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Exclusive Video: Oscar Nominee Jonah Hill Opens Up About 'The Wolf of Wall Street'

26 January 2014 3:15 PM, PST

Jonah Hill wanted to do "The Wolf of Wall Street" because Martin Scorsese is his favorite director of all time. ("Goodfellas" is his favorite.) He got to audition and waited two months before he got the word. He believed that no one else could play the part better than he could. So he told critic Annette Insdorf before a recent screening of the film, now nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture, at New York's 92Y. Hill is among the Best Supporting Actor nominees for his performance as Donnie Azoff, Jordan Belfort's (Leonardo DiCaprio) sad sack, drug-addled partner-in-crime. In the exclusive video interview below, Hill discusses the balance of drama and comedy in "Wolf," working with Scorsese and DiCaprio, what he owes Dustin Hoffman, ad-libbing, quaaludes and more. »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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International Film Festival Rotterdam Showcases--and Supports-- Emerging Talent (Trailers)

26 January 2014 3:01 PM, PST

The International Film Festival Rotterdam mandate is the discovery and display of new talent.  Like its home city, filled with mind-bending modern architecture by the likes of native son Rem Koolhaas (who boasts a co-writer credit on the noir film "The White Slave" as well as an unproduced script for Russ Meyer -- who knew?), the festival favors edgy, arty films from around the world that for the most part are unlikely to open in the U.S.  Definitely not the usual suspects. Rotterdam Iff is not a deal-making event like Sundance, for example.  Rather, it aims to find support, financial and artistic, for talented new filmmakers.  Those looking for funding support can pitch their projects at the Cinemart.  The Hivos Tiger Awards, a small competition of 15 first or second features, highlights emerging filmmakers.  At the heart of the festival is the "Bright Future" section of first or second films. »


- Torene Svitil

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Turner Classic Movies Adds Film Noir Programmer Eddie Muller as On-Air Host (Exclusive)

26 January 2014 2:27 PM, PST

At the Saturday night screening of "Noir City" in San Francisco, Eddie Muller revealed that he will be joining Turner Classic Movies as an on-air host. Muller appeared on TCM last January to present a four-film "Night in Noir City," which was so successful that he was invited back in June to host TCM's "Friday Night Spotlight" showcasing 16 films by such noir writers as Dashiell Hammett and James M. Cain. A jubilant Muller said that the most important thing about his three-year contract was that it was non-exclusive, meaning that he could continue to do his work restoring films with the Film Noir Foundation -- the announcement was made by treasurer Alan K. Rode -- and presenting film noir festivals around the world.  As Muller wrote in his introduction to the 12th Annual San Francisco Film Noir Festival, "...TCM has provided valuable behind-the-scenes help to the Fnf's restoration and preservation efforts. »


- Meredith Brody

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Who Needs an Oscar Nod? 'Gloria' Scores Strong Initial Numbers Along with 'Stranger by the Lake' and 'Visitors'

26 January 2014 1:27 PM, PST

The new year has its first potential subtitled success with the strong opening of Chile Oscar submission "Gloria" (Roadside Attractions), which surprisingly did not make the Foreign Language shortlist. Opening with a slightly higher per screen average than "No," Chile's nominee last year (which starred Gael Garcia Bernal), "Gloria" benefited from strong reviews and interest in new films as multiple longer-running films continue to linger in theaters. Two other limited films, "Stranger by the Lake" (Strand) and "Visitors" (Cinedigm) also showed some initial spark that could translate into further interest as they expand. Otherwise, most specialized audiences continued to patronize the numerous Oscar contenders playing in multi-hundred screen breaks. Opening "Gloria" (Roadside Attractions) - Criticwire: A-; Cinemascore: 85; Festivals include Berlin 2013, Telluride 2013, Toronto 2013, New York 2013, AFI 2013 $58,800 in 3 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $19,800 This is the best »


- Tom Brueggemann

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Box Office Top Ten: Action Holdovers and Animated Hits Edge Out Costly Bellyflop 'I, Frankenstein'

26 January 2014 10:04 AM, PST

Despite a flopping new wide release ("I, Frankenstein"), grosses for the Top 10 this weekend actually enjoyed a healthy jump over last year ($91 million up from $81), showing strength from two unexpectedly big Universal films ("Ride Along" and "Lone Survivor"), two animated features ("Frozen" and "The Nut Job") and sustained interest in several Oscar contenders led by "American Hustle." A year ago, two horror-genre films ranked #1 and 2 as "Hansel and Gretel" and "Mama" grossed $32 million, a big chunk of the total. This year, a new horror film ("I, Frankenstein") badly underperformed at number 6 with a miserable $8.3 million, even though its title character is the biggest one in Universal's stable of scary icons. The top films show a healthy diversity of subjects and appeal, although  the weak showing from the core younger audience continues to reveal a more serious problem ahead as older-appeal films wane going into the spring season. 1. Ride Along (Universal »


- Tom Brueggemann

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Watch: Jonah Hill Hosts A Fantastic SNL with Surprise from Leonardo DiCaprio

26 January 2014 9:46 AM, PST

Jonah Hill hosted Saturday Night Live this week and stands as one of the best hosts of the season so far. The best moment of the evening was a surprise visit from Leonardo DiCaprio during Hill's monologue. Hill was pretending to show-boat about his Oscar nominations and peg himself as the real powerhouse behind "The Wolf of Wall Street" when DiCaprio snuck onto the stage and turned Hill's arrogance into a teaching moment. They were adorable.  For the rest of the evening, Hill reprised his character of Adam Grossman, a six-year-old with a bounty of ancient stand-up jokes in his back pocket, ready to entertain all patrons at Benihana. Hill made a subtly ironic turn in a commercial for a sequel to "Her" called "Me" in which he voiced his own version of Samantha. (Michael Cera made an hilarious cameo.) He also crashed the skit of ex-porn stars trying to »


- Maggie Lange

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Alfonso Cuaron Wins Best Director at DGA Awards (Full Winners List)

25 January 2014 10:58 PM, PST

Historically speaking, whoever wins the 2014 Directors Guild of America Award for Best Director becomes the likely winner at the Academy Awards. This year, "Gravity" director Alfonso Cuaron won the feature film prize at the DGAs and should start getting ready to say hello to Oscar. A live-blog of the winners below, plus the full list after the jump.  10:57 Pm Alfonso Cuaron, natch, wins the award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film. "Thank you everyone. Let's have a drink." Amen. 10:49 Pm Accepting his nominee medallion, Alfonso Cuaron gets big laughs: "Move the actor as little as possible and move the universe around the actor. That's pretty much how actors work, right?" Cuaron says he was inspired by Steven Spielberg's early effort "Duel" and the work of Robert Bresson to make "Gravity." The DGAs will take a "commercial" break -- to honor directorial achievements in commercials, of course »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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'Whiplash' Wins Dramatic Competition Grand Jury and Audience Awards at 2014 Sundance Film Festival (Updated)

25 January 2014 8:29 PM, PST

Saturday night's Sundance Film Festival Awards Ceremony, co-hosted by the husband and wife team of Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, was livestreamed (below).  The U.S. Dramatic Competition Grand Jury Prize goes to Damien Chazelle's "Whiplash," which also won the Dramatic Audience Award. "My first time last year was with the short," says Chazelle. "Without Sundance showing the short we would not be here."  The U.S. Grand Jury Prize for Documentary goes to "Rich Hill," directed by Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo. "It's a small film but we've got a big heart," says Tragos. "We dedicate this to the families in Rich Hill, Missouri." The Documentary Competition Audience Award goes to Michael Rossato-Bennett's "Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory."  The Dramatic directing prize  goes to Cutter Hodierne for "Fishing Without Nets." "This is my first feature film," he said. "We went to the opposite side of the world. »


- Anne Thompson

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Sundance Panel: Spotlight on Women Directors Kennedy, Walker, Helfand, Lynch (Exclusive Video)

25 January 2014 3:50 PM, PST

At Sundance I had the opportunity to moderate a Spotlight on Women Directors panel featuring four prominent women in documentaries: Rory Kennedy ("Last Days in Vietnam"), Lucy Walker ("The Lion's Mouth Opens"), Chicken & Egg's Judith Helfand ("Everything's Cool") and Shola Lynch ("Free Angela and All Political Prisoners"). These demanding filmmakers share how sexism has impacted their work, how they pick their stories, when to kill an idea when it isn't good enough, and how to decide when their films are finished.  Sundance Now programmer Thom Powers introduced the lively discussion, below.  »


- Anne Thompson

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Friday Box Office: 'Ride Along' & 'Lone Survivor' Trump Sole New Wide Release 'I, Frankenstein'

25 January 2014 12:47 PM, PST

Two Universal films ("Ride Along" and "Lone Survivor")  beat back "I, Frankenstein" (Lionsgate),  the sole new wide release. (Ironically, "Frankenstein" is a redo of the story that once was a staple for Universal.) Holdovers overall helped lift the Top 10 for the day to more than 10% above the same Friday last year (just under $26 million) as 2014 so far continues to start out with some strength. With the Super Bowl next weekend and the Winter Olympics ahead, though, it's a tenuous bump, more so when once again another horror film underperformed. "Ride Along" will be an easy #1 despite a bigger than 50% drop for the day to gross $6.3 million. "Lone Survivor" held somewhat better on its third Friday in wide release, taking in $3.6 million. "I, Frankenstein" limped in at just over $2.8 million, #3 for the day, but likely to fall back to 4 or 5 for the full weekend. Leaping over it after kids' matinees come in should be Open Road's. »


- Tom Brueggemann

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Best of the Week: Sundance Wrap & Top 10 Lists, Producers Guild Tie Shakes Up Oscar Race & More

25 January 2014 12:22 PM, PST

The top stories of the week from Toh! Awards:Does the Academy Need a Visual Imaging Category?"Gravity" and "12 Years a Slave" at PGA Awards (Winners List)Oscar Talk: Nominations and PredictionsBox Office:Friday Box Office: "Ride Along" & "Lone Survivor" Trump Sole New Wide Release "I, Frankenstein"Festivals:College Satire "Dear White People" Challenges Audiences at Sundance"Life Itself" Director Steve James Gets Up Close with Roger Ebert at the End of His Life (Exclusive Video)Meet the Man Behind the Sundance Film Festival's Valued Partner, the Sloan FoundationSundance 2014 Wrap: Discoveries, Disappointments, Breakouts & Awards Contenders (Top Ten Lists)Sundance Expands Gender Parity Initiative, Documentaries are Friendlier to WomenSundance Feeds Hungry Egos -- Some Deserving, Many NotSundance Interview: Elijah Wood & SpectreVision Team Talk "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night" & Lionsgate Pick-Up "Cooties" (Exclusive Video)Sundance Up Close: Lucy Walker's Powerful Short »


- TOH!

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Sundance 2014 Wrap: Discoveries, Disappointments, Breakouts & Awards Contenders (Top Ten Lists)

24 January 2014 1:07 PM, PST

The Sundance Film Festival is a crucible for industry trends and finding emerging talent. Festival watchers tend to focus on the weak economic prospects for many of the films showcased in Park City. The independent marketplace is slowly evolving, but there was plenty to see. So what if no one film galvanized the festival the way "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and "Fruitvale Station" did in recent years? The festival probably erred in starting off with its best offering, jazz thriller "Whiplash." No other film topped the buzz generated by this one.  While established filmmakers such as Richard Linklater (12-year exploration "Boyhood"), Michael Winterbottom (sequel "The Trip to Italy") and "The Guard"'s John Michael McDonagh (Fox Searchlight pick-up "Calvary") are returning with mature work, the festival is crammed with agents, managers, producers and execs looking for the next Miles Teller or Shailene Woodley (who both returned in new films) and the next. »


- Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna

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Listen to Joaquin Phoenix Tell All on Terry Gross's Fresh Air

24 January 2014 12:10 PM, PST

Joaquin Phoenix has enjoyed a strained relationship with his public. He's one of our great actors, from "Gladiator," which earned him one of three Oscar nominations (along with "Walk the Line" and "The Master") to Spike Jonze's "Her." But Phoenix revealed his disturbed and crazy side in Casey Affleck's mockumentary "I'm Still Here," leaving many of us wondering how much of the "performance" was truth or fiction. It had a negative impact on Phoenix's career, from which he seems to be finally recovering. He was clearly uncomfortable at the New York Film Festival press conference for "The Immigrants," so letting him talk to Fresh Air's ace interlocutor Terry Gross was a favor to all of us.  What did he reveal? Highlights: On "I'm Still Here": The only thing that bothered me was that it might be difficult for me to work again because obviously I wasn't retiring »


- Anne Thompson

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Trailers from Hell: Marshall Harvey on Albert Brooks' Otherworldly Limbo Dramedy 'Defending Your Life'

24 January 2014 12:05 PM, PST

To Live and Shake and Die in La! concludes at Trailers from Hell, with editor Marshall Harvey introducing Albert Brooks' "Defending Your Life," starring Meryl Streep and Brooks.Albert Brooks’ 1991 dramedy finds Brooks himself as a recently deceased ad executive caught in an otherworldly limbo where he must, literally, defend his life to a heavenly court in order to determine his fate in the afterlife. It’s a terrific premise but the comic possibilities are somewhat deflated by writer/director Brooks’ decision to remake himself into a bona fide romantic leading man. The newly reformed comedian ends up indulging in many of the cliches he usually skewers. With Meryl Streep as Brooks’ celestial sweetheart and the great Rip Torn as his less than angelic attorney. »


- Trailers From Hell

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Talking the Oscar-Nominated Sound Editing and Mixing of 'Lone Survivor'

24 January 2014 11:47 AM, PST

Peter Berg's underrated "Lone Survivor" received its lone Oscar nominations in the sound editing and mixing categories, but it's well-deserved. The fact-based adventure about a failed Navy Seal mission in Afghanistan grabs us by the throat and never lets up. And the sound is among the most intense and immersive experiences for a modern war film. The sound design has an emotional arc all its own: At the beginning, the sound is real smooth, almost romantic, as we're getting to know the four Seals (Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, and Ben Foster). Sounds bleed over the cut as they're talking; the sound of the helicopters is nice and round. There's nothing abrasive about it. Then, when the mission begins, the sounds of the helicopters are larger than life, almost triumphant. However, the initial gun battle is very aggressive and location specific and they tried to be accurate. What would the Navy Seals say? »


- Bill Desowitz

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Music Box Picks Up First Two Seasons of French Bordello Series 'Maison Close'

24 January 2014 11:00 AM, PST

Music Box Films has scooped up Us and Canadian rights to the first two seasons of sumptuous bodice-ripping drama "Maison Close," the French TV series set in a 19th century Parisian bordello, created by Jacques Ouaniche and a hit on Canal Plus. Here's the official synopsis:Jemima West, star of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, leads a cast of gorgeous characters trapped by circumstance and their societies limited options, in this dark, riveting exploration of desire and power.  By turns both erotic and political, Maison Close re-imagines age-old themes—and the world’s oldest profession—in revolutionary ways that “would make even a veteran of the 50 Shades of Grey series blush.” (The Times)  In late 2012, it was announced that HBO took North American rights to the series, and had an English-language remake in the works.  Watch the UK trailer for the second season, below. »


- Beth Hanna

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Run, Don't Walk, to 'Gloria' & 'Stranger by the Lake' in Theaters This Weekend

24 January 2014 10:34 AM, PST

As Sundance starts to wrap up and Oscar voters continue filling out their ballots, it's a relatively light weekend in mainstream theaters, with Lionsgate's horribly reviewed "I, Frankenstein" opening Friday. But three must-see festival hits finally land at arthouses this weekend: France's "Stranger by the Lake," Chile's "Gloria" and Us experimental doc "Visitors." Also hitting theaters is Vanessa Hudgens-starrer "Gimme Shelter." Trailers below. Though Sebastian Lelio's refreshing midlife crisis dramedy "Gloria" got snubbed for the foreign language Oscar, star Pauline Garcia picked up the Silver Bear for Best Actress in Berlin for her remarkable performance as the title character. She plays a lonely yet loving divorcee in her mid-50s navigating late adulthood and finding love with another single man who awakens her senses to the thrumming joy of life and all its warts. Steadily picking up raves since premiering in Cannes' Un Certain Regard sidebar last May, Alain. »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Why Alain Guiraudie's Sexy, Scary 'Stranger by the Lake' Is Essential Queer Cinema

24 January 2014 10:26 AM, PST

Queer cinema has forgotten about sex. But the brilliant and radical "Stranger by the Lake" doesn't keep it in its pants. Sex is out in the light and right where we can see it: sucking, fucking, 69-ing, ejaculation, masturbation and penetration shots galore. Just so you know going in. While we have "Blue Is the Warmest Color" and HBO's new series "Looking" to thank for putting the "sex" back in onscreen "homosexuality," these banner works pale next to Alain Guiraudie's intense, erotic new film, an inky mixture of desire and dread just begging for a queer cinema studies dissertation.At the center of "Stranger by the Lake" is the young, conventionally handsome Franck (Pierre Deladonchamps), who toils away at a secluded cruising hotspot, a lake discreetly folded into a hazy, humid woods. Splayed on the beach or writhing beneath the bush and bramble are male bodies of all shapes and sizes. »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Lukas Moodysson's Wonderful Punk Band Comedy 'We Are the Best!' to Close Rotterdam Film Festival (Trailer)

24 January 2014 8:38 AM, PST

Lukas Moodysson's hilarious and heartfelt coming-of-age film "We Are the Best!," following three pre-teen girls in 1980s Stockholm who start a punk band, has been selected as the closing night film of the International Film Festival Rotterdam, running January 22 through February 2. The film is based on Moodysson's wife's graphic novel, and has played Venice, Toronto and AFI Fest, to name a few. Here's the official synopsis:Bobo, Klara en Hedvig decide to form a punk band in the early eighties to air their grievances against society, with meaningful songtitles like Brezhnev and Reagan, Fuck Off!. Moodysson portrays the turbulent punk era with lots of humor and energy. People of all ages can identify with these girls, who insist on not being a girl band, connected by their insecurities, embarrassing parents, unrequited love and feeling left out. »


- Beth Hanna

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Cannes Selects Opening Night Film: 'Grace of Monaco,' Starring Nicole Kidman

24 January 2014 8:20 AM, PST

Update: The Weinstein Company has taken "Grace of Monaco" off their release calendar -- it was originally supposed to hit theaters in March, but that has changed with the news that the film will open Cannes 2014. Earlier: Olivier Dahan's Grace Kelly biopic "Grace of Monaco," starring Nicole Kidman, is set to open the 67th Cannes Film Festival on May 14. The film, which has stateside distribution with the Weinstein Company, was originally slated to hit Us theaters in time for the current Oscar season, but was pushed back until this spring. Last we heard Dahan was tussling with Weinstein over final edit. Here's the official synopsis:The film portrays a period in the life of American Actress Grace Kelly (played by Nicole Kidman) who became Princess Grace of Monaco when she married Prince Rainier III (Tim Roth) in 1956, in what was dubbed “the marriage of the century”. An Oscar winner, she »


- Beth Hanna

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