Two years ago Quentin Tarantino’s Venice jury gave his ex-girlfriend Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere the top prize Golden Lion. An uproar followed and the film did not figure in that year’s awards season. This year’s Lido scandal turns around Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, a picture that rocked, and then haunted, Venice last Saturday and which was widely expected to take home the top prize tonight. But a funny thing happened on the way to the Sala Grande: Kim Ki-duk’s highly-regarded Pieta won the Golden Lion as word spread that the film was not the jury’s first choice. “The jury basically came to a consensus that the Golden Lion was going to The Master,” I’m told. At the same time, the panel was also fixated on the best actor prize being split between that film’s stars, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix. But the rules threw a wrench into the overall plans. Speaking to the press after the awards, jury chairman Michael Mann reportedly said ultimately the best way to give The Master “its fullest recognition,” was to give it the directing prize and the double acting prize. It also ended up effectively giving the film an unprecedented 3 awards.
Anderson, who told a Toronto press conference he was “thrilled with whatever they want to hand over,” was awarded the best directing Silver Lion and the actors got the Volpi Cup, but the festival leans away from giving … Read More »
The closing of the 69th Venice Film Festival this evening was awash in scandal, and the preamble to the prizes appears to have had its share of confusion as well. Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master took the most kudos with the Silver Lion for directing and a shared best actor Volpi Cup for Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix. However, a person close to the process confirms to Deadline that the jury originally wanted to give the top prize Golden Lion to The Master, but the panel was hampered by rules that don’t allow for one film to be too heavily weighted. So, tonight, the Golden Lion was given to South Korea’s Kim Ki-duk for redemption story Pieta. That film was very well-received during the festival and indeed was the one that most considered a challenger to The Master. But it’s a scandal this does not reflect the Venice jury’s true intent.
Meanwhile, at the Lido’s Sala Grande tonight, the jury mixed up the Silver Lion for best director and the special jury prize between The Master and Ulrich Seidl’s absurdist religious tale Paradise: Faith. Ultimately, it was Anderson who won the Silver Lion and Paradise: Faith which snagged the jury prize. Hoffman had just jetted in from Toronto, and had already said his thanks for the jury prize on behalf of Anderson, before bouncing back up to the stage to collect the Lion when the mistake was noted. He had also accepted the acting awards on his and Phoenix’s behalf.
Hadas Yaron took the Volpi Cup for best actress in Rama Burshtein’s Israeli arranged marriage drama Fill The Void. Olivier Assayas won for best screenplay for his 1970s-set French film Après Mai. Daniele Cipri was recognized for technical achievement for Italy’s E Stato Il Figlio and Fabrizio Falco was named best emerging talent for the same film.
Toronto’s film festival isn’t content to do just one, or even two, major gala premieres a night like, say, Cannes. No, it has about 10 of them and Friday night was really buzzing with at least four major ‘must-see’ events all coinciding. Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master premiered in North American to a sold-out crowd at the massive Princess Of Wales theatre and sparked lots of immediate Oscar talk just like in Venice. (The Master And Joaquin Phoenix Draw Raves.) The acting from Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, particularly in a killer scene near the end, doesn’t get much better than this. And controversy about whether it really is – or isn’t – about the beginnings of Scientology will only spark more interest. But with the Oscar season just getting going in earnest, a lot of contenders are finally emerging.
Just as it did in its sneak previews in Telluride, Ben Affleck’s Argo killed in Toronto at its official World Premiere Friday at the Roy Thomson Hall. And why not? After all, some of the plot revolves around the Canadians helping to shelter 6 Americans from the radical Iranians who held nearly 60 others hostage for well over a year in 1979. And the Warner Bros brass turned out in force seeing the film receive a highly enthusiastic standing ovation. That included Jeff Robinov, Sue Kroll, Dan Fellman who know they have a likely hit on their hands.
At the after-party, director/star Affleck told me this was one of the best screenings he has ever had for a movie. “They got every reference and recognized all the Canadian names we put in there,” he said. After the highs of the Fall festival circuit, Affleck is just hoping filmgoers turn out when it opens October 12th. “I am doing something I haven’t done for a movie in years and hitting many different cities to promote the film,” he told me. Read More »
Some people are still parsing Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, but it’s emerging as a favorite among festgoers and the press here in Venice. Of 8 films that have officially screened, Anderson’s lush post-war relationship opus, set against the backdrop of a religion that resembles Scientology, has received the best score in a festival poll of over 20 critics. An industry exec told me they still felt “haunted” by it 24 hours after viewing. The Master debuts in Toronto on Friday and the Golden Lion awards here are on Saturday. So, should it prevail, it will be interesting to see if anyone from the film returns to the Lido.
Still, Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise: Faith, an absurdist look at religion, has its fans as do Russian infidelity story Betrayal by Kirill Serebrennikov and Israeli family drama Fill The Void by Rama Burshtein. Carlos director Olivier Assayas’ Something In The Air screened this morning for press and has so far generated encouraging, if not overwhelming, notices. And then there’s Terrence Malick’s To The Wonder, which polarized audiences and critics after its Sunday bow here.
A fest-circuit vet opines jury president Michael Mann is “very down to earth” and thinks he leans towards “mainstream” movies, “I can’t see him … Read More »
Paul Thomas Anderson called The Master a “love story” between its two lead characters and addressed the issue of Scientology and its relationship to the film at a press conference in Venice this afternoon. The movie screened this morning and certainly calls to mind the controversial religion, but Anderson said it wasn’t the “whale in the room” that people thought. He said he based Philip Seymour Hoffman‘s character, Lancaster Dodd, in part on Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard, but added, “I really don’t know a whole hell of a lot about Scientology.” He also confirmed that he had shown the film to Hollywood’s most famous Scientologist, Tom Cruise, whom Anderson directed to an Oscar nomination in Magnolia. “Yes, I showed it to him. We’re still friends and the rest is between us,” he deadpanned.
The Master‘s stars, Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix, were also present at the standing room only press conference – Hoffman more so than Phoenix who chain-smoked on the dais, didn’t answer any questions and disappeared for a few minutes in the middle. Harvey … Read More »
A Venice Film Festival audience lined up starting at about 8 AM today to catch the first press screening of Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. The packed house was hushed throughout the entirety of the film with only a handful of walkouts. Although immediate reaction following the screening was enormously positive, applause when the credits rolled was muted. After sitting through 2 hours of a gorgeous yet emotionally grueling and difficult-to-decipher picture, folks say they’re still parsing the movie. As one industryite and self-professed fan of Anderson’s work said to me this morning, “I would have preferred if it moved from Point A to Point B, not because I’m illiterate about film or need signposts along the way, but it seems to keep circling around.” An across-the-board consensus, however, is that Joaquin Phoenix should earn a Best Actor Oscar nomination. His portrayal of a disturbed World War II veteran Navy man is disturbing itself for the masterful way he embodies such an enigmatic character.
The Weinstein Company releases The Master on September 14th in the U.S., and sneak screenings around the country have resulted in largely glowing reviews. Curiously, a scene that was part of one of the original trailers for The Master — in which Phoenix’s Freddie Quell screams at Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Lancaster Dodd, aka The Master: “I know you’re trying to calm me down, but just say something that’s true!” — was not in the version screened in Venice this morning. Nor was a scene in which Quell is being questioned about “an incident.”
Anderson is known for operatic tales, whether set against the backdrop of the porn industry, the San Fernando Valley during a frog storm, or the Southern California oil boom. But this one will be a tougher sell to audiences not used to the director’s work. The movie has been regarded as a thinly-veiled treatise on Scientology, and someone who’s not heard all of the Scientology talk before seeing the film would immediately recognize references to it. Read More »
The 69th Venice Film Festival gets underway today as Alberto Barbera debuts his first selection effort since returning to run the show. Venice’s artistic director from 1998 to 2002, he stepped back in when Marco Muller was ousted late last year.
Venice’s position as the first international fall festival means it can have an impact on awards season. Last year, it thrust Michael Fassbender into the spotlight with the best actor Volpi Cup for Shame. (Fox Searchlight’s Shame pick-up was confirmed in Toronto, though the deal was all but signed in Venice.) Other recent films and talent to see their stock rise from a Venice bow include Brokeback Mountain, The Wrestler, Black Swan, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Helen Mirren (The Queen) and Colin Firth (A Single Man). Then again, two years ago, Quentin Tarantino’s jury gave his ex-girlfriend Sofia Coppola the Golden Lion for Somewhere, a film that was a non-factor in that year’s Oscar race. Michael Mann is jury president this year.
The highest-profile pic on the premieres bill here this year is Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, regarded as a thinly veiled reference to Scientology with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Joaquin Phoenix which The Weinstein Company will release Sept. 14 in the U.S.
Films on deck without a domestic deal include Mira Nair’s opening night film, The Reluctant Fundamentalist with Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland and Liev Schreiber, handled in North America by Hal Sadoff for the Doha Film Institute and Bart Walker of Cinetic; Terrence Malick’s love story To The Wonder with Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams which FilmNation is handling; and Brian De Palma’s Euro-produced Passion also with McAdams and Noomi Rapace. Read More »
The competition section of the Venice Film Festival just got a jolt. The festival has confirmed what Deadline reported last week, that added Paul Thomas Anderson’s sure to be controversial film The Master has joined the competition slate. The film is now set to make its debut there. As Deadline also reported, the film will play the Toronto International Film Festival as well. Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as a man who invents a belief system which soars in popularity, and it is regarded as a thinly veiled reference to L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams also star. The Weinstein Company releases the film in Oscar season on September 14. Venice also added Ermanno Olmi’s Come voglio che sia il mio futuro?, Pasquale Scimeca’s Convitto Falcone and the Alex Schmidt-directed horror film Du hast es versprochen to the fest lineup.
EXCLUSIVE: Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master will join the competition roster at the Venice Film Festival, and it might well be part of the Toronto International Film Festival program as well. There has been speculation in recent weeks that The Master could have a Venice berth, but it was not among the films announced by festival organizers last week. I’m told that the film has now been locked, and that Harvey Weinstein will get a prime Saturday slot to launch it into the Oscar-season fray. It certainly ramps up the buzz factor at the festival, partly because critics finally get to decide for themselves how much the title character played by Philip Seymour Hoffman was influenced by L. Ron Hubbard and his formation of Scientology. Read More »
The Weinstein Company has confirmed moving Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master to a limited opening on September 14 from its original date October 12. The movie will add theaters on September 21. Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as the charismatic central figure of the movie. Amy Adams and Joaquin Phoenix also star. Additionally Weinstein is moving the Brad Pitt drama Killing Them Softly to October 19 from September 21. The Master now will be opening against the wide releases of Disney/Pixar’s remastered-in-3D Finding Nemo and Sony/Screen Gems’ Resident Evil: Retribution. Other movies opening in limited release September 14 will be Summit’s The Perks Of Being A Wildflower, IFC’s Liberal Arts and UTV’s Barfi! Director Andrew Dominik and Pitt’s Killing Them Softly will be up against a pair of other wide releases October 19, Alex Cross from Summit and Paramount’s Paranormal Activity 4 plus IFC’s The Loneliest Planet and Paramount Vantage’s Not Fade Away.
Here is the new theatrical trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the charismatic central figure of the movie, which some have suggested is a thinly veiled take on Scientology but Anderson has said it is definitely not. Amy Adams and Joaquin Phoenix co-star in The Weinstein Company release now set to open September 14th:
EXCLUSIVE: In a move that would amount to the Cannes Film Festival‘s very own clip reel of unfinished upcoming movies, Deadline has heard that a screening of footage from select films will take place in an official venue on Thursday. Details are scarce, but pics that could be in the surprise pack include Juan Antonio Bayona’s The Impossible, the tsunami movie starring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts, and Wong Kar Wai’s martial arts bio The Grandmasters. Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master might also be included, although the Weinsteins showed footage from those films last night. Other films are expected to be in the mix for what we hear will be an hourlong showing that will be open to all accredited fest attendees. This is a new move for the festival and could drum up some extra heat. The screening, Deadline understands, will take place at the Salle du Soixantième — the same venue where the roof was damaged by heavy winds the other day. Only this time, the festival will look to blow the roof off on purpose.
Harvey Weinstein just finished previewing three of his big fall/winter hopefuls for press gathered at the Majestic Hotel here at the Cannes Film Festival. As noted first on Deadline yesterday, The Weinstein Company decided to call the press corps together tonight to whet the appetite for previews of three films: Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, David O’Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook and Quentin Tarantino’s Western throwback Django Unchained.
Weinstein started the slick, professionally produced and no-frills presentation by threatening to show his Bar Mitzvah film shot when he was 13 years old but never before seen in its “uncut” version. Fortunately he didn’t. Instead, he quickly introduced the three films and their business relationships to Weinstein. On Django, Weinstein shares all global rights with Sony, and he praised the partnership with Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton. On Silver the Weinstein Co holds all global rights; on The Master they will distributing globally as well. Before rolling the footage, Weinstein said, “These are some of the best films we have ever been associated with, if not the best”. When I asked him about that afterward, he explained that the company has returned to an association with auteur directors and the visions they have for the screen; he has always credited Tarantino with being one of the architects of the success of Weinstein’s former company, Miramax. He said the philosophy of a filmmaker-driven company has paid off not only with the three fall/Christmas releases showcased tonight but also with their other product that includes Andrew Dominik’s Brad Pitt starrer Killing Them Softly (premiering here tomorrow night) as well as his Cannes premiere Saturday night, Lawless, from director John Hillcoat. There is another upcoming film, Quartet, directed by that “young newcomer Dustin Hoffman”, whom Weinstein said he decided to “take a chance on”.
The three films highlighted tonight will be released in succession this fall: The Master (starring Joaquin Phoenix in a return to films, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams), involving a complex plot dealing with a Scientology-related religion (and obviously destined for controversy) opening in October. Silver Linings Playbook opens in November and isan adapted screenplay by Russell from the novel by Matthew Quick about a former resident of a mental institution (Bradley Cooper) who tries to mend relationships with his family and ex-wife. Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Stiles, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver and Chris Tucker co-star in supporting roles. It looks like Cooper’s most challenging screen role to date. And for Christmas Day, Weinstein is promising Tarantino’s provocative Western starring Jamie Foxx as an ex-slave out for revenge and Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz as a diabolical travelling dentist who has a giant tooth atop his covered wagon. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don Johnson, Kerry Washington and Samuel L. Jackson co-star. Read More »
The Weinstein Company has provided the first images from The Master, the Paul Thomas Anderson-directed film that stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams. In this clip there is no Hoffman, who plays a man who creates a belief system and watches it take off in post-war America. Phoenix plays a guy looking for something to believe in, who becomes the title character’s right-hand man who then begins questioning his course. Many reports have claimed this movie is about Scientology, but from what I’ve heard it is as applicable to Mormonism or any modern-day belief system that launches and draws a following. The film, which languished at Universal and then was orphaned because of its $35 million budget, finally got made because Megan Ellison had the money to allow Anderson to see through his vision. It is always a compelling vision, so good for Ellison, who can afford to take a risk on an auteur.
Still enjoying its post-King’s Speech Best Picture Oscar win from a couple of months ago, The Weinstein Company had plenty of reasons to party Friday night in Cannes, so they threw two soirees instead of just one. It was a packed main event at the Martinez, where the company showed clip reels of its burgeoning 2011 slate. COO David Glasser touted the company’s recent highlights and introduced a beaming Harvey Weinstein, who crowed (sorry) about the upcoming slate mentioning future hoped-for biggies including what he described as perhaps their biggest movie ever, Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, and Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. Deadline broke the news Friday of another potential winner that was mentioned, TWC’s acquisition of The Iron Lady, starring Meryl Streep as Britain’s only female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, which TWC will release in the fall in time for Oscar. Then he showed some first looks of upcoming product including My Week With Marilyn, with Michelle Williams glammed up as the legendary Monroe (although it’s clearly a challenge to capture that particular magic) and Kenneth Branagh as Laurence Olivier. I talked to Williams on a phoner from London while she was making the film, and she had a really difficult time articulating the process she was going through. The task was obviously a daunting one, but I can’t wait to see what she does with it in the context of the whole film. I heard Branagh’s brilliant in it.
There were also clips from Our Idiot Brother, with Paul Rudd, and the last-minute Cannes competition entry The Artist, a black-and-white silent movie that will unspool in a prime Sunday night slot at the Palais. Harvey introduced it by saying his associates thought he was off his rocker for buying this black-and-white silent, “just like they thought I was when I did a film about a guy with a left foot and a British king who stutters.” At the party, he made a point of telling me to see the film as soon as possible here. The footage really made it look intriguing, full of old Hollywood pizzazz and style, so I will be checking it out bright and early Sunday morning at the first press screening. Weinstein clearly has a Harv-on for this one and also seemed high on a new comedy just wrapping production, I Don’t Know How She Does It starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Greg Kinnear and Pierce Brosnan. Parker was flown into Cannes for the event and introduced the clips herself. Also part of the proceedings was yet another recent acquisition announced in Cannes (these guys are busy) of Peter Ho-Sun Chan’s Martial Arts film noir, Dragon, which had its official Cannes premiere out of competition just after midnight. The director introduced the entire cast and promised something completely new in the genre. And just to keep the town hopping, Weinstein threw a second party later Friday to celebrate Dragon before their red-carpet stroll.
Elsewhere on Friday, the competition films got international with former Palme d’Or winner Nanni Moretti’s Read More »
Easter Sunday seems an appropriate time to focus on Hollywood’s treatment of the subject matter of religion. When it comes to making movies from various Biblical interpretations, conventional wisdom says stick close to scripture and the faithful will flock. Mel Gibson hewed closely to the New Testament with 2004′s The Passion of the Christ and the film grossed over $600 million worldwide to become the largest independent film of its day and the top-grossing non-English language film ever. But veering from that strategy can do more than alienate that audience segment as Universal Pictures found out when Martin Scorsese filmed 1988′s controversial and in some eyes blasphemous The Last Temptation of Christ from Nikos Kazantzakis’ novel and angry protesters were dragging crosses in front of the home of MCA Universal head Lew Wasserman. Have things changed since then?
Several filmmakers hope so because they are making movies that challenge faith tradions. These projects are very different from, say, big projects that include Fox’s stylized retelling of Moses leading the Israelite exodus out of Egypt, or Bedrock Films’ $30 million 3D reimagining of the story of creation as depicted in the Book of Genesis. But all of the following daring projects can take encouragement from The Book Of Mormon, the first Broadway musical by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker who teamed with Robert Lopez on the skewed look at the Mormon faithful. The result is a smash hit Tony Awards contender playing … Read More »