Alfred Hitchcock is noted as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time and rightfully so — his body of work comprised of over 60 films is skillfully composed highly dramatic and eclectic from beginning to end. So pulling back the curtain on the legend in his own medium was only a matter of time a how'd-he-do-it biopic that could pay respects to the collected works while revealing the master's process. Hitchcock directed by Sacha Gervasi (Anvil: The Story of Anvil) pays its respects but also reveals another unexpected quality of the auteur's behind-the-scenes life: it wasn't all that dramatic.
Anthony Hopkins slides into the silhouette of the recognizable director and does a reasonable job nailing his cadence and posture. Side by side with his wife Alma (Helen Mirren) who as the movie reveals was the director's close collaborator Hitchcock strides confidently into the world of independent cinema for the first time balking at studio heads who demand something more audience-friendly than the gruesome Psycho. Investing his own money into the film Hitchcock risks everything to turn the story of murderer Ed Gein into a high art horror picture. He finds a leading lady in Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson) a script in a screenwriter with mommy problems and a closeted actor to portray the sexually exploratory Gein.
And that's about it. Hitchcock disguises the usual stresses of moviemaking as major hurdles even representing Gein as a specter who haunts Hitchcock's every decision. Aside from the brief suspicion that Alma abandons him mid-production for charming writer Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston) which feels stuffed in and meandering rather than intrinsic to the making of Psycho there's little explanation for Hitchcock's anxiety and downward spiral. The film even dabbles in Hitch's well-known infatuation with his leading ladies — explored to a terrifying degree in last month's The Girl — but places the director on too high a pedestal to ever dig deep.
The real star of the show — and perhaps one who would have made a better subject for feature film — is Alma a complex second fiddle overshadowed by the greatness of Hitchcock. Mirren once again delivers a lively performance as a woman desperate to live her own life; the scene when she lets loose on Hitchcock is easily the high point of the movie. But like the audience who unknowingly appreciated her work behind-the-camera Hitchcock is too obsessed with the man at the center of it all to open up and give the character or Mirren the spotlight.
Hitchcock's time period flourishes and camera work are presented simply (Gervasi keeps hat tipping to the auteur's oeuvre to a minimum) while Danny Elfman whips up a score that riffs appropriately on longtime Hitchcock collaborator Bernhard Hermann's works. But there's no hook to elevate the film from a puff piece and even the biggest Alfred Hitchcock fan will be grasping for something more.
Kelly Clarkson is back on top. The original Idol has just surpassed fellow American Idol winner Carrie Underwood for the spot as the top-selling winner of the Fox talent series. Her single, “Stronger” has officially sold 1,000 more copies than Underwood’s previous title holder “Before He Cheats,” according to Nielsen SoundScan, via The Hollywood Reporter. Clarkson’s single sold 3,510,000 while Underwood’s hit reached 3,509,000. (It’s okay Carrie, those sales will still make that cheatin’ ex of yours green with envy.)
But now that Clarkson is once again Queen of the Idol alums on the charts, we couldn’t help but wonder, is she the Idol Queen in the eyes of the media (and in our hearts)? We pitted the two peppy singers against each other in a battle of pop culture clout. And as Ryan Seacrest would say: Dim the lights, here we go!
Kelly: “Stronger,” 3,510,000 copies sold
Carrie: “Before He Cheats,” 3,509,000 copies sold
As we said, Clarkson is clearly the winner here. Numbers don’t lie, but they are ridiculously close. If Clarkson doesn’t keep it up, an upset could be in her future. Get to work, ladies!
Clarkson may rule the singles charts, but when it comes to making the long term commitment of buying an artist’s entire album, Underwood’s got her fans on the hook. Perhaps after making an impact with “Stronger” Clarkson can pull ahead, but for now she’s playing second fiddle to Miss Underwood.
Kelly: David Hodges (of Evanescence), Graham Colton (The Graham Colton Band), Brandon Blackstock (Reba McEntire’s Stepson)
Carrie: Tony Romo (Dallas Cowboys Quarterback), Chase Crawford (Gossip Girl Star), Mike Fisher (the NHL hockey player is now her husband)
Nice effort, Clarkson, but Underwood played the field a little better. She’s got two big name pro athletes in her little black book (one of whom finally put a ring on it - bonus points!) and she’s got TV star and part-time elf, Crawford. Clarkson definitely showed up, but Underwood’s batting 1000.
Kelly: She’s rocked the same set of hairdos since she wisely retired her Idol-era koolaid streaks; she often opts for figure-obscuring short dresses on the red carpet and flowy tanks and blouses in her casual wear; when she gets glam right, she usually does so with safe choices and flattering colors. Translation: She wears a lot of black.
Carrie: Sparkles. So many sparkles. She too has had the same do for years, but her effortless blonde waves are country music gold. Literally.
Underwood has not been plagued with the same weight struggles as Clarkson has dealt with, but body image aside, Underwood simply finds clothes that fit her shape better than Clarkson does (with a few sophomore-cheerleader-at-a-Texas-prom dress faux pas aside.) While Underwood may want to ask her stylist to cool it on the sparkly dresses here and there, Clarkson needs to find herself a stylist who dresses her shape to highlight her best features instead of trying to mask her body. Every shape is beautiful, it’s all about finding the right fit, and Clarkson simply hasn’t found it yet.
Winner: Carrie Side Projects Kelly: Celeb judge/contestant on Duets on ABC; Owns a ranch in Texas for Unwanted Animals; March of Dimes Ambassador; Supports various charities such as Save The Music, STOMP Out Bullying, and UNICEF. Carrie: Various guest-starring roles on TV; Voted “World’s Sexiest Vegetarian” by PETA; Once saved an injured dog on the side of the road and found it a home; supports various charities including the Human Society of the United States and Stand Up 2 Cancer. We’re not about to compare Underwood’s various charities to Clarkson’s various charities. Who are we to say music in schools is more important than saving adorable little puppies and kitties? It’s all wonderful as far as we’re concerned. Underwood took the time to save a destitute puppy on the side of the road, Clarkson gives destitute animals a home. Even. Clarkson serves as an ambassador for March of Dimes, Underwood records singles and makes appearances for her various charities. Even. Both singers have made incredibly average appearances on television. Even. Damn, that was the only real comparison we had going for us. How does anyone “win” charity, anyway? Winner: Tie Celeb News Scandals Kelly: Supported Ron Paul, was accused of being anti-gay; Rumored to be a lesbian; Accused of losing weight for her boyfriend; Indonesian billboard used her image to sell cigarettes. Carrie: Unfounded claims of nude photos (just like every hot celeb out there); Various relationship rumors. Underwood is basically scandal-free. She keeps to herself, tries to stay out of tabloids unless she’s got herself a new beau, but now that she’s married, that’s no longer an issue. Clarkson, however, is a passive recipient of scandal with the exception of the Ron Paul debacle. Clarkson tweeted her support of the candidate, therefore opening herself up to questions about her political beliefs. All other scandals, however, are issues pressed upon her by outside parties. She just barely squeaks ahead of Underwood this time. Winner: Kelly Awards Kelly: 2 Grammys, 6 Grammy Nominations, 70 total awards, 98 nominations Carrie: 5 Grammys, 9 Grammy Nominations, 116 total awards, 173 nominations Math doesn’t lie, folks. And neither do Grammys. Underwood is a clear winner on this one. Winner: Carrie So who’s the better celebrity? With a score of 5.5 to Clarkson’s 2.5, Underwood is the better celeb, but don't worry Kelly, you will still be our go-to girl for breakup anthems! Ding, ding, ding: Carrie for the win! Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler.
[Image: Wenn.com] More: Kelly Clarkson Is Dating Reba McEntire's Stepson Kelly Clarkson Sings Britney Spears: The Best Celebrity Cover Videos Idol Stars Carrie Underwood and Chris Daughtry are Triple Winners at The AMAs Carrie vs. Kelly
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
When all-American girl Susan Murphy is inadvertently hit by a falling meteor on her wedding day she grows to be nearly 50 feet tall. The U.S. military gets wind of this renames her Ginormica and locks her away with a slacker group of other “monsters” in a top-secret compound. But when a mysterious alien robot lands on Earth and begins wreaking havoc these good-hearted but inept creatures are called into action by the President and must band together as a team to save the world from certain catastrophe.
WHO’S IN IT?
As usual Dreamworks has assembled a stellar A-list voice cast led by Reese Witherspoon as Susan/Ginormica. Playing one of the rare female animated heroes Witherspoon’s sweet/confused demeanor — in light of her highly unusual status as a fearsome freakazoid — hits just the right tone generously letting her zanier colleagues steal scenes from right under her (a long way down by the way). Chief among these are a not-so-bright gelatinous blue mass named B.O.B. hilariously voiced by Seth Rogen; the genius Dr. Cockroach Ph.D in the capable hands of House doc Hugh Laurie; and Will Arnett’s half-ape half-fish The Missing Link. In the human roles there’s Stephen Colbert as the idiotic U.S. President Kiefer Sutherland as the monster’s prison guardian Paul Rudd as the ego-driven weatherman fiancé of Susan; and a deliciously villainous Rainn Wilson as Galaxhar the alien determined to take over Earth.
Superb 3-D effects aren’t overdone and add immeasurably to the ginormous fun of the film but even seeing it in theaters that only show it in regular 2-D doesn’t spoil the pure joy of this cartoonish War of the Worlds. Throw in parodies of every cheap '50s sci-fi movie you can think of and you have the ingredients for a silly monster mash sure to appeal to just about anyone who wants to laugh. Despite the impressive production elements it’s the smart and clever script that really sets it apart from its competitors — and that even includes the similar Monsters Inc. from Pixar.
Like any kid-oriented comic ‘toon today the action can be a bit too frenetic and Monsters vs. Aliens piles a lot of it on in its trim 95 minutes. Still the lovable characters carry the day and somehow make it all palatable.
When Susan now Ginormica brings her new friends home to meet her parents chaos ensues and so do the laughs. Also impressive are the large action scenes that make fine use of CGI animation breakthroughs.
BEST SUPPORTING BLOB:
It's easily the one-eyed lame-brained blue lug of a people hugger named B.O.B. perfectly matched to the talents of Rogen. He rolls away with the movie and inevitably the merchandise tie-ins.
After a brief flashback prologue where we see how the young lion Alex (Ben Stiller) is separated from his father Zuba (Bernie Mac) inadvertently ending up in the Big Apple the story returns to present day as our favorite New York zoo denizens prepare to take off from Madagascar in a crudely constructed airplane piloted by the penguins and propelled by slingshot. Unfortunately for Alex lovelorn giraffe Melman (David Schwimmer) fast talking zebra Marty (Chris Rock) and svelte hippo Gloria (Jada Pinkett-Smith) instead of landing in NYC the aircraft sputters and crash lands right in the middle of Africa where they run into a world of exotic creatures. This also includes Alex’s long lost dad and mom. Happy reunion? Not quite. Zuba’s nemesis Mukunga (Alec Baldwin) insists they follow lion pride lore which means Alex must go through a rite of passage -- one he is sure to fail if Mukunga has his way. Meanwhile Marty tries to integrate into a pack of zebras; Gloria gets hooked up with a soulful hippo (will.i.am); and Melman is up to his neck looking for love. Oh and they also all have to save the Kenya preserve from a life-threatening water shortage. No biggie! Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa’s witty and hip dialogue provides rich voice over opportunities for a talented crew of actors. Stiller continues to be a riot as the showbiz loving Zooperstar Alex especially in his attempts to earn the pride’s respect. Chris Rock earns his stripes as he tries to hang with a large group of look-a-like sound-a-like zebras. Schwimmer is winning and hysterical as Melman now considered a witchdoctor by his fellow giraffe-ians while Pinkett-Smith continues to shine as hippo Gloria looking for a little action. Among the new voices rapper will.i.am as Moto Moto the last of the red-hot hippos will have you wanting More More while Alec Baldwin gets to play the heavy with Lion King style. The late Bernie Mac playing it relatively straight as Alex’s father proves (as he does in his other new release this week Soul Men) shows us just how much his unique brand of humor will be sorely missed. Stealing the show however and getting king-sized laughs in an expanded role is Sacha Baron Cohen back as King Julien the hard-partying head of the lemurs. With a vast improvement in Madagascar’s state-of-the-art computer graphic work directors Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath take this sequel several notches up in terms of technical savvy including the exciting opening sequence as well as the plane crash. But they really score with the script with new co-writer Etan Cohen adding some crisp comedy. What was mostly just a serviceable script the first time around has gotten a lot more sophisticated and clever a development parents being dragged by their kids will be keenly grateful for. This is the rare animated sequel that actually has a reason for existence other than minting money. It has more heart drama and laughs than the original Madagascar which despite its flaws still made half a billion dollars worldwide. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa should make even more as it proves to be one of the year’s most entertaining comedy delights.
Chloe (voiced by Drew Barrymore) is a diamond-drenched pampered pooch who lives the high life in Beverly Hills. Beloved by her owner Aunt Viv (Jamie Lee Curtis) and adored by the landscaper’s Chihuahua Papi (George Lopez) she is left with a babysitter niece Rachel (Piper Perabo) when Viv takes off on vacation. Rachel impulsively departs on a last-minute weekend romp to Mexico with Chloe who not only gets lost south of the border but ends up in some very bad company. Saved from certain death in a dog fight she hooks up with a street-savvy German Shepherd (Andy Garcia) harboring a dark secret from his past life as a police dog. Along the way her diamond ID collar is swiped by a conniving rat (Cheech Marin) and his accomplice a very fidgety Iguana (Paul Rodriguez) leading to major chaos as all of them are pursued by the vicious El Diablo (Edward James Olmos) a Doberman out for revenge and one very disoriented Chihuahua. Will Rachel and Papi be able to find her in time before clueless Aunt Viv’s return? That’s the burning question. Basically a talking dog movie with a heavy Spanish accent Beverly Hills Chihuahua doesn’t exactly shy from stereotyped Mexicans but since this is a canine Babe it manages to get away with just about anything simply because these pooches are just so darned cute. The voice cast which features such Latino stars as George Lopez Edward James Olmos Paul Rodriguez Cheech Marin and Andy Garcia is perfectly cast lending a lot of fun to the proceedings especially Lopez as the lovably loyal Papi and Marin as a jewel-thief rat. Barrymore is also ideal as the ultra-rich and spoiled Chloe who is the equivalent of a canine Paris Hilton. The human actors are basically wallpaper with Curtis given little dimension in her relatively brief screen time and Perabo spending most of the film searching for the pup she carelessly misplaced. Manolo Cardona does nicely as the family gardener who helps out in the search. But it’s the remarkable real dog stars that steal this show. You have to wonder how their trainers led by Birds And Animals Unlimited’s Mike Alexander pulled some of this stuff off. These animals are more three-dimensional than most real thesps we’ve seen lately and actually do seem to be mouthing their lines (including some very clever dialogue). The old show-business adage says to never work with kids or animals--they take center stage everytime. In this case director Raja Gosnell and the group of talented trainers behind the cameras have proven the saying absolutely right. Dominating the breezy 86-minute time the bulk of the movie is devoted to stars of the four-legged variety and Gosnell makes it look easy with inventive camera angles giving us the POV of all the various dog stars who seem to be taking on the distinct personalities of the “characters” they are playing particularly the soulful down-and-out ex-police dog Garcia voices. You really do wonder what this dog’s deep dark secret is and the relationship forged between him and Chloe is genuinely real. It’s a tribute to Gosnell’s talents and the entire behind-the-scenes team that Beverly Hills Chihuahua turns out to be the family delight it is.