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14 items from 2017


Gael Garcia Bernal, Rosa Salazar Join Maggie Gyllenhaal’s ‘Kindergarten Teacher’ (Exclusive)

10 July 2017 7:39 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Gael Garcia Bernal, Rosa Salazar, Michael Chernus, Anna Baryshnikov, Daisy Tahan, Samrat Chakrabarti and Ajay Naidu have joined the cast of Maggie Gyllenhaal’s drama “The Kindergarten Teacher,” Variety has learned exclusively.

Filming is starting on July 12 in New York. Maven Pictures is producing the film, based on Nadav Lapid’s Israeli film of the same name. Gyllenhaal is also producing along with Maven Pictures co-founders Trudie Styler, Celine Rattray, and Talia Kleinhendler.

Sara Colangelo is directing from her own adapted screenplay in which a kindergarten teacher who grows more and more numb each day she remains stuck in her mundane Staten Island life. When she discovers what may be a prodigious five-year old poet in her class, she becomes obsessed with the child and his talent– risking her career, family, and freedom.

Gyllenhaal came on board the project in late May. She received an Academy Award nomination for “Crazy Heart” and won a Golden Globe for »

- Dave McNary

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The Last Word movie review: wealthy white privilege, unchecked

7 July 2017 4:03 AM, PDT | www.flickfilosopher.com | See recent FlickFilosopher news »

MaryAnn’s quick take… Cantankerous old grump teaches directionless young people about life… in a way that is totally obnoxious and not in the least bit convincing. I’m “biast” (pro): I’m desperate for stories about women

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

It is not impossible to tell a story about a nasty character and make us like him or her. This is not a movie that achieves that. I will credit The Last Word, however, for flipping on its head that old cliché about a cantankerous old grump finally learning the true meaning of Christmas/life/love/whatever from a spunky young person: here, it’s cantankerous old grump Harriet (Shirley MacLaine: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Bernie) who teaches some timid and directionless younger people the true meanings of things… though in a way »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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The Last Word movie review: wealthy white privilege, unchecked

7 July 2017 4:03 AM, PDT | www.flickfilosopher.com | See recent FlickFilosopher news »

MaryAnn’s quick take… Cantankerous old grump teaches directionless young people about life… in a way that is totally obnoxious and not in the least bit convincing. I’m “biast” (pro): I’m desperate for stories about women

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

It is not impossible to tell a story about a nasty character and make us like him or her. This is not a movie that achieves that. I will credit The Last Word, however, for flipping on its head that old cliché about a cantankerous old grump finally learning the true meaning of Christmas/life/love/whatever from a spunky young person: here, it’s cantankerous old grump Harriet (Shirley MacLaine: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Bernie) who teaches some timid and directionless younger people the true meanings of things… though in a way »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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Movie Review – The Last Word (2017)

5 July 2017 12:55 AM, PDT | Flickeringmyth | See recent Flickeringmyth news »

The Last Word, 2017.

Directed by Mark Pellington.

Starring Shirley MacLaine, Amanda Seyfried, Anne Heche and Ann’Jewel Lee.

Synopsis:

A wealthy retired businesswoman decides that her life story should be told her way and employs a local journalist to write her obituary in advance – and under her supervision.  But the journalist won’t follow the script and starts to look at her client’s life in more detail, discovering some surprises along the way – and finding that perhaps her bark is worse than her bite.

The legendary Shirley MacLaine hit 90 this year and, despite the title of the film, this is not her swansong.  She has several more in the pipeline, which is fortunate, as somebody with such a great and varied career deserves to go out on a high.  And, sadly, The Last Word isn’t it.

She plays Harriet, a retired businesswoman whose success was down to micro managing everything. »

- Freda Cooper

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Jack Black Comedy ‘The Polka King’ Lands at Netflix

26 June 2017 8:00 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Netflix has picked up global rights to Jack Black’s comedy “The Polka King” and plans to launch the film later this year.

The Polka King” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Maya Forbes directed the film from a script she wrote with Wally Wolodarsky.

Jenny Slate, Jason Schwartzman, Jacki Weaver, J.B. Smoove, and Vanessa Bayer also star in the story of local Pennsylvania polka legend Jan Lewan. The movie is based on the Joshua Brown and John Mikulak documentary, “The Man Who Would be Polka King,” which detailed Lewan’s rise and fall after persuading fans to invest in a Ponzi scheme, which landed him in jail.

Producers are David Permut, Stuart Cornfeld, Shivani Rawat, Monica Levinson, Wally Wolodarsky, Jack Black and Priyanka Mattoo. Production companies are ShivHans Pictures, Red Hour Film, Permut Presentations, and Electric Dynamite.

Dennis Harvey gave “The Polka King” a strong review at Sundance: “One of those conspicuously talented comics »

- Dave McNary

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Maggie Gyllenhaal to Star in Drama ‘The Kindergarten Teacher’

30 May 2017 10:09 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Maggie Gyllenhaal has come on board to star in and produce the independent drama “The Kindergarten Teacher,[/link]” with filming starting on July 10 in New York.

Maven Pictures is producing the film, based on Nadav Lapid’s Israeli film of the same name. Producers on the film are Maven Pictures co-founders Trudie Styler and Celine Rattray, Gyllenhaal, and Talia Kleinhendler.

Sara Colangelo is directing from her own adapted screenplay. Jenny Halper brought the project to Maven.

The story centers on a kindergarten teacher who grows more and more numb each day she remains stuck in her mundane Staten Island life. When she discovers what may be a prodigious five-year old poet in her class, she becomes obsessed with the child and his talent — risking her career, family, and freedom.

Gyllenhaal received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in “Crazy Heart. »

- Dave McNary

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Penthouse Founder Bob Guccione’s Life Being Turned Into TV Series (Exclusive)

4 April 2017 5:00 AM, PDT | Variety - TV News | See recent Variety - TV News news »

Penthouse founder Bob Guccione’s rise to the top of the media landscape and fall into financial ruin will be the subject of a new television series, Variety has learned.

Jerrick Media and Maven Pictures are teaming up on the project and are currently interviewing writers. The filmmakers say they are interested in providing a deeper understanding of Guccione, who they maintain was much more than just a pornographer.

Bob Guccione was more of an intellectual,” said Rick Schwartz, co-founder of Jerrick. “He was a complicated guy.”

Schwartz says that Guccione’s Upper East Side mansion wasn’t a Big Apple equivalent of the Playboy mansion. Instead of hedonistic parties, Guccione would host salons with the likes of astronomer and author Carl Sagan or attorney Alan Dershowitz. In addition to producing Penthouse, Guccione invested in cold fusion, backed a science and science-fiction magazine entitled Omni, and released “Caligula,” a notorious epic that blended erotica, history »

- Brent Lang

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Review: ‘The Last Word’ is a Pleasant, Predictable Sitcom

11 March 2017 6:45 AM, PST | The Film Stage | See recent The Film Stage news »

Harriet Lauler is not a nice women. Taught to be pushy and proud in her days leading an advertising agency in a small California town that still has a daily paper, like much of the town — which also includes a hip indie radio station — she is a dying breed. Beat by beat, though, Lauler (played by the stellar Shirley MacLaine) “evolves” in Mark Pellington’s predictable dramedy The Last Word. Cinematic comfort food comes to mind, and rest assured, mom and grandma will probably have a nice time.

The story features a bit of darkness as Lauler, an intentional women whose gardener and stylist aren’t doing things to her liking (she’s proud enough to rip the clippers out of both of their hands), decides to control her death. No such luck as she overdoses, only to find the obituary of an old nemesis covered in red wine. This »

- John Fink

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Shirley MacLaine Vows to Help Films With Older Actors Succeed Commercially

10 March 2017 8:41 AM, PST | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

Shirley MacLaine affirmed her commitment to making films about older people as she accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Texas Film Awards. “I am so thrilled now at my age to be part of the independent film world,” she said. “I want to thank you for reminding me that I am not going anywhere, and anyway I would come back right away.”

In his introductory remarks, Austin-bred filmmaker Richard Linklater touted “Terms of Endearment,” “The Evening Star,” and his own more recent film, “Bernie,” as three Texas films starring MacLaine that made her “an honorary Texan.”

Read More: SXSW 2017: 13 Must-See Films At This Year’s Festival

The beloved actress opened her acceptance speech with a political joke, suggesting that Austin progressives “Should build a wall around this city.” Taking a more serious turn, the actress affirmed her commitment to making films that “serve the quadrant that is forgotten and underserved, »

- Jude Dry

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‘Rise:’ Short Film Starring Anton Yelchin To Be Made Into a Feature — Watch the Original Here

4 March 2017 6:18 PM, PST | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

The sci-fi short “Rise,” starring the late Anton Yelchin and directed by David Karlak, will be made into a feature. Producers Johnny Lin (“Bernie”)  and Brian Oliver (“Black Swan”) —from Filmula and Cross Creek, respectively— obtained the feature rights from Warner Bros., as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

Read More: ‘Thoroughbred’ Review: Anton Yelchin’s Final Performance Highlights Cory Finley’s Remarkable Debut

The short is based on a screenplay written by Karlak with Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan (the “Saw” films, “The Collector”). Here is the official description of the short film: A dystopian future, where man’s attempt to create artificial intelligence has spun wildly out of control, leading to a war between man and machine. 

Read More: Martin Scorsese’s 1990 Short Documentary About Giorgio Armani is Now Streaming Online — Watch

“Brian and I are extremely excited to have an opportunity to build a film franchise based on »

- Yoselin Acevedo

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Sundance Review: ‘The Polka King’ Leans on Wild True Story, Runs Out of Steam

27 January 2017 5:53 AM, PST | The Film Stage | See recent The Film Stage news »

Kudos to Jack Black for trying new things. The actor seems to be on a mission to expand his comedic (and dramatic) palette with interesting turns in smaller fare like BernieThe D Train and now The Polka King. Written and directed by Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky (also responsible for recent Sundance flick Infinitely Polar Bear), the film tells the true story of Jan Lewan, famed Polish polka singer and Ponzi scheme scammer in Pennsylvania (try saying that five times fast). Based out of a novelty store in Hazleton, Jan wraps himself up in the American Dream. Playing everything from weddings to county fairs and other senior citizen-heavy venues, his polka fanbase grows as he continues to expand the number of band members, much to the chagrin of friend and band clarinetist Mickey (Jason Schwartzman).

Jan is a untenable ball of ambition, determined to become rich and famous while remaining well-loved by all. »

- Dan Mecca

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Sundance Film Review: ‘The Last Word’

24 January 2017 9:57 PM, PST | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Here’s a new movie rule: If you’re going to sit through a Sundance “crowd-pleaser,” complete with cardboard situations and cheeseball snark and life lessons, it’s always better if that movie stars Shirley MacLaine. In “The Last Word,” she plays — what else? — a cutely difficult pie-eyed pixie-curmudgeon who is always scolding everyone and telling them how to improve themselves. I can think of many films where she played a similar role that outclass this one — like “Terms of Endearment,” “In Her Shoes,” “Bernie,” or “Postcards from the Edge.” Those were real movies. “The Last Word,” written by Stuart Ross Fink and directed by Mark Pellington, is an eager assemblage of quasi-fake setups and two-stroke characters. It makes “Little Miss Sunshine” look…organic. (It’s also not nearly as well-made.) Yet MacLaine, who isn’t above falling into high-concept shtick herself, hasn’t lost the gift of spontaneity. At 82, she’s spry and fearless. »

- Owen Gleiberman

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How Jack Black Transformed Into ‘The Polka King’ – Sundance Studio

23 January 2017 5:39 PM, PST | Deadline | See recent Deadline news »

He has played an ape’s showman in King Kong, a sweet mortician-turned-murderer in Bernie and now a polka maestro/Ponzi scheme impresario in The Polka King. Larger-than-life characters seem embedded in Jack Black’s DNA, so playing the real-life Polish immigrant Jan Lewan — a Grammy nominee, friend of Pope John Paul II, gift shop owner, ex-con and loving husband — makes perfect sense. Black received a copy of The Man Who Would Be Polka King, the documentary on which Polka Ki… »

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Sundance Film Review: ‘The Polka King’

23 January 2017 1:22 AM, PST | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

One of those conspicuously talented comics who nonetheless can be tricky to cast, Jack Black has rather surprisingly found some of his best big-screen roles portraying liberally dramatized versions of real people, à la “School of Rock” and “Bernie.” (No, “Drunk History” doesn’t count.) Featuring Black’s most eccentric true-life character yet, “The Polka King” amply plays to its star’s strengths, yielding a hilariously tough-to-believe biopic that should easily prove one of the bigger commercial breakouts of Sundance’s 2017 edition.

Co-directors Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky’s affectionately farcical comedy is based on a loopy 2009 documentary about Jan Lewan, a colorful Polish émigré turned “Polka King of Pennsylvania” turned convicted Ponzi-scheme felon. Perfectly cast down the line, this bizarre tale of the American Dream gone kitschily awry introduces Black’s Jan in 1990, when he’d be well on his way to realizing that dream, if only the finances would cooperate. »

- Dennis Harvey

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2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010

14 items from 2017


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