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Review: Is the Heady Johnny Depp Tech Thriller 'Transcendence' Ahead of Its Time?

1 hour ago

The internet is gone and so goes civilization in the opening minutes of "Transcendence," the directorial debut of accomplished cinematographer Wally Pfiser, a heady science fiction effort that smartly explores mankind’s vulnerabilities in the information age. That’s a helluva way to start a story, and unsurprisingly, nothing that comes next can compete. A polished, serious-minded alternative to the action-packed momentum of most contemporary blockbusters, “Transcendance” offers a keen look at the dangers of relying too heavily on computers for interacting with society. But Pfiser struggles to make Jack Paglen’s moody screenplay as engaging as the ideas provoked by its premise. Yet while never as dynamically involving as Christopher Nolan's "Inception," for which longtime Nolan director of photography Pfiser justifiably won an Oscar,  "Transcendence" still grapples with provocative existential concepts in similarly thoughtful terms. Despite its inherently silly premise — a »


- Eric Kohn

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5 Daily Tech Stories That Filmmakers Must Read: Drones, Tribeca Film Festival, and Hulu

8 hours ago

Google joins the drones game, critics give their Tribeca Film Festival recommendations, Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel" breaks records, Hulu renews Criterion Collection contract, and Indiewire and Apple announce "Meet the Filmmakers Tribeca Talks Series." Read on for details and links to source articles. 1. Google Joins the Drones Game: Google has purchased the solar-power drone manufacturer Titan Aerospace for an undisclosed sum. The ubiquitous media conglomerate is following in the footsteps of Amazon, which inspired endless thought pieces last year with its delivery drone ambitions. Facebook, too, which had been in talks for purchasing Titan, just recently bought Ascenta, a similar drone producer, for $20 million. For Google, this potentially means faster mapping updates and extending its reach even further throughout the world. The Wall Street Journal broke the news last night. To make light of the situation, The New Yorker's Andy Borowitz today »


- Melina Gills

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Richard Linklater's Much-Loved 'Boyhood' Will Open BAMcinemaFest

9 hours ago

The New York premiere of Richard Linklater's acclaimed new film "Boyhood" will open the 2014 BAMcinemaFest. The Festival, which celebrates the best of American independent cinema, will take place June 18th - June 29th.  "Boyhood" has been 12 years in the making, spanning the real lives of its actors, and has already received very favorable reviews and awards during its film festival circuit run. Indiewire's own Eric Kohn gave the film a glowing review, rewarding it an "A" and writing, "Epic in scope yet unassuming throughout, Linklater's incredibly involving chronicle marks an unprecedented achievement in fictional storytelling." The Playlist talked to Linklater about the making of the film in this interview. Shot between 2002 and 2013, the film is another example of Linklater's unique mixture of experimentation and classical narrative, with elements of realism -- long takes, improvisation, and location shooting -- melding with his signature dreamlike, poetic style. It takes »


- Melina Gills

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Watch: Gruesome Trailer for Wgn America's 'Salem' Posits Witches are Real (and Violent)

10 hours ago

Let me first say this: do not watch the two-minute trailer for "Salem" while trying to enjoy a meal. The full spot for Wgn America's first scripted series "Salem" is violent, dark, and more than a bit scary, painting a vivid picture for Sunday's premiere episode. Set in Salem, Massachusetts in the late 1600s, the premise of "Salem" rests on the belief that witches are, in fact, real. The infamous real-life trials so well depicted in most versions of the "The Crucible," including the 1996 film starring Daniel Day-Lewis, seem more than necessary rather than depressingly false when witches are jumping off ceilings and pulling teeth from their mouths.  "Salem" stars Janet Montgomery ("Human Target"), Shane West ("Nikita," "ER"), and Seth Gabel ("Fringe") and revolves around a romance somehow linked to the revelation that witches are real, just not who you think. The trailer starts out simple enough before heaping on the horror. »


- Ben Travers

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Guillermo del Toro's 'The Strain' World Premiere to Close Out the Atx Television Festival

11 hours ago

Austin is quickly becoming the place to be for television premieres.  While most of us will have to wait until July to see Guillermo del Toro's new television series "The Strain," Austinites will be treated to the world premiere pilot episode at the Atx Television Festival's closing night presentation. Sponsored by FX Networks, the eighth episode of "Fargo" will also debut June 7th to help closeout the festival.  Directed and written by del Toro, the pilot of "The Strain" will set up a 13-episode first season of the drama series based on the trilogy of vampire novels written by Chuck Hogan and del Toro. Hogan and del Toro executive produced along with Carlton Cuse ("Lost," "Bates Motel"), who's also the series' showrunner and will be attending the premiere at Atx. Stars Sean Astin, Mia Maestro, and Kevin Durand will also be attendance. "Fargo" creator Noah Hawley will attend with »


- Ben Travers

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Why the Crazy, Bloody Erotic Thriller 'Proxy' Will Surprise You At Every Turn

11 hours ago

In "Proxy," a young pregnant woman named Esther (Alexia Rasmussem) leaves the clinic and gets knocked unconscious by an unseen assailant who pounds a brick against her victim’s abdomen; when Esther opens her eyes again, she’s in the hospital, bearing witness to her stillborn child being torn from gaping abdomen. The ensuing two hours include further child death, shootings, drownings, tattooed lesbian criminals and perverted fantasies. Director Zack Parker, working from Kevin Donner’s screenplay, never hesitates to sacrifice his characters’ happiness for a relentless grab bag of grotesque surprises. Increasingly silly even as it maintains a grave tone, "Proxy" doesn't always work, but its commitment to unpredictable twists and pushing beyond morbid extremes bears the stamp of showmanship sorely lacking from many other examples of the genre. Rasmussem's petite, sullen look gives the impression of a broken young woman with nowhere to turn, but her apparent fragility represents the first. »


- Eric Kohn

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Watch: Jenny Slate Shines in Winning Trailer for Sundance Hit 'Obvious Child'

12 hours ago

If you aren't already familiar with Jenny Slate from her stint on "Saturday Night Live," you probably know her as the voice behind the title character in "Marcel the Shell with Shoes On," the stop-motion short she made with her husband Dean Fleischer-Camp that became a viral smash and screened at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. She also appeared on TV in "Parks and Recreation" and "Girls." In Gillian Robespierre's hit Sundance comedy "Obvious Child," Slate proves she can carry a project solo. Playing a Brooklyn comedian who refuses to grow up (think "Frances Ha" with bigger laughs), Slate shines in the A24 comedy that opens in select theaters on June 6. We have the first trailer. Here's the official synopsis: For aspiring comedian Donna Stern, everyday life as a female twenty-something provides ample material for her incredibly relatable brand of humor. On stage, Donna is unapologetically herself, joking about topics »


- Nigel M Smith

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Bob Newhart Breaks Down How to Transition from Standup Comic to Sitcom Star

13 hours ago

When PBS's "Pioneers of Television" returns for its fourth round of retrospectives of various classic TV genres and the casts and creative teams behind some of the most famous and influential programs of all time, the first new installment -- airing tonight at 8pm -- will delve into the various stand-up comedians who successfully made the jump from telling jokes onstage into full-fledged sitcom stardom.  There's a long list of folks included in this particular category, but there's no question that Bob Newhart is one of the most successful, having had sitcom success in the '70s ("The Bob Newhart Show"), the '80s ("Newhart"), the '90s ("Bob and George & Leo") and, only last year, earning his first-ever Emmy Award for his guest appearance on "The Big Bang Theory." We caught up with Bob when he stopped by the Television Critics Association press tour in January in conjunction with »


- Will Harris

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Meet the 2014 Tribeca Filmmakers #35: Ivan Kavanagh On Putting His Own Fears Into 'The Canal'

13 hours ago

Irish-born Ivan Kavanagh has been directing films and shorts for the last ten years, beginning with his festival-success "Bandage-Man" in 2003. A lover of horror, he told Indiwire a bit about himself and a lot about what he calls "the unfairly dismissed and neglected genre."  Tell us about yourself: I’m from Dublin. I grew up in a household where films were always on. My father is a movie-buff and particularly loved classic Hollywood films and genre films, while my uncle loved foreign cinema, so I was exposed to mixture of films like Cries and Whispers (Bergman) and The Haunting (Wise), at quite an early age, and so I grew up loving both genre films and art house films equally and I think my work reflects this. I started making films in my late teens, using back-to-back Vcr’s to edit and I knew from the moment I saw the very first cut I made, »


- Indiewire

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Meet the 2014 Tribeca Filmmakers #34: Jesse Zwick Is Not Sure How He Got Away With Making 'About Alex,' Starring Aubrey Plaza

13 hours ago

Who doesn't want to see more of Max Greenfield, Maggie Grace, and Aubrey Plaza? They all star in Jesse Zwick's directorial debut "About Alex," a comedy about seven college friends who reunite when one of their cadre suffers an emotional breakdown. This film has been a two-year journey for Zwick.  Tell us about yourself: I'm a journalist-turned-filmmaker who finally worked up the courage to quit my day job and put together this movie about two years ago. I'm very excited to show the film to my friends back east as proof that I've been doing something out in La other than "taking meetings." Biggest challenge in completing the film? Convincing everyone involved that I had any idea what I was doing. I'm still not entirely sure how I got away with it. Did you crowdfund? We didn't crowdfund, but we did solicit and find funding from a variety of sources, »


- Indiewire

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Meet the 2014 Tribeca Filmmakers #33: Chris Messina On How He Completed 'Alex of Venice' While Shooting 'The Mindy Project'

13 hours ago

Chris Messina both directs and stars in "Alex of Venice," a drama about Alex, (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a woman pushed past the comfort zone of everything she knows. Previously known for his work on "The Mindy Project" and HBO's "The Newsroom," this is Messina's directional debut.  Tell us about yourself? I was born and raised in New York and spent many years performing in plays from anywhere from the Bronx to off-Broadway to Broadway. About 8 years ago Alan Ball cast me on the last season of "Six Feet Under" and I moved to Los Angeles to work in film and television more. I've been lucky enough to work with film directors like Woody Allen, Sam Mendes, Nora Ephron, Ben Affleck, David Gordon Green and Noah Baumbach and I learned a great deal from all of them. I live in Los Angeles with my wife Jennifer Todd who is a film producer and our two boys, »


- Indiewire

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Meet the 2014 Tribeca Filmmakers #32: Ilmar Raag Discovers the Russian Reality with 'I Won't Come Back'

13 hours ago

Estonian filmmaker Ilmar Raag comes to Tribeca with "I Won't Come Back," a drama about a woman on the run. Known for "Love is Blind" and "A Lady in Paris," Raag returns to Russia to create a work he promises is "something that would get your heart beating."  Tell us about yourself? I probably did too many things before starting to make movies. I studied history, film economy, television in Estonia, in France and in the States. I worked as journalist and as television executive. It all took almost too long before I decided to do only things that I want to do. So, in a way, I started my life only in 2007 with the film "The Class". 5 years later I managed to release my second film "A Lady in Paris", shot in France with Jeanne Moreau. And only then I was ready for real adventures. Biggest challenge coming into the project? »


- Indiewire

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Meet the 2014 Tribeca Filmmakers #31: Kief Davidson Finds the Beauty in LEGOs in 'Beyond the Brick: A Lego Brickumentary'

13 hours ago

With "The Lego Movie" already turning into a big hit, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Kief Davidson should have no trouble finding an audience for his and co-director Daniel Junge's latest documentary. "Beyond the Brick: A Lego Brickumentary" explores the immense fan base of the classic children's toy, while depicting its awe-inspiring and endless possibilities that are used to create what can only be viewed as art. Tell us about yourself. I was born and raised in Brooklyn when rent was still cheap. While studying for some degree at school, I was fortunate enough to land my first job as a comedy and music video editor at a post-production facility. I then moved into editing documentaries, which then inspired me to make my own films. Some of them include "Open Heart," "Kassim The Dream," "The Devil’s Miner" and "Beyond The Brick."  What was your biggest challenge in completing this project? The »


- Ziyad Saadi

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Meet the 2014 Tribeca Filmmakers #30: Mike Fleiss Takes a Wild Ride into the Life of The Grateful Dead's Bob Weir in 'The Other One: The Long, Strange Trip of Bob Weir'

13 hours ago

Rhythm guitarist Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead fame has had an exciting life to say the least, even for the likes of a rock star. The musician's life has had so many notable moments that filmmaker Mike Fleiss had a difficult time pinpointing which areas to focus on in his film "The Other One: The Long, Strange Trip of Bob Weir," with the many faces of Weir (artist, rebel, family man) being exposed as profoundly as can be in a 90-minute documentary. Tell us about yourself. I'm a producer and director in Los Angeles. I'm a reality TV veteran, having created "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette," among other shows. I also produced the "Hostel" series of films as well as the fist two "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remakes. My last documentary "God Bless Ozzy Osbourne" premiered at Tribeca in 2011. What was your biggest challenge in completing this project? Bob was »


- Ziyad Saadi

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Meet the 2014 Tribeca Filmmakers #29: Bert Marcus Searches for the American Dream in Sports Documentary 'Champs'

13 hours ago

Sports movies tend to focus on the strenuous nature of professional athletics and competition, with few of them ever really managing to depict a larger, more worldly topic. Such is not the case with Bert Marcus' boxing documentary "Champs," which tackles social issues as the American dream and the perpetual distance between wealth and poverty that many athletes (such as Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Bernard Hopkins) and non-athletes alike still struggle to overcome. Tell us about yourself. I was born and raised in Los Angeles and although I have constantly sought out new adventures and travels, no matter where life leads me, there is no place like home. From a young age, I brought humor and fun into most facets of my life, which led to journalism and student government in high school, which in turn grew into working at Clear Channel radio with on-air personalities and then »


- Ziyad Saadi

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Meet the 2014 Tribeca Filmmakers #28: Frederic Tcheng Captures the Ghost of Christian Dior in 'Dior and I'

13 hours ago

Christian Dior may no longer be alive, but there's no doubt that his spirit lives on in the fashion community. The unmatched talent and intense pressure of his company have led it to become a pillar in the industry, most aptly and vividly captured in Frederic Tcheng's documentary "Dior and I." Though time was limited in following the lives of designers and seamstresses, the speedy proceedings of Dior ultimately made for quite an experience -- and quite a film.  What was your biggest challenge in completing this project? Gaining the trust of our subjects - obviously Dior designer Raf Simons, but also the seamstresses of the atelier, was a challenge because of the time constraint. Usually on a documentary, you spend months courting the subjects, until they let down their guard and become comfortable with the camera. That's how you capture the real beautiful moments. But Dior announced Raf Simons' »


- Ziyad Saadi

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Meet the 2014 Tribeca Filmmakers #27: Grown Men Worship 'My Little Pony' in Brent Hodge's Documentary 'A Brony Tale'

13 hours ago

It's not everyday that one sees grown men worshipping a children's show, but director Brent Hodge proves the shocking commonality of such a phenomenon as he documents the seemingly inexplicable fascination of a group of adult males with the cartoon "My Little Pony." Particular admiration is bestowed on Ashleigh Ball, who voiced one of the beloved characters and won the hearts of this growing subculture known as 'the bronies.' Tell us about yourself. My friends call me Hodgee and I started Hodgee Films a few years ago. I've been traveling the world with a camera in hand ever since. It's been my ticket to the party and now have a great team of people who have come along for the ride. What was your biggest challenge in completing this project? The biggest challenge was sound and music, and getting that exactly how we wanted it. I worked in radio »


- Ziyad Saadi

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Meet the 2014 Tribeca Filmmakers #26: Sheila Canavan and Michael Chandler Dig Deep into the Life of Gay Congressman Barney Frank in 'Compared to What? The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank'

13 hours ago

Congressman Barney Frank was best known for his significant status as the first openly gay U.S. Congressman, but he was also known for his quick wit and sharp tongue. Infusing his political influence with his own unique personality, directors Sheila Canavan and Michael Chandler's documentary "Compared to What? The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank" manage to get some insight into the complexities behind this politically groundbreaking man. Tell us about yourselves. Sheila Canavan was born and raised in Boston. Mike Chandler was raised in Portland, Maine. Sheila produced, and Mike directed the award-winning "Knee Deep." Together, we directed and produced "Compared to What." "Compared to What" is Sheila's directorial debut. Mike has produced, written and directed numerous documentaries and edited features including "Amadeus," "Never Cry Wolf" and "Mishima." Sheila’s other film work includes "Yosemite: The Fate of Heaven" and "Waldo Salt: A Screenwriter’s Journey." What was your. »


- Ziyad Saadi

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Stanley Film Festival Will Honor Joe Dante with 'Master of Horror' Award

14 hours ago

The Stanley Film Festival (Sff) has just announced that Joe Dante ("Gremlins," "The Howling," "Piranha") will receive the inaugural 2014 Stanley Film Festival Master of Horror award. Mick Garris ("Sleepwalkers," "The Shinning," "The Stand," "Masters of Horror") will present the award as well as host the Horror Brunch, which he created and organized. The brunch, to take place April 27th, will be attended by the many filmmakers who will be participating in events throughout the Festival. Sff, presented by Chiller and produced by the Denver Film Festival, will be offering a lineup of panels, screenings, Dean's Cup short films, and the full cast of its audio drama series "Tales From Beyond the Pale: The Stanley Edition." Attendees include Martin Starr ("Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead"), Jocelyn DeBoer ("Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead"), Aj Bowen ("The Sacrament"), Ana Asensio and noted director and writer Larry Fessenden. Spectre Vision cofounders Elijah Wood, »


- Melina Gills

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Watch Liam Neeson, James Franco and Mila Kunis Brood, Yell, And Flirt in First Trailer for 'Third Person'

14 hours ago

Ten years after "Crash," Paul Haggis recovers his penchant for weaving together seemingly disconnected characters. "Third Person" is his latest drama, chronicling the story of three couples, each in a different city (New York, Rome, and Paris). As their lives begin to intersect, their loves and personal plights begin to crumble. The mixing and matching of couples utilizes a starred-up cast, including Liam Neeson, Mila Kunis, James Franco, Olivia Wilde and Maria Bello. Check out the first international trailer below. "Third Person" arrives in theaters April 24th. »


- Taylor Lindsay

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