Actor William Hurt has moved on from the drama of his stalled Allman Brothers biopic by signing on for new movie about iconic sprinter Jesse Owens. Hurt abandoned Midnight Rider shortly after camera assistant Sarah Jones was killed on the set of the film in February (14), and now he is set to join Stephan James, Jeremy Irons, Jason Sudeikis and Carice van Houten in Race.
He'll portray Jeremiah Mahoney, the president of the Amateur Athletic Union.
The film will be shot in part at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Germany, where Owens picked up four Olympic gold medals in 1936 as a disgusted Adolf Hitler watched.
20th Century Fox via Everett Collection
The Book Thief opens with the voice of Death, providing a casual reminder that everyone will, eventually, die. Provided by Roger Allam, the voice appears several times throughout the film to philosophize and narrate, much like Death does in the novel by Markus Zusak. Fans of the novel will most likely find this a comforting sign of the faithful adaptation about to unfurl before them, but it's hard not to see the voice of Death as a clunky addition to the film. However, this is practically the only part of the film that doesn't make a successful transition from page to screen, as The Book Thief is just as compelling and enchanting a story as it ever was.
That story is about Leisel Meminger, played beautifully by Sophie Nèlisse, a young girl who is taken in by the Hubermanns, a poor foster family, at the start of World War II. Rosa Hubermann (Emily Watson) is a stern, cold woman who supports the family with her laundry business and seems more interested in the allowance they will get for taking care of Liesel than in the girl herself. Liesel warms more quickly to her new foster father Hans (Geoffrey Rush), a friendly, eccentric, and mostly out-of-work house painter who takes an instant liking to his new charge. The makeshift family becomes closer once they agree to shelter Max Vandenburg (Ben Schnetzer), a Jewish man, whose father once saved Hans' life. The film does a great job of showcasing the stakes of such an action, by quietly showing the building presence of the Nazi party, and intercutting scenes of a demonstration with scenes of Kristallnacht and Max escaping towards the Hubermanns and their home on Himmel Street, where they live.
Liesel and Max bond over their new circumstances and their love of books. Leisel has only just learned to read and write, using a book she stole from her younger brother's funeral. However, once the world of literature has been opened to her, she can't get enough, stealing books from the bonfire of a Nazi Party rally and a library belonging to the Burgermeister's wife. This act of rebellion helps Leisel and Max find hope and courage in the face of the growing threat of the war and the Holocaust, leading up to the film's most touching scene, where Liesel tells the other townspeople sheltered underground stories to distract them from the bombs going off above them.
Nèlisse is truly the star of the film, effortlessly bringing Liesel to life with a performance that is charming and compelling. It's no easy task to steal scenes from such respected and talented actors like Rush and Watson, but Nèlisse does so while simultaneously playing off of them wonderfully. She also does a great job of depicting Leisel's slow understanding of the events of the war and the effects of the Nazis' rise to power as it overwhelms her small town. It is through this slow realization that the audience really gets an understanding of the passage of time, rather than through the events of the film itself.
It's clear that Watson is enjoying playing Rosa's harsher side, but it's the moments when her walls crack and the love she has for her family show through that Rosa really becomes a compelling character. Watson's performance in incredibly understated, which means that she tends to be overshadowed by Rush, who, like Liesel, the audience finds it much easier to connect with. Unlike his wife, Hans wears his affection for his family clearly, and Rush's performance gives the film some much needed warmth and light. Schnetzer also gives a touching performance, despite his German accent dropping in and out, and his character’s relationship with Liesel is the heart of the film. It's clear that the two actors had a strong bond, as their friendship radiates through the characters. However, when Schnetzer is on his own, he doesn't manage to capture your attention in the same way that he does when he has another actor to play off of.
The Book Thief's main triumph is its portrayal of how ordinary Germans were affected by the rise of Hitler and the war, which it does primarily through Leisel and her friend Rudy (the very charming Nico Liersch), and their conflicts with the new regime. Leisel doesn't understand why anyone would want to hurt Max, or even take her from her mother, who is a Communist. Rudy is confused by the anger and fear he inspires by covering himself in coal so that he better resembles his hero, Jesse Owens. Through their eyes, the audience sees the influence of the Nazi party, and the way that anyone who defies them — like Hans does by defending a Jewish neighbor — leads to terrible, often tragic consequences.
Audiences should not approach The Book Thief expecting a story about the full-scale horrors of the Holocaust. This is the story of one girl, one family, and one small village. With this grand tragedy as the backdrop, the film focuses on the small actions, the small rebellions and the small changes that affect ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, and highlights how there can always be hope and light found in the darkest of times.
At the turn of the 20th century, the vamp was the height of modernity. Plus ça change. In the 21st century it’s still all Vamp, although this time it has a little more bite.
For several seasons, the catwalks of New York, Paris, London and Milan have featured stark demonesses and dark historical references. Rick Owens strapped his power sex goddesses in fur. Marc Jacobs sent dark flappers down the runway. At Chanel it was shredded Goth Victoriana. And Sarah Burton is carrying the McQueen torch for Elizabethan fetish-wear.
You may not want to be a she-creature — at least not in the light of day — but admit it: the Goth looks that are stalking the runway could "glamour" even the strongest soul.
GALLERY: Vamp Stomp
More: The New York Fashion Week You Didn't See The Vampire Syllabus: You Can't Matriculate Without Seeing 'Near Dark' I See Right Through You: Sheer Madness In Hollywood
From Our Partners:40 Most Revealing See-Through Red Carpet Looks (Vh1)15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)
Chasing Mavericks is one of those hoary "based on a true story" movies that borders on hagiography. It's a fictionalized take on the early life of surfing wunderkind Jay Moriarity (Jonny Weston) and his attempt with the help of his mentor Frosty (Gerard Butler) to conquer the giant waves known as "mavericks." Although the beaches of North California and their crashing waves are gorgeous the story and the acting don't hold water. Chasing Mavericks is more interested in showing Moriarity to be a hero than an actual person and the movie suffers for it in the end.
Weston plays Moriarity as a 15-year-old and although Weston is still in his early twenties he looks disconcertingly older. The tan make-up doesn't help and neither does his hollow performance which is mostly just him looking wide-eyed and earnest. He's not given much to work with the challenges he has to overcome not given much weight at all. Moriarity's dad left when he was a kid and his mom (Elisabeth Shue) is often drunk and can't keep a job. This could have been an interesting development — Jay has to take care of her and loan her money and lives in what looks like a cubbyhole in the living room — but it's given short shrift. The movie Moriarity patiently does her laundry and wakes her up for work instead of what a normal 15-year-old would do which would probably include at the very least some choice four letter words or acting out. Although his mentoring at the hands of Butler's Frosty does explore some of Jay's pain and fears he's not particularly affected by anything. He just shakes it all off like a shaggy dog who's spent a day at the beach.
Other plot developments are equally toothless and without any real consequence. He has a bully who verbally taunts him but eventually respects him. His best friend is either doing or selling drugs given his shady goings-on and wads of dough in his pocket. Moriarity holds a torch for his childhood friend Kim (Leven Rambin) who is apparently embarrassed to be seen with him but even she isn't all that bad. It's like an after-school special that runs for 105 minutes (but feels much longer).
His crusty mentor Frosty is supposed to be a damaged man whose passion for surfing trumps everything even it seems supporting his family. At one point it's clear he's lied to his wife about going to do construction work but she just sort of shrugs it off. Brenda (Abigail Spencer) knows Frosty's love for the ocean and how it heals him from past tragedies so she mostly tolerates his behavior aside from a few sharp remarks. As his voiceover indicates (delivered by Butler with an accent that goes in and out) these "Children of the Tides" are simply drawn to the ocean even if it kills them. The passion trumps all as it surely did in the life of the real Jay Moriarity.
The footage of the men surfing is the centerpiece of the story which is probably why everything else feels like an afterthought. Even this is uneven though. Some of it is obviously Butler and Weston — Butler was injured on the set while filming a surfing scene — but the faraway shots don't really match up. It's not clear if this is archival footage or if it's just poorly edited and filmed. A few scenes in the movie look startlingly different all cloudy grays with Butler haggard and thinner and although it could be just a really ham-handed way to visually indicate grief this interlude looks like it's from an entirely different movie. A perk of Chasing Mavericks is its "alternative" music soundtrack that is immediately recognizable and surprisingly on point with songs from Mazzy Star Matthew Sweet and the Butthole Surfers popping up at appropriate times.
While surely the people involved in making the film are dedicated to preserving Jay's memory and inspiring others it's hard to take it seriously or be emotionally moved by such a blatantly unblemished portrayal. Real tributes show that grit and shortcomings of their subjects as much as why they're heroes.
Saturday was a big day for the TV world as the 2012 Creative Emmys took place. Hollywood.com was both backstage and on the carpet, bringing you the scoop direct from the source. HBO and its epic hit Game of Thrones were the night's biggest winners, with the network taking home 17 statues — six of them for GoT. CBS wasn't far behind with 13 wins, followed by PBS with 11. Frozen Planet, Great Expectations, and Saturday Night Live each took home four awards, resulting in a three-way-tie for second place after Game of Thrones. See below for the list of winners:
Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series: Junie Lowry Johnson, Libby Goldstein, Judy Henderson, Craig Fincannon, Lisa Mae Fincannon for Homeland
Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Special: David Rubin, Richard Hicks, Pat Moran, Kathleen Chopin for Game Change
Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series: Jennifer Euston for Girls
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series: Kathy Bates for Two and A Half Men
Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Miniseries, Movie, or a Special: Greg Nicotero, Jake Garber, Andy Schoneberg, Kevin Wasner, Gino Crognale, Carey Jonse, Garrett Immel for The Walking Dead
Outstanding Makeup for a Miniseries or a Movie (Non-Prosthetic): Mario Michisanti, Francesca Tampieri for Hatfields & McCoys
Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic): Paul Engelen, Melissa Lackersteen for Game of Thrones
Outstanding Makeup for a Multi-Camera Series or Special (Non-Prosthetic): Zena Shteysel, Angela Moos, Patti Ramsey Bortoli, Barbara Fonte, Sarah Woolf, Nadege Schoenfeld for Dancing With the Stars
Outstanding Costumes for a Series: Michele Clapton, Alexander Fordham, Chloe Aubry for Game of Thrones
Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special: Annie Symons, Yvonne Duckett for Great Expectations
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries or a Movie: Monte C. Haught, Samantha Wade, Melanie Verkins, Natalie Driscoll, Michelle Ceglia for American Horror Story
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Multi-Camera Series or Special: Bettie O. Rogers, Jodi Mancuso, Inga Thrasher, Jennifer Stauffer, Cara Hannah Sullivan, Christal Schanes for Saturday Night Live
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Single-Camera Series: Anne "Nosh" Oldham, Christine Greenwood for Downton Abbey
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series: Jeremy Davies for Justified
Outstanding Choreography: Joshua Bergasse for Smash ("National Pastime", "Let's Be Bad", "Never Met A Wolf")
Outstanding Music Direction: Rob Berman, Rob Mathes for The Kennedy Center Honors
Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score): John Lunn for Downton Abbey
Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Special (Original Dramatic Score): Javier Navarrete for Hemingway & Gellhorn
Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics: Adam Schlesinger, David Javerbaum for the 65th Annual Tony Awards ("It's Not Just for Gays Anymore")
Outstanding Art Direction for a Multi-Camera Series: Glenda Rovello, Amy Feldman for 2 Broke Girls ("And The Rich People Problems", "And The Reality Check", And The Pop Up Sale")
Outstanding Art Direction for Variety or Nonfiction Programming: Brian Stonestreet, Alana Billingsley, Matt Steinbrenner for The 54th Annual Grammy Awards, and Steve Bass, Seth Easter for The 65th Annual Tony Awards
Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries or Movie: David Roger, Paul Ghirardani, Jo Kornstein for Great Expectations
Outstanding Art Direction for a Single-Camera Series: Bill Groom, Adam Scher, Carol Silverman for Boardwalk Empire, and Gemma Jackson, Frank Walsh, Tina Jones for Game of Thrones
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series: Jordan Goldman, David Latham for Homeland
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series: Steven A. Rasch for Curb Your Enthusiasm ("Palestinian Chicken")
Outstanding Multi-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series: Sue Federman for How I Met Your Mother ("Trilogy Time")
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries or a Movie: Don Cassidy for Hatfields & McCoys - Part 2
Outstanding Picture Editing for Short-Form Segments and Variety Specials: Bill DeRonde, Chris Lovett, Mark Stepp, Pi Ware, John Zimmer, Ben Folts for 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming: Andy Netley, Sharon Gillooly for Frozen Planet ("Ends of the Earth")
Outstanding Picture Editing for Reality Programming: Josh Earl, Alex Durham for Deadliest Catch ("I Don't Wanna Die")
Outstanding Animated Program: Bob Schooley, Mark McCorkle, Bret Haaland, Nick Filippi, Chris Neuhahn, Ant Ward, Andrew Heubner, David Knott, Shaun Cashman, Steve Loter, Christo Stamboliev for The Penguins of Madagascar: The Return of the Revenge of Dr. Blowhole
Outstanding Short-Format Animated Program: Brian A. Miller, Jennifer Pelphrey, Curtis Lelash, Rob Sorcher, JG Quintel, Mike Roth, Janet Dimon, Matt Price, Jack Thomas, John Infantino, Robert Alvarez for Regular Show ("Eggscellent")
Outstanding Voice-Over Performance: Maurice LaMarche for Futurama
Syd Cassyd Founders Award: Dick Askin
Governors Award: Dan Savage, Terry Miller for "It Gets Better"
Outstanding Special Visual Effects: Rainer Gombos, Juri Stanossek, Sven Martin, Steve Kullback, Jan Fielder, Chris Stenner, Tobias Mannewitz, Thilo Ewers, Adam Chazen for Game of Thrones ("Valar Morghulis")
Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role: Dave Taritero, Robert Stromberg, Richard Friedlander, Eran Dinur, David W. Reynolds, Matthew Conner, Austin Meyers, Jonathan Dorfman, Steve Kirshoff for Boardwalk Empire ("Georgia Peaches")
Outstanding Stunt Coordination: Peewee Piemonte for Southland
Outstanding Main Title Design: Nic Benns, Rodi Kaya, Tom Bromwich for Great Expectations
Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music: Paul Englishby for Page Eight
Outstanding Commercial: "Best Job" (Procter & Gamble Corporate Brand) – Wieden + Kennedy, Ad Agency; Anonymous Content, Production Company
Outstanding Sound Mixing For Nonfiction Programming: Tom Paul for Paul Simon’s Graceland Journey: Under African Skies
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour): Matthew Waters, Onnalee Blank, Ronan Hill, Mervyn Moore for Game Of Thrones ("Blackwater")
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or a Movie: Stanomir Dragos, Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern for Hatfields & McCoys — Part 1
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (Half-Hour) and Animation: Stephen A. Tibbo, Dean Okrand, Brian R. Harman for Modern Family ("Dude Ranch")
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Variety Series or Special: Paul Sandweiss, Tommy Vicari, Pablo Munguia, Kristian Pedregon for 84th Annual Academy Awards
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Special: Douglas Murray, Peter Horner, Kim Foscato, Steve Boeddeker, Casey Langfelder, Andrea Gard, Pat Jackson, Daniel Laurie, Goro Koyama, Andy Malcolm, Joanie Diener for Hemingway & Gellhorn
Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single or Multi-Camera): Kate Hopkins, Tim Owens, Paul Fisher for Frozen Planet — Ends of the Earth
Outstanding Sound Editing For a Series: Peter Brown, Kira Roessler, Tim Hands, Paul Aulicino, Stephen P. Robinson, Vanessa Lapato, Brett Voss, James Moriana, Jeffrey Wilhoit, David Klotz for Game of Thrones ("Blackwater")
Outstanding Cinematography for a Multi-Camera Series: Steven V. Silver for Two and a Half Men ("Sips, Sonnets, and Sodomy")
Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series: Jonathan Freeman for Boardwalk Empire ("21")
Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie: Florian Hoffmeister for Great Expectations
Outstanding Cinematography for Reality Programming: The Deadliest Catch team ("I Don't Want To Die")
Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming: The Frozen Planet team ("Ends of the Earth")
Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control for a Series: Steven Cimino, John Pinto, Paul J. Cangialosi, Len Weschler, Barry Frischer, Eric A. Einstein, Susan Noll, Frank Grisanti for Saturday Night Live (Host Mick Jagger)
Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control for a Miniseries, Movie or Special: Steven Cimino, Paul J. Cangialosi, John Pinto, Chuck Goslin, Barry Frischer, Jeff Latonero, Len Weschler, Susan Noll, J.M. Hurley for Memphis (Great Performances)
Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction for a Variety Series: Robert Barnhart, Matt Firestone, Pete Radice, Patrick Boozer for So You Think You Can Dance (Season Eight Finale)
Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction for a Variety Special: Robert A. Dickinson, Jon Kusner, Travis Hagenbuch, Andy O'Reilly for The 54th Annual Grammy Awards
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series: Jimmy Fallon for Saturday Night Live
Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming: Martin Scorsese for George Harrison: Living in the Material World
Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming: Geoffrey C. Ward for Prohibition — A Nation of Hypocrites
Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking: Connie Field, Lois Vossen, Sally Jo Fifer for Have You Heard From Johannesburg (Independent Lens)
Outstanding Nonfiction Special: Margaret Bodde, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Blair Foster, Olivia Harrison, Nigel Sinclair, Martin Scorsese for George Harrison: Living in the Material World
Outstanding Nonfiction Series: Alastair Fothergill, Susan Winslow, Vanessa Berlowitz for Frozen Planet
Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series: Don Roy King for Saturday Night Live (Host Mick Jagger)
Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series: Tim Carvell, Rory Albanese, Kevin Bleyer, Rich Blomquist, Steve Bodow, Wyatt Cenac, Hallie Haglund, JR Havlan, Elliott Kalan, Dan McCoy, Jo Miller, John Oliver, Zhubin Parang, Daniel Radosh, Jason Ross, Jon Stewart for The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Outstanding Variety Special: George Stevens, Jr., Michael M. Stevens for The Kennedy Center Honors
Outstanding Special Class Programs: Ricky Kirshner, Glenn Weiss, Neil Patrick Harris for 65th Annual Tony Awards
Outstanding Special Class: Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Programs: Rob Corddry, Jonathan Stern, David Wain, Keith Crofford, Nick Weidenfeld, Rich Rosenthal for Children's Hospital
Outstanding Special-Class: Short-Format Nonfiction Programs: Michael M. Stevens for DGA Moments In Time
Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media — Enhancement to a Television Program or Series: John Wooden, Aaron Bleyaert, Conan O'Brien, Timothy Campbell for The Team Coco Sync App
Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media — Original Interactive Television Programming: Fourth Wall Studios for Dirty Work
Outstanding Children's Program: Ben Montanio, Vince Cheung, Todd J. Greenwald, Gigi McCreery, Perry Rein, Richard Goodman, Greg A. Hampson for Wizards of Waverly Place
Outstanding Children's Nonfiction, Reality or Reality-Competition Program: Carol-lynn Parente, Melissa Dino, Mason Rather, Kevin Clash for Sesame Street: Growing Hope Against Hunger
Outstanding Reality Program: Eli Holzman, Stephen Lambert, Chris Carlson, Scott Cooper, Sandi Johnson, Rachelle Mendez, Lety Quintanar, Rebekah Fry for Undercover Boss
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series: Martha Plimpton for The Good Wife
Emmys Idle Threats: Give Bill Hader an Emmy or I'll Sic DJ Baby Bok Choy On You
The First-Ever (Fake) Annual Reality TV Emmy Awards
What Jimmy Kimmel Can Learn From Past Emmy Hosts
There's an allure to imperfection. With his latest drama Lawless director John Hillcoat taps directly into the side of human nature that draws us to it. Hillcoat finds it in Prohibition history a time when the regulations of alcohol consumption were subverted by most of the population; He finds it in the rural landscapes of Virginia: dingy raw and mesmerizing. And most importantly he finds it in his main character Jack Bondurant (Shia LaBeouf) the scrappy third brother of a moonshining family who is desperate to prove his worth. Jack forcefully injects himself into the family business only to discover there's an underbelly to the underbelly. Lawless is a beautiful film that's violent as hell striking in a way only unfiltered Americana could be.
Acting as the driver for his two outlaw brothers Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke) isn't enough for Jack. He's enticed by the power of the gangster figure and entranced by what moonshine money can buy. So like any fledgling entrepreneur Jack takes matters into his own hands. Recruiting crippled family friend/distillery mastermind Cricket (Dane DeHaan) the young whippersnapper sets out to brew his own batch sell it to top dog Floyd Banner and make the family rich. The plan works — but it puts the Bondurant boys in over their heads with a new threat: the corrupt law enforcers of Chicago.
Unlike many stories of crime life Lawless isn't about escalation. The movie drifts back and forth leisurely popping in moments like the beats of a great TV episode. One second the Bondurants could be talking shop with their female shopkeep Maggie Beauford (Jessica Chastain). The next Forrest is beating the bloody pulp out of a cop blackmailing their operation. The plot isn't thick; Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave preferring to bask in the landscapes the quiet moments the haunting terror that comes with a life on the other side of the tracks. A feature film doesn't offer enough time for Lawless to build — it recalls cinema-level TV currently playing on outlets like HBO and AMC that have truly spoiled us — but what the duo accomplish is engrossing.
Accompanying the glowing visuals and Cave's knockout workout on the music side (a toe-tapping mix of spirituals bluegrass and the writer/musician's spine-tingling violin) are muted performances from some of Hollywood's rising stars. Despite LaBeouf's off-screen antics he lights up Lawless and nails the in-deep whippersnapper. His playful relationship with a local religious girl (Mia Wasikowska) solidifies him as a leading man but like everything in the movie you want more. Tom Hardy is one of the few performers who can "uurrr" and "mmmnerm" his way through a scene and come out on top. His greatest sparring partner isn't a hulking thug but Chastain who brings out the heart of the impenetrable beast. The real gem of Lawless is Guy Pearce as the Bondurant trio's biggest threat. Shaved eyebrows pristine city clothes and a temper like a rabid wolverine Pearce's Charlie Rakes is the most frightening villain of 2012. He viciously chews up every moment he's on screen. That's even before he starts drawing blood.
Lawless is the perfect movie for the late August haze — not quite the Oscary prestige picture or the summertime shoot-'em-up. It's drama that has its moonshine and swigs it too. Just don't drink too much.
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.
Oscar producer Gil Cates said U2 and Paul Simon, both of whom were nominated for best original song, will likely perform at the March 23 ceremony. Cates added he is uncertain if Eminem, whose song "Lose Yourself" from 8 Mile also received a nom, will perform. "Eminem we're not sure about in terms of the schedule. We haven't heard," Cates told The Associated Press. Other songs nominated in the category are "Burn It Blue" from Frida and "I Move On" from Chicago. Cates could not say if Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones would perform "I Move On" at the Oscars. "The reason we really can't say is, if I say that we're going to ask someone and then they don't appear, a lot of things happen. Firstly, you know that we were turned down. Secondly, the next person that we ask knows that they're a second choice. So the only intelligent answer to that question is, 'What a good idea that is,'" Cates said.
After 2001's banner year for African Americans at the Oscars, including wins by Halle Berry and Denzel Washington, 2002 is looking a lot less diverse. This year's Oscar race produced only one black nominee, Queen Latifah, who received a nod for her supporting role in Chicago. Latifah, whose real name is Dana Owens, told the AP she hopes Hollywood becomes more accessible to people of color. "The more diversity in the body who does the voting, the more you'll see other--not just African-Americans--but Asians and American Indians and Hispanic people, Middle Eastern or whatever it may be," she said.
Charlie Sheen will star in the third installment of the Scary Movie franchise, which is set for a fourth-quarter release, Reuters reports. This latest development is part of a two-picture deal with the movie's distributor, Dimension Films, and its Miramax parent. Sheen is no stranger to slapstick comedy: He played Topper Harley in the lowbrow Hot Shots! and Hot Shots!: Part Deux, and appeared in the 1993 parody National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon I. Scary Movie 3 will be directed by Airplane! and Naked Gun helmer David Zucker.
Rapper DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, will produce and star in the thriller Never Die Alone under his apprentice Bloodline Films banner. According to Variety, DMX will play a gangster whose life unfolds in flashback as a reporter probes events that led to his killing. The film is based on the 1974 book by cult writer Donald Goines, who penned 16 pulp novels between his release from prison in 1970 and his fatal shooting four years later. David Arquette and Michael Ealy will co-star on the project, which starts shooting Thursday in Los Angeles.
Tenacious D, the self-proclaimed "greatest band on Earth," is headed to the big screen. According to The Hollywood Reporter, actor-comedian-rockers Jack Black and Kyle Gass--the duo that make up "the D"--will star in the film for New Line Cinema. The film's story line is being kept under wraps, but is said to be a "creation" story revolving around how the duo became the greatest band on Earth. Music video director Liam Lynch will helm the project, penned by Black, Gass and Lynch.
Fans of Fox's hit reality show Joe Millionaire are upset over last Monday's overhyped, episode, which promised much more than it delivered, People.com reports. Viewers were led to believe that Evan Marriott would make his choice between Zora and Sarah, and producers teased the final decision throughout the two-hour program. Instead, audiences were presented with a recap of the season. Scott Grogin, a spokesman for Fox, told the AP that viewers should have known better. "The payoff was always going to be on Feb. 17," Grogin said. "It's possible we were a little over the top with our promos, and we're sorry if people felt misled."
Kelly Osbourne has pulled out of performing at one of Britain's NME Awards, where she was due to sing her latest hit "Shut Up." A spokeswoman told Reuters Thursday the singer's showbiz parents, Sharon and Ozzy, were concerned about a possible terror attack on London while she is there. "Sharon and Ozzy are concerned about their children's safety and they don't want them flying about while the world is on high alert," she said. NME.com added that British promoters were expecting cancellations from other U.S.-based stars, including Pink, Avril Lavigne and Justin Timberlake.
Russell Crowe's band, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, has a new album coming out in April, and one of the tracks features a duet with Chrissie Hynde. According to People.com, Crowe and Hynde met in London last year and she has invited his band to tour the U.S. with her band, the Pretenders, later this month. Their single, "Never Be Alone Again," will be featured on the Grunts' CD Other Ways of Speaking, the band's follow-up album to their less-than-successful Bastard Life of Clarity, which reportedly only sold 156 copies in its first week of release in England.