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Thompson on Hollywood

Oscar Watch: Seeking Consensus

While I admire Kris Tapley's attempt to make some sense out of the blizzard of Oscar predictions out there, I remain convinced that until the prognosticators see Charlie Wilson's War and Sweeney Todd, the two films that many of us got invited to see Monday, none of these lists make much sense. Richard Corliss in Time suggests that "audiences will have a great time watching" Charlie Wilson's War, which seemed to play for Oprah Winfrey's Chicago audience. Oprah raved about Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance, as guests Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts (who tried to get out of shooting a bikini scene while four weeks pregnant) nodded politely. My hunch is that Hoffman won't get nommed for best actor for The Savages or Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, but will get a supporting nom for Charlie Wilson's War.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 20, 2007 7:13 AM
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There Will be Blood: On the Screening Circuit

Paramount Vantage is on the There will Be Blood promo trail, screening the pic and building support. I watched the two hour and forty minute film, happily, for the second time at the WGA screening Monday night; the crowd gave Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day Lewis a standing ovation afterward.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 15, 2007 7:20 AM
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Atonement: Wright and Hampton Talk

Atonement screened for my last UCLA class Monday night, and they went for it, although you can always tell when a movie has left some folks behind when they ask questions about why the characters behaved the way they did. About a third of the class had read the book. Director Joe Wright and screenwriter Christopher Hampton explained why the movie was such a difficult challenge.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 12, 2007 8:16 AM
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13 Most Horrifying Screen Chills Ever

The London Times chooses the top 13 scariest horror scenes ever. Be afraid. Very afraid. [Hat Tip: Colin Boyd.]
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 15, 2007 6:46 AM
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Lust, Caution: Ang Lee Faces His Fear

At Sunday's BAFTA screening for Lust, Caution, director Ang Lee explained that this particular nexus between sex and politics scared him to death, which was why he had to do it. He insisted on not cutting the 5 to 10 seconds that would have yielded an R rating. The sex scenes are intensely powerful. (And for some of us, even educational.) And they were much more frightening for Lee to execute than the two gay cowboys in Brokeback Mountain, he said.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 9, 2007 11:49 AM
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Terror's Advocate: Barbet Schroeder Talks

Barbet Schroeder is one of those brainiac filmmakers, like Werner Herzog, who moves effortlessly between docs (General Idi Amin Dada), features (Reversal of Fortune), studios (Murder by Numbers) and indies (Barfly), in whatever country (Maitresse) or language (Our Lady of the Assassins) that suits him. He's a global opportunist. And like Herzog he's not a bad actor; he does a memorable cameo in Darjeeling Limited as a bemused auto mechanic.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 7, 2007 7:39 AM
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Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman

New York doc vet Jennifer Fox debuted her six-hour Danish-funded documentary Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman at Sundance in January. (Here's John Anderson's Variety review and NYT feature.) She's been taking the six one-hour segments to 15 cities around the country in advance of their showing on the Sundance Channel next spring. She just finished a swing through L.A., where the docu about women, sex, relationships and family showed at the American Cinematheque.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 30, 2007 7:49 AM
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Penn Premieres Into the Wild

Three men stood in the back of the Directors Guild theater beaming proudly at actor-filmmaker Sean Penn: producer Art Linson, Paramount Vantage head John Lesher and River Road financeer Bill Pohlad. Without them, the movie might not have gotten made.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 24, 2007 8:03 AM
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TIFF: Audience vs. Critics

Three tracks of movies screen in Toronto: high-brow innovative cinema to intrigue critics and cinephiles, movies with news content for the hungry media, and pics that wow the film fans in theaters. The most fortunate--breakouts like Jason Reitman's Juno, Joe Wright's Atonement, Craig Gillespie's Lars and the Real Girl, and Sean Penn's Into the Wild--do it all.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 12, 2007 8:20 AM
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India Splendor: Bollywood Stars Shine in L.A.

I had a blast Saturday at India Splendor's tribute to the late great Raj Kapoor, who spawned a dynasty of Bollywood talent, including the delightful star Rishi Kapoor. Variety's Shalini Dore reports:
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 13, 2007 9:20 AM
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