Last year director Garry Marshall hit upon a devilishly canny approach to the romantic comedy. A more polished refinement of Hal Needham’s experimental Cannonball Run method it called for assembling a gaggle of famous faces from across the demographic spectrum and pairing them with a shallow day-in-the-life narrative packed with gobs of gooey sentiment. A cynical strategy to be sure but one that paid handsome dividends: Valentine’s Day earned over $56 million in its opening weekend surpassing even the rosiest of forecasts. Buoyed by the success Marshall and his screenwriter Katherine Fugate hastily retreated to the bowels of Hades to apply their lucrative formula to another holiday historically steeped in romantic significance and New Year’s Eve was born.
Set in Manhattan on the last day of the year New Year’s Eve crams together a dozen or so canned scenarios into one bloated barely coherent mass of cliches. As before Marshall’s recruited an impressive ensemble of minions to do his unholy bidding including Oscar winners Hilary Swank Halle Berry and Robert De Niro the latter luxuriating in a role that didn’t require him to get out of bed. High School Musical’s Zac Efron is paired up with ‘80s icon Michelle Pfeiffer – giving teenage girls and their fathers something to bond over – while Glee’s Lea Michele meets cute with a pajama-clad Ashton Kutcher. There’s Katherine Heigl in a familiar jilted-fiance role Sarah Jessica Parker as a fretful single mom and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as the most laid-back cop in New York. Sofia Vergara and Hector Elizondo mine for cheap laughs with thick accents – his fake and hers real – and Jessica Biel and Josh Duhamel deftly mix beauty with blandness. Fans of awful music will delight in the sounds of Jon Bon Jovi straining against type to play a relevant pop musician.
The task of interweaving the various storylines is too great for Marshall and New Year’s Eve bears the distinct scent and stain of an editing-room bloodbath with plot holes so gaping that not even the brightest of celebrity smiles can obscure them. But that’s not the point – it never was. You should know better than to expect logic from a film that portrays 24-year-old Efron and 46-year-old Parker as brother-and-sister without bothering to explain how such an apparent scientific miracle might have come to pass. Marshall wagers that by the time the ball drops and the film’s last melodramatic sequence has ended prior transgressions will be absolved and moviegoers will be content to bask in New Year's Eve's artificial glow. The gambit worked for Valentine's Day; this time he may not be so fortunate.
Martin Scorsese's star-studded gangster movie The Departed has landed three honors from the Las Vegas Film Society, including Best Picture.
The Departed also picked up a Best Director accolade for Scorsese and a Best Film Editing nod for Thelma Schoonmaker.
Elsewhere, Helen Mirren was named Best Actress for her turn in The Queen, while Best Actor went to Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland.
Peter O'Toole was honoured with the William Holden Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Las Vegas Film Society is made up of 12 local critics who work for various print, radio, TV and Internet publications.
The full list of winners is:
Best Picture--The Departed
Best Actor--Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland
Best Actress--Helen Mirren in The Queen
Best Supporting Actor--Djimon Hounsou in Blood Diamond
Best Supporting Actress--Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls
Best Director--Martin Scorsese for The Departed
Best Screenplay (Original or Adapted)--Jason Reitman for Thank You for Smoking
Best Cinematography--Emmanuel Lubezki for Children of Men
Best Film Editing--Thelma Schoonmaker for The Departed
Best Score--Thomas Newman for The Good German
Best Song--“Ordinary Miracle” by David Stewart and Glen Ballard; “Charlotte's Web” by Sarah McLachlan
Best Family Film--Charlotte's Web
Best Documentary--An Inconvenient Truth
Best Animated Film--Monster House
Best Foreign Film--Pan's Labyrinth
Best Costume Design--Marie Antoinette
Best Art Direction--Marie Antoinette
Best Visual Effects--X-Men: The Last Stand
Best Youth in Film--Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine
Best DVD (Packaging, Design and Content)--Superman Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Warner Home Entertainment)
William Holden Lifetime Achievement Award--Peter O'Toole
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Desert romance The English Patient, A Clockwork Orange and gay cowboy epic Brokeback Mountain have been included in a shortlist of the best 50 books to make it to the big screen.
The list, compiled by Britain's Book Marketing Society, honors literary classics turned into movie masterpieces and will be voted on by readers online and at UK bookshops.
Among the works cited, director Steven Spielberg is responsible for three: J.G. Ballard's Empire of the Sun, Thomas Keneally's Holocaust drama Schindler's Ark (filmed as Schindler's List), and Jaws, written by Peter Benchley.
Meanwhile, movie re-workings of Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient, Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange, and Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest have garnered 14 Oscars and another 11 Academy Award nominations.
Goodfellas, Pride and Prejudice, Get Shorty, Doctor Zhivago and Fight Club also make the shortlist.
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