Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.
She may be best known for her skimpy outfits on FOX's Married...With Children, but last weekend, actress Christina Applegate was decked out in a white, Jessica Paster-designed wedding gown as she wed actor Johnathon Schaech in Palm Springs on Saturday.
Not to be outdone by his glowing bride, Schaech (best known for roles in That Thing You Do! and Hush) wore a black suit designed by Hugo Boss, according to Entertainment Tonight reports.
Applegate, 30, and Schaech, 32, had been dating since early 1998.
Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker, to Entertainment Tonight, on her childhood in a welfare-dependant family:
There are many faces. Some people have assumptions about who is dependent upon our state and federal governments for need. I think sometimes people think it's a lot of people of color but this is what welfare looks like [pointing to herself].
Welfare is for all varieties of people. It can be people that are cultured and educated, who just find themselves in need of help. That doesn't mean they're lazy, or uneducated, or have low standards. It's just that they can't manage at the moment, and my family is a good example of that.
We all had a good work ethic, and I have a work ethic that I am proud of, but that's where I came from. I feel that my parents always did the best that they could do, and that is what the situation called for.
Rogan of "Fear Factor"
Many of the networks' new
summer series have already debuted--but are people watching? Some critics
certainly are, and the consensus is: wait until fall.
To date, NBC's reality show Fear Factor has scored the highest ratings among new series, according to Nielsen Media Research. The week of its premiere--June 11 through June 17--the show scored an admirable 13 share on June 11, achieving the No. 12 ranking in the Nielsen top 25.
Where is NBC's Kristin in the top 25 throughout June? Nowhere to be found. How about Fox's resurrected Freakylinks? Or ABC's drama The Beast? Ditto.
Hal Boedeker, television writer for the Orlando Sentinel in Florida,
says that it all boils down to quality.
"It has been a boring summer so far, with the networks burning off the series
they realized were duds," he said. "If this is the way programmers think they're
going to keep viewers tuning in, they should snap out of it. Kristin and
The Beast are disasters of unusual ineptitude.
"I guess Fear Factor is a success in the ratings, but it's
not a success anyone should be happy about. The program shouts, 'We're creatively
bankrupt.' The same thing goes for the horrible Spy TV. You're watching
the end of Must-See TV on NBC."
Elsewhere, on the pay-cable networks, series both new and old have been making
their mark, most notably HBO's Sex and the City, which claimed the top
spot in the cable ratings last week. Sex... outperformed HBO's premiere
of Chicken Run
and The Replacements,
which finished at No. 3 and No. 4 for the week, respectively.
The Sarah Jessica Parker
series scored a 3.4 rating, with the new HBO series Six Feet Under in tow
in the No. 2 spot for the week with a 2.8 rating. In an effort to boost Six
Feet Under's future Nielsen showings, HBO recently decided to move the series
from 10 p.m. EST Sundays to 9:30 p.m. EST on the same night, riding on Sex...'s
As for the Nielsen ratings for basic-cable networks, TNT's new series Witchblade--airing Tuesday at 9 p.m. EST--made an impressive showing last week, grabbing the No. 7 spot. TNT executives expect its fan base to quickly broaden.
"It would be early to judge [Witchblade], but the returns thus far are very favorable," TNT Publicity spokesman Walter Ward said. "It is averaging a 2.4 rating for its time slot.
"Most important, Witchblade ratings and delivery increase each quarter hour for both weeks. In key demos--viewers 18-49 and 25-54--the series is pacing well ahead of TNT year to date in prime time."
New summer series, of course, are still on the way. They include CBS' Big Brother 2, NBC's other reality program, Spy TV, and Showtime's quirky time-twisting drama Leap Years.