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Nov 13, 2013

‘Nebraska’ melds melancholy and humor in film homage to heartland

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – As director Alexander Payne sees it, his latest film “Nebraska” is about a dying man whose son takes him into Hades to meet all the specters of the past.

Oh, and it’s a comedy, despite that dire synopsis – one that revels in lunkhead cousins who embody how awful extended family can be and in an elderly wife who lifts her skirt over a former paramour’s gravestone to show him what he missed.

Nov 8, 2013

Documentary ‘The Armstrong Lie’ deconstructs cyclist’s myth-making

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Filmmaker Alex Gibney was not alone in being duped by Lance Armstrong and his strident denials that he had doped and cheated his way to cycling’s biggest prizes over the years.

But Gibney was in a unique position as the Oscar-winning documentary director who had set out to make what he called a “feel-good” film about Armstrong’s comeback in the Tour de France in 2009. Known for tackling tough subjects like torture during war and the fall of energy company Enron, Gibney could take a lighter approach to a common theme for him – winning at all costs.

Nov 4, 2013

Short life, lasting legacy of Jimi Hendrix chronicled in new film

LOS ANGELES, Nov 4 (Reuters) – With a soft voice and a
downward gaze, Jimi Hendrix seemed to shrink in his pastel blue
kimono-like shirt as talk show host Dick Cavett called him one
of the best guitarists in the world in 1969.

After all, his friends and family said, Hendrix was shy and
insecure. When he was performing, however, he was anything but,
laying it all out for audiences that couldn’t quite absorb the
innovation unfolding before their eyes and in their ears.

Nov 3, 2013

Scorsese, Hockney honored at LA intersection of art and film

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – American film director Martin Scorsese and British artist David Hockney were honored at the Art + Film Gala, an annual gathering that aims to bring the art and movie industries of Los Angeles closer together.

In a Saturday night event heavy with Hollywood actors and studio executives at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, or LACMA, the Oscar-winning director Scorsese was praised for helping save the museum’s film program when it was nearly scrapped during the financial crisis, and for his work on film restoration.

Oct 31, 2013

Buddy comedy ‘Last Vegas’ hits jackpot with senior star wattage

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman has a conundrum at 76 years of age: he gets plenty of job offers, but the roles tend to be serious and they only beget more serious roles.

“I would do anything that got me out of gravitas,” said the actor, who has played the likes of a prison inmate in 1994′s “The Shawshank Redemption” and Nelson Mandela in 2009′s “Invictus” over a prolific career.

Oct 23, 2013

Cormac McCarthy keeps moviegoers guessing in ‘The Counselor’

LOS ANGELES, Oct 23 (Reuters) – When Michael Fassbender
faced the challenge of interpreting the lead role in Cormac
McCarthy’s first original screenplay, he wasn’t about to quiz
the renowned American novelist about the gaps in the script for
the crime drama “The Counselor.”

The Irish-German actor figured the 80-year-old McCarthy
“wasn’t that type of guy.” And besides, Fassbender had accepted
of the enigmatic counselor from British director Ridley Scott
precisely after being drawn in by a script he called
“mysterious, original.”

Oct 21, 2013

Black American history gets 500-year rewind in PBS series

LOS ANGELES, Oct 21 (Reuters) – A new U.S. television
documentary series reaches back 500 years to demonstrate how
America’s black history contained some unsettling nuances and
uncomfortable truths from the start.

The six-part series, “The African Americans: Many Rivers to
Cross,” which premieres on PBS on Tuesday, opens with Juan
Garrido, a free black man who was among the Spanish
conquistadors who arrived in Florida in 1513. He is followed by
the first known slave, named Esteban, 13 years later.

Oct 17, 2013

In ’12 Years a Slave,’ all eyes on actor Chiwetel Ejiofor

LOS ANGELES, Oct 17 (Reuters) – One of the most memorable
scenes in the film “12 Years a Slave” is a long close-up of
actor Chiwetel Ejiofor’s eyes, wide with amazement as his
character regains his freedom after enduring the brutal bonds of
slavery on Louisiana plantations.

It is a defining moment for the British actor of Nigerian
origin in the biggest film role of his career, one that many
critics believe will yield him a best actor Oscar nomination. It
is also a role that he wasn’t quite sure he was up for.

Oct 2, 2013

Minute With: Paul Giamatti on films about JFK assassination and slave trading

LOS ANGELES, Oct 2 (Reuters) – It’s been almost a decade
since actor Paul Giamatti introduced himself to the world as the
hapless and neurotic but lovable wine aficionado Miles in
“Sideways.”

Since then, he’s played a U.S. president (John Adams) and a
Federal Reserve chairman (Ben Bernanke) and this fall he has two
more roles based on real-life characters to add to the list.

Oct 1, 2013

‘Gravity’ highlights personal adversity in deep space journey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Watching an astronaut tumbling into the void of deep space might make a mere mortal’s own adversities seem rather small.

But “Gravity,” a drama starring Sandra Bullock and showing in U.S. theaters on Friday, was born out of the setbacks suffered by one man in the midst of the last recession: its director and co-writer, Alfonso Cuaron.

    • About Mary

      "Mary Milliken is Entertainment and Lifestyle Editor for the Americas since July 2013, based in Los Angeles. In 15 years with Reuters, she been bureau chief in Washington DC, the West Coast and South America and has organized news teams covering everything from presidential elections to economic crises to natural disasters. She speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese."
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