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Film Review: ‘Bending the Arc’

31 minutes ago

For anyone who wants to believe in the promise of Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote “the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice,” a film like “Bending the Arc” is downright inspiring. With the gripping appeal of a great epic novel, Kief Davidson and Pedro Kos’ documentary spans three decades of diligent work on the frontlines of global health crises to prove, in moving detail, the difference dedicated professionals can make in seemingly hopeless situations. The film, with the help of celebrity producers Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, should overcome resistance to ostensibly downbeat subject matter to garner attention in the nonfiction marketplace.

Davidson and Kos filter the story through the work and friendship of physicians Paul Farmer, the co-founder of Partners In Health, and Jim Yong Kim, the current president of the World Bank Group, who began as idealistic medical students with the simple goal of launching »


- Geoff Berkshire

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‘Sicario’ Sequel, ‘Granite Mountain’ Move From Lionsgate to Sony

1 hour ago

Black Label has reached a deal with Sony Pictures to take over distribution of a pair of action-adventure films — “Granite Mountain” and “Soldado” — from Lionsgate for North America and select international territories.

Black Label and Lionsgate have not commented on why their distribution agreement collapsed. But informed sources indicated that disagreements on release dates and marketing strategies were factors.

Lionsgate is retaining the international rights on “Soldado” and on most foreign markets on “Granite Mountain.”

Granite Mountain,” directed by Joseph Kosinski, tells the true tale of an elite crew of heroic firefighters who battled to save their hometown from a wildfire. Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges, Taylor Kitsch and Jennifer Connelly star.

Granite Mountain” is based on the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona, which killed 19 firefighters. Sony will release the film on Oct. 20 — a month later than Lionsgate’s intended Sept. 22 release date.

Soldado” is the sequel to Lionsgate’s “Sicario. »


- Dave McNary

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Tribeca: Oscilloscope Buys Estonian Fantasy-Drama ‘November’

1 hour ago

Oscilloscope Laboratories has acquired North American rights to Rainer Sarnet’s Estonian fantasy-drama “November” ahead of its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in the international narrative category.

The film is based on Andrus Kivirähk’s novel “Rehepapp,” in which a peasant girl longs for a village boy who is inexplicably infatuated by the visiting German baroness that possesses all that he longs for. The story takes place in 19th Century Estonia amid a harsh landscape where spirits, werewolves, plagues, and the devil himself converge.

Rea Lest portrays the women who falls hopelessly in love with the village boy, played by Jörgen Liik. In desperation, she turns to dark magic in order to win him back.

“‘November’ is based on Estonian fables where the characters are mainly motivated by greed,” Sarnet said. “I was afraid our story would be too specific to the self-irony intrinsic to Estonians. But I »


- Dave McNary

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Chris Pine to Play Robert the Bruce in Netflix’s ‘Outlaw King’ with David Mackenzie Directing

2 hours ago

Chris Pine is in talks to star as Scottish King Robert the Bruce in Netflix’s period drama “Outlaw King” with Ben Foster in talks to co-star.

Pine’s “Hell or High Water” helmer David Mackenzie is directing the pic from a script he is writing.

Sigma FilmsGillian Berrie is producing with Anonymous Content’s Richard Brown and Steve Golin.

Bruce was first profiled as the Scottish royal in Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart” who, after betraying William Wallace and allowing the British to capture the rebel leader, would go on to fight the British for Scotland’s freedom following Wallace’s death.

Related

Chris Pine Says ‘Hell or High Water’ Is About Men’s ‘Failure to Be Intimate’

In this version, Bruce will take center stage and include not only his fight against the British, but also the Catholic Church over the idea of a free country.

Following “Hell or High Water, »


- Justin Kroll

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How Tom Holland Helped Jon Bernthal Land His Role as Marvel’s ‘Punisher’

2 hours ago

When Jon Bernthal and Tom Holland were shooting “Pilgrimage” together both actors were simultaneously trying to land roles in the Marvel big and small screen universe. During breaks from filming the gritty medieval action film, the two actors collaborated on the audition tapes that helped convince Marvel higher-ups they were the right people to play the Punisher and Spider-Man.

Bernthal read lines off-camera during one of Holland’s many Spider-Man tapes, while Holland went a step farther, and acted in a scene with Bernthal during his Punisher audition.

“They use mock scenes, but it was a man telling this young boy about shooting a deer — describing the moment of killing a deer, I believe,” Bernthal told Variety during an interview at the Tribeca Film Festival. “We had to play that the deer was there and I see him getting ready to kill it. He was off camera and we were like, »


- Brent Lang

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‘Despicable Me 3,’ Pixar’s ‘Coco,’ ‘The Big Bad Fox’ to Bow at France’s 2017 Annecy Animation Festival

3 hours ago

Illumination’s “Despicable Me 3,” China, Disney-Pixar’s “Coco” and “The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales” look set to figure among highlights at June’s 2017 edition of France’s thriving Annecy Intl. Animation Film Festival, a Mecca for animation companies and creatives from Hollywood and the world over.

In one sign of still-continued growth at Annecy, its Mifa film-tv market will add an extra day, moving from three to four days.

Announced by the Annecy Festival as a world premiere, “Despicable Me 3” continues Chris Meledandri’s close relationship with the French festival which has hosted the bows of the first two parts of the franchise and “Minions” – to increasingly gargantuan worldwide box office.

Director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson, who previously teamed on “Toy Story 3,” will present, along with co-director Adrian Molina, footage from “Coco,” while director Dave Mullins and producer Dana Murray unveil Pixar short “Lou. »


- John Hopewell

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Tom Hanks Jokes That His Character in ‘The Circle’ Was Based on Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey (Video)

3 hours ago

Tom Hanks’ role of a surveillance-loving CEO in the new tech thriller “The Circle” was based on tech executives like Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, he joked during an interview with none other than Dorsey himself Monday. “I played you! I played you,” Hanks said during a panel at Twitter’s office in San Francisco that also included co-stars Emma Watson and Patton Oswalt as well as director James Ponsoldt.

The panel also drew some other parallels between the world of surveillance in “The Circle,” which features a company with a network of cameras all around the world, and social media. “Fame is not being achieved, it’s being afflicted on people,” said Oswalt in a reference to the power of social media. He also argued that in the future, people may choose to completely disconnect and not be on social media at all — a statement that prompted Hanks to quip: “Wouldn’t that be great, »


- Janko Roettgers

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France’s Presidential Election Puts Entertainment Industry at Crossroads

4 hours ago

Paris – Many voters in France liken their upcoming presidential runoff to choosing between “the plague or cholera.” But within the country’s film and TV industries, the young centrist Emmanuel Macron is the clear favorite over far-right leader Marine Le Pen, whose victory would have damaging consequences for France’s vibrant cultural sector, figures in the industry say.

Macron and Le Pen made it into the May 7 runoff after coming in first and second, respectively, in Sunday’s initial round of voting. Currently, polls suggest that Macron has a big lead over Le Pen in a head-to-head matchup – the first in decades without a candidate from one of France’s main parties. Macron is running as an independent, and Le Pen was leader of the National Front until stepping down Monday.

Le Pen’s platform barely touches on culture. But she has declared that, if elected, she would ditch France’s anti-piracy law, »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Taissa Farmiga to Play Titular Role in Horror Movie ‘The Nun’

4 hours ago

New Line has tapped Taissa Farmiga to star as the title character in the horror-thriller “The Nun,” opposite Demian Bichir.

The Nun” is a spinoff based on the demonic character in “The Conjuring 2” with British director Corin Hardy on board.

The studio began developing “The Nun” last June, shortly after “The Conjuring 2” opened. Producers are James Wan, who directed the two “Conjuring” movies and produced the sequel, and Peter Safran, who produced both movies. The current script for “The Nun” is written by Gary Dauberman and Wan.

The demon nun came to life in “The Conjuring 2” from a painting by Patrick Wilson’s paranormal investigator Ed Warren and later attacked Vera Farmiga’s Lorraine Warren. Vera and Taissa Farmiga are sisters.

The Conjuring 2” deals with the 1977 case of demonic possession of an 11-year-old British girl, played by Madison Wolfe.

New Line has already successfully spun off »


- Dave McNary

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‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ Reviews: What the Critics Are Saying

4 hours ago

Star-Lord and the rest of his “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” gang have their work cut out for them when the sequel opens May 5 if they want to match the critical and financial success of the Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, and Dave Bautista original.

According to most of Hollywood’s top critics, director James Gunn’s follow-up to Marvel’s 2014 hit falters a bit when it comes to unadulterated entertainment, but the emphasis on family makes “Vol. 2” a welcome addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Here’s what the critics are saying:

Variety’s Owen Gleiberman

“Shot for shot, line and line, it’s an extravagant and witty follow-up, made with the same friendly virtuosic dazzle. Yet this time you can sense just how hard the series’ wizard of a director, James Gunn (now taking off from a script he wrote solo), is working to entertain you. »


- JD Knapp

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Tribeca Film Review: ‘House of Z’

6 hours ago

In the fashion world as in cinema, the only thing more exciting than a spectacular crash-and-burn is the ensuing comeback, and “House of Z” diligently adheres to that formula in detailing the up-and-down career of famed American designer Zac Posen. A wunderkind whose Icarus-like flight to the industry’s greatest heights was soon followed by a startling plummet back to Earth, Posen proves an engaging vehicle for a look at art-world pitfalls. Though director Sandy Chronopoulos’ documentary is a somewhat unevenly weighted affair, its candidness and all-access footage should nonetheless help it attract a crowd, following its Tribeca film festival premiere.

Raised in an artistic family in New York City, Posen rocketed to superstardom thanks in part to his tenure at Brooklyn’s St. Ann’s school, where he immediately fell in with such future luminaries as Stella Schnabel, Paz de la Huerta, and Claire Danes, and which served as »


- Nick Schager

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Tribeca Film Review: ‘The Clapper’

7 hours ago

A curious thing has happened to indie movies since the year 2000. In the ’90s, practically all the heroes were hit men. Now, they hold some of the quirkiest jobs imaginable — baking specialty pies (“Waitress”), building bathtubs (“The Voices”), writing greeting-card poetry (“500 Days of Summer”), etc. — in movies where a quirky profession serves as a stand-in for an actual personality.

The title character in Dito Montiel’s “The Clapper” takes the cake: He makes a living as a professional audience member, popping up in countless infomercials too “ooh” and “aah” and occasionally ask questions like, “Are you trying to tell me with no money down I can get a house?” Unlike the hundreds of would-be actors who move to Los Angeles every year with dreams of becoming stars, Eddie Krumble (Ed Helms) and best friend Chris (Tracy Morgan) are content to be invisible, doing their best to look nondescript, while mixing »


- Peter Debruge

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Rock Documentary ‘Hired Gun’ Gets One-Night Screening Event From Fathom (Exclusive)

8 hours ago

Vision Films and Fathom Events are partnered for a one-night showing on June 29 at several hundred North American locations for the rock documentary “Hired Gun: Out of the Shadows, Into the Spotlight.”

The feature-length documentary, which focuses on the key performers who back up the stars, premiered at the 2016 SXSW Festival and has also screened at the Glastonbury Festival, Calgary International and Noise Pop.

The film, directed by Fran Strine, is being touted as covering similar ground as 2014’s “20 Feet from Stardom,” which won the Best Documentary Academy Award, with details of the highs and lows of touring life, the demands of session schedules, and the dedication required to play backseat to some of rock’s most iconic musicians.

“We have been overwhelmed by the support and feedback received throughout our festival run,” Strine said. “‘Hired Gun’ is about musicians whose DNA are all over the music and tours we love, »


- Dave McNary

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Jacqueline Bisset to Star in Drama ‘Journey to Miyakojima’ (Exclusive)

8 hours ago

Jacqueline Bisset has been cast in the lead role in the family drama “Journey to Miyakojima,” which will begin filming in Japan in October.

French helmer Slony Sow is directing from his own script. Paul Hoppe is the producer and Nick Kambayashi is executive producing. Aun Entertainment and Licri are the production companies.

Bisset will play a quietly ailing family matriarch and NBA team owner who is hoping to reunite her shattered family at a serene island off the coast of Okinawa, thousands of miles away from home. She persuades her granddaughter, whose eating disorder is escalating, to take up residence at a  guesthouse on the island — where its beauty, a chance meeting with a treasure hunter, and a century-old shipwreck heal their wounds.

The cast includes Akira Emoto, Eriko Takeda, and Mari Natsuki.

Bisset stars in “L’Amant Double,” a Palme d’Or contender at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival, »


- Dave McNary

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Music Box Lands Chavela Vargas Documentary for U.S., Plans October Release

8 hours ago

Music Box Films has bought U.S. rights to the documentary “Chavela” and plans an October theatrical release, Variety has learned exclusively.

Chavela,” directed by Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi, follows the life of the iconic singer Chavela Vargas, who ran away from Costa Rica to Mexico City in her early teens and began singing in the streets. She became successful during the 1950s and challenged mainstream Mexican morals, by her life and her art, especially by singing searing love songs originally intended for men wooing women.

She also became a muse to  filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar. Vargas died in 2012.

Chavela” premiered in February at the Berlin Film Festival, where it won the second place Panorama Audience Award. Jay Weissberg said in his review for Variety that the film was “a justifiably laudatory love letter to a woman whose voice drew forth a song’s every emotion, and whose life as »


- Dave McNary

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Japan Box Office: ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Opens Strongly Ahead of Golden Week

9 hours ago

Beauty and the Beast” opened on top of the Japanese box office last weekend, with Disney distributing on 773 screens. For the three -day period beginning April 21, it made $12.5 million on 951,000 admissions. This beats the three-day total of megahit “Frozen,” which finished in Japan with $231 million.

The score also bodes well ahead as Japan heads into Golden Week, a period between late April and early May studded with public holidays.

Debuting at number four was the second half of “March Comes in Like a Lion,” a Keishi Otomo two-parter about the coming-of-age of a young Japanese chess champion. Released on 295 screens by Toho and Asmik Ace, the film recorded $1.2 million on 96,000 admissions for its opening frame. This was some 11% down from the first instalment, which bowed in March.

Of the top ten, six films were animations, while three others were live-action movies based on anime or manga properties.

Related storiesKorea Box »


- Mark Schilling

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Korea Box Office: ‘Fate of the Furious’ Wins Quiet Weekend

11 hours ago

The Fate of the Furious” remained on top of the South Korean box office in its second weekend, comfortably beating the new releases. Accounting for 57% of the total weekend box office, the Upi release earned $5.12 million from 682,000 admissions between Friday and Sunday, extending its total to $18.9 million after two weekends.

Megabox’s local comedy “Daddy You, Daughter Me” and Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” respectively held their second and third positions. “Daddy” earned $1.16 million for a total of $3.77 million from after two weekends. “Beauty” earned $774,000 for an accumulated total of $36.3 million since its March 16 opening.

Suffering a drop of 62.6%, Showbox’s local crime actioner “The Prison” slipped to fifth. It earned $223,000 for a total of $20.9 million after five weekends.

Two Thursday (Apr. 20) newcomers, “Power Rangers” and “The Shack” landed in fourth and sixth, respectively. Locally distributed by Next Entertainment World, “Power Rangers” earned $434,000 over four days. “Shack” earned $202,000.

Related »


- Sonia Kil

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Film Review: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’

15 hours ago

The word “Marvel,” as in comic books or movie studios, has become a foundational term of our culture. Yet you could sit through almost every one of today’s comic-book movies and not find a whole lot to marvel at. That’s where “Guardians of the Galaxy” came in. In an era of overstuffed, taped-together blockbusters, it was supremely funny, exciting, and well-made — a rock ‘n’ roll space opera, spectacular yet lithe, without a stray shot or sequence out of place, and with a wildly caustic yet devotional interplay among its motley crew of renegades that recalled the original 1977 “Star Wars” (obviously its chief influence). The film wielded the machinery of big-budget franchise filmmaking and trumped it at the same time. So the question of what “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” can do for an encore isn’t really, “Can it top the first film?” It’s more like, »


- Owen Gleiberman

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Tribeca Film Review: ‘I Am Heath Ledger’

18 hours ago

If there is any one image you take away from “I Am Heath Ledger,” it’s that of Ledger staring into the camera, spinning it around and around, creating his own sort of impromptu DV-selfie version of the swirling-camera POV dance duets in “Saturday Night Fever” and “Carrie.” The shots are emblematic for a couple of reasons. Ledger, as we learn, was always filming and photographing things, including himself and his friends; it was part of his compulsion to make art, to filter his experience through a vast array of lenses. The bounty of images he left behind is a testament to that creative hunger. Yet the fact that he got off on filming himself so much makes its own statement. “I Am Heath Ledger” is a portrait of the artist as an angelic young narcissist, a self-conjured celebrity image-maker. He was always pushing himself to the next level, which is why, »


- Owen Gleiberman

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SAG-AFTRRA Board to Ask Outside Counsel to Review Misconduct Allegations

19 hours ago

The national board of SAG-AFTRA will ask outside counsel to review recent allegations of alleged misconduct by the union’s leaders.

The board, in a statement passed unanimously on Sunday, also blasted the United Screen Artists Committee for making the allegations.

Variety reported exclusively on Friday that former SAG president Ed Asner and eight other SAG-AFTRA members made the accusations in a “letter of demand,” and promised to file a suit if the policies are not corrected in 45 days.

The letter of demand said that the amount of member money that’s allegedly being withheld is in the area of $1 billion.

“What appeared to be the improper handling of One Hundred and Fifty Million Dollars of monies held in trust is now approaching at least a Billion Dollars, spread out among internal accounts, as well as such entities as Sound Exchange, Afm & SAG-aftra Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund, and a »


- Dave McNary

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