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Film — past, present and future
What was L.A. Feline Film Festival like? Let Lil Bub show you

"My cat’s on Instagram" is a phrase you don't hear all that often, unless you happened to be at Sunday’s premiere of the L.A. Feline Film Festival at Exposition Park. It was everything magical that a cat lover dreams of: Web favorite Lil Bub and other celebrity cats, an 80-foot outdoor screen playing the Web’s best cat videos, and a safe space for humans to dress as cats in public.

The festival was organized by Organikat, an eco-friendly maker of cat products, and it drew an estimated 7,000 feline fans. The global 39-city tour began as an initiative by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. A percentage of Sunday’s ticket sales went to cat rescue and adoption groups, such as No-Kill Los Angeles Pet Adoption Center and Kitty Bungalow.

Super fans paid $100 to meet wide-eyed, Internet-famous Lil Bub, the host of a popular Web series and a published author. Owner Mike Bridavsky, who has two tattoos (cat-toos?) of Bub’s likeness, says events like the Feline Film Festival help boost awareness...

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Bryan Singer returning to direct 'X-Men: Apocalypse'

Bryan Singer is returning to the "X-Men" franchise to bring about the end of the world.

Singer has closed a deal with Fox to direct "X-Men: Apocalypse," the next installment of the blockbuster superhero series set for release May 27, 2016, The Times has confirmed. Deadline first reported the news.

The 49-year-old director of "X-Men: Days of Future Past" has been associated with "Apocalypse" for some time — he announced the title on Twitter in December and teased a page of the script on Instagram in June — so it's not hugely surprising that he and the studio have made things official.

With strong reviews and a worldwide gross of nearly $746 million, "Days of Future Past" proved to be a fruitful homecoming for Singer, who came back to the franchise after an absence of more than a decade (he made 2000's "X-Men" and 2002's "X2"). He seemingly regained his mojo after a semi-slump that included "Superman Returns" and "Jack the Giant Slayer."

That said, Singer's involvement with "Apocalypse"...

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Women scarce in films abroad, USC study finds

Meryl Streep won an Oscar for playing a steely yet faltering Margaret Thatcher in the 2011 British film “The Iron Lady.”

The role also warrants another distinction, according to a team of researchers at USC: Streep was the rare female to portray a high-profile politician in a popular film.

That’s according to a study USC released Monday that analyzed the role of women in front of and behind the camera in films from Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea and Britain.

Among the findings, films from Britain (37.9%), Brazil (37.1%) and South Korea (35.9%) had the highest percentage of female characters, while Indian films (24.9%) lagged.

Chinese movies were more gender-balanced than American ones: Women made up 35% of characters in Chinese films, compared with 29.3% in American movies. And women directed 16.7% of Chinese films during the period studied --  January 2010 to May 1, 2013 -- as compared to none of the U.S. films.

"It is a critical time ......

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt in talks for Oliver Stone's Edward Snowden film

One of Hollywood's most versatile young actors could be teaming up with one of its most iconoclastic filmmakers to tell the story of National Security Agency document leaker Edward Snowden.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in talks to play the lead role in Oliver Stone's upcoming narrative adaptation of Luke Harding's nonfiction book "The Snowden Files," The Times has confirmed. Deadline first reported the news.

The move ups the ante in the race to get a Snowden feature to the screen. Sony is developing a movie based on "No Place to Hide," the book by Glenn Greenwald, who helped bring Snowden's revelations to light. Stone aims to begin shooting later this year, backed by independent financing and revenue from foreign sales.

Snowden is of course a former NSA contractor who leaked thousands of classified documents about U.S. surveillance activities in June 2013. He is a polarizing figure who has been branded both a hero (by Stone and others) and a traitor (namely, by the U.S. government). He fled...

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'The Good Lie's' improbable Hollywood journey

For all of Hollywood’s commitment to social causes, there are few suggestions that stop an entertainment-industry conversation in its tracks faster than “Let's finance a movie about immigrants and a distant conflict."

Yet when “The Good Lie” — a story about the Lost Boys, the thousands of South Sudanese who survived war and famine  to come to the U.S. —  is released by Warner Bros. on more than 400 screens next week, it will show those conversations aren't always nonstarters. It can just take years of pluck, luck and some unexpected turns involving an adoptee of a Fed Ex mogul to get somewhere.

The backstory to “The Good Lie” demonstrates the axiom that just getting a movie made in Hollywood is its own triumph. That the film is a moving and well-told tale of resilient young men that many American filmgoers know little about is just a nice bonus.

About a decade ago, Margaret Nagle was an aspiring writer with a modest resume. She was transitioning from a humble career in acting, a realm...

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Polly Bergen, dead at 84, was strong women's rights activist

Emmy-winning actress Polly Bergen -- who passed away at 84 on Saturday -- is likely best known for her role in the original “Cape Fear,” a 1962 J. Lee Thompson-directed thriller starring Robert Mitchum as a vengeful ex-convict terrorizing a lawyer and his wife (Gregory Peck and Bergen).

But Bergen also played the first female President in Curtis Bernhardt’s 1964 “Kisses for My President” -- a role that’s far more in line with who the actress was in real life.

Bergen -- also an accomplished singer who recorded albums and performed in Broadway musicals -- was a dynamic businesswoman and strong women’s rights activist. She created and ran a successful cosmetics company that she sold to Faberge in 1973 and she was a staunch political supporter of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“She always thought a woman president in real life was long overdue,” says her nearly career-long manager Jan McCormack. “She campaigned vigorously for Hillary when she ran against Obama; she went up to people’s doors and...

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John Green headed back to screen as Universal acquires 'Let It Snow'

When it rains, it pours — or in this case, when it snows. Universal has optioned the film rights to the young-adult short-story collection "Let It Snow," marking the latest John Green book to be snapped up for big-screen treatment.

Green is the bestselling author of "The Fault in Our Stars," which became a breakout film for Fox this summer to the tune of $300 million worldwide, and of "Paper Towns," which is being adapted into a movie starring Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne (also at Fox).

Green co-wrote "Let It Snow" with Maureen Johnson (the "Shades of London" and "Suite Scarlett" series) and Lauren Myracle (the "Internet Girls" series). The book comprises three separate but intertwining romances set during a Christmastime blizzard.

Scott Stuber and Dylan Clark will produce the "Let It Be" adaptation under the Universal-based Bluegrass Films banner.

...

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Angelina Jolie's next directing job is Richard Leakey drama 'Africa'

Angelina Jolie is doubling down on directing and continuing to pursue her overseas interests while doing so: The globe-trotting actress, humanitarian and filmmaker has signed on to helm "Africa," a sweeping drama about the famed paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey and his battle against ivory poachers. Skydance Productions made the announcement Friday.

Featuring a script by Eric Roth, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of "Forrest Gump," "Africa" marks the latest in a string of high-profile directing gigs for Jolie, who for all her stardom remains a relatively unproven filmmaker: To date, her only released feature has been the little-seen Bosnian war drama "In the Land of Blood and Honey."

That will all change soon enough, as Jolie's "Unbroken," a biopic about the Olympic runner and World War II hero Louis Zamperini, is scheduled for release on Christmas Day. The Universal release is regarded as a potential Oscar contender, but it's also something of a wild card. Few have seen the film,...

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'Big Eyes' trailer shows a different kind of Tim Burton gaze

"So, who is the artist?" someone asks Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz at the end of the new trailer for Tim Burton's "Big Eyes." It's a question the film deals with literally and in other ways, according to the new spot, which hit the Web on Friday ahead of the film's scheduled Christmas Day release by the Weinstein Co. The trailer furnishes much of the narrative information from the fact-based film set in the mid-20th century. A single mother in San Francisco named Margaret (Adams) paints portraits large and small of waifish girls, the subjects distinguished by their abnormally large, puppy-dog eyes. Into Margaret's life walks Walter Keane (Waltz), who sweeps her off her feet -- and has a business plan to mass produce the paintings that involves, among other things, stealing credit for her work. Fireworks and eventually a courtroom showdown ensue. Judging by the story and the trailer,  the piece appears to be an Oscar showcase for Adams, who has been nominated in each of the last two years...

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'A Walk Among the Tombstones' is grim business, reviews say

With a title like "A Walk Among the Tombstones," the new crime thriller from writer-director Scott Frank and star Liam Neeson promises to journey into dark territory.

But just how dark Frank and Neeson got while adapting Lawrence Block's novel -- about ex-cop and recovering alcoholic Matthew Scudder (Neeson) trying to solve a series of grisly kidnappings -- has surprised many film critics. Reviews have been mixed to positive, but most all agree that "Tombstones" is grim business.

The Times' Kenneth Turan called "Tombstones" the "creepiest film I've seen in quite some time, and that's not meant as a compliment." The film has "a very modern emphasis on the graphic torture and mutilation of women," Turan said, adding, "It may make me behind the times and out of touch to say it, but how did we get to a place where watching that kind of activity is considered entertainment?"

It's a shame, because the film is otherwise "more than capably written and directed by Frank and well acted by star...

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LA Feline Film Festival is the cat's meow

There isn’t a day that goes by without a new video going viral on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube of some cat looking cute, being mischievous or even saving the day.

So it was just a matter of time before these Internet videos would go legit. This Sunday, cat fanatics will descend on Christmas Tree Lane at Exposition Park for the LA Feline Film Festival.

And the festival is pulling out all the stops with personal appearances by three feline superstars -- Lil Bub, Tara the Hero Cat and Dusty the Klepto Cat.

Lil Bub, the 3-year-old cat known for her “perma-kitten” appearance and that helped raise $100,000 for animals in need, will participate in a meet and greet.

Joining her in the Celebrity Cat Tent will be Tara, who made news after a video went viral earlier this year that received more than 500 million views and that shows her chasing down a vicious dog attacking her 4-year-old owner. Then there's Animal Planet sensation Dusty the Klepto Cat, who has a penchant for stealing items and...

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Fox to unleash 'X-Men' spinoff 'Deadpool' in February 2016

Deadpool, the wisecracking mercenary antihero, has proved just about unkillable in the pages of Marvel comics. His movie appears to be equally resilient: 20th Century Fox has announced it will release the long-gestating "X-Men" spinoff "Deadpool" on Feb. 12, 2016.

Tim Miller, a visual-effects artist who worked on "X-Men" and "X-Men 2," is to direct "Deadpool." Although no cast members have been announced, Ryan Reynolds has long been associated with the project and played a version of the character in 2009's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine."

Confirmation of "Deadpool's" release comes on the heels of leaked test footage (shot years ago) that features Reynolds playing the character, a smart-mouthed assassin who wears a head-to-toe red suit and provides self-referential running commentary while doing his dirty work. (You can watch the footage, which would definitely be R-rated, on YouTube.)

Reynolds recently addressed the footage in an interview with the Niagra Falls Review, suggesting the leak...

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