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ENTERTAINMENT
January 17, 2014 | By Mark Olsen
Among the biggest mysteries before Thursday morning's Oscar nominations announcement was just how much, if at all, the film academy would embrace "The Wolf of Wall Street. " The film has been dogged by controversy since it began screening for audiences in early December, and its brash depictions of sex, drugs, greed and lifestyle excess were thought by some to be too rough for academy voters. Those concerns were put to rest when the film was nominated for best picture, along with nods for Martin Scorsese for director, Leonardo DiCaprio for lead actor, Jonah Hill for supporting actor and Terence Winter for adapted screenplay.
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ENTERTAINMENT
November 16, 2012 | By John Horn
If you have seen Paul Thomas Anderson's “The Master,” you might reasonably assume that very little was left to chance. From its precise cinematography to striking score, the writer-director's drama about a troubled drifter (Joaquin Phoenix) and a charismatic leader of a new movement (Philip Seymour Hoffman) feels as well-planned as a military operation. But in this excerpt from the Envelope Screening Series this week, Anderson explains that his two lead actors brought far more to their performances than he ever imagined, and that the film's production team frequently improvised.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 2, 2014 | By John Horn
Capping one of the tightest races in recent Academy Awards history, director Steve McQueen's searing survival tale “12 Years a Slave” won the best picture Oscar, beating out “American Hustle” and “Gravity.” Adapted by McQueen and screenwriter John Ridley from Solomon Northup's 19th century memoir, the film tells the true story of a free black man living in New York who is drugged, kidnapped and sold into slavery in Louisiana. Owing largely to its often graphic depictions of lynching, whipping and rape - “Either I was going to make a movie about slavery or I wasn't,” McQueen said - the film proved difficult to watch for many people, including Oscar voters.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 18, 2014 | By Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
Documentary filmmaker Lucy Walker envisioned "The Lion's Mouth Opens," which screens as part of the documentary shorts program at the Sundance Film Festival, as "an espresso shot to the heart. " It is most certainly that. Fifteen minutes of shifting, searing emotions as its subject, actress-writer-director Marianna Palka, deals with the prospect she might have the gene for Huntington's disease, the neurodegenerative disorder that cruelly felled her father, taking, as the Scottish-born actress' mum recounts, both his body and his mind in torturous ways.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 7, 2012 | By Steven Zeitchik
“The Bathtub,” the grittily colorful Bayou region in “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” may seem like a difficult and impoverished place. After all, director Benh Zeitlin based it on towns outside the Louisiana levee system that have been destroyed and rebuilt dozens of times and lack what might be considered a conventional quality of life. But Zeitlin says that he views the Bathtub -- and the real-life towns that inspired it -- as something very different. “There's this kind of joyous spirit that's still intact and this culture that's still intact,” he told the audience at the Times' Envelope Screening Series earlier this week.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 28, 2014 | By Oliver Gettell
"Dallas Buyers Club" co-writer Craig Borten first met Ron Woodroof, the real-life Texas electrician-turned-AIDS-activist, in 1992, a few months before Woodroof succumbed to the disease. But Borten had seen Woodroof's never-say-die attitude before: It was the same one his cancer-stricken father had displayed a decade earlier. At a recent installment of the  Envelope Screening Series , Borten talked about how his father's fight to survive inspired the film. "Every scene in the movie speaks to a man wanting to live," Borten said, "and I think part of having that inside of you - not wanting to die, and wanting to do everything you can to stay alive - is kind of what can extend your life.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 19, 2012 | By John Horn
Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" is an intimate look at a troubled drifter played by Joaquin Phoenix. To make it even more intensely personal, Anderson decided to shoot much of the film in the oversized 65mm format. That rarely used large-frame format -- especially when projected in theaters equipped to show such films -- allows the tightest close-ups to  become that much more revealing, which didn't always make Anderson's actors comfortable. In this excerpt from The Envelope Screening Series, Anderson talks about the challenges of using 65mm film, which by necessity requires an enormous camera -- about the size of a chair, Anderson says.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 17, 2014 | By Oliver Gettell
Tom Hanks is one of the most popular, most decorated actors in Hollywood, and this year he delivered well-regarded performances in two films that were considered Academy Award contenders: "Captain Phillips" and "Saving Mr. Banks. " However, when Oscar nominations were announced Thursday morning, Hanks was left on the outside looking in, failing to secure nods for either his lead role in the former film or his supporting role in the latter. Hanks has a reputation as something of an Oscar darling, but his recent snubbing raises a question: Are academy voters over Hanks, or has he just not impressed them recently?
ENTERTAINMENT
January 16, 2014 | By Elaine Woo
Ruth Robinson Duccini, one of the last members of the troupe of diminutive actors who played Munchkins in the 1939 film classic "The Wizard of Oz," died Thursday after a brief illness at a hospice in Las Vegas, said her son, Fred Duccini. She was 95. The actress, who lived for many years in Los Angeles before moving to Arizona and later Nevada, was one of 124 "little people," then called midgets, who appeared with Judy Garland in the musical fantasy based on the novel by L. Frank Baum.
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