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Preview: Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Movies

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'Before I Fall' explores Groundhog Day themes, for teens

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 18:36:38 UT

You don't know when, or where, or how it'll happen, but after it does, she wakes up again in her bed, sweaty and disoriented, to find that she has to live that same day over again. [...] again. [...] again. Director Ry Russo-Young's film, adapted from Lauren Oliver's novel of the same name, is more thriller than existential comedy, but the big themes remain similar. In "Before I Fall," Sam is a popular member of a group of beautiful but vicious girls (including Halston Sage, Medalion Rahimi and Cynthy Wu) who mercilessly taunt their frizzy-haired peer, talk endlessly about their own status in the school (as reflected by how many roses they get on "Cupid Day"), and selfie and party and tease as though this moment will never end. Love one day and hate the next, Russo-Young said. Open Road Films acquired the distribution rights to the film shortly after they finished the movie, making it one of the rare Sundance features that audiences will definitely be able to see.



Premiere of 'A Dog's Purpose' canceled amid treatment issue

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 23:48:39 UT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — This weekend's premiere of "A Dog's Purpose" has been canceled following the release of a video that appears to show a frightened dog being forced into churning water during production of the film. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals called the cancellation of the premiere appropriate after earlier calling for a boycott of the film.



Thelma Schoonmaker on sculpting 'Silence' and editing Powell

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 19:59:31 UT

The legendary editor is sitting in the Midtown Manhattan office where she cut Scorsese's latest, his deeply felt spiritual epic about Jesuit priests in feudal Japan. The struggle to form and shape "Silence" is still fresh for the 77-year-old three-time Oscar winner, probably the most famous editor in film. (On Jan. 27, the American Cinema Editors will present her with a lifetime achievement honor.) Questions still linger over the thousands of decisions that led to the final cut, one — like most — reluctantly relinquished rather than absolutely completed. "Silence," which opened nationwide Jan. 13, is her 20the Scorsese feature as editor. Since 1980's "Raging Bull," they've been inseparable: one of cinema's great duos. Scorsese taught the initially untrained Schoonmaker before they became mutual collaborators. He'd had some experiences where the editor did not want the director in the editing room. Schoonmaker speaks of editing like sculpture: countless massages that subtly shape a film and its actors' performances. Without knowing it, Michael taught Marty how to be a filmmaker and then Marty repaid that great gift by bringing him back to the world, which was a beautiful thing to watch.



How much are marathon bombing films getting in tax credits?

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 18:58:13 UT

BOSTON (AP) — Hollywood films about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings shot on location last year to bring the story to the silver screen, but not all the for-profit productions have been forthcoming about the taxpayer-funded benefits they're seeking or have already received for filming in Massachusetts. "Patriots Day," the $40 million film starring Mark Wahlberg that opened nationwide Jan. 13, sought state film tax credits, but production officials declined to provide more details when asked by The Associated Press. "[...] you are seeking tax credit information in a form different from or ahead of the time that the legislature has expressly determined it should be disclosed," Randall wrote. Massachusetts and other states included confidentiality provisions in their laws at the industry's request, said John Bails, executive vice president at Film Production Capital, a Shreveport, Louisiana-based film tax credit consulting firm. Producer Megan Williams said the credits helped offset production expenses, including filming of the April 2014 race — the first running of the marathon following the bombings that killed three people and injured hundreds more.



A year later, Sundance grapples with 'Birth of a Nation'

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 17:20:25 UT

No one foresaw the ultimate collapse of Nate Parker's "Birth of a Nation" after its stellar reception at the Sundance Film Festival last year, when perfect timing, immense hype and a vigorous bidding war resulted in a record-setting $17.5 million sale. [...] it remains a blemish that could affect how much distributors are willing to spend on a single film. The enthusiasm, abetted by the fact that it debuted right as Hollywood was grappling with a second year of "OscarsSoWhite," and the ambitious money-spending from new distributors like Amazon and Netflix helped bump the sale price up to a Sundance high of $17.5 million. Handicapped by Parker's personal life, and new reviews that seemed less enthusiastic than those born in the mountain air of Sundance, by the time the film actually hit theaters in October, its Oscar chances were slim and audience interest seemed even slimmer. "There's always the film or two that sells for what's perceived to be above market value at the Festival," said Arianna Bocco, the executive vice president of acquisitions and production for IFC Films, and an over two-decade Sundance vet. Sundance filmmakers, too, are inclined to take the case of "Birth of a Nation" for the anomaly that it is and know that every year, at every film festival, sale prices can fluctuate.



Paramount inks $1B film co-finance deal with 2 Chinese firms

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 06:11:25 UT

HONG KONG (AP) — Paramount Pictures said Friday it has inked a co-financing deal with two Chinese companies for the Hollywood studio's slate of movies over the next three years. Chinese investors have been expanding into entertainment companies overseas in a bid to boost the country's international cultural influence, also known as "soft power," as well as acquire expertise. Last year, Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group teamed up with Sony Pictures to make big-budget films while Steven Spielberg's Amblin Partners partnered with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group's media arm to co-produce films for global audiences.



Streaming giants play hero and villain in Oscar season

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 20:59:00 UT

Kenneth Lonergan's "Manchester by the Sea," which Amazon plunked down $10 million for at the Sundance Film Festival last year, is widely expected to be among the leading contenders at the Academy Awards. Netflix and Amazon are increasingly influencing the movie awards season, playing the role of both hero and villain in an industry where their entry into the movie business is welcomed and feared in equal measures. Though Netflix gave its 2015 Oscar horse, Cary Fukunaga's "Beasts of No Nation," a wide theatrical release, it has largely focused on acquiring films to debut on its streaming platform. Lonergan, the veteran New York playwright whose last film, "Margaret," became embroiled in lawsuits and acrimony before Fox Searchlight gave it a minuscule release, called his experience with Amazon "the most fancy treatment I've ever had." Though Netflix, like Amazon, doesn't make viewing statistics available, its films have likely been seen by far more people, around the world, than they would have been in a limited theatrical release — and their makers pocketed bigger checks. For a filmmaker like Demme (The Silence of the Lambs, ''Philadelphia), the loss of a theatrical release is painful. Director Craig Atkinson, whose police militarization documentary "Do Not Resist," spoke out about what he described as Netflix's strong-armed negotiation tactics. Under motion picture production head Ted Hope, Amazon Studios has gone after well-respected filmmakers and largely art house releases, including films by Jim Jarmusch (Paterson, ''Gimme Danger), Woody Allen (Cafe Society), Whit Stillman (Love & Friendship) and Park Chan-wook (The Handmaiden).



'An Inconvenient Sequel' kicks off climate-focused Sundance

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 20:03:55 UT

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — Ten years after the watershed environmental documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" debuted, climate change is as dire as ever and yet the solutions are right in front of us, say directors Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, whose film "An Inconvenient Sequel" kicks off the Sundance Film Festival on Thursday. The film, which follows former Vice President Al Gore on his continued quest to educate and inform the public and world leaders on climate change, is the first in a series of 14 environmentally focused documentaries scheduled to play at the annual film festival in their newly anointed "New Climate" section. The films include looks at coral ("Chasing Coral"), the Mexico City sewer system ("The Diver"), Greenland's ice sheet ("Melting Ice"), and the industry of big-game hunting ("Trophy"). While urgency looms in the New Climate section and documentaries on subjects like Syria and domestic police practices fill out the schedule, festival interest might rest elsewhere, according to Tatiana Siegel, a senior film writer for The Hollywood Reporter. Buzzy titles premiering over the two weeks include the Gulf War drama "The Yellow Birds," starring Jennifer Aniston and future Han Solo, Alden Ehrenreich; director Dee Rees' WWII-era racial drama "Mudbound" with Mary J. Blige and Carey Mulligan; and "The Incredible Jessica James" starring comedian Jessica Williams. "Step" director Amanda Lipitz, also a Broadway producer, had been making shorts about kids from her hometown of Baltimore who were the first in their family to go to college when she stumbled upon stepping, a style of dancing punctuated by hand claps and foot stomps popularized by black fraternities and sororities, through a group of girls she'd been documenting.



Stars of 'Hidden Figures' among SAG Awards presenters

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 11:05:58 UT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The nominated stars of "Moonlight," ''Hidden Figures," ''Manchester by the Sea" and "Captain Fantastic" will be among the presenters at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.



American Humane investigating treatment of dog in film

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 03:05:09 UT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The organization that ensures animal safety in film and television productions said Wednesday it is investigating whether a frightened dog was forced into churning water during the making of "A Dog's Purpose." The film's producer, Amblin Entertainment, and distributor, Universal Pictures, said in a joint statement that they are reviewing the footage, but they are confident that "great care and concern was shown" for the dog, a German Shepherd named Hercules.



Review: Fun performances aren't enough to save 'Split'

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 22:57:49 UT

[...] one of them likes to kidnap teenage girls, lock them in a basement and make them dance naked. Forgive me if I'm a little bored already, but not even McAvoy sporting a tight turtleneck and pleated midi skirt while affecting a posh accent as one of the personalities, Miss Patricia, is enough to really save this film. To be clear, McAvoy is delightfully weird playing the various iterations of Kevin, although it might ruin him as a romantic lead for anyone who revisits "Atonement" after seeing this. With raven black hair and pale, porcelain skin, and a haunted, far-off gaze, she looks like an emo Snow White who has seen some stuff. [...] Casey does have a disturbing backstory that we get a peek at through multiple flashbacks to one particularly poignant day in her childhood where her father teaches her big life lessons (and how to shoot a rifle) while deer hunting. Split," a Universal Pictures release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for "disturbing thematic content and behavior, violence and some language.



Mall of America to reopen movie theaters with gourmet food

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 21:12:03 UT

(AP) — The Mall of America plans to continue showing movies, but in a renovated space that offers oversized reclining chairs, gourmet food and wines and cocktails. The Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/2joDlN5 ) reported Wednesday that CMX, a subsidiary of Mexico City-based Cinemex, is building a 64,000-square-foot movie theater at the Minnesota mall, the largest indoor retail complex in the U.S. The new theaters will be on the fourth floor in the same space previously occupied by the mall-operated theaters that closed in December.



Octavia Spencer is named Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 18:31:50 UT

(AP) — Octavia Spencer, who won an Oscar and several other awards for best supporting actress in "The Help," was named Woman of the Year on Wednesday by Harvard University's Hasty Pudding Theatricals. "The Pudding is proud to honor an actress whose depth of talent has captivated audiences with her comedic wit and her graceful portrayals of the underrepresented," the student group said in a statement. Spencer is scheduled to be honored with a parade through the streets of Cambridge on Jan. 26, followed by a roast and the presentation of her pudding pot.



Review: Lovingly constructed 'Red Turtle' entertains slowly

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 17:32:52 UT

When was the last time an animated film actual lowered your pulse rate? In its typical Hollywood form, an animated feature is usually the cinematic equivalent of a sugar rush — a frantic barrage of colors and movement and jokes and sounds. A fable, beautifully drawn in calm, soothing colors, it doesn't even have dialogue, let alone a throbbing soundtrack. [...] he washes up on a tranquil island, inhabited seemingly only by a few friendly crabs on the beach. [...] we're also asked to contemplate our attitudes toward death — but now we're really getting ahead of ourselves. Especially now, with so much turbulence in the headlines, you could do worse than submit to 80 minutes of watching crabs crawl in the sand and feeling some cool ocean breezes — if you pay close enough attention, you can actually sense them wafting through the screen. The Red Turtle," a Sony Pictures Classics release, is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America "for some thematic elements and peril.



Indian court acquits actor Salman Khan of using illegal arms

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 14:12:48 UT

NEW DELHI (AP) — Top Bollywood star Salman Khan was acquitted by a court on Wednesday on a charge of using unlicensed weapons while hunting for rare blackbucks in a western India wildlife preserve 18 years ago. Apart from the illegal weapons case, police filed three poaching cases against Khan during the shooting of one of his films in Jodhpur in 1998. The judges found that prosecutors had failed to prove charges of culpable homicide, in which they accused Khan of driving while intoxicated in 2002 and running over five men sleeping on a sidewalk in Mumbai, killing one of them.