It’s 1585 and Elizabeth Tudor (Blanchett) is well into her third decade as Queen of England slightly older but just as exquisite—and just as wary of the enemies at her gate. Led by Spain’s Philip II (Jordi Molla) a fundamentalist Catholic movement is sweeping 16th century Europe and they view Elizabeth as a Protestant heretic. Philip and his supporters have rallied round Elizabeth’s exiled Catholic cousin Mary Stuart Queen of Scots (Samantha Morton) waiting for their chance to usurp the Virgin Queen’s throne and restore Catholicism in England. The queen’s trusted advisor Sir Francis Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush) keeps the wolves at bay but Elizabeth is in constant danger. She finds some comfort in the company of her favorite lady-in-waiting Bess (Abbie Cornish) as well as the dashing explorer Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen) whom Elizabeth sees not only as an intellectual and spirited equal but also as a way to glimpse into the unexplored globe’s infinite freedom—something the Queen can never have. But when an assassination plot goes awry Elizabeth shifts her energies back to her country setting off a chain of events that will change the course of history. Just like the Queen Elizabeth herself Blanchett is also slightly older but wiser and even more poised and beautiful than she was playing the Virgin Queen the first time in the 1998 Elizabeth. That film helped put the actress on the map and gave her her first Oscar nomination—and a second nomination for playing the same character shouldn’t be far behind. Blanchett gives this enigmatic queen such flawed humanity. She’s all at once regal sarcastic knowing jealous and loving—and above all a true queen to her people. Although The Golden Age is clearly Blanchett’s movie the supporting cast is also superb especially Rush whose aging Walshingham isn’t nearly as aggressive as he was in Elizabeth but still formidable and Owen as the charismatic Raleigh who clicks in more ways than one with Blanchett. By God Queen Elizabeth needed a real man and if Raleigh had had any royal lineage she may have married him. Instead she has to pawn him off on Bess--played sweetly but blandly by Cornish (A Good Year)--and live vicariously through them until their union gets the better of her and she banishes them. Elizabeth is a woman after all. Morton too does an admirable job as the doomed Queen Mary heaving breasts and stoic resolve to her ultimate demise. As with his original Oscar-winning Elizabeth director Shekhar Kapur clearly loves the splendor and pageantry of the 16th century royal court and serves up another visual treat with The Golden Age. The costumes are once again spectacular as are the sets. The battle between the British navy and the Spanish Armada is particularly stunning especially as a victorious Elizabeth stands on a high bluff wind blowing looking into the horizon at a sea of burning Spanish ships. Highly effective. Kapur isn’t very subtle in his depiction of the bad guys either. King Philip is almost Golum-like walking in a weird way mumbling and constantly rubbing his rosary beads. At any moment you expect him to hiss “My precioussssssss.” Creepy. But where Kapur’s Golden Age fails is in its pacing. While the first Elizabeth was intriguing in the making of a queen Golden Age plods through Elizabeth’s anxieties and insecurities even if Cate Blanchett is riveting in almost every frame. Things only really get going when Elizabeth forgets about being a lonely woman and gets her head in the war game. There’s also the fact that the masses may have had their fill of historical movies about this time period—from HBO’s excellent Elizabeth I (which is in essence the same story) to even Showtime’s The Tudors. Chalk this Golden Age up to bad timing.
Ewan McGregor is Christian a romantic at heart who moves to the seedy Montmartre district of Paris to become a playwright. He and the raucous bunch of Bohemians he meets which includes artist Toulouse Lautrec (John Leguizamo) develop a stage musical to star the seductively beautiful Satine (Nicole Kidman) a famous courtesan and the Moulin Rouge's principal singer. The minute Christian lays eyes on Satine he's infatuated--and she winds up falling deeply in love with him despite herself. But the evil English duke (Richard Roxburgh) who is funding their show will only do so for a price-he's obsessed with Satine and wants her for himself.
Since much of this story is told via song (modern pop tunes and a few originals) the pressure was on the two leads to carry it off. Rumor has it Heath Ledger and Catherine Zeta-Jones were once the frontrunners for these roles--this movie certainly doesn't suffer without them. Nicole Kidman reveals herself a lovely singer particularly when performing "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" while suspended over the Moulin Rouge audience. Hunky Ewan McGregor as the heartbreakingly honest Christian is truly outstanding with a radiant smile and surprisingly beautiful singing voice to boot (who knew?). John Leguizamo overdoes it a wee bit as does Richard Roxburgh as the Duke but it's all in the crazy-quilt spirit of the film.
A shiny sparkling pinwheel of a production Moulin Rouge might be the most gorgeous movie you'll ever lay eyes upon. The costumes are fabulous (dolled up Nicole Kidman makes them positively breathtaking) as are the fairy tale sets and Goya-esque makeup. Mainstream audiences will likely reject director Baz Luhrmann's irreverence and whimsy; some scenes are overlong some are so swoopily herky-jerky your head spins. But Luhrmann may have done what hasn't been done since The Sound of Music in 1965--created a successful live-action musical one that could reinvent the genre. A gravelly voiced Boho warbles The Police's "Roxanne" as dancers tango; David Bowie does Nat "King" Cole's "Nature Boy"; and you've never seen Madonna's "Like a Virgin" performed quite this way before.
February 25, 2002 10:37am EST
Oscar winner Barry Levinson (Bandits) received the Golden Eddie for filmmaker of the year Sunday at the 52nd American Cinema Editors Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Pietro Scalia won best edited dramatic feature for Black Hawk Down while Jill Bilcock won best edited comedy or musical for Moulin Rouge, reports The Hollywood Reporter. The television categories were dominated by HBO editors, which won three of the six awards. Veteran editors George Watters and Antony Gibbs received lifetime achievement awards.
Even after the 25th anniversary of his death, Elvis Presley is still drawing controversy. Elvis Presley Enterprises has licensed a company to replace George Washington on some of Tennessee's 2002 quarters with a color illustration of Presley. While defacing U.S. currency is considered a misdemeanor crime, the King of Rock 'n' Roll quarters are in a gray area because they are not part of a deceptive scheme, the Associated Press reports.
Harrison Ford, who divorced screenwriter Melissa Mathison last year, was seen strolling down Madison Ave. with Ally McBeal star Calista Flockhart, bundled in winter jackets and wearing blue jeans and caps. According to PageSix.com, the also couple attended a post-Globes party together, and when the waifish Flockhart spilled red wine on her dress, Ford kissed her on the cheek and told bystanders, "She's a beautiful girl."
Madonna has refused to accept a Lifetime Achievement Award this year, worried that it might make her seem old and out of date. According to People, the 43-year-old singer was asked to accept the award in recognition of her 18-year career that started in 1984. Instead, the award went to Sting, who insisted the title of the award be changed to Outstanding Contribution before he'd accept it.
Tom Cruise is indeed sporting see-through braces, his spokeswoman Pat Kingsley told Reuters. After taking one of his kids to an orthodontist in Beverly Hills, the doctor noticed that Cruise's bite was out of alignment. The 39-year-old actor will likely have the braces on for a year or so but will take them off for movies.
Sylvester Stallone saved his pregnant wife, model Jennifer Flavin, and good friend Mira Sorvino from a stalled elevator after the two women were stuck between floors in the backstage elevator. The incident occurred during the Entertainment Industry Foundation's Love Rocks party last Thursday at the new Kodak Theater in Hollywood. Stallone took off his jacket and manually pried open the doors with his own hands, pulling the women to safety, according to myvideostore.com.
Singer Kylie Minogue told British talk-show host Michael Parkinson that she intends to marry boyfriend James Gooding, reports Sky News. Minogue, who has had a string of high-profile relationships including late INXS frontman Michael Hutchence, said she has found happiness with the British model.
Anjelica Huston has been added to the cast of Blood Work, a new suspense-thriller from Warner Bros. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film is based on the novel by Michael Connelly and stars Clint Eastwood as an FBI profiler tracking a serial killer under unusual circumstances involving his own history and blood analysis. Eastwood is also helming the film, which began filming Tuesday in Los Angeles.
Paul McCartney returned home to Liverpool, England, for a surprise appearance Sunday at a tribute concert for George Harrison, Reuters reports. The audience joined McCartney in an impromptu version of "Yesterday" in memory of the late Beatle, who died of cancer last year at the age of 58.
Don't expect Paul McCartney's wedding to Heather Mills next month to be a showy affair. A friend of McCartney told Scotland's Sunday Mail that the couple considered marrying in Skibo Castle, near Dornoch--where Madonna married director Guy Ritchie a year ago--but decided to go for something simpler instead, either at a small church or register office. The couple got engaged last July after meeting two years ago at an awards dinner.
The Screen Actors Guild and the Association of Talent Agents reached a tentative agreement Monday that would allow talent agencies to make and receive investments in companies involved in production, reports AP. The current rules, which went into place in 1939, were drafted to prevent conflicts of interest and protect actors from exploitation by talent agencies working for either producers or movie studios. Movie studios and television networks, however, would still be banned from owning or investing in a talent agency.