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Film Review: ‘The Loft’

55 minutes ago | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

After being bumped from previous release dates and passed off from one distributor (Universal) to another (Open Road), Erik Van Looy’s “The Loft” finally opened on North American screens Jan. 30, just in time to be mostly ignored by its presumptive target demographic — i.e., young male moviegoers — during Super Bowl weekend. Even so, this outrageously over-plotted, borderline-campy erotic thriller might attract a slightly larger audience in ancillary platforms, if only because the unwary might misinterpret a synopsis of its plot — five buddies find an inconvenient corpse in the condo they use for their adulterous assignations — as a promise of fantasy fulfillment and dark comedy.

As it turns out, however, “The Loft” is not intentionally funny at all. Rather, it is a feverishly melodramatic mashup of “The Apartment” – try to imagine what might have happened had Jack Lemmon not foiled Shirley MacLaine’s suicide attempt – and “Murder on the Orient Express, »


- Joe Leydon

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Sundance Film Review: ‘3 1/2 Minutes’

1 hour ago | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

“3 1/2 Minutes” rivetingly chronicles the murder trial of Michael Dunn, who fired gunshots into a car of four black teenagers in Jacksonville, Fla., killing one, during an altercation over their playing rap music loudly. The tragedy struck many as another encapsulation of double standards in the American popular consciousness (not to mention the police and justice systems), wherein African-Americans are automatically considered more “threatening” and their deaths more justified regardless of their actions (or lack of weaponry). Marc Silver’s docu wisely lets that complex issue play out in the viewer’s mind without debating it onscreen; this vivid case, in which cameras had full courtroom access, requires no outside commentary for its larger social relevance to be glaringly clear. The Sundance prizewinner is a natural for appropriate broadcast slots, with modest theatrical exposure also possible.

The day after Thanksgiving in 2012, four middle-class high schoolers stopped at a convenience store — in a “safe” neighborhood, »


- Dennis Harvey

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Sundance Film Review: ‘The Russian Woodpecker’

2 hours ago | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

A well-deserved Sundance grand jury prizewinner in the World Cinema documentary category, “The Russian Woodpecker” is a complex film about Chernobyl that is also surprisingly, richly enjoyable. Chad Gracia’s first feature juggles Ukrainian/Russian/Soviet history, a portrait of an eccentric artist, political current-events reportage, and a shocking yet increasingly plausible conspiracy about the catastrophic 1986 nuclear-reactor meltdown. The result should break into niche theatrical distribution in numerous territories, with broadcast and rental pickups likely to be plentiful as well.

There will surely never be a documentary about nuclear disaster with a protagonist more endearing than Fedor Alexandrovich, a shaggy young multimedia artist descended from generations of Ukrainian creatives. With his simultaneous wide-eyed fervor and distracted air, not to mention an ever-mutating mound of wild hair, he seems like Dostoyevsky’s holy-fool “Idiot” come to contemporary life — and as frequently onscreen colleague Artem Ryzhykov (also the film’s cinematographer) points out, »


- Dennis Harvey

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Shear magic: Shaun the Sheep’s woolly rivals

2 hours ago | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

As Aardman Animations’ Shaun prepares for his own film, we round up the flock of ovine stars who have made their mark in the human world

Since his cameo role in Wallace & Gromit’s A Close Shave two decades ago, Aardman Animations’ plucky plasticine hero Shaun the Sheep has become a genuine fleecy phenomenon. His Cbbc series has been exported worldwide and a film spin-off gambols friskily on to cinema screens this Friday (tagline: “Catch them if ewe can”). To mark the ovine occasion, we round up and rate the star’s famous fleecy rivals…

Continue reading »

- Michael Hogan

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‘Imitation Game’ Wins at USC Scripter Awards

2 hours ago | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

The Imitation Game” scripter Graham Moore and author Andrew Hodges won the USC Libraries Scripter Award, the only honor that salutes writers of both the screenplay and the source material.

Accepting the award, Moore thanked Hodges, who wrote the book “Alan Turing: The Enigma” but was at Oxford, and unable to attend. He also paid honor to his fellow filmmakers, with a special tribute to Alan Turing.

The evening, an annual fundraiser for the Cinematic Arts Library, offers only one competitive category. The winner is not much of an Oscar bellwether, since it has rarely matched the Academy winners for adapted script and/or best film since the awards began in 1988. But that’s not their goal. Instead, the main purpose of the evening is to spotlight writers.

It may be the only event during awards season when one can hear a guest exclaim with genuine enthusiasm, “Wow, the gift bag is full of books! »


- Tim Gray

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Sundance Awards 2015 Go to ‘The Witch,’ ‘Slow West,’ ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’

4 hours ago | Slash Film | See recent Slash Film news »

Sundance doled out its awards tonight, with a batch of feature film Jury, Audience and other special awards going out to films that played the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Many of our favorite films of the fest — Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, The Witch, The Wolfpack, Dope, and Slow West — took awards, including […]

The post Sundance Awards 2015 Go to ‘The Witch,’ ‘Slow West,’ ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’ appeared first on /Film. »


- Russ Fischer

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Adg Awards Live Blog

4 hours ago | Deadline New York | See recent Deadline New York news »

The Art Directors Guild’s 19th Annual Excellence in Production Design Awards is now in the history books with Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Guardians Of The Galaxy winning the top film prizes.  HBO’s Game Of Thrones, True Detective, and Silicon Valley, and FX’s American Horror Story: Freak Show cleaned up on the TV side. Here’s how it all went down.

 

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- Ross A. Lincoln and Denise Petski

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'How to Train Your Dragon 2' Grabs 6 Annie Awards

4 hours ago | Thompson on Hollywood | See recent Thompson on Hollywood news »

"How to Train Your Dragon 2" followed up its Golden Globe win with Asifa Hollywood's top prize at the 42nd annual Annie Awards Saturday night at UCLA's Royce Hall. The Oscar-contender from the beleaguered DreamWorks Animation won six Annies (also for director Dean DeBlois, character animation, editing, storyboarding and music by John Powell and Jonsi). What this means exactly for the Oscar race is still unclear because the BAFTA winner has historically gone on to win the Oscar for best animated feature and "Dragon 2" isn't even nominated. So unless "The Lego Movie" plays spoiler again, helping "Dragon 2," a win for either "Big Hero 6" or "The Boxtrolls" would shift momentum once again. DeBlois explained the personal importance of "Dragon 2" to me backstage: "This film is personal to me in the sense that I was 19 when my father passed away as well, so what Hiccup goes through in »


- Bill Desowitz

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‘How to Train Your Dragon 2′ Wins Annie Award for Animated Feature

4 hours ago | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

It’s the Year of the dragon, as DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon 2″ took home the top prize at the  at the 42nd annual Annie Awards honoring the best in film and TV/broadcast animation for 2014. “Dragon” helmer Dean DeBlois nabbed directing honors at Saturday’s kudos, presented by Asifa-Hollywood at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus.

How to Train Your Dragon 2″ also picked up awards for feature character design (Fabio Lignini), storyboarding (Truong “Tron” Son Mai) and music (John Power, Jonsi).

While Dwa has bragging rights for the best animated feature, Disney came away with the most awards, nine for Disney Television Animation alone and 11 overall. Disney Television Animation’s “Gravity Falls” picked up the nod for television/broadcast production for a children’s audience. “Disney Mickey Mouse” picked up the most individual Annies including directing in a TV/broadcast production (Aaron Springer), writing »


- Terry Flores

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Watch: Sundance Doc Winner Crystal Moselle Directs Urban Ballet in “Shapeshifting”

5 hours ago | Filmmaker Magazine - Blog | See recent Filmmaker Magazine news »

Just a few months before she won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize for her documentary, The Wolf Pack, Crystal Moselle gained attention for this hypnotic video for the band Color War. Three teenage dancers (Cassiel Eatock, Isabel Ball and Elizabeth Van Genderen) turn the parks, streets and underground parking garages of New York into their own ballet stage while Moselle’s camera lurks behind. Check it out above. »

- Scott Macaulay

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‘Me And Earl And The Dying Girl’ Takes Top Dramatic Honors At Sundance; Is It The Next ‘Whiplash’? – Winners List

6 hours ago | Deadline New York | See recent Deadline New York news »

Updated with details and quotes: The Sundance Film Festival awards ceremony tonight in Park City saw a dramatic dual decision and strong political voices to put a cap on a hot-deals festival. Like last year, when Whiplash took both the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award on its way to an Best Picture Oscar nomination, the much-sought Me And Earl And The Dying Girl took both this year.

“I want to dedicate this to all the young filmmakers in my hometown of Laredo, Texas,” said director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon onstage. Fox Searchlight and Indian Paintbrush teamed to land the pic earlier this week after frenzied bidding, with a 2015 release planned. The Jesse Andrews script follows Greg, who is coasting through senior year of high school as anonymously as possible, avoiding social interactions like the plague while secretly making spirited, bizarre films with Earl, his only friend. But »


- Dominic Patten and Patrick Hipes

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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, The Wolf Pack Top 2015 Sundance Film Festival Awards

6 hours ago | Filmmaker Magazine - Blog | See recent Filmmaker Magazine news »

In a ceremony tonight hosted by Tig Notaro and filled with special jury awards, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and The Wolf Pack took home the two top prizes — the Dramatic and Documentary U.S. Grand Jury Prizes. The former is an Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s adaptation of Jesse Andrews’ young adult novel, a film that picked up steam throughout the festival as word spread about its fusion of slacker comedy and heartfelt emotion. Fox Searchlight won a bidding war for the film. The Wolf Pack is Crystal Moselle’s bizarre and troubling documentary about six kids who find escape through […] »

- Scott Macaulay

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2015 Sundance Awards: ‘Me & Earl & The Dying Girl’ Wins Best Drama, Best Doc Goes To ‘The Wolfpack’

6 hours ago | The Playlist | See recent The Playlist news »

Well, that's a wrap: the 2015 Sundance Awards were given out tonight and highlights included festival favorite “Me & Earl & The Dying Girl” winning Best Drama, perhaps not the biggest surprise in the world. That charming indie has been picked up by Fox Searchlight and you’re likely going to be hearing about it all year (our review). The coming of age dramedy also won the Audience Award which tells you something about its universal appeal. Another film receiving mostly rave reviews, "The Witch" took Best directing prize (our review) “The Wolfpack” won best documentary (our review), the magical realist Western "Slow West" starring Michael Fassbender took the World Cinema Dramatic prize (our review) and festival faves like “The Diary Of A Teenage Girl” (our review) and “Dope” (our review) were also given some due. We’ve got reviews and related content for about 85% of these films and so all our 2015 Sundance Film Festival coverage is here. »

- The Playlist

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‘Birdman’ Dominates Australian Academy’s Aacta International Awards

7 hours ago | Deadline New York | See recent Deadline New York news »

Birdman landed four wins including Best Film tonight at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts’ fourth annual Aacta International Awards for film in Los Angeles. Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu’s film, which went in with a leading seven nominations, also won Best Direction, Screenplay and Lead Actor, for Michael Keaton. Still Alice‘s Julianne Moore was named Best Actress.

The ceremony was part of the G’Day USA Gala at the Hollywood Palladium, which also honored Thor star and Melbourne native Chris Hemsworth. Earlier this week, Aacta held its prize ceremony for Australian films in Sydney, crowning Russell Crowe’s The Water Diviner and Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook joint Best Film winners.

Here is a full list of Aacta International Awards winners:

Best Film

Birdman

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher, James W. Skotchdopole

Best Direction

Birdman

Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Best Screenplay

Birdman

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr, »


- Nancy Tartaglione

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2015 Sundance Awards Live-Blog: 'The Witch' Takes Directing Award, 'Me and Earl' Wins Audience

7 hours ago | Thompson on Hollywood | See recent Thompson on Hollywood news »

Funny woman Tig Notaro has brought her droll comic stylings to Sundance to host the festival's 2015 awards, which are now underway. Stay tuned, and follow me on Twitter @ryanlattanzio, for updates. Us Dramatic juror Cary Fukunaga handed the Us Dramatic Directing Award to Robert Eggers, definitely nervous, for his detail-obsessed, masterful horror pic "The Witch." "The thing about this film was how collaborative it was... all of the producers and investors really supported what this film needed in order to make it as good as it needed to be, and I'm so honored." "Cartel Land"'s Matthew Heineman picked up the Us Documentary Directing Award, dedicating the prize to victims of "the senseless violence that has perpetuated in the drug wars in Mexico." The first-ever U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Excellence in Editing went to "Dope," the sprawling, drug-addled teen comedy snapped up by Open Road and Sony early in the. »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Sundance: ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’ Wins Grand Jury, Audience Awards

7 hours ago | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s visually inventive comedy-drama about the friendship between a misfit teenager and a classmate diagnosed with leukemia, received both the grand jury prize and the audience award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on Saturday night. Part cancer-themed tearjerker and part tribute to obsessive movie love, “Me and Earl” was acquired by Fox Searchlight earlier this week in one of the festival’s biggest deals.

This marks the third year in a row that one movie has taken both top prizes at Sundance, following the lead of “Fruitvale Station” in 2013 and “Whiplash” last year. “Me and Earl’s” victory was even more noteworthy given what many considered one of the stronger U.S. dramatic competitions in recent memory, with strong critical and audience buzz for “Dope,” “The Witch” and “The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” all of which also received prizes.

In »


- Justin Chang

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Sundance: Broad Green Picks Up Robert Redford’s ‘Walk in the Woods’

8 hours ago | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Gabriel and Daniel Hammond’s fledgling distributor Broad Green has outbid the competition to pick up U.S. rights to Robert Redford starrer “A Walk in the Wood.”

The massive high-seven-figure deal is reportedly the second biggest P&A commitment at the fest, behind Dope’s $18 million deal.

The dramedy, which premiered on January 23, was directed by Ken Kwapis and also stars Nick Nolte, Nick Offerman, Emma Thompson, Mary Steenburgen and Kristen Schaal.

The adventure pic, based on Bill Bryson’s 1998 bestselling memoir of the same name, follows an aging travel writer (Redford) as he sets out to hike the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail with his old pal (Nolte), starting from the state of Georgia in the south.

Scripted by Rick Kerb and Bill Holderman, the film has been in the works for more than a decade. Redford first acquired the movie rights in 2005, and Paul Newman was initially supposed to star alongside him. »


- Maane Khatchatourian

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The Winners of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival

8 hours ago | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's crowdpleaser "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" repeated last year's "Whiplash" coup by winning both the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Dramatic Prize and U.S. Dramatic Audience Award at this year's Sundance Film Festival. "The Wolfpack," from first-time director Crystal Moselle, won the U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize. Kyle Patrick Alvarez's "The Stanford Prison Experiment" and Matthew Heineman's "Cartel Land" matched "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" with two wins each. "Stanford" picked up the Waldo Scott Screenwriting Award and Alfred P. Sloan Prize, while U.S. Documentary contender "Cartel Land" won Best Director and Excellence in Cinematography. Below is the full list of winners: Read More: 2015 Sundance Film Festival Awards (Live-Blog and Live-Stream) U.S. Grand Jury Prize, Dramatic: "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl," Director: Alfonso »


- Nigel M Smith

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‘American Sniper’s Oscar-Nominated Writer Answers Controversies — Michelle Obama Praises Film

9 hours ago | Deadline New York | See recent Deadline New York news »

Lots of talk today about the controversy behind American Sniper during a screenwriters panel featuring seven Oscar nominees at the 30th Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The key points in that regard were powerfully made by Sniper’s Academy Award and WGA-nominated writer, Jason Hall who succinctly described his film as the story of Chris Kyle, veteran of four tours of duty in Iraq as a soldier who was “back home, but not back”.  He added that Kyle suffered from Post Traumatic Stress after finding himself in a war where he reportedly did over 160 kills, the largest number in U.S. military history.

I have long described Hall’s script and director Clint Eastwood’s film  as less a war movie  and more, the story of a warrior who finds himself balancing love for family with love for country.  No less than Jane Fonda tweeted praise after seeing the film »


- Pete Hammond

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Film Review: ‘The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water’

9 hours ago | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

As far as nautical nonsense goes, it’s hard to top the climax of 2004’s “The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie,” in which the fate of our heroes hinged on the density of David Hasselhoff’s leg hair. This year’s follow-up, “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water,” may not quite equal those heights, but by doubling down on the Nickelodeon series’ inherent surreality, it proves just as memorable. Alternately inspired, exhausting, clever, stupid (not to mention stupid-clever), and about as meta as any kidpic this side of “Duck Amuck,” the Paul Tibbitt-directed feature ought to prove equally popular among the franchise’s key grade-schooler and head-shop-owner demographics.

Though the film’s marketing materials make the most of its characters’ expansion into three-dimensional CG, most of the first two acts take the more familiar form of Stephen Hillenburg’s TV toon, interspersed with live-action narration from an irritable pirate (voiced »


- Andrew Barker

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