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Ready for another year of the podcast? The gang is back: Nathaniel R, (The Film Experience), Joe Reid (The Wire), Katey Rich (Vanity Fair) and Nick Davis (Nick's Flick Picks) reunite to discuss this unusually robust auteur spring at the movies.
This week's topics: Darren Aronofsky's peculiar muddy vision for Noah starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly & Emma Watson; Jonathan Glazer (Birth) and Scarlett Johansson's Under the Skin; and Wes Anderson's biggest hit The Grand Budapest Hotel. Did we want to check in and stay?
Under Noah's Skin at the Budapest Hotel
00:00 Noah (story diversion, auteur vision, character work)
18:45 Under the Skin (visual storytelling, interpretation, Scarlett)
36:30 The Grand Budapest Hotel (inside & outside friction, accepting Wes, art direction)
44:30 Ralph Fiennes and the movies Oscar buzz
49:00 Other movie recommendations: Le Week-end and Blue Ruin. »
- NATHANIEL R
Director Jody Lee Lipes delivers an exhilarating third feature with “Ballet 422,” tracing the two-month creation of a new work by New York City Ballet dancer/choreographer Justin Peck. Sampling various stages of the process from initial conception through rehearsals to premiere performance, the documentary moves with the same fluidity that characterizes Peck’s choreography. Himself a noted cinematographer, Lipes captures the dancers, musicians, costumers and lighting designers from a variety of angles within the larger canvas, always suggesting kinetic movement continuing beyond the frame. A delight for balletophiles, the film reps a beautifully crafted entree into the intricacies of collective endeavor.
Lipes makes films about artists at work (“Brock Enright: Good Times Will Never Be the Same,” “NY Export: Opus Jazz,”), and “Ballet 422” focuses on the 25-year-old Peck as he conceives and shapes his third choreographed piece for Nycb, “Paz de la Jolla.” Expectations run high, given the »
- Ronnie Scheib
Written and directed by Sean Gullette
An SUV drives across the Moroccan border, packed with drugs hidden from plain view. Two girls, Malika (Chimae Ben Acha) and Amal (Soufia Issami), smuggle the drugs across terrorist lines with little to lose. Malika, the newest recruit, is nervous but shows no sign of worry with her deadpan looks. Amal, although experienced in the trafficking game, has a poor poker face. With every passing mile, Amal looks at Malika with a profound sense of caution. Malika, on the other hand, approaches each mile with a sharp sense of focus. She just wants to finish the job and get back to her normal life. Whether she can get back to her life, and avoid the backlash of her boss Samir (Mourade Zeguendi), is another question. But it’s a question she’s willing to fight for. After a few tension-filled moments, Amal »
- Christopher Clemente
The celebratory day of vinyl is upon us once more: Record Store Day 2014 is packed with some groovy releases from soundtrack kings Death Waltz Records, One Way Static, Mondo, and more! We’ve assembled a list of all the records you should be seeking out tomorrow, so check those out below!
One Way Static Records
12″ Picture Disc – Limited To 1,500
One Way Static’s first foray into records was a comprehensive release (now out-of-print) of Wes Craven’s The Last House On The Left. Composed by Krug himself, David Hess, One Way Static are giving those who may have missed out another chance with a limited picture disc edition, that comes loaded with liner notes. Speaking as someone who spins Hess’ musical contribution on a weekly basis, I can safely say this is an essential purchase.
12″ Glow in the »
- Justin Edwards
"Heaven is for Real" is a real success at the box-office. The faith-based drama starring Greg Kinnear wowed with a $3.7 million take on 2,400 screens over its opening day Wednesday, good enough for a No. 1 finish over the blockbuster sequels "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "Rio 2." The film's long-term prospects are looking promising as well, with audience exit polling resulting in an "A" CinemaScore for the film, which was made for a reported pricetag of only $12 million. Based on the bestselling non-fiction book by Todd Burpo, "Heaven is for Real" centers on a young boy (Connor Corum) who comes back from a near-death experience claiming he experienced Heaven. The film's box-office triumph follows on the success of other recent faith-based films including "God's Not Dead" ($42 million to date), "Son of God" ($62 million) and Darren Aronofsky's "Noah" ($249 million) starring Russell Crowe. Other wide releases this weekend include “Transcendence" starring Johnny Depp, »
- Chris Eggertsen
Hoping to avoid the Oscar flood, Paramount has invited Academy voters to see “Noah” in theaters, using their membership cards for admission.
Oscar campaigns often start at least a year before the ceremonies, but most of the strategizing is done behind closed doors, preparing for later in the year. It’s unusual for a studio to start its campaigning so early.
Members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences received an email this week alerting them to the fact that their card will admit them and a guest to “Noah.” Screeners and DVDs will no doubt be available later in 2014. However, Par obviously wanted to avoid a lost ark amid the dozens of discs that arrive in the fourth quarter. More important, “Noah,” with its big-scale designs, visual effects and cinematography, will benefit from being seen on the big screen.
In his review, Variety‘s chief film critic Scott Foundas »
- Tim Gray
With Darren Aronofsky’s interpretation of the classic Noah story playing in some cinemas across the world now, all the old controversy surrounding religious films has been reignited. Conservative Christians have to decide whether or not the new Biblical film is godly enough, staying faithful to the text that they worship as the word of God. Oftentimes, if they believe a movie is “Christian”, it scares off secular audiences, who are occasionally uncomfortable watching films that are overtly religious.
How Christian is too Christian, and how do movies find that fine line between honoring the material and telling a good story? Should it even matter if they make changes to improve the flow of the film? After all, any Harry Potter fan will tell you that the books are always better than the film.
And then there’s this element of preachiness that often worms its way into Christian films. »
- Audrey Fox
If you can.t beat them, join them. Ultra-conservative talk radio host Glenn Beck announced that he his starting a film division at Mercury Radio Arts, the parent company of his radio program. The Hollywood Reporter has the details, explaining that Beck plans to develop three original stories as theatrical releases. "One [is] set in ancient history, one in modern history and a third he considers .faith-based,." the trade reports. Beck says that he has been busy refurbishing The Studios at Las Colinas in Irving, Texas. The 72,000-square-foot facility played host to such films as Oliver Stone.s JFK. The Dallas Morning News reported that Beck bought the studio back in 2013. "We're getting it ready for some big plans," the 50-year-old radio host said. Of course, Beck made headlines recently by criticizing Darren Aronofsky.s Old Testament drama Noah for being "awful." He said: It is not a godless climate »
While Darren Aronofsky provided audiences with a nightmarish vision of what it means to be dancer in "Black Swan," in real life, ballet is a mix of collaboration, dedication and lots of sweat. And viewers will see all of that come together in the documentary "Ballet 422," premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival. Directed by Jody Lee Lipes (who was the Dp on Playlist fave "Martha Marcy May Marlene"), the film follows up-and-coming choreographer Justin Peck — from the first rehearsal to world premiere — as he collaborates with musicians, lighting designers, costume designers and his fellow dancers to create the latest New York City Ballet production. And as you'll see in this exclusive clip, even in the rehearsal process, early signs of magic can be found. "Ballet 422" premieres at Tribeca on Saturday, April 19th at 9 Pm at Sva Theatre 1. Watch below. »
- Kevin Jagernauth
Glenn Beck is putting his faith in Hollywood – literally. The conservative radio host has been refurbishing the Studios at Las Colinas in Irving, Texas, according to The Hollywood Reporter, as the setting for at least one "faith-based" movie, as part of his new venture into film producing. He also has two other movies in the works – one set in ancient history and another THR describes as being set in modern history – and he has optioned several other films, as well.
Muse Criticize Glenn Beck, Rightwing 'Conspiracy Theory Subculture'
If you went to see Darren Aronofsky's epic new film "Noah," you might have noticed everyone in the film is white. Or not! Maybe you were distracted by all the rock monsters and stuff? But in case you were wondering, "Noah" co-writer and exec producer Ari Handel had a pretty good reason why there was no racial diversity in the film. The scary part is that it seems to have been on purpose.
Handel told "The High Calling," "From the beginning, we were concerned about casting, the issue of race. What we realized is that this story is functioning at the level of myth, and as a mythical story, the race of the individuals doesn't matter. They're supposed to be stand-ins for all people. Either you end up with a Bennetton [sic] ad or the crew of the Starship Enterprise. You either try to put everything in there, which just calls attention to it, »
- Jenni Miller
Trevor Hogg chats with Michael Wilkinson about weaving a new adaptation of an epic Biblical story…
“There was an opening in my schedule,” recalls Michael Wilkinson who had completed the costume designs for Man of Steel (2013) when an opportunity arose to work on Noah (2014) helmed by Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan). “My agents introduced me to Darren who was looking for someone to help design this epic movie. I had a series of Skype interviews, was awarded the job and headed over to New York to work with him.” The native of Australia remarks, “I always like to have images in front of me when I’m meeting a director. Other costume designers do things differently. For me, it’s all about beginning to see if there’s a dialogue that flows between the two parties. Even if I show images that are wildly different from what the director was thinking »
- Trevor Hogg
It’s no secret that Christian-themed films have the potential to be box office gold, but even though faith-based audiences are starved for more material, it doesn’t always pan out the way studios might hope.
While Paramount’s expensive and provocative Darren Aronofsky-directed Noah continues to climb the steep slope toward domestic profitability and Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s Son of God failed to reach Passion of the Christ heights (after seven weeks in theaters it still hasn’t even made Passion’s opening weekend numbers), the independently released God’s Not Dead came out of nowhere »
- Lindsey Bahr
Actor/writer Marlon Wayans is best known for his frequent collaborations with his older brothers Keenan, Damon, and Shawn in successful comedies such as Scary Movie, White Chicks (where he dressed as a Caucasian female), and Little Man (as a baby with Marlon Wayan’s head) and The Wayans Bros TV show. Marlon has had the opportunity to flex his acting chops in roles for more acclaimed directors such as Darren Aranofsky in Requiem For A Dream and the Cohen Brothers in The Lady Killers. He’s even tried his hand at action stardom with GI Joe: The Rise Of Cobra. Last year Wayans wrote, produced, and starred in the spoof A Haunted House which cost just 2 ½ million dollars and grossed over 40 million. A Haunted House 2 opens nationwide this Friday, April 18th. Wayans was in St. Louis promoting the sequel and hosted a screening here on March 16th. I »
- Tom Stockman
Sony’s Christian drama “Heaven Is for Real,” which opens Wednesday, is the latest offering in a year with an uncommonly large slate of religious-themed wide releases.
Although there’s long been a robust DVD market and numerous indie releases, more major studios have been taking a leap of faith and embarking on extensive marketing missions this year. It’s only fitting that the senior production exec for “Heaven Is for Real,” DeVon Franklin, is an ordained minister and one of the film’s producers, T.D. Jakes, is a bishop. Jakes has teamed up with “Alice in Wonderland” producer Joe Roth for the project.
“My hope is that it’s going to appeal to the same demographic of the book, which was in the mainstream,” said Franklin, the author of spiritual success book “Produced by Faith.”
“But at the same time,” he adds, “(the story) really had a strong faith-based following. »
- Maane Khatchatourian
Sergio's piece published earlier this morning, on Ari Handel (co-screenwriter of Darren Aronofsky's Noah) giving his reasons for the lack of people of color in that recently-released film, reminded me of as item I penned a few months ago, waxing on the shortsightedness and laziness of the privileged - specifically, the white heterosexual men who run Hollywood - and the ramifications of those seemingly unconscious deficiencies, with regards to the rest of us. I posit that Handel's baffling response to the question of Noah's lack of diversity, is simply just another example of that shortsightedness and laziness that comes from being in a position of privilege. As Sergio said in his »
- Tambay A. Obenson
O.K. let’s see if this makes sense. No doubt, one of the most talked about films so far this year is Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. The film has gotten its share of rave reviews, though there are those who have major problems with it. However, one cannot deny that it is truly an ambitious, unique and original film - the kind of risk-taking movie you wish Hollywood would make more of, like they used to.However, there is that one thing; That one thing that stuck out in my mind when I saw the film: “Hey, where are the black folks or people of color in the film?” If this film had been made back during the epic "Biblical film" era, in the 1950s, well then, yes, you would expect that. But even »
All told it was a buoyant frame as nationwide takings improved by 6% to $18.25 million and six titles each earned more than $1 million.
Animated comedy The Lego Movie eased by 10% to $5.1 million in its second weekend, propelling its haul to $14.4 million, according to Rentrak.s estimates. The Village Roadshow Pictures/Warner Bros. co-production looks set to reach $28 million, if not $30 million, and the worldwide cume hit $US425 million.
Superhero adventure Captain America: The Winter Soldier grabbed $3.6 million despite falling by 40%, to elevate its 11-day total to $12.2 million. However the Marvel franchise isn.t tracking as strongly here as in the Us, where the film starring Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson and Samuel J. Jackson has rung up $US159 million in 10 days.
- Don Groves
In a strange turn of events, Rio 2 took first place at the box office on Friday, but fell back to second place for the three-day weekend. Chalk this up to nice weather throughout most of the country, which kept family audiences away from the multiplexes on Saturday.As a result, Captain America: The Winter Soldier was able to narrowly hold on to the top spot for the second-straight weekend. The superhero sequel added $41.3 million, which was off 57 percent from its debut. That's about on par with Iron Man 3 (58 percent) and Thor: The Dark World (57 percent), but it's also a bit worse than the movie's strong reviews and word-of-mouth would suggest. So far, Captain America: The Winter Soldier has earned $158.9 million at the domestic box office. If it remains on pace with the Thor and Iron Man sequels, it will finish with at least $225 million.Playing at 3,948 locations, Rio 2 »
- Ray Subers <email@example.com>
'As directors gain independence from the studios, their movies invariably became longer, looser and more insufferable'
As the reviews for the $200m Transformers sequels have proved, movies are not what they cost. And yet, for many directors, freedom from financial constraint remains the ultimate goal. In 1970s "New Hollywood", critically revered film-makers such as Francis Ford Coppola had carte blanche to push the budgets of their masterworks ever skyward. That is, until Michael Cimino's 1980 uberflop Heaven's Gate, which earned just over $3m from a budget of $44m, forced studio execs to reconsider the filmmaker's divine right. A-list directors have been fighting to see a return to those heady days ever since, while passion project after passion project has gone unmade. But with Darren Aronofsky's $125m biblical epic Noah now in cinemas, the climate may finally be changing.
More accustomed to budgets a tenth the size of Noah's, »
- Charlie Lyne
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