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model wears a creation part of Italian fashion house Raffaella Curiel Fall-Winter 2014 high fashion collection, unveiled in Rome, July 14. (AP)
‘It was a huge nostalgia’ ‘Book of Life’ animates Day of Dead

LOS ANGELES, July 15, (Agencies): Guillermo del Toro is helping to open the “Book of Life.” The Oscar winner is producing the animated feature by first-time director Jorge Gutierrez, and joined him at Fox Studios on Monday to unveil footage from the film, set for release in October. “Book of Life” is rich with imagery from Mexican folklore, with a special emphasis on the Day of the Dead, the food- and music-filled celebration of the annual return of the spirits of deceased loved ones.

Del Toro said he was moved by Gutierrez’s emotional, visual and narrative connection to Mexico. “It was a huge nostalgia,” del Toro said, “a very painful and beautiful nostalgia that made me say I’m going to protect this project and celebrate this guy.” It helped that Gutierrez presented his ideas and illustrations,” the filmmaker said.

Outcome

“Book of Life” centers on two best friends angling for the girl of their dreams, not realizing that otherworldly powers have a stake in the outcome. The leaders of the underworlds, the Land of the Remembered and the Land of the Forgotten, make a wager on which lover the girl will choose. Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum and Diego Luna lead the voice cast. The film also features ranchera interpretations of popular songs by Mumford & Sons, Radiohead, Rod Stewart and others. Oscar-winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla provides the score.

The approach to music and animation is unique, del Toro said. “It’s enchanting and gorgeous in a way that is not the cookie-cutter way,” he said. Colorful sugar skulls — the traditional Day of the Dead treat — inform the fantastical look of the Land of the Remembered. Other Mexican folk arts, like handcrafted wooden dolls, are represented in the film’s everyday world.

“I’m not supporting a movie that is going to look like every other movie, that’s going to sound like every other movie,” del Toro said, adding that he tries to specialize in producing first-time filmmakers to add to the diversity of voices in cinema. “Every time we did something unique, I felt very proud of him. He’s like my love child without the love.”

Also:

LOS ANGELES: Richard Linklater’s adventurous and unconventional “Boyhood,” which was filmed over a period of 12 years as a young boy aged from preschool to high school graduation, broke out at the specialty box office this weekend. Distributor IFC Films opened “Boyhood” on five screens in New York and Los Angeles and it grossed $359,000 for a per-screen average of $71,800, the year’s second-best limited debut behind only “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

“Boyhood” was written and directed by Linklater and stars Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as the parents of newcomer Ellar Coltrane; the cast and crew reconvened for a few weeks each year to shoot new scenes, which were then assembled into a casual but singular portrait of a life. The film’s critical reception had to have helped with the strong debut. It has a rare 100 percent ‘fresh” rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, with 97 critics weighing in. An extensive publicity campaign that included profiles in the New Yorker and TV appearances by Linklater and the film’s cast helped, and it also benefitted from a promotional push on AMC TV and Showtime.

IFC Films chief Jonathan Sehring and Josh Sapan, head of IFC’s parent AMC Networks, remembered when Linklater came to the project. “Back in 2002, we thought Rick’s idea was an extraordinary notion and we believed him to be a great filmmaker,:” the two said. “Putting our creative and commercial fates in the hands of people who are brilliant has proven to be a terrific strategy for the company and we couldn’t’ be happier to have supported Rick’s creative vision. The result is a film for the ages and we can’t wait to bring ‘Boyhood’ to the rest of the country in the weeks to come.”

Linklater is a veteran director who has been behind projects like 1993’s “Dazed and Confused” and 2003’s “School of Rock,” and over the past decade turned to indie fare like 2006’s “Fast Food Nation,” 2012’s “Bernie” and last year’s “After Midnight,” the finale in a film trilogy launched in 1995.

Sony Pictures Classics’ comedy “Land Ho” opened to $37,811 on four theaters, for a strong $9,453 per-screen average. Co-written and co-directed by Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz, it stars Paul Eenhoorn and Earl Lynn Nelson as a pair of ex-brothers-in-law set off to Iceland in an attempt to reclaim their youth through Reykjavok nightclubs, trendy spas and rugged camp-sites.

NEW YORK: Everything is coming up aces for Dan Harmon. The “Community” creator got his show back last year, just got a second life and sixth season at Greendale from Yahoo, and now, the documentary about his traveling podcast has been acquired by distributor The Orchard.

Directed by Neil Berkeley (“Beauty is Embarrassing”), the film traces Harmon’s shows throughout the country, with guest appearances by “Community” stars and top comedians like Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Sarah Silverman, and Jason Sudeikis.

“‘Harmontown’ is a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a man that would quote himself saying that a movie about him is fascinating,” Harmon said in a statement. “It’s more than a documentary. It’s your chance to figure out what’s wrong with me while cutting me in on the profit.”

The film, which debuted at SXSW, will hit a limited number of theaters in October, likely around the time that “Community” will make its return/debut on Yahoo, and will also be available digitally on demand.

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