The excitement over David and Victoria Beckham's arrival in Los Angeles from the U.K. is mysterious for sure. (As Victoria put it with a certain understatement, "We're not Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.") It is also a quaint throwback to pure glamor. (Never mind that we're now outsourcing that, too.) They don't appear to have any causes or crippling complications. So far there's no scandal, just work and that W magazine layout. He will play soccer for the Galaxy. She will play at being a Spice Girl again.
That these two are instant Hollywood royalty is like something from the 1950s or the 1960s. But it also suggests that our own stars might be too complex and calculating for this kind of straightforward adulation. Celebrity worship has now become a moral issue: Paris Hilton is only slight less hateable after prison. The Jolie-Pitts seem to be using their fame to shame us into gazing at international atrocity instead. They're jaded about us. We're jaded back.
Posh and Becks have endured their share of scandal at home. Here they're just two kids trying to make a go of it. They indulge our old-fashioned shallowness. We'll wear his jersey. Or a co-worker's kid's classmate will. But you get it: Despite their tenuous Hollywood bona fides (Beckham was conspicuously absent from "Bend it Like Beckham" and the less said about "Spice World" the better), America is rooting for them both to stay beautiful and keep us distracted.
Directed by: Roland Joffe
Written by: Larry Cohen and Joseph Tura
Starring: Elisha Cuthbert, Daniel Gillies, Pruitt Taylor Vince
At: suburban theaters
Running time: 85 minutes
Rated: R (strong violence, torture, pervasive terror, grisly images, language, and some sexual material)
By Ty Burr
Scarier than anything in "Captivity" was the drive to Danvers I had to go through to see it. The new horror film, a wan, derivative entry in the torture-porn cycle, didnít screen for critics and is playing only in a few suburban multiplexes before scampering to DVD. This is whatís known as sneaking into town.
Itís a "Saw" rip-off with less smarts. (Take a moment, please, to allow that sentence to sink in.) Jennifer (Elisha Cuthbert of "24" and several not-so-hot movies) is a supermodel taken captive by a mysterious hooded man (Pruitt Taylor Vince); she awakens in a dungeon outfitted with surveillance cams and file drawers that pop out of the wall bearing unpleasant things.
Every so often sheís taken to a dank operating room, strapped to a table, and made to watch snuff films of previous victims. At one point, the villain forces her to drink a blender concoction made from eyeballs, ears, and less obvious body parts. Youíll probably want to skip the slushie on the way in.
Eventually the heroine discovers another captive, a hunk named Gary (Daniel Gillies), and the two trapped rats plot their revenge. Yes, itís one of those movies that deplores sadistic acts visited upon nubile, trussed-up women while indulging the audienceís pleasure in same.
"Captivity" is stylish in a low-budget way, but itís wholly pointless. Thereís a twist fans of the genre will see coming a mile away, not to mention plot holes the characters could escape through. More bothersome is that Cuthbertís characterís so bland (and the actress such a road show Kirsten Dunst) that itís tough to care what happens to her.
I found myself caring more for poor Roland Joffe, who has sunk from directing "The Mission" and "The Killing Fields" to this. The scriptís credited to Larry Cohen and Joseph Tura; Cohen, of course, is the B-movie veteran who has given us "Itís Alive," "Maniac Cop," and "Phone Booth," but his gift for inspired sleaze deserts him here (aside from the amusingly gruesome fate of Jenniferís Bichon Frise).
Finicky film freaks will recognize "Joseph Tura" as the name of Jack Bennyís character in the classic ĎĎTo Be or Not To Be,íí which means someoneís hiding under a pseudonym and itís probably Joffe. Anyway, the oddest thing about "Captivity" is that the movieís a Russian-American co-production shot in a Moscow studio. How nice that the two former enemy superpowers can at last agree on something: that the world needs more crappy horror movies.
The French Film Festival begins at the MFA, providing your chance to see some excellent Gallic flicks that will otherwise not be released in this country. Thank you, Bo. The Globe's Ethan Gilsdorf has the details.
Three can't-miss propositions this weekend, providing you can get past the mobs trying to see "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" (which isn't so bad itself):
"Rescue Dawn" -- It looks like "just" another POW survival story until you look at it through the lens of Werner Herzog movies, at which point it becomes eerily overwhelming. I don't know how Christian Bale does it, but he's a completely different guy in each movie. You can also get your classic Herzog fix at the Brattle, and if you haven't seen "Aguirre" yet, now's the time. A more apt metaphor for our current misadventures abroad I can't imagine.
"Talk to Me" -- Is there a greater joy these days than watching Don Cheadle act? He finally gets a live one in the role of Petey Greene, DC disc jockey of the 1960s. See this for him and for Kasi Lemmons' infectious filmmaking -- and for Taraji P. Henson (with Cheadle, above) -- rather than for the extended, problematic mope that sinks the last third.
"Lady Chatterley" -- Achingly slow, quiet, gentle, hot adaptation of an early version of the D.H. Lawrence novel. In French. Bring a sense of patience and your significant other.
Tonight kicks off the annual "Summer Double Features" series at the Harvard Film Archive, easily the finest conglomeration of hard-to-find oldies, cool surprises, and inspired pairings in town. (My God! Elaine May's "A New Leaf" next Thursday!) Check their calendar and mark yours accordingly -- the series is an education in itself.
If you know your graphic novels -- go ahead, call them comics for snobs -- you know Marjane Satrapi's "Persepolis" is one of the best reads of the last decade. Even the sequel was well done. Both are personal histories, telling of Satrapi's life under the mullahs of the Iranian revolution and her experiences in Europe after escaping. They're smart, feeling, witty, and drawn with appealingly dry black-and-white bluntness. If you haven't read them, go do so now.
Anyway, the news that the animated film version of "Persepolis" has actually turned out to be pretty good is heartening. They loved it in Cannes, in part because Catherine Deneuve, her daughter Chiara Mastroianni, and French film legend Danielle Darrieux provided the voices. Also because Satrapi herself co-wrote and co-directed the film, along with fellow comics artist Vincent Paronnaud. The film won the Jury Prize, pretty rare for an animated feature.
Great to hear, but when can we see it in the States? According to the Hollywood Reporter, by the end of this year -- but not with the original cast. Before you work yourself into a purist lather, remember that all the voices in any animated movie are dubbed, so it could work. Besides, Denueve will reprise her role as young Marjane's grandmother, this time in English, and Sean Penn and Iggy Pop have been signed on to play, respectively, the girl's father and uncle. Not your average Disney voice-over talent.
So it's a wait-and-see thing. Cross fingers they get someone good to play the lead (if you have suggestions, email me and I'll post them), and hope they include the original French version on the DVD.
Here's a link to the film's MySpace page. It's in French but impressively loopy, and it has some nice teaser clips.
Perhaps you missed this bit of amazement. But last week toward the end of Wimbledon, several alarming things happened, a few of them during the same match. The second ladies semi-final featured Justine Henin, the number one player in the world, against Marion Bartoli, a 22-year-old Frenchwoman who was seeded 18th and had never advanced to the second week of a grand slam event.
Henin had been coasting through the tournament and was widely expected to reach the final, having overcome, in the quarterfinals, a hampered Serena Williams (bum wrist = weak slice backhand). And coast she did. Henin won the first set easily, and she was also ahead in the second, playing confidently and intimidating her opponent with the variety of her shot-making and the size of her reputation.
Then according to Bartoli, the magic happened: She looked up into the grandstands on Centre Court and saw him. "I was focusing on Pierce Brosnan because he is so beautiful. I was just watching him. He was the only one - I said to myself, it's not possible I play so badly in front of him." From there, she turned the match around. The action on her groundstrokes didn't simply bewilder Henin, they shocked her off the court. The score of the final set was 6-1, and Bartoli, who's fitter than she looks (her father's wacko training regiment includes having her walk around with tennis balls taped to her heels), became a hero. Brosnan became something new for sports: an optical energy drink.
A wedding kept Brosnan from the final the following day, which is too bad since Bartoli was outplayed by Venus Williams. He sent Bartoli flowers as a sort of apology and congratulations. But as a gentleman he should consider planting himself at all her future matches.
Factoring in late-night screenings last Monday, "Transformers" had amassed $153 million by Sunday night, one of the best starts for a non-sequel property in recent memory. You know what that means, don't you? No, not sequels, although there'll assuredly be a "Transformers 2: Mission to Darfur" (if only). It means every toy you ever entertained squishy feelings of nostalgia for has now been green-lighted for production as of Monday morning. "Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots"? It's doubtless on its way, with The Rock and Tony Jaa getting first look at the script. "Operation"? It'll be a torture-porn horror movie a la "Hostel". "Bratz"? Oh, wait, that one's opening in August.
This also means that Michael Bay has newfound respect in Hollywood, and I say that with the heaviest of hearts.
"Transformers" played on 7,600 screens in 4,011 theaters, and the doubling-up accounted for the film's high $16K per-theater-average. "Ratatouille" was in almost as many theaters but not on as many screens, so it's PTA was a comparatively lower $7,000. The rat-tale held up fairly well its second weekend out, with $29 million bringing the total gross over the $100 million mark, but it's looking to be less of a box-office monster than other Pixar movies. (Who cares? It's still great.)
Two smaller entries to keep an eye on: "Rescue Dawn" (Werner Herzog directing Christian Bale) made a very strong $17K per theater at six houses, and creepy-kid chiller "Joshua," a Sundance hit, had an $8,000 PTA in the same number of venues. Both open in the Boston area this week ("Rescue" is terrific, and a lot of people like "Joshua," too, even if I'm not one of them.)
About Movie Nation
ContributorsTy Burr is a film critic with The Boston Globe.
Mark Feeney is an arts writer for The Boston Globe.
Janice Page is movies editor for The Boston Globe.
Tom Russo is a regular correspondent for the Movies section and writes a weekly column on DVD releases.
Katie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.
Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.
Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer for Boston.com.
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Look for new reviews by Ty Burr and Wesley Morris at the end of each week in multiple formats.