Ben Affleck is currently under cape and cowl as the Dark Knight in Zack Snyder's "Man of Steel" sequel "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," but he's somehow finding time to keep his Dennis Lehane adaptation "Live By Night" moving along as well. He's just tapped a trio of ladies to play the female leads in the film.
Anyone who had read my work over the years known if there is any event I have almost complete disdain for, it's the Hollywood Film Awards. You remember that one, right? It's the "awards show" that gives out honors to stars and filmmakers who are usually appearing in films that have not been released and often not even screened for critics or guild members yet. And yet, because it's usually situated at the end of October, movie studios have used it as a one-night publicity vehicle right before awards season really gets into high gear.
VENICE — "Pasolini is me." So sang erstwhile Smiths frontman Morrissey on single "You Have Killed Me" from "Ringleader of the Tormentors," an album recorded in Italy. The very next track on the album opens with a sample of a very distinctive sound: the siren of an Italian ambulance. At the Venice festival, it's impossible to go for more than a day without hearing this dolorous yet urgent wail on the Lido; it's an unofficial soundtrack. These congruences were very much slushing around my head as I sat down for Abel Ferrara's "Pasolini."
James Franco seems to be as busy as ever. The tireless actor, filmmaker, poet, samurai, infantryman, Blue Angels pilot, second string football kicker (OK, only a couple of those) is being honored by the Venice Film Festival this week, where he has a new film, "The Sound and the Fury," screening out of competition. It's the 36-year-old's second William Faulkner adaptation after 2013 Cannes premiere "As I Lay Dying," and it's just one of a slew of features and documentaries Franco has on the horizon.
VENICE — Looking scrawny and sallow compared to his 2013 appearances in Kevin Macdonald’s underrated YA novel adaptation “How I Live Now” and Proclaimers musical “Sunshine on Leith,” George MacKay is the standout in Duane Hopkins’ UK Horizons entry “Bypass” here at Venice. “Bypass” sees Brit-on-the-rise MacKay in loosely similar territory to his other 2013 release, Paul Wright’s dour, artful “For Those In Peril,” in which he also played an almost completely friendless and increasingly desperate youth isolated from his family, though there the similarities between the two films end.
TELLURIDE — It's impossible to see every movie at a film festival, but you can certainly come close if you're able to catch a few of the main centerpieces beforehand. At Telluride, the benefit of having viewed "Foxcatcher," "Mr. Turner," "Mommy" and "The Homesman" at Cannes allowed this pundit to catch a few of the lower profile titles that are still worthy of your attention. Here are a few short capsule reviews for some films that will also screen at the Toronto and New York film festivals and that should most definitely be on your radar.
George Clooney has Rupert Murdoch in his sights. The "Descendants" star has signed on to helm an adaptation of "Hack Attack," a recent book by Nick Davies that dissects the British phone-hacking scandal which implicated Murdoch's News International subsidiary and led to the shuttering of long-running U.K. tabloid "News of the World," according to Deadline. Clooney will also produce the Sony project alongside his Smokehouse Pictures partner Grant Heslov.
Yes, another trek to the Great White North is upon us. After a good eight months of battling their fellow fall festivals for the best possible slate, the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival is ready to let the world see what's behind the curtain.
VENICE - My goodness, but "Olive Kitteridge" makes creating great TV look as simple as following a recipe. Let's say you want to create a truly wonderful miniseries. A good place to start would be picking great source material that nevertheless comes without too much cultural baggage or a mouthy fandom. An excellent and recent Pulitzer winning novel by Elizabeth Strout would seem to fit the bill. You want great performances? Easy, let's employ some great leads. Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins, Bill Murray and Zoe Kazan should do for starters. Oh, you want great support too? Fine, simply round out the cast with the likes of Peter Mullan, John Gallagher Jr. and Brady Corbet. Of course you'll need a director. Apparently Lisa Cholodenko of "The Kids Are All Right" fame is free. Perfect. Jeffrey M. Werner, the editor Cholodenko worked with on that self same film, is available too. And for your cinematographer, a huge coup: Frederick Elmes, who has shot a ton of David Lynch, Ang Lee and Jim Jarmusch pictures is on board. The cherry on top is Carter Burwell as composer.
TELLURIDE — The 41st Annual Telluride Film Festival is over, and as noted by HitFix's own Kris Tapley, it has provided an important awards season kickoff for films such as "Birdman," "The Imitation Game," "Wild," "Rosewater" and "Foxcatcher." Even with the recent star power of George Clooney and Brad Pitt, Telluride has been able to hang on to its singular charms as a non-red carpet, low-key, cinephile event (even if there were two new Canadian journalists on hand to check everything out and report back to the motherland).