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Peter Bart: Media Fervor Over Olivia Wilde’s ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ Obstructs More Critical Inspection

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Her first film was Booksmart, and her second should have been titled Mediasmart. Instead it’s Don’t Worry Darling, and it’s been a worry from the outset.

Olivia Wilde, the filmmaker/movie star, was born with instant access to media savvy thanks to her accomplished parents — feminist Mom was a congressional candidate, Dad a gifted novelist. But Don’t Worry Darling had its issues from the start. Both its plot and its promotion seemed overly ambitious, its release improbably tied to the Venice Film Festival with its arty fare and fussy critics.

This followed casting disputes during pre-production and flaky antics during post. Wilde’s Booksmart was smart and also fun, but Worry seemed to marry The Truman Show to The Stepford Wives, an uneasy connect.

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The media buzz was intense. If it all worked, would Wilde become the next Elaine May? Or would Don’t Worry become her Ishtar?

The opening box office numbers have been promising – almost $20 million in the U.S. with a 66% female audience, half under 25. If Don’t Worry were a hit, would its success refute the theory that only Marvel sub-brands have a chance to overcome the gloom of streamerville?

At a $35 million budget, Don’t Worry was the sort of indie film that studios were avoiding. But given the buzz, was it also destined for wide viewership in its eventual small-screen run?

‘Don’t Worry Darling’ Venice Review: Don’t Worry About The Gossip, Olivia Wilde’s 1950s Dream Life-Turned-Nightmare Is Kinda Fun

The critics’ reception was complicated, but even NPR’s pedantic critics tentatively praised Wilde’s “authentic gift.” Other reviewers picked apart its third-act plot convulsions, but in its defense, Harry Styles, its popstar co-star, pointed out, “It’s supposed to be a movie.”

I decided last weekend to see Don’t Worry Darling in its most favorable setting — a theater adjacent to the Palm Springs temples of modernism where it was shot.

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The ticket buyers, mostly young and female, seemed hopeful of re-connecting with the convivial overachievers from Booksmart but instead were introduced to Florence Pugh from Lady Macbeth; Chris Pine from Star Trek; and Styles, who not long ago had packed the L.A. Forum.

The plot of Don’t Worry called for the females to be chic and subservient toward the male automatons who paraded off each day to their mysterious office. But not really: The actors were all playing multiple characters in a Fellini-like parade of simulcasts. The only overlap was a black-and-white synchronized dancing scene aimed perhaps at anchoring the audience in a verifiable reality.

“Who is Olivia Wilde trying to become?” asked one of the young moviegoers at my screening. Booksmart suggested the flinty humor of May, whose reputation seemed to coalesce on A New Leaf with Walter Matthau.

But then May responded to the persuasions of Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman to make a dark road movie set in the Middle East. The two stars of Ishtar were cast as lovable lounge singers who, it turned out, were devious and narcissistic. The laughs were lost in a confusing plot involving the CIA and a Mideast revolution.

A prickly performer who left a trail of litigation at Paramount over editing disagreements, and also disliked dealing with the media, May nonetheless could afford a high-profile flop like Ishtar. She’d established a brilliant comedic presence working with Mike Nichols.

But Wilde‘s cinematic identity seems more ambiguous in the wake of Don’t Worry Darling — a confusion compounded by the Instagram ubiquity of her co-stars.

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The tyranny of the social media may hype opening-weekend box office results, but does it subtly undermine the professional stature of filmmakers?



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Netflix & Paramount+ To Profile ‘Strip Search Caller’ ; TVOKids Spotlights Down Syndrome With Toon Series; ‘One Piece Film Red’ London Takeover — Global Briefs

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Netflix & Paramount+ UK To Profile ‘Strip Search Caller’

Netflix and Paramount+ have struck a first of its kind-of-deal over a true crime documentary telling the story of the strip search caller in the U.S. Paramount+ has taken UK rights to Pervert: The Hunt for the Strip Search Caller and Netflix has rest of world on the doc, which it will be calling Don’t Pick Up the Phone. The deal is believed to be the first time two streamers have worked in such a way in the UK and rest of world. The doc tells the shocking story of a hoax caller who targeted fast food restaurants across the U.S. – posing as a police officer investigating a theft, the caller instructed managers to strip-search the young female employees he said were suspects. For many victims, what began as a humiliating strip search escalated into sexual abuse.

Canada’s TVOKids Spotlights Down Syndrome In Animated Series ‘Griffin And Turner’

EXCLUSIVE: Ontario, Canada’s TVOkids and Big Jump Entertainment are working on 2D-animated series Griffin and Turner. Based on real Canadian brothers who a significant online following, the show follows the supportive pair as they, their friends and family undertake personal challenges but focus on the journey rather than winning. Turner has Down syndrome, and TVOKids executive producer Kirsten Hurd noted the series has been developed in consultation with the Down syndrome community. Producer Big Jump is behind shows such as Shutterbug and Big Words, Small Stories.

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London Gets ‘One Piece Film Red’ Takeover After Record Haul

To celebrate the record-breaking haul of One Piece Film Red in the UK, the Straw Hat Pirates are set for a takeover of iconic London locations on November 26. Via local distributor Anime Limited and Toei Animation, the cast and memorable scenes from the series will be projected onto the County Hall of London, opposite the London Eye as well as other key locations. One Piece Film: Red has grossed over £800,000 in the UK and Ireland since it released earlier this month, making it the biggest of the long-running franchise. A phenomenon in Japan, One Piece Film Red has grossed $162M to date worldwide 



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‘All Quiet On The Western Front’, ‘Belfast’ Top 2022 EFA Arts & Crafts Awards

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Edward Berger’s All Quiet On The Western Front and Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast top the European Film Academy’s Excellence Awards honoring achievement in the arts and crafts categories, the winners of which were announced on Wednesday.

Belfast won best European Production Design for Jim Clay, whose credits include Children Of Men, for which he won a Bafta in 2006, and Murder On The Orient Express.

The drama, set against the backdrop of the beginnings of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland in 1969, also won best European Costume Design for Charlotte Walter (Blithe Spirit, Misbehaviour)

Netflix-backed German WWI drama All Quiet On The Western Front won best European Make-up & Hair for Heike Merker, and Best European Special Effects for Frank Petzold, Viktor Müller and Markus Frank.

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 In other categories, best European Cinematography was won by Kate McCullough for her work on Colm Bairéad’s Irish-language drama The Quiet Girl.

Best European Editing went to Özcan Vardar and Eytan İpeker for Turkish director Emin Alper’s drama Burning Days.

Polish composer Paweł Mykietyn won best European Original Score went for Jerzy Skolimowski’s EO.

Best European Sound went to Simone Paolo Olivero, Paolo Benvenuti, Benni Atria, Marco Saitta, Ansgar Frerich & Florian Holzner for Michelangelo Frammartino’s cave exploration drama The Hole.

The winners, which are decided by a special expert jury, will receive their awards at the European Film Awards ceremony on 10 December in Reykjavík.

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Jennifer Lopez’s Social Media Mysteriously Goes Dark

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EXCLUSIVE: The actress, producer and top-selling performing artist’s social media channels including Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok and Twitter have suddenly gone dark in their featured/cover images.

Reps for Jennifer Lopez were unavailable for comment, but we hear from others that The Hustlers and Marry Me actress is on the verge of announcing a new project.

Here’s a look at her Instagram tonight:

While Lopez’s Instagram had erased all posts, a trail of her previous postings remained on Facebook, Tik Tok and Twitter. Across all four social media portals, Lopez counts close to 347M followers, the majority of that coming from her Instagram.

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Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions in June 2021 signed a multi-year first-look deal with Netflix spanning feature films, TV series and unscripted content, with an emphasis on projects that support diverse female actors, writers and filmmakers. Lopez co-runs Nuyorican Productions with her producing partner Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas.

Lopez scored her best opening for a live-action movie at the domestic box office with STX’s 2019 stripper caper Hustlers which debuted to $33.1 million, and grossed $105M stateside, $157.6M worldwide.  As a recording artist, Lopez has sold over 70 million albums, with J.Lo became her bestselling album with 3.8M copies sold in the U.S. and 12M global. Her Netflix thriller The Mother from director Niki Caro is set to debut in May. Her romantic comedy Shotgun Wedding with Josh Duhamel will hit Prime Video on Jan. 27.

On Facebook, one of her followers, Steffany Merino wrote, “What’s happened? Hope you and your wonderful family are ok. I’ll pray for your health and safety.”

Again, we hear something special is in the works in the next few days.



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