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'Happy Christmas' Stars Melanie Lynskey and Mark Webber Dive Off the Deep End with Joe Swanberg

12 hours ago

Joe Swanberg is familiar to many as a genial Mumblecore director who has grown his popularity via SXSW and other film festivals around the country. He writes, directs, shoots, often acts and improvises his way through his low-budget naturalistic movies. While his last film "Drinking Buddies" required more writing and organization, current release "Happy Christmas" marks a return to his old ways, which means you need to like this kind of movie to enjoy it. He does character exploration really well, and his actors--in this case Melanie Lynskey, Anna Kendrick, Mark Webber and Lena Dunham--not to mention Swanberg himself--are so sharp and quick on their feet that they make the film feel vital and true. Kendrick plays the at-loose-end sister of an indie director (Swanberg), who visits her brother and his wife (Lynskey) and baby, staying in their basement. She has a fling with their babysitter and pot dealer »


- Anne Thompson

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'Guardians of the Galaxy''s Groot Deserves Best Animated Character of the Year Award

13 hours ago

The Visual Effects Society recognizes that it takes a village to create an animated character. As opposed to the Academy, whose Governors and voters are biased in favor of live action and on-screen actors. Well, one of the best animated characters I have ever seen--even better than the fabulous Andy Serkis's groundbreaking work with Weta Digital in everything from Gollum and King Kong to Caesar in the "Planet of the Apes" movies--is Groot in "Guardians of the Galaxy" (August 1). VFX houses Mpc and Framestore took the lead on Groot and his fab partner Rocket Raccoon (well-voiced by Bradley Cooper).  One reason: thanks to motion capture, you can feel the actor behind the animation--it's in the eyes. It's not just Vin Diesel's delivery of the phrase, "I am Groot," which provides comic relief. But this sentient tree is more than a formidable warrior. Groot is the power of nature, »


- Anne Thompson

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Matthew McConaughey Takes Giant Leaps for Mankind in New 'Interstellar' Trailer

14 hours ago

As we reported last week, Christopher Nolan and Matthew McConaughey dominated Comic-Con when they previewed the newest trailer for Nolan's upcoming Paramount feature, "Interstellar."  Today, that trailer was released to the public, and it's a home run. Here's what Anne had to say about Nolan and McConaughey's appearance at Comic-Con--a first time for both men: After a quiet first day at Comic-Con, Hall H was finally rocked Thursday afternoon at the Paramount panel by an original movie of clear scope and ambition. Christopher Nolan came to Comic-Con for the first time--making an unannounced visit with fellow Con virgin Matthew McConaughey --to show an early trailer for Paramount release "Interstellar" which hits theaters in November. The movie looks gorgeous as well as emotionally wrenching.Gorgeous, indeed: the new trailer boasts beautiful shots of space travel, McConaughey walking on alien planets, deep in the process of discovery, and offers a few »


- Jacob Combs

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The Met Opera Struggles to Adapt and Survive Amid Controversy ('60 Minutes' Video)

15 hours ago

A major labor lock-out looming, a famous composer's opera facing scrutiny from those fearing it will incite anti-Semitism abroad: these days, the majority of the drama at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City seems to be happening not onstage, but offstage. Thursday night, the Met's contract with 15 unions will expire, and the organization's general manager, Peter Gelb, has threatened to lock out many of the company's workers--among them musicians, singers, and stagehands--if they do not acquiesce to new contracts with pay and benefits cuts. The Met's already facing weak box office sales, and a delayed start to the new season starting September 22 could be very troubling for the financially struggling institution.  And, as the New York Times points out, the potential for damage lies not only in single tickets, but in the loss of subscriptions--a similar lockout in 1969 led to a major dip in subscribership. Both sides are preparing »


- Jacob Combs

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How Roadside Attractions Made Hit of 'Most Wanted Man,' Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, the Web is Changing the Movie Business

15 hours ago

Roadside Attractions co-presidents Howard Cohen and Eric d'Arbeloff are running their specialty label--co-owned by frequent distribution partner Lionsgate--with taste and smarts. They have a handle on what will work in the the specialty theatrical market, when to go day-and-date with VOD, and when to chase an Oscar campaign that can cost more than it's worth. (They did well with Oscar nominations for "Winter's Bone" and Jennifer Lawrence, "Biutiful" and Javier Bardem, and "Albert Nobbs" and Glenn Close, among others.) The Oscar question came up when their most recent release, Anton Corbijn's Sundance entry "A Most Wanted Man," based on the John Le Carré novel and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman in his last leading role, opened strong last weekend. Cohen came by Sneak Previews to talk about how they released the film, Hoffman, and the indies' future. He's bullish. Anne Thompson: "A Most Wanted Man" might have been a »


- Anne Thompson

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Trailers from Hell Catches the 'Curse of the Werewolf'

16 hours ago

Today on Trailers from Hell, John Landis talks the 1961 horror film "Curse of the Werewolf." Oliver Reed scores in one of his early lead roles as the tormented hero of Hammer Films' only foray into lycanthropy, set in 18th century Spain and shot on sets built for an Inquisition project that the censor forbid Hammer to make. Anthony Dawson is great as the depraved, syphilitic Marques Siniestro who sets the plot in motion. »


- Trailers From Hell

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'Guardians of the Galaxy' Review and Round-Up: Another Marvel Monster

29 July 2014 2:25 PM, PDT

Marvel knows how to throw audiences into a new world crammed with characters, deliver an origin myth (for those who haven't read the comics) and have a bit of fun. Watching a full house at L.A.'s Arclight removing their 3D glasses and emerge from the theater intently discussing "Guardians of the Galaxy," you could see that they liked it --a lot. Marvel has delivered another monster hit--proving that Marvel producer Kevin Feige --like sister Disney label Pixar's John Lasseter-- can land on a dime just about every time.  And if I were Lucasfilm's Kathleen Kennedy, who runs Disney's other label, I would be a tad worried about J.J. Abrams' "Star Wars" reboot, which has run through several writers, because "Guardians" cleverly builds on that DNA--set in a galaxy far far away, peopled by exotic aliens of varying shapes and sizes, focused on a romance between »


- Anne Thompson

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Dowdle Brothers Talk Supernatural Paris Catacombs of 'As Above, So Below' at Comic-Con (Trailer)

29 July 2014 1:54 PM, PDT

The found-footage sub-genre has really come of age, and the Dowdle Brothers ("Quarantine") give it their own supernatural spin with "As Above, So Below" (Aug. 29). But although they were playing with an Indiana Jones-like archaeological bit of horror, John Erick and Drew told me after the Legendary panel in Hall H that the project didn't coalesce until Legendary producer Thomas Tull pitched them the Paris catacombs concept. "Scarlet Marlowe [Perdita Weeks] is our fearless archaeologist who is searching for something and won't be stopped," explains director John Erick, who co-writes with brother Drew. "We were also fascinated with the stories of Nicolas Flamel, who allegedly discovered The Philosopher's Stone. But we wanted the movie to feel almost like: What would happen if you wandered into your own mind? The thing you would never tell another person. What would happen if you found that in a physical space? »


- Bill Desowitz

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Toronto Film Fest Doc Preview, from Oscar Hopefuls to Likely Buys (Midnight Madness, Vanguard Lineups)

29 July 2014 1:45 PM, PDT

It's become a tradition. As the Toronto International Film Festival (September 4 to 14, 2014)  documentary lineup is announced, programmer Thom Powers lays out the selection for us. What are the likely Oscar hopefuls, big buys, trends of the season? "This year’s selection is heavily populated with rebels, resisters and risk-takers,” Powers says, admitting that winnowing down hundreds of submissions to get to a couple dozen is difficult indeed. "You're inevitably saying no to worthy films." He also notes that several filmmakers such as Joshua Oppenheimer (Indonesia-set "The Look of Silence") and wine enthusiast Jonathan Nossiter ("Natural Resistance") return to subjects that "really get the most out of their expertise." More details below. As always, Powers gets into the thrill of the chase, landing the world premiere of "Aileen Wuornos: Portrait of a Serial Killer" filmmaker Nick Broomfield's »


- Anne Thompson

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Emmy Watch: Learning to Love 'Game of Thrones'

29 July 2014 10:29 AM, PDT

The first time I quit "Game of Thrones," in the midst of the prolonged setup that plagued season one, it came as a relief. No more referring to "that cute gay prince" (Renly) or "the thousand-year-old man" (Grand Meister Pycelle) in lieu of remembering their names; no more Daenerys brooding over her arranged marriage to Khal Drogo; no more directionless subplots to follow. The second time I quit "Game of Thrones," unable to bear watching as loyalists chattered in my ear about developments on the horizon, it came as a disappointment. The third time, I didn't quit "Game of Thrones." Instead, I learned to love it. HBO's fantasy epic, created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss from George R. R. Martin's series of novels, has become the watercooler series of the moment. Since the show's 2011 premiere, its Sunday night audience has expanded from some two million viewers to more than seven million, »


- Matt Brennan

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Guillermo Del Toro Talks the Horror and Romance of 'Crimson Peak' at Comic-Con

29 July 2014 9:01 AM, PDT

Guillermo del Toro, who's become quite the Comic-Con fixture, hugging fanboys and journos alike, admits that his gothic horror-romance, "Crimson Peak" (Oct. 16, 2015), is the biggest movie he's ever made. "Not only the scope is bigger, but I'm going to use a word that I don't normally touch, and that's ambition," he told me after his profane-laced Legendary Hall H panel. "This is an ambitious movie from the thematic point of view and from the visual point of view." However, even though del Toro constructed "an entire Victorian mansion three stories high, with working elevators, working bathrooms, rooms, a full library," the director insists that "Crimson Peak" is not a haunted house movie. Rather, with a great cast consisting of Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam, and Tom Hiddleston, this is gothic romance with a touch of horror that only del Toro could dream up: tapping both sides of his personality --. »


- Bill Desowitz

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Titans Peter Jackson and George Miller Take Over the Con with 'Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies' and 'Mad Max: Fury Road' (Posters & Trailers)

28 July 2014 1:25 PM, PDT

Despite the momentary wow factor of glimpsing that spooky stare-down in "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" (yes, Ben Affleck looks perfectly suited as The Dark Knight), the real joy of the Warner Bros. Hall H panel on Saturday was Peter Jackson and George Miller geeking out about the "The Hobbit" finale and the re-imagined "Mad Max." For Jackson, "The Battle of the Five Armies" represents the culmination of a 20-year cinematic love affair with J.R.R. Tolkien. In fact, he told moderator Stephen Colbert, the ultimate fanboy/expert, dressed in Middle-Earth garb, that the original plan was to make "The Hobbit" before "The Lord of the Rings." But Jackson intimated that the sequencing worked out better this way, with "The Hobbit" trilogy serving as a semi-prequel to the apocalyptic masterwork. While "An Unexpected Journey" is whimsical and innocent, and "The Desolation of Smaug" darker and more »


- Bill Desowitz

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Exclusive Trailer: 'Up Series' Director Michael Apted Reveals the Art of the Lens in New Doc 'Bending the Light'

28 July 2014 1:10 PM, PDT

Set to world-premiere at Michigan's Traverse City Film Festival on August 3, tireless Brit auteur Michael Apted's upcoming documentary "Bending the Light" takes a close look at the relationship between camera lenses, and photographers and filmmakers. Toh! has an exclusive on the film's trailer, below, plus the synopsis: From acclaimed director Michael Apted ("The Up Series," "Masters of Sex," "The World Is Not Enough") comes a revealing look at the art of filmmaking and photography. A journey of glass, the film explores the relationship between the artisans who craft camera lenses and the masters of light who use these lenses to capture their art form.  "Bending the Light" features never-before-seen footage from inside a premier Japanese lens factory, intimate interviews with lens engineers, and a peek into the world of award-winning photographers and cinematographers Greg Gorman, Laura El-Tantawy, Richard Barnes, and Stephen »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Career Watch: TV Provides Stepping Stone to Film for Edgy Emmy Nominees Dreyfuss, Driver, Louis C.K.

28 July 2014 11:36 AM, PDT

These days, a movie star can easily make the switch to TV with no loss of stature.  In fact, Matthew McConaughey’s acclaimed work on the HBO series “True Detective” probably helped to seal the deal on his Oscar win for “Dallas Buyers Club.” But taking the leap from TV to film? That’s an iffier proposition. Just because someone is popular on a small screen doesn’t mean they will have the same impact at the multiplex. And audiences often have a problem accepting a lead of a long-running series as a different character. Here are three actors – all competing for Emmys when this year’s ceremony airs on Aug. 25 – who have had varying degrees of success with conquering film.  Julia Louis-Dreyfus, 53, lead actress in a comedy series for HBO’s “Veep” Signature line:  “Only that it sucked.” – Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine Benes, replying when asked what was bad about »


- Susan Wloszczyna

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Ti West Moonlights on Trailers from Hell for 'Teen Wolf'

28 July 2014 11:23 AM, PDT

1985's "Teen Wolf" flips the similarly themed "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" on its head. Instead of the heavy breathing psychodrama of Michael Landon’s tortured teen, we’re treated to a family-friendly comedy where Michael Fox’s lycanthropic curse is used as a metaphor for self-empowerment. Director Rod Daniel’s film was a modest success leading to a sequel, a cartoon show and a live-action series that debuted in 2011 and is still running. »


- Trailers From Hell

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Exclusive: Outfest Horror Fave 'Lyle,' Starring Gaby Hoffmann, to Be Self-Distributed by Filmmakers (Trailer)

28 July 2014 10:49 AM, PDT

Eschewing more traditional distribution models, director Stewart Thorndike and producer Alex Scharfman have elected to stream "Lyle," the first of three female-focused horror films, for free. Streaming starts August 4 on the film's website, while Thorndike and Scharfman begin a Kickstarter campaign for their next film "Putney." This little domestic horror film a la "Rosemary's Baby" and "Repulsion," the effervescent Gaby Hoffmann ("Crystal Fairy," "Obvious Child" and HBO's "Girls") sheds her comedy routine for darker meat, here as a pregnant lesbian who becomes increasingly terrified by the world around her, questioning the motives of her lover and her friends and neighbors. Hoffmann won the Grand Jury Best Actress Award at Outfest, where the film world-premiered. "Lyle" is a well-shot and moody slice of terror, and perfect for streaming at home -- a place where, for Hoffmann's character, the »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Watch: New 'Sin City: A Dame to Kill For' Red Band Comic-Con Trailer Stars Sexy Alba, Green & Dawson

28 July 2014 10:36 AM, PDT

The latest trailer for "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" is here, and this time it's Red Band, and out of Comic-Con. From director Robert Rodriguez and graphic novelist/co-director Frank Miller, this stylish, slick, black-and-white crime thriller hits theaters August 22 -- and it stars Jessica Alba, Eva Green, Rosario Dawson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and all sorts of young and beautiful people doing very bad things. Read up on the Weinsteins' savvy, sexy marketing campaign here. Trailer below. »


- Ryan Lattanzio

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Weinstein Co. Awards Plans Come Into Focus: What Are Their Oscar Frontrunners?

28 July 2014 9:56 AM, PDT

Dating a film says a lot about a distributor's plans. So the later the film comes out--in the thick of the most congested season of the year-- the more willing the company is to step up and promote. It means they have skin in the Oscar game. There's no other reason to put out a limited-release movie in that time frame. Every year, Hollywood looks to the Weinstein Co. to put several awards-season players in the race. A wide release (such as Dimension's "Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For," set for August 22, and Christmas opener "Paddington Bear") bespeaks less confidence in award-season play, which usually involves sticking around in theaters for a while. At Cannes this May, Harvey Weinstein hosted his usual dog and pony show at the Hotel Majestic to promote his upcoming slate. There was plenty to savor. But it was hard to tell which »


- Anne Thompson

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Watch: Teaser for 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1,' Marking Philip Seymour Hoffman's Last Role

28 July 2014 8:05 AM, PDT

Said Philip Seymour Hoffman to Rolling Stone in 2005: "No one knows me. No one understands me. That's the other thing that changes as you get older. It's like everybody understands you. But no one understands me." With Hoffman's well-reviewed "A Most Wanted Man" scoring at the box office and the latest "Hunger Games" trailer-- marking Hoffman's last screen role --launched at Comic-Con, Rolling Stone is reposting their February feature, “Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Last Days,” which runs interviews with those who loved and (possibly) knew the man on a deeper, more personal level. While much of the article is a portrait in line with others that ran after his death, the rest does make us privy to something more complicated than his public persona— he was a man who "understood something dark and sad about human behavior.” Those who admired the actor — and I’d assume that’s just »


- Nick Newman

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Watch: Non-Stop Action in 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Comic-Con Trailer

27 July 2014 5:56 PM, PDT

The highlight of the Warner Bros. Comic-Con panel Saturday wasn't "Batman vs. Superman." It was George Miller's return to Max Max, "Fury Road." And Warner marketing didn't miss a trick, releasing the trailer for the post-apocalyptic actioner and posters the next day. Here you go.  When I interviewed Mel Gibson in Karlovy Vary (here), he told me that George Miller had initially considered casting him in "Fury Road" some years ago, but finally he was too old and they didn't see a need for a cameo. But new Max Rockatansky Tom Hardy did meet with Gibson to get his blessing, and he was impressed by the actor. Gibson says that Miller was trying to outdo not only his original trilogy, which reached its peak with the hugely influential "Road Warrior," but Quentin Tarantino in action mode. Miller wanted this movie--written by Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris-- to never stop moving, »


- Anne Thompson

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20 articles



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