Archive for September, 2014

Annapurna Pictures board Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ follow up

September 30th, 2014 - admin

Annapurna Pictures will sell international rights to Richard Linklater’s keenly anticipated comedy drama, ‘That’s What I’m Talking About’, starring Blake Jenner and Tyler Hoechlin.  Linklater is exploring some of the themes that he first touched upon during his early feature, ‘Dazed And Confused’ and focuses on a freshman encountering a first weekend in college as a baseball pitcher.  It’s the follow up to Linklater’s serious Oscar contender ‘Boyhood’.

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Cohen Media picks up ‘The New Girlfriend’

September 30th, 2014 - admin

Cohen Media Group has taken US distribution rights to François Ozon’s Toronto title,  ‘The New Girlfriend’ (‘Une nouvelle amie’), starring Romain Duris and Anais Demoustier.  Adapted from a Ruth Rendell short story, a young woman’s life changes dramatically after discovering that the husband of her recently deceased best friend had an intriguing secret.  It’s Ozon’s follow up to ‘Jeune & Jolie’.

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Russia selects official candidate for best foreign language film Oscar

September 30th, 2014 - admin

Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Cannes hit, ‘Leviathan’, is Russia’s official submission for the best foreign language film Oscar.  It’s a contemporary re-telling of ‘Job’ set against Russian corruption and will receive a release in the territory on Nov 13.  Zvyagintsev’s next film will focus on Tolstoy’s family after the writer’s death.

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Focus takes Toronto’s closing film

September 30th, 2014 - admin

Focus Features have picked up North American distribution rights to Alan Rickman’s second feature, ‘A Little Chaos’, which closed this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.  Kate Winslet plays an unconventional landscape gardener frustrated by the limitations of working for Louis XIV’s court at Versailles but soon finds a romantic distraction.  It arrives in theatres on March 27, 2015.

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‘The Maze Runner’ repeats int’l win

September 29th, 2014 - admin

Fox’s ‘The Maze Runner’, starring Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Will Poulter, grossed $28.8m from 62 territories to retain the No. 1 spot at the international weekend box office.  South Korea was its most successful market with a strong $4.9m second weekend top place hold.  The YA sci-fi thriller now stands on $92.4m internationally.


Sony’s TV reboot, ‘The Equaliser’, arrived day-and-date with North America in 65 international territories and grossed a solid $19m over the three days.  The action thriller, which continues the ‘Training Day’ director/actor collaboration of Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington, enjoyed most success in the UK where it debuted on $2.9m.

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‘The Equaliser’ sets new record

September 29th, 2014 - admin

Sony’s TV reboot, ‘The Equaliser’, became September’s highest ever R-rated debut at the North American weekend box office after grossing a powerful $35m from 3,236 theatres, comfortably ahead of the studio’s overcautious estimates and the market’s more realistic pre-release tracking.  The action thriller continues the ‘Training Day’ director/actor collaboration of Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington and the pair could be working together again in the near future as Sony bashes ahead with the proposed sequel.  It received a boost from wide coverage on premium large format and IMAX screens, accounting for most of the film’s top locations, and the first night audiences’ ‘A-‘ CinemaScore, which proved far more influential than the critics’ mixed reviews .  The gender mix, only 52% male suggests that, up to a point, it played as a dating movie.


The weekend’s other wide launch, ‘The Boxtrolls’, also made a confident start with a higher than expected $17.2m from 3,464 theatres following a ‘B+’ CinemaScore and solid reviews, currently 71% on RT.  It’s the latest stop-motion animation from Laika and opened higher than the studio’s ‘Coraline’ and ‘ParaNorman’, providing a nice foundation for future momentum.


Last weekend’s No.1, ‘The Maze Runner’, split the two newcomers in second place after grossing a strong $17.5m from a market high 3,638 theatres.  This represents a modest 46.3% week-on-week fall after two weekends in play.

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‘The Equaliser’ off to a flyer

September 27th, 2014 - admin

Sony’s R-rated TV reboot, ‘The Equaliser’, enjoyed a bumper $12.6m opening Friday at the North American box office from 3,236 theatres (inc $1.45m from Thursday night previews).  The action thriller reunites the ‘Training Day’ director/actor collaboration of Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington and could finish as high as $36m after receiving an ‘A-‘ CinemaScore from first night audiences.  This is higher than Sony’s overcautious estimates and the market’s more realistic pre-release tracking, justifying the studio’s earlier decision to make a sequel.  Critics liked it less than punters – currently 59% on RT – but is unlikely to make an impact.


The weekend’s other wide opener, ‘The Boxtrolls’, also exceeded expectations with a solid $4.8m Friday from 3,464 theatres ahead of the family audiences arriving on Saturday and Sunday.  It’s the latest stop-motion animation from Laika after ‘Coraline’ and ‘ParaNorman’ and looks set to take $17m over the three days, around $4m above market forecasts.  A ‘B+’ CinemaScore and solid reviews – 71% on RT – should support a decent run.


Last weekend’s No.1, ‘The Maze Runner’ had a strong $5m Friday hold from a market high 3,638 theatres, putting it on pace for a similar three-day total as ‘The Boxtrolls’.  This would represent a modest 48% week-on-week fall.

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‘Still Alice’ to enter Oscar race

September 27th, 2014 - admin

Sony Pictures Classics will screen Richard Glatzer’s and Wash Westmoreland’s ‘Still Alice’ in New York and L.A. theatres for one week during December, securing entry to this year’s Oscar Race.  The film, which stars Julianne Moore as a college professor at the onset of Alzheimer’s, will receive a wider release on January 16.  Glatzer and Westmoreland won Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize with ‘Echo Park, L.A.’ eight years ago.

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Tanović to adapt bestseller

September 27th, 2014 - admin

Leading Bosnian filmmaker, Danis Tanović, will direct ‘Ports Of Call’, adapted from Amin Maalouf’s bestseller of the same name.  It should be Tanović’s follow up to his pharmaceutical drama, ‘Tigers’, which received a world premiere at Toronto and will focus on the love affair between a Muslim prince and a Jewish freedom fighter against the backdrop of Arab-Israeli postwar hostilities.  Tanović remains best known for ‘No Man’s Land’, which picked up an Oscar and Golden Globe for best foreign language film.

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Night Moves

September 26th, 2014 - admin

Kelly Reichardt’s latest cinematic marvel unfolds at the borders of nature and culture; her pared down minimalism so unobtrusive it merges with the surroundings almost undetected.


It changes our viewing experience, opening up new perspectives that take realism to a higher plane, a form of cinematic purity in the André Bazin sense.


‘The ‘Night Moves’ of its title is a boat, but could just as easily describe the dark shadowy undercurrents that set the film’s distinctive tone.  It gives a powerful sense of foreboding and suspense but the film never plays like a thriller; being as far removed from genre filmmaking as her outstanding revisionist Western, ‘Meek’s Cutoff’.


There’s an eerie calm here, only broken by an almighty explosion when three eco warriors blow up a hydroelectric dam to make a statement but it comes across more like ‘theatre’ as another character points out in one of the film’s best lines.


We see the build-up in minute detail and its devastating aftermath when everything goes horribly wrong; all done with a penetrating psychological depth.


Jesse Eisenberg is a brooding presence in familiar territory playing ringleader Josh, an introspective loaner with a tremendous unjustified sense of his own self-importance; quite different from Reichardt’s usual sympathetic lead.


Dakota Fanning plays his vulnerable accomplice, Dena, with real emotional force.  It’s a terrific performance.


And Peter Sarsgaard brings a worldly playfulness to a complex ex-marine, Harmon, for whom the operation seems more important than the cause.


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BGP distributing Isabel Coixet’s romantic drama

September 26th, 2014 - admin

Ambitious new film venture, Broad Green Pictures, will retain US distribution of Isabel Coixet’s ‘Learning To Drive’, its first ever production.  The romantic drama, starring Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley, received its world premiere at Toronto International Film Festival and arrives in US theatres next year with a platform release.  BGP recently picked up US distribution rights to three other high profile Toronto titles, ’99 Homes’, ‘Samba’ and ‘Eden’.

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‘The Equaliser’ set for strong weekend

September 26th, 2014 - admin

Antoine Fuqua’s R-rated ‘The Equaliser’, starring Denzel Washington and Chloë Grace Moretz, grossed a strong $1.45m on Thursday night after arriving at 19.00 in 2,693 North American theatres.  Powerful social media coverage should have far more impact than average reviews – currently 59% on RT – and the crime thriller seems set to finish the weekend in the $29-31m range, comfortably above modest studio estimates.  Sony is already making plans for a sequel.

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Millennium backing ‘The Humbling’ with award season campaign

September 25th, 2014 - admin

Millennium Entertainment plans an award season campaign for Barry Levinson’s Venice hit, ‘The Humbling’, after acquiring U.S. distribution rights.  Based on Philip Roth’s novel of the same name, an ageing actor embarks upon a dangerous relationship with an enigmatic young fan.  The coupling of Al Pacino and Greta Gerwig as the leads is a marketing gift.

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Lenny Abrahamson to adapt American civil war novel

September 25th, 2014 - admin

Lenny Abrahamson (‘Frank’) will direct ‘Neverhome’, adapted from Laird Hunt’s novel of the same name, which was published in the US earlier this month.  It focuses on a woman, who enjoyed a colourful career after becoming a Union soldier during the American Civil War.  It should be Abrahamson’s next feature after ‘Room’, currently in pre-production.

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Broad Green Pictures take Mia Hansen-Love’s electro music drama

September 25th, 2014 - admin

Broad Green Pictures have picked up North American rights to Mia Hansen-Love’s latest feature, ‘Eden’, which received its world premiere at Toronto International Film Festival.  It’s the follow up to ‘Goodbye First Love’ and Felix de Givry stars in this true story of ambition during the 1990′s electro music scene. It should arrive in theatres next spring.

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Two Days, One Night

September 25th, 2014 - admin

Laissez- faire economics has seldom looked more ugly than in the Dardenne Bros’ quietly powerful and vital new feature where an ordinary worker finds herself at the mercy of colleagues after an employer abdicates full responsibility for his own decision.


It triggers a devastating individual v solidarity struggle at the margins with the Dardennes taking the film’s basic premise from a true story that serves as a ready made morality tale for the 21st century.


Yet, like their last film ‘The Kid With A Bike’, occasional feel-good moments – hard earned – strike a nice balance and come across as very real.


Marion Cotillard is exceptional – again –  in the lead role, giving us another fully committed performance, which easily dispels those ill-considered fears that the Dardennes were in some way selling out when casting their first ever ‘A’ lister/Oscar winner.


She plays Sandra, fighting for her job at the local factory after its jelly fish owner – spineless – gives the rest of the workforce a choice between saving their colleague or receiving a €1,000 bonus.  Sandra is in the frame after taking time-off for depression –  Social Darwinism raising its nasty head – and looks on the way out when the vote goes emphatically the other way.  But she gets an unlikely second bite at the cherry when allegations of undue influence/shop floor verbal thuggery force a revote; leaving Sandra with the two days and one night of the film’s title – a weekend – to turn things around.


Hard edged social realism takes on the tension of a thriller – we can almost hear the clock ticking – as Sandra faces the demeaning task of speaking to the 16 voters one by one.  She has no appetite for the fight, swallowing Xanax like cheap candy, but her husband drives her on, coming across as no less desperate than some of the voters’ other halves, hellbent on getting their sticky paws on the bonus payments.


This is a character on the edge, holding it together at the vital moments –  just – and falling apart afterwards but retaining a sincerity that unnerves the voters in different ways .  There’s some support, one even bursting into tears of shame but it’s unclear whether she will receive the required majority or even get to Monday morning without another nervous breakdown.


But, we learn along the way, just what the bonuses mean to the voters and so does Sandra, making it doubly hard.  These are workers earning a minimum wage, many with family responsibilities looking to fund the outgoings gap,  “I didn’t vote against you, I voted for my bonus” one tells her.


And we see fascinating glimpses of their lives; often from over the shoulder during doorstop conversations.  Each encounter adds another jigsaw piece to a portrait of a typical Dardenne milieu but now seen from a wider angle.


This is a deeply compassionate and honest film that keeps the true villains off-screen for the most part but their presence is felt like a thunderbolt in almost every scene.  It’s outstanding filmmaking from two of the best around.

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‘The Maze Runner’ dominates int’l markets

September 23rd, 2014 - admin

Fox’s YA sci-fi thriller ‘The Maze Runner’, starring Dylan O’Brien,  Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Will Poulter, took control of the international weekend box office, grossing a strong $38m over the three days.  It boasted an exceptional 47 No.1’s after expanding into 51 markets and now stands at an early $50.7m internationally.  The film will open in another 14 territories next weekend.

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Canada selects official candidate for best foreign language film Oscar

September 22nd, 2014 - admin

Xavier Dolan’s Cannes jury prize winner, ‘Mommy’ is Canada’s official submission for the best foreign language film Oscar.  Anne Dorval, Antoine Olivier Pilon and Suzanne Clément star in a fantasy drama where overwrought parents can abandon disturbed children to the hospital system.  The selection committee will reduce the list to nine before announcing the final five nominees on January 15, 2015.

‘The Maze Runner’ easily wins domestic weekend box office

September 22nd, 2014 - admin

Fox’s YA sci-fi thriller, ‘The Maze Runner’, starring Dylan O’Brien,  Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Will Poulter, celebrated a commanding North American weekend debut, grossing $32.5m from 3,604 theatres at the high end of market expectations.  A powerful ‘A-‘ CinemaScore propelled word of mouth to counter front loading from its young audience with under 25’s accounting for 63% of the turnout.  It set a new September record for giant screens where comprehensive coverage on Premium Large Format and IMAX theatres gave it an impressive $3.8m.  As widely predicted, Fox announced a sequel on Sunday and it should arrive next September.


Universal’s new R-rated thriller, ‘A Walk Among the Tombstones’, starring Liam Neeson, failed to connect with its mature target audience and finished the weekend on an underwhelming $13.1m from 2,712 theatres.  A flat  ‘B-‘ CinemaScore off-set decent reviews, currently 73% on RT.


And it was a slow start for the weekends other wide release, ‘This is Where I Leave You’, which finished on a disappointing $11.8m.  Warner Bros’ siblings comedy will be hoping for some momentum from its ‘B+’ CinemaScore during the next few weeks but lacklustre reviews – 43% on RT – could be an obstacle.

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World Premiere announced for Susanne Bier’s ‘Serena’

September 22nd, 2014 - admin

Susanne Bier’s keenly anticipated next feature, ‘Serena’, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, will receive its world premiere closing this year’s Saint Petersburg International Media Forum (Oct 1-10).  A complex tale of murder and triple crossing, adapted from Ron Rash’s bestseller, sees an ambitious woman create a formidable business empire in Depression-era North Carolina.  Bier remains best known for ‘In a Better World ‘, which won the best foreign language film Oscar.

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Modern Classics: Raúl Ruiz’s Mysteries of Lisbon (Mistérios de Lisboa)

September 22nd, 2014 - admin

Costume dramas can be like history books, fundamentally dishonest; naturalising the ambiguous as certain and editing out anything inconvenient.


Raúl Ruiz rigorously dismantles this process in his epic drama, ‘Mysteries of Lisbon’ (‘Mistérios de Lisboa’), constructing a melodrama/soap opera full of the absurd contrivance and coincidences that shape the genre before slyly undermining his own plotting; leaving us to assemble various hints and half truths from amongst the ruins.


This is an extraordinarily ambitious film; far more challenging – both for filmmaker and audience – than his earlier costume drama masterpiece, ‘Time Regained’, which lent itself perfectly to Modernist cinema, weaving Proust’s novels and life into a magnificent Proustian whole that rejected any conventional perception of time and space; triumphantly merging narrative and film style.


Here, there was no such natural unity; a Brechtian/Godardian integrity – Ruiz exposing his own processes – clashes with melodrama’s emphatic insistence for suspending disbelief; creating an inherent but intriguing tension within almost every scene.


Ruiz adapted Camilo Castelo Branco’s 1854 novel of the same name, which has never received an English language translation.  The film runs for a colossal four and half hours but Ruiz had already scaled it down from a six hour series, originally shot for Portuguese TV.  Cinematic versions in two parts have an arbitrary separation that inevitably interrupts the flow and a TV series seems inconceivable.


The plot is circular, starting and ending with an orphan, João, who uncovers almost every conceivable form of aristocratic angst en route to establishing his parentage and place in society.


An enigmatic priest, Father Dinis, runs João’s orphanage and becomes his guide and ours.  He appears selfless with a commanding spiritual authority but came to the priesthood with a questionable past; once a master of disguise and, possibly, deceit.


A romantic anti-hero, the Knife-Eater/assassin, reinvents himself as the courtly Alberto de Magalhães after making a killing in the slave trade and drifts into João’s life at key moments.  He is darker than Heathcliff when on the outside but, gradually, takes on a different moral bearing as the plot develops.


And, adding more spice, there’s João’s sadistic father, the Count of Santa Barbara; tragic mother, the appropriately named Ângela; and dangerous femme fatale would be lover, Elisa.


João’s voiceover frames the plot – stories within stories – as we move around the continent and the preceding decades but other characters interject from time to time without warning.  They all come across as classic unreliable narrators but we cannot be sure.


But it’s André Szankowski’s camera, becoming a metaphorical character, that finds those vital cracks in the surface.  Sometimes with slow moving tracking shots, other times adopting obscure angles from more stationary positions, it takes on the role of nosy bystander, often telling a different story.


By the end,  just as in life, impressions and approximations merge as one; a quasi truth, perhaps.  And the many cruelties, obsessions and heightened passions take second place to João’s overwhelming sense of loss for something that he never had, a past stolen.


Ruiz made the film in exile, of course, almost forty years after fleeing Chile following Pinochet’s military coup.  Like all great artists, he catches us off guard with this idiosyncratic but ingenious take on abandonment/displacement.

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Wakolda (aka ‘The German Doctor’)

September 22nd, 2014 - admin

The chilling new feature from Argentinian filmmaker, Lucía Puenzo, no stranger to challenging subjects, unfolds amongst the eerie remains of the Third Reich, those evil fragments that survived the burning ashes and found a new home in Argentina’s remote southern tip. 


But, this is a community where other German expats reside and serious war criminals can mingle without necessarily arousing suspicion.  Native Argentines are uneasy, seemingly far removed from the Nazi sympathisers in Government, yet turn a blind eye to the familiar bandaged heads in a sinister mountainside retreat.


And fascist angst is in the air.  The Mossad, never far behind, had just taken the prized scalp of Holocaust architect, Adolf Eichmann and now had another in its sight, arguably, the even more heinous, Josef Mengele.


A true story finds him masquerading as a veterinarian, staying at a family hotel with owners oblivious to his true identity notwithstanding some disturbing clues.  He charms their twelve year old daughter, Lilith – a form of grooming but without sexual intent – and takes a keen interest in her stunted growth.


A natural chemistry between actors Àlex Brendemühl and Florencia Bado – both superb – compounds our dismay as Lilith responds to his faux paternal warmth with a childlike quasi crush; an ironic respite from relentless bullying at school.  “I am interested in you”, he tells her and we know why.  Unfortunately, her mother doesn’t, blindly giving the green light for Mengele to start genetic treatment against her husband’s wishes and knowledge.


And Mengele cannot believe his luck when Lilith’s mother falls pregnant with twins, the film’s most direct reference to his diabolical past.


Puenzo has adapted it from her own novel of the same name and we sense that she has meticulously researched Mengele’s character and the satellite post war settlement.  And the film’s at its most effective – actually, very good – when concentrating on the interaction between the two and their impact on Lilith and her family.  It’s less successful – and feels more fictionalised – when Mengele and Lilith’s father become embroiled in an ideological battle of wits over the mass production of dolls, a blatant Übermensch analogy and sub-plot that Puenzo pushes too far.

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Strong opening for YA sci-fi thriller

September 21st, 2014 - admin

Fox’s YA sci-fi thriller, ‘The Maze Runner’, starring Dylan O’Brien,  Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Will Poulter, enjoyed a strong opening Friday at the North American box office, grossing $11m from 3,604 theatres.  A powerful ‘A-‘ CinemaScore should off-set genre front-loading and the franchise opener is back on course for hitting the predicted $30m+ weekend after taking a slightly disappointing $1.1m from Thursday night previews.  Average reviews – currently running at 63% on RT – is unlikely to have any bearing.


Universal’s R-rated thriller, ‘A Walk Among the Tombstones’, starring Liam Neeson, arrived in 2,712 theatres with an underwhelming $4.7m (inc $428k Thursday previews).  A disappointing ‘B-‘ CinemaScore will counter decent reviews – 73% on RT – and it should finish the weekend around the $14m mark.


And there was disappointment for the other weekend opener, ‘This is Where I Leave You’,  in third place.  Warner Bros’ siblings comedy took a soft $3.85m on Friday from 2,868 theatres (inc $100k TP’s) leaving it on pace for a $11.5m weekend at the lower end of market expectations.  Audiences liked it more than critics with a ‘B+’ CinemaScore against a 43% RT critical rating.

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‘The Maze Runner’ makes a so-so start

September 19th, 2014 - admin

Fox’s YA sci-fi thriller, ‘The Maze Runner’, starring Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Kaya Scodelario and Will Poulter, grossed a fairly solid $1.1m on Thursday night after arriving at 10 p.m. in 2,200 North America theatres.  It should finish the weekend around the $25m mark after expanding to 3,640 theatres today, which is less than pre-release tracking but still acceptable.  Fandango had reported pre-sales for over half the weekend’s market.

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Belgium selects official candidate for best foreign language film Oscar

September 19th, 2014 - admin

The Dardenne Bros’ acclaimed Cannes title, ‘Two Days, One Night’, is Belgium’s official submission for the best foreign language film Oscar.  Picking up on contemporary themes, Marion Cotillard (‘La Vie en Rose’) plays a desperate employee set to lose her job unless her colleagues forgo their bonuses.  It arrives in US theatres on December 24.

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‘A Most Violent Year’ receives release date

September 19th, 2014 - admin

A24 will release J.C. Chandor’s keenly awaited crime drama ‘A Most Violent Year’ in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 31 before expanding nationally during January.  It’s the follow up to ‘All Is Lost’ and follows an immigrant family encountering corruption and violence when expanding their business during 1981, statistically one of the most violent years in New York’s history.  Chandor has assembled an outstanding cast, including Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain and Albert Brooks.

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Broad Green Pictures take Bahrani’s Venice title

September 19th, 2014 - admin

Broad Green Pictures have picked up US distribution rights to Ramin Bahrani’s well received Venice title, ’99 Homes’, starring Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon.  It offers an interesting variation on the current wave of recession dramas and has a debtor accepting a job with a corrupt real estate broker responsible for foreclosing on his family home.  Surprisingly, the film will not receive a release until next spring, missing out on the forthcoming awards season.

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Hong Kong selects official candidate for best foreign language film Oscar

September 16th, 2014 - admin

Ann Hui’s latest feature, ‘The Golden Era’, starring Wei Tang (‘Lust, Caution’), is Hong Kong’s official submission for the best foreign language film Oscar.  The Xiao Hong biopic closed this year’s Venice International Film Festival earlier this month and starts its theatrical rollout in China and Hong Kong on October 1.  It’s the follow up to Hui’s popular, ‘A Simple Life’.

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‘Lucy’ continues to impress

September 16th, 2014 - admin

Luc Besson’s latest feature, ‘Lucy’, starring Scarlet Johansson, grossed a further $24.9m at the weekend’s international box office, where it continues to perform steadily.  The sci-fi thriller remains active in a high 59 international territories – all but four through Universal – and claimed Russia’s top spot with an opening $9.6m from 1,014 locations.  Its overall international running total stands at $230.6m.

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‘No Good Deed’ excels at the North American box office

September 15th, 2014 - admin

Sony’s PG13-rated, ‘No Good Deed’, starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson, defied market analysts with a comfortable win at the North American weekend box office, the third of the year for producer Will Packer.  The $13m home thriller arrived with an excellent $24.5m from a modest 2,175 theatres, a good $7m above pre-release predictions.  As expected, a positive ‘B+’ CinemaScore had more influence than abysmal reviews – currently 13% on RT – as the film connected with its African-American target audience, which comprised 70% of the total.


The other wide weekend release, ‘Dolphin Tale 2’, failed to impress notwithstanding solid reviews – 73% on RT – and an excellent ‘A’ CinemaScore.  Charles Martin Smith’s family drama grossed a soft $16.5m over the three days from a market high 3,656 theatres, against market forecasts around $20m.  Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman and Kris Kristofferson all returned from the original, which earned $19m during its opening weekend.


Last weekend’s No.1,  Guardians Of The Galaxy’, added a further $8m from 3104 theatres in third place but, more importantly, became the year’s first film to cross the $300m domestic milestone.  The superhero extravaganza has now been in play for seven weekends.

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Toronto International Film Festival 2014 (September, 4-14)

September 15th, 2014 - admin

Toronto has made a significant move in the jostling for position at the festival season’s crowded end where Telluride stole the limelight last year with a surprise screening of eventual Oscar winner, ’12 Years a Slave’.  With pressure growing on festival directors to generate anticipation, Toronto will no longer screen any film that has previously played in North America during its crucial first four days.  It’s a risky strategy, which left some distributors forced to change direction; particularly those who have traditionally favoured the Telluride/Toronto double punch for the launch of an award season campaign.


But if this year’s line-up was anything to go by, the rule change has not impacted significantly on its pulling power.  There is a strong block of first screenings from leading North American filmmakers, including Noah Baumbach, Thomas McCarthy and Jason Reitman, and a day three listing for David Gordon Green’s ‘Manglehorn’, which followed his previous feature, ‘Joe’ in debuting at Venice.  Arguably, Jean-Marc Vallée’s ‘Wild’, starring Reese Witherspoon and Ramin Bahrani’s Venice title ’99 Homes’, are the only significant new films with later screenings arising from appearances at Telluride during the Labour Day weekend.


Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t have Venice’s depth of world premieres from overseas filmmakers but there are enough on the programme to provide a nice balance.  They include new features from Mia Hansen-Love, Christian Petzold, François Ozon – his fourth to premiere at Toronto – and two best foreign language film Oscar winners, Susanne Bier and Danis Tanović.


Latest films from David Dobkin and Alan Rickman bookend the festival as surprise selections.



Selected world premieres:


While We’re Young

Noah Baumbach, USA, World Premiere


Noah Baumbach’s latest feature, ‘While We’re Young’, looked odds-on for a Toronto world premiere after ‘Frances Ha’, ‘Margot at the Wedding’ and ‘The Squid and the Whale’ all screened at the festival.  It’s a comedy drama starring Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried and has a young couple transforming the lives of a tetchy middle-aged filmmaker and his wife.  Former LCD Soundsystem’s frontman, James Murphy, provides the soundtrack after working on Baumbach’s ‘Greenberg’, which also starred Stiller.



A Second Chance (En chance til)

Susanne Bier, Denmark, World Premiere


Susanne Bier, who won a best foreign language film Oscar with ‘In a Better World’, re-teams with regular screenwriter, Anders Thomas Jensen, for her latest feature, ‘A Second Chance’ (‘En chance til’).  Starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Ulrich Thomsen, it has a hard drinking cynical detective confronting his demons after making a grim discovery during a junkie couple’s domestic dispute.  Bier has continued her collaboration with Jensen on the filmmaker’s Depression-era drama, ‘Serena’, which is currently in post production.




David Dobkin, USA, World Premiere


David Dobkin’s latest feature, ‘The Judge’, starring Robert Downey Jr, Robert Duvall and Vera Farmiga, is his second to appear at Toronto and will be this year’s opener.  It has a potentially interesting twist on the court drama theme with a high powered lawyer returning home when his estranged father, the judge of the film’s title, becomes a murder suspect.  The film arrives in North American theatres shortly afterwards on October 10.




Mia Hansen-Love, France, World Premiere


Mia Hansen-Love’s latest feature, Eden, marks her third appearance at Toronto but it’s the first to receive a world premiere.  U.S. indie favourites, Greta Gerwig and Brady Corbet, play two DJ’s strutting their stuff within Paris’ 1990′s electronic music scene.  It also screens at the New York Film Festival before starting a theatrical roll out in France on November, 19.



Ned Rifle

Hal Hartley, USA, World Premiere


Hal Hartley won best screenplay at Cannes in 1997 for ‘Henry Fool’, the first part of his tragicomic Queens family trilogy, which continued with ‘Fay Grim’ ten years later.  The concluding part, ‘Ned Rifle’, has the son of the title characters from the previous two instalments setting out to kill his father for selfish behaviour.  Liam Aiken, Thomas Jay Ryan, James Urbaniak and Parker Posey all return alongside trilogy newcomer, Aubrey Plaza.



The Theory of Everything

James Marsh, United Kingdom/USA, World Premiere


James Marsh, who won a documentary Oscar for ‘Man on Wire’, retains the dramatic format for his follow up to the IRA thriller, ‘Shadow Dancer’.  Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, David Thewlis and Emily Watson star in the appropriately titled, ‘The Theory of Everything’, a biopic of genius, Stephen Hawking.  Marsh’s next feature, ‘Hold on to Me’, is in pre-production.



The Cobbler

Thomas McCarthy, USA World Premiere


Thomas McCarthy has assembled an intriguing cast for his idiosyncratic comedy drama, ‘The Cobbler’ with Adam Sandler starring alongside Ellen Barkin, Steve Buscemi and Dustin Hoffman.  It follows his indie hit, ‘Win Win’ and has the cobbler of the film’s title possessing metaphysical powers that allow him to step into other people’s lives.  McCarthy is already working on his next feature, the child molestation cover-up drama, ‘Spotlight’.



Time Out of Mind

Oren Moverman, USA, World Premiere


Oren Moverman has adapted a story from acclaimed screenwriter, Jeffrey Caine (‘The Constant Gardener’), for his third feature, ‘Time Out Of Mind’.  Richard Gere leads a cast including Ben Vereen and Jena Malone and plays a New York homeless man looking to establish contact with his estranged daughter as part of a new life.  Moverman has built a solid reputation in the director’s chair for ‘The Messenger’ and ‘Rampart’ but remains as well known for co-writing ‘I’m Not There’ with Todd Haynes.



The New Girlfriend (Une nouvelle amie)

François Ozon, France, World Premiere


François Ozon’s latest film, ‘The New Girlfriend’ (‘Une nouvelle amie’), starring Romain Duris and Anais Demoustier, is his fourth to have a world premiere at Toronto.  Based on a Ruth Rendell short story, a young woman’s life changes dramatically after discovering that her recently deceased best friend’s husband had an intriguing secret.  It receives a theatrical release in France on November, 5.




Christian Petzold, Germany, World Premiere


Christian Petzold’s follow up to ‘Barbara’ is one of the most keenly anticipated world premieres at this year’s Toronto and, arguably, the whole festival season.  Approaching some of Petzold’s dominant themes from a new angle, a concentration camp victim privately investigates her unsuspecting husband after undergoing complete facial reconstruction surgery to conceal Nazi mutilations.  Petzold regular, Nina Hoss, plays the lead.



Men, Women and Children

Jason Reitman, USA, World Premiere


Jason Reitman continues a long association with Toronto, where all his features have screened, except for ‘Up in the Air’.  Adapted from Chad Kultgen’s bestseller, ‘Men, Women & Children’, Reitman’s latest film explores social media’s alienating impact on different generations’ private lives and stars Judy Greer, Adam Sandler and Jennifer Garner.  It receives a limited U.S. release on October 1 before expanding.




Alan Rickman, United Kingdom, World Premiere


When actor, Alan Rickman, made his directing debut with the acclaimed Venice title, ‘The Winter Guest’, he seemed to be heading for a distinguished alternative career behind the camera.  As things turned out, we have had to wait a full seventeen years for his follow up, ‘A Little Chaos’, and it now receives a prestigious screening as Toronto’s closing film.  Kate Winslet stars alongside Stanley Tucci, Matthias Schoenaerts and Rickman himself and plays an unconventional landscape gardener frustrated by the limitations of working for Louis XIV’s court at Versailles.



The Riot Club

Lone Scherfig, United Kingdom, World Premiere


Lone Scherfig follows her romantic drama, ‘One Day’, with an adaptation of Laura Wade’s political play ‘Posh, a veracious attack on the British upper classes.  The film’s title is the play’s ‘Riot Club’, an obnoxious Oxford student exclusive society sharing some similarities with the David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson attended Bullingdon Club, which spirals dangerously out of control when its members vie for power.  Scherfig remains best known for her Oscar nominated ‘An Eduction’.




Danis Tanović, India/France/United Kingdom World Premiere


Bosnian filmmaker, Danis Tanović, looks at the ethics of the pharmaceutical industry in his topical new feature, ‘Tigers’, starring Emraan Hashmi.  It’s the follow up to Tanović’s Berlin hit, ‘An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker’, and follows an ambitious young pharmaceutical salesman who makes a devastating discovery.  Tanović remains best known for ‘No Man’s Land’, which won an Oscar and Golden Globe for best foreign language film.



Miss Julie Liv Ullmann, Norway/United Kingdom/Ireland, World Premiere


Liv Ullmann’s fourth film in the director’s chair is her first since the Ingmar Bergman scripted ‘Faithless’ fourteen years ago.  Moving from one Swedish giant to another, Ullmann becomes the latest filmmaker to adapt August Strindberg’s classic play ‘Miss Julie’, which she transports to Ireland.  Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell play the aristocratic woman and family valet in their battle of the sexes and classes during a heated midsummer night.

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