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Thompson on Hollywood

Review Roundup: 'Phil Spector' a Sinfully Entertaining Treat Starring Wigged-Out Al Pacino

HBO's "Phil Spector" (March 24) directed by David Mamet and starring a tantalizingly wigged-out Al Pacino and Helen Mirren, is mostly receiving praise from critics. Pacino's performance is being touted as "compelling, both despite and because of the wigs," while Mamet's direction is called "sinfully entertaining." But not every outlet is impressed: Variety describes the film as "essentially a Lifetime movie gussied up with an Oscar pedigree." Review highlights below.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • March 21, 2013 12:20 PM
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Now and Then: Hitchcock's Bad-Ass '40s Brunettes Were the Lead-Up to Those '50s Icy Blondes

My favorite words in the movies come from the dusky, sultry opening minutes of "Rear Window" (1954), as Grace Kelly's New York socialite glides through L.B. Jefferies' (James Stewart) dim apartment, switching on the lights. "From top to bottom," she announces herself. "Lisa." Flick. "Carol." Flick. "Fremont." Flick.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • March 19, 2013 2:54 PM
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  • 3 Comments

Penske's Moves: As Daily Variety Prints Last Edition, Adds Critic Foundas, Reduces Movieline

Variety lovers are feeling mixed emotions. On the one hand, Penske Media Corp CEO Jay Penske is making changes that were long overdue. He has pulled down the firewall, modernized the website, added a troika of editors--LA Times import Claudia Eller (film), and Variety's Cynthia Littleton (TV) and Andrew Wallenstein (digital)--to run the online and print weekly trade, and ended publication of the print daily. Tuesday March 19 was the last print edition after 80 years. The revamped weekly publishes on March 27.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 18, 2013 9:36 PM
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  • 1 Comment

America Gets the Dystopic Treatment in New Animated Indie 'Silver Circle'

It's 2019, and runaway inflation has sunk the American economy into a cesspool of sky-high prices and rampant unemployment. A loaf of bread costs $50; bars advertise bargain deals on $90 beer Tuesdays.
  • By Jacob Combs
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  • March 18, 2013 4:07 PM
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Weekend Preview: Promising and Diverse Film Fare All Around, 'From Up on Poppy Hill' to 'Ginger & Rosa' and 'Spring Breakers'

This weekend sees a number of well-reviewed films in limited release. Sally Potter's lovely coming-of-age drama "Ginger & Rosa" stars a remarkable Elle Fanning nimbly handling the role of a budding teen poet struggling to come to terms with her family's latest break-up and the Cuban Missile Crisis. The new Studio Ghibli entry and Hayao Miyazaki's son Goro's second feature film, "From Up on Poppy Hill," is receiving glowing praise from the critics, while Matteo Garrone's "Reality," his follow-up to "Gomorrah" that follows the rise of a regular guy to reality TV-star status, is also getting top marks.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • March 15, 2013 2:59 PM
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SXSW Review UPDATE: Christopher Abbott of 'Girls' and Gaby Hoffmann Lead Jury Award-Winning Ensemble Cast in 'Burma'

“Burma,” made by first-time feature filmmaker Carlos Puga and winner of the Grand Jury Award for Ensemble Cast at SXSW, looks at a family in crisis. They aren't falling apart, but instead put together, suddenly, awkwardly, and the building blocks hurt. What starts as a generic and even patience-testing drama ultimately grows into a film boasting strong performances and a few unexpectedly open wounds.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • March 13, 2013 12:54 AM
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SXSW Review: In Lovely and Devastating Narrative Spotlight Entry 'Good Night,' No One Goes Gently

One of the best films I’ve seen at SXSW is “Good Night" by Sean H.A. Gallagher, a striking ensemble piece that looks at one night in the lives of a group of thirtysomethings as they unwittingly assemble for an announcement from their friend Leigh (Adriene Mischler): Her leukemia, which has been in remission for the past three years, has returned. It’s not going away.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • March 12, 2013 7:35 PM
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SXSW 2013: ‘Bates Motel’ Preview a Few Cuts Under Its Pre-‘Psycho’ Potential

“Who’s gonna rent a room in the rape/murder hotel?” smokin’ hot Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga) rhetorically asks her introverted son Norman (Freddie Highmore) after a grizzly scene has just unfolded in their creaky house. Based on the first episode of “Bates Motel,” which was unveiled March 11 at SXSW, a number of clunkily-drawn characters will probably swing by the infamous rest-stop, less in the service of true creepiness and more for generic thrills.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • March 11, 2013 11:46 PM
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  • 2 Comments

SXSW Opens with Raucous 'The Incredible Burt Wonderstone'

The SXSW Film Festival's opening night has been the terrain of celebrity-infused audience-pleasers from "Kick-Ass" to "The Cabin In the Woods" and this year played to a seemingly winning formula. Friday evening, Jim Carrey, Steve Carell and Olivia Wilde took to the stage at the Paramount Theater in the heart of Austin to introduce "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" to a packed and rowdy audience that SXSW seems to breed and studios (and their smaller brethren) eat up. If spontaneous hollers and boisterous guffaws can pass as a barely scientific poll for how a film played, then "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" appeared to be a hit. Brass at New Line, indeed, received what past openers have found here -- a raucous crowd.
  • By Brian Brooks
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  • March 9, 2013 12:51 AM
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Weekend Preview: From Artful 'Beyond the Hills' to Mainstream 'Oz'

Cristian Mungiu's brilliantly slow-to-burn "Beyond the Hills" (which people might start referring to as "the Romanian exorcism movie") opens this weekend, with critics appropriately impressed with the Cannes winner; leads Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan both won Best Actress at the fest last May.
  • By Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna
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  • March 8, 2013 3:12 PM
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  • 0 Comments

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