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Joan Kron’s TAKE MY NOSE…PLEASE! is Kinda Fonda Plastic Surgery

By Bill Scheft, Screenmancer Correspondent

SCREENMANCER presents 89-year-old journalist Joan Kron’s  first film, “TAKE MY NOSE….PLEASE!” This award-winning documentary about female comedians and plastic surgery begins its limited theatrical run in New York October 6 at the Village East and in Los Angeles October 13 at the Laemmle Santa Monica. She sat down for Screenmancer and talked with former Letterman writer Bill Scheft, the executive producer of the film, who also happens to be her cousin.

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SM: WHAT IS THE FILM YOU SET OUT TO MAKE, AND WHAT IS THE FILM THAT TURNED OUT?

JOAN: I set out to make a film about the importance of female comedians and their honesty about plastic surgery. But the honesty was so affecting, I never expected they would inspire so much empathy. Comedians always inspire laughter, rarely empathy. The fact that the audience became so attached to the two main characters (comedians Jackie Hoffman and Emily Askin) and that they would embody so many of the feelings that real women had about plastic surgery, that ended up being the charm of the movie.

That was the biggest surprise in making the film. The second biggest surprise was I never realized I was such a control freak.

SM: DID YOUR 40-YEAR CAREER AS A PRINT JOURNALIST HELP YOUR TECHNIQUE AS A DOCUMENTARIAN?

JOAN: I think that if you don’t try to entrap the people you’re interviewing, to try and get them to say what you want them to say, just let them talk, they open up and then the honesty takes over.

In many interviews, I felt I had asked a question and didn’t have to ask anything for ten minutes. Aaron Latham, a wonderful writer who I worked with at New York Magazine, once explained his interview technique to me. He said that when people stop talking, there’s a long pause, and they hate the silence so they need to fill it. That’s when the truth comes out. So, I had to keep my trap shut, which is extremely difficult for me. The days I did that were some of the best filming days.

SM: WHAT JOURNALISTIC ADVANTAGES DOES FILM HAVE OVER PRINT?

JOAN: It is a huge advantage for a filmmaker to be a writer. Even though you don’t have to write any of the connective tissue, you’re writing all the time. 100-word synopsis. A 200-word synopsis. A 1000-word synopsis. You have to articulate the film on paper. All this happens before you shoot. At the moment of filming, all you have to do is ask good questions.

SM: WHAT IS THE MOST PRACTICAL PIECE OF ADVICE YOU CAN GIVE TO SOMEONE MAKING THEIR FIRST FILM?

JOAN: Get a lawyer before you do anything else. Buy a dozen good pens and three large binders. Buy plastic covers for important papers. Get a graphic logo for your movie made early. When you’re shooting, make sure someone shoots you so you have some publicity shots. Get thank you notes made to send with checks. This is important, because many of the checks you’ll write could have and should have been larger.

SM: JANE FONDA GLARED AT MEGYN KELLY LAST WEEK BECAUSE SHE DARED MENTION HER PLASTIC SURGERY. WAS IT BECAUSE IT’S NOBODY’S BUSINESS OR BECAUSE IT WAS IN FRONT OF ROBERT REDFORD ?

JOAN: I think it definitely had something to do with Robert Redford. He has been outspoken against plastic surgery. And everyone wants his approval. Jane has been very courageous and outspoken about the work she’s had, even mentioning her doctor on her website. Years ago, she went out to promote a new movie and it ended up being a facelift press tour. But you want to talk about it when you want to talk about it, and maybe she didn’t feel it was appropriate. I will say, Robert Redford looked quite good. Not as rumpled as usual. Maybe it was just good make-up. Maybe it was something else. Perhaps she was being considerate of him.

Bill Scheft & Joan Kron at Miami Film Festival.

Bill Scheft & Joan Kron at Miami Film Festival.

SM: DID THE EXPERIENCE OF MAKING THE FILM CHANGE YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT THE SUBJECT MATTER, OR SOLIDIFY THEM?

JOAN: I don’t think it changed my feelings about plastic surgery. I had very strong feelings when I started. I had never been moved by anything I saw about plastic surgery. People were always looking at either the horror aspect or the extremes. They viewed it as something to make fun of.  I never felt anyone in the media had any empathy. They were just going for the bizarre.

I call it the “Ain’t that awful?” approach. “Ain’t that awful she wanted her lips so big?”

And I had my own experience with plastic surgery. The feeling of looking in the mirror afterward and seeing the magic. Seeing that I looked better.

People do not go through the pain, expense and risk without a benefit. It’s a $13 billion industry. People don’t endure the jokes and criticism without getting something for it. We don’t all look like Jocelyn Wildenstein. Why do people need a car? To get from her to there. Why do women need a facelift? Same answer. No one ever complimented anyone on looking worse.

SM: WAS THERE A DOCUMENTARY THAT INFLUENCED YOU FOR THE LOOK AND EXECUTION OF YOUR FILM?

JOAN: I was mostly influenced by the type of films I didn’t want to make. I didn’t want to make what I call a “seven-sofa documentary.” Seven talking heads on seven different couches. And what happened was people became so attached to Jackie and Emily they forgot it was documentary and began to think of it as a dramatic movie.

SM: WHAT WAS SURPRISING ABOUT AUDIENCE REACTION SO FAR?

JOAN: By the end, the audience is not only empathizing, it’s identifying. So many times, women come up to me after the film and give me the famous facelift gesture (pushing their cheeks up underneath their ears). “What do you think?” they say. I feel there is something magical about plastic surgery, and inside every one of us there is hope for magic.

SM: DID YOU WAIT TOO LONG TO MAKE YOUR FIRST FILM, OR JUST RIGHT?

I started five and a half years ago, and I was worried throughout the process that I wouldn’t live to see it finished. Now, I just want to make it to Friday. (October 6, when the film makes its theatrical debut in New York .)

BILL SCHEFT was a writer for David Letterman from 1991-2015, during which time he was nominated for 15 Emmys. He is the author of four novels and was a finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor. He and his late wife, comedian Adrianne Tolsch, were the Executive Producers of TAKE MY NOSE…PLEASE! The film is in her memory.

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ON THE NOSE, QUICK FILM FACTS & DETAILS

Joan Kron, veteran journalist, spent the past 25 years as contributing editor-at-large at Allure magazine where she covered the hot topics of cosmetic dermatology and plastic surgery. Prior to Allure, she held senior editorial positions at New York Magazine, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Avenue Magazine. Kron is known for her books and numerous articles and commentary on design, beauty and plastic surgery. And now at the age of 89 years old, she has embarked on a new career as a documentary filmmaker.

WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT

TAKE MY NOSE PLEASE is a seriously funny and wickedly subversive look at the role comedy has played in exposing the pressures on women to be attractive and society’s desire/shame relationship with plastic surgery. More than 15 million cosmetic procedures were performed in the US in 2014. And 90% of them on were done on women. Yet, for those who elect to tinker with Mother Nature, especially for high-profile women, plastic surgery is still a very dark secret. Funny women, though, are the exception. From Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers to Roseanne Barr and Kathy Griffin, comedians have been unashamed to talk about their perceived flaws, and the steps taken to remedy them. For these dames, cosmetic surgery isn’t vanity, it is affirmative action – compensation for the unfair distribution of youthfulness and beauty.

By admitting what their sisters in drama deny, comic performers speak to women who feel the same pressures, giving them permission to pursue change (or not to) while entertaining us.

TAKE MY NOSE PLEASE follows two comedians as they deliberate about going under the knife. Emily Askin, an up-and coming improv performer, has always wanted her nose refined. Jackie Hoffman, a seasoned headliner on Broadway and on TV, considers herself ugly and regrets not having the nose job offered in her teens. And maybe she’d like a face-lift, as well. As we follow their surprisingly emotional stories, we meet other who have taken the leap – or held out.

Putting it all in perspective are psychologists, sociologists, the medical community and cultural critics. And for comic relief and the profundity only comedians can supply. The film includes commentary from Roseanne Barr, Phyllis Diller, the late Joan Rivers,Judy Gold, Julie Halston, Lisa Lampanelli, Giulia Rozzi, Bill Scheft, and Adrianne Tolsch.

FESTIVALS AND AWARDS
Audience Award – Miami International Film Festival
Audience Award – Berkshire International Film Festival
Official Selection – Newport Beach International Film Festival; San Francisco Doc Fest; Arizona International Film Festival; Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival; San Luis Obispo Film Festival; Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival; and more

SOCIAL

See this debut film from someone 89-years-young. Joan Kron’s TAKE MY NOSE… PLEASE! Opens Oct. 6 in New York and Oct. 13 in LA.
#GoTuckYourself on Twitter or Face(lift)book & find website here!

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You Think Google Has Issues: Rachel Feldman Has Something To Say About Women & Directing, Okay?

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

One hot week in August leading up to a full moon, from Aug. 1 to Aug. 7, there was a kind of ground zero for the D-word from Hollywood to Silicon Valley. We’re talking hot-button issues inclusion, fairness, and equity under the heading of Diversity. If you haven’t heard what happened, a recap is in order. Gwood17Here’s a timeline: on July 31 “CBS This Morning” covers a new USC Annenberg study that cites “inclusion crisis” in Hollywood, based on Dr. Stacy Smith’s co-authored academic dissection of 900 films and 39,000 “characters” charted over a decade that prove demographics are not improving in re: diversity, including women behind the camera. Aug. 1 the fall-out at TCA (Television Critics Association) summer summit in Los Angeles is that, no surprise, CBS execs Kelly Kahl (CBS Ent. Pres.) and Thom Sherman (Sr. Exec. Programming) are mercilessly held to the fire by reporters on diversity stats and the fracas is covered by Los Angeles Times, even with a caveat at 6:45 pm that tellingly announces a quote correction as: “An earlier version of this post quoted Kelly Kahl as saying, “I don’t how to answer that.” It has been corrected to read “I’m not exactly even sure how to address that.””

A quote correction is a rare occurrence in journalism, and underscores that an ideological brush-fire has started. Nobody means harm, but the stats don’t lie. It’s business as usual, but with resistance now.

By Aug. 3, NBC which is owned by Comcast, also owner of Universal with the banner NBCUNI, uses TCA to introduce its “Female Forward” push that is supposed to address the underrepresentation of women in helmer positions in television. Slated for 2018-2019 season, a mere 10 women get a shot behind the camera, in a drop-in-the-ocean attempt to correct DGA-compiled stats that only 17 percent of episodes on all platforms were directed by women, with — get this — only 3% by minority women.

FX Displays One of The More Diverse Pie Charts at TCA.

FX Displays One of The More Diverse Pie Charts at TCA.

Next, over the weekend of Aug. 4 – 6, a bombshell goes off in Silicon Valley with a self-proclaimed “classic liberal” 28-year-old Google software engineer’s memo on a site called Motherboard that pretends to be a counterpoint to the lack of women in tech roles with a screed that includes charts and graphs on why women are “biologically” absent from high-profile engineering jobs in tech, as well as tech in general. Ka-Pow!

On Monday, Aug. 7, the world wakes up to worldwide coverage of James Damore’s surprising anti-PC punch in the gut to women, and suddenly the floorboards are ripped up on gender resentments from Hollywood to Silicon Valley.

By Monday night Damore is fired by Google, and Weds., Aug. 9 said memo-writer threatens (and files) a lawsuit for wrongful termination — but the cat is out of the bag, and all gender hell has broken loose. Because if you follow the Damore logic, women have just been handed their ass in every profession. Rachel Feldman 2Enter director Rachel Feldman, who is former chair of the DGA (Director’s Guild of America) Women’s Steering Committee, and wow, is she pissed off.

“James Damore, the Google engineer who wrote the controversial 3,300 word memo outlining his reasons why female employees were inferior workers, has been fired. Good for Google!  Their response was swift and their message clear; that kind of caveman thinking won’t be tolerated at Google,” Feldman begins. “But responding to pseudo-science that tries to legitimize prejudice is overt and relatively easy to spot. What’s much harder to root out, to see clearly, and eliminate is the insidious infection of unconscious bias.”

“I work in the Hollywood film and television industry as a director and I am a woman. I have more than paid my dues – with a masters degree in directing, numerous prestigious film festivals for grant funded indie films, trained on big studio movies working for famous, brilliant directors, and then directed over 60 hours of network and broadcast television – both episodic television and original movies, as well as taught directing on the Masters level – yet every job is still as hard to get as the first one, and I am called “a first time director” by many.”

In addition to being a director, writer, and filmmaker, Feldman, who is currently working on a script about equal-pay advocate Lilly Ledbetter (FAIR FIGHT), produced the 2013 DGA Women of Action Summit that was a first in the guild’s 80-year history to shine a spot on gender disparity. Ledbetter was born in 1938, and even though a “fair pay act” was named for her in 2009, she continues to fight for an equal share for women — both in representation and in the paycheck.

Ironically, James Damore’s Google platform for his numbskull pontificating about gender has opened the door for a class action suit, with some 60 female employees on board who learned via this scandal that they were paid up to $40K less than their male counterparts in some cases. Rampant sexism is the cause, as in Hollywood.

According to Deadline, an insider Hollywood news site, the EEOC is looking into gender discrimination in the industry’s most famous town in a big way.

“Decades ago producers and those who hire would say overtly sexist things to me and get away with it,” Feldman shares. “When a producer gives you the excuse for not hiring you because they “already had a woman director and the crew didn’t like her,” it was hard to hold my tongue and not point out the idiocy of that statement. But times have changed and now we are supposedly enlightened. We have diversity programs and initiatives up the wahzoo. So why has so little changed for women directors? What happened at Google was clearly terrible, but I wish my own industry were as vigilant in reacting to the perpetual gender exclusion that women directors in film and television live with every day.”

 L-R Nancy Rae Stone (producer), Feldman (director/writer), Nancy Schreiber ASC (Cinematographer), Barbara Kallier (gaffer), Pony Gold (key grip.)

Feldman’s Crew: L-R Nancy Rae Stone (producer), Feldman (director/writer), Nancy Schreiber ASC (Cinematographer), Barbara Kallier (gaffer), Pony Gold (key grip.)

You can also follow her activism on these topics on Twitter @WomenCallAction, and track Feldman as she responds to some tough questions on women and directing here:

Q:  What do you think of the recent Google memo about women (another male-heavy profession, tech), and are the attitudes in tech and movies parallel, if so why is that?

A: James Damore, the Google engineer who wrote the controversial 3,300 word memo outlining his reasons why female employees were inferior workers, has been fired.  Good for Google!  Their response was swift and their message clear; that kind of caveman thinking won’t be tolerated at Google.  But responding to pseudo-science that tries to legitimize prejudice is overt and relatively easy to spot. We have witnessed the tragedies of Eugenics attempting to rationalize genocide and most of us are lucky enough to live in a progressive culture where we strive for equality in every facet of our lives.  What’s much harder to root out, to see clearly, and eliminate is the insidious infection of unconscious bias.

Q: So why has so little changed for women directors?

A: What happened at Google was clearly terrible, but I wish my own industry were as vigilant in reacting to the perpetual gender exclusion that women directors in film and television live with every day.

Someone recently asked me if this was ageism because honestly, most of the woman I’m talking about are no longer the girls they were when they started directing in the 90’s.  But when the obstacles we face are exactly the same as the ones we faced 25 years ago, we must admit that gender exclusion is the culprit.

Q: Tricky issue – Kathryn Bigelow, DETROIT, what’s your opinion on this production, that director?

A: I thought DETROIT was very strong and I believe that the race conversation about a white woman telling this story is misplaced. Kathryn Bigelow is at the top of her game, she doesn’t need us to talk about her. I believe what we need to talk about the thousands of NON-CELEBRITY women who are brilliant, skilled, talented, proven, accomplished – and not working.  WHY?  How do we get the industry to pay attention to the women who have been ignored for way too long by gender exclusion?

Q: How about the thorny issue of wanting to be counted as a female director, but wanting to be seen on the world stage as a Director, no gender?

A: I think that women directors who have already had some measure of success can afford to take this position, but from my activist seat and from the position of having a career that has been severely affected by gender exclusion, I feel that any women who takes this position is doing a disservice to her sister filmmakers.  Not proclaiming your gender as a woman director in this day and age feels a bit like privilege to me.  We must fight for every woman to have a fair share and we will only do that if we join forces as women behind the camera.

Q: Top ten women director list, your choices (living or dead, domestic and international)?

A: It’s important that we banish the notion that there are only a handful of directors! We are a huge, underutilized labor force, and there is AN ARMY OF HIGHLY SKILLED DIRECTORS in both film and television.

Find us, hire us.There are so many brilliant, expressive voices to choose from but anyone I would name is already well known.  What I’d like to do it to invite our industry to hire new directors who they may never have heard of before.  These two links will allow for a great exploration: http://www.thedirectorlist.com/database/thedirecorlist.com and here.

Q: Are initiatives from groups like Geena Davis’ gender institute helpful?

A: The GDIGM is a great organization and quite effective. Geena is a great speaker and Madeline is a wonderful advocate.  We need more female protagonists and girls and women on screen who are not stereotyped, sexualized or victimized.  These are hugely important issues.

Q: What’s the greatest challenge of directing for women — getting funded, hiring enough women, etc?

A: The greatest challenge for women is to squash the idea that we don’t exist. Day after day we hear the same refrain – that there are only a handful of directors to hire – while THOUSANDS of us with Oscars, Emmy’s, Sundance awards, and hundreds of credits are ignored.  Why?  Why is all the focus on change to develop a pipeline for the future, with educational programs for new directors, when there are so many of us trained directors who could be working now and changing the stats NOW! The answer is that many of us don’t have agents, we are invisible – and why don’t we have representation? Because the agencies only want to hire hot celebrities who bring in fast money.  This cycle must change!!!

Q: Who is your favorite female director, or top three favorites and why?

A: I’d rather not talk about my s/heroes, but instead introduce folks to a tiny, tip of the iceberg list of hard-working, accomplished women who you’ve never heard of. This is by no means intended to be exhaustive or comprehensive, and this list focuses on television and not features.  There are thousands of talented women in the independent space, with stunning, award winning films – and many more in TV as well – let’s promote these women and get them working

Feldman’s Director Short List

Victoria Hochberg, Gloria Muzio, Neema Barnett, Debbie Reinisch, Hanelle Culpepper, Martha Coolidge, Amy Heckerling, Tanya Hamilton, Tessa Blake, Kat Candler, Shannon McCormack Flynn, Ellen Pressman, Leslie Libman, Vicky Jenson, Stacy Title, Linda Feferman, Matia Karell, Maggie Greenwald, Debroah Kempmeir, Debra Granick, Darnell Martin, Anna Forester, Heather Cappiello, Martha Coolidge, Nicole Rubio, Tanya Hamilton, Tessa Blake, Kat Candle, Leslie Libman, Beth Spitainy, Daisy Von Scherier Mayer, Jan Eliasberg, Elodie Keene, Diana Valentine, Jessica Landaw, Julie Hebert, Julie Anne Robinson, Katherine Brooks, Martha Mitchell, Nicole Kassell, Nzingha Stewart, Rachel Talalay, Rose Troche, Stacey Black, Alexis Korycinski, Allison Anders, Ami Mann, Amy Redford, Anna Mastro, Anne Renton, Catherine Jelski, Claudia Weil, Dee Rees, Helen Hunt, Jessica Yu, Donna Deitch, Kasi Lemmons, Lily Mariye, So Yong Kim, Neema Barnette, Tina Mabrey, Tanya Hamilton…

Q: Is film school a non-starter in production for women, what about AFI’s women in directing program, and is Sundance viable for women?

A: Film schools are great if you want to learn how to make movies and meet others who love the same. I have an MFA from NYU in directing and have taught directing in the MFA program at USC, but you don’t have to go to film school to learn to make films.

It’s important to note that women graduate at 50% of film school classes but the employment drops off the moment they enter the workforce.

We exist, we are interested and trained, we just don’t get the opportunities.

Q: About getting distribution and screenings — is it the same dog-and-pony show for any director?

A: If your project has a female protagonist you are in for a hard road.

If you can’t get one of the top 10 female actors who are interesting to foreign sales, your chances are slim to none.

These are insidious forms of gender discrimination and ones that need to be challenged.

Q: On how to promote a film — is it an advantage to say a woman is at the helm, or is it better to go in blind on that in some cases?

A: It’s probably never an advantage to be a woman director unless you are already a celebrity, no matter what the media might claim.

But I believe that for better or for worse, if we are not brave and proud and willing to take the heat – things will never change.

Q: What about sexism and entries into foreign (international) film festivals, any thoughts?

A: Women are terribly excluded from film festivals.  More of the same.

Final Thoughts on Similarities, Call it “GoogleWood”

In closing, here’s a metric ex-Googler James Damore doesn’t understand: the ageism against men in tech is so ingrained that by 26, most men are done in the fast lane if they haven’t migrated from the engineering track to management. In Hollywood, most women are done by 26 as ingenues, and fall out of the fast lane if they don’t accept character roles. The point? Technology was James Damore’s Hollywood, he just didn’t get the rules of the game.

 

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[Editor’s note: HERE NOW, directed by Rachel Feldman will screen on Aug. 12 at Holly Shorts Film Festival, which runs from Aug. 10 -19.]

Rachel Feldman directing Amy Brenneman in HERE NOW

Rachel Feldman directing Amy Brenneman in HERE NOW

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Before Kevin Spacey Locks the Gore Vidal Script for Netflix, A True Story

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent Everyone from Iran to Serbia seems to be bent on letting me know there’s a Gore Vidal biopic in the works starring Kevin Spacey. And while Gore would definitely think Kevin Spacey is hot, one wonders what he would make of another *damnable biopic,* especially about himself now dead […]

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Leslie Zemeckis: The Lady & The Tiger and Her Emojis

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent It’s fitting that Leslie Zemeckis is in Italy when we decide to do an interview, because the word burlesque is derived from Italian roots in “burla,” meaning mockery, to poke fun yet shine a spotlight on sexuality. Actor, writer, documentarian Zemeckis has just come out with a line of […]

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Best Spider-Man Ever, Wow, Tom Holland Looks Like It, Seriously

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

We could run down the Marvel list of past Spider-Men: impish Tobey Maguire, troubled Andrew Garfield, and they were great. But why bother, Spidey fans, because Tom Holland owns the new web-slinger entry SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, which opens July 7.

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Hey, is that Jon Favreau in the background? Yes.

Owns it along with his co-stars, that is. Those being Robert Downey, Jr.,  back as his Iron Man/Tony Stark mentor; Michael Keaton as not super-normal, real-world villain Vulture; and Marisa Tomei as a surprisingly bitchin’ Aunt May.  There’s what Robert Downey Jr. calls “the kids,” all the subplot superheros. Plus this has old and new Hollywood folks, such as Tyne Daly, Danny Glover, even Zendaya. For insiders, Amy Pascal, who got burned in the SONY email hack, comes roaring back as her Pascal Pictures pushed this one through to the finish line. Even Pascal gets her superhero cape back.

Producer Kevin Feige sets the scene here on how they thought about the new Spider-Man.

“We introduced Spider-Man in Civil War and you got to see the banter and the fun and contrast between he and the other heroes there,” says Feige. “And now, after the greatest vacation of all time, in which he got to spend this time with these rock stars, he’s got to go back to high school. So, it exacerbates his problem – a problem that I certainly had and I think most people who go to high school have – ‘Is there something more for me out there?’ But Peter knows there is because he just did it. He thinks he’s ready, and of course when you’re fifteen years old you often think you’re ready for something before you really are. That’s the fun of this movie, that’s the relatability of Peter Parker, and that’s why we wanted to do this and reintroduce Spider-Man to audiences through the lens of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.”

Yeah, okay, but Tom Holland says it in a much more fun way.

Wired for maximum energy, Tom Holland is so kick-ass even in talking about  this movie, like how he heard that he was cast as The One. “Well I didn’t actually hear I was going to be Spider-Man, I read about it on Instragram,” the newly minted web-spinner admits. “I didn’t get ‘the call.’ But no, it was an amazing experience.”

“I’d worked my ass off getting this job. And when all that hard work paid off and I could finally say I was Spider-Man, it was a pretty crazy experience.” SpideySPH17Plus he loves it when people bitch on the internet about the new onscreen reboot of Marvel’s “crown jewel” and “most successful comic book in the world,” according to Marvel Studio’s internal production notes, the hallowed “Spider-Man” created Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

Holland scoffs a little at the doubters, in a good way.

“I love reading on the internet people complaining that there is so much in the trailers because you haven’t seen anything yet, there is so much more to come, the big twists and turns. My whole family watched it the other day, and my family are not ‘superhero fans,’ and they loved it. They loved it. They are my toughest critics and it was amazing to see them enjoy it, which is fun.”

Not to mention working with Robert Downey, Jr, again after almost flying off a building when they met up in the last big bang box office movie, Civil War. Let’s just say, Tom really digs working with the Suave Marvel Franchise Statesman.

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Incredible illustrations as Concept Art.

“When Robert showed up on set, he was so excited to be there,” Downey’s film protege shares. “He saw the concept art, some of the footage and he thought it looked great. To me it was the perfect indicator that we’ve got something special here.”

A veteran of Hollywood and real life, being a franchise frontier is kind of second nature to Downey now. He talks about Peter Parker in such a cool way. “He is not part of the Military Industrial Complex” like Tony Stark is, Downey points out, adding Tom Holland plays it really new, for a re-sprung franchise. “Lest we forget,” Tony Stark’s counterpart says, “[Iron Man] pulled Peter Parker into life and death situations shortly after meeting him just a year or so ago.” But “he develops this belief in Mr. Parker.”

About the other teen superheroes, Downey is equally impressed. “You know what, speaking of homecoming, these kids are pretty damn good,” and then he switches gears to the reconfigured Aunt May character, played by Marisa Tomei.

“I’ve known Marisa for a long time, she’s just perfect,” he adds. “What a fresh start this franchise is getting.”

When thinking about New Spider-Man, Marisa starts laughing, “I feel like a newcomer next to him, because [Tom Holland] was born a pro. He is so capable. [Tom] is adept at everything he does.”SpiderTube17

Then she really takes a moment to say “it’s a gift to act in a ‘franchise’ film, to know you have a job coming. And to be part of something that is so beloved. That the fans really cherish and are really excited about. There’s a fever to it, to be part of something that is so anticipated.”

But is it too big, or too anticipated, you may wonder?

“It’s big, big movie —  with independent spirit at heart. The movie is as much about ‘finding your place in the world,’ as much as it is a giant superhero movie.”

As far as Aunt May Upgraded, “I wanted to try to keep some of the — not just the function, to look after [Peter], to be curious and deduced things and make a strong home for him — I wanted to make her [mine].”

This Aunt May “works, she has a publishing company. She has a past… [But], she’s trying to make these pies. I wanted her to make these apple pies like the original Aunt May, and the original granny glasses, and the apron and the bun in her hair. It helps transition into this new iteration.”

Plus if it’s Marisa (CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE), you get that this will be the first sexy Aunt May, just saying.

“I felt like I was in summer camp when I was working with them [Tom and the younger superhero cast members]. It was like ‘okay, not only are you not your age, but i’m not my age, we’re all 13 right now’ — I loved being with them.”

So you’re getting the idea how off-the-hook special this movie is, even with a kind of human villain, Michael Keaton. He’s a Hollywood insider who’s been around forever, but Keaton as “Vulture” plays a new flavor of heavy here.

Birdman’s Oscar nominee tries to break it down to the essence of his Spider-Man bad guy with “there is, you know, an underlying intelligence to it. It isn’t that simple. He has resentment.”

Vulture “may have been vulnerable.” He started out ethically okay, maybe but “my character [failed] doing things on the up-and-up, maybe — but he is put in a position to say, ‘I’m going to look after my family.’ I also like that he had a crew. I like these guys. These are all working class people. They all have legitimate gripes.”

When asked about the scope of Spider-Man: Homecoming, Keaton nails it for most of us. “These movies are always just so huge, how they put it together it beyond me. You can tell, the director, he really saw it.” Then he stops short, summing up the little details that apparently make this movie The One for diehard Marvel franchise fans.

Michael Keaton wants to talk The Suit.

“The suit was so intricate and artfully made — I don’t think those people (Costumers) get enough credit. You know, special wrenches to put the boots in a certain (position), I was knocked out by that.” Which leads into a whole discussion about Cosplay, but never mind.SpideyNow1

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING  is right around the corner as this summer’s huge blockbuster entry and swings into the box office July 7, so get ready for it. See the official site here, with all the relevant hashtags and hoo-hah for such a massive fan movie.

JUST IN CASE YOU FORGOT THE SMALL PRINT

Columbia Pictures presents a Marvel Studios / Pascal Pictures production, Spider-Man™: Homecoming.  Starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Tyne Daly, with Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr. Directed by Jon Watts.  Screenplay by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley and Jon Watts & Christopher Ford and Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers. Screen Story by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley.  Based on the Marvel Comic Book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.  Produced by Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal.  Executive Producers are Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Patricia Whitcher, Jeremy Latcham, Stan Lee, Avi Arad, and Matt Tolmach. Mitch Bell, Eric Hauserman Carroll, and Rachel O’Connor serve as Co-Producers. Director of Photography is Salvatore Totino ASC, AIC. Production Designer is Oliver Scholl. Editors are Dan Lebental ACE and Debbie Berman.  Visual Effects Supervisor is Janek Sirrs.  Costume Designer is Louise Frogley. Music by Michael Giacchino. Music Supervision by Dave Jordan.

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DARK TOWER Casts Wild Shadow with Baddie McConaughey & Pistol-Packing Idris Elba

by Screenmancer Staff It doesn’t entirely ruin the mystique around Stephen King’s eight-novel series “The Dark Tower” to know that the name of the main character, played by Idris Elba in the upcoming Columbia Pictures release of the same name, is from a Robert Browning poem. In fact it kind of arts it up. Browning’s […]

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Get Ready To Be Entranced: Sofia Coppola’s THE BEGUILED Grips

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

There was a time when Sofia Coppola could be at an awards show and overlooked as a famous daughter; not anymore, not for years now since LOST IN TRANSLATION. But in her new film, THE BEGUILED, which is a retool of a 1971 Clint Eastwood starrer, she really comes of age as a visionary writer/director. Even in what is considered a remake of a movie based on a novel by Thomas Cullinan, it has a distinctive feel that’s all hers. The film opens Friday, June 23 in New York and Los Angeles, with wider release on June 30.KidanBGniceWith an all-star cast that includes Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning, you get a sense of why this movie won Best Director at the 2017 Cannes International Film Festival.

Picture a Southern all-girls boarding school during the battle-weary Civil War era, and a wounded enemy soldier appears. John McBurney (Colin Farrell) adds testosterone to a very delicate and well-mannered yet highly complex microcosm of women led by a formidable Headmistress named Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman).

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“This is my dream cast,” Sofia Coppola admits. “When I was writing it, I was picturing Nicole as Miss Martha. She always surprises me. Watching her, I’ve never seen anyone like that, she does so many different things at once.” She adds that the whole cast is on a par with Kidman.

You want to use a word like confection for the ethereal feel, but that description doesn’t do justice to the depth of rich multi-layered images that float on the screen like Spanish moss.

“This is very much a Sofia film,” Colin Farrell explains. “It’s very much aesthetically beautiful. She wrote every word of this. Her way feels maybe more right than some [as far as directing], there’s an immense lack of tension on the set, very playful. She’s incredibly easygoing and generous to her core it seems.”ColinDunstBG

Farrell is underscoring the fact that a remake can often feel like a re-do of someone else’s vision.

But if you look at the 1971 version, two minutes into the film, Eastwood is literally hitting on a twelve year old, with “not too young for kisses.” And even though the fabulous Geraldine Page stars as his Miss Martha, there’s a creepy feel to their interplay, down the line. So that’s essentially the breaking point for the 2017 Beguiled. It takes a left turn at the way the heightened sexual tension is framed.

“I didn’t know the movie and I watched it, and it really stayed in my mind. I watched it. It was so weird, and I thought ‘how would I do my version?’” I thought it would be interesting to do the same story but from the female characters’ point of view.”

Elle Fanning, who plays Alicia, describes her character as kind of an empowered seductress, but still innocent in a real way. “Anything Sofia does I think is incredible, it was also like, ‘yeah.’ Because it was all these girls and women — and Colin of course— they hold the power.”ColinElleBG

“The original film had been made from a guy’s point of view, so I went back to the book. Because I just liked the premise,” Coppola adds. “It’s such a crazy, extreme premise about power between men and women in such an extreme situation. The idea of looking at wartime from the point of view of the women left behind.”

“You try to make it personal. Try to relate to the characters because it’s such a different time. And yet I loved that it had elements that were familiar to me, this feminine beautiful world. A beautiful feminine world with violence and very gothic.”

“My tendency is to be on the subtle side. Colin was teasing me: ‘Oh, this is an action movie to you, there’s guns… there’s blood.’ It’s been fun to have this mix of beautiful dresses and a little gore. We had smoke machines everyday, and candlelight… a really ethereal look that is specific to this story.”

“Colin is a good sport about being our sex object in the movie, but he has to be dangerous and threatening, and romantic in the movie.” Farrell plays a mercenary soldier paid $300 off the boat from Ireland to fight as a Yankee, so he’s neither North nor South, but emblematic of the unspoken ever-present struggle for control between the sexes.

When the crushing attractions flare up between Farrell’s character and the many flavors of female in this strange closed world hunkered down  under siege of musket fire in a distance, Beguiled really poses some interesting questions about how women express their sexuality. Yet there’s a brutality to their mannered world that Farrell’s soldier-on-the-mend only begins to realize when it’s too late.

Not that every movie needs a memorable line, but when his John McBurney yells out “You Vengeful Bitches,” in a thick Irish accent, it’s an instant classic. Probably because Nicole Kidman’s Miss Martha is so poised and possibly inherently evil at the same time, in a nice way.NicBGbad17

Kirsten Dunst, who plays wronged love interest Edwina, sums up Sofia Coppola’s deft directing hand best, as “she doesn’t second guess herself. I’ve known her for so long, I’m working with my friend, you can’t really beat that.”

Since he is outnumbered in this eerie thriller, Colin Farrell gets the last word. “I’m surrounded by extraordinary talent. Watching these extraordinary women do extraordinary work. There’s an amazing sense of camaraderie. It’s been a joy.”

Don’t miss what the women have in store for their wounded houseguest, it’s a very rewarding fight to the finish.

Focus Features awards-buzzworthy film THE BEGUILED rolls out in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, June 23, with wider release on June 30.

Directed by Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation,” “Somewhere”)
Written by Sofia Coppola, based on the novel by Thomas Cullinan and the screenplay by Albert Maltz and Grimes Grice
Starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, Addison Riecke, Emma Howard.

Watch This Making-of With Director & Cast

 

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93 Minutes I Rated R

Official Site I Facebook I Twitter I Instagram

#TheBeguiled #VengefulBitches

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Karen Black FeFF 2009_2

Leslie-Ann Coles Will Make You Think About The Female Eye… Festival Too

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Well, how many times have we heard it? “Ladies and Gentlemen,” even that phrase grates because it’s loaded from a, take a guess? Male perspective. And this is where Leslie-Ann Coles founder of The Female Eye Festival comes into sharp focus. FeFF Award WinnersFor the festival’s 15th anniversary, which opened yesterday in Toronto and runs through June 25, Coles may just be telling us what we need to hear right now. Listen up, since no one else seems to be championing story, sans capes, and what women are doing in film right now. What about Patty Jenkins and her big bang box office Wonder Woman, you ask?

“I think it is fantastic and great for all women directors. I just find it interesting that the Bigelow won for The Hurt Locker – which is a film that dealt with war — from a more personal perspective, and now we have a wonderful director with a superhero flick — again it’s an action movie,” Coles explains. “I always think about all the great films that the world has seen over the years that have often fallen under the radar of public and critical acclaim.”LA Coles Founder & Director 2016

Leslie-Ann Coles, in front of last year’s mural.

“I was always kind of interested in the (mostly male superhero) genre,” how women behind the lens see things differently, Female Eye’s tireless champion adds. “Part of the hoopla is that a women directed this,” Wonder Woman. It’s in the genre “of bastion the old boys club.”

“I was thinking also about public and industry. The general public, I don’t know how much they pay attention to who directed a film. Do they look at the poster and wonder who the director is? I don’t think the general public thinks [for example] ‘it stars Charlize Theron, wow, who is the director?’”

If you ask ‘what about women driving the box office behind a Billion Dollar Beauty & The Beast?’ “I think women buy tickets and they make a lot of decisions — maybe I’m wrong about that. This is all great… There is a film we are showing this year that we are all floored by  — we don’t often see a 74 year-old actor out of New York — the title is ‘Can Hilter Happen Here.’”Round Table Discussions 2016

As far as the full slate for the 15th Female Eye Festival, “there are some other films, documentaries, where I’ve been astonished how the women who create these films survive the front lines to get the story.  You’ll be taken aback by their work and their stories.”

The only requirement for participating films is obvious, Coles notes. Films are curated “very much with the caveat that they have to be directed by a woman.”

“There are many film festivals in the world. We have been around for 15 years, but we stand firmly behind the women in the director’s chair. I think it’s important to stand behind that.”

“Somebody asked me the other day, ‘do you think it’s important still?,’” and Coles points to the dismal stats on women at the helm of bigger budget films not just in Hollywood, but around the world.

What women have to say, it turns out, is a very different statement about the age-old entanglement of perpetual seat-filler plot-devices: Sex and Violence, she notes.Directors 2016

A film came out of New York one year that blew the viewer panels away, “Virgin” (2003). “That film was co-executive produced by Robin Wright Penn and starred Elizabeth Moss.” There was a real possibility that no one would distribute this project, so, Female Eye made sure to give it screen time. That director, Deborah Kampmeier, is out of New York.

“There was a rape of lead actress — perpetrator rapes her,” then Moss has to deal with “the man who impregnated her.”

“What struck me is that women tend to treat sex and violence very differently. Nothing is gratuitous. It’s often what [audiences] don’t see with explicit violence or sex.” The director “has come back to us with Split, Houndog — I’m a big fan of her work. She’s really underrated as a director, she is an important director, she created some, creates some great films, there have been so many.”

Karen Black FeFF 2009_2Karen Black is a past honoree.

“Nancy Savoca (Dogfight, If These Walls Could Talk) is another one; she shot a film in one apartment, one location on a micro budget,” Coles recalls.

As for her personal journey from dancer to actor to filmmaker to Festival Director? (See her bio on http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0171320/)

“I have a documentary; it has taken me eight years to finish it. Documentary about early music journalism from 1965 to 1975 from a classic black and white archive. The photographer shot for Melody Maker magazine the forerunner to Rolling Stone.

“It’s a great story when there were no rock’n’roll photographers.” This doc includes the photo “that redefined Syd Barrett (Pink Floyd) great photograph… he’d locked himself in the bathroom. They went into the bathroom and spent time locked in the bathroom with Syd Barrett — there’s this photograph half in shadow and half in light — a session with Jimi Hendrix two weeks before he died in his manager’s office. Keith Moon (The Who) — stunts that went awry — these guys had incredible access. in the mid 1970’s punk came in and didn’t respect the old guard. The World changed then.”

Now the world has changed again, from mass public shootings, war-mongering around the globe like never before to psychotic drum-banging in world politics, and maybe that’s why movies told from a female perspective are an important counterbalance. In any case, the 15th Female Eye Festival takes place this week. Visit the filmmakers and their bios on display, as well as slate and schedule, at 15th Annual Female Eye Film Festival, June 20th – 25th, 2017 #FeFF2017

 

SNAPSHOT from FeFF

The FeFF celebrates the 15th Anniversary edition June 2017!

At our milestone 15th anniversary in 2017, FeFF will present an eclectic variety shorts and features in all genres from across North American including a curated shorts program from Ireland entitled, “Irish Women’s Stories” along with a selection of independent films from France, Israel, Germany, Finland, Poland, Russia, Australia, UK and Asia… just to name a few foreign delegations. We are delighted to announce in 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 the Female Eye ranked one of the world’s “Top 50 Film Festivals Worthy of the Entry Fee” by the renowned Movie Maker Magazine (Santa Monica, California). 

 Founder / Artistic and Executive Director Leslie – Ann Coles conceived the Female Eye Film Festival in 2001 having observing that women directors were a minority among filmmakers at the international film festivals she attended with her debut film, “In The Refrigerator.” In 2001, the Female Eye Film Festival (FeFF) was established and incorporated as a provincial not-for-profit organization in Toronto, Canada. In 2002, the Female Eye presented 42 films in its inaugural year; 70% of the participants were local Toronto directors. (Read more here...)

[Coles new documentary is MELODY MAKERS

http://www.melodymakersmovie.com/

https://www.facebook.com/MelodyMakersthemovie/

@melodymakersmov

“Always Honest, Not Always Pretty” www.FemaleEyeFilmFestival.com

2017, The Female Eye voted worlds “Top 50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” for five consecutive years (2013-2017) by Movie Maker Magazine

“The lack of gender equity in filmmaking [and in other arts] is perhaps a self-sustaining cycle. Movies shape the way that people see the world and by extension, the way that people see women.” – Odessa Kelebay

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Michael Douglas Got Booted & Suited Up for TCM 2017, Like You Were There

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

While he has nothing on the elder Douglas, Golden Era Legend Kirk Douglas at almost 101 years old, TCM celebrated the life and career of Hollywood youngster Michael Douglas during a taping of “Live From the TCM Classic Film Festival” on April 8 at the famous Montalban Theatre during the eighth annual festival. MichaelD17

Host Ben Mankiewicz said beforehand, “Michael Douglas has been part of our collective Hollywood consciousness his entire life. From chasing bad guys through the streets of San Francisco to playing an iconic bad guy in Gordon Gekko, Michael has stayed not only relevant, but vital. To say that I’m looking forward to discussing the career of an actor who played Liberace 38 years after producing One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a huge understatement.”

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Just take a scroll through these absolutely iconic Michael Douglas portraits and think back on the guy behind the red rows of seats in A CHORUS LINE, and all the other movie credits on this legendary resume, being the life’s work of Michael Douglas, to date of course. MikeArrivesTCM17Like the old man, he will likely last a century, hopefully. Congratulations to the actor, producer, director, and Academy, as well as audience, favorite Michael Douglas.MikeFitting17

There’s great footage of their chat on TCM’s website, but we’ve got these photos — truly works of art — that really set the tone for a classic time had by all at the recent Turner gala celebration. MikeShowTCM17

You’ll learn more about that from TCM’s post-dated official news announcement below.

MikeTCMExec17Left to right: Charlie Tabesh, Senior Vice President Programming and Production; Turner Classic Movies; Pola Changnon, Senior Vice President, Creative, Brand and Marketing, Turner Classic Movies; Ben Mankiewicz. Host, Turner Classic Movies; Jennifer Dorian, General Manger, Turner Classic Movies; Michael Douglas; Genevieve McGillicuddy, Director, TCM Classic Film Festival

Here’s Official Rundown from TCM

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) previously announced that legendary actor Michael Douglas would attend the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival for a pair of major events. On April 8, Douglas sat down with TCM host Ben Mankiewicz for an in-depth interview about his career at the legendary The Ricardo Montalbán Theatre as part of the annual Live from the TCM Classic Film Festival series. In addition, the Oscar®-winning icon participated in a discussion following a screening of the 1979 thriller The China Syndrome, which he produced and starred in opposite Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon.

TCM added screen legends and beloved icons to its impressive lineup for the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival, which took place April 6 – April 9 in Hollywood, including:

·        Best in Show (2000) – cast members from Christopher Guest’s acclaimed mockumentary – Fred Willard, John Michael Higgins, Jim Piddock and Bob Balaban – were on hand to discuss the hilarious comedy about the eccentric characters competing at a national dog show.

·        Bob Newhart – the Golden Globe® and Emmy® winner was selected to introduce a screening of Hell Is For Heroes (1962).

·        John Landis, Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker – attended a 40th Anniversary screening of their irreverent sketch comedy The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977) and participated in a conversation about the film.

·        Dick Cavett –Emmy-winning television personality was set to introduce screenings of Monkey Business (1931), the first original film production from the Marx Brothers, Way Out West (1937) and sit down for a conversation in Club TCM.

In addition, the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival presented a number of rare screening events that celebrate cinema’s ability to immerse viewers in the film experience, including:

·        Nitrate Films – this years festival showcased the history of cinema and highlight the institutions that work hard to protect original nitrate prints for contemporary audiences to experience, including Academy Film Archive, George Eastman Museum and the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Lineup included: Black Narcissus (1947), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), Laura (1944), and Lady in the Dark (1944) all shown at the Egyptian Theatre. Nitrate projection made possible through support of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Turner Classic Movies and The Film Foundation in partnership with the American Cinematheque and the Academy Film Archive.

·        Cinerama – a screeing of the very first film made for the ultra-widescreen process – the aptly titled This is Cinerama (1952) – in its original format presented at ArcLight Cinemas’ Cinerama Dome.

·        Speedy Accompanied by the Alloy Orchestra – a screening of the Harold Lloyd comedy Speedy (1928), with original music by the famed Alloy Orchestra.

·        Those Redheads from Seattle in 3D – the world-premiere restoration of the rarely-seen musical Those Redheads from Seattle (1953), presented in its original 3D format.

Previously announced events and appearances include Oscar® winner Sidney Poitier for the 50th anniversary opening-night screening of In the Heat of the Night (1967); Mel Brooks for the 40th anniversary screening of his Hitchcock spoof High Anxiety (1977); actress Lee Grant for screenings of Detective Story (1951) and The Landlord (1970); and actor-director Peter Bogdanovich for screenings of The Last Picture Show (1971) and What’s Up, Doc? (1972). Grant and Bogdanovich were interviewed in the Festival’s central gathering point, Club TCM. And legendary father and son filmmakers Carl Reiner and Rob Reiner were honored with a hand and footprint ceremony at the TCL Chinese Theater IMAX®.

Complete bios for each of the artists appearing at the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival and for film descriptions, please visit the festival’s website: filmfestival.tcm.com

The 411 on 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival

For the eighth consecutive year, thousands of movie lovers from around the globe descended upon Hollywood for the TCM Classic Film Festival. The 2017 festival that took place Thursday, April 6 – Sunday, April 9, 2017. Over four packed days and nights, attendees were treated to an extensive lineup of great movies, appearances by legendary stars and filmmakers, fascinating presentations and panel discussions, special events and more.

TCM host Ben Mankiewicz served as official host of the TCM Classic Film Festival, with TCM’s Tiffany Vazquez introducing various events. The festival’s official hotel and central gathering point for the eighth consecutive year was The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, which has a longstanding role in movie history and was the site of the first Academy Awards® ceremony. Screenings and events during the festival were held at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX, the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres and the Egyptian Theatre, as well as other Hollywood venues.

This year’s festival theme? Make ‘Em Laugh: Comedy In The Movies. From lowbrow to high, slapstick to sophisticated comedies of manners, the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival showcased the greatest cinematic achievements of lone clowns, comedic duos and madcap ensembles.

Why We Love Turner Classic Movies (TCM)

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is a two-time Peabody Award-winning network that presents great films, uncut and commercial-free, from the largest film libraries in the world highlighting the entire spectrum of film history. TCM features the insights from Primetime host Ben Mankiewicz and Saturday daytime host Tiffany Vazquez, plus interviews with a wide range of special guests and serves as the ultimate movie lover destination. Currently in its 22nd year as a leading authority in classic film, TCM offers critically acclaimed series like The Essentials, along with annual programming events like 31 Days of Oscar® in February and Summer Under the Stars in August. TCM also directly connects with movie fans through events as the annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood and the TCM Classic Cruise, as well as through the TCM Classic Film Tour in New York City and Los Angeles. In addition, TCM produces a wide range of media about classic film, including books and DVDs, and hosts a wealth of material online at tcm.com and through the Watch TCM mobile app.

TCM is a division of Turner, a Time Warner company, Turner creates and programs branded news, entertainment, sports, animation and young adult multi-platform content for consumers around the world. Turner brands and businesses include CNN/U.S., HLN, CNN International and CNN.com, TBS, TNT, TCM, truTV, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Adult Swim, Turner Sports, Bleacher Report, FilmStruck, Super Deluxe, iStreamPlanet and ELEAGUE.

Connect with TCM for Next Year’s TCM Event & Right Now via App on iOS and Android
Website: www.tcm.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/tcmtv
Twitter: twitter.com/tcm | twitter.com/tcmpr
TCM Store: shop.tcm.com

Download TCM app to watch now; available for iOS and Android Platforms (Google Play).

Bonus Feature – Graphiq Visualization of Michael Douglas Movies

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Hiroyuki Sanada, Ryan Reynolds, Director Daniel Espinosa, Olga Dihovichnaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Ariyon Bakare  and Jake Gyllenhaal seen at Columbia Pictures World Premiere of "Life" the movie at SXSW 2017 on Saturday, March 18, 2017, in Austin, TX. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Sony Pictures/AP Images)

LIFE is Already Scary, Now It’s A Scarier Reynolds & Gyllenhaal Movie, Thanks

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

What is it with ‘ripped from the alt-news headlines’ movie plots lately? KONG: SKULL ISLAND has a hollow earth slash reptilian b-story, even a CIA mind control “Monarch” reference on a briefcase. Now LIFE, starring Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal, has a waterborne microbe from Mars mass-extinction horror twist.

Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal seen at Columbia Pictures World Premiere of "Life" the movie at SXSW 2017 on Saturday, March 18, 2017, in Austin, TX. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Sony Pictures/AP Images)

Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal seen at Columbia Pictures World Premiere of “Life” the movie at SXSW 2017 on Saturday, March 18, 2017, in Austin, TX. [Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Sony Pictures/AP Images]

While scary stories about hostile life on Mars is a running theme since B-movies in the 50’s, this one has some actual science to back it up.

LIFE, directed by Daniel Espinosa, touts the fact that the producers and writers consulted with “astrobiologists and space medicine experts,” one of whom is Dr. Kevin Fong. “Space is an extreme environment, like any of the extreme environments we’ve attempted to conquer in the 20th century – deserts, polar ice caps, our highest mountains,” Fong explained. “What we know about extreme environments is that you can’t go there for long and it’s not without penalty. You come back literally less than the person you were.”

“It’s hard enough to stay alive up there on a routine mission when everything goes right.  When things start to go wrong, people start to die off pretty quickly.” These cheery words underscore his experience as an astrophysicist and MD who’s worked on NASA’s Human Adaptation and Countermeasures Office at Johnson Space Center in Houston, meaning he is a medical expert on keeping folks alive and kicking in space.

No offense to the astro-geniuses, but frankly movie stars can explain a movie better.

Cast and crew of "Life" seen at Columbia Pictures World Premiere of "Life" the movie at SXSW 2017 on Saturday, March 18, 2017, in Austin, TX. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Sony/AP Images)

Cast and crew of “Life” seen at Columbia Pictures World Premiere of “Life” the movie at SXSW 2017 on Saturday, March 18, 2017, in Austin, TX. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Sony/AP Images)

In typical Jake Gyllenhaal extreme-character mode, he plays International Space Station denizen David Jordan, who’s already clocked 473 days afloat in outer space. “It was a beautifully paced, terrifying script.  It’s a fun idea. You think you know where it’s going, and then it evolves into something where you really, really don’t,” he added. “The life form is literal, but it’s also an incredible metaphor for what can happen. Curiosity is one of the most important human traits, but I think searching too far can be full of hubris. In that way, the life form is a repercussion for that kind of curiosity.”

“My grandfather was a doctor,” Gyllenhaal shared, “and Daniel and I talked about the similarities in my character to my grandfather. It’s a bit of an homage to him.”

Next some newcomers join the freaky plot, and things get terrifying as a look for proof of life on Mars backfires. Naturally the movie includes a requisite CDC, Centers for Disease Control, rep. This one comes in the form of Rebecca Ferguson, as Miranda North. “Miranda is a microbiologist sent up to protect everyone on Earth from whatever this is that we find,” Ferguson explained.

Her character puts up some “firewalls” against extra-terrestrial contamination. “The firewall is, first, the container that the specimen was in.  And then the room.  And then the station itself.  She has to do whatever she can do to protect Earth, because we don’t know what this life form is.” No, it’s not a gimmicky ‘life form,’ either.

Producer Julie Lynn nailed it best on that front. “We didn’t want the life form to be a person in a suit or a puppet. We wanted it to be something that could evolve from a cellular piece, a tiny cell. It’s not that it comes out with an intent to do harm; it is its own creature, and it is affected by what happens to it.”

Paris, France - Monday March 13, 2017: Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson at the Columbia Pictures "LIFE" Photo Call at The Planetarium of Le Grand Palais

Paris, France – Monday March 13, 2017: Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson at the Columbia Pictures “LIFE” Photo Call at The Planetarium of Le Grand Palais

Rebecca Ferguson spins it as a relationship game with the pathogen. “We all have our own relationship to this creature. Some of us love it, we nurture it.  Some of us want to kill it off in the beginning.  And that creates an incredible tension in the group,” she said.

Ryan Reynolds rounds it out with, “this script had such a degree of reality and a feeling of constant tension,” that he reteamed with his DEADPOOL writing pals Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, to ratchet up the stakes. Coincidentally, Reynolds also went back to the well with his SAFE HOUSE director Daniel Espinosa.

Having worked well with Reynolds, Espinosa is also super excited about LIFE. “I think the reason so many great directors have walked into science fiction is to work with the unknown — the fear or fascination with the unknown,” he said.  “We live in a world that is quite mundane, but in space, you enter an adventure – you don’t know how it looks, how it feels, what it can do to you, where it is. It doesn’t make a sound. That’s terrifying.”

Whatever the hell LIFE’s monster is in this case, the SAFE HOUSE director made it even scarier when he added that “this script felt more like a realistic science fiction. Maybe science reality.” Picture waking up ’50,000-year-old microbes’ inside crystalline hibernation on Mars, that is. Or, in movie critic shorthand, the DNA from amber plot device from Jurassic Park, but with super-freaky outer space Martian microbial goo meets Alien. Sorry for the gross oversimplification but this helps put your fears to rest, folks, because it’s only a movie. We hope. Alternative news purveyors might spin it as a doomsday scenario for planet Earth, lol. LIFE, go see it before it happens. It opens Mar. 24, brought to you by Skydance and SONY (Columbia).  Interestingly, Megan Ellison’s brother David Ellison is listed as a producer. The film has bowed in Berlin, Moscow, Paris, and at SXSW in Austin, Texas last week. [Most of the photos included are from SXSW premiere.] See their official website for showtimes and venues. Hahtag #LIFEMOVIE

Directed by:  

Daniel Espinosa

Written by:

Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick

Produced by:

David Ellison

Dana Goldberg

Bonnie Curtis

Julie Lynn

Executive Producers: 

Don Granger

Vicki Dee Rock

Cast:

Jake Gyllenhaal

Rebecca Ferguson

Ryan Reynolds

Hiroyuki Sanada

Ariyon Bakare

Olga Dihovichnaya

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