Lance Armstrong

Up until a few years ago, Lance Armstrong‘s cycling career sounded like one of the great inspirational tales of our time. That he beat cancer was impressive enough; that he then went on to win the Tour de France a bunch of times was nothing short of incredible. Among the many people intrigued by Armstrong’s journey was filmmaker Alex Gibney, who set out to make a documentary about Armstrong’s return to the Tour de France.

Then, of course, Armstrong’s tale morphed into one of the great scandals of modern sports. He admitted to doping, was stripped of his titles, and was left in disgrace. And Gibney was there for all of it, as his documentary turned into a very, very different film. Now the first trailer for The Armstrong Lie has arrived, and you can check it out after the jump.

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Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? This week we watch a liar in a action, get musical with The Proclaimers, jump off a ledge in a wingsuit, help a starving college kid, and get genuinely touched by the Wainwrights.    
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The Killing

We have a particularly murderer-heavy edition of TV Bits today, with news about Dexter, Hannibal, and The Killing. After the jump:

  • Dallas, Veep, Rectify, and Orphan Black get renewed
  • Vampire Diaries spinoff gets green light
  • Julian Sands joins Dexter in mystery role
  • Downton Abbey gets its first black character
  • John Oliver will host The Daily Show this summer
  • Bryan Fuller has Pushing Daisies movie ideas
  • NBC affiliate axes Hannibal
  • The Killing‘s new mystery will be solved within the season
  • FX and Seth Rogen develop Bigfoot comedy
  • Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg, and Peter Berg team for HBO
  • Alex Gibney will direct Frank Sinatra documentary
  • The Arrested Development doc hits tomorrow; see more Season 4 stills

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we-steal-secrets-header

Information may be the most valuable commodity on Earth, especially when it pertains to the inner workings and policies of major governments. Julian Assange drew the ire of countless officials in governments across the globe when he published state and military secrets through his online portal WikiLeaks.

Documentarian Alex Gibney (Freakonomics, Taxi to the Dark Side, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) trained his camera on Assange and the furor surrounding WikiLeaks and the reveal of US military documents and videos, taken from classified servers and provided to Assange by Pfc. Bradley Manning. The resulting film, We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, premiered at Sundance and opens this spring; now you can see a trailer that outlines both Assange’s general ideology and the media frenzy and government concern that surrounded WikiLeaks’ rise to prominence. Read More »

With just days to go until Oscar nominations are announced, the Writers Guild of America has unveiled its list of nominees for their top screenplay awards. As expected, many of these are films that have picked up plenty of accolades already. It’ll surprise no one to see that Zero Dark ThirtyMoonrise Kingdom, and Lincoln are among the contenders. But they’ve made room for some more offbeat choices as well, including LooperPerks of Being a Wallflower, and The Master. (Jason Reitman should be pleased.) Hit the jump to see the list.

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Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: I celebrate all levels of trailers and hopefully this column will satisfactorily give you a baseline of what beta wave I’m operating on, because what better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? Some of the best authors will tell you that writing a short story is a lot harder than writing a long one, that you have to weigh every sentence. What better medium to see how this theory plays itself out beyond that than with movie trailers?

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You won’t be seeing too many of the films that premiered at Sundance 2011 get a major release this year, but that’s not entirely bad news. Though most of the sales were on the small side, a solid 39 films walked away with a distribution deal of some kind. This means that — whether it be through VOD or a limited theatrical release — there’s a good chance that any Sundance flicks you’ve been interested in checking out upon reading our coverage will be available for viewing in some capacity. This may not be the glowing indie revival I’ve been hoping for, but given the state of Hollywood at the moment, I’ll take it.

As for the films that didn’t get picked up, there may be hope for them yet. Weeks have passed since the Sundance Film Festival ended, but the sales keep on coming. The three latest pictures to be acquired are Higher Ground (the directorial debut from Vera Farmiga, which she also stars), the documentary Magic Trip (co-written/co-directed by Alex Gibney, about the psychedelic ’60s cross-country bus tour taken by Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters) and another documentary entitled The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (about the Black Power and Black Panther movements in the US). Learn more after the break. Read More »

One of the first big pieces of news out of Sundance is that Universal will fund a documentary about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, directed by Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Casino Jack and the United States of Money). Together with the biopic of Mr. Assange that is about to go into development at a different company, that would make him quite the man of the moment — if he hadn’t already been the man of the moment thanks to the actions of WikiLeaks over the past months.

[UPDATE: Deadline says that HBO is also developing a film about Mr. Assange. This one would be a co-production with the BBC based on Raffi Khatchadourian's June 7, 2010 New Yorker article called No Secrets: Julian Assange’s Mission for Total Transparency.]

More detail on each film after the break. Read More »

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