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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: The Kids Are All Right

'Kids Are All Right' director Lisa Cholodenko: Awards are great, but it's time to get back to work [video]

February 27, 2011 | 11:13 am

For months director Lisa Cholodenko has been talking to press, schmoozing at parties and indulging in free meals. Now that that's all coming to a close, will she go through withdrawal?

"I know I'm going to have a whole identity existential crisis," she joked Saturday at the Film Independent Spirit Awards. "I think a little R&R might be in order. It's been a long road."

A road, she said, that has largely prevented her from working on new projects. Alhough Cholodenko said she had been attempting to multitask, she admitted the promotional push for "The Kids Are All Right" had taken over the last year of her life. (The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2010.)

"You get caught up in the swirl and the events and the publicity, and it's very consuming," she said. "I've enjoyed it. It's been a fun ride and it's like a novel experience. But I'll be glad to have a little more calm and regularity going on."

The director had one of the more memorable appearances at the Spirits when she made out onstage with co-writer Stuart Blumberg after Blumberg said that "when we first started the script we were just a couple of lesbians with a hope and a dream." As for the Oscars, Cholodenko said she'd treat the ceremony as a "last hurrah." "Let's put on our fancy clothes and have a glass of champagne," she said.

-- Amy Kaufman

Twitter.com/AmyKinLA


Sundance 2011: In search of the next 'The Kids Are All Right'

January 20, 2011 |  8:30 am

Craz 

The Sundance Film Festival is ground zero for the film world's future indie hits, hidden gems that won't be hidden for very long.

But it's not always the movies you expect that wind up breaking out. Last year, a slew of celebrity-driven films with appealing premises came to the festival seeking media and, often, a studio home: Kristen Stewart's "Welcome to the Rileys," Katie Holmes' "The Romantics," Joseph Gordon Levitt's "Hesher." They all fizzled. The big hits? Movies that came in with a much lower profile: "The Kids Are All Right," "Winter's Bone," "Blue Valentine."

What movies will carry the mantle this year? The festival kicks off later Thursday, but a few titles are already bubbling up. There's "Little Birds," a coming-of-age story set in Southern California. There's "Like Crazy," a story of a long-distance relationship starring Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones and costarring Jennifer Lawrence (who, oh yes, came to fame last year in  "Winter's Bone"). Tom McCarthy brings the follow-up to his much-liked "The Visitor," a Paul Giamatti-starring dramatic comedy titled "Win Win," about a New Jersey wrestling coach.

On the documentary side, there's "Project Nim," from the director of the crowd-pleasing documentary "Man on Wire," about a chimpanzee that was used in a famous set of science experiments. And there's "Becoming Chaz," a look at the gender transition made by Chastity Bono.

That's to say nothing of promising international offers -- including "Tyrannosaur," an Irish-set story of an unlikely relationship layered with spiritual themes that marks the directorial debut of the actor Paddy Considine, as well as an offbeat take on the vampire genre, "Vampire," from up-and-coming Japanese director Iwai Shunji.

A big hit will doubtless emerge from this pool of films. Or from somewhere else entirely.

-- Steven Zeitchik
twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones in "Like Crazy." Credit: Crispy Films


The filmgoers' guide to getting your drink on

January 12, 2011 |  3:24 pm

Kings

With so many good films in theaters this time of year, dinner and a movie may figure in your night-life plans. Nice idea. But this season’s crop of films seem to be more about booze than cuisine. Apparently, you're not a serious Oscar contender this year unless you have a drink associated with your movie.

Film-cocktails With that in mind, we’ve compiled a pairing guide to help you match your flick ("The King's Speech," "Black Swan," etc.) to your firewater (Scotch, tequila, you get the drift...). Check out the gallery at right, settle on a film and tip back a glass (though maybe not in the theater). To do anything else would be ... un-cinematic.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Colin Firth sips a Scotch in "The King's Speech." Credit: The Weinstein Co.



With so many good films in theaters this time of year, dinner-and-a-movie may figure in your night life plans. Nice idea. But this season’s crop of films seem to be more about booze than cuisine. Apparently, you're not a serious Oscar contender this year unless you have a cocktail associated with your movie.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled a pairing guide to help you match your flick to your firewater. Check out the list, settle on a film and tip back a glass (though maybe not in the theater). To do anything else would be ... un-cinematic.


'Kids Are All Right' director Lisa Cholodenko: Not all lesbian love scenes are created equal

November 17, 2010 |  5:53 pm

Getprev When "The Kids Are All Right" was released this summer, there was little fanfare about a lesbian sex scene between the film's stars, Julianne Moore and Annette Bening.

But in advance of the December premiere of the dark ballet thriller "Black Swan," there's been a lot of attention focused on a racy same-sex scene between the movie's leads, Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis.

So why is the scene in "Black Swan" a bigger deal?

Filmgoers will have their own hypotheses, but Lisa Cholodenko, who directed "Kids," has her ideas.

Cholodenko has yet to see Darren Aronofsky's latest movie. When questioned about the difference between the sex scenes in both films, she asked reporters at an awards luncheon for "Kids" on Wednesday to describe the "Black Swan" scene. Upon hearing the description, she said it seemed the film could have done without the Kunis-Portman scene. "It sounds like the kind of subplot that could have not been in the movie," she said.

On the other hand, she continued, "Ours was done with humor. It wasn't languid sexuality. And in the tradition of lovemaking scenes, it's harder to sell ours -- the more awkward, interrupted sex scenes."

That's not to say Cholodenko hasn't taken heat for the way she treated sexuality in the movie. Many in the "lesbian right wing," she said, took issue with the fact that Moore's character cheats on her female partner and decides to sleep with a man, played by Mark Ruffalo.

"They say, 'Why did she have to stray with a man?'" the director said. "And that just feels very narrow to me. Sexuality is fluid. Not everyone lives on the lesbian reservation."

-- Amy Kaufman

Twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: Top, from left, Mia Wasikowska, director Lisa Cholodenko and Julianne Moore on the set of "The Kids Are All Right." Credit: Focus Features.

RECENT AND RELATED:

10/10/10: The 10 best movies of 2010 (so far) that you might have missed

Why did so few specialty films cross over this summer?

LAFF 2010: The cast of 'The Kids Are All Right' goes downtown (VIDEO)


10/10/10: The 10 best movies of 2010 (so far) that you might have missed

October 10, 2010 | 10:10 am

You know it's award season when the multiplexes start to brim with quality offerings for avid moviegoers. With more and more Oscar-bait films lining up for their theatrical runs in the coming weeks, let's not forget some of the great fare from earlier in the year that's just as deserving of acclaim. Here are 10 of our critics' favorites -- some of which are still playing on the big screen -- to mark the date 10/10/10.


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"Animal Kingdom:" The impressive debut of Australian writer-director David Michod manages to be both laconic and operatic. Faultlessly acted by top Australian talent, including Guy Pearce, Ben Mendelsohn and Jacki Weaver, "Animal Kingdom" marries heightened emotionality with cool contemporary style to illustrate one of the oldest of genre truths: "Crooks always come undone, always, one way or another." Michod and his team use all the tools at a filmmaker's disposal to create a disturbing, malignant atmosphere in which every pause is pregnant with menace and every word could cost you your life. -- Kenneth Turan

"Cyrus:" A comedy of discomfort that walks a wonderful line between reality-based emotional honesty and engaging humor, this film demonstrates the good things that happen when the quirky independent style of the Duplass brothers combines with the acting skill of John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei and Jonah Hill. -- Kenneth Turan

Continue reading »

Why did so few specialty films cross over this summer?

September 3, 2010 |  1:16 pm

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Summer -- that elusive, seductive damsel exiting the bar after this weekend -- tends to inspire a lot of things, including too many contemporary country singers to write bad songs. What it usually also does is get filmgoers to take a break from the male explosion extravaganzas and female star-driven dramedies to check out something smaller. lighter and more human, movies that people see because they discover them, not because they're marketed into submission.

The so-called specialty crossover hit has  been a certainty in recent summers, when there's reliably been a  "Little Miss Sunshine" or a "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" to attract filmgoers. This year? Not so much.

The offbeat family dramedy "The Kids Are All Right" comes closest to earning the crossover crown -- it's grossed just over $19 million since being released in early July. For a $5-million acquisition of worldwide rights out of Sundance, that's not a shabby investment for distributor Focus Features. But it's hardly the blowout success of "Little Miss Sunshine," a movie to which "Kids" has been compared but which grossed nearly $60 million, or even the quirky breakup dramedy "(500) Days of Summer," which grossed $32 million last summer.

In only one other summer in the past decade did a specialty movie not crack the $20-million mark (it happened in 2007, when "Waitress" just missed the cut). "The Kids Are All Right" will probably make it to $20 million, but barely. And the Lisa Cholodenko film is actually the exception -- there isn't a single other specialty movie so far this year close to it. Many years there are multiple films. And sometimes there's even one blowout one, a "Napoleon Dynamite" or, all the way at the upper end of the register, a "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." This year the well is dry.
 
Executives we spoke to ranged around for explanation about the crossover crisis. There's the matter of changing audience appetites, they said. Or maybe the specialty business is simply cyclical, and we're at a low point. And then there's the fact that this summer's breakout, "Inception," a kind of big-budget art-house film, sponged up many of the moviegoers who might have otherwise seen specialty counterprogrammers.

But it's the simplest explanation that may be the truest: The number of financiers and distributors that might have produced and pushed these films are no longer doing business.  The brothers Weinstein -- who regularly churned out counterprogrammers earlier in the 00s, have been laying lower this year. Miramax and Bob Berney are off the scene. So are a lot of indie financing instruments. Sure, Fox Searchlight and Focus Features are still here as well-funded, infrastructure-heavy producers and distributors, but they're increasingly the exception. Searchlight also took a rare pause form its usual crossover dominance this year as it released "Cyrus," which grossed just over $7 million. (It did have the urban romantic comedy "Just Wright" gross $21 million, though that doesn't fit the typical definition of a specialty film.)

There is, however, some hope for those who toil in specialty fields, or simply appreciate its fruit: a number of word-of-mouth movies that quietly found a nice niche audience. The screwball family romp  "City Island," an Anchor Bay movie that few wanted even after a strong showing at the Tribeca Film Festival two years ago, has cranked out nearly $7 million on a minuscule marketing budget. Ditto for the Swedish-language crime thriller "The Girl Who Played With Fire." And a host of well-reviewed, micromarketed dramas have hovered at or near a respectable $5 million in domestic box office  -- Michael Douglas' "Solitary Man," Tilda Swinton's "I Am Love" and critics' darling "Winter's Bone."

When the financial crisis hit a few years ago, we heard often that indie films would now be left in indie hands, making indie money. This summer, we began to see it.

--Steven Zeitchik

Twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: "The Kids Are All Right." Credit: Focus Features



Join our live chat with 'The Kids Are All Right' director Lisa Cholodenko

July 22, 2010 | 12:18 pm

Cholodenko1
The success train for "The Kids Are All Right" keeps on rolling. After the film's breakout at the Sundance Film Festival in January, its near-universal positive reviews (it's at 95% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and its promising box-office debut, it appears to be the indie film of the summer.

But surely you have questions. Co-writer-director Lisa Cholodenko's film is the kind to inspire lots of post-screening discussion, which is why we got the director herself to sit down for a live chat.

Cholodenko will be joining us right here at 11 a.m. Pacific Time on Friday, July 23, to answer your questions about the film.

Photo: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

LAFF 2010: The cast of 'The Kids Are All Right' goes downtown (VIDEO)

June 18, 2010 |  1:58 pm

Kids Before the Lakers-inspired bedlam erupted Thursday night in downtown Los Angeles, an eager crowd gathered at L.A. Live's new Regal Cinemas to kick off the opening night of the Los Angeles Film Festival. The 10-day event launched with a screening of Lisa Cholodenko's family dramedy "The Kids Are All Right," the Sundance hit about a lesbian couple (played by Julianne Moore and Annette Bening) whose two teenage kids (Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson) decide to track down their sperm-donor dad (Mark Ruffalo).

The gang was all there Thursday, minus Bening, who bowed out for personal reasons. We caught up with the cast on the red carpet, where everyone seemed excited that the LA-centric film (shot largely in Venice and Echo Park) was premiering in the City of Angels.

"This movie, I think, is the exact perfect movie for the L.A. Film Festival," said Ruffalo, who had wife Sunrise Coigney by his side. "It’s a really great script. It’s a difficult script. Really well-polished. It has a lot of great humor in it. And it’s done for nothing. We worked very quickly with a very small budget. And I think that’s what the L.A. Film Festival is all about, at its best. [Film Independent head] Dawn Hudson, I know -- that’s what she has in mind by creating this festival."

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L.A. Film Festival to premiere 'Twilight: Eclipse' and open with 'The Kids Are All Right'

May 4, 2010 |  9:55 am

6a00d8341c630a53ef0133ece73c42970b-300wi Next month, the Los Angeles Film Festival will probably welcome a new contingent: throngs of screaming girls.

The annual event announced its lineup Tuesday morning, which will feature an invitation-only screening of “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” the long-awaited next installment in the popular vampire franchise.

The Los Angeles Times-sponsored festival -- which offers both specialty cinema and popcorn programming -- runs June 17-27, when more than 200 films, music videos and shorts from over 40 countries will screen (including 28 world, North American and U.S. premieres). This year, the event will move from its old stomping grounds in Westwood to downtown L.A., where many screenings will take place at L.A. Live.

Hot off of its buzz worthy Sundance run, Lisa Cholodenko’s quirky family comedy “The Kids Are All Right” will kick off the festival, which will close with Universal’s 3-D CGI film “Despicable Me.” Instead of a centerpiece film, the 16th annual festival will this year host a number of galas screenings that will include Sony Pictures Classics’ “Animal Kingdom”; Fox Searchlight’s “Cyrus,” starring Jonah Hill and John C. Reilly; “Mahler on the Couch”; and “Revolucion,” a series of short films by the likes of Gael Garcia Bernal and Rodrigo Garcia.

Check out the full line-up below the jump.

Continue reading »

Preview review: 'The Kids Are All Right'

April 12, 2010 |  6:23 pm

6a00d8341c630a53ef01287721d7ca970c-500wi Coming off a much-buzzed about Sundance run earlier this year, Lisa Cholodenko's quirky family dramedy "The Kids Are All Right" seems to have a lot of hype to live up to.

Last week in his Word of Mouth column, our colleague John Horn said the film "is a favorite to become the summer's standout specialized release."

So it was with charged trepidation that we watched the newly released trailer for the film, out in July, about a lesbian couple (played by Julianne Moore and Annette Bening) whose two teenage kids (Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson) decide to track down their sperm-donor dad (Mark Ruffalo).

We like the easy tone the trailer sets, much of which is due to the bouncy music used, like Madness' "Our House" and Vampire Weekend's "Cousin." The trailer seems to be marketed toward audiences that embraced "Little Miss Sunshine" and are looking for a smart take on the ever-changing modern family -- albeit one that seems to live in a bourgeois Nancy Meyers-esque home.

And the casting of Ruffalo as a drifter sperm-donor dad Paul seems spot on here.

"Right on, cool. I uh ... I love lesbians," he says when learning of the news that he's fathered two children.

Ruffalo always comes to life in small parts in indie dramas, but he's at his best when he plays the aloof spacey guy. We also like what we're seeing from newcomer Wasikowska here, who seems right at home as the family's inquisitive, emotional teen. As we've seen in her past films "High Art" and "Laurel Canyon," Cholodenko certainly has a way of telling unexpectedly moving tales about modern relationships. As for the dynamic between Bening and Moore, we're hoping their relationship will prove to be more comical than overwrought. Regardless, there's more than enough here to pique our interest in the film.

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Josh Hutcherson and Mia Wasikowska star in "The Kids Are All Right." Credit: Focus Features.


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