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Film — past, present and future
Netflix-Adam Sandler: The digital platform as comeback springboard

Adam Sandler isn't a big digital guy. He's copped to as much recently, telling reporters at the Toronto International Film Festival last month that he by and large avoided Twitter (he has an account but rarely tweets from it) and other forms of social media. (He does sort of like Wikipedia.)

Sandler chalked up this techno-agnosticism to him being "busy doing other stuff." Some of that, apparently, is making 21st century deals after all. Sandler and Netflix announced Wednesday evening that they were partnering on four new films. After rejuvenating the career of Keyser Soze and finding new life in the women's prison drama, the future-minded folks of Los Gatos were now turning to the man who was once Billy Madison. Give us your tired your poor, your huddled former box-office A-listers, yearning to break free.

You have to admire the commitment to the enterprise. Sandler is one of the hardest-working actors in show business, keeping a pace of more than a movie per year for the past two...

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Adam Sandler signs exclusive 4-movie deal with Netflix

Movie star and comedian Adam Sandler announced Wednesday night that he signed an exclusive four-picture deal with Netflix.

Sandler announced the deal on his verified Twitter account.

“I tried to sign up for Netflix but this happened instead,” Sandler tweeted.

Netflix sent out an announcement shortly afterward.

“Under the deal announced today, Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions will work alongside Netflix to develop the four films and to premiere them exclusively to members in the nearly 50 countries where Netflix operates,” Netflix said. “Current studio film commitments are not included in this deal.”

Fans of the former “Saturday Night Live" cast member can’t get enough of his work, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement.

“People love Adam’s films on Netflix and often watch them again and again. His appeal spans across viewers of all ages -- everybody has a favorite movie, everyone has a favorite line -- not just in the U.S. but all over the world,” Sarandos...

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'Harmontown' shows Dan Harmon, in all his self-loathing and self-worship

It's hard to decide what Dan Harmon has done more of in Hollywood — engineer comebacks or bite the hands that have given him those comebacks.

The "Community" creator — the entertainment industry's id and conscience, its grenade-thrower and its truth-teller, depending on your point of view — is back in the public eye, thanks to an upcoming sixth season of his signature show and a new documentary called "Harmontown."

The episodes of "Community" — coming after he was hired, fired, rehired and then canceled by NBC — have been commissioned by Yahoo, marking a different approach to a long-running cult comedy. The documentary, drawn from his time on the road with his eponymous Los Angeles-based podcast, is also a first for the 41-year-old.

But all these new paths hardly mean the old edge is gone.

"We call it the golden age of television, which really gets me. I mean, you're already making opiates for the hearts and minds for hundreds of millions of people," he said, in one of several darts he...

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New York Film Fest: Kathryn Bigelow's small film on a big topic

In her recent work, director Kathryn Bigelow has shown a flair for the maximal, taking on epic characters and big subjects such as the futility and meaning of foreign wars. "Zero Dark Thirty" was a nearly three-hour look at a globe-hopping quest over the course of years. "The Hurt Locker" found a man on a tense, Sisyphean journey into and back into conflict-ridden Iraq. Both were neo-verite affairs meant to make the viewer feel the grit and hot breath of war.

Her new film is, in one sense, the opposite of all that. "Last Days," which just premiered at the New York Film Festival, is a three-minute ditty — animated, no less — that takes on the sad subject of elephant poaching in Africa.

But the film is also of a piece with those Oscar-decorated triumphs. Like "Zero Dark Thirty" and "The Hurt Locker," "Last Days" has a filmmaking rigor. The story is told backward, "Memento"-style, a neat formal trick that also comes with a wordplay payoff. And like her other features, it traces the...

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'Men, Women & Children' fails to connect, reviews say

Oh, what a tangled World Wide Web we weave. Such is the focus of "Men, Women & Children," Jason Reitman's ensemble drama about the intersecting lives — online and off — of various teens and adults in a suburban Texas town.

Despite the topical subject and talented cast, however, early reviews say the film suffers from the same problem as its characters: It just can't connect.

The Times' Betsy Sharkey describes Reitman's film as an "anti-Internet screed" that "plays like one of those email rants you're better off not sending." She continues: "What nags is why a writer-director usually so canny in capturing cultural evolutions, so shrewd in probing the zeitgeist, so humane in his humor about mankind's failings would turn so reactionary in taking on — or more precisely taking down — a computer-dependent society."

The incisive filmmaker of "Juno," "Up in the Air" and "Young Adult" is "mostly invisible in 'Men, Women & Children,'" Sharkey says, "leaving little to recommend this clichéd...

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'Big' TV remake: Will the man-child comedy come of age?

They grow up so fast. "Big," the 1988 comedy starring Tom Hanks as a boy in the body of a 30-year-old man, is just a few years shy of that benchmark age itself. Now comes news that the film has achieved its own mark of maturity: a half-hour TV series, which is being developed by Fox.

For many observers, the "Big" adaptation will represent the latest instance of Hollywood cannibalizing existing intellectual property to capitalize on audiences' familiarity with a title. They wouldn't be wrong. That said, the notion of relocating what is perhaps the quintessential man-child comedy to a contemporary setting has some intriguing cultural implications.

The adaptation comes courtesy of Kevin Biegel and Mike Royce, who worked together on the short-lived military sitcom "Enlisted," about young men similarly struggling to adulthood. As Royce told, the new show will tackle "what it means to be an adult and what it means to be a kid, and how today those two things are more confused...

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Ben Affleck eyes action-thriller 'The Accountant' for next role

Ben Affleck seems to have a penchant for characters with secret lives. The star of the marital murder mystery "Gone Girl" and the superhero showdown "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" may next portray an accountant by day and assassin by night.

The 42-year-old actor-director is in talks to star in the action-thriller "The Accountant" for Warner Bros., the Times has confirmed. Variety first reported the news.

With an original script by Bill DuBuque (of the upcoming Robert Downey Jr. movie "The Judge"), "The Accountant" tells the story of a brilliant bookkeeper who moonlights as a contract killer. Warner Bros. is looking at Gavin O'Connor ("Warrior") to direct, and the producers are Mark Williams and Lynette Howell.

"The Accountant" has been bouncing around Hollywood for some time, with directors including Mel Gibson and the Coen Brothers previously attached and Will Smith circling the lead role at one point. The project was most recently set up at Sony, which put it into turnaround,...

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'Tetris' movie: Pieces fall into place for live-action adaptation

Danger — falling blocks? Yep, the classic 1980s video game "Tetris" is headed to the big screen as a live-action sci-fi film, Threshold Entertainment and the Tetris Co. have announced.

Best known for adapting the ultra-violent fighting franchise "Mortal Kombat" into two movies during the 1990s, Threshold has some experience translating video games into motion pictures, although "Tetris" doesn't necessarily lend itself to narrative treatment.

The addictive strategy game, after all, doesn't have any characters — unless you count the blocky puzzle pieces known as tetrominoes — or a story to speak of. What it does offer is worldwide recognition: During the last 30 years, the game has sold hundreds of millions of products on more than 50 platforms across 185 countries.

That's good enough for Threshold, which has billed the would-be blockbuster (sorry) as a "sci-fi epic."

The company's chief executive, Larry Kasanoff, also told the Wall Street Journal, "This isn't a movie with a bunch of...

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Hollywood Film Festival finalizes lineup, adds movies celebrating L.A.

The Hollywood Film Festival, revamped as a showcase of socially conscious cinema, has finalized its lineup with Celebrate Hollywood, a program of seven films that were shot in Tinseltown or that reference show business.

The category will include "Alex of Venice," actor-director Chris Messina's drama about a workaholic attorney forced to reinvent her life after her husband leaves; "The Dramatics," Scott Rodgers' comedy about a stressed-out actress who lands a starring role in a sexually explicit miniseries; and "Becoming Bulletproof," Michael Barnett's documentary following a group of disabled actors who set out to make a western.

"Celebrate Hollywood provides opportunity to pay homage to the motion picture capital and its impact on entertainment," HFF executive director Jon Fitzgerald said in a statement. "As the festival grows and becomes more relevant in the community, and as incentives continue to be given for filmmaking in Hollywood, we expect this will become one of the more...

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'Taken 3' trailer: This time, Liam Neeson is on the run

The hunter has become the hunted in the new trailer for "Taken 3," the next -- and supposedly final -- installment of the hit action franchise starring Liam Neeson as a butt-kicking family man with a "very particular set of skills." (Watch the trailer above.)

You'd think that ex-special-forces operative Bryan Mills (Neeson) deserves a breather after saving his daughter (Maggie Grace) from human traffickers in "Taken" and rescuing his ex-wife (Famke Janssen) from vindictive mobsters in "Taken 2."

Alas, just when he thinks he's out, they pull him back in: Mills arrives home one day to find his former spouse murdered and himself framed for the crime. The only way to clear his name and protect his daughter is, of course, to punch, kick and shoot through anyone who stands in his way, whether LAPD, FBI, CIA or some other unlucky acronym.

Judging from the trailer, "Taken 3" -- also styled oh-so-edgily as "Tak3n" -- has plenty to offer fans of the first two films, which combined to gross more...

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Netflix's 'Crouching Tiger' experiment: Is it a game-changer?

On Monday evening, Netflix announced plans to move into the narrative feature business. The company said in a statement that it was teaming with Weinstein Co. on the latter’s sequel to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” the 2000 Ang Lee martial-arts epic that was a smash at the time of its release--it remains the highest-grossing foreign-language movie in U.S. history--but hasn't been a touchstone for some time.

The sequel, subtitled "The Green Legend,” was announced last year, and production was already under way in New Zealand (sans Lee). The news, of course, is Netflix, which will make the film available to subscribers day-and-date next August as Weinstein releases the film in Imax theaters globally.

This was, in a way, only a matter of time: Netflix, frustrated by a windowing system it sees as stifling its on-demand ethos, has been nibbling around narrative features for a whie. It created longform television with cinematic qualities in shows like ”House of Cards” and “Orange Is the...

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'Inherent Vice' trailer: Paul Thomas Anderson does Thomas Pynchon

The first trailer for "Inherent Vice," Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of the 2009 Thomas Pynchon novel, has been released by Warner Bros. (watch it above). Set in late-1960s Los Angeles, the film stars Joaquin Phoenix as Larry "Doc" Sportello, a pot-smoking private investigator enlisted by his ex-girlfriend (Katherine Waterston) to investigate a plot involving her billionaire boyfriend.

The cast also includes Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon and Benicio Del Toro. The film is Anderson's follow-up to the 2012 drama "The Master." "Inherent Vice" is set for release Dec. 12.

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