In the vein of Field of Dreams Astronaut Farmer is about building the seemingly impossible. Thankfully in this case it’s simply a rocket in the barn not a ballpark in a cornfield where ghosts of baseball heroes past can play the game. That is a bit far-fetched. Instead we meet Charles Farmer (Thornton) a man who was once on track to be an astronaut but was forced to leave NASA to save his family farm. He still wants to go into space however and so sets out to build a rocket inside his barn. By the time the movie starts the rocket is pretty much put together so we aren’t burdened with how he gets his supplies. All Charles needs now is 10 000 pounds of fuel which shoots up a big red flag with the government--a government that now considers Charles a threat--while the media look at him as a big story. But no matter the odds nothing can deter Charles from his dream to break through the atmosphere and orbit the earth. It’s refreshing to see Thornton as a loving father who wants to inspire his kids rather than make them go get him another beer. Of course Charles Farmer isn’t all sweetness and light—he’s an obvious eccentric whose obsession to launch into space effects the entire family—and it’s definitely a role right up Thornton’s alley. Virginia Madsen does an admirable job as the loving and supportive wife who nonetheless puts her foot down when things get out of hand while Bruce Dern plays the grizzled but equally supportive father-in-law. There’s also a supportive lawyer played by Tim Blake Nelson. In fact besides the big evil NASA chief (J.K. Simmons) and two bungling FBI agents (Mark Polish and Jon Gries) everyone supports Charles in his crazy dream. How could he fail? From the writing-directing team of Michael and Mark Polish (Northfork) Astronaut Farmer is pure old-school—an unassuming throwback to those feel-good movies of the ‘40s and ‘50s. In fact Thornton told Hollywood.com he considers this his “Jimmy Stewart” movie. While the Polish brothers based Charles Farmer on their own eccentric father and obviously harbor their own boyhood dreams of being an astronaut the guys still follow a nice and simple formula finding some good actors to carry it out and adding cool visual effects when they can. Yes the more cynical moviegoer may look at Astronaut Farmer as completely improbable and trite. But those willing to be taken back to a simpler time--when movies were about walking out triumphant--should find watching Astronaut Farmer a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.
Top Story: Veteran Actor Cronyn Dies
Actor Hume Cronyn, best known for starring in films such as Lifeboat, The Postman Always Rings Twice and Cocoon, died Sunday after battling prostate cancer at the age of 91. He was married to the late Jessica Tandy, who died in 1994, and starring with her in many plays including The Gin Game and Foxfire. Cronyn was the winner of three Emmys, several Tonys and received a supporting actor Oscar nomination for The Seventh Cross (1945).
Harry Potter Books Vanish
Perhaps the anticipation is too much? Nearly 8,000 copies of the new Harry Potter book Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix were stolen from a warehouse in Northern England over the weekend, Reuters reports. Police said they were checking a white trailer truck found 20 miles from the warehouse for evidence. Authorities also cautioned any potential recipients of the stolen books not to touch them before the book is released on Saturday. "We want to warn members of the public that if they handle the book between now and Saturday in any way other than legitimately, they may face criminal charges," a spokeswoman told Reuters. Police estimate the haul was worth about around £130,500 ($220,000 in U.S. dollars).
Gilbert Iffy on SAG Re-Election
At a press conference Monday, Screen Actors Guild president Melissa Gilbert said she may not run again as the guild's leader, especially if the proposed merger between SAG and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists is voted down by members early next month. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Gilbert expressed confidence that the voting members will approve the controversial merger, which requires 60 percent approval. "Overwhelmingly I am hearing a positive response," she said.
Actress Beckinsale Engaged
British thesp Kate Beckinsale (Pearl Harbor) has become engaged to director Len Wiseman, who recently directed the actress in her upcoming movie Underworld, Reuters reports. On the syndicated show Access Hollywood, Wiseman said he popped the question on Saturday at the Viceroy Hotel in Santa Monica, Calif., and filled their hotel suite full of Beckinsale's favorite flower, lilies, to celebrate.
CSI Star Weds Longtime Girlfriend
William Peterson, known for his starring role in CBS' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, married his longtime girlfriend, former schoolteacher Gina Cirrone, in a weekend ceremony in Italy, The Associated Press reports.
Maui Film Festival Fetes Hopkins
At the Maui Film Festival's closing ceremony Friday, Adrien Brody accepted the festival's Silversword Award on behalf of winner Anthony Hopkins, who was unable to attend, AP reports. The festival said the Silversword "honors a special film artist for their contributions to the art of filmmaking and their personal commitment to effect positive change in the world." Other festival award winners included director Rob Reiner, Kate Hudson, Luke Wilson and Geena Davis.
Role Call: Malkovich as Kubrick, Star Trek's Blalock Does Slow Burn
John Malkovich is set to star in the black comedy Color Me Kubrick. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film is based on a true story about a man who conned his way into London's high life by pretending to be the late and reclusive director Stanley Kubrick during the time Kubrick was making his last film Eyes Wide Shut…Jolene Blalock of UPN's Enterprise is heading toward to the big screen to star opposite LL Cool J and Ray Liotta in Slow Burn. The story centers on a politically ambitious district attorney (Liotta) who enters a 24-hour showdown with a powerful gang leader only to find he is being manipulated by a beautiful assistant district attorney (Blalock) and an enigmatic stranger (LL Cool J).