Director Jehane Noujaim and Producer Karim Amer Talk THE SQUARE, How the Film Came Together, and Documenting the Heroic Acts of Ordinary People

by     Posted 63 days ago

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The Square, directed by Jehane Noujaim and produced by Karim Amer, is a riveting documentary that immerses the audience in the intense emotional drama and inspiring story of revolution behind the headlines.  From the 2011 overthrow of a 30-year dictator, through military rule, and culminating with the forced military removal of the Muslim Brotherhood president in the summer of 2013, we follow a group of Egyptian activists armed with nothing more than cameras, social media, videos posted to YouTube, and a resolute determination to liberate their nation.  They battle leaders and regimes and risk their lives to build a brighter future.

In an exclusive interview, the Egyptian-American filmmakers spoke about the organic way the project came together, the decision to tell this story through the eyes of young activists, why it was important to document the heroic acts of ordinary people, how the events that transpired in Tahrir Square represent a magical moment in their country’s history and an opportunity to bring change to Egypt for generations to come, the powerful role of social media in telling their story, why this isn’t just a local problem but a global issue, their thoughts on the future of Egypt’s political landscape, and plans to work together again.  Check out the interview after the jump. 

Alfonso Cuaron Wins DGA Award for GRAVITY; Vince Gilligan and Steven Soderbergh Take TV Prizes

by     Posted 81 days ago

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The 2014 Directors Guild Awards were handed out earlier this evening, and Alfonso Cuaron took the top prize for Gravity, launching him (and the film) into frontrunner status heading into the Oscars.  The DGA winner is a very solid predictor of the eventual Oscar winner for the Best Director category, as the two have only failed to match up seven times in the past 65 years.  Moreover, the DGA winner’s film has won the Best Picture Oscar on all but 13 occasions.  We’ve known it’s going to be a very tight race since the PGA split its top award between Gravity and 12 Years a Slave, but this DGA win for Gravity puts it ever so slightly ahead.

Elsewhere at the DGA Awards, Steven Soderbergh took home the Miniseries/TV Movie prize for Behind the Candelabra and Vince Gilligan won TV Drama for the series finale of Breaking Bad, beating out the likes of David Fincher and Bryan Cranston.  Hit the jump to read the full list of winners.

2014 Oscar Nominations Announced; AMERICAN HUSTLE and GRAVITY Lead with 10 Nominations Each [Updated with Commentary]

by     Posted 91 days ago

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The nominations for the 86th Academy Awards have been announced. American Hustle and Gravity lead with 10 nominations each, while 12 Years a Slave isn’t too far behind with 9 nominations.  Looking over my predictions, there weren’t actually too many surprises this morning–at least no genuine “snubs” on the scale of Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow last year.  Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale made the Best Actor cut over Robert Redford and Tom HanksHer, Dallas Buyers Club, and Philomena all got Best Picture nominations over Saving Mr. Banks, and Sally Hawkins landed a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her work in Blue Jasmine, seemingly taking Oprah Winfrey‘s spot from Lee Daniels’ The Butler.  Also, the Academy apparently did not take a liking to Saving Mr. Banks, as the film missed out on a Best Picture nomination and a Best Actress nomination for Emma Thompson.

Hit the jump to take a look at the full nominations list.  The 86th Oscars will be broadcast March 2nd on ABC. [Update: I've added my commentary on some of the categories after the jump.]

Egyptian Protest Movement Documentary THE SQUARE to Premiere on Netflix January 17th

by     Posted 105 days ago

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Netflix has announced a premiere date for the well-received documentary The Square.  Directed by Jehane Noujaim (Control Room), the film chronicles the Tahrir Square protest movement in Egypt from the overthrow of military leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011 to the ousting of Mohammed Morsi in 2013.  The pic appears to be a gripping look at the movement from the frontlines, capturing the immediacy and intensity from all angles.  The Square picked up the Documentary People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, and it will now be available for all to see when it premieres on Netflix January 17th at 12:01 am PT.

For a better idea of what to expect, watch the trailer for The Square after the jump.

National Board of Review Names HER Best Film of the Year; GRAVITY, PRISONERS, and WOLF OF WALL STREET Land in Top 10

by     Posted 134 days ago

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The critics awards are off and running after the New York Film Critics Circle announced its picks for the best of the year yesterday, and today the National Board of Review has named Her the best picture of 2013.  Spike Jonze was also named Best Director for the film, while the acting honors went to Bruce Dern (Nebraska), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks), Will Forte (Nebraska), and Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station).  Always an eclectic list, the NBR’s Top 10 includes The Wolf of Wall Street, Gravity, Lone Survivor, and Prisoners.  Wholly absent from the Top 10 is the NYFCC’s pick for Best Film, American Hustle.

The NBR winner for Best Picture has failed to match up with Oscar since 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire, as last year’s award went to Zero Dark Thirty, but for the past 13 years every NBR winner has landed a Best Picture nomination, so this bodes well for Her‘s Oscar prospects.  Read the full list of NBR winners after the jump.

Best Documentary Shortlist Announced; Includes THE ACT OF KILLING, STORIES WE TELL, and 20 FEET FROM STARDOM

by     Posted 135 days ago

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The Academy’s rules for Best Documentary are so arbitrary and asinine that I always hold my breath when it comes to their shortlist.  A list of final nominees is frustrating in any category, but it’s infuriating when a good film doesn’t even get a chance to compete.  Thankfully, there are plenty of good choices among this year’s shortlist.  The films eligible for a Best Documentary Oscar nomination include The Act of Killing (I’d be ballistic if this wasn’t in the running; my review), Cutie and the Boxer, God Loves Uganda, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, Stories We Tell (my review, although the movie didn’t hold up as well on a repeat viewing), and 20 Feet From Stardom (my review).  If you have HBO GO, you can check out Pussy Riot along with other shortlisted docs The Crash Reel, First Cousin Once Removed, and Life According to Sam.  As far as snubs go, I wish Casting By was in the running, but considering that it directly criticizes the Academy for not having an award for casting directors, I’m not surprised by its exclusion.

Hit the jump for the full shortlist.  Nominations for the 86th Academy Awards will be announced on January 16th.

12 YEARS A SLAVE and NEBRASKA Top 2014 Independent Spirit Awards Nominations

by     Posted 142 days ago

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The 2014 Independent Spirit Awards nominations have been announced, and director Steve McQueen’s excellent drama 12 Years a Slave tops the nominees with seven nods, including Best Feature, Best Director, and Best Actor.  Nebraska is not far behind with six nominations, and the Robert Redford drama All Is Lost also did well with four nods.  The much-beloved Short Term 12 failed to land a Best Feature nomination, but Primer director Shane Carruth’s twisty second feature Upstream Color landed nods for Best Director and Best Editing.  The Best Actor category is a strong mirror of the very tight Oscar race in the same category, and the wonderful Shailene Woodley and Brie Larson nabbed Best Actress nominations for The Spectacular Now and Short Term 12, respectively.

Hit the jump for the full list of nominations and additional commentary.  The Independent Spirit Awards will be hosted on March 1, 2014.

TIFF 2013 Adds BASTARDS, METALLICA THROUGH THE NEVER, Preview of Spike Jonze’s HER, and More

by     Posted 240 days ago

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The 2013 Toronto International Film Festival has made the final touches on its line-up, and made some nice additions.  For the first time, TIFF will have movies in IMAX.  The films that will be going big are Gravity, Man of Tai Chi, Metallica Through the Never, and The Wizard of Oz.  All of these movies except Man of Tai Chi will also be in 3D.  Other additions include Claire DenisBastards, a conversation with Spike Jonze and a preview of his new film Her (the full film is scheduled to debut as the closer at the New York Film Festival), Ron Howard‘s Jay-Z documentary Made in America, and more.

Hit the jump for the new additions.  The 2013 Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 5 – 15th.

Full New York Film Festival Lineup Includes INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, NEBRASKA, THE IMMIGRANT, and More

by     Posted 241 days ago

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Each year, the fall film festival season is where studios present their awards fare and kick off months of rigorous campaigning in hopes of Oscar glory.  We recently examined this year’s contenders in the inaugural installment of our new column Oscar Beat, and at the time it appeared that the Toronto International Film Festival was poised to once again be the heavy hitter.  However, the 2013 New York Film Festival has now announced its full lineup, and it definitely gives TIFF a run for its money.

In addition to previously announced films Captain Phillips, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and Her, NYFF will play host to screenings of Joel and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis, Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, James Gray’s The Immigrant, J.C. Chandor’s All Is Lost, Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises, and plenty more.  Hit the jump to check out the full lineup.  The 2013 New York Film Festival runs from September 27th – October 13th.

FRUITVALE Wins 2013 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award

by     Posted 1 year, 80 days ago

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Ryan Coogler‘s Fruitvale made audiences at this year’s Sundance Film Festival weep with the true story of Oscar Grant, who was murdered by BART Station police in 2009.  At last night’s awards ceremony, Coogler’s debut feature was awarded with both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award, which made it the first film to win in both categories since 2009′s Precious.  The Weinstein Company picked up the movie for $2 million after a heated bidding war, and I would expect a release sometime later this year.  Click here for my review.

Other winners included This Is Martin Bonner for “Best of NEXT” (voters must have connected with a movie where nothing happens), best screenwriting for Lake Bell for In a World… (click here for my review), and Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley for their tremendous performances in The Spectacular Now.  Hit the jump for the full list of winners.

Director Nash Edgerton and Joel Edgerton Interview THE SQUARE

by     Posted 4 years, 8 days ago

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On the heels of multiple successful festival runs for their short films, Australian stuntman-turned-director Nash Edgerton and his brother Joel (who co-wrote and stars in the film) finally ventured into feature filmmaking with The Square, a stylish and twist-filled film noir about an adulterous couple whose scheming leads to arson, blackmail and murder. Escaping the monotony of a loveless marriage, Raymond (David Roberts) becomes entangled in an affair with the beautiful and troubled Carla (Claire van der Boom) but Ray’s moral limits are tested when Carla presents him with the proceeds of her controlling husband’s latest crime.

We sat down this week with Nash and Joel at a round table interview for The Square. The brothers talked to us about why they used their 2007 short, The Spider, to introduce their new feature film, how they work together creatively, and why they chose to avoid the stylized staginess of classic film noir. They also discussed their upcoming projects including Joel’s lead role in Universal’s prequel to the horror classic, The Thing, which is currently in production.

Joel Edgerton on THE THING Prequel; Plus Nash Edgerton on HESHER and Future Projects

by     Posted 4 years, 12 days ago

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We sat down with Nash and Joel Edgerton today at a roundtable interview for their new movie, The Square, a stylish twist-filled film noir which centers on an adulterous couple whose scheming leads to arson, blackmail and murder. While we’ll have the full transcript online soon, with Joel Edgerton starring in the prequel to the John Carpenter classic, The Thing (which is being directed by Matthijs van Heijningen), we got an update on that project as well as what else the brothers are doing.  Hit the jump for what they had to say:

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