This period piece takes place amidst the gossip of aristocrats in fascist Italy where the characters search for freedom passion love and self-identity. This is a straightforward tale and much like a good play it has plenty of witty dialogue and a well-paced story. The film opens with a bit of history but we soon enter a world of lust death blackmail and escape. It's an odd love story to be sure but it works. The chemistry between a beautiful English aristocrat (Kristin Scott Thomas) and an American playboy (Sean Penn) lights up the screen.
Scott Thomas and Penn are brilliant together utterly believable as romantic partners. Thomas' elegant demeanor combined with Penn's grittier charms will certainly keep audiences interested. Anne Bancroft's over-the-top princess is full of zest and wit much like her Miss Havisham was in the recent remake of "Great Expectations."
Philip Haas brings together a rich and sensuous blend of settings and characters. He skillfully combines the lushness of a Merchant-Ivory film with bristly more muscular storytelling.
Former cellmates Michael (Russell) and Murphy (Costner) are leaders of a posse that plans to pull off the heist of a lifetime: robbing the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas during International Elvis Week. This means of course adopting full-on spangled jumpsuits sunglasses and "thank yuh thank yuh vurry much"-es. But when Murphy turns against the crew to keep all the loot for himself Michael escapes with it instead and heads for the border to launder it. He's sidelined along the way by a dalliance with a grifter (Courteney Cox) and her young son. Meanwhile Murphy's hot on his trail.
Costner turned down the chance to play Russell's part to take on the villain instead - and he looks like he's having the time of his life. Less filled out but more amoral than his baddie in the underrated "A Perfect World " Costner bats well as a foil to Russell who shows a barely visible vulnerability under the necessary roughness. Cox to her credit does a complete 180 from her uptight role on "Friends" as the sexually aggressive con-chick Cybil. Christian Slater David Arquette and Bokeem Woodbine make small appearances as part of the Elvis crew Howie Long and Ice-T kick some tail and Kevin Pollak and the long-absent Thomas Haden Church ("Wings") provide comic relief as bumbling lawmen.
"3000 Miles to Graceland" may seem like a caper reminiscent of last month's "Snatch " except there's a lot of bloodshed particularly during the casino robbery where machine gun blasts fling people across the room to land on cha-ching!-ing slot machines. Novice director Demian Lichtenstein's music video background is evident in his Guy Ritchie-esque cuts zooms and a way-bizarre computerized scorpion fight that kicks off the movie (what was that about?). His style and the Vegas ambience give the film a kitschy edge that disappears once the guys shed their Elvis garb. Stay for the credits - you'll see a costumed Russell lip-synching in his own music video as Costner Cox and crew dance about.
Mary-Kate's not dropping out of NYU, she says
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's freshman year at New York University is being so vigilantly dissected by the media that the diminutive millionaires can't buy a $2.50 cup of Tasty D-Lite soft-serve in the city without it making front page news. So it comes as no surprise that Mary-Kate's recent hiatus in Los Angeles is sparking rumors the brunette has not only dropped out of college, but also relapsed into an eating disorder. "She just got out of recovery when she came to New York," US Weekly editor-in-chief Janice Min said on NBC's Today show. "For anyone who has been to college, the freshman year is stressful, and when you are Mary-Kate Olsen and having the whole world watch your behavior and what you eat was too much." Mary-Kate's publicist, Michael Pagnotta, said in a statement Tuesday that Mary-Kate is in L.A. on personal business and is expected to return to New York and to school shortly, but denied reports the 18-year-old actress had suffered a setback. "Somehow there's a suggestion that she has relapsed into an eating disorder. That's just silly. She's in ongoing treatment for an eating disorder with an experienced team of professionals who are available to her on both coasts," he said. "She is working very hard at being well."
New charges filed against O'Reilly
A Fox News Channel producer filed new accusations Tuesday against O'Reilly Factor host Bill O'Reilly, claiming she has lost her job because she complained to the network about her alleged mistreatment, The Associated Press reports. According to court papers, Andrea Mackris, 33, told top executives about the alleged harassment by Sept. 29 and was told to call in sick while they investigated her complaint. But Mackris claims Fox officials have not discussed her job status since she met with Fox lawyers Oct. 5. A lawyer for O'Reilly and Fox denied Mackris has been fired or retaliated against in any way. Last week, O'Reilly filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court against Mackris and her lawyer, alleging they threatened him with a high profile sexual harassment case unless he and the network shelled out $60 million in "hush money." But Benedict Morelli, the lawyer named as a defendant in O'Reilly's case, turned around and filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News and O'Reilly on behalf of Mackris.
Growing Pains star pleads not guilty to drunk driving charges
Former Growing Pains star Tracey Gold pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges she was driving drunk when her sport utility vehicle overturned in Ventura, Calif., on September 3. Tracey Gold Marshall, 35, did not speak as her attorney entered the pleas on her behalf to three felony counts, the AP reports. She is charged with driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, driving with a blood-alcohol level above 0.08 causing injury and felony child endangerment. Although Marshall wasn't hurt when the SUV flipped on a highway in Moorpark just before midnight and rolled down an embankment, her 39-year-old husband, Roby Marshall, injured his neck and their 7-year-old son suffered a broken collarbone and a cut above his eye. The couple's two other sons, a 5-year-old and 4-month-old, who were also in the SUV but were not hurt. Her lawyer declined to discuss details of the incident.
Private service for Reeve to be held at Julliard
Christopher Reeve's family will hold a private memorial service for the actor Oct. 29 at the Juilliard School in New York, where the Superman star studied drama, according to a statement posted Tuesday on his paralysis foundation's Web site. About 900 guests are expected at the event. Reeve, who was left a quadriplegic after a May 1995 horse riding accident, died Oct. 10 after complications from an infection caused by a bed sore. He was 52. Reeve's wife, Dana, posted a letter on the Web site expressing gratitude for the support the family has received. "We are moved by and sincerely grateful for all these gestures--large and small--for they do make a difference," she said in the letter.
Trump's moving ahead with Apprentice 3
As the wannabe moguls continue to duke it out on season two of NBC's hit realty show The Apprentice, host Donald Trump has confirmed the third installment of his hit reality series has already starting filming. "It's going very well," Trump told the AP yesterday. "It's a great group."
Godzilla will get Walk of Fame star
And why shouldn't he? It's been 50 years since the genetically altered dinosaur rose out of the sea to wreak havoc on the hapless Japanese, and the fire-breathing movie monster has certainly put in his dues as part of Hollywood monster royalty. The ceremony to honor the giant lizard will be held Nov. 29 to coincide with the world premiere of Godzilla Final Wars, the 28th Godzilla movie at Hollywood Boulevard's famed Grauman's Chinese Theatre, the AP reports.
Broadcaster will air only part of anti-Kerry docu
The Sinclair Broadcast Group said Tuesday it will only air part of a documentary critical of John Kerry because of pressure from critics demanding the broadcast be canceled altogether--or face legal action, Reuters reports. Sinclair said last week it planned to show the entire 42-minute documentary Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal, made by Vietnam veteran and former journalist Carlton Sherwood, which chronicles Kerry's 1971 testimony before Congress and accuses the senator of betraying fellow Vietnam vets. But the Democratic Party filed a complaint against Sinclair with the Federal Election Commission, claiming the broadcasting company was acting as a mouthpiece for the Republican Party rather than a legitimate news outlet. Sinclair operates in 39 markets that include Florida and Ohio.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.
Olsen twin goes home
Teen actress Mary-Kate Olsen has been released from a health facility where she underwent six weeks of treatment for an eating disorder widely reported to be anorexia, her spokesman told Reuters on Monday. The 18-year-old icon is "feeling very well" and will continue treatment privately while preparing for college, her publicist Michael Pagnotta said. "The focus right now is on school," Pagnotta said in a statement. "She intends to live her day-to-day life normally. ... She won't be hiding. She'll be going out and doing a lot of the things that she's missed doing over the past few weeks." Olsen and her twin sister Ashley plan to enroll together at New York University in August.
Ja Rule faces assault charges
Ja Rule turned himself into Toronto police Monday and was charged with assault, following an incident at a downtown club last month, Reuters reports. Since a judge allowed a publication ban on the details of the case, authorities would say only that the charge stems from a June 5 incident at a Toronto nightclub. No more information was available. "There's no celebrity justice here," the rapper's lawyer said outside the courthouse. "You don't get treated differently in this country if your name is Martha, Michael or Ja Rule, everyone is treated the same and he'll be treated fairly." The 28-year-old rapper, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, made a brief court appearance and was released on $7,500 bail.
CSI actors rehired at original salary
CBS has rehired CSI: Crime Scene Investigation stars Jorja Fox and George Eads at their original salaries of $100,000 per episode, the AP reports. Fox was dismissed July 14 after failing to provide written assurance that she planned to show up for the start of production on the series' fifth season, while Eads was let go the next day when he didn't show up for work. At the time, both actors were in salary negotiations with the network. After they were canned, Fox and Eads released appeasing statements explaining their predicaments as the result of misunderstandings.
Soprano fans must wait until 2006
Cabler HBO announced Thursday that the sixth and final season of the hit mob drama The Sopranos won't premiere until sometime in 2006, The Associated Press reports. The show, which stars James Gandolfini in the lead role of Anthony Soprano, wrapped up its fifth season last month. "It's like the Harry Potter book," HBO chairman Chris Albrecht said. "You'll wait very long and be happy when you get it." Albrecht added Sopranos creator and executive producer David Chase could now take all the time he needs to write, suggesting the final season could become longer than the customary 10 episodes Chase committed to in January.
Seacrest's On Air off air in some markets
On Air With Ryan Seacrest will soon be off the air in some parts of the country due to low ratings. Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that the Sinclair Broadcast Group has pulled the syndicated talk show from more than 20 of its TV stations. Sinclair stations that carry the American Idol host's show include WCWB in Pittsburgh, WLFL in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., WZTV in Nashville, WTTEL in Columbus, Ohio, and KABB in San Antonio. The move could deal a major blow to On Air, which has been struggling with low ratings since its debuted in January. It's unclear, however, when the move will take effect.
Actor Sorrells arrested in shooting death
Veteran actor Robert Sorrells, who starred in numerous film and TV Westerns including the 1969 feature Death of a Gunfighter and the popular TV series Gunsmoke, was arrested Monday for investigation of murder after witnesses told police he walked into a Simi Valley, Calif., bar Saturday and shot two patrons, killing one, AP reports. A bartender told L.A.'s Daily News the 74-year-old actor had been at the bar until it closed Friday night, returned Saturday morning looking for his credit card, then returned again in the afternoon and opened fire. Police said he shot Arthur De Long, 45, in the back and Edward Sanchez, 40, in the face and back. De Long was killed. Sanchez, 40, was hospitalized in serious condition, AP reports.
Jackson's defense wants more time
In a motion requesting the trial be delayed four months, Michael Jackson's defense team called the singer's child molestation investigation a "breathtaking" effort to take down a major celebrity, the AP reports. "The scope of the prosecution's investigation is breathtaking," the document stated. "This is not a usual criminal investigation. It is an effort to take down a major celebrity. The expenditure of resources by the prosecution is unprecedented and extravagant." Prosecutors said in a reply that while they would not oppose a "reasonable" delay, four months was too long. Jackson, 45, is charged with committing a lewd act upon a child, administering an intoxicating agent and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. He is free on $3 million bail and scheduled to stand trial Sept. 13.
Michael Moore getting Sicko
Director Michael Moore, whose $6 million pic Fahrenheit 9/11 become the first documentary to cross the $100 million mark at the domestic box office, won't have trouble financing his next film, Sicko, a critique of health-maintenance organizations. "Clearly, if you make a movie that has this ratio of how much it costs to its gross, you're going to find an easy time making your next film," Moore told reporters in a conference call over the weekend. Moore said the idea for Sicko grew from a segment he did on his The Awful Truth TV show, in which he staged a mock funeral at an HMO for a patient who was denied an organ transplant he needed to survive. The HMO relented and paid for the transplant.
Guylaine Cadorette contributed to this report.
In the same vein as the 1963 comedy romp It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World and the 1981 The Cannonball Run Rat Race centers around a group of people who go dashing around the country for a big prize. In this incarnation the action starts in Las Vegas where billionaire hotel owner Donald Sinclair (John Cleese) gathers up eight people in his casino and sets them off on a race for $2 million hidden in a locker in New Mexico. He then places bets on whose going to get there first. The eight consist of two scheming brothers (Seth Green and Vince Vieluf) a disgraced NFL referee (Cuba Gooding Jr.) a mother and the daughter she gave up for adoption (Whoopi Goldberg and Lanei Chapman) a beleaguered family man and his wife (Jon Lovitz and Kathy Najimy) an uptight lawyer (Breckin Meyer) who hooks up with a cute helicopter pilot (Amy Smart) and a goofy narcoleptic Italian (Rowan Atkinson).
Like its predecessors Race combines a group of really talented comedians. Somehow this technique harms a film rather than helps it. It stems mostly from the fact that having such a large cast only gives the actors a limited amount of screen time. It's hard for any of them to truly shine. Yet in Race there are a few that just have to stand out. Cleese and Atkinson are among the best of the veterans especially Atkinson whose comedic physicality comes almost solely from his elastic face. And as far as the best of the younger set Green and Vieluf do a fair job having to wade through the horrendous antics presented to them shining for a brief moment when Vieluf (who can't speak properly because of his tongue stud) tells a sob story about their mother. However Goldberg Lovitz and Najimy are completely wasted--and Gooding Jr. just comes off as ridiculous.
In a nutshell Race is just too darn silly much like Mad Mad World was. Outrageous comedies work better in small doses such as There's Something About Mary or even Caddyshack. But when eight different story lines vie to outdo each other in outrageousness it's disastrous. Things can't get much worse than a car chasing after a hot-air balloon somehow hooking a cow to the balloon and having the cow end up hitting the windshield of a bus full of Lucille Ball look-alikes. Or how about crashing Hitler's car into a meeting of World War II veterans and having an ink mark on your upper lip that looks suspiciously like a mustache? There are a few brief moments where you chuckle out loud like when Cleese and his band of cronies start betting on which hotel maid would drop first while hanging from a curtain rod. Other than that the film simply lapses into pure drivel.