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Weekly indieWIRE Clicks: The Best News, Reviews & Features

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire June 24, 2011 at 8:16AM

This week on indieWIRE Conan O'Brien won over the critics, L.A. welcomed the world premiere of James Franco's latest directorial effort, we predicted what will likely make it into festivals this fall and much more.
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This week on indieWIRE Conan O'Brien won over the critics, L.A. welcomed the world premiere of James Franco's latest directorial effort, we predicted what will likely make it into festivals this fall and much more.

News

Woody Allen’s projects are always chock-full of in-demand actors and his latest is no exception. This week, Allen released the full cast for his next project, “The Bop Decameron.” It’s a doozy. Starring in alphabetical order are: Woody Allen, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penélope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig and Ellen Page. Co-stars include Antonio Albanese, Fabio Armiliata, Alessandra Mastronardi, Ornella Muti, Flavio Parenti, Alison Pill, Riccardo Scamarcio and Alessandro Tiberi. More here.

WestMidWest Productions and the independently owned ‘event’ based theatrical distribution company Area 23a have partnered together to theatrically release “Revenge of the Electric Car,” the latest documentary from Chris Paine (“Who Killed the Electric Car”). [Click here for indieWIRE’s review of the film following its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.]

George Clooney’s fourth directorial effort, “The Ides of March,” will open the Venice Film Festival on August 31st. This marks the first of what will be a series of announcements surrounding the major fall festivals, which indieWIRE extensively speculated about Monday. More here.

The San Francisco Film Society and SF-based Japanese entertainment group New People unveiled plans for a “supremely stylish state-of-the art 143-seat theater” in the city’s Japantown neighborhood. SFSS, which organizes the annual San Francisco International Film Festival, said the announcement marks the first time in the organization’s 54-year history that it will be able to “offer its acclaimed exhibition, education and filmmaker services programs and events on a daily year-round basis.”

The Playlist posted the latest trailer for the romance "One Day," based on the best-selling novel by David Nicholls and starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. Go here to watch.

Thompson on Hollywood reports: Sony Pictures Classics scooped up U.S. rights to David Cronenberg’s "A Dangerous Method" last week and now has released the official trailer. Watch it here.

In a move that marks the first time in recent memory that the Sundance Film Festival has invited a short film sponsor, Yahoo! will sponsor the Short Film Program at the 2012 edition of the event. Yahoo! will premiere some of the short film selections on its Yahoo! Movies page. Online viewers of the films will be able to vote for an online audience award, which will be presented at the Short Film Awards during next year’s festival. More here.

Turns out that the hot TMZ-flavored mess of a documentary on Princess Diana’s death we caught at Cannes will make it to the public.

Pedro Almodovar’s latest film, “The Skin I Live In,” is based on Thierry Jonque’s novel “Tarantula,” and follows crazed plastic surgeon Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) who’s using pig genes to create impenetrable human skin. He also keeps a strange woman captive in his home (although she does have fabulous skin). Watch the trailer here.

Ashgar Farhadi’s Iranian drama “Nader and Simin, A Separation” won the top award, the Sydney Film Prize, at the just-wrapped Sydney Film Festival. The Golden Bear winner beat out high profile entries including Palme d’Or winner “The Tree of Life, “Sleeping Beauty,” “Take Shelter” and Miranda July’s Sundance fave “The Future.”

According to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier today, Andrew Rossi’s “Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times,” and Cindy Meehl’s “Buck” both posted respectable debuts on a handful of screens.

The Playlist: With “Cars 2” hitting theaters tomorrow, we expect a teaser trailer for Pixar‘s “Brave” to arrive any moment now, but until then yesterday’s poster and these character pics will have to do. Click here to see them.

The new trailer for "30 Minutes Or Less," Ruben Fleischer's follow-up to "Zombieland" starring Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari dropped this week. Go to The Playlist to watch.

The latest adaptation of "Romeo and Juliet," from Italian director Carlo Carlei (1993’s "Flight of the Innocent"), now has a Romeo for its Juliet. Hailee Steinfeld will be joined by 19-year old Brit Douglas Booth, who is prettier than she is. Clearly this movie is targeted to a young girl demo. Go to Thompson On Hollywood for more.

Reviews

The new Pixar release “Cars 2” will no doubt leave the box office competition eating its dust, but with a new slate of releases, it’s unlikely you’ll skip the cinema this weekend. Here’s what our indieWIRE and our blog network critics had to say about this week’s new releases.

“This is a slow film on purpose,” James Franco told an audience at the downtown Los Angeles premiere of “The Broken Tower,” the new movie he recently directed about the life and work of poet Hart Crane. “This is not ‘Pineapple Express.’” No kidding.

"Revisiting the African American ball culture first made famous by Jennie Livingston’s 1990 New York-set documentary “Paris is Burning” and the Madonna single “Vogue,” Sheldon Larry’s colorful movie musical “Leave It On the Floor” takes place in a similar Los Angeles scene." Read Eric Kohn's review here.

Chad Freidrichs’ profoundly tragic “The Pruitt-Igoe Myth” compellingly tracks the dissolution of Pruitt-Igoe, using it as a powerful reference point in a broader discussion about the failure of public housing. More here.

Features

Even as Cannes announced its lineup, speculation and predictions loomed about what was in store for the two biggest festivals of the late summer.

Winner of the Camera d’Or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, Michael Rowe’s feature debut, “Leap Year,” is boundary-pushing, sexually explicit film sure to get people talking. The film opens June 24th in New York at Cinema Village courtesy of Strand Releasing. Rowe shared a steamy scene from his drama with indieWIRE, along with his thoughts on the shoot.

For the second week in a row, a documentary has topped criticWIRE as the pick of the week. Following last week’s “Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times” (a narrow choice over another doc, “Buck”), Rodman Fletcher’s “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop” was the consensus among criticWIRE critics. A premiere at the SXSW Film Festival, the film follows O’Brien on his “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour,” which he took on after losing his gig as host of “The Tonight Show.”

Following the commercial and critical success of Henry Selick’s stop-motion animated dark wonder, “Coraline,” the film’s distributor Focus Features was quick to re-team with the group behind the hit 3D film, Portland-based animation studio LAIKA. Their latest collaboration, “ParaNorman,” opens wide next summer. Want to know more about the 'in the works' production? Go here.

The specialty marketplace has been heating up in North America, in large part thanks to the huge per-theater-averages for Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” and Mike Mills’ “Beginners.” In a continuing feature on indieWIRE, the focus will turn to how a few independent films are faring around the world...

Kids today are still making Super 8 shorts. The urge to remake “Raiders of the Lost Ark” continues to be irresistible to young men. And pencil drawings have not yet lost the battle to Flash in the realm of teenage-produced animation. A two-part screening of high school shorts at the Los Angeles Film Festival confirms that the output, hearts, and minds of teen filmmakers remain reassuringly familiar.

So something funny happened the this week at a special (and very posh) Upper East Side screening of the creepy-as-hell psychological thriller “The Perfect Host,” at The Core Club. The film’s first-time director, Nick Tomnay, admitted to being a psychopath. For context go here.

ThePlaylist: You might say it’s a good month to be a fan of British cult filmmaker Nicolas Roeg. Just last week the Criterion Collection released the director’s 1985 oddball picture, “Insignificance” and this week, his landmark science-fiction film “The Man Who Fell To Earth” starring David Bowie, is being given a limited U.S. theatrical re-release to mark its 35th anniversary.

Shadow and Act asks: Could a serious film about slavery in the U.S. be made? Of course there have been a few attempts in the past such as: "Beloved" (which was a massive box office flop), Charles Burnett’s "Nightjohn" (a truly excellent, but little seen made-for-TV movie) and the guiltiest of all guilty pleasures, "Mandingo"...

This week on Small Screens Todd Haynes’ debut still packs a punch, a doc delves into the business side of the female orgasm, Uma Thurman seduces a youngster and much more.

In case you were away from your computer last weekend (it was Father’s Day!), here's a tidy package of our weekend coverage that includes reviews out of the Los Angeles Film Festival, a great interview between John Waters and Darren Aronofsky (together at last) and a weekend box office report that included some surprising winners and losers.

Graham Taylor gave an inspirational speech at LAFF yesterday, complete with a to-do list on how to improve the indie film ecosystem.

Last weekend, the Los Angeles Film Festival hosted a number of panels and other events with a wide variety of figures in the film community. In between covering various screenings, indieWIRE attended a few of these public discussions. Here are the highlights.

During a sometimes hilarious and other times straightforward awards ceremony at the 13th annual Provincetown International Film Festival, Darren Aronofsky took to the stage with legendary provocateur John Waters for a lively discussion.

June is LGBT pride month - celebrations have been taking place around the US all month, with major festivities this weekend in SF and NYC. As our own show of support, the latest indieWIRE at Hulu Docs highlights a number of fantastic and diverse LGBT themed non-fiction films available on the site.

Hollywood, take note! If you’re searching for the next female director to break big, here’s a look at five filmmakers who are making a lot of noise on the festival circuit with their short films this month. If their shorts are indications of their abilities to helm features, all five women are more than ready to join the big leagues.

Interviews

Marshall Curry’s (“Street Fight,” “Racing Dreams”) latest documentary, “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front,” tells the story behind what the FBI has deemed America’s “number one domestic terrorism threat”—the radical environmentalist group, the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). In 2005, Daniel McGowan was arrested by the FBI in a nationwide sweep of the activist organization. Curry (and co-director Sam Cullman) use his arrest as a springboard to launch into what led him to join the group and the reasoning behind their extreme actions. Click here to read our interview with the Academy Award nominee.

Directed by first-timer Robbie Pickering from his Hollywood blacklist screenplay, "Natural Selection" swept the SXSW awards in March, landing trophies for Pickering in addition to breakthrough performance nods for Harris and O’Leary. Check out the full interview here.

Ahead of “Green”‘s New York premiere at BAMcinemaFest earlier this week, indieWIRE caught up with the film’s first-time director Sophia Takal to learn what inspired her to craft her beguiling and sexually heated debut.

First time filmmaker David Guy Levy sat down with up with indieWIRE to discuss turning the camera on himself (with a flip camera, no less) with his debut “A Love Affair of Sorts.” The film opens in limited release this Friday, June 24.

indieWIRE also chatted up director Amber Sealey, who's latest, "How to Cheat," recently premiered at the L.A. Film Festival.

A friend of Conan’s since their days at Harvard, director Rodman Flender proposed doing a documentary on the tour, but he insisted that he didn’t want the film to be a traditional concert tour. Instead, the film, "Conan O'Brien Can't Stop," spotlights mostly behind-the-scenes conversations with O’Brien and his team. Go here to read our interview with Flender.