This is a movie of confrontations, of dreamlike moments dissolving into micro nightmares, but it is hardly a conventional battle of the sexes story.
Q. I go to UCLA and live in Westwood. Obviously I live around a great number of theaters and very close to Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Brentwood, and Holmby Hills. So, when movie stars want to go to movies they go around here. I went to see "Primal Fear." While we were in line Woody Harrelson bought a ticket and went in. OK. Not so bad. He wasn't looking for attention but unfortunately he received it. Before my girlfriend and I got to the ticket counter, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman walked by (quickly) and as I watched heads turn everywhere: In line, on the corner, and all along the sidewalk up to and I suppose in the movie they went to see ("The Birdcage"). Now for my question. They are actors, they are people, they feel, talk, dress like everyone else. People point, stare, gawk, and follow their every move. Not very conducive to a normal lifestyle. They chose that profession and are not blind to reality. They know that stars are followed, stared at, touched, etc. I would suppose two actors such as Cruise and Kidman would have the ability and sources to ask for a copy of "The Birdcage" for their personal viewing. That would allow them the luxury of never being gawked at. Yet they CHOOSE to go out in public. They also know the consequences. They get upset knowing they can never sit down at a corner coffee shop and drink coffee without a horde descending upon them. Should they expect a normal life? Are the outings they make an attempt to hold up the mask of normalcy or are they masochists who seek out problems with their every excursion into the land of the normal? (Frank Chartrand, Westwood, Calif.)
Q. Will Warner Bros. will try at some point to revitalize the Superman franchise through a Batman film, a la "The Dark Knight Returns?" I think it would be interesting to see. (Francisco L. Mendez, Dallas, Tx.)
Q. You have stated that "Braveheart" is the most violent film to ever win the Oscar as best picture. That ignores cinema history: See "Silence of the Lambs," "Unforgiven," "Godfather 1 and 2," and "Platoon." Mel Gibson reacted with stunned aplomb to your question on TV, and rightly so. (James Buchanan, Antioch, Calif.)
Q. Re the fact that "Fargo" is not, as it claims, based on a true story: I get a bad taste in my mouth when someone goes out of their way to assure me that something's a true story and it turns out they were just trying to manipulate me. "This is a true story" does absolutely nothing to enhance "Fargo," and only serves to make me insert the phrase "Yeah, but remember that the first thing we see is a lie: None of this happened" somewhere in my mental review. I just don't think that's cricket. Sure, suggest that it really happened. Imply it. But when I'm told right at the top that something's a true story, I involuntarily invest more in the thing, emotionally. When I learn that was a deliberate lie, I felt manipulated to an extent. Still one _hell_ of a movie, of course. (Andy Ihnatko, Westwood, Mass.)
Q. Re: Richard Corliss' review in Time, where he accused the Coen brothers of making fun of Minnesotans in their movie "Fargo." As a 23-year resident of the Coen brothers' home town, it was crystal clear to me that their portrayal of Minnesota culture was derived from their love of it, not to make fun of it. Not that it wasn't hilarious. When Marge was standing out in the field saying "this execution-type thing" probably wasn't committed by "anyone from Brainerd," the 900 people who packed the Uptown Theater in Minneapolis for last Saturday's 4:30 p.m. show laughed longer and louder than I'd ever heard from a movie audience in this state. Maybe Corliss should stop making judgments about who's making fun of whom when he has no clue about the sense of humor he's critiquing. (Seymour Uranowitz, St. Louis Park, Minn.)
Q. Are there bets taken in Las Vegas for the Academy Awards, just as for the Super Bowl or other sports? I'm no a gambling man--I'm just curious. (Cullen Daley, Chicago).
Q. In the HBO movie "The Late Shift," did anyone else notice the large number of instances when angry agents and network execs slammed the mouthpieces of their cell phones closed, akin to slamming down the receiver of a normal phone? And did anyone notice that when someone angrily slammed their shut cell phone, the person on the other end always looked shocked, staring at the phone as if hearing a dial tone? Folding the mouthpiece shut on a cell phone has absolutely no effect on a connection. (Mark Firmani, Seattle)
Q. I read wonderful reviews of excellent movies and then the film vanishes. I'm dying to see "Persuasion," so where is it? (Mrs. M. Stern, Gary, Indiana)
Q. Do you ever cry at a movie? (Richard Kuzniak, Etobicoke, Ontario)
Q. Does complexity ever play a role in how a film gets rated? Some films may not be appropriate for young children, not because of offensive content, but because they won't understand. It's difficult in some cases to understand why a film has a PG-13 rating unless complexity is a factor. It would seem to make sense, but I've never heard that complexity was a consideration. My family had a long discussion on this recently. (Ellen White, Madison, Wis.)