24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: October 2011

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'The Descendants': George Clooney on the first day of filming

October 31, 2011 |  5:08 pm

George ClooneyWhat scares George Clooney?

It's not necessarily the paparazzi stalking his every move, having a "Facts of Life" flashback or watching Mitt Romney steal his best "Ides of March" dialogue.

Rather, it's being the guy — the very first one — who makes a bad Alexander Payne movie.

In this excerpt from our Envelope Screening Series, the "Syriana" Oscar winner talks about why he was terrified showing up for the first day of Payne's movie about a father trying to reconnect with his young daughters.

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Telluride Film Festival: Movies get in touch with the land

Critic's Notebook: Antiheroes rule the screen at Toronto

Telluride Film Festival: George Clooney's 'The Descendants' makes waves

— John Horn

Photo: George Clooney, left, and Shailene Woodley in "The Descendants." Credit: Fox Searchlight.


Spielberg's 'The Adventures of Tintin' to close AFI Fest

October 31, 2011 |  3:33 pm

The Adventures of Tintin will close the 2011 AFI Fest
Steven Spielberg's "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn" will be the closing night screening at AFI Fest.

The Hollywood festival -- which kicks off Thursday evening with the world premiere of Clint Eastwood's "J. Edgar" -- will conclude with a gala screening of the animated 3-D picture on Thursday, Nov. 10.

While the Peter Jackson-produced movie opened in 19 foreign markets this last weekend, the movie doesn't hit theaters in the U.S. until Dec. 21. The film, based on a beloved 82-year-old Belgian comic about a young reporter in search of treasure, is already off to a strong start abroad. Not only did it rake in an estimated $55.8 million overseas over the weekend, but early critical reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. 

For the Fest's 25th anniversary edition, festival director Jacqueline Lyanga said it was special to be opening and closing with big films from two iconic American directors.

AFI Fest is offering free tickets to all of its screenings for the third year in a row. 

RELATED:

Eastwood's 'J. Edgar,' starring DiCaprio, to open AFI Fest

Spielberg's 'Tintin' off to a solid start at European box office

Spielberg's 'Tintin' will open in Europe two months before U.S.

-- Amy Kaufman

twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: A scene from "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn." Credit: Paramount Pictures


Why renters and pirates watch such different movies

October 31, 2011 |  3:31 pm

Inception
I'm just as obsessed with lists as everyone else, so it caught my eye the other day when Time put two lists up against each other--the most rented movies at Netflix vs. the most illegally downloaded movies from TorrentFreak. The comparison was eye-catching, since if you just compiled the top five entries from each list, as Time did, there was no overlap at all.

Netflix's most rented movies of all time was led by "The Blind Side," with "Crash" at No. 2, "The Bucket List" at No. 3, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" at No. 4 and "The Hurt Locker" at No. 5

TorrentFreak's most pirated films list was led by (no surprise here) "Avatar," followed by "The Dark Knight," "Transformers," "Inception" and "The Hangover." So what does it tell us?

Patrickgoldsteinbigpicture2

Well, first off, it reminds us that while the MPAA regularly works itself up into a lather about how piracy is undoing the very foundations of the movie biz, that the most pirated movies of all time made tons of moola at the box office, raising the very real possibility that a lot of kids who watch pirated movies also go see them in a theater. But I digress.

Time's theory about why the two lists look so different was simple: Dudes really like to steal movies; their moms like to rent them. But it's actually a little more complicated than that. I'd argue that the lists demonstrate that TorrentFreak customers are early adopters while Netflix subscribers are late adopters. Being largely young, Torrent fans go for the eye candy movies that have the biggest buzz of the moment while the Netflix crowd, which skews older, prefers movies that have a more cerebral sort of buzz, the prestige of critical cachet.

In fact, four of the top 5 Netflix films were Oscar best picture nominees. And the broader Netflix list includes a host of Oscar best picture winners, including "The Departed" (No. 6), "No Country for Old Men" (No.10) and "Slumdog Millionaire" (No. 15). If you go deeper into Torrent's top 10, you find even more movies of the moment--such non-critical favorites as "Kick-Ass (No. 7) and "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" (No. 10).

This theory passed muster with a studio executive who specializes in the home video end of the business. He said that if Netflix were to make available a list of the most rented movies of this past year, the list would be even more heavily tilted toward family titles. From his perspective, Netflix has gone from being a home for die-hard movie fans to a family-centric subscription service. Or as the executive put it: "People have discovered that Netflix is the world's greatest baby-sitter for their kids."

Torrent fans are much more likely to watch new movies, especially the big studio titles that are propelled by a tsunami of TV and Web marketing. Piracy, almost by definition, skews toward the movies of the moment, since piracy is largely an impulse activity. The act of renting, especially at Netflix, is more of an archival pursuit, which is why a film like "Crash," despite being released in 2005, can still be near the top of the most-rented film list.

And then there's "The Departed" and "Inception," which turn up on both top 10 lists. I guess it just goes to show that sometimes, a movie of the moment can be a movie for the ages too.

RELATED:

Call me a contrarian but I say Netflix is on the right track

Once high-flying Netflix is now stumbling

--Patrick Goldstein 

Photo: Leonardo DiCaprio in a scene from "Inception." Credit: Warner Bros. Films


Box Office: 'Puss in Boots' tramples Timberlake, Depp [Video]

October 31, 2011 |  1:54 pm

Puss in Boots was the No 1 film at the box office this weekend

The animated 3-D film "Puss in Boots" easily climbed to the top of the weekend box office, grossing $34 million. Though that was far more than any other new film collected at the multiplex, the opening was still relatively soft for a movie from DreamWorks Animation. In recent years, the studio's popular family films have typically debuted with at least $40 million in ticket sales.

Meanwhile, it wasn't a great weekend for either Justin Timberlake or Johnny Depp. Singer-turned-actor Timberlake's sci-fi action flick "In Time" collected only a moderate $12 million, prompting questions about his clout as a leading man. And Depp's passion project, "The Rum Diary," flopped. Even the actor's star power couldn't attract moviegoers to the picture, which is based on a novel by Depp's longtime friend, the late gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson.

For more on the weekend's hits and misses, check out the latest box-office video report.

RELATED:

'Puss in Boots' walks all over the box-office competition

Should 'In Time' star Justin Timberlake cry himself a river?

Spielberg's 'Tintin' off to a solid start at European box office

-- Amy Kaufman

twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: A scene from "Puss in Boots." Credit: DreamWorks Animation


From ‘I’m.mortal’ to ‘In Time,’ from ‘War of Gods’ to ‘Immortals’

October 31, 2011 | 10:06 am

Henry Cavill in

Picking a movie title is often a fraught affair. Just ask sci-fi alum Andrew Niccol, whose latest journey into the future, “In Time,” hit theaters Friday.

That wasn’t always the title 20th Century Fox had penciled in for the movie. The Justin Timberlake-starrer was previously titled “Now” and, before that, “I’m.mortal." 

As Fox was working on Niccol's film back in spring 2010, Relativity Media was preparing its own fall 2011 film, a Greek epic by Tarsem Singh (“The Fall,” “The Cell”). It was initially dubbed "War of Gods."

The “I’m.mortal” title hadn’t been registered with the Motion Picture Assn. of America yet when “Immortals” switched its title from “War of Gods” in April 2010.  Relativity, Niccol said, demanded Fox give his sci-fi flick a new name to avoid confusion with their Nov. 11, 2011, release. 

Niccol recalled his aha moment when he came up with "I'm.mortal." “I was so happy when I finally saw that ‘I’m mortal’ is inside the word ‘immortal,” the writer-director told 24 Frames. “And then someone goes and steals it from you,” he added with a laugh. (Not everyone, though, was as enthusiastic as Niccol was about "I'm.mortal" — online opinions about it ranged from “sure-to-be-tweaked” and “dumb” to “cute, quirky.” )

Re-titled “Now” last fall, the movie became "In Time" in May.

“[‘Now’] was just more difficult for people to grasp. So we made it something even more accessible,” Niccol said.

As for that title revision for Singh's movie, Relativity and the filmmakers decided "Immortals" was a more original-sounding title that better spoke to the novel take on Greek mythology than "War of Gods."

“We love ‘Immortals.’ It’s a strong title. It sounds like an event movie and very epic,” a spokesperson for Relativity Media said.

Niccol is no stranger to having to think up new titles. His 1997 cult favorite, “Gattaca,” was filmed under the name “The Eighth Day,” a reference to Genesis and the genetic engineering that defines the film’s “not-so-distant future.” When a Belgian film with the same name, “Le huitième jour,” made it to theaters before Niccol’s movie, he was forced to come up with a new title. He decided on the name of the spaceflight corporation in the story, Gattaca, derived from the four letters of DNA bases.

“That [title] actually got better, I think. It was just so unique,” Niccol said. “It’s sort of lasted the test of time.”

Whether “In Time” and “Immortals” stand that test of time remains to be seen, but their test at the box office comes first. "In Time" opened Friday to challenge "Puss in Boots" and "Paranormal Activity 3," finishing in third. Starring the new Superman, Henry Cavill, "Immortals" opens Nov. 11 against Leonardo DiCaprio's "J. Edgar" and Adam Sandler's "Jack and Jill."

RELATED:

‘In Time’: Time is money in the Justin Timberlake sci-fi film

‘In Time’: Young actors on the secrets to playing old characters

Comic-Con 2011: ‘Immortals’ brings young Greek gods to the screen

— Emily Rome

Left photo: Henry Cavill and Joseph Morgan in "Immortals." Credit: Jan Thijs

Right photo: Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried in "In Time." Credit: Stephen Vaughan / 20th Century Fox.


After 'Puss in Boots,' momentum for another Del Toro animated pic

October 31, 2011 |  9:18 am

Deltoro
EXCLUSIVE: With "Puss in Boots" this weekend, Guillermo del Toro showed that he can successfully steer a family hit. Now "Puss" studio DreamWorks Animation is giving a vote of confidence to another Del Toro-godfathered animated movie, a doll-themed tale that's based on a hit short titled "Alma."

The studio is moving forward with the feature version of "Alma," hiring Megan Holley to pen the script, according to a person familiar with the project who asked not to be identified because the film is still in development. Holley is a well-regarded young screenwriter best known for penning the indie hit "Sunshine Cleaning."

"Alma" will be helmed by Rodrigo Blaas, a former Pixar animator who has come over to DreamWorks Animation to work on the film. (He also made the short, which you can watch below.) Del Toro will offer guidance similar to the kind he offered on "Puss," on which he contributed key notes and feedback (he was officially credited as an executive producer).

When it premiered online, "Alma" became a mini-sensation, attracting attention for its sharp visuals and its conceit of a child who wanders into a creepy doll store and ends up in a compromised situation. The feature, the person said, will be a lot more family oriented--and, if DreamWorks Animation has its way -- plenty "Puss in Boots"-like at the box office.

RELATED:

'Puss in Boots' walks all over the competition

Guillermo del Toro finds soul with "Alma"

--Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

 Photo: Guillermo del Toro at San Diego Comic-Con. Credit: Getty Images




Should 'In Time' star Justin Timberlake cry himself a river?

October 31, 2011 |  8:45 am

 Timber

Many things could be said of Justin Timberlake's nascent acting career, but one thing he can't be accused of is playing it safe.

Since Timberlake made the decision to put sexy back, or at least on hold, and pursue acting, the former bubblegum pop star has gotten far away from his music roots. He's played a swaggery Silicon Valley salesman ("The Social Network'), a fast-talking but sensitive paramour in an offbeat romantic comedy ("Friends With Benefits"), a passive substitute teacher ("Bad Teacher")  and, this weekend, an impoverished hustler-hero (Andrew Niccol's "In Time").

What he hasn't been especially good at is turning his movies into hits. The two live-action films that performed well, "Social Network" and "Bad Teacher," did so largely on someone else's back. The two movies that relied more on his presence to sell tickets, on the other hand, performed modestly. "Friends With Benefits" was part of the have-not section of the class of R-rated comedies this summer (though it did OK internationally). And, this weekend, "In Time" looked to be out of same with a middling $12 million in box office.

The most obvious conclusion is that Timberlake isn't a leading man. He could carve out a nice character-actor career, but the clock is ticking down fast on him enjoying any Will Smith-like crossover success.

A look at Timberlake's resume doesn't entirely negate the point; as some critics have pointed out, he's an appealing presence, but rarely a sophisticated or overpowering one.

But it's also far too soon to write the obituary on his non-melodic efforts. As he hits his 30s, Timberlake is trying to move out of his comfort zone a lot faster and more often than many of his pop-music contemporaries (Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, who star largely in tune-driven flicks), which will naturally up the flop quotient. In fact, even when Timberlake is starring in a music-themed movie, as he will in the recently announced biopic of record producer Neil Bogart, "Spinning Gold," he's doing it with a hint of the unexpected. (He did that in "Get Him to the Greek" too, where he also played the industry man instead of the performer.)

As "In Time" hit the shoals, it was hard to avoid a comparison to another actor who crashed this weekend. In the 1990s, "The Rum Diary" star Johnny Depp was also a teenage heartthrob seeking a film career. Like Timberlake's "Benefits" turn, he looked to break out with an offbeat romantic comedy (or three), and, weirdly, even made a commercial misstep in a chase-thriller with a ticking-clock conceit ("Nick of Time").

Continue reading »

'Shame, 'Tinker' lead British Independent Film Award nominations

October 31, 2011 |  7:11 am

Tyrannosaur

Tomas Alfredson's adaptation of John le Carre's spy thriller "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," Steve McQueen's NC-17-rated "Shame" and Paddy Considine's drama "Tyrannosaur" lead the 14th British Independent Film Award nominations Monday morning with seven each.

Those three pictures were all nominated for Best British Independent Film, along with the Formula One documentary "Senna" and Lynne Ramsay's "We Need to Talk About Kevin."

The other nominations announced Monday:

Best director: Ben Wheatley for "Kill List," plus McQueen, Alfredson, Considine, and Ramsay.

Douglas Hickox Award for best directorial debut: Joe Cornish, "Attack the Block"; Ralph Fiennes, "Coriolanus"; John Michael McDonagh, "The Guard"; Richard Ayoade, "Submarine" and Considine.

Best actress: Rebecca Hall, "The Awakening"; Mia Wasikowska, "Jane Eyre"; MyAnna Buring, "Kill List"; Olivia Colman, "Tyrannosaur;" Tilda Swinton, "We Need to Talk About Kevin."

Best actor: Brendan Gleeson, "The Guard"; Neil Maskell, "Kill List"; Michael Fassbender, "Shame"; Gary Oldman, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"; Peter Mullan, "Tyrannosaur."

Best achievement in production: "Kill List," "Tyrannosaur," "Weekend," "Wild Bill," "You Instead."

The awards will be handed out in a ceremony on Dec. 4 in London.

See the complete list of nominees.  

 -- Susan King  

Photo: A scene from the movie "Tyrannosaur," with Peter Mullan. Credit: Strand Releasing

 

Doris Day to receive L.A. Film Critics Assn. career award

October 29, 2011 |  2:03 pm

DorisdayStory
Doris Day will receive the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn.'s Career Achievement Award, the group decided Saturday morning.

The blond, perky actress/singer was one of the biggest films stars during the late 1940s, '50s and '60s appearing in films such as 1955's "Love Me or Leave Me" and 1959's "Pillow Talk," for which she earned her only best actress Oscar nomination. "Pillow Talk" marked her first collaboration with actor Rock Hudson, and the two WENT on to star in 1961's "Lover Come Back" and 1964's "Send Me No Flowers."

She also appeared in hits such as 1953's "Calamity Jane," the 1956 Alfred Hitchcock thriller "The Man Who Knew Too Much" and 1958's "Teacher's Pet."

Her last film was 1968's "With Six You Get Eggroll." She then starred on TV in "The Doris Day Show" from 1968 through 1973 on CBS. A noted animal rights activist, the octogenarian lives in Carmel, where she operated a pet friendly hotel. She recently released a new album of songs,  "My Heart." 

The critics group said it would announce its selections for the best films of 2011 on Dec. 11. 

The awards will be handed out at a dinner in January.

RELATED:

Photos: Hollywood Film Gala Awards

Mary Tyler Moore to receive SAG Life Achievement Award

American Cinematheque Award: An emotional night for Robert Downey Jr.

--Susan King

Photo: An old publicity photo of Doris Day in "Pillow Talk." Credit:  Universal Pictures


The week in film: Johnny Depp and Justin Timberlake

October 28, 2011 |  4:28 pm

Timberl
While "Puss in Boots" will win the box-office crown this weekend,  two other new releases will provide some of the most compelling storylines. "In Time" will serve as the latest notch on the acting resume of Justin Timberlake, who continues his career reinvention from singer to actor. Meanwhile, Johnny Depp will try to prove that he can still work his quirky magic in a smaller, more independent film when he opens "The Rum Diary."

The Times' Nicole Sperling and Steven Zeitchik break down the careers of two of the more magnetic, and complicated, entertainment personalities working today.

 

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Movie projector: 'Puss in Boots' to stomp on the competition

Justin Timberlake and amanda Seyfried on action, 'Alpha Dog' reunion

Justin Timberlake is focused on film

--Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Justin Timberlake in "In Time." Credit:  20th Century Fox

 

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