Editor | Peter Bowen
Eggers and Vida at IFC.COM
Posted May 27, 2009
Over at IFC.com, Aaron Hills has a sprightly talk with David Eggers and Vendela Vida, the screenwriters of the upcoming film Away We Go. Among other fun facts about they film, the trio talked about whether Cannonball III or Hal Ashby was more instrumental in making Away We Go.
#10 Most Creative: James Schamus
Posted May 21, 2009
Fast Company just released their list of the “100 most Creative People in Business,” and at # 10 is Focus Features own James Schamus. And when they say “business” here they mean business. Schamus comes right before Prith Banerjee, the Director of HP labs, and right after Jon Rubinstein, Executive Chairman of Palm. Indeed he is the only film person in the top 10. Bill Mechanic, former chairman of 20th Century Fox Filmed Entertainment, explains in the piece: "There's nobody else like him in the entire industry."
Focus marries Ole Borndedal to The Husband
Posted May 21, 2009
As reported in trades today (see Variety and ScreenDaily), Focus Features tapped Danish helmer Ole Bornedal to direct The Husband. Based on a novel of the same name by Dean Koontz, The Husband will be produced as part of Focus' deal with Random House. The Danish writer/director Bornedal is an inspired choice having proven himself remarkable adept at both horror and suspense.
As Focus CEO James Schamus put it, “Ole’s work, as a writer-director who deftly crafts human-scaled stories of suspense and drama, makes him the ideal film-maker to bring Dean’s gripping bestseller to the screen.” His 1994 horror flick Nattevagten (Nightwatch) about a law student who takes a job in a morgue as night watchman (and then really creepy things start to happen) was such a hit that an English remake starring Ewen McGregor appeared a few years later. His recent Just Another Love Story, a frothy tale of mistaken identity, family secrets, and good old-fashion murder, has breathed new life into the noir tradition.
And the intersection of noir and horror is where Koontz’ novel lives. In The Husband, a simple gardener comes home to find his wife missing and a demand for $2 million on the table. But why him? He has not money, no connections, but before he can think it’s a joke, people start to die.
Countdown to 9
Posted May 20, 2009
Another clip from Shane Acker’s upcoming futuristic animation adventure 9 was released and fans are gathering with notes. Over at Firstshowing.net, Alex Billington comments, “It looks even better than I was expecting - I really can't wait to see this. I may be getting ahead of myself, but I'm really hoping that this brings about a new generation of animation that is edgier, darker, and less family-friendly than before.”
Writing for Empire, Emily Phillips says, “The trailer is as explosive as any action movie, but with a touch of the Burton twisted aesthetic and Bekmambetov's signature gloom obviously influencing director Shane Acker's final product.”
Peter Sciretta at /film try to explain the unique style presented in the clip: “I like Acker’s unique art style which could be described as a darker/post apocalyptic version of what Tim Burton use to do, with a touch of LittleBigPlanet.” Although as one comment notes, 9 was conceptualized long before LittleBigPlanet came out.
Ang & James via AP
Posted May 20, 2009
Writing for the Associated Press, David Germain profiles director Ang Lee and creative partner and Focus CEO James Schamus at Cannes. Joking about the comic turn the two take in Lee's new film Taking Woodstock, Schamus quips:
It was like the line from Woody Allen. `I like your early, funny movies...I found myself saying that to Ang for like a decade.
Eagle of the Ninth takes flight at Cannes
Posted May 20, 2009
While some have reported slow sales at Cannes, Focus Features International has been doing very brisk business with their upcoming Eagle of the Ninth. The story of a Roman soldier and his slave (Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell) off to find a missing brigade of soldiers (the Ninth Legion) will be directed by Kevin McDonald and scripted by Jeremy Brock (who’d worked with McDonald before on The Last King of Scotland). The script is adapted from a best-selling book of the same name by Rosemary Sutcliff. As ScreenDaily and Variety report, Focus Intl. has already pre-sold nearly every territory at the festival.
Gentleman prefers Clooney
Posted May 19, 2009
Among the hustle and bustle at the Cannes Film Festival, Focus Features announced one more thing to hustle and bustle about. George Clooney will be staring in the new film A Very Private Gentleman. Anton Corbijn, who made a splash with his 2007 Control, a stylized bio-pic of Ian Curtis, the lead singer of Joy Division, will direct this adaptation of Martin Booth exquisitely creepy thriller of the same name. In the novel, the citizens of the sleepy Italian city in which "Signor Farfalla” (Clooney’s character) has taken up residence know him as a private man who paints miniatures of butterflies. Few suspect that his day job is as to create high-tech weapons for private assassins. The casting makes perfect sense. Clooney also has taken up residence in a small Italian town.
First takes of Thirst and Taking Woodsock at Cannes
Posted May 15, 2009
Now both Thirst and Taking Woodstock have had their press screenings, and reviews and reactions are bubbling up.
At Empire Magazine, Damon Wise wrote a lovely response to Ang Lee’s new film Taking Woodstock. As he says, he hadn’t planned to see the movie, but now he’s glad he did, calling it “the first truly great movie to receive its world premiere in 2009.” In line with Lee’s other films, Taking Woodstock, according to Wise "is a fantastic coming-of-age movie, even though its hero is well into his twenties. It's a film about identity and family, the past as well as the future – the most exciting thing about it is its optimism…. Lee's film pulls you into it and immerses you in the fearlessness, humanity and full visceral thrill of getting involved in something so primal and communal.” In short, it is about America.
Over at Time, film critic Richard Corliss has just seen Park Chan-wook’s Thirst, and seems deeply satisfied. For Corliss, "Thirst — with its irresistible one-line sales pitch: a priest becomes a vampire — is his richest, craziest, most mature work yet. Corliss goes on to detail not only the crazed horror plot, but to highlight the film’s remarkable actors. Of the vampire’s object of affection, Corliss writes, "it's the lovely Kim[Ok-vin], just 22, who is the revelation here. She can play — no, she can be — a creature of mute docility, then searching ardor, then explosive eroticism, then murderous intent. She is Lady Chatterley and Lady Macbeth in one gorgeous, smoldering package."
The Hollywood Reporter speaks with Park Chan-wook
Posted May 14, 2009
The Hollywod Reporter sat down with Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook in Cannes about his new film Thirst, due to be released by Focus in the United States this summer. The first question was how to classify this highly original take on the classic vampire film. Park responds:
if I said "Thirst" is a "vampire romance," most people will think of "Interview With the Vampire," or "Bram Stoker's Dracula," even though the romanticism found in those films has nothing at all to do with "Thirst." Also, no one will be able to conceive of the religious issues that are embedded in "Thirst." But if I really had to come up with an answer, I cannot think of any other than "vampire romance." If there is a more accurate way of classifying it, please let me know.
Well, when we see it, we'll have to come up with an answer.
Wall Street Journal on Focus at Cannes
Posted May 13, 2009
Wall Street Journal article "Cannes Films Bridge an Array of Financing and Foreign Partner" highlights how the tough new economical reality has changed the way this year's films at Cannes were put together. The piece quotes extensively Focus International co-CEO Christian Grasson this new global audience, as well as points to the fact that Focus has more films at Cannes than any other US-based company. Interesting persepctive on gloabl market and the upcoming Focus Film Thirst by Korean master Park Chan-wook, which, as the WSJ points out, "handily beat out Wolverine in South Korea when they both premiered April 30, garnering more than 1 million admissions in comparison to 622,500 for the 20th Century Fox "X-Men" film, according to the Korean Film Council."