This film is based on Elegy for Iris literary critic John Bayley's biography of his late wife the brilliant writer and philosopher Iris Murdoch. Iris is unconventional in the sense that it does not adhere to a structured plot or story line but instead focuses on their relationship by flashing back and forth between the present and 40 years ago when the two first met. In the sequences taking place in the past Kate Winslet plays a young confident Murdoch in her formative years a woman revered by men and openly bisexual. Hugh Bonneville plays the young and apprehensive Bayley hopelessly pursuing her. The present however reveals a drastic role reversal for the couple: We see Murdoch in her 70s as played by Judi Dench and witness her descent into Alzheimer's disease and the toll it takes on her husband played by Jim Broadbent. The once-subservient husband has been thrust into a caretaker position and painfully tries to cope with his beloved wife's illness and loss of sanity.
Dench deservedly received a best actress Oscar nomination for the fabulous job she does as the older Murdoch. She is convincing as a brilliant thinker and even more believable as her condition worsens--check out the heartbreaking scene when Bayley locks himself in the study to get away from her irrational behavior and she scratches the windowpane on the glass door like a cat while looking at her husband with utter helplessness. Dench conveys her character's vulnerability in a single glance. As an older Bayley Broadbent is as impressive as Dench especially as he struggles to be assertive yet avoid being too harsh. Bonneville as a young Bayley could almost be Broadbent's clone. At first glance he looks like the same actor made to look older through some sort of makeup or special effects wizardry. Bonneville skillfully hatches the young Bayley's traits and tics later perfected by Broadbent. Winslet also Oscar-nominated for Iris (in the supporting actress category) well plays Murdoch's early audacity and boldness.
Director Richard Eyre does a beautiful and seamless job flowing from the past to the present throughout the film. Although the film barely delves into Murdoch's work the importance of her writing is established with scenes from a BBC interview or a luncheon given in her honor. Eyre also does an exceptional job conveying Bayley's hopeless predicament: he fusses over Murdoch like an overprotective parent intermittently lashing out at her only to apologize sobbing afterward for having done so. It's sweet and pitiful especially since Bayley believes that the Iris he fell in love with is still in there somewhere. But while the film is visually exquisite and convincing the subject matter is not necessarily entertaining. We know Murdoch will eventually succumb to her illness but it's even more dreadful to have to watch every agonizing step. By the time Murdoch was reduced to playing in the dirt and watching Teletubbies I found myself wondering When is she going to die already?
Bobby Garfield (David Morse) returns to his small hometown to attend the funeral of his childhood friend and remembers the fateful summer in 1960 when his whole world changed. The story flashes back to when 11-year-old Bobby (Anton Yelchin) and his best friends Carol (Mika Boorem) and Sully-John (Will Rothhaar) capture the pure joy of youthfulness. When a mysterious stranger named Ted Brautigan (Anthony Hopkins) moves upstairs and starts to pay attention to Bobby the boy suddenly realizes what's truly missing from his life--the love of a parent. Bobby's mother Liz (Hope Davis) is embittered by the death of Bobby's father and shows little compassion for her son's growing needs. Ted fills a void with the boy opening his eyes to the world around him and helps Bobby come to terms with his real feelings for Carol--and his mother. But Ted also has some deep dark secrets of his own and Bobby tries hard to stop danger from reaching the old man.
The performances make the film especially in the genuine camaraderie of the kids. Yelchin Boorem and Rothhaar never deliver a false move with an easiness that makes us believe we are simply watching three 11-year-old children grow up together. Yelchin in particular is able to get right to the heart of this young boy who misses his father and clings to the only adult who will listen. And his scenes with Boorem simply break your heart. (Davis) does an admirable job playing a part none too sympathetic. She manages to show a woman whose been beaten down but who does truly love her son in her own way. Morse too is one of those character actors you can plug in any movie and get a performance worth noting. In Hearts you want to see more of him. Of course the film shines brightest when Hopkins is on the screen. It may not be an Oscar-caliber performance but the actor is unparalleled in bringing a character to life--showing the subtleties of an old man looking for some peace in his life.
If you are expecting the Stephen King novel you may be disappointed. Screenwriter William Goldman and director Scott Hicks (Shine) deftly extracted the King formula of telling a story through a child's eye and explaining how the relationships formed as a child shaped the adult later. Hicks did an amazing job with his young actors especially Yelchin and Boorem. But where the novel continued into a supernatural theme explaining Brautigan's fear of being captured by "low men in yellow coats" (a reference to King's The Dark Tower series) the movie downplayed the mystical elements instead giving real explanations for Brautigan's man-on-the-run. That was the one problem with Hearts--we needed more danger. Introducing men from another dimension may not have been the way to go but had there been more tension the film would have resonated more especially when Bobby risked his own safety to save Ted.
Actress Anne Heche will go on national television tonight to talk about how the sexual abuse she suffered from her father until she was 12 drove her "insane," Reuters reported.
"I remember entering the bed with him many times. I went through fighting to get him off me. I went through screaming at my mother. I went through the terror of thinking I was going to die. I went through thoughts of wanting to die," the actress confesses.
Heche, 32, who married cameraman Coleman Laffoon on Saturday, also tells Barbara Walters on ABC's 20/20 that she suffered from a split personality. Her alter ego's name was Celestia and she talked to God.
The actress will also talk about her mental breakdown, which lasted until after her breakup with comedian Ellen DeGeneres, who she touts as "the best sex I ever had," The New York Post reported.
Oscar-winning actress Geena Davis married her surgeon boyfriend of two years, Dr. Reza Jarrahy, 30, on Saturday in a small private ceremony in Wainscott, N.Y., her publicist has confirmed. "We are very happy and we look forward to spending the rest of our lives together," the couple said in a brief statement. This is the fourth marriage for Davis, 45, who was previously married to restaurant manager Richard Emmolo, actor Jeff Goldblum and director Renny Harlin.
The four-foot, one-inch tall Howard Stern sidekick known as "Hank the Dwarf" died Tuesday at the age of 39. The cause of his death is still undisclosed. Hank appeared more than two dozen times on the Howard Stern radio show, always wearing his infamous pink bunny suit. Ironically, he was voted the Most Beautiful Person in the World in People magazine's 1998 poll.
Reverend Gesner Jean, a Newark minister and father of the hip-hop star Wyclef Jean died at a South Orange, N.J. hospital after an accident that pinned him between his garage door and a car. Police are still investigating the accident, The Associated Press reported.
The Gospel Music Association announced on Tuesday that it will induct the king of rock n' roll, Elvis Presley, into its Hall of Fame. Presley will be honored along with other musicians including Doris Akers, Wendy Bagwell & The Sunliters, Keith Green, Kurt Kaiser, Larry Norman, The Rambos and Albertina Walker. "This year's class of inductees is outstanding and represents the wide diversity and musical heritage of Christian and gospel music," GMA President Frank Breeden told AP. The induction ceremony will take place in Nashville, Tenn. on Nov. 27.
Kenneth Branagh received an honorary degree on Sunday from The University of Birmingham for helping to popularize the work of William Shakespeare, Reuters reported. The actor has brought Shakespeare's plays to mainstream audiences in film adaptations such as Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing. "I am delighted to be associated with an institute that has done so much to further cooperation between the theatre and academic life," Branagh said in a statement.
Director Spike Lee will be honored by the Directors Guild of America on Nov. 17 for "ushering in a climate of newfound respect for African-American filmmakers and actors," USA Today reported on Tuesday.
Eminem and his mentor, Dr. Dre, will take the stage at the Michael Jackson 30-year celebration, being held on Sept. 7 and 10 at New York's Madison Square Garden, ABCNEWS.com reported. It is still unclear what the rapper will perform at the event.
Mariah Carey has postponed a Sept. 12 interview with ABC News' Barbara Walters because "she needs more time to rest," Carey's spokeswoman Cindi Berger said in a statement. The 31-year-old singer has been staying with her mother since she was treated at a Connecticut clinic last month for exhaustion. No new date for the interview was given.
Nicole Kidman has joined British singer Robbie Williams on a duet of Frank Sinatra's classic, "Something Stupid," on his Swing When You're Winning Sinatra tribute album. Reuters reported. Williams invited the actress to sing on the album after he heard her singing for the film Moulin Rouge. "I have no desire to be a singer. I just did that for fun. I think he's very talented. I had a giggle," Kidman told Reuters.
Tom Cruise ranks 26th among the Top 50 leaders of the information age according to a list compiled by Vanity Fair magazine this month. Cruise is the only actor and one of the highest new entrants on a list dominated by entertainment and technology companies, Reuters reported. The magazine has called Cruise "one of the savviest businessmen in Hollywood," saying that he negotiated a back-end deal on last year's Mission: Impossible 2 that earned him about $75 million.
ABC is working on a musical adaptation of 1984's Footloose, which could air as a two-hour movie as early as next May, Reuters reported. Unlike the film, however, the characters will actually sing the songs in the movie. The network also announced last week that it is developing updates of Grease, Annie and Cinderella.
After Warner Bros. purchased the movie rights to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter, the studio commented that they had wanted director Steven Spielberg to take part in the project, hoping he'd turn the film into a major franchise, People magazine reported. Spielberg, however, said that the project wasn't challenging enough for him to undertake. "I purposely didn't want to do the Harry Potter movie because for me, that was shooting ducks in a barrel. Just a slam dunk," he told Vanity Fair magazine. "It's just like withdrawing a billion dollars and putting it into your personal bank accounts. There is no challenge," he said.
So which musical legend could buy "Survivor" champion Richard Hatch 750 times over (not that he'd want to)?
Here's a hint: His daughter is an award-winning fashion designer.
Former Beatle Paul McCartney is the highest-earning rock star in history with an estimated personal worth of $750 million, Business Age magazine reports.
McCartney has accumulated the large sum from album sales, royalties, stocks and property holdings, the British magazine says. A new album of No. 1 songs by the Beatles was released Nov. 13 and is sure to add to his personal value.
Other top earners include: Elton John ($250 million), Mick Jagger ($225 million), Keith Richards ($220 million), David Bowie ($145 million) and, um, Engelbert Humperdinck ($100 million).
"Age accounts for everything in this survey," Business Age editor Chris Butt told the New York Post. "The real route to financial success is down to a star's 'classic' status."
Oh, by the way, that award-winning daughter turned fashion designer? Stella McCartney, of course.
It's a long way til Super Bowl Sunday, but CBS execs -- God bless them -- are finally giving tube watchers a little something to fight their collective withdrawal.
And no, we ain't talking about football. For to our TV nation, there exists a certain phenomenon much more inexplicably addictive than sports, and it is called "Survivor: The Australian Outback."
Yes. After much media hype and requisite hush-hush, the Eye Network has unveiled this morning the 16 contestants on the sequel to its uber-bankable reality series, which debuts after the Super Bowl on Jan. 28.
The breakdown is as follows: Eight men and eight women (three of them married) ranging from a young pup at age 22 to a more seniorly age 53.
In terms of their occupations, there is an administrative assistant, two bartenders, a chef, a singer-songwriter, a Harvard law student, a personal trainer, an Army intelligence officer, an auto customizer, a corrections officer, a retired cop, a footware designer, a software publisher, an Internet project manager, a part-time nurse/homemaker and a farmer/teacher.
Taping of the Australia-set show was completed long before its air date, with the million-dollar winner and losers already determined. But those facts alone never stopped an average 28 million viewers from getting hooked on the first "Survivor." If anything, the measures to keep the outcome secret egged viewers (not to mention naysayers, speculators and spoilers) on even more.
And judging from fan reactions, reception to "Survivor 2" is going to be just as contentious, if not ratings-sweeping, as the network would hope.
"[I] caught a tantalizing glimpse of the new contestants for "Survivor 2: The Outback" on 'The Early Show' this morning. They've got a couple hot guys this time ... more babes than the last 'Survivor'…," one netizen wrote in the Deja.com chat room alt.musi.yes.
Another netizen contested.
"What's the point of seeing them before the show airs?" the chat roomer said. "Part of the fun was watching the show unfold and the 'characters' come out of their shells. Having preconceived notions about who these people are seems to ruin some of the enjoyment."
Either way, before you know it the nation will soon be addressing these televised 16 by their first names and know their idiosyncrasies by heart.
So take out your pen and paper. Here are their profiles:
Rodger Bingham -- 53, married, from Crittenden, Ky. Rodger is a teacher and also a self-described workaholic.
Amber Brkich -- 22, single, from Beaver, Pa. Amber is currently working as an administrative assistant. Among her many favorite activities are dancing, going out with her friends and ex-sorority sisters and just plain having fun.
Nick Brown -- 23, single, from Steilacoom, Wash. Nick is in his second year at Harvard Law School and hopes to become an Army officer after graduation. As he tells it, he is compassionate, incisive and ambitious.
Alicia Calaway -- 32, single, from New York. Alicia is a personal trainer who describes herself as charismatic, competent and passionate.
Colby Donaldson -- 26, single, from Dallas. Colby is a custom auto designer and builder who describes himself as imaginative, dedicated and flexible.
Maralyn Hershey -- 51, single, from Wakefield, Va. Maralyn is a retired police officer who describes herself as determined, dramatic and multi-faceted. And oh, she was one of the first women officers to be assigned to walking the beat.
Debb Eaton -- 45, single, from Milan, N.H. Debb is a corrections officer at a men's prison. Besides a son working as a Marine sergeant in China, Debb also has an outgoing, athletic and determined attitude toward life.
Elizabeth Filarski -- 23, single, from Boston. Elizabeth is a footwear designer who describes herself as impulsive, intuitive and devoted.
Keith Famie -- 40, divorced, from West Bloomfield, Mich. Keith is a chef and restaurateur -- or in other words, a cook who owns his own restaurant. Much like his cohorts, he says that he is creative, adventurous and passionate.
Kel Gleason -- 32, single, from Fort Hood, Texas. Kel is an Intelligence Officer in the U.S. Army. Unlike the others, he didn't offer a self-description. But if it's at all telling, Gel likes to camp, fish and kayak with his dad.
Kimmi Kappenberg -- 28, single, from Ronkonkoma, N.Y. Kimmi is a bartender (no, not the bar in "Coyote Ugly") in the Big Apple who likes to think of herself as spontaneous, outgoing and creative.
Jerri Manthey -- 30, single, from Los Angeles. Like Kimmi, Jerri is also a bartender, but in her case, an aspiring actress as well. She would like people to know that she is adventurous, fun loving and spontaneous.
Mitchell Olson -- 23, single, from Union City, N.J. Mitchell is an aspiring singer/songwriter who describes himself as witty, outgoing and sexy -- albeit tongue-in-cheekly. For sure, Mitchell will stand high above everyone else since he is 7 feet tall.
Michael Skupin -- 38, married, from White Lake, Mich. Michael is the president of a software publishing company that he founded. He says that he is adventurous, a thrill seeker and a risk taker.
Jeff Varner -- 34, single, from New York. Jeff is an Internet project manager who describes himself as provocative, energetic and competitive.
Tina Wesson -- 40, married, from Knoxville, Tenn. Tina is a part-time nurse and a full-time mom. Her self-description: happy, content, adventurous, outgoing and very much in love.
Let the backstabbing and bickering begin.