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In my opinion a new Woody Allen movie every year is a bit of a treat. Yes, they can disappoint such as Whatever Works, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger and To Rome with Love, but they can also be true knock outs such as Vicki Cristina Barcelona and Midnight in Paris, along with the stunning performance from Cate Blanchett in last year's Blue Jasmine, and that's only looking at the last six Allen films. He's directed nearly 50 over his illustrious career and I'd say his latest, Magic in the Moonlight, falls somewhere in the middle. Set in France in the 1920s, the film is complete with all the acerbic wit, pessimism for life and otherwise charm the better Allen films often exude. Magic in the Moonlight's first two-thirds are delightful as we're first introduced to Colin Firth in the role of Stanley Crawford, a pompous and arrogant »
- Brad Brevet
Hocus Pocus: Allen’s Latest a Re-hash of All-Too-Familiar Themes
Returning once more to the world of psychics and magicians to inform his breezy comedic styling, Woody Allen’s latest, Magic in the Moonlight, plays like the slight reconnoitering of a slew of other past titles from his filmography. While this is often a critique lobbed at Allen’s perennial offerings, his latest is a surprisingly uncharismatic and uninvolving recapitulation of the kinds of schemes he used in The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001), Scoop (2006), and a few others. If those are your favored Allen titles, then perhaps this one will be a pleasing trifle. However, whereas generally Allen applies a zany, broad streak to these scenarios, here we’re pared down to a quietly developing (and unlikely) romance between its two leads.
Wei Ling Soo, a famed Chinese conjurer in 1920’s Berlin, is actually the stage persona of a »
- Nicholas Bell
The Academy has announced the new class of invited members for 2014 and, as is typical, many of which are among last year's nominees, which includes Barkhad Abdi, Michael Fassbender, Sally Hawkins, Mads Mikkelsen, Lupita Nyong'o and June Squibb in the Actors branch not to mention curious additions such as Josh Hutcherson, Rob Riggle and Jason Statham, but, okay. The Directors branch adds Jay and Mark Duplass along with Jean-Marc Vallee, Denis Villeneuve and Thomas Vinterberg. I didn't do an immediate tally of male to female additions or other demographics, but at first glance it seems to be a wide spread batch of new additions on all fronts. The Academy is also clearly attempting to aggressively bump up the demographics as this is the second year in a row where they have added a large number of new members, well over the average of 133 new members from 2004 to 2012. As far as »
- Brad Brevet
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is extending invitations to join the organization to 271 artists and executives who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures.
Those who accept the invitations will be the only additions to the Academy’s membership in 2014.
“This year’s class of invitees represents some of the most talented, creative and passionate filmmakers working in our industry today,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “Their contributions to film have entertained audiences around the world, and we are proud to welcome them to the Academy.”
The 2014 invitees are:
- Michelle McCue
Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong’o of 12 Years a Slave were two of the 271 artists and industry leaders invited to become members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which determines nominations and winners at the annual Oscars. The entire list of Academy membership—which numbers about 6,000—isn’t public information so the annual invitation list is often the best indication of the artists involved in the prestigious awards process. It’s worth noting that invitations need to be accepted in order for artists to become members; some artists, like two-time Best Actor winner Sean Penn, have declined membership over the years. »
- Jeff Labrecque
Pop quiz: What do Chris Rock, Claire Denis, Eddie Vedder and Josh Hutcherson all have in common? Answer: They could all be Oscar voters very soon. The annual Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences invitation list always makes for interesting reading, shedding light on just how large and far-reaching the group's membership is -- or could be, depending on who accepts their invitations. This year, 271 individuals have been asked to join AMPAS, meaning every one of them could contribute to next year's Academy Awards balloting -- and it's as diverse a list as they've ever assembled. Think the Academy consists entirely of fusty retired white dudes? Not if recent Best Original Song nominee Pharrell Williams takes them up on their offer. Think it's all just a Hollywood insiders' game? Not if French arthouse titans Chantal Akerman and Olivier Assayas join the party. It's a list that subverts expectation at every turn. »
- Guy Lodge
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has invited 271 individuals to become members, with the list reflecting the org’s determination to bring more diversity to its ranks.
Every year, the list of invitations includes several recent Oscar nominees. That’s true this year as well, with letters going out Wednesday to a cross-section of people including 2013 contenders Barkhad Abdi, Lupita Nyong’o, Hayao Miyazaki, Pharrell Williams, Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, plus such creatives as Megan Ellison, Chris Rock, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Steve Coogan, Jason Statham, William Chang Suk Ping, Joan Sobel, Tracey Seaward, Mads Mikkelsen and Chantal Akerman.
Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs told Variety Thursday, “This is a continuation of an initiative to bring in new voices. Filmmaking has gotten more diverse, and audiences have been responding. There are terrific filmmakers around the world at the top of their game and we want to recognize them and bring them into the Academy. »
- Tim Gray
Exclusive: Alison Pill, who co-stars on Aaron Sorkin’s HBO series The Newsroom, which is returning for its third and final season, has signed with CAA. She had been with Wme. Pill was Tony-nominated in 2006 for her performance in The Lieutenant Of Inishmore and also has a SAG cast nom for the Harvey Milk biopic Milk. Her film credits include Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris and To Rome With Love. She is next up starring alongside Chris Evans, Ed Harris and Tilda Swinton in Snowpiercer, which just opened the Los Angeles Film Festival, and the horror comedy Cooties opposite Elijah […] »
Woody Allen movies typically do not need much in the form of advertising to make them popular as the renowned filmmaker has built in fans through his half century career in the movies. His recent successes with movies like Blue Jasmine and Midnight In Paris have been interspersed with less successful movies like To Rome With Love and You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger. His latest film, Magic In The Moonlight, looks to be one of those lesser films. Despite an all-star cast that includes »
- Alex Maidy
They're talented, individual, but could, possibly, do with a bit of editorial guidance. Could these directors use a boss, we wonder?
In truth, we're a bit frightened about this one. Several times in pub/coffee shop/cider drinking in the park conversations, we've chatted about film directors who perhaps have got too powerful, that they seem to be able to get their own way without having someone to call bullshit on them - be it a good boss, or a very good friend that they trust and listen to.
This can be a very good thing. After all, we want film directors to be free to tell their stories. We don't want studio suits calling the shots. And some directors use their independence wondefully well, without losing what bought it to them in the first place (so, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, Robert Zemeckis and such like).
Los Angeles - After back to back years of opening night duds "To Rome with Love" and "I'm So Excited," the Los Angeles Film Festival kicked off its 2014 campaign with a real winner, Joon-ho Bong's "Snowpiercer." Stars Tilda Swinton, Ed Harris, Allison Pill, Kang-ho Song, and Ah-sung Ko were on hand as Bong's critically acclaimed post-apocalyptic thriller finally hit U.S. shores. Chris Evans, who is essentially the film's lead, sent a video message from London where he's shooting "Avengers: Age of Ultron" proclaiming how happy he was over the La premiere. Like co-star Swinton, Evans has been publicly passionate over his love for "Snowpiercer." He actually mentioned his genuine excitement over a long awaited resolution regarding the movie's American release during our interview for "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" in March. Bong's follow up to his 2009 drama "Mother" was actually released in his native South Korea last August. »
- Gregory Ellwood
Every Wednesday, FM writers Simon Columb and Brogan Morris write two short reviews on Woody Allen films … in the hope of watching all his films over the course of roughly 49 weeks. If you have been watching Woody’s films and want to join in, feel free to comment with short reviews yourself! Next up is To Rome with Love and Blue Jasmine…
Simon Columb on To Rome with Love…
You could easily mistake this for a foreign film considering the amount of Italian spoken. Indeed, Woody Allen is a writer who has sharp wit and snappy dialogue sewn up in the English language, at least the Italian verbal acrobats don’t seem out of place. To Rome with Love is familiar Woody Allen, recycling his best narrative devices – a kind-of, but-not-really imaginary figure (The Purple Rose of Cairo); a glorious, picture-postcard location portraying flowing, Trevi fountains and Roman ruins (Manhattan, »
- Gary Collinson
Stephanie Allain is in her third year as director of the Los Angeles Film Festival, which runs June 11-19, kicking off with “Snowpiercer” and closing with “Jersey Boys.” It’s the fifth straight year that the festival — now in its 20th year — has been in downtown Los Angeles.
Why has the festival been shortened from 12 days to nine?
We need to adjust to people in L.A. being so busy. We have to give them a reason to get out of the house by creating a more compressed schedule.
How has it been to shift the fest from Westwood to Downtown?
I think there’s a lot of civic pride as Downtown comes into its own. It’s the most diverse place in L.A., and not just from a racial standpoint.
How do you manage to find the time to produce films and be in charge of the festival? »
- Dave McNary
In his storytelling, as well as his choice of settings, Woody Allen has developed somewhat of a duality. He's made comedies and dramas, both foreign and domestic, between the past and the present; and he's fallen into somewhat of a rhythm as of late. Starting with To Rome With Love, the director has shifted alternatively between foreign settings and shooting in his own backyard, with this year's Magic In The Moonlight being his latest period piece set in the south of France. Which means his next film, an as of now untitled affair, is setting its sights on coming home to the United States for production. The Boston Globe announced that Woody Allen's next project is casting in Boston, for a planned July start date in Rhode Island. The only details about the plot are that it's takes place in the here and now, with both intellectuals and non-intellectuals. »
It’s Memorial Day weekend — the unofficial start of summer — and the holiday’s top movies at the box-office will likely be X-Men, Godzilla, and Adam Sandler’s Blended, with Spider-Man 2 still swinging through multiplexes. Ever since Jaws sunk its teeth into the sweltering months of 1975, summer has been blockbuster season, and studios now jockey years in advance to lock up the best dates between Memorial Day and Labor Day for their big-budget blockbusters. A few of them turn out to be quite good, but just about all of them tend to be very, very loud.
Perhaps your eyes »
- Jeff Labrecque
Cannes — Stealth Media Group has boarding comedy “Road to Capri” for international sales, and will introduce the project to buyers in Cannes. Atlas Distribution Company will handle U.S. distribution.
The cast includes Frankie Muniz (“Malcolm in the Middle”), Virginia Madsen (“Sideways”), Ian McShane (“Deadwood”), Maria Grazia Cucinotta (“Il Postino”), Franco Nero (“Django”) and Nicolas Vaporidis (“Men Vs Women”).
The film follows two young men, one American, Daniel (Muniz), and the other Italian, Luca (Vaporidis), who have absolutely nothing in common until one fateful day. On that day each would learn of the death of their father — but what neither was expecting to learn was that their father was the same man, and that they had inherited the family home in Capri, equally. Under the guidance of their uncle, Guido (Nero), they set out on a road of discovery that leads to Capri and the “sharing” of the family home. »
- Leo Barraclough
No plot details have been released, which is typical for any Woody Allen movie before production begins, although it is expected to feature an ensemble cast. Emma Stone stars in the director's upcoming feature Magic in the Moonlight, which has been set for a July 25 release by Sony Pictures Classics. The director is well known for attaching himself to lead actresses for multiple projects, such as Diane Keaton, Dianne Wiest and Scarlett Johansson, and it seems the same thing is happening with Emma Stone joining two back-to-back projects.
Production is scheduled to begin in July. No studio is attached yet, but Sony Pictures Classics seems to be a likely home for the project, since the studio distributed the filmmaker's most recent movies Midnight in Paris, »
As is the case with most Woody Allen movies, no plot details have surfaced at this time, and it isn't known what character Joaquin Phoenix will portray. It isn't known if the project has found a studio home yet, but don't be surprised if Sony Pictures Classics picks up the movie, since the studio distributed the filmmaker's last three movies, Midnight in Paris, To Rome with Love and Blue Jasmine, which earned Cate Blanchett a Best Actress Oscar earlier this year.
As usual, Woody Allen shows no signs of slowing down. He's prolific as ever and with "Magic in the Moonlight" right around the corner this summer, he's already lining up his next. And today brings news of the first casting decision: Joaquin Phoenix. It's a general chore to write up these early news briefs on Allen films because we are always in the dark as to plot in the early stages. The films never even have titles when the casting deals start circulating. Mostly it just becomes a time to consider the idea of Allen working with this or that actor for the first time, and Phoenix is a fascinating choice. Phoenix is in the midst of a pretty prolific streak himself lately, and a varied one at that. He's fresh off Spike Jonze's Oscar-winning "Her" last year, in which he was pretty phenomenal. He has James Gray's »
- Kristopher Tapley
As per usual, filmmaker Woody Allen is getting ready to start production on his next film this summer. Also per usual, plot details on the untitled pic are unknown, but now we have a face to put with Allen’s next feature: Joaquin Phoenix. Deadline reports that Phoenix has signed on to lead Allen’s next project, which begins filming in July. The filmmaker is coming off the success of last year’s darkly comic drama Blue Jasmine, and before that he went straight comedy with To Rome with Love. It’s unclear which genre he’ll be tackling with Phoenix, but the pairing is certainly promising. Allen’s 2014 film is the romantic comedy Magic in the Moonlight, which opens July 25th and stars Colin Firth as an Englishman in the 1920s who is brought to the south of France to unmask a possible swindle. Emma Stone also stars. As for Phoenix, »
- Adam Chitwood
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