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Telluride Review: Jean-Marc Vallée’s ‘Wild’ Starring Reese Witherspoon

3 hours ago

In the summer of 1995, 26-year-old Cheryl Strayed decided to walk the entire length of the Pacific Crest Trail by herself without having ever having attempted a serious hike in her life before. Following the death of her mother and after years of dissolute self-destructive behavior, Strayed found herself divorced, alone, lost and on a frayed edge of personal despair. Desperately trying to find here humanity and reclaim an ideal self, she impulsively set out, ill-equipped and inexperienced, to find herself on an unpredictable and gruelling odyssey from the Mojave desert through California to Oregon over the course of over 150 days. A fascinating story, but as reimagined by screenwriter by screenwriter Nick Hornsby and director Jean-Marc Vallée (“Dallas Buyers Club”), “Wild” starring Reese Witherspoon is a well-intentioned, but misguided and occasionally even garish adaptation of spiritual redemption that never connects or finds itself. Beginning in media res—Strayed as »

- Rodrigo Perez

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Telluride Review: 'The Imitation Game' Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley And More

4 hours ago

In 1941, brilliant Cambridge mathematician Alan Turing was hired by the British military to break an infamous and seemingly indecipherable Nazi code called Enigma. Leading a group of misfit cryptanalysts, logicians and wunderkind minds, Turing directed the operation of code breakers to crack Enigma and win the war. But for Turing, this victory came at a terrible expense. Set in two periods — 1951 after Enigma has long been broken and 1941 as the irascible and arrogant Turing has applied for the code-breaking job (his unsocialzed Asperger’s-like personality almost getting him bounced out of the interview) — Graham Moore’s adept screenplay deftly navigates between both settings and even gives the latter period a touch of mystery to it, sending the suspenseful drama, taking place in the throes of WWII, speeding off to the races. After a bumpy opening of unnecessary voice-over and on-the-nose dialogue, “The Imitation Game” takes off with a skillful trajectory. »

- Rodrigo Perez

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Telluride Review: Jon Stewart's 'Rosewater' Starring Gael Garcia Bernal

5 hours ago

The category of Iranian prison movies with feel-good endings is a small subgenre, and one that "Rosewater" is likely to have all to itself for the near future. With his feature film writing and directing debut, "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart clearly wanted to make a people-have-the-power message picture that would resonate at least as much with American youths as longtime students of political repression in the Middle East. That transparent desire to make the material as accessible as possible to U.S. moviegoers — starting with the old-fashioned notion of having all the Iranians speaking to each other exclusively in English — results in a sometimes overly slick take on potentially tough subject matter. For better or worse, torture-themed films don’t get too much easier to take than this one. The initially easygoing protagonist who spends the second half of "Rosewater" in solitary confinement is Maziar Bahari (Gael Garcia Bernal), an. »

- Chris Willman

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Venice Review: David Gordon Green's 'Manglehorn' Starring Al Pacino, Harmony Korine, Chris Messina And Holly Hunter

8 hours ago

A bees nest beneath a mailbox. A boat bedecked in copies of a photograph. A cat who’s swallowed a key. A mime, a buffet, an earthquake, a multi-vehicle car accident inexplicably strewn with smashed watermelons. David Gordon Green’s slow, indulged but fathomless “Manglehorn” contains all of these motifs and more, sometimes playing out in double exposure, sometimes woozy slow motion, often counterpointed by Al Pacino’s husky gravelly narration. It should all be a terrible mess, and certainly it’s a less accessible film than the genre-tinged “Joe” or the sweetly straightforward “Prince Avalanche.” But it’s also fascinating, to those of us willing to let its meditative currents take us, a mosaic of moods, mysteries, magic and melancholy. And all anchored by a quietly assured central performance that may be among the most atypical of Pacino’s career, but is also one of his best. For filmmaker and actor, »

- Jessica Kiang

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Venice Review: Barry Levinson’s ‘The Humbling’ With Al Pacino And Greta Gerwig

21 hours ago

"Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything" is a line from Shakespeare's description of the final stage of life made famous in the "All the world's a stage" monologue from "As You Like It." It is quoted early on in Barry Levinson’s incoherent adaptation of what is by most accounts a substandard Philip Roth novel, “The Humbling,” clearly marking the film's themes of aging and the diminishment that comes with it. But "toothless, sightless, bland and empty" could also serve as a harsh but pretty accurate description of the film itself: a missed opportunity that squanders the talents of a pretty stacked cast and jeopardizes the audience’s patience and care for its spoiled characters for too long.  Purportedly following a kind of long dark night of the soul for a previously famous theater actor, this film is the third Venice title in as many days to use »

- Jessica Kiang

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Watch: 3-Minute Supercut Retrospective Commemorating Best Picture Oscar Winners Of 1980s

23 hours ago

Over the next weeks, on screens in Venice, Telluride, Toronto and New York, dozens of film will starting the journey that they will hope will end with the top prize: a Best Picture Oscar win. There can only be one, which means the race will be fierce, and few will survive, so before the madness begins (though some would argue it already has), let's take a look back a few decades to see the movies that captured the imagination of awards voters and audiences. Following supercuts for the 1990s and 2000s, Miguel Branco returns with a look at the 1980s. Once again, it's another carefully put together piece, spanning three minutes, which weaves together some very different movies. Ranging from the late Richard Attenborough's epic "Gandhi," to Oliver Stone's grim "Platoon," to Robert Redford's grief drama "Ordinary People," the 80s found the Academy favoring heavier subject matter. »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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'Underworld' Will Rise Up Again With A Reboot

29 August 2014 1:04 PM, PDT

Each successive Spider-Man movie has earned less at the box office than the previous entry, calling into question the theory that audiences want more of the same. Despite this, THR reports that Lakeshore Entertainment has decided to go down a similar path and reboot the “Underworld” series. The vampires-vs-werewolves franchise is perhaps now best remembered for giving Kate Beckinsale fangs and machine guns, thereby turning her into an action star. Of course, film fans will always remember the series for spawning director Len Wiseman and unleashing him upon the world. To date, “Underworld” has spawned four films, with the last one, “Underworld: Awakening," a 3D effort that ended up as “the top earner in the franchise.” That film, which featured the return of Beckinsale after she sat out the 2009 prequel “Underworld: Rise of the Lycans,” was released in 2012. That’s only two years between that successful fourth film and whatever comes. »

- Cain Rodriguez

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Watch: First 2 Clips From Venice/Tiff Drama 'Far From Men' Starring Viggo Mortensen

29 August 2014 12:33 PM, PDT

There is no shortage of serious movies hitting the festival circuit this fall, but only one of them boasts the distinction of being based on the short story "L'Hôte" by Albert Camus. That's right, the philosopher's work is behind the latest from writer/director David Oelhoeffen, and with "Far From Men" hitting both Venice and Tiff in the next couple of weeks, two new clips are here to go with the trailer that landed a week ago. Viggo Mortensen and Reda Kateb lead this drama, which follows a small town teacher and a dissident who are forced to go on the run together in the midst of the Algerian War. The film is in French and Arabic, and while these clips don't have subtitles, they give a pretty good taste of the atmosphere of the movie. Keep your ears open too, because that score is by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Watch: Take A Dip With A New Clip From 'The Humbling' With Greta Gerwig And Al Pacino

29 August 2014 11:33 AM, PDT

What are you doing this long, Labor Day weekend? Having a BBQ, marathoning some of Bill Hader's 200 movies every comedy writer should see, or perhaps you're putting your feet up and taking a breather before school kicks in. Well, if you happen to be by a pool, perhaps you'll relate to his new clip from "The Humbling," premiering at the Venice Film Festival this week. Barry Levinson directs this adaptation of Philip Roth's novel, in which Greta Gerwig and Al Pacino fall into an unlikely relationship. She's a young woman, and he's a suicidal actor, and as you might guess, their pairing is...unique. And as you see in this clip, this union is a life saving one, as Pacino watches the carefree Gerwig swim in the pool. You'll have our verdict from Venice soon, but until then, watch below. »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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How Many Have You Seen? Read Bill Hader's List Of 200 Movies Every Comedy Writer Should See

29 August 2014 11:09 AM, PDT

Here's a fun fact about Bill Hader you might not know: he's a major film buff. Yep, the "Saturday Night Live" veteran likes his Criterion Collection movies as much as the next cinephile. His knowledge rolls pretty deep, and now he's sharing his love of cinema in a unique way.  Inside the book "Poking A Dead Frog: Conversations With Today’s Top Comedy Writers" by Mike Sacks, Hader provides his list of 200 movies every comedy writer should see. Yes, you'll see the usual staples from folks like Woody Allen, the Marx Brothers, Mel Brooks, and Charlie Chaplin, but there are some nice, not so obvious picks too. Billy Wilder's scathing "Ace In The Hole" notches a spot, as do Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut" and Robert Altman's "Nashville." So now the big question: how many have you seen? Here's all 200, let us know in the comments section. »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Review: Underground Found Footage Horror Movie 'As Above, So Below'

29 August 2014 10:40 AM, PDT

Up until now, Legendary Pictures has been a production company exclusively associated with high concept, big budget popcorn fare (they've been responsible for everything from Christopher Nolan's Batman movies to "Pacific Rim"), but with the success of "Paranormal Activity," and similarly low-cost genre material, the studio is branching out by going small. This week's "As Above, So Below," a grainy, archeology-themed found footage movie that uneasily mixes "Raiders of the Lost Ark" with "Flatliners," is the first effort under this new initiative. While the movie certainly has its share of thrills, it's clear that it lacks that zeitgeist-capturing magic that the best low-budget horror films offer. If Legendary is looking for a potential franchise, they might have to dig elsewhere. Even with its ridiculously pretentious title, "As Above, So Below" has the most basic of genre set-ups: a team of archeologists and urban »

- Drew Taylor

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Watch: Trailer For Documentary 'Nas: Time Is Illmatic' Presents A Classic Rap Album

29 August 2014 10:18 AM, PDT

Can documentaries about famous rap groups and albums be a new thing please? A few years ago we got the excellent "Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels Of A Tribe Called Quest," detailing the fascinating and incredible story of the highly influential hip hop group, and now comes "Nas: Time Is Illmatic," another snapshot of a rapper who has inspired a generation of artists. Directed by One9 (huh?) and featuring the participation of NasLarge Professor, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, L.E.S., DJ Premier, Pharrell Williams, Alicia Keys and more, the movie goes twenty years back in time to 1994, when Illmatic dropped and turned heads everywhere. The doc chronicles Nas' influences, his life story and career—which saw him signing to major label at 20 years old—and how he developed his unique artistic voice. "Nas: Time Is Illmatic" arrives in select theaters beginning October 1st and on nationwide VOD »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Venice Review: 'She's Funny That Way' Starring Imogen Poots, Owen Wilson, Kathryn Hahn, Jennifer Aniston & Many Surprise Cameos

29 August 2014 9:27 AM, PDT

If you've so much as read the headline of this review, you're probably already thinking too hard about Peter Bogdanovich's star-studded "She's Funny That Way," which is but a trifle, designed to melt in your mouth like candy floss. In fact, it goes out of its way to avoid anything that even faintly smacks of realism or meaningfulness; it just wants you to like it. Which means, of course, that knives are being sharpened. Nothing spurs critical disdain quicker than a display of eagerness to please. Odd that along with edgy, ultraviolent dramas and dense, arty auteurist exercises, one of the most divisive of genres, especially in a cinephile crowd such as here in Venice, should be the screwball comedy. Which is the long way to say that your mileage on the manic, contrived and coincidence-strewn "She's Funny That Way" may vary, based on how you feel about the »

- Jessica Kiang

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Watch: Trailer For Andrey Zvyagintsev's Acclaimed Cannes Winner 'Leviathan'

29 August 2014 9:02 AM, PDT

You may not be able to pronounce the name Andrey Zvyagintsev, but this spring you likely saw that flurry of consonants and vowels across Twitter or in the blogosphere. The director's epic "Leviathan" was the big talk of the Cannes Film Festival, and one many thought would take the Palme d'Or. Instead, it had to settle on the screenplay prize, but if the buzz is anything to go by, this is a movie you need to put high on your watch list. Starring Alexey Serebryakov, Elena Lyadova, Vladimir Vdovitchenkov, Roman Madyanov, Anna Ukolova, Alexey Rozin and Sergey Pokhadaev, the movie is set in a small town in which a property owner and the mayor battle over a parcel of land, in a story inspired by the Biblical tale of Job. But there's much more, as it comments on corruption in Russia, and our A-grade review calls the movie "not just masterful but also hugely important. »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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3D Version Of Wong Kar-Wai's 'The Grandmaster' Coming This Fall With Unseen Footage

29 August 2014 8:35 AM, PDT

Wong Kar-Wai's long awaited "The Grandmaster" dropped last year, with the martial arts epic receiving a modest response, a couple of Academy Award nominations and some awards mostly from overseas, before ultimately drifting from memory. But it seems there's enough interest (or enough extra dollars to be made) that a 3D version is coming. Why? Because. Variety reports that "The Grandmaster 3D" will hit cinemas in China this October. And yes, Wong Kar-Wai himself looked over the conversion process, and claims this is the way he's always wanted it to be seen. “We had originally planned to film ‘The Grandmaster’ in 3D not only for the cinematic sensation, but also for the subtlety of the expression of this beautiful story,” the director said. “We now have the opportunity to show the film as it was always intended – searching for a brand new aesthetic or cinematic language in the 3D format. »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Tiff Exclusive: Get Prepared With Trailer For Midnight Madness Movie 'Cub'

29 August 2014 8:01 AM, PDT

If you're hitting the Toronto International Film Festival this year and looking for a break from the award contenders, prestige dramas and foreign favorites, be sure to scan the Midnight Madness lineup. Each year, it provides some of the best genre programming around, with movies geared to get your pulse racing and make you jump out of your seat. "Cub" aims to do both of those things, and we'e got the exclusive first trailer for the movie. Directed by Jonas Govaerts, making his feature film debut, and starring Maurice Luijten, Titus De Voogdt, Stef Aerts, Evelien Bosmans and Jan Hammenecker, this one goes into the woods with terrifying results. The story follows 12-year-old Sam, off on a summer camping trip with his Cub Scout troop. He claims to see something in the woods, but it's blamed on his over active imagination. But it turns out he's right, and a feral »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Watch: First Trailer For 'Three Hearts' With Charlotte Gainsbourg & Chiara Mastroianni Playing Venice & Tiff

29 August 2014 7:40 AM, PDT

Benoît Jacquot is a festival veteran, last doing the rounds with 2012's costume drama "Farewell, My Queen." Now he's back with a more contemporary tale, riffing on an old theme, while rounding some exciting talent to tell his story. The film is called "Three Hearts," and with screenings at Venice and Tiff coming up soon, the first trailer has dropped. Benoît Poelvoorde, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Chiara Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve star in the film, which Jacquot co-wrote and directed, about a love triangle that develops between a man and two sisters. After Marc has a fling in small town France with Sylvie, he meets Sophie, falls deeply in love, and marries her. The twist? Sophie and Sylvie are close siblings, and when all is revealed, the drama cranks up a few notches. Intriguing stuff, with a great cast to take it on, so we'll keep an eye out. Watch the trailer below. »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Tiff Exclusive: Trailer For Kafkaesque Thriller 'I Am Not Lorena'

29 August 2014 7:05 AM, PDT

There are a lot of big names coming to the Toronto International Film Festival, but it's easy to forget that the festival is also a showcase for emerging filmmakers. And one director looking to make an impression this year is Isidora Marras, who will be unspooling her feature debut, "I Am Not Lorena," and we've got the first trailer for the movie. Starring Loreto Aravena, Paulina García, Maureen Junott, Lautaro Delgado, Gabriela Aguilera and Matías Oviedo, Marras co-wrote and directed this Kafkaesque thriller that follows an actress, Olivia, who finds herself in a peculiar position. She starts receiving phone calls from a collection agency looking for Lorena Ruiz, asking her to pay off a substantial debt. It's a simple case of mistaken identity, but one that won't go away, and soon even Olivia's friends and family aren't sure who she is, forcing her to track down the real Lorena and confront her. »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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20 New Images From 'Gone Girl' Plus Watch: 15-Minute Essay 'The Fincher Effect'

29 August 2014 6:36 AM, PDT

For a director known for perfectionism, David Fincher has been prolific lately, with his third film in four years, his adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestselling novel “Gone Girl,” hitting theaters later this year. As we wait to hear more great quotes from Tyler Perry, who appears in the film but had not previously heard of the director, why not scrutinize new photos (some via Empire) from the film for more clues about what happened to Amy Dunne? The film magazine has three new stills, with only one directly from "Gone Girl" itself, an image of marital bliss (or is it?) between Ben Affleck’s Nick and Rosamund Pike’s Amy. The other two pictures are behind-the-scenes peeks, one from pre-production with Neil Patrick Harris and Carrie Coon—she plays Affleck’s sister— doing a table read, and the other finds Fincher  directing Pike in the finer subtleties of acting like a floating corpse. »

- Cain Rodriguez

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Tiff Trailer: 'Samba' Starring Omar Sy, Charlotte Gainsbourg & Tahar Rahim

29 August 2014 6:00 AM, PDT

A few years back, all anyone could talk about at the arthouse was "The Intouchables." It was the third most watched film in France in 2011, sitting at number one at the box office there for ten weeks. And not only was it a hit in its home country, but it traveled abroad widely, earning a grand total of $444.7 million worldwide and scooping up awards, while The Weinstein Company snapped up the remake rights. And now writer/directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano are back with a followup. "Samba" brings together the attractive cast of "The Intouchables" star Omar Sy, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Tahar Rahim and Izïa Higelin to tell the story of the relationship that develops between an undocumented immigrant looking to get his legal working papers and a burned out executive. So, perhaps a bit of social commentary and a dose of romance to go with it? Sure looks like it. »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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