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'Maze Runner' Easily Tops Resurgent Box Office

15 hours ago

Along with two other new releases, this marks a much-needed box office rebound. The total Top 10 take came to $29 million, almost $8 million higher than the same weekend last year, when "Prisoners" opened to $7 million. Two lower-grossing newbies also boosted the overall take, but neither showed significant strength: "A Walk Among the Tombstones" (Universal), another actioner starring old reliable Liam Neeson, took second place with a modest $4.7 million, much below the initial response to "Non-Stop" and the two "Taken" films. In third place with $3.9 million was the family comedy-drama "This Is Where I Leave You" (Warner Bros.), whose multi-generation ensemble includes Adam Driver, Jason Bateman, Tina Fey and Jane Fonda. This might get a Saturday night boost, but it's still soft given that there's little competition for older audiences who have proved reliable all year. Last week's top two performers took steep dives as they »


- Tom Brueggemann

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David Fincher Reveals His 'Life in Pictures,' from Fighting Studios to Multiple Takes

17 hours ago

Here are some of the highlights:  On when he knew he wanted to be a director I was fairly convinced at the age of eight that’s that what I wanted to do with my life. And when I was living in Marin [County] my next door neighbor was George Lucas and I was that close to movies that were being made. Then my parents decided to tear us out of there and take us to this place [in Oregon] where there was no cinema except for this little cinema. I worked after school directing plays and doing lighting for plays and at night, from six to midnight, one in the morning, I was a projectionist. At the weekends I would shot E&G footage for a local television station. If a barn was burning down I was the guy out there trying to get a shot of it. So I worked in »


- Mark Salisbury

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Best of the Week: Oscar Bait, Missing Pictures, 'Serena' & More

21 hours ago

Awards: Anne Thompson's Updated Oscar Predictions 2015 "Boyhood" Star Patricia Arquette Will Campaign for Supporting Actress Oscar Four Reasons Why Clark Terry Doc "Keep On Keepin' On" Is Oscar Bait Updated: Foreign Language Oscar Contenders Where Are the Missing Pictures? Box Office: "Skeleton Twins" Scores Best Limited Opening Since "Boyhood" Top Ten Box Office Takeaways: "No Good Deed" Tops Weak Field, "The Drop" Scores, "The Giver" Soars News & Features: As TriStar Lands Ang Lee, Who's In Line to Replace Sony's Pascal? Fantastic Fest Preview: 10 Must-See Films How Kevin Kline Helped Israel Horovitz's "My Old Lady" Film Debut It's Not Getting Better for Women in Hollywood, But There Is a Silver Lining "New Girl" vs. "The Mindy Project": One's a Winner Take a "Walk Among the Tombstones" with Cinematographer Mihai Malaimare »


- TOH!

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Where Are the Missing Pictures?

19 September 2014 2:27 PM, PDT

Focus Features and Working Title are banking on "Theory of Everything" for 2014, putting off until next year usual suspect Stephen Daldry's much-anticipated thriller "Trash," starring Rooney Mara, which filmed with hand-held cameras on garbage dumps in Brazil. The film plays Brazil and Rome fests in October but has yet to book stateside festival slots. Cinephiles are eager to see the film after a well-received early teaser (below). When will ex-Focus exec Andrew Karpen's new distribution company Bleecker Street release Toronto pick-up Edward Zwick's acclaimed chess biopic "Pawn Sacrifice," for example? Some critics think Tobey Maguire has the right Oscar stuff. Broad Green Pictures' "99 Homes," another Tiff pickup directed by Ramin Bahrani and starring Michael Sheen and Andrew Garfield, is slated for 2015.  The Weinstein Company has a bunch of postponed projects. Never expect Harvey Weinstein to hang onto his schedule of Oscar »


- Anne Thompson

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Watch: Viggo Mortensen Loves Patricia Highsmith in 'Two Faces of January'

19 September 2014 2:26 PM, PDT

Viggo Mortensen is one of America's finest and most bankable actors, and gets to cherry-pick the best of international movies, because he's fluent in French and Spanish as well as English. Upcoming films include fest favorite "Jauja," in which he speaks Spanish with a Danish accent, and French Tiff entry "Far from Men."  While the "Lord of the Rings" star is always eager to work with David Cronenberg on any film, whether as a husband with a secret ("A History of Violence"), a tattooed Russian gangster ("Eastern Promises") or Sigmund Freud ("A Dangerous Method"), he's also willing to take chances on a new screenwriter-turned-director such as Hossein Amini, who adapted Patricia Highsmith for the delightfully Hitchcockian "The Two Faces of January."  Mortensen and I talked on Skype (video below) about how he chooses projects and worked with Amini and his costars Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac on this »


- Anne Thompson

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Watch: Sexy Trailer for Mathieu Amalric's 'Blue Room'

19 September 2014 2:23 PM, PDT

Based on Belgian author Georges Simenon's 1964 mystery novel, this neo-noir follows a man (Amalric) and a woman (Stephanie Cleau) as they meet for anonymous trysts in a hotel. But this once-innocent relationship will unravel into a police investigation where Amalric's character is accused of a crime he can't identify. Stephanie Cleau and Amalric cowrote the adaptation. While Amalric is perhaps best known as an actor in films "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" and Polanski two-hander "Venus in Fur," this is his 15th film as a director. Sundance Selects opens the film on October 3. Cannes review here. »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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As TriStar Lands Ang Lee, Who's In Line to Replace Sony's Pascal?

19 September 2014 12:54 PM, PDT

Following a rough 2013, Spe co-chairmen Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal have been shifting gears of late, on the one hand letting go of distribution and marketing execs Jeff Blake and Marc Weinstock, and on the other bolstering their executive roster with strong players like Michael De Luca, who now runs production under Columbia motion picture president Doug Belgrad. They are also buttressing the Sony release slate by investing in well-financed production labels run by powerful ex-studio chiefs Tom Rothman (Twentieth Century Fox, now TriStar Productions) and Jeff Robinov (Warner Bros., now Studio 8).  The question is whether Lynton and Pascal are shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic. They make a tight and loyal team, but by any measure Pascal is in a tentative position, and any one of these men could be poised to fill her shoes.  That does not mean these players all want to return to the chores of administration and. »


- Anne Thompson

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Angelina Jolie Will Direct Another Biopic

19 September 2014 12:39 PM, PDT

Jolie has lined up "Africa" as her next directorial project, based on Kenyan fossil hunter and politician Richard Leakey's longtime battle against ivory poaching on the continent. It will be produced by Skydance's David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, along with Jon Peters and Angelina Jolie. She will work from a screenplay by Oscar-winning "Forrest Gump" writer Eric Roth. Cinematographer Roger Deakins, who shot "Unbroken," is also on board to shoot "Africa." (Read our Deakins interview here.) Jolie had admired Roth's adaptation of Stacy Schiff bestseller "Cleopatra," which has been seeking a director. Is this now back-burnered at Sony as Jolie favors directing over acting? Jolie, who already had quite the year with box office hit "Maleficent" ($700 million and counting worldwide) is currently directing the mid-70s romance "By the Sea," in which she stars alongside Brad Pitt as a former dancer traveling in France. »


- Anne Thompson and Ryan Lattanzio

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Xavier Dolan's 'Mommy' Officially Enters Oscar Race

19 September 2014 11:32 AM, PDT

The 25-year-old director is having a good day in Montreal. "Mommy" is the second Dolan feature to be submitted by Canada to the Academy -- following his 2009 debut "I Killed My Mother" -- but this is his first real contender.  Canada is passionate about the film, which took the Croisette by storm in May before finding love in Telluride and Toronto. "Mommy," Dolan's fifth feature, stars Anne Dorval as a widowed mother who's struggling to right her wayward, rage-filled son (Antoine-Olivier Pilon) until a mysterious neighbor (Suzanne Clement, who was lovely in Dolan's 2012 Un Certain Regard entry "Laurence Anyways") enters the picture. The film is backed in the Us by Roadside Attractions. It opens today in Canada. »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Take a 'Walk Among the Tombstones' with Cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr.

19 September 2014 11:11 AM, PDT

For cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr., "A Walk Among the Tombstones," now in theaters, represents his first atmospheric thriller as well as his first experience shooting in New York City. Of course, in discussing the visual style with writer-director Scott Frank, they decided to go for a '70s gritty, de-saturated look, recalling "The French Connection" and "The Parallax View." But adding to the paranoia is the fact that it takes place during the Y2K craze in 1999. In fact, one of the serial killers even points out the irony of people being afraid of the wrong things, which is how he and his partner are able to take their victims totally by surprise. What interested the Romanian cinematographer, who learned his craft collaborating with Francis Ford Coppola ("Tetro," "Youth Without Youth") and Paul Thomas Anderson ("The Master"), was trying to capture New York (Brooklyn, Hell’s Kitchen, Red Hook, »


- Bill Desowitz

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Updated: Foreign Language Oscar Contenders

19 September 2014 10:03 AM, PDT

Update: Two major Cannes pictures are now vying for one of the five Foreign Language Oscar slots. Belgium has entered the Dardennes' "Two Days One Night" into the race. The Cannes competition film stars Marion Cotillard as a woman fighting to keep her job over the course of a weekend. Belgium has submitted three Dardennes films that were not nominated for the Oscar, but their latest realist drama is a serious contender. Also news today is Canada's submission of the Xavier Dolan wildly acclaimed "Mommy," which looks like an early frontrunner. More on why here. See the full list of submissions below, with more from Latvia, Panama, Pakistan, Denmark and elsewhere. Italy, meanwhile, with high hopes after the great success of 2014 Foreign Language winner "The Great Beauty," has unveiled a shortlist. We'll know more next week. Earlier: Mexico has, of course, selected its recent Us box office hit "Cantinflas" -- about famed comic actor. »


- TOH!

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Watch: Sony's New 'Popeye' CG Animation Test

18 September 2014 2:27 PM, PDT

The beloved spinach-chomping sailor will return in "Hotel Transylvania" director Tartakovsky's in-the-works animated feature. The nifty animation test below offers a sneak peek at how Sony animators are resurrecting Popeye, who was last on the big screen in Robert Altman's admirably daffy live-action effort in 1980. Tartakovsky was inspired by the iconic black-and-white Fleischer shorts for Paramount in the 1930s. »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Four Reasons Why Clark Terry Doc 'Keep on Keepin' On' Is Oscar Bait

18 September 2014 2:26 PM, PDT

1. The movie is organic and authentic. This documentary exists because Australian first-time director and jazz drummer Alan Hicks, who had studied with trumpeter Clark Terry and toured with his band for three years, was approached by an Australian documentary channel to shoot a short piece about their friendship.  When funding was pulled at the last minute, Hicks saw a missed opportunity. He and his friend Adam Hart decided that they could do it on their own. "We saved up for a year," Hicks tells me in a phone interview. "We bought one camera and plane fares and came out and started shooting with Clark."   Hicks first met Clark by chance in New York in 2001. "He was in good health and touring all over the world," he says. "He had recovered from colon cancer, took me under his wing, started teaching me, and we became good mates. That's why I was »


- Anne Thompson

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How Kevin Kline Helped Israel Horovitz's 'My Old Lady' Film Debut

18 September 2014 2:08 PM, PDT

By turns affecting and amusing, and quite often both at once, the film focuses on Mathias (Kevin Kline), a nearing-60 New Yorker who has little to show for his life until now but three failed marriages and the same number of unpublished novels. Mathias thinks his luck could be changing when, after the death of his estranged father, he learns he has inherited a spacious Paris apartment that might be sold for a handsome sum.  But, of course, there’s a catch: Mathilde (Maggie Smith), a 90-something Englishwoman, and Chloé (Kristen Scott Thomas), her tart-tongued daughter, have long resided in the apartment, and they are not of a mind to depart. Much to Mathias’ dismay, the law is on their side: Thanks to a sales agreement signed years ago by his dad and Mathilde (who, Mathias gradually realizes, were more than just participants in a real estate deal),  Mathias can »


- Joe Leydon

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The Top 10 Horror Movies Since 2000

18 September 2014 1:17 PM, PDT

This October, London Film Fest will uncloak a new 4K restoration of Tobe Hooper's "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," the one that started it all in 1974. Stateside audiences heading to Austin's Fantastic Fest this weekend can catch it at the fest's parallel program MondoCon.  Buzz about the beefed-up version prompted BFI to pick 10 great new horror films that, while probably not as impactful as "Texas Chainsaw" with its shock of the new, will last. Here are their picks: 2001: "Session 9" (Dir. Brad Anderson 2002: "May" (Dir. Lucky McKee) 2005: "The Descent" (Dir. Neil Marshall) 2006: "Bug" (Dir. William Friedkin) 2007: "Inside" (Dirs. Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo) 2009: "Amer" (Dirs. Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani) 2009: "House of the Devil" (Dir. Ti West) 2009: "The Loved Ones" (Dir. Sean Byrne) 2010: "We Are What We Are" (Dir. »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Buzzy Tiff Documentary 'Do I Sound Gay?' Will Open Doc NYC

18 September 2014 11:21 AM, PDT

Featuring Lgbt mascots Margaret Cho, Tim Gunn, Dan Savage and George Takei, among others, "Do I Sound Gay?" explores the link between sexuality and speech, and the all the anxiety and cultural baggage that come with "the gay voice." Produced by Howard Gertler ("Shortbus," Oscar nominee "How to Survive a Plague"), "Do I Sound Gay?" was hailed by Toronto doc guru Thom Powers as "a winning and sympathetic guide who doesn't shy away from confronting taboos and vulnerabilities that often go unexpressed." The November 13 Doc NYC presentation marks the film's Us premiere. The full lineup for this IFC-produced festival, which promises a slate of over 125 films, arrives October 15. Meanwhile, watch the crowdfunding trailer below: »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Watch: 'A Most Violent Year' Teaser, Release Date & Poster Finally Arrive

18 September 2014 10:16 AM, PDT

Chastain and Isaac ("Inside Llewyn Davis") star as the heads of an oil business who get caught up in the New York City criminal underworld during the winter of 1981. Chandor, Oscar-nominated for "Margin Call" and acclaimed for "All Is Lost," directs his own original screenplay. Is it an Academy contender? We won't know until we see the film, which will roll out nationally in January after its December limited opening. Isaac, who ably carried "Inside Llewyn Davis," is still on the rise (he's superb in Patricia Highsmith mystery-thriller "The Two Faces of January.") And with "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby" receding and "Miss Julie" not taking off at the Toronto International Film Festival, this may be Chastain's best Oscar shot.  »


- Anne Thompson and Ryan Lattanzio

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Benedict Cumberbatch Cracks Code in New 'Imitation Game' Poster

18 September 2014 10:04 AM, PDT

It's looking like "The Imitation Game" and star Benedict Cumberbatch are the ones to beat so far in the Oscar race (and here are eight reasons why). Morten Tyldum's powerfully acted espionage drama, which also stars Keira Knightley and Rory Kinnear, covers Turing's days as Enigma codebreaker to the Allies, and as a closeted homosexual prosecuted by the UK government.  Behold the new poster below. (And here's why the film's Tiff win matters to the Oscar race.) »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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BAFTA La Unveils Five Britannia Honorees

18 September 2014 9:00 AM, PDT

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts' L.A. arm will honor the starry bunch during an October 30 ceremony at the Beverly Hilton, hosted once again by comedian Rob Brydon. The show will then air Sunday, November 2 on BBC America. This historic award season ramp-up event will dole out its five discrete prizes as follows: Robert Downey Jr. will receive the storied Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film, whose prior recipients include Daniel Day Lewis, Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks, George Lucas, Denzel Washington and Steven Spielberg. In October, Downey Jr. can be seen in his Oscar hopeful "The Judge," a drama he also produced. The Britannia Humanitarian Award goes to Mark Ruffalo for his work with nonprofit Water Defense, which the Emmy-winning "Normal Heart" star cofounded to raise water resource awareness. Emma Watson will receive the Britannia Award for British Artist of the Year, »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Focus World Grabs 'Ruth & Alex,' Starring Morgan Freeman & Diane Keaton

17 September 2014 4:46 PM, PDT

Directed by Richard Loncraine from Charlie Peters' script, the film world-premiered earlier this month in Toronto, where critics were mixed but affectionate toward the cast. Keaton and Freeman play a long-married couple who, over one weekend, debate selling their Brooklyn walk-up. Throw in Cynthia Nixon, the family dog and a raft of open-house guests and everything goes comically nutty. "Ruth & Alex" is based on Jill Ciment's book "Heroic Measures." Release date forthcoming. »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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