14 items from 2015
Now that the busy winter fest schedule of Sundance, Rotterdam and the Berlinale has concluded, we’ve now got our eyes on the likes of True/False and SXSW. While, True/False does not specialize in attention grabbing world premieres, it does provide a late winter haven for cream of the crop non-fiction fare from all the previously mentioned fests and a selection of overlooked genre blending films presented in a down home setting. This year will mark my first trip to the Columbia, Missouri based fest, where I hope to catch a little of everything, from their hush-hush secret screenings, to selections from their Neither/Nor series, this year featuring chimeric Polish cinema of decades past, to a spotlight of Adam Curtis’s incisive oeuvre. But truth be told, it is SXSW, with its slew of high profile world premieres being announced, such as Alex Gibney’s Steve Jobs »
- Jordan M. Smith
“See, now’s the time of the meal when you start getting the McStomach ache. You start getting the McTummy. You get the McGurgles in there. You get the McBrick, then you get the McStomach ache. Right now I’ve got some McGas that’s rockin’. My arms… I feel like I’ve got some McSweats goin’. My arms got the McTwitches going in here from all the sugar that’s going in my body right now. I’m feeling a little McCrazy!”
Super Size Me screens at Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood next Thursday, March 5th at 7pm. It is a benefit for Helping Kids Together
Super Size Me is a 2004 documentary by Morgan Spurlock who basically does an experiment to see what eating McDonald’s three times a day for 30 days can do to the body. When the film opens, he’s in excellent health. His girlfriend is a »
- Tom Stockman
Keshet Media Group's Intv Innovative TV Conference continues to add big names to its roster for the March 15-16 event in Jerusalem. Joining such executives as HBO's Richard Plepler, Sony Pictures Television's Andrea Wong, and ITV Studios' Orly Adelson are new guest speakers Morgan Spurlock, Downton Abbey's Julian Fellowes and Gareth Neame and AMC's Joel Stillerman. Topics discussed at the two-day confab will include the intersection of politics and programming and the… »
Stars: Tom Sizemore, B.J. Hendricks, Ian Hutton, Madeline Merritt, Eli Jane, Matt Mercer, Ace Marrero, Hannah Dawson, Lucy Dawson, Elina Loukas, Val Mulligan, L. Stephen Phelan | Written by James Cullen Bressack, Jd Fairman, Michael Sean Gomez | Directed by Cameron Romero
Filmmaker baggage doesn’t come much heavier than having a world famous dad in the business. As horror names go, George A. Romero is about as big as they get, being director of the iconic Night of the Living Dead, Dawn and Day of the Dead, plus underrated gems like Monkey Shines, Martin and Land of the Dead too. Son of the great man, director Cameron Romero attempts to step out of his shadow with Auteur, a found footage film-about-a-film in which an aspiring documentary maker attempts to track down an elusive, now-missing horror director.
It’s a more promising concept than Romero Jr.’s clichéd, forgettable Staunton Hill – done well, »
- Joel Harley
It's a paradox. Independent films -- the kind that are often dramas or comedies about everyday people, rather than superheroes -- have all but vanished from theaters, which now show mostly popcorn action blockbusters. And yet, many of the filmmakers who used to make those indie movies have found a home on TV, where that same character-driven sensibility makes their work a critical and commercial success.
Exhibit A is surely Lena Dunham. Her 2010 movie "Tiny Furniture" never played in more than 21 theaters or sold as much as $400,000 in tickets, but her HBO series "Girls," which has a similar directorial and thematic approach, has made her a star.
In recent years, a number of her fellow indie directors and writers have made the same transition, from the art-house to your living room, mostly via premium cable or streaming outlets Netflix and Amazon. Alongside Dunham at HBO, there's Cary Joji Fukunaga ("True Detective »
- Gary Susman
From photography to warfare, conservation to whistleblowing, this year’s five Oscar nominated documentaries are united by overlapping themes and topics of interest, but remain uniformly distinct in their approach.
Leading the quintet is Laura Poitras’ “Citizenfour,” the highest-grossing and highest-profile nominee. The verite-style portrait of Nsa whistleblower Edward Snowden gives audiences a voyeuristic peek inside Snowden’s week in Hong Kong when the information he leaked started going public, and shows the human side of a man who the media nearly turned into a myth.
The pic has cleaned up in Oscar precursors, garnering best doc wins from the Gotham and Intl. Documentary Assn. awards, the four top critics groups (New York, Los Angeles, London and National Society) and nominations from BAFTA and the Spirits. It also marks Poitras’ second Oscar nom. She was in contention in 2007 for “My Country, My Country” but lost to heavyweight “An Inconvenient Truth. »
- Geoff Berkshire
The hunt for Osama bin Laden was so significant that we’ve already had a few movies about missions to find and/or kill the al-Qaeda leader. Most famously, of course, is Zero Dark Thirty, which dramatizes the operation that resulted in bin Laden’s death. Before that was the comedic documentary Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?, in which director Morgan Spurlock jokingly travels through Africa and the Middle East in search of the wanted terrorist. Spurlock wasn’t the only “regular guy” on the hunt, though, as we’ll see soon enough in the comedy Army of One. Described as a satire, the movie will also be based on a true story of the “Rocky Mountain Rambo,” Gary Faulkner, a Denver-based construction worker who in 2010 went to Pakistan armed with a pistol, a knife and a samurai sword to take out bin Laden all by himself. Who »
- Christopher Campbell
The 21st Slamdance Film Festival has selected jury members for its documentary, narrative and shorts competitions at the festival, which runs Jan. 23-29.
Members for the micro short films competitition are Amber Benson (actress, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and writer, “The Witches of Echo Park”), Todd Berger (director, ” It’s A Disaster”), Laura Merians (cinematographer for “Björk,” “Atoms For Peace”), Kent Osborne (writer, “Adventure Time,” “Spongebob Squarepants”) and Damon Russell (producer, “Curfew” and director, “Snow On Tha Bluff”).
The fest, which takes place at the Treasure Mountain Inn in Park City, will include 13 world premieres, two North American premieres and three U. »
- Dave McNary
Lucy Spiegel, executive director for contributors and audience at CNN, is leaving the network after six years.
Senior vice president for talent and content development, Amy Entelis, informed staff in an email obtained by TheWrap.
Read Entelis’ full note below:
Lucy Spiegel, who for six years has recruited and managed all of CNN’s commentators and analysts, »
- Jordan Chariton
TV Picks: Morgan Spurlock’s hit CNN series Morgan Spurlock Inside Man is back for a third season. The compelling eight-episode season includes Spurlock’s take on Trash, Bitcoins, Modern Dating and Medical Tourism.The series, which is hosted and produced by the Oscar-nominated filmmaker, premieres on Thursday, January 22 at 9pm Et on CNN. In his trademark style, Spurlock tells compelling stories from an insider’s perspective and moves to Thursday nights in its third season on CNN, beginning January 22 at 9pm Et with an inside look at the mystery of robots and artificial intelligence.In his inimitable, inquisitive style, and with a […] »
- April Neale
The relaunch of TV Guide Network as Pop next week is an effort to tap into the ever-rising tide of pop culture fandemonium that drives so much conversation on social media.
Brad Schwartz, prexy of entertainment and media for Pop, told reporters at the Television Critics Assn. press tour on Friday that the cabler will function as a haven for the super-fan. Pop, set to bow Jan. 14, is launching with the tagline “We’re fans too.”
The focus is on viewers in their late 30s-early 40s who have nostalgia for 1980s and ’90s TV and pop culture.
“We’re building this for what we call the ‘modern grownup,’ ” Schwartz said.
There’s also an effort to capture the different facets of fandom today, from live events to the hyper-connectedness provided by social-media platforms.
“Being a fan today is an entirely different experience” than in decades past, Schwartz noted.
The relaunch »
- Elizabeth Wagmeister
The former TV Guide Network — now Pop — which is officially rebranding on Jan. 14, unveiled four new projects in development Friday at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour.
Also Read: ‘The Returned’ EPs Grapple With Ghosts of Programming During TCA Panel
Those projects include the Morgan Spurlock and John Stamos‘ docuseries “Losing It,” another show featuring Z100’s Elvis Duran, a reality series pairing celebrities and inventors, and a stage show with celebrities recounting their most embarrassing life moments.
The revamped channel also announced that “90210’s” Shenae Grimes-Beech will co-anchor and serve as an entertainment correspondent for “Popsugar Now.” Grimes-Beech »
- Tony Maglio
Lately, there has been a lot of hype about Russell Brand in the news and particularly in social media. Brand seems to be cloaking himself as a political robin-hood character who is against capitalism and corruption. According to Deadline, the South By Southwest 2015 film festival will open with the film Brand: A Second Coming. This feature-length documentary will be about the comedian’s evolution from drug addict to movie to star to political battler. The documentary will be directed by Ondi Timoner (Dig!, We Live in Public).
If you wish to hear more of Russell Brand’s controversial opinions, SXSW has announced Brand as one of 2015’s guest speakers. The panel will also include Brian Grazer and Morgan Spurlock. The panel will take place on March 13 in Austin, Texas.
Another comic actor turned independent filmmaker, James Franco, will be also be releasing an indie feature film directed by Gabrielle Demestre. »
- Tamarah Scott
South by Southwest 2015 will open with Brand: A Second Coming, a feature documentary about comedian Russell Brand directed by Ondi Timoner (Dig!, We Live In Public). The doc chronicles Brand’s evolution from addict to movie star to political disruptor and will kick off a line-up that will also include Michael Showalter’s Sally Field comedy Hello, My Name is Doris, Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation, Mavis Staples doc Mavis!, Grantland Features’ Son of the Congo about NBA star Serge Ibaka, A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story, and Alex Garland’s Ex Machina starring Oscar Isaac.
Of course, that’s not all; SXSW’s typically sprawling line-up is still being finalized and won’t be revealed until February 3, with Midnighter titles revealed alongside the shorts program on February 10.
If you’re Austin-bound, get ready for a double dose of Russell Brand. SXSW already announced that the irreverent Brit will serve as a 2015 guest speaker, »
- Jen Yamato
14 items from 2015
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