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Thompson on Hollywood

Alexander Payne Talks The Descendants, Clooney, Next Black and White Film, New Trailer

Alexander Payne Talks The Descendants, Clooney, Next Black and White Film, New Trailer
Of all the fall movies, the one that hit me in the solar plexus, made me laugh and cry, and struck me as a likely Oscar contender in multiple categories, was heartfelt low-budget comedy The Descendants (November 18), Alexander Payne’s return to the screen, after winning best original screenplay (with Jim Taylor) for 2004’s Sideways. “Alexander should make more movies,” George Clooney told me at Telluride. Of course he should, but this is the one Payne was able to get made. And it was worth the wait. (Here's my Telluride review.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 18, 2011 4:23 AM
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Composer Rolfe Kent Joins Production Team behind Coens' Gambit, Starring Firth & Diaz

Gambit, from the Coen brothers' screenplay update of the original 1966 film (with Shirley MacLaine and Michael Caine), is currently in post-production in London. The star-packed film-- Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz, Alan Rickman, Sir Tom Courtenay, Stanley Tucci and Cloris Leachman-- directed by Michael Hoffman now boasts composer Rolfe Kent (Up in the Air, Sideways).
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • October 18, 2011 2:52 AM
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Obit: Pioneer Sue Mengers Was Hollywood's Most Powerful Woman Agent

The minute I learned that legendary ICM agent Sue Mengers had died, I contacted Elaine Dutka, who had memorably profiled the uber-agent for the LA Times. Here's Dutka's obit. Sue Mengers, the first female agent to penetrate the Hollywood boy's club, died Saturday at her Beverly Hills home. Flamboyant, charming, witty, and abrasive, she was the most powerful woman on the agency scene in the 1970's and 1980s--arguably the most famous agent of her time.
  • By Elaine Dutka
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  • October 17, 2011 7:22 AM
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Sarah Polley's Take This Waltz Goes to Magnolia for Summer 2012 Distribution; Williams & Rogen Star

Sarah Polley's sophomore feature, Take This Waltz, has gone to Magnolia Pictures for U.S. distribution, planned for Summer 2012. Starring Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen, the film received mostly strong reviews at its Toronto premiere, as did Polley's 2006 Away from Her. Here is Meredith Brody's review from TIFF:
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • October 17, 2011 6:56 AM
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In The Tree of Life, Malick's Experimentation Gets Under the Skin

With the debate about its Oscar chances heating up and the film now available on DVD and Blu-ray, Matt Brennan’s “Now and Then” column this week revisits Terrence Malick’s Palme d’Or-winning The Tree of Life. The Tree of Life marks director Terrence Malick’s fifth feature in the 38 years since his debut, Badlands. It’s an output that might seem thin at first glance: Woody Allen, in the same period, directed 40 (!) films, some of which (Annie Hall, Husbands and Wives) deserve to be saddled with the word “classic.” But Mailck’s genius — and, watching The Tree of Life again, I think that’s a fair word to use — can’t be seen in traditional terms. Owing more to the 1920s “cinépoems” of Man Ray, Fernand Léger, and Joris Ivens than to Hollywood narrative films, The Tree of Life, whatever failings it may have, reconfirms just how beautiful and emotionally compelling experimental filmmaking can be.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • October 17, 2011 6:46 AM
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Adventures of Tintin Early Reviews are Mixed: Delightful, Dazzling, CG Wizardry, Vidgame Action

Despite his stellar review, TOH! London critic Matt Mueller says there are a few drawbacks to Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson's The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. An "almost bombastically annoying" John Williams score, for one, creepy close-ups of Tintin are thankfully few, and a "ridiculously frantic and breathless pace" join what some other critics aren't so impressed with. But there are many fans, which should help Tintin reel in an impressive global box office (October 26 overseas, December 21 in the US).
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • October 17, 2011 6:34 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Zachary Quinto Talks Wall Street Drama Margin Call, Star Trek, Comes Out

Zachary Quinto Talks Wall Street Drama Margin Call, Star Trek, Comes Out
This week Zachary Quinto came out in New York Magazine, as major studio production Star Trek 2 ramps up for a January start with him on board as Spock, who memorably romances Zoe Saldana in the film. Quinto has also launched indie production company Before the Door Pictures, which started off with film school dropout-turned-commercial director J.C. Chandor's $3.5 million Wall Street drama Margin Call, featuring a strong ensemble including Quinto, Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Paul Bettany, Stanley Tucci and Demi Moore. The film debuted at Sundance, where U.S. rights sold to Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions for $2 million (here's TOH's Sundance story). The movie couldn't be more timely, with the Occupy Wall Street movement building steam and dominating global headlines.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 17, 2011 5:38 AM
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Morelia International Film Festival, Day One: Patzcuaro Proves Seductive

The Morelia International Film Festival in Patzcuaro, Mexico proved alluring to intrepid TOH fest correspondent Meredith Brody:I’ve never had a more seductive, mysterious, and glamorous introduction to a film festival. Not the tedious travel from Northern California to Mexico City in a couple of cramped and airless metal tubes, not the long, long taxi ride in the rainy dark night to the boutique hotel cleverly built so one can hear noise in one’s room from both the interior patio on one side and the street on the other (churlish to complain, but there it is, a girl’s gotta sleep).
  • By Meredith Brody
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  • October 17, 2011 5:26 AM
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First Award Screeners Start Arriving in Voter Mailboxes

The first award screeners are starting to arrive in voter mail boxes. The first ones mailed include Chris Weitz's L.A. illegal immigrant drama A Better Life (out on Summit DVD), starring well-reviewed Mexican actor Demian Bichir in a moving performance, and Sony Pictures' Classics' Take Shelter (in its second week of limited release), starring well-praised Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain. Both were box office disappointments. Both need the extra boost of guild and year-end critic support to gain traction, so mailing early screeners was a smart move.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 17, 2011 1:06 AM
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Carrie Rickey Follows Michael Sragow Out Newspaper Critic Door: Farewell Post at Philly Inquirer

Film critic Carrie Rickey held on as long as she did at the beleaguered Philadelphia Inquirer partly because she was an able blogger with an engaged following. It's tough to see her as well as The Baltimore Sun's Michael Sragow leave full-time reviewing far ahead of their proper time. Sragow chose to stay at the paper as an editor, while Rickey took a voluntary buyout.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 16, 2011 6:03 AM
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