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ClooneyVen2017

Not Seeing Double, Clooney Has Twins & Two Bros Coen movie SUBURBICON

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Guess what George Clooney and wife Amal named their twins? Romulus and Screamus. Just kidding, actually they have normal names: Ella (think Fitzgerald) and Alexander. But that’s old news. The breaking news is the images coming out of the Venice International Film Festival. It’s not kid pics so much as the SUBURBICON photo call and red carpet shots.

SUBURBICON is Clooney’s new adventure in filmmaking. It stars Matt Damon as a misfit in the ‘burbs who finds out life is not little pink houses, but ticky tacky tract-house hell. Gardner Lodge (Damon) gets the crap beaten out of him in this Coen Brothers recycle on a script dating back to March 27, 2007. But there’s a serious note.

Back then it was a 113 pages of pure unproduced Coen comedy mischief. Now it is just marvelous as Clooney joins the screenplay credit with the Grant Heslov magic, also thrown in as a producer. Julianne Moore co-stars with Oscar Isaac, who is always thrilling to watch on screen. Robert “Bob” Elswit is the DP many people will recognize, and Joel Silver’s company is on the credits with Clooney’s Smoke House Pictures.

Here’s a few more photos from Venice hot off the red carpet, and as elegant in their opposition to suburban life in America as one can possibly get. Released by Paramount, SUBURBICON is in theaters October 27, 2017. Make sure to catch it, this vintage Coen retool.

Here’s Your Inside Look at Venice’s Screener of SUBURBICON

Directed by: George Clooney

Starring: Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Noah Jupe and Oscar Isaac

Suburbicon is a peaceful, idyllic suburban community with affordable homes and manicured lawns…the perfect place to raise a family, and in the summer of 1959, the Lodge family is doing just that. But the tranquil surface masks a disturbing reality, as husband and father Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) must navigate the town’s dark underbelly of betrayal, deceit, and violence. This is a tale of very flawed people making very bad choices. This is Suburbicon.

Facebook: SuburbiconMovie  Twitter: @SuburbiconMovie

Instagram: @SuburbiconMovie

#Suburbicon

Paramount will release Suburbicon on Oct. 27, 2017, and the 74th Venice International Film Festival runs through Sept. 9. Find out more about Venezia here.

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That’s Not Just Our Opinion, Man: Jeff Bridges Aced American Riviera Award Night

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

When the Lebowski Fest comes to Los Angeles on March 3, you’ll see why Jeff Bridges is so linked to The Dude from that movie, but last night for the American Riviera Award in Santa Barbara, folks got to see for themselves. At the Arlington Theater, moderated by The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg, it was practically a Love-In. JeffScottThe honoree showed up with his wife of 40 years, “my sweetheart” Susan Geston, and his two children. HELL OR HIGH WATER producer Julie Yorn attended with actor Gil Birmingham from their film, who also presented Jeff with the award.

Feinberg, who is a pro at moderating star events like this, opened with “The Dude” questions which segued into Bridges admitting  “what kid wants to do what their parents do?” In alluding to father Lloyd Bridges, the son of this acting dynasty (that includes brother Beau), revealed that early success with an Oscar nod for Peter Bogdanovich’s game-changer movie THE LAST PICTURE SHOW did not assuage his personal doubts about being in the profession.

He said the issues came from “caring how you’re perceived.” But finally he came to the revelation that “the feeling of being scared never goes away, and that it’s all about changing your relationship with that feeling.”
In the sit-down with Feinberg, the Oscar winner also revealed that it was in 1975’s RANCHO DELUXE that future-wife Susan Geston rejected his early advances, but that he persisted and later got her to dance with him at her then boyfriend’s concert. Perfect move for The Dude, and four decades later, it’s still very much on.JeffWife17
Hollywood Reporter’s star moderator then waded into legendary film history territory on the topic of case-study Hollywood box office bomb, HEAVEN’S GATE. This line of questioning is more than timely, considering Bridges’ main female co-star in that picture is none other than fellow Oscar nominee for 2017, Isabelle Huppert. Huppert was also honored this year in Santa Barbara. So this year has capped a lot of full circles in the life of both actors, and certainly in their star-crossed paths in Award Season.

When Michael Cimino’s highly touted GATE opened to crickets at the box office, both critically and financially, Top 10 Lists began to sprout up everywhere for the next several decades about what went wrong with the production. Den of Geek, a fan site for excruciatingly pithy lists and sublists, has the best round-up to this day (see link below). The bullet points include “Cimino made everybody wait for the clouds to roll by,” and “The Cast Spent Six Weeks Learning How To Roller Skate.” Jeff Bridges is seen losing his lunch while roller skating, part of this storied film. Bridges recalled that the day after it opened, when reviewers flambé prose scorched the film down to its credits, his most memorable critic reaction was: “If you shave [director Michael] Cimino’s head, you would find three sixes.”
Then it was back to THE BIG LEBOWSKI, which was panned early to low box office in the US. Bridges related that it had to hit in Europe before it became today’s beloved cult hit. And of course, no surprise, Jeff Bridges has a favorite line too: “well that’s just, your opinion, man.”JeffJohnLBemem17

From there is was talk about his Oscar winning turn in CRAZY HEART, how he passed on the script initially because “the script was pretty good, but there was no music.” Luckily, doing a proverbial “film about music” was a “dream” for him. “When it’s in the dream state, you’re kinda safe, but when you try to really do it, there’s that chance of failure.” Producer T Bone Burnett, his longtime fellow musician and friend, gave him the script a second time, and said “I’ll do it if you do it.”

Then he delved into the remake of John Wayne classic “True Grit.” If it hadn’t been for the Coen Bros, also directors of Lebowski, and their unique twist on that script, Jeff might not have done it.

Finally the conversation caught up to Award Season 2017, his nominated performance in HELL OR HIGH WATER, which was originally titled “Comancheria” when it opened at the Cannes Film Festival last year. JeffScott17With a nod to his presenter of the evening, Gil Birmingham, Bridges confided that they bonded so well because Gil also is passionate about music. So they spent a fair amount of time trading guitar licks during the filming. On a heavy note, Jeff saluted Texas Ranger Joaquin Jackson, now deceased, who was his consultant on HELL OR HIGH WATER.

JeffGilIn closing, and on a high note for the evening, Jeff Bridges shared his 30 year commitment to feeding hungry children as a personal mission, and said, in Dude-like fashion, “We’re all in this together,” man.

For more information about HELL OR HIGH WATER, how to view it, see the Oscar-nominated film’s official website. Jeff Bridges Diehard Dude fans can find more about the Lebowski Fest from this link. (Editor’s Note: Den of Geek priceless Heaven’s Gate list is here, ps.)

More about SBIFF, which hands out the American Riviera Award among other tributes, can be found at sbiff.org.

The American Riviera Award was established to recognize actors who have made a significant contribution to American Cinema. Bridges will join a prestigious group of past recipients, including last year’s honorees Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, and Mark Ruffalo (2016), Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke (2015), Robert Redford (2014), Quentin Tarantino (2013) and Martin Scorsese (2012), Annette Bening (2011), Sandra Bullock (2010), Mickey Rourke (2009), Tommy Lee Jones (2008), Forrest Whitaker (2007), Philip Seymour Hoffman (2006), Kevin Bacon (2005) and Diane Lane (2004).

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From The Last Tycoon to Woody Allen’s Café Society: Why We Love Stories About Hollywood

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

Woody Allen’s newest film Café Society just opened July 15, and it fits into a cinematic history of stories about Hollywood that audiences love. But Woody Allen himself has been a lightning rod for so long, the electricity generated off the attendant controversies could power a small town. That said, we’re talking about a movie, folks, not the personal life of the director. CoreyBlakeWoody16With that caveat, Café Society will also be the movie that repositions Blake Lively as one of the most faceted young talents to come forward from the shadows of her contemporaries, including Kristen Stewart who, with romantic co-conspirator Jesse Eisenberg, stars in the film about “1930’s New York and Hollywood with a kaleidoscopic cast of characters that range from movie stars to millionaires, playboys to professors, and working girls and wise guys.” That’s a press kit quote, just to set up the anatomy of the picture.

This is the third pairing of Stewart and Eisenberg, from Adventureland (2009) and American Ultra (2015). Eisenberg is Bobby Dorfman, whose screen mother is legendary comedian Elaine May’s real-life daughter Jeannie Berlin. He is surrounded by excellent performances by Corey Stoll (House of Cards) as his thug brother Ben and Steve Carell as Phil, the Hollywood honcho uncle who is the narrative pivot that brings him to Golden Era Hollywood and into the plot involving his nubile assistant Vonnie played by Kristen Stewart. Blake Lively is the proverbial “beautiful socialite” who charms Eisenberg’s Bobby into another plot twist, but ultimately redefines brand Blake Lively. CafeSocFR1sht16Three minutes of screen time and you wonder how Lively is the same floozy in Ben Affleck’s The Town made over into an ethereal layered gamine-like presence. Oh, that’s right, one of the greatest living directors in the world is the human puppet-master here. Parker Posey also becomes the scenes she inhabits as Rad, half of a sympathetic couple for Bobby Dorfman in this Jazz Age confection. But Kristen Stewart is playing closest to life-meets-art here, involved with a married older man (Steve Carell), in a doppleganger life that could have been hers off-screen if she’d married Rupert Sanders, the seducer/director of Snow White who almost ruined her career. Hey, he was the grown-up. If nothing else, Café Society should remind us to give Stewart a pass, give this very gifted performer a clean slate for not having taken the sell-out path her character Vonnie takes. KstewWoodyJesse
Allen’s only misstep here is casting his own voice as narrator, because unlike Michael Gambon who thrills as voiceover-of-God in the Coen Bros’ concurrent release Hail Caesar!, Woody has a noticeable waver that distracts from Café Society’s seamlessness. But let’s allow the director to defend his choice on this. “I put myself in because I knew exactly how I wanted the words to be inflected,” Woody Allen explains, “I figured that since I wrote the ‘book’, it would be like I was reading a novel.”

“When I wrote the script, I structured it like a novel. As in a book, you stop a little while in this movie and see a scene with the protagonist with his girlfriend, a scene with his parents, followed by a scene with his sister or gangster brother, a scene with Hollywood wheeler-dealers, and then the café society with politicians, debutantes, playboys, and the people cheating on their wives or shooting their husbands. To me it was always a story not of one person but of everybody.”

Which is the perfect description of Francis Ford Coppola’s classic 1984 film The Cotton Club, starring Diane Lane and Richard Gere — but with much more music and impasto in the plot. The Cotton Club’s Gere then shows up, years later in Chicago, a musical homaging the period once again, but with velvet tasseled camp. These are favorite elements of the genre in other words. But this is not the Fred McMurray Café Society of 1939, either, about a spoiled socialite who runs off with a reporter and finds shipboard love. Caf19381sht16Even Sunset Boulevard captures the period in its periphery, because we love the stories that tell stories about Hollywood behind the scenes. Café Society is essentially entering the horse race classics of cinema history, in other words. Woody Allen is not alone, as mentioned, the Coen Bros are also in silks this year. Speaking of George Clooney-topper Hail Caesar!, far from Barton Fink, this latest saga includes capers, kidnapping, and a Communist plot — more Busby Berkeley gets high, than the non-ironic homage that Allen offers — also more fun. Yet 40 years ago, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Elia Kazan-Sam Spiegel film The Last Tycoon (1976), starring Robert De Niro and based on the unfinished novel, is more in the neighborhood of the kind of film Allen makes here, without the deep, rending sorrow of Tycoon.

So in a way, Woody Allen is harking back to a period he knows a great deal about, including being acutely aware of what has been produced in the past to reflect it. Referencing venue “The Cotton Club,” once located at 142nd St. in Harlem, Allen admits “that era has always fascinated me. It was one of the most exciting times in the history of the city, with tremendous theater life, café life, and restaurants. Up and down the line, wherever you were, the whole island was jumping with nighttime sophisticated activities.”

The word “tremendous” seems to be his go-to, and in the Woody Allen style of filmmaking, let’s insert a ‘knee play’ here, just to set up the backstory behind the press screening, because like a fascinating scene, it begs remembering.

On the night Café Society is screened in Santa Monica, the heavyweights, the veterans, take their scattered seats for the private showing. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times is doing his ritual pre-film separating of the pages in his archetypal Reporter’s Notebook, so the page turning won’t make noise during the show; Leonard Maltin strolls in to join his wife, who has been conducting some future business on one of his engagements on speaker-phone. The speaker-phone conversation is a mini-plot point in itself, which speaks directly to the intimacy of this gathering. There’s the venerable “sea of gray hair,” but also two younger reporters trading barbs to lessen the palpable tension. In a sense, this audience tells you everything you need to know about the difficulty in reviewing a film whose writer-director is still, shall we say, radio-active in the media.

You kind of live a story behind the story in your plush seat in a storied private Dick Clark Screening Room showing, just like the plot twists in Café Society. Woody Allen. Those two words have produced a lot of art and shaped a lot of lives, mine included, from seeing Annie Hall through Blue Jasmine to one of my favorites, Melinda and Melinda (Radha Mitchell, also with Steve Carrell).MelindaBridge16
In fact, there’s the same bridge scene locale used in Melinda in Café Society. CafeSocUS1sht16 The press kit includes every single title Allen has ever made, a gentle reminder of his gravitas. Then you make up your own mind about the whole panoply of issues, and watch for personal reasons… because you love the movies.

Café Society, written and directed by Woody Allen, is distributed by Amazon Studios and Lionsgate, for showtimes in a limited roll-out visit http://www.cafesocietymovie.com.

Café Society is A Woody Allen film

Directed and Written by Woody Allen

Produced by Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum, and Edward Walson

Starring Jeannie Berlin, Steve Carell, Jesse Eisenberg, Blake Lively, Parker Posey, Kristen Stewart, Corey Stoll, and Ken Stott

 

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