Novelist Richard Yates tried for years to bring his 1961 story of marital trouble in ‘50s suburbia to the screen but died before seeing it finally come to fruition in the form of this scorching adaptation by writer Justin Haythe. April (Kate Winslet) and Frank Wheeler (Leonardo DiCaprio) are young marrieds living what appears to be the ideal life in the Connecticut of the 1950s. He has a nice job she is a mother of two with dreams of an acting career. But beneath the surface is a lingering dissatisfaction with their lives; Frank is having an affair with an office worker (Zoe Kazan) and April is terribly unhappy with the way her life is turning out. They engage in ferocious arguments constantly disproving the idea they are the perfect couple. One day April decides the answer to all their problems is to move to Paris and start over. Frank initially agrees but the relationship goes downhill even further from there and things spiral out of control. Revolutionary Road’s brilliant ensemble ignites and delivers on just about every level imaginable. Kate Winslet who seemingly can do no wrong these days is heartbreakingly good as a housewife who foreshadows the feminist movement. Her April is an ambitious confused woman tragically living a couple of beats ahead of her time. Leonardo DiCaprio gives his finest film performance as a man who knows he is not living up to his potential but seems to be in a state of denial trying almost pathetically to keep what’s left of his marriage and family together. It’s the subtext and unspoken words between them that really give power to these tremendously effective performances. After the first 10 minutes you will be so mesmerized by their raw naked acting you will forget you are watching the two young stars who first appeared together in Titanic a decade earlier. Kathy Bates as a cheerful real estate agent with her own family problems is also quite good as is Michael Shannon as her disturbed grown son who seems to know more about the sad state of the Wheelers home life than anyone realizes. He should be a frontrunner for the supporting actor Oscar if there is any justice. Also blending in nicely are Kathryn Hahn and David Harbour as neighbors who are the polar opposite of Frank and April. Sam Mendes who won an Oscar for directing yet another stinging view of suburbia with his Oscar-winning American Beauty does another great job of bringing out the essence of what Yates says about a generation hiding behind a façade of happiness but living on the cusp of great profound social change. Mendes lets long dialogue scenes play out packing them with riveting moments. His filmmaking style should be savored for the insights it provides and the emotional challenges it presents. Mendes also manages to get an extraordinary portrayal of suburban angst from his real-life wife Winslet. Not since Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton battled so brazenly in 1966’s Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf has there been a wounded couple’s marriage so deeply and poignantly exposed on screen.
Author Stephanie Meyer unleashed a phenomenon with her Twilight novels a teen vampire romance that has spurned a teen cult following. The good news is the movie is surprisingly just as potent -- a spellbinding terribly romantic hypnotic and entertaining film. At its heart are the elements that make any teen drama work; in this case it’s forbidden love. It starts with 16 year-old Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) who relocates from her sunny Phoenix to the cold gray foreboding atmosphere of Forks Washington to live with her father. At her new high school she meets the incredibly attractive but mysterious Cullen clan including the allusive Edward (Robert Pattinson) who immediately intrigues her. What she doesn’t know yet is that Edward and his “family” are a group of vegetarian vampires who drink only animal blood and must live in the terminally cloudy region of Northwest. Edward tries to drive a determined Bella away by revealing his true identity but soon realizes she is the girl of his dreams. But as the two begin their complicated romance things get dicey when another group of um meat-lovin’ vampires target Bella. Teen Beat should clear their covers for a new group of stars sure to become huge with the female teen set -- and probably their mothers as well. Exuding a brooding reserve and air of mystery the follicley-endowed Robert Pattinson is reminiscent of James Dean and completely believable as a conflicted bloodsucker who becomes dangerously attracted to a mere mortal. His Edward’s unpredictable nature becomes irresistible for the attractive Kristen Stewart’s Bella as she grows closer to him despite his attempts to keep her at arm’s length. Not since Baby yearned for Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing has there been such an effective pairing for the acne-challenged set. Pattinson and Stewart simmer with teen angst and desire and could be the next big thing -- especially if there are more Twilight sequels to follow. The Cullen clan led by foster parents Peter Facinelli and Elizabeth Reaser is perfectly cast with a good looking bunch of vampiric thesps including newcomers Ashley Green Kellan Lutz Jackson Rathbone and Nikki Reed. Red-headed Rachelle LeFevre as bad vamp Victoria is ideal along with Cam Gigandet and Edi Gathegi as the guys in her group of nomadic vampires. Director Catherine Hardwicke has certainly shown she understands the ever-changing moods of youth with her previous efforts (Thirteen Lords of Dogtown). But those flicks were just warm-ups for what she taps into with Twilight. She creates a wonderful creepy kind of muted dark and cloudy society with imposing camera angles and aching teen lust from her bright red-lipped hormonally charged leads. And thankfully she leaves the fangs on the cutting room floor. These vampires are actually relatable and Hardwick takes what could have been an awful juvenile programmer and lifts it into a different league creating not only a movie that should cross over beyond it’s target demo but one that makes us genuinely excited for the inevitable sequels.
You can’t buy happiness so why not waste millions of dollars betting on illegal drag races between rare exotic cars. That’s just what L.A. pimp/record producer Infamous (Eddie Griffin) movie mogul Jerry (Tim Matheson) and a sociopath counterfeiter known to his family as Uncle Mike (Angus MacFadyen) like to do with their free time and seemingly endless piles of cash. These guys will gamble on just about anything: For example they bet $1 million Uncle Mike’s nephew can drive from L.A. to Las Vegas in under two hours. An impossible feat made more so by driving at night racing at speeds of over 200 mph through windy desert roads using special night goggles and zipping past CHiPs unnoticed like the Road Runner. But the annual multi-million dollar race is coming and Infamous needs a driver. Enter the movie’s hero and narrator Natasha (Nadia Bjorlin) who has retired from racing and is busy pimping rides and fronting a hair-metal band. After some teasers the mega-stakes illegal drag race kicks off deep in the Nevada desert where a fatal mistake costs one racer their life and another their freedom. The script gives little if any help to the actors in this scattered camp-fest meets a misogynistic hip-hop video—starting with funnyman Eddie Griffin basically doing standup and one-liners throughout. Angus MacFadyen (Saw III) brings some presence to the drowning film with his shell-shocked Martin Sheen/Apocalypse Now parody—strange drunken dances to boot. Veteran actor and man of a thousand bad parts Tim Matheson--who has managed to stay afloat with B movies since his glory days as Eric “Otter” Stratton in Animal House--actually seems to be having a little fun here. Sadly though the rest of the supporting cast is easily forgettable and at times comes off a little too much like the cast of a late night Cinemax skin-flick. Too bad Redline is PG-13. Redline is Andy Cheng’s (End Game) second time helming a feature film but he is no stranger to movie sets as his past credits include a myriad of stunt coordination work in films like Rush Hour and The Scorpion King. A lot of his early work was spent on Jackie Chan films which explains a lot about his directing style with Redline. Part of the charm of a Jackie Chan film is well Jackie Chan and all his amazing moves but take out Chan and leave the ridiculous cartoon characters and inane plots that surround his Hong Kong reels and you have Redline. Amidst the awkward one-liners and misplaced acrobatic fight scenes choreographed to unidentifiable hip-hop music some of the car races--as when a Porsche 911 takes on a $1.2 million Ferrari Enzo--are actually quite cool. This is where Cheng really shows his chops and he makes the most of his limited resources creating a really tacky however absolutely superbly bad-funny cult classic. Redline would have made an excellent double-feature back in 1975 alongside Death Race 2000 boasting: “See the world in the year 2007 where decadence rules and reckless millionaires live and die by fast cars and even faster women.”
Actress Angelina Jolie was named as goodwill ambassador by the UN refugee agency UNHCR in Geneva on Monday, Reuters reports. Jolie was apparently close to tears when she recalled her trips to refugee camps in Pakistan and Sierra Leone, describing the conditions as frightening and shocking. Other goodwill ambassadors have included Sophia Loren and Richard Burton.
French actor Philippe Leotard died Saturday in a Paris clinic from respiratory failure at the age of 60, Reuters reports. Leotard appeared in films such as Les Miserables in 1995 and French Connection II in 1975. President Jacques Chirac said in a statement, "For all French people, Phillipe Leotard will remain one of our most moving artists."
A Marin County Superior Court is refusing to dismiss a lawsuit over the ownership of five of Jerry Garcia's guitars, the Associated Press reports. Grateful Dead Productions, the company representing the surviving band mates, asked Judge Michael Dufficy to dismiss a lawsuit by Doug Irwin for custody of the guitars. Irwin, a custom guitar maker who built the instruments for Garcia, says he is the guitar's rightful owner. Garcia left the guitars to Irwin in his will but Grateful Dead Productions claims to have bought the guitars and that they were not for Garcia to give away. Dufficy ruled last week that the company had not proven that Irwin's three-year statute of limitations to claim the guitars had expired.
A federal appellate court dismissed a lawsuit by producer Kevin McClory against MGM and Danjaq Prods. that claimed he was the co-creator of the James Bond character. According to Variey, Monday's decision upheld a lower-court ruling last year dismissing the suit on the grounds that McClory took too long to assert his rights to the Bond character. McClory collaborated with writer Ian Fleming in the 1950s on a script for Thunderball, and obtained some rights to the story in 1963.
The Dixie Chicks are countersuing Sony Music Entertainment and accusing the company of "systematic thievery" for duping them out of more than $4 million in royalties, according to AP. The country music trio is also seeking to end a seven-album deal with Sony. The company sued the Dixie Chicks in July for breach of contract and accused the group of trying to leave the label by trumping up claims that they had been underpaid. The suit also said that the Dixie Chicks demanded the company renegotiate their contract despite being paid millions.
In the ongoing battle for the Screen Actors Guild presidency, Valerie Harper has turned down Melissa Gilbert's invitation to take part in a public debate, Variety reports. Harper said that SAG issues are private and should not be reduced to fodder for the media. Gilbert responded to Harper's statements by saying it would be inappropriate to expect members to vote without having the opportunity to hear the candidate's views on relevant issues. Gilbert has chosen MASH star Mike Farrell as her running mate.
Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham is hitting the bookstores in double doses. According to Reuters, the self-promoting ex-Spice Girl is publishing an autobiography entitled Learning to Fly on September 13. That is 11 days before an unauthorized biography, Victoria's Secrets, hits shelves. Written by Virginia Blackburn, the tell-all Victoria's Secrets is based on interviews with ex-boyfriends, friends and former dance teachers. Posh also has a new single coming out on Sept. 17 called "Not Such an Innocent Girl."
The WB network has decided to shelve the 13-episode season of the animated series Baby Blues, as well as six episodes held over from last season, Variety reports. The show reportedly did not fit in with WB's five new live-action, adult-oriented shows this fall.
The Cuban artists and bands that were nominated for the Latin Grammy awards have all been cleared to travel to attend the Sept. 11 event in Los Angeles and are awaiting entry visas from the US government, Reuters reports. The show was moved to Los Angeles from Miami because of concerns that protests from Cuban exile groups could jeopardize the safety of performers and guests.
Jennifer Lopez, Celia Cruz and Lou Diamond Phillips have been added as presenters for the 2nd Annual Latin Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in next month. Artist Alejandro Fernandez and his father Vicente Fernandez will also perform together for the first time in the U.S., joining previously announced appearances by Juanes, Luis Miguel, Alejandro Sanz and Thalia. The Latin Grammy Awards will be telecast on CBS on Sept. 11.
In a boy band first, the Backstreet Boys are preparing to release a greatest hits album. According to ABC News, the compilation is scheduled for release on Oct. 23 and will include the new single "Drowning" from their latest album Black & Blue. The Backstreet Boys have released four albums so far.
Whoopi Goldberg's online gift currency company Flooz.com will file for bankruptcy, according to its Web site. According to a message posted on the site, the company blames changes in capital markets and a general slowdown in the economy for the setback. However, a New York Times report noted that the Web site became a target for thieves in both Russia and the Philippines who used stolen credit cards to buy $300,000 in Flooz during the past three months.