly world of indie film acquisitions with our weekly Rundown of everything that’s been picked up around the globe. Check out last week’s Rundown here.
– Fox Searchlight will acquire the U.S., Canada and U.K. rights to to “The Old Man And The Gun,” Deadline reports. Director David Lowery’s drama stars Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek and Danny Glover and begins shooting on April 3.
Based on a true story, the film centers on bank robber and 17-time prison escapee Forrest Tucker (Redford). Affleck plays a detective obsessed with bringing Tucker to justice while Spacek plays Tucker’s love interest. The film is produced by Conde Nast Entertainment Wildwood Enterprises and Identity Films.
Read More: Film Acquisition Rundown: Neon Picks Up Errol Morris’ ‘The B-Side,’ FilmRise Gets Two Sundance Premieres and More
– Grasshopper Film has acquired the U.S. rights »
- Graham Winfrey
Come Sunday, a.k.a. Oscars night, we'll all be tipping our hats to the year's winners. But before we do that, here's to the "losers" – the worthy ones of 2016 that, for whatever cockamamie reason, didn't even get a nomination.
In an effort to do right where the Academy effed up, I give you the Travers Awards – my own personal version of the Alt-Oscars. (For those of you playing along at home, the award is an engraved image of a critic screaming.) It's one last chance to single out the »
While “The Neon Demon” might’ve died in theaters, only Amazon knows how it did on their service, but this much is clear: they want to stay in the Nicolas Winding Refn business. The streaming service which is nipping at the heels of the dominant Netflix, is eager to add high profile filmmakers to their roster, and giving them the budgets and freedom they need seems to have attracted top talent including Woody Allen, Whit Stillman, Jill Soloway, Todd Haynes, Jim Jarmusch, Park Chan-Wook….you get the idea.
Continue reading Nicolas Winding Refn Is ‘Too Old To Die Young’ At Amazon at The Playlist. »
- Kevin Jagernauth
IndieWire’s Springboard column profiles up-and-comers in the film industry worthy of your attention.
Don’t let newly minted multi-hyphenate Michelle Morgan’s resume fool you — she always wanted to be a writer. Although Morgan’s first official forays into the industry included small parts on shows like “CSI: Miami” and, yes, even “Saved By the Bell: The New Class” and an arc on “American Dreams,” she originally went to school for screenwriting and simply fell into acting.
And it wasn’t necessarily something that fueled her creatively, which is why Morgan eventually returned to writing, penning the scripts for John Stockwell’s “Middle of Nowhere” and Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini’s “Girl Most Likely.” In 2013, she turned to directing, with her amusing short “K.I.T,” which screened at Sundance. This time around at the festival, Morgan has combined all of her skills, and she not only »
- Kate Erbland
L.A. Times plays like the flipside of the coin that is Whit Stillman’s aristocratic male-centric New York, where snoots court debutantes and intellectualize feeling superior. In writer/director/star, Michelle Morgan’s West Coast, a group of friends attempt to find love, happiness, or just plain contentment in the superficial landscape of L.A. - not Los Angeles, but L.A., as Thom Anderson would say. There’s Annette, who never fails to tell the harsh truth despite how that makes her friends feel. There’s her best friend, Baker, an unlucky-in-love bachelorette who can’t seem to get a date, at least not the kind you’d traditionally want. Then we have Elliot, the TV writer whom Annette has just dumped for no good reason, other than her suspicions that she might not...
[Read the whole post on screenanarchy.com...] »
One week a month, Watch This offers movie recommendations inspired by the week’s new releases or premieres. This week: With Sundance in full swing, we’re looking back at some of the best directorial debuts that premiered at the festival.
House Party (1990)
House Party premiered at the 1990 Sundance Film Festival, part of a pack of extremely promising debut features that also included Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan, Hal Hartley’s The Unbelievable Truth, and Wendell B. Harris Jr.’s Chameleon Street, which took home the top prize. (Apart from those debuts, the main competition also featured Charles Burnett’s To Sleep With Anger, which belongs in a class of its own.) Perhaps those highlights give an idea of why the 1990s tend to be seen as the festival’s golden decade as a taste-making institution. It commanded media attention, but still seemed to hold on to the idea ...
- Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
London’s film critics were in lockstep with most of their peers around the globe as they gave their top honour to musical romance La La Land on Sunday. Damien Chazelle’s third movie won film of the year after being nominated in six categories. Ahead of the London Film Critics’ Circle award ceremony, Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight and Whit Stillman’s Love & Friendship led with seven nominations apiece, and each movie went home with two.
One of these they had to split between them: best supporting actor, which was a tie between Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali and Love & Friendship’s Tom Bennett. The latter film’s star, Kate Beckinsale, took the best British or Irish actress award for her performance as the toweringly bitchy Lady Susan. »
- Catherine Shoard
The challenge of finding the right romantic partner seems to be the theme of every other American indie at Sundance, and “L.A. Times” definitely suffers from privileged-white-people-natter-on-about-their-relationships fatigue. But first-time writer-director (and also star) Michelle Morgan brings just enough specificity, and a surprisingly sharp eye, to make the film an interesting calling card for future work. Whether there’s anything here that will appeal beyond a very small niche audience is another matter.
With a heavy dose of Whit Stillman and sprinklings of Woody Allen, Noah Baumbach, and Lena Dunham, among others, Morgan leans on her influences in exploring the intersecting lives and romances of three thirtysomething Angelenos, beginning with Annette (Morgan), an aspiring writer whose withering judgment of everyone and everything in her life proves impossibly irritating.
- Geoff Berkshire
Yes, Los Angeles is known as a city of artifice. “L.A. Times,” the debut feature from writer/director Michelle Morgan, follows a tradition of reveling in the tiny details of a particular La experience, while skewering the more unbearable traits of the city’s inhabitants. These episodes find comic sparks, but in the repetitive disappointments of its characters’ lives the film settles into a portrait of modern malaise with few distinguishing twists.
“L.A. Times” finds its core in Annette (Morgan), a once-aspiring author struggling to find fulfillment in her relationship with Elliot, a staff writer on a “Game of Thrones”-style hit show. Annette’s unhappy because she thinks other couples are happier; her single friend Baker (Dree Hemingway) is also unhappy, striking out with a series of men who include Jimmy (Adam Shapiro), the star of Elliot’s show. As the branches of Annette’s discontent grow, they snag »
- Steve Greene
Opening on intricately hand-painted, colorful postcards featuring Los Angeles sights, the distinct eye of Michelle Morgan immediately emerges. Her directorial debut, which she also wrote and leads, takes inspiration from a variety of sources, from these Wes Anderson-esque opening credits to the Whit Stillman-styled dialogue, but as the film progresses and a comedic rhythm clicks into place, L.A. Times blazes its own distinct, disenchanted trail of romance in the modern age.
Annette (Morgan) couldn’t ask for a nicer boyfriend than Elliot (Jorma Taccone, flexing more than capable dramatic muscles alongside the comedy), a TV writer for a Game of Thrones rip-off who pays all their bills. However, as Annette looks at the seemingly happier couples in their friend cricle and begins to nitpick Elliot’s actions — limited to making her walk uphill, help with taking in the garbage cans, and inquiring about the acting gig of a »
- Jordan Raup
Sundance 2016 will always be remembered for the record-breaking $17.5 million sale of Nate Parker’s “The Birth of a Nation” to Fox Searchlight, on the heels of the #oscarsowhite backlash — and for the massive marketing fallout that followed in light of Parker’s rape-trial acquittal. With a domestic gross under $16 million, it led to one of the bigger failures among Sundance sales relative to expense.
Netflix outbid Searchlight for “The Birth of a Nation,” but the producers favored the theatrical route (including that company’s proven awards expertise and commercial success) and accepted less money. One wonders if it had been a high-profile Netflix film if the post-Sundance controversy about Nate Parker’s college days would have had the same impact or effect. It will be curious to see if any producer this year is as quick to turn down a high offer from Netflix or similar non-theatrical buyer.
Those memories could temper bidding wars, »
- Tom Brueggemann
Over the course of 21 years and four features, Whit Stillman's dominant themes as a storyteller have remained steady: an affectionate contempt for the economically and intellectually well-off and their aspirations to become even better; and a love of using language as a dueling weapon, with characters using dialogue as a means of asserting superiority and dominance. In both of these respects, we might say that he's always been making Jane Austen movies. For what are Austen's books, if not loving but merciless dissections of the social codes of the upper-middle-class of her own world?
The marriage of Stillman and Austen was thus as inevitable as it proves to be welcome with Love & Friendship, which nobody could recklessly call "the best" Austen adaptation ever. But it might be the most Austen-esque »
- Tim Brayton
The films of eccentric French writer-director Eugène Green aren’t for every taste—they’re deliberate, declamatory, highly formalized, anti-modern. But those willing to tune into his peculiar wavelength will discover an artist with a sense of humor and a rare mix of sincerity and irony, looking for lost meaning in a busy world. The Son Of Joseph is his most accessible movie to date, though only in terms of narrative: a comedy, almost a farce, about a sulky teenager who goes looking for his supposed biological father, directed in Green’s signature offbeat, Robert Bresson-esque deadpan. The closest thing to his work in American film would be something along the lines of Whit Stillman’s Damsels In Distress or Hal Hartley’s Henry Fool and Ned Rifle (the latter even shares a central theme with The Son Of Joseph), though Green’s films are even less realistic than »
- Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
The new movie year has just gifted us with its first indisputable film fiasco. Don't you just love January – the official burial ground for Hollywood cinematic sins against art and entertainment. Ok, my expectations were low for Underworld: Blood Wars. But scraping bottom would be a step up for this fifth chapter in the series, which inexplicably retains a loyal box-office following. Go figure. It was less than a year ago that Kate Beckinsale was giving the performance of her career in Whit Stillman’s gorgeously literate Love & Friendship. Now »
Back in May at the Cannes Film Festival, a colleague was gushing — as was pretty much everyone, this critic included — about Isabelle Huppert’s ice-cool, high-wire tour de force as a rape victim with a very unusual psychology in Paul Verhoeven’s comeback feature “Elle.”
“She should win the Oscar in a walk,” she asserted, before adding a predictable caveat. “Shame awards voters won’t touch that performance with a 50-foot-pole.”
Seven months later, my colleague might not be feeling so pessimistic. Despite being housed in a chilly, controversial, French-language film, Huppert has emerged as the surprise dark horse of the season so far, bulldozing through the major critics’ awards and landing a Golden Globe nomination.
Whether she scores her first-ever Oscar nomination in a competitive category remains to be seen, but she’s very much in the conversation. That’s unprecedented territory for Huppert, despite the Frenchwoman’s reputation »
- Guy Lodge
Welcome back to the first Weekend Warrior of 2017, your weekly look at the new movies hitting theaters this weekend, as well as other cool events and things to check out (when applicable).
We’ll bypass the past couple holiday weekends cause that was so 2016, and we’ll instead get right into the new movies opening on Friday including two that opened in select cities and are expanding nationwide.
Genre: Action, Horror, Thriller
Plot: The vampire death dealer Selene (Kate Beckinsale) finds herself facing both Lycans and vampires, both of them trying to use the blood of her daughter to create new hybrids, so she and David (Theo James »
- Edward Douglas
And the winners are…
Best Picture: Moonlight
Best Animated Feature: Kubo and the Two Strings
Best Film Not in the English Language: The Handmaiden – South Korea
Best Documentary: O.J.: Made in America
The Online Film Critics Society — of which I am a member — has announced the nominees for its 2016 awards. Links here go to my reviews, with reviews to come for most if not all those I haven’t yet reviewed. Winners will be announced Tuesday, January 3rd.
And the nominees are:
The Handmaiden »
- MaryAnn Johanson
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