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Sep 9, 2013

’12 Years a Slave:’ an American story unearthed by British filmmaker

TORONTO, Sept 9 (Reuters) – Set in the plantations of
sweltering southern Louisiana and based on the 1853 memoir of a
free black man sold into slavery, “12 Years a Slave” is
unmistakably an American story.

And yet, much is being made of the provenance of a film that
has won widespread acclaim from critics and audiences at
festivals in Toronto and Telluride and been touted as a top
early contender for Oscars.

Sep 9, 2013

For Billie Jean King, 40 years after feats, women have ‘so far to go’

, Sept 9 (Reuters) – The two women who
battled in Sunday’s final of the U.S. Open tennis tournament
earned prize money equal to their male counterparts and perhaps
no person was more instrumental in bringing about that parity
than Billie Jean King.

And yet, the 39-time Grand Slam title-winner is disappointed
with the progress of equality 40 years after her groundbreaking
achievements for women’s tennis and the women’s movement,
perhaps most notably her defeat of Bobby Riggs in 1973′s “Battle
of the Sexes.”

Sep 8, 2013

‘Dallas Buyers Club’ takes homophobic cowboy’s AIDS tale to Toronto

TORONTO (Reuters) – Ron Woodroof was about the most unlikely of heroes in the frightening early days of AIDS in the 1980s – a homophobic, cocaine-snorting, sex-addicted Texas rodeo cowboy who crudely made fun of actor Rock Hudson’s battle against the disease.

No one wanted to make the film about the guy for the longest time, says actor Matthew McConaughey. But 20 years after inception, “Dallas Buyers Club” – a chronicle of Woodroof’s transformation from bigot to AIDS patient to savior of many – has finally made it to the screen.

Sep 7, 2013

‘Prisoners’ captures rage and despair of a vulnerable America at Toronto film fest

TORONTO, Sept 7 (Reuters) – Forget for a minute the Hugh
Jackman of Broadway musicals and “Les Miserables” and “X-Men”
movies, and envision the Australian actor as a Pennsylvania
survivalist and desperate father who takes justice into his own
hands.

As a carpenter without enough work who stockpiles supplies
and doesn’t trust government, he is the seething vigilante who
drives the dark thriller “Prisoners,” one of the most
talked-about films at the Toronto International Film Festival
and the subject of early Oscar buzz.

Sep 6, 2013

Cumberbatch, playing Assange, praises WikiLeaks founder’s achievements

TORONTO (Reuters) – Actor Benedict Cumberbatch didn’t get any help from Julian Assange in his preparation to play the founder of WikiLeaks in the film “The Fifth Estate,” and guesses Assange probably won’t like his portrayal, even though the actor sees it as celebration of the activist’s achievements.

Cumberbatch said he didn’t have access to the polarizing figure behind the whistleblower website after Assange “stated very clearly at the beginning of the project that he didn’t want to condone the film.”

Sep 6, 2013

‘Fifth Estate’ exposes WikiLeaks in Toronto film festival debut

TORONTO, Sept 5 (Reuters) – “The Fifth Estate,” an unlikely
thriller that chronicles the emergence of anti-secrecy website
WikiLeaks and its enigmatic founder Julian Assange, premiered at
the Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday.

English actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Assange,
called the debut at Toronto the “perfect marriage” of a
festival, known for its popular participation, and a film, about
what he called “people journalism.”

Sep 5, 2013

Jennifer Hudson tackles ‘intimidating’ role of Winnie Mandela

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – For Oscar and Grammy-winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson, the decision to play anti-apartheid activist Winnie Mandela in her first lead role was no easy matter, especially when she saw what the former South African first lady meant to the nation.

In the biopic “Winnie Mandela,” which opens in U.S. theaters on Friday, Hudson plays the ex-wife of Nelson Mandela from the time she met him as a young woman, through decades as the public face for her imprisoned husband’s fight against white rule.

Sep 4, 2013

A Minute With: Vin Diesel on going dark, getting ripped and Facebook

BEVERLY HILLS, California (Reuters) – With a voice several octaves underground and a piercing stare, action star Vin Diesel goes to an even darker place as Riddick in the third installment of the sci-fi film series, nine years after “The Chronicles of Riddick.”

In “Riddick,” which opens Friday, Diesel’s ex-convict character leaves his comfortable world as leader of the Necromonger death race to search for his homeland. Once double-crossed and left for dead, he resolves to rebuild himself, both physically and morally, but must do battle against beasts and bounty hunters.

Sep 3, 2013

In era of leaks, Toronto film festival tackles transparency

LOS ANGELES/TORONTO (Reuters) – As director Bill Condon was finishing up his film “The Fifth Estate” about Julian Assange and anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden started leaking U.S. security documents, reigniting the public debate over secrecy, security and whistleblowing in the Internet era.

“The same lines were being used, the same script was being recited, it was fascinating,” said Condon. “And then Assange appeared and became part of the story.”

Aug 30, 2013

Showtime bets ‘Ray Donovan’ will be summer success for years

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – From the FBI agent tripping on acid to the action film star marrying a transsexual, the Sunday night Showtime drama “Ray Donovan” has served up its share of bizarre twists.

In the tale of a ruthless yet morally conflicted Hollywood “fixer” played by Liev Schreiber, “you never know where it is going to go,” executive producer Mark Gordon says.

    • 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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