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What If There’s No Back to School or Normal: Ai Weiwei’s HUMAN FLOW for UN’s WHD

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Maybe you’ve never heard of Ai Weiwei, who turns 60 on Aug. 28. Once a pro blackjack player, Weiwei still takes huge gambles as China’s best-known living artist, conceptual artist, and filmmaker who is often jailed or at odds with his government. AIWEIwei17There’s a link to his timeline and bio below. But for tomorrow Aug. 19, which the United Nation declared “World Humanitarian Day” back in 2003, Weiwei’s new film HUMAN FLOW has heart-piercing images to share what it is to be a refugee, and why there’s not only no back to school or normal, but no back to safety.

First a Backgrounder on the UN’s World Humanitarian Day

On 19 August 2003, a terrorist attack hit the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, killing 22 people. Among those who lost their lives was Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN’s top representative in Iraq. Five years later, the General Assembly adopted a resolution designating 19 August as World Humanitarian Day. Every year since then, the humanitarian community has organized global campaigns to commemorate WHD, advocating for the safety and security of humanitarian aid workers, and for the survival, well-being and dignity of people affected by crises.

Now Step Into the HUMAN FLOW Directed by Ai Weiwei

“Over 65 million people around the world have been forced from their homes to escape famine, climate change and war in the greatest human displacement since World War II.  Human Flow, an epic film journey led by the internationally renowned artist Ai Weiwei, gives a powerful visual expression to this massive human migration. The documentary elucidates both the staggering scale of the refugee crisis and its profoundly personal human impact.”

“Captured over the course of an eventful year in 23 countries, the film follows a chain of urgent human stories that stretches across the globe in countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, France, Greece, Germany, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, and Turkey.”

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“Human Flow is a witness to its subjects and their desperate search for safety, shelter and justice: from teeming refugee camps to perilous ocean crossings to barbed-wire borders; from dislocation and disillusionment to courage, endurance and adaptation; from the haunting lure of lives left behind to the unknown potential of the future. Human Flow comes at a crucial time when tolerance, compassion and trust are needed more than ever.  This visceral work of cinema is a testament to the unassailable human spirit and poses one of the questions that will define this century: Will our global society emerge from fear, isolation, and self-interest and choose a path of openness, freedom, and respect for humanity?”

Amazon Studios and Participant Media present, in association with AC Films, Human Flow, a film directed by Ai Weiwei.  Human Flow is produced by Ai Weiwei, Chin-Chin Yap and Heino Deckert and executive produced by Andrew Cohen of AC Films with Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann of Participant Media.AmazStud17PrtMd17

140 Minutes

World Humanitarian Day (WHD) is held every year on August 19 to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world. For additional information, please visit the UN.
#NotATarget

Ai Weiwei’s new film will be released in a limited roll-out on Oct. 13, see website for more details.

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#HumanFlow

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Picture Is Worth a 1000 Words, But a Picture Distributor Speaks Volumes at First Run Features

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Who will never look at tiki torches the same? Oh, it’s #Charlottesville flashbacks, that mob who tried to destroy the reputation of the Commonwealth of Virginia, home to more US Presidents than any other state. That old tourist ad slogan “Virginia Is For Lovers” has now been flipped on its head. What are we to do? Well, First Run Features President Seymour Wishman has a few ideas. This came to my inbox this morning, likely saved my day, because we are all powerless at this moment in history, powerless to change hearts and minds, and just compelled to not engage, to do our jobs and run our lives… or figure out something like this.

Open Letter From FIRST RUN FEATURES

President Seymour Wishman Dated Aug. 17, 2017

First Run Features was founded to make available independent films, mostly social/political issue documentaries, to the public. The kind of tough, insightful, sometimes outrageous titles we’ve distributed in theaters, schools and on television and home video over the last 40 years comprises the largest collection of films dealing with civil rights and the plight of the underdog in America.

The recent actions of neo-nazis, KKK, white supremacists, racists and anti-Semites in Charlottesville reinforces our commitment to expose the evil and danger these people represent. One of the first films we distributed and still do is Blood in the Face produced by Village Voice contributor James Ridgeway, Academy Award nominee Anne Bohlen and The Atomic Cafe producer Kevin Rafferty, and featuring interviews with Michael Moore. The film includes rare archival footage, interviews, and promotional materials that reveal the inner workings of the Ku Klux Klan, the American Nazi Party, the Aryan Nation, The Order, and other radical right groups who speak of imminent race wars, Armageddon, the Holocaust hoax, interracial breeding, the Christian Identity faith, the hordes of foreign troops poised to attack America, and ZOG (The Zion Occupation Government).

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Almost 40 years later we began distributing Welcome to Leith, which chronicles the attempted takeover of a small town in North Dakota by notorious white supremacist Craig Cobb. As his behavior becomes more threatening, tensions soar, and the residents desperately look for ways to expel their unwanted neighbor. With incredible access to both longtime residents of Leith and white supremacists, the film examines a small community in the plains struggling for sovereignty against an extremist vision.

Today First Run has about 500 films in our collection, with a number that also deal with the threat of the far right. I am particularly eager for as many people as possible to see Blood in the Face and Welcome to Leith and would like to offer them on DVD at a discounted price of $5 through 8/31. Use coupon code FIGHTHATE at www.firstrunfeatures.com. A portion of proceeds will be donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

– Seymour Wishman
President, First Run Features

Here’s a Quick Education On The Movies He Mentions

Blood in the Face

“A jaw-dropping view of America’s white supremacy movement. Rare archival footage, darkly humorous interviews, and their own promotional materials bring to light the inner workings of the Ku Klux Klan and other radical right groups.” Read on

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Welcome to Leith

“Welcome to Leith chronicles the attempted takeover of a small town in North Dakota by notorious white supremacist Craig Cobb. As his behavior becomes more threatening, the residents desperately look for ways to expel their unwanted neighbor.” Read on…

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I’m not on their payroll, and haven’t seen all of the movies Mr. Wishman recommends, but it lifted me up just a little bit to read this, and hopefully it lifts you up for the day too.

None are immune from the viral phenomenon of this piercing cacophony of raised voices, sweaty faces, burning torches, in words or in imagery out in our world. We will remember #heatherheyer out loud.

Next there’s Barcelona, Spain, another vehicle-rage incident cut to fit somebody’s agenda. After that, who knows, but without looking away, we can look into ourselves and look at each other, and say ‘Not Me, Friend, Not Me,’ and light a candle – held up in trust for the future and for the fallen.

Back to the movies… see you in the audience soon.

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It’s Only a Movie: Batman & Spiderman Walk Into MOLLY’S GAME, But Jessica Chastain Doesn’t Cave to Superheroes

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Holy Toledo, sometimes an insider Hollywood story is so good, you see how the game is played.

Jessica Chastain in MOLLY'S GAME

Jessica Chastain in MOLLY’S GAME

So once upon a Batman, and a few-movies-ago Spiderman, the caped one and the web slinger became poker fanatics, like super fanatics, in a snake-pit-named Hollywood club’s back room, a club once owned by a Pirate. True story, plus there’s an ex-Olympic skier with the same name as a character from James Joyce’s opus “Ulysses” who ran the tables, the whole game. But in a short decade the card mania went awry, as doomed as an Irish-made ocean liner, whose lead also flipped his chips there as the face-card bash spread from LA to NYC to the FBI.

Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba in MOLLY'S GAME

Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba in MOLLY’S GAME

MOLLY’S GAME is based on the Joycean real-life Molly Bloom’s 2014 book “Molly’s Game: High Stakes, Hollywood’s Elite, Hotshot Bankers, My Life in the World of Underground Poker,” from HarperCollins. Her memoir begins circa 2004 and spans almost a decade of decadence. Lawless screen siren Jessica Chastain is die-cast as the ‘Poker Princess’ who found her mettle dealing with all the superheroes’ undesirable antics. Red is on fire in this one, shall we say.
Aaron Sorkin’s movie mostly deals with Bloom’s fight for survival with the Feds on gambling and likely racketeering charges, but Chastain also has to find an air hole in a superego’s off-screen realm where every A-Lister is vying for all the oxygen in a room where huge money stakes makes everyone a lot uglier in a hurry. As in “bark like a seal,” ugly.
Ultimately Batman and versions-ago Spiderman end up in high-profile divorces while their wronged spouses, one a movie star, the other a studio mogul’s daughter, end up vindicated. Wait, scratch that, will end up vindicated as MOLLY’S GAME is released by STX Films on Nov. 22. So tempting to say *payback is a bitch,* but you get the drift.

Jessica Chastain and Chris O'Dowd in MOLLY'S GAME

Jessica Chastain and Chris O’Dowd in MOLLY’S GAME

Again this gambit/movie comes from the deft hand of writer/director Aaron Sorkin, who literally can make a piece of paper into a smash hit. Sorkin has so many credits, though THE SOCIAL NETWORK rings a bell to most people.
Amy Pascal, ex-SONY hack now indie purveyor, lays down her aces as a producer; Idris Elba also comes into play here as memorable onscreen; with Kevin Costner taking a break from his own helming ways to add a hell of a sweet cameo. Michael Cera is the pivot point, a clue to Hollywood’s real elite players mentioned above. You gotta see this story to believe it. Bridesmaid’s Chris O’Dowd rounds out a great cast here that includes Graham Greene, Joe Keery and Rachel Skarsten.

Make Your Bets This Will Be Something of a Royal Flush

MOLLY’S GAME will open first at TIFF, Sept. 7 – 17, mark it down, dude.

Playing Pick-Up STX, Or Close to the Bone On Official Notes?

MOLLY’S GAME is based on the true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by 17 FBI agents wielding automatic weapons. Her players included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans and finally, unbeknownst to her, the Russian mob. Her only ally was her criminal defense lawyer Charlie Jaffey, who learned that there was much more to Molly than the tabloids led us to believe.

In Theaters November 22, 2017

Cast: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Chris O’Dowd, Michael Cera, Joe Keery, Rachel Skarsten, Graham Greene and Brian d’Arcy James

Director: Aaron Sorkin

Writer: Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin. Based on the memoir by Molly Bloom

Producers: Stuart M. Besser, Mark Gordon, Leopoldo Gout, Matt Jackson, Lauren Lohman, Lyn Lucibello and Amy Pascal

Social 411:
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#MollysGame

STX Entertainment Is Brave
STX Entertainment is a fully integrated, diversified, global media company designed from inception to unlock value from the 21st Century’s changed media landscape. STX specializes in the development, production, marketing and distribution of talent-driven films, television, and digital media content, with a unique ability to maximize the impact of content across worldwide, multiplatform distribution channels, including unparalleled global capabilities and direct passage into the China market.

STX Entertainment Online:
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MOLLY’S GAME fans out this loaded hand on November 22, 2017.

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Joe Bang Gives Up James Bond for Channing Tatum in Tenn., LOL, for LOGAN LUCKY

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Some good news Down South as Channing Tatum, who stars in LOGAN LUCKY directed by Steven Soderbergh, has gotten James Bond to dye his hair blonde — “Dye Another Day” would be a great 007 title — wait, that’s not real news.

JoeBangLLDC17Even though Daniel Craig’s surprise Hillbilly-meets-Okie mega-cameo as Joe Bang in this movie is quite a towhead, the real news?

Well, over a ways yonder in Tennessee the cast of LOGAN, which will be released by Bleeker Street on Aug. 18,  did some great charity work in “The Volunteer State”, also known as home of the Grand Ole Opry, Tennessee.

Tatum? Be There in Tenn... For Charity.

Tatum? Be There in Tenn… For Charity.

Btw, Tennessee got the moniker volunteer state from the 1812 War, when TN Troops under Stonewall Jackson lent a hand in the Battle of New Orleans to much fanfare in the medal category. But we digress, as last night Channing Tatum and his cast had a blast with films fans.

Always on Deck for Him Selfie & Fans.

Always on Deck for Him Selfie & Fans.

It was for a great cause, “Tennessee Benefit Screening for Variety — The Children’s Charity.” All the fun took place at the Regal Pinnacle Stadium 18 in Knoxville. What’s the movie about?

Casting Call, Lol.

Casting Call, Lol.

Good question. It’s a madcap, multi-layer, moolah-related mash-up by marauding marvelously mysterious (cast-against-type) morons. How’s that for alliteration?

Katie Holmes rips up her scenes in a movie that officially brings her back into the pack of Hollywood actors of their own merit. And it stars these cool kids: Seth MacFarlane, Riley Keough, Meg Ryan’s son Jack Quaid,  and Katherine Waterson. And kids at heart Dwight Yoakam, Sebastian Stan, Brian Gleeson, with Hilary Swank as one itch-on-wheels FBI agent but later as a lovely barfly. Riley Keough, daughter of Lisa Marie Presley and Elvis’ grandkid proves she has a big future on screen by her own lights. SNC_7184

And James Bond gives a stunning, freakish American accent attempt somewhere in the clinical lab range of a genetically engineered Hillybilly-Okie mix with enough menace to make you wonder how he’d really be in a prison riot. Plus, Soderbergh, genius director, teases us in the critic world with an “Introducing” credit for Daniel Craig, which is usually only used to debut an actor. Bond does comedy, whoa, that is new, so maybe Soderbergh isn’t completely joking on that intro.

Meanwhile Channing Tatum and Adam Driver are stellar, so weird how well both act, even with the IQ dialed down to O (for “Ozark,” hey it kind of fits in the Netflix series Americana zeitgeist).

Channing is The Man from LUCKY LOGAN in Tenn.

Channing is The Man from LOGAN LUCKY in Tenn.

Kinda wonder about the writer Rebecca Blunt on this one… Hmm. Emily Blunt’s older sister is Felicity Blunt, married to Stanley Tucci, so it can’t be her. Even IMDB suspects someone big behind this pseudonym.
Another aside, this movie makes you ask yourself what? ‘Is this the first product of Hollywood in the Trump Administration?’ And, so Soderbergh must be psychic, since this movie hits a trend of ‘Real America’ leanings. From Bleeker Street on Aug. 18, and watch for more movies to hit this rustic-icana note in the 45 Era.

Enjoy  Trailer for Team Soderbergh’s Newest Film

Official Yada on Plot

“Trying to reverse a family curse, brothers Jimmy (Channing Tatum) and Clyde Logan (Adam Driver) set out to execute an elaborate robbery during the legendary Coca-Cola 600 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.”
Not Paul Newman’s “Cool Hand Luke” Eggs, But Channing Tatum, Adam Driver & Daniel Craig Do Cool Stuff – WATCH

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh

Written by: Rebecca Blunt (as if?)

Produced by: Gregory Jacobs, Mark Johnson, Channing Tatum, Reid Carolin

Starring: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Seth MacFarlane, Riley Keough, Katie Holmes, Katherine Waterson, Dwight Yoakam, Sebastian Stan, Brian Gleeson, Jack Quaid, with Hilary Swank and introducing Daniel Craig as Joe Bang

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#LoganLucky

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Break-Up School: Joachim Lafosse’s AFTER LOVE Has Bérénice Bejo vs Cédric Kahn

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

After eons of human existence, or a short hop since the Sexual Revolution of the 1960’s, we still haven’t learned how to do two things well: Die or Divorce. Even with Gwyneth Paltrow’s co-opted “Conscious Uncoupling,” the recent so-called shock split of Chris Pratt and Anna Faris, that followed Ben & Jen, and Brangelina. Life, art, and pop culture peel back one common truth: we don’t know what to do after Love. DSC00570 ∏Fabrizio MalteseEnter a new film by director Joachim Lafosse, AFTER LOVE, pitting THE ARTIST’s Bérénice Bejo against Cédric Kahn. It’s an exploration of this very subject. And a love-letter to all the ex-es out there looking to refit the broken pieces of their domestic bliss.

Photos: Fabrizio Maltese

Photos: Fabrizio Maltese – Courtesy of Distrib Films US

No surprise this film was in the Official Selection for Directors Fortnight – Cannes Film Festival, also at Toronto International Film Festival, London Film Festival, in AFI Fest and counting. [Original title is L’Economie du couple.]AfterLove_US_poster_675x1000What They’re Officially Saying About It

“From the director of Our Children Joachim Fosse, comes the story of Boris (Cédric Kahn) and Marie (Bérénice Bejo), a couple who have decided to separate after 15 years together. They have two girls that they adore, but tensions rise as cash-strapped Boris continues to live in the family home. Neither of the two is willing to compromise, making their apartment a war zone.

AFTER LOVE captures with great magnitude, the painfully intimate, harrowingly drama, emotional and financial complexities of a separation, at the end of a long love story.”

Watch What Happens AFTER LOVE

Presented by Distrib Film US, the movie opens Weds. Aug. 9 at The Quad in New York, then (updated) Sept. 1 in LA at the Laemmle Royal, followed by San Francisco’s 4 Star Cinema and a national roll-out to follow in September.

Director Joachim Lafosse

Director Joachim Lafosse

DISTRIB FILMS U.S. SENDS US “AFTER LOVE”

DIRECTED BY: Joachim Lafosse
STARRING: Bérénice Bejo (“The Artist”) , Cédric Kahn

OFFICIAL SELECTION:
Directors Fortnight – Cannes Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, London Film Festival, AFI Fest and many more.

WEB:
http://www.distribfilmsus.com/our-movies/afterlove/

Screenplay: Mazarine Pingeot, Fanny Burdino & Joachim Lafosse
Cinematography: Jean-François Hensgens

France / Belgium – 2016 – 100min – Color – Scope – 5.1 – Not Rated – Drama. In French with English Subtitles.

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Darren Aronofsky’s Grand Guignol, Or Look Now at His MOTHER!

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent You can literally pin down three “F” words to describe nearly every Darren Aronofsky film from his early work in PI (1998) to best-loved film REQUIEM FOR A DREAM (2000) to Mickey Rourke in THE WRESTLER (2008) to Natalie Portman’s Oscar-winning turn in BLACK SWAN (2010) to obsessive Russell […]

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Que Cera, Cera? Michael Cera Resurfaces in PERSON TO PERSON Like Now

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent What do we know about 29 year-old Canadian actor Michael Cera? Well, he was 16 on hit TV show “Arrested Development” and brought that wise-old-young-man sensibility to alternative-feeling benchmark films like NICK & NORA’S INFINITE PLAYLIST and SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD. Add odd roles in JUNO with Oscar […]

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Looks Like Ben Stiller Finds Himself Again With BRAD’S STATUS

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent Hey, so Ben Stiller is back. Ignore that casual pop opening. (Smiley face.) It’s just in keeping with Stiller’s upcoming starrer from Amazon Studios, BRAD’S STATUS. You can Google up what this remade actor has been up to personally, because it shows in his work. Those are real tears, and […]

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THOR Ragnarok: Hulk Gets Some Feelings Trailer 7/22

by Screenmancer Staff Before we get hammered by THOR: RAGNAROK on Nov. 3, when Cate Blanchett does her star turn as Death incarnate, and reads Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo the riot act, we thought you might like to see the newest Marvel teaser trailer on this project. Plus she’s got a hell of a […]