April 20, 2014

Tag Archives: Gone Baby Gone

Oscars®: Breathe In – What’s up with the 2015 Awards Race

Directed by: Drake Doremus
Written by: Drake Doremus and Ben York Jones
Main Cast: Felicity Jones, Guy Pearce, Mackenzie Davis, Amy Ryan, Matthew Daddario, Ben Shenkman, Kyle MacLachlan, and others
Past Oscar relations: Amy Ryan was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Gone Baby Gone
Here now is the next article in this new series on 2014 contenders hoping to compete for Oscar attention. Next up is Drake Doremus’ Breathe In, which hopes to build on his previous indie contender Like Crazy. That film ultimately fell short, so armed with some goodwill from that movie, can this one do better? Doremus once again has Felicity Jones in a main role, this time with Guy Pearce, Amy Ryan, and newcomer Mackenzie Davis among her costars. It’s a romantic drama with strains of the dysfunctional family genre thrown in, but it’s the way that this admittedly well worn story is told that sets it apart, particularly in what it allows its cast to do.
What this flick has going in its favor are the performances, particular the one from Jones. She’s phenomenal, perhaps even better than she was in Like Crazy. Veteran actor Pearce is very good too, while newcomer Davis makes an impression as well. Ryan is again a useful supporting player too, but Jones is the one you really remember when all is said and done. If anyone where to come out of this movie in terms of awards hopefuls, it’s her.
Working against Breathe In is that the movie has an almost total lack of buzz. It debuted a year ago at the Sundance Film Festival, so all that time waiting to come out didn’t do it any favors. It literally took over a year to begin screening for critics, playing a few other festivals, but mostly sitting on the shelf, and that creates the perception of something that’s not exactly top notch. The quality is there for this film, but I have my doubts that most voters will wind up even seeing it later on in 2014 when they begin thinking about awards and nominations.
So, can this be a player at all? Simply put, the odds aren’t at all in its favor. I’d be shocked if it held on until the end of awards season, but crazier things have happened, I suppose. The flick will really have an uphill battle, but Breathe In deserves to be seen regardless of that, so hopefully people find [...]

Ben Affleck talks “Argo,” Kevin Smith fans, and more Lehane stories – OSCARS

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Some of us are still getting used to talking about Ben Affleck, The Director.
Most of us grew up watching Ben Affleck, The Marquee Star. Ever since the fresh-faced Bostonian shocked the world (or, at the very least, the film industry) by winning an Oscar for his first screenplay of “Good Will Hunting,” Affleck has been an integral part of the Hollywood scene. Mostly, he was carrying popcorn blockbusters such as Daredevil or Armageddon. He earned indie cred collaborating with Kevin Smith on Chasing Amy, then fell victim to a string of poor acting choices that resulted in “Gigli,” “Paycheck” and “Surviving Christmas.”
In 2007, Affleck reinvented himself. He cast a fantastic ensemble for his adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s moody detective thriller “Gone Baby Gone.” Critics and audiences raved. Affleck followed that with “The Town,” an equally tough-talking Boston gang drama. It was as good, if not better, then his debut film.
The streak continues as Affleck directs “Argo,” a true-life hostage thriller centered on an unusual plan to abstract U.S. embassy workers from a hostile situation in Iran. Once again, Affleck assembles a top-notch ensemble that includes himself, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Victor Garber, Tate Donovan and the great Bryan Cranston (who we spoke with here).
If you need any more indication as to the power of Affleck’s cast, “Argo” is receiving this year’s “Hollywood Ensemble Acting Award” at the Hollywood Film Awards.
Affleck recently sat down with us to discuss his short but impressive directing career, the elements that drew him to “Argo,” and the possibility of him returning to Lehane’s franchise.
I was in the balcony of the Roy Thompson Hall for the film’s premiere. You were introduced, and a guy sitting near me shouts, “Affleck, you da bomb in Phantoms, yo!” And I thought, “Even here.”
[Laughs] Kevin Smith fans are everywhere.
But at least they are following you, right?
Yes, that’s right! You know, that line, which I actually I gave it to Jason Mewes and he then said … I always know the guy in the room who is the Kevin Smith fan.
Tell me something you learned on their previous films that really came in handy on “Argo,” where you thought, “Thank goodness I’ve seen that already.”
I think, on some level, the basic thing I learned on the previous two films is just that everything is going to be OK. We’re going to [...]

Ben Affleck on “Argo,” and why his ensembles work so well – OSCARS

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Ben Affleck’s primary strength as a director, so far, has been his ability to assemble stupendous ensembles.
His casting decisions on his first film – “Gone Baby Gone” – were so strong, from top to bottom, that many dismissed it as a happy accident. “The Town,” however, also showed Affleck’s knack for finding the right actor to fit the right part, from Jeremy Renner’s hot-headed Boston thug (for which he received an Oscar nomination) to the late Pete Postlethwaithe as a menacing florist with ulterior motives.
Affleck has done it again with “Argo,” a retelling of an actual hostage situation that somehow bridged Washington, D.C. and Hollywood in an effort to bring a team of American embassy employees home safely.
I was lucky enough to sit down with Affleck for a one-on-one, which we’ll have up on the site closer to the film’s release on Oct. 12. But his quote about actors, and about assembling ensembles, was too good not to share.
“The advantage of being an actor is that you appreciate other actors,” Affleck told me. “I’ve always focused on actors. I’ve always loved actors. I’ve always watched movies with an eye to even the littlest of moments to an actor’s performance. And so it has become the one thing I feel most confident about, because I just know how much I like other actors and acting. And you know, if you are a carpenter, you’re probably able to recognize better carpentry. The other stuff can be a little bit harder. It usually takes more work.”
That explains why “Argo” comes off as effortless. Affleck recruited a slew of tremendous “carpenters,” from John Goodman and Alan Arkin to Tate Donovan and the great Bryan Cranston.
See for yourself when “Argo” opens in theaters on Oct. 12.
Read more of our exclusive Awards coverage:
Our “Silver Linings Playbook” review
Ben Affleck’s “Argo” scores
Amy Adams lends strength to “The Master”
Producer Harvey Weinstein
“Lawless” director John Hillcoat
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Ben Affleck’s thrilling “Argo” a major step for maturing filmmaker – TORONTO

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: I can’t remember a more complete career renaissance than the one Ben Affleck’s currently enjoying.
Not that long ago, the handsome Boston actor – a one-time Oscar winner for co-screenwriting “Good Will Hunting” – was in Hollywood “prison,” condemned for poor choices ranging from “Gigli” to “Jersey Girl” and the aptly titled “Paycheck.” But Affleck took a temporary vacation, reset his career from behind the lens, and established himself as a formidable director with the one-two punch of “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town.”
“Argo,” his latest, takes this storytelling career to the next level.
Affleck has crafted an airtight heist movie, only the loot being boosted isn’t cash, diamonds or jewels. It’s six human lives.
“Argo” also sees the director responding to the criticism that he’s only capable of making riveting “Southie” thrillers. With “Argo,” Affleck goes global, yet never sacrifices his tensions by expanding his canvas. The film is based on a previously classified story of a daring hostage extraction during the extended Iran hostage situation of 1979. Tony Mendez (Affleck) has a plan that requires Hollywood and D.C. to collaborate on the creation of a bogus sci-fi movie, of which the detained hostages will pretend to be part of the crew.
Thanks to a subtle, internal time clock, Affleck must keep his pieces constantly moving through “Argo,” and it’s in this instance that we realize what a confident director he has become. There’s barely an ounce of fat on this rapidly-dancing thriller, which is alternately funny, risky and consistently terrifying. Once again, Affleck proves he has a fantastic eye or casting. Supporting roles scattered throughout “Argo” are occupied by pros, from Alan Arkin and John Goodman as the movie-business moguls who help stitch the fictional “Argo” together, to Bryan Cranston as Affleck’s man in the C.I.A., trying to pull enough strings to get these hostages to safety.
After building awards buzz at Telluride, Warner Bros. programmed “Argo” into TIFF, where it played like gangbusters to a packed Roy Thomson Hall for a well-received Gala screening. The film opens in October, and should enjoy a favorable run through the Oscar marathon as the industry embraces the entertainment angle to this so-strange-it’s-true story that is masterfully crafted by one of our most talented actor-directors.
Read more of our exclusive Toronto coverage:
Rian Johnson’s “Looper” reviewed
“Amour” amazes, “Rust & Bone” ultimately delivers
TIFF: The Day Before the Madness
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Ben Affleck’s “Argo” earns raves after debut Telluride screening – AWARDS

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Ben Affleck’s “Argo” has been building a steady stream of buzz behind the scenes from people in the know claiming that the seasoned actor and full-fledged filmmaker had a third consecutive hit on his hands. This afternoon, the political thriller held a not-so-secret debut screening at the Telluride Film Festival, and the response was off-the-charts positive.
“Terrific,” “outstanding,” “amazing,” “smart” and “absorbing” were the adjectives tossed around Twitter by scribes from sites like Variety, HitFix and The Playlist. Best Picture and Director nods seems very possible at this early stage of the game, as Affleck earned Academy cred with “The Town” (a Best Supporting nod for co-star Jeremy Renner) and “Gone Baby Gone” (a win for the great Amy Ryan).
By all accounts, Affleck has hit another home run with this true-but-strange story of a CIA operative cooking up a bizarre scheme to help extradite U.S. hostages from a compromised embassy in Iran. Affleck stars, and surrounds himself with an awards-worthy ensemble that includes John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, Kyle Chandler and Victor Garber.
The Telluride screening was a warm up for Affleck’s Gala screening in Toronto. That’s when I plan to get my first look at what sounds like a winner. We hope to cover “Argo” through the bulk of the awards season. Could this be the one that earn Affleck his well-deserved seat at the Best Director’s table? We shall see.

Read more of our exclusive Awards interviews:
Producer Harvey Weinstein
“Lawless” director John Hillcoat
“Writers” director Josh Boone
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Ben Affleck new film trailer – ARGO

HollywoodNews.com: I haven’t read the true story that this film is based on (if you want to, here’s the WIRED story). But the general idea seems like just the sort of great story that lends itself to a fun movie. And the film is filled to the gills with terrific character actors (John Goodman, Bryan Cranston, Victor Garber, Kyle Chandler, Tate Donovan, Phillip, Adrienne Barbeau, and my personal favorite, Zeljko Ivanek, etc).

And while I’m among those who didn’t care for The Town, I’m a big fan of Affleck’s Gone Baby Gone so he’s still batting a solid 0.500 so far. My only carp is with the trailer itself. It’s a 150-second spot that clearly divided into three acts. The first 45-seconds or so explains the time, setting, and political crisis that kicks the story into gear, while the middle 45-seconds goes into the actual scheme that made this story worth telling. Instead of ending at the 90-second mark, with the story fully explained and the stakes completely established, Warner Bros. felt the need to tack on an additional 45-seconds of montage footage, set to ‘Dream On’ that serves no purpose other than to reestablish the seriousness of the situation and spoil various bits of character and plot that likely goes down in the second or third acts.
The film looks fine, and kudos to Warner Bros for letting this clearly adult-skewing drama go out with an R-rating. But the trailer is 2/3 terrific and 1/3 pure needless spoilers. If you feel like watching purely out of curiosity, I suggest you stop right at the 90-second mark. Okay, your turn to share.
To read more go to Mendelson Memos
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Ben Affleck circling “Argo” for producer George Clooney

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: After “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town,” we’ll happily report any news nuggets about Ben Affleck returning to the director’s chair.
If one film has a legitimate gripe of being left out of the 10 Best Picture nominees this year, it’s Affleck’s taut bank-robbing thriller, Maybe he’ll have a better shot with his next project, which we’re hearing might be “Argo.”
The politically themed story, based on an article written in Wired magazine, explains how the CIA fooled the Iranian government in 1979 as an effort to rescue six U.S. diplomats that were being held hostage.
“The CIA used a disguise expert and concocted a scenario that involved the six being a Hollywood crew scouting a movie titled Argo. Under those disguises, they were able to flee the country,” THR reports.
The trade says Affleck is “in early negotiations” to direct the film, which is supposed to have touches of humor (not surprising once you learn that George Clooney and his partner, Grant Heslov, are producing the political thriller).
It sounds like a film Affleck could handle, and it’s a step away from the 1970s-tinged crime thrillers that he has used to launch his directorial career to date. We’ll let you know if anything comes of “Argo,” and Affleck’s involvement.
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2010 Look Back at the Year in Film

Scott Mendelson
hollywoodnews.com: Let us begin our look back at the year in film with a token acknowledgement of ten films whose reputations did not proceed them. For the record, not all of the films below are bad pictures. But they all generated critical and/or audience esteem that they perhaps did not entirely earn. There is nothing wrong with overpraising a good film. It often emanates from a hunger for quality that often causes we the critics to look at a merely solid and/or competent piece of cinema and hail it as a groundbreaking work of art. The following are in alphabetical order.

The Ghost Writer
The release of this film timed so conveniently with the arrest of director Roman Polanski that the reception of this film seemed to fall into two categories: ‘a triumphant thriller from a master artist’ and/or ‘the new movie by that kiddie-rapist’. Truth be told, the film is a well acted and genuinely old-fashioned would-be thriller. But far too much time is spent on the dull romance between Ewan McGregor and Olivia Williams, at the expense of Pierce Brosnan’s terrific turn as ‘not Tony Blair’. Furthermore, the climactic revelations are not bone-chilling, but rather silly and comforting. Like most conspiracy theories, it provided a more melodramatic and reassuring explanation behind the last ten years of British politics. Tony Blair wasn’t really deceived/tricked/cajoled into following George W. Bush down the post-9/11 rabbit hole, was he? No, there is a far more sinister explanation afoot… right? The ideas offered are far more comforting than the notion that maybe, just maybe, Tony Blair agreed with George W. Bush. If you want a great thriller with Pierce Brosnan, check out The Tailor of Panama.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire
So desperate were critics and feminist pundits for a female role beyond the standard tokenism that they grasped onto Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) and elevated her to icon status. They didn’t realize that, beyond the goth clothing, piercings, and funky hair, she was basically a variation of the ‘rape victim strikes back’ guest star in any given Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. And the plots for these two pictures (haven’t seen the finale yet) were straight out of a mediocre television procedural, with only the more blunt sexuality setting them apart from any episode of Without A Trace. That these films were embraced is yet more [...]

Ben Affleck contemplating L.A. “Gangster Squad” story?

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: In my review of “The Town,” I mentioned that after seeing Ben Affleck’s vision in both “Gone Baby Gone” and his most recent effort, I’d love to see the fledgling director do a handful of gritty crime thrillers set in and around his beloved Boston. Well, part of that might come true.
Warner Bros. reportedly has offered Affleck the chance to direct “Tales from the Gangster Squad,” the period story about off-duty cops legendary gangster Micky Cohen in the 1940s. But Cohen lorded over Los Angeles, not Beantown, so Affleck would have to shift coasts (and go retro, which he hasn’t done as a director, yet).
Vulture, which broke the story, says Cohen “started out as hired muscle for Al Capone in Chicago, but blossomed as a mogul after being sent to Los Angeles by Murder, Inc. kingpin Meyer Lansky to surveille Bugsy Siegel, who Cohen helped set up the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas and ran it’s sports betting operation.”
The “Gangster Squad” script is credited to former South Central L.A. cop Will Beall, who based his research on a series of articles by L.A. Times reporter Paul Lieberman. While the story seems to be in Affleck’s wheelhouse, it’s only one of a number of options on his plate. (No surprise, given the critical and – to date – commercial success of “The Town.”)
Vulture adds that in addition to “Gangster Squad,” Affleck is contemplating a television pilot for Showtime titled “Homeland,” and a potential reunion project with Matt Damon.
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“Wall Street 2″ is a genuine mainstream hit with $19 million

By Scott Mendelson
HollywoodNews.com: The funny thing about long-delayed sequels is that it’s generally pretty easy for them to top the opening weekends of their predecessors purely due to inflation. So while “Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps” is a genuine mainstream hit with $19 million on 3,565 screens ($5,330 per screen) over its debut weekend, it’s basically just double the figures as the original “Wall Street” posted back in 1987, despite opening with 5x the dollar amount. The original film opened with $4.3 million in 730 theaters ($5,622 per screen). Adjusted for relative inflation, that would give the original Oliver Stone cautionary tale around $10 million in 2010 dollars. But outside of its context from the 23-year old original film, this sequel performed well on its own accord.
It is Michael Douglas’s first number 1 opening since “Don’t Say A Word’s” $17 million debut almost nine years ago to the weekend, and it’s his second-biggest opening weekend ever, behind the $21 million opening of “You, Me, and Dupree.” For Shia LeBeouf, this almost qualifies as a relative comedown, as this is his lowest live-action opening weekend since “Holes” ($16 million) made him a recognizable name back in 2003. But when you work with Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay, a $19 million opening for an Oliver Stone drama almost feels like a letdown. This is actually Oliver Stone’s biggest Fri-Sun gross of his career, although final figures may put it below the $18.7 million debut of “World Trade Center.” Point being, while Oliver Stone may be known as a director who alternates between controversial battering rams and hard-leftist documentaries, when he makes a mainstream picture, audiences generally show up. The film pulled a 2.7x weekend multiplier, which actually counts as solid in these front-loaded days. The film apparently cost $60 million, so it will have to do decent worldwide coin as well to really make money for Fox, but the picture debuted with $9 million in overseas grosses as well, giving the film a solid $28 million worldwide gross in the first three days. Where it goes from here is an open question. Usually I’d say that a picture like this would be a second choice for general audiences for awhile, but Ben Affleck’s “The Town” seems to be filling that slot at the moment (more on that one later).
Coming in second place was the Zack Snyder animated action fable, “Legends of [...]

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