Posts Tagged ‘James Franco’

The Great SXSW 2010 Preview Dump: Spotlight Premieres, Part 2

March 10, 2010

The film fiend stalking the streets of Austin has many questions. How does an episode of Saturday Night Live come together? How can I blast off into space? Was Thomas Wolfe right when he said you can’t go home again? What does Lemmy’s carpet smell like? Unlike anybody outside Austin City Limits from March 12 to March 20, the fiend has the answers within reach. They’re among the topics tackled head-on a series of features and documentaries getting their premiere at the SXSW Film Festival this year.

Read our SXSW Film Festival: Headliners preview here.
Read our SXSW Film Festival: Spotlight Premieres, Part 1 preview here.

Leaves of Grass

At long last, this adaptation of Walt Whitman’s … [please read the IMDB synopses you’re meant to be ripping off first – Ed.] Oh. Ed Norton follows in the footsteps of Jeremy Irons, Christian Bale and Nicholas Cage, playing identical twins in a thriller written and directed by Tim Blake Nelson (O). Keri Russell and Melanie Lynskey are the lovelies who we hope get into the bed with the right Ed.

Lebanon, Pa.

The Pennsylvania town inspired the Sherlock Holmes mystery “The Red-headed League” and is the home of some legendary bologna. But it takes a funeral to lure big city ad executive Josh Hopkins (Cougar Town) back to his hometown. There he bonds with his teenage cousin and has the plastic scales lifted from his bourgeois eyes in writer-director Ben Hickernell’s film. With Mary Beth Hurt.

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Berlin 2010: And the Winners Are …

February 20, 2010

After two weeks of films and wurst, the bears were let free. The Berlin jury, headed by perambulator extraordinaire Werner Herzog, gave its top prize of the Golden Bear to Semih Kaplanoglu’s Bal (Honey). The Turkish film mined a favorite theme of the festivals–fathers and sons–in its story of a young boy who goes into the woods to find his beekeeper dad. Bal also snagged the Ecumenical Jury Prize. Roman Polanski won the best director Bear for The Ghost Writer. Regardless of what anybody thought of the thriller’s merits, he was a clear sentimental favorite.

Other notable winners include the Romanian prison drama Eu Cand Vreau Sa Fluier, Fluier (If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle), which won the Silver Bear and Alfred Bauer Prize. Sight & Sound‘s Nick James damned the film with faint praise, saying the “well-regarded, -made and -acted” film was marred by a “predictable storyline.” Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right went from Sundance to Berlin acclaim and was named the best film by the Ted Queer Film Awards. Winning two prizes for acting and cinematography was Kak Ya Provel Etim Letom, the new film from Road to Koktebel director Alexei Popogrebsky. It’s a two-hander set in an isolated Arctic station. Mohamed al-Daradji’s Iraqi odyssey Son of Babylon also won a pair of prizes.

Lucy Walker’s documentary Waste Land, about an artist finding inspiration in the scrapheaps of Brazil, won the Panorama Audience Award and the Amnesty International Prize. It was also a good week for James Franco, whose short film The Feast of Steven won the Best Short Film Teddy Queer Film Award (phew!). Derived from an NYU course, the five-minute film adapts a poem by Anthony Hecht. The complete list of winners continues after the jump. Click on the titles for more info and to watch trailers.

Golden Bear: Bal (Honey) (Semih Kaplanoglu)
Silver Bear – The Jury Grand Prize: Eu Cand Vreau Sa Fluier, Fluier (If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle) (Florin Serban)
Silver Bear – Best Director: Roman Polanski for The Ghost Writer
Silver Bear – Best Actress: Shinobu Terajima in Caterpillar
Silver Bear – Best Actor (shared): Grigori Dobrygin and Sergei Puskepalis in Kak Ya Provel Etim Letom (How I Ended This Summer)
Silver Bear – Best Screenplay: Tuan Yuan (Apart Together), written by Wang Quan’an and Na Jin
Silver Bear – Artistic Contribution: Kak Ya Provel Etim Letom (How I Ended This Summer), cinematography by Pavel Kostomarov (Russia)
Alfred Bauer Prize: Eu Cand Vreau Sa Fluier, Fluier (If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle) (Florin Serban)
Best First Feature Award: Sebbe (Babak Najafi)

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Berlin 2010 Preview: Competition, Part 1

February 3, 2010

The Berlin Film Festival is often overshadowed by Cannes Film Festival as it’s very difficult to dock a yacht in Berlin. It’s endured for 60 years, though, as an early warning system for the best of the year’s international art house fare. The Competition strand features those films vying for the Golden Bear, which in past years has gone to Jose Padilha’s The Elite Squad and Claudia Llosa’s The Milk of Sorrow. The field’s first half features Japanese war stories, the making of one of the worst films ever made, criminals old and young and the returns of Polanski, Baumbach and Popogrebsky.

Bal (Honey)

Turkish director Semih Kaplanoglu’s fifth film is a father/son story set in the remote mountains. Young Yusuf is ostracized at school for his stammer, but worships his beekeeper dad, who tends to a network of precarious treetop hives. When his father is called away on business, Yusuf follows him into the forest.

Kyatapira (Caterpillar)

Lieutenant Kurokawa returns from the front of the second Sino-Japanese War. He’s had his arms and legs blown off. Shigeko is expected to dutifully attend to her immobile war hero husband. Director Koji Wakamatsu’s previous film, the acclaimed United Red Army, still awaits release in the U.S. Based on the story by Edogawa Rampo, which was censored by the Japanese authorities in 1939.

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Sundance 2010 Preview: U.S. Dramatic Competition

January 11, 2010

Here’s where the Sundance faithful really sit up and pay attention. They might even turn their cellphones off in the screening room. It’s where Steven Soderbergh first came to prominence, where Kevin Smith transcended his obesity and where Quentin Tarantino revived the fortunes of Stealer’s Wheel. Can we expect similar breakouts this year? Well, the most common theme are misfits coming together and falling apart. So that’ll be Joseph Gordon-Levitt at rock bottom and a bereaved teenager, James Gandolfini trying to make Kristen Stewart the daughter he never had, and a librarian and a film projectionist heading out to Greed country. If most of these movies are playing it cool in scrutinizing togetherness, though, they boast some red-hot talent. Read on ..

Click here to read our U.S. Documentary Competition Preview
Click here to read our International Documentary Competition Preview
Click here to read our International Dramatic Competition Preview

Blue Valentine

Who’s in it? Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams
What happens? On the verge of splitting, a couple head to a theme hotel to spice up their marriage. The film cuts between the present and a past courtship, when the pair were filled with hope about the future.
Why we like it: Ryan Gosling earned our undying devotion with Half Nelson. Michelle Williams came into her own last year with Wendy & Lucy. Let’s see some fireworks!

Douchebag

Who’s in it? Andrew Dickler, Ben York Jones, Marguerite Moreau
I said, who’s in it? Well, you’re only going to know Dickler if you carefully scrutinize the Borat credits for the editing department. That’s what makes Sundance so AWESOME! Independent film, baby!
So what happens? When his estranged brother becomes obsessed with finding his fifth grade sweetheart, Sam Nussbaum (Dickler) agrees to ditch his upcoming wedding and tag along. The fractitious road trip allows everybody’s favorite d-bag meme to be explored in detail.
Why we like it: Because after watching all those Iraqi War documentaries, we’re going to need a few mumblecore-style titters.

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The Slate: Tina Fey’s Date Gets Complicated

April 15, 2009

tina-fey

  • Get another tray! Film geeks have three more reasons to salivate. After getting the news that comic sexpots Tina Fey and Steve Carell were going to make like Willis and Basinger in Date Night comes news that Mark “Good Vibrations” Wahlberg, comic queen Kristin Wiig and SquallyShowers.com poster boy James Franco will be holding up the supporting end. They’ll be among the faces turning Fey and Carell’s big night out into a romantic disaster akin to After Hours. Director Shawn Levy (uh, Pink Panther) said he wanted “formidable actors.” We think he meant “Top Internet crushes.” (Variety)
  • Nanny McPhee was good and all, but did it really merit a sequel? Perhaps when you can promise to get Emma Thompson, Rhys Ifans and Maggie Smith in front of the camera it does. Added sweetener will come in the form of Maggie Gyllenhaal, who has joined the cast of Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, thus entering the “I’ve had kids, now it’s time to make movies for them” phase of her career. This time the magical nanny who is not Mary Poppins masterminds an evacuation during the London blitz. Sounds cheery. (Variety)
  • The big screen version of Eat Pray Love–a kind of Into the Wild but with more scented candles and less rotting moose–is finding some quirk to put around star Julia Roberts. Richard Jenkins will play a Texan that Roberts’ character meets at an Indian ashram. Smeared in his own feces. Well, maybe not. But he’s digging the spirituality. The Elizabeth Gilbert novel is being brought to the screen by Ryan Murphy, creator of Nip/Tuck. (Variety)
  • Can some Enchanted magic rub off on Forgetting Sarah Marshall‘s Kristen Bell? Kristen Bell sure hopes so. She’s signed up for the Disney comedy You Again. She’ll play a tiny-eyed woman whose glazed look becomes more frozen after she learns that her brother is marrying a hated frenemy from the past. So that’s no songs or fairy magic. Which means Disney is making our lede look pretty spurious. Andy Fickman (Race to Witch Mountain) directs. (Hollywood Reporter)
  • There is something beautiful about a world where a Frank Wedekind play from 1891 can become a McG film. Of course, Spring Awakening had to get some songs first. The Terminator: Salvation director has attached his name to the Tony award-winning musical about Teutonic love and wanking, but mostly wanking. No studio wants to touch the idea yet. Needless to say, this should make for one helluva casting call. (Hollywood Reporter)

Gus Van Sant Gets on the Bus

April 13, 2009

electric-kool-aid-acid-testTime Out New York‘s breezy Frame-Up breaks the news that Gus Van Sant will direct the movie of Tom Wolfe‘s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Alas, the story of how the blog found out is about as convoluted as the Sargossa Manuscript. It apparently involves a Tweet about a Tweet from Gus Van Sant. Van Sant had no sooner written that he was directing the movie, when his Tweet disappeared into the cybernetic void. This also describes several acid tests we’ve enjoyed in the past.

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Codpiece for Mr. Franco!

April 1, 2009

james-francoHere’s what everyone learned from Pineapple Express:

Now the last three are trying to make the magic happen again. (Rogen has other priorities.) Variety reports that Franco, Green and McBride will be three for the comedy Your Highness. Taking a tip from Year One‘s tilt at the history books, the comedy is about a pair of spoiled princes who must rescue their father and a fiance from the clutches of an evil wizard. The bratty royals’ quest through the land of yore lead to pageantry and the inevitable medieval hijinks. The script was penned by McBride and Ben Best, who worked together on Foot Fist Way.

We know that Rogen and Franco have enough chemistry together to set up their own meth lab. But can Saul and Red cook up a potion of strong stuff in the Dark Ages’ black cauldron? One thing’s for certain: this fairy-tale kingdom should be nice and green. The production is due to begin in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in July. In the meantime, this Highness needs a princess bride, a wizard, and plenty of stockings. Maybe even a codpiece. Who would you like to see buckle Franco’s swash?