The Tourist is about as difficult to get through as spotting the vowels in the name of its director. Florian Henckel von Donnersmark was last seen receiving a Best Foreign Film Oscar in 2007 for The Lives of Others which was about a couple living in East Berlin who were being monitored by the police of the German Democratic Republic. Its positive reception made way for the assumption that Donnersmark would continue to populate the USA with films of seemingly otherworldly and underrepresented themes. But his current project is saddening in its superficiality and total implausibility.
The film’s only real upside is its stars: two of our most prized Americans. Johnny Depp plays Frank Tupelo a math teacher from Wisconsin who travels to Europe after his wife leaves him presumably because of his weakness and simplicity. While en route to Venice he meets Elise Clifton-Ward (Angelina Jolie) who situates herself in his company after she receives a letter from her criminal lover Alexander Pearce (who stole some billions from a very wealthy Russian and the British government) with instructions to find someone on a train who looks like him and make the police believe that he is the real Alexander Pearce to throw the authorities and the Russians off his track. Elise picks Frank and after they are photographed kissing each other on the balcony of Elise’s hotel everyone begins to believe Frank is the real Pearce and so begins the chase.
While Donnersmark could not have picked two better looking people to film roaming around Venice his lack of faith in the audience is obvious. Every aspect of the characters is hammed up again and again as if Donnersmark felt burdened with the task of making us see his vision. Doubtful that we’re capable of getting to where he wants us he has crafted a movie completely devoid of subtlety. Elise’s strength and superiority over Frank are portrayed by close-ups and repeated instances of men burping up their lungs upon seeing her (as if her beauty is in any way subjective?). And in case we forgot that Frank is the victim in this story -- even though he’s been tricked chased and shot at - Donnersmark still felt the need to pin him with a lame electronic cigarette to puff on. Frank and Elise somehow manage to lack mystery even though we get very few factual details about each of them.
Nothing extraordinary comes to us in the way of the film’s structural elements either. There is very little of the action that The Tourist’s marketing led us to believe and the dialog is often painful. The plot itself is almost shockingly unbelievable especially when we’re asked to believe that Elise falls in love with Frank after a combination of kissing him once and her disclosed habit of swooning over men she only spent an hour with (yes that was on her CV).
The Tourist is rather empty and cosmetic. It’s worth seeing if you’re a superfan of Jolie or Depp but don’t expect to walk out of the theater with anything more than the stub you came in with.
The Twilight hunk was voted Best Actor and Best Dressed at the bash at London's Hammersmith Apollo.
British rapper Plan B won the Best Album honour for his hit The Defamation of Strickland Banks, while folk rockers Biffy Clyro's Bubbles was named Best Song.
TV series The Inbetweeners was the winner of the Best Show award at the ceremony, which was attended by Katy Perry, Tinchy Stryder, Pixie Lott and The Wanted.
Hollywood Foreign Press Association officials have recruited Kevin Spacey to introduce De Niro at the Beverly Hills ceremony.
Thrilled Spacey says, "He's unafraid to transform himself inside and out for a role. Some of cinema's most unforgettable moments have been created by him."
The 68th annual Golden Globe Awards will take place on 16 January (11).
In his new film Due Date director Todd Phillips (Old School The Hangover) stages a rather audacious cinematic experiment placing two enormously talented actors Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis on a mostly deserted island handing them an assortment of blunt and broken tools and charging them with constructing a free-standing fully-functioning Hollywood comedy.
To his credit Phillips was at least considerate enough to supply his comic Crusoes with a detailed blueprint. An odd-couple/road trip movie hybrid Due Date unapologetically mimics Planes Trains and Automobiles one of the John Hughes' rare “grown-up” comedies in which Steve Martin starred as a straightlaced family man forced to travel cross-country with a gratingly affable slob played by John Candy in order to make it home for Thanksgiving. (Surely there have been other such films before and since but Hughes’ work is the one Due Date most vividly recalls.)
The film’s script co-written by Phillips and Adam Sztykiel adds a handful of 21st-century twists to the formula: A baggage snafu while boarding an airplane leads Peter Highman (Downey) a type-A architect with a history of anger-management issues into a confrontation with a Federal Air Marshal that subsequently lands him on Homeland Security’s no-fly list. Stranded without reliable transport lacking the means by which to procure any (he left his wallet on the plane) and desperate to be reunited in L.A. with his pregnant wife (Michelle Monaghan) in time for her scheduled c-section he reluctantly agrees to hitch a ride with the same tubby schmuck Ethan (Galifianakis) who moments earlier was the catalyst of his security debacle.
The unlikely travel companions embark on a calamitous road trip from Atlanta to L.A. during which Ethan proves to be something of a disaster magnet with Peter bearing the brunt of the damage that occurs. Their navigator Phillips lazily guides them through an uneven obstacle course of comic scenarios some of which are embarrassingly predictable (Ethan stores his beloved father’s ashes in a coffee can and they’re later accidentally used to make coffee!) all of which are designed to showcase Downey’s caustic wit and Galifianakis’ sublime daffiness.
Few actors today deliver choice insults better than Downey and even fewer absorb them better than Galifianakis. They make for a truly marvelous collision of opposites and their interplay is what elevates Due Date above its often puzzlingly flat material. (That along with Galifianakis’ gift for physical comedy; no actor outside of the Jackass crew can better sell a collision with a car door.) The film's supporting cast meanwhile criminally underachieves. Conspicuous cameos from the likes of Danny McBride Juliette Lewis and Jamie Foxx are either unfunny unnecessary or both. On this road trip they’re little more than baggage. Thankfully Downey and Galifianakis are more than capable of shouldering the burden.
Salt the propulsive new thriller from Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger Patriot Games) has been dubbed “Bourne with boobs ” but that label isn’t entirely accurate. In the role of Evelyn Salt a CIA staffer hunted by her own agency after a Russian defector fingers her in a plot to murder Russia’s president Angelina Jolie keeps her two most potent weapons holstered hidden under pantsuits and trenchcoats and the various other components of a super-spy wardrobe that proudly emphasizes function over flash.
But flash is one thing Salt never lacks for. Its breathless cat-and-mouse game hits full-throttle almost from the outset when a former KGB officer named Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) stumbles into a CIA interrogation room and begins spilling details of a vast conspiracy. Back in the ‘70s hardline elements of the Soviet regime launched an ambitious new front in the Cold War flooding the western world with orphans trained to infiltrate the security complexes of their adopted homelands and wait patiently — decades if necessary — for the order to initiate a series of assassinations intended to trigger a devastating nuclear clash between the superpowers from which the treacherous Reds would emerge triumphant.
The Soviet Union may have long ago collapsed (or did it? Hmmm...) but its army of brainwashed killer orphan spies remains in place and if this crazy Orlov fellow is to be believed they stand poised to reignite the Cold War. It’s a preposterous — even idiotic — scheme but no more so than any of our government’s various harebrained proposals to kill Castro back in the ‘60s. As such the CIA treats it with grave seriousness even the part that that pegs Salt who just happens to be a Russian-born orphan herself as a key player in the conspiracy.
Salt bristles at the accusation but suspecting a set-up she opts to flee rather than face interrogation from her bosses Winter (Liev Schreiber) and Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor). A former field agent she’s been confined to a desk job since a clandestine operation in North Korea went south leaving her with a nasty shiner and a rather unremarkable German boyfriend (now her unremarkable German husband). She’s clearly kept up her training during while cubicle-bound however and in a blaze of resourceful thinking and devastating Parkour Fu she fends off a dozen or so agents of questionable competence and takes to the streets where she sets about to clear her name and unravel the Commie orphan conspiracy before the authorities can catch up with her. That is if she isn’t a part of the conspiracy.
The premise which aims to resurrect Cold War tensions and graft them onto a modern-day spy thriller is absurdly clever — and cleverly absurd. But Kurt Wimmer’s screenplay isn’t satisfied with the merely clever and absurd — it must be mind-blowing. Salt is one of those thrillers that ladles out its backstory slowly and in tiny portions every once in a while dropping a revelatory bombshell that effectively blows the lid off everything that happened beforehand. No one is who they seem and every action every gesture no matter how seemingly trivial is imbued with some kind of grand significance. The effect of piling on one insane twist after another has the effect of gradually diluting the narrative. When anything is possible nothing really matters.
But spy thrillers by definition trade in the preposterous and the principal function of the summer blockbuster is to entertain. In that regard Salt more than fulfills its charge. Noyce wisely keeps the story moving at pace that allows little time for asking uncomfortable questions or poking holes in the film’s frail plot. And he has an able partner in the infinitely versatile Jolie who having already exhibited formidable action-hero chops in Wanted and the Tomb Raider films proves remarkably adept at the spy game as well.
It’s well-known that Jolie wasn’t the first choice to star in Salt joining the project only after Tom Cruise dropped out citing the story’s growing similarities to the Mission: Impossible films. But she’s more than just a capable replacement; she’s a welcome upgrade over Cruise not least because she’s over a decade younger (and a few inches taller) than her predecessor. Should Brad Bird require a pinch-hitter for Ethan Hunt he knows where to look.
Radnitz passed away at his Malibu, California home on Sunday (13Jun10), due to complications of a stroke he suffered 14 years ago.
He produced over a dozen films during his career, often inspired by children's literature. His credits include family films Sounder, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Misty and A Dog of Flanders.
Radnitz is survived by his wife of 23 years, Pearl.
Source: USA Today
Director Lee Daniels revealed in a USA Today article that Hugh Jackman will star in his Civil Rights movie Selma, which he hopes to start shooting in May.
Daniels said, "I had to do a lot of homework on the script, and I spent a lot of time writing. I feel like I'm caught up a little bit with that. I have to really start casting the movie because we're shooting it soon. The only person I've nailed in for sure is Hugh Jackman. It's all over the place."
It was previously reported that Robert De Niro was going to play Alabama Governor George Wallace, but that might not be the case now that Daniels says only Jackman is confirmed.
Selma, Alabama was the place where segregation in the South was at its worst, leading to a march that ended in violence, forcing a famous statement by President Lyndon B. Johnson that ultimately led to the signing of the Civil Rights Act.
Clooney's Not on Our Watch charity has already handed over $1 million to the relief effort and now Clooney will hand over his own cash, according to reports.
Leonardo DiCaprio will also donate $1 million, according to Us Magazine.
The two generous stars join Sandra Bullock, Gisele Bundchen, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie among the stars who have given at least $1 million to charities aiding the survivors of the Haiti earthquake.
Meanwhile, Clooney admits he has been "up three days straight" organising the telethon, which will air around the world on Friday and Saturday (22&23Jan10). Brad Pitt and Robert Pattinson are among the participants, while Beyonce and Madonna have been added to the list of performers.
The author was found dead at his home in Boston, Massachusetts by his wife Joan on Monday (18Jan10). The cause of death is currently unknown.
Best known for his Spenser series of detective novels, Parker penned more than 50 books. His last, The Professional, was published last year (09).
His tough-guy Spenser character was brought to life for the small screen in 1980s U.S. TV series, Spenser: For Hire, which starred Robert Urich as the title character. The show ran for three years.
Parker won two Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America and a Grand Master Edgar in 2002 for lifetime achievement. More than four million copies of his books have sold globally.
Crazy Heart won for Best Song and Best Actor/Drama (Jeff Bridges), while moviemaker James Cameron was named Best Director for Avatar, which also took home the Best Motion Picture/Drama honour.
It was a big day for the sci-fi blockbuster which became the first film of the new century to claim five weeks at number one at the U.S. box office earlier in the day.
It also passed Star Wars to become the third biggest-grossing movie in America. The film has already become the second most successful film globally - behind Cameron's Titanic.
The Hangover claimed the night's other top movie award for Comedy or Musical and Robert Downey Jr. was a surprise Best Actor/Comedy or Musical winner for his turn as super-sleuth Sherlock Holmes.
Best Actress awards went to Sandra Bullock and Meryl Streep, who shared the honour and a kiss at the Critics Choice Movie Awards on Friday night (15Jan10).
Other double winners were Up, which claimed the Best Animated Feature Film and Best Score, TV drama Dexter, which picked up acting honours for John Lithgow and Michael C. Hall and TV movie Grey Gardens.
The evening was bittersweet for many celebrities, who had the earthquake disaster in Haiti on their minds.
Maggie Gyllenhaal urged everyone to give generously to charity causes, while stars paid tribute to George Clooney, who is organising a celebrity telethon on Friday night (22Jan10), on the red carpet and the stage.
And it was a big night to honour spouses with winners Sandra Bullock, Mo'Nique, Robert Downey Jr., Michael C. Hall and James Cameron fighting back tears as they honoured husbands and wives.
The full list of winners is:
Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture - Mo'Nique (Precious)
Best Actress in a TV Series/Comedy or Musical - Toni Collette (United States of Tara)
Best Supporting Actor in a TV Series, Miniseries or TV Movie - John Lithgow (Dexter)
Best Animated Feature Film - Up
Best Actor in a TV Series/Drama - Michael C. Hall (Dexter)
Best Actress in a TV Series/Drama - Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife)
Best Original Song/Motion Picture - The Weary Kind by Ryan Bingham & T Bone Burnett (Crazy Heart)
Best Original Score/Motion Picture - Michael Giacchino (Up)
Best Mini-Series or TV Movie - Grey Gardens
Best Actress in a Motion Picture/Comedy or Musical - Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia)
Best Actor in a Mini-Series or TV Movie - Kevin Bacon (Taking Chance)
Best Actress in a Mini-Series or TV Movie - Drew Barrymore (Grey Gardens)
Best Screenplay/Motion Picture - Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner (Up In The Air)
Best Actor in a TV Series/Comedy or Musical - Alec Baldwin (30 Rock)
Best Foreign Language Film - The White Ribbon
Best TV Series/Drama - Mad Men
Best Supporting Actress in a TV Series, Miniseries or TV Movie - Chloe Sevigny (Big Love)
Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture - Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)
Best Director - James Cameron (Avatar)
Best TV Series/Comedy or Musical - Glee
Best Motion Picture/Comedy or Musical - The Hangover
Best Actress in a Motion Picture/Drama - Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)
Best Actor in a Motion Picture/Comedy or Musical - Robert Downey Jr. (Sherlock Holmes)
Best Actor in a Motion Picture/Drama - Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
Best Motion Picture/Drama - Avatar
Cecil B. DeMille Award - Martin Scorsese