David Michod, the director of the new Netflix movie “War Machine,” debuting this weekend, said that his initial reaction to reports that President Trump’s advisers are calling for more troops in Afghanistan was one of “bewilderment.”

“I can’t pretend to be surprised,” he tells Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM. “We are now in the 16th year of this conflict. It is not wholly surprising to me that the architects of this mess can’t let it go.” He adds, “We are talking about an institution, the military, for which the metric of success is as binary in victory and defeat. It is hardly surprising that the first cause of action, and the recurring cause of action. is always to try to throw more troops at the problem.”

 

PopPolitics: ‘Hell on Earth’ Director on the ‘Risk-Reward’ of Filming in Syria (Listen)

 

In “War Machine,” Brad Pitt plays the fictitious general Glen McMahon, who is tasked with turning around the situation in Afghanistan, certain that a strategy of adding more troops on the ground will win hearts and minds as the war torn country is rebuilt.

 

 

The movie is based on the Michael Hastings book “The Operators,” which featured the story of Stanley McChrystal, who was eventually relieved of command for comments he made disparaging President Barack Obama. Hastings had been given intimate access to McChrystal and his associates for a Rolling Stone piece.

Michod’s “War Machine,” which is both satire and serious drama, shows the futility of U.S. military operations in the region given that it is seen by so many in the country as a foreign occupation, something that the Taliban has exploited.

“You just need to accept those grievances are legitimate, and so that means you need to talk,” he says. “The problem with talking is that again, after 16 years, the American and western militaries have gotten extremely good at taking out high-level insurgent targets. They have been cutting the head off this beast for a long time, which is my way of saying, ‘I don’t know what those conversations would look like.’ I can’t see any other way that this mess will end.”

Listen below:

 

“PopPolitics,” hosted by Variety’s Ted Johnson, airs on Thursdays from 2-3 p.m. ET/11-noon PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS. It also is available on demand.

Source: http://wstale.com/tv-movies/poppolitics-war-machine-director-new-troop-surges-afghanistan

Steven Soderbergh returns to the big screen with a gaggle of wacky characters in the first trailer for “Logan Lucky.”

That includes Channing Tatum who is reuniting with the director after working with him on “Haywire,” “Side Effects,” and “Magic Mike.” The movie following sibling Jimmy, (Tatum) Mellie (Riley Keough), and Clyde Logan (Adam Driver) who set out to execute an elaborate robbery during the Coca-Cola 600 race.

But to do so, they’re going to need some help. That’s where Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) comes in.

“I am in-car-cer-a-ted,” Craig tells Tatum and Driver. “Yeah, we got a plan to get you out.” Tatum responds.

“You Logans must be a simple-minded as people say,” Craig says later in the trailer.

Judging by the trailer alone, Craig’s manic disposition and loud cackle hint a major departure from the even-keeled James Bond that launched him to stardom.

 

 

The all-star ensemble cast also includes Seth MacFarlane, Katie Holmes, Hilary Swank, Katherine Waterston, and Sebastian Stan. The project marks Soderbergh’s first theatrical release since 2013. Recently he took control of “The Knick” which lasted two seasons on Cinemax. He also made “Behind the Candelabra” for HBO, which won two Golden Globes and almost a dozen Emmys.

Bleecker Street and Fingerprint Releasing have scheduled “Logan Lucky” to be released on Aug. 18. Watch the trailer below:

Source: http://wstale.com/tv-movies/logan-lucky-trailer-channing-tatum-adam-driver-daniel-craig-team

A-Rod is following in the footsteps of fellow retired athlete Michael Strahan as he is expected to join 'Good Morning America' as a contributor

Alex Rodriguez is adding news contributor to his resume as a media personality. After landing a gig as a baseball analyst for Fox Sports several months ago, the 41-year-old retired baseball player now signs a deal with ABC News as a contributor. The former New York Yankee star is expected to pop up on The Alphabet's shows like "Good Morning America", 'World News Tonight" and "Nightline". He will report on "fitness, personal finance and other topics beyond sports." The former athlete who currently dates Jennifer Lopez is following in the footsteps of Michael Strahan. After retiring from NFL, the former New York Giants star becomes a football analyst on "Fox NFL Sunday" and a regular on "GMA". He previously served as a co-host on Kelly Ripa's morning talk show.

Source: http://wstale.com/tv-movies/alex-rodriguez-signs-deal-abc-news-contributor

The centennial of John F. Kennedy’s birth is on Monday, and to mark the occasion, PBS stations are presenting “JFK: The Lost Inaugural Gala.” The program is a one-hour documentary about the parade of showbiz A-listers who threw a big bash for the then-incoming President on Jan. 19, 1961.

There had been previous star-filled inaugural galas, but nothing quite like this one. Led by Frank Sinatra, the evening featured Nat King Cole, Laurence Olivier, Harry Belafonte, Ethel Merman, Jimmy Durante, Gene Kelly, Milton Berle, Janet Leigh, Tony Curtis, and Bette Davis.

NBC aired the telecast the following week, but the production ran into problems. The venue, the National Armory, was dark and cavernous, with so-so acoustics. That day, Washington was hit by a snowstorm, delaying the start of the ceremony by two hours. Merman showed up at rehearsal and couldn’t get back to her hotel to retrieve her evening gown. Instead, she had to sing in the clothes and coat she wore during the day.

 

 

 

Michael C. Hall to Play JFK in Season 2 of Netflix’s ‘The Crown’

 

“The Lost Inaugural Gala” features rare, restored footage from the evening, enough to make you wonder why NBC never aired it in the first place. An exclusive clip of Sinatra singing “The House I Live In” is below.

Roz Wyman, a longtime Democratic party figure who worked with Sinatra during the campaign and on the gala, spoke to Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM this week, along with Todd Purdum, who in 2011 reconstructed what happened that evening for Vanity Fair.

“President Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy, especially, wanted to show that this would be a different era from the stodgy Eisenhower administration,” Purdum said, noting the diverse group of performers to show that it was a “forward looking show.”

He said that Kennedy’s father, Joseph, paid to have the event videotaped, but the production quality proved problematic and broadcast plans were scrapped. The video ended up in the archives at the John F. Kennedy Library.

“We’ve always had celebrities in politics, but nothing like this night,” Wyman said. She worked with Sinatra throughout the campaign, and recalls that when he first walked into the armory he “almost gulped.” They put in an extra sound system, no one complained, and the result was a night of pretty extraordinary performances. It was also poignant, as when Durante sang “September Song.”

The interview can be heard below:

 

 

Source: http://wstale.com/tv-movies/jfks-gala-sinatra-created-showbizs-biggest-political-night
Cooperstown celebrates 25th anniversary of classic 'Simpsons' episode "Homer at the Bat" Homer Simpson was "inducted" into the Baseball Hall of Fame Saturday during a ceremony that celebrated the 25th anniversary of "Homer at the Bat."

Homer Simpson was "inducted" into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York Saturday during a ceremony that celebrated the 25th anniversary of the classic The Simpsons episode "Homer at the Bat."

The episode, which aired in February 1992, featured guest appearances by MLB all-stars like Ozzie Smith, Ken Griffey Jr., Wade Boggs, Don Mattingly and Jose Canseco; Now Hall of Famers in their own right, Boggs and Smith were on hand to welcome Simpson in the Hall.

Steve Sax, a five-time all-star who also appeared on "Homer at the Bat," told the Associated Press, "I get asked as much about being on The Simpsons as I do about baseball. They don't want to know how it was to hit against Nolan Ryan. They want to know about being on that show."

Simpson received his own Hall of Fame plaque, which will feature within the museum's new Simpsons-themed exhibit.

In a prepared statement, Simpson said, "My record for eating hot dogs will never be broken. I've been a fan for 40 years, which is how long some games take. And I can't wait for the ceremony in Canton, Ohio." (Canton is the home of the Football Hall of Fame.)

Simpsons executive producer Al Jean previously spoke to the Baseball Hall of Fame about "Homer at the Bat," which finished Number 15 on Rolling Stone's list of the 150 Best Simpsons Episodes.

"It's definitely one you hear about a lot," Jean said. "There's nostalgia because a lot of people were kids when it first aired. Looking at it again, as I did recently, it's a real glimpse of '90s era baseball. Baseball has changed since then – it's a different kind of game."

Source: http://wstale.com/tv-movies/homer-simpson-inducted-baseball-hall-fame

CANNES — Robin Campillo’s “BPM (Beats Per Minute),” Kantemir Balagov’s “Closeness” and Pedro Pinho’s “The Nothing Factory” won International Critics’ Prizes Saturday afternoon at the Cannes Festival.

Awarded by the International Federation of Film Critics (Fipresci) one day before a international jury headed by Pedro Almodovar announces Cannes Festival’s 2017 Palme d’Or on May 28, the prizes do not always coincide with the official jury’s. “Toni Erdmann” won the Fipresci best competition player award last year, for instance, but nothing from Cannes’ official jury.

Over the last two years, however, Fipresci competition winners have won (“Son of Saul”) or been nominated (“Toni Erdmann”) for a foreign-language Academy Award and often proved standout art films of the year in sales and further award glory at or beyond Cannes.

 

 

The International Critics Prize for best film in competition marks further recognition for “BPM (Beats Per Minute),” Campillo’s first film at Cannes which has notched up robust sales for Films Distribution, The Orchard nabbing U.S. rights half way through the Cannes Festival.

A 1990 Paris AIDS activists drama, “BPM” ranks among the top five or six competition movies in Cannes inone international critics’ poll, and rates as a competition frontrunner for France’s press. Variety’s Guy Lodge said the movie “melds the personal, the political, and the erotic to heart-bursting effect.”

“I am immensely touched to receive the Fipresci Prize and above all by the support the international press has given my film, underscoring that however minoritarian the advocacy action may have been, it had a universal dimension,” Campillo said.

He added: “Beyond the struggle of ACT UP Paris, ’BPM’ is above all a film I wanted to make where the force of words transforms into pure moments of action, while the body held out.”

Other sales on “BPM (Beats Per Minute)” take in a swathe of Asian countries, including Japan (Phantom Film). The identity of the film’s distributors such as The Orchard suggests that the it has broken out of an LGBT niche.

Set in Russian Balagov’s home town of Nalchik in the North Caucasus in 1998, “Closeness” is a coming of age story unspooling in the the town’s small Jewish community, which is tensed by ethnic and religious conflict. Winner of the International Critics’ Prize for best film in Un Certain Regard, “Closeness” was praised by the Fipresci jury for announcing “a striking new voice [who] provides an intimate portrait of a closed community. Complete cinema.”

Added late April as a Special Screening to Directors’ Fortnight, “The Nothing Factory,” the feature debut of Portugal’s Pedro Pinho, weighs in as a three-hour labor relations drama with comedic beats, such as songs, as Lisbon lift factory workers strike to thwart the owners’ relocation plans.

Praised for its adventurousness by critics who caught it at Cannes, “The Nothing Factory” was described by the Cannes Fipresci jury as “an evocative activist film that blows away the boundaries between reality, fiction, theater,  and a sociological discourse leading to an unsettling and provocative cinematic experience.”

Pinho told Variety he had always wanted to make a musical comedy, hence the songs in “The Nothing Factory.”

Variety’s Alissa Simon served as the president of the 2017 Cannes Fipresci jury. its members were France’s Thomas Aidan and Barbara Lorey de Lacharrière, Rodrigo Fonseca from Brazil, India’s Vidyashankar Jois, Canada’s Pierre Pageau, Eva Peydró from Spain. Italy’s Silvana Silvestri, and Mode Steinkjer from Norway.

“Radiance,” from Cannes regular Naomi Kawase, took the Cannes Festival’s 2017 Ecumenical Jury Prize.

Fahime Nafir contributed to this article

INTERNATIONAL CRITICS’ PRIZES, CANNES 2017

COMPETITION

“BPM (Beats Per Minute),” (Robin Campillo, France)

UN CERTAIN REGARD

“Closeness,” (Kantemir Balagov, Russia)

DIRECTORS’ FORTNIGHT/CRITICS WEEK

“The Nothing Factory,” (Pedro Pinho, Portugal)

Source: http://wstale.com/tv-movies/fipresci-cannes-critics-prize-bpm-closeness-nothing-factory

“Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski has paid tribute to her father, former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, who died Friday night at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

Mika Brzezinski hailed the man known as Chief to his family as “the most inspiring, loving and devoted father any girl could ever have.” She shared family pictures of her father and made mention of his love of sailing his boat to Baker Island in Maine.

“Chief loved making his family laugh. He loved Maine more than anything — where we hiked as a family, swam, played tennis and rode in his broken-down boat to the beautiful islands just off Northeast Harbor,” Brzezinski wrote on Instagram.

Zbigniew Brzezinski was a top advisor to President Jimmy Carter during the tumultuous late 1970s, when the administration was tested by the Iranian hostage crisis, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and other global crises.

 

 

A native of Poland, Brzezinski’s family left Europe during the rise of fascism and settled in Canada. He worked as a professor at Columbia University before joining the State Department in 1966. He developed a relationship with Carter, then governor of Georgia, that led to his cabinet post after Carter won the White House in 1976.

Brzezinski had long remained an active voice in foreign policy circles. He was a professor at Johns Hopkins University and a member of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He was a frequent commentator for ABC News and PBS.

Mika Brzezinski has been co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” since 2007. Before that she worked as a news anchor  for CBS News. She and co-host Joe Scarborough announced their engagement earlier this month.

My father passed away peacefully tonight. He was known to his friends as Zbig, to his grandchildren as Chief and to his wife as the enduring love of her life. I just knew his as the most inspiring, loving and devoted father any girl could ever have. I love you Dad❤️ #HailToTheChief

A post shared by Mika Brzezinski (@mikabrzezinski) on May 26, 2017 at 7:09pm PDT

Source: http://wstale.com/tv-movies/morning-joe-host-mika-brzezinski-pays-tribute-late-father

It’s hard to talk about Roman Polanski’s “Based on a True Story” without revealing the twist, although it’s much harder trying to imagine anyone actually falling for it. A thin psychological two-hander between two writers, both of them women, this over-obvious metaphor for the creative process — never quite thrilling enough to qualify as a thriller, but still unsettling enough to intrigue — inevitably results in the publication of the book within the book upon which the film is based, and in so doing forces Polanski to return to his roots.

That doesn’t mean audiences will get much insight into either the director’s process or his own dark secrets, mind you. Rather, the film recalls the uncertain, almost hallucinatory quality of his early work — movies such as “Cul-de-Sac,” “Repulsion” and “Rosemary’s Baby,” where the very fabric of what we’ve been watching is called into question. That could be fascinating, if Polanski permitted himself to reveal so much as a fraction of the perversion we’ve come to expect from his movies, but even with two capable leading ladies (real-life wife Emmanuelle Seigner, who dominated in “Venus in Fur,” and Eva Green, so delicious sinister in nearly everything she’s done), the chemistry here hardly rises above room temperature.

 

 

At the source of the problem is the fact that the conceit behind “Based on a True Story” works best in printed form: It’s one thing to question the provenance of the book readers are holding in their hands, but quite another to add the filter of cinema to the equation. So, no matter how accomplished a screenwriter script collaborator Olivier Assayas may be, the simple act of transforming French novelist Delphine de Vigan’s bestselling “Based on a True Story” into a movie erects an additional barrier between the public and the audacious self-scrutiny that should make such an endeavor interesting.

Here, de Vigan becomes Delphine Dayrieux (Seigner, whose performance conveys nothing of a writer’s over-active imagination), while Green plays her mysterious new friend — and potential rival — known only as “L.” (imperfectly translated to “Her” in the English subtitles, the closest one can get for an initial that doubles as the indefinite pronoun “Elle”). The two meet after an exhausting series of publicity events, at which Delphine basks in the praise of her adoring readers. Not all the feedback is so positive, however: At home, she receives a creepy, typewritten letter from someone who accuses her of milking her family’s misfortune.

After inexplicably confiding in Her, Delphine suddenly realizes that she hasn’t stopped to ask about Her — although the film barely gives us any of either woman’s backstory, mostly just teasing with the hollow promise that both have lived experiences vivid enough to inspire bestsellers. There are hints that Delphine has abandoned her two children, whose rooms are empty in her apartment (if they ever existed to begin with), and late in the film, she decides to plunder Her’s life for material, uncovering the wispiest fragments of stories about how Her’s husband and father died, both in extremely violent and painful ways.

But “Based on a True Story” ultimately concerns itself more with the present and the increasingly uncomfortable dynamic between the two women. Although Delphine is romantically involved with the host (Vincent Perez) of one of those uniquely French TV shows that treat writers like the intellectual stars they are, it’s a strategic alliance at best, and he spend the whole movie chasing interviews with more important A-list writers than her — or Her, who’s deeply envious of what has come so easy to Delphine. By contrast, Her can hardly take credit for anything she’s published, working as a ghost writer for politicians and celebrities (no connection to the plot of Polanski’s earlier “The Ghost Writer”). In America, at least, sell-outs like Her tend to make a far better living than those who must rely entirely on their imagination — although don’t talk to Her about blank pages: The film’s corniest gag features Green’s face popping out of an empty computer screen.

Frankly, Polanski hasn’t given us enough reason to fear Her for such a gimmick to scare us. Nor do we understand what draws Delphine to Her in the first place, apart from what they perceive as an uncanny physical resemblance — except that it’s virtually impossible to fathom that these two actresses, much less their characters, could be mistaken for one another. And yet, Delphine agrees to let Her move in for a few weeks, sharing the password to her computer and access to the notebooks in which she has recorded the most intimate details of her life. Only after Her is living under the same roof does she start to notice disturbing quirks in her new friend’s personality, like the way she smashes a noncompliant food processor to smithereens — although it’s still a stretch to imagine that Her will come after her with the rolling pin.

 

 

Although the screenplay contains all the beats needed to generate tension, Assayas’ gift for conveying information between the lines is almost entirely lost on Polanski, who doesn’t give his actresses the opportunity to flesh out the subtext of their most awkward interactions. Instead, there are entire scenes in which Green stares blank-faced at her glassy-eyed co-star, leaving the audience to project whatever sense of tension or mystery Polanski has failed to provide. Usually, an edgy score is enough to fill this void, though overworked composer Alexandre Desplat seems to have phoned this one in.

Once the two women relocate to Delphine’s country home, things really ought to heat up, but instead, it’s all too clear that Polanski is doing a paint-by-numbers job (Johnny Depp found himself in nearly the same fix in the 2004 Stephen King adaptation “Secret Window,” to name just one example). Few clichés are more tired than the novelist wrestling with writer’s block who finds the cure in writing about herself, and the only question here is which of the two ladies will end up exploiting what happens between them — although that novel would have to be much better than its adaptation to be a bestseller.

Source: http://wstale.com/tv-movies/based-true-story-review

At the age of 36, Indonesian director-writer Mouly Surya has made the first Satay Western, and a flamingly feminist one at that. Following a widow on an empowering course to seek justice for robbery and rape, “Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts” is a revenge fantasy rooted in Indonesia’s gender conditions, complex regional culture and the stark beauty of its landscapes. At once tightly controlled and simmering with righteous fury, it’s gorgeously lensed, atmospherically scored and moves inexorably toward a gratifying payoff. A co-production between Indonesia, France, Malaysia and Thailand, this savvy blend of genre and art-house sensibilities will kill it at festivals, but needs adventurous distributors to put it into theatres where it can be viewed in its widescreen beauty.

SEE MORE: Cannes Film Festival

Surya’s debut “Fiksi” and sophomore feature “What They Don’t Talk About When They Talk About Love” have centered on outlier female characters (a lonely stalker and blind teenagers) and their sexuality without overtly pushing any ideological agendas. Incidentally, while her earlier protagonists all bleed as a rite of passage, the titular Marlina is older and spills the blood of others, symbolizing a new stage of maturity and independence. By referencing the Western from a female perspective, she subverts this most masculine of genres, while offering Indonesian cinema an alternative to the macho action of fanboy hits like “The Raid.”

 

 

Garin Nugroho, Indonesia’s most revered director is credited with the original idea, after a visit to Sumba Island, an arid terrain that steadfastly holds on to its unique traditions, including strong patriarchal values. Expanding his treatment into a full screen play,  Surya and co-writer Rama Adi achieves a certain classical simplicity with four sharply divided acts — “Robbery,” “The Journey,” “The Confession” and “The Birth” — that explore characters’ inner changes and growing sense of purpose.

Updating the classic Western tradition, Markus (Egi Fedly) rolls into the modest homestead of newly widowed Marlina (Marsha Timothy) on his motorbike. He invites himself into her home, announcing that his gang of bandits will seize her money, her livestock, and “if we have time, we’ll sleep with you.” Sporting long sticky hair and the face of a rocker who’s been stoned since the ’60s, he nonetheless thinks what they’re about to mete out will make her “the luckiest woman in the world.”

As if in bitter parody of rural customs of hospitality, he demands to be served betel nut and coffee like an honoured guest, and orders chicken soup to be made, ready for the other six men when they arrive. The warped rituals of civility they enact hint at an iron-clad patriarchy that prescribes and controls female conduct, as when he tells Marlina, “Widows should not be so feisty” or “Women love to play the victim.”

All this is done in front of her husband’s mummified body, which crouches in the corner of their thatched living room. His macabre presence reveals how her status has changed now that there’s no man to “protect” her.

Surya builds nail-biting tension as Marlina sullenly yields to their demands, but let’s just say she doesn’t take it lying down. First she laces their soup with some special seasoning, then in a (literal) climax that rivals any of Tarantino’s high concept violence, she beheads Markus with a machete in one swift, satisfying stroke. It’s not easy to sustain momentum after such a high, but subsequent developments continue to intrigue and surprise even as the narrative branches out into new genre and stylistic directions in a crossover between road movie and action.

As advertised, Act II follows a geographic and metaphorical journey. Marlina tries to hitch a ride to go to the police to turn herself in. She runs into her heavily pregnant friend Novi (Dea Panendra) on her way to town to reunite with her husband Umbu. The local men’s deep-seated mistrust and fear of female sexuality are again reflected in Umbu’s superstition that Novi’s delayed delivery is the sign of adultery.

A bubbly chatterbox, Novi hardly balks at the sight of her friend’s weapon or “evidence,” which she carries on a sling, still dripping blood. Equally unfazed is a middle-aged lady on her way to her nephew’s wedding, with a dowry of horses that come in handy at a turning point. Their presence creates a lively female space in counterpoint to the aggressive machismo in the previous act.

The geocultural diversity of Indonesia can be gleaned from the parched flat lands that unfurl for miles on Sumba, a sight one seldom associates with a country known for tropical rainforests. Echoing the animism practiced by the majority of Sumba islanders, the headless Markus appears sporadically, surreally strumming a string instrument. Whether it’s a hallucination betraying Marlina’s guilty conscience is left ambiguous, but she firmly rejects Novi’s advice to go to church and confess.

 

 

Act III sees Marlina finally making it to the police station, despite trouble on the way caused by Franz (Yoga Pratama) and Ian (Anggun Priambodo), two survivors from Markus’ gang. However, as Novi predicted, the police don’t see eye-to-eye with her, and their ridiculous procedures again reinforce typical attitudes toward victims of sexual discrimination and violence. A small diversion sees her befriend a young girl whose name triggers another sad episode in her past, while accentuating the tremendous resilience needed for women to survive.

The extremities of birth and death converge in the last act, taking personal motifs of vendetta to a primal level to evoke life’s natural cycle. By this time, Novi has also undergone her own journey of inner awakening so both female protagonists have audiences rooting for them so wholeheartedly that they literally rocked the house with cheering and clapping during the premiere at Cannes’ Director’s Fortnight.

Timothy carries the film majestically, through in a clenched performance that achieves catharsis without demonstrative expression. Kudos also to the male cast, especially Fedly and Pratama for conveying their arrogance and cruelty under a smarmy veneer.

Of the top-notch production, Zeke Khaseli and Ydhi Arfani deserve special mention for their exceptional score, which grasps the spirit of Morricone then reinvents it with original Indonesian elements, such as the soulful folksongs in Sumba dialect that the bandits sing or their use of local instruments. Yunu Pasolang’s lensing provides striking contrasts between dark, confined interiors and the piercingly bright and airy outdoors.

Source: http://wstale.com/tv-movies/marlina-murderer-four-acts-review

The Weinstein Company has set family comedy sequel “Paddington 2” for a Jan. 12 release in the United States.

“Paddington 2” stars Hugh Grant, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, Madeleine Harris, and Brendan Gleeson. Ben Whishaw, and Imelda Staunton, who provide the voices of Paddington and Aunt Lucy, also reprise their roles.

The original “Paddington” opened in late 2014 and grossed nearly $270 million worldwide, including $76.2 million in the U.S. and $59.5 million in the U.K. The much-loved talking bear, who comes from Peru and loves marmalade, is based on a series of children’s books by Michael Bond that launched in 1958.

 

Hugh Grant, Brendan Gleeson Join Cast of ‘Paddington 2’

 

The sequel follows the bear, who’s happily settled with the Brown family and is a popular member of the local community, as he takes on a series of odd jobs to buy the perfect present for his Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday. When the gift is stolen, he and the family attempt to find the thief.

 

 

“Paddington 2” is a co-production of Heyday Films and Studiocanal and produced by David Heyman. Paul King returned to direct from a script he co-wrote with Simon Farnaby. It is fully financed by Studiocanal which will distribute the family film in the U.K., France, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand.

TWC made the “Paddington 2” dating announcement Friday, after Paramount announced it had moved its animated “Sherlock Gnomes” off of Jan. 12 and back to March 23.

“Paddington 2” will face two other titles on Jan. 12. Lionsgate is releasing Liam Neeson’s action-thriller “The Commuter” and Sony’s opening drug sales drama “White Boy Rick” on that date.

Source: http://wstale.com/tv-movies/paddington-2-lands-january-release-u-s-weinstein-company

“Guardians of the Galaxy” Mission Breakout! may be the first of many Marvel-themed attractions to find a home at Disney’s California Adventures.

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts chairman Bob Chapek made the announcement during the opening of the attraction — which replaces the old Tower of Terror ride — Thursday night. In place of a haunted elevator, guests will join Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) as he tries to liberate the Guardians from the clutches of The Collector (Benicio Del Toro) on the vertical thrill ride.

“This is a momentous occasion, but it’s just the beginning of what will become a bigger superhero presence at Disney California Adventures,” Chapek said opening night. “And with the strong partnership at Walt Disney Imagineering, we’re very excited with what’s to come.”

 

‘Guardians of the Galaxy 3’ Will Be the ‘Final in This Iteration,’ James Gunn Says

 

While its unclear exactly what’s next, potential attractions are likely to be on the scale of the blockbuster films they’re inspired by.

 

 

James Gunn, the director behind “Guardians of the Galaxy” and the newly released “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” worked with stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, and Cooper on Mission Breakout! Filming for the attraction was done during production on “Vol. 2.” Gunn continued to consult on the project, from editing the scenes to handpicking the six different tracks played on the ride.

“These directors and writers are experts at the film property they work on. When they come and experience a brand new medium like this — that isn’t something really traditional or expected — they get to express the physical manifestation of what otherwise they only could’ve shown on film,” Chapek explained. “That is very liberating to them.”

Gunn agreed, adding, “It’s different. When you’re speaking to an audience in a movie theater, they’re sitting down, they’re listening. Here, people are in a ride. They’re afraid, they’re amped up, they’re excited. So the language you have to use as a storyteller is much bigger and more intense and faster than it is when you’re in a movie theater.”

When the Walt Disney Imagineers took the reins on the project, they had Marvel’s full backing. “We take these stories from the comics, we put them in another medium of feature films — which is primarily what I do — Walt Disney Imagineering comes and asks to work with us on an attraction. We share ideas and we share stories, but WDI knows what they’re doing,” Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told Variety.

 

Marvel’s ‘Silver Sable and Black Cat’ Taps Director Gina Prince-Bythewood

 

While critics may fear the Disney-fication of the comics, Chapek explained each brand would remain intact. “Everything we do when it comes to Marvel will be within the personality of Marvel,” the Disney Parks head assured. “We will not vanilla-ize Marvel.”

Given that it took just seven months to transform the former Tower — an existing attraction — into the Collector’s Fortress, the new attractions may come quickly.

Marvel has “Spider-Man: Homecoming” out this July, while “Avengers: Infinity War” — it’s massive crossover — is out in May 2018. These upcoming films may be the templates which new attractions could be based.

Source: http://wstale.com/tv-movies/disney-parks-chairman-hints-marvel-attractions-come

Sprawling cinematic universes have done boffo box-office business. “Star Wars,” Marvel comics, DC superheroes, and classic monster tales have all been mined for movie multiplex magic — with awesome auds turning out serious coin for congloms. Now another under-exploited IP may be ready for the silver screen — the song catalog of Simon & Garfunkel.

What began as an apparent joke on Twitter by “Baby Driver” helmer Edgar Wright has turned into an apparent joke on Twitter by Edgar Wright and a bunch of other people. On Friday, Wright tweeted, tagging fellow filmmaker Marc Webb, “I have ‘Baby Driver’ out in June & @MarcW has ‘The Only Living Boy In New York’ in August. Where is the ‘So Long Frank Lloyd Wright’ movie?”

Amazing. The Simon And Garfunkel Song Title Cinematic Universe is growing; The Rock confirms he will star in 'I Am A Rock'.

Source: http://wstale.com/tv-movies/edgar-wright-dwayne-johnson-plot-simon-garfunkel-movie-universe

Perhaps more beautiful and strange than wholly satisfying, it’s nonetheless easy to see why Rungano Nyoni’s debut film arrives in the Directors’ Fortnight sidebar of Cannes trailing ribbons of new-discovery buzz. A defiantly uncategorizable mix of superstition, satire and social anthropology, it tells the story of a small Zambian girl who is denounced as a witch and exiled to a witch camp, where she is alternately exploited and embraced. Singular as that story might be, what makes “I Am Not a Witch” unique, however, is Nyoni’s abundant, maybe even overabundant directorial confidence. It’s rare and exhilarating that a new filmmaker arrives on the scene so sure of herself and so willing to take bold, counter-intuitive chances.

In the film’s elegant Vivaldi-scored opening, a tourist bus disgorges its passengers, including a large woman who is one of the only white people we’ll see. They file past a makeshift fence behind which sit rows of women wearing white paint on their faces, each tethered by a long narrow strip of white cloth, to a spindle. This is a “witch camp” (such arcane places do exist), and it’s no summertime retreat for maladjusted middle-class kids to learn some Wiccan rituals. The camp is a place of exile and containment for women who have been declared to be witches within their communities. But also, as this opening suggests, they are there for public display; this is a human zoo, and the tourists gawk accordingly.

 

 

Suddenly, we’re on a quiet dusty road following a woman carrying a large pail of water on her head. Unexpectedly, because this image of African womanhood is usually imbued with such sure-footed grace, she trips and falls, and the water spills all around. She looks up and sees a small, boyish girl, Shula (the appealingly self-possessed Margaret Mulubwa). And with that, we are in an official’s office where a woman in uniform is listening to the water carrier’s complaint: The child is a witch, she claims.

Shula, incongruously dressed in a ragged T-shirt emblazoned with the word “#bootycall,” is fitted with one of the spindles, which are there to tether the women to the earth and stop them from flying away — and from which they cannot detach themselves for fear of being instantly turned into a goat: The movie is played partly for laughs, partly as social critique and partly as feminist allegory. Shula is tattooed with a symbol that looks like pi on her forehead. And then she is shopped around, using her “powers” to identify thieves and launch a range of presumably magical eggs, by the entrepreneurially opportunist manager of the witch camp, Tembo (John Tembo).

Shula is not a witch, of course, because such things do not exist, but she is a mystery, especially since the director paints her with very little in the way of characterization or understandable motivation. Rather like her treatment by Tembo and by the community that seems to get some catharsis from her denouncement, Shula is a means to an end, a vessel around which Nyoni gathers disparate fragments and impressions.

But the intentions are not always clear: Nyoni herself is a young Zambian-born Welsh woman, who was inspired to tell this story following a research trip to a witch camp in Ghana, and her film is a similar admixture of points of view and perspectives. So while there is a definite critique of the visiting tourists and their prurience, there are also scenes that smack of a tourist’s attitude. Mostly it feels like we’re being asked to empathize with the plight of a little girl being victimized by a cruel society that targets and exploits the vulnerable (or the merely unpopular) in the name of traditions they may or may not actually believe in. But occasionally events feels faintly like cultural condescension, by which we’re meant to laugh or tut-tut at the backwardness of these people with their silly superstitions.

Amid so much that is pointedly unexplained, DP David Gallego’s cinematography remains an organic source of wonder. Best known for his deliciously rich monochrome work on Ciro Guerra’s “Embrace of the Serpent” (also a Directors’ Fortnight breakout), here he works in full, if controlled, color and some of the shots he gets, especially exploring the billowy potential of those long white streamers, have an alien, Hou Hsiao-hsien level of considered fascination.

In places where life is hard, and education patchy at best, mere coincidence can seem like a curse, and some of these tribal communities clearly find periodic relief in scapegoating a certain female (it’s always a female) as the source of all their miseries. After all, a universe in which your misfortunes are the result of active malevolence is still an ordered universe, and that’s a far more comfortable notion than chaos.

Nyoni’s approach may itself be a little too chaotic, and a little too oblique to be fully comprehensible (in particular her counterpointing music cues can overreach, and some of the narrative ellipses confuse). But in the investigation of the dichotomies of ancient and modern, familiar and alien, prosaic and mystical, she clearly has a great deal she wants to say, and now, thanks to this invigorating, intriguing and provocative debut, she has a whole career ahead of her in which to say it.

 

 

Source: http://wstale.com/tv-movies/not-witch-review-cannes-film-festival

Russell Levine, who heads Route One, is heading for the Cannes Film Festival for the third time. Route One is a producer on “Colossal” starring Anne Hathaway, “The Circle,”  starring Tom Hanks, the Jenny Slate Sundance comedy “Landline,” which has sold to Amazon, and recently announced they are producing the Damien Chazelle script “The Claim” and the Fisher Stevens-directed project “Palmer.”

What was your most memorable meal in Cannes?

We had met a French producer during a meal at a bouillabaisse restaurant in Cannes and he asked me and my wife to come with them to a restaurant the next night. So we showed up and they said we were not properly dressed and [they] wound up buying us clothes. So that was by far my most memorable meal in Cannes.

 It is expensive to get to Cannes. What are the best reasons to go to Cannes?

 

 

Almost anything can happen. I do make a point of not [scheduling] meetings with people I can see here. I see friends from Toronto, Asia, Vancouver. And you run into friends, and it occurs to me, “I really need to sit down with that person.”

 You are doing panels with Winston Baker in Cannes. What’s the value of that?

There are people from all over the world. People from all over the world show up to Sundance but it’s kind of a thin group. I don’t know how to put my finger on it. People from everywhere show up at Cannes and it’s a deep group.

 What project will you be talking about in Cannes?

I started the company in 2009 and attached Damien Chazelle to “The Claim” back in 2010 before he did “Whiplash.” He was 24 at the time. As long as I’ve known him, he’s really down to earth.

 What’s the status of “The Claim”?

We’re trying to keep from pissing everyone off because we can’t have everyone direct it and we can’t have everyone act in it. The script is really tight — a great Hitchcockian thriller. We’re hoping to shoot it in October.

 Did Route One turn out like you expected?

It could not have turned out more differently. I was a writer in the 1980s, then left the business for 20 years. I started a biotech communications web site and they asked me to raise some money for this company. I ran the business part for a few years but things weren’t moving fast enough so I moved down here three years ago.

 Your first film at Route One was “A Walk in the Woods.”

It was a nice way to start. It had started with Robert Redford and Paul Newman 13 years ago. It had a lot directors on it but it really got going when Redford moved over to CAA.

 What were you doing in Cannes two years ago?

I just did a lot of meetings. We were selling “Free State of Jones” but this time we have a lot to talk about with “The Claim” and “Palmer.”

How do you manage at Cannes to keep from staying up for three days straight?

I try to space things out with the meetings. I will go to a few parties. I try to see one or two movies if I can while I’m there.

 

 

 

 

Source: http://wstale.com/tv-movies/cannes-talk-russell-levine-route-one-topper

Fresh voices in Italian independent cinema constantly struggle against an overwhelming tide of bigger-budgeted, better-distributed mediocrities, so it’s encouraging to see a film like “Pure Hearts” find a major festival berth, where the attention it receives might just filter through back home. Roberto De Paolis’ debut is a story of two marginalized young people afraid of what’s inside themselves: for Agnese, it’s the fear of sin, for Stefano, it’s the fear of powerlessness. Their unlikely meeting on the periphery of Rome starts a process of self-questioning that leads to both liberation and pain. De Paolis’ nonjudgmental depiction of their two worlds has a raw urgency that should find receptive audiences at festivals worldwide.

SEE MORE: Cannes Film Festival

Strict but loving single mom Marta (Barbora Bobulova) isn’t the stereotypical fundamentalist parent, and Agnese (Selene Caramazza), 17, has a relatively normal life within the controlled limits of her church-based school and community. Yet Marta doesn’t know how to shift from being the parent of a child to the mother of a teen, and she’s confiscated Agnese’s cellphone over worries that her daughter is sending inappropriate messages. When first seen, Agnese has just stolen a phone from a shopping center and is frantically fleeing security guard Stefano (Simone Liberati). Sensing her terror after he catches up, he lets her go.

 

 

Stefano, 25, is starting a new job anyway, guarding a parking lot next to a Roma camp. It’s not a desirable gig — a great shot of the young man seated on a broken-down chair in the middle of the lot, defiantly facing some men in the camp across the way, says everything we need to know about the solitude and boredom of the job, together with the antagonism between him and the people on the other side of the fence.

Meanwhile, Agnese confesses her transgressions to Father Luca (Stefano Fresi), who tells the troubled teen that the limits her mother sets offer protection. “You live well with limits,” the priest advises, with a tone of genuine affection and a desire to help. That’s one of many standout details about “Pure Hearts” — De Paolis presents a picture of the ultra-religious Catholic community not as crazy fanatics but as faithful followers of rules designed to help them negotiate life’s haphazard roads.

Agnese tags along with mom on one of her charity runs at the Roma camp, and there sees Stefano again. The two speak — they’re attracted to each other — and they communicate via her stolen phone. Both are going through a period of limbo: Agnese is negotiating her burgeoning adulthood within the straightjacketing confines of religion while Stefano struggles with other kinds of instability. His parents (Antonella Attili, Federico Pacifici) are being evicted from their home, and his friends, especially Lele (Edoardo Pesce), are seriously bad influences. Agnese and Stefano turn to each other in hope of salvation, but there are no easy paths.

Thankfully, De Paolis doesn’t offer simple answers, and the film’s open ending hits just the right note of uncertainty. Both main characters are equally well drawn, and their unlikely pairing draws out aspects of themselves they barely connected with before. For Agnese, taught to fear the world, her growth into womanhood offers the frightening possibility of pushing away the crutch of Church and faith. For Stefano, seeing his parents in a trailer after their eviction makes him realize there isn’t that much difference between himself and the Roma he instinctively denigrates. Both young people feel their precarious sense of stability slipping away; clinging to each other may be their only chance of survival.

De Paolis spent a long time working with his actors, encouraging improvisation while shooting to ensure spontaneity and authenticity. The experiment works perfectly for the subject matter, drawing out the characters’ fragility, plus it’s nice to see Bobulova (“The Dinner”) in a role worthy of her talents. Like the actors, DP Claudio Cofrancesco was expected to improvise his camerawork on set, resulting in a nimble indie aesthetic — inquisitive yet respectful, and never undisciplined.

Source: http://wstale.com/tv-movies/pure-hearts-review-cannes-film-festival
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