Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 3:04 PM
Amy Schumer attends the Ms. Foundation Women Of Vision Gala 2014 on May 1, 2014 in New York City. (Getty Images for Ms. Foundation)

Judd Apatow, the writer/director/producer and comedy uber dude responsible in no small way for the careers of James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd and Katherine Heigl, is behind the camera in New York City right now -- directing comedian Amy Schumer in Trainwreck. Based on the Comedy Central star’s screenplay, and reportedly the story of a woman trying to put the pieces of her botched-up life together again, the film boasts an oddball aggregation of Apatow alums, indie film thesps, sports gods, rappers, Oscar nominees and, yes, Harry Potter.

Here’s a partial lineup of who’s orbiting Schumer’s character, one way or another, in the film: Brie Larson, Bill Hader, Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), Barkhad Abdi (the Oscar-nominated Somali pirate of Captain Phillips),  rapper Method Man, NBA all star LeBron James, storyteller and comic Mike Birbiglia, Marisa Tomei and Daniel Radcliffe. Although Apatow jokingly denied the Harry Potter star’s involvement in the film, a zillion cell phone photos of Radcliffe walking a mess of dogs through Central Park at exactly the spot where the Trainwreck crew happened to be shooting hit Twitter and Instagram, suggesting that the Brit, on stage on Broadway right now, does indeed have a role. Even IMDB says so.

Look for a 2015 release. Apatow's last film in an auteurial capacity was 2012's This Is 40. Schumer's famously raunchy stuff has mostly been observed on Comedy Central's Inside Amy Schumer, and other TV guestspots. Trainwreck will pretty much mark her feature film debut.
POSTED: Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 2:48 PM
"Phil? Hey, Phil? Phil! Phil Connors? Phil Connors, I thought that was you!" Stephen Tobolowsky spots Bill Murray on the street... and spots him again the same day, and the same, and the same.

Do a Google search for “Groundhog Day” and “Edge of Tomorrow” and about a quarter of a million results pop up. Just about every review and blog post about the new Tom Cruise/Emily Blunt Earth-vs-aliens war movie drew comparisons to the 1993 existential rom-com in which Bill Murray, as a smug TV weathercaster, relives the same day over and over and over again, from the time his clock radio goes off to the moment he beds down in the B&B that night.

In Edge of Tomorrow, which opened last weekend to middling box office numbers ($28.7 million -- it’s doing way better overseas), Cruise’s smug military p.r. man wakes up on a pile of duffle bags and goes off to battle intergalactic “Mimics” that have blitzkrieged their way across Europe. At some point in the action he dies, only to find himself waking up on that same pile of duffle bags to go off tofight another day. Or, more accurately, that same day. And so on.

Well, the template has been set. An  email with this in its subject field showed up in my inbox a few days ago: “PREMATURE" (Groundhog Day meets American Pie) - Opening In Theatres/VOD July 2.”

POSTED: Thursday, June 5, 2014, 7:33 AM
Brian "Astro" Bradley, Ella Wahlestedt, Reese Hartwig and Teo Halm experience an extraterrestrial sensation in "Earth to Echo."

The Philadelphia International Children’s Film Festival pitches its pup tents at the PFS Roxy Theater this weekend, offering a cool collection of animated and live-action features and shorts, mostly curated by the folks at the New York International Children’s Film Fest. Friday, June 6, kicks off with pre-release debut of Earth to Echo, an E.T.-like affair about a group of best buds who discover an alien among us--  or among them, anyway. The little being is wanted by the Feds, but the kids have other ideas. Rapper Brian “Astro” Bradley, who plays Tuck, one of the friends, will be on hand in person at the 6pm and 8pm screenings.

Other features running through Sunday, June 8, at the Roxy off of Rittenhouse Square, include:

 Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart, a French animated piece about a boy with a wind-up ticker who’s forbidden to fall in love; Patema Inverted, a Japanse anime about a princess who discovers a world of reverse physics; Anina, a Uraguayan ‘toon about a girl with a palindromic moniker and the trouble she gets into in school, and Boy and the World, from Brazil, in which a country kid treks to the big city in search of his dad.

POSTED: Wednesday, May 28, 2014, 5:20 PM
From "This Time Next Year".

The 2014 Lighthouse International Film Festival begins Thursday, June 5 and runs through Sunday, June 8 on Long Beach Island – the community devastated by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Not coincidentally, the festival’s opening night film is This Time Next Year, Jeff Reichert and co-director Farihah Zaman’s  chronicle of the Long Beach Island community’s struggle to rebuild and recover from the hurricane. Reichart s family has lived on LBI for decades, and producer Dan O'Meara is an island native. The film is the  inaugural grantee of Tribeca Film Institute's Resilient Communities Project, made possible with support from The Rockefeller Foundation; This Time Next Year was fully-funded by the grant. Reicheert directed the 2010 political doc, Gerrymandering.

Also on the LIFF program this year:

Fort Tilden, Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers’ comedic indie feature about  NYC hipster quarter-lifers looking for sand and surf in the title locale – a waterfront state park tucked away in Queens. Fort Tilden won rave reviews, not to mention the grand prize, at the South By Southwest Film Festival in March.  

Evolution of a Criminal, Darius Clark Monroe’s first-person doc, detailing how, as  a 16-year-old from a struggling Houston family, he robbed a bank and went to prison. The graduated from college and attended NYU's Graduate Film program. Evolution of a Criminal is the grand prize winner of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.
POSTED: Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 5:17 PM
Actor David Oyelowo will star as the Civil Rights leader in A Martin Luther King Jr., biopic. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Selma, a dramatization of one of the pivotal chapters in the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. – his 1965 campaign for voting rights – is in production, with the British-born David Oyelowo as the Civil Rights icon. The casting has a nice symmetry to it: In  2013’s Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Oyelowo (pronounced oh-yellow-oh) played White House butler Cecil Gaines’ son. Tensions between father and son mount through the film, with Oyelowo’s character becoming increasingly radicalized, going from a Freedom Rider to a follower of Martin Luther King, and then a Black Panther.

Ava DuVernay, the first African-American woman to win the Best Director Prize at Sundance Film Festival, for her second feature, Middle of Nowhere, in 2012, is helming, with Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King, and Tom Wilkisnon as President Lyndon Johnson (how’s Bryan Cranston feel about that?). Actor and rapper Common also has a role. Plan B, the production company behind 12 Years a Slave (with Brad Pitt  as one of its principals) is co-producing along with Oyelow's Butler co-star, Oprah Winfrey. There’s a chance, says industry blogger Anne Thompson (Thompson On Hollywood), that Selma could be shot, cut and soundtracked in time for the key fall film fests -- Toronto, Telluride, New York.

POSTED: Thursday, May 15, 2014, 10:21 AM
Tom Hardy is Ivan Locke in "Locke." (a24 Films)

Tom Hardy gives the kind of performance in Locke, the one-man drama currently playing at the Ritz Bourse, that you can’t help but take notice of. And clearly, Kathryn Bigelow --the Oscar-winning director of The Hurt Locker and the Osama bin Laden hunt pic, Zero Dark Thirty -- has. Variety announced Thursday that the English actor and the American filmmaker will team on an adaptation of Anand Giridharadas’ just-published True American: Murder & Mercy In Texas. A post-9/11 horror tale, the book is about Raisuddin Bhuiyan, a Bangladesh Air Force officer who moved to America, planning to work in the technology field, to make a new life. But in the days after the hijacked jets crashed into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, an avowed "American terrorist" named Mark Stroman, looking to avenge the Al Qaeda attacks, walked into the Dallas minimart where Bhuiyan had found temporary work, shooting him and nearly killing him. Stroman killed two other victims, at other gas stations, that same day.

Bigelow’s film will traek the paths of these two very different men, and what happens to them in the aftermath of the shooting. Hardy is set to star as Stroman. No word on the casting of the Bhuiyan role.

Hardy has The Drop, a crime thriller with Noomi Rapace and the late James Gandolfini, coming in September, and Child 44, a murder story set in the Stalin-era Soviet Union, also slated for release. And he’s going to delve deep into the soul of Elton John in Rocketman, a biopic of the flamboyant rock singer and songsmith.

POSTED: Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 5:01 PM
Bob Hoskins goes toe-to-toe with curvaceous cartoon Jessica Rabbit in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit."

Bob Hoskins, the English actor known for his roles as a soft-hearted ex-con in the great crime pic Mona Lisa, as the hardboiled detective who falls for a cartoon femme fatale in the breakthrough live-action/animated hit Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and as the pirate sidekick Smee in Steven Spielberg’s Hook, died Tuesday, April 29, in London. He was 71 and had retired from acting in 2012, after appearing as one of the dwarves in the Kristen Stewart fantasy, Snow White and the Huntsman. (Hoskins was Muir, the blind dwarf, his face and body digitally transmuted.)

Hoskins, the son of a teacher and a truck driver, left school at 15 and worked odd jobs. A decade later, in one of those legendary “discovery” tales, he accompanied a friend to a London audition and ended up getting handed a script, and then the part. Theater work led to TV, and in 1972, when he was almost 30, he was cast in his first film, as a recruiting sergeant in the Frankie Howerd comedy Up the Front. In 1978 he won the lead in the brilliant BBC adaptation of the Dennis Potter musical, Pennies from Heaven, nominated for best actor by BAFTA, the British Academy for Film and Television Arts.

Must-see Hoskins titles include The Long Good Friday, the 1980 John Mackenzie film in which the old school Cockney played an old-school gangster looking to go “legit,” working opposite Helen Mirren; Mona Lisa (1986), with Hoskins, Oscar-nominated, as an ex-con assigned to chauffeur around a call girl (Cathy Tyson), only to discover he’s fallen for her and wants to protect her, Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Robert Zemeckis’ homage to Hollywood noir, in which Hoskins acted, and interacted, with a bunch of cartoon characters, and the tough, under-seen troubled-youth boxing pic, Shane Meadows' Twenty Four Seven (1997). Hoskins brought heft to portrayals of historical figures Nikita Kruschev (Enemy at the Gates), Winston Churchill (World War II: When Lions Roared)  and J. Edgar Hoover (Oliver Stone’s Nixon). He was an unlikely leading man opposite Cher in 1990’s Mermaids, and a go-to character actor for the likes of Spielberg, Terry Gilliam (in Brazil) and Fred Schepisi (Last Orders).

Hoskins tried his hand at directing, too, debuting, in 1988, with The Raggedy Rawny, about an Army deserter who joins a band of gypsies, and then, in 1995, the children’s fantasy, Rainbow. Hoskins was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2011. He died from complications of pneumonia.

POSTED: Thursday, April 24, 2014, 7:58 AM
Bryn Mawr Film Institute 824 W. Lancaster Ave

The Bryn Mawr Film Institute, the second largest member-supported art house in the country (7,000-plus and counting), celebrates its grand “reopening” on Sunday, April 27, with the formal dedication of the cinema complex and its two new state-of-the-art, wall-to-wall screened digital theaters. While the two new houses, each with 165 seats in tiered stadium-style rows, have been up and running since the end of January, Sunday’s festivities (music, dancing, food, fun – and films, of course) mark the official debut..

The Main Line movie mecca, which began its life in 1926 as The Seville, an opulent cinema palace, has become a go-to destination for area film lovers, whether they be members of the BMFI or not. On Friday, April 25, the programming lineup includes Wes Anderson’s hit The Grand Budapest Hotel, the Mumbai love story The Lunchbox, the holocaust drama, Walking With the Enemy, starring Sir Ben Kingsley (the British actor is a BMFI board member), Le Week-End  and the documentary gem, Finding Vivian Maier.

With the addition of the two new houses -- the end-point of a three-phase, nine-year, $10 million restoration and expansion drive – “our programming opportunities have vastly increased,” says Juliet Goodfriend, the BMFI’s tireless executive director. On top of its regular theatrical runs, BMFI books numerous special events, film courses, repertory programs and other screenings.

About this blog

Steven Rea has been an Inquirer movie critic since 1992. He was born in London, raised in New York City, and has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Iowa City, Iowa. His column, "On Movies," appears Sundays in Arts & Entertainment, his reviews appear in the Weekend section on Fridays, and his blog, On Movies Online, can be found here. He is a member of the National Society of Film Critics.

Steven Rea's previous blog posts can be found here. Read his most recent columns and reviews, here. He is the author of the book “Hollywood Rides a Bike,” and also curates the movie stars and bicycling photo blog, Rides A Bike.

Reach Steven at srea@phillynews.com.

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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