On the Scene || ||

TRIBECA: 'The King Of Comedy' Q&A Reveals Sandra Bernhard & Jerry Lewis Still Irk Each Other

The website for the Tribeca Film Festival has finally put up video from the Q&A session that followed its closing-night presentation of The King of Comedy, but, alas, it's just an excerpt.  I was hoping that the discussion — which included the film's director Martin Scorsese and its stars, Robert De Niro, venerable comedian and filmmaker Jerry Lewis and (briefly, via pre-taped video) Sandra Bernhard — would run in its entirety, because, even after 30 years, the creative tensions that contributed to the film's greatness were still evident.  more »

On the Scene || ||

EARLY REACTION: 'Iron Man 3' − The Mandarin Is Marvel Studios' Most Daring Super Villain Yet

Iron Man 3 screened in Times Square last night, and though it's practically impossible to talk about the Mandarin without spoilers, I've got to say that he is the most daring creation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far. As Ben Kingsley, who portrays the villain, said again and again and again in the trailers, "You will never see me coming," and that line resonates even more now that I've seen the movie. more »

On the Scene || ||

TRIBECA: Clint Eastwood Tells Darren Aronofsky It Would Be 'Great' To Be A 100 Year-Old Filmmaker

"I met you once for a handshake and I was terrified," Darren Aronofsky  told Clint Eastwood during their Tribeca Talks Directors Series discussion on Saturday. "I’m still a little terrified." more »

On the Scene || ||

TRIBECA: 'Before Midnight' − Richard Linklater Hints That A Fourth Film Could Happen

After Midnight, anyone?  The Richard Linklater-directed Before Midnight doesn't premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival until 6 pm. on Monday, but an hour before curtain time the filmmaker hinted that a fourth film in a sequence that began with Before Sunrise in 1995 and Before Sunset in 2004, was not out of the question.

Linklater joined the co-stars of the latest installment of his realistic romance,  Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, at the Tribeca Talks Directors series, and one of the final questions asked of the director was whether the third film was intended to tie up the romance between the American Jesse (Hawke) and the French Céline (Delpy)  18 years after they met on a train traveling to Vienna.

In the third film, Jesse and Celine are not just together they have two daughters in tow as they vacation and bicker in romantic Greece.  Watch the trailer and then I'll get to Linklater's response:

Ode to a Grecian Yearn

Linklater answered the festival goer's question by responding that Before Midnight was about capturing "that moment" in Céline and Jesse's lives. "It wasn't a summation. It's definitely not a final vibe," he said, before adding his own twist on a spoiler: "They're both still alive at the end of the movie...There might be another one. Who knows?"  But, he concluded that he and his cast didn't have to think about it for at least another five years or so.

This could be good news for fans of the film series, which has a die-hard following thanks to its warts-and-all approach to romance and relationships. If the film is as good as the early buzz indicates, the sequel could be inevitable and not take nine years to come out.  Oddly enough, although a nine-year time span separates the first and second and then the second and third movies, Linklater told festival goers that Before Midnight was scheduled to shoot this coming summer but production was moved up when the three collaborators realized that they each had openings in their schedules last summer.  The symmetrical nine-year space between the movies "was kind of a coincidence," Linklater said.

WATCH: 'Before Midnight' Trailer − Ethan Hawke Calls Julie Delpy The 'Mayor Of Crazy Town'

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On the Scene || ||

'The Host' Premiere In NYC: VIPs Reveal Their Favorite Celeb Parasites (Brad! Angelina! Tony Danza?)

The central conflict of Stephenie Meyer's The Host stems not from vampires and werewolves, but something more intangible yet equally eerie. Depicted in the Andrew Niccol-directed film as a glowing organism of sorts, these parasitic alien "Souls," as they are called, gain access to humans through an incision made at the back of the victim's neck, where they override their host's human circuitry.

At least that's what's supposed to happen. In The Host, Melanie, played by Saoirse Ronan, does not relinquish control to her invader and eventually learns to coexist with her. Given this premise, Movieline thought that Cinema Society's screening of the movie, and the party that followed at Jimmy at The James Hotel in Tribeca, were good places to ask a single question of the VIPs and swells who attended: If your body was inhabited by a parasitic host, which celebrity would you want it to be and why?

There are some real provocative answers here, and if you want a really racy one, head straight for actress/model Meki Saldana's response:

Diane Kruger, actress, The Host: Michael Jackson. He's the coolest. He's my favorite singer. I cried when he died

Stephenie Meyer, author, The Host: If it's my body that's invaded, then I don’t get a choice. But, if I'm the invader, and I get to pick the body? I guess maybe Beyonce. I'd get the talent. I'd have the voice. She can do all that cool stuff. I could dance if I were her. My bones are not connected right; I can't do those moves. And I can't sing.

Saoirse Ronan, actress, The Host: A celebrity? I would want it to be…someone like Bill Murray or Jack Nicholson. They're fun and interesting and they've been around a long time. And maybe I could get some of their memories from all the things that they’ve done over the years.

Max Irons, actor, The Host: If my body was invaded? Stephen Hawking. If I said Jay-Z or something, he'd be in my body and he’d look in the mirror and go, What the fuck? Whereas, Stephen Hawking — he might be a little bit grateful. Just a little bit. We trade: I get his magnificent brain and he gets my body.

Jake Abel, actor, The Host: Somebody's coming in my body? I would say David Bowie, so I can sing and dance on stage.

Boyd Holbrook, actor, The Host: Larry Bird. Fantastic ball player. He'd be in my body. Final answer.

Lee Hardee, actor, The Host: Stephen Colbert! He's hilarious. The whole day would be entertaining. Everything you did, everything you said would be awesome.

Raeden Greer, actress, The Host: I think if I would have someone in my body, I think it would have to be…this is really hard. Maybe a guy. So, I could just, you know, see what it's like to think like a guy. I’ll go with Woody Allen.

Gabourey Sidibe, actress: You know what? I'm learning something about myself, because the first name that came to mind was Tony Danza. And I don’t know why. For some reason I see him tap dancing in there. What did I get into?!

Dylan McDermott, actor: My favorite celebrity of all time, Barbara Eden [from] I Dream of Jeannie.

Jason Wu, fashion designer: I want to be Diane Kruger. She's so glamorous. She's one of those girls I just love hanging out with. Amazing inside and out.

Tatiana Maslany, actress: Nicki Minaj. She’s amazing. I would love to have the guts that she has and her "whatever" [attitude].

Ve Neill, academy award winning makeup artist and reality TV judge: Would it have to be a female? Let's say Johnny Depp. I've worked with Johnny off and on for many years since I did Edward Scissorhands with him. He's fabulous and I adore him.

Meki Saldana, actress and model: Either Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie or both. I want both of them inside me. Whoa, whoa. Hold on. Let me back up, let me back up. Oh my god, I just said something I shouldn't have said. No, no, I just think that they’re very strong personalities, but at the same time very humble. I would definitely want something that they have inside me. Still wrong.

Holly Kiser, Make Me a Supermodel: Joaquin Phoenix, because he's a crazy-ass motherfucker, or Robert Downey Jr. [They] have all these, like, demons inside of them, and they’re just trying to work with that as actors.

 Nell Alk is an arts and entertainment writer and reporter based in New York City. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Manhattan Magazine, Z!NK Magazine and on InterviewMagazine.com, PaperMag.com and RollingStone.com, among others. Learn more about her here.

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On the Scene || ||

WATCH: 'White House Down' Sneak Peek − Roland Emmerich Really Likes His Air Jordans Scene

Roland Emmerich likes the Air Jordans scene in White House Down.  As you may have heard, Emmerich and the leading men of his movie, Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum, gave moviegoers in New York and London a sneak peek of about eight minutes of footage from their Washington-under-siege movie on Tuesday, and, at the risk of sounding like Chance the Gardener,  I had the unexpected opportunity of watching the director watch his handiwork from the audience.  more »

On the Scene || ||

'Dirty Wars' Exposes America's Expanding Covert Warfare Strategy (And Our Lazy Media Culture)

If, like me, you file blog posts from a climate-controlled office in a well-governed, comfort-obsessed city, then the kind of war-zone reporting that Nation correspondent Jeremy Scahill does is hard to fathom and more than a little terrifying. So it was fascinating to hear Scahill tell the audience at a private screening room what unsettles him: the rapid-fire prattling that takes place on the 24-hour cable networks. more »

On the Scene || ||

Train In Vain Spotting: Danny Boyle Picks His Favorite Clash Albums − And Disses Phish

Danny Boyle is a big Clash fan. The Slumdog Millionaire director came to New York Tuesday night to talk about the way he uses music in his films — including his latest, Trance — and, in the process, revealed his love of the late, lamented British punk band.   more »

On the Scene || ||

'Beautiful Creatures' NYC Premiere: Twi-Hard With A Vengeance?

As Lena, the spell-casting heroine of Beautiful Creatures, Alice Englert makes it snow in South Carolina, but she was powerless to stop the weather from stranding her in Baltimore for Cinema Society's New York premiere of the movie. Fortunately, her co-stars Viola Davis and Emmy Rossum were on hand to introduce the movie to a VIP crowd of New Yorkers that, judging from the discussion at the post-premiere party at Cole's Greenwich Village restaurant, came away impressed by the film's performances and writing.  more »

On the Scene || ||

Steven Soder-burnt: Retiring Director Says He Used His 'Last Good Idea' While Making 'Side Effects'

As Steven Soderbergh said at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's preview screening of Side Effects on Wednesday, "There’s Movie A and there’s Movie B and there’s Movie C."  The director was making the apt point that Side Effects could have been a heavy-handed movie about a) Big Pharma or b) insider trading, two of the film's main motifs. But Soderbergh chose c), a much subtler and entertaining third path and, judging from the Manhattan audience's enthusiastic reaction to the picture, his instincts did not fail him.   more »

On the Scene || ||

SUNDANCE: Rick Springfield's Foo-Tastic Jam With Dave Grohl Tops Epic 'Sound City' Players Concert

Seeing Dave Grohl and his Foo Fighters play searing rock 'n' roll with onetime teen idol Rick Springfield wasn't exactly on my bucket list prior to Friday night's epic Sound City Players concert, but I will die a happier man now that I've witnessed such an unexpected — and unexpectedly thrilling — team up. more »

On the Scene || ||

Gus Van Sant On 'Promised Land' & His Desire 'To Always Work' With Matt Damon

Promised Land is not the first nor even second collaboration between filmmaker Gus Van Sant and actor Matt Damon. Van Sant helped usher in the age of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck with their Oscar-winner Good Will Hunting back in 1997 and Damon and Ben's younger brother, Casey Affleck worked with Van Sant in Gerry. Fast forward nearly a decade and a script Damon had been collaborating on with John Krasinski from a story by Dave Eggers set in a small town needed a director. Damon, who had originally planned to direct the feature, realized he could not because of his packed schedule, so he reached out to his old friend Gus Van Sant and the result, which will head to theaters later this month, has caught the wind of Oscar chatterers.

Van Sant discussed his latest pic and why he "always wants to work with Matt" during a NYC screening of Promised Land.

"The genealogy of this is that John Krasinski was observing a mining operation in Alaska and spoke to Eggers later about writing a screenplay about installing wind power," Van Sant said at the post-Promised Land screening. "Matt Damon was going to direct [Promised Land] himself but then decided he didn't have time. They thought the project might go away, but then he contacted me - and a year ago, I said yes…"

Van Sant said Damon packed schedule had once kept him from playing in one of the director's most celebrated recent films. He had originally been slated to play Dan White in the 2008 Oscar-winner Milk, but again the actor's long queue of roles interfered.

But, Promised Land posed the next opportunity and the planets aligned. "When you work together you become friends and you wonder what else you can do together again and Matt and I became friends," said Van Sant. "I felt like we've had successful collaborations so the idea of doing something again was really interesting… Working with Matt on this film - I always wanted to work with him on every film."

Set in a fictitious Pennsylvania town that could represent much of small town America that has taken economic blows due to de-industrialization, agribusiness consolidation and the fallout from globalization generally, the story revolves around Steve Butler (Damon) a former farm boy turned big city business guy who teams up with Sue (Frances McDormand) to sell financial prosperity to the struggling town. The sales execs offer up easy cash in return for drilling rights on their property. Though economically hard pressed, the town, along with many others across Rust Belt states, sit atop a rich resource of natural gas once thought unreachable. But through the controversial advent of fracking (fracture drilling) the resource is recoverable though at what ecological cost is not fully known.

Steve and Sue think their stay in the town will be short, but a respected schoolteacher (Hal Holbrook) complicates what they think will be an easy sell when he questions the environmental risk. Steve meets a local school teacher (Rosemarie DeWitt) as they bunker down to sway in the town and things get really sticky when an environmentalist (John Krasinski) shows up and raises the stakes.

"When we arrived in Pittsburgh during [pre-production] the hydraulic manufacturing companies were moving in and just happened to be having a convention at the hotel we were staying at," Van Sant said. "So right away we had some sources we could go down and talk to. Also the people in contract talks were also the people we wanted to [scout] for locations."

The tracking process at the center of Promised Land's plot has been hailed by some economic prognosticators as a short cut to energy independence while even cutting carbon emissions. But it has been criticized by others for polluting underground water-tables and even causing earthquakes in areas where they're almost nearly unknown. Documentaries such as GasLand (2010) and others have depicted frightening scenarios of ecological degradation in the race for plentiful energy, which is not lost on Van Sant though he also sees the film as describing an even larger topic about corporations.

"By default its playing into discussions that are political having fracking as a topic," he said. "But I think the emotions of the story are about corporate maneuvering and inner corporate personnel maneuvering and it could relate to any corporation's maneuvering including mine or Focus Features. [The film] will obviously play into politics…"

[Promised Land opens December 28 via Focus Features, trailer below.]

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On the Scene || ||

Batman Cameo Rumors Bring Cheshire Smile To Christopher Nolan's Face At Hugh Jackman Salute

Hugh Jackman is way more emo than I thought.

But I'll get to that in a moment.  Among the filmmakers who turned up to praise the Les Misérables star at the Museum of the Moving Image's salute to Jackman in lower Manhattan on Tuesday night was The Dark Knight Rises director Christopher Nolan who grew an enormous Cheshire-Cat grin when I asked him if the Superman reboot he is producing, Man of Steel, would see a cameo by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, or any actor, as Batman, and if he had any objections to a cameo as a continuity move to tie the Supes movie to the 2015 Justice League movie. 

"I can't talk about that.  You know that," Nolan said cheerily. I didn't know that, actually, but now that I do, I feel compelled to point out that, despite the frustratingly inconclusive nature of his answer, it's not a 'No.'  Yes, JG-L's camp shot down the speculation as "entirely false" back in November, but if the idea had been ruled out, wouldn't Nolan be saying something along those lines, too, so that the fan boys could move on? You know how angry they can get when their casting hopes and dreams are suddenly deflated after being allowed to build for months.

The impish smile on Nolan's face as he issued that no comment also heightened my optimism, especially in the wake of the powerful Man of Steel trailer that's now burning up the Internet. Zack Snyder's take on Superman clearly aspires to have the kind of psychological heft and dark undertones that made The Dark Knight trilogy so satisfying. If the movie attains or even approaches those standards, a JG-L Batman cameo  would not dishonor Nolan's work and it would set the bar high for Justice League . No pressure, Warner Bros.

Nolan, Hathaway, Weisz Honor Jackman At Museum of The Moving Image Fete

Getting back to Jackman, who's on the fast-track to a Best Actor Oscar nomination, Nolan had much more to say about  the actor, who he directed along with Christian Bale in The Prestige.  The filmmaker told guests at the Museum of the Moving Image fete that though "ruthless" is not a word usually associated with Jackman, The Wolverine star is indeed "ruthless creatively" and a performer "driven by intense ambition."  The director also said that he looked forward to working with Jackman again, "probably not on a musical though," despite Jackman's urging him to direct one.

Also praising Jackman were his wife, actress Deborra-Lee Furness, his X-Men Origins: Wolverine co-star Liev Schreiber, director Mike Nichols, former Saturday Night Live cast member Rachel Dratch, who got big laughs mocking Jackman's Australian dialect and  two of his Les Misérables co-stars Anne Hathaway and Eddie Redmayne.

In an effusive, rambling speech, Hathaway called Jackman "deep as the sea."

Rachel Weisz offered up an even more intriguing description of the actor, calling him an "incredible cocktail of light and dark."  She also told the most revealing story of the night:  During the filming of The Fountain, which was directed by her ex-husband Darren Aronofsky, Weisz said that Jackman gave himself so completely to a scene in which his character realizes he's going to die that "he sobbed for about half an hour after the cameras stopped" while Weisz comforted him.  "He'd gone to the deepest, darkest place a person can go," she said. "And he wasn't faking it."

Jackman kept his speech much lighter saying that his Christmas gift wish list was a simple one.   All he wanted, he said, was "a movie with me starring in it to open on Christmas Day."

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Festivals || ||

Mimes, Monkeys, And The Ghost Of 'Fitzcarraldo': Inside Brazil's Amazonas Film Festival

There are no movie stars in Brazil. When a local comedy show asked people to list the most famous Brazilians, the top three were Gisele Bundchen, Pele, and Blanka — the green ogre from Street Fighter 2 who got his powers from the bite of an Amazonian electric eel. So far in 2012, not a single Brazilian-made movie has cracked the top ten in the country's own box office — in fact, to find a domestic hit, you have to go all the way down to the romantic comedy E Ai...Comeu?, which to date has made about half of as many reals as Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. [Ed. correction: The production Até que a Sorte nos Separe does rank as Brazil's #10 box office performer of 2012.] But Brazil does have soap stars. And at the Amazonas Film Festival in Manaus, Brazil — the heart of the Amazon — soap stars, dozens and dozens of them, all handsome and cheerful and thrilled by their own fame, were the main event.
more »

On the Scene || ||

Hugh Jackman Went A Little Wolverine On Tom Hooper To Land 'Les Miserables' Role

Hugh Jackman is known for his love of a good musical as much as he's known for his portrayal of the adamantium-reinforced wise-ass Wolverine. So, it's no surprise that he used a bit of the latter character's blunt persuasiveness to land the part of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables. more »