When Alien was released almost a quarter of a century ago moviegoers lapped it up to the tune of $78.9 million--enough to make it the second highest grossing film of that year. Renowned film critic Pauline Kael who wrote about the Alien phenomenon in The New Yorker noted: "It was more gripping than entertaining but a lot of people didn't mind. They thought it was terrific because at least they'd felt something; they'd been brutalized." Now in an era utterly saturated with the genre the film still assaults audiences on a level that has yet to be matched. The story in Alien: The Director's Cut remains the same: seven crewmembers of the commercial ship Nostromo are awakened from their cryo-sleep capsules halfway through their journey home to investigate an S.O.S. distress call from an alien vessel. Unbeknownst to crew the distress call is actually a warning. When three crewmembers leave to investigate the abandoned ship they unsuspectingly allow an alien life to board the Nostromo a galactic horror that begins to kill the crew one by one--leaving only one exceptionally tough woman.
Ellen Ripley (a very young Sigourney Weaver) who leads the fight for survival against the alien has to date returned for three sequels: James Cameron's 1986 Aliens which earned Weaver an Oscar nomination for Best Actress David Fincher's 1992 Alien3 and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's 1997 Alien Resurrection. For fans who have followed Ripley's evolution from a by-the-book crewmember to a hybrid half-alien half-human clone it's exciting to revisit the roots of her character and understand what fuels her revenge. The rest of the ensemble including Tom Skerritt as Captain Dallas Veronica Cartwright as Lambert Harry Dean Stanton as Brett John Hurt as Kane Ian Holm as Ash and Yaphet Kotto as Parker seems just as appropriately cast today as it probably did then and even 25 years later the crew of the Nostromo doesn't look like a '70s interpretation of futuristic space workers.
To revisit the set of Alien's Nostromo director Ridley Scott (Matchstick Men) and his team of archivists sifted through hundreds of boxes of film footage discovered in a London vault. From this material unseen in almost 25 years Scott selected new footage which then underwent digital restoration matching it to Alien's newly polished negative. The result is six minutes of additional footage which goes to show how little improving the original film needed. The most palpable addition is a scene in which Ripley stumbles upon "the nest " where she discovers that her crewmates have been cocooned by the alien. But the rest of Scott's additional footage is so subtle that even diehard Alien fans will have a difficult time pinpointing the new material which consists mainly of new shots of the slimy and metallic alien. The Director's Cut also features a brand-new six-track digital stereo mix which strengthens the film's slow but intense cadence with its pulsating beats. But remastered or not the film remains as gripping today as it was when it was first released in 1979.
The tragic opera tells the story of a disfigured musical genius (Gerald Butler) who haunts the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera waging a reign of terror over its occupants [cue the organ music]. Think The Elephant Man meets The Hunchback of Notre Dame--except this particular "monster" has some serious sex appeal. I mean honestly his only "disfigurement" is some scarring on one side of his face which he covers with a rather classy mask. No big whoop. But I digress. When he falls desperately in love with the lovely ingénue Christine (Emmy Rossum) who has lived in the opera house for most of her life the Phantom devotes himself to molding the young soprano into a star exerting a strange sense of control over her as he nurtures her extraordinary talents. But when Christine falls for the dashing Raoul (Patrick Wilson) all hell breaks loose as the Phantom's growing jealousies threatens to tear everyone apart [OK now it's really time to cue the organ music].
Fans will no doubt be happy their favorite musical has finally made it to the big screen but the musical's original stars Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman have been replaced in the movie version by hot young actors. This is a very wise decision considering the film's rather longwinded nature. In other words even though the Phantom performers keep singing and singing and then sing some more at least they are appealing to watch (and they did do all their own singing). Butler (Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life) is particularly effective as the Phantom all brooding mysterious and far more intriguing a suitor than pretty boy Raoul played blandly by Wilson (HBO's Angels in America). With her alabaster skin and long luscious locks Rossum (The Day After Tomorrow) also does a nice job as Christine. But she is unfortunately limited to only a few range of emotions--either all doe-eyed and somber over her Phantom doe-eyed and gushy over Raoul or just plain doe-eyed. As for the supporting players Minnie Driver nearly steals the show as the Italian soprano diva La Carlotta. As the only breath of fresh air in the musty opera house you definitely crave more of her.
It's taken about 15 years to bring Webber's smash hit to the big screen. Apparently after winning every known theater award for Phantom the legendary producer-composer approached director Joel Schumacher in 1988 to do the movie after being impressed by Schumacher's work on The Lost Boys. Hmmm The Lost Boys to Phantom of the Opera--I'm still trying to tie that one together. Anyway Webber had to postpone production for personal reasons and then Schumacher was busy doing such films as Tigerland and Phone Booth. Finally the time was ripe to make Phantom coming on the heels of the musical movie boom started by Moulin Rouge and Chicago. Schumacher certainly incorporates all the right elements from the young and talented cast to the opulent sets and magnificent costumes. The problem is the material: Phantom really isn't all that compelling of a story. Sure the stage production was and still is a theatrical event especially as the Phantom moves on catwalks all over the theater and the impressive chandelier comes crashing down on the stage. But for the film adaptation there needs to be something more than just grand posturing set pieces and operatic music. Maybe a little more dialogue? A sex scene? Anything?
There will be a strong French flavor at the Montreal World Film Festival this year, as the festival announced its lineup Tuesday. Many of the films in competition are French, including two well-known French actors' directorial debuts. Sophie Marceau (Braveheart) will be attending the festival in support of her film Parlez-Moi D'amour (Speak to Me of Love) as will Vincent Perez (Indochine) for his film Peau D'ange, starring Guillaume Depardieu. Two American films--Blue Car starring David Strathairn and Igby Goes Down starring Kieran Culkin, Susan Sarandon and Ryan Phillippe--will also screen in competition. French producer/director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) will receive a lifetime achievement award. The festival runs from Aug. 22-Sept. 2.
Actor Nicolas Cage is planning to sell his comic book collection at the Dallas ComiCon convention Oct. 11-13, The Associated Press reports. The collection of about 400 comic books includes Action Comics No. 1, Superman's first appearance, as well as first appearances by Batman, Captain America and the Green Lantern. John Petty, the director of auctions for Heritage Comics Auctions, said the collection could "realize a value well into seven figures."
Three weeks after Arnold Schwarzenegger left the William Morris Agency he has signed a deal with rival Creative Artists Agency, Variety reports. Even though his career is fading a little with bombs like Collateral Damage, Schwarzenegger hopes to come back big in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, currently in production.
Family members of Pauline Phillips, otherwise known as Dear Abby, revealed Tuesday that the advice columnist has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Her twin sister, Esther Lederer, who wrote as Ann Landers for the Chicago Sun-Times, died in June. Phillips' daughter Jeanne had been writing the column, which appears in roughly 1,300 newspapers, for a few years and now takes sole credit.
Director John McTiernan is looking to get a Booster shot. Variety reports he is in talks to direct The Booster, a film about two legendary thieves who reunite during a winter storm to rob the 91st floor of Chicago's Sears Tower--from the outside. Sounds like fun.
Before she leaves Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sarah Michelle Gellar wants to kill off her alter ego in style. The actress told the London Evening Standard, "It's important for me to go out on top." Her contract expires at the end of the next season, and producer Joss Whedon has stated he thinks the show is strong enough to go on without her.
Three members of the British band Oasis--Noel Gallagher, Andy Bell and Jay Darlington--were in a car accident in Indianapolis and are recovering from minor injuries, including facial bruises. The accident occurred Tuesday when the taxi they were traveling in was involved in a head-on collision. The band was to perform in the city Wednesday, but the concert has been postponed.
Rock legend Jimi Hendrix has been voted the greatest guitarist of all time in a poll by Total Guitar, a leading European guitar magazine. Jimmy Page of the band Led Zeppelin came in second place, with Eric Clapton claiming the third spot.
September 04, 2001 11:16am EST
As Moulin Rouge premiered in London on Monday, attention seemed to be on the film's star, Nicole Kidman. According to Reuters, Kidman told reporters that she is considering a return to the British stage and has talked to director Sam Mendes about the possibility. She said the play would probably be at the Donmar Warehouse, the same theater where she made her London debut in The Blue Room.
Prince Charles, who attended the premiere, took time to chat with Kidman and said he was interested to see what the sequined cancan dancers had to do. The dancers were there as part of the glitzy British premiere.
Kidman also turned heads last week when she appeared at the Venice Film Festival with Italian film producer Fabrizio Mosca. This is the first time Kidman has dated publicly since her divorce from Tom Cruise was finalized Aug. 8. The two were also spotted holding hands at the Cannes festival in May.
New Yorker magazine film critic Pauline Kael died on Monday at her home in Massachusetts after a long battle with Parkinson's disease, Reuters reports. Kael, 82, grew up in San Francisco and began writing about film in 1955, supplying detailed notes on the movies she programmed while running the Berkley Cinema Guild and Studio. She began writing for the New Yorker in the mid-1960s. She retired in 1991 after her Parkinson's disease worsened. She told Modern Maturity magazine that she felt she had nothing new to say. "Old critics tend to be tiresome," she said. "I didn't want to be one of those old farts."
Christina Aguilera and Jimmy Smits will co-host the 2nd Annual Latin Grammy Awards to be broadcast on Sept. 11 from the Forum in Los Angeles on CBS. Michael Greene, President/CEO of the Recording Academy and the Latin Recording Academy also announced that Marc Anthony will performing as well as and Destiny's Child.
A free concert in Hollywood featuring alt-rock band System of A Down went awry Monday night after fans went on a rampage. The trouble began after many more concertgoers than were expected turned up for the show to be held outside the club Vinyl. When it appeared that the band was not going to perform after all, the fans rioted. According to Reuters, the audience trashed the stage set up in the venue's parking lot and threw rocks and bottles at police who used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. Six people were arrested and charged with various offenses, including assault with a deadly weapon, felony vandalism and receiving stolen property. The group was promoting their new album Toxicity, which is due in stores on Tuesday.
Courtney Love and Don Henley will attend a hearing in Los Angeles on Wednesday to denounce California's 1987 amendment that allows music labels to sue artists for undelivered albums after seven years. Opponents of the amendment claim artists are often strong-armed into accepting impossible terms when signing record contracts.
Jerry Lewis' 36th annual Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon raised a record $56.8 million this Labor Day weekend, the Associated Press reports. The show featured a variety of celebrity co-hosts including Ed McMahon, Norm Crosby and Casey Kasem.
The American Film Institute will announce on Tuesday plans to hold its own awards show in January on CBS, according to AP. Scheduled for Jan. 5, the event will occur two weeks before the Golden Globes and two months before the Academy Awards. The AFI will also honor TV's best drama and comedy series, as well as name the top 10 movies of the year.
Billboard announced last week the winners of its first R&B/Hip-Hop Awards, AP reports. Misiq Soulchild led the winners with four awards, while R. Kelly took home three. Other winners include Shaggy, Jill Scott and OutKast.
Steven Spielberg will not be attending the Venice Film Festival this year because of religious commitments, Reuters reports. Spielberg has instead sent a seven-minute video to festival organizers to be shown before the screening of his film A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. Spielberg said his son's Bar Mitzvah, as well putting finishing touches on his latest film Minority Report, have kept him from attending the festival. A.I. will screen in Venice on Sept. 6.
Grand Royal, the Beastie Boys' record label, is closing its doors after eight years. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the label blamed mounting debts, decreasing assets and exceedingly harsh industry conditions for the closure. The Beastie Boys founded Grand Royal in 1993 and were the first top-selling artists to form an independent record label.
ABC is planning a follow-up to the 1978 hit movie Grease, which starred John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, BBC News reports. The film would drop in on the characters 20 years after the first Grease, which was set at mythical Rydell High School in the 1950s. Didi Conn, who played high school dropout Frenchy, will be producing the film. Conn said that viewers would learn about the original characters through their children.