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5 items from 2015

McFarland, USA – The Review

19 February 2015 8:44 PM, PST | | See recent news »

There was a time no too long away that the Disney company was only known for animation. But after enormous success in that arena, Uncle Walt decided he needed to branch out into live action. After dipping his toe in the water with “true-life” nature shorts, he jumped all in with several features produced and filmed in Europe. Then he went all out with 1954’s smash 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. Now, as with his animated features, these films usually played to family audiences. Walt  had something of a studio staple of stars with the likes of Fred MacMurray, Hayley Mills, and Kurt Russell , He even had the top grossing film of 1968, The Love Bug. Really. After Walt passed on, the new studio heads in the 1980’s decided to branch out into more adult subject matter for new features. But these would not go out under the Disney name and so »

- Jim Batts

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Exclusive: 8 Arty New Posters For Disney's 'McFarland, USA' Starring Kevin Costner

13 February 2015 9:00 AM, PST | The Playlist | See recent The Playlist news »

Over the years, the Disney based-on-a-true-story sports movie has become its own genre, ranging from the Kurt Russell-led hockey movie "Miracle" to last year's underseen baseball pic "Million Dollar Arm." The latest Disney sports movie is "McFarland, USA," which chronicles coach Jim White (played, winningly, by Kevin Costner) who in 1987 took an inexperienced group of Latino kids and turned them into an all-star cross country team. We're proud to debut a new set of arty posters for the film, designed by Los Angeles artist Fernando Reza that perfectly captures the spirit and culture of the movie. The posters (seen below) are done in a striking style that communicates the essential themes and ideas behind the movie (things like "Family" and "Optimism") while also being really, really beautiful. This is a movie that is all about determination, hard work and defying all the odds, and these posters convey that handily. »

- Drew Taylor

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Tsr Exclusive: ‘Red Army’ Interview with Director Gabe Polsky

6 February 2015 1:35 PM, PST | The Scorecard Review | See recent Scorecard Review news »

Americans know very well that we beat the Soviet Union hockey team in the 1980 Olympics. It is a celebrated, symbolic victory that we have nicknamed the “Miracle on Ice,” which inspired the 2004 film Miracle with Kurt Russell. What Americans may not know is Russia’s side, which boasts an incredible story about elite hockey players chiseled from a regimented government and training system. The skill and power of these athletes who deserve a universal due is presented in director Gabe Polsky’s documentary Red Army. Informative, thrilling, and unbelievable, the film is far more than a sports doc, as it explores the rise and fall of the Soviet Union through the treatment of star players like Viacheslov Fetisov and Alexei Kasatonov.

I previously interviewed Gabe and his brother Alan for their Emile Hirsch and Stephen Dorff drama The Motel Life, which was presented by Werner Herzog, and played at the »

- Nick Allen

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TV Review: Espn’s ‘Of Miracles and Men’

5 February 2015 8:30 AM, PST | Variety - TV News | See recent Variety - TV News news »

Offering a fascinating window into the other side of the so-called “Miracle on Ice,” Espn’s “30 for 30” outdoes itself with “Of Miracles and Men,” which looks at the astonishing 1980 Olympic upset in Lake Placid not from the perspective of the U.S. team but rather that of the seemingly unbeatable Soviet juggernaut. Essentially a protracted history of hockey within the Soviet Union – and by extension, the importance of sports under the regime – it’s a story replete with remarkable subplots and intriguing characters. Given how rarely Espn adorns itself with journalistic honor, these gold-worthy docs remain their own minor miracle.

Although it’s 35 years later, those involved recall events as if they happened yesterday. Narrated by Jeff Daniels and directed by Jonathan Hock, the doc sets up a dichotomy between the two coaches of the Soviet hockey machine: Anatoli Tarasov, an emotional fellow who built and devised the enterprise, virtually »

- Brian Lowry

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Aspire Entertainment, Newsweek Partner to Develop Magazine Stories for TV, Movies (Exclusive)

2 February 2015 5:13 PM, PST | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Aspire Entertainment has inked an exclusive two-year development deal with Newsweek to create and distribute films, TV series and other content on various platforms based on stories published in the magazine.

The deal makes sense. Aspire’s chief, producer Mark Ciardi, has frequently drawn on true stories for previous films such as “Million Dollar Arm,” with Jon Hamm, and “Miracle,” with Kurt Russell.

Ciardi’s stock in trade has been inspirational sports dramas. His former shingle, Mayhem Pictures, had been headquartered at Disney since 2002. Last year, he and longtime producing partner Gordon Gray parted ways, and Ciardi launched Aspire last fall with former YouTube executive Tom Duterme and William H.C. Chang and Ash Vasudevan of Edge Venture Capital. The goal is to draw on stories about characters dealing with and overcoming adversity.

Despite Ciardi’s background, the Newsweek partnership will not focus solely on sports. It will draw on »

- Brent Lang

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