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Toronto Film Review: ‘Razzia’

4 hours ago

If political courage were a measure of artistic merit, Moroccan director Nabil Arouch’s “Razzia,” a kaleidoscopic drama about intolerance and social tumult in Casablanca, would be a formidable achievement. As it stands, Arouch’s decision to keep courting controversy after his last film, “Much Loved,” was banned from Morocco for its depiction of prostitution in Marrakech is laudable in a country where the censors hold sway. Yet the everything-is-connected framework, linking five stories across a 30-year span, plays like a multipronged pitchfork wielded against the establishment, with each character sharpened to a point. The message-first approach drains the film of spontaneity and depth, despite the rousing passion of its director. A prime spot in Tiff’s Platform competition will raise its profile, but “Razzia” may struggle to find a home, inside and outside Morocco.

With repeated references to “Casablanca,” Arouch draws a contrast between the romantic and rebellious spirit of the Humphrey Bogart-Ingrid Bergman classic »


- Scott Tobias

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Toronto Film Review: ‘Jane’

4 hours ago

Few living figures outside the realm of religion, politics or entertainment have enjoyed such widespread affection and respect for as long as primatologist Jane Goodall. So it’s somewhat flummoxing to be reminded in Brett Morgen’s new documentary how she was originally treated as a public person: as a “girl scientist” “playing Tarzan” in the jungle, with more ink spilled on her blond hair and long legs than on the breakthrough research that would change how we viewed not only chimpanzees but humanity.

That condescending tenor, sampled in fleeting flashback, is dismissed with a snort by the now 83-year-old subject of “Jane.” Never particularly interested in talking about herself — a matter on which she is characteristically straightforward and plainspoken here — she used the celebrity thrust upon her, then as now, strictly to gain support for her work and causes. Nonetheless, “Jane” provides as much insight as we might hope for (in visual media at least) into »


- Dennis Harvey

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Warner Bros. Signs First-Look Deal With French Company Marvelous Productions (Exclusive)

5 hours ago

Paris – Warner Bros. has signed a first-look deal with Marvelous Productions, the Paris-based outfit launched at Cannes by former top-level execs at Pathé, Romain Le Grand and Vivien Aslanian and producer Marco Pacchioni.

Under the pact, Warner Bros. will have the opportunity to board any French-language project produced or co-produced by Marvelous Productions. The agreement underscores the Hollywood studio’s aim to increase its footprint in local production with strong partners.

“We have a deep respect for the talent and professionalism of the founders of Marvelous Productions, and we are convinced of their ability to deliver quality films that have a wide appeal,” said Iris Knobloch, president of Warner Bros. France.

Over the last few years, Warners Bros. has backed several French movies, most notably Michel Hazanavicius’s Oscar-winning film “The Artist” (pictured).

Le Grand and Aslanian were at the helm of Pathé for 19 years before exiting in 2016. Together, they produced and distributed many franchise-based French comedies »


- Elsa Keslassy

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Laos Selects ‘Dearest Sister’ as First Foreign-Language Oscar Submission

7 hours ago

Horror-thriller, “Dearest Sister” has been selected by Laos as its first submission of a film in the Academy Awards foreign-language category. The film is directed by Mattie Do, regarded as one of Asia’s hottest new film-making talents.

The story follows an in impoverished young woman who moves to the city to take care of a wealthy older cousin. The older woman is losing her sight, but increasingly able to communicate with ghosts who provide them with a helpful set of numbers.

The Oscars submission decision was taken by a newly formed AMPAS Selection Committee, made up of six Laos film professionals. Logistical support was provided by the Luang Prabang Film Festival, a celebration of South East Asian cinema held annually in Luang Prabang, the cultural capital of Laos, (aka Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic).

The film is a co-production between Lao Art Media (Laos), France’s Screen Division and Estonia’s Oree Films.

Do, »


- Patrick Frater

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John August Tops Voting in Writers Guild West Election, Incumbents Dominate

8 hours ago

Writers Guild of America West members have given screenwriter John August the most votes for a two-year board seat and re-elected incumbents Andrea Berloff, Luvh Rakhe, Meredith Stiehm, and Zak Penn.

Nicole Yorkin, Angelina Burnett, and Michele Mulroney were also elected to board seats and incumbent secretary-treasurer Aaron Mendelsohn easily won re-election.

Results were released Monday night. David A. Goodman officially became the new WGA West president after running unopposed, succeeding Howard Rodman, who opted not to seek re-election. Goodman had been selected by the guild’s nominating committee as a candidate to succeed Rodman and was unopposed, as another unnamed candidate selected by the nominating committee declined to run.

Related

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Marjorie David, a WGA West board member, was elected vice president after having been nominated by the committee to succeed Goodman. Another unnamed candidate declined to run against her.

The ninth finisher, »


- Dave McNary

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Netflix Hip-Hop Movie ‘The After Party,’ Starring Kyle, Wiz Khalifa, French Montana, Begins Production

10 hours ago

Def Pictures has teamed with Live Nation Productions, WorldStar Hip Hop, and Hunting Lane Films for the Netflix comedy “The After Party.” Principal photography has begun on the coming-of-age film, which is written and directed by Ian Edelman (“How to Make It in America”). It is Live Nation’s first scripted production.

The movie has a music business theme, following two buddies looking to land a record deal before one heads to college and the other to the military. The story takes place during “one wild night,” but will shoot for six weeks in New York, including on location at The Meadows Music and Arts Festival at Citi Field in Queens, and a live concert at the Gramercy Theater.

The film stars Kyle Harvey (better known as the artist Kyle), Teyana Taylor, Jordan RockWiz KhalifaFrench Montana, Blair Underwood, Harrison Holzer (“Better Living Through Chemistry,” “Sex Tape”), and Shelley Hennig (“Teen Wolf”), and will feature a »


- Shirley Halperin

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Film Review: ‘Under the Tree’

11 hours ago

It has the escalating, claustrophobic structure of the darkest farce, but humor doesn’t pile up in “Under the Tree” so much as it bleeds out. In the course of Icelandic writer-director Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson’s memorably mordant third feature, savage black comedy passes almost imperceptibly into stunned, visceral tragedy — like a laugh turning in the throat and coming out as a choke. Charting an initially familiar battle of across-the-fence attrition between bad neighbors in polite surroundings, Sigurdsson gradually takes petty bourgeois tensions to alien, gasp-worthy extremes; what the film occasionally lacks in human finesse, it makes up for in sheer anything-goes resolve. The bleakness of its blackness might not portend a major crossover hit, but on the strength of both its universality and its singular Scandi irony, “Under the Tree” should spread its branches into international arthouses.

Columbia graduate Sigurdsson’s 2011 debut feature “Either Way” wasn’t widely released beyond the festival circuit, but »


- Guy Lodge

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Elisabeth Moss to Star in Simon Curtis’ Women Rights Drama ‘Call Jane’

13 hours ago

Hot on the heels of her Emmy win for best actress in a drama series for her role in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Elisabeth Moss has found her first feature follow-up to the hit series with the indie “Call Jane.”

“My Week With Marilyn” director Simon Curtis will helm the film.

Related

Elisabeth Moss Drops Two F-Bombs After Winning First Emmy

The screenplay, based on the true story of a 1960s movement called the Jane Collective, was written by Hayley Schore and Roshan Sethi. Robbie Brenner is producing the indie along with Jeff Kwatinetz and Kevin McKeon of The Firm.

The movie — set in 1960s Chicago — focuses on an underground network of suburban women who secretly provided safe abortions for women before the landmark decision Roe v. Wade.

Moss will play the title character, a married woman who becomes pregnant unexpectedly and turns to the group of women for help.

Moss »


- Justin Kroll

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Judi Dench in Talks to Join Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Artemis Fowl’ Movie Adaptation (Exclusive)

14 hours ago

Judi Dench is in early talks to join Disney’s “Artemis Fowl” movie adaptation from director Kenneth Branagh.

Written by Eoin Colfer, the children’s books follow the brilliant and cunning 12-year-old eponymous criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl II, whose plot to extort gold from the secret Fairy People puts him directly in the crosshairs of some of the most dangerous creatures on earth. Over the course of the book series, Fowl becomes an antihero rather than a full-fledged villain, often working together with the fairies to stop a slew of treacherous megalomaniacs.

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Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Judi Dench Among Stars Boarding ‘Murder on the Orient Express

Irish playwright Conor McPherson is on board to pen the script. Disney recently dated the film for Aug. 9, 2019.

Harvey Weinstein and Branagh are attached to produce. Judy Hofflund will exec produce. Seth Spector is overseeing the film for The Weinstein Company, and Tendo Nagenda and Chaz Salembier are overseeing it »


- Justin Kroll

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Film Review: ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’

14 hours ago

As if the original “Kingsman” weren’t cartoony enough, with its blade-legged lady assassin and gratuitous exploding-heads finale, the sequel has gone and pushed the franchise’s cheeky brand of absurdity even farther. The goofiness begins with the resurrection of two important characters, whose unequivocal deaths we witnessed in the first movie. First, there’s Charlie, a rival secret-service recruit played by Edward Holcroft, who lost his head in that notorious fireworks montage, now back with a bionic arm and a new boss (more on that in a minute). And then there’s Colin Firth’s character, impeccably dressed spy-master Harry Hart, who took a point-blank bullet to the eye — and here lives to tell about it.

Firth was the second-best thing about the 2015 scally-spy movie, a super-stylized surprise hit from “Kick-Ass” director Matthew Vaughn that racked up a cool $414 million worldwide, and Harry Hart’s death was a loss. But »


- Peter Debruge

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‘I, Tonya’ to Close 2017 Hamptons Film Festival

15 hours ago

I, Tonya,” Craig Gillespie’s film following Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding’s fall from grace, will have its U.S. premiere as the closing night screening of the 2017 Hamptons International Film Festival.

The 25th anniversary festival will also host a special event for Jordan Peele’s breakout “Get Out,” to explore scenes from the film and open conversations about its theme. Peele and his fellow “Get Out” producers Jason Blum and Sean McKittrick, along with stars Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams, will be in attendance.

The full slate of the festival includes Joe Wright’s “Darkest Hour” starring Gary Oldman; Reginald Hudlin’s “Marshall” starring Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Sterling K. Brown, and Kate Hudson; Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)” starring Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, Dustin Hoffman, and Emma Thompson; and Todd Haynes’ “Wonderstruck” starring Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams.

Related

Itzhak Perlman Documentary to Open Hamptons Film Festival

The World Cinema »


- Rebecca Rubin

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10 Best Movies of the 2017 Toronto Film Festival

16 hours ago

Picking the 10 best films from a festival as big as Toronto — with more than 200 features unveiled to North American audiences for the first time — means zeroing in on the absolute best of the best, and though this year’s edition left Variety critics Owen Gleiberman and Peter Debruge without the kind of breakthrough discoveries that have made past editions so exciting (remember, last year yielded “Moonlight,” “La La Land,” and “Arrival,” to name just three), there’s no question that some of 2017’s best work was unveiled over the past 10 days in Toronto.

Related stories'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' Wins Toronto Film Festival Audience AwardToronto Film Review: 'The Lodgers'Toronto Film Review: 'Sheikh Jackson' »


- Peter Debruge and Owen Gleiberman

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Clive Davis Documentary ‘The Soundtrack of Our Lives’ Premieres on Apple Music Oct. 3 (Watch Trailer)

17 hours ago

The documentary “Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives,” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival back in April, will debut exclusively on Apple Music on October 3, with a limited theatrical release in select cities starting on September 27.

The film, which was directed by Chris Perkel, examines Davis’ life and career in great detail. Davis, now 85, began his career as an attorney and was hired by Columbia Records, a client of the firm for which he worked, in 1960. He rose through the ranks and was appointed president of the label in 1967, and shortly afterward experienced an epiphany at the Monterey Pop Festival (the 50th anniversary of which is coming up in June), coming away with not just a vision of the burgeoning rock revolution, but also a contract for Janis Joplin. »


- Variety Staff

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Variety’s 10 Documakers to Watch

18 hours ago

Now marking its third year, Variety’s annual 10 Documakers to Watch list has already seen two of its previous honorees go on to win Oscars, while another two have won Emmys. As much as we’d love to take credit for our foresight, the fact of the matter is that the nonfiction world has become a fount of exciting and remarkable new voices, and this year presented us with so many worthy names that selecting a list of 10 was a steep challenge — but these filmmakers stood out for their boldness, uniqueness, and promise.

For the first time this year, five of Variety’s Documaker honorees will be present for a panel at Independent Filmmaker Project’s Ifp Week, with Variety’s Senior Film and Media Editor Brent Lang moderating a discussion, “Making Documentaries in the Current Political Landscape,” on Tuesday, Sept. 19 at Ifp Week in New York.

“Film Week in general is an amazing co-production market for »


- Variety Staff

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Andrea Arnold to Preside Over Les Arcs European Film Festival Jury

19 hours ago

Andrea Arnold, the critically acclaimed British director of “American Honey,” is set to preside over the jury of the 9th Les Arcs European Film Festival.

The festival, which takes place in the French Alps, has been compared to Sundance for its showcase of European independent cinema and South by Southwest for its mix of films and live music programming. Frederic Boyer, who is the artistic director of Tribeca Film Festival, is also in charge of the Les Arcs festival’s feature film lineup.

Arnold’s most recent film, “American Honey,” a drama with Sasha Lane and Shia Labeouf, won the Jury Prize at Cannes last year. The helmer had won Cannes’ jury prize twice before, with her feature debut, “Red Road,” and her second film, “Fish Tank.” Both films also won BAFTA awards. Her third film, “Wuthering Heights,” competed at Venice in 2011.

Arnold also received an Academy Award for best live-action short with “Wasp” in 2005.

The other »


- Elsa Keslassy

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‘A Man of Integrity’ Director Mohammad Rasoulof Gets Passport Confiscated in Tehran

19 hours ago

Mohammad Rasoulof, one of Iran’s most prominent filmmakers, whose latest movie “A Man of Integrity” won this year’s Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes, had his passport confiscated upon his return to Tehran from the Telluride Film Festival. The incident occurred at Tehran Airport last Friday; Rasoulof was ordered to attend a court hearing.

“A Man of Integrity” lays bare the corruption and injustice in Iran through the journey of a man driven by his uncompromising desire for justice. Rasoulof told Reuters in Cannes that he had received the permission to shoot the film from Iranian authorities, but “only after signing a paper promising it would not be completely ‘dark.'”

A politically engaged director, Rasoulof has clashed with the Iranian government before. In 2011, the year he won two prizes at Cannes with “Goodbye,” he was sentenced with fellow director Jafar Panahi to six years in prison and a 20-year ban on filmmaking for alleged »


- Elsa Keslassy

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John Woo, Alex Gibney Movies Added to London Film Festival Lineup

20 hours ago

John Woo’s Japan-set police thriller “Manhunt” and Alex Gibney’s nonfiction murder mystery “No Stone Unturned” are among new additions to the lineup of this year’s BFI London Film Festival.

No Stone Unturned” will be in the Debate strand at Lff, where it will make its international premiere. It reopens the case of the Loughinisland massacre in Northern Ireland in the 1990s. The film was set to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year but was pulled at the last minute because of legal issues.

Manhunt” sees Woo return to the police-thriller genre that helped seal his international reputation. The film centers on a lawyer who finds himself suspected of murder and on the run from a Japanese police officer.

Also added to the festival lineup is Xavier Legrand’s “Custody,” which scooped the Best Director and Best First Feature awards s at the Venice Film Festival earlier this month and follows a »


- Stewart Clarke

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China’s Tencent Pictures Ratchets Up Role as Next Generation Film, TV Powerhouse

18 September 2017 4:00 AM, PDT

Tencent Pictures, the film-making arm of Chinese Internet giant Tencent, has unveiled a 43-title production, distribution and investment slate for 2018, including “Zombie Brother,” co-produced with Channing Tatum and Reid Carolin’s Free Association. The lineup is further evidence of Tencent’s intention to become a major content producer in addition to its role as a distribution and marketing platform.

If Chinese cinema’s recent up-and-down year is supposed to have dented the ambition of local film groups, this represents pushback by a company confident that its multimedia approach can take it much further than its rivals. Of the 43 projects, 20 are feature films; the rest are animation, TV series and made-for-Internet shows.

The announcement Sunday night at a glitzy event in Beijing marked the second anniversary of Tencent Pictures, just one of social-media-and-games giant Tencent’s initiatives in mainstream film and TV entertainment. Held at the spectacular Phoenix Center, the gathering was a tightly choreographed affair, with »


- Patrick Frater

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Cambodia Picks Angelina Jolie’s ‘First They Killed My Father’ as Oscar Contender

18 September 2017 2:24 AM, PDT

Angelina Jolie’s “First They Killed My Father” has been picked to represent Cambodia as the Southeast Asian nation’s contender in the foreign-language Oscar category.

The film, an adaptation of Loung Ung’s survivor tale, is a drama set during the brutal Khmer Rouge era. It had its premiere last month at the Telluride film festival, where it received largely positive coverage.

The awards selection announcement was made by the Cambodian Oscar Selection Committee.

Jolie holds dual U.S. and Cambodian nationality and has adopted a Cambodia-born son. She was awarded Cambodian citizenship in 2005 in recognition of her environmental protection role.

The film was financed by streaming giant Netflix, but was last week confirmed as being set for a small theatrical run in North America. That could make it eligible for awards contention in other categories as well as the  foreign-language section.

Related storiesLaos Selects 'Dearest Sister' as First Foreign-Language Oscar SubmissionDesert Drama 'Saawan' Selected by »


- Patrick Frater

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Korea Box Office: ‘Murderer’ Stays on Top, ‘Baby Driver’ Debuts in Second

18 September 2017 1:32 AM, PDT

Local crime thriller, “Memoir of a Murderer” remained on top of the South Korean box office in its second weekend. The Showbox release earned $3.61 million from 484,000 admissions between Friday and Sunday for a total of $14.8 million after two weekends.

Other than “Memoir,” foreign titles dominated the top-ten chart. Opening on Thursday, British action thriller, “Baby Driver” debuted in second. The Sony release earned $3.12 million over four days. Another Thursday opener, Upi’s “American Made” landed in third. The Tom Cruise-starring action drama earned $1.91 million.

“It” and “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” slipped to fourth and fifth from the previous week’s second and third, respectively. Warner Bros.’ “It” earned $882,000 between Friday and Sunday, incurring a week-on-week drop of 72%. The horror movie has earned $5.94 million after two weekends. “Bodyguard” earned $907,000 for a total of $11 million after three weekends on release.

A Monster Calls” landed in sixth. Locally distributed by Lotte Entertainment, the »


- Sonia Kil

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