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Thompson on Hollywood

Netflix Splits Its DVD and Streaming Business, Hastings Says 'I Messed Up'

Reed Hastings has posted a letter at his Netflix blog (below, the comments are fascinating) admitting that "I messed up," and explaining why he initially separated Netflix's DVD and streaming businesses. Basically, one is the past, which threatens to drag down his company's stock price, and the other is the future, and should continue to thrive and grow. You can tell where Hastings thinks Netflix's future lies because that's the business that's getting the Netflix name. The company that is going to dwindle and die gets called Qwikster. The red envelope will be the same and will add video offerings, but the logo will change. (Here's Techcrunch.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 19, 2011 4:35 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Contagion Holds Strong at Box Office; Burns Talks Script, Viral Power of Bloggers

Steven Soderbergh has a solid commercial double in his disease thriller Contagion, which is holding strong at the box office in second place this weekend, with $44.2 million to date. Part of the credit goes to screenwriter Scott Z. Burns (The Bourne Ultimatum, The Informant) who helped to supply what Soderbergh calls "an ultra-realistic feel about a pandemic."
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 19, 2011 2:37 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Albert Brooks Talks Drive, Comedy as Anger, Tweeting and Stanley Kubrick

Albert Brooks Talks Drive, Comedy as Anger, Tweeting and Stanley Kubrick
People often underestimate how good comedians can be as actors. Who knew Albert Brooks could play dark? Revered by a cadre of loyal followers for his riotous passive-aggressive romcom protagonists, Brooks’ turn as gangster Bernie Rose in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive dumbfounded many critics, who gave him raves.
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • September 19, 2011 2:08 AM
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  • 6 Comments

Citizen Kane and Pulp Fiction, Two Overrated Classics Coming to a Blu-ray Player Near You

Citizen Kane and Pulp Fiction, Two Overrated Classics Coming to a Blu-ray Player Near You
This week in his “Now and Then” column, Matt Brennan — inspired by the re-release of Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941) and the upcoming Blu-ray edition of Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994) — tries to explain how a movie becomes a “classic.” Trailers below:To paraphrase the famous saying, some movies are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. Citizen Kane and Pulp Fiction fall into the latter category. That they’re stylish, innovative, and spectacularly well made is undeniable. But in the end, claims of their greatness say more about what critics and cinephiles think movies should be than about their intrinsic value. To put it more bluntly, they’re overrated.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • September 19, 2011 1:45 AM
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  • 11 Comments

Strike Back Episode 5 - Recap and Review: The Return of Mr. Eko

Strike Back Episode 5 - Recap and Review: The Return of Mr. Eko
Wet work in the Sudan, writes David Chute, requires both a stubborn streak and a thick skull.One odd aspect of Strike Back’s storytelling about elite special forces commandos is that noticeably often it’s hinged upon one or both of the two main characters screwing up, often at the cost of a life or two. Episode 5, for example, gets off to a impressively fast, bloody, compressed start, goosed along by some clever quick cutting and an interpolated mini-flashback -- but then in quick succession both of Section 20’s frontline covert operatives, Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) and Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton), are dry-gulched and clobbered during a cat-and-mouse shooting match at a container port.
  • By David Chute
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  • September 18, 2011 8:05 AM
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  • 2 Comments
More: Reviews, TV, HBO

Weekend Box Office: Disney's Lion King 3D Pops, Drive Starts Solid

Weekend Box Office: Disney's Lion King 3D Pops, Drive Starts Solid
Surprisingly, Disney's 3-D retooling of The Lion King held off all newcomers, from smart-house actioner Drive, which got a decent start, to the remake of Straw Dogs. It even bested strong holdover Contagion, in second place. Anthony D'Alessandro reports:Walt Disney's 3-D re-release of 1994's hand-drawn animated box office champ The Lion King raked the competition this weekend with a shocking $29.3 million gross, fending off three adult choices including FilmDistrict's critically acclaimed action noir Drive, which fueled $11 million, Sony-Screen Gems' Straw Dogs, which fed off scraps at $5 million and Weinstein Co.'s Sarah Jessica Parker romcom I Don't Know How She Does It at $4.5 million.
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • September 18, 2011 4:37 AM
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  • 6 Comments

Weekend Preview: Gosling's Drive is the Must-See; Happy, Happy, Silent Souls, Restless & More

It takes a special movie to make you envy a toothpick, but ladies, Drive is that movie. The almost-too-cool-for-school film from director Nicolas Winding Refn is a thrilling throw-back to heart-pounding eighties fun and ferocity, with a de-glammed Los Angeles at its core. You'll want the soundtrack, which is available now. The flick's music-inspired beginnings involve Refn being chauffeured around Los Angeles by star Ryan Gosling (also a real life hero). Bro-love--including kissing at its Cannes debut--ensued.
  • By Anne Thompson and Sophia Savage
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  • September 16, 2011 12:59 PM
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  • 0 Comments

TIFF: Moverman Talks Rampart, Harrelson, Ellroy, Cops, Bungee Cameras, Independence

TIFF: Moverman Talks Rampart, Harrelson, Ellroy, Cops, Bungee Cameras, Independence
One of the best films I saw at Toronto--and I suspected it going in from the trailer--was Rampart, Oren Moverman's follow-up to his Oscar-nominated The Messenger. Here's our full Q & A on how Rampart came into being and why Israeli Moverman is one of the most exciting filmmakers working today. Millennium scooped up this tough 90s era L.A. cop film written by James Ellroy and starring Woody Harrelson, who rejoins his director from The Messenger, for which he earned a best supporting actor nomination. Robin Wright, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Foster, Cynthia Nixon, Anne Heche, Steve Buscemi, and Ice Cube lend support. A sampling of TIFF reviews is also below.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 16, 2011 12:30 PM
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  • 0 Comments

TIFF: Huppert and Fontaine Talk Culture Clash Romantic Comedy My Worst Nightmare

Even the most mainstream French comedies are aimed at grown-ups in a way that most Hollywood movies are not. For My Worst Nightmare, Anne Fontaine's tenth feature, the writer-director concocted the idea of pairing brainy actress Isabelle Huppert, who has been at the top of the French food chain for many decades, with Belgian comedian Benoit Poelvoorde, who starred in Fontaine's Coco Before Chanel.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 16, 2011 11:44 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Giggles with Gosling: Clooney is Dreamy, Drive's REO Speedwagon Fate & Other Interview Revelations

Ryan Gosling is busy--making movies, promoting movies, saving lives--but he spent some quality time with Vulture and it resulted in a quote-worthy conversation. He talks about working in wet pants with George Clooney, Nicolas Winding Refn having a thing for his mom, politics, Los Angeles and more. (You can see Gosling in Drive this weekend.)
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • September 16, 2011 8:26 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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