9 items from 2004
New Line Cinema has acquired the nonfiction best seller He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth To Understanding Guys by former Sex and the City writers Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. The writers also will adapt the book for New Line. Overseeing the project for the studio are execs Mark Ordesky, Kent Alterman, Swanna MacNair and Michele Weiss. Not That Into You uses a comic question-and-answer format to teach women how to stop kidding themselves when men just aren't interested. The first chapter is titled "He's Just Not That Into You If He Isn't Asking You Out." The book goes through a list of excuses including "Maybe He Doesn't Want To Spoil Our Friendship" or "Maybe He's Intimidated by Me." »
Screened at the Toronto International Film Festival
The Tony-winning success of Hairspray might have made him a mainstream darling, but John Waters has returned to trashy form with what is unquestionably his most outrageous film since those heady Pink Flamingos days.
A giddy sex farce starring Tracey Ullman as a repressed Baltimore resident (where else?) who turns into a raging sex maniac after receiving a freak head injury, this overheated ode to depravity and general bad taste kicks some silly smut in the face of today's conservative-leaning, post-wardrobe-malfunction society.
Granted, Waters has problems keeping it up -- the content really struggles to sustain a feature-length format -- but the picture, wearing its NC-17 rating like a badge of dishonor, should nevertheless emerge as his best boxoffice bet since 1994's Serial Mom.
Ullman is Sylvia Stickles, a generally unhappy woman with a horny husband (Chris Isaak) and a go-go dancer daughter with ridiculously enlarged breasts (an unrecognizable Selma Blair) and a stage name of Ursula Udders, whose bouts of exhibitionism have landed her in home detention.
One day en route to her family-operated Pinewood Park and Pay convenience store, Sylvia sustains a smack in the head that turns her into a card-carrying sex addict around the same time she's spotted by writhing tow-truck driver Ray-Ray Perkins (Johnny Knoxville -- a Watersian name if there ever was one), who believes her to be the long-awaited 12th apostle of erotic awakening.
While Ray-Ray, whose battle cry is "Let's go sexin'!" inducts her into his inner circle of fetishists, Sylvia's mother, Big Ethel (Suzanne Shepherd), along with libido-hating neighbor Marge the Neuter (Mink Stole), launch a campaign to take back their neighborhood from all the disgusting deviants.
Taking his stylistic cue from cautionary movies like Reefer Madness and old high school health films, Waters also throws vintage sexploitation flicks and musty nudist camp clips into the naughty mix, while his longtime production designer Vincent Peranio heightens the kitschy landscape with suggestive-looking foliage.
Waters also spent a lot of time coming up with wacky euphemisms like "yodeling in the canyon," while Ullman's Stickles refers to a part of her anatomy as her "axis of evil."
There also seems to be nothing too taboo for the rest of his willing cast, which also includes Patricia Hearst (in her fifth Waters film) and David Hasselhoff in a sequence so tasteless the late Divine would have smiled approvingly.
Fine Line Features presents This Is That Killer Films/John Wells production
In association with City Light Pictures
A John Waters film
Director-screenwriter: John Waters
Producers: Christine Vachon, Ted Hope
Executive Producers: Mark Ordesky, Mark Kaufman, Merideth Finn, John Wells, The Fisher Brothers
Director of photography: Steve Gainer
Production designer: Vincent Peranio
Editor: Jeffrey Wolf
Costume designer: Van Smith
Music: George S. Clinton
Music supervisor: Tracy McKnight
Sylvia Stickles: Tracey Ullman
Ray-Ray Perkins: Johnny Knoxville
Caprice Stickles: Selma Blair
Vaughn Stickles: Chris Isaak
Big Ethel: Suzanne Shepherd
Marge the Neuter: Mink Stole
Paige: Patricia Hearst
Dora: Jackie Hoffman
Himself: David Hasselhoff
Running time -- 89 minutes
MPAA Rating: NC-17 »
Screened at the Venice International Film Festival
VENICE -- There is nothing about Nicole Kidman's character Anna in Birth that suggests she is stupid, tormented or coming apart at the seams. Nonetheless, when a 10-year-old boy claims that he is the reincarnation of her husband, who died a decade earlier, it doesn't take long before she says, "Oh, right, yes".
You want to scream, like the boy seeing the emperor's lack of clothes. Birth is a paranormal mystery without a spine. It has no suspense because it has no belief in itself. It doesn't take the trouble to suggest any reasons for why an intelligent, upper class New Yorker should make the choices she does.
Kidman looks great in the film with an urchin haircut and beautifully cut clothes but the film has no payoff and there's nothing she can do about it. Fans waiting for another hit from the Oscar-winner will be disappointed.
Director Jonathan Glazer's first film was Sexy Beast, a different cup of tea that allowed Ben Kingsley to snarl all over the screen in Cockney Spain. Here, it's all Central Park West elegance and soft-spoken class.
The film opens with Anna's husband apparently dying beneath a bridge while jogging in the snow. Nothing is revealed about him or his widow but it apparently takes her 10 years before she's ready to contemplate another relationship, probably something of an Upper East Side Manhattan record.
When a 10-year-old who says his real name is Sean (Cameron Bright) shows up at her engagement party to Joseph (Danny Huston) and declares that he is, in fact, her dead husband Sean, it casts a bit of a pall over the festivities. If the screenplay bothered to establish something in Anna's makeup or emotional state that would help suspend disbelief then her gradual acceptance that the boy is who claims to be might not be so laughable.
As it is, pretty soon Anna's sharing a bathtub naked with the kid and before long she's planning to run off with him, promising to marry him in 11 years when he turns 21. The boy, who seldom smiles and has a deep manly voice, scares Anna's husband-to-be enough that he goes berserk, smashes up the drawing room and gives the lad a beating. No one suggests that Joseph's violent over-reaction would give pause to most brides-to-be.
Lauren Bacall is on hand as Anna's mother but even her droll line-readings can do little to bolster things. And Anne Heche drops by as a shifty woman whose involvement with the boy may complicate things. But nothing hangs together and when it ends it simply disappears from your mind.
New Line Productions
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Screenwriters: Jean-Claude Carriere, Milo Addica, Jonathan Glazer
Producers: Jean-Louis Piel, Nick Morris, Lizie Gower
Director of photography: Harris Savides
Production designer: Kevin Thompson
Editors: Sam Sneade, Claus Wehlisch
Costume designer: John Dunn
Music: Alexandre Desplat
Anna: Nicole Kidman
Young Sean: Cameron Bright
Joseph: Danny Huston
Eleanor: Lauren Bacall
Laura: Alison Elliot
Bob: Arliss Howard
Sean: Michael Seautels
Clara: Anne Heche
Clifford: Peter Stormare
No MPAA rating
Running time -- 100 mins »
Japanese entertainment major Shochiku has acquired Japanese distribution rights to The New World from New Line Cinema, the company said Friday. Set in America in the 1600s, The New World stars Colin Farrell, Christian Bale, Christopher Plummer and newcomer Q'orianka Kilcher, who plays Pocahontas in the film, which is currently in production. It's being produced by Sarah Green and executive produced by Bill Mechanic, Trish Hofmann, Rolf Mittweg and Mark Ordesky. "We anticipate tremendous demand for this film as it tells a fascinating and highly entertaining story and boasts a brilliant cast," Shochiku acquisitions manager Kazunori Moriguchi said. "Given these elements, we're confident that it will play well and will be very well received in the Japanese market." Previous titles acquired from New Line by Shochiku include the Lord of the Rings trilogy. »
New Line Cinema has purchased the tennis-themed Baby Got Backhand from screenwriter Colleen McGuinness. The pitch is based on McGuinness' personal experience of playing girls high school tennis in Long Island and winning the gold medal at the Empire State Games. McGuinness is writing for Fox's new Hawaiian-based drama North Shore. She also was a staff writer on Alicia Silverstone's Miss Match for NBC. Before that, McGuinness served as an assistant to New Line exec Richard Brenner. Brenner, along with Michael De Luca and Mark Ordesky, executive produced the short film For Mature Audiences Only, which McGuinness wrote and directed. McGuinness is represented by Untitled Entertainment, UTA and attorney Jason Hendler. »
Bosses of Nicole Kidman's latest movie Birth are defending the decision to include the actress in a bathtub scene with a 10-year-old boy. In the movie, the Oscar-winning actress' dead husband is reincarnated as a child, played by Canadian actor Cameron Bright, and it has elicited much outrage after it was revealed Kidman and her young co-star share a bathtub in one scene. But New Line Cinema's Mark Ordesky insists there's nothing in the movie to cause alarm. He says, "There is no physical contact between Nicole and Cameron. They are not nude in the bathtub. The scene was shot over Nicole's shoulder. (Cameron) is playing a grown man trapped in the body of a 10-year-old. When you see the performances in the context of the plot, it makes perfect sense. It is meant to be a provocative film, but not in a horrible or salacious way." Bright, who played Rebecca Romijn-Stamos' son in the movie Godsend, notes, "In one movie I did, I had an abusive father, and in another I had a father who was a pedophile. I've had a lot of really dark roles." Lauren Bacall also appears in the movie as Kidman's mother. »
Christopher Plummer has signed for passage to The New World, director Terrence Malick's take on the Pocahontas tale for New Line Cinema. Billed as equal parts historical epic and timeless love story, the project is set against the backdrop of 17th century America in the nascent Jamestown, Va., settlement where the culture of European explorers collided with that of Native Americans. It focuses on the relationship between explorer John Smith and young Indian princess Pocahontas. Colin Farrell already has been cast as Smith. Plummer will play Capt. Christopher Newport, an English officer among the initial settlers in the New World who serves as the first president of the Jamestown Colony. The project, scheduled for a July start in Virginia, is being produced by Sarah Green. Overseeing are Toby Emmerich, Mark Ordesky and Rolf Mittweg. Plummer's credits include The Sound of Music and A Beautiful Mind. He next appears in National Treasure and the Oliver Stone-directed Alexander. He also is the winner of two Tonys and two Emmys. He is repped by ICM. »
New Line Cinema has acquired The Zenith Man, a pitch about a true-life murder case from writer Mark Bailey. It is the first acquisition for New Line Prods. exec vp and chief operating officer Mark Ordesky since The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which he oversaw and executive produced, won the Oscar for best picture. Zenith centers on McCracken Poston, a lawyer in small-town Ringgold, Ga., who in 1997 was recovering from a failed run at Congress and a failed marriage. At the same time, Alvin Ridley, the town recluse, was charged with the murder of his wife, who had not left the inside of their home for 30 years. Poston agreed to defend Ridley, who was being vilified by the small town and media. »
Opens Wed., Dec. 17
NEW YORK -- An epic success and a history-making production that finishes with a masterfully entertaining final installment, New Line Cinema's adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" is a soaring legend in its own day and destined to be cherished for many ages to come. "The Return of the King" is the longest and most complicated of the three "Rings" films and probably fated to be the biggest moneymaker. Sure to be an Oscar contender in many categories and a breathtaking argument for director Peter Jackson winning every award there is to give, "King" has none of the usual deficiencies that frequently scuttle third films.
Opening unexpectedly with a flashback to the day when the twisted Gollum was a healthy Hobbit-like fisherman named Smeagol (Andy Serkis), who commits murder to possess the powerful One Ring, "King" deftly resumes the story after the events of "The Two Towers". After a brief encounter with the talking lord of the forest Treebeard (voiced by John Rhys-Davies), Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Theoden (Bernard Hill) and other survivors of the Battle of Helm's Deep go to ravished Isengard. Within minutes, we're reintroduced to the many characters, including Hobbits Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd), Rohan fighters Eomer (Karl Urban) and Eowyn (Miranda Otto), Faramir (David Wenham) of Gondor and the one new human character, Denethor (John Noble), the Steward of Minas Tirith, site of the next great showdown between the mighty forces of evil Sauron and the free peoples of Middle Earth.
Frodo and Sam (Elijah Wood and Sean Astin), guided by the vengeful Gollum (again a wondrous combination of special effects and Serkis' inspired performance), finally enter Mordor, but the divisive influence of the Ring almost ends the fellowship of the two heroic Hobbits. When the three infiltrators pass by Minas Morgul (the dead city where the Nazgul reside), they watch another army of Sauron march to battle under the command of the Witch-king.
Eventually, this Black Captain of the Nazgul, who rides one of the dragonlike beasts first seen in "Towers", has a fight with Eowyn and Merry in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, outside the walls of Minas Tirith, that readers have been waiting decades to see. It's a gloriously crowd-pleasing moment, while overall the lengthy siege is tremendously exciting and visually unparalleled.
Huge elephantlike Mumakil and trolls pushing the giant battering ram known as Grond join hordes of Orcs in a gargantuan assault on Minas Tirith, a fight which faithless Denethor turns away from when he gives into fear and fatherly pride by sending Faramir to certain death. It's the leadership-tested Gandalf (Ian McKellen) who commands the defense of the city. Although Denethor comes off too as enigmatic compared to the original material, he sure has a spectacular final scene.
Jackson and co-writers Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh make noteworthy departures from Tolkien, including such crucial moments as what happens when Frodo is finally standing on a ledge over the Crack of Doom inside the volcano where the ring must be destroyed, and how Aragorn makes use of the Army of the Dead that only he can command. Whole swaths of the book have been condensed and eliminated, but Jackson and company usually realize splendidly whatever they take on.
There are only brief moments with the saga's Elvish beauties: Arwen (Liv Tyler) refuses to abandon Aragorn. Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) makes a crucial connection with Frodo near the story's climax. Dwarf fighter Gimli (Rhys-Davies) provides much-appreciated humor with his sarcastic remarks. Fearless Elf bowman Legolas (Orlando Bloom) delivers the best battlefield action, while wise Elrond (Hugo Weaving) provides Aragorn with the restored sword that defeated Sauron long ago.
The thunderous conclusion to the story of the Ring that includes the end of Frodo's journey and the battle outside the Black Gate winds down to a sublime denouement, leaving only 20 minutes to wrap up when Tolkien took a hundred pages. The extended DVD should bind "King" and the other two films into one awesome movie deserving of regular revivals in theaters. But who can resist right now a classic fantasy adventure that never drags and is simply ravishing to look at thanks to the thousands of craftsmen, performers, animals and postproduction refiners?
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING
New Line Cinema
Director: Peter Jackson
Screenwriters: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
Based on the book by: J.R.R. Tolkien
Producers: Barrie M. Osborne, Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson
Director of photography: Andrew Lesnie
Production designer: Grant Major
Editors: Jamie Selkirk, Annie Collins
Costume designers: Ngila Dickson, Richard Taylor
Music: Howard Shore
Visual effects supervisor: Jim Rygiel
Frodo: Elijah Wood
Gandalf: Ian McKellen
Gollum/Smeagol: Andy Serkis
Aragon: Viggo Mortensen
Sam: Sean Astin
Gimli/Voice of Treebeard: John Rhys-Davies
Merry: Dominic Monaghan
Pippin: Billy Boyd
Arwen: Liv Tyler
Legolas: Orlando Bloom
Elrond: Hugo Weaving
King Theoden: Bernard Hill
Faramir: David Wenham
Eowyn: Miranda Otto
Eomer: Karl Urban
Denethor: John Noble
Galadriel: Cate Blanchett
Running time -- 200 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13
9 items from 2004
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