Based on British mystery writer P.D. James’ rather downbeat novel Men takes place in the not-too-distant future where the world is definitely not right. In fact society is facing extinction since the human race has lost the ability to reproduce; there hasn’t been a new child born in 18 years. But as the tagline reads “…all that can change in a heartbeat.” While the rest of England is unraveling as civil unrest runs rampant a young woman named Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) is found miraculously pregnant and Theo (Clive Owen) a disillusioned government agent agrees to help secretly transport her to a sanctuary at sea where her child's birth may help scientists save the future of mankind. So sets in motion a race against time fraught with many horrific obstacles. Children of Men collects a first-rate cast. Leading the pack is Owen as yet another reluctant antihero. It’s a good part for the somewhat depressive actor who seems at ease when everything is going to hell around him (see Inside Man Closer etc.). Theo is initially drawn into the Kee conflict because his ex-wife a terrorist/activist--played with brief but quiet determination by Julianne Moore—asks him to. See they share their own personal tragedy so saving Kee and the baby becomes even more important to them. Newcomer Ashitey shines as Kee who really doesn’t understand at all what is happening to her but has a fair amount of spunk anyway. Other standouts include Chiwetel Ejiofor (Kinky Boots) as one of Moore’s compadres with his own nefarious agenda and Michael Caine as an old friend of Theo--a throwback to a more peaceful time. Representing both old and new school Ejiofor and Caine are actors you can simply put in any film and somehow they will make them that much better. But Children of Men’s true brilliance comes from its creator. Co-writer/director Alfonso Cuaron is simply one of the most exciting cinematic storytellers working today. No genre is out of his reach. He has done kiddie flicks (A Little Princess) sexy coming-of-age dramas (Y Tu Mama Tambien)—and even a splashy Harry Potter installment (Prisoner of Azkaban probably the best one so far). And now Men a futuristic thriller that he crafts with absolute bone-chilling effect. Cuaron’s world is not a very happy place with the skies consistently gray with pollution and violence injustice and human cruelty around every corner. When Theo and Kee are on the run you’re expecting the worst at any moment but that’s not really where Cuaron’s head is at. He wants us to have hope. As the director puts it in the film’s production notes “Humanity has an amazing talent for destruction. But also we can show solidarity and an ability to come through problems together. In the end Children of Men isn’t so much about humanity being destructive—its more about ideologies coming between people’s judgment and their actions that is at work in this story.” I couldn’t have said it any better.
Inspired by true events we are told Emily Rose's harrowing tale through her priest Father Moore (Tom Wilkinson). As sanctioned by the Catholic Church Father Moore tried to perform an exorcism on the girl but failed. On trial for what the prosecution calls Emily's "negligent murder " Father Moore isn't afraid to go to jail. He is just desperate to tell Emily's story--how this fresh-faced seemingly healthy 19-year-old farm girl (Jennifer Carpenter) goes off to college and comes back home speaking in tongues eating giant bugs and apparently inhabited by not just one but six separate demons who finally kill her. This is what Emily's family and Father Moore firmly believe happened to her. The medical community however claims Emily suffered from a combination of epilepsy and psychosis that without proper medication resulted in her death. In a case that will certainly further her career if she wins whip-smart defense lawyer Erin Bruner (Laura Linney) sets out to prove Father Moore only wanted to help. While the facts are laid out the underlying question as to whether supernatural and evil entities truly exist remains constant. Don't expect any answers.
The cast's riveting performances is the real reason why Emily Rose isn't an original TV movie. Through Linney (Kinsey) Wilkinson (In the Bedroom) and Campbell Scott (Roger Dodger) who plays the prosecuting attorney we get three varying views on the subject of demon possession. Erin represents those who just don't know what they believe and Linney does a convincing job portraying a woman who is trying to do her job but at the same time is bothered by how it's affecting her. As the prosecuting attorney Scott is the naysayer. He's a devout Methodist but he doesn't believe in the Catholic notion of possession and exorcism. And of course Father Moore is the true believer. Wilkinson doesn't play him as a crackpot; rather he gives the character a calm intelligence. He also shows us a man who has been deeply affected not only by his failure to help Emily but by his compulsion to tell her story to the rest of the world. Then there's Carpenter as the tortured Emily. Apparently after director Scott Derrickson saw what the young newcomer could do with her body and voice to make being invaded by demons believable (pay close attention to her hands) he knew he would need very little special effects. Carpenter does an amazing job--without ever spewing green goo.
More than just a head-spinning pea-soup-vomiting horror flick Emily Rose roots its terror in reality which in a way makes it creepier. Now I'm not saying The Exorcist isn't one of the most frightening movies ever made but Derrickson who also co-wrote Emily Rose takes the horrifying idea of demon possession and turns it into something less graphic and more thought provoking. To begin with it's a little unnerving to know the Catholic Church is taking exorcisms pretty seriously. You might scratch your head on this one wondering if angels and demons really do exist. If at 3 a.m. the witching hour does indeed begin then the smell of something burning (sulfur perhaps?) means the demons have come out to play. Still in analyzing Emily's case through a courtroom the movie leans toward those soapbox Perry Mason-style speeches about fact vs. faith. Some of them work and are executed with full effect especially Erin's closing argument. But you know that if the same film starred Melissa Gilbert and Richard Chamberlain it'd be on the USA Network.
Fired CSI actor wants back in
Actor George Eads, who, along with actress Jorja Fox, was fired from the hit CBS series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation last week for failing to show up to work, called the dismissal a "big misunderstanding," The Associated Press reports. At the Television Critics Association meeting Wednesday in Los Angeles, Eads, who was there to promote his upcoming TNT movie Evel Knievel, told the group he wasn't staging a salary holdout when he missed work, as CBS and its chief Leslie Moonves have claimed--Eads says he simply overslept. "They think it's about money and it's not," Eads said. "I overslept…I woke up white as a sheet 3-1/2 hours after I was supposed to be on the set." AP reports Eads said he wants to speak with Moonves to resolve the issue but had yet to reach him. "Let me tell you, I've apologized nine ways to Sunday. It's a big misunderstanding, straight up," the actor said. "I want all this to work out. CSI is a part of who I am."
Ronstadt gets asked back to casino
After being summarily booted from the Aladdin hotel-casino in Las Vegas over the weekend for her complimentary comments about Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, singer Linda Ronstadt was welcomed back by one of the hotel's partners, AP reports. Planet Hollywood CEO Robert Earl, said he'd like to take Moore up on the filmmaker's offer to join Ronstadt on Aladdin's stage and sing "America the Beautiful" when Earl's management team takes control of the bankrupt casino, as early as September. "We respect artists' creativity and support their rights to express themselves…and we will continue with that policy once we take ownership," Earl said in a statement Wednesday. Current Aladdin president Bill Timmins, who is British, had Ronstadt escorted off the property after her concert because she called Moore a "great American patriot" during a prelude to her encore.
More on rockers who speak out…
Winding up her summer tour across Europe, singer Bonnie Raitt added her own two cents about President Bush, dedicating her song "Your Good Thing (Is About To End)," AP reports. At the Stockholm Jazz Festival Tuesday, Raitt declared, "We're gonna sing this for George Bush because he's out of here, people!" which drew thunderous applause.
It's the Tom and Jerry show
In an odd pairing, Tom Green and Jerry Springer are developing a "week in review"-style program tentatively dubbed Fairly Unbalanced for Lions Gate Television. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the show would feature the eccentric comedian-actor and raucous talk show host discussing headlines and newsmakers and generally offering their observations on political and pop culture-oriented topics. "We've conceived this as a weekly series that reviews current events and pop culture in a populist way from the off-center perspective of two larger-than-life, outrageous, irreverent and endearing personalities, who don't always agree," Lions Gate Television's president Kevin Beggs told the Reporter. "It will be informative yet entertaining. Just the thought of these two guys together makes you laugh."
Dick dating Assistant contestant
Comedian Andy Dick admits he was dating one of the female contestants from his hit MTV reality show The Assistant, AP reports. Dick let the cat out of the bag during a radio interview with Howard Stern Monday and was confirmed by Dick's publicist, Nicole Chabot, who told AP, "They've gone out on a couple of times post-show." According to Stern's official Web site, after The Assistant wrapped, Dick "gave everyone his cell phone number and some of the girls called him to hang out. Now he's seeing one of the girls from the show, but he's not ready to settle down with just one girl." The MTV show features an egocentric Dick bullying 12 young people hoping to make it in the entertainment industry. The winner receives a new wardrobe, car and an entry-level Hollywood gig.
SAG sells films in foreclosure
The Screen Actors Guild is selling the rights to seven small films in an effort to recover more than $400,000 in residuals owed to actors such as Kevin Bacon, Calista Flockhart and David Bowie, AP reports. Even though disputes are typically resolved using arbitration or other methods, SAG said these recent sales mark the first time the union has taken advantage of a clause in its contract with producers that allows SAG to foreclose on a film if royalties remain unpaid. Among the films are The Linguini Incident, a 1991 film featuring Rosanna Arquette and Bowie; Blood Money, a 1996 film with James Brolin; and Telling Lies in America, a 1997 film with Bacon and Flockhart.
DreamWorks Animation goes public
DreamWorks is moving forward with an initial public offering of its animation unit, which will offer fresh funds and a higher profile to the studio's most promising business, Variety reports. In a filing Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, DreamWorks--which was founded almost a decade ago by Jeffrey Katzenberg, David Geffen and Steven Spielberg--said it plans to sell up to $650 million worth of stock in DreamWorks Animation, which will become a publicly traded company seeking the exalted status and lofty trading multiples of rival Pixar. Katzenberg will be CEO of the new company, which he and Geffen will control though a special class of supervoting stock. Spielberg will not have an operating role in the new company but will concentrate instead on DreamWorks live-action division, which is remaining a private company.
Composer Jerry Goldsmith Dies
Academy-Award winning composer Jerry Goldsmith, best known for his scores for classic movies and television such as The Omen, Chinatown and the Star Trek series, died in Los Angeles after a long battle with cancer. He was 75.
Frampton sues over bikini shot
Rocker Peter Frampton is suing popular surfwear manufacturer Billabong for selling a bikini that features his face on the rear and the phrase "Baby, I love your waves," Reuters reports. The British-born singer, 54, is seeking unspecified damages and an injunction to stop sales of the "Frampton Bikini" saying the phrase is "an obvious reference" to his 1975 hit record "Baby, I Love Your Way."
After catching her live-in boyfriend in a compromising position Amanda sets out to find a new place to live. She ends up rooming with four supermodels (Shalom Harlow Ivana Milicevic Sarah O'Hare and Tomiko Fraser) whose apartment has a great view -- especially of Jim the "perfect guy" across the way. When Amanda in a "Rear Window"- type scenario witnesses Jim committing what she thinks is a murder she sets out to prove that he did it. However to her surprise she ends up falling head over heels (literally a lot of the time) for him instead.
The chemistry between Prinze and Potter is near perfect. Potter does a great job of playing a klutzy girl who can't seem to stay on her feet long enough to have a conversation with Jim. But then again who could? Prinze exudes his usual charm and winning smile while at the same time showing great comic timing. The more pivotal moments with the four models who are "struggling " as they like to say are well done and surprisingly hysterical. Who needs a drama when you can have four models who are actually funny?
Director Mark S. Waters and Prinze Jr. are together again after their 1997 film "The House of Yes." "Head Over Heels" is a cross between "Fatal Attraction " "An Officer and a Gentleman" and "There's Something About Mary " which means it's a bit muddled in its direction. Waters tries a little too hard for the shock value while at the same time trying to convey romantic comedy elements almost overshadowing the performances of the actors. But hey then again we get to see supermodels covered in poop. Priceless. Still the fairly clever and darker script plus the winning chemistry between the lead actors makes it worthwhile.