WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
In the late '50s a group of elementary students put futuristic drawings in a time capsule that is then buried on school grounds. One overly obsessed kid Lucinda goes her own way by writing hundreds of mysterious seemingly non-sensical numbers on her entry. Fifty years later it’s dug up and comes into the possession of Caleb the young son of John Koestler a recent widower and astro-physics professor who becomes obsessed with the papers Caleb has brought home from class. He soon discovers the random digits are actually not-so-thinly disguised dates (including 91101 of course) for “future” disasters and there are clearly three of those dates yet to come. Although nobody believes his ramblings about this code for impending doom a nearby plane crash proves he is on to something so ominous the fate of the world could be in jeopardy. With all hell about to break loose the prof takes matters into his own hands.
WHO’S IN IT?
Just a couple of years ago Nicolas Cage starred in Next as a magician who could see into the future and had to prevent a nuclear attack. Now he’s at it again as an MIT professor who also has clues to future catastrophes and also is out to prevent the inevitable. And of course in the National Treasure films he latched on to maps that had contained similarly dark deeply held secrets. Nic clearly likes “knowing” stuff before the rest of us and he’s quite believable even if some of the circumstances in his latest sci-fi adventure are really out there -- literally. Cage somehow makes you buy into this stuff which is key to the ultimate success of the flick. As the key kids Chandler Canterbury as Caleb and Lara Robinson as Lucinda (and later Abby Lucinda’s granddaughter) are properly eerie and haunted-looking. Rose Byrne is also along for the ride as Lucinda’s grown daughter who is able to provide goosebump-inducing information that the numbers alone can’t. There’s also some dead-on creepy emoting from D.G. Maloney as a quietly foreboding stranger who seems to be following Caleb.
Unlike some recent movies of this type with nothing on the agenda but pure mayhem “Knowing” delves into the bigger issues of why we are all here providing something other than just big explosions to talk about on the way home from the multiplex. Director Alex Proyas (I Robot Dark City The Crow) certainly knows how to pull off complex action set-pieces but he and his screenwriters also seem to be genuinely interested in exploring the meaning behind the madness.
Some of the more pedantic dialogue Cage is given can be groan-inducing but since he plays John as a total believer we can forgive it. Also the film falls victim to a final act that veers into typical disaster movie territory and isn’t as compelling as the first two thirds which try to keep the premise at least marginally credible. At two hours it probably could have been tightened anyway.
The rain-soaked plane crash sequence with its gritty hand-held photography is riveting to watch and one of the most frightening depictions of a jetliner disaster put on film yet.
GO OUT AND GET POPCORN WHEN ...
If you are really squeamish it might be worth "knowing" that you should take breaks in the big disaster sequences as the CGI effects can get pretty violent and graphic particularly for a PG-13 movie.
Wild horses couldn't keep Sharon Stone, Nick Nolte and other A-list celebrities from attending the premiere of the indie thriller "Simpatico," which benefited the American Foundation for AIDS Research.
"I'm the campaign chairman for the American Foundation for AIDS Research," said Stone. "I'm doing that because 32 million people are living with AIDS and 16.2 million have died already.
"If we don't do something by 2002, there will be 100 million people living with AIDS. I can't live with that. I'm trying to get people to pay attention."
"Simpatico" is the story of deceit, love and revenge set in the high-stakes of world of thoroughbred racing. The film is based on the Sam Shepard play, and all bets were placed on director Matthew Warchus to adapt "Simpatico" to the big screen.
"When it turns out to be Matthew Warchus directing, you can thank your lucky stars," said Stone.
With a screenplay that retained all of its original appeal and an award-winning theater director attached, it was easy for A-list actors Sharon Stone, Nick Nolte, Jeff Bridges and Albert Finney to spot a winning project.
"I knew about the play and knew Ed Harris did it on Broadway," said Nolte. "Sam was a little cynical. I called up Sam and said, 'I think this is gonna work.'
"He just joked, 'This will be the first time one of my plays translated well to film.' It takes a theater director like Warchus that can take a play, pull it out and visualize it."
The film also stars Kimberly Williams ("Father of the Bride"), Catherine Keener ("Living in Oblivion") and newcomer Liam Waite. In "Simpatico," Williams was posed with the challenge of playing a young Sharon Stone.
Possibly debilitating for any other young star, but when asked how it really was playing a young Stone, she just quipped, "She's (Stone) playing an older Kimberly Williams."
Keener, who is now on the fast track after the critical success of her role in "Being John Malkovich," arrived at the premiere with husband Dermot Mulroney ("My Best Friend's Wedding").
The real buzz at the premiere was mostly surrounding Stone's gorgeous Vera Wang beaded pants ("Check out my pants!") and hot newcomer Liam Waite.
In his first major feature role, Waite (son of Ralph Waite of "The Waltons") comes equipped with model good looks and a great set of acting genes.
"I play a young Jeff Bridges, explaining the story before it really happens. We're young kids trying to hustle the track and get caught doing it," said Waite.
At the premiere, Waite arrived arm-in-arm with fiancée Na tasha Henstridge ("Species") and memories of the moment he got cast for the breakthrough role.
"It was pretty wild. I had a hell of night. I had a baby boy and was waiting to rush to the hospital at any given moment. All while going into rotations of three, over and over, like football cuts," he said.
"Simpatico" rode into theaters Dec. 15.