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Exclusive: Sony’s surprise decision to double back and release The Interview in limited fashion on Christmas Day has exhibitors in a rage, and it sure looks like it is going to take them a long time to get over it. After Sony canceled the December 25 bow, pulled its advertising and began scrapping billboards, exhibitors filled the screens with other pictures. Led by Sony chief Michael Lynton, the studio — and President Obama — are waving the pompoms and making the release of this movie, on probably one-tenth of the original screen count, sound like a victory against terrorism. It’s a peculiar stance. Most feel that Sony’s handling of this crisis has been schizophrenic all the way through, and while some might patronize The Interview as their testament they will stand up to terrorism, censorship and evil, what is going to happen when they realize it’s a silly comedy »
- David Robb and Mike Fleming Jr
The fate of comedy "The Interview" is looking grim, after Sony has canceled domestic and international theatrical release this week. The James Franco and Seth Rogen-starrer had been in the works for half a decade. In it, a tabloid news show host and his producer are roped into an assassination attempt on North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un via the urging of the FBI. While the plot sounds somewhat serious, it looped its way through plenty of weiner and butthole jokes, and also grounded its digs in North Korean propaganda, the criminal dehumanization of its people and the un-deifying of its Dear Leader (through dick and butt jokes, of course, plus violence). But cutting down a tyrannical world leader is no new feat, of course. "South Park" and "Looney Tunes" took down Kim Jong-Il and Hitler in cartoons. "Arrested Development," "Saturday Night Live" and "30 Rock" brought abroad baddies to their knees for the small screen. »
- Katie Hasty, Alan Sepinwall, Drew McWeeny, Daniel Fienberg
Maysoon Pachachi’s Nothing Doing In Baghdad is set to start shooting in February after securing three European co-producers and funding from Visions Sud Est and the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (Afac).
Talal Al-Muhanna’s Linked Productions (Kuwait) and Pachachi’s Oxymoron Films (UK) will be joined by Patrice Nezan’s Les Contes Modernes (France), Alexander Ris’ Neue Mediopolis (Germany) and Juan Pablo Libossar’s Fasad (Sweden).
In addition to the Afac and Visions Sud Est funding, the project scooped the first $100,000 Iwc Filmmaker Award at Dubai International Film Festival in 2012 and also previously received support from Europe’s Media Mundus and Abu Dhabi’s Sanad. The three co-producers are also applying for funds.
Set in Baghdad in the last week of 2006 – when Saddam Hussein was executed – the film follows the intersecting lives of several characters of different religions living in the same neighbourhood, including a female novelist suffering from writer’s block.
“This was a time »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Liz Shackleton)
Sony Pictures may alter the Christmas release of “The Interview” — if the studio believes that hackers’ threats are credible, and endanger people.
Indications are that the recent hack attack that brought the studio to a standstill may have been launched by supporters of North Korea as punishment for the comic tale of an assassination attempt on the nation’s supreme leader, Kim Jong-un. Though that nation’s government has denied involvement, a Dec. 8 email from a group calling itself Guardians of Peace issued an ultimatum that Sony not release “the movie of terrorism” — believed to be “The Interview” — or face unspecified consequences.
So far, no exhibitors have canceled showings of the movie, according to the National Assn. of Theatre Owners.
- Brent Lang
Revolutionary hope, coups and counter-coups, then exile: Such is the distressingly common pattern for millions of middle-class Arabs from the mid-20th century until now. Single-monikered helmer Samir uses members of his extended family as archetypes of this diaspora in his overlong yet surprisingly engrossing docu, “Iraqi Odyssey,” designed to capture the vicissitudes of Iraq’s troubled history via one clan’s personal take on the last century. The perfunctory use of 3D and excessive running time won’t attract more viewers, but fest programmers understanding the need to demystify a nationality often seen only in one-dimensional form should take a look.
Two versions of the multi-lingo pic exist: one with Arabic narration and English subtitles, the other with English voiceover and Arabic subtitles. Unfortunately, the grating delivery of the actors hired to do the English voiceover, spoken as if part of a theater production for children, requires considerable mental »
- Jay Weissberg
In what was supposed to be the year of the “faith-based film,” after a few moderate successes like “Son of God” and “Heaven Is For Real,” we have now seen a dozen box-office duds. On Dec. 12 there’ll be another attempt, a film about Moses called “Exodus: Gods & Kings.”
Efforts to reach the allegedly unpredictable traditionalist filmgoer began in earnest a decade ago when the Variety and the Los Angeles Times predicted a $15 million-$30 million opening for “The Passion of the Christ” and it ended up raking in $125 million over its five-day debut. That opening was the movie biz equivalent of a 13-year-old boy arriving barefoot at Yankee Stadium with his homemade bat and hitting 400 home runs, leaving only two possible conclusions: a) He was an anomaly or b) there was a different way to bat baseballs.
Having been a part of that film and other similarly situated movies, and »
- Mark Joseph
With Daniel Radcliffe now sporting a pair of horns at screens worldwide, we decided to pit a few other big-screen Beelzebubs against one another in head-to-head combat.
An espresso-sipping, egg-peeling businessman with a luxuriant mullet – well, it was the 1980s – Louis Cyphre (De Niro) casts a quietly seething shadow across Alan Parker's dank New Orleans noir. Despite his "dimestore joke" name ("Mephistopheles is such a mouthful in Manhattan," he tells Mickey Rourke's fall-guy Pi) and lethal talons, there's a subtlety to De Niro's El Diablo that means he only needs to raise an eyebrow to convey an eternity of egg-bound malevolence.
More Gordon Gecko than genuine fiend, »
For Halloween, we celebrate The Simpsons' best Treehouse Of Horror stories, feat. zombies, Hitchcock and Kubrick spoofs and more...
“Nothing seems to bother my kids but tonight's show, which I totally wash my hands of, is really scary.”
For anyone who grew up watching The Simpsons, the Treehouse Of Horror Halloween specials are an annual horror staple, from spooky couch gag to horror-themed credits. You can learn an awful lot of things just from watching the show, but for younger audiences, these episodes gave us our introduction to certain iconic horror stories.
Having ditched the early framing device of the family telling scary stories to one another, with Springfielders cast in key roles, the format is now closer to a mini-anthology of terror with three stories that take place outside of canon. This has usually given the writers licence to be more gruesome and outlandish than in the regular series, »
For young directors in the oil-rich Emirates, just as in the rest of the Arab world, finding coin to make a movie is almost as hard as getting the proverbial camel to go through the eye of a needle.
Still, funding opportunities have increased in the past decade as Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha launched film fests with affiliated funding entities.
Since 2010 when the Abu Dhabi fest started its Sanad fund for films in development or post, more than 100 projects have tapped into its support. Projects backed include Kurdish helmer Hiner Saleem’s Cannes Un Certain Regard entry “My Sweet Pepper Land,” set in a wild-west post-Saddam Hussein Iraqi Kurdistan; Iraqi orphanage docu “In My Mother’s Arms,” by Atia and Mohamed Al-Daradji, that went to Toronto; and Palestinian refugee camp docu “A World Not Ours,” by Emirati helmer Mahdi Fleifel, that traveled to Berlin.
More recently, Jordanian first-time »
- Nick Vivarelli
Vancouver - It's no wonder that Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen and James Franco finish each other's sentences. The former two grew up together in Vancouver, have collaborated on scripts since they were 12 years old. Rogen produced and co-starred in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," which filmed 10 years ago; it also cast James Franco, the first of many creative starts for the two of them. For 2013's "This Is The End," Goldberg and Rogen co-directed, Rogen and Franco co-starred -- the same as the setup to forthcoming comedy "The Interview." "Basically until [Sony Pictures] saw 'This is the End, we didn’t know if they’d let us direct another movie," Rogen explained. "So, once they saw it, they decided they would let us direct another movie." Goldberg and Rogen headed back home to Vancouver to shoot much of this action-oriented flick, with the story set mostly in North Korea. Franco with them -- »
- Katie Hasty
Last week we had a look at easter eggs hidden in the Star Wars. Today we’re turning our gaze to the original films. And boy are there some doozies in there.
The original Star Wars films (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi) themselves are over thirty years old, but they still fresh today. And we’re not talking about relentless updates either; the films boast incredible designs and an incredible sense of world building. And, of course, an abundance of easter eggs.
In the pre-cgi days hiding things in film was a lot harder. Nowadays all it takes is five minutes of a programmers time, but when everything was models each hidden in-joke had to be flawlessly executed. This would make you think that the original trilogy would be much lighter on easter eggs than the more recent films. And while a »
- Alex Leadbeater
25 years ago, director Wim Wenders’ discovered the haunting black and white artworks of celebrated Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado. Now a 70-year-old man who has traveled to nearly every corner of the Earth for more than 40 years, Salgado has documented some of the most tragic and catastrophic events in recent history: revolutions and international conflicts, genocide in Rwanda, wars in Yugoslavia, starvation in Ethiopia, the Saddam Hussein-devastated Kuwaiti oilfields, mass exoduses around the globe and more. So taken with Salgado's iconic photos —striking works often bearing witness to the poor, the suffering and neglected members of society— Wenders bought two prints and promptly framed them above his office desk where they remain to this day. But the more Salgado’s ghostly photos preoccupied Wenders’ heart and psyche (this photo in particular), the more the venerable German filmmaker felt compelled to understand the man who took them. Eventually Wenders would »
- Rodrigo Perez
Antonio Inoki is perhaps the most famous Japanese professional wrestler of all time. Inoki started his career in 1960, when he was only 17. He would later found New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1972 — arguably the most successful Japanese promotion there is. Furthermore, Inoki famously battled boxing legend Muhammad Ali in a lackluster contest in 1976 — a battle that would be a spiritual precursor to the sport of mixed martial arts.
On August 4th, 1995, Inoki — along with his New Japan Pro Wrestling promotion and a handful of World Championship Wrestling stars — held a historic event in Pyongyang, North Korea. The infamously sheltered and closed-off country played home to a historic two day wrestling spectacle that was later broadcast on American pay-per-view, courtesy of WCW.
Now, nearly two decades later, Inoki has returned to Pyongyang to deliver an equally historic sporting event. North Korea’s relations with Japan are notoriously poor, and »
- Douglas Scarpa
From the 1980s to the 21st century, Jamie takes us on a guided tour of the most frustrating videogames he's encountered so far...
I want to take you on a journey through a few decades of game-playing frustration, name-checking the titles that have most made me want to kick a sleeping puppy in the face: games that only a heart surgeon would have the dexterity and patience to complete; games so disgustingly unfair and evil that even Satan beholds their exquisitely cruel construction with envy, kicking himself that he didn’t think of them first.
(Disclaimer: no actual puppies were harmed in the making of this article)
Now for another couple of disclaimers: pointless I know, because nobody actually reads these introductions, right? I believe it’s traditional to skip the rest of this article and head to the comments’ section below filled with boundless and unquenchable rage. (If you »
Chris Brown may have new, more troubling neighbor issues ... we've found out he's moved deep into the San Fernando Valley, and one of his new neighbors is threatening lethal force if Chris steps onto his property.Real estate sources tell TMZ ... Chris is renting an 8,000 square foot, 6 bedroom house in Agoura ... it's near the Malibu border but technically part of the Valley. It's a pretty sick pad. It has a commercial ice cream bar, dance studio, »
- TMZ Staff
Frontline’s “Losing Iraq” is, in essence, the foreign-policy companion to the PBS news program’s recent domestic-surveillance treatise “United States of Secrets,” offering an evenhanded approach to a topic where reason is often drowned out elsewhere by partisan rhetoric. Both documentaries, moreover — and this one again falls under the aegis of Michael Kirk — don’t point fingers so much as apportion responsibility, detailing the Bush administration screw-ups that created the mess in Iraq, followed by the Obama administration’s neglect, which congealed to create the current mess. What the 90-minute telecast doesn’t offer, alas, is what’s desperately needed: A viable solution.
Interviewing a who’s who of participants and journalists, “Losing Iraq” spends considerable time on the early miscalculations and missteps once the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled, highlighted by what journalist Thomas Ricks dubbed President Bush’s “a premature victory speech” in front of a “Mission Accomplished” banner. »
- Brian Lowry
Identity is a funny thing. Defining ourselves is our first step in defining the world around us, especially in the way that we define others. Or “the other.” So, what happens when one spends his formative years as “the other” in an otherwise fairly homogeneous culture?
At once, American Arab — the latest provocative documentary by Usama Alshaibi — is both profoundly personal and culturally inquisitive. It is the first grand statement in a discussion that has been begging to take place since September 11, 2001: What is the role of the Arab in modern American society?
For his previous two feature-length films, Alshaibi has been toying with notions of his identity, whether directly in the documentary Nice Bombs in which he returned to his hometown of Baghdad, Iraq following the ouster of Saddam Hussein, or through proxy in his fiction film Profane, about a female sex worker struggling with her religious background. »
- Mike Everleth
As Vulture notes, starting today all 17 seasons of Trey Parker and Matt Stone's often brilliant and always envelope-pushing "South Park" are available, for free, on Hulu. This will be the case until season 18 premieres on September 24th. So get cracking. (After the new premiere, all episodes will be available the following day on Hulu Plus, the pay version of Hulu.)
"South Park," of course, is the critically acclaimed animated series that began life as an animated Christmas card back in 1992 called "The Spirit of Christmas" (created, crudely but effectively, in a stop motion paper cutout style). A few years later the short was refined and looks a lot more like the eventual series. The pilot episode of the series aired in 1997, and jumped to the big screen in 1999 with the deeply wonderful "South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut." Always a lightning rod for controversy, the series had touched »
- Drew Taylor
I’m “biast” (con): …but not a fan of Donald Rumsfeld
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
As Iraq disintegrates before our eyes, it’s suddenly even more vital to listen to what Donald Rumsfeld, one of the architects of the mess in the Middle East, has to say for himself. It’s pretty ugly… not that Rumsfeld sees that, of course. This feature-length interview with documentary filmmaker Errol Morris (Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr.) is horrifying for how it demonstrates Rumsfeld’s complete lack of awareness of the enormity of his own actions.
Or else — this is worse, and I suspect it’s closer to the truth — we »
- MaryAnn Johanson
When Charlie Sheen dropped a bomb on Saddam Hussein in Hot Shots! back in the 1990s, we can't imagine that the-then leader of Iraq was particularly amused. However, we also can't quite remember Jim Abrahams' spoof movie being the catalyst for international conflict.
But times have changed. And Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the co-directors of the upcoming The Interview, seem to have left the North Korean government threatening an "act of war". We are not making this up. The world might end because of a Seth Rogen movie.
The Interview is a comedy, starring Rogen and James Franco, about a fake plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. And on the basis of the trailer, there are some within North Korea who are not amused. »
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