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Thompson on Hollywood

Dark Knight Review: Nolan Talks Sequel Inflation

Finally, I would have preferred to see The Dark Knight in 35 mm, not IMAX. (I will go see it again when it opens July 18.) While the sequences that were shot with giant cameras were stunning at the IMAX venue--especially the deep detailed helicopter shots over Gotham and the amazing car/truck chase filmed in Chicago's freeway tunnels--I found the movie overwhelming. My brain starts to shut down when it gets over-pixillated, and this film goes on for two and a half hours. (Here's Justin Chang's review.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 6, 2008 7:35 AM
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Iron Man: Downey and Favreau Rock

I managed to convince Paramount to show me Iron Man earlier this week, and grabbed director Jon Favreau for a phone interview from the European leg of his round-the-world press tour, from Paris to Rome to the London Premiere. Here's my Iron Man column, which even explains why Samuel Jackson and Hilary Swank aren't in the movie.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 25, 2008 5:57 AM
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Leatherheads: Clooney Goes Retro

George Clooney is the sort of movie star who gets to do what he wants, especially if he's willing to direct himself. In this case the period football comedy Leatherheads had been languishing on the shelf at Universal for decades, and was going to be directed by Steven Soderbergh at one time. Clooney's version is a sweetly daffy valentine to classic Hollywood screwball comedies, Coen brothers comedies and romantic comedies. Clooney stars as a handsome over-the-hill football player who's pretty smart but gets beat up on the playing field and takes plenty of pratfalls and romances a wise-cracking reporter (Renee Zellweger).
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 1, 2008 4:45 AM
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Oscar Watch: Reviews of Nominated Shorts

[Posted by Peter Debruge]2008 Oscar Animated ShortsThe trouble with watching the Academy's animated short nominees (which you can do in theaters or online now, thanks to the efforts of Magnolia Pictures, Shorts International and iTunes) is that it practically forces you to think about these five exquisite entries in competitive terms-- which is best? which will win? -- when in fact, this is the strongest and most diverse crop I've ever seen in the category. From stop motion to CG to paint on glass, the techniques reflect the full range of possibility open to animators today, and I strongly encourage anyone to seize the opportunity to see them not as Oscar-season rivals but as a diverse medium's collective best efforts.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • February 24, 2008 7:07 AM
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Sweeney Todd Opens in 5th Place

Sweeney Todd opened to excellent reviews (87% fresh on Rottentomatoes.com) and strong initial numbers on Friday, but the movie dropped an estimated 28 % (actually 25%) between Friday and Saturday. (Here's Sunday's Variety weekend boxoffice report.) This indicates that many viewers were lured by Paramount's mainstream horror-driven ad campaign, which did not sell the film as a Stephen Sondheim musical, and walked away disappointed. (The company also seeded the internet with clips showing the musical numbers.) Selling a unique movie like this, where there is no tried-and-true pattern to follow, is admittedly tricky. So Paramount made the call to go wide with 1200 runs--and not build the movie from fewer runs in sophisticated urban markets. It now looks like Dreamworks' initial strategy might have been the right way to go. That way early adopters would spread good word and build an audience slowly over time, rather than folks being lured into seeing a movie that they wind up not liking--and spreading bad word.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 23, 2007 7:56 AM
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Sweeney Todd Reactions

DreamWorks has been holding Sweeney Todd back. Well, they finally screened it last week, and elicited "non-reviews" from the Internet folks. The two trades are sufficiently alarmed by all this activity to consider running their reviews sooner rather than later, I hear.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 2, 2007 6:03 AM
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There Will Be Blood: Early Reviews

Variety's Todd McCarthy delivers a rave review of Paul Thomas Anderson's much-anticipated There Will Be Blood. We saw it at the same screening on Friday last week. McCarthy wanted to take his time with this review, and not rush it out the door. Here's a sample:
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 1, 2007 5:51 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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Darjeeling Limited: Anderson's Best Film Since Rushmore

I'm not of the Wes Anderson-can-do-no-wrong school. I loved Bottle Rocket and Rushmore, blew lukewarm on The Royal Tanenbaums (which was often wonderful, but also awful in places), and froze out Life Aquatic. So I am happy to report that Darjeeling Limited is the best thing Anderson has done since Rushmore.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 9, 2007 11:45 AM
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TIFF: Atonement, Elizabeth: The Golden Age

It was a Working Title double-header today. First, the Oscar contender: Atonement is breathtakingly assured. During Joe Wright's Pride and Prejudice, I smiled at the screen with pleasure. He took you through these people's rooms, their lives, their conversations, hopes, dreams. He made you care about them. The emotions were believably large within an intimate space. He didn't let the moviemaking overwhelm the story, he kept the cuts coming, moving fast, the dancing was spectacular. It felt modern, up-to-date, not stuck in some deadly stuffy period past. And Keira Knightley gave a winning, Oscar-nominated performance. (Here's her interview in the London Times.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 9, 2007 8:24 AM
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