Woody Allen’s neurotic-speak works wonders coming from a New Yorker but coming from a Brit? Not so much. The British could very well be just as phobic as anyone else but they are also repressed and trying to force the neurosis out just doesn’t ring as true. Nevertheless Allen is bound and determined to film abroad these days and thus once again sets Cassandra's Dream in contemporary London where we meet two brothers struggling to better their lives financially. The more blue-collar Terry (Colin Farrell) has a gambling problem and is in debt up to his eyeballs while enterprising Ian (Ewan McGregor) dreams of leaving his family’s restaurant and moving to California with his newfound love Angela (Hayley Atwell) an ambitious actress. Their only hope is their wealthy uncle Howard (Tom Wilkinson) but the boys quickly find out you can’t get something for nothing. You see Uncle Howard is also in a bit of trouble and he asks his nephews to help him out of his jam--with sinister consequences. First of all Farrell and McGregor look about as related as a dog and cat. Secondly they don't seem at ease in the film partly because their characters are anxious but also partly because they don’t mesh as well with Woody Allen’s sensibilities. Farrell fares a bit better since his natural Irish tendencies towards emotional outbursts fit the character well. His Terry is the one with the conscience and murdering someone just doesn’t sit well with him. McGregor on the other hand plays Ian almost robotically saying the words with as little emotion as possible which doesn’t do Allen’s dialogue any justice. Wilkinson falls under the same category as McGregor but his character is the one most morally challenged so playing it cold sort of works. The women in Cassandra's Dream are fairly wasted including newcomer Atwell as the manipulative actress and Sally Hawkins as Terry’s sweet and concerned girlfriend. Even the boys’ mother played by veteran stage actress Clare Higgins (The Golden Compass) comes off screechy. The cast must have all been thrilled to be in a Woody Allen movie to be sure but it just seems like Allen didn’t get them. Cassandra's Dream suffers from some of the same hang-ups as Match Point. Even though many heralded that 2005 movie as Woody Allen’s return the film had the same problems namely the ill-fitting British cast. At least Match Point had an American Scarlett Johansson whom Allen could pour all his tried-and-true fixations into--the paranoia the obsessiveness and the ultimatums. But Cassandra's Dream really proves that as a filmmaker Allen has become a stick-in-the-mud. He really hasn’t changed his tune in 25 years exploring the same themes over and over again and it’s finally getting old. When his films turn dark it’s usually about how murder can corrupt the soul. Natch. Sometimes the murderers however bothered they are by their deeds get away with it; sometimes they don’t. But rarely does Allen veer from this path making Cassandra's Dream a now very stale rehash of Crimes and Misdemeanors without the benefit of having at the very least some good old-fashioned Allen-styled American-acted neurosis to back it up.
September 26, 2003 11:47am EST
Top Story: Queer Quintet To Get Raises
NBC-owned Bravo is close to signing a fabulous renewal deal for a second season of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. A source told The Hollywood Reporter the show's creators are negotiating with the network for an order of about 40 episodes. The show's "Fab Five"-- Carson Kressley, Thom Filicia, Jai Rodriguez, Ted Allen and Kyan Douglas--are also close to completing a deal that calls for six consecutive one-year contracts with 5 percent annual raises. According to contracts made available on the Smoking Gun Web site, the five signed on to the Queer Eye for the measly sum of $3,000 each per episode. Bravo had already ordered as many as seven additional episodes that are expected to go into production next week, according to the Reporter.
Fox Sued Over Gentlemen
Producer Martin Poll and screenwriter Larry Cohen filed a lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court accusing 20th Century Fox of stealing their ideas for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen starring Sean Connery. The movie is based on a comic book in which the main characters, including Allan Quatermain, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Capt. Nemo and Dracula vampiress Mina Harker, were lifted from the pages of Robert Louis Stevenson, H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Bram Stoker and other writers whose copyrights have entered the public domain. According to The Associated Press, Cohen and Poll say they discussed a similar idea with Fox executives in 1993, only then the movie was called Cast of Characters. The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $100 million.
Zeta-Jones Sues Cosmetic Company
Catherine Zeta-Jones filed a lawsuit Thursday in federal court seeking $15 million from the cosmetics firm Caudalie for running an ad campaign claiming the actress "was spotted buying the complete Caudalie range of skincare" and had used the company's anti-aging spa in Las Vegas, the AP reports. The Chicago Oscar winner says in her lawsuit that she has never purchased such products, nor did she receive services from the spa. Zeta-Jones, who has an exclusive deal to promote Elizabeth Arden cosmetics, claims the company had no right to use her name in promotions.
Bruce Willis Entertains Troops in Iraq
Bruce Willis and band the Accelerators entertained hundreds of soldiers Thursday night in Telafar, Iraq, about 35 miles from the Syrian border. Willis, sometimes sporting a military hat or a military jacket over his sweat pants, sang mostly oldies as he and his band stood atop two flatbed trailer trucks, the AP reports. Most soldiers said they didn't know Willis was a singer and had a band, but they reportedly liked what they heard. "He's my favorite actor and my age," Col. Michael Linnington, commander of the brigade's "Iron Rakkasans"--the 187th Infantry Regiment. "He's a macho actor. Soldiers identify with action movies and action actors. He's a guy's guy."
Sky TV Gets Bill From London Police
Magician David Blaine, who has suspended in a box from a crane above the River Thames in London in his quest to go 44 days without food, is proving to be a costly affair for his sponsor. Sky television, the network filming him, has been hit with a bill from the capital's police force. According to Reuters, London's police chief Sir John Stevens said Thursday the circus surrounding the stunt had become so expensive to police he would now make the stuntman's sponsors foot the bill. Blaine's scheduled to climb down from the box October 19.
Madonna's English Roses Tops Best-Seller List
Madonna's children's book The English Roses, which was published simultaneously around the world Sept. 15, will top The New York Times' children's list for the Oct. 5 edition, the AP reports. According to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks sales in the United States, Madonna's book sold 57,369 copies in its first full week, ranking No. 5 overall. The top seller was Dr. Phil McGraw's The Ultimate Weight Solution, which sold 215,536 copies.
Role Call: Will Farrell To Voice Man in Yellow
Saturday Night Live alum Will Ferrell has signed on to provide the voice of the Man in the Yellow Hat for the animated big screen version of the children's classic Curious George. According to Variety, the Universal Pictures project will be an all-new adventure based upon the title character, an inquisitive monkey transplanted from the jungle to the big city by the Man in the Yellow Hat. The movie is slated for release Nov. 4, 2005.