24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Jason Reitman

Around Town: Steve McQueen, the King of Cool, rides again

March 29, 2012 |  6:00 am

Bullitt

The American Cinematheque celebrates the legacy of King of Cool Steve McQueen at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood from Thursday through Sunday.

"Low Rider: The Super Charged Cinema of Steve McQueen" opens with one of his quintessential films, the 1968 detective thriller "Bullitt," in which he plays the unflappable, Mustang-driving San Francisco detective Frank Bullitt. Directed by Peter Yates, the film features one of the seminal car chase sequences ever put on film. Following "Bullitt" is McQueen's disappointing final film, 1980's "The Hunter," which was released shortly before his death.

Screening Saturday is the 1973 prison epic "Papillon" and the rarely seen 1963 comedy drama "Soldier in the Rain" with Jackie Gleason. McQueen's first wife, Neile Adams, will be on hand to sign her book "My Husband, My Friend" before the screening Saturday of 1963's classic World War II action-adventure "The Great Escape," which made McQueen a superstar.

The series concludes Sunday with Norman Jewison's sophisticated 1968 romantic caper thriller "The Thomas Crown Affair" with Faye Dunaway and 1972's thriller "The Getaway," directed by Sam Peckinpah, and also starring Ali MacGraw, who became the actor's second wife.

The Cinematheque's Aero Theatre wants you to pass the time by "playing a little solitaire" Thursday evening with a 50th anniversary screening of the iconic political thriller "The Manchurian Candidate," directed by John Frankenheimer, and starring Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh and an Oscar-nominated Angela Lansbury.

With the Farrelly brothers' take on the venerable comedy team "The Three Stooges" opening on April 13, the Cinematheque gets into the "nyuk, nyuk, nyuk" spirit Sunday at the Aero with a double bill of Stooges slapstick -- 1962's "The Three Stooges Meets Hercules" and 1965's "The Outlaws Is Coming," which also features Adam West and several daytime kiddie TV hosts who showed Three Stooges shorts.

The Aero's "Wednesdays with Robert Altman" series kicks off with his 1971 revisionist western, "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" with Warren Beatty and an Oscar-nominated Julie Christie. www.americancinematheque.com

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' "Inside the Booth: A Journey Through Projection," kicks off Thursday evening at the Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood. Presented by the academy's Science and Technology Council, the series -- hosted by the academy's chief projectionist Marshall Gitlitz and silent film historian and projectionist Joe Rinaudo -- is a three-week exploration of the evolution of the motion picture camera.

The opening program, "The Birth of Projection," shines the spotlight on the works of such film pioneers as George Eastman and George Melies, features a demonstration of hand-cranked films and a screening of Buster Keaton's 1924 classic "Sherlock Jr.," in which he plays a projectionist who wants to become a detective. Though the event Thursday is sold out there will be a stand-by line.

Besides the series, there is also an exhibition, "Tech Art 2: The Projection Story," at the venue that features 30 color images of projection equipment shot by photographer Vince Gonzales, as well as projectors and other equipment. 

The series continues April 19 and May 4. www.oscars.org

Jason Reitman presents "The Big Lebowski," his final installment in his "Live Read" series for Film Independent at LACMA, on Thursday evening at the Leo S. Bing Theatre. The event is sold out but there will be a stand-by line.

Animation historians and authors Jerry Beck and Adam Abraham will be on hand Friday evening at LACMA for "Madcap Modernism: Mid-Century Cartoons from UPA and Beyond," which features two programs of innovative theatrical animation shorts from the 1950s.  LACMA's Tuesday matinee series at the Leo S. Bing Theatre presents one of the jewels in Preston Sturges' comedic crown: the 1942 romantic comedy "The Palm Beach Story," starring Joel McCrea, Claudette Colbert, Mary Astor and Rudy Vallee. www.lacma.org

UCLA Film &Television Archive's "Spencer Tracy: The Natural Thing" comes to a close Friday evening at the Billy Wilder Theater with the actor's final film, 1967's "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner," which also stars Katharine Hepburn, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton.  Karen Kramer, the widow of producer/director Stanley Kramer, will be the special guest.

The archive's Wednesday evening series at the Million Dollar Theater in downtown Los Angeles features two thrillers from William Castle: 1964's "Strait-Jacket," starring Joan Crawford and 1961's "Homicidal." www.cinema.ucla.edu

New Beverly Cinema showcases the Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton ("Michael Clayton") Friday and Saturday with screenings of her most recent film, 2011's "We Need to Talk About Kevin," in which she plays the mother of a disturbed son and Sally Potter's 1992 version of Virginia Woolf's novel, "Orlando." www.newbevcinema.com

Film at Redcat presents "Narrative Bodies: Films and Videos by Abigail Child," Monday evening. Child will be appearing in person at the program, which features many of her avant-garde films including 1977's "Peripeteia I" and 1986's "Perils." www.redcat.org

 Paul Mazursky and actor George Segal will be reminiscing about "Blume in Love," the filmmaker's 1973 romantic comedy starring Segal and Kris Kristofferson, after a screening Tuesday evening at the Skirball Center. www.skirball.org

Silent screen legend Harold Lloyd would have been 119 on April 20, and the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre is celebrating his birthday Wednesday with a screening of two of his comedies: 1926's "For Heaven's Sake" and 1923's "Why Worry?" His granddaughter, Suzanne Lloyd, will introduce the screening.  www.cinefamily.org

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--Susan King

Photo: Steve McQueen, left, and Robert Vaughn in "Bullitt." Credit: File photo


Around Town: Rock operas, rebellion and round-the-clock film

December 15, 2011 |  5:50 am

"Tommy" will screen in downtown L.A.

The Cinefamily's round-the-clock fundraiser, UCLA's rock opera double feature and Jason Reitman's live reading of "The Princess Bride" are among this week's film highlights.

The UCLA Film & Television Archive concludes its three-month series L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema with two screenings at the Billy Wilder Theater. Friday’s program includes Alicia Dhanifu's 1979 short film "Bellydancing: A History & an Art" and Jamaa Fanaka’s 1976 feature "Emma Mae," starring Jerri Hayes. Dhanifu, Fanaka and Hayes will all attend.

On Saturday afternoon, the series offers a free matinee of Julie Dash's "The Rosa Parks Story," a 2002 biopic about the civil rights icon, and Charles Burnett's "Selma, Lord, Selma," a 1999 film based on the violent events of Bloody Sunday in 1965 Alabama. Dash will be on hand.

Later that evening, the L.A. Rebellion closing celebration will be held at the Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum in Culver City. Filmmaker Ben Caldwell will perform his multimedia work "Spaces Looking In Looking Out." Admission is free.

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Jason Reitman's new film 'Young Adult' pops up in L.A.

November 2, 2011 |  1:01 pm

  Patton oswalt

"I wonder what people will blog about after this," director Jason Reitman pondered aloud in the middle of a freewheeling Q&A Tuesday night after a screening of his new film, "Young Adult."

The marquee at the New Beverly Cinema read simply "Surprise Screening," but inside Reitman was presenting "Young Adult" to a public audience in Los Angeles for the first time. Announced Saturday via the New Beverly website, the show was the finale of a two-week run of such "pop-up" screenings at venues in Toronto, Minneapolis, Chicago, Austin and San Francisco before the film's limited theatrical release Dec. 9. A limited edition poster by a local artist in each city was given away to audience members.

Joining Reitman onstage before and after the screening were stars Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt and Elizabeth Reaser, along with the film's writer, Diablo Cody. (Oswalt took to his Twitter feed later in the evening to say, "that was the full-throttle drunk-est Q&A I've ever done.")

As the film opens, Mavis Gary (Theron) is struggling to finish, or even start, the final book in her series of young adult novels. Impulsively heading from her apartment in Minneapolis to the small Minnesota town where she grew up, she strikes up a wary friendship with a guy she ignored all through high school (Oswalt) while trying to rekindle a relationship with an old flame (Patrick Wilson), whose wife(Reaser)  just had a baby. 

"Young Adult" reunites Cody and Reitman after their previous collaboration as writer and director on the smash hit "Juno." Aware that whatever they did together next would be compared with "Juno," Reitman said that  "this movie you can't compare to anything," and likened its mix of tones to "an ugly mirror" reflecting back upon each viewer.

Many assumed that "Young Adult" would premiere at September's Toronto International Film Festival, where his previous three features have shown. (Reitman's family is also a substantial donor to the festival; the new Lightbox facility where "Young Adult" screened post-festival sits on Reitman Square.) The plan to skip festivals altogether in launching the film, opting instead for the pop-up screenings to "make our own film festival," as Reitman put it, is an unusual move, especially for a film looking to launch a carefully calibrated awards run.

"I think the struggle that we go through with every movie we do is how to do something that's unique and speaks to the movie and captures the right audience and gets the right amount of attention because you're doing something that's new," Megan Colligan, president of domestic marketing and distribution at Paramount Pictures, which is releasing the movie, said outside the New Bev after the screening.

"A lot has been made of this idea that 'Up in the Air' started [in Toronto] and got a lot of heat and it was too much to sustain," Colligan said, alluding to the much-touted film's failure to take home any Oscars in 2010 despite six nominations.

"But it's actually a ton of energy you have to put in whenever you launch a movie in September and you don't release the movie until December and you have to screen and do Q&As for such a sustained amount of time. Doing 'The Fighter' and 'True Grit' last year and having very successful campaigns that started really late, we realized there was something fun about introducing yourself to the world at a time that really suited the campaign for the film."

"Often at this point in the process you feel like a salesman instead of a filmmaker," noted Reitman, "and all I've felt on this tour is I'm a filmmaker sharing my movie. I feel different. I feel like a different person in this process."

RELATED:

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Charlize Theron talks Kristen Stewart, taps into Rage

-- Mark Olsen

twitter.com/indiefocus

Photo: Patton Oswalt co-stars in Jason Reitman's "Young Adult." Credit: Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times 


Diablo Cody: 'Young Adult' hype 'freaks me out' [Video]

October 26, 2011 | 10:42 am

Diablo Cody at the Hollywood Awards
"Young Adult," the upcoming film starring Charlize Theron as a woman reluctant to grow up, is one of the remaining question marks in awards season.

Because the film stars Theron, was directed by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody — all three of whom have been nominated for or won Academy Awards — the project has been highly anticipated in Hollywood. Still, the movie has not played at any major film festival and has yet to be screened for critics ahead of its December release.

The expectation that the film is award-worthy worries Cody, the "Juno" screenwriter admitted at the Hollywood Awards on Monday night.

"I understand why it's there, because Charlize is an actor that people get very excited about, and rightfully so. Her performance is amazing," said Cody, who took home the evening's screenwriter award. "At the same time, it always freaks me out a little to see it on a list when nobody's seen the movie. It's definitely speculation."

Cody is also fighting anxiety over her impending directorial debut, which is set to star Julianne Hough and Russell Brand. To prepare, she said, she's been seeking advice from as many directors as she can track down.

"It's totally intimidating. I'm freaking out. It's so different from writing that it surprises me that writer-director is a natural trajectory," she said. "To me, I can't believe how different the directing gig is compared to sitting at a computer in my pajamas."

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— Amy Kaufman

twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: Quentin Tarantino presents Diablo Cody with the screenwriter award at the Hollywood Film Awards. Credit: John Shearer / Getty Images


'Breakfast Club' reading: Jason Reitman heads to detention

October 19, 2011 |  2:40 pm

Breakfa

Angeleno fans of John Hughes’ 1980s coming-of-age favorite “The Breakfast Club” will have the opportunity to experience the tale a little differently Thursday night.

Filmmaker Jason Reitman (“Juno," “Up in the Air”) will direct a live reading of the screenplay for the movie as part of Film Independent at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s new series, helping us wonder, once again, if Barry Manilow knows that Mr. Vernon raids his wardrobe.

Mindy Kaling, Patton Oswalt, Jennifer Garner and James Van Der Beek will be on hand to play the roles originated by Ally Sheedy's goth girl, Anthony Michael Hall's nerd, Molly Ringwald's popular chick and Emilio Estevez's jock, respectively, and give new life to the story of students bonding in the detention room at Shermer High. The actors will offer their interpretations on the classic lines, while Reitman will call out directions on the stage.

Reitman told 24 Frames that he was motivated to stage the unusual event because most filmgoers don't get a chance to see how actors arrive at their characters. “It's exciting to see a role developed from start to finish,” Reitman said.

And “The Breakfast Club,” he noted, particularly lends itself to the format. “It's almost a play — even characters saying these great lines. It's easy to imagine the scenes as you listen.”

LACMA's film program has attempted several novel initiatives under new chief Elvis Mitchell. The curator told The Times recently that he wanted to expand the definition of a film series beyond simple screenings. He has high hopes for Reitman’s live-reading concept. “I think in some way [it] will change the way people look at movies,” Mitchell said. (By Wednesday, the reading was listed as sold out.)

And Reitman? He wants to, well, buy another Saturday. The directo aims to organize script reads from other films, with different casts, at LACMA in the coming months. That is, assuming Thursday's idea succeeds. “I have no idea if it will work. It just seemed like a really interesting experiment," he said. "If it doesn’t, I guess we’ll be a one-hit wonder.”

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— Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: "The Breakfast Club." Credit: Universal Pictures


Patton Oswalt and Patrick Wilson likely to go the Jason Reitman way

September 24, 2010 |  3:18 pm

Juno

EXCLUSIVE: "Young Adult," the project that reunites the filmmaking team behind "Juno," is preparing to start shooting in the coming weeks. And while there's no Ellen Page, Jason Bateman or J.K. Simmons in this one, the cast of the new Reitman film will still sport some pretty solid comedy and acting chops.

Charlize Theron, who had previously been announced as the lead, is set to be joined by Patton Oswalt, who has come aboard, and could soon be joined by Patrick Wilson, who is negotiating a deal, sources say.

Both actors bring cinematic credibility: The comedian-cum-actor Oswalt surprised many with his lead performance as an arrested-development man-child in the Sundance Film Festival hit "Big Fan," while Wilson has lined up a litany of solid roles amid his bigger studio pictures, including his portrayal of a recondite suburban dad in "Little Children" and his recent turn as an eager jock in "The Switch." (He starred in "Hard Candy," so there's a Page connection there.)

Oswa "Young Adult" looks at a ghostwriter of YA novels who returns to her hometown to reconnect with high-school friends and flames, including an ex-boyfriend (Wilson), who, as it turns out, wants nothing to do with her.

"Juno" director Reitman, writer Diablo Cody and producers Mason Novick, Mandate Pictures and Mr. Mudd are all back, attempting to reprise the success of "Juno," which won an Oscar and grossed $227 million worldwide three years ago.

As with that movie, "Young Adult" offers the specter of characters grappling with adult problems against the backdrop of high school. There's still one more big female lead to be cast, but the cameras should be ready to roll soon. And if the "Juno" magic strikes again, plenty of zeitgeist talk will follow.

-- Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photos: "Juno." Credit: Fox Searchlight. Patton Oswalt. Credit: Jake Danna Stevens/Los Angeles Times



Envelope Directors Roundtable: Tailoring roles to specific actors

February 10, 2010 |  8:00 am

Casting can sometimes influence directors who write their own scripts. For Jason Reitman, he lets the movie take shape as he writes but soon recognizes when an actor is right for the part, which then in turn influences the character's development. For Quentin Tarantino, at least with "Inglourious Basterds," he "didn't have a clue who I was going to cast."

Directors Roundtable RELATED VIDEOS:

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Envelope Directors Roundtable: The importance of the audition

February 9, 2010 |  8:00 am

So how important is the auditioning process in the making of a film? It depends on whom you ask. James Cameron certainly has a different approach than Lee Daniels, for instance.

Directors Roundtable RELATED VIDEOS:

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Video: Who will win the Oscar for best director? And who was overlooked?

February 2, 2010 | 10:54 am

The five Oscar nominees for best director — Kathryn Bigelow for "The Hurt Locker," James Cameron for "Avatar," Lee Daniels for "Precious," Jason Reitman for "Up in the Air" and Quentin Tarantino for "Inglourious Basterds" — are some very familiar faces indeed. Not only have they been regulars on the award circuit this year, but they also all came to The Times last month to participate in The Envelope Directors Roundtable series.

Still, it's hard not to feel that other directors were overlooked. To find out the name of at least one worthy candidate who was not on the list — and learn who is the odds-on favorite to win — watch the above video of Times film critic Kenneth Turan and writer John Horn.

After all, while the nominees could watch from the comfort of home, Turan and Horn had to be at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills well before the crack of dawn Tuesday.

And keep coming back to 24 Frames for more videos today.

— Scott Sandell

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Envelope Directors Roundtable: The challenges of marketing a film

January 22, 2010 |  7:02 am

Marketing campaigns may not be the first thing one thinks of when imagining the creative lives of some of the country's most well-known auteurs. But directors behind this season's biggest movies wrestle to a surprising degree with the issues of selling a movie -- whether it's Quentin Tarantino finding parts of the process "inspirational" or directors like Lee Daniels, Jason Reitman or James Cameron understanding that these Faustian bargains can help expose their film to a wider audience. Hear how these directors feel about one of moviedom's trickiest balances.

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