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'Interstellar' Screenings Launch Upbeat Buzz

13 hours ago

The screenings of Chris Nolan's "Interstellar" have landed. I will see it later this week. But Paramount is keeping press folks under embargo until October 27th--they're allowed to do that if they invite you to an advance screening. (When studios try to control film festival screenings it makes me crazy.)  But one way to spread positive buzz ahead of the press is to let influencers in Hollywood take to Twitter. They have no embargo. Thus San Francisco Film Society exec director Noah Cowan and filmmakers Brad Bird and Edgar Wright are already spreading the advance word that "Interstellar" is amazing, among others.  Sunday night Paramount chief Brad Grey hosted a starry New York opinionmakers screening. And Tuesday night in at the Beverly Hilton, Matthew McConaughey is the recipient of the American Cinematheque Ball's annual tribute. Nolan and Anne Hathaway will be on hand as part of a major Paramount push for--"Interstellar. »


- Anne Thompson

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Five Mystifying Things Shia Labeouf Said in Interview Magazine's New Profile

16 hours ago

Enfant terrible Shia Labeouf, hot off acclaim for his war picture "Fury," opened up to storied film critic Elvis Mitchell about his public "existential" meltdowns, self-reinvention, the meaning of "metamodernism" and more in a recent Interview feature. Whether his public appearances of late, including the "Ellen" interview below, are part of a desperate Oscar bid is anyone's guess: it all may be part of Labeouf's latest postmodern shenanigan. But he is a talented actor — endorsed even by costar Pitt! — ready to redeem himself. So let's dive into the five weirdest, most ridiculous (but also intriguingly candid) quotes from Labeouf in Interview. On "finding God" while making "Fury": "I found God doing Fury. I became a Christian man, and not in a fucking bullshit way—in a very real way. I could have just said the prayers that were on the page. But it was a real thing that really saved me. »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Watch Oceanographer Sylvia Earle in 'Mission Blue,' Documented by Fisher Stevens (Video)

17 hours ago

"Mission Blue" documents the life work of pioneering oceanographer Sylvia Earle, who is still jumping into the ocean at age 79. She shows us what the ocean was like when she first explored it back in the 50s. The not-for-profit film has been re-edited since playing the Berlin, Santa Barbara (our review here) and Ashland film festivals.  Netflix released it in theaters August 15 backed by a massive outreach campaign to promote understanding and awareness about the threats faced by Earth's oceans. The film is both enlightening and entertaining, not unlike producer Stevens' Oscar-nominated indie hit "The Cove." Stevens came by Sneak Previews for a Q & A: Anne Thompson: After I saw this movie, I admired oceanographer Sylvia Earle but I thought, “Oh my god, I can’t eat fish anymore.” What movie did you set out to make? Fisher Stevens: Originally, after I made “The Cove” with Louie Psihoyos, I was asked by Ted (Technology, »


- Anne Thompson

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SXSW: Mark Duplass First of Four Keynote Speakers

17 hours ago

The South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival confirms today that indie multi-hyphenate Mark Duplass will be one of its four daily Keynote speakers. More announcements about SXSW Conversations, panels, and workshops also arrive. SXSW runs in Austin, Texas from March 13 to 21, 2015. Duplass, alongside brother and co-director Jay, exploded onto the indie scene in 2005 with their made-on-a-dime dramedy "The Puffy Chair." They've since directed more mainstream-skewing films like "Cyrus" and "Jeff, Who Lives at Home." Their upcoming HBO series "Togetherness," co-starring Mark Duplass, hits in 2015. Mark Duplass now pops up on Fox's "The Mind Project" and is a series regular on FX hit comedy "The League." As we learned in our recent Q&A discussing his starring/producing vehicle "The One I Love," Duplass is more than ready to address the shifting indie filmmaking paradigm. Watch: Mark Duplass »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Rip Writer L.M. 'Kit' Carson, Dead at 73

18 hours ago

I knew him well over the years, hanging with him in L.A. or at various film festivals from Sundance to Vail. Carson was an energetic, enthusiastic, generous, eager, curious man always in pursuit of the new. He embraced life, people, movies, and new technology--he was shooting films on smart phones before anyone else I knew.  In these last few years he was enjoying accepting tribute kudos at various fests around the world, and was globe-trotting with his wife and producing partner Cynthia Hargrave to shoot Nokia flicks for his multi-platform 12-episode digital documentary series "Africa Diary" for The Sundance Channel.  Carson made his name starring as a narcissistic filmmaker in the classic 1968 mockumentary "David Holzman’s Diary," which he co-wrote with his long-time collaborator, director Jim McBride ("Breathless"), which producer Ted Hope recently wrote about here. A recent Q & A with Carson is here.  In recent »


- Anne Thompson

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Natasha Lyonne Will Host Outfest Awards

19 hours ago

Lyonne, a 90s cult icon in everything from "But I'm a Cheerleader" to Tamara Jenkins' terrific "Slums of Beverly Hills," has resurged in Netflix's "Orange Is the New Black." In spirit of that Lgbt-aimed series, now she's hosting La nonprofit Outfest's 10th Annual Legacy Awards. As previously announced, legendary author Armistead Maupin ("Tales of the City") will be presented with the Visionary Award, Hilary Swank (“Boys Don’t Cry”) will receive the Trailblazer Award, and Levi Strauss & Co. will be awarded with the Guardian Award. This must-attend evening, usually full of stars and Lgbt celebrities and icons, goes down November 12th at the Vibiana in downtown Los Angeles. The Legacy Awards benefits the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project for Lgbt Moving Image Preservation, an invaluable project dedicated to maintaining queer cinema resources. Previous Legacy Award winners include writer-director Lee Daniels (“The Butler”), Craig Zadan and »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Watch: 'The Simpsons'' Hilarious, Homage-Packed Ode to Stanley Kubrick

20 hours ago

Even if you're not a watcher of "The Simpsons," one of the Fox series' great annual pleasures is the Halloween "Treehouse of Horror" special, which had its 25th edition Sunday night.  Matt Groening and company have spoofed Stanley Kubrick before (see "Treehouse of Horror" classic "The Shinning") but Sunday was a true homage to the great director, a hilarious, unsubtle, over-the-top meta, allusion-packed mishmash of "Barry Lyndon," "Eyes Wide Shut," "Full Metal Jacket," "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "A Clockwork Orange." Along with a winking nod to the director's supposed cover-up of the Apollo moon landing (as alleged in Rodney Ascher's neat pomo doc "Room 237"). Here's a clip. Watch the full episode here. (Thanks, Vulture.) »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Review: Kate Lyn Sheil Is the Beating Heart of 'The Heart Machine'

20 hours ago

At SXSW, I must admit I was rather underwhelmed by the offerings. Maybe it was all the Brooklyn settings, or the abundance of 20 and 30-something malaise. Hasn’t this become stale by now? And this is coming from someone in the key demo to appreciate 20 and 30-something malaise. However, one performance stuck with me. Kate Lyn Sheil ("Sun Don't Shine"), a ubiquitous face in the indie scene if not yet a well-known name like, say, Greta Gerwig or Joe Swanberg, is undeniably a standout in Zachary Wigon’s tale of long-distance relationship woes and paranoia, “The Heart Machine.” Sheil stands out not because she “kills” the performance -- it’s not a big, showy turn -- but rather because she underplays it. It’s a difficult, somewhat inscrutable role -- and, alas, female characters who make murky choices typically throw viewers for a loop -- but as I watched her »


- Beth Hanna

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'Force Majeure' Director Ruben Östlund Answers 10 Questions

22 hours ago

"Force Majeure" is Ruben Östlund's gruesomely funny fourth feature, winner of the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at Cannes and now a top contender for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. A marriage hits the rocks — or better yet the ice — in this Swedish dark comedy that pits nature against the sacred, so-called nuclear family. Tomas and Ebba (terrifically played by Johannes Kuhnke and Lisa Loven Kongsli) are on holiday in the French Alps when an avalanche, in the film's spectacularly enacted centerpiece, nearly swallows them and their two blond children. Though the threat turns out to be a false alarm, it sends the cowardly Tomas literally running away from his family, leaving Ebba alone with the kids in a fog of snow. Leery of her husband, Ebba twirls into a tizzy of doubt and confusion as Tomas' already frail male ego implodes: it's fascinating to watch their discussions of the he-said/she-said particulars, »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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'Transparent' and the New Queer Television

22 hours ago

Threading together images of a family idyll, bygone weddings and birthdays captured in the slightly harried, imperfect vernacular of home video, the title sequence of creator Jill Soloway's "Transparent" (Amazon) drifts along like a memory, or a dream. So, too, does the series as a whole: in the warm, hazy hues of its flashbacks to the '80s and '90s, in the hectic familiarity of the staging and in the ambling dialogue, "Transparent" conjures the texture of a backyard barbecue stored away on VHS, keepsake of the not-so-distant past. "New Queer Cinema came out of the conjunction of four things: Reagan, AIDS, the invention of camcorders... and cheap rent," critic B. Ruby Rich said in 2013, reflecting on her landmark 1992 essay for the Village Voice and Sight & Sound. Times have changed, of course, but in alluding to the conditions that made the movement, "Transparent" adapts the New Queer Cinema »


- Matt Brennan

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How 'Birdman' Got Made: Fox Searchlight and New Regency Partners Tell All (Keaton, Norton, Stone Videos)

23 hours ago

Anne Thompson: How did your two companies end up collaborating on this film? Claudia Lewis: Searchlight got the script first, and loved it, thought about it. It was a little out of our reach, budgetarily. Because you have a budget cap. Lewis: We tend to have a cap for the movies that we make. But, about two weeks after my initial meeting with Alejandro, I heard that Brad had gotten it as well, and that they were interested. So it was a loving partnership right from the start. Brad Weston: We had worked together on a film that hadn’t been released yet, but we were just in previews on, “12 Years a Slave." So we had just started our relationship, and it was going nicely. Regency was trying to make another movie with Alejandro, which he’s actually in his third week of shooting in Canada right now, »


- Anne Thompson

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Santa Barbara Film Festival Awards: Modern Master Goes to 'Birdman' Star Michael Keaton

23 hours ago

The Modern Master Award, established in 1995, was created to pay tribute to an individual who has enriched our culture via the motion picture industry. Keaton joins past recipients Ben Affleck, Christopher Nolan, Michael Douglas, Jodie Foster, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Diane Keaton, Sean Penn, Jeff Bridges, Bruce Dern, Peter Jackson, George Clooney, Will Smith, Cate Blanchett, Clint Eastwood, Christopher Plummer and James Cameron. Keaton's career ranges far and wide, from Ron Howard's "Night Shift" and Tim Burton's "Beetlejuice" and "Batman" to his lauded performance in Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s dark show business satire "Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance." »


- Anne Thompson

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Cumberbatch vs. Hiddleston: Who's The Hotter Brit? (Duelling Videos)

20 October 2014 3:34 PM, PDT

Tom Hiddleston and  Benedict Cumberbatch. Say it loud and there’s music playing. Say it soft and it’s almost like praying. Just mentioning these two actors’ names can cause a smile to light up the face of many a film enthusiast -- especially the female kind. Not since the‘60s, when such British acting imports as Peter O’Toole, Alan Bates, Oliver Reed and Albert Finney invaded Hollywood movies, has there been such an excitement over a pair of incredibly talented English chaps.  Steven Spielberg helped to initiate the frenzy by casting both Hiddleston, 33, and Cumberbatch, 38, as World War I cavalry officers in 2011’s "War Horse" (their press interview together below). Ever since, these two good-looking, bright, self-effacing, plummy-voiced and highly talented London natives have racked up a slew of memorable performances, caused social media to be flooded with GIFs and clips of their antics (including their dancing ability »


- Susan Wloszczyna

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Academy Documentary Branch Reveals Short Film Shortlist (Videos)

20 October 2014 1:56 PM, PDT

Lucy Walker lands her third Oscar nomination for "The Lion's Mouth Opens," about Marianna Palka's struggle with Huntington's disease, which debuted at Sundance.  2014 Student Academy Award winner "One Child" also nabbed a slot. And HBO aired Perry Films' "Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1."  Voters submitted their ballots to PricewaterhouseCoopers for tabulation. The eight films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production companies:  “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1,” Perry Films “Joanna,” Wajda Studio  “Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace,” Show of Force “The Lion’s Mouth Opens,” Tree Tree Tree “One Child,” New York University  “Our Curse,” Warsaw Film School  “The Reaper (La Parka),” Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica  “White Earth,” Weary Traveler The Academy will announce the Oscar nominations live on Thursday, January 15, 2015, at 5:30 a.m. »


- Anne Thompson

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Watch: How 'Blow-Up,' 'The Conversation' and 'Blow Out' Form a Trilogy

20 October 2014 12:15 PM, PDT

The men of Antonioni's "Blow-Up" (1966), Coppola's "The Conversation" (1974) and De Palma's "Blow-Out" (1981) are all loner audio/visual technicians whose ghoulish findings culminate in chaos or murder or death to the world order.  And in a stylish Vimeo essay, below, we can see how when strung together these films form a trio: Antonioni's vaguely creepy "Blow-Up" is the hardboiled original, De Palma's slick "Blow-Out" is the final postmodern explosion and in between lies Coppola's labor-of-love, a personally favorite of his, and the best example of the nimble power of sound design in any contemporary film. More from Vimeo user Drew Morton here. »

- Ryan Lattanzio

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Review: Shailene Woodley Stars in Gregg Araki's 'White Bird in a Blizzard'

20 October 2014 11:18 AM, PDT

Based on Laura Kasischke’s novel of the same title, “White Bird” centers on teen Kat (Shailene Woodley), living a life of angst and parental disappointment in late 1980s suburbia. When her unpredictable mother (Eva Green, giving off a major Bette Davis vibe) seemingly vanishes into thin air one day, and her doormat father (Christopher Meloni) is sent into a tailspin of despondency, Kat holds it together as best she can. She begins an affair with the middle-aged, macho detective assigned to her mother’s case, while halfheartedly attempting to stay in a relationship with her dopey boyfriend (Shiloh Fernandez), who seems to have lost sexual interest in her anyway. Because of the film’s enigmatic plot premise, Araki gets to go creepy (working with Dp Sandra Valde-Hansen), with scenes that submerge into Kat’s dream life, where she wanders in a white-out blizzard while catching glimpses of her mother, »


- Beth Hanna

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Studio Ghibli Quietly Enters Oscar Animation Race with 'Princess Kaguya'

20 October 2014 11:11 AM, PDT

Director Isao Takahata may not have the Oscar pedigree of Studio Ghibli's is-he-or-isn't-he-retired figurehead Hayao Miyazaki. But Takahata is a revered animated filmmaker whose latest, "The Tale of Princess Kaguya," has been unassumingly picking up festival awards and buzz and critical acclaim, and could prove a stealthy contender for the Best Animated Feature Oscar. Here's why: In his latest Toh! arthouse box office report, Tom Brueggemann writes: Enterprising GKids has managed to break into the Oscar Animated Feature race with several foreign-made films, and this Studio Ghibli production (not from master director Hayao Miyazaki) is positioned to continue that trend. This is the best-reviewed animated film of the year (by a large margin). Its opening numbers are quite strong, particularly with the modest ad buy. This isn't at the level of the also Ghibli-made "From Up on Poppy Hill" (from Miyazaki's son) which last year did $57,000 its first weekend in two. »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Richard Gere Will Wait for Next Year for IFC 'Time Out of Mind' Release

20 October 2014 10:39 AM, PDT

One of the best films to debut in Toronto and play at the New York Film Festival, writer-director Oren Moverman's "Time Out of Mind," stars Richard Gere as a homeless man in New York. You can see vestiges of his rakish charm, sexy grin, and proper wardrobe. But now he has no money, has been kicked out of a friend's vacated apartment, and seeks to reconcile with his estranged daughter (Jena Malone). This is a guy who made mistakes in his life. We learn more as Moverman's probing hand-held cameras follow him around his peregrinations in New York within the real homeless population, sitting on park benches, sleeping in the men's shelter at Bellevue and trying to navigate New York's bureaucratic maze. It's a must-see and IFC has acquired it for release in 2015, when Gere's naked, restrained performance will surely be a contender in the Best Actor race. Astonishingly, »


- Anne Thompson

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AFI Fest Adds More Must-See Oscar Hopefuls to 2014 Lineup

20 October 2014 10:19 AM, PDT

Adding to its previously announced Gala presentations of "A Most Violent Year," "The Gambler," "Inherent Vice" and "Foxcatcher," AFI Fest will present writer/director Tommy Lee Jones' feminist Western "The Homesman" starring Hilary Swank. AFI Fest's special screenings are "Clouds of Sils Maria," "Merchants of Doubt," Mike Leigh's Cannes favorite "Mr. Turner," Julianne Moore Oscar vehicle "Still Alice," "Tales of the Grim Sleeper" and Foreign Language Oscar contenders "Mommy," "Saint Laurent" and "Two Days, One Night."  AFI Fest's conversations include a discussion with Michael Keaton and Edward Norton about "Birdman," Roger Deakins sharing his experience on Angelina Jolie's "Unbroken."  AFI Fest runs November 6 through 13 in Hollywood, CA. Here's more information on the added »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Jean-Marc Vallée's 'Demolition' Lands at Fox Searchlight, Stars Gyllenhaal and Watts

20 October 2014 9:37 AM, PDT

Jean-Marc Vallée hasn't finished "Demolition," his indie drama followup to 2015 Oscar contender "Wild" and 2014 Oscar winner "Dallas Buyers Club." But already Fox Searchlight has sealed the deal, putting their faith in the Canadian-born filmmaker once again. Fox Searchlight, word has it, has picked up Us rights to "Demolition," starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts, after a heated bidding war and before it unleashes Reese Witherspoon-starrer "Wild" into the Oscar race on December 5. In December 2013, Focus released Vallée's "Dallas Buyers Club" and garnered the film Best Actor and Best Supporting Actors Oscars.  Vallée clearly has a way with leading Hollywood actors, leading studios to trust his instincts (see: McConaughey, Leto, Witherspoon). Another emotionally wrought indie drama for adults, "Demolition" turns on a troubled, investment banker widower (Gyllenhaal) »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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