September 24 - 30, 2004 • Vol. 24 - No. 39

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With a Love, a Match and a Point!

by The Maven and The Blonde
Film Columnists

Wimbledon is an engaging, sports-centered, romantic comedy. This film is brought to us by the brilliant comedy filmmakers of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Love Actually and Bridget Jones Diary.

Wimbledon begins with Peter Colt—played by Paul Bettany (A Knight’s Tale, A Beautiful Mind)—a 31-year-old gentleman who seems to start out low on his luck and who truly takes the term “love-love” to be his final goal. Peter appears to be past his prime, seeded 11 in the tennis ranks, and has slipped to an all time low, ranked number 119. Before throwing in the towel to a disappointing job as a tennis instructor of aging society women, he decides to reach for the stars one last, thirteenth time. Never wanting to look back with regret, he goes for his dream of tennis stardom in hopes of winning England’s tennis crown, Wimbledon. As luck would finally have it, Peter miraculously scores a wild card position, allowing him to play at this grand event known as Wimbledon (hence the original title).

Enter Lizzie Bradbury, played by the adorable Kirsten Dunst (Spiderman, Mona Lisa Smile). Lizzie is the American rising tennis star, the “tuff-girl” darling of the international tennis “SET.” She is in England to play her very first Wimbledon. Nothing short of a win is even a possible consideration for this young, strong-willed, goal-oriented, focused athlete. She has never had the choice to be another other than the best, as she has been pushed to the extreme by her coach/father, Dennis Bradbury played by Sam Neill (Jurassic Park).
Another dimension is then added to the script. Yes, you grand-slammed it; boy Peter meets girl Lizzie and tennis balls fly. Love happens… Their instant attraction is love, match and set at first sight! With the combination of newfound luck, romance, “Eye of the Tiger” on-court determination and will, Peter works his way up the tournament players’ ranks. Lizzie becomes his game’s inspiration and fire. The love affair complicates Lizzie’s life and game, and creates problems with her overzealous father, however. As for the newly energized Peter, he actually has a chance to realize his life’s dream: winning the men’s singles title. Does he? Doesn’t he? Do Peter and Lizzie wind up together? Only the movie viewer knows for sure! Go see for yourselves! P.S. you will love the complete closure at the end of the movie!

The Blonde: I want to begin by saying how cute both Kirsten and I look in a tennis outfit! Wimbledon was like Underdog meets a tennis Rocky, meets a tennis version of Miracle meets Billy Jean King, Chris Everett, Jimmy Connor meets Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare really seems to have his hand in every possible story. Lizzie had the on-court attitude of John McEnroe and Peter reminded me of Boris Becker. I did like the novelty of Chris Everett and John McEnroe being the announcers. By the way, Maven, don’t you just love British people? They are so dignified and civilized. If they taped the Jerry Springer show in England, there would not be anybody in the audience! I also noticed that all the men have the most perfect noses…an important movie observation! In addition, why does Kirsten always pick roles that have her falling in love with a character named Peter?

The Maven:  Blonde, they may not have a trashy Jerry Springer, but they do have the vicious lady on The Weakest Link, if that makes you feel any better. Finally, a movie is made about nice people who have good things happen to them…it would be nice if it happened more in real life.

The Blonde: True! Ya know, I just don’t understand the younger generation today. Maybe I’m just getting older, but they meet, have fish and chips, and, ten minutes later, jump into bed! By the way, I did think Peter’s practice partner, Dieter Prohl, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, was a real hunk of a guy!  He is “soooo” my type. I wonder if he would like to go out for some fish and chips with me!

The Maven:  First of all, I’ve known you most of your life, so please tell me, when have you ever played tennis to have an adorable outfit?

The Blonde: I don’t play tennis. I just bought the outfit because it was cute!

The Maven: Okay then, maybe if you wear that cute tennis outfit you are referring to, Nikolaj might invite you to have fish and chips with him. Just please don’t wear that thong under it—the one that you bought at Frederick’s of Hollywood in Las Vegas, against my advice…

The Blonde: Hey, I love that thong! I also loved the proper English tea scene with the obnoxious agent. Oh, how I love having fresh brewed tea and scones with jam, tiny cucumber sandwiches, and a tart at the Inn on the Park Hotel in London. It is all so totally proper and English…Which reminds me, I haven’t stopped thinking about the tender rump roast you made for me the other night! It was really fab! Have you been watching Ted on “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”?

The Maven: When you were referring to the obnoxious agent, isn’t that an oxymoron? And… what does my rump roast have to do with this film? And no; it was a Martha Stewart recipe! Enough with my roast! Dunst and Bettany went through painstaking hours training with a tennis instructor to be authentic and prepare for all the court scenes. As a result, all of the tennis playing was technically accurate and very realistic. They made sense visually and dramatically. Tennis is not a team sport. Wimbledon evokes the loneliness of a sport where everything depends on one moment in time and what you do with it.

The Blonde: I don’t know, maybe it was the guy’s cute rump that reminded me of your tender rump roast! By the way, I thought that the sweet but strong Lizzie and the insecure but tender Peter made a terrific on-screen couple. I found a real chemistry between them. It was a perfectly cast film. I must add that I adore all the films by this production group. All their movies are human, both real and fairytale-ish, sweet, romantic, witty with complete “no-guessing necessary” endings.

The Maven: This wasn’t a great film, but it was warm and fulfilling to watch. Paul Bettany proves he can carry a movie. He showed a wide range of emotions, and I thoroughly enjoyed his performance. Though I think Dunst is a fine actress, I feel that she simply coasted through this film. In my opinion, her finest work was in the movie Crazy Beautiful. I rate this a B.

The Blonde: Although this film was trite, simple, and so very predictable in every way, I still enjoyed it all. It’s always nice to just sit back, relax and watch young innocent love at the movies. “Oh, that great to be in love feeling!” Too bad it never worked out for me. It just gave me heartburn and headaches. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all could have a happily ever after?  This is a great afternoon movie with the girls. I rate Wimbledon a B- and I suggest you snack on lots of Hershey Kisses, English Toffee and popcorn. You might want to go to an English pub for a beer or a spot of hot tea on the way home. By the way, if you would like the Maven’s rump roast recipe, write in and ask!

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow:
What a World, What a World!


In the very forward looking year of 1939, this futuristic past timeline film is nothing short of a terrific, fun, fantasy flight of filmmaking at its magical best. It is an original extravaganza film decorated with wonder and imagination. In the exciting first few minutes of this film, a zeppelin on its maiden voyage named the Hindenburg III docks at the top of the Empire State Building. It has been discovered that world famous scientists around the globe have mysteriously disappeared. Sky captain, Joe Sullivan, portrayed by Jude Law (Cold Mountain), the unstoppable hard driving, boyish-looking ace aviator and leader of his own private air-force, is called by the authorities to stop the chaos brought on by the 10-story-tall, walking, faceless, metal, mechanical, monsters that attack the city. Later he is confronted by flying robots who promise to attack the entire world and are geared with death rays. The “world of tomorrow” is the masterminded work of a mad scientist, the evil Dr. Totenkopf, played by Laurence Oliver—(Are you kidding, we really have to name one of his films?) The mad, bad, genius doctor hopes to destroy the world of today in order to create world domination for his world of tomorrow!
All this eventually leads Joe back into the life of his old flame of three years ago, glamorous metro-reporter for New York’s Chronicle, Polly Perkins, portrayed by Oscar-winner Gwyneth Paltrow (New mommy, Ben Affleck’s ex, Brad Pitt’s ex, Blythe Danner’s daughter and, oh yeah, Shakespeare in Love and Emma). Together on the investigation of the lost scientists, the duo risks their lives as they travel around the world trying to find the connection between these robots and the scientists. Sky Captain hopes to save the world, and Polly hopes to get the big story.

Enter Franky Cook, played by the gorgeous Angelina Jolie (Tomb Raider, Beyond Borders, Billy Bob Thornton’s ex and Jon Voight’s daughter), yet another ex-affair of Joe’s, who aids the fearless couple. Jolie is the essence of cool. She is the one-eyed daredevil and commander of her own flying fleet, the amphibious squadron. Let’s not forget how great she looks in leather and an eye patch. She also adds sexual tension to the triangle.

One last hero who helps Captain Joe and Polly's struggle is the inventor and aide, Dex, played by Giovanni Ribisi (The Other Sister, Basic). Will the world be destroyed? Will the mad doctor become un-mad? Will Angelina reveal to us if her lips are real or collagen? Will Gwyneth tell us how she lost all the baby weight? Will Gwyneth, after naming her first-born child Apple, name her second child Mango or even Kiwi? We are all holding our breath, folks. Only you can find out these answers by going to the movies!

The Blonde: Sky Captain is like Buck Rogers meets Star Wars meets Lois Lane meets King Kong and Indiana Jones, meets War of the Worlds and The Wizard of Oz, all wrapped up into a Casablanca style, era and wardrobe. This film was exhilarating to watch, as it was filled with action-packed special effects, and digital illusion. Look out David Copperfield. Just a bit of movie info: there were no sets or locations in the filming of this movie. The entire film was shot against a blue screen. It’s hard to believe that fact as you watch it. Hey Maven, why does the end of the world attack always happen in New York?

The Maven: How the heck would I know? I’m a Florida girl! But I do know that this is a fun movie where the plot isn’t the focus as much as the look and technique. Halfway between black and white sepia, there is the richness of color with the nostalgic quality of an old photograph.

The Blonde: Sepia? What the heck is a sepia? A drink between popcorn bites for an Italian?

The Maven: If you don’t know what sepia means, than I know you won't know what Totenkopf—the name of the mad scientist—means!

The Blonde: Yes, everybody knows that it’s a piece of burnt toast!

The Maven: Well, to the rest of the real world, it means dead head in German…

The Blonde: Burnt toast, dead head, same thing! Man, that Jolie has some unstoppable lips. Doesn’t she? She doesn’t even need any lipstick to enhance them! And tell me please, how does she look so thin in leather? You know you have reached super stardom status when you only have a bit part in a film and you’re the only one on the whole advertising movie poster, even though there are four other major stars.

The Maven:  It wasn’t the lips or the leather. It is the sexy eye patch that sells. Maybe I’ll run out tomorrow and get one myself.                                                        
The Blonde: One more patchless observation I found to be both amazing and disturbing. How did everybody look so perfect while the world was coming to an end in all those scenes? No makeup smudges, no sweat, no wrinkled clothing. I looked like hell just boarding up and preparing for the hurricane. Maven, didn’t you just love Gwyneth’s long, blonde, silky hair, even though it’s not her real hair. That ‘40's look was great for her.
The Maven:  I agree, she really did look hot in this film. I do want that lipstick that they used on Gwyneth. It never thinned, smeared or came off, even after she was face-down in the ice and asleep.
The Blonde: Do you find yourself face-down in ice and asleep often?

The Maven: No! I have my own problems. I live in Florida, where I find myself face-down in the sand at the beach, sweating my lipstick off!

The Blonde: I thought the usage and the playing with lighting was fabulous and very effective. The music score also enhanced and complimented each scene.

The Maven: At least they had light to play with. I was without electricity for six days after Frances! Now that I am done complaining, here’s an interesting movie fact: Not only did Jude Law have a hand in producing Sky Captain, but so did his wife, Sadie Frost!

The Blonde: How nice for them! I never found it possible to work side by side with any one of my husbands…

The Maven: Apparently neither did Jude, for they have divorced since the making of the film…

The Blonde:  See, it doesn’t work! I enjoyed the witty banter, sarcasm, sexual tension and chemistry between Polly and Joe. It worked. They held the movie together. I also thought it was very cool how they used the angle of making the old-fashioned past and its look combined with a futuristic world.

The Maven: The friendly sparring between Joe and Polly are reminiscent of Tracy and Hepburn.

The Blonde: Or, Bush and Kerry!

The Maven: Speaking of Kerry, director/writer Kerry Conran’s frequent one-liners are excellent at providing comic relief where it’s needed. If you’re looking for a movie full of joy and lightness, then this is your movie. I rate it a B. It’s good for the whole family. No sex and no cursing, but I still enjoyed it!

The Blonde: Although there was far too much cliché dialogue for my taste, and I don’t think an older audience would enjoy this film, I did enjoy it. I rate Sky Captain a B as well. I recommend eating Snow Caps as there were many snowy scenes to put your taste buds in the mood!

P.S. Moviegoers: If you have the time, don’t miss the surprisingly terrific suspense film, Cellular. It’s an “A” movie that will keep you biting your nails. Great excuse for a color change!

P.S. Again: If you happen to like scary, somewhat gory films, you won’t want to forget to see Resident Evil Apocalypse. No budget spared here! It’s a great flick for scary entertainment. Also an “A” rating for a scary film. Great for a full moon Halloween night!
1.  Angelina Jolie as Franky, Jude Law as Sky Captain and Gwyneth Paltrow as Polly in Paramount Pictures’ Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
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