WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Based on Noel Coward’s 1928 play and set in that period Easy Virtue is about John Whittaker a young Englishman who falls madly in love with a flamboyant American woman named Larita whom he immediately marries and brings home to meet his stuffy all-airs English family. What ensues is a battle of wits that turns to war between the visiting yank and her new mother-in-law who is determined to prove to her son that he has made an egregious mistake.
WHO’S IN IT?
Jessica Biel takes a flying thespic leap and holds her own in the middle of a sterling cast of fine British talent as Larita the feisty young wife of a naïve young man who has fallen head-over-heels in love with her and expects his stuffy upper-crust family to fall in line. Biel is a delight as this thoroughly modern miss and shows she can adapt to the witty rhythms of Noel Coward’s rapid-fire repartee with the best of ‘em. And the best of ‘em includes the wonderfully talented and woefully underrated Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient) as the doubting Mrs. Whittaker who doesn’t quite welcome the American intruder with open arms. Thomas’ performance is reminiscent of the haughty English societal roles she began her career with but she adds a dollop of vinegar to this one and appropriately glams down for full effect. Ben Barnes (The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian) is at once smitten and perplexed as the impressionable new groom while the ever-reliable and appealing Colin Firth steals it all as his cynical and dour father the only other family member who sees the spark in Larita.
Shot entirely in some stunning stately mansions in the environs around Berkshire and Cambridgeshire Easy Virtue expertly captures the flavor of a sophisticated late-'20s British romp. The fresh and inspired casting of Biel in her first English foray should also find contemporary audiences responding. Although he occasionally opens things up a bit (including a very funny fox hunt) director Stephen Elliott wisely lets his cast take center stage with Coward’s constant zingers and spicy dialogue.
There’s nothing really new here that will make you go “Wow.” Though it’s all “been there seen that ” Easy Virtue is still done with verve and style. It’s a hoot for those who miss this kind of theatrical experience on the big screen.
When the others have retired to the patio Biel’s character accidentally sits on Mrs. Whittaker’s prized little pooch sadly squashing the poor little bugger to death. Her subsequent Lucy-esque attempts to cover up the crime are slapstick silly fun giving Biel the opportunity to display the kind of comic chops she didn’t get to show opposite Adam Sandler and Kevin James in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX?
Netflix. The widescreen cinematography is nice to look at but this little trifle will play just fine at your own estate.
Video footage showing tragic Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin dying from a stingray barb to the chest has been destroyed now that it's no longer needed by investigators.
The footage of Irwin's last moments on Sept. 4 last year was used in a police report and coroner's investigation into his death, but the original copy has now been returned to Irwin's widow, Terri, and all other copies have been destroyed.
The tape, reportedly showing Irwin snorkeling above the stingray before it whipped its tail into him, had reportedly been the subject of a million-dollar bidding war from several Web sites.
Irwin's manager, John Stainton, said, "Anything to do with the day that he died, that film is not available."
Michael Barnes, the Australian coroner investigating the case, insisted he'd taken "all possible steps to ensure something of such a personal and tragic nature did not fall into the wrong hands."
Irwin's last program, Ocean's Deadliest, featuring footage shot in the week before Irwin's death, will be shown for the first time in the U.S. on the Discovery Channel on Jan. 21.
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Top Story: Sandler Ties Knot
As Adam Sandler's Web site states, "Sandler got married: Woopity Doo!" The Associated Press reports the comedian wed his girlfriend, actress Jackie Titone, on Sunday in an outdoor ceremony in Malibu, Calif. Photographs of the nuptials showed Sandler in a black tuxedo and white yarmulke, and Titone in a white gown with spaghetti straps, standing among hanging pale rose bouquets and chairs draped with pink satin, AP reports. Even Sandler's dog, Meatball, got in the action, dressed up in a black tuxedo jacket. It is the first marriage for Sandler 36, and Titone, 28.
Lil' Kim's Jewelry Swiped at JFK Airport
Lil' Kim claimed she was robbed of $250,000 worth of jewelry when one of her bags was tampered with at the John F. Kennedy Int'l Airport Friday. AP reports the hip-hop artist's Louis Vuitton bag, which carried as much as $500,000 in jewelry, was mistakenly mixed with her regular luggage before boarding a morning flight to Los Angeles. When the bag was retrieved, it was found to have some jewelry missing, including her signature "Queen Bee" necklace. A spokesman for the Port Authority said Lil' Kim "filed a report for lost jewelry, and the incident is under investigation by the Port Authority police."
Harry Potter Book Flies Off Shelves
And the phenomenon continues. The release of the fifth Harry Potter installment Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Saturday set publishing records all over the world, including in the U.S., where on the first day alone an estimated five million copies were sold, AP reports. "We expected to sell 1 million copies in the first week and we sold that many within the first 48 hours," Barnes & Noble CEO Steve Riggio told AP Sunday. Amazon.com shipped out more than a million copies of the new book, making Saturday the largest distribution day of a single item in e-commerce history, AP reports.
2003 Idols Gear Up for Tour
Ticket sales for the upcoming American Idol tour--which features the second season singers, including winner Ruben Studdard and runner-up Clay Aiken--are already surpassing the sales from the first Idol tour, Billboard magazine reports. Expanding to 41 dates from 30 in 2002, the tour starts July 8 at the Excel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., and wraps Aug. 31 at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, Calif. Tickets range from $25-$45 apiece, the same as last year, Billboard reports.
Nelly Sets Up Bone Marrow Search for Sister
Nelly has formed a bone marrow campaign in search of a donor for his sister, Jackie Donahue, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2001. AP reports the Grammy-winning rapper was on hand for a drive in St. Louis, Missouri over the weekend. "It's not just a one-day event and you'll never hear from us again," Nelly told AP. "It could be a match for somebody else's brother or somebody else's sister."
Playwright George Axelrod Dies
Writer George Axelrod, best known for writing The Seven Year Itch, Breakfast at Tiffany's and The Manchurian Candidate, died Saturday of heart failure in Los Angeles. He was 81.
Cedric Show Yanked for Now
Fox Television has stopped production on the variety and sketch comedy show Cedric, starring Cedric the Entertainer but plan on running the remaining unseen episodes in the fall, Reuters reports. Despite Cedric's mediocre ratings, Reuters reports Fox originally wanted the show to return for a second season in the fall in hopes to keep the comedian in its fold until the network could develop a more suitable scripted comedy for him.
TV Movie About Fugitive Rapist Changes Ending
Producers of the Lifetime television movie A Date With Darkness: The Trial of Andrew Luster, about real-life fugitive rapist Andrew Luster, are having to rewrite the ending six days before wrapping due to Luster's capture Wednesday in Mexico. Reuters reports Luster, who was confined to house arrest during his trial on charges of drugging and raping three women, escaped five months ago but was apprehended by an American bounty hunter in the Mexican resort of Puerto Vallarta. The heir to the Max Factor cosmetics fortune had been sentenced to 120 years in prison.
Role Call: Portrait of Dali To Hit Screens
Director Simon West (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) has signed on to helm Dali, a biopic on famed artist Salvador Dali. Variety reports the film will focus on the artist who captivated the American art scene with sex, sin and surrealism only to fall eventually into scandal and misfortune.
Let's hear it for the old guy who in this movie comes off sexier than his buff young accomplice (Dermot Mulroney). OK the old guy happens to be the gracefully aging icon Paul Newman -- as a feisty heistmeister who dodges a long prison sentence and then teams up with his equally conniving rest-home nurse (Linda Fiorentino) on a bank job gone wrong. "Where the Money Is" is breezy suspenseful and as much a love story as anything else -- if you call mentoring a new life in crime a kind of love. The mission-improbable caper is no more or less entertaining than a "Rockford Files" rerun but the film's swerving joyride takes its real thrills from the great escape that Fiorentino's Bonnie Parker makes from a dead-end life in the married lane.
Newman still hasn't lost it and as Henry Manning he doesn't miss any nuances in the edgy balance between streetwise wariness and amiable rapport with his sultry new colleague. The steam-powered Fiorentino has forged her career by making danger look casual and this is her most alluring work since "The Last Seduction" added another zero to her salary. Her chemistry with Newman a flirty twist on the idea of honor among thieves is really what makes this movie worth seeing. Mulroney is serviceable as the dim but lovable hubby a supporting role that's more foil than fully etched character.
We can all thank director Marek Kanievska for deciding not to have the May-December duo end up in the sack and leaving them simply professional cohorts. The director's admirable sense of comic timing works all the better by not letting the laughs get in the way of his leads' exploration of their characters -- although there's no denying the limits of this frothy genre. Perhaps Kanievska's greatest feat here is allowing Newman to retain his dignity in close-up.