3 items from 2000
Director Joel Schumacher (photos) is refusing to answer allegations that he is gay. The director of the last installment in the Batman film series insists he is not avoiding the subject - he just doesn't like being labelled. He says, "I don't not like talking about it, I just don't believe it matters. This is how I feel. I've lived my life very openly. I started drinking at nine. I started doing drugs in my teens. I started smoking at 10 and I started having sex at 11. So I'm not hiding anything. But I am totally and completely against labels. As long as we make a point of saying 'black female judge' or 'gay actor' then we promote and foster the erroneous concept that the norm is the Caucasian, heterosexual, Protestant male, which are terms you never see next to anyone's name." »
Jim Carrey has signed on the dotted line to star in Phone Booth (2000). The Truman Show, The (1998) funnyman has taken over the lead after Will Smith dropped out to make the new Muhammad Ali biopic. The film centers on a man that picks up a phone and is told if he hangs it up he will be shot by a sniper. Joel Schumacher will direct the flick, which is expected to hit the big screen next year. »
While still early in the year, it's hard to imagine a more misanthropic movie emerging from a Hollywood studio in 2000 than Warner Bros.' "Gossip". Adopting a pitch-black attitude toward all of its characters -- and by extension humanity itself -- "Gossip" not only gives audiences no one to root for, it gives them an entire cast of characters to hate. When the moral high ground is occupied by a jealous woman who knowingly spreads a false and vicious rumor about a woman she dislikes and then turns police snitch when things spiral out of control, you know a movie has got a pretty bleak point of view.
Not likely to warm moviegoers' hearts, "Gossip" nevertheless may claim cult status in ancillary markets thanks to a sleek and stylized production design by David Nichols and the dark tones in Andrezej Bartkowiak's cinematography.
The screenplay by Gregory Poirrier and Theresa Rebeck works off of prefabricated twists and turns, most of them implausible and some, including a concluding "gotcha," downright inane. Television helmer Davis Guggenheim keeps the pace brisk so no one will ponder long the illogic.
The characters live in a hermetically sealed universe of too-cool lofts and nightclubs and go to an idealized university where no one studies. The movie is supposed to take place in Manhattan, but this Toronto-based production creates a deliberately faux urban environment where virtually every interior looks like a swank downtown bar.
Indeed, this may be the first movie in a long while to show the younger generation unapologetically abusing alcohol rather than drugs. The characters float through the movie on martini vapors, drifting from cocktail to cocktail like a retro Nick and Nora Charles.
In fact, a night of heavy drinking produces the really bad idea that the movie's three protagonists somehow think is a really good idea: Namely, they start a malignant rumor about people they barely know to see how it will permeate the school and what form it will assume after creative minds further warp the untruth. All too predictably, the rumor spins out of control and comes back to haunt the original liars.
The leader of this nasty trio is Derrick (James Marsden), a supercool sociopath with an unbelievable loft apartment. His two roommates, the hipster Jones (Lena Headey) and the seemingly disconnected multimedia artist Travis (Norman Reedus), mostly sponge off his largess, which is apparently financed by an ample trust fund.
The rumor they spread claims that an aloof and wealthy freshman, Naomi (Kate Hudson), who zealously guards her virtue, had drunken sex with her boyfriend Beau ("Dawson's Creek"'s Joshua Jackson) at a nightclub. What Derrick fails to disclose to his roomies is a past relationship with Naomi and a desire to, in his mind, even the score with her.
The rumor, of course, takes on a life of its own. Eventually, even Naomi comes to believe it since her recall of that night is hampered by the fact that she passed out. Soon, Beau is arrested for date rape, but when Jones tries to come clean, the police won't believe her.
Curiously, never are those magic initials "DNA" uttered in a movie that pivots around a date-rape charge. This is but one of the implausibles in a script that piles one absurdity on another with ruthless abandon. The guiding wisdom here seems to be to overwhelm the audience with illogic.
None of which would matter terribly if any character stood out with some dynamism. But no heat comes from these young actors. They give mostly mechanical performances, hitting all their marks but dead inside. Headey has a few moments when you see potential. But the contradictory roles defeat her and her colleagues at every turn. Veterans Edward James Olmos and Eric Bogosian show up as wise and superior elders, but you wish they had more to do.
All technical credits are superior to the material.
Warner Bros. in association with Village Roadshow Pictures and NPV Entertainment
An Outlaw production
Producers: Jeffrey Silver, Bobby Newmyer
Director: Davis Guggenheim
Screenwriters: Gregory Poirrier, Theresa Rebeck
Executive producers: Joel Schumacher,
Director of photography: Andrezej Bartkowiak
Production designer: David Nichols
Music: Graeme Revell
Co-producer: John M. Eckert
Costume designer: Louise Mingenbach
Editor: Jay Cassidy
Derrick: James Marsden
Jones: Lena Headey
Travis: Norman Reedus
Naomi: Kate Hudson
Beau: Joshua Jackson
Sheila: Marisa Coughlan
Detective Curtis: Edward James Olmos
Professor Goodwin: Eric Bogosian
Running time -- 90 minutes
MPAA rating: R
3 items from 2000
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