Nov 25
2019

The initial batch of all very positive reviews are in for Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women”. The adaptation had a 96 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes as of Monday morning. The Hollywood Reporter‘s David Rooney wrote that the film is “gratifying.” He added that Gerwig brings “freshness, vitality and emotional nuance to source material” that has been adapted multiple times. “Gerwig skillfully navigates the line between respecting the story’s old-fashioned bones while illuminating the modernity of its proto-feminist perspective, only occasionally leaning into speechy advocacy of a woman’s right to self-actualization beyond marriage,” Rooney wrote. He added that the cast “may be slightly bound by their canonical character types, but there’s lovely ensemble work here.” After praising the individual performances, specifically Ronan and Pugh, Rooney added that the film is “pleasingly paced.” He concluded, “Gerwig has taken a treasured perennial of popular American literature and reshaped it for a new generation, which should give the captivating film a long shelf life.”

Kate Erbland of IndieWire also gave Little Women a positive review. The critic noted that while Gerwig “modernized the book’s timeless story in unexpected ways,” it’s clear the director has “affection for the original, and keenly aware of how the concerns of Alcott and the March sisters (loosely based on the author’s own family) have never quite abated, no matter the time.” Erbland wrote that Ronan’s performance was “vibrant,” while Pugh’s interpretation of Amy “has more dimension than we’ve seen in previous cinematic adaptations of Alcott’s book.” She added that Little Women has its flaws, including when Watson speaks with an American accent and that “a handful of characters aren’t given nearly as much dimension as the sisters.” Erbland concluded,”Gerwig’s Little Women offers its own delightful storybook polish, in its own unique terms, and what a comfort that is.”

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Nov 16
2019

Alan J. Pakula, who died in 1998 at the age of 70 in an auto accident, was a most unusual filmmaker. Though his peers, including Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Roman Polanski, George Lucas and William Friedkin, were as well-known as the stars of their films, Pakula stayed out of the limelight and let his films speak for themselves. And what films – some of the most memorable titles of the last half century. The AFI Fest in Hollywood is paying tribute to Pakula with free screenings of “Sterile Cuckoo,” “Klute” and “Sophie’s Choice” and a free screening Sunday evening of Matthew Miele’s thoughtful new documentary, “Alan Pakula: Going for Truth.” That film features insightful and often emotional interviews with Robert Redford, Harrison Ford, Meryl Streep, Jane Fonda and Dustin Hoffman, co-workers and family and numerous clips. Streep, Hoffman and Ford recently talked to The Los Angeles Times about what made Pakula such a powerful filmmaker and person. The quotes have been edited for clarity and brevity. You can watch the trailer for “Alan Pakula: Going for Truth” on Youtube. Many thanks to Glenn for the heads-up.

I think he really laid a map of integrity for artists, and that, more than anything, is his legacy for me. He was such a moral filmmaker. It’s like an old-fashioned idea, but he was. He was a moral man and he had a backbone. He loved women and respected them. So I mean it was that thing where you feel listened to instead of tolerated. It’s a really a great, great quality. All the best male directors have it. All the best female directors have it naturally.

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Nov 08
2019

Meryl Streep, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Emma Stone will host the 2020 Met Gala, marking Streep’s first time attending the fashion-focused event. Louis Vuitton creative director Nicolas Ghesquière will co-chair alongside the trio. Additionally, the designer brand will be sponsoring the event, taking place May 4. The theme of next year’s gala, “About Time: Fashion and Duration,” will implore attendees to “explore how clothes generate temporal associations that conflate past, present and future” by utilizing Henri Bergson’s concept of la duree, per the Met’s official statement. “Virginia Woolf will serve as the ‘ghost narrator’ of the exhibition.” With fashion aficionados like Billy Porter, Lady Gaga and Zendaya (who rocked a Cinderella ensemble for this year’s Camp theme), next year’s event will likely make for some interesting grayscale looks as the exhibition attempts to detail the “linear chronology of fashion” and focus on “the fast, fleeting rhythm of fashion.” Juxtaposed against the black ensembles will be a cluster of white outfits and accessories that “predate or postdate those in black, but relate to one another through shape, motif, material, pattern, technique, or decoration,” said the Met’s statement. The exhibition will close with a section on the future of fashion to explore the topic of longevity and sustainability.

Oct 18
2019

According to The Guardian, Netflix has moved to shut down a lawsuit from Mossack Fonseca lawyers over a film about the Panama Papers scandal that led to the closure of their firm and criminal charges, arguing the partners’ reputations were “long sullied” before the film’s release. The film, The Laundromat, is due to be released on Netflix at midnight on Friday in the US, and stars Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas as Jurgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca. Mossack and Fonseca sued Netflix this week alleging that the film portrayed them as “ruthless uncaring lawyers who are involved in money laundering, tax evasion, bribery and/or other criminal conduct” and sought a court ruling preventing the film being released. In a response filed to the US district court in Connecticut on Thursday, Netflix said the request was a “virtually unheard-of prior restraint on speech” and should be denied. The company said the film, although advertised as “based on some real shit”, did not try to portray itself as a non-fictional account of the Panama Papers scandal, but was instead a “comedic morality tale about a system which invites and protects abuse”. “While entertaining and largely comedic, it is intended to bring attention to the abuse of offshore shell corporations and tax shelters, and it is an indictment of the legal system that permits them,” Netflix said. Mossack and Fonseca, while given the same names in the film, are “palpably farcical characters”, Netflix said in the court filing. “They are cartoonish narrators who set up shell corporations around the world; it does not depict them as direct participants in criminal activity. “Rather, the film saves its pointed critiques for the opacity of the global banking system and the systemic corruption of wealthy individuals that permit that system to perpetuate itself.” Netflix said the film portrayed the pair as being “largely oblivious to the ways in which some of the shell entities they have set up are being abused, and it indicts the system for making such enterprises largely, if not entirely, legal”. The complete article can be read over at The Guardian.

Oct 17
2019

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mossack Fonseca, the Panama City law firm that watched in horror back in 2016 as a treasure trove of its documents became public, is now attempting to stop Netflix from streaming The Laundromat, a dark comedy that is inspired by those “Panama Papers.” The firm and its founders have filed a lawsuit in Connecticut federal court and are pushing for a restraining order to prevent the Friday release of the film. The movie, directed by Steven Soderbergh, stars Meryl Streep investigating the death of her husband in a boat tour and being led down a trail of shady dealings connected to an off-shore tax scheme exploited by some of the world’s most powerful individuals. According to some advance write-ups of the film, some of these dealings are traced to Jürgen Mossack (played by Gary Oldman) and Ramón Fonseca (Antonio Banderas), the named partners in the firm. As the new lawsuit points out, the movie’s trailer states The Laundromat is “based on some real shit,” referencing what was exposed by the leak of 11.5 million documents three years ago. Mossack and Fonseca complain that the film casts them as “villains profiting from the death of 20 people killed in the small town boat tour,” and also object to a comment in the film from Streep tying them to “bribery, corruption, money laundering.” The film provokes two big claims — defamation and trademark infringement. The former because these lawyers have allegedly been cast falsely as criminals, and the latter because the movie utilizes the film’s registered logo while allegedly diminishing and diluting its value. To each of the claims, Netflix will likely raise First Amendment defenses, including how use of the logos is artistically relevant and not explicitly misleading. But for now, the move for a restraining order is what’s most pressing. Prior restraints on speech face nearly insurmountable odds in court. To overcome the First Amendment, Mossack and Fonseca present a theory of irreparable harm tied to their due process rights as potential defendants in a criminal case.

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Aug 27
2019

As The Hollywood Reporter writes, “The Laundromat” will hit select cinemas September 27 and then debut on Netflix on October 18 – a month earlier than the previously-announced November release. The Steven Soderbergh directed film has also expanded its festival run. After a world-premiere at the Venice Film Festival (September 01), it will be shown at the San Sebastian Film Festival’s sidebar section (no date yet) and the Toronto International Film Festival (September 09), where Streep is set to receive the inaugural TIFF Tribute Actor Award. Here’s the offcial synopsis: When her idyllic vacation takes an unthinkable turn, Ellen Martin (Meryl Streep) begins investigating a fake insurance policy, only to find herself down a rabbit hole of questionable dealings that can be linked to a Panama City law firm and its vested interest in helping the world’s wealthiest citizens amass even larger fortunes. The charming—and very well-dressed—founding partners Jürgen Mossack (Gary Oldman) and Ramón Fonseca (Antonio Banderas) are experts in the seductive ways shell companies and offshore accounts help the rich and powerful prosper. They are about to show us that Ellen’s predicament only hints at the tax evasion, bribery and other illicit absurdities that the super wealthy indulge in to support the world’s corrupt financial system.

Aug 20
2019

“Let Them All Talk” – a film starring Meryl Streep, Candice Bergen, Dianne Wiest, Lucas Hedges and Gemma Chan – will have its debut on HBO Max. WarnerMedia announced it picked up the project for the streaming service on Monday. Directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Deborah Eisenberg, the film tells the story of a “celebrated author who takes a journey with some old friends to have some fun and heal old wounds,” a press release said. Hedges will play Streep’s nephew and Chan will play a literary agent. “This is the kind of project where you just say, ‘Yes, please sign me up,'” Sarah Aubrey, head of original content at HBO Max, said in a statement. “To work with Steven Soderbergh and this all-star cast led by Meryl Streep is thrilling and sets the standard for features at HBO Max.” Production was underway in New York and is scheduled to move to the Queen Mary 2 cruise ship and Britain. HBO Max is set to launch in 2020.

Aug 17
2019

According to The Playlist, with the world premiere of his latest film, “The Laundromat” set to screen at the Venice Film Festival in two weeks, Steven Soderbergh is taking some much-needed downtime… by shooting a secret new film called “Let Them All Talk.” Most details are being kept under wraps, but sources close to the project tell us the movie features his “Laundromat” star Meryl Streep and Gemma Chan from “Crazy Rich Asians”. Soderbergh had been hinting at working on something new on Twitter and revealed the title of the film yesterday. Sources have confirmed to us that the project is indeed Soderbergh’s next feature-length narrative movie. One feature of the film is that it’s being shot on the brand-spanking-new RED Komodo Dragon camera, a state-of-the-art digital RED camera meant to be the new platinum standard for digital cameras. The Komodo cameras are also expected to be used for David Fincher‘s upcoming “Mank” film for Netflix starring Gary Oldman. Soderbergh had intended to finish the film and then take it out to market, but the word is out and various studios and streaming platforms—some that haven’t even launched yet—are already getting their checkbooks out and readying for the bidding war. Netflix, who is putting out “The Laundromat” in the fall, and released Soderbergh’s previous 2019 film, “High Flying Bird,” is definitely expected to be one of the bidders. “Let Them All Talk” is currently shooting in New York as we speak and don’t’ be surprised if paparazzi photos of Streep and Chan surface later today. The film will shoot for a few days in NYC first this week—with RED folks on standby—before whisking away to a remote location outside the U.S. where no one will be available to do service work on the camera at all. Here’s hoping everyone stays dry overseas.

Jul 26
2019

According to Variety, Meryl Streep will receive the Toronto International Film Festival’s Tribute Actor Award during this year’s festivities. “Meryl Streep is undoubtedly one of the most talented and versatile actors of her generation,” TIFF co-head Joana Vicente said in a statement. “Her tremendous contribution to cinema, television, and the stage spans five decades; from her early roles in “The Deer Hunter,” “Kramer vs. Kramer,” and “Sophie’s Choice” to later films including “The Devil Wears Prada,” “The Iron Lady,” and “The Post,” she has portrayed characters that are as compelling as they are timeless. TIFF could not be more thrilled to honor such a skilled and exemplary artist.” Streep will be presented with the award at the Tribute Gala on Sept. 9 at Fairmont Royal Oak. Streep stars in Steven Soderbergh’s “The Laundromat,” which will have its North American premiere at TIFF. The 44th annual TIFF runs Sept. 5-15. As previously announced, Participant Media will receive the TIFF Impact Award at the gala. The recipient of the inaugural Mary Pickford Award, honoring a female emerging talent in the industry, will be announced at a later date. In addition to “The Laundromat,” this year’s lineup also includes “Joker” starring Joaquin Phoenix, Jennifer Lopez in “Hustlers” as well as “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” a Mr. Rogers biopic starring Tom Hanks as the legendary children’s television host.

Jul 25
2019

Great news from Venice today. Ahead of the aforementioned premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, “The Laundromat” will also be screened (assumingly its world-premiere) at the 76th Venice Film Festival. With the announcement, a first synopsis for the film has been released which indicates that a) Streep is playing the central character of the film and b) announces James Cromwell and Sharon Stone as co-stars. As The Hollywood Reporter writes, “Netflix will have a solid lineup once again in Venice this year after scoring big last year when Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma took home the Golden Lion and the Coen Bros.’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs won the Best Screenplay award. Also from Netflix, Steven Soderbergh’s uber-timely Panama Papers comedy The Laundromat follows Meryl Streep as Ellen Martin, whose dream vacation takes a wrong turn and leads her down a rabbit hole of shady dealings that can all be traced to one Panama City law firm, run by seductive partners played by Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas. She soon learns that her minor predicament is only a drop in the bucket millions of files linking an off-shore tax scheme to the world’s richest and most powerful political leaders. The all-star cast also includes Jeffrey Wright, David Schwimmer, Larry Wilmore, Matthias Schoenaerts, James Cromwell and Sharon Stone”. After facing backlash for an almost all-male lineup in recent years, the good news is that Venice has doubled the number of female directors in competition. The bad news is that wasn’t too hard to do, going from one director to two out of 21 competition films. The 76th Venice Film Festival runs August 28 – September 07, 2019.