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Sundance: Screen Media Snatches 'Ten Thousand Saints'

11 hours ago

Sundance never sleeps. Screen Media Films came out on top of a competitive bidding situation for "Ten Thousands Saints," taking Us rights to "American Splendor" directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini's film version of the acclaimed Eleanor Henderson novel. Starring Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, Emily Mortimer, Julianne Nicholson, Emile Hirsch, and Ethan Hawke, the Sundance premiere will arrive stateside in late summer 2015 with a robust 25-market theatrical and day-and-date VOD release. Here's the synopsis: In Ten Thousand Saints, after certain events lead Jude (Asa Butterfield) to withdraw from school and his family, his mother sends him to live with his estranged pot-dealing father (Ethan Hawke) in New York City. There, in the crime-riddled East Village of the late 1980’s, Jude forms an unlikely bond with his best friend’s brother (Emilie Hirsch) and the daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) of his father’s girlfriend (Emily Mortimer). As the three »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Sundance Q&A: Rodney Ascher on His Spooky, Silly Sleep Paralysis Doc 'The Nightmare'

12 hours ago

Director Rodney Ascher follows up his 2012 feature debut "Room 237," a documentary deconstruction of all the hair-brained close readings of Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining," with Sundance premiere "The Nightmare" about the terrified victims of sleep paralysis. Ascher, who has suffered the condition himself, lays out and interprets the nocturnal experiences of eight individuals plagued by malevolent, dream-state visions—and many are alarmingly similar. Several victims are stalked beside by shadow people, or alien-like figments made of TV white noise; others feel the encroaching, creepy presence of an unseen evil force. One woman, who's made something of a YouTube celebrity out of her horrifying accounts, experiences a religious awakening because of sleep paralysis, believing that she is a kind of conduit between warring spiritual realms. One man thinks he's just crazy, and that sleep paralysis will one day kill him. But the most ingenious aspect of this »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Oscar Doc Nominee 'Virunga' Gets New Release and Poster

16 hours ago

Set in the vast Congolese national park of the same name, “Virunga,” the debut feature doc by Orlando (“Skateistan”)  von Einsiedel, and Indie Spirit and Oscar doc nominee, is an exhilarating balance of politics, ecology, market forces and utter corruption, all of which play out across the landscape. Coveted by an oil-seeking corporation called Soco, it’s also home to the 800 or so mountain gorillas left in the world, who are little more than an inconvenient obstacle for the British company -- which, as if delivered to von Einsiedel by central casting, is morally bankrupt, oblivious to history, and a casual creator of misery upon which it feeds like a flea.  It's returning to theaters in New York and Los Angeles January 30 in advance of the Oscars, accompanied by a new poster (see below). And biologist and gorilla activist Jane Goodall has supplied a promo quote:  Virunga is a wake up call. »


- John Anderson

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Joe Swanberg's 'Digging for Fire' Goes to The Orchard

16 hours ago

In its second Sundance deal, newbie The Orchard is buying North American rights for about $2 million to Sundance Premiere title "Digging for Fire." (Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions has international rights.) Co-written by Swanberg and his "Drinking Buddies" star Jake Johnson ("New Girl"), the 35 mm portrait of married Angelenos stars Johnson and Rosemarie DeWitt tracks the anxious couple after they come across a bone and a gun.  Produced by Swanberg, Alicia Van Couvering (Lena Dunham's "Tiny Furniture," Sundance 2015 title "Cop Car") and Johnson,  the film is about how marriage should be "two individuals agreeing to be in a relationship, rather than two people melting into one thing," said Swanberg at the Sundance Q&A. According to Johnson, actors love working with Swanberg because he allows them to participate in the »


- Anne Thompson

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Jóhann Jóhannsson Scores a Musical Big Bang for 'The Theory of Everything'

20 hours ago

Jóhann Jóhannsson (best known for his melancholy "Prisoners" score) likes simplicity and pattern-based construction. And he's found the perfect artistic expression in "The Theory of Everything," conjuring a musical Big Bang about physics and love that just might earn him the Oscar. "The thing about this film is that it's intimate and very small in many ways, set in these town houses and corridors and classrooms, but it's still very cosmic and has an epic quality as well, which is an interesting balance," explains the Icelandic composer who's next score is for "Prisoners" director Denis Villeneuve's "Sicario." And that was fun to deal with because it has such a wide scope. But that was the challenge, really to do justice to that scope. There are very joyful and exuberant moments and there are moments that are bittersweet and tragic and melancholy and philosophical and very mystical." The film starts with a. »


- Bill Desowitz

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Watch: Magical-Realist Trailer for Berlinale's Panorama Opener 'Blue Blood' (Exclusive)

22 hours ago

Directed by Lirio Ferreira, Brazilian feature "Blue Blood" won big at the Rio Film Festival in October 2014, and bows again as the opening night of the 65th annual Berlinale's Panorama sidebar. Official synopsis, and Toh! exclusive trailer, below. Living on an idyllic island paradise, ten-year-old Pedro was separated from his sister Raquel because their mother feared a forbidden attraction between the siblings. Against his will, the boy was sent away to the mainland where he joined a travelling circus. Growing up among a colorful family of circus performers, Pedro transforms into a legendary figure called "Zolah, the Cannon Man." On a circus tour, Zolah – now grown into a handsome and seductive man – returns to the mystical island he was forced to leave behind. Trying to reconnect with his past, he longs for the forbidden love of his lost childhood. The cast includes the popular Brazilian actor Daniel de Oliveira, Caroline Abras, »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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How to Help Restore Kelly Reichardt's Debut 'River of Grass'

23 hours ago

You've probably seen "Night Moves," "Meek's Cutoff," "Wendy and Lucy" or "Old Joy," director Reichardt's quartet of hushed, spare and formally impeccable features set in or around the American Northwest. The Oregon-based filmmaker's singularly restrained approach began with 1994's "River of Grass," a 16mm-shot, sort-of love letter to Godard's "Breathless," Malick's "Badlands" and Arthur Penn's "Bonnie and Clyde." Narrated with relaxed poetry a la Sissy Spacek in "Badlands" or Linda Manz in "Days of Heaven," the film centers on a couple of young drifters who go rogue in South Florida outside the Everglades. With under 30 days to go, Oscilloscope's newly launched Kickstarter campaign asks for $20,000 to digitally restore the road movie. Lots of cool prizes include swag, vintage laser discs, a trip to the premiere screening and more. »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Blythe Danner and Sam Elliott Play 70ish Leads in Sundance Romance 'I'll See You in My Dreams'

30 January 2015 5:44 AM, PST

The indie drama stars Blythe Danner, a veteran Tony-winning stage actress who many recognize as the movie mom in the "Meet the Fockers" series --and the real mother of Gwyneth and Jake Paltrow; their father and her husband, producer Bruce Paltrow, died 13 years ago. In that sense she's familiar with the widow Carol Peterson in "I'll See You in My Dreams," who lives a comfortable but lonely life in Los Angeles with her shaggy old dog, having not kissed another man since the death of her husband 20 years before. When she has to put down her beloved canine companion, she's shaken and starts to open up, to her depressed young pool man (Martin Starr of "Silicon Valley"), who takes her out to sing karaoke (she's sensational), to her young professional daughter (Marin Akerman) and her bridge group of fun retirees (Mary Kay Place, Rhea Perlman and June Squibb). After one »


- Anne Thompson

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Sony Pictures Classics Will Release Yet Another Woody Allen Film, 'Irrational Man'

29 January 2015 5:43 PM, PST

Sony Pictures Classics, as expected, have acquired all North American rights to Woody Allen’s upcoming film, "Irrational Man," from Gravier Productions. Both partners prefer to screen the film for the buyer before they seal their usual deal. "Sony Classics and I have a good working relationship," said Woody Allen. "I like the way they handle my movies, very special, very classy and I always hope my films live up to their expectations.”  Produced by Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum and Edward Walson, "Irrational Man" stars an ensemble including Jamie Blackley, Joaquin Phoenix, Parker Posey and Emma Stone, who starred in Allen's last film, "Magic in the Moonlight" and is Oscar-nominated for "Birdman." No release date is set, though Allen likes to debut his films, when it works out, at Cannes. Allen recently surprised Hollywood by changing things up with an announced deal for his first TV series --at »


- Anne Thompson

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Sundance Gambler Flick 'Mississippi Grind' Goes to A24 and Directv

29 January 2015 5:23 PM, PST

The character study starring Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendelsohn as two gamblers will debut later this year exclusively for 30 days for Directv's 20 million customers, followed by A24's theatrical rollout.  Here's the official synopsis:  Gerry (Mendelsohn) is a talented but struggling poker player about to be swallowed up by his unshakeable gambling habit. But his luck begins to change after he meets the young, charismatic Curtis (Reynolds).  Gerry convinces his new lucky charm to hit the road with him, towards a legendary high stakes poker game in New Orleans.  The highs and lows unveil the duo’s true characters and motivations, and an undeniable bond forms between them. A24 and Directv also partnered on two other Sundance premieres: rookie Robert Eggers’ period thriller "The Witch," and "Slow West," starring Michael Fassbender. Films released through these partners include "Enemy," "Life after Beth," »


- Anne Thompson

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'Chef' Hits Netflix: Favreau's Indie Road Movie is Food Porn

29 January 2015 2:39 PM, PST

Now the family comedy about food starring Favreau, Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo and Dustin Hoffman is heading for Netflix.  (Here's our review and roundup.) Favreau is a huggable bear of man who wears his insecurities on his sleeve, so it makes sense that his return to indie filmmaking, "Chef," shows the same qualities. An eight-page outline came to the writer-director in a flash. He showed it to his friends and they encouraged him to write a full script, which he then enlisted his agency CAA to help finance. Many of his "Iron Man" pals--Robert Downey, Jr. and Scarlett Johansson have small roles--helped him out for SAG minimum, along with ace comedic actors Hoffman, Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, and Oliver Platt. "Nobody got paid anything," said Favreau at the SXSW Paramount opening night premiere. "This felt like it wanted to happen. Every once in a while it clicks."  Born in Queens, »


- Anne Thompson

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Tomm Moore's Exquisite Animated Oscar Contender 'Song of the Sea' Hits Major Cities

29 January 2015 2:26 PM, PST

Produced by the Ireland-based animation studio, Cartoon Saloon, and distributed by Gkids, "Song of the Sea" is an animated Oscar contender for its exquisite hand-drawn beauty and stirring story about the last Seal-child trapped between two worlds. It debuted in Toronto. Ben and his enchanted little sister Saoirse (a Selkie) are hurled into a fading world of ancient legend and magic as they attempt to return to their home by the sea. The film takes inspiration from the mythological Selkies of Irish folklore, who live as seals in the sea but become humans on land. "Song of the Sea" features the voices of Brendan Gleeson, Fionnula Flanagan, David Rawle, Lisa Hannigan, Pat Shortt, and Jon Kenny. The score is composed by Bruno Coulais and Irish band Kíla, who previously collaborated on "The Secret of Kells." "I had heard plenty of Selkie stories growing up and had seen the 'Secret of »


- Bill Desowitz

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Magnolia Snatches Hot Sundance Doc 'The Wolfpack' (Video Clip)

29 January 2015 1:36 PM, PST

Magnolia Pictures has landed worldwide rights for the much-buzzed documentary discovery of Sundance, "The Wolfpack." First-time filmmaker Crystal Moselle spotted some compelling teenagers on the street in Manhattan and after engaging them in conversation, eventually followed the brothers home to their Lower East Side apartment and over four years, tracked their rather unusual upbringing for a documentary. "The Wolfpack" is an emotional, claustrophobic encounter with the Angulo Brothers, who spent their childhood crammed in a New York Housing Authority apartment under the lock and key of their tyrannical, paranoid father. It's also an inquiry into how we're defined by the media we consume--the six brothers recount being raised on thousands of movies, which became their only way to understand the outside world. The family had no outside acquaintances and the kids never left their home. Instead, they acted out their own recreations of what »


- Anne Thompson and Ryan Lattanzio

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Ranking the 5 Best Editing Oscar Nominees

29 January 2015 9:55 AM, PST

It's all about capturing the rhythm of the movie and these five contenders are all editorial gems: "American Sniper" is a ticking bomb about to explode simultaneously on the war front and home front; "Boyhood," the frontrunner, is a unique 12-year journey of adolescence told in real-time and patched together like a fine quilt; "The Grand Budapest Hotel" is a prism that spins wild pre-war and post-war memories; "The Imitation Game" captures the inner turmoil of a mathematical genius trying to break the Enigma code; and "Whiplash" is a war between instructor and student that builds to a frenzied drum solo. 1.  "American Sniper" is gaining Oscar momentum. Editors Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach provide a new psychological twist on violence for Clint Eastwood's polarizing war movie. Legendary Navy Seal assassin Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) is torn between military duty and family responsibility. And the »


- Bill Desowitz

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Trailers From Hell on Polanski's 'The Ghost Writer'

29 January 2015 9:17 AM, PST

Adapted from the book "The Ghost" by Robert Harris, this unnerving mystery is a return to form for Roman Polanski, thanks mainly to the cagey cat-and-mouse plot which plays into the director’s strongest suit. Ewan McGregor plays the titular scribe whose creeping paranoia turns out to be completely justified and Pierce Brosnan is the man who inspires much of that anxiety. »


- Trailers From Hell

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Focus World Buys Sundance Suspense Yarn 'Cop Car'

28 January 2015 7:10 PM, PST

Focus Features boutique arm Focus World has acquired Us and UK rights to director Jon Watts' Sundance premiere "Cop Car," starring Kevin Bacon, James Freedson-Jackson, Hays Wellford, Shea Whigham and Camryn Manheim. Produced by Cody Ryder, Alicia Van Couvering, Sam Bisbee, Andrew Kortschak and Jon Watts, this cat-and-mouse turns on a "a harrowing crash course full of mayhem as a pair of 10-year-old boys attempt to navigate the back roads behind the wheel of a seemingly abandoned police car that they have no clue how to operate," per the official synopsis. Things go from bad to worse when a small-town sheriff sets his sights on getting the car back—at any cost. Reviews have been solid. The Guardian praises Kevin Bacon's performance especially: "Bacon, sporting a creepy moustache, is great, and both boys give strong, naturalistic performances." Focus World is planning a simultaneous theatrical and VOD release of »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Bobcat Goldthwait Turns Docmaker To Celebrate Comic Hero of 'Call Me Lucky'

28 January 2015 4:09 PM, PST

"I want to prove F. Scott Fitzgerald wrong," Bobcat Goldthwait told me, "that there are no second acts." Not only has he directed seven films over the past decade, but he's also having a blast directing "Community." "Call Me Lucky," his third Sundance debut and first documentary, is a profile of standup comic Barry Crimmins.  Goldthwait's last fiction film "Willow Creek" was a found footage Bigfoot movie with the filmmaker "interviewing actual folks in a town and putting them in a suspense scary buffet movie." So it was natural that he should go full documentary for "Call Me Lucky," which started with Goldthwait's best friend of 33 years, Robin Williams (he still gets teary when his name comes up), who was trying to make a scripted narrative movie about Crimmins. "It seemed like it was hard to get going that way," said Goldthwait. "So Robin suggested we make it as a documentary. »


- Anne Thompson

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Sundance Reviews: Robert Redford Vehicle 'A Walk in the Woods' Is a Slog

28 January 2015 1:06 PM, PST

Based on Bill Bryson's 1998 memoir, "A Walk in the Woods," directed by Ken Kwapis from a script by Rick Kerb and Bill Holderman, failed to impress critics when it premiered at Sundance last Friday. The film stars festival founder Robert Redford as the aging Bryson, determined to shake things up by hiking the Appalachian Trail with his old friend, Katz (Nick Nolte). Other cast members include Emma Thompson, Nick Offerman, and Kristen Schaal. Despite echoes of "Wild" and Redford's celebrated man-versus-nature turn in "All Is Lost," however, "Woods" does not manage to spin the sparring between the grizzled leads into either comedy gold or a meditation on growing old. Most early reviews have pegged the film as a predictable -- if pleasant -- diversion, too insubstantial to have much impact beyond the name recognition of the cast.   Daniel Fienberg, Hitfix: "Surely there's an audience out there in the world for 'Grumpy Old. »


- Matt Brennan

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Watch: Ava DuVernay's Gracious, Humble Response to 'Selma' Oscar Snub

28 January 2015 11:50 AM, PST

Speaking with Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman at Sundance yesterday, "Selma" director Ava DuVernay responded to the furor surrounding the film with characteristic grace, paying homage to the "giants, real, bold, brave Americans of color, and otherwise, all kinds of people, who marched for something that was really important" before addressing Hollywood's systemic failure to make room for diverse voices. (Watch the full interview below.)    Acknowledging that the film's Best Picture nomination is "nothing to sneeze at," DuVernay argues that the problem is not the Academy per se, but the fact that "Selma" was the only strong Oscar contender this year to feature people of color in prominent roles in front of and behind the camera: [T]he question is: Why was Selma the only film that was even in the running with people of color for the award? You know what I mean? I mean, why are there not—not just black, »


- Matt Brennan

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Kristen Stewart Is First American Actress Nominated for César Awards in 30 Years; 'Saint Laurent' Leads with Ten

28 January 2015 10:54 AM, PST

Kristen Stewart picked up the first nomination for an American actress at France's César Awards since opera singer Julia Migenes' performance in the 1984 film adaptation of "Carmen," nabbing a Best Supporting Actress nod for her role as an aging film star's assistant in Olivier Assayas' "Clouds of Sils Maria." Bertrand Bonello's "Saint Laurent" leads this year's nominations with 10, including Best Film and Best Director. "Les Combattants" (nine), "Timbuktu" (eight), and yet another biopic of the famed French designer, "Yves Saint Laurent" (seven), were also among those lauded by the French Académie today. Stewart's "Sils Maria" co-star Juliette Binoche, Oscar nominee Marion Cotillard ("Two Days, One Night"), and screen legend Catherine Deneuve ("Dans La Cour") all feature in the packed race for Best Actress, while Céline Sciamma's acclaimed "Girlhood" »


- Matt Brennan

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