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Thompson on Hollywood

Ashland Independent Film Festival Winners

The 10th Ashland Independent Film Festival wrapped Monday. At the awards show Sunday night, resident actor Donal Logue (The Tao of Steve) hosted the event. "Why do indie film?" he asked. "God only knows. It's a labor of love." He has seen many indie films lose their way halfway through as they try to reach wider audience, he said. Not the films at this festival, though.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 11, 2011 10:50 AM
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Live from Wellywood: WETA Digital Hosts Rise of the Planet of the Apes Livestream

Peter Jackson has long been ahead of the curve where doling out info directly to fans is concerned. Thus, live from Wellywood, New Zealand, Jackson's VFX house WETA Digital (The Lord of the Rings, Avatar, District 9, Tintin) will reveal cool stuff from Rise of the Planet of the Apes via Fox's Facebook fan page for James Cameron's Avatar, which has 14.2 million followers. This is basically a maneuver to grab those fans and lure them to also follow this movie via a five-second preview of Rise of the Planet of the Apes (August 5, 2011) on its official Facebook page. What will they see on April 13 at 2:30 PM Pacific time (player is below)? WETA's VFX masters Joe Letteri and Dan Lemmon will give a behind-the-scenes look at how they created photo-real intelligently emotive CG ape Caesar (although their last ape, Jackson's King Kong, also acted by Gollum's Andy Serkis, will be hard to top). Jackson's King Kong earned WETA the coveted Avatar gig, which won them the VFX Oscar.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 11, 2011 6:44 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Anna Faris and Women at the Movies: Not a Pretty Picture

In last week's issue of The New Yorker, Tad Friend cleverly uses a profile of comedienne Anna Faris ("Funny Like a Guy") as a way to examine the woeful state of women's roles in Hollywood today. He interviews Stacey Snider, Amy Pascal, Judd Apatow and others as he attempts to understand why Hollywood, dominated by men, so demeans and discourages smart movies by and about women.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 11, 2011 6:19 AM
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  • 5 Comments

Alec Baldwin vs. John Krasinski Argue Yankees vs. Red Sox for New Era Ad

Check out 30 Rock's Alec Baldwin as he argues baseball with The Office's John Krasinski in this New Era ad:
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 11, 2011 5:58 AM
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Cannes to Honor Bernardo Bertolucci with Honorary Palme d'Or Award

Cannes to Honor Bernardo Bertolucci with Honorary Palme d'Or Award
The 64th Cannes Film Festival will award its 2011 Honorary Palme d'Or award to Italian filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci, whose films include Prima della Revoluzione (1964), Novecento (1976), The Conformist (1970), The Last Emperor (1987), Stealing Beauty (1996) (which elicited boos and flapping chairs when it and young Liv Tyler debuted at Cannes) and The Dreamers (2003, pictured with Bertolucci). Bertolucci joins the likes of Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood, who have both received the award within the past decade.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • April 11, 2011 5:55 AM
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Jeff Buckley Biopic On Its Way: A Selection of His Music and Interview

Jeff Buckley will get his biopic, and it will come via director Jake Scott (director of Welcome to the Rileys, and many rock music videos, including U2, The Smashing Pumpkins, REM & Radiohead). Michelle Sy and Orian Williams are serving as producers, and Buckley's mother, Mary Guilbert, is executive producing, with financing coming from financier Amy Vaughan King. Buckley was an influential musician and son of folk singer Tim Buckley, though he only released one studio album, Grace (1994), before he tragically died in 1997 when he accidentally drowned in the Wolf River Harbour channel of the Mississippi River. At the time, he had been working on his second album. This production has the rights to Buckley's music and has optioned David Browne's book Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley. The plan is to kick off production this fall.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • April 11, 2011 5:42 AM
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  • 5 Comments

True Story Oranges & Sunshine Goes to Cohen Media Group; Stars Emily Watson & Hugo Weaving

Rights for Jim Loach's Oranges and Sunshine, from the producers of The King's Speech, have gone to Cohen Media Group from Icon International. The film stars Emily Watson, Hugo Weaving and David Wendham and tells the true story (from a screenplay by Rona Munro) of social worker Margaret Humphreys, who, after uncovering the organized deportation of children who were sent from the UK to Australia, fought to reunite thousands of families and bring worldwide attention to the scandal.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • April 11, 2011 5:31 AM
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Shannon Joins Superman: Man of Steel as Supervillain Zod

Superman: Man of Steel has found its villain in character actor Michael Shannon, who will play General Zod in Zack Snyder’s reboot of the Warner Bros. franchise. Shannon joins Henry Cavill as Superman/Clark Kent, Amy Adams as reporter Lois Lane, and Diane Lane and Kevin Costner as the Krypton native's adoptive parents.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 10, 2011 11:30 AM
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Appreciating Sidney Lumet; Obits, Spike Lee Tweets, Photos and Clips UPDATED

Appreciating Sidney Lumet; Obits, Spike Lee Tweets, Photos and Clips UPDATED
We raised a toast to Sidney Lumet at dinner Saturday night at the Ashland Independent Film Festival--filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, Ashland Independent Film Festival director Joanne Feinberg, film critic Shawn Levy and fellow Oregonian Terri Mintz, and DC Shorts Festival director Jon Gann. We talked about how many great films Lumet made, crammed with strong performances, how he was a New York independent, his and Paddy Chayefsky's amazingly prophetic TV critique Network (see clip) and Lumet's must-read book, Making Movies, a primer for any aspiring filmmaker: "While the goal of all movies is to entertain, the kind of film in which I believe goes one step further. It compels the spectator to examine one facet or another of his own conscience. It stimulates thought."
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 10, 2011 7:58 AM
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  • 2 Comments

Weekend Box Office: Hop Tops Arthur and Hanna; Your Highness in Sixth Place

Weekend Box Office: Hop Tops Arthur and Hanna; Your Highness in Sixth Place
It was Russell Brand weekend at the box office, as the Brit comic starred in top-ranked holdover Hop as well as remake Arthur, which went toe-to-toe with smart-house actioner Hanna, starring Saoirse Ronan. Ensemble period spoof Your Highness trailed in sixth place, despite a cast led by James Franco and Natalie Portman.
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • April 10, 2011 5:12 AM
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  • 3 Comments

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