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Showing posts from 2013

Review: "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" (****)

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Ben Stiller stars in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” The not-so-secretly talented Ben Stiller is at it again. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” a remarkable tale about an average man, is the second film to adapt James Thurber’s 1939  short story  by the same name. Samuel Goldwyn, Jr., whose father produced the original in 1947, oversaw sixteen years of developmental changes before finally taking root in a partnership with 20 th Century Fox. Stiller, who directed “Zoolander” (2001) and “Tropic Thunder” (2008), landed both the lead role and director’s honor. Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) is an affable, unassuming career photojournalist at Life magazine. When the magazine announces that the future of Life is Life Online, an internet-only format that threatens a number of tenured values and employees, Walter, who processes the negatives of any photo Life publishes, begins to worry. When he realizes he can’t find the negative planned for the final issue’s cover photo, he starts to panic. Hi

The Goods: 16 Breakouts from 2013 in Film

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2013 happened to be a very good year for film. Thankfully, whether or not a particular year has been graced with good titles usually doesn’t impact the number of stars that are born. This year, we’ve seen a number of filmmakers make striking debuts that announce grand new talents in screenwriting and directing. Some actors and actresses made their move behind the camera—with wonderful results. Plenty of this year’s new stars are fresh-faced young actors and actresses in their first major film roles. Sometimes, though, you can be in your eighties and just begin making waves in the industry. From new filmmakers like Ryan Coogler and Destin Cretton to actors like Chadwick Boseman and Oscar Isaac and actresses such as Brie Larson, Lupita Nyong’o and June Squibb—there are plenty of breakouts worthy of celebration this year. We’ve compiled 16 of this year’s new stand-outs. 16. ELIZABETH DEBICKI, “The Great Gatsby” However you may feel about Baz Luhrmann’s noisy, ostentatious adaptation of F.

Macon Film Festival announces 2014 competition lineup for Animation, Documentary categories

The Macon Film Festival is getting an early start on its 9th edition. Today, the festival announced its competition lineup in the Documentary Feature, Documentary Short and Animation categories. The festival takes place from February 27th through March 2nd. While the selections in these categories showcase films from the USA, Iceland, the Netherlands and Russia, the festival will also feature selections from France, India, Italy, Lebanon, Sweden and the United Kingdom. More films will be announced in the coming weeks, including the competition lineups for the Narrative Feature, Narrative Short, Student Short, Music Documentary and Music Video categories. Each night of the Macon Film Festival features a special screening, often including a special guest and/or anniversary presentation of a beloved film. Wonderful music documentary “Muscle Shoals” has already been announced as the first special screening for the 2014 festival. Check out the first films announced after the jump. More info

A bounty of Oscar bait in Savannah— "The Book Thief" (***½), "Philomena" (****), "The Invisible Woman" (****)

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Geoffrey Rush and Sophie Nélisse star in “The Book Thief” “The Book Thief,” director Brian Percival’s first film as a director since his success with television’s “Downton Abbey,” carries the same crisp and clean aplomb as his overwhelmingly successful TV series. Anchored by a tremendous young talent in Sophie Nélisse, “The Book Thief” is based on a novel by Markus Zusak about a young girl and her foster parents in World War II Germany as they hide a Jewish friend in their home. Although some of the film’s most beautiful moments occur while the film’s mysterious narrator—Death—reveals his perspective, there is a disconnect between the film’s overall sweet tone and the narration. While not completely saccharine, there isn’t much of an edge to be found for a story of such high risk and devastation, making the film feel more like an adaptation of a young adult novel at times. Production values are exceptional, as are performances from Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Ben Schnetzer and Nico Li

Funded! Atlanta Film Festival raises nearly $18,000 in #Artists2ATL campaign

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Atlanta Film Festival director Christopher Escobar interviews Ray McKinnon and the cast of “Rectify” at the 2013 festival. The month-long campaign to raise $13,000 to bring more filmmakers to Atlanta for the 2014 Atlanta Film Festival has ended with great success. Passing the $13,000 goal on day 22, the festival secured the funds needed to more than triple its filmmaker travel budget. Kickstarter campaigns only work if you raise at least 100% of your set goal. After 360 backers contributed a total of $17,909, the festival will now be able to use that money to pay for the filmmakers behind its 2014 lineup to attend the festival, enriching the experience for everyone involved. The festival issued this statement on the campaign page: Our profound thanks to the more than 300 backers who helped us raise meet and exceed our goal.  Thanks to you, we’ll be able to bring more filmmakers to the festival in the Spring of 2014 to share the experience with you.   If you missed the funding deadline

Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore reunite in Georgia-filmed "Blended" trailer

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Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler spent much of last summer filming “Blended” near Lake Lanier. It was probably hard to keep track of all the high-profile productions filming throughout Metro Atlanta this past summer. “Anchorman: The Legend Continues” is released this week, but many Georgia-lensed films that were in production earlier this year won’t hit cinemas until later into 2014. “The Good Lie,” “Kill the Messenger,” “Merry Friggin’ Christmas,” Million Dollar Arm” and “Solace” are just a few of the films that will showcase Georgia at the multiplex next year. Two films in particular, “Blended” and “Endless Love,” make use of Georgia’s largest lake, Lake Lanier. Using rented houses, the Lake Lanier Islands Resort, the Mall of Georgia and other spots around Buford and Flowery Branch, “Blended” reunites frequent co-stars Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore as a man and woman who—after a failed first date—wind up on a shared family vacation in Africa. The film also shot in South Africa, but

Atlanta Jewish Film Festival poised to become the world's largest

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The Southeast’s largest film festival is getting ready to blanket the Metro Atlanta area with films for 23 days. Last year’s opening night event at the Cobb Energy Centre While opening night doesn’t take place until well over a month from now, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival has released their 2014 lineup, kicking off the countdown for when tickets for the mega-fest go on sale. Last year—with no authority whatsoever—I declared the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival to be larger than the previous world’s largest (and oldest) Jewish film fest, the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. Both organizations have claimed 30,000+ in attendance for two years running, but the AJFF has maintained a steady growth rate for years. Officially, the AJFF still claims to be the second largest in the world, albeit the largest film festival of any nature in the Southeastern United States. Sure to put the numbers well over the 30,000 mark this year, the AJFF is expanding its programming by 25%—a move that could e

Review: "Dallas Buyers Club" (****)

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Matthew McConaughey is Ron Woodroof in “Dallas Buyers Club” “Dallas Buyers Club” is decking the halls with boughs of Oscar buzz. The 2014 Golden Globe nominations  paved the way, including Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor nods for Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, who star in Craig Borten’s first produced screenplay. Directed by Jean-Marc Valée (“The Young Victoria,” “Café de Flore”), “Dallas Buyers Club” tells the true story of Ron Woodroof, a Texan electrician and rodeo gambler who tests positive for HIV in 1985. When denial of his rapidly worsening condition becomes refusal to die on schedule, Ron seeks alternative treatment. At first dependent on illegally-acquired azidothymidine (AZT), an FDA-approved AIDS medication tested only on approved trial participants, Ron notices his health deteriorating. He resorts to Dr. Vass (Griffin Dunne), an American doctor practicing in Mexico, who divulges that AZT at its common dosage is actually harming recipients. He prescribes a combinat

Atlanta Film Festival seeks to bring more filmmakers to town through crowdfunding

As it inches closer to the big 4-0 (the 2014 festival will mark its 38th birthday), the Atlanta Film Festival is simultaneously expanding its reach and refining its brand. This year, a record 3,194 films from 103 countries  were submitted to the festival, creating an incredible opportunity for a rich and diverse event next March. As one of the Southeast’s premiere festival events, ATLFF aims to make its mark as a can’t-miss-opportunity for filmmakers. While a part of every organization’s budget is for filmmaker hospitality—travel expenses, accommodations, food, transportation, etc.—most festivals are simply too large and operating at too small a budget to provide compensation for most filmmakers to attend. Many are able to come and support their film on their own dime, but it is not always a guarantee. The Atlanta Film Festival hopes to triple the number of filmmakers it can bring into town for the 2014 festival, launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise $13,000 to help them do so . T

Georgia productions at the Savannah Film Festival: "The Spectacular Now" (****), "Last Vegas" (**), "The Sacrament" (***)

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In addition to a host of Georgia-lensed SCAD student work, this year’s Savannah Film Festival screened an assortment of Georgia productions. James Ponsoldt’s “The Spectacular Now,” both set and shot in Athens, already closed out the Atlanta Film Festival earlier this year and went on to a successful theatrical run over the summer, but Savannah hosted a special screening of the film with director Ponsoldt, writer Michael H. Weber and star Miles Teller (a frequent attendee and former Discovery Award recipient) in attendance for a Q&A. Jon Turteltaub’s “Last Vegas” served as one of the special gala presentation films and despite not being set anywhere near the Peach State, most of the movie was shot here. Horror film dynamo Ti West filmed his latest, “The Sacrament,” in the Savannah area during the duration of last year’s film festival, so it only made sense for him to come back to the Hostess City for a special premiere. Plenty of cast and crew members were on hand for the unveiling.

Macon Film Festival makes MovieMaker's 'Coolest Film Festivals in the World' list

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Congratulations to the Macon Film Festival for making  MovieMaker Magazine’s Top 25 list of ‘The Coolest Film Festivals in the World.’  The long-running magazine is well known for its annual list of the top film festivals worth the entry fee— which has included the Atlanta Film Festival, the Savannah Film Festival and the Rome International Film Festival in recent years . While that list is released each spring, this list was recently compiled by reader votes. An original list of 76 nominees was narrowed down to an final, unordered list of 25 festivals. Five other user voted lists were made for different categories—Documentary and Horror/Sci-Fi Festivals, Short Film and Comedy Festivals, Environmental/Social Cause and Women’s Film Festivals, LGBT and Ethnic/National Film Festivals and Experimental/Underground and Out of the Box Festivals. The Macon Film Festival will celebrate its 9th year of films, workshops, special guests and parties on February 27th through March 2nd. Check out www

Review: "Medora" (****)

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          Medora, Indiana isn’t small-town America. It’s what’s left of it. Home to fewer than 500 people, Medora is so far under the radar that a Google search for its name yields a wealth of knowledge about Medora, North Dakota. Rather, it did until Andrew Cohn and Davy Rothbart came along. “Medora,” the duo’s debut as co-directors, follows the Medora High School Hornets’ 2010-2011 basketball season.   The result is an often painful, always poignant glimpse at the struggle for victory in a community that’s forgotten what victory feels like. “Medora” begins in the team locker room post-defeat, where Coach Gilbert recounts the details of the boys’ unsurprising loss. According to the montage of previous years’ newspaper headlines, Medora High School had grown accustomed to winless season after winless season. Says one native, whose observation is corroborated by the team’s downtrodden expressions, “it’s hard to get rid of that losing mentality.” But Coach Gilbert, a title it seems no on

Atlanta's Homespun Series— Local docs to screen at The Plaza this Friday

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This Friday night, November 15th, the Homespun Series kicks off with its first ever screening event at The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta. Launched by “AKA Blondie” filmmakers Jon and Brantly Watts , Homespun is a documentary series spotlighting ‘local characters, resonating stories’ in and around Metro Atlanta. Atlanta’s film boom can be credited to the Georgia’s geographic diversity, ease of production resources and tax credits—but also the fact that Atlanta can easily be masked to double as wherever filmmakers need it to. In an effort to showcase Atlanta’s unique citizens and distinctive culture, Homespun will allow audiences to get closer to some of the city’s most compelling individuals and eccentric neighborhoods. As more films and filmmakers become involved in this series, more and more of Atlanta’s true character will be revealed. For this first screening, three films will be showcased; “Machine Gun Mary,” “Time” and “Golden Child.” Everything about these films is local and the filmm

Savannah review bundle: "How I Live Now" (***½), "About Time" (****), "East of Acadia" (**½)

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Saoirse Ronan stars in “How I Live Now” “How I Live Now”  is prolific filmmaker Kevin Macdonald’s latest film, adapted from a 2004 novel by Meg Rosoff and starring Saoirse Ronan in perhaps her most assertive performance yet. While young adult adaptations set in a post-apocalyptic world are dime-a-dozen these days, “How I Live Now” manages to set itself apart by not compromising edginess for a lower MPAA rating and a wider audience. At the start, Ronan’s Daisy seems nothing more than a cliched, rebellious teenager, but as the film progresses and the story takes increasingly more devastating turns, it becomes clear that she is the film’s greatest strength. The young actress maintains a firm grasp on her character, anchoring a film that—while not desperate—wouldn’t really know where it was going without as laser-focused a lead as Ronan provides. Visually, the film is not very uniform in terms of its pallet or composition, but successfully relays to the audience Daisy’s reactions and exper

"Anchorman: The Legend Continues" character posters released

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Paramount Pictures has released four new character themed posters for “Anchorman: The Legend Continues.” Featuring the franchise’s four main stars—Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carrell and David Koechner—the colorful one-sheets are, frankly, perfect for the film. But don’t let the landmarks and iconic imagery of New York City fool you, “Anchorman: The Legend Continues” was filmed almost entirely in Atlanta. Some necessary scenes were filmed in New York towards the end of shooting, but the film is most definitely a Georgia production. You might remember this spring when Ferrell, Rudd, Carrell, Koechner and co-stars such as Christina Applegate, James Marsden, Kristen Wiig, Harrison Ford and Meagan Good were all spotted around town for a few months . There was even a field trip to St. Simons Island for a few days of shooting and an already famous scene filmed in Downtown Atlanta’s Woodruff Park that featured dozens of cameos from the likes of Jim Carrey, Sasha Baron Cohen, Kirsten Dunst,

Savannah Director's Choice: "About Time"

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Domhnall Gleeson and Bill Nighy star in “About Time” Tonight’s mystery Director’s Choice screening at the Savannah Film Festival was truly something no one had guessed—Richard Curtis’ “About Time.” The film stars Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, Lydia Wilson, Lindsay Duncan and Tom Hollander. It’s as sweet as can be, but I sort of loved it. Look for a review to come soon!

Savannah Film Festival kicks off with Alexander Payne's "Nebraska" (***½)

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SCAD brought quite the party to Broughton Street for the opening night of the 16th annual Savannah Film Festival. Celebrating its Sweet Sixteen this year, Georgia’s oldest city hosts the second oldest film festival in the state—younger only than the 37-year-old Atlanta Film Festival. Right from the start, the Savannah Film Festival knew what type of event it wanted to be. SCAD’s illustrious 8-day event has built and maintained the type of reputation it often takes festivals decades to achieve, offering up a mix of fall prestige fare, strong independent filmmaking and a showcase of student work. Honoring star actors, producers, writers and directors every year raises the level of awareness and excitement around town.  Alexander Payne, Jeremy Irons, Natalie Dormer and Abigail Breslin are this year’s honorees. Terence Stamp was originally slated to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award but had to cancel due to filming commitments in Romania. This year’s Outstanding Achievement in Cinema Aw