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Box Office: I, Failure

26 January 2014 2:00 PM, PST

Amir here, with the weekend’s box office report.

It was a quiet weekend for new releases, with only one film opening wide, and it might as well have not bothered at all. I, Frankenstein opened to a catastrophic $8m on a $65m budget. By next weekend, it will most likely be out of the top ten and most definitely out of our collective memory. I really don’t have much to add the pile of ridicule that’s already been heaped on the film, chiefly because I can’t figure out what the hell it’s even about despite the good half an hour I spent this morning researching its advertisements. I will just leave you with this brilliant tweet instead:

Worst part of I, Frankenstein flopping is that we'll never get treated to @NickPinkerton's hilarious sequel title: II, Frankenstein.

Bilge Ebiri (@BilgeEbiri) January 25, 2014

Ride Along remained at the »

- Amir S.

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Sundance: 'Dear White People' Aims To Provoke

26 January 2014 1:00 PM, PST

 Our Sundance Film Festival coverage continues with Michael Cusumano on breakthrough talent winner "Dear White People"  

At the fictional Ivy League University of Westchester Samantha White (Tessa Thompson) hosts a radio show called ‘Dear White People’ in which she delivers a series of confrontational, button-pushing edicts directed at the school’s majority white population. For example:

Dear White People, the minimum requirement of black friends needed to not seem racist has been raised to two. Sorry, your weed man Tyrone doesn’t count.” 

It’s sharp material, and Justin Simien’s Dear White People would have done well to apply the same biting insight to the rest of the film. [more...]

»

- Michael C.

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We Can't Wait #10: Big Eyes

26 January 2014 11:00 AM, PST

[Editor's Note: We Can't Wait is a Team Experience series, in which we highlight our top 14 most anticipated films of 2014. Here's Julien Kojfer on "Big Eyes"]

Big Eyes

A drama centered on 50’s painter Margaret Keane, whose husband claimed credit for her works after she achieved phenomenal success.

Talent

Tim Burton is directing a starry cast including Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Jason Schwartzman, Krysten Ritter, Terence Stamp and Danny Husto. 

Why We Can't Wait

Sure, the perpetually disheveled auteur famously lost his mojo at the turn of the century, when his unique style suddenly froze into a soulless brand of manufactured gothic whimsy, and his name sadly became synonymous with lazy adaptations, predictably misshapen aesthetics, and the obligatory casting of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in cadaverous makeup and improbable wigs.

Which is precisely why no one who’s ever loved Burton could fail to be excited by Big Eyes, because it doesn’t sound like anything he’s made since the 90’s. An adult drama free of fantasy elements with a female protagonist, starring »

- Amir S.

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Sundance: Blind, a Playful Stunner From Norway

26 January 2014 8:00 AM, PST

From the Sundance Film Festival here's Nathaniel on "Blind" which won the World Cinema screenwriting prize...

Excuse me while I leap forward 11 months and give Blind the  gold medal for "Best Opening Scene" of 2014. This highly original Norwegian film begins with a visualization exercize. Ingrid (Ellen Dorrit Petersen), a married blind woman, is detailing her recent loss of sight. She's trying to remember what things looked like and has been warned that with no new visual stimuli from the optic nerves, her memoires of sight will fade. She'd like to keep the images for as long as she possibly can. She visualizes a tree, her apartment, a park, a dog. It's a German Shepherd to be precise - a morbidly funny choice given their status as the original seeing eye dogs.

Once the dog is visualized in a park, the background vanishes leaving only the panting dog on a blank canvas, »

- NATHANIEL R

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Cuarón Takes DGA

26 January 2014 12:39 AM, PST

In non-surprising awards news Alfonso Cuarón has won the Directors Guild of America prize for his long-in-the-making sci-fi epic Gravity. Though I've long been predicting him to win the Oscar, the Best Picture race still seems competitive. It's insane that 12 Years a Slave, a magnificent film and a historically significant drama in several ways, isn't steamrolling but it isn't. My guess is that even if Gravity sweeps the craft categories, Best Picture will be a nail biter down to the last envelope opening. The most famous 'dominated the Oscars but still lost Best Picture' year is, of course, 1972. Cabaret won 8 Oscars but The Godfather beat it in two of the top 8 categories Adapted Screenplay & the big kahuna Best Picture. The end result: they were both winners. Cabaret took home a lot of Oscars and has the impressive distinction of being the biggest winner among all Best Picture losers. (There are »

- NATHANIEL R

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Sundance Prize Winners

26 January 2014 12:00 AM, PST

The Sundance prizes were handed out tonight and the top winners will be screening on Sunday the last day of the festival. =Glenn, Michael and I have a handful more reviews for you including a couple of these winners. But it figures that not one of the three of us caught the unquestionable champ, Whiplash starring Miles Teller as a drummer and Jk Simmons as his military father, which took home both the juried top prize and the audience award for dramatic feature. You may recall that last year Fruitvale Station won both of those prizes too... but it wasn't able to convert that early rush of promise into Oscar nominations. The year before that those top prizes were split between Beasts of the Southern Wild (jury) and The Sessions (audience) which both went on to Oscar nods. The year before that Like Crazy (jury) and Circumstance (audience). Etcetera. Sundance »

- NATHANIEL R

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Sundance: This Girl Walks Alone Into Greatness

25 January 2014 11:30 PM, PST

From the Sundance Film Festival here is Glenn on 'A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night'

Despite the high profile of vampire movies in the past decade, very few of them have been strong enough to justify their budgets and mainstream success, let alone done enough to warrant any sort of long-term attention. Buffy the Vampire Slayer concluded in 2003 and since then TV series True Blood and The Vampire Diaries have attempted to pick up where Joss Whedon left off. On the big screen, however, the only vampire property to strike any form of sustained reverence is Tomas Alfredson’s Swedish take on vampire lore, Let the Right One In – and, depending on who you ask, the American remake, Let Me In, too – although I did enjoy the Spierig Brothers’ high-concept Daybreakers as well (I didn’t care for Stake Land, but I hear people like that one, too). So »

- Glenn Dunks

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We Can't Wait #11: The Last 5 Years

25 January 2014 7:00 PM, PST

[Editor's Note: We Can't Wait is a Team Experience series, in which we highlight our top 14 most anticipated films of 2014. Here's Jose Solis on The Last 5 Years.]

The Last 5 Years

A musical based on Jason Robert Brown's Off Broadway sensation about a crumbling young marriage which is told forward and backward in time simultaneously

Talent

Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick and stage star Jeremy Jordan (Newsies and Bonnie and Clyde on Broadway, Smash on TV)

Why We Can't Wait

When Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years debuted in 2001, the composer probably never expected his intimate musical (based on his relationship with ex-wife Theresa O'Neill) to become the theater sensation it would turn out to be. Although it was never Cats or Phantom-like in its success (the show has never actually been done on Broadway) the Chicago production and its subsequent Off-Broadway staging turned stars Norbert Leo Butz and Sherie Rene Scott into the doomed-lovers-of-choice of myriad theater geeks who still show up audition after audition carrying the music and lyrics to "Goodbye Until Tomorrow".

Brown's musical, »

- Jose

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Sundance: Sophomore Directors Soar in 'Listen Up Philip' & 'I Origins'

25 January 2014 3:00 PM, PST

Watching Alex Ross Perry’s mumblecore comedy The Color Wheel or Mike Cahill’s ambitious, but disappointing Another Earth in 2011 can’t really prepare you for their sophomore efforts, both of which premiered in Park City. Both Listen Up Philip and I Origins demonstrate a near stratospheric development for the pair in virtually every conceivable way. Cahill, especially, appears to have finally found a compelling way to conclude his high-concepts, which was one of the most frustrating elements of his debut. Perry on the other hand, has taken all of the promise found within his Indie Spirit-nominated gem and spun it into a literary tapestry that unfolds delicately and yet at breakneck speed.

You’d be forgiven for being taken entirely by surprise with Listen Up Philip thanks to its vivid, golden colourful strokes of 16mm beauty appearing in stark contrast to the minimalist aesthetic of his debut. Even more »

- Glenn Dunks

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Sundance: The Raid 2: Raid Harder

25 January 2014 1:00 PM, PST

From the Sundance Film Festival here is Glenn on the bone-crunching 'The Raid 2: Berandal'

"It doesn't end, does it?" asks a character in the excessively bloated sequel, The Raid 2: Berandal. He's talking about the depth of Indonesia's underworld, but I choose to take it literally and out of context, okay?! Fans of Gareth Evans' 2011 original will likely find nothing wrong in this film's 150-minute runtime - it's 9.7/10 IMDb rating only two days after its world premiere suggests just that - but as somebody who had hoped the original's 0% body fat take on the action movie formula would be given time to breathe and open up with the extended runtime, I was severely disappointed. 

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Much like The Raid (which absurdly went by The Raid: Redemption in the Us), Evans' sequel sees a cop battle a seemingly endless stream of villains amongst the Indonesian underworld with little else in between. »

- Glenn Dunks

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Mr R Will Link You Now

25 January 2014 11:33 AM, PST

Variety a filmmaker accidentally takes his parents to Nymphomaniac, the secret screening at Sundance

Cinema Blend 50 Shades of Grey gets one of those exceptionally lazy and ubiquitous 'back to camera in silhouette' teaser posters. This Must End. Every time a studio releases one of these I fear a mass suicide by graphic designers. (This is all they ever get to do now?)

/Film Rupert Sanders to direct live action remake of Ghost in the Shell 

The Carpetbagger Oscar's track record with black filmmakers 

i09 images from the making of The Ten Commandments including oil painting makeup tests

The New Yorker 50 Years of Dr Strangelove 

Cinema Blend Attack the Block's lead actor gets a plum role: Olympian Jesse Owens in the biopic Race »

- NATHANIEL R

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Sundance: "Blue Ruin"

25 January 2014 9:00 AM, PST

Our Sundance Film Festival coverage continues with Michael Cusumano on "Blue Ruin".  

Thrillers like Jeremry Saulnier’s Blue Ruin live or die by the quality of their plotting. Events must unfold with an airtight logic, each dreadful event spinning inevitably out from the last.  The suspense evaporates if we feel the character being pushed by the writer’s hand instead of being pulled helpless forward by their own irresistible urges. Blue Ruin pitiless screenplay meets this standard and then some. It is an uncommonly absorbing film that goes on a list with other great tales of venality and murder like of Blood Simple and One False Move. And if isn’t necessarily the equal of those masterpieces, it is awfully close. »

- Michael C.

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We Can't Wait #12: Gone Girl

25 January 2014 6:00 AM, PST

[Editor's Note: We Can't Wait is a Team Experience series, in which we highlight our top 14 most anticipated films of 2014. Here's Deborah Lipp on Gone Girl.]

Gone Girl

Loosely based on Gillian Flynn's best selling noverl of the same name, the film tells the story of a woman who mysteriously disappears on the day of her wedding anniversary.

 

 

Talent

Directed by a modern master of American thrillers, David Fincher, and starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, and Patrick Fugit.

 

Why We Can't Wait »

- Amir S.

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Sundance Lgbt Greats: "Love is Strange" & "Appropriate Behavior"

24 January 2014 6:00 PM, PST

Sundance coverage continues with Nathaniel on two terrific new Lgbt films. (This article was previously published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad)

Alfred Molina & John Lithgow get hitched in Love is Strange's opening scene

I'm popping in, once again, from the snowy mountains of Park City, Utah, where I've been attending the 30th annual Sundance Film Festival. It kicked off the day of the Oscar nominations a week ago and in my golden-statue-mania I keep imagining it would have felt more festive had it coincided with Robert Redford's first Oscar nomination in 19 years for All is Lost. But it was not meant to be. Still Redford's legacy lives on in the most celebrated American film festival. Two of the best films at Sundance 2014 are Lgbt films. Hopefully they'll both hit theaters or on demand or however we're watching movies next, and very soon.

Appropriate Behavior is the perfect Iranian bisexual »

- NATHANIEL R

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We Can't Wait #13: "Can A Song Save Your Life?"

24 January 2014 1:00 PM, PST

[Editor's Note: We Can't Wait is a Team Experience series, in which we highlight our top 14 most anticipated films of 2014. Here's Andrew Kendall on Can A Song Save Your Life?]

Can A Song Save Your Life?

Gretta is a would-be singer-songwriter whose boyfriend ends their long term relationship leaving her to find hopes of fame and success with down-on-his-luck record producer Dan.

Talent

John Carney is the man at helm and he's worked on the music alongside his Once collaborator, Glenn Hansard. The starry cast includes Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Cee-Lo Green, Mos Def, Adam Levine, Hailee Steinfeld, Catherine Keener and James Corden.

Why We Can't Wait »

- Andrew Kendall

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Sundance: Putting the T in Lgbt Cinema

24 January 2014 10:30 AM, PST

From the Sundance Film Festival here is Glenn on three great new editions to Lgbt cinema.

One of my goals for my first trip to Sundance was to see as much Lgbt cinema as possible. This year has proven to be particularly strong in this arena with films like Ira Sachs’ recently acquired Love is Strange and Desiree Akhavan’s ought-to-be acquired Appropriate Behaviour covering the “l”, the "g" and the “b” of that acronym and are soon to be reviewed by Nathaniel. I, however, found myself catching three very strong titles that deal with transgender men and women, which took me especially by surprise. Like Gun Hill Road, Xavier Dolan’s Laurence Anyways, Orange is the New Black and, yes, even Dallas Buyers Club, cinema visibility of trans issues are becoming more and more common and, in the case all three films below, feature actual transgender or gender neutral personalities. »

- Glenn Dunks

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Nicole Does Cannes, Part Deux.

24 January 2014 9:30 AM, PST

Jose here. After its fall from grace (pardon the pun, no, really do) less than a day ago, Grace of Monaco is back with a punch, having just been selected as the film that will open the 67th annual Cannes Film Festival in May. Just yesterday, it was announced that the movie had been pulled from its March 14 release date, leading people to assume that the film was in trouble. The Hollywood Reporter speculated that director Olivier Dahan hadn't delivered a final cut to The Weinstein Company, adding fuel to a fire started last year when the outspoken director accused Harvey Weinstein of cutting a "catastrophic" version of his film.

More on Grace of Monaco, Nicole Kidman and Cannes openers after the jump!  »

- Jose

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We Can't Wait #14: Veronica Mars

24 January 2014 9:00 AM, PST

[Editor's Note: We Can't Wait is a Team Experience series, in which we highlight our top 14 most anticipated films of 2014. Here's Dancin' Dan on Veronica Mars.]

Veronica Mars

Kristen Bell reprises her role as the title character in this neo-noir murder mystery that picks up nine year after where Season 3 of the eponymous TV series left off.

Talent

Rob Thomas, creator of the original series is in the director's chair. Kristen Bell is joined in front of the camera by other series regulars including Jason Dohring.

Why We Can't Wait »

- Denny

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Oscar's Losing Game

24 January 2014 5:00 AM, PST

Andrew here, to talk about the Oscar nominations. It’s been one week since they were announced and are we all talked out? Of course not. The Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences can't catch a break from its loudest critics each year. People often view the Oscars as some kind of monolothic entity and not as a group of individual persons with specific tastes, which grants them the aura of sinister agenda like a Bond villain. And given the weight of the crown -- Oscar remains the most significant film award -- they're subject to the sort of ardent scrutiny that would reveal flaws in even the most ostensibly immaculate of things. 

Whether you're a lover or agnostic on AMPAS, there is no denying that they provide fodder for movie conversation the way few other things do. But there's one frustratingly circular and inescapable bit of criticism which comes »

- Andrew Kendall

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Short Link 12

23 January 2014 8:50 PM, PST

Today's Must Read

The Dissolve Nathan Rabin discusses his own group home experience and his relationship to Short Term 12 which is now out on DVD and BluRay

General Linkage

THR Garrett Hedlund offered the plum Captain Hook role in Joe Wright's Peter Pan adaptation Pan

Ken Levine, inspired by Quentin Tarantino, makes a major announcement 

Variety Scott Thorson (played by Matt Damon in Behind the Candelabra) just sentenced to 8 to 20 years in Nevada! Yikes. 

Av Club Her trailer recut to replace Scarlett Johansson's voice with, uh, Philip Seymour Hoffman's. It's terrifying. you have been warned.

Iar interviews Destin Cretton on Short Term 12

THR a non controversy at Oscar on that strange Original Song nomination from Alone But Not Alone. Pity that Oscar is such sticklers about the rules on some classic important films like Moulin Rouge! and then lets things slide in weird cases like »

- NATHANIEL R

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