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George Clooney Wrote a Petiton to Support The Interview, But No One Signed It

George Clooney wrote up a petition to support The Interview, directed at his fellow actors, and is now telling Deadline that no one would dare sign it: "It was sent to basically the heads of every place. They told Bryan Lourd [Clooney's agent] , 'I can’t sign this.' What? How can you not sign this? I’m not going to name anyone, that’s not what I’m here to do, but nobody signed the letter." They were all too afraid, too afraid to publicly side with Clooney, who is basically every famous person's BFF: "This is just where we are right now, how scared this industry has been made ... Understand what is going on right now, because the world just changed on your watch, and you weren’t even paying attention."

His solution? Sony should release the film online and he will let them know: "I just talked to Amy [Pascal, the co-chariman of Sony Pictures] an hour ago. She wants to put that movie out ... Stick it online. Do whatever you can to get this movie out. Not because everybody has to see the movie, but because I’m not going to be told we can’t see the movie. That’s the most important part. We cannot be told we can’t see something by Kim Jong-un, of all fucking people."

Here is the petition letter he sent out, as read to Deadline:

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How Annie Was Updated for 2014

Will Gluck isn't the first to remake Annie, but he's certainly the first to attempt to modernize it for the big screen. Aside from various plot and song changes (no Rooster, no Lily St. Regis, and the addition of a few tunes written by Sia), there are a slew of "It's 2014!" updates that take Annie out of the 1930s and into the new millennium. Here are the most notable. 

Annie is a foster kid — not an orphan. »

Reese Witherspoon Takes a 1,100-Mile Hike in the Remarkably Fluid Wild

When Reese Witherspoon staggers onto the Pacific Crest Trail under an oversize backpack in the smart, shapely film of Cheryl Strayed’s best-selling memoir, Wild, she’s the latest in a line of protagonists dating back hundreds if not thousands of years — people who embark on long wilderness walks to cleanse themselves of the accretions of civilization, terrible sin, or grief. Crucial to such stories is intense suffering, both physical (blisters, abrasions, sundry assaults on the flesh) and emotional (loneliness, fear, punishing memories). Women, however, weren’t always allowed to set off on epic journeys — they generally ended up in convents, taking the veil. That’s what makes Wild and Robyn Davidson’s earlier, somewhat similar Tracks so appealing. Strayed and Davidson are testing themselves physically, just like men. (Men appear in both memoirs to wonder aloud how a little lady could do such a thing.) And not only do they not take the veil, they allow themselves to have casual sex on the road. (It’s no coincidence that the movie has Strayed’s mother — who enrolls in college alongside her daughter — asking Cheryl the definition of Erica Jong’s “zipless fuck.”) Freeing themselves from society and in defiance of cautionary mansplaining, these are heroines of the purest, most literal “women’s lib” stories.

Witherspoon doesn’t look as hardy as the real Strayed, who shows up in a series of photos beside the credits. But her small stature adds to the movie’s charm. »

Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner Is Subtly Terrific

With his incomparable Mr. Turner, Mike Leigh continues to make other directors look simpleminded. His frequent collaborator Timothy Spall embodies the great early-19th-century seascape painter J.M.W. Turner, a stout little Cockney in a top hat who strides purposefully along the majestic seacoast and from one end of Leigh’s wide screen to the other, pausing to scrutinize the light the way a dog sniffs the air. Spall’s Turner is a notably unmajestic figure: It’s as if a Hogarthian caricature had been plopped down amid heavenly spires. But Leigh doesn’t present this seeming disjunction between the artist and his art as ironic, the way Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus bludgeoned you with the contrast between Mozart’s coarse manner and supernal music. (Shaffer had to distort Mozart’s character to fit the dubious thesis that God gives genius to people who don’t deserve it.) In the canvas that is Mr. Turner, the grotesque and the sublime aren’t on opposite ends of the spectrum. They blend.

The movie’s unifying motif is light, which consumes Turner’s thoughts and guides his movements. »

Emily Blunt Gives the Unwieldy Into the Woods Its Heart

Early in the film of the fairy-tale operetta Into the Woods, I was nearly jumping out of my seat with glee. The creators of the original show, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, had intended to transcend — even explode — the sugary, homogenized Walt Disney treatment. Now here it is, getting a full, lavish Disney studio production with big-deal movie stars (Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Johnny Depp) and somehow working as well if not better than it did almost 30 years ago on Broadway. My euphoria lasted a long, long time … but all good things must end. Which is also the point of the musical, though not quite in the way it happens here.

Until its hairpin turn into the apocalyptic, the material is ingenious. »

  • Posted 12/18/14 at 11:15 PM
  • Primers

Everything That’s Happened in the Sony Leak Scandal

Nearly four weeks ago, eerily adept cybercriminals hacked into Sony's computer systems, paralyzed their operations, and tapped into a trove of hypersensitive, internal information. Since that initial attack, a steady flow of revelations — including top employees' salaries, nasty Hollywood hardball emails, and illicit movie downloads — has trickled into news reports and file-sharing sites. The relentless thieves, dubbed Guardians of Peace, have made it clear they're not done tormenting the company — and won't stop until Sony meets their demands. Here's a list of everything revealed and generated by the hacks so far.

From salaries to illicit downloads. »

Kate Winslet Puts the Period Garb Back on for A Little Chaos Trailer

Hooray! Kate Winslet wears big hats, big wigs, and big skirts in A Little Chaos, a romantic drama about the building of King Louis XIV's Versailles gardens. Alan Rickman appears in a crazy wig, and you can bet that there will be a lot of secret kissing. Wonderful. 

The 10 Moments in The Interview That Would’ve Most Upset North Korea

At this point, it’s hard to know if anyone, beyond the few who went to industry screenings, will ever see The Interview. This leaves a whole lot of people in the dark about what exactly happened and why it was a big deal. Fortunately, a few writers here at Vulture were able to see it. Here is a list of the ten moments that North Korea might’ve found most offensive. (Spoiler alert, though it might not matter if the movie never gets released.)

10. The Gruesome Death of Two of Kim Jong-un’s Guards »

George R. R. Martin Is Pissed He Can’t Show The Interview at His Movie Theater

Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin is pretty upset about the whole Sony thing. So upset that he wrote about the cancellation of The Interview on his LiveJournal ("Current Mood: pissed off"):

The level of corporate cowardice here astonishes me.  It's a good thing these guys weren't around when Charlie Chaplin made THE GREAT DICTATOR.  If Kim Jong-Un scares them, Adolf Hitler would have had them shitting in their smallclothes.

How Five World Leaders Reacted to Hollywood’s Unflattering Depictions

The great irony of the whole Sony-hacking fiasco is that Kim Jong-un is a noted fan of dumb action comedies. He would have loved watching The Interview at a palace sleepover with Dennis Rodman, if only it had been about killing someone else. Now that Sony has pulled the plug on the movie though, the world will never know his thoughts. Fortunately, that’s not true of the other times Hollywood produced unflattering depictions of living world leaders. We unearthed stories of five narcissistic heads of state who not only allowed Hollywood to release movies about them without issuing death threats but actually sat down and watched the films.

Hitler, Saddam, Nixon, Clinton. »

There Is a Dance Remix of The Hunger Games Song ‘The Hanging Tree,’ and It’s, Well ...

Never leave money on the table, they say. In this case, it's the chart-topping song from The Hunger Games, Jennifer Lawrence's moving rendition of a Lumineers/Suzanne Collins collaboration, "The Hanging Tree." The original is slow and actually quite moving! The remix is ... something else altogether. And there's a good chance you'll be hearing it on the radio. (Or below.)

This Is the Interview Kim Jong-un Death Scene That Started This Crazy Mess

The Interview is filled with things that might offend North Korea, but much of the attention has been rightly paid to the scene in which Kim Jong-un’s head is blown up. For context, The Interview is about a pop journalist (James Franco) and his producer (Seth Rogen), who are brought to North Korea by Kim for an interview. After some bumbling with an assassination attempt, Franco and Rogen’s characters' plan is to instead embarrass Kim by forgoing the preapproved questions that his people wrote, instead asking seriously challenging ones. After this also backfires, Franco starts asking about Kim’s relationship with his father and singing Katy Perry’s “Firework,” which was previously established as a song both Kim and Franco’s characters love. Kim starts to cry and is embarrassed. After, Rogen and Franco try to escape by way of a tank. Kim Jong-un tries to stop them in a helicopter. Rogen and Franco fire a missile at the helicopter. You can watch what happens next on Defamer.

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The Toughest Scene I Wrote: James Gunn on Writing Thanos Into Guardians of the Galaxy

Over the next few weeks, Vulture will speak to the screenwriters behind 2014's most acclaimed movies about the scenes they found most difficult to crack. Which pivotal sequences underwent the biggest transformations on their way from script to screen? Today we put that question to a very reluctant James Gunn, who admits that there's still one scene in his summer megahit Guardians of the Galaxy that he doesn't think he quite nailed. The scene is then excerpted below.

Oh, I hate this! This is terrible, terrible. What I don’t like is that if you ask me which scenes were the hardest, they’re also the ones that, frankly, I like the least. I really would love to talk about, say, the “12 percent” scene and say that was the most difficult, but no, I kinda sat down and wrote that dialogue and then it was done. 

"Having Thanos be in that scene was more helpful to the Marvel universe than it was to Guardians of the Galaxy." »

Judd Apatow on The Interview’s Canceled Release and Whom Comedy Should Target

When Sony canceled the entire theatrical release of The Interview over fears of violence from the hacker group Guardians of Peace, Judd Apatow (who, just to be clear, has no involvement in the film) was one of many Hollywood insiders to speak out against the decision, calling it "disgraceful." John Horn, host of Southern California Public Radio's new daily arts and entertainment show "The Frame," talked to Apatow to get his fuller thoughts on the matter. (Listen to the full interview here and subscribe to "The Frame" at iTunes or Stitcher.)

"I think we’re in a dangerous situation when we give into these types of threats." »

  • Posted 12/18/14 at 1:00 PM
  • Art

Margaret Keane’s Eyes Are Wide Open

Margaret Keane is 87 years old, an impish woman in a blue suit, a turtleneck, and jeans who’d been up until 3 o’clock in the morning December 15 for the MoMA premiere of Big Eyes, the new Tim Burton film about her, her husband, and the lies he told, very publicly, in passing her own haunted-moppet paintings off as his own, getting them quite rich and famous — by 1960s standards, anyway.

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Kids’ Movies Are Really Sad and Violent, Study Confirms

Most classic children's movies are terrifically sad, if you think about it: If a cartoon mother fish isn't eaten by a barracuda in the first five minutes, then a mother deer is shot by hunters, or a father lion is trampled to death by a herd of wildebeest. The cartoon carnage! This week, in a paper published in the British Medical Journal, researchers compared the top-grossing animated children's movies to dramatic films released the same years, and found that the kids movies featured more onscreen deaths.

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How Oscar Isaac Got His Star Wars Superfan Uncle an Extra Gig in the New Movie

This is how cool Oscar Isaac is. When he got a part in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (also known as Episode VII), he let director J.J. Abrams in on a little family secret — he comes from a family of Star Wars geeks. "My family couldn't even believe it, it was the most amazing thing that ever could have happened," Isaac told us on Sunday at a Peggy Siegal–hosted reception for his most recent film, A Most Violent Year. "My uncle, my brother, my cousin are all Star Wars geeks. They're like the biggest Star Wars fans of all time. My uncle almost passed out when he found out." So Isaac arranged for his uncle to visit the set, where Abrams surprised him with an offer he couldn't refuse. "He asked him, 'You want to be in the movie?' And so he put him in as an extra!" Isaac said. "Isn't that the most amazing thing?" What his uncle gets to do, or, for that matter, everything he gets to do, Isaac can't reveal just yet — "I can't tell you any of that stuff!" — but he will admit to being a fan of the new-and-improved lightsabers. "They do look very cool." Isaac's never been to Comic-Con, but with his his first trip there on the horizon, as he'll surely go to promote Star Wars and X-Men: Apocalypse, he's contemplating whether or not to go in costume. "Maybe I'll go as a gonk droid. Then I can observe anonymously."

  • Posted 12/18/14 at 9:20 AM
  • Movies

The Sony Hack Might Have Killed a Certain Kind of Satire

As they say on the internet, quoting an Anchorman: Well, that escalated quickly. The Sony hack story, in just a few weeks, went from a bemusing diversion  — at least for those of us whose personal info wasn’t spilled all over the internet — about what Sony employees think about Adam Sandler movies to an unprecedented corporate fiasco to an Alamo-like last stand to protect Freedom of Expression, in which the Alamo got torched to the ground and American freedom is now dead (1776–2014, RIP). Yesterday Sony decided to disappear The Interview — not apologize for it, not delay it, not bury it on VOD, but actually more or less pretend that it never happened and doesn’t exist and what is this Interview of which you speak?

If you’re worried about anything disappearing, worry about the desire to push something just a little farther for the sake of being funnier. »

Steve Carell’s North Korea–Set Dark Comedy Axed

In light of Sony's hack scandal, New Regency is spiking its own North Korea–set project. Deadline reports that Pyongyang, which had Gore Verbinski attached as its director and Steve Carell as its star, was going to begin filming in March. Steve Conrad was working on the script, based on a graphic novel of the same name, in which a French-Canadian animator moves to North Korea, where he's accused of espionage. After Sony received terror threats tied to the release of The Interview earlier this week, Fox reportedly changed its mind about distributing Pyongyang — a move that proved to be crippling.

"I find it ironic that fear is eliminating the possibility to tell stories that depict our ability to overcome fear." »

  • Posted 12/18/14 at 1:17 AM

Celebrities React to The Interview Cancellation

News that Sony was canceling The Interview's Stateside release brought out heartfelt reactions Wednesday from Hollywood's finest. Jimmy Kimmel, Steve Carell, and Aaron Sorkin led a concerned pack of celebrities venting on social media about free speech and the studio's cautious response to terror threats, which referenced 9/11. Sony's unprecedented decision came Wednesday afternoon, after five of the nation's biggest theater chains said they would pull Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's dark comedy from screens because of safety concerns. Here are some of today's reactions:

"Sad day for creative expression." »