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8 items from 2006


Smoke House is on Fire

6 December 2006 | ioncinema | See recent ioncinema news »

- Quick Links  The Innocent ManGeorge Clooney  Warner Independent Pictures  White Jazz  Good Night. And, Good Luck. George Clooney is at it again. He and Smokehouse Pictures partner Grant Heslov have teamed up with Warner Independent Pictures to buy the screen rights to John Grisham's nonfiction drama "The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town." This is deal numero dos for Smoke House/Wip this month, just last week they signed on together for White Jazz, a James Ellroy adaptation, in which Clooney will star. "Innocent Man", the true account of a massive error in the justice system, tells the story of Ron Williamson, an Oklahoma man sent to death row for 11 years for a murder he did not commit. Released this October, the book will become one of the many Grisham stories captured on screen. He was the pen behind "The Rainmaker," "The Firm," "The Client, »

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Double play for Clooney at Warners

30 November 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

George Clooney will earn his stripes with the Warner Bros. family. The actor-director-producer has signed on to two high-profile projects with Warner Bros. Pictures and Warner Independent Pictures.

First, Clooney is set to star in and produce White Jazz, an adaptation of a James Ellroy novel, for WIP. He then will reteam with his Ocean's Eleven producer Jerry Weintraub to direct the heist movie Belmont Boys for Warners.

Jazz, which Clooney will produce with his Smokehouse producing partner Grant Heslov, will be directed by Joe Carnahan from a script by his brother Matthew Carnahan (The Kingdom). Jazz is the last volume of what is known as Ellroy's L.A. quartet of crime novels, which includes L.A. Confidential, The Big Nowhere and The Black Dahlia.

In Jazz, Clooney will star as a corrupt police lieutenant assigned to a potentially explosive case for the Los Angeles Police Department during a time when the department is under investigation for corruption.

Patrick Cheh, Diane Nabatoff, Clark Peterson and Michelle Grace will produce the project.

Jazz is a Cherry Road co-production, with the company financing the development of the project. »

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Interview: Christian Volckman

5 October 2006 | ioncinema | See recent ioncinema news »

- The year is 2054. The city, Paris. Walled off from the rest of the world, Paris has been expanded in every direction—up, down, and inward—but out, resulting in a futuristic maze-like metropolis superimposed over the classical architecture for which the city is world famous. A network of streets and passageways (and also waterways) crisscross the airspace between street level and the heights of the city’s towers. Glass enclosed shopping centers operate below ground. Images on billboards move and speak, advertising the sale of eternal youth and beauty. Among these streets a woman in her early twenties is kidnapped outside a dance club in an intense, stylish, and bizarre sequence that projects through the windows of your mind like a scene from a David Lynch remake of Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train animated by Frank Miller. The title of the film is Renaissance. Distributed across North America by Miramax Films, »

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2006 Fall Preview: 10 - 1

5 September 2006 | ioncinema | See recent ioncinema news »

- Here is the top 20 with a recap from picks 20 to 11. Enjoy! 20. All The Kings Men 19. Tideland 18. Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles 17. The Prestige 16. Marie-Antoinette 15. Fur 14. Flags of Our Fathers 13. This Film is Not Yet Rated 12. Fast Food Nation 11. Volver 10. The Departed Release date: Oct.06 Wide ReleaseDistributor: Warner Bros. Pictures Ioncinema Preview : View here The Gist: Based on the trilogy of Chinese-language gangster movies of the same name ("Wu jian dao" a.k.a Infernal Affairs), this is set in the midst of the battle between Hong Kong police and the triads. Fact: This is a 3rd straight reunion for Marty Scorsese and Leonardo. See It: Don’t see it for Matt Damon or Leo DiCaprio but instead for Nicholon and Vera Farmiga. 9. Running with Scissors Release date: Oct.20 Limited ReleaseDistributor: Columbia Pictures Ioncinema Preview : View here The Gist: This is an adaptation of Augusten Burroughs' novel, »

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Black Dahlia

31 August 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

"Black Dahlia" has the looks, smarts and attitude of a classic Brian De Palma/film noir thriller. During the first hour, the hope that the director has tapped into something really great mounts with each passing minute. Then, gradually, the feverish pulp imagination of James Ellroy, on whose novel Josh Friedman based his screenplay, feeds into De Palma's dark side. The violence grows absurd, emotions get overplayed, and the film revels once too often in its gleeful depiction of corrupt, decadent old Los Angeles. Disappointingly, the film edges dangerously into camp.

No, "Black Dahlia" never quite falls into that black hole. The actors in the major roles cling firmly, even lovingly, to their boisterous characters. The sordidness and madness never seem completely wrong given the rancid world the movie surveys. Nevertheless, the second half feels heavy and unfulfilled, potential greatness reduced to a good movie plagued with problems.

Because the want-to-see factor for this anticipated film is equal to your want-to-like desire, the film's domestic distributor, Universal, could enjoy potent boxoffice. But it might skew older, to fans of De Palma and crime fiction as well as those who recall one of Los Angeles' most infamous murders.

On Jan. 15, 1947, the city -- in its postwar frenzy of growth, development, racial tensions and unbridled ambition -- awoke to an unimaginable crime: The torture-ravished body of a beautiful young woman named Elizabeth Short was found in a vacant lot off Crenshaw. The body was cut in half at the waist, disemboweled, drained of all blood and cruelly marked with grotesque taunts by her killer. The discovery sparked the city's greatest manhunt, but the killer was never found.

Which hasn't prevented continual articles, books, novels and documentaries from speculating on possible motives and suspects. Ellroy took a fictional crack at the case in arguably his best Los Angeles crime novel. It was typical Ellroy, who blamed the ghastly murder not on a deranged psychopath with a score to settle but rather police corruption, political chicanery, ruthless gangsters and various businessmen. In other words, the city killed Elizabeth.

Like any of his crackling crime tales, Ellroy surrounds historical events with fiendishly dark fictional characters. The cops on the case are Bucky Bleichert (Josh Hartnett) and Lee Blanchard (Aaron Eckhart), ex-boxers who become partners on the beat and off. Bucky finds himself in an unconsummated menage with Lee and his live-in lover, Kay Lake (Scarlett Johansson). Each has troubling secrets.

Lee, hopped up on Benzedrine, grows obsessed with The Black Dahlia, as the newspapers named Elizabeth, driven to know everything about her. Bucky, too, is drawn to her fatal charm, especially when his lone-wolf investigation into lesbian bars brings him under the sway of an AC/DC hottie named Madeleine Linscott (Hilary Swank), whose daddy is the richest developer in the city.

Characters, subplots and twists come fast and thick -- albeit abridged from an even greater onslaught in the novel. It is with the introduction of the Linscott family, though, that the story develops a noticeable wobble. Predictably, the Linscotts' involvement with the Dahlia proves extensive. Yet it is really so far-fetched. The family is one of those fictional creations where dementia, delusion and depravity run silent and deep, only to erupt in grotesque outbursts that border on the comic.

And speaking of comic, you should see De Palma and production designer Dante Ferretti's idea of a Los Angeles lesbian bar circa 1947. Instead of an underground hideaway, the place is a veritable Follies Bergere with half-naked chorines writhing and smooching on a towering stairway to the strains of a big band belting out Cole Porter.

But the film does many things right. The rapid dialogue is sharp throughout, as it should be because much of it is lifted from Ellroy's novel. Hartnett delivers an intriguing mix of tenderness, self-righteousness and self-incrimination -- Ellroy cops are never clean. Eckhart plays scenes at full throttle yet never feels out of control. As the good vamp, Johansson uses an angelic pout and faux innocence to have her way with men. As the bad vamp, Swank goes for such unrestrained sexuality that she makes the actual Dahlia -- Mia Kirshner seen in screen tests and one rather tame stag film -- seem almost demure.

Then there are the De Palma touches that pull you out of the movie: the black bird swooping down symbolically on the Dahlia's corpse, an earthquake thrown in for no good reason, Fiona Shaw's over-the-top performance as Madeleine's drug-addled mom, the rush of revelations in the final reel that feels more like footnotes than climactic moments.

Mark Isham's music is lush whether in a romantic or an overheated mood. Vilmos Zsigmond's graceful camera is a tad self-conscious as are sets and costumes, all a little too eager to flout their period trappings.

THE BLACK DAHLIA

Universal Pictures

Universal in association with Millennnium Films presents a Signature Pictures production for Equity Pictures Medienfonds and Nu-Image Entertainment

Credits:

Director: Brian De Palma

Screenwriter: Josh Friedman

Based on the novel by: James Ellroy

Producers: Art Linson, Avi Lerner, Moshe Diamant, Ruby Cohen

Executive producers: James B. Harris, Danny Dimbort, Boaz Davidson, Trevor Short, John Thompson, Andreas Thiesmeyer, Josef Lautenschlager, Henrik Huydts, Rolf Deyhle

Director of photography: Vilmos Zsigmond

Production designer: Dante Ferretti

Music: Mark Isham

Costume designer: Jenny Beavan

Editor: Bill Pankow

Cast:

Bucky Bleichert: Josh Hartnett

Lee Blanchard: Aaron Eckhart

Kay Lake: Scarlett Johansson

Madeleine Linscott: Hilary Swank

Elizabeth Short: Mia Kirshner

Russ Millard: Mike Starr

Ramona: Fiona Shaw

Martha: Rachel Miner

Bill Koenig: Victor McGuire

MPAA rating: R

Running time -- 121 minutes »

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De Palma's 'Black Dahlia' to open Venice fest

25 July 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

ROME -- Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia will mark the opening of the 63rd annual Venice Film Festival, organizers announced Monday. The 1940s period film, due to be released by Universal on Sept. 15 in the U.S., is based on the bestseller by James Ellroy, and stars Scarlett Johansson, Hilary Swank and Josh Hartnett. It tells the dark story of corruption and conspiracy within the Los Angeles police department that comes to light while two police officers investigate a brutal murder. "We are honored that Brian De Palma chose Venice to premiere his new and anticipated film," Venice president Davide Croff and artistic director Marco Muller said in a joint statement. »

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De Palma's 'Black Dahlia' to open Venice fest

24 July 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

ROME -- Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia will mark the opening of the 63rd annual Venice Film Festival, organizers announced Monday. The 1940s period film, due to be released by Universal on Sept. 15 in the U.S., is based on the bestseller by James Ellroy, and stars Scarlett Johansson, Hilary Swank and Josh Hartnett. It tells the dark story of corruption and conspiracy within the Los Angeles police department that comes to light while two police officers investigate a brutal murder. "We are honored that Brian De Palma chose Venice to premiere his new and anticipated film," Venice president Davide Cross and artistic director Marco Muller said in a joint statement. »

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Cannes 06: Massive Preview

2 March 2006 | ioncinema | See recent ioncinema news »

- Following up on a Screen Daily piece written moments after the Berlin film festival, we’ve decided to go with that list and make a full breakdown of the pictures that we might find at this year’s Cannes film festival. At this point its just speculation - but hell its fun to speculate and after what many consider a long wait for quality projects – I think that buyers and sellers might find themselves in a real frenzy at the Croisette. With the opening of what will be a massive blockbuster hit (hear those cash registers ring) in Ron Howard’s The Da Vinci Code, and by the looks of the names there might be plenty of items to look forward to in the Autumn and be sure there will be plenty of leftovers for both Venice & Toronto (remember: Ang Lee avoided traffic and showcased Brokeback Mountain at Venice. »

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8 items from 2006


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