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Sundance Round-Up: Media & Press

We also have the first reviews of Anna’s three movies that debuted at Sundance.

Life After Beth: Sundance Review

If Cooties is Sundance 2014′s zombie comedy that hits every note of the well-established format and delights while doing so, Jeff Baena’s Life After Beth is the one that reminds us how odd the mashup was to begin with. The one that plucks from the genre playbook only what it wants, then tells its own story while letting the world, in the background, go to hell in the usual way. The one that finds a new metaphoric meaning for zombie tropes, making them about the devastation of grief, and manages to keep us laughing while making that metaphor stick. It’s a perfectly pitched debut that should benefit greatly from word of mouth and, especially given the top-flight comic talents surrounding lead Dane DeHaan, won’t appeal solely to fanboys at the box office. . . {hollywoodreporter.com}

The Voices: Sundance Review

Good and evil prefer to sit on the lap rather than the shoulders of the extremely conflicted protagonist of The Voices, the confident if rather wacky English-language debut of Paris-based Iranian director and comic-book artist Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis).

This thriller-horror-comedy hybrid is among the more eccentric films screening at Sundance this year and stars an excellent Ryan Reynolds as a damaged man-child in a small industrial town in the Midwest who accidentally kills his date for the night (Gemma Arterton) and then asks his pets what he should do — and of course, they talk back, literally. Oscar nominees Anna Kendrick and Jacki Weaver co-star in this wild and occasionally hilarious genre crossbreed that seems tailor-made for fantastic film festivals and midnight slots, though a small distributor with large cojones could try and capitalize on the film’s star power and zany premise and aim for a modest commercial release before making a killing on VOD. . . . {hollywoodreporter.com}

Happy Christmas: Sundance Review

Following up last year’s Drinking Buddies with another low-key ensemble comedy, writer-director Joe Swanberg addresses relationship issues of increasing complexity without sacrificing his frequently amusing perspective on single life.

After taking Happy Christmas off the market with a festival pre-buy, Magnolia Pictures can expect to see a fairly similar return on the new film by partnering with Swanberg again on a theatrical release (Paramount acquired home entertainment and international rights), with perhaps a bit of a bump from a gradually expanding fan base.

Chicago married couple Jeff (Swanberg) and Kelly (Melanie Lynskey) are juggling freelance careers while looking after their two-year-old son, Jude (Jude Swanberg). Jeff’s working on a film in preproduction, but Kelly’s novel writing has stalled out after her first book as she’s shifted to full-time homemaking. They’re still relatively content, however, and preparing for a holiday visit from Jeff’s sister Jenny (Anna Kendrick), a volatile young woman who’s recently split from her boyfriend. Jeff’s concerned that even at 27, Jenny’s not stable enough to look after herself and has invited her for an indefinite visit. In exchange, she’s agreed to assist with child care. hollywoodreporter.com

Ryan Reynolds hears ‘Voices’ at Sundance

One of the weirder, much-discussed comedies of the festival is The Voices, a grisly, dark comedy that features a terrific performance by Ryan Reynolds as a likable factory worker who hears advice from his pet dog and cat and morphs into a scary serial killer.

“The script is insane,” says co-star Anna Kendrick, adding that she had wanted to work with writer-director Marjane Satrapi since reading her graphic novel Persepolis, which was made into a film in 2007 and nominated for an animated-feature Oscar.

Indeed, Satrapi initially resisted any gruesome shots, then succumbed to showing Reynolds’ character slicing and dicing the body parts of his female co-workers and stowing them away neatly in plastic containers.

“I didn’t know I was this attracted to gore and blood,” says the Iranian-born Satrapi. “My mother told me ‘You are sick in the head.’ ”

Reynolds plays Jerry, a nebbishy guy who works in the packing department of a large company. But he’s descending into madness. First hint: He talks with his dog and cat — and they talk back. His cat Mr. Whiskers has a nasty temperament and a feisty Scottish burr, goading Reynolds’ character to do evil and kill. Bosco, the dog, is deep-voiced and decent. The pooch, a Mastiff mix, says things like “I earned the right to be called a good boy.”

Reynolds does the voice of the dog and cat, and also performs in an elaborate song-and-dance sequence for the closing credits, which features Kendrick, Gemma Arterton and a singing, dancing Jesus.

But, for all his accomplishments and ability to play a deranged killer, Reynolds had one strange phobia.

It had nothing to do with carnage, but involved working so closely with house pets.

Says Satrapi: “Ryan is scared of cats.” {usa today}

Kendrick: I liked being unlikeable

Anna Kendrick has revealed she enjoyed portraying a nasty girl in Happy Christmas.
The Pitch Perfect star reunites with Drinking Buddies filmmaker Joe Swanberg for the improvised drama, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
“Honestly, I would have done anything Joe asked me to do, but I was really excited about playing somebody who was a mess, who doesn’t have a filter and is kind of selfish,” she said.
“I mean, she’s kind of unlikeable. I hope that I brought enough honesty, that people will maybe understand where she’s coming from – or maybe you should just hate her.”
Anna – whose character Jenny unexpectedly decides to move in with her elder brother – is most thrilled about her scenes with Girls star Lena Dunham, who plays her best friend in Happy Christmas.
“I was just excited that there are scenes with Lena Dunham and Melanie Lynskey, where it’s just the three of us talking and a guy doesn’t come in the room at any point. We’re just chatting about sex and work,” she said.
“I know Lena’s doing that all the time but that was a really fun day to me. She knows who she is, which is so admirable. Her improv is so perfect because she’s never thinking of what her character would say. She just gets in the zone and she’s so honest and so smart, and her work is really beautiful.”
Director Joe admitted he was interested to see Anna play someone different to her previous characters.
“I thought Anna would be perfect for this character. This character is young and irresponsible, and she’s a little reckless. It’s not a role I’ve really seen Anna play before so it was fun to invite her back to do something like that,” he said. {uk.movies.yahoo.com}

Anna Kendrick Storms Sundance

Pneumonia prevented Ryan Reynolds, who plays a schizophrenic murderer in “The Voices,” from attending the cocktail party Sunday evening for the film at the Grey Goose Blue Door on Main Street in Park City, Utah. But that didn’t stop his costar Anna Kendrick, coming off three of her movies premiering on the same day at the Sundance Film Festival, and director Marjane Satrapi, new to the Sundance circuit, from showing up.
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Compared to Cannes, where Satrapi’s animated effort “Persepolis” was rewarded with the Jury Prize in 2007, she was finding Sundance more relaxed. “All the independent filmmakers are here, and I’m so happy to be here,” gushed Satrapi, proceeding to scan the room with a video recorder to document the festivities. “Persepolis” is based on Satrapi’s autobiographical graphic novel, and “The Voices,” written by Michael R. Perry, is the first movie of Satrapi’s in which she doesn’t take part in the writing. “I got sent the script, and I really loved it, so I really wanted to do it. From the second you want to do something badly, you should do it,” said Satrapi. “The script was funny. It was sad. It was intelligent. It had all the qualities I look for.”

Kendrick’s other two films at Sundance — “Happy Christmas,” a dramedy from mumblecore king Joe Swanberg, and “Life After Beth,” a zombie comedy — are in keeping with her eclectic choice in projects since she earned an Oscar nomination four years ago for her plucky turn in “Up in the Air.”

“[‘The Voices’] was very specific,” the actress said. “Marjane has a very, very specific idea about what each frame will look like, what the scene will feel like, what the music might be.”

“Christmas,” on the other hand, wasn’t even scripted.

“We had an outline, but no dialogue, no script, no idea what the finished film was going to be like,” Kendrick said. “[Both films] are equally exciting.”

Minutes after the party at the Blue Door for “The Voices” wound down at 9:30 p.m., Kendrick arrived at 501 on Main to join the cast and crew of “Happy Christmas” for The Next Generation Filmmaker Dinner Series. She quickly posed for photographs with Mark Webber and Swanberg, who does triple duty on the movie as its writer, director and Kendrick’s on-screen brother. Webber called the movie “an anti-Christmas film in a way, at least a traditional one.” He elaborated, “It’s this beautiful, really small, intimate look at a family and family life set around Christmas. It’s very real and natural.”

Also present to promote the movie was Melanie Lynskey, who plays Swanberg’s wife and Kendrick’s sister-in-law in “Happy Christmas.” Lynskey took a break from the business at hand to gamely dance upstairs with Alison Pill and Jason Ritter. Kendrick followed along and kept the dance party going. Amid the merriment, Swanberg emphasized “Happy Christmas,” which was picked up for distribution by Magnolia Pictures and Paramount Pictures earlier in the week, covers serious ground. “I hope that it sparks conversations between men and women about the relationship between work and child care, and I hope it gets people talking about fairness and expectations for women when they have children,” he said. {wwd.com}

Anna Kendrick’s finally a mess in ‘Happy Christmas’

Anna Kendrick stars as a problem drinker who moves in with her brother’s family after a breakup. Among the family members: a toddler played by director Joe Swanberg’s son, Jude.

PARK CITY, Utah — Family is messy. The upside, for director Joe Swanberg, is the ability to translate that messiness into a film that had a gigantic line waiting for it (in 20-degree weather, no less) at the Sundance Film Festival.

In Happy Christmas, which arrives at the festival just six months after Swanberg’s last effort, Drinking Buddies, Anna Kendrick plays Jenny, who has a drinking problem and moves in with her brother, Jeff (played by Swanberg), his wife, Kelly (Melanie Lynskey), and their toddler (Swanberg’s adorable son, Jude) after a recent breakup.

In real life, “Anna is very put together. She’s not a mess,” says Swanberg, who directed Kendrick in Drinking Buddies. “I feel like she’s been so consistently ‘good’ in films. What I was hoping to show with Happy Christmas is that she’s amazing doing any kind of character.”

Jenny’s best friend, Carson (Lena Dunham) has a smaller role, but Dunham’s voice (similar in tone and honesty to her character on HBO’s Girls but far less self-involved) helps to signify where Jenny is at. The woman is reeling, with little to latch onto at the age of 27 except bottles of booze and a cute thirtysomething male babysitter/pot dealer who crosses her path.

“The amazing thing about Lena is that she had that voice from the first day I met her,” says Swanberg, who has been friends with Dunham for years. “She’s the best example that I’ve ever known (of a person) finding mainstream success without changing a thing.”

He adds that it’s talent like Dunham and Mark Duplass who are leading the charge for filmmakers like himself. “They’re making it more accessible for my movies to get out there and play wider,” he says. “Because people are like, ‘Oh this isn’t without context. I watch Girls and I’ve seen The League and I’ve watched Jeff Who Lives at Home.’ ”

In Happy Christmas, Jenny’s arrival triggers a surprising revelation: Kelly, challenged over rounds of beer with Jenny and Carson on why she’s given up on writing, slowly reveals she’s lost a sense of self as a stay-at-home mom.

Like filmmakers Nicole Holofcener (Enough Said) and Paul Mazursky (Down and Out in Beverly Hills), “I’ve always wanted the characters to grow up with me,” says Swanberg. Happy Christmas steals from his own life: Nine months after Jude was born, his younger brother moved in with them for three trying months.

And Swanberg’s wife, filmmaker Kris Williams, spent a year and a half caring for their son so the couple could save money on child care. But not working secretly plagued her, inspiring Swanberg to share the story of a mother who “felt frustrated but who felt guilty for that frustration,” he says.

Although Jenny is “much more reckless than my brother actually was,” says Swanberg, there are strong similarities, including one calamitous night the younger sibling sets off a smoke alarm by passing out after shoving a frozen pizza in the oven.

Next up may be finding an agent for little Jude, who delighted the festival audience by consistently hamming it up in Happy Christmas. “I know!” Swanberg laughs. “I’ll have to protect him from the paparazzi.” {usatoday.com}

Anna @ Sundance Film Festival – Day 3

Anna attended the Women at Sundance Brunch on January 20th at Park City. She also posed again at the Variety Studio. Other guests were Elizabeth Moss, Selena Gomez, and Shailene Woodley. I’ve also added portraits of Anna posing with “The Voices” director Marjane Satrapi and actress Mary Steenburgen. I’ve also been added HQ’s and more portrait sessions to the previous Sundance updates, including Sundance Day I and Sundance Candids.

Appearances & Events > Appearances in 2014 > Jan 20: Women At Sundance Brunch

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Appearances & Events > Appearances in 2014 > Jan 20: Women At Sundance Brunch – Variety Studio

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Appearances & Events > Appearances in 2014 > Jan 20: Canon Celebrates Cinematography

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Photoshoots & Press > Portraits > Larry Busacca @ Sundance (Jan. 20, 2014)

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Photoshoots & Press > Portraits > Victoria Will – “The Voices” Portraits @ Sundance (Jan. 20, 2014)

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Photoshoots & Press > Portraits > Dan Steinberg – “The Voices” Portraits for The Hollywood Reporter @ Sundance (Jan. 20, 2014)

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“Happy Christmas” Premiere @ Sundance

Anna attended the Sundance premiere of her film “Happy Christmas” on January 19th at the Library Center Theater. She signed photos for fans and posed with director Joe Swanberg and his baby. There was also an after party, and her and a few cast members enjoyed a dinner and goofily posing for photos at ChefDance. Kittens shooting lightning bolts is a good color on her :D !

Appearances & Events > Appearances in 2014 > Jan 19: Sundance Film Festival – “Happy Christmas” Premiere

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Appearances & Events > Appearances in 2014 > Jan 19: Sundance Film Festival – “Happy Christmas” Premiere Party

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Appearances & Events > Appearances in 2014 > Jan 19: Sundance Film Festival – ChefDance – Night 3

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“The Voices” Premiere @ Sundance

Anna looked adorable at the Sundance premiere of her film “The Voices” at The Egyptian Theater in Park City January 19th. She is posing with director Marjane Satrapi, wearing a gem-print dress.

Appearances & Events > Appearances in 2014 > Jan 19: Sundance Film Festival – “The Voices” Premiere

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Appearances & Events > Appearances in 2014 > Jan 19: Sundance Film Festival – “The Voices” Party

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Anna @ Sundance Film Festival – Day 1

Appearances & Events > Appearances in 2014 > Jan 18: The Variety Studio @ Sundance

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Appearances & Events > Appearances in 2014 > Jan 18: Sundance Film Festival – Day For Night Video Lounge

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Photoshoots & Press > Portraits > Jeff Vespa – “Happy Christmas” Portraits @ Sundance

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Photoshoots & Press > Portraits > Larry Busacca – “Happy Christmas” Portraits @ Sundance

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Photoshoots & Press > Portraits > Chelsea Lauren – “Happy Christmas” Portraits @ Sundance

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Photoshoots & Press > Portraits > “Happy Christmas” Portraits @ Sundance

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Photoshoots & Press > Portraits > Dan Steinberg – “Happy Christmas” Portraits for The Hollywood Reporter @ Sundance (Jan. 18, 2014)

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‘Happy Christmas’ First Look

We now have our first look at Anna in a new still from ‘Happy Christmas’. Happy Christmas will be featured at Sundance Film Festival, under the U.S. Dramatic Competition. The movie will premiere sometime during the Utah festival January 16-26.

Productions > Movies > A Happy Christmas (2014) > Stills

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“Happy Christmas” — Directed and written by Joe Swanberg. A young woman breaks up with her boyfriend and then moves in with her older brother, his wife, and their 2-year-old son. Cast: Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Mark Webber, Lena Dunham, Swanberg.

Anna @ “Drinking Buddies” Screening – 57th BFI London Film Festival

Anna attended the London screening of her movie Drinking Buddies at the 57th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon West End. She posed with director Joe Swanberg, looking gorgeous and decked out in an Alberta Ferretti floral two- toned skirt and tank. And check out the details on her accessories – hearts on the tabs of her heels, and ornate diamond spider on her clutch – too cute!

Appearances & Events > Appearances in 2013 > October 18: “Drinking Buddies” Screening – 57th BFI London Film Festival

"Drinking Buddies" - Red Carpet Arrivals: 57th BFI London Film Festival "Drinking Buddies" - Screening - Red Carpet Arrivals: 57th BFI London Film Festival "Drinking Buddies" - Red Carpet Arrivals: 57th BFI London Film Festival "Drinking Buddies" - Red Carpet Arrivals: 57th BFI London Film Festival

She may be playing Cinderella in her latest blockbuster Into The Woods, but it appears Anna Kendick is a real-life princess as she appeared on the red carpet in a stunning frock on Friday evening.

The 28-year-old American actress was attending a screening of Drinking Buddies at the Odeon West End as part of the BFI London Film Festival.

She turned up in a black prom dress, embellished with multicoloured embroidered flowers, which even had a sheer midriff exposing the actress’ toned stomach.

Stunning: Anna Kendrick worked the red carpet in a stunning floral-embroidered gown at the BFI London Film Festival, at the Odeon West End on Friday evening

Anna accessorised with a red and orange ribbon belt, a matching pair of sunflower earrings and ring, a black clutch bag and super high black stilettos, complete with a clear heel, whilst styling her hair up in a sleek ponytail.

She wore dramatic eye make-up, using shades of purple and green to create a smoky eye look, finished off with pink cheek blush and nude lipstick.

The Up In The Air actress posed away for the cameras as she stood solo on the red carpet before heading into the Leicester Square venue to watch the movie.

Working the red carpet: Anna Kendrick attended a screening of Drinking Buddies during the 57th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon West End

Drinking buddies tells the story of Luke and Kate are co-workers at a Chicago brewery, where they spend their days drinking and flirting.

They’re perfect for each other, except that they’re both in relationships. Luke is in the midst of marriage talks with his girlfriend of six years, Kate is playing it cool with her music producer boyfriend Chris.

But you know what makes the line between ‘friends’ and ‘more than friends’ really blurry? Beer.
At the flicks: Actress Anna Kendrick and director Joe Swanberg attended the screening of Drinking Buddies during the 57th BFI London Film Festival together

At the flicks: Actress Anna Kendrick and director Joe Swanberg attended the screening of Drinking Buddies during the 57th BFI London Film Festival together

Anna stars in the film as Jill, alongside Olivia Wilde who is playing the lead role of Kate and Jake Johnson as the lead role of Luke.

Director Joe Swanberg accompanied Anna on the red carpet and the pair posed for the photographers ahead of the screening.

Anna also made the time to sign autographs for the hoards of fans who were waiting outside the venue equipped with notebooks and pens.

First Look at ‘Into the Woods’!

We have the first on-set photos from filming Into the Woods yesterday, September 25th, at Dover castle in the UK. You can see Anna as Cinderella, along with Emily Blunt, Chris Pine, and Christine Baranski.

Productions > Movies > Into the Woods (2014) > On Set: September 25, 2013

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First Look At INTO THE WOODS Movie Cast In Costume!

The majority of the ensemble from Disney’s forthcoming big screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine‘s celebrated family-friendly fairy tale-themed musical INTO THE WOODS convened at Dover Castle in the UK today to film scenes for the forthcoming tuner and our first look at James Corden, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Billy Magnussen, Tracey Ullman, Christine Baranski, Lucy Punch, MacKenzie Mauzy and Daniel Huttlestone in costume is now available!

BroadwayWorld reported earlier this month that a casting notice had gone out to assemble extras to take on the roles of townspeople and observers at a grand ball scene assumedly relating to Cinderella (Kendrick) and her prince (Pine) and now we can see that that has come to fruition. Check out that article here.

Additionally, peruse yesterday’s extensive BroadwayWorld article all about Week 3 of filming on INTO THE WOODS here.

Also, James Corden found some time in between filming scenes to even pose for a shot with a crew member, make-up artist Beth Haggar, who posted the pic to her Instagram account with the caption, “Me and #JamesCorden today at Dover Castle, filming on location for a new film called #IntoTheWoods.”

View the original post here.

Of note, the sumptuous costumes on display in these shots are designed by director Rob Marshall‘s longtime collaborator Colleen Atwood, who also provided designs for his movie musicals CHICAGO and NINE, as well as Tim Burton‘s SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET.

Filming on the Rob Marshall-directed Disney feature film is currently underway on soundstages at Shepperton Studios and on location in the UK, following soundtrack recording sessions conducted at the beginning of this month. For even more information, see BroadwayWorld’s coverage of Week 1 here.

The confirmed complete cast for INTO THE WOODS is as follows: Meryl Streep as The Witch, James Corden as The Baker, Emily Blunt as The Baker’s Wife, Johnny Depp as The Wolf, Anna Kendrick as Cinderella, Chris Pine as Cinderella’s Prince, Billy Magnussen as Rapunzel’s Prince, Mackenzie Mauzy as Rapunzel, Lucy Punch as Lucinda, Tammy Blanchard as Florinda, Christine Baranski as Cinderella’s Stepmother and Tracey Ullman as Jack’s Mother, with Lilla Crawford as Little Red Riding Hood and Daniel Huttlestone as Jack.

INTO THE WOODS is set to be released on December 25, 2014. {broadwayworld.com}