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Posts Tagged ‘Lucy Walker’

Friday January 27th, 2012

‘The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom’ Review. 4 Stars.

By Rhett Bartlett

Directed by Lucy Walker (Waste Land), with the affecting tones of Moby as the soundtrack – ‘The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom’ deserves its Oscar nomination, delivering a profoundly tragic and heartfelt documentary of ruined lives and eternal hope.

Click to read more…

Tuesday January 18th, 2011


  • Hitfix: Greg Ellwood notes that Magnolia Pictures feted the Italian film “I Am Love,” which has been one of the biggest hits in the studio’s history, and the film’s star, best actress longshot possibility Tilda Swinton, at a party at the Tower Bar in West Hollywood last week. Hosted by Quentin Tarantino, a big champion of the film, “the room was filled with industry fans of the film including Willem Dafoe, Marisa Tomei, Marilyn Manson, Amy Poehler (yes, that Amy Poehler), Amber Tamblyn, pretty much the entire Italian consulate to Los Angeles, and numerous critics and journalists who have supported the underdog film during awards season,” Ellwood reports.
  • New York Times: Melena Ryzik chats with “127 Hours” co-screenwriter Simon Beaufoy and learns that the film’s third act, as scripted and shot, was much more extensive than the one that ultimately made it out of the editing room. Beaufoy tells her, “We had a much more resolved ending, so they [the audience] had an emotional connection. There’s a long scene with his mother in the hospital, there’s a long scene with the ex-girlfriend where she told him a few hard truths, there was a scene at his sister’s wedding, which he referenced in the movie. So we had this very unusual movie, and we resolved it in this very Hollywood way.” The day before the film was due, and despite very favorable test screenings, Beaufoy says, “We were looking at it in the cutting room and we had been debating it and we said, it’s a great ending, but not for the movie that we made. It felt dishonest. So we cut it. We felt that the movie really needed to — once he got rescued, it needed to punch out. I felt, emotionally, the movie was over when he says the words, ‘I need help.’”
    • The Wrap: Brent Lang reports that Michael Russell, a widely-respected veteran publicist who represented the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for 17 years before its president Philip Berk abruptly terminated his contract last year, is now suing the HFPA for $2 million in lost salary and additional damanges. In the suit, Russell alleges that the organization, which puts on the annual Golden Globe Awards, is rife with fraud and corrupt practices that “could endanger the Globes’ non-profit status.”

    Photo: Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech.” Credit: The Weinstein Company.

    Friday December 3rd, 2010


    • The Hollywood Reporter: Tim Appelo questions if Paramount’s “striptease Oscar release” for Ethan Coen and Joel Coen’s Western “True Grit” was a “smart move,” noting that the studio “coyly withheld its screenings until the last minute from all but a chosen few,” whom he refers to as “the cool kids.” Jon Landau, the producer of last year’s big late-season release “Avatar,” says, “We live in a day and age where information is so rapidly disseminated you don’t need long campaigns for movies these days.” An ex-studio employee, however, disagrees, noting “Look what’s happening — we’re talking about it.”
    • Gold Derby: Thelma Adams speculates that “the first big casualty of the Oscar season” may be Ryan Gosling (“Blue Valentine”), who “certainly deserves a shot for his raw, ingratiating, multi-faceted performance,” but “is clearly the stepchild in The Weinstein Company’s stable” this year behind Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”), and may therefore get a somewhat lesser push as a result. (Adams notes, however, that Gosling’s co-star Michelle Williams, a best actress hopeful, will probably avoid a similar predicament “since Harvey [Weinstein] doesn’t have an actress competing in that category.”)
    • IFC: Matt Singer argues the case for why best supporting actor longshot John Hawkes “deserves a nomination” for his performance as Teardrop, the complex uncle of Jennifer Lawrence’s Ree in “Winter’s Bone.” (He just received one from the Indie Spirit Awards last week.) Singer explains, “It isn’t simply that Hawkes is a convincing heavy… What makes his performance as Teardrop special is the way he provides near-subliminal hints of depths beneath the terrifying facade… A man like Teardrop would never tell his niece how he was feeling. So Hawkes has to say it all with gestures: the slouch behind the wheel of his truck, the desperate way he drags on his cigarette. In [the] final scene, he tells us exactly what is going to happen to Teardrop after the film is over without uttering a single word.”
    • The Daily Beast: Nicole LaPorte believes that the best actress race “has already boiled down to “a smackdown between just two of the divas,” 29-year-old Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”) and 52-year-old Annette Bening (“The Kids Are All Right”). LaPorte notes that youth has trumped experience over the past decade — “all of the winners have been in their late 20s or 30s,” with the exception of 2006 winner Helen Mirren and Sandra Bullock — and sexiness has been a recurring trait, as well, both of which would seem to give Portman the edge. But Bening has, over the course of her campaign, “made a point to remind fellow thespians that she is an actor’s actor… with a long body of work both on the stage and screen,” not to mention that she did not wear makeup in her film (“going ugly” often works with voters, too).
    • E! Online: Marc Malkin suggests three “of the scenarios being repeated among colleagues, and yes, friends” of slain Oscar publicist Ronni Chasen about what may have led to her brutal murder two weeks ago in Beverly Hills — one relates to the possibility that she was paying off a friend’s gambling debt; another is that she was part of an industry deal gone awry; and the third suggests that she may have been quietly dating a man with whom problems could have developed.

    Photo: “Waste Land.” Credit: Arthouse.

    Monday November 8th, 2010


    • indieWIRE: Peter Knegt reports that Roman Polanski’s dramatic thriller “The Ghost Writer” garnered a field-leading seven nominations for the 2010 European Film Awards including one for best film. “The most notable aspect of the nominations,” he writes, “was the fairly remarkable batch of films absent from the awards’ top category,” including Mike Leigh’s “Another Year,” Luca Guadagnino’s “I Am Love,” Olivier Assayas’s “Carlos,” Abbas Kiarostami’s “Certified Copy,” and Sylvain Chomet’s “The Illusionist.” Knegt adds, though, that “some of those films picked up nominations in other categories.” Winners will be announced at a ceremony on December 4 in Tallinn, Estonia.
    • New York Times: A.O. Scott visits with his great uncle, the legendary character actor Eli Wallach, less than a week before the Academy presents the 94-year-old with an honorary Oscar at its second annual Governors Awards ceremony.
    • Virgin Media: An unattributed report features quotes from the actress Mila Kunis about her portrayal of Natalie Portman’s nemesis in the soon-to-be-released thriller “Black Swan.” Regarding her lesbian sex scene with Portman, Kunis acknowledged, “It is slightly uncomfortable to have to be intimate with a good friend. The scene’s important for the character, but we went in going, ‘This is going to be a little different,’ yeah.” Kunis added, “She’s the strangest character I’ve ever played.”
    • New York Times: Manohla Dargis dissects director Tyler Perry (“For Colored Girls”), a film industry phenomenon who “has been led out to critical slaughter so many times, it might seem a wonder that he continues to make movies,” but who has found “enormous commercial success with a mainly black audience.” As Dargis puts it, “Whether you like Mr. Perry’s work may depend on your color or sex or love of boiling melodrama, ribald comedy, abrupt tonal shifts, blunt social messages, unforced talk about God, and flourishes of camp, sometimes whipped together in one scene.”
    • indieWIRE: Peter Knegt breaks down the impressive box-office numbers generated this weekend by “127 Hours,” which played in just four theaters in New York and Los Angeles but raked in $265,925 revenue from — or, in other words, “a whopping $66,481 per-theater-average.” That number comes close to but does not surpass 2010’s record, which is held by “The Kids Are All Right,” which brought in $70,282-per-seven screens this past July, but it is “now the clear runner-up, beating out ‘The Ghost Writer‘ and ‘Cyrus,’ which each had debut averages around $45,000.”
    • The Observer: Sean O’Hagan chats about cinema’s “digital revolution” with Hussain Currimbhoy, curator of Britain’s Sheffield Doc/Fest. The duo specifically focus on the unprecedented access to “affordable high-end digital camera and laptop technology,” and Lucy Walker, the young director of two of this year’s top docs — “Countdown to Zero” and “Waste Land” — insists that this low-budget technologyis responsible for “a golden age of documentary filmmaking” that is now upon us.
    • 24 Frames: Amy Kaufman sits down with three of Hollywood’s hottest young stars — Jesse Eisenberg, 27, Andrew Garfield, 27, and Carey Mulligan, 25 — to discuss the ways in which they handle “the challenges of global stardom as twentysomethings,” as well the perks of the job (including private jets, which Eisenberg tells her he enjoys because they are bigger than his New York City apartment.) This year, Eisenberg and Garfield co-starred in “The Social Network” and Garfield and Mulligan co-starred in “Never Let Me Go.”
    • Vanity Fair: Kate Reardon profiles the up-and-coming French actress Clemence Poesy, who American audiences will soon come to know as the ex-girlfriend of Aron Ralston (James Franco) in Danny Boyle’s heart-pounding “127 Hours.” The 27-year-old, described as “polite, enthusiastic, and well educated,” will subsequently star in the title role of a new adaptation of the Joan of Arc story.
    • 24 Frames: Steven Zeitchik wonders what exactly propelled Bruce Beresford’s “Mao’s Last Dancer,” an Australian-produced film that “features no big-name stars, drew mediocre reviews, and traffics in the esoterica of Chinese ballet,” to become one of the most acclaimed art-house hits of the year. “Despite a tough climate for specialty films,” Zeitchik writes, “the largely English-language movie is nearing the $5 million mark in U.S. box office ($4.5 million coming into this weekend) — an impressive run that’s lasted nearly three months.”
    • New York Times: Margalit Fox mourns the passing of actress Jill Clayburgh, who died on Friday at the age of 66 following a 21-year battle with chronic leukemia. Clayburgh, who was best known for her strong feminist roles — especially those in “An Unmarried Woman” (1978) and “Starting Over” (1979), both of which brought her best actress Oscar nods — and whose final performance can be seen in the upcoming “Love and Other Drugs,” in which she portrays the mother of Jake Gyllenhaal’s character.
    • Movieline: Dixon Gaines reports that Oscar show producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer asked Hugh Jackman, who hosted the 81st Academy Awards in 2009, to host the 83rd Academy Awards on February 27, 2011, but were turned down by the actor. Gaines, therefore, offers a few “humble suggestions” for others to whom the producers could turn: among them, Neil Patrick Harris, Steve Martin, Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey, and Joan Rivers. (Other reports suggest that 88-year-old Betty White is being seriously considered for the job!)

    Photo: Ewan McGregor in “The Ghost Writer.” Credit: Summit.

    Monday November 1st, 2010


    • New York Times: Leah Rozen profiles Rachel McAdams, who plays a hotshot television producer in the upcoming comedy “Morning Glory,” and floats the possibility that it could be “the breakout hit that will do for her what ‘Pretty Woman’ did for Julia Roberts in 1990.” McAdams, who doesn’t work often, tells Rozen, “I try to pick movies that I want to make, that offer a challenge, but that people want to see. Why do all that work if it’s for naught? If you act and nobody sees it, is it still acting?”
    • Los Angeles Times: John Horn learns why David Seidler, the screenwriter of “The King’s Speech,” was particularly attracted to the story of King George VI’s fight to overcome his stutter. As a child, “Seidler had been evacuated to the United States before the Blitz. The voyage — in which a convoy ship had been sunk by a U-boat — traumatized him” and left him with a profound stutter. Seidler, who “followed the war’s progress on the radio, listening to King George, who by then could manage his stammer,” tells Horn, “I heard these wonderful, moving speeches, and had heard that he had been a terrible stutterer… it gave me hope.”
    • Los Angeles Times: John Horn lists the latest number of people who have fainted during early screenings of “127 Hours” due to its realistic depiction of the trapped outdoorsman Aron Ralston (James Franco) amputating his own arm with a pocket knife. Horn wonders if it will help or hurt the film’s commercial performance when it is released theatrically on Friday, and solicits a variety of opinions on the matter. Stephen Gilula, the co-president of Fox Searchlight (which is distributing the film), tells him, “I would prefer that people not pass out — it’s not a plus.” However, Jason Squire, who teaches about the business side of the film industry at USC, says, “Are you kidding? I think it really helps.”
    • RogerEbert.com: Roger Ebert interviews Justin Timberlake about how he morphed from a pop-music sensation into a standout actor for this year’s “The Social Network,” noting that the 29-year-old “is new to the front ranks of feature films, with all due respect to ‘The Love Guru’ and ‘Black Snake Moan.'” J.T., who portrays Napster founder Sean Parker in the film, tells him, “The script was its own song, really… The rhythm of this film was so established by Sorkin… I can’t think of a writer working today that could have done a more masterful job… The way that character was written was just too much fun.”
    • Movie City News: David Poland feels that “the most popular trend in Oscar advertising” this year is “waiting as late as possible to launch your campaign.” He notes, “It’s almost Halloween, and with the release of “Toy Story 3 on DVD next week, the first serious Best Picture nomination contender will hit voter’s mailboxes.” That means, of course, that “there will be as big an awards pile-up this early December as we have ever seen,” and “it’s going to be brutal to get voters to watch the smaller movies.”
    • National Public Radio: Pat Dowell chats with filmmaker Lucy Walker about her latest documentary “Waste Land,” which premiered at Sundance in January and won the Audience Award. The film follows Brazilian artist Vik Muniz and a group of “catadores,” or pickers of recyclable materials,” as they sift through a landfill in Rio de Janeiro that “receieves more tons of trash every day than any other dump in the world,” and then turn turn their discoveries into highly-coveted works of art.
    • The Awards Circuit: Jackson Truax believes that of the 65 films eligible for this year’s best foreign language film Oscar, the one with the best shot at winning — indeed, one that looks “custom made to win” — is Rachid Bouchareb’s “Outside the Law,” a controversial drama about three brothers who fight for Algeria’s independence from France after WWII, lose their home, and are scattered across the globe, only to cross paths again years later in ways that they could never have imagined. Bouchareb previously directed another film about the French-Algerian conflict, “Days of Glory” (2006), which was nominated for the best foreign language film Oscar. This one will be released domestically later this month.
    • PopEater: A staff report indicates that Michael Douglas, the 66-year-old star of “Solitary Man”/“Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” who is currently battling stage 4 throat cancer, has been regularly making the three-hour trek from New York to Pennsylvania to visit his son Cameron Douglas, 31, who is serving a five-year prison sentence there for possessing heroin and dealing large amounts of methamphetamine and cocaine. Douglas’s publicist says, “Michael completed his treatment about three weeks ago and is recuperating from the process. No further treatments are scheduled.”

    Photo: Rachel McAdams in “Morning Glory.” Credit: Paramount.

    Thursday October 28th, 2010


    • indieWIRE: Peter Knegt reviews the International Documentary Association’s nominees for the 2010 IDA Documentary Awards, which will be presented at the Directors Guild Theater in Los Angeles on December 3rd as part of a ceremony hosted by the Oscar nominated doc filmmaker Morgan Spurlock (“Super Size Me”). The five distinguished feature nominees are Banksy’s “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” Laura Poitras’s “The Oath,” Joonas Berghaell and Mika Hotakainen’s “Steam of Life,” Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor’s “Sweetgrass,” and Lucy Walker’s “Waste Land.” According to IDA executive director Michael Lumpkin, “Entries to the Awards increased by nearly 20% this year, and the quality of the films vying for recognition is unprecedented.”
    • Charlie Rose”: Charlie Rose conducts the definitive interview with the actress Noomi Rapace, who portrays the title character in the Swedish film adaptations of Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium Trilogy”: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Girl Who Played with Fire,” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” (the third of which will debut in American theaters on Friday). Rapace, who in real life is not masculine and goth like Lisbeth Salander, but rather feminine and classically beautiful, tells Rose that she got the part after refusing to audition but promising to “go all the way” with it. She got a license to ride a motorcycle, performed her own stunts, got the prescribed piercings, and changed the very shape of her body — just about the only thing she didn’t do, ironically enough, was get a dragon tattoo!
    • Rope of Silicon: Brad Brevet says he was convinced that Lesley Manville’s performance as a “desperate yet endearing alcoholic” in Mike Leigh’s “Another Year” would be pushed by Sony Pictures Classics in the best supporting actress category, but learned yesterday during a phone call with the studio’s co-president Michael Barker that she is actually being touted as a best actress contender. Barker’s rationale, according to Brevet: “She has the largest amount of screen time in the film and… lead is the general consensus based on whom he’s spoken with.” Brevet’s rationale: “The supporting actress category is there for the taking… she would almost certainly win should the landscape remain the way it is now (I’m looking at you Melissa Leo).”
    • Gold Derby: Tom O’Neil assesses the awards prospects of best supporting actress hopeful Jacki Weaver for “Animal Kingdom” in the wake of the film receiving a record-breaking 18 Australian Film Institute Award nominations on Tuesday, including one for Weaver (albeit in the best actress category). Weaver, who portrays the protagonists grandmother “Smurf” in the “modern-day film noir,” has a couple of other things going for her, as well, according to O’Neil: “(1) ‘Animal Kingdom’ was the first DVD screener sent to Oscar voters this derby season, and (2) Sony Pictures Classics has been actively tub-thumping for Weaver by sending us Oscar bloggers T-shirts with her image on the front. (Thanks, SPC! Do I have to declare this on my taxes?)”
    • Movieline: S.T. VanAirsdale senses that “The Fighter” cast is falling into two very different categories this awards season. “Nobody seems to be able to move the needle” on best actor hopeful Mark Wahlberg and best supporting actress hopeful Amy Adams,” he writes, but there is a growing sense that best supporting actor hopeful Christian Bale and best supporting actress hopeful Melissa Leo are “the real deal as the real as the mother and brother/trainer… of Wahlberg’s titular Boston pugilist Micky Ward.” He jokingly adds, “The word “transformative” came up, as did the phrase “chowderhead verite”… [Geoffrey] Rush [of “The King’s Speech“] doesn’t stand a chance.”
    • Hollywood-Elsewhere: Jeff Wells rues the recently confirmed reports that “Avatar” director James Cameron has agreed to helm two sequels to the film, “Avatar 2” (planned for 2014) and “Avatar 3” (planned for 2015). Wells writes that he feels “vaguely bummed out” by the news, which he sees as a downer because “it’s basically a corporate cash-grab move… it’s a creatively lazy enterprise for Cameron, as it’ll be no great feat to come up with a prequel and a sequel… I’m not feeling a need to go there again… the ending of ‘Avatar’ was perfect (i.e., the opening of the transformed Jake Sully’s eyes)… and because a guy like Cameron committing to a two-movie, four-year rehash project that is primarily about making money (i.e., certainly on 20th Century Fox’s end) is a kind of capitulation to the golden-calf mentality.”

    Photo: Banksy, in silhouette, in “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” Credit: Producers Distribution Agency.

    Sunday August 29th, 2010


    Since I first started covering the annual awards seasons a decade ago, one of the most striking trends I have observed has been a marked uptick in the quantity and quality of documentary features. Each November, the Academy’s documentary branch selects 15 for a shortlist from which they ultimately pick five nominees. This year, I don’t know how they’re going to do it — Fall hasn’t even arrived yet and there are already way more than 15 worthy candidates. Frankly, I don’t think it would be going out on a huge limb to declare 2010 the strongest — or, at the very least, the deepest — year yet in the history of documentary filmmaking.

    Here’s a bit of commentary on each of the docs that are registering strongest on my radar at the moment…

    Now in Theaters

    • “The Tillman Story” (The Weinstein Company, 8/20, trailer) — Amir Bar-Lev (“My Kid Could Paint That”) tells the true story of the man who gave up a multi-million dollar NFL contract to join the U.S. Army; who was killed in Iraq in 2004; whose “heroic” death the Bush Administration tried to use to increase public support for the war; but whose family — most of whom granted interviews for the film — ultimately discovered that the true manner in which he had been killed had been buried as part of a cover-up that led directly to the highest reaches of the military and government.
    • “A Film Unfinished” (Oscilloscope, 8/18, trailer) — The object of recents raves in Entertainment Weekly and the New York Times, Yael Hersonski‘s doc deconstructs “Das Ghetto,” a Nazi propaganda film of Jewish life in the Warsaw Ghetto that was shot in 1942, and which for 40 years was considered to be unmanipulated footage until another reel was discovered and exposes it as anything but that. The most powerful part of this multi-faceted effort to set the record straight: testimony from five Holocaust survivors who lived in the ghetto, as well as one of the cameramen who filmed it.

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