Penn: 'Iâ€™m still trying to figure out what Iâ€™m doing there'
Gregory Ellwood Monday, Aug 22, 2011 4:33 PM
When a majority of your performance ends up on the cutting room floor, it's understandable if you find yourself a bit disappointed with the final results of a highly anticipated feature film. Three months after "The Tree of Life" was honored with the Palm d'Or at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, cast member Sean Penn is still trying to figure out the purpose of his character in Terrence Malick's critically praised epic.
Continuing to surprise, the summer indie hit "Midnight in Paris" crossed the $50 million mark in domestic box office today. With $50,062,843, "Paris" is already writer and director Woody Allen's biggest hit ever. But, it also is a significant grosser for many members of its ensemble cast.
New Roman Polanski dramedy an expected actor's shocase
Gregory Ellwood Friday, Aug 19, 2011 4:39 PM
Adapting a stage play to the big screen is never an easy task, especially when it's a self-contained story in limited locations and over a short time frame. The past few years have seen hyped cinematic incarnations of acclaimed plays such as "The History Boys" and "Doubt," but now matter what the screenwriters and directors on each project tried to free the subject matter of its theatrical origins, each suffered the always feared critique that they still seemed more like filmed plays than movies. When it was announced Roman Polanski intended to tackle a movie version of Yasmina Reza's "God of Carnage" (re-titled "Carnage") that concern was raised by this pundit, especially after Polanski's disappointing and claustrophobic turn with "Death and the Maiden" in 1994. Now, the first preview of "Carnage" has it the interwebs and, well, all is as was expected.
Plus: New previews of 'Union Square' and 'Think of Me'
Gregory Ellwood Wednesday, Aug 17, 2011 2:55 PM
The Toronto International Film Festival is known as part of the early September kick-off of awards season, but it also serves as one of the busiest and more commercial acquisition markets in the world. Some of the noteworthy pictures to be picked up out of Toronto over the past few years include Oscar winners "Crash" and "The Hurt Locker," "Insidious," "Everything Must Go," "Submarine," "Thank You For Smoking" and ( ). While there are numerous awards season titles screening at the festival next month, TIFF also has some major premieres that could soon find their way to your local multiplex. One romantic comedy that seems like true commercial fodder is "Hysteria."
Starring Hugh Dancy, Maggie Gyllenhaal (throwing out a Victorian Brit accent), Jonathan Pryce and don't look now Rupert Everett, the indie appears to be a cheeky look at the origins of the modern, um, electric "stimulator" for women. The festival posted a production created trailer for the film and while the cut of the preview has pacing issues the film looks like it could easily be sold as a commercial art house hit (or as the Brits would say, "It's cheeky!"). Take a sneak peek yourself
A more serious and moody drama recently added to the Festival's line up is "Think of Me." Written and directed by Bryan Wizemann, the picture stars Lauren Ambrose ("Six Feet Under") as a single mother struggling to get by in Las Vegas. Facing pressure to give up her child, Ambrose's character must decide how far she'll go to survive and keep her tough life intact. The film immediately conjures up allegories to 2006's "Sherrybaby," but Wizemann appears to be using the Vegas backdrop to make this seemingly familiar tale stand on its own. "Think of Me" may be more appropriate for Sundance, but it's non-commercial feel will be welcome north of the border.
"Union Square," on the other hand, looks like a potential Sundance pitch that didn't make the cut. Featuring Tammy Blanchard and Mira Sorvino as estranged sisters (one's class, the other is crass), the drama was written and directed by Nancy Savoca who is best known for 1991's acclaimed indie "Dogfight" with River Phoenix and Lili Taylor. We're not so convinced Savoca has returned to those heights with "Union Square," but we're hoping to be proved wrong. Check out the trailer below and judge for yourself.
Plus: Saoirse Ronan and Alexis Blendel are 'Violet & Daisy'
Gregory Ellwood Tuesday, Aug 16, 2011 2:47 PM
The Toronto International Film Festival revealed a number of new galas and premieres for the upcoming September festival today including some long awaited features, some curious acquisition titles and a number of just plain surprises. Most notably is "Winnie" starring Jennifer Hudson as the controversial freedom fighter Winnie Mandela and Geoffrey Fletcher's thriller "Violet & Daisy." Here's a complete rundown with some thoughts for added measure.
After the startling news that the Academy was bringing back last year's Oscar co-producer Don Misher and teaming him with, um, Brett Ratner (lord, it's gonna be a long season) it appears one of the award show's most famous faces has seen an opening.
The fall movie season is less than a month away and with the shorter days and chillier nights Hollywood enters it's "serious" season. The prestige picture extravaganza will begin with the triple threat of festivals in less than three weeks, Venice, Telluride and Toronto. However, there are a few films currently skipping those early showcases in hopes of awards season glory later one. One is the increasingly curious biopic "J. Edgar."
Sometimes it's best to wait through the pre-release hype to see a movie. That's a rare occurrence for this pundit, but every once in awhile it happens with a big movie. In this case, travel and business schedules dictated viewing Rupert Wyatt's acclaimed "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" six days after its debut. The early buzz had been iffy on "Apes" and Fox certainly wasn't screening it early, but a funny thing happened on the way to opening day - some very strong reviews.
Gregory Ellwood Wednesday, Aug 10, 2011 2:07 PM
A strong resume can be both a blessing and a curse. For director Stephen Daldry it's been just the latter. Unless, of course, he lives under the pressure of having every two of his three films nominated for the Academy Award for best picture and personally being nominated in the best director category for all of them. Something tells us that with the constant stream of good source material at his hands, he doesn't.