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5 items from 2001

Mariah Carey To Stick With Acting

12 October 2001 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Singer and actress Mariah Carey is refusing to rule out a career on the silver screens of Hollywood - despite receiving scathing criticisms for her role in box-office bomb Glitter. The 31-year-old sex symbol is hoping to sink her teeth into more screen roles, although she insists she'll never ditch her first love, music, for a chance to truly shine as a Hollywood star. She says, "It's hard to decide which creative thing I enjoy most. I have been singing since I started talking. I have been a songwriter most of my life. I enjoy acting as well. I look forward to further projects, one which I just completed. It allows me to use a different side to my creativity." But Carey, who is set to hit screens again next year in her new movie Wise Girls, alongside Mira Sorvino, does admit that film- making isn't exactly what she'd originally thought it would be. She continues, "There are a lot of variables, directors, producers, and a lot of people who are in control and it's their vision. It is a different situation and in life I like to go through different situations. It is different than making a record, but I enjoyed it and look forward to my next acting experience. I will never stop writing and singing songs. I felt acting in this film made me more connected to the music." The singer also admits that the acting lessons she took in preparation for her movie debut have boosted her confidence levels. »

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The Grey Zone

13 September 2001 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

"The Grey Zone" is an existential morality play about the Holocaust that asks: What would you have done? The question may make you uncomfortable -- indeed, discomfort seems to be the reigning principle behind the film, which writer-director Tim Blake Nelson ("O") has based on his own play. What may cause equal discomfort, though, is Nelson's decision to strip away all sentiment, ethnicity or heroism from his work.

This artistic choice relegates "The Grey Zone" to the nether regions of the boxoffice landscape. Some may applaud Nelson's fierce determination to, as he puts it, "de-sentimentalize" his subject matter and to rid the concentration camp of "quaint ways of speech." But the end result feels distinctly off-off-Broadway, a work of such rigid artistic principles that its theatrical life will likely be measured in days rather than weeks.

"The Grey Zone" derives from fascinating yet horrifying facts. In the death camps, the Nazis selected willing prisoners to act as Sonderkommandos, men who would prepare fellow Jews for the gas chambers, then process their corpses after gassings. In return, this elite group received unheard-of privileges until the time of their own slayings.

In 1944, Auschwitz's 12th Sonderkommandos staged an armed revolt that managed to destroy two crematoria. Nelson bases his dramatization of this rebellion partly on a memoir by Miklos Nyiszli, a Hungarian Jewish doctor who assisted the notorious Dr. Mengele in his ghastly medical experiments.

The Hungarian Jews that make up this 12th group prove to be the most efficient of the Nazis' facilitators. But as their own deaths draw near, the men grow desperate to give their lives meaning. For their mutiny to succeed, they persuade female inmates in a nearby munitions factory to smuggle gunpowder to them.

Then a freak incident triggers the rebellion. A young girl somehow survives a gassing. The group revives her but has no way to hide. Her very presence endangers the uprising.

Nelson, working in a meticulous re-creation of an extermination plant in Bulgaria's Boyana Studios, lets everything -- the routine of the death mills, the conspiratorial planning, the relationships of prisoners with their captors -- unfold in a matter-of-fact way. You are to understand that brutality is the norm, and that those in special squads have ceased being human.

Everyone talks in the same clipped, measured tones, with emotions minimized. Maybe this is the way things were in the camps. Maybe this isn't. But in choosing this approach, Nelson lets some individuality seep from his drama.

Harvey Keitel, playing the officer in charge, tries out a serviceable German accent. But all the other actors, playing Hungarians or Poles, speak in flat American accents. But late in the film, it's a shock to realize that even though everyone is speaking English, you are meant to imagine that Keitel can't understand what the men are saying. This takes you out of the film's reality in a more jarring way than any quaint way of speech.

The rebellion itself is treated as partially successful yet clumsily staged and poorly organized. Historical accounts differ on this point, but this interpretation again falls in line with Nelson's determination not to taint any character with a whiff of heroism. Having denied their own humanity, these men are granted none by Nelson either.

The acting is solid. Standouts include David Arquette as the most emotional of the bunch, Steve Buscemi as a Pole who trusts no one and Allan Corduner as Nyiszli, who will do anything to save his wife and child on the outside. Mira Sorvino and Natasha Lyonne play brave munitions workers who refuse to divulge the uprising despite hideous torture.

Maria Djurkovic's grim, ashen sets and Russell Lee Fine's claustrophobic cinematography are all too efficient in trapping the viewer inside this gray zone where the question is asked over and over: What would you have done?


Lions Gate Films

Millennium Films presents

a Goatsingers production

in association with Killer Films

Producers: Pamela Koffler, Christine Vachon, Tim Blake Nelson, Avi Lerner, Danny Lerner

Screenwriter-director: Tim Blake Nelson

Based on the play by: Tim Blake Nelson

Executive producers: Danny Dimbort, Trevor Short, Brad Weston, John Wells, Harvey Keitel

Director of photography: Russell Lee Fine

Production designer: Maria Djurkovic

Music: Jeff Danna

Costume designer: Marina Draghici

Editors: Tim Blake Nelson, Michelle Botticelli



Hoffman: David Arquette

Muhsfeldt: Harvey Keitel

Abramowics: Steve Buscemi

Dina: Mira Sorvino

Rosa: Natasha Lyonne

Nyiszli: Allan Corduner

Schlermer: Daniel Benzali

Rosenthal: David Chandler

Running time -- 108 minutes

No MPAA rating »

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Mira Sorvino: Stars Have Sex On Screen

28 August 2001 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Mira Sorvino has shocked Hollywood by insisting that movie stars really do have sex on film. The Summer Of Sam star - who won an Oscar for her role as a prostitute in Woody Allen movie Mighty Aphrodite - has revealed that some actors don't fake movie sex scenes. But Sorvino refused to disclose which stars go all the way for the cameras. She says, "It rarely happens that actors have proper sex in films. But it does, though - now and again. And other actors tell me that it does." »

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Mira: I Did Not Fight Mariah Carey

6 August 2001 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Hollywood starlet Mira Sorvino has lashed out at reports she was involved in a wrestling match with Mariah Carey on the set of Wise Girls. It was reported that Carey threw a salt shaker at Sorvino and then wrestled with her, after the troubled singer showed up late to the set of their Mob movie. But Sorvino says, "No physical fight ever occurred between us and the idea is as insulting as it is laughable. We finished the film dancing at an impromptu wrap party in high spirits and exchanged gifts and warmest goodbyes." Both Carey and Sorvino's publicists acknowledged that "words were exchanged" between the co-stars after Carey was late to the set one day. Sexy Sorvino has also expressed concern for Mariah, who was recently admitted into hospital after suffering "an emotional and physical breakdown". She says, "I am terribly concerned for Mariah. I enjoyed my experience with her on Wise Girls, and witnessed firsthand how incredibly talented and hard working she is; flying in and out on weekends faithfully fulfilling her numerous obligations in both the film and music industry. My heart goes out to her and I am praying for her speedy recovery." »

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Kevin Costner Weds In Secret

16 April 2001 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Hollywood superstar Kevin Costner has secretly married a blonde model young enough to be his daughter in a chapel in Italy. Costner, 46, has reportedly tied the knot with Christine Baumgarten, 26, having his 13-year-old son, Joe as his best man after being swept up in the romanticism associated with the area of Tuscany. "He fell under the spell of that lovely area, " a friend said who said the pair got married "on impulse". According to Britain's Daily Star newspaper, the pal adds, "The marriage won't be legally recognised in America until he takes out a license there. He's now telling pals and family to get ready for a Stateside ceremony." Kevin's first marriage to Cindy Silva lasted 16 years but ended in a bitter divorce costing him $75 million after they split in 1994. The Thirteen Days star has been linked with beauties Courteney Cox, Mira Sorvino, Naomi Campbell and Elle Macpherson but has been dating Christine for the past year, describing their relationship as his first "serious" love affair in the past six years. »

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