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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Quentin Tarantino

'Django Unchained': Teaser trailer serves up revenge with style

June 6, 2012 |  5:14 pm

Django Unchained
The teaser trailer for "Django Unchained" has been released, offering a first glimpse of Quentin Tarantino's upcoming film about a freed slave-turned-bounty hunter (Jamie Foxx) trying to save his wife from a vicious plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio).

True to Tarantino's genre-bending tendencies, the film is styled as a sort of "spaghetti Southern," a revenge tale set in the Deep South but inspired by the westerns of Sergio Leone and Sergio Corbucci (the latter directed 1966's "Django"). From the looks of the teaser, the film promises heaps of violence, striking set pieces and snappy wordplay.

At one point Foxx, taking up the lead role Will Smith reportedly passed on, spouts a catchphrase that's sure to blow up on Twitter: "The D is silent." He's joined by "Inglourious Basterds" star Christoph Waltz, who plays the German doctor responsible for buying Django's freedom and mentoring him in his new line of work. ("How do you like the bounty-hunting business?" Django is asked at one point. "Kill white folks and they pay you for it? What's not to like?" he replies.)

As with "Basterds," "Django" demonstrates that Tarantino isn't afraid to play in the darker corners of history. Neither, it appears, is DiCaprio. His character, the villain Calvin Candie, is said to be a truly despicable one who gets a kick out of watching slaves fight to the death. Viewers who think of DiCaprio primarily as a heartthrob might be in for a surprise, but his talent could go a long way toward making a vile character compelling.

The film, which opens Christmas Day, also stars Kerry Washington, Don Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson.

See the teaser trailer below.


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— Oliver Gettell

Photo: Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx in "Django Unchained." Credit: Andrew Cooper / The Weinstein Co.

Cannes 2012: Festival turns 65 with a lineup heavy on U.S. titles

May 16, 2012 |  5:00 am

Cannes Film Festival

If all film festivals are balancing acts, it stands to reason that the annual extravaganza at Cannes, likely the world's most celebrated cinematic event, has more to balance than most. Especially this year.

Opening Wednesday night with Wes Anderson's oddly endearing “Moonrise Kingdom,” Cannes is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year and marking that milestone by embracing all kinds of opposites: old and young, dramatic and documentary, commercial and politically committed, avant-garde and classic, even American and not.

The U.S. presence seems especially strong, starting with the official poster, an Otto Bettmann photo of a luminous Marilyn Monroe blowing out a birthday cake candle. An 80- by 40-foot version looms impossibly large on an outside wall of the Palais des Festivals, while the building's inside walls feature photos of other Hollywood luminaries, including Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth, Clark Gable and Judy Garland, even Marlene Dietrich and Ernst Lubitsch, having a go at birthday cakes of their own.

Cheat Sheet: Cannes Film Festival 2012

On one level, American films are thick in the main competition, with a roster that includes new movies by Lee Daniels, who is following his Oscar-winning drama “Precious” with “The Paperboy,” and Jeff Nichols, whose “Mud” comes after the acclaimed apocalyptic meditation “Take Shelter.”

But some of the most eagerly anticipated American films — Walter Salles' take on Jack Kerouac's legendary “On the Road,” Andrew Dominik's Brad Pitt-starring “Killing Them Softly” (based on George V. Higgins' “Cogan's Trade”) and John Hillcoat's Prohibition era “Lawless” — were all directed by filmmakers who hail from other countries.

Speaking of elsewhere, new films are also on offer from such stalwarts as France's Jacques Audiard (“Rust & Bone”), Italy's Matteo Garrone (“Reality,” following up on “Gomorrah”), Britain's Ken Loach (“The Angels' Share”) and Austria's Michael Haneke (the Isabelle Huppert-starring “Amour”).

The honor of being the oldest director in the competition goes to 89-year-old Alain Resnais, here with the puckishly titled “You Haven't Seen Anything Yet.” Considerably younger, with films in the Un Certain Regard section, are debuting Americans Adam Leon, whose “Gimme the Loot” took the grand jury prize at this year's South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas, and Benh Zeitlin, whose “Beasts of the Southern Wild” did the same at Sundance in January.

Straddling the young-old divide in a personal way are Canadian director David Cronenberg, in competition with the Robert Pattinson-starring “Cosmopolis” from the Don DeLillo novel, and his son Brandon, in Un Certain Regard with the thriller “Antiviral.”

Though the world's artier directors are always to be found at the festival, Cannes is also determined to embroil itself in the commercial side of things, which it does by scheduling the animated adventure “Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted” in an out-of-competition slot.

Then there are the numerous billboards for features that dot the city's streets and the fronts of hotels. Most noticeable this year is the way names that were considered edgy once upon a time have now become commercial enough to merit major-league spending.

Billboards could be seen not only for Quentin Tarantino's “Django Unchained” but also for Harmony Korine's “Spring Breakers.” And who should look right at home in the prime real estate of the entrance to the Carlton Hotel but Sacha Baron Cohen in full Admiral General Aladeen regalia for his satirical comedy “The Dictator.” Thus pass the bad boys of the world.

Perhaps even more startling, however, is the recent announcement from Canada's Alliance Films that it would charge Canadian journalists for interview access to the stars of some of the company's films.

If this is starting to sound all too frivolous, Cannes has political antidotes all ready to go. There will be a special screening of “The Oath of Tobruk,” Bernard-Henri Levy's doc about the fall of Moammar Kadafi, with “four key figures of the Libyan revolution” in attendance.

Closer to home is “The Central Park Five,” a quietly devastating documentary co-directed by Ken Burns, his daughter Sarah Burns and her husband, David McMahon, that examines how and why five innocent teenagers ended up being convicted of and imprisoned for the savage rape of a jogger in New York's Central Park in a case that became an international media sensation.

If you view film as a refuge from the cares of the real world, Cannes is ready for you as well. The ever-expanding Cannes Classics section features an impressive variety of restorations, including Alfred Hitchcock's silent “The Ring,” a 4-hour, 13-minute reconstruction of Sergio Leone's “Once Upon a Time in America” and Andrei Konchalovsky's aptly named “Runaway Train.”

Also, there are master class lectures by director Philip Kaufman (here with HBO's “Hemingway & Gellhorn” starring Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen) and 97-year-old Norman Lloyd, who has seen a lot (he co-founded the Mercury Theater with Welles) and remembers it all.


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William Friedkin to serve as L.A. Film Fest's guest director

'Gangster Squad' trailer highlights L.A. landmarks

— Kenneth Turan

Photo: A giant canvas of the official poster of the 65th Cannes Film Festival featuring Marilyn Monroe. Credit: Stephane Reix / EPA.

Around Town: 'Battle Royale' finally gets U.S. theatrical release

December 23, 2011 | 11:55 am

Battle Royale

A group of teenage schoolkids is deposited on a deserted island for the express purpose of killing one another in the hope of individual self-preservation. That might sound awfully similar to the plot of the upcoming "Hunger Games" movie due out in the spring, but it's actually the description for "Battle Royale," the 2000 Japanese film that has become one of the essential cult movies of the new millennium.

Incredibly, the film is getting its first U.S. theatrical run starting Saturday at the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre. (Consider it holiday season stress release viewing.)

The film was the last completed work by the then seventysomething director Kinji Fukasaku, known to American audiences for his work on the WWII aerial dogfight action picture "Tora! Tora! Tora!" Even directors half his age would be hard-pressed to match the go-for-broke energy in "Battle Royale," adapted by Kenta Fukasaku (the director's son) from a novel by Koushun Takami, with its extremely violent, wildly funny and totally bonkers sensibility. (Kinji Fukasaku passed away in 2003 while working on a sequel.)

Actress Chiaki Kuriyama would again don a schoolgirl outfit to play the brutal killer Gogo Yubari in "Kill Bill: Vol. 1" made by Quentin Tarantino, an avowed "BR" fan. Iconic Japanese actor and director Takeshi Kitano fuels the film's satiric undercurrents with his typical laid-back intensity.

"BR" is widely available on DVD, but this is a rare chance to see the film in a theater. As extra enticement, there will be a special "cosplay" screening of the film on the 30th, with discount tickets to those who arrive in costume, so break out the school blazers, knee socks and odd track suit.

The film plays through Jan. 2. For more info, visit www.cinefamily.org.


Around Town: Don Hertzfeldt kicks of Cinefamily's 'Animation Breakdown'

Takashi Miike enters the samurai genre with "13 Assassins"

-- Mark Olsen


Photo: "Battle Royale." Credit: Toei Co.



Quentin Tarantino's 'Django Unchained' close to landing Jamie Foxx as lead

June 22, 2011 |  4:45 pm

Jamiefoxx Has Quentin Tarantino found his Django? Jamie Foxx is in talks for the slave-turned-free man lead role in "Django Unchained," a civil rights revenge tale that the Weinstein Co. is co-producing with Sony Pictures, people close to the production who were not authorized to speak on the record said Wednesday. No deal has yet been struck but they say he is the man for the job.

The role is sure to be a controversial one. So much so that Will Smith, who was first offered the part, passed. In similar fashion to Tarantino's last film, "Inglourious Basterds," the writer-director plays with history, this time putting a slave partnered with a German bounty hunter on a quest to retrieve the slave's wife, who has been taken from him.

Tarantino is assembling an impressive cast, one that is likely to include Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson. The script has been making the rounds through Hollywood over the last few months and is filled with Tarantino's trademark wordplay and big, over-the-top set pieces. How Tarantino works with Foxx, who can next be seen in New Line's comedy "Horrible Bosses" on July 8, is a wait-and-see proposition. The actor won an Oscar in 2005 for his portrayal of musician Ray Charles in "Ray."

The Weinstein Co. has set a Christmas 2012 release for  "Django Unchained."

-- Nicole Sperling

Photo: Jamie Foxx in "Law Abiding Citizen." Credit: John Baer / Overture Films

Leonardo DiCaprio in 'Django Unchained': Are you ready to see him play a bad guy?

June 8, 2011 |  6:23 pm


It's no surprise that Leonardo DiCaprio would sign on for a role in a Quentin Tarantino movie. The filmmaker is one of the few big-name directors with whom the 36-year old actor hasn't already worked -- he's previously collaborated, of course, with Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg and Christopher Nolan, and he will next partner up with Aussie director Baz Luhrmann in "The Great Gatsby."

What is surprising is that DiCaprio is in talks for a supporting role in Tarantino's slavery revenge tale, "Django Unchained," a really, really despicable role. The part, according to press reports, is for Calvin Candie, the plantation owner and slave proprietor who gets his jollies out of watching slaves fight to the death and has no problem beating his own when they don't follow orders.

DiCaprio can clearly do wonders with character -- his Howard Hughes in "The Aviator" and Billy Costigan in "The Departed" were plenty tormented and conflicted -- but he's before never portrayed a truly evil man. Although the role of Candie in "Django Unchained" would be a complete about-face for DiCaprio, do audiences really want to see the heartthrob tackle a nasty, heartless character?

Time will tell. "Django Unchained" is supposed to begin filming at the end of the year. No word still on who will play the hero of the film, though Will Smith is supposedly considering the part. It would be a remarkable feat if Tarantino could land both actors to go mano-a-mano in a project that's destined to generate as least as much controversy as the director's most recent movie, "Inglourious Basterds."

--Nicole Sperling

Photo: Leonardo DiCaprio in"The 11th Hour." Credit: Chuck Castleberry / Eleventeen Productions

Around Town: John Cassavetes, Quentin Tarantino, Michael Winner and more

March 10, 2011 |  5:00 am


Independent-film pioneer John Cassavetes is being saluted by the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre. Screening Thursday evening is Cassavetes' 1959 directorial debut, "Shadows," which was shot on the  streets of New York on a shoestring budget. Costar Lelia Goldoni will be on hand for a Q&A. Friday's offering is his 1961 film, "Too Late Blues," with Bobby Darin and Stella Stevens, along with episodes from his 1959-60 detective series, "Johnny Staccato."

One of Cassavetes' frequent collaborators, Ben Gazzara, is set to visit the Silent Movie Theatre on Saturday night for a screening of the first film he made with the filmmaker-actor, 1970's "Husbands," which also stars Peter Falk. Sunday's triple Gazzara bill includes 1957's "The Strange One," which was directed by Jack Garfein and marked Gazzara's film debut; Cassavetes' 1976 feature, "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie"; and Peter Bogdanovich's 1979 "Saint Jack." http://www.cinefamily.org.

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Betsy Sharkey's film pick of the week: Truffaut and Tarantino

March 9, 2011 |  3:34 pm


This weekend, consider indulging in a double bill of Truffaut and Tarantino.

Start with the French director's “The Last Metro” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at LACMA, part of the museum's tribute to actress Catherine Deneuve. The 1980 film, which costarred Gerard Depardieu, is set during World War II in Nazi-occupied Paris. There is a theater run by its star (Deneuve), with a new play being staged.

The film unfolds as a play within a play, its story of identity and fate a thin scrim for its dissection of what it meant to be Jewish in those times. Meanwhile, the rehearsals and performances serve as cover for the actress' Jewish husband, the theater’s noted director now hiding in its cellar.

Getprev-1 Savor that, then go home and pop in a DVD of Tarantino's “Inglourious Basterds.” Though it's black comedy to Truffaut’s drama, the same creative river runs through it. For whatever else Truffaut and Tarantino have on their minds, both pay tribute to the art and artifice of theater and to the artistic voices that refuse to be silenced by even the most villainous of regimes.

-- Betsy Sharkey

Top photo: Gerard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve play stage actors caught up in the resistance in Nazi-occupied Paris in Truffaut's "The Last Metro." Credit: United Artists

Bottom photo: Quentin Tarantino. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Predicting Oscar: Best bets for best picture

March 5, 2010 |  7:00 am

GraphicMuch like erratic swings in the stock market, the fates and fortunes of films in the Oscar race rise and fall with each passing awards show and critic's top 10 list.

A closer look at the winners from the film awards handed out so far this season would seem to indicate a clear favorite for best picture at the Academy Awards on Sunday: "The Hurt Locker."

The Kathryn Bigelow-directed film has been nominated by each of eight major industry guilds and critics groups that we looked at for the chart at left -- and it won half of the top honors.

The next closest competitor: "Up in the Air," with two wins and nominations from all but one group.

"Precious," "Inglourious Basterds" and "Avatar," ranked by number of nominations by the eight groups, round out the top five in the newly expanded field of 10 best picture nominees.

Down at the bottom of the list, with no nods among the eight groups: "The Blind Side," starring acting nominee Sandra Bullock. But just like the whims of the financial markets, you can never count a movie out until the final bell sounds.

-- Brady MacDonald


L.A. Times reviews of the 10 best picture nominees:

* The Hurt Locker
* Up in the Air
* Precious
* Inglourious Basterds
* Avatar
* An Education
* A Serious Man
* Up
* District 9
* The Blind Side

L.A. Times award show coverage:
* Critics' Choice
* Producers Guild
* National Board of Review
* Golden Globes
* Directors Guild
* Writers Guild
* Screen Actors Guild
* American Film Institute

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:

Envelope Directors Roundtable: The challenges of marketing a film
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Envelope Directors Roundtable: 'The scene I had to cut'
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James Cameron (and friends) on 'Avatar's' box office domination


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