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Will Emmy-Winner 'Cosmos' Be Back?

14 hours ago

The non-fiction series Emmy nominations leader, Fox and Nat Geo’s reboot of "Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey," landed 12 nominations including short-format non-fiction program, documentary or non-fiction series, and both writing and directing for non-fiction programming. Already winning an Emmy at last week's Creative Arts Emmy Awards Show is the show's creator, writer and executive producer Ann Druyan, the widow of Carl Sagan, who reimagined their classic 1980 television show "Cosmos: A Personal Voyage." It was no easy feat bringing the science series back in a way that was accessibly entertaining to general audiences as well as accurately informative: she credits executive producer Seth MacFarlane for helping her to make that journey.  With his support, New York-born Druyan managed over many years to mount the thirteen-part television series for Fox and National Geographic networks, which premiered stateside on March 9, 2014 with an intro from President Barack »


- Anne Thompson

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Tiff Thriller 'Cut Bank' Picked Up by A24, Directv

16 hours ago

A24 and Directv have picked up U.S. rights to Matt Shakman's feature directorial debut, thriller "Cut Bank," which premiered at this year's Los Angeles Film Festival and will show before international audiences later this year in Toronto. Shakman's best known for his directorial work on the series "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," although he's also helmed episodes of "House M.D.," "Brothers & Sisters," "Psych" and "Fargo." "Cut Bank," written by Robert Patino ("Sons of Anarchy"), stars "Hunger Games" regular Liam Hemsworth as a high school athlete and auto mechanic who dreams of leaving his small Montana town along with his girlfriend (Teresa Palmer). John Malkovich, Billy Bob Thornton, Bruce Dern, Michael Stuhlbarg and Oliver Platt also star. A24 and Directv plan a 2015 theatrical release for the film.  This isn't the duo's first partnership--they teamed together on »


- Jacob Combs

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Exclusive: Watch the Trailer for Chinese Kidnapping Drama 'Dearest,' Bound for Toronto & Venice

17 hours ago

Director/producer Peter Ho-Sun Chan is a leading figure in the Asian film industry. His new feature "Dearest," the intense followup to 2013's "American Dreams in China," centers on the true story of a divorced couple whose three-year-old goes suddenly missing. Issues of nature vs. nurture, long buried secrets and ancestry arise. Watch the trailer, exclusive to Toh!, below. "Dearest" will screen out of competition at the Venice Film Festival -- which Hong Kong director Chan closed in 2005 with musical "Perhaps Love" -- and in the Special Presentations section of Toronto in the coming weeks. Chan, it's worth noting, serves on BAFTA's Asia advisory board.  »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Trailers From Hell and Joe Dante on 'Confessions Of An Opium Eater'

18 hours ago

Albert Zugsmith’s shining moment in an amiably disreputable career that nonetheless included producing pix by Sirk, Welles and Jack Arnold. Only Fu Manchu is missing from this hypnotically retrograde yellow peril hallucination starring Vincent Price and half the Asian actors in Hollywood. Amazingly, in 1959 William Castle was originally set to shoot this in color with Miiko Taka, star of "Sayonara"–in Tokyo! Although Joe Dante laments the home video unavailability of this title in his commentary from several years ago, we’re happy to report that Warner Archive has since issued a stellar transfer that captures all the weirdo beauty of this uniquely odd movie. »


- Trailers From Hell

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How Joseph Gordon-Levitt Blew Up Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez's Return to Sin City, 'A Dame to Kill For'

18 hours ago

It's hard to believe that it's been nine years since "Sin City." So much has changed and we're worse off, in many ways, which makes the timing just right to slip back into Frank Miller's deliriously noir hell hole. If anything, "A Dame to Kill For" is bolder yet more cohesive and emotionally involving. It's certainly more immersive in 3-D and it's all green screen with no sets whatsoever. As a result, this dream-like world where "Shock Corridor" collides with "Kiss Me Deadly" seems even more tactile and surreal. "In the first one we only did a half-step between his book and the movie world," Rodriguez insists. "I didn't go all the way toward his book because I thought it would be too distracting to people, too much too soon. And they loved the stylization where they could see the white silhouettes and the white blood and the colors, »


- Bill Desowitz

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Screen Talk: Telluride Film Festival Predictions and Preview

18 hours ago

The Thursday before Labor Day weekend, Indiewire critic Eric Kohn and I will arrive in Telluride, a little mining town in the Colorado Rockies, when we'll finally learn what's actually on the Telluride Film Festival schedule. I'll be on the L.A.shuttle to Montrose, where they hand out the schedule, and Eric will be flying commercial from New York. On this week's podcast, we suss out our best guesses on the program--easier this year, now that the Toronto International Film Festival has labeled all its programs with "world" or "Canadian" or "North American" premiere etc. What impact will the new rules of engagement--no Telluride premieres on Toronto's first weekend--have on the festivals?   Listen below or on iTunes. »


- Anne Thompson

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TV's Elisabeth Moss & Michelle Dockery Head for Indie Film with Alex Ross Perry's 'Queen of Earth'

21 August 2014 5:54 PM, PDT

It's something of an anomaly these days when not one, but two of TV's biggest stars head for indie film and not the other way around. So it goes for Alex Ross Perry's "Queen of Earth," which will pair "Mad Men"'s Elisabeth Moss and Michelle Dockery of "Downton Abbey" as girlfriends on the edge. THR has the full report, and synopsis of the film: [This] psychological thriller... centers on two women (Moss and Dockery) who retreat to a beach house to get a break from the pressures of the outside world. Although they grew up as best friends, they soon realize how disconnected from each other they have become, allowing their suspicions to bleed into reality. It's significant that film bud and mumblecore granddaddy Joe Swanberg is producing Perry's film, which sounds on paper like early Altman a la "3 Women" or even "Images," or Peter Weir's "Picnic at Hanging Rock. »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Judd Apatow, Lena Dunham and Norman Lear Win 2014 Pen Literary Awards

21 August 2014 4:40 PM, PDT

Winners of the upcoming Pen Literary Awards include Judd Apatow, Lena Dunham and Ben Coccio for teleplay and screenplay awards, as well as authors like Gretel Ehrlich, Octavio Solis, Lindsay Hill and Craig Malisow, among others.  Norman Lear will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, along with Jose Antonio Vargas who will be honored with the Freedom to Write Award. A full list of winners at the 24th Annual Literary Awards Festival on November 11 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel is here and below. Panels of writers, editors, critics and journalists belonging to Pen Center USA, a Beverly Hills-based literary nonprofit, choose the winners of The 24th Annual Literary Awards, honoring the best writing in the western United States. Each winner takes home a $1000 cash prize. The 2014 award winners include:  Gretel Ehrlich (Creative Nonfiction Award for Facing The Wave); Octavio Solis (Drama Award for Se Llama Cristina); Lindsay Hill (Fiction Award for Sea Of Hooks); Craig. »


- Anne Thompson

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Watch: Sexy, Haunting New 'White Bird In A Blizzard' Trailer Stars Shailene Woodley

21 August 2014 12:29 PM, PDT

Writer/director Gregg Araki sheds his new-wave queer cinema roots for this Shailene Woodley vehicle about a 17-year-old girl whose sexual awakening coincides with the spooky disappearance of her down-in-the-doldrums mother, played by Eva Green. Replete with lyrical Vo, a hip, heady soundtrack and underage sexuality, it's pure Araki. Shailene Woodley's performance in this dark offbeat indie will find her in the good graces of critics once again. And the rest of the cast is great, too: It costars Thomas Jane, Christopher Meloni, Angela Bassett and Gabourey Sidibe. Per the times, Magnolia brings this Sundance fave to iTunes September 25 before a limited release on October 24. Read our review. »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Who Will Pick Up Spike Lee's Kickstarter Horror Comedy 'Da Sweet Blood of Jesus'?

21 August 2014 12:28 PM, PDT

It's been a busy year for Spike Lee. He celebrated the 25th anniversary of "Do the Right Thing." (My interview with producer Jon Kilik here.) He's the go-to guy for shooting stage and concert shows. He directed "Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth," which HBO aired last fall as well as comedy Store documentary "Jerrod Carmichael: Love at the Store," which HBO will air on October 4. He shot "Amex Unstaged Pharrell Williams Live at the Apollo," "Katt Williams: Priceless" and "Go Brasil Go!" He also helped to create (uncredited) opening sequences for "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon." A year ago Lee raised a total of $1,418,910 on Kickstarter for horror comedy "Da Sweet Blood of Jesus," his remake of Bill Gunn's "Ganja & Hess," starring Stephen Tyrone Williams, Zaraah Abrahams, Rami Malek, and Elvis Nolasco in a "movie about human beings who are addicted to »


- Anne Thompson

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New York Film Festival's Projections Lineup Promises 3 Days of Experimental Film

21 August 2014 11:45 AM, PDT

The Film Society of Lincoln Center has pulled back the curtain on the New York Film Festival's Projections lineup, a slate of experimental films unspooling October 3-5. In all, we will see 13 international programs, with 63 film and video works. Curators are tastemakers Dennis Lim, Aily Nash and Gavin Smith. Projections brings together short, medium and feature-length works from groundbreaking filmmakers and artists, with an eye on innovative storytelling, the avant-garde, documentary hybrid and contemporary art, among other genres. Highlights include new works from Nyff vets Kevin Jerome Everson ("Fe26," "Sound That," and "Sugarcoated Arsenic"), Ben Rivers ("Things"), Ben Russell ("Atlantis"), Sylvia Schedelbauer ("Sea of Vapors"), and Deborah Stratman ("Second Sighted"). Jacqueline Goss returns to the festival with world premiere "The Measures," which explores »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Review & Roundup: 'Sin City: A Dame to Kill For' Is Black, White and Flat All Over

21 August 2014 11:24 AM, PDT

Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez's "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" opens Friday, nine years after their critically appreciated 2005 "Sin City" and promising more sex, violence, shadows and noir-y intrigue. An unabashed fan of the first installment, I was knocked out by the then-revolutionary way that CG-adept Rodriguez brought Miller's percussive graphics to life. This time around I was still seduced by the film's sleek visuals. But that initial glow wears off fast, as each sequence repeats the same pattern without reprieve: set-up, face-off, blam-blam-blam. Every character is a type: the women are shallow femme fatales, the guys are dumb dicks. Yes, as uber-villain Roark Powers Boothe's eyes glitter with malice and Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a fine job as a young gambler who can't resist winning, even if he has to pay the price. And somehow, just like the first time, Mickey Rourke manages to rise above »


- Anne Thompson

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Sandra Bullock Weighs Post-'Gravity' Options, Which Brand Will She Pick?

21 August 2014 10:39 AM, PDT

Sandra Bullock has passed some remarkable milestones this year. She's become probably the highest paid actress for a single project in Hollywood history, taking home a man's size share of the gross for her Oscar-nominated role in Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity," a rare instance of a Hollywood actress carrying a tentpole action film. (Only Angelina Jolie has come close.) She turned 50--and still looks absolutely fabulous. And she can pick and choose her next project. Several are bubbling away. Variety reports that Bullock is orbiting another Warner Bros. picture that has been greenlit with studio supervising execs Courtenay Valenti and Racheline Benveniste: political dramedy “Our Brand is Crisis," based on the 2005 documentary about deploying American political campaign strategies South America. Bullock met recently with fellow CAA client David Gordon Green and liked the director's take on the movie. Like Bullock, Green is capable of delivering both »


- Anne Thompson

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AFI Directing Workshop for Women Makes Way for Digital TV

21 August 2014 9:44 AM, PDT

The American Film Institute’s Directing Worshop for Women (Dww) is expanding its decades-long directing program into the digital age with a new multi-platform initiative. Since 1974, the AFI has held the yearly workshop to promote female directors and their short films. This year, AFI further diversifies its patronage of the female auteur, with the help of some big name donorship and an impressive casting of female mentors that includes Jamie Babbit, Patty Jenkins and Kimberly Peirce.  This year, AFI is adding an episodic programming strand to the workshop. Participants in the new series, which will concentrate on the production of digital content, will partner with participants of the ongoing short film program. And, accepted applicants will receive advice from TV and new media mentors, in addition to AFI alumnae.  Both the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation and NBCUniversal are lending their names and funds to the cause, hoping to create an opportunity for unknown. »


- Elaina Patton

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The 34th San Francisco Jewish Film Festival: A Religious Experience

21 August 2014 7:30 AM, PDT

After attending religiously for a number of years (pun forgivable), I realize that the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival now joins the two San Francisco festivals I consider unmissable: The Sf Silent Film Festival, and Noir City. Like them, it has an enthusiastic and loyal audience, some of whom see every single film on offer, made possible because the festival unspools, mostly, in one theater at a time.  A more appropriate title, these days, might be the Bay Area Jewish Film Festival, because it travels all over: at Sf's venerable Castro Theatre, there were 11 days of screenings. Meantime, there were six days of films shown at the CineArts in Palo Alto. I attended the week-long section which followed in Berkeley's California, followed by a three-day weekend at the glorious Grand Lake Theater in Oakland, which overlapped with three days of screenings at the Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael. »


- Meredith Brody

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Leonard Maltin Says Good-Bye to His Annual Movie Guide

20 August 2014 2:34 PM, PDT

Today I received my advance copy of "Leonard Maltin’s 2015 Movie Guide," and I’ve been paging through it with profoundly mixed emotions. Once again, I am unreasonably proud of my humble contributions to the enterprise. (Leonard asked me to come on board as a member of Team Maltin during preparations for the 2009 edition – an honor I rank alongside Peter Bart’s invitation to be a Variety contributor back in 1990.) At the same time, however, I am unspeakably sad, because this is the end of the line: "The 2015 Movie Guide" will be the last. Originally known as "TV Movies," Leonard’s invaluable paperback resource first appeared in 1969, and has been published annually since 1988. Long, long before I was a contributor, I was a faithful fan, dutifully purchasing each new edition – and always keeping a copy close at hand. No kidding: For decades, to paraphrase the old tagline for American Express Travelers Cheques, »


- Joe Leydon

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Margaret Atwood Talks Adapting 'MaddAddam' Trilogy with Aronofsky and HBO

20 August 2014 1:08 PM, PDT

Darren Aronofsky's got another flood on his hands after this year's "Noah": he's executive producing an HBO adaptation of Margaret Atwood's MaddAddam trilogy, set in the middle of the 21st century after a so-called Waterless Flood that nearly wipes all of humanity off the planet. In the Canadian author's trilogy--"Oryx and Crake," "The Year of the Flood" and "MaddAddam"--corporations have replaced governments and genetic modification is all the rage. As Vulture reported today in a conversation with the author, Atwood will be a consulting producer on the project, and has been a part of the extensive planning process to determine the show's structure. But she has no plans to write an episode: "I'm too old," she told the website.  "I think my role as a consultant is to stay alive until they finish it, so I can actually see it!" When asked by Vulture's Jennifer »


- Jacob Combs

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'Trip to Italy' Star Rob Brydon to Host BAFTA La's Britannias on October 30, BAFTA Awards Timetable

20 August 2014 12:36 PM, PDT

Are you a fan of "The Trip" or "The Trip to Italy?" Welsh comedian Rob Brydon costars in these Michael Winterbottom road trip comedies with Steve Coogan, and both are hilarious. There's something authentic and yet well-performed about the setup--two old actor friends go along on a food trip, competing for the attention of various tablemates and women and each other. Sometimes they annoy each other--and us--but more often they amuse.  Brydon did so well last year hosting the annual BAFTA La's Britannia awards--which are well attended by various awards contenders every fall--that the BAFTAs are bringing him back for a second time around. This year's pre-Halloween ceremony will be on October 30 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and broadcast by BBC America on November 2. Last year's show honorees were Kathryn Bigelow, George Clooney, Sacha Baron Cohen, Benedict Cumberbatch, Idris Elba, Sir Ben Kingsley, along »


- Anne Thompson

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Sundance Institute and Skywalker Sound Pick Participants for September Documentary Music and Sound Design Lab

20 August 2014 11:23 AM, PDT

The Sundance Institute will conduct 15 labs this year with the goal of helping emerging talent to improve their storytelling skills. The Institute and Skywalker Sound have chosen the filmmakers and composers for their second documentary music and sound design lab at Skywalker Sound in Northern California to be held this September. These residential Sundance labs collectively represent 20 weeks of residency support and mentorship for promising new independent film and theatre projects and artists from the United States and around the world. At the Music and Sound Design Lab, a joint initiative of the Institute’s Film Music Program and Documentary Film Program, composers, sound designers and directors will learn how to collaborate on designing a film soundtrack via workshops and creative exercises, under the tutelage of experienced film composers and music professionals. Creative Advisors this year include: composers Todd Boekelheide and Miriam Cutler; re-recording mixer »


- Anne Thompson

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'Don't Say No Until I Finish Talking,' TCM's Doc on Top Hollywood Producer Richard D. Zanuck, Heads to DVD

20 August 2014 10:49 AM, PDT

A must-see for students of Hollywood and would-be producers, Laurent Bouzereau’s inside-the-movie-biz documentary “Don’t Say No Until I Finish Talking: The Story of Richard D. Zanuck,” will be released on DVD this September, via Turner Classic Movies. Zanuck, the son of legendary 20th Century Fox co-founder and executive Darryl F. Zanuck, produced his first film, “Compulsion,” before he turned 25. He became president of a struggling Fox a few years later, only to be fired by his father, which led the younger Zanuck to jump to rival Warner Bros. as Executive Vice President. Richard Zanuck was the subject early in his career of one of the best Hollywood books ever written, John Gregory Dunne's "The Studio." (Read Anne Thompson's New York Times interview with Zanuck here.)  Richard Zanuck later joined with the late David Brown to produce many of Steven Spielberg’s early movies, such as “The Sugarland Express” and “Jaws, »


- Jacob Combs

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