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American Film

SHOOT: Director Tim Burton Films BIG EYES at The Penthouse Night Club

Tim Burton is a hands-on director and in constant motion on set. He talks to key background performers and crew over and over again, returning to discuss new details of the scene at last night’s shoot for his latest feature film, Big Eyes. Crew had dressed The Penthouse Night Club as the 1950s San Francisco night club The Hungry I for a week of filming. Last night’s establishing shot of background performers arriving and entering the club was the only exterior scene. A large crowd gathered opposite on Seymour Street  to watch the celebrity director in action and quip: Where’s Johnny Depp?



Big Eyes is a smaller, more intimate film for Tim Burton than his many collaborations with actor Johnny Depp: from Edward Scissorhands to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to Sleepy Hollow to Sweeney Todd to Alice in Wonderland to Dark Shadows. The Weinstein company film is a biopic about the art world’s Margaret and Walter Keane (Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz). famous for 1950s and 1960s paintings of big-eyed children. And takes a look at why Walter Keane took credit  for all of his introverted wife’s work.

Oscar winner Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained, Inglourious Basterds) walked through set a couple of times last night on his way to and from the Penthouse but was not part of the exterior scene. Read More »SHOOT: Director Tim Burton Films BIG EYES at The Penthouse Night Club

SHOOT: Road Biker Extras at Two Chefs & a Table for WORDS AND PICTURES

Last Thursday feature film Words and Pictures had a last-minute casting call for bike rider extras to film on Monday. Turns out the scene was not a road race as expected but a gathering of friends in bike gear inside Two Chefs & a Table restaurant on Alexander Street in the Downtown Eastside.

The scene: outside the restaurant — renamed The Grill — a man in spandex bike attire talks on his cellphone before going inside to join his road racer friends.

Read More »SHOOT: Road Biker Extras at Two Chefs & a Table for WORDS AND PICTURES

TIFF: Robert Redford’s THE COMPANY YOU KEEP is Tonight’s Gala Presentation at Toronto International Film Festival

Robert Redford’s political thriller The Company You Keep gets a Toronto International Film Festival gala presentation tonight at Roy Thomson Hall. Filmed last fall in the Vancouver area, The Company You Keep stars Redford as widowed civil rights lawyer Jim Grant, who’s really a former Weather Underground militant and fugitive wanted for over thirty years for a bank robbery and murder of a guard. Shia LaBeouf is the young reporter Ben Shepard who exposes Grant’s secret, forcing him to go on the run to find the one person who can clear his name before he’s caught by the FBI in a nation-wide manhunt.

The official TIFF trailer opens with these typed words: “In 1969 a group of radical anti-war protestors began a campaign of bombings on American soil. They were called the “Weather Underground”. Some were sent to prison. A few … vanished…until today.” Then we see fugitive Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon) arrested at a gas station. Ben Shepard (LaBeouf), a reporter for a struggling local newspaper, watches this on TV — Breaking News: Sharon Solarz Arrested. Jim Grant reads about the arrest in the newspaper — Weather Underground Most Wanted Caught — at home with his young daughter (Jackie Evancho, an 11-year-old finalist on America’s Got Talent): “What’s wrong? You look weird.” Grant: “I’m fine, honey. ” With help from an old college friend now FBI agent (Anna Kendrick), Shepard begins to focus on Grant, catching up with him at a shoot filmed in Gastown. Shepard: “Mr. Grant, I’m just trying to put the pieces together.” Grant: “I don’t have time for this…”

But Grant decides to run. He tells his daughter: “We’re not going to school. We’re gonna go on a little trip.” Wearing a baseball cap, Grant (Redford) and his daughter (Evancho) check into the remodeled Hotel Georgia complex downtown made to look like a Manhattan hotel with prop NY cabs coming and going.

The trailer continues with more typed words: “One reporter. Has discovered a secret. That can connect them all. And reveal the truth.” Shepard: “I don’t think he’s running away. I think he’s trying to clear his name.”

The biggest and most public scenes in Vancouver took place at the west entrance to the Vancouver Art Gallery (the former Vancouver Court House) with Grant (Redford) scrummed by media as he gets into a car driven by Chris Cooper. Reporter Shepard (LaBeouf) is there but at a remove from the scrum.