14 items from 2015
The 40th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival now has something of a slate. Festival toppers Cameron Bailey and Piers Handling presided over a press conference Tuesday morning where more than 34 films were announced including the world premieres of "The Martian," "The Family Fang" and "Demolition." It's an intriguing initial lineup for the venerable Canadian institution and something of a steadying the ship after losing some major debuts to Venice, Telluride and the New York Film Festival over the past few years. Well, maybe. The most impressive world premieres include the aforementioned "Demolition" with Jake Gyllenhaal (officially the best opening night film in recent memory), "The Family Fang" with Nicole Kidman, "Legend" with Tom Hardy, "Trumbo" with Bryan Cranston, "The Martian" with Matt Damon and Lance Armstrong doc "The Program" with Ben Foster and Michael Moore's latest documentary, "Where to Invade Next." Notable films that will have premiered »
- Gregory Ellwood
The 40th annual Toronto International Film Festival will open with Jean-Marc Vallée’s “Demolition,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts. Ridley Scott’s “The Martian,” with Matt Damon, and Michael Moore’s “Where to Invade Next” were among the world premieres unveiled Tuesday during the Festival’s first major announcement.
In addition to more than a dozen Gala titles, more than 30 Special Presentations films were also revealed, with world premieres including Jay Roach’s “Trumbo” and Nicolas Hytner’s “The Lady In The Van.”
With the bulk of Toronto’s slate still under wraps, this first blast reflects the fest’s high-street persona in its mix of awards-season contenders (world-premiering pics alongside Sundance, Cannes and other fest-circuit notables), hot-topic cinema, high-profile Canadian titles, foreign pics likely to connect with North American audiences and star power.
- Jennie Punter
'Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl': Johnny Depp as Capt. Jack Sparrow. 'Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl' review: Mostly an enjoyable romp (Oscar Movie Series) Pirate movies were a Hollywood staple for about three decades, from the mid-'20s (The Sea Hawk, The Black Pirate) to the mid-to-late '50s (Moonfleet, The Buccaneer), when the genre, by then mostly relegated to B films, began to die down. Sporadic resurrections in the '80s and '90s turned out to be critical and commercial bombs (Pirates, Cutthroat Island), something that didn't bode well for the Walt Disney Company's $140 million-budgeted film "adaptation" of one of their theme-park rides. But Neptune's mood has apparently improved with the arrival of the new century. He smiled – grinned would be a more appropriate word – on the Gore Verbinski-directed Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, »
- Andre Soares
In 1963, Film Quarterly published an essay entitled “Circles and Squares.” It addressed the French auteur theory, introduced to America by The Village Voice’s Andrew Sarris. Auteurism holds that a film’s primary creator is its director; Sarris’s “Notes on the Auteur Theory” further distinguished auteurs as filmmakers with distinct, recurring styles. Challenging him was a California-based writer named Pauline Kael.
Kael attacked Sarris’s obsession with trivial links between filmmaker’s movies, whether repeated shots or thematic preoccupations. This led critics to overpraise directors’ lesser films, as when Jacques Rivette declared Howard Hawks’ Monkey Business a masterpiece. “It is an insult to an artist to praise his bad work along with his good; it indicates that you are incapable of judging either,” Kael wrote.
She criticized auteurist preoccupation with Hawks and Alfred Hitchcock, claiming critics “work embarrassingly hard trying to give some semblance of intellectual respectability to mindless, »
- Christopher Saunders
What amazed me most about Preston Sturges' Sullivan's Travels (1941), watching it for the first time on this newly released Criterion Blu-ray, is just how utterly unpredictable it is. Sure, we know where it may end once we are introduced to John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea), a big Hollywood director, who's decided to hit the road as a hobo to attain a greater understanding of human suffering before embarking on a serious adaptation of the fictional novel "O Brother, Where Art Thouc" (Yes, it is this fictional book Joel and Ethan Coen were name-checking with the title of their 2000 comedy.) But as much as we know what the end will offer, it's the path to that ending we don't see coming, even when it arrives. Set during the Great Depression, Sullivan, known for his comedies, isn't seeing anything funny in the world. When his producers suggest making a "nice musical »
- Brad Brevet
Sally Forrest, a dancer, actress and protege of Hollywood pioneer Ida Lupino who starred in the 1949 feature dramas Not Wanted and Never Fear, has died. She was 86. Forrest died March 15 at home in Beverly Hills after a long battle with cancer, publicist Judy Goffin announced. Forrest starred as a young unwed mother who puts her baby up for adoption in shame and then wants him back in Not Wanted, then stood out as an up-and-coming dancer who is paralyzed from polio in Never Fear. These performances led Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper to name Forrest the
- Mike Barnes
The film is based on the true story of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Cranston), who had been one of Hollywood’s top screenwriters before he was forced to testify in front of the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1947. When he refused to cooperate, he was sent to prison for 11 months.
Michael London’s Groundswell Prods. produces in association with Shivani Rawat, Monica Levinson, and Nimitt Mankad through ShivHans Pictures. Bleecker Street, headed by Andrew Karpen, launched last summer and took on distribution of the ShivHans titles.
Upon his release, Trumbo became a prolific blacklisted writer and won an Oscar for »
- Dave McNary
I know, I know... it's early in the year and the Oscars just ended and Oh my God what are you doingc Yet, the wheels keep turning and I like to be ahead of the game rather than playing catch up at the end of the year so I'm trying to make sure the database is locked and loaded for Oscar 2016 and I just got done adding a few contenders, contenders such as... Luca Guadagnino's A Bigger Splash, which Fox Searchlight just acquired for distribution starring Matthias Schoenaerts, Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Dakota Johnson and Aurore Clement. The pic centers on a high profile couple, a famous rock star and a filmmaker (Schoenaerts and Swinton), vacationing and recovering on the idyllic sun-drenched and remote Italian island of Pantelleria are disrupted by the unexpected visit of an old friend and his daughter (Fiennes and Johnson) - creating a whirlwind of jealousy, »
- Brad Brevet
Plummer and Pacino together – this scene alone makes me want to see the film.
Al Pacino stars as aging 1970s rocker Danny Collins, who can’t give up his hard-living ways. But when his manager (Christopher Plummer) uncovers a 40 year-old undelivered letter written to him by John Lennon, he decides to change course and embarks on a heartfelt journey to rediscover his family, find true love and begin a second act.
Go behind-the-scenes of Danny Collins in this featurette. The film opens in select theaters March 20th.
Bleecker Street is also releasing this fall Trumbo, a film I can’t wait to see and one to watch when awards season comes around. The successful career of 1940s Hollywood »
- Melissa Thompson
Helen Mirren insists that she wasn’t that nervous at the 2007 Academy Awards while awaiting the opening of the Oscar envelope for best actress.
But her actions would suggest otherwise.
When Philip Seymour Hoffman announced she had won for her turn as Elizabeth II in “The Queen,” Mirren stood up, embraced her director husband Taylor Hackford, and made her way to the stage — in one hand clutching her purse and in the other holding a clip-on earring she had removed moments earlier because it was pinching her.
“When they gave me the Oscar, I had no hands left!” Mirren recalls with a laugh. “It was very klutzy of me. These are the thing they don’t tell you; what do you do with your purse?”
But the veteran actress, who turns 70 in July, appeared cool and collected when she then delivered a speech thanking the Academy for “the best gold »
- Jenelle Riley
Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett movies (See previous post: "The Charles Brackett Diaries: Billy Wilder and Hollywood in the '30s and '40s.") Below is a list of movies on which Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder worked together as screenwriters, including efforts for which they did not receive screen credit. The Wilder-Brackett screenwriting partnership lasted from 1938 to 1949. During that time, they shared two Academy Awards for their work on The Lost Weekend (1945) and, with D.M. Marshman Jr., Sunset Blvd. (1950). Billy Wilder would later join forces with screenwriter I.A.L. Diamond in movies such as Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, and One, Two, Three. However well-received, Wilder's later films generally lacked the sophistication and subtlety found in his earlier work with Brackett. Charles Brackett, for his part, became associated with 20th Century-Fox, working as a producer-screenwriter. His Fox films, though frequently popular and at times applauded by critics, were decidedly made-to-order, »
- Andre Soares
Barkers rev up your engines. The Freak Show is over, and the incessant quote canonizing can begin. As another season of American Horror Story closed on Wednesday, the freak fetishist became the freak. (If that meant we got to see Finn Wittrock in his skivvies, then so be it.) But Dandy Mott's downfall was just the beginning of the curiosities delivered by Elsa Mars and her band of outsiders. Picking up short after Dandy (Wittrock) began his tyrannical rule of the side show, the anthology show's season finale was a veritable a parade of zingers and bon mots worthy of creator Ryan Murphy, »
- Lanford Beard, @lanfordbeard
As “Curtain Call” brought American Horror Story: Freak Show to a close, Dandy at last made his stage “debut,” and Elsa arrived in the one place in the world that might actually be weirder than her own Cabinet of Curiosities: Hollywood.
Here’s how it all fell apart and came together.
The Beginning Of The End | As the finale kicked off, Dandy was pitching a fit over the fact that, just like Penny predicted, audiences weren’t lining up to see a “rich Nancy sing show tunes.” And, in no time, he’d become so intolerable that he’d been decked by Amazon Eve, »
Criterion has announced five titles for Blu-ray release in April, which are sure to get film lovers on both sides of the pond excited.
All details of each release, as well as the artworks are below, and all available to pre-order over at Amazon.com.
Tired of churning out lightweight comedies, Hollywood director John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea) decides to make O Brother, Where Art Thou?—a serious, socially responsible film about human suffering. After his producers point out that he knows nothing of hardship, Sullivan hits the road disguised as a hobo. En route to enlightenment, »
- Scott J. Davis
14 items from 2015
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