April 18, 2014

Tag Archives: Entertainment/Culture

Thinking Out Loud: Who Could/Should Direct Ghostbusters III?

For this weekend’s edition of Thinking Out Loud, I only really have one topic in mind, and it’s on the direction of the Ghostbusters franchise. With the recent passing of Harold Ramis and the even more recent announcement that Ivan Reitman won’t be directing the in development sequel/reboot, I’ve been thinking about who might be best suited for the job. Bill Murray already is almost assuredly not going to be involved and Dan Aykroyd mostly is helping shape the script and will be a supporting player at best, so this is an opportunity to take the concept in a potentially new direction…
If I were in charge of offering the job to whatever filmmakers I desired, these would be the six (or technically eight, but you’ll see what I mean in a moment) that I’d be wining and dining. The half dozen different choices represent some unique takes on the material, but I think they’d all be successful candidates:
-Judd Apatow – For a few years now I’ve secretly hoped that at the very least Apatow would help produce a Ghostbusters movie. His stable of friends/actors seem perfectly suited to become wisecracking paranormal exterminators. You could have any combination of Jay Baruchel, Michael Cera, James Franco (maybe), Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, and Martin Starr in the roles, and that’s a solid recipe for comedy in my eyes. Apatow probably isn’t too interested in this gig, but I really wish he would be.
-Joe Cornish – I may not have loved Attack the Block, but in some ways Cornish’s film is almost a calling card for this type of studio project. He could make a rather unique mark. I’d think that he’d be a less likely pick because of his relative lack of experience, but if Godzilla turns out to be a big success, I could see Cornish following in the footsteps of Gareth Edwards and getting a big franchise to play with.
-Duncan Jones – A darker choice to be sure, but anyone who follows Jones on Twitter knows that he has a sense of humor as well. He’s certainly elevate the franchise and make it a real legitimate “film” as opposed to a comedy tent pole, but isn’t everything supposed to be darker and grittier anyway? He’s another less than likely candidate, but I’d hope that his name is at least floated about.
-Phil Lord and [...]

Could a Best Picture nominee launch from Cannes this year?

In the pretty near future, the lineup for the 2014 Cannes Film Festival will be announced. We already know that potential Oscar player Grace of Monaco will be there, but what else could debut at Cannes and then potentially appeal to Academy members? This particular festival isn’t nearly as awards season centric as the New York or Toronto Film Festivals are (or the Telluride Film Festival, for that matter), but we always get a contender or two to discuss. Last year we had Blue is the Warmest Color debut, while future nominees like The Great Beauty, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Nebraska unspooled as well. That got me thinking about what this year’s slate could have inside of it for prognosticators like myself to chew on…
Below you’ll find five titles that I think could have a chance at turning the heads of voters, provided of course that they play at the fest. I’ve opted to focus on American movies just because those are the ones that the Academy tends to focus in on themselves, though of course there are exceptions from time to time like Amour. Still, big time contenders (and even the occasional Best Picture winner like No Country for Old Men) tend to be english language outings. Anyway, now I’ll dive in and speculate about five likely Cannes titles that could have a chance to woo members of the Academy.
1. Birdman – There’s a chance that this comedy from Alejandro González Iñárritu could be too offbeat for Oscar voters, but they’ve gone out on dramatic limbs with him before, so if this tale of a washed up actor doesn’t get too weird for them, there are tons of nomination opportunities. This could also be the role that nabs Michael Keaton his first Academy Award nomination too, so there’s that. This one could either get shut out or be a huge player, but it’s potentially the most likely to transition to awards season attention. We’ll see if it actually debuts at Cannes, but I think it’s highly likely that it will.
2. Magic in the Moonlight – Another highly likely title for the fest, Woody Allen’s next movie is set in France, so that only makes it even more apt for a slot. That being said, of late Allen has basically seen every other film of his become Oscar players, so this could be the off year for him. Still, it’s likely [...]

Big and Bleak ‘Noah’ Draws Strong Reviews

The reviews are trickling in on “Noah,” director Darron Aronofsky’s Biblical epic adventure starring Russell Crowe in the title role, and the critics, so far, are suitably impressed.
“Aronofky Goes Big and Bleak,” reads the headline on the Film School Rejects website.
“A lot of Noah is so dark that you wonder how a big studio let a director get away with making it, and it’s not just specific moments I’m talking about here,” writes reviewer Nathan Adams. “There’s a tension that runs through the whole film about who you should be rooting for, or it it’s even possible to root for anyone in this situation. Noah goes to such dark places over the course of the movie that it’s impossible to keep relating to him as a protagonist (sometimes to the point of comedy, intentional or otherwise) ,and it becomes necessary for the narrative to switch its viewpoint from character to character. There are moments of mass death so casually presented that they almost feel mindless, and then they get followed up by character beats so focused that they almost chastise you for getting caught up in the spectacle and forgetting to remain compassionate.”
He goes on to write: “Noah is the sort of movie that takes multiple viewings and a little bit of time to fully digest.”

Variety’s Scott Foundas writes: “Aronofsky’s uneven but undeniably bold, personal, visually extravagant take on the Old Testament tale will surely polarize critics and audiences while riding a high sea of curiosity to strong initial worldwide B.O.”
Foundas describes the depiction of the character Noah in the film as “neither the Marvel-sized savior suggested by the poster nor the ‘environmentalist wacko’ prophesied by some test-screening Cassandras, but rather a humble servant driven to the edge of madness in his effort to do the Lord’s bidding.”
Steven D. Greydanus, whose review appears in the National Catholic Register, writes: “For a lifelong Bible geek and lover of movie-making and storytelling like me, Noah is a rare gift: a blend of epic spectacle, startling character drama and creative reworking of Scripture and other ancient Jewish and rabbinic writings. It’s a movie with much to look at, much to think about and much to feel; a movie to argue about and argue with.”
He adds: “It’s certainly not the picture-book story that most of us grow up with, all cheerful ark-building, adorable animals and a gravely pious, white-bearded protagonist.”
Todd McCarthy, reviewing the film [...]

Lionsgate Extends Deal with Grindstone

Lionsgate, whose recent success has been fueled by “The Hunger Games” franchise, has extended its long-term relationship with Grindstone Entertainment by signing new multi-year agreements with Grindstone President and CEO Barry Brooker and principal Stan Wertlieb, it was announced Thursday.
Grindstone’s films include the thrillers “Empire State,” starring Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, and “Frozen Ground,” starring Nicolas Cage and John Cusack.
”They are an important part of the Lionsgate family and a key component of our slate,” Lionsgate Co-COO and Motion Picture Group President Steve Beeks. “We expect them to continue to serve as a reliable source of profitable films featuring world-class talent in the years to come and, as they continue to evolve as a label, we look forward to elevating our Grindstone relationship to the next level.”

Rooney Mara: Angry Fans Protest Tiger Lily Casting

It seems that some film fans are upset over Warner Bros.’ decision to cast Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily in a new version of the Peter Pan story.
More than 5,000 people have so far signed a petition calling for a Native American actor to be handed the role, according to Britain’s the Guardian.
“This casting choice is particularly shameful for a children’s movie,” the newspaper quotes the petition as stating. “Telling children their role models must all be white is unacceptable.”
Mara reportedly beat out Lupita Nyong’o, the Mexican-Kenyan star who won a best supporting actress Oscar for “12 Years a Slave,” and Adele Exarchopoulous of France, whose performance in “Blue is the Warmest Color” was widely acclaimed, the newspaper reports.
Hugh Jackman is also set to star in the Peter Pan film. Directed by Joe Wright, the film is expected to be released in July, 2015, the Guardian adds.

Shanghai’s $2.4 billion “DreamCenter” to Open in 2017

In a sign of Hollywood’s expanding ties with China, DreamWorks Animation and Chinese partners Thursday unveiled their $2.4 billion “DreamCenter,” an entertainment complex in Shanghai that is set to open in 2017.
The complex will contain a 500-seat IMAX cinema with international film festivals and red carpet events in mind, bars, restaurants and performance venues, according to the companies.
A “Dream Avenue” theater district modeled on London’s West End and New York City’s Broadway will also be part of the complex, according to the Associated Press.
The 40-acre site includes eight outdoor events plazas.
The project is led by “Kung Fu Panda” and “Shrek” maker DreamWorks Animation, Chinese investment fund CMC Capital Partners, whose owners include state-owned companies, and Hong Kong developer Lan Kwai Fong, according to the AP.
“This will become the world’s third great urban center of entertainment and arts alongside New York’s Broadway and London’s West End,” DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg told a news conference, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Oscars®: Alfonso Cuaron – Which director/screenplay winner is most likely to win again?

After looking at which of the four acting winners would be the most likely to make it back to the Academy Awards telecast and emerge victorious a second time, I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to take a look at the other three major Oscar winners…the Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Screenplay winners. They were all first timers, with two of the three writer-directors as well. Alfonso Cuarón parlayed his first Director citation into a win for Gravity, while filmmaker Spike Jonze (who’s been nominated in the Director category before) managed a win in Original Screenplay for Her, and scribe John Ridley saw his first ever nomination turn into an Adapted Screenplay win for 12 Years a Slave. All are now entering potentially fruitful stages of their careers, so who’s going to be back?
Most likely has got to be Cuarón, since he’s already such a highly respected figure. Part of the reason he won Best Director and caused the split between that category and Best Picture was due to the love for him, or else it’s very possible that Steve McQueen would have emerged victorious and prevented the split. Gravity on the whole might not have even been as big a contender. Whatever project that this filmmaker chooses next will almost immediately be considered an Oscar frontrunner, and more or less rightfully so. He’s definitely earned that distinction at this point in his career.
Next I’d say Jonze, who finally was able to entice voters to do more than just nominate him. They’ve long appreciated his work, but this was the first time that they really out and out loved it. Her was only ever so slightly more accessible than his prior movies, but it just hit them in the heart and got him not only a nod for his first solo screenplay, but a win too. The next stage will be to try and turn his next Director nom into a win, and while he’s a unique enough filmmaker that you can never bank on what he’s going to try next, I’d say he certainly has it in him to craft another winner in the near future.
Finally, Ridley is very much an X factor, since it just all depends on which sorts of projects he pursues next. Could a permanent move behind the camera to direct be next? He’s directed before and has a Jimi Hendrix biopic [...]

Flight of Big-budget Films Costs 50,000 Jobs

The loss of big-budget movies like “The Hobbit” to New Zealand and “Iron Man 3” and “Oz, The Great and Powerful” to North Carolina and Michigan, is costing California nearly 50,000 jobs and $410 million in state and local tax revenues, according to a study released Thursday by the Southern California Association of Governments.
“Even the loss of only half of that spending cost the state a significant amount of economic activity,” the report states. “It is evident that (California) is losing ground to other states and nations.”
Among the findings: California continued to see its market share erode. The study found that 75 percent of the 41 live action feature films with production budgets in excess of $75 million were filmed outside of California in fiscal 2013.
The loss of “Iron Man 3” and “The Hobbit,” Parts 1 and 2, had a combined budget of $320 million, the study notes.
As it was, California’s Film and Television Tax Credit Program returned an impressive 11 percent return on investment in its first three years and helped generate $4.3 billion in economic activity and supported 22,300 jobs, according to the study.
Among the findings:
*Under the first three years of funding, 109 film projects were funded and completed.
*Those projects generated $247.7 million in state and local tax revenues, $4.3 billion in economic output and $1.6 billion in labor income.
*For every $1 of tax credit certificate issued, total economic activity in the state increased by $19.12, total state gross domestic product increased by $9.48, and $1.11 was returned to state and local governments in the form of tax revenues.
“You cannot look at this program and not see it is a formidable economic and fiscal benefit,” said Hasan Ikhrata, SCAG executive director. “California is very much at risk of losing its film industry, and without this program the past five years, the losses would have been even more painful.”
The report was commissioned by SCAG, the nation’s largest metropolitan planning organization, and principally authored by Christine Cooper, vice president, economic and policy analysis, for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.

Oscars®: Muppets Most Wanted – What’s up with the 2015 Awards Race

Directed by: James Bobin
Written by: James Bobin and Nicholas Stoller
Main Cast: Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey make up the main human actors, with various others voicing the Muppet cast members, plus cameos from tons of others in Hollywood
Past Oscar relations: The Muppets won Best Original Song (the song Man or Muppet was written by Bret McKenzie, who again is writing the songs here for Muppets Most Wanted)
Here is the next article in this new series on 2014 contenders hoping to compete for Oscar attention. Next (and second) up is James Bobin’s Muppets Most Wanted, which looks to capitalize on the prior films Oscar success (it won Best Original Song). The film is a sequel to the Oscar winning The Muppets, though this one is far more co-writer/director Bobin’s baby than last time, when he just directed and the vision was very much Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller’s (though Stoller still co-writes here). The spirit of the Muppets is still here though, as the gang goes on tour and has an international adventure that fits in very well with their past. Now, it’s going to hope that it can survive in our hearts and minds throughout the season and attempt to become another Oscar nominated Muppets movie.
What this flick has going in its favor is that it’s basically tailor made to receive a Best Original Song nomination. Many of the films in the franchise have showed up in that category, and this time around there are a number of catchy enough tunes to make it a very safe bet. The characters themselves are also just so charismatic and likable that you can’t help wanting to see more of them (remember the pseudo campaign to get them to host the Academy Awards telecast? I do), which is why whenever a new film of theirs comes out we talk about it as a potential dark horse contender for some bigger awards. I’m not sure about all of that this time around, but a Song citation seems likely to me.
Working against Muppets Most Wanted is that the movie is very slight and not anywhere near on the level of the last one (or the previous ones from years past). The movie is fun, but it feels like a sequel that mainly exists because the last one was successful, though cleverly they do comment on that very thing. Still, looking at this as any [...]

Is Steve Carell on his way to becoming an Oscar favorite?

One of the 2014 Oscar contenders I’m most looking forward to is Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, which stars Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, and Channing Tatum. I’ll be getting more in depth into that one later on this year, but after the news this week that Carell has also added another project to his slate that screams “nominate me”, I’ve started to think about where his career could be headed. In short, could Carell be an Oscar nominee and/or a winner within the next year or two?
This new project that he’s involved in is called The Priority List and is a drama about a teacher dying of cancer attempting to go on the road and reconnect with his students while making the most of his last days. If there was ever a plot that seems tailor made for a Best Actor nomination, it’s this one. Of course, we don’t know who’s writing or directing or costarring yet, and that can make a big difference (I don’t even know if the book is any good, just that it’s a true life tale, and voters tend to dig on that), but it’s just the right sort of role for a comedic actor to tackle as they transition to a more dramatic stage of their career.
Carell has shown dramatic skill before, though usually in more dramedy style roles such as the supporting turn of his in Little Miss Sunshine. Even over the last few years, a lot of his choices have been more in the quietly funny or even more dramatic than humorous realm, almost as if he’s been prepping for this transition deliberately. Foxcatcher will be by far his darkest and most serious role to date, and that should set him up nicely for this upcoming drama The Priority List.

This year will have Carell almost certainly in contention with the aforementioned Foxcatcher, though we don’t know yet if it’ll be a Lead or Supporting performance. Regardless, The Priority List is a clear Lead and showcase piece, so imagine if, two years from now, we’re talking about how Carell won Best Supporting Actor and then the very next year won Best Actor? It’s not as laughable (no pun intended) a prospect as you might think. Matthew McConaughey after all is now being looked at as a perpetual threat to get nominated, and consider what Jim Carrey’s Oscar career could have been like if he’d been [...]

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