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Toni Collette (#110 of 4)

Ari Aster’s Hereditary, Sundance Horror Sensation, Gets First Trailer from A24

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Ari Aster’s Hereditary, Sundance Horror Sensation, Gets First Trailer from A24

A24

Ari Aster’s Hereditary, Sundance Horror Sensation, Gets First Trailer from A24

By most accounts, this year's Sundance was a particularly low-key affair. Perhaps the fate of Patti Cake$, which Fox Searchlight Pictures bought out of the festival last year for $9.5 million and made $1.5 at the box office, served as a kind of cautionary tale. For one, both Amazon and Netflix, who led the pack last year in terms of purchases, walked away from this year's festival without buying a single film. This probably came as a relief to many a competitor, but maybe it was also a sign that, at least on paper, there weren't very many films at the festival whose box-office potential seemed promising.

One thing that almost everyone at Sundance could agree on was that Hereditary is a sensation. A24 purchased the film, which stars Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, and Gabriel Byrne, ahead of the festival, and judging by its first trailer, a conscious effort is being made to position Ari Aster's feature-length directorial debut as less miminalist in the horror department than both The Witch and It Comes at Night.

15 Famous Big Weddings

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15 Famous Big Weddings
15 Famous Big Weddings

This weekend, multiplexes will be hit with what’s surely aiming to be the Valentine’s Day of wedding flicks. Directed by Justin Zackham, The Big Wedding packs Robert De Niro, Susan Sarandon, Diane Keaton, Katherine Heigl, Robin Williams, and more into a cast that’s led my Amanda Seyfried and Ben Barnes as the bride and groom. The titular celebration calls to mind a whole lot of substantial cinema nuptials, which stretch from good to great, and occur within chick flicks and masterpieces. We’ve rounded up 15 movie weddings that—aw, hell—take the cake.

Understanding Screenwriting #43: Shutter Island, The Ghost Writer, The Messenger, & More

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Understanding Screenwriting #43: <em>Shutter Island</em>, <em>The Ghost Writer</em>, <em>The Messenger</em>, & More
Understanding Screenwriting #43: <em>Shutter Island</em>, <em>The Ghost Writer</em>, <em>The Messenger</em>, & More

Coming up in this column: Shutter Island, The Ghost Writer, The Messenger, United States of Tara: First Season, but first:

Fan mail: Yay! We finally got some fan mail. Okay, it was for #41, and it came in after I had sent off #42, so I’m not getting to it until now, but still…

“Astrayn” likes that I commented on the Masterpiece Theatre pieces. There is another one coming up in #44, so watch for it. Astrayn didn’t like the Cranford films as much as I did, saying “it was as if Dickens was stripped of all the intrigue in his plots and only the quirky characters remained.” Good point, although I enjoyed hanging out with the characters. I did not see the new version of Emma, since between Clueless and the 1996 version, I am Emma-ed out for the moment.

“lee herbage” raises a whole pile of questions. First up was which of my books would I recommend “as a starting point?” Well, all of them of course. But seriously folks. I think you should start with FrameWork: A History of Screenwriting in the American Film. It gives you a view of how the art and craft developed. If you are interested in learning how to do it, you might see if you can find my 1982 textbook Screenwriting. It follows the process of screenwriting rather than giving you rules. I have had as many nice comments about it from professional screenwriters as I have from amateurs who read it, since the pros think it captures what they go through. The “Annotated Study List” in that book is the forerunner of the book Understanding Screenwriting as well as this column. If you are particularly interested in television, then Storytellers to the Nation: A History of American Television Writing is required reading. Those who have read most or all of my books think it is the best one.

T.V. on TV: The United States of Tara and Flight of the Conchords

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T.V. on TV: <em>The United States of Tara</em> and <em>Flight of the Conchords</em>
T.V. on TV: <em>The United States of Tara</em> and <em>Flight of the Conchords</em>

The United States of Tara, debuting tonight on Showtime, is an interesting misfire for a network that seems dedicated to making interesting misfires. The debuts of Brotherhood and Dexter a few years back made it seem like Showtime might have finally learned its lessons from years of trying to be HBO and failing miserably. Too many Showtime series have acted like the things that made HBO series successful were their adult content and their central gimmicks, so we got things like The L Word, which was pretty much just, “Hey, What if We Made a Show about Lesbians?: The Series” or Huff, which tossed just about everything it could from the HBO template into a blender and still ended up with something less than tempting. Tara has a few interesting parts, but it’s pretty much “Hey, What if We Made a Show about Multiple Personalities?: The Series,” and that, much to its detriment, tends to step on the interesting stuff.