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Good Morning Hollywood, October 4: Out of the Gate

“Secretariat” leaves the gate, and Lionsgate downplays the actresses in “For Colored Girls”

AWARDS BEAT

In this morning’s roundup of movie news ‘n’ notes from around the web, “Secretariat” leaves the gate, and Lionsgate downplays the actresses in “For Colored Girls.”

Disney has embargoed virtually all press reactions to “Secretariat” until Monday – which explains why, even though the film has screened extensively for critics, the TV advertisements for Saturday’s sneak previews relied almost exclusively on numerous bits of breathless praise from only two writers, Boxoffice Magazine’s always-cheery Pete Hammond and Movieguide’s religion-based reviewer Ted Baer. But with the embargo now lifting, a few more critics have slid in under the wire to offer opinions on the film that Disney is hoping to position as this year’s “The Blind Side.” What we’re seeing aren’t flat-out raves, but admiring notices for Diane Lane and the race action in between words like formulaic  and old-fashioned.  And Jeff Wells, one of the first out of the gate, says he thrilled to the racing footage but finds the rest “as rote and regimented and corny as Kansas in August.” (Wells is clearly not a Kansas-in-August kind of guy.) “‘Secretariat’ is a movie suitable for all members of the family,” adds Emmanuel Levy. “Too bad families do not go to the movies together anymore.”

For Colored Girls posterAnne Thompson looks at Lionsgate’s marketing campaign for another mainstream movie with Oscar hopes, Tyler Perry’s “For Colored Girls.” Her problem with it is that the newly-released poster (left) doesn’t sell the ensemble cast upon which the movie’s awards hopes probably depend. “Pastel-pretty but old-fashioned,” she says, suggesting that it might have been better to focus on the likes of Whoopi Goldberg, Janet Jackson and Thandie Newton. (Thompson on Hollywood

Manohla Dargis has come to praise the New York Film Festival. She finds this year’s edition reaching for a broader audience, programming one of its best opening-night films in years in “The Social Network,” and assembling “an intelligent balance” highlighted, in her view, by the likes of “Mysteries of Lisbon,” “Post Mortem,” “Revolucion,” “The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu,” “Foreign Parts,” “Boxing Gym,” “The Strange Case of Angelica” and many more.  Plus they now accept credit cards, and they’re giving away some tickets for free via Twitter. (The New York Times)

Eleanor Burke’s and Ron Eyal’s drama “Stranger Things” and Jeff Malmberg’s documentary “Marwencol” won the top prizes on Saturday night at the Woodstock Film Festival, an annual event that also gave honors to Keanu Reeves, director Bruce Beresford and distribution executive Bob Berney. Brian Brooks has all the winners. (indieWIRE)

Considering what Peter Jackson has meant to the film industry in New Zealand, it’s no surprise that the government has gotten involved in an attempt to resolve problems between the production and unions that have threatened an actors’ boycott of the production. The New Zealand Herald reports that the country’s prime minister says that the different sides in the conflict have had discussions with, among others, the Minister for Economic Development, and that everyone is hopeful a resolution is forthcoming. “If you can’t make the Hobbit movie here, frankly, what movies are you going to make here?” asked Prime Minster John Key. (New Zealand Herald)