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Category: Lisa Cholodenko

'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


'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


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


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.

"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

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

July 22, 2010 | 12:18 pm

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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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.

Sundance 2010: 'Kids Are All Right' comes into Focus [Updated]

January 27, 2010 |  9:14 am

In a move that would mark the second significant acquisition of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, Focus Features appears to have closed a deal to acquire rights to Lisa Cholodenko's family dramedy "The Kids Are All Right," according to a person familiar with the negotiations. Focus paid about $5 million for the film's domestic rights, and also acquired some foreign territories, according to the person.

On Wednesday morning, Focus and the film's sales agent Cinetic Media were ironing out some of the deal's final terms, according to another person close to the film.

The movie, about a family headed by a lesbian couple (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore) and their complicated relationship with their sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo), premiered Monday night in Park City and sparked a spirited bidding war. Terms of the deal were not immediately available. [Updated at 10:40 a.m. Jan. 30: An earlier version of this post gave the wrong first name for actress Julianne Moore.]

Cinetic Media, which represented the filmmakers in the deal, spent much of the past 36 hours talking to interested distributors, including Summit Entertainment and Fox Searchlight, before finalizing terms of the deal on Wednesday morning. Representatives for Focus and Cinetic did not immediately return phone calls or e-mails seeking comment.

The sale would mark Focus Features' first acquisition out of the Sundance Film Festival since it purchased the farcical comedy "Hamlet 2" two years ago. That movie was a box-office disappointment, but a range of distribution executives at Sundance were optimistic that "The Kids Are All Right's" poignant moments, comedic scenes and rich dialogue would help it become both an art house as well as a broader success, though some buyers worried the film's candid sex scenes could limit its appeal outside major metropolitan areas.

Mia Wasikowska and Joshua Hutcherson star as the two children who meet their sperm-donor father, while all three adult actors have been earning raves that Focus will likely try to capitalize on come awards season.

-- John Horn and Steven Zeitchik

Sundance 2010: Buyers dance with 'Kids are All Right'

January 26, 2010 | 12:42 pm

The elaborate tango to acquire the Sundance breakout "The Kids are All Right" continued into this morning and stretched into the afternoon, as Focus Features and Summit Entertainment remained the two leading contenders to acquire the Lisa Cholodenko comedy, while specialty-division powerhouse Fox Searchlight waited in the wings contemplating an eleventh-hour move.

A deal between one of the companies and the filmmakers' representative, Cinetic Media, was likely by the end of the day, though acquisitions executives cautioned that a cooler sales climate ("Buried" has been the only big Sundance sale so far) meant buyers could take their time instead of jumping quickly into a deal while sitting in the sellers' condo, as has been the case in past years.

15285 One buyer remarked that the sales deal wouldn't be wrapped up in some lock-the-doors-until-dawn marathon negotiating session, as was the case when Fox Searchlight bought "LIttle Miss Sunshine" in Park City four years ago.

Negotiations could also be slowed today by the fact that a number of executives were in transit back to their Los Angeles offices as the pace of high-profile premieres at the festival begins to slow. There are only two must-see screenings set for today: Gurinder Chadha's serial killer comedy "It's a Wonderful Afterlife" and the 3-D environmental documentary "Cane Toads."

Both Focus and Summit -- two of the bigger non-studio entities in the film universe -- could bring marketing muscle and dollars to the release of "The Kids are All Right," and were carefully making their case, as well as their offers for the various available rights. As the specialty division with the best track record, a third interested contender, Fox Searchlight, could afford to hang back, confident that any seller would consider them before making a deal elsewhere.

 "The Kids Are All Right," which premiered to deafening laughter Monday night in Park City, involves a lesbian couple's two children (Joshua Hutcherson and Mia Wasikowska) who seek out their biological father (Mark Ruffalo), and the dramatic and comedic consequences that ensue when they meet. While potential buyers are still mapping their respective distribution plans, the movie would likely be released in 2010 with an awards-season run in mind.

Several distribution experts noted that the winning bidder could open the film as a counterprogramming choice in the summer, as Searchlight did with its Sundance coup "Little Miss Sunshine," or slot it into a more traditional fall awards slot.

While Cholodneko's film played to a hyper-enthusiastic audience Monday night, the morning after saw potential buyers debating an age-old Sundance question: Did this have the makings of a broad hit or was it, given the subject matter and some graphic sex scenes, more of an art house release that would struggle to gross more than $15 million?

Sundance hits don't often materialize into mainstream blockbusters, though the examples of those that do -- like the $45-million grossing "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" and the $60-million grossing "Little Miss Sunshine" -- are enough to raise both hopes and prices.

--Steven Zeitchik and John Horn

Photo of "Kids are All Right" director Lisa Cholodenko and child courtesy of Sundance Film Festival.


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