May 10, 2011 6:50am EST
Sebastian Silva's phenomenal 2009 film La Nana went criminally under-seen in the US despite being nominated for a Foreign Language Golden Globe, but with the help of a B-list American actor his next project should garner more attention. Variety reports that the Spanish filmmaker will team with Michael Cera for Magic, Magic, an indie thriller that he'll write and direct. Mike White and Christine Vachom are producing.
The logline says that the movie will center on a girl who begins to lose her mental faculties while vacationing in Chile with a group of friends. She tries to get her friends' attention, but they ignore her until it's too late. Some friends, huh? My guess is that Cera's character will intervene and try to help but will face the full terror of the crazed woman all by himself. To be honest, this could be the makings of a pretty cool horror pic, but I doubt that the film will go down that road.
The source notes that the female lead is not yet cast, and the film basically hinges on whether or not the chosen actress can deliver a believable mental breakdown. Having seen La Nana, I can say that Silva knows a thing or two about working with actresses and drawing the most psychologically and emotionally truthful performance from them, so Magic, Magic could potentially be a bigger deal for the undetermined co-star than Cera, who to date has not proven that he has anything but dry wit to offer. The reason he was good in Scott Pilgrim was because he had talented actresses and co-stars to work off of, so he'd better be praying that Silva can land someone on par with Mary Elizabeth Winstead or Anna Kendrick. As a matter of fact, Silva should just cast on of them; they'd be perfect for the part.
April 18, 2011 10:49am EST
The Tribeca Film Festival starts in a couple of days -- and to say the least, we're pretty excited. The festival features premieres of numerous films, including Troll Hunter, Newlyweds, a Kings of Leon documentary, and quite a few others. Now, the festival has announced the 38 lucky folks -- including David O. Russell, Whoopi Goldberg, Rainn Wilson, and numerous others -- who will judge these fine films. For more details, see the official release below:
New York, NY – April 18, 2010 – The Tribeca Film Festival (TFF), presented by American Express, the Founding Sponsor of the Festival, today announced its jurors – a diverse and talented group of 38 individuals, including award-winning filmmakers and screenwriters, celebrated actors, respected journalists and media pioneers. They will be divided among the six competitive Festival categories and will announce the winning films, filmmakers and actors in those categories at the TFF Awards Night ceremony on April 28 hosted by Gideon Yago, which will be streamed live on TribecaFilm.com. The 2011 Festival runs from April 20 – May 1.
“This year’s jury is made up of a range of accomplished individuals in their respective fields, bringing a fresh and well-rounded perspective,” said Jane Rosenthal, Co-Founder of the Tribeca Film Festival. “It’s an honor to have a jury of such caliber watching and discussing the films in competition this year.”
Following is a list of all 2011 Festival jurors and their respective categories.
World Competition Categories:
The jurors for the 2011 World Narrative Competition are:
Souleymane Cissé: Noted Malian director; films include the 1995 Cannes Palme d’Or nominee Waati, 1987 Cannes Jury Prize Winner Brightness and Tell Me Who You Are.
Scott Glenn: Actor; films include The Right Stuff, The Silence of the Lambs, The Virgin Suicides, Freedom Writers, The Bourne Ultimatum, W., Secretariat, Sucker Punch and TFF 2011 selection Magic Valley.
David Gordon Green: Independent Spirit Award nominated director/producer; films include George Washington, All the Real Girls, Great World of Sound, Pineapple Express, the recently released Your Highness and the upcoming film The Sitter.
Rula Jebreal: Journalist, author, screenwriter and actress: books include The Bride From Assuan, Rejected and Miral, which was adapted into a film of the same name.
Art Linson: Gotham award winning producer; films include Singles, Fight Club, Lords of Dogtown, Into the Wild, What Just Happened and The Runaways.
Jason Sudeikis: Actor. Best known for roles in Going the Distance, Hall Pass and 2011 TFF selection A Good Old Fashioned Orgy. Also a cast member on television’s Saturday Night Live.
Dianne Wiest: Oscar, Golden Globe and SAG award winning actress; films include Hannah and Her Sisters, Edward Scissorhands, Bullets Over Broadway, Synecdoche, New York and the upcoming The Odd Life of Timothy Green.
The jurors for the 2011 World Documentary Competition are:
Amir Bar-Lev: Documentary filmmaker and producer; films include Fighter, My Kid Could Paint That, The Tillman Story and the upcoming Garcia.
Michael Cera: BAFTA and SAG Award nominated actor; films include Superbad, Juno, Youth In Revolt, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Currently filming The Untitled Mark Webber Project.
RJ Cutler: Oscar nominee and Emmy Award winning director/producer; films include The War Room, Thin, and The September Issue.
Abigail Disney: Film producer and philanthropist; films include 2008 TFF Best Documentary Winner, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, Children of Invention, Sons of Perdition and the upcoming narrative feature Return.
Whoopi Goldberg: Moderator on television’s The View, and actress, comedian, humanitarian with Oscar, Golden Globe, Emmy, Tony and Grammy wins. Recent films include Toy Story 3, For Colored Girls and the upcoming A Little Bit of Heaven.
Louie Psihoyos: Oscar and DGA winning director; films include The Cove and the upcoming The Singing Planet.
Peter Scarlet: Executive Director of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, former Artistic Director of TFF and former Director of the Cinematheque Francaise.
Emerging Competition Categories:
The jurors for the 2011 Emerging Narrative Competition are:
Paul Dano: Independent Spirit and SAG award nominated actor; films include L.I.E., Little Miss Sunshine, There Will Be Blood, the recently released Meek’s Cutoff and the upcoming Another Bulls--t Night in Suck City.
Atom Egoyan: Oscar, Golden Palm and Independent Spirit Award nominated director/producer; films include Exotica, The Sweet Hereafter, Felicia’s Journey, Where the Truth Lies, Adoration, and Chloe.
Zoe Kazan: TFF 2009 Best Actress winner for The Exploding Girl; other films include Me and Orson Welles, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, It’s Complicated and the recently released films Happythankyoumoreplease, and Meek’s Cutoff.
Anna Kendrick: Oscar, BAFTA, Golden Globe , SAG, Independent Spirit and Tony award nominated actress; films include Rocket Science, the Twilight series, Up in the Air, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and the upcoming Live With It.
Rainn Wilson: Emmy and SAG Award nominee for television’s The Office; films include Juno, The Rocker, Hesher and the just completed Few Options.
The jurors for the 2011 Emerging Documentary Competition are:
Margaret Bodde: Documentary producer and film preservationist; films include No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, Time Piece, Public Speaking and the upcoming Living in the Material World: George Harrison.
Jared Cohen: Director of Google Ideas, Adjunct Fellow at the Council for Foreign Relations and Author of One Hundred Days of Silence: America and the Rwanda Genocide, and Children of Jihad: A Young American's Travels Among the Youth of the Middle East
J.D. Heyman: Executive Editor of People and former editor at Us Weekly. Held editorial positions at Cosmopolitan and the New York Daily News. Author of books include Get a Life: A Guide to Jobs, Money and the Real World, and The Singled Out Guide to Dating.
Lauren Hutton: Fashion icon, actress, television host and beauty industry pioneer. Film roles include American Gigolo and, more recently, The Joneses. Guest star on television’s Nip/Tuck and host of several shows, including a late-night talk show.
Annie Sundberg: IFC and Sundance award nominated director; films include The Trials of Darryl Hunt, The Devil Came on Horseback and Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.
Short Film Competition Categories:
The jurors for the 2011 Narrative Short Film Competition are:
David O. Russell: Oscar, Golden Globe nominee and Independent Spirit Award Winner: films include Spanking the Monkey, Flirting with Disaster, Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees, The Fighter and the upcoming Nailed.
Nora Ephron: Multiple Oscar, Golden Globe nominated and BAFTA winning writer-director; films include Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally …, Sleepless in Seattle and Julie and Julia.
Ceci Kurzman: Founder of Nexus Management Group, whose clients include Shakira, and consultant for the Global Philanthropy Group.
Denis Leary: Golden Globe and Emmy nominate actor/writer/producer; work includes Rescue Me, In Search of Ted Demme and the Ice Age films.
Fran Lebowitz: Author noted for her social commentary, recently the subject of the HBO documentary Public Speaking, directed by Martin Scorsese.
Paul Schneider: Actor and screenwriter; films include All the Real Girls, The Family Stone, Lars & the Real Girl, Bright Star, Away We Go & the upcoming Water for Elephants.
Jimmy Wales: Internet entrepreneur and Co-founder of Wkipedia.
The jurors for the 2011 Documentary and Student Short Film Competitions are:
Ahmed Ahmed: Comedian and director; noted for his directorial debut Just Like Us, an official selection of the 2010 Tribeca and Doha Tribeca film festivals. Other films include the UAE film City of Life and Iron Man.
Agnes Gund: President Emerita of MoMA, noted philanthropist, and collector of modern and contemporary art.
Zoe Kravitz: Actress; film roles include The Brave One, Birds of America, The Greatest and the upcoming Beware the Gonzo (a 2010 TFF selection and upcoming release by Tribeca Film), Yelling to the Sky and X:Men: First Class.
Nicole Lapin: Anchor of CNBC’s Worldwide Exchange, contributor to Today, Morning Joe, Daily Rundown, and Jansing & Co, as well as the Huffington Post. Former anchor at CNN.
Lisa Shields: VP of Communications and Marketing, Council on Foreign Relations.
Christine Vachon: Independent Spirit Award winning producer. Films and television projects include Mildred Pierce, Safe, I Shot Andy Warhol, Boys Don’t Cry, Far From Heaven, I’m Not There, and Cairo Time.
Patrick Wilson: Golden Globe nominated actor; best known for Little Children, Watchmen, Hard Candy and Angels in America; upcoming films include The Ledge, and Young Adult.
Together, the six TFF juries will award $175,000 in cash and prizes. Festival winners will also receive a piece of original art by an acclaimed artist as part of the Tribeca Film Festival Artists Awards program.
April 18, 2011 10:15am EST
The eclectic quartet will join Dianne Wiest, Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Rainn Wilson, Anna Kendrick and Atom Egoyan on the panel.
The 38 judges will be divided among the six competitive festival categories and will announce the winning films, filmmakers and actors in those categories at the Tribeca Awards Night ceremony on 28 April (11).
April 07, 2011 11:01am EST
Last year, while covering the 2010 TriBeca Film Festival, I saw a little indie called Meet Monica Velour, the feature debut of writer/director Keith Bearden. I learned a lot that day. I learned that a guy who was in my shoes, a film journalist, could become a filmmaker. I learned that Kim Cattrall isn't stuck in Sex and the City mode; she's out there on stage and in smaller films doing great work that's sadly under-seen. I also learned of young Dustin Ingram, a fine actor who shares frames with Cattrall, Brian Dennehy and Keith David in Meet Monica Velour and steals nearly every scene he's in with them.
That's the great thing about film festivals in general: they open your eyes to a whole new world of films flying under the radar. Films that are a great alternative to the kind of studio schlock that permeates the multiplexes of America. This weekend, if you're not interested in seeing pot-smoking Knight's or yet another remake that shouldn't have been done, check out Meet Monica Velour, a film with as much heart as its director and star have potential.
I was lucky enough to catch up with Bearden and Ingram nearly a year after I saw their film for the first time last week and talk about where they came from, where they're at now and where they're going. Check it out below:
*** *** *** ***
Dustin Ingram: So (in your review) you called (my character) Tobe "the bastard child of Napoleon Dynamite and Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka". I understand the Napoleon Dynamite part, where do you see Willy Wonka?
DH: Well it's more from a physical standpoint. You’re got a kind of wirey frame. You’re hair was all out there and everything. There’s a bit of weirdness to the character.
DI: Oh he’s off.
DH: He’s definitely a bit off-kilter. Look, I’m a collector of random things myself but his specific focus of what he’s into is not what the typical American teen is into now. He’s a very eclectic person and that’s what I liked about it. Keith must have written a very awkward person to begin with.
DI: From page to screen the character went through a lot of evolution. He’s nostalgic without having anything to be nostalgic about. He was just born nostalgic. He loves the best cars from the '50s, the best movies from the '70s, the best music from the '30s. And I wish you could see more of his room because it's so specific. There’s an Ethel Merman disc album and Captain Beefheart poster. We don’t focus on them too much but just enough in the panning shot. Anybody who is into this smorgasbord of pop culture has to be an individual. And I thought he doesn’t want to live in the now, he doesn’t want to be here now, he wants to live in the past. He missed the days of dressing up and putting on tails and a suit and wearing gloves. He missed all that. He’s out of place.
DH: I saw the film at Tribeca last year. You were there, [director] Keith was there and it was probably my favorite film I saw last year at the festival. How has your life changed between then and now.
DI: It’s been three years in total since we wrapped which has been excruciating because Keith has been working on it 5 or 6 years even before we started shooting. It's been a part of our lives for a long time, but in the last year a lot has changed. We’ll get really personal here if you want. April 1st marks the anniversary of the day my past relationship ended and it's weird how we broke up during the TriBeca Film Festival and now a year later it's premiering. It's very strange. It’s weird, there’s a lot tied to this. A lot has changed. I’m not really sure what exactly, but I’m sensing it.
DH: You’re a young guy and you shot the film years ago where you were sharing the screen with Brian Dennehy and Kim Cattrall and Keith David - they’re all legends. Was there any intimidation on set?
DI: The night before I met Brian or Keith for the first time, I played it out in my mind and that was extremely intimidating and I would imagine what they would be like and what they'd say. These guys have been doing it for so long and I’ve only been doing it since I was five but not professionally and I didn’t have anywhere near as much understanding as they do. It was amazing, Brian would ask what kind of lens they were using and he’d go, "so about right here" and it was perfect every time. But I would arrive on set and be the most professional actor I could be and introduce myself to him. And one of the first things Brian said to Keith and I, "boy, look at the schnauzers on you two". But they were so kind and so nurturing and Brian would just sit in the transportation van and talk to me about theater. He was a lot like my grandfather and I would ask him questions. Same thing with Keith David. It was amazing, like a magician revealing his secrets. But it was cool because a magician would only reveal their secrets to another magician he deemed worthy of their secrets, so it was quite humbling when he talked about his methods.
DH: From the inside looking out can you describe the relationship between Toby and Monica, or Linda, as that's who she really is?
DI: The version of her is Monica, as much as Toby likes to think he knows who Linda is. At the point in his life depicted in the film he’s not able to grasp the shit going on with Linda. But he understands Monica; he sleeps with her every night. But I always saw it as his second chance at [having] a Mother which is great because he grew up without a Mom or a Dad. And I always saw Monica as a sexualized version of his mother. So he seeks her approval and her trust because it means the world to him since he never had that. So when he effects her life and she effects his life in a drastic way, Keith describes it as a page turn. I describe it as Tobe turning the table of contents and Monica closing the cover of her book. So that’s when it's heartbreaking when he loses his mom for a second time.
Yet it’s two-fold because she’s acting as a fantasy girlfriend and probably the closest thing to a mom he’s ever had. He’s the most complicated character in the film, she has her complications with her family, but in terms of internal conflict he's the most complex character. He’s awkward and disaffected and steadfast in his admiration for her. He does almost go to hell and back for her. She [Kim Cattrall] told me in the beginning of the film, "Oh that kid gets the shit kicked out of him everyday. And for some reason he cares about this woman do much he’ll talk back to these four guys who are clearly going to beat him up again".
DH: Was that a part of the discussion when you were creating the character, the fact that there is so much going on within him?
DI: Keith and I talked about that and that was one of the things he asked me about in the call back. He didn’t like me in my first audition, he didn’t like me at all but the producers told him he needed more people. Apparently he asked all the kids if they had ever been in love at the callback and most of them said "no, I don’t really know what that is yet." They were younger than me and I felt that I had been in love and he brought that up when talking about the complexity of Tobe. And he said "you’re a complex guy, you come from a very interesting background. A lot of things have happened in your life and if you trust that and allow that to ride on the words that Tobe says and on the actions he takes, it will be complex. You won’t have to make him interesting."
DH: You’re life really did inform the character then?
DI: I’m not like Tobe, but I am. I was picked on in school. And I was into old things. So there were definitely parts.
DH: I would imagine you’ve gotten more comparisons to Napoleon Dynamite, but you explore a lot more emotional depth than in ND. The real question is whether or not it bothers you or whether or not you embrace it? How do you take those comparisons?
DI: When I get a break down for an audition, it usually says "awkward," "geek" or "think Michael Cera", that sort of thing. While it is frustrating, it is a blast to reinvent the nerd.
DH: It’s been done throughout the years and you’re taking it to a new level.
DI: The whole ND thing, it was really frustrating at first. Yes my hair is curly and I wear those glasses and I'm tall and lanky and naturally the first thing that comes to mind is a well-know pop culture reference. That is how people deal with life, you compare things to other things. Not to get too meta, but it's like Monica Velour, people are going to look at her and judge her based solely on her looks and/or her past. So if people take the time to see it and really pay attention to it, it’s definitely a different performance and stands out. Our film has subplots and subtext in there.
DH: On subtext, I found that the greatest message in the film pertained to the hegemonic viewpoint towards women when they get to a certain age and we kind of discard them. Do you agree that that was sort of an intention of the film?
DI: It definitely is and Keith will tell you it was. I think it's extremely important because Kim works all the time, so for the most part people haven’t thrown Kim Cattrall out but with other actresses yeah that is the case. I’m most definitely a male feminist or a pro-feminist male. I think it's extremely important and we’ve had discussions with feminists who have seen the film and are rooted in that community who see it for what it is. And if people sort of read a quick synopsis they'll think it's about a porn star with Kim Cattrall, it’ll be sleazy. But it's so much more than that and it's because of Keith.
DH: If you were going to set Tobe up on a blind date how would you describe him to that person?
DI: I would say to the girl, if Toby is still interested in girls at that point, he is a wonderful soul, he has the biggest heart in the world and if you let him in and accept him for who he is, you’ll experience the biggest love you’ve ever had. If he likes you, that is.
DH: I was there at TriBeca last year, where you told the audience that you came from the world of film journalism. What's it like going from my side of the table to yours?
Keith Bearden: It's really good because I feel like being a film journalist is like being in film school. I went to film school but film school is taught by failures. As a journalist, you get to sit on a couch and have 20 minutes with Wener Herzog, John Sayles or Scorsese and even if it's only 20 minutes you’re getting real experience from people who know what they’re doing and know the reality of the film business and the reality of day-to-day shooting. You know there are people who are teaching film school who haven’t shot a movie. They know how to thread a Bolex camera or cut in Avid but they don’t have experience with the creative process. It's really great, it’s helped me prepare. Also, I think to succeed in art in this time in America you have to be completely devoted to it. Cinema is like my church. Immersing myself in the history, it's like studying the Torah, to talk to all these great filmmakers, you’re getting history, art, wisdom, that was all really important. I almost feel like actual film school is superfluous.
DH: You also mentioned the different elements of learning the Torah. Of course we all had to learn to read Hebrew and understand the preciseness of the language, but for me the best part was always the stories. It's the richness of those biblical stories that probably brought me here today, the love for stories and storytelling. It's not so much about whether or not you can set up the tripod the right way, but it's about knowing what's a compelling story.
KB: People don’t care about whether you're the best DP in the world. People are attracted to stories. Years ago I spoke at the Art Institute and was talking to the kids about their projects and one guy was like "I have a movie and want to get a feature made" so I asked whats it's about. And he’s like "it's just like Mean Streets, the Scorsese movie." And I was like "Mean Streets is on DVD. Tell me a story that's new and that's yours. If you’re just doing something that’s like something else...look, getting a movie made is so impossible and if you get your one or two or five movies out there at least do something new and different and something they can’t already get. It's not like the old days when you do a remake of a movie from ten years ago when people couldn’t get to see the first movie. You can see everything now.
DH: In terms of film journalism versus screenwriting, what's the biggest difference/challenge in going from critical to creative writing?
KB: It's a really good exercise to write down why a movie works and why it doesn’t. That really helps when you’re structuring or editing your own movie. You develop that critical mind and use it when you’re writing or directing. As far as creative writing it's totally different. My script writing started to take off when I stopped journalism or slowed down on the journalism because it uses different parts of your creative brain. It's about creating characters and not analyzing characters; it's the same coin but a different side.
DH: I guess there aren’t as many rules. You’re not adhering to a formula. You don't have to get inside their head because you’re making their head.
KB: Exactly. The loose ends of a script, a very important part of the script, a lot of the stuff that goes into you writing a script doesn’t actually end up on the paper. I wrote a biography of Monica Velour, we talked about her history, her friends that you don’t see in the movie. There are plots written down for all the porno movies you see snippets of in the movie; it helps inform the movie and the character.
DH: The film holds Americana in such high regard. Was this love from your own youth or, again, did you totally disregard yourself and create it all?
Because kids have access to everything with the internet and CDs and DVDs, they have access to a lot more stuff. I don’t believe in irony so everything in the movie is something I like. I don’t think its funny to put something in that's bad and pretend I like it. There are things in there that I'm not necessarily into; things like comic books and 70s porn. It's just a situation that really told an interesting story. When you have someone who's a sex object and never made a lot of money and that’s all she’s known. She's not Marylin Monroe, who was also an actress, but what happens when we don’t want them anymore? That was the crux and 70s porn was a perfect example. Those women were stars, it's not like it is now when every woman in Czechovslovakia has her own porn movie.
DH: ...And people may have followed a star from film to film.
KB: There were like 10 of them and they were in real theaters and they were all over the world. So people really they had their names in the marquee and people knew who they were. It was the ultimate example of what happened to people like Brook Adams and Karen Allen. If you know movies from the 70s, they were huge. But who are they know?
DH: I thought the real message, if there was one, at the heart of the film was about how the world looks at women past their prime, is that the message and was it deliberate decision?
KB: Yeah, I always thought it was really weird that people like Harrison Ford and Sean Connery are always in action movies where women are swooning over them. How fucking old are they? Where’s the equivalent? Sean is very cool and is a dashing sex symbol in his 60s and 70s. Well, our society says that is still okay but now for women. That seemed like a ridiculous double standard and also it's not the same in other countries. I work a lot in France and if you’re a sex symbol there then you’re one forever. Catherine Deneuve and Bridgette Bardot will always be sexy. I even have a friend in England who's like 24 and met an old English sex icon, the English Marilyn Monroe who is now 75 years old and he was like, "I mean, she's old but I thought I just gotta do it." We don’t think like that in America.
We have a real double standard and no one really talks about it. The best way to do anything is to do a little bit of a fairy tale and if I made a documentary about it, it would be dreadful and only people that agree with it would see it. Porn is something that's extreme enough and distant enough from what most people think about that you can use it like a fun house mirror to look at ourselves. I'd rather do that than normal people having this existential crisis about getting older. I’d rather have an exaggerated reflection because, let's be honest, porn chews women up and spits them out. They have 2, 5, maybe 10 years, whereas the men will always work.
DH: With this interview I'm very much introducing you to the world, because not many people out there know of you. So I was wondering if you can talk a bit about your influences?
KB: I started out watching horror movies as a kid. I loved monster movies, Godzilla, I was just a horror movie fan. And science fiction. I saw star wars in the theater when I was young and that really blew my mind. I haven’t seen it since i saw it as a kid and don’t want to see it again. But I think my influences, the movies I really liked that informed me, American and European 70s films, all the odd humanistic tones in those film. I loved a lot of exploitation, I loved Russ Myers, the genre directors, John Carpenter. And i also loved the comedies of the 30s. Comedy was really in its prime then: W.C. Fields, the Marx Bros, Mae West, the Little Rascals. There’s a moment in Monica Velour that is directly copied from the Rascals. I love German new wave, Werner Herzog, America indies. Being a film fan is like being a music fan. You might start off heavy metal, that’s what you like when you’re young but then you start to listen to their influences and you hear other people who can play really good and you’re circle widens.
George Lucas always talked about the Seven Samurai and the Battle of Algiers; well i love Star Wars so I’ll watch those. Also I think the most important thing is to have a world perspective and I think that I try to bring a perception. The most important thing a movie can do is take you to a place you’re surprised you haven’t been to, like a dream. It isn’t normal, but it takes something normal and takes it to a weird place. That's why dreams are so vivid. I wanted to make a movie that people could really wrap their heads around, a teenager falls for an old porn star, you want to take people to a surprising place whether it's more thoughtful or more odd or you just want to do things in a different way.
March 09, 2011 12:15pm EST
"I'm actually looking for a boyfriend... (someone like) Shia LaBeouf and Zac Efron put together with a Michael Cera personality." iCARLY star MIRANDA COSGROVE is on the hunt for a dream date.
March 04, 2011 11:39am EST
The names Max Winkler and Matt Spicer may not have the cachet of some other famed writer-director/writer-producer teams yet, but the filmmaking duo are preparing to take Hollywood by storm.
First up for the team is their feature debut, Ceremony, which Winkler wrote and directed and Spicer produced, coming to theaters April 8 with stars Uma Thurman and Michael Angarano. Meanwhile, they have also sold two high profile scripts to studios - The Ornate Anatomy of Living Things and The Adventurer's Handbook (which they wrote with Jonah Hill) - which have been generating a lot of buzz after the positive reviews (and Wes Anderson comparisons) Ceremony received on the various festival circuits last year.
And, as we already reported earlier today, Winkler and Spicer just sold First Man to Paramount Pictures, a pitch that has Jackass ringleader Johnny Knoxville starring as the rowdy husband of a woman recently elected President.
On top of that, we are now hearing more about another project, Whispers in Bedlam, a comedy with a Field of Dreams-type sensibility, which indie darling Jason Reitman (Up In the Air, Juno) asked the duo to write. The film would center on a football player who develops the ability to hear voices over long distances after undergoing an experimental surgery.
"It's… like a Frank Capra movie, tonally, it's a period piece in the '50s/'60s about old school football. Reitman always wanted it to be like a fairy tale that your grandfather would tell you before you go to bed at night," Winkler told The Playlist. "He offered it to us and we loved the story. I'm a really big football fan, and the language of the short story [by author Irwin Shaw] is so great."
If you're intrigued by all the press surrounding the Winkler-Spicer team, make sure to check out Ceremony when it hits theaters this time next month. In the meantime, you should check out the webisode series Clark and Michael (starring Michael Cera and Clark Duke), which Winkler directed. It's probably not representative of his evolving style, but it's damn funny anyway.
Source: The Playlist
February 10, 2011 12:15pm EST
The actor is reteaming with his Youth in Revolt director Miguel Arteta for a new comedy shot entirely in Spanish.
The Maid will be shot on location in Chile and Cera is taking language lessons to perfect his Spanish before the filming starts.
Arteta tells ThePlaylist.com, "He is spending five hours a day learning Spanish."
February 09, 2011 9:13am EST
If you've never heard of Sebastian Silva, you have now. The Chilean filmmaker wrote and directed the Golden Globe-nominated foreign film La Nana, or The Maid for those who took French in high school. It is a fascinating and voyeuristic examination of a sub-culture of domestic servants as well as an entertaining character study. The young auteur has a promising future ahead of him and that future could be a bit brighter as he's apparently ready to make a movie that Hollywood could embrace.
The Playlist reports that the director will team with Michael Cera on a new, untitled project. The catch? Cera will perform in Spanish, a first for the Scott Pilgrim star. There aren't any details regarding the film, but the source says that Cera is "spending five hours a day learning Spanish" in an attempt to fool us into thinking he's been a foreign actor working on English-language films (and TV shows) all along. Perhaps as an explanation for his monotonous characters? Maybe.
Either way, Cera isn't the reason this story deserves your attention. Silva is the major talent; an entertainment-producing import that Americans should be happy to have. Casting Cera doesn't necessarily ensure that the forthcoming film will receive domestic distribution; even Will Ferrell's untitled Spanish comedy, which boasts co-stars like Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal, hasn't gotten a deal yet. But I'm just happy knowing that Silva has a chance at breaking into Hollywood, because his art deserves to be seen by a larger audience.
Source: The Playlist
January 26, 2011 10:57am EST
With the announcement of the nominees for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards comes a wave of criticism and praise. Here at Hollywood.com, we're incredibly opinionated and our editorial staff had a few things to say about the nominations. Read on for commentary:
Kelsea Stahler says:
Every year when the Oscar nominations come out, verbal punches are thrown and praises are sung because there's always a surprise or two (Hello, where is Christopher Nolan's nomination for Best Director? But good job with the Hailee Steinfeld nom!) and they spur lots of lively debate, but ever since last year when the Academy decided to include 10 films on the Best Picture roster, I've felt that debate has lacked teeth. It was a fun little experiment last year, but I had hoped that would be the end of it; yet here we are with 10 more Best Picture nominees. Those on the other side of the fence have argued that greater number of nominations gives smaller films a chance for recognition, but here's the thing: if they wouldn't have been nominated when there were only five slots available, they aren't going to win now and with the probability of getting nominated doubled, the nomination frankly means less.
Yes, Winter's Bone or Toy Story 3 wouldn't likely be seen in a category of five Best Pictures instead of 10, but should a film like either of those make it in there with a limited number of noms, it would be a HUGE honor and a serious coup. It would have monumental significance. Doubling the nominations is a band-aid remedy to help with a larger problem and that is that generally with only five slots the Academy tends to fill out nominations with the films we expect to see from a prescribed docket of genres. I agree, this is an issue, but in all honesty, that problem lies with the Academy and no number of nominees can fix that.
Sam Morgan says:
My momma always told me to live up to what I believe in, so I’m not going to sugar coat this. I believe Edgar Wright should have been nominated for Best Director. I know everyone is up in arms about Nolan getting shafted (again [snicker]), but I think Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is one of the most unique and stunningly visual films of the year. Not to mention he directed some of the best performances of the year (and yes, that includes Michael Cera). But now with my bitching over, I’ll go with The Social Network for Best Picture and everything else. I enjoyed the hell out of The King’s Speech, but I think TSN pushes the boundaries of film farther than any other nominated.
Eric Sundermann says:
Well, first off, no Best Director nomination for Nolan? Come on. I know Inception doesn't fit the traditional mold for Oscar films (you know, biopics and really serious, character-focused dramas), but Inception was a brilliant new take on the heist-film genre. Plus, the Academy owed him for The Dark Knight getting snubbed a couple years ago. But my next and biggest complaint? Where's the love for Blue Valentine? Yes, I'm very thankful that Michelle Williams got nominated, but no film since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind has illustrated the downfall of a relationship in such a poignant, elegant way. It at least deserved a nod for Best Screenplay (after all, it took Derek Cianfrance approximately 12 years to write). And I'd even argue that it deserved a spot in the Best Picture category. You can't win 'em all, I guess, and overall I'm pretty satisfied with the Academy this year. But then again, 2010 is the same year that gave us films like The Last Airbender and Skyline, so perhaps it's not the Academy's fault, but instead, the year of 2010.
Daniel Hubschman says:
My colleagues have pointed out most of my gripes with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, but I've got a few bits of blabber to unleash myself. Yes, I'm upset that Chris Nolan was shut out of the Best Director category, but he's a near lock for the Best Original Screenplay award. I was not a fan of The Kids Are All Right and can't believe that it has come this far during awards season, but Annette Bening deserves her win already so I can stomach it. What I can't stomach is the blatant disregard of Mark Romanek's subtle sci-fi drama Never Let Me Go. Its haunting tone and reserved performances are a thing of beauty; Romanek, screenwriter Alex Garland and cinematographer Adam Kimmel all deserved recognition for their work.
The other unfortunate snub was Ryan Gosling's exclusion from the Best Actor race. Gosling has been nominated in the past for his work on Half Nelson, yet his performance in Blue Valentine is perhaps his best yet. He seamlessly devolved from an optimistic and inspired man to a broken, hopeless soul. The fact that Michelle Williams was nominated and he wasn't is something of a slap in the face, as her interpretation of her character wouldn't have been possible without his contribution. That, above all, is my biggest complaint. However, quality pictures were nominated and as a whole I'm happy with what the ballot looks like.
December 31, 2010 4:47am EST
The Top 10 of 2010
10. The American
This George Clooney-fueled spy movie disappointed some movie goers thanks to a trailer that packed more action than the actual film, but behind the misguided guise of its marketing campaign was a beautiful, detailed, European-style film that harkened back to the days of Cary Grant and explored the subtleties of a spy’s quiet exile. There aren’t a great many action scenes and even the few that are sprinkled throughout the film require patience and a keen eye, but as long as you’re not expecting a James Bond style thriller they don’t disappoint.
The American moves slow and methodically but with purpose, much like its protagonist who attempts to escape the spy life with one last job which sends him into hiding in a small Italian village. Director Anton Corbijn perfectly captures the daily paranoia as Jack navigates the cavernous and winding cobblestone streets of his new-found hideaway and the film swaps heavy dialogue for a host of subtle visual clues. The old cliché of that last spy job in a European village can be forgiven once the film really hits its stride; the standby plot is treated with care and a gritty elegance that makes The American is not only a joy to watch, but a film that lingers long after the last frame. -Kelsea Stahler
9. Blue Valentine
Like fine wines, some troubled film projects gets better with age. Writer-director Derek Cianfrance struggled for nearly 12 years to get Blue Valentine made and that long hard road mirrors the tumultuous marriage that the movie chronicles. Centering on the lives of Dean and Cindy, the film runs the course of their ten year relationship through its ups and downs before coming to a devastating conclusion.
Cianfrance effortlessly creates the blue-collar lifestyle that Dean and Cindy inhabit while guiding two of the industry’s most talented performers to slam-dunk performances. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams come close to perfection in their respective roles; they make their misery your own and though it is difficult at times, you won’t be able to take your eyes off of them. The film itself will probably be remembered most for its infamous rating-fiasco, Gosling and Williams’ careers may very well be defined by this beautifully bleak piece of work. -Daniel Hubschman
8. Never Let Me Go
Simply put: no movie this year made me feel more human than Never Let Me Go. The fact that it's a science fiction film is just icing on the cake. But unlike most sci-fi, the only special effect in Mark Romanek's adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's acclaimed novel is that there are no special effects. Romanek opens with just a few curt title cards vaguely explaining the clone-based nature of the story's alternate reality. After that, all of the genre elements become background to a story of what it truly means to be human; what it really means to live and love and lose. It's not a grand film, but a subtle, understated story about three children who grow up in a purpose-driven world void of distraction and influence. And yet even in their pristine, single-purpose lives, they fall prey to the fears and pressures of what we all know is inevitable; that the hourglass is always running out of sand and there are no do-overs. -Peter Hall
7. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Here’s the thing about Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: it’s a really good movie that is well directed and acted. The effects, though far from ground breaking, are extremely fun. Yet between being fairly critically acclaimed and bombing at the box office, it has already been shuffled off to cult status (exactly where it would want to be, though it deserves something more). What kept it from being universally adored was that it was so specifically designed those unaware of said specificity quickly wrote the film off.
Edgar Wright perfectly captured today’s pop culture obsessed youth, but those looking at the material from the outside only saw flashing lights (much like how video games were originally perceived as not art). We’re the world’s first generation brought up on video games and the film showed that. Wright’s brilliant direction was spot on and Michael Cera stepped up to show some remarkable range while Kieran Culkin’s dark horse character delivered some of the funniest lines of the year. All in all, it had everything that makes a film great. It’s unfortunate that most people were too uptight to give it a fair chance. -Sam Morgan
6. True Grit
When is a remake not a remake? When it’s a Coen Brothers remake. Cineastes, especially those with a fondness for westerns, may be surprised to learn that the sibling writer-directors Joel and Ethan Coen had never seen the 1969 version of True Grit, which won John Wayne his first and only Oscar, prior to starting work on the film. Nor did they watch it any point during the production process. (They still claim to have not seen it, in fact.) Instead, they went directly to the source material – Charles Portis’ acclaimed novel – and adapted it for the screen themselves. Audacious? Perhaps. But ignoring the original film allowed the Coens to maintain a certain purity of vision, one which reflected the filmmakers’ unique sensibilities while adhering faithfully to the spirit of Portis’ novel. In every sense of the phrase, their story of spirited 14-year-old Mattie Ross partnering with curmudgeonly sheriff Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn to avenge the murder of her father merits the label “A Coen Brothers Film.” Theirs is a mythic western that steers clear of nostalgia and sentiment but also avoids the self-conscious “grittiness” of recent revisionist works like Deadwood, which used the word “cocksucker” as if it owned the copyright. It is an instant classic.
But it might not have happened if the filmmakers hadn’t discovered Hailee Steinfeld, who plays Mattie, at the tail-end of an exhaustive casting search that saw them nearly give up and pull the plug on the film. In all likelihood, Steinfeld will earn an Oscar nomination for what was her first feature-film role. Not a bad debut. -Thomas Leupp
5. The King's Speech
It’s hard to empathize with royalty – especially English royalty. Us regular folk have enough problems on our hands to spare much concern for the travails of Lord and Lady Douchebag. Here then, is the principal triumph of Tom Hooper’s superb The King’s Speech: Not only does it humanize King George VI, the stammering sovereign who overcame his crippling speech impediment to rally benighted Britain on the eve of World War II, it lionizes him.
Actors portraying historical figures – especially recent ones – will always have an edge come Oscar time, not least because history provides a reliable, straightforward standard to judge their performance against. But Colin Firth’s portrayal of George, branded with the belittling nickname "Bertie” by his fellow-nobles, goes well beyond mere mimicry. It renders fully-fleshed a frightfully shy and insecure monarch shoved into the spotlight by destiny, who never aspired to lead but was bound by honor and patriotism to do so. The Best Actor Oscar is Firth’s to lose.
The UK is always good for at least one Oscar-baiting historical costume drama each year, and if you've avoided King’s Speech after being burned by stuffy bores like The Duchess, I can hardly blame you for it. But know that you'll be missing out on one of the more inspiring and triumphant films to grace theaters in quite some time. -Thomas Leupp
4. Black Swan
Black Swan may have garnered buzz for a few reasons that only account for a fraction of the film itself – lesbian sex scenes and extreme weight loss – when it finally hit the screen, I wasn’t the only one who was happy to see Darren Aronofsky’s movie in the spotlight. The film combines the fantastic beauty and grace of the ballet world with its prickly psychological underbelly and a slew of horror tropes. Upon first word of Aronofsy’s undertaking, it seemed like he may have bitten off more than he could chew, but like the dizzying and destructive interplay of the Black Swan and The Swan Queen in the ballet at the heart of the film, these elements dance together onscreen.
Besides being a fantastic, thrilling film, it also ushers in a new era of dance on film. Many films before Black Swan have attempted to bring dance to the screen, but most eschew quality plot, writing, directing, and other necessary elements for a weak storyline that does little but allow for more scenes of mind-blowing dance set to catchy music. Aronofsky’s latest masterpiece truly uses dance to create a beautiful film, lending the cadence of the classic ballet, Swan Lake, to his storytelling and allowing the audience to waltz through prima ballerina Nina’s breakdown (brilliantly portrayed by Natalie Portman). He allows the drama of the dance itself to permeate the entire story, so that the story feeds off the dance and the dance gains greater depth from the story, creating a true marriage of both arts on the screen. -Kelsea Stahler
Christopher Nolan is one of the most brilliant, diverse filmmakers working today. Early in his career he made complex, cerebral thrillers that put him on the map critically: Following and Memento. But it wasn’t until he was given the reigns to the Batman dynasty that he became a household name. His latest film, Inception, is an absolute triumph. The plot is multifaceted and deeply enthralling, and the performances are career defining. Leonardo DiCaprio sizzles but the turns from Inception’s supporting cast really make it to stand out. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy and Ellen Page all come into their own and deliver on the highest level.
The cinematography is breathtaking and foster action sequences so unique that it becomes impossible to take your eyes off the screen; allowing for Inception’s two-and-a-half hour runtime to never run stale. The spinning hallway sequence is astounding; playing with perspective in a gorgeously acrobatic display of visual adeptness. The siege on the frozen fortress, while far more conventional than the hallway scene, is nevertheless exciting and gives Hardy yet another chance to shine as he takes down a whole platoon single-handedly.
Inception is the perfect bridge between the brainy thrillers of Nolan’s early career and the eloquent yet crowd pleasing action films of his Batman era. It has all the intelligence and complexity of Memento while also being fit to stand aside the best action films of the year. The ending of Inception is a delectable riddle that perfectly brings the proceedings to a head while also demonstrating trust in the audience to draw the appropriate conclusion without it being spelled out for them. -Brian Salisbury
2. Toy Story 3
In an ideal world, children would be innocent. Their lives would be full of big trees, swing sets, and fireflies. They'd spend their days creating worlds with their toys, giving them life, each with their own personality, each making their own adventures. But unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world. Not everyone gets to have that cliche childhood full of wonder. But yet, weirdly enough, even if we never experienced what it was like to create epic battles in the bathtub, there's some magical connection everyone feels to those classic, almost cinematic, moments. Enter, Toy Story 3.
In this tremendous animated film, Pixar successfully illustrates some of the most challenging themes in cinema -- love, loss, growth, and rebirth -- all through the eyes of toys. Woody and Buzz, plus all the other characters we've grown to love over the years, must deal with reality: the one person they love most in this world is leaving. They no longer feel needed or, perhaps more accurately, like they have a purpose. Through the stunning direction of Lee Unkrich, we see these characters move through each challenge, sometimes gracefully, and sometimes not. But the most important thing is that, somehow, no matter what, they make it. And in that is a lesson for all of us, regardless of age, regardless of childhood, regardless of anything. Things happen. Life moves on. And you know what? That's okay. It really is. -Eric Sundermann
1. The Social Network
While most films take years to develop, produce and release, The Social Network is a story born in and of the digital age. When Ben Mezrich’s acclaimed novel “The Accidental Billionaire’s” burned up the best-seller charts, a big-screen adaptation was destined to follow. Its success, however, was almost as unpredictable as that of Facebook itself because many (myself included) were initially skeptical about a “Facebook movie.” That was before the haunting trailer hit the internet and immediately showed the world that the origin of the massive digital domain was a complex and layered tale worthy of our attention – and that of the film’s extraordinary cast and crew.
Aaron Sorkin’s scathing script, David Fincher’s decisive direction, Trent Reznor’s ominous score and Jesse Eisenberg’s indisputable portrayal of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg are all invaluable elements of the film, but their collision was the cinematic equivalent of The Big Bang. Rarely can a movie be both specific and universal in its themes, but The Social Network is at once about a band of misfit geniuses who stumbled upon fame and fortune and an entire generation of young adults reaching for its piece of the American Dream – and one another. -Daniel Hubschman
The story is almost too cinematic to be true, a no-brainer recipient of big-screen “treatment” if ever there was one. But that doesn’t mean Danny Boyle had an easy task. On the contrary, the task -- keeping hard-to-excite audiences interested in what is, at its core, a long, monotonous story whose climax, awesomely gruesome though it may be, most people already know -- was difficult. That’s probably what attracted the Oscar-winning director to the project in the first place, and it probably also helped him excel. 127 Hours is unmistakably Boyle-y, with its nifty camera work, energy and theme (man vs. a boulder, literally and figuratively). But he is at his best during the solitary moments that comprise most of the movie, somehow managing to keep the proceedings riveting while not abandoning the quiet, natural terror of the incident at hand. It’s pretty tough to think of another director capable of striking such a balance.
Then there’s James Franco, who turns in precisely the type of performance you’d expect him to, one that not many, if any, of his peers could pull off (only Christian Bale comes to mind). A few costars bookend the movie, but for the balance of it, Franco is by his lonesome, replicating the visceral reaction and descent the real-life Aron Ralston experienced. It’s a role that forces an actor to throw vanity to the wind, and as Franco has shown time and again, such roles are the ones to which he is most attracted. The result is quite possibly the year’s best performance and, more importantly, the most integral ingredient of a wholly credible, altogether superb movie. -Brian Marder
Winter's Bone perfectly captures the bleak misery of the meth-addicted Ozarks with Jennifer Lawrence's stunning performance. Dark and haunting, she may ultimately lose out to Natalie Portman’s shocking turn in Black Swan, but there was no greater transformation this year in cinema than Lawrence’s. -Sam Morgan
The Kids Are All Right
Deemed “the best comedy about an American family” since anything by the New York Times, The Kids Are All Right had lesbian couple Annette Bening and Julianne Moore dealing with their daughter, played by Mia Wasikowska, going to college and her efforts to get to know her biological father, Mark Ruffalo, despite their disapproval. But these seemingly normal events are superseded by the sudden decay of Bening and Moore’s relationship due to their basic differences in occupation and personality traits that have only recently become bothersome. And even though the title suggests the primary focus of the movie would be about Wasikowska and her brother, played by Josh Hutcherson, the most compelling and wonderful and realistic performances come from their two mothers’ exchanges, which therefore makes them the basis of the film.
The downfall of Bening and Moore’s union is almost poetic in that they’ve been together for so long, but then something subtle happens which onsets their rapid descent so quickly and furiously that the reason for its onset is forgotten. The easiest thing to pin it on was Ruffalo’s sudden interest in and insertion into what could technically be considered as “his” family, (as he donated the sperm that was used to conceive both children), but Bening maintained that since she put in all the grunt work to build the family, his unexpected presence and pride in his children’s successes is unfair. And when Moore’s character isn’t as upset by Ruffalo’s involvement in the family as Bening is, the rift is widened.
The Kids Are All Right is the kind of movie that turns out to be something that you didn’t think it was, which is something sentimental and soft and emotional. It studies the complexities of relationships in an artful way, and it makes you feel like the family at stake could one day be your own. -Hannah Lawrence
If it’d been released during Oscar season instead of the wasteland that is spring, Greenberg might’ve garnered the attention it deserved. Either way, Noah Baumbach’s funny, poignant meditation on midlife -- both its crises and ennui -- is fascinating to watch. And while Baumbach deserves credit for his usual droll, hyperliterate sensibilities, the movie would really suffer without Ben Stiller in the title role. Taking a welcome breather from broad comedy, Stiller reminds us that he has depth as an actor, and the performance he gives -- at times sad and others somewhat self-parodying -- is nothing short of amazing. It greatly helps offset Baumbach’s tendency to make his movies feel exclusive and unrelatable. -Brian Marder
In The Town, Ben Affleck plays Doug MacRay, a bank robber who fights to stay one step ahead of everybody: the FBI who wants to lock him up for his career in heisting, the woman (Claire, played by Rebecca Hall) he met during a bank robbery and subsequently fell in love with (who also doesn't know he was the one who took her as his hostage), and his fellow bank-robbing friends who want to kill Claire because her involvement with Doug could bring down the whole group. Doug is at the center of everything bad, but he's a character that interestingly enough, still manages to be the good guy.
Aside from the movie's basis in one man's conflict of interest, it's noted for being Affleck's second shot at directing, and like many other movies this year, for taking place in Boston. Outstanding performances were delivered by Jeremy Renner, who played a member of Affleck's crew, Hall, and particularly Affleck, who also wrote the screenplay. -Hannah Lawrence
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