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Toronto Film Review: ‘The Seen and Unseen’

34 minutes ago

Steeped in theatrics, fantasy and psychology, “The Seen and Unseen” is haunting in its evocation of the supernatural communion between twin siblings, as Indonesian writer-director Kamila Andini interprets the minds of children facing pain and loss through the timeless language of Baliness arts and spirituality. With its drifting rhythm and peculiar aesthetics, this tale of young characters was made with adult audiences in mind and should be a choice item for highbrow festivals.

Andini’s much-lauded debut “The Mirror Never Lies” also centered on a teenage girl coming to terms with death. After her father’s death, the young protagonist of that film sought answers in nature and in her imagination, before puberty forced her to seek guidance from outsiders. Andini’s second feature goes in the opposite direction, retreating into the child’s private world to bask in its secrets. The effect is hypnotic as the film unfolds in measured and highly stylized movements, but »


- Maggie Lee

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Film Review: ‘Shot’

39 minutes ago

Jeremy Kagan’s gun-control drama “Shot” opens with a bullet piercing a man’s back. There’s a problem. The bang should be louder. So sound mixer Mark (Noah Wyle) hits rewind, and as the squib rushes back inside the actor’s cowboy costume, he cranks up the bass. That’s how ammo blasts, thinks Mark. But in a few hours, a stray shot will teach him that real-life gunfire is nothing like the movies. (For one, the pop! sounds more hollow.)

Kagan’s intimate, split-screen study of the after effects of violence tracks both the victim and the shooter, a guilt-ridden teen named Miguel (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.). The kid’s story is too clichéd to let “Shot” sell itself as emotional realism, but 2nd Amendment advocates arming themselves against a Hollywood screed will be relieved that the film avoids political activism to focus on trauma and recovery.

The split-screen starts when Miguel, a »


- Amy Nicholson

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Film Review: ‘Last Rampage: The Escape of Gary Tison’

1 hour ago

There’s something incontestably impressive about the no-frills efficiency of “Last Rampage: The Escape of Gary Tison,” a sturdily constructed and scrupulously well-cast slice of meat-and-potatoes filmmaking that calls to mind above-average made-for-cable movies of the 1990s. Based on the 1988 book of the same name by James W. Clarke, this engrossing true-crime drama is potently propelled by Robert Patrick’s full-tilt performance as Gary Tison, a purposefully ingratiating sociopath who reveals his true monstrousness to his naïve sons only after they help him escape from Arizona State Prison, and enhanced by solid contributions from supporting players Bruce Davison, Heather Graham and, briefly, the late John Heard. Director Dwight Little (“Free Willy,” “Rapid Fire”), another seasoned pro, seals the deal by keeping the narrative brisk and suspenseful, even while he covers familiar territory.

After starting out with a miscalculated flashforward that gives the game away a tad too early, Little smoothly doubles back to July 30, 1978, to show »


- Joe Leydon

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San Sebastian: Latido Films, Colombia’s 64-a Films Strike Sales Alliance (Exclusive)

2 hours ago

San Sebastian — Madrid-based Latido Films and Colombia’s 64-a Films have pacted for Latido to take world sales rights on two anticipated films from top Colombian director Carlos Moreno (“Dog Eat Dog,” “All Your Dead Ones”).

The move comes as Latido, one of the most prominent sales companies in the Spanish-speaking world, heads into San Sebastián with buzzed-up Toronto world premiere “Killing Jesus,” which plays in New Directors.

The partnership sees Latido taking world sales rights outside producer territories on Carlos Moreno’s “Lobos Perdidos” (Lost Wolves) and “Lavaperros” (Dogwashers), both produced by 64-a Films, one of Colombia’s top production companies headed by Diego Ramírez. Both are scheduled to shoot in 2018, extending and completing Moreno’s trilogy begun by “Perro Come Perro” (“Dog Eat Dog”).

A 2008 Sundance-selected movie produced by Ramirez, “Dog Eat Dog” brought down the flag on a new Colombian cinema which often explored the legacy of the country’s devastating civil conflict, as »


- John Hopewell

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Alfa Pictures Nabs Spanish Rights to Diego Lerman’s San Sebastian Player ‘A Sort of Family’

2 hours ago

David Alfarás’ Barcelona-based distributor Alfa Pictures has taken Spanish theatrical, Tvod and video rights to Argentine Diego Lerman’s road-movie “Una especie de familia” (“A Sort of Family”).

Sold by Vicente CanalesFilm Factory Entertainment, the film vies for the Golden Shell Award playing in main competition at the 65th San Sebastian Film Festival edition, which kicks off Friday, Sept. 22.

Alfa Pictures plans to open the film theatrically early December in Spain, on about 30 screens. Dubbed as a touching, adult women-oriented drama, “A Sort of Family” toplines Goya-winning actress Bárbara Lennie, the star of Carlos Vermut’s 2014 San Sebastian Golden Shell winner “Magical Girl.”

In the film, Lennie plays Malena, a successful Buenos Aires doctor who receives a call, telling her to leave immediately for the north of the country because the baby she aims to adopt is about to be born.

After the child’s biological parents suddenly demand more money, Malena »


- Emiliano De Pablos

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One-Woman Band Rima Das on Making ‘Village Rockstars’

2 hours ago

San Sebastian — Championed by Toronto’s Cameron Bailey, playing to rotund applause at the festival’s Discovery section, then clinching a rave review from Variety, which called it “a charming Indian answer to ‘Sing Street,’” with a heartfelt theme of female empowerment and self-actualization,” “Village Rockstars’” own production story stands in real life parallel to the story in the film.

In fiction, Dhunu, a feisty 10-year-old girl living in Chhaygaon, near Guwahati in north-east India’s Assam, attends a mini-boy band concert and determines to own her own guitar. And nothing will stop her. In reality, director Rima Das decided to follow-up her debut, “The Man With Binoculars,” with the tale of kids from her own village forming a rockbound. Nothing stopped her either. Variety e-chatted to Das about a two-women production, made on a shoestring, which now plays San Sebastian’s New Directors competition. It hits the festival as one of the section’s forerunners.

Your »


- John Hopewell

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Inaugural Pingyao Festival Makes Last Minute Dates Switch

2 hours ago

The Pingyao Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon International Film Festival, a new event pioneered by Chinese auteur Jia Zhangke and renown festival programmer Marco Mueller, has shifted the dates of its inaugural edition.

The festival will now be held from 28 Oct to 4 November in the historic Chinese town of Pingyao, where a 1,500 seat open air venue is being constructed. The Pyiff was previously announced as taking place 19-26 Oct. No explanation was offered for the dates switch.

Jia said that Pyiff would bring more possibilities to the creativity and plans to be a stimulus for the Chinese film industry. He unveiled a new logo for the festival and announced that Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing would be the festival ambassador.

“Pyiff aims to be an innovative and beneficial balancing act, that will introduce international filmmakers and film genres to young Chinese audiences and new Chinese films and filmmakers to the world,” said Mueller.

A »


- Patrick Frater

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San Sebastián: Manuel Martín Cuenca Talks about ‘The Motive,’ Creation, Actors

2 hours ago

San Sebastian — After the measured family psychodrama (2011’s “Half of Oscar”) and a plush horror-romance (2013’s “Cannibal”), Manuel Martin Cuenca, a maybe still underrated Spanish autor, returned to Toronto this September with his third feature to world premiere at the Canadian festival: “El autor” (The Motive), which won the Special Presentations Fipresci Critics Prize from a Jonathan Rosenbaum-headed jury.

Sold by Filmax International, and produced by Spain’s Lazona Films (“Spanish Affair”), Icónica Producciones (“The Dead Man and Being Happy”) and Cuenca’s own label, La Loma Blanca – “Instructions Not Included”’s Alebrije Cine y Video co-producing out of Mexico – “The Motive” now has its European premiere playing in main competition at San Sebastián.

Set in a sunny Seville, and written with longtime co-scribe Alejandro Hernández, “The Motive” marks another departure in register, a sometimes laugh-out-loud dramedy about a would-be writer Alvaro who, bereft of imagination and talent but, lectured »


- John Hopewell

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10 Highlights of the San Sebastian Film Festival

8 hours ago

Cannes’ biggest achievement is that it’s the most important festival in the world while San Sebastián remains the highest-profile festival in the Spanish-speaking world. The festival has maintained its staple sections while constantly innovating. From a bigger Basque presence to TV series, here are 10 not-to-be-missed 2017 novelties, events and trends.

Star Contingent

Arnold Schwarzenegger presents “Wonders of the Sea 3D,” which he narrates. He leads a strong star presence including Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz (“Loving Pablo”), Alicia Vikander (“Submergence”), Glenn Close (“The Wife”), James Franco (“The Disaster Artist”), Todd Haynes and jury head John Malkovich. Also attending will be Donostia honorees Ricardo Darin, Monica Bellucci and Agnès Varda, her prize representing a drive to “open up the Donostia Awards to cineasts we love, but who perhaps don’t have the glamor of stars,” says San Sebastian director José Luis Rebordinos.

Zabaltegi-Tabakalera Section

High-end TV goes high-profile at San Sebastián: Alberto Rodriguez’s 1580 Seville-set serial killer thriller »


- John Hopewell

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‘Unbreakable’ Actors to Return for M. Night Shyamalan’s Sequel ‘Glass’

8 hours ago

Spencer Treat Clark and Charlayne Woodard, who appeared in M. Night Shyamalan’s “Unbreakable,” are reprising their roles in “Glass,” the filmmaker’s sequel to the 2000 hit.

Glass” is a follow-up to Shyamalan’s films “Split” and “Unbreakable,” in which Bruce Willis starred as David Dunn, a security guard who discovers he has superhuman powers that allow him to see the crimes people have committed by touching them.

Willis and his “Unbreakable” co-star Samuel L. Jackson are also returning, along with “Split” stars James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy.

In “Glass,” Dunn pursues Crumb’s superhuman figure of The Beast in a series of escalating encounters, while the shadowy presence of Elijah Price, aka Mr. Glass (Jackson), emerges as an orchestrator who holds secrets critical to both men.

Clark is back as Willis’ son, while Woodard is returning to play Jackson’s mother.

Jason Blum, Marc Bienstock, Ashwin Rajan, and Shyamalan are producing “Glass” for Universal. The »


- Justin Kroll

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Josh Greenstein Re-Ups as Sony Marketing and Distribution Chief

10 hours ago

Josh Greenstein has renewed his contract to remain as Sony Pictures’ president of worldwide marketing and distribution. The deal is for three years.

He will continue to report to Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group Chairman Tom Rothman. Greenstein joined the studio in 2014, having been hired away from Paramount by Amy Pascal, Rothman’s predecessor. His employment status has been closely monitored, and there had been mutterings that he might decamp Sony at the end of his deal for a return engagement at Paramount or might segue to 20th Century Fox.

It wasn’t clear how Greenstein would get along with Rothman, given that he had been hired by Pascal. However, Rothman has been courting the executive to remain on board, according to insiders, arguing that after several bruising years at the box office, Sony was turning a corner. His pitch, it appears, worked.

“Josh is a true star in our industry,” said »

- Brent Lang

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Film Review: ‘This is Congo’

10 hours ago

“This is Congo” is a riskily broad, blunt title for a documentary about a territory still feverish with present-day conflict and an unhappily storied past; by nominally promising to show us Congo in all its glory and equivalent woe, American filmmaker Daniel McCabe’s busy, absorbing study sets itself a bar it can hardly hope to meet in just 90-odd minutes. Yet while its attempt at a potted colonial history of the country is merely cursory, “This is Congo” is strong medicine when it turns more selective: As a contemporary study of the violent struggle between the hamstrung Congolese national army and M23 rebel forces in the North Kivu region, the film is often blisteringly effective, venturing to the frontline in pursuit of raw war footage likely to open many an outside viewer’s eyes — or, at its harshest interludes, prompt them to squeeze tightly shut.

That vivid illustrating-the-headlines approach should give “This is Congo” considerable mileage »


- Guy Lodge

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‘Star Trek: Discovery,’ ‘Woodshock’ Premieres and More Red Carpets and Parties

10 hours ago

This week’s red carpets and parties include the “Star Trek: Discovery” premiere.

Related storiesBox Office: Can 'Kingsman' or 'Lego Ninjago' Knock 'It' From Top Spot?Kirsten Dunst Calls Filming 'Woodshock' With Mulleavy Sisters 'Emotionally Draining'Our Staff Picks: TV Shows to Watch the Week of Sept. 18, 2017 »


- Jacob Bryant

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Animation Is Film Festival Unveils Full Slate and Jury

11 hours ago

The first Animation Is Film Festival has announced its full slate of films and events, and has finalized its competition jury.

Added to the previously announced selection of films in competition are the North American premiere of “Fireworks, Should We See It From the Side or the Bottom” by Nobuyuki Takeuchi and Akiyuki Shinbo, which will screen on opening night, Friday, Oct. 20; the West Coast premiere of “Mutafukaz” by Guillaume Renard and Shoujirou Nishimi; the U.S. premiere of “Night Is Short, Walk on Girl,” by Masaaki Yuasa; and the world premiere of “Tropical Virus,” which will screen on Saturday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A with director Santiago Caicedo.

Previously announced competition films are “The Breadwinner,” directed by Nora Twomey, one of Variety’s 2017 10 Animators to Watch; “The Big Bad Fox & Other Tales” by Patrick Imbert and Benjamin Renner; “Big Fish and Begonia” by Liang Xua and Zhang Chun; “Birdboy: The Forgotten Children” by »


- Terry Flores

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Peter Rabbit Goes Wild in First Trailer for Live-Action/Animated Film

12 hours ago

Everyone’s favorite rambunctious rabbit finds new life as a party animal in the first trailer for the live-action/animated comedy “Peter Rabbit.”

The film stars James Corden as the the titular mischievous bunny whose feud with Mr. McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) escalates as they rival for the affections of the animal lover who lives next door (Rose Byrne). The film also stars Sam Neill and features the voices of Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki, and Daisy Ridley as his triplets Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail.

The trailer shows Peter and his furry friends raiding Mr. McGregor’s vegetable garden and trashing his home in a wild party, then frantically dispersing when the farmer returns home unexpectedly. The critter exudes so much charm that even a fox who previously tried to eat him is a welcome party guest.

The movie is based on the character from Beatrix Potter’s children’s book series. Peter Rabbit »


- Matt Fernandez

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Katy Perry’s ‘Roulette’ Will Be Featured in Orlando Bloom’s ‘S.M.A.R.T. Chase’ Movie

12 hours ago

Katy Perry’s single “Roulette” will be featured in the upcoming action film “S.M.A.R.T. Chase.”

The song, from her latest album “Witness,” was inspired by Perry’s time visiting Shanghai, the city where “S.M.A.R.T. Chase” is set. “Roulette” will complement the fast-paced and adrenaline-revving scenes.

Related

Katy Perry Leads Star-Studded, Bumbling Basketball Team in ‘Swish Swish’ Video (Watch)

Directed by Charles Martin, the British-Chinese thriller stars Orlando Bloom, Lei Wu, Simon YamHannah Quinlivan, and Lynn Hung. The film follows Danny Stratton (Bloom), who is a washed-up private security agent. When he’s given the rare opportunity to escort a valuable Chinese antique out of Shanghai, he finds himself ambushed. With the safety of the woman he loves in jeopardy, Danny has to work with his team of experts to save her, while also outsmarting the ultimate mastermind behind the mission.

S.M.A.R.T. Chase” is produced by Bliss Media, which will be releasing the film in China on »


- Rebecca Rubin

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International Newswire: Beta, Zdf Talk High-End Series Partnership

12 hours ago

In today’s International Newswire, Beta and Zdf’s commercial arm mull a partnership for upscale scripted series; Golden Globe-nominated director Klaus Haro delves into the shady side of the art-world; and A+ E’s Edward Sabin headlines Mip Cancun, a Latin American TV event that’s growing in importance.

Zdf Enterprises, the commercial arm of German public broadcaster Zdf, is in talks with Munich-based Beta Film, one of the key players in Europe’s scripted TV finance and sales, to create a joint venture to develop, finance and produce high-end scripted drama for the international market.

Details of the alliance have yet to be announced. Its rationale, however, is clear. Unlike Sweden or other smaller European countries, Germany has one of the biggest TV markets in Europe. So there’s less pressure to produce for international than, say, in Scandinavia, whose Nordic Noir was part born out of the necessity to reach beyond domestic. But »


- Leo Barraclough and John Hopewell

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Evan Langweiler Promoted to Senior VP of Global Communications for Universal Pictures

13 hours ago

Universal Pictures has upped Evan Langweiler to senior VP of global communications for the studio.

He will continue to oversee many aspects of the studio’s strategic media relations, including worldwide box office reporting, transactional announcements, dating of its films, and serving as the group’s primary staff writer.

He will be based in Los Angeles.

He will work closely with Universal’s international and brand teams as well as DreamWorks TV and NBCUniversal on issues relating to the business. Langweiler works closely with many of Universal’s filmmakers.

He will continue to report to Cindy Gardner.

Langweiler most recently served as VP of global communications for Universal. He has been with Universal since 2010 and prior to that was with NBC where he was based in New York. Langweiller attended Trinity college before working for NBC.

Related storiesNick Carpou Retiring as Universal Domestic Distribution Chief, Jim Orr Promoted'War for the Planet of the Apes' Producer »


- Justin Kroll

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Oscars: Predicting This Year’s Best Picture Landscape

14 hours ago

Getting into the weeds of full-blown “Oscar predictions” four months before the nominations are announced increasingly feels like a waste of time. The Academy demographic is changing rapidly and finding the pulse with any real authority is, more and more, a fool’s errand. But with the early festivals behind us and a handful more on the horizon, most of this year’s crop has already been seen. The best picture race has taken shape and it promises to be an exciting one, with no frontrunner in sight. Here[/link] are, at least in one observer’s estimation, the 10 strongest contenders for recognition in this year’s contest.

“Call Me By Your Name[/link]” (Luca Guadagnino[/link]; Sony Pictures Classics[/link])

Pros: It’s an important film and a landmark in queer cinema. As the Academy’s collective taste leans more international (and cinephile), movies like this will only benefit.

Cons: Thrifty Sony Classics always has an Oscar presence, but »


- Kristopher Tapley

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Katie Lovejoy to Write ‘Pride and Prejudice’ Retelling ‘The Season’ for Warner Bros. (Exclusive)

15 hours ago

Katie Lovejoy will pen the adaptation of “The Season” for Warner Bros. with Temple Hill producing, sources tell Variety.

The project is described as a modern retelling of “Pride and Prejudice” set in Texas high society. Adapted from the book published in 2016 by Jonah Lisa Marsh and Stephen Dyer, “The Season” follows Megan McKnight, a soccer star with Olympic dreams, but she’s not a girly girl. So when her Southern belle mother secretly enters her in the Dallas debutante season, she’s furious — and has no idea what she’s in for. Her attitude gets her on probation with the mother hen of the debs, and she is given a month to prove she can ballroom dance, display impeccable manners, and curtsey like a proper Texas lady or she’ll get the boot and disgrace her family.

Pete Harris and John Fischer are overseeing the project for Temple Hill.

A »


- Justin Kroll

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