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10 items from 2005


Dark Water

29 July 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Fresh from his Oscar-nominated The Motorcycle Diaries, acclaimed director Walter Salles takes the horror movie plunge with Dark Water, a psychological thriller with the accent truly on the psychological.

With his stirring visual sense very much intact here, Salles sets the creepy mood eloquently, but the picture -- based on the Japanese film by Hideo Nakata and a short story by Koji Suzuki, both of The Ring fame -- ultimately fails to reward all the little shivers with any satisfying jolts.

Although it's refreshing to have a horror script (by Fearless screenwriter Rafael Yglesias) that veers away from the usual zombies and slashers, the recurring thematic elements in Dark Water are still all too familiar to anyone who has seen any installment of The Ring cycle, not to mention the recent Amityville Horror or Hide and Seek.

That watered-down effect, combined with an unsatisfying ending that stints on the kind of audience-shocking coup de grace that translates into repeat viewings, will make for respectable but most likely not summer-worthy numbers.

There's no shortage of icky atmosphere in the picture's setup, with newly divorced mom Dahlia Williams (Jennifer Connelly) and her young daughter, Ceci (Ariel Gade), renting a depressing apartment in a sprawling block of bleak concrete monoliths on bleaker Roosevelt Island.

It's the kind of joint that would make the apartment in Polanski's The Tenant look downright homey by comparison, so it's not surprising that the nasty-looking dark water stain that starts to form on the ceiling can only lead to worse stuff.

Of course, a bad leak is never really about a bad leak, especially in the Japanese thriller arena, and Salles and Yglesias plumb some murky psychological depths having much (a little too much) to do with Dahlia's own abandonment issues and big-city alienation.

By the time the inevitable deluge arrives, one can almost hear the Lennon-McCartney refrain of "Ah, look at all the lonely people" along with all that dripping and sinister whispering in the walls.

But while the story is a bit of a letdown, the performances are watertight. Connelly brings a nicely grounded and tightly coiled restraint to her role, while John C. Reilly is an absolute hoot as the smarmy con man of a complex manager who hustles Dahlia into taking the apartment.

Also effective is Pete Postlethwaite as Veeck, the building's moody janitor; Tim Roth as a sympathetic attorney who appears to work out of his car; and young Gade as Dahlia's big-eyed daughter.

There are also no complaints about the oodles of eerie atmosphere. You can almost smell the suffocating dankness in Affonso Beato's evocative, shadow-laced cinematography and production designer Therese DePrez's appropriately washed-out earth tones.

Adding to the heady textures is another elegantly off-center score by frequent David Lynch collaborator Angelo Badalamenti.

Dark Water

Buena Vista Pictures

Touchstone Pictures presents

a Pandemonium/Vertigo Entertainment production

Credits:

Director: Walter Salles

Screenwriter: Rafael Yglesias

Based on the novel Honogurai Mizuno Soko Kara by Koji Suzuki and the Hideo Nakata film Dark Water, produced by Taka Ichise

Producers: Bill Mechanic, Roy Lee and Doug Davison

Executive producer: Ashley Kramer

Director of photography: Affonso Beato

Production designer: Therese DePrez

Editor: Daniel Rezende

Costume designer: Michael Wilkinson

Music: Angelo Badalamenti

Cast:

Dahlia Williams: Jennifer Connelly

Mr. Murray: John C. Reilly

Platzer: Tim Roth

Kyle: Dougray Scott

Veeck: Pete Postlethwaite

Mrs. Finkle: Camryn Manheim

Cecilia: Ariel Gade

Natasha/Young Dahlia: Perla Haney-Jardine

MPAA rating PG-13

Running time -- 100 minutes »

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The Ring Two

18 April 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Just when you thought it was safe to look at a video again, along comes "The Ring Two". This sequel to DreamWorks' highly successful 2002 scare movie, "The Ring", brings back cast members Naomi Watts and young David Dorfman, yet its makers are determined to move into a different realm than previous "Ring" movies. (This includes three hugely successful Japanese films and now the second American incarnation.) So they invent a new back story, create new supernatural ground rules and invest heavily in visual effects.

Thus, what made the "Ring" movies so scary -- the introduction of terror into everyday objects and rituals -- disappears into a F/X fest of rampaging deer, flooded ceilings, cracking walls and horrific visions. In other words, the series is now thoroughly Americanized even though the original Japanese director, Hideo Nakata, is at the helm. Domestic and international boxoffice prospects look stellar as only J-horror purists will care.

Both the original "Ringu" (1998) and DreamWorks' carbon copy played off the gimmick of a cursed videotape. After people watch the short tape, a phone rings and viewers have exactly a week to live. In the course of both movies, a female reporter realizes that by making a copy of that tape and letting someone else view the copy, the curse is lifted -- only to fall on the subsequent viewer. Which, of course, perpetuates the evil cycle.

Six months after the tragic events of the first film, reporter Rachel Keller (Watts) and son Aidan (Dorfman) flee Seattle to settle in a small coastal town in Oregon. Almost immediately, Rachel reports from a crime scene that looks eerily familiar: a dead teen with his face frozen in horror, an unmarked videotape and -- one new element -- the house is flooded.

Realizing what's up, she breaks into the house, steals the tape and destroys it in a bonfire. Which only antagonizes the malevolent ghost Samara (Kelly Stables), who is behind the tape. Samara, we know from the first film, is terrorizing the world in revenge for her murder by her own mother in a deep well.

After the opening moments, returning writer Ehren Kruger starts to move the sequel away from the world of TV sets and ringing phones by rejigging the rules governing Samara so she can more or less materialize at will. The movie borrows from "The Omen" and "The Exorcist" in making Samara's main objective to be the co-habitation of Aidan's body. Thus, Rachel faces a dilemma -- Aidan is now both her beloved son and a thoroughly evil ghost. What's a mom to do?

In another rule introduced, for no apparent logic other than it helps Kruger past tricky plot points, Samara can hear all conversations between Rachel and her son except when they sleep. So all sorts of clues get passed to Rachel by Aidan in their dreams.

This is an unusually sloppy film as plot threads dangle at the finish and peripheral characters scarcely register. Simon Baker, playing Rachel's colleague at the local newspaper, has little to do other than baby-sit. Sissy Spacek turns up in a pivotal scene in ghastly white makeup and long, stringy black hair that makes her look like someone done up as Michael Jackson for Halloween.

Nakata keeps interiors and exteriors dark even in daytime, and images of water are everywhere. Gabriel Beristain's camera is constantly in motion, often on a crane, which gives the movie a nervous, gliding energy. An atmosphere of foreboding is aided by moody, insistent music developed, according to the credits, from "themes by Hans Zimmer."

While nearly every shock comes at predictable moments, there is genuine ingenuity behind many, and the movie is surprisingly fresh for one made by a guy on his third go-round with the same material. No doubt, Nakata was energized by the American setting and cast and access to state-of-the-art visual effects.

THE RING TWO

DreamWorks

DreamWorks Pictures presents a Parkes/MacDonald production

Credits:

Director: Hideo Nakata

Screenwriter: Ehren Kruger

Based on the novel by: Koji Suzuki

Based on the film by: The Ring/The Spiral Production Group

Producers: Walter F. Parkes, Laurie MacDonald

Executive producers: Mike Macari, Roy Lee, Neil Machlis, Michele Weisler

Director of photography: Gabriel Beristain

Production designer: Jim Bissell

Music: Hans Zimmer, Henning Lohner, Martin Tillman

Costume designer: Wendy Chuck

Editor: Michael N. Knue

Cast:

Rachel: Naomi Watts

Mark Rourke: Simon Baker

Aidan: David Dorfman

Dr. Temple: Elizabeth Perkins

Martin: Gary Cole

Evelyn: Sissy Spacek

Jake: Ryan Merriman

Emily: Emily VanCamp

Evil Samara: Kelly Stables

MPAA rating: PG-13

Running time -- 109 minutes »

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'Ring 2's' $35.1 mil debut does circles around rivals

22 March 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

DreamWorks' The Ring Two snared $35.1 million on its debut to claim the top spot at the boxoffice this past weekend and the third-biggest opening ever in March, behind 20th Century Fox's Ice Age and Robots, which bowed with $43.6 million and $36 million, respectively. The horror film, a sequel to the sleeper hit The Ring, which opened to $15 million and went on to do $129 million domestically, carries a PG-13 rating and stars Naomi Watts and David Dorfman. Hideo Nakata, the director of the original Japanese films Ringu and Ringu 2, performed the directorial duties on Ring Two. It remains to be seen how high Ring Two will rise at the boxoffice. According to CinemaScore, a lukewarm 74% of moviegoers gave the film a positive nod -- a score that does not usually engender positive word-of-mouth. But the original Ring had a similar score of a 77% favorable grade, which didn't stop that film from garnering an enviably high multiple of 8.6 by the end of its run. »

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'Ring Two' tops weekend with $35.1 mil

21 March 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

DreamWorks' The Ring Two circled $35.1 million on its debut this weekend to nab the top spot at the boxoffice, a far cry from the $15 million opening of the first Ring film in 2002, according to Monday's final figures. But the original ended up with a nearly unheard of multiple of 8.6 -- the industry average being about 3 -- as it cruised to a final domestic tally of $129 million. The PG-13-rated Ring Two, starring Naomi Watts and David Dorfman and helmed by Hideo Nakata, who directed the original Japanese films Ringu and Ringu 2, fell shy of toppling the record for the biggest opening for a horror film. That record still safely belongs to Sony's The Grudge, also a remake of a Japanese horror film, with $39.1 million. Ring Two is the third-biggest opening ever in March. Fox's CG-animated Ice Age is tops ($46.3 million), with Fox's Robots ($36 million) the second biggest. Buena Vista's Ice Princess, starring Michelle Trachtenberg, was the only other wide release this weekend, with 2,501 playdates. The G-rated feature, aimed primarily at young female moviegoers and directed by Tim Fywell, didn't end up with the score that was hoped for as the romantic comedy/drama picked up a disappointing $6.8 million to place fourth. »

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'Ring Two' tops weekend with $35.1 mil

21 March 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

DreamWorks' The Ring Two circled $35.1 million on its debut this weekend to nab the top spot at the boxoffice, a far cry from the $15 million opening of the first Ring film in 2002, according to Monday's final figures. But the original ended up with a nearly unheard of multiple of 8.6 -- the industry average being about 3 -- as it cruised to a final domestic tally of $129 million. The PG-13-rated Ring Two, starring Naomi Watts and David Dorfman and helmed by Hideo Nakata, who directed the original Japanese films Ringu and Ringu 2, fell shy of toppling the record for the biggest opening for a horror film. That record still safely belongs to Sony's The Grudge, also a remake of a Japanese horror film, with $39.1 million. Ring Two is the third-biggest opening ever in March. Fox's CG-animated Ice Age is tops ($46.3 million), with Fox's Robots ($36 million) the second biggest. Buena Vista's Ice Princess, starring Michelle Trachtenberg, was the only other wide release this weekend, with 2,501 playdates. The G-rated feature, aimed primarily at young female moviegoers and directed by Tim Fywell, didn't end up with the score that was hoped for as the romantic comedy/drama picked up a disappointing $6.8 million to place fourth. »

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'Ring Two' tops weekend with $36 mil

20 March 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

DreamWorks' The Ring Two circled an estimated $36 million on its debut this weekend to nab the top spot at the boxoffice, a far cry from the $15 million opening of the first Ring film in 2002. But the original ended up with a nearly unheard of multiple of 8.6 -- the industry average being about 3 -- as it cruised to a final domestic tally of $129 million. The PG-13-rated Ring Two, starring Naomi Watts and David Dorfman and helmed by Hideo Nakata, who directed the original Japanese films Ringu and Ringu 2, fell shy of toppling the record for the biggest opening for a horror film. That record still safely belongs to Sony's The Grudge, also a remake of a Japanese horror film, with $39.1 million. Depending on how the numbers shake out, Ring Two will be the second- or third-biggest opening ever in March. Fox's CG-animated Ice Age is tops ($46.3 million), with Fox's Robots ($36 million) and Ring Two vying for the second biggest. Buena Vista's Ice Princess, starring Michelle Trachtenberg, was the only other wide release this weekend, with 2,501 playdates. The G-rated feature, aimed primarily at young female moviegoers and directed by Tim Fywell, didn't end up with the score that was hoped for as the romantic comedy/drama picked up a disappointing estimate of $7 million to place fourth. »

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'Ring Two' tops weekend with $36 mil

20 March 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

DreamWorks' The Ring Two circled an estimated $36 million on its debut this weekend to nab the top spot at the boxoffice, a far cry from the $15 million opening of the first Ring film in 2002. But the original ended up with a nearly unheard of multiple of 8.6 -- the industry average being about 3 -- as it cruised to a final domestic tally of $129 million. The PG-13-rated Ring Two, starring Naomi Watts and David Dorfman and helmed by Hideo Nakata, who directed the original Japanese films Ringu and Ringu 2, fell shy of toppling the record for the biggest opening for a horror film. That record still safely belongs to Sony's The Grudge, also a remake of a Japanese horror film, with $39.1 million. Depending on how the numbers shake out, Ring Two will be the second- or third-biggest opening ever in March. Fox's CG-animated Ice Age is tops ($46.3 million), with Fox's Robots ($36 million) and Ring Two vying for the second biggest. Buena Vista's Ice Princess, starring Michelle Trachtenberg, was the only other wide release this weekend, with 2,501 playdates. The G-rated feature, aimed primarily at young female moviegoers and directed by Tim Fywell, didn't end up with the score that was hoped for as the romantic comedy/drama picked up a disappointing estimate of $7 million to place fourth. »

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Boxoffice preview: 'Ring Two' should freeze out rest

18 March 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

After 20th Century Fox's Robots wowed the family audience last weekend, horror fans should move to the front of the line this weekend as DreamWorks unveils the sequel The Ring Two. At the same time, Buena Vista will make a bid for preteen girls with Walt Disney Pictures' Ice Princess. After Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) directed the first U.S. version of The Ring, Japanese director Hideo Nakata, who scored big with the two Japanese versions in this series, Ringu and Ringu 2, will make his U.S. directorial debut with the English-language sequel. Reuniting Naomi Watts with her young co-star David Dorfman, who plays her son, Ring Two sees the two characters relocating only to discover another case of death by videotape, which forces Watts to return to investigating the evil behind the character of Samara Morgan. Sissy Spacek joins the cast, almost 30 years after her horror debut in the classic Carrie. »

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Nakata has 'Eye' on Par redo

15 March 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

A few days before his The Ring Two opens, Hideo Nakata has signed on to helm The Eye for Paramount Pictures. C/W Prods. is producing. Eye centers on a blind woman who receives a cornea transplant. However, she gets more than she bargains for when she begins seeing ghosts and premonitions. Eye is an adaptation of the hit Hong Kong horror franchise; a third one is in the works. Vertigo's Roy Lee and Doug Davison are executive producing as is the original movie's Peter Chan. Ring Two is UTA-repped Nakata's first English-language film. He directed the first two Japanese Ringu movies as well as the Japanese version of Dark Water. He is attached to direct Out at New Line. »

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Goodman earns his partner stripes

12 January 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Carlos Goodman has become a partner at Bloom, Hergott, Diemer, Rosenthal & LaViolette, where he has begun working this week. He was a partner at Lichter Grossman Nichols Adler & Goodman, where he spent 12 years. Goodman represents directors Quentin Tarantino, Darren Aronofsky, Jonathan Glazer, Paul Greengrass, Tom Dey, Hideo Nakata, Clark Johnson, Kip Williams and Kevin Bra as well as actors, writers and producers. »

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10 items from 2005


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