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Berlin Review: With 'Paradise: Hope' Director Ulrich Seidl Closes Out His Trilogy On A Softer Note

17 February 2013 11:55 AM, PST

The final instalment in his 'Paradise' trilogy (here are our reviews of parts 1 and 2, "Paradise: Love" and "Paradise: Faith"), "Paradise: Hope" sees Austrian director Ulrich Seidl in gentler, less provocative form, delivering what most found to be certainly the most approachable film of the three when it played at the Berlin Film Festival this week. And it seems that has been the trajectory of these films overall, from an excoriating and difficult-to-watch opener with 'Love,' through the similarly controversial but more blackly comic 'Faith,' and now to 'Hope,' in which Seidl turns in his least thematically challenging movie, giving free reign to his talent for absurdly humorous visuals and straying dangerously close to a territory that, for him at least, could be called "sweet." That he centers all that around a 13-year-old resident of a summer camp for overweight children and features one of the camp's »

- Jessica Kiang

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Box Office: 'A Good Day To Die Hard' Has A Good Weekend At #1, 'Beautiful Creatures' Not So Pretty

17 February 2013 9:48 AM, PST

Welcome to the world of the new blockbuster. Would Hollywood studios learn to make good movies, or make smarter fiscal decisions first? Given that we're looking at "A Good Day To Die Hard" ruling over the box office, the latter is true, with the fifth installment in the action series winning a very close horse race on this Presidents' Day weekend. The fact that this opening is significantly smaller than the one for "Live Free Or Die Hard" and that the picture is assuredly the worst in the series turns out to be irrelevant. Fox broke the bank with a triple-digit budget on the more high-tech "Live Free Or Die Hard" five and a half years ago, but this time the Russia-set actioner reportedly only clocked in at $92 million. The ad campaign offered smirky Bruce Willis, with the acknowledgement that "Die Hard" was no longer a high concept but an institution of sorts. »

- Gabe Toro

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Berlin Review: 'Night Train To Lisbon' Chugs And Clanks Along In Old-Fashioned, Uninspired Style

17 February 2013 7:43 AM, PST

In the very finest tradition of europudding, director Bille August's "Night Train To Lisbon" adapts an international bestselling book, takes place against the picturesque backdrop of a European capital, is half-told in flashback through a turbulent and dramatic period of history, and stacks the cast with notable European thesps. These include, Jeremy Irons, Jack Huston, Charlotte Rampling, Christopher Lee, Tom Courtenay representing the U.K.; from Germany, Martina Gedeck and August Diehl; Bruno Ganz of Switzerland; Lena Olin of Sweden; and Mélanie Laurent from France. However, bar Irons, this Babel tower of actors all play Portuguese nationals, and so while the films is told through English, they all speak with Portuguese accents. Irons, however, plays Swiss, which obviously means he employs his usual mellifluous British tones. A little silly though all this is, it's not actually particularly injurious to our understanding of the story, but it does give you an. »

- Jessica Kiang

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Interview: Oscar-Nominated ‘Redemption’ Directors Talk The Surprises & Complications Of Following NYC Canners

17 February 2013 7:13 AM, PST

If you live in New York City, or have even visited the city, you’ve noticed them: people who dig through trash cans and garbage bags looking for cans that they can use to recycle for cash. They are a marginalized group, sometimes hauling hundreds of pounds of recyclables around. They're also the subject of a fascinating new HBO documentary short called “Redemption,” directed by Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill, that is nominated for the Best Documentary Short Oscar next weekend. The 30-minute film focuses on the different types of canners, some of whom are incredibly surprising, and the very distinct world that they inhabit. We got to talk to the directors (who were previously nominated for a 2010 Academy Award for their film "China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of the Sichuan Province," about the 2008 earthquake) about what surprised them about making the documentary, how 'Redemption' illuminates an underexposed part of the. »

- Drew Taylor

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The H Is Silent: Watch Christoph Waltz In SNL's Quentin Tarantino Parody 'Djesus Uncrossed'

17 February 2013 6:45 AM, PST

"Saturday Night Live" is in something of a transitional period, one of many in its 30-odd-year history. Last season saw the show's two biggest stars, Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg depart, with Jason Sudeikis likely to follow at the end of the current season (and Bill Hader and Fred Armisen surely not far behind). At the same time, there's been a hugely promising new intake; Taran Killam is coming into his own, and this season's newcomers Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant have proven to be goddamn rock stars straight out of the gate. But so far, the writing too often has let the cast down, and for every decent host like a Jennifer Lawrence or a Seth MacFarlane, there's been dead wood like Daniel Craig or Jeremy Renner. Fortunately, last night's show saw a happy medium of good material and an excellent host, with Christoph Waltz an inspired choice, »

- Oliver Lyttelton

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'Argo' & 'Silver Linings Playbook' Take Top Editing Prizes At Ace Eddie Awards

17 February 2013 6:20 AM, PST

Seven days left until the Oscars, and the final precursor awards roll out this weekend. Tonight sees the WGA Awards, and last night was the Ace Eddie Awards, run by the organization for film editors, and rewarding the best editing in cinema in 2012. And we're sure it won't come as a huge surprise to you that "Argo" was the big winner of the night with the film's cutter, William Goldenberg, beating "Life Of Pi," "Lincoln," "Skyfall" and "Zero Dark Thirty" in the Best Edited Feature Film (Drama) category. Meanwhile, "Silver Linings Playbook" editors Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers picked up the Best Edited Feature Film (Comedy or Musical) prize over "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," "Les Misérables," "Moonrise Kingdom" and "Ted." While 'Silver Linings' is certainly an Oscar contender in many categories, it seems unlikely to be a real threat in the »

- Oliver Lyttelton

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'Child's Pose' Wins Golden Bear, David Gordon Green & Richard Linklater Take Awards At Berlin Film Festival

17 February 2013 6:20 AM, PST

Ten days went by like a flash....and just like that, another year has closed on the Berlin International Film Festival. But before jury president Wong Kar-Wai packed his bags, there were some awards to hand out, so get out a pen and paper because these are some films you're going to want to keep on your radar over the coming year. Taking the Golden Bear in 2013 was Romanian film "Child's Pose" from director Calin Peter Netzer. His third feature, Netzer has been quietly making a name for himself on the festival circuit, but gets one of his biggest wins to date for his tale about a mother who tries to keep her son out of prison after he runs over and kills a child. The film currently has no U.S. distribution, but that situation will hopefully change, with the big prize win certain to put the picture on a few more radars. »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Berlin Review: The Trials Of 'Camille Claudel 1915' Make For Trying Watching, Even With Juliette Binoche In Peerless Form

16 February 2013 9:02 AM, PST

Director Bruno Dumont ("The Life of Jesus," "Outside Satan") has made a name for himself with challenging, sometimes controversial films that often feature non-professional actors and considered, not to say glacial, pacing interrupted with scenes of violence. But with "Camille Claudel 1915" he abandons some aspects of that approach while ever more fully indulging others. So for the first time he has a name star in Juliette Binoche, who turns in a reliably committed and remarkably naked performance as the titular Claudel, but here Dumont slows the pace of the action to almost nil, and punctuates it only with long talky tracts until the film becomes either a masterpiece of the "slow and boring" school of cinema, or an occasionally excruciating form of Chinese water torture, depending on your point of view. Unlike our Indiewire colleague Eric Kohn, whose almost beat-for-beat contrasting review you can read here, we unfortunately fall more into the. »

- Jessica Kiang

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First Look At Josh Brolin As Dwight In 'Sin City: A Dame To Kill For'

16 February 2013 8:43 AM, PST

Amid the starry cast, the sexy women and even sexier violence, it's easy to forget that "Sin City," and it's forthcoming sequel "Sin City: A Dame To Kill For," are some impressive feats of technology as well. Robert Rodriguez has devised a rather fascinating approach that both keeps the budget down, but also allows him plenty of creative flexibility and the ability to eliminate any kind of scheduling problems. Shooting mostly on green screen, the "Sin City" films use lots of CGI to give a stylish look at the fraction of the cost of trying to replicate it realistically, and thanks to digital and editing wizardry, cast members don't even have to be standing opposite each other in order to interact. And as he gets 'Dame' ready for release later this year, Rodriguez has given a little sneak preview. The director hit Twitter last night to reveal his process, and »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Berlin Review: River Phoenix's Last Film 'Dark Blood' A Serviceable Movie, But A Fascinating Project

16 February 2013 8:17 AM, PST

River Phoenix died at in 1993 at just 23 years of age, and to a certain generation of then-teenage movie fans, of whom this writer was one, it was maybe the first of that kind of celebrity death, the kind you remember where you were when you heard about it. I was in a car with my mom, and I recall the radio report ended with a mention of Federico Fellini's death the same day (at 73 the Italian director, despite his greatness, was always going to be the Farrah Fawcett to Phoenix's Michael Jackson in the coincidental celebrity death stakes). Now 20 years on, the Berlin Film Festival is showing Phoenix's last film, "Dark Blood," by Dutch director George Sluizer (the original "The Vanishing" and his vastly inferior American remake) in unfinished form, and it makes for surprisingly thought-provoking viewing. It appears to be a labor of love, or perhaps of remembrance »

- Jessica Kiang

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What Are You Seeing This Weekend? 'Escape From Planet Earth' With 'A Good Day To Die Hard' & 'Beautiful Creatures'

15 February 2013 4:11 PM, PST

Dear faithful readers, we hope you enjoyed your day of stuffed animals, roses, and antacids in the shape of little hearts. Or maybe you just got drunk and ate cheesecake (after which you probably needed a couple of those Rolaids disguised as candy). Holiday traditions are the best, aren't they? Well, in case you didn't get enough of the love, there's plenty going around in theaters this weekend. A(nother) fantastical being falls hard for a(nother) human, John McClane bonds with his son, a call girl finds herself torn between a client and her fiancé, paramours turn pathological in an Indian remake, and one more Nicholas Sparks lovefest sobathon -- er, novel -- gets a silver screen adaptation. Be sure to pack some insulin for the sugar rush, and tell us what you'll be seeing in the comments below! "A Good Day to Die Hard" opened Thursday. Directed by John Moore. »

- Emma Bernstein

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Watch: Powerful Trailer For Cristian Mungiu's Cannes Prize-Winning 'Beyond The Hills'

15 February 2013 2:43 PM, PST

In just over a week, the Oscars will be over and we'll put 2012 to bed and start focusing on 2013. And while they probably won't get nominated for Oscars, we're willing to bet that Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan will deliver some of the best performances you'll see all year in "Beyond The Hills" (and indeed, they both shared an acting prize at the Cannes Film Festival last year). The latest trailer for Cristian Mungiu's film has arrived, and it's a powerful piece of work. The story centers on Alina (Flutur) and Voichita (Stratan), who both grew up in an orphange together and have a relationship that's a bit more than friends. Their paths eventually separate, and when Alina comes to take Voichita out of a strictly orthodox religious compound where she now lives, they both wind up facing forces bigger than they expected. All of Mungiu's trademark techniques are here, »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Watch: 30-Minute Featurette For 'Silver Linings Playbook' Features Robert De Niro Crying, Dr. Oz & More

15 February 2013 2:16 PM, PST

Behold, the power of Harvey Weinstein. While he's known for being a tough customer, the super producer -- like we've said time and time again -- is one of the best allies to have in your corner to promote your movie. And he's shown exactly why he's still the best in the game with "Silver Linings Playbook." After premiering the film at Tiff to enthusiastic reviews and winning the People's Choice Award in the process, many found it strange that he chose to platform the movie. Well, thirteen weeks and eight Oscar nominations later, he's laughing last as the movie makes its way toward $100 million domestic. And now comes the victory lap. The Weinstein Company has dropped a staggering 30-minute behind-the-scenes look at the movie, which might as well also be a promo reel for what Harvey will do for your movie. It recaps the journey the movie has taken, »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Jason Momoa In The Mix To Play Drax The Destroyer In 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'

15 February 2013 1:31 PM, PST

There was a moment, however fleeting, when Jason Momoa was supposed to be the next big thing. But then "Conan The Barbarian" came out, and it was awful and tanked, and the only thing the actor has done since was Sylvester Stallone's "Bullet To The Head," which met a similar fate. But could a Marvel movie be in the cards? The actor is apparently in the mix to play Drax The Destroyer in "Guardians Of The Galaxy," with Latino Review reporting that he has an offer, while THR counters that he has simply tested. In either case, it's clear he's under consideration and he's as good a fit as any to play the ripped superhero who squares off against Thanos frequently in the comics. He can fly, has super strength and can throw cosmic energy around like it's no thing. Isiah Mustafa, Dave Bautista, and Brian Patrick reportedly also tested for the part, »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Brad Pitt Passes On David Fincher's '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea'; Director May Not Helm 'House Of Cards' Season 2 Episodes

15 February 2013 1:07 PM, PST

A little clarification on THR's David Fincher/"20,000 Leagues Under The Sea" report. Yes, Disney is debating whether to shoot the 3D tentpole in Australia and the trade reports there are lots of financial incentives to do so, but Fincher did his location scouting (and met with Aussie federal arts minister Simon Crean) six months ago. And yes, Brad Pitt is not set to star in the film, but that's not because this deal isn't done. Sources tell us Pitt officially passed on the David Fincher project after initially agreeing to take the lead about a month ago (the always finicky Pitt strikes again). So where is "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea" now, status wise? Well, it's essentially greenlit with or without Pitt, the problem for Fincher is all the actors he wants -- the names are unclear at the moment, but Channing Tatum is one that came up -- aren't available to shoot until next year. »

- Edward Davis

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Activist Actors: Matt Damon Goes On Strike For Clean Water & Joaquin Phoenix Drowns For PETA In New Promo Spots

15 February 2013 12:28 PM, PST

Actors and charitable causes have been tied together almost as long as the medium itself, but it seems like they've never been more public when it comes to awareness. From star-studded fundraisers to internet campaigns and more, you can't turn around without another issue being raised. But perhaps realizing it can be hard to cut through the noise, a couple recent spots grabbed our attention for being humorous or compelling in their approach. First off, Matt Damon features in a pretty clever and funny spot for Water.org, in which he announces he's going on strike (from what exactly, you'll just have to see below), until the issue of clean water for all is solved. It's a pretty smart way to include the talking points Damon and the organization want to bring up, without hitting you over the head with it. Also, this is peppered with cameos galore so it's well worth the watch. »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Criterion's May Slate Includes '3:10 To Yuma,' Haskell Wexler's 'Medium Cool,' Mike Leigh's 'Life Is Sweet' & More

15 February 2013 12:12 PM, PST

Saddle up, because Criterion has dropped the veil on the May releases and they've got a couple of gunslinging classics to share, along with some works from a couple auteurs and much more. So let's dive in. First off, Delmar Davies gets a nice hat tip as both "3:10 To Yuma" and "Jubal" are getting stamped with the C. The former is probably the best known of the pair (partially due to remake by James Mangold in 2007 starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale) about a mild mannered rancher who brings a wanted outlaw to the train station. This disc will carry a high-def transfer, but not much else in the way of extras. Same goes for "Jubal," about a cattleman who becomes the centerpiece in a roiling drama on a ranch. But hell, two movies with Glenn Ford shoud be enough to please anyway. Meanwhile, cinematographer Haskell Wexler's directorial »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Best Cast Gets Better: Jennifer Lawrence Reunites With David O. Russell & Bradley Cooper For Abscam Film

15 February 2013 11:42 AM, PST

So, what could make a cast with Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Amy Adams and Louis C.K. even better? How about some Jennifer Lawrence? That's right, the Oscar-nominated actress has reteamed with David O. Russell, her "Silver Linings Playbook" director, for his untitled Abscam movie, aka "American Bullshit." Penned by Eric Singer, the film will tell the true story of a famed financial con artist (Bale) and his mistress/partner in crime (Adams) who were forced to work with an out of control federal agent (Cooper) to turn the tables on other con artists, mobsters and politicians. At the epicenter of the entire tale is the passionate and volatile leader of the New Jersey state assembly (Renner), who is also the local hero and mayor of impoverished Camden. Lawrence will play Bale's wife (faints), and while there's still no word yet on C.K.'s part, it's said to be a "key role. »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Watch: Trailer For Equestrian Drama 'Jappeloup' Starring Guillaume Canet & Daniel Auteuil

15 February 2013 11:21 AM, PST

Way back in the summer of 2011 it was reported that veteran Daniel Auteuil would star opposite “Tell No One” and "Little White Lies" helmer/actor Guillaume Canet in the Olympic equestrian drama “Jappeloup.” And though it’s taken a while, we finally have our first look at the film. An unsubtitled French trailer for the picture has appeared online -- find your nearest French speaker -- and it looks fitfully stirring and doesn’t betray any hint of director Christian Duguay’s previous efforts, which include everything from “Scanners III: The Takeover” to the 2000 Wesley Snipe vehicle “The Art Of War.” And even if the helmer doesn’t have the steadiest of hands, you can rest easy knowing that Canet himself has written the film, which is based on the true story of French jockey Pierre Durand, who in 1998 nursed a small black horse, the titular Jappeloup, from injury to »

- Cain Rodriguez

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Berlin Review: Animated 'The Croods' Sacrifices Story & Character On Altar Of Impressive 3D Visuals

15 February 2013 11:00 AM, PST

We suspect our reaction may be out of step with the general consensus of press at our Berlin Film Festival screening of the "The Croods" today, if the guffaws and applause were anything to go by, but really that had us kind of baffled. The DreamWorks film, from writer/directors Chris Sanders ("How to Train Your Dragon," "Lilo & Stitch") and Kirk Di Micco ("Space Chimps"), features a starry voice cast in Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman and Clark Duke, and an appropriately high concept: the Croods are a family of cavemen who have to evolve suddenly when faced with cataclysmic natural disasters and the arrival of a young Homo Sapiens with the ability to make fire. But while the premise, with its roots in ancient human history, is quite promising, it doesn't appear to have been fertile enough for Sanders and Dimicco who elect to »

- Jessica Kiang

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