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Thompson on Hollywood

Production Watch: Carell Goes Dramatic; Thurman, Biel & Butler Mix Their Genres

Steve Carell announced that he was leaving The Office last June. Since then, his two films, Dinner for Schmucks and Date Night--neither of which broke $100 million at the domestic box office -- took a back seat to animated Despicable Me ($251.5 million domestic, $528 million worldwide). His transition into movie-stardom is less of a sure thing than his The Office character Michael Scott. Anne Thompson examined his career last August and concluded that, like many great comedians, "the trick has been making the near-impossible transition from dundering guffaw-getter to leading man…Carell knows how to make moviegoers split their sides laughing; it's much more difficult to widen his appeal as a dramatic actor or romantic lead." Now Carell will star in Mandate Pictures' quirky drama Dogs of Babel.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • February 23, 2011 6:45 AM
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Oscar Video: Maltin vs. Tyson on Oscar Picks

IndieWIRE critic Leonard Maltin learns not to argue with heavyweight champion Mike Tyson on his Oscar picks. Best Picture: Avatar, starring Halle Berry.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • February 23, 2011 5:01 AM
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Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark Review: Flamboyant and Uninspired

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark Review: Flamboyant and Uninspired
Film and comics critic Simon Abrams (Village Voice, Comics Journal) ventured onto Broadway to see what all the fuss was about on Julie Taymor's endlessly previewed (performances started on November 28; the opening was postponed to March 15) and troubled Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. He finds flamboyance in the service of uninspired storytelling:Nobody needs an introduction to Spider-Man after decades of comics and three blockbuster films (a reboot is under way). But Julie Taymor is determined to rework this eighth-told tale tale into mythic stature. The epic musical Turn Off the Dark’s spectacular failure comes down to its creators’ inability to realize what they could do with a beloved property with built-in mainstream appeal.
  • By Simon Abrams
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  • February 22, 2011 9:13 AM
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  • 3 Comments

Old School Action Stars: Few Replacements, Not Expendable

Action heroes come in two categories: New School and Old School. Just last weekend, Liam Neeson, 58, led the box office pack with Unknown, showing 16-year old Justin Bieber and I Am Number Four's 20-year old Alex Pettyfer who's Daddy. Neeson isn't the first, nor will he be the last, older man showing the world how a Hollywood action star should perform, both on screen and in the charts.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • February 22, 2011 8:39 AM
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  • 8 Comments

Oscar Docs: Lucy Walker Talks Waste Land, Rival to Front Runners

The field of five Oscar-nominated docs is strong this year, not a weakling in the bunch. As street artist Bansky wages a campaign for Exit Through the Gift Shop against front-runner Inside Job, another film about art, Waste Land, could pose some competition. Justin Lowe reports from a recent screening at the Landmark Theatre in West LA, where director Lucy Walker presented her film for an invitation-only audience:Facing a formidable field of competitors for the best documentary Academy Award, Walker and the film itself made a convincing case for consideration among the top three contenders. Waste Land focuses on Rio de Janeiro’s community of catadores, waste recyclers who live and work in the slum adjacent to the Jardim Gramacho landfill, following Brazilian artist Vik Muniz from his studio in Brooklyn to the garbage dump for an ambitious project. An internationally recognized photographer who frequently employs non-traditional materials, Munoz’s goal at Jardim Gramacho, the world’s largest trash disposal facility, was to work with catadores from the waste pickers’ association known as ACAMJG to create large-scale portraits composed primarily of re-purposed solid waste.
  • By Justin Lowe
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  • February 22, 2011 4:58 AM
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Ted Hope Brings Hope for Film to IndieWIRE Blog Network

Ted Hope defines today's indie producer: lean, smart, creative, prolific and always questing for useful intelligence about where our crazy film industry is going to go. The producer of 70 films in 20 years is also a sharer, which is why he blogs, constantly asking questions and throwing out possible answers on his website Truly Free Film. Whether he's on a film set, giving a speech, participating on an industry panel or interviewing rising Sundance stars with old pal and occasional producing partner Christine Vachon, Hope slaps something up on his Hope for Film blog, and invites others to do so as well.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • February 22, 2011 4:30 AM
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  • 3 Comments

Oscar Watch: Cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth Talks The Social Network

The Oscar-nominated cinematography on The Social Network is trickier than it looks. David Fincher and his long-time director of photography, Jeff Cronenweth worked within various constraints. Shot with the latest digital RED One camera, the film was low-budget for a studio film ($50 million), was aiming to achieve a level of virisimilitude about recognizable people, and was shooting guerilla-style on the Harvard campus, where the cameras had to get in and out fast.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • February 22, 2011 1:26 AM
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David Fincher's Favorite Films

Check out this evergreen: David Fincher's handwritten note of his favorite films--which include a lot of the usual suspects. Peter Bogdanovich's comedy Paper Moon, George Roy Hill's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Woody Allen's Zelig pop out as perhaps somewhat unexpected.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • February 21, 2011 9:29 AM
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  • 13 Comments

Hitchcock/Truffaut Audio Interview

Every self-respecting cinephile owns a dog-eared copy of Hitchcock/Truffaut, the legendary interview between French critic/filmmaker Francois Truffaut and the great Alfred Hitchcock, translated by Helen Scott.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • February 21, 2011 9:14 AM
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Video: Terry Gilliam Update, The Wholly Family Short Debuts, 1884 Promo

While The Man Who Killed Don Quixote continues to be stalled, irrepressible filmmaker Terry Gilliam will debut his new short The Wholly Family, reports Bleeding Cool (photos via Italian magazine Ciak), at the Bradford International Film Festival (March 16 to 27). The fest will present a retrospective of Gilliam's films (Jabberwocky (1977), Time Bandits (1981), Brazil (1984), The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988), Twelve Monkeys (1995), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009) along with its Fellowship Award. The short (still in post-production) is one of a series set in Naples funded by Italian pasta company Garofalo. Gilliam issued a statement:To be honoured by such an important festival pre-posthumously will force my family to treat me with some respect while I’m still alive. I will always be grateful for that.See Gilliam's behind-the-scenes Wholly Family video below.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • February 21, 2011 8:11 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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