Michael (Zach Braff) is 29 and living the dream. He’s got the perfect girlfriend Jenna (Jacinda Barrett) a secure architecture job and a solid support system from his buddies (Casey Affleck Eric Christian Olsen Michael Weston). But when the ramifications of Jenna’s pregnancy begin to set in--“no more surprises ” as he puts it--life is a dream no longer. While in the beginning stages of his early-midlife crisis at peak vulnerability Michael comes upon a very willing and eager college girl Kim (Rachel Bilson) and winds up doing something spontaneous for the first time in forever: Kim. As Michael tries to explain to Jenna what may or may not have transpired on that fateful night her parents (Blythe Danner and Tom Wilkinson) are going through another rough patch in their old decrepit marriage and his friends are tangled up in yuppie blues. It seems no one is ready for his or her last kiss. Ensemble films are generally well acted but Last Kiss’ cast might be Oscar-good. Braff the centerpiece will predictably get flak simply because he’s the ‘It’ dude du jour but don’t hate him just ‘cause everyone likes him. He shows his range more than ever and still maintains his relatability even though he’s out of his career-sustaining element of Mr. Nice/Sensitive Guy. “Voice of a generation” tags are neither accurate nor fair; simply “capable actor” will do. Barrett (Poseidon and yes The Real World!) has good chemistry with Braff and even better emotional sensibilities. She goes loud to soft on a dime--emotionally and decibel-wise--as though she’s been through this nightmare before; let’s hope not! Bilson (The O.C.) makes a very strong feature-film debut although she is there more to serve as the impetus for emotion than to emote herself. The best performances come from Wilkinson the most underemployed actor in the world and Danner. The very embodiment of the devolution of love into ennui they are believable and Danner for her amazing histrionics is deserving of serious (supporting) award consideration.
No this is not Garden State 2 and no Braff did not direct or write. In fact the only true similarity Kiss bears to State is its soundtrack in which Braff did have a hand. Instead it was another actor/director Tony Goldwyn (Ghost: actor; A Walk on the Moon: director) at the helm. Goldwyn’s best ability seems to lie with the high-drama scenes in that no scene turns maudlin on his watch. His style contains a bit of Robert Altman jazz which set against such a superb ensemble cast gives each of the many characters a turn in the crisis carousel: each character’s dilemma has a different distinctive pitch. But writer Paul Haggis (Million Dollar Baby Crash)--who only appears to have written every past current and future movie--gives the film that extra mustard. Haggis manipulates us with high tension but unlike others who’ve come close to his level it’s all always palpable if not always completely plausible. Throw in some of his incredible dialogue and it’s easy to see why he’s been in such high demand since 1977 when he wrote for The Love Boat.
Lucy Liu splits and finds new love
Charlie's Angels beauty Lucy Liu has reportedly split from fiancé Zach Helm--but has already embarked on a new romance. The pair got engaged in April, after they had been dating for ten months. At the time, Liu described the 29-year-old screen-writer as her "soulmate" and the pair were expected to share a private and intimate wedding in the near future. But although the wedding plans have been abruptly called off, Liu has allegedly already found a new love. According to In Touch magazine, the 36-year-old actress is dating Elf actor Will McCormack, the brother of actress Mary McCormack.
Beckinsale wanted to quit Aviator
Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese reportedly had to beg Kate Beckinsale not to quit The Aviator, after she began to doubt her acting career. Sources claim Beckinsale threatened to walk off the set of the Howard Hughes biopic, leading to tension between her and the film's committed star DiCaprio. A source tells British newspaper the Daily Telegraph, "Kate was Leo's first choice to play Ava, and, with the director Martin Scorsese, he managed to persuade her to star on. "Kate is a consummate professional, and it wasn't that she didn't believe in the film, but it was more that she was wondering whether acting was really for her. Leo was passionate about the film and obviously this created tensions between them." Beckinsale, 31, recently revealed she is reconsidering her career, because she has reached the age her actor father Richard Beckinsale was when he died of a heart attack. She said earlier this month, "I'm in a funny year as I am the age my father was when he died, and my daughter is the age I was then (five). I think it is completely inevitable for me to have a bit of a review at this point, in the spiritual sense."
Winslet's primitive Christmas
Kate Winslet and her family were forced to spend Christmas in a primitive outhouse, after builders failed to finish work on their new home in time. Winslet, director husband Sam Mendes, daughter Mia and baby son Joe moved into the $6.65 million estate in England's Cotswolds weeks ahead of the festive season--but, despite spending thousands on the sumptuous pad, they still can't move into the main mansion yet. Winslet's pal says, "There is a skip in the garden and the main house is still not ready, but Kate and Sam were so determined to be in by Christmas they decided to move in to one of the outhouses. She's delighted to be on the estate, even if she's not in the main house."
Wahlberg to toughen up for role
Mark Wahlberg is poised to propel the brutal Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) into the mainstream in a new movie. The Boogie Nights star is in negotiations to muscle-up for the film about the sport, in which combatants engage in bloody, bare-knuckle brawls in an octagon-shaped ring. UFC owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta are onboard as executive producers, while 15 Minutes movie-maker John Herzfeld has signed up to write and direct the project, reports PageSix.Com. The Feritta brothers recently completed 13 episodes of The Ultimate Fighter, a reality series for Spike TV.
Connery recycles shoes
Former James Bond star Sean Connery never buys shoes--preferring to wear the same pairs over and over again. The 74-year-old actor can't understand why women need to continuously shop for footwear, because he's quite content to still use the ten pairs he was given for free years ago. He says, "Why are women obsessed with buying shoes the whole time? Years ago I was given ten pairs when I was making a film. I still wear them."
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As the weary crew of the World War II sub USS Tiger Shark heads home to Connecticut after a long grueling mission they come across three survivors of a torpedoed British hospital ship including one female nurse (Olivia Williams). Tough ambitious Lt. Brice (Bruce Greenwood) takes the survivors aboard--to the chagrin of the crew who is reminded of the old adage that a woman on a sub is bad luck. Bad luck it turns out is exactly what they get--whether it's due to the woman aboard pranksters playing tricks the sanity-eroding effects of oxygen deprivation or ghosties in the dark. The sub and its crew already dodging the Nazi U-boats that hover above them in the Atlantic waters periodically sending down depth charges or trolling the deep with massive sub-catching hooks must also contend with the strange happenings inside--frightening noises voices whispering from the sub's depths phantasmic visions and alarmingly inexplicable mechanical failure. Suddenly the sub is stuck on the ocean floor--oxygen is running out the too-close quarters are seemingly getting even more cramped and bizarre unspeakable accidents are killing off the crew.
Chilling with a glittering snakelike gaze Greenwood's Brice manages to cover his slowly unraveling psyche with a capable-officer façade like a lid on a pressure cooker-- until the lid blows off completely. His performance is vaguely reminiscent of Jack Nicholson's in The Shining in that somewhere beneath the escalating madness there's a sense of reason that sometimes peeks out like a face behind a mask to let us know he hasn't gone completely over the deep end (no pun intended). Matt Davis (Blue Crush) shows promise as young Ensign Odell the only seaman willing to stand up to Brice and question his dubious decisions while helping to save the sub from certain disaster. Other standout performances include Holt McCallany (Panic Room) as the strong sensible Lt. Loomis who staunchly believes there's a rational explanation for the weird happenings on the sub until he literally gets the scare of his life; and Jason Flemyng (Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) as crewman Stumbo a practical joker who reels from the reality of the situation that unfolds.
Below was first envisioned years ago by Requiem for a Dream writer/director Darren Aronofsky who reportedly once claimed it would be the scariest movie of the last decade. In director David Twohy's (Pitch Black) hands it's creepy but hardly that scary. The film definitely captures the cramped claustrophobia of a sub trapped at the bottom of the ocean while still showing the hugeness of the vessel and the U-boats above it; there are also some fascinating underwater shots that reinvent the submarine movie altogether. Where the film falters though is in the scare factor. C'mon…jaded horror fans are hardly going to take seriously things like a Benny Goodman record suddenly playing on its own ghostly faces appearing in the dark or voices whispering from the beyond although the scene in which Stumbo thinks he hears a dead body wrapped in a blanket talking to him is truly unsettling--there should have been more like it. Though the film tries to blur the line between what is happening in the seamen's minds and what are really supernatural occurrences eventually it sort of degrades into a "haunted house beneath the sea" kind of thing despite the more intriguing psychological angle. The ending is the most disappointingly silly part of it all conveniently wrapping everything up in a neat package.