Indie News

Johnny Depp’s ‘Minamata’, True-Life Japanese Tragedy, Gets World Premiere & First Look For Buyers – Berlin

  • Deadline
Johnny Depp’s ‘Minamata’, True-Life Japanese Tragedy, Gets World Premiere & First Look For Buyers – Berlin
One of the more intriguing titles of this year’s Berlin Film Festival is the new Johnny Depp true life drama, Minamata in which Depp plays the famous Life magazine photographer W. Eugene Smith who in 1971 undertook the most challenging and important subject of his career in travelling to the small Japanese village of Minamata which had been ravaged by an outbreak of Mercury Poisoning due to gross negligence by Japan’s Chisso Corporation, the government itself, and even the Yakuza. The important and heartbreaking movie, which I caught at CAA in Los Angeles a few days ago, documents Smith’s efforts to chronicle the tragic effects of the disease and the Minamata inhabitants’ heroic efforts to fight back. As the film shows, Smith was an enormously gifted, if difficult personality, and had to practically beg a reluctant Life to give him this opportunity, but the results were eye-opening and
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Berlinale 2020: First Encounters of the 70th Year

  • MUBI
Berlinale 2020: First Encounters of the 70th Year
Above: Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns BlueThis year is the 70th anniversary of the Berlin International Film Festival, and it celebrates with a change of guard: Out goes festival director Dieter Kosslick and in comes Executive Director Mariette Rissenbeek, presumably managing the business side of the massive event, and Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian, who most recently held the same title at the Locarno Film Festival, leading the curation. This hand-over of responsibility is not unique to Berlin; last year, Locarno’s programming team was new; this year sees new heads of Sundance, Sheffield, and New York film festivals; and next year Rotterdam is under new leadership. As film culture is shifting under the just cultural pressure of inclusion and diversity, major festivals around the world are in the process of shifting gears.What does that mean for the Berlinale? In these early days—and in the first year with
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New ‘Star Wars’ Movie in Talks With ‘Sleight’ Director and ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Writer – Report

  • Indiewire
New ‘Star Wars’ Movie in Talks With ‘Sleight’ Director and ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Writer – Report
As Lucasfilm figures out what’s next for “Star Wars,” filmmaker J.D. Dillard and writer Matt Owens have reportedly been tapped to develop a new feature for the franchise. According to The Hollywood Reporter, details surrounding the upcoming project from Dillard (writer/director of indies “Sleight” and “Sweetheart”) and Owens (a writer on Marvel series “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. from ABC and “Luke Cage” from Netflix) remain mysterious.

That includes whether or not the film will head for a theatrical premiere, or bow on Disney+, streaming home to Lucasfilm’s “The Mandalorian” and the upcoming Obi-Wan series spinoff with Ewan McGregor (production last month was shifted to 2021 amid rumored creative conflicts). The report of the new “Star Wars” project also has yet to reveal whether Dillard, also a writer, will actually direct should the movie advance.

This would mark Lucasfilm’s latest foray into a “Star Wars” feature since “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
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‘Babies’ Review: Clinical Netflix Doc Series About Toddlers Puts Academics Over Experiences

‘Babies’ Review: Clinical Netflix Doc Series About Toddlers Puts Academics Over Experiences
Babies can’t really talk.

At least not in the way that documentary participants tend to. It’s an unfortunate fact that puts the Netflix series “Babies” at a bit of a disadvantage — making a six-part series about toddlers means that it’s impossible to get traditional input from its main subjects. What “Babies” chooses instead to fill that time is an unexpected blend of toddler reaction shots and an overestimation of the rousing nature of peer-reviewed studies on adolescent behavior.

At the outset, “Babies” touts that it will follow the development of a select, cross-continental group of infants as they develop from their opening days after birth through their many early developmental milestones. One by one, each successive newborn is introduced, along with their parents, spread out mainly across England and rural New England.

What comes to dominate most of “Babies” is a science-heavy dose of “tell, not show,
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HBO Officially Deems ‘Watchmen’ a Limited Series, Shaking Up Emmy Race

HBO Officially Deems ‘Watchmen’ a Limited Series, Shaking Up Emmy Race
The 2020 Emmy Season has one less mystery hanging over its head, as HBO announced Friday that its critically-acclaimed “Watchmen” series, as adapted by Damon Lindelof, will be entering the fray as a limited series — despite a winter spent competing as a drama series in associated guild and craft organization awards.

The premium cable giant released the following statement early Friday afternoon: “We discussed with the producers and felt limited series was the most accurate representation of the show and any possible future installments.”

The move seems strategic but not surprising for HBO, who benefits from the category adjustment on several levels. In recent months, “Succession” has positioned itself as the Emmy frontrunner for drama series, where “Watchmen” likely would have stood in fierce competition come September. Further, after the “Big Little Lies” brouhaha, where the first season was sold as a limited series, even as most everyone involved was bending
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In Berlin, Margaret Qualley Has Star Power and the Germans Will Lecture If You’re Late

  • Indiewire
It took me years to accept Berlinale press chief Frauke Greiner’s invitation to attend this world-class gatekeeper film festival, now under the new leadership of executive director Mariette Rissenbeek and artistic director Carlo Chatrian. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

Germans don’t like it when you are late.

Thursday night’s Berlinale opening ceremony was held at the grand Film Palast, but I had to watch it on another latecomer’s iPhone. Because the ceremony was live, the ushers wouldn’t let anyone in the theatre until after the lengthy introductory remarks. I eventually recovered my seat, after a stern lecture from a young usher. Later, I found out that Rissenbeek and Chatrian — newcomers to the spotlight — were overshadowed by Prof. Monika Grutters Mdb, the Minister of State for Culture, who is in charge of this festival. She used her time to make a political statement,
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‘Friends’ Reunion Special Officially Set for HBO Max With Full Cast Returning

  • Indiewire
‘Friends’ Reunion Special Officially Set for HBO Max With Full Cast Returning
Ten seasons, 236 episodes, and more than 15 years since it ended, “Friends” is the gift that keeps on giving. As announced Friday afternoon by HBO Max and WarnerMedia, the iconic series — that just celebrated its 25th anniversary last year — will return as an untitled, unscripted reunion special for HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s upcoming streaming platform launching in May 2020.

And the gang’s all here! Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer will return to the show’s original soundstage, Stage 24, on the Warner Bros. Studio lot in Burbank to revisit the NBC sitcom. The special, along with all 10 seasons of the series, will debut exclusively on HBO Max, the new streaming home for “Friends,” which Netflix dropped in late 2019 after a five-year run.

“Guess you could call this the one where they all got back together — we are reuniting with David, Jennifer, Courteney, Matt, Lisa,
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‘Gentefied’ Review: Fall in Love With the Morales Family in Netflix’s Hip Comedy

‘Gentefied’ Review: Fall in Love With the Morales Family in Netflix’s Hip Comedy
First there was “Broad City,” then there was “High Maintenance” and “Insecure.” Thanks to the age of web series, peak TV has been able to anoint some of its most inventive creators, especially underrepresented or unknown ones who otherwise may have had trouble getting into a a pitch room, much less getting the green light. Now, we have one more gift to the thank the web series for: “Gentefied.” Funny, incisive, and oozing with homegrown charm, “Gentefied” is exactly the kind of TV we need right now. Netflix’s latest half-hour comedy is bilingual, bold, and braced to tackle painful issues with wit and nuance.

Created by Marvin Lemus and Linda Yvette Chávez, “Gentefied” was ushered to the Netflix screen with the help of executive producer America Ferrera, who has a small cameo as a housing lawyer. Ferrera has been involved since the show’s digital days, and right from the jump,
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‘Brahms: The Boy II’ Review: A Sequel No One Needed Inside a Thriller No One Will Understand

‘Brahms: The Boy II’ Review: A Sequel No One Needed Inside a Thriller No One Will Understand
Confusion is baked right into the title. Four years after “The Boy” scared up a few bucks at the box office, director William Brent Bell and screenwriter Stacey Menear return with a new vision of what fresh terrors said boy will enact on yet another unsuspecting family. Why “Brahms”? That’s the doll’s name, or the boy’s name, which might remind moviegoers of the nutso line-blurring in “The Boy.” However, “Brahms” also indicates what Bell and Menear really hope to accomplish: and the possibility of continuing a franchise for a film that never expected have one.

There wasn’t much original in Bell and Menear’s first crack at the creepy-doll horror genre, but “The Boy” had a sense of humor and a grasp on its wackily warped mythology that earned a few real chills and a couple of genuine laughs. None of that for “Brahms: The Boy II”; instead,
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‘Vitalina Varela’: Pedro Costa Delivers A Beautiful Meditation On Legacy, Loss, And Love [Review]

‘Vitalina Varela’: Pedro Costa Delivers A Beautiful Meditation On Legacy, Loss, And Love [Review]
Surrounded by all sides by corroded concrete, encased in stifling darkness, stone-faced men shuffle down an alleyway carved into the lifeless fabric of a Cape Verdean slum. Crucifixes, entrenched in the surface above them, loom over their heads. Death permeates the air. No further introduction is offered, and no further introduction is needed. And so begins Pedro Costa’s endlessly contemplative, transcendental drama “Vitalina Varela.”

Adopting its title from the leading actress’s actual name, Costa’s newest feature, watered down to a simplistic description, depicts a woman who immigrates to Portugal as she seeks to come to terms with the death of her recently departed husband, a plight that ropes in a priest combating a spiritual crisis.

Continue reading ‘Vitalina Varela’: Pedro Costa Delivers A Beautiful Meditation On Legacy, Loss, And Love [Review] at The Playlist.
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‘Bad Education’ Teaser: Hugh Jackman Enters the Emmy Race as a High School Boss Caught in a Scandal

  • Indiewire
‘Bad Education’ Teaser: Hugh Jackman Enters the Emmy Race as a High School Boss Caught in a Scandal
At last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, HBO scooped up Cory Finley’s buzzed-about dark comedy “Bad Education” for just shy of a cool $20 million. That’s great news for the ripped-from-the-headlines film, which earned star Hugh Jackman raves for his turn as an embezzling high-school superintendent, and its potential to reach a massive global audience. But that also means, without a theatrical release, there will be no Academy Awards for this film. “Bad Education” will instead vie for Primetime Emmys, as its April 25 street date on HBO platforms makes it eligible for this year’s awards.

With a cast led by Jackman, plus TV mainstays Allison Janney (both an Emmy and Oscar winner) and Ray Romano (also an Emmy winner), it’s an enviable ensemble, all directed by Finley, who last helmed the hit indie dark comedy “Thoroughbreds.” Jackman plays Dr. Frank Tassone, the superintendent of the Roslyn School District in Long Island,
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‘Minamata’ Review: Johnny Depp’s Gonzo Performance Can’t Rescue an Overzealous Biopic

‘Minamata’ Review: Johnny Depp’s Gonzo Performance Can’t Rescue an Overzealous Biopic
Some stories of real-life heroism beg to be told, while films like “Minamata” fall victim to good intentions. Director Andrew Levitas’ mopey drama recounts war photographer W. Eugene Smith’s seminal expose of mercury poisoning in the eponymous Japanese fishing village, and certainly that 1972 photo essay deserves a feature-length salute.

However, Here and there, “Minamata” tells a bracing story of corporate malfeasance and bracing advocacy for the underclass, but even the occasional poignant observation can’t salvage a movie trying this hard to tug every heartstring at its disposal.

The tale of Smith’s final, crowning achievement in a storied career holds plenty of appeal in the opening act. New York, 1971: Smith’s already out of the game. Once a celebrated WWII photographer, he’s devolved into a hard-drinking cyclone of resentment and self-pity. Estranged from his adult kids and strapped for cash, he begs Life magazine editor Bob
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‘Minamata’: A Timely Reminder Of Industrial Greed & Johnny Depp’s Talent [Berlin Review]

‘Minamata’: A Timely Reminder Of Industrial Greed & Johnny Depp’s Talent [Berlin Review]
In the sort of disheartening yet unsurprising coincidence that has become a fairly regular feature of Life Under Plutocracy, on Monday, The Washington Post carried a story about an Epa proposal to imminently roll back environmental protections against mercury pollution, and today Andrew Levitas‘ “Minamata,” a conventional but moving and well-crafted reminder of why such protections are vital, premieres at the Berlin Film Festival. It’s the based-in-truth story of the last work of photojournalism completed by celebrated photographer Gene Smith (Johnny Depp): the 1972 Life Magazine essay that exposed the knowing toxification of the waters around Minamata, Japan, by a local chemical company, and the resultant ravages of the horrific neurological syndrome—still known as “Minamata disease”—that arises from severe mercury poisoning.

Continue reading ‘Minamata’: A Timely Reminder Of Industrial Greed & Johnny Depp’s Talent [Berlin Review] at The Playlist.
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Berlin 2020: What Makes This Massive Film Festival Different From the Rest? — IndieWire’s Movie Podcast

  • Indiewire
Berlin 2020: What Makes This Massive Film Festival Different From the Rest? — IndieWire’s Movie Podcast
The Berlin Film Festival may not receive the same attention in the U.S. as Sundance, but 70th edition of the German gathering attracts a much bigger international crowd. With a new post-Oscars date, the 2020 Berlinale has kicked off 10 days of international cinema and market activity. But with Cannes just a few months away, what makes the buzz in Berlin worthwhile? As new leadership takes charge, the festival has attracted some newcomers looking for an answer to that question — including Screen Talk co-host Anne Thompson. In this week’s episode, Thompson and Eric Kohn talk about what it’s like to settle into the Berlin atmosphere and take the temperature on an evolving festival as it kicks off. They also touch on the potential impact of “Parasite” on the market for foreign films and debate a few movies in the lineup. Stay tuned for more Berlin coverage in the days ahead.
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‘Picard’: The Most Violent ‘Star Trek’ Scene Ever, and Why Seven of Nine’s Story Needed It

  • Indiewire
‘Picard’: The Most Violent ‘Star Trek’ Scene Ever, and Why Seven of Nine’s Story Needed It
[Editor’s Note: The following interview contains spoilers for the “Star Trek: Picard” episode “Stardust City Rag.”]

Star Trek: Picard” has flipped the script. So often in genre storytelling a female supporting character’s death is used simply as a way of adding to the experience and personality of a male protagonist. In “Stardust City Rag,” the latest episode of “Picard,” the roles are reversed. Following an even more shocking earlier murder, Bruce Maddox (John Ales), the robotics expert everyone has been seeking for the first five episodes is killed by his lover and protégé, Agnes Jurati (Allison Pill).

“For a lot of reasons, it made sense that Bruce Maddox would not make it through this episode,” episode writer and supervising producer Kirsten Beyer said. “The most important part was Jurati’s relationship to him and what it says about how committed she is to the mission she’s been assigned.”

Rather than just adding another new character in a
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Anya Taylor-Joy Talks ‘Emma’ & Being A Jane Austen Antihero [Interview]

Anya Taylor-Joy Talks ‘Emma’ & Being A Jane Austen Antihero [Interview]
Jane Austen never thought her books would be popular. She certainly didn’t expect any of her stories to spawn cinematic adaptations (because of course, movies didn’t exist at that time. There are different versions of the film: Gwyneth Paltrow stars in the 1996 adaptation, Romola Garai is ‘Emma’ in the 2009 TV mini-series, and there is Amy Heckerling’s 1995 film ‘Clueless,’ which is heavily inspired by the Jane Austen novel.

Continue reading Anya Taylor-Joy Talks ‘Emma’ & Being A Jane Austen Antihero [Interview] at The Playlist.
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New Directors/New Films 2020 Lineup Includes ‘Boys State,’ ‘The Mole Agent’ & More

While it may not have the recognition of festivals like Cannes, Venice, or Toronto, New Directors/New Films has, for the past half-century, been one of the premier events that highlights indie works from some of the most exciting filmmakers working today. And for 2020, that’s no different, as the festival has announced its full lineup for this spring.

The lineup includes 27 feature films and 10 short films from a diverse array of talent, with 15 films directed or co-directed by women and 15 works by first-time filmmakers.

Continue reading New Directors/New Films 2020 Lineup Includes ‘Boys State,’ ‘The Mole Agent’ & More at The Playlist.
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Months Before ‘Inception,’ ‘Shutter Island’ Delivered an Ambiguous Ending That Haunts 10 Years Later

Months Before ‘Inception,’ ‘Shutter Island’ Delivered an Ambiguous Ending That Haunts 10 Years Later
The last shot of “Inception” is widely regarded as one of the best ambiguous endings in movie history. Christopher Nolan leaves Dominick Cobb’s totem spinning so as not to answer whether or not the character is still dreaming. The “Inception” ending continues to stir up conversations a decade later, but it was not the first DiCaprio movie of 2010 to conclude with such an open-ended jaw-dropper. Cut to February 2010, in which Paramount were gearing up to release Martin Scorsese’s psychological thriller “Shutter Island,” based on Dennis Lehane’s 2003 novel of the same name. The movie opened February 19, 2010, making this month its 10th anniversary. “Shutter Island,” the fourth collaboration between Scorsese and DiCaprio, was a box office hit with $295 million worldwide, the highest grossing Scorsese release until it was surpassed by “The Wolf of Wall Street.” While “Shutter Island” did not go on to have the awards success that the
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Newly Restored ‘Come And See’ Is Still A War Movie Like No Other [Be Reel Podcast]

Newly Restored ‘Come And See’ Is Still A War Movie Like No Other [Be Reel Podcast]
With the restoration and re-release of Elem Klimov‘s underappreciated war epic “Come and See” (1985), Be Reel steels itself this week to revisit a film famous for its brutal portrayal of the Nazi invasion of modern-day Belarus.

For the uninitiated, the Russian film stars Aleksei Kravchenko as Flyora, a boy who joins up with local partisans at the height of World War II.

Continue reading Newly Restored ‘Come And See’ Is Still A War Movie Like No Other [Be Reel Podcast] at The Playlist.
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‘Bad Education’ Trailer: Director Cory Finley Tries To Beat The Sophomore Slump With Hugh Jackman

‘Bad Education’ Trailer: Director Cory Finley Tries To Beat The Sophomore Slump With Hugh Jackman
Cory Finley’s newest film “Bad Education” has just dropped a new teaser. The movie tells the story of a school-larceny scandal that hit Long Island in the early 2000s. Hugh Jackman leads the film, along with Allison Janney and Ray Romano.

Read More: The 25 Best Movies Of 2020 We’ve Already Seen

This is Finley’s follow up film to his directorial debut, “Thoroughbreds.

Continue reading ‘Bad Education’ Trailer: Director Cory Finley Tries To Beat The Sophomore Slump With Hugh Jackman at The Playlist.
See full article at The Playlist »
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