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Women Come to Fore in Indonesian Film Industry

16 hours ago

The role of women in the industry, and the representation of female experience seem unavoidable in the discourse on Southeast Asian cinema. Mouly Surya, whose “Marlina, the Murderer in Four Acts,” will unspool in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes, is not a working in a vacuum. In fact, such directors as Nia Dinata, Nan Achnas, Kamila Andini and female producers including Christine Hakim, Shanty Harmayn, Mira Lesmana, Sheila Timothy and in recent years, Meiske Taurisia, all wield their influence in an industry filled with opportunity.

Actress Hakim produced films by Garin Nugroho and Achnas, and helped propel Silat fighter Iko Uwais from total obscurity to fame through “Merantau.” Through her company Miles Films, Lesmana has produced Riri Riza’s entire repertoire, including the runaway hit “Rainbow Troops.” She also nurtured the careers of Edwin (“Postcards From the Zoo”) and Taurisia. The latter, who started as a costume designer on Riza’s “Three Days to Forever,” has »


- Maggie Lee

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‘4.1 Miles’ Wins Special Jury Prize at BAFTA Los Angeles Student Film Awards

17 hours ago

Documentary short “4.1 Miles” by Daphne Matziaraki from Uc Berkeley won the special jury prize Thursday from British Academy of Film and Television Arts Los Angeles Student Film Awards in a gala ceremony at the Theatre at Ace Hotel. The docu short was nominated for an Oscar earlier this year.

BAFTA Los Angeles’ first-ever student film award for animation presented by Laika generated a tie between Alicja Jasina of USC for “Once Upon a Line” and Kal Athannassov, John McDonald, and Echo Wu from Ringling College of Art & Design for “The Wishgranter.”  The prize for live action was awarded to Jimmy Keyrouz from Columbia for “Nocturne in Black.” Matziaraki was also presented with the doc student film award for “4.1 Miles.”

The panel of judges included directors Ron Clements and John Musker (“Moana”); actors Shohreh Aghdashloo and Ioan Gruffudd; producer David Gelb; and editor Joan Sobel.

For the first time, BAFTA L.A. »


- Dixie Limbachia

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‘Wonder Woman’ Breaks Records: Biggest Live-Action Box Office Hit by Female Director

18 hours ago

Wonder Woman” set a new milestone on Friday, becoming the highest-grossing live-action film to be directed by a woman.

The superhero adventure eclipsed the $609.8 million racked up by “Mamma Mia!,” the Abba musical that was directed by Phyllida Lloyd.

Wonder Woman” was directed by Patty Jenkins, who previously oversaw the Oscar-winning “Monster.” Despite the critical raves that “Monster” earned, Jenkins had to wait 14 years before directing another feature film. She only got the “Wonder Woman” gig after the original choice, Michelle MacLaren, was pushed out in the wake of creative differences.

Related

DC Film’s Jon Berg, Geoff Johns on Success of ‘Wonder Woman’ and Sequel Plans (Exclusive)

Wonder Woman” was backed by Warner Bros. Pictures. Critics loved the film, praising it as a breath of fresh air after a series of downbeat comic book films such as “Suicide Squad” and “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

Jenkins hasn’t officially signed on to direct a “Wonder Woman »


- Brent Lang

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

18 hours ago

This week’s Hollywood red carpets and parties include Netflix’s “Glow” premiere and HBO’s “The Defiant Ones” party.

Related storiesXzibit to Dr. Dre Detractors: 'Do What He Did and Then Talk To Me'Eminem Makes Rare Appearance to Fete Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine at 'Defiant Ones' PremiereWhy 'Glow' Creators Made Women's Wrestling Series »


- Jacob Bryant

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Brics Film Festival Kicks Off in Chengdu, Spotlighting Talent from Emerging Regions

19 hours ago

The second annual Brics International Film Festival kicked off Friday in Chengdu, the Chinese capital of Sichuan province.

The festival, which runs June 23 to 27, aims to spotlight emerging talent and established filmmakers from Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

The fest opens with “Where Has the Time Gone,” a multi-national five-part feature from Brazil’s Walter SallesAleksey Fedorchenko from Russia; Madhur Bhandarkar from India, Jia Zhangke from China, and Jahmil X.T.Quebka from South Africa.

The festival will showcase 30 films including a competition and selection of classic cinema from each nation, such as the Oscar-nommed “Central Station,” “City of God,” “The Monk and the Devil,” and “Happiness is a Four Letter Word.”

One nation will be highlighted each day of the event, starting with China on Friday and followed by Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa.

After India hosted the first edition in 2016, next year’s event will take place in South Africa.

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- Variety Staff

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Johnny Depp Apologizes for Donald Trump Assassination Joke

21 hours ago

Johnny Depp has issued an apology for a controversial comment about President Donald Trump, asking, “When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?”

“It did not come out as intended, and I intended no malice. I was only trying to amuse, not to harm anyone,” the actor said in a statement to People on Friday.

Depp’s joke, in reference to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth in 1865, was made during an appearance at the Glastonbury Festival. “I want to qualify, I am not an actor. I lie for a living,” he added at the U.K. music festival. “However, it has been a while and maybe it is time.”

Shortly after news broke of Depp’s comments, the White House issued a statement strongly condemning the joke and calling on others in Hollywood to speak out.

President Trump has condemned violence in all forms and it’s sad that others like »


- Alex Stedman

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‘Love Your Neighbor,”Amparo,”Corpus Christi’ Shine at Paris Coproduction Village

21 hours ago

Paris– Sharon Bar-Ziv’s “Love Your Neighbor,” the Israeli helmer’s follow up to “Room 514,” Simon Mesa Soto’s feature debut “Amparo” and Polish helmer Jan Komasa’s “Corpus Christi” were the highlights at the 4th Paris Coproduction Village which wrapped on Thursday.

Headed by Pierre-Emmanuel Fleurantin and Jeremy Zelnik, this edition of the Paris Coproduction Village showcased 12 projects in development looking for French and European co-producers, sales agents and financiers.

“Corpus Christi” turns on Daniel, a 20-year old man who comes out of a Youth Detention Center with the dream of becoming a priest. After facing rejection due to his troubled past, Daniel comes across a local Parish parish priest who suffers from alcoholism and needs his help.

Komasa is one of Poland’s best-known contemporary filmmakers. He previously directed the mini-series “Blood of the Blood,” and the critically-acclaimed films “Warsaw 44” and “Suicide Room.”

Citing “Warsaw 44,” Zelnik said Komasa was one of Poland’s rare directors »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Karlovy Vary Film Festival Honors Talent Working in Front of and Behind the Camera

21 hours ago

Casey Affleck

President’s Award

An Academy Award-winner for his role in “Manchester by the Sea” (2016), Affleck will receive his kudo prior to a screening of “A Ghost Story,” in which he stars. Affleck, along with helmer-writer David Lowery, will introduce the film. Affleck starred in Lowery’s debut film “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” (2013) and recently completed production on Lowery’s “The Old Man and the Gun.”

Like his older brother, multi-hyphenate Ben, Casey Affleck has a parallel career as a writer-producer-director. He is in post on his second feature as a helmer-writer, “The Light of My Life,” in which he also stars.

Related

Future Frames Showcase at Karlovy Vary Casts the Spotlight on Promising Creative Talent

James Newton Howard

Crystal Globe

American composer and songwriter Howard will conduct the Czech National Symphony Orchestra in a performance of his music for the film “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” in front of Hotel Thermal on June 30, during the fest’s opening. Howard is currently preparing for his first live concert tour, a celebration of career highlights, with music, spoken word and video, that will visit 20 European cities.

Howard has composed music for more than 120 films, including Academy Award-nominated scores for “Defiance,” “Michael Clayton,” “The Village,” “The Fugitive,” “The Prince of Tides” and “My Best Friend’s Wedding” — not to mention Oscar-nominated songs for “Junior” and “One Fine Day.”

In addition to his contributions to film and television music, the Emmy- and Grammy-winning Howard has also composed concert pieces for the Pacific Symphony.

Paul Laverty

Crystal Globe

Laverty wrote the scripts for 12 features and two short films directed by Ken Loach, beginning with “Carla’s Song” (1996). Their most recent collaboration, “I, Daniel Blake” (2016), won the Palme d’Or at Cannes.

Laverty wrote the screenplay for Loach’s first Palme d’Or winner, “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” (2006). His credits with Loach include “My Name Is Joe,” (1998), a Cannes lead actor-winner for Peter Mullan and Cannes screenplay winner “Sweet Sixteen” (2002).

He also writes screenplays for his partner, the Spanish director and actress Icíar Bollaín.

Ken Loach

Crystal Globe

An activist as well as one of Britain’s most celebrated directors, Loach worked briefly in theater before starting as a director for BBC television in the early 1960s. There, he helmed ground-breaking dramas such as “Up the Junction” and “Cathy Come Home.” The impact of the latter led to a change in Britain’s homeless laws. Acclaimed early features such as “Poor Cow” (1967) and “Kes” (1969) brought his trademarks of social realism and compassion to the big screen.

Even though Loach’s 50-plus-year career includes a dark period when he couldn’t get a project off the ground and he directed commercials to support his family, he has been extraordinarily prolific. Undoubtedly, this is due in part to his on-going collaboration with producer Rebecca O’Brien and long-term partnerships with screenwriters including Barry Hines, Jim Allen and perhaps most fruitfully, Paul Laverty. Loach is also known for introducing exciting new acting talents.

Jeremy Renner

President’s Award

Actor, producer, musician and two-time Oscar-nominee Renner will receive his kudo at the fest’s closing gala on July 8. Renner will also introduce the crime thriller “Wind River,” directed by Taylor Sheridan.

Known for his intensity and ability to fully embody the characters he portrays, Renner received early critical acclaim as a serial killer in “Dahmer” (2002). He later established himself through roles in action and war movies, garnering an Oscar nomination for lead actor in Kathryn Bigelow’s war tale “The Hurt Locker” (2008). A supporting actor nom followed two years later for Ben Affleck’s bank heist drama “The Town” (2010).

Renner’s extensive filmography balances big-budget blockbusters such as “The Avengers” and “Mission: Impossible” series with more complex roles in “American Hustle” and “Arrival.”

In 2012, he formed the production company The Combine, with partner Don Handfield, to create, develop and produce high-quality, character-driven content for mainstream audiences.

Uma Thurman

President’s Award

The sensual, statuesque American actress and producer Uma Thurman will receive her honor on June 30, during the fest’s opening night. An Oscar-nominee for Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” (1994), Thurman’s memorable acting career is notable for her collaboration with iconic helmers.

Thurman was only a teenager when she made an impact in Stephen Frears’ “Dangerous Liaisons” (1988) and Terry Gilliam’s surreal “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” (1988). However, the part of Mia Wallace in Tarantino’s sensational “Pulp Fiction” marked a turning point, garnering her numerous awards and nominations. Another successful Tarantino collaboration followed nearly a decade later with the cult double-header: “Kill Bill: Vols. 1 and 2” (2003, 2004). She received two Golden Globe nominations for her role as The Bride.

Thurman ultimately nabbed a Golden Globe for for her role in Mira Nair’s made-for-tv feature “Hysterical Blindness” (2002). She produced “The Accidental Husband” (2008) and the forthcoming “Girl Soldier.”

Václav Vorlíček

President’s Award

Renowned for his work for younger audiences, director-writer Vorlíček, 87, will receive an honor for his artistic contribution to Czech film.

Vorlíček teamed with writer and director Miloš Macourek, to form an original creative partnership responsible for a distinctive chapter in the development of Czech film. Their poetic vision, in which real life comes up against elements of fantasy, remains unique to this day.

Prime examples of Vorlíček and Macourek’s work include the “comic book” comedy “Who Wants to Kill Jessie?” (1966); the sci-fi comedy “You Are a Widow, Sir!” (1970).

Another comedy that employs fairytale motifs in contemporary Prague titled “How to Drown Dr. Mracek, the Lawyer” (1974); the TV series “Arabela” (1979-80); and “Rumburak” (1985).

Vorlíček is also known for his fairytale films, especially the comedy “The Girl on the Broomstick” (1971) and “Three Wishes for Cinderella” (1973), now a perennially popular Christmas classic on Czech television.

Related storiesFuture Frames Showcase at Karlovy Vary Casts the Spotlight on Promising Creative TalentKarlovy Vary International Film Festival Celebrates Critics Choice MoviesKarlovy Vary International Film Festival Showcases Stories of Social Turmoil »


- Alissa Simon

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Film Review: Bertrand Tavernier’s ‘My Journey Through French Cinema’

22 hours ago

Whether you already consider yourself an expert on French cinema or are just beginning to explore all the country has to offer, director Bertrand Tavernier’s more-than-three-hour “My Journey Through French Cinema” provides an essential tour through the films that shaped him as a cinephile and storyteller. Clearly modeled after Martin Scorsese’s own made-for-tv journey through American Movies, this incredibly personal and occasionally idiosyncratic labor of love hails from one of the country’s leading experts on the medium, combining a wide-ranging survey with insights that only Tavernier could provide.

A celebrated helmer in his own right, Tavernier counts such masterworks as “A Sunday in the Country” and “Coup de torchon” among his credits. But the director’s contributions to the medium are hardly limited to his own filmography. Like so many French directors of his generation, Tavernier started out as a film critic, studying and championing the work of the era’s leading auteurs. His »


- Peter Debruge

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Singer and Actress Lena Horne Arrived Too Soon for Hollywood

22 hours ago

June 30 would be the 100th birthday of Lena Horne, who had it all: looks, charm, and a singing voice that was noted for its “expressiveness and dramatic intensity,” as Variety once wrote. Hollywood needed her, but she didn’t need Hollywood. The racial barriers were too strong. When MGM signed her in 1942, she was already a successful singer; the studio starred her in two all-black musicals, “Cabin in the Sky” and “Stormy Weather” (which became one of her signature songs). After that, MGM gave her solos in musicals like “Ziegfeld Follies” and “Till the Clouds Roll By.” Her songs were extraneous to the plot; that way, her sequences could be cut for movie theaters that refused to screen films with blacks in prominent roles. Horne continued to have a successful career in nightclubs, records, Broadway and TV well into the 1990s, and she fought for civil rights and equality until her death in 2010, at age 92.

Horne was »


- Tim Gray

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Future Frames Showcase at Karlovy Vary Casts the Spotlight on Promising Creative Talent

22 hours ago

Future Frames, a next-generation showcase, spotlights short works by students and recent graduates of European film schools. The selection is curated by the Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival in cooperation with European Film Promotion. The selected directors and their films will be introduced to the public, press and industry July 2-5 in the spa town. Canadian director Denis Coté will mentor the group and teach a masterclass. The Sundance Channel and Nespresso are partners of Future Frames 2017.

Icelandic helmer Elsa Maria Jakobsdóttir (“Atelier”) neatly sums up the opinion of all the young participants: “I’m looking forward to meeting the filmmakers and seeing what they are up to. I think directors should network more and have each other’s back. Producers are generally amazingly good at this. And look where they’re at!”

Michal Blaško

“Atlantis, 2003”

Academy of Performing Arts, Bratislava

Slovak Republic

Blaško’s B.A. project, the gripping drama “Atlantis, 2003,” screened in the recent Cannes Cinefondation competition. It asks a universal question: “How responsible are we for each other?” Blaško is interested in the theme of human conscience. “I find it so interesting to build characters and, after knowing them for some time, to place them in situations where they have to prove their inner strength, neutrality or weakness,” he says. He is preparing his M.A. degree film, “Victims,” and co-directing a short animation “Wild Beasts.” The busy Blaško is also developing a feature with producer Jakub Viktorín.

Maria Eriksson

“Schoolyard Blues”

Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts, Sweden

Eriksson completed her masters in film direction with the sensitive drama “Schoolyard Blues,” featuring impressive performances by child actors. “I make films that focus on the relationships between us, the small things we do that have big consequences,” she says. “I want my films to have an emotional impact. I want to hit the heart first, then the mind. Not the other way around.” After another short based on the same themes as “Schoolyard Blues,” she plans to move into features. She’s drawn to poetic realism and influenced by filmmakers such as Andrea Arnold and Bo Widerberg.

Elsa María Jakobsdóttir

Atelier

National Film School of Denmark,

Iceland

Jakobsdóttir, who has a background in sociology and journalism, was the first Icelandic woman to be accepted into the directing program at the National Film School of Denmark. Her potent drama “Atelier” is her graduation project. “I’m a researcher at heart,” Jakobsdóttir says. “Lately I’ve been interested in modern self-help culture and creepy Scandinavian minimalism.” She knows which film she wants to make next and is looking for the right producer. “I also want to try for once to write together with a screenwriter. So, I’m people scouting these days. I’m also looking for an office in Copenhagen. Anyone?”

Liene Linde

“Seven Awkward Sex Scenes”

Latvian Academy of Culture, Latvia

A filmmaker and critic, Linde wants to push cinematic boundaries. She says: “We live in a world of very simplified narratives; what I want to get across with my films is the idea that life is a complex, beautiful and funny mystery.” Courageous artists inspire her. “Possibly the biggest influence for me in recent years has been the animated feature ‘Rocks in My Pockets’ by the New York-based Latvian animator Signe Baumane. She was so brutally honest about herself and her past in this film; this honesty, coupled with the black, sharp sense of humor resonated deeply in me.”

Matei

Lucaci-Grunberg

“Bones for Otto”

National University of Theater and Film I.L. Caragiale, Bucharest, Romania

Lucaci-Grunberg is a theater and film director, screenwriter and playwright, who is also pursuing his doctorate. “Bones” offers a surprising, lightly comic night out with a veteran of the world’s oldest profession and a newbie. “Momentarily I am exploring comedies,” Lucaci-Grunberg says. “I would like to try different types of comedies: from social comedies to dark comedies to dialogue-based comedies and even slapstick. I think that in comedy you can find a lot of truth and you don’t have to take yourself too seriously. Also, I consider comedies very hard to write and direct, which represents an interesting challenge.”

Joren Molter

“Greetings From Kropsdam”

Netherlands Film Academy, Netherlands

“I try to make films with an ecstatic value in the storytelling and a form that reflects on our society,” Molter says. “Films where you can feel the hand of the author in the stylistic choices. I’m fascinated by themes such as dark human urges and weaknesses.” He’s working as a commercial director and developing a film for television. The Dutch Film Fund is backing his next short “Kind,” which will shoot this fall. “I’m also developing a screenplay for my first feature film together with my screenwriter and the production company Family Affair Films.”

Katarina Morano

“Ljubljana-München 15:27”

Academy for Theater, Radio, Film and Television, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Morano’s previous short, “Where To (Kam),” was nominated for a student Oscar. The ambitious drama “Ljubljana-München 15:27,” about a young couple that ultimately realizes that everything they thought was temporary has suddenly become permanent, is her graduation project. “I would love to make films that, for a brief moment, stop us, stop the time, make us question our path and beyond all make us see what we so often try not to see,” she says. Although her academic career is complete, she observes, “the more time I spend with films, the more I see that film school never finishes.”

Giorgi Mukhadze

“Waiting for Ana”

Shota Rustaveli Theater and Film Georgia State University, Georgia

Tbilisi-based Mukhadze has worked as a director, assistant director and screenwriter for several production companies. “Waiting for Ana” is his graduation film. He’s working on a new short and writing a script for his first feature. He says: “I never think of the type of film I want to make. I think of the story behind it and the form comes along. It is not a very rational and consciousness decision.” Asked about his influences, he cites “a sequence of my life and observations. The books I have read, the films I have watched, but reality affects me most.”

Kirsikka Saari

“After the Reunion”

Elo Helsinki Film School, Finland

Saari is a co-founder of the production company Tuffi Film and previously worked as a journalist. Before making her directing debut, she penned several prize-winning scripts. She aims to create films that make people laugh and cry at the same time, something epitomized by her rueful dramedy “After the Reunion.” Saari says: “Everyday life is my inspiration, I see a lot of humor in the everyday struggle of people.” She’s working on a feature-length comedy about an extended family and several short film projects. She also wrote the screenplay for Selma Vilhunen’s next feature, titled “Stupid Young Heart.”

Damián Vondrášek

“Imprisoned”

Famu, Czech Republic

Vondrášek is finishing his third year at Famu and would like to get a master’s degree. He’s preparing his B.A. project. “The story is a reaction to the rising extremism in Europe,” he says. Meanwhile, “Imprisoned” is an intimate, realistic drama treating various forms of imprisonment. He cites Tobias Lindholm from Denmark and Corneliu Porumboiu from Romania as filmmakers that inspire him. “I would like to make films that have something important to say, that are authentic to reality and my personal experience. … Realistic drama is something which I naturally tend to.”

Related storiesKarlovy Vary Film Festival Honors Talent Working in Front of and Behind the CameraKarlovy Vary International Film Festival Celebrates Critics Choice MoviesKarlovy Vary International Film Festival Showcases Stories of Social Turmoil »


- Alissa Simon

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Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Celebrates Critics Choice Movies

22 hours ago

Variety Critics Choice celebrates its 20th anniversary as a key Karlovy Vary International Film Festival section.

Animals

Switzerland-Austria-Poland

If you can’t trust the talking cat, whom do you trust? Such are brain-frying quandaries viewers may face deep into the darkness of this deliciously unhinged, blood-laced adult fairy tale from Swiss-Polish writer-director Greg Zglinski. Setting out with real-world levels of macabre nastiness as it wittily probes the marital faultlines between a bourgeois Viennese couple attempting a restorative Alpine getaway, the film takes a smooth, almost imperceptible left turn into David Lynch-worthy realms of illogic that will leave adventurous audiences both rapt and dazed, dreamily uncertain of where exactly they lost the plot. Unraveling this cat’s-cradle isn’t half as important or pleasurable as getting entangled in it to begin with. Zglinski’s espresso-dark humor and icy formal precision may nod to a host of expert cinematic mind-gamers, from Roman Polanski to Lars von Trier, but “Animals” gleefully cultivates its very own kind of crazy.

Guy Lodge

Columbus

U.S.

There’s an old saying, often attributed to Martin Mull: “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” In many ways first-time writer-director Kogonada’s “Columbus” treats architecture like music, as its protagonists write, talk, bicker and dance about an extraordinary collection of modernist structures in the unassuming Midwest town of Columbus, Ind. The hypnotically paced drama carried by the serendipitous odd-couple pairing of John Cho and Haley Lu Richardson is lovely and tender, marking the mono-monikered Kogonada as an auteur to watch. The relationships between each of the characters are imbued with warmth and humanity, and the filmmaking — like the city’s structures designed by the likes of Eero Saarinen and I.M. Pei — are gorgeous. In this unconventional American film, Kogonada is less interested in romance than in the characters’ overlapping and divergent worldviews and dreams, based on culture, environment, and upbringing.

— Geoff Berkshire

The Distinguished Citizen

Argentina-Spain

Taciturn novelist Daniel Mantovani (Argentine star Oscar Martínez, who won the best actor prize at the Venice film festival for his performance) has an ambivalent relationship to fame: It has brought him the kind of wealth few authors can ever imagine, yet he’s concerned such success means he’s not the challenging writer he was at one time — an idea that’s amusingly conveyed in the opening scene, when he voices his fears while receiving the Nobel prize. Five years later, the Barcelona-based author remains too much in demand, politely declining most offers, until he gets a letter from his hometown of Salas, Argentina. It’s been four decades since he’s been back, despite using Salas as the setting for all his stories, and his return provides not only humor, but poignant insights into such themes as the burden of success, lost ideals, and whether artists truly give back to the communities they’ve creatively mined for decades.

— Jay Weissberg

God’s Own Country

U.K.

In case it didn’t court “Brokeback Mountain” comparisons directly enough with its tale of two young sheep farmers finding love in a hopeless place, “God’s Own Country” seals the deal with one winkingly quoted shot: a work shirt draped on a wire hanger, poignantly removed from its wearer. Twelve years on, Ang Lee’s film has proven enough of a cultural milestone to merit such affectionate homage; luckily, Francis Lee’s tender, muscular Yorkshire romance has enough of an individual voice to get away with it, depicting a tentative romance between coarse English farmboy Johnny (Josh O’Connor) and the Romanian migrant worker Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) who comes to work for the season. Intimacy doesn’t come naturally to a man who has been raised in a household where caring is expressed through work, but rather than over-exerting well-worn clichés about rural homophobia, the film reveals pockets of tolerance in unexpected places.

Guy Lodge

Heal the Living

France

A 17-year-old car crash victim lies brain-dead in a hospital, as doctors urgently pitch the virtues of organ donation to his distraught parents; over in another town, a middle-aged mother of two with a severely degenerative heart condition goes on the waiting list for a transplant. What sounds like fodder for a routinely gripping episode of “ER” is complicated with rare depths of personal and sensual detail in French director Katell Quillévéré’s sublimely compassionate, heart-crushing third feature. More polished but no less authentically humane than her previous works “Suzanne” and “Love Like Poison,” this spidering ensemble piece — adapted from Maylis de Kerangal’s internationally acclaimed 2014 novel — boasts beautifully pitched performances from the likes of Tahar Rahim and Emmanuelle Seigner. But it’s Quillévéré’s soaring visual and sonic acumen that suffuses this sad, potentially familiar hospital drama with true grace.

Guy Lodge

Hounds of Love

Australia

An outwardly normal suburban Perth couple who abduct, torture, and murder schoolgirls must face their funny games in this genre-bending powerhouse thriller from first-time director Ben Young. Brave audiences will be rewarded, if that’s the word, with a harrowing ride that morphs from discrete horror to probing character study and back again in a vivid yet admirably restrained 108 minutes. Far from Michael Haneke-level lurid, the film generates a coiled depravity and almost unbearable tension from the determined tracking shots of cinematographer Michael McDermott and Dan Luscombe’s trance-like, Tangerine Dream-inspired score. Clayton Jauncey’s production design is detailed and evocative, keyed around kitchen knives. For such a bold film to work, the performances must be all-in, and the three leads are committed to Young’s vision: Ashleigh Cummings is fearless as the would-be victim, while Emma Booth is terrifyingly skittish and Stephen Curry (who is, believe it or not, a popular Australian comedian) redolent of pure evil.

— Eddie Cockrell

Lost in Paris

Belgium-France

As anyone who has seen “L’Iceberg” and “The Fairy” knows, Abel and Gordon are quite possibly the two funniest clowns working in cinema today. No, really: Dominique Abel is a Belgian-born, burlesque-trained human pretzel and gifted physical comic on par with Chaplin or Keaton, while real-life Australian wife Fiona Gordon is a Tilda Swinton-tall redhead with Olive Oyl elbows and an Easter Island profile. With their latest film, they take audiences to Paris, where she plays a shy librarian desperate to find her missing Aunt Martha (the final role of “Amour” star Emmanuelle Riva), while he plays a harmless hobo who pops up practically everywhere she goes. Let the comic situations begin as this duo travels from one corner of the city to another (nearly getting incinerated at Père Lachaise cemetery one moment, dangling from the rafters of the Eiffel Tower the next), creating some of the funniest moments you’ll see on screen all year.

— Peter Debruge

Merry Christmas Mr. Mo

South Korea

A droll comic drama filmed in glorious widescreen black-and-white, “Merry Christmas Mr. Mo” follows a terminally ill barber (played by distinguished character actor Ki Joo-bong) whose dying wish is to make a short film directed by his distant son. What might have been a mawkish exercise in implausibility is instead fashioned into a consistently amusing and frequently touching tale of love, family and reconciliation with the past. Played to deadpan perfection by an appealing cast and directed with impressive assurance by first-time feature helmer Lim Dae-hyung, this lovely tale channels the spirit of early Jim Jarmusch films such as “Stranger Than Paradise” into its ultra low-key humor, dialogue non-sequiturs and loving monochrome photography of notionally unremarkable locations. Without ever succumbing to sentimentality, this offbeat crowd-pleaser will also move many viewers to tears by the time Mr. Mo’s task is completed.

Richard Kuipers

Strawberry Days

Sweden

Every summer, the Polish workers come to the Swedish countryside and pick strawberries. They tend the fields all day and keep to themselves at night, while the landowners hardly bother to learn their names. It’s a cycle as sure as the seasons themselves, though this year is different as one of the foreign fruit-pickers’ kids is old enough to take an interest in the host family’s daughter, and there among the strawberries a case of young love blossoms for the first time, complicating the entire arrangement, for the migrant workers are expected to make themselves invisible. In this sensitive, sun-kissed teenage romance, Swedish director Wiktor Ericsson invites us to recognize and identify with these faceless outsiders, asking for equality on the simplest terms. Though the setting may be specific, its appeal is universal, boasting a texture so rich, you can practically smell the ripe strawberries in the air.

— Peter Debruge

Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves

Canada

With its multiple aspect ratios, on-screen quotes, and cutaways to news broadcasts and documentary footage — not to mention a musical overture and interlude — this three-hour Quebecois political epic unfurls with a bravado as outsized as its title. Inspired by the student demonstrations that sparked the Maple Spring in 2012, co-directors Mathieu Denis and Simon Lavoie apply the language of radical cinema to a tense, mournful and profoundly ambivalent portrait of radicalism. Following four far-left activists as they commit acts of vandalism and terror to foment an uprising against the capitalist system, the film channels their passion while insistently questioning their methods and perspective. Politics aside, the dynamics at the film’s heart are practically universal among youth movements, resulting in a bold portrait that pulses with the vitality of four young people who, however flawed or foolhardy, sincerely want to change the world.

Scott Tobias

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- Variety Staff

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Well Go USA Lands North American Rights to ‘Once Upon a Time’

22 hours ago

Well Go USA Entertainment has acquired the North American distribution rights from Im Global for Zhao Xiaoding and Anthony Lamolinara’s fantasy romance “Once Upon a Time.”

The 3D film was produced by Zhang Yibai and Ali Pictures, and will open August 11 in North America in Mandarin with English and Chinese subtitles. A digital and home video release will follow later in the year.

The film is based on the best-selling novel “Three Lives Three Worlds, Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms,” which was also adapted into the television series “Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms.”

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“Once Upon a Time” stars Yang Yang, Yifei Liu, Yikuan Yan, Jin Luo, and Chun Li, and tells an epic thousand-year story about the forces that drive mortals and gods to love, revenge, and loyalty. Bai Qian, a goddess and monarch from the Heavenly Realms, visits the mortal world to achieve High Goddess status »


- Erin Nyren

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Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Showcases Stories of Social Turmoil

22 hours ago

The lineup at this year’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival reflects filmmakers grappling with new levels of complexity in social issues ranging from Europe’s refugee crisis to escalating tensions in autocratic states.

Aside from its leading role in showcasing the freshest work from Eastern and Central Europe, as seen not just in pics in the Official Selection but also in the East of the West section, the fest spotlights unconventional storytelling that has rolled in from India, Azerbaijan and Kosovo.

Europe’s moral, legal and political challenges in dealing with refugees from conflict states has fueled many directors’ visions in the past year, says Karel Och, Kviff’s artistic director.

Presenting “filmmakers reacting to social and political issues in an artistic way” is a primary goal of the fest, he adds. This is reflected in the films competing for the Crystal Globe grand prize.

Karlovy Vary’s goal “to present the most current outstanding examples of modern filmmaking [and] innovation in storytelling” was a factor in choosing films such as “More,” the complex directorial debut feature from Turkish actor Onur Saylak. The psychological study of a 14-year-old boy helping his father with his side business, smuggling refugees from the Mideast across the Aegean Sea, certainly speaks to our times, says Och.

“The Birds Are Singing in Kigali,” meanwhile, reps the new vision of past Karlovy Vary winners Joanna Kos-Krauze and Krzysztof Krauze (“My Nikifor”), which was completed by Krauze’s widow after his 2014 death. Its focus on a personal story of grief set in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide makes for a delicate mix of politics and drama.

The Georgian-German-French world premiere, “Khibula,” by past winner George Ovashvili (“Corn Island”), also takes on a region in turmoil, following the trek of the first democratically elected president of Georgia into the mountains as he flees a military coup.

Documentary “White World According to Daliborek,” top, and fictional feature “More” both deal with complex social issues.

Another main competition feature, “The Line,” the Slovak-Ukrainian entry by Peter Bebjak, is one of eight world premieres and a story that takes on the dilemma of surviving while making a living crossing international — and personal — boundaries.

“We have discovered some challenging and inventive films,” say Och, who travels the globe along with key members of the Karlovy Vary fest throughout the year, seeking undiscovered talent.

The fest’s closely watched East of the West section, headed by Lenka Tyrpakova, features compelling work from 12 filmmakers, including 10 world premieres.

The collection’s past pics have gone on to shape audience perceptions far beyond the region, Tyrpakova notes.

“There were quite a few really successful films festival-wise,” she says, citing Georgia’s “The House of Others” by Rusudan Glurjidze, which traveled to a host of fests and collected a dozen awards.

Last year’s East of the West opener, Hungarian black comedy “Kills on Wheels,” later won at the Thessaloniki Film Festival for both film and actors, while the Estonian debut “The Days That Confused” won a special mention at Karlovy Vary before moving on to several other fest scores.

Karlovy Vary’s docu section, this year screening Czech director-provocateur Vit Klusak’s portrait of a neo-Nazi, “The White World According to Daliborek,” also punches above its weight. Last year, the section served as a launchpad for Alma Har’el’s follow-up to “Bombay Beach,” the sketch of three deeply conflicted couples, “LoveTrue.”

This year, Klusak’s film is one of three world premieres, along with “Lots of Kids, a Monkey and a Castle” by Gustavo Salmeron and “Another News Story” by Orban Wallace. The British documentary, a debut for director Wallace, turns the camera lens on journalists sent to the Mediterranean to cover the humanitarian tragedy.

Another docu already gaining buzz, “Tarzan’s Testicles,” is a Romanian essay about “a decrepit institute in Abchazia.”

Actor, producer, musician and two-time Oscar-nominee Jeremy Renner (pictured above) is among the recipients of the fest’s Presidents Award. He will also introduce the crime thriller “Wind River,” directed by Taylor Sheridan, in which he stars.

Films such as these ensure that Karlovy Vary is tuned to the pulse of both politics and art, says Och.

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- Will Tizard

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Karlovy Vary Festival Launches Crafts Track for Global Professionals

22 hours ago

Now in its 71st year, the Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival continues to cast a wider net. The latest edition will debut another track — Artisans in Focus — targeting the crafts of filmmaking.

Hosted by Variety, Artisans in Focus will launch with a panel discussion at 2:30 p.m. July 2, moderated by Peter Caranicas, Variety’s managing editor, features. At the session, four renowned department heads whose work has had a major impact on the art of filmmaking will discuss their collaborations with producers, directors, actors – and with each other.

“While legendary film stars and great auteurs of global cinema are regularly celebrated, less heralded are the geniuses behind the camera,” says Variety VP and executive editor Steven Gaydos. “In a historic new event at this year’s Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival, Artisans in Focus will spotlight the brilliant individuals who create the images and sounds that form the magic of movies.”

The session will also survey the future of filmmaking as the digital revolution, including Vr, transforms the industry.

The Participants Are:

Annell Brodeur, a costume designer, known for her work on “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” (2013), “Pete’s Dragon” (2016) and “6 Years” (2015). She’s now working on David Lowery’s “Old Man and the Gun,” starring Elisabeth Moss and Casey Affleck.

Ondrej Nekvasil, a Czech production designer who worked on “The Illusionist” (2006), “Snowpiercer” (2013) and “Underworld: Blood Wars” (2016); he has also designed for several TV series, including “Knightfall.”

Monika Willi, a film editor from Austria, best known for her collaborations with director Michael Haneke; she cut “Amour” (2012), “The White Ribbon” (2009) and “The Piano Teacher” (2001). Her next work is Wolfgang Fischer’s “Styx.”

Wojciech Staron, a Polish cinematographer who lensed “Saviour Square” (2006), “Mur” (2015), “Ausma” (2015), “Refugiado” (2014) and “The Prize” (2011); his next film is Diego Lerman’s “Una especie de familia.”

Artisans in Focus is produced in partnership with Barrandov Studio and Czech Anglo Prods.

Based in Prague, Barrandov Studio is the largest film and TV studio in the Czech Republic and one of the largest in Europe. Czech Anglo Productions, also in Prague, is a full service film production and co-production company.

Pictured above: “Pete’s Dragon,” on which costume designer Annelle Brodeur worked as a costume assistant.

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- Variety Staff

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Gabourey Sidibe on How She Found Her Voice as a Director

23 hours ago

Gabourey Sidibe, the Oscar-nominated star of “Precious,” didn’t think she wanted to direct. So when Refinery29 approached her about making a short film, as part of an initiative to encourage young women filmmakers, she tried to turn them down.

“I was like, ‘No thank you,'” Sidibe said at an interview at the Variety Studio in Cannes Lions this week. “I think there’s a woman thing. I didn’t think I was smart enough or good enough or that my voice was thorough enough to direct something. I’d never thought about it until I got that opportunity.”

She was eventually convinced by a producer friend to try. Her short film, “The Tale of Four,” based on a Nina Simone song, debuts at the Nantucket Film Festival this weekend. Sidibe spoke to Variety about making it, what she’s learned about herself, and why she wants to play Batman in a comic-book movie.

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How did you like directing?

It turns out my voice is good enough and important enough and is also missing, which is why this program is important. I didn’t believe in my voice, because I didn’t really have space for it. And now I’m just a better person. It’s not about being a better artist or better filmmaker. I realized my own completeness, my own wholeness, through Refinery.

Will you direct again?

I’ll direct the rest of this [interview]. I’ll direct anything. I’m going to be out in the street directing traffic soon. All direction is, is opinion. The freedom in being able to choose is wonderful. I’m addicted now. I want to direct more short films. I want to direct television. The greatest thing is now that I do believe in my own voice, I can do anything; I can make anything. I’m going to stretch my own imagination farther than I ever thought it could. So yeah, I’ll be directing more for sure.

The statistics are still low for female directors. What barriers do women face to becoming a director?

Doubt. I think it’s just people don’t believe, “Oh, well she can’t do it, let’s go to the closest mediocre man.” That doubt isn’t always coming from other people. My doubt came from inside me. That’s been my biggest hurdle. I see it in a lot of other females no matter what they are doing in life. Your own self-doubt stops you from reaching your potential.

The studio system doesn’t feature very many diverse voices. Have you been frustrated by the kinds of movies Hollywood is making?

Absolutely. It’s kind of like we only make these kinds of things because that’s what the audience is. It cuts off the rest of the world. We’re not telling the story because nobody needs it. No, no, I’m here. I’m the audience. Unfortunately, in today’s society, you don’t know you exist unless you see yourself in media. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because it will push the artist who is a different color or gender, if you don’t see yourself, you have to figure out a way to make yourself be seen. We can do that in a lot of spaces from YouTube to Instagram. That proves the audience is there. The studios don’t believe the audience is there. So we have to keep making independent films in a bigger, more obvious way so they see we do exist, we do count and we will spend money.

Would you like to be in a superhero movie?

I would. Yeah. Here’s the thing: I’m a bada– and so I really love whenever I have to do action scenes. When I was in “American Horror Story,” there was a scene where I was a human voodoo doll, where I get shot in the stomach and I crawl on the ground and I’m bleeding and there’s a trail of blood behind me and I grab a gun and I put the gun in my mouth. I felt so cool. I feel cool describing the story now and this is from four years ago.

Who would you want to play?

I really like Amanda Waller [from the “Suicide Squad” comics] who is a lawyer and can also stretch herself. That’s so dope. God, also I want to fly so why can’t I play Superman? Also, Batman! Here’s the thing about Batman. Batman doesn’t have any superpowers. He’s not an alien, he’s a straight up human who happens to be rich. He’s like white privilege man. He’s got all these tools and stuff and he has a super dark sense of being — he’s such a creep. I feel like I’m Batman, because I’m such a creep.

You should tell Ben Affleck you’re taking over.

He can sit down. Take a break, Ben.

There’s been a recent conversation about disparity of opportunities for women in the film industry and what needs to change.

My story is quite different. It’s been quite amazing to be a young woman in Hollywood. The strange thing about that conversation is it’s been going on for a while, but it feels new and faddish. Women have been around just as long as men have been around. It’s half our population. I don’t understand why we’ve been so discounted for so long. Or who are the people in charge of making sure their foot is on our neck? But those days are over with directors like Ava DuVernay and Patty Jenkins, who is dope. I think we are getting louder and stronger. The real difference is the money. “Wonder Woman” is making a ton of money, and that’s the way Hollywood sees anything of worth. I feel like that’s changing, and that’s going to turn the industry on its ear: if we can show up and show that we are worth the money. Ava DuVernay is the [first female African-American] director of a $100 million dollar film with “A Wrinkle in Time.” But point out a guy that doesn’t have that much money [for a budget]. I was in a Brett Ratner movie for $100-plus million, “Tower Heist.” I was like, “What is this!?” We were wasting money all the time. But every female director I have ever worked with always comes under budget and under time. You almost have to be sleeker, faster, and smarter to prove you’re worth half of what they are getting.

It also feels like Trump has made it more important for women to tell their stories.

Absolutely. You have to be able to see yourself in order to know that you exist. Being more visible and more strong as a female is part of the resistance, and we have to resist in Trump’s America.

How did working with Lee Daniels in “Precious” change your life?

In every single way. I was a broke college student who worked in an office before meeting Lee. Lee was the first person who was part of Hollywood who looked at me and saw me in my entire body and my skin color and my bigness and my smallness and my insecurities and my inexperience and saw beauty. He’s the first person who ever said yes to me. Every yes I’ve ever gotten for the rest of my career comes from Lee’s first yes. And so I’m very grateful to him, and I have to give him my kidneys when he needs it. He’s family. I still work for him because he’s the creator of “Empire.” He’s always going to be ever present in my life.

Why do you think he said yes to you?

He used to do a lot of drugs. I’m kidding. I think that there is beauty in what we don’t let be beautiful. I think Lee sees the dirt that the flower grows from. He sees the potential is the art. I was just some rough-edged young girl from Brooklyn and Harlem. I was a phone sex operator; it was a whole thing, I was grimy. He saw my potential, he said yes and he said, “I’ll work until you see your potential.” I remember he was saying, “No, you have to be a star now.” He would say watch Halle Berry in interviews. Look, I’ll never be Halle Berry, but he saw what I could be and he saw what I eventually saw that I am.

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- Ramin Setoodeh

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Michael Bloomberg’s Coal Documentary Examines Complex National Issue

23 hours ago

Michael Bloomberg hasn’t been mayor of New York City for three and a half years, but the connections he and his team made at City Hall are still coming into play — especially in the release of “From the Ashes,” the environmental documentary that is the first feature film to be produced by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The company partnered on Michael Bonfiglio’s film with Radical Media, the production company that worked with the Bloomberg administration on projects including the Made in NY program. “From the Ashes” premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, which the mayor’s office was instrumental in founding. The documentary, which airs on National Geographic June 25, is being promoted with screenings in partnership with an international network of city mayors, as well as with short-form content for social media.

“What we’re trying to do is leverage and think creatively about the ways that we can tap into this vast network of Bloomberg’s reach,” said Katherine Oliver, the Bloomberg Associates exec who executive produced the documentary. At City Hall, she served as the commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, widely credited for the post-9/11 boom in the city’s entertainment industry.

When Bloomberg and Radical embarked on “From the Ashes” more than two years ago, no one much talked about the coal industry and its effects on the environment. Since the presidential election, it’s top of mind, and the filmmakers found themselves with a feature that had taken on a new urgency. The doc’s approach is to use the data-driven focus of the Bloomberg brand to bolster an evenhanded, human story that looks at a complicated issue from all sides — and from both sides of the aisle. “We wanted to go after a really broad audience who may not all agree with us,” Bonfiglio noted.

No other feature plans are brewing for Bloomberg, but the organization will continue to focus on using its wide net of media and tech connections to get people engaged with the causes it cares about.

Radical Media chairman and CEO Jon Kamen thinks socially minded content creators should take note. “I always said one of the greatest gifts Bloomberg [Philanthropies] could give the philanthropic world was a better set of tools to talk about the issues that they care about,” he said.

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- Gordon Cox

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‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ Blasts Off With $41 Million Opening Day in China

23 hours ago

Transformers: The Last Knight” enjoyed a powerful $41 million opening day on Friday in China. Including previews, the Michael Bay-directed sci-fi fantasy should finish its first full screening day with a total of $47 million.

Its share of the market on Friday was 89%, according to local data service China Box Office.

That performance stands in sharp contrast to the movie’s soft debut in North America, where it opened on Wednesday and has a two-day cumulative of $23 million. In North America, the picture is on course for a weak $60 million five-day opening.

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Distribution in China is by state-owned enterprises China Film Corp. and Huaxia Distribution. The film is partially financed by China’s Huahua Media, which also provides distribution support.

The Friday score (excluding the previews) is the fourth-largest opening day of all time in China. That puts it behind only the debuts of “The Fate of the Furious,” “Journey to the West,” and “Furious 7,” according to Box Office of China, part of ticketing service, Weying. The figure would also be the eighth best one day score in China, with three of the top daily scores belonging to “Furious 8.”

Transformers: Age of Extinction” had a $92 million opening weekend in China. It finished its run with $320 million.

Data service and consultancy Ent Group forecasted that “Transformers: The Last Knight” will gross $290 million in China.

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- Patrick Frater

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Film Review: ‘Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press’

23 hours ago

In America, the cutting-edge meaning of the First Amendment — that it’s about protecting the speech you don’t like — often gets tested by the outer limits of sleaze. Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler, became a First Amendment poster boy because the magazine he was selling was so offensively shabby and low-minded. (That’s what made it a more defining stress test for free-speech rights than, say, Playboy.) In our era, the rough equivalent of Jerry Falwell’s 1984 defamation suit against Hustler, which ultimately went to the Supreme Court (Falwell lost, 8-0), may be Hulk Hogan’s invasion-of-privacy suit against Gawker. It was about a celebrity sex tape, and things don’t get much sleazier than that. But the stark difference in outcome, as captured by Brian Knappenberger’s riveting and resonant documentary “Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press,” illustrates how our priorities as a culture are shifting, and not for the better. »


- Owen Gleiberman

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Box Office: ‘Transformers 5’ Stumbles With $8.1 Million Thursday

23 June 2017 7:50 AM, PDT

Transformers: The Last Knight” is looking very creaky as it lumbers towards its opening weekend.

The fifth film in the robots series picked up $8.1 million on Thursday, bringing its domestic gross to $23.7 million after two days of release. At this pace, “Transformers: The Last Knight” will just top $60 million in the the first five days of its release. That’s a dramatic slide from the $100 million that the most recent installment, “Transformers: Age of Extinction” racked up over its first three days of release when it hit theaters in 2014.

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It’s also a sign that the long-running franchise, which kicked off a decade ago, may be showing its age. It joins the likes of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” and “Alien: Covenant” in the ranks of film series that are running out of steam this summer.

Like the previous films, this »


- Brent Lang

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