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'Philomena' Off to Strong Start, 'Nebraska' Second Weekend Lags

24 November 2013 1:27 PM, PST

Weinstein heart-tugger "Philomena," this week's awards-friendly limited opening, scored an initial number comparable to two recent Oscar contenders ("Nebraska" and "Dallas Buyers Club"), just ahead of its rapid expansion this Wednesday. Per usual, the specialty market is getting crowded, with not just new limited films but plenty of wider-releases, including "Catching Fire," grabbing the attention of older audiences. It's a time of high-risk opportunity, as not all releases will achieve their hoped-for maximum attention. Opening "Philomena" (Weinstein) - Criticwire: B+; Metacritic: 75; Festivals include: Venice 2013, Toronto 2013, Hamptons 2013, AFI 2013 $133,700 in 4 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $33,425 A more than decent initial result for Stephen Frears' British/Irish adoption drama starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, placing it among the better fall releases so far. These grosses fell just short of what "Nebraska" did last weekend (with three »


- Tom Brueggemann

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Weekend Top Ten: 'Catching Fire' and 'Frozen' Take Off

24 November 2013 10:12 AM, PST

One expected blockbuster, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," easily matched expectations with a record gross for the season of $161 million, while the next tentpole up, Disney's animated musical "Frozen," took in nearly $270,000 on a single Los Angeles screen in advance of its national rollout next pre-holiday Wednesday. But "Catching Fire" took a chunk out of the box office of other films that had been doing well; they sustained bigger than usual drops, because of stiff competition but many also lost holdover dates or complete show schedules as theaters worked overtime to provide maximum screens and seating for the "Hunger Games" sequel. Beyond the damage to the top 10, the toll was also heavy on Lionsgate's other release "Ender's Game" and Sony's "Captain Phillips," both of which lost more dates than normal. And with Disney's "Frozen" now set to grab many more screens and grab strong business this week, the bloodbath will only intensify. »


- Tom Brueggemann

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Watch: Josh Hutcherson Catches Fire on SNL, Five Highlights

24 November 2013 9:47 AM, PST

"Hunger Games" star Josh Hutcherson's easy appeal played well as an SNL host. Though he was used in almost every sketch, SNL mostly cast Hutcherson as the straight man. This move allowed him to work his charm, but didn't give the actor much room to goof or explore atypical roles. For Hutcherson's monologue, the writers took an easy route and created a "Hunger Games" scenario in which cast members had to compete (Kate McKinnon made an excellent Effie Trinket). Hutcherson played "the cutest boy in school" in the latest rendition of the Girlfriends Talk Show, a brilliant and often subtle critique of young teen dynamics (he makes a decent a cappella joke). Hutcherson then played a hopeful employee seeking a position from a captain of finance who has a baby's body--a sketch that allowed new cast member Beck Bennett to show off some impressive physical comedy. Hutcherson then joined »


- Maggie Lange

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'Catching Fire' Dominates But Not Record-Breaker, 'Frozen' Massive in La Exclusive, 'Philomena' Decent in Limited

23 November 2013 1:38 PM, PST

Many harbored hopes that "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," the second film in the Jennifer Lawrence-starring young adult series, could possibly deliver the biggest domestic release of 2013. But the movie grossed $70 million from Thursday 8 pm through Friday, and should double that gross for the entire weekend. That's a massive number, but less than anticipated. "The Hunger Games" in March, 2012 did $155 million for its opening (with initial shows starting at midnight, not earlier, reducing the night-before take), and this might not equal the also not 3-d-enhanced $141 million total of "Twilight - Breaking Dawn Part II" last November. This is quibbling (so much box office reporting focuses on breaking records). "Catching Fire" is likely to wind up bigger worldwide than the first entry, and the question is only what degree of "huge" it will be. More significant, if the total weekend figure does fall short, is a further confirmation of a months-long trend. »


- Tom Brueggemann

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Singapore Oscar Entry 'Ilo Ilo' Nabs Four Golden Horse Awards

23 November 2013 11:58 AM, PST

"Ilo Ilo," the Singapore submission for the Best Foreign Language Oscar, just added new awards kudos to its collection of wins. The film took home the Caméra D’Or for best first feature (writer-director Anthony Chen) at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival (it played in Directors Fortnight), Best First Feature at the London Film Festival, Best Feature Film and the Fipresci Prize at Molodist in Kiev, Best Director at Mumbai Film Festival, among others. Saturday "Ilo Ilo" won four Golden Horse Awards (the Oscars of Chinese-language cinema) for Best Feature, Best New Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress against such stiff competition from films by veteran directors including Wong Kar Wai, Tsai Ming-liang, Johnnie To and Jia Zhangke.    Film Movement will release the film in Spring 2014.   »


- Anne Thompson

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Daniel Brühl Talks Formula 1 Star Niki Lauda, 'Rush' and 'The Fifth Estate' (Exclusive Video)

23 November 2013 11:08 AM, PST

Meet another master of accents. Spanish/German star Daniel Brühl not only co-starred with Benedict Cumberbatch in "The Fifth Estate," the opening night film at September's Toronto International FIlm Festival, but with Chris Hemsworth in another international story based on real people, "Rush," directed by Ron Howard. When "Rush" debuted in Toronto, also grabbing a round of applause was the man Brühl was playing, legendary Formula 1 racer Niki Lauda, his face still scarred by a near-fatal 1976 racing crash. In “The Fifth Estate” Brühl plays Berliner Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who falls under the sway of Australian WikiLeaks founder Julian AssangeBill Condon's timely and ambitious portrait of the many ways that the Internet has changed the way information--even classified documents-- has boosted Brühl's profile stateside, where he is best known for his role as a Nazi hero in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" and a supporting role in "The Bourne »


- Anne Thompson

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50th Anniversary of JFK Assassination: Why It Was Only Lee Harvey Oswald Who Shot President Kennedy (Video)

23 November 2013 10:58 AM, PST

Must admit: There was a period during my high school days when I was at least slightly agnostic while weighing the official verdict of the Warren Commission against all the alternative explanations and conspiracies. But that was a long time ago. Today I believe, as I have believed for decades, that it was Lee Harvey Oswald, and only Lee Harvey Oswald, who fired the shots that changed the world on Nov. 22, 1963. Yes, I know there are many people -- some of them apparently quite reasonable and intelligent, and doubtless worthy of respect -- who believe otherwise. They believe that some group or groups of nefarious individuals -- rogue CIA operatives, Castro-directed hit men, agents of the military-industrial complex, whatever -- colluded to plot and commit the crime of the 20th century, perhaps with, but more likely without, Oswald serving as either willing participant or luckless patsy.But I seriously doubt »

- Joe Leydon

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Best of the Week: Awards Season in Full Bloom, the Survival Film Renaissance, Fab Fonda Upstages Lee Daniels & More

23 November 2013 10:58 AM, PST

The top stories of the week from Toh!Awards:Awards Circuit: Things I Learned at the Governors Awards and Other Weekend PartiesAwards Season Update and Calendar: Critics and Guilds Pack in Movies in Order to Vote in Wide Open RaceOscar Talk: Who's Ahead in the Oscar Race, Post-afi Fest and the Governors Awards, Documentaries and Beyond (Podcast)Outfest Toasts Lee Daniels with Legacy Award While Fab Jane Fonda Channels Barbarella Ten Live Action Short Films Make Oscar ShortlistTOH! Predicts the 15 Shortlisted Oscar DocumentariesFeatures:cine-list: Five Must-See Survival FilmsCrafts Roundup: A Survivor's Journey in Production Design"Out of the Furnace," Into the Reality of Rampano FamiliesSTREAM This: Six Essential Paranoid Thrillers of the 60s and 70sTOH! Ranks the Films of the Coen Brothers from Best, "No Country for Old Men," to Worst: What's Your Pick?Interviews:"All Is Lost" Far from Silent, Even with No DialogueErrol Morris Stands Up for Unapologetic Donald Rumsfeld Doc "The. »


- TOH!

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Ten Live Action Short Films Make Oscar Shortlist

22 November 2013 2:07 PM, PST

Ten Live Action Short films eligible for the Oscar will move forward to the next round. It's a global array of shorts that Academy shorts branch voters will narrow down once again to three to five films when Academy Award nominations are unveiled on January 16, 2014. Jonas Cuaron's "Gravity"-related short "Aningaak" did not make the cut. The final 10 are: "Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)," Esteban Crespo, director (Producciones Africanauan) "Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just before Losing Everything)," Xavier Legrand, director, and Alexandre Gavras, producer (Kg Productions) "Dva (Two)," Mickey Nedimovic, director, and Henner Besuch, director of photography (Filoufilm Dani Barsch) "Helium," Anders Walter, director, and Kim Magnusson, producer (M & M Productions) "Kush," Shubhashish Bhutiani, director (Red Carpet Moving Pictures) "Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)," Selma Vilhunen, director, and Kirsikka Saari, »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Stream This: Six Essential Paranoid Thrillers of the 60s and 70s

22 November 2013 1:23 PM, PST

Beginning in the 1960s with the shock of the new Hollywood, the waves of cultural sea change in the U.S. were reflected onscreen. The cinematic renderings of our fears and desires at this moment in time took on many shapes. But perhaps the best gift that moviemaking heyday gave us was the paranoid thriller, a genre that took on a life of its own in confronting political conspiracy, social alienation and self-deception. So without further ado, here are six that any self-respecting film fan must see.1. "The Conversation" Dir. Francis Ford Coppola (Netflix) Though everyone says "The Godfather" is Coppola's masterpiece, he was admittedly working for hire to make such smaller-scale art films as "The Conversation" two years later, a quiet study in alienation starring Gene Hackman as San Francisco surveillance expert Harry Caul. Hackman was the go-to man for urban paranoid thrillers in the 1970s -- a real »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Outfest Toasts Lee Daniels with Legacy Award While Fab Jane Fonda Channels Barbarella (Clips)

22 November 2013 11:25 AM, PST

In Downtown La's Orpheum Theater November 21, Outfest honored "Precious" and "The Butler" director Lee Daniels with the Legacy Award, the Lgbt film nonprofit's equivalent of a lifetime achievement award. Clips from his films below. Daniels, 53, has enjoyed a remarkable career, and one that is far from over. From directorial debut "Shadowboxer" to admirable misfire "The Paperboy" -- which sent brief shockwaves along the Croisette at last year's Cannes -- as well as production stints on "Monster's Ball" and "The Woodsman," Daniels is one of our most fabulous makers of camp. "What the fuck is camp?" Daniels jibed in his acceptance speech. "I am camp. Camp is what I do."  His "Lee Daniels' The Butler," however, is far from camp, a sterling, tearjerking awards hopeful and a far cry from the dismal urban wasteland of "Precious" or the southern swelter of "The Paperboy," two films that hit hard, but brandish visual »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Trailers from Hell: Larry Karaszewski on Soviet Union World War II Masterpiece 'Come and See'

22 November 2013 11:05 AM, PST

All This and World War II! concludes at Trailers from Hell, with screenwriter Larry Karaszewski introducing harrowing 1980s international arthouse classic "Come and See," from director Elem Klimov.Klimov’s powerful, near-surrealistic battle fantasia nearly made it into Tfh’s “More Movies You Never Heard Of” category. The title is an invitation to view the destruction caused by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The movie, from the Soviet Union, is a fixture on many critics’ Ten Best of All Time lists. Its obscurity is hugely out of proportion to its accomplishment. Commissioned to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Soviet victory in Ww II, it’s the glasnost version of Apocalypse Now. The director, having made his point, never made another film.The film made it on to cinematographer Roger Deakins' greatest films of all time list. »


- Trailers From Hell

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Watch: In First Clip from Scorsese's 'Wolf of Wall Street,' DiCaprio and Hill Assess the Loot

22 November 2013 10:41 AM, PST

A first clip has arrived from Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" (December 25). Watch below. In the clip, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill assess what seems to be a not-so-foolproof method of money transport -- taping it to a scantily clad woman's body. Not featured in the scene but also starring are Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Jon Favreau, Rob Reiner and Jean Dujardin. The film is adapted from hard-partying former Wall Street broker Jordan Belfort's memoir of the same title. Watch the most recent trailer for the film here. »


- Beth Hanna

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'All Is Lost' Is Far from Silent, Even with No Dialogue (Video)

22 November 2013 10:37 AM, PST

In space or on the ocean, no one can hear you scream. Comparisons abound between solo adventures "Gravity" and "All Is Lost," but unlike space, the ocean is far from silent. So although J.C. Chandor's remarkable open-water survival thriller (starring a 77-year-old Robert Redford boldly stepping out of his comfort zone) is virtually dialogue-free, the director was totally on board with making the sound design a driving narrative force.  That was up to supervising sound editors Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns of Skywalker Sound. "Selfishly, I thought this was a great opportunity for sound to play an important role without having to convince the director," admits Boeddeker ("Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Seven"), who also served as the film's sound designer/re-recording mixer. "J.C. said he wanted very little dialogue and almost no music. He wanted to use them as punctuation marks so that the story was told with acting, »


- Bill Desowitz

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Steven Spielberg Honored by Foundation for the National Archives for His Work in Historical Filmmaking

22 November 2013 9:26 AM, PST

The Foundation for the National Archives presented its 2013 Records of Achievement Award to director Steven Spielberg at a black-tie gala at the National Archives on November 19.The event featured an awards program and conversation between Spielberg and gala chair Ken Burns on the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. The Records of Achievement Award is a tribute to an individual whose work has cultivated a broader national awareness of the history and identity of the United States through the use of original records, including those preserved by the National Archives. The Foundation recognized three-time Oscar winner Spielberg for his contributions as the helmer of “Lincoln” and other historical films including “Saving Private Ryan,” “Amistad,” “The Color Purple” and “Schindler’s List.” He also was honored for his work in establishing the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, which has created the world’s largest video archive on a single. »


- Beth Hanna

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Oscar Talk: Who's Ahead in the Oscar Race, Post-afi Fest and the Governors Awards, Documentaries and Beyond

22 November 2013 9:11 AM, PST

Kris Tapley and I get back into the Oscar race, covering the AFI Fest showings of "Out of the Furnace," "Saving Mr. Banks," and "Lone Survivor." We get into the documentary short list, the opening of "Inside Llewyn Davis" and "Nebraska," and how the top contenders worked the room at the Governors' Awards.  Listen to this month's Oscar Talk below. »


- Anne Thompson

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Watch: Lena Dunham, Adam Driver and All the Rest Return in First Trailer for 'Girls' Season Three

22 November 2013 9:08 AM, PST

The first trailer has landed for HBO's "Girls" third season, from writer-director-star Lena Dunham. Watch below. So what are Hannah Horvath et al up to in this new installment of the series? Hannah's back together with Adam (Adam Driver), though she's not too crazy about woodland walks he may take her on, nor a new office job she seems to have secured. It looks to be more of the same for Marnie (Allison Williams), who repeats that's she "Ok," which of course means that she's not Ok. (Her boyfriend, played by Christopher Abbott, up and quit the show, so we know he won't be returning.) Shoshanna and Ray (Zosia Mamet and Alex Karpinsky) appear wistful post-breakup, and Jessa (Jemima Kirke) has reappeared post-mysterious hiatus, and looks to be dealing with an unreliable friend of her own. The series returns with back-to-back episodes on January 12. »


- Beth Hanna

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Film Independent's Documentary Lab Now Accepting Submissions

22 November 2013 8:45 AM, PST

Film Independent's Documentary Lab is now accepting submissions to its seven-week program running in Los Angeles in March and April. Documentary directors currently in post-production on their feature length films are encouraged to apply. The Lab’s focus is twofold: (1) to provide creative feedback and story notes; and (2) to help filmmakers strategize the completion, distribution and marketing of their film. Several guest speaker sessions with established documentary filmmakers are also a key component of the program.Visit Film Independent's website to apply by Monday, December 2. »

- Beth Hanna

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Watch: Terrific and Nsfw First Full Trailer for Lars Von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac'

22 November 2013 8:22 AM, PST

A really terrific first full-length trailer has arrived for Lars Von Trier's "Nymphomaniac," and as to be expected, it's Nsfw. Watch below. The film, which stars Charlotte Gainsbourg, Shia Labeouf, Uma Thurman, Willem Dafoe, Jamie Bell, Stellan Skarsgard, Stacy Martin, Christian Slater and Udo Kier, hits stateside theaters in early 2014, with a world premiere in Denmark on December 25. (You can see all of the above actors' O-faces in the naughty series of posters that was released last month.) »


- Beth Hanna

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Five Films to See This Weekend: 'Hunger Games,' Dench Oscar Bid 'Philomena,' Drug War Doc 'Narco Cultura' & More

21 November 2013 1:24 PM, PST

Something for everyone this weekend. While most moviegoers will flock to the new "Hunger Games" film, which looks to break box office records around the world, Oscar hopeful "Philomena" arrives in select cities after its festival sweep, and new Vince Vaughn vehicle "Delivery Man" gets a wide release. Doc lovers, head to "Narco Cultura" if not "Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?" Trailers after the jump. "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" is as terrific as everybody says it is. It took at least three great writers to massage Suzanne Collins' second novel in her bestselling "Hunger Games" trilogy into a taut, thrilling movie balanced between reluctant symbol Katniss Everdeen's pure mission to protect her family by surviving and her conflicted feelings for her two loving swains, Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). Jennifer Lawrence carries this movie on her shoulders with nary a wrong move--athletic but feminine, »


- TOH!

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