Warren Beatty

Oliver Platt in X-Men First Class

It’s a scientific fact that if you add Oliver Platt to anything it gets 34% better. There are numerous examples of Platt elevating films even with his smallest of appearances. However, this week he took off his actor’s hat and served as a narrative feature juror member for SXSW. He also has a role as a food critic in Jon Favreau‘s Chef, which premiered at the festival, but Platt was in attendance to be a part of the festival, not to promote a film. And yet, he made the time to speak with us. Platt was my final interview of the festival, and it couldn’t have been a better note to end on. Interviews can be tough during SXSW. Sometimes you’re lucky to have more than 10 minutes with whomever you’re interviewing. In many cases, it’s never done in a helpful setting, either. Too often you’re in a small room or restaurant packed with people speaking at an excessively high volume. Or, in one instance, you’re on a stage under a spotlight in some darkly lit bar being watched by 15 strangers. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case with Platt. At the last minute, an interview slot opened up and we met him in his hotel lobby the following day for a lengthy conversation. It was an all around ideal situation, and we used it to explore the overriding theme of the festival.

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Howard Hughes

It’s hard to imagine, but it’s been thirteen years since screen legend Warren Beatty has starred in a film, the last time being in 2001′s Town & Country. Even longer than Beatty’s absence from the silver screen is his desire to get a project off the ground centered around famed reclused aviator Howard Hughes. After 20 years of negotiating, Beatty’s got the financing and the rest of cast on board to go forward with filming his untitled pet project, in which he’ll direct and star as Hughes and be supported by a talented cast. The film isn’t a biopic of the iconic pilot — those duties go to 2004′s The Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio — but rather a story about Hughes’ loyal (and likely long-suffering) assistant and the assistant’s love interest, played by Alden Ehrenreich (Beautiful Creatures) and Lily Collins (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones), respectively. Though details about the film are sparse beyond that tidbit, previous reports stated that Collins’ character would actually turn her attention away from her assistant beau and fall for Hughes himself; it’s not clear if that’s the case anymore, but it’s certainly an interesting pairing if there ever was one.

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marion dougherty casting by

One of the best anecdotes in the documentary Casting By, which premieres tonight on HBO, relates the start of Warren Beatty’s screen career on a 1957 episode of Kraft Television Theatre. We’re told that like many young actors of the time he modeled himself way too much on Marlon Brando. Then we actually see a clip, and sure enough the future movie star looks and sounds like he’s doing a comical impersonation. Fortunately, within the next five years he would find his own comfortable style and manage to break out in Hollywood in order to become one of his generation’s finest. And apparently we have casting director Marion Dougherty to thank for giving him his first shot. There are a lot of first- and second-hand stories in the film about a lot of actors and actresses’ beginnings. And a lot of rare clips to prove just how terrible or terrific they really were. There’s Jon Voight‘s embarrassing performance on Naked City in 1963, which actually kind of foreshadows most of his later work (personally, I’ve always thought him to be one of the worst in the business). Jeff Bridges talks about how he witnessed audiences literally laughing at his tearful work in 1970′s Hall of Anger. Bette Midler thanks Dougherty for allowing her to hide her Jewishness and play a missionary in Hawaii and earn a paycheck that would finally get her to New York. And then there’s a claim that Michael Eisner, while President and CEO of Paramount Pictures, kept trying to […]

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Felicity Jones had a breakthrough at Sundance last year when Like Crazy took its time in the spotlight. Now that it’s reclaiming that position with an ever-expanding limited release, Jones has caught the eye of studios and casting directors. According to Deadline Humble, she’s also been noticed by Warren Beatty who has hired her as the leading lady in his untitled Howard Hughes biopic. She’ll be playing a young woman who becomes involved with Hughes’s driver before “falling in love with Hughes.” It’s unclear how fabricated that element is, as Hughes was married to actress Jean Peters for much of his later life, and although the man was linked to a baker’s dozen of Hollywood’s most shining stars, it’s curious that the story here would focus on an unknown girl falling for the mentally troubled icon in his twilight hours. This is the next, first big step in Jones’s ascension, and it’s great to see her choosing another prestigious role. She’s without a doubt a stunning young talent, and there will be a lot more from her to enjoy in the future. Joining her and Beatty (who stars as Hughes) might also be Annette Bening, Jack Nicholson, Owen Wilson and Alec Baldwin. The search for Hughes’s driver also continues, and the names floating around, according to Deadline, are Justin Timberlake and Alden Ehrenreich. We’ll most likely be hearing some confirmations soon as the movie sets to shoot next year. As if we can all wait that long to see Jones […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It is not a sentient being sent to Earth to bring you nightly doses of absolute and unquestionable brilliance. It is not the wittiest chap at the tea party. It is not an ad-free experience. It is, however, a nightly gathering of entertainment news and views that works very hard to win your affection. Except for last night, when its usually diligent author felt pain so bold that it had him contemplating watching Glitter again… Breaking tonight is the news that Seth Gordon, director of such films as The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters and Four Christmases, is now attached to direct a remake of the 1983 film WarGames. This news will undoubtedly be met with mixed reactions, as their is a delicate balance between people’s hatred for remakes and their enjoyment of the works of Seth Gordon. Which will win out? More at 11…

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What is Movie News After Dark? It doesn’t even know anymore… Megan Fox and John C. Reilly are tonight’s lead story. The choice of lead image was bound to be a sexy one. And as you can see, I believe I’ve made the right choice. He’s almost too sexy. Anyway, he’ll be starring alongside the outcast Transformers actress in Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator. No word on what role either will play in the story of a Middle Eastern dictator who ends up in the U.S., where no one cares who he is.

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Junkfood Cinema

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; all your candy are belong to us. How many words do I really need expend on this introduction? If you’re a frequent reader of the column, who hasn’t managed to blow himself up building a working replica of Bill & Ted’s phone booth, you are already aware of my affinity for terrible movies and you have wasted more time than you dare admit reading this insufferable column. For those of you who haplessly wandered in hoping to find the nutritional content of the KFC Double-Down or creative Junior Mint recipes, my condolences. But now that you’re here, you should know that the JFC system is threefold. First, I point out the film’s numerous faults; heckling it from the cyberspace balcony like Statler and Waldorf. But then, on a dime, I switch it up and sing the film’s inexplicable praises like a banjo-wielding frog expounding on the merits of rainbows. Finally I will pair the film with an appropriate snack food item upon which you can feverishly chow down like a furry blue monster well on his way to crippling obesity. This week’s delicacy (which is likely to be brought to you by the words cease & desist): Dick Tracy

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Have you ever sat at coffee shop, minding your own business and munching on a tasty croissant, when pleasantly and unexpectedly a handsome man or beautiful lady sits down across from you? If life were a movie, one of you would drop something, reach to pick it up at the same time, and charmingly knock heads. Engaging conversation would ensue, you’d fall madly in love, music would swell, and credits would roll like the tears down your movie-self’s cheek. Le sigh and scene. But like movies are oft to show, so much sexual passion can just as easily bring out the evil in characters as it does the good. Movie love can be so intense it borders on destructive, and a budding couple’s sanity can unravel before the audience’s eyes as the story reaches its climax. Sex unites the couple and keeps them together longer than it rationally should, until both partners become weaved so heavily in a tangle of sex-caused insanity neither can see where reality and delusion lie.

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Culture Warrior

One odd thing about being a child of the 80s is that you learn movie history backwards. In watching anything from Animaniacs to Pulp Fiction, I became acquainted with references and homages to classical Hollywood cinema long before I ever watched the movies referenced or the moments paid homage to. Thus, my knowledge of cinema’s past was framed through cinema’s present: I learned about old movies because of what new movies did with them. One of the most formidable moments of this backwards cinematic education occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s when major event kids’ movies became especially preoccupied with 40s film noir in movies like Robert Zemeckis’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988) or Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy (1990). These movies embodied a world of double crosses, femme fatales, and cynical detectives without requiring their viewers, young or old, to have seen any of the films these genre tropes are indebted to. Thus, because of my exposure to new tweaks on an old form, conventions became familiar to me long before I could name the films from which such conventions originated. But one movie was exceptionally influential in formulating a distinct impression of film noir in my childhood imagination, and that movie was – oddly enough – Home Alone (1990).

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published: 04.17.2014
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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.16.2014
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