February 25 - March 3, 2005• Vol. 26 - No. 07

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—There’s a Fine Line Between Heaven and Hell

 by the Blonde and the Maven
Film Columnists
Constantine is loosely based on the graphic novels of Hellblazer by comic book legend Alan Moore. First-time movie director Francis Lawrence (music video director for Janet Jackson, Will Smith and Britney Spears, to name a few) takes on the huge job of transferring the story from pulp page to screen and gets it right.The main character is John Constantine, portrayed by Keanu Reeves (The Matrix and Something's Gotta Give), who was born with the curse/gift ability to see demons and angels in their true form. These intermediaries have been sent to earth to do the bidding of their respective commander in chief, i.e. Lucifer and G-d. As a young man, Constantine could no longer deal with these visions and the havoc they caused in his life, so he committed suicide. A doctor was able to revive him but his soul spent time in hell, and this condemned his soul there for eternity when he finally dies. Constantine does not want to return to hell, therefore he works as G-d’s exorcist, sending demons back to hell when they are reluctant to leave the bodies they posses. John believes that, by battling demons, he can score points in heaven and possibly save his soul from eternal damnation. He is aided by Chas, charmingly played by Shia LaBeouf (Holes and Even Stevens), who desperately wants to be like Constantine. Also helping is Father Hennessy, a drunk and not a very effective exorcist played by Pruitt Taylor Vince (Monster and Identity). There is also Beeman, portrayed by Max Baker (The Time Machine), a nervous, wily guy who procures the relics and holy ammo essential in defeating demons and their ilk. Along comes Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz from Runaway Jury and Confidence), a stoic police detective who is not convinced that her twin sister committed suicide. She seeks out Constantine, knowing the circles he travels in, to better help her understand what happened to her beloved sister. At first, John does not want to aid Angela, but when it seems demons are coming out of the psychic woodwork, he has a change of heart. Amid all the biblical mythology is the presence of the Archangel Gabriel, played by Tilda Swinton (The Deep End and Orlando), who seems to be ambivalent towards Constantine and his activities. All of this activity takes place in L.A.—not the Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills L.A. but a Latin influenced, seedier L.A. If that is not eerie enough, there is a bar that is run by an ex-witch doctor where the demons and angels can “hang-out” in neutral territory. Oh! By the way, Constantine can travel back to hell via electrocution to hunt, as he was an inmate there at one time and can return at will.    

The Blonde: Wow! Constantine was like The Exorcist meets White Noise meets Prophecy meets Raiders of the Lost Ark meets The Devil's Advocate meets Angels in America and What Dreams May Come. This poor guy, John, sees demons and tries to deal with them. I meet demons and marry them! Let this be a lesson to all you single girls out there!

The Maven: I loved the gothic horror atmosphere of the whole movie.

The Blonde: Oh, that just because you have a house full of teenagers.

The Maven: The intriguing occult mythology and catholic dogma has always fascinated me. The visual effects were terrific. The whole atmosphere of the film almost overshadowed the actors. Almost! Keanu can always be counted on to deliver and Rachel is stunning to watch. They were also together on screen in the film Chain Reaction. Their chemistry is good; they almost seem to like each other for real.

The Blonde: I felt this film was evasive and choppy. I wanted more direct details without as much fluff. They made you have to think too much when you left the theater, and I had too busy of a day to deal with all that dark stuff. The visuals WERE, however, exciting to watch. I love Rachel Weisz, as well. She is so natural. I think that she is way underestimated as an actress. She should be getter better parts in bigger films.

The Maven: Wasn't it a hoot to see Gavin Rossdale (Gwen Stefani's husband, lead singer of Bush) as Balthazar? Remember him from the tennis tournament we covered? You kept asking me who he was and why all those other photographers were around him.

The Blonde: Okay, let me get this straight. Gavin sings as the lead singer at the White House for President Bush when he isn't playing tennis or acting in films?

The Maven: NEVER MIND!  Go have another cup of coffee!

The Blonde: Okay, I will be back in five!  

The Maven: HELLO?  HELLO?

The Blonde: Okay! The Java Fitch is back! Have you seen that new stupid reality show about swapping wives? It is so terrible that it's good.

The Maven: How do you go from occult mythology and catholic dogma to a reality wife swapping show?


The Maven: HELLO? HELLO?

The Blonde: That's mean!

The Maven: I don't see this movie up for any awards except visual effects. It was still fun to watch if you are interested in biblical mythology and all that it entails. I rate this film a B for bravery in light of all the politics surrounding The Passion and the religious right.
The Blonde: You rate it a B? A B? I would have fallen asleep if it weren't for the two star actors being in the film. I was almost bored. I think our readers will be, too. I don't recommend this film for anyone but kids, and not young ones. I rate Constantine a D for dark. If you have to go, then I recommend you bring along some angel food from home to protect you from the dark side…don't waist popcorn on this film or your money.

P.S. The Maven: Have you decided what you're wearing to the Oscar's yet?

The Blonde: No, but it will either be the Gucci or the Halston number with my Manolo Blaniks heels. In addition, lots of diamond jewelry from Harry Winston for sure. What about you?

The Maven: My Louis Vuitton Nikes and my Missy E Sweats.  For jewels, I will wear my Wal-Mart rhinestones.

The Blonde: Over my dead body! You can borrow anything I have.  This is THE OSCAR'S we're talkin’ about!

The Maven: What about our hair?  Are we getting it done?

The Blonde: Of course José Eber is coming over to do mine.

The Maven: Oh, then I'm just going over to Regis in the mall after my grocery shopping.

The Blonde: Sometimes you just puzzle me!

The Maven: See you at my house at 6:00 for the Oscar's.

The Blonde:  See you at 6:00 sharp, but this time don't forget the red carpet like you did last year.

The Blonde and the Maven Do the Oscar’s

The Blonde: Well, it is OUR holy night Maven. This is the night of jewelry, designer clothes, who's with who and who is not with who anymore, limos, lavish parties, OH, and of course, the little gold statue which can up a stars salary by millions each picture. I am rooting for Chris Rock, as he certainly has some big shoes to fill… I wonder if this will be a night of politics or a night of truly deserved recognitions?

The Maven: Why should this night be different than any other in Hollywood!

The Blonde:  Good one! All-righty then… Let's get busy! The envelope please, with the first category, Best Picture. Oh Mav, are we saying who WILL win or who we believe SHOULD win?

The Maven: Now that is a really good question, even for you! Let's do a touch of both and see what happens!

Best Picture: The Aviator; Finding Neverland; Million Dollar Baby; Ray; Sideways
The Blonde: Okay, what happened to Hotel Rwanda? That was my vote! Having said that, I now give my vote to Ray. We all know how I felt about Sideways and if that wins I am giving up my SAG card! The academy might go for Aviator, or Million Dollar Baby for the sentimental vote for Clint.

The Maven: The momentum is fast for Million Dollar Baby. Movies in this category usually win with the heart at the Oscar’s. The other award shows gave it to The Aviator and Sideways. Ray and Finding Neverland just didn't have the punch of Million Dollar Baby. My vote goes to Million Dollar Baby.

The Blonde: Oh, that last remark made me nauseous and knocked me out. So you go with the obvious. Personally, none of the contenders are TRUE Oscars in my book.

Best Actor: Don Cheadle; Johnny Depp; Leonardo DiCaprio; Clint Eastwood; Jamie Foxx

The Blonde: I thought they were all marvelous and true contenders. However, I think Jamie Foxx made the biggest acting stretch, so he gets my vote.

The Maven: Jamie was blessed with this once in a lifetime role as Ray. He immersed himself body and soul. No one else holds a candle to that performance.
The Blonde: I thought Don Cheadle did, but it was not as much of a stretch. Jamie even fined-tuned his piano skills for this one. He deserves the gold.  

Best Actress: Annette Bening; Catalina Sandino Moreno; Imelda Staunton; Hilary Swank; Kate Winslet

The Blonde: Hands down Hilary Swank, and I wasn't even a true fan before but… I certainly am now. She is a talented actress and a lovely lady. Hilary worked herself so hard in this role and it showed with her acting and her body. Go Hilary!

The Maven: Hilary has an amazing talent of disappearing and becoming her character. Remember five years ago she was also up against Annette Bening (American Beauty) and Hilary won for Boys Don't Cry. Imelda Staunton is a very close second, but I think she and Annette will cancel each other out.

The Blonde: Imelda was terrific, but I think Hilary will win with ease.

Best Supporting Actor: Thomas Hayden Church; Alan Alda; Jamie Foxx; Morgan Freeman; Clive Owen

The Blonde: For me, this is not a contest. Morgan is the ONLY choice. He is so poetic in every role he plays and this one is no different. He has been passed by too many times when he deserved to get the Oscar. This has to be Morgan's pay-off year!

The Maven: I believe Morgan will take home the Oscar. He has previously been up four times and he IS a tremendous actor. However, Clive Owen gave a terrific performance in Closer, but the movie wasn't that popular. Comedic performances seem weak compared to dramatic ones, so Thomas Hayden Church got the only nod he's going to get. Alan Alda's not even in the running really; too little screen time.

The Blonde: I don't agree with your comedic remark. Helen Hunt and Jack Nicholson both won from the comedy, As Good as it Gets. What about Diane Keaton in Something's Gotta Give. I just didn't think he or the movie was good. PERIOD!

Best Supporting Actress: Laura Linney; Cate Blanchett; Virginia Madsen; Sophie Okonedo; Natalie Portman
The Blonde: Sophie was truly wonderful in Hotel Rwanda, but so was Cate in Aviator. This one is a tough one to call but…I think I have to go with Cate as it was such a stretch for her, including the accent.

The Maven: Cate will take it because of the role. Playing a four-time Oscar winner is a sure thing. Although I liked Natalie Portman going against her type in Closer. Every time I turn on the T.V., I hear praise for Cate, and that's why I think she will take it.

The Blonde: Keep in mind that Cate is quite loved and is THE darling in the industry. I agree with your comments about Natalie as well, but looks like it would have to be too much of an upset for her to bring home the Oscar.
Best Director: Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby; Taylor Hackford for Ray; Mike Leigh for Vera Drake; Alexander Payne for Sideways; and Martin Scorsese for The Aviator
The Blonde: Wow, how do I even guess this one with two beloved directors and some newcomers? Although the ending of The Aviator disappointed me, that was the writing and not the directing. Scorsese got some really great performances out of these actors. Everyone loves Clint and he is like a God in Hollywood, so the sentimental aspect for Million Dollar Baby is quite high. I won't even give merit to Sideways. Vera Drake brought stunning performances. I will be true to myself on this one and go with Taylor Hackford for Ray. This director was white and had to really cross a bridge and truly understand the heritage of the characters to be able to bring home such amazing performances by the whole cast. I vote for Taylor.

The Maven: Clint not only directed and acted in Million Dollar Baby, he even wrote the score. I don't think the academy will reward Alexander Payne's Sideways because visually the movie wasn't flashy enough and the honor of an Oscar will go to the actor in Ray not the director. Hollywood loves Scorsese, but they like Clint better, and so he will win.

The Blonde: I am glad that, in The Pianist, they gave the Oscar to the best actor and director and didn't split up the two. Now that was a film that I call Oscar worthy! Visually as you stated, Million Dollar Baby was not flashy either but I agree against what I want that Clint will win.

Best Animated Movie: The Incredibles; Shark Tales; Shrek 2
The Blonde: This is so hard to vote for. They were all equally great!  I thought Shrek 2 was as good, or even better, than the first. Shark Tales was adorable and original. The Incredibles was unique and fun to watch. I will be happy with whoever brings the Oscar home for this category. However, because Shrek won in 2001, I will vote for The Incredibles.  Spread the love.

The Maven: It really says a lot about us when we love all the nominees. I too loved The Incredibles. Shark Tales was fabulous and Shrek 2 was good. The Incredibles was incredible, so that gets my vote.
Best Visual Effects:
Harry Potter: The Prisoner of Azkban; I, Robot; Spider-Man 2

The Blonde: Personally, I didn't really love any of these films. But that's too bad for me. I will just give my vote to Harry Potter, as Spider-Man wasn't all that creative as the first and I, Robot wasn't as visually creative as Harry.

The Maven: I've got to give it to Harry Potter. I fell in love with Doby. Although I, Robot was stunning, there wasn't much diversity, and Spider-Man was the same.

Best Costume:
The Aviator; Finding Neverland; Lemony Snickett’s a Series of Unfortunate Events; Ray; Troy

The Blonde: For me, this Oscar is between The Aviator and Troy. Ultimately though, I will have to give it to Troy. This was such a major undertaking of costumes with such a large cast. Yes, Troy is my vote! I think the Academy will give it to The Aviator, though.

The Maven: I'm going with The Aviator. The Academy loves those classy costume pictures, Most of the stars will be wearing something like them to the Oscar's and the others will wish they had.
Best Cinematography:
The Aviator; House of Flying Daggers; Passion of the Christ; Phantom of the Opera; A Very Long Engagement

The Blonde: Even though I was disappointed in the casting of Phantom, I can't believe that it only received two nominations. It was visually beautiful. However, The Aviator had exquisite cinematography. This is a hard call. I would like Phantom to win, but will give my vote to The Aviator.

The Maven: This IS a tough one. Do we go with panoramic views such as The Aviator or intense color schemes as in House of Flying Daggers? I'm going with The Aviator.

So there you have it, Oscar watchers from The Maven and The Blonde. See you at the Oscar's and don't forget the popcorn!
The 77th Annual Academy Awards will be broadcast live on abc on Sunday, February 27, at 8pm ET.

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