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Category: Steven Zeitchik

Telluride taps Geoff Dyer as guest director

June 11, 2012 |  5:30 am

Geoff Dyer
The Telluride Film Festival has named Geoff Dyer guest director for its 2012 edition.

Dyer will select  a series of films to present at the festival, which will hold its 39th edition this year.

A British author of novels such as "The Search" and "Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi," Dyer has also explored film subjects in his nonfiction work. He recently published "Zona," a look at the making and meaning of Andrei Tarkovsky's 1979 science-fiction film "Stalker." The author's jazz study "But Beautiful" won or was shortlisted for a number of literary prizes.

Dyer will curate a selection that will be announced at the start of the festival, along with the rest of the lineup.

Telluride has a history of choosing eclectic guest directors--in addition to more traditional choices such as Erroll Morris and Alexander Payne, it has also tapped Salman Rushdie and Stephen Sondheim in past years.

The festival, which takes place Aug. 31-Sept. 3 in the Colorado resort town, is often a platform for award-season contenders. In the past few years, movies such as "The King's Speech," "Slumdog Millionaire" and "Shame" got a boost at the festival.


Telluride: Jennifer Garner Spreads "Butter"

George Clooney Makes Waves with "The Descendants"

Telluride: Michael Fassbender exposes more than skin in 'Shame'

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Geoff Dyer. Credit: Getty Images

‘Catching Fire’ writer sinks sharp teeth into werewolves, ‘Sharks’

June 8, 2012 |  4:09 pm

Simon Beaufoy is set to take on "Raw Sharks"
You might not think there’s much left for a Hollywood screenwriter to accomplish after penning a sequel to “The Hunger Games.” But for Simon Beaufoy, the Oscar-winning scribe behind “Slumdog Millionaire,” there’s plenty of work ahead now that he’s  finished adapting Suzanne Collins' novel “Catching Fire."

“I’m done [with ‘Catching Fire’] and getting back to several different projects,” Beaufoy told 24 Frames from his home in London on Thursday.

One big priority? “The Raw Shark Texts,” the adaptation of Steven Hall’s science fiction-y novel that Beaufoy began work on as far back as 2008.

The novel is a strange one — it’s about a man named Eric Sanderson who wakes up one day and finds an earlier version of himself has been lost on a trip to Greece, where his girlfriend was killed in a boating accident, and that his memory is possibly being pursued by sharks. Yes, sharks. They eat memory, "Eternal Sunshine"-style. Sanderson has to get to the bottom of the mystery and try to discover what happened to his dead paramour in the process.

A Times review called it  “so much more than a clever, playful book, though it is both those things,” and compared it to Philip K. Dick and Haruki Murakami.

The project has been stuck in development, but Beaufoy now says he has a draft he’s happy with and is, along with producers, closing in on a big-name director. He thinks the director could be signed within the next few weeks.

Beaufoy is honest about the big swing that “Raw Shark” takes. “It'll either be really tremendous or it will be a disaster. There really is no middle ground.”

Another big priority for Beaufoy: “Sharp Teeth,” Toby Barlow’s 2008 novel, written in verse (!), about a gang of werewolf dogs in East L.A. that plot to take over the city. (No, it’s not a political satire. Well, not explicitly.)

Beaufoy is getting his own (Slum)dog pack back together for this one: Christian Colson, who produced the 2009 Oscar winner, is also producing, and British powerhouse Film4 is helping to finance, as it did “Slumdog.”

Will the all-important fourth member of that crew be baring his teeth?

“I think it would be great if Danny did it,” Beaufoy said, alluding to director Danny Boyle. “But he’s got the Olympics now, so it’s hard to know what he’ll do next. He may just retire.”


Simon Beaufoy talks 'Salmon Fishing,' 'Hunger Games' sequel

A colossal fish story

Catching Fire director: Frances Lawrence or Bennett Miller?

— Steven Zeitchik


Photo: A great white shark opens wide. Credit: Tom Campbell/Associated Press.


'Lola Versus' team turns their romantic baggage into films

June 7, 2012 | 10:00 am

Lola versus

Couples that collaborate are nothing new in the movie business. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a relationship as tangled as that of Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones, the twentysomethings behind the new offbeat romantic comedy “Lola Versus.”

For the film, which opens in Los Angeles on Friday, the duo wrote (both of them), directed (him), acted (her), executive-produced (both) — and, oh, yes, went through a yearlong, real-life breakup whose spirit they funneled into the movie.

Wein: “Our personal and professional lives have completely blended. I honestly don’t know if I’m at home right now or on set.” (He was on set, in New York.)

Lister-Jones: “Not everything from the script is from that year. Some is from single men and women I know.” Pause. “A lot is from that year.”

Unlike their 2010 feature debut “Breaking Upwards,” a low-budget DIY effort (think $15,000 and plenty of helpful friends) about a couple who decide to try an open relationship, “Lola” centers on a woman coping with the fallout of a breakup. It comes with a positively Spielbergian budget (for them) of about $5 million and veteran hands in producer Michael London (“Sideways”) and specialty-film giant Fox Searchlight, which financed and oversaw production and is distributing the movie.

The film stars Greta Gerwig (of “Greenberg” and seemingly every third indie romance) as the titular Lola, a woman dumped by her fiancé (Joel Kinnaman of TV’s “The Killing”) just before their nuptials — a destination wedding in Mexico. Rather than running permanently into the arms of her pining male best friend (Hamish Linklater of “The New Adventures of Old Christine”) or back into the conciliatory embrace of her ex, Lola tries to work out a single life with the help of her family and her bawdy gal pal Alice (Lister-Jones, also the wisecracking sidekick Lily from NBC’s “Whitney” and as outspoken in real life as one of her characters).

Though there is romance and comedy, “Lola” is as much about a quest for identity as it is a story of happily ever after.

Continue reading »

Which Ray Bradbury title merits a 21st century film? [Poll]

June 6, 2012 |  3:56 pm

1980 "Martian Chronicles" scene
Over his half-century career, Ray Bradbury had a host of stories and novels produced for the big screen. He also had numerous properties in development at Hollywood studios — many of them put there not that long ago, relatively speaking.

Including “The Illustrated Man” (in development at Warner Bros. with Zack Snyder and Frank Darabont) and “The Martian Chronicles” (in development at Paramount with producer John Davis), no fewer than four Bradbury pieces currently sit in the feature-film pipeline waiting for a push from the right producer or executive. Which piece of material would you most like to see make a return (or first) engagement on the big screen? Mull, then vote in our poll below.




Author Ray Bradbury dies at 91

Hero Complex: Ray Bradbury a 'sci-fi' writer?

PHOTOS: Ray Bradbury's influence on TV and film

Ray Bradbury was a huge influence on the film world too

— Steven Zeitchik


Photo: A scene from the 1980 Rock Hudson miniseries "The Martian Chronicles." Credit: NBC.

Ray Bradbury was a huge influence on the film world too

June 6, 2012 |  9:03 am

The death of Ray Bradbury Tuesday night at the age of 91 throws into relief not only his literary legacy but his abundant influence on the movie world.

Starting with the Jack Arnold-directed "It Came From Outer Space," about the crash-landing of a mysterious craft in the Arizona desert, in 1953, Bradbury's work has formed the basis of numerous films.

Rod Steiger starred in a 1969 adaptation of his futuristic short-story collection "The Illustrated Man." In 1983, Jason Robards took on Bradbury's horror novel, "Something Wicked This Way Comes," about a pair of teenage boys who experience nightmares when a carnival comes to town.

PHOTOS: Ray Bradbury | 1920 - 2012

And in perhaps the most notable big-screen spin on Bradbury's work, French New Wave pioneer Francois Truffaut helmed a version of Bradbury's dystopian book-burning classic "Fahrenheit 451" in 1966.

Bradbury's stories and novels also yielded many television adaptations, with the author also writing and creating the cable series "The Ray Bradbury Theater," a collection of standalone science-fiction and fantasy episodes.

In perhaps the most unusual collaboration between Bradbury and Hollywood, the author wrote the screenplay for the 1956 adaptation of "Moby Dick," which was directed by John Huston and starred Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab.

 New versions of Bradbury's work are scattered around Hollywood in various stages of development--a "Martian Chronicles" at Paramount, a "Farenheit 451" at Universal, an "illustrated Man" at Warner Bros.

FULL COVERAGE: Ray Bradbury | 1920 - 2012

Maybe more important than any particular film adaptation, however, is how Bradbury's aesthetic influenced a filmmaking zetigeist we now take for granted.

In print, he is often credited with elevating a genre from pulp to literature. His work had a similar effect on the movies, paving the way for the creation and broad popular acceptance of humanity-infused science-fiction hits ranging from "Star Wars" to "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" to "Avatar."

[Updated at 9:56 a.m., June 6: "Close Encounters" director and science-fiction maestro Steven Spielberg released a statement calling Bradbury "my muse for the better part of my sci-fi career.... On the world of science fiction and fantasy and imagination he is immortal."]

Bradbury also left his mark on the fantasy genre, broadly defined, that would eventually yield "Harry Potter" and a host of other cultural landmarks. (Bradbury himself preferred the fantasy designation. “I'm not a science fiction writer,” he once said, “I've written only one book of science fiction [“Fahrenheit 451”]. All the others are fantasy. Fantasies are things that can't happen, and science fiction is about things that can happen.”)

It's perhaps fitting that Ridley Scott's "Prometheus," emerging as the science fiction-fantasy hit of the summer, opens in the U.S. in the same week that Bradbury has died. It's hard to imagine it, or so many other high-profile films, without him.


Author Ray Bradbury dies at 91

PHOTOS: Ray Bradbury's influence on TV and film

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: "Fahrenheit 451." Credit: Universal Pictures

Coming soon: Stage versions of Oscar favorites?

June 5, 2012 |  4:06 pm



Upbeat Hollywood blockbusters like "The Lion King" and "Ghost" have been making their way to the musical stage for a while now. But the Broadway success this season of "Once" -- a microscopically small Sundance and award-season movie released in 2007 about a pair of drifter musicians -- has some people thinking of film-to-stage adaptations that are less intuitive.

The theater actress Kelli O'Hara, nominated for a Tony Award for her lead performance in the new Prohibition-era musical "Nice Work If You Can Get It," is preparing to star in two unlikely film-to-stage tuners. She's tackling lead parts in a a musical adaptation of Todd Haynes' 2002 period drama "Far From Heaven," which scored four Academy Award nominations, as well as a new singing version of Clint Eastwood’s 1995 romantic weepie "The Bridges of Madison County," which was nominated for one.

At a pre-Tonys interview at the Empire State Building on Tuesday, O'Hara, who at 36 has already landed her fourth Tony nomination, said she saw films in general as a potent new vein of material.

"'Once’ made you realize how it could be done," she said. "It was a small film and people like my husband [musician Greg Naughton] didn't think they’d like it. But it took an idea and just exploded it." She added: "I think the same can be done with other movies.”

The movie version of "Once" scored an Oscar win for original song -- which musicians and stars Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova performed at the ceremony -- as well as an audience prize at Sundance. The theater version of "Once," starring Steve Kazee and Crisitn Milioti, has led all Tony-nominated productions this season with eleven noms. (It will seek to pick up some hardware at the theater world's biggest night on Sunday.)

In her new roles, O'Hara will be tackling parts played by two giants of the screen. She'll inhabit the role of Julianne Moore's housewife-in-crisis from "Far From Heaven," a part that garnered Moore a best actress Oscar nomination. The show will be workshopped this summer at the Williamstown Theatre Festival before moving to off-Broadway next year. Asked how writers (Tony nominees Richard Greenberg, Scott Frankel and Michael Korie) will create book, music and lyrics for the dark and uncomfortable tale, O’Hara just smiled and said, “You’ll see."

O’Hara has also been cast as another lovelorn wife, signing on for the lead part in a development workshop of "Madison County." She'll take the part of Meryl Streep for a show that will inject tunefulness into a blindingly serious story about an Iowa housewife's torrid affair with a wandering stranger, reuniting with her "South Pacific" director Bartlett Sher.

O'Hara said she knew that with "Madison County" she was assuming a part people associated with a screen icon. But, she added with a smirk, "Meryl Streep didn't have to sing."


Movie 'Once' makes transition to Broadway

Tony Nominations 2012: No sure thing

Oscars 2012: Is this Meryl Streep's best year ever?

-- Steven Zeitchik


 Photo: Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood in "The Bridges of Madison County." Credit: Warner Bros.

Five lessons from the success of Kristen Stewart's 'Snow White'

June 4, 2012 |  8:30 am

Snow White and the Huntsman, starring Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth, turned out respectable box office as it opened in theaters to decent reviews

The $56.3 million taken in by "Snow White and the Huntsman" at the U.S. box office this weekend won't shatter any industry records. But the number, like the movie's "B" CinemaScore, was a respectable result in a season that has been turning out plenty of zeroes.

What drove the film, and what can be learned from it? Here are five lessons of "Snow White's" solid performance.

Capeless. Between "Battleship," "John Carter" and "Dark Shadows," spring 2012 has seemed like a parade of big-budget disappointments, particularly for non-superhero movies. Either your release is an all-out "Avengers"-style blockbuster or you're fighting for scraps. But the results for "Snow White," along with the $112-million "Men in Black 3" has taken in domestically since opening last weekend, showed that there's room for mid-range, non-superhero successes in a season that's been dominated by "The Avengers" (and will next month be stormed by "The Dark Knight Rises").

No fairy tale. With "Mirror Mirror," "Red Riding Hood" and "Beastly" all disappointments over the last 18 months, the fairy-tale boom has often seemed like a bust. Turns out there's life in the subgenre yet -- though we'll see if it's enough life to support a potential "Huntsman" spinoff.

Universalism. It hasn't exactly been the best season for Universal Pictures, with "Battleship" tanking and "The Five-Year Engagement" stalling. But "Snow White" (which also performed well overseas) sets things up for a possible turnaround -- something that will be much needed as the studio releases a trio of hyped bets this summer in "Savages," "Ted" and "The Bourne Legacy."

The adults shall lead them? Fairy tales have long been the province of family films or high-school fables, from Disney's longtime hits to the current crop of teen releases. But Rupert Sanders' movie proves that if you go dark enough and advertise outside the youth demo, adults with steady jobs will come too. The proof? More than half the audience for "Snow White" this weekend was over the age of 30, according to Universal.

No longer stewing. Her performance didn't put her on anyone's Oscar shortlist, and there are plenty of non-Twihards who still aren't sold on Kristen Stewart. But the weekend's opening proved that KStew could -- at least with the aid of costars, a major marketing campaign and a known property -- help open a movie.


"Snow White" has surprisingly strong $56.3-million debut

"Snow White and the Huntsman" is a tale darkly told, critics say

"Snow White's" Kristen Stewart still wants new "East of Eden" pic

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Chris Hemsworth and Kristen Stewart in "Snow White and the Huntsman." Credit: Universal Pictures

MTV Movie Awards 2012: 'The Dark Knight Rises' makes its case

June 3, 2012 |  9:39 pm

The summer movie that needed the MTV Movie Awards the least got the biggest boost when the annual telecast aired live from the Gibson Amphitheatre on Sunday night.

The principals from "The Dark Knight Rises," a near-certain blockbuster when it hits U.S. theaters on July 20, made the franchise's first appearance at the cable network's annual movie-marketing bazaar.

Though the shrill show was something of an odd fit for the serious superhero film -- director Christopher Nolan intoned that "every great story demands a great ending" while star Christian Bale teared up over the death of Heath Ledger -- the presentation of new footage from the Batman picture scored hugely positive reactions in the room and on social media.

PHOTOS: MTV Movie Awards 2012 red carpet arrivals

The awards handed out by the cable network are generally seen as little more than a coronation of what's popular; indeed, "The Hunger Games" and "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2" were among the big winners Sunday. But the reaction to the many pitches, both at the show and during commercial breaks, can be a useful barometer for the coming months at the multiplex, while the pitches themselves are an important tool for movies seeking an edge in a crowded summer marketplace.

Besides "Dark Knight," the movie perhaps getting the biggest boost was "Magic Mike," the Channing Tatum-Matthew McConaughey exotic-dancer story that will be released June 29. The two stars garnered a huge reaction from the room when they turned out to present the award for "Best Transformation," with the decibel level only rising when costar Joe Manganiello came out and did a striptease in which he simulated a sex act with an ax.

Not every movie was so blessed.

A bit featuring Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg and Leighton Meester for their June 15 R-rated arrested-development comedy "That's My Boy" fell flat, raising questions about a movie that is already perceived as freighted with commercial challenges.

And though buzz is running high for "Ted," Seth MacFarlane's June 29 stuffed-animal comedy, stars Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis didn't  do the movie any favors with an awkward segment near the top of the show.

Mentions or appearances from stars of "Prometheus," "Rock of Ages" and "The Amazing Spider-Man" -- which hits U.S. theaters Friday, June 15 and July 3, respectively -- seemed to do little harm to the films but failed to significantly elevate or transform their profiles, either.

MTV heavily touted a new trailer for "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," the high-school dramedy starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson. Though  Watson was ubiquitous at the show, the movie did not seem to emerge with a lot more awareness than it had coming in.

The awards were also marked by who wasn't there: some of the biggest stars and winners, including "The Hunger Games" pinup Jennifer Lawrence, "Harry Potter" heartthrob Daniel Radcliffe and "Twilight" megastar Rob Pattinson, prompting  Kristen Stewart to (attempt to) make out with herself while accepting a "Best Kiss" prize.

Sometimes. though, less can be more at the MTV Movie Awards.

 Katy Perry wasn't visible at the show, perhaps not surprising as her ex, Russell Brand, emceed from the stage. But a stream of commercials for the singer's July 5 documentary, "Katy Perry: Part of Me," combined with an awkward-landing Brand joke about his seeking a new wife, seemed only to boost the stock of the pop star and her upcoming movie.


Will Nolan's 'The Dark Knight Rises' occupy Wall Street?

Stale-looking 'That's My Boy' is a raunch risk for Adam Sandler

'Snow White's' Kristen Stewart still wants 'East of Eden' pic

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Christian Bale, left, and Christopher Nolan of "The Dark Knight Rises" at the MTV Movie Awards podium. Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

'Snow White's' Kristen Stewart still wants new 'East of Eden' pic

June 1, 2012 |  2:26 pm

With “East of Eden” often mentioned by Kristen Stewart among her favorite reads, the actress' fans have long clamored for the "Twilight" heroine to star in a reboot of the John Steinbeck classic.

That reboot, announced more than three years ago with Tom Hooper and Imagine Entertainment, has been perpetually stuck in development. But Stewart still feels strongly that the Cain-and-Abel story -- of course originally brought to celluloid by Elia Kazan and James Dean in 1955 -- could use another go-round on the big screen.

"Obviously ‘East of Eden’ is a really great movie," Stewart told 24 Frames when asked what book she'd most like to see adapted to film. "But it’s the last chapter of the ... book."

The Kazan film focuses only on the latter sections of the novel, particularly the dysfunction and adventures of a pair of brothers in California’s Salinas Valley around the time of World War I. Stewart said that a new film could take the scope of Steinbeck's epic, which goes back a previous generation and even flashes back to the Civil War, and make a more faithful adaptation.

"That really is much more of a saga. It's so long; there is so much to take," she said. 

The actress didn't say anything about starring as the Cathy/Kate character, as many KStew fans have been pulling for. (Cathy/Kate is the lead female character, a conniving and murderous operator who gets involved with several male characters.)

Stewart did, however, say she was relieved about the development progress of a different book that has struggled to make its way through Hollywood — John Kennedy Toole's "A Confederacy of Dunces," to which Zach Galifianakis has just signed on as the bumblingly iconic Ignatius Reilly.

"Finally, they're going to get that made," she said, breathing a sigh of relief.

In addition to starring in a new spin on a Brothers Grimm tale with this weekend's "Snow White and the Huntsman," the Bella-fied one appears in another adaptation of a classic text -- "On the Road," the film version of the Jack Kerouac tome that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and opens in December.

Garrett Hedlund, one of her costars in that film, has strong feelings himself about a book that could use a big-screen treatment. In contrast to "East of Eden," however, this one is older, longer and more French.

“There’s something about ‘Swann’s Way,'" Hedlund said, alluding to the first volume in Marcel Proust’s seven-part opus “Remembrance of Things Past," "something so Gatsby-ish, so wackily period, with so much substance."

He addded, “One of the things I loved about Marcel Proust is just the writing style. There’s like three periods and 150 commas in the opening pages. It’s amazing.”


"Snow White and the Huntsman" is a tale darkly told, critics say

Cannes 2012: Kristen Stewart says Jack Kerouac changed her life

Kristen Stewart: I'm not trying to distance myself from Twilight Saga

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Kristen Stewart at a screening of "Snow White and the Huntsman" in Los Angeles. Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

With Kings in Stanley Cup Final, which hockey movie rules? [Poll]

June 1, 2012 |  9:00 am

'Miracle': Click for more hockey movie photos

The Los Angeles Kings have been providing some great drama on the ice, landing in the Stanley Cup Final and stealing Game 1 in New Jersey. But hockey has been a reliable, if underappreciated, source of drama on the screen, too. Yes, there's "Slap Shot," about the laughable, lamentable Charlestown Chiefs, often regarded as the best sticks-and-pucks movie of all time. But not everyone agrees.

Here, then, are five choices for the best hockey movie of all time. Read the arguments, then vote in our poll.

"Miracle" (2004) -- Gavin O'Connor did something novel when he cast his dramatization of Mike Eruzione's upstart squad from the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics. Instead of finding actors and teaching them to play hockey, he found hockey players and taught them to act. The result is a thrilling, true-to-life depiction of what it's like to deke, check and dipsy doodle. Also, you get Kurt Russell in plaid as U.S. coach Herb Brooks.

PHOTOS: Hockey movies

"Slap Shot" (1977) -- Racy, outrageous and occasionally even poignant, "Slap Shot" defined not just the hockey movie but sports films in general. But is it the best of all time or just an R-rated comedy ahead of its time?

"Goon" (2011) -- OK, so it's not the first movie to turn a sweet man into an enforcer. But in telling of the transformation of nice-guy Doug Glatt (Sean Wiliam Scott) into a hockey goon, Michael Dowse brings his off-the-wall-Canadian charm to the subject of Canadians on the boards.

"The Mighty Ducks" (1992) -- Vote for any of these films. Just not this one. Please.

"Youngblood" (1986) -- A hot prospect on a minor-league team, a wise veteran mentor, a liaison with the coach's daughter. It's "Dallas" with hockey. Also Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze in the same '80s movie.



Kings fans yell at TV

Anze Kopitar's goal lifts Kings in overtime

Room on bandwagon? Kings will keep on truckin'

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: A scene from "Miracle." Credit: Disney


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