February 2006 •Vol. 26 - No. 01


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Eight Below : These Eight Dogs
Deserve a Better Script

by The Blonde and The Maven
Film Columnists


This Walt Disney film is a true story inspired by the events of a 1957 Japanese Antarctic Expedition, which served as the basis for the hit Japanese film, Nankyoku   Monogatari (which we do hope was a better film)! Eight Below is an action-adventure story about survival, loyalty and the strong bonds of friendship.

Eight Below is set in the extreme Antarctica wilderness. Three members of a scientific expedition set out on a journey to find rare artifacts. The daring team includes Jerry Shepard, played by Paul Walker ( Into the Blue and Running Scared ), his best friend Cooper, portrayed by Jason Biggs , and a rugged American geologist ( Bruce Greenwood - Capote and Thirteen Days ). Let us not forget the love interest who, in the end, saves the day. You go, girl! The trouble all begins when the very focused and single-minded geologist ignores the red light warnings to leave due to very bad weather conditions (typical)! With the luck of fate, they escaped some near-death experiences (after all, it is a DISNEY film). However, due to the continuing perilous weather conditions in Antarctica, (you guessed it), a sudden accident occurs upon our dynamic team. DANT, DANT, DAN! Now they are forced to leave behind their team of devoted, beloved sled dogs to quickly return home for medical help. These eight intelligent, not to mention beautiful dogs, are faced with the struggle for survival alone in the harsh, intense frozen wilderness of the Antarctic winter for over six months. Do they survive? Does the team return to look for the beautiful dogs? Does this film deserve you to go and find out?

The Blonde: To begin with, readers, the Maven was deathly ill with the flu, so I had to see this movie without her. Not only did I feel terrible for the Mav and miss her desperately, but to make matters worse, I was on a blind date. To be perfectly honest, the date was far better than this film. HOW SCARY IS THAT! I was so looking forward to this movie and perhaps that is why I was so strongly disappointed! This film was like no other film I care to relate it to! It was slow, predictable and displayed the absolute worst writing of dialogue I have heard on screen in a long time. The acting was, at best, mediocre. However, there were a lot of stellar acting performances given by the dogs. I give kudos to these animals. They displayed the only on-screen acting that moved me in any way. They were superb! They give Lassie a run for her money! On a more positive note, the cinematography and locations were breathtaking. You will almost wish you were there. The dogs were so wonderful to watch; not only were they gorgeous, but they were also smart. It would be nice if people got along and cared about each other as well as these animals do! In keeping with the positive aspect, Paul Walker has really amazing blue eyes. Continuing on, MANY things bothered me about this film. I don't know, but if I were setting out on a major expedition in the Antarctic, I think I might just check out the weather conditions before I left home. But HEY, THAT'S JUST ME! Furthermore, if I were told, ìGET OUT. GET OUT NOW. HURRY, DON'T STOP AND COLLECT $200, again, I don't know, I think I WOULD GET OUT! Maybe it's just a Blonde thing!


The Blonde: HERE'S A KLEENEX! The Maven is ACTULLAY so lucky she is very sick so that she didn't have to sit through this film. I cannot begin to tell you readers how much she would have HATED Eight Below ! The Mav could never have handled the pain and suffering these animals had to deal with in the wild, due to the negligence of the team. She would have definitely walked out! The one thing I did find amazing about this film was the bravery of the cast and crew to film this movie in such extreme cold weather conditions.


The Blonde: YUCK! Are you okay, Mav?

The Maven: Lying in bed LIFELESS with a red nose! SNEEZE! SNEEZE! SNEEZE!

The Blonde: BLESS YOU, MY DEAR MAV! I felt bad for the person who scored this film. The entire burden of any emotions at all (other than the dogs acting parts) were placed upon them.


The Blonde: BLESS YOU, AGAIN! You will need A LOT OF POPCORN to get you through this film! If you love beautiful and amazing dogs, heavenly scenery, and a ton of snow-filled scenes, than you might just enjoy this film. It did have a very sweet ending, again, due to the dogs! It doesn't, however, make up for the other long, HO-HUM, two hours. I rate it a D, for don't go. If you must see it, just wait for it to come out on cable.

The Maven: Taking more meds. Cough! Cough! Blowing nose! NOW running to the bathroom.

The Blonde: HOPE SHE MAKES IT! If you ignore my warning of taking a hard cold NO on this film, for your moving snacks go ahead and have a Zero Bar some Snow Caps Candy and a Blizzard to wash it down with!



by The Maven and The Blonde
Film Columnists

Annapolis was written by Dave Collard ( Out of Time ) and directed by Justin Lin . You may remember when, a couple of years ago, Justin, was lauded at Sundance for his directorial success, Better Luck Tomorrow , about a group of bright Asian kids who find their way to criminal activity. Annapolis is nothing like his previous success.

The main character is Jake Huard, played by James Franco ( Spider Man and Tristan and Isolde ), an intense young man determined to fulfill his mother's dream, and his, of attending the US Naval Academy. His father does not share this dream and would rather his son get into the union and build the navy ships, rather than command them. Along comes Lieutenant Commander Burton, played by Donnie Wahlberg ( Dreamscape and Band of Brothers ), who informs Jake that his application has been accepted. Right away, Jake finds himself outclassed by his fellow plebes. To make matters worse, Midshipman Lt. Cole, portrayed by Tyrese Gibson ( Four Brothers and 2 Fast 2 Furious ), is his immediate commanding officer and thinks Jake is not fit to lead men. The only place Jake shows aptitude is in the boxing ring. It just so happens (doesn't it always) that there is a yearly competition, called The Brigades, where students, as well as some officers, compete for championship titles. This is the only time a superior officer can be struck by a student. Jake begins training with his very attractive 'teacher,' Ali, played by Jordana Brewster ( The Fast and the Furious and The Faculty ), who, for some reason, knows a lot about boxing. Also aiding Jake in his training is Lt. Comdr. Burton, who never quite explains his interest in Jake.

Will Jake be able to beat Cole? Will you care if he does? Are naval cadets allowed to wear as much make-up as Ali wears?

The Blonde: Well, this film certainly surprised me. I thought it was going to be more of a military film, not a boxing film! Annapolis was like An Officer and a Gentlemen (only not as good) meets Private Benjamin (only not as funny) meets Rocky (only not as cool) meets Top Gun (only not as sexy). Before I get into the film, I want to state that I would love to bring my 13-year-old daughter to be trained there for a couple of weeks. She would appreciate my house rules a lot more! About the film though, it was typical, predictable, done before and not all that original of a story; however, it was still enjoyable. About Ali's makeup, I don't think the real naval cadets would even care to put it on. I thought her makeup was well done and a lot more creative and put together than this film!

The Maven: I was wondering if James Franco had a headache each day from scowling so much. These characters were kind of boring. No one showed much personality at all. There were enough clichés in the film to fill a dozen movies. The acting was good. It was the writing and directing that was bad. When I say the acting was good, I mean, considering the lame dialogue, I enjoyed the story. Franco and Tyrese were very easy on the eyes. The boxing scenes were shot well and the uniforms were pressed well and were really white. Please, Blonde, interrupt me anytimeÖ.

The Blonde:   What detergent do you think they used to get them so whitey white?   It must be another one of those military secrets. Ya know, honor, truth and integrity are one thing. Being a rat fink, tattletale is a whole other ballgame. What was up with the arrogant character Loo? What a creep. I did love Twins. What a sweet, kind, team player he was. I wish it turned out better for him, though. I would have written his fate differently. Hey Mav, why (in a movies), when a group of men are punished during training by having to work outside all night, is it ALWAYS RAINING? Can't it, for ONCE, be a beautiful, cool night with a full moon? Not to change the subject, but don't you think the guy who played Jake, James Franco, looks and acts like James Dean?

The Maven: Apparently, the casting director and producers of the new TNT bio-pic on James Dean agree with you because he's the star of it!


The Maven: Annapolis is all about integrity. How can you have integrity without truth? In order to be a good leader, you have to face the truth. Yes, I know George W. can't handle the truth, but HE didn't go to Annapolis now, did he? Also, I agree ÖAli's makeup is great.

The Blonde:   Do you think she gets it at Sephora or at her local drug store? Hey Maven, I just want you to know that I am YOUR Mississippi!

The Maven: YES, I KNOW!


The Maven: Instead of commenting on the formulaic movie, why don't we talk about the other films we saw this past week?

The Blonde: Yeah! It was too much of a formula movie and predictable, too!

The Maven: We're going to have to work on those five or more letter words, aren't we? Meanwhile, Albert Brooks missed the mark on his latest film, Comedy in the Muslim World . I love Albert, but he took the wrong turn on this one,

The Blonde: I love Albert too! It's just, how do you go from brilliance like Defending your Life , Muse and Mother , to this NOT funny and terrible film. It was almost as if he knew, but didn't care. It appeared that he wanted nothing more than to deliver a message to the world, that there is TOO MUCH OUT SOURCING OF AMERICAN JOBS! Speaking of messages, what books do you think Oprah will suggest to her reading club this week?

The Maven: Below the belt Blonde, even for you! I give Oprah credit for going on national television admitting she was fooled herself and confronting James Frey!

The Blonde: I AGREE, and I love Oprah too!

The Maven: I ran to the theater to see Nanny McPhee . Ever since I first heard Emma Thompson mention that she was writing a screenplay (the first screenplay she wrote since Sense and Sensibility ) based on short stories by Christianna Brand, Nurse Matilda , I was enthralled. It was a gothic tale of the strict nanny, with magical powers, that shows seven children that they are basically good! They learned to use their own resourcefulness and wisdom to put things right, instead of using it to cause mayhem. The vibrant colors that production designer Michael Howells used gave the film its fairytale feel. I loved every minute of it.

The Blonde: I loved it as well and give it an A. I know that it was a children's film, but I must say that it took me back to being a child and believing again in fairytales. It was sweet, funny, warm, imaginative, romantic and magical! I was also happy that it was filled with morals. It was a precious film and one of my favorites this year. It really should become a classic as far as I am concerned. Nanny McPhee was like Lemony Snicket meets Mary Poppins without the spoonful of sugar! Bravo to Emma for having the tenderness and courage to make this film and story a reality.

The Maven: Oh, let's get back to this formulaic film.

The Blonde: You mean the predictable film?

The Maven: Oh you poor sweet Blonde, go have some coffee!

The Blonde: I have my Starbucks latte right here!

The Maven: NEVER MIND! In closing, why would a movie with a potential to accent the Navy at war (Iraq) choose instead to focus on a yearly boxing tournament?

The Blonde: Is that a trick question?

The Maven: Well, it wasn't meant to be, but perhaps it might have been for you! Annapolis wasn't a BAD movie. It's just that it could have been so much better. I rate it a C- for completely wasting my time on something I could catch on cable in a few months.

The Blonde: I thought the best and most exciting part of this film was the final fight scene. I thought it was not only acted well, but staged and directed well, too. It was the only time in this film, other than the one scene with Twins, that you felt some kind of urge to root for any character or even had any feelings or emotions for them.

The Maven: That's not true. We liked Ali's makeup and rooted to see more of it in the next scene.

The Blonde: Okay, true! Now, after I said the above statement, this should have not been a Rocky film, but a root for the underdog cadet kind of film! I rate Annapolis a C--. Don't bother going, readers! It is just the same-ole-same-ole kind of film that is just made to make money! If you ignore our warnings, then for your movie snacks go ahead and have BOX of Milk Duds (as this film was a big dud) or a BOX of Nerds or a BOX of animal Crackers or a BOX ofÖ

The Maven: Take your coffee and let's go! I think they get your BOX-ing drift.

Match Point
Like a Tennis Ball, Sometimes Life Can Land on
Top of the Net, but Does it Fall Forward or Backward?

 by The Maven and The Blonde
Film Columnists

Match Point is a drama about ambition and obsession, the seduction of wealth and the relationship between love and sexual passion. Most importantly, the story reveals the huge part “luck” plays on our lives. You can have great skill and drive, but it all comes down to luck.
Chris Wilton is an Irishman from an austere, poor family. He is a talented tennis player, so he turns professional but realizes he doesn't have the ambition and drive needed to go all the way. He does, however, have enough ambition to instruct the wealthy country club types in tennis. Chris is played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Bend it Like Beckham and recently TV's Elvis), who never played tennis before, but is Irish. Chris reads Dostoevsky and has a fondness for opera. The fondness for opera is lucky for him because it leads to an easy friendship with a pupil of his, Tom Hewitt. Tom, played by Matthew Goode (Chasing Liberty) is an amiable fellow from a very wealthy family. He offers Chris a seat in his family box at the Royal Opera House. At the opera, Chris meets Chloe, Tom's sister, who is immediately smitten with him. Chloe, portrayed by Emily Mortimer (Lovely and Amazing and Bright Young Things) is bright, pretty and a little naive. When Chris comes to the family manse for the weekend, she sets her sights on him and plunges in with all her heart. Also visiting the family is Tom’s girlfriend, Nola Rice,played by Scarlett Johansson (Lost in Translation and The Girl with the Pearl Earring). Nola is a naturally sexy beauty who can't help but attract men. Chris is drawn to her, but doesn't act on his desire, yet. Meanwhile, Chloe wants to help Chris move along in the business world. Her father, Alec Hewitt, played by Brian Cox (The Bourne Identity and Red Eye) suggests a leg up into his corporate world. He sees that his daughter likes Chris and, since he himself likes the boy, he doesn't hesitate to help. Chris feels a little trapped by things moving so speedily in his favor, but he does like the privileged lifestyle being with Chloe brings him, so he accepts the help up, gracefully. While things are moving along with Chloe and Chris, there is still that attraction between Nola and Chris. She and Chris are both outsiders in the wealthy world that the Hewetts live in and both would like to enjoy the perks their respective lovers bring them. When Tom breaks off his relationship with Nola and she moves away, Chloe and Chris marry. He is moving up in the company and Chloe is now obsessed with getting pregnant. For some reason, it's just not happening. Suddenly, Chris runs into Nola and all of that lust he felt before, returns. He wants to see her, but she doesn't see why she should get involved with a married man. Chris is very persistent and she finally gives himher number. This can only lead to complications, but what would a Woody Allen movie be without them?
Match Point won rave reviews at the Cannes Film Festival and critics everywhere are saying it's one of Allen's best! He has written two characters that make some really sleazy choices in their lives and one who is so driven by lust that it leads to a dreadful compulsion. Go and see who you root for!
The Blonde: I know the Mav and I will be on different sides of the net on this film. I thought this film was marvelous and twisted all at the same time. I must say that Match Point really caught me off guard and I found myself enthralled watching every second, even though it did take a while to get off a good volley. I really thought this was a wonderful stretch for Woody! I surprisingly found it different from most of his other films. It appeared that Woody even changed his directing style, rhythm and pace with this film as well. Match Point was like Crimes and Misdemeanors meets Murder with Pictures and Key Largo meets The Murder in the Red Barn all meet up with Scott Peterson! What I found the most interesting about this film is Woody Allen’s ability to survive being out of Manhattan for the filming. He must have gone home on breaks to get through it! He hates leaving his city that he loves so much. I guess London works for him as well. Don’t get me started on Camilla!
The Maven: Before I begin, I have to take a moment to yell at THE BLONDE about last week’s review. In the film we were commenting about last week, it is Heath Ledger not Keith Ledger!
The Blonde: You mean Bareback Mountain? Keith, Heath, smeath! The bottom line is that the guy gave the most stellar performance of his career and the movie was great!
The Maven: IT IS BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN AND IT IS HEATH. Now, that that is corrected, I will continue! It’s not that we are on different sides of the net; it’s just that I would rather not be playing. I agree with you that the movie was interesting and I might add provocative! In fact, this was Woody’s best writing yet! There was no whiney neurotic guy getting on my nerves. None of the characters were so lost in a stereotype that you might get bored with them. Woody created a mystery about Chris. You never really knew what drove him. Yes, he was enamored with the lifestyle that Chloe could give him, but HE wasn’t the pursuer in that relationship. Woody never let us see into Chris, we just saw him reacting to his circumstances.
The Blonde: I don’t necessarily agree with you that this is Woody’s BEST writing, but it certainly was very well done. Is it just me or have you noticed that Woody’s films all involve an over-abundant fixation on sex and relationships that are very complicated, strange or sick? I wonder if he is projecting his own life through his films. Continuing on, in this film, I hated the mother, didn’t mind the dad too much, really liked the brother (cute as well), and felt bad for Chloe as she lives in a wonderland of being totally naive, innocent and emotionally blind. I mostly felt pity for Nola. She has no direction, confidence or self-esteem! As for our lead, THE GOOD LOOKING Chris, WELL, I really loathed his character. He is an opportunist, a user, a cheat and a total arrogant heartless liar; oh yes, and selfish, self absorbed and self-centered! And those are his good points! I’ve been with his type!
The Maven: I disagree with you about Chloe’s brother, Tom! He was too emotionally shallow. The man was as bland as you can get. Nola was sad, though. She appeared to have it all, but underneath she was the needy one. I also loathed Chris. Wasn’t it funny that, in the end, you wanted him to win? THAT was the genius of Woody’s writing!
The Blonde: First of all, Tom was shallow, but his gorgeous looks make that a wash! By the way, I have seen a lot more bland then Tom! Furthermore, Nola was more than needy, she was down right desperate! You are right however, about how we were all rooting for the unlikable Chris in the end. It reminded me of the movie, The Getaway, where you root for the bad guys. I think Woody just understands human nature as we all actually do root for the underdog. I really did like this film. It truly captivated me. It started out slow, but did eventually build and build into an intriguing tale. This was not a totally original storyline, but it was uniquely written. I really loved how the ending surprised me. I am not easily fooled, so this was fun. Speaking of fun, or making fun of, what is up with Hillary Duff’s cheek implants? Is she kidding? I believe in plastic surgery to enhance one’slooks, but man, who is Hillary now?
The Maven: I don’t know about that. Are you sure she had them? I mean, YOU HAVE BEEN WRONG BEFORE! Who was your source on this bit of gossip?
The Blonde: My 13-year-old daughter and her girlfriend at this week’s sleepover party!
The Maven: OH WELL THEN, end of discussion. Far from me to ever argue with two teenage girls. I do think, however, that she has gotten way too skinny.
The Blonde: There’s no such thing as houses or diamonds being too big or EVER being too skinny. Did you also hear about Britney Spears being pregnant again?
The Maven: I take it that you got this info from the same source as your other gossip?
The Blonde: Do you have a problem with that?
The Maven: AH, NO, but our readers will! I just have to say that Scarlett is amazing. She was 19 when she made this film. Her body of work (no pun) up to this point is simply astounding. I read that Kate Winslet was originally cast in the role of Nola. What a break for Scarlett that Kate wanted to spend more time with her family.
The Blonde: I love Kate and her acting, but I just don’t see her in the role of Nola at all! Continuing on, I thought all of the acting in this movie was not only believable (for unbelievable characters), but so well done. It made this film a pleasure to watch. I am so happy Woody is back on top. He needed a box-office hit. Talk about a Hollywood survivor!
The Maven: The look of this movie also sold it. Cinematographer Remi Adefarafin’s (In Good Company and About a Boy) architectural choices lent a coolness that belied the nastiness of the story. Everything had such clean, crisp lines to it. There was sophistication on every corner but, under it all, were some evil machinations.
The Blonde: Sounds like the Royal family!
The Maven: This film went from a civilized drama about wealthy English people and tennis to a thriller involving lust and compulsion. Through it all, you see how hard work is not the only thing that helps you achieve your goals in life. Luck and chance determines so much more! The writing made this film intriguing to watch. The acting kept it in my mind long after the film was over. I rate it a B for bowling me over with a story that will provoke moral discussions for weeks to come.
The Blonde: This film’s characters were like Jerry Springer of the rich!
The Maven: No, they were more like the Maury guests or perhaps even Oprah!
The Blonde: Whatever! I totally and surprisingly enjoyed this film and everything about it from the casting to the directing. I rate Match Point a B+. For your film snacks bring some Lucky Charms Cereal, which symbolizes the moral of this story being based on luck.
P.S: If you are in the mood for a lovely, romantic old-fashioned film, see The New World. The film is slow, but charming and sweet! And if you want to see brilliant acting which will most certainly earn lead Phillip Seymour-Hoffman an Oscar nomination, see Capote. See you at the movies!

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