Screening series kicks up heels

<I>Variety</I> bows 'Corpse Bride,' 'Separate Lies,' 'In Her Shoes'

HOLLYWOOD — Variety kicked off its annual Screening Series with a one-two punch (“Corpse Bride,” “Separate Lies”) Sept. 19 and 20, respectively, polished off with an “In Her Shoes” unspooling this past Monday.

Casting the right actor in a role can be as difficult as finding a good pair of shoes, declared “Shoes” helmer Curtis Hanson during the pic’s post-screening Q&A at the ArcLight.

Shirley (MacLaine) was a big question mark,” he admitted. “I told her I’m a fan and it would be a thrill to work with her, but much of what I love about her is opposite the character. Shirley walks into a room and announces: ‘I’m Shirley MacLaine and I’m here.’ But in this film, she plays a woman who is hiding from life.”

First-timer

Don’t expect to find frosh helmer Julian Fellowes nitpicking over the nuances of his directorial style. “I’ve only done it once, after all,” he reminded auds at the “Separate Lies” Q&A.

But there is one characteristic of his craft he’s willing to share: “I tend to shy away from the overuse of close-ups. I find it very exhausting looking up other peoples’ noses.”

Skeleton key

“Corpse Bride” marks the 12th time helmer Tim Burton and composer Danny Elfman have teamed, and at last week’s “Bride” screening, Elfman talked about why it works.

“It’s easy to figure out his stuff. We have a lot of overlapping influences,” Elfman revealed. “Skeletons were always part of (Oingo) Boingo. It seems singing skeletons have been a part of my life for over 25 years. With ‘Corpse Bride,’ I realized that I’m never going to be able to write for a skeleton playing another’s ribs ever again. I knew I was going to have fun with this.”

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