<p>Chris Langham in &quot;Black Pond.&quot;</p>

Chris Langham in "Black Pond."

Credit: Entertainment One

Karlovy Vary: Variety celebrates the European directors of the future

10 Euro Directors To Watch sidebar includes 'Wrinkles' and 'Black Pond'

KARLOVY VARY, Czech Republic - As I mentioned in a previous dispatch, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, though reasonably august itself in its 47th year, has a reputation as one of the “youngest” festivals on the scene in terms of its audience and programming focus. That’s easy enough to see on the ground here: where the lofty likes of Cannes are largely inaccessible to movie fans, hordes of students and backpackers descend on the dainty Czech spa town during the weeks of the festival to do some serious film-watching.

Allowing ticketless chancers to queue outside the cinemas for last-minute access, meanwhile, ensures I haven’t been to one screening here that wasn’t packed to capacity, with many particularly keen cinephiles content to sit in the aisles when seats run out. (Overseeing staff, not nearly as paranoid about fire regulations as their US and UK counterparts, blithely take a more-the-merrier policy.) That level of enthusiasm is heartening enough for hot Cannes repeats like “Holy Motors” and “Amour.” That the kids are also cramming in for Dan Sallitt’s sober, star-free incest drama “The Unspeakable Act,” to name one crowded screening I attended this afternoon, should make Karlovy Vary the envy of many more high-profile festivals.  

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<p>&quot;The Amazing Spider-Man&quot;</p>

"The Amazing Spider-Man"

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Tell us what you thought of 'The Amazing Spider-Man'

The web slinger reboot hits theaters this holiday

The reactions to "The Amazing Spider-Man" have been kind of schizophrenic. I haven't seen it, mind you. A) Wasn't invited. B) Probably wouldn't have been able to drum up the interest if I had been. Surely these decisions, what gets made, what doesn't, they have to mean more than money. Right? Right? I guess the wheel keeps on turning, but the holiday just doesn't feel all that exciting to me at the multiplex. Anyway, I'll save all of that until after I finally DO see it (whenever that might be). For now, though, I imagine many of you have seen it or will, so offer up your thoughts in the comments section below if/when you do.

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<p>Anna Paquin in &quot;Margaret&quot;</p>

Anna Paquin in "Margaret"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

'Margaret': an interactive study guide to the poem that inspired the film

The home entertainment marketing blitz brings things full circle

"Little kids grow up discovering the world that's shown to them, and then when you become a teenager, it kind of shrinks a little bit. I think when you get past that point, one of the important things is that you see there is more to the world than yourself. Elaine May had seen an early cut of the film and she said to me, 'Only a teenager could think that she could have that much affect on the world,' which I thought was very interesting and apt and kind of touching and sad."

That was Kenneth Lonergan last year discussing not only his embattled film "Margaret" in a nutshell, but the impact Gerard Manley Hopkins's poem "Spring and Fall" had on him when conceiving the film during our lengthy interview at the height of #teammargaret. And with the DVD/Blu-ray release of the film right around the corner, things are coming full circle in the home video marketing as Fox and the folks at ThinkJam have cooked up an interactive study guide to explain all of the intricacies and connections of the film's plot to the poem.

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<p>Michael&nbsp;Curtiz accepts his Oscar for Best Director of &quot;Casablanca&quot;&nbsp;at the 16th annual Academy Awards.</p>

Michael Curtiz accepts his Oscar for Best Director of "Casablanca" at the 16th annual Academy Awards.

Credit: AMPAS

Michael Curtiz's 'Casablanca' Oscar and original 'Metropolis' poster hit the auction block

Got any money burning a hole in your Caymans account?

Attention movie memorabilia collectors with massive wallets. There are a pair of items on the auction block that you might be interested in.

First up, the Best Director Oscar Michael Curtiz won for "Casablanca" in 1942. Actually, the auction for this one at Nate D. Sanders apparently closed already but I never heard anything else about it after the initial  news (which I've been meaning to mention for a few days now). It was expected to fetch upwards of $3 million. Wowsers. And apparently David Copperfied previously owned it, having paid $230,000 for it in 2003. Um, my guess is he made a profit when he sold it to whoever owned it prior to last week's auction.

That's a pretty key piece of Academy history, indeed, of film history. I'd say it's on the top tier, with things like Orson Welles's "Citizen Kane" prize and the like. But again, no word yet on who the winning bidder may have been.

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<p>Tom Cruise in &quot;Jack&nbsp;Reacher,&quot;&nbsp;opening later this year</p>

Tom Cruise in "Jack Reacher," opening later this year

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Top 10 Tom Cruise performances

A salute to the actor on his 50th birthday

Movie star Tom Cruise has been, somewhat quietly, passing through one of the high-water marks of his career as of late. In December, "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" became his biggest box office success to date, which is saying something in a career that has included such blockbuster fare as "Top Gun," "Minority Report" and "War of the Worlds," not to mention three previous entries in the franchise; he managed to be just one of very few elements of "Rock of Ages," currently in theaters, to come away unscathed; and, oh yeah, he's turning 50 today.

Cruise has been in the news a lot this week as a result of his (naturally very public) divorce from Katie Holmes. But I'll save the melodrama regarding what the "real" story is behind all of that for those overly interested. It's unfortunate that this planned piece of commentary ended up coinciding with one of Cruise's personal low points, but so be it. As noted in The New York Times yesterday (beat me to the punch), he always bounces back.

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<p>Emilie Dequenne and Tahar Rahim in &quot;Our Children.&quot;</p>

Emilie Dequenne and Tahar Rahim in "Our Children."

Credit: Versus Production/Peccadillo Pictures

Karlovy Vary: 'Our Children' wows as temperatures rise

Émilie Dequenne is astonishing in Cannes critics' hit

KARLOVY VARY, Czech Republic - I don’t why it didn’t occur to me that a film festival located high in the Czech mountains in the middle of summer would be on the warm side, but it didn’t – it’s been a humid few days of filmgoing here at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, even when some films haven’t packed much heat. Handily enough, the air conditioning throughout the festival center apparently chose this weekend to go on the blink, introducing a sauna-like atmosphere to certain screening rooms that, in the words of a glass-half-full Czech critic I overheard yesterday, “intensifies the experience.”

The experience was only moderately de-intensified this evening with an electrical storm that did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the numerous al fresco beer drinkers at this cheerfully youth-populated festival. “The weather here is Karlovy Varied,” remarked a British writer-director, who’d probably rather not be credited with that line, as we joined them. The festival itself may want to reappropriate it for advertising purposes. My viewing list from the last two days has been nothing if not Karlovy varied: it spans, among others, a blissful big-screen return visit to Jean-Pierre Melville’s “Le Samouraï,” a Finnish-Portuguese western inspired by the work of Henry David Thoreau and an erotic Dutch character study understandably – if not quite accurately – described by several critics as a female-focused “Shame.”   

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<p>David Nordstrom and Megan Boone in &quot;Leave Me Like You Found Me.&quot;</p>

David Nordstrom and Megan Boone in "Leave Me Like You Found Me."

Credit: Adele Romanski

Taking the waters at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival

Czech fest opens with Irish music bio 'Good Vibrations'

KARLOVY VARY, Czech Republic - "All of this... for some movies?" The line -- spoken by a fellow critic, mind -- was tinged not with contempt, but genuine astonishment. We were standing on the humming, uplit terrace of the Grand Hotel Pupp, the largest and swankiest of many large and swanky hotels in the sequestered Czech spa town of Karlovy Vary, gazing out at the bewilderingly lavish party not much laid as frosted on for the opening night of the town's 47th annual film festival.

Inside, several hundred champagne-marinated guests filled the hotel's five vast banquet rooms, straying only a gentle distance from a vast buffet -- of which a five-foot tuna laid on ice and getting surgically sashimi'ed was a mere sideshow. Somewhere downstairs, Helen Mirren -- honored for her contribution to European cinema at the festival's opening ceremony earlier in the evening -- and assorted Czech politicos lived it up in a presumably gilded VIP lounge: perhaps their tuna was even larger, their pancake station a queue-free affair. (Yes, all film festivals from here on out should have a pancake station.) I have yet to see a festival bash even half as shiny; it made the charmingly beery ceilidhs of the Edinburgh Film Festival last week look wattle-and-daub-esque by comparison.

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<p>After years of plugging away (and a hit series, to boot), Bryan Cranston finally gets his Academy invite.</p>

After years of plugging away (and a hit series, to boot), Bryan Cranston finally gets his Academy invite.

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Bryan Cranston, Stephen King, Kristen Wiig among Academy invitees this year

Terrence Malick, the Dardennes and Wong Kar Wai get directors branch invites

The Academy has announced its annual list of new invites, always a fun thing to browse through and say, "Damn, it's about time," or, "Jesus, really?" So let's see.

Actors of note that were brought in include all of last year's non-member nominees and/or winners: Bérénice Bejo, Demián Bichir, Jessica Chastain, Jean Dujardin, Jonah Hill, Melissa McCarthy, Janet McTeer and Octavia Spencer, welcome aboard. Other notables include Tom Berenger (26 years after "Platoon" -- I guess "Inception" brought up his stock), Bryan Cranston, Matthew McConaughey (nice), Sam Rockwell, Andy Serkis and Michelle Yeoh. 

The Dardenne brothers finally got an invite from the directors branch, which is quite lovely, as did last year's Best Foreign Language Film winner Asghar Farhadi (who was also invited to the writers branch -- ditto Michel Hazanavicius).

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<p>Alex Rodriguez, Channing Tatum and Alex Pettyfer in &quot;Magic Mike.&quot;</p>

Alex Rodriguez, Channing Tatum and Alex Pettyfer in "Magic Mike."

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Tell us what you thought of 'Magic Mike'

Steven Soderbergh's male-stripper comedy hits theaters today

With Steven Soderbergh evidently in brisk entertainer mode, Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey both coming into career form and a raunchy, lickety-split trailer doused in Rihanna, I walked into "Magic Mike" last night expecting some summery fun. Even I, however, was surprised to be greeted with top-drawer Soderbergh: a grown-up, disarmingly classical riff on Hollywood backstage-musical tropes, sure to remain one of the year's smartest studio films. Tatum, in case "21 Jump Street" hadn't underlined the point, has rare star quality; Alex Pettyfer, who hadn't threatened such promise until now, is a revelation. And could Oscar attention await McConaughey's delightfully skeezy supporting turn, or Reid Carolin's lithe original script? Who knows? If you're planning on catching it this weekend, be sure to share your thoughts below, and your rating above.

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<p>Benh Zeitlin arrives at the New Orleans premiere of &quot;Beasts of the Southern&nbsp;Wild.&quot;</p>

Benh Zeitlin arrives at the New Orleans premiere of "Beasts of the Southern Wild."

Credit: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Interview: Benh Zeitlin on 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' and the magnetism of New Orleans

The director's own personal El Dorado informed a lot of the project

BEVERLY HILLS - Have you had a chance to see "Beasts of the Southern Wild" yet? The film only opened in limited release Wednesday, so chances are it hasn't crept your way yet, but when it does, you're sure to be treated to an undeniably singular and assured vision if nothing else.

The purveyor of that vision is writer/director Benh Zeitlin (along, of course, with his co-writer and childhood friend Lucy Alibar), and he seems to be seeking out a zen space amid overwhelming response to the film first at Sundance and later at the Cannes film festival, both of which brought laurels. On the eve of the Los Angeles fest (which would again bring another award), he's cool and collected at a press day for the film, the specter of release hanging overhead.

The bayou-set modern fable was seeded in Alibar's original play, "Juicy and Delicious," though it wasn't always a Louisiana tale. All of Alibar's work are set in her native Georgia, but when Zeitlin sat down to work on it as a feature film, he wanted to transport the setting to New Orleans.

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