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Film Review: ‘California Typewriter’

1 hour ago

Vinyl made a comeback, and so did slow food and long beards. So why not the typewriter? Actually, there’s a good reason why not: If you’re composing on a typewriter — a letter, say — and you change your mind about a word or a sentence you’ve just written, then you have to white it out or x it out. It’s an added task, and the result will likely be a tad smudgy. On the typewriter, every single keystroke is a tiny punch of commitment. (The seamless clickety-clack of a computer keyboard, with its instant erasability…not so much.) But according to “California Typewriter,” a lively and appealing analog-nostalgia documentary, it’s that very physicality that makes the typewriter a machine of the past that deserves to have a place in the future. As the movie sees it, the typewriter isn’t just for saying things. It’s for saying them and meaning them.

Directed »


- Owen Gleiberman

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‘King Arthur’ Rules DVD, Blu-ray Disc Sales Charts

2 hours ago

Two new releases took the two top spots on the national home video sales charts for the week that ended Aug. 12, led by Warner’s “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” the latest retelling of the saga of the mythical British king.

“Arthur” debuted at No. 1 on both the Npd VideoScan overall disc sales chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart. The film made less than $40 million in U.S. theaters and was panned by critics, with the reviewer for the Chicago Tribune calling it a “grim and stupid thing.” Nearly 40 films have been made about about King Arthur, the earliest one in 1904.

Debuting at No. 2 on the overall disc sales chart only was “Snatched,” which opened theatrically the same weekend (May 12-14) as “Arthur” and finished second, with $19.5 million, to $15.4 million for third-ranked “Arthur.” The comedy, from 20th Century Fox, stars »


- Thomas K. Arnold

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Chinese Investor Launches Puji Films With Backing for Peter Guber’s Mandalay Endurance

4 hours ago

Shanghai-based investment firm Puji Capital has launched a movie investment subsidiary, Puji Films. Its first investment is the backing of Peter Guber’s new Mandalay Endurance Ventures.

Memv is a joint venture between Mandalay Entertainment, Endurance Media and sports owner Jeff Vinik. Puji describes Memv as a film production, financing, and international distribution platform with a focus on producing and distributing star-driven vehicles with A-list talent in the action, thriller and comedy genres. It is headed by Guber and Steve Richards (“The Matrix: Reloaded,” “The Book of Eli”) and backed by major shareholders including Vinik, Mandalay Entertainment COO Paul Schaeffer, and Peter Strauss, former Lionsgate chairman.

Puji Capital was previously involved as an investor in aXiomatic, an eSports venture headed by Guber and Ted Leonsis, and as a backer of Dalian Wanda’s abortive attempt to buy Dick Clark Productions. Puji Films is headed by Lily Zhao.

“We are at an interesting inflection with China’s film »


- Patrick Frater

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Esai Morales Threatens Federal Election Complaint Against SAG-aftra President Gabrielle Carteris

5 hours ago

With a week to go in a heated SAG-aftra election, Esai Morales has warned that his faction may file a federal election fraud complaint against union president Gabrielle Carteris.

Morales is running for president as head of the Membership First faction, which issued a statement Thursday a few days after accusations by Carteris and her allies that Morales has been negligent in his role as first VP of the union’s Los Angeles local by not attending 33 of 35 board meetings. The faction responded by alleging that Carteris has been duplicitous in her behavior by resigning her local seat two years ago — and threatened to make a formal complaint to the U.S. Department of Labor if she does so again.

“Unite For Strength is challenging Esai’s attendance record,” Membership First said in a statement. “Both Esai and Gabrielle ran in 2015 for the Los Angeles local board. Both won seats. Esai »


- Dave McNary

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Eric Zumbrunnen, Editor of ‘Being John Malkovich, Dies at 53

6 hours ago

Film editor Eric Zumbrunnen, who won an Ace Award for his work on “Being John Malkovich,” has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 53.

Zumbrunnen graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in journalism, and began his career editing music videos for the likes of Weezer, Smashing Pumpkins, Beck, and Bjork, which is also where his fruitful relationship with Jonze began. From there, he expanded into commercial editing for clients like Nike, Xbox, and Apple, as well was editing several documentary shorts and other short films, often for Jonze, eventually graduating into feature film editing alongside Jonze with “Being John Malkovich” in 1999.

Zumbrunnen’s work also included the Jonze’s 2009 film “Where the Wild Things Are,” Disney’s “John Carter” in 2012, and Jonze’s acclaimed film “Her,” which won the writer-director an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

His most recent collaboration with Jonze was a 3-minute short film and perfume advertisement for »


- Erin Nyren

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Film Review: ‘Sidemen: Long Road to Glory’

6 hours ago

By turns festive and elegiac, and sometimes both at the same time, Scott D. Rosenbaum’s “Sidemen: Long Road to Glory” celebrates three blues greats — pianist Pinetop Perkins, guitarist Hubert Sumlin and drummer Willie “Big Eyes” Smith — who made their mark performing with the likes of Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters, and significantly influenced generations of rock and blues artists. The eloquence of the documentary’s title becomes clear as its double meaning gradually comes into focus in the overarching narrative constructed by Rosenbaum and co-scripter Jasin Cadic: Their three subjects spent much of their lives overshadowed and underappreciated before receiving their due recognition. And all three “went to glory” within eight months of each other in 2011.

Lest that sound too melancholy, it should quickly be added that “Sidemen” is an exceptionally entertaining and captivating tribute to the men and their music — and that there’s more than enough of said music here to please blues »


- Joe Leydon

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Michael B. Jordan Eyed to Play Mobster in ‘A Bittersweet Life’

7 hours ago

Michael B. Jordan is circling Fox’s remake of the South Korean action-thriller “A Bittersweet Life.”

If Jordan’s deal closes, he will portray a mobster in the movie. “Kung Fu Panda” helmer Jennifer Yuh Nelson will direct.

Producers are 21 Laps’ Shawn Levy, Dan Levine, and Dan Cohen, along with Korea’s Cj Entertainment, which made the original film. Jason Young will oversee the movie for Fox.

In the 2005 film, Lee Byung-hun played a loyal enforcer for a crime boss, who assigned him to kill his young mistress if she turned out to be having an affair with another man.

Jordan is starring with Michael Shannon in “Fahrenheit 451” for HBO. He will be seen next in Disney-Marvel’s superhero movie “Black Panther,” in which he re-teamed with “Creed” director Ryan Coogler.

Nelson, who directed “Kung Fu Panda 2” and co-directed “Kung Fu Panda 3,” is making her live-action directorial debut with “Darkest Minds” — a potential franchise starter »


- Dave McNary

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This Week’s Hollywood Red Carpets and Parties (Photos)

7 hours ago

This week’s Hollywood red carpets and parties include “The Tick” premiere, “Hamilton’s” L.A. opening night, and more.

Related storiesTV Review: 'The Tick' on Amazon'Hamilton' in Los Angeles: Lin-Manuel Miranda Tells Star-Studded Opening Night Crowd 'My Heart Is Full''The Tick' Cast Discusses Themes of Compassion, How Show Could Help Heal a Divided America »

- Jacob Bryant

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David Tennant, Guy Pearce Join Saoirse Ronan’s ‘Mary, Queen of Scots’

8 hours ago

David Tennant and Guy Pearce have joined the cast of Working Title’s “Mary, Queen of Scots,” which has begun filming in England and Scotland.

Saoirse Ronan is starring in the title role opposite Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I. Josie Rourke is making her feature directorial debut on the movie, directing from a script by Beau Willimon. The project is based on John Guy’s biography “My Heart Is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots.”

Focus Features holds worldwide rights and will release “Mary, Queen of Scots” in the U.S. Universal Pictures International will distribute the film internationally.

Producers are Working Title co-chairs Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, and Debra Hayward. The trio all received best picture Academy Award nominations for “Les Misérables.”

Previously announced cast includes Jack Lowden (“Dunkirk”), Joe Alwyn, Martin Compston, and Brendan Coyle (“Downton Abbey”).

The story is set during the 16th Century when Mary Stuart became Queen of »


- Dave McNary

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Film Review: Tom Cruise in ‘American Made’

9 hours ago

There’s a lot going on in “American Made,” a hectic, hyperactive true-life tall tale that jumbles Colombian drug-smuggling, CIA arms-trading, Midwestern fortune-making and a whole lot of very fancy flying. Yet the most salient image in the whole coked-up kaleidoscope is a simple one: Tom Cruise’s sunglasses. There may be significant stretches in Doug Liman’s film where the star, as Twa pilot turned all-sides-of-the-law hustler Barry Seal, isn’t wearing wire-rimmed aviator shades, yet somehow it feels as if they’re always there. An accessory that Cruise made wholly his own in “Top Gun,” they connote as much rakish bravado and slightly impenetrable machismo now as they did then — 1986, coincidentally the year that the action in “American Made,” which spans eight fast years of Carter-to-Reagan-era governmental skulduggery, comes to a startling head.

A sweat-slicked, exhausting but glibly entertaining escapade on its own terms, “American Made” is more interesting as a showcase for »


- Guy Lodge

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Fox International Productions Boards Gustavo Hernandez’s ‘You Shall Not Sleep’ (Exclusive)

9 hours ago

Fox International Productions (Fip) is partnering with Pablo E. Bossi (“Nine Queens”) to produce “You Shall Not Sleep,” (“No Dormirás”) the latest film from “Casa Muda’s” Gustavo Hernandez, which 20th Century Fox will distribute in the U.S., Latin America and German-speaking territories.

The Fox distribution deal was struck by FilmSharks Intl. which has acquired international territory sales rights to “You Shall Not Sleep” and will introduce it to buyers at the Toronto Festival. Variety has had first access to an international trailer and initial teaser artwork.

One of the most awaited of Latin American horror movies since Hernandez and his producing partner Ignacio Garcia Cucucovich first announced it to Variety at 2015’s Ventana Sur, “You Shall Not Sleep” is produced by Bossi, whose credits include Ricardo Darin’s “Chinese Takeaway” and “Black Snow,” Maria Luisa Gutierrez, producer of Santiago Segura’s “Torrente” saga, Argentina’s Juan Pablo Buscarini (“Gamemaker 3D) and  Cucucovich (“Casa Muda”), Hernandez »


- John Hopewell

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‘Shot Caller’ Director on Getting His Movie to Theaters: ‘This Was One Massive F—ing Boulder’

9 hours ago

Ric Roman Waugh is no stranger to the examining the American criminal justice system.

The stunt-man-turned-director’s latest prison film, “Shot Caller,” shows how even the best of men can be corrupted by the current correctional system. Following “Felon” and “Snitch” Waugh finishes off what he has deemed his ‘Prison Trilogy’ with “Shot Caller” — a thriller that is part ’90s action movie, part character study.

Waugh spoke to Variety about inspirations for the film, his journey to get it made, and why the movie’s star, “Game of Thrones” actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, was right for the part.

This completes your trilogy that included “Felon” and “Snitch.” How did the films come about?

I was writing a lot of movies and was very fortunate to work for a lot of major producers. I wanted to deviate away from the big, expensive action movies and direct stuff I was passionate about. I went to a really close friend, [film producer] Tucker Tooley »


- Justin Kroll

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‘Star Wars’: Every Upcoming Film We Know About

10 hours ago

These are the announced and upcoming “Star Wars” films that we know about.

Related stories'Star Wars' Obi-Wan Kenobi Movie in Early Development at DisneyJohn Boyega Dishes on the Next 'Star Wars,' Carrie Fisher and Why He Doesn't Watch 'Game of Thrones'Han Solo Movie: Clint Howard to Appear in 'Star Wars' Spinoff »


- Jacob Bryant

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Mediapro, Latido Join Mariano Cohn, Fernando Sokolowicz on Gaston Duprat’s ‘Mi Obra Maestra’ (Exclusive)

10 hours ago

Madrid — Mediapro Group, the global independent production, rights and services company, will co-produce Argentine Gaston Duprat’s “Mi obra maestra,” starring Guillermo Francella (“The Clan”), Duprat’s follow-up to “The Distinguished Citizen,” which won star Oscar Martínez a Volpi Cup best actor award at last year’s Venice Festival and swept best picture and actor at July’s Platino Awards.

Madrid-based Latido Films has also come on board “Mi Obra Maestra,” acquiring world sales to the comedy which goes into production on Aug. 21, shooting for seven weeks in Buenos Aires, Argentina’s Jujuy and Rio de Janeiro.

“Mi Obra Maestra” is produced by Mariano Cohn, Duprat’s co-director on “The Distinguished Citizen” in a directorial duo partnership which goes back at least to 1991 short “El hombre que murió dos veces.” Going forward, Duprat will produce Cohn’s next feature.

“Mi obra maestra” is co-produced out of Argentina by Fernando Sokolowicz, a »


- John Hopewell

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Former Gaumont and Studiocanal Distribution Boss Launches Apollo Films With Cgr Multiplex Chain

11 hours ago

Paris – Francois Clerc, the former boss of distribution at Gaumont and Studiocanal, is joining forces with Cgr, France’s third-biggest multiplex chain, to launch Apollo Films, a production and distribution company.

Julien Moreau, the former head of digital at Gaumont, and Bertrand Fleury, a business affairs exec who notably worked at Havas, round out the new outfit’s leadership team and will be co-managing directors. Clerc, who worked as head of distribution at Studiocanal for two years before stepping down last month, will preside over Apollo Films.

Apollo will kick off with the distribution of Nicolas Bary’s comic book-based “Le petit Spirou” in partnership with French distribution outfit La Belle Company on Sept. 27.

“We were eager to join forces with Cgr for various reasons. It’s the third biggest multiplex chain, a thriving company led by forward-thinking executives. I know Jocelyn [Bouyssy, Cgr’s managing director,] and his team very well, and they have a deep knowledge of what audiences want »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Film Review: ‘6 Days’

11 hours ago

“A renaissance for international terrorism” is among the archival newscast quotes used to set the scene in the opening credits of “6 Days” — a true-life hostage thriller methodically tracking the 1980 siege of London’s Iranian Embassy by Iranian Arab militants. The unhappy irony, of course, is that few viewers would be able to identity any particular era from that soundbite, and Toa Fraser’s lean, cleanly assembled dramatization is in its own way resistant to historical specifics: Shot and styled in contemporary, ticking-clock action fashion, it compresses the complex Theatcher-era politics of its fractious standoff into a simplified West-versus-Middle-East conflict that registers as broadly topical.

Technically smart but dramatically a bit flat — with a triangulated multi-view structure that gives stars Mark Strong, Jamie Bell and Abbie Cornish minimal room to flex — “6 Days” establishes Fraser’s credentials as a viable handler of mainstream genre fare, but comes as something of a disappointment after the livelier exploits of his rollicking »


- Guy Lodge

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‘Star Wars’ Obi-Wan Kenobi Movie in Early Development at Disney

11 hours ago

With Disney’s untitled Han SoloStar Wars” standalone film approaching the finish line, Disney is now looking to tell the story of another iconic character in a galaxy far, far away.

Sources tell Variety that Disney is in early development on a film centered on Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi and is in talks with “Billy Elliot’s” Stephen Daldry to direct.

The character appeared in the first six “Star Wars” films, first played by Alec Guinness in Episodes 4-6 and then by Ewan McGregor in Episodes 1-3. Kenobi is best known as the Jedi master who first trained Anakin Skywalker, who would later turn to the dark side and became Darth Vader. Kenobi would then go on to train Skywalker’s son Luke before falling to Vader in “Star Wars: A New Hope.”

Related

Netflix in Talks With Disney on Marvel, ‘Star Wars’ Movies for 2019 and Beyond

There is not yet a script or a writer »


- Justin Kroll

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Locarno Film Review: ‘Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?’

11 hours ago

The problems with Travis Wilkerson’s well-intentioned yet maddeningly self-focused documentary begin with the title, “Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?” No actually, we never wonder who fired the gun, and neither does he: on the immediate level, it was his white supremacist great-grandfather S.E. Branch, who killed Bill Spann, an unarmed African-American man in 1946 Alabama. On a more general level, the “who” can be expanded to an entire country that’s become pathological in the way it continues to sweep under the carpet an ongoing history of unindicted white-against-black murders. Wilkerson doesn’t mean to suggest ambiguity with his title, since no one questions the identity of the culprit, but it is regrettably indicative of his naval-gazing focus on family skeletons, combined with a deeply annoying tendency to sensationalize the obvious.

Designed as a piece of agitprop, “Did You Wonder” is, for all intents and purposes, a cold case murder mystery, cooked »


- Jay Weissberg

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Paramount Players Lands First Project: ‘Vacation Guide to the Solar System’

12 hours ago

Newly minted Paramount Players has landed its first project, winning a bidding war for the movie rights to the book “Vacation Guide to the Solar System.”

Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, who most recently scripted “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” will produce and adapt the book written by Olivia Koski, head of operations for Guerilla Science, and Jana Grcevich, an astronomer who has presented at the Hayden Planetarium.

The project is inspired by Koski and Grcevich’s work with Guerilla Science on the Intergalactic Travel Bureau, a retro futuristic pop-up travel agency that plans vacations to space for the public.

Related

New Paramount Players Chief Brian Robbins Talks Strategy for the Digital Age

Paramount Players said Thursday that the story is set 50 years in the future when tourism within our solar system has become almost routine, a family trip turns into a life or death struggle to return to Earth when something goes terribly wrong. The »


- Dave McNary

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Amazon Studios, Warner Bros. Teaming on ‘The Goldfinch’ (Exclusive)

12 hours ago

Warner Bros. is finalizing a deal with Amazon Studios to co-finance its film adaptation of Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch,” Variety has learned.

As part of the pact, Amazon will invest more than a third of the movie’s budget, which is estimated to be in the $40 million range, according to insiders. In return, it will get streaming rights to the picture and debut it on home entertainment platforms in what is commonly referred to as the pay-tv window, the term for when movies debut on HBO and Showtime.

Warner Bros. will distribute the film in theaters worldwide. There were several other parties interested in boarding the project, but Amazon was the most aggressive. The e-retailer believes the project is a good fit for its customer base, because Tartt’s novel was a big seller on its platform. It also views the partnership on the movie as a good branding opportunity. »


- Brent Lang

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