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Thompson on Hollywood

David O. Russell Talks 'American Hustle' in Dubai, Redemption, Scorsese and Embracing "Muscular" Cinema

Is there a filmmaker of recent times who's enjoyed a more impressive career rebound than David O. Russell? Before "The Fighter" in 2010, Russell's career was in tatters, and in danger of flatlining for good. But that shrewd blend of "Rocky"-style boxing saga and family psychodrama marked a magnificent return to form, and was duly recognized with seven Oscar nominations. "Silver Linings Playbook" won Jennifer Lawrence her Oscar. Now "American Hustle" is in the mix. Russell talks about his career redemption.
  • By Matt Mueller
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  • December 18, 2013 6:24 PM
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Alexandre Desplat Talks Embracing Humor Through Music in 'Philomena' Score

Composer Alexandre Desplat has never scored a comedy before and, although one wouldn't call "Philomena" a comedy, he nonetheless found the witty repartee between Judi Dench and Steve Coogan a lighter change of pace in crafting the music for his fifth collaboration with director Stephen Frears.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 18, 2013 2:10 PM
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'Philomena,' Harvey Weinstein's Best Oscar Hope, Comes on Strong; Why Coogan Dared to be Sincere

Steve Coogan is full of surprises. As an actor who also writes and produces, we have a sense of him from the roles he plays--he tends to be smart, acerbic, a bit of an asshole. So heart-tuggingly sincere "Philomena," which earned Golden Globes nominations last week for not only Best Drama and Actress Judi Dench but for Coogan and Jeff Pope's screenplay, is not exactly what we expect from him.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 16, 2013 11:58 AM
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Best of the Week: TOH! Top Tens, State of the Oscar Race, Why Paul Schrader May Not Open His Ballot and More

The top stories of the week from TOH!
  • By TOH!
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  • December 14, 2013 1:13 PM
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Weta's Joe Letteri Talks Animating the Smaug Dragon for 'The Hobbit'

Peter Jackson's well-received second "Hobbit" movie, "The Desolation of Smaug," contains a greater variety of VFX. But, of course, the centerpiece for Weta Digital is Smaug (voiced with menace and charm by Benedict Cumberbatch), the best CG-animated dragon ever created and sure to make a great impression at the Academy bakeoff.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 13, 2013 2:20 PM
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'The Past' Director Asghar Farhadi Says Illusion That Audiences Don't Like Complication Is Hurting American Cinema (Q&A)

Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi has created one of the best screenplays of the year with "The Past," a measured domestic drama where every frame counts. In a recent Q & A with the LA Times' Mark Olsen, Farhadi, with help from a translator, discussed the film, his idiosyncratic writing process and the state of cinema today (highlights below).
  • By Ryan Lattanzio
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  • December 12, 2013 1:54 PM
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David O. Russell Talks 'American Hustle,' His Unusual Directing Method and Christian Bale's Look with NPR (Plus Anatomy of a Scene VIDEO)

David O. Russell sat down with NPR's All Things Considered December 11 to talk "American Hustle," which over the past couple weeks has jumped to head of the class as an Oscar contender. Highlights from the interview, below, as well as the New York Times' video feature Anatomy of a Scene on "Hustle."
  • By Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna
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  • December 12, 2013 1:44 PM
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'Inside Llewyn Davis' Secrets and a New Coens Movie Revealed: Q & A (VIDEO)

The Coen brothers, Oscar Isaac and T Bone Burnett dig into making "Inside Llewyn Davis"--and the Coens may know what their next movie is--with George Clooney.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 11, 2013 3:57 PM
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Craft Talking 'Saving Mr. Banks': Bridging 1961 Los Angeles with 1906 Australia through Cinematography, Production Design and Costumes

Like "Mary Poppins," "Saving Mr. Banks" seems deceptively simple on the surface. But once you dig deeper, the story resonates as a brilliant memory piece for Emma Thompson's P.L. Travers, slipping back and forth from her painful childhood in Australia in 1906 to cooperating and subverting the adaptation of her beloved novel with Walt Disney in 1961. And that was the creative hook for director John Lee Hancock and his fellow filmmakers, including production designer Michael Corenblith, cinematographer John Schwartzman, and costume designer Daniel Orlandi.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 11, 2013 2:20 PM
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Steve James Promises Surprises in Roger Ebert Documentary 'Life Itself,' Set to Premiere (and Livestream) at Sundance 2014 (EXCLUSIVE)

The critic Roger Ebert was a fixture at Sundance, such a fixture that the towing of Ebert’s car on once-sleepy Main Street in Park City years back was bellweather evidence that Sundance was outgrowing its ski town origins. Now, nine months after Ebert’s death from cancer in April, "Life Itself," the new bio-doc directed by fellow Chicagoan Steve James ("Hoop Dreams") will debut in Sundance’s Documentary Premieres section. TOH! talked to Steve James about putting Ebert on the screen.
  • By David D'Arcy
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  • December 11, 2013 1:48 PM
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