Tuesday, November 20, 2018

News Briefs

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  • Monday, Nov. 19, 2018
On Netflix now, Frank Grillo is looking for a fight
This image released by Netflix shows actor and self-described fight enthusiast, Frank Grillo, right, in a scene from "Fightworld," a docu-series that follows Grillo as he goes globe-trotting to explore fighting styles and the cultures behind them. (Netflix via AP)

Most travelers to new places usually aren't looking for a fight. Frank Grillo definitely is.

"Fightworld," a new Netflix docu-series, follows Grillo, an actor and self-described "fight enthusiast," as he goes globe-trotting to explore fighting styles and the cultures behind them.

"I immerse myself in certain fight cultures" said Grillo. "And through the eyes of the fighters, we explore the culture of that place in a very different way. It's very similar to what Anthony Bourdain did, but instead of food, it was fighters."

Grillo travels to places such as Mexico, Thailand and Senegal, locations chosen based on his familiarity with those country's various fighting disciplines such as Muay Thai, wrestling and boxing. "I know these things well, so I could go there and immediately embed myself," he said.

Grillo also visited Israel, where citizens are required to join the army since the country is surrounded by hostile nations. He asked the mayor of Jerusalem to define Israelis in one word. "He said 'fight' because that's in their in their DNA, that's in their blood."

Grillo has had film roles in "Zero Dark Thirty," ''End of Watch" and plays Brock Rumlow in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "Captain America: Civil War." He hears lots of rumors about the next Captain America, even that the iconic character may not look like previous versions of the superhero.

"I don't know what will happen with Captain America. But wouldn't it be great if Captain America was African-American?" Grillo remarked. "Or a woman?" Then he said: "Or an African-American woman?"

He also hopes that instead of asking people of color to portray traditional superheros, it might be better to create new, diverse characters.

"Superman was a white guy with black hair and who has a curl, right? So that's kind of the iconic look of Superman. Could Superman be Anthony Mackie? Yeah, sure. But I'd rather see Anthony Mackie do something else," said Grillo. "Where are the new characters who represent certain people?"

  • Monday, Nov. 19, 2018
"Little Drummer Girl" remains relevant in new AMC miniseries
This Nov. 6, 2018 photo shows actors Alexander Skarsgård, left, and Michael Shannon posing for a portrait in New York to promote their AMC series “The Little Drummer Girl," based on John le Carre’s best-selling novel. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)

John le Carre's best-selling novel "The Little Drummer Girl" was released in 1983 but remains timely — and that disturbs Alexander Skarsgard.

Skarsgard and Michael Shannon star in a six-hour miniseries based on the novel, playing Israeli agents on the hunt for a Palestinian bomber. "The Little Drummer Girl" premieres Monday night on AMC.

"What's depressing is the fact that it takes place 35 years ago, but it feels more relevant today than ever," Skarsgard said. "We're in a situation where feels like we'll be having this conversation in 35 years. And it's horrific what's happening down there."

The story centers around the manipulation of a radical left-wing actress named Charlie, played by Florence Pugh, who is coerced to go undercover to help root out a terrorist named Khalil, responsible for bombing Jewish-related targets in Europe.

Shannon didn't see any ethical issues with the premise of using a thespian to a root out a terrorist. Instead, he was enthralled by the concept.

"It seems to highlight something that I find very intriguing — that there can be a difference between your identity and your true self. That you can actually present yourself to be someone entirely other than who you actually are, which I think people do a lot," Shannon said.

Korean director Chan-wook Park, best known for the 2003 classic "Old Boy," helmed all six episodes of the miniseries.

"To spend like four or five months with one of the greatest filmmakers on the planet, it's obviously such a treat for us actors," Skarsgard said.

Skarsgard, fresh off an Emmy win for the HBO series "Big Little Lies," tends to gravitate toward meatier projects, so the script length also appealed to him.

"When you have a 400-page script as opposed to 100, it's so rich. You can go so deep and you can discover," Skarsgard said. "You can really take your time and enjoy it and slowly introduce characters and conflicts."

  • Monday, Nov. 19, 2018
Best-picture Oscars up for sale in rare auction
This undated image provided by Profiles in History shows the best picture Academy Award for "Gentleman's Agreement." The Oscar the 1947 film starring Gregory Peck that took on anti-Semitism and won three Academy Awards is expected to fetch between $150,000 and $200,000.(Lou Bustamante/Profiles in History via AP)

Two Academy Awards for best picture are going up for sale in a rare auction of Oscars.

Auction house Profiles in History announced Monday that an Oscar awarded to "Mutiny on the Bounty" in 1936 and another given to "Gentleman's Agreement" in 1948 will go up for auction in Los Angeles starting Dec. 11.

The "Mutiny on the Bounty" best-picture statuette is expected to go for between $200,000 and $300,000. Frank Capra presented the award to Irving Thalberg at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles when the Academy Awards were less than 10 years old. The award is being put up for sale for the first time by the family of Thalberg, an essential figure in the early history of Hollywood.

The best-picture Oscar for "Gentleman's Agreement," the 1947 film starring Gregory Peck that took on anti-Semitism and won three Academy Awards, is expected to fetch between $150,000 and $200,000. Its seller wants to remain anonymous.

Hans Dreier's art-direction Oscar for 1950's "Sunset Boulevard" and Gloria Swanson's Golden Globe for best actress in a drama for the film are also on offer in the December auction along with other historic movie awards.

Auctions of Oscar statuettes are very uncommon because winners from 1951 onward have had to agree that they or their heirs must offer to sell it back to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for $1 before selling it to anyone else. The Academy has said it firmly believes Oscars should be won, not sold.

Still, occasionally Oscars beyond the reach of the rules go up for sale and sell for large sums of money.

The late Michael Jackson acquired David O. Selznick's "Gone With the Wind" Oscar for a record $1.5 million in 1999.

Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane" statuette sold for $861,542 in 2011.

And in 2014, James Cagney's best-actor Oscar for 1942's "Yankee Doodle Dandy" failed to sell when no one would meet the minimum bid demand of $800,000.

  • Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018
New Tsukamoto film inspired by masters, horror of violence
In this Nov. 7, 2018, photo, Japanese director Shinya Tsukamoto holds a banner about his latest film "Killing" during a press conference in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Yuri Kageyama)
TOKYO (AP) -- 

Japanese filmmaker Shinya Tsukamoto turned to his country's masters for inspiration for his latest work, "Killing," his first samurai movie. But he also emulated the way Martin Scorsese gave free rein to his actors, a technique Tsukamoto learned when he was cast in "Silence" as a Christian martyr.

"Killing," a poetic but brutal story about the horrors of violence, premiered at the Venice Film Festival earlier this year and opens in Japan on Nov. 24. Overseas release dates have not been announced.

"This film is the total antithesis to the heroism depicted in usual samurai films," Tsukamoto, who wrote, directed and edited "Killing," said at a recent preview screening at the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Tokyo.

He said he was an admirer of the samurai films he grew up on, including the classics by Akira Kurosawa and Kon Ichikawa. But he wanted to do something different.

A samurai film has signature elements such as choreographed fight scenes. Juxtaposing what's unexpected makes people think, raising questions, Tsukamoto said.

"I wanted to cast doubt," he said, pointing to the assumption that the samurai is a hero. "Is he really the good guy?"

The Scorsese technique of being positive while giving freedom to the actors appeared to work in "Killing."

Yu Aoi, who plays a young farmer in love with the main character, found herself taking a different approach to her acting.

She usually likes to create her character clearly and not sway from it throughout the work. But in "Killing," she allowed herself to go where the film took her, transforming from childlike carefreeness into wanting revenge, and then descending into psychological devastation.

Her love interest is portrayed by Sosuke Ikematsu, 28, who was in "The Last Samurai" as a child. In "Killing," he starts out innocently enough, pursuing the art of sword-fighting like an athlete seeking perfection.

As he becomes recruited for more serious samurai business by an older samurai, played by Tsukamoto himself, the film gradually takes on a gruesome reality, showing the duels for the bloody slicing up of body parts that they are.

"Killing" is in one sense a genre switch from the satirical cyberpunk works like "Tetsuo" that have won Tsukamoto an international cult following since the late 1980s.

But the eerie energy, the dizzying camerawork, the almost painful sensitivity to sound and the purity of his message are trademark Tsukamoto.

The work does not glorify the gore, although the scenes are sensual and mesmerizing. The love story is truncated and pathetic, never descending into sentimentality.

"Killing" is what Tsukamoto called "a scream" — a wake-up call about where the world could be delusively headed.

"Without real images, people can more easily go to war," he said.

  • Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018
Polish prosecutors want bail for released U.S. cinematographer
In this Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011 file photo "Black Swan" cinematographer Matthew Libatique arrives before the 83rd Academy Awards, in Hollywood. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)
WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- 

Prosecutors in Poland are seeking to have bail set for an Oscar-nominated American cinematographer after a court ordered his release from the jail where he was held for allegedly attacking paramedics.

A spokeswoman for prosecutors in the city of Bydgoszcz, Agnieszka Adamska-Okonska, told Polish media Friday the prosecutors disagreed with the court's decision to release Matthew Libatique without bail a day earlier.

Libatique was charged Wednesday with assaulting one of the paramedics who responded to a hotel where he was seen staggering.

He was in Poland as an honorary guest at the Camerimage international film festival. Libatique was nominated for an Academy Award for the 2010 film "Black Swan" and was the cinematographer for Bradley Cooper's recent remake of "A Star is Born."

The festival's closing ceremony was Saturday evening.

  • Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018
Private funeral held for Stan Lee, more memorials in works
In this June 28, 2017 file photo, Stan Lee arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "Spider-Man: Homecoming." A small, private funeral has been held to mourn Marvel Comics mogul Stan Lee, and his company is making more plans to memorialize him. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

A small, private funeral has been held to mourn Marvel Comics mogul Stan Lee, and his company is making more plans to memorialize him.

"Stan was always adamant that he did not want a large public funeral, and as such his family has conducted a private closed ceremony in accordance with his final wishes," Lee's company POW! Entertainment said in a statement to The Associated Press on Friday.

POW! Entertainment has set up a memorial wall on Lee's website where friends, colleagues and fans can share thoughts, prayers and tributes to Lee, and messages from fellow creators and artists will be posted on Lee's social media pages in the coming days.

The company says further memorial plans are in the works, and hopes to share more details soon.

"The grandeur of Stan makes this a monumental task," the statement said.

The 95-year-old was declared dead after being rushed to a Los Angeles hospital on Monday. No cause of death has been given.

He co-created the Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, and many of the other heroes in the Marvel comic and cinematic universes. He was a hero himself to fans who frenzied for his movie cameos and public appearances as he remained an ambassador for Marvel until the end of his life.    

  • Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018
"An Elephant Sitting Still" wins top prize at Golden Horse
Chinese director Zhang Yimou holds his award for Best Director at the 55th Golden Horse Awards in Taipei, Taiwan, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. Zhang won for the film "Shadow" at this year's Golden Horse Awards -the Chinese-language film industry's biggest annual events. (AP Photo/Billy Dai)
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) -- 

"An Elephant Sitting Still" won the top prize Saturday night at the Golden Horse Awards, the Chinese-language version of the Oscars.

The film, whose director, Hu Bo, committed suicide before its release, upset the highly touted martial-arts epic "Shadow," by veteran director Zhang Yimou. Zhang won best director for "Shadow."

The Golden Horse Awards honor films from Taiwan, Hong Kong, mainland China and other parts of the Chinese-speaking world, transcending political, cultural and geographic borders.

Judges were led by Gong Li, the leading actress in many of Zhang's earlier films, who was invited by Ang Lee, director of Hollywood features including "Brokeback Mountain."

"Shadow," which delves into Chinese martial arts and palace intrigue, led with 12 nominations.

Taiwanese stage actress Hsieh Ying-xuan won best actress for her role in "Dear Ex," which explores the relationship between a gay man and his lover after his death.

Best actor was won by China's Xu Zheng for his work in "Dying to Survive."

  • Friday, Nov. 16, 2018
Apple signs multiyear deal with film studio A24
In this June 13, 2016, file photo, the Apple logo is shown on a screen at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File)

Apple has signed a multiyear film production deal with A24, the acclaimed New York-based studio behind "Moonlight" and "Lady Bird."

People close to the deal who requested anonymity because they weren't authorized to comment confirmed the agreement Thursday. Apple is investing in scripted content with the intention of competing with the likes of Netflix and Amazon. The deal connects Apple with one of the most respected makers of prestige and arthouse titles in film.

Neither Apple nor A24 commented Thursday. Unclear is how many films the deal includes, or if the movies will be released theatrically.

A24 was previously rumored to potentially be an acquisition target for Apple. This deal leaves the distributor of films like "The Witch," ''Mid90s," ''Hereditary" and "Eighth Grade" with its independence.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018
Feds subpoena Snap over shareholder lawsuit
In this Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, file photo, the logo for Snap Inc. appears above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Snap Inc. has received federal subpoenas related to a class-action lawsuit stemming from its 2017 initial public offering.

The lawsuit, filed last May, claims that Snap misled investors about its user growth before going public.

The company said in a statement Wednesday that it has been responding to subpoenas and requests for information from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice. The company says its understanding that the regulators are looking into disclosures during its initial public offering about competition from Instagram.

The SEC and the DOJ declined to comment. Snap says it believes that the lawsuit is "meritless" and its IPO disclosures were "accurate and complete."

Snap has struggled to compete with Instagram especially after the Facebook-owned app successfully copied its popular "stories" feature.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018
Cinematographer charged in Poland for alleged first responders' assault
In this Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011 file photo "Black Swan" cinematographer Matthew Libatique arrives before the 83rd Academy Awards, in Hollywood. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)
WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- 

An Oscar-nominated American cinematographer was charged Wednesday with assaulting public officials in Poland after he allegedly attacked paramedics and police who were called to a hotel where he had been seen staggering.

Matthew Libatique, 50, was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on the 2010 film "Black Swan" and was the cinematographer for the new remake of "A Star is Born" that Bradley Cooper directed and co-stars Lady Gaga.

The alleged offenses occurred early Tuesday in the city of Bydgoszcz, where Libatique was an honorary guest at the Camerimage international film festival, according to police officials.

Medical officials were called because Libatique was seen staggering.

"The patient suddenly became aggressive toward medical rescuers, used offensive words and hit the head of the emergency medical team," Krzysztof Wisniewski, an emergency official, told Polish broadcaster TVN24.

A paramedic had a tooth broken and other injuries, Wisniewski said.

Police then were called to the scene, and the cinematographer allegedly attacked the officers, too, Bydgoszcz city police spokeswoman Monika Chlebicz said.

Libatique, who had facial injuries and appeared very intoxicated, was taken to hospital, Chlebicz said.

Prosecutors questioned Libatique and charged him Wednesday with assaulting public officials, an offense punishable by a prison sentence of up to three years under Polish law, Chlebicz said.

Libatique could not immediately be reached for comment. The office of the International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography said it had no details about the alleged incident but had no reason to doubt the allegations. It said a trial and verdict were expected in the coming days.

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