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12 items from 2005


Romance & Cigarettes

7 September 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

VENICE, Italy -- The Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney spirit is alive and well in John Turturro's "Romance & Cigarettes," with some top stars -- including James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon and Kate Winslet -- gamely putting on a show, but the sad result is a karaoke nightmare.

Loud and pointlessly crude, the film takes the disintegration of a dysfunctional working-class family and gives it the song-and-dance treatment. It's not pleasant to contemplate the kind of audience that would respond to this, but it's likely to be small and made up of people who fantasize about seeing Tony Soprano belt out "A Man Without Love" along with Engelbert Humperdinck.

Over the top from the start, the film follows Nick Murder (Gandolfini), a builder with no evident mob associations, as he grapples with his noisy wife, Kitty (Sarandon), and dabbles with his redheaded mistress named Tula (Winslet).

Garbagemen, telephone workers and firefighters burst into song at a moment's notice, dancing in the streets, usually to something by Tom Jones or James Brown, as Kitty finds out about Tula and ropes in weird Cousin Bo (Christopher Walken) to hunt her down.

There's a second generation of Murders -- Mary-Louise Parker, Aida Turturro and Mandy Moore -- who torment their father and play in a raucous rock band in the back yard. Moore also has a syncopated passion for a flamboyant neighborhood boy who calls himself Fryburg (Bobby Cannavale).

While Kitty finds solace screaming out "Piece of My Heart" with Janis Joplin and a church choir led by an organist named Gene Vincent (Eddie Izzard, who is wasted), Nick decides to get a circumcision, the better, he believes, to delight women.

The performers all appear to be very pleased with themselves for letting their knickers down, kicking up their heels and being such good sports. Gandolfini acts like Tony Soprano, Sarandon is in full "men are swine" mode and Winslet talks dirty and inexplicably with an accent from England's far north. Ricky Gervais talked Winslet into using gutter language amusingly for his new BBC/HBO television series "Extras", but it appears she's gotten into the habit.

Walken makes an amusing entrance to Elvis Presley's "Trouble" but has little to do after that. Steve Buscemi, as always, fills whatever screen space he occupies with his unique and flawless technique, and Elaine Stritch expertly delivers a bitter but amusing reflection on the men in her life.

They are the only redeeming elements of a picture that strains too hard and bursts of its own self-regard. Turturro, a fine actor, says he dreamed up "Romance & Cigarettes" while making "Barton Fink". It looks more like something that might have been made by Jesus Quintana, the wild man of the bowling alley he played in "The Big Lebowski".

ROMANCE & CIGARETTES

United Artists and Joel & Ethan Coen present in association with Icon Entertainment International a Greenestreet Films production

Credits:

Director-screenwriter: John Turturro

Producers: John Penotti, John Turturro

Executive producers: Jana Edelbaum, Matthew Rowland, Nick Hill, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Director of photography: Tom Stern

Production designer: Donna Zakowska

Editor: Ray Hubley

Cast:

Nick Murder: James Gandolfini

Kitty: Susan Sarandon

Tula: Kate Winslet

Angelo: Steve Buscemi

Fryburg: Bobby Cannavale

Baby: Mandy Moore

Constance: Mary-Louise Parker

Rosebud: Aida Turturro

Cousin Bo: Christopher Walken

Gracie: Barbara Sukowa

Nick's mother: Elaine Stritch

Gene Vincent: Eddie Izzard

MPAA rating R

Running time -- 105 minutes »

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Romance & Cigarettes

6 September 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

VENICE -- The Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney spirit is alive and well in John Turturro's Romance & Cigarettes with some top stars including James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, and Kate Winslet gamely putting on a show, but the sad result is a karaoke nightmare.

Loud and pointlessly crude, the film takes the disintegration of a dysfunctional working class family and gives it the song-and-dance treatment. It's not pleasant to contemplate the kind of audience that would respond to this, but it's likely to be small and made up of people who fantasize about seeing Tony Soprano belt out A Man Without Love along with Engelbert Humperdinck.

Over the top from the start, the film follows Nick Murder (Gandolfini), a builder although with no evident mob associations, as he grapples with his noisy wife Kitty (Sarandon) and dabbles with his redheaded mistress named Tula (Winslet).

Garbage men, telephone workers and firefighters burst into song at a moment's notice, dancing in the streets, usually to something by Tom Jones or James Brown, as Kitty finds out about Tula and ropes in weird Cousin Bo (Christopher Walken) to hunt her down.

There's a second generation of Murders, Mary-Louise Parker, Aida Turturro and Mandy Moore, who torment their father and play in a raucous rock band in the back yard. Moore also has a syncopated passion for a flamboyant neighborhood boy who calls himself Fryburg (Bobby Cannavale).

While Kitty finds solace screaming out Piece of My Heart with Janis Joplin and a church choir led by an organist named Gene Vincent (Eddie Izzard, who is wasted), Nick decides to get a circumcision, the better, he believes, to delight women.

The performers all appear to be very pleased with themselves for letting their knickers down, kicking up their heels and being such good sports. Gandolfini acts like Tony Soprano; Sarandon is in full "men are swine" mode; and Winslet talks dirty and inexplicably with an accent from England's far north. Ricky Gervais talked Winslet into using gutter language amusingly for his new BBC/HBO television series Extras, but it appears she's gotten into the habit.

Walken makes an amusing entrance to Elvis Presley's Trouble but has little to do after that. Buscemi, as always, fills whatever screen space he occupies with his unique and flawless technique, and Elaine Stritch expertly delivers a bitter but amusing reflection on the men in her life.

They are the only redeeming elements of a picture that strains too hard and bursts of its own self-regard. Turturro, a fine actor, says he dreamed up "Romance & Cigarettes" while making Barton Fink. It looks more like something that might have been made by Jesus Quintana, the wild man of the bowling alley he played in The Big Lubowski.

ROMANCE & CIGARETTES

United Artists and Joel & Ethan Cohen present, in association with Icon Entertainment International, a Greenestreet Films production.

Credits: Director and screenwriter: John Turturro

Producers: John Penotti, John Turturro

Executive producers: Jana Edelbaum, Matthew Rowland, Nick Hill, Joel Cohen, Ethan Cohen

Director of photography: Tom Stern

Production designer: Donna Zakowska

Editor: Ray Hubley

Cast:

Nick Murder: James Gandolfini

Kitty: Susan Sarandon

Tula: Kate Winslet

Angelo: Steve Buscemi

Fryburg: Bobby Cannavale

Baby: Mandy Moore

Constance: Mary-Louise Parker

Rosebud: Aida Turturro

Cousin Bo: Christopher Walken

Gracie: Barbara Sukowa

Nick's mother: Elaine Stritch

Gene Vincent: Eddie Izzard

No MPAA rating

Running time -- 105 mins »

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Toronto gets Cash advance from Mangold

14 July 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

TORONTO -- Walk the Line, James Mangold's biopic about Johnny Cash, starring Joaquin Phoenix as the country music legend and Reese Witherspoon as wife June Carter Cash, will receive its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, organizers confirmed Wednesday. The 20th Century Fox film, which will receive red carpet treatment at Roy Thomson Hall, portrays Cash early in his career as he rises to fame alongside Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis. Booking the Mangold picture follows Tuesday's announcement of gala Toronto screenings for the Keira Knightley starrer Pride and Prejudice, Curtis Hanson's In Her Shoes and John Madden's Proof, which stars Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins. The festival runs Sept. 8-15. »

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Toronto gets Cash advance from Mangold

13 July 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

TORONTO -- Walk the Line, James Mangold's biopic about Johnny Cash, starring Joaquin Phoenix as the country music legend and Reese Witherspoon as wife June Carter Cash, will receive its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, organizers confirmed Wednesday. The 20th Century Fox film, which will receive red carpet treatment at Roy Thomson Hall, portrays Cash early in his career as he rises to fame alongside Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis. Booking the Mangold picture follows Tuesday's announcement of gala Toronto screenings for the Keira Knightley starrer Pride and Prejudice, Curtis Hanson's In Your Shoes and John Madden's Proof, which stars Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins. The festival runs Sept. 8-15. »

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Mariah Makes Chart History in America

27 May 2005 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Mariah Carey is now officially the most popular female artist in the history of the American charts after scoring her 16th number one. The singer's new tune "We Belong Together" has spent eight weeks crawling up the Billboard Hot 100 and now has toppled Gwen Stefani's "Holla Back Girl" as the fourth chart-topper of 2005. "We Belong Together" is also Carey's biggest hit ever, and the most successful single for her new record company Def Jam. Only the Beatles (with 20 number ones) and Elvis Presley (with 18) can boast more Billboard chart-toppers than Carey. Elsewhere in the Billboard singles charts, it's a great week for original American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson - she has two hits in the top 10 ("Behind Hazel Eyes" and "Since U Been Gone") and the title track from her Breakaway album has notched up 13 weeks at number one on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Airplay Chart. »

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Country Stars To Wed

27 May 2005 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Country music star Garth Brooks has proposed to singer Trisha Yearwood on stage in front of 7,000 fans. The reclusive singer, 43, popped the question to his girlfriend after a statue of him was unveiled at the Legends In Bronze event in California on Wednesday - and Yearwood readily accepted. Yearwood struck up a relationship with chart-topping Brooks after working as his backing vocalist 15 years ago. Yearwood will be Brooks's second wife, and fans hope the forthcoming marriage will be third time lucky for Yearwood, 40, who has been married twice before. Other country celebrities honored with statues at the ceremony included Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. »

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Crowe Sworn To Secrecy Over Kidnap Plot

24 May 2005 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Cinderella Man lead Russell Crowe hated the secrecy surrounding his 2001 Al-Qaida kidnap plot because he felt like Elvis Presley, turning up at the Academy Awards with a posse of bodyguards. The Gladiator star was contacted by the FBI "in the middle of the night" and told of a plot to kidnap him and other leading Hollywood stars - but he was sworn to secrecy. He recalls, "What are you supposed to do? The thing that really bothered me at the time was not being able to discuss it with people - to explain why I suddenly looked like Elvis Presley with 14 guys around me." »

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King can't take Sun. crown from 'Housewives'

10 May 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

The king of rock 'n' roll was no match on Sunday for the queens of Wisteria Lane. The first half of CBS' heavily promoted, four-hour Elvis Presley biopic faced an uphill climb in its opening hour against ABC's red-hot Desperate Housewives. Meanwhile, Fox got encouraging news from the second week of its animation comedy block with solid showings from The Simpsons and Family Guy. Elvis finished out with a respectable 13.9 million viewers and 3.9 rating/9 share in the adults 18-49 demographic from 9-11 p.m., according to preliminary estimates from Nielsen Media Research. »

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King can't take Sun. crown from 'Housewives'

9 May 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

The king of rock 'n' roll was no match on Sunday for the queens of Wisteria Lane. The first half of CBS' heavily promoted, four-hour Elvis Presley biopic faced an uphill climb in its opening hour against ABC's red-hot Desperate Housewives. Meanwhile, Fox got encouraging news from the second week of its animation comedy block with solid showings from The Simpsons and Family Guy. Elvis finished out with a respectable 13.9 million viewers and 3.9 rating/9 share in the adults 18-49 demographic from 9-11 p.m., according to preliminary estimates from Nielsen Media Research. »

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Bride & Prejudice

30 March 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

LONDON -- Bride & Prejudice is like an Elvis Presley musical from the '60s, filled with shiny bright colors, bouncy music and happy, smiling, pretty people. Like those old pop vehicles, this upbeat blend of Bollywood and Jane Austen is an acquired taste. While the plot is inane and the acting bland, the film's relentless effervescence may endear it to mainstream audiences.

Director Gurinder Chadha probably shouldn't expect to match the crossover appeal that made her last film, Bend It Like Beckham, such a hit, but Bride & Prejudice will succeed with moviegoers seeking an agreeably good time.

Chadha and co-writer Paul Mayeda Berges have adapted Austen's Pride and Prejudice to make the Bennet sisters the Bakshi sisters, taking them from rural England to rural India. There is a Mr. Darcy, however, in the form of a rich American hotelier.

The traditions and formalities of one culture appear to translate reasonably well though only lip service is given to the notion that the Bakshi family is poor. India has seldom been portrayed as so ravishingly clean and gorgeous.

The Bakshis live in Amritsar, an Indian town off the tourist track, where four beautiful girls are ripe for marriage and given every encouragement by their ambitious mother, Mrs. Bakshi (Nadira Babbar). Reigning Bollywood queen Aishwarya Rai plays the loveliest sister, Lalita, but the others -- Jaya (Namrata Shirodkar), Lakhi (Peeya Rai Choduri) and Maya (Meghnaa) -- are also head-turners.

Potential suitors arrive in the form of the American Darcy Martin Henderson), a London-based Indian named Balraj (Naveen Andrews) and one Mr. Kholi (Nitin Ganatra), an Indian gentleman who has made a success of accountancy in Los Angeles. There's also a good-looking but smarmy British hunk named Johnny Wickham (Daniel Gillies), who is at odds with Darcy.

The paths of romance hold true to the established patterns of Austen and Presley, which is to say there are several misunderstandings, the wrong things are said and feelings are hurt before love finds a way.

The locations are all made to look fabulous, from Amritsar and Goa to London and Beverly Hills, and the performers are all scrumptious. The music is loud and energetic, the dancing athletic and voluptuous. Resistance to the picture's evident wish to please becomes futile. In the end, it's impossible not to smile.

BRIDE & PREJUDICE

Miramax Films

Pathe Pictures presents in association with U.K. Film Council and Kintop Pictures and Bend It Films a Nayah Chadha Prod. in association with Inside Track

Credits:

Director: Gurinder Chadha

Writers: Paul Mayeda Berges, Gurinder Chadha

Producers: Deepak Nayar, Gurinder Chadha

Executive producers: Francois Iverned, Cameron McCracken, Duncan Reid

Director of photography: Santosh Sivan

Production designer: Nick Ellis

Music: Craig Pruess

Costumes: Ralph Holes & Eduardo Castro

Editor: Justin Krish

Cast:

Lalita: Aishwarya Rai

Darcy: Martin Henderson

Balraj: Naveen Andrews

Kiran: Indira Varma

Jaya: Namrata Shirodkar

Lakhi: Peeya Rai Chodhuri

Maya: Meghnaa

Mrs. Bakshi: Nadira Babbar

Mr. Bakshi: Anupam Kher

Wickham: Daniel Gillies

Mr. Kholi: Nitin Ganatra

Catherine Darcy: Marsha Mason

Georgie: Alexis Bledel

Chandra: Sonali Kulkarni

No MPAA rating

Running time -- 101 minutes »

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Gere Dances with Japanese Leader

30 March 2005 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Actor Richard Gere swept Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi off his feet after agreeing to dance with the fun-loving leader yesterday. The hunky star is in Japan promoting his latest movie, a re-make of the Japanese smash hit Shall We Dance and he jumped at the chance to dance with Koizumi, on the condition that he could lead. Gere said, "I'll be the man," before the pair strutted their stuff in Koizumi's office in Tokyo. Koizumi, labeled 'the Japanese Richard Gere' because of his resemblance to the 55-year-old star, says, "He is a great person. Such a great movie star." Gere was equally impressed, saying, "It's a great honor for me to have the moments I've had with the prime minister. He's very generous." The Japanese film buff is no stranger to sharing the limelight with Hollywood's finest: he once sang a duet of Elvis Presley's "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" with Tom Cruise, while the A-lister was promoting The Last Samurai two years ago. »

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Crowe Shocked by Al-Qaeda Kidnap Threat

9 March 2005 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Hollywood superstar Russell Crowe was stunned to discover he was a kidnap target for Muslim terrorist group Al-qaeda. The Federal Bureau Of Investigation warned Crowe and a number of other big screen stars prior to the 2001 Academy Awards that Osama Bin Laden wanted to kidnap them - nine months before Bin Laden spearheaded the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington DC. New Zealand-born Crowe says, "That was the first conversation in my life that I'd ever heard the phrase al-Qaeda. And it was something to do with some recording picked up by a French policewoman, I think, in either Libya or Algiers. I don't think that I was the only person. But it was about - and here's another little touch of irony - it was about taking iconographic Americans out of the picture as a sort of cultural-destabilization plan." Following the warning, Crowe was accompanied to the Oscars - where he picked up the Best Actor award for Gladiator - by FBI agents, who also guarded him while he shot subsequent movies A Beautiful Mind and Master And Commander. He jokes, "I never fully understood what the f**k was going on. Suddenly it looks like I think I'm f**king Elvis Presley, because everywhere I go there are all these FBI guys." »

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12 items from 2005


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