MCN Originals Archive for September, 2016

The DVD Wrapup: Blood Simple, Cat People, Shallows, Neon Demon, Sirk X 2, Warcraft, Kamikaze ’89 and more

Before Blood Simple hit the festival circuit in September, 1984, at Deauville and Toronto, it’s safe to say that Joel and Ethan Coen couldn’t get arrested in this town. On the advice of Sam Raimi, they knocked on doors in Los Angeles, New York, the Twin Cities and Austin, hats in hand, trying to interest someone, anyone in checking out their two-minute teaser for the film. It’s what filmmakers did in the days before Kickstarter. Any money they raised went straight to their headquarters in Texas, where a cinema community was in its infancy and a few dollars went a long way.

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Pride, Unprejudiced: DEKALOG, THE NEON DEMON, CITY OF GOLD

Made for Polish television for 1988 broadcast, the ten short films of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s glorious masterpiece, Dekalog, are loosely based on the ten commandments, loosely enough that the then-47-year-old filmmaker resisted identifying which installment was based on which commandment

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The Weekend Report

The Magnificent Seven prevailed as top choice in the marketplace with an estimated $34.8 million. The frame’s other national opener, the animated Storks, took second with $21.4 million. Limited and exclusive bows featured a toe-dipper for the African-set drama Queen of Katwe of $303,000 prior to next week’s national launch. The delayed release of Australia’s The Dressmaker arrived to a positive $183,000  at 36 shops. Its international gross has been around $23 million since its Down Under bow in November 2015.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Denzel looks to take back his month from Mr. Hanks, opening The Magnificent Seven to more than Sully on opening day. Storks doesn’t fly, unable to crack the $20 million barrier (perhaps because kids don’t really know about storks delivering babies anymore?). Nothing much in limited/exclusive, where the biggest titles will all be under $7k per-screen for the weekend.

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The DVD Wrapup: Free State of Jones, Beauty & Beast, Bettie Page, Pele and more

At 139 minutes, Gary Ross’s frequently exhilarating, sometimes grueling Free State of Jones dramatizes one of the most unlikely and virtually unknown – outside Mississippi, anyway – chapters in Civil War history. Unlike Django Unchained, 12 Years a Slave and the recent re-adaptation of “Roots,” viewers averse to sadistic violence and racial epithets weren’t required to gird their loins for what was to come.

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24 Weeks To Oscar: Lots of Festivals, Few Surprises

So… seven films got Best Picture nominations after festival launches last year… launched from seven different festivals.

In other words… there is no awards magic to any of these festivals (though they all have their own magic). What works is what works. Period. Exclamation point!

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The Weekend Report

Sully was redeemed again with a strong estimated hold of $21.7 million. The anticipated horse race with Blair Witch didn’t happen, with the ghoster a distant second with $9.6 million. Also disappointing among national releases was the $8.2 million bow of Bridget Jones’ Baby, while Snowden was on target, tracking at $7.9 million.

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Friday Box Office Estimates

Sully holds well but movie resurrections don’t come close, as Blair Witch and the Bridget Jones don’t crash, but don’t get to their destinations. Another familiar name, Snowden, came with lower expectations and could float higher in weeks to come.

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The DVD Weekend: Popstar, Civil War, Bigger Splash, King Jack, Standing Tall, Marguerite, Marauders, Tower Records, Vaxxed, Raising Cain and more

It’s possible that Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer — collectively known as Lonely Island – wrote their occasionally very funny music mockumentary, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, thinking it could re-create the commercial, critical and pop-cultural success accorded This Is Spinal Tap. If so, they probably should have set their sights on someone less prone to self-parody than the ever-ridiculous Justin Bieber, who is more worthy of a three-minute sketch on “Saturday Night Live.” The great thing about Rob Reiner’s 1984 comedy was that viewers couldn’t always be sure when the band was making fun of heavy metal music, the musicians themselves, their fans or the industry. They still can’t. It isn’t unusual to hear a cut from Spinal Tap’s fictional “Smell the Glove” album on SiriusXM’s Underground Garage channel, played alongside the Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop, the Ramones and Patti Smith. Any memory of the songs on the Popstar soundtrack vaporizes within minutes of hearing them.

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Toronto Review: LA LA LAND

When a movie like La La Land is so buzzed about, even lauded, it can feel as you’re trying to write a review, you’re only chiming in, rather than saying anything fresh or interesting. “It’s a Best Picture racehorse,” you’ll read; “It’s a prizewinner in any regard,” handicappers agree; “It’s an astounding, fantastic, emotionally overwhelming American m-o-v-i-e movie,” your musically-inclined movigeoing friends (or parents) will sing. It’s great. It’s grand. I loved it. You will too.

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Pride, Unprejudiced: The Fits, DePalma

Oh glorious subjectivity. Motion and emotion trounce text in The Fits, debut writer-director-producer Anna Rose Holmer’s patient, powerful, dreamy debut feature. Center frame is a young wonder named Royalty Hightower as an alienated eleven-year-old tomboy named Toni, who strives to become one of The Lionesses, a dance team in the West End of Cincinnati. Repetition, routine, formation.

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Confessions Of A Film Festival Junkie – Part 3

Toronto is one of the fastest growing cities in North America, increasing population by 200,000 a year on average in the past decade with no sign of letting up. The downtown core can’t cope with mounting traffic and new subway routes to alleviate congestio are unlikely. And for locals and visitors alike, it was tougher because six blocks of King Street West (where the TIFF Lightbox sits) were turned into a pedestrian mall with food trucks, vendors, live concerts and teeming crowds. They’ve been doing it for at least three years and there’s no question it adds to the general festival experience.

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Toronto Review: Arrival

With Arrival, director Denis Villeneuve has realized a beautiful, life-affirming piece of science fiction as visually strong as it is thematically layered, featuring astonishing performances and knockout sound design to carry it through the upcoming season. Any qualms about the Québécois-turned-international director’s Blade Runner sequel can be dismissed.

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Weekend Estimates

Sully soars while Sony’s low-budget entries impress at slots two and three.

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Friday Estimates

Sully takes flight with a Friday fare of $12.1 million; When The Bough Breaks swings $5.1 million and Don’t Breathe‘s cume surpasses $61 million.

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Toronto Review: Nocturnal Animals

Nocturnal Animals, the second feature from fashion designer-turned-director from Tom Ford, opens with individual shots of four nude women, each in the rawest of slow-motion, as they twirl and dance for the camera. The corpulent body types of these women are atypical for this style of burlesque, making their exposed skin and innumerable imperfections commentary for artist Susan Morrow (Amy Adams), a woman depressed in her second marriage to Hutton Marrow (Armie Hammer).

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Confessions Of A Film Festival Junkie: Day Two

The Toronto International Film Festival opening day announcement was all about the escalators not working at the Scotiabank Theaters. Film festivals are not all about the art of cinema. The Scotiabank complex, has 18 screens. The climb is the equivalent of four flights and the grade is as severe as the London Undergroun’sd. I wondered why they simply didn’t reverse the working escalator and discovered they couldn’t because the “up” escalator operates on two motors and the “down” only has a single motor. Even if this is resolved overnight, it still has to be approved by a city inspector and I’m told there’s an epidemic of broken escalators in the city.

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The DVD Wrapup: Now You See Me, Bodyguard, Tale of Tales, Equals, Genius, Hockney, Lamb, Night Manager, South Park and more

An audience’s communal willingness to suspend disbelief while watching an illusionist perform live is a far more entertaining exercise than suspending disbelief in the service of a large-budget, effects-dependent movie, if only because a trick might occasionally go haywire or a normally docile tiger could unexpectedly attack its handler. We exist at a time in cinematic history when blunders and missteps are freely shown during the closing credits of a feature or as part of a DVD’s bonus package. The industry’s dependency on green screen and CGI technology, to achieve economic and creative goals, has become so commonplace that it’s possible to long for the days when stuntmen made us believe that A-list stars routinely risked everything to make us laugh, cry or tingle with excitement. The conceit behind Now You See Me and Now You See Me 2 requires us to accept the unlikely, if thoroughly appealing premise that a quartet of superstar magicians could combines their individual talents to play Robin Hood or save the world from powerful forces beyond our control.

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Confessions of A Film Festival Junkie: Toronto Day One

I’ve attended the Toronto International Film Festival since when it was still called The Festival of Festivals, a moniker discarded in 1994. There have other changes across the years, of course. It’s been a long time since TIFF could be shorthanded as a “plucky” or “upstart” festival.

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Pride, Unprejudiced: LOVE & FRIENDSHIP, MONEY MONSTER

Stillman’s fleshing-out of “Lady Susan,” Jane Austen’s unfinished, epistolary first novel, is an onrushing delight, captured in bright and creamy light, with which he quickly confesses minor disappointment—a sound cue, fluffed timing on a joke—but the film is as straightforward in its reliance on the spoken word as a contemporary series like “Love,” or more to point, his keenly observed, neatly structured, dialogue-furnished three early features, “Metropolitan” (1990), “Barcelona” (1994) and “Last Days Of Disco” (1998).

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MCN Originals

Quote Unquotesee all »

“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
James Gray

“I’m an unusual producer because I control the destiny of a lot of the films I’ve done. Most of them are in perfect states of restoration and preservation and distribution, and I aim to keep them in distribution. HanWay Films, which is my sales company, has a 500-film catalogue, which is looked after and tended like a garden. I’m still looking after my films in the catalogue and trying to get other people to look after their films, which we represent intellectually, to try to keep them alive. A film has to be run through a projector to be alive, unfortunately, and those electric shadows are few and far between now. It’s very hard to go and see films in a movie house. I was always involved with the sales and marketing of my films, right up from The Shout onwards. I’ve had good periods, but I also had a best period because the film business was in its best period then. You couldn’t make The Last Emperor today. You couldn’t make The Sheltering Sky today. You couldn’t make those films anymore as independent films. There are neither the resources nor the vision within the studios to go to them and say, “I want to make a film about China with no stars in it.”Then, twenty years ago, I thought, “OK, I’m going to sell my own films but I don’t want to make it my own sales company.” I wanted it to be for me but I wanted to make it open for every other producer, so they don’t feel that they make a film but I get the focus. So, it’s a company that is my business and I’m involved with running it in a certain way, but I’m not seen as a competitor with other people that use it. It’s used by lots of different producers apart from me. When I want to use it, however, it’s there for me and I suppose I’m planning to continue making all my films to be sold by HanWay. I don’t have to, but I do because it’s in my building and the marketing’s here, and I can do it like that. Often, it sounds like I’m being easy about things, but it’s much more difficult than it sounds. It’s just that I’ve been at it for a long time and there’s lots of fat and security around my business. I know how to make films, but it’s not easy—it’s become a very exacting life.”
~ Producer Jeremy Thomas