Based on Ian McEwan’s equally stirring novel we begin the story in 1935 on the cusp of WWII. Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan) a 13-year-old fledgling writer lives with her wealthy family in their enormous English country mansion and on one hot summer day she irrevocably changes the course of three lives including her own. It seems the housekeeper’s son Robbie Turner (James McAvoy) carries a torch for Briony’s older sister Cecilia (Keira Knightley). And on this warm day it becomes clear she feels the same way; their love ignites. Little Briony who harbors her own secret crush on Robbie witnesses the beginnings of this love affair and not understanding its meaning feels compelled to interfere going so far as accusing Robbie of a crime he did not commit. He is arrested and whisked away eventually forced into the British army but thankfully the two lovers have a moment before he goes to war to reconnect. Cecilia promises to wait for him urging him to “come back” to her once the madness he is about to become immersed in is over. Meanwhile Briony (played in adult years by Romola Garai and Vanessa Redgrave) has grown up regretting every single moment of that fateful day and in desperately trying to seek forgiveness finally finds a path to understanding the power of enduring love. The performances in Atonement are nothing less than captivating beginning with the young Irish rose Saoirse Ronan (who is also set to play the lead in Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones). Since it is primarily Briony’s story Ronan must make the first most indelible impression and set the tone for the rest of the movie--and she succeeds on every level. From the moment you see Ronan’s pale face clear-blue eyes and steadfast gait you immediately recognize Briony’s need and determination to make everything in her life just so. Indeed Briony is a strongly focused child and Ronan so embodies the character an Oscar nomination is almost a certainty. As the 18-year-old Briony Garai (Dirty Dancing 2) does the best she can following such a tough act as Ronan but can never quite match the same intensity. On the other hand Redgrave who comes in at the very end as the much older Briony nails it right away adding her own nuances to a character who has lived a full life. Of course Knightley and McAvoy are no slouches either vividly capturing the passion bubbling up between Cecilia and Robbie then turning around and showing the heartache as their love is ripped apart. McAvoy is particularly effecting as his Robbie must also witness some truly horrific wartime scenes. Actually Oscar nods should come fast and furious for everyone in Atonement. With Pride & Prejudice and now Atonement director Joe Wright may have just established himself as the new James Ivory (of Merchant/Ivory fame). Wright is a real visionary for the romantic period piece expertly delivering truly spectacular vistas. From set design to costumes to cinematography the look of Atonement is at once verdant welcoming and then startlingly grim. The first half of Atonement at the Tallis’ country home is certainly the film’s most defining peppered by an effective musical score which uses the sound of a typewriter like a metronome. Through a soft lens Wright displays the general idleness of summer day at a country home like a sunny floral motif that belies an undercurrent of sweating bodies wilting flowers stagnant pools--and an imminent tragic event. Then once Wright moves with Robbie into WWII he actually paints an even more grim view of war then maybe seen before. The one continuous shot of the historical Dunkirk--a French beach on which thousands of British soldiers were forced by the Germans and then waited to be evacuated--is absolutely stunning and surreal. Atonement does drag ever-so-slightly in the middle especially as Briony trains to be a nurse in London but overall this is a film Academy voters eat up with a silver spoon. Expect to be hearing about it in the months to come.
Former Seinfeld star Michael Richards left comedy fans stunned during a Friday night performance at Los Angeles' Laugh Factory when he blasted a pair of African-American hecklers with a racist rant.
The funnyman, who played quirky Cosmo Kramer on the beloved sitcom, lost his cool during a stand-up routine at the comedy club when two black audience members challenged him--and his comments were caught on camera.
News Web site TMZ.com, which obtained the footage, reports the comedy show turned ugly when Richards realized his hecklers were black.
He screamed at one of the men, "Fifty years ago we'd have you upside down with a f**king fork up your ass."
And then, when the playful heckling continued, Richards objected further, ranting, "You can talk... you're brave now, motherf**ker. Throw his ass out. He's a n**ger! He's a n**ger...! Look, there's a n**ger!" One of the hecklers then turned on Richards, shouting, "That's un-f**king called for, ain't necessary."
Responding to the crowd's shock, Richards responded, "They're going to arrest me for calling a black man a n**ger."
Many audience members then left the venue. One African-American audience member, Darryl Pitts, feels Richards should be reprimanded for his racist comments.
He tells CNN, "I feel like something has to be done about. He threw those words around very cavalierly, he mentioned hanging upside down from a tree... It's very upsetting."
As WENN went to press, a protest was being planned outside the Laugh Factory.
Article Copyright Entertainment News Network All Rights Reserved.
The story of the late great Johnny Cash depicted in Walk the Line is not quite all encompassing. The film dramatizes just one moment in Cash's life: his tumultuous 20s and rise to fame. The young Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) married and straight out of the army struggles with his music finally finding his patented blend of country blues and rock music. Haunted by a troubled childhood Cash sings songs about death love treachery and sin--and shoots straight to the top of the charts. On tour he also meets and falls for his future wife June Carter (Reese Witherspoon) whose refusal to meddle with a married man only further fuels the fire and contributes to his eventual drug addiction. Their cat-and-mouse love story provides the film’s core but unfortunately can’t quite overcome Walk the Line’s formulaic nature. Biopics are generally good to actors. Phoenix and Witherspoon could easily each walk away with Oscar statuettes for turning in two of the most jaw-dropping spellbinding performances since well Jamie Foxx in Ray. Neither actor had any musical background whatsoever but they both underwent painstaking transformations for the sake of authenticity doing all of their own singing as well as guitar-playing for Phoenix. The actor's performance is purely raw and visceral; his vulnerability is aptly palpable at first but then he becomes the Cash with the unflinching swagger. Witherspoon's Carter is Cash's temptress and she'll be yours too by movie's end. She eerily reincarnates Carter as if she was born to play the part. If Walk the Line is the ultimate actor's canvas then Phoenix and Witherspoon make priceless art-and music-together. While good for the actors biopics can prove to be difficult for the director. It’s hard to highlight a person’s life without it coming off like a TV movie of the week. Unfortunately director James Mangold (Copland) plays it safe with Walk the Line. The duets between Johnny and June on stage are about the only electrifying moments of the film. The rest is pretty stereotypical. And it isn’t because the film only focuses on certain years of Cash's life. It's simply not possible to fit a lifetime into the short duration of a film. The problem instead is that Mangold's presentation of Cash's life would lead one to believe that Cash actually exorcised his demons. But in reality his lifelong demons are what endeared him to the layperson. There was nothing cut and dry about the Cash story--and adding a little grit would have given Walk the Line the edge it needed.
Dreamer is another one of those family films--based on a true story no less--that makes you feel guilty for not liking it because it means so well. The film revolves around the Cranes who have worked on their Kentucky horse farm for generations. But gifted horseman Ben Crane (Kurt Russell) loses his love for the job when the farm hits hard times. His estranged father Pop (Kris Kristofferson) feels like his son has given up unnecessarily. Even Ben’s young daughter Cale (Dakota Fanning) can’t get through to her dad. The only way this family can heal is by helping an injured horse named Sonya get ready for a seemingly impossible goal: to win the Breeders' Cup Classic. Say it together: “Awww!” At least the film gets it half right in its casting. Russell is perfect as the beleaguered Ben a man who needs a little inspiration to get back on track and he thankfully never takes it over the top. Same goes for Kristofferson who is aptly crusty and unwilling to give his son an inch--that is until his granddaughter and that darned horse melt his heart. And the family resemblance is uncanny; apparently the two actors have been told quite often how much they look like each other. The one misstep here is Fanning. Yes she is an extraordinarily gifted actress for her age but Cale should have been played by a happy sunny child. The oh-so-serious Fanning doesn’t really qualify. Also Elisabeth Shue as the mom is all wrong. A horse farmer’s wife? Please. Writer-director John Gatins takes a big gamble making his directorial debut with a movie about an underdog horse. First there’s the underdog part. This year seems a bit saturated with the plot device what with films like Cinderella Man and most recently Greatest Game Ever Played. Second there’s the whole horse thing. It’s just going to be hard to top the Oscar-nominated Seabiscuit--the quintessential true horse-racing movie to beat them all. True Dreamer is based on a true story and is nicely--albeit conventionally--framed. But the film isn’t unique in any way. It’s the same feel-good family stuff we’ve been swallowing all year. See? I told you I’d feel guilty for knocking it.
He shoots, he doesn't "Score!" Oscar winner Russell Crowe is allegedly an aficionado of Scores strip club in Manhattan, reportedly dropping five grand on three strippers at Christmas-time, PageSix.com reports. The report also reveals that the hunky actor failed to convince the strippers to remove their G-strings or accompany him back to his hotel room.
Nicole Kidman's bank account isn't the only thing that's growing bigger these days. For the upcoming flick The Hours the star of Moulin Rouge had to endure two hours in the make-up chair (which Sky News says she "hated") to add some needed mass to her proboscis to approximate that of author Virginia Woolf. Ah, the sacrifices Nicole's willing to make for her art--first kissing Ewan McGregor and now this.
Disturbed director David Lynch (Mulholland Drive) has been tapped to head the panel of judges at the next Cannes Film Festival. And here we thought the only American entertainer the French liked was Jerry Lewis.
Third time's the charm? Former Seinfeld cast member Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine) is trying her hand at a prime time sitcom, following in the failed footsteps of Michael Richards (Kramer) and Jason Alexander (George), whose projects both failed to last a full season. Watching Ellie debuts Feb. 26 on NBC, and will likely be cancelled by mid-April.
Comedian Chris Rock and wife Malaak Compton-Rock are expecting their first child, People magazine reports. The couple has been married for five years.
The Laramie Project officially opened the Sundance Film Festival on Thursday night. The Laramie Project deals with the murder of a gay man in Laramie, Wyo., whose only crime was being openly gay. Shocked viewers were heard to say, "That doesn't look like a bobsled." The Winter Olympics start in Park City, Utah about a month after Sundance ends.
Another day, another awards announcement. The Producers Guild of America has released their nominations for the best of TV and film. Shrek becomes the first animated film to be considered for the PGA's Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures. Shrek is also the first ogre and the first fully green creature to be considered for such an honor.
On Wednesday, Michael Jackson came in first and third in the television ratings for 18-49 year olds. Jacko's appearance on the American Music Awards propelled ABC to a victory in the most coveted demographic, while his repeated special on CBS finished third. No word on whether Jacko pulled in the highly coveted llama demographic.
Showtime and MTV have confirmed that they are working on a cable network targeted at gays and lesbians. This news crushes Jerry Falwell's plans to do the same.
Leaving No Doubt about her future matrimonial plans, a spokesman for Gwen Stefani said the 32-year-old Ska-rocker is getting hitched to Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale, 34, Reuters reports. Rossdale admitted that Stefani was pressuring him to make a commitment last November.
Ray Charles has Australia on his mind? The 71-year-old legendary musician is headed down under in February for a series of concerts in Oz, Reuters announces.
In an ironic twist that only the U.S. court system could come up with, Rapper DMX has worked out an astounding plea agreement with Bergen County, N.J., prosecutors. DMX, who was charged with 13 counts of animal cruelty, two counts of maintaining a nuisance and one count each of disorderly conduct and possession of drug paraphernalia in 2001--and charged with possession of a deadly weapon and child endangerment in 1999--will make public service announcements for kids telling them of the dangers of guns and asking them to be kinder to animals. Otherwise, they might become successful recording artists who cross over to making movies...
Martin Luther King's life (and 73rd birthday) will be celebrated in a Smithsonian exhibit starting on King's birthday this Sunday at Detroit's Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, The Associated Press reports. The traveling exhibit, which features works of more than 100 artists who carry on King's work through their art, will visit six cities over the next two years.
Doubling their displeasure, twin teen stars Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have dropped out of So Little Time, their highly successful sitcom on ABC Family Channel. ABC cites the twins' demands for a $400,000 raise in their allowance as the sticking point. Mary-Kate and Ashley are currently looking to get onboard a movie ride, but can only do so if they're this tall.
The Highlands Grand opened with a gala fest Wednesday night. Attendees--including Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jerri Manthey (Survivor) and former NBA hoopster John Salley--were treated to designer grub by Wolfgang Puck, choreographed dance numbers by Alex Magno (Madonna's Drowned World Tour) and places to sit.