Plus: Sony Pictures brings 'Hotel Transylvania' north for the kiddies
The Toronto International Film Festival announced additional selections to this year's edition of the festival including a large number of documentaries and some intriguing vanguard titles.
Among the doc highlights, Daniel Gordon's "9.79*" revisits the 100 meter final from the 1988 Seoul Olympics which is notorious for Ben Johnson's anabolic steroid scandal. "Artifact" chronicles Thirty Seconds to Mars and Jared Leto's long legal battle against EMI. "As if Were Catching a Cobra" captures the insurgent movements among Arab artists in Egypt and Syria. Ken Burns, David McMahon and Sara Burns' "The Central Park Five" comes to Toronto after screening at Cannes in May. Recent Sony Pictures Classics acquisition "The Gatekeepers" takes an in-depth look at Israel's secret service agency and screens for the firs time after its debut at Jerusalem International Film Festival. Matthew Cooke uses interviews with subjects such as 50 Cent, Eminem, David Simon and "Freeway" Rick Ross to chronicle the war on drugs in "How to Make Money Selling Drugs." "Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp" examines the life of the cult cultural icon. Alex Gibney tackles the power of the Catholic Church in "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God." Janet Tobias' "No Place on Earth" discovers that five Jewish families spent over a year and a half in Ukraine's caves to escape the Nazis during WWII. Snoop Dogg allegedly finds spirituality in "Reincarnated." Another look at Roman Polanski in Marina Zenovich's "Roman Polanski: Odd Man Out" Jamie Kastner brings disco back in what the festival describes as a "hilarious new package" in "The Secret Disco Revolution." "Shepard & Dark" looks at the friendship of Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark through years of written correspondence. "Show Stopper: The Theatrical Life of Garth Drabinsky" recounts the rise and fall of the infamous Canadian entertainment mogul. Participant Media and Dan Setton looks at the continuing struggle of the Palestinian state. "Storm Surfers 3D" follows two best friends in their quest to find the biggest and most dangerous waves in the world.
Among the intriguing Vanguard titles, Rodney Ascher's "Room 237" makes a stop on the festival circuit in Toronto as does Michel Gondry's "The We and the I" and Luis Prieto's English language remake of Nicolas Winding Refn's "Pusher."
TIFF is also continuing its family friendly selections, known as TIFF Kids. This year's movies include the world premiere of "Hotel Transylvania," "Finding Nemo 3D," French-language animated Cannes selection "Ernest & Célestine" and the live-action "Igor & the Cranes' Journey."
The Toronto International Film Festival runs from Nov. 6-16. Look for complete coverage from Venice, Toronto and Telluride from HitFix's editorial team.
The festival scene gets a bit more exciting this year
Long rumored, but discounted by some, the Venice Film Festival has officially announced that Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" will make its highly-anticipated premiere at the prestigious European fest.
Anderson's follow up to the Oscar-nominated "There Will Be Blood," this new drama centers on a young drifter (Joaquin Phoenix in comeback mode) and the founder of a cult-like religion (Philip Seymour Hoffman) which is beginning to finally gain traction with the general public. The filmmakers and their surrogates continue to deny the connection between the fictional religion and Scientology, but as more footage is revealed the allegory is becoming harder to discredit. The picture also features Amy Adams and Laura Dern.
The Weinstein Company is releasing "The Master" in the United States and recently moved the film's limited opening up to Sept. 14. Along with the Venice news, it's a slam dunk that the film will also screen at the 2012 Toronto Film Festival which takes place a week before its release date.
When can respect for the victims and the business of the movies co-exist?
In the early hours of July 20th, I found myself starring at a tiny video screen inches from my seat. My JetBlue flight had just landed at LAX after a five-hour flight from JFK and I'd randomly turned to CNN as my plane was taxing toward the gate. There I discovered that a shooting had taken place at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in suburban Denver. Turning on my phone, I discovered twitter was being overrun with messages of disbelief and anger. Only a few hours before, on the same plane, I'd completed a lengthy article on "Rises" Oscar chances. My intent was to post it when I got home, just in time for the film's opening day. As the details of the shooting became more and more horrific, it became clear publishing my commentary anytime soon would be incredibly inappropriate.
It's been less than 10 full days since one of the worst single shootings in American history, but even for someone not dealing with the tragedy on a day to day basis it feels more like 10 weeks. Cable news networks devoured the story like the fire that enveloped the Hindenburg. Within half a day the shooting had been politicized and over-analyzed in everything from theater safety to the depiction of violence in movies. However, like so many events in our 24/7 news cycle, the public's attention has ultimately been diverted - mostly to the non-stop barrage of Olympics news and imagery (HitFix included). And to be frank, while the thriller's box office has been slightly under its processors haul, its 60% drop this past weekend had as much to do with the nation sitting in front of their televisions and watching tape-delayed opening ceremonies and swimming from London than the Aurora shootings. And for every friend or acquaintance who admits they are weary of seeing "Rises" because of Aurora, there are there or four who have already seen the film multiple times. Make no mistake, James Holmes is as disturbed as they come, but what happened in that theater could have taken place in a health club, a shopping mall or your local McDonald's. The reality of how it could have been prevented is another conversation entirely and will no doubt become a bigger issue when the story circles back when Holmes eventually faces a jury of his peers.
In Hollywood, the industry has been so shocked by the events that it's seemingly been frozen like a deer in headlights. The other major studios quickly realized they needed to join Warner Bros. in keeping the box office grosses for that weekend under wraps, but many of them are trying to quickly forget what could have been their own greatest nightmare. Warner Bros., the studio behind "The Dark Knight Rises," has been taking what can only be described as a day by day approach and trying not to over publicize its charity efforts. This is uncharted waters for any entertainment company or corporation. Some might see their conservative actions as callous, but the legal ramifications for any public move the Time Warner division makes at this point is serious business.
Happily, Christian Bale took it on himself to visit the survivors of the shooting and the only real evidence of his trip was the Facebook and twitter photos he took in the hospital, because this was for the fans, not the local or national news media (as one publicist friend at a rival studio remarked, "He can now pretty much run for president now," which of course he can't because he's British). The tributes continued Friday when the consistently remarkable composer Hans Zimmer released an original track titled "Aurora" from which digital sales go directly to a victim's fund.
So, with the Olympics in full swing and social media more obsessed with the Olympics and Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson's "break-up," does it break the bounds of good taste to discuss the awards season chances for "Rises" now?
Other pundits had weighed in "Rises" chances before the film opened. One respected Oscar expert even reported on the film's triumphant response at the official Academy screenings on opening weekend after the shooting (and "moment of silence" or not, its something I personally would have postponed, if possible). At the moment, Warner Bros. is trying to delicately walk the balance of convincing moviegoers to return to the movie theater without disrespecting the victims. Sort of like the fear of flying for some. You have to remind everyone a major jetliner hasn't crashed in over a decade. This "shouldn't" happen again tomorrow. Truth be told, no one will know the true effects on movie going habits until after the Olympics. Or, at the tail end when "The Bourne Legacy," "The Campaign" and "Hope Springs" debut on August 10. So, wondering whether a full fledged awards campaign is still in the cards for "Rises" has to be the furthest thing from the minds of anyone on the Warner Bros. lot. Will that be the case two or three months from now? We'll see. "Rises" earned somewhat unexpected rave reviews from influential critics at the LA Times, Time, Salon, the Hollywood Reporter and the New York Times (it got a solid B+ in my book). It's likely to land on the top 10 lists of a number of major critics and will have grossed over $425 million in theaters when all is said and done. All notable facts and figures for most tentpole awards season contenders. But, still. Even writing this post we wonder: Is it too early to talk about awards season and "The Dark Knight Rises" again?
When victims of Aurora are still in the hospital? Perhaps I'm oversensitive, but that's the easy reminder that Oscar should always take a back seat to the real world.
"Rises" and its Oscar chances can wait.
'Killing them Softly' moves to October
"The Master" has decided to arrive earlier than planned.
Paul Thomas Anderson's highly anticipated drama starring Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams was originally set for an Oct. 12, 2012 limited release. Anderson and The Weinstein Company (the distributor for the independently produced feature) have now changed their strategy and are opening in limited release on Sept. 14 with subsequent expansions the following weeks.
Sundance drama hitting theaters this September
The last time I wrote about Ira Sachs' "Keep the Lights On" was a little over six months ago at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. I'd spoken to Sachs and one of the film's stars, Zachary Booth, about the impressive gay drama with hopes it got picked up for major distribution. A lot has happened in half a year.
"Lights" wowed a few weeks later at the Berlin Film Festival winning a "Teddy" honor and has played the festival circuit with stops at Tribeca, Seattle and Karlovy Vary. It's also screened at gay film festivals such as San Francisco's Frameline and Los Angeles' Outfest where it won the Grand Jury Award for Outstanding U.S. Dramatic Feature Film. Oh, and happily, Music Box Films came on board to give the picture a proper art house release.
New images from some this year's most anticipated films
The Toronto International Film Festival announced the first 62 selections for the 2012 edition of the annual awards season kick-off Tuesday and critics are already salivating over the line up. With new films from Terrence Malick ("To The Wonder"), Neil Jordan ("Byzantium"), Noah Baumbach ("Frances Ha"), Ben Affleck ("Argo"), the Wachowskis ("Cloud Atlas"), Joss Whedon ("Much Ado About Nothing"), Joe Wright ("Anna Karenina"), David O. Russell ("Silver Lining Playbook"), Mike Newell ("Great Expectations"), Andrew Adamson ("Mr. Pip"), Derek Cianfrance ("The Place Beyond the Pines"), Dustin Hoffman ("Quartet") and Rian Johnson ("Looper") this edition of the festival already appears to be substantially improved over last year's snorefest. Of course, everyone needs to actually see the films in question, but in the meantime we have weeks to speculate (or pray).
Plus: New films from Robert Redford, Noah Baumbach, Neil Jordan, David O. Russell and more
The Toronto International Film Festival announced their initial selections for the 2012 edition of the annual awards season kick off and it includes new films from Ben Affleck, the Wachoski's, Terrence Malick, Neil Jordan, David O. Russell, Joss Whedon, David Ayer, Joss Whedon, Derek Cianfrance and Joe Wright among others. Rian Johnson's "Looper" will be the opening night gala on Thursday, Sept. 6. The closing night film has not been announced.
Joe Wright's adaptation co-stars Jude Law and Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Plus: New footage from the late summer Fox Searchlight release
t's been a strange summer season so for at the art house. Unlike last year, which was dominated early both critically and at the box office by "Midnight in Paris," "The Tree of Life" and "Beginners," 2012 looked like it would be much quieter. That's hardly been the case. Focus Features' "Moonrise Kingdom" is a certifiable hit, "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" is pretty much a global blockbuster (even if it's not really playing to the traditional specialty crowd), Weinstein's "Intouchables" is a solid foreign language player, the success of Millenium's "Bernie" is proving an embarrassment to all the major indies who turned it down and "To Rome With Love" and "The Beasts of the Southern Wild" have been superb in their limited runs so far. One film that could tap into the crowd that enjoyed "Moonrise" is "Ruby Sparks."
Have you ever had a big star ask you your sexuality on camera?
LOS ANGELES - Yes, as I sit down to do my interviews for "Magic Mike," I notice Matthew McConaughey has a bundle of $1 bills on his chair. Why? I'm not entirely sure. My guess is that it's a fun bit both McConaughey and Tatum have been having with the national press rotating through their TV room on this Friday afternoon. But, as entertaining as Steven Soderbergh's latest film is, I have no intention of spending my short time with the gents waxing about, er, male waxing, picking the right thongs and what their favorite stripping number was.*