Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.
Nicole Kidman (Moulin Rouge) and Jim Carrey's (The Majestic) new untitled project has been pulled by Universal from its March shooting date, Variety reports. The comedy was to star Carrey as a widower who begins dating, only to be haunted by Kidman, who plays his dead wife. Variety cites Kidman's tight schedule as a reason for the delay; she's currently busy haunting Tom Cruise.
Regis Philbin is keeping his original day job. The beleaguered Who Wants To Be a Millionaire host has declined to headline the syndicated version, even though the prime time gig may disappear. And, yes, that's his final answer.
Forget Mork. Forget Patch Adams. The usually cheerful Robin Williams is developing his dark side, and will play mentally disturbed characters in each of his next three films. Actually, we'd like to forget most of the roles we've seen Williams in. Jumanji, anyone?
Movie fans lined Leicester Square in London to catch a glimpse of favorite son Ewan McGregor and other stars of Black Hawk Down at Britain's premiere of the Ridley Scott flick Thursday night. Meanwhile, down the street, fans of the three-piece suit fans lined the aisles at Harrods.
"Out, out damned spot." Monica Lewinsky--yes, that Monica Lewinsky--was at a press conference Wednesday to promote HBO's documentary Monica in Black and White, set to debut March 3. Lewinsky told reporters the biggest misconception people have of her is "that I sought this celebrity by seducing the president and going to the White House with an agenda." And here we thought she went to the White House to make a big change in our trade policy with China.
NBC has filled its drama production slate for the fall 2002 season, ordering six hour-long dramas--including Kingpin, a drug-syndicate Sopranos--and asking for scripts on three other possible series. In related news, ABC has informed CBS and FOX that it gets first dibs on any shows that NBC doesn't work into its lineup. (That's a joke, folks.)
We didn't think anything could make Emeril look good. But NBC's replacement, the Hank Azaria starrer Imagine, has been squashed after just two episodes, after pulling in the same dismal ratings the ill-conceived cooking show did. Bam! In related news, ABC has optioned both Emeril and Imagine. (That's a joke, too.)
Steven Bing, famous for producing Get Carter and for having dated actress Elizabeth Hurley without knocking her up (or so he says), is now suing England's Daily Mail newspaper for libel. The Daily Mail reported that Bing hired a private dick (oh, now we get it) to dig up dirt on the pregnant Hurley in an attempt to ruin her reputation. We've said it once, and we'll say it again: those goofy British.
The Price Is Right celebrated its 30th anniversary in style: with cops, cops and more cops. An estimated 5,000 people showed up for the gala taping in Las Vegas, though there were only an estimated 900 tickets for public consumption. Which means an estimated 4,100 people got mad. The police made no arrests, but did leave with some nice parting gifts.
It's now known that Lani O'Grady, Mary from Eight Is Enough, passed away last September from "multiple drug intoxication." The L.A. County Coroner said that the two drugs in her system, Vicodin and Prozac, were more than enough. The coroner did not say whether or not her 1994 appearance on Geraldo had anything to do with her demise.
From the world of sitar comes this shocking development: Ravi Shankar's daughter wants to make a name of her own. Anoushka Shankar, 20, understood that having a famous dad meant she "didn't have to work to get an audience," but she admits she's developing her own style. As for a name of her own, we suggest Uma Zeta-Jones.
Phil Collins and his wife have set up a charity for aspiring Swiss athletes and entertainers aged 4 to 16. Collins will be performing Saturday in Geneva to raise funds for said charity. There's been no official release on the "Face Value" of tickets or the dress code or, But Seriously even if it's not "A Hot Night in Paris" we bet "No Jackets" will be "Required." We're also waiting (for 17 years now!) for an explanation of the word "sussudio."
Co-creator of CD technology Philips has blasted the major record labels, which are now producing a "new" type of CD that will prevent buyers from ripping songs into the easily traded MP3 format popularized by Napster. Philips GM Gerry Wirtz stated, "We worry [the labels] don't know what they're doing." That makes an entire planetful of audiophiles who wonder the same thing.