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Yes Not Maybe So: Bombshell

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Directors of For Sama

Lulu Wang (The Farewell)
Ritesh Batra (Photograph)
Schmidt & Abrantes (Diamantino)
Wanuri Kahiu (Rafiki)
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Entries in Rene Russo (9)


Meet the Contenders: Rene Russo "Nightcrawler"

Each weekend a profile on a just-opened Oscar contender. Here's abstew on this weekend's new release, NIGHTCRAWLER, which is a perfectly dark treat for a Halloween opening.

Rene Russo as Nina Romina in Nightcrawler

Best Supporting Actress

Born: Rene Marie Russo was born February 17, 1954 in Burbank, California

The Role: Screenwriter Dan Gilroy (2006's The Fall, The Bourne Legacy) makes his directorial debut with Nightcrawler (which he wrote as well). The film stars a gaunt, crazy-eyed Jake Gyllenhaal (a Best Actor Contender) as Lou Bloom, an unemployed but determined man in Los Angeles that stumbles upon a career as a news journalist. He video records car crashes, home invasions, and bloody crimes, selling the footage to the local news station. Russo stars as a veteran television producer, in charge of the "vampire" shift of the lowest rated station in town. She encourages Bloom's budding career, forming a twisted relationship with him to gain viewers.

The film is also a family affair for Russo who is married to Gilroy (he also wrote two of Russo's previous films 1992's Freejack and 2005's Two for the Money) and her brother-in-law, Oscar nominated writer/director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, Duplicity), is a producer on the film.

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Cinema de Gym: 'Outbreak'

Kurt here with your weekly movie exercise. This week at the gym I saw Outbreak, the 1995 disaster drama that cashed in on the Ebola virus fears that tore through the U.S. in the late '80s and early '90s. The virus in Outbreak is known as Motaba, which also has African origins and is spread via a monkey host (the film is loosely based on The Hot Zone, a nonfiction book about Ebola by New Yorker reporter Richard Preston). For me, there is no scarier film villain than the global pandemic. You can always outrun Ghostface, or jab Michael Myers in the eye with a wire hanger. Even an apocalyptic meteor is somehow less terrifying, perhaps because it arrives in a flash, its devastation unseen until that moment of impact. The indiscriminate horror of an unstoppable disease creeps in around you like darkness, randomly affecting others until it catches you, and there's nothing you can do about it. I've never been good with sickness, so the concept of the ultimate sickness always hits a nerve (you can bet I had irrational fears during the whole Swine Flu scare).

Which, of course, is why I've always responded strongly to pandemic films. Though many have surely been done well, global-killer thrillers involving zombies can't elicit the same reaction. The mad upending of all that makes logical sense in the world remains intact, but there's always the comfort of fantasy. Truly scary are things like Stephen King's The Stand, which – before it, too, becomes highly fantastical – offers a chilling vision of a wiped-out population. Released just a year later, Outbreak ditches the fantasy, save your typical Hollywood plot contrivances. Its solace (and script convenience) is that the fatal bug is basically confined to a tiny town (the fictional Cedar Creek, Calif.), and poses only the threat of worldwide infection. But hell if that made a whole lot of difference to yours truly.

I remember being very into this movie in the '90s; however, I don't think I ever knew it was directed by Wolfgang Peterson, he of Das Boot, The Perfect Storm and Poseidon fame. If pandemics are one rung up from earthbound meteors, then Petersen is a few rungs up from his oft-confused German counterpart, Roland Emmerich, who's far more gruesome, bombastic and frequent in his attempts to kill mass amounts of people. Petersen also knows how to assemble a classy cast, as Outbreak stars Dustin Hoffman, Morgan Freeman, Rene Russo (please get back to work!), Kevin Spacey, Donald Sutherland, Cuba Gooding Jr. and a blink-and-miss McDreamey as the first Motaba victim. 

The culpritThe segment I caught consisted mainly of Hoffman's Col. Sam Daniels and Gooding Jr.'s Major Salt tracking down that monkey, first on a ship, then finally in the backyard of a suburban home, where a young girl's been feeding it like a pet. Source of both virus and antivirus, the monkey is the cure, and Col. Daniels is especially motivated, seeing as things have grown personal (ex-wife Russo's got Motaba) and bloodthirsty bureaucrats are on his tail (Sutherland, whom we just saw in Fool's Gold, plays one Gen. McClintock, the sort of military man with bio-weapons on the brain). At the end of my session, McClintock and Daniels were embroiled in a helicopter chase, which kicks off with one of those only-in-the-movies exchanges that beckons for applause. “With all due respect, Col. Daniels, I will blow you out of the sky,” McClintock snarls. “With all due respect,” Daniels retorts, “f**k you. Sir.”


1. In addition to showing off the enviable physiques of Matthew McConaughey and Will Smith, my gym is now urging me to keep healthy with the threat of disease.
2. Don't let your nieces and nephews and sons and daughters play with monkeys, as fleas could be the least that they're carrying.
3. Donald Sutherland, whom I also just saw in Horrible Bosses, is officially stalking me.
4. Disease > Meteor. Wolfgang > Roland.

What scares the bejesus out of you at the movies?


Team Experience: "Maleficent" and More

I'm always curious about your film experiences out there in the dark. That curiousity extends to the contributors here at TFE, not all of whom I know in real life given that they're spread across the globe. You know them, virtually speaking. Hopefully you love them. But I thought we'd ask them a couple of questions each week. Feel free to answer yourself in the comments and join the conversation.


JA: A tie between every single second of Emmanuel Lubeszki's photography for The Tree of Life (it's a gorgeous film that left me cold), and that probably photoshopped image of Jake Gyllenhaal doing the Grace Jones pose in his underpants. I see beautiful things!

Andreas: John Carpenter's The Thing -- after several viewings, it retains all of its original power.

Robert: Ramin Bahrani's short film Plastic Bag. I stumbled upon it while attempting to keep my Herzog high going after being enthralled by Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Bahrani's film follows and anthropomorphized plastic bag (shades of American Beauty are minimal) and finds itself spiraling into themes of life, death, and meaning and best of all, it's narrated by Werner Herzog himself... as the plastic bag of course!

Michael (Unsung Heroes). The best thing I saw this week was, without question, the montage of drunk cast members from the latest episode of Parks and Recreation. I want an episode length edit of all the improv that went into that scene.

Jose: Since theaters here are only playing four movies (Rio, Fast and Furious 5, Thor and Priest) I re-watched Gone With the Wind in HD. Mind blowing!  Sure gives any new movie a run for its money. It also felt much shorter than Thor.


Michael : the worst thing I saw, or rather didn't see, was screen time for Rene Russo in Thor. It's been forever since Russo had a high-profile gig and she gets 30 measly seconds of screen time? You can't tease me like that Thor.

Andreas: The first 10 minutes of I Know Who Killed Me. (Nonetheless, I may revisit it later; I'm a glutton for punishment.)

JA: The worst thing I saw was the original ending to Alexander Payne's Election. Truly, stupefyingly awful.


Robert: The marriage between Tim Burton and Disney makes me so sad. They're like two people who were really sexy back in high school, still trying to fit into their cheerleading and football uniforms, telling each other how great they still look, and wondering how that dorky kid Quentin got so popular (this metaphor has gotten away from me). But I still want to like them very much. So I guess what I'm saying is I wish they'd split and find new partners who could convince them to hit the gym... cinematically speaking.

JA: Never much loved Sleeping Beauty as a kid - I was all up in Alice in Wonderland and Fantasia - so I was never attached, beyond really liking the way the word "Maleficent" rolls off the tongue. Maaaalefahcint! I don't understand why people didn't take it up as a name for their children. Little Maleficent would rule pre-school with an iron fist.

JoseMaleficent would serve itself better from a director with an eye for actual Gothic, I say call Jane Campion or Catherine Breillat!



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