10 items from 2016
There are certain animated films — like, say, “Inside Out” — that achieve rarefied levels of feeling, imagination, and head-boggling audacity. In their kid-friendly way, they aim high and sail over the bar of their own ambition. But in our desire to celebrate them, let us not overlook the unadulterated magic of a Day-Glo ride for tots like “Trolls.” On the surface (and what a surface! — it just about pops your eyes open with delight), the new feature from DreamWorks Animation, distributed by 20th Century Fox, may not be the kind of blatantly brainy and profound adult-movie-in-toon-drag we’re accustomed to seeing from Pixar. Yet the enchantment that “Trolls” achieves is all too real and, in its way, quite pure. Kids should adore it, but don’t let that scare you — the movie is every 3D psychedelic inch a fairy tale for adults. It’s another antic pop-culture whirligig, with some of »
- Owen Gleiberman
Sunday night at the 2016 Emmy Awards, Henry Winkler paid tribute to “Happy Days” creator Garry Marshall, who passed away on July 19 at the age of 81 due to pneumonia complications. His touching tribute opened the annual “In Memoriam” segment.
Winkler, who played Fonzie on the iconic sitcom that ran from 1974 – 1984, took the stage to say some kinds words about the late filmmaker.
“He gave me my career,” Winkler said of the late creator and director. “Anybody who was lucky enough to meet him, it changed their life.”
Winkler continued, “Garry used to say, ‘Other people make important television, I make recess.’ Thank you for inviting us into your schoolyard.”
Tori Kelly also took the stage to sing during the “In Memoriam” segment, where a slew of other late talents were honored for their contributions to the small screen.
- Vikram Murthi
Epicureanism has come to be associated with mindless indulgence in food and sex, even if those ancient Athenians called for more restraint than you’d typically see in your average horror movie.
Countless horror films, of course, have echoed cultural anxieties surrounding sex, but that other physiological need, food, is also a common ingredient. Poor impulse control is at the heart of every slasher film—usually the perp acting on his, but also the risk-taking behaviors of his victims. And it’s not much of a stretch to consider that there’s a genetic component to this, whether manifested in psychopathy or an inability to keep the fridge door shut.
According to a Bloomberg report, 2015 was the first year Americans spent more on dining out than on groceries, as at-home food prep shows proliferate and the real-life horror that is the obesity epidemic shaves years off our lives. Luckily, amidst »
- Christopher Lombardo
“An Inconvenient Truth,” the epochal Al Gore/Davis Guggenheim documentary about climate change (which back then was still routinely called global warming), came out 10 years ago last week. There have been any number of climate-change docs since, and none of them has summoned anything like the impact of Gore’s seismic cinematic lecture. But one of the few nonfiction filmmakers who’s come close to inspiring that level of conversation — on any subject — is Charles Ferguson, who directed the definitive, awards-showered Iraq War doc “No End in Sight” (2007) and also “Inside Job” (2010), his penetratingly skeptical, ahead-of-the-curve look at the 2008 financial meltdown and its aftermath.
“Time to Choose” is only Ferguson’s third feature, and his first in five years, and given that it’s his own highly ambitious inquiry into climate change, you’d think that it would be something of an event. But “Time to Choose” enters a different »
- Owen Gleiberman
When RealD was demonstrating its 3D projection system a decade ago, it got a little bit lucky.
Disney, which had long experience with 3D attractions in its theme parks, happened to be trying to re-establish its animation studio with a CG feature, “Chicken Little.”
“We were looking for something that would differentiate it from all the other movies in the marketplace,” recalls Dick Cook, who was chairman of Walt Disney Studios at the time. “We thought that (RealD 3D) was a great opportunity to do it. And if it could kick off digital 3D around the world, then all the better. And I think it did just that.”
Response to “Chicken Little” was tepid, but RealD 3D got hot, becoming the dominant 3D system in North American’ theaters. In North America, RealD has 91% market share among 3D theaters, with more than 13,700 screens, and 36% of 3D screens worldwide use the RealD system. »
- Karen Idelson
Stacey Dash‘s appearance at the Academy Awards was one of the strangest parts of the night, and now she is criticizing one of the most memorable moments — Leonardo DiCaprio‘s acceptance speech after winning the Best Actor Oscar for “The Revenant.” In a blog post Thursday titled: “Leonardo DiCaprio, quit being Chicken Little – the Sky is not falling,” the Fox News contributor ripped into the Hollywood star’s stance against climate change. “He reminds me of Chicken Little, the bird who ran around the neighborhood and disturbed everyone ‘with her foolish alarm,’ Dash wrote, along with posting an image »
- Debbie Emery
Stacey Dash still has more to say about this year's Oscars. In a blog post she wrote on Thursday, Dash called out Leonardo DiCaprio for his climate change-themed Oscars speech after winning best actor. "Quit being Chicken Little — the sky is not falling," she said in the post, adding that though she felt he deserved his award, she had a problem with what he said while accepting it. "Climate change is real. It is happening right now. It's the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.
- Jennifer Konerman
Talented screenwriter Daniel Gerson, who co-wrote Monsters, Inc., died Saturday at home. He was 49. Gerson had been battling brain cancer, according to a statement released by his family, but before he passed he left an incredible footprint behind. Often collaborating with Robert L. Baird on Disney-Pixar films, Gerson was responsible for prequel Monsters University and Big Hero 6, which won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. The 49-year-old screenwriter was also credited with working on Up, Chicken Little and Inside Out, so he basically had a hand in every amazing creation to come out of Disney-Pixar's studios. He also worked on Meet the Robinsons, debatably one of Disney's most underrated animated »
According to a family statement, Gerson had been battling brain cancer.
The screenwriter frequently collaborated with Robert L. Baird. Together the duo co-wrote “Monsters Inc” and its prequel, “Monsters University,” as well as “Big Her 6,” which won the Oscar last year for animated feature. Gerson was also the voice of the police Sergeant in “Big Hero 6.”
Born in New York, Gerson got his start as a staff writer on the NBC comedy “Something So Right.” He later transitioned to animated films for Disney/Pixar, where his films grossed over $2 billion worldwide.
He is survived by his wife, two children and parents.
Donations in Gerson’s memory can »
- Variety Staff
ABC News’ fingerprints are all over “Madoff,” a four-hour miniseries chronicling Bernie Madoff’s financial high crimes. News footage (all from ABC, naturally) peppers the project, which is based on a book by correspondent Brian Ross. Yet despite a showy performance by Richard Dreyfuss in the title role, the production is mostly inert, exhibiting a somewhat antiseptic quality, and downplaying perhaps its most fascinating element. Those who invest their time in “Madoff” shouldn’t come away feeling fleeced, exactly, but given the inherent dramatic possibilities in the story, the return for viewers seems at best marginal.
Indeed, while ABC beat HBO to the punch, this production, from the Alphabet’s Lincoln Square arm (previously responsible for its short-lived drama “The Assets,” about CIA mole Aldrich Ames), should do little to temper anticipation for “The Wizard of Lies,” HBO’s upcoming take on the story, starring Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer. »
- Brian Lowry
10 items from 2016
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