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The Ocean at the End of the Lane

According to Deadline Hollywood, Focus Features and Playtone are securing the rights to “The Ocean at the End of the Lane,” the new novel from Neil Gaiman. Normally, that would be exciting enough news on its own, but there’s a glimmer of hope that this one won’t sit sadly on a shelf somewhere because Joe Wright is on deck to direct the adaptation. The synopsis of the book from Good Reads: “It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed – within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it. His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.” But you know, it’s the man who made Hanna, Atonement and Anna Karenina taking on a modern literary genius. Do the details really even matter? And when we we getting that “Good Omens” movie anyway?…

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Joe Wright set up a big challenge for himself with Anna Karenina. The material could easily lend itself to the stuffy brand of period piece, which is the type of film we see all too often during the awards season. Wright didn’t want to make that film, though. With his theater concept, he may have stripped the budget down, but, according to Wright, it was the exact type of challenge where the most creativity comes from. That notably happened with his previous project, Hanna, as well. Everyone adored the long-take fight scenes in that film, and that approach came out of saving time, budget, and, of course, creative impulse. It’s those type of decisions Wright seems the most excited by. Here’s what director Joe Wright had to say about why his brain switches off when filming, the power of limitations, and why Anna Karenina is his least indulgent film:

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Editor’s note: With FSR favorite ParaNorman opening today, we thought it was only appropriate to re-post our very special set visit from the film, originally posted on May 21, 2012. I recently visited a nondescript building outside Portland, Oregon that would feel right at home in any corporate office park in America. Nothing about the bland, uninteresting exterior even hinted at what to expect beyond the front doors. There’s no sign outside to tell you where you are. No iconic sculptures alluding to what they do inside. Nothing at all that even hints at the harmonious blend of magic and technology within. But make no mistake, what LAIKA Studios is hiding inside those four generic-looking walls is nothing short of a revolution in film production…a revolution 115 years in the making. LAIKA is the studio behind 2009’s critical and commercial hit, Coraline, a film that utilized creepy but beautiful stop-motion puppetry to tell Neil Gaiman’s dark childhood fable. Their follow-up feature is an original work called ParaNorman. It’s an Amblin-like tale of a small New England town, a very special boy who can see and talk with the dead, and a zombie uprising that threatens to destroy them all. And yes, it’s a comedy. Keep reading for a peek behind the scenes of LAIKA Studios’ upcoming production, ParaNorman, and their secret, high-tech weapon…Rapid Prototype 3D printers.

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Today is a sad day for fans of manly movies about manly things, as it turns out two very different but very promising-sounding gritty crime movies have been put on the shelf. First up is Fox’s reboot of Marvel’s Daredevil character. Remember how Fox only has until October 10 to get a new Daredevil movie shooting before they lose the rights back to Marvel? The story is that they have a script that they like, which adapts Frank Miller’s fairly dark “Born Again” storyline from the comics, and they want Joe Carnahan to direct it, but they’re not really sure if they can get things developed before time runs out. Rumor had it that Marvel was willing to do some dealing to give Fox the time extension they would need to make the movie possible, but a new development is making it look like Fox refused to play ball and are likely to let the rights to the character lapse. The bad news comes from Joe Carnahan himself, who recently took to his Twitter account (as spied by ComingSoon) to tell his fans, “Think my idea for a certain retro, red-suited, Serpico-styled superhero went up in smoke today kids.” He then followed with, “We shall see. Time is NOT on anyone’s side.” The deal on the table was that Marvel wanted the rights back for a couple of its Fantastic Four characters in order to give Fox the extension that they need. Looks like the studio decided that maintaining their […]

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Culture Warrior

A week and a half ago, Anthony Hemingway’s Red Tails was released. On the surface, the film breathes Hollywood oxygen through-and-through. It’s a WWII era action film that uses its setting for broad family-friendly cheese-banter and CGI-heavy eye candy rather than an opportunity for a sober interrogation of history. Red Tails looks and feels like any Hollywood film geared toward as mass an audience as possible. But the studio that’s distributing it – 20th Century Fox – didn’t pay a dime to produce it. The reported $58 million cost to make Red Tails came solely out of the pocket of producer George Lucas, who had been attempting to get a film about the Tuskegee Airmen made since the early 1990s. He was continually met with resistance from a studio system that saw anything less than the biggest guaranteed appeal to the largest possible audience as a “risk,” including a heroic true story about African-American airmen. The ideology that closed the doors on George Lucas of all people reflects the same business mentality that inspired Jeffrey Katzenberg’s lengthy warning to other studios in a memo written during the same years that Lucas was first trying to get Red Tails financed.  In the memo, Katzenberg warned studios regarding their practice of exponentially centralizing all their resources in a few very expensive projects, resulting in high risk, little room for experimentation, and an increasing reliance on that coveted monolith known as the “mass audience” (which, to make things even more complicated, now includes […]

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We featured the short film Blinky a while back, but if you go to the page now, the video is private. Why? Because director Ruairi Robinson is blowing up in a major way, and they’ll probably want to sell the cow instead of giving away the sweet sci-fi milk for free on the internet from now on. If you saw the short before it was walled up, then you know his success is a great, great thing. He’s got immense talent (and an Academy Award nomination from his 2001 short Fifty Percent Grey), so it was a no-brainer when he got picked up for Lionsgate’s aliens-crashing-in-Russia flick The Fallen, but that probably won’t be his feature debut. According to Deadline Tharsis Bulge, Qwerty Films is ready to start production in early 2012 for The Last Days on Mars, a story about a routine hunt for life on Mars that runs off the rails when an astronaut biffs it into a cave, dies, and gets taken over bodily by a resident of the red planet. The fresh talent behind the camera will be joined by the seasoned talent of WETA doing effects in front of it. It sounds a little like The Thing on Mars, which is not bad at all. Plus, Robinson has already proven that he’s more than capable – it will simply be a matter of seeing if his debut is as stunning as his short work. If it is, and considering the projects he has lined up, […]

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Culture Warrior

The month of September is typically regarded as one of the least exciting and least eventful in the calendar year. It’s something of an interval month, a strange in-between phase sandwiched in the middle of summer Hollywood blockbusters and the “quality” flicks and holiday programming of the fall. In strictly monetary terms, it’s the most underperforming month of the year, and has even been beaten by the desolate burial ground that is January in terms of event-style opening weekends. But this may ultimately be a good thing. In fact, if future Septembers continue to exhibit the same patterns as this month, the time of the year in which schools go back in session and you can no longer wear all-white may prove to be one of the most interesting and exciting months on the wide-release calendar.

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Culture Warrior

Last week, as I watched Quentin Dupieux’s Rubber, I noticed that the trailers on the rental Blu-Ray were all of titles sharing space at the top of my queue: titles like Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins, Kim Ji-woon’s I Saw the Devil, and Jason Eisener’s Hobo with a Shotgun. All, I quickly realized, had been released by the same studio, Magnet Releasing, whose label I recalled first noticing in front of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson. After some quick Internet searching, I quickly realized what I should have known initially, that Magnet was a subsidiary of indie distributor Magnolia Pictures. The practices of “indie” subsidiaries of studios has become commonplace. That majors like Universal and 20th Century Fox carry specialty labels Focus Features and Fox Searchlight which market to discerning audiences irrespective of whether or not the individual titles released are independently financed or studio-produced has become a defining practice for limited release titles and has, perhaps more than any other factor, obscured the meaning of the term “independent film” (Sony Pictures Classics, which only distributes existing films, is perhaps the only subsidiary arm of a major studio whose releases are actually independent of the system itself). This fact is simply one that has been accepted for quite some time in the narrative of small-scale American (or imported) filmmaking. Especially in the case of Fox Searchlight, whose opening banner distinguishes itself from the major in variation on name only, subsidiaries of the majors can hardly even be argued as “tricking” audiences into […]

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Last year, Nanette Burstein used comedic flair to tackle the difficulties of trying to love and make love with someone across the country. Two years before that, she (re-)burst onto the scene as the writer/director of the documentary American Teen, a simple movie focusing on the difficulties of the acne age that demands to be seen. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Burstein will now be showcasing the difficulties of battling with your soul mate in the work place. She’s signed on to direct Unforgiving World, a remake of a French film that focuses on a married couple who are both up for the same career-altering job at an architecture firm. Instead of giving one side of the story, the film will show different possible outcomes depending on who gets the gig (and presumably how they get it). Please Give writer/director Nicole Holofcener will write the script for Focus Features, but there’s no word yet on when to expect it on screens. The premise sounds like one bursting with possibilities, and working through Focus should give Burstein and Holofcener both the freedom to explore even the darkest of possibilities. As a comedy, it might need those depressing elements. It feels slightly in the same vein as The Promotion, but a version where Sean William Scott and John C. Reilly are a married couple. Try and get that image out of your head for the rest of the day. Burstein got her start in the documentary world, but with this, she’ll be […]

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Damn. It’s been a tough world for movie marketers lately. Stars aren’t selling as strongly, companies are forced to crib from other designs if a movie is ultra popular, and there just aren’t that many pre-pubescent assassins out there to brag about. Hanna, the story of a young girl (Saoirse Ronan) trained to kill by her CIA father (Eric Bana), looks incredible. Now it’s got an incredible poster. Check it out for yourself:

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tellnoone_1

Despite the obvious negativity conveyed in perhaps the worst headline of all time (see above), I actually don’t feel one way or the other about Miramax busting out an English-language version of Tell No One. As long as there are French subtitles.

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wes-anderson-noah-baumbach

A central mass of talent is gravitating around Noah Baumbach’s new project. Is that going to be enough to create a quality movie?

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Steve Coogan in Hamlet 2

With quotes this big, you would think that Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly and Peter Travers of Rolling Stone were official sponsors of the upcoming film Hamlet 2.

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Probably one of the silliest and most outlandish films that I’ve seen on the festival circuit this year, Hamlet 2 is one of those films that is completely dedicated to its own ridiculous nature. I loved it, and hopefully you will, too…

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