Penelope Cruz Faces Adversity In New U.S. Trailer For Julio Medem's 'Ma Ma'

Guided by a go-for-broke performance from Penélope Cruz, lovely work from cinematographer Kiko de la Rica, and a score by Alberto Iglesias, the ingredients are all here for Julio Medem's "Ma Ma" to be something special. Unfortunately, I really didn't like it when it screened at Tiff last fall, but fans of Cruz may want to give it a whirl, because she gives a solid turn, even if she deserves better material. From director Julio Medem ("Sex & Lucia"), the movie follows Magda, who goes through no shortage of health, romantic, and professional turmoil, but remains resilient and optimistic through it all, as she always finds a way to work through life's struggles and heartbreaks. Here's the official synopsis:  Academy Award®-winning actress and producer Penélope Cruz delivers an extraordinarily emotional performance in ma ma, the newest film from acclaimed director Julio Medem (Sex And LUCÍA). Honoring the high...
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Ventana Sur: ‘Francisco’ Cleans Up Catholic World (Exclusive)

Ventana Sur: ‘Francisco’ Cleans Up Catholic World (Exclusive)
Buenos Aires – “Francisco,” the Argentine papal portrait starring Dario Grandinetti (“Talk to Her,” “Wild Tales”), continues to clean up the Catholic world, closing a pan-Latin America deal for TV/VOD with Beverly Hills Entertainment.

Buena Vista International has also taken rights to Latin America, in an already-announced deal. Deals for the U.S. and Germany are imminent, according to FilmSharks’ Guido Rud. The U.K , Australia/New Zealand , the Czech Republic and Hungary are in advanced discussions, he added.

Of new deals, “Francisco” has closed Taiwan (Encore) and former-Yugoslavia (2iFilms). Metropolitan Filmexport has acquired French-speaking Europe, 2M Pictures Italy, and Warsaw Movie Distribution Poland. FilmSharks Intl. sold Korea to Must See Movie Releasing and Spain to Wanda Vision. Colombia has gone to Procinal, Central America to Palmera Intl., Chile and Peru to Andes Films and the Philippines to Pioneer.

Silvia Abascal (“El Lobo”) and Leticia Bredice (“Nine Queens”) co-star in
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Tiff Review: Julio Medem's 'Ma Ma' Starring Penélope Cruz

Cancer, unemployment rates, the economic crisis, faith, morality, the fate of souls, pregnancy and concern for Russian orphans are the components of Julio Medem’s “Ma Ma,” a tragedy pile-on that is laughably ludicrous when it isn’t tedious. The writer/director gets an unreserved performance from Penélope Cruz (who produced the picture too), great work from cinematographer Kiko de la Rica, a could’ve-been-better score from Alberto Iglesias, in a movie that clearly involved a lot of very talented contributors. So it's too bad that none at any point questioned Medem’s movie, which falls flat on its face thanks to a severe lack of self-awareness and an air of dramatic self-importance. The film kicks off with a helluva day for Magda (Cruz). A routine visit to Raúl (Àlex Brendemühl), the handsomest singing gynaecologist ever, reveals that she has stage three breast cancer. We also learn at the same
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FilmSharks Boards ‘Francisco,’ with Dario Grandinetti

FilmSharks Boards ‘Francisco,’ with Dario Grandinetti
Buenos Aires – One of Argentina’s most revered actors, Dario Grandinetti (“Wild Tales,” “Talk to Her”), will play Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, who anointed Pope Francis in March of last year, in “Francisco,” an awaited vision of the pope originated in his native Argentina.

Disney distributes in Argentina, the rest of Latin America and Spain. Buenos Aires-based Pablo Bossi, one of Argentina’s best-known producers (“Nine Queens,” “The Games Maker,” “Son of the Bride,” “Chinese Takeaway”), is producing. Another Argentine vet, Beda Docampo Feijoo (“Camila,” “Los amores de Kafka,” “El marido perfecto”), has written and will direct “Francisco,” which goes into production Jan. 12 in Buenos Aires. The nine-week shoot then segues to locations in Madrid and Rome. “Francisco’s” world premiere is set for July 2015.

FilmSharks Intl. is bringing “Francisco” onto the international market at Ventana Sur, which kicked off Monday in Buenos Aires.

Silvia Abascal (“El Lobo
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Cannes Q&A: Penelope Cruz on Producing ‘Ma Ma’

Cannes Q&A: Penelope Cruz on Producing ‘Ma Ma’
Penelope Cruz will be in Cannes today to present “Ma Ma,” which is her first as a producer. In it, she plays Magda, a gutsy mother who battles to overcome tragedy. “Ma Ma” also marks Cruz’s first film with Spanish auteur Julio Medem, who has directed some of the most sensorial, sensual and involved portrayals of feminine sensibility in modern Spanish cinema (“Vacas,” “Lovers of the Arctic Circle,” “Sex and Lucia”). Cruz and Medem talked to Variety exclusively about “Ma Ma,” which bows Monday. “Ma Ma” is being sold at Cannes by Seville Intl., the boutique sales arm of eOne Films Intl. Cruz, Medem and Alvaro Longoria at Spain’s Morena Films produce, in association with France’s Backup Media Group. France’s Mare Nostrum co-produces. CAA represents U.S. rights.

You both live in Los Angeles. Why return to Spain to make a film in Spanish?

Medem: “Ma Ma
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International Cinephile Society Reveals Nominees

The International Cinephile Society has announced the nominees for the 11th Ics Awards. Abdellatif Kechiche's "Blue is the Warmest Color," the Coen Brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis," Spike Jonze's "Her," and Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" dominated the nominations with 7 nods each.

Winners of the 11th Ics Awards will be announced on February 23, 2014.

Here's the complete list of nominees:


. 12 Years a Slave

. Before Midnight

. Blue is the Warmest Color

. Frances Ha

. Gravity

. The Great Beauty

. Her

. Inside Llewyn Davis

. Laurence Anyways

. Spring Breakers

. The Wolf of Wall Street


. Ethan Coen & Joel Coen - Inside Llewyn Davis

. Alfonso Cuarón - Gravity

. Xavier Dolan - Laurence Anyways

. Spike Jonze - Her

. Abdellatif Kechiche - Blue is the Warmest Color

. Paolo Sorrentino - The Great Beauty

Film Not In The English Language

. Beyond the Hills

. Blancanieves

. Blue is the Warmest Color

. Faust

. The Great Beauty

. The Hunt

. In the
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Blu-ray Review: Beautiful, Mesmerizing World of ‘Blancanieves’

Chicago – There’s something even more bittersweet and poignant about the beautiful, mesmerizing “Blancanieves,” new to Blu-ray and DVD, when one thinks that it was one of the last movies that Roger Ebert fell in love with. The legendary critic adored this film so much that he programmed it for the Overlooked Film Festival, which unspooled shortly after his death. Seeing the film now and the way it deals with loss while also paying homage to the history of cinema, it seems almost like a tribute to the man who engendered a love of film for so many people. Although the connection to Ebert is only the final beautiful twist to a major piece of work, one of the more engaging and well-made films of 2013. This film is a special one. Don’t miss it.

Rating: 4.5/5.0

I’ll admit that I didn’t see “Blancanieves” in theaters and kind of avoided it.
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Ebertfest 2013: Day 4 looks at mythology and the difficult road to self-knowledge

After a late day three (the Q&A didn’t get out until about midnight), many of the attendees to Ebertfest, myself included, were a bit on the sluggish side this morning. The first screening was set for 11am, which hardly seems early on paper, but for anyone catching up with friends at the festival or, in my case, writing up articles into the wee hours, 11am came a bit too soon. Honestly, many of us probably were not in a particularly good headspace to approach our first screening of the day, the silent, black and white film Blancanieves.

Fortunately, as can happen at Ebertfest, we were treated to a surprise when, rather than starting with the customary introduction to the first film, Chaz Ebert came on stage and announced that, inspired by Tilda Swinton, we were kicking things off with some dancing in the aisles. Barry White’s “My First,
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‘Blancanieves’, a must see for any fan of silent cinema and Snow White


Directed by Pablo Berger

Written by Pablo Berger

2012, Spain

The German tale of Snow White was published by Grimm brothers Jacob and Wilhelm in their Hausmärchen collection in 1812. Considered to be the most famous fairy tale worldwide, Snow White has been adapted to the big screen numerous times by the likes of Walt Disney, Michael Cohn and most recently Tarsem Singh and Rupert Sanders. Every adaptation has featured, respectively, their own variation of the literary source material. Now Spanish filmmaker Pablo Berger has channeled all those energies, and through his own artistic sensibility, he artfully crafts a love letter to Hispanic culture and it’s history. Blancanieves is a beautifully executed vision of the Grimm fairy tale; with the key elements of Snow White all present and accounted for (the poisoned apple, the glass coffin, and the seven dwarfs). Only Berger takes it a step further, adding nods to Sleeping Beauty,
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As Luck Would Have It | Review

The Spark of Life: Iglesia’s Latest a Soap Opera Soap Box

Following on the heels of his successful 2010 award winner The Last Circus, Alex de la Iglesia leaves behind genre for his most straightforward drama effort yet with As Luck Would Have It, a denigration of class and greed that operates nearly exclusively as a mouth piece for the overtly obvious views it continuously espouses. Once again snagging some A-list talent, Iglesia sinks them, along with Kiko de la Rica’s glorious cinematography, into a quagmire of telenovelic proportions. A would be satire, Iglesia bungles melodrama, black comedy, and motifs more at home with Arthur Miller into a heterogeneous mixture of humanity where black and white never fade to grey.

An out of work advertising executive, Roberto (Jose Mota), is desperate to get out of a two year unemployment slump. His ravishingly beautiful and supportive wife, Luisa (Salma Hayek
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Oxford Murders, The | Review

Director: Álex de la Iglesia Writer: Jorge Guerricaechevarria (screenplay), Álex de la Iglesia (screenplay), Guillermo Martínez (novel) Starring: Elijah Wood, John Hurt, Leonor Watling To quote the Austrian-British philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein, from his treatise Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921) (which was penned -- at least according to The Oxford Murders -- smack in the middle of a Wwi battlefield): “There is no such truth outside of mathematics.” The Oxford Murders goes one step beyond the question of whether or not we can handle the truth; it posits the question: “Can we know the truth?” Enter Martin (Elijah Wood), an oversees student donning a black leather jacket. Martin shows up in Julia Eagleton’s (Anna Massey) Oxford, England home -- a home that is decorated with noteworthy mathematical artifacts such as a replica of an Enigma machine and a photograph of Alan Turing. Julia’s husband, Harry Eagleton, was the [fictional] developer of the
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