Friday, October 20, 2017

'Loving Vincent' Poised To Cross A Pivotal Mark


Loving Vincent, the world’s first fully oil painted feature film is being embraced by audiences around the globe.  First released in the U.S. on September 22, by Good Deed Entertainment, the film is poised to cross the $1million mark on a roll-out strategy that will see it in over 100 U.S./Canadian theatres this weekend.  In Poland distributor Next Film will cross 150,000 admissions this weekend after only 14 days in release. However, the biggest success so far is Italy, where distributor Adler’s event release opened at number one on October 16, with more than double the daily box office of Blade Runner 2049.  Loving Vincent has garnered over 120,000 admissions and is approaching $1.3 million box-office in only three days. 

The BreakThru Productions/Trademark Films Polish-UK co-production has also started strongly in Switzerland, the Middle East, Vietnam, and Chile and will release in over 130 territories in coming months.  Starring Douglas Booth, Saoirse Ronan, and Chris O’Dowd, Loving Vincent is already tipped as an Academy Award front-runner by the U.S. press, and won the coveted Audience Award at the International Animation Festival in Annecy in June, receiving a ten-minute standing ovation.  The film is certified “Fresh” on US critic/audience barometer Rotten Tomatoes with an 89 percent top critics rating, and audience approval of 94 percent.

Hand-painted in Gdansk and Wrocław, Poland, with a smaller satellite studio in Athens, Greece, the film was a titanic effort by 125 painters, selected from over 5,000 applicants from around the world, to complete some 65,000 hand-painted frames.  Directed by Polish painter and animator, Dorota Kobiela, co-directed by her Oscar-winning husband, Hugh Welchman, produced by Welchman, his BreakThru partner Sean Bobbitt, and Trademark Films’ Ivan Mactaggart, and with a score by Clint Mansell, the film took a total of nine years from inception to last month’s first theatrical release. 


After a successful initial Kickstarter campaign, the film was backed by funders including Silver Reel, RBF Productions, Sevenex Capital Partners, the Polish Film Institute and the Doha Film Institute.  

“It was a tough journey, but with support initially from within Poland, and then from adventurous individuals, companies and organisations from a whole range of countries who all passionately believed in this film, and with the incredible commitment of our talented painters and amazing cast, we were able to bring Loving Vincent to audiences all over the globe,” says Hugh Welchman.

Tyler Perry's Boo2! A Madea Halloween Opens




By Darlene Donloe

At the premiere for Tyler Perry’s Boo2! A Madea Halloween, Perry himself started off the night by telling the packed theater, “To all the academy members in the house, you ain’t gon’ like this shit.”

Maybe he was thinking of the film’s 2016 predecessor, Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween, that felt the wrath of less than impressed critics.


To his credit, for bad or for worse, Perry knows his audience. He knows what they like and he knows how to give them what they want. And, it would seem, they want as much of Madea as they can get.

Well, whether it’s a trick or a treat, Madea, Bam (Cassi Davis) and Hattie (Patrice Lovely) are back in Tyler Perry’s Boo2! A Madea Halloween, opening nationwide Friday, Oct. 20.

This time the wacky trio, accompanied by Madea’s brother, Joe, set out to save Brian’s daughter, Tiffany, from the bogeyman.

Tiffany (Diamond White), has just turned 18 and is ready to sow her wild oats. Once again, she wants to party with the frat brothers, but the venue has changed. This time the party is in a spooky campsite where a number of unsolved murders occurred.

Brian doesn’t want her to go, but Debrah (Taja V. Simpson) Tiffany’s mother, thinks it’s time to loosen the reigns on her daughter – so she allows her to go to the party.

As the party revs up, mayhem ensues. Creepy men with chainsaws and little creepy girls appear – scaring the crap out of everyone.

Madea, Bam, Hattie and Joe to the rescue!  Well, maybe! All four pile into Madea’s car and drive to the haunted campground where they find themselves running for their lives from the evil that inhabits the grounds.  

There are some very funny moments in the film – not enough to sustain the 100 minutes, but enough to get several giggles. Perry’s patented banter between the characters is what keeps the film moving. That being said, it’s redundant. It’s almost the same in every scene. The editing is a bit jumpy and the dialogue is weak and uneven.

(l-r) Cassi Davis, Patrice Lovely and Tyler Perry
Photo by Chip Bergman/Lionsgate

Boo 2 is written by, directed by and stars Perry in three roles (Madea, Joe, and Brian). Perry gives Joe the best lines. Joe’s dialogue is deliciously naughty bordering on creepy sex fiend.

Here’s the deal - Tyler Perry and Madea fans will probably find the film appealing.  It’s not award-winning material, but if you just want to sit, forget what’s going on in the world – and get a few laughs – you might like this film.

Tyler Perry’s BOO2! A Madea Halloween stars Tyler Perry, Cassi Davis, Patrice Lovely, Yousef Erakat, Diamond White, Lexy Panterra, Andre Hall, Brock O’Hurn, and Tito Ortiz.

Rated PG-13 for sexual references, drug content, language and some horror images. Running time: 100 min.


On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likable), O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), Tyler Perry’s BOO2! A Madea Halloween (Lionsgate) gets a L (likable).

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Joe Morton is Dick Gregory in 'Turn Me Loose'

Joe Morton in Turn Me Loose

By Darlene Donloe

When Joe Morton makes his entrance through the audience seated in a nightclub type atmosphere, he stops at an unsuspecting patron and says,  “I can see that quite a few northern liberals are here tonight. Come out to see a real nigger do his thing. Well, I’m glad you’re here. Glad to see all you white folks. Comin’ out to see Dick Gregory. Ain’t that nice?!”

With such a powerful opening, one would be wise to strap in tight because you know it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

That’s how Morton kicks off the show, Turn Me Loose, written by Gretchen Law, directed by John Gould Rubin and featuring John Carlin. Reprising his critically-acclaimed off-Broadway performance, Morton is brilliant in this full-length play for the stage from the life and works of Dick Gregory. It’s now playing through November 19 at the Wallis Annenberg Performing Arts Center. 

A few minutes into his tour-de-force performance and Morton’s forehead is glistening from moisture. He’s already sweating, profusely, through his shirt. One could say it’s from the lights on the stage, but in reality, it’s probably due to the intensity of Morton’s performance.

Joe Morton and Kerry Washington in Scandal

This is clearly one of Morton’s best roles to date. Yes, he’s making waves with his “I am the hell and the high water” Papa Pope portrayal on ABC’s Scandal, but his role as Dick Gregory fits like a glove.

With ease and bravado, Morton peels back the layers of Gregory’s interesting life. Like the phoenix Gregory rose from poverty to become one of the most respected comedians and civil rights activists in modern times. The play alternates between the 1960’s and the present day. With ease, it switches venues from clubs and cafes in the 60’s to present day clubs and the theater in which it is being performed.

While Gregory, who died August 19, 2017, at the age of  84, was best known as a stand-up comedian who delivered social satire like no other, he was also very much an activist. He used his fame to bring attention to civil rights movement and the various racial injustices perpetrated upon the Colored, Negroes, African Americans, and Blacks.

Dick Gregory

“Negroes up north won that election for Kennedy right out there on the south side of Chicago. We was out there votin’ six or seven times apiece. Don’t get me wrong, we
weren’t trying to cheat or anything. We was just tryin’ to make up for all those times we couldn’t vote!”  

Yes, during his career Gregory played for laughs, but there was always this underlying, slow-simmering desire to poke the bear.  He would deliver his messages – wrapped in laughter – but always with the intent to start a conversation.  It wasn’t always easy. Gregory, whose autobiography, Nigger, became a #1 best-selling book, played to audiences that were laced with rednecks who didn’t appreciate his voice.  His show was sometimes met with disdain from bigots and hecklers who wanted him to go back to Africa or simply disappear.

During his career, Gregory was met with personal tragedy, but also with a few triumphs.  Gregory’s son died while he was on the road with his friend and fellow civil rights activist Medgar Evers. Gregory, who had 10 children with his wife, Lil, felt his son was a sacrifice in order that he, himself would live to continue the civil rights fight.  A few weeks later Evers was shot dead in front of his home.  According to Gregory, he and Evers were prepared to die for what they believed in.

Joe Morton and John Carlin in Turn Me Loose

He was so successful when the Playboy Club booked him to replace a white comedian that the Club offered him a three-year contract. When Gregory received a call to appear on the The Tonight Show, hosted by Jack Paarhe turned it down because black performers were not allowed to sit on the couch and talk like the white guests. Gregory, who was in demand at the time - held out until The Tonight Show agreed to let him sit on the couch. It was a personal triumph for Gregory, but he viewed it as a triumph for the race.

He hangs up the phone, almost breaks down, but
recuperates
(pause)
All right, Richard Claxton Gregory. Dick.
Pointing at himself in the mirror
I can sit on that couch.
(pause)
You hear that Big Prez?
(pause)
I can sit on the couch.
(pause)
I can sit on that mother-fucking couch.

Joe Morton

The staging is perfect. There is a lone microphone for when he is in the nightclub, a table and a bottle of alcohol when he’s supposed to be in his dressing room and a table with two chairs and two microphones when he’s on a talk show. Nothing else is needed.

Kudos to Chris Barreca (scenic design), Susan Hilferty (costume design), Stephen Strawbridge (lighting design) and Leon Rothenberg (sound design).


Turn Me LooseWallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Lovelace Studio Theater, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; 8 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 19; Tickets: $60-$75 (prices subject to change)(310) 746-4000 or www.thewallis.org/TML

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes (no intermission).
On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likable), O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), Turn Me Loose gets an E (excellent).

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

LA Film Festival Moves To Fall At Arclight Cinemas


SEPTEMBER 20-28, 2018 AT ARCLIGHT CINEMAS

Withoutabox is New Official Submission Service;
Entries Accepted Beginning January 1

LOS ANGELES (October 18, 2017) — Today Film Independent announced new dates for the LA Film Festival and a multi-year partnership with ArcLight Cinemas. The Festival, previously held in June, will now take place in late September starting in 2018. Submissions for the 24th edition of the Festival will open January 1, 2018, exclusively on Withoutabox, as part of a new multi-year collaboration.

"The secret to dramatically changing something is to change it," said Jennifer Cochis, LA Film Festival Director. "My passion for this Festival is unwavering and the time for an evolution has come. Film Independent is so proud of the work we’ve done in showcasing new American and international cinema that embraces diversity, innovation, and unique perspectives, but the fact is that summer is a challenging time for artist-driven films, and fall is where we clearly belong. This shift in our dates is an important step in enacting my aim to further develop the LA Film Festival, I sincerely look forward to better serving filmmakers, film lovers, the city and the industry in the fall of 2018 and beyond."

“We are proud to be the home of the LA Film Festival. The festival has been a staple for filmmakers and cinephiles in Los Angeles," said Gretchen McCourt, Executive Vice President at ArcLight Cinemas. "LA is an entertainment mecca and has been home to ArcLight for over 15 years. It is partnerships like this that continue to make our programming unique. We couldn't be more thrilled to be with them on this journey."

"Great festivals need great partners, and we couldn't be happier to be entering a multi-year collaboration with ArcLight Cinema and Withoutabox," said Film Independent President Josh Welsh. "LA audiences know and love the ArcLight experience, and as our submissions continue to grow, Withoutabox is the ideal service for us to accept and evaluate submissions from filmmakers all over the world." 

Creators can submit their work to the LA Film Festival for consideration beginning on January 1, 2018, exclusively on Withoutabox.

ABOUT THE LA FILM FESTIVAL
The LA Film Festival is a key part of the exhibition arm of the nonprofit arts organization Film Independent. Showcasing new American and international cinema that embraces diversity, innovation, and unique perspectives, the Festival produces one-of-a-kind events featuring critically acclaimed filmmakers, industry professionals and award-winning talent from Los Angeles and around the world. The Festival’s signature programs include Diversity Speaks, Women Who Lead Luncheon, Spirit of Independence Award, Coffee Talks and more. The Festival’s Future Filmmakers Showcase supports high school filmmakers with screenings of their work and community-based film education opportunities. For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Albina Oks, Director of Corporate Sponsorship, aoks@filmindependent.org or 310.432.1252.

ABOUT FILM INDEPENDENT
Film Independent is the nonprofit arts organization that champions independent visual storytelling and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation, and uniqueness of vision. Film Independent helps filmmakers make their movies, builds an audience for their projects, and works to diversify the film industry. Film Independent’s Board of Directors, filmmakers, staff, and constituents are comprised of an inclusive community of individuals across ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race and sexual orientation. Anyone passionate about film can become a Member, whether you are a filmmaker, industry professional or a film lover.

In addition to producing the Spirit Awards, Film Independent produces the LA Film Festival and Film Independent at LACMA Film Series, a year-round, weekly program that offers unique cinematic experiences for the Los Angeles creative community and the general public.

With over 250 annual screenings and events, Film Independent provides access to a network of like-minded artists who are driving creativity in the film industry. Film Independent’s Artist Development program offers free Labs for selected writers, directors, producers and documentary filmmakers and presents year-round networking opportunities. Project Involve is Film Independent’s signature program dedicated to fostering the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry. For more information or to become a Member, visit filmindependent.org.

ABOUT ARCLIGHT CINEMAS
ArcLight Cinemas, created by Pacific Theatres, a privately owned, Los Angeles based company with 60 years of theatrical exhibition history throughout California, Hawaii, and Washington is a premiere movie-going destination with an unparalleled commitment to bringing a variety of rich cinematic content to all audiences.  The company brings to life an uninterrupted immersive movie-going experience with no distractions, and a promise to exhibit films the way moviemakers intend their movie to be watched.

ArcLight Cinemas operates seven theaters in California including Hollywood, Pasadena, Sherman Oaks, El Segundo, Santa Monica, Culver City and La Jolla, as well as theaters in Bethesda, Md., Chicago and Glenview, Ill., with a new location in Boston for 2019. ArcLight also owns and operates the historic Cinerama Dome and programs the TCL Chinese Theatre and IMAX in Hollywood. Pacific Theatres currently operates theaters in Los Angeles that include The Grove and The Americana at Brand in Glendale, Calif. Additional information about ArcLight Cinemas is available athttp://www.arclightcinemas.com.

ABOUT WITHOUTABOX
Withoutabox (https://www.withoutabox.com) is the premier submission service for film festivals and filmmakers. Since 2001, Withoutabox has enabled nearly 3 million festival submissions to the leading film festivals in the world, and more than 150 of these titles went on to receive an Academy Award® nomination with dozens eventually winning an Oscar®. Withoutabox provides a powerful and convenient solution for festivals seeking a service to manage their film festival submissions. World-renowned film festivals that rely on Withoutabox to exclusively manage their submissions include The Sundance Film Festival and The Toronto International Film Festival. Filmmakers using Withoutabox can easily submit their films to film festivals around the word and can automatically create a title page for their film on IMDb (the #1 movie website in the world), reaching more than 250 million unique monthly visitors worldwide. Withoutabox continues to evolve on behalf of its customers, including recent product enhancements such as promo codes; a Fire TV Festival Judging App; HD online screeners; a redesigned filmmaker experience; and support for Vimeo links. To learn more about Withoutabox or to sign up, visit https://www.withoutabox.com. Withoutabox is owned and operated by IMDb.com, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) (http://www.amazon.com). IMDb also offers the membership-based service IMDbPro (http://www.imdbpro.com), the essential resource for entertainment industry professionals.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Master Interview With TV Pioneer Herman Rush

(L-R) Lee Miller, President, The Caucus Foundation, Bob Papazian, The Caucus Co-Chair, Herman Rush, Chairman of Membership Committee, The Caucus, Tanya Hart, The Caucus Co-Chair, and Veteran TV Producer and Executive, Dennis Doty and The Caucus Panel Chair. 
Photo credit: Courtesy of The Caucus 

Television pioneer Herman Rush told enchanting stories coupled with personal photos to a full house
 recently at The Caucus for Producers, Writers & Director’s Master Interview held at Emerson College.  Dennis Doty, the caucus panel chair, interviewed Rush during the interview.

Annually, The Caucus selects one industry legend to participate in a Master Interview, which focuses on the person’s expertise and how they used great skills or proficiency to accomplished their goals. Chuck Fries, Chair Emeritus, The Caucus, founded the Panel Programs, which includes Master Interview and continues to supervise these panels. This year, Herman Rush television pioneer and former President of the Television Division of Creative Management Associates (now ICM) and former CEO of Columbia Pictures Television Group (now Sony Pictures) was chosen. He also served as partner and Executive Producer of the Montel Williams Show, which aired five times a week for 17 years.

About The Caucus for Producer, Writers & Directors
The Caucus is leading the evolution of television by providing a creative forum for Producers, Writers & Directors to explore the issues of the ever-changing landscape of content and exhibition.  The Caucus is proud of its rich history and esteemed membership of television innovators.  For over 40 years, The Caucus has provided an opportunity for the best and the brightest talent to network and voice the 'creative conscience' of the Television Industry.  Today, we continue to stand for better and meaningful content across all platforms.  As Producers, Writers, and Directors we support a working environment that fosters, through our various programs, the best content that we can create for our audiences.

In addition to its professional membership, The Caucus is proud of its non-profit work through The Caucus Foundation. Established in 2000 to help launch the careers of future entertainment professionals in film, television and emerging media; The Foundation provides completion grants to student thesis productions from accredited universities and colleges.  To date, The Caucus Foundation Grant Program has given over $1.6 million dollars in cash and in-kind awards.

Current members of The Caucus also include: JJ Abrams, Kevin Bright, James Burrows, Suzanne de Passe, Vin Di Bona, Dennis Doty, Chuck Fries, Tom Hanks, Tanya Hart, Charles Floyd Johnson, Lee Miller, Bob Papazian, Norman Powell, Herman Rush and others leading producers, writers and directors.