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Thompson on Hollywood

Sundance Watch: John Anderson Pounds Jeff Dowd

Opinions fly at the Sundance Film Fest but so did fists Wednesday morning when critic John Anderson, who was covering the 8:30 screening of the agit-prop environmental doc Dirt! The Movie for Variety at the Holiday Cinemas, told producer's rep Jeff "The Dude" Dowd that the movie "was poor, too simplistic, too redundant," says Dowd, who accompanied him over to the nearby Yarrow. When they arrived, Anderson told him their conversation on the movie was "over." The debate that followed got so heated that Anderson punched Dowd twice, once on the lip. I've spoken to both guys, and to Variety chief critic Todd McCarthy, who immediately relieved Anderson of the assignment to review the film. The Yarrow management called the police, who took information from witnesses--Anderson had gone to another screening--but Dowd did not press assault charges.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • January 21, 2009 7:45 AM
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Sony Pictures Classics Nabs An Education

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired North American and Latin American rights for $3 million to Lone Scherfig's An Education after a heated bidding war. The deal closed Monday night.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • January 21, 2009 2:39 AM
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Tarantino Wrapping Inglourious Basterds for Cannes Finish

Quentin Tarantino is rushing production on his World War II epic Inglourious Basterds, which has been described as The Dirty Dozen meets Cross of Iron, not only because his mentor Harvey Weinstein could use a big hit sooner rather than later--and Tarantino is deeply loyal--but because the director is trying to finish it in time for Cannes in May.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • January 21, 2009 2:36 AM
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Sundance: Digital Moguls Hawk MySpace and IMDb

While the Sundance media reports on the beleaguered independent theatrical market, which may never return to its former robust self--even with diminished production over the next few years--various Internet moguls are in Sundance networking and hawking their movie-centric wares.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • January 21, 2009 2:32 AM
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Sundance Video: Mark Duplass Talks Humpday

Mark Duplass is revealed in Sundance hit Humpday (which should land one of four possible buyers at any minuteUPDATE was acquired by Magnolia) as more than the digital writer-director with his brother Jay of Puffy Chair and Baghead but a gifted improvisational actor. He and Humpday co-star Josh Leonard (who starred in The Blair Witch Project) collaborated closely Mike-Leigh-style with writer-director Lynn Shelton. The results are hilarious--but also cut close to the bone. It took skill to pull this off. Here's my review.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • January 20, 2009 2:55 AM
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Sundance: Buzz Central

Well, as of Sunday enough people have seen enough movies so that a critical mass of buzz is building around certain films. Word moves like electricity after each screening. Even though some of these pics (more than usual) were screened before the fest, cautious buyers waited to see how they played and were received by critics. Now they have some idea.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • January 20, 2009 2:53 AM
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Sundance Watch: Gordon-Levitt Talks 500 Days of Summer

Along with an enthusiastic Saturday night crowd at the Eccles, I enjoyed Fox Searchlight's anti-rom-com 500 Days of Summer, directed by music video veteran Marc Webb, who lucked out by casting two rising stars with great chemistry, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. It's in the same genre as Juno or Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist, and falls right inside Searchlight's marketing sweet spot: young adults of both sexes. It opens this July.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • January 20, 2009 2:43 AM
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Sundance: Brooklyn's Finest Is Tragic Opera

Arriving at Sundance weighted with expectations, Brooklyn's Finest is a creative noble failure, one of those damn-the-torpedoes passion projects that flounders on its own ambition. Ex-Warners exec Basil Iwanyk developed the script by Michael C. Martin and brought in director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), but when Warner Bros. passed, the filmmakers raised financing through Avi Lerner's Millenium Films. Fuqua made the movie on location in Brooklyn for something under $20 million with a strong cast: Don Cheadle, Richard Gere, Wesley Snipes, Ellen Barkin and Ethan Hawke, who is stellar.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • January 18, 2009 3:01 AM
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Sundance Watch: Humpday Scores Laughs

Humpday was the best of the three movies I screened today at the Eccles. The third feature from Seattle photographer/filmmaker Lynn Shelton is deceptively entertaining.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • January 18, 2009 2:58 AM
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Sundance Hot Titles

My flight from LAX to Salt Lake City was delayed. Every seat was taken, many of them by industry folks heading to Park City for the Fest which launched Thursday night. I enjoyed a pleasant sunset drive up the mountain with Robin Schorr, who recently left River Road to put together a new development company with funding from a private investor. She told me to see Big Fan, from writer-turned-director Robert Siegel (The Wrestler). The voice behind Ratatouille, Patton Oswalt, breaks out in this one, I hear.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • January 17, 2009 3:04 AM
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