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Daily Briefing. Norman Foster + Deutsche Docs

Also: The latest on Charlie Kaufman's next film. And a Monty Python reunion (of sorts).
The Daily

"How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr Foster?, an admiring documentary about the British architect Norman Foster, by Norberto López Amado and Carlos Carcas, gives the viewer quite a lot to marvel at, which is, after all, the root meaning of the word 'admire,'" begins AO Scott in the New York Times. "Accompanied by Joan Valent's pulsing, soaring score, the camera swoops over some of Mr Foster's largest and best-known structures and floats through the bright and airy interiors of his skyscrapers. Even before you hear Paul Goldberger (a former architecture critic for The New York Times, currently at The New Yorker) describe Mr Foster as 'the Mozart of Modernism,' you can appreciate the grace and harmony of his compositions in glass, steel and light."

For Benjamin Sutton, writing in the L, "what's most remarkable about this documentary," currently at the IFC Center through Tuesday, "is how it highlights Foster's increasingly acute grasp of the social problems shaping his designs," but here's Brian Miller in the Voice: "A working-class Manchester lad, Foster trained at Yale and became a brand name by the late 60s — aided in part by association with his futurist mentor, Buckminster Fuller (who posed this doc's titular question). Now in his mid-70s, Foster runs a large international firm that — detractors will tell you, though not in this movie — has been chasing the mega-project money from China to Dubai to Kazakhstan…. By the time this fawning doc gets to Foster's CG-animated rendering for a $15 billion planned city in Abu Dhabi (a movie within the movie), you realize it's essentially an infomercial for the company he unsuccessfully tried to sell before the 2008 crash."

Also in New York, the series Deutsche Docs: The Contemporary German Documentary opens today at Anthology Film Archives and runs through February 6. BL Hazelwood talks with co-curator Jed Rapfogel for Cinespect: "The challenge was to strike a balance between highlighting the recent work of long-established filmmakers like Rosa von Praunheim, Ulrike Ottinger, Hartmut Bitomsky, Volker Koepp and Harun Farocki (all of whom have continued to make remarkable films) and calling attention to filmmakers who have started making movies more recently and whose films aren't as well known in the US such as Gerhard Benedikt Friedl, Andres Veiel, Philip Scheffner. My own vision of the series is predominantly one of diversity, both in terms of subject matter, sensibility, and cinematic approach."

In the works. Vulture's Kyle Buchanan and Claude Brodesser-Akner hear that Kate Winslet and Catherine Keener are likely to join Steve Carell, Jack Black, Nicolas Cage and Kevin Kline in Charlie Kaufman's Frank or Francis, "a very meta musical comedy about a director (Carell) who becomes obsessed with the message board commenter (Black) disparaging his movies on a Hollywood website. And though Kaufman's script is positively scathing when it comes to the Academy Awards (Cage plays a washed-up actor who serves as the emcee of the event), we should note that with the new additions to his cast, he's now got an ensemble that includes three Oscar winners and can boast a bounty of eleven total nominations. Not bad!"

Terry Jones will direct John Cleese, Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin in Absolutely Anything, a sci-fi farce combining CGI and live action, reports Dave McNary for Variety. The former Pythons will voice "a group of aliens who endow an earthling with the power to do 'absolutely anything' to see what a mess he'll make of things — which is precisely what happens." Robin Williams will voice a talking dog and Jones hopes to get Eric Idle on board as well. The BBC notes that, in June, "it was announced that Cleese, Gilliam, Palin and Jones would voice a 3D animated film based on the memoirs of the late Graham Chapman, the sixth Python, who died in 1989. However, Idle was not involved in the film, which is expected to be released later this year."

Dee Rees (Pariah) is working on a screenplay called Large Print, which she describes as being "about this mid-south, 50-something insurance adjuster, who’s recently divorced and she has to redefine happiness for herself," and, adds Benjamin Wright, she's "also working on a TV series with HBO and Viola Davis."

Also at the Playlist, Kevin Jagernauth reports that Julian Fellowes has written the latest adaptation of Romeo & Juliet; Carlo Carlei will direct Douglas Booth and Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) in the lead roles and Paul Giamatti as Friar Lawrence.

Obit. Revolver is mourning the loss of Vadim Glowna, "one of the most engaging and multi-faceted German actors and directors." He'd appeared in over 150 films and television shows since the mid-60s when he died on Tuesday at the age of 70.

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