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Category: Midnight in Paris

LAFF 2012: Woody Allen gives Rome (if not himself) some love

June 15, 2012 |  6:30 am

Woody Allen's "To Rome With Love," starring Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Allen, opened the Los Angeles Film FestivalWoody Allen stood up in front of a Los Angeles Film Festival audience and offered a  glimpse into his self-flagellating mindset. Then he left the podium, and his movie pretty much did the same thing.

Unveiling his new Italy-set ensemble romantic comedy, "To Rome With Love," on the festival's opening night at Regal Cinemas in downtown L.A., Allen told the audience -- perhaps only half-jokingly -- that he was very sensitive to criticism. "If you hate it and think it was a waste of time, don't let me know. I get depressed easily," the 76-year-old Oscar winner told the crowd.

Allen's English- and Italian-language film, which features countless shots of Rome  bathed in a golden light, shows a set of parallel characters teetering on the brink of their own uncertainties.

INTERACTIVE: Films playing at the L.A. Film Festival

Jack (Jesse Eisenberg) uneasily contemplates an affair with his girlfriend's best friend (Ellen Page). Young newlywed Antonio (Alessandro Tiberi) wrings his hands as he tries to avoid being caught in a series of lies with a brassy prostitute (Penelope Cruz). His wife Milly (Alessandra Mastronardi) self-consciously flirts with an unctuous movie star (Antonio Albanese) as she considers her own affair.

Allen himself even turns up, as a malcontented father of a young American woman marrying into an Italian family. He then questions himself and needles everyone around him -- particularly wife Phyllis (Judy Davis) -- in the manner of countless Allen characters before.

But perhaps no character betrays what Allen the director is thinking more than Leopoldo (Roberto Benigni), in a vignette that's both a criticism of reality-TV fame and an exhumation of Allen's own complicated relationship with celebrity. Perhaps the most boring man in all of Rome, Leopoldo leaves his house one morning to find himself besieged by paparazzi and talk-show hosts obsessing over details as mundane as his breakfast and shaving rituals.

 

Some of this satire seems clearly aimed at a Kim Kardashian famous-for-being-famous brand of celebrity. But Allen's ambivalence about his own public profile is never far from the surface.

INTERACTIVE: Films playing at the L.A. Film Festival

Though it is as serious as a sprinkling of Parmesan -- the new user-friendly title, which replaced the more cryptic "Nero Fiddled" and even more esoteric "Bop DeCameron," seems fitting -- the movie also distills seemingly every Allen preoccupation of the last three decades. Fidelity! Mortality! Sex! Celebrity! (On that last score, Allen does give the final word to a character who says that being a celebrity is "better" than the alternative. And Allen did show up to LAFF, something he didn't do for the Oscars in February.)

"Rome" hits theaters on June 22 courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics. Allen and the distributor of course last brought out the time-jumping 'Midnight in Paris," the French stop on Allen's global tour (he next shoots in San Francisco) and an Oscar-anointed blockbuster.

After that warm reception for "Paris," the early reviews of "Rome" have, perhaps inevitably, been mixed, with some holding it up unfavorably to his 2011 best picture nominee.

Allen told the LAFF crowd, "I had a wonderful time making this picture in Rome. That does not mean you will enjoy it," perhaps alluding to those early reviews.

No matter the reaction, Allen shows little sign of letting up. At several points in the new film, Davis' Phyllis tells Allen's Jerry that he "equate[s] retirement with death. As Allen prepares to shoot his eighth (!) movie since turning 70, one gets the sense those words are close to the filmmaker's heart.

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-- Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Fabio Armiliato, Judy Davis and Woody Allen in "To Rome With Love." Credit: Sony Pictures Classics


Oscars 2012: Woody Allen wins for original screenplay

February 26, 2012 |  7:30 pm

Woody Allen

"Midnight in Paris" writer-director Woody Allen won the Oscar for original screenplay at the 84th Academy Awards on Sunday night.

The Paris-set film stars Owen Wilson as a successful Hollywood screenwriter who roams the streets of the French city encountering literary and artistic megaliths of the past in his present. Allen directed the love letter to Paris, which also stars Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Adrien Brody, Tom Hiddleston and Kathy Bates.

Allen's original screenplay won the Golden Globe and Writers Guild of America award and earned a nod at the BAFTA Film Awards. At the Oscars, Allen was nominated for director and the film was nominated  for best picture and art direction.

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The director previously won Oscars for "Hannah and Her Sisters" and "Annie Hall."

"Midnight in Paris" bested "The Artist" writer-director Michel Hazanavicius, "Bridesmaids" writers Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig, "Margin Call" writer-director J.C. Chandor and "A Separation" writer-director Asghar Farhadi.

The Academy Awards are taking place in Hollywood and are being televised live on ABC. They are presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose membership was recently examined in depth by the Los Angeles Times.

For more Oscars breaking news and analysis, check back on 24 Frames.

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— Nardine Saad
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Photo: Woody Allen in November 2011. Credit: Jennifer S. Altman / For The Times


DGA names 'The Artist's' Michel Hazanavicius best director

January 28, 2012 | 11:17 pm

Scorsese payne hazanavicius fincher dga

This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.

The Directors Guild of America on Saturday evening named Michel Hazanavicius best film director of 2011 for “The Artist,” the nostalgic black-and-white, nearly silent movie that hearkens back to the time of transition in Hollywood from silents to talkies. It is the first guild win for the 44-year-old French filmmaker.

"It's maybe the highest recognition I could hope. I really love directors, I over-respect directors. This is very moving and touching to me," he said, receiving a standing ovation. "Best director -- I really don't know what that means. All movies are different, so it's a strange thing to try to compare them and say which is best, but I'm very happy to get this. Thank you."

The other nominees were Martin Scorsese ("Hugo"), Woody Allen ("Midnight in Paris"), David Fincher ("The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo") and Alexander Payne ("The Descendants").

PHOTOS: Directors Guild of America Awards

The DGA feature film awards are considered one of the most dependable bellwethers for the Academy Awards for best director. Over the past 63 years, the DGA and academy have disagreed on their choices only six times. The last time was nine years ago when Rob Marshall won the DGA award for “Chicago” and Roman Polanski was named best director by the academy for “The Pianist.”

Hazanavicius had already been named best director by the New York Film Critics Circle and the Critics Choice Movie Awards. He was in contention for a Golden Globe and is nominated for a BAFTA and Independent Spirit Award for best director.

Last week, “The Artist” won the Producers Guild of America award, which is one of the indicators for the best film Oscar. On Tuesday, “The Artist” earned 10 Oscar nominations, one less than the top nominee “Hugo.” Hazanavicius is up for three of those Oscars for director, screenplay and editing.

The 64th annual DGA Awards were held at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood and Highland. Recent Golden Globe winner Kelsey Grammer was the host of the evening, succeeding Carl Reiner, who had become an institution at the event, hosting 24 times. Reiner agreed to host for a final time at the 2011 ceremony.

"Welcome to what will be a glorious night....for some of you. Last year we celebrated the DGA awards of biblical length -- it was so long, the Mayans could not predict an end," he said. "The director's cut was two hours shorter. Even James Cameron said, 'it was too long.'"

Before being named the night's big winner, Hazanavicius was presented with his nominee medallion by his two stars, Berenice Bejo and Jean Dujardin. Upon taking it, he said: "It's a thrill to be here and to be among these wonderful directors. I'm honored," he said in accepting the medallion. "Maybe you haven't noticed but I'm French. I have an accent and I have a name that is very difficult to pronounce. I'm not American and I'm not French, actually. I'm a filmmaker. And I made a film about my love for Hollywood. We create stories that tell people they are not alone. We separate life from shadows. Hollywood helped me grow up. I believed in values like courage, perseverance and integrity."

"I made this film as a love letter to Hollywood. I feel like I am being accepted by you -- not you as Americans but as filmmakers. So thank you." And he added:  "For my wife Berenice, I'm so glad we shared this together and I love you."

The guild gave James Marsh the award for feature documentary for "Project Nim."

The DGA award for best directing in a TV comedy series went to Robert B. Weide, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" ("Palestinian Chicken").

In accepting, Weide said: "I have very mixed feelings about this because this means that I just lost a $300 bet to my wife, Linda. Why do they call this a medallion? It's a plate. I understand when you go to Don Mischer's house for dinner, you actually eat off of these."

Other awards handed out Saturday night:

Movies for Television and Mini-series: Jon Cassar, "The Kennedys"

Dramatic TV series: Patty Jenkins, for the pilot of "The Killing"

Musical variety TV: Glenn Weiss, for the 65th annual Tony Awards 

Reality TV programs: Neil P. Degroot, for "Biggest Loser"

Daytime TV serials: William Ludell, for "General Hospital" ("Intervention")

Children’s programs: Amy Schatz, for "A Child's Garden of Poetry" 

Commercials: Noam Murro

Three special awards were also presented. Ed Sherin was named an Honorary Life Member; Katy Garretson received the Frank Capra Achievement Award; and Dennis Mazzocco recieved the Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award.

[For the record, 5:30 p.m. Jan. 29: A previous version of this post misspelled the last name of "Project Nim" director James Marsh as March.]

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Photo: Directors Martin Scorsese, Alexander Payne, Michel Hazanavicius and David Fincher attend the 64th Annual Directors Guild Of America Awards Meet the Nominees Breakfast held at the DGA on Saturday.Credit: Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for DGA 

  


'Hugo,' 'The Artist' top nominees for Critics Choice Awards

December 13, 2011 |  3:00 am

The Artist

Martin Scorsese's lavish 3-D family film "Hugo" and the black-and-white ode to silent cinema "The Artist" topped the list of nominees for the 17th Critics Choice Awards, earning 11 nominations each from the Broadcast Film Critics Assn., the organization announced Tuesday. Both films were nominated for the best picture prize, along with "The Descendants," "Drive," "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," "The Help," "Midnight in Paris," "Moneyball," "The Tree of Life" and "War Horse."

Scorsese and "The Artist's" Michel Hazanavicius also will face off in the directors' race, where they will be competing against Stephen Daldry for his Sept.11-themed literary adaptation “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” Alexander Payne for the George Clooney-led family drama “The Descendants,” Nicolas Winding Refn for the modern noir thriller “Drive” and Steven Spielberg for his World War I-era film “War Horse.”

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'Midnight in Paris' gets one last hurrah in theaters

August 17, 2011 |  3:07 pm

Midnight in Paris is getting a wide release next weekend 
It's been a good summer at the box office for "Midnight in Paris" -- and it's not over yet.

Since the film's release in May, the romantic comedy has surpassed "Hannah and Her Sisters" to become Woody Allen's highest-grossing film ever -- not adjusting for inflation, of course. The movie, starring Owen Wilson as an idealist who is transported to 1920s Paris, is expected to cross the $50-million mark at the U.S. box office on Thursday.

To capitalize on that success, the studio behind the picture, Sony Pictures Classics, announced Wednesday that it will re-release the movie in 500 theaters nationwide on Aug. 26. (This weekend, the film will be playing on about 250 screens; at its peak, it was in more than 1,000 theaters in June.)

"We felt it would be a great way to go out at the end of the summer with a campaign that says, 'It's your last chance. See the movie for a second time and bring a friend to Paris,' " explained Tom Bernard, co-president of Sony Pictures Classics.

It was difficult, he added, for the film to secure screens earlier in the summer due to the onslaught of big-budget event movies booked in the majority of theaters.

Bernard also confirmed that the company is ramping up for an awards campaign for the well-reviewed picture, which earned a 92% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

"All the pundits seem to say that we've got a good chance to fare well, so we have an awards plan in the works for a lot of the categories, including best picture," he said.

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--Amy Kaufman

Twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: Owen Wilson, left, and Rachel McAdams star in "Midnight in Paris." Credit: Sony Pictures Classics


His stock high, Woody Allen will return to acting

June 20, 2011 |  2:43 pm

Photo: Woody Allen, right, directing Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams on the set of 'Midnight in Paris.' Credit: Roger Arpajou/Sony Pictures Classics Woody Allen is going through a career resurgence of sorts, with his "Midnight in Paris" poised to attract a wider audience than any film he's directed in the past 25 years (and there have been a lot of films in those 25 years).

On Monday morning, the 75-year-old director said he'd soon make himself visible in another way. Allen confirmed in a press release that he would have a role in his new movie "The Bop Decameron." The film, which begins shooting in July, strings together several romantic vignettes in Rome, the filmmaker's latest stop on his European tour. It attracts the usual mix of top-tier cast members (Alec Baldwin, Ellen Page, Penelope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg -- indeed, is there an actor who was born to star in a Woody Allen movie more than Jesse Eisenberg?).

"Decameron" will mark the first time  that Allen has starred in one of his own movies since "Scoop" five years ago, and it's hard not to notice a parallel. Back when that movie was being made the director was also undergoing a career revival, his darkly psychological "Match Point" garnering what at the time was his biggest audience in nearly two decades.

It's impossible to know the degree of connection between the popularity of "Midnight in Paris" and his willingness to again appear in front of the camera. But his return to acting certainly comes at an opportune time, with filmgoer goodwill for Allen higher than it's been in a long while.

Of course, Woody doesn't go away even when he goes away. In "Midnight," Owen Wilson's Gil Pender channels Woody, and Larry David two years ago played the Woody character to the hilt in "Whatever Works." Coming after all those stand-ins, the sight of Allen on the big screen will provide a fitting metaphor for his current career status: Just when you think he's disappeared, you realize he's been here all along.

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-- Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Woody Allen, right, directing Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams on the set of 'Midnight in Paris.' Credit: Roger Arpajou/Sony Pictures Classics


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