Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"A Wedding in Four Acts" [PG-13] - Act 1 (Part 1)




"A WEDDING IN FOUR ACTS

RATING: [PG-13]
SUMMARY: A Wiccan wedding is invaded by a succubus and a witch, bent on revenge. Sequel to "Obssession".
FEEDBACK: deerush76@yahoo.com - Be my guest. But please, be kind.

DISCLAIMER: Cole Turner, Darryl Morris, Leo Wyatt and the Charmed Ones and other characters are related to Charmed to Spelling Productions, Brad Kern and Constance Burge. The McNeills and a few other characters are my own creation.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: To understand certain parts of this story, please read "A Day in the Life of Paige Matthews", "Obssession" and "Whatever You Desire"



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"A WEDDING IN FOUR ACTS"

ACT I - Part 1

A tall, well-dressed man strolled across the terrace that overlooked the blue Mediterranean Sea. He paused beside one of the lounge chairs and kneeled down to speak to a dark-haired woman, sipping a glass of Sangria. "Padronessa," he murmured to her, "I finally have the news that you require."

The glass hovered less than an inch from the woman's lips. "Tell me," she ordered.

"I have discovered the name of the Streghore who had summoned your sister."

Disbelief radiated from the woman's voice. "A Streghore? It was a witch who had summoned Portia?"

The man, who happened to be a low-level daemon named Leonardo, trembled with fear. "Si, Padronessa. A Streghore named Nichola Marcano. I learned this from the seer, Venusia. This Marcano witch had summoned your sister, nearly a month ago. For what reason, I do not know."

"For sex, of course," Claudia Della Scalla retorted. "What else? This Streghore was probably desperate for sex and summoned Portia. After they had sex, he vanquished her before she could kill him. Simple." Her expression hardened. "Only he had vanquished the wrong succubus. Where can I find him?"

Leonardo replied, "San Francisco, California. Only . . ." he hesitated.

Claudia heaved a frustrated sigh. "Only what?"

"After Venusia gave me the name of the Streghore, I discovered a few things about him. For example, he was arrested by the authorities for murder and attempting kidnapping. He is now incarcerated in the local jail."

The news took the beautiful succubus by surprise. "He is in jail for murder? Hmmm, this witch sounds very promising. It is a shame I will have to kill him."

Doubt glimmered in Leonardo's eyes. "Before you do, Padronessa, perhaps you should talk to the witch. Find out what really happened. Something tells me that your sister may have been involved in his crimes."

Claudia nodded. "Good idea. Meanwhile, have Gia pack my belongings. We are off to San Francisco."

"We?" Leonardo hesitated. "Shall I inform the other members of the boschetto?"

The succubus took another sip of her Sangria. "No, I will only need you and Giancarlo to get this Streghore for me. Once I am rid of him, perhaps we can remain in San Francisco for a few days. It has always been one of my favorite cities."

Leonardo rose to his feet, bowed and marched back to the villa. Heaving a satisfied sigh, Claudia returned her attention to her drink and the view, beyond.

* * * *

Cecile Dubois glanced at the grandfather clock standing in one corner of the living room, inside her Garden District house. It read five-eighteen. "Where is he?" she demanded, glancing at her handsome boyfriend. "He's late."

"Only by eighteen minutes," Andre Morell protested. "C'mon, cherie! Be patient. It's not like we have a plane to catch."

The third person inside the room grumbled, "Considering that he hasn't even shown up yet, I'm beginning to think that we should catch a plane." At fifty-five years old, Vivian Reyes Dubois had maintained her good looks and vitality. She and her daughter shared the same bronze-colored skin, high cheekbones, dark eyes reminiscent of ancient Egyptians and diminutive form. "I wonder if there's a plane available for San Francisco, in the next hour or two."

Andre demanded, "Why are you in such a hurry? Once Cole gets here, it should take us at least a second to arrive."

"Because I plan to do a little shopping."

Cecile added, "So do I. Olivia told me about a sale going on at Macy's."

A sigh left Andre's mouth. "Shopping? We're going to San Francisco for a wedding, and all you can think about is shopping? I thought you two had already bought wedding gifts."

Vivian rolled her eyes in disgust. "You don't understand women very much, do you boy?"

Before Andre could reply, a tall figure clad in a dark business suit, materialized in the middle of the living room. Cecile sighed with relief. Andre rushed forward to greet the newcomer with a bear hug. "Cole! Glad you could finally make it, man!" he said cheerfully. "We were beginning to get a little worried."

"We were more than beginning to worry," Cecile added caustically. "Another twenty minutes and we would have ended up going to the airport." She walked toward him and pecked his cheek.

Cole graced the Vodoun priestess with a charming smile. "And it's good to see you too, Ms. Dubois." He returned her kiss with one of his own. Then he turned to Cecile's mother. "Mrs. Dubois. It's good to see you."

"Nice to see you again, Cole," Vivian responded. "Now, what took you so long?"

A heavy sigh left Cole's mouth. "I'm sorry that I'm late, but the Senior Partners' staff meeting took longer than I had expected. Is everyone ready?" He glanced at the pile of luggage near the fireplace. "Oh, I guess so."

The others gathered around the half-daemon. "Is this going to take long?" Cecile's mother asked, uneasily. "I've never teleported, before."

"Don't worry Mama," Cecile reassured the older woman. "Like Andre said, it'll be over within a second." Sure enough, the four people disappeared from the New Orleans house and reappeared in the middle of the McNeill foyer, a second later.

Vivian released a gust of breath. Then she glanced around and frowned. "Is that it?" she demanded. "What happened to our luggage?" No sooner had she spoken, the Dubois and Andre's belongings materialized.

The McNeills' manservant, Davies, appeared in the foyer. "Oh, I see that you've all arrived."

"Afternoon Davies," Cole greeted. "I finally got them here. You can tell both Mrs. McNeill and the others."

Nodding, Davies replied, "Yes sir. Mr. Morell, Mrs. Dubois and Miss Dubois, it's good to see you, again. If you will all follow me, I will take you to the others in the drawing-room. Carmen and Liam will take care of your luggage."

"Leave my baggage in here, Davies," Andre said. "I'll be leaving with Cole."

Cecile added that she will be leaving with Olivia. "That is after she gets here."

"Miss Olivia is in the drawing-room with the others," Davies announced.

Cole frowned. "She's here?" He glanced at his watch. "This early?"

"Yes sir." Davies led the quartet toward the drawing-room. "Miss Olivia is here, along with both Mrs. McNeills and Mr. Bruce."

Vivian murmured to her daughter, "Why is it that every time I'm around that man, I feel as if I'm in the middle of a Merchant-Ivory movie and I'm about to meet Helena Bonham-Carter?"

"You and me both," Cecile shot back.

The manservant opened the drawing-room's double doors and ushered the visitors inside. They found both Elise and Gweneth McNeill observing the other two McNeills engage in a heated conversation. "Why are you asking me, Livy?" Bruce McNeill was saying. "Harry's the one who is planning this party."

Bruce's red-haired sister replied, "Because Harry told me to ask you. After all, it's your bachelor party."

"Okay. Then the answer is no," Bruce answered coolly.

"Bruce!"

Davies interrupted the conversation with a slight cough. "Excuse me, but the Dubois, Mr. Morell and Mr. Turner are all here."

The McNeills' attention became riveted upon the visitors. Gweneth McNeill let out a cry of delight. "Well, look who's here! Vi, darling! How are you?" She rushed forward to envelop Cecile's mother into a bear hug.

Cecile found herself being hugged by Olivia. Soon, everyone - sans Cole and Davies - were exchanging hugs, kisses and handshakes. The younger Mrs. McNeill then turned to Cole and thanked him for giving the visitors from New Orleans a supernatural lift.

"No problem at all," Cole replied genially. He shot a quick glance at Olivia, who immediately looked away. Much to Cecile's surprise. "Unfortunately, I was a little late. The meeting at the firm ended a bit later than I had expected." He turned to face both Olivia and Bruce. "Don't let me stop you, two. What were you talking about?"

Bruce replied, "My bachelor party. It seems Olivia wants me to add a certain someone to the guest list."

"That certain someone is Paul," Olivia retorted, glaring at her older brother.

"And I said . . . no."

Cecile asked, "You mean that attorney, who happens to be a witch? One of Leo's charges?"

Cole rolled his eyes. "Oh. Him. He's going to be at the bachelor party?"

Olivia diverted her glare to Cole "And what exactly, is wrong with . . . him?"

"Well, for one thing, he's a bore," Bruce replied. Both Cole and Andre snickered.

Green eyes now focused upon Cecile's significant other half. "Gee Andre, I didn't realize that you knew Paul."

"Uh, I don't," Andre said. "I just . . . heard . . ." Cecile surreptiously squeezed his arm. "Never mind."

Vivian piped up, "Does anyone know what time the department stores close in this town? I need to do some last minute shopping."

"Macy's should be open until nine, tonight," old Mrs. McNeill replied. "Perhaps Davies can drive you over . . ."

Olivia cut in. "I'll take her. I have some shopping to do, myself."

"And I'm going with you," Cecile added.

"Okay." Olivia paused and glanced at Bruce. "What about Paul?"

Bruce sighed. "What about him?"

Impatience radiated from Olivia's eyes. "The bachelor's party. Is it okay for Harry to invite him?"

Rolling his eyes, the oldest McNeill sibling coolly replied, "Let me think about it."

"Think about it fast, huh Bruce? The bachelor party is in two days." Olivia nodded at both Cecile and Vivian. "Ready ladies?" She started toward the doorway. Daughter and mother followed. As the former glanced behind her, she noticed the pained expression on Cole's face. Interesting.

* * * *

Piper picked up a stainless steel saucepan and held it up in front of her husband's eyes. "What about this?" she asked. "Would this do?"

The oldest Charmed One and her whitelighter husband stood in the middle of the Appliance Department, inside Macy's department store. Leo shook his head in dismay. "A saucepan? Piper, we're shopping for a wedding gift, not a housewarming party!"

"What's wrong with a saucepan?" Piper protested. "Maybe Bruce and Barbara will like it. He's a chef, after all."

An exasperated sigh left Leo's mouth. "Don't you think we should get them something with a little more class? Like silver, for instance."

"Too expensive," Piper curtly replied.

Leo shot back, "Piper, you own a nightclub that's . . ."

". . . that has been losing a little business, ever since Wyatt was born."

Undaunted, Leo continued, "But we still have enough money. And I've been earning a few bucks with some carpentry jobs on the side."

"Leo . . ."

"C'mon Piper. I don't want to give Bruce and Barbara a . . . saucepan." Leo paused, as he squirmed with discomfort. "I mean he's a friend and one of my former charges."

Rolling her eyes, Piper replied caustically, "Then why did we receive our wedding invitations at least a week after Paige had received hers? Can you explain that?"

"What is there to explain?" Leo protested. "Our invitations probably got lost in the mail."

Again, Piper rolled her eyes. "If that's what you want to believe, Leo, go ahead. It seems obvious to me that Bruce and Barbara only wanted to invite Paige. So, I see no reason why I should spend my money on something better than a saucepan."

"Look, maybe you're right. Maybe Bruce didn't want us at the wedding. Can you blame him?"

Piper blinked. Had she heard right? "Excuse me?"

"Well, we didn't invite him, Olivia or Harry to our wedding. And aside from you and your sisters, they're the only friends I have here in San Francisco. It even took them a while to forgive me for not inviting them."

With a scoff, Piper replied, "Well, at least you now believe me that we were excluded from the guest list."

"Piper! Please!" Leo pleaded. "Let's just buy something better than a saucepan. Okay?"

Piper opened her mouth for a retort, when three women appeared. She recognized Olivia McNeill and the latter's friend from New Orleans, whom she remembered from last December. The third woman seemed to be an older version of Olivia's friend. "Leo!" Olivia greeted cheerfully. "And Piper. Fancy meeting you two, here. Shopping for wedding gifts?"

"Uh," Leo began, hesitating, "yeah. We, uh . . . didn't have much time for shopping. Until today."

Olivia's smile widened. Piper began to wonder if she was mocking them. "Well, that's nice. By the way, I'm sure that both of you remember Cecile Dubois. She's here for the wedding." Both Piper and Leo nodded at the Vodoun priestess, who returned their nods. "And this," Olivia continued, "is Vivian Dubois, Cecile's mom. She's also a close friend of my mother's."

Piper smiled politely at the older woman. "Nice to meet you. Are you a Voodoo . . ." She saw Leo grimace from the corner of her eye. "I mean, a Vodoun priestess also, Mrs. Dubois?"

"Yes, I am," the older woman replied. "Both Cecile and I hold the title of Mami."

What the hell "Mami?"

Cecile spoke up. "That's the title for all women who are priestesses."

Leo asked, "Do you have a power like Cecile?"

Mrs. Dubois frowned. "Sorry?"

Again, Cecile explained, "He wants to know if you have a psychic ability, Mama. Like my telepathy and visions."

"Oh." Mrs. Dubois nodded. "I suppose I do. I'm a metamorph. What you would call a shapeshifter."

Olivia added, "Like Bruce and Dad, only Mrs. Dubois can morph into anything - other people, animals, plants and any other object."

"Like Cole," Piper added. "Or a chameleon demon." Everyone stared at her. "My sisters and I had an encounter with one, nearly two years ago."

The older woman wore a confused expression. "I share a power with a demon? There's a spirit out there that changes form?"

Now it was Piper and Leo's turn to look confused. "Huh?" the Charmed One asked. "What do you mean by spirit?"

A salesgirl appeared. "Excuse me, miss." All talk of the supernatural and magic ceased between the five people. The salesgirl continued, "Do you need any help with that saucepan?"

"Huh?" Piper glanced at the object in her hand. She also noticed the others staring at it, as well. Especially Olivia. "Oh, um do you know where I can find some candlesticks?" she asked lamely. "Preferably silver ones?"


END OF ACT I - Part 1

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Favorite Films Set in Paris



Below is a list of my favorite films either set or partially set in Paris, France:


FAVORITE FILMS SET IN PARIS




1. "The Day of the Jackal" (1973) - Fred Zinnemann directed this superb adaptation of Fredrick Forsyth's novel about an assassin known only as "the Jackal", who was hired by French right-wing extremists to assassinate President Charles de Gaulle. Edward Fox portrayed the mysterious assassin.






2. "Dangerous Liaisons" (1988) - Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Michelle Pfieffer starred in what I believe to be the best cinematic version of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos' 18th century novel, "Les Liaisons dangereuses". Stephen Frears directed.






3. "Gigi" (1958) - Considered the last of MGM's musical classics, this movie adaptation of Colette's novella about a young girl trained to become a courtesan in turn-of-the-century Paris starred Leslie Caron, Louis Jordan, Hermione Gingold and Maurice Chevalier. Vincente Minelli directed this sumptious nine-times Academy Awards winner.






4. "The Bourne Identity" (2002) - Doug Liman directed and Matt Damon starred in this second adaptation of Robert Ludlum's novel about an amnesiac attempting to discover his true identity amidst a clandestine conspiracy within the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to track him down for inexplicably failing to carry out an officially unsanctioned assassination.






5. "The Three Musketeers" (1973) - Richard Lester directed this seventh or eighth (and my favorite) version of Alexander Dumas' classic adventure novel. It starred Michael York, Oliver Reed, Faye Dunaway, Raquel Welsh, Richard Chamberlain, Frank Finlay, Christopher Lee, Geraldine Chaplin and Charlton Heston.






6. "French Kiss" (1995) - Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline are magic in this funny romantic comedy about a woman who flies to France to confront her straying fiancé, but gets into trouble when the charming crook seated next to her uses her for smuggling. Lawrence Kasdan directed.






7. "Ronin" (1998) - John Frankenheimer directed this exciting thriller about former special forces and intelligence agents who team up to steal a mysterious, heavily guarded suitcase, while navigating a maze of shifting loyalties and alliances. Robert DeNiro and Jean Reno starred.






8. "All This, and Heaven Too" - Bette Davis and Charles Boyer starred in this top-notch adaptation of Rachel Fields' novel about a French governess' impact upon an aristocrat and his family in the 1840s. Directed by Anatole Litvak.





9. "A Shot in the Dark" (1964) - Peter Sellers portrayed Inspector Jacques Clouseau for the second time in this hilarious adaptation of Harry Kurnitz's play about the murder of a wealthy plutocrat's chauffeur. Blake Edwards directed.






10. "The Night of the Generals" (1967) - Anatole Litvak also directed this interesting, yet flawed adaptation of Hans Hellmut Kirst's novel about a German intelligence officer's investigation of three generals who might be a serial killer of prostitutes in Nazi-occupied Warsaw and Paris.

Monday, June 28, 2010

"SENSE AND SENSIBILITY" (1995) Review



Below is my review of the 1995 version of Jane Austen's 1811 novel, "Sense and Sensibility":


”SENSE AND SENSIBILITY” (1995) Review

The year 1995 saw the beginning of an onslaught of Britain and the United States’ love affair with British author, Jane Austen. A love affair that has not abated after fourteen (14) years. In 1995, the BBC aired Andrew Davies’ miniseries adaptation of Austen’s most famous novel, ”Pride and Prejudice”. And later that year, Hollywood released its adaptation of another Austen, ”Sense and Sensibility” - which I had just recently watched.

Directed by Ang Lee, ”SENSE AND SENSIBILITY”, starred Emma Thompson (who also wrote the screenplay), Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant. The story centered around Elinor (Thompson) and Marianne (Winslet), two daughters of Mr. Dashwood (Tom Wilkinson) by his second wife (Gemma Jones). They have a younger sister, Margaret (Emilie François), and an older half-brother named John (James Fleet). When their father dies, the family estate passes to John, and the Dashwood women are left in reduced circumstances. The story follows the Dashwood sisters to their new home, a cottage on a distant relative's property (Robert Hardy), where they experience both romance and heartbreak. The contrast between the quiet and sensible Elinor and the extroverted and occasionally impetuous Marianne is eventually resolved as each sister finds love and lasting happiness. This leads some to believe that the story’s title described how Elinor and Marianne find a balance between sense and sensibility in life and love.

Producer Lindsay Doran made an excellent choice in selecting Lee to direct the film. First of all, he drew some excellent performances from his cast - especially from Thompson, Winslet, and Rickman. Lee also effectively drew filmgoers back into Regency England without allowing the film to resemble some kind of stiff painting or a museum piece. Although he initially had trouble with dealing with Western-style of filmmaking – especially in dealing with British cast members who questioned his direction and made suggestions regarding shots. He could be rather authoritarian with the cast, especially with Hugh Grant. The actor ended up calling him ”the Brute” behind his back. But he and the cast eventually got used to each other. Lee was also responsible for insisting that Thompson play the oldest Dashwood sister. And he Lee ordered Winslet to read poetry and novels from the late 18th century and early 19th century in order to get her to connect to Marianne’s romantic nature. And to give the movie its emotional core, he asked both Thompson and Winslet to room together during production. The two actresses remain close friends to this day.

Not only was Lee ably assisted by his superb cast, but also by crew members such as costume designers Jenny Beavan and John Bright, production designer Luciana Arrighi, set decorator Ian Whittaker, art directors Philip Elton and Andrew Sanders; and cinematographer Michael Coulter, whose photography beautifully captured the English countryside in all of its glory. I especially have to give kudos to Coulter’s photography and Arrighi’s production design for a beautiful re-creation of Regency London. I also enjoyed composer Patrick Doyle’s score for the film. His use of John Dowland’s song, "Weep You No More Sad Fountains" as Marianne’s own theme song struck me as very impressive. But I have to especially give kudos to Emma Thompson for her marvelous adaptation of Austen’s novel. It may not have adhered exactly to the novel, but I found it well written, lively and paced just right.

With the exception of two performances, I felt more than impressed with the cast. When Ang Lee had signed on as the movie’s director, he immediately suggested that Emma Thompson portray the oldest Dashwood sister, Elinor. Thompson considered herself too old for the role, considering that Elinor was at least 19-20 years old in the novel. But Lee suggested that she increase Elinor’s age to 27 in the screenplay, which would also make her distress at being a spinster easier for contemporary audiences to understand. Frankly, I feel that Lee made a good choice. Emma Thompson gave a superb performance as Elinor Dashwood, whose practical mind led her to act as the family’s de facto leader, following her father’s death. She also brilliantly conveyed Elinor’s emotional nature behind a mask of reticence via her eyes and various expressions. Kate Winslet had no need to be subtle as the more openly emotional Marianne Dashwood. Winslet was at least 20 years old when she filmed ”SENSE AND SENSIBILITY’. Yet, even at that tender age, Winslet proved that she had the talent and acting chops to portray the very complex Marianne. I found it ironic that although her character was not what I would describe as subtle. And yet, Winslet managed to convey all aspects of Marianne’s personality – romantic, willful, emotional and sometimes a bit self-involved.

I found Alan Rickman impressive as one of the Dashwoods’ new neighbors, the quiet and dependable Colonel Christopher Brandon. I enjoyed the subtle manner in which Rickman expressed Brandon’s reluctance in expressing his love for Marianne, due to her feelings for another man. That other man proved to Greg Wise, who gave a surprisingly effective performance as the dashing, yet rakish Edward Willoughby. Wise has never struck me as an exceptional actor, but I must admit that I consider Willoughby to be one of his two best performances. The movie’s supporting cast also included Robert Hardy and the late Elizabeth Spriggs, who gave amusing performances as Sir John Middleton, the Dashwoods’ cousin and benefactor; and Mrs. Jennings, Sir John’s mother-in-law. Gemma Jones was excellent as the emotional and sometimes girlish mother of the Dashwood sisters. I was also impressed by Harriet Walter, who portrayed the sisters’ shrewish sister-in-law, Fanny Dashwood. And Hugh Laurie gave a hilarious performance as the sardonic and long-suffering Mr. Palmer, Mrs. Jennings’ other son-in-law. And I must say that Imogen Stubbs also impressed me by her subtle performance as the cunning and manipulative Lucy Steele, who seemed to have a claim for the same man that Elinor Dashwood longs for.

Speaking of Elinor Dashwood’s love, I finally come to the two performances that had failed to impress me. One of them belonged to Hugh Grant. He portrayed Edward Ferrars, one of Fanny Dashwood’s brothers that happened to be in love with Elinor and is claimed by the manipulative Lucy Steele as her fiancé. Remember his charming, yet modest performance in the hit 1994 comedy, ”FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL”? Well, his Edward Ferrars turned out to be an early 19th century version of his ”FOUR WEDDINGS” role. Grant simply gave the same performance, but with more stuttering and less charm. What had been fresh and original in 1994, ended up as old news a year later in ”SENSE AND SENSIBILITY”. Fortunately, he managed to create some kind of chemistry with both Thompson and Emilie François, who portrayed the young Margaret Dashwood. Another performance that did nothing for me belonged to Imelda Staunton. She portrayed Charlotte Jennings Palmer, Mrs. Jennings’ daughter and Mr. Palmer’s wife. I realize that she was supposed to be an annoying character, but one could say the same about Sir John and Mrs. Middleton. But whereas I found Robert Hardy and Elizabeth Spriggs’ performances amusing, Staunton’s slightly over-the-top portrayal of Charlotte Palmer ended up irritating the hell out of me.

I understand that Andrew Davies had produced his own version of the Austen novel, last year. Since I have yet to see it, I cannot compare it to the 1995 version, directed by Ang Lee. I do know that I am more than impressed with this particular version. It came as no surprise to me that it earned seven (7) Academy Award nominations and won one (1) for Thompson’s Adapted Screenplay. ”SENSE AND SENSIBILITY” is one movie I could watch over again without ever getting tired of it.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

"THE A-TEAM" (2010) Photo Gallery



Below are photos from "THE A-TEAM", the new adaptation of the 1983-1987 television series. Directed by Joe Carnahan, the movie starred Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Jessica Biel and Patrick Wilson:


"THE A-TEAM" (2010) Photo Gallery




















































Friday, June 25, 2010

"The Best Man" [PG] - 2/2



Here are Parts Three to Five of "THE BEST MAN":


”THE BEST MAN”

PART THREE – DANNY

How long does it take to walk down the aisle? Captain Danny Walker pondered silently.

As he waited for his bride in front of the chapel's altar, an assortment of emotions besieged him. One, Danny felt nervous as hell. After all, he was about to become a married man - and a father in less than two months. A father. He could not believe it! Somehow, he and Evelyn managed to create a new life during that passionate evening inside the hangar at Wheeler Field.

Recalling that particular event brought upon another emotion. Happiness. Danny felt as if he could walk on air. Evelyn Johnson was about to become his wife - Mrs. Daniel Walker. Never did Danny imagine he would find someone special in his life. Especially someone as kind and beautiful as Evelyn. And to think that it took a sad period . . .

Danny's thoughts came to a screeching halt. The happiness he felt gave way to anxiety. Seeing Evelyn's slightly pregnant form, Danny began to wonder how she really felt about him. Did she really love him? Or did she merely agreed to marry him, because of the baby? Danny fervently hoped the former. Yet, a small and dark suspicion niggled in the back of his mind. A suspicion that his bride might still harbor feelings for her former love . . . and his best friend.

The idea induced Danny to give the best man a quick glance. Rafe seemed . . . well he seemed fine. Calm. Danny frowned at the other man's expressionless face. An odd expression for someone to have at a wedding. But this was Rafe. Who was about to witness the marriage between his best friend and former girlfriend.

A wave of guilt washed over Danny. He tried to fight the feeling, but the guilt refused to vanish. Okay, so he had pursued Evelyn. Danny did not believe he had committed a crime. After all, Rafe had been dead. 'Yeah, for only three months.' With a single-minded ruthlessness, Danny squelched the silent retort. This was no time to feel guilty over certain events that he had no reason to feel guilty about.

His eyes focused upon the woman who glided down the aisle with the Naval officer. Despite being over seven months pregnant, Evelyn looked downright beautiful in her cream-colored gown. Considering her present physical condition, it would have been ludicrous for her to wear white. Then Danny quickly dismissed the thought. He only wanted to focus upon the moment. And on the bride. Her flushed skin and glittering dark eyes. Danny felt thrilled that she seemed to be as focused upon as he was upon her. Ever since Rafe's return, he had feared . . .

Danny shot a quick glance at his best man. Like everyone else, Rafe seemed focused upon the bride. Yet, another glance revealed that Rafe was not looking at Evelyn, but past her shoulder. At the pew, beyond. Danny did not know whether to feel relieved at not detecting any embarrassing emotions in Rafe's eyes, or annoyed that the latter was deliberately ignoring Evelyn. And what about Evelyn? Was she straining not to sneak a glance at her former love? If one could regard Rafe as former. But the moment Danny clapped eyes upon Evelyn, he could see that she had eyes for no one but him. His body nearly sagged with relief.

That relief soon became anticipation as the bride finally reached the altar. Commander Hayes handed over Eveyln's arm to Danny. The latter smiled at his future wife. She returned the smile. Evelyn's dark eyes glittered with the same anticipation that he felt. Then Danny shot a second glance at the best man. Rafe's eyes had shifted from the pew to the altar. Again, those eyes avoided Evelyn. Squelching another flash of guilt that threatened to overwhelm him, Danny focused his attention to the minister, who began the ceremony. "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in the presence of God, and of this company . . ."

The minister droned on about love and marriage during perilous times. Obviously, the man had decided to ignore Evelyn's pregnant state. Finally, the minister came to the first important question. "Daniel Walker, do you take Evelyn Johnson to be your wedded wife, to live together after God's ordinance in holy matrimony? Do you promise to love her, to honor and cherish her, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, and to be to her in all things a good and faithful husband as long as you both shall live?"

Danny stared deeply into his bride's dark eyes. "I do." His voice resonated throughout the small chapel.

Then it became Evelyn's turn to answer the same question. For a second, Danny feared an embarrassing pause that would follow - indicating the bride's doubts and possible true feelings about this wedding. But she did not hesitate. Evelyn quickly and firmly answered, "I do."

Collective sighs filled the chapel. Repeating the minister, Danny added, "I, Daniel Walker, take thee, Evelyn Johnson, to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part. According to God's holy ordinance, and thereto I pledge thee my faith." Evelyn, following the minister's words, pledged the same vow.

The minister continued with a wedding prayer, as his voice filled the chapel. When he finished, he turned to Rafe. "The ring please?"

Danny watched Rafe dig immediately into his trouser pocket for the wedding ring. The older man's hand trembled as he handed it to the groom. Despite the blank, almost bleak expression on his face.

"Repeat after me," the minister said to Danny. "With this ring, I thee wed. With my body, I thee honor. With this ring I give to you in token and pledge of my constant faith and abiding love." Danny repeated the minister's words. He smoothly placed the ring on Evelyn's finger. Then he watched as she retrieved a ring from Barbara and repeated the same words. Her hands trembling, she inserted the second ring on Danny's finger.

The minister concluded, "What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. Forasmuch as Daniel Walker and Evelyn Johnson have consented together in holy matrimony, and have witnessed the same before God and this company and have pledged their love and loyalty to each other, and have declared the same by the joining and the giving of rings, I, therefore, by the authority of the state, pronounce that they are husband and wife, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ." He gave Danny a flourished smile. "The Groom may now kissed the Bride."

Danny stared deeply into Evelyn's eyes. She smiled. Then he leaned forward and kissed her with as much passion as he could muster. Once their lips parted, everyone inside the chapel rushed forward to congratulate the newly wedded couple. Everyone, except for the best man.

* * * *

PART FOUR – EVELYN


"Congratulations . . . Mrs. Walker," the Army pilot said with a cheerful grin. "Danny is sure one lucky guy."

Evelyn smiled at the latest well-wisher, as she shook his hand. "Thank you, uh . . .?"

The grin became wider. "Adam. Lieutenant Adam Zelinski. I'm with your husband's squadron."

"Oh yeah."

Lieutenant Zelinski shook Evelyn's hand one last time before moving on. She sighed with relief. He was the last one to come up to Evelyn to give his congratulations, thank goodness. With another heartfelt sigh, she glanced around the living room. She had just given the performance of a life time and did not have an award to show for her efforts.

Evelyn now looked forward to some refreshments after a long and difficult day. Actually, the day was not over yet. The clock on the wall only read 12:55, in the afternoon. With all of the wedding preparations and emotional turmoil she had endured, the day seemed to have dragged since the moment the alarm clock woke her.

The phonograph inside the beach house that she now shared with Barbara, Sandra, and Martha, blasted "Blueberry Hill". Evelyn winced. Not exactly one of her favorites, especially in her present mood. But the song happened to be a favorite of Sandra's. Which meant that after today, Evelyn would no longer be forced to hear it whenever the urge hit the red-haired nurse.

Tonight. The implications of that word finally hit Evelyn. Starting tonight, she and Danny will share a bed together for the first time as husband and wife. Dear God! Evelyn closed her eyes for a brief moment. How did she ever get into this predicament? What had she been thinking during that evening inside the hangar at Wheeler Field?

"Evelyn!" Barbara's voice cut into the bride's thoughts. "Honey, why are you standing around like a lamp post? Shouldn't you be mingling around? Having a good time?"

Evelyn took a deep breath. "I am having a good time. After all, I'm a married woman, now. Right?"

Barbara gave the other woman a hard stare. "Yeah," she said in a lackluster tone. "Right. Say, why don't we try . . .?"

The sound of a giggling female caught the attention of the two friends. They glanced at the direction from where the sound originated. Barbara frowned. Evelyn's heart leapt about ten inches. Next to the refreshment table stood one of the Navy nurses who had been invited to the reception - Ensign Lara McColl. And the very attractive nurse seemed to be enjoying the attention of one Captain Rafe McCawley. The best man. Even worse, Rafe seemed to be enjoying Ensign McColl's company, as well. Another fit of giggles left Ensign McColl's mouth. Evelyn struggled to fight the rising anger and despair within her. And the urge to punch the young nurse in the jaw.

"I wonder what they're talking about," Barbara muttered.

Evelyn tried to sound nonchalant. "Who knows? Knowing Lara's IQ, probably the latest edition of 'Doctor Doolittle'." Unfortunately, her words came out more bitter than she had intended.

Barbara gave Evelyn another one of those long looks. "Ev, honey, you're not jealous, are you?"

"Whatever gave you that silly idea? Or have you forgotten that I'm now a married woman?" Evelyn flashed the gold wedding ring on her swollen finger. "Happily married."

More giggles from the refreshment table punctuated Evelyn's words. She saw Rafe lean forward and whisper into Lara McColl's ear. Hot jealousy rose within Evelyn. Then she saw the silver flask in Rafe's hand. Probably filled with alcohol.

Barbara coughed slightly. "I don't mean to rain on your parade, Ev. But isn't 'happily married' a bit premature? Especially since you've only been married for . . . oh, almost two hours?"

An exasperated sigh left Evelyn's mouth. She shot a quick glare at her friend. "Thank you for pointing that out, Barbara." Glancing at the refreshment table, she added, "I think I need a drink." She started toward the table.

Barbara followed closely behind. "Uh, Ev . . . what are you doing?" But Evelyn did not bother to listen.

The two friends reached the table, where they found Rafe regaling the strawberry blond nurse with tales of his exploits in England, last year. Now, why would anyone find that topic, funny? Evelyn did not. "Hi," she greeted the pair. Lara nearly jumped two inches off the floor. Rafe gave Evelyn a polite smile. "What are you two talking about?" As if she did not know.

"England," Rafe answered shortly. "I was telling Ensign McColl here, about the time I served with the Eagle Squadron."

The Eagle Squadron. Every time someone mentioned it or England, Evelyn wanted to rant against fate. Scream at the world for snatching away any chance of real happiness, when Rafe volunteered to fight with the RAF. A polite smile formed on Evelyn's lips. "You must have some very interesting stories to tell."

"Yeah, I do." Rafe's dark brown eyes penetratred Evelyn's. A wave of heat engulfed her body. "There's one about me being shot down over the English Channel. Now, that's a real hoot."

Evelyn felt her lower lip tremble. I will not cry, she told herself. I will not cry. Taking a deep breath, Evelyn calmly continued, "Was that the story you were telling Lara?"

"Actually, Rafe was talking about this little pub in England," Lara answered. "Where he met this real wacky guy."

Rafe interrupted, "Tom Finch."

"And this Tom Finch used to tell him some of the nuttiest stories," Lara finished. Evelyn realized that the young nurse never looked more prettier than she did at that moment. Her green eyes sparkled with delight. And her cheeks flushed deep pink. She made Evelyn feel even more gauche.

"Sounds like a delightful guy," Barbara murmured sarcastically.

Rafe shot her a dark look. "As a matter of fact, Tom was a pretty swell guy," he shot back. "Makes me wish I was back at the Blue Swan." His remark caused further discomfort for Evelyn.

Discomfort became jealousy when Lara patted Rafe's arm. Then she planted a light kiss on his cheek, causing more consternation within Evelyn's breast. "Oh, you don't mean that, Rafe," Lara cooed. "If that had happened, we would have never met. And I would have never heard about the wonderful Blue Swan."

A wry smile twisted Rafe's mouth. Evelyn looked away - and saw Barbara roll her eyes. Which brought a smile on the bride's lips. A figure appeared before the group and Evelyn's smile disappeared. So did Rafe's. "Hey everyone," Danny greeted the four people. "What's going on?" He leaned forward and pecked Evelyn's cheek. Instead of the usual warmth any bride would feel toward the groom, Evelyn only felt acute embarrassment. Especially with everyone, including Rafe, looking on.

Evelyn briefly closed her eyes and heaved an inward sigh. It was time for another performance.


* * * *


PART FIVE – GOOZ

Rafe stood in the middle of the living room and raised his champagne glass. The other occupants did the same. "Here's to Danny and Evelyn," he announced in a too cheerful voice. "May they have many happy years to come! To Danny and Evelyn!"

"To Danny and Evelyn!" the others repeated, and everyone sipped their champagne.

Gooz Shannon watched the best man gulp the contents of the champagne glass in one swallow. It seemed like watching a performance, the laconic pilot thought. The too cheerful voice, the wide smile and the warm words to the bride and groom. And yet, Gooz noticed the pain in Rafe's eyes. He shook his head. Poor bastard.

While he continued to sip his champagne, Gooz saw Rafe reach for the bottle and pour more liquor into his glass. That poor bastard had been drinking steadily for the past two days. Even before the bachelor's party, last night. Gooz feared that Rafe's personal problems would lead him to alcoholism. That would be a crying shame for a talented pilot like Rafe. What the poor bastard needed was another woman. A serious relationship with a woman who could help him forget Evelyn John . . . Walker.

Gooz's eyes strayed toward Ensign Lara McColl. He recalled seeing Rafe flirt with the strawberry-blond Navy nurse. Personally, Lara did not strike Gooz as his first choice as a companion for Rafe. She seemed too vacuous and shallow for the more solid pilot. But she could be that perfect first step for Rafe to recover from Evelyn. If only one could lure the Tennesseean from the nearest bottle.

The bride and attendants started upstairs for the former to change into traveling clothes. It was Red who had discovered a small beach hotel on the other side of Oahu. Both the pilots and the nurses pooled their resources to offer a romantic getaway for the bride and groom to spend their honeymoon. Gooz took this time to approach Rafe. "Hey there, buddy! How you holding up?"

"Holding up?" Rafe gave the other man a hard stare. Then he broke into laughter that left Gooz feeling very uncomfortable. "Am I holding up? Hell, I'm doing just fine and dandy. Can't you tell?"

Gooz could tell. Rafe's voice had begun to slur from too much booze. He cleared his throat, as he contemplated his next words. "Say Rafe, why don't we leave and head back to the barracks. Maybe a little rest would do you some good."

"I'd say a good shot of bourbon or whiskey might do the trick," Rafe slurred back. He wiggled the bottle of champagne in his hand. "This bubbly ain't doing much for me."

Gooz gently removed the bottle from Rafe's hand. "Drinking yourself into oblivion ain't gonna help you forget about Evelyn, Rafe."

The other man shot Gooz a dark look. "What the hell are you get . . .?"

"C'mon Rafe! I'm not blind. None of us are. The Hula-La has been your second home since we got back from China. Let her go. Evelyn made her choice - even if circumstances forced her to make it. You gotta accept that."

A Latin beat followed the swing number that blasted from the gramaphone. "Perfido". Nice tune, Gooz thought But not exactly one of his favorites. "Huh," Rafe grunted. "That's sounds like 'Perfido'. Did you know that it's one of Evelyn's favorite tunes?"

Gooz sighed. Trying to get Rafe to forget about Evelyn seemed like a hopeless task. Then again, he had not been in New York to witness the beginning of the romance. Not until that fight between Rafe and Danny at the Hula-La on the night before the Japanese attack, did Gooz realize how serious Rafe had been about Evelyn.

A strawberry-blond in a Navy uniform loomed before Gooz's eyes. Perhaps it was time to test that theory about a new woman in Rafe's life. He only hoped that Ensign McColl will not have a problem in dealing with a drunken pilot.

"Say," the laconic pilot began, "isn't that the girl you were talking to, earlier?" Gooz pointed at the beautiful nurse.

Rafe weaved slightly. "That's the beau . . . beautiful Lar-r-r-ra McColl," he slurred. "Well, not as beautiful as Evelyn." Gooz suppressed a frustrated sigh. "Then nobody is more beau . . . beautiful that Ev . . . Evelyn."

Gooz decided to go along with this line of conversation. "True. But at least . . . Lara, is it? At least Lara is available. You know?"

Dark brown eyes bored into Gooz's. For what seemed like forever. As Rafe opened his mouth to speak, someone announced the reappearance of the bride and groom. Both Gooz and Rafe turned around and watched the newly married couple descend the staircase. The guests cheered and threw rice at the pair. Gooz glanced at the happy couple. Well, the groom looked happy. Not even the sun has ever looked as bright as Danny's smile. When Gooz stared at Evelyn, he noticed that her happiness did not exactly match her husband's. In fact, her smile seemed . . . strained. Forced. Then Evelyn's dark eyes fell upon Rafe. If Gooz had not kept his focused upon her's, he would have never caught the flash of deep love and regret. At that moment, he realized that Evelyn's feelings for Rafe matched those of the Tennessee-born pilot's.

"Well I'll be damned!" Gooz muttered under his breath.

Rafe turned to Gooz. "Did you just say something?" Gooz shook his head and watched the couple head for the front door.

Some of the guests followed Danny and Evelyn outside, bombarding the pair with more rice. Neither Gooz or Rafe bothered to follow. Instead, the latter faced the former. A sickly smile stretched Rafe's mouth. "You know what, Gooz? You were right! Lara is a . . . avail . . . able, and I reckon I should ask her to join me for a late night drink."

Gooz watched Rafe take a deep breath and stride toward the strawberry-blond nurse. He shook his head and muttered under his breath, "Life can sure be a mess. Just a goddamn mess!"


THE END

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"'FLASHFORWARD': A Potential Nipped in the Bud"




”’FLASHFORWARD’: A Potential Nipped in the Bud”

Ever since ABC cancelled one of its freshman series, the science-fiction drama called ”FLASHFORWARD”, many television critics and fans have expressed the belief that the series failed to garner enough viewers due to its less than stellar writing. Now . . . I have stated that many have expressed this belief, but there were a good number of viewers who believe that the network should have given the series a chance to grow over the years. I happen to be one of those who agree with the latter.

Based upon the 1999 novel written by Robert J. Sawyer, ”FLASHFORWARD” revolved around the lives of several people after a mysterious event caused nearly everyone on the planet to simultaneously lose consciousness for two minutes and seventeen seconds on October 6, 2009. During this "blackout” people saw what appeared to be visions of their lives on April 29, 2010 - a global "flashforward”. Created by Brannon Braga and David S. Goyer, the series starred Joseph Fiennes, John Cho, Courtney B. Vance, Christine Woods, Jack Davenport, Sonia Walger and Dominic Monaghan.

When the series first aired in late September, it became an immediate ratings hit and stayed that way during its first ten (10) episodes. Then ABC made the decision to put the series on hiatus for three-and-a-half months. Why? I have no idea. But after the series resumed its run in mid-March 2010, its ratings tanked. In fact, the ratings remained low until it was finally cancelled by ABC some two-and-a-half months later. Does this story sound familiar? Why, yes it does. The very same fate nearly befell the CBS science-fiction/post-apocalypse series, ”JERICHO”. Thanks to a campaign by fans to save the series, ”JERICHO” was given a second season – which amounted to seven episodes that aired in a new time slot. Namely Tuesday nights at 10:00 PM. No amount of fan campaign could convince ABC to give ”FLASHFORWARD” a chance. But there are a good number of fans who are angry at how the network handled the series.

Yet, those critics and fans who did not criticize ABC’s handling of the series have claimed that ”FLASHFORWARD” was a failure that was destined for cancellation. Many of these critics and viewers claimed that the series failed to live up to the same quality as another ABC series, namely the pop culture hit, ”LOST”. Personally, I have a problem with this assessment of “FLASH FORWARD”. One, it was only in its first season. Its story had just begun. To expect it to be perfect right off the bat struck me as ridiculous. Now, I realize that both “LOST” and the NBC series, “HEROES”, managed to immediately dazzle U.S. viewers and critics with highly regarded series premieres and well written first seasons. But a closer look would reveal that after their remarkable first seasons, the storytelling qualities of both ”LOST” and ”HEROES” managed to do nothing but decline following their first seasons. And I believe that this was a major mistake for both shows. Both tried to maintain the momentum of their dazzling debuts . . . and failed. At least as I am concerned. Mind you, ”LOST” managed to occasionally deliver some exceptional episodes and story arcs over the years. But it was never delivered a consistently top-notched season after Season One. As for ”HEROES”, it simply went down the drain following its first season. How it managed to stay on the air for another three seasons simply amazed me.

Ever since the dazzling debuts of “LOST” and “HEROES”; television network executives have expected and demanded that other multi-seasonal series with a science-fiction/fantasy background repeat their initial success. I believe that this was a mistake. Some of the best science-fiction/fantasy television series I have seen have started out with a less than dazzling or even mediocre season debut. Good examples of this are “BABYLON 5″, “JERICHO” and “BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER”. Both ”BABYLON 5” and ”BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER” were given chances to fulfill their potential. Just as ”JERICHO” was developing into a well-written series, CBS permanently pulled its plug . . . aborting its chances of fulfilling any potential.

As I had stated earlier, “FLASH FORWARD” also started with a less than dazzling first season. I might as well be frank. It was not perfect. But I do believe that it had great potential to grow into a well written sagal. If the series had aired in the previous decade, I suspect that might have been given the chance to develop into something remarkable. It certainly had potential. But, we are stuck in the ”LOST” era of television broadcasting. Today’s television network executives do not seem to have the patience or willingness to give a series a chance to grow. They want and demand instant success. And unless they are willing to change their modis operandi, future science-fiction/fantasy television series with levels of qualities similar to “BABYLON 5″ and “BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER” threaten to become a thing of the past, never to be shown on television again. I certainly did not see that level of quality writing in shows like “LOST” or “HEROES”, despite their longevity on the air.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

”PRINCE OF PERSIA: SANDS OF TIME” Review




”PRINCE OF PERSIA: SANDS OF TIME” Review

Recently, I had listened to a radio talk show in which a movie reviewer compared Disney’s new movie, ”PRINCE OF PERSIA: SANDS OF TIME” to the 1962 Oscar winning film, ”LAWRENCE OF ARABIA”. Much to the detriment of the Disney film. And as I sat there and listened to him bash ”PRINCE OF PERSIA”, it occurred to me that there still were plenty of idiots in this world . . . including radio disc jockeys.

Directed by Mike Newell and based upon the 2003 video game, ”PRINCE OF PERSIA” is about an orphaned street urchin in sixth century Persia named Dastan whose gallant and courageous act at a marketplace attracts the attention of King Sharaman and leads to his adoption into the Royal Family. Fifteen years later, Dastan, his royal-blooded foster brothers, Prince Tus and Prince Garsiv, and his uncle, Prince Nizam are planning an attack on the sacred city of Alamut, which is believed to be selling weapons to their enemies. However, Persia’s successful invasion of Alamut eventually leads to a great deal of trouble for Dastan, when he is framed for the assassination of the king. With the help of Tamina, Princess of Alamut, Dastan eventually discovers that the invasion was nothing more than a means for the real assassin to search for a magical dagger that Dastan has already managed to get his hands on. The dagger enables to bearer to travel back in time. The assassin wants to use the dagger to overthrow the Persian Royal Family and seize the throne.

I had mixed feelings about watching ”PRINCE OF PERSIA: SANDS OF TIME”. A part of me was attracted to the idea of viewing another Disney live-action movie with a fantasy setting. Another part of me recalled my disappointment over Tim Burton’s rather flaccid movie, ”ALICE IN WONDERLAND”. Attraction and curiosity won out and I went to see the movie . . . despite my low expectations. Needless to say, I ended up enjoying the movie a lot.

Granted, the movie had its share of flaws. First of all, one had to endure some of the over-the-top dialogue that has plagued movies like ”SPIDER-MAN”, and from the ”STAR WARS”, ”LORD OF THE RINGS” and ”THE MUMMY” franchises. Some of the action sequences that featured actor Jake Gyllenhaal jumping all over the place struck me as a tad too frantic. It almost seemed as if Mike Newell and cinematographer John Seale had channeled Paul Greengrass and photographer Oliver Wood from the ”BOURNE” movies. I love actor Alfred Molina. I have been a fan of his for years. But I must admit that I found his performance as an ostrich racing-organizer named Sheik Ama waaaay over-the-top. Speaking of ostrich racing . . . WHAT THE HELL? I have never seen anything so ludicrous in my life. I mean . . . I could understand camel racing or even horse racing. But ostrich racing?

Yes, I do have some quibbles about the movie. And yes, I realize that it is not an example of artistic Hollywood movie making at its height. It is certainly not the best movie of this summer. But dammit! I liked it a lot. One, screenwriters Jordan Mechner, Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard wrote a very entertaining adaptation of the video game. I am certainly not familiar with it, but I did like the story. Not only was it filled with plenty of action and fantasy, it had a good, solid mystery over the identity of King Sharaman’s assassin. This mystery also served as the background of a well-written family drama involving Dastan and the Persian Royal Family. Most importantly, the movie’s script featured a funny and spirited romance between Dastan and Princess Tamina.

Speaking of the cast, I never thought I would see the day when I actually enjoy a sword-and-sand fantasy that featured Jake Gyllenhaal in the lead. He is not the type of actor I would associate with a costume movie from the Disney Studios. I must admit that for the movie’s first ten to twenty minutes, I found it difficult to accept Gyllenhaal in the role of a street urchin-turned-adopted member of the Persian Royal Family. But he seemed to be doing such a good job and I was becoming engrossed in the movie that I eventually overcame any unnecessary problems I had with him in the role. Most importantly, Gyllenhaal had great chemistry with Gemma Arterton, who portrayed Tamina. The only other movie I had seen Arterton in was the latest James Bond movie, ”QUANTUM OF SOLACE”. Honestly? I had not been that impressed by her performance in that movie. But I was impressed by her performance as Princess Tamina. She gave the character a strength and drive rarely seen in female roles from the past five or six summers. She also seemed to have better chemistry with actors that are from her generation . . . like Gyllenhaal.

Ben Kingsley gave a very subtle performance as Dastan’s adopted uncle, Prince Nizam. He did a great job in portraying the one character that acted as the Persian Royal Family’s backbone. Both Richard Coyle and Toby Kebbell gave solid performances as Dastan’s two royal brothers. However, I must admit that I did not find them particularly memorable. Steve Toussaint did a good job in portraying the dependable, yet intimidating Ngbaka knife thrower Seso. I certainly enjoyed his performance more than I did Alfred Molina’s. It seemed a pity that the latter’s character annoyed me so much. I also have to commend Gísli Örn Garðarsson, who portrayed the leader of the Hassansins, hired to kill Dastan and recover the dagger. For a character that did not say much, I found his performance particularly intimidating.

I have another confession. I was not that particularly enamored of Mike Newell’s direction of the 2005 movie, ”HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE”. And when I heard that he was the director of ”PRINCE OF PERSIA” . . . well, I was not expecting to be impressed by his latest work. ”GOBLET OF FIRE” had convinced me that Newell should avoid the science-fiction/fantasy genre. However, his direction of ”PRINCE OF PERSIA” proved me wrong. Sure, I could have done without some of the frantic action sequences. And I would never consider the movie to be on the same level as the ”PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN” movies. But I thought it was a pretty damn entertaining film.

Which brings me back to the radio disc jockey. Why did I consider him an idiot for comparing ”PRINCE OF PERSIA” to ”LAWRENCE OF ARABIA”? Who, in their right mind, would compare a summer Disney movie based upon a video game, with an Oscar winning film about a World War I hero? Who would be stupid enough to do this? Apparently that radio disc jockey was stupid enough to do so. And why did he do this? Because both movies were set in the Middle East. Go figure.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"PERSUASION" (2007) Photo Gallery



Below are images from "PERSUASION", the 2007 adaptation of Jane Austen's 1818 novel. Directed by Adrian Shergold, the movie starred Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones:


"PERSUASION" (2007) Photo Gallery