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Quendrith Johnson


Everything happening in film covered from LA...


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When Stellan Skarsgård Calls About His New Movie In Order of Disappearance, You Better Answer

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent The first thing you hear when Stellan Skarsgård and Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland call at 8:00 am LA time for a phone interview from New York is Stellan’s unmistakable laugh. This is a far cry from the stoic Nils he plays in their new movie In Order of Disappearance that opens Aug. 26. Between the -40 celsius setting and the operatic violence, whereby Skarsgård picks off a succession of formidable enemies, including Bru...

Why You Should See HOOLIGAN SPARROW: For Women’s Rights, Yes, But To Free a Human Rights Lawyer Too

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent It may be easier to get a trade deal with China than to get a condom, or get a jailed human rights attorney freed — these are just some of the peripheral issues on view in director Nanfu Wang’s documentary HOOLIGAN SPARROW, released last week in Los Angeles. Wang’s documentary also covers child rape, female endangerment, and the universally egregious harassment of voiceless women.  To put it in the words of its champions:...

From The Last Tycoon to Woody Allen’s Café Society: Why We Love Stories About Hollywood

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent Woody Allen’s newest film Café Society just opened July 15, and it fits into a cinematic history of stories about Hollywood that audiences love. But Woody Allen himself has been a lightning rod for so long, the electricity generated off the attendant controversies could power a small town. That said, we’re talking about a movie, folks, not the personal life of the director. With that caveat, Café Soc...

Director Byrd McDonald & VINTAGE TOMORROWS, An Epic Steampunk Doc

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent That director Byrd McDonald (Haunters) is from Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, birthplace of Loretta Lynn speaks volumes about his path toward the making of VINTAGE TOMORROWS, a documentary about the movement known as Steampunk coming at you on July 19 from Samuel Goldwyn Films. Viewing this film is essential as part of any aficionado’s playlist. In the unpacking of facts as to why the Steampunk community welcomed B...

Director Susanna White on Brexit, John le Carré & Our Kind of Traitor with Stellan Skarsgård, Ewan McGregor

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent If in the fifty-odd years since British spymaster John le Carré began plying his trade as a novelist, you have somehow missed any of the screen versions of his works, know this: there are favorites. Everybody has one: from 1965’s Richard Burton classic The Spy Who Came in From The Cold to 2005’s The Constant Gardener (Rachel Weisz, Ralph Fiennes) to 2011’s Gary Oldman-starrer Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy. John ...

From Punch Cards to Stunt Hacking to Alex Gibney’s ZERO DAYS & Symantec’s Eric Chien on Stuxnet

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by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent You have to hand it to filmmaker Alex Gibney (GOING CLEAR), he has taken on everything from Eliot Spitzer’s political downfall to the Enron debacle to Lance Armstrong’s doping to soft-money “super-lobbyist” Jack Abramoff to Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, not to mention Nigerian music legend Fela Kuti. So it comes as no surprise that Gibney goes from wrestling Xenu to rattling the NSA’s cage with Z...

Who Knew The PGA Produced By Conference Was So Cool, Like Morgan Freeman Cool

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent That’s not click-bait in the headline, and we will get to the Morgan Freeman Appreciation Society in a moment; but first Day One of the Produced By Conference held June 4-5 at Sony Studios by the Producers Guild of America (PGA). It was nothing short of a rousing success yesterday. To a person, attendees gave it raves, whether from Arkansas or Iceland or Pasadena. An Infolist sponsor rep even whispered it is the only must-attend event on h...

Pixel-Perfect BILAL Takes Screen at Cannes 69th & Took a Few Years, 22 Countries to Create

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent One of the most interesting aspects of movie reviewing is looking behind the screen at the provenance of a project, and with Dubai’s first ever CGI animation, BILAL, the story behind this 1400-year-old animation saga is truly gripping. Cannes 69th Film Festival is the perfect venue for this, where it will screen shortly. The cast includes excellent actors Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (who played the yacht assassination target for Matt Damon in...

Kate Beckinsale Is For Fangirls Too In Love And Friendship, Whit Stillman’s A+ Austen Romp

By Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent “It is a truth universally acknowledged” that Jane Austen (1775-1817) will be source material in the foreseeable forever, but it is actually surprising that director Whit Stillman (Last Days of Disco, Metropolitan) has so nailed her work in his new film “Love & Friendship,” that lead Kate Beckinsale should be Oscar-worthy for 2016.  And while giddy Fanboys still own Beckinsale for her sleek, sexy turn in the &ld...

No, Johnny Depp Didn’t Get Overlooked, He Got Leonard Maltin’s Modern Master Award

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent   Tonight Johnny Depp’s alleged "Oscar slight" was put into perspective by esteemed film critic Leonard Maltin at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. “There are only five slots,” Maltin said of Depp’s absence from the Best Actor category for BLACK MASS. “It was a career high for him.” This was on the red carpet right before a sit-down interview with Johnny Depp before the Maltin Mode...

Why SPOTLIGHT Is Front Runner, #OscarsSoWhite, The Big Five & A Contentious Award Season

by Quendrith Johnson, (Awards Intelligencer, 1/19/2016) If Oscar-winner Sean Penn can go interview El Chapo, then the state of journalism really is in trouble — oh, nevermind, this is just indicative of how movie people perceive and interpret the craft. A cocky Penn goes on CBS with Charlie Rose to call out those who ‘don’t think I’m a real journalist,’ while having committed a de facto ethical violation of the profession by grandsta...

Golden Globes 2016 Noms: So What Did You Think Would Happen?

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent Raise your hand if you saw Al Pacino in "Danny Collins." Raise your hand if you saw Al Pacino in "Danny Collins" and actually liked it. Okay, kidding aside, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) announced their nominations today at 5:15 am PST, which left a few of us critics cranky. But not without the usual clear-eyed objections to the Golden Globes' mash-up of categories. Is "Joy" a comedy? Is "T...

“The Great Dames,” Elizabeth Banks & Diane Lane Fete Jane Fonda Big Time

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent What a gift when three of your favorite on-screen presences turn out to be three of your favorite off-screen presences; that’s what happened last night in Santa Barbara as the stunning Jane Fonda received the Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film from The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF). To set the scene, and this rarely happens, Jane Fonda and one of her star presenters Elizabeth Banks (“Pitch Perfect 2,”...

When Penny Marshall Got The Cinema Icon Award From Hollywood Film Fest

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent   What most people will remember from last night, when Penny Marshall was handed the Cinema Icon as Honorary Chairperson of the Hollywood Film Festival, is Marshall’s shoe comment regarding women: “You can’t direct in high heels.” And this opening night was kind of like that, a swag bag of unforgettable lines. Not just from Penny Marshall, who’s bona fides as the first $100 M female director for Tom Hanks brea...

IFFF Screenwriters' Panel: Are family films relevant for the digital age?

NEWS/EVENT ALERT: IFFF Screenwriters' Panel: Are family films relevant for the digital age? The International Family Film Festival Sunday, November 8, 2015 from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM (PST) Los Angeles, CA   IFFF PANEL - Fairbanks Theater   Screenwriters' Panel:  Are family films relevant for the digital age? A must attend event, join some of Hollywood's most prominent film scribes as they discuss how and why big-tent family films resonate more with wired aud...

King Willem Was Here & 10 Year Reconstruction of The Rijksmuseum

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent When King Willem-Alexander came to pay an official visit in June, including meeting US President Barack Obama to commemorate the 70th anniversary of The Netherlands liberation from the Nazis, he laid out some interesting facts in a quick speech during the June 1-3 tour. Coronated in 2013 upon the abdication of Queen Beatrix, then 71, the Sovereign said the main point of his visit “was to thank the United States… especially the 82nd ...

Love & Mercy’s Paul Dano, An Appreciation & He Couldn’t Get a Job at McDonald’s, Thankfully

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent   He may not look like your typical American leading man, but actor Paul Dano, 31, is likely a next Oscar contender for Best Actor come the Academy Awards presentation next year. Dano, who celebrated a birthday this month, is indelible as a younger Brian Wilson in Love & Mercy, though this latest is just a topper among many gripping performances. If you turn back the clock 10 years to The Ballad of Jack and Rose from writer-director Rebe...

Jason Segel Sticks as David Foster Wallace in “End of Tour” & Consider the Duct Tape

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent   Absolutely no one in literary circles anywhere on Planet Earth would have approved the casting of Jason Segel, (the guy who does the Musical Puppet Rock Opera of Count Chocula in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”), as David Foster Wallace for the biopic “The End of The Tour” to be released on July 31. But that’s why Segel’s unexpected interesting plasticity and flirt with authenticity as the late great lite...

Bruce Greenwood Hits Back At Critics & Talks "Good Kill" With Ethan Hawke

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent On May 15, IFC Films will release GOOD KILL starring Ethan Hawke, Bruce Greenwood, January Jones, Zoë Kravitz, and Jake Abel. It’s an unusual war-related drama in that it uncovers the world of armchair drone pilots and how they go about the business of warfare from 7000 miles away. Set in 2010, the year President Obama made headlines for biggest number of drone strikes in US Military History, Ethan Hawke plays an F-16 fighter who is r...

Susan Sarandon & son Jack Henry Robbins on Their Doc “Storied Streets” & No Vote for Hillary, ps

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent Sometime last month it was reported that Susan Sarandon, 68, exited the five-year personal relationship with New York-based ping-pong venture partner Jonathan Bricklin, 37, and while this isn’t an essential footnote in her long Oscar-winning career, ironically it does have a connection to her son’s new documentary “Storied Streets” since the impetus for the film was a player at the Sarandon-Bricklin club SPiN. Last night,...

Diversity? How About Breakout Disney Hit 'McFarland, USA’ & Kevin Costner, Carlos Pratts Gleam

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent ‘Diversity’ is a buzzword that says a lot by saying very little, so it is with McFarland, USA, from Disney, starring Kevin Costner leading a remarkable cast. When this movie opens wide on Feb. 20, nobody will need to know anything about the buzzwords, other than it is a “huge hit” from Niki Caro (Whale Rider) that will put America’s small San Joaquin Valley farming town on the map of our hearts. Costner, who showe...

Foxcatcher Magic of Steve Carell Is No Trick & Performer of the Year Award for 2015

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent Steve Carell tells a story about working with Vanessa Redgrave in Foxcatcher, the movie for which he is Oscar nominated, and in this one scene he reveals a lot about actors. It also reveals why the Academy tapped Carell, and he has been named Performer of the Year at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. To set the mood, Steve Carell’s bad son, heir John E. Du Pont, tries to hand his matriarch, Mrs. Du Pont (Redgrave) a wrestling...

Kansas Band’s Point of “Surpassing Dreams” in New Doc “Miracles Out of Nowhere” & Afterparty

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent Even if you don’t know what “prog rock” is, new documentary Miracles Out of Nowhere, that chronicles the rise of America’s iconic superband Kansas, is a must-see. Monday night three of the band members, Robby Steinhardt (violin, vocals), Rich Williams (guitar) and Phil Ehart (drums), along with longtime producer Budd Carr and director Charley Randazzo, showed up for Miracles world premiere at the Lobero Theater in Santa ...

How Michael Keaton Went From Merchant of Menace to “Soaring Above Them” in Birdman

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent   Some actors find themselves between jobs, Michael Keaton found himself between careers.  Now Oscar-nominated for Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), the veteran actor had some “This Is Your Life” moments last night when he received the Modern Master Award from the 30th International Film Festival in Santa Barbara (SBIFF).  “Let’s call it a Renaissance,” intoned Leonard Maltin, who play...

Why Jennifer Aniston’s Disappearing Act Was Essential For “Cake” & Leaving Rachel Finally

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent With Jennifer Aniston in the house, the red carpet threw off sparks last night when she blew in town to receive the Montecito Award at the 30th Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF). To put this award in perspective, fellow honorees include Daniel Day-Lewis, Geoffrey Rush, Julianne Moore, Kate Winslet, Javier Bardem, Bill Condon, Naomi Watts and Oprah Winfrey. And to put her star power in perspective, the CEO of SBIFF noted that he ...
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