Jodie Foster may be passing on "Hannibal," the grisly sequel to "The Silence of the Lambs," but she isn't quite abandoning oddball projects.
Come this spring, she'll be producing and directing "Flora Plum," a period film about a young waif (Claire Danes) who is adopted by a circus and befriended by a freak who falls for her while running her newfound showbiz career.
The movie is a return to the "freak" territory Foster roamed in so many of her films prior to this winter's regal "Anna and the King." Foster's pre-"Anna" "freaky" string of troubled characters and assorted weirdos dates back as far as 1972 and "Kansas City Bomber" (in which she played the daughter of a female roller-derby star).
The freaky Foster roster also includes: "Taxi Driver" (she's a kid hooker in a creepy nocturnal New York); "Nell" (she's a wolf-girl); "Carny" (she's working in another circus backdrop); the creepy "Little Girl Who Lives Down the Road;" the bizarre "The Hotel New Hampshire;" "Five Corners" (about some violent Bronx creeps); "Little Man Tate" (in which Foster raises a kid genius); and "Shadows and Fog" (she's a prostitute -- again). Even in the more-conventional "Contact," Foster's out there -- as an astronomer who connects with distant voices.
Of course, serious-minded actors and filmmakers such as Foster look for the unusual in the characters and stories they attach themselves to. But Foster may have another reason for leaving "Hannibal" and its grotesqueries behind. She's a new mom, and motherhood demands kinder, gentler, kid-friendly projects.
Foster's also doing a little bit of Ivy League networking with "Flora Plum" -- she's a Yale grad; Danes is a Yale student.
TAKE IT TO THE IMAX: Disney has just released "Fantasia 2000" on big IMAX screens around the world in 16 countries. We already know the screens can be as tall as eight stories -- so tall, in fact, that the whales that appear in "Fantasia"'s "Pines of Rome" segment appear actual size. But there are other "big" facts that fill IMAX's "tall" tale.
For instance: The total weight of just one "Fantasia 2000" IMAX print is more than 350 pounds. And the total length of this print could cover five miles. (And let's not forget that the IMAX film frame is a huge 15mm x 70mm).
More tidbits: The IMAX film is strong enough to pull a truck; the lamp of an IMAX projector burns as hot as the surface of the sun; and, oh yeah, "Fantasia 2000" is so good, we're hoping its box-office receipts live up to its "big" reputation.
NOT QUITE MODEL BEHAVIOR: Hollywood film and music mogul Ted Field ("Terminal Velocity," "Jumanji," "Runaway Bride,") of Interscope Communications brought his annual New Year's Eve bash east this past holiday, throwing a lavish party at New York's legendary disco haunt Studio 54.
Disco legend and occasional screen presence Grace Jones was hired to entertain the troops. (She reportedly was paid $30,000 for a half-hour's work, which included baring her chest for the revelers.) Those who attended said that the crowd was very young and stocked with models, several of whom did what so many of us do New Year's Eve -- drink and eat way too much.
More than a few of these unfortunates escaped upstairs to Studio's famous dark bleacher balconies to recover as only one can when too much food and drink must be unleashed. (We're praying for an impeccable clean-up since Studio is normally home to the Broadway smash "Cabaret.")
On a happier note, Harvey Keitel, Matt Dillon, "American Beauty" temptress Mena Suvari and singing sensation Enrique Iglesias held their food and liquor nicely, enabling them to party into the wee hours.
BUZZ CUTS ...
A Person Who Doesn't Need People: Barbra Streisand was the talk in Vegas over the weekend, most specifically in some corners of the New Year's Eve party at Las Vegas' Studio 54. The Vegas version of the celebrated club is located at the MGM Grand Hotel where Streisand performed two New Year's Eve shows.
The whispers concerned the comings and goings of Ms. Streisand earlier that day. Seems that while traveling down the private hallways in the inner sanctum of the Grand in her golf cart, Streisand's handlers ordered all others in the passageways to turn and face the walls so they wouldn't see her. One celeb who actually knows Babs was appalled but followed orders like everyone else. ...
Hot Tip: Attention indie film scouts everywhere: There's a feature that has fallen under the radar that will be making a premiere soon at a big upcoming film fest and Those Who Have Seen say its terrif. Titled "East of A" and shot in L.A. in spite of its N.Y. locale, the drama follows three people who share an East Village loft in the 1980s and '90s. Look for action on this one. ...
The French Are En-"titled": The Julia Roberts/Richard Gere smash "Runaway Bride," now playing all over France, has been retitled for the French in English, with "Just Married" replacing "Runaway Bride." A cinephile living in the heart of France explained that the reason for the English title has to do with the "chicness" surrounding English words in France. And "Just Married" is a little easier to understand than "Runaway Bride." ...
Cable Vindaloo Won't Do: The people of India may like their food red hot vindaloo-style, but they won't get their movies very spicy. The folks at HBO, who will be launching their pay-cable service in India in a few months, have found themselves saddled with an unexpected chore: having to sit through just about every film they'll be offering on their service.
The problem is that all hot spots must be removed. No-no's in India include the F-word, nudity and the "Pink Flamingos" brand of scatological naughtiness. (And, yes, that John Waters camp classic is in the HBO-India package. Just not in its "classic" form.)
It's 1945 and Grace's husband Charles (Christopher Eccleston) went off to fight in World War II and never came back. She is therefore left alone to raise her two children Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley) in a cavernous Victorian mansion engulfed in gloom and fog on the Isle of Jersey. Following the German Occupation the family learned to live without electricity which worked to their advantage since the youngsters suffer a rare allergy to light and cannot be exposed to any light brighter than a candle. The three new servants Mrs. Mills (Fionnula Flanagan) Mr. Tuttle (Eric Sykes) and Lydia (Elaine Cassidy) are carefully briefed by Grace about the importance of closing and locking every door in the house. The light she explains must be locked out like water from room to room. The religiously repressed Grace is also prone to migraine attacks and insists the house must be kept in absolute silence at all times. When Anne begins to complain that she see ghosts in the house Grace tells the servants "My children sometimes have strange ideas but you mustn't listen to them. Children will be children." Eventually however she begins to believe that perhaps there are others living amongst them in the house.
Kidman plays the part of Grace with the perfect amount of fear and intensity that her character needs to make the film both chilling and suspenseful. Though Grace tries to put on a strong face for her children you can always sense her underlying concern and anxiety. Her hands constantly fidget and her eyes always follow the creaking ceilings or the mysteriously opening doors. Kidman does a magnificent job making sure her character never looks at peace with herself and is constantly perturbed. Even when Grace is sitting with her needlepoint and sipping tea she looks fearful and agitated. Mann and Bentley who play the two children also deliver intense performances. They are not smart alecks but they are clever. When Anne tells her confused and bewildered mother "Are you mad? I am your daughter!" it will leave your hair standing on the back of your neck. The three servants are eerie especially Cassidy's character Lydia who is mute. Always wide-eyed she looks genuinely shocked and perpetually scared. The cast's ability to portray terror and panic authentically is what makes this film successfully creepy and terrifying.
The story opens with Grace reading a lesson by candlelight to her children and the film never gets much brighter than that. Because the mansion has no electricity and the curtains are always drawn the lighting is always somber and dusky adding to the film's cold and gloomy feel. The outdoor scenes are bathed in a thick icy fog that can be seen in the rooms where light is allowed to seep in. The costumes and hairstyles combined with the lighting and settings give this film a 1950s feel. Director Alejandro Amenábar delivers a bone-chilling horror picture with a suspenseful story that builds slowly but keeps your interest and never lets go. The Others is that rare film which scares without blood and gore relying instead on intelligent story telling and never ending tension. The plot has enough diversions to keep you guessing its premise until the very end when viewers will be rewarded with a clever twist.
A tour van carrying J Mascis and his band The Fog was involved in a crash, leaving Mascis with two broken vertebrae in his back, according to Rolling Stone. Headed to an appearance in Germany on Monday, the van skid off the highway after being cut off by another vehicle. Mascis, formerly of Dinosaur Jr., was the only person in the van seriously injured and will return Wednesday to the United States. Mascis and The Fog were in the last week of a month-long European tour when the accident occurred. The rest of the tour dates have been cancelled. The final date of the tour was to be the Hurricane Festival in Scheessel, Germany, performing alongside Everclear, Weezer and Iggy Pop.
Johnny Depp, to British newspaper The Independent while promoting Blow, on how fatherhood gave his life meaning:
"I went through 35 years of a strange dark fog. I never really quite understood what the point of anything was, you know, in life. It wasn't until Vanessa [Paradis] and then the birth of our daughter that I finally realized that there is something to live for. I didn't have the greatest childhood, but you know, so what, plenty of people have been through more difficult and devastating things and you just have to get through that. That whole thing of wanting to do drugs and wanting to numb yourself, you know, it's just postponing the inevitable."
Madonna and Guy Ritchie have finally tied the knot.
Avoiding the hundreds-strong media pack, the couple took their solemn vows and exchanged rings in front of family and friends on Friday night, the Rev. Susan Brown, who presided over the ceremony, confirmed today.
It is believed that the couple wed at 6:30 p.m. London time.
Many guests arrived at Skibo Castle in Dornoch, Scotland, after dark, covering their faces. Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Bryan Adams and Elton John were reportedly invited to join the celebration, but some reports said that Pitt and John were unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts.
The marriage of the Queen of Pop and the British director has been reported on daily up to the actual nuptials, but strategic planning has ensured that Madonna would keep her big day private.
Security surrounding the castle was so tight that it was virtually impenetrable. Bodyguards protecting the wedding party brought in heat-seeking equipment to hunt down intruders on the grounds of the Highlands castle.
Two uninvited guests caught hiding in nearby 13th century Dornoch Cathedral, where the couple's 4-month-old son Rocco was christened Thursday night, have been arrested and released with court dates in their future. The unnamed men, one of whom reportedly hid in an organ, were not members of the news media, local police said.
Madonna ordered private security for her wedding day rather than turn over the arrangements to local police. The Rev. Brown, who conducted Friday's service in Skibo Castle, also presided over the baptism of Rocco on Thursday.
Former Police frontman Sting, who donned a kilt, and wife Trudie Styler were among the first guests to arrive for the wedding. They are guests of honor after introducing the couple at a dinner party two years ago. Sweeping into the driveway of the 76,000-acre estate in a navy blue Mercedes, Sting and Styler waved to the crowds of well wishers and media.
Designer Stella McCartney, the daughter of former Beatle Paul McCartney, was also an early guest. She has been secretly working on a wedding dress believed to be a stunning gothic design. The bride chose a sparkling $72,000 French diamond bracelet to complement the wedding gown, according to London jeweler Susy Lauder.
Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow was reportedly maid of honor at the ceremony. Other guests said to be in the Highlands today included Chris Ciccone, Madonna's brother; sister Melanie and father Silvio; Madonna's close girlfriend, fashion designer Ingrid Casares; rock star Jon Bon Jovi; fashion scion Donatella Versace; actor Rupert Everett; and Ritchie's family.
Carlos Leon, the father of Madonna's 4-year-old daughter Lourdes, was also on the guest list.
Other reported wedding details included:
The menu for the wedding breakfast included haggis, a spicy Scottish meat dish.
A Caillie band was booked for traditional Scottish dancing and music in the great hall of the stone castle.
Instead of jetting off to warmer climates for a honeymoon, the couple plans to stay in their suite at the castle.
The cake, prepared by a French baker, was flown to Scotland to a nearby Royal Air Force base after flights into the passenger airport were diverted due to fog.
Godzilla rises from the deep and fights the Japanese military. Then another more terrifying enemy appears so Japan decides to leave Godzilla alone so he can defeat the bad guys. It's a formula that has remained unchanged for 46 years and 22 movies. Why mess with success? The Japanese Godzilla looks like a man in a rubber suit walking through a model city but hey he's King of the Monsters because he delivers the goods -- unlike that unspeakable digitized American 'Zilla from 1998.
Be honest. When it comes to Godzilla movies you don't care how good (or bad) the Japanese actors are. What matters is the dubbing and in this case it's actually not all bad. TriStar Pictures hired mostly Asian actors for that "authentic" sound. The English dialogue ranges from somewhat witty (there are references to "Patton" and the old "Superman" TV show) to the naively stupid (like when a scientist exclaims: "Let's use the electron microscope!"). The lips don't match the words (as usual) so if you still think that's funny you'll laugh.
What matters here is the special-effects wizardry. The effects aren't up to "Phantom Menace" standards (remember this is a $10 million movie) but they're better than in the Godzilla flicks you remember from childhood. The Godzilla costume is better than ever: never before has the monster looked so truly huge and his incendiary death ray is more impressive and destructive. There are lots of good miniature cities too. Still the alien spaceship and the extraterrestrial monster it begets (a clumsy big-fisted thing that tries to eat Godzilla) are less than stunning.
When the radar fails and the luxury liner Queen of the Seas rams into and destroys two submarines, its skipper, Jack Drummond, is demoted and assigned to captain the SS Sangina, a 40-year-old freighter. Drummond's attempts to redeem himself with the maritime board and once again command the fabled luxury liner was to be the focal point of the series.
In the pilot episode, Drummond attempts to impress his employers, Retango Lines, by making a record-breaking voyage from Hong Kong to San Pedro to seek medical help for an Oriental stowaway who gave birth on board his ship.