Acclaimed film director Nicolas Roeg dies aged 90

British film director Nicolas Roeg has died at the age of 90, his family have said.
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‘Ravening,’ ‘Eeb Alley Ooo!’ Win Awards at India’s Film Bazaar

Bhaskar Hazarika’s “Ravening” (“Aamis”) won the Facebook award for the project with the most buzz at the Film Bazaar Recommends strand at the annual Film Bazaar in Goa, India. The award is calculated on audience votes and number of visits to the film at the Bazaar’s viewing room. The project gets $ 10,000 worth of advertising […]

Variety

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Calvin Klein Cancels Annual Bash at Cannes Film Festival

CALVIN SKIPS CANNES: Calvin Klein, which has thrown some of the splashiest events at the Cannes Film Festival in collaboration with the Independent Filmmaker Project for the past five years, is taking a pass this year. The company has decided to cancel its annual party, which over the years has honored such stars as Lupita Nyong’o, Naomi Watts, Julianne Moore, Rooney Mara, Emily Blunt, Isabelle Huppert, Mélanie Laurent, Sienna Miller and Rachel Weisz. The parties have taken place at a private villa on the French Riviera.
Last year’s event attracted such celebrities as Jake Gyllenhaal, Harvey Weinstein, Rossy de Palma, Joan Smalls and Doutzen Kroes. The party included a huge seafood buffet, a DJ set by Harley Viera-Newton and a live performance by California band Haim.
With the changing of the guard of the design team at Calvin Klein — Francisco Costa and Italo Zucchelli are both exiting as creative directors of women’s and men’s Collection — sources said the company decided to skip the celebration this year.
Klein confirmed that it won’t be doing an event in Cannes but still supports the IFP, which includes its sponsorship of the Gotham Awards with the presentation of the Calvin Klein Euphoria Grant to an

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Tribeca Film Review: ‘Elvis & Nixon’

The King of Rock and Roll requests an audience with the President of the United States in “Elvis & Nixon,” and the resulting interaction could hardly be weirder.

Variety

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Mytheresa.com, Balenciaga Team on Fashion Film

BALENCIAGA ACT: Mytheresa.com has teamed with Balenciaga to poke fun at the glamour, exaggeration — and irony — endemic in the industry with a short film to be released on Sunday.
“Une Incroyable Excuse,” is a two-minute short featuring three young French Ladies Who Lunch, and the shocking discovery one of them makes when she opens her handbag to look for her car keys. The short, written and directed by Danny Sangra and filmed on location at Caviar Kaspia in Paris, is the e-tailer’s first fashion film project. The film makes its debut on Showstudio.com on Sunday, and will be posted later in the week on the Mytheresa.com Web site.
The three main characters wear exclusive looks from the Balenciaga fall runway collection, which are available to buy on Mytheresa.com.
Justin O’Shea, the site’s buying director, said one of his favorite movie lines is “Why so serious?” spoken by Heath Ledger’s Joker character in “The Dark Knight,” and he wanted to create something with a sense of humor. “The line has probably never been referenced in a fashion quote,” said O’Shea.
He added: “The idea of this industry being fun is something I feel strongly about, and that was the starting point behind the

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Live from Toronto Film Festival: Sunday Sept. 13

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The Toronto International Film Festival, in its 40th year, is, at this point, North America’s largest, sprawling across this massive city with more than 300 films vying for the attention of the public and the press.

I’ve been attending this festival since 1984 – which would seem like a lot to me, had I not been in the audience to see Barbara Kopple’s moving and uplifting new documentary, Miss Sharon Jones! As the film was introduced, the programmer doing the introduction pointed out that Kopple was one of three filmmakers with work in this festival who also had films in the very first Toronto festival: her 1976 documentary, Harlan County USA, which went on to win Kopple the first of her two Oscars.

I have fond memories of films I saw here for the first time. In that first year, for example, I caught the Coen brothers’ debut, Blood Simple, as well as Places in the Heart and Steve Martin’s All of Me.

This year’s edition will be remembered for putting both Jay Roach’s Trumbo and James Vanderbilt’s Truth in contention for the Oscar race. I saw the two films back to back on Sunday – and they are guaranteed to both grip you and infuriate you, because of the way they resonate with the political situation we find ourselves in (and to which we doomed ourselves in 2004).

Truth stars Cate Blanchett as Mary Mapes, a journalist and producer for 60 Minutes who, in 2004, came across what seemed to be evidence that then-President George W. Bush, who was seeking reelection, had received preferential treatment to get into the Texas National Guard (and avoid being sent to Vietnam), then essentially skated on the last couple of years of his guard duty, again thanks to pulled strings. But Mapes was the victim of forged documents and looming deadlines; while she had the story right, she and her boss, Dan Rather (played with canny folksiness by Robert Redford), both took the fall for the doctored documents.

The Mapes story itself is more than a decade old, but the problems it represents remain fresh. While Mapes and Rather made mistakes, they were hung out to dry by both CBS (more concerned about profits than seeking the truth) and the rest of the media. CBS’ competitors seemed obsessed with bringing down CBS, rather than pursuing the substance of the story itself: that Bush, in all likelihood, had used his connections to avoid Vietnam, then used them again to skip out on a lot of duty.

As Vanderbilt’s film points out, CBS (and Viacom) were basically afraid of antagonizing the Bush White House – which used its mastery of misdirection and strong (but inaccurate) messaging. Blanchett captures the frustration of Mapes, a hard-charging journalist who finds that she’s been turned into the story, in order to discredit her efforts on the real story.

Blanchett is already being touted for an Oscar for her work in the upcoming “Carol,” but this performance – tough, smart, vulnerable — may also make her a contender. She has strong support from Redford, as well as Dennis Quaid, Elisabeth Moss and Topher Grace, as her investigative team. Truth is a film guaranteed to reignite this controversy and, perhaps, finally bring the truth out into the open.

Jay Roach’s Trumbo is equally good at making the blood boil.


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Zoe Cassavetes Said Directing Film for Ritz Paris

PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ?: Could Zoe Cassavetes have directed a film for the Ritz relaunch?
Word has it the director of “Broken English” has shot a film involving fashion people and designers for the reopening of Paris’ mythic, five-star hotel.
A spokeswoman for the Ritz Paris had no comment.
There’s a lot of anticipation for the reopening — the hotel is officially taking reservations from March 14— billed as the biggest refurbishment in the history of the 117-year-old establishment.
Cassavetes, the daughter of  actor and filmmaker John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands, is very much plugged to the fashion world. Her fashion credentials include being a muse of Marc Jacobs, participating in Miu Miu’s “Women’s Tales” — and being a front-row regular at fashion shows.
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Scoring Big With Prolific Young Film Composer Giona Ostinelli

Like many, I can get obsessive about film music. But long gone are Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Henry Mancini, even John Barry and the astounding Jerry Goldsmith. We just lost the often excellent James Horner. Meanwhile, John Williams is kinda busy with some little Disney project with lightsabers in it. And upstarts like Anne Dudley, Danny Elfman, Herbie Hancock and Hans Zimmer have become established elders. Thus do I scan the horizon for fresh talent.

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Giona Ostinelli

Currently my ear has landed upon Giona Ostinelli, a Swiss composer working in Hollywood, a mere 29 years old but with an impressive 25 feature films to his credit, plus assorted short films (over 30 during just nine months studying at USC!) and new-media projects. You can hear Giona’s work this week in POD, a horror shocker by director Mickey Keating, opening in 10 cities and via VOD. While PODPOD on VOD, that’s catchy — showcases Giona’s gift for eerie tension-building, it wasn’t until I visited his studio that the delightful diversity of the young composer’s palette was revealed. He began by screening and playing his upbeat, aw-shucks, orchestral opening for Arnold Grossman’s The Boat Builder (starring Christopher Lloyd) — and I was like, wait, you’re the same guy? You’re not about just one screechy-spooky note?

“With POD, for the ending, I wrote this piece for a choir,” explains Giona of his efficient 2 1/2-week process of scoring the horror, “and Mickey didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t know either, because I got to the end of the movie, and I was sick and tired of hearing my sounds, I wanted something different! So I said, ‘how about a choir?’ I sent it to Mickey, I said, ‘Mickey, you’re allowed to hate me for what I’ve done with the ending — because it’s totally different from the rest.’ So I sent it to him, and he was like, ‘that’s an awesome surprise!’ He didn’t expect it, and it worked great.”


Talking POD

Indeed, viewing POD — which is not unlike a meaner, scarier, extended X-Files episode (two siblings check on their brother in a secluded Maine house: and what they find ain’t pretty) — one does not sit around thinking “choir” — and right away, that’s the aura of Giona: an innovator. He seems to have “surprise” coded into his DNA. I ask about scoring horror — does the director impose certain obligatory stings and so forth?

“He always invites me to his place,” says Giona of Mickey, “to his editing bay, and then he shows me the film. He’s like, ‘Here’s my idea, roughly, how it is — just take it, and surprise me!’ So I was working on it, and he has these flashbacks, and I was like, ‘Why don’t we try to do something cool?’ I know that sound design is going to cover that, to a certain extent — but when I watch a film, and I see that type of thing, I would like it to be pressing! (Giona makes a disturbing mouth noise) So I was like, why not take the chance and do it?”

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Mickey Keating and Giona Ostinelli

This attitude serves Giona well — he takes the chance and does it — and he and I enthuse over our love of Dave Grusin’s winning score for The Goonies: which, it turns out, inspired us both to rush headlong toward the arts. Heh.

“I remember, when I was a kid, saying, ‘I want to do this!'” gushes Giona. “I started playing drums when I was five, piano when I was almost nine, doing choir when I was 16, playing in many bands — metal bands, rock bands, blues bands, jazz trio — you can see in the types of films I do, I always do different genres. (laughs) I always wanted to do film music, but growing up in Switzerland, it’s not a career choice. In Switzerland you either become a banker, a lawyer, or a doctor.”

Or Jung, I add (though that job application proves fairly stringent).

“Or a watchmaker!” adds Giona’s concert-pianist partner — and we all grin knowingly: watches — how 20th-century!

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I elicit a laugh from Giona by imitating the beloved Danny Elfman style (conveniently: “Oompa-Loompa, Oompa-Loompa…”), and he admits he’s a big soundtrack buff, raving up Thomas Newman: “His sounds are so amazing,” he says, emphasizing Saving Mr. Banks, “but for some reason, I love tons of his scores, but that one! Thomas Newman, you listen to him, it’s very simple, and it sounds great. Then you go to Hans Zimmer, he has 200 tracks, it sounds great — a completely different style.”

Giona is practically gasping as he enthuses: “I like listening to scores, and I buy so many! How did they get this sound?!”


Giona Ostinelli’s Soundcloud

On cue, Mickey shows up to join his composer (see videos for the guys in action), and the two rave up their partnership on POD but also Ritual (2013) and the forthcoming Darling (2015). “We’ve known each other for so long,” says the world-weary 25-year-old, “that the whole process is really creative. I feel like so much of the process of working with composers and editors, there’s this learning curve. But me and Giona can just riff back and forth.”

“And also, the cool thing about Mickey,” adds Giona, “not many people do this, but working with Mickey is like family. It’s always the same editor, same sound designer, same cinematographer, and we all know each other. It’s so cool! You feel part of a family, and you’re not afraid to experiment.”

“Yeah, it’s great,” agrees Mickey. “And I mean, it really helps create a process. It doesn’t seem so formal. The movies are all sort of hand-made and home-grown, and that’s what’s exciting about them.”


Talking Darling

“I’m finishing Darling, and Mickey’s finishing editing Carnage Park,” chimes in Giona, contrasting both the visuals and sounds of the former (lensed in New York), and the latter (lensed in the California desert).

“What’s great about it is they’re such different films,” adds Mickey. “Darling‘s so weird, but classical and ambient, and Carnage Park‘s like a Peckinpah western with the sensibilities of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and stuff. So they’re all different subgenres of horror, and it’s so cool to be able to have somebody who can just do it all!” Mickey gestures to his friend, Giona.

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“I’m sure that if I wouldn’t try to push myself,” sums up Giona, “to do drama, to do comedies, dark comedies, trying to do a romantic film or Christmas film–“

Two Christmas films,” I remind him.

“–two Christmas films. If I wouldn’t try to push myself, and go to places that I’m afraid of, that I’m not comfortable in, then I wouldn’t be so good even in the horror genre. But because I always try to explore as much as possible, then everything becomes useful.”

POD is now playing in select theaters, and on VOD.

Photos courtesy of Giona Ostinelli unless noted

Videos by Gregory

Giona Ostinelli Official Site

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Documentary Film: A Very Short Introduction

Documentary Film: A Very Short Introduction


Documentary film can encompass anything from Robert Flaherty’s pioneering ethnography Nanook of the North to Michael Moore’s anti-Iraq War polemic Fahrenheit 9/11, from Dziga Vertov’s artful Soviet propaganda piece Man with a Movie Camera to Luc Jacquet’s heart-tugging wildlife epic March ofthe Penguins. In this concise, crisply written guide, Patricia Aufderheide takes readers along the diverse paths of documentary history and charts the lively, often fierce debates among filmmakers and scholars about the best ways to represent reality and to tell the truths worth telling. Beginning with an overview of the central issues of documentary filmmaking-its definitions and purposes, its forms and founders-Aufderheide focuses on several of its key subgenres, including public affairs films, government propaganda (particularly the works produced during World War II), historical documentaries, and nature films. Her thematic approach allows readers to enter the subject matter through the kinds of films that first attracted them to documentaries, and it permits her to make connections between eras, as well as revealing the ongoing nature of documentary’s core controversies involving objectivity, advocacy, and bias. Interwoven throughout are discussions of the ethical and practical considerations that arise with every aspect of documentary production. A particularly useful feature of the book is an appended list of “100 great documentaries” that anyone with a serious interest in the genre should see. Drawing on the author’s four decades of experience as a film scholar and critic, this book is the perfect introduction not just for teachers and students but also for all thoughtful filmgoers and for those who aspire to make documentaries themselves. About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life’s most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest co

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Hitler and the Nazi Cult of Film and Fame

Hitler and the Nazi Cult of Film and Fame


A shocking, meticulously researched account of Hitlers fantasy of power and stardom. In Nazi Germany, the cult of celebrity was the embodiment of Hitlers style of cultural governance. Hitlers rise to power owed much to the creation of his own celebrity, and the countrys greatest stars, whether they were actors, writers, or musicians, could be one of only two things. If they were compliant, they were lauded and awarded status symbols for the regime; but if they resisted-or were simply Jewish-they were traitors to be interned and murdered. This fascinating analysis offers a shocking portrait of a Hitler shaped by aspirations to Hollywood-style fame, of the correlation between art and ambition, of films used as weapons, and of sexual predilections. The Führer believed he was an artist, not a politician, and in his Germany politics and culture became one. His celebrity was cultivated and nurtured by Joseph Goebbels, Germanys supreme head of culture. Hitler and Goebbels enjoyed the company of beautiful female film stars, and Goebbels had his own “casting couch.” In Germanys version of Hollywood there were scandals, starlets, secret agents, premieres, and party politics. The Third Reich would launch filmmaker and actress Leni Riefenstahl to prominence by making her its own glorifying documentarian, most famously in The Triumph of the Will, the innovative propaganda film starring Hitler and widely considered to be one of the greatest movies ever made. It is no coincidence that Eva Braun, Hitlers longtime partner and wife for the two days leading up to their joint suicide, was a photographer, and in fact shot most of the surviving photographs and film footage of her lover. This book reveals previously unpublished information about the “Hitler film,” which Goebbels envisaged as “the greatest story ever told,” although it was ultimately trumped by the dictators own, real-life Wagnerian finale.19 black-and-white photographs

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Cath Kidston Film Celebrates Back-to-school

IN THE BAG: Cath Kidston, the British accessories, clothing and homeware brand known for its vintage-inspired prints, has shot a film to tout the upcoming back to school season — and its new collection of school bags.
The short film spotlights British bloggers Katie Ellison of Mummy Daddy Me; Kat Molesworth of Housewife Confidential, and Kathryn Sharman of Kat Got The Cream, who are all shot with their children as if preparing for the first day back at school, while toting Cath Kidston’s fall bag collection, dubbed Bags to School. For the back-to-school season, the label has worked up designs with playful prints of robots, ballerinas and sausage dogs. Prices for the bags start at 24 pounds or $ 37 for a race car drawstring backpack and rise to 30 pounds or $ 46 for a rose print satchel backpack.
Sam Washington directed the film, with production by El Carousel. Sue Chidler, marketing director of Cath Kidston, said the firm had decided to create the collection and film “to capture the first day of school as one of the big emotional periods that parents go through,” she said. “We wanted to connect with our customers in a unique way and be a part of this…journey

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David Beckham, Harvey Keitel Featured in Belstaff Short Film

OH, DOWN IN MEXICO: David Beckham is teaming with Belstaff once again on a short film set to be released on Sept. 22, following the brand’s show at London Fashion Week.
Beckham appears with Harvey Keitel, Katherine Waterston, Cathy Moriarty in “Outlaws,” which was filmed on location in Mexico, with Liv Tyler as the executive producer.
“I always love to challenge myself,” said Beckham. “Filming ‘Outlaws’ in the Mexican desert with Belstaff and the Legs team — not to mention working alongside Harvey, Cathy, and Katherine — was an adventure I will never forget.”
Written and directed by Geremy Jasper, the film has a surreal atmosphere and was produced by Belstaff Films and Legs, a division of Milk Media.
The film follows a mysterious drifter and motorcycle stuntman who is haunted by memories of a beautiful trapeze artist — and hunted by a maniacal director seeking revenge.
The trailer will be released on Monday on the Belstaff brand site, while a wrap party will take place during New York Fashion Week on September 17. The global premiere and party will take place following Belstaff’s show on Monday, Sept. 21.
The brand has an ongoing relationship with Beckham who has appeared in its ad campaigns, and who has

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Film Review: The Impossible Is, Well, Not Quite Yet Possible

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Polaroid has always been a bit of a legend and a bit of a mystery to me. I grew up in the 80s, so Polaroid was pop culture, although less and less so as I came of age. By the time I became a “photographer” Polaroids were no longer really in use, even though the Polaroid Corporation continued to make various films into the late 2000s. Finally, by 2008 or so, it had completely vanished.

Enter the Impossible Project, a Dutch company that bought the old Polaroid factory along with their patents etc. Soon Polaroid film – and therefore Polaroid cameras – would be up and working again. However, not all would be the same.

Given my lifelong curiosity with Polaroid cameras, I recently decided to dive in. I contacted the good people at The Impossible Project and we hashed out a deal for them to sponsor a project. Soon after they sent me a really nice refurbished SX-70 along with a hefty supply of film. Thanks be to The Impossible Project and their wonderful employees!

I really wanted to like their film. I really wanted to fall in love with the SX-70, one of the most romantic cameras of all time. I imagined myself roaming the streets of New York, SX-70 slung over my shoulder, making some of my greatest photographs to date. Alas, none of this would come to pass.

Here’s the short version of the story: Impossible film is just not stable enough (yet!) to be really useful. I hate to say it, but that seems to be the truth of the matter.

I tried the SX-70 indoors with ample light, but to no avail. Here’s Matthew in a failed attempt at a brightly lit portrait.

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Next, I tried the B&W film outdoors. Better success. Here’s Granamyr’s claw. But things were still difficult. Sunlight and heat would be major obstacles to overcome in New York in July. The film doesn’t like weather that is too hot, or too cold. It also doesn’t like too much light in those first few seconds after exposure.

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I installed the frog tongue, after a lot of frustration (poor directions, no visuals), and things again improved some. Here are a few more attempts at outdoor photography with color and black and white film.

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In this next shot, the brick wall was a vibrant yellow. As you can see the film did not pick up the color well at all. In the following shot, a red and white wall is similarly washed out, although the photo is my favorite of all of them. It’s artsy and abstract and fun! This is perhaps were the gem lies in Impossible film – in the experimentation and fun.

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This next image shows the lack of detail in the image, despite having the focus sharp at the time of capture.

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The Impossible Project has been around for some time now. I think it is safe to say the “novelty” of it all has worn away. People still using this film are likely genuinely interested in instant film and not merely the “idea” of it. Having said this, this is where we are now with getting the Polaroid image back into pop culture. We kinda, sorta, more or less have it, but not quite. The images are just not we used to know as a “Polaroid photograph”. In their defense, the team at Impossible tells me that Holland (where their factory is located) has restricted the use of many chemicals on environmental grounds. This is great for the environment, but poor for the film quality. Yet, at least they are trying to get things going again and still remain environmentally friendly. Fujifilm Instax film on the other hand is likely using much more harmful chemicals to achieve their superior results. This is all worth noting, as is the general observation that analog film, in general terms, is not all that congruent with environmental movements.

In the end, I have to say there is indeed something magical about using a Polaroid camera, about the SX-70 especially. The decisive clunk of the shutter button, the whirl of the gears and the spitting out of a real piece of photographic history. It’s all very exciting. The disappointment comes in terms of the quality of the image. The film just doesn’t resolve enough detail to really be useful for serious photography and, at just over $ 3 a shot, it’s an expensive hobby. Despite this, The Impossible Project says they sold over 1 million packs of film last year and things are on the rise. They also tell me that there is a new generation of film being beta tested as I write this post. That’s exciting because I would really like to see the Impossible become, well, more possible. The very real and wonderful people behind this project are trying to do a good thing for photography, but they may have a steep hill yet to climb. Regardless, I’m not giving up on the SX-70 or The Impossible Project just yet.

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Bottom Line: I can wholeheartedly recommend Impossible film for personal fun and/or experimental use, but cannot recommend it (at this time) for anything serious or professional. It’s a mixed bag verdict.

Michael Ernest Sweet is a New York City-based Canadian writer and photographer. He is the author of two photography books, The Human Fragment and Michael Sweet’s Coney Island, both from Brooklyn Arts Press. Follow Michael through Facebook or his website.

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ShowStudio Debuts Alexander McQueen Short Film

MCQUEEN ON FILM: Sunday might have marked the close of the “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” exhibition at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, but the designer’s archive is getting another lease of life, thanks to Nick Knight’s ShowStudio Web site.
Knight, together with filmmaker Younji Ku and art director Jon Emmony, has created a montage of ShowStudio’s archive footage of the late Lee Alexander McQueen’s creations, for a film called “Lee Alexander McQueen, 1969-2010.” Knight has taken footage of some of McQueen’s most striking looks — among them a red feathered dress from his spring 2001 show, and a sculptural hound’s tooth outfit from his fall 2009 collection — and has heightened the looks’ impact by distorting the footage and embellishing it with 3-D animation.
The latest project adds to “Unseen McQueen,” a ShowStudio film that features footage of McQueen’s collaborators talking about working with the designer, whose release coincided with the “Savage Beauty” opening in March. The new film is currently live on the showstudio.com Web site.

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Subkoff’s North American Film Rights to #Horror Acquired by IFC Midnight

HORROR SHOW: The North America rights to Tara Subkoff’s “#Horror” have been acquired by IFC Midnight. The film was written and directed by Subkoff — former designer and cofounder of Imitation of Christ — and has an ensemble cast that includes Chloë Sevigny, Tim Hutton, Natasha Lyonne, Balthazar Getty, Stella Schnabel, Annabelle Dexter-Jones and Lydia Hearst. “#Horror” centers on a group of 12-year-old girls and an online social media game that turns a moment of cyber bullying into a night of terror. This is Subkoff’s first feature film. Previously she directed the short films “Future/Perfect,” a live art performance installation featuring Milla Jovovich, and MOCA’s “Magic Hour,” starring Sevigny.

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‘Look Of Silence’ Director On How The Film Is Sparking Change In Indonesia

Joshua Oppenheimer‘s 2013 documentary “The Act of Killing“ detailed the Indonesian genocide of the 1960s, which has been estimated to have claimed the lives of about half a million people. Now Oppenheimer is back with a follow-up film called “The Look Of Silence,” which is enabling Indonesians to finally address horrors their country has yet to recover from.

“‘The Look Of Silence’ has, I’m humbled to say, helped catalyze a fundamental transformation in how Indonesians are responding to the genocide and its present day terrible legacy of corruption, fear and violence,” Oppenheimer told HuffPost Live’s Nancy Redd on  Thursday. “It’s helped energize a movement for truth and reconciliation and some form of justice.”

Truth and reconciliation legislation would help bring closure to many Indonesians. But the documentary takes a different approach to exposing the genocide. 

“The Look Of Silence” follows one family of survivors’ tragic discovery of how their son was murdered in 1965 and who his killers were. The film documents the family’s youngest son, Adi, as he confronts his brother’s killers. Oppenheimer explained the effect the documentary is having in the country at its center.

“Indonesians through the film are acknowledging how torn the social fabric of the country is, and how urgently truth and reconciliation are needed,” Oppenheimer said. “And the government, in response to this debate the film has raised, has now introduced a truth and reconciliation bill. Woefully inadequate, but a tremendous start in a way.”

Watch Oppenheimer discuss his moving documentary in the video above, and click here to watch his full HuffPost Live conversation.

Sign up here for Live Today, HuffPost Live’s new morning email that will let you know the newsmakers, celebrities and politicians joining us that day and give you the best clips from the day before!

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What Disney Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’ Film Teaches Us About Embracing All Sides Of Our Emotions

Disney Pixar’s new “emotion” picture, Inside Out is not only another endearing creative masterpiece, it also teaches us some important lessons on the nature of our emotions.

It turns out that our unique tapestry of emotional responses — whether
joy, anger, curiosity, disgust, surprise, sadness, fear, shame or guilt — all serve a distinctive purpose. Even though we might like to eliminate unfavorable emotions, they serve an important role.

The American Psychological Association defines emotion as a “complex feeling state”, impacting nearly all facets of our lives. Our responses are influenced by what we perceive to be “personally significant”. We experience emotions in a wide variety of ways, according to what stage of life we are in, our unique temperament, and how we view ourselves- and the situations we find ourselves in.

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Inside Out, while appealing largely to a younger audience, offers sound wisdom we can apply to make sense of our emotions-both at work and at home:

1. Feelings add color to our lives. Life would be boring if our emotions were flat lined. We’d lack passion and zest. The wide range of emotions we are capable of experiencing contribute to our human experience and essence — our personality, mood, behavior and motivation. Yes, emotions can be raw, messy and visceral — but they can also be profound, beautiful, and comforting. They all add dimension and flavor.

2. We don’t always have to think positive. It’s unrealistic to think that we are always going to put an instant positive spin on things. Very often, we may need to buy time to regroup and work through complex emotions. Our tendency to want a quick fix can help us look for solutions, but it can also be a trap that makes us fight ourselves when we think we “should” have already gotten past something and instead find ourselves needing time to regroup and put the pieces together.

3. Emotional contrasts are important. When we’ve experienced difficult emotions, it can help us appreciate the good moments all the more. If we never had to endure rainy days and seasons, we’d have less appreciation for sunny ones once they arrive. In a similar way, it’s what makes us enjoy a break after a long and intensive work period.

4. Emotional states aren’t permanent. Even though we might think we’re forever stuck — feeling states, like weather patterns, are temporary. The winds of change are inevitable. Knowing this can help us learn to appreciate and anchor down the positive moments and ride out the ones that clobber us and bring us to our knees.

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5. Difficult emotions can protect us. If given the choice to completely squash feelings like sadness, rage and disgust, our first tendency might be to instantly jump at the chance. This could be detrimental, since our emotions provide us with all sorts of important information. Our fears or apprehensions often serve us well and prevent us from living with reckless abandon.

6. Emotions reflect our deeper values and desires. Feelings reflect what we care about. In the film, Riley, the main character, grappled with difficult emotions associated with her family moving across the country. Her happy memories of childhood were hard to let go of, bringing about great sorrow and frustration. When we’re immersed in sadness or anger during life’s changes, it reflects our desire for closeness, connection, and contentment.

7. All emotions can be catalysts towards growth. When we meet a goal or experience success, the energy propels us to keep striving. When we make a mistake, or have setbacks, even though it can be a tough pill to swallow, the emotions generated can prompt us to take action towards improvement.

Inside Out provides a poignant reminder that when our emotional responses are strong in one area-whether joy or sorrow, we can’t magically switch gears. We also learn that these emotions are intricately connected, and you can’t have one without the other.

We are inevitably going to have powerful responses to our life circumstances. It takes time and effort to sort out our complex emotions and come to terms with change, loss and stressors. We can’t force ourselves to feel a certain way at a given moment, but knowing this can help us remember to make the joyful moments count and recognize that the more unsettling ones can also be useful.

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Insten White Hand Grip+Pink/Silver Headset Stereo+Clear Film Guard For Sony PS Vita PSV

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Music, Performance, and the Realities of Film: Shared Concert Experiences in Screen Fiction

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This book examines the relationship between narrative film and reality, as seen through the lens of on-screen classical concert performance. By investigating these scenes, wherein the performance of music is foregrounded in the narrative, Winters uncovers how concert performance reflexively articulates music’s importance to the ontology of film. The book asserts that narrative film of a variety of aesthetic approaches and traditions is no mere copy of everyday reality, but constitutes its own filmic reality, and that the music heard in a film’s underscore plays an important role in distinguishing film reality from the everyday. As a result, concert scenes are examined as sites for provocative interactions between these two realities, in which real-world musicians appear in fictional narratives, and an audience s suspension of disbelief is problematised. In blurring the musical experiences of onscreen observers and participants, these concert scenes also allegorize music s role in creating a shared subjectivity between film audience and character, and prompt Winters to propose a radically new vision of music s role in narrative cinema wherein musical underscore becomes part of a shared audio-visual space that may be just as accessible to the characters as the music they encounter in scenes of concert performance.

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Here Are All The Winners Of This Year’s Cannes Film Festival

CANNES, France (AP) — The 68th Cannes Film Festival was brought to a surprising close Sunday with Jacques Audiard’s Sri Lankan refugee drama taking the festival’s coveted top honor, the Palme d’Or.

The choice of “Dheepan,” as selected by a jury led by Joel and Ethan Coen, left some critics scratching their heads. While the dapper French filmmaker has drawn widespread acclaim for films such as “A Prophet” and “Rust and Bone,” some critics were disappointed by the thriller climax of Audiard’s film. “Dheepan” is about a trio of Sri Lankans who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country and are settled in a violent housing project outside Paris. “This isn’t a jury of film critics,” Joel Coen told reporters after the awards ceremony, alongside fellow jurors like Guillermo del Toro and Jake Gyllenhaal. “This is a jury of artists who are looking at the work.”

The win for “Dheepan” comes at a time when Europe is particularly attuned to the experience of immigrants, following the recent deaths of hundreds crossing the Mediterranean, seeking Italian shores. Jury members, though, said “Dheepan” was chosen for its overall strength as a film, rather than any topicality.

“We all thought it was a very beautiful movie,” said Ethan Coen, calling the decision “swift.” ”Everyone had some high level of excitement and enthusiasm for it.”

Audiard, springing to the podium at the Palais des Festivals, accepted the award with warm gratitude, bowing to the jury. He was joined by the makeshift parents of his film: Kalieaswari Srinivasan and Antonythasan Jesuthasan, who himself was Tamil Tiger child soldier before finding political asylum in France.

“To receive a prize from the Coen brothers is exceptional,” said Audiard, who added that only receiving one from the Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, the Belgian filmmaking siblings, could equal it.

The runner-up prize, the Grand Prix, went to “Son of Saul,” a grim Holocaust drama by first-time Hungarian director László Nemes. Some expected Nemes’ horrifying plunge into the life of an Auschwitz worker to take the top award, but it’s been 26 years since a debut film (Steven Soderbergh’s “Sex, Lies, and Videotape”) was given the Palme.

English actress Sienna Miller and Canadian actor Xavier Dolan, both jury members, sounded especially moved by “Son of Saul.” Miller called it “breathtaking” and an extraordinary accomplishment for a first-time filmmaker.

“Europe is still haunted by the destruction of the European Jews,” said Nemes. “That’s something that lives with us.”

Hou Hsiao-Hsien, the masterful 68-year-old Taiwanese filmmaker, won best director for his first feature in eight years: “The Assassin,” a lushly painterly martial arts drama.

The best actress prize was split but not the way some expected. It was given to both Rooney Mara, half of the romantic pair of Todd Haynes’ ’50s lesbian drama “Carol,” and Emmanuelle Bercot, the French star of the roller coaster marriage drama “My King.” (Bercot also directed the festival opener, “Standing Tall,” about a delinquent teenager.) Any split was presumed to go to Mara and her “Carol” co-star, Cate Blanchett.

Best actor was awarded to Vincent Lindon, the veteran French actor of Stéphane Brizé’s “The Measure of a Man.” He plays a man struggling to make a living after a long period of unemployment. The visibly moved Lindon won over some big-name competition, including Michael Caine, the star of Paolo Sorrentino’s unrewarded “Youth,” a wry, melancholy portrait of old age.

Lindon’s award added to a banner year at Cannes for France, which had five films out of the 19 in competition and went home with three awards.

Yorgos Lanthimos, a Greek filmmaker working in English for the first time, took the jury prize for his “The Lobster,” a deadpan dystopian comedy, starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, about a near-future where unmarried singles are turned into the animal of their choice.

“Chronic,” an understated drama about a home-care nurse (Tim Roth) for the terminally ill, took best screenplay for Mexican writer-director Michel Franco. Franco and Roth met three years ago when Roth, serving on a Cannes jury, helped award Franco the Un Certain Regard prize. “It’s a Cannes story,” said Franco.

The Camera d’Or, Cannes award for best first feature film, went to “La Tierra Y la Sombra.” César Augusto Acevedo’s debut, which played in the Critics Week section, is about an old farmer returning home to tend to his gravely ill son.

The Coens themselves took the Palme in 1991 for “Barton Fink.” The last two Cannes winners have been three-hour art-house epics: the glacial Turkish drama “Winter Sleep,” chosen last year by Jane Campion’s jury, and “Blue is the Warmest Color,” as picked by Steven Spielberg’s jury.

This year’s competition slate left some critics calling it a so-so year for Cannes. Some of the films that drew the biggest raves (“Mad Max: Fury Road,” Pixar’s “Inside Out”) played out of competition, while some in it (like Gus Van Sant’s “The Sea of Trees”) drew loud boos.

The festival was dominated by discussion about gender equality with many — from Blanchett to Jane Fonda — speaking about female opportunity in the movie business. “You hope it’s not just the year,” said Blanchett of the attention to women in film. “It’s not some sort of fashionable moment.” An honorary Palme d’Or was also given to French filmmaker Agnes Varda, the first woman to receive one and only the fourth director after Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood and Bernardo Bertolucci.

But the festival was overrun by an unlikely scandal when several women were turned away from the formal premiere of Todd Haynes’ “Carol” for wearing flat shoes, rather than high heels. The festival insisted it was the mistake of overzealous security guards and not part of Cannes’ notoriously strict dress code.

The festival, as it often is, was dominated by the unexpected, even on its last night. Nothing was more unforeseen — not even the Palme for “Dheepan” — than John C. Reilly, a co-star of “The Lobster” and another competition entry, “Tale of Tales,” took the stage to sing “Just a Gigolo” in a bright white suit.

___

AP’s Thomas Adamson contributed to this report.

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Amy Schumer And Paul Feig Teaming Up For New Film

Life is good when all your favorite people team up to make something cool. Amy Schumer will co-write and star in a mother-daughter comedy, with Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids,” “The Heat”) producing, The Hollywood Reporter learned on Friday.

According to THR, Schumer and her sister Kim Caramele will rework a script that was already written by Katie Dippold, who has signed on to write the all-female “Ghostbusters” with Feig. Specifics, like a title and a plot, about the mother-daughter comedy are unknown, but THR reports that it’s an “action-comedy” that focuses on a “vacation gone wrong.”

Schumer collaborated with Judd Apatow on her latest film, “Trainwreck,” which is due out later this summer. Yes please, to all of this.

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Apichatpong Werasethakul’s ‘Cemetery of Splendour’: A Dream Film at Cannes

To watch an Apichatpong Werasethakul film is to be lulled into a dream state. His latest film, Cemetery of Splendour, which premiered at Cannes this week, immerses you in a surreal, and yet real, world on the line of wakefulness and sleep: literally a hospital (once a schoolhouse), in the Thai town of Khon Kaen, where 40 soldiers are interned for “sleeping sickness,” occasionally waking only to tumble into slumber, even mid-meal. Jenjira, a middle-aged woman with a damaged leg, takes care of one of these sleeping soldiers, a comatose man named Itt. For much of the film, she is patiently kneeling by Itt’s bedside, and caressing his hand.

The spectator drifts into a quiet state with the palm trees swaying in the windows, the cicadas chirping, the sounds of the fan. At one point, a woman comes to the hospital to teach mediation: “Feel the energy of the stars,” she says soothingly. “And bring that energy inside you.” As she spoke, I did the same in my chair.

The surreal aspect is upped step-by-step. A pretty young medium comes and communicates with the unconscious of the soldiers, confiding to Jen that the soldiers’ souls have been taken by a warrior emperor to fight his battles, one thousand years before. The hospital, she states, is built on the remains of a cemetery of kings. Later this winsome medium takes Jenjira through a forest, pointing to the leafy ground: The site, she says, of palace rooms, which the sleeping Itt seems to have mapped out with strange squares and circles in a notebook. In another scene, Jenjira travels to pray at a shrine, laying down figurines as offerings. Two young girls come to thank her for her offering; they are princesses of the shrine, they tell her. 1,000-year-old princesses. Indeed, they are dead. enjira lifts an eyebrow.

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At times, the film becomes a series of beautiful installation pieces, playing with color and light to enhance the limbo of dreaminess. My favorite sequence is that of a series of shots of the lit town at night: a neon light over a bus-stop, illuminating a poster of a wedding studio advertisement, and the night “therapy” lights on the sleeping soldiers (designed by the director), that look like long fluorescent loops and change from blue to green to red.

I also like the random images that don’t make sense. A machine in the lake that spits up brilliant drops of water. A giant amoeba floating in the sky. The men at the side of the lake who suddenly stand up and move in various formations. A movie theater where, at the conclusion of the film, the entire audience stands up, as if in military salute.

The director has noted that many of the images in the film are those of his own memories in this town: the local movie theater, the school classroom we see in ruins, the brightly lit night market where the medium and Jenjira chat and eat. A Cemetery of Splendour is a collage of his native Thailand, the layered memories of the past, both his own and that of the nation.

Still, there is something unsettling about this dream. Everyone seems to be waiting. But waiting for what? Something — beyond cemeteries — is buried under the surface. While the images are serene and whimsical, I intuited a disturbing subtext to this hynoptic world — especially since Apichatpong Werasethakul introduced the premiere, on stage, by speaking about how difficult it was in Thailand now, living under a dictatorship.

I met with the director to discuss.

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Could you please explain the contemporary context of Thailand, for a non-Thai audience?

Thailand has a lot of coup d’etats, repeatedly. Every time it happens a lot of people die; the last one was just last year, in May, when the military took over. Now, if you say something against the government, they will convoke you to “Attitude Adjustment”. You have to sign something that says you will not say anything again.

Why this emphasis on sleep and dreaming in your film?

I have been interested for the last five years in sleeping and dreaming. For me, the act of sleeping is an act of escape, and that is what is going on now in Thailand: One wants to escape from the country. Sometimes you feel very powerless, in that all you can do is go away. I work on many projects, art projects. Sometimes you cannot deal with reality, and you don’t know if it is a dream. Sometimes the situation in Thailand is so absurd and so violent that I feel threatened…

There are a lot of random elements in the film, that don’t entirely make sense. Could you please explain, for example, why everyone suddenly stands up to salute in the theater?

Because we are always standing up in Thailand! We have to stand up at eight in the morning for the National Anthem.

Why the palace in the forest? Why the cemetery under the hospital?

Thailand is a young country, with many layers of civilizations: the Kingdom of Laos, the Khmer of Cambodia. I want to present those layers of history. We don’t live in only one reality, but in different layers of memories. I want the film to reflect on and lament the ruins of past kingdoms. In Thailand, we do not know the roots of who we are. We have been taught propaganda history in school: “We are the best,” etc. Did you note that image in my film of the bas relief of soldiers? It was a wall created to commemorate a prime minister who died a long time ago, Sarit Thanarat. He was a total dictator. He embezzled a lot of money. Along the way, he killed people. The town is still celebrating him!

Your film, like your previous films, has ghosts and other supernatural elements…

In this region of Thailand, we are very superstitious. We are Hindu, Animistic. You believe in the invisible. People live in the fantastic. I will give you an example: A road once cracked in the village. It became a very strange shape. People put candles on the crack and started to pray. They believe in the spirit; they need to worship the invisible.

But do you believe in the other-worldly elements in your film: The ghost princesses who come to Jenjira, for example?

(AW laughs) Oh, I think it is all nonsense. For me, it is a joke. But the character is ready to believe they are phantoms. Many Thai people believe in phantoms — it is so funny how people are ready to believe in anything. But in my film, there is no judgement. As for me, I am interested in the different parallel universes, of time and space.

What is that machine spitting water bubbles in the lake, and why do you have such a lengthy close-up on it?

(AW laughs) Oh, that is a water propeller, a machine to keep oxygen in the water, for the equilibrium in the water, so it does not go bad. Why did I put it in? Oh, I grew up with it; it was always there in the water. And the soldiers are like the fish: They, too, need oxygen. Water is life, the cycle.

What is everyone waiting for in this film?

They are waiting to wake up.

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Newlyweds Nikki Reed And Ian Somerhalder Are Beyond Glamorous At The Cannes Film Festival

Newlyweds Nikki Reed and Ian Somerhalder were the picture of grace and glamour on Wednesday as they walked the red carpet at the 68th annual Cannes Film Festival.

The couple showed up for the premiere of “Youth” and Reed dazzled in a midnight blue, backless gown by Azzaro, while Somerhalder looked dapper in a black tux. The couple tied the knot last month, and are clearly still in the honeymoon phase.

nikki reed ian

nikki reed ian

nikki reed

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“Yes, And”: What Making an Independent Film Taught Me About Identity, Fear and Self-Worth as a Woman

In acting, the first rule of improvisation is to say, “Yes, AND”, the idea behind it being that a scene can only move forward if you first accept the circumstances around you, and then add to them. “Yes, AND” allows for collaboration. “Yes, AND” fosters imagination. “Yes, AND” instigates progress.

For a long time, my life felt like one “No” after another. I wanted to be an actor but couldn’t even get an audition, never mind an actual role. I was working four jobs and just barely getting by. I was definitely more “starving” than “artist”.

I was losing the “game” that is getting work as an actor. The truth is that I wasn’t trying very hard to play it. I didn’t like the rules. As a woman, I felt like I was expected to live up to an imaginary ideal perpetuated by the oversimplified narrative most female characters are placed into. I remember one particularly painful audition that required all the actresses to bring bikinis with them. Usually I would have fled from kind of request, but it was for a reputable graduate film program so, (against my better judgement) I went. I made it to the “please put your bathing suit on” phase and was then given a scene that required me to violently assault my scene partner. I asked if we could practice once or twice, just to make sure no one got hurt. Or perhaps I could just show my half-naked rage through my words? I was dismissed and received an email a few days later saying that I was “too aristocratic” for the part. I was tempted to reply “Are you sure you didn’t mean ‘too smart’?”

I thought getting an agent would help my situation, but was told again and again that I was not a “type” and therefore un-castable. It would be more accurate to say that I am not a “type” that fits into the mainstream representation of women. Where were the stories and roles that I identified with? I was stuck.

But then I got a text from my good friend, Will Sullivan. It read:

“I want to shoot a movie this summer. All improv. For zero budget. Will you produce and star in it?”

In that moment, the answer seemed obvious to me. YES. Had I ever produced a film before? No. Did I have any idea what this movie was going to be about? Of course not. But what did I have to lose?

So I said Yes. And it was in my power to make it happen. It was time to choose my own narrative.

We decided to make a film about relationships – not about falling in love, but about what it takes to make love last. Will and our cinematographer, Derek Dodge, wrote the story outline, but there was never a set script. It was up to the actors to create their own dialogue and define the arc of each scene. I had the freedom to craft a character who was in a state of change and therefore undefined by any mold. The experience was transformative for me, not only as an actor and first time producer, but as a young woman who felt like she needed to re-define her sense of self. It scared me, so I knew it was important.

My greatest obstacle has always been fear. Fear of imperfection, fear of being wrong, fear of failing. This project taught me that there is no better cure for fear than action. As we hurtled towards production, I oscillated between thrill and absolute terror. I had no idea what I was doing but I had to do it anyway. Everyday I woke up feeling like I was in full relevé on the edge of a cliff. The only way to forward was to jump. There were moments of soaring and moments of falling hard on my face. I learned, though, that even if I fell, at least I had found the ground. I could get up and keep going. Three days before our shoot started, I cut off all my hair. I did it for the part, but I also did it for me. While the deed itself was superficial, it symbolized the letting go of an image I felt I was expected to fit into. I was released from who I thought I should be, and free to figure out who I could be.

What started as a text message is now a feature film, That’s Not Us, set to be released later this year. Making it was a gift of self-discovery – as a leader, as a woman, as an artist, and as an imperfect being who still has much to learn. I had the privilege of being able to make mistakes and learn by doing. To me, that is the true essence of independent film. It’s about creating work on your own terms, exploding the mold, and saying “yes, and” to the opportunities that come with attempting the unknown.

That’s Not Us premieres at the Inside Out Film Festival in Toronto on May 23rd, 2015. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, or visit their website at www.thatsnotus.com

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The Madeira Film Festival: Cinema Paraíso

The international film scene is dotted with a series of spectacular events — from the glitz of Cannes to the slopes of Sundance to Toronto and Tribeca — to more intimate festivals everywhere from Sarajevo to Missoula, Montana.

The Madeira Film Festival is one of the scene’s hidden gems. The festival on the Portuguese Island of Madeira, which just completed its 4th edition from April 27th to May 3rd, offered a celebration of all that is best in cinema in a setting that can only be described as paradise — or paraíso in Portuguese.

Dedicated to the preservation of the Madeira’s indigenous Laurisilva forest, the festival highlighted 17 feature films and 39 shorts from across the globe — all accompanied by glass after glass of the island’s namesake Madeira wine. (Madeira wine actually has strong roots in America; the Founding Fathers had a particular affinity for it, even using it to toast the Declaration of Independence.)

A non-competitive event, where each entrant receives an award dedicated to their role in preserving Madeira’s forest, the festival showcases a series of mostly independent films that focus on nature. As the festival founder Aitken Pearson said, “it’s not merely about the premier of the latest film — it’s a celebration of nature.”

Madeira itself offers the perfect setting. A lush, 309 square-mile island off the west coast of Africa first colonized by the Portuguese in 1419, the landscape resembles a seeming hybrid of the Mediterranean and Southeast Asia.

Verdant hills — many of them dotted with terraces for growing citrus, mangoes, bananas, and other tropical fruit — rise up from the ocean to a height of up to 6,106 feet at Pico Ruivo, the highest peak on Madeira and the third highest in Portugal. The hills are sometimes shrouded in clouds rolling in from the ocean. From the peaks themselves, you are often above the clouds.

Madeira’s Laurisilva forest is itself spectacular and unique. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the forest is the largest surviving area of the previously widespread laurel forests, which covered much of Europe in prehistoric times. Its trees are a captivating collection of shapes and sizes — as if Dr. Seuss had been inspired to sketch a landscape by the ancient spirits that many believe still inhabit the trees.

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The island’s natural wonders make for a film festival that not only showcases amazing art, but is also a destination for artists looking to enjoy the outdoors. Films ran from 2pm to 11pm most nights, with morning excursions arranged for participants including off-road adventures, canyoneering down a river valley, and sailing around the island in search of dolphins.

Madeira’s main city, Funchal, where a majority of the island’s nearly 300,000 residents and 1.5 million annual visitors base themselves, is both quaint and cosmopolitan. With neighborhoods dotted by red-tiled roofs extending up the hillsides, bougainvillea in full bloom, and world-class cuisine, Funchal is reminiscent of a Portuguese Monte Carlo– complete with an old-world casino– only at a fraction of the cost. (A multi-course feast, complete with soup, salad, skewered meat or fish, side dishes, and an array of wines, can cost as little as 15 Euro at many restaurants in town).

The festival itself is set in two venues: the Teatro Municipal Baltazar Dias, Funchal’s main theater, built in 1888; and Belmond Reid’s Palace Hotel, an old-world resort first built in 1891 that has hosted everyone from Winston Churchill to Roger Moore to George Bernard Shaw. Reflecting Madeira’s longstanding relationship with the English — the Anglo-Portuguese alliance is the oldest one in the world — the hotel has a distinct British feel. Imagine the Grand Budapest Hotel, if it was still in peak form and geared towards a clientele speaking Queen’s: afternoon tea is still an honored tradition.

The hotel has also served as temporary home to an array of notable guests, including a number of deposed leaders who used it as their home in exile, including Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista and Austro-Hungarian Emperor Karl von Habsburg.

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Opening night at the festival set the stage for what was to be an entertaining week. A cocktail reception at Reid’s featuring, of course, Madeira wine and other regional specialties soon gave way to a parade of antique cars. The parade was led by two traditional Madeiran riders on horseback to honor the festival’s first feature film, Of Horses and Men by Icelandic director Benedikt Erlingsson.

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The movie was an absolute masterpiece. Set in rural Iceland, it tells the intertwined story of humans and horses struggling to survive in a harsh environment. The film is above all a love story between its two main human characters, a man and a woman on adjoining farms. But it intersperses all the drama of rural life: prying and sometimes feuding neighbors, alcoholism, sexual intrigue — and that’s just among the people. Much of the film is seen through the eyes of horses, their own experiences reflecting that of the human characters.

Erlingsson was in attendance and spoke afterwards to a rapturous audience of how as a native of Reykjavik, his summers in what he called Iceland’s “brutal” interior had a tremendous impact on his art and view of nature and humankind.

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The opening film laid the groundwork for a spectacular week of cinema.

One of my favorite screenings was of Garnet’s Gold by British documentarian Ed Perkins. From the two-time Academy Award winning producer of Searching for Sugar Man and Man on Wire, Garnet’s Gold follows Garnet Frost, an extraordinary man on a quixotic adventure in search of hidden treasure, in what amounts to a belated rite of passage to rediscover the meaning of his life.

It is a sublimely beautiful and moving film that was recently screened by the BBC, and is currently screening in film festivals around the world. Perkins and Frost were both in attendance at Madeira, where it received rave reviews. Perkins commented, “it has been an enormous privilege to screen our film at the wonderful Madeira Film Festival. I always saw Garnet’s story as a mirror into which we see our own hopes and dreams and fears projected, and it is very humbling that the film appears to be resonating so strongly with people.”

Another favorite of mine was Beneath Water, a short drama/fantasy film by 20-year-old British director, writer, and producer Charlie Manton. Starring British actress Louisa Connolly-Burnham and American actress Miranda Wilson, the story takes place on the one year anniversary of a traumatic event and focuses on a mother and daughter’s struggle to move on. The film is set in Missouri, and is a memorable exploration of a family overcoming tragedy.

The festival not only featured great films, but tremendous artists in other media as well. American singer Natalie Gelman did a series of acoustic performances throughout the festival. Both sunny and soulful, Gelman sang a series of original songs, many of which are sure to become classics. She also sang a medley of covers such as a version of “One Fine Day” that was more tragic and moving than earlier versions by the Chiffons, Carole King, or Natalie Merchant. Her original song “Some People” ought to generate its own slew of covers. It is a classic in the making, capturing the essence of America and the globe’s current “Gilded Age”, with its chorus that “some people are so poor…all they have is money”.

Gelman herself was touched by the festival, saying, “this is a film festival to go to if you want to be inspired. I have been to some of the largest film festivals like Sundance and Tribeca and I’ve been to quite a few small town film festivals – the Madeira Film Festival has the best of both worlds. Loads of talent like those larger festivals with the community and camaraderie of something you would find in a small town. “

Another spectacular performance came from Ballet Teatro Paz, a contemporary dance company from the Azores, Portugal’s other Atlantic archipelago. They performed their piece “Trees Die Standing”, choreographed by Milagres Paz. A haunting dance set to classical music, the piece is, according to the dance company, “based on the parallel between the physical death of trees and the spiritual death of Man.”

With only four years under its belt, the festival is aiming to move to the next level. Next year’s festival will be dedicated not only to the preservation of the forest but to that of the ocean as well.

“My original vision for the Madeira Film Festival was that it would serve as a platform for independent filmmakers to share their work in a most conducive setting,” festival founder Aitken said.

“Four years later I realize that the Madeira Film Festival is actually a reward for independent artists by virtue of an enjoyable, fun and to a degree luxurious week on Madeira where they can forge personal and business relationships very easily. We anticipate to further enhance the festival by inviting up to 100 industry delegates each year during the event to participate in a glamorous networking soiree, capitalizing on the merits the Madeira Film Festival has created and grown into.”

Ari Ratner is an independent writer based in Washington, DC. Arranged by the Madeira Film Festival, he received highly discounted airfare to travel from Boston to Madeira on Sata International, a Portuguese airline and festival sponsor, as well as accommodations from Belmont Reid’s Palace Hotel, another festival sponsor. Follow him on Twitter @amratner.

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Natalie Portman Will Play Ruth Bader Ginsburg In New Film

Natalie Portman is set to play Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a new biopic, according to reports from Deadline and Entertainment Weekly.

Portman will take on the role in the upcoming film “On The Basis of Sex,” about the obstacles Ginsburg faced during her decades of work toward equal rights for women. “Diary Of A Teenage Girl” director Marielle Heller is in negotiations to direct the biopic.

Ginsburg, who was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, was only the second woman, and the first Jewish woman, to sit on the court.

Nearly 40 years before, Ginsburg was one of just nine women in her class of 500 at Harvard Law School. She finished her studies at Columbia Law School, after moving to New York for her husband’s job, and graduated tied for valedictorian in 1959.

Despite her remarkable academic achievement, Ginsburg was unable to land a clerkship with Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter because Frankfurter said that he was not yet ready to hire a woman. She went on to found the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. As the ACLU’s general counsel from 1972 to 1980, she worked on landmark cases before the Supreme Court that led to the removal of laws that treated men and women differently.

Ginsburg was the principal author of a brief on behalf of a female plaintiff in a case called Reed v. Reed, in which the court struck down an Idaho law that said only men could be administrators of an estate. It was the first time the court applied the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection, to laws that discriminated based on sex.

She also helped establish the “intermediate scrutiny” standard, which the Supreme Court now uses to review laws that discriminate based on gender.

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Don’t Miss Provincetown’s Film Festival, An Unofficially Queer Cultural Event By The Beach

Unassuming is the name of the game in P-town, a quirky beach community at the tip of Cape Cod. But the Provincetown International Film Festival, now in its 17th year, consistently delivers one of the finest cultural events in the region. As always, a delightfully queer lineup underscores the outstanding selection of narrative features, documentaries and shorts.

The festival kicks off on June 17 with writer-director Leslye Headland’s “Sleeping with Other People,” exploring the complexities of monogamy. From James Franco, “I Am Michael,” the dramatization of a buzzy 2011 New York Times article about gay activist Michael Glatze, closes out the week on June 21.

“The independent filmmaking community continues to produce remarkably high quality work, here and abroad, and our feature lineup is a testament to that!” said Connie White, artistic director of PIFF. “We are thrilled to welcome these new films and filmmakers to Provincetown in June, and we know that filmgoers will be engaged and entertained by these adventurous, thought-provoking and accomplished films.”

The lineup for PIFF 2015:

Opening Night Selection
“Sleeping with Other People” — directed by Leslye Headland
sleeping with other people

Closing Night Selection
“I Am Michael” — directed by Justin Kelly
i am michael

Spotlight Selections
“The End of the Tour” — directed by James Ponsoldt
the end of the tour

“Grandma” — directed by Paul Weitz

“Tab Hunter Confidential” — directed by Jeffrey Schwartz

Narrative Features
“99 Homes” — directed by Ramin Bahrani

“Beatbox” — directed by Andrew Dresher

“Breathe” — directed by Mélanie Laurent

“Fresno” — directed by Jamie Babbit

“Funny Bunny” — directed by Alison Bagnall

“Learning to Drive” — directed by Isabel Coixet

“A Little Chaos” — directed by Alan Rickman

“Meet Me In Montenegro” — directed by Alex Holdridge and Linnea Saasen

“Nasty Baby” – directed by Sebastián Silva

“The New Girlfriend” — directed by François Ozon

“People, Places, Things” — directed by James C. Strouse

“Radiator” — directed by Tom Browne

“The Second Mother” — directed by Anna Muylaert

“Shaun the Sheep” — directed by Mark Burton and Richard Starzak

The Stanford Prison Experiment” — directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez

“The Summer of Sangaile” — directed by Alanté Kavaïté

“Tangerine” — directed by Sean Baker

“Ten Thousand Saints” — directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini

“Those People” — directed by Joey Kuhn

“Tired Moonlight” — directed by Britni West

“Wildlike” — directed by Frank Hall Green

“Yosemite” — directed by Gabrielle Demeestere

Documentary Features
“Alentejo, Alentejo” — directed by Sérgio Tréfaut

“The Armor of Light” — directed by Abigail E. Disney

“Best of Enemies” — directed by Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville

“The Birth of Saké” — directed by Erik Shirai

“Call Me Lucky” — directed by Bobcat Goldthwait

“City of Gold” — directed by Laura Gabbert

“Clambake” — directed by Andrea Meyerson

“Danny Says” — directed by Brendan Toller

“Do I Sound Gay?” — directed by David Thorpe

“Harry & Snowman” — directed by Ron Davis

“In My Father’s House” — directed by Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg

“Larry Kramer In Love with Anger” — directed by Jean Carlomusto

“Listen to Me Marlon” — directed by Stevan Riley

Live From New York!” — directed by Bao Nguyen

“Love Between the Covers” — directed by Laurie Kahn-Leavitt

“Out to Win” — directed by Malcolm Ingram

“Outermost Radio” — directed by Alan Chebot

“Packed In a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson” — directed by Michelle Boyaner

“Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict” — directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland

“The State of Marriage” — directed by Jeffrey Kaufman

“The Wolfpack” — directed by Crystal Moselle

The 17th annual Provincetown International Film Festival takes place June 17-21 in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

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9 Tidbits From George Lucas’ Chat With Stephen Colbert At The Tribeca Film Festival

The chance to see George Lucas discuss his career ranked fairly high in our Tribeca Film Festival priorities, especially with Stephen Colbert conducting the interview. Apparently we weren’t alone: The festival sold out one of its largest flagship auditoriums for Friday’s hour-long panel, part of the Tribeca Talks series, and spectators lined up with posters and DVDs for the “Star Wars” overlord to autograph. Inside, it took no time at all to realize there is very little the 70-year-old Lucas hasn’t already been asked about his well-documented career.

Even an adept moderator (and “Star Wars” obsessive) like Colbert couldn’t squeeze out many fresh tidbits from the talkative director, though he did display his signature wit throughout, particularly when Lucas sneezed and Colbert responded by saying, “May The Force be with you.” These guys! So silly!

But even the nerdiest of “Star Wars” fans can stand to revisit morsels about the iconic franchise — and hey, maybe there’s even something in here that you didn’t already know. Here are nine quickies from Friday’s conversation:

1. George Lucas is not a fan of being a celebrity. He’s happy to wear sneakers and avoid Hollywood galas, which has prompted some in the industry to liken him to the reclusive Howard Hughes.

2. There’s at least one downside to directing “Star Wars.” “The one thing I regret about doing ‘Star Wars’ is I never got to see it,” Lucas said when asked whether he’s anticipating “The Force Awakens,” which opens in December. “I never got that thrill.”

3. “American Graffiti” started as a dare from Francis Ford Coppola. The duo became pals after Lucas won a scholarship in film school that allowed him to work on a Warner Bros. project of his choosing. He selected “Finian’s Rainbow,” Coppola’s 1968 musical starring Fred Astaire and Petula Clark. (Coppola was 29 when “Rainbow” opened; Lucas was 24.)

In 1969, the directors opened their own studio, American Zoetrope, which released Lucas’ infamous 1971 sci-fi flop “THX 1138.” (It was a joint venture with Warner Bros., which “told Francis Ford Coppola and me, ‘We want our money back,'” Lucas said. In order to pay off that $ 350,000, Coppola made a little film called “The Godfather.”) Coppola then told Lucas to lay off the experimental “robot” stuff, daring him to write a comedy instead. Confident he could do it, Lucas channeled his California youth to write “American Graffiti,” which went on to earn five Oscar nominations and become 1973’s third-highest grossing movie across North America.

4. Lucas is fully aware of what you think about his most recent “Star Wars” scripts. “I’m notorious for wooden dialogue,” Lucas said, presumably referring to criticism that defined the franchise’s second trilogy. Frankly, he doesn’t care, largely because dialogue, in his mind, is secondary to visuals and sound. In keeping, he considers “Star Wars” a silent film that generates meaning from its movement. “You could be 2 years old and not understand what anyone’s saying, but still understand the movie,” he said.

5. The only one of Lucas’ director friends who supported “Star Wars” was Steven Spielberg. Lucas’ posse includes Brian De Palma and Martin Scorsese, but Spielberg was the only one who said “Star Wars” would be a hit after Lucas screened it for his buddies. De Palma, who released “Carrie” a year before 1977’s “A New Hope” opened, instead asked, “What the hell is The Force?”

6. Lucas learned of the “Star Wars” momentum from a news report. Alan Ladd Jr. was the producer who gave “Star Wars” the green light, and he remained Lucas’ only supporter when 20th Century Fox wanted to nix production due to escalating budgets and location snafus. Lucas insisted Ladd wait a few weeks after “A New Hope” opened to gauge its performance, once the movie could transcend the fanatics who will show up for any sci-fi flick. A week after the movie hit theaters, Lucas was on vacation in Hawaii when he saw a CBS news story showcasing the fandom that had already erupted — it was then that he grasped its proliferating impact.

7. But Lucas never wanted to make Hollywood blockbusters. He was interested in experimental films, à la “THX 1138.” Today, he says he’s retired and tinkering around with the type of movies that studios didn’t want him to make. “They’ll probably never get released,” he joked. “I’m just screwing around in my garage.” He can afford to screw around because he worked to secure “Star Wars” sequel rights from 20th Century Fox after “A New Hope” became a hit. “That’s how I got to be rich,” he said, smiling.

8. As of Friday, Lucas hadn’t seen the latest “Force Awakens” trailer. And he has no idea what the new movie is about, despite receiving a “creative consultant” credit. (He didn’t watch the first teaser until almost two months after it debuted.) “I’m excited, I have no idea what they’re doing,” he said. The original, however, remains a family saga — his intent was to make a movie about “the father, the children, the grandchildren.”

9. Lucas thinks Colbert should replace Jon Stewart. “Don’t you think the perfect choice to replace that Jon Stewart fella would have been you? And now you’re working at ‘Late Show,’ where nobody sees you,” Lucas quipped, to which Colbert responded by saying that he was previously on at 11:30 p.m. and will now be on at 11:35. He never wanted to take Stewart’s gig because he would forever live “underneath his shadow.”

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“Of Men and War” Film Review

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The above photo was taken on August 22nd 2010 at Domaine Chandon in Yountville, California. I was celebrating my 44th birthday with some champagne, a lovely meal of local fresh vegetables and cheese, the New York Times, and pleasant conversation with my girlfriend.

Unbeknownst to me, at the same time less than half of a mile away Laurent Bécue-Renard was at the Pathway Home shooting his staggeringly brilliant documentary “Of Men and War.” Once you see this harrowing film you will understand what a stark juxtaposition our lives are from the live of soldiers who have served in combat. The freedoms we enjoy such as drinking champagne, eating lovely meals, reading the New York Times, and freely conversing with loved ones are often taken for granted.

I was perturbed by the article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine section a few weeks ago “Please Don’t Thank Me For My Service” because I am one of those idiots who often thanks young men and women in uniform when they sit near me on airplanes or when I see them in public. Whether I believe in the reasons for these wars or not – or whether I believe that war is ever necessary or not – does not detract from the fact that these people are risking their lives every day so that we can benefit from the freedoms that we enjoy in America.

Watching “Of Men and War” and listening to these men recount the horrors that they have witnessed – sometimes at their own hands – is heartbreaking. As Elaine Scarry discusses in “The Body in Pain,” language cannot convey the atrocities that these men have survived and thus they feel marginalized and alienated.

The symptoms of their PTSD range from uncontrollable anger to self-loathing to alcoholism and almost none of these men can imagine reintegrating into society after experiencing the horrors of war. On the other hand, it is heartwarming to know that these men have a place to go and commune with other soldiers who also suffer from PTSD so that they do not blow their brains out like so many veterans do – according to CNN and many new sources 22 veterans commit suicide every day in America.

“Of Men and War” premiered in the Official Selection of the Cannes Film Festival and I commend François Truffart for programming this unsettling documentary as part of the COLCOA Film Festival at the DGA in Los Angeles on Friday April 24th. “Of Men and War” is a provocative film. It is a brave film. It is an honest film. And it is a film that every American should see.
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IWC Schaffhausen to Sponsor Tribeca Film Festival Again

MOVIE TIME: IWC Schaffhausen and the Tribeca Film Festival are going for the complete hat trick. For the third year, the Swiss luxury watch manufacturer has signed on as the official “festival-time” partner of the New York-based film festival, which runs from April 15 to 26. To mark the partnership, IWC has created a one-of-a-kind timepiece, called the Portofino Monopusher Edition “Tribeca Film Festival 2015.” The watch features a white gold case set against a slate-colored dial, with bordeaux colored subdials inspired by Hollywood’s red carpet. The casebook of the piece features the logo of the Tribeca Film Festival, as well. The one-off piece will be auctioned off through Christie’s, in an online-only auction taking place from April 1 to 10, with all proceeds going to the Tribeca Film Institute, the festival’s nonprofit affiliate. “The Tribeca Film Institute has proved year in and year out to be one of the world’s premier charitable organizations when it comes to nurturing and elevating young filmmakers,” said Georges Kern, chief executive officer of IWC. The winner of the auction will also receive VIP access to the festival itself, as well as an invitation to the annual “For The Love of Cinema” dinner, hosted

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Does Tom Ford Have a New Film?

Ford’s Next Film?: A spokeswoman for Tom Ford declined to comment Wednesday on a Hollywood Reporter story that Ford has written and will direct “Nocturnal Animals,” a screen adaption of 1993 novel called “Tony and Susan,” by the late novelist Austin Wright. The report noted that George Clooney is set to produce the project together with Grant Heslov, his partner at Smokehouse Pictures. The publication described the book as a “postmodern noir thriller,” whose subject is a woman who receives a book manuscript from her ex-husband of 20 years. The narrative then follows both the path of the manuscript and the story of the woman reading it. The project would be a second film outing for Ford, who made a splash in 2009 with his directorial debut “A Single Man,” which he wrote as an adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s novel of the same name. Colin Firth went on to be nominated for an Oscar for his leading role in the film. Ford began the film project after leaving his role as creative director for Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent in 2004, before launching his own Tom Ford label in 2005.

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SXSW Video – Movie Review: The Boy (2015) – Film Festival Video HD

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John Malkovich Directs St. Regis Istanbul Film

MALKOVICH’S MARK: The St. Regis Istanbul opened its doors earlier this week and to mark the occasion, the hotel group recruited actor and filmmaker John Malkovich to write and direct a short film, which was screened at the private members club 5 Hertford Street in London on Tuesday night. Champagne and Bloody Marys, which were first invented at the St. Regis New York’s King Cole Bar, were served to guests including the film’s stars — Julian Sands and Turkish actress Belçim Bilgin — as well as Tom Hollander, Bella Freud, Detmar Blow, Martha Fiennes and Stephen Frears.
In the film, Sands plays a screenwriter who travels to Istanbul in search of inspiration and hires a private tour guide, played by Bilgin, to introduce him to the city’s sights, sounds and flavors. The five-minute short has no dialogue; instead the audience hears voiceovers by the stars repeating, “I am listening to Istanbul.” For Malkovich, making a travelogue about this city that he’s visited often was not a stretch.
“Istanbul is a huge, massive city and often very noisy, but there are certainly a lot of sounds I do like there and some of them are in this film,” he said. “What I love

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John Malkovich Directs St. Regis Istanbul Film

MALKOVICH’S MARK: The St. Regis Istanbul opened its doors earlier this week and to mark the occasion, the hotel group recruited actor and filmmaker John Malkovich to write and direct a short film, which was screened at the private members club 5 Hertford Street in London on Tuesday night. Champagne and Bloody Marys, which were first invented at the St. Regis New York’s King Cole Bar, were served to guests including the film’s stars — Julian Sands and Turkish actress Belçim Bilgin — as well as Tom Hollander, Bella Freud, Detmar Blow, Martha Fiennes and Stephen Frears.
In the film, Sands plays a screenwriter who travels to Istanbul in search of inspiration and hires a private tour guide, played by Bilgin, to introduce him to the city’s sights, sounds and flavors. The five-minute short has no dialogue; instead the audience hears voiceovers by the stars repeating, “I am listening to Istanbul.” For Malkovich, making a travelogue about this city that he’s visited often was not a stretch.
“Istanbul is a huge, massive city and often very noisy, but there are certainly a lot of sounds I do like there and some of them are in this film,” he said. “What I love

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Rosie O’Donnell Takes on Brian Williams at the Athena Film Festival

The irrepressible Rosie O’Donnell could not help herself. Coaxed to do stand up on the not funny subject of her heart attack by HBO’s Sheila Nevins, the television star created a routine that is more than the heartfelt in its title, “Rosie O’Donnell: A Heartfelt Standup,” it’s a PSA for women, a wake-up call to the astonishing fact that the leading killer of women is not breast or ovarian cancer, but heart disease. After a special screening at the Athena Film Festival, a panel of doctors weighed in on heart health for women offering tips for prevention. O’Donnell created a mantra for detection, HEPPP: Hot, exhausted, pain, pale, puke, which she made into an infectious ditty. When someone in the audience told her own heart story, O’Donnell strained to find a place for H, an added symptom of heartburn.

Rosie being Rosie, she could not help herself. Topical, she took swipes as Brian Williams. “Oh yeah, and I wrote and directed A League of their Own. Oops, I forgot, I only acted in that movie,” she quipped. Though she says she is leaving The View because of her health, Rosie seems in top form, casting a roving eye on the young women filmmakers in the crowd. “Ooh, did you feel something? I felt it. You may be my next wife.”

A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.
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They Are Wearing: Sundance Film Festival

On the streets of Park City.

Skinny jeans or leather leggings and slim sweaters, topped by puffy parkas, fur jackets, or tailored wool coats once again ruled on Main Street.

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Not Ready for the NFL Season to End? Visit These Football Film Locations

The best part of any sports movie is the inspirational speech right before The Big Game. Whether it's the Super Bowl or Little League, there's nothing a good, old-fashioned motivational speech can't fix! If watching the classic pep talks from these famous football films still isn't enough to pump you up, then maybe checking out some of the locations where they shot the movies will do the trick instead. 

2015-01-26-footballmoviefilminglocations.jpg

Remember the Titans

In the movie, which is (loosely) based on a true story, Coach Herman Boone takes his team, newly integrated and struggling to bond, on a run and then proceeds to give what is easily one of the top three inspirational sports pump-up speeches at Gettysburg National Military Park — although reportedly, shots were filmed at Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, which makes sense because a lot of the movie was shot in Georgia. 

The Replacements

You could visit Ohio Stadium, since Keanu Reeves' character, Shane Falco, was a former Ohio State QB who choked in his final game and was never able to go pro, or you could visit the Baltimore Ravens' home M&T Bank Stadium, also known as "Nextel Stadium" home of the "Washington Sentinals". Just don't expect any strippers-turned-cheerleaders.

Any Given Sunday

If the NFL doesn't have enough drama for you, then inserting yourself into the semi-alternate universe of Any Given Sunday, where the AFFA league rules and you can see the fictional California Crusaders play at, ironically, Florida's Sun Life Stadium. The Orange Bowl and Texas Stadium, where the fictional Miami Sharks and Dallas Knights played, respectively, have been demolished. It's like they don't even care about the fake history behind the fields!

Jerry Maguire

First, swing by Dorothy's House, and then after your agent shows you the money you can go treat yourself and your date to a nice meal at Paco's Tacos Cantina — and be sure to sit by the fish tank like Jerry and Dorothy if you can swing it.

Varsity Blues

Attempt to recreate the experience of being a super popular Varsity football star by visiting some of the Austin filming locations for the high school classic. The Landing Strip Gentleman's Club is a great place to blow off steam when your controlling coach is being too tough, or if you're not into the strip club scene (but do keep in mind, these are high school boys we're talking about) you can always grab a burger at Top Notch Hamburgers. Whipped cream bikini and terrible fake accents not included.

The Waterboy

If you're a fan of Adam Sandler movies (and don't think that he is, in fact, the devil) you can visit the real-life stadium that served as the home field for the South Central Lousiana State Mud Dogs:  Spec Martin Stadium in DeLand, Florida. Or, if your husband leaves you for a voodoo priestess he met in New Orleans, you can always get advice on the best way to exact revenge at  Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo.

Friday Night Lights (TV)

Clear eyes, full heart, can't lose. Okay, that wasn't always the case for the Dillon Panthers, but you can pay tribute to the TV show by visiting the Panther's Field (Friday Night Lights TV Show) where some of the games were shot (in the early season when it was actually about football, at least). In fact, the reason the Dillon Panthers were even called the Panthers in the first place is because that was the mascot of the high school where they were filming. 

Friday Night Lights (Movie)

The movie version portrays Odessa as a tiny little one-horse town, but that's not exactly the case: even back when the movie takes place, there were more than 250,000 people in the greater Odessa area. That adorable little downtown street from the first scene of the trailer is actually Manhattan, Kansas.

Rudy 

Of course, there's nowhere to better experience this iconic football movie than at Notre Dame Stadium (seriously, duh.) You can cheer on the underdog or just dream of hearing the crowd chanting your name as your beloved teammates carry you off the field (is that so much to ask?), but even spending even a few hours on Notre Dame's campus will give you an idea of just how much these fans love football. And make sure to say hi to Touchdown Jesus!

Blind Side

While this high school football movie takes place in Memphis, it was mostly filmed in Georgia, including (oddly enough) at Agnes Scott College, Decatur's women's college. But, (spoiler alert, but not really since this is based on a true story and we all know how it ends) the happy ending sees Michael Oher playing for Ole Miss at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Longest Yard

We can't be sure what the inmates at Georgia State Prison are up to at any given moment, but I guess there's a chance that Burt Reynolds is leading a ragtag team of prisoners in a high-stakes football exhibition game against the guards (we're pretending that the 2005 Adam Sandler remake didn't happen. Plus, two Adam Sandler movies in one list is a bit much).

Brian’s Song

Contemplate one of the saddest made-for-TV movies ever (seriously, think about how it was based on a true story and try to not cry) made with a thoughtful walk (we won't tell anyone if you shed a tear or two) along Lakeshore Drive near the  John G. Shedd Aquarium.

Little Giants

Fumblerooski, fumblerooski! If you forgot just how dramatic pee-wee football can be, relive Little Giants at the field at John Burroughs High School in Burbank. Now, if only all pee-wee coaches could be more like Rick Moranis…

Entertainment – The Huffington Post
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Sundance So Far: James Franco’s Ex-Gay Film And Greta Gerwig & Noah Baumbach’s Latest

After being wowed by “The End of the Tour” and “Z for Zachariah,” Saturday’s Sundance slate was more of a mixed bag. But with some of our favorite names like James Franco, Kristin Wiig and Greta Gerwig, there is plenty to talk about with the films HuffPost Entertainment saw on Saturday — perhaps most notably, the buzzed-about transgender-focused underdog, “Tangerine.”

“Mistress America”
Directed by Noah Baumbach
Written by Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig
Starring Greta Gerwig and Lola Kirke

mistress america

Filmmaker Noah Baumbach collaborated with actress, and now girlfriend, Greta Gerwig in “Greenberg” (2010) and again on “Frances Ha” (2012) — the latter a film that stole hipster hearts and turned everyone into an instant Gerwig fan. Our hopes were high for their next film “Mistress America,” which premiered at Sundance on Saturday evening.

Gerwig and Baumbach co-wrote the film with Baumbach directing, and, like “Frances Ha,” it is in many ways a love letter (part two) to New York. Gerwig stars as a wacky, jack-of-all-trades young woman who lives in Times Square and injects her future stepsister (Lola Kirke), a freshman in college whom she barely knows, with a much-needed jolt of energy.

The real star of the film is Kirke. Her facial features and slight, adorable lisp might seem familiar — she is the younger sister of Jemima Kirke, one of the stars of HBO’s “Girls.” But Lola Kirke steals the film with her perfect innocence, her desire to be a great writer, her need to feel more alive. She has a face and aura that John Hughes would have loved. She would have starred in his ‘80s films. She just has that look.

Gerwig, on the other hand, while still magnetic on screen, plays a character that is more flawed that usual. More manic, even. She is self-obsessed and self-righteous and sometimes feels like a cyclone spinning out of control, singing and dancing on stage, teaching a SoulCycle class and showing up unannounced at an ex-friend’s doorstep, asking for money to start a restaurant. She says things like “the television show is the new novel,” and “there’s no cheating when you’re 18; you should all be touching each other all the time.”

“Mistress America” is more screwball comedy than is typical for Baumbach, but there’s no doubt that the duo write incredible dialogue -– the scene where an old classmate of Gerwig’s tells her off for being mean is incredibly funny and pleasurable. Add a 1980s soundtrack and vibe, and you have yet another unique Baumbach production. — SB

“I Am Michael”
Directed by Michael Kelly
Written by Michael Kelly and Stacy Miller
Starring James Franco, Zachary Quinto, Charlie Carver and Emma Roberts

i am michael

Do you know that feeling of walking out of a movie thinking, “Well, that was … fine”? That’s the crux of “I Am Michael,” the dramatization of a buzzy 2011 New York Times article written by the formerly serious boyfriend of gay activist Michael Glatze, who denounced his homosexuality after a health scare and became a Christian pastor. First-time director Justin Kelly, under the wing of producer Gus Van Sant, who directed James Franco in the much different queer-activism film “Milk,” casts no judgment on Michael’s life in this fairly objective portrait, yet still manages to end on a note of skepticism. But the chronological timestamps that split this movie into chapters according to the various cities in which Michael resides feel like intrusive proclamations that the pacing is a tick-tock of upswings and downswings in his life. That sometimes strips the film of the nuance needed to delve into the knotty mind of a man who rose to savior status in the LGBT community and then wilted into a disheartening turncoat.

That said, Franco, playing Michael, does his finest work since “127 Hours” (or “Spring Breakers,” but that seems like a strange comparison), and Zachary Quinto is strong as his perplexed but patient boyfriend. Before Michael’s heart palpitations raise life-altering questions about what will happen to him when he dies, the two actors boast a specific chemistry that doubles as a reflection of the state of the LGBT landscape in the late ‘90s, around the time of Matthew Shepard’s murder, and early 2000s. Michael’s turning point coincides with the rise of gay rights and the nation’s shifting viewpoints — an aspect the film glazes over in favor of surface-level dialogue.

Even with Van Sant aboard, this film feels like the work of a first-time director. By the time we find Michael at seminary (where he gets engaged to a woman, played by an uncertain Emma Roberts), the movie’s 98-minute running time feels like it requires more chapters of our own lives than we care to devote to what should be a less impersonal product. There’s no soapbox for this movie to climb atop, though — this is a character study and not an indictment, and for that, “I Am Michael” is worthwhile. — MJ

“Tangerine”
Directed by Sean Baker
Written by Sean Baker and Chris Bergoch
Starring Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, Karren Karagulian, Mickey O’Hagan, Alla Tumanian and James Ransone

tangerine

“Tangerine” is a window into a very specific room. Or rooms, shall we say. Shot in a taxi, on the streets and in parking lots of Los Angeles, director Sean Baker crafts an up close and personal voyage story of Sin-Dee, a transgender prostitute who, along with her friend, trek around the city in search of Sin-Dee’s unfaithful pimp boyfriend.

We see exteriors of Los Angeles like few films have captured before; most of “Tangerine” moves on foot or takes quick breaks in strip malls or in paying john’s cars. It moves through taco bars, motel rooms, bus stops, freeways, public transit platforms and even Sunset Boulevard.

But what is most miraculous about the film is that it was all shot on an iPhone. And in just about four weeks time. That fact alone is astonishing given the quality of the film’s aesthetic and style. But “Tangerine” is not just a moving Instagram photo. Baker cast the stars of the film, all untrained actors, at an LGBTQ center in Los Angeles. They fight, scream, cry and move all over the city with an authenticity.

Classical music and dance beats punctuate the sprawling shots of street corners and characters holding court in the donut shop. The city is their home. There is more repetition of the word “bitch” than possibly any film to come before it. But there are many layers of tenderness and intimacy that inevitably connect the leads of the film to a world that is much, much larger than they are. — SB

“The Diary Of A Teenage Girl”
Written and directed by Marielle Heller
Starring Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgård, Kristen Wiig and Christopher Meloni

diary of a teenage girl

Plenty of movies have attempted to capture the thread of American ennui that sprung up in the afterglow of the 1960s’ hippie crusade and sexual revolution. Most of them cast broad strokes over the flower power that enlivened so much of the country and disturbed so many others. “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” offers a unique take on one dysfunctional family navigating through a mélange that mystifies their sense of purpose in 1974 San Francisco.

At the center of that family is 15-year-old Minnie Goetz (Bel Powley). We first see her gleaming as she glides down the street sporting a proud smirk on her face. “I had sex today. Holy shit,” she says in a voice-over that stems from the tape recorder that houses her audio diary. Sometimes we hear that diary as narration, and sometimes we see Minnie lying on her bed, logging insecure thoughts about body image and self-worth. Crazed for the love and attraction her rowdy, Patty Hearst-obsessed mother (an excellent Kristen Wiig) often doesn’t provide, the emotionally immature teen begins an ongoing assignation with her mom’s boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgård) that inaugurates her sexual awakening. As portrayed winningly by Powley, one of Sundance’s breakout stars, Minnie’s distinctive voice carries this film. She is a budding graphic artist, and the movie frequently morphs into charming animation. (Ever wondered what it would be like to see a character picture a stranger’s hand-drawn penis emerge from his pants?) Once Minnie’s virginity is gone, she embarks on one sexual tryst and drug experimentation after the next. One of the finest scenes comes during an acid trip with her mother’s boyfriend that reliably calls upon the phantasmagoric illustrations that occur throughout.

It’s possible there’s too much languor in “Diary of a Teenage Girl,” but first-time writer/director Marielle Heller does an impressive job adapting Phoebe Gloekner’s unusual novel, which also features hand-drawn illustrations throughout. It’s certainly a movie that grows on you after leaving the theater. Its finest achievement comes in not asking for a moral calculation of its characters’ actions. You’ll recognize the confusion that troubles Minnie’s understanding of the adults around her, and you’ll fiend for a glimmer of hope for the adventure that awaits her future life. — MJ
Comedy – The Huffington Post
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No Good Deed Film Clip – “Evil”

Terri (Taraji P. Henson) is a devoted wife and mother of two, living an ideal suburban life in Atlanta when Colin (Idris Elba), a charming but dangerous escaped convict, shows up at her door claiming car trouble. Terri offers her phone to help him but soon learns that no good deed goes unpunished as she finds herself fighting for survival when he invades her home and terrorizes her family.

Genre: Thriller / Crime
Cast: Idris Elba, Taraji P. Henson, Leslie Bibb, Kate del Castillo,
Director: Sam Miller
Writer: Aimee Lagos

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No Good Deed Film Clip – “Male”

Terri (Taraji P. Henson) is a devoted wife and mother of two, living an ideal suburban life in Atlanta when Colin (Idris Elba), a charming but dangerous escaped convict, shows up at her door claiming car trouble. Terri offers her phone to help him but soon learns that no good deed goes unpunished as she finds herself fighting for survival when he invades her home and terrorizes her family.

Genre: Thriller / Crime
Cast: Idris Elba, Taraji P. Henson, Leslie Bibb, Kate del Castillo,
Director: Sam Miller
Writer: Aimee Lagos

Subscribe to Sony Pictures for more great content: http://bit.ly/SonyPicsSubscribe
Join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NoGoodDeedMovie
Uploads by Sony Pictures Entertainment

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Jennifer Saunders Confirms ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ Film Script

Iconic British sitcom “Absolutely Fabulous” may return in 2015.

Speaking to the U.K.’s Daily Mirror, creator and star of the series Jennifer Saunders said she had recently completed a first draft of a script for a film adaptation to be titled “Edina and Patsy.”

“My proper New Year’s resolution is to do the film, otherwise it’ll be a pointless year of procrastination,” she reportedly said.

“Absolutely Fabulous,” tells the story of friends Edina (Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley), a PR person and magazine editor trying to stay hip as they progress through middle age and beyond. The series aired for five seasons on BBC beginning in 1992, and returned for three special episodes released in 2011 and 2012.

In an interview with New York Magazine back in 2011, Saunders commented on rumors of an upcoming film.

“I’m definitely going to do it,” she said. “I’m aiming to shoot this in a beautiful part of the Riviera. I fancy the south of France in the spring.”

Entertainment – The Huffington Post
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Lynyrd Skynyrd to film classic albums live

Lynyrd Skynyrd will perform their first two albums, in their entirety, at a Jacksonville, FL for release on home video.
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In The Wake Of ‘The Interview,’ A Brief Look At America’s Film Censorship Through The Years

As we’re bombarded with developments surrounding Sony Pictures’ decision to cancel the release of “The Interview” in the wake of terrorism threats, we’re reminded of America’s long history with film censorship — one that, thankfully, doesn’t often rear its head anymore. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s comedy stars Rogen and James Franco as journalists ordered to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un after landing a rare interview with him. It’s an (almost) unheard-of case of executives electing to pull a movie; historically, it took a court order to strong-arm studios into cutting their losses over a controversial project. This is, after all, an entertainment industry that operated under the Motion Picture Production Code (aka the Hays Code), which regulated what could be seen onscreen from 1930 to 1968. That set of regulations brought about an onslaught of imbroglios over what did and didn’t violate standards. We’ve compiled a list of several movies that act as precursors to the censorship questions being raised with the “Interview” controversy. It only skims the surface of film restrictions in American history, but it’ll give you an idea of some of the battles filmmakers and distributors have faced over the years.


Arts – The Huffington Post
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Why Tim Burton Made A Film About The ‘Most Quiet, Under-The-Radar Feminist You’ve Ever Met’

Tim Burton’s “Big Eyes” tells the story of an epic art fraud centered on “the most quiet, under-the radar feminist you’ve ever met.” In many ways, Margaret Keane’s story embodies the early women’s movement. That, along with the rise of the kitsch — and another “worst” artist to add to the list with “Ed Wood” — is what Burton has set out to explore here. HuffPost Entertainment interviewed the director to talk about creating his lowest budget film in years (and whether he would ever re-consider making “Superman Lives”).

big eyes

You commissioned Margaret Keane’s work before this film was even pitched to you. What drew you to “Big Eyes” and telling her story?
I felt like it was suburban art. There weren’t Matisses or Picassos hanging on people’s walls. There were Keanes. You would see them in people’s living rooms, dentists’ offices and doctors’ offices. It was very present, and very much a time of that when I was growing up. I think they stayed with me, because they were all over the place, but also because I found them quite disturbing. I liked that kind of juxtaposition of things. I found it fascinating that so many people had them up in their houses.

That rise of the kitsch and suburbia have always been prevalent themes in your work. Is that something you wanted to explore here?
Even for people who hated it, you had to acknowledge it had a power to connect with people. There were a lot of artists who tried to rip it off. A lot of people who bought it. It became like a movement. Look at artists who were trying to copy it … This sort of came to me growing up in suburbia: this idea of the American dream, and then you have this couple — this sort of horrific couple — creating these strange mutant children. That seemed slightly representative of the end of that American dream era. This is sort of a twisted version of that idea of the nuclear family.

The true story of the Keanes is actually much more insidious than what we see on screen. What made you leave things out like Walter abusing Margaret’s dog or keeping her locked in the attic?
You know, truth is stranger than fiction. For instance, in the courtroom scene [in which the Keanes have a paint-off for ownership of Margaret’s body of work], we had to tone it down, because it was even worse than that. In fact, people have trouble believing that even now. So, it was fine line between trying to create the extremity of it and do it in a way where you’re still semi-believable. With Margaret mentioning how she is in the attic, you get the idea of it.

big eyes

In a way, Margaret Keane embodies the early women’s movement — surviving her husband’s psychological abuse and striving for her independence in spite of it.
She’s one of the most quiet, under-the-radar feminists you’ve ever met. She doesn’t have a big voice. She’s not out there on the streets, saying, you know, “Vote for women’s rights!” She did it in her own private, personal way, which I found amazing given the type of person she is.

Toning down this story is certainly another way “Big Eyes” is a departure for your work. There are not a lot of visual effects, it’s much smaller. How was the process different?
Well, it was low-budget. For me, after doing a lot of big-budget movies, it was kind of reconnecting me to having to move quickly and be resourceful. I mean, you have to do that on any film. But this you’re moving locations four or five times a day, you know, trying to make Vancouver look like San Francisco is not easy.

What was the biggest challenge with the low budget?
I think Vancouver to San Francisco, because the actors were all great. I was lucky to deal with solid people who were willing to go into the same thing of moving quickly, being there, not having to wait for people to move out of the trailer. Everyone got into the same spirit, which helped make it.

You’ve made films for two distinct generations. Do you think of this one differently?
You pick projects based on feelings. That’s why you can’t pick projects too far in advance. You don’t know how you’re going to feel. I think I felt that this one, basically because of “Ed Wood,” I like these characters that are sort of marginalized and the connection between what’s good and bad. Those are the themes that I relate to. Also, just wanting to do a low budget film after doing so many big budget films.

big eyes3

What do you think about the rise of the superhero franchise. How would your “Batman” do today?
It is amazing. I feel lucky to have been around in the time before franchise was created. I was lucky on “Batman” to never hear the word “franchise,” that was a real pleasure. Now, that’s all it’s become. The amazing thing is that trends come and go. That’s a trend that obviously not only stuck, but continues to keep going. How many tortured, you know, people that become superheroes are there going to be? It’s the same story.

Okay, half joking here, but how about “Superman Lives”? Would you ever reconsider making that one? Superman films are in, meta commentary is in … the Internet would explode.
Oh, good. I’d love to make the Internet explode! That’s a good idea. I’d love to see that happen.

“Big Eyes” is out in wide release Dec. 25.
Entertainment – The Huffington Post
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Happy 69th Birthday Goldie Hawn! The Sexy Star’s Greatest Moments On TV And Film

Happy birthday, Goldie Hawn! Our favorite blonde bombshell turns 69 today and we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than by taking a look back at her best moments over the decades.

And no — we assure you, that’s not Goldie’s lookalike daughter, Kate Hudson. Yes, Hawn and her daughter, 35, still look a lot alike — even though Goldie is nearing 70. With her feathery, blonde hair and those bright-blue doe eyes, it’s easy to see why.

Hawn originally started her career in dance, quickly landing a role in Disney’s “The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band,” where she met Kurt Russell, who would later become her long-time love. She also appeared regularly on Rowan & Martin’s “Laugh-In” in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It wasn’t long before Hollywood was taking notice of her vivacious, bubbly persona. She went on to win an Oscar for her performance in “Cactus Flower,” and enjoyed other memorable roles in films like “The First Wives Club” and “Private Benjamin.”

But Hawn’s personal life has been just as intriguing as her professional career — most notably, her long-term romance with fellow actor, Kurt Russell. They’ve been together over 30 years — a Hollywood anomaly.

She’s also, of course, known for her bombshell good looks (she posed for Playboy in the ’80s). But earlier this year, she was scrutinized for her appearance at the Oscars — with speculation that she’d gone overboard with plastic surgery.

But we’ll repeat now what we said then, Goldie, we love you just the way you are.
Comedy – The Huffington Post
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Tonight Officially Kicks Off Awards Season: Here’s Why You’ll Want to Watch the Hollywood Film Awards

If you've been watching The Big Bang Theory—or just about any other show on CBS this week—you've seen countless promos for the first major award show of the season: The Hollywood Film Awards. But if…




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Not a Holocaust Film

Co-authored Joshua Diamond

2014-10-08-himmler.jpg

This is the story of Henrich Himmler told by himself and his family through their letters and personal diaries, which were not burned as he requested. They were secreted away by an American until the ’60s, then given to the Israeli archivists.

Ms. Lapa applied tenacity laced with the patience of an archeologist picking away the dirt-encrusted bones of a Neanderthal and placing the remains back on its feet, neatly arranging the puzzle over a seven-year period. The challenge of putting together well over 300 letters and documents was painstaking, not to mention deeply intimate. Though some may say that Himmler was humanized by these letters, I only see a small man’s rise to power that overwhelmed his diminutive ego while creating an inferno that sent millions to their untimely deaths.

He was not well liked in school, he had been sickly and a below average student which might explain his need to be important at any cost. Ms. Lapa uses voice-over and a substantial amount of archival footage, as well as home movies belonging to Himmler to tell his story in extensive detail.

While a wide-range of players were integral to the making of The Decent One, the most enticing is Katrin Himmler, the great-niece of the not-so-decent one who consulted with Ms. Lapa behind the scenes. Interestingly enough, while she chose to retain her family name, Katrin was until-recently married to a Jewish-Israeli. Lapa noted that she was a great source of information.

Lapa and her team did not embark on a nearly decade-long journey in an attempt to carve a niche in the plethora of Holocaust films that have been made to date. The Decent One is not the standard narrative, and her camera is not a mere projector for redundant footage of the Nazi atrocities. Rather, it shines light between the lines of what is thought to be a fully-known story.

Ms. Lapa’s ability to gently weave between the various — and often contradicting — traits of the horrifying man is the defining attribute of the film. There is the Himmler, who addresses his wife as “my darling” to the accompaniment of soft piano tones in the background. Venturing further into the “human” side of Himmler, there is the workaholic who forgets his own wedding anniversary. In seconds’ notice, however, the viewer is reacquainted with the hideous face behind the mask: As Hitler’s henchman describes the demanding nature of his job, we see footage of a young man being beaten by Nazis. This trend continues, with one scene displaying a love for his daughter “Pupee” and “darling” wife, only to be followed by a letter to his mistress, Hedwig Potthast. Later on, we see the same unconventional “family man” writing from a concentration camp.

This is not just another Holocaust story about one human being-turned-monster, but it is about the potential for many to become that. As co-producer Felix Breisach explains, “This is happening right now and could be anywhere. Look around the world.” Mr. Breisach, an Austrian and also a director in his own right, is the son of a Nazi and feels that these stories should never be ignored, that though they were not spoken of in his native Austria or even in Germany till the ’80s, perhaps it is best that we keep on talking about it and making our children aware. The Decent One serves as a specter which many human beings see in the shadows.

Now playing at New York’s Film Forum and internationally.
Arts – The Huffington Post
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In the New York Film Fest the Outsize Egos of Artists Rule

There’s sometimes a common theme or recurring character that threads through a film festival. This can be especially striking in a fest as tightly curated as the New York Film Festival. Such convergences usually happen by accident, according to Kent Jones, director of programming at the NYFF.

Often… what it has to do with is the time. Obviously, when people are all making movies at the same time, it’s inevitable that some of them are going to be responding to similar events, occurrences… what’s happening on the horizon… you get movies that talk to each other and that’s always great.

I’m not sure how it’s related to the times, but the 52nd New York Film Fest abounds in characters who make art — on the page, in a concert hall, in movies and theater, or on a canvas. Why so many artists inhabit the fest lineup in this supremely materialistic age I’m not sure. Like most everything, it’s likely connected with the modern plague of economic inequity. Yes, the folks who increasingly own much of the planet can “buy” an artist. But no one can buy talent. Thus the artist’s become a sort of unlikely hero for our times.

Top ranked among these artist-centric films is the not-to-be-missed Mr. Turner by Mike Leigh. It resurrects JMW Turner, the English Romantic landscape painter (late 1700’s to the mid 1800s) known as “the painter of light,” along with a supporting cast of eccentrics to delight Dickens. Awarded Best Actor at Cannes, the superb Timothy Spall captures Turner in his last 25 years in all his curmudgeonly glory. The film departs from Leigh’s trademark loosey goosey accounts of Britain’s working and underclass, harking back to the meticulous period recreation of Topsy Turvy and Gilbert and Sullivan’s creation of The Mikado.

Some will find Turner plotless — but in fact, Turner offers a deep-in plot, as Leigh traces an artist’s inner journey to push his gift to its farthest limits. And going the distance means, for Turner, to hell with everyone else! Leigh’s portrait is unsparing in its revelations of Turner’s odious treatment of a cast-off wife and daughters, as well as a devoted woman servant he occasionally humps like a beast.

This sorry business is leavened by an interlude depicting Turner’s rather charming romance with his landlady at the seaside town of Margate, the inspirational site of much of his work. Leigh drenches the screen in images that arguably make Turner the most gorgeous film of the year. On display are not just the glorious landscapes — Leigh and his brilliant production designer and DP Dick Pope have bottled and put up on the screen nothing less than the palette and light of Turner’s paintings ; the viewer is literally bathed in them.

There are brief, throwaway images — Turner sitting in a boat on a shadowed pond amidst shafts of light, anyone? — that will make you sit up and gasp. Timothy Spall’s ingenious arsenal of grunts seems the perfect “language” to convey his unique style of courtship, dismissal of critics, struggle to surpass his own art — and the sheer difficulty of living.

Featuring Jason Schwartzman as a Philip Rothian-type novelist, Listen Up, Philip offers a way less illuminating portrait of the artist’s swollen ego. Much of Alex Ross Perry’s film tracks the interaction of the writer as self-centered shit with his live-in girlfriend Elizabeth Moss (miscast and misused). Jonathan Pryce, an older, once-eminent writer who has equally alienated most everyone, invites Philip to his upstate country house to write and regroup. This leads to a college teaching gig that gives Philip a fresh opportunity to play toxic boyfriend.

The film’s fearless display of metastatic ego and satire of things literary is, I suppose, good for a few hollow laughs. And a drunken bacchanal involving Schwartzman, Pryce, and two game women they’ve picked up at a singles event is shot in lurching, tipsy verite. But the treatment of the women as mere furniture in a male escapade — they literally get tossed out into the night — leaves a sour taste. And if I never see a woman tearing up over some asshole behaving badly, even if he is a literary genius, it won’t be too soon. Perry’s quirky, off-balance style offers a welcome antidote to canned studio fare. Even so, how did his minor effort make the fest’s main slate?

Musical artists take center stage in Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash. Anchored by Miles Teller and his awards-fodder turn as a jazz drummer, this may just be the feelgood film of the year. This despite the suffering the artist-musician undergoes in his drive for perfection. I have nothing to add to the glowing reviews, except: great screenplay, great acting, jazz to die for — what’s not to love? It’s in theaters. Go see it.

Then there’s the curious case of NYFF closer Birdman. A departure in style for gloom mongering Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, it’s an antic, literally high-flying account of a former iconic film star’s attempt to make a comeback by mounting a Broadway play. Given all the buzz and plaudits from the Venice Film Fest, I came with high expectations. Just think: Michael Keaton in a barn burning role that parallels his own Batmanic past as a movie franchise star; Edward Norton as a loose cannon of an actor intent on screwing up Keaton’s production of a play based on a story by Raymond Carver; and presiding over it all, the genius of D.P. Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity, The Tree of Life).

The seamless sweep of the camera tunneling through the backstage corridors and planing over the great old theaters of Broadway — not to mention Keaton taking to the sky, birdman style, in cunning CG segments — gives the illusion of a film created in a single take. But will the average moviegoer get that? I doubt it. They’ll get the adrenalin rush, but not the technical leger-de-main. Sometimes programmers paint themselves into a vacuum.

As Keaton’s strung-out daughter, Emma Stone uncorks an impassioned monologue about how the viral world has made old dad obsolete (a highlight, though her features are so harsh they belong on Mount Rushmore). Stone’s tirade echos and “talks to” a similar one by Kristen Stewart giving Juliette Binoche the news that she and her ilk are old school, over.

Less riveting is the ego battle between Keaton and Edward Norton, the latter scampering about in his skivvies, displaying a gut in need of gym time. Birdman unwittingly betrays a disgust with human bodies; Norton’s come-on line, “play with my balls,” stands in for witty repartee. The women revolving around the two alpha males, including an ex wife, abandoned gf, and hot-to-trot daughter, are too carelessly drawn to engage us. Given the many challenges of life in 21st century America, it’s no wonder that Birdman takes to the skies.
Entertainment – The Huffington Post
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‘Inherent Vice’ Trailer Feels Like Paul Thomas Anderson’s Funniest Film Yet

After months of not knowing much about “Inherent Vice” beyond its cast list and what’s in Thomas Pynchon’s 2009 novel, the movie’s first trailer is here. Arriving five days before the Paul Thomas Anderson adaptation is set to make its world premiere at the New York Film Festival, the clip seems to carry the kinetic comedy of the early stages of “Boogie Nights” rather than the severe character drama of “There Will Be Blood” and “The Master,” just as last week’s New York Times profile of Anderson promised the movie would. (In that piece, Anderson compared the film to “Airplane!” and “Top Secret.”) Starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon in their first collaboration since “Walk the Line” as well as Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Benicio del Toro, Martin Short, Joanna Newsom and (apparently) Pynchon himself in a rare cameo, the ’70s-set “Inherent Vice” opens Dec. 12. It could be a major awards contender.


Arts – The Huffington Post
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New York Film Festival 2014 #2: Ethan Hawke’s Sweet Debut, the Dardennes’ Latest & More

THE 52ND NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL

THE LOOK OF SILENCE *** 1/2
SEYMOUR: AN INTRODUCTION ***
EDEN ** 1/2
TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT ** 1/2

The official launch for the New York Film Festival begins on September 26 with the world premiere of David Fincher’s Gone Girl. They’re in luck; the early reviews are raves. And the critic screenings are in overdrive with three or four movies playing during the day for over a week now. So there’s a lot to catch up on and a lot to see. Here are two very good documentaries and two dramas. Only one may be truly great at first blush but they’re all worthwhile in one way or another.

THE LOOK OF SILENCE *** 1/2

Director Joshua Oppenheimer’s Oscar-nominated film The Act Of Killing is one of the brashest, strangest, downright surreal films of recent years. It looks at the bizarre and unsettling facts of Indonesia, where under cover of the fight against communism a massive genocide took place in the 1960s. The people who committed it are still in power, still living among the survivors of the people they brutally slaughtered. The PBS series POV is airing the film on October 6 and it’s not to be missed. What makes the film so strange? Well, Oppenheimer met with the people who committed these crimes against humanity and somehow got them to reenact their murderous actions…in the style of various movie genres. This doesn’t begin to accurately capture the rare mood of the film, which is funny and horrifying. It’s no surprise that Errol Morris and Werner Herzog championed it; they love breaking the rules in their documentaries as well.

Now comes a companion piece, The Look Of Silence. It is in many ways the polar opposite of the first. No gimmicks, no tricks, no high concept framing to coax people into documenting their own crimes. It simply shows the brother of one man who was slaughtered quietly talking to and sometimes confronting the many, many people in power who are responsible for murder.

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One of my (many) pet peeves is describing this actor or that director as “brave.” There’s nothing brave about playing a part on stage or in a movie, no matter how audacious. Save “brave” for people who genuinely risk their lives for others, like cops and firemen and soldiers and the like. But genuine courage is the only way to describe the father who takes center stage in this work. Oppenheimer’s earlier film documented who killed his brother and how. In this movie, the man literally risks his life to confront the people — including an uncle — who did this.

The title comes from the way he can ask a question and then simply sit and stare as their absurd, insulting, petty, dismissive or disingenuous answers fall to the ground, unworthy of comment. Some crumple under his quiet bearing of witness; others literally threaten his life. A young woman hears her elderly father describe drinking the blood of the people he slaughtered (in order to not go crazy, others explain, in a superstitious response to the evil they were perpetrating). She begs forgiveness. Others stonily refuse to admit the obvious. It’s an unnerving, potent, remarkable work.

And it’s no joke: many of the technical credits on the film say simply Anonymous, a potent reminder of how very dangerous this truly brave act was. It’s not just a brave act; it’s also a genuine work of art. Surely at the beginning of every audience Q&A, at every press conference, the first question will be: has this man been killed? One of the best films of the year, The Look Of Silence is a startlingly different but just as potent companion piece to one of the best documentaries in a long time.

Here’s the trailer for The Art Of Killing, which airs on PBS October 6.

SEYMOUR: AN INTRODUCTION ***

Ethan Hawke is becoming rather annoying. He’s been an acclaimed actor on stage and screen for many years. He’s written novels. Then he took up journalism and delivered a great profile of Kris Kristofferson for Rolling Stone. Now he’s starring in Boyhood, one of the most acclaimed films of the year and a genuine indie hit. To top it off, he’s making his debut as a documentary filmmaker with this sweet valentine to Seymour Bernstein, a beloved music teacher.

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They met at a dinner party a few years ago with Hawke immediately opening up about his almost crippling stage fright and self-doubts about whether what he did had any worth. Bernstein was an ideal sounding board: he’d quit his brilliant public career as a pianist and devoted himself to teaching and composing.

Bernstein’s philosophy is that practice of any craft, any talent, makes you better at your craft and better as a person. He turned his back on the treadmill of fame and perhaps feels it’s mostly destructive. But fear is ok, even essential. Doubt is ok. And the doing of it, the working at your talent is essential. So indeed, is creating and not just recreating. (A pianist who plays a piece by Bach is “recreating.” A pianist who composes his own work is “creating.” One is not worthier than the other but Bernstein feels strongly that artists should create.

Hawke, as a writer and director and producer sometimes beleaguered for having the temerity to do so (much like james Franco is today) surely was sympathetic to this. Plus Bernstein was so delightful, so full of life, so happy in his calling as a teacher. Why didn’t someone make a movie about him? Why indeed?

So Hawke did. The film is quietly bold. It’s a profile of Bernstein. But it also documents his philosophy of life and Hawke’s struggles are a modest subplot. This makes it a little shaggy, especially when it climaxes with what should be the cheap sentimentality of a public performance: Bernstein gives a benefit concert for the theater company Hawke helped found. But this becomes the film’s masterstroke since Hawke intercuts footage of Bernstein practicing the piece and performing the piece, symbolizing the man’s approach to life with one bold stroke.

Not since To Be And To Have has a teacher been shown in such a disarming way; you want to immediately sit in on one of Bernstein’s classes. Or at least buy some of his music. (A brief search turned up nothing officially in print.) Hopefully a soundtrack won’t be far behind this charming work.

EDEN ** 1/2

Film festivals can play a vital role for some filmmakers. They may not achieve international success at first. But a festival that believes in a talent can keep championing their work, telling critics to pay attention. I was not enamored with Mia Hansen-Love’s debut Father Of My Children. So I skipped her similar seeming second feature. But here she is again with a new movie. It’s radically different in nature from her earlier work and the buzz is good so here I am.

Indeed, Eden is very different from her small scale dramas, though it surely is linked in theme and other subtler ways. On the surface, it’s about raves and DJs, tracing the career of one talented young artist from fan to deejay to a name big enough to travel the world a bit and rub shoulders with the likes of Daft Punk. it’s not about fame and disillusionment, however. This isn’t the life of an artist, as such. Eden rather interestingly shows passion — in this case, for garage music — turning into a job. And a young man slowly realizes that the joy of his youth isn’t going to be enough to sustain him for the rest of his life. What next?

It roams over many years but has a light touch. Since the film isn’t truly interested in deejays as an art form, we don’t spend much time at all learning how they do what they do, to say the least. Our hero Paul (the handsome Felix de Givry) is seen more often being hapless in love than working at his craft. (Seymour would have something to say about that.) The rave scenes are pretty but never quite get under your skin; you can see people reacting to the music and the deejays dancing in ecstasy but it’s all at a slight remove. Perhaps because they know eventually the party will end.

That remove is probably the film’s biggest strength. They’re not making a grand statement about raves, how even the most rebellious art forms become co-opted. They’re not examining the scourge of drugs. They’re not romanticizing or criticizing youthful passion. Eden simply watches life happen; it just so happens that in this case life is often at a rave or disco.

The result is certainly meandering. And surely it’s not a good thing that after more than two hours of film time and years of story we barely have a sense of Paul’s relationship with his artistic partner in deejaying. But de Givry is very compelling, along with Roman Kolinka as an artist friend, and something here has stayed with me a little. Hansen-Love isn’t there yet. But the faith shown in her by festivals like NYFF might pay off yet.

TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT ** 1/2

The new film by the Dardenne brothers is a disappointment. So often, their movies rank among the best of the year and have for nearly 20 years. They’ve made seven feature films beginning in 1996 and five of them have been great, often really great. Only The Silence of Lorna from 2008 felt like a genuine misfire, with its hokey plot contrivance. They got back on track with 2011’s The Kid With A Bike, a movie that seemed to push their signature style into modest new territory with good effect.

Two Days, One Night however is a noble failure, a step backward as it seems to recapitulate what they’ve done before with more elan. Still, it’s a timely tale with a strong hook and their fans will surely not feel they’ve wasted their time by checking it out. Marion Cotillard stars as a woman who has fallen into a serious depression and is now recovered. Or is that recovering? We stay right on top with Sandra as her story quickly reveals itself. She’s been on leave from work but the owner of the company forced her coworkers to vote: did they want Sandra to get her job back or receive their annual bonus. The company couldn’t afford to do both. After a vote heavily weighted against Sandra, the owner is forced to agree to a new vote. Sandra has the weekend to go visit each of her 16 coworkers and plead for her job… and in the process ask them to give up a 1000 euro bonus.

Two Days, One Night has the usual immediacy of a Dardenne film, movies where the camera is usually perched on the shoulder of the protagonist and never leaves their side. But this film soon feels too episodic, too neatly structured in a way. Each coworker has their own psychodrama on display: one is worried about voting against what the owners want because he’s on a limited contract, another has been wracked with guilt over voting against Sandra and begs her forgiveness, yet another has a troubled marriage, many try to avoid her and of course they can all use (sometimes desperately) that 1000 euros.

Quickly, the meetings between Sandra and her coworkers become too schematic. A happy scene of acceptance is invariably followed by one of rejection or indifference; if one features a poor family, another is sure to feature a family using the bonus for luxuries like a back porch and so on.

Some late twists feel cheap and should have bigger ramifications; others give the tale a much-needed substance. No movie by the Dardennes could be without worth and Cotillard is always a pleasure to watch. But this is a minor entry in their filmography and hopefully just a stumble on the way to the next great work by one of the most talented duos in movie history.

MOVIES I’VE SEEN SO FAR IN 2014 (not a good year for movie-going for me)
All ratings out of four stars.

1. Au Hasard Balthazar (1966) **
2. 20 Feet From Stardom **
3. The Wolf Of Wall Street ** 1/2
4. In The House (Ozon) ***
5. Laurence Anyways *** 1/2
6. The Angels’ Share ***
7. Philomena **
8. Mad Love (1935 w Peter Lorre) *
9. Women In The Wind (1939 w Kay Francis) **
10. The Hunt *** 1/2
11. Happy People: A Year In The Taiga ***
12. The Painting ** 1/2
13. The Spectacular Now *** 1/2
14. Dallas Buyers Club * 1/2
15. Blue Jasmine ** 1/2
16. The Story Of The Last Chrysanthemum (1939) ***
17. The Harvey Girls (1946) * 1/2
18. Cairo Station (1958) *** 1/2
19. Hannah Arendt * 1/2
20. The Act Of Killing *** 1/2
21. To The Wonder ***/
22. No ***
23. American Hustle **
24. Stories We Tell ***
25. Only God Forgives ***
26. Computer Chess ** 1/2
27. The Past ***
28. Captain America: The Winter Soldier ***
29. Blue Ruin ***
30. X-Men: Days Of Future Past **
31. Snowpiercer ** 1/2
32. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes *** /
33. Vicious (UK TV series) **
34. Endeavour Series Two ** 1/2
35. The Fault In Our Stars * 1/2
36. Escape In The Fog, dir Budd Boetticher (1945) **
37. Guardians of the Galaxy ** 1/2
38. Magic In The Moonlight **
39. Bedknobs & Broomsticks (1971) *
40. ’71 ***
41. George Gently Series 1 (UK TV show) *** 1/2
42. The Look Of Silence *** 1/2
43. Seymour: An Introduction ***
44. Eden ** 1/2
45. Two Days, One Night ** 1/2

_____________

Thanks for reading. Michael Giltz is the founder and CEO of the forthcoming website BookFilter, a book lover’s best friend. It’s a website that lets you browse for books online the way you do in a physical bookstore, provides comprehensive info on new releases every week in every category and offers passionate personal recommendations every step of the way. It’s like a fall book preview or holiday gift guide — but every week in every category. He’s also the cohost of Showbiz Sandbox, a weekly pop culture podcast that reveals the industry take on entertainment news of the day and features top journalists and opinion makers as guests. It’s available for free on iTunes. Visit Michael Giltz at his website and his daily blog. Download his podcast of celebrity interviews and his radio show, also called Popsurfing and also available for free on iTunes.

Note: Michael Giltz is provided with free access to press screenings with the understanding that he will be writing a review.
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Podcast Review: Greg Proops Film Club

Most podcast listeners, if they know Greg Proops, know him as the host of The Smartest Man In The World. (Many also likely know him as a long time cast member of TV’s Whose Line Is It Anyway.)

2014-09-19-GPFC.jpgSince the beginning of this year, though, he’s been pulling double duty. The Greg Proops Film Club is a monthly show, a sort of film companion if you will, featuring Proops in front of a live audience that has gathered to watch one of his favorite movies. The latest edition bookends a showing of The Man Who Would Be King, featuring Sean Connery and Michael Caine from 1975.

This is no dry dissertation however but, instead, finds the host reeling off anecdotes about the production (Rumor had it, for instance, that Humprey Bogart was slated to star in the movie a decade or more earlier but passed and the project lay dormant for years), memories about watching it for the first time as a teenager at a drive-in theater, and expounding on precisely why the movie holds so much cinematic goodness for him.

In much the same style as Smartest Man, Proops brings his engaging, rapid-fire intellect to the party, keeping the audience in stitches as he prepares them for a delectable silver screen experience. The show fades off as the movie begins and then fades back in as the film ends, leaving Proops to wrap up with a few more pithy remarks before sending the crowd, as he puts it, “off into this good night.”

This review originally posted as part of This Week In Comedy Podcasts on Splitsider.com. Marc Hershon is host and executive producer of Succotash, the Comedy Podcast Podcast.
Comedy – The Huffington Post
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Live from the Toronto Film Festival: Tuesday, Sept. 9

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When I started attending the Toronto International Film Festival in 1984, no one had yet thought to position this festival as an awards-season launchpad. While there were a handful of big studio movies from Hollywood (filling a gala slot each night) in Toronto each year, the majority of what was shown was undiscovered territory.

Which is what I value most about the film festival experience in general: the chance it offers to discover a film, a filmmaker, an actor – the operative word being discover. That’s less and less of a factor at this particular festival these days; instead, it seems stacked with pre-sold titles.

Not pre-sold in the sense that they’re based on familiar work (remakes, comic-book movies, sequels). Rather, because awards pundits are clocking these things all year ’round, there are few surprises in the awards race, come year’s end. Films like The Theory of Everything (about Stephen Hawking) and The Imitation Game (about Alan Turing) arrive at this festival with anticipation racing and awards’ buzz already in high gear.

Still, there remain opportunities to walk into a movie knowing virtually nothing about it. That happened four times to me on Tuesday, although none provided the chance to have the hair-raising sensation of realizing you’re seeing something new and great.

Indeed, two of them failed to pass the 15-minute test. My first film of the day, David Gordon Green’s Manglehorn, starred Al Pacino as a lonely, aging locksmith in a small Texas town. When nothing happened in the first 20 minutes – beyond an extended look at one of Mr. Manglehorn’s typical days – I exercised my option and bolted, to catch an early show of The Theory of Everything.

My fifth film of the day provoked a similar response: Shelter, directed by Paul Bettany, stars Bettany’s wife, Jennifer Connelly, and the reliable Anthony Mackie. It’s a film about a romance among the homeless in New York. Sorry, no sale. And so, on to the bigger titles.

The Theory of Everything is directed by James Marsh and stars Eddie Redmayne as Hawking. The film starts with Hawking as a an able-bodied graduate student at Cambridge, who meets the girl of his dreams (Felicity Jones) and marries her, despite his diagnosis of a neuromuscular disease very near to ALS. He has, he is told, two years to live – which doesn’t give him much time to finish that unified-field theory before he loses the ability to communicate (and then breathe).

This is, of course, the story of the triumph of the will and the intellect over the weakening flesh. It’s also about an actor’s ability to transform himself into a motionless heap of a man in a wheelchair without losing the ability to communicate his feelings. The movie goes nowhere you don’t expect, but Redmayne and Jones give the kind of performances which (rightly or wrongly) serve as award-nomination magnets.

Acting-wise, I was much more impressed with Jake Gyllenhaal in Dan Gilroy’s energetically twisted Nightcrawler. A small-time thief with a gift for insistently ingratiating gab that can be deceptively malign, his character is a sociopath who stumbles on to the perfect career: trolling the police scanner at night to find accidents and crime he can videotape and sell to local TV.

Before long, his relentlessness and complete lack of empathy turn him into a star shooter, who can name his own price at the bargain-basement local-news program he sells to (and can even lure the news director, played by Rene Russo, into a relationship). Gyllenhaal’s cheeks are sunken, his hair lank, his eyes burning with a strange feverishness that always seems just an inch from violence. Gilroy’s script gives him a series of motor-mouthed but highly formal speeches. He spews Gilroy’s dialogue with an urgency – and a cunning – that makes him impossible to take your eyes off in a movie that grabs you and never lets you go.

This review continues on my website.
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Kim Gordon And Arcade Fire Are In A Short Film Together, Commence Collective Squee

It’s true, the noise rock woman of your dreams and members of that Canadian indie sextet that made disco cool again are in a short film together. It is, as one might expect, deliriously creepy and gorgeous.

With equal bits Dali and Dada, the short film by Marcel Dzama, titled “Une Danse Des Bouffons (The Jester’s Dance),” premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last year. Kim Gordon stars in it, while Arcade Fire’s Will Butler, Jeremy Gara, and Tim Kingsbury helped score the black-and-white bit of silent cinema.

When this project came along, I thought maybe [Kim Gordon would] be interested and I asked her and she surprisingly said yes. So I was very happy,” Dzama explained to The Huffington Post last September. “There was actually a scene where I was going to have Kim sing a disco song in it. We made this whole disco song that was really great, but I got shy about asking Kim to sing. So then I didn’t put that part in the film.”

Well, we’re pretty sure the men of Arcade Fire can make up for the lack of Gordon-crooned disco in their own brand of ethereal soundscapes. Check out the trailer for the Dzama masterpiece below. The music will released as a 7″ via The Believer magazine. So we can all be excited about that.

h/t Consequence of Sound
Entertainment – The Huffington Post
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Kristen Stewart Opts For Sequin Pants Instead Of A Gown At Cannes Film Festival

Kristen Stewart decided to try out a different kind of look for the premiere of “Clouds of Sils Maria” at the Cannes Film Festival on May 23.

The 24-year-old actress, who stars in the film alongside Juliette Binoche and Chloe Grace Moretz, looked très chic in a Chanel couture two-piece jumpsuit, which she paired with nude heels. Stewart styled her orange locks in loose waves and rocked smokey eye makeup.

kristen stewart

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kristen stewart

kristen stewart

“I dress really practically, so when I do red carpet things, I like to go extreme on the other side of it,” Stewart recently told PopSugar of her beauty routine. “I really like working with people who love what they do and are a bit more bold. If you’re going to do that job, it’s always more interesting to find artists and not people who just want to get it done. It can be fun to find different aspects of myself, since it’s not usually what I do.”
Style – The Huffington Post
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New Joss Whedon Film ‘In Your Eyes’ Released Online

Good news, Joss Whedon fans: His latest movie isn’t just coming soon. It’s out right now.

“In Your Eyes,” written and produced by Whedon and directed by Brin Hill, was screened on Sunday night at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. Then, in a surprise move, Whedon announced it would be available immediately for digital download.

“It’s a very exciting night for us because it’s not just the premiere of the film. It is the worldwide release date because as of now, ‘In Your Eyes’ is available on any Internet-capable device at InYourEyesMovie.com for the starting price of $ 5,” Whedon said in a taped appearance shown after the film. “This is exciting for us because it means we get to explore yet another new form of distribution and we get $ 5.”

“In Your Eyes” is a supernatural romance starring Zoe Kazan and Michael Stahl-David, who share a telepathic bond. As the clip above shows, that connection first appears in childhood.

“It’s about two people, classic Joss loner heroes, who are looking to break out of their limited circumstances and band together — a la The Avengers and anything else he’s done — and find connection and meaning,” Hill told USA Today.

Hill told the Los Angeles Times that Whedon was not on set for filming, but provided both notes and guidance, and advised him “not to be precious, to make the movie as audience-friendly as possible.”

The movie was released by Bellwether Pictures, formed by Whedon and his wife, Kai Cole, to make small-budget films outside of the major studios. Whedon’s next big project — barring no more surprises in the meantime — is 2015’s “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

Entertainment – The Huffington Post
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Mae Whitman doesn’t want to Tinker with the way Disneytoon Studios has been running its “Fairies” film franchise

It was early 2008 when Mae Whitman got this mysterious call from her voiceover agent, Melissa.

“She was telling me that Disney had this very important project but that they wouldn’t tell Melissa what it actually was. All she knew that that they were eager for me to come in and audition for this part,” Whitman recalled during a 2012 interview.

So Mae went in for this audition. Where — once she got in front of that mic– Whitman discovered that she was just supposed to read a couple of very vaguely-written lines. There were nothing on these pages that gave Mae any information about the character that she was supposed to be voicing. Even stranger, the guys behind the glass in the recording booth were being very tight-lipped as well.

“I got none of the guidance that you typically get in a voiceover recording session. ‘Could you please say that line again only faster?,’ ‘Could you make your character sound more excited or happier?’ They just sat back and listened,” Whitman continued. “And since I’ve been doing voiceover work since I was five, which is why I’m very comfortable in a recording booth … Well, I just decided to be myself. Read those lines in my normal speaking voice.”

Ah, but what Mae didn’t know was that this wasn’t just any audition. After announcing back in June of 2006 that Brittany Murphy was going to be the official voice of Tinker Bell for a new series of Disney Fairies home premieres, Disneytoon Studios had now decided to go another way with this character. And the reason that they’d called Whitman in was that they were now considering her as someone who could possibly voice Peter Pan’s pixie pal.

“From what we’ve already seen of Tinker Bell in Disney’s 1953 animated feature, we knew that this character was curious. That she’s fun. She’s feisty. She’s super-loyal to Peter. Not to mention able to get angry. So we really needed to find a voice that could capture all of those emotions that we already knew about Tinker Bell without her even speaking,” explained Peggy Holmes, the director of Secret of the Wings & the soon-to-be-released The Pirate Fairy. “So we needed to find an actress that could portray that range of emotions. And Mae Whitman — thankfully — had that range. She can work onstage. She can work on film. She can work on television. And she can work in voiceover. And it’s all that experience that gave her the depth that we need for this iconic character.”

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And when Whitman found out that she was being offered the opportunity to voice Tinker Bell, she freaked.

“Now you have to understand that — when I was growing up — Peter Pan was my favorite Disney movie. So to now be part of the team that gets to go back to Never Land and have all these new adventures with characters that I’ve loved since childhood … Well, it’s honestly like a dream come true,” Mae enthused. “So for me, this job is definitely filled with love.”

Mind you, at this point, Whitman now has six Disney Fairies films & TV specials under her belt. And having spent all that time in Pixie Hollow, has the pixie dust now begun to fade for her?

“To be honestly, no,” Mae stated. “What’s great about the people at Disneytoon Studios is that — with each of these projects — they’ve then built out the world of Pixie Hollow bit by bit. With each film, they’ve brought in new characters. Better yet, they’ve allowed Tinker Bell and her friends to change and grow.”

“I mean, in the first Disney Fairies film, Tinker Bell didn’t even want to be a tinker. She wanted to change her talent. But at this point in the Disney Fairies film series, Tink is hugely proud of being a tinker fairy. She wouldn’t change her talent for anything in the world,” Whitman said. “That’s what I love about working on this series. The lessons carry over from movie to movie. More to the point, Tinker Bell herself changes from film & film. She’s always changing and growing.”

And speaking of growing … After spending the past five projects exploring this one teeny tiny corner of Never Land, the folks at Disneytoon Studios have decided to use The Pirate Fairy as an excuse to finally leave Pixie Hollow and go off & explore more of the island.

“The initial idea was to do a road trip adventure with Tinker Bell and her friends and this adventure dealt with a rogue fairy who was experimenting with pixie dust,” explained Jeffrey M. Howard, the screenwriter on “The Pirate Fairy.” “But once we had the idea of putting pirates into this ‘Disney Fairies’ film … Well, it only seemed natural to include the most famous Never Land pirate of all, Captain Hook.”

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Now do keep in mind that this is a far younger version of James Bartholomew Hook than we saw in Disney’s 1953 version of Peter Pan. But the story team at Disneytoon Studios actually turned this to their advantage by making The Pirate Fairy the very first time this Disney Villain fought using a hook or got chomped in the butt by Tic Toc the crocodile. And if you sit through the credits of this Disney Fairies film, you actually get to see that fateful moment where Hook first meets Mr. Smee.

And for someone like Mae Witman, who’s been a Peter Pan fan for as long as she can remember, doing voicework on a film where Tink and her friends actually visit Skull Rock and then do battle on a flying pirate ship that’s being powered by pixie dust … Well, you just know that this has to be a thrill.

“I just love that I get to be a part of this legacy at Disney,” Whitman admitted. “I mean, back in September of 2012, I got to be part of this D23 event which honored 75 years of Feature Animation. Which was where I was supposed to be paneling with Margaret Kerry — who was the live-action model for this character back in the early 1950s — and Ginny Mack — who Walt personally chose as the face model for Tinker Bell.”

“Now I’m backstage with Peggy Holmes, waiting to go. And just then it hits me that I’m now actually part of this Disney legacy. That I’m now one of the women who’s been entrusted with keeping the character of Tinker Bell alive & magical,” Mae remembered. “And I got so emotionally overwhelmed at that moment that Peggy actually had to walk me around for a little while and calm me down a little.”

“I just hope that — 60 years from now — when Disney’s putting together panels to promote the new holographic Tinker Bell movies that they’ll be making then that I’ll look as good as Margaret & Ginny did at that D23 presentation,” Whitman laughed.
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Derek Jarman Remembered: Will You Dance With Me? at London’s BFI LGBT Film Festival

There would have to be something miraculous about a new film by gay, British art-house director and artist Derek Jarman, but that’s exactly what London’s BFI Flare LGBT Film Festival offered last weekend. Jarman, who died 20 years ago, put together a VHS tape following people in a nightclub back in September 1984. Released for the first time as Will You Dance With Me?, the footage was to help fellow director Ron Peck with the casting and styling of his feature film Empire State, which eventually came into being, though without Jarman’s brilliant touch, three years later.

Watching 78 minutes of roving camera shot across a tiny dance floor and among the characters crowding around the bar of Benjy’s in Mile End, East London, may not sound like your idea of an evening’s entertainment, but think again. Remember, this is Derek Jarman behind the camera. He was a cinematic genius, a visual poet who could make spilt beer brooding.

Anyone who remembers the ’80s in Britain will recognize the scene: the carpeted floor, the dingy plush booths, the long pool of light that is the bar, the tininess of if all — everything, in fact, suggestive of someone’s front-room conversion rather than the cavernous, multilevel dance halls of later eras. This is the local disco with its twice-a-week gay nights, a place as thrilling and scary as any back alley for a 20-year-old out to hook up and pick up. Gay bars and pubs still blacked out their windows then, and no one really wanted to be seen entering or exiting. Within is a world of satin prints, cotton jumpers, ass-hugging slacks, New Romantic quiffs, perms, and lining the pints of beer up at the bar — paradise, in other words. My own personal paradise was The Coven in Oxford, where town met gown on a dance floor that was overcrowded with half a dozen people on it. There was the promise of sex, waking up in a strange bedroom, bussing home with Oxford’s commuters in last night’s underwear, a not-so-guilty secret, feeling special at last rather than feeling like a freak, knowing that you’re not alone.

The initial impression in the first few moments of Will You Dance With Me? is not exactly nostalgia but a sort of synesthetic sense memory of poppers, Stella Artois and Eau Sauvage. But if that was all it had to offer, it wouldn’t be worth more than five minutes of your time. Jarman cannot help but weave a plot from his material, following one dancer after another, ranging back to the bar to inspect the profile of a drag queen or zooming across the club to eavesdrop on a pretty boy blue and his older companion. The camera becomes a prowler, apparently omnivorous but actually on the hunt for something particular, something it will know when it sees it. There is wry humor here; quixotic dance routines elicited applause from the cinema audience. And the soundtrack was that of my early 20s: Sister Sledge, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Evelyn Thomas, the anvil beat of a generation’s heart, worth issuing on its own.

At last Jarman’s video narrator finds what he’s looking for, a handsome young man, chiseled, sensitive, though paradoxically a bit rough around the edges. “Will you dance with me?” he asks, giving the film’s producers their title. “In a minute,” the boy diffidently replies, as though turning down the likes of Derek Jarman were a nightly occurrence.

And the last 15 minutes or so of the film become a paean to this youth, or perhaps to youth itself. When he asks him to dance to camera, under the lights the young man’s face has an almost unbearably sad beauty to it, fragile and vulnerable — and we’re reminded that HIV/AIDS was already the uninvited guest at the party. How many there that night in 1984 would not see their 30s or 40s? Jarman himself only had 10 years left to live.

Phillip Williamson was the young man, and he went on to star in Jarman’s exquisite distillation of Shakespeare’s sonnets, The Angelic Conversation. Benjy’s was never used in the film, and the innovative handheld camerawork remained on a shelf for 30 years. Of course, the whole thing was set up, and that is the artistry of it, for the film feels like a video montage of an average night out. Although fashions may have changed (thankfully), and although the settings may have become slicker, the essential butterflies in the belly are still the same for today’s clubbers, which makes the movie universal.

Will You Dance With Me? is a worthy addition to Jarman’s stable, a splendid, romantic, heady, scrappy, noisy, artful hymn to a moment-in-time gay scene that is also for all time.

While there’s talk of a general release, Will You Dance With Me? will be at a film festival near you soon.
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Solo Debut: Film Themes – Easy Playalong Clarinet. Sheet Music

Solo Debut: Film Themes – Easy Playalong Clarinet. Sheet Music


Capture the magic of the silver screen with this special selection of themes from the world’s greatest movies, all arranged for the elementary Clarinet student. Ten melodies have been chosen from blockbusting Hollywood favourites including The Lion King , Toy Story , The Godfather and Lord Of The Rings . Each theme has been carefully adapted to be accessible to the early performer, giving you the chance to master your skills and techniques by playing the tunes you know and love. You will even find a section of helpful performance tips to guide your learning and inform your practicing. The accompanying CD has professional performances of every piece, alongside backing tracks for you to use for both rehearsal and performance. FREE internet downloads are also available with this publication, with piano accompaniments and practice demos downloadable to your computer along with 2 bonus tracks!

Price: $
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My Conversation With Filmmaker Robert Greenwald About His Film, Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars

Join me tonight on PBS for my conversation with award-winning filmmaker Robert Greenwald. He has exec-produced and/or directed more than 50 TV movies, miniseries and feature films. Through his company, Brave New Films, he also makes political video shorts and full-length documentaries — substantive investigations of social issues, told through personal stories, and creatively distributed through such outlets as the Internet and social media. His latest film, Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars, investigates the impact of drone strikes both here and abroad.

In the clip below, Greenwald shares his thoughts about President Obama’s “kill list” and why he is getting a pass on drone strikes.

For more of our conversation, be sure to tune in to Tavis Smiley tonight on PBS. Check out our website for your local TV listings: http://www.pbs.org/tavis.
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’33 Teeth,’ Evan Roberts Film, Now Available Online

“33 Teeth” is a short film from Evan Roberts that explores the blossoming sexuality of a 15-year-old boy in the suburbs as he observes the day-to-day life of his hunky next door neighbor.

Based on a story from Roberts’ youth, “33 Teeth” is now available online for the first time for free. In the short film, shy Eddie observes his neighbor measuring his manhood with a comb and decides to use the comb to enact revenge after being made fun of by his neighbor’s friend.

“A high school friend once told me he measured his dick with a comb, and I’ve never forgotten it,” Roberts told The Huffington Post. “I was always curious what kind of comb it was. I wasn’t out to myself at that point, so the comb in my imagination was a stand-in for my erotic frustrations.”

Check out the film above. If you enjoy Roberts’ work, check out his more recent film “Yeah Kowalski!” which is streaming through the Pictures Boys On Film DVD compilation and head here for more information about the filmmaker.
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2014 Foreign Language Film Symposium Honors International Filmmakers

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Golden Globe Awards are put on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association — a group of journalists who cover movies for international publications — so it’s fitting to pay special tribute to international filmmakers.

The HFPA did that Saturday at its 11th annual Foreign Language Film Symposium, which drew the directors of four of the five foreign-language films nominated at Sunday’s Golden Globes. Abdellatif Kechiche of France (“Blue is the Warmest Color”), Thomas Vinterberg of Denmark (“The Hunt”), Paolo Sorrentino of Italy (“The Great Beauty”) and Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi of Iran (“The Past”) discussed their work with each other and an audience of fans at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre.

Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, whose film “The Wind Rises” is also up for a Globe, wasn’t able to attend.

Apart from Vinterberg, who also works in English, each director was accompanied by an interpreter. All said that despite working in disparate languages, film transcends any such obstacles.

“Film is beyond all spoken language,” Vinterberg said. “The more local I get in my writing, the farther my film reaches.”

His nominated film, “The Hunt,” stars Mads Mikkelsen as a lonely teacher whose life is upended by an innocent lie.

“Blue is the Warmest Color” is a coming-of-age love story. “The Great Beauty” explores the indulgence of lavish nightlife. “The Past” deals with family relationships. “The Wind Rises” is about a dreamer who designed fighter planes in World War II.

Trailers for all five films up for the Golden Globe for best foreign-language film were shown at the symposium, where filmmakers also took questions from fans. The winner will be announced Sunday at the 71st annual Golden Globe Awards.

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AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen will be tweeting from the Golden Globe Awards at www.twitter.com/APSandy .

___

Online:

www.goldenglobes.com

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BAFTA Nominations: ‘Gravity,’ ’12 Years A Slave’ Leading Contenders Of UK Film Awards (VIDEO)

LONDON (AP) — Space thriller “Gravity” and unflinching slavery saga “12 Years a Slave” are among leading contenders for the Academy Film Awards, Britain’s equivalent of the Oscars.

“Gravity” has nominations in 11 categories, including best picture and lead actress, for Sandra Bullock. “12 Years” star Chiwetel Ejiofor and director Steve McQueen had 10 nominations, including for best picture.

Acting nominees announced Wednesday include Leonardo DiCaprio for “The Wolf of Wall Street” and Judi Dench for “Philomena.”

The British prizes, known as BAFTAs, will be awarded at London’s Royal Opera House on Feb. 16.

They are considered an indicator of likely success at Hollywood’s Academy Awards two weeks later. Last year, Iran hostage drama “Argo” took the BAFTA for best film and the best-picture Oscar.

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Online: http://www.bafta.org
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Live from the Dubai International Film Festival: Wednesday, Dec. 11

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Another strong day at the Dubai International Film Festival kicked off for me with a morning press screening of a film I tried to see at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival this past summer – but was denied because of a breakdown in the subtitle technology.

Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox has toured the film festival circuit since then and will open in February 2014 in the U.S. It’s a soulful, thought-provoking tale featuring two central performances that can’t help but stir you.

Nimrat Kaur plays Ila, a Mumbai housewife who dutifully cooks her husband a lavish, multicourse lunch, which she packs in a metal tiffin box. Then a courier picks it up and delivers it by train to the office where her husband works.

(The film’s opening is a brief but fascinating short-course in an incredibly complex lumch-delivery system in Mumbai that somehow seems to work, despite what seems like a dependence on old technology and systems.)

But on this day, her careful preparation of curry, rice and more goes astray – and lands on the desk of a soon-to-retire insurance-claims examiner, Saajan, played by the amazing Irrfan Khan (best known to American audiences for his work in The Namesake, Slumdog Millionaire” and Life of Pi). He’d contracted with a diner near his apartment for lunch for years – but this food was significantly better. So he eats it all.

Which surprises Ila because, apparently, her husband never sends the used lunchbox back looking as though it’s been licked clean, the way Saajan did. She puts a note in with the chapatti bread the next day – and Saajan responds. Before long, they’ve struck up a correspondence, which deepens into an epistolary relationship, though they’ve never met.

The film is a marvel of understatement and intelligence, exploring the loneliness and regret two people are able to express to each other, perhaps because they are strangers. The correspondence changes their outlook, makes them a little more aware of their regrets – and of what they can do to get rid of those regrets and make a fresh start. As one character notes, “Sometimes the wrong train takes you to the right station.” These character studies make The Lunchbox a movie to be keenly anticipated by American audiences.

Louise Archambault’s Gabrielle” had the potential to be something cloying and awful, given its focus on a mentally challenged couple, their romance and the objections of the young man’s mother. Archambault cast Gabrielle Marion-Rivard, a young woman with Williams’ syndrome, in the title role – and she delivers a real performance (as does actor Alexandre Landry, as Martin, the young man she’s in love with).

This commentary continues on my website.
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Live from the Dubai International Film Festival: Monday, Dec. 9

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How bad can a film-festival day be when you see four movies – and only one of them is terrible? And the best one is the last one of the day?

That was my Monday at the Dubai International Film Festival.

The best film of the day was a joint production from Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and the USA: Traitors, a film by American filmmaker Sean Gullette (who was the star of Darren Aronofsky’s breakthrough debut, Pi).

Starring newcomer Chaimae Ben Acha as a would-be punk-rocker in Tangier named Malika, the film starts with her meeting with a producer, who tells Malika she likes her songs on the rough demo she sent her. So she’s willing to produce a real demo for Malika and her band, Traitors, and try to get them signed.

One catch: Malika has to come up with the money for the recording studio time, a fairly princely sum for an unemployed singer. “I’m a producer, not an ATM,” the producer notes.

Desperate, Malika takes a job that will earn her all the cash – but which could cost her more. She agrees to help a drug smuggler by driving an SUV into the mountains, where the car’s cavities will be filled with drugs. Then she and another young woman, Amal (Soufia Issami), will drive it back to Tangiers – through the various drug-interdiction roadblocks along the way. But the farther into the job Malika gets, the less she wants to do it.

There are not a lot of actual incidents in the film: no chases or shootouts. Yet Gullette creates real tension, through silences, quiet encounters with the drug lord and the extremely expressive face of Ben Acha. She looks like a cross between Rashida Jones and a young Joan Jett and has the tough swagger of Lisbeth Salander from the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books. Issami also brings a blend of the callous and the vulnerable as her new acquaintance and partner in crime. It’s a strong, gripping film from start to finish.

This commentary continues on my website.
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