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“This is sure to be remembered in his long list of iconic character roles, including Tom Hagen in The Godfather films, Gus McCrae in Lonesome Dove, Mac Sledge in Tender Mercies, Lt. Colonel Bill Kilgore in Apocalypse Now, The Apostle and so many others.”
“By creating the illusion that the film was shot in one take and directing award-worthy performances by Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone and a star-studded cast, Iñárritu has created a brilliant and original dark comedy in Birdman,” said Matzner »
- email@example.com (Jeremy Kay)
Madrid – Brazilian film director David Schurmann is shooting “Little Secret,” inspired by the life of his adopted sister Kat Schurmann, written by Marcos Bernstein, scribe of Walter Salles’ Oscar-nominated “Central Station,” and one of the most ambitious and unusual fiction films to have moved this year into production in Brazil.
Brazilians Julia Lemmertz (“My Name Ain’t Johnny,” “From Beginning To End”), Marcello Antony (“As Brasileiras”) and Maria Flor (“Xingu”) co-star with Erroll Shand (“The Z-Nail Gang”) and Fionnula Flanagan (“Yes,” “Four Brothers”).
Produced by Joao Roni at Brazil’s Ocean Films, in a sign of its production ambitions, “Little Secret” has signed up German art director Brigitte Broch, a production designer on “Amores perros,” “21 Grams,” “Babel” and “Moulin Rouge!” – for which she won an Academy Award.
Peru’s Inti Briones, a Variety Cinematographer to Watch who lensed Sundance World Cinema Grand Jury Prize winner “To Kill a Man” and won an Intl. »
- John Hopewell
Editor's Note: For the next ten days or so as awards season heats up, we'll be featuring individual Team Experience Fyc's for various longshots in the Oscar race. We'll never repeat a film or a category so we hope you enjoy the variety of picks. And if you're lucky enough to be an AMPAS, HFPA, SAG, Critics Group voter, take note! Here's Manuel to kick things off.
Rodrigo Prieto is one of the best cinematographers around. From the gritty urban landscapes of Amores Perros and the color-coded visual triptych that is Babel to the painterly tableaus of Frida and the kinetic Iranian vistas of Argo, Prieto has been slowly amassing quite the filmography, working with the likes of Alejandro González Iñarritú, Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese, Pedro Almodóvar, Oliver Stone, and Ang Lee. It was the first collaboration with that two-time Academy Award winning director that netted Prieto his first Oscar »
- Manuel Betancourt
Variety has chosen its 10 Directors to Watch for 2015, selecting cinematic storytellers who hail from corners as far removed as Australia and Argentina, representing a diverse mix of genres and visions, but all of whom are expected to go on to great things in Hollywood and abroad.
Study the group and you’ll find a total of 12 names listed, as two of the entries are actually tandem talents: brother-sister pair Shlomi and Ronit Elkabetz, who helmed Israel’s official foreign-language Oscar submission, and indie duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, friends who met while interning for Ridley Scott’s commercial company.
The 10 Directors to Watch are:
Sean Baker (“Tangerine”) Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead (“Spring”) Ava DuVernay (“Selma”) Shlomi Elkabetz & Ronit Elkabetz (“Gett, the Trial of Viviane Amsalem”) Jeremy Garelick (“The Wedding Ringer”) Dan Gilroy (“Nightcrawler”) Marielle Heller (“Diary of a Teenage Girl”) Ruben Ostlund (“Force Majeure”) Damian Szifron (“Wild Tales”) Leigh Whannell »
- Variety Staff
Alejandro González Iñárritu is a happy man. Since "Birdman" earned raves on the festival circuit, it's doing well at the box office, too. He laughed as he shot the film for the first time in his life, he says, describing the process as "a joy. Michael Keaton got naked spiritually and physically." When the filmmaker turned 50, his examination of his life and psyche led him to collaborate with a team of writers on this sharp show business comedy that skewers the current Hollywood obsession with superheroes as it reveals the psychological pitfalls of the creative process. This is something Iñárritu knows something about, as he followed up his breakout "Amores Perros" with a series of tough English-language dramas ("Babel," "21 Grams") as well as Spanish "Biutiful," which garnered an Oscar nomination for Javier Bardem. Now he's already prepping his next movie set to start »
- Anne Thompson
A kind of "Amores Perros" for the city of Lima, director Eduardo Mendoza de Echave's "The Gospel of the Flesh" is Peru's submission for the Foreign Language Film Oscar. Here's the synopsis: Undercover cop Gamarra’s desperate attempts to save his wife from a terminal illness gets him into trouble; bus driver Felix wants to be accepted into a religious sect after his involvement in a tragic traffic accident; and imperiled soccer club leader Narciso tries to secure his younger brother’s release from prison. The film has yet to be distributed in the Us but is currently screening for the Academy. Foreign language Oscar voters are faced with a record-setting 83 titles this year. Through December 15, volunteer members from all branches' highest vote-getters will fill six slots after which an executive committee hand-picked by Mark Johnson will pick three, creating a Foreign Language shortlist of nine films total before »
- Ryan Lattanzio
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – Appropriately for a festival that in part sets out to showcase new Mexican talent to the U.S. and Canada, Alonso Ruizpalacios’ feature debut “Güeros” – sold by Mundial, a joint venture of Im Global and Canana – won the top award at the 3rd Los Cabos Festival.
Presented by Diego Luna, the award was made at the Saturday’s closing gala ceremony where “Captive” star Rosario Dawson presented a tribute to Canadian auteur Atom Egoyan, calling him “evisceratingly smart.”
Coming hard on the heels of a New Auteurs Audience Award at the AFI Fest Thursday, and following Berlin best first feature and San Sebastian’s Horizontes Latinos nods, »
- John Hopewell and Pat Saperstein
Los Cabos – In one of the biggest strategic developments of the year in Mexico, Monica Lozano, producer of milestone Mexican films – Eugenio Derbez’s “Instructions Not Included,” Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu’s “Amores Perros” – is launching Alebrije Distribution, a new pan-American distrib operation.
Based out of Mexico City, Alebrije Distribution will acquire rights to movies for not only Latin America, an increasingly frequent practice among ambitious Latin American players, but also North America. It will direct distribute in Mexico.
Taking rights to all the Americas, Alebrije will roll off the potential allies, experience and market knowledge that Lozano has accumulated over the years, she said at this week’s Los Cabos Festival in Mexico.
That knowledge of the North American market was seen in the $44.5 million U.S. gross for “Instructions,” distribbed by Pantelion Films, a movie that Derbez and Lozano purposefully designed as a crossover title for Latin and North America. »
- John Hopewell
In his memoir, "Then They Came for me," journalist Maziar Bahari chronicles an exceptionally difficult period in his life. The book recounts his imprisonment and torture in Iran following the Green Revolution and has now been turned into the movie "Rosewater" directed by Jon Stewart. Gael Garcia Bernal ("Y tu Mamá También," "Amores Perros") plays Bahari in Stewart's film. It is a role which has Bernal spend a significant portion of the film playing a character in jail, one who mainly gets to interact with an interrogator. Bahari does not even know the name of this man who tortures him for an extended period. Playing the role of Bahari in prison cannot have been an easy task, but Bernal is quite clear about the fact that the Maziar Bahari he is playing is not the Maziar Bahari who wrote the book. There are simply (and by necessity) too many intermediaries »
- Josh Lasser
“No animals were harmed during the making of this film” is a post-movie credit that everyone is familiar with. It puts animal lovers at ease to know that no creatures suffered unnecessarily for the sake of a movie.
Of course, not everyone is as sympathetic. Some might argue that for the sake of authenticity, animal distress may be necessary. But this is never the case. Just take a look at Amores Perros. Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu’s Mexican masterpiece contained some of the most brutal sequences of animal violence ever caught on camera, with rabid dogs appearing to tear one another limb from limb in stunningly realistic fashion.
This naturally invited scrutiny from censorship boards and animal rights campaigners, but the film eventually passed uncut in the UK. Iñárritu went out of his way to ensure the safety of the animals, hiring expert trainers, placing muzzles »
- Gaz Lloyd
Amir here, reporting to box office duty. It was a dead weekend at the multiplex, deader than the dead in Ouija, deader than zombies. Though it was not, strictly speaking, the worst weekend of the year – that honor belongs to the weekend of September 5th, when Guardians of the Galaxy, in its sixth week, topped the chart and the biggest new release was The Identical, a musical with Ray Liotta and Ashley Judd!!! – it was still a terrible weekend.
01 Nightcrawler $10.9 New
02 Ouija $10.9 (cum. $34.9)
03 Fury $9.1 (cum. $60.4) Michael's Review
04 Gone Girl $8.8 (cum. $136.6) Jason's Review
05 The Book Of Life $8.3 (cum. $40.5) Interview
06 John Wick $8 (cum. $27.5) Michael's Review
07 St. Vincent $7.7 (cum. $19.5) Michael's Review
08 Alexander And The Terrible... $6.4 (cum. $53.6)
09 The Judge $3.4 (cum. $39.5)
10 Dracula Untold $2.9 (cum. $52.8)
11 The Best Of Me $2.7 (cum. $21.9)
12 Birdman $2.5 (cum. $5) Nathaniel's Review
- Amir S.
It’s worth seeing Alejandro G. Iñárritu's "Birdman" a second time. For me, the first viewing was about spotting cuts and marveling at the elaborate camera work. The second time I was caught up in the performances. When the filmmaker turned 50, his examination of his life and psyche led him to collaborate with a team of writers on this sharp show business comedy that skewers the current Hollywood obsession with superheroes as it reveals the psychological pitfalls of the creative process. This is something G. Iñárritu knows something about, as he followed up his breakout "Amores Perros" with a series of tough English-language dramas ("Babel," "21 Grams") as well as Spanish "Biutiful," which garnered an Oscar nomination for Javier Bardem. This movie was not easy to realize, given the logistical and aesthetic risk of shooting in a radical new way via a series of long single takes--giving the illusion »
- Anne Thompson
“Human Capital” is a term used to assign a monetary value to an employee based on their knowledge, habits, personality, and creative and physical qualities. According to an insurance company, our lives have value, or in some cases very little.
Upon speaking with Paolo Virzi, the Italian director of his 12th and newest film Human Capital, he revealed he had calculated his own. Though he felt his value was awfully low given his age and his health, he’d agree that the real value of a human life is determined by the actions and behavior of humans that can only be considered priceless.
Human Capital is a three-part story surrounding a hit-and-run car accident as viewed by three different characters. It’s less Rashomon, more Amores Perros, capturing the dark edges, social commentary and young love embedded deep within the story. Following openings abroad, an American premiere in »
- Brian Welk
Never mind the other specialty films this weekend. It’s really all about Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance) and its high-flying debut, averaging more than $100,000 per theater in its opening weekend.
The Venice/Telluride feature directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu and starring Michael Keaton had one of the best bows of the year, exceeded only by another of distributor Fox Searchlight’s specialty projects, last spring’s The Grand Budapest Hotel (that one opened in four theaters with nearly $203K averages).
But there was plenty of success this weekend to go around. Roadside opened Sundance fave Dear White People with gusto. Gkids’ The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya, Rocky Mountain’s Got The Father and Tribeca’s Listen Up Philip also had solid to decent bows in limited release. And TWC’s St. Vincent and Spc’s Whiplash held strong in their second frame.
Birdman nested atop the »
- Brian Brooks
With London and Chicago Fests ongoing, a few reports from each to cover more Oscar Submissions for Best Foreign Language Film. Here's our London friend David on Hungary's Oscar submission.
Let me start off, if you'll forgive me, by citing that oldest and meanest of acting adages: the one about never working with children or animals. That seems to be in the heads of every adult we see on-screen in White God, for every single one of them, without exception, treats an animal or a child badly in one way or another. Fortunately for the audience, the film is on their side. Violently so; be mean to a dog in White God and you'll be lucky if you don't get your bloody throat ripped out.
After a prelude in which Lili (Zsófia Psotta) is pursued through a deserted city by a hoard of dogs in what can only be described »
The Digital Era: Real-time Films From 2000 To Today
40 years before, in 1960, lighter cameras enabled a cinéma vérité-flavored revolution in street realism. By 2000, new digital cameras suggested a whole new set of promises, including telling stories that would have been unimaginable within minimum budgets for features even ten years before. In 2000, film purists warned that digital still didn’t look as good as celluloid, but that didn’t stop at least three innovative filmmakers from boldly going where no filmmaker had gone before. Mike Figgis’ Timecode (2000) was the first star-supported (Salma Hayek, Stellan Skarsgard, Holly Hunter, among many others) single-shot project since Rope, underlining that earlier film’s timelessness. If Run Lola Run could do one story three times, then Timecode would do three or four stories one time: the movie is four separate ninety-minute shots shown all at the same time, each in one quadrant of the screen. Where do you look? »
- Daniel Smith-Rowsey
The layers blurring reality and fantasy run deep with Alejandro González Iñárritu’s new film, Birdman, both within the story and in real life. Iñárritu had become known for his trilogy of everything-is-connected mope-fests (Amores Perros, 21 Grams, and Babel), and then followed those up with a widely panned film called Biutiful that straightened out the narrative intricacies but still kept all the misery porn. So what to do next? Well, I wouldn’t call it a comeback, just as Birdman’s main character, a struggling actor named Riggan Thomson (played by Michael Keaton) who played an iconic superhero character twenty-five years ago and who is struggling to put on a Broadway adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story, wouldn’t call it a comeback either. Iñárritu’s wild meta-commentary comedy Birdman instead eschews categorization and proudly defines itself as an unconventional tour de force.
Taking place completely in and around the St. »
- Sean Hutchinson
Perched at the top of this week’s flock of specialty film debuts is Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance), a possible Oscar contender starring Michael Keaton. Though it’s a limited release, Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s complex film about a fading action-hero trying to reclaim his mojo on Broadway nevertheless combines elements of a superhero franchise that could tap fans well beyond the art house.
It’s part of yet another big flock of specialty film debuts coming this weekend, including the controversy-minded Sundance award-winner Dear White People, William H. Macy‘s directorial debut Rudderless, Kristen Stewart‘s Camp X-Ray, Jason Schwartzman‘s Listen Up Philip, The Golden Era, Summer Of Blood, and one great revival, Alain Resnais’ 1959 landmark Hiroshima Mon Amour.
To get a sense of Fox Searchlight’s ambitions for Birdman, the film closed the New York Film Festival last weekend to strong reviews, but then »
- David Bloom
Starting with "Amores Perros," it has been obvious that Alejandro González Iñárritu is fascinated by the darkest corners of the human heart. It is easy to imagine that is the sum total of his gift as an artist is inflicting misery on these people he creates, but that's a misreading of his work. Yes, "21 Grams" and "Babel" and "Biutiful" are movies in which misery is as omnipresent as oxygen, but there is also proof that he believes in redemption and mercy and moments of grace, or at least the struggle towards those things. He has never found the balance between the light and the dark with quite the same skill as he does in his new film "Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)," and the result is one of the most thrilling pieces of film craft that I've seen so far this year. Iñárritu worked with co-writers Nicolas Giacobone, »
- Drew McWeeny
Exclusive: When Birdman director Alejandro González Iñárritu stumbles into a suite in the Park Hyatt with his co-writers Alexander Dinelaris Jr, Nicolas Giacobone and Armando Bo, each feels the influence of last night’s party after their film closed the New York Film Festival. A little hung over and more than a little giddy at the rousing response given their frenzied film that was backed by New Regency and will be released Friday by Fox Searchlight, they swap stories of a wild night that included card tricks by street magician David Blaine that left them dumbstruck. Mostly, they are relieved to have pulled off a major parlor trick with Birdman, a satire that in equal measure skewers Hollywood’s superhero fixation, artistic insecurity, and even holier-than-thou critics who kill Broadway shows.
They did it with a movie that plays more like Black Swan than any recent Oscar buzzworthy black comedy to come along since. »
- Mike Fleming Jr
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