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5 items from 2006


Sundance sets its musical tour

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

NEW YORK -- Donovan, Terence Blanchard, Ron Sexsmith, Jill Sobule and Simon Townshend are some of the artists bringing music to next month's Sundance Film Festival, where organizers will hold a series of concerts and related panels.

Film directors Justin Theroux (Dedication), Tom DiCillo (Delirious), Andrew Wagner (Starting Out in the Evening) and Mike Chaill (King of California) will participate in a round-table discussion Jan. 24 with such composers as Blanchard, Peter Golub, Adam Hollander, Dave Robbins and Anton Sanko on the creative process of film scoring.

Later that day, Victor Krauss, Keb Mo, Michael Penn and Blanchard will perform in a special music showcase.

The special music events, sponsored by Sundance Institute's Film Music Program and music publisher BMI, also will include the "Sundance Celebrates Music and Film" and Film2Music, exploring the cinematic and music mediums.

In what has become a Sundance tradition, the fest's Music Cafe will host afternoon performances programmed by ASCAP, featuring such artists as Sobule with Julia Sweeney, A Fine Frenzy, Sexsmith, Donovan and Townshend throughout the festival. »

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Sundance sets its musical tour

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

NEW YORK -- Donovan, Terence Blanchard, Ron Sexsmith, Jill Sobule and Simon Townshend are some of the artists bringing music to next month's Sundance Film Festival, where organizers will hold a series of concerts and related panels.

Film directors Justin Theroux (Dedication), Tom DiCillo (Delirious), Andrew Wagner (Starting Out in the Evening) and Mike Chaill (King of California) will participate in a round-table discussion Jan. 24 with such composers as Blanchard, Peter Golub, Adam Hollander, Dave Robbins and Anton Sanko on the creative process of film scoring.

Later that day, Victor Krauss, Keb Mo, Michael Penn and Blanchard will perform in a special music showcase.

The special music events, sponsored by Sundance Institute's Film Music Program and music publisher BMI, also will include the "Sundance Celebrates Music and Film" and Film2Music, exploring the cinematic and music mediums.

In what has become a Sundance tradition, the fest's Music Cafe will host afternoon performances by such artists as Sobule with Julia Sweeney, A Fine Frenzy, Sexsmith, Donovan and Townshend throughout the festival. »

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Waist Deep

22 June 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

"Waist Deep" plunges much deeper than that into good old-fashioned genre filmmaking. Director Vondie Curtis Hall gives this virtually nonstop crime actioner, set against the mean streets of Los Angeles, pleasing noirish touches along with larger-than-life-size characters. The Rogue Pictures release is pitched to urban houses so blacks will predominately make up the audience for the well-made film.

Tyrese Gibson, after two fine performances in the John Singleton films "Baby Boy" and "Four Brothers", carries the movie on his broad shoulders, though the impossibly good-looking Meagan Good makes a solid action co-star. The opening sequence in the screenplay by Hall and Darin Scott (from a story by Michael Mahern) is overly contrived, but does set off a classic race against the clock.

A newly paroled ex-con named O2 (Gibson) has somehow landed a security job that gives him access to a gun. When his flaky cousin Lucky (Larenz Tate) fails to pick up O2's son, Junior (H. Hunter Hall), from school, O2 must leave his job before a replacement shows up, taking the gun with him, to pick up the boy.

Then, tooling down Adams Boulevard, O2 has his car jacked by hoods with his boy still inside. This leads to a well-executed foot-and-car chase through traffic with guns going off and bad guys shot, but O2 ultimately loses the car -- and his beloved son. His only connection to the carjackers is a hustler named Coco (Good), who apparently was assigned the job of distracting O2 before the assault. He forces Coco at gunpoint to join him in his crusade to get back his son.

Since O2 has two strikes against him under California's "three strikes" law, he can't go to the police -- certainly not after that highly visible shootout. Lucky finds out that O2's son is being held by a notorious gang leader named Meat (hip-hop star the Game). Meat is demanding $100,000 in two days for Junior's release. So what's an ex-con trying to go straight to do but rob a couple of gang houses and then a few banks to raise the coin?

For a while, O2 and Coco play with the idea of robbing rival gangs to pit them against each other. Somehow this intriguing plot element gets frittered away in the need for action. The robberies themselves are so far-fetched that Hall wisely plays them for laughs. In another mischievous touch, the 48-hour action occurs amid a sea of street protests by South L.A. residents demanding the mayor and police keep their neighborhoods safe. One ambush of the unlucky Lucky happens right behind a rally without one angry participant noticing the gangsters or their guns.

Hall paces the film expertly so he can work in calmer moments for his two desperate characters to open up to each other and explore a blossoming friendship. Along with cinematographer Shane Hurlbut, Hall goes for a straightforward yet often striking visual style that allows for a mobile camera and stunts that flow smoothly from characters' actions. In the early going, though, characters in their cars are framed so tightly you wish for a few wider angles so you can see where all the cars and people are positioned.

Terence Blanchard and Denaun Porter's music is serviceable, while Warren A. Young's production design and Marie France's costumes go for a natural though dramatically heightened look. For the record, Junior is played by the son of the director and his actress-director wife, Kasi Lemmons.

WAIST DEEP

Rogue Pictures

Rogue Pictures and Intrepid Pictures present a Radar Pictures and RSVP Prods. production

Credits:

Director: Vondie Curtis Hall

Screenwriters: Vondie Curtis Hall, Darin Scott

Story: Michael Mahern

Producer: Preston Holmes

Executive producers: Ted Field, Trevor Macy, Marc D. Evans, Russell Simmons, Stan Lathan, Amy Kaufman, A. Demetrius Brown

Director of photography: Shane Hurlbut

Production designer: Warren A. Young

Music: Terence Blanchard, Denaun Porter

Costume designer: Marie France

Editor: Terilyn A. Shropshire. Cast: 02: Tyrese Gibson

Coco: Meagan Good

Lucky: Larenz Tate

Meat: The Game

Junior: H. Hunter Hall

MPAA rating R

Running time -- 97 minutes »

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Inside Man

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

"Inside Man" is the dull title of a crackerjack crime thriller that also is the most commercial movie Spike Lee has directed.

Everything clicks. It has a solid, substantial marquee cast in Denzel Washington, Clive Owen and Jodie Foster; a cagey, even at times -- for a thriller -- thoughtful screenplay by Russell Gewirtz; and a production beautifully calibrated for its story and stars. This is the mother lode all action/suspense directors search for and Lee, who usually doesn't work in that genre, has hit it.

Boxoffice is bound to be strong, but can be even stronger if Universal's marketing and promotions successfully convince a broad spectrum of moviegoers that this is their movie. "Inside Man" takes material familiar to the point of triteness -- a bank heist, a hostage standoff and corruption New York-style, elements that have an almost nostalgic 1970s glow -- then turns everything on its head so the movie actually ends up saying something about American culture in 2006.

Without pushing things too far, "Inside Man" is the anti-"Crash" movie. Not that the film has no racial tensions and occasional flashes of prejudice, but "Inside Man" ultimately embraces the enormous ethnic and cultural diversity that is New York and by extension America. It even is a key plot point that in any give street of Manhattan you can broadcast a baffling language and someone is bound to know that language. Someone does.

The setup is indeed familiar enough that Lee and Gewirtz -- what a writing debut! -- actually rush through it. Four bad guys -- OK, it's really three guys and a girl -- take over a Manhattan branch bank disguised as painters. They hold about 50 people hostage. The NYPD gathers. Hostage negotiators Keith Frazier (Washington), who is under the cloud of a corruption scandal, and partner Bill Mitchell (Chiwetel Ejoifor) arrive on the scene. Emergency Services Unit Capt. John Darius (Willem Dafoe) bristles in a fit of jurisdictional pride and then the siege begins.

Only nothing goes as expected -- either for a bank heist or a bank heist movie. The head robber, Clive Owen's Dalton Russell, is a character at least as old as Alan Rickman's Eurotrash villain in "Die Hard", but this guy is somehow different: Unusually cool and calm, he is fully in control of the situation as he keeps a step or even a step and a half ahead of Frazier at all times. His gang blinds the bank's closed-circuit cameras, then force the hostages to dress in coverall outfits and facial disguises so police cannot tell the difference between hostage and hostage taker.

There is another perplexing element: The bank's board chairman Arthur Case (Christopher Plummer) clearly is more concerned about certain items in the safety deposit vault than in the lives of the hostages. So he hires slick, amoral power broker Madeline White (Foster) to handle very delicate negotiations with the New York mayor, Frazier and the hostage ringleader to protect his "interests."

For all the rising tension, beautifully orchestrated by Lee, Gewirtz leaves plenty of "air" in his story. Meaning, spaces to further develop characters or themes -- some an end to themselves and others that will pay off later. Example: An interchange between Dalton and a young black boy, who is his hostage, regarding the boy's super-violent pocket video game, in which a gangsta hero shoots his way through an urban environment, inspires moral indignation in the old-school thief. Seemingly fringe characters also have the encouraging habit of abruptly becoming integral to the plot or the conveyors of sharp observations about current American culture.

In the end, this "air" turns out to be more than air. There is an agenda within this intricately plotted, witty crime thriller. Helping Lee, whose direction has never been more astute, realize the script's high ambition is production designer Wynn Thomas, who keeps a claustrophobic experience feeling almost expansive; cinematographer Matthew Libatique, who makes things gritty but with dark, saturated, burnished tones that are never quite real; and Terence Blanchard's musical score, which becomes almost a character in itself, commenting on situations, holding back for others, then swelling expressively when circumstances warrant.

The film is even hip enough to open with "Chaiyya Chaiyya", one of the biggest Bollywood hits last year, then close with the same song remixed with rap. Very cool.

INSIDE MAN

Universal Pictures

Imagine Entertainment

Credits:

Director: Spike Lee

Screenwriter: Russell Gewirtz

Producer: Brian Grazer

Executive producers: Daniel M. Rosenberg, Jon Kilik, Karen Kehela Sherwood, Kim Roth

Director of photography: Matthew Libatique

Production designer: Wynn Thomas

Music: Terence Blanchard

Co-producer: Jonathan Filley

Costumes: Donna Berwick

Editor: Barry Alexander Brown

Cast:

Keith Frazier: Denzel Washington

Dalton Russell: Clive Owen

Madeline White: Jodie Foster

Arthur Case: Christopher Plummer

John Darius: Willem Dafoe

Bill Mitchell: Chiwetel Ejiofor

Steve Carlos: Andres Gomez

Stevie: Kim Director

Steve-O: James Ransone

MPAA rating R

Running time -- 128 minutes »

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Sundance sets speakers for film tune panel

6 January 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

NEW YORK -- Veteran directors including Haskell Wexler and Nick Cassavetes will join such longtime composers as Stewart Copeland and Terence Blanchard for the Sundance Film Festival's sixth annual Composer/Director Roundtable, hosted by music publisher BMI. This year's panel, billed as "Music & Film: The Creative Process," is scheduled for Jan. 25 at the Kimball Art Center in Park City. It brings together artists to discuss how score and source music affect films, along with the relationship between composers and directors, scoring for the ever-increasing number of theatrical docus and other topics. »

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5 items from 2006


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