Sideways star Paul Giamatti has given F. Gary Gray's N.W.A. biopic some real star power after signing on to play music mogul Jerry Heller in the film. Heller, who represented Elton John, Pink Floyd and Journey, managed the rap act that featured Ice Cube and Dr. Dre.
He also founded Ruthless Records with N.W.A. star Eazy-E.
Giamatti joins producer Ice Cube's son O'Shea Jackson, Jr. who will portray his dad in the movie, Straight Outta Compton, and other actors including Jason Mitchell and Corey Hawkins.
It's not the first time he'll play a ruthless music boss on the big screen - he portrayed Tom Cruise's slippery manager Paul Gill in Rock of Ages.
The trailers for Hope Springs might lead you to believe it's a romantic comedy about a couple trying to jumpstart their sexless marriage but it causes more empathetic cringing than chuckles. Audiences will be drawn to Hope Springs by its stars Meryl Streep Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell and Streep's track record of pleasing summer movies like Julie & Julia and Mamma Mia! that offer a respite from the blockbusters flooding theaters. Despite what its marketing might have you believe Hope Springs isn't a rom-com. The film is a disarming mixture of deeply intimate confessions by a married couple in the sanctuary of a therapist's office awkwardly honest attempts by that couple to physically reconnect and incredibly sappy scenes underscored by intrusive music. Boldly addressing female desire especially in older women it's hard not to give the movie extra credit for what writer Vanessa Taylor's script is trying to convey and its rarity in mainstream film. The ebb and flow of intimacy and desire in a long-term relationship is what drives Hope Springs and while there are plenty contrived moments and unresolved issues it is frankly surprising and surprisingly frank. It's a summer release from a major studio with high caliber stars aimed squarely at the generally underserved 50+ audience addressing the even more taboo topic of that audience's sex life.
Streep plays Kay a suburban wife who's deeply unsatisfied emotionally and sexually by her marriage to Arnold. Arnold who is played by Tommy Lee Jones as his craggiest sleeps in a separate bedroom now that their kids have left the nest; he's like a stone cold robot emotionally and physically and Kay tiptoes around trying to make him happy even as he ignores her every gesture. One of the most striking scenes in the movie is at the very beginning when Kay primps and fusses over her modest sleepwear in the hopes of seducing her husband. Streep makes it obvious that this isn't an easy thing for Kay; it takes all her guts to try and wordlessly suggest sex to her husband and when she's shot down it hurts to watch. This isn't a one time disconnect between their libidos; this is an ongoing problem that leaves Kay feeling insecure and undesirable.
After a foray into the self-help section of her bookstore Kay finds a therapist who holds week-long intensive couples' therapy sessions in Good Hope Springs ME and in a seemingly unprecedented moment of decisiveness she books a trip for the couple. Arnold of course is having none of it but he eventually comes along for the ride. That doesn't mean he's up for answering any of Dr. Feld's questions though. To be fair Dr. Feld (Carell) is asking the couple deeply intimate questions so if Arnold is comfortable foisting his amorous wife off with the excuse he had pork for lunch it's not so far-fetched to believe he'd be angry when Feld asks him about his fantasy life or masturbation habits.
Although Arnold gets a pass on some of his issues Kay is forthright about why and how she's dissatisfied. When Dr. Feld asks her if she masturbates she says she doesn't because it makes her too sad. Kay offers similar revelations; she's willing to bare it all to revive her marriage while Arnold thinks the fact that they're married at all means they must be happy. Carell's Dr. Feld is soothing and kind (even a bit bland) but it's always a pleasure to see him play it straight.
It's subversive for a mega-watt star to play a character that talks about how sexually unsatisfied she is and how unsexy she feels with the man she loves most in the world. The added taboo of Kay and Arnold's age adds that much more to the conversation. Kay and Arnold's attempts at intimacy are emotionally raw and hard to watch. Even when things get funny they're mostly awkward funny not ha-ha funny.
The rest of the movie is a little uneven wrapped up tightly and happily by the end. Their time spent soul-searching alone is a little cheesy especially when Kay ends up in a local bar where she gets a little dizzy on white wine while dishing about her problems to the bartender (Elisabeth Shue). Somewhere along the line what probably started out as a character study ended up as a wobbly drama that pushes some boundaries but eventually lets everyone off the emotional hook in favor of a smoothed-over happy ending. Still its disarming moments and performances almost balance it out. Although its target audience might be dismayed to find it's not as light-hearted as it would seem Hope Springs offers up the opportunity for discussion about sexuality and aging at a time when books and films like 50 Shades of Grey and Magic Mike are perking up similar conversations. In the end that's a good thing.
While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
The initial previews of Hanna brought memories of a very dissimilar movie with a pretty similar subplot: Kick-Ass.
In that movie Nicolas Cage trained his preteen daughter to be a deadly fighter. In Hanna Eric Bana does the same for Saoirse Ronan. However Kick-Ass was a lively (yet macabre) comic book farce and Hanna looked to be a pitch-black action film without much in the avenue of story or character. Sure they'd drag us along with questions about the girl's origin and compel us with the life-affirming dedication that the CIA Agent (Cate Blanchett) hunting Hanna has to her mission. Perhaps some interesting action but little else would this movie offer.
Thankfully my preconceptions were proved to be all wrong. Hanna was far more than an unusual twist on an action film. Although the movie does have its weaker points Hanna is above all an intriguing and beautifully shot movie. The development of Hanna as a character is sensational. She doesn't spend her screen time taking orders from her father Erik Heller and killing nameless soldiers. A good deal of the film has her learning about the modern world with which she has no actual experience. The strongest scenes in fact were the lighter ones: Hanna in her travels befriends an English family—the first people with whom she has managed to form any relationship.
All of the acting performances are impressive especially the supporting ones. The family members are hilarious but not caricatures—they're believable as a family. Tom Hollander as Isaacs the "unlicensed" assassin is creepy and horrifying but not superhuman. Even more provocative than its performances is the film's direction. You will be hard-pressed to find a more beautifully and precisely shot film. The scenes of action comedy tenderness and tension are all shot to perfectly capture the mood.
The Hanna DVD available today has a fair deal of interesting bonus features. Director Joe Wright gives humble and interesting but sometimes overly pragmatic commentary on the film and on a small featurette called "Anatomy of a Scene." In addition there are two Deleted Scenes and an Alternative Ending all worth watching if only to see Hanna's character further developed.
The movie is a delightful surprise and the DVD offers genuinely interesting bonuses that help the viewer to understand this unique complex film.
A Santa Monica, Calif., physician whose name appeared in a Los Angeles County probation report released in the course of Winona Ryder's sentencing on shoplifting charges denied Monday that he knowingly allowed patients to abuse drugs, People.com reports. Dr. Jules Lusman, who reportedly specializes in laser hair removal and skin resurfacing, had his license revoked Friday by the Medical Board of California for incompetence in the case of eight patients, although Ryder was not
identified by name. Lusman blamed his downfall on a handful of "problem patients" and told Inside Edition, "I certainly did not believe at the time I attended to (Ryder) professionally that she was in an abusive situation." At the time of Ryder's arrest last year, Beverly Hills police found a syringe and seven different kinds of painkillers. According to the probation report, Ryder received 37 medications from 20 doctors between January 1996 and December 1998. Ryder's publicist's office reportedly denies knowing if the actress was Lusman's patient or not.
Britney Spears sought a restraining order Monday against a man who allegedly stalked her at her home and her parents' home, Reuters reports. Court papers identify Spears' alleged stalker as Masahiko Shizawa, a 41-year-old resident of Japan. Shizawa has been ordered to stay at least 1,000 yards away from the singer at all times.
Actor Tom Sizemore was arrested Saturday for allegedly punching his girlfriend (NOT, police say, onetime madam Heidi Fleiss--the two reportedly split up in recent weeks) in the face and throwing her to the ground. He was later released on $2,500 bail, Reuters reports. The actor, best known for his role as Sergeant Horvath in Saving Private Ryan, was ordered to appear in court Jan. 8 for arraignment.
Forty years of crashing guitar riffs has reportedly taken its toll on The Who guitarist Pete Townshend. Britain's The Sun newspaper quoted the rock legend as saying his hearing has worsened since that band's U.S. tour last year. "My right ear, which encounters my own edgy guitar and the machine-gun strokes of the drums, has suffered badly," he told the paper.
Dreamworks is in negotiations with director Gore Verbinski and scribe Ehren Kruger for a sequel to the hit thriller The Ring, Variety reports. The film, which revolved around a killer videotape, was a surprise hit this fall and has already grossed $123 million at the North American box office.
Saturday Night Live alum Cheri Oteri has joined the cast of New Line Cinema's When Harry Met Lloyd: Dumb & Dumberer, a prequel to the 1994 blockbuster Dumb & Dumber that starred Jim Carrey. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Oteri will play Ms. Heller, a high school cafeteria teacher. The film also stars Eric Christian Olsen and Derek Richardson.
Sex and the City writer Cindy Chupack has signed a seven-figure deal with HBO that calls for her to continue as an executive producer on the show and develop new projects for the TV network, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Chupak joined Sex in its second season and has written 11 episodes of the show.
R&B singer Ashanti and rapper Nelly cleaned up at the 2002 Billboard Music Awards Monday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Nickelback, Creed and Puddle of Mudd followed with four honors each, Billboard.com reports. Ashanti took home eight awards, including R&B/hip-hop artist of the year, while Nelly pocketed six, including the coveted artist of the year honor.
HOLLYWOOD, Aug. 23, 2000 - Get ready for a meeting of, er, the Cruz and the Cruise.
The Hollywood Reporter says that Paramount Pictures is looking to cast Penelope Cruz ("All About My Mother") opposite Tom Cruise in the love story "Vanilla Sky."
Neither the studio nor the director of the film, Cameron Crowe, has revealed anything about the film saved for the fact that it will likely go in front of the cameras in the fall.
CAGED IN: Daily Variety says that Nicolas Cage is in "serious discussions" to star in "Adaptation," a flick written and directed by the "Being John Malkovich" writer and director team of Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze. The film follows a screenwriter's struggle to adapt a novel for the big screen.
'SIS' JULIA: Julia Roberts is planning to star and produce the adaptation of "Sis Boom Bah," a novel authored by Jane Heller that has just been bought by Revolution Studios, the Reporter says.
CLOSE CALL: Glenn Close and Patricia Clarkson ("The Green Mile") has signed on to star in the indie flick, "The Safety of Objects." The film is based on series of short stories about four suburban families.
Bugs Bunny WHAT'S UP, DOC: Daily Variety reports that another Looney Tunes project is apparently in the works at Warner Bros. No detail has been disclosed, but the flick is said to combine animated Looney Tunes characters and live-action sequences - just like its 1996 predecessor "Space Jam."
'DUST' OFF THE SCRIPT: Daily Variety says that director Robert Towne, the scribe of "Chinatown," is trying to get his next project, an adaptation of the John Fante novel "As the Dust," off the ground.