The Playlist

Keanu's Samurai Training Regime, How To Shoot 3D, Committing Seppuku & More Learned On The Set Of '47 Ronin'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • November 6, 2013 4:02 PM
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47 Ronin,
On Monday, we took you on the set of "47 Ronin," Universal's great tentpole hope for the Christmas season. Long-delayed (it was originally set for release last November) and with a troubled production history, the film tells the famous Japanese story of the 47 Ronin, former samurai who spent a year planning their revenge on the man who wronged their master, with two major twists: one is that one of their number is Kai, a "half-breed" played by Keanu Reeves, the other is that the vision of first-time director Carl Erik Rinsch was to set the film in "a dream of Japan," with fantastical creatures and heightened action.

Savannah Film Festival: James Ponsoldt Talks 'Spectacular Now,' Taking On Hilary 'Rodham' & The Power Of 'Pure'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • November 4, 2013 4:35 PM
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The Spectacular Now, James Ponsoldt.
Sitting down with James Ponsoldt backstage at the Lucas Theater in Savannah, Georgia, one thing becomes immediately clear: he loves movies. Already thrilled that his latest "The Spectacular Now" is screening at the Savannah Film Festival in a cinema first build in 1921, my conversation with the director is peppered with references to classic cinema and the answers to my questions are thoughtful and deeply infused by his admitted voracious movie watching habits, which have left him with a clear sense of what he enjoys in his film experiences and what he doesn't. And at the end of the day, no matter the genre, budget or any other factor, it's characters he's fascinated by, and the more complex they are, the more he's invested and involved.

Savannah Film Fest: Miles Teller Talks Long Haul Of 'The Spectacular Now' & Switching Gears For 'Divergent'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • November 1, 2013 2:53 PM
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The Spectacular Now
Sustaining the buzz from January at the Sundance Film Festival until October, ten months later, is no easy feat. Plenty of movies have floated out of Park City with oodles of press and praise, only to be forgotten by time it comes for their release. But it speaks to the quality of filmmaking, and the authenticity of feel, that James Ponsoldt's "The Spectacular Now" didn't suffer such a fate. The picture rolled into the Savannah Film Festival this week with both the director and star Miles Teller on hand to present the film, which was shot in Athens, Georgia. And we got a few moments to chat with Teller about the movie, his drumming skills and transitioning from indie pictures to full blown tentpole productions.

Interview: Keanu Reeves Talks 'Man Of Tai Chi' '47 Ronin'

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • October 31, 2013 5:27 PM
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The Man of Tai Chi
To put it bluntly, "Man of Tai Chi" kicks all kinds of ass. The film follows the Faustian rise and fall of Tiger Chen (the actor's name and also the character's name), who gets involved in a deadly underground fighting ring led by a wonderfully over-the-top villain named Donaka Mark. Keanu Reeves, who knows a thing or two about kung fu fighting thanks to his role in the trio of "Matrix" films, both directed and co-stars in the film as Donaka (who, unsurprisingly, gets all the best lines). We got to speak to Reeves about what about this project made him want to direct it, whether or not his experience in the film world documentary "Side By Side" inspired any of his choices, and what, exactly, is going on with his other big martial arts project of 2013, "47 Ronin."

35 Years In The Making: James Toback May Finally Shoot His ‘Victoria Woodhull’ Movie; Is Cool With ‘The Gambler’ Remake Now

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • October 30, 2013 5:49 PM
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Filmmaker James Toback is the éminence grise of shooting the shit and telling a good yarn. The raconteur of raconteurs, you can ask him about the sincerity in his upcoming HBO documen—err, film, “Seduced & Abandoned,” and he’ll somehow end up on a hilarious (and off-color) tangent about Robert Downey Jr. in “Two Girls and a Guy” (the 1997 Toback film, famous for its RDJ-eating-Heather-Graham’s butt scene). James Toback, the director of “Fingers” (1978), “Black and White” (1999) and the documentary “Tyson” (2008), loves to talk.

Interview: Kevin Feige On 'Thor: The Dark World,' Firing Carter Burwell & Reclaiming 'X-Men' & 'Spider-Man'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • October 30, 2013 4:11 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Kevin Feige has made a pretty good case for being the most successful Hollywood producer of recent years. The 40-year-old President of Production at Marvel Studios started barely a decade ago, graduating from being Lauren Shuler Donner's assistant to associate producer on the first "X-Men" movie — the film that launched the 21st century wave of comic book film — and since then, has had some kind of role or credit on every Marvel-derived project.

Savannah Film Festival: Bruce Dern Talks 'Nebraska,' Says Alexander Payne Ranks With Hitchcock & Kazan And More

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 30, 2013 2:01 PM
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Nebraska
Though he's thousands of miles and months away from when he won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival this spring for his role in "Nebraska," there was no one else at the Savannah Film Festival that we spoke to with as much light, energy and enthusiasm as the 77 year-old Bruce Dern. In town last weekend to help open the festival with "Nebraska," and present director Alexander Payne with the Outstanding Achievement in Cinema award, Dern was some of a force in Savannah. The generous time he spent with students of Savannah College of Art & Design in a masterclass already caused a small amount of chatter, and when we sat down with him not long after, Dern was eager and happy to keep sharing his stories and experiences. But what came through most was how proud and genuinely grateful he was the opportunity to perform in "Nebraska."

Savannah Film Festival: Alec Baldwin Talks 'Seduced & Abandoned,' Turning Down 'Grand Theft Auto,' Marvel & More

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 29, 2013 3:46 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Alec Baldwin
It all started with an idea to an idea to make a movie called "Last Tango In Tikrit." For Alec Baldwin and writer/director James Toback, their desire to produce an erotic, sexually charged movie, set in the Middle East, which a budget of $25-30 million soon found them dealing with an industry that no long makes erotic, sexually charged movies for $25-30 million. And so what came out of a yet to be realized project turned into the documentary "Seduced & Abandoned" (our review), which screened this week at the Savannah Film Festival in addition to premiering on HBO.

Savannah Film Fest: Alexander Payne Talks 'Nebraska,' Visual Effects & Asks Where Adult Dramas Have Gone

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 28, 2013 1:02 PM
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“I believe in movies,” Alexander Payne emphatically states during our interview at the Savannah Film Festival over the weekend. The director was not only on hand to present “Nebraska,” which served as the opening film of the festival, but also to receive the Outstanding Achievement in Cinema award, presented by the movie’s star, Bruce Dern. And Payne’s passion for film is clearly present in his approach for his latest effort. The road trip story about a stubborn, determined father (Dern) and his put-upon son (played by Will Forte) journeying to claim a sweepstakes prize, is presented in black and white, and shot in widescreen—certainly not the usual elements one expects these days in a movie that blends drama, comedy and Payne’s always focused eye on the textures of the Midwest.

“It Was Just You, Your Skin, And Your Emotion”: Lea Seydoux & Adele Exarchopoulos Talk 'Blue Is The Warmest Color'

  • By Charlie Schmidlin
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  • October 22, 2013 1:09 PM
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Alfred Hitchcock and Tippi Hedren, Stanley Kubrick and Shelley Duvall, David O. Russell and Lily Tomlin. At the Los Angeles press day for Palme d'Or winner “Blue Is The Warmest Color" (our review), we were given these precedents by a publicist for the film's increasingly heated behind-the-scenes controversy, which began at Cannes and has slowly unfurled ever since, and was presumed to be one of the key topics for our roundtable conversations with director Abdellatif Kechiche and his lead actresses, Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos.

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