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8 items from 2007

Broken English

25 June 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

This review was written for the theatrical release of "Broken English".

NEW YORK -- Parker Posey again proves her necessity to the indie film world with her complicated performance in Zoe Cassavetes' feature debut. Demonstrating that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, the screenwriter-director has delivered a well-observed film boasting highly realistic performances and dialogue, if not plot elements. But it's Posey's fascinating portrayal of a thirtysomething Manhattan single woman looking for love that lifts the film above its "Sex and the City" predictabilities.

Posey plays Nora Wilder, who smoothly handles customer relations at a posh boutique hotel catering to the rich, famous and difficult. Still single -- a fact that she is constantly reminded of by her nagging mother (Gena Rowlands) -- Nora looks on with admiration at the seemingly perfect marriage of her best friend, Audrey (Drea de Matteo), and her adoring director husband (Tim Guinee).

The difficulties of singlehood are well-demonstrated by a couple of episodes. In the first, Nora succumbs to the charm of a famous actor (Justin Theroux) only to discover that the self-obsessed lout is dating his current co-star. In the second, she goes on a blind date -- set up by her mother, no less -- that proves disastrous when the ex of the man (Josh Hamilton) suddenly shows up.

Ready to give up, Nora then meets a handsome and perfect Frenchman, Julien (Melvil Poupaud), who boasts a sexy accent to go along with his perfectly angled fedora. Just as the relationship is staring to jell, however, he goes back home to Paris, with Nora eventually following in an impulsive attempt to continue the relationship.

The film is ultimately more effective in isolated scenes than with its overall narrative, which becomes particularly ineffective with the Parisian interlude and the highly contrived ending. But those scenes, depicting the poignancy of someone desperately looking for emotional as well as physical connection, provide equal measures of emotion and humor, and Posey is superbly equipped to handle them. Her complicated performance provides the film with a depth not always present in the script.


Magnolia Pictures/HDNet Films

A Vox3 Films and Phantom Film Co. production

in association with Backup Films


Director-screenwriter: Zoe Cassavetes

Producers: Andrew Fierberg, Jason Kliot, Joana Vicente

Executive producers: Todd Wagner, Mark Cuban

Director of photography: John Pirozzi

Production designer: Happy Massee

Music: Scratch Massive

Co-producer: Keisuke Konishi

Costume designer: Stacey Battat

Editor: Andrew Weisblum


Nora Wilder: Parker Posey

Julien: Melvil Poupaud

Audrey Andrews: Drea de Matteo

Nick Gable: Justin Theroux

Vivien Wilder-Mann: Gena Rowlands

Mark: Tim Guinee

Running time -- 97 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13 »

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'Motion' pic captures Perry, Swank

10 May 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

NEW YORK -- Matthew Perry and Hilary Swank are set to star in Laws of Motion, a comedy produced by Plum Pictures, Ideal Partners Film Fund and Hilary Swank Prods. Ben Foster is in negotiations for a lead role in the film.

Perry plays a husband struggling with life in a repressive career and community along with headaches caused by his free-spirited brother (Foster) and sister. Swank will take on a supporting role as the all-too-perfect neighbor of Perry's harried character.

Motion is scheduled to begin production this month. Plum Pictures partners Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Celine Rattray and Galt Niederhoffer will produce the film with Ideal's Jana Edelbaum and Swank.

New York-based indie Plum Pictures has had a recent run of success with big Sundance Film Festival sales this year of James C. Strouse's Grace Is Gone to the Weinstein Co. and Justin Theroux's Dedication to First Look Pictures and the Weinstein Co. Its latest film, Watching the Detectives, premiered last month at the Tribeca Film Festival, and its upcoming adaptation of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar will be produced with star Julia Stiles. »

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It's founding fathers' day for HBO mini

22 March 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Oscar-nominated actor Tom Wilkinson has been tapped to play Benjamin Franklin and David Morse is set to play George Washington in the HBO Films miniseries John Adams, which is slated to premiere in 2008.

The Playtone-produced seven-hour miniseries is a biography of Adams (Paul Giamatti), the American founding father and the second U.S. president, told through the eyes of his wife, Abigail Adams (Laura Linney). Based on David McCullough's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, the mini will chronicle the first 50 years of the American republic.

Wilkinson and Morse join the previously cast Stephen Dillane as Thomas Jefferson, Danny Huston as Samuel Adams, Rufus Sewell as Alexander Hamilton, Justin Theroux as John Hancock and Guy Henry as Jonathan Sewall.

Production on the mini, written and co-executive produced by Kirk Ellis, is scheduled to begin shortly, with most of the production to film in Colonial Williamsburg, Va. Tom Hooper is directing, with Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman executive producing. »

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'Tropic' hot for Baruchel, Downey

28 February 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Robert Downey Jr. and Jay Baruchel have signed on to star in the Ben Stiller-helmed comedy Tropic Thunder for DreamWorks Pictures and Red Hour Films.

In the film, everything goes wrong during the making of a big-budget war movie, and the actors end up becoming the commandos they are playing. Downey will play Kirk Lazarus, the greatest actor of his generation and a four-time Oscar winner. Baruchel will play Kevin Sandusky, an unknown actor on the set. Stiller, Justin Theroux and Etan Cohen penned the screenplay.

Shooting is set to start in July. Red Hour's Stiller and Stuart Cornfeld are producing alongside Eric McLeod.

DreamWorks' Jeremy Kramer and Adam Goodman will oversee for the studio, while Lara Breay is shepherding the project for Red Hour. Downey, who stars in the upcoming Zodiac and Iron Man, is repped by CAA and attorney Tom Hansen.

Baruchel, who next appears in Judd Apatow's Knocked Up, is repped by CAA and manager Willie Mercer at Thruline Entertainment. »

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Perfect 'Ten' for Thinkfilm

26 January 2007 | ioncinema | See recent ioncinema news »

- The ensemble piece had its Sundance premiere in the first weekend of the fest, while the indie heavyweights balked, Th!NKFilm and City Lights Home Entertainment have partnered to purchase the pic for over 4 million. Vareity reports that ThinkFilm will handle theatrical distribution and City Lights will handle DVD and digital distribution through its partnership with Warner Music Group's Wea Corp. Both companies will share revenue from all distribution venues.Based on the screenplay by David Wain and Ken Marino, The Ten is a comedy spoofing the Ten Commandments and includes an all-star cast that includes Paul Rudd, Winona Ryder, Jessica Alba, Adam Brody, Liev Schreiber, Justin Theroux, Gretchen Mol, Oliver Platt and Famke Janssen. »

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Weinstein & First Look Dedicated to Theroux debut

24 January 2007 | ioncinema | See recent ioncinema news »

- The Weinstein Company came to Sundance this year and don’t mind sharing a piece of the pie – just as long as they eat with the same fork. Partnering with First Look Studios, the romantic comedy by actor and first time director Justin Theroux (David Lynch films).  Worldwide rights were bought for $4 million. Dedication concerns a misogynistic children's book writer (Crudup) who is forced to collaborate with a young female illustrator (Moore) when his writing partner and only friend dies. Farrow will play the domineering mother of Moore's character, Balaban the book's publisher. »

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23 January 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

PARK CITY -- Dressed up in hip clothes, cool music and an irreverent attitude, "Dedication" is, at heart, an old-fashioned love story charmingly told by first time director Justin Theroux. Although it sometimes strains for the quirky, film is buoyed by winning performances by Billy Crudup and Mandy Moore. This one could really catch on as a date destination for the indie crowd.

Henry Roth (Crudup) is a misanthropic children's book writer who works with his crusty illustrator friend Rudy Holt (Tom Wilkinson). Henry apparently has been battered and abused by life and Rudy, equally cantankerous, is virtually the only person he can get along with. After pitching an idea to kids book mogul Arthur Planck (Bob Balaban, in another one of his amusing deadpan executive roles), the guys have a huge success with "Marty the Beaver's Christmas Dam."

But everyday life is a tough thing for Henry to handle. Script by David Bromberg gives him an assortment of tics and eccentricities: He can't sleep next to his girlfriend (Christine Taylor), can barely sleep at all unless he is weighted-down by a stack of books. And if that wasn't enough, he's obsessive compulsive about turning a key only counter-clockwise and the arrangement of the place settings in his local greasy spoon. Oh, and he's scared stiff of riding in cars. He's like an amalgam of every neurotic Woody Allen character ever created. But the surprising thing is, Crudup is so good and so inherently likable that he makes the character appealing, even if his shtick sometimes seems contrived.

Unfortunately, when Rudy checks out with a brain tumor, Henry is left even more adrift and bereft. Planck pairs him up with a new illustrator, Lucy Riley (Mandy Moore), a grad-school dropout with her own problems whom Henry hates and, of course, abuses.

But anyone with eyes can see what's going to happen next. Coached by Rudy's ghost (dead people are always coming back to give advice in movies), he falls for her and gradually wrestles his demons to the ground as only movie characters can. The problem is, Lucy has an old boyfriend -- her smarmy ex-professor -- knocking on her door, and she's just not sure what to do.

If the storyline seems like a conventional boy-meets-girl-boy-loses-girl, it is. But Crudup and Moore, in a sweet performance of her own, make such a nice couple and have real chemistry together that you can't help but root for them. And Theroux has put the pieces together in a way that makes it seem fresh. One big asset is his excellent use of music, including the child-like plaintive wailing of a group called Deerhof. Other smart choices include songs by Cat Power and the Stokes, all expertly edited into the flow of the story.

The film is effectively shot on locations in New York and Sag Harbor by Steve Kazmierski. For all of the nervousness of the characters, Theroux keeps the camera relatively calm and employs some interesting angles. But for a film like this, it is ultimately about the characters, and these are good ones worth spending some time with.


Plum Pictures, Hart/Lunsford Pictures

Credits: Director: Justin Theroux; Writer: David Bromberg; Producers: Celine Rattray, Daniela Taplin Lundberg; Executive Producers: Galt Niederhoffer, Justin Theroux, Chip Seelig, Luke Weinstock; Director of Photography: Steve Kazmierski; Production Designer: Teresa Mastropierro; Music: Tracy McNight; Additional Music: Deehof; Costume Designer: Heidi Bivens; Editor: Andy Keir.

Cast: Henry Roth: Bill Crudup; Lucy Riley: Mandy Moore; Rudy Holt: Tom Wilkinson; Robin: Dianne Weist; Jeremy: Martin Freeman; Arthur Planck: Bob Balaban; Allison: Christine Taylor.

No MPAA rating, running time: 111 minutes


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Sundance 2007 preview: Spectrum

18 January 2007 | ioncinema | See recent ioncinema news »

- Quick Links  Complete Film Listing:  Premiere's section  Dramatic Comp  Docmentary Comp  World Dramatic Comp:  World Documentary Comp:  Park City at Midnight:  New Frontier  Short Film Programs January 18 to 28, 2007 Counting Down: updateCountdownClock('January 18, 2007'); This yearâ€.s spectrum section as a promising mix of world preems and is perhaps a stronger selection than what was offered same time last year and sadly the highlight of the section finds the last film from actor/director Adrienne Shelly. "Angel-a" (France), directed and written by Luc Besson, a fairy tale about a man who gets a new lease on life after he rescues a beautiful young woman from a suicide attempt in the Seine River. "Bugmaster" (Japan), directed by Katsuhiro Otomo and written by Sadayuki Murai, derived from an ancient legend and based on a famous Manga about an itinerant, mystical doctor who cures people from a plague caused by supernatural creatures called "Mushi. »

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