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Fadeout near for travelling 'Cinema Paradiso' in Portugal

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MONFORTE, PortugalShades of Oscar-winning classic “Cinema Paradiso” run through the life of Antonio Feliciano, a sprightly 75-year-old who fears he may be the last of Portugal’s travelling film projectionists.

“If I’m not the last one, I’m close,” Feliciano said. “This is a legacy that is going to end. When I’m gone, travelling cinema will be mentioned in articles, but only as a memory.”

After six decades travelling four million km (2.5 million miles) to screen 4,000 films in Portugal’s far-flung villages, Feliciano does not plan to retire just yet. But he is resigned to the fact that the Internet, digital TV and distribution monopolies have made his craft obsolete.

Like Toto, the boy who befriends projectionist Alfredo in the 1988 Italian hit film, Feliciano also started as a youngster, in the 1950s, helping a travelling projectionist announce the weekend’s bill on a loudspeaker in his village in rural Alentejo.

“The film bug”, as he calls it, grew and by his teens he was out on the road, helping screen films in music halls and bullfighting rings. That led to a career which even the need to earn a living as a bookkeeper did not interrupt, combining weeks in a Lisbon office with weekend screenings.

About 200 km from Lisbon, hilltop Monforte is a typical Alentejo village – picturesque, but sleepy, its population reduced to 3,000 by economic woes and emigration.

On a bright Sunday, however, the village livens up with Feliciano about to screen a film in honour of Domingos Pecas, a local projectionist who died in 2005 after 50 years in the business.

THE LAST PICTURE SHOW?

“Our entertainment was the travelling cinema, we didn’t have anything else, no TV, no radio, we were very poor,” resident Nazare Alfaia, 71, said.

“I don’t know how to read, so I can’t remember the names of the films, but they were adventures, cowboys and horses,” she added, surrounded by a collection of Feliciano’s old projectors and fading posters of Westerns and musicals.

Artemisio Pecas, the projectionist’s son, recalled that “before the film, they showed news, and it was at the cinema that people would see Lisbon, the colonies, even the sea, for the first time”.

Wearing a blue workcoat with the word “Cinema” printed on the back, Feliciano spends an hour setting up, at one point using a hammer to align the reel of a biopic of Amalia Rodrigues, diva of Portugal’s melancholic ‘fado’ music.

“This is a ride of unpredictable emotions, never easy. The sound must be good, the image clear, the equipment protected for travel. I’m like a trapeze artist without a net,” he said.

But he has no regrets: “Sometimes I feel like I ‘am’ cinema. At a screening, here’s the machine, the screen, the audience, all concentrated together, we laugh, cry together. And without me it doesn’t work. Thrilling.”

Feliciano looks younger than his years, his conversation peppered with anecdotes about his quasi-bohemian life.

His jovial expression sours only when he laments that he cannot find anyone to carry on the tradition.

“It’s a shame that this important cultural expression is lost, that when I die there will be no one left to go from village to village to show a film.”

(Editing by Axel Bugge, Michael Roddy and Andrew Heavens)


Source: R-Entertainment

Gunnar Hansen, actor in "Texas Chain Saw Massacre," dies at age 68

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<span class="focusParagraph articleLocation”>Gunnar Hansen, who played the mentally disturbed masked killer in the chilling 1974 film “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,” has died of pancreatic cancer at age 68, his agent said on Sunday.

Hansen’s character, Leatherface, “is one of the most iconic evil figures in the history of cinema,” the agent, Mike Eisenstadt, said in a statement. The character murders several people in a house and uses a chain saw on some of his victims in the low-budget horror film.

A native of Iceland, Hansen lived in Maine for the past 40 years, working mostly as a writer and actor, Eisenstadt said. Hansen is survived by his partner of 13 years, Betty Tower.

Hansen recently published a memoir, “Chain Saw Confidential,” giving readers what Eisenstadt called a behind-the-scenes look at the making of “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.”

Before he died, Hansen had started pre-production of a film called “Death House” that he created, wrote and produced, Eisenstadt said. It will be produced early next year in his memory, he said.

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City; Editing by Andrea Ricci)


Source: R-Entertainment

Box Office: 'Spectre' tops 'The Peanuts Movie' with $73 million

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LOS ANGELES, (Variety.com) – James Bond and Charlie Brown brought the box office roaring back to life, as “Spectre” and “The Peanuts Movie” attracted big crowds over their opening weekends.

“Spectre,” the latest 007 adventure, took first place, debuting to $73 million from 3,929 theaters — a hefty figure and the second highest in series history, but one that nevertheless trails the launch of “Skyfall.”

The previous film in the long-running franchise bowed to $88.4 million, but had better reviews and benefited from being the only new wide-release in its opening weekend.

Going into the weekend, tracking suggested that the film would debut to $80 million, but the strength of “The Peanuts Movie” and some critical grousing may have depressed ticket sales slightly.

Internationally, however, “Spectre” remains a juggernaut, pulling in $200 million and pushing its worldwide total to more than $300 million after two weeks in release. With a production budget of $250 million and millions more in marketing costs, “Spectre” has to pull in $650 million globally to break even.

It’s a time of transition for Bond. Daniel Craig, who was praised by critics for injecting an emotional depth and danger to the character, has hinted this is his last time playing the role.

The search for a replacement has already triggered frenzied speculation about who can take over the series. And Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Eon Productions are weighing distribution offers.

Sony’s deal to distribute the Bond films expires with “Spectre,” and though the studio is expected to make a bid to keep the series, other suitors, such as Warner Bros. and Paramount, will aggressively pursue the rights to the franchise.

While older audiences flocked to see the martini-swilling spy, Fox’s “The Peanuts Movie” appealed to families. The adaptation of Charles Schulz’s beloved comic strip racked up $45 million across 3,897 screens. It cost $100 million to make and was produced by Blue Sky, the creative force behind the “Ice Age” series.

On the limited release front, Open Road capitalized on Oscar buzz for “Spotlight.” The look at the Boston Globe’s investigation of the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal picked up $302,276 from five theaters. That’s a healthy per-screen average of $60,455.

The film will gradually expand in the coming weeks and hopes to be in more than 500 theaters heading into Thanksgiving.

“There were multiple sell outs in every theater, every day this weekend,” said Jason Cassidy, chief marketing officer at Open Road. “They had to add showtimes.”

Fox Searchlight offered up another piece of awards bait, debuting the period romance “Broolyn” in five theaters where it earned $237,389 and picked up a solid per-screen average of $36,200.

And Bleecker Street opened “Trumbo,” a biopic about Blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo with Bryan Cranston, in five theaters. It picked up $77,229 for a per-screen average of $15,445, and will expand into Chicago, Boston, Washington D.C., Phoenix, San Francisco, and Palm Springs.

“We’re prepared for the long run,” said Jack Foley, distribution head at Bleecker Street. “The plan is to go wide at Thanksgiving and then play out from there.”


Source: R-Entertainment

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