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Thompson on Hollywood

TIFF: Affleck Talks The Town

TIFF: Affleck Talks The Town
After playing Venice and Toronto, Ben Affleck's sophomore directing effort The Town, in which he stars himself this time, opens Friday. It's a straightforward entertaining character-driven genre piece set in Boston based on a novel by Chuck Hogan about a Charlestown gang of bank robbers who are under avid pursuit by the FBI. Affleck is trying to make a movie that's both smart and mainstream; he gives himself a juicy role as a wily robber who falls in love with a bank staffer (Rebecca Hall) and then looks to get out. Jeremy Renner is charismatic and dangerous as his trigger-happy partner in crime, while Jon Hamm is wasted in a dull role as an FBI agent. Blake Lively is believably sexy and pathetic as Affleck's angry, drug-addicted ex-girlfriend scorned.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 13, 2010 3:48 AM
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  • 3 Comments

TIFF: Weinstein's Dirty Girl Pick-Up Talk of CAA Party

TIFF: Weinstein's Dirty Girl Pick-Up Talk of CAA Party
The Weinsteins' acquisition of Abe Sylvia's 80s period Dirty Girl for $3 million was the talk of the jammed CAA party Sunday night. $3 million (for rights in the U.S., France, United Kingdom, Australia/New Zealand and South Africa) is a big number in today's contracted indie marketplace. A high school bad girl comedy, Dirty Girl stars Juno Temple, Dwight Yoakam, Milla Jovovich, and Willam H. Macy. And Harvey Weinstein is in good spirits because Tom Hooper's The King's Speech --which Weinstein hastens to remind he bought into at the script stage--is the hit of the festival.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 13, 2010 1:01 AM
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  • 0 Comments

TIFF: IFC Picks Up Super-Hero Spoof Super, Starring Rainn Wilson

IFC has acquired U.S. rights to writer-director James Gunn's super-hero spoof Super, starring Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler and Kevin Bacon. I saw footage from this at Comic-Con; it looked like a comedic version of Kick-Ass (which topped out at $48 million in wide release). But then IFC has a different economic model. After the movie premiered Friday night, IFC nailed the deal Sunday morning after a grueling all-night auction. UPDATE: And paid $1 million for it, which is a lot for them.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 12, 2010 9:52 AM
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TIFF Diary: Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, Biutiful, The Edge

TIFF Diary: Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, Biutiful, The Edge
The indefatigable Meredith Brody shifts gears from Telluride to Toronto without missing a beat.Even though journalists now get inundated with cascading press releases from Toronto -- carefully calibrated and beautifully orchestrated to arouse excitement (in both us and our eventual readers) -- that let us know everything that’s going to be shown over the 11 days of the Toronto International Film Festival (aka TIFF), there’s still that ineffable moment when you sit down with the 448-page catalogue and read through each page as though it’s an especially engrossing, well-plotted novel.
  • By Meredith Brody
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  • September 12, 2010 9:04 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Zombies Reign at Weekend Box Office as Resident Evil Afterlife 3D Scores $27.7 Million

What makes Resident Evil run? Anthony D'Alessandro examines the longevity of the horror franchise, which scored a $27.7 million opening weekend on its fourth go-round. Giving Avatar director James Cameron more motive to throw 3-D films under a bus, genre filmmaking reigned this weekend as Sony/Screen Gems’s fourth Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D, based on the 1996 videogame, scored $27.7 million.  It was evident from the zombie film’s Friday bow, which zapped $10.9 million, that it was bound to outstrip the record of its last installment, 2007’s Resident Evil: Extinction ($23.7 million).  The lack of frosh wide entries in a historically sleepy session coupled with 3-D premium prices fueled Afterlife’s ticket sales to greater heights.  Seeing an opportunity to capitalize on the underserved femme audience, Summit re-released The Twilight Saga: Eclipse in 1,187 theaters in celebration of the September 13 birthday of the series’ leading protagonist Bella Swan. However only a few fans showed up, shelling out an estimated $745,000. The distributor’s overall goal was to catapult Eclipse’s domestic B.O. past the $300-million mark; the film’s B.O. is about $400,000 shy of that benchmark. Overall, the top 12 films totaled $63.9 million (per Box Office Mojo), off 16% from the post-Labor Day frame a year ago.
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • September 12, 2010 5:51 AM
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  • 0 Comments

TIFF: Barney's Version Early Reviews

TIFF: Barney's Version Early Reviews
Canadian producer Robert Lantos was smart to world premiere the long-gestating Barney's Version at the Venice Film Festival instead of home-town Toronto; the book sold over over 700,000 copies in Italy, and won Venice's Golden Lion Cub award (voted by high school students). Lantos even moved the Paris section of the book to Italy.
  • By Cameron Carlson
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  • September 12, 2010 2:03 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Venice Wrap: Best of Fest, Winners and Losers, Golden Lion Goes to Somewhere

Venice Wrap: Best of Fest, Winners and Losers, Golden Lion Goes to Somewhere
The Venice Film Festival, the oldest in the world, is winding up its 67th edition, my first. (UPDATE: The Golden Lion award went to Sofia Coppola's Somewhere on Saturday amid charges of favoritism on the part of jury president Quentin Tarantino; they once dated.) Venice is more intimate than Cannes, with less of a junket/market/party/circus feel, and very European. And yet for seven years fest director Marco Muller has lured more than a few star-studded Hollywood event films to the Lido (the small island is a vaporetto-ride from the most elegant tourist attraction in Europe). (Check out my flip cam interview with Muller below).
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 11, 2010 12:09 PM
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Oscar Talk: Venice, Telluride, Toronto, from Black Swan to Never Let Me Go

Oscar Talk: Venice, Telluride, Toronto, from Black Swan to Never Let Me Go
Now that Kris Tapley and I have actually seen some films, we dig into the nitty-gritty of how they will fare in the Oscar race. We discuss among other things Another Year, Black Swan, Never Let Me Go, Meek's Cutoff, The Way Back, The King's Speech and Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 10, 2010 10:10 AM
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  • 3 Comments

Ebert Relaunches At the Movies on PBS with Lemire, Mitchell

Ebert Relaunches At the Movies on PBS with Lemire, Mitchell
Roger Ebert announced his relaunch of At the Movies, a month after the demise of his former show on Disney/ABC, in his blog, naturally, and on Twitter. Critics Christy Lemire (AP) and Elvis Mitchell (KCRW-FM), who were guest hosts on At the Movies with Richard Roeper after Ebert fell ill from cancer, will be the show's principal co-hosts. Bloggers Kim Morgan and Omar Moore will also contribute to the program, writes Ebert on his site:
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 10, 2010 5:57 AM
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  • 10 Comments

Summing Up Telluride: from First Movie to 127 Hours

Summing Up Telluride: from First Movie to 127 Hours
Meredith Brody wraps up her Telluride experience in one full swoop:At Telluride your day actually begins late the night before, when you can access the full schedule online, or are handed slips of paper with the completed TBA (to be announced) slots filled in as you stagger out of a screening after midnight (my preference). The big news Friday night was that on Saturday Danny Boyle would return to the scene of his 2008 triumphant premiere of Slumdog Millionaire with 127 Hours, with star James Franco and the real-life person upon whom the film is based, Aron Ralston, author of the almost-too-perfectly-titled Between a Rock and a Hard Place, in tow.
  • By Meredith Brody
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  • September 10, 2010 2:10 AM
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  • 1 Comment

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