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Sundance: Fox Searchlight Closes Deal on ‘Me and Earl’
Fox Searchlight has closed to pick up “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” Variety has learned.
It’s easy to understand the studio’s enthusiasm. The dramedy about a high school student who is basically strong-armed into befriending a classmate with cancer earned a standing ovation when it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday.
In a laudatory review, Variety’s Peter Debruge wrote that the film “has the potential to outperform last year’s ‘The Fault in Our Stars.” He praised the picture for mixing in laughter and pathos.
Following a pitched fight to land festival favorite “Dope,” which resulted in Open Road walking away with the film for $7 million, the battle to nab “Me and Earl” looked like it could have been another big slug-fest.
- Brent Lang and Ramin Setoodeh
Sundance Film Review: ‘Unexpected’
Kris Swanberg makes a huge leap into the indie mainstream with her delicate and beautiful third feature, “Unexpected.” The logline could sound like a gimmick: A 30-year-old Chicago high-school teacher and one of her students both discover they’re pregnant around the same time, but Swanberg’s film remains utterly down-to-earth. Small-scale and warmhearted in the best ways, this is an accomplished piece of work deserving special consideration in the indie marketplace and the care of a distributor savvy enough to market a story made by and about women.
For something as fundamental to human existence as pregnancy, surprisingly few movies tackle the experience head-on, and those that do are often broad comedies (“Knocked Up,” “Juno”) or horror films (“Rosemary’s Baby”). That’s just one way in which “Unexpected” immediately establishes itself as something different.
Sam (Cobie Smulders) enjoys her job teaching science at an inner-city school, but the »
- Geoff Berkshire
Korea Box Office: ‘Gangnam Blues,’ ‘Big Hero 6’ Finally Topple ‘Ode’
Seoul — “Ode to My Father,” which had sat on top of the Korean box office for the past six weeks, was finally toppled. But newcomers “Gangnam Blues” and “Big Hero 6” were almost neck and neck over the Jan. 19—25 January.
“Gangnam Blues,” a local noir action movie written and directed by Yoo Ha, opened last Wednesday and beat “Ode” by drawing 150,000 admissions on the opening day. The action movie earned $7.57 million in its opening 5 days.
Arriving initially in third slot was another newcomer “Big Hero 6,” the first Disney animated feature based on a Marvel property. The Golden Globe Awards-nominated animation topped the chart on Sunday, narrowly beating “Gangnam” by scoring $5.03 million from the weekend alone. Over its five day run it managed $6.31 million, for second place behind “Gangnam,” but ahead of “ode.”
Melodrama “Ode” pushed its total past 12 million admissions Sunday and recorded a cumulative haul of $86.55 million, according to Kobis, »
- Sonia Kil
Sundance Review: Sheltered Kids Find the World Through Movies in Fascinating Doc 'The Wolfpack'
The details surrounding the peculiar circumstances of first-time director Crystal Moselle's documentary "The Wolfpack" suggest a scenario so outlandish it may as well be science fiction. Shot over the course of five years, the fascinating project captures the experiences of the Angulos, six New York teenagers and an older sister, trapped in a cramped downtown apartment for their entire lives by an overbearing father. With thousands of DVDs at their disposal, the Angulos learn everything about the outside world from cinema — including the desire for independence. But the intriguing moral questions pertaining to their situation largely remain out of the picture, deepening the mystery by implication. "The Wolfpack" explores its scenario exclusively through the voices of its subjects, and all the cryptic limitations that entails. Moselle's alternative strategy makes for a fascinating experience in which the full story lurks just outside the frame. Despite the mixture »
- Eric Kohn
Sundance Film Review: Sarah Silverman in ‘I Smile Back’
Rarely has a performer striven so concertedly to shed any trace of his/her comedy roots as Sarah Silverman does over the course of “I Smile Back,” an addiction drama in which the acerbic comedienne gives the kind of warts-and-all, let-it-all-hang-out (body parts, fluids, etc.) turn that awards’ consultants dreams are made of. But Silverman’s performance is more than an attention-getting stunt, and it’s her hellish rendering of a New Jersey housewife under the influence of drugs, alcohol and mental illness that elevates director Adam Salky’s sophomore feature above the suburban-nightmare movie-of-the-week it otherwise often resembles. Even with the buzz sure to ignite around its Sundance premiere, “Smile” will prove a tough sell commercially, where more sensitive types will blanch at the film’s Olympian gauntlet of self-abuse, reckless endangerment and public humiliation.
Playing addicts of one kind or another has been a tried-and-true recipe for funnymen »
- Scott Foundas
SAG Movies: Not Many Surprises But Hawking Vs. ‘Birdman’ Fires Up The Best Actor Oscar Race – Hammond
As far as being a good Oscar harbinger, the SAG awards have a fairly good track record. Last year for instance, they first awarded Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett, Jared Leto and Lupita Nyong’o, and then they all went on to win Oscars. However, American Hustle took the Outstanding Cast award, but was shut out by the Academy. Cut to tonight where Birdman took the Cast award. The continuing coronation of Julianne Moore in lead actress for Still Alice, J.K. Simmons in Supporting Actor for Whiplash and Patricia Arquette in Supporting Actress for Boyhood were locks at the Golden Globes, the Critics Choice Movie Awards and now SAG. They remain locks at the Oscars in the same corresponding categories, although Arquette’s handlers might hope CBS would lay off the heavy CSI: Cyber (in which she stars) promos until after voting closes on February 17th. The only roadblock could be at BAFTA on February 8th. »
- Pete Hammond
SAG unveils 2015 winners
The cast of Birdman earned the outstanding ensemble prize.
Carrie Fisher presented her mother Debbie Reynolds with the Guild’s highest honour, the 51st Annual Life Achievement Award, following a filmed salute. Liev Schreiber introduced a filmed “In Memoriam” tribute to the members who died in the past year.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeremy Kay)
Rotterdam Film Review: ‘Bridgend’
An unimaginable reality is brought to the brink of clarity — only to plunge right back into a psychological abyss — in Danish helmer Jeppe Ronde’s potent, pain-ridden “Bridgend.” A big-screen dramatization of the much-scrutinized teen suicide epidemic that has plagued the eponymous Welsh town since 2007, Ronde’s first foray into narrative filmmaking isn’t the probing, verite-style anatomy of a tragedy one might expect from the acclaimed docmaker; rather, it’s a subjectively sensory interpretation of events, adopting the perspective of a well-adjusted new girl in town (an excellent Hannah Murray) who finds herself inexorably enveloped by the communal depression of her peers. This almost oppressively well-crafted pic will divide opinion as its final act slides into elliptical fever-dream territory, but fests and distributors predisposed to thorny talking-point cinema should investigate.
At least 79 suicides have been been recorded in Bridgend county since February 2007, with the victims in most cases falling »
- Guy Lodge
The Biggest Surprises of the 2015 SAG Award Winners
The SAG Awards weren't exactly the most exciting televised awards ceremony tonight, but there were a few moments that made them relatively more surprising than usual: Eddie Redmayne beats Michael Keaton. Really, this was the only suspenseful acting race on the film awards side of things. If someone had beat Julianne Moore, J.K. Simmons or Patricia Arquette, it would have been a full-on shocker. But Best Actor was a genuine question mark, with Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne and Michael Keaton (the latter the arguable frontrunner( in a sincere three way race. But Redmayne won out in the end, giving a lovely speech and suggestively making him the new Oscar frontrunner over Keaton. Unless, of course, SAG snubbed Bradley Cooper rides the insane "American Sniper" success story to a rare non-sag nominated Oscar win. But then "Birdman" beats "Boyhood."Michael Keaton's loss for "Birdman" seemed to suggest that "Boyhood" might be. »
- Peter Knegt
Sundance: ‘Diary of a Teenage Girl’ Acquired by Sony Pictures Classics
Sony Pictures Classics has nabbed North American rights to “Diary of a Teenage Girl,” along with other worldwide rights.
The adaptation of Phoebe Gloeckner’s coming-of-age novel centers on a troubled teenager (Bel Powley) who loses her virginity to her mother’s boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgard). Kristen Wiig co-stars in the picture, which debuted this Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival. It has an interesting 1970s vibe.
In a Variety review, Dennis Harvey said the film is “ideally cast and skillfully handled.” It marks Marielle Heller’s directing debut.
UTA brokered the deal on behalf of the filmmakers.
- Brent Lang
2015 PGA and SAG Winners Announced; ‘Birdman’ Takes Top Prizes
If the PGA and SAG Awards are any indication, Birdman will be the one to beat in this year’s competitive Best Picture category at the Oscars. The dark comedy took top prize at both ceremonies. However, it was far from a clean sweep. Although Birdman won Best Ensemble at SAG (the guild’s closest equivalent to […]
The post 2015 PGA and SAG Winners Announced; ‘Birdman’ Takes Top Prizes appeared first on /Film. »
- Angie Han
SAG Awards 2015: The Biggest Snubs and Surprises
The SAG Awards are often seen as a good indicator of who will win the Oscars — actors make up the biggest part of the Academy voting body — but the biggest surprises at the ceremony were in the TV categories, including Netflix cleaning up and “Modern Family” finally getting snubbed. Still, Eddie Redmayne, along with “Birdman,” made for some surprises in the film races.
See below the 8 biggest snubs and surprises from the film and TV categories at the 2015 Golden Globes.
Going into the SAG Awards, lead actor was considered a showdown between Michael Keaton for “Birdman” and Eddie Redmayne for “The Theory of Everything.” Most were giving the edge to Keaton, a beloved veteran who showed a sense of humor playing a former superhero attempting a comeback. But in the end, it was Redmayne’s transformative performance as Stephen Hawking that took home the top prize. »
- Debra Birnbaum and Jenelle Riley
She.s Funny That Way Trailer: Jennifer Aniston's New Movie Looks Really, Really Bad
When a lot of talented people decide to come together on a project, the first instinctual thought is: it must be good! Why would they all sign on if they didn't each see something in the film? Unfortunately, that idea doesn't always come to its logical conclusion, and there are many titles out there that are far from being the sum of their parts. From the looks of its first trailer, Peter Bogdanovich's She's Funny That Way appears to be one of these titles. It's entirely plausible that this is just a really terrible trailer for what winds up being a passable movie, but it's honestly hard to feel anything positive towards this film. Peter Bogdanovich is a terrific filmmaker, and there is obviously some ensemble work going on here - Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Imogen Poots, Rhys Ifans, Will Forte, Kathryn Hahn, and Michael Shannon just to name »
Analysis: SAG Awards Seal Frontrunner Status for Several Film Nominees
It was a great weekend for Fox Searchlight’s “Birdman,” which won the best ensemble award at the SAG Awards mere hours after winning the top prize at the PGA Awards.
The SAG Awards are considered the best indicator of who will win Oscar gold; actors make up the largest part of the Academy voting body. Last year, all four actors who won SAG Awards went on to receive Oscars.
While best ensemble does not correlate strongly to best picture (in recent years, “12 Years a Slave,” “The Artist,” “Million Dollar Baby,” “The Departed” and “The Hurt Locker” all failed to win SAG ensemble), it can indicate strong support for a movie. In the past, films like “The King’s Speech” and “Argo” bested starrier casts to win the ensemble prize, which solidified their frontrunner status. With wins from PGA and SAG, “Birdman” appears to have leapt over “Boyhood” to take »
- Jenelle Riley
Sundance Review: Alex Gibney's 'Going Clear' is a Shocking Overview of Scientology's Demented Leadership
From "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" to the Catholic church exposé "Mea Maxima Culpa," Alex Gibney's documentaries often adopt a straightforward approach to exposing institutional dysfunction. "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief" falls into that tradition. The director's bracing adaptation of Lawrence Wright's 2013 book on the religion's bizarre history is fairly routine in terms of its allegations. But with such outlandish material, that's more than enough. Read More: Alex Gibney Premieres His Scathing Exposé on the Church of Scientology By now, there's nothing entirely fresh about the story of L. Run Hubbard's construction of a cult based around far-fetched science fiction conceits and the devious antics that ensued from it — many of which were perpetrated by Hubbard's tyrannical predecessor, the elusive David Miscavige. Nevertheless, taking cues from gripping testimonies provided by several high profile former »
- Eric Kohn
Review: 'Downton Abbey' Season 5 Episode 4 Is Full of Costume Porn and Proposals
Previously: Review: 'Downton Abbey' Season 5, Episode 3, Digs Into 'Russki Business' Upstairs Nothing happened that we haven't been expecting: Lord Merton's proposal, Mary telling Gillingham she doesn't want to marry him, Edith mopes, Cora walks the line between flirting and merely allowing herself to be flirted with, and Robert gets increasingly annoyed with the servants, Bricker, Cora and basically everyone. Rosamund is taking Mary to a dress show -- think 1920s costume porn and you're about right. Edith's crestfallen expression when Mary tells her says it all -- the illegal abortionist was probably the most exciting place Rosamund has ever taken her. Of course, this is all just a clever plot device to land Mary face to face with Charles Blake and his new girlfriend Mabel Lane Fox -- who also happens to be the fiancée which Tony ‘dirty weekend in Liverpool' Gillingham dumped for Mary. Mlf -- oh, »
- Kaite Welsh
Sundance: Alex Gibney Premieres His Scathing Exposé on the Church of Scientology
Alex Gibney returned to Sundance this afternoon with his latest powder keg of a documentary, "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief." Like the book on which it's based by Lawrence Wright, it offered up shocking claims about the Church of Scientology that are sure to rock the public when HBO Documentary Films releases the film later this year. The extensive and scathing exposé digs into the history of founder L. Ron Hubbard, the real reason behind the breakup of Scientology member Tom Cruise and his now ex-wife Nicole Kidman, what goes on behind the closed doors of its Los Angeles Church and much more over the course of its two-hour running time. Gibney was joined onstage following the screening by Wright, some of the filmmaking team and a number of former Scientology members who were profiled in the film, all of whom received a warm standing ovation."The »
- Nigel M Smith
Review: 'Girls' Season 4 Episode 3, 'Female Author': Standing Up for Ourselves
Previously: 'Girls' Season 4 Episode 2, 'Triggering': Welcome to Iowa Love her or hate her Let's call it tough love. After spending 2.5 episodes whining about her current situation, Hannah finally embraced her own personality and status by owning up to who she is (with a little help from Elijah). Turns out standing up for yourself was a theme for the episode, with Marnie finally telling Desi like it is, Adam putting Jessa in her place and Shoshanna breaking out the honesty in an awkward job interview. Another cringe-worthy moment Just when we finally thought that Hannah was going to get some respect following an Olivia Pope-esque speech, the writing group decided they were having none of it. An awkward silence and a bum crack-baring, couch-diving move later, Hannah was deemed the group's new Lindsay Lohan. Whether she gains any respect with those people remains to be seen, but now that »
- Amber Dowling
‘Cop Car’ Is a Wild Blend of Amblin Innocence and Coen Brothers Violence [Sundance 2015]
Cop Car has the brutal elegance of old-school crime fiction. Two young kids find a seemingly abandoned sheriff’s cruiser in a stand of trees. One thing leads to another, and soon they’re off on a joyride through the countryside. But the sheriff wants his car back, and there’s another wild card factor, too, which draws […]
The post ‘Cop Car’ Is a Wild Blend of Amblin Innocence and Coen Brothers Violence [Sundance 2015] appeared first on /Film. »
- Russ Fischer
Sundance: Alex Gibney’s ‘Going Clear’ Takes on Scientology
Filmmaker Alex Gibney took the stage Sunday flanked by former Scientologists and journalist Lawrence Wright after “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” debuted to a standing ovation at the Sundance Film Festival.
The documentary is a broadside against the controversial religion. It argues that Scientology exploits its tax exempt status to amass millions of dollars in property and donations, behaving more like a business than a charity.
It also claims that the church mistreats its members, in some cases physically abusing them, and threatens and harasses those who leave the faith. Scientology’s reputation as a litigious organization has dissuaded former members from speaking publicly about their harassment and has prevented media from shining a light on its practices.
“The kind of threats that I’ve received as a reporter and Alex has subsequently received as a filmmaker have been predominantly legal, and they have been manifold, but »
- Brent Lang
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