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Showing posts from December, 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