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

13 items from 2017


Los Angeles Film Festival Lures the Hometown Crowd

14 June 2017 10:00 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

The Los Angeles Film Festival, taking place June 14-22, has always been an adaptive beast, changing over the years as it chases the moving target of exactly what it means to be a film festival in the capital of the film industry. This year, the biggest change is at the top, as Jennifer Cochis takes over for Stephanie Allain as director. Previously creative director and senior programmer at LAFF, Cochis has produced a number of L.A.-centric features (“Smashed,” “Los Wild Ones”). And she looks to continue and expand on much of the work of her predecessor, with the focus on spotlighting emerging directors and promoting a more inclusive view of the filmmaker community.

“I think our identity in terms of being a discovery festival isn’t something I’m going to alter. But I look forward to getting a little bit bigger,” she says.

Los Angeles Plays Itself »

- Andrew Barker

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As the Los Angeles Film Festival Struggles for Relevancy, a New Director Has Big Ideas For Change

14 June 2017 9:26 AM, PDT | Thompson on Hollywood | See recent Thompson on Hollywood news »

The Los Angeles Film Festival starts June 14 with Colin Trevorrow’s “The Book of Henry” as its opening-night film, but in its 23rd year the festival still hasn’t found its proper place on the film calendar.

Produced by Film Independent, Laff has always been something of a feathered fish. Some of this stems from its summer timeframe: It arrives at mid-year, more than two months before new awards contenders reveal themselves at Telluride and long after acquisitions festivals like Toronto and Sundance have done their work (with support from SXSW and Tribeca that follow) .

Laff has tried to make lemons into organic lemonade: Under the direction of recently departed Stephanie Allain, the Laff moved away from the quality international fare favored by former programmer David Ansen to embrace its indie roots and chase world premieres from under-represented demographics.

It’s a worthy-minded strategy, but the result was a lineup that drew minimal press coverage due to a lack of big names. Attendance plummeted last year, from 90,000 to 40,000 — something that also reflected the decision to move from downtown to Culver City. Nor did the festival exposure have the desired effect; many titles were forgotten shortly after their premieres.

Under the direction of new director Jennifer Cochis (producer of James Ponsoldt’s “Smashed” and Drake Doremus’ “Douchebag”), the festival is starting to make some much-needed changes. Cochis has moved up fast: she began as a senior programmer in 2015 and moved to creative director last year. Here’s what Laff is doing under her leadership.

1. The Laff no longer has diversity quotas.

While 42% of the 2017 Competition titles are directed by women and 40% are directed by people of color, Cochis expanded the Premiere and Buzz sections so that hits on the festival circuit could be shown to L.A. audiences. They include Toronto’s “Lady Macbeth” (Roadside Attractions), Sundance breakouts “The Big Sick” (Amazon/Lionsgate), “Patti Cake$” (Fox Searchlight), and closing-night film “Ingrid Goes West” (Neon), and “Keep the Change” from Tribeca, which Cinetic Media is selling. One event sure to draw crowds: Cannes director winner Sofia Coppola is doing a Q&A at the La County Museum to accompany a Focus Features double feature of “The Beguiled” and “Lost in Translation.”

Cochlis embraces adding the best-of-fest strategy to the Laff lineup. “Not being original doesn’t preclude me from wanting to play it,” she said in a phone interview. “I’m excited to connect audiences to work and filmmakers who get to make more films. If a movie played somewhere else, we can be a platform and help the rest of your film’s tour.”

She knows she has to pull audiences out of their homes, always a challenge in Los Angeles. Cochis used her old friendship with director Colin Trevorrow to book her opening-night flick, “The Book of Henry” (Focus Features). “We were festival buddies at Sundance,” said Cochis. “He’s an ordinary guy that extraordinary things happened to. He’s an incredible director, and Naomi Watts gives an about-face performance.”

The Laff is programmed by a large group who reach a democratic consensus after a discussion about audiences and inclusion. “When I’m watching films, I have no idea who made them,” Cochis said. “It’s down to how I react to film, and erring on the side of quality. We’re passionate about the film first, and we look at who made it second and figure it out from there. The festival can have both things co-exist: new and diverse work.”

One acquisition title she expects to score with festgoers is Vincent Grashaw’s “And Then I Go,” written by Brett Haley (“I’ll See You in My Dreams”), starring Melanie Lynskey and produced by Rebecca Green and Laura D. Smith (“It Follows”). “We’re really mindful that we want a film from our festival to set the tone to want to see another film,” Cochis said. “We filled in each program with films that would please anybody. And then there are films that are more experimental and subversive and can stand on their merit. The competitions are where we have a lot of interesting storytellers.”

2. It’s no longer all about world premieres.

“I don’t mind if a film has played somewhere else,” said Cochis. “We wanted fewer world premieres. Most of our Competition still are, but we took that requirement off our World Fiction Competition. If a work played many other festivals, there’s nothing cooler than that.”

As to the perception that the festival relies on filmmaker cast, crew, friends and family to fill up each theater, it’s true that each film is allotted a percentage of tickets relative to the size of the house, from 35 percent-40 percent. Cochis lives in hope that paying customers will fill out the theaters.

Read More: Laff 2017: 10 Festival Picks, from ‘My Friend Dahmer’ to ‘Everything Beautiful Is Far Away’

3. There are more first-time filmmakers than ever.

65% of the films in the competition were directed by first-timers, partly due to the festival’s outreach. “We reached out to friends, film clubs, Film Fatales, alumnae, and anyone we could write to personally,” said Cochis. “‘Do you know anyone who has wrapped something, or can we see something new?'”

The final percentage of rookies was not deliberate. “It ended up breaking that way,” said Cochis. “These films were fresh and good. What I found is that many first-timers were surrounded by various seasoned producers and cast. We did not set out to to find first-time or emerging filmmakers; most of them are within the Competition.”

This post continues on the next page.

Related storiesNew York Asian Film Festival: The Best in Modern Asian Cinema Gets a Badass New Trailer -- WatchCritics Slam 'The Book of Henry' as 'Beatriz at Dinner' and 'Paris Can Wait' Expand WellWhy 'The Book of Henry' Isn't As Bad As Everybody Says -- IndieWire's Movie Podcast (Screen Talk Episode 153) »

- Anne Thompson

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As the Los Angeles Film Festival Struggles for Relevancy, a New Director Has Big Ideas For Change

14 June 2017 9:26 AM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

The Los Angeles Film Festival starts June 14 with Colin Trevorrow’s “The Book of Henry” as its opening-night film, but in its 23rd year the festival still hasn’t found its proper place on the film calendar.

Produced by Film Independent, Laff has always been something of a feathered fish. Some of this stems from its summer timeframe: It arrives at mid-year, more than two months before new awards contenders reveal themselves at Telluride and long after acquisitions festivals like Toronto and Sundance have done their work (with support from SXSW and Tribeca that follow) .

Laff has tried to make lemons into organic lemonade: Under the direction of recently departed Stephanie Allain, the Laff moved away from the quality international fare favored by former programmer David Ansen to embrace its indie roots and chase world premieres from under-represented demographics.

It’s a worthy-minded strategy, but the result was a lineup »

- Anne Thompson

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The Circle Movie Review

11 May 2017 11:35 AM, PDT | AreYouScreening.com | See recent AreYouScreening news »

I have to assume the novel that The Circle is based on delivers its story in a way that leaves the film adaptation nearly unrecognizable. That, or I have to believe that author Dave Eggers (Away We Go, Promised Land, A Hologram for the King) has completely lost his way. That may seem like a strange statement if you know that Eggers has co-writing credit on the film, along with director James Ponsoldt, but there’s a wide gulf between writing credit and responsibility for the writing.

I make this odd claim because Eggers’ writing has been sharp in the past, and The Circle is a boring, belabored, and insulting spin on a premise that might easily have been one of the year’s best films.

We don’t really need another run at privacy issues, or tech company domination (though that’s what people are scared of these days, »

- Marc Eastman

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‘The Circle’: 5 Reasons Why Tom Hanks and Emma Watson’s Movie Bombed

1 May 2017 3:38 PM, PDT | Thompson on Hollywood | See recent Thompson on Hollywood news »

Nobody sets out to make a bad movie. So why did cautionary tech thriller “The Circle” — adapted by lauded writer-director James Ponsoldt (“The Spectacular Now,” “The End of the Tour”) and beloved novelist Dave Eggers from his own 2013 bestseller — earn such negative reviews (43 on Metacritic, 17 on Rotten Tomatoes) and bomb at the box office ($9.3 million in 3,163 theaters)?

The movie went wrong in five significant ways.

1. The movie was foreign financed.

The Circle” was developed by A-list ex-DreamWorks producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald’s Parkes+MacDonald Image Nation, which raised financing from Imagenation Abu Dhabi Fz and foreign sales company FilmNation on the power of Tom Hanks, who was the first star on board via his Playtone banner.

In order to raise an $18-million budget, globally bankable star Emma Watson was cast in a central leading role that demanded she be in every scene. Veering in tone from satiric comedy to naturalistic drama, »

- Anne Thompson

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‘The Circle’: 5 Reasons Why Tom Hanks and Emma Watson’s Movie Bombed

1 May 2017 3:38 PM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

Nobody sets out to make a bad movie. So why did cautionary tech thriller “The Circle” — adapted by lauded writer-director James Ponsoldt (“The Spectacular Now,” “The End of the Tour”) and beloved novelist Dave Eggers from his own 2013 bestseller — earn such negative reviews (43 on Metacritic, 17 on Rotten Tomatoes) and bomb at the box office ($9.3 million in 3,163 theaters)?

The movie went wrong in five significant ways.

1. The movie was foreign financed.

The Circle” was developed by A-list ex-DreamWorks producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald’s Parkes+MacDonald Image Nation, which raised financing from Imagenation Abu Dhabi Fz and foreign sales company FilmNation on the power of Tom Hanks, who was the first star on board via his Playtone banner.

In order to raise an $18-million budget, globally bankable star Emma Watson was cast in a central leading role that demanded she be in every scene. Veering in tone from satiric comedy to naturalistic drama, »

- Anne Thompson

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'The Circle' Review: Torn-From-Headlines Tech Thriller Is Cinematic Dead Link

28 April 2017 7:59 AM, PDT | Rollingstone.com | See recent Rolling Stone news »

What we have here is one of those up-to-the-minute attacks on Internet atrocities that stopped being up-to-the-minute the second co-writer Dave Eggers, on whose 2013 novel The Circle is based, finished the script and hit "send." Fact trumps (I use the verb advisedly) fiction everywhere these days, especially with Congress giving Web providers a free hand to sell every little thing they know about us. What this movie needed was the satiric depth-charge of a Stanley Kubrick in his Dr. Strangelove period, a sort of How I Learned to Stop Worrying »

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‘The Circle’ and ‘Latin Lover’ Open to Box Office That’s Already Counting Down to Marvel’s ‘Guardians Vol. 2’

27 April 2017 2:48 PM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

This weekend is all about the next one. The last weekend of April means next week is the annual May Marvel release — here, it’s Disney’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” And that means rival studios are in duck-and-cover mode, clearing a path that extends a week in advance.

So, expect to see “The Fate of the Furious” (Universal) repeat for a third time at #1, with around $20 million gross. By Sunday, “Fate” will be around $190 million domestic on worldwide gross of $1 billion — a record-low domestic share for a film reaching these heights.

Meanwhile, “Guardians” will open in most of Europe and other territories (but not China, Japan, or Russia) ahead of its domestic May 4 debut. Going abroad first not only emphasizes the increased dominance of the international market in studio strategies, but it also can spike already-strong domestic interest.

We’re glad to have that to look forward »

- Tom Brueggemann

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Emma Watson’s The Circle Ends The Lame Spring Movie Season -- The Weekend Warrior

26 April 2017 8:00 AM, PDT | LRMonline.com | See recent LRM Online news »

Welcome back to the Weekend Warrior, your weekly look at the new movies hitting theaters this weekend, as well as other cool events and things to check out. 

Even Emma Watson and Tom Hanks May Not Be Enough to Make a Mark As April Ends 

The last weekend of April, and the “slower” spring movie season is ending this weekend, leading directly into the start of the lucrative summer box office next week. As has been the case in past years, the last couple weekends in April see a couple movies hoping to bring in any amount of money before the first big summer blockbuster, and other movies that will steal away their theaters. Last weekend was pretty sad, but hopefully a few of this weekend’s movies will fare better.

The movie that stands the best chance at finding an audience this weekend is the tech industry thriller The Circle »

- Edward Douglas

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15 Films to See in April

4 April 2017 10:43 AM, PDT | The Film Stage | See recent The Film Stage news »

This month brings Amazonian exploration, shoot-’em-ups, boundary-pushing documentaries, kaiju battles, and more. Before the summer genuinely kicks off, and with it the Cannes Film Festival, there’s also a handful of films from last year’s outing. Check out our picks for what to see this month and chime in with what you’re most looking forward to.

Matinees to See: Win it All (4/7), Gifted (4/7), Mine (4/7), Their Finest (4/7), The Void (4/7), Aftermath (4/7), Salt and Fire (4/7), The Assignment (4/7), Queen of the Desert (4/7), The Student (4/14), By the Time it Gets Dark (4/14), Little Boxes (4/14), The Fate of the Furious (4/14), The Promise (4/21), Tramps (4/21), One Week and a Day (4/28), Obit (4/26),  Buster’s Mal Heart (4/28), and Sleight (4/28)

15. The Circle (James Ponsoldt; April 28)

Synopsis: A woman lands a dream job at a powerful tech company called the Circle, only to uncover a nefarious agenda that will affect the lives of her friends, family and that of humanity. »

- Jordan Raup

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The Circle Watches All In New Trailer

9 February 2017 10:44 AM, PST | QuietEarth.us | See recent QuietEarth news »

When the first trailer for The Circle landed late last year, I didn't really get what the big deal was. It looked like a fairly straight forward thriller unfolding in the tech world but not being familiar with either Dave Eggers' novel or having read a long synopsis of the movie, that first trailer revealed very little of the story.

Directed by James Ponsoldt of Smashed, The Spectacular Now and End of Tour fame, the movie stars Emma Watson as an up-and-coming new employee at The Circle, an all encompassing tech company that treats its employees like family.

In the newly minted trailer which delves a bit deeper into the plot, Watson makes friends with fellow co [Continued ...] »

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‘The Circle’: James Ponsoldt Explains Why His Dave Eggers Adaptation Isn’t Just Another Film About Dangers of Technology

9 February 2017 8:00 AM, PST | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

There’s one thing filmmaker James Ponsoldt just can’t seem to get away from: obsession. With films like “Smashed,” “The Spectacular Now” and “The End of the Tour” under his belt, Ponsoldt has a knack for humanizing characters with seemingly outsized needs, from addicts to recluses.

It’s that kind of obsession that also drives Ponsoldt’s next film, “The Circle.” Ponsoldt (who has always been a big believer in the power of the cinematic adaptation) has adapted Dave Eggers’ 2013 novel of the same name, which follows May (Emma Watson), a young woman who is hired by a powerful internet company (think Facebook, but bigger) and slowly falls down the rabbit hole of its many dark conspiracies and major secrets.

Read More: ‘The Circle’ Trailer: James Ponsoldt Throws Emma Watson and Tom Hanks Into A Corporate Conspiracy

“It’s rarely a conscious thing, in terms of the stories I’m attracted to, »

- Kate Erbland

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James Ponsoldt to team up with Arrival producers for Inconstant Moon adaptation

26 January 2017 1:50 PM, PST | Flickeringmyth | See recent Flickeringmyth news »

James Ponsoldt, director of The Spectacular Now, may still be in post-production on his latest cinematic effort, The Circle, but that hasn’t stopped him from committing to his next project.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ponsoldt will be directing a film adaptation of Inconstant Moon, an award-winning science fiction short story from author Larry Niven, for the big screen.

21 Laps’ Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen, who are responsible for this year’s eight-time Oscar-nominated sci-fi film Arrival, will produce the still-untitled film, along with Ponsoldt, Vince Gerardis and Gillian Bohrer for 1978 Pictures, Created By and Fox 2000, respectively.

Inconstant Moon takes place during Earth’s final night before a natural disaster potentially destroys it and follows a couple who tries to make sense of the madness.

Ponsoldt has stepped behind the camera a number of times now, including on such critically acclaimed movies as Smashed, the aforementioned Spectacular Now and The End of the Tour, »

- Justin Cook

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

13 items from 2017


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