4 items from 2000
Dawson's Creek star Joshua Jackson was not in reality the good pupil he portrays in the hit show. Josh, who plays heart-throb PACY, was thrown out of two schools for his misbehavior. He says, "I was a complete pain in the b*tt. I had a real problem with being told what to do by teachers and I ended up getting kicked out of two schools for being mouthy. The first time was in Vancouver, when I was 14. They told me I just wasn't part of the school spirit." The second time he was thrown out he says, "was because I played truant a lot and I was still very mouthy. One of my teachers called me `stupid' and we got into this massive argument. The principle told me I could either apologise to the class for my behavior and stay, or I'd have to leave. I just wouldn't back down, which maybe wasn't the best attitude to take." »
DAWSON'S CREEK star Joshua Jackson can easily relate to his troubled character in the teen soap - because he was expelled from school twice. The actor who plays PACEY WITTER in the hit television show, found it hard to take high school seriously as he always had his sights set on Hollywood stardom. He says, "I was actually expelled from school twice. I didn't feel like I got it right the first time so I went back and wanted to make sure I did it right. The first time I have no idea why I was expelled... They told me I didn't have the school spirit, which still to this day confuses me. But the second time I just never went - that was the problem. I would just stay up all night watching television and then not show up for class." »
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
College secret societies need not fear "The Skulls", an inane conspiracy thriller that grows more ridiculous by the minute.
This stone-faced clunker from director Rob Cohen ("The Rat Pack") and screenwriter John Pogue ("U.S. Marshals") is so full of unbelievable plotting and flimsy cardboard characters uttering some of the dumbest dialogue of the new millennium that a more apt title would have been "The Numbskulls".
While the presence of "Dawson's Creek" resident Joshua Jackson could initially attract a portion of the picture's targeted teen audience, that demo will probably prove savvy enough to steer clear. It might, however, be rediscovered on video by those looking for a good howl.
Jackson is all somber earnestness as Luke McNamara, an Ivy League student who's at first thrilled to have been inducted into the highly selective Skulls organization. After all, membership certainly has its rewards, including new watches (which handily cover that freshly branded skull on new recruits' wrists), snazzy cars and a tax-free $20,000 deposit in your bank account -- not to mention a guaranteed entree into law school.
But that elation comes crashing down when Luke's best buddy and roommate Will Beckford (Hill Harper) turns up dead after poking around the Skulls' not-so-secret gathering place, and Luke's assigned Skull "soulmate" Caleb Mandrake (Paul Walker) is high on the suspect list.
Bringing the true perpetrator to justice, however, is a tricky matter, given the presence of Caleb's father Litten Mandrake (Craig T. Nelson), a prominent judge, and Ames Levritt (William Petersen) a senator, who both happen to be card-carrying Skulls and are very protective of their clandestine turf. Undaunted, Luke perseveres with the active support of his girlfriend, Chloe (Leslie Bibb), and right eventually wins out. Oh, and did we mention the part about challenging Caleb to a good old-fashioned gun duel?
Perhaps writer Pogue should have been more concerned about grounding his characters in any kind of tangible reality rather than coming up with all those eccentric names. But in addition to all the lapses in logic and truly boneheaded dialogue, the uniformly weak performances only worsen matters.
Remaining blissfully oblivous to it all is director Cohen, who's too preoccupied with all the faux-"Matrix" lighting cues. Between those and production designer Bob Ziembicki's over-the-top secret society set pieces, "The Skulls" admittedly has a unique method of indoctrination: If you make it through all 107 minutes without giggling, you're in.
Universal Pictures and
Original Film/Newmarket Capital Group present
A Neal H. Moritz production
A Rob Cohen film
Producers:Neal H. Moritz, John Pogue
Executive producers:William Tyrer, Chris J. Ball, Bruce Mellon
Director of photography:Shane Hurlbut
Production designer:Bob Ziembicki
Costume designer:Marie-Sylvie Deveau
Music supervisors:Michelle Kuznetsky, Mary Ramos
Luke McNamara:Joshua Jackson
Caleb Mandrake:Paul Walker
Will Beckford:Hill Harper
Litten Mandrake:Craig T. Nelson
Ames Levritt:William Petersen
Martin Lombard:Christopher McDonald
Detective Sparrow:Steve Harris
Running time -- 107 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13
4 items from 2000
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