After garnering widespread praise (and an Oscar nomination for screenwriting) for his 2000 directorial debut You Can Count on Me Kenneth Lonergan was in-demand. In September 2005 the writer/director began production on a follow-up feature: Margaret which touted Anna Paquin Matt Damon Mark Ruffalo Matthew Broderick Allison Janney as well as legendary filmmakers Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) as producers. The movie wrapped production in a few months time. The buzz was already growing.
Now six years later the movie is finally hitting theaters. So…what took so long?
The journey to this point hasn't been an easy one and it shows. If a film's shot footage is a block of granite and the editing process is the careful carving that turns it into a statuesque work of art Margaret feels like it was attacked by a blind man with a jackhammer. The film is a cinematic disaster a mishmash of shallow characters overwrought politics and sporadic tones. The story follows Lisa Coen (Paquin) a New York teenager who finds herself drowning in chaos after distracting a bus driver (Ruffalo) causing him to hit and kill a pedestrian (Janney). Initially Lisa tells the police it was all an accident but as time passes regret takes hold and the girl embarks on a mission to take down the man she now regards as a culprit. That's just the tip of the iceberg–along the way Lisa deals with everyday teen stuff: falling for her geometry teacher (Damon) combating her anxiety-ridden actress mother losing her virginity dabbling in drugs debating 9/11 and the Iraq War cultivating a relationship with her father in LA and more. There are about eight seasons of television stuffed into Margaret but even a two and a half hour run time can't make it all click.
For more on Margaret check out Indie Seen: Margaret the Long Lost Anna Paquin/Matt Damon Movie
The Duke of York faced calls to step down as the U.K.'s special representative for international trade and investment after his links to shamed American billionaire Jeffrey Epstein were exposed in March (11).
He announced on Thursday (21Jul11) he is quitting after 10 years as Britain's trade envoy, a role which has attracted criticism over his frequent luxury trips abroad.
The prince has been friends for years with Epstein, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2008 after being convicted of child sex offences.
There is no suggestion of any impropriety on the British royal's part.
What I’ve always admired about Adrien Brody is his project-choosing process. He takes on big studio flicks like King Kong and Predators from time to time but for the most part he’s a maverick sticking to independent or avant-garde fare in which he’s able to express himself with artistic integrity through unorthodox narratives. Such is the case in Wrecked his new film that sounds like Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours on paper but is far more disconcerting than that true tale of survival.
The story begins at the bottom of a featureless ravine inside a broken-down car that’s apparently been run off the road. In the passenger seat is an unnamed Man (Brody) who is trapped in shotgun while the body of a stranger rots in the backseat. Adding to this disturbing scenario is memory loss – the Man can’t recall how he got there or who he is. As dehydration starvation and exhaustion set in the line between reality and delusion blurs and the audience goes on a strange trip of rediscovery with the enigmatic prisoner.
While the linchpin in Boyle’s film is James Franco’s performance Wrecked relies more on the atmospheric direction of Michael Greenspan who makes his feature debut with this surreal picture. That’s not to say that Brody doesn’t deliver an unnerving portrayal of a man in a grave situation. As he moans and writhes in and out of his seat you can’t help sympathizing with him though screenwriter Christopher Dodd concocts a backstory that removes whatever remorse you had for him at times while piquing your curiosity at others. He heightens the anxiety of the unknown with a spooky score longer-than-average shots and a few bizarre situations. The natural environments and minimalist screenplay aid the filmmaker in creating his eerie tone despite the picturesque setting which would be calming if not for some perplexing hallucinations related to the Man’s past predicament.
Unfortunately the bare bones script is also the biggest problem with Wrecked as the film like its protagonist doesn’t really go anywhere. The revelations come far too quickly resulting in a boring anti-climactic effect. Even though there’s some distressing fun to be had while getting to the finish line it’s a sterilized psychological thriller that brings to mind films like Brad Anderson’s The Machinist but fails to achieve that level of ambiguous magnetism.
The disgraced Duchess of York hit the headlines in 2010 when the poor state of her finances were revealed amid a scandal involving her efforts to set up a meeting with her ex-husband Prince Andrew for cash.
It has since emerged she is pals with billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, but Ferguson insists she knew nothing about his sordid background when she first befriended the billionaire.
Ferguson's ex-husband also has ties to the sex offender, who was pictured with an underage masseuse at his home.
In an interview on Monday (07Mar10) in London's Evening Standard newspaper, Ferguson vowed to repay the $22,500 (£15,000) Epstein gave her so she could settle a debt.
She says, "I am just so contrite I cannot say. Whenever I can, I will repay the money and will have nothing ever to do with Jeffrey Epstein ever again."
A spokesman for Prince Andrew has already defended the embattled British royal after his alleged links to Epstein - a friend since the 1990s - were exposed.
The rep says, "There has been no suggestion of impropriety on the part of the Duke, nor should there be."
Over the weekend, British newspapers carried photographs of Andrew with his arm around a young woman who now claims to be one of Epstein's underage victims. There has been no suggestion that Andrew was involved in inappropriate relationships.
Epstein pleaded guilty to two prostitution offences in Florida in 2008, and was sentenced to 18 months in prison and a further year under house arrest. Prosecutors said Epstein paid several girls younger than 18 for sexual favours during massage sessions.
Meanwhile, it's not all bad news for Ferguson - in the newspaper interview on Monday, she revealed that she had settled all of her debts.
But the connection to Epstein has been another black mark against her name for the scandal-prone duchess.
She adds, "I have made another huge error in my life in order to get debt free, but the Duke and I are a united front on all that has happened over the last few days.
"Once again, my errors have compounded and rebounded and also inadvertently impacted on the man I admire most in the world - the Duke (Andrew). He has supported me and come to my rescue again and again and there is absolutely nothing that I would not do for him."
The Duke of York, ex-husband of Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, has come under fire after British tabloids reported his alleged friendship with Epstein, who was sentenced to 18 months in jail in 2008 after being convicted of child sex offences.
Epstein is also alleged to have helped out his pal by paying off debts racked up by Ferguson, who was mired in scandal last year (10) when she attempted to fix her finances by selling an opportunity to meet her former husband.
Andrew has reportedly been friends with Epstein since the 1990s and met him as recently as December (10).
The Prince is now facing calls to resign his position as a trade envoy for the U.K., while a spokesman for Buckingham Palace insists the royal has done nothing wrong, telling Britain's Daily Express, "There has been no suggestion of impropriety on the part of the Duke, nor should there be."
If you want to get a film historian, critic, or theorist all hot and bothered, mention the auteur theory, find out whether they support it or not, and then argue the other side. It’s fun. It’s fun because the auteur theory’s not like a math equation: it’s neither completely true nor completely false.
French film critics writing in Cashiers du Cinema and the French New Wave of film that it produced had this idea that the director is the “author” of the film in the same way that a writer is the author of a novel. The artwork itself reflects the personal vision of the director, regardless of whatever industrial production method the movie may have gone through as it was being made.
On the other side is the understanding that film by its very nature is a collaborative medium. In addition to the director you’ve got actors, directors, cinematographers, designers, and editors, all of whom have a significant amount of influence on any given movie both in terms of process and product.
Hollywood’s Studio System epitomizes the film as industrial product. At its heights in the 30s, Hollywood produced so many movies a week that tasks were broken down and taken care of in sequence, like an automobile assembly line. It really was a factory. The French cinephiles of the 50s promoted auteur theory as a way of fighting for individual vision within a largely faceless industrial machine.
Of course there’s a continuum here. By every account, Stanley Kubrick held complete control over every aspect of his films, up to and including acting to the extent that he would do as many takes as necessary to get what he wanted from the actor. On the other hand you’ve got, say, the films of Judd Apatow: developed through several writers, jokes written by committee, improvised under Apatow’s direction, footage compiled by an editor, these movies are made by a large collaboration of people.
The funny thing is there’s no place on the spectrum that’s better than any other. Take, for example, what many consider to be the first example of American auteur cinema: Citizen Kane. Tightly controlled by Orson Welles, the piece is a critique of itself: a movie about a ravenously controlling man made in a ravenously controlling fashion.
Contrast that with a movie made just a year after, this week’s classic movie: 1942’s Casablanca
Casablanca represents the apotheosis of the classic Hollywood studio system. It was a play written by Murray Burnette and Joan Alison, re-conceived by story editor Irene Diamond, turned into a screenplay written by Julius and Philip Epstein, rewritten by Howard Koch, with additional uncredited rewrites by Casey Robinson during production. And after all that, it was producer Hal Wallis who came up with the famous last line.
Director Michael Curtiz, brought on by Wallis after his first choice for director fell through, was hired to serve the committee-written script. Robinson has been quoted as saying that Curtiz knew very little about the story at all, given that a great deal of the dialogue was written as they went. Curtiz directed on a shot by shot, scene by scene basis. So fractured was the production of Casablanca that critic Andrew Sarris has called it “the most decisive exception to the auteur theory.” It’s also one of the clearest, most coherent and most well-wrought stories ever told by Hollywood.
Catching Casablanca on TV the other night with my friends Erin and Greg, we were immediately pulled into the story. Casablanca perfectly balances cynicism and sentimentality, romance and intrigue, lyricism and pragmatism within a perfectly wrought story filled with memorable characters. There’s a lot to be said about personal artistic vision, but there’s just as much to be said about the power of the studio system at its best. If you haven’t seen Casablanca lately, do yourself a favor and revisit one of the greats.
Doug Sweetland -- a 16 year veteran at Pixar Animation studios -- is making his directorial debut with Sony Pictures Animation's The Familiars.
The animated film will be based on the just-published children's book by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson. The story centers on three young wizard apprentices who are taken hostage by an evil queen. They are forced to rely on their animal companions, or "familiars," for help -- an alley cat, a blue jay, and a tree frog.
The director, who's short film Presto was nominated for an Academy Award this past year, has worked as an animator on Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc, and Finding Nemo. He also served on the staff for Cars and The Incredibles and won three Annie Awards for his work on Monsters, Nemo, and Toy Story 2.
This is great news for Sony, which gains an experienced animator who has been a part of some of the biggest films of the past fifteen years. One has to wonder why Sweetland jumped ship, though, as Pixar is known for holding on to its employees for life. Perhaps he vied for the top spot on one of the company's developing projects and never got his shot? Or perhaps Pixar offered him a directing job on a project he wasn't interested in? Whatever the case may be, Pixar has finally seen some real competition over the last two years, with Sony's Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and Universal's Despicable Me pulling in big numbers. Still, with its last film sitting pretty at over $1 billion worldwide, I doubt that the Mouse House's CGI division has much to worry about.
Source: Hollywood Reporter