The Toronto Film Festival got off to a strong start with Bill Condon‘s penetrating and thought-provoking The Fifth Estate, the story of WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange. But it’s not a dry procedural or recital of recent headlines. This riveting drama is a character study of a narcissistic personality out of control, a man not afraid to leak everyone else’s secrets but his own. Benedict Cumberbatch, who can do no wrong lately, is brilliant as Assange. And Daniel Bruhl, who plays his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg, clearly is going to have a problem this awards season: He’s not only absolutely terrific in this role, he’s equally great in Ron Howard’s Rush which premieres here Sunday. When I told him right after the film he was going to be the breakout star of this festival, he just laughed. But take my word, this guy is the real deal and this is his year — if these two stirring supporting turns don’t cannibalize each other. As the film credits finished, Bruhl came up and hugged Condon, throwing superlatives his way. Bruhl had only previously seen a very rough cut of the film and was blown away by the final results.
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He should be. This film is reminiscent of the great political thrillers of the 1970s. Most will probably compare it to the recent The Social Network, since it deals with the Internet and all its possibilities, but it is far more akin to the social dramas that defined ’70s Hollywood filmmaking. In fact, let me go out on a limb: This is the best film of its kind to hit the screen since All The President’s Men in 1976. Condon’s direction is reminiscent of the style employed by Alan Pakula in that film and others from the era like The Parallax View and Klute. And it moves like a freight train. Naysayers may quibble with the dense storyline but the acting is uniformly excellent (David Thewlis, Stanley Tucci and Laura Linney are other standouts). Where The Fifth Estate succeeds so strongly is in taking a fluid ripped-from-the-headlines story and making it timeless. Unlike last year’s Zero Dark Thirty, which had to completely rework its story when Osama bin Laden was suddenly captured and killed, this film is a complete character study and won’t be judged by ever-changing events. Some people may not care and that’s their problem but hopefully there’s an audience out there for a smart adult drama like this, but what you take away from it could depend what, from your own experience, you bring to it. I know this much: As a study of a person whose whole world view revolves only around themselves, this is as good as it gets. Assange has, sight unseen, already dismissed the film, but in a clever coda the movie even addresses that criticism. That’s how smart this thing is. Read More »
DreamWorks Studios has tapped Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines) to helm its post-WWI set lit adaptation The Light Between Oceans. Author M.L. Stedman’s debut novel and international … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Who says jury duty is a waste of time? DreamWorks is negotiating right now with Fuji TV for remake rights to the Japanese film Like Father, Like Son (Soshite Chichi Ni Naru). The catalyst for the deal: … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks has just acquired Noble Assassin, based on a book proposal by Paul Kix. They’ve also attached Jane Eyre helmer Cary Fukunaga to direct. It’s the war-time story of French aristocrat-turned-anti-Nazi-Saboteur Robert de la Rochefoucauld, who joined … Read More »
The Indian actor has been cast in DreamWorks‘ adaptation of Richard C. Morais’ best-seller. Om Puri has starred in dozens of films during his four-decade career but probably is best known stateside for East Is … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks is in talks with the estate of author John Steinbeck to make a new version of The Grapes Of Wrath. The novel was turned into a classic 1940 film by John Ford, the director who … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In a pre-holiday week Friday night deal, DreamWorks is pre-emptively acquiring The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig, a poet and short story writer. It is the first of a trilogy, and Carla Hacken is attached to be producer, one of the first deals for the former exec who signed a producing deal with the studio. The book circulated in manuscript form. The plot: 400 years after a nuclear apocalypse, society is left without technology and all humans are twins. One of each pair is physically perfect, and they are called Alphas, while the other, the Omega, bears some mutation. The apartheid society forces the mutated twins to settlements, even though when one twin dies, so does the other. This is the relationship between a brother and sister twin, and what happens when he becomes a leader in the repressed society. I’m told the author has sketched out the other two books for buyers, and they are confident there is a solid trilogy here. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Jason Hall was marked an A-list screenwriter the moment DreamWorks and Warner Bros joined forces after Steven Spielberg agreed to direct Bradley Cooper in American Sniper, based on the life of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. Not surprisingly, both studios want more from Hall. Warner Bros has just closed a blind script deal with him, and I’ve learned that DreamWorks is in early talks to have Hall adapt the upcoming David Finkel book Thank You For Your Service, about the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder syndrome that is becoming a major issue for vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s something Spielberg likes as a potential project down the line, though that is all early days.
I sought out Hall because I find it instructive to see how a guy with one screen credit (2009′s Spread) and another coming (an adaption of the Joseph Finder novel Paranoia) gets white-hot so quickly. Every writer’s trajectory is different, but there’s a common thread: there is no such thing as an overnight success screenwriter. It’s years of struggle to find a voice, and then maybe a lucky break. Hall came to Hollywood to be an actor, and only found his way to screenwriting because things were going so badly. “I did TV parts in Buffy The Vampire Slayer and other shows, playing the bad guy or the MacGuffin bad guy, with the half-baked mustache,” Hall told me. “I would read these terrible movie scripts, and I couldn’t get auditions. I thought, maybe I could write a terrible script for myself, but they wouldn’t even let me audition when I did that. My first script, I remember this funny lawyer telling me I was getting more than Ben and Matt did at the beginning. This producer says, I know you want to act in this, but what if I told you Milos Forman wanted to direct this, with someone else?” Still in full actor mode, Hall was direct: “I remember being in the lobby of The Four Seasons, and saying a little too loud, ‘Milos Forman can go fuck himself!’ So that went away, and then I wrote another script about a blind wrestler. I wrestled since I was a kid, and there are these great blind wrestlers who compete up to nationals. I’ve wrestled them, and you have to keep your hands on them at all times, and if you separate the ref blows the whistle and connects you again. Some of these guys are really good. So I’m ready to play this blind wrestler, and John Dahl is interested and says to me, this is perfect for Matt Damon. And I said, ‘Matt Damon can go fuck himself!’ And that went away.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks is setting Lasse Hallstrom to direct The Hundred-Foot Journey, an adaptation of the Richard C. Morais novel about the rivalry between an Indian restaurant that is 100 feet away from a three-Michelin-star restaurant in France. … Read More »
Disney announced today that the release date for DreamWorks’ Wikileaks movie The Fifth Estate has moved to October 11, more than a month earlier than its initial November 15 date. And Delivery Man has moved … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks is firming up a January production start for Glimmer, and a big reason for that is so that it will allow some scheduling room for Dylan O’Brien to play the lead. Jeremy Allen White also … Read More »
Via its arrangement with David Garrett’s Mister Smith Entertainment, DreamWorks has steadily been adding to its portfolio of offshore partners. Today’s news is that it’s pacted with the Hadida brothers’ indie powerhouse Metropolitan Filmexport in France. It’s also entered a deal with Inter-Film for Ukraine and a multi-picture agreement with MediaPro for Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. Here’s the release: Read More »
BREAKING: DreamWorks and Warner Bros will team on Steven Spielberg‘s next film American Sniper, with Bradley Cooper aboard to star in the autobiography of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. Cooper optioned the book himself, along with … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks just closed a deal for Las Madres, a comic pitch for a script that will be written by Lona Williams. Scott Stuber will produce. The logline: Three friends, who have recently found themselves unemployed, … Read More »
Jeffrey Katzenberg has revealed his latest film project, Tibet Code, an Indiana-Jones-style adventure based on a series of Chinese novels set in 9th-century Tibet. The DreamWorks Animation CEO announced the project, a co-production with Oriental DreamWorks’ Chinese partners, China … Read More »
BREAKING: DreamWorks Studios and Participant Media have acquired feature film rights to the story of the Catholic Church’s decades-long cover-up of its pedophile priests in Massachusetts. The scandal was uncovered by a year-long investigation by the … Read More »
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
Sundance Selects scored in the specialty arena this weekend, opening Gimme The Loot at its IFC Center in Greenwich Village with a solid $23,400. The movie, which IFC Films’ Sundance Selects label picked up last year out of the SXSW Film Festival, reported sold-out screenings Friday and Saturday nights, boosted by Q&As with former The Daily Show personality Wyatt Cenac. It premiered at MoMA on Tuesday with Sofia Coppola, Mike Birbiglia , Elizabeth Olsen, and Josh Safdie among the attendees. Loot next weekend will head to Chicago’s Music Box, L.A.’s NuArt and the Jacob Burns Center in Upstate New York. The Weinstein Company launched Cannes 2012 entrant The Sapphires in 4 NYC/LA theaters with a decent $10,232 average. Among other openers, Paladin debuted My Brother The Devil with two runs, averaging just over $6K. Starbuck is an original that DreamWorks Sudios is adapting to star Vince Vaughn. It was a hit at home north of the border, but opened comparatively quietly here, averaging $5,482 in three theaters. Next month, distributor eOne will take it to the top 30 to 50 markets. Archstone’s A Resurrection took in $7,250 at a single cinema. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Dreamworks has set Nikolaj Arcel to direct Rebecca, a remake of the 1940 Alfred Hitchcock film. The picture, which has a script draft by Eastern Promises scribe Steven Knight, is being produced by Working Title … Read More »