Nora Ephron

WATER FOR ELEPHANTS

After Reese Witherspoon dyed her hair and stepped into June Carter Cash’s shoes for Walk the Line, it was no longer a secret that she could sing, and sing well. The 2005 biopic that earned her the Oscar for Best Actress is a dark and complicated journey through the singer’s life with Johnny Cash, just as much about their volatile relationship as it is about the music. And though Carter was never someone with a just an ordinary voice, Witherspoon absolutely nailed what made her tick, hitting ever lilt and country twang with ease. Now she’s tackling another giant: legendary jazz singer and songwriter Peggy Lee (who herself received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination). There’s actually no title for the biopic yet — who wants to bet good money that it’s called Fever? — but Witherspoon has actually been circling the project for over four years, during which time it was to be written and directed by the late and great Nora Ephron. When she passed away in 2012, it was assumed that the project wouldn’t be moving forward, but news surfaced from Witherspoon herself that indicates otherwise. The actress revealed during an onstage interview at the Toronto Film Festival last night that Ephron completed her script before her death, and Todd Haynes will now be directing. He is the man to talk to when it comes to original and unconventional music biopics, so this is promising news for getting the project back in the running. Among his larger filmography, Haynes is responsible for the very unauthorized Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, the fictionalized-but-little-too-real glam-rock […]

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youve-got-mail-end

The rom-com pairing of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks is the stuff of fluffy dreams — we dare you to name another pairing that is even remotely close to usurping their royal hold over the genre, at least within a modern context — and it’s one that has spawned three charming features. The duo has, quite memorably, starred together in a fizzy romance trifecta: 1990’s Joe Versus the Volcano, 1993’s Sleepless in Seattle and 1998’s You’ve Got Mail, and while it’s the second title that often gets all the big buzz and affection, we’ve got a big soft spot for the unrelenting sweetness and strange humor of Nora Ephron’s other Ryan/Hanks feature. You’ve Got Mail is celebrating its 15th anniversary this week (yes, 15th, also, you’re old, I’m old, we’re all old, but nothing is as old as that dial-up buzzing we hear about 20 times within the film itself). It is stylized as a modern take on the Miklos Laszlo play Pafumerie, which was also the inspiration for the 1940 film The Shop Around the Corner. It’s “modern” because it involves the Internet or, more specifically, AOL chat rooms, early email and the then-wacky possibility that someone could fall in love with a stranger over the net. Ephron, Ryan, and Hanks had previously explored a similar idea with Sleepless — that two strangers could be so destined to be together that they could fall in love via various types of correspondence — but You’ve Got Mail dove right into the burgeoning […]

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Sleepless in Seattle

While we’ve spent the past couple of weeks “celebrating” the birthdays of films with dubious honor (though if you are a genuine fan of stuff like From Justin to Kelly and Dumb and Dumberer, that’s cool and we respect your dedication to using less traditional means of tastemaking to pick your faves), it’s important to remember that there are still plenty of good movies with looming anniversaries that are worth actually honoring. You’d like an example now, right? How about the late, great Nora Ephron’s Sleepless in Seattle, which turns twenty years old today? (Also, yes, we’re all really old right now.) The film was the second on-screen pairing of stars Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan (their first was 1990’s Joe Versus the Volcano, a wonderfully weird rom-com if there ever was one) and their first outing with Ephron (she’d direct them five years later in their last pairing, You’ve Got Mail). It has the sort of dated plotline that sounded weird even when it was released in 1993 – really, what sort of people were still calling into sadsack telephone chat shows? – but its primary inspiration, drawn from 1957’s An Affair to Remember, is oddly timeless. As a story about other people, Sleepless in Seattle is inherently romantic and infinitely watchable, though it’s the type of thing that, if it happened in “real life,” would sound weird and basically hopeless. Ah, hopelessness, the true currency of all romantic comedies.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a “a sleazy, slimy, adolescent, over-sexed, over-paid, blowhole!” Or at least that’s how it all works out in the version written by Aaron Sorkin. If the man decides to write it, we’ll take it. We begin this evening with an image of Christian Bale looking rather dour as Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Rises, a film the Los Angeles Times says should open in the area of $200 million dollars. The fact that it’s tracking for big numbers comes as a surprise to no one. Chris Nolan’s final Batfilm has been the movie of the year from day one. So smile, Mr. Wayne, it’ll all be over soon.

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What is Movie News After Dark? At all times, it is an attempt to run down 8 or so stories that you should be reading today. Or should have read today, and should be reading tonight. Sometimes it’s helpful. Sometimes it’s silly. But it always is. We begin tonight with a shot from Disney’s potentially very cool 2D animated shot Paper Man. Classy, simple and with little bits of color (look closely, it’s there) and some really great buzz from the animation community are fueling the fire around this one, which will play alongside Wreck-It-Ralph in November.

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Nora Ephron on Set

Nora Ephron‘s film career – despite three Oscar nominations and credit with re-inventing an entire genre – somehow doesn’t get the legendary status that it probably deserves. She only wrote and/or directed a few more than a dozen movies, but in those films she delivered iconic characters that achieved a sense of honesty that few filmmakers are even brave enough to approach. She fought myopic views about her sex to build fame as a journalist, an essayist, a novelist, a screenwriter and a director. She got started in screenwriting because everyone else was writing scripts, her film school was being on set with Mike Nichols, and her work made a huge impact on popular culture and faked orgasms. So here it is, a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a comedy genius.

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Nora Ephron

On June 26th, writer/director Nora Ephron died at the age of 71. According to CNN, she was undergoing treatment for acute myeloid leukemia. After a stellar career as a journalist and essayist – writing sharply and often with caustic humor – she got her start in film with television (writing an episode for Adam’s Rib in 1973 and penning the TV film Perfect Gentlemen in 1978. Her first feature as a writer was Silkwood, a biopic exploring the mysterious death of whistle-blower Karen Silkwood which earned Ephron an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay and began a professional relationship with Meryl Streep.

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Over/Under is a weekly column in which we even the odds between two films that have, perhaps unfairly, developed very disparate legacies over the passing of time. This week finds us looking for inspiration in the realm of the romantic comedy. Or, more specifically, we’re looking at one of the best-regarded romantic comedies of the last couple decades in 1993’s Sleepless in Seattle, and one that’s oft forgotten and sometimes derided in 1990’s Joe Versus the Volcano.

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For an industry that is viewed reductively by much of middle America as being politically left-leaning to the point of being out-of-touch with the rest of the country, Hollywood has shown a stagnant lack of progress in terms of gender equality. Actresses’ careers are in jeopardy as soon as they hit 35, it always seems like there’s a dearth of good roles for women, and much of the business behind the camera is dominated by a boys’ club. Particularly striking are the lack of female directors.

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mwl-whenharrymetsally

I’m not ashamed to say that I love a good romantic comedy. Unfortunately, for every good one, there are about a hundred terrible ones. For this week’s Movies We Love, we take some time to appreciate one of the very best: When Harry Met Sally.

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turnedon-bigelow

Uber sex-columnist Bethany Perryman takes a break from her usual assortment of tranny-loving, fetish-having columns and commands your attention to talk about something very important: a little girl-on-girl… er, girl-on-film.

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julie-and-julia-header

Julie & Julia has been cooking up some serious drama in the foodie world. One part movie based on a blog, two parts snark, and the zest of good ol’ fashioned dissin’. 500 degrees for 18-22 minutes. Recipe for disaster? You tell us.

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published: 10.30.2014
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published: 10.29.2014
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published: 10.27.2014
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published: 10.24.2014
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