News bits.

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And from the future.
Because it’s awfully quiet today — and damn right, it’s a holiday! Nearly!

Big news: Richard Kelly‘s "Southland Tales" has been acquired by Sony Pictures (via Borys Kit at the Hollywood Reporter). Of the notorious Cannes reception and the assumed heavy editing the film would be undergoing:

"(Richard) is going to complete his edit, and when we see his cut, we’ll figure out the distribution plan," SHE president Ben Feingold said. "But it will be theatrical."

The studio is providing suggestions to Kelly, but "it’s his movie," Feingold said. "We’ll have a point of view, but people like (Kelly’s) sensibility."

Also from Mr. Kit, a Jeff Buckley biopic is in the works — "Writer-director Brian Jun, whose ‘Steel City’ was nominated for the grand jury prize at January’s Sundance Film Festival, will write and direct a feature based on the musician’s life. The movie is being produced by Buckley’s mother, Mary Guibert, and Michelle Sy, who executive produced ‘Finding Neverland.’"

Sheigh Crabtree reports that Alison Eastwood will make her directorial debut with "Rails and Ties" for Warner Independent, leading up to an inevitable hair-pulling red carpet catfight with Sofia Coppola, after which they will weep in each other’s arms over how their famous dads kept making them act in their movies.

And Gregg Goldstein notes that new indie distributor Outsider Pictures has announced their slate: "The company launches in August with Spiro Taraviras‘ documentary ‘Buzz,’ which profiles film noir screenwriter A.I. Bezzerides. Other releases set for this year will include Robert Connolly‘s drama of an impoverished family man, ‘Three Dollars’; Randall Rubin and Jon Schroder‘s teen romance ‘Jimmy and Judy’ starring Edward Furlong; and Barbara Willis Sweete‘s docu on the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, ‘Five Days in September: the Rebirth of an Orchestra.’"

Edward Furlong — we thought he was dead! Good on ya, Edward, you’re not.

Elsewhere in the world: CRI reports that Taiwanese pop star Wang Leehom is being considered for the part of "a patriotic youth" in Ang Lee‘s "Lust, Caution." Tom Perry at Reuters writes that "The Yacoubian Building," which screened at Tribeca (our brief impressions are here) and which deals with controversial topics not typically touched upon by Egyptian cinema, including homosexuality, police torture
and government corruption, has topped the Egyptian box office since it’s June 19th premiere.

Egyptian censors tightly control films’ political content. Alaa al Aswany, an anti-government activist, suggested the film was allowed to air to give the impression of greater freedoms.

"They do this every now and then. They have an accumulation of experience in decoration, to make the point that it’s a democracy," he said.

Via AP, Staff Sgt. Raymond J. Plouhar, a Marine and one-time recruiter who appeared in "Fahrenheit 9/11" (he worked the mall parking lot: "It’s better to get them when they’re in ones and twos and work on them that way.") was killed in a roadside bombing in Iraq.

Although Plouhar willingly appeared in the movie, which is critical of the Bush administration’s actions after Sept. 11, his father said Plouhar didn’t realize it would criticize the war.

"I’m proud that my son wanted to protect the freedom of this country whether we all agree with the war or not," he said.

Eugene Hernandez at indieWIRE reports that LAFF prizes (of $50,000 each) went to Steve Collins for "Gretchen" and Amy Berg for "Deliver Us From Evil." And via Sandy Cohen at AP, "Crash" was one of the winner of $25,000 and the Humanitas Prize for work that helps "liberate, enrich and unify society." We’re so far past making fun of "Crash" at this point that…that…we’ve got nothing. Too liberated, we suppose.

Lastly, Xeni Jardin at BoingBoing points out that, in a case of life echoing "Hard Candy" (sans castration) "two Florida girls aged 14 and 15 created a bogus profile on MySpace, grabbed a pair of pistols, then robbed an adult man who arranged to meet the lovely but fictitious 18-year-old ‘Natalia’ in person."

+ Sony travels to Kelly’s "Southland" (HR)
+ Jun hits the right notes for Buckley biopic (HR)
+ Alison Eastwood rides "Rails" with Warner Independent (HR)
+ Indie Outsider sets film slate (HR)
+ Leehom Wong to Star in Ang Lee’s "Lust, Caution"? (CRI)
+ Egyptian film breaks taboos and tops box office (Reuters)
+ Marine in `Fahrenheit 9/11′ killed in Iraq (AP)
+ "Gretchen" and "Deliver Us From Evil" Win Big Award$ in L.A. (indieWIRE)
+ ‘Crash’ screenplay wins Humanitas Prize (AP)
+ Underage teen girls rob adult man they met on MySpace (Boing Boing)


Under Your Spell

10 Otherworldly Romances That’ll Melt Your Heart

Spend Valentine's Day weekend with IFC's Underworld movie marathon.

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Photo Credit: Screen Gems/courtesy Everett Collection

Romance takes many forms, and that is especially true when you have a thirst for blood or laser beams coming out of your eyes.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a werewolf, a superhero, a clone, a time-traveler, or a vampire, love is the one thing that infects us all.  Read on to find out why Romeo and Juliet have nothing on these supernatural star-crossed lovers, and be sure to catch IFC’s Underworld movie marathon this Valentine’s Day weekend.

1. Cyclops/Jean Grey/Wolverine, X-Men series

The X-Men franchise is rife with romance, but the steamiest “ménage à mutant” may just be the one between Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden), and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Their triangle is a complicated one as Jean finds herself torn between the two very different men while also trying to control her darker side, the Phoenix. This leads to Jean killing Cyclops and eventually getting stabbed through her heart by Wolverine in X-Men: The Last Stand. Yikes!  Maybe they should change the name to Ex-Men instead?

2. Willow/Tara, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Joss Whedon gave audiences some great romances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer — including the central triangle of Buffy, Angel, and Spike — but it was the love between witches Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara (Amber Benson) that broke new ground for its sensitive and nuanced portrayal of a LGBT relationship.

Willow is smart and confident and isn’t even sure of her sexuality when she first meets Tara at college in a Wiccan campus group. As the two begin experimenting with spells, they realize they’re also falling for one another and become the show’s most enduring, happy couple. At least until Tara’s death in season six, a moment that still brings on the feels.

3. Selene/Michael, Underworld series

The Twilight gang pales in comparison (both literally and metaphorically) to the Lycans and Vampires of the stylish Underworld franchise. If you’re looking for an epic vampire/werewolf romance set amidst an epic vampire/werewolf war, Underworld handily delivers in the form of leather catsuited Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and shaggy blonde hunk Michael (a post-Felicity Scott Speedman). As they work together to stop the Vampire/Lycan war, they give into their passions while also kicking butt in skintight leather. Love at first bite indeed.

4. Spider-man/Mary Jane Watson, Spider-man

After rushing to the aid of beautiful girl-next-door Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), the Amazing Spider-man is rewarded with an upside-down kiss that is still one of the most romantic moments in comic book movie history. For Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), the shy, lovable dork beneath the mask, his rain-soaked makeout session is the culmination of years of unrequited love and one very powerful spider bite. As the films progress, Peter tries pushing MJ away in an attempt to protect her from his enemies, but their web of love is just too powerful. And you know, with great power, comes great responsibility.

5. Molly/Sam, Ghost

When it comes to supernatural romance, you really can’t beat Molly and Sam from the 1990 hit film Ghost. Demi Moore goes crazy for Swayze like the rest of us, and the pair make pottery sexier than it’s ever been.

When Sam is murdered, he’s forced to communicate through con artist turned real psychic, Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg in her Academy Award-winning role) to warn Molly she is still in danger from his co-worker, Carl (a pre-Scandal Tony Goldwyn). Molly doesn’t believe Oda is telling the truth, so Sam proves it by sliding a penny up the wall and then possessing Oda so he and Molly can share one last romantic dance together (but not the dirty kind). We’d pay a penny for a dance with Patrick Swayze ANY day.

6. Cosima/Delphine, Orphan Black

It stands to reason there would be at least one complicated romance on a show about clones, and none more complicated than the one between clone Cosima (Tatiana Maslany) and Dr. Delphine Cormier (Evelyne Brochu) on BBC America’s hit drama Orphan Black.

Cosima is a PhD student focusing on evolutionary developmental biology at the University of Minnesota when she meets Delphine, a research associate from the nefarious Dyad Institute, posing as a fellow immunology student. The two fall in love, but their happiness is brief once Dyad and the other members of Clone Club get involved. Here’s hoping Cosima finds love in season four of Orphan Black. Girlfriend could use a break.

7. Aragorn/Arwen, Lord of the Rings

On a picturesque bridge in Rivendell amidst some stellar mood-lighting and dreamy Elvish language with English subtitles for us non-Middle Earthlings, Arwen (Liv Tyler) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) bind their souls to one another, pledging to love each other no matter what befalls them.

Their courtship is a matter of contention with Arwen’s father, Elrond (Hugo Weaving), who doesn’t wish to see his daughter suffer over Aragorn’s future death. The two marry after the conclusion of the War of the Ring, with Aragorn assuming his throne as King of Gondor, and Arwen forgoing her immortality to become his Queen. Is it too much to assume they asked Frodo to be their wedding ring-bearer?

8. Lafayette/Jesus, True Blood

True Blood quickly became the go-to show for supernatural sex scenes featuring future Magic Mike strippers (Joe Manganiello) and pale Nordic men with washboard abs (Hi Alexander Skarsgård!), but honestly, there was a little something for everyone, including fan favorite Bon Temps medium, Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis).

In season three, Lafayette met his mother’s nurse, Jesus, and the two began a relationship. As they spend more time together and start doing V (short for Vampire Blood), they learn Jesus is descended from a long line of witches and that Lafayette himself has magical abilities. However, supernatural love is anything but simple, and after the pair join a coven, Lafayette becomes possessed by the dead spirit of its former leader. This relationship certainly puts a whole new spin on possessive love.

9. Nymphadora Tonks/Remus Lupin, Harry Potter series

There are lots of sad characters in the Harry Potter series, but Remus Lupin ranks among the saddest. He was bitten by a werewolf as a child, his best friend was murdered and his other best friend was wrongly imprisoned in Azkaban for it, then THAT best friend was killed by a Death Eater at the Ministry of Magic as Remus looked on. So when Lupin unexpectedly found himself in love with badass Auror and Metamorphmagus Nymphadora Tonks (she prefers to be called by her surname ONLY, thank you very much), pretty much everyone, including Lupin himself, was both elated and cautiously hopeful about their romance and eventual marriage.

Sadly, the pair met a tragic ending when both were killed by Death Eaters during the Battle of Hogwarts, leaving their son, Teddy, orphaned much like his godfather Harry Potter. Accio hankies!

10. The Doctor/Rose Tyler, Doctor Who

Speaking of wolves, Rose “Bad Wolf” Tyler (Billie Piper) captured the Doctor’s hearts from the moment he told her to “Run!” in the very first episode of the re-booted Doctor Who series. Their affection for one another grew steadily deeper during their travels in the TARDIS, whether they were stuck in 1950s London, facing down pure evil in the Satan Pit, or battling Cybermen.

But their relationship took a tragic turn during the season two finale episode, “Doomsday,” when the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose found themselves separated in parallel universes with no way of being reunited (lest two universes collapse as a result of a paradox). A sobbing Rose told a holographic transmission of the Doctor she loved him, but before he could reply, the transmission cut out, leaving our beloved Time Lord (and most of the audience) with a tear-stained face and two broken hearts all alone in the TARDIS.

Venice, anyone?

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Once again, Truman Capote.
The Hollywood Reporter announced today that the 63rd Venice International Film Festival will open with the world premiere of writer-director Douglas McGrath‘s "Infamous" — i.e. that other Truman Capote biopic, the one with the shitty timing. Though at the Independent, David Thomson goes to bat for the film (before the Venice announcement was made, even):

In "Capote," the achievement of the film – and it delivers – is to show that Capote was a shit, a devious glory-seeker and a fine writer who got his own way all the time. That film says he was ruined by his success, but you don’t feel it, because Hoffman‘s Capote is too tough and too self-centred to be brought down by his own moral failure.

In Infamous you feel the tragedy. Yes, Truman goes to Kansas with Harper Lee (this time it’s Sandra Bullock, and she’s superb). He slowly wins the confidence of law and order there. He becomes a famous dinner guest in Holcomb. He meets the killers – Dick Hickock and Perry Smith. And as he starts to write the book, he falls in love with Perry Smith. That was hinted at as a possibility in Capote, though its Truman is hardly capable of love. The ultimate triumph of "Infamous" is that he is weak enough to need, and that’s what ruins him.

One of the common observations floating back from what was generally considered an unexceptional Cannes was that Venice would be strong this year. Catherine Deneuve, as reported earlier this month by AFP and others, will be the jury president, and titles are already being kicked around, most notably David Lynch‘s "Inland Empire," which didn’t make it to Cannes, but which will, according to Variety (also earlier in the month — er, we’ve been busy, or something), be screening out of competition at Venice, along with Kenneth Branagh‘s "The Magic Flute." Likely others include Woody Allen‘s "Scoop," Brian De Palma‘s "The Black Dahlia," Oliver Stone‘s "World Trade Center" and Alfonso Cuaron‘s "Children of Men."

Elsewhere, X at Twitch notes that Im Sang-Soo‘s "The Old Garden" and Hong Sang-Soo‘s "Woman on the Beach" are both being eyed by the festival (and possibly, possibly Park Chan-wook‘s "I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK"?), while Benjamin Morgan at AFP reports that Feng Xiaogang, who served as a judge at the Shanghai International Film Festival, is trying to position himself as the new Zhang Yimou or Chen Kaige (god forbid) with "The Banquet," a period piece that’s apparently based on "Hamlet" and that stars Zhang Ziyi. As is the new approach for these films, "The Banquet"’s backers are trotting the trailer around to the big festivals fishing for distributors — it screened at Cannes and will apparently also make a showing at Venice and Toronto. Wolf at Twitch uncovers two versions of that trailer online.

For all those who want their David Lynch now and can’t possibly wait until the end of August, Anthony Kaufman points out this enigmatic YouTube video labeled "David Lynch experimenting with Digital Video," and tagged "Inland Empire." Given Lynch’s recent and odd web experiments (ringtones?) we could just as easily believe it’s real as we could that it’s the product of someone making a jokey faux Lynchian video with all the standard elements. See, that’s auteur theory for you, right there.

No, we don’t know what we’re talking about. Hey, over at indieWIRE, Brian Brooks has the first slate of selections announced by the Toronto International Film Festival — no premieres yet, just big names from earlier festivals, particularly Cannes.

+ Venice fest plans "Infamous" curtain-raiser (HR)
+ Film Studies: You thought it was too soon for another Capote? Think again…  (Independent)

+ Catherine Deneuve to preside over Venice Film Festival jury (AFP)
+ Pix venturing to Venice (Variety)
+ Im Sang-Soo and Hong Sang-Soo Going to Venice? (Twitch)
+ ‘The Banquet’ aims to please, says emerging Chinese filmmaker (AFP)
+ The Banquet Overseas Trailer (Twitch)
+ David Lynch’s DV Experiment, Daily Weather Bulletins and "Inland Empire" (Anthony Kaufman’s Blog)
+ Toronto International Film Festival Reveals 26 Titles for 31st Edition (indieWIRE)

Odds: Tuesday – Southland Tales and such.

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Geraldine "Jerri" Antonia Blank.
The latest issue of Cinema Scope has the expected Cannes focus, with Mark Peranson grumbling

“How was Cannes?” For about two weeks after the Fortnight, that’s the question a returning Cannes cavalry soldier receives from whomever he comes in contact with on the homefront. They might as well be asking, “How was the root canal?”

Peranson also weighs in on the CriticGate 2006 crisis and interviews Richard Kelly. And there’s the usual dozen smart offerings.

[On the topic of CriticGate, canned New York Daily News critic Jami Bernard has gone blogger over at Movie City News.]

At New York, Logan Hill interviews Woody Allen and his newest muse, Scarlett Johansson, and as you’d expect, it’s slightly creepy:

When asked if he wrote those lines to impress Johansson, Woody doesn’t disagree—but he offers a caveat: “It’s very hard to be extra witty around a sexually overwhelming, beautiful young woman who is wittier than you are. Anytime I say anything amusing, Scarlett tops me.”

Also at New York, Emily Nussbaum checks in on "Strangers With Candy"‘s Amy Sedaris. Speaking of, Reyhan Harmanci of the San Francisco Chronicle shares this from the film’s premiere at the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival:

To promote the screening, Frameline put on a Jerri look-alike contest inside the Empire. Sadly, it had only one entrant. "I think it’s a hard look for many drag queens," says local celebrity Heklina, who was the host. "You want to look gorgeous — helllooo, look at me — and Jerri is so hideous."

The daily trash: the New York Post‘s Page Six quotes Pat Dollard, the former agent of Steven Soderbergh who left to make "Young Americans," a pro-war documentary about U.S. Marines fighting insurgents in Iraq.

"I read something on the Internet in which someone was patting himself on the back for having the courage to oppose the war," Dollard recalled. In an obvious reference to [George] Clooney, who owns a villa in Italy, he said, "They actually equate bravery with speaking out against the president because [losing fans] might cost them one less servant at their Italian villa . . . It put me into a black rage and made me sick to my stomach."

Yeah! We bet he takes every penny he made off of Clooney in "Ocean’s Eleven" and just hurls it right back in his face! Right!

Trailer for "Clerks 2" is here; teaser for "Spider-Man 3" is here (look, it’s a slow news day, okay?).

At Salon, Farhad Manjoo takes a detailed look at 22-year-old Dylan Avery’s "Loose Change," a feature-length film (and the self-proclaimed "most provocative 9-11 documentary on the market today") that proposes a complicated conspiracy theory alleging that "the 9/11 attacks were an ‘inside job.’"

"Loose Change" may traffic in fiction, but it sinks its hooks in. If you’re unfamiliar with the official story — if you haven’t, say, perused the hundreds of pages of documentation supporting the 9/11 Commission’s conclusions — you may well find the movie’s false reality strangely seductive. And going online to debunk "Loose Change" doesn’t necessarily boost your faith in the 9/11 Commission’s story; following the path that Google presents in response to queries like "pentagon plane crash" or "world trade center collapse" could make matters worse. While discovering flaws in the movie’s claims, you’ll find yourself bumping up against entirely different 9/11 theories, some of which propose a theory of the case that’s far stranger than you’d ever imagined. Once you jump down the rabbit hole, you find it goes only deeper.

There seem to be dozens of Johnny Depp profiles in print and on the web at the moment, all covering the same themes of superstar heartthrob angst and rebellion; Sean Smith‘s at Newsweek is pretty decent.

Finally, Ray Pride at Movie City Indie points to Robert Abele‘s interview with "undersung, overly talented Walter Hill" at LA Weekly — Hill’s two-part Western "Broken Trail," made for our sister network AMC, premiered to astounding ratings on Sunday. But who cares? This is really an excuse to relay the following — often, wandering around the offices here at 11 Penn Plaza looking for leftover sandwiches from meetings to eat (day-and-a-half-old, tops — we have our standards), we’ll come across detritus or intentional offerings from one of the other network housed here: old promotional items when someone’s cleaning out a closet, cupcakes on Valentine’s Day. On Friday, there were enigmatic baggies of M&Ms mixed with sunflower seeds and raisins sitting out in the lobby. What could it mean? We stared. And then we knew.

It was Broken Trail Mix.

And someone is still patting themselves on the back somewhere over that one.

+ Issue 27 (Cinema Scope)
+ Critic sans portfolio (IncredibleShrinkingCritic)
+ And God Created Scarlett (New York)
+ Amy Sedaris Gets Up in Your Grill (New York)
+ It gets a bit kooky in line for the ‘Strangers With Candy’ premiere in S.F. (SF Chronicle)
+ H’wood Warrior Rips Clooney (NY Post)
+ Clerks 2 (Apple)
+ The 9/11 deniers (Salon)
+ A Pirate’s Life (Newsweek)
+ Hill and trail: on Walter Hill’s Broken Trail (MC Indie)

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