Misery loves the Savages--always has. Ever since they were kids Wendy (Laura Linney) and Jon Savage (Philip Seymour Hoffman) have been plagued by the blasé blues. Even though they went their separate ways the siblings have remained somewhat close geographically--she lives in Manhattan he in Buffalo--and in their discontentment. But what made them this way in the first place their father (Philip Bosco) is about to reunite them. After losing his mind to dementia and his longtime girlfriend (Rosemary Murphy) to well death the old man officially needs to be looked after and that’s where Jon and Wendy reluctantly come in. Despite having not seen their estranged father in ages they fly out to his Arizona senior-citizen-friendly community immediately upon word of his downfall. What they didn’t plan on however is staying more than a couple days. Ultimately they take him back to Buffalo and place him in a nursing home about which Wendy constantly feels guilty. Now forced to live together and look in the metaphorical mirror the siblings Savage learn about self-discovery mortality each other and how to revive a decades-old rivalry as though it had never gone away. Given the way Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman constantly one-up each other in The Savages you’d think there was a real sibling rivalry at play. Of course it’s merely two of today’s very best actors giving par-for-the-course flawless performances. In so doing they create something beyond chemistry: a relationship so fractured and imperfectly perfect that it could only exist between an aging brother and sister. Whether the scene calls for fireworks or subtlety solo or together Linney and Hoffman are always up to the task. Linney is especially wide-ranging as Wendy still fights her midlife crisis. The veteran actress is often heartbreaking because Wendy is often heartbroken even when she tries to convince herself otherwise but Linney still manages to leave the window of hope cracked open--for us and her character. She truly encompasses everything in this her best performance to date. Hoffman is slightly more of a supporting player here but no less impactful. The Oscar winner is apathetic through much of the film but his terse outbursts of anger and/or sadness are stark reminders of his awe-inspiring range as an actor. Perhaps the most savage Savage is the patriarch played with grace by longtime actor Bosco. But instead of vilifying Lenny or making him worthy of all your pity Bosco makes him a rollercoaster of emotion as per Lenny's dementia. It’s been nine years since writer-director Tamara Jenkins’ last--and only other--feature-length film the twisted coming-of-age tale Slums of Beverly Hills which has given her plenty of time to think grow older and think about growing older. She philosophizes aloud in The Savages a movie that addresses everything you don’t want to but with a sardonic edge to it; in fact maybe this is as much a coping mechanism for her as it is an artistic endeavor. While the movie is primarily about the title siblings it essentially explores the human condition under their guise. But Jenkins does so in a way that is never preachy never obnoxious never sappy and always astutely observed. It’s her naturalistic approach to moviemaking that will turn what is ultimately a sharp dramedy into too much of a downer to please casual moviegoers looking for lighthearted fare in wintertime--this is NOT Little Miss Sunshine--but those who go in looking for a drama will be moved occasionally to laughter. Because The Savages is that rare deep movie: heavy on symbolism and meaning light on pretense and contrivance.
As the fifth year at Hogwarts begins most of the wizardry world is having a hard time believing Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has returned further propagated by the Ministry of Magic who refuses to recognize anything evil is brewing and blames all the hullabaloo on Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Dumbledore (Michael Gambon). The Ministry even interferes with Hogwarts business by making Ministry employee Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor whose outwardly sweet demeanor hides a sadistic streak a mile wide. She thinks the children should only learn about the Dark Arts “theoretically” and tortures all those who disagree. But the Voldemort threat is a reality and Dumbledore has re-formed the Order of the Phoenix a group of witches and wizards that prepares to battle the Dark Lord. Harry is unfortunately being kept in the dark for his protection of course even as his connection to Voldemort grows stronger and he’s royally peeved at being ignored. Urged on by Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) he forms his own order of Hogwarts students called Dumbledore’s Army to teach them what defenses against the Dark Arts he has already learned. Oh yeah Harry also shares his first kiss but make no bones about it—love is the furthest thing on Harry’s mind when the crap hits the fan. War is imminent. Everyone steps up their game in Order of the Phoenix. Radcliffe Watson and Grint have shed their adolescent whininess and aw-shucks goofiness to give their characters the greatest depth so far. They are forced to grow up pretty quickly in Order with little time for any playfulness and the three actors handle the seriousness with aplomb. Of course both Radcliffe and Grint have already ventured out of the Potter world—Radcliffe shed more than just adolescence on stage in a production of Equus while Grint lost his virginity in the indie Driving Lessons--and their extra experience shows in Order. Also good are Matthew Lewis as the usually clumsy Neville Longbottom who shows his mettle in more ways than one and newcomer Evanna Lynch as the slightly off-kilter Luna Lovegood who proves to be a loyal member of Dumbledore’s Army. But the kids have to keep up with the talented adult cast especially Oscar-nominated Staunton (Vera Drake) as Umbridge. The veteran actress’ interpretation of one of J.K. Rowling’s nastiest characters so far in the Potter lore is spot-on down to the pink wool suits and irritating twitter “ahem” she uses when she wants your undivided attention. Helena Bonham Carter also makes an impression however over the top it is as the evil Voldemort follower Bellatrix Lestrange. Does she ever want to look pretty onscreen? Then there’s the laundry list of Brits whose time onscreen may be short but is nonetheless memorable including Alan Rickman as the sneering Prof. Snape; Gambon as the wise but flawed Dumbledore; Gary Oldman as the kindly Sirius Black Harry’s only real family; and of course Fiennes as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. His late-in-the-game appearance once again throws you for a loop. It stands to reason that at five movies in moviegoers would have a favorite Harry Potter flick by now. Those who love those Triwizard Tournament special effects might feel The Goblet of Fire was the best; or Prisoner of Azkaban for its time-bending action. Yet The Order of the Phoenix may be the one movie that speaks directly to the fans of the books. Without as much wide-eyed wonderment or wizardry flash the story is still chockfull of compelling details that are absolutely pivotal to the continuing Harry Potter saga. Screenwriter Michael Goldenberg (Peter Pan) and director David Yates (HBO’s The Girl in the Café) manage to wade through this volume of information and cut successfully to the chase with great effect. Yates who has signed on to do the sixth movie Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince even shows an affinity for action in the final dramatic confrontation between good witches and wizards and bad ones. But overall Order of the Phoenix may leave audiences not as well-versed in the novels a little itchy for some good old-fashioned wand-waving and Disney special effects. Thing is it’s just going to keep getting darker and darker for Harry and his crew. The days of happy fun playtime are over.
Filmmaker Irving Rapper, one of the last survivors of Hollywood's golden era and the director of the 1942 Bette Davis Oscar-winning classic "Now, Voyager," died Dec. 20 at the Motion Picture and Television Fund home in Woodland Hills, Calif. He was 101.
Best known for his professional alliance with Davis, Rapper first made his mark with the diva in the melodrama "Now, Voyager." Their collaboration continued throughout the 1940s and 1950s in three other films: "The Corn Is Green," "Deception" and "Another Man's Poison."
Rapper began his career as a dialogue coach and assistant director for Warner Bros. in 1936. He quickly moved up the ranks, landing gigs with director Michael Curtiz ("Casablanca"), among others. He made his directorial debut in 1941 with the romance drama "Shining Victory," a film that, Hollywood lore says, featured Bette Davis in a cameo as a nurse.
Also in 1941, Rapper helmed "One Foot in Heaven", a portrait of a minister and his family that earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. (It lost out to "How Green Was My Valley.")
Working regularly through the 1950s, Rapper went on to direct the likes of Natalie Wood, Gene Kelly ("Marjorie Morningstar") and Kirk Douglas ("The Glass Menagerie"). Rapper's final film was "Born Again," a 1978 biopic about Watergate conspirator-turned-born-again-Christian Chuck Colson.
Born in Jan. 16, 1898, in London, Rapper immigrated to the United States as a child. He caught the eye of Warners in 1936 for his direction of the Broadway play "Crime."
IRVING RAPPER FACTOIDS:
Known, like contemporary George Cukor, as a "women's director." One his most infamous credits was a biopic about a man who became a woman -- 1970's "The Christine Jorgensen Story." "Now, Voyager" features one of Hollywood's most-quoted closing lines: "Oh Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars." (Uttered by Bette Davis to co-star Paul Henreid.) Parted with longtime studio home in 1945 when Warners reportedly forced him to cast Robert Alda (Alan's father) as composer George Gershwin in "Rhapsody in Blue."
The Sundance people have announced the list of films that will be showcased in its Premieres, Frontier, Midnight, Native Forum and World Cinema categories for the annual festival.
"My First Mister," the directorial debut by actress Christine Lahti, will kick off the 10-day event. And works from such helmers as Michael Apted ("The World Is Not Enough") Richard Linklater ("Slacker") and Allison Anders ("Mi Vida Loca") are among the films that are spotlighted in the fest's Premieres category.
The lineup for the Drama, Documentary and American Spectrum categories was issued Tuesday as well.
The Sundance Film Festival takes place Jan. 18-28 in Park City, Utah.
For the complete schedule, go to Sundance Film Festival's official Web site at www.sundance.org.
One thing remains clear after tonight's 58th Annual Golden Globe Awards: There was a definite lack of a dominant film on the block. Though certain sure bets did come out victorious, no single film was able to sweep the Globes, leaving the upcoming Oscar race as wide open as it was before.
Heavy contenders "Traffic," "Almost Famous," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "Gladiator" all took home two Globes apiece at the annual star-studded event.
As expected, Julia Roberts won the award for best actress in a movie (drama) for her work in "Erin Brockovich". However, she was visibly surprised when "Brockovich" director Steven Soderbergh went home empty-handed.
"I was shocked, actually," Roberts said backstage. "I suppose when I presented the best director and Steven [Soderbergh] didn't win for either film ["Traffic" and "Erin Brockovich"], I thought to myself that the film ["Erin Brockovich"] was not a family kind of thing."
Tom Hanks' win over Russell Crowe ("Gladiator") for best actor in "Cast Away" also added to the evening's biggest upsets.
"The whole season is a wild, wild ride," Hanks told reporters after picking up his award.
When asked what he would miss the most if he were stranded on a deserted island like his character in "Cast Away," he jokingly answered, "Oh gosh, my TV."
There's always a little bit of the unexpected at award shows, and this year's Golden Globe Awards was apparently no different.
Renee Zellweger pulled a Christine Lahti by temporarily being unavailable when her name was called as the winner for the best actress (comedy) award. The "Nurse Betty" star was in the restroom at the time.
"I was in the bathroom. Bad timing. I had something in my teeth and I just went to make sure," Zellweger told reporters backstage.
Actor George Clooney also emerged as the winner in the best actor (comedy) column for his work in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Clooney beat out John Cusack, Robert De Niro and Mel Gibson for the prize.
Benicio Del Toro
Early on, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association was caught up in "Traffic" -- and liking it. Benicio Del Toro picked up his first award in the best supporting actor category for his role in "Traffic" to kick off the show.
The actor edged out the likes of Willem Dafoe, Jeff Bridges, Albert Finney and Joaquin Phoenix, all of whom were nominated in the category.
"I got lucky," Del Toro said during his acceptance speech. "If they [the other nominees] want a recount, they can talk to my lawyer. It's just great to be recognized for what you love to do," the actor later told reporters backstage.
"Traffic" also earn its scribe, Stephen Gaghan, the Golden Globe for best screenplay.
But the border-crossing drug film -- which was nominated in five categories -- soon lost momentum, most notably with director Soderbergh's loss in the best director category to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" helmer Ang Lee. The martial arts film was also named the best foreign film at tonight's event.
"Everything is great," the Taiwanese director told reporters backstage. "The best thing was meeting Julia Roberts."
Ridley Scott's Roman bloodbath "Gladiator" remained quiet most of the evening and seemed to have fallen by the wayside of the HFPA's top list, with a mere mention for best original score despite having tied "Traffic" with two awards apiece.
"Gladiator" finally proved otherwise by picking up the best picture (drama) nod -- decidedly one of the night's most important awards.
The best picture (comedy) award went to Cameron Crowe's "Almost Famous," which also earned ingenue Kate Hudson the best supporting actress win. The Goldie Hawn scion edged out veterans Judi Dench and Frances McDormand for the prize.
"This is so intense," Hudson said in her speech. Hudson also thanked Crowe and her husband, Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson.
"I felt so in love with Cameron and his vision," Hudson said backstage. "The script is so amazing."
But an amazing night it wasn't for the films "Chocolat," and "Billy Elliot". The two acclaimed pictures both went into the night's race with four noms each but came out empty-handed.
And multiple-nominee "Wonder Boys" only walked off with one award, a best original song for Bob Dylan's "Things Have Changed."
The race for the Globe on the TV front was just as even with "The West Wing" and "Sex and the City" leading the pack of winners with two statuettes each.
The HBO comedy was named best TV comedy for a second consecutive year, and series star Sarah Jessica Parker earned her second best actress in a TV comedy for the second year in a row.
"We had various scenarios laid out for best comedy," Parker said. "None of which included us."
NBC's political series "The West Wing" got both the best TV drama series and a best actor in a TV series (drama) for actor Martin Sheen -- beating out last year's winner James Gandolfini ("The Sopranos"), among others, in both categories.
"I'm quite certain there has been a big mistake," Sheen -- a loyal Democrat -- joked, keeping very much to the political theme of his series. "But I'm going to wait for the recount to finish."
Sarah Michelle Gellar & Freddie Prinze Jr.
Kelsey Grammer nabbed the best actor in a TV comedy award for "Frasier." And "Once and Again" actress Sela Ward took the best actress in a TV series (drama) award for her role in the ABC series, beating first-time nominees Jessica Alba of Fox's "Dark Angel" and Sarah Michelle Gellar of the WB's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
Of note was oft-troubled actor Robert Downey Jr.'s win in the best supporting actor in a TV comedy category for his stint on Fox's "Ally McBeal."
Downey -- who is currently facing drug possession charges -- got right to the point during his acceptance speech, simply thanking people he had worked with on the show.
"It just means a lot to me when people just come up to me on the streets and tell me that they are rooting for me," Downey told producer Dick Clark afterward.
And unlike other winners, Downey opted to read a prepared statement rather than doing Q&A with reporters backstage.
"I just want to share this with my fellow parolees, I mean, nominees," quipped Downey. "This really means a lot, and it's been great working on the show."
Vanessa Redgrave, the actor's female counterpart in the same category, won for her work in HBO's "If These Walls Could Talk 2."
Best TV miniseries or motion picture went to Showtime's original movie "Dirty Pictures," which chronicled the censorship controversy over photographer Robert Mapplethorpe's works.
Continuing on the tube front, though Dench lost out to Hudson in the best supporting actress (drama) category, Dench -- who was unable to attend the bash -- walked away with a best actress in a miniseries or TV movie for her role in HBO's "Last of the Blonde Bombshells." Best actor in the same category went to Brian Dennehy for Showtime's "Arthur Miller's Death of A Salesman."
The night's most interesting moment, perhaps, came at the very end of the show, when best picture (drama) presenter Elizabeth Taylor opened the winner's envelope before running down the list of nominees, causing Clark to come on stage to instruct the legendary actress on what to do.
The annual Cecil B. DeMille Award was presented to big-screen veteran Al Pacino by "American Beauty" Oscar winner Kevin Spacey.
'The Grinch' is unstoppable.
Jim Carrey's "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" edged out Chris O'Donnell's mountain-climbing "Vertical Limit" and held on to the No. 1 spot at the weekend box office, taking in an estimated $18.46 million, according to estimates obtained by Hollywood.com's box office analyst Martin Grove.
"The Grinch," directed by Ron Howard and also starring Christine Baranski, Molly Shannon and Jeffery Tambor, reached a four-week total gross of $195.5 million.
Bowed Friday, outdoor thriller "Vertical Limit" was only good enough for the No. 2 spot with a $16 million take.
The week's other new releases: Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe's "Proof of Life" and the game adaptation "Dungeons and Dragons" opened this weekend at No. 3 ($10.41 million) and No. 5 ($7 million), respectively.
And M. Night Shyamalan's "Unbreakable" took the No. 4 spot with $7.5 million. The Bruce Willis-Samuel L Jackson starrer has thus far grossed $77.4 million.
Here are the weekend's Top 10 films (final figures will be released Monday):
1. "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas," $18.47 million ($195.5 million total)
2. "Vertical Limit," $16 million (new)
3. "Proof of Life," $10.41 million (new)
4. "Unbreakable," $7.54 million ($77.4 million total)
5. "Dungeons and Dragons," $7 million (new)
6. "102 Dalmatians," $6.3 million ($44.3 million total)
7. "Rugrats in Paris: The Movie," $4 million ($60.5 million total)
8. "Meet the Parents," $2.97 million ($157.1 million total)
9. "Charlie's Angels," $2.7 million ($119.3 million total)
10. "Bounce," $2.6 million ($34.1 million total)
Apparently, Dr. Laura Schlessinger is just too hot for daytime television.
Or better yet, too cold. The conservative talker's eponymous syndicated TV talk show has been bumped into the wee hours of night from its original daytime slot in seven major cities, CBS announced Tuesday.
"The program got off to a slow start ... and has since seen further ratings erosion," the network said in a statement.
A CBS spokesman told Reuters that all seven stations would be moving "Dr. Laura" to the 2 a.m. slot.
'DR. LAURA' PARODY MIA: Daily Variety reports that an episode of the NBC hit comedy "Frasier" has been skipped in syndication this year. The specific episode in question features Christine Baranski in a guest role that openly parodies aforementioned daytime (now graveyard) talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger.