August 14, 2004

Fall movie preview.

The big Fall movie preview issue of Entertainment Weekly arrived in the mail today, and on the cover is my personal favorite actor, Johnny Depp. Not only is he clean shaven now, but he's got his hair combed back quite elegantly and he's wearing a suit. He looks quite like my father in the pencil drawing that I keep on the mantel. I'm having a bit of trouble getting past the cover! Hmm… the cover folds out and there are sixteen small pictures of various Fall movie stars. One of them is Maggie Gyllenhall, who looks uncannily like my own mother as a young girl. Okay, I'm finished with the cover. On to the magazine. Here's what caught my eye:

1. "Seinfeld" is coming out on DVD with "deleted scenes, blooper reels, an alternate version of the pilot, and cast commentaries."

2. Ereka Vetrini, Omarosa's nemesis from "The Apprentice," will be Tony Danza's sidekick on the new "Tony Danza Show." It's a talk show. Yeah, Ereka can talk.

3. Jamie Foxx, playing the role of Ray Charles in the biopic "Ray, " "wore prosthetics (modeled on Charles' actual eyes) to simulate the singer's blindness." He asserts that this was needed to avoid "cheating" as he moved around. It would be unaesthetic without prosthetics. But acting is faking it in all sorts of ways. Among the great actors who played blind sans eye prosthetics are: Audrey Hepburn and Bette Davis and Gabrielle Anwar and Patty Duke and Virginia Cherrill. The movies seem to prefer blind women to blind men, but I note the great Mr. Muckle in my all-time favorite comedy "It's a Gift." And the guy in "Butterflies Are Free." Ah! The best performance by a male actor as a blind character was Al Pacino. Hmm… and there was good old Gabrielle Anwar as his love interest. What has become of of Gabrielle anyway? Oh, and another fine performance by a male as a blind character was Gene Hackman. It seems blind men are funny and blind women are dramatic. You can think about why, and think about whether Foxx's film will be a hit. He sure looks like Ray Charles in the photograph. He's also, according to EW, a fine pianist--he went to college on a piano scholarship. So he'll be doing all the piano playing as Ray. Nice fact to know: Ray Charles, who died in June, was able to witness the final cut of the film.

4. John Travolta and Joaquin Phoenix play firefighters in "Ladder 49," which is supposed to be better than "Backdraft," which real firefighters hate (because it's unrealistic). The filmmakers want you to think "Black Hawk Down."

5. They remade "Alfie," with Jude Law as Michael Caine. I've never bothered to watch the Michael Caine one, so why should I care? Well, Law is much cuter than Caine.

6. So what's the Christian Bale diet? "I just didn't eat." He got down to 120 pounds (he's 6'2"). He also only slept 2 hours a night. What role required all that? Some paranoid guy in "The Machinist." He's bulked back up for "Batman."

7. New Alexander Payne movie. "Sideways." I loved "Election" and "After Schmidt" was pretty good. Good lord, this new film is set in a wine-tasting milieu!

8. "The Grudge"—they've hired the director of the original Japanese film ("Ju-on") to do the Hollywood version. Takashi Shimizu. It stars Sarah Michelle Gellar, who looks just like Gwyneth Paltrow in this picture.

9. Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet together at last! "Finding Neverland." A biopic of J.M. Barrie. I hope it's good, because this is one I'd like to see.

10. Kevin Spacey directs himself in a biopic of Bobby Darin. "Beyond the Sea." How could that possibly be good? Spacey is eight years older than Darin was when he died. And who is interested in the life of Bobby Darin? That's just crazy! It seems the only reason for this is that Spacey has always looked a bit like Bobby Darin. What's next for Kevin? A biopic of Lee Harvey Oswald?

11. It's biopic year for the Oscar-craving actors as Leonardo DiCaprio plays Howard Hughes (with Martin Scorsese directing) in "The Aviator." There really is some fascination in seeing Cate Blanchett impersonate Katharine Hepburn and Kate Beckinsale impersonate Ava Gardner.

12. Jim Carey as Lemony Snickett. He rides a Segway. Okay.

13. "Proof," "Closer" … I guess I'm supposed to care about these Oscar-y productions. I'll wait for the reviews. And even if they are good, I'll probably resist, because I still remember getting hoodwinked into seeing "The Hours." Prestige movies for women: leave me alone!

14. Then there's the question: What Don Cheadle movies can I see in December? There's "Hotel Rwanda," in which Cheadle plays the role of Paul Rusesabagina, who saved the lives of 1200 Tutsis in 1994 (a great story). And there's "The Assassination of Richard Nixon," a political thriller that also stars Sean Penn and Naomi Watts.

15. They're making a film of "Get Smart," with perfect casting: Steve Carell.

16. A current film I'd buy right now if it were on DVD: "Los Angeles Plays Itself." It's a documentary about L.A. as it appears in the movies.

17. Ah! Finally, a decent DVD of "Purple Rain." Make sure you get the 20th Anniversary version. Don't buy this one.

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