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11 items from 2005


Trust the Man

16 September 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

This review was written for the festival screening of "Trust the Man".

TORONTO -- Just when it looked like the romantic comedy was doomed to forever repeat itself in some kind of formulaic purgatory, along comes filmmaker Bart Freudlich with "Trust the Man", a smart, sharply observed, highly affable look at contemporary relationships that finally injects a little life in the stagnating genre.

Working with a beautifully in-sync comic ensemble including Julianne Moore, David Duchovny, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Billy Crudup, Freundlich, who's Moore's husband, delivers what is by far his most accessible -- and most satisfying -- film to date.

Fox Searchlight, which picked up the film midfestival, could have a tidy little hit on its hands, appealing to a grown-up audience hankering for something adult without the "Wedding Crashers"/"40 Year Old Virgin" frat boy vibe.

With New York City providing the appropriately urbane backdrop, the picture surveys the in-transition lives of two couples in very different stages of their relationship.

Rebecca is a successful actress whose sex-addict husband Tom (Duchovny) is a stay-at-home dad for their two young kids.

Her commitment-phobic younger brother Tobey (Billy Crudup), meanwhile, is perfectly content to stay the course of his 7-year relationship with girlfriend Elaine (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a budding children's book writer aching to start a family of her own.

Despite the efforts of a couple of therapists played by Garry Shandling and Bob Balaban, Tom and Rebecca and Tobey and Elaine are each about to come face to face with potentially life-changing, but quite funny, obstacles.

Both geographically and thematically speaking, writer-director Freundlich finds himself on vintage Woody Allen turf here -- as in the "Manhattan"/"Husbands and Wives" Woody Allen -- while still managing to lend the production a unique voice of its own.

And Allen would've killed for Freundlich's terrific cast.

It's a real kick seeing Julianne Moore playing it for laughs for a change, and she's such a natural you wish she'd have signed on to do comedies years ago.

The same can be said for Crudup, a usually intense actor who plays things loose and loopy as the delightful Gyllenhaal's slacker b.f., while Duchovny looks to be really enjoying himself on screen for the first time in a long while.

Also amusing is Ellen Barkin as a book publisher who takes a shine to Gyllenhaal; James Le Gros as Dante, a sensitive singer-songwriter; and Eva Mendes as a friend of Crudup's from college looking for a little reunion action.

While the scripting loses a bit of its bite in the third act, when Freundlich playfully apes some of those rickety romantic comedy cliches missing from the rest of the film, it's a minor quibble.

Behind the scenes, it's also nice to see New York actually being played by itself for a change, and director of photography Tim Orr ("George Washington", "Little Manhattan"), takes full advantage of the local flavor, like Serendipity and The Magnolia Bakery, while incorporating those ever-changing elements, from wind to rain to snow and back again.

TRUST THE MAN

Fox Searchlight

Sidney Kimmel Entertainment presents a Process Production

A Film by Part Freundlich

Credits:

Director-screenwriter: Bart Freundlich

Producers: Sidney Kimmel, Tim Perell, Bart Freundlich

Executive producers: Marina Grasic, Evelyn O'Neill

Director of photography: Tim Orr

Production designer: Kevin Thompson

Editor: John Gilroy

Costume designer: Michael Clancy

Music: Clint Mansell

Cast:

Rebecca: Julianne Moore

Tom: David Duchovny

Tobey: Billy Crudup

Elaine: Maggie Gyllenhaal

Faith: Eva Mendes

Norah: Ellen Barkin

Dr. Beekman: Gary Shandling

Dante: James Le Gros

Running time -- 103 minutes

MPAA rating: Not yet rated »

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Trust the Man

15 September 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

TORONTO -- Just when it looked like the romantic comedy was doomed to forever repeat itself in some kind of formulaic purgatory, along comes filmmaker Bart Freudlich with "Trust the Man", a smart, sharply observed, highly affable look at contemporary relationships that finally injects a little life in the stagnating genre.

Working with a beautifully in-sync comic ensemble including Julianne Moore, David Duchovny, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Billy Crudup, Freundlich, who's Moore's husband, delivers what is by far his most accessible -- and most satisfying -- film to date.

Fox Searchlight, which picked up the film midfestival, could have a tidy little hit on its hands, appealing to a grown-up audience hankering for something adult without the "Wedding Crashers"/"40 Year Old Virgin" frat boy vibe.

With New York City providing the appropriately urbane backdrop, the picture surveys the in-transition lives of two couples in very different stages of their relationship.

Rebecca is a successful actress whose sex-addict husband Tom (Duchovny) is a stay-at-home dad for their two young kids.

Her commitment-phobic younger brother Tobey (Billy Crudup), meanwhile, is perfectly content to stay the course of his 7-year relationship with girlfriend Elaine (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a budding children's book writer aching to start a family of her own.

Despite the efforts of a couple of therapists played by Garry Shandling and Bob Balaban, Tom and Rebecca and Tobey and Elaine are each about to come face to face with potentially life-changing, but quite funny, obstacles.

Both geographically and thematically speaking, writer-director Freundlich finds himself on vintage Woody Allen turf here -- as in the "Manhattan"/"Husbands and Wives" Woody Allen -- while still managing to lend the production a unique voice of its own.

And Allen would've killed for Freundlich's terrific cast.

It's a real kick seeing Julianne Moore playing it for laughs for a change, and she's such a natural you wish she'd have signed on to do comedies years ago.

The same can be said for Crudup, a usually intense actor who plays things loose and loopy as the delightful Gyllenhaal's slacker b.f., while Duchovny looks to be really enjoying himself on screen for the first time in a long while.

Also amusing is Ellen Barkin as a book publisher who takes a shine to Gyllenhaal; James Le Gros as Dante, a sensitive singer-songwriter; and Eva Mendes as a friend of Crudup's from college looking for a little reunion action.

While the scripting loses a bit of its bite in the third act, when Freundlich playfully apes some of those rickety romantic comedy cliches missing from the rest of the film, it's a minor quibble.

Behind the scenes, it's also nice to see New York actually being played by itself for a change, and director of photography Tim Orr ("George Washington", "Little Manhattan"), takes full advantage of the local flavor, like Serendipity and The Magnolia Bakery, while incorporating those ever-changing elements, from wind to rain to snow and back again.

TRUST THE MAN

Fox Searchlight

Sidney Kimmel Entertainment presents a Process Production

A Film by Part Freundlich

Credits:

Director-screenwriter: Bart Freundlich

Producers: Sidney Kimmel, Tim Perell, Bart Freundlich

Executive producers: Marina Grasic, Evelyn O'Neill

Director of photography: Tim Orr

Production designer: Kevin Thompson

Editor: John Gilroy

Costume designer: Michael Clancy

Music: Clint Mansell

Cast:

Rebecca: Julianne Moore

Tom: David Duchovny

Tobey: Billy Crudup

Elaine: Maggie Gyllenhaal

Faith: Eva Mendes

Norah: Ellen Barkin

Dr. Beekman: Gary Shandling

Dante: James Le Gros

Running time -- 103 minutes

MPAA rating: Not yet rated »

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Searchlight gains 'Trust'; 'Party' hearty

14 September 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

TORONTO -- Fox Searchlight's $6 million-$7 million purchase of Bart Freundlich's all-star dramedy Trust the Man dominated talk among buyers Tuesday morning at the Toronto International Film Festival. But by late afternoon, the conversation shifted to what appeared to be the likely sale of Michel Gondry's freeform comedy/concert Dave Chappelle's Block Party to Focus Features/Rogue. Earlier in the day, a Fox Searchlight representative said that 20th Century Fox's specialty films division had become the "proud owner" of writer-director Freundlich's absorbing relationship study, starring his wife and longtime film collaborator Julianne Moore, David Duchovny, Billy Crudup, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Eva Mendes and Ellen Barkin. »

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No joke: Ferrell follows agent to CAA

27 July 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Will Ferrell has made CAA his new home. The move was expected after Ferrell's agent, Jason Heyman, left UTA earlier this month along with television agent Martin Lesak. At the time, the agents' segue to CAA was expected to bolster the agency's comedy presence and Ferrell's signing seems to plant that flag. Ferrell, a former Saturday Night Live comedian who rose to fame on movies such as Old School and Elf, is currently shooting Stranger Than Fiction opposite Dustin Hoffman and Maggie Gyllenhaal for director Marc Forster, and he will begin shooting the Untitled Will Ferrell Nascar Comedy for Columbia in September. »

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Gyllenhaal Terrified of Discussing Political Opinions

13 July 2005 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Hollywood actress Maggie Gyllenhaal has vowed to keep her political opinions to herself, because she's still suffering the media backlash over a remark she made about the September 11th terrorist attacks in April. The New York native was at the premiere of her movie The Great New Wonderful, which is set in the city a year after the al-Qaeda attacks on the Big Apple, and investigates New Yorkers' feelings about the tragedy. But while describing the movie, Gyllenhaal famously suggested America was "responsible in some way" for the attacks, but was forced to retract the comment following a media uproar about her anti-American sentiments. And now she's too terrified to discuss her thoughts, in case she accidentally sparks controversy again. She says, "I was so surprised by the way it was misunderstood, and the disdain that came back at me was a real shock. I regret what I said, but I think my intentions were good. Neither the red carpet nor an interview about a movie is the right place to talk about my politics. I realize I have to be careful, because it's very easy to misunderstand a complicated thought in a complicated world." »

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Col plays 'Fetch' with Leiner pic

1 June 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Columbia Pictures has attached Danny Leiner to direct the romantic comedy Fetch, which Jeff Lowell is writing and Neal Moritz is producing for his Original Film. Leiner most recently directed Great New Wonderful, a tale of five, interwoven stories set in New York in the wake of Sept. 11. The film, whose cast includes Maggie Gyllenhaal, Edie Falco, Tony Shalhoub and Olympia Dukakis, premiered at the recent Tribeca Film Festival. Leiner's other directing credits include Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle and Dude, Where's My Car? »

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Three feted at opening of Amnesty fest

25 May 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Sidney Lumet, Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson were presented with Artists for Amnesty Awards at the opening-night ceremonies of the fourth annual Amnesty International Film Festival, which kicked off its six-day run Tuesday at the DGA in Los Angeles. Strip Search -- which Lumet directed, Fontana wrote and Levinson executive produced -- inaugurated a program of 27 human-rights documentaries, shorts and feature films from 18 countries. Glenn Close and Maggie Gyllenhaal star in Strip Search, which had a one-time airing on HBO a year ago. The Amnesty festival, co-presented by the city of West Hollywood, also screens annually in Seattle, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh and Asheville, N.C., and is starting an annual unspooling in Washington in the fall in association with National Geographic. »

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Maggie Gyllenhaal Sparks Controversy Over 9/11 Comments

28 April 2005 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Actress Maggie Gyllenhaal has sparked controversy after declaring her native America "is responsible in some way" for the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington DC. The 27-year-old Mona Lisa Smile star made the comments in an interview last week, provoking a strong reaction from her patriotic countrymen. In a statement issued by her publicist, Gyllenhaal says, "(September 11 was) an occasion to be brave enough to ask some serious questions about America's role in the world. Because it is always useful as individuals or nations to ask how we may have knowingly or unknowingly contributed to this conflict. Not to have the courage to ask these questions of ourselves is to betray the victims of 9/11." »

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It's true: Hoffman gets 'Fiction' role

4 February 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Two-time Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman is reuniting with director Marc Forster and joining the cast of Stranger Than Fiction. Lindsay Doran is producing under her Three Strange Angels banner. The comedy's cast already includes Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Emma Thompson and Queen Latifah. Fiction tells the story of an IRS auditor (Ferrell) who inexplicably finds himself the subject of a narrator only he can hear, who tells him that events have been set in motion that will lead to his imminent death. Hoffman will play a professor who helps the auditor in his attempts to find the narrator and to change his story before it's too late. Mandate Pictures, formerly Senator International, is financing and owns worldwide distribution rights. Zach Helm is the writer. Endeavor-repped Hoffman is onscreen in Meet the Fockers and Forster's Oscar-nominated Finding Neverland. »

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Happy Endings

21 January 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

PARK CITY -- Call this one "sex, lines and DVDs." The subject here, more or less, is sex -- "a really incredible, big part of a person's life," says writer-director Don Roos. Nearly everyone in the movie lies or distorts the truth. And a DV film figures prominently in this witty, convoluted and most ironic comedy. Happy Endings is a real audience pleaser, so long as that audience is mentally agile and adult, for it comes at you from odd angles and features three distinct story lines and 10 main characters.

The film bears a resemblance to Roos' first outing as a writer-director, The Opposite of Sex, a wisecrack comedy with dysfunctional characters and an idiosyncratic take on sex, where comic detonations were neatly buried in often biting dialogue. The Lions Gate film, which could benefit from more festival exposure leading up to its July release, should draw well enough from college crowds and young adults to achieve modest boxoffice success.

The irony in Roos' narrative design is that every character seeks intimate contact and love, yet goes about this pursuit in the least truthful way. An episode years before the main action establishes the theme as well as two characters who will link two story lines. What happens is that Mamiee (Lisa Kudrow) and Charley (Steve Coogan), a sexually precocious young woman in Los Angeles and her British step-brother, quickly fall into a sexual relationship behind their newly married parents' backs. Result: Mamiee becomes pregnant. Solution: Mamiee is hustled off to Phoenix for an abortion and Charley (you learn much later) gets a vasectomy. They never speak of the incident again.

Now, in present day, the movie's first lie is exposed: Mamiee never had an abortion. She gave birth and put the boy up for adoption. A smarmy would-be filmmaker, Nicky (Jesse Bradford), says he knows Mamiee's son and tries to blackmail her into letting him film a tearful reunion. Seems he wants to make a "killer film" so he will be accepted into AFI.

Mamiee and her illegal Mexican immigrant boyfriend Javier (Bobby Cannavale), a massage therapist, convince a reluctant Nicky to make a film instead about Javier, who claims he is really a sex worker. So now the film has established two major lies and one DV film.

Next Roos catches up with Charley, who has taken over the family restaurant business and turned gay -- not necessarily in that order. His longtime significant other, Gil (David Sutcliffe), served as sperm donor for the lads' lesbian pals, Pam (Laura Dern) and Diane (Sarah Clarke). The gals say the sperm didn't take. Yet Charley fervently believes their 2-year-old son looks suspiciously like Gil and will go to any length to establish Gil's parenthood.

In the third story line, Jude (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a manipulative and sexually provocative woman, first shacks up with Otis (Jason Ritter), who goes along because he wants to prove to his dad he is straight. Then she stages a breakup with the son, who really is gay, so she can zero in romantically on the wealthy dad (Tom Arnold).

All these damaging stratagems unfold in a jaunty style that includes title cards on half screens, which explore character motivations, relationships and backgrounds with an eye to potential happy endings (or not). People fall in and out of love, discover hurtful truths about these relationships, and nothing ever turns out as you might expect. Which is what's fun about the Don Roos Experience.

This also is ensemble acting at its finest. The actors hit the most vulnerable points in each of their forlorn yet oddly endearing characters with the accuracy of smart bombs. Clark Mathis' hand-held camera tracks these characters relentlessly, through good light and bad, meandering about Richard Sherman's production design that captures the faux casual L.A. of today, all in pursuit of a documentary-like truth. The result is a killer film. However, Roos need not apply to AFI.

HAPPY ENDINGS

Lions Gate Films

A Holly Wiersma/Lions Gate Films Prod.

Credits:

Writer-director: Don Roos

Producers: Holly Wiersma, Michael Paseornek

Executive produces: Tom Ortenberg, Nick Meyer, Mike Elliott

Director of photography: Clark Mathis

Production designer: Richard Sherman

Music supervisor: Nicole Tocantins

Co-producers: Ali Gorman, Bobby Cohen, Marc Platt

Costume designer: Peggy Anita Schnitzer

Editor: David Codron.

Cast:

Frank: Tom Arnold

Nicky: Jesse Bradford

Javier: Bobby Cannavale

Diane: Sarah Clarke

Charley: Steve Coogan

Pam: Laura Dern

Jude: Maggie Gyllenhaal

Mamiee: Lisa Kudrow

Otis: Jason Ritter

Gil: David Sutcliffe

No MPAA rating

Running time -- 133 minutes »

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'Fiction' fact: Latifah, Thompson

21 January 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Queen Latifah and Emma Thompson are joining Stranger Than Fiction, director Marc Forster's follow-up film to Finding Neverland. Lindsay Doran is producing under her Three Strange Angels banner. Will Ferrell already has been cast as an obsessive/compulsive IRS auditor who begins to hear a voice that turns out to be an author who is writing a novel in which Ferrell is the ill-fated protagonist. The auditor heeds the narrator's advice and turns his life around. Thompson is in final negotiations to play the author suffering from writer's block, and Latifah is in final negotiations to play a book-company employee whose job is to unblock writers. Maggie Gyllenhaal signed on this week to play Ferrell's unlikely love interest, a baker with anarchist leanings. »

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11 items from 2005


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