It was the trickle of pee heard around the world. Cannes attendees were aghast and/or amused an infamous scene from The Paperboy that shows Nicole Kidman urinating on Zac Efron; this is apparently a great salve for jellyfish burns which were covering our Ken Doll-like protagonist. (In fact the term protagonist should be used very loosely for Efron's character Jack who is mostly acted upon than active throughout.)
Lurid! Sexy! Perverse! Trashy! Whether or not it's actually effective is overshadowed by all the hubbub that's attached itself to the movie for better or worse. In fact the movie is all of these things — but that's actually not a compliment. What could have become somethingmemorable is jaw-droppingly bad (when it's not hilarious). Director Lee Daniels uses a few different visual styles throughout from a stark black and white palette for a crime scene recreation at the beginning to a '70s porno aesthetic that oscillates between psychedelic and straight-up sweaty with an emphasis on Efron's tighty-whiteys. This only enhances the sloppiness of the script which uses lines like narrator/housekeeper/nanny Anita's (Macy Gray) "You ain't tired enough to be retired " to conjure up the down-home wisdom of the South. Despite Gray's musical talents she is not a good choice for a narrator or an actor for that matter. In a way — insofar as they're perhaps the only female characters given a chunk of screen time — her foil is Charlotte Bless Nicole Kidman's character. Anita is the mother figure who wears as we see in an early scene control-top pantyhose whereas Charlotte is all clam diggers and Barbie doll make-up. Or as Anita puts it "an oversexed Barbie doll."
The slapdash plot is that Jack's older brother Ward (Matthew McConaughey) comes back to town with his colleague Yardley (David Oyelowo) to investigate the case of a death row criminal named Hillary Van Wetter. Yardley is black and British which seems to confuse many of the people he meets in this backwoods town. Hillary (John Cusack) hidden under a mop of greasy black hair) is a slack-jawed yokel who could care less if he's going to be killed for a crime he might or might not have committed. He is way more interested in his bride-to-be Charlotte who has fallen in love with him through letters — this is her thing apparently writing letters and falling in love with inmates — and has rushed to help Ward and Yardley free her man. In the meantime we're subjected to at least one simulated sex scene that will haunt your dreams forever. Besides Hillary's shortcomings as a character that could rustle up any sort of empathy the case itself is so boring it begs the question why a respected journalist would be interested enough to pursue it.
The rest of the movie is filled with longing an attempt to place any the story in some sort of social context via class and race even more Zac Efron's underwear sexual violence alligator innards swamp people in comically ramshackle homes and a glimpse of one glistening McConaughey 'tock. Harmony Korine called and he wants his Gummo back.
It's probably tantalizing for this cast to take on "serious" "edgy" work by an Oscar-nominated director. Cusack ditched his boombox blasting "In Your Eyes" long ago and Efron's been trying to shed his squeaky clean image for so long that he finally dropped a condom on the red carpet for The Lorax so we'd know he's not smooth like a Ken doll despite how he was filmed by Daniels. On the other hand Nicole Kidman has been making interesting and varied career choices for years so it's confounding why she'd be interested in a one-dimensional character like Charlotte. McConaughey's on a roll and like the rest of the cast he's got plenty of interesting projects worth watching so this probably won't slow him down. Even Daniels is already shooting a new film The Butler as we can see from Oprah's dazzling Instagram feed. It's as if they all want to put The Paperboy behind them as soon as possible. It's hard to blame them.
Top Story: "Matrix" Sequel to Premiere at Cannes
The Matrix: Reloaded, the sequel to the 1999 blockbuster The Matrix, will be shown out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival on May 15, the second day of the festival, The Associated Press reports. The film, which stars Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss will be released worldwide the same day. The Cannes Film Festival, now in its 56th year, is the world's best-known film festival and serves as a launching pad for movies that are shown out of competition. The festival runs May 14-25. The original movie won four Academy Awards and grossed more than $460 million worldwide. The third and final film in the trilogy, The Matrix: Revolutions is scheduled for release this November.
Kidman Shared Oscar Glory With Cruise
Nicole Kidman, who won Best Actress for her performance in The Hours, shared her Oscar victory last month with ex-husband Tom Cruise. The actress told People magazine in an interview published Thursday that she called Cruise in New Zealand after she won. "It was so important for me to talk to Connor (her son) and yes, to Tom. We have very different lives now, but as I've said to Tom, I will be there for him for the rest of his life, always there," she said. Kidman and Cruise's 10-year marriage ended in 2001 in a bitter divorce.
O'Donnell Demands Retraction From "Enquirer"
Rosie O'Donnell demanded a retraction Thursday from the National Enquirer tabloid, which printed a story on April 15 claiming she and her live-in partner, Kelli Carpenter, were on the verge of splitting up, Reuters reports. O'Donnell's attorney Bert Fields said she may proceed with a lawsuit for defamation and other claims--even if the tabloid retracts the story.
Nazi-Era Fund Seeks Spielberg's Help
Germany's compensation fund for Nazi-era slave laborers said it will seek assistance from director Steven Spielberg to record the testimonies in an effort to keep alive the memory of surviving victims, the AP reports. Officials said Thursday they would seek Spielberg's help for a plan to interview up to 1,000 survivors. Spielberg's Shoah Foundation, which was set up after the filming of 1993's Oscar-winning Schindler's List, has already videotaped the testimonies of more than 50,000 Holocaust survivors.
John Wayne's Son Dies
Michael Wayne, the eldest son of late actor John Wayne, died of heart failure Wednesday at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center following complications from lupus, an immune system disease, the AP reports. He was 68. He headed Wayne Enterprises, which owns many of his father's films. Among the films Michael Wayne helped produce were The Green Berets (1968), Big Jake (1971), The Train Robbers (1973) and Brannigan (1975).
Did CBS Staffers Bet on "Survivor"?
Costa Rica-based online sportsbook BoDog.com has dropped betting on the CBS reality show Survivor after allegedly finding network employees were wagering on the program--and winning, the AP reports. The players in question opened accounts with BoDog before Survivor: Marquesas, the fourth show, and bet on no other events. BoDog's Lance Bradley said they wagered correctly on who would be the final two contestants in both the fourth and fifth editions of Survivor. At least two players have been identified as CBS employees and other names may be connected to the network or may be aliases.
Fans Walk Out of Pearl Jam Concert
Dozens of fans walked out of a Pearl Jam concert Tuesday in Denver, Colo., after lead singer Eddie Vedder took a mask of President Bush and impaled it on a microphone stand, the AP reports. Several concertgoers booed and shouted for Vedder to shut up as he told the crowd he was against the war and Bush. During the show, however, Vedder said: "Just to clarify ... we support the troops." Vedder used a Bush mask in Australia and Japan to perform the song "Bushleaguer."
Role Call: Tim Story Exits "Barbershop" Sequel, Jane Joins "Punisher"
Director Tim Story has dropped MGM's Barbershop sequel to helm the DreamWorks' comedy Date School, Variety reports. Story denies money was a factor in his decision and said he was worried about repeating himself too soon ... Dreamcatcher star Thomas Jane will play the lead role in Artisan Picture's big-screen adaptation of Marvel's The Punisher for writer-director Jonathan Hensleigh. The film, which revolves around FBI undercover agent and tough-as-nails vigilante Frank Castle, is aiming for a summer 2004 release.