With 'I'm So Excited!' on the way, Pedro Almodóvar's 10 best films

With 'I'm So Excited!' on the way, Pedro Almodóvar's 10 best films

We count down the Spaniard's top tier work

Pedro Almodóvar's cabin-crew comedy "I'm So Excited!" finally jets into US theaters on Friday, and as I suggested in my review, some of the kooky Spanish auteur's fans may want to brace themselves for a crash landing.

But you may disagree. The critical reception for his latest is cooler than Almodóvar has come to expect, but as many die-hard fans of the director have been tickled as have been dismayed. One thing both camps will agree on, however, is that it couldn't be the work of anyone else: from his recurring themes of fringe sexuality to his Crayola color palette, Almodóvar's films are arguably the most immediately and universally identifiable of anyone's in the current hierarchy of European auteurs -- to the point that even the Academy has embraced him and even Almodóvar himself has taken to parodying his own stylistic tics.

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<p>Richard Matheson</p>

Richard Matheson

39th annual Saturn Awards to be dedicated to the memory of author Richard Matheson

The genre legend was to receive the organization's visionary award

By now you may have heard the news of the unfortunate passing of author Richard Matheson, a titan in his field who leaves behind him a rich, vast, deep legacy of material that will continue to be enjoyed and mined for years to come. And his impact on cinema as we know it is nowhere near negligible. Indeed, consider the beginnings of Steven Spielberg's career, whose calling card adaptation of Matheson's short story "Duel" catapulted him to Hollywood's attention.

"Richard Matheson's ironic and iconic imagination created seminal science-fiction stories and gave me my first break when he wrote the short story and screenplay for 'Duel,'" the director said in a statement. "His 'Twilight Zones' were among my favorites, and he recently worked with us on 'Real Steel.' For me, he is in the same category as Bradbury and Asimov."

Matheson was set to receive the Visionary Award at the 39th annual Saturn Awards Wednesday night, presented by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. Pity the award will now be presented posthumously, but the ceremony will now be dedicated to his memory.

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<p>Emile Hirsch and Paul Rudd in &quot;Prince Avalanche&quot;</p>

Emile Hirsch and Paul Rudd in "Prince Avalanche"

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

'Prince Avalanche' trailer puts Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch at each other's throats

Magnolia will release the film in theaters and on VOD August 9

The more I think back to David Gordon Green's "Prince Avalanche," which I saw at the Sundance Film Festival where it made its world premiere, the more charmed I am by its unexpected charisma, its personal flourishes and its central performances. It popped up as one of our under-the-radar films for the summer movie season, and indeed, when it hits theaters in August, it will be a nice change of pace for those looking for as much after the blockbusters have had their way.

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<p>Jim Carrey in &quot;Kick-Ass 2&quot;</p>

Jim Carrey in "Kick-Ass 2"

Credit: Universal Pictures

Citing Sandy Hook shootings, Jim Carrey says he's bowing out of supporting 'Kick-Ass 2'

The actor has been a loud proponent of gun control in recent months

Jim Carrey is backing out of supporting his new film "Kick-Ass 2" due to its depiction of violence, the actor said in a pair of Tweets this afternoon.

"I did 'Kick-Ass [2]' a month before Sandy Hook and now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence," he wrote. "My apologies to others involve[d] with the film. I am not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart."

One would expect, however, for the actor to have a contractual obligation to promote the superhero sequel, in which he stars as Colonel Stars and Stripes, an ex-mafia member turned masked vigilante. This is often worked out prior to shooting, and especially with someone as mercurial as Carrey. Universal did not respond to a request for comment. Last week it was announced the studio would be making "Dumb and Dumber To" with the star after Warner Bros. passed on the project.

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<p>Brie Larson in &quot;Short Term 12.&quot;</p>

Brie Larson in "Short Term 12."

Credit: Cinedigm

'Mother, I Love You,' 'Short Term 12' and 'Wadjda' among LA Film Fest winners

Chinese auteur Tsai Ming-liang wins the short film award

Bookended by Pedro Almodovar's "I'm So Excited!" and Fox Searchlight's starry Sundance comedy "The Way, Way Back" -- which closes proceedings tonight -- the Los Angeles Film Festival may boast its share of big names, but when it comes to its competition sections, it juries tend to throw the spotlight on lower-profile fare. 

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<p>Emma Watson in &quot;The Bling Ring.&quot;</p>

Emma Watson in "The Bling Ring."

Credit: A24

Tell us what you thought of 'The Bling Ring'

Sofia Coppola's latest goes on wide release today

Since scoring widespread acclaim (and an Oscar) for "Lost in Translation" a decade ago, Sofia Coppola has become a distinctly divisive figure in the auteur ranks: "Marie Antoinette" and "Somewhere" drew as much praise as criticism for their high-style studies of privileged ennui, and "The Bling Ring" has followed much the same pattern since its Cannes debut. I've never felt let down by a Coppola film, and am once more firmly in the pro camp on her latest, an outside-in take on her favored celebrity milieu that may be her chilliest, most formally structured film to date. After opening in New York and LA last week, it goes wide today, and with critical opinion all over the map, I'm curious to read your thoughts. Have your say in the comments, and vote in the poll after the jump.

<p>Rorschach Test: What do you see?&nbsp;A line of people clamoring to see &quot;World War Z&quot;&nbsp;or a line of people clamoring to get a refund after seeing &quot;World War Z?&quot;</p>

Rorschach Test: What do you see? A line of people clamoring to see "World War Z" or a line of people clamoring to get a refund after seeing "World War Z?"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Tell us what you thought of 'World War Z'

Paramount's embattled zombie actioner hits theaters today

Marc Forster's embattled production "World War Z," based (though not really) on the book by Max Brooks, finds its way to theaters today. Heavy rewrites and reshoots sent the production budget soaring and Paramount is hoping a whole bunch of "it's not THAT bad" reviews, as well as a Brad Pitt tour, will help get them closer to the black on it. I've been pretty hard on the film on Twitter, but let me start with something positive: Marco Beltrami's score is really awesome.

Now, despite some legitimately jarring moments and one sequence in particular that I thought was fantastic (on an airplane), I thought the film failed, limping its way through dubious set-up on the way to a weak climax. Wrote HitFix's Drew McWeeny, "A movie like 'World War Z' ends up being a passable way to spend a few hours, but forgettable, and to me, that's the greater sin." But why don't you be the judge and tell us what you thought when and if you see it in the comments section below. And as always, feel free to vote in our poll, too.

<p>George Clooney in &quot;Gravity.&quot;</p>

George Clooney in "Gravity."

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

'Gravity' and 'Captain Phillips' among likely Venice Film Festival selections

The fall festival season is two months away

Next week brings a return to our film festival coverage: on Monday I'll be traveling to the in-progress Edinburgh Film Festival for four days, followed immediately by a five-day trip to the Karlovy Vary Film Festival. Both are obviously lower-key affairs than the exhausting whirlwind of Cannes or Sundance, and I'm looking forward to them: these are the festivals where I can either dig around for undiscovered gems or catch up with previous festival highlights at a civilized pace. In festival-going terms, I consider it my summer vacation before the heavy work starts up again at Venice in August, kicking off the fall festival season. And while Venice currently seems a safe distance away, those 10 weeks will go faster than you think.

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<p>Quentin Tarantino at this year's Academy Awards.</p>

Quentin Tarantino at this year's Academy Awards.

Credit: AP Photo

Quentin Tarantino to receive career honor at Lumiere Film Festival

Festival of classic film is held in October in Lyon, France

It's a good year to be Quentin Tarantino. The middle-aged enfant terrible of American cinema won his second Oscar back in February for "Django Unchained," and this autumn he will receive a career achievement award at the Lumiere Film Festival in Lyon, France -- a festival devoted to classics, restorations and reissues, headed up by veteran French auteur Bertrand Tavernier and Tarantino's good friend (and current Cannes festival director) Thierry Fremaux. 

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<p>Kim Novak in the famous gray suit from &quot;Vertigo.&quot;</p>

Kim Novak in the famous gray suit from "Vertigo."

Credit: Paramount Pictures

AMPAS and LA Film Fest celebrate iconic costume design

'Iconic Moment' discussion will precede screening of Hitchcock's 'Vertigo'

As regular readers will know, costume design is one of the below-the-line disciplines I find most fascinating, while Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" is one of my favorite films of all time. So I'd trade a lot to be at the Los Angeles Film Festival for tonight's "Iconic Moment" event, in honor of the Academy's newly separate Costume Designers' branch.

As the name suggests, the evening will look back on iconic moments in film costume, with Laura Dern moderating a discussion between five leading designers: Academy branch head Jeffrey Kurland (an Oscar nominee for Woody Allen's "Bullets Over Broadway"), three-time Oscar winner and Tim Burton favorite Colleen Atwood, Mark Bridges (last year's winner for "The Artist"), Michael Kaplan (unjustly never Oscar nominated, despite landmark contemporary designs for the likes of "Fight Club" and "Blade Runner") and Ellen Mirojnick (whose recent work in "Behind the Candelabra" should net her an Emmy nod). It's a formidable lineup of some of the most creative artists in the field right now, and I'd love to hear what their favorites and inspirations are.  

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