DreamWorks/Disney holds tight to the #1 spot at the box-office as The Help cleans up for the 3rd week in a row. An estimated $18 million for the 4-Day Holiday Weekend and a total of $122 mil in one month.

There’s a pre-order page already up on Amazon for the anticipated pre-Christmas release of DVD and Blu ray in editions of 3 flavors — $21, $28 and $31.

Todd McCarthy in Venice for The Hollywood Reporter:

“We have to go into uncharted territory,” the psychiatrist Carl Jung observes in regard to his own pioneering work, and the complex, fascinating topic of Jung’s and Sigmund Freud’s touchy relationship and eventual falling out over a beautiful, sexually hysterical patient has been grippingly explored by director David Cronenberg and writer Christopher Hampton in A Dangerous Method. Precise, lucid and thrillingly disciplined, this story of boundary-testing in the early days of psychoanalysis is brought to vivid life by the outstanding lead performances of Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender. Sure to be well received by festival audiences in Venice, Telluride, Toronto and New York…

UPDATE: More McCarthy, and excerpts from another favorable review, after the cut.

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Be it controversial or not there is no denying the power of The Help so much so that it is lighting up the box office through word of mouth.  The publicity has been off the hook as well, perhaps not playing to the blogerati but hitting right at the heart of white audiences, right smack dab in the middle of Blind Side territory.

I was sitting at a dinner with about six women (white, upper middle class) and the first thing that was brought up was “have you seen The Help? Wasn’t that so good?”  The conversation then checked in with who hadn’t yet seen it.  After it died down I brought up the subject of race.  Needless to say it didn’t go over well.  What did come out of the conversation was how timely the film was in terms of Hispanic nannies (do we say Hispanic or Latina?) and how there should be some rumination on this idea of what determines family and what doesn’t.

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Not quite sure why they’re giving away some of the best parts but they must know what they’re doing. This is Roman Polanski’s Carnage, adapted from the play God of Carnage. It’s hard for me to displace the original cast – Marcia Gay Harden, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini and Jeff Daniels – but they seem to be on their mark here…

It’s kind of interesting that repressed female sexuality will be front and center this year, with David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method and Hysteria, aka “The vibrator movie.” Hysteria, which will screen at Toronto, is directed by a woman, Tanya Wexler, which should make it, at the very least, believable.

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I can’t review Puncture because it is embargoed until September 19, so I can’t really say how much I liked the movie and how good Chris Evans is in it and how important the subject matter is so I’ll just say check out the cool trailer of one of my favorite films of the year.

(poster after the cut)

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From Movieweb:

Press Release via The Film Stage.  Interactive gallery at


Closing Night Film

Page Eight David Hare, United Kingdom
International Premiere
Johnny Worricker (Bill Nighy) is a long-serving M15 officer. His boss and best friend Benedict Baron (Michael Gambon) dies suddenly, leaving behind him an inexplicable file, threatening the stability of the organization. Meanwhile, a seemingly chance encounter with Johnny’s striking next-door neighbour and political activist Nancy Pierpan (Rachel Weisz) seems too good to be true. Set in London and Cambridge, Page Eight is a contemporary spy film which addresses intelligence issues and moral dilemmas peculiar to the new century. Also stars Ralph Fiennes and Judy Davis.

The Awakening Nick Murphy, United Kingdom
World Premiere
Haunted by the death of her fiancé, Florence Cathcart is on a mission to expose all séances as exploitative shams. However, when she is called to a boys’ boarding school to investigate a case of the uncanny, she is gradually forced to confront her skepticism in the most terrifying way, shaking her scientific convictions and her sense of self to the very core. Haunting and moving in equal measure, The Awakening is a sophisticated psychological/supernatural thriller in the tradition of The Others and The Orphanage, but with its own unique and thrilling twist. Starring Rebecca Hall, Dominic West and Imelda Staunton.

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Summer is almost over.  Once August ticks over into September it’s all hands on deck.  The Oscar winning Best Picture will be something that’s been released from September through December.  There has been nothing released so far this year that can win.  Before we look at the winner, though, we have to look at the potential nominees.  Any Oscar watcher with an internet connection could spitball what films will probably be among those nominated for Best Pic.  The pile is even smaller this year because so few of the films we’ve seen are “Oscar movies.”

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Nat at The Film Experience just posted this nice little preview of the hysteria to come in Roman Polanski’s Carnage.  Unfortunately, the decision was made to change the title from God of Carnage to Carnage, which changes the whole meaning of the play/movie.  God of Carnage slathers the whole thing with the idea that there is nothing particularly peaceful about the nature of man nor the justifications for violence in the name of religion (if you want to take it that far).  Carnage just means … well … mayhem, violence, mess.  Taking God out of the title is the coward’s way out all the way.  Presumably they figured American audiences can’t handle the God.  Or maybe it threw people off too much.  Either way, I can’t imagine trying to sell it or discuss it without that great and well chosen title.  Note how the French have no problem with God in the title.  Actually, it looks like the French might also be using Carnage.

The play, which I saw here in Los Angeles this year, starred James Gandolfini, Marcia Gay Harden, Jeff Daniels and Hope Davis and was about two sets of parents who meet to discuss a fight between their sons.  Throughout the evening accusations are hurled, intentions questioned, secrets revealed — each of them finding a place for their primal rage.  Humans as animals is the idea here – animals who lash out violently when threatened and who bury much of what they really feel beneath the veneer of civility.  Each character has a spectacular acting moment.  The favorite of these for me was James Gandolfini owning his inner barbarian.  But Hope Davis projectile vomiting was also a treat.  I’d see it again with those four actors in heartbeat.  With these actors I hope it is every bit as good.

Entertainment Weekly has posted a great spread of movies they’re most looking forward to. Of their list, the ones we’re eagerly anticipating include:

War Horse
The Descendents
The Ides of March
Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 (only because it’s directed by Bill Condon!)
Iron Lady
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Head over to EW to see their full gallery. We’ve poached a few of their images — after the cut.

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Probably those who greenlit The Help never imagined it would be birthed into a racially contentious time in our history.  It’s 2011 and we have our nation’s first black president – the shit has mostly hit the fan, but let’s face it – race relations have never entirely cooled down, not when Rodney King was beaten up, not when OJ was set free, not during Hurricane Katrina’s wrath, not now, when Obama and his very black family live in the very White House.  We can all pretend like it isn’t still a controversial topic,  and that we’ve moved beyond racism and all of that – but we haven’t.  The only thing, in fact, that keeps it from stirring up is the contrived political correctness we all try to adhere to.

The other thing that can sometimes help is talking about it in a realistic way.  One important voice missing in this whole debate around The Help is Oprah Winfrey.  Oprah would use her show, perhaps, to address some of these issues — her show was kind of like a town hall meeting for women (the main audience for the film) and the African American community.  But there is no Oprah so now people are taking sides. But I wondered, though, how this ends up helping or hurting people like Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, two strong black performances in an atmosphere that discourages them. Will they get flushed down the toilet with the rest of the shitstorm? Hm.

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Hitfix exclusive, the first photo of Tom Hanks in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  The film, directed by Stephen Daldry, is a true tearjerker about a kid uncovering a mystery involving his father — a casualty of 9/11.’s Rene Rodriguez on Straw Dogs:

I saw Rod Lurie’s Straw Dogs (due out Sept. 16) this morning and was immediately struck by two things: 1) The film is practically identical to Sam Peckinpah’s original, yet feels completely different (this is easily Lurie’s best work as a director); and 2) the violence isn’t nearly as shocking in 2011 as it was in 1971, but it doesn’t feel as cathartic or rousing as I expected. Instead, the mayhem felt vaguely depressing – a graphic, bloody depiction of the loss of humanity.

Pauline Kael famously referred to Peckinpah’s movie as a “fascist film,” but I doubt she would say the same about Lurie’s version, which boasts a much less graphic rape sequence and still-gory but swift violence that Lurie’s camera doesn’t linger on. I’ve been asking around lately and haven’t found a single person outside of movie critics and film buffs who has seen Straw Dogs: Peckinpah, I think, did a little too good a job at making sure his film was an unpleasant experience.

More at

Slashfilm’s got ’em.  Here’s a taste.  This is one of our most anticipated of the year.  We’re making a list.

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IMDB describes the film, which is directed by Lee Daniels, and based on the book by Pete Dexter, this way: “A reporter returns to his Florida hometown to investigate a case involving a death row inmate.”    Justjared has the pics.

Two more, and a Kirkus review of the book, after the cut.

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The best movies you never see coming. Into the Age of Anxiety comes this redux of the familiar Planet of the Apes series which relies heavily on that familiarity as it charges forward into uncharted territory. That territory is part breathtaking technology, part human self-loathing for what we’ve done, who we’ve become and our own despairing hopelessness about our future, and part rumination of the animal within: it all vibrates and quakes in this, one of 2011’s best films.

Never underestimate the element of surprise. Expectations weren’t running high — the thinking was it would be as campy as the old Planet of the Apes movies or worse, as bad as the Tim Burton one. What most weren’t expecting, of course, was that the Rise of the Planet of the Apes would be so character driven: because the technology is now seamless, there is very little separation between our awe and our emotional reaction. But still, with a movie like this there will always be those who refuse to take it seriously because technology is scary, which of course, is part of the film’s central theme.

The reason to see this movie is marvel at what we can now do with motion capture if you have the right actor (Andy Serkis) and the right FX (WETA), and a director (Rupert Wyatt) knows how to tell a good story; it’s almost shocking, for instance, how long it takes the movie to get going. It takes its time without rushing the audience headlong into the action. We get little hints of it here and there but at some point it sinks in that we’re not going to get the non-stop action and violence to which our ADD culture has become accustomed. So the audience dials it down, sits back and absorbs this odd character Caesar.

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The Guardian has built a slide-show listing 50 movies they claim are “strong Oscar contenders.” While a dozen or so are undeniably in the running for a Best Picture nomination, the best that can be said for most others named here is that they’re, um… eligible. In the dog days of August we can always doggedly gather the shiniest objects for lists of hopefuls like this. The trick now is trying to stay excited as we come to the realization that the usual suspects beginning to carve out their slots are about all we’re going to get.

There are plenty of films here with great pedigrees that will surely blow us away, but many of these “strong contenders” will be failures. We can hold onto hopes for late-breaking surprises, but there’s no need for delusional optimism either. At this stage, wishing for Oscar redemption is a bit like praying for rain in Oklahoma.

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Movieline has posted four new stills from Madonna’s movie of the love story between Wallis Simpson and abdicating King Edward. They say the story sounds like something along the lines of Julie & Julia. But here’s the thing. Not all modern stories meshed with period stories work – in fact, many of them don’t work. Julie & Julia didn’t work, particularly. So far, we’ve not seen or heard much about the modern part of W.E., which involves Abbie Cornish as a woman named Wally Winthrop. I suppose one ought to keep an open mind. Here are the stills.

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