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Thompson on Hollywood

China Selects Zhang Yimou's Flowers of War, Starring Christian Bale, as Oscar Entry

The backers of Zhang Yimou's The Flowers of War, a tough period drama set during the horrific 1937 Nanking Massacre, are heaving sighs of relief. China has chosen the film as its official Oscar entry. It is due for December 16 release in Asia and was for sale at the recent Toronto Film Festival, where I saw a stunning 20 minutes of footage. This means that a buyer is now more likely to step up to qualify the film at year's end for a Christian Bale Oscar campaign, knowing that The Flowers of War may wind up a foreign Oscar nominee. (There's just enough Chinese in the English/Mandarin dialogue to qualify.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 23, 2011 8:34 AM
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Review Round-Up: Roger Ebert's Life Itself: "The best thing Mr. Ebert has ever written"

Roger Ebert, the owner of arguably the most powerful thumbs in America, has published a memoir documenting his 69 years. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the only film critic to garner a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Ebert writes in Life Itself how he helped to change the way movies were reviewed. Especially in light of his recent struggles with cancer, film and book critics alike are lauding Ebert's introspective portrayal of his past, with some saying that Life Itself is the best writing the Ebert has ever penned. Read the reviews below.
  • By Maggie Lange
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  • September 23, 2011 8:27 AM
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Media Watch: Dish Network Unveils Blockbuster Movie Pass, Facebook's Push to the Past

Today, the Dish Network revealed Blockbuster Movie Pass, its competitor to Netflix. Blockbuster Movie Pass will resemble the previous Netflix model, bundling DVD-by-mail rentals as well as online video streaming. However, its customers must sign up for the satellite provider for access to streaming. The new program, which will be available Oct. 1 and costs $10 a month, will offer 100,000 movies and TV programs to rent by mail, with another 4,000 movies available streaming. Read more at the Wrap.
  • By Maggie Lange
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  • September 23, 2011 8:24 AM
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  • 3 Comments

Taylor Lautner: What Happens If Abduction Fails?

Taylor Lautner, the Twilight teen idol, has been poised for movie stardom. But what if his first solo attempt, the upcoming action film Abduction, fails? Lautner's agents at William Morris have posed the ripped 19-year old at a big star, lining up multi-million dollar roles (he will receive $5 million for Abduction), but what if he can't move past Twilight? (Neither Kristen Stewart nor Rob Pattinson has scored in a big way on their own outside the Twilight franchise.)
  • By Maggie Lange
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  • September 23, 2011 8:19 AM
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  • 6 Comments

Half-Eaten Poster Battle: Iron Lady vs. Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The most recent poster for The Iron Lady, a biopic about Margaret Thatcher, shows Meryl Streep's face fading into the buildings of Parliament, under the tagline "Never Compromise." This poster coincidentally resembles recent art from an upcoming feature about another iron-willed lady, Lizbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) in David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In this poster, Mara's profile silhouette makes a sort of ying-yang design with a handsome mugshot of Daniel Craig. (Both posted on their own below).
  • By Maggie Lange
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  • September 23, 2011 6:22 AM
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Oscar Talk: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Melancholia, Moneyball, Ides of March, New Oscar Rules

In this week's Oscar Talk podcast, Kris Tapley and I engage on several pressing Oscar fronts. We debate the impact of the Academy's new constraints on parties and Q & As and whether or not the Oscars should move up their date. We dig into several new films, Brad Pitt-starrer Moneyball and Cameron Crowe's Pearl Jam Twenty, which open this weekend, plus the upcoming Melancholia, starring Kirsten Dunst, Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy, starring the great Gary Oldman, and George Clooney's The Ides of March, starring the director opposite Ryan Gosling.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 23, 2011 5:47 AM
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Geeking Out with Cameron at the 3D Summit: Titanic, Avatar, Theme Parks

This week, in his Immersed in Movies column, Bill Desowitz talks to James Cameron at the 3D Summit. Don't try to convince James Cameron that 3-D is faltering. He's still a true believer, despite some recent 3-D blowback. He laughed if off as growing pains and negative media spin at the 3D Entertainment Summit this week at the Hollywood & Highland Center, but said it's nothing that can't be fixed with a change of perception and better 3-D authoring and presentation.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • September 23, 2011 5:14 AM
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First Look: Depp, Pfeiffer, Bonham Carter in Burton's Unearthly Dark Shadows Ensemble

With Johnny Depp background and center as a centuries-old vampire, this "family photo" from the upcoming Dark Shadows film, directed by Tim Burton, reveals an unearthly ensemble. Dark Shadows will revamp the ABC 1966-1971 soap opera, which focused on the lives of supernatural siblings and their extended family, including witches, ghosts, and all manners of gothic horrors.
  • By Maggie Lange
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  • September 23, 2011 3:16 AM
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  • 2 Comments

First Look: REM Remix The End of TV As We Know It

This YouTube REM Remix captures the frenetic pace of obsessive screen-watchers. Like me.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 22, 2011 12:09 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Gordon-Levitt and Rogen Talk 50/50: "It's Honest, That's Why It's Funny"

Gordon-Levitt and Rogen Talk 50/50: "It's Honest, That's Why It's Funny"
Screenwriter Will Reiser labored for six years at the behest of producer Seth Rogen to turn the fictional story based on Reiser's own cancer experience at age 24 into the funny coming-of-age film 50/50. Rogen and partner Evan Goldberg held onto control (and final cut) of the $8-million movie, which was calibrated to be just inexpensive enough for them to retain creative control, and got backing from Mandate Pictures (Summit releases the film September 30). They eventually hired Jonathan Levine (The Wackness) because "we spoke the same movie language," Rogen said after a packed SAG screening this week. Rogen is effectively playing himself; James McAvoy was supposed to play the lead but dropped out at the last minute due to a family emergency. One reason that Joseph Gordon-Levitt took the film with just one week to prepare, he says, is that Rogen was in control of the production.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 22, 2011 10:51 AM
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  • 1 Comment

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