Hollywood and independent filmmakers, philanthropists and industry magnates, fellow critics and, yes, movie stars came together this evening in Chicago to pay tribute to the life of legendary film critic Roger Ebert, who passed away April 4 at the age of 70. The event was live-streamed on the internet via WGN and RogerEbert.com.
The marketing of Sofia Coppola's movies has always been a stylish business, and so it is with her latest, "The Bling Ring" -- which opens in the US on June 14, after what is widely presumed will be a Cannes premiere. A couple of weeks ago, the first teaser trailer dropped, and the name of the game was chic but oblique: it told you nothing about the film you wouldn't already have gleaned from the briefest of online synopses. The film's new teaser poster, meanwhile, is playing a similar game: it effectively introduces the five characters that make up the titular "ring," not with faces but via the visual metaphor of their sunglasses. It's a cutely indirect approach very much in keeping with Coppola's fashion-conscious sensibility.
We haven't seen anything from Hailee Steinfeld since she scored a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination two years ago for her (leading) role in the Coen Brothers' "True Grit" -- but at just 16 years of age, she can afford to take her time. And whatever time she has lost, she's about to make up for in a big way.
Steinfeld is set to appear in no fewer than five films this year, including roles in "Ender's Game," John Carney's "Once" follow-up "Can a Song Save Your Life?" and the umpteenth redo of "Romeo and Juliet" -- every generation needs its own, after all. (Want to feel old? Steinfeld was born one month after Baz Luhrmann's MTV-chic adaptation of the Shakespeare standard opened in US theaters.)
Back when the MTV Movie Awards first started, they had a Lifetime Achievement prize. But it was sort of a joke. The winners were Jason Voorhees from the "Friday the 13th" franchise, The Three Stooges, "Shaft" star Richard Roundtree, Jackie Chan (those last two being the most "legitimate" winners, I suppose), Godzilla, Chewbacca from the "Star Wars" franchise and Ron Howard's brother, Clint (who appears in all of Howard's films). In 1999 they discontinued it, thank God.
In 2005, it was brought back around with an undercurrent of sincerity and dubbed the "MTV Generation Award." The inaugural recipient was Tom Cruise and the winners since have been Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Sandra Bullock (tied in nicely with her Oscar march in 2010), Reese Witherspoon and Johnny Depp. This year, the award goes to actor Jamie Foxx, nominated for his performance in "Django Unchained" and an honor nicely positioned as a boost to his upcoming summer blockbuster "White House Down."
"It's been a long wait," writer/director Jeff Nichols says about his upcoming film "Mud," and indeed it has, on so many levels.
The film first screened at the Cannes Film Festival nearly a year ago, where it was picked up by Roadside Attractions for domestic release. But rather than risk it being lost in the fray by trickling screenings throughout the fall festival circuit, the indie distributor held on to it. The film, which stars Matthew McConaughey (in the thick of a career renaissance), was brought back into the light at the Sundance Film Festival in January as Roadside primed it for a late-April release.
Its roots, however, stretch back so much farther, to Nichols' days as a film school student at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It was a girl breaking up with him in high school that got him thinking on the film's themes of romance. "It's one of the lamest reasons that you sit and write a movie," he admits, "but that level of heartbreak from your first love, even if it is puppy love, is pretty intense. Just because you're young I think people dismiss those emotions and those feelings, but I think that might be unfair. Look at Romeo and Juliet. They were in their teens."
Yep, we're still talking about the MTV Movie Awards this week. Speaking of which, if you missed our look at some fun facts about the annual ceremony, go give 'em a look!
This year the big nominees are "The Avengers," "The Dark Knight Rises," "Django Unchained," "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Ted," which, on the whole, is an obvious step up from recent years. Will "The Avengers" walk out of there a winner on Sunday? Or will nominations leaders "Django Unchained" and "Ted" have something to say about that?
It is somehow fitting that the last word Roger Ebert would ever have on the movies concerned filmmaker Terrence Malick, whose sixth feature, "To the Wonder," opens in theaters this weekend. Ebert has always been in awe of Malick, his reviews of the director's films consistently revealing a tone of appreciation. And it all came to an apex last year when Ebert chalked up Malick's "The Tree of Life" on his list of the 10 greatest films of all time for the decennial Sight & Sound poll of critics and filmmakers.
In a typically astute essay written for the March edition of GQ, Mark Harris muses on the qualities that make and sustain a movie star in the current Hollywood climate, and hit upon the contrasting fates of Channing Tatum and Taylor Kitsch last year to prove his point. Both actors began 2012 on the brink of stardom, with multiple mainstream releases ahead of them poised to do the job. But only Tatum made good on the promise, with a series of well-chosen leads in overperforming mid-size projects, while Kitsch's vehicles ("Battleship," "John Carter," "Savages") were all high-profile clunkers that did little to advance his big-screen identity.
You have to go back to 2002's "Talk to Her" to find a Pedro Almodóvar film that didn't show up at the Cannes Film Festival -- not that that's a bad precedent, of course -- but his new comedy "I'm So Excited!" is taking the same path.
Instead, the film's big festival appointment looks to be a less pressured one. It's just been announced that "I'm So Excited!" will open the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 13, a little over two weeks ahead of its US release, and it seems like a suitably fun pick for curtain-raising duties.
This article first appeared in part at InContention.com on May 24, 2011. It seemed like a good time to re-purpose it for new readers here at HitFix with the release of "To the Wonder" on the horizon.