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Category: AFI Fest

Young Hollywood: Evan Rachel Wood on the benefits of Twitter

November 14, 2011 | 11:28 am

Evan Rachel Wood talks about why she likes Twitter
On Twitter, plenty of celebrities are bombarded with hateful messages about their films or wardrobe choices. But Evan Rachel Wood has had a different experience on the social networking site: She's been sent an overwhelming number of adoring messages from fans.

"I can be really critical, and you hear the bad stuff more than the good and then all of a sudden, there's all of these people every day who are like, 'I love you, and you're so inspirational,'" the 24-year-old said at the Los Angeles Times' Young Hollywood round table earlier this month, where she sat alongside Anton Yelchin, Armie Hammer and Kirsten Dunst. "It's nice to actually hear some of the good things sometimes."

None of the other young stars at the event has a Twitter account, although Hammer admitted he once attempted to send out a message on his wife's feed.

"In the middle of writing this thing, the letters on the keyboard just stopped working," he explained. "I was like, 'Why is this not typing anymore? 140 characters? That's it? Are you joking me?' It's hard to get a good joke out in 140 characters."

For more on the actors' feelings about tweeting, check out the clip below.

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-- Amy Kaufman

twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: Evan Rachel Wood poses on the red carpet after the second annual Los Angeles Times Young Hollywood roundtable. Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press


Young Hollywood: Mel Gibson 'intense human being,' Yelchin says

November 11, 2011 |  3:21 pm

Anton Yelchin talks about Mel Gibson at the LA Times Young Hollywood panel

When Anton Yelchin began working on "The Beaver," he knew his costar Mel Gibson had quite a lot going on in his personal life. But the 22-year-old said the various media reports about Gibson's non-work behavior never affected their relationship on set.

"I judge people on how they are at work and how they are to me at work, and he was lovely," Yelchin said last week at the Los Angeles Times' second annual Young Hollywood roundtable, which also featured Armie Hammer, Evan Rachel Wood and Kirsten Dunst.

Still, Yelchin admitted, he found Gibson to be an "intense human being."

"We had some really amazing rehearsals with him ... where he would just talk and we would sort of be in character and it would just make me weep because he's got a lot going on inside," the actor said. "When someone shares that with you in really close proximity, it's very affecting."

There's more on Gibson in the clip below. Check back with 24 Frames this week, as we'll continue to post short videos with additional highlights from the conversation.

 

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-- Amy Kaufman

twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: Anton Yelchin poses on the red carpet after the Los Angeles Times Young Hollywood roundtable. Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press


Michael Fassbender: NC-17 rating could help 'Shame' [Video]

November 10, 2011 |  3:54 pm

Michael Fassbender and Steve McQueen aren't worried about Shame's NC-17 rating
About a year ago, hard-charging studio executive Harvey Weinstein was so disturbed that his release "Blue Valentine" earned a NC-17 rating that he personally petitioned the Motion Pictures Assn. of America to have the ruling changed out of a fear that it could harm the film's commercial prospects.

This fall, another film has been given the same severe rating -- "Shame," the film starring Michael Fassbender as an emotionally closed-off sex addict. But the film's star and its director, Steve McQueen, say they aren't worried about the rating affecting its potential reach at the box office. In fact, Fassbender believes, it may help boost ticket sales.

"I think it can be an alright thing. It can stimulate curiosity for sure," the actor told us on the red carpet at the AFI Fest premiere of the film in Hollywood Wednesday evening. He added, "I think it's unusual that a lot of violent films seem to pass through the system easily enough. But whenever you sort of try to question or deal with sex, it becomes something that's dirty or not to be watched -- so I find that to be confusing."

McQueen said he thought that "Shame" deserved an NC-17 rating because it's an adult movie with what he described as "responsible, serious" themes. Anyone fixated on the nudity in the picture -- in which Fassbender and costar Carey Mulligan take off their clothes -- should look elsewhere for their kicks, he said.

"To go to pay to see nude people in 'Shame' -- you're wasting your money," said McQueen.
Fassbender also shrugged off the film's nudity, saying he didn't worry about whether or not the movie would be controversial before signing on to it.

"My job is to deal with conflict and drama, and a lot of times you have to go places that are perhaps uncomfortable to have a real drama at work."

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-- Amy Kaufman

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Photo: Michael Fassbender, left, and Steve McQueen at the AFI Fest premiere of "Shame." Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press


AFI Fest announces 2011 audience, jury award winners

November 10, 2011 |  2:47 pm

Jiro Who Dreams of Sushi won the world cinema prize at this year's AFI Fest

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

Two films — one documentary about an 85-year-old Japanese sushi chef and a feature film about the 1994 Rwandan genocide — were the audience favorites in the world cinema section at this year's AFI Fest.

"Jiro Dreams of Sushi" and "Kinyarwanda," both made by American filmmakers in foreign countries, tied for the audience award at this year's festival. The eight-day event, which concludes Thursday evening in Hollywood, places heavy emphasis on screening international films.

Other films favored by this year's festival crowd include "Bullhead," Belgium's official foreign-language Oscar submission about a cattle farmer with a drug problem. The picture was named the best film in the New Auteurs section and its star, Matthias Schoenaerts, was also given an acting award by the festival's jury. Clay Liford's "Wuss," about a dopey substitute teacher, was the audience pick in the Young Americans section, while Swedish filmmaker Alexandra-Therese Keining took home a $5,000 prize for her so-called breakthrough feature "With Every Heartbeat."

The festival's New Auteurs grand jury prize went to "The Loneliest Planet," Julia Loktev's film about an engaged couple wandering through the Caucasus Mountains.

AFI Fest closes with a screening of Steven Spielberg's "The Adventures of Tintin." Find a complete list of this year's award-winning films below.

Continue reading »

Young Hollywood: Armie Hammer on working with Clint Eastwood

November 10, 2011 |  1:25 pm

Evan Rachel Wood talks about working with Woody Allen at the LA Times Young Hollywood roundtable

When Evan Rachel Wood showed up to her first day on the set of "Whatever Works," she wasn't sure if she'd be out of a job in a few hours.

After all, she had yet to meet director Woody Allen -- he cast her simply because he felt she was right for the part in his 2009 film. And she'd heard stories about the legendary filmmaker quickly firing actors when he realized they weren't right for certain parts.

"People will show up and do the scene and he'll be like, 'You know what, this isn't right.' And he'll just recast. So the first day I was, like, so, so scared," the actress admitted on Friday at the Los Angeles Times' Young Hollywood roundtable, which also included Armie Hammer, Kirsten Dunst and Anton Yelchin.

Hammer also admitted being terrified before working with a different iconic director -- Clint Eastwood. The actor began work on Eastwood's "J. Edgar" immediately after wrapping "The Social Network" with David Fincher and said the two filmmakers employ completely different styles of directing.

"With Fincher, he would spend 20 minutes making sure that the angle of your head was right when you shot a scene," Hammer said. "But with Clint, you walk into a room and he goes, 'OK, so put it on its feet.' ...' And you're like, 'Oh, so it's up to me? Uh, OK.' "

For more on how the young stars approached working with A-list directors, watch the clip below. Check back with 24 Frames this week as we continue to post short videos with additional highlights from the conversation.

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-- Amy Kaufman

twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: Evan Rachel Wood and Henry Cavill are directed by Woody Allen, right, in "Whatever Works." Credit: Jessica Miglio / Sony Pictures Classics


With Grazer now on for Oscars, hunt is on for a new host

November 9, 2011 |  5:38 pm

Brian grazer brett ratner
Oscar-winning producer Brian Grazer agreed Wednesday to take on the job of producing the Academy Awards telecast in February, stepping into the void left by Brett Ratner, who resigned after an anti-gay slur. Grazer and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences did not immediately announce a host to replace Eddie Murphy, who dropped out after Ratner exited.

Grazer, who has produced five movies this year including Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar” and Ratner’s “Tower Heist,” had been asked to helm the Oscar show earlier this year, but declined. Given Grazer’s ties to Ratner and Murphy, there was some speculation that he might try to convince Murphy to stay on as host, but a person close to the Grazer who was not authorized to speak publicly said he wouldn’t try to lure Murphy back into the fold.

“It’s very gratifying to be part of a show that honors excellence in the medium to which I have devoted so much of my career,” said Grazer, whose “A Beautiful Mind” earned a best picture Oscar a decade ago. Grazer will share producing duties on the broadcast with industry veteran Don Mischer. “Don is a legend, and I am excited to work with him.”

Grazer could have a horse in this year’s Oscar race with “J.Edgar” (which opened in limited release Wednesday), but his other recent films have disappointed at the box office, including “Cowboys & Aliens,” “The Dilemma,” and the Gus Van Sant-directed indie “Restless.” His high-profile television project “The Playboy Club” was canceled after just a few episodes.

Still, academy president Tom Sherak said: “Brian Grazer is a renowned filmmaker who over the past 25 years has produced a diverse and extraordinary body of work. He will certainly bring his tremendous talent, creativity and relationships to the Oscars.”

Grazer has not been able to completely steer clear of controversy himself. Last fall, the trailer for his film “The Dilemma” was widely criticized for including a scene in which actor Vince Vaughn said, “Electric cars are gay”; the promo debuted in the wake of a series of suicides of teenagers who killed themselves after being bullied because of their sexual orientation. The line was later excised from the trailer, but it remained in the film.

Continue reading »

Jason Segel says playing a lovable loser comes naturally

November 9, 2011 |  3:30 pm

The Duplass brothers, Ed Helms and Jason Segel at a screening of Jeff, Who Lives at Home
If there's one character actor Jason Segel seems to have mastered, it's that of the lovable loser. He began his career playing one on the television show "Freaks and Geeks" as a high school stoner with an unrequited crush. In "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," he played a dopey guy kicked to the curb by his more successful and attractive girlfriend. And in "I Love You, Man," his schlubby character spent his days playing guitar and picking up women at open houses.

In "Jeff, Who Lives at Home," the latest project from sibling filmmaker team Mark and Jay Duplass, Segel tackles the archetype again. This time he's Jeff, an idealistic 30-year-old who lives in his mother's basement, takes bong hits and finds meaningful signs in late-night infomercials.

After an AFI Fest screening of the film Tuesday night, Segel said -- perhaps not surprisingly -- that the role came naturally to him.

"The simplest way I can put it is I just did exactly what they wrote," he said, referring to the Duplass brothers' script. "There was no, like 'What is my process?' or discovering the character."

Though the part may not have been much of a challenge for Segel, the film proved to be more of a struggle for the filmmakers. The Duplass brothers rose to fame after making a string of ultra low-budget, documentary-style films, and first teamed up with a bigger studio on last year's "Cyrus," the Fox Searchlight film starring Jonah Hill and John C. Reilly. "Jeff, Who Lives at Home," which also stars Ed Helms, is set for release by Paramount Pictures in March.

Asked what the most difficult scene was to shoot in the film, Jay Duplass referenced a moment when Segel's and Helms' characters leap off a Louisiana bridge into a threatening body of water.

"That bridge scene was hardest than all of our movies put together prior to this movie," he said. "We shoot in this documentary style, where we let people go into a room and have real interactions and I try to catch it as a documentarian. But when you shoot a bridge scene that has to be storyboarded like that, you have to control it, and then you have to make it shaggy again. Mark describes it as thrift-store shopping. You have to work really freaking hard to make it look like it just fell off the rack and you bought it at J.Crew."

Even during the most-controlled moments of filming, both actors said they appreciated the "calm" vibe the brothers created on set, where both were encouraged to improvise.

"I'm called upon to improvise a lot in different movies and on 'The Office,' and it's a great joy, but it's usually about trying to find the funniest beat or the funniest joke," said Helms, who plays Jeff's brother in the picture. "What was really kind of eye-opening ... was to improvise the most mundane moments."

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-- Amy Kaufman

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Photo: AFI Fest programmer Lane Kneedler, left, Jay Duplass, Ed Helms, Jason Segel, Mark Duplass and Jason Reitman at a special screening of "Jeff, Who Lives at Home." Credit: AFI Fest


Young Hollywood: Hammer, Yelchin, Wood, Dunst on getting their starts

November 8, 2011 | 11:14 am

Anton Yelchin, Evan Rachel Wood, Armie Hammer and Kirsten Dunst at the 2nd annual LA Times Young Hollywood panel
Three members of this year's Young Hollywood roundtable -- Kirsten Dunst, Evan Rachel Wood and Anton Yelchin -- all began acting when they were kids. But Armie Hammer began auditioning only a few years ago, and he got his first big break last year playing the Winkelvoss twins in "The Social Network."

On Friday night, at the Los Angeles Times' second-annual discussion, Hammer said he was first inspired to act after watching Macaulay Culkin's performance in "Home Alone." But his "good, responsible parents" wouldn't let him try his hand at a career until he got older, he said.

"What are you trying to say, dude?" joked Wood, who revealed that she had been up for Dunst's part in "Interview With the Vampire" at the tender age of 5.

"I'm just saying that I know I experienced things in this business when I got into it at age 18, that if I was 12 having to deal with it, it would have crushed my soul," Hammer said, trying to defend his comment.

Eventually, the actor defied his parents' wishes. He dropped out of high school -- and later college -- to try his hand at acting. To hear more about Hammer's career trajectory, check out this clip from the event. Check back with 24 Frames this week, as we'll continue to post short videos with additional highlights from the conversation.

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Photo, from left: Anton Yelchin, Evan Rachel Wood, Armie Hammer and Kirsten Dunst at the second-annual Los Angeles Times Young Hollywood roundtable. Credit: David Livingston / Getty Images


AFI Fest's 'secret screening' is Soderbergh's 'Haywire'

November 6, 2011 |  2:00 pm

Haywire will screen at AFI Fest on Sunday evening
Steven Soderbergh's "Haywire" will premiere Sunday night in the "secret screening" slot at this year's AFI Fest, festival organizers announced hours before the film's debut.

The thriller stars mixed martial arts star Gina Carano as a covert operative being hunted by assassins. The movie — also featuring Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender and Ewan McGregor — is Soderbergh's 25th film and is set for release by Relativity Media in January. A question-and-answer session with the filmmaker and some cast members will follow the 9:30 p.m. screening at Grauman’s Chinese theater.

Last year, eventual best-picture nominee "The Fighter" played in AFI Fest's secret spot. The festival, which kicked off in Hollywood on Thursday, is offering free tickets to tonight's 9:30 p.m. screening on a first-come, first-served basis at the AT&T Box Office in the Hollywood & Highland Center until 6 p.m. Sunday.

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Photo: Gina Carano, left, and Channing Tatum star in "Haywire." Credit: Relativity Media


AFI Fest 2011: The literate anxieties of 'The Color Wheel'

November 4, 2011 | 12:54 pm

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If the film media have been abuzz over the unusual brother-sister dynamic in the upcoming "Shame" or the resolutely incorrigible main character of the new "Young Adult," wait until local audiences get a look at the odd match-up of gratingly abrasive people in Alex Ross Perry's "The Color Wheel." The young critic Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, tapped by Roger Ebert for his revived "At the Movies," declared the film "the cinema of the future, I hope."

In the film, Colin (Perry) receives a call from his semi-estranged sister, J.R. (Carlen Altman), asking for a favor. Soon they set out on a wayward road trip to pick up her stuff from the apartment she had been sharing with a former professor. Along the way one bad interaction with other people leads to another, and soon the pair realize that, as much as they can't stand each other, they can't stand everybody else even more.

This ruefully acid-dipped send-up of the indie family comedy plays Saturday and Monday as part of AFI Fest. It will also screen on the UCLA campus on Tuesday as a double bill with Perry's first feature, 2009's "Impolex." (I will be moderating a Q&A with Perry at the UCLA event. It's free!)

"In a perfect world, I'd like to be able to hook people in and get people who are interested in a slightly transgressive film that's not a goofy, silly road-trip comedy," said Perry, 27, from his apartment in Brooklyn, "but I'd also like to hook people in who think they're going to get a very familiar, standard type of thing and sucker-punch them with something that they are not prepared for and are not prepared to be comfortable with."

The film, shot in shimmery 16-millimeter black-and-white by the talented cinematographer Sean Price Williams, takes place in a series of timeless diners and motels, an offbeat Americana still found off local highways. As the siblings bicker and banter, they reveal themselves as self-centered and snobbish but also surprisingly tender and sensitive toward each other despite their differences. Perry and Altman display a chemistry that could presumably not be faked, seeming to grow increasingly annoyed with each other.

"It's not not part of it," said Perry of whether the pair, who share screenplay credit, actually made each other a little nuts. "There was a specific set of sensibilities that we could come together on and a certain type of awkward comedy that we had together. If nothing else, it makes the characters seem like they do have a history together. And that works, ultimately."

"I guess we did drive each other crazy," added Altman, 28, in a separate phone call from elsewhere in Brooklyn, "in that we were just really anxious about getting it done. It did kind of feel like he was becoming my brother during the process. It felt like a bickering relationship, but it was a means to an end. I accepted that the process was kind of stressful."

Where Perry's "Impolex" was directly influenced by the Thomas Pynchon novel "Gravity's Rainbow" — "It's my book report on what scenes in a certain novel mean to me," he explained — for "The Color Wheel" he extrapolates the oeuvre of Philip Roth, looking to capture the same sense of literate sexual frustration and articulated anxieties. (Perry even commissioned a graphic designer to create a typeface for the credits and poster based on the covers of early editions of Roth's novels.)

At a time when movie-making is coping with technological changes and new developments at all levels, there is something radical about a young filmmaker choosing to shoot on film and making cinema as a response to literature.

"Both times I was reading a book and thought, 'I haven't really seen a movie that feels like this,' " Perry explained. "And that was as good a starting point as any. Roth's books are hilarious, first and foremost as comedy, and they are incredibly sad and very depressing. They are full of powerfully written language, beautiful monologues and internal monologues and conversations between people that are devastating, full of titillating, risque elements that are kind of exciting.

"I can't really think of a movie that has all of these things. It was interesting to say, I would like to watch that movie."

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— Mark Olsen

twitter.com/indiefocus

Photo: Alex Ross Perry and Carlen Altman in "The Color Wheel." Courtesy of AFI Fest.


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