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Good Morning Hollywood, September 20: Malick Goes Home

Roger Ebert scores the “I’m Still Here” critics, and Terrence Malick is (in) OK

AWARDS BEAT

In this morning’s roundup of movie news ‘n’ notes from around the web, Roger Ebert scores the “I’m Still Here” critics, and Terrence Malick is (in) OK.

Few people outside of the MPAA ratings board, the staff of the essentially defunct Apparition and the acquisition folks at Fox Searchlight have seen any of Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life,” which Searchlight will reportedly release in 2011. But now we can already get a glimpse of the reculsive Malick’s next, untitled movie, which began shooting this month in Malick’s hometown of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, with a cast that includes Olga Kurylenko, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Rachel Weisz and Javier Bardem. Photos of Kurylenko and some cameramen from the Indian Summer Festival surfaced at the Rockville Music Magazine website, and were quickly picked up by Ain’t It Cool News and Slashfilm

Bollywood, meet Hollywood: Mike Spector reports that an Indian conglomerate is in talks about acquiring MGM. It requires a subscription to read the entire article – but the quick version is that Sahara India Pariwar is in exploratory talks over a $2 billion deal for MGM, but that the conversation is “at an early stage” and interest from MGM is thus far tepid. (The Wall Street Journal)

Joaquin PhoenixOn the heels of director Casey Affleck’s announcement that “I’m Still Here” is a fake, Roger Ebert delves into the reactions to that purported documentary about Joaquin Phoenix’s meltdown. He compiles more than 30 reviews, and separates the critics into ones who believed the film was real (which includes Ebert himself), ones who weren’t sure, or who hedged their bets (the biggest group, with 18 members) and ones who were convinced it was fake (of which David Edelstein, he says, “did the best job of calling it”). Ebert still takes “I’m Still Here” seriously as a film, something many naysayers are unable to do: “Phoenix and Affleck have created a risky and quite interesting film,” he insists. Maybe I’m one of the ones who was duped; I thought it was probably based in fact, though some scenes seemed clearly exaggerated for the cameras, and others entirely staged. I also think – and said when I first saw it – that the film is sad and revealing if it’s true, and just as sad and revealing if it’s fake. (Roger Ebert’s Journal)  

The first wave of fall film festivals – Venice, Telluride, Toronto – has concluded, but that doesn’t mean we’re out of fests. The New York Film Festival begins this Friday, September 24, and Bruce Bennett talks to NYFF chief Richard Pena and programmer Kent Jones about the festival, which opens with David Fincher’s “The Social Network” and will spotlight Julie Taymor’s “The Tempest,” along with a variety of films that have previously shown at Cannes, Toronto, Venice, Telluride and LAFF: “Hereafter,” “Another Year,” “Carlos,” “Certified Copy,” “Meek’s Cutoff,” “Of Gods and Men,” “Revolucion” and “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” among them. (The full list is here.) Pena says the focus is not on a sprawling program like Toronto, but a more focused, smaller group of films, and on movies instead of parties. It’s all about taking a serious look at the art of filmmaking, says Jones – an attitude that may partially explain why the fest has struggled financially over the past few years. (The Wall Street Journal)

Jeff Wells considers the Toronto People’s Choice Award for Tom Hooper’s “The King’s Speech,” and labels it proof that festivalgoers (“like the older Academy contingent”) will go for “accessible emotion” over the more exciting and audacious likes of “Black Swan.” It’s not that he dislikes “The King’s Speech,” which in truth is a hard film for anybody to dislike … it’s just that he likes “Black Swan” more. Then one of his readers makes an interesting prediction: “‘The King's Speech’ will be this year's critically acclaimed movie that everybody loves until it starts winning awards after which everybody will decide they hate it.” (Hollywood Elsewhere)