Making an earnest cinematic argument for the immortality of the soul and the existence of an afterlife without delving into mushy sentimentality is a difficult task for even the most gifted and “serious” of filmmakers. Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson discovered as much last year when his sappy grandiose adaptation of the ethereal bestseller The Lovely Bones opened to scathing reviews. Critics by and large tend to bristle at movie renderings of what may or may not await them in that Great Arthouse in the Sky.
And yet filmmakers seem determined to keep trying. The latest to make the attempt is Clint Eastwood who throughout his celebrated directorial career has certainly demonstrated a firm grasp of the death part of the equation. His filmography with a few notable exceptions practically revels in it: of his recent oeuvre Invictus is the only work that doesn’t deal with mortality in some significant manner. With his new film Hereafter Eastwood hopes to add immortality to his thematic resume.
The film's narrative centers on three characters each of whom has intimate experience with death and loss. Their stories in true Eastwood fashion can ostensibly be labeled Sad Sadder and Saddest: Marie (Cecile de France) is a French TV news anchor who’s haunted by disturbing flashbacks after she loses consciousness — and briefly her life — during a natural disaster; George (Matt Damon looking credibly schlubby) is a former psychic whose skills as a medium are so potent (the slightest touch from another human being triggers an instant powerful psychic connection a la Rogue from X-Men) they’ve left him isolated and alone; Marcus is a London schoolboy who retreats into a somber shell after losing his twin brother in a tragic car accident (both brothers are played rather impressibly by real-life twins Frankie and George McLaren).
Humanity offers little help to these troubled souls surrounding them with skeptics charlatans users and deadbeats none of whom are particularly helpful with crises of an existential nature. Luckily there are otherworldly options. Peter Morgan's script assumes psychics out-of-body experiences and other such phenomena to be real and legitimate but in a non-denominational Coast-to-Coast AM kind of way. Unlike Jackson’s syrupy CGI-drenched glimpses of the afterlife Eastwood’s visions of the Other Side are vague and eery — dark fuzzy silhouettes of the departed set against a white background. Only Damon’s character George seems capable of drawing meaning from them which is why he’s constantly sought out by grief-stricken folks desperate to make contact with loved ones who’ve recently passed on. He’s John Edward only real (and not a douche).
Marie and Marcus appear destined to find him as well but only as the last stop on wearisome circuitous and often heartbreaking spiritual journeys that together with George’s hapless pursuit of a more temporal connection (psychic ability it turns out can be a wicked cock-blocker) consume the bulk of Hereafter’s running time. We know the three characters’ paths must inevitably intersect but Morgan’s script stubbornly forestalls this eventuality testing our patience for nearly two ponderous and maudlin hours and ultimately building up expectations for a climax Eastwood can’t deliver at least not without sacrificing any hope of credulity.
It should be noted that Hereafter features a handful of genuinely touching moments thanks in great part to the film's tremendous cast. And its finale is refreshingly upbeat. Unfortunately it also feels forced and terribly unsatisfying. Eastwood an established master of all things tragic and forlorn struggles mightily to mount a happy ending. (Which in my opinion is much more challenging than a sad or ambiguous one.) After prompting us to seriously ponder life’s ultimate question Eastwood’s final answer seems to be: Don’t worry about it.
The New World star Colin Farrell has slapped model Candace Smith with a lawsuit for conspiring to sell an X-rated sex tape he made with her friend Nicole Narain.
The 29-year-old alleges the model, who is a former Miss Ohio, conspired with Narain to distribute the tape.
Farrell's lawyer Paul Berra confirms, "Smith is now a main focal point of the case."
Narain is also a defendant in the lawsuit according to Hollywood website TMZ.com.
Smith appeared as a model on The Price Is Right in 2004 and also has a law degree from the University Law School in Chicago, Illinois.
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After much speculation as to what role, if any, Madonna will have in the next James Bond film, it has now been reported that the Material Mom will play a fencing instructor in Die Another Day. According to the fansite CommanderBond.net, Madonna--who will also perform the theme tune for the movie--recently filmed her cameo role at Pinewood Studios near London. The scene in the film involves James Bond dueling villain Gustav Graves and takes place at the Blades Club in London. Die Another Day director Lee Tamahori has previously revealed that Madonna was having Versace design a dress especially for her work in the film. The film, which stars Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry, is scheduled for release Nov. 22.
Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell married 33-year-old ballet dancer Charles Askegard July 4 on a beach in Nantucket, Mass., after an eight-week courtship. After the vows were said, Bushnell ran across the sand and leapt at Askegard, who caught her and held her above his head, The Associated Press reports.
The British tabloid Daily Mirror has begun its appeal against supermodel Naomi Campbell's successful High Court legal battle. Campbell won her breach of confidence and invasion of privacy case against the paper in March after it published a picture of her leaving a London Narcotics Anonymous meeting last year. But the Mirror's lawyer argued that people like Campbell, whom he described as a role model, should be exposed if they present an image that is based on lies, Reuters reports.
Richard Widmark, one of the few remaining actors from Hollywood's golden era, says Marilyn Monroe was difficult to work with, Reuters reports. The 87-year-old actor, who starred in Don't Bother To Knock with Monroe 50 years ago, told Monday's Daily Telegraph, "I liked Marilyn, but she was God-awful to work with. Impossible, really. She would hide in her dressing room and refuse to come out."
Colin Farrell, who co-stars in the sci-fi thriller Minority Report, will star in the big-screen adaptation of the '70s cop show S.W.A.T. for Columbia Pictures, Variety reports. Farrell will join Samuel L. Jackson, who signed on in the leading role in May. Scribe David Ayer, who penned The Fast and the Furious and Training Day, will write the script. Clark Johnson (HBO's The Wire) is set to direct.
Malcolm in the Middle star Jane Kaczmarek is in final negotiations with Regency Television to up her per-episode salary to about $100,000 in the show's upcoming fourth season and $150,000 in the 2003-04 season, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The new contract also includes a retroactive element giving her a salary bump to about $85,000 per episode for the 2001-02 season. The studio reportedly gave the cast salary bumps last fall but held off on full-blown contract negotiations until the show was sold in syndication.
After living in the United States for 10 years, rocker David Bowie said he would never live in his native Britain again because of the news media's obsession with celebrities and the invasion of privacy it brings, the AP reports. Bowie, who was in London promoting his new album Heathen, also criticized the music style of pop diva Kylie Minogue and chart topper Robbie Williams, saying, "You can't get away from that when you hit the shore, so I know all about the cruise-ship entertainment aspect of British pop."