Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
Endless Love has awakened something in me. Not a long dormant passion for an introverted high school classmate, or a sudden desire to break into the zoo after dark. A question about movies — more accurately, about movie criticism. The same question you would ask yourself if you fell drowsy in the middle of Citizen Kane, or welled up during the emotional climax of Just Friends. The question I ask myself now, as I recount the 103 straight minutes of asphyxiating laughter that I endured during a screening of Shana Feste’s would-be romantic drama: What makes a good movie?
We assign deference to some films, disgust to others — a lucky few of us make a living this way. But what, precisely, are we reviewing? A film’s mission or its execution? The product onscreen or the experience of watching it? All factors come into play when considering whether or not a movie “works.” But on rare occasions you’ll get a film that offers no common ground in its meeting of these standards. You’ll get Endless Love, which strives for dramatic sincerity, winds up with underwritten idiocy, and provokes in its viewers an unrestrained, absurdist revelry — the kind of joy you’d otherwise be forced to seek in a third viewing of The Lego Movie. Laughter at the ill-conceived antics and befuddling dialectical patterns of our central teen couple — a Mars native Gabrielle Wilde and her gaping mouthed beau Alex Pettyfer. Elated bemusement at the younger generation’s propensity for chaotic disrobing and didactically organized dance parties. Unprecedented ecstasy at the Mafia movie intimidation tactics of an overprotective dad (Bruce Greenwood) and the brain-dead disregard of a supportive one (Robert Patrick). As a comedy, Endless Love is unstoppable.
I can only hypothesize that it was not Feste’s intention to roll us in the aisles. I have no cold proof that her resolution in paving every nook in her Georgia-set remake with another farcical stone — Wilde’s instantaneous evolution from wordless ingénue to sexually aggressive spirit walker, Patrick’s loving caution-to-the-wind attitude regarding any situation that has to do with a girl, Rhys Wakefield’s “black sheep” character forming an odd amalgamation of Pauly Shore and Charlie St. Cloud — was not one of Wolf of Wall Street-like satire, or reappropriation in the vein of Spring Breakers. Here are two movies that earned scorn from viewers who read them literally, and in turn vehement defense from those who peered through the exaltation of cocaine and firearms into the filmmakers’ ironic intentions.
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
To the latter community, one to which I subscribe, I ask: if we’re readily willing to dive deeper for Martin Scorsese and Harmony Korine, shouldn’t we grant Feste this benefit? If we’d defend the authenticity of the splendor we recognized in their movies, why am I inclined to write off the very same when present in this year’s Valentine’s Day cannonball? Why do I eagerly laud the merit in Leonardo DiCaprio directing Quaalude-charged tribal chants and relinquishing subhuman treatment upon anyone short a Y-chromosome, while instinctively shafting the invaluable merriment in Pettyfer’s goofily deliberate declaration that he likes to read into the category of happy accident?
But an even more precise question (one I was challenged to entertain by a friend and film critic far wiser than I am), and this time to the former community: does it matter? Did it matter to all those offended by gunplay and intrusive nudity that Korine set out to demonize youth culture and its omnipresent hedonism? Did considering his intentions make the endgame any less a visceral nightmare? If not, does it matter if Feste poured her soul into the machination of a timeless love story, only to produce a riotous cinematic episode that treads genre parody as expertly as anything from the golden age of the Zucker brothers? Does it matter that she didn’t intend for Wilde and Pettyfer’s sex scene to come off as super-hoke, for every mention of cancer to feel like soap opera send-up, or for Robert Patrick’s vindication of his son’s passion for menagerie trespassing to elicit the biggest laugh of a movie yet in 2014?
So long as I consider the power of cinema, I’ll never be sure if it matters. I’ll never be sure of the answers to any of these questions. But no matter where I find myself standing on this issue down the line, I had far too much fun at Endless Love — and entertained far too many questions on the nature of cinema and the way we react to it — to call it a movie that people shouldn’t see.
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Judge throws out Hilton lawsuit
A Los Angeles judge has thrown out Paris Hilton's $30 million invasion of privacy lawsuit against the Internet company that owns the rights to One Night in Paris, the infamous sex romp video of the hotel heiress and her ex-flame Rick Solomon. Reuters reports the reasons for Friday's dismissal against Florida-based Kahatani Ltd. were unclear. The New York Daily News, however, reports Hilton herself dropped the lawsuit in return for a cash sum plus a percentage of profits on sales of the video, which she would then donate to charity. Salomon, meanwhile, has dropped a lawsuit accusing the Simple Life star and her family of slander. The 45-minute video circulated on the Web before Red Light District Video, a suburban Los Angeles porn production company, bought the distribution rights from Salomon in April. Salomon and Hilton made the video in May 2001, but the socialite claimed in the lawsuit the night-vision videotape had been "intended only for personal use."
Marc Anthony pays unpaid tab, staves off lawsuit
Singer Marc Anthony, who was sued in a Puerto Rican court last week by an El San Juan Hotel & Casino club owner for an unpaid bill, has offered to pay the $20,000-plus tab. According to the AP, the suit stemmed from a bill for a private party thrown by Anthony and his then-wife, former Miss Universe Dayanara Torres, after the 2002 Miss Universe pageant. A report in the Puerto Rican paper Primera Hora alleged the singer had declined to pay the $21,067 bill "due to personal problems." Holly Taylor, a spokeswoman for the singer, told the AP Monday Anthony's representatives had been trying to resolve the matter for the last several months. Anthony divorced Torres June 1 and reportedly married Jennifer Lopez days later in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Lindsay Lohan to launch singing career
Following in the footsteps of Disney constituent Hilary Duff, 18-year-old Mean Girls star Lindsay Lohan has signed a record deal with Tommy Mottola's Casablanca Records. "It's a long-term recording contract," Peter LoFrumento, a representative for Casablanca's parent company, Universal Music Group, told The Associated Press on Monday. "Right now she needs to get into the studio and get down to work." Lohan is no stranger to music. The actress's pop vocals were heard on the Freaky Friday and Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen.
Eminem, Sirius launch new hip-hop station
Sirius Satellite Radio has teamed up with Eminem, his label Shady Records and Interscope Records to launch a hip-hop channel. "Once upon a time not too long ago, the Feds wanted all my music off the air," Eminem said in a statement. "Now we'll be on Sirius 24 hours a day." The channel will feature hip-hop from across the spectrum, not just the two labels. According to Reuters, Eminem's DJ Green Lantern will host a weekly show, with the rapper himself and other Shady Records artists hosting occasional shows. The station, which is expected to launch this fall, does not yet have a name.
Fox News criticized in new documentary
Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox News Channel went on the defense Monday after a new documentary accused the cabler of tailoring its coverage to back President Bush, Reuters reports. Outfoxed, by Robert Greenwald, uses testimony from ex-Fox employees, footage from broadcasts and internal news planning memos to make its case. Fox News said in a statement that the film did not seek comment from the station and showed copyrighted material out of context to make partisan points. "If any news organizations decide to make this an anti-Fox News story, then all of their material becomes fodder immediately for possible out of context and biased documentaries," Fox News said. Outfoxed, sponsored by liberal advocacy groups including MoveOn.org and the Center for American Progress, is set to premiere Tuesday at New York University. There are no plans for a theatrical release, Reuters reports.
Franken changes radio show name
Al Franken's daily three-hour Air America Radio show, The O'Franken Factor, is changing its name to The Al Franken Show, the AP reports. The 53-year-old comedian's liberal talk show was dubbed The O'Franken Factor as an obvious jab at Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, but Franken told AP he's changing the name because "no matter how hard we tried, conservative entertainer Bill O'Reilly wouldn't sue us." Last year, a judge threw out Fox News' request to ban Franken from using the slogan "Fair and Balanced" on the cover of his book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.
Baldwin wants to Scare some people
Sci Fi Channel has signed actor Stephen Baldwin to host the third season of Scare Tactics, replacing original host Shannen Doherty, who left to pursue other projects. According to Variety, the cabler has ordered up 14 new episodes of the reality show, which sets up elaborate and terrifying pranks to play on unsuspecting participants.
Actors, Broadway producers reach agreement
Actors' Equity Association and the League of American Theatres and Producers reached a tentative settlement Monday on a new four-year production contract, CNN.com reports. Specific details may not be known until Wednesday, League spokeswoman Kelly Sullivan told CNN.com. The negotiations had taken an ugly turn after the union's contract with the League expired June 27, with threats of a strike. The major concern was the question of non-Equity tours, which have been gaining in number over the last several years.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.
Top Story: Wynonna Judd Charged With Drunk Driving
Country singer Wynonna Judd was arrested early Thursday for drunk driving following a traffic stop near downtown Nashville, Tenn. Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron told Reuters the 39-year-old singer had bloodshot eyes and appeared confused when her 2002 Land Rover was pulled over. After consenting to a Breathalyzer, Judd, who was driving 47 miles per hour in a 30 mile per hour zone, blew a .175--more than twice the state's legal limit of 0.08 percent. The arresting officer, who said he smelled alcohol on her breath, described the singer's behavior as "cooperative and pleasant." Judd's vehicle was charged with drunk driving and released on $500 bond. Judd went solo in 1990 when her mother, Naomi, retired from their duo, The Judds, after being diagnosed with hepatitis. Her album, What the World Needs Now Is Love, which was released in August, topped Billboard's country charts.
Hilton's Ex-Boyfriend Sues Over Sex Tape
Video entrepreneur Rick Solomon, the man seen having sex with Paris Hilton on a home videotape that has surfaced on the Internet, filed a $10 million slander lawsuit Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court against the 22-year-old socialite, her parents and her publicist, Siri Garber, claiming they have sought to portray him as a criminal, Reuters reports. The Hiltons have threatened to sue anyone who releases the tape, which was made in 2001 when Paris Hilton was 19 and before Solomon, then 30, married actress Shannen Doherty.
Jennifer Lopez To Launch Underwear Line
Just when you thought there was nothing left for Jennifer Lopez to conquer, here comes J.Lo lingerie. According to The Associated Press, Lopez has signed an exclusive global deal with Warnaco to manufacture and sell the lingerie collection, which will include bras, underwear and shapewear. Lopez, 33, will also make a line of sleepwear and loungewear. The JLO by Jennifer Lopez collection will be launched in fall 2004.
Sean Combs Donates $1 Million to NYC Schools
Hip-hop mogul Sean "P. Diddy" Combs has donated the $1 million he raised by running the New York City Marathon Nov. 2 to the city's public schools. The money will be used to support school libraries and technology, the AP reports. Combs, who ran the race in just over four hours, raised $2 million overall. The other $1 million will go to children's advocate groups including the Children's Hope Foundation and Daddy's House Social Programs.
CBS To Air Michael Jackson Special
CBS has scheduled a one-hour special chronicling the career of pop oddity Michael Jackson for Nov. 26--the final night of the November sweeps. Reuters reports that the special will consist of mostly archival footage from Jackson's Motown days as the lead singer of the Jackson 5 through his emergence as one of the music industry's biggest pop stars. A spokesman for Jackson told the Reuters the singer will not make an appearance on the show but will showcase the new video for his latest single, "One More Chance."
Teen's Lawsuit Against Maury Goes Forward
A Manhattan judge ruled Thursday that a 14-year-old girl who says she was raped after an appearance on Maury Povich's television talk show can go ahead with a $25 million lawsuit against the show and its host, the AP reports. The girl came to New York from Texas to appear on an episode themed "out of control teens." The lawsuit says the show's producers promised to provide the girl with psychological counseling, time at a teen boot camp and transportation and hotel expenses. According to court papers, a man saying he was "Maury's limo driver" approached the girl after the Dec. 6, 2001 taping, drove her to a secluded area and raped her.
Frasier Hasn't Left the Building Yet
Kelsey Grammer suggested in an interview Monday on CBS's The Late Show With Craig Kilborn that he would be willing to return as Dr. Frasier Crane for a 12th season of the hit NBC sitcom Frasier, the AP reports. "If someone called and said, 'We really want you back for another year,' I'd probably figure out some way to make that happen," Grammer said. "But that call hasn't come." NBC hasn't officially deemed this the final year for Frasier, the network's interest may be enhanced by the recent cancellation of Coupling and the final season of Friends wrapping.
Kelly Clarkson in World Idol
Kelly Clarkson, the first season winner of Fox's talent show American Idol, will get to compete on World Idol in London with winners from 10 other countries, including Lebanon, South Africa and Poland. Viewers from around the world will then have the chance to vote after a panel of judges, made up of one representative from each country, comment on the performances. A Fox spokeswoman told the AP details on the voting process will be released later and said she was unaware of a prize for the international champ. World Idol will air at 8 p.m. EST on Dec. 25, and at 9 p.m. EST on Jan. 1.
Role Call: MGM ventures Into Spoofdom
MGM has made a preemptive buy of Henry Bates and the Sorcerer's Balls--a spoof of the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings franchises. Scribe David Morgasen told Variety the storyline involves a good wizard named Gandolfini who goes against the evil wizard Enron. The quest, meanwhile, involves Henry Bates, the rightful king of the land of Middlefinger.
Hole's outspoken, unflinching lead singer has filed a cross-complaint against Universal Music Group, seeking to break her contract and expose what she claims is a corrupt system that enslaves artists and cheats them out of royalties.
``Artists who have generated billions of dollars for the music industry die broke and uncared for by the business they made wealthy,'' Love said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
Standard recording agreements often lock in artists for many years, requiring them to bear many of their own production and marketing costs, taking a huge chunk of any financial returns they may enjoy, Love's lawyer, A. Barry Cappello, told Reuters.
"I've been evangelized," Love said. "I'm ready to take this thing all the way to the Supreme Court."
The cross-complaint was the result of a complaint filed by UMG Recordings against Love when she attempted to end her contractual relationship with the recording company.
Love told the Los Angeles Times that the major label's business tactics are "unconscionable and unlawful." By embarking on a legal fight, Love is hoping to give her music-making colleagues more freedom. She stated that artists such as Beck, Garbage and Sheryl Crow have also tried to leave or sue the company but have been shut down or threatened.
According to Reuters, Crow's attorney Jay Cooper believes the case "will have an impact on the industry and can change the terms of contracts.'' He added, ``Many artists feel they are tied to the contracts for too long."
In court papers, Reuters mentioned that Universal records described the complaint as a "meritless, inflammatory diatribe" designed to "attract media attention." The company however, would not comment on Love's suit.
Puffy Testifies, J-Lo May Appear Tomorrow
Contradicting a public announcement issued by Jennifer Lopez and Sean "Puffy" Combs earlier in the week, Combs' lawyer Benjamin Brafman said that although it's unlikely, Lopez may testify tomorrow in the shooting case involving the rap star.
Reuters states that Brafman told Judge Charles Solomon that Lopez's testimony has "always been a possibility," adding, ``but as I anticipate right now, she will not testify.''
In a statement, Combs said, "I feel it is no longer necessary for Jennifer to be involved in these proceedings.''
On the witness stand today, the rapper claimed he thought he was the intended victim of shootings that occurred at Club New York on Dec. 27, 1999. The gunfire rang out shortly after Puffy, his bodyguard Anthony "Wolf" Jones and then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez left the Times Square club's VIP section toward the exit.
Combs said, "I thought I was being shot at. My hands were up. I started to go down. Everybody started falling all over each other."
He added that he saw a man later identified as Matthew "Scar" Allen "mouthing off" at him. "I could tell that what he was saying wasn't nice," he said. "I could tell by his body language and facial expressions."
"I had felt the shots were for me," Combs said. "As fast as I could get down there, I was just trying to get away from danger."
In the chaos, Combs said he became separated from Lopez, who ran up a flight of stairs to the club offices. He was ushered out of the club and into his Lincoln Navigator by Jones and a moonlighting corrections officer named Leonard Curtis Howard. Jones returned inside to get Lopez and they drove up 8th Ave.
After police caught up with them, they were taken to a police station where, Combs testified, he heard officers calling the press to announce his arrest.
Combs denied charges that he had a gun in his possession at the time. He also denied bribery allegations, answering "absolutely not" to the accusation that he offered driver Wardel Fenderson $50,000 or a diamond ring to admit the gun was his and not Puffy's.
Prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos thinks that even if Lopez testifies, it would not exonerate Mr. Combs.
He referred to Lopez' grand jury testimony in which she claimed not to have seen Combs at the moment of the Club New York shootings. She also said she couldn't hear conversations between Combs and Fenderson in the car.
When asked if Combs had a gun at Club New York, Lopez said, "I can't say one way or another," according to Bogdanos.
. "If Miss Lopez is to testify, she will follow Mr. Combs first thing Friday morning,'' Brafman told the Judge.
In a statement, Lopez said if Combs and his lawyers require her to testify, she "will be there immediately to tell the truth.''
Michael Jackson Co-hosts "Heal The Kids" Charity Event
Despite a broken foot, the king of pop Michael Jackson still plans to travel to Oxford University to co-host a March 6 event for the "Heal The Kids" foundation.
"I am determined to speak despite my injury. The message of Heal the Kids is far too important to me to allow a broken foot to keep me from this commitment," wrote Jackson, 42, in a letter to the New York Post. Jackson co-founded the program, which aims to improve the lives of children worldwide.
According to his publicist, Jackson broke his right foot in a fall at his Neverland Valley Ranch in central California, but is said to be resting comfortably.
The Post reports that more than 20,000 people are trying to obtain tickets to his speaking engagement, even though its not known how many people the university will accommodate.
Jackson's long-delayed new studio album is slated for release later this year. The singer has not released an album since 1997, taking time off to raise his two children, Prince and Paris.
The pop star's agenda also includes another big event - his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Jackson, who has already been enshrined for his work with the Jackson 5, will be honored for his solo work. Boy band 'N Sync will do the honors, presenting the award during the March 19 ceremony.
Shaggy Tops the Charts
Jamaican-born reggae singer Shaggy sits on top of the Billboard Top 200 for the fourth consecutive week, adding 271,650 units for the week ending February 25, according to SoundScan data.
His album "Hot Shot" was released last summer but didn't get praise until the single "It Wasn't Me" recently began dominating playlists. Holding the number two spot is the fifth installment of the World Wrestling Federation's "WWF: The Music" compilation series (SmackDown).
The album shifted 177,000 units in its first week on the market, knocking the strong "Beatles 1" (Capitol/Apple) into the third spot, followed by Jennifer Lopez on the fourth spot.