9 items from 2014
Laura Dern spent this year on the big screen battling cancer — in “The Fault in Our Stars,” her teenage daughter suffers from a terminal diagnosis, and in “Wild,” she’s the sick mom of hiker-memoirist Cheryl Strayed. Dern spoke to Variety at the Hamptons Film Festival over the weekend about both roles.
We all did, which was really good news for my ego. We’re six years apart. Don’t check IMDb, because they are wrong about my age, and I think they are probably wrong about hers too. It’s so insane that everybody goes by IMDb.
By how many years are they off?
Only by two, but it means a lot. They have that I’m 47. I’m going to be 46, people. I’m really pissed. We’ve got to change that. But anyway, »
- Ramin Setoodeh
The contradiction in film criticism certainly does not go unnoticed. Sure, there are countless films that are praised and applauded for its excellence in quality and creativity. Unfortunately, the overlooked cinema fare that deserves just as much attention (more so than some of the recognized critically-acclaimed selections on an impressive selection of critics’ and moviegoers’ radars) get lost in the proverbial shuffle. It is simply the professional hazard of the movie industry because not every well-received and standout gem will get its rightful due come major awards season in Hollywood.
Just how many times have we as movie reviewers and/or movie fans become indignant when we realized that the special piece of entertainment we personally and critically cherished came up short and empty in expectations? Again, every smart kid in the classroom cannot get a gold star as we remain a competitive society in the world of celluloid superiority. »
- Frank Ochieng
Ja from Mnpp here, with that there the first teaser for Mockingjay, the third Hunger Games film and the first half of the two-part finale. (What convolutions our sentences must take in this new world of franchise logic.) If you ask me Donald Sutherland would already have a couple of golden boys (I mean even some nominations, at least!) on his mantle, I love him that much, so highlighting his sparkling sneering performance as President Snow in this video seems wise to me, and makes my extremities tingle. And I love Josh Hutcherson playing the role of "Kept Boy" up in there -- because my wiring is strange I immediately thought of Burt Reynolds in Citizen Ruth, of all things, with that young boy he always had beside him. Now that would take the Hunger Games to a whole new level of complications, eh? Katniss storms the Capitol and finds »
It’s always fun to see the evolution of a filmmaker’s voice and thanks to the power of the internet we can peer even further back through a director’s body of work. For example, an odd short film from Alexander Payne has been unearthed, an effort that was completed over a decade before the “Nebraska” director would get a shot at his feature-length film. Lasting over fifteen minutes and made during Payne’s studies at the UCLA Film School, the short film “Carmen” lacks any dialogue and relies primarily on music and some choice sound effects. The short’s definitely a little broader and structurally it's stranger than something like “Sideways,” but it provides some context for the Preston Sturgess-leaning “Citizen Ruth” with its screwball energy. Watch the short below. [Thompson On Hollywood via Cinephilia & Beyond] »
- Cain Rodriguez
From "Citizen Ruth" and "Election" to "About Schmidt," "The Descendents" and "Nebraska," two-time Oscar winner and auteur Alexander Payne has gone from indie to mainstream and back again. Get a sense of his indie roots by watching his 1985 student short "Carmen," a silent film he made at the UCLA Film School. (Hat tip: Screencraft.) Deeply rooted in Americana, Payne's films toe the line between comedy and tragedy and while "Carmen" veers mostly on the side of comedy, there is some tragedy in the odd protagonist, much like the sad sacks in "Schmidt," "Sideways" and "Nebraska." Man, has he come a long way. »
- Ryan Lattanzio
Ever since the Cannes International Film Festival knocked down a few walls between itself and the West in 2001 with festival director Thierry Frémaux coming on board to liven up the Croisette with more of a Hollywood acceptance, the connection between the annual May event and the awards season has become more pronounced. Films like Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge!," Roman Polanski's "The Pianist," Clint Eastwood's "Mystic River," Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom," Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "Babel" and David Cronenberg's "A History of Violence" all started their Oscar trajectories in the south of France, while others like Paul Greengrass' "United 93," Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" and "Midnight in Paris" and Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" got high profile beginnings out of Competition. A coveted Palme d'Or win sometimes leads to a significant boost in the Oscar season, even if no recipient of the festival's »
- Kristopher Tapley
The messed-up machinations of bored, oversexed stepsiblings Kathryn Merteuil and Sebastian Valmont aren’t quite as shocking in 2014 as they were when Cruel Intentions was released on March 5, 1999. (Blame Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and a zillion other glitzy/scandalous imitators.)
That said, Cruel Intentions is still an enormously entertaining teen movie, even 15 years (gulp) after its initial release — thanks to an uncommonly sharp script, a killer soundtrack, and, most importantly, an impeccable cast, which featured future Oscar winners and future Sharknado stars alike. Well, one of each, but you get the picture. Whoever headed up this franchise had a »
- Hillary Busis
“I was a young striving cinematographer at the time,” recalls Phedon Papamichael (3:10 to Yuma) who first met filmmaker Alexander Payne (About Schmidt) at UCLA Film School. “I had a job interview with him for his UCLA graduate film which I did not get. I ended up shooting a different UCLA graduate film with Alexander being the boom operator. We knew each other socially and lived in the same part of Los Angeles, the Silver Lake Area. I’d be aware of what he was doing and he’d be aware of what I was doing. I was happy when I saw Alexander made his first film Citizen Ruth  and liked it. We often talked about films. It wasn’t until Sideways  when he called out of the blue and asked me if »
• Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) is reportedly interested in portraying Spanish explorer Hernando Cortés in Montezuma, a nearly 50-year old Dalton Trumbo (Spartacus) script that Oscar-winner Steve Zaillian (Schindler’s List) is updating. Steven Spielberg may have his sights on directing the project for DreamWorks, who currently owns the rights. Trumbo had apparently written the original script (one draft was 205 pages long!) for Kirk Douglas and director Martin Ritt. [Deadline]
- Lindsey Bahr
9 items from 2014
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