14 items from 2015
Let's get one thing straight before we begin. Bill Murray is the King. There are better actors. There are people who have better filmographies. There are even funnier people, although not many. But Bill Murray is, all things, considered, the King. I've dedicated much of the last 45 years working this out scientifically, and I am prepared to finally share the findings with you, free of charge, right here at HitFix. Ostensibly, we're doing this because of this weekend's release of "Rock The Kasbah," but that's just an excuse. The truth is that it's important that we rank all 55 of Bill Murray's film performances, with a special focus on the top 25. We are not including his television work here. There are films on this list we have not seen, but not many. We decided to leave those films unranked, so here is that list: Unranked "The Hat Act" "Pass The Buck: Expo '74 »
- Drew McWeeny
Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World: Levinson’s Afghan Exploration Prizes Diversion
After a unique pit stop in found footage horror with 2012’s The Bay and an underrated Philip Roth adaptation in 2014 with The Humbling, Barry Levinson returns to his particular predilection for boundary pushing, politically topical subject matters in Rock the Kasbah. It’s a very loosely based version of the true account of Setara Hussainzada, a woman who sang on national television in Afghanistan’s version of “American Idol,” known as “Afghan Star,” even though it’s illegal for women to sing.
More along the lines of Levinson’s Man of the Year (2006) than Wag the Dog (1997), as scripted by Mitch Glazer (his first excursion since 2010’s appalling Passion Play), the title seems as woefully out-of-touch as it is unwarranted. Oddly unsympathetic, even as it depicts a subversive act of rebellion within a ruthlessly patriarchal and misogynistic culture, »
- Nicholas Bell
Oh, Bill. I recently wrote a piece about how Bill Murray has transcended being a mere living legend and has become a urban myth, and I stand behind every word of that. Unfortunately, Bill often makes choices involving films that make it very hard to support the films themselves, and "Rock The Kasbah" is a perfect example of that. Mitch Glazer is one of those people who appear to be able to get Bill Murray to actually pick up the phone, and he's a credited co-writer on "Scrooged," a film that features one of my favorite Bill Murray performances. Unfortunately, he's also responsible for writing and directing "Passion Play," one of the worst things Murray has ever been part of, and so walking into "Rock The Kasbah," I had my fingers crossed that Glazer would be able to tap the side of his friend that has made him such an »
- Drew McWeeny
You'd be hard pressed to find a bigger cast this fall than the all-star ensemble in Open Road Films' Rock the Kasbah. Lead by the inimitable Bill Murray, Rock the Kasbah also stars Kate Hudson, Zooey Deschanel, Danny McBride and Bruce Willis, all of whom we see in our exclusive TV spot for this upcoming comedy, hitting theaters nationwide October 23. If you're a sucker for an incredible true story adaptation, then Rock the Kasbah is right up your alley.
A has-been rock manager from Van Nuys, California stumbles upon a once-in-a-lifetime voice in a remote Afghan cave in Rock the Kasbah, a dramatic comedy inspired by stranger-than-fiction, real-life events and directed by Oscar winner Barry Levinson. Richie Lanz (Bill Murray), dumped and stranded in war-torn Kabul by his last remaining client (Zooey Deschanel), discovers Salima Khan (Leem Lubany), a Pashtun teenager with a beautiful voice and the courageous dream of »
Three Months to Kill: McNamara’s Derivative Hodge-Podge
You’ll neither laugh nor cry, but hover somewhere in an emotionally dysthymic plateau watching Tony McNamara’s sophomore debut, Ashby. It’s the Australian director’s sophomore feature, his first time behind the camera in over a decade following the well-received 2003 film The Rage in Placid Lake. Since then, he has worked exclusively as a writer for television, experience readily evident in certain verbal witticisms glancing through this latest feature. And yet, this also feels like some oddball made-for-television feature, mashing a handful of genres into pulpy goo made up of assassin espionage, familial bonding, and adolescent melancholia tinged with romance.
Improbably focused on the relationship of a terminal ex-assassin bonding with his next door neighbor, a precocious high school student, the developing relationship changes their trajectories—in all the ways you could possibly predict considering each of their backgrounds. But »
- Nicholas Bell
Youth On The MARCHThere are 48 individual films screening in the Wavelengths section of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The relative importance of this section, amidst the vast array of offerings in this relatively huge festival, depends on your taste in movies, of course, to say nothing of your specific objectives. If you’re coming to Toronto to try to score a hot tip in this year’s Oscar race, well . . . I feel sorry for you on a number of levels. But Wavelengths is unlikely to be your jam. Originally conceived exclusively as a showcase for experimental and non-narrative films (hence the section’s title, a direct tribute to avant-garde master and Toronto native son Michael Snow), Wavelengths now encompasses the edgier, less commercial side of art cinema. This is the first of two preview essays, and my aim is to cover everything in the section. These are the »
- Michael Sicinski
Following the first trailer released back in June, Open Road Films, via Yahoo! Movies, has debuted the second trailer for their upcoming road adventure Rock the Kasbah. Bill Murray stars as rock manager Richie Lanz, who finds the best voice he's ever heard in the most unexpected of places: Afghanistan. This dramatic comedy is inspired by stranger-than-fiction, real-life events and directed by Oscar winner Barry Levinson.
Richie Lanz (Bill Murray), dumped and stranded in war-torn Kabul by his last remaining client (Zooey Deschanel), discovers Salima Khan (Leem Lubany), a Pashtun teenager with a beautiful voice and the courageous dream of becoming the first woman to compete on national television in Afghanistan's version of American Idol. Richie partners with a savvy hooker (Kate Hudson), a pair of hard-partying war profiteers (Danny McBride and Scott Caan) and a hair-trigger mercenary (Bruce Willis) and, braving dangerous cultural prejudices, manages his new protég »
We're back with even more recommendations for cinephiles looking to broaden their horizons or try out some genres that they've never though of experiencing before. The list continues below, and be sure to check back tomorrow evening for part 3!! 11 - Kung Fu Hustle Synopsis: In Shanghai, China in the 1940s, a wannabe gangster aspires to join the notorious "Axe Gang" while residents of a housing complex exhibit extraordinary powers in defending their turf. Why you need to see it: Sheer insanity from start to finish, this packs some serious wallop, just hits the ground running and never stops. Blending high octane stunts with slapstick humour, Kung Fu Hustle may be flawed when it comes to the plot but the movie is never less than really entertaining. 12 - Jesus of Montreal Synopsis: Nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 1989 Oscars, this unconventional Canadian film directed by Denys Arcand, focuses »
- email@example.com (Dave Higgins)
Loyalty’s gotta count for something. Mitch Glazer is a veteran screenwriter (“Scrooged”), producer, the creator/showrunner of Starz’s “Magic City” and a longtime friend of Bill Murray. While he’s worked in Hollywood for some thirty years, it wasn’t until 2010 and “Passion Play” with Mickey Rourke, Megan Fox and Murray that Glazer directed a film. Premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival that year, “Passion Plays” was universally regarded as a disaster. Read More: Review: 'Passion Play' Is An Excruciating, Unbearable Disaster But try try again, right? Glazer’s back at it and his buddy Murray is in tow, this time as the lead. But there’s another director at the helm for the film: Barry Levinson. This dramedy is a rock and roll narrative set in the Middle East, focusing on a man who’s seen better days. Here’s the official synopsis: “Rock The Kasbah »
- Edward Davis
Season one’s penultimate episode got pretty Catholic, what with all the Passion Play, Jamie-as-our-Lord imagery. The finale takes us even further into the darkness and then, of course, the light. But the darkness … it is impressive, even by the standards of cable television. It puts the recent brouhaha over Sansa Stark and Ramsey Bolton’s wedding night to shame.First things first, though: We have to free our hero. How will Jamie’s wife and clansmen manage to rescue him from the Pit of Despair at the very bottom of Wentworth Prison, where he has been savaged — and ravaged — by his besotted arch nemesis Captain Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall? As it turns out, all they need is one very large, hairy diversion. A herd of cattle storms the prison basement, knocking Randall flat when he goes to investigate the hellish sound of hoofs echoing through the stone halls. The »
- Ester Bloom
Zack Little has landed the dream role. For 88 years, a small town in the foothills of Wichita, Oklahoma has been home to a yearly Easter pageant, the longest running Passion play in American history set against the bizarre backdrop of a detailed replication of the Holy Land smack dab in America’s Heartland. Drawing a local cast of hundreds, and the technical support of hundreds more, the spectacle of Wichita’s yearly tribute to the death and rebirth of Jesus Christ is a production on par with many Hollywood blockbusters. Now, Little is the star of this multi-generational effort, playing the role of a lifetime as Jesus Christ, but Zack has a secret that may call his capacity to play the King of Kings into question amongst the highly religious participants of the production.
Although Jesus Town, USA may be a true story, it’s incredibly difficult not to see »
- Adam A. Donaldson
Kuwaiti industrialist Nawaf Alghanim has launched Al-Ghanim Entertainment as a financing-production company based in Los Angeles and Kuwait.
Al-Ghanim Entertainment will back two to four films a year with budgets up to $15 million, mostly in the action and horror genres.
The company’s first project is “The Girl in the Photographs” with horror icon Wes Craven executive producing and Craven’s protege Nick Simon (writer of “The Pyramid”) directing. Chung will produce with Thomas Mahoney; Brandon M. Vayda and Krystal Tiffany Vayda will executive produce alongside Craven and Alghanim.
The film is inspired by the “Scream” franchise and set against the backdrop of the fashion world.
Alghanim told Variety that the venture marks the first time for private Kuwaiti investment in film production outside the Kuwaiti goverment. »
- Dave McNary
Australian actress Abbey Lee won a model-search competition in 2004, and has become one of the world’s best-known fashion faces. Now, she’s broadened her horizons into acting for the upcoming “Mad Max: Fury Road,” directed by George Miller.
Looking to fill a role in the latest sequel to his apocalyptic thriller, Miller reached out to modeling agencies after he couldn’t find an actor he liked. Lee made a tape in which she and her dad performed a Monty Python sketch. “I guess I had something George needed, because he flew me to Australia not long after,” she says.
Lee says her move into film wasn’t planned, but now she’s discovered what she’s been missing. She credits Miller for helping her to make the transition. “I found my passion, and learned where I was meant to be in life,” she says, adding »
- Paul Chai
Sundance: Kuwaiti industrialist Nawaf Alghanim announced in Park City on Friday (January 23) the formation of his Los Angeles and Kuwaiti-based financing and production company.
The Alghanim family, which owns international conglomerates and has ties to the majority of theatres in Kuwait, will back the new entity, set up to make two to four films a year budgeted up to $15m.
The Girl In The Photographs will be in a similar vein to Craven’s iconic Scream films and is set against the glamorous backdrop of the fashion world.
Craven serves as executive producer alongside the Vaydas and Alghanim. Thomas Mahoney produces »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeremy Kay)
14 items from 2015
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