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Thompson on Hollywood

Farber vs. Olsen: Middlebrow vs. Highbrow

Farber vs. Olsen: Middlebrow vs. Highbrow
I sometimes find myself defending accessible mainstream movies vs. more inaccessible, arcane fare. I often get mad at pretentious or indulgent airborne movies that never touch the ground, that don't make sense. (I embraced Miranda July's The Future but rejected The Limits of Control, from a filmmaker I usually admire, Jim Jarmusch. I couldn't believe that anyone took Southland Tales seriously.) I believe in communication between moviemaker and audience. But you will never find me arguing in defense of the middlebrow vs. the highbrow. I seek smart, sharp, innovative, authentic movies, not ones that pander to some perceived middle ground. With many studio movies, I often wish I was watching the leaner art-film version that didn't try to appeal to everyone. But I dove headlong into the IMAX 3-D of Avatar and Transformers: Dark of the Moon--both were worth every penny.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 29, 2011 3:53 AM
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  • 3 Comments

Marilyn Monroe Gets New Stamp, Movie Starring Michelle Williams, Is Everywhere

We can't get enough of Marilyn Monroe, it seems. The U.S. Postal Service will honor director Billy Wilder, the enduring director of the classics Double Indemnity, The Apartment, Seven Year Itch, and Some Like It Hot (joining John Ford, John Huston and Frank Capra in their Great Film Directors series), by emblazoning his hottest star on a 2012 "Forever" stamp.
  • By Anne Thompson and Maggie Lange
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  • August 29, 2011 3:02 AM
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Even Athletes Get the Blues: in Stellar Win Win and Hoop Dreams, Sports Aren't Just About Victory

This week in "Now and Then," Matt Brennan writes about two sports movies — Win Win, now on DVD, and Hoop Dreams , the classic documentary from 1994 — that are about a lot more than sports. Watch the trailers below: In the weird and wonderful films of writer/director Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent, The Visitor), everyone’s running from something. With a homey, lived-in style and a strong command of performance, his three films behind the camera capture the particular anxiety of suburban life. And though he’s never lost his sense of humor, McCarthy’s progression from oddball character study to fully conceived narrative depicts real people and real worries. Win Win only amplifies the trend: without quite meaning to, McCarthy has emerged as a master of middle-American quiet.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • August 29, 2011 2:28 AM
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Pedro Almodóvar Is Guest Director for AFI Fest, Screens Law of Desire

After his heavy promo duties on The Skin I Live In, which debuted at Cannes and now heads for Toronto and New York festivals, Pedro Almodóvar is lending his curatorial skills to Los Angeles' AFI Fest (which runs in Hollywood November 3-10) as guest artistic director. It's the 25th anniversary of the fall film festival as well as Almodóvar's 1986 film Law of Desire, which will screen at the fest, and his production company, El Deseo S.A. 
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 29, 2011 1:54 AM
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Hurricane Irene Wipes Out Weekend Box Office: The Help Provides Shelter

Hurricane Irene Wipes Out Weekend Box Office: The Help Provides Shelter
As Hurricane Irene pummeled the East Coast, causing some 1000 theaters to close their doors, The Help continued its box office surge. Anthony D'Alessandro reports.It's easy to blame Hurricane Irene for sub-standard late summer product and depressed weekend box office results. Certainly the weather did have an impact, as surviving cinemas charted close to the lowest weekend of 2011 with an estimated $88.4 million, coming in slightly ahead of Super Bowl's $87.3 million bottom-dwelling frame. This weekend was also 23% behind the same period a year ago and a huge 29% down from last weekend. When exhibitor-distributor gross collector Rentrak issues its own weather advisory that Saturday and Sunday ticket sales will be impacted by 1,000 theater closures, you know it's serious. Theater chains such as Clearview Cinemas, Regal and AMC closed across the eastern seaboard stretching from Washington D.C. to New York. Even though the hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it hit New York, a number of Manhattan cinemas shuttered today as the city contends with the overflow of the Hudson River and lack of transportation.
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • August 28, 2011 4:43 AM
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  • 4 Comments

Strike Back Episode 3, Kill Zone: Recap and Review

Action series Strike Back goes to Africa, and David Chute likes it.South Africa plays itself, rather than standing in for India or Afghanistan, in the third episode of the excellent Strike Back. This dense and propulsive counter-terrorism action series (based on a novel by former SAS officer Chris Ryan), a Sky/Cinemax cross-pond co-production based in Johannesburg, location-jumps from inner city shanty towns that could be in Kingston or Mumbai, to red-earth desert landscapes that echo the Spanish scrub of the Sergio Leone westerns, but with a richer color palette. It makes a perfect, picturesque backdrop for the activities of covert operatives who have replaced the quaint old gentlemanly concept of a license to kill with the much more through and goal-oriented notion of the kill zone.
  • By David Chute
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  • August 27, 2011 12:34 PM
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Torchwood: Miracle Day: Episode 8, The End of the Road, Recap and Review

Torchwood: Miracle Day: Episode 8, The End of the Road, Recap and Review
David Chute is wishing that some of the lead characters in Torchwood: Miracle Day would just die already.One measure of the excellence of “Immortal Sins,” the previous, seventh episode of the BBC/Starz mini-series Torchwood: Miracle, is that it ended with a burning question whose answer actually mattered to us. It turned out that Jack’s lover of the 1920s, Angelo Colasanto (Daniele Favilli) was still alive more than eighty decades later, and had grown rich enough to send a car and several employees after him.
  • By David Chute
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  • August 27, 2011 5:00 AM
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  • 6 Comments

Trailer Watch: Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life; Jazz, Pop, Babes

Biopic Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life captures the compelling saga of one of France's great characters, the infamous, influential, and hugely talented Jewish singer-songwriter, Serge Gainsbourg (Eric Elmosino). See the trailer (posted below); New York Vulture posts an enchanting exclusive clip of Brigitte Bardot and Gainsbourg singing the Bonny and Clyde theme.
  • By Maggie Lange
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  • August 26, 2011 12:57 PM
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Oscar Watch: Mid-Year Top Animation Contenders in the Year of the Sequel

Oscar Watch: Mid-Year Top Animation Contenders in the Year of the Sequel
As we head into the fall awards season, Bill Desowitz looks at where the animation Oscar race is heading: it's so far a weak field The good news is that the Oscar race for best animated feature is wide open -- the widest, in fact, since Happy Feet beat Cars in 2006 (the last time Pixar lost the Oscar). And, lo and behold, here we are again with Happy Feet 2 competing against Cars 2 in the Year of the Sequel. Thanks to a new policy, a maximum of four films can now be nominated if 13-15 qualify. In the past, anything under 16 qualifiers meant three Oscar nominees. So expect either four or five nominees this Oscar season. The bad news, of course, is that there's a dearth of originality -- at least thus far. In fact, DreamWorks's Katzenberg told Fortune that it's the worst year for movies overall that he can remember.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • August 26, 2011 8:29 AM
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Refn Teases Gosling and Malick Pairing; DiCaprio On Gatsby Set; Aykroyd Promises Ghostbusters 3

- According to his Drive director, Nicolas Winding Refn, Ryan Gosling will work on a film with Terrence Malick after the actor completes Refn’s Only God Forgives. Here's ThePlaylist's investigation of this potentially awesome news.
  • By Maggie Lange
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  • August 26, 2011 8:25 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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