One thing Red-Eye does very well is nail the palpable tension involved in air travel these days. We meet Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams) at an airport first rushing around and then waiting and waiting and waiting for her delayed red-eye to leave. We all feel her pain. During the lag time she enjoys a brief flirtation with a seemingly charming man named Jackson (Cillian Murphy)--and when they finally board the plane she finds she is seated next to him. Coincidence? I think not. Moments after a rough takeoff that sets Lisa who's afraid to fly on edge Jackson drops the cute-guy routine and menacingly reveals that he is an operative in a plot to kill the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security--and Lisa is the key to its success. Here's the kicker: If she doesn't cooperate her father will be killed on Jackson's command. Well that's a fine how-do-you-do. But as is typical in these situations the villain sorely underestimates his victim. It only takes a few faltering moments before you can just see the wheels turning in Lisa's whip-smart brain as she tries to figure out how to get out of this horrible situation--with herself her dad the target (whom she knows of course) and anyone else who crosses Jackson intact.
In basically what is a two-character piece McAdams and Murphy do a nice dance together. McAdams is proving to be a highly versatile actress. She hit the radar playing a mean girl in Mean Girls and then scored huge as the plucky ingénue in the sappily romantic The Notebook. She even kept up with the likes of Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn in this summer's raucous comedy Wedding Crashers. Now she's tackling the action heroine thing and--wouldn't you know it?--pulls that off as well. Maybe it's because McAdams has a refreshing and natural spunkiness which she infuses in all her characters. As Lisa she gets emotional dealing with this seemingly no-win situation but never once do you question whether she is tough enough to beat the bastard at his own game. And as said bastard Murphy (28 Days Later) adds a unique flavor to the standard bad guy role. He's entirely believable flirting with Lisa perhaps even falling for her slightly. Those piercing blue eyes which can be at once attractive and also a little unsettling do you in. But when she threatens his masculinity oh boy all hell breaks loose.
Although Red-Eye may not employ a homicidal disfigured maniac with knives for fingers or a homicidal maniac in a Scream mask director Wes Craven whose given us the Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream series still knows how to thrill an audience. Red-Eye is arguably the best thing he's done since the first Scream and at a mere 85 minutes he keeps the action at a break-neck claustrophobic pace. You have little time to realize how implausible it all is especially once Lisa gets off the plane and starts to undo all of those best-laid assassination plans. In a recent interview with Hollywood.com Craven admits he didn't cut any scenes from Red-Eye but simply pared down each one to its essence. It works. I think all thrillers should be done like this thrifty with its time. Why are we always subjected to long drawn-out action flicks with unnecessary car chases fight sequences and other action accoutrement? Yes these elements are fun if they are done well but if you really want to keep the tension at the highest level give it to us in a concentrated burst.
The nominations for the 2004 IFP Independent Spirit Awards are in, and with more submissions than ever before in the ceremony's history, it looks like a hot race.
Jeff Kleeman, IFP committee chair, had this to say: "With more submissions and less time then ever before, the Nominating Committee watched and discussed over 190 films in six weeks -- an act of extreme devotion that proved to be tremendously rewarding."
Dawn Hudson, IFP executive producer, added that this year's batch of nominees is particularly diverse, and commended the fact there are more highly talented women writers and directors emerging on the independent film scene, including nominees Shari Springer Berman, Sofia Coppola and Catherine Hardwicke.
Films that have been nominated for IFP Independent Spirit Awards were selected based on their original and provocative subject matter, uniqueness of vision, and financial characteristics, including total budget, individual compensation, and percentage of independent financing.
Last year's ISA winners included the film Far From Heaven (best feature), Julianne Moore (best director and lead actress), and Dennis Quaid (best supporting actor).
The 2004 IFP Independent Spirit Awards ceremony will air live on Feb. 28 at 5 p.m. EST on the Independent Film Channel, and will be broadcast at 10 p.m. EST/PST on Bravo.
The nominees for the 2004 IFP Independent Spirit Awards are (by category):
Lost in Translation
Raising Victor Vargas
Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini - American Splendor
Sofia Coppola - Lost in Translation
Jim Sheridan - In America
Peter Sollett - Raising Victor Vargas
Gus Van Sant - Elephant
American Splendor - Writers: Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini
Lost in Translation - Writer: Sofia Coppola
A Mighty Wind - Writers: Christopher Guest & Eugene Levy and the cast of A Mighty Wind
Pieces of April - Writer: Peter Hedges
Shattered Glass - Writer: Billy Ray
Best First Feature
Bomb the System - Director: Adam Bhala Lough; Producers: Ben Rekhi, Sol Tryon
House of Sand and Fog - Director: Vadim Perelman; Producers: Michael London, Vadim Perelman
Monster - Director: Patty Jenkins; Producers: Mark Damon, Donald Kushner, Clark Peterson, Charlize Theron, Brad Wyman
Quattro Noza - Director: Joey Curtis; Producer: Fredric King
Thirteen - Director: Catherine Hardwicke; Producers: Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Michael London
John Cassavetes Award
Anne B. Real - Director: Lisa France; Writers: Lisa France, Antonio Macia, Producers: Josselyne Herman, Luis Moro, Jeanine Rohn
Better Luck Tomorrow - Director: Justin Lin; Writers: Ernesto M. Foronda, Justin Lin, Fabian Marquez; Producers: Julie Asato, Ernesto M. Foronda, Justin Lin
Pieces of April - Writer/Director: Peter Hedges; Producers: Alexis Alexanian, John S. Lyons, Gary Winick
The Station Agent - Writer/Director: Thomas McCarthy; Producers: Mary Jane Skalski, Robert May, Kathryn Tucker
Virgin - Writer/Director: Deborah Kampmeier; Producer:Sarah Schenck
Best First Screenplay
Blue Car- Writer: Karen Moncrieff
Monster - Writer: Patty Jenkins
Raising Victor Vargas - Writers: Peter Sollett and Eva Vives
The Station Agent - Writer: Thomas McCarthy
Thirteen - Writers: Catherine Hardwicke & Nikki Reed
Best Female Lead
Agnes Bruckner - Blue Car
Zooey Deschanel - All the Real Girls
Samantha Morton - In America
Elisabeth Moss - Virgin
Charlize Theron - Monster
Best Male Lead
Peter Dinklage - The Station Agent
Paul Giamatti - American Splendor
Sir Ben Kingsley - House of Sand and Fog
Bill Murray - Lost in Translation
Lee Pace - Soldier's Girl
Best Supporting Female
Shohreh Aghdashloo - House of Sand and Fog
Sarah Bolger - In America
Patricia Clarkson - Pieces of April
Hope Davis - The Secret Lives of Dentists
Frances McDormand - Laurel Canyon
Best Supporting Male
Judah Friedlander - American Splendor
Troy Garity - Soldier's Girl
Djimon Hounsou - In America
Alessandro Nivola - Laurel Canyon
Peter Sarsgaard - Shattered Glass
Best Debut Performance
Anna Kendrick - Camp
Judy Marte - Raising Victor Vargas
Victor Rasuk - Raising Victor Vargas
Nikki Reed - Thirteen
Janice Richardson - Anne B. Real
Elephant - Harris Savides
In America - Declan Quinn
Northfork - M. David Mullen
Quattro Noza - Derek Cianfrance
Shattered Glass - Mandy Walker
Best Foreign Film
City of God (Brazil)
Lilya 4-Ever (Denmark)
The Magdalene Sisters (England/Ireland)
The Triplets of Belleville (France)
Whale Rider (New Zealand)
The Fog of War
Mayor of the Sunset Strip
OT: our town
Better watch out, Harry Potter, because Danny Ocean is back on the job.
Forget three casinos in one night: Director Steven Soderbergh's remake of the Rat Pack heist romp Ocean's Eleven looks certain to steal the hearts and wallets of every woman in America this weekend. And there's not a single spell that mop-topped apprentice wizard can cast to keep George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon from committing the perfect crime.
With Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone showing signs of fatigue in its third weekend, Ocean's Eleven looks primed to hijack the record for a December opening. The current record holder, Mel Gibson's What Women Want, opened last year with $33.6 million, on its way to $180.2 million. Women swooned over the sight of Gibson climbing into tights, so just imagine what the assembling of the sharp-dressed Clooney, Pitt, Damon, Andy Garcia, Scott Caan, Casey Affleck, Don Cheadle and, ahem, Carl Reiner will do. And, for the male contingency in the mood for something more than just razor-sharp banter and a parade of gadgets straight out of Q's lab, there's eye candy in the form of the underutilized Julia Roberts.
That the original Ocean's Eleven, released in 1960, doesn't rank as a beloved classic also means long lines are likely to form for the remake. The original seemed an excuse for Frank Sinatra to womanize, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. to croon a few songs, and Peter Lawford to hit the bar at the break of dawn. It coasted on its ability to unite the Rat Pack for the first--and most successful--time on the silver screen.
The remake veers significantly from the original, starting with the number of casinos hit in one night scaled back from five to three. Pitt may play Martin to Clooney's Sinatra (without bursting into song), but that's where the similarities end. Soderbergh offers a fun and jazzy remake minus a self-conscious nod to the days when the Rat Pack symbolized all that was hip and cool.
To this end, Ocean's Eleven could make more in its opening weekend than the $37.5 million that the first Soderbergh-Clooney collaboration made in total, the slightly more substantial Out of Sight. Ocean's Eleven also should give Soderbergh his third consecutive $100 million hit, following last year's Oscar-winning Erin Brockovich ($125.5 million) and Traffic ($124.1 million). Erin Brockovich, of course, earned Roberts an Academy Award this year, but it's unlikely that such a stylish but frothy caper shall enjoy Oscar gold without stealing it.
Though likely to drop only as far as to No. 2, Harry Potter could still take a hard tumble this weekend. Director Chris Columbus' adaptation of J.K. Rowling's literary smash-the first of seven films planned-dropped a troubling 59 percent in its third weekend, from $57.4 million to $23.6 million. Big earners tend to drop hard during the post-Thanksgiving week, yet Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas still managed to log $27 million this time last year after a Thanksgiving take of $52.1 million. The Grinch also enjoyed a $18.6 million fourth weekend, but that seems a reach for young Mr. Potter. Harry Potter should fall to between $13 million and $15 million. Still, Harry Potter has amassed $223.6 million in its 20th day vs. The Grinch's $175.7 million, and should surpassed its total $260 million without the need to resort to magic.
Harry Potter does lag behind Star Wars: Episode One - The Phantom Menace, which made $259.6 million in its first 20 days. At this pace, Harry Potter looks certain to surpass Shrek's $267.6 million to become the year's top-grossing film, with between $300 million and $325 million its likely total.
America's renewed patriotism paid dividends for Behind Enemy Lines, with the Bosnian-set war drama reaping $22.1 million through Wednesday. That justifies 20th Century Fox's decision to push up Behind Enemy Lines's release date by six weeks in light of terrific post-Sept. 11 previews. (The same ploy failed for Black Knight, which Fox moved from mid-January to Nov. 21 with disastrous results.)
Owen Wilson, though, may find it easier to defeat an entire army of Serbian rebels than face 11 suave and sophisticated thieves. Like the similarly themed Spy Game, Behind Enemy Lines should experienced a second weekend drop of almost 50 percent.
Pitt may enjoy a huge opening this weekend with Ocean's Eleven, but it will come at the expense of his other new release, Spy Game. Director Tony Scott's globe-trotting thriller, with Robert Redford trying to save fellow spy Pitt from execution at the hands of the Chinese, dropped from $21.6 million to $11 million in its second weekend with the arrival of the more action-oriented Behind Enemy Lines. Pitt fans must now decide between seeing him bloodied and bruised or perfectly manicured with his matinee-idol looks in plain sight for once. Any guess as to which Pitt his fans want to spend the night with?
Still, Spy Game has $48.8 million through Wednesday. That's slightly behind Scott's previous foray into high-tech espionage, Enemy of the State, which earned $52.3 million in its 13th day of release on its way to $111.5 million.
France's Amelie continues to dazzle. The arthouse sensation has $7.5 million through Wednesday, having played at no more than 218 theaters. That bodes well for Amelie's chance of returning triumphant to Paris arm in arm with a fellow by the name of Oscar.
After a month-long rampage, Monsters, Inc. lost some of its footing in its fifth weekend with a 62 percent post-Thanksgiving drop. The Disney/Pixar adventure, with John Goodman and Billy Crystal providing the voice for two lovable, energy-producing monsters, has $205.3 million through Wednesday. Monsters, Inc. remains competitive with Shrek, which scared up $202.5 million during the same period of business. In order to drum up repeat business, Disney/Pixar will add new footage to Monsters, Inc. this weekend in the form of faux outtakes.
Interest in the strange love affair between Jack Black and Gwyneth Paltrow is on the wane, after a $4.5 million fourth weekend. Shallow Hal has $61.9 million through Wednesday, with a total $70 million a certainty. That's cause for celebration for directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly, who endured the failures of Osmosis Jones ($13.5 million) and Say It Isn't So ($5.6 million) earlier this year.
Bad luck still plagues Martin Lawrence, whose Black Knight is a far from noble box office combatant. The time-hopping comedy, set in medieval England, dropped 50 percent in its second weekend from $11 million to $5.5 million. This comes hot on the heels of the summer's What's the Worst that Could Happen?, which earned Lawrence his worst haul since 1995's Bad Boys made him a movie star. Black Knight looks set to make no more than the paltry $32.2 million earned by What's the Worst that Could Happen?, Black Knight has $23.6 million through Wednesday.
Once the world's most famous male model Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) finds his star waning when he's edged out of the VH-1 Male Model of the Year award by his arch rival the kooky new-age hippie model Hansel (Owen Wilson). Rejected and dejected Zoolander embarks on a quest to find himself and finds an unlikely companion in the brainy reporter (Christine Taylor) who helped bring about his downfall with her Time expose. But others have their own diabolical plan for Zoolander in the works--namely the evil fashion designer Mugatu (Will Ferrell) and Zoolander's own agent Maury Ballstein of Balls Models (Jerry Stiller). Mugatu fearing the Malaysian prime minister will raise the minimum wage and thus drive up costs in the fashion industry is scheming to have Zoolander hypnotized into killing the prime minister.
Zoolander and Hansel are about as deep as a lake on the moon but Stiller and Wilson ham up their dumb-himbo roles without being too in on the joke as the modeling industry is spoofed mercilessly. Somehow it's not so far-fetched to imagine Mugatu's haute couture "Derelicte" line the "look of the homeless " being sold at a Saks near you this fall. Blonde corseted and bearing a frightening resemblance to Prodigy's lead singer Ferrell manages (for once) to be both over-the-top and funny as the villainous über designer who became a fashion prodigy after creating the piano-key necktie. Taylor (a dead ringer for a grown-up Marcia Brady) as diligent journo Matilda is the film's straight man but keeps up with the boys' pace and pulls off some great reaction shots--watch as she incredulously rebuffs Zoolander after he makes the assumption she wants to sleep with him.
In addition to co-writing and starring Stiller also directed this piece of slapstick fluff that he and writing partner Drake Sather created out of their 1996 VH1 Fashion Awards sketch. The very idea that Stiller and Wilson could be two of the world's top supermodels is a funny enough premise on its own (although it leads to one rather frightening thought: are male models such cultural centerpieces that spoofing them warrants an entire movie?). Well whatever; its all in silly fun anyway. Some of the jokes don't stick and a few are overlong but most work--the Thriller style showdown a "walk-off" between the two to determine once and for all who's tops is a belly-busting bit of comic genius. When Stiller's on he's on. Just try to refrain from looking for the World Trade Center in the shots of New York City.