This highly talented blonde Broadway actress possessed an intriguing, husky voice and a brittle, sometimes twitchy yet sexy style. An off-beat combination of a vivacious Southern belle and an insecure...
Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
Top Story: Kate Hudson Expecting First Child
Actress Kate Hudson and her rock star husband, Chris Robinson, are expecting their first child early next year, Reuters reports. A spokesman for Hudson, whose moment to shine came in her breakout role as Penny Lane in the 2000 Oscar winning movie Almost Famous, declined to give a more exact due date for the baby. Hudson, 24, and Robinson, 36, were married in December 2000. Robinson, the former frontman for the Black Crowes, is expected to begin touring again soon with his new band, New Earth Mud. Hudson is currently starring in the romantic comedy Alex and Emma, which opens this weekend. This will make a grandmother of Hudson's Oscar-winning mom, Goldie Hawn, the star of the 1960s TV show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In.
Spears, Berry and Costner Get Hollywood Stars
Britney Spears, Halle Berry and Kevin Costner are getting stars on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, Johnny Grant, chairman of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, announced Thursday. Anthony Hopkins, John Singleton, Ted Turner, Glenn Close, Journey and 17-year-old twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen will also get the celebrated sidewalk honor next year.
Stewart Trial Set for January 12
A federal judge ruled Thursday that Martha Stewart's trial for securities fraud will start on Jan. 12, Reuters reports. U.S. Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum set the trial date after defense lawyers said they needed more time to review the government's evidence against Stewart and Peter Bacanovic, her former stockbroker at Merrill Lynch & Co. Stewart, 61, was indicted June 4 and pleaded not guilty of securities fraud, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and making false statements. If convicted, she could face up to 30 years in prison and $2 million in fines.
Actor's Union Shuts Down Voight Project
About 30 union actors and crew members, including Tess Harper and James Cromwell, have managed to shut down the non-union film Deadly Course, a project they believed was being produced by Screen Actors' Guild member Jon Voight. A representative of the Intl. Assn. of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) who asked not to be identified told Reuters, "The working conditions were horrendous. The pay was terrible. Some people were getting $6-$7 an hour. Some were working 20-hour days." Voight confirmed to Reuters the project had been completely shut down but insisted he was not working on the film.
Exorcist Author, Director Sue Warner Bros.
William Peter Blatty, the author of The Exorcist, and William Friedkin, the director of the 1973 movie, have filed suit against Warner Bros., claiming the studio breached its fiduciary duty by self-dealing the rights for a newer version of the film. They also claim the studio would sell the rights to its sister cable TV networks TNT and TBS for little to no profit. Warner Bros., however, asked that the lawsuit be dismissed, claiming it has no financial responsibility to Blatty and Friedkin. Superior Court Judge Laurie Zelon denied Thursday Blatty and Friedkin's claim of breach of fiduciary duty, but set a July 14 trial for the two's claims of breach of contract and misrepresented accounting, the AP reports.
No Spike TV for Viacom
The five appellate judges of the New York State Supreme Court upheld an injunction Thursday preventing media conglomerate Viacom Inc. from renaming its TNN cable network "Spike TV," Reuters reports. Filmmaker Spike Lee, who directed Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X and 25th Hour, had won a temporary injunction last week stopping the name change, claiming he feared he would be erroneously associated with the network. Viacom, which plans to feature racy animated series such as Pamela Anderson's Stripperella and The Ren & Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon, wanted to change the name of its cable network to coincide with a programming shift.
Russell Simmons Pushes To Reform Drug Law
Impresario Russell Simmons went to Albany, N.Y., to push politicians to reform drug laws, but instead got blamed for taking up too much of the legislature's time. According to Reuters, Republican State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said the Wednesday night seven-hour marathon meeting with Simmons "took too much time." The two sides made progress, however, reaching a last minute agreement on how to reduce sentences for people now serving time mandated by the Rockefeller-era drug laws, which often result in jail time for first offenses and give judges almost no discretion.
Celebrities Entertain U.S. Troops in Gulf
Kid Rock and Wayne Newton will perform for U.S. troops in the Gulf this week as part of the first large-scale entertainment tour of the region. Dubbed Project Salute 2003, the performers will visits American military personnel in Baghdad, the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and the Ali al-Salem air base in Kuwait, said Donna St. John, Reuters reports. Other celebs on the entertainment roster include actresses Alyssa Milano, Brittany Murphy, country singer Lee Ann Womack, actor Gary Sinise, comedian Paul Rodriguez and the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.
Role Call: Zellweger To Play Joplin in Feature Biopic
Was affiliated with Samuel Goldwyn Productions for a number of films in the mid-1930s
First film with director William Wyler, "These Three"
Worked primarily on the stage during the 1940s, playing leading roles on Broadway, off-Broadway and on tour
Made film acting debut in a leading role in Paramount's "Fast and Loose"
Joined Warner Bros.; made a film opposite rival Bette Davis, "The Old Maid"
Received Best Actress Oscar nomination for her portrayal of "Becky Sharp"
Signed with Paramount
Last film for six years, "Old Acquaintance", opposite Davis
Returned to film to play her first supporting role, in William Wyler's "The Heiress"
Debut as chorus girl in "The Music Box Revue"
Last film with Wyler, "The Children's Hour", a remake of "These Three"
This highly talented blonde Broadway actress possessed an intriguing, husky voice and a brittle, sometimes twitchy yet sexy style. An off-beat combination of a vivacious Southern belle and an insecure yet superior modern woman, Hopkins signed as a leading lady with Paramount in 1930 and gained early stardom for her roles in productions including the delightful Ernst Lubitsch musical "The Smiling Lieutenant" (1931) and Rouben Mamoulian's striking "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1932). In Lubitsch's masterpiece, "Trouble in Paradise" (1932), she displayed a sharp talent for sly, sophisticated banter, and she won an Oscar nomination in the title role of Mamoulian's "Becky Sharp" (1935). The feisty, intelligent Hopkins gave what is probably her finest dramatic performance in William Wyler's sterling if significantly altered adaptation of Lillian Hellman's play "The Children's Hour", "These Three" (1936).<p> Known to be difficult on the set, Hopkins flitted from studio to studio. After her early tenure at Paramount, she was under contract to independent producer Samuel Goldwyn during the mid-30s and by the end of the decade had moved to Warner Brothers, where a rivalry with Bette Davis manifested itself in both the plotline and the actual filming of the touching soaper, "The Old Maid" (1939). Her stardom began to decline toward the end of the decade after several films ("The Woman I Love" 1937, "Lady with Red Hair" 1940) fizzled at the box office. For a time Hopkins had been a critics' darling; as her films became more routine and she became increasingly disenchanted with her opportunities in Hollywood, some of her performances became more mannered. After another competitive reteaming with Davis in the enjoyably catty "Old Acquaintance" (1943), which put her fidgety qualities to good use, Hopkins returned to Broadway and stage tours and bid farewell to Hollywood for six years.<p> Hopkins began playing occasional film character parts at the end of the 40s. She was especially good in her first major supporting role in films, that of the solicitous, romantic aunt in a fine reunion film with Wyler, "The Heiress" (1949). Hopkins made intermittent appearances through the mid-60s, including one in Wyler's 1962 remake, "The Children's Hour" (playing the aunt of the character she had played 26 years earlier). She also did occasional TV work, perhaps most memorably in an outlandish yet highly effective and even moving Norma Desmond-type turn as an overage flapper still living in her youthful past in "Don't Open Till Doomsday", an especially memorable installment of the cult classic anthology series, "The Outer Limits".