Archive for January, 2010

Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s Upcoming Projects

January 30, 2010 Leave a comment

philip_seymour_hoffman_image.jpgCooper’s Town Productions, topped by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Emily Ziff, is developing a handful of projects, including The Well, set to star veterans Guy Pearce and Mary-Louise Parker, and the Hoffman-starrer Mr. Crumpacker and the Man From the Letter, according to Variety. The announcement was made during Hoffman and Ziff’s time promoting Jack Goes Boating at Sundance.

The Well, a psychological thriller, will be the debut for writer and director Tim Guinee. He is best known for appearing in a ridiculous amount of television series for a few episodes and a number of feature films, including the Sundance film Cyrus. The film “revolves around a well-to-do Manhattan couple whose obsessive pursuit of salvation ultimately leads to destruction.”

For the full descriptions of the comedy Mr. Crumpacker, an untitled film based on racial tensions in sports in the 1960s, and a movie about a husband and father in Brooklyn that builds a farm out of his urban backyard, hit the jump.

Mr. Crumpacker and the Man From the Letter is a comedy by Kazuo Ohno (not to be confused with the 103-year-old dancer). Hoffman and Ohno had filmed two shorts based on the same story for Sundance Filmmakers Lab and Hoffman will shop the film for a financer. Mr. Crumpacker is “an overbearing boss who decides to go in search of the meaning of life, even though he lacks any capacity for introspection.”

Also announced was a sports drama project based around the Dean Colvard novel Mixed Emotions, about the civil rights movement within the Mississippi State University basketball program in the 1960s. The novel follows Colvard, then president of MSU, and his conflicted stance when he abolished the rule prohibiting him from playing racially integrated teams. Guinee and Sweetland writer and director Ali Selim are set to adapt.

Finally, we have The Farm, a tale about a father (Manny Howard) who reinvigorates his life and marriage when he creates a functioning farm out of his backyard in Brooklyn. The yarn is based on Howard’s New York Magazine cover story, which he is developing into a novel. Writer and director Donal Lardner Ward is set to adapt.


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Roger Ebert on 'Smash His Camera's' Ron Galella: A National Treasure

January 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Roger Ebert on ‘Smash His Camera’s’ Ron Galella: A national treasure

January 29, 2010 |  7:00 am

Jackie O Talk about karmic connections. I had just started reading Roger Ebert’s wonderful essay about Ron Galella, the notoriously relentless paparazzo, who is profiled in the new documentary “Smash His Camera,” when I heard the news about the death of J.D. Salinger, who might have been the only celebrity reclusive enough to have actually escaped the jittery glare of Galella’s camera. As for virtually every other star, from the swinging ’60s on, Galella rarely missed his prey.

Galella snapped ’em all, the kind of star that you have to refer to only by one name: Sinatra, Jackie O., Capote, Liz and Dick, Brando, Jagger (both Mick and Bianca), Elvis, Sophia, Redford, Nicholson. I haven’t seen the film, which debuted this week at Sundance, but the reviews have largely been good. Ebert nicely captures the stylish if slightly sleaze-ball appeal of Galella, who represents a natural bridge between the first generation of tabloid icons like Weegee and today’s less distinctive TMZ-style celeb stalkers. How did Galella get his money shots? Here’s what Ebert has to say about Galella’s working style, which makes it sound as though he would’ve made a great CIA agent or Hollywood private eye:

He hid in bushes and behind trees. Driving like a madman, he outraced celebrities to their destinations. He bribed doormen, chauffeurs, head waiters, security guards. He lurked in parking garages. He knew the back ways into ballrooms. He forged credentials. He chased his prey for blocks on foot. Year after year, he outworked, outran and outsmarted the competition, and he ran with a ferocious pack. Even now when he is wealthy, he hasn’t stopped standing in the cold to get his shot.

Ebert goes on to recount Galella’s epic battles with Jackie Onassis, who eventually got a court order preventing Galella from being within 75 yards of her at any time. Marlon Brando was once so ticked off by Galella that he punched him in the jaw so hard the photographer lost five teeth. No matter. The next time he went after Brando, he wore a football helmet. (Ebert has the photo up on his site, along with Galella’s classic shot of Jackie O. crossing the street, the wind blowing her hair across her face. She’s never looked more glamorously enigmatic.)

At Sundance, someone asked Robert Redford about “Smash His Camera,” surely knowing that Redford, like so many celebs, had his share of run-ins with Galella. It turns out Redford had one victory, eluding Galella while shooting “Three Days of the Condor,” though it wasn’t easy, because it involved almost as much skulduggery as Redford uses in the film itself.

So was Galella a scuzzy pest or a brilliant photographer? Or both? Ebert makes the case that as much as Galella harassed Jackie O., no one else captured her essence the way he did. As with most things, we’ll remember Galella’s work long after his pain-in-the-butt intrusiveness is forgotten. After all, we are all voyeurs at heart. As Ebert recalls, it was Andy Warhol who said, “A great photograph shows the famous doing something unfamous.”  

Photo: Jackie Onassis. Credit: Ron Galella

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Video – Animated CGI 'Pigeon Impossible' …It's Funny

January 29, 2010 Leave a comment


I love CGI animated films. To a lesser extent I also love CGI animated short films (get it?). It’s a great avenue for talented and creative filmmakers to showcase their skills – as well as a welcome distraction for those of us in the daily rat race.

But this is isn’t about rats – it’s about pigeons, those “rats with wings” and the potential global devastation they may cause in their relentless pursuit for your bread crumbs. Such is the premise of a great animated short we’ve stumbled upon, entitled Pigeon Impossible.

Thanks to our reader “Frisco D.G.,” we were able to discover this smile-inducing short film by Lucas Martell, who wrote, directed and produced Pigeon Impossible. The film took Martell about five years to finish, and his first foray into animation.

Here’s a quote from Martell about making the film, courtesy of the Pigeon Impossible official website:

“When the project started, it was mostly an excuse to learn 3D animation, but by the end of the project I had spent so much time reworking and polishing the story that I just wanted people to laugh.”

The film debuted on May 7, 2009 – shame it only popped up on our radar now. So, better late than never, I give you Pigeon Impossible:

Again – films like this are why I hold animated features in such high regard. How do you not smile at a movie like this?

Pigeon Impossible might be Martell’s first animated project, but judging by the end result, he has a bright future in the medium if he chooses to continue in it.

What did you think of the film?

Source: Pigeon Impossible official website

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Categories: VIDEOS

Sundance Review – Documentary 'Teenage Paparazzo'

January 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Teenage Paparazzo


Teenage Paparazzo
‘Teenage Paparazzo’

A Reckless Prods. presentation in association with Jloar Prods. and Bert Marcus Prods. Produced by Adrian Grenier, Matthew Cooke, Bert Marcus, John Loar, Robin Garvick and Lynda Pribyl. Executive producer, Sandlot Venture Group. Directed by Adrian Grenier. Written by Grenier, Thomas De Zentotita.

 With: Austin Visschedyk, Adrian Grenier, Jane Visschedyk, Paris Hilton, Eva Longoria Parker, Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin, Mario Lopez, Lindsay Lohan, Perez Hilton, Alwy Visschedyk, Jane Sieberts, Steve Sands, Jerry Ferrara, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon, Lewis Black, Whoopi Goldberg.

The curiosity attracted by a “Teenage Paparazzo” as driven as any adult snapper yields a tricky helmer-subject relationship, celebrities discussing celebrity, and sophisticated musings on the ever-escalating American obsession with fame in Adrian Grenier’s excellent feature. This is Grenier’s second full-length docu behind (and in front of) the camera, and its behind-the-glitz peeks, human drama and sharp guiding intelligence should get it wider exposure than his first, 2002’s “Shot in the Dark.” Whether that will translate to niche theatrical release or a straight path to cable — the helmer’s principal employer, HBO, would be the natural fit — remains to be seen.

Grenier begins by describing his own “really weird” experience as the object of paparazzi attention, since what he’s famous for is playing a movie star who draws just such attention, on a TV series (“Entourage”) that satirizes the world of modern Hollywood celebrity. One night out, blinded as usual by flashlights, he was struck by the presence of a towheaded little boy, 13-year-old Austin Visschedyk, among the most aggressive career “paps.”

Wanting to explore that profession (the word actually comes from the Italian one for “mosquito”), he befriended Visschedyk. At an age when most kids only daydream about the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus, the Hollywood native is actively chasing them for stolen photo ops, dashing between moving cars at 3 a.m. for shots that might net him up to $2,000.

He’s clearly talented, as well as amazingly precocious (and foul-mouthed). Though questions are certainly begged: Is this anything for a 13-year-old to be doing? Shouldn’t he be at school? (He’s home-schooled.) Where’s the parental supervision? (His mostly supportive mom and mildly disapproving dad, who live separately, are bullied by their son into exerting almost no disclipinary control.)

In exchange for actually hanging out with a celebrity, Visschedyk becomes Grenier’s own subject, as well as his guide to the frantic, high-stakes, adrenaline rush of paparazzi work. At first the adult photogs are highly suspicious, thinking the star only wants to make them look bad — which would be easy. But the helmer goes to great lengths to understand their profession, even taking a stab at ambush-shutterbugging fellow celebs himself, and interviewing prominent targets such as Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton.

Of course, many have negative feelings about such constant invasion — something the paps rather resentfully believe is the natural tradeoff for wealth and fame — though several allow that Visschedyk is so “cute” they don’t mind him so much. But when the teen’s novelty begins to attract media beyond Grenier’s own film crew, Grenier starts to worry he’s helped create a monster.

Pic also brings in fans, psychologists, historians, tabloid editors and more to explore our absorption in “parasocial relationships”: identifying, whether via sympathy or snickers, with public figures whose character and problems we only “know” through TV or tabloids. (Stats note the average American now spends 6 1/2 hours communicating not with live people, but with media — not including cell phones.)

Covering a wide range of material and ideas in engaging fashion, “Teenage Paparazzo” reps a triumph of organization for Grenier and editor Jim Curtis Mol. Lensing is all over the map, from high-grade HD to grainy on-the-run footage.

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Categories: REVIEWS


January 28, 2010 Leave a comment


The road to victory for The Hurt Locker was slow and steady. The film began screening in 2008, and got a huge Variety pan when it played the Venice film festival. When it opened in the summer of 2009, the reviews were much warmer, and by the end of the year it was a list topper. Now it’s in real contention for Best Picture, Writer and Director at the Oscars, even though it did very little business stateside. The story of a crew of a bomb squad when a new guy (Jeremy Renner) seems crazed to his new staff (Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty), it is the first film about Iraq that has crossed over, and home video will get it in front of way more people, especially with all this late-coming buzz. My review of The Hurt Locker after the jump.

The Hurt Locker movie poster.jpgThe film opens with Sgt. JT Sanborn (Mackie) and Spc. Owen Eldrige (Geraghty) losing their former bomb disposal expert, only to have him replaced by SFC William James (Renner). James begins his relationship with the men by showing a cavalier attitude towards their situation and not listening to his men. But as they continue to work together, they see a man who is keyed up to what he’s doing, but takes more chances than men about to walk from their tour of duty feel comfortable with. James seems a bit of a head case as he likes to listen to hard music, smokes all the time, and has a collection of the diffused bits from his travails, and the men even contemplate some friendly fire. But when they’re on a stakeout where they’ve got to take out some snipers, they somewhat relax into him. But James aggravates them further when his hunt for people who killed a young boy gets them in trouble.

With all this late stage praise, there was to be a backlash, and I’ve seen some bristle at the film’s attention. Though the film is excellent, it is also fair to say that it is just an action film in a war milieu. The problem is that most action films are so junked up on special effects, that rarely do you get to see a sustained bit of action tension, and director Kathryn Bigelow directs the shit out of this movie. Every set piece is a stunner, and for the first time in a long time for a war movie the language she uses to tell the story doesn’t seemed cribbed from either Steven Spielberg or Ridley Scott. The money shot of the film became the poster image, but if it wasn’t spoiled for you, it’s a hell of a moment, where a bad situation gets infinitely worse. It also works symbolically for the situation in Iraq without the film ever beating you over the head with it. And that’s one of the great strengths of the film, while also seeming to have a practical understanding of the job and the situation at hand. There’s a great verisimilitude here.

The Hurt Locker movie image (5).jpgIt also shows in the denouement (one of the best endings of any film this year), what happens to men who become adrenaline junkies, and how their fate ultimately becomes decided by being unable to go back to a normal life. Bigelow keeps the film moving, with interesting characters that are defined by their actions, and also peppers the film with cameos (Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, David Morse and Evangeline Lily) to remind you that you are watching a war film. That’s smart, but it also keeps you off balance as some of the cameos end abruptly, keeping the main characters (all played by actors not known for much more than supporting work) in jeopardy, because if the famous people can die, than a character actor might not have much chance.

I thought The Hurt Locker was one of the best films of the year for this; it’s strange to think this isn’t a mainstream entertainment, but this may have been the failure of marketing, as the film was wounded by that early screening. That may have helped the film in the long run. Cause this is one for the ages.

Summit’s DVD presents the film in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) and in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. The transfer is solid, as to be expected. Extras include a commentary by Bigelow and screenwriter/producer Mark Boal, a short making of (13 min.) and an image gallery. Perhaps if the film cleans up at the Oscars, we might see a double dip with a longer behind the scenes piece. I would celebrate that.

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Categories: REVIEWS

R.I.P. – Disney Closes Miramax Films

January 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Disney Closes Miramax

Posted on Thursday, January 28th, 2010 by Russ Fischer


It is sadly ironic that, just as this year’s Sundance Film Festival comes to a close, Disney plans to close the doors on former Sundance mainstay Miramax for good. New York and LA offices will close today. Eighty staff members will lose their jobs, and the last six Miramax films could well go into some sort of limbo. After thirty-one years, during much of which the label started by Bob and Harvey Weinstein dominated the American indie scene, Miramax is no more.

The Wrap charts the downfall of the distributor, from the purchase by Disney, the departure of Bob and Harvey Weinstein, the takeover by Daniel Battsek. Disney continually marginalized the label, but Dick Cook said it would always continue. When Cook was ousted and Battsek shortly after, it was evident that the days of Miramax were numbered.

Harvey Weinstein said of his former company,

I’m feeling very nostalgic right now. I know the movies made on my and my brother Bob’s watch will live on as well as the fantastic films made under the direction of Daniel Battsek. Miramax has some brilliant people working within the organization and I know they will go on to do great things in the industry.

Kevin Smith was asked to write about the end of the label for The Wrap. He concludes with,

I’m crushed to see it pass into history, because I owe everything I have to Miramax.  Without them, I’d still be a New Jersey convenience store register jockey. In practice, not just in my head.

Over the years, Miramax built the careers of Smith and Quentin Tarantino, brought Steven Soderbergh to prominence after buying Sex, Lies and Videotape and furthered the careers of filmmakers including Jane Campion, Errol Morris, Gus Van Sant and Peter Jackson. The studio did many things that were infuriating, notably when dealing with Asian films that were heavily recut or simply shelved, but there’s no question that the last thirty years of cinema would be very different without Miramax.

Six films are now left on the shelf, among which include two starring Sam Worthington (The Debt and Last Night, the latter of which had a release date set in March), Julie Taymor’s filmed version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and Troy Nixey and Guillermo del Toro’s remake of the TV horror classic Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. Hopefully Disney will release or sell these movies; we’ll find out more as we can.

This may end up being a short-lived death, at least in name. Just yesterday evening there was word from Deadline Hollywood that the Weinsteins still want to reclaim the Miramax name. It was, after all, based on the names of their parents, Max and Miriam. Bob Iger previously offered to sell Miramax in toto, but for a wildly overvalued $1.5 billion. Will Disney now let the Weinsteins take back the name for a much smaller fee?

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Categories: R.I.P.

Trailer – 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps'

January 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Posted on Thursday, January 28, 2010


Here’s the synopsis. Click on the image below to be taken to the trailer page on IMDB.

Emerging from a lengthy prison stint, Gordon Gekko finds himself on the outside of a world he once dominated. Looking to repair his damaged relationship with his daughter, Gekko forms an alliance with her fiancé Jacob (Shia LaBeouf), and Jacob begins to see him as a father figure. But Jacob learns the hard way that Gekko – still a master manipulator and player – is after something very different from redemption.



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Categories: TRAILERS