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OH YES THEY DID: Super Villain Koch Brothers Are Secret Investors in Mega-Successful ‘Wonder Woman’ Movie

Steven Mnuchin brought in the right-wing power brokers, as well as Bill Gates, to help fund such Hollywood projects as ‘Dunkirk’ and Steven Spielberg’s upcoming ‘Ready Player One.’

Tatiana Siegel reports: Though they might be the most reviled figures among Hollywood’s liberal crowd, the Koch brothers have been a silent investor in Warner Bros.‘ slate of movies for four years.

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Sources say Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch — who are worth a combined $96.2 billion and wield enormous power in political circles as major backers of right-wing politicians — took a significant stake valued at tens of millions of dollars in RatPac-Dune Entertainment. Now-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin brought the brothers in as investors as part of a $450 million deal struck in 2013 — a move that was never disclosed because RatPac-Dune is a private company.

Though Mnuchin is no longer involved with the slate financing facility, having recently put his stake into a blind trust in order to avoid a conflict of interest, the Koch brothers continue to be stakeholders in such films as Wonder Woman, Dunkirk and Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Ready Player One.

A RatPac spokesperson didn’t respond to a request. A spokesperson for Koch Industries says, “Charles Koch, David Koch and Koch Industries do not have any involvement with this investment.”

The brothers aren’t the only unlikely billionaires who have sunk money into the Warner Bros. deal. Sources say Mnuchin also brought in Bill Gates for an amount similar to the Koch brothers’. Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] Hou Hsiao-Hsien: ‘The Assassin

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Sheila O’Malley writes:The visuals are, quite literally, overwhelming. There were shots that were so beautiful I practically could not take it in, in one glance: it’s like trying to “take in” the Grand Canyon. Thankfully, Hou’s camera is not of the quick-cut variety. He lets scenes breathe, and the shots are very long. I had time to settle in, to look up at the misty ranks of mountains in the background, the vast space in the foreground, the line of trees reflected perfectly in the dawn-blue water, the row of fog breaking up a vertical cliff of green trees. Nature photography? Well, yes, kind of. But it’s part of the story and the atmosphere. This is one of the most beautiful looking films this year, or any year.

Hou Hsiao-Hsien is such a world-class visionary filmmaker (the hyperbole fits) and yet it’s been relatively rare that his stuff makes it to our shores. The Assassin won him the Best Director award at Cannes, thrilling news for those of us who love his work and were already eagerly anticipating The Assassin….(read more)

The Sheila Variations


It’s Back To The Future Day, Oct 21, 2015

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In “Back to the Future Part II,” Marty McFly travels to October 21, 2015, to save his children, yet to be born in “Back to the Future’s” 1985.

The plot gets tangled — by fixing one thing, McFly and Doc Brown (and the villainous Biff Tannen) create a number of new messes — but what remains is the film’s vision of a year that was still more than a quarter-century away when the movie was shot and released in 1989. The entire trilogy is even being rereleased Wednesday, so you can see for yourself.

The film’s record isn’t bad, given that director Robert Zemeckis wasn’t pleased with setting part of “Back to the Future II” in 2015.

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“I always hated — and I still don’t like — movies about the future,” he says in a new book, “Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History.” “I just think they’re impossible, and somebody’s always keeping score.”

In the Internet age, Zemeckis has grounds for concern. Over the past few years, Photoshopped images of “Future’s” DeLorean time machine have popped up on the Web, insisting that TODAY is “Back to the Future Day.” And now that the day has actually arrived, there have been countless articles (like, frankly, this one) and videos about what the film and its screenwriter, Bob Gale, got right about 2015.

In the 1989 film "Back to the Future II," Marty McFly traveled to Oct. 21, 2015, a future with flying cars, auto-drying clothes and shoes that lace automatically.

As with other movies dealing with the future, such as “2001: A Space Odyssey” (set in the early 2000s) or “Blade Runner” (set in 2019, which will be here before you know it), the predictions of “Back to the Future II” are hit or miss: big-screen TVs, yes, Mr. Fusion, no; virtual-reality goggles, yes, “Jaws 19,” no. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] ‘Bridge Of Spies’ Trailer 

A dramatic thriller set against the backdrop of a series of historic events, DreamWorks Pictures/Fox 2000 Pictures’ “Bridge of Spies” tells the story of James Donovan, a Brooklyn lawyer who finds himself thrust into the center of the Cold War when the CIA sends him on the near-impossible task to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot. Screenwriters Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen have woven this remarkable experience in Donovan’s life into a story inspired by true events that captures the essence of a man who risked everything and vividly brings his personal journey to life.

Directed by three-time Academy Award®-winning director Steven Spielberg, “Bridge of Spies” stars: two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks as James Donovan; three-time Tony Award® winner Mark Rylance as Rudolf Abel, a KGB agent defended by Donovan; Scott Shepherd as CIA operative Hoffman; Academy Award nominee Amy Ryan as James’ wife, Mary; Sebastian Koch as East German lawyer Vogel; and Academy Award nominee Alan Alda as Thomas Watters, a partner at Donovan’s law firm. The film is produced by Spielberg, Marc Platt and Kristie Macosko Krieger with Adam Somner, Daniel Lupi, Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King serving as executive producers. The screenplay is by Matt Charman and three-time Academy Award winners Ethan Coen & Joel Coen. “Bridge of Spies” will be released in theaters on October 16, 2015.


Inside the Black Hole: This Is How Jonathan Nolan Originally Wanted ‘Interstellar’ to End

INTERSTELLAR, Matthew McConaughey, 2014. ph: Melinda Sue Gordon/©Paramount/courtesy Everett

Nolan’s early take on the ending, however, essentially cuts Cooper off inside the black hole…

Entertainment Weekly‘s Jonathon Dornbush writes: If Interstellar’s ending didn’t quite sit right with you, co-writer Jonathan Nolan may be able to help. As he recently revealed, the film’s original conclusion would have been much simpler—albeit way more depressing as well.

Nolan detailed the screenplay’s first ending at an event ahead of the film’s Blu-ray release in Pasadena, California, alongside scientist Kip Thorne, who served as a producer and science adviser for the film. As Nerdist reports, Nolan told a crowd at the Caltech Jet Propulsion Lab that he originally planned a much different conclusion for Matthew McConaughey’s Cooper.

“Instead of this bleak finish, Interstellar ends on a much more hopeful note—even if many have taken issue with how Nolan sacrifices scientific accuracy for a more emotional conclusion.”

In the final film, Cooper travels through the black hole Gargantua, surviving the trip and ending up in a “tesseract” space where he’s able to see—and in some bizarre ways, interact with—his past. This revelation allows him to send a Morse code message to his daughter Murph, which sets the film’s final events into motion.

Nolan’s early take on the ending, however, essentially cuts Cooper off inside the black hole. His script “had the Einstien-Rosen bridge [wormhole] collapse when Cooper tries to send the data back.”

The wormhole falling apart would have prevented Cooper from returning home or interacting with the tesseract, which, according to Nerdist, was director Christopher Nolan’s idea. Instead, his journey would have ended there, with Cooper sacrificing himself in the name of his cause. This also would have prevented much of the finished film’s concluding events—Cooper’s return trip, rediscovering his daughter, and stealing a ship to search for Anne Hathaway’s Amelia Brand would never have happened. Nolan does not mention, however, whether in that original ending, the data Cooper is collecting to send back to Earth would have made it out before the collapse. Read the rest of this entry »


The Truth About American Sniper

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‘I lost track of how many soldiers and Marines told me of their frustration with an American media that so often describes them as either nuts or victims’

Michael J. Totten writes: Clint Eastwood’s new film, American Sniper, is a blisteringly accurate portrayal of the American war in Iraq. Unlike most films in the genre, it sidesteps the politics and focuses on an individual: the late, small-town Texan, Chris Kyle, who joined thekyle-tall Navy SEALs after 9/11 and did four tours of duty in Fallujah, Ramadi, and Baghdad. He is formally recognized as the deadliest sniper in American history, and the film, based on his bestselling memoir, dramatizes the war he felt duty-bound to fight and his emotionally wrenching return home, with post-traumatic stress.

“All psychologically normal people feel at least some hatred for the enemy in a war zone. It’s not humanly possible to like or feel neutral toward people who are trying to kill you. Race hasn’t the faintest thing to do with it.”

The movie has become a flashpoint for liberal critics. Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore dismissed the film out-of-hand because snipers, he says, are “cowards.” “American Sniper kind of reminds me of the movie that’s showing in the third act of Inglorious Basterds,” comic actor Seth Rogen tweeted, referring to a fake Hitler propaganda film about a Nazi sniper, though he backtracked and said he actually liked the film, that it only reminded him of Nazi propaganda. Writing for the Guardian, Lindy West is fair to Eastwood and the film but cruel to its subject. Kyle, she says, was “a hate-filled killer” and “a racist who took pleasure in dehumanizing and killing brown people.”51yLU7NDvOL._SL250_

[Order Michael J. Totten’s book “Tower of the Sun: Stories from the Middle East and North Africa from Amazon]

The Navy confirms that Kyle shot and killed 160 combatants, most of whom indeed had brown skin. While he was alive, he said that he enjoyed his job. In one scene in the movie, Kyle, played by a bulked-up Bradley Cooper, refers to “savages,” and it’s not clear if he means Iraqis in general or just the enemies he’s fighting.

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“What would you think of a man who kills a kid with a power drill right in front of you? Would you moderate your language so that no one at a Manhattan dinner party would gasp? Maybe you would, but Kyle wasn’t at a Manhattan dinner party.”

But let’s take a step back and leave the politics aside. All psychologically normal people feel at least some hatred for the enemy in a war zone. This is true whether they’re on the “right” side or the “wrong” side. It’s not humanly possible to like or feel neutral toward people who are trying to kill you. Race hasn’t the faintest thing to do with it.

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“Here’s a medical fact: psychopaths don’t suffer from post-traumatic stress or any other kind of anxiety disorder. And cowards don’t volunteer for four tours of duty in war-torn Iraq.”

Does anyone seriously believe Kyle would have felt differently if white Russians or Serbs, rather than “brown” Arabs, were shooting at him? How many residents of New York’s Upper West Side had a sympathetic or nuanced view of al-Qaida on September 11, 2001? Some did—inappropriately, in my view—but how many would have been able to keep it up if bombs exploded in New York City every day, year after year?

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Kyle had other reasons to hate his enemies, aside from their desire to kill him. In American Sniper, we see him in Fallujah and Ramadi fighting Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s Al Qaeda in Iraq, the bloody precursor to ISIS. Read the rest of this entry »


The Other Losers: Hollywood Royalty Stung by a Sweeping Swarm of Election Defeat Bees

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Bobby Shriver’s loss marked the end of a day that saw industry politicos’ favorites defeated and Republicans back in control of the U.S. Senate

From The Hollywood Reporter:

Tuesday’s midterm elections brought defeats for many Hollywood-supported candidates…Hollywood politicos turned their attention to Bobby Shriver, the industry pick to replace longtime Los Angeles County supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who was forced to retire because of term limits….

…The scion of American political royalty had received thousands of dollars in Hollywood campaign contributions in his effort to represent the Westside of Los Angeles and parts of the San Fernando Valley on the Board of Supervisors.

Bobby Shriver‘s campaign finance report read like a list of Oscar attendees. Among the donors: Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg, David Geffen, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, J.J. Abrams, Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Bruckheimer, Jimmy Iovine, Warren Beatty, Jessica Alba, Chris O’Donnell, Rob Lowe, Larry David, Ted Danson, Joan Cusack, Harvey Keitel and Michael Douglas.

Read the rest of this entry »


President Obama at Hollywood Fundraiser

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Image: Jeff Kravitz/FIlmMagic

From Variety:

…Among the 90 or so in attendance were Barbra Streisand, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Tom Rothman and James Brolin, according to a pool report. Guests had dinner under a tent in the Horns’ backyard. The event at the Horns’ Bel-Air home was to raise money for the House Senate Victory Fund, a joint committee set up for congressional candidates.

“I know you left Washington 6 hours ago, But I left Burbank seven hours ago.”

— Conan O’Brien

The Horns are longtime Democratic donors, although this is the president’s first visit to their home for a fundraising event, which also included House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.). Cindy Horn introduced Obama…

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Image: Jeff Kravitz/FIlmMagic

Tickets to the event started $10,000 per person, including dinner and a photo op. Those donating $32,400 per couple got listed as “sponsors” and could take part in a VIP reception. Those donating $64,800 per couple were listed as “hosts” and could take part in a “VIP clutch.”

The House Senate Victory Fund is splitting proceeds equally between the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Saving Barack Obama’: Parody Movie Posters Arrive in L.A. for President’s Visit

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For Washington Free Beacon writes: Movie posters for a spoof entitled “Saving Barack Obama” have hit Los Angeles ahead of the president’s visit the city.

A parody of Saving Private Ryan the poster says it is “A Steven Spielberg Ploy,” and its tagline reads, “The mission is a fraud.”

The posters, which feature President Obama walking into the horizon between a pair of his teleprompters, have appeared on bus stops and benches throughout Los Angeles, including just outside Melrose Avenue, the main entrance to Paramount Pictures.

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The parody film’s poster outside of Paramount Pictures

The appearance of the artwork coincides with Obama’s visit to Los Angeles on Wednesday to receive a humanitarian award from Spielberg. Read the rest of this entry »


Hollywood Prepares to Shower Hillary Clinton With Love, Support, and Giant Bags of Money

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Ted Johnson reports: It may be at least a year before Hillary Clinton announces if she will run for president in 2016, but in the next few weeks, her presence in Los Angeles and Hollywood may be as busy as her last bid for the White House.

On Wednesday, she is scheduled to headline a $15,000-per-person fundraising luncheon for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe at the home of media mogul Haim Saban and his wife Cheryl. That evening, she is scheduled to speak at the environmental org Oceana’s Partners Award Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, with a long list of politically active entertainment figures among those who are chairing the event. Read the rest of this entry »


Clint Eastwood in Talks to Direct ‘American Sniper’

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Eastwood is in early talks to direct the movie, based on the autobiography of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

Steven Spielberg was previously on board to direct the project but left earlier this month after he and the studio couldn’t come to agreement on a budget. (The parting of ways was quite amicable, according to several sources.) Bradley Cooper is attached to star and has been developing the project as a producer.

If a deal is made, that puts Eastwood in a tight schedule squeeze. The veteran filmmaker is about to begin directing Jersey Boys, the adaptation of the Broadway musical about the rise and fall of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

Sniper must shoot early next year because of Cooper’s many commitments. But Eastwood is famously known for his short and efficient shoots, so the studio has no fear that he won’t be able to pull it off.

Sniper is an adaptation of Kyle’s book American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History. It reveals how Kyle came to record the highest number of sniper kills for an American. The book has been praised for its frankness in telling a first-person account of a warrior who shoots from far and close distances.

Kyle was killed at a shooting range by a fellow veteran in February.

Twitch first reported the news.

Source: Clint Eastwood in Talks to Direct ‘American Sniper’– The Hollywood Reporter