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Toronto Film Review: ‘Hateship Loveship’
8 September 2013 4:32 PM, PDT
A considerably more satisfying seriocomic vehicle for Kristen Wiig than the recent “Girl Most Likely,” “Hateship Loveship” marks fine, steady progress for director Liza Johnson following her spare 2011 debut, “Return.” Adapted from Alice Munro’s short story about a shy, unsophisticated housekeeper who falls victim to a cruel prank with ultimately surprising consequences, this delicate and absorbing character study gets some unique performance mileage out of Wiig, infusing a potentially morose role with subtle oddball touches that keep things amusingly off-balance. The gently moving result is probably too restrained to stand out amid similarly classy and character-driven indie fare, but could carve out a small, appreciative audience in specialty release.
The opening passages of Mark Jude Poirier’s script introduce us to the unexceptional life of Johanna Parry (Wiig), who quietly spends her days working as a caretaker. Shortly after the passing of her latest elderly charge, she accepts a job working for Mr. »
- Justin Chang
Toronto: ‘Labor Day’ Enters Kudos Conversation
8 September 2013 3:50 PM, PDT
Shortly before the Saturday preem of Paramount’s “Labor Day” at the Ryerson Theater, Jason Reitman told Variety that it’s “very different from my previous films.” It is indeed, and awards voters who like offbeat and tender films should respond positively.
Kudos advantages: The work of writer-director Reitman, the performances, the subtle but spot-on below-the-line work and the film’s originality.
Kudos challenges: It’s a year crowded with good work. And the film requires a leap of faith from viewers who need to accept early on that this depressed woman would allow an escaped convict to enter the lives of her and her son.
Reitman was given Joyce Maynard’s novel and thought, “There’s a complex set of ideas there.” He liked the challenge, saying “It’s unusual for me to make a film with so little dialogue.” He also praised production designer Steve Saklad, composer Rolfe Kent, »
- Timothy M. Gray
Toronto Film Review: ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’
8 September 2013 3:10 PM, PDT
“The war isn’t my story to tell, really,” says a character in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s richly melodramatic 2006 bestseller “Half of a Yellow Sun,” arguably the most evocative literary account to date of the Nigerian Civil War that brutalized the country between 1967 and 1970. Adichie’s knottily constructed narrative wound up splitting that storytelling responsibility among four distinct perspectives, but in picking a single protagonist and ironing out its nonlinear structure, frosh helmer Biyi Bandele’s attractive, ideally cast adaptation does the novel a disservice. Superb performances, particularly from Thandie Newton and Anika Noni Rose as sometimes-estranged twins, rep the most sellable aspect of a diverting but surface-level saga that can’t always sustain the personal-political balance of its source; the festival-friendly result, unwittingly true to its title, feels less than whole.
The rare prestige pic that could actually stand to be longer, “Sun” takes some unavoidable short cuts in »
- Guy Lodge
Interview: Steve Coogan, Stephen Frears on the Fast Pace of ‘Philomena’
8 September 2013 2:57 PM, PDT
“Philomena” continued its global push Sunday at the Princess of Wales theater, with the audiences as enthusiastic as the were in its Venice launch.
Judi Dench is earning the bulk of awards buzz, but it’s hardly a one-woman show. In a conversation at the Variety Studio before the launch, director Stephen Frears and writer-producer-co-star Steve Coogan praised their tech contributors, and each other.
The project began with Coogan, who read an article about the real-life Philomena Lee, who had spent years trying to track down the illegitimate son she’d given up for adoption decades earlier. Coogan wrote the script with Jeff Pope but said it changed after Frears got involved because he wanted the script tighter and more focused.
Frears was drawn to the “Odd Couple” relationship of Coogan’s and Dench’s characters. It’s a sad story and it would be easy to do a weepy film. »
- Timothy M. Gray
Toronto: Sony Nabs Key Markets for Elizabeth Olsen Film ‘Therese’
8 September 2013 2:35 PM, PDT
Territories sold to Spwa include the U.K., Germany, Austrai, Scandinavia, Benelux and Latin America
The movie, based on Emile Zola’s novel “Therese Raquin,” centers on adultery and murder in 19th-century Paris. Jessica Lange portrays the title character’s aunt, Tom Felton plays her cousin, and Oscar Isaac plays her lover.
- Dave McNary
Toronto: Jared Leto of ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ Returns to Acting in Astonishing Fashion
8 September 2013 2:23 PM, PDT
Though Matthew McConaughey is drawing fervent praise for his performance in “Dallas Buyers Club” after its Saturday premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, the revelation is Jared Leto, appearing in his first film in six years.
Talking on Sunday about the reaction to the film and his multi-layered performance as a transsexual at the Variety Studio, Leto remained in disbelief.
“I don’t think I would have done it if it was a couple of years ago,” said Leto, who spent time focusing on other endeavors including music since last appearing onscreen as Mark David Chapman in 2007′s “Chapter 27.” My head wasn’t in the right place. I feel blessed to be a part of it.”
Leto turned to director Jean-Marc Vallee and told a story he wasn’t sure the helmer was aware of.
“I don’t know if I told you this — but I tried to push it away, »
- Jon Weisman
Toronto: Eli Roth, Worldview Re-Team for ‘Green Inferno’ Sequel
8 September 2013 2:22 PM, PDT
“Toronto” Following the midnight world premiere of cannibal caper-shocker “The Green Inferno” in Toronto on Saturday, Worldview Entertainment and director-producer Eli Roth have announced they will continue their partnership for the sequel, “Beyond the Green Inferno.”
Pic will be directed by Nicolas Lopez, whose “Aftershock” (produced by Roth) bowed at the Toronto Film Festival last year. Roth will present and produce the sequel, and co-script with Guillermo Amoedo and Lopez.
Worldview CEO Christopher Woodrow, COO Molly Conners will also produce alongside Lopez and Miguel Asensio Llamas of Sobras International Pictures. Maria Cestone and Sarah E. Johnson will executive produce for Worldview.
CAA, which is repping “Inferno” in Toronto, arranged financing and will rep domestic rights for the sequel.
Although plot details are staying in the pot for now, principal lensing will start in spring 2014 in Chile and Peru, where the original was also shot.
Buyer interest in “Inferno” fired up Sunday, »
- Jennie Punter
Toronto: Daniel Radcliffe, Michael C. Hall Keep Sony Classics Tradition Going
8 September 2013 2:08 PM, PDT
One of the ongoing traditions of the Toronto Film Festival remained very much alive on Sept. 7, as the Sony Classics dinner at Creme Brasserie drew Daniel Radcliffe, Michael C. Hall, Felicity Jones, Ralph Fiennes, Jack Huston and Anton Yelchin.
“This is a great chance to catch up — and point out that we have nine movies at Toronto this year,” Barker noted.
That list includes “Kill Your Darlings,” starring Radcliffe and Hall, and Fiennes’ period drama “The Invisible Woman.” It’s also launching Jim Jarmusch’s “Only Lovers Left Alive,” India-set “The Lunchbox,” starring Irrfan Khan and Asghar Farhadi’s “The Past,” the Iranian director’s latest film after 2011’s Oscar-winning “A Separation.”
- Dave McNary
Who Would Win a Beefcake Box Office Showdown: Vin Diesel or The Rock?
8 September 2013 1:27 PM, PDT
When it comes to nice guy beefcakes, Vin Diesel and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson are leading the charge in Hollywood.
But aside from Universal’s “Fast and Furious” franchise, in which the pair appeared together in the last two installments, comparing their box office muscle shows some unexpected similarities and differences, leading to an interesting showdown.
This weekend, Diesel proved again his power outside the “Fast” franchise, helping another series installment, “Riddick,” defy the early fall doldrums. With an $18.7 million opening, “Riddick” failed to beat its predecessor’s $24 million opening in 2004, but the three-quel outperformed the original film, 2000′s “Pitch Black,” which grossed $11.6 million during opening weekend.
After that, the box office results for both guys are far more varied. Here’s how they stack up:
For starters, »
- Andrew Stewart
Brad Pitt: ‘World War Z’ Sequel in Motion (Video)
8 September 2013 12:52 PM, PDT
“We’re certainly talking about it, yes,” he told Variety.
“World War Z,” one of the highest grossing films of 2013 and Pitt’s most successful movie ever, was the recipient of bad buzz early prior to its release but, in a reversal of fortune, went on to earn a whopping $533 million at the worldwide box office.
“We have so many ideas on the table from the time we spent developing this thing and figuring out how the zombie worlds work,” Pitt said in a new interview with Variety.
“We gotta get the script right first to determine if we go further.”
Based on the 2006 novel by Max Brooks, the zombie blockbuster underwent a complete rewrite and reshoot of the third act, »
- Stuart Oldham
Is ’50 Shades’ Star Charlie Hunnam Ready for Graphic Sex Scenes?
8 September 2013 12:51 PM, PDT
Charlie Hunnam will likely have to bare all and engage in some very graphic sex scenes as the leading man in “50 Shades of Grey,” but he says it’s not a new dimension for him.
“You know what, I had such a baptism of fire with regards to sexuality on camera at the beginning of my career,” explained Huunam. “I starred in the British channel Four miniseries ‘Queer As Folk’ where I played a young, gay character and there were some incredible, explicit sex scenes on that show. So I feel, and now I am 16 years older and more mature so I don’t anticipate them being too much of a problem. It’s like anything else, just an exciting challenge.”
After months of speculation, the 33-year-old Hunnam was chosen to play Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele, the main characters in the erotic, best-selling novel “50 Shades of Grey, »
- Associated Press
Toronto: Fox Searchlight Celebrates Sweet Success of ’12 Years,’ ‘Enough Said’
8 September 2013 12:38 PM, PDT
Things are looking pretty sweet for Fox Searchlight, with critical kudos and Oscar buzz rolling in for Steve McQueen’s provocative “12 Years a Slave”— one of four pics the company celebrated at its lively Toronto festival bash Sept. 7 at the Asian bistro Spice Route.
With two Toronto screenings in the bag, “Slave” director McQueen, and cast members Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Paul Giamatti, Lupita Nyong’o and Sarah Paulson moved between relaxed tete-a-tetes indoors and the revelry on the patio, while Richard E. Grant and Demian Bichir fortified themselves for Sunday’s world preem of writer-director Richard Shepard’s Brit gangster caper “Dom Hemingway.”
Rising Canadian star Sarah Gadon and fellow “Belle” cast members Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Emily Watson and Tom Wilkinson, and director Amma Asante also mingled with the Fox Searchlight contingent, including Nancy Utley and Steve Gilula.
Besides the shop talk and cast reunions, something else kept the party in an up mood. »
- Jennie Punter
Jason Bateman On His Directorial Debut: ‘If It Sucks, You Suck’
8 September 2013 11:08 AM, PDT
“It was something that I wanted to do for so long,” Jason Bateman said of his first directorial effort at the Variety Studio on Saturday.
“Bad Words,” which recently debuted at the Toronto Film Festival, was quickly acquired by Focus Features after premiering on Friday but Bateman, known for his comedic roles in “Horrible Bosses,” “Arrested Development,” and “Identity Thief,” was visibly nervous at the first screening of his new comedy.
“My wife said that was 10x’s as stressful as sitting next to me at a premiere,” he said, adding “There’s nowhere to hide. If it sucks, you suck.”
“It’s not for everyone, the darkness in the film,” he said of his vulgar character in the movie, which has been likened to the R-rated “Bad Santa.”
As for his next project, »
- Variety Staff
Algerian Government Planning Biopic of Abd El-Kader (Exclusive)
8 September 2013 11:07 AM, PDT
The Algerian Ministry of Culture and Los Angeles-based American company Cinema Libre Studio have signed an agreement to co-produce a movie based on Algerian leader Abd El-Kader.
Cinema Libre topper Philippe Diaz is producing with Mustapha Orif, general manager Algeria’s Aarc.
El-Kader fought the French colonization while building the modern Algerian State and conveying a message of religious tolerance. He was exiled in 1848 after 15 years of fighting. El-Kader raised an army in Syria in 1860 to save the more than 12,000 Christians who were in danger of being massacred.
The screenplay is written by Algerian anthropologist Zaïm Khenchelaoui. Two versions will be shot: one in French and Arabic and the other in English.
“Due to what is happening in the world right now, I can’t see any »
- Dave McNary
Toronto: SiriusXM Backer Launching Ivanhoe Pictures
8 September 2013 10:34 AM, PDT
A trio of media-enteratinment veterans — financier Robert Friedland, producer John Penotti and Beijing-based media executive Ray Chen — have launched Ivanhoe Pictures as a financing and production company.
Friedland’s Ivanhoe Capital Corp. provided the founding venture capital for U.S.-based Sirius Satellite Radio, which went on to build SiriusXM. The venture was announced on Sunday during the Toronto Film Festival.
Ivanhoe will work on films in America and Asia, focusing on China, India, Korea and Japan. It will be based in Hollywood with offices in Beijing and New York.
Friedland is chairman and Penotti is CEO while Chen serves as exec VP.
Friedland has invested via his Ivanhoe Capital Corp. in more than 50 countries during the past 25 years, including Sina.com in China.
Chen previously served as founder and chairman of Beijing Premiere Media Co. »
- Dave McNary
Toronto: ‘Anne of Green Gables’ Stage Musical Set for Feature Adaptation
8 September 2013 9:26 AM, PDT
Toronto – “Anne of Green Gables” will be coming to the big screen for the first time as a musical, it was announced Sunday by Toronto production company The Film Farm at the Toronto film festival.
The feature adaptation will be written by actor-playwright Kristen Thomson.
Harron, daughter of the original co-writer of the musical Don Harron, was a branding and casting consultant of TV networks before launching Side Road in 2011. She is also currently in development with comedian-actor Shaun Majunder on his feature directorial bow.
“The story is timeless »
- Jennie Punter
Box Office: ‘Riddick’ Defies Post-Labor Day Slump With $18.7 Mil, Knocks ‘Butler’ to Second Place
8 September 2013 8:54 AM, PDT
The film claimed the weekend’s No. 1 spot, unseating the Weinstein Co.’s “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” which fell to second place with $8.9 million. The three-week champ, which fell just 40% in its fourth frame, reached $91.9 million Stateside through Sunday.
Total domestic box office was up over this time last year by roughly 25%, thanks also to a excellent expansion for Lionsgate-Pantelion’s “Instructions Not Included.” The Hispanic-targeted crowdpleaser earned $8.1 million from just 717 locations, up from 384 last weekend, for a Stateside cume now past $20 million.
It was a sci-fi-themed weekend globally: Sony’s futuristic pic “Elysium” ranked first overseas with an estimated $21.2 million, of which China contributed $11.7 million in its first weekend locally. In total, “Elysium” has cumed $127 million internationally and $212 million worldwide.
See Also: »
- Andrew Stewart
Toronto: ‘Can a Song Save Your Life?’ Selling to the Weinstein Co.
8 September 2013 7:10 AM, PDT
The Weinstein Company is singing a song, and and has closed a deal for U.S. rights to John Carney’s “Can a Song Save Your Life?” for $7 million.
TWC was the final bidder in negotiations with sellers Exclusive Media and Likely Story that were concluding on Sunday morning following the world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, which sparked strong buyer interest. CAA and UTA have been co-representing the U.S. rights while Wme and Exclusive Media are handling international territories.
The drama, starring Keira Knightley as an undiscovered singer and Mark Ruffalo as a producer, sparked an auction between TWC and Lionsgate with sellers asking for a $7 million minimum guarantee for the U.S. rights.
The deal also included a $20 million commitment by TWC for prints and advertising.
- Dave McNary
Qumra Doha Film Fest Sets Dates, Beefs Up Team
8 September 2013 5:10 AM, PDT
The Doha Film Institute has set March 19-26, 2014, as the dates for the inaugural edition of the Qumra Doha Film Festival which will focus on first and second-time directors from around the world.
The reconceived eight-day fest, which will see emerging filmmakers from the Middle East competing on an even keel with international helmers, will be complemented by out-of-competition sections and industry-focused programming.
“We want to become the go-to place for filmmakers who are starting out no matter where they are from,” Dfi Chief Executive Officer Abdulaziz Al Khater, told Variety.
“The energy of our multicultural mix is bound to rub off on filmmakers in the region,” Al Khater added.
In May, after severing ties with Tribeca Enterprises, the Dfi announced it had brought Palestinian auteur Elia Suleiman on board as artistic advisor and re-invented its festival activity, now split into two separate events.
The goal for the Qumra fest »
- Nick Vivarelli
Venice Film Review: ‘Amazonia’
8 September 2013 4:22 AM, PDT
A dashing red collar — finally shed, in a moment of chattering triumph — is the only overt sign of anthropomorphism in “Amazonia,” a beguiling narrative creature feature that takes its monkey business rather seriously. Which is not to say there’s any shortage of “awww” moments (or, indeed, awe moments) in this dialogue-free tale of a scrappy domesticated capuchin monkey who must learn the rules of the wild when a plane crash strands him in the Amazon rainforest. The plucky primate may be the star, but Thierry Ragobert’s film offers ample face time with a rich ensemble of exotic beasts, with effective 3D making the experience roughly akin to paging through a lavish zoological pop-up book. Kids and adults mature enough to handle mild animal peril will be duly enchanted by this universally distributable picture.
With its sense of gentle whimsy deriving principally from the capuchin monkey’s own natural expressivity, »
- Guy Lodge
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