It looks like Sean Penn is set for the director's chair for the fifth time in his career with "The Last Face," a drama starring Charlize Theron, Javier Bardem and "Blue is the Warmest Color" starlet Adèle Exarchopoulos.
Hard to believe that the Cannes Film Festival is just a month away -- before you know it, people will be cranking up the Oscar conversation again. The full lineup will be announced in Paris on April 17, but another nugget was revealed this morning. The opening film of the theoretically secondary, but increasingly prestigious, Un Certain Regard competition will be a French title: "Party Girl," the joint directorial debut of Marie Amacoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis.
Let's dust off the old part-time specialty feature "Oscar Bait" with some news on an acquisition, shall we?
Now, this time last year a lot of eyes were turned toward Naomi Watts in what seemed like a baity role as Princess Diana in "Diana." Then the film waited for a distributor, and waited, and waited. The writing was on the wall by the time Entertainment One grabbed it and it went nowhere with critics, audiences and, certainly, awards-voting bodies.
The Los Angeles Film Festival (LAFF) is gearing up for a bow this June, having already announced Bong Joon-ho's "Snowpiercer" as the opening night premiere. Today Film Independent, which puts on the fest, announced this year's guest director and a special honor for two all-timers in the indie game.
Perhaps the film I was most disappointed to miss at January's Sundance Film Festival was "Land Ho!," an Iceland-set road comedy from directors Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens. I've been a Katz fan for some time: his third feature, the Portland semi-noir "Cold Weather," landed in my 2010 Top 10. (I also interviewed him at that year's London Film Festival.)
Last year we dug through the often heart-breaking history of the MTV Movie Awards (which seem to be leaning slightly less…bad…lately) to come up with a list of 10 fun facts for your perusal pleasure. With the 23rd annual show on the horizon, we thought we'd do a bit more searching to see if there were any other interesting factoids, and sure enough, there were a couple. (I say "we," but really I'm the only one sick enough to have bothered with this.)
In honor of its upcoming 30th anniversary, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival has extended its calendar by one day, just one of a number of ways the annual event will be celebrating as it enters its third decade.
"Under the Skin" finally arrived in theaters this past weekend and, happily for moviegoers, A24 Films were rewarded for their gutsy acquisition of Jonathan Glazer's transcendent film. "Skin" grossed $140,000, or $35,000 per screen in just four theaters, in New York and Los Angeles. It's the second-highest limited per-screen of the year after "The Grand Budapest Hotel" and quite impressive considering A24 did it almost completely via old-fashioned publicity and word of mouth.
The ninth Marvel Studios film to date hits theaters today, "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." Like a number of these movies, they probably could have spent more time — quite a lot more time, actually — working on what is a pretty clunky script, front to back. But the movie does what all these movies do (and, eventually, therefore, gain passes from the critical masses): it entertains. I liked it well enough, though not as much as our own Drew McWeeny, and thought it was at least unique in the landscape of all these other films. It's a high octane, grounded ride packed with action, and it has an exciting tease for the next step of the Marvel convergence. If you get around to seeing the film this weekend at the multiplex, chime in with your own thoughts here and be sure to vote in our poll below.
"Masterpiece" is a term too many critics use with too little discernment, but I feel comfortable applying it to Jonathan Glazer's extraordinary sci-fi vision "Under the Skin," which has drawn strong opinions in every direction since premiering at Telluride and Venice last year. Reviews were initially shaky, but as was the case with Glazer's last film, "Birth," nine years ago, it didn't take long for an ardent army of critical defenders to form. The less you know about going in, the better -- but I will say that it proves Glazer to be among the greatest sensualists working in cinema today, and Scarlett Johansson as a movie star of uncommon magnetism and daring. Go see what you think, and report back below; either way, it's not a film any serious film lover can afford to skip.