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The Mythic Power of ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’

Looking back on this still-young century makes clear that 2007 was a major time for cinematic happenings — and, on the basis of this retrospective, one we’re not quite through with ten years on. One’s mind might quickly flash to a few big titles that will be represented, but it is the plurality of both festival and theatrical premieres that truly surprises: late works from old masters, debuts from filmmakers who’ve since become some of our most-respected artists, and mid-career turning points that didn’t necessarily announce themselves as such at the time. Join us as an assembled team, many of whom were coming of age that year, takes on their favorites.

“I can’t figure it out. Do want to be like me or do you want to be me?”

From the opening frames of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Andrew Dominik stokes
See full article at The Film Stage »

Criterion Collection: My Own Private Idaho| Blu-ray Review

  • ioncinema
Patching together portraits of his beloved Portland streets, bits of Shakespeare’s Henry IV via Welles’ tumultuous Chimes at Midnight, and vignettes of a narcoleptic vagabond hustler whose motherless anxieties send him travelling through time and space in shimmeringly nostalgic deep sleep, Gus Van Sant‘s My Own Private Idaho is a wildly original amalgam of cultural references and personal investments that transcend a mere tip of the hat. Riding high in the wake of Drugstore Cowboy‘s Hollywood success, Van Sant convinced River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves, two rising Tinseltown heart-throbs, to take a serious risk, committing themselves, against the loudly voiced opinions of their agents, to a pair of overtly homosexual roles in a film that opens with an off-screen blowjob. After River was awarded the prizes for Best Actor from the Venice International Film Festival, the Independent Spirit Awards and the National Society of Film Critics Awards
See full article at ioncinema »

5 Things We’d Love to See in the Upcoming James Franco Documentary

If there’s anyone who doesn’t need more exposure, it’s James Franco. But don’t tell that to Lisa Vangellow, an unknown director who The Wrap reports has been shooting a documentary on the prolific actor since last June. And to give it a little more professional cred, it’s being cut by Franco’s own editor for his upcoming movie Bukowski, Curtiss Clayton (also of Drugstore Cowboy, Buffalo ’66 and much more). According to an official synopsis for the Franco documentary, which is simply titled Franco: A Documentary, Vangellow was an Mfa student of his at UCLA, and she is approaching the subject of her film from that perspective. “The documentary will examine the incredible stamina and work ethic that James Franco possesses and how he incorporates this into his various areas of artistic interest,” states the Orchid Child Productions website. “What inspires and motivates him to take on so much and how is it
See full article at FilmSchoolRejects »

James Franco's life is -- of course -- a documentary

James Franco's life is -- of course -- a documentary
It all makes sense now. Sort of. James Franco has been a willing subject in a documentary about his life for the last year. One of his film students at UCLA, Lisa Vangellow, is directing the nearly-completed film, which promises to “examine the incredible stamina and work ethic that James Franco possesses and how he incorporates this into his various areas of artistic interest,” according to Vangellow’s production company’s website.

According to The Wrap, Franco. A Documentary enjoyed access to Franco colleagues, including Seth Rogen and Klaus Biesenbach of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Curtiss Clayton
See full article at EW.com - Inside Movies »

Brace Yourselves, There's Going to Be a James Franco Documentary

  • Indiewire
Just in case you don't get enough of James Franco from his acting career, his directing career, his screenwriting career, his performance art career, his book writing career, his poetry, his angry, viral Instagram, or his myriad academic endeavors, fear not, more Franco is heading our way! According to The Wrap, a documentary focused on Franco from first time director Lisa Vangellow is almost complete. The film will follow a year in his professional and personal life, because apparently someone thought that he's not overexposed enough already.  "Franco: A Documentary" started filming in June 2013  and is now being edited by Veteran Curtiss Clayton, who is also cutting Franco's upcoming "Bukowski." Klaus Biesenbach, chief curator-at-large of New York's Museum of Modern Art, and Seth Rogen are also said to be featured in the film. Sadly, no word on any appearance from New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley, whom Franco called a "little bitch" after.
See full article at Indiewire »

Venice Film Review: ‘Child of God’

Venice Film Review: ‘Child of God’
Moving right along from his well-received “As I Lay Dying,” James Franco hurls himself into the work of one of Faulkner’s spiritual descendants with this determinedly rough and ragged take on Cormac McCarthy’s chilling 1973 novel, “Child of God.” Descending into the cavernous lower depths of human depravity inhabited by Lester Ballard, modern literature’s most famous necrophile, Franco has emerged with an extremely faithful, suitably raw but still relatively hemmed-in adaptation that compares favorably with his earlier films, yet falls short of achieving a truly galvanizing portrait of social and sexual deviance. If commercial success remains well out of reach for a film with this many bodily fluids and violated corpses, the picture’s artistic seriousness and the unimpeachable commitment of Scott Haze in the Ballard role should nonetheless keep Franco’s partisans energized. A plum berth in the New York Film Festival will follow its North American premiere in Toronto.
See full article at Variety - Film News »

First Images from Henry’S Crime and More Images from Daydream Nation

  • Collider.com
Continuing on with our first look image series, tonight we’ve got the first images from director Malcolm Venville’s Henry’s Crime (which stars Keanu Reeves, Vera Farmiga, James Caan, Danny Hoch, and Fisher Stevens) and more images from Mike Goldbach’s Daydream Nation (which stars Kat Dennings, Reece Thompson, Andie MacDowell, Josh Lucas, and Rachel Blanchard). Synopses and more info after the jump:

While I’ll agree that Keanu Reeves isn’t the best actor, I think he gets more shit than he deserves. Personally, I’ve really enjoyed a lot of his movies and will usually check out whatever he’s doing…I stress the word usually, because even I wouldn’t see The Lake House.

Anyway, his new film, Henry’s Crime, premieres at the Toronto Film Festival. Here’s the synopsis:

After serving three years in prison for a bank robbery he did not commit,
See full article at Collider.com »

10 make cut for ACE noms

Members of the American Cinema Editors have cut together an assembly of 10 nominees in two film categories for next month's 2007 Eddie Awards recognizing outstanding editing.

Making the dramatic feature film cut are Stephen Mirrione and Douglas Crise for Babel, Stuart Baird for Casino Royale, Thelma Schoonmaker for The Departed, Lucia Zucchetti for The Queen and the triumvirate of Clare Douglas, Christopher Rouse and Richard Pearson for United 93.

In the comedy feature heat, the nominees are Mark Livolsi for The Devil Wears Prada, Virginia Katz for Dreamgirls, Pamela Martin for Little Miss Sunshine, Craig Wood and Stephen Rivkin for "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," and Dana Glauberman for Thank You for Smoking.

In the documentary competition, the nominees are Jay Cassidy and Dan Swietlik for An Inconvenient Truth, Patrick McMahon and Carrie Goldman for Baghdad ER and Samuel D. Pollard for Part 1 of Spike Lee's "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts."

The nominees for miniseries or motion picture for noncommercial television are Beverley Mills for HBO's Elizabeth I, Part 1, Curtiss Clayton and Lee Percy for HBO's Mrs. Harris, and Trevor Waite for A&E's "Prime Suspect 7: The Final Act, Part 1."

Best-edited miniseries or motion picture for commercial television earned nominations for Sue Blainey, Sarah Boyd and Stephen Semel for ABC's Lost: Live Together, Die Alone, Geoffrey Rowland, Eric Sears, Bryan Horne, David Handman and Mitchell Danton for ABC's "The Path to 9/11, Part Two," and Heather Persons for TNT's The Ron Clark Story.

In the half-hour series for television race, the contenders are Jon Corn for HBO's Entourage: Sorry Ari, Lance Luckey for NBC's My Name Is Earl: Number One, and Dean Holland and David Rogers for NBC's The Office: Casino Nights.

The one-hour series nominees for commercial television are Leon Ortiz-Gil for Fox's 24: 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM, Conrad Gonzalez, Keith Henderson and Steve Michael for NBC's Friday Night Lights: Pilot, and Edward Ornelas for ABC's "Grey's Anatomy: It's the End of the World."

All eight film, television and documentary category winners will be disclosed during the editors' 57th annual awards ceremony Feb.

10 make cut for ACE noms

Members of the American Cinema Editors have cut together an assembly of 10 nominees in two film categories for next month's 2007 Eddie Awards recognizing outstanding editing.

Making the dramatic feature film cut are Stephen Mirrione and Douglas Crise for Babel, Stuart Baird for Casino Royale, Thelma Schoonmaker for The Departed, Lucia Zucchetti for The Queen and the triumvirate of Clare Douglas, Christopher Rouse and Richard Pearson for United 93.

In the comedy feature heat, the nominees are Mark Livolsi for The Devil Wears Prada, Virginia Katz for Dreamgirls, Pamela Martin for Little Miss Sunshine, Craig Wood and Stephen Rivkin for "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," and Dana Glauberman for Thank You for Smoking.

In the documentary competition, the nominees are Jay Cassidy and Dan Swietlik for An Inconvenient Truth, Patrick McMahon and Carrie Goldman for Baghdad ER and Samuel D. Pollard for Part 1 of Spike Lee's "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts."

The nominees for miniseries or motion picture for noncommercial television are Beverley Mills for HBO's Elizabeth I, Part 1, Curtiss Clayton and Lee Percy for HBO's Mrs. Harris, and Trevor Waite for A&E's "Prime Suspect 7: The Final Act, Part 1."

Best-edited miniseries or motion picture for commercial television earned nominations for Sue Blainey, Sarah Boyd and Stephen Semel for ABC's Lost: Live Together, Die Alone, Geoffrey Rowland, Eric Sears, Bryan Horne, David Handman and Mitchell Danton for ABC's "The Path to 9/11, Part Two," and Heather Persons for TNT's The Ron Clark Story.

In the half-hour series for television race, the contenders are Jon Corn for HBO's Entourage: Sorry Ari, Lance Luckey for NBC's My Name Is Earl: Number One, and Dean Holland and David Rogers for NBC's The Office: Casino Nights.

The one-hour series nominees for commercial television are Leon Ortiz-Gil for Fox's 24: 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM, Conrad Gonzalez, Keith Henderson and Steve Michael for NBC's Friday Night Lights: Pilot, and Edward Ornelas for ABC's "Grey's Anatomy: It's the End of the World."

All eight film, television and documentary category winners will be disclosed during the editors' 57th annual awards ceremony Feb.

Sherrybaby

Sherrybaby
PARK CITY -- Freedom's just another course for everything else to lose. In this story of a young woman just released from prison who tries to recon-nect with her young daughter, "freedom" entails the possibility of returning to drugs. Starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, "Sherrybaby" might find its widest audience on the Lifetime network.

In this hu-mane and vital story, filmmaker Laurie Collyer has captured the horror of having a life go out of control. In addicts' terms, Sherry (Gyllenhaal) has a lot of "wreckage": things she must clean up in her life caused during her drugging and jailing. When Sherry is released on parole to a halfway house, she makes a full-hearted attempt to re-enter her daughter Alexis Ryan' Simpkins) life. Not surprisingly, the little girl is wary, and it's evident that her brother (Brad Henke) and sister-in-law (Bridget Barkan) have bonded strongly with Alexis.

It's a daunting undertaking for someone as fragile as Sherry, especially because she doesn't clearly see the fine line of her addiction. Socially and psychologically, it's survival one day at a time. Enduring the abrasions of the halfway house as well as the hostilities of her parole officer (Giancarlo Esposito), Sherry inevitably lets the pressures get to her: a sip of beer, and it's straight back down that slippery slope.

Buoyed by Gyllenhaal's hauntingly complex portrait of the vivacious but addictive Sherry, the film is no mere by-the-numbers chronology of addiction. Gyllenhaal's sympathetic and charismatic performance binds us to the horror of Sherry's personal demons. In true addict fashion, Gyllenhaal bounds between euphoria and despair.

Under Collyer's understanding hand, other performances are exemplary, most prominently Danny Trejo as a weather-beaten but life-driven addict.

Technical contributions cap off the intelligent storytelling: Cinematographer Russell Lee Fine's incisive framings clue us to the delicate personal relationships, while composer Mark Livesey's edgy sounds nudge us to the horrors that one weak moment can wreak.

SHERRYBABY

Sherry Films

Credits:

Screenwriter-director: Laurie Collyer

Producers: Marc Turtletaub, Lemore Syvan

Executive producer: Jeb Brody

Director of photography: Russell Lee Fine

Production designer: Stephen Beatrice

Music: Jack Livesey

Costume designer: Jill Newell

Editors: Curtiss Clayton, Joe Landauer

Cast:

Sherry: Maggie Gyllenhaal

Bobby: Brad Henke

Parole Officer Hernandez: Giancarlo Esposito

Bob Sr.: Sam Bottoms

Lynette: Bridget Barkan

Alexis: Ryan Simpkins

Marcia: Kate Burton

Andy: Rio Hackford

Dean: Danny Trejo

No MPAA rating

Running time -- 96 minutes

Mrs. Harris

TORONTO -- Playwright Phyllis Nagy makes her motion picture writing and directing debut with “Mrs. Harris, â€. an investigation into the 1980s murder scandal that saw Jean Harris, headmistress of a posh girls school, shoot and kill her lover of 15 years, cardiologist Dr. Herman “Hy” Tarnower, the world-renowned creator of the “Scarsdale Diet.”

The film was “inspired” by Shana Alexander’s book, but the tone comes straight out of the tabloids. This tone lies somewhere south of smugness but north of pure derision.

The HBO movie premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, but it doesn’t feel entirely at home on the big screen. Its two stars, Annette Bening and Ben Kingsley, do wonderful jobs, but the repetitive and arch film feels small and condescending.

The movie begins with a credits sequence in which old movie clips show angry women gunning down two-timing lovers as a jocular rendition of “Put the Blame on Mame” plays on the soundtrack. The movie then continues this theme as it begins at the end when our Miss Jean guns down Dr. T.

Nagy stages scene according to Harris’ testimony -- that it was a failed suicide attempt in which the doctor’s intervention lead to his death. Much later, the scene is revisited and restaged as a cold-blooded murder, but Nagy’s heart clearly isn’t in the second scenario. For her entire movie portrays Jean Harris, a neurotic, depressed, pill-popping, tired woman of 56, exhausted by her lover’s frequent infidelities, as a woman who genuinely wanted to do herself in.

The movie heads into the murder trial with documentary-style interviews of witnesses and cross-examinations by lawyers even as it backtracks in flashbacks through the years of ill-fated romance between the society doctor and lively divorcee.

Very early on, Hy declares to Jean, “I’m your bastard.” That essentially sums up the movie and their relationship. Scenes of romance, betrayal and disillusionment spiral back to romance and then more unfaithfulness with tiresome regularity despite the superb efforts of the two stars.

Only actors with their skills can discover so many levels in characters that never change course. Hy will always be a bastard, though maybe not Jean’s bastard, and she will always be willing to tolerate -- or at least dismiss with a withering quip -- his fragrant philandering.

But the sheer banality of it all overwhelms the film. Perhaps aware of this, Nagy takes us off for side adventures such as a gym locker room where all the males secretly admire the size of Hy’s genitals.

Pop songs from the era, often about obsessive love, comment on the melodrama on screen. The film achieves a period look without calling attention to it. And one can only surmise that the re-creation of Hy’s bedroom is scrupulously accurate for what other reason can one give for such atrocious decor?

MRS. HARRIS

HBO Films

Killer Films/Number 9 Films/John Wells Prods.

Credits: Writer/director: Phyllis Nagy; Inspired by the book by: Shana Alexander; Producer: Chrisann Verges; Executive producers: Elizabeth Karlsen, Pamela Koffler, Christine Vachon, John Wells; Director of photography: Steven B. Poster; Production designer: Alison Dominitz; Costumes: Julie Weiss; Music: John Frizzell; Editors: Curtiss Clayton, Lee Percy.

Cast: Jean Harris: Annette Bening; Dr. Herman Tarnower: Ben Kingsley; Marge: Frances Fisher; Arthur: Philip Hall Baker; Tarnower’s sister: Cloris Leachman; Lynne: Chloe Sevigny.

No MPAA rating, running time 94 minutes.

See also

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