October 18, 2007

October 18, 2007

Review: Rendition
Opens Friday, October 19

What would you do if your loved one went on a business trip and never returned? That is the hell of Isabella El-Ibrahimi (Reese Witherspoon), in the new movie Rendition directed by South African Gavin Hood (Tsotsi). The film begins as a bomb explodes in a north African country killing a CIA operative which sets off a series of decision and events that cause the "extraordinary rendition" of Anwar El-Ibrahimi, Isabella's husband.

Rendition is something that very few of us had heard of a couple of years ago and now weighs heavily on our country's psyche. This films asks us to confront how this country gets information about potential terrorist threats and whether the end justifies the means.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays an inexperienced CIA analyst thrust into a leadership position when his colleague is killed in the bombing. He is clearly in over his head. In his new role, he observes the torture of El-Ibrahimi who is flown to his posting after he was taken from a Washington DC airport and erased from the flight manifest. The torture shakes Gyllenhaal and makes him question his job and his country. In a light moment in an otherwise intense film, Gyllenhaal escapes into a drug haze after observing a torture session when he receives a call from Corrinne Whitman (Meryl Street) the self-righteous CIA agent who ordered the rendition. She asks him how its going and he bumblingly responds that this is his first torture. She immediately cuts him off by saying that the US does not torture. You have to laugh cause you know she is full of shit.

Isabella is told that her husband was not on the plane and when she gets evidence that he was she takes it to a college pal (Peter Saarsgard) who works for a Senator (Alan Arkin) to try and get answers. Suffice it to say that she doesn't get her answers.

In a parallel plot line (which was at times very confusing), a young woman in the unnamed North African country is challenging her father (the man who runs the prison and tortures Anwar El-Ibrahimi) about her life and her boyfriend. When she makes a terrible discovery about her boyfriend the plots converge in an unexpected and jarring way.

Women Playwrights on Broadway
My friend Theresa Rebeck had her first Broadway play Mauritius open earlier this month. Theresa is not a novice, she has written a dozen or so other plays that have been performed off-Broadway and around the country. Also, she is the only female playwright with a new play being produced on Broadway this fall. The NY Times theatre critic in his infinite wisdom (or lack thereof) decided that the way he would review Theresa's play would be to put it in the context of a male playwright and a misogynistic one at that (David Mamet). Not cool.

This perspective was sent to Theresa from her friend Janet Neipris, Director, Graduate Studies, Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University

"Do they say Horton Foote is just like Thornton Wilder?
Or Pete Gurney is a blueprint of Philip Barry?
Is John Shanley Lanford Wilson?
Maybe August Wilson is Loraine Hansberry.
And who will they say is Lillian Hellman?"

Rock on Janet, and rock on Theresa.

The LA Times is a little late on this- Katherine Heigl's (Izzie on Grey's Anatomy) deal for Lost & Found
Katherine Heigl Becomes Producer (LA Times)

Damages, the FX Drama starring Glenn Close is on the renewal bubble for next season. This season's season finale airs next Tuesday. If you missed any episodes this season a marathon begins on FX this Saturday at 8am. It's worth a look just to see Glenn Close in action.
Damages: It's Future is Still Uncertain

Finally somebody is questioning a male star's box office draw
Is George Clooney Really a box Office Draw? (Slate)

Susanne Bier Leaves Behind Dogma for First American Film (SF Chronicle - review to come tomorrow)

Jorja Fox: Why I Quit CSI (EW)

"Kim Basinger has signed on to star alongside Charlize Theron in Guillermo Arriaga's (writer of Babel) directorial debut, The Burning Plain, for 2929 Prods." Film weaves together two storylines taking place in the past and present. Basinger will play Gina, the mother of Charlize Theron's character as seen in childhood. Theron will play Sylvia, who tries to find common ground with her parents after a turbulent childhood."(Variety)

Kathleen Turner will direct Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley at the Roundabout in NY this spring. Cast will include the same women -- Jennifer Dundas, Sarah Paulson and Lily Rabe -- who appeared in Truner's production in Williamstown last summer. (Variety)

Angelina Jolie will be honored with the outstanding performer of the year award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on February 2, 2008.

The Sarah Connor Chronicles starring Lena Headey will premiere on Fox on January 24, 2008 and will lead into the season premiere of 24.

Debi Mazar, Aida Turturro and Karen Duffy are shopping a Jersey Girls version of the View (Hollywood Reporter)

Tube Tonight
Run Granny Run- Doris Haddock who came to celebrity for walking across the country to raise attention for campaign finance reform is profiled in this documentary about her effort to unseat New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg. (HBO)