Normally when a film about a historical figure finds its way into “awards watch” season you expect a certain level of intrigue from its content.So My Week With Marilyn should by all accounts deliver a little bite. Marilyn Monroe is a staple of American culture. We all know her face her voice her classic lines her wardrobe “malfunctions ” her tumultuous relationship history her power over men and of course that ugly little truth we like to brush under the carpet: the pill addiction that eventually cost her her life. This film purports to give us a look at the “real” Marilyn – the one the millions of representations of her haven’t already shown us. The problem is that by the time the film attempts to explore the darker corners of Monroe’s (Michelle Williams) existence we like our protagonist Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) are already under her spell. Just as we start to condemn her or look at her problems without the biased nostalgic eye most of us are afflicted with the film waves its magic Marilyn wand and quickly abolishes those less glamous notions. The result is a splendid yet decidely indecisive journey with a very complicated and often misunderstood woman
We meet plucky young Colin as he embarks on his first foray into feature films. It’s his dream and thanks to a connection to Sir Lawrence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) he’s got a shot at working on a film. But it’s not just any movie; it’s The Prince and Showgirl a marriage of American and English sensibilities starring Olivier and Monroe. When Colin arrives he’s just a third assistant director to Olivier – essentially a go-fer – and can do little but admire Marilyn without hope. He takes up with a wardrobe girl named Lucy (Emma Watson) and goes about his duties. Of course things don’t stay this simple. His newness lends itself to a bit more flexibility so when Olivier’s rigid practices clash with Marilyn’s laissez-faire style and the production begins to slow to a glacial pace Colin is a natural fit to become Marilyn’s willing ally. Their friendship grows as Olivier’s temper comes to a boiling point and the result makes Marilyn a film tinged with a choice number of harsh realities – but as soon as they rear their ugly heads Monroe’s ever-present spell casts itself over them.
Of course this isn’t so much a criticism of the film as it is criticism of the weight given to the content. My Week With Marilyn is beautifully shot allowing the nostalgic air of London and Monroe in the 50s to take the lead with a few contemporary flairs to help keep us along for the ride. Every detail is impeccable from the music to the settings to the dialog. There isn’t a single weak link in the cast. Redmayne displays all the youth and earnest vigor demanded by his young character. Though her character teeters between a layered enigma and the girl the entire world knows Williams handles each angle as easily as Marilyn handles the men around her. Supporting cast members Julia Ormond (as Vivien Leigh) Judi Dench (as Dame Sybil Thorndike) and Branagh put their wealth of experience to tremendous use. Lesser known actors like Dougray Scott and Dominic Cooper take on American accents with minimal issues and handle their supporting characters with ease – and Watson delivers her usual (but welcome) lovely precocious act.
There’s really nothing wrong with My Week With Marilyn. It’s lovely. It’s smart. It’s extremely well-crafted. It’s a good film. But it does little to excite a reaction beyond that. And when you’re dealing with someone we know as well as most of the world knows Marilyn I doubt I’m the only one who expect a little more…va va voom.
Following a brief history lesson and one of the most asinine opening sequences in recent movie history it becomes apparent that four friends--Caleb (Steven Strait) Pogue (Taylor Kitsch) Reid (Toby Hemingway) and Tyler (Chace Crawford)--possess superhuman powers. In fact the four share an unbreakable bond: Direct descendants of the original settlers of Ipswich Colony during the Salem witch trials of the late 1600s they all inherited their ancestors’ supernatural powers. When they turn 18 they “ascend ” gaining even more potent--but addictive--powers. With Caleb’s 18th just days away his mother (Wendy Crewson) worries about him because each time a magical power is put to use the user ages prematurely and the powers are addictive. But with his girlfriend (Laura Ramsey) in grave danger and an outsider (Sebastian Stan) threatening to infringe on the group’s sacred name and ancestry will Caleb be able to resist? Well it’s official: If you want to break into acting looks are everything. If you look fresh out of the pages of an Abercrombie & Fitch catalog you can act--even if you can’t act! The guys in The Covenant might not be quite that bad but the acting’s just not pretty especially compared to these dudes (it’s a backhanded compliment!). Strait (Undiscovered) Covenant’s resident movie veteran with five films under his belt absolutely has enough Abercrombie in him to warrant infinite chances to get it right but he makes Keanu Reeves look like Robin Williams--or a snail like a cheetah. The rest of the actors tend to overact where Strait underacts. Kitsch a bottle beefcake with one hell of an ironic last name and Hemingway (an equally ironic last name) both seem to think they’re in some throwaway teen horror flick instead of a throwaway supernatural thriller. And the other relative newcomer Stan comes close to decency but undoes his good towards the end. Uwe Boll gets a lot of flak for his films but how ‘bout throwing some hate Renny Harlin’s way?! Harlin has the ability to be a good director--as evidenced on Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger--but that ability has been M.I.A. for over a decade. Fresh off 2004’s clunkeriffic duo of Exorcist: The Beginning and Mindhunters (the latter not being released until last year) Harlin has unfortunately added to his canon o’ crap with The Covenant. Though not nearly as much his fault as it is the actors’ the film remains a directorial mess no thanks to the muddled script from The Forsaken writer J.S. Cardone. Despite the characters trying to spell the story out for us it’s still somewhat hazy and its brief moments of clarity provide little to enjoy. Nice cinematography allows for scarce fun but such scenes turn the movie into an underwhelming Matrix/Underworld hybrid in place of an actual mystery. All in all some teenagers might appreciate the thrills and the loud music but fans of the occult surely won’t.
Top Story: Crowe Tying the Knot on 39th Birthday
Australian actor Russell Crowe plans to marry longtime girlfriend Danielle Spencer on his 39th birthday April 7 in Australia, The Associated Press reports. The actor's publicist, Wendy Day, said Sunday that the Crowe and Spencer would tie the knot at the family chapel on his property in New South Wales. "It's definitely April 7 on his property at Nana Glen," Day said. "It's not a Hollywood, star-studded affair...it's a family and friends affair for about 80 guests." The couple met during the filming of the 1990 film The Crossing. They had an on-again-off-again relationship until Crowe publicly declared his love for her and proposed last November.
"COPS" Producer Feared Dead
Paul Stojanovich, a field producer for the long running show COPS and the creator of the reality TV series World's Wildest Police Videos, fell 300 feet from a cliff into the Pacific Ocean and is feared dead, AP reports. Stojanovich, 47, and his fiancée Kim Srowel were hiking Saturday on a bluff at Treasure Cove in Oregon when he slipped while stopping to pose for a picture. Officers searched for three hours but found no sign of Stojanovich, Sgt. Mike Zimmerman of the Tillamook County Sheriff's Office told the AP Sunday.
Scorsese Deplores Oscar Campaigning
Director Martin Scorsese told Time magazine that Hollywood has grown increasingly aggressive in campaigning for Academy Awards. "If one of the actors from your film is not talking on that screen in the middle of the night, there will be five other actors from five different films talking," Scorsese said, adding that he feels obligated to be interviewed about his Gangs of New York. "The reality is if I don't do PR, I'm hurting the picture. And as many things as I did, that's as many things as I turned down." The film was nominated for was nominated for 10 awards, including Best Director and Best Picture.
Bonnie Hunt, Brad Garrett to Sub for Ailing Letterman
The Late Show With David Letterman has announced a slate of guest hosts for the week of March 17 as Letterman continues to recuperate from shingles. According to Variety, Everybody Loves Raymond's Brad Garrett will take the reins on Monday night, followed by comedian Tom Dreesen on Tuesday and Bonnie Hunt from Life with Bonnie on Wednesday. The show will be in repeats the final two nights of the week due to previously scheduled CBS coverage of college basketball.
Gandolfini and HBO May Resume Negotiations
The Sopranos star James Gandolfini and HBO are considering a deal to drop their dueling lawsuits and proceed with contract negotiations, the AP reports. Network executives involved in the negotiations told The New York Times that Gandolfini, who had previously sought a $20 million annual salary, has now lowered his request to about $16 million a year.
Minnelli and Gest Postpone Anniversary Party
Looks like the looming war in Iraq may put a damper on Liza Minnelli and David Gest's first anniversary party. "We held off sending our invitations out because we want to have our party when the world is at peace and people can come and enjoy themselves," Minnelli said. The party was set for April 15 at New York's Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square. Spokesman Warren Cowan told Reuters, "With the threat of war imminent and considering more than 1,200 guests would be traveling from many different parts of the world, Liza Minnelli and David Gest have decided to postpone their anniversary party."
Country Music Fans Irate Over Dixie Chicks' Comment
Radio stations nationwide are boycotting the Dixie Chicks because singer Natalie Maines, a native of Lubbock, Texas, told a London audience last Monday: "Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas." Maines apologized Friday, saying, "As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President (George W.) Bush because my remark was disrespectful. I feel that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect." But the apology seems to have come too late for some irate protesters. On Saturday in Bossier City, Louisiana, protesters used a 33,000-pound tractor to destroy Dixie Chicks CDs and other items, while Two Dallas stations took Home off their playlists and one station in Kansas City held a Dixie "chicken toss" party to trash the group's CDs.
Superman's "Curse" Plagues Casting
Josh Hartnett didn't want it, and neither, it turns out, does Paul Walker. Walker is the latest star to drop out of the running for the title role in Warner Bros. new Superman movie for director Brett Ratner, Variety reports. Perhaps the "Curse of Superman" is to blame for why the pic is having trouble casting the Man of Steel. The so-called "curse" is based on the misfortune many stars connected to Superman TV series and movies have encountered, such as Christopher Reeve's paralysis, Margot Kidder's nervous breakdown, Richard Pryor's multiple sclerosis and George Reeves' death. Reeves, who played Superman in the 1950s, was found dead of a single gunshot wound to the head in 1959.