Summit Entertainment confirmed today that THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN will be released as two separate films with the first of the two slated to be released in theatres on November 18, 2011. Academy Award® winner Bill Condon will direct both films starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner along with Billy Burke as Charlie Swan as well as returning members of the Cullen Family including Peter Facinelli as Carlisle, Elizabeth Reaser as Esme, Jackson Rathbone as Jasper, Nikki Reed as Rosalie, Ashley Greene as Alice and Kellan Lutz as Emmett…
UPCOMING FILM PROJECTS!
USA Today visited the set of TRANSFORMERS 3 and got new details on the third film, opening in theaters on July 1, 2011. The newspaper confirmed it will be released in 3D. Talking about the second film, director Michael Bay said, “I’ll take some of the criticism” while standing at a set built to resemble a dilapidated nuclear reactor. “It was very hard to put (the sequel) together that quickly after the writers’ strike (of 2007-08).” Bay said that “This one really builds to a final crescendo. It’s not three multiple endings… As a trilogy, it really ends. It could be rebooted again, but I think it has a really killer ending.”
“One thing we’re getting rid of is what I call the dorky comedy,” Bay added. So the twins, “They’re basically gone,” he said, though John Turturro returns for comic relief.
The newspaper says the new villain will be Shockwave, “the robot cyclops-turned-laser-cannon, who became dictator of their home world of Cybertron after the other Autobots and Decepticons journeyed to Earth.”
According to USA Today, “The new film features Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) taking his first tenuous steps into adulthood while remaining a reluctant human ally of Optimus Prime.” “Shia has this great line: ‘You know, I’ve saved the world twice, but I can’t get a job,’” producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura said. Transformers 3 centers around the space race between the U.S.S.R. and the USA, suggesting there was a hidden Transformers role in it all that remains one of the planet’s most dangerous secrets…
You saw him in “Tropic Thunder” and on last Sunday’s MTV Movie Awards, and now Paramount is going to make movie about Tom Cruise’s LES GROSSMAN. The official announcement:
Paramount Pictures and MTV Films announced today that they are set to develop a movie around mega-producer Les Grossman. The announcement comes on the heels of Grossman’s groundbreaking and visionary production of the soon-to-be Emmy® award-winning 2010 MTV Movie Awards Sunday night. Tom Cruise, along with Ben Stiller and Stuart Cornfeld of Red Hour Films will produce and have secured the life rights to Grossman…
Universal Pictures announced that Tony Gilroy (“Michael Clatyon”) is returning to write the script for THE BOURNE LEGACY, the fourth installment in the Jason Bourne franchise. He penned “The Bourne Identity,” “The Bourne Supremacy” and “The Bourne Ultimatum”…
Producer Scott Rudin has purchased the rights to the upcoming biography CLEOPATRA: A LIFE by Stacy Schiff and may be looking at Angelina Jolie to play the last of the Egyptian Pharoahs, says USA Today. The story of Cleopatra has had a long history in Hollywood, including (among others) a lost silent version starring Theda Bara, a 1934 version with Claudette Colbert and, most famously, a 1963 version with Elizabeth Taylor in the title role. Let’s hope Jolie’s performance doesn’t mirror her crappy one in the Oliver Stone dud “Alexander”…
The classic children’s fairy tale, SNOW WHITE will be getting an updated live-action retelling courtesy of Brett Ratner and Relativity Media, Deadline reports. The new version is said to take an “edgy” and comedic look at the original Brothers Grimm story with Ratner claiming, “This is not your grandfather’s ‘Snow White’”…
F. Gary Gray (“The Italian Job”) is in early talks to direct KANE & LYNCH, a big screen adaptation of the Eidos video game. Stunt coordinator and second unit director Simon Crane was directing the project but exited in May due to creative differences. Bruce Willis and Jamie Foxx are attached to star. The plot follows Adam “Kane” Marcus (Willis), a mercenary who makes an unlikely alliance with a schizophrenic killer named James Lynch (Foxx). The duo is forced on a mission to retrieve a stolen microchip…
According to the Hollywood Reporter, “The Proposal” director Anne Fletcher, stars Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, and producers David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman are reteaming for Universal Pictures’ MOST WANTED. Not to be confused with the Keenan Ivory Wayans action film of the same name, in this action comedy, Bullock plays a woman on the run with Reynolds as an agent who is supposed to be handling her. The project is described as having a tone similar to that of Universal’s 1988 release “Midnight Run,” with Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin, which the studio is developing a sequel for…
For all the “True Blood” fans out there: “True Blood” actor Stephen Moyer will star in thriller THE DOUBLE opposite Richard Gere and Topher Grace, and then he’ll topline THE BIG VALLEY with Jessica Lange. “The Double” is writer Michael Brandt’s directorial debut and stars Moyer as a Russian spy. The story centers on a retired CIA operative (Gere) forced to partner with a young FBI agent (Grace) to hunt down the killer of a senator in Washington. Next month, Moyer will go to Louisiana for “The Big Valley,” an adaptation of the 1960s ABC series that starred Barbara Stanwyck. Lange will play Stanwyck’s role of matriarch of the Barkleys, a family of ranchers in 19th century California. Moyer will play Jarrod Barkley, the family’s respected attorney who represents ranchers fighting to keep their land from being taken by railroad companies…
Michael Fassbender is in the running for two different comic book adaptations, playing the villain in each, Showbiz411 reports. The “Inglorious Basterds” actor is allegedly up for the part of Magneto in X-MEN: FIRST CLASS and the unknown villain of Marc Webb’s 3D SPIDER MAN reboot. According to the article, Fassbender can’t fit both films into his schedule and will have to pick one or the other…
Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer and Rashida Jones will star opposite Paul Rudd in MY IDIOT BROTHER. Jesse Peretz is directing the comedy about Ned (Rudd), an idealist. His three sisters (Banks, Deschanel and Mortimer) are ambitious. His mother is overbearing. Ned crashes at each of their homes, in succession, and brings truth, happiness and a sunny disposition into their lives. In other words, he wreaks havoc…
AT THE MULTIPLEX!
There are a few fantastic films in limited release opening this week: JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK provides a revealing portrait of the legendary TV personality and comedienne. If you weren’t a fan of Rivers before, you definitely will be after viewing this touching documentary. WINTER’S BONE features an outstanding performance by star Jennifer Lawrence as a teenage girl who races against the clock to find her deadbeat dad before her family loses their home. The film also boasts a great supporting turn by character actor John Hawkes as her badass uncle, Teardrop. THE LOTTERY, a doc by Madeleine Sackler, is a very one-sided piece of advocacy (although the side is the right one) in favor of charter schools in order to fix the failing public school system in New York and beyond. It’s heartbreaking nonetheless, as Sackler follows four families from Harlem and the Bronx who have entered their children in the charter school lottery with very slim hopes for winning a better future…
…Until next week!
The traditional public school system is broken.
In the U.S., where 58% of African American 4th graders are functionally illiterate, there is an incredible achievement gap between African American/Latino students and whites. One answer may lie in Karl Alexander’s well-known “summer learning loss” research of students in the Baltimore public schools. Alexander discovered that low-income students actually gained more during school than their well-off peers, but fell back over the summer while the rich kids moved ahead. Malcolm Gladwell cited Alexander’s research in his bestselling tome “Outliers,” using the KIPP Academy in the Bronx as an example.
Like KIPP, Harlem Success Academy, run by Eva Moskowitz, is a charter school. Their technique flips the conventional educational model on its head: instead of a variable amount of achievement in a constant amount of time, the school makes time a variable (by extending both the school day and the school year) in order to make achievement the constant. The results speak for themselves. In 2009, 95% of third-graders at Harlem Success passed the state’s English Language Arts exam while only 51% of third graders in P.S. 149, the traditional public school that shares the same building, did. That same year, Harlem Success was No. 1 in math out of 3,500 public schools in New York State.
Unfortunately, since space at charter schools like Harlem Success Academy is limited, a lottery occurs every year to randomly select the incoming class. In 2009, 475 out of 5,000 applicants would win admission to the Harlem Success Academy charter schools and a chance at a better future. Making matters worse, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) regularly hold passionate protests against charter schools like the Harlem Success Academy because they feel these schools are gentrifying their neighborhoods.
Madeleine Sackler’s important documentary THE LOTTERY follows four families with young children entered in the 2009 lottery. Three live in one-parent homes; one has a father serving life in prison; another has a mother living in Africa; and one child’s mother is deaf. Despite their circumstances, all four kids seem bright and full of potential. Will they win the chance at a better future?
MMM sat down with filmmaker Madeleine Sackler to talk about her heartbreaking and vital documentary “The Lottery,” and how the charter school system is improving education in New York City and beyond.
MANHATTAN MOVIE MAGAZINE: Your first film, “Mechina: A Preparation,” profiled Israeli soldiers and you edited the Rolling Stones rockumentary “Shine A Light.” How did you come about making “The Lottery?”
MADELEINE SACKLER: I had been working as a freelance editor and was just waiting for the right project. I saw footage of the lottery that we ended up filming in 2008 and had read some statistic on the achievement gap that I found very appalling. I thought it was really interesting that there were thousands of parents that night crossing their fingers hoping to win a chance at something that every kid deserves. I thought it was a very interesting visual metaphor for the problem that a lot of people don’t understand: there actually is enormous demand for better schools. The problem is not what everyone tells me when I ask them what the problem is – that it’s poverty or culture or the parents don’t care. So it seemed like a good opportunity to expose some myths and tell a good story at the same time.
MMM: Did you get the idea from Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers,” which used the Bronx charter school KIPP as an example?
SACKLER: [Laughs] No, that came out after.
MMM: What was your biggest hurdle in making “The Lottery?”
SACKLER: The biggest challenge, which I never overcame, was getting the participation of the Teacher’s Union. I knew from day one that they were an important part of the story and the education system as a whole, and I tried very hard to get their perspective included in the film, but they declined, which was very unfortunate.
MMM: Eva Moskowitz really comes away as the “hero” of the film.
SACKLER: I think her work is heroic; the fact that she has 95% of her kids at grade level in a neighborhood, Harlem, where the average is 56% overall. I think what she’s doing is really incredible. I was excited about charter schools before entering the project. Out of New Haven, 17% of kids were at grade level, and one of the first charter schools that was ever opened is there, Amistad Academy, and they had 71% of their kids at grade level. That school had been opened for a decade and it still was considered an anomaly. We’ve had this figured out for many, many years, and we haven’t found a way to make it systemic.
MMM: So you had a high opinion of charter schools from the get-go?
SACKLER: I knew that there were some charter schools that were incredibly high performing and if there are some schools that are doing so well and so many parents that want their children to be in them, why aren’t there more of them?
MMM: How long did this project take from conception to release?
SACKLER: Well I saw that [lottery] footage in April 2008 and I started working on it full-time in January 2009. It took 15 months.
MMM: How did you get TV on the Radio members Tunde Adebimpe and Gerard Smith to contribute the music to your film?
SACKLER: I was very excited. TV on the Radio is one of my favorite bands, so I was definitely a little starstruck. Tunde has such a beautiful voice and they both have such a beautiful musical sensibility. It was their first score and my first movie, so we spent a lot of hours figuring out what we’re supposed to be doing. I think it really is quite beautiful.
MMM: One of the issues raised in the film is race. You get the feeling after viewing the film that if Eva Moskowitz was African-American, people in the Harlem community would be far less critical of her work.
SACKLER: Maybe. I think it’s framed that way. But the parent who spoke on the panel, Carl, feels that it’s really the framing of an issue but not necessarily the heart of the problem. It’s not really addressed in the film but Eva served as the Chair of the Education Committee for several years and ran a lot of hearings on the problems with union contracts. That was very controversial among the teacher’s union and, according to Eva, they told her, “You have to stop holding these hearings.” The union said, “This is going to be the end of your political career,” and when she ran for borough president, they ran somebody against her and spent a lot of money on that campaign. So, when she lost, she decided she was going to go prove it could be done better and opened her own schools. I think some of the residual animosity is from that. Her schools are protested more than any other schools in the city and they’re some of the best. It’s very illogical and there are other white charter leaders, so it must be this antiquated political battle.
MMM: How did you choose the four families you profiled in the film?
SACKLER: I attended a lot of information sessions like the one in the movie. They have dozens of open houses where parents come, learn about the school and decide if they want to enter the lottery. So I just attended those and met a lot of really great parents.
MMM: Was it difficult to film the children?
SACKLER: It’s funny we were doing a photo shoot this morning and it is totally. It’s like a game. You’re constantly playing a game – “don’t look at the camera and you’ll get a treat!” Wolfgang [Held] who’s the DP, is an expert child photographer. He shot “Children Underground” and some of “Mad Hot Ballroom.” But really what it comes down to is just time. It takes a little longer with kids but when you’re around cameras for awhile, you start to forget that it’s there.
MMM: One of the most difficult things for you to negotiate – and the school system itself – is the personal versus the political. How did you negotiate that?
SACKLER: When I first started shooting the movie I was only interested in making a vérité film about four families. I was really excited by the artistic challenge of creating a portrait of four people going through this experience, from four different directions, and they all meet at this lottery. And we stumbled on the political side of things, which wasn’t at all the intention when making the film. I went through a mourning process when I knew it was going to have to take this different shape and we had to have this juggling act between the personal character portraits and the political struggle that the school system is facing all over the country. But, I felt it was a very important change because it answers the question I had going into the project: if there are these great schools and so many people want them then why aren’t there more of them? The answer is there are so many political obstacles all over the country to change.
MMM: What’s your opinion of Joel Klein and his relationship with Eva Moskowitz? Eva is pretty much the heroine of your film and from what I’ve read, it seems as though they have an odd, somewhat combative relationship with one another.
SACKLER: My understanding is they’re actually very admirable of each other. I think they’re both trying to reform the system in the same direction they just both face different obstacles. I think [Klein] is doing amazing things for kids against very difficult odds. What just happened last week with lifting the charter cap wasn’t able to happen in January, but the president’s persistence with providing incentives through Race to the Top, combined with people like Joel Klein, have meant that things that were impossible not even a few months ago are starting to happen now. It’s a very interesting and historic time. We’re at a crossroads now. There are more schools for kids than there ever were before for parents to choose from. We no longer have to send the kids to the red schoolhouse in the neighborhood no matter how terrible it is – at least in places where parents are fortunate, but we’re still not even close to being there yet. The fact that there are almost 200,000 kids on waitlists for charter schools shows there’s still a lot more room for growing.
THE LOTTERY opens on June 11th in New York City at Big Cinemas Manhattan 1