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June 6, 2001     Beverly Hills Weekly
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June 6, 2001
 

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arts @ Bombs Away! Success Of "Titanic" Allowed Well-Known Action Serious Historical Subject Director To Tackle By Justin Levine When James Cameron's "Titanic" became an international hih a few critics lamented the fact thai it would likely inspire a series of intolerably long films marked by poor dialogue and set against a spe- cial e[fectsdaden historical backdrop The 'TitaniC' blueprint can be summed lip ~s follows: I. ~First 60 - 90 minutes of screen lime1 ~l'LIt, ng lovers develop a l~lnlance only to he thwarted by love triangle or sthlilar complication~ 0e Kate Winslct loves Ueonardn DiCaptm, bul is aheach sel Irish pffates plunder a ship to avoid stama- to marry Bill~ 7mnc.) tion in 'The rmat ldsh Potato Famine of 2 (Ncxt 4(l (glminuresll~xternahlisastcrbehdls M45 our lovers and their surrounding s(~.'iet~ (i The Titamc sinks) 3 (Filial 40 - 60 minules) The external disaslcr helps to resob,'e Ihe complications inherent in the romance, but not with~ut a tragic price tic The sinking of rilg ship ailov.s Kate Winslct to elude Billy Zane. pledge her eterlml Io~e ~o Leo, and find the strength to condnue livthg e~en though Leo dies of hypolhevmia.) What this fOmluJa brings about is a 3 hour film marked by an hour oI bad melodranla on eath end and punctuated hy a middle section of intense action via digital eiJecl.', Throw into the mix a sappy overused score thai lacks any pretense of subtlely and a multi million dollar markClthg campaign and you ha~e a sure-tlre hit on your hands With the millions that r'Tit ante" raked in. it was only a maltcr of thne be fi)r another hal aclitln director thllowed the formula with his own hi~lorical disaster picture Phe old) questions remathPlg: Who would die direclor be'~ What historical disaster? At long last, the questions have tinnily I'~en answered ~dh the arrival el Johu Wt~.~'s "7'he Great Irish Potato l:amine el 1845 "Woo, director of such action greats as "Broken A r ro',~" and "Mission Impossible 2," has set his sights m a much grallder and mc~re serious can~ a~ this time "The Great lhsh Potato Familte el 1845" (or (;]PF lg45" as it is known Iroln 1110 imlrketh~g p(~stcrsl stars Brad Pitt and Keanu Reeves as a pair el Irish potato tarmers who also haplxm ~o he hem lricnds Pltt ends up I~allthg hw a newly alTi;ed agricultural surveyor pla~ed b~ Cameron Diaz. l'hings :tie going im;t lille unlil Pill loses his legs in an accident caused b~ a ne,x hlduslrhll pot:lto-pickhlg in.'[ -hine Diaz and Reeves presum ~ tim Pitt h is led al d spend several monlhs moumthg his loss. Recvcsa dI) az y )~eonv, herl~esw en hc) dsc ver t Icy have lallen in k)ve with each other, now that Pitt is a distant memo~'. Htth dramatic relurn scls Ihe stage i~l a lose triangle explosion when the p:rsonal drama is inlClXUptcd by Ihe Great Potato Famine from the Iihn's title Pitl, Reevc~, and Diaz don't atv.ays have the mosl cotlvincdlg Irish accenls, but Ihey bring in enotlgh star power to make the screen sizzIe with excdcmen~ Ior the adolescent crowd that the ~lllll is inatkeled to As y(~u would expecl on a production Ihis sort, rio cxpensc was ~;pared ill the production design to truly bring alive the details el lgth CenlUlff Ireland. Fhe cthemalography is lush and exquisile throughout Hans Zimmer's cnlolinnal score is u~cd in vilxually every ~cene to remind us how wc need I(~ lecl in case the ~rilillg doesn't d(~ thai t()r us The script is chock Bd] el scintillating fines of dialogue like this one lmm Pitt: r, When you arc planting the potatc's it's as though the dirt becomes pan ( ~,ou " Or s. when Diaz tenderly coniesses to Pitt: "My heaa behmgs to him, bul I will never look upen another potalo without thinking el you" And let's not leave out Diaz's closing ~oicc*ovcr proclaiming. "Dunng the famine, Ireland knew only hunger With the p~lssing of the famine, Ireland now knew fuliillmenU' The love story is gripping enough, but the film really comes into its element when the tamine gets rolling 90- mthules into the plot Amazing advances in digital lechnology allow the audience to see millions of potatoes shrivel up and turn to dust while villagers slowly waste away into skin and bone. One sho~ shows a single drop of rain falling from the sky while the camera follows il all the way down until it hits a potato spud Every penny of the $140 million budget ended up on the screen Of course, director Woo also gets in his trademark shots - slow motions of villagers throwing potatoes into barrels. White doves fly and perch on the wasting crops. Sometimes Woo's direct- ing style comes at the expense of historical accuracy that has caused controversy n some cir- cles. Hnwever, such films are made as more of a platform for historical discussion rather than a definitive historical statement. Let there be no doubt that popular action directors should be able to tackle imporlant historical events in their films With the thevilahle success of "The Great Irish Potato Famine of I g45," one can jusl imagine the other "q3tanic"-style projects that are certain to get green lighled in }tofiywot)d Joel Silver producing "Antietam" directed by Richard Donner arid stamng Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes? Or better yet, Jerry B~ckheimer producing "Pearl Harbor" directed by Michael Bay and starring Ben Ameck'r Na~,, On second thought that could never happen. Not even Hofiywocd would come up with an idea thai silly, i www,talktiUudrop.com to sicjn up online [I~ 4 Beverly Hills WeeNy Residential Unlimited Loncj Distance and Local Toll Calls 24 hours a day * 7 days a week Simply dial the local access number plus 1 And the area code and talk till you drop Commercial rates also available Call 310-494- 5101 for a free 30 minute phone card or visit