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Film Review: ‘Leatherface’

5 hours ago

Considering the game-changing stature of Tobe Hooper’s 1974 original in the annals of horror cinema, it’s odd that “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” has had such a peculiar, erratic life in franchise terms. Odder still then that after so many re-inventions of this particular wheel, to varying artistic and box-office rewards, that “Leatherface” should quietly premiere on DirecTV a month before being dumped into a handful of U.S. theaters on Oct. 20.

Written by Seth M. Sherwood and directed by the French duo Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo (“Inside”), this “origin story” is a somewhat mixed bag. But it’s also an earnest and well-crafted attempt at course-correction, straying from stock slasher recyclage to provide a different story that actually connects a few dots in the very tangled cinematic “Chainsaw” universe to date. Particularly given the angry popular rejection just handed genre rule-breaker “Mother!,” you’d think this respectable addition to an uneven but name-brand horror pic »


- Dennis Harvey

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Film Review: Stephen King’s ‘1922’

6 hours ago

Every generation gets its own version of “The Tell-Tale Heart,” but “1922” — writer-director Zak Hilditch’s workmanlike adaptation of the novella by Stephen King — almost certainly is the first iteration of Edgar Allen Poe’s classic story to include voracious rodents, hapless cows and a Bonnie and Clyde-like pair of young bank robbers.

Hilditch deserves credit for generating and sustaining suspense throughout a slow-burning drama that is more fatalistically tragic than traditionally horrific, and for delivering the goods when old-fashioned shocks are called for. In fact, it’s no small measure of the movie’s overall effectiveness that one can easily overlook, if not unreservedly forgive, a few fleeting moments when vermin balanced on their hind legs are only marginally scarier than the rodent gourmet in “Ratatouille.”

Right from the start, we know things aren’t going to turn out well for Wilfred James (Thomas Jane), a haggard and haunted fellow who checks into an inelegant Omaha »


- Joe Leydon

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San Sebastián: Suárez, López, Verdaguer Board ‘7 Reasons’ (Exclusive)

6 hours ago

San Sebastian –Emma Suárez, star of Pedro Almodóvar’s ”Julieta” and Michael Franco’s “April’s Daughter,” Sergi López, who toplined Guillermo del Toro’s “Pans Labyrinth,” and David Verdaguer, who features in Spain’s Oscar entry  “Summer 1993,” are on board black comedy “7 Reasons to Run Away,” a first feature co-directed by Esteve Soler, Gerard Quinto, and David Torras.

Suárez is a member of the 65th San Sebastian Festival’s main jury, presided by John Malkovich.

Barcelona-based, young companies Compacto and No Hay Banda are re-teaming on “7 Reasons” after having co-produced Sergi Pérez’s “The Long Way Home,” which won best Catalan-language feature at Catalonia’s Gaudi Awards.

Its screenplay is penned by playwright and director Esteve Soler, whose last three stage plays (“Against Progress,” “Against Democracy” and “Against Love”) have been staged in more than twenty countries.

“7 Reasons” offers “a very contemporary canvas of society structured through seven different stories tackling the family, private »


- Emilio Mayorga

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San Sebastián: Film Factory Swoops on Witchcraft Thriller ’Akelarre’ (Exclusive)

7 hours ago

San Sebastian — In one of the early deals to be announced out of the 65th San Sebastian Film Festival, which bowed Sept. 22 with the European premiere of Wim Wenders’ “Submergence,” starring Alicia Vikander and James McAvoy, Film Factory Entertainment has swooped on “Akelarre,” a flagship Basque project at this year’s Festival.

Currently in development, “Akelarre” will be presented Sunday at San Sebastian’s 2017 Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum, where it weighs in as one of the Forum’s highest-profile projects.

A thriller, Akelarre is directed by Pablo Agüero, whose first short, “Primera Nieve,” won a 2006 Cannes Festival Jury Prize; “Salamndra,” his first feature, made the 2008 Cannes Directors’ Fortnight cut: “Eva Doesn’t Sleep” was selected for San Sebastián’s 2015 main competition.

Akelarre is produced by Sorkin Films, a new joint tax break investment vehicle launched last year by Koldo Zuazua’s San Sebastián-based Kowalski Films and Iker Ganuza co-headed Lamia Producciones, based out of Zarauz. »


- John Hopewell

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Pablo and Juan de Dios Larrain’s Fabula Sets Up U.S. Company (Exclusive)

7 hours ago

San Sebastian – Fabula, one of Latin America’s high-profile producers, run by “Jackie” director Pablo Larraín and producer Juan de Dios Larraín, has set up a U.S. company to make English-language movies by its filmmakers from Latin America and Europe.

News of the move comes two months before Fabula, to date based just out of Santiago, Chile, goes into production on its first full-on U.S. project, a remake of Sebastián Lelio’s “Gloria,” starring Julianne Moore and directed by Lelio himself. Pre-production and production on “Gloria” will be carried out in the U.S., and post-production in Santiago, Pablo Larrain told Variety from Chile. Juan de Dios Larraín has relocated to Los Angeles to head up the new production company, called Fabula, whose offices open Monday.

The U.S production base is a milestone for one of Latin America’s most admired production companies, whose marquee directors Larraín and Lelio have already crossed into U »


- John Hopewell

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San Sebastian Film Review: ‘Memoir of Pain’

8 hours ago

“Words don’t describe what eyes have seen,” we’re told in “Memoir of Pain,” esteemed French writer-director Emmanuel Finkiel’s notably ambitious interpretation of Marguerite Duras’s autobiographical novel “The War: A Memoir.” It’s perhaps an unexpected line to hear in a literary adaptation that remains in thrall to its imposing source text throughout, which is not to say that the camera doesn’t try some tricky visual articulation of its own. Several impressionistic, shadow-boxing passages of reverie punctuate the more straightforward storytelling in this account of a young French Resistance writer’s agonized wait for her husband to return from Nazi capture: Large as its historical canvas is, the film is most artful as an interior evocation of a preemptively grieving state of mind. If, at over two hours, it is an undeniably onerous watch, that is by design: Finkiel’s film certainly understands the taxing nature of sorrow.

Published »


- Guy Lodge

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Mel Brooks: ‘Blazing Saddles’ Would Never Be Made in Today’s ‘Stupidly Politically Correct’ Culture

15 hours ago

Blazing Saddles” may be a groundbreaking comedy, but director Mel Brooks doesn’t think Hollywood would make the iconic Western parody in this current “stupidly politically correct” climate.

The Oscar winner discussed PC culture in a recent interview with BBC Radio 4, calling it “the death of comedy.”

“No, no, I mean maybe ‘Young Frankenstein.’ Maybe a few. But never ‘Blazing Saddles,’ because we have become stupidly politically correct, which is the death of comedy,” he said when asked if he thinks he could get films like “Blazing Saddles,” “The Producers,” or “Young Frankenstein” made today. “It’s okay not to hurt feelings of various tribes and groups. However, it’s not good for comedy. Comedy has to walk a thin line, take risks. Comedy is the lecherous little elf whispering into the king’s ear, always telling the truth about human behavior.”

Blazing Saddles,” a Western spoof about a black sheriff in a racist town, starring »


- Maane Khatchatourian

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Han Solo Movie: Ron Howard Teases ‘Desperate and Dangerous Times’ in Photos

16 hours ago

It’s “desperate and dangerous times” in the galaxy far, far away.

Director Ron Howard teased the “Star Wars” Han Solo spinoff early Saturday morning with dreary images from the upcoming film.

“Shooting a scene about desperate and dangerous times in the Galaxy,” Howard captioned a foggy set photo, prompting fan theories that the photographed scene is set on Kessel, a planet known for its spice mines.

Shooting a scene about desperate and dangerous times in the Galaxy pic.twitter.com/AtNZPOkzFO

Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) September 23, 2017

The speculation comes after the director shared another image on Wednesday captioned, “Spicey?”

Spicey? pic.twitter.com/dLhop8S60T

Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) September 20, 2017

He also posted a different picture with the same cryptic caption on Instagram.

Howard took over as director after the movie’s original helmers, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, were fired, after clashing with producer/Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy and co-writer/executive producer Lawrence Kasdan.

The »


- Maane Khatchatourian

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San Sebastian Film Review: ‘The Charmer’

20 hours ago

The visa-motivated courtship of convenience has been the subject of many a romantic comedy, though when you consider the bleak reality of the situation, it’s hardly a laughing matter: For one’s life and location to hang in the balance, determined by cold governmental paperwork and the fickle whims of a stranger’s heart, is a quandary likelier to end in despair than delight. “The Charmer,” an accomplished, deceptively titled debut feature from Danish-based Iranian filmmaker Milad Alami, treats the situation with anxious gravity, following an Iranian immigrant in Denmark as he trawls the singles-bar circuit in desperate pursuit of a ticket to remain. What seems a premise for an earnest social-issue drama is darkened and complicated, however, by a progressively noir-ish strain of morally elusive mystery — enhancing the international distribution prospects of a topical, tightly wound slow-burner.

A note of troubling discord is struck from the enigmatic first scene of “The Charmer,” as »


- Guy Lodge

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Box Office: ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ Dominates With $40 Million

23 hours ago

Spy comedy “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is heading for a solid $40 million opening weekend at 4,003 North American sites, estimates showed Saturday.

The third weekend of horror blockbuster “It” continues to scare up impressive business with a projected $30 million at 4,007 locations, followed by the launch of Warner Bros.’ animated comedy “The Lego Ninjago Movie” with about $21 million at 4,047 locations — well under recent forecasts. Still, with three films over $20 million, the overall box office represents a continued rebound for the movie business following a dismal late summer.

Independent horror movie “Friend Request” is showing little traction in its launch weekend with an estimated $2.2 million at 2,550 venues. Jake Gyllenhaal’s “Stronger,” a biopic on Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman, is opening with a moderate $1.6 million at 574 sites for Roadside Attractions.

Fox’s “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is performing in line with expectations, two years after “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” The sequel brings back original stars Taron Egerton, Colin Firth »


- Dave McNary

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San Sebastián: Angel Amigo, José Luis Egea Team for Luis Cernuda Movie ‘Desterrados’ (Exclusive)

23 September 2017 6:40 AM, PDT

San Sebastian — Producer Angel Amigo, a driving force with Imanol Uribe behind Basque Cinema’s early 80’s first flowering, is teaming with José Luis Egea – co-director with Victor Erice of 1969’s San Sebastián Silver Shell winner “Los Desafíos” – to make “Desterrados,” a fiction feature centered on Luis Cernuda, one of Spain’s greatest modern poets.

“Desterrados” marks one of a string of Basque projects which seek to explore Basque Country identity, historical and current, within a European context.

Also written by Egea, “Desterrados” turns on Cernuda’s first exile and friendship, when he worked as a monitor for Basque Spanish Civil War evacuees in southern England, with one of them, José Sobrino. This was the bonding of two outcasts – Cernuda, a Republican and homosexual, and Sobrino, a refugee from the Basque Country. which Nazi Germany’s Condor Region used to test their blitzkrieg tactics, and the son of a humble metal-worker.

Sobrino »


- John Hopewell

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Judge Denies Director’s Bid to Seize and Destroy ‘The Professor and the Madman’

22 September 2017 3:36 PM, PDT

A judge on Friday denied director Farhad Safinia’s request to seize and destroy a producer’s cut of “The Professor and the Madman,” the Mel Gibson film about the Oxford English Dictionary.

Safinia says he was thrown off the film after Voltage Pictures refused his request to shoot five additional days at Oxford University. He filed a lawsuit accusing Voltage of defamation and copyright infringement, and asked for a restraining order to block Voltage from shopping the film to distributors.

But in her ruling Friday, Judge Consuelo Marshall rejected the request, saying Safinia had not demonstrated a likelihood of prevailing on the merits of the dispute. Safinia claims that he owns the copyright to the September 2016 version of the screenplay, and that he never subsequently assigned the rights to Voltage.

Voltage counters that Safinia had already given up his copyright to earlier drafts of the film’s screenplay under a “work made for hire” agreement, and »


- Gene Maddaus

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Film Review: ‘Pin Cushion’

22 September 2017 12:25 PM, PDT

Cinema was littered with tales of teenage mean girls well before Tina Fey put a tidy name to their ilk in 2004 — rarer, however, are stories that extend their reign of terror decades past the prom. Achingly fragile and genuinely, preciously peculiar, British writer-director Deborah Haywood’s first feature “Pin Cushion” ambitiously examines the psychological damage wrought by bullying at all ages, admitting the painful truth that for some of those mean girls and their beleaguered victims, growing older does not mean growing up. Given human grounding by the wonderful Joanna Scanlan, as a timidly eccentric single mother seeing her naive adolescent daughter slip into the same hellish social no-woman’s-land from which she has never escaped, Haywood’s filmmaking itself marches to a different drummer. That’s a mixed blessing: Cinematically, “Pin Cushion” goes all in on a heightened, macramé-and-macaroons aesthetic that occasionally smothers the rawer nerves of its storytelling.

Having »


- Guy Lodge

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No Wonder ‘It’ Is a Smash Hit: It’s the World’s Most Deluxe Freddy Krueger Movie

22 September 2017 12:13 PM, PDT

When I finally caught up with the smash-hit horror film “It,” it wasn’t hard to divine the secret of the movie’s success: It’s a spooky but reassuringly programmed terror app — the world’s most deluxe Freddy Krueger film. It’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street 8” with Stephen King benefits. Pennywise, the monster clown who shows up at regular intervals to terrify a handful of 13-year-olds in small-town Maine (at a running time of two hours and 15 minutes, that’s a lot of intervals), is a demon jester who laughs at everything, including his own image. Rabbity and carrot-topped, like Bozo crossed with Klaus Nomi, and with a face that opens up into nightmare jaws, he turns jolts into jokes and jokes into bloody mischief. He’s the film’s icon of superstar evil, and also its ringleader (Step right up and see how wide my jaw will bend!), and »


- Owen Gleiberman

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Bradley Cooper-Lady Gaga’s ‘Star Is Born’ Moves to May 2018

22 September 2017 11:30 AM, PDT

Warner Bros.’ “A Star Is Born” remake starring Stefani Germanotta (Lady Gaga) and Bradley Cooper, who is also directing, is moving up its release to May 18, 2018.

The pic was originally set to open Sept. 28, 2018 but the studio sees it as a strong counter-programming move by putting it in the midst of summer tentpoles. The studio pulled a similar move when it pushed its “Great Gatsby” remake starring Leonardo DiCaprio from December to May, which worked in its favor as the film went to gross more then $300 million worldwide. The film will go up against an untitled Laika production and Screen Gems’ “Slenderman” pic.

Cooper will play Jackson Maine, a country music star who discovers a talented unknown named Ally (Germanotta). As Ally’s career quickly eclipses his own, Jack struggles to accept that his best days may be behind him, putting a strain on their budding romance.

Previous versions of the film include the 1937 film with Fredric March »


- Justin Kroll

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Billy Eichner in Talks to Join Anna Kendrick’s Female Santa Claus Film (Exclusive)

22 September 2017 10:52 AM, PDT

Billy Eichner is in negotiations to join Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader in Disney’s female Santa Claus film “Nicole,” sources tell Variety.

Miss Congeniality” scribe Marc Lawrence is directing and writing the script.

Related

Billy Eichner’s ‘Billy on the Street’ to Leave TruTV

The movie revolves around Santa’s daughter, presumably the titular Nicole, who is forced to take over the family business when her father retires and brother ends up getting cold feet prior to his first big Christmas Eve flight. Eichner’s role is unknown at this time.

Suzanne Todd is producing, while Louie Provost is overseeing the project for Disney. Production is expected to start sometime this fall. The film hits theaters on Nov. 8, 2019.

Related

Watch ‘Billy on the Street’ Shower Anna Kendrick with Katy Perry Trivia

While this movie is not related to Disney’s “The Santa Clause” trilogy starring Tim Allen, the studio seems to be in the Kris Kringle »


- Justin Kroll

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Martin Scorsese to Teach First-Ever Online Filmmaking Class

22 September 2017 10:33 AM, PDT

Legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese is launching an internet-based course in making movies — his first foray into e-learning.

The Oscar-winning director will debut the class in early 2018 through online-education startup MasterClass. The class costs $90 for unlimited access to more than 20 video lessons; pre-enrollment is available starting Friday at masterclass.com/ms.

In addition to the videos, Scorsese’s MasterClass course will include a downloadable workbook with lesson recaps and supplemental material. Students enrolled in the class will be able to upload video questions to Scorsese, who will provide feedback to select students.

“I was excited by this project because it gave me a chance to pass down my own inspirations and experiences and practices and evolutions,” Scorsese said in a statement, “not as a blueprint for how to make movies but as a guidepost, an offering to young people attempting to find their own way.”

Over a 50-plus career, the New York City native has produced a legion »


- Todd Spangler

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Ron Perlman Talks About His Early Career, Taking on Makeup-Heavy Roles Like ‘Hellboy’

22 September 2017 10:15 AM, PDT

Hollywood has long recognized Ron Perlman for being unrecognizable. Some of his most iconic roles — including “Hellboy,” “Quest of Fire” and the late-1980s CBS series “Beauty and the Beast” — required extensive, transformative makeup and prosthetics. The actor is returning to television, a medium he describes as “the one area where the storytelling is really rich, really deep and really human,” to join the Crackle drama “Startup” in the series’ second season, which premieres Sept. 28. Perlman’s initial break in the industry came not from television or film, but in the Tommy Tune-directed stage musical “Sunset,” which led to his first mention in Variety on Oct. 5, 1977.

What was it like auditioning for Tommy Tune?

I was wired early in my career for failure. So anytime anyone liked what I did, much less actually hired me, it was a shock. Tommy Tune was a singular validation that I had never experienced before.

What »


- Rebecca Rubin

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San Sebastian Film Festival Boosts Emerging Talent

22 September 2017 10:00 AM, PDT

Spain’s San Sebastián Film Festival, among the high-profile movie events in the Spanish-speaking world, is framing a revolution, in both its role as a film festival and the vision of key new films of the young from Colombia, to the U.S. to southernmost Chile rebelling against a powerless, inept or tyrannical establishment and forging their own destinies.

Both moves, plus San Sebastian’s multiple sections focusing entirely or largely on rising talent, look increasingly important as arthouse cinema, aside from festival attendance, appears to have lost much of its young-adult audience.

“In my opinion, film festivals are undergoing deep transformation,” says José Luis Rebordinos, San Sebastian director since 2011.

The biggest events — Cannes, Berlin, Venice — can still play the traditional role of hosting world premieres. Others, however, such as San Sebastián, while showcasing new films, will have to “work other fields” becoming “a year-round event,” he adds.

Already, San Sebastián co-organizes a six-week Ikusmira Berriak residency »


- John Hopewell

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San Sebastián: Alicia Vikander on ‘Submergence,’ Modern Love and Women in Cinema

22 September 2017 9:20 AM, PDT

In an early flashback in “Submergence,” Wim Wenders’ latest film starring Alicia Vikander and James McAvoy, McAvoy’s James More, a British spy, jogs manfully past Vikander’s Danielle Flinders on a romantic Atlantic beach in France.

He suggests lunch. And that is about the last time in their courtship and seduction that he, a prototype man of action, really makes the moves. It’s Danny who keeps him waiting for lunch, because of her work, moves their table conversation from professional to personal, squeals “chicken!” when she has opened her hotel bedroom door and he doesn’t react, pulls him gracefully into her bedroom; and leads in their foreplay.

That, Vikander said presenting the film at San Sebastian with Wenders, was however par for the course for modern love. “Maybe for a young generation that is reality in the sense that it can be both ways. It’s about personality not gender.”

At »


- John Hopewell and Jamie Lang

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