Bill Pullman

Cohen Media Group

A second feature is often about risk. Cherien Dabis‘s first film, Amreeka, is an almost archetypal example of the debut America indie hit. It premiered at Sundance, gathered some excellent reviews and picked up three Independent Spirit Award nominations. The touching and occasionally quite funny story of an immigrant Palestinian Christian single mother living with her sister’s family in Illinois, it made for a charming arrival. Its success also challenges Dabis to do something different the second time around, to take a few risks and make the case that her style is versatile beyond the borders of light-hearted suburban social commentary. May in the Summer certainly tries to be a leap forward. Dabis’s most perilous choice was to cast herself in the lead role despite having no prior film acting experience. She plays May, the daughter of a devout Palestinian Christian woman (Hiam Abbass) and a somewhat flippant American diplomat (Bill Pullman). They’re unhappily, bitterly divorced. They raised their children in the United States, but both currently live in Amman. May lives in New York, but she’s returned to the Jordanian capital to plan her wedding to Ziad (Alexander Siddig), a Columbia professor. He’s Muslim, which horrifies her mother. The narrative stems from this conflict, with May’s two sisters Yasmine (Nadine Malouf) and Dalia (Alia Shawkat) along for the ride.

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independenceday

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting news roundup that’s currently wondering what the President’s new house is going to look like in the Independence Day sequel. And it’s also got news about new gigs for bombshells like Paz Vega and Kelly Brook. It’s true that Will Smith is such a highly paid star these days that Roland Emmerich has said he isn’t even going to try to get him to come back for his upcoming Independence Day sequel, but he also said that some of the other names from the first movie are going to return, and in a recent conversation with Movies.com he confirmed two of those names. Said names are Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum, who you’re probably familiar with. Now all we need is confirmation that Judd Hirsch is going to be back as Goldblum’s dad, and then we can all breath a sigh of relief. Those two had crazy chemistry.

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commentary-id4

In the summer of 1996, Will Smith became a bona fide box office star with the blockbuster hit Independence Day. It was a time of sunny outlooks for all involved. Co-star Jeff Goldblum was fresh off two successful Jurassic Park movies. Director Roland Emmerich had not yet made the disastrous Godzilla. Smith was a good decade away from making movies that star his yet-to-be-born son Jaden. Emmerich and writing/producing partner Dean Devlin recorded a commentary for Independence Day several years after its release when it hit DVD. Recorded at a time before full-blown CGI effects were the norm for pretty much everything in a Hollywood production, Emmerich and Devlin tend to focus on the spectacle of the film, but they still offer some interesting insight into its development and writing.

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bill pullman fruit hunters

It would be a stretch to say The Fruit Hunters is the weirdest movie Bill Pullman has ever been in, but it might feature the weirdest appearance by the actor. And yet he’s just himself, apparently a fruit-obsessed man with an orchard in the backyard of his Hollywood home and — this is credited as being revealed in this very documentary — no sense of smell (which is pretty noteworthy in a food doc given the link between smell and taste). Maybe “weird” is not the correct word. That sounds sort of negative. “Strange” is better, if only because it’s not well known that Pullman has such a hobby in rare tree-borne delicacies. Or that it’s a hobby at all. The unknown is typically a great subject for nonfiction films, and this is no exception. How often do we think about the endangerment of fruit varieties? We barely even think about fruit at all, and filmmaker Yung Chang (Up the Yangtze; China Heaveyweight) makes the point early on that we take this type of food for granted  — there’s a joke about it growing on trees there somewhere (in the thought, if not directly in the film). And we tend to just consider the supermarket, still-life and basket basics, such as bananas (specifically the Cavendish, I now understand), apples, oranges, grapes, pears and cherries. Maybe pineapples. Who knew there were things called marang, which is said to taste like marshmallow; ice cream bean, which is actually more like cotton candy; […]

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Elle Fanning in Phoebe in Wonderland

Today, a promo reel for another delightful indie, entitled Phoebe in Wonderland, has hit the web. It features young Elle Fanning, little sister of Dakota Fanning.

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A cute, whimsical movie that lacks a bit of magic, but showcases a great performance from little Elle Fanning.

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+
published: 12.15.2014
B


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