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Venice Reviews: Fatih Akin’s 'The Cut' Stars Tahir Rahim, Saverio Costanza’s 'Hungry Hearts' Stars Adam Driver

36 minutes ago

The Cut” is Fatih Akin’s reach for the big time, and sad to say he comes up short. The popular German-Turkish director has made a lot of different kinds of films, from inter-cultural dramas (“Head On”) and comedies (“Soul Kitchen”), to romantic comedy/road-trips (“In July”) and documentaries (“Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul”). “The Cut” is meant to be his big, beautiful epic tale, but it falls mysteriously flat straight out of the blocks. It’s 1915 and Wwi has cast its long shadow on Turkey. Nazaret Manoogian is an Armenian blacksmith, played here by the French-Algerian actor Tahar Rahim, who was so wonderful in “The Prophet.” We have barely met Nazaret and his family when Turkish soldiers haul all the men off to be a soldier, which means that they are used as slave labor until they either die or are killed, their women and children meanwhile »


- Tom Christie

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Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling-Starrer 'The Nice Guys' For Sale at Toronto

59 minutes ago

Writer-director Shane Black's original detective thriller "The Nice Guys," starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling and produced by Joel Silver, will be on sale at the Toronto Festival market. Warner Bros. has picked up North American distribution rights. Waypoint Entertainment executive producer Ken Kao will co-finance, with his and Alex Walton's Bloom handling international sales. They will introduce the film to buyers at the Toronto International Film Festival this week. “The Nice Guys” is set in 1970s Los Angeles, as private dick Holland March (Gosling) and leg-breaker-for-hire Jackson Healy (Crowe) partner up to solve the case of a missing girl and a dead porn star. They uncover a shocking conspiracy that reaches up to the highest circles of power. It sounds like an updated "Chinatown."  Bloom and Waypoint are currently in production on Gus Van Sant’s "The Sea of Trees," starring Matthew McConaughey, Watanabe and Naomi Watts. »


- Anne Thompson

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Foreign Language Oscar Contenders

2 hours ago

Magnolia Pictures has a film in this year's foreign Oscar race, as is often the case, from Scandinavia. Sweden's official entry is black comedy psychodrama "Force Majeure," the fourth feature for writer-director Ruben Östlund and the second of his films to be submitted (2009's "Happy Sweden" aka "Involuntary"). It won the Jury Prize in Un Certain Regard at Cannes and will have its North American premiere as a Special Presentation at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. Magnolia will release "Force Majeure" in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, October 24, followed by a national rollout. Here's Magnolia's synopsis: A model Swedish family – handsome businessman Tomas, his willowy wife Ebba and their two blond, pre-teen children – travels to the picturesque French Alps to enjoy a few days of skiing. The sun is shining and the slopes are spectacular but, during lunch at a mountainside »


- Anne Thompson

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TV Watch: How John Oliver Beat Stewart, Colbert, and Broadcast News at Their Own Games

2 hours ago

Indian elections. Net neutrality. Argentina's debt crisis. No, I'm not reading the latest issue of The Economist. These are three of the subjects covered by HBO's "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" since its April debut, enough time to realize that Oliver's not satisfied with challenging former Comedy Central colleagues Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert for satirical primacy. He's going after broadcast news, too. And he's winning. Critics reviewing "Last Week Tonight" initially mistook Oliver as a premium-cable heir to Stewart, with several echoing James Poniewozik's comment, in Time, that the series premiere "hewed so closely to the fake-news format and Oliver's past work on 'Tds' that it might well have been called 'The Weekly Show With John Oliver.'" But as the summer wore on, "Last Week Tonight" surpassed "Tds" and "The Colbert Report" in both brilliance and ambition. It's not "fake news," it's real news -- »


- Matt Brennan

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Cronenberg's Cannes Winner 'Maps to the Stars' Takes Focus World Route, Skips Oscars

17 hours ago

Julianne Moore can kiss goodbye to any hopes she was nursing for an Oscar campaign for David Cronenberg's Cannes Best Actress winner "Maps to the Stars," which is set to play Toronto and New York festivals. Canadian distributor eOne was going to distribute the film stateside, but it has now sold U.S. rights not to Universal specialty distributor Focus Features--the arm that would handle an Oscar effort--but Focus World, their digital distribution arm, which plans an early 2015 release. The entertaining satire of Hollywood boasts a strong cast including Cronenberg fave Rob Pattinson, who canoodles on screen with both an anxiety-ridden movie star (Moore) and the troubled daughter (Mia Wasikowska) of psychotherapist/coach to the stars (John Cusack) and his wife (Olivia Williams), who manages his son's career. Ordinarily you would expect this to have a strong theatrical release, but this kind of movie does well on VOD, »


- Anne Thompson

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Watch: Alejandro González Iñárritu Talks 'Birdman' Risks at Telluride (Exclusive Video)

21 hours ago

Alejandro González Iñárritu is a happy man--a little tired, perhaps, as he flew to Colorado from the Venice Film Festival, where "Birdman" earned raves, to introduce the North American premiere Saturday at the Telluride Film Festival, which he described as a "Disneyland for adults," a "heaven" for cinephiles. He laughed as he shot the film for the first time in his life, he added, describing the process as "a joy. Michael Keaton got naked spiritually and physically." When the filmmaker turned 50, his examination of his life and psyche led him to collaborate with a team of writers on this sharp show business comedy that skewers the current Hollywood obsession with superheroes as it reveals the psychological pitfalls of the creative process. This is something Iñárritu knows something about, as he followed up his breakout "Amores Perros" with a series of tough English-language dramas »


- Anne Thompson

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Lisa Cholodenko & Frances McDormand's 'Olive Kitteridge' Impresses in Venice

1 September 2014 10:18 AM, PDT

The biggest positive surprise at Venice is probably Lisa Cholodenko’s HBO miniseries, “Olive Kitteridge.” Starring those national treasures Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins as the title character and her pharmicist husband, Henry, the four-part series travels through their lives over some 25 years. In today’s press conference, McDormand said that she’d been playing supportive roles to male characters for her entire career and “it feels like I’ve been working for 35 years to set up this part.” And it does feel like she was meant to play this small-town Maine teacher who, as McDormand says, “not everyone likes but no one can ignore.”  This is to put it mildly: Olive Kitteridge is brusque, sharp, acerbic, unforgiving, ungenerous, rude, mean, and downright unhappy much of the time – most of all with those close to her – Henry and their son, Christopher (John Gallagher, Jr). She’s also brilliantly funny, and »


- Tom Christie

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Watch: 'Downton Abbey' Season 5 Trailer

1 September 2014 9:54 AM, PDT

The new trailer for "Downton Abbey" season five -- or series five, as they say across the pond -- is here. New episodes of the beloved Brit series premiere September 21 in the UK. American audiences will see it January 4. Though nominated in seven categories, the Outstanding Drama Series contender was shut-out at the 2014 Primetime Emmys. Toh!'s Matt Brennan has strong feelings about the show's rise and fall as it heads into the tumultuous mid-1920s, as discussed in detail here. »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Trailers from Hell on 'Being There'

1 September 2014 9:18 AM, PDT

The brilliant chameleon Peter Sellers turns in his greatest (and penultimate) performance in this low-key satire about politics and the cult of personality. Or in this case, the lack of personality: as Chance, a gentle shut-in untouched by the outside world except for what little knowledge he’s gleaned from TV, Sellers turns in a studious portrait of a completely vacant man. Directed by Hal Ashby from Jerzy Kozinski’s 1970 novel, the film co-stars Shirley MacLaine, Jack Warden and, in an Oscar-winning performance, Melvyn Douglas. »


- Trailers From Hell

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Venice Film Festival Diary: 'Black Souls,' 'Heaven Knows What,' 'Goodnight Mommy'

1 September 2014 3:20 AM, PDT

The dark days of Venice continue. It’s not easy starting your morning with a film called “Black Souls” but someone has to do it. Italian director Francisco Munzi’s tale of a Calabrian family embroiled in the mafia gave me a stomach ache, partly because of the sense of dread it successfully exported from the opening shot, and partly because it never quite achieves what it seems to be going for. Luigi and Rocco Carbone are two middle-aged brothers running a mob business in Milan. Luigi (Marco Leonardi) is your typically good-looking, fun-loving tough guy, a sort of Calabrian Sonny Corleone. The lean, bespectacled Rocco (Peppino Mazzotta) runs the business side and aspires to normality and respectability, with a pretty northern wife (Barbora Bobulova) and young daughter. The odd man out is their elder brother Luciano (Fabrizio Ferracane), who has remained on the Calabrian hilltop farm, raising goats, and »


- Tom Christie

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Al Pacino Debuts Venice Films from David Gordon Green and Barry Levinson

31 August 2014 7:21 PM, PDT

Can there be too much Al Pacino? Not in Venice, apparently, where he was the man of day three with two major films premiering – Barry Levinson’s “The Humbling” and David Gordon Green’s “Manglehorn.” But as much as I love the guy, after his two performances as old, sad, deranged men I was ready to kill myself and after the two press conferences I was ready to kill him.  “The Humbling” is based on the Philip Roth novel, to which Pacino long-ago bought the rights. You can understand that, given that the lead character, Simon Axler, is an aging – and fading -- star of the Broadway theater who is no longer always sure of what is real and what is acting. As with all things Axler/Pacino, this confusion is rather epic, resulting in a swan dive into the orchestra pit that lands him first in a hospital and then a mental institution. »


- Tom Christie

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