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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

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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  • 1 Comment

Fassbender/McQueen Reunite, Studio Critique, Love And Other Drugs, Mulligan Talks Never Let Me Go

- The Guardian calls Hollywood's summer box office victory - approximately a 2.4% lead on 2009 - a hollow one; "the abiding memory of summer 2010 will be of a decline in standards" (the standards of storytelling, not technical effects). The arguments behind this hollow victory include the decline in actual people in theatre seats (lowest since 1997) and the rise in revenue (thanks, 3-D), the root of which conflicts with studios' growing challenge to stay relevant amongst growing sources of alternative entertainment (if they're only making movies for profit, they're undermining the argument for preserving the relevance of film). The Guardian also disses too many studio-approved screenplays that "too often settle for tired storylines, hackneyed dialogue and vacuous characters hiding behind music video sensibilities and loud explosions." The Guardian does see hope in the next year (including Never Let Me Go, but warns another "creatively impoverished" season of films will descend upon us sooner or later.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • September 8, 2010 7:30 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Video: Noomi Rapace Moves Beyond Salander and the Millennium Trilogy

One of the trickiest moves to make as a young star is coping with sudden fame--especially when it is attached to a beloved character. Swedish actress Noomi Rapace created the role of Lisbeth Salander in the Swedish films based on Stieg Larsson's "Millennium Trilogy"; the films made her a star all over the world (the trilogy has grossed $220 million so far worldwide – and $110 million for "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." But like the "Twilight" stars, whether she can make a career outside Sweden in other roles, in other languages, is another question. As you can see from the interview below shot in Venice 2010, Rapace speaks fluent English. UPDATE: She has been getting offers from Hollywood, from the "Sherlock Holmes" series to "Prometheus." The question was what she would do with them. Now we know. She's a global star.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 7, 2010 12:20 PM
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  • 4 Comments

Venice Press Conference: Coppola, Dorff and Fanning Talk Somewhere

Venice Press Conference: Coppola, Dorff and Fanning Talk Somewhere
Video of the Venice Somewhere press conference with (a soft-spoken) Sofia Coppola, Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning is in two parts, below. Coppola was a good deal more forthcoming in her later one-on-one interview with me, which I will eventually transcribe and post.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 6, 2010 12:55 PM
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  • 0 Comments

EXCLUSIVE CLIP: Vincent Cassel in Mesrine: Public Enemy #1

Jean-François Richet’s Mesrine: Killer Instinct opened strong on 28 screens this past weekend, which is a good sign for Mesrine: Public Enemy #1 (part 2, which opens September 3). The films, both hits in France, have been waiting for a release since their 2008 Toronto premieres; now they and their riveting star Vincent Cassel (in his César winning performance as French gangster Jacques Mesrine) are able to impress a wider audience. Check out the exclusive clip below from Mesrine: Public Enemy #1 and our interview with Cassel here, in which he talks about his upcoming films; Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan and David Cronenberg's Dangerous Method:
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 31, 2010 4:59 AM
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Lee Daniels and Sean Baker Talk Prince Of Broadway: An Honest Indie Gem

Lee Daniels and Sean Baker talk to Sophia Savage about Baker's drama Prince of Broadway, which after lingering on the fest circuit, is finally hitting limited theaters September 3. Safe to say, Savage fell for this movie. So did Daniels.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • August 28, 2010 1:00 AM
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  • 2 Comments

New Orleans Films Louis and The Big Uneasy Screen on Katrina Anniversary

New Orleans Films Louis and The Big Uneasy Screen on Katrina Anniversary
It's unheard of for a movie to play one night in five cities before it's finished and before it has a distributor. But nothing about Louis--which inspired widely divergent reactions at a recent Beverly Hills screening--is what you'd call normal. Also marking the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, radio host/writer/actor Harry Shearer's searing expose The Big Uneasy hits theaters August 30 for one night only.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 25, 2010 11:22 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Werner Herzog Answers Twitter Questions

First Look Studios set up a Werner Herzog video press conference and asked him, in order, questions posed to him on Twitter, then posted the individual answers on YouTube.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 24, 2010 8:49 AM
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White Wedding Director Turner Talks Real South African Cinema

The South Africa in rookie director Jann Turner's White Wedding (select cinemas September 3) is not that of 2009's sci-fi District 9 (a USA/New Zealand/Canada/ South Africa co-production with a $30 million budget), Leonardo DiCaprio's Blood Diamond (a $100 million Hollywood release), or even that of the exquisite low-budget Tsotsi (a UK/South Africa production) which won the 2006 Oscar for best foreign film. (South Africa submitted White Wedding for the foreign film Oscar in 2009.)
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • August 24, 2010 7:34 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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