Capt. Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Muhe) is the German Democratic Republic's ultimate company man. So good at conducting interrogations and spotting liars he teaches new State Security ("Stasi") recruits how to do both and dedicates his life to watching and exposing "comrades" who aren't quite as loyal as they should be. But when he starts conducting surveillance on dashing playwright Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch) and his actress girlfriend Christa-Marie Sieland (Martina Gedeck) Wiesler finds himself getting caught up in their real-life drama--particularly after he discovers the true reason Dreyman has come under suspicion. As the stakes rise Wiesler's dedication to the Socialist Unity Party battles his growing sense of what honor truly is. The Lives of Others is full of strong performances with Muhe's at the top of the list. Resembling a German Kevin Spacey he conveys most of Wiesler's changing outlook through his large expressive eyes. As Wiesler's exposure to the color and passion of Georg and Christa-Marie's life underlines the stark emptiness of his own Muhe signals through slight changes in his character's rigid discipline much more is going on beneath the surface. Koch and Gedeck are also excellent. Georg and Christa-Marie's need for self-expression is constantly stifled by the pressure to be good party members and both actors--particularly Gedeck--make it clear what the personal cost of that conflict can be. In the supporting cast Ulrich Tukur does a nice job as Wiesler's secret police colleague/supervisor Lt. Col. Anton Grubitz turning what could have been a one-note performance into a role with unexpected nuances. Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck--who grew up in West Germany but visited the East as a child with his parents--has said that he spent four years researching The Lives of Others and it shows. The stark impersonal nature of much of the socialists' daily lives has the stamp of authenticity as does the film's mood of constant fear and suspicion. By contrasting scenes set in Georg and Christa-Marie's eclectic lived-in apartment--a haven from the world of informants and efficiency--with shots of a solitary Wiesler eavesdropping via headphone von Donnersmarck shows how even a tenuous connection to the world of passion and art can transform a life. In the end it is the characters' most human instincts--be they good or bad--that determine their fate not the party's rules and regulations.
The thing is Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties doesn’t even have anything to do with the classic Charles Dickens novel. Two Kitties is more a pauper/prince type story. I guess kids probably don’t know what a “pauper” is and well The Prince and the Pussy wouldn’t really work would it? Still they could have at least come up with a clever story to go along with the title. This time around Garfield (Bill Murray) wants to stop Jon (Breckin Meyer) from asking cute-as-a-button vet Liz (Jennifer Love Hewitt) to marry him on a trip to London by stowing away. Once over the pond the fat yellow cat ends up being mistaken for a royal fat yellow cat Prince (Tim Curry) who has just inherited a castle. Sure Garfield likes all the perks--minced pie anytime he rings a bell; pampering beyond your regular tongue bath; and no Odie. There are a few downsides namely an evil relative (Billy Connolly) who wants the cat dead so he can get the estate but it doesn’t matter. Both cats are killed in the end anyway. Oh I’m kidding (I only wish). The laconic Murray is certainly a wise choice to voice the indolent fat cat and was mildly entertaining in the first Garfield. But for the Oscar-nominated actor to agree to do it again let’s just say it must have been very costly for the producers. I would hope anyway that he asked for a lot of money because why else would you do something as inane as this? The character interminably grates. There are also a bevy of British actors in Two Kitties who are equally annoying doing animal voices--from Curry as the mollycoddled Prince to Bob Hoskins as a bulldog and Sharon Osbourne as a pig. As for the human factor Meyer and Love Hewitt are gag-producing sugary sweet while Connolly just makes a complete ass of himself as the dastardly villain. It’s kind of embarrassing actually --for everyone involved. It still boggles the mind the first Garfield grossed $75 million domestically. Yes it was an understandable endeavor since the comic strip has always been immensely popular and with the advent of CGI creating the Garfield we all know and love for the screen was finally possible. But the first Garfield was so mind-numbingly ridiculous you just have to wonder what the audiences saw in it. I guess maybe it had something to do with keeping 7-year-olds occupied. Of course all the studio execs saw were dollar signs so it stands to reason they’d make a sequel. It made money dammit so we have to do it again can’t you see that? OK so let’s say we go with that reasoning hoping maybe they’ll have realized their mistakes with the first and come up with something better. No such luck. I have feeling this time around however those same execs may be disappointed. In a summer full of far more stellar entertainment for the kiddies these Two Kitties are going to thankfully fall by the wayside and put an end to the franchise once and for all.
No Pope Endorsement For Gibson Film
Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, secretary to Pope John Paul II, said Tuesday
the 83-year-old pontiff never endorsed Mel Gibson's The Passion of
Christ saying, "It is as it was," after viewing the film, The Associated
Press reports. Dziwisz, who has served as the Pope's secretary during his 25-year term, confirmed that the John Paul II had indeed seen the controversial
film that depicts the last hours of Jesus' life, but he had made no such
statement that the film is accurate in its
portrayal of the crucifixion of Jesus. The Vatican press office has declined
to comment on the Pope's opinion of the film, stating they do not report on
"the private activities of the Pope." Gibson has long defended his film as
being faithful to the Biblical account of the crucifixion. Some Jewish
organizations have raised concerns about the film stirring up anti-Semitic
sentiment due to its portrayal of Jewish involvement in the death of Jesus.
The film opens on Ash Wednesday, February 25th.
Frances McDormand To Head Berlin Jury
Oscar winner Frances McDormand will head the seven-member jury at this
year's Berlin International Film Festival, AP reports. The indie-favorite actress is
currently starring in Something's Gotta Give which will play at the
festival out of competition. McDormand will join
Italian actress Valeria Bruni Tedeschi; Ethiopian director Maji-da Abdi;
Iranian director Samira Makhmalbaf; Italian director Gabriele Salvatores;
movie theater director Dan Talbot, and German film producer Peter Rommel to
select, among other awards, the winner of the Golden Bear top award. The festival runs February 5-15.
Dan Rather Treated for Skin Cancer
Dan Rather, longtime anchor of the CBS Evening News, said Monday he
had surgery to remove cancerous cells from his nose, AP reports. Rather has
been absent from the nightly newscast for several nights, but reappeared
Monday and spoke about his condition on the air. Basal skin cancer often
develops after years of prolonged skin exposure, but is highly treatable if
detected early. Rather urged viewers to be examined for skin cancer and said
the whole experience was "humbling." A full recovery for the 72-year-old is expected.
Moonves Orders More Survivors
In a less than shocking move, CBS chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves has
renewed the network's contract with Survivor until at least 2005,
according to The Hollywood Reporter. The new deal as well as the
locations of the ninth and tenth editions of the show were hammered out
while Moonves and Survivor creator Mark Burnett rode an escalator in
the hotel where the two are doing press for CBS. In addition to the new
Survivor shows, CBS has also ordered full seasons for freshman shows
Two and a Half Men and Navy NCIS. It was also announced that
CBS' hit CSI will spin off once again with CSI: New York.
Moonves has been criticized for some of his programming choices recently
namely his decision to pull the Reagan miniseries from CBS The
Reagans after the project came under fire. The biopic later aired on
sister pay channel Showtime. The new season of Survivor starring past
winners and popular contestants will begin airing following the Super Bowl
on February 1st.
Nick and Aaron's Mom Arrested
Jane Carter, mother of Backstreet Boy Nick Carter and poplet Aaron Carter, was arrested
Tuesday night and charged with battery after breaking into her estranged
husband's home and attacking his new girlfriend, Launch Radio Networks
reports. Ms. Carter allegedly broke into the house, walked into the bedroom
where Robert Carter and his girlfriend Ginger Elrod where sleeping. Ms.
Carter then allegedly pulled Ms. Elrod out of the bed by her hair and
proceeded to beat her with a remote control. Aaron's twin sister Angel was
present during the occurrence and told police she had indeed seen her mother
"physically beating" Ms. Elrod. Jane Carter is already in hot water with
Aaron, who charged that she removed $100,000 from his bank account
without his permission. This disagreement was resolved Sunday. Robert Carter
is now being sued for libel and breach of contract by talent manager Eliot
Weisman, who claims he was cut out of Aaron's career only after he had gotten
them representation at the William Morris Agency. Jane Carter's arraignment
hearing for the battery charge is February 3rd.
Kid's Choice Awards Nominees Named
Preteen pop favorites Bow Wow, Nick Cannon and Justin Timberlake will be at the
mercy of children when the Kid's Choice Awards are handed out for best male
singer April 3rd, AP reports. Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Lopez, Ashanti and
Hilary Duff will compete for best female singer. Best song contenders are
B2K for "Bump, Bump, Bump," Outkast for "Hey Ya," Beyonce for "Crazy in
Love," and "Where is the Love" by Black Eyed Peas.
Role Call: Baldwin To Direct Hoodz
Stephen Baldwin plans to make his directorial debut this summer with a project
based on his own idea, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Baldwin
revealed little about the upcoming project except that it will center around
the attempt by a Mexican-American skateboarder to rally his fellow skater
boys and girls to save their local skate park. Baldwin has a television
series in the works and would probably shoot the project, titled Robbin'
Hoodz, during that show's summer hiatus. Says Baldwin, "Commercially, no
one has accomplished something that truly speaks to the true subculture of