VOTD: 15 Years of Fox Searchlight

Fox Searchlight released their first film, The Brothers McMullen, in 1995. This year the minimajor is celebrating their 15th anniversary. Anyone who reads /Film knows that I tend to love the type of films that Searchlight picks up at Sundance, and more recently, the films Searchlight has been producing in house (Aronofsky’s Black Swan, Boyle’s 127 Hours, Romanke’s Never Let Me Go to name a few). /Film reader Kees van Dijkhuizen put together a short video showcasing some of the great films Searchlight has brought up over the last 15 years. You might remember that Kees created some of the video montages we’ve posted in VOTD in past years including Cinema 2009: 1 Year, 342 Movies, 12 Months of Production, 7 Minutes and the movies of Cinema 2008. It looks like someone at Fox saw his work and commissioned the video editor to create this video for Fox Searchlight 15th anniversary. Here is Kees description:

15 Years of Drama, Compassion, Icons, Romance and Challenges. Some of the best indie flicks came were brought to us by Fox Searchlight, and to celebrate their 15 year anniversary, here’s a quick recap of what they have brought us. Some of the movies featured include Juno, The Darjeeling Limited, Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later, Sunshine, (500) Days of Summer, Napoleon Dynamite, The Last King of Scotland, Crazy Heart, Sexy Beast, One Hour Photo and Thirteen.

Watch the video now embedded after the jump.

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This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

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AVATAR
(Releases on Thursday, April 22)
Avatar’s crowning achievement is that it could not have been made at any time prior to right now. Put that into perspective: it took over 100 years of film history transpiring to allow for this movie’s existence. And in utilizing that century’s worth of technological progress, James Cameron managed to create one of cinema’s most awe-inspiring spectacles: the world of Pandora. Without Pandora, and without the visual effects that made Pandora possible, Avatar would be nothing. It is by far the most compelling character in the film. While the design of the creatures, botanical life and Na’vi may not be especially unique, it’s the vibrant, gorgeous rendering of these elements that makes the world feel so lush and alive. Avatar is an ‘experience’ movie, more successful at taking you on a journey filled with beauty, excitement and discovery than it is at telling an engrossing story. This is also the reason the film is bound to lose much of its appeal in the transition from IMAX 3D to home video. The plot and characters just aren’t that compelling, seriously lacking in both originality and emotional resonance. Viewers keep fixating on the similarities in plot to Dances with Wolves, Pocahontas, Ferngully, The Last Samurai, and so on, but really, the familiarity of the story would not have been a problem had Cameron expanded or added onto the formula in any meaningful way, instead of stripping it down to its bare essence. Characters fare even worse, with central protagonist Jake Sully (played by Sam Worthington) doing his darndest to earn the title of cinema’s blandest hero, and the supporting cast leaving even less of an impression than him. All of the characters are relegated to embodying the most stereotypical traits of their societal roles, often feeling like a naïve 15-year-olds interpretation of what scientists, the military, and Native Americans act like (having apparently been learned from years of comic books and Saturday morning cartoons). The only two characters that inspire any sort of an emotional response are Neytiri (played by Zoe Saldana) and Colonel Quaritch (played by Stephen Lang), and that’s due entirely to the engaging performances of the actors playing them, as even they’re not exempt from Cameron’s groan-worthy dialogue and simplistic characterizations. If it weren’t for the film being so damn pretty, I’d probably hate it.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – None. Blu-ray – Includes a copy of the DVD.

BEST DVD PRICE
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BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
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Amazon – $19.99

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slashfilmcast550

edgeofdarknessposterIn this week’s episode of the /Filmcast, David Chen, Devindra Hardawar, and Adam Quigley discuss the art of the new Wall Street teaser, reflect on the business of indie cinema, and offer some of their favorite films and disappointments from Sundance 2010. Special guest Steve Weintraub (AKA Frosty) from Collider joins us this evening.

You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. Join us next week on Monday night at 9 PM EST / 6 PM PST at Slashfilm’s live page as we review From Paris with Love.

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crazyheartThe /Filmcast Interview is a series of conversations with actors, directors, and other key figures from the entertainment industry. In this episode, David Chen speaks with Crazy Heart director Scott Cooper about the challenges of being a first-time director, how he achieved the film’s amazing sound design, and Jeff Bridges’ remarkable physical transformation. Crazy Heart is out in limited release today.

Have any questions, comments, or suggestions? Want to be interviewed on the /Filmcast? Feel free to e-mail us at slashfilmcast@gmail.com. You can also call and leave a voicemail at (781) 583-1993.

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oscar_headerGriping about the arbitration of those Oscar folk at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences seems to be a rather popular sport, and one in full season right now. For some reason, the most frequent complaints seem to revolve around the terms of admission to the music categories.

You may recall the hubbub when Johnny Greenwood’s music for There Will Be Blood was denied eligibility, or when the song Falling Slowly from Once was challenged. The song was ultimately allowed to compete after AMPAS deemed it had been initially conceived for the film despite appearing elsewhere before the film was completed. This year’s victims would appear to be Karen O, T Bone Burnett and Brian Eno. What do all of these people have in common? They’re from the world of pop music, not specifically film composition. Surely somebody will cry “Prejudice!”?

Of course, it’s not that simple because the scores for the latest Harry Potter, The Blind Side, Bruno and Funny People have also been scratched off the list this year – though I suppose the involvement of sometime pop musician Jason Scwhartzman in the Funny People score wouldn’t go unnoticed.

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Crazy Heart Movie Trailer

Crazy Heart

Yesterday we saw the first poster and images from Crazy Heart, Fox Searchlight’s film which stars Jeff Bridges as “a washed-up, alcoholic country singer who gets his life back on track thanks to a reporter-type (Maggie Gyllenhaal).” I’ve heard from a couple of people in the know that Bridges will be a contender for Best Actor with his performance. And lets not forget that Robert Duval and Colin Farrell round out the cast.

Searchlight has now released the first trailer for the film, which you can watch embedded after the jump. The story is drawing strong comparisons to Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler, and after watching the trailer, you will definitely see why. As always, I’d love to hear what you think — leave your thoughts in the comments below!
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CRAZY HEART

When I reported on Crazy Heart in 2008, the film was affiliated with the CMT network, yet drew my interest with a cast that included Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Robert Duval. All of these actors excel in roles steeped in the weathering of life and excess, and this tale of, “a washed-up, alcoholic country singer (Bridges) who gets his life back on track thanks to a reporter-type (Gyllenhaal),” obviously played to those strengths on the surface. The addition to the cast of Colin Farrell, forever in our good graces for In Bruges, made this a must-see no matter what.

Well, here we are in the fourth quarter of ’09 and the performance by Bridges is in the thick of Oscar buzz, drawing early comparisons to Mickey Rourke’s unflinching, redemptive arc in The Wrestler. Furthering this parallel, Crazy Heart is being distributed by Fox Searchlight, the company behind Darren Aronofsky’s comeback favorite; they recently decided to give Heart a limited release next month to qualify for consideration by the Academy. A poster for the film is out and attached below.

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Dropping a huge CMT logo on Slashfilm readers is like lobbing two Wall-E fatties into our communal swimming pool. I had to. The amount of monies offered to Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Robert Duvall to star in CMT FilmsCrazy Heart was not revealed. This logline is awesome…

Bridges will star as a washed-up, alcoholic country singer who gets his life back on track thanks to a reporter-type (Gyllenhaal). (Female reporters in movies, always presumably getting down!)

CMT Films previously envisioned Dale, the admirably titled Dale Earnhardt story, so maybe Duvall, who is also co-producing, will reprise his role in Days of Thunder by shouting and grinning at cars speedin’ around a track. Bridges, who once starred in the pretty cool American Heart, will perform country numbers in the film, and T. Bone Burnett will offer up some new tunes as well. According to Variety, filming starts next month. That leaves plenty of time for pre-gaming.

Slashfilm reader, Sheriff Dewey, refers us to the 1983 film, Tender Mercies, starring Duvall as…

“Mac Sledge, alcoholic former country singer, makes friends with a young widow and her son. The friendship enables him to find inspiration to resume his career.”

Discuss: CMT Films, the new rollerball? The Nascar selection at Target in Brooklyn. Grand Theft Parsons. Cisco Pike.

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