Editor | Peter Bowen
San Francisco’s Kanbar Award to go to James Schamus
Posted February 23, 2010
On April 29, Focus Features CEO James Schamus is set to be honored for his artistic side when the San Francisco Film Society awards him their Kanbar Award for excellence in screenwriting. According to ScreenDaily, “The Kanbar Award acknowledges “the crucial importance of a script in the production of an exceptional film.” Schamus will take part in an onstage interview on May 1 with critic and cultural theorist B Ruby Rich, followed by the West Coast premiere of the newly completed director’s cut of Ride With The Devil.”The Kanbar award is named after Maurice Kanbar, a longtime member of the San Francisco Film Society board. Rachel Rosen, SFFS director of programming, explains “We’re pleased to be able to honor James Schamus, who appreciates, as does Maurice Kanbar, the essential role that screenwriting plays in the genesis of a great film.” John Waters will present Schamus with the award on April 29 at the Westin St. Francis Hotel as part of the Film Society Awards Night. Well done!
Noah Baumbach Tells LA Magazine all about Greenberg
Posted February 22, 2010
The current issue of Los Angeles Magazine has a first-person account by Noah Baumbah (as told to Amy Wallace) about the making of Greenberg. The piece, entitled "Los Angles I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down"––which you may recognize as a title of a LCD Soundsystem song, whose songwriter James Murphy not coincidentally wrote Greenberg's score––recounts Baumbach process in making a film about Los Angeles. As Baumabch says in the first line, "I don’t know which came first—wanting to set a movie in L.A. or wanting to do a movie about a fortysomething guy who can’t get out of his own way." In the article, he talks, among other things, about the complexity of picking LA locations that would have emotional resonance but not seem cliche.
Sometimes a location is true to you, but it’s been overshot. I went back and forth on Musso & Frank because I thought, Is it too classic? But because it’s Greenberg’s birthday in that scene, I liked the majesty of Musso’s working in contrast to his anxious mood. And then of course it all ends with him storming out after the waiters sing him “Happy Birthday.” We used all the real waiters there. And real regulars. We tried to do that everywhere. At Musso’s, Lucy’s, the Sake House, we used real people.
The Kids Are All Right wins Teddy in Berlin
Posted February 20, 2010
On Friday, at 24th annual Teddy Awards at the Berlin International Film Festival, Lisa Cholodenko’s marriage comedy The Kids are All Right took home the feature film Teddy Award. Started in 1987, the Teddy Awards recognized LGBT work shown in all parts of the Berlin Film Festival. The Kids are All Right, which will be released by Focus Features this summer, features Julianne Moore and Annette Bening as a happily settled lesbian couple whose world is turned upside down when their teenage kids seek out and find their sperm-donor dad (Mark Ruffalo).
The Teddy for best documentary went to Pietro Marcello’s poetic La bocca del lupo (The Mouth of the Wolf) that remembers the love affair between a Sicilian ex-con and his transsexual lover named Mary. The Teddy for short went to actor-now-filmmaker James Franco’s The Feast of Stephen, based on the same-titled poem by Anthony Hecht.
A Serious Man Car to be Auctioned for Charity
Posted February 20, 2010
Ebay bidders, start your computers. Focus Features and Variety––The Children’s Charity of Southern California have teamed up to auction off the 1966 Dodge Coronet used in A Serious Man. The auction kicks off on Monday, February 22, 2010 and ends Thursday, March 4, 2010––so bid early and bid often. To get in on the action, go to www.eBay.com/varietyskids. Or if you happen to be in Minnesota, you can stop by the Mall of America where the lovely car will be on display during the auction.
This mean blue machine is the car owned and driven by Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) in the Coen Brothers’ Academy Award-nominated comedy A Serious Man. (A Serious Man is up for Best Picture and Original Screenplay.) Weeks before production started on the film, the Coens and their production team scoured antique car shops to find the perfect car for their lead character, a Jewish physics professor living in the suburbs of Minneapolis in 1967. Then It appeared––a 1966 Dodge Coronet, a midsized car that Chrysler introduced in the ‘50s and then again in the mid-‘60s. To get a sense of the scrutiny the production team went through with vintage autos, click here and then go to “Recreating 1967 - Part 4.”
While there’ll be a final cost on the car, the good karma will be priceless in this auction. “We’re delighted that a serious collector will have the opportunity to buy one of the film’s classic cars and that children in need will benefit from the excitement of the Oscars and the online auction,” Focus Features CEO James Schamus commented. Proceeds will benefit Variety––The Children’s Charity of Southern California, which helps “inspire hope, enrich lives and build a better future for the children in need in Southern California.” This is not the first time that Focus has worked with Variety––The Children’s Charity of Southern California. In previous years, Focus has contributed for auction the iconic shirts worn by the stars (Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal) of Brokeback Mountain, the famed green dress worn by Keira Knightley in Atonement; and the suit worn by Sean Penn in Milk.
A Serious Man wins big with the International Cinephile Society
Posted February 19, 2010
The International Cinephile Society recently announced their awards for both American and International films of 2009. And A Serious Man was in top form. It won the ICS award for Best Flm, as well as Joel and Ethan Coen taking home Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for, as the ICS explains, “perhaps their most personal and certainly their most brilliant exploration of the relationship between God and Man.” In addition, A Serious Man received commendable runner up notices. Michael Stuhlbarg received a runner up nod for Best Actor (with Colin Firth’s excellent performance in A Single Man edging him out). And Jess Gonchor received a runner-up recognition for his production design work on A Serious Man (with Nelson Lowry’s fantasy world in The Fantastic Mr. Fox winning). While perhaps not as well known as other groups, International Cinephile Society is “an online group made up of 60 accredited journalists, film scholars, historians and other industry professionals who cover film festivals and events on five continents.”
Greenberg Comes to Berlin
Posted February 16, 2010
Noah Baumbach's Greenberg hit the red carpet this weekend, premiering at the Berlin Film Festival on February 14––yes, that would be Valentine's Day. Rhys Ifans, Greta Gerwig, Ben Stiller and Noah Baumbach all took to the Red Carpet and then later showed up for a Press Conference to to talk about the film. Eugene Hernandez of indieWIRE reported on the Greenberg splash, and the comic repartee from the press table:
“Somebody would say you’re a total idiot to hire Ben Stiller and not let him improvise,” Baumbach confessed at the press conference. “You idiot,” shot back Stiller, relating that he once tried to get Baumbach to consider a change in the script, but when it was time to shoot, the screenplay hadn’t been changed. Pulling back, Stiller praised Baumbach for writing so specifically and working so precisely.
Coraline wins 3 Annies
Posted February 08, 2010
The 37 annual Annie Award were presented by the International Animated Film Society on Saturday February 6 at UCLA's Royce Hall. While the Pixar megahit Up took away Best Picture, Coraline was congratulated with three major awards: Shane Prigmore won for Best Character Design; Bruno Coulais for Best Music in a Feature, and Tadahiro Uesugi took home the award for Production Design in a Feature. Congratulations to all.
USA Today meets the stars of Babies
Posted February 08, 2010
Susan Wloszczyna of USA Today got to profile four upcoming movie stars: Ponijao, Bayarjargal, Mari, and Hattie––the underage stars of upcoming film Babies. The article looks at the lives, famies and locations of the four babies with commentary from both the director and Focus CEO James Schamus. In talking about Ponijao, who is one of the new members of the Himba tribe in Namibia, Schamus quipped: "In the village, a breast is lunch for anyone who gets there first."
USA Today has several other pieces on the subject of Babies. “Parents, movie fans are cooing over 'Babies' documentary” and “The world is 'Babies' filmmaker's playpen”
Mark Ruffalo on The Kids Are Alight
Posted February 05, 2010
Mark Ruffalo, who stars in the recently acquired Focus film The Kids are Alright, directed by Lisa Cholodenko, has had a quite a year. In addition to staring in Kids, Ruffalo made his directorial debut with Sympathy for Delicious (which appeared in Sundance along with The Kids are Alright). Ruffalo speaks with the Hollywood Reporter's Gregg Goldstein about his career, directing, and appearing in Lisa Cholodenko’s comedy. He relates that originally he turned down the part:
THR: Why did you did choose to get involved with The Kids Are All Right?
Ruffalo: That was in July. I read that script and I really liked it but I turned it down -- I thought, I don't know, I don't want to be acting right now -- but it never really left me. It was funny and smart and a nice little break from editing the movie at the time that I shot it -- a quick job. I'm a big fan of Lisa Cholodenko, she's amazing, and Julianne and Annette -- I've always wanted to work with them.
LA Times on Oscar's Jewish Themes
Posted February 04, 2010
In the recent post in Los Angeles Times blog “The Big Picture” entitled “Jews in Oscar films: Are they vile throwbacks to Jewish stereotypes?”, Patrick Goldstein takes up the issues that is being hotly debated in the Jewish community––when does humor end and hate-mongering begin. Goldstein highlights a recent article in the Jewish Journal entitled “Realism or Anti-Semitism: Negative Depictions of Jews Raise the Age Old Question" whose author Tom Tugend looks at the cases of The Coen Brothers’ A Serious Man and Lone Scherfig’s An Education. It’s a fascinating debate, but Goldstein brings it back in the end to an obvious observation:
When I went to Hebrew school, I had to listen to long, hazy and often entirely unsatisfying religious discourses by rabbis who were eerily similar to the ones in the film. If you thought the Coens were offering a mean-spirited, self-hating portrayal of Jews, you missed the point of the movie. It's simply a comically barbed look at an insular community that simply happens to be Jewish, because the Coens did what all good writers do -- they wrote what they know.