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5 items from 2016

Here’s What It’s Like to Shoot an American Movie In Cuba Today

23 June 2016 7:00 AM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

Shooting a feature film in Cuba comes with a unique set of challenges that make the usual logistical hurdles of filmmaking seem like nothing. Still, those who have had the opportunity to shoot in the socialist country say they wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. As the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba comes to an end, film production in the country is expected to ramp up.

While Hollywood studio productions like “Fast 8” and “Transformers: The Last Knight” claimed to be “making history” earlier this year by being the first American films to shoot in Havana in half a century, two American directors had already shot independent films in Cuba on the heels of the relaxed travel restrictions by the United States government: Bob Yari’s “Papa Hemingway in Cuba” and Ben Chace’s “Sin Alas” (“Without Wings”).

Read More: ‘Sin Alas’ – First American Film Shot in Cuba »

- Graham Winfrey

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Cannes Film Review: ‘Mercenary’

22 May 2016 12:46 PM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

A Wallisian rugby prop weighing in at 111 kilos, with a massive battering-ram body and eyes that glower from behind his rugged, tribal-tattooed hide, Toki Pilioko has the sort of physique Hollywood casting agents inevitably pigeonhole in one of two roles: the dark-skinned drug dealer, or else that over-muscled thug who hefts oil barrels over his head and chunks them Donkey Kong-style at a white-guy action hero. He’s “the heavy,” and for once, a movie demonstrates the insight and sensitivity to look past that tough-guy exterior and discover the conflicted character within. That movie is Sacha Wolff’s impressive feature debut, “Mercenary,” which plays with such a character’s outsider status within the context of a easily relatable sports story — the rare kind of ethnographic portrait insightful enough to work on the festival circuit, while still accessible enough to excel in a popular commercial context.

Pilioko plays Soane, a rugby player from Nouméa, »

- Peter Debruge

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DVD Review: Mississippi Grind

7 March 2016 3:04 AM, PST | CineVue | See recent CineVue news »

★★★★☆ With its loose road movie vibe and appealingly downtrodden turns from the two tremendous leads, Mississippi Grind certainly fits into the "they don't make 'em like that anymore" cinematic category. Writer/director duo Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, no strangers to thoughtful character studies (Half Nelson, Sugar), are clearly more interested in spending time on mood and performance than plot. Their film conjures fond memories (without ever coming across as an outward steal) of contemplative 1970s work like Fat City. Unlike some gambling-based movies out there, the filmmakers are unconcerned with the mechanics of the game and instead focus on what motivates the characters and the sometimes emotional ramifications of their shared addition.


- CineVue UK

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Mississippi Grind DVD Review

4 March 2016 4:15 AM, PST | The Hollywood News | See recent The Hollywood News news »

Director: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

Written By: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Ben Mandelsohn, Sienna Miller, Analeigh Tipton, Alfre Woodard

Extras: Ben Mendelsohn: The Gambler, The Groove Behind Mississippi Grind, Making Of, Ryan Reynolds: The Drifter, The Cast, Interviews With Ben Mendelsohn / Ryan Reynolds

Before the days of Deadpool’ing, Ryan Reynolds was actually a steady film actor, who woulda thought? In this DVD offering, Mississippi Grind follows the story of Gerry (Ben Mandelsohn), who seems to be down on his luck financially and physically, until he meets the ever-charismatic Curtis (Reynolds) who shows him that there can be light at the end of the tunnel. But when Curtis invites Gerry on a gambling road trip through the South, the pair’s journey of discovery becomes more of a what they want from what they’ve lost along the way.

Mississippi Grind oozes in homage, reminiscent »

- Lucy Cave

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Listen: 68-Minute Talk With 'Mississippi Grind' Directors Ryan Fleck And Anna Boden

25 January 2016 11:59 AM, PST | The Playlist | See recent The Playlist news »

The consensus at the moment seems to be that working in television is godsend for filmmakers, particularly those who can't get much traction in Hollywood. But what goes undiscussed is that the move to the small screen can be a waystation for those who still have a thirst to tell their own stories on the big screen. And it's that interesting perspective that filmmakers Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden bring in their talk on "The Moment" podcast. Read More: Review: Underwhelming 'Mississippi Grind' starring Ryan Reynolds And Ben Mendelsohn  In conversation with Brian Koppelman (the pair have worked on his show "Billions"), Fleck and Boden are candid about their disappointment that their latest film "Mississippi Grind," starring Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendelsohn, wasn't better received (you can hear how it still stings a bit in their talk). The duo also talk about jumping into television (they've directed episodes »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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