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‘It’ Actor Owen Teague Joins Gary Oldman in Supernatural Thriller ‘Mary’

15 September 2017 3:53 PM, PDT

“It” actor Owen Teague has been cast opposite Gary Oldman in the supernatural thriller “Mary,” with shooting starting this month in Alabama.

Tucker Tooley Entertainment and Entertainment One are producing and co-financing. Michael Goi, a cinematographer and director for “Salem” and “American Horror Story,” is directing from Anthony Jaswinski’s screenplay.

“Mary” focuses on a family that buys an old ship at auction in hopes of starting a charter business. Instead, they discover the ship’s horrifying secrets once they are out on isolated open waters.

Related

Box Office: ‘It’ Will Float Past ‘American Assassin,’ ‘Mother!’ With Impressive Second Weekend

Oldman was announced as being attached to movie on Sept. 5. Tucker Tooley, Scott Lambert, Alexandra Milchan, and Scott Lumpkin are producing. Greg Renker and Jason Barhydt will executive produce with Douglas Urbanski, Oldman’s longtime producing partner.

Oldman is playing the father who captains the old ship and Teague will play the boat’s second-in-command as a »


- Dave McNary

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Harry Dean Stanton, ‘Big Love,’ ‘Twin Peaks’ Star, Dies at 91

15 September 2017 3:26 PM, PDT

Harry Dean Stanton, the actor with a gaunt, bedraggled look who labored in virtual obscurity for decades until a series of roles increased his visibility, including his breakthrough in Wim Wenders’ “Paris, Texas,” died of natural causes Friday in Los Angeles. He was 91.

The actor was also known for his roles in “Twin Peaks,” “Big Love,” “Pretty in Pink” and “Repo Man.”

He had a high-profile role as manipulative cult leader Roman Grant on HBO polygamy drama “Big Love,” which ran from 2006-11, and recently appeared as Carl Rodd in the “Twin Peaks” revival on Showtime.

His most recent film, “Lucky,” about an atheist who comes to terms with his own mortality, is set to be released by Magnolia on Sept. 29. »


- Carmel Dagan

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Paul Schrader on the Extinction of the Human Race and His New Film ‘First Reformed’

15 September 2017 2:51 PM, PDT

It’s no surprise that Paul Schrader, a filmmaker associated with such dark classics as “Taxi Driver” and “American Gigolo,” has a pessimistic streak. But it’s still bracing to hear him argue that humanity, as we know it, is unlikely to last through the next century.

In an interview at the Toronto Film Festival, Schrader said he believes that global warming is accelerating at such a rate that there’s little that can be done to arrest the ecological changes. His Cassandra-like streak informs “First Reformed,” his new drama that’s been screening to strong reviews at the fall festivals. The film grapples with issues of faith while also sounding a warning about the destruction of the natural world. It follows Ethan Hawke as a small-town priest who toys with becoming a suicide bomber in the service of a radical form of environmentalism. Schrader spoke to Variety about religion in film, working »


- Brent Lang

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Toronto Film Review: ‘Thelma’

15 September 2017 2:30 PM, PDT

A year after his English-language debut “Louder than Bombs,” Norwegian director Joachim Trier returns to the language and the setting, if not the genre, of his breakout film, “Oslo, August 31st,” with “Thelma.” Selected as Norway’s foreign language Oscar entry prior to its Toronto debut, “Thelma” taps into subject matter that will have a very familiar ring with horror fans, zeroing in on an intense, sensitive young girl from a fundamentalist religious background, who gradually recognizes that she is both blessed and cursed with awesome telekinetic powers. But whereas Brian De Palma’s “Carrie” tackled this scenario with lurid, humid verve, Trier treats it with chilly, distant remove, replacing De Palma’s overheated melodrama and explosive finale with glacial sensuality and a perversely underplayed denouement. At times a tad too subtle, “Thelma” is nonetheless an unnervingly effective slow-burn, and those with the patience for Trier’s patient accumulation of detail will find it pays off in »


- Andrew Barker

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Toronto Docs Dig Deep Into Celebrity With New Insights

15 September 2017 2:06 PM, PDT

When it comes to documentaries, the idiom — “out with the old, in with the new” — doesn’t hold much weight.

Just ask the Tiff directors behind docs about Eric Clapton, Sammy Davis Jr., Grace Jones, Jim Carrey, Andy Kaufman, Jean-Michel Basquiat and André Leon Talley. Each boldface name has garnered so much media attention that audiences might think they already know everything there is to know about them.

But the filmmakers, including Sophie Fiennes (“Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami”), Sam Pollard (“Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me”) and Lili Fini Zanuck (“Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars”) managed to challenge the existing mythologies surrounding each individual and reveal new insights through new access to each artist’s lives and work. The result? A fresh, sometimes surprising perspective on people we thought we knew.

Fiennes has been making “Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami” for over a decade. She calls the film an experiential, present »


- Addie Morfoot

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Box Office: ‘It’ Will Float Past ‘American Assassin,’ ‘Mother!’ With Impressive Second Weekend

15 September 2017 1:22 PM, PDT

“It” can’t be stopped at the domestic box office, dominating with a second weekend of at least $50 million at 4,103 sites, early estimates showed Friday.

Action-thriller “American Assassin” is heading for a distant second place finish with an opening weekend of about $16 million at 3,154 locations, slightly above expectations. Jennifer Lawrence’s horror film “Mother!” should match forecasts and take in about $11 million at 2,368 venues to finish third.

Warner Bros. and New Line are adhering to a $50 million estimate for the weekend for “It,” which means “It” will join 44 other movies that have generated that much in their second weekends. More bullish estimates Friday placed the blockbuster in the $55 million to $60 million range. If “It” makes it to $60 million, it will become the 21st movie to reach that mark in its second weekend.

Related

Box Office: ‘American Assassin’ Outshoots ‘Mother!’ on Thursday Night

“It” will wind up on Sunday with a sensational 10-day total of at least $210 million »


- Dave McNary

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Jamie Lee Curtis Returning for ‘Halloween’ Reboot

15 September 2017 12:10 PM, PDT

Jamie Lee Curtis is returning to play the iconic Laurie Strode in the “Halloween” franchise.

Universal Pictures also set Oct. 19, 2018, as the release date for what it’s calling the final film in the “Halloween” series.

The horror movie is being produced by Trancas International Films, Blumhouse Productions, and Miramax.

Curtis’ character will have a final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.

John Carpenter will executive produce and serve as creative consultant on this film, joining leading horror producer Jason Blum, who’s behind “Get Out,” “Split,” and “The Purge” and “Paranormal Activity” franchises.

David Gordon Green is directing from a script he co-wrote with Danny McBride. Malek Akkad, whose Trancas International Films has produced the series since its inception, will produce. Green and McBride will executive produce under their Rough House Pictures banner. Green »


- Dave McNary

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Coralie Fargeat’s Midnight Madness Hit ‘Revenge’ Sells Nearly Worldwide for Charades (Exclusive)

15 September 2017 10:58 AM, PDT

Recently launched French sales company Charades has almost sold out Coralie Fargeat’s high-voltage feature debut “Revenge,” one of the critical hits of this year’s Toronto’s Midnight Madness section.

The stylish movie, which was acquired by AMC’s streaming service Shudder for English-language territories ahead of its world premiere at Tiff, was picked up for German-speaking Europe and Italy (Koch Media), Spain (A Contracorriente), Japan (New Select), South Korea (Company L), Portugal (Cinemundo), Scandinavia (Njuta), Poland (Monolith), Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria (Ads), ex-Yugoslavia (Blitz), Czech Republic (Bohemian), Israel (Lev), Turkey (Fabula), Middle East (Salim Ramia), and Taiwan (Movie Cloud).

The film stars Matilda Lutz (“Rings”) as Jen, a pretty young woman who goes on vacation at a remote desert villa with her millionaire boyfriend (Kevin Janssens). Their romantic weekend goes off the rails when her lover’s hunting pals show up on the scene, triggering a wave of violence.

Along »


- Elsa Keslassy

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‘Crown’s’ Claire Foy to Officially Star in ‘Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ Sequel

15 September 2017 10:28 AM, PDT

Claire Foy is officially playing Lisbeth Salander in “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” sequel, “The Girl in the Spider’s Web.”

Variety first reported in May that Foy was the frontrunner for the gig as the precocious Swedish computer hacker.

The new installment of Sony Pictures’ Millennium franchise will commence production in January in Berlin and Stockholm, and the film will be released on Oct. 19, 2018.

The film will team Foy and director Fede Alvarez, who helmed 2016’s “Don’t Breathe” for Sony.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled about Claire taking the reins of the iconic Lisbeth Salander,” he said. “Claire is an incredible, rare talent who will inject a new and exciting life into Lisbeth. I can’t wait to bring this new story to a worldwide audience, with Claire Foy at its center.”

Foy is nominated for an Emmy for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth in the Netflix series “The Crown,” from »


- Dave McNary

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AFI, Kennedy Center Honors Founder George Stevens Jr. on His Youth Spent on His Father’s Film Sets

15 September 2017 10:15 AM, PDT

Fifty years ago, multiple Emmy Award winner George Stevens Jr. helped found the American Film Institute. The organization’s many activities include the annual AFI Fest and essential preservation efforts as well as televised salutes to top film creatives, which have earned Stevens Jr. two Emmy awards and 15 other nominations as a producer and writer. He came to AFI after growing up on sets where his father created cinematic masterpieces such as “A Place in the Sun,” “Shane” and “Giant.”

In 1961, Stevens Jr. went to Washington, D.C., at the behest of newsman Edward R. Murrow to supervise the film and TV output of the U.S. Information Agency. He later founded the Kennedy Center Honors. His career is filled with awards, including 17 Emmys (10 for his work on the “Kennedy Center Honors” telecasts), a 2013 Honorary Academy Award and eight Writers Guild trophies. He was first mentioned in Variety on Sept. 5, 1951, during »


- Steven Gaydos

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Ed Helms-Owen Wilson Comedy ‘Bastards’ Changes Title to ‘Father Figures’

15 September 2017 10:13 AM, PDT

Warner Bros. has decided to lose “Bastards” as the title for its Ed Helms-Owen Wilson road comedy, opting instead for “Father Figures.”

The studio is keeping the Dec. 22 release date for the Alcon Entertainment production.

J.K. Simmons and former pro football player Terry Bradshaw, who is playing himself, are potential father figures to Wilson and Helms’ characters — who are brothers whose eccentric mother raised them to believe their father died when they were young. When they discover this to be a lie, they set out to find their real father.

The brothers’ mother Helen Baxter (portrayed Glenn Close) admits at her wedding that she stretched the truth about their father dying when they were young. “I’m not sure who your father was,” she says in the first trailer for the film.

Ving Rhames, June Squibb, Katt Williams, and model Jessica Gomes — who plays the love interest of Wilson’s character — also star.

Lawrence Sher »


- Dave McNary

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Egypt’s El Gouna Fest Kicks off Freshman Edition

15 September 2017 10:00 AM, PDT

On the banks of the Red Sea, in a man-made Egyptian oasis better suited to snorkeling than cinema, a new Middle Eastern festival is hedging its bets on the future of Arab film.

The inaugural El Gouna Film Festival will kick off Sept. 22, bringing with it a polished lineup of both Middle Eastern and global cinema and a slew of roundtables, meet-and-greets and networking opportunities between emerging young filmmakers and industry heavyweights.

At El Gouna’s core, says co-founder Intishal Al Tamini, is a commitment to humanitarian content, and the use of film as a bridge for dialogue and creative intellect.

Those are lofty goals for a freshman festival in a region mired by conflict and marked by decades of censorship, but the odds that lay stacked against the fest, Al Tamini says, have actually helped draw a wellspring of international support and cooperation.

“When you take the Middle East and North Africa, you »


- Debra Kamin

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Female Filmmakers Out in Force at 6th Finnish Film Affair

15 September 2017 9:41 AM, PDT

Female filmmakers will be out in force with a record number of completed films and projects at the 6th Finnish Film Affair, an increasingly popular film showcase set in Helsinki.

As many as 22 women-directed pics will be presented at the Finnish Film Affair this year. Among the filmmakers is Selma Vilhunen, who earned an Oscar nomination in 2014 with her short “Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?” and will be on hand to pitch her second film, “Stupid Young Heart,” as well as present her documentary feature “Hobbyhorse Revolution.” Another promising female director, Kaisa El Ramly, will pitch “Scenes from a Dying Town,” one of the projects to be presented in the Work-in-Progress sidebar.

Other anticipated Work-in-Progress titles include Jakub Wrónski and Ira Karpelan’s animated film “Moomins and the Winter Wonderland,” featuring the voices of Alicia Vikander and Stellan Skarsgard, and Arto Halonen’s “Guardian Angel,” with Danish superstar Pilou Asbaek attached to star.

The »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Why the Toronto Film Festival Felt Smaller Than Ever

15 September 2017 8:18 AM, PDT

For evidence that climate change is real, look no further than the Toronto International Film Festival. The official fall kickoff to awards season is usually accompanied by hot sales that burn through the streets of Canada’s largest city. In 2017, the market wasn’t just frosty. It was more like an arctic blizzard had suddenly swept through Roy Thomson Hall.

This year’s Toronto saw the premieres of a staggering 255 features, with endless red carpets and after-parties in crowded bars and noisy restaurants. Despite all the glamour emitted by the likes of George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, and Jennifer Lawrence, the festival felt much smaller.

Many buyers here bitterly complained that there was nothing worth spending money on, while too many movies unfurled to little fanfare. This has become a recurring trend in the last three or four years at Toronto (does anybody remember the sad fate of the Michael Moore documentary “Where to Invade Next”?), but the »


- Ramin Setoodeh and Brent Lang

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Box Office: ‘American Assassin’ Outshoots ‘Mother!’ on Thursday Night

15 September 2017 8:10 AM, PDT

Action-thriller “American Assassin” has launched with a moderate $915,000 at 2,400 North American sites on Thursday night while Jennifer Lawrence’s “Mother!” took in $700,000.

American Assassin,” a joint production between CBS Films and Lionsgate, is expanding to 3,154 locations on Friday amid expectations of a weekend take in the $12 million to $15 million range. The movie, an adaptation of Vince Flynn’s 2010 novel of the same name, stars Dylan O’Brien as a CIA black ops recruit trained by a Cold War veteran played by Michael Keaton.

Paramount’s enigmatic horror-thriller “Mother!” is expected to open this weekend at around $11 million at 2,368 venues in the wake of screenings at the Venice and Toronto film festivals. But prospects for “Mother!” may have been muted by the stunning performance of New Line’s horror blockbuster “It” — which will dominate the weekend with at least $50 million in its second »


- Dave McNary

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Julie Delpy to Receive Honorary Tribute at 30th European Film Awards

15 September 2017 6:35 AM, PDT

Julie Delpy, the Oscar-nominated French-American writer, filmmaker and actress, will receive the European Achievement in World Cinema award at the 30th European Film Awards in December. The honor recognizes Delpy’s rich and diverse career in front of and behind the camera.

The Paris-born Delpy is best known for her role opposite Ethan Hawke in Richard Linklater’s “Before Sunrise” (1995), “Before Sunset” (2004) and “Before Midnight” (2013), which she co-wrote. Delpy received an Oscar nomination in screenwriting for “Before Sunset” and “Before Midnight” (shared with Linklater and Hawke) as well as a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in the latter.

A graduate of Nyu’s Tisch School of the Arts, Delpy has directed, written or acted in more than 30 films. She’s been nominated at the European Film Awards twice, first as an actress in Volker Schlöndorff’s “Homo Faber,” in 1991, and as a director in 2007 with “2 Days in Paris,” which also earned a Cesar nomination. Her »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Toronto Film Review: ‘The Ravenous’

15 September 2017 5:52 AM, PDT

The zombie apocalypse subgenre has proven sufficiently durable and extensive to encompass everything from traditional horror to romantic comedy, sociopolitical metaphor to knockabout farce. But it’s doubtful that any previous movie or TV drama about the voracious undead has deserved the label of “contemplative” as much as writer-director Robin Aubert’s “The Ravenous” (“Les Affames”), an eerily melancholy horror story set in a contemporary Quebec countryside, where the line between life and death is relentlessly smudged and the survival instinct is repeatedly undermined by fatalistic resignation.

To be sure, Aubert plays by the rules of the game when it comes to establishing the particulars of his plot: Flesh-eating zombies of unknown origin infect or devour humans; the creatures can be terminated only with bullets to the head or through the energetic application of sharp instruments; an increasingly desperate and gradually dwindling group of survivors take their last best shot at traveling toward a safe haven.

But »


- Joe Leydon

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Toronto Film Review: ‘Breath’

15 September 2017 5:03 AM, PDT

Having directed several episodes of his own long-running TV vehicle “The Mentalist,” Aussie actor Simon Baker makes a confident transition behind the camera to feature filmmaking with “Breath,” the tale of two teens’ introduction to surfing under an older man’s tutelage. Baker also plays the adult lead, and co-wrote the screenplay adapted from celebrated Oz scribe Tim Winton’s 2008 novel (his 20th). Though not without its flaws, the movie has authenticity and resonance; there have been plenty of good surfing documentaries, but very few good dramas about the sport — a short list on which “Breath” instantly earns a prominent spot.

Winton himself provides lyrical voiceover narration in this flashback account of our main protagonist’s early teens in a small town near the western Australian coast (its time period rendered somewhat vaguer than the mid-’70s of the book). Bruce, aka “Pikelet” (Samson Coulter), is a 13-year-old from a stable home who dutifully attends school. That »


- Dennis Harvey

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Toronto Film Review: ‘Catch the Wind’

15 September 2017 4:26 AM, PDT

Amid ongoing concerns about companies closing factories and outsourcing jobs to maximize profits, “Catch the Wind” offers an unlikely scenario: What if an employee simply followed her job overseas? That idea sounds absurd to everyone but Edith, a textile factory worker who doesn’t think twice about forfeiting her severance, abandoning her home and heading from France to Morocco for a new life. Director Gael Morel shines a light on the appalling labor conditions to come, but “Catch the Wind” isn’t the next “Norma Rae” by any stretch. Instead, it’s a toothless vehicle for the great Sandrine Bonnaire, who plays Edith as a stubborn introvert turned accidental adventuress. The film undergoes a surprising evolution from righteous exposé to picture-postcard travelogue, losing much of its potency in the process.

As her labor union roils at the threat of outsourcing, Edith chooses to keep her head down and continue the punch-clock drudgery of her quality-control job. She »


- Scott Tobias

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Toronto Film Review: ‘Mary Goes Round’

15 September 2017 4:06 AM, PDT

A prodigal daughter returns in “Mary Goes Round,” discovering that the personal problems she’s been studiously ignoring only grow more inescapable in the presence of the estranged family members who more or less caused them. Molly McGlynn’s somewhat autobiographically inspired debut feature bears a certain resemblance to James Ponsoldt’s 2012 “Smashed,” with a similar young, middle-class alcoholic as heroine. But this film is lighter in tone, successfully blending drama and humor in a way that skirts pat dramedy. This modest but winning effort should do well on the festival circuit, and possibly beyond.

Mary (Aya Cash) is a 29-year-old Toronto resident with a serious partying jones. When after a latest inebriate night we see her among an addicts’ support group, we assume she’s ready to mend her ways. Then we realize she’s the meeting’s (not very good) facilitator. Working as a professional substance-abuse counselor gives Mary additional incentive to deny she’s »


- Dennis Harvey

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