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News from Film Review
April 2001

Cruise the War MagicianCruise: could he be magic?
Tom Cruise is in the news regarding the breakdown of his marriage to Nicole Kidman, but on the movie front he has just finished filming Vanilla Sky, goes straight into Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report and, if Paramount Pictures gets its way, will start The War Magician immediately afterwards. Paramount has bought the film rights to David Fisher’s 1983 book based on a true World War II story, expressly as a starring vehicle for Cruise.

The fascinating story revolves around Jasper Maskelyne, a handsome and famous British stage magician who believed he could adapt the basic principles of stage magic to fighting the Germans. He went on to create one of the most bizarre but effective units in the British Army during World War II, putting his unique talents to work for the British cause, elevating camouflage from a casual art to a major weapon in the war. His accomplishments were astounding as he made the Suez Canal disappear, moved the Alexandria Harbour and helped create a phantom army before the battle of El Alamein.

Election star wins our vote!Reese's pieces
Reese Witherspoon will star in and produce the movie adaptation of Melissa Banks’ best-selling short story collection The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing. Combining two of the short stories, The Worst Thing a Suburban Girl Can Imagine and My Old Man, the comedy-drama will follow a young woman’s journey through the New York publishing world and her relationship with one of its luminaries as her father battles a terminal illness.

“When I read the book, I knew immediately that this was a character I had to play,” Witherspoon said. Co-producer Jeremy Barber added, “Reese is one of the smartest actors I know. Her mix of humour and purposefulness will help perfectly realize Banks’ heroine. We are delighted she will also lend her producing energy as a collaborator on the development of these stories.” The project marks Witherspoon’s second feature as a producer, following the upcoming drama Slow Motion, based on Dani Shapiro’s best-selling novel. It’s a coming-of-age story concerning a young woman who, through a relationship with an older man, reconnects with her Jewish identity.

Jude gets huntedDown in the park
Jude Law, Emily Watson, Helen Mirren, Michael Gambon, Stephen Fry and Kristin Scott Thomas are among the bevy of top British actors lined up to star in director Robert Altman’s period picture Gosford Park. Altman’s screenplay, about the relations among different social classes in Thirties Britain, takes its inspiration from the Jean Renoir French classic La Regle du Jeu. “It’s the story of a hunting party, with a murder in a house where the masters are surrounded by numerous servants,” Altman said.

Cusack’s Cosmic Banditos
Here’s the science bit: John Cusack John Cusack will star in and produce Cosmic Banditos based on the soon-to-be-republished novel by AC Weisbecker following the adventures of some Colombian marijuana smugglers on the lam in the jungle. Cusack will play the American expatriate in the group. “It’s just really original,” said Cusack. “It deals with quantum mechanics in a gung-ho sort of way. The smugglers’ chaotic and random lives are suddenly given meaning by the laws of subatomic physics. They have a quantum epiphany about how their lives are governed by particles.”

Cusack said he became interested in physics while shooting the 1989 picture Fat Man and Little Boy in New Mexico when he was 21. The film allowed him to spend time discussing the Manhattan Project and the Los Alamos labs with physicists consulting on the picture. “Those first atomic physicists were real cowboys,” he explained, “Like mystics, only they dealt with numbers instead of language.”

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