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Utopia Buys Psychedelic Musical Comedy ‘Give Me Pity!’ Out of Fantasia (EXCLUSIVE)



Utopia has acquired the North American rights to Amanda Kramer’s “Give Me Pity!” ahead of the musical comedy’s North American premiere at Fantasia Film Festival.

“Give Me Pity!” follows a Saturday Night variety show host who slowly unravels on screen in what Kramer has called “an untamed and intimate portrayal of diva culture, female vanity, created persona, and the prisms of fame.”

The film enjoys its North American premiere at genre fest Fantasia in Montreal, Canada, on Friday. Utopia has set an early 2023 release for the pic, and has partnered with boutique agency Aspect Ratio for a special distribution roll-out. Prior to the movie’s commercial release, Aspect Ratio will handle non-theatrical and specialty art venue bookings.

“Give Me Pity!” world premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in January, closing the Dutch festival’s Filmmakers in Focus section. Indie sales, distribution and production company Alief picked up global sales rights ahead of Rotterdam, and later screened the film as part of Berlin’s European Film Market.

In the pic, Sophie von Haselberg stars as Sissy St. Claire, an entertainer who has finally made it with her own Saturday Night television special — an all-singing, all-dancing one-woman show, complete with disco, drama and self-examination. However, as the show progresses, Sissy starts to unravel, and the production’s canned laughter takes on a derisive quality, turning into a psychedelic nightmare.

Kramer’s recent credits include “Please Baby Please,” which was picked up by Music Box Films earlier this year, as well as “Ladyworld.” Producers on “Give Me Pity!” are Sarah Winshall (“Strawberry Mansion,” “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair”) and Jacob Agger.

The film was produced by Winshall’s company Smudge Films in collaboration with Neon Heart Productions and Irving Harvey.

The deal was negotiated by Danielle DiGiacomo for Utopia and Jordan Matos for Aspect Ratio, with Miguel Angel Govea of Alief on behalf of the filmmakers.

“Give Me Pity!” is the latest buzzy acquisition for Utopia, which was founded by filmmaker and musician Robert Schwartzman and Cole Harper in 2018. The company made a splash in Cannes this spring, buying Iranian thriller “Holy Spider,” which picked up a best actress prize for lead Zar Amir-Ebrahimi. Utopia recently released Lena Dunham’s Sundance drama “Sharp Stick” in the U.S.

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‘Mack & Rita’ Review: Diane Keaton is a Millennial Misfit Embracing Granny Chic in a Confused Body-Swap Comedy



“Mack & Rita,” the third film by Sundance darling Katie Aselton, is a bewildering generational culture-war comedy that sides with every j’accuse that baby boomers hurl at millennials. Mack (Elizabeth Lail), an awkward author turned reluctant influencer, describes herself as a “70-year-old in the body of a 30-year-old.” She tiptoes through life terrified to be out of step with her cohorts’ harsh judgments. Here, according to screenwriters Madeline Walter and Paul Welsh (both of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” who aren’t so much satirizing stereotypes about their own demographic as endorsing them), millennials recoil at reading, diners, scarves, carpeting, silence, sensible shoes, chain restaurants and non-conformity. In one scene, 50% of millennials don’t even understand the word “lothario.”

Exhausted from the pressure to sport thigh-high, spike-heeled snakeskin boots to a bottomless mimosa brunch, Mack stumbles across a shady huckster (“Red Rocket” star Simon Rex), collapses in his regression tank — and emerges in the body of Diane Keaton. The body-swapping contrivance is easier to believe than anything the film does with it. Introducing herself to the world as Mack’s Aunt Rita, the character unchains herself from youthful expectations and finds herself instantly embraced by the young as an elderly Instagram influencer: a “glamma,” in the words of her ferociously callow agent (Patti Harrison).

On its own, that twist isn’t so hard to believe in a summer where teens and twenty-somethings on TikTok have made trends of granny-chic classics like embroidered LL Bean tote bags and white linen trousers, as popularized by Keaton herself in her collaborations with Nancy Meyers. (A sequence where the newly transformed Aunt Rita picks up a kooky blazer and wide belt is presented with the anticipation of Bruce Wayne reaching for his cowl.) What’s mystifying is that the film has no grip on what it means to say about Aunt Rita’s overnight ascension into a millennial style icon. Were Mack’s hangups all in her head? (Not according to the opening scenes.) Is oddball fashion okay only when older people do it? (Not according to the ending scenes.) Should Mack/Rita embrace being an influencer after all? (No, but then yes, but then no, but wait — yes!)

Most audiences will give up sifting through these mixed messages by the time Aunt Rita squires her decades-younger neighbor Jack (Dustin Milligan) on a defiantly dorky date to a California Pizza Kitchen. The scene is about the two bonding over being uncool. But the film’s hummingbird attention span immediately discards its own setup for a throwaway joke where Rita gets jealous that their lunch is interrupted by a hipster babe in a midriff-baring top who also happens to be eating there.

“Mack & Rita” does as little with its ambition to turn Rita and Jack’s romance into an updated “Harold and Maude” as it does with its own grandstanding against agism. Agism is wrong, we’re told. Except when it comes to the shameful fact that Jack continues to skateboard as a man in his early thirties — a hobby that every character, including Rita, agrees is totally lame — in which case agism is totally correct. Momentarily, the film argues that getting old gives Rita the perspective to better stick up for herself — but this thesis, too, about-faces when Rita finds herself cowed into a situation that results in her literally being set on fire.

Keaton does her best with the material. Her own inner youth shines through the character even when the script lets her down, forcing her to wail in distress at the sight of her hair and breasts, or putting her through a punishingly long physical comedy scene where she struggles to use a pilates machine. The film does, at minimum, convince us that most people would want to transform into Keaton if given the opportunity.

Even more so, it convinces us that most actors are ecstatic to work alongside her: Keaton’s presence is the only reason one can imagine that talents like Taylour Paige, Loretta Devine, Wendi Malick, Lois Smith, and Nicole Byer signed on to this project to play the various friends and acquaintances in her orbit, each part more underwritten than the next. As for Rex, essentially cast as a human Voltar machine, he’s a funny blend of scuzzy smooth-talker and baffled inventor when his hand-painted tanning bed zaps the plot into motion. “Time is merely a construct!” he barks. That mantra may help the film go by faster.

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Why Orphan 2’s Julia Stiles Joined The First Kill Prequel Movie



Julia Stiles says there was something about the script for Orphan: First Kill that convinced her it may just be on par with the original movie.

Julia Stiles says she joined Orphan: First Kill after reading a major twist in the script that had her “hooked.” The upcoming sequel is a rare foray into horror for Stiles, whose last major project in the genre was the 2006 remake of The Omen. In the first Orphan, Kate and John Coleman (Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard) adopt 9-year-old Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman) from a local orphanage after losing their unborn child. Before long, violent and disturbing accidents begin to plague the family, and it becomes clear that Esther is not as innocent as they thought.


Orphan became a cult favorite for its freaky twist: Esther is actually a murderous, 33-year-old escapee from an Estonian mental hospital. She has a rare hormonal disorder that keeps her looking like a little girl, which she uses to take advantage of her adoptive families before she murders them. By the time the Colemans discover her secret, it’s already too late, and Esther kills John and one of the Colemans’ other children before Kate breaks her neck and leaves her at the bottom of a pond. Orphan: First Kill will be a prequel that follows Esther’s first adoptive family, with Stiles playing her new mother who gets more than she bargained for.

Stiles now teases that the next Orphan will be as unpredictable as the first during a recent appearance on Live with Kelly and Ryan (via EW). She says she signed onto the film after reading a twist in the script that became “the reason I wanted to be in the movie,” and also confirms that Orphan: First Kill will fill in the pieces of Esther’s backstory that were teased in the original. Read Stiles’ full comment below:

“This one is before [the first one]. [Esther] is in another family. She’s escaped a mental hospital and pretends to be the long-lost, missing daughter for this family. When they sent me the script, there’s a twist that when I got to the twist I was like, ‘Oh, that’s good,’ and I was hooked. I did not see it coming, and it was also the reason that I wanted to be in the movie.”

It’s hard to imagine that there could possibly be a twist as out of left-field and unpredictable as the one in the original Orphan, but if it convinced Stiles to come back to horror after almost two decades, it must be a good one. Hopefully, it will live up to the high expectations audiences may have now. It will also be especially creepy to see this perceived-child’s origin at the mental hospital that – as fans will remember – gave her the scars she slyly covers up with ribbons on her wrists and neck. Orphan: First Kill has the ingredients to be an intriguing and genuinely chilling second installment.

It also marks something of a milestone for the horror genre itself. Fuhrman was 10 years old when she filmed Orphan, and she was 24 when she returned to the role for the prequel. Not only will she be bringing back the character, she’ll also be playing a version of Esther that’s even younger than the one she played 15 years ago. It’s a fun challenge for any actor, and fans will be able to deem Orphan: First Kill a worthy prequel for themselves when it comes out in theaters and streams on Paramount+ on August 19.

Source: Live with Kelly and Ryan (via EW)

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Jason Momoa Roasts His 2011 ‘Conan the Barbarian’ Remake: ‘Big Pile of S**t’



Jason Momoa is reflecting on his past roles, including his 2011 remake of Conan the Barbarian. In a new interview with GQ UK, Momoa roasted the remake, calling it a “big pile of s**t.

“I’ve been a part of a lot of things that really sucked, and movies where it’s out of your hands,” Momoa said. “Conan was one of them. “It’s one of the best experiences I had and it [was] taken over and turned into a big pile of s**t.”

Just one of the many films in which Momoa has played a “macho” character, the 43-year-old actor is setting his sights on new roles, ones that will allow him to show off his range.

“It’s been hard because people always think I’m just this dude who plays [macho characters],” he told the outlet. “But I want to be moved, I want something new. Things are changing, and even the villain roles I’m playing now are eccentric.”

From a maniacal villain whose toenails are painted purple and pink in the tenth Fast and Furious film, to a starring role in Apple TV+’s upcoming, Chief of War, set in 18th-century Hawaii, the Aquaman actor is switching things up.

“I’m a peacock at the highest level and I’m having the time of my life,” Momoa added.

He’s not totally departing from the action-packed flicks we know and love him for, with Aquaman 2 coming out next year, there’s still more to come from him in the superhero sphere, but with the environmentally conscious actor’s spin on it of course.

“I don’t want to give too much away. But we really get to speed up what is going to happen to this earth, and it’s not because of aliens,” he teased about the DC Comics sequel.

Last month, Momoa took to Instagram to seemingly reveal Ben Affleck’s involvement in the upcoming Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.

Sharing two snapshots with Affleck, the newly married actor was dressed to the nines in a very Bruce Wayne-looking suit ensemble, while Momoa celebrated getting to spend time with the actor yet again.

“REUNITED bruce and arthur. love u and miss u Ben,” Momoa captioned the post, which also included a video, taken by the Aquaman star, that supposedly showed a WB backlot tour inadvertently seeing Affleck and Momoa, and discovering his involvement in the upcoming Aquaman film.

“WB studio tours just explored the backlot alright. busted on set,” Momoa wrote. “All great things coming AQUAMAN 2 all my aloha.”

In the video, Momoa can be heard laughing as a tour group drives up on them on set, and exclaiming, “Well it’s not a f**king secret anymore, is it?”

“Well, we tried to keep it a secret,” he adds as he walks over to a trailer with a sign reading “B.A.” on the door. “Whoops!”

ET has previously reached out to WB for comment on Affleck’s unexpected involvement in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom — for which Momoa wrapped principal photography in January, and is slated to hit theaters March 17, 2023.


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