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Thompson on Hollywood

Production Watch: Bale in Nanjing Heroes, Dark Knight Rises; Stone & Garfield In Spiderman(s)

- China's premiere director Zhang Yimou (Hero, the Beijing Olympic Games) has named Christian Bale to star in Nanjing Heroes. The $90 million period epic tells the story of the Nanjing Massacre, when Japanese troops killed thousands of Chinese in the capital city (1937). Bale will play an American priest who assists citizens in escaping impending death. Zhang also announced the hiring of special effects house Dark Side FX (The Dark Knight). The film will mix English and Mandarin (40/60), he said. No Chinese film or director has ever taken home an Academy Award in a major category. (Zhang himself had back-to-back Oscar nominations for Ju Dou in 1990 and Raise the Red Lantern in 1991.) "It's the overall strategy for Chinese cinema to approach the world and broaden its influence," Zhang told THR. The casting of Bale was not a box office ploy, but rather "a coincidence because the script happened to have an English-speaking part in the lead." Shooting Nanjing Heroes will begin shooting January 10. Bale will be due on The Dark Knight Rises set May 2011.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • December 22, 2010 6:45 AM
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Palm Springs Int'l Film Fest Opens with Deneuve and Depardieu's Potiche, Closes with First Grader

The new year's festival offerings kick off in Palm Springs on January 6. The international festival runs through January 16 and includes 193 films (59 premieres) from some 68 countries. The Premieres, Galas and Special Presentations, announced today, are listed below. This year's selection of films have "a notable emphasis on personal vision, rather than films that utilize genre conventions or stereotyped characters," says festival director Darryl Macdonald.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • December 22, 2010 5:15 AM
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The Social Network Tops Village Voice/LA Weekly Critics Poll

Lo and behold, The Social Network tops yet another critics list--the Village Voice/LA Weekly Year-End Poll--by a good margin, followed by Carlos, Winter's Bone and The Ghost Writer. Olivier Assayas won best director for Carlos, followed by The Social Network's David Fincher, Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) and Roman Polanski (The Ghost Writer). The Social Network's Aaron Sorkin won for best screenplay, followed by Maren Ade (Everyone Else), Robert Harris and Roman Polanski (The Ghost Writer) and Todd Solondz (Life During Wartime).
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 22, 2010 2:02 AM
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What Went Wrong with Hollywood Romantic Comedies?

What Went Wrong with Hollywood Romantic Comedies?
What went wrong with the romantic comedy genre this year? Have the Hollywood studios lost the winning formula for pulling the date crowd? Anthony D'Alessandro lists five reasons why the rom-com has lost its mojo:Hollywood enjoyed a lovely honeymoon with romantic comedies in 2009 with such hits as The Proposal ($164 million) and It’s Complicated ($112.7 million). But this year, the genre has been nothing but a forgettable one-night stand at the domestic B.O. James L. Brooks’ $110 million Reese Witherspoon headliner How Do You Know is the latest rom-com in a long string to break its heels, opening to a tear-jerking $7.5 million. But Reese Witherspoon isn’t the only American Sweetheart with runs in her stockings: cover girls Jennifer Aniston, Anne Hathaway, Rachel McAdams and Katherine Heigl also lost face with fickle moviegoers.
  • By Anthony D'Alessandro
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  • December 21, 2010 8:49 AM
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  • 18 Comments

Mark Lisanti Makes You Work for His Ten Best List

Writer Mark Lisanti makes you work for his Ten Best List. You want titles? Name them yourself. Here are four (easy ones) from his no-particular-order list:
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • December 21, 2010 6:23 AM
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Brits Weigh In: King's Speech, Another Year Lead London Critics

Don't underestimate the Brit factor when it comes to Oscar influence. There are many Brit voters in the Academy. The London Critics Circle just gave boosts to two Brit films, The King's Speech (seven nominations, including Film of the Year, Brit film of Year and Actor of the Year, Colin Firth) and Another Year (six, including British Director, Mike Leigh, British Actress, Lesley Manville and British Actor, Jim Broadbent). The Social Network nabbed five noms, while Brit debut featureThe Arbor got four, along with Joel and Ethan Coen's True Grit. Full list below.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 21, 2010 5:08 AM
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Black Swan Psychology Art vs. Science; Sex vs. Sexy: Which Sells Movies?

Black Swan Psychology Art vs. Science; Sex vs. Sexy: Which Sells Movies?
- Black Swan offers fuel for an Art vs. Science debate. Consider these professional-opinion-posturings on Black Swan ballerina Nina (Natalie Portman) and her mental state. Nadine Kaslow (Dept. of Psychiatry, Emory University) says: "It was intense and disturbing and fascinating and mysterious…What was a hallucination and what was real? When people are psychotic, it's difficult, even as a therapist, to know what's real and what's not."
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • December 21, 2010 4:42 AM
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  • 2 Comments

Trailer Watch: Saorise Ronan Stars as Assassin Hanna

The film tradition of young women killers is long: from Natalie Portman in The Professional and Anne Parillaud and Bridget Fonda as Femme Nikita to Jennifer Garner in Alias and Chloe Moretz in Kick-Ass. Now we have a new entrant in the category: Saorise Ronan in Hanna (April 8), a Focus Features film that reunites the star with her director on Atonement, Joe Wright. The trailer is below. Eric Bana plays her father; Cate Blanchett co-stars.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 21, 2010 4:33 AM
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  • 2 Comments

Exit Through The Gift Shop's Banksy Named Torontoist 2010 Hero; Talks Art, Film To Change The World

Exit Through The Gift Shop's semi-subject and director Banksy has been named one of the Torontoist's 2010 Heros (they've got Villains, too). In May, the mysterious street artist created seven pieces throughout the city (by now most are gone, the inevitable fate of street art). But, as Torontoist's Nick Mount writes, "the main virtue of Banksy's North American tour is simply that it got some of us out of our homes and into what's left of our public spaces on a collective scavenger hunt, searching for Banksy and often finding each other." Torontoist says of the seven gifts to their city, "That Toronto fucked them up was too bad, but what mattered most is that they were ours to find in the first place."
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • December 21, 2010 3:11 AM
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The Way Back's Weir: "If I can't make the kind of film that I want to make, then the hell with it"

The Way Back's Weir: "If I can't make the kind of film that I want to make, then the hell with it"
DIrector Peter Weir sat down for a Q & A with an all-Guild audience at the Arclight in Sherman Oaks. Clearly, making The Way Back over a three-year period was not easy, but he made the movie his way, as an independent, and that's the only way to go right now, he says. That's reality. The studios don't make films like this anymore. The book has been a popular worldwide bestseller for decades, because it is about the human spirit and the desire for freedom. It has been in development, with some 20 scripts written since Lawrence Harvey optioned it in 1960.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 21, 2010 2:19 AM
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  • 1 Comment

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