Indie releases tend to thrive during the months when the multiplexes get dumber — in other words, every month until October, when big studios start putting their muscle behind intelligent Oscar contenders and act like that’s the kind of stuff they’re turning out all year. Point is, our indie preview is a little thinner than usual this month, since quieter movies are basically gunning for the same audiences as your Zero Dark Thirtys and Life of Pis and so on, but there are a few small releases worth tracking down. We’ll run them down for you after the jump. … Read More
West Memphis Three
1. Conservative web publisher and talking head Andrew Breitbart passed away last night at UCLA Medical Center from natural causes. He was 43 years old. “We have lost a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a dear friend, a patriot and a happy warrior,” reads a post on his website. “Andrew lived boldly, so… Read More
Tomorrow marks the opening day of the Sundance Film Festival, the annual winter movie orgy/buyer’s market/excuse to party for those who make, buy, watch, and act in independent films (or what passes for independent, in this IMAX 3-D superhero climate). Your humble film editor is traveling to Park City (for the first time) to take it all in: the swag, the hobnobbing, the VIP parties. Or he may just end up going to movies all day and staying up all night writing stuff about them. That’s probably a bit more likely.
Taking on the screening schedule is a bit daunting; the festival is screening 110 feature-length films from 31 countries, and, well, there’s only so many hours in the day. (If you think that’s heavy, it’s worth noting that the number of submissions was up to 4,042 films. Yikes.) But I think I’ve plucked out the cream of the crop; I’ll probably find out that I’m wrong, that the movie I missed to see the Sean-Penn-as-an-emo-Nazi-hunter movie (yes, that’s real) ends up winning the competition and getting picked up for $5 million by the Weinstein Company. But until that happens, here’s the ten Sundance films I’m most looking forward to. … Read More
We look forward to seeing how Canadian auteur Atom Egoyan handles the West Memphis Three story that’s being adapted from investigative reporter Mara Leveritt’s book The Devil’s Knot. The thoughtful and daring director who wrapped up Chloe in 2009 has cast Legally Blonde actress Reese Witherspoon in his upcoming drama as… Read More
1. Madonna has finally confirmed rumors that she’ll play the halftime show at Super Bowl XLVI on February 5. Her set will be created by a team from Cirque du Soleil, and it’s expected that she’ll be performing some new material from her forthcoming album. [via Rolling Stone]
2. Peter Jackson‘s production company… Read More
Last night, Current TV wrapped up “50 Documentaries to See Before You Die,” a month-long countdown series summarizing the best of non-fiction cinema. And our sympathies go out to the folks at Current, because as we well know, any time you put together a “best of” anything list, you’re going to get second-guessed from here to kingdom come. But let’s face it: there are some absolutely puzzling exclusions. No Grey Gardens? Gimme Shelter? Hearts of Darkness? Gates of Heaven? Woodstock? The oldest titles on the list are The Thin Blue Line and The Decline of Western Cilvilization Part II: The Metal Years — golden oldies from 1988. We liked Catfish fine, but is there anyone on this earth who thinks it’s a better doc than Salesman? Who thinks Shut Up & Sing tops Don’t Look Back? Who finds Food, Inc. more vital than Titicut Follies?
And don’t even get us started on the fact that Dear Zachary isn’t on there.
But let’s put those complaints aside, because a list like this ultimately does more good than harm — any time a cable network can shine a light on great documentary films, we’re all for it, and these are (almost) all genuinely great documentaries. Where we really disagree is in the ranking — they picked the right movies (post-’88, anyway), but they’ve got them in the wrong order. Super Size Me at #5? Seriously? (Yes, yes, of course it’s just a coincidence that the show is hosted by Super Size Me director Morgan Spurlock.) So we’ve taken the 50 titles Current compiled and reorganized then into own top 10, with the reasons why, after the jump. … Read More
Yesterday, HBO Films announced plans for the upcoming movie The Day the Laughter Stopped, based on the true story of Fatty Arbuckle, the wildly popular silent movie comic (second only to Chaplin) whose career was brought to a screeching halt when he was falsely accused of raping and murdering a starlet named Virginia Rappe at a Labor Day party in 1921. Though he was ultimately acquitted of the crime, Arbuckle’s reputation was ruined forever, and in the wake of the scandal, Hollywood studios cracked down on both on-screen sex and the off-screen lives of their stars.
Good movie material, yeah? We’ve thought so for years, and look forward to seeing what John Adams writer Kirk Ellis, You Don’t Know Jack director Barry Levinson, and Modern Family star Eric Stonestreet (we’d always seen Oliver Platt in the role, but that’s neither here nor there) come up with. Meanwhile, the recent, surprise release of the West Memphis Three has provided filmmaker Atom Egoyan with an unexpectedly upbeat ending to his already-in-the-works WM3 film. Both of these tidbits got us thinking about some of the real lives we’d like to see get the biopic treatment. Check out our picks after the jump, and add your own in the comments. … Read More