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Thompson on Hollywood

Crafts Roundup: Best Original Score Contenders Talk Creating Music for Survival, Reinvention and Spiritual Uplift

The Oscar-contending music scores are particularly strong this year, given the propelling theme of survival and reinvention. Among the standouts are "Gravity," "All Is Lost," "The Book Thief," "Philomena," "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," and "Prisoners." Even original songs have spiritual uplift, including "Let It Go" ("Frozen"), Cold Play's "Atlas" ("The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"), U2's "Ordinary Love" ("Mandela"), and Ed Sheeran's "I See Fire" ("The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug").
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 19, 2013 2:30 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Alexandre Desplat Talks Embracing Humor Through Music in 'Philomena' Score

Composer Alexandre Desplat has never scored a comedy before and, although one wouldn't call "Philomena" a comedy, he nonetheless found the witty repartee between Judi Dench and Steve Coogan a lighter change of pace in crafting the music for his fifth collaboration with director Stephen Frears.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 18, 2013 2:10 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Obit: Brilliant and Eccentric Actor Peter O'Toole Dies at Age 81

Peter O’Toole, whose performance as the charismatic and tortured T. E. Lawrence in David Lean’s 1962 masterpiece “Lawrence of Arabia” made him an instant movie star, died Saturday at the age of 81 after a long illness.
  • By Aljean Harmetz
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  • December 15, 2013 6:46 PM
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  • 1 Comment

'American Hustle' Scores Year's Best NY/LA Launch, Softer 'Saving Mr. Banks' Hits More Cities

"American Hustle" (Sony) had a year's-best limited opening, while "Saving Mr. Banks" (Buena Vista) had a decent take in a slightly wider start, both in advance of 2,000-plus breaks next Friday. Nothing else of note opened this weekend, a sign of the times as the studios increasingly, particularly during awards season, dominate the market and make it difficult for smaller films to gain traction in the major cities.
  • By Tom Brueggemann
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  • December 15, 2013 4:20 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Weekend Top Ten: Number One 'Hobbit' Underperforms as 'American Hustle,' 'Frozen' and 'Catching Fire' Sizzle

The second Peter Jackson "Hobbit" film "Desolation of Smaug" is launching well below expectations--and last year's "Hobbit" opening. But despite that and harsh winter weather in much of the country, the weekend top ten total was up by $10 million over last year. Coming to the rescue: strong holds for blockbusters "Frozen" and "Catching Fire" as well as a $15-million opening for Tyler Perry's latest "Madea" entry.
  • By Tom Brueggemann
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  • December 15, 2013 1:10 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Weta's Joe Letteri Talks Animating the Smaug Dragon for 'The Hobbit'

Peter Jackson's well-received second "Hobbit" movie, "The Desolation of Smaug," contains a greater variety of VFX. But, of course, the centerpiece for Weta Digital is Smaug (voiced with menace and charm by Benedict Cumberbatch), the best CG-animated dragon ever created and sure to make a great impression at the Academy bakeoff.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 13, 2013 2:20 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Craft Talking 'Saving Mr. Banks': Bridging 1961 Los Angeles with 1906 Australia through Cinematography, Production Design and Costumes

Like "Mary Poppins," "Saving Mr. Banks" seems deceptively simple on the surface. But once you dig deeper, the story resonates as a brilliant memory piece for Emma Thompson's P.L. Travers, slipping back and forth from her painful childhood in Australia in 1906 to cooperating and subverting the adaptation of her beloved novel with Walt Disney in 1961. And that was the creative hook for director John Lee Hancock and his fellow filmmakers, including production designer Michael Corenblith, cinematographer John Schwartzman, and costume designer Daniel Orlandi.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 11, 2013 2:20 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Arthouse Audit: 'Llewyn Davis' Tastes Major Success in Limited Opening

By opening better than any of the recent spate of acclaimed awards-bound films (including frontrunner "12 Years a Slave") the new film from Joel and Ethan Coen, "Inside Llewyn Davis," served notice that it too deserves attention. With three of the Coens' last four releases winding up as Best Picture contenders, and the reviews for "Davis" ranking slightly below "Gravity" and "12 Years" for best of the year, this result while not surprising was also not in the bag, as the film isn't a surefire crowdpleaser and boasts younger, urban appeal.
  • By Tom Brueggemann
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  • December 8, 2013 4:09 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Top Ten Box Office: 'Frozen' and 'Catching Fire' Lead Limping Pack; 'Inside Llewyn Davis' Starts Off Huge

The weekend following the Thanksgiving holiday is usually one of the year's weakest. The top two films, Disney's "Frozen" and Lionsgate's "Catch Fire," both grossed more than any previous film for a similar weekend at $31.6 and $27 million respectively, blowing past previous record holder "Tangled" at $21.6 million.
  • By Tom Brueggemann
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  • December 8, 2013 1:03 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Crafts Roundup: The Year of Immersive Sound in Survival Films

In the year of survival, sound has taken on supreme importance as an authentic, driving narrative force, and with the advent of Dolby Atmos, the theatrical experience has never been more immersive. "Gravity," "All Is Lost," "Captain Phillips," "Oblivion," "Rush," and "12 Years a Slave" are among the standouts in space, at sea, in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, on the dangerous Formula 1 track, and in physical/spiritual imprisonment.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • December 5, 2013 2:16 PM
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  • 0 Comments

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