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4 items from 2005


Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story

17 November 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

This review was written for the festival screening of "Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story."

TORONTO -- "Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story" is neither inspired nor a true story. Maybe a filly once made a comeback from a broken leg, and maybe a horse once helped pull a family back together. But this DreamWorks Pictures release recycles just about every sentimental ploy and cliche from a raft of horse racing movies. The film is aimed directly at a family audience, and by unashamedly going for one crowd-pleasing moment after another, it might reach that audience. Having Hollywood's Sweetheart, Dakota Fanning, onboard will help.

Screenwriter John Gatins ("Varsity Blues", "Coach Carter") makes his directing debut with his own script about a little girl with a big dream of seeing her horse win a major stakes race. The film traffics in a ready-made villain, a courageous mare, popsicles and sweets -- for the girl and the horse -- and a father who finally "gets back in the game" of horse racing.

The Cranes, Ben (Kurt Russell) and Lilly (Elisabeth Shue), are getting torn apart by financial difficulties on the family horse farm. Ben's dad, Pop (Kris Kristofferson), sulks in a nearby house, having sold off most of the property to pare down mounting debts.

When Cale Crane (Fanning) sees one of her favorite horses take a tumble and break a leg in a race, Ben, who works as a trainer, lacks the heart to put the filly down in front of his daughter. Impulsively, he tells off his boss (David Morse), thereby costing him his job, and takes the injured horse in partial payment of salary owed.

His idea, when he comes to his senses the next day, is to get the horse back on her feet and, because her lineage is royal, mate her with a champion thoroughbred to produce a colt that could net as much as $300,000.

Did we mention the horse's name, Sonador, means "dreamer"?

Adults and even most children can pretty much guess the plot trajectory from here. Of course, Sonador will heal and race again. Of course, the stable hand (Freddy Rodriguez) who dreams of riding a winner will climb aboard Sonador. Of course, the cash-strapped family will miraculously find the six-figure sum needed for entry fees.

The movie achieves moments of genuine affection between daughter and father, thanks to the two actors. Fanning manages the feat of possessing real acting chops and the ability to turn on the charm without cloying mannerisms. Russell and Kristofferson play against this as crusty, often-frustrated men bemused by the youngster.

Shue doesn't have enough to do as the good-hearted backbone of the family. And it's a wasted opportunity not to let the talented Morse at least try to give dimension and shadings to a cardboard villain.

Locations in Kentucky and Louisiana, ably lit and lensed by Fred Murphy, offer a bucolic setting to relax some audience qualms over the formulaic story. And John Debney's melodic score might lull others into dreams of that old Kentucky home we all have in our imaginations.

DREAMER: INSPIRED BY A TRUE STORY

DreamWorks Pictures

Hyde Park Entertainment presents a Tollin/Robbins/Hunt Lowry Prods. production

Credits:

Writer/director: John Gatins

Producers: Brian Robbins, Michael Tollin

Executive producers: Ashok Amritraj, Jon Jashni, Bill Johnson, Stacy Cohen, Caitlin Scalon

Director of photography: Fred Murphy

Production designer: Brent Thomas

Costumes: Judy Raskin Howell

Music: John Debney

Editor: David Rosenbloom.

Cast:

Ben Crane: Kurt Russell

Cale Crane: Dakota Fanning

Pops: Kris Kristofferson

Lilly Crane: Elisabeth Shue

Palmer: David Morse

Mandelo: Freddy Rodriguez

Balon: Luis Guzman

MPAA rating PG

Running time -- 105 minutes »

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'Number' is up for Shue at New Line

7 November 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Elisabeth Shue has been cast opposite Jim Carrey in The Number 23, a psychological thriller Joel Schumacher is directing for New Line Cinema. Contrafilm's Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson are producing. The film, written by Fernley Phillips, sees Carrey as a man who comes into contact with an obscure book titled The Number 23. As he reads it, he becomes increasingly convinced that the book is based on his own life. His obsession with the number 23 starts to consume him to the point that he soon realizes that the book forecasts far graver consequences for his life than he could ever have imagined. Shue plays Carrey's wife as well as a character in the book. »

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Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story

9 September 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Screened at the Toronto International Film Festival

TORONTO -- "Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story" is neither inspired nor a true story. Maybe a filly once made a comeback from a broken leg, and maybe a horse once helped pull a family back together. But this DreamWorks Pictures release recycles just about every sentimental ploy and cliche from a raft of horse racing movies. The film is aimed directly at a family audience, and by unashamedly going for one crowd-pleasing moment after another, it might reach that audience. Having Hollywood's Sweetheart, Dakota Fanning, onboard will help.

Screenwriter John Gatins ("Varsity Blues", "Coach Carter") makes his directing debut with his own script about a little girl with a big dream of seeing her horse win a major stakes race. The film traffics in a ready-made villain, a courageous mare, popsicles and sweets -- for the girl and the horse -- and a father who finally "gets back in the game" of horse racing.

The Cranes, Ben (Kurt Russell) and Lilly (Elisabeth Shue), are getting torn apart by financial difficulties on the family horse farm. Ben's dad, Pop (Kris Kristofferson), sulks in a nearby house, having sold off most of the property to pare down mounting debts.

When Cale Crane (Fanning) sees one of her favorite horses take a tumble and break a leg in a race, Ben, who works as a trainer, lacks the heart to put the filly down in front of his daughter. Impulsively, he tells off his boss (David Morse), thereby costing him his job, and takes the injured horse in partial payment of salary owed.

His idea, when he comes to his senses the next day, is to get the horse back on her feet and, because her lineage is royal, mate her with a champion thoroughbred to produce a colt that could net as much as $300,000.

Did we mention the horse's name, Sonador, means "dreamer"?

Adults and even most children can pretty much guess the plot trajectory from here. Of course, Sonador will heal and race again. Of course, the stable hand (Freddy Rodriguez) who dreams of riding a winner will climb aboard Sonador. Of course, the cash-strapped family will miraculously find the six-figure sum needed for entry fees.

The movie achieves moments of genuine affection between daughter and father, thanks to the two actors. Fanning manages the feat of possessing real acting chops and the ability to turn on the charm without cloying mannerisms. Russell and Kristofferson play against this as crusty, often-frustrated men bemused by the youngster.

Shue doesn't have enough to do as the good-hearted backbone of the family. And it's a wasted opportunity not to let the talented Morse at least try to give dimension and shadings to a cardboard villain.

Locations in Kentucky and Louisiana, ably lit and lensed by Fred Murphy, offer a bucolic setting to relax some audience qualms over the formulaic story. And John Debney's melodic score might lull others into dreams of that old Kentucky home we all have in our imaginations.

DREAMER: INSPIRED BY A TRUE STORY

DreamWorks Pictures

Hyde Park Entertainment presents a Tollin/Robbins/Hunt Lowry Prods. production

Credits:

Writer/director: John Gatins

Producers: Brian Robbins, Michael Tollin

Executive producers: Ashok Amritraj, Jon Jashni, Bill Johnson, Stacy Cohen, Caitlin Scalon

Director of photography: Fred Murphy

Production designer: Brent Thomas

Costumes: Judy Raskin Howell

Music: John Debney

Editor: David Rosenbloom.

Cast:

Ben Crane: Kurt Russell

Cale Crane: Dakota Fanning

Pops: Kris Kristofferson

Lilly Crane: Elisabeth Shue

Palmer: David Morse

Mandelo: Freddy Rodriguez

Balon: Luis Guzman

MPAA rating PG

Running time -- 105 minutes »

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Hide and Seek

23 February 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

There are twist endings and there are twist endings -- and then there is the logic-strangling, complete cheat of a reveal that takes place in the final 10 minutes of Hide and Seek.

It's so absolutely preposterous that it stops the film cold and draws a collective "Aw c'mon!" from viewers wondering if maybe they should take back some of that ill will that greeted M. Night Shyamalan's surprise turn of events in The Village.

Until that moment, the film, directed by John Polson from a first screenplay by Ari Schlossberg, functions as a serviceable if relentlessly derivative psychological thriller, with the presence of Robert De Niro and young Dakota Fanning helping to distract from its cobbled-together feel.

But while audiences love to be scared, they're not so fond of being messed with, and though the genre's die-hard faithful might initially come out, come out, wherever they are, damaging word-of-mouth will likely hasten the trek from the screen to the video racks.

Having put his slow boil to effective use dealing with all those Fockers, De Niro plays it much closer to the vest as David Callaway, a recently widowed psychologist whose daughter Emily (Fanning in a spooky role to match her spooky talent) has been traumatized by the violent death of her mother (a briefly seen Amy Irving).

Contending that a change of scenery will do her a world of good, David and Emily trade in the Big Apple for a rambling old house in rural Upstate New York, with results that prove to be anything but therapeutic.

As a series of increasingly horrific events unfold, with Emily placing the blame on her new and presumed imaginary friend Charlie, David is forced to face the possibility that there's a more tangible, malevolent presence lurking in the dimly lit domicile.

That is, until a destructive force appears to have gotten into writer Schlossberg's word processor and caused it to spew out that ragingly illogical plot shocker.

In hindsight, the writing's actually on the wall long before that moment, thanks to a story line that's crammed with more red herrings than a sardine can, with a setup that smells equally fishy.

De Niro and the always impressive Fanning, whose hair has been dyed an unmistakable shade of troubled-child black, are able to keep it all sufficiently aloft up to that point of no return, as is the capable supporting cast which includes Elisabeth Shue as a sympathetic neighbor, Famke Janssen as De Niro's professional protege and Dylan Baker as a sheriff who proves to be too nosy for his own good.

Australian director Polson (Swimfan) maintains a reasonably taut grip on the initial bumps in the night with assistance from cinematographer Dariusz Wolski ("Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl") and production designer Steven Jordan, who lend the sleepy rural neighborhood the necessary undercurrent of creepiness.

Hide and Seek

20th Century Fox

Josephson Entertainment

Credits:

Director: John Polson

Screenwriter: Ari Schlossberg

Producer: Barry Josephson

Executive producer: Joe Caracciolo Jr.

Director of photography: Dariusz Wolski

Production designer: Steven Jordan

Editor: Jeffrey Ford

Costume designer: Aude Bronson-Howard

Music: John Ottman

Cast:

David Callaway: Robert De Niro

Emily Callaway: Dakota Fanning

Katherine: Famke Janssen

Elizabeth Young: Elizabeth Shue

Alison Callaway: Amy Irving

Sheriff Hafferty: Dylan Baker

Laura: Melissa Leo

MPAA rating R

Running time -- 114 minutes »

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4 items from 2005


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