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Thompson on Hollywood

LAFF Mid-Fest Report: Reviews, Exclusive Clips and Ursula Meier Talks Oscar-Worthy 'Sister' (VIDEO)

Halfway through Film Independent's LA Film Fest, we've sampled a spectrum of films, among them a gala premiere ("Seeking a Friend for the End of the World"), an indie debut ("Pincus"), indie gems ("Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Gimme the Loot"), a foreign stunner ("Sister") and powerful docs ("The Invisible War," "Birth Story").
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • June 19, 2012 7:17 PM
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Immersed in Movies: Turbulent Behind-the-Scenes Yields Pixar's 'Brave' New Scottish World

"Brave" is far from the disappointment expressed in some early reviews. It's not only the much ballyhooed breakthrough as Pixar's first female-centric movie but also the most lush-looking work yet from the animation powerhouse. It's a powerful mother-daughter crucible set in medieval Scotland but with a modern sensibility...
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • June 19, 2012 4:27 PM
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Tale of Two First-Time Directors: 'People Like Us' and 'Seeking a Friend for the End of the World' Debut at LAFF

There are times when writer-directors should be allowed to direct their own material. And there are time when they should not. I would argue that "Star Trek" and "Alias" co-scribe Alex Kurtzman has more than earned his shot at directing his semi-autobiographical relationship drama "People Like Us" (June 29) even if it isn't entirely successful.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 18, 2012 4:25 PM
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Now and Then: 'Girls' Was the Season's Best New Series. When Did That Happen?

The pilot of "Girls" was an ugly, awkward little thing, delivering its one-liners with a nervous titter. Despite its refreshingly frank appraisal of modern sexual mores, its quartet of young women came off largely as archetypes, not characters. But I stuck with the series, and it paid off.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • June 18, 2012 4:21 PM
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'The Newsroom' Reaction: Early Reviews Are Tough on Aaron Sorkin

The mark of a great writer is that you can recognize their voice. There's no other Charlie Kaufman or Woody Allen or Aaron Sorkin. But what happens to a lauded player at the top of Hollywood's writer pyramid after winning the Oscar for "The Social Network" and sharing a nomination for "Moneyball" and landing his own HBO series? He gets killed.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 18, 2012 1:40 PM
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Review Roundup: 'To Rome with Love' Not Wooing Critics

Woody Allen's "To Rome with Love" had its stateside debut last night at the LA Film Fest, and American critics seem slightly more wooed by the director's latest loveletter to a foreign city than the Italians, but not by much. Review round-up below.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 15, 2012 3:03 PM
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Weekend Preview: Must-Sees Are Shelton's 'Your Sister's Sister' & Art Doc 'Marina Abramovic'

We'll waste no time on "Rock of Ages" (47% rotten) and "That's My Boy" (14% rotten), focusing instead on the two best films opening this weekend. Contrary to its tepid banner ads, Lynn Shelton's "Your Sister's Sister" is refreshingly simple and authentic. Per her improv-based directorial style, stars Mark Duplass (who also starred in her "Humpday"), Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt are a joy to watch as they navigate through a charged romantic triangle involving two sisters.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • June 14, 2012 1:31 PM
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SIFF Review: 'The Savoy King' Celebrates Harlem Jazz Drummer Chick Webb

“Music is a universal combiner," says Dr. Muriel Petioni, the mother of Harlem medicine, in the first few measures of Jeff Kaufman’s spirited window into the culture of the Harlem music and dance movement in the 1920’s and '30’s. This is a perfect descriptor for "The Savoy King: Chick Webb and the Music That Changed America."
  • By John W. Comerford
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  • June 11, 2012 8:39 PM
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Now and Then: Do Silent Movies Still Matter?

In some quarters I'll be considered a heretic for even asking the question. But think about how many people you know — discounting film school types and critics, people pretty much required to do so — who have ever seen a silent, let alone watch them regularly. I'll bet the number is small. Should we care?
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • June 11, 2012 7:08 PM
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'Brave' Early Reviews: Merida May Not Be New Model Princess After All

The "Brave" trailers promo Pixar's foray into princess movies; the Disney animated feature is expected to be one of the summer's top performers. But early reviews suggest the tale isn't as fresh and groundbreaking as we'd hoped. Princess Merida is Pixar's first female lead, but may not prove to be a new feminist icon.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • June 11, 2012 2:16 PM
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  • 3 Comments

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