A salty skipper sets sail with his motley crew on a three-hour tour ... oops actually on a commercial fishing expedition as storms collide to give the Andrea Gail and crew the cruise of their lives. Ten-story waves and a crumbling ocean cruiser threaten to cut those lives tragically short in this Weather-Channel-on-steroids disaster flick. Unfortunately "The Perfect Storm" starts with a drizzle dampened by cheesy subplots but strap yourself in because this film rocks when the waves get rolling.
Can we end the debate about George Clooney having what it takes to be a movie star right here? After kicking butt in "Out of Sight" and "Three Kings " the former "E.R." stud has amply proven himself. He's every bit the leading man here as a fisherman who's in over his head (literally). To say that Mark Wahlberg plays Gilligan to Clooney's skipper wouldn't be quite fair; he completely sheds his Calvin Klein-clad image as a seaman who's love of swordfishing could cost him his girl and his life. But beware: "Storm" is no "Titanic" disaster-glam here. Clooney and Wahlberg are seriously shaggy and grungy for the entire 2+ hours.
Wolfgang Petersen mercifully avoids the silliness of recent disaster spectacles such as "Twister" and "Volcano " instead attempting to tell this true story with dignity. He flounders with the maudlin "Men Who Fish Too Much and the Women Who Love Them" backstory but redeems himself with ocean storms so sensational you won't be able to cancel your Carnival Cruise quickly enough.
Peterson gives us glimpses of the boats deeper into the storm than the Andrea Gail showing us what's in store for our heroes and building a near-unbearable level of tension.
Supermom Claire (Michelle Pfeiffer) and her geneticist husband Norman (Harrison Ford) are adapting to their only daughter's departure to college when Claire begins sensing an unearthly presence in the couple's lakeside Vermont dream home. Is she losing her marbles or is that the spirit of a beautiful young woman she keeps glimpsing? To say any more (as the too-explicit ad campaign does) would spoil some delicious twists.
The toplining Ford is his usual solid self in a role that plays cleverly on his familiar persona but the picture is Pfeiffer's from beginning to end. She delivers one of her most pleasing performances nicely disarming audience doubts about the story's supernatural elements with some judicious eye-rolling and embarrassed frowning -- her character is so painfully aware that what she's saying sounds crazy how can we possibly doubt her? Among the low-key supporting cast Joe Morton ("Terminator 2") stands out as an amiably down-to-earth psychiatrist.
Robert Zemeckis ("Forrest Gump") takes Clark Gregg's highly derivative haunted house script and pours on the Hitchcockian visual flourishes unapologetically pilfering from the Master's "Rear Window" and "Psycho " among others. His extended homage results in scene after scene of almost unbearable tension as the audience waits for the next shock. There's some clunky storytelling in the first section but the all-suspense second half more than makes up for it with some classic work including what seems destined to go down in movie history as "the bathtub scene."
Bob Rueland (David Duchovny) is deeply in love with his wife. The two spend their days being madly in love and dancing to really old songs until an out-of-control driver turns her into a hood ornament. For Grace Briggs (Minnie Driver) the fatal accident is a blessing as the dead wife's heart will go on -- replacing Grace's weak ticker. As fortune would have it Bob and Grace eventually meet and are immediately attracted to each other (hmmm I wonder why). The only things keeping them from finding true love are irritating friends and relatives a tragic secret and Grace's clashing patterned separates. The premise seems reasonable enough but the film lacks the clever banter and the all-important sexual-tension climax of romantic comedy classics such as "When Harry Met Sally" and "Moonstruck." Instead it just mopes around and occasionally stoops to cliched gags (such as Minnie's encounter with a hair transplant recipient and David's pushy blind date).
It's too bad that an actor as intense as Duchovny is burdened with a character as dull as his K-Mart wardrobe. The truth might be out there but good film roles clearly aren't. Driver manages to rise above her cumbersome surroundings and occasionally offers the audience a chuckle and a briefly moving moment. And sadly the film squanders the talents of its older cast members (including Carroll O'Connor and Robert Loggia) with dreary arguments over the merits of ancient baseball players and deciding who is the Rat Pack's consummate crooner. (And why is O' Connor talking like the Lucky Charms leprechaun?)
Director and co-star Bonnie Hunt (who also co-wrote the story and screenplay) is a funny lady with a brilliantly dry wit. Unfortunately she must have sent her sense of humor to the dry cleaner's while making this film. What we're left with is a been-there comedy that sleepwalks through a tired formula.
The Oscars aren't just about movie stars.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present 17 awards for outstanding scientific and technical achievements. And for the first time, one of the awards will be an actual Oscar statuette, which will go to the Pixar folks for the development of the software "Renderman."
"This is the first Oscar ever given specifically for the development of computer software," Academy President Robert Rehme said today.
The 17 awards were voted by the Academy's Board of Governors, based upon the recommendations from the Scientific and Technical Awards Committee.
The Scientific and Technical Academy Awards will be presented on March 3 in Beverly Hills.
Here's the complete list of winners:
Academy Award of Merit (Oscar Statuette)
To Rob Cook, Loren Carpenter and Ed Catmull for their significant advancements to the field of motion picture rendering as exemplified in Pixar's "Renderman."
Scientific and Engineering Awards (Academy Plaques)
To AKAI Digital for the design and development of the DD8 Plus digital audio dubber specifically designed for the motion picture industry.
To Fairlight for the design and development of the DaD digital audio dubber specifically designed for the motion picture industry.
To Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) for the design and development of the Sony DADR 5000 digital audio dubber specifically designed for the motion picture industry.
To Timeline, Incorporated for the design and development of the MMR 8 digital audio dubber specifically designed for the motion picture industry.
To Joe Wary, Gerald Painter and Colin F. Mossman for the design and development of the Deluxe Laboratories Multi Roller Film Transport System.
Technical Achievement Awards (Academy Certificates)
To Vic Armstrong for the refinement and application to the film industry of the Fan Descender for accurately and safely arresting the descent of stunt persons in high freefalls.
To Bill Tondreau of Kuper Systems, Alvah J. Miller and Paul Johnson of Lynx Robotics, and David Stump of Visual Effects Rental Services for the conception, design and development of data capture systems that enable superior accuracy, efficiency and economy in the creation of composite imagery.
To Leonard Pincus, Ashot Nalbandyan, George Johnson and Tom Kong for the design and development of the Softsun low pressure xenon long-arc light sources, their power supplies and fixtures.
To Glenn Berggren for the concept, Horst Linge for research and development, and Wolfgang Reineke for the final design and production of the Isco-Optic lenses for motion picture projection.
To Udo Schauss and Karl Lenhardt for the optical design, and Ralf Linn and Norbert Brinker for the mechanical design of the Schneider Super Cinelux lenses for motion picture projection.
To Philip Greenstreet of Rosco Laboratories for the concept and development of the Roscolight Day/Night Backdrop.
To Venkat Krishnamurthy for the creation of the Paraform Software for 3D Digital Form Development.
To George Borshukov, Kim Libreri and Dan Piponi for the development of a system for image-based rendering allowing choreographed camera movements through computer graphic reconstructed sets.
To John Pytlak for the development of the Laboratory Aim Density (LAD) system.
To Alvah J. Miller and Paul Johnson of Lynx Robotics for the electronic and software design of the Lynx C-50 Camera Motor System.
To Al Mayer, Sr. and Al Mayer, Jr., for the mechanical design, Iain Neil for the optical design and Brian Dang for the electronic design of the Panavision Millennium XL Camera System.
Now you may stop reading.
"ERIN BROCKOVICH" PREMIERE
SANTA MONICA, Calif., March 17, 2000 -- It's official: Media wags can't stop talking about Julia Roberts and her uh, um, well ... breasts.
"Erin Brockovich" See, the thing is that Julia shows a little more than we're all accustomed to seeing of her in "Erin Brockovich," the new Steven Soderbergh movie opening today, in which our star plays a small-town divorced mother who wages environmental-lawsuit war against a big, evil corporation. And, oh, Julia's character favors halter tops.
Inquiring minds (ours) wanted to know. Precisely how many journalists are obsessed with Julia's latest development? And, how are the stylebook-bound reporter types referring to the, uh, chest area of America's most popular woman?
Hollywood.com enlisted the help of Lexis-Nexis, the online repository of newspaper articles from around the world (actually, we just paid their $24 fee and did the searching ourselves). Our findings revealed not only how many reporters, reviewers and columnists have taken note of the actress's eye-popping attire in the film, but also how bashful they are when they write about it.
Overall, we found 18 articles published through Thursday that made mention of Roberts' frontal attributes in "Erin Brockovich." Eleven writers used what is perhaps the most benign term, "cleavage," although several only did so in a direct, and oft-repeated, quote (Roberts: "I'd gone 30 years without cleavage and suddenly, pow!")
Two other scribes called them "breasts," and one writer ventured to use the word "bosom." Three more articles dared use the term "boobs," but only in a quote from the film's dialogue (When Roberts' boss asks how she plans to obtain some evidence, she replies, "They're called boobs, Ed.")
Here are a few of our fave raves about Julia's boobs:
"As she works her way through dozens of outrageously revealing getups, her cantilevered cleavage becomes an ongoing sight gag. She deserves a new Oscar category: best-supported actress." (Brian D. Johnson, Maclean's)
"This is a film of a hundred skirts -- none lower than the knee -- and a cavalcade of cleavage." (Quentin Curtis, London Daily Telegraph)
"The serious buzz about 'Erin Brockovich' is about the serious cleavage suddenly sported by Julia Roberts. Did her research for the role include a little plastic surgery? That would be a flat-out no." (Lisa Lenoir, Chicago Sun-Times)
"She switches to a tone of witty self-deprecation as she talks about the challenge of making herself credible on screen as a real-life character given to very short skirts and very prominent cleavage." (Jamie Portman, Ottawa Citizen)
"The statuesque blond with the big bosom and teeny miniskirts doesn't know that in her immediate future she holds the destiny of hundreds of people." (Stephen Schaefer, Boston Herald) For the sake of completeness, we also consulted Yahoo! for a list of other words and euphemisms for "breasts," and found the following terms: Heavy hangers, melons, Winnebagos, hooters, rack, bust, mammaries. And, no, we didn't catch any journalists using these in reference to America's Favorite Actress.
As a control experiment, we also ran a search on the phrases "Julia Roberts," "Erin Brockovich" and "talent" (hers). Perhaps tellingly, we found only one article that matched, specifically referring to Roberts' acting talent. In a March 12 story for the Buffalo News, Jeff Simon called the actress "a $20 million talent -- and also, by the way, the most loved woman in current American movies."
On a related note, in our search we inadvertently found an article that referred to Jennifer Lopez's breasts in terminology that seemed, well, fresh. Toronto Star columnist Mike Slaughter, commenting on Lopez's skimpy Grammy-night attire, wrote on Feb. 27: "... The 'dress' certainly took emphasis off Lopez' overexposed butt. And moved it to her overexposed breasts. Gotta say, those puppies are certainly perky."
Gotta say, we didn't catch any reporters calling Julia Roberts's breasts "puppies," or "perky" for that matter.