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Berlin Film Review: ‘Ghost Hunting’

6 hours ago

Having already indulged an exercise of soul-baring filmed psychoanalysis with “Fix Me,” director Raed Andoni extends his outdated idea of therapy to others in “Ghost Hunting,” an ethically problematic documentary in which Palestinian men recreate the circumstances of their incarceration and torture by the Israeli occupiers. Using the largely debunked notion that acting out one’s trauma is a means towards catharsis, Andoni has his various “actors” verbally and physically abuse one another while he watches from the side, exchanging the charge of narcissism that accompanied his previous doc with that of sadism.

Glowing pre-premiere praise from Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, the sensationalized emotional charge of the subject, plus Berlin’s best documentary prize means “Ghost Hunting” will garner far more attention than it deserves. The concept must have sounded hard-hitting and original on paper, considering the number of respected funding bodies — Doha, Sundance, Sanad, Venice’s Final Cut, »


- Jay Weissberg

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Berlin Film Review: ‘The Inland Road’

7 hours ago

In “The Inland Road,” the ruggedly beautiful landscapes of New Zealand’s isolated Otago region on the South Island provide a scenic backdrop to — and the most unique aspect of — a slender coming-of-age tale from debuting feature writer-director Jackie van Beek. The loose, performance-focused drama follows troubled Maori teen Tia (camera-friendly non-profressional actress Gloria Popata), who survives a fatal road accident while hitchhiking and is subsequently sheltered by the car’s driver, despite the objections of his wife. As the physically and emotionally-wounded Tia slowly comes to terms with her turbulent past, her sometimes confrontational presence provokes a crisis in the marriage of her hosts. Further fest action seems likely for this small-scale but strikingly-shot film.

Much like laconic 16-year-old Tia (whose curvaceous body, smoking habit and way with a rifle make her seem more mature than her age), van Beek’s spare narrative only parsimoniously doles out information, something »


- Alissa Simon

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‘La La Land,’ ‘Game of Thrones’ Win Cinema Audio Society Awards

8 hours ago

La La Land” and “Game of Thrones” walked away with top film and television honors at the 53rd Cinema Audio Society Awards Saturday night.

Finding Nemo” won the theatrical animated prize, while “The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble” took the documentary award. Other television winners included “Modern Family” and “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.”

The Jungle Book” director Jon Favreau received the organization’s Filmmaker Award. Previous recipients include Quentin Tarantino, Richard Linklater, Bill Condon, Rob Marshall and Jonathan Demme.

La La Land” is nominated for the sound mixing Oscar this year, along with “Arrival,” Cas nominee “Hacksaw Ridge,” Cas nominee “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.”

Game of Thrones” and “The People v. O.J. Simpson” won sound mixing Emmys last year.

Full list of Cas Awards winners below.

Motion Picture – Live Action »


- Kristopher Tapley

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Bet Presents the American Black Film Festival Honors Celebrates Denzel Washington, Queen Latifah, ‘Love Jones’

10 hours ago

Now in its second year, the Bet Presents the American Black Film Festival Honors was a full-blown, star-studded affair that celebrated Denzel WashingtonQueen LatifahTerrence Howard, F. Gary Gray, and others on Friday at the Beverly Hilton.

“I’ve been in here on different days and it never looked like this. This is beautiful,” said Latifah as she accepted the entertainment icon award.

Black actors, musicians, and filmmakers, such as Viola Davis, Lee DanielsCicely Tyson, Diahann CarrollPharrell Williams, and Washington, who was on hand to receive the Hollywood legacy award, attended the event — Bet’s first film awards show. Host Regina Hall supplied the laughs throughout the ceremony, poking fun at both the stars in attendance and Abff founder Jeff Friday.

“That was such a long speech, Jeff’s last name just went from Friday to Saturday,” Hall quipped after the Abff founder thanked everyone involved and »


- Mannie Holmes

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Berlinale Chief Dieter Kosslick on Bringing Down Walls

19 hours ago

As the Berlinale draws to a close, the film festival’s chief Dieter Kosslick observes with satisfaction that the event, once again, served as both a showcase for outstanding movies and a soapbox for political views, including opposition to the policies of President Donald Trump. “It was a classic Berlinale,” he told Variety.

Referring to Trump, Kosslick said: “The guy has caused an international wake-up call, so we are all alert now to what is going on.” Kosslick welcomed the “pop-up demonstration” – a flash-mob – that took place next to a section of the Berlin Wall close to the European Film Market venue, the Martin-Gropius-Bau, in support of Mexican actor-director and Berlinale jury member Diego Luna, who had remarked during a press conference that he wanted to tear down walls.

Kosslick also mentioned other protests during the festival, such as the Romanian film professionals’ expression of their opposition to their government »


- Leo Barraclough

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Berlin Film Festival: ‘On Body and Soul’ Wins Golden Bear for Best Film

20 hours ago

Ildikó Enyedi’s Hungarian drama “On Body and Soul” won the Golden Bear for best film at the Berlin Film Festival on Saturday.

Set in a Budapest slaughterhouse, the tender love story follows the burgeoning romance between a shy young women and her similarly quiet older boss as the two discover that they have the same dreams at night.

The international jury, headed by Dutch filmmaker Paul Verhoeven, handed out prizes far and wide, awarding a broad range of international works.

Senegalese filmmaker Alain Gomis’ Kinshasa-based drama “Félicité,” about a strongly independent and passionate singer in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa who is forced to raise money for her son’s operation, won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize.

Related

Berlin Film Review: ‘On Body and Soul’

The Silver Bear Alfred Bauer prize for a feature film that opens new perspectives went to Agnieszka Holland’s murder mystery “Spoor.”

Aki Kaurismäki »


- Ed Meza

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Box Office: ‘Lego Batman’ Blocks Trio of Newcomers to Win Friday

23 hours ago

In its second frame, “The Lego Batman Movie” knocked down fresh films “The Great Wall,” “Fist Fight” and “A Cure For Wellness” to win the Friday box office.

Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment’s animated adventure picked up an additional $7.5 million from 4,088 theaters on its way to a four-day estimate in the $38 million range. Universal’s “Fifty Shades Darker,” which came out on top last Friday, looks to land solidly in second for the weekend after earning $6.8 million this Friday from 3,714 locations.

Universal’s “Great Wall” starring Matt Damon earned $5.9 million on Friday from 3,325 theaters, landing it in third. The Legendary production’s holiday weekend estimate stands between $19 and $20 million.

Related

Film Review: ‘The Lego Batman Movie

New Line’s “Fist Fight” should round out the top five behind the second weekend of “John Wick: Chapter 2.” The comedy took in $3.8 million on Friday from 3,185 locations on its way »


- Seth Kelley

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Berlinale: Variety Hosts 10 Europeans to Watch Luncheon with Tiffany, Medienboard (Photos)

18 February 2017 2:15 AM, PST

Variety’s 10 Europeans to Watch were feted at a luncheon last week at Soho House in Berlin, in association with Tiffany & Co., and later the same day at a reception hosted by Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

The honorees were welcomed at the luncheon by Tiffany’s communications manager Central Europe, Melanie Kelm, Medienboard chief Kirsten Niehuus and Variety’s vice president, executive editor, Steven Gaydos.

The honorees attending the luncheon were “Deutschland 83” actor Jonas Nay, “Babylon Berlin” actress Liv Lisa Fries, actor Jakub Gierszal, who appears in Agnieszka Holland’s Berlin competition entry “Spoor,” director Gabriele Mainetti (“They Call Me Jeeg”), director Robin Pront (“The Ardennes”), and actress Reka Tenki, who appears in Berlinale competition title “On Body and Soul.”

Csaba Papp, Reka Tenki, Bart van Langendonck (Photo: Ulf Büschleb)

Gabriele Mainetti, Andrea Occhipinti (Photo: Courtesy of Ulf Büschleb)

Jakub Gierszal (Photo: Courtesy of Ulf Büschleb)

Kirsten Niehuus, »


- Leo Barraclough

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Josh Hutcherson Says First Time Directing is ‘Daunting’ and ‘Satisfying’

17 February 2017 5:38 PM, PST

In his new short film “Ape,” “Hunger Games” star Josh Hutcherson directed actors for the first time, including himself. His protagonist, Travis, is a young schizophrenic.

The short is part of “The Big Script,” an incubator series launched by Hutcherson’s company Turkeyfoot Productions, next-gen digital studio Indigenous Media and Condé Nast Entertainment, which took five scripts about adolescent or young adult protagonists and mentored the writers through the process of directing their own short film.

“We’re trying to find new voices. It’s that simple,” Indigenous Media co-ceo Jon Avnet says. “Wouldn’t this be an interesting way to get a script turned into a feature film?” For Hutcherson, whom Avnet calls “very talented,” the risk paid off. “Ape” is now being turned into its own feature. You can watch all the films on Condé Nast Entertainment’s digital video collection “The Scene.”

Related

Josh Hutcherson’s Directorial »


- Dani Levy

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Early ‘Logan’ Reviews: What the Critics Are Saying

17 February 2017 5:17 PM, PST

Logan,” opening March 3, is reportedly Hugh Jackman’s final appearance as the mutant Wolverine, a character he has portrayed for 17 years.

According to a majority of critics, “Logan” does a solid job at rounding out the standalone trilogy of Wolverine films. Critics widely commended Jackman’s ability in refining the character over the years, embracing the fact that despite his powers dwindling away, Wolverine maintains credible superhero status even as he tussles between embodying both man and mutant.

Some of the most general criticisms noted that the story within “Logan” sometimes felt “stitched together from other films,” as Variety critic Owen Gleiberman phrased it. Nonetheless, the film is being praised for its fulfilling weaving of violence and sentimentality.

Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman

“It’s Jackman who holds “Logan” together and gives the film its glimmer of soul. He has been playing this role, more or less nonstop, for 18 years, but »


- Sarah Ahern

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Donald Glover to Play Simba in ‘Lion King’ Live-Action Remake

17 February 2017 4:53 PM, PST

Donald Glover is ready to sing “Hakuna Matata.”

The “Atlanta” star is in talk to play Simba in Disney’s live-action “The Lion King” remake directed by Jon Favreau, Variety has confirmed. Favreau also announced that James Earl Jones, who voiced Simba’s father of Mustafa in the original, will return to reprise roll.

Favreau tweeted a photo of Glover with the message “I just can’t wait to be king. #Simba”

I just can’t wait to be king. #Simba pic.twitter.com/wUYKixMBJI

Jon Favreau (@Jon_Favreau) February 18, 2017

Favreau is directing with Jeff Nathanson writing. The film is being fast-tracked, even as Favreau begins development on his sequel to the recent hit “The Jungle Book.”

“Lion King” was originally released in 1994 and is one of the highest-grossing animated films of all time, ultimately hauling $968.5 million at the global box office.

The studio’s emphasis on live-action reboots follows »


- Justin Kroll

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Noah Hawley to Produce Reese Witherspoon’s Astronaut Drama ‘Pale Blue Dot’

17 February 2017 4:15 PM, PST

Noah Hawley, creator of the FX series “Legion” and “Fargo,” has come on board Reese Witherspoon’s astronaut drama “Pale Blue Dot” at Fox Searchlight.

Variety reported in 2015 that Witherspoon was attached to star and produce, based on the original spec script by Brian C. Brown and Elliott Diguiseppi. The story follows a successful female astronaut who, after coming back home from a mission in space, starts to unravel when confronted by her seemingly-perfect American dream life. The story explores the theory that astronauts who spend long periods of time staring at the Earth from space begin to lose their sense of reality when they return home.

Related

Legion’: Creator Noah Hawley on Taking FX Series Beyond X-Men

Hawley is producing “Pale Blue Dot” through his production company 26 Keys. He’s also set up a second project with Fox Searchlight, a drama tentatively titled “Buried Bodies” that’s based »


- Dave McNary

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‘The Batman’: Negotiations Break Down Between Studio and Director Matt Reeves

17 February 2017 3:40 PM, PST

In another setback for the superhero tentpole, talks have broken down between Warner Bros. and director Matt Reeves about becoming the director of “The Batman,” Variety has confirmed.

A studio source indicates that negotiations have stopped, but adds that talks could resume down the road. WB is still intent on making the film, the source insisted, whatever means necessary.

The news comes after star Ben Affleck stepped down as director in order to focus on playing the Caped Crusader.

“There are certain characters who hold a special place in the hearts of millions,” Affleck said in a statement on Jan. 30. “Performing this role demands focus, passion, and the very best performance I can give. It has become clear that I cannot do both jobs to the level they require. Together with the studio, I have decided to find a partner in »


- Justin Kroll

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Box Office: ‘Lego Batman’ to Tear Down ‘The Great Wall,’ Beat ‘Fist Fight’

17 February 2017 3:21 PM, PST

Holy, box office champ! “The Lego Batman Movie” is heading for a dominant $41 million at the North American box office this Presidents Day weekend, taking in more than the combined haul of three new entries, early estimates showed Friday.

Action-fantasy “The Great Wall” was heading for $18 million at 3,325 sites for the Friday-Monday period, while high school comedy “Fist Fight” looks likely to finish around $14 million at 3,185 locations. Meanwhile, horror-thriller “A Cure for Wellness” was scaring up a modest $5 million at 2,704 screens.

The second weekend of “Fifty Shades Darker” appeared likely to challenge “The Great Wall” for runner-up as the erotic sequel saw patronage plunge by about 67% from its opening weekend. The follow-up to “John Wick” may also contend for second with a projection of $16 million.

“Lego Batman,” Warner Bros.’ spinoff of 2014’s “The Lego Movie,” is playing at 4,088 sites and will wind up the weekend with more than $103 million in its first 11 days. »


- Dave McNary

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‘Shazam’: Superhero Movie Eyes ‘Lights Out’ Director

17 February 2017 2:20 PM, PST

Lights Out” director David F. Sandberg is in talks to direct New Line’s “Shazam” superhero movie.

Lights Out,” based on Sandberg’s short film, was a breakout success last summer for New Line with the horror film grossing nearly $150 million on a $5 million budget. Several months before the release of “Lights Out,” New Line hired the Swedish filmmaker to direct “Annabelle 2,” which will be out in August.

Shazam first appeared in 1939 as Captain Marvel in comic books published by Fawcett Comics as a creation of artist C. C. Beck and writer Bill Parker. He is the alter ego of teenage Billy Batson, who becomes the superhero when he says the word “Shazam!” — an acronym for the gods of the ancient world with the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Aries, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles and the speed of Mercury.

Dwayne Johnson »


- Dave McNary

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Brad Grey in Talks to Leave as Paramount Pictures Chairman

17 February 2017 1:56 PM, PST

Updated: Paramount Pictures chairman and CEO Brad Grey is in talks with his bosses at Viacom to step aside and take on a new role with the company, a long-rumored shift that would come after five years of dismal results at the film studio, two sources confirmed Friday.

Grey’s possible departure comes after not only a long series of box office flops, far outnumbering hits, but also upheaval in the top executive ranks. Though a replacement has not yet been chosen, several sources said that it is possible the job will go, at least on a temporary basis, to Amy Powell, Paramount’s president of television and digital entertainment.

The talks between Grey and Viacom’s leadership, including CEO Bob Bakish, were continuing into the afternoon Friday and might not be resolved until Monday or Tuesday, according to one of the sources.

Grey, a former talent manager, has had a largely tumultuous run. »


- Brent Lang and James Rainey

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Behind the Song: The Journey of ‘La La Land’s’ ‘City of Stars’

17 February 2017 1:31 PM, PST

Even before “La La Land” unspooled at festivals and in theaters, people were humming the tune “City of Stars” thanks to early teasers. The melancholy theme appears twice in the film — Ryan Gosling’s Sebastian sings a shortened version on a pier early on in the film, then later duets with Emma Stone’s Mia when the two have moved in together. The song has become an anthem of sorts for the film, and is one of two tunes nominated from the film for best original song.

Writer-director Damien Chazelle called upon his college roommate Justin Hurwitz to score the film and write the melodies for the six original songs. When it came to the lyrics, they hired the duo of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who are currently enjoying massive success on Broadway as the composers and lyricists of “Dear Evan Hansen.”

The journey to Oscar-nominated song was full »


- Jenelle Riley

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Berlin Film Review: ‘Logan’

17 February 2017 1:30 PM, PST

Logan,” the third and final chapter in the “Wolverine” series (though it’s the 10th — count ’em — “X-Men” film, and not necessarily the last), opens in 2029 on the outskirts of El Paso, where Logan (Hugh Jackman) steps out of the beat-up limo he now drives for a living to confront the goons who are trying to strip the car. To say that Logan looks the worse for wear would be putting it mildly. He’s a drunk, with mottled skin and his trademark sci-fi muttonchops grown into a scraggly beard. (The beard looks like a virus that’s going around, as if Jackman were warming up to play Mel Gibson.)

Optics aside, it’s Logan’s mutant prowess that’s really been tamped down. In any previous installment, a skirmish with mere mortals wouldn’t have been much of a contest, but Logan’s razory knuckle-blades no longer pop with the same alacrity, »


- Owen Gleiberman

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Fourth ‘Purge’ Movie Gets Release Date

17 February 2017 1:08 PM, PST

Universal Pictures and Blumhouse have announced that the next untitled film in the “Purge” series will open on Independence Day weekend 2018.

James DeMonaco, who helmed the previous two films, will return as writer. Blumhouse ProductionsJason Blum, Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form, and DeMonaco’s longtime production partner, Sebastien K. Lemercier will produce.

Plot details are unknown at this time as DeMonaco will work closely with the team to find a new director. Previous installments were set in the near future where the government, in order to bring down crime, created one day a year where all crime was legal including murder and labeled the event, “The Purge.”

The Purge: Election Year” starring Frank Grillo and Elizabeth Mitchell, became the highest grossing film in the series last summer, bringing in $118 million worldwide. It is unknown if previous cast members will return to the series.

Variety »


- Justin Kroll

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New ‘Power Rangers’ Trailer Showcases Elizabeth Banks, Goldar, and the Zords

17 February 2017 1:01 PM, PST

“The answer of what is happening to you is here.”

So says the commanding voice of Zordon (Bryan Cranston) to five recently empowered superhero teens in the latest “Power Rangers” trailer. The footage has the quintet, slowly learning how to use their powers, battling alien invader Rita Repulsa, played by none other than Elizabeth Banks.

“Five little rangers,” Banks, dressed in green armor and holding a golden scepter, sneers. “How cute.”

Related

Elizabeth Banks Says She Was Deemed ‘Too Old’ for 2002 ‘Spider-Man’ Role

The trailer is some of the best footage fans have seen of Rita in action, plus a look at Goldar, the giant golden monster she commands. Dramatic Edm music overlays the fighting clips, as Red, Blue, Pink, Yellow, and Black Rangers test out their newly obtained powers and zords (mechanical dinosaurs).

The reluctant heroes, whose first iteration debuted in 1993’s TV series “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” must »


- Dani Levy

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