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2 items from 2005

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

25 August 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Candy and fantasy film share this in common: Each is tricky to get right. Success requires a perfect balance of flavor, richness, depth and a yummy yumminess that's hard to pinpoint but you know it when you taste it. So when it comes to candy -- and to film fantasy -- "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is the real deal. This morality tale disguised as a whimsical, magical mystery tour of the world's greatest chocolate factory has all the gorgeousness of hard Dark Chocolate that melts ever-so-slowly in your mouth. What a treat coming from Tim Burton, who has recovered his imaginative touch after a few missteps, and from his frequent collaborator Johnny Depp, an actor who resolutely embodies Burton's fanciful vision.

Here's a film about kids and for kids that has not lost touch with what it is like to actually be a kid. Children and adults alike will jam lines to movie houses in North America and overseas to acquire golden tickets for this audience-pleaser.

"Charlie", of course, derives from Roald Dahl's quirky fantasy first published in 1964, which inspired the fondly remembered 1971 movie, "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." Dahl's tale, very faithfully adapted by John August, tells of a good-hearted though poor lad named Charlie (fresh-faced Freddie Highmore), who dwells in Dickensian squalor in a lean-to cottage -- how on earth does it remain upright, you wonder -- a few blocks from Willie Wonka's chocolate factory. He shares crowded quarters with a loving mom Helena Bonham Carter) and a happy though unemployed dad (Noah Taylor) along with both pairs of grandparents who occupy a communal bed.

One day the reclusive Willy Wonka, seen by nobody in years, announces a worldwide contest in which five children will win a guided tour of his factory. Golden tickets have been hidden in five Wonka chocolate bars. Naturally, Charlie is one of the lucky five. Each child is accompanied by an adult guardian. Charlie selects his excited Grandpa Joe (ageless David Kelly), who once worked for Willy.

Upon being escorted into the candy kingdom, the five children find themselves in a contest of sorts, though neither the rules nor the prize are ever stated. Unlike Charlie, the other children are all vile: Gluttonous Augustus Gloop (Philip Wiegratz) is a German Junge whose only thought is to continually stuff his face with sweets. The seriously spoiled Veruca Salt (Julia Winter) pouts and throws fits whenever her rich daddy (sturdy James Fox) fails to satisfy her whims.

Martial-artist Violet Beauregarde (Annasophia Robb) is fiercely competitive in all things, even gum chewing. Finally, techno brat Mike Teavee (Jordan Fry) lords his supposedly superior knowledge over everyone.

So you pretty much know who the likely winner is and can probably even guess the surprise prize. Which means the delight of the film lies in the guided tour itself performed by troubled Willy.

Outfitted in black with top hat and formal long-tail coat, a pasty-white face and faux gullibility, Depp somewhat resembles Michael Jackson on a good day. He is a man deliberately disconnected from any reality so he can focus solely on childish delights. Through flashbacks, which cannot be found in Dahl's book, you learn that Willy's life is a complete reaction to an overly strict father (Christopher Lee), a candy-hating dentist.

Willy and Charlie, however, are on the same wavelength: They naturally gravitate toward those things in life that are cheerful, optimistic and good. Both banish the dark side with a breezy nonchalance. Charlie, for instance, sees no squalor or poverty in his home, only the love of a close-knit family.

Willy leads the party through rooms of wonder beginning with the Chocolate Room, a grassy landscape divided by a chocolate river and waterfall, dotted with candy trees and fudge hills. In another room, 100 trained squirrels sit on tiny stools and carefully remove nuts from their shells. And can you imagine a goofier image than a suspended cow struck repeated with tiny whips to produce, yes, Whipped Cream?

Throughout the factory, workers named Oompa Loompas perform such tasks as mining fudge and rowing a spun-sugar seahorse-shaped galley on the chocolate river. All Oompa Loompas are played by the same diminutive actor, Deep Roy, who has been further miniaturized and multiplied through motion-capture technology.

During the tour, each vile child is undone by his or her character flaw. At the moment a child is eliminated from competition, the Oompa Loompas break into marvelous song and dance numbers that utilize Dahl's lyrics from the book. (Danny Elfman wrote the spirited music.) In these numbers, Burton cannot resist kidding a range of Hollywood classics ranging from Busby Berkeley musicals and Esther Williams pool ballets to Beatles movies, "2001" and even "Psycho".

Generally, movies have viewed mechanization with suspicion, going back at least to Chaplin's "Modern Times". Not here though. From the opening credits, Burton & Co. glory in automated assembly lines that spin out sugary concoctions in all colors and flavors, in laboratories filled with boiling pots and strange pipes and in an elevator that impossibly moves up, down, sideways and through the roof.

Dahl was nothing if not a first-class production designer and Burton's team follow his suggestions to the max. To evoke this dream factory, Burton benefits from a third collaboration with the resourceful and dexterous cinematographer Philippe Rousselot, who turns Alex McDowell's edible-looking sets into a confectioner's wonderland. Nick Davis' visual effects, Gabriella Pescucci's not-quite-old, not-quite-new costumes and Chris Lebenzon's smooth editing makes the chocolate factory one of the best fantasy worlds this side of Oz.


Warner Bros.

Warner Bros. in association with Village Roadshow Prods. Presents a Zanuck Co./Plan B production


Director: Tim Burton

Screenwriter: John August

Based on the novel by: Roald Dahl

Producer: Richard D. Zanuck, Brad Grey

Executive producers: Patrick McCormick, Felicity Dahl, Michael Siegel, Graham Burke, Bruce Berman

Director of photography: Philippe Rousselot

Production designer: Alex McDowell

Music: Danny Elfman

Lyrics by: Roald Dahl

Co-producer: Katterli Frauenfelder

Costume designer: Gabriella Pescucci

Editor: Chris Lebenzon.


Willy Wonka: Johnny Depp

Charlie Bucket: Freddie Highmore

Grandpa Joe: David Kelly

Mrs. Bucket: Helena Bonham Carter

Mr. Bucket: Noah Taylor

Mrs. Beauregarde: Missi Pyle

Mr. Salt: James Fox

Oompa Loompa: Deep Roy

Dr. Wonka: Christopher Lee

Mr. Teavee: Adam Godley

Mrs. Gloop: Franziska Troegner

Violet: Annasophia Robb

Mike: Jordon Fry

Augustus: Philip Wiegratz

MPAA rating: PG

Running time -- 120 minutes »

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Screen Actors Guild Nominations Go Sideways

11 January 2005 | IMDb News

Perennial awards favorite Sideways dominated the Screen Actors Guild nominations with a field-best four nominations, including Best Ensemble Cast. The Alexander Payne comedy also nabbed three individual acting nominations as well for lead Paul Giamatti and supporting players Thomas Haden Church and Virginia Madsen, putting it just ahead of a number of films that received three nominations each, including The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Million Dollar Baby, and Hotel Rwanda; all those movies also earned Best Ensemble nominations alongside Ray and Sideways. Jamie Foxx was once again the actor of the hour, taking home three individual nominations for Ray, Collateral, and TV movie Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story as well as an Ensemble nod for Ray. Foxx was followed by Hilary Swank, who received two solo nominations, for Million Dollar Baby and HBO movie Iron Jawed Angels, and an Ensemble mention for Million Dollar Baby.

With their film nominations, the SAGs threw a number of new names into the awards season mix, including Catalina Sandino Moreno (Maria Full of Grace), James Garner (The Notebook), Freddie Highmore (Finding Neverland), Cloris Leachman (Spanglish), and Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda). A few noticeable absentees included Liam Neeson (Kinsey), Javier Bardem (The Sea Inside), and the entire cast of Closer, an actor-driven movie if there ever was one. On the TV side, familiar shows (The Sopranos, Everybody Loves Raymond, etc) rubbed elbows with a handful of newcomers, including Arrested Development and Desperate Housewives, and Patricia Heaton pulled a Hilary Swank of her own, getting two individual nominations for Everybody Loves Raymond and TV movie remake The Goodbye Girl as well as an Ensemble nomination for Raymond.

The SAGs will be handed out on Saturday, February 5. Here's the (very long) list of film and TV nominees:


Male Actor in a Leading Role: Don Cheadle, Hotel Rwanda; Johnny Depp, Finding Neverland; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Aviator; Jamie Foxx, Ray; Paul Giamatti, Sideways

Female Actor in a Leading Role: Annette Bening, Being Julia; Catalina Sandino Moreno, Maria Full of Grace; Imelda Staunton, Vera Drake; Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby; Kate Winslet, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Male Actor in a Supporting Role: Thomas Haden Church, Sideways; Jamie Foxx, Collateral; Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby; James Garner, The Notebook; Freddie Highmore, Finding Neverland

Female Actor in a Supporting Role: Cate Blanchett, The Aviator; Cloris Leachman, Spanglish; Laura Linney, Kinsey; Virginia Madsen, Sideways; Sophie Okonedo, Hotel Rwanda

Ensemble Cast: The Aviator; Finding Neverland; Hotel Rwanda; Million Dollar Baby; Ray; Sideways


Male Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries: Jamie Foxx, Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story; William H. Macy, The Wool Cap; Barry Pepper, 3: The Dale Earnhardt Story; Geoffrey Rush, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers; Jon Voight, Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Female Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries: Glenn Close, The Lion in Winter; Patricia Heaton, Neil Simon's The Goodbye Girl; Keke Palmer, The Wool Cap; Hilary Swank, Iron Jawed Angels; Charlize Theron, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers

Male Actor in a Drama Series: Hank Azaria, Huff; James Gandolfini, The Sopranos; Anthony LaPaglia, Without a Trace; Jerry Orbach, Law & Order; Kiefer Sutherland, 24

Female Actor in a Drama Series: Drea De Matteo, The Sopranos; Edie Falco, The Sopranos; Jennifer Garner, Alias; Allison Janney, The West Wing; Christine Lahti, Jack & Bobby

Male Actor in a Comedy Series: Jason Bateman, Arrested Development; Sean Hayes, Will & Grace; Ray Romano, Everybody Loves Raymond; Tony Shalhoub, Monk; Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men

Female Actor in a Comedy Series: Teri Hatcher, Desperate Housewives; Patricia Heaton, Everybody Loves Raymond; Megan Mullally, Will & Grace; Sarah Jessica Parker, Sex and the City; Doris Roberts, Everybody Loves Raymond

Ensemble in a Drama Series: 24; CSI: Crime Scene Investigation; Six Feet Under; The Sopranos; The West Wing

Ensemble in a Comedy Series: Arrested Development; Desperate Housewives; Everybody Loves Raymond; Sex and the City; Will & Grace


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2 items from 2005

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