SANTA MONICA — Michael Keaton has been asked about a sequel to "Beetlejuice" enough times to surely be sick of it by now, because the thing has moved at such a glacial pace there just isn't much to be said. But his work in the original film came at a time when his career was really taking off, and playing in the expressionistic world of Tim Burton in both that film and the first two "Batman" movies was a wholly new and exciting experience for him. In one, he helped build a character from the ground up, while in the other, he found himself at the center of a raging pop culture tempest.
It was a battle of Yves Saint Laurent biopics at the Césars (the French Oscars, if you will) this year as both the French foreign language Oscar submission "Saint Laurent" (leader of the pack with 10 nods) and "Yves Saint Laurent" picked up a ton of mentions. Oscar players that popped up include "Two Days, One Night" star Marion Cotillard and animated feature "Song of the Sea." Foreign film Oscar nominee "Timbuktu" also had a major showing.
PARK CITY — The Sundance Film Festival giveth, and the Sundance Film Festival taketh away…85 minutes of your evening. Those are the breaks when it comes to any major festival and, unfortunately, "I Smile Back" falls into the latter category. That may sound a tad harsh, but Adam Salky's latest is a disappointing effort that is the one film that truthfully doesn't belong in the U.S. Dramatic Competition this year.
The Sundance premiere of Alex Gibney's new documentary (does he sleep, by the way?) "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief" caused quite the expected stir up in Park City this week. Our own Dan Fienberg noted in his review that the throng of people eager to get in was considerable, and I saw something on Twitter about people offering big money for those tickets. No shock, then, that the Church of Scientology cannot abide this.
The Academy has announced that they have not let it go. Seriously, though, the Oscar-winning songwriting team of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez have been tapped to write an original musical number for host Neil Patrick Harris at this year's Academy Awards.
SANTA MONICA — A brief interlude today in our on-going series of chats with "Birdman" star Michael Keaton. An interesting note in his filmography is the handful of journalism films he has under his belt. Between Ron Howard's "The Paper," HBO's "Live from Baghdad" and the upcoming "Spotlight" from director Tom McCarthy, Keaton has seen his share of journalist characters. And it's something he's been fascinated by since he was a young man trying to find his way.
PARK CITY — Sometimes the elements of a movie just gel together so well and you find yourself enjoying the ride so much that you instantly forgive the material for any of its inherent limitations. Case in point: John Crowley's new drama "Brooklyn," which premiered Monday night at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. After 20 minutes I'd written the not-so positive words "earnest" and "cutesy" in my notebook. Almost an hour and a half later I was so moved by what had transpired I was fighting back the tears. The picture isn't the achievement expected festival grand prize jury winner "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" is, but it's a damn good movie on its own terms.
PARK CITY — The 2015 edition of the Sundance Film Festival has already brought us star-making performances from Bel Powley ("The Diary of a Teenage Girl") and Thomas Mann ("Me and Earl and the Dying Girl"). But it turns out they are not alone. It appears we have a triumvirate of breakout talent in coming-of-age flicks with the addition of "Dope's" Shameik Moore. The Atlanta native is freakin' fantastic as an Inglewood high school senior trying to stay true to himself in Rick Famuyiwa's entertaining new dramedy.
Over the past two decades, and the last 15 years in particular, Colleen Atwood has cemented herself as one of Hollywood's leading costume designers. She's earned three Oscars and is continually sought after by many leading directors to design threads for a variety of time periods and genres. With "Into the Woods," she has once again reunited with Rob Marshall for an inimitable blend of period and fantasy.
With all the "Selma" controversy regarding lacking Oscar nominations and snubs, etc., I think we can all agree those silly details are but a blip at the beginning of what will be a bright career for director Ava DuVernay. I've mostly been excited to find out what her follow-up will be, and it appears things are coming together on that front.