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Thompson on Hollywood

Ted Sarandos Attacks Studios and Theaters for Stifling Innovation in Film Independent Forum Keynote Speech (VIDEO)

Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos delivered the Executive Keynote address at the 9th annual Film Independent Forum Saturday at the Director Guild Theatre. In the video below, he does not hesitate to target the major studios and theater chains for not seeing things the way he thinks they should.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 27, 2013 1:30 PM
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  • 3 Comments

NOFF Review: In Neil LaBute's 'Some Velvet Morning,' Sex on a Slow Boil (VIDEO)

Stanley Tucci doesn't receive nearly enough credit for being sexy as hell. Unconventionally handsome, a craftsman of the second fiddle, he's the thinking man's fantasy of middle age. But in Neil LaBute's surprising two-hander "Some Velvet Morning," the allure is twisted, and Tucci elicits another variety of attraction: the hint of menace.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • October 19, 2013 3:29 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Ted Hope Talks Exit from San Francisco Film Society, Schamus, and Indie Film's Future

Ted Hope is more fast-moving whip-smart entrepreneur than arts administrator. He believed that he could move the needle farther at the well-funded 57-year-old organization than he could. The SFFS was seeking to find a replacement for Bingham Ray, who had died shortly after taking the executive director job, and liked what they were hearing from Hope, a veteran indie film producer with a zeal for moving the independent film community toward new digital models.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 9, 2013 7:07 PM
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  • 1 Comment

'Out in the Dark': The Love that Dare Not Speak Its Name Dares to Challenge Borders

Michael Mayer came to the topic of "Out in the Dark," his debut feature which had its world premiere earlier this month at the Toronto International Film Festival, through a combination of chance and unexpected passion. The Israeli-born filmmaker was eating dinner in Los Angeles with a friend from Tel Aviv who mentioned his work with gay Palestinians living in Israel and told Mayer about their legal, political and emotional uncertainties. "It kind of blew me away," he told me in a phone interview last week. "It was the first time since film school when I was like, 'oh shit, I want to tell that story.'"
  • By Jacob Combs
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  • September 24, 2013 3:17 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Sundance Fave 'Concussion' Is a Sexy, Sometimes Troubling Look at Sexuality and Self-Worth (TRAILER)

The title of Stacie Passon's new film "Concussion" is a bit of a misdirect. The eponymous baseball accident in the first five minutes of the film could well be the cause of everything that follows, but it could also be little more than an instigating incident--a fluke of life that separates what was before from what is now. It's a testament to Passon's subtle and somewhat conflicting film that it's impossible to tell just what the concussion in "Concussion" really signifies.
  • By Jacob Combs
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  • September 16, 2013 12:24 PM
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  • 0 Comments

'Our Nixon' Review: Forty Years Later, An Intimate Portrait of Nixon, and Ourselves (TRAILER)

Songwriter Kirsty MacColl's "They Don't Know (About Us)" makes a fitting title track for "Our Nixon." The found-footage documentary, woven from 500 hours of Super 8 shot by Watergate convicts H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, and Dwight Chapin, isn't just a portrait of the Nixon's peculiar boys club. It's a time capsule from a bygone age.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • August 30, 2013 12:03 PM
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  • 2 Comments

Arthouse Audit: Sundance Hits 'Austenland,' 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints' and 'Cutie & the Boxer' Open Soft

The ongoing success of several late-summer hits plus serious competition from "The Butler" this weekend contributed to the disappointing results for three new entries. Over July and August, four Sundance 2013 releases opened strongly with two breakouts: "The Way, Way Back" and "Fruitvale Station." But this weekend's three acclaimed Sundance hits stumbled at the August box office. The combined grosses of "Austenland," "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" and doc "Cutie and the Boxer" didn't even add up to the opening of "The Spectacular Now," and grossed only slightly better than last week's "In a World." This year the mid-August period isn't ready to join an expanded prime summer calendar.
  • By Tom Brueggemann
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  • August 18, 2013 5:51 PM
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  • 2 Comments

WATCH: Exclusive Clip from Rodney Evans's Sexuality-Bender 'The Happy Sad'

After his 2004 Sundance award-winner "Brother to Brother," director Rodney Evans is back with his sophomore attempt "The Happy Sad," a film that examines modern relationships in all their complexity and contradiction.
  • By Jacob Combs
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  • August 13, 2013 2:09 PM
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DVD Review: Pema Tseden's 'Old Dog,' a Powerful Political Allegory of Modern Tibet (TRAILER)

Forget Uggie. My favorite canine companion in recent cinema is the shaggy, steadfast nomad mastiff of Tibetan writer-director Pema Tseden's contemplative and ultimately wrenching "Old Dog" (2011), available today on DVD from Icarus Films Home Video/dGenerate Films Home Video Collection.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • July 30, 2013 2:40 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Arthouse Audit: 'Blue Jasmine' Exceeds 'Midnight in Paris' Debut in Top Specialized Opening of 2013, Best Ever in Summer

Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine" continues the auteur's recent rebound to levels similar to his heyday in the 1970s and 80s. His fifth consecutive release from Sony Pictures Classics scored his career-best best opening result (beating "Midnight in Paris") with a six-theater, three-day total of over $600,000. This number is a record for the June-August period for any live-action limited release.
  • By Tom Brueggemann
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  • July 28, 2013 1:12 PM
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  • 3 Comments

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