July 23, 2007 10:07am EST
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.
October 15, 2003 2:13pm EST
Top Story: Kidman Wins Damages Against Tabloid
Star Nicole Kidman, who won an Oscar for her performance in the 2002 drama The Hours, won undisclosed libel damages and an apology Tuesday from the British tabloid Sun that reported in March she had had an affair with her Cold Mountain costar Jude Law, which led to the breakup of his marriage. In London's High Court, the Sun admitted the allegations about Kidman were untrue. "The defendants are here today to publicly set the record straight and through their solicitor to personally apologize to the claimant for the distress and the embarrassment they have caused her," said the Sun's lawyer Daniel Taylor. He added that the paper vowed never to repeat the allegations and would pay fines and damages. Kidman was not in court but said in a statement: "I am glad that this has finally been resolved." According to BBC News, she will donate the balance of the damages received from the case to a charity that helps Romania's abandoned children.
Miramax To Downplay Bennifer in Jersey Girl Ads
Miramax Films has decided to spin the advertising around their upcoming film Jersey Girl around director Kevin Smith instead of its stars, Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck. Launch.com reports that the studio decided to rethink its marketing strategy following a supposed Bennifer backlash with the bomb of Affleck and Lopez's Gigli. Jersey Girl was originally set for release this fall but was pushed back to a 2004 release date. The promotion for Smith, who has directed Clerks, Mallrats and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, is likely to be the biggest he has ever received.
Actors Join Screener Ban Opposition
Variety reports actors Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Frances McDormand, Rosanna Arquette, Hilary Swank, Nick Nolte, Sissy Spacek, Ellen Burstyn, Chloe Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Don Cheadle, Willem Dafoe, Olympia Dukakis, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard, and Selma Blair have all signed on to protest the Oscar screener ban. "This is an acknowledgement that actors are often the triggers for financing and distribution decisions on independent movies so it's really important their voices are heard," said IFP's executive director Michelle Byrd. "The ban creates a disadvantage for actors in films released by the studio divisions, which often are the ones that need real support campaigns."
Martha Stewart Doubtful She Will Serve Jail Time
Lifestyle mogul Martha Stewart, who is facing criminal charges in an insider trading scandal, told Barbara Walters in an exclusive interview with ABC News that although she is feeling scared about going to prison, she doubts she will end up behind bars. Stewart came under fire last year for selling shares in biotechnology firm ImClone Systems Inc. just before the company reported some bad news that sent its stock plunging. She is a close friend of former ImClone chief executive Sam Waksal. Reuters reports the interview, the first broadcast TV interview Stewart has granted since her June indictment on obstruction of justice charges, is set to air during the November ratings sweeps, but the network declined to give an exact date.
Tommy Hilfiger's Daughter Stars in MTV's Rich Girls
MTV is set to debut a new reality series tilted Rich Girls, which follows two wealthy young women as they dash around New York City mindlessly spending money. According to The Associated Press, one of the girls is Ally Hilfiger, the daughter of designer Tommy Hilfiger. "We just prance around this damn city like it's, like, our shopping haven," Hilfiger says in the first episode. But she adds, "Just because we're rich doesn't mean that we're not good people." In the premiere scheduled to air at 10:30 p.m. ET Oct. 28, cameras capture Hilfiger and her friend Jamie Gleicher riding in a limousine as they shop for prom dresses. Gleicher, however, says she has learned "money does not buy happiness."
Role Call: Wilson-Sampras Joins Shopgirl Cast
Bridgette Wilson-Sampras has joined the cast of the Steve Martin comedy Shopgirl, which is being directed by Anand Tucker and co-stars Jason Schwartzman and Claire Danes, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The film is based on Martin's best-selling novella of the same name. The Shopgirl role marks a return to acting for Wilson-Sampras, who took some time off after having a baby with her tennis champ husband, Pete Sampras.
November 27, 2002 11:37am EST
Nicolas Cage has filed for divorce from Lisa Marie Presley after three months of marriage, citing irreconcilable differences, Entertainment Tonight reported Tuesday. The couple, who wed in Hawaii on Aug. 10, attended the screening of Cage's latest film Adaptation this past weekend. Responding to the divorce filing, Presley issued a statement to ET through her spokesperson, saying, "I'm sad about this but we shouldn't have been married in the first place. It was a big mistake." In turn, Cage told ET through a spokesperson, "I did not talk about the marriage and I'm not going to talk about the divorce." Cage, 38, was formerly married to actress Patricia Arquette while Presley, 34, was previously married to musician Danny Keough and pop oddity Michael Jackson.
A Georgia judge denied a motion Monday to drop charges against singer Bobby Brown stemming from a 1996 traffic stop, Reuters reports. The charges resurfaced when Brown was arrested two weeks ago in Atlanta and charged with possessing less than an ounce of marijuana, speeding and having no driver's license or proof of insurance. Brown, who appeared in court with his pop star wife Whitney Houston at his side, is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 21 and remains free on bond.
Jackass star Johnny Knoxville expressed sympathy to the family of a teen who died last week in a stunt possibly inspired by the TV show. "We've done everything we can to prevent this type of thing from happening," he told The Knoxville News-Sentinel Monday. "We don't take submissions. We never have. We have warnings at the beginning and the end. In every interview I have ever given, I have stressed: 'Don't try this at home.' We steer away from stunts that are easily imitable."
Tennis champ Pete Sampras and his wife, actress Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, have announced the birth of their first child, Reuters reports. A message on Sampras's official Web site says, "Congratulations to Pete and Bridgette on the new addition to their family: Christian Charles Sampras."
Animal rights activists said Monday that Italian model and animal rights defender Fabio demanded that Sam's Club retail chain pull its "Fabio Collection" of women's apparel when he found out some of the coats had fur collars. But Fabio's manager Eric Ashenberg told Reuters,"There's no flap. He was showcasing the line of apparel in Chicago and New Jersey the last two weeks and in any collection there are different styles." Turns out it was just a tryout for a nationwide collection next year. Added Ashenberg, "Based on Fabio's feelings, the collection will have no fur."
Britney Spears's Manhattan restaurant Nyla, which opened last June, has undergone a menu overhaul, the New York Post reports. Cajun-inspired dishes like fried okra and Southern sushi have been replaced with continental cuisine with an Italian flair, but says Time Out New York's restaurant critic Reed Tucker, the new Nyla is not unlike the old Nyla--"another bad Midtown New York restaurant that just [happens] to be owned by Britney Spears." The eatery is named for two of the pop singer's favorite places--"NY" for New York and "LA" for Louisiana.
Superior Court Judge Marilyn Hoffman refused to throw out a lawsuit Monday brought last year by the writer and director of The Exorcist, who accused Warner Bros., Turner Network Television and Turner Broadcasting System of cheating them out of profits. According to the AP, scribe William Peter Blatty and director William Friedkin allege that AOL Time Warner, which owns the three companies, sold the license to the 1973 horror film to TNT for $110,000 when it was worth three times that.
It's still business as usual for Steven Seagal, despite his break with former business partner Julius Nasso. According to Variety, Seagal has closed deals to star in a remake of the 1975 thriller The Yakuza and as a former Vietnam veteran in The Rescue. Both projects are set up at Warner Bros.-based Franchise Pictures.
Following the success of Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie, Artisan Entertainment is bringing a second VeggieTales cartoon to the big screen, Variety reports. The Bob and Larry Movie, which revisits the computer-generated exploits of Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber, is set for a 2005 bow. The biblical backdrops of the VeggieTales franchise straight-to-video releases have made them a favorite with Christian audiences.
Leonardo DiCaprio may reunite with What's Eating Gilbert Grape director Lasse Hallstrom. According to Variety, Hallstrom has come on board to helm the A-bomb thriller Bombshell for Universal Pictures, which is eyeing DiCaprio as a potential starring lead. The film is based on former Moscow-based journalists Joseph Albright and Marcia Kunstel's novel Bombshell: The Secret Story of America's Unknown Atomic Spy Conspiracy.
November 27, 2002 11:37am EST
Extreme Ops should be a James Bond movie. Then at least we'd expect the ridiculous plot--plus we'd see some sex. Alas the film takes itself too seriously and those wacky opportunities are simply missed. As it stands a crew of commercial filmmakers--director Ian (Rufus Sewell) producer Jeffrey (Rupert Graves) coordinator Mark (Heino Ferch) and cameraman Will (Devon Sawa)--known for going that extra mile to get extreme action shots are hired to shoot a commercial for a Japanese digital video camera. Their idea is to take three skiers to the Austrian Karawanken Range bordering Yugoslavia and have them outrun an avalanche. No sweat. Up for the task are Chloe (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras) a downhill gold medal winner; wild-child snowboarder Kittie (Jana Pallaske); and all-around adrenaline junkie Silo (Joe Absolom). They make it to Austria and shack up in an unfinished resort nestled in the mountains (you were expecting a warm chalet?) where a band of Serbian terrorists led by war criminal Pavle (Klaus Lowitsch) has also happened to make its base camp. Seems this group of not-so-happy campers has a master plan involving world destruction which the hapless filmmakers uncover. Darn the luck. It's going to take some fancy-schmancy stunts to foil these bad guys--but our motley crew of extremists is up to the task.
This is one of those times you wonder what initially convinced good actors such as Rufus Sewell (A Knight's Tale) and Rupert Graves (The Madness of King George) to make this film. Maybe they thought they could improve it along the way. Or maybe the extreme stunts tempted them to have a little fun in the Austrian Alps. Regardless only Sewell rises above the mire every once in a while; the rest of the cast wallows in it. Newcomers Pallaske and Absolom have very limited range and do better when they simply stand around getting snow in their hair while Sawa (Slackers) seems sorely out of place. Wilson-Sampras has some potential as an actress (her performance breaking up with Matthew McConaughey on their wedding day in The Wedding Planner comes to mind) but an awful script and a bunch of second-rate actors bring her down. The only exceptions are her scenes with Sewell. As for the villains it seems Hollywood has a new bad guy of choice. It used to be the Russians but these Serbs are mighty vicious and suitably over the top. It's their job to make the heroes look good and they do it adequately.
Putting aside a weak plot and bad acting the point to this movie would be the opportunity to see some amazing stunts right? Crazy snowboarders outrunning avalanches attack dogs and evil terrorists all while leaping off snow-capped cliffs and outmaneuvering other perilous terrain. This can make a movie worthwhile if done correctly but sadly that is not the case with Extreme Ops. Director Christian Duguay (The Art of War) manages to mess up even this simple task. The first few shots of the skiers shooting down the hill with the snow tumbling after them are pretty spectacular yet after about the eighth time you see this same shot it starts to get a little boring. On top of that there are some extraordinarily bad blue-screen moments when it's clear the actors are standing in front of a fake background. In this CGI age audiences have high expectations and are very unforgiving of shoddy filmmaking. The worst of the movie's offenses however happens in the editing room. With all the good guys bad guys skiing helicopters and running through snow you're never quite sure who's who or what's what.
June 01, 2001 7:32am EST
After being drugged by a rival earl French nobleman Count Thibault (Jean Reno)
murders his bride-to-be Rosalind Malfete (Christina Applegate) on the eve of
their impending nuptials. While awaiting his execution Thibault sends his servant
André (Christian Clavier) to fetch a wizard (Malcolm McDowell) who can send Thibault
back in time so he can undo the night's tragic events. The spell backfires and
sends Thibault and his sidekick into the future instead of the past straight
into a Chicago museum's exhibit of medieval artifacts in the year 2000. Thibault
soon realizes that the exhibit's curator Julia Malfete (Applegate again) is
his descendant 30 generations removed after semi-convincing her of this he enlists
her help in finding the wizard who can send him back to the 12th century to save
their lineage. Meanwhile Julia's unfaithful money-grubbing husband Hunter (Matthew
Ross) throws a wrench in their plans and tries to have Thibault arrested for
false impersonation in order to hold onto the Malfete family fortune Julia stands
to inherit. Though the plot is riddled with holes the story line takes full advantage
of the 12th-century-meets-21st-century jokes and pranks including the visitors'
fascinations with modern day transportation electricity toilets and urinals
all guaranteeing good laughs.
Reno and Clavier reprise their roles in this American adaptation of the 1993 French
blockbuster Les Visiteurs. Reno brings both warmth and wit to Thibault's
character and carries the film from beginning to end. Tough chivalrous and charming
he evokes the legendary knight in shining armor. Though Clavier who plays his
subservient sidekick and brunt of all jokes elicits a few chuckles with his slip-and-fall
physical comedy he also demonstrates a tender side when he pleads with Thibault
for his freedom. Applegate puts on a believable British accent as Rosalind in
12th-century England but fares much better as Julia in 21st-century Chicago.
McDowell in the role of the blundering wizard shows that his strength may lie
more in the villainous than the comedic: his character is never really developed
leaving his portrayal one dimensional and stereotypical at best. Not much can
be said for the performances of Ross and Bridgette Wilson-Sampras either. Ross'
character is your run-of-the-mill cookie-cutter bad guy with no morals while
Wilson-Sampras overplays the made-up preening secretary.
The beginning of the film which is set in 12th-century England is done surprisingly
well from the costumes down to the cinematography; unfortunately this seems
to be where the bulk of the budget was spent. The modern day portion of the film
is sadly lacking especially when juxtaposed against the cold dark and realistically
gloomy feel of the first half. The special effects during the latter portion of
the film seem almost cartoonish and diminish the overall look of the film. While
Just Visiting retains the principal players of its French counterpart
including writer Jean-Marie Poire and director Jean-Marie Gaubert don't expect
this film to achieve a fraction of the success it had on the other side of the
Atlantic. Yet it provides good laughs from start to finish and the best moments
astonishingly enough were not limited to the ones shown in the film's trailer.
March 19, 2001 11:50am EST
Pete Sampras has got a new partner.
In life, that is.
The Associated Press reports today that the tennis champ married actress Bridgette Wilson at his Beverly Hills, Calif., abode on Saturday. According to AP, Wilson was wearing a Vera Wang gown and more than $400,000 worth of diamonds. Sampras wore a traditional black tuxedo.
Sampras, 29, and Wilson, 27, became engaged on May 29.
Besides being Sampras' girlfriend (and now wife), Wilson was also Miss Teen USA in 1990 and is an actress in her own right. Her screen credits include "Last Action Hero," wherein she played Arnold Schwarzenegger's daughter, and the teen flicks "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and "Billy Madison."
Sampras is one of the world's top tennis players. A former No. 1, he has won all of the Grand Slam tournaments in tennis except for the French Open.