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Weekly indieWIRE Clicks: The Best News, Reviews & Features

Weekly indieWIRE Clicks: The Best News, Reviews & Features

This week on indieWIRE we showed some exclusive clips, Madonna got a shot at awards season, Spielberg’s “War Horse” galloped into the collective consciousness and much more.

News

Comic-Con just got exciting. Francis Ford Coppola announced that he will present clips from his upcoming Gothic horror, “Twixt,” on July 23 at the event in San Diego. The film, shot in both 2D and 3D, stars Val Kilmer, Bruce Dern, Elle Fanning and Ben Chaplin. Coppola has described it as “one part Gothic romance, one part personal film, and one part the kind of horror film that began my career.” Sounds juicy.

The Weinstein Company has officially set a limited release date for their recent acquisition “W.E.,” which marks the second directorial effort of Madonna after “Filth and Wisdom” (despite the fact that official press releases are listing it as her debut). [For Anne Thompson’s report go here.] Also lined up to hit theaters around the same time? Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse.” Go here for the just-released trailer.

Stéphane Lafleur’s “Familiar Ground” won the Narrative Film Competition during an awards ceremony at the Los Angeles Film Festival, while Beverly Kopf and Bobbie Birleffi’s “Wish Me Away” took Best Documentary at the awards brunch, which took place at CHAYA Downtown and co-hosted by Allison Janney and John C. Reilly. Both awards include a $15,000 cash prize. More here.

We offered our look at the numbers 2011’s specialty releases have been bringing in. Click here for some very encouraging news.

“Let the Right One In” director Tomas Alfredson’s first English-language film will be released stateside this November. Click here to check out the trailer.

Israel Luna’s low-budget horror film “Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives” will make its U.S. television debut on Showtime July 2, 2011. The film was the subject of a GLAAD-sponsored protest that encouraged the Tribeca Film Festival to pull the film from its 2010 lineup, and according to an indieWIRE interview with the director, the communication between the director and GLAAD was inconsistent. The protest was unsuccessful and the film went on to play several horror and LGBT film festivals around the world.

Is there room for two Sarah Palin documentaries this year? On the one end there’s the Palin-sanctioned feature, “The Undefeated,” crafted to boost her pre-presidential campaign (the film world premieres tomorrow in Pella, Iowa with Palin in attendance). On the other? A decidedly different take on the former Alaska Governor by Britain’s favorite documentary troublemaker, Nick Broomfield (“Kurt & Courtney,” “Biggie & Tupac”).

Mark Gill was named president of Millennium Films. The former Miramax Films and Warner Independent head will lead the L.A.-based company that plans to produce and finance five to eight “star-driven, wide-release films per year” with budgets ranging from $20 – $80 million. Go here for more.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts Los Angeles will honor Oscar-winning director John Lasseter (“Toy Story,” “Toy Story 2,” “Cars,” “Cars 2”) with the “Britannia Award for Worldwide Contribution to Filmed Entertainment” and director David Yates (“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”) with the John Schlesinger Britannia Award for Excellence in Directing. The honors will take place during a ceremony slated for November 30th at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. More here.

Film Movement acquired North American rights to Dusty Bias’ feature directorial debut, the Sundance quirky comedy “Prairie Love.” In other buying news, U.S. rights to Oscar winner Danis Tanovic’s latest, “Cirkus Columbia” were picked up by Strand Releasing.

As long promised, MUBI has premiered the latest short film from Spike Jonze, the director of “Being John Malkovich,” “Adaptation” and “Where The Wild Things Are,” his long-awaited collaboration with one of the biggest bands in the world, Arcade Fire.

Thompson on Hollywood reported: “Catherine Hardwicke will direct Noomi Rapace (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) in a biopic of Swedish singer Anita Lindblom and her romance with boxer Bosse Högberg, to be played by Ola Rapace, the actress’ husband, whose been training as a boxer for this role four years (during the project’s long development stage).” More here.

Reviews

Eric Kohn caught the Sundance coming-of-age drama “Terri.” Here’s what he thought: “Azazel Jacobs’s 2008 drama “Momma’s Man” centered on an adult retreating to his parents’ house and yearning for the innocence of his teenage years. The director’s latest feature, “Terri,” centers on a teen fearing adulthood. Jacobs, working from a script by Patrick de Witt, takes a conventional coming-of-age story and does it proud, enlivening the plot with an almost experimental portrait of alienation and despair.” More here.

“Remade now by former comics illustrator Troy Nixey, and aided by a screenplay co-written by Guillermo Del Toro, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” loses that same fright factor when expanded to the big screen,” wrote Erich Kohn in his review of the Los Angeles Film Fest closer. “The story hasn’t changed: A young girl moves into the creaky old mansion with her architect father and his girlfriend; ghoulish supernatural beings stalk her whenever the lights go out. By and large, however, the spookiness has gone soft, possibly because shock standards have shifted.” Check out Eric Kohn’s full review.

Thompson on Hollywood reports: “”Transformers: Dark of the Moon” opens June 29 after its June 23 premiere at the Moscow Film Festival. So far reviews confirm that the third installment of this mega-franchise indeed delivers visual spectacle lacking from most post-Avatar 3-D. Some say the movie is too long and may actually make you miss Megan Fox’s acting chops. One writer compares Fox to Kate Winslet, while Brit replacement Rosie Huntington-Whiteley “suck[s] the life out of every scene she appears in,” says TotalFilm.” More here. Speaking of “Transformers,” click here to learn what Shia LaBeouf has been saying about his former co-star Megan Fox (courtesy of The Playlist). What a cad.

The Playlist hated on Tom Hanks’ latest film: “His first film had a number of things that “Larry Crowne” is desperately missing – namely texture, scope, and believable characters that you actually engage with (as well as a thematic and philosophical point-of-view).” More here.

Features

With the midway point of 2011 just days away, it’s a good time to look at how the year’s films have fared on criticWIRE thus far. At film festivals such as Cannes, Sundance, Tribeca, SXSW and Berlin, and as films are released theatrically, indieWIRE polls over 100 critics and bloggers for letter grades and review links.

June happens to be one of those months in the calendar year that seems to attract many a festival. It’s the beginning of Summer (in the Northern Hemisphere), so always a good time to break out the local film event. Festivals are particularly ubiquitous in the U.S. in June, though it is definitely rivaled by April. So, as a one-stop shop, iW has compiled a number of festivals that played around the U.S. (and the world) listing major winners.

It’s been roughly four months since indieWIRE‘s coverage of the mammoth 2010-2011 awards season came to an end. Our “For Your Consideration” column has lain dormant ever since, its most recent edition a advance stab at what might become of the next awards season. But with the Venice Film Festival and Toronto Film Festival just two months away, “next” is soon to be now. Thus, indieWIRE welcomes you to a special mid-year edition of our “For Your Consideration” column, which will begin running regularly beginning in September.

“Terri” is the criticWIRE pick of the week heading into this holiday weekend. Following two straight weeks of documentaries (“Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop” and “Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times”) topping iW’s weekly chart, the 2011 Sundance Film Festival alum edged out the likes of Cristi Puiu’s “Aurora” and Nick Tomnay’s “The Perfect Host,” both of which also open this week.

The 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival came to a close over the weekend with the world premiere of the Guillermo Del Toro-produced horror remake “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.” indieWIRE was on the scene during the 10-day event to review the high profile entries and report on the biggest happenings.

Levi’s Film Workshop in downtown Los Angeles sounds like an indie-film Tinkerbell: It pops up one day, wholeheartedly devotes itself to supporting filmmakers with equipment, staffing and facilities, until one day it disappears. Check it out here, while you still can.

Writer Craig D. Lindsay talked soundtracks in his new weekly column “Reeling and Spinning.” Check out his in-depth reading of Tarantino’s “Ingrlourious Basterds” soundtrack here.

This week on Small Screens Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood take us on a “Magic Trip,” celebs dish on New York City’s legendary Florent diner and much more.

Leonard Maltin held an on-stage conversation with the stars of Richard Linklater’s “Bernie” during the opening night of the Los Angeles Film Festival. For more, click here.

This week’s Bigger Project of the Week sees X-Man Shawn Ashmore becoming a “Mariachi Gringo.” Go here to learn more.

Critic Simon Abrams debuted his new Simon Says column on our Press Play blog with a look at the negative critical response to “The Green Lantern” through the classic Roger Ebert review of “Zardoz.” Click here for the full analysis.

Interviews

You’d be forgiven for thinking David Hyde Pierce dropped off the face of the earth after wrapping “Frasier” seven years ago. That is, if you don’t follow the theater scene. For eleven years, Pierce played the Type A, opera loving Niles Crane to Emmy-winning perfection on the popular series. Since taping the last episode, Pierce has gone on to become a bonafide stage star, appearing on Broadway and London’s West End in a string of productions, including “Curtains” which garnered him a Tony. “The Perfect Host” (which opens in limited release today) marks his first time on screen since “Frasier” came to an end. We caught up with Pierce to discuss his return to the screen.

Director Azazel Jacobs’ (“Momma’s Man”) perceptive coming-of-age dramedy, “Terri,” charmed the pants off of audiences at Sundance earlier this year, where the film world premiered. It opens this Friday, July 1, in limited release. Jacobs provided indieWIRE with an exclusive scene from his film along with his thoughts on the shoot. Check it out here.

We spoke to the star of Jacobs’ new film about improv, auditions, and what’s next. Check it out here.

In Yoav Potash’s first full-length feature documentary, “Crime After Crime,” the filmmaker went to great lengths to follow the epic legal battle to free Deborah Peagler. To gain access to the maximum-security prison in Chowchilla, California where Peagler was incarcerated, he used a two-pronged approach; first he embedded himself with Peagler’s pro-bono attorneys as her official legal videographer, and second, he made an entirely separate documentary about the rehabilitative programs at the prison – a project that acted as a sort of Trojan horse to surreptitiously transport Potash and his crew inside the prison gates. Go here to an exclusive clip from the film and the director’s thoughts on the shoot.

Rodman Flender, a friend of Conan O’Brien since their days at Harvard, followed O’Brien on his recent 32-city tour following O’Brien’s much ballyhooed separation from NBC. The resulting documentary, “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop,” hit select cinemas last Friday. Click here to find an exclusive scene from the film along with Flender’s thoughts on the shoot.

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