August 2014 - Posts

Specialty Box Office: 'Cantinflas' Another Big Hit For Pantelion; 'Chef' Ends Summer By Hitting $30 Million

The 2014 summer indie box office ended off... much like the 2013 summer indie box office did. With a seemingly out-of-nowhere Mexican import from Pantelion and Lionsgate winning over audiences and giving us one of the most impressive limited debuts of the season.   A full report (and note that all numbers reflect the 3-day weekend as of Sunday afternoon, and that some films -- notably "Boyhood" and "The Trip To Italy" -- have yet to report): The Debuts: Debut Winner of the Weekend:  "Cantinflas" Exactly a year after "Instructions Not Included" began its impressive journey to a $44 million gross, proving what the remarkably underserved market for Spanish language films in America, the same folks behind that film have released "Cantinflas," a bio-drama about the late (and hugely popular) Mexican actor. Did lightning strike again? Not quite in the same tall order, but "Cantinflas" definitely impressed...
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Review: Why 'Birdman' is the First Modern Showbiz Satire

During one lively scene in Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu's unclassifiably nutty showbiz satire "Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)," someone labels a dangerous form of theatrical performance "super-realism," which is the best word to explain the attraction of this utterly unpredictable movie. Starring Michael Keaton as an aging actor attempting to reclaim his flagging celebrity (sound familiar?), Iñarritu's screenplay and restless formalism at once convey aspects of real life and depart from them in dramatic fashion. Predominantly shot in a simulated long-take set at the Broadway theater where Keaton's character attempts to stage a new play, "Birdman" creates the illusion that it takes place in real time. But with its relentless pace and bizarre circumstances, it hovers in an off-kilter state, leaving open the suggestion that the entire thing may take place within its protagonist's head. Considering that he's got a lot on his...
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The Indiewire 2014 Fall Preview: The 18 Films We've Already Seen That You Need To

"A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night" (November)Any movie that's pegged as an Iranian vampire western is one to consider, but "A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night" also happens to be really good film. The movie, from first-time feature director Ana Lily Amirpour, takes place in a rather desolate Iranian town, a place haunted by a sleazy drug dealer, a James Dean wannabe and our teenage vampire anti-heroine. It's difficult to go into details, but "A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night," which premiered in the NEXT section at this year's Sundance Film Festival, is a tense, often funny, but ultimately poignant film that revisions every genre we think we are familiar with.  "Dear White People" (October 17)At this year's Sundance Film Festival, Justin Simien's hilarious and provocative debut "Dear White People" was a breath of fresh air that lived up to its early promise as a zeitgeist comedy tailor made to appeal to Obama's...
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Telluride Review: Josh Hutcherson Flees Menacing Benicio Del Toro in Solid B-Movie 'Escobar: Paradise Lost'

The legacy of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, who reached the height of his cocaine-smuggling power in the eighties running a multimillion dollar cartel operation, is obvious fodder for the movies. Though Escobar surrendered to authorities in 1991, escaped a year later and was killed in a firefight shortly afterward, his luxurious career provides many access points, as demonstrated by the recent spate of Escobar projects: In addition to a 2012 Colombian mini-series, contemporary efforts to explore Escobar's life include the upcoming production of the black list screenplay "The Ballad of Pablo Escobar," starring John Leguizamo in the title role, and the tense, well-acted "Escobar: Paradise Lost," which features Benicio Del Toro. The latter movie, the directorial debut of Italian director Andrea Di Stefano, confronts the challenge of representing Escobar's legacy in a unique fashion — by making him a supporting character.  Which is not to say that Del...
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Watch: Emma Thompson and Pierce Brosnan are Divorcées Turned Crime Capers in New 'Love Punch' Clips

In writer-director Joel Hopkins' British heist comedy, "The Love Punch," Emma Thompson and Pierce Brosnan team up on screen for the first time as bickering divorcees Kate and Richard Jones. When the snarky ex-lovers lose their retirement pension at the hands of a French financier, they reluctantly join forces and travel to the beautiful Cote d'Azur with a plan to steal said financier's $10 million diamond. Given that both actors excel at creating attitudinal characters, hilarity immediately ensues when their personalities clash. [Editor's Note: This post is presented in partnership with Time Warner Cable Movies On Demand in support of Indie Film Month. Today's pick is "The Love Punch," which you can catch On Demand.] Combining visual and verbal comedy, which Thompson is quite the pro at as seen below, these clips offer up a sneak peak at how bumbling these novice capers are as they stage an elaborate heist with a gigantic reward. While the film...
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Review: 'Doctor Who' Season 8 Episode 2, 'Into the Dalek,' Lets Peter Capaldi Show Off Some Darkness

Officially, the plot is simple -- a Dalek malfunctions and develops a moral code, and the obvious solution is to re-enact the 1987 cult hit "Innerspace." “The most dangerous place in the universe," we're told, although I think the people on the outside of the Dalek would disagree. Cue lots of eerie lighting, croaks of "Exterminate!" and a chance for the Doctor to scoff at soldiers. Really this is a chance for Peter Capaldi, somewhat wasted in his first proper appearance, to shine. Ever since the show came back in 2005, it's flirted with a darker Doctor -- Eccleston's excellent performance in "Dalek," Tennant's personal apotheosis in "The Waters of Mars," "The man who can turn an army around at the mention of his name" in "A Good Man Goes to War." Now it seems that they're actually delivering. READ MORE: Review: 'Doctor Who' Season 8 Episode 1, 'Deep Breath,' Doesn't Let Peter Capaldi Exhale We're treated to the...
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Telluride Review: Ethan Hawke Discovers a Brilliant Mind in 'Seymour: An Introduction'

Ethan Hawke's career is distinguished by contemplative roles, notably the ones associated with Richard Linklater, though in his limited output as a director — the two narrative dramas "Chelsea Walls" and "The Hottest State" — he hasn't found the same degree of perceptive material. But that has changed with his endearing documentary "Seymour: An Introduction," a sweetly affecting portrait of creative genius existing outside of marketplace concerns that may as well serve as the actor's mission statement. Though the title echoes J.D. Salinger's 1959 novella, "Seymour" has nothing to do with its namesake aside from both works being rich with contemplation. Hawke focuses on little-known concert pianist Seymour Bernstein, an octogenarian music instructor who lives alone in Manhattan's Upper West Side. Once considered among the next generation of great concert pianists alongside contemporaries like Glenn Gould, Bernstein garnered raves for his...
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How Was The Screening? Indiewire's Real-Time Oscar Odds

Oscar season is a fragile time. As each hotly anticipated film makes its festival debut, it has the power to immediately shift the awards season trajectory. Last year, when "12 Years a Slave" cropped up as a surprise Telluride entry, the first screening's rapturous response instantly changed its status from intriguing period drama to leading best-picture contender. Another 2013 Telluride entry, Jason Reitman's "Labor Day," suffered the opposite fate, facing mixed-to-negative reactions and quickly faded from the race. What follows is our attempt to codify the first moments in an awards-contenders lives, in which we address: How was the screening? Our critics and editors will report on the response to these films' earliest debuts, when anticpation meets reality, describing everything from the crowd's response to the immediate chatter outside the screening -- and of course on the occasional outliers such as malfunctioning projectors or lunatic Q&A...
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Amazon Season 3 Pilots Ranked Best to Worst: Whit Stillman & Steven Soderbergh Compete for Your Votes

While still trying to find their consensus breakout hit -- could it be "Transparent," set to debut in September, or perhaps "Bosch," expected in 2015? -- Amazon is pushing forward with its next pilot season. Five new episodes from five separate seasons were released to the public Thursday morning, and it's up to us, the viewers, to rate them so that Amazon executives can decide what to send to series and what to nix altogether. We at Indiewire have watched them already to help you narrow down your choices. Take a look at your options below, and then check them out for yourself right here.  "Hand of God"Here's the truth of the matter: Watching "Hand of God" is a near-religious experience for television fans -- because it'll make you believe in the power of a great, great cast.  The premise for the series, created by Ben Watkins and directed by Marc Forster, might be described as convoluted -- crooked, philandering judge Pernell Harris...
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Telluride Review: Benedict Cumberbatch Carries Uneven WWII Drama 'The Imitation Game'

The movies love to remind us that brilliant minds are often the most tortured. Far be it from Morten Tyldum to suggest any differently in "The Imitation Game," a World War II procedural detailing the efforts of cryptanalyst Alan Turing and his mathematically-inclined underlings to decrypt the ***' famed Enigma machine and turn the tides in England's favor. There's more than one way to become a wartime casualty, however, and their secret office is its own sort of front line. As played by Benedict Cumberbatch, Turing is a genius in the "The Social Network" and "A Beautiful Mind" mold: brilliant but utterly lacking interpersonal skills, with an added dash of Drax the Destroyer's literal-minded humorlessness. Perpetually stone-faced, he's frequently lost in thought at the expense of those trying to reach him on even the most basic level; it's to the movie’s credit that there's no hokey attempt at visualizing his brilliance via superimposed swirls and...
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Telluride Review: Nick Broomfield's Powerful 'Tales of the Grim Sleeper' Puts a Serial Killer in Unique Light

British documentarian Nick Broomfield is a frequent presence in his projects, which is often distracting when he has nothing to do with them. In "Tales of the Grim Sleeper," however, the ebullient investigative filmmaker recedes to the background and lets his furious subjects lead the way. Though Broomfield remains visible throughout the movie, he's mainly there to help frame a series of dour circumstances that have been long stuck in a murky state. He's a capable guide, but with the right pieces in place, lets the material speak for itself. Broomfield's subject, the eponymous Grim Sleeper, was a serial killer responsible for murdering upwards of 100 black women over the course of 25 years in South Los Angeles. The saga allegedly came to a close four years ago, when police arrested middle-aged South Central resident Lonnie Franklin, whose case has yet to come trial. Rather than contesting Franklin's culpability, Broomfield scrutinizes a much bigger picture buried in...
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Vote for Project of the Week: Will It Be 'Power of Love,' 'Song the Zombie Sang,' 'Florence' or 'Kitty's 9 Lives'?

The winning filmmaker will receive a digital distribution consultation from SnagFilms and will become a candidate for Project of the Month. That winner will be awarded with a creative consultation from the fine folks at the Tribeca Film Institute! Below are the films up for the prize. 'The Power of Glove' 'The Song the Zombie Sang' 'Florence' 'Kitty's 9 Lives'Voting will end Tuesday, September 2 at 10 AM Eastern. Which">http://polldaddy.com/poll/8276383/">Which project do you most want to see?
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Review: ‘The Two Faces of January,’ Starring Oscar Isaac and Viggo Mortensen, Is Not Your Typical Patricia Highsmith Adaptation

[Editor's Note: This post is presented in partnership with Time Warner Cable Movies On Demand in support of Indie Film Month. Today's pick is "The Two Faces of January," which you can watch On Demand. This article was originally published during the 2014 Berlin Film Festival, where the film world premiered.] Patricia Highsmith's novels have provided fodder for more than two dozen film adaptations, a pantheon that now includes "The Two Faces of January." This 1964 suspense thriller has been memorably realized by writer-director Hossein Amini with an eye for film noir tropes. While it won't knock Anthony Minghella's "The Talented Mr. Ripley" from its pedestal, Amini's directorial debut is a quiet and graceful achievement that suffers from a number of shortcomings but still works on its own terms.

 Set in Athens, the story revolves around Rydal (Oscar Isaac), a handsome American expat living in Greece who's acting as a tour guide for a...
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Venice Review: Al Pacino Excels in Barry Levinson's Otherwise Troubled 'The Humbling'

In Al Pacino's 1996 directorial debut "Looking for Richard," Pacino (playing himself) adapted Shakespeare's "Richard III" by having actors perform snippets of the play, showing rehearsals of scenes and interviewing people on the street about the story. The search for the essence of the royal character was used a means to discuss the craft of acting. It's main accomplishment was that it avoided being pretentious. Given this directorial effort, and his penchant as an actor to jump from stage to screen seemingly at will, it's unsurprising that the actor snapped up the rights to Philip Roth's penultimate novel, "The Humbling": First published in 2009, it's about a sexagenarian actor who realizes he's lost his mojo after getting panned for his recent performances. Sound familiar? Having coaxed Pacino out of his career slumber in 2010 with HBO movie "You Don't Know Jack," director Barry Levinson once again gets the actor to give a performance that...
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Venice Review: South Korea Gets a Firm Critique (As Does the World) in Kim Ki-Duk's 'One on One'

In 2012, Kim Ki-Duk picked up the top prize at the Venice Film Festival for "Pieta," a brutal story of rape and redemption. Last year he landed on the Lido with the dialogue-free "Moebius," a film more commonly referred to as "that castration movie." His new film, "One on One," seems mild by comparison, even though the pre-credit sequence features a schoolgirl getting abducted and killed by a group of unidentified strangers. The ensuing murder-revenge thriller is still not for the faint-hearted, but this time out the South Korean director seems more interested in giving a state of the nation address rather than adding to his repertoire of shocking scenes. After the credits roll we meet Oh-hyun (Kim Young-min, the young monk from Kim's 2003 Venice entry "Spring Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring"). He’s out on a date with a girl, who jokes that despite their numerous recent sorties she still has no idea what his job is. Is he some kind...
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