Two cops arrive at an abandoned house where they've heard screaming. They find a woman hunched over and her eyes are plucked out. A seven-foot monster Jacob Goodnight (Kane) then hacks one of the officers in half and cuts the other officer's arm off--but not before he shoots the maniac in the head. That officer Frank Williams (Steve Vidler) recuperates and four years later is assigned to a youth detention program. His first job is to escort some delinquents to an abandoned Blackwell Hotel where a little old historian Margaret (Cecilly Polson) needs volunteers to help her tidy up. Instead one by one the young people become part of the eyeball collection of the psycho who was traumatized by an over-religious mother. Aren’t we all? Yes there is acting in this including from the World Wrestling Entertainment bad-boy Kane who could develop a Freddy Krueger-like franchise as this homicidal religious freak. He grunts and huffs but also sobs and shows a conscience at crucial times. And he's scary not laughable which is always a danger in these kind of films. With what little they have to play off of the supporting team is good especially Craig Horner as an ambitious thief who has maps of all the secret corridors in the hotel. Among the delinquents are streetwise Christine (Christina Vidal) an a--hole bully Michael (Luke Pegler) a tattooed beauty Kira (Samantha Noble) and a seductive shoplifter Zoe (Rachael Taylor). Taylor’s Paris Hilton-like persona makes her one of the victims you can't wait to see get it. Some of the others hardly last long enough worth mentioning even though many of them have characters that are surprisingly fleshed-out before they become popped-out eye candy. See No Evil offers plenty of jump moments squirming gross-out scenes and hide-your-eyes shocks with a plot reminiscent of any of the Friday the 13th or Saw movies. Some of the gore is particularly gruesome and if you don't know what an eyeball looks like when it pops out of your head then you'll certainly have an anatomy lesson here. First-time feature director Gregory Dark known for making music videos utilizes those fast-cut edits muted colors and washed-out tones to create the horror. The camera closes in on bugs flies and even dives into the eye socket of a hollowed-out face. It follows a line of booby-traps in the hotel a jiggling arm that's cut off and even into a hole in the psycho-monster's head which is filled with maggots. Dark is never shy about any of it and gore fans won't be disappointed.
The story is the same. Poor little orphaned Oliver Twist (Barney Clark) has had a hard life. Either toiling in a horrible workhouse or being beaten at a miserable foster home it's hasn't been easy for the 9-year-old. The boy finally runs away to London where he is immediately spotted by the Artful Dodger (Harry Eden) a wily pickpocket. He whisks the sickly Oliver off to meet Fagin (Ben Kingsley) the leader of the pickpocket gang. Under the watchful guidance of Fagin and the other boys Oliver is taught the fine art of lifting. But when he finds himself at the wrong place at the wrong time and is falsely accused for a theft Oliver is inadvertently taken under the wing of the kindly Mr. Brownlow (Edward Hardwicke) a rich man who adopts the boy. Finally some happiness right? Not if you're in a Dickens novel. No sooner is Oliver contentedly ensconced with Brownlow when tragedy strikes again. Fagin's business partner the utterly cruel Bill Sykes (Jamie Forman) kidnaps Oliver and forces him to help them rob Brownlow's house. And when that doesn't go so well Bill then wants to get rid of Oliver. Only with the help of Bill's mistress Nancy (Leanne Rowe) who feels sympathy for Oliver can the boy be reunited with the only person who has ever showed him any kindness.
In a film full of fine performances from relatively unknown British actors Ben Kingsley stands out--and rightly so. Finally Kingsley has been given a part worthy of his talent and the Oscar-winning actor plays one of literature's more memorable characters to the hilt. Part Shakespeare's Falstaff part Lord of the Rings' Gollum Kingsley enjoys playing up Fagin's sprightly nature and physicality. Fagin is a merry prankster even if he's all hunched over and craggy faced with a high squeaky voice and a long moldy beard. But Fagin suffers. He doesn't really want to corrupt young Oliver. He knows the boy is pure of heart but he's too afraid of getting caught--or of evoking Bill's wrath--to let Oliver go. Kingsley subtly shows this internal struggle of good and evil raging within Fagin. As far as the rest of the cast it's interesting to note how all the children are fresh-faced and wide-eyed especially Clark as the oh-so-fragile yet surprising resilient Oliver and Eden as the crafty but goodhearted Dodger. All the adults especially the mean-spirited ones are either very severe and haggard or doughy and sweaty. In fact the film is a great study in faces a testament to Polanski's keen eye for the human condition.
Roman Polanski may have made some bad choices in his personal life but the man sure knows how to make a movie. With Oliver Twist the Oscar-winning director returns to the 19th century England he so vividly painted in his 1979 Tess--except this time around it's a bleak existence in the mud-caked streets of Victorian London being used as a backdrop instead of the lush English countryside. Polanski and his team painstakingly recreate the newly industrialized London from the ground up. It's a bustling teeming frightfully dirty environ filled with pestilence and vermin of all kinds. It must have been such an awful and a brutal time period to have endured and Polanski wants to make sure we understand this so we'll be that more amazed by how this little boy survives in it. There are times you almost wish they would break out into song ("Food! Glorious food!") just to lighten the mood a bit--but of course that's an entirely different Oliver Twist. And therein lies the film's problem: too many Twists. By count there's about 18 other versions either done as feature films or television movies/miniseries--and that's not including the Oscar-winning 1968 musical Oliver!. With all of Polanski's talents he could have picked something that was a little less of a retread.
The film opens as teenagers Katie (Amber Tamblyn) and Becca (Rachael Bella) are having a sleepover and spooking each other with ghost stories. Trouble is the urban legend Becca retells is all too true as Katie is just about to find out in the most grisly of ways. The story centers on a mysterious videotape that should you be so unfortunate as to view it will kill you in seven days (you know this because someone calls right after you watch it to alert you that you're gonna kick). Katie and her friends watched it and sure enough they're all dead a week later--sparking Katie's aunt an investigative journalist named Rachel (Naomi Watts) to uncover what happened and why. When the trail leads her to the sinister tape she watches it receives the foreboding phone call and consequently sets off on a race against time to somehow save her life by finding out the meaning of what she's seen. She enlists the help of Noah (Martin Henderson) the father of her rather strange and solitary young son Aidan (David Dorfman)--who like all kids in horror movies these days is seeing frightening visions too--and over the course of seven days the two find themselves embroiled in a mystery that involves the tape a twisted family and dying horses.
The acting by all involved is generally good. Naomi Watts who hit the radar with David Lynch's Mulholland Drive last year ably carries the film although there are times in close-up when she looks too self-aware with an almost smug expression as though she's about to smile when the situation isn't the least bit funny. Maybe it's because she knows her Rachel does some pretty mind-blowingly foolish things the most noteworthy among them leaving the deadly video out where her curious son (who annoyingly invokes Haley Joel Osment and looks absolutely nothing like either of the folks playing his parents) can pop it in the ol' VCR. Though Watts is a basically likeable fresh face any number of up-and-coming actresses could have done this role--as well or better.
It's been awhile since jaded horror fans have had something to get excited about. Gore Verbinski justifies his career after the miserable The Mexican with this taut thriller which opens with the teen girls in a truly terrifying sequence reminiscent of Scream. Verbinski is keenly aware of the value of keeping things just out of sight and not resorting to cheap horror movie shlock so there are genuine chills to be had (animal lovers will want to cover their eyes during one particularly horrifying scene). Although the moments that'll really make you jump out of your skin are few and far between the secret behind the videotape is compelling as is the imagery. Without overdoing it The Ring displays some fantastic cinematography particularly with the Buñuel-esque videotape (you could have heard a pin drop as engrossed as the audience was at this review screening) and the shots of gloomy mist-enshrouded Washington State are disquietingly atmospheric. However the last third of the movie is somewhat disappointing and contains several utterly ridiculous scenes--particularly one at the ending (which actually has a nice twist).
Grammy Award-winning artist Eminem was sentenced to two years' probation Tuesday for carrying a concealed weapon.
The rapper had entered a guilty plea with prosecutors in February after he pistol-whipped a man he saw kissing his wife, Kimberly, outside a Detroit-area nightclub called Hot Rocks in June.
Macomb County Prosecutor Carl Marlinga said earlier that he would seek no more than six months because Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Bruce Mathers III, "has no record and there was no serious injury," The Associated Press reported.
Circuit Judge Antonio Viviano also fined Eminem $2,500 and ordered him to undergo counseling and submit to drug testing. The rapper also must ask the court for permission to travel overseas.
Eminem already has reached a preliminary divorce agreement with his wife that gives him joint custody of their 5-year-old daughter.
On the advice of his attorneys, Eminem made no statement in court. He stood silent between his attorneys in a dark suit and tie.
The rapper's mother, Debbie Mathers-Briggs, was at court Tuesday to see her son's sentencing.
"It was just basically to make sure he was OK," she told Reuters. "I didn't want my son to get jail time. You may have differences, but you never stop loving a child," she told Reuters.
Eminem said after his sentence that he was looking forward to putting the case behind him.
"The judge treated me fair, like any other human being," he said, AP reported. "I just want to get it behind me and get back to spending time with my little girl and making music."
Springsteen shows who the "Boss" is
New Jersey rock star Bruce Springsteen won his legal battle Tuesday to block Masquerade Music Ltd. from releasing 19 songs he recorded before he became famous.
The London Court of Appeal dismissed Masquerade's challenge of a December 1998 decision preventing the release of an unauthorized album featuring Springsteen's early work. The London-based Masquerade had imported about 75 copies of the album, Before the Fame, and had "threatened to release many further copies," said High Court Justice Francis Ferris, according to the BBC News.
The songs were recorded in the early 1970s, several years before Springsteen's hit "Born to Run." The album would feature the "Boss" accompanying himself with guitar and piano, material that was never meant for release.
Springsteen felt that Masquerade's attempt to claim ownership of the songs' copyright was an attack on his artistic integrity
"The music you release is the way you shape your career, and I have always believed you have to do all you can do to protect your work," Springsteen told Reuters.
The singer received an award of $725,000 in legal costs and the cost of the appeal, still to be determined.
Strike Waivers OK'd by SAG president
Strike waivers for individual filmmakers have received the approval of Screen Actors Guild president William Daniels. He will support granting the waivers if the qualifiers accept the guild's labor demands during a work hiatus, but he stressed the ultimate decision will be made by SAG's negotiating committee.
"I want to keep actors working," Daniels said Monday following a news conference about the announcement of legislative hearings on agent issues.
Some more stringent guild members believe this move may take away leveraging power at the negotiation table, while others see it as a tactic to bring out the benefits of the guild contract.
SAG has received hundred of requests from filmmakers seeking waivers in the last few months. The SAG contract is due to expire June 30. Negotiation talks have not yet been set.
Castro attends "Thirteen Days" screening
Producers of Thirteen Days, including star Kevin Costner, Peter Almond and Armyan Bernstein, spent many hours Monday viewing the film and discussing its historical significance with Cuban president Fidel Castro -seven hours, to be exact, lasting until 2 a.m. The actor was very appreciative of the president's time and that Castro responded very favorably to the film, Costner's spokesman Stephen Rivers told Reuters.
The film's ending has Moscow agreeing to withdraw the missiles from Cuba to the annoyance of Castro, who resented the deal being cut over his head. The U.S. delegation explained to Castro before the screening that the film represented "one perspective on the crisis from one side" and encouraged the Cubans to make their own version.
Not surprisingly, the Cuban news agency, the Presna Latina, felt the film displayed a superficial vision, typical of Hollywood.
"The North Americans are presented yet again as the saviors of the world, while Cuba appears in the film, according to some critics, as mere decoration in a sugary film of pure Hollywood style," the agency said. "With more dialogue than action, the film tends to send the spectator to sleep," it added. The film is set to be screened Wednesday in Moscow for Russian dignitaries and former U.S. cabinet members who were involved in the Missile Crisis, including former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.
Napster continues to filter music files
Napster filed a third compliance report on Tuesday with the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, saying it has blocked more than 1.7 million files from its service, substantially improving its filtering technology.
The online song-swap service reported that its has reduced in half the average number of music files shared by users.
Napster has spent $750,000 for six-month's worth of access to the song database of the Internet music company Gracenote and hired 15 staffers to increase its efforts.
In March, Napster disputed claims filed by the Recording Industry Association, which blamed the Web site of inadequate filtering efforts.
In opposition, Napster said the RIAA's complaint dealt with parameters of injunction and not the file sharer's effort to comply with it.
Both companies will have a chance to reconcile their differences on Tuesday at a hearing before District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel to discuss compliance issues.
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Andrew Morton to write unauthorized Madonna biography
Andrew Morton, the author of such celebrity biographies as Princess Diana and Monica Lewinsky, has a new subject: pop star Madonna.
St. Martin's Press purchased the North American rights to Morton's unauthorized Madonna biography, in which he will "disclose the unknown Madonna," St. Martin's president and publisher, Sally Richardson, said Tuesday in a statement.
"Andrew loves complicated women and has a genius for getting into their psyche and telling the world what makes them tick," Richardson added.
A 500,000-copy first printing is planned. The book is scheduled for release in November.
Morton wrote 1992's Diana: Her True Story and 1999's Monica's Story, both New York Times No. 1 bestsellers.
Queen tune makes a comeback
British pop singer Robbie Williams will work with Queen to record a new version of the rock band's 1977 hit "We Are the Champions." The song will be included on the soundtrack for A Knight's Tale, the upcoming film starring Aussie hunk Heath Ledger, according to Reuters.
A spokesman for Williams emphasized that this was a onetime collaboration.
"There are no plans to release it as a single here or in the U.S. It's for a film, so it will just be part of a soundtrack," he said.
Williams recorded the track with Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon from Queen, which originally sold more than 100 million records. Lead singer Freddie Mercury died in 1991 of AIDS.
"Captain Corelli" to receive London premiere
The highly anticipated love story Captain Corelli's Mandolin will receive its world premiere in London on Thursday, April 19, according to Reuters.
The film, starring Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz, is based on the bestseller by British novelist Louis de Bernieres. It details a love affair between an Italian officer, Corelli, and a local girl on the Greek island of Cephallonia during World War II. This leads up to the events of September 1943, when, after the Italians declared an armistice with Allies, the Italian soldiers left on the island refuse to surrender to the Germans and fought in vain for 10 days.
The premiere will benefit the British Red Cross.
Paul McCartney's daughter getting into the act
Fashion designer Stella McCartney, the daughter of former Beatle Paul McCartney, wants Beatles documentary filmmaker Geoff Wonfer to film her as she sets up her own fashion label, according to Reuters. Wonfer produced The Beatles Anthology and has made films about McCartney's late photographer mother, Linda.
The documentary would chronicle McCartney's departure from the French fashion label Chloe to create her own Gucci-backed designer label.
Several television stations are bidding for the rights to air the documentary.
"Ab Fab" is back
The British cult hit comedy Absolutely Fabulous will return to television after a five-year absence, with the original cast in place, according to USA Today. The BBC and Comedy Central will produce six new episodes to air in November.
Known affectionately among fans as Ab Fab, the sitcom follows the misadventures of two boozy, sex-starved, fashion-crazed friends played by Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley.
Rosie goes home after stint in hospital
Talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell was sent home from a New York hospital Monday afternoon, after she was admitted for a staph infection in her hand, according to USA Today. She will not return to her show this week as she is still recovering and on antibiotics.
O'Donnell went to the emergency room on April 3 complaining of excruciating pain in her hand after she had surgery to repair a tendon from a fishing accident last year. Barbara Walters and other members of the show The View are filling in this week for O'Donnell. She will return to her duties behind the desk on Monday.
Actor and activist Graf dies
David Graf, a character actor who starred in all seven Police Academy films, died Saturday of a heart attack in Arizona. He was 50.
Best known for his role as Eugene Tackleberry in the Police Academy series, and for his recurring role as Col. Chase on NBC's hit drama The West Wing, Graf also was very active with the Screen Actors Guild. He served on the national board as a Hollywood representative, the TV-theatrical steering committee, the new technologies caucus and the national disciplinary review committee.
"His kindness, generosity of spirit and ability to tirelessly work for the better of actors will be missed," SAG President William Daniels told Variety.
His other credits includeRules of Engagement, Citizen Ruth and Guarding Tess.
He is survived by his wife, Kathy, and two children.