Miramax (distributor of the multiple Oscar Nominated film, Chocolat) is set to release French writer/director Jean-Pierre Jeunet's quirky romantic comedy Amelie on November 6th in the United States, following the films very large opening week in England where it grossed close to one million dollars, coming in as the #2 all-time highest grossing feature film right after Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (which did quite well in the States and gets a lot of "buzz" as being a 'film that is to be seen').
Other films getting a "buzz" these days include Indian director Asif Kapadia's The Warrior, Sandra Goldbacher's Me Without You and Saul Metzstein's Late Night Shopping -- all of which did well at French-British competitive festival screenings.
Don't expect any of these to show up at your local "Cineplex" (although Amelie might surprise everyone) but if you look real hard at the downtown art theaters or at your local university film offerings (most major colleges have regular, off-beat film screenings generally open to anyone with the price of a ticket) you may find these playing without much fanfare in the next few months. They will probably show up at video stores later next year and eventually get airings on places like cable television's Sundance, the Independent Film Network or possible Showtime 2 by next spring or summer.
FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING
The first in the series of three 'Hobbit' films to be released yearly over the holiday season in 2001 through 2003 will have the world premier in London on December 10th. The films were all shot back-to-back for a total of over 300 million U.S. dollars and are expected to do quite well (and if they don't, New Line could go the way of MGM-UA, known as "Heavens Gate" syndrome or 3 Turkeys applying for Bankruptcy). This first film, from New Line Cinema, was shot in New Zealand with an international cast (we profiled the Hobbit books and the movie in our July issue).
Also due out in short order will be the first Harry Potter film, which is also expected to do quite well. The newest book in the series is currently flying high on the N.Y. Times bestseller list.
Last month we mentioned Robert Redford's new film, Spy Games which opens November 21st everywhere and looks to be an interesting action adventure film, much along the lines of Redford's Three Days of the Condor. This marks two features in the same month for Redford! I know the cost of living has gone up these days, but I didn't know things were this bad!
What's Love Got to do With It
The true story of singing superstar Anna Mae Bollock, better known as Tina Turner. The movie starts with her as a little girl singing in the church choir, and getting thrown out even then for her overzealous singing style. Anna Mae, played by Angela Bassett, moves to the city as a teenager, and meets Ike Turner, where she gets her start as a singer. Ike, played by Lawrence Fishburne, acts as Tina's manager and promoter. They fall in love, get married, and enter a rollercoaster of success, egos, abuse, emotion, and turmoil. Fishburne gives a striking and in depth performance, showing the full spectrum of emotion in his character. Bassett's character on the other hand, is more two dimensionally written, although she plays it very well. This is a story of fame, love, relationships, abuse, and empowerment. Definitely worth renting on a Saturday night.
In Theaters Now!
Riding in Cars With Boys - PG-13 - Now!
I saw the previews for this movie where the little boy is getting sprayed in the mouth with hairspray as his Mom does her hair, of Drew Barrymore's character jumping around in circles and of that same character insisting she had given birth to a girl NOT a boy. I was under the assumption that it would be a light-hearted comedy. Drew Barrymore is a great comedic actress and we have seen proof of that in "Never Been Kissed" among other movies. I was mislead by the previews, BUT that's not a bad thing!
Drew Barrymore stars in this movie as Beverly D'Onofrio. She is daddy's little girl until she meets Ray (Steve Zahn). She is fifteen and soon finds out she is pregnant. Her parents are very disappointed (the year is 1968) and embarrassed, but Bev tells them she will marry Ray to save them from humiliation. She marries Ray, but is upset by his constant drinking. Beverly had to give up her dreams of going to college and everyone knows how upset she is at the turn her life has taken. She makes the best of her situation and goes to night school to get her education. She always keeps her dreams in the forefront of her mind as her guiding light.
Her best friend, Fay (Brittany Murphy), who also gets pregnant and married in her teens, gives Beverly support. But when Bev finds out Ray has been wasting all their money on Heroin and has formed a deep addiction, she can take no more. She leaves Ray and starts her life with just her son. She does the best she can for him and continues trying to make her dreams come true.
About the Movie:
The movie is based on the book "Riding in Cars With Boys" written by Beverly D'Onofrio. Morgan Ward wrote the screenplay. It was directed by Penny Marshall. The movie was very good. It showed all the angst Ms. D'Onofrio went through on her road to success. I'll talk about the supporting cast first: James Woods and Lorraine Bracco played Bev's parents. They were great! It was a nice change of pace to see Bracco in a lighter role than that of her "Soprano's" character. She got to be funny and understanding and supportive. It was an excellent part for her. The part of Fay was also outstanding. Murphy was made for that role. From the way she spoke to the way she helped Bev, it was a coming out performance for her. I was happy to see Sara Gilbert in this movie as well. I haven't seen her around much since she was on the TV sitcom "Roseanne." I am always glad to see a former TV star on the big screen. Her role was small, but it represented the life Beverly wished she had had.
Ok, Drew Barrymore! They said it was the performance of her life and they weren't kidding! She was sensational! She gave this role humor, melancholy and regret. Never has Barrymore had the opportunity to do a performance like this. It can only open up more doors for her. The other best performance goes to . . . Steve Zahn! Fabulous! He was the loving boyfriend, the drunken partier, the heroin addict and the dead-beat dad, all in one movie. He made his character come alive. His career is on an incline right now and deservedly so. With his success of "Joy Ride," which is also still in theaters, and this movie, plus the 2 more in production now, he's a hot commodity!
I would definitely recommend this movie! It was not what was advertised, not what I expected it to be, but a truly great movie nonetheless! Go See It!
©2001 Kelly A. Capossela
The Glass House - PG-13 -
With the exciting previews and trailers out for this movie, how could it not be great? I'll tell you!
Ruby (Leelee Sobieski) is from a "normal" family. Her parents love her and her little brother, Rhett (Trevor Morgan), and they love each other. Her parents (Rita Wilson and Michael O'Keefe) are celebrating their Anniversary and go out to dinner. They are killed in a car accident on the way home. In an instant Ruby and Rhett are moved from the life they know and to go live with friends of their parents, the Glass'.
Erin and Terry Glass (Diane Lane and Stellan Skarsgård) seem like nice enough people until Ruby starts to notice some strange behavior. She turns to her Trust Attorney who claims he will help her, but instead he goes to ask the Glass' what's going on. She then turns to a social worker who thinks she is lying. So, Ruby is stuck. With no way out of the situation she tries to help herself. Being the recipient of a multi-million dollar inheritance leaves Ruby believing that the Glass' were out for more than just the guardianship.
About the Movie:
Written by Wesley Strick and Directed by Daniel Sackheim, "The Glass House" left a lot to be desired! Leelee Sobieski has always come across to me as a very bland actress; this movie was no different. She may have had suspicions about her new guardians, but never convinced me that she was afraid for her life. I am certainly hoping that her new release of "Joy Ride" will have the suspense that this movie should have had.
I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Chris Noth (of HBO's "Sex in the City") in the movie. He played Ruby's uncle. But I was left unfulfilled again because his part was only a total of 2 minutes. The character of Terry was the only one well played by Stellan Skarsgård. He was creepy and unnerving and one of the only good roles in the movie. Diane Lane was just as plain as Sobieski. Her unconvincing portrayal of the evil guardian was wasteful. She was supposed to be a drug addict, but they never got into the role enough to explain why, how, etc.
All in all, I would like to ask for my $8.50 back from the theater. Since that's not gonna happen, I'll just have to forewarn you! If you really want to see this movie, rent it on video!
©2001 Kelly A. Capossela
Kelly A. Capossela works out of the East coast and has been writing movie reviews regularly on the internet. You'll find a lot of her other reviews at http://4starmoviereviews.tripod.com/4starmoviereviews/
Including many movies now out on DVD, Video or showing on HBO, Showtime, Cinemax and the Movie Channel.
Mulholland Drive - R -
David Lynch's latest movie covers old ground, but is still well worth the price of admission. Those familiar with Lynch from his television series Twin Peaks and movies such as Lost Highway will have an idea of what to expect. In fact, the recipe for Mulholland Drive is basically two parts Twin Peaks and one part Lost Highway.
The first two thirds of the movie was originally meant to be the pilot for a television show. The ABC network panicked at the last minute and Lynch decided to re-cut the material he'd already shot into a movie. It begins with a limo driving along Hollywood's Mulholland Drive. A women sitting in the back is about to be shot when a group of drag racing teenagers crash into the limo. The women is able to escape, but she has amnesia. She meets up with Betty, a naive girl from a small town who believes she's going to be the next big movie star.
Other characters include a director who gets forced into casting a certain woman as the lead in his next movie, then comes home to find his wife sleeping with the pool guy. There's a secret organization controlling Hollywood from behind the scenes, a homeless man with supernatural powers, a psychic woman, an entirely too cheerful elderly couple and many more quirky Lynchian characters along the way.
There are many very funny scenes in the first part of the movie. There's one in which a hitman after shooting his intended target, accidentally shoots somebody on the other side of the wall. While he's dragging her back to the first room, a janitor sees him. So, he also has to shoot him, too! He then shoots the janitor's vacuum cleaner which starts a fire and sets off the alarm.
There are also many great cameos. Long time Lynch composer Angelo Badalamenti plays a man who is VERY picky about his lattes, Michael Anderson is a man with a head disproportionately small to the rest of his body, and Billy Ray Cyrus plays a pool guy. I couldn't help thinking this would have been the best television show ever if it had made it to the air. As a movie, there are just too many different things going on to be cohesive.
In fact, Lynch has to do a 180 in order to bring the film to an ending. Lynch fans will experience great deja vu at this point, with the blonde/brunette duality, people switching bodies, a lot of female nudity, jealousy leading to murder, and the person responsible for the murder trying to escape into a fantasy world. Basically, we're watching Lost Highway again.
Despite the fact that Lynch is covering old ground, I'd say the movie is still definitely worth seeing. His trademark mixture of hilarious and extremely disturbing moments won't disappoint, even if he isn't showing us anything new in the plot department.
Ghost World - R -
Despite name actors such as Steve Buscemi (Fargo, Big Lebowski) and Thora Birch (American Beauty), Ghost World isn't going to get much attention. That's a shame, because it's just about the funniest movie you'll see this year. Based on the comic book by Daniel Clowes, Ghost World follows two girls who've just graduated from high school and are wondering what to do with the rest of their lives.
The plan is for both of them to get jobs and share an apartment, but Enid (Thora Birch) isn't as excited about getting a job as her friend Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson). She's stressing out over the possibility of her dad getting remarried and also has to take an art class during the summer to officially graduate where the instructor doesn't respect her drawings.
She ends up spending a lot of time with Jazz geek Seymour (Steve Buscemi) who's old enough to be her dad. She meets Seymour by replying to his classified ad, then laughing about how pathetic he looks when no one shows up. She ends up feeling bad about what she did and befriends him. Seymour invites Enid and Rebecca to a gathering with his geeky friends. Here's how one of them tries to pick up Rebecca: "So, you're wearing green. Are you Irish?"
The humor comes in droves. Enid and Rebecca like to bug Josh (Brad Renfro) who works in a convenience store. Kids in the art class are hilarious by being just like those weird kids we all knew in those classes. Enid's timid father is good for a couple laughs as are Enid's attempts at getting Seymour a date with someone his own age. Enid's attempt at getting a job at a movie theatre is also quite funny. Here's a conversation between a convenience store owner and a customer:
"No shirt, no service. Get the hell out of my store."
"This is America, man. Learn the rules."
"Hey, my country invented Democracy."
"Yeah. You also invented homos."
"You'll have to buy me dinner first."
The comedy is a bit crude at times, but still hilarious. The ending was a bit of a downer, but other than that, the movie makes you feel good all the way through. The comedic timing is on throughout and you never know what direction the film will suddenly take. I'm still not sure why it's called Ghost World, though.
CLASSIC SILENT FILM SCREENINGS
Chance Theater, 5576 E. La Palma, Anaheim, CA. The original vampire film, Nosferatu screens on November 4th and 18th.
Silent Movie, 611 N. Fairfax, Los Angeles, CA on-going programs.
Orpheum Theater, 203 W. Adams, Phoenix, AZ. Regular, on-going screenings with a real, theater pipe organ.
Riviera Theater, 67 Webster St. N. Tonowanda, NY, on-going screenings from the Niagara Frontier Theatre Organ Society.
Drexel Theater, 2256 1/2 E. Main, Columbus, OH
VARIOUS ON-GOING CINEMA PROGRAMS
Los Angeles County Museum of Art