Dr. Laura and Cooper Lawrence clash live on SiriusXM

There was something of a psychiatric smackdown when SiriusXM’s Dr. Laura called into “WOR Tonight With Joe Concha” to talk about her new book.

The chat started nicely, with Laura thanking co-hosts Concha and Cooper Lawrence for an effusive intro. But Lawrence and Laura clashed on whether kids in daycare are as happy as kids raised only by a parent.

Laura said, “C’mon, Cooper … A mother’s love as opposed to hired help? That you even question that tells me that you don’t seem to understand.” Lawrence shot back, “No, that’s because I have a Ph.D. in psychology.”

Laura called Lawrence’s case “pseudo research” and after speaking over each other said, “OK. The name of the book is ‘Love & Life’ and you two have a good night” — and hung up.

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Jonas Brothers Return To Jingle Ball Tour With Amazinng Performance in NYC

The Jonas Brothers are looking sharp on the red carpet while arriving for Z100′s 2019 Jingle Ball at Madison Square Garden on Friday (December 13) in New York City.

The guys – Nick, Joe and Kevin – hit the stage at the event for the first time in over 10 years and totally rocked it.

“The last time we were on this stage was over 12 years ago,” Nick told the crowd. “The time flies quickly but you guys have continued to show the love and support so thank you.”

The JoBros performed several of their hit songs including “Only Human,” “Cool,” “Burnin’ Up,” “Sucker,” and their brand-new holiday song, “Like It’s Christmas.”

Check out over 20+ pictures inside of The Jonas Brothers at Jingle Ball 2019 in NYC…

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Notes On The Season: State Of The Race; Jennifer Lopez Soars Into Contention; Terry Gilliam Tilts At Oscar’s Windmill

A column chronicling conversations and events on the awards circuit.

Who’s up? Who’s down? Who’s in? Who’s out? After a week that is probably the most consequential yet this shortened awards season those questions remain after Golden Globes, Critics Choice, SAG, ACE, ADG, CDG, LAFCC, and who knows who else jumped into the game to separate the men from the boys in this season’s race, and in the case of the Golden Globes Best Director race, the men from the women. Controversy aside (what kind of awards season would it be without a little outrage?), there is now a clearer picture of which movies seem to be heading to glory, at least as far as potential Oscar nominees go. This is what separates December from November. In November the town is completely manic because everyone, even Cliffs of Freedom, has convinced themselves they have a shot. By mid -December the reality kicks in when you wake up at 5AM and learn the Hollywood Foreign Press Association forgot all about that press conference you did especially for them, and the critics groups decide those Two Popes slippers weren’t the right size. The spin from awards strategists on these developments in almost instant, like a bunch of politicians stepping off a debate stage. No matter how dour the performance there is usually a bright side to tout.

After Wednesday morning’s SAG reveal one publicist had an answer as to why their late breaking movie wasn’t on the list: “Every one of today’s nominated films/performances across all of the film categories had their first public screening no later than October 14th (“Bombshell”), and the large majority of the nominees had debuted via the September festivals and had been actively screening ever since. In certain cases – Parasite, Rocketman, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – the films debuted back in May at the Cannes Film Festival … not to mention Netflix has all three of its titles on its platform, whereas studio films are restricted to the AMPAS streaming site, which not everyone knows about I can assure you.” It is true the early bird is catching the worm more often now in precursor awards contests, particularly at SAG which started balloting on November 14, long before some contenders were even finished.

At 5:35 a.m., immediately after the Globes announcement, a Netflix publicist cautioned about the absence of a certain actor in the lineup. “A reminder that De Niro is a producer on The Irishman and got nominated there,” the staffer emailed offering a positive Robert De Niro will still be going to the Golden Globes on January 5th. And after The Irishman star’s absence in the lead actor category at SAG two days later, this email came: “The Irishman – 4 nominations + Robert De Niro receiving SAG Lifetime Achievement at the show”. As they say ‘accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative’. De Niro is nominated as part of the cast at SAG but was aced out, with several others, by surprise nominee Taron Egerton, excellent as Elton John in Rocketman but thought to be further down the list of possibilities. He had a very good week, nailing a Globes nod as well in the Comedy or Musical category. As one publicist looking over the list emailed of the thesps union’s decision: “One thing this proves once and for all is that actors f*cking love impersonations.”

Adding up all the stats the big winners of the week were The Irishman and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood which both landed nominations in every contest and just about every category (with the exception of the aforementioned Mr. De Niro) they could across the board. This indicates not only strong critical support, but more crucially recognition from the guilds whose memberships are also comprised of many Academy voters. Throw in Parasite whose significant presence in most of these nominations as well, particularly impressive for that South Korean juggernaut, and you have a three way tie for current front runner, but with PGA, DGA, WGA and many other crafts guilds still to weigh in it is a long way to go, but clearly there is a lot of love out there for those three films, but room for something else (1917 anyone?) to stage a sneak attack.

JLO’S BIG MOMENT

Jennifer Lopez was on the cover of People’s year end double issue this week, with the caption “The Year My Dreams Came True”. Ain’t that the truth! You can add her name to the list of those who also had a hell of a week with Supporting Actress nominations across the board from SAG, Golden Globes, Critics Choice, and a big win in the category from the Los Angeles Film Critics, all for the most acclaimed performance of her career in Hustlers which last month also brought her an Indie Spirit nomination. For a star whose previous recognition for acting came from the likes of a 1998 Saturn nomination for Best Actress in Anaconda, this has to be especially sweet. She has always been underrated as an actress whether in comedy or drama, but as a high wattage star and celebrity perhaps an easy target, still 10 Razzie nominations is ludicrous, and it is fairly astounding that the HFPA took 23 years after her first and only Globe nomination for Selena to bring her back. Hollywood however loves to pick you up when you are down, but in the case of Lopez they are picking her up when she is up. When I hopped on the phone with the busy superstar/producer she genuinely seemed rather stunned by the success of Hustlers and the universal praise for her performance (she also produced), especially after the film, a true life story about a group of strippers who drug their Wall Street clients and then max out their credit cards, was turned down by just about every studio.

“I was doing movies so long I kind of let go of expectations. I do it because I love it, and I believe in the character and the project, and then you hope,” she said. “You always go in with the intention of like, yes, I think this could be something very special, but you know, when you’ve been in the business a long time, you know some of them can’t, and some of them don’t, and you know, as much as we believe in Hustlers and knew it would be something special, felt it would be something special, I could never have expected everything that’s happening, and I’m obviously over the moon about it.”

It wasn’t easy to get going but Lopez, and her producing partner Elaine Goldsmith Thomas believed in it even if the women portrayed in it are not exactly role models. “In a certain way when people think of strippers, they think, oh, great. That’ll be sexy. That’ll be hot, but then they go, but wait a minute, they’re actually taking advantage of the men and kind of winning? And are they rapists? Are they bad guys? No, this is the story. There’s all different kinds of people out there, this actually happened, and we have to stay true to what is going on. This is the story we’re telling,” she said in emphasizing that it wasn’t an easy sell. “And it was important that we stick to that, and a lot of male executives were not on board with that. They just couldn’t see how that would be interesting or fun, but for me I looked at us as being in the women’s Goodfellas. moving in this underground, kind of sexy but very dangerous, world you know, who are breaking the rules, breaking the law. And kind of badasses but at the same time you know, going to be done in by their own greed and bad behavior.”

Lopez has one of the more memorable entrances on screen I have seen in some time, and I would give her these awards just for that pole dance near the beginning of the film. But she was surprised how hard it was to actually achieve. “I thought as a dancer, and as kind of an athletic person that it would be something that I could conquer pretty quickly. But it wasn’t, and I had to work at it really hard. And I also had to train at the gym in a different way than I ever have before because I had to gain so much core strength and so much upper body strength. And I started having to lift weights, and so it was kind of a two-pronged project for the pole itself, and you know, that scene wasn’t in the movie to begin with. It was written as a final flourish on stage. Ramona does the final flourish on stage and then she goes off, and she meets Destiny, and I said to (the director) Lorene (Scafaria), I said this should be her entrance, her number, and we have to kind of really establish who she is, like she’s supposed to be the best in the club, and she has the game on lock, and she has everybody in the palm of her hand, and she knows how to make money, and we got to see that all in that first scene when you introduce her,” she said. Mission accomplished, indeed.

After the success of Hustlers and all the attention she is getting this season awards-wise Lopez is looking for more challenging projects as an actor. She has a project on Griselda Blanco called The Godmother that has been in development for a few years so she says that might go next year, again with STX. And she recently finished a romantic comedy with music opposite Owen Wilson called Marry Me. But all this awards attention has led her to tread a little more slowly toward what’s next. What is immediately next is the Super Bowl, and if all goes the way it looks like it is going, she will be performing at the halftime show on February 2 as Oscar nominee Jennifer Lopez.

“It’s super exciting,” she said. “You know, it’s something I think every musical performer and artist wants to do the Super Bowl at some point in their career, and so I love that I get to do it. Right now, I’m excited, I’m already thinking about what I’m going to do. I start rehearsals soon so I’m really excited,” she said.

TERRY GILLIAM HITS THE TRAIL FOR ‘DON QUIXOTE

It may have taken him only just about 30 years to get it made, but now director Terry Gilliam is just hoping someone actually sees The Man Who Killed Don Quixote the passion project that has become legend and brought him unexpectedly on the awards circuit this week. He has stopped over in L.A. for some screenings of the film (including a triple bill tonight at the Aero in Santa Monica that also includes two other Gilliam classics) which barely got released earlier this year with a special Fathom Events presentation and nominal theatrical exposure. But after you have worked three decades to bring something to the screen, it can be a little frustrating not to see it on any. I moderated a Q&A with him last night at the Landmark Theatre in front of an appreciative audience that turned up for the movie, a contemporary comedy in which an advertising director played by Adam Driver finds himself mixed up in the delusions of an old shoemaker in a remote Spanish town who is convinced he is really Don Quixote. That role is played by Jonathan Pryce. Both actors are superb and both are ironically in the Best Actor conversation this year with Pryce just nominated for a Golden Globe for The Two Popes, and Driver up for a Globe, Critics Choice, and SAG award for Marriage Story, both movies from Netflix. Perhaps if Quixote were with Netflix more people would have seen it by now. Gilliam however wants it seen in a theatrical setting. The performances are worth the price of admission alone, and Gilliam thinks it is Driver’s best, which incidentally is one of four 2019 film releases for the actor also seen in The Report, and next week’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

The story behind the making of it is legendary. It actually started production in 2000 and shot for five days with Johnny Depp in the Driver role of Toby and Jean Rochefort as Quixote, but medical problems for the latter and uncompromising weather conditions shut it down for good and spawned a 2002 documentary about the disastrous shoot called Lost In La Mancha. After being caught up in insurance problems, lawsuits from a Portuguese producer, and other false starts and various castings it finally got made and actually closed the Cannes Film Festival in 2018 even if said producer tried to unsuccessfully stop it. Gilliam says the lawsuits are still continuing however, with three more due to come up next year. Somehow though the acclaimed director of films like Brazil, The Fisher King, Time Bandits, Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, and The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen among many others, never gave up, always going back to revive Quixote between other projects. At last night’s screening that was introduced by a publicist as for BAFTA and Academy members, Gilliam told me awards weren’t the goal of dipping his toes into the season with this film. “No. This is just a way of getting people to see the movie. We had terrible distribution. I am not worried about awards. I just simply wanted people to see how good this thing is and how the work is on screen from the actors to the designers to costumes and everybody who did a brilliant job, but it is like we don’t exist at the moment,” he said noting the film was rescued by Alacran Pictures and its head exec who put in the final needed $3 million to get it finally made, but only had one request: to walk up the steps at Cannes. “She got her wish,” said Gilliam who is under no illusions or Don Quixote moments of grandeur or tilting at windmills to do the same thing at the Oscars. But this movie is worth seeing any way you can, and so if that is the motivation for Gilliam’s brief dip into the season, then all the effort was well spent.

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Oscars: Examining The Expanded International Feature Film Shortlist Possibilities

The International Feature Film Oscar shortlist is due out on Monday, with an expanded 10 titles up from the traditional nine. Preliminary voting closed in the category on Wednesday with the first seven films determined (although still held under wraps) and the Executive Committee will meet Monday morning to decide on the three so-called “saves.” As ever, this is a year with a rich crop of films from talent outside the United States. In total, there are 91 movies vying for a mention.

Filmmakers have trotted the globe to festivals and Q&A screenings while presumed favorite Bong Joon-Ho even made a recent stop on The Tonight Show. Along with the Korean director’s Parasite, there are a host of other possibilities for the shortlist, and below we take a look at a cross-section of titles that could turn up on the roster on Monday.

Here’s our shot at the major contenders:

AND THEN WE DANCED; Director:Levan Akin; U.S. Distributor: Music Box

And Then We DancedMusic Box Films

Levan Akin is a Swedish-born filmmaker of Georgian descent whose third film, And Then We Danced, is Sweden’s Oscar submission for the International Feature race. The Georgian-language film is the first LGBTQ+ movie set in the country and debuted in the Directors’ Fortnight section of Cannes earlier this year. When Akin came to Deadline’s Cannes Studio at the time, he told me the subject matter required the team to be scrappy while shooting in Tbilisi. But he wasn’t really prepared for what would follow.

“It’s been a turbulent week,” he understated to me recently. This was following the November 8 premiere in the Georgian capital which was stormed by several hundred protesters who chanted “Long live Georgia!” and “Shame!” before burning a rainbow flag. The demonstrators created a “corridor of shame” leading to cinemas showing the movie, but the screenings were able to carry on. Riot police were on hand, although injuries ensued and at least 11 people were arrested.

Set in the strict and gender conservative scene of ancient Georgian dance, And Then We Danced follows an obsessive young dancer Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani), who has been training at the National Georgian Ensemble with his partner, Mary (Ana Javakishvili), since he was a child. However, when new dancer Irakli (Bachi Valishvili) arrives, what begins as a rivalry soon turns to longing as the two draw closer together.

It has been legal to be gay in Georgia since 2000 and there is protection on an official level. Akin says the protests have not been endorsed by the government, but there are “these loudmouths that are screaming who are homophobic by default — and there is also a large group that supports the movie.”

Akin calls it a “film about tradition and culture and how to carve out one’s own place. This discourse is happening not only in Georgia, but happening all over the world.” (See here for more from our earlier discussion.)

ATLANTICS (Senegal); Director: Mati Diop; U.S. Distributor: Netflix

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Mati Diop’s Cannes prize-winning film is an intense young love story rooted in elements of the supernatural. The director made history at the festival, becoming the first black female director to have a film in competition — and went on to scoop the Grand Prize.

Diop says that in Cannes she had just come out of months of preparation and “wasn’t ready for it.” Afterwards, when she started to do promotion on the film, there was a point when she began to be “fed up” by the attention paid to her history-making role, rather than the movie. Now, she says, “I understand it is an event and it takes up space, I accept it, I embrace it. But what’s unjust is that it brings a shadow to the film and what I propose as a filmmaker. Frankly, it requires me to be more rigorous with how I talk about the film.”

Atlantics is set along the coast of Senegal where a soon-to-be-inaugurated futuristic tower looms over a suburb of Dakar. There in the capital is 17-year-old Ada, who is in love with Souleiman, a young construction worker, but has been promised to another man. One night, Souleiman and his co-workers leave the country by sea, in hope of a better future. Several days later, a fire ruins Ada’s wedding and a mysterious fever starts to spread. Little does Ada know that Souleiman has returned.

Deadline

The film originated with Diop’s 2009 short of the same name. The project took a long time to build and Diop notes, “It’s very strong to feel that a film wasn’t there when we started to write, but in the necessity of demands, it evolved. In the same way I conceived of this film in this part of the world, an audience was formulating to see this sort of film. It wasn’t just me, but an audience asking for this type of representation.”

Earlier this fall, she told Deadline, “I kept on thinking about the desire, but mostly the need, to write a feature about the situation of migration but from another point of view. The first major choice was to talk about the disappeared youth in the ocean from the point of view of the living, of the ones who stay, in order to talk about the experience of losing these people, of how does it transform the everyday life and imagination of the people who stay.”

Talking about her experience on the Oscar trail, Diop says “for a French person it’s very unreal.” From a sociological point of view, she’s also fascinated by the “reality versus the fantasy” of Hollywood. The more she advances in the campaign, “the more I realize I want it to happen. If a film by a first time director set in Dakar with non-actors and a monster (can be recognized by the Oscars) it’s a wonderful sign. I do think it’s important because a film like this sends a strong signal to the world.” Either way, she says, “I’ve already won in a way because today I am in a position to do what I want for a second film.” But, she “also wants it to evolve for reasons bigger than me.”

BEANPOLE (Russia); Director: Kantemir Balagov; U.S. Distributor

Cannes

Balagov is Russia’s entry for the International Feature Film Oscar for the first time, with his second film. The story of the plight of two women in a devastated post-WWII Leningrad brought Balagov a Best Director win in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section this year. He visited with Deadline at the festival back in May, and we recently caught up to discuss his journey since, the reasons why he has tended to focus on female stories and what the future holds.

Balagov’s inspiration for Beanpole came from Svetlana Alexievich’s book The Unwomanly Face Of War, and centers on Iya and Masha as they search for meaning and hope in the struggle to rebuild their lives amongst the ruins.

The film has a notable palette. Balagov credits his DP, Kseniya Sereda, with finding the look of Beanpole. The pair discussed extensively how Balagov envisioned it, and “after a couple days of shooting, when I saw the material, I realized that she is not just a cinematographer. I saw her for the first time as my soulmate and I started to trust her more and told her ‘Shoot it like you see it.’”

This is the director’s second film in a row that tells a woman’s story and was important, “because no one has shown in Russian modern cinema the face of the women after the war.” See more from Balagov and on the film, here.

THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND (UK); Director: Chiwetel Ejiofor; U.S. Distributor: Netflix

Netflix

Chiwetel Ejiofor’s directorial debut is this year’s British entry for the Oscar, which he shot in Chichewa, the local Bantu language of Malawi. Ejiofor, who did not speak the language, says that wasn’t a deterrence even though he was going to be behind and in front of the camera. “There was not really a moment where we were going to do it in English,” he told me.

When the decision was made to shoot in Malawi, “we felt what we were rooting for was something very authentic and that meant trying to be honest about the language and how it’s used in certain spaces in the village. It felt important to represent that authentically.”

The true story follows William Kamkwamba, a young boy whose family struggles to pay for his schooling when a drought leads to a devastating famine and they are unable to farm the land. It’s his thirst for science — and a desire to teach himself even when he is refused a place at school — that leads him to design a windmill to power an electrical water pump. But not before a complicated negotiation with his father (Ejiofor) to scavenge the family bicycle for parts, when it’s the only major asset they own.

Deadline

The film debuted in Sundance and Ejiofor says he “wasn’t really even thinking in terms of the whole year and this part, but I’m thrilled to begin a process of getting a film out there and engaging people with William’s story. Really, what I suspected and what became true are that the themes of the story and William and living in the solution to things were really pertinent when I read the book (by Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer), but over time just became more so.”

The story, Ejiofor feels, “has a classic traditional element in terms of cinema, but also underlying themes that you feel just personally connect to you: family and generational knowledge. These sort of understandings, and one’s relationship to place, come through in really strong ideas about education and these dynamics.”

The book came out 10 years ago when the conversation around alternative energy “was not raging as much as it is today, but was part of it in the way land is exploited,” Ejiofor notes. “I feel like in a way I was looking at a lot of different stories and this one combined all the elements and themes. Just as those pennines started to drop while reading the book, I thought it would be great to adapt.”

Asked if taking on a directorial debut, a new language and acting in the film all at once consumed his life, the 12 Years A Slave Oscar nominee shares a deep, knowing laugh: “Total consumption of life,” he says. “It was a lot, but trying to go for everything gave everything a sort of clarity.”

LES MISERABLES (France); Director: Ladj Ly; U.S. Distributor: Amazon Studios

Amazon Studios

One of the breakout filmmakers of this year’s Cannes, Les Misérables writer/director Ladj Ly’s star is on the rise. His feature debut won the Jury Prize at the festival, shortly after he signed with CAA and had already been named a Deadline One to Watch. The film then sold to Amazon Studios in one of the biggest domestic deals ever for a French-language movie.

A veteran of documentaries and shorts Ly was a rare first-timer in the Cannes competition and is expected on Oscar’s shortlist Monday. He has a Golden Globe and an Indie Spirit nomination already under his belt.

Ly’s been making movies for 20 years and is an autodidact who didn’t go to film school. He has told Deadline, “My references are what I have lived, the people around me, the experience that I’ve gained over all these years. My cinema is really (that) I am inspired by reality, what I live, and that produces Les Misérables.”

Violeta Sofia

The politically charged urban drama was inspired by the 2005 Paris riots, and Ly’s César-nominated short film of the same name. It’s set in Montfermeil, the Paris suburb where Ly grew up and also the same setting for much of Victor Hugo’s classic 1862 novel. It takes a provocative look into the tensions between neighborhood residents and police. Overall, Ly’s oeuvre has concentrated on stories that depict the realities of social and political life.

Les Misérables has become more timely over the past year given the ongoing strikes and protests in France amid the “yellow vest” movement. Ly recently said there is a clear connection. “We’ve been yellow vests in the banlieu, the suburbs, for 20 years,” he said. “We’ve been fighting the same struggle for all this time.”

MONOS (Colombia); Director: Alejandro Landes; U.S. Distributor: Neon

Neon

Alejandro Landes has had a busy year. His survivalist saga Monos debuted at Sundance in January where it won a Special Jury Award and was acquired by Neon after its world premiere there. Landes was then signed by UTA and the film went on to play Berlin as well as a host of other festivals, scooping prizes along they way including in London and San Sebastian among others. In late August, Monos was selected as Colombia’s entry for the International Feature Oscar race.

Monos follows group of young soldiers and guerrillas training on a remote mountain in Latin America with an American hostage played by Julianne Nicholson. The teenage commandos, who have nicknames like Rambo, Smurg, Bigfoot, Wolf and Boom-Boom, perform military training exercises while watching over a prisoner and a conscripted dairy cow for a shadow force know only as The Organization. After an ambush drives the squadron into the jungle, the mission begins to collapse.

He tells me, “My first fiction film (Porfirio) premiered in Directors’ Fortnight. It was about a man in a wheelchair who hijacks a plane hiding grenades in his diaper. It was a big casting process to play the hijacker, and I ended up casting the real guy himself who was at end of his long house arrest. I went to the Ministry of Justice to ask for permission and the place was packed with kids in jeans and sneakers running around the halls. It felt like a high school. These were kids who had left illegal armies in Colombia and were there in a reinsertion program and had a theater workshop that I attended… The kids were fascinating — a few had fought with the guerrillas and also the paramilitary, and it stayed with me.”

Landes also muses that he had never seen a war film “that really spoke to me… There is a romantic notion of WWI and WWII where the battle lines and ideology were clear: good and bad. But the character of modern warfare today like in Colombia is fought from the shadows, backlines, shifting lines. You look at Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, these are messy wars with no clean-cut ideological lines like the cinema about WWII.”

So, the idea was “to create a war film, but in an ideological vacuum, not from left or right… an allegorical situation from the lens of the Colombian conflict in a way that spoke about the nature of war today.” For more on Monos, click here.

NE ZHA (China); Director: Jiao Zi; U.S. Distributor: Well Go USA

Enlight

Chinese blockbuster Ne Zha was a phenomenon at the summer box office this year, grossing a staggering $701M and being praised as a new achievement in Middle Kingdom storytelling.

The film hails from Chinese mythology with “this rather rebellious image of a juvenile ‘bad boy’ hero, says director Jiao. The boy, Nezha, is birthed from a heavenly pearl by the Primeval Lord of Heaven. Born with unique powers, he finds himself as an outcast who is hated and feared. Destined by prophecy to bring destruction to the world, the young boy must choose between good and evil in order to break the shackles of fate and become the hero.

Jiao recalls seeing Shanghai Animation Studio’s 1979 pic Prince Nezha’s Triumph Against Dragon King when he was a little boy… “I fell deeply in love with this character. He was courageous, he wasn’t afraid to challenge the mighty Dragon King in order to protect innocent civilians. In the end, he sacrificed his own life for the people. He was a perfect fit for the movie’s non-conventional theme on the twist of fate. That was the main reason we chose him to be the protagonist.”

Jiao demurs that he doesn’t feel “like I’ve reached new heights, I can only say Ne Zha set a new box office record for animated features in China.” He points to such movies as Havoc In Heaven (1965), Legend Of Sealed Book (1983), and the aforementioned Prince Nezha’s Triumph which “retained the substance of traditional Chinese culture and are highly regarded by their esteemed artistic value. I would say they influenced me the most as an animator.” He is also a fan of Hollywood movies and says, “I have learned many valuable lessons from Hollywood animations.”

Despite local films’ success, Hollywood animation has struggled in the world’s second largest market. Says Jiao, “Movie audiences from every region worldwide have their own distinctive taste and aesthetics. Because Hollywood movies enjoy the dividends of the global market, they will make compromises and adjustments to cater to wider international audiences. Conversely Chinese animations have limited acceptance from markets outside of China. When we make animated features, we never consider catering to audiences from other regions, we have the creative freedom to explore our own interests without limitation.”

Jiao was unable to get a visa to travel to the U.S. so has not been able to do local promotion, but says he sees cultural exchange as a pathway to better understanding between the two nations. “I’ll use horror film as an analogy,” he offers. “The most effective trick in a horror film is to hide the ghost in darkness, while we know nothing about this ghost. But once we steer the ghost into the light, that fear of the unknown dissipates. So communication is the best way to eliminate fear and suspicion. Once we see a clear picture, we then realize we were actually scaring ourselves, the perception of cultural misunderstanding is really much ado about nothing.”

OUR MOTHERS (Belgium); Director: Cesar Diaz

Pyramide

César Diaz won the Camera d’Or in Cannes this year with his first feature, the Guatemala-set Our MothersThe Spanish-language film has since become Belgium’s entry for the International Feature Film Oscar and tells a very personal, if not autobiographical, story for the director.

The social drama takes place as Guatemala is immersed in the trial of the soldiers who sparked the civil war. Ernesto is a young anthropologist working for the Forensic Foundation whose job is to recover bones of people killed during the 1980s genocide and identify the missing. While hearing the account of an old woman, he thinks he has found a lead that might guide him to his father, a guerrilla who disappeared during the war. Against his mother’s wishes, Ernesto flings himself body and soul into the case, looking for truth and resilience.

Diaz himself has a missing father and a mother who was a guerrilla fighter. “That past helped me to understand the characters and build (the story) and bring it to fiction,” he says. The original idea was to focus on “the mother” and in coupling this with forensics, Diaz says, “Science helps you to learn and close chapters.”

The fact that Belgium has selected a Spanish-language title as its entry this year is “almost a political statement” for Diaz. It’s a recognition that “our society is changing and immigration is changing the face of this country. This is a way to tell the world we accept diversity and the different faces of a moving society.”

For more from previous coverage of Our Mothers, click here.

OUT STEALING HORSES (Norway); Director: Hans Petter Moland; U.S. Distributor (Magnolia)

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Adapted from the award-winning bestseller by Per Pettersen, Out Stealing Horses stars director Hans Petter Moland’s pal Stellan Skarsgard as a grieving widower who moves to the countryside where a chance encounter rekindles the past.

Moland, who recently made the English-Language Cold Pursuit with Liam Neeson, originally passed on transferring the bestseller to the screen back in 2004, but the project came around years later and was “a perfect fit.” What clicked the second time? “One of the things I take from the experience is that timing has a lot to do with where you are in your life.” He compares the reading experience to Arundhati Roy’s The God Of Small Things. “It is so immersive I could never tell you the storyline of that book, but it was a universe and characters I loved being with.” Moland also sparked to the story because he grew up on “a really really remote farm and spent a lot of time in that kind of milieu, alone in the forest. That really spoke to me.”

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In Out Stealing Horses, Skarsgard plays 67-year-old Trond who lives in new-found solitude and looks forward to spending New Year’s Eve 2000 alone. As winter arrives, he discovers he has a neighbor, a man Trond knew back in 1948, the summer he turned 15 and the summer Trond’s father prepared him to carry the burden of his forthcoming betrayal and disappearance. And also the summer Trond grew up and smelled the scent of a woman he longed for. The same woman Trond’s father was preparing to spend his life with.

Part of the story that might be unfamiliar to overseas audiences is how Trond helps ferry people across the border. Explains Moland, “Right after the war, Norway was really impoverished and had been occupied by Nazis. The border regions were neutral so didn’t have the devastation of war. People escaped into Sweden to avoid the Gestapo.”

Moland himself has a strange relationship with Norway which “has changed so much since I started making films. I came back from studying in the States and came back to a deeply politicized Norway where the film business was dominated by Marxist Leninists. I had basically learned by working with the enemy,” he laughs. “In many ways, the U.S. is my second home and having the opportunity to make something that is so typically Norwegian and experience the reaction from an American audience has been quite satisfying in many ways.”

PAIN AND GLORY (Spain); Director: Pedro Almodovar; U.S. Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Sony Pictures Classics

Pedro Almodovar’s most autobiographical film to date marks the 7th time he is repping Spain at the Oscars, having won the International (then Foreign Language Film) category with 1999’s All About My Mother. He also took an Original Screenplay statue for Talk To Her in 2003, for which he was likewise in the Best Director race, even though the movie was not Spain’s FL submission.

Pain And Glory is also expected to expand beyond the International Oscar race this year, with lead Antonio Banderas having already scooped prizes in Cannes and elsewhere. In short, he plays a director reflecting on his past.

Almodovar recently told Deadline about the process of getting to this very personal movie. “It’s always very mysterious when you start writing, because usually the first pages are not the movie that results. They will become a script, and after that a movie… This specific script was started just as you see in the movie, writing about those moments when I was in my swimming pool, under the water, and they were the only moments where I didn’t have any kind of muscular tension. The only moments I was in peace. The only problem is that you can’t breathe underwater. It was relieving for me, because I was going through surgery on my back and I was in a lot of pain. So, I started there, writing about the situation of feeling like a ghost inside the water, alone with yourself, your mind and your memory.”

Of his storied career, Almodovar said,“I think I’ve matured very well as a filmmaker. I didn’t really know how to make movies in the beginning, and I’ve been learning, one after another, until I made my 21 films. I’ve matured, perhaps, personally in the sense that I’ve come to accept whatever physical limitations that I have to live within. Inside my head, inside my being, I’m still that 24-year-old. In that sense, I have not quite matured.”

He also said that he expected Pain And Glory “would be much harder and tougher because of the nature, or the implied nature, or the intimate nature of the story. But it was the opposite. It was absolutely faster, quicker and easier At the same time, it could be as deep as I wanted it…Truffaut used to say that shooting a film was like having yourself and your whole team on a train, on a fast track and with no brakes. And that it was the director’s job to make sure the train didn’t derail. But sometimes it happens in a peaceful and blessed way, as this one did.”

PAPICHA (Algeria); Director: Mounia Meddour
Mounia Meddour’s debut feature Papicha was the first film submitted to this year’s International Feature Film Oscar race, announcing itself way back in July. But the Algerian entry then had a rocky road to staying in the mix when the film’s local September release was cancelled by the government. The reasons were never made clear.

The 1990s-set story, which debuted in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard, focuses on a university student who refuses to let the tragic events of the Algerian Civil War keep her from experiencing a normal life. As the social climate becomes more conservative, she rejects the new bans set by the radicals and decides to fight for her freedom and independence by putting on a fashion show.

Meddour drew from her own life in a college with four young women who each dreamed of a new life. She says, “I really lived in this microcosm of the Algerian community” which also had “the rise of integration. All of this came from a desire to bear witness from the black period. The only images people had of Algeria were the number of victims, the war. I wanted to talk about in the middle of the chaos. There were women who were always there, to support the society and keep energy of the country.”

Meddour cites the arrival of the film at a moment of political transition but with no official reason for its censure. The film, “opens a window on the society that we didn’t know that much. Few people knew what was going on at that time (and the) combat of the women to get out of this situation.”

In a year where the International Feature Film category has had to rule ineligibile two films for language issues, it’s enlightening to know that the Academy gives special dispensation in times of crisis. Says Meddour, “When the film couldn’t come out in Algeria, we contacted the Oscar committee and asked for special dispensation. We had all the elements to prove the film was going to release and the cancellation was the day before. We live in Paris and had our plane tickets then heard it was not necessary to come (to Algeria)… the Oscar committee showed is good faith and was sensitive to the sincerity of our request and for the freedom of expression. That’s proof they support art and freedom of expression.”

Here‘s a deeper dive on Papicha.

PARASITE (Korea); Director: Bong Joon-ho; U.S. Distributor: Neon

Neon

Arguably the darling of this awards season, with a film that seems guaranteed Oscar nominations in more than one category, Bong Joon-ho and his Parasite have captivated audiences since winning the Palme d’Or in Cannes earlier this year. That was the first time a Korean film scooped the top prize there and unbelievably, no Korean film has ever received an Oscar nomination, despite having one of the richest local industries in the world. This is poised to change.

Parasite has been on an awards season tear (recently picking up three Golden Globe nominations including Best Director, and a SAG nom for the ensemble cast). Bong himself has charmed audiences along the campaign trail, most recently appearing on his first U.S. talk show, paradoxically telling Jimmy Fallon he preferred “say as little as possible.”

The black comedy thriller is about the members of a poor family who together scheme to work in a wealthy household by posing as unrelated, highly qualified help.

Michael Buckner/Deadline

The director told me he doesn’t believe the core reason Parasite has resonated is because the film deals with the rich and the poor. “There are a lot of films and TV shows about the same topic, what Parasite brings is a very cinematic experience (that has) restored faith in cinema.”

The director also recently told Deadline how the inspiration for the film came from an early job he held tutoring the son of a wealthy family. Even though he was fired after two months, the seeds of a hit movie were born. It also began with “this idea of infiltration, we all get a sense of guilty pleasure from sort of spying on the private lives of other people.” He has described the movie as a “tragicomedy”: a comedy without clowns, and a tragedy without villains. However, he also fessed up at Deadline’s Contenders LA event that he had been pressured by the marketing department to come up with a couple of descriptive lines and laughed, “It’s a little bit cheesy, right?” Still ,there are no villains and yet it’s “also very difficult to define who is the hero in this story,” he said.

Bong has called the success and the fact that the film has touched a wide audience in the U.S. (it has grossed over $120M globally) “very new and surprising.” With regard to the Korean industry as a whole, Bong says it’s true it’s very dynamic, but, “internally, there are a lot of things to resolve.” Still, there are about 50 domestic films a year, a big number for a small country. “We have a very high population density and lots of multiplexes so people love to go to the theater.”

THE PERFECT CANDIDATE (Saudi Arabia); Director: Haifaa Al-Mansour

The Match Factory

Haifaa Al-Mansour is back on the Oscar trail, after she made history with 2012’s Wadjda, the first film submitted by Saudi Arabia, which was also the first made by a Saudi Arabian woman in the Kingdom. She has gone on to create a varied body of work that includes 2017’s English-language feature Mary Shelley and several U.S. TV credits.

Her second Saudi film, The Perfect Candidate, premiered at the Venice ilm Festival this year and is a comedic drama that tells the story of a young female doctor who controversially runs for municipal office while her father is off touring the country with the re-established Saudi National Band, which had been banned under law prohibiting public music performances.

Al-Mansour’s inspiration for the film was to tell a story “about a strong woman who takes center stage but who also needs support from other women. It’s a film about sisterhood. When it comes to leadership positions, women face similar barriers the world over. Of course this is more pronounced in the Middle East, but it’s also noticeable in the West. I felt like this was a timely story about how women can move forward.”

Mark Mann

And after recent work elsewhere, Al-Mansour felt a need to return to Saudi. “I want that balance. There aren’t many female filmmakers coming out of the Middle East and I want to tell stories about people on the margins,” she told Deadline earlier this year.

I recently caught up with her from the set of Amazon’s The Wilds where she was also dealing with her daughter’s request to have her ears pierced during an upcoming break in Hawaii. Al-Mansour became an American citizen and her kids are American. Right now the U.S. industry, is experiencing “such an exciting time for diverse women” with better scripts and more opportunities. “It’s important for me too to be part of change. I love Saudi, it’s where I come from and part of who I am. Everyone wants to tell a story about where you’re from. I always want to be a promoter of art, especially in a place like Saudi Arabia where art was vilified for so long. I want to be part of bringing art back and of encouraging young filmmakers tot make their films.”

As for sentiment at home regarding her achievements, Al-Mansour says, “There is not the same resistance as before. People are proud to see the international stage. There is a sense of pride and excitement to see that all over the world.”

She adds, “My dream was to be a working filmmaker. As an independent you can wait 10 years to make another film. I wanted to make a body of work.” And so she has.

THOSE WHO REMAINED (Hungary); Director: Barnabas Toth; U.S. Distributor: Menemsha Films

Those Who RemainedMenemsha Films

Barnabas Toth’s post-Holocaust drama debuted to strong reviews at the Telluride Film Festival this year which the director says was “a huge, huge surprise.” Since then, he’s been to festivals in Chicago, Philadelphia and more. “It’s crazy, but I love it,” he enthuses, “who would have thought a year ago…”

Toth started out working as an improv actor in a small theater, then became a director later on. He discovered the 2004 novel upon which Those Who Remained is based, by Zsuzsa F Várkonyi, during his theater days and was immediately struck by its “lightheartedness in a harsh time for Hungarian history.”

A story of the healing power of love in the midst of conflict and trauma, it centers on Aldo, a 42-year-old doctor in post-war Budapest, and Klara, a 16-year old who lives reluctantly with her great-aunt, holding on to hope that her father and mother will return. She meets Aldo, and soon the two of them find something in each other that has long been absent in their lives. As they grow closer and closer, joy slowly returns. But as the Soviet Empire rises to power in Hungary, their pure and loving father-daughter relationship is misunderstood and frowned upon.
 
Toth says he was drawn to how the characters find each other, becoming like stepfather and stepdaughter. But he was “a bit stuck” after the first draft and called on a more experienced scriptwriter, Klara Muhi, which helped develop how society viewed the lead pair.

Those Who Remained, Toth says, is “easily digested” and he’s seen that the message has resonated with audiences in different areas. “It has an effect and makes them feel better.” But he makes no bones about his roots. “I grew up on Hollywood. I’m not pretending to be a natural born art house filmmaker.” He wouldn’t categorize Those Who Remained as a pure Holocaust movie. “I always have to approach the theme through the characters and personalities. I can never start with ‘I’m going to make about the Holocaust.’ I start with a 16-year-old or it can be a car accident.” But, he allows, “I am aware I wouldn’t be siting in this airport talking to you if it was just a car accident.”

At screenings, Toth says he learns something “every time.” In Chicago, an older Polish man approached him to say that his mother was a survivor and has the same name as the sister in the movie. “He said he liked the movie, but ‘no one we ever met was like this. Real survivors never spoke about it.’ It was very different, too emotional for him which was interesting because normally people say only good things. But I completely respected him and I kind of agreed. And I didn’t want to make a movie about two people being cynical.”

The director has some experience with the Oscars, having been shortlisted for his 2018 short film, comedy Susotazs. This year, he says he feels “lucky” after having been making films for 20 years. “I had the time to grow up,” before seeing international success, which he says he’ll “be able to assess and digest in one or two years. I don’t stress myself, things come as they have to.”

Next up, Toth is juggling ideas for another film. Will it be about medieval women falsely accused of being witches in a mix of violence and humor, or will it be a dark comedy about a Neo-Nazi and a dancer who wake up in each others bodies? He’s not sure, but says, it will be comedy “and very different.”

THE TRAITOR (Italy); Director: Marco Bellocchio; U.S. Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Sony Pictures Classics

Italian maestro Marco Bellocchio is representing Italy for the third time at the Oscars. Sony Pictures Classics picked up mafia informant drama The Traitor after its Cannes competition screening in May and will release domestically in late January.

The Traitor is based on the true story of Tommaso Buscetta, the man who brought down the Cosa Nostra. In the early 80s, an all-out war rages between Sicilian mafia bosses over the heroin trade. Buscetta, a made man, flees to hide out in Brazil. Back home, scores are being settled and Buscetta watches from afar as his sons and brother are killed in Palermo, knowing he may be next. Arrested and extradited to Italy by the Brazilian police, Buscetta makes a decision that will change everything for the Mafia: he decides to meet with Judge Giovanni Falcone and betray the eternal vow he made to the Cosa Nostra.

Bellocchio says he found the story by accident. “Someone proposed me this character so I started to discover the guy. But at a certain point, the film was completely different to me… At the same time, and surely I don’t have to judge my film, but there is something very personal that I said to myself about my culture, my life.” That includes the use of music, says Bellocchio who sang when he was young, as well as the fact that Buscetta was the last of 17 children while the director is the last of nine. Their respective relationships to their mothers “regard us together.”

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How does Bellocchio see Buschetta and his contradictions? “The Cosa Nostra can seem superficial, but universal. In Italy we talk about a character who is a criminal and killed people in his life. Often if we talk about Buschetta, we are scared to have sympathy for the character. He is not a hero. He is someone not afraid. He has a lot of courage, but is very conservative. He’s not a revolutionary. He wasn’t going to change society, he was going to conserve it.”

Bellocchio says of the Oscars, “I love being the candidate” for Italy and “try to aid the film in a system I know very little about. I have good collaborators.” Prizes “don’t change a life, but if we win it lets us work and have more freedom.”

WEATHERING WITH YOU (Japan); Director: Makoto Shinkai; U.S. Distributor: Gkids

Gkids

Makoto Shinkai’s hit anime is the first Japanese toon to be submitted for the International Feature Oscar race since Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke in 1997. It’s made over $176M worldwide and is the follow-up to Shinkai’s blockbuster $358M grosser Your Name.

Weathering With You is about a runaway boy who befriends a girl who can manipulate the weather. Shinkai explains, “The fact that we were experiencing more and more water-related disasters connected to my idea of making a film about the weather. The weather is a huge phenomenon that is so much larger than humankind itself. Yet it’s true that the doings of each human being have an effect on the climate, and that our feelings are affected every day by the weather. I felt that it was it was necessary to make a film with this motif right now.”

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But Shinkai tried to steer clear of being preachy about climate change. “I wanted to avoid making a politicized film that lectures the audience. I wanted viewers to enjoy it as entertainment; a story about a boy meeting a girl. At the same time, I tried to provide various perspectives regarding the climate.” In fact, the climate change motif was perceived more in certain countries than others, Shinkai says. In the U.S. for example, the audience and media roundly mentioned climate change, but in other countries, like Japan, “they didn’t bring up the topic at all.”

Shinkai was surprised by the success of Your Name, saying he had always thought his films “would be able to comfort a small number of audiences, but wouldn’t be able to have an impact on a large number. I know now from experience that movies have a lot of power. Though I realized this late, I feel that making a film comes with societal responsibility. I wish to continue telling stories, in a method that is different from politicians and teachers, that would offer positivity and diversity to the world.”

During the awards season campaign for Weathering With You, Shinkai says he was also surprised by how impressions of th film differed significantly by country and generation. “Overall, the younger generation enjoyed the movie as a straight love story. But the older generation brought up concerns about how the protagonist took actions that weren’t for the greater good of society.”

THE WHISTLERS (Romania); Director: Corneliu Porumboiu; U.S. Distributor: Magnolia

Magnolia

Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu saw a report about the Spanish island of La Gomera and its silbo whistling language on TV about 10 years ago, and from there, a fascination grew. Although busy with other films, it was “a subject I was thinking about all the time” and finally returned to it for this year’s The Whistlers.

The noir thriller follows Cristi, an inspector in Bucharest who plays both sides of the law. Embarking with the beautiful Gilda on a high-stakes heist, both will have to navigate the twists and turns of corruption, treachery and deception. A trip to the Canary Islands to learn a secret whistling language might just be what they need to pull it off.

Porumboiu used the language as a jumping off point. “There are a few places in the world where people communicate like that but because we don’t know the origins, to use something so primitive in our world today which is full of technology, seemed like a good start.”

Violeta Sofia

The Whistlers revisits a character from Porumboiu’s lauded 2009 pic Police, Adjective. “Cristi had stayed like something unfinished in that film and had a certain ideology that can’t last.” So now we find him 10 years later in a different world where he “doesn’t believe in language anymore.”

Will he do that again in the future? “All my films are related to language and come with my point of view. On my first one, the characters were quite naive. There is an evolution in the way that I’m seeing language.”

Porumboiu sees The Whistlers as his most accessible movie. “It has a certain type of appeal maybe in a different way because of the genre.” Being the Oscar rep, particularly for a country of such strong filmmakers but one that has never advanced to a nomination and only been shortlisted once, is important to Porumboiu, “It helps distribution and the film’s visibility. Also for my career.” But, at the same time, “I’m a filmmaker and at the end of the day have my own path.”

A WHITE WHITE DAY (Iceland); Director: Hlynur Palmason; U.S. Distributor: Film Movement
Hlynur Palmason’s Oscar submission fis set in a remote Icelandic town, and follows an off-duty police chief who begins to suspect a local man of having had an affair with his late wife, who died in a tragic accident two years earlier. This is the director’s second feature and screened in Critics’ Week at Cannes where it nabbed a Rising Star Award for lead Ingvar Sigurdsson.

Palmason says the he sparked to the idea while shooting during snowstorms on a photo series called A White Day. During the long process “a narrative began to slowly emerge, so I just added an extra ‘White’ in front of the title. Slowly I fell in love with the title and the repetition. I think repetitions are very difficult to work with, but I love when they work. I was also interested in the relationship between a grandfather and a grandchild which was a very important part of my life and something I wanted to portray. I’m at an age where I’m loosing my grandparents and I think I’m dealing with that in my own way.”

The title refers to a quote from writer Jón Kalmann Stefánsson which is well known in Iceland. Palmason explains that while developing the film, he stumbled upon the citation. Stefansson “quotes an unknown person saying that ‘When everything is white and there is no difference from the earth or the skies, then we can talk with the dead or the people that left us.’ This text really fit with the project and added an extra depth to the mysterious white day I was portraying.” 

There are two kinds of love represented in the movie which Palmason says are “a simple and pure love you have for your child or grandchild, that is unconditional. And then another kind of love that is towards your lover that is something completely different. It’s complex, full of desire and it’s physical or even animal and there is a very thin line between love and hate. I think it’s very interesting that you can love someone and hate the same person intensely.”

Talking about his own passions, Palmason says “I think I’m very much an addict when it comes to things coming together. It’s like my fix when the sound begins working with the image or the script with the acting and movement. My films are very personal and I work with my collaborators really hard to get it right. But it never feels like a perfect product, I think I’ve never been interested in making something perfect, but rather to to create and experience what is truthful and human without being some kind of preconceived statement or a product of some kind.” 

Palmason has been busy on his next project, Godland, a period film about an ambitious Danish priest sailing towards Iceland to build a church and photograph the process, the people and the landscape. This means he hasn’t been able to do too much promotion. But he has enjoyed doing Q&As. “I hope we made a film that is inviting and open for interpretation like I think all good art is. I want there to be space within the film for each individual to have their own thoughts and feelings… It’s been a joy to see how well the film has done in the world and I’m very thankful
or that. We create films for the cinema and I’m very happy that it’s in cinemas around the world.”

SPECIAL MENTION
Corpus Christi (Poland); dir: Jan Komasa
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Incitement (Israel); dir: Yaron Zilberman
The Painted Bird (Czech Republic); dir: Vaclav Marhoul

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Dee Snider Says New AC/DC Album To Feature Tracks By Late Malcolm Young

Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider says a new AC/DC album is on its way and will feature material recorded by late guitarist Malcolm Young.

Snider added that the album would feature “all four surviving members,” which means Angus Young, Brian Johnson, Cliff Williams and Phil Rudd.

He cited a recent meeting with Johnson as evidence that the singer’s health was “good” after the risk of total deafness forced him to leave AC/DC’s Rock or Bust tour midway in 2016.

“RIP Malcolm Young,” Snider tweeted in response to a fan’s query about AC/DC. “But all four surviving members have reunited with tracks recorded by Malcolm while he was still alive. Malcolm’s nephew Stevie Young is replacing him (he’s done this a couple of times before). It’s as close as you can get to the original band.”

“I’m focused on one band for the 2021 Superbowl half time show: AC/DC! Reuniting with new album next year, touring, celebrating 50 years together!” Snider added.

Earlier this year, AC/DC engineer Mike Fraser had also said that the band have been in the studio “doing something.”

(Photo: Alfred Nitsch)

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Bong Joon-ho is super vague about Parasite: it’s just a funny and scary movie


Director Bong Joon-ho was on The Tonight Show with an interpreter, which was cool. I want to see more foreign directors, actors and experts just bringing their interpreters with them. (I’ve explained this before when covering Marie Kondo. I lived overseas for years and am not a natural when it comes to learning and speaking other languages, it’s tough and especially challenged my professional identity.) I’ve seen his work on Snowpiercer and The Host (Tubi, Pluto TV), which was this crazy mix of horror and comedy. I thought that The Host went on a little too long, but found it highly entertaining. Snowpiercer (Netflix) was was an incredible dystopian sci fi film starring Chris Evans and I definitely recommend it. I haven’t seen Okja yet (Netflix) and have been meaning to check it out. Joon-ho is getting the most headlines for this interview for the fact that he wouldn’t really explain what Parasite is about. Parasite is getting so much awards buzz, it won grand prize and best director at Cannes and it’s only the second foreign language film ever to be nominated for best ensemble at the SAGs. (Life is Beautiful is the other.) To Fallon, Joon-ho just said it was funny and scary, basically. You can see the video below and here’s a brief transcript.

How do you describe Parasite?
I like to say as little as possible here because the film is best when you go into it cold. It’s a story about family. The son goes into a rich house as a tutor and it just unfolds from there. It’s just a funny and scary movie.

On why he just said “thank you let’s all go home” after the eight minute standing ovation at Cannes
The screening was very late at night. It was almost midnight. The actors and I were very hungry because we couldn’t eat dinner. We were all saying to each other “we’re so hungry” and they subtitled it in the video later. But the applause never stopped, so finally I said “let’s go home.”

[From The Tonight Show]

That was so funny! I’m like this about my job. When people ask me what I do I just say I’m an entertainment writer and am vague about it because I don’t want to get into it. Plus people say judgy sh-t when you tell them you gossip for a living. Of course this is completely different, but it’s everyone’s prerogative how to explain their work, especially when it’s a specific piece that isn’t easily explained. From other Korean movies I’ve seen, they can be a crazy mix of genres! The Host made me laugh out loud at times and scream at others. I wish that trend would catch on in more mainstream American movies too, where you have comedy/horror films. There was this absolutely bonkers French film on Netflix called The Mansion/Le Manoir, but that was just absurd horror. Ditto for one of my favorites, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. The Host would switch during specific scenes which would make you question what kind of film you were watching. I bet Parasite is like that too and I’m so looking forward to seeing it!

Here’s the trailer it looks so awesome I can’t wait:

Embed from Getty Images

photos credit: Avalon.red

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Ashley James: Made In Chelsea star leaves little to the imagination in see-through corset

Ashley James, 32, left little to the imagination when she stepped out in London this week.

The reality TV star, who is best known for starring in E4’s Made In Chelsea, turned heads at the launch of Megan McKenna’s new fashion line.

She posed for pictures in a racy lingerie-inspired look for the Boux Avenue event.

The former Celebrity Big Brother contestant showed off her phenomenal figure in an underwear as outerwear ensemble as she smiled for photographers.

She teamed a boned basque, from the new collection, with a stylish black suit embellished with a sparkly silver trim along the edges.

The plunging corset top, which was made from a lacy see-through material with a pretty floral pattern, revealed a little more than intended.

Wearing her blonde tresses in a sexy tousled look, the television and radio star enhanced her natural beauty with make-up in peach hues and completed her outfit with pointy shoes and a sparkly purse.

At the event, DJ Ashley hit the decks to get the party started.

She also posed for a picture with fellow reality TV star Megan, 27, who was recently crowned the winner of The X Factor: Celebrity.

The former TOWIE star and singer was dressed head-to-toe in leather for the launch of her lingerie collaboration.

She wore a leather shirt and matching cropped trousers for the occasion and completed her look with a black headband and heels.

READ MORE

  • Ashley James pictures: Model sizzles in bondage-style leather lingerie

Last night the X Factor champion took to her Instagram account to shares some behind-the-scenes footage from her recent photoshoot with the brand.

She captioned the post, which was shared with her 2.4 million followers: “Inbetween takes we dance.”

The video showed her dancing on a table in a very sexy set of lingerie complete with stockings and high heels.

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Ryan Thomas shares proof he’s not Adam’s twin but is the oldest of the brothers

Ryan Thomas has shared solid proof that he is not Adam Thomas ' twin – despite looking more like his I'm A Celeb Extra camp host brother than his actual twin Scott does.

The Coronation Street actor, 35, finally put the speculation to bed as he shared a snap of himself and younger brother Adam, 31, from when they were children.

Showing a clear age-gap, Ryan insisted the throwback snap was "justification" that he is older than Adam and proved the Extra Camp co-host is his younger brother.

A young-looking Ryan looked adorable in the snap as he crouched down to smile beside his younger brother, toddler Adam, who looked cute as he sucked his thumb for comfort.


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Ryan posted the sweet snap to squash twin rumours and celebrate Adam's success with his recent presenting venture, welcoming him home after a month in Australia.

He shared the snap alongside the "justification" caption, writing: "Everyone always says we are twins and I have to explain no I’m not his twin but he has a twin @scott.thomas.

"People then become more confused but this picture is justification that he’s my little brother."

He finished the confusion about his siblings by announcing how proud he is of Adam and said he is "back where he belongs with family and loved ones."


  • I'm A Celeb's Adam Thomas 'forgets he's on TV' with X-rated comment to Emily Atack

Ryan ended the post, writing: "Gutted I can’t be there. I can’t wait to see ya R kid, love you."

Emmerdale star Adam was finally reunited with his son Teddy, five, and daughter Elsie-Rose, one, after spending time Down Under filming for I'm A Celebrity spin-off show Extra Camp.

He hosted Extra Camp alongside Emily Atack and Joel Dommett throughout I'm A Celebrity but appeared excited to be reunited with his wife Caroline Daly and his adorable little ones.

Adam's twin is Scott Thomas – a Love Island contestant from 2016 who completed the show as a runner-up alongside then-girlfriend Kady McDermott .


  • Ryan Thomas teams up with brothers Adam and Scott for amazing birthday surprise

The three brothers all look very similar and all have a connection to showbiz, leading many to get confused about which of them are twins.

Fans instantly rushed to the comment section of the Instagram post to comment on their confusing family connections.

One user wrote: "Absolutely killed me off when he said on I’m a celeb everyone calls him Jason grimshaw from Corrie. just shows how alike you are!"

While another agreed they thought the brothers were twins, writing: "Yep I'm one of those who thought youse were twins then MIND = BLOWN when realised he actually had a twin the sweetest 3 brothers ever."

A third replied: "People get confused because Adam & Ryan look more alike, Scott is kinda nothing like them."

Another social media account said it was "puzzling" as "you and Adam look more like twins than him and Scott do."

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Hayley Kiyoko Debuts New Song ‘Runaway’ – Watch the Lyric Video!

Hayley Kiyoko has released her fresh track “Runaway!”

The “L.O.V.E. Me” crooner dropped the song on Friday (December 13).

PHOTOS: Check out the latest pics of Hayley Kiyoko

“Runaway” is the fourth song she’s released from her I’m Too Sensitive for This S–t project.

“It’s so relevant to what I’m going through at this very moment,” Hayley Kiyoko previously told Rolling Stone. “I’m just trying this new thing where if I write it; I’m just going to release it. I might as well share what I’m going through instead of disappearing and coming back.”

Watch the “Runaway” lyric video now!

READ MORE: Taylor Swift Says Lorde & Hayley Kiyoko Were Critics Before They Became Friends


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Lyrics for Elton John's hit Your Song fetch £180,000 at auction

Lyrics for Elton John’s hit Your Song fetch £180,000 at auction … after the handwritten first draft was put up for sale by his former seamstress

When it was released in 1970, Sir Elton John’s ballad Your Song became an instant hit and has since been covered by Ellie Goulding and Lady Gaga.

And now the first handwritten draft of the much-loved lyrics by Sir Elton’s long-term collaborator Bernie Taupin, 69, have been sold at auction for £180,000.

Sir Elton, 72, later recalled it took him just a few minutes to come up with the music for the song which reached number seven in the UK singles chart. 

Hitmaker: The lyrics to Sir Elton John’s hit Your Song, which were written by his long-time collaborator Bernie Taupin, have been sold at auction in Los Angeles for £180,000

He explained: ‘Your Song went straight off in ten minutes. I go round to Bernie and say “listen, I’ve done it” and he can’t believe it.’

The original lyric sheets have been sold by Taupin’s former wife Maxine Feibelman, who was the inspiration for Sir Elton’s 1971 hit Tiny Dancer.

After keeping hold of them following their divorce, she decided to sell them following the huge success of this year’s Elton John biopic Rocketman.

Star: The singer, 72, pictured in 1971, has previously revealed it took him just a few minutes to come up with the music for the song

The auction also included lyrics for Sir Elton’s Bennie And The Jets, including a second stanza which did not make it into the final song, which fetched £67,000. 

While the lyrics for The Border Song, which was unusual because Sir Elton worked on the words as well as the melody, were sold for £24,000.

But the lyrics for Candle In The Wind, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting remained unsold in the auction at Bonhams in Los Angeles which raised £271,000 overall.

Pals: Elton and Bernie, pictured at a photocall for film Rocketman in May, have worked together for dozens of years and the lyric sheet for Your Song was sold by Bernie’s ex-wife

Maxine, who worked as Sir Elton’s seamstress, said: ‘When Bernie had completed an album’s worth of lyrics, we would pay Elton a visit. 

‘When I heard the finished songs, I was instantly transported to that magical place these two creative forces have been taking us all for so many years.’

On Wednesday the superstar was in the news after Australian paper The Geelong Advertiser confused him with another man and splashed with an ‘exclusive’ photo of the wrong man on Tuesday.

The front page featured an image of an unknown man, who bears a passing resemblance to Elton, outside the Lix Cafe in Point Lonsdale, Geelong. 

Mistaken identity: After making headlines earlier this week, Elton’s management confirmed he wasn’t the man licking an ice cream cone at Point Lonsdale, Australia, on Sunday

The photo, which had been submitted to the Advertiser by a reader, showed the Elton lookalike enjoying an ice cream on Sunday afternoon. 

It didn’t take fans long to realise the mistake after the front page was uploaded to the newspaper’s Twitter account.

And Elton’s management also confirmed it wasn’t him explaining that while the star is touring in Australia at the moment he isn’t the man in the snap.

‘He didn’t go to Point Lonsdale, and returned to Sydney immediately after the Geelong concert,’ they stated.  

Under the hammer: Despite the sale of Your Song’s lyrics, the sheets for Candle In The Wind and Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting did not sell (Bernie and Elton are pictured in 1973)

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