Although Universal’s publicity department has asked that journalists refrain from spilling the secrets of Oblivion, the major revelations, once they arrive, will hardly surprise anyone familiar with Total Recall, The Matrix and the countless other sci-fi touchstones hovering over this striking, visually resplendent adventure. Pitting the latest action-hero incarnation of Tom Cruise against an army of alien marauders, director Joseph Kosinski’s follow-up to Tron: Legacy is a moderately clever dystopian mindbender with a gratifying human pulse, despite some questionable narrative developments along the way. The less-than-airtight construction and conventional resolution may rankle genre devotees, though hardly to the detriment of robust overall B.O. more »
Even though it's something of a slick mess, Madonna's W.E. is just the kind of movie you'd expect from an artist who once, with a delightful lack of irony, declared herself a material girl. A weirdly sympathetic portrait of Wallis Simpson, the woman for whom a king gave up his throne, W.E. is the story of a life told through stuff: Evening gloves, cocktail shakers, baubles from Cartier, little hats trimmed with netting. It's as if Madonna went back in time and forgot to talk to actual people, to find out how they lived and what they thought -- but she sure did a lot of shopping.
W.E. wasn't just an undertaking for Madonna, who directed her Wallis Simpson/Edward VIII biopic with all the lavish heft of a gigantic watercolor landscape. It was also a labor of love for Andrea Riseborough, the 30-year-old actress playing Simpson, the American socialite whose romance with Edward led to his abdication of the throne in 1936. The film's most enjoyable asset, Riseborough was saddled with making the polarizing Simpson a wholly charismatic figure -- an Evita without the benefit of torch songs. She succeeds, and with her thoroughly photogenic Edward (James D'Arcy) in tow, she softens W.E.'s melodrama with fantastic ease. We caught up with Riseborough to discuss her fascinating director, her feelings about the subject matter, and the zaniness of the Venice Film Festival.
I am obviously a thundering shill for Madonna whether she's making terrible movies with her ex-husband or making terrible movies with Griffin Dunne, but there's something about W.E.'s self-serious, accidental telenovela that's not even watchably bad. It's just humorless and overlong -- though Andrea Riseborough is fabulous as the polarizing Wallis Simpson. In a new 24-minute documentary about Madonna's big feature, the director and her cast do their best to sell their watercolored biopic, and I tell you what? They do a good job. Don't ask me to explain it. But James D'Arcy still looks like Anthony Perkins, so shut up and start crying in adoration.