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Thompson on Hollywood

TIFF: IFC Picks Up Super-Hero Spoof Super, Starring Rainn Wilson

IFC has acquired U.S. rights to writer-director James Gunn's super-hero spoof Super, starring Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler and Kevin Bacon. I saw footage from this at Comic-Con; it looked like a comedic version of Kick-Ass (which topped out at $48 million in wide release). But then IFC has a different economic model. After the movie premiered Friday night, IFC nailed the deal Sunday morning after a grueling all-night auction. UPDATE: And paid $1 million for it, which is a lot for them.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 12, 2010 9:52 AM
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  • 1 Comment

TIFF Diary: Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, Biutiful, The Edge

TIFF Diary: Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, Biutiful, The Edge
The indefatigable Meredith Brody shifts gears from Telluride to Toronto without missing a beat.Even though journalists now get inundated with cascading press releases from Toronto -- carefully calibrated and beautifully orchestrated to arouse excitement (in both us and our eventual readers) -- that let us know everything that’s going to be shown over the 11 days of the Toronto International Film Festival (aka TIFF), there’s still that ineffable moment when you sit down with the 448-page catalogue and read through each page as though it’s an especially engrossing, well-plotted novel.
  • By Meredith Brody
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  • September 12, 2010 9:04 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Oscar Talk: Venice, Telluride, Toronto, from Black Swan to Never Let Me Go

Now that Kris Tapley and I have actually seen some films, we dig into the nitty-gritty of how they will fare in the Oscar race. We discuss among other things Another Year, Black Swan, Never Let Me Go, Meek's Cutoff, The Way Back, The King's Speech and Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 10, 2010 10:10 AM
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  • 3 Comments

Exclusive Clip: Never Let Me Go

Exclusive Clip: Never Let Me Go
Pre-Toronto, we're happy to reveal a new, exclusive clip of Never Let Me Go (here's TOH's positive review). Director Mark Romanek and writer Alex Garland's adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's novel features Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield as students of Hailsham boarding school, a mysterious institution set in an alternative past in Britain. The three struggle to define their existence and the nature of love after being confronted with a dark destiny.
  • By Cameron Carlson
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  • September 9, 2010 2:59 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Portman Offered Gravity, Defining Adult Films, Toronto's Most Anticipated

- In the ongoing saga of who will replace Angelina Jolie in the lead role in Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity--she twice rejected the starring role--Natalie Portman has been offered the role, thanks to rave reviews on her Black Swan performance. With or without Black Swan's vote of confidence, Portman is a strong (but young) choice. The age range of the character in Gravity is apparently flexible. Should Portman accept the role, this will be a chance for her to stand out (although Robert Downey Jr. carries some of the load), a la Tom Hanks in Cast Away or James Franco in 127 Hours. Risky Business lists Portman's growing collection of possible projects, including a Terrence Malick film with Brad Pitt, a Tom Stoppard piece written specifically for her, not to mention Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Tom Tykwer's star-packed (Hanks, James McAvoy, Halle Berry, Ian McKellan) Cloud Atlas (both slated for 2011). All along, the actress has made diverse choices, ranging from Heat (1995), which RottenTomatoes rates highest of all her films, when she was 14 (the unheard of Free Zone [2005] is the lowest) to Star Wars (1999, 2002, 2005) and Garden State (2004).
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • September 8, 2010 3:35 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Venice Day Two: Schnabel's Miral is Heartfelt, Political Palestinian Drama

Venice Day Two: Schnabel's Miral is Heartfelt, Political Palestinian Drama
While Julian Schnabel's Miral packs an emotional punch, he tells the wrong story. I was in tears during both of the film's bookend sections, which focus on real-life Hind Husseini (the great Hiam Abbass), a wealthy Palestinian woman who in 1948 takes it upon herself to feed, clothe, educate and house thousands of orphans left abandoned and destitute by the ongoing wars and strife in Jerusalem. Her sense of obligation and personal sacrifice moved me. She and American Willem Dafoe share feelings, but can never get together; as she tells him: "I have 2000 daughters." While Husseini remains a character in the drama, the screenplay, adapted by Palestinian/Italian broadcaster Rula Jebreal from her semi-autobiographical novel, focuses on Miral (Indian actress Freida Pinto), a young girl born in 1973 whose widower father (Alexander Sidding) brings her to the orphanage to live during the week.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 2, 2010 11:06 AM
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  • 4 Comments

Venice Opens with Aronofsky's Black Swan: Too Intense?

Venice Opens with Aronofsky's Black Swan: Too Intense?
The opening night selection of the sexy R-rated violent thriller Black Swan was something of a gamble for Fox Searchlight and the Venice Fest, which landed loyal fan Darren Aronofsky--after rousing Venice receptions for both The Fountain and The Wrestler, which won the Golden Lion. He talked Searchlight into accepting the opening night invite--and now has to work Telluride and Toronto as well.Why the risk? Well, Searchlight covered their bets by making sure some stateside critics timed their early reviews--which were largely positive--with Venice.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 2, 2010 9:18 AM
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  • 5 Comments

HBO Acquires Toronto Fest Doc Precious Life

Israeli documentary Precious Life marks an early pre-Toronto Film Festival sale as HBO acquires U.S. rights. Directed by Israeli broadcaster Shlomi Eldar and produced by Ehud Bleiberg and Yoav Ze’evi, Precious Life tells the story of a four-month-old Palestinian boy from Gaza who lacks an immune system and requires a bone marrow transplant. This can only be done in an Israeli hospital.  As his doctor pleads for help, Israeli journalist Shlomi Eldar decides to document this complex drama about Israeli and Palestinian doctors’ attempt to save the kid's life.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 31, 2010 10:13 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Clip Watch: The Town Stars Affleck, Renner as Boston Robbers

Three things we know Ben Affleck can do: write (Good Will Hunting), direct (Gone Baby Gone) and deliver a strong Boston accent, on display in this clip from his sophomore directing effort, The Town. Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) is in there with him. The cops-and-robbers flick debuts in Venice, followed by Toronto. I will report back soonest.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 30, 2010 11:00 AM
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Yes it's True: Roadside Picks Up Biutiful Before Toronto

It's official. As I reported here, Lionsgate subsid Roadside is releasing Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Cannes entry Biutiful. They are partnering with Liddell Entertainment, which is supplying P & A, on a planned December opening. I knew the announcement had to be made before Toronto! Javier Bardem, who nabbed a best actor prize in Cannes, has a shot at an Oscar nomination if they all play their cards right. CAA, which reps Inarritu, orchestrated this hybrid deal. As I reported, ex-Lionsgate exec Tom Ortenberg is officially consulting on the film, Roadside and producer Jon Kilik confirm.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 25, 2010 7:28 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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