Nicole Kidman has been nominated for Best Actress by both the Screen Actors Guild and the Foreign Press Association for her role in Rabbit Hole, and with good reason. She manages to stay on the brink of tears for the entire movie, holding back her emotions as she tries to eliminate every trace of her dead son's existence, and it's hard to look away, just in case she lets go while you're fishing for that last Junior Mint. There are other good performances in the film, as well, but Kidman is certainly the standout, and since the story, what little of it there is, is mostly an exercise in grief management, her performance is pretty much the only draw here. Luckily, it's enough.
If the woman who brought the world "My Humps" caught your eye, congratulations. You're not functionally retarded. And yet, that list is in fact an up-to-the-minute inventory of the cast of the impending Rob Marshall musical/celeb circle jerk Nine. People, what is this world coming to? When cinematic icons like Sophia Loren and Dame (yes, Dame) Judi Dench -- who between them have enough gold statuettes to melt down and turn into a to-scale facsimile of the Egyptian pyramids -- are condemned to share screen time with a woman who once pissed her pants on stage during a particularly rowdy rendition of "Let's Get Retarded," well, I just don't know what.
Finally, another reason to go to Amsterdam! You know, besides the culture. Cinema Expo is happening this week in the Dutch city of sin, and the studios are unraveling their 2008-2009 slates for an international crowd. Here's what's been lighting up the message boards:
More casting has been announced for Rob Marshall's planned big screen adaptation of the Tony-winning musical Nine. According to today's Hollywood Reporter, Judi Dench and Nicole Kidman are reportedly climbing aboard the train. (Dench and Kidman? Three guesses what company is producing the movie and the first two don't count. Hint: The company's namesake rhymes with whinesign. Already cast are Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Sophia Loren and Marion Cotillard, though no word if Cotillard actually will bother to do her own singing this time. Now, I've admittedly never seen a stage production of Nine, based on Fellini's great film 8 1/2 in case you were unaware, but while Maury Yeston's score is fine, this is not a show that screams commercial appeal. Hell, would a re-release of 8 1/2 itself even be profitable? Nine isn't a crowd pleaser such as Chicago and even one that would seem tailor made to be one can land with a thud when it's transferred as poorly as The Producers was. I love movie musicals, but I fear if Hollywood goes crazy making films of ones that seem doomed to fail, they may disappear yet again.
Australia starts out every bit as magical and powerful and lovely as any movie epic should be -- more so, even, since it's directed by that master of capturing magic on film, Baz Luhrmann (who already has breathed fresh life into Shakespeare and musicals). And for about half of its 2-hour-and-45-minute run time (!), it maintains that magic. But then it sort of falls flat. It rebounds some, with some lovely moments, breathtaking scenery, and terrific acting. But it can't ever regain what was lost in that first half.
There's nothing wrong with Nicole Kidman. Okay, there's long been speculation that she has an eating disorder, but otherwise, I'm sure she's a perfectly lovely person, and in many roles, a very talented actress. A very delicate, waif-ey, porcelain-skinned actress who can play any number of dramatic roles, but not one you'd expect to see in an action-adventure film unless she were the damsel-in-distress. (Yeah, like that Batman we're all pretending never happened.) So you can imagine my surprise when it was announced that she'd signed on to produce and star in The Eighth Wonder, an action-adventure pitch from Mr. & Mrs. Smith writer Simon Kinberg. The bit that took me by surprise? The project is described as centering on "an archeological discovery that sets off a globe-spanning race. The aim is to be a grittier and more character-driven version of the Indiana Jones movies."