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Is Errol Morris’s ‘Wormwood’ a Documentary? Netflix Says Yes, Oscars Say No

16 November 2017 8:50 AM, PST

Errol Morris has been ahead of the curve ever since he broke out with pet cemetery documentary “Gates of Heaven” in 1978. A decade later, “The Thin Blue Line” wowed critics but alienated the hidebound documentary community with its use of “reenactments” and a rousing Philip Glass score. Decades before Netflix created “Making a Murderer,” “The Keepers,” and “Witness,” Morris’ film actually solved a murder mystery and freed an innocent Death Row convict in a Texas prison.

Since then, Glass became a go-to movie composer, earning three Oscar nominations — and could score a fourth for this year’s Oscar documentary frontrunner “Jane.” Reenactments have become standard issue for nonfiction films, filling the void between talking heads, archival footage, cinéma vérité observation, and what isn’t visually available. And Morris isn’t the only filmmaker who is a presence in his films, yelling at his subjects from behind his invention, the Interrotron. »


- Anne Thompson

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‘Mudbound’: Dee Rees, Faith, and the Long Path She Took to Make Her Epic Oscar Contender

13 November 2017 11:26 AM, PST

Dee Rees is a tall woman of fierce charisma. She’s the kind of director who talks fast, ideas coming so quickly that those less inclined can barely keep up. And yet her output has been slow: After Focus Features snapped up her breakout 2011 feature debut “Pariah” at Sundance, it was four years before HBO Film’s Emmy and DGA-award-winning 2015 biopic “Bessie.”

“There’s an assumption that men who do small personal movies can leap to deliver larger things,” said “Bessie” producer Shelby Stone. “It’s much harder for women.”

Finally, we get to see Rees fulfill her promise with “Mudbound,” a Sundance triumph that set the 2017 festival sales record with its $12.5 million sale to Netflix, and opened AFI Fest November 9 after wowing crowds at seven film festivals.

When Rees received the Sundance Next Fest Vanguard Award in August, her presenter, “Pariah” star Kim Wayans, said it best: “The introverted, »


- Anne Thompson

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Quentin Tarantino on His Upcoming Film: ‘It’s not Charles Manson, It’s 1969’

13 November 2017 7:55 AM, PST

“It’s not Charles Manson, it’s 1969,” cautioned Quentin Tarantino at an award-season post-screening brunch at Estrella on Sunset for Sofia Coppola’s “The Beguiled” (Focus Features). The writer-director is looking for a new home for his ninth movie, now that he has withdrawn from scandal-plagued patron Harvey Weinstein, who has backed his features since 1992’s “Reservoir Dogs.”

Tarantino just completed a round of pitch meetings last week set by WME from five studios (not including family-friendly Disney) with worldwide distribution seeking to back his untitled Manson Family Project, which he finished writing about five months ago, he said. (The cast is rumored to include Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate and Tarantino vets Brad Pitt, Samuel L. Jackson, and Leonardo DiCaprio.) He wasn’t ready to take the director’s helm until »


- Anne Thompson

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