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Thompson on Hollywood

Best of the Week: Top Ten Tom Hanks Performances, Talking Original Score Contenders, 'Wolf of Wall Street' and More

The top stories of the week from TOH!
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  • December 21, 2013 1:44 PM
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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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10th Dubai International Film Festival Closes With 'American Hustle'

During the 10th Dubai International Film Festival, which closed last weekend with a gala screening of 'American Hustle' and a typically lavish bash near the city centre, Martin Sheen turned up to accept a Lifetime Achievement Award, '12 Years A Slave' and 'Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom' played alongside a panoply of Arab, Asian and African programming (174 films in total including festival opener 'Omar', Palestine's entry for the 2014 foreign-language Oscar race); and DIFF organizers celebrated their first decade on the global festival map.
  • By Matt Mueller
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  • December 16, 2013 2:00 PM
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Dubai International Film Festival: Martin Sheen Lifetime Achievement Q & A, 'Apocalypse Now' Breakdown and More

For its 10th edition, the Dubai International Film Festival awarded its Lifetime Achievement Award to Martin Sheen, and the one-time "Apocalypse Now" and "The West Wing" star turned up over the festival's first weekend to give a career talk that was scheduled to last an hour but extended to 90 minutes, revealing his actor's vulnerability and what really happened on the set of "Apocalypse Now."
  • By Matt Mueller
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  • December 9, 2013 5:58 PM
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Dubai Film Festival: 'The Attack', 'Winter Of Discontent', 'Death Metal Angola'

Perusing the Dubai programme deciding what to see when your knowledge of Arab and African cinema is on the rudimentary side can generate a fog of confusion, so a film titled "Death Metal Angola" stands out like a screaming neon sign. Jeremy Xido, who directed this absorbing, beautifully shot documentary, which had its world premiere in Dubai, is a Detroit-born multi-talent (he has a European-based contemporary dance company and acted in "The Machinist") and was in Angola researching another documentary about a Chinese railroad when he discovered that the war-torn nation has a flourishing death-metal scene.
  • By Matt Mueller
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  • December 17, 2012 7:02 PM
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Dubai Diary Four: 'Wadjda,' 'Hanyut,' "Television'

A gluttonous day of five movies, one after another: first, a press screening of “Wadjda," touted as the first movie shot in Saudi Arabia, as well as being helmed by a woman, is about a ten-year-old girl who wants a bike, a common-enough desire, but not permitted within the strictures of her society. She sets out to earn the money for the bike herself, weaving bracelets for sale (the bracelets themselves not to be worn at her traditional school), and entering a Koran competition in order to win the prize money.
  • By Meredith Brody
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  • December 16, 2012 4:29 PM
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Dubai Fest: Michael Apted on Arab Docs, Women in Film, '7 Up' Series,' & Why 'Skyfall' Isn't a Bond Film

It seems a tad peculiar to find Michael Apted at the 9th Dubai International Film Festival, but here he is, heading up the jury for the Muhr Arab Documentary section and collecting a Lifetime Achievement Award. He also took part in a panel on non-fiction vs. fiction filmmaking, a natural fit for the prolific British filmmaker who has spent much of his career flitting between the two. "56 Up," the latest installment in his "Up" documentary series picking up on the lives of several British children at seven-year intervals, was broadcast in the UK earlier this year. Apted has 16 documentaries to watch in Dubai but did find time to chat on a terrace at the swanky Al Qasr hotel in the Madinat Jumeirah resort.
  • By Matt Mueller
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  • December 15, 2012 4:06 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Dubai Festival Diary 3: 'New Arab Films' Panel, 'Wadjda,' 'Detroit Unleaded,' 'Chaos Disorder'

There are only two screening slots scheduled for today, both in the evening, so in the afternoon I attend one of the industry panels that are part of the buzzing Film Market. This one is entitled “New Arab Films: A Story of Success,” although after listening to a broad spectrum of views, it seems that the panel could also have been entitled: “As William Goldman famously said, Nobody knows anything.”
  • By Meredith Brody
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  • December 14, 2012 11:25 AM
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Dubai International Film Festival: Arab Films Panel Hails 'Wadjda,' Laments Obstacles to Arab Film Success in North America

It was only shot last spring and premiered at Telluride and Venice a few months later, but already Haifaa al-Mansour's "Wadjda" is being hailed as a beacon for successful Middle Eastern filmmaking and a role model for other regional films and filmmakers. It dominated the discussion at New Arab Films: A Story Of Success panel at the 9th Dubai International Film Festival, where the film is having its Middle Eastern premiere.
  • By Matt Mueller
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  • December 14, 2012 6:20 AM
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Dubai Festival Day Two: Disappointing 3-D 'Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away,' Must-Sees 'Me and You' and 'Here and There'

After an unsuitably lavish breakfast, I catch a Mall of the Emirates-bound shuttle by the skin of my teeth and scuttle through the Mall --which looks just like a mall, only bigger, to paraphrase the well-known joke of what the unimpressed woman said to the flasher – arriving at the theater screening “Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away” in 3-D, just before it starts. I’m underwhelmed. After Werner Herzog’s amazing 3-D “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” exploring the 20,000-year-old paintings in the Chauvet caves of southern France, and Wim Wenders’ glorious 3-D “Pina,” featuring the dances of Pina Bausch, it seemed that 3-D had claimed its place as a valid art form. The presence of James Cameron as an executive producer of “Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away,” also seemed to indicate seriousness.
  • By Meredith Brody
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  • December 14, 2012 1:08 AM
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