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Tokyo Film Festival: John Lasseter Turns "Cool Japan" Talk Into Heartfelt Tribute To Hayao Miyazaki

12 hours ago

The woman three seats down from me had a Woody The Cowboy doll whose arm she waved excitedly whenever the Disney/Pixar head honcho said anything she particularly agreed with (which happened a lot, but with a four second delay for translation). The guy next to her was wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt in subtler homage to the visiting dignitary’s trademark penchant for same. And the young woman between us wore a miniskirt emblazoned with an entire “Spider-Man” comic paired with clashing cartoon Converse and pantyhose dotted with hearts and Mickey Mouses. Ok, she was a little off-brief, but at least she was exuberantly so. Welcome to the press area for the Tokyo International Film Festival talk from amiable animation genius John Lasseter, formerly of Disney, founding member of Pixar, now Chief Creative Officer of Disney/Pixar. He was in town (if you can call the vast, intricate megalopolis »

- Jessica Kiang

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Tokyo Film Festival Review: Ann Hui’s Visually Lustrous, Dramatically Lax Biopic ‘The Golden Era’

12 hours ago

If you already know your oats about 20th-Century Chinese literature, you will no doubt already know of Xiao Hong, the immensely respected female novelist, poet, and short story writer, and may indeed be anxious to glimpse behind the veil of her canonical works at the woman within. If you do not, however, you may wonder why you are spending three-hours of your life trundling after this painfully self-serious character as she is buffeted by the fickle winds of fate and her own, often self-defeating, will across the divided, war torn, and finally occupied China of the 1930s and ‘40s. Ann Hui’s film "The Golden Era" was an odd choice to close the Venice Film Festival (to muted reaction), but feels like it may play a little better in the context of the Tokyo International Film Festival, with its focus on pan-Asian cinema. But it still does not work for »

- Jessica Kiang

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Tokyo Film Festival Review: Edmund Yeo’s Promising Feature Debut 'River Of Exploding Durians'

12 hours ago

By contrast with the title, which might evoke fast-flowing cascades and fruit-based fireworks, Edmund Yeo’s debut feature, "River of Exploding Durians," is a film of much stiller waters. But they run deep, with ideas heady and peculiar enough that, if you have the patience, you could well identify in the Malaysian Yeo a promising new auteurist voice in the Slow Cinema movement. Playing in competition at the Tokyo International Film Festival, 'Durians' is marred by stylistic issues characteristic of an inexperienced filmmaker with perhaps only faltering visual confidence (far too many tortuous pans across empty spaces between actual points of interest). But the fundamentals of performance and scripting are solid, occasionally exceptional. In fact, one lofty comparison point that occurred to us was with Andrei Konchalovsky’s Venice winner “The Postman’s White Nights,” which is also a slow-moving drama undercut by weirder and more uncanny goings-on beneath the. »

- Jessica Kiang

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Watch: A Twisted Jake Gyllenhaal Crosses The Line In Wicked Red Band Trailer For ‘Nightcrawler’

24 October 2014 7:06 PM, PDT

Not to bring things back to Oscar, perhaps a lowest common denominator form of conversation for movies, but it would be some kind of shame if Jake Gyllenhaal doesn’t get a well-deserved nomination for “Nightcrawler” because he’s all kinds of wicked and twisted worthy. Some pundits are questioning whether that’ll happen or not, but I suppose that’s someone else’s concern at the end of the day. Because ultimately, “Nightcrawler” is a deliriously manic ride that everyone involved should be proud of. Written and directed by veteran screenwriter Dan Gilroy, filmmaker Tony Gilroy’s brother and co-writer on “The Bourne Legacy” among many other projects, “Nightcrawler” is a scathing and savage tour de force drama that comments on media ethics, the bloodsporting of ruthless media, and a growing economic disparity that is cleaving culture. It’s also a dark and funny character study of an obsessive »

- Rodrigo Perez

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Review: Absorbing, Thoughtful 'The Heart Machine' Starring John Gallagher Jr. And Kath Lyn Sheil

24 October 2014 2:05 PM, PDT

As more tools, apps, devices, and iProducts emerge to ease the struggles of modern existence, the manifestations of each invention come with unforeseen consequences. And as such, as the digital age progresses, the complexities of intimacy, relationships, and sex are increased. While the stigma of online dating has largely vanished, the prevalence of hook-up driven culture via apps like Blendr, Grindr, and such reveal that, as technology evolves, options we didn’t even realize we wanted become available. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? New sexual possibilities could lie at the click of a button, and disconnecting anxieties will appear as the endlessly changing terrain continues to shift. And so, “The Heart Machine,” written and directed by filmmaker Zachary Wigon, explores these concepts while examining the byproduct of the distance, estrangement, and alienation these applications for connection produce. Beginning in medias res, John Gallagher Jr. (HBO's "The »

- Rodrigo Perez

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Comics Roundup: Adam McKay May Direct A Marvel Movie, Quicksilver To Appear In 'X-Men: Apocalypse' & More

24 October 2014 2:01 PM, PDT

It's the end of week, so let's take a few minutes to clear off some of the various comic book movie bits and bobs that have been hanging around our digital desk.... First up, Adam McKay, who gave Edgar Wright's "Ant-Man" a "bigger" and "funnier" rewrite, says he might direct a movie for Marvel. "I’m starting to get into the early stages with Marvel. There’s plenty of fun stuff and our company always has tons of things so we have a couple movies coming out this year,” he told Collider. "I just did a big rewrite on 'Ant-Man' with Paul Rudd and had such a great time working with them that we’re kicking around ideas. But yeah, maybe I would take on one of the characters so we haven’t locked in anything, but discussions are definitely going on.” Which character do you think McKay has right sensibilities for? »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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'Foxcatcher' & 'Zero Dark Thirty' Cinematographer Greig Fraser To Lens Gareth Edwards' 'Star Wars' Spinoff

24 October 2014 1:24 PM, PDT

In 2012, we placed Greig Fraser in our On The Rise: Cinematographers feature, and now, two years later, the man is behind the camera of two of fall's biggest films, "Foxcatcher" and "The Gambler." It's nice to see that the industry has taken notice in the tremendous work he's been doing, and now he's going blockbuster. In an interview with In Contention, Fraser reveals he'll be the Dp on the Gareth Edwards' "Star Wars" spinoff, and like many of the folks getting involved with the new batch of films, there's something about the nostalgic pull that can't be resisted. "...it's never been my goal to do 'big' films because a big film in itself is not very interesting to me. I don't love big films for the sake of big films. It's not been a career drive to get to that point," he said. "But it's really exciting purely just »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Jesse Eisenberg May Return As Lex Luthor In 'Suicide Squad'

24 October 2014 12:34 PM, PDT

Warner Bros. isn't wasting a moment in turning the wheels on their DC Comics movie universe. The hunt is on for a female director to helm "Wonder Woman" with a number of candidates in the mix, and now they are ensuring the Marvel-style world building takes place as they set the blockbuster path to 2020. Deadline reports that discussions are underway for Jesse Eisenberg to reprise his role of Lex Luthor in David Ayer's "Suicide Squad." So I guess, spoiler alert, he doesn't die in "Superman v. Batman: Dawn Of Justice." Then again, nobody ever really dies in comic book movies these days. But it's easy to see why WB wants to keep the actor, and more importantly, the character, around. He's one of Superman's key enemies, but not only that, in the "The Doomsday Protocol" run of comics, he organizes the Suicide Squad to recruit Doomsday (rumored as the »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Review: The Recut ‘Low Down’ Starring Elle Fanning & John Hawkes Is Still Too Shapeless

24 October 2014 12:15 PM, PDT

Reviewer’s note: I saw “Low Down” at Sundance earlier this year in January. Since then, the movie has apparently gone through some kind of rigorous edit to improve the picture and give it shape. Having recently rewatched the new edit—now 114 minutes down from 119 originally—I can safely say that most of the original issues still stand, unfortunately. John Hawks and Elle Fanning are great, but “Low Down” is still far too monotonous, lethargic, and sluggish a picture to really endorse in any meaningful way. What follows is a slightly edited version of my original Sundance review. Evincing a similar mustard brown aesthetic and destitute mood—spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically—“Low Down” is to 1970s jazz what John Huston’s “Fat City” is to that era of boxing: a down and out look at talented three-time losers that can’t get past their addictions, demons, and terribly self-destructive qualities. »

- Rodrigo Perez

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Watch: Vintage 23-Minute 'Alien' Interview With Ridley Scott, H.R. Giger, Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt & More

24 October 2014 11:44 AM, PDT

Few films possess the skin-crawling nightmare sensibility of Ridley Scott’s “Alien,” a claustrophobic classic that has burrowed its way into the minds of moviegoers for decades now. Scott has since dabbled in a slew of genres—everything from gangster yarns to swords and sandals epics—and yet, some argue that he’s never come close to capturing the sinister perfection on display in his landmark 1979 sci-fi picture. For those who consider themselves “Alien” obsessives—and lord knows they are legion—we have here an in-depth interview from 1979 about the film’s conception and production, featuring detailed interviews with the cast and crew (via Eyes On Cinema). The doc is certainly a product of its time—the agreeably grainy visuals and Tom Skerritt’s epic facial hair mark it as such—but it’s also vital to understanding the tremendous influence “Alien” has had since its initial release. Certainly when »

- Nicholas Laskin

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'The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby' Soundtrack Features Cat Power, Son Lux, Pink Skull & More

24 October 2014 11:13 AM, PDT

It’s a little bit after the fact, as the movie already hit theaters, but Lakeshore Records will release The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack digitally on October 28th and on CD, November 18th. Son Lux scored the movie, and he’s represented here with the original track “No Fate Awaits Me,” performed by the composer with Faux Fix. The soundtrack also features songs by Cat Power, Elliphant, Amason, Roxxpin, and the classic cut “So In Love” by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. “I think the most exciting thing for me was working on the score with the composer Son Lux aka Ryan Lott,” director Ned Benson said in a statement. “Ryan and his collaborators made instruments for the film, and he had the beautiful idea after watching an early cut to use objects that exist within the space of the scenes and create instruments based on »

- The Playlist Staff

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Watch: 'The Invisible Man,' A 50-Minute Documentary On The Life And Career Of Stanley Kubrick

24 October 2014 10:45 AM, PDT

If you’re reading this website, you know Stanley Kubrick. You know he’s inarguably one of the most important filmmakers in the history of the medium, and you probably know that his attention to detail, sense of composition, and meticulous fixation over every aspect of his productions is virtually unmatched by any director, living or dead. What you may not know is that Kubrick’s life was just as fascinating as the films he made. A notorious recluse, perfectionist, and (some say) film-set dictator, he demanded nothing but the best out of everyone he worked with. Yet, in spite of his undeniable technical prowess, he has sometimes been accused of being a cold director, of viewing humanity from a God-sized distance. This claim is unfair and untrue for a number of reasons, chief being that his personality found a way into virtually all of his films. His doubt in »

- Nicholas Laskin

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Seth Rogen, Megan Fox, Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, Dave Franco And More Join James Franco’s 'Zeroville'

24 October 2014 10:16 AM, PDT

It's not easy to keep track of the 1001 things James Franco is up to at any moment, so you probably forgot that in 2011, he optioned the rights to "Zeroville" by Steve Erickson. Well, Franco surely didn't forget this was on his To Do list, as the project is up and running, and he's using his extensive Rolodex to fill out the cast.  Screen Daily reports that Seth Rogen, Jacki Weaver, Megan Fox, Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, Dave Franco, Craig Robinson, Joey King and Horatio Sanz have joined "Zeroville," which is now shooting with Franco directing and, of course, leading the film. And it has a meta flavor to it, it's a movie about the movies, with the story revolving around a film-obsessed architecture student who is mistaken for one of the perpetrators of the Manon murders, and has the pictures of Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift from "A Place In The Sun »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Looking Back At James Cameron’s ‘The Terminator’ On Its 30th Anniversary

24 October 2014 9:28 AM, PDT

Exactly 30 years ago this coming Sunday, a low-budget sci-fi B-movie, for which the releasing studio had but low expectations, directed by the unheralded filmmaker behind “Piranha II: The Spawning,” starring a heavily accented ex-Mr Universe, opened on just over a thousand screens across the U.S. Spin forward three decades and we can rewrite almost every element of that sentence: instead of a down-and-dirty sci-fi cheapie, we’re talking about a franchise-starting behemoth that would spawn sequels, reboots, TV shows, arcade games and other merchandise, all adding up to one of the most lucrative properties the movies have ever seen. The neophyte filmmaker of course grew up to be James Cameron, world-conquering director of both the number one and number two highest-grossing films of all time; the bodybuilder/punchline Arnold Schwarzenegger became the biggest star in the world prior to becoming Governator of California; and far from trading in low expectations, »

- Jessica Kiang

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'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies' Will Conclude With A 45-Minute Battle Sequence

24 October 2014 9:00 AM, PDT

“We have a rule that we’re not allowed to go more than two or three shots of anonymous people fighting without cutting back to our principal characters,” Peter Jackson told EW. “Otherwise the audience just ends up with battle fatigue.” And with the magazine reporting that "The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies" will cap off with a 45-minute battle sequence, it's at least good to know that the director is trying to make sure we remain engaged by the CGI onslaught. That said, it's easy to forget that this kind of stuff takes a helluva lot of planning. “There’s a lot of logistics that have to be thought through,” Jackson says of the epic action scene which will take place at the base of The Lonely Mountain. “We have dwarves and men and elves and orcs, all with different cultures, with different weapons, and different shields and patterns and tactics. »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Rumor: Kathryn Bigelow, Catherine Hardwicke & More On Shortlist To Direct 'Wonder Woman'

24 October 2014 8:39 AM, PDT

With Warner Bros. laying out the roadmap for their DC Comics movies through 2020, get ready for years of speculation about cast members and directors, so let's get started with "Wonder Woman." THR reports that the studio is already looking for a woman to direct the Gal Gadot-starring film slated for 2017. Meanwhile, over at Forbes, they've already got a list of the names that are apparently on WB's shortlist. Let's take a look.... According to business site, Kathryn Bigelow ("Zero Dark Thirty"), Catherine Hardwicke ("Twilight"), Karyn Kusama ("Girlfight"), Mimi Leder ("Deep Impact"), and Julie Taymor ("Across The Universe") are all names being tossed around. Of course, some are more likely than others, even at first glance. Bigelow seems a long shot, though is easily the most desirable name from a studio standpoint. She's an acclaimed, Oscar-winning filmmaker who can do action and drama, and would bring a serious face »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Contest: Win Tickets For Museum Of The Moving Image Talk With George Clinton & 'Cosmic Slop' Screening

24 October 2014 8:05 AM, PDT

There are few music personalities as colorful, wild, outrageous, and, well, funky as George Clinton. The man who gave the world Parliament and Funkandelic, and has made generations of listeners get up and shake it, is coming to New York City, and we want you to be there. On Monday, Clinton will appear at the Museum Of The Moving Image to present a screening of the 1994 HBO special "Cosmic Slop." It's a controversial triptych directed by Reginald Hudlin, Warrington Hudlin, and Kevin Rodney Sullivan. Based on the short story "The Space Traders" by Derrick Bell, it imagines a future where extraterrestrials promise the United States untold riches...if they hand over all the black people in the country. The screening will be followed by a talk with Clinton, who just released the memoir "Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin' Kinda Hard on You?," along with a book signing. »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Casting: Jack O’Connell Eyed For Gilliam's 'Don Quixote,' Chiwetel Ejiofor Joins 'The Martian' & More

24 October 2014 7:27 AM, PDT

Continually on the precipice of happening (or not), Terry Gilliam's "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" appears to be flirting with a new cast member to join John Hurt in the troubled production. "Unbroken" and "Starred Up" star Jack O'Connell is apparently "in discussions" for the project, which is now tentatively aiming to shoot next fall. It would certainly be a major coup for Gilliam, with O'Connell sure to be more of a household name following Angelina Jolie's World War II later this year. But you never know with 'Don Quixote' how things will shake out, so we'll just have to wait and see. [Daily Mail] Ethan Hawke is getting in the jazzy spirit, taking the lead role in the Chet Baker biopic "Born To Be Blue." Writer-director Robert Budreau’s film follows "Chet Baker’s amazing comeback and roller coaster love affair that altered the way he »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Review: Documentary '21 Years: Richard Linklater' With Ethan Hawke, Matthew McConaughey, Julie Delpy & More

24 October 2014 7:05 AM, PDT

Even though he created some of the most daring, original, honest, and sometimes downright hilarious films of the last two-and-a-half decades, Richard Linklater might be the most underrated director in contemporary American cinema. Every die-hard cinephile, and even a good percentage of casual movie watchers, have their favorite Linklater masterpiece they hold close to their hearts with a profoundly personal attachment, a film they’ll go out of their way to recommend to friends and family. Fans even talk up his successful mainstream work, like the infectiously adorable “School of Rock,” as if they are their own personal discoveries. And yet, that film was far from obscure art-house fare. It was a massive mainstream hit that grossed $131 million dollars worldwide, and even has a TV spinoff in the works. Yet it contained such heartwarming honesty and genuine compassion for its characters, fans still took it upon themselves to champion what was technically a major. »

- Oktay Ege Kozak

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Watch: Spike Lee’s Great 16-Minute Documentary 'I Throw Like A Girl' About Little League Phenom Mo’ne Davis

24 October 2014 6:17 AM, PDT

While his features continue to be hit and miss affairs, Spike Lee's documentaries still rank among his best work, and that's no different with his latest, "I Throw Like A Girl." This terrific, 16-minute doc turns the camera on 13-year-old Mo'ne Davis, the Little League pitcher and phenom who managed to bump NBA star Kobe Bryant off the cover of Sports Illustrated following her performance in the Little League World Series this past summer (she was the first girl to pitch a shutout in the series). With insights from her coach and family, Lee's film not only profiles Davis' accomplishments on the mound, but her talent on the basketball court, and her natural ability and work ethic (she's on the honor roll too) that paints a bright future for the athlete, who already has eyes on the Wnba. Even if you don't know your curveball from a three-pointer, this is  inspiring stuff, »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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