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Weinsteins Go New Media with 'August: Osage County' as Streep Limits Press Access, Pursue Awards Influencers in New Way (Streep Talks Video)

27 November 2013 10:10 AM, PST

What does the mighty New York Times do when there's no Meryl Streep interview? They do a write-around. Streep was a no-show at the "August: Osage County" unveiling and press conference at the Toronto Film Festival, allowing others to speak for her. (Early press reaction was mixed.) Instead she did the one thing press-shy folks must do: a press conference posted on YouTube (below). "There was a great liberation in playing that character," says Meryl Streep of her out-sized angry family matriarch, which was based on playwright/screenwriter Tracy Letts' grandmother, "and the frustration of a certain generation of women who had so many areas shut off."  In the awards derby this exuberant, noisy family drama will play best with actors, so it makes perfect sense that the ever-canny Weinsteins would work overtime to get actors to see the film. For the first time for any distributor, TWC is »


- Anne Thompson

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Screenwriters on Writing: NY Times Asks Linklater, Polley, Holofcener, Delpy, Gerwig and More About the Art of the Film Script

27 November 2013 9:12 AM, PST

The New York Times queried  14 talented screenwriters, asking simple questions like "What's the trick to writing realistic dialogue?," and many of the responses are fascinating. A highlight of answers below, from Richard Linklater ("Before Midnight"), Greta Gerwig ("Frances Ha"), Nicole Holofcener ("Enough Said"), Sarah Polley ("Stories We Tell"), Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy (both "Before Midnight") and more. Gerwig on a good screenwriting tip:Whenever you have an “idea,” as in a concept that you could explain to someone, like a hook or at worst a gimmick, that is a bad thing. It feels good, but it’s not good. The best ideas reveal themselves, you don’t “have” them. For me, anyway.Let your characters talk to each other and do things. Spend time with them — they’ll tell you who they are and what they’re up to.Hawke on the trick to writing a heartbreaking scene:There is no trick »


- Beth Hanna

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Watch: Quentin Tarantino Tells Jay Leno About His Next Film -- "It's Another Western" But Not a 'Django Unchained' Sequel

27 November 2013 8:47 AM, PST

Quentin Tarantino, grateful to Jay Leno for the late night host's years of support in helping to spread the word on his films, gave Leno a juicy tidbit on last night's show. Tarantino told Leno the scoop on his next film: "It's a Western. It's another Western. It's not a 'Django' sequel." More below, plus watch the video.  Tarantino went on to say: "I had so much fun doing 'Django,' and I love Westerns so much that after I taught myself how to make one, I was like, 'Let me make another one, now that I know what I'm doing.'" »


- Beth Hanna

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On Landing My First Job in the Business on Martin Scorsese's 'Mean Streets'

26 November 2013 3:55 PM, PST

10 pm.  Nyu Film School, The East Building 8th floor, Editing Room.    "Who wants to work on a movie?" a voice pitched, over the din of old time moviolas. We worked on the same ultra durable film sewing machine used by all the studios in their heyday. (It now occurs to me that maybe these are what inspired "Star Wars Episode V’"s At Walkers.) We used a form of scotch tape to make temp edits, and carefully scraped the tape with razor blades to carve the film sprocket holes, a frustrating and messy business.  Hours melted away. Time stood still.Every wannabe filmmaker in the editing bay just wanted to finish and be done. "I need two camera assistants… a gaffer and…a script girl," announced the voice I now recognized as Mitchell, our Ta. Groans were heard. "Ok, there’s coffee in it, on me," definitely sounding like Mitchell. »


- Nancy Nigrosh

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After Years in Shadow, Indie Spirit Nominee '20 Feet From Stardom' Lets Backup Singers Take Center Stage (Updated)

26 November 2013 1:01 PM, PST

"20 Feet from Stardom" may be "the most prayed-over documentary in history," says filmmaker Morgan Neville, anxiously eyeing the clouds gathering over Manhattan. He had flown in to New York that Saturday afternoon for the New York premiere of his music documentary. But the planned venue was outside, on the rooftop of New Design High School on the Lower East Side -- and open to the elements. But Neville had a secret weapon against the threatening weather from an unlikely place: the very women whose stories form the backbone of his moving documentary. "The whole time I was making the film," Neville said over the phone, "they would call me and say, 'Morgan, we're praying for you. We're praying for this film--you're all prayed up.'" Sure enough, the clouds scudded away as the sun set, and a beautiful early summer night emerged as the movie screen sprang to life. Neville »


- Jacob Combs

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Indie Spirit Nominees, Frontrunners, Disappointments, Oscar Impact: '12 Years a Slave,' 'Nebraska,' 'All is Lost' Lead the Pack

26 November 2013 11:44 AM, PST

The Independent Spirit Awards, the indie alternative to the Oscars, limits eligibility to American films produced for less than $21 million. Thus a flurry of emails went out ahead of the Indie Spirit nominations announcement Tuesday morning that various films did not meet that requirement. Thus "The Butler," "August: Osage County," "Out of Furnace" and "Lone Survivor" were not in the running, along with Canadian documentary "Stories We Tell." These nominations have a great deal of impact on the road to the Oscars as they help critics and various Academy and Guild voters to add lower-profile titles to their must-see piles. Most important: these nominations provide winning momentum to potential contenders. The ones who did not make the Indie Spirit cut have lost the chance to add that wind to their sails and will have a much harder time gaining traction.  Coming out way ahead is Fox Searchlight's "12 Years a Slave, »


- Anne Thompson

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Sandra Bullock Talks Banner Year, Love for 'Downton Abbey,' Her Dating Life and More as EW's Entertainer of 2013

26 November 2013 11:33 AM, PST

In this week's edition of Entertainment Weekly (on newsstands November 27), the mag sits down with one of their Entertainers of the Year, Sandra Bullock, to talk her banner 2013 with Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity" and Paul Feig's "The Heat." Interview highlights, below.Who else made the Entertainers list? Miley Cyrus, Netflix, Matthew McConaughey, the cast of "Scandal" and Pharell Williams, among nine others.Entertainment Weekly: Just before The Heat came out, you told me it was the greatest love story of your career.Sandra Bullock: Melissa and I had that loving, weird connection where we just went, “Wow, you can’t buy it, you can’t manufacture it.” We’re so different in our comedy styles, but somehow they complemented each other and we were a modern odd couple.EW: You really let Melissa shine in a big way. Was that hard on the ego?Bullock: Yeah, I mean, »


- Beth Hanna

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Crafts Roundup: The Year of Cinematographers Capturing Turmoil On Screen

26 November 2013 11:15 AM, PST

It's been a great year for cinematography, with such an emphasis on survival, turmoil and trying to find beauty or redemption within the suffering. "Gravity," "12 Years a Slave," "Captain Phillips," "Nebraska," "Inside Llewyn Davis," "The Grandmaster," and "Rush" are among the standouts. Whether they used digital or film, the results are organic to theme and design. Will Emmanuel ("Chivo") Lubezki finally get his Oscar for "Gravity"? Maybe so, if you look at the recent digital trend that saw Claudio Miranda ("Life of Pi"), Bob Richardson ("Hugo"), and Mauro Fiore ("Avatar") take the award for three out of the last four years.  For Lubezki's first foray into virtual production, he achieved a breathtaking photo-realism that approximates the Nasa photos and IMAX films that he benchmarked, while delivering the long, continuous takes in CG that are a hallmark of director Alfonso Cuaron's visual style. But he needed the Light Box to help solve a very complicated. »


- Bill Desowitz

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Variance Acquires Eliza Hittman's Sundance 2013 Fave 'It Felt Like Love'

26 November 2013 11:03 AM, PST

Variance Films has snapped up Us theatrical rights to first-time feature filmmaker Eliza Hittman's coming-of-age film "It Felt Like Love." They are planning an early 2014 theatrical release. The title has had a robust festival run, premiering at Sundance this past January and going on to play Rotterdam, BAMCinemaFEST, London BFI and the Viennale. It was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the Sarasota Film Festival, and teenage lead Gina Piersanti won the Best Actress award at the Nashville Film Festival. Here's the official synopsis:It Felt Like Love tells the story of Lila (Gina Piersanti in a stunning debut), a fourteen-year-old spending a hot summer in a blue-collar Brooklyn neighborhood far removed from the bustling city.  Awkward, lonely, and often playing the third wheel, Lila is determined to emulate the sexual exploits of her more experienced best friend.  She fixates on Sammy, a tough older guy, when she hears that "he'll sleep with anyone. »


- Beth Hanna

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Watch: Smart and Hilarious Video Mashup of 'It's A Wonderful Life' Cut Like 'The Wolf of Wall Street' Trailer

26 November 2013 9:43 AM, PST

Check out this spot-on video mashup of Frank Capra's holiday classic "It's A Wonderful Life" as cut to the beats of the trailer for Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street." Never thought you'd see Jimmy Stewart edited to Kanye West? Well, here's your chance. Owen Weber, who put together the smart and funny mashup, has titled it "The Wolf of Bedford Falls." Watch below. »


- Beth Hanna

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How Have Women Fared in Film Over the Last Five Years? (Graphs)

26 November 2013 9:11 AM, PST

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" caught box office fire this past weekend as a female-led action film. In timely fashion, the New York Film Academy has created a lengthy graphic showing that, despite the winningly tough likes of Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss Everdeen or Jena Malone's Johanna Mason, quite a lot of work still needs to be done in the film industry toward gender equality. This is the obvious thing that always bears repeating. Issues broached in the graphs include percentages of female speaking characters, percentages of female characters called upon to wear "sexy" clothing or get partially naked (versus their male counterparts), percentages of documentaries made by women versus narrative films, and much more. All is looked at within the prism of the last five years. Check it all out, below. The Hollywood Reporter's Actress round table recently broached the issue of women in film, and the no-bullshit Emma Thompson pointed out that, »


- Beth Hanna

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Watch: THR's Actress Round Table with Oprah, Julia Roberts, Emma Thompson, Octavia Spencer, Amy Adams and Lupita Nyong'o (Video)

25 November 2013 1:22 PM, PST

The Hollywood Reporter's round table series adds its next installment Monday morning, assembling actresses Oprah Winfrey ("Lee Daniels' The Butler"), Julia Roberts ("August: Osage County"), Emma Thompson ("Saving Mr. Banks"), Octavia Spencer ("Fruitvale Station"), Amy Adams ("American Hustle") and Lupita Nyong'o ("12 Years a Slave") to talk everything from summoning tears for Steven Spielberg to, er, "muff shots." Quote highlights below, plus full video. Missing from the panel are established actresses and strong Oscar contenders who don't like to travel from their hometowns -- Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep and Judi Dench.On the best or worst piece of advice they've been given in Hollywood:Julia Roberts: It's going to be a long hour.Octavia Spencer: Well, I'll break that ice. When I first started acting, my acting teacher said, "Imagine if you're doing a scene and someone is out in the hall. If it sounds like you're doing a scene, »


- Beth Hanna

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L.A. Press Club's Luminary Career Achievement Award Goes to La Times Film Critic Kenneth Turan

25 November 2013 12:27 PM, PST

I recently went up to L.A. Times film critic Kenny Turan at a screening (where his laugh is as instantly recognizable as James L. Brooks' honk) and said, "Don't tell people you've been going to Cannes for 40 years!" That's because my biggest fear is that yet another newspaper will decide that their esteemed and popular daily film critic is too expensive for the job he is doing as well as he ever has. Luckily Turan forges steadily ahead and fingers crossed that he will continue to do so for years to come. Well, another sign of maturity and respect is winning awards. Congrats to Turan for nabbing the Los Angeles Press Club’s Luminary Award for Career Achievement. See the La Times internal memo below: To the staff: It’s a pleasure to report that Kenny Turan has been honored with the Los Angeles Press Club’s Luminary Award for Career Achievement. »


- Anne Thompson

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James Franco, Carlos Reygadas, Andrew Bujalski and More Are Cinema Eye Heterodox Nominees for Blurring Narrative-Nonfiction Lines

25 November 2013 11:34 AM, PST

The Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking have unveiled the five nominees for its fourth annual Cinema Eye Heterodox Award, honoring a narrative film that imaginatively incorporates nonfiction strategies, content and/or modes of production. The 2014 Heterodox Awards will be presented at the 7th Annual Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking on January 8, 2014, at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York.The Five Nominees for the 2013 Cinema Eye Heterodox Award:Computer ChessDirected by Andrew BujalskiMasterfully evoking the nerdy world of artificial intelligence engineers at a weekend computer chess convention, Andrew Bujalski’s 1980-set feature feels like a low-fi emissary from a pre-networked age. Shot in black-and-white on vintage video cameras, Computer Chess’s near-anthropological recreation is enormously witty — a loopy commentary on social ritual mediated by technology.  Escape From TomorrowDirected by Randy MooreThe copyrighted images of the Walt »


- Beth Hanna

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Watch: Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski Directs Blanchett, Redford, Ejiofor and Many More in 11 Gorgeous Short Films

25 November 2013 11:14 AM, PST

Here's a nifty thing. Oscar-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski directed 11 very short films for the New York Times Magazine, and the Times has a released a behind-the-scenes video of Kaminski directing the likes of Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Oprah Winfrey, Adele Exarchopoulos, Forest Whitaker, Oscar Isaac, Greta Gerwig, Michael B. Jordan and Julia Louis-Dreyfus for the projects. Check it out, below. The short films begin premiering live on the New York Times' YouTube channel later today. »


- Beth Hanna

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Trailers from Hell: Dan Ireland on 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,' Starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton with Gloves Off

25 November 2013 11:05 AM, PST

Who's Afraid of Richard Pryor's Sneakers! kicks off at Trailers from Hell, with filmmaker Dan Ireland introducing Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton classic "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"Writer-director Mike Nichols, then known for broadway comedies and his satirical work with Elaine May, surprised everyone by choosing Edward Albee’s incendiary psychodrama Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf as his motion picture debut. Filmed on the campus of Smith College in Massachusetts, it’s a cinematic one-two punch thanks to the gloves-off performances of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor (who bulked-up to a fighting weight of 155 lbs). Taylor snagged an Oscar (along with co-star Sandy Dennis and cinematographer Haskell Wexler). Albee had wanted James Mason and Bette Davis for the leads (in 1980 Nichols and May themselves starred in a New Haven revival). »


- Trailers From Hell

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Book Review: 'A Life of Barbara Stanwyck,' at 1000 Pages, Builds a Living Thing

25 November 2013 10:16 AM, PST

“A Life of Barbara Stanwyck” by Victoria Wilson ends abruptly in 1940. Still ahead are “The Lady Eve” and “Ball of Fire,” “Meet John Doe” and “Double Indemnity,” not to mention more than 40 other movies and four years as the matriarch of a sprawling 19th century ranch on the television series, “The Big Valley.”Yet the book, which takes Stanwyck from birth in 1907 to the age of 37 and stardom in a town she hated for the “pretense” of its “so self-important” people, is exactly 1000 pages long if you include its meticulous stage, film, radio and television chronologies and notes on sources. And it has a cast of thousands, with each director, actor or owner of a speakeasy Stanwyck encounters given not only his own backstory but the histories of the people with whom he has worked or played. Carole Lombard, for example, tended the “cows, chickens, ducks, pair of mules, goat, »


- Aljean Harmetz

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Things I Learned at the First Screening of David O. Russell's 'American Hustle' (Video)

25 November 2013 10:09 AM, PST

Amy Adams came up with the idea of having Jennifer Lawrence give her a big smack on the lips in the scene pictured above, Adams revealed at a Q & A following the first industry screening on the Sony lot of David O. Russell's "American Hustle" on November 24. "I don't know why, maybe I just wanted to kiss Jennifer," said Adams. "She's so cute...I'm fearful. I'll do anything with a lot of thought, I'll throw myself in there. She is fearless, it's really cool to be in that company. She's a remarkable woman at 22." (For evidence, not only check out the "Silver Linings Playbook" Oscar-winner's box office record-breaker "Hunger Games: Catching Fire," but her face-off with Jon Stewart, below.)  "So often a chemical fight has a sexuality in it," added Russell. "It was a toxic idea in a toxic exchange. It was Jennifer's toxic good-bye."  Judging by how the »


- Anne Thompson

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'Best Man Holiday,' 'Black Nativity' and 'Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas' Join Banner Year for Black Filmmakers

25 November 2013 9:37 AM, PST

Joining what is proving to be a banner year for movies by black filmmakers  including "12 Years a Slave," "Lee DanielsThe Butler" and "Fruitvale Station": Three films with yuletide themes and settings timed to the holiday season.All come bearing plots that center on family and friends as well as source material that is already familiar to much of their target audiences. Where they differ is in tone and MPAA rating -- the better to spread the cheer among all ages. "The Best Man Holiday," which opened to a strong  $30.6 million and nearly beat "Thor: The Dark World" in its second week, is an R-rated reunion of old friends that were first introduced in 1999’s comedy "The Best Man." Since that time, the careers of such cast members  as Terrence Howard, Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Harold Perrineau Jr., Regina Hall, Sanaa Latham, Nia Long and Taye Diggs have taken off. »


- Susan Wloszczyna

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Emma Thompson Talks Oscars, Herpes, 'Saving Mr. Banks,' and Talking Back to Ang Lee in 'A Life in Pictures' BAFTA Q&A

25 November 2013 9:03 AM, PST

With her role as "Mary Poppins" author P.L. Travers in "Saving Mr. Banks" injecting fresh impetus into a career that’s already blessed with two Oscars (Best Actress for "Howard's End" and Best Adapted Screenplay for "Sense And Sensibility"), Emma Thompson made the ideal subject for BAFTA’s latest installment of their “A Life In Pictures” series. During a breezy 90-minute interview, Thompson covered the gamut of a career that began in sketch comedy; soared in the 1990s on both sides of the Atlantic with leading roles in "The Remains Of The Day," "Sense And Sensibility" and "Primary Colors" before seguing into supporting roles in the following decade; took detours into script doctoring and her family franchise "Nanny McPhee," which she wrote and headlined; and is back on a fast track with "Saving Mr. Banks."Thompson was her usual breezy self, keeping it light, banter-y and self-deprecating. Upon watching a »


- Matt Mueller

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