ACQUITTAL OF OPINION STARS OF 'THE LIFE OF DAVID GALE' SET DEATH-PENALTY POLITICS ASIDE TO CONCENTRATE ON MAKING A GOOD THRILLER.Byline: Bob Strauss Film Writer
When is a movie about the death penalty not about the death penalty? Is it when somebody in the marketing department decides that more tickets will be sold if it's pitched primarily as a thriller?
Either that, or the three very fine actors who star in ``The Life of David Gale'' - Kevin Spacey spac·ey
Variant of spacy.
Adj. 1. spacey - stupefied by (or as if by) some narcotic drug
unconventional - not conventional or conformist; "unconventional life styles" , Kate Winslet <noinclude></noinclude>
Kate Elizabeth Winslet (born October 5, 1975) is a five-time Academy Award-nominated, Emmy Award-nominated, BAFTA, Grammy and Screen Actors Guild Award-winning English actress. and Laura Linney - found so much else about their characters intriguing that the issues the film raises seemed genuinely secondary.
As they say down in Texas, whose active Death Row much of the film revolves around, you be the judge.
``Let's take it on the face of it,'' says two-time Academy Award winner Spacey, who plays the title role of an anti-death penalty college professor who is convicted of murdering a colleague. ``It's a movie, it's not real life. And while it does have this issue in it, I hope the issue doesn't outweigh the entertainment value of what we hope is a pretty good thriller. I think if people refer to it as 'the death penalty movie,' it does a disservice dis·ser·vice
A harmful action; an injury.
a harmful action
Noun 1. to the picture we've tried to make.''
Acclaimed stage, film (``The Truman Show,'' ``You Can Count on Me'') and Emmy-winning (Showtime's ``Wild Iris'') actress Linney echoes Spacey's just-a-movie comment about ``Gale,'' which was reportedly made from the first draft of the first sold screenplay by philosophy professor Charles Randolph. She also acknowledges that whatever interest she has in the controversial subject matter was not a major reason for signing on to the project.
``To be honest with you, very, very little,'' Linney, who plays Gale's fellow academic and anti-execution activist, says of the death penalty theme factor. ``That's not something I'm necessarily proud of, or ashamed by either, for that matter. It's just that the part was so interesting. And the people are interesting. For me, it's not so much about the cause; it's how the cause affects people's lives and what it is to be saturated by that type of passionate commitment. It's just a fascinating world to go into.''
As for Winslet, who plays a hard-charging journalist trying to suss out suss out
Brit, Austral & NZ slang to work out (a situation or a person's character), using one's intuition [from suspect]
Verb 1. the truth about the murder days before Gale's scheduled execution, there's nothing like dodging a worrisome question with her customary bluntness.
``I'm just so nervous to even talk about this, to be honest, because it's such a fine-line subject,'' the English ``Titanic'' actress admits. ``I decided that my own personal feelings toward the death penalty, I'm not going to discuss. Just because it's private, I'm not prepared to, and I don't think that it has, actually, any bearing on what the film is about. The point about this film that I keep finding myself stressing is that, in actual fact, I don't think it really forces you to form an opinion either way. If it does put across any kind of message, it's pretty muddled mud·dle
v. mud·dled, mud·dling, mud·dles
1. To make turbid or muddy.
2. To mix confusedly; jumble.
3. To confuse or befuddle (the mind), as with alcohol. , really. The movie, to me, is really a thriller. The political aspects of it are simply undertones and provide a backdrop for this story.''
Not a diatribe di·a·tribe
A bitter, abusive denunciation.
[Latin diatriba, learned discourse, from Greek diatrib
This approach is par for the course for director Alan Parker, whose sporadic forays into political cinema (``Midnight Express,'' ``Mississippi Burning,'' ``Come See the Paradise,'' ``Evita'') have couched their points in suspense, romance or musical film genre conventions.
``If it had been a political diatribe, you wouldn't get to the audience; you're going to bore them very quickly and they might not listen at all,'' says the British filmmaker, a death penalty opponent whose other works include ``Fame,'' ``Angela's Ashes'' and ``The Commitments.'' ``So the thriller part of this film is the locomotive that drags the political point behind it, really.''
But what, exactly, is that point? Unlike ``Dead Man Walking,'' a film made by an identifiably liberal director (Tim Robbins Timothy Francis Robbins (born October 16, 1958) is an American Academy Award-winning actor, screenwriter, director, producer, activist and musician. He is the longtime partner of actress Susan Sarandon, with whom he shares liberal political views. ) that made no bones about either its subject or sympathies, yet tried to fairly cover the divisive issue of state executions from all perspectives, ``Gale'' offers up a convoluted convoluted /con·vo·lut·ed/ (kon?vo-lldbomact´ed) rolled together or coiled. puzzle to be solved. More than one, actually; while Winslet's magazine reporter Bitsey Bloom strives to prove Gale innocent as the clock ticks One increment, or pulse, of the CPU clock. See clock speed and clock. , flashbacks narrated by the convict involve us deeply in his and Constance Harraway's (Linney) lives before death demolished them.
Yet, at an early stage, the crusading Gale is revealed to be a man of many weaknesses, among them overweening pride, alcoholism and low resistance to opportunities for infidelity.
In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , not the most pristine point man for a moral campaign against a popular, if questionable, government policy.
``Is he supposed to be a poster boy?'' Spacey asks rhetorically. ``I always laugh when people say to me, 'So, you seem to like to play characters with flaws.' I think to myself, what else is there? I don't see anything else. Ultimately, I don't worry too much about that. You have to be able to play a character without making judgments about it, and you have to be able to play a character for all their strengths and all their weaknesses and let the chips fall where they may. Audiences are going to come up with their own reaction, and it won't be universal.
``In fact, I have to say that, if this movie has any kind of message, it is decidedly messy and unclear. I will be curious to see how people both write stories about the movie and review the movie based on their own personal opinions of the issue.''
Especially when the principals won't share theirs.
``You may ask away,'' Linney laughs when pitched the Issue Question. ``And you know what? At the next interview, I will be more than happy to blab what I think about the death penalty to you at the top of my lungs. The reason why is because if I tell you what I believe and someone reads it, it's just gonna go in the back of their mind, in the Rolodex of information that they keep. And if they go see the movie, at one point during the film, it will flash through their mind what I think, and that just has no place. I want them thinking about what she thinks, not what I think.''
Of the three, Spacey is most forthcoming on the divisive subject. But then, his feelings are so evenly balanced, he doesn't have to worry about turning off potential ticket buyers.
``I didn't really have a position on the issue when I started the movie,'' he says. ``I've certainly read a lot. I had the opportunity, years ago, to play (legendary defense lawyer) Clarence Darrow, who certainly had some of the most eloquent words you could ever hope to hear on the idea of stopping the state from killing. But, at the same time, I've never had my sister murdered, so how the hell am I supposed to know what that feels like? I think that one has to pay attention to both sides of an issue like this that seems to polarize po·lar·ize
v. po·lar·ized, po·lar·iz·ing, po·lar·iz·es
1. To induce polarization in; impart polarity to.
2. To cause to concentrate about two conflicting or contrasting positions. people so terribly.''
That speaks to the major thing all three stars will admit they took away from the ``Gale'' effort: a better understanding of the specifics behind the debate.
``Of course, in preparing for it, I had to read up a lot about the system and so forth,'' notes Winslet, who comes from a culture in which capital punishment capital punishment, imposition of a penalty of death by the state. History
Capital punishment was widely applied in ancient times; it can be found (c.1750 B.C.) in the Code of Hammurabi. is not practiced. ``I had to read some stuff that, frankly, I didn't like reading. When research materials are giving you information about prisoners' last meals, that's not nice. In fact, I got halfway through a lot of the material and I just had to stop reading it because it's very, very depressing just to know those things. So I ended up focusing much more on just the journalism side and creating who Bitsey really was.''
``I learned a lot,'' Linney admits. ``And it really illuminated for me the fact that a lot of my political beliefs are, with certain issues, emotionally based. They're an instinctive response to something. And I realized how uneducated I am about most issues. When you do do the research and you realize how much information there is about things and you've never taken the time to look at it, it's a little startling star·tle
v. star·tled, star·tling, star·tles
1. To cause to make a quick involuntary movement or start.
2. To alarm, frighten, or surprise suddenly. See Synonyms at frighten. . And that's not to say that an emotional response is invalid, but it's not necessarily an educated response.''
Of course, movies are sold as emotional experiences. And whatever may be off-putting about the ``The Life of David Gale's'' subject matter or partisan sympathies, how it involves audiences' hearts more than their minds will, rightly or wrongly, determine the film's success.
``I thought the part was enormously inviting and the journey that he goes on was a wild ride,'' Spacey avers . ``But I also think that, if you look at Alan's work, any time he has a film that has some kind of political center or Avers is a municipality in the district of Hinterrhein in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. social injustice Social Injustice is a concept relating to the perceived unfairness or injustice of a society in its divisions of rewards and burdens. The concept is distinct from those of justice in law, which may or may not be considered moral in practice. as the issue it's grappling with, he always manages to make the politics subversive to the emotional lives of the characters. So you end up following a very personal story, rather than a polemic po·lem·ic
1. A controversial argument, especially one refuting or attacking a specific opinion or doctrine.
2. A person engaged in or inclined to controversy, argument, or refutation.
adj. or a banner waving in your face.''
After making the harrowing capital punishment drama ``The Life of David Gale,'' its three principal actors deserved some kind of reprieve reprieve (rĭprēv`): in law, see pardon. . Here's what they're doing next.
She's reteamed with director Clint Eastwood (``Absolute Power'') for the murder mystery ``Mystic River For other uses, see Mystic River (disambiguation)
The Mystic River is the name of a short river in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States. Its name derives from the Native American word "Missi-Tuk", which translates to "great tidal river", and it lies to the ,'' in which she plays Sean Penn's wife; she's also made the multipart British romantic comedy ``Love Actually'' with Brazilian heartthrob Rodrigo Santoro Rodrigo Junqueira dos Reis Santoro, pron. IPA: [xo'dɾigu ʒũ'kejɾɐ dus 'xejs sɐ͂'tɔru], (born August 22, 1975) is a Brazilian actor. (``He's from the planet of Handsome,'' Linney reports). Both films will be released in the fall.
Next up is a movie about pioneering sex researchers the Kinseys with Liam Neeson, her co-star co·star also co-star
A starring actor or actress given equal status with another or others in a play or film.
tr. & intr.v. co·starred, co·star·ring, co·stars
To act or present as a costar. in the acclaimed recent Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's ``The Crucible crucible, vessel in which a substance is heated to a high temperature, as for fusing or calcining. The necessary properties of a crucible are that it maintain its mechanical strength and rigidity at high temperatures and that it not react in an undesirable way with .'' ``Now we're playing husband and wife again, and it's really sort of hysterical that this is the reincarnation reincarnation (rē'ĭnkärnā`shən) [Lat.,=taking on flesh again], occupation by the soul of a new body after the death of the former body. of that Puritan couple,'' she notes.
The ``American Beauty'' and ``Usual Suspects'' star plans to continue a year-plus hiatus from headlining movies while developing films and plays through his Trigger Street Productions Trigger Street Productions is an entertainment production company formed by Kevin Spacey in 1997. Its credits include Beyond the Sea, The United States of Leland and The Big Kahuna on screen, as well as stage productions of The Iceman Cometh and Cobb.
TriggerStreet. company (named for the location of his childhood home in Chatsworth). Spacey is also behind TriggerStreet.com, an interactive Web site where thousands of aspiring filmmakers and screenwriters This is a list of screenwriters: A–F
But perhaps the biggest venture on Spacey's plate is London's venerable Old Vic Old Vic, London repertory company and theater. The Old Vic theater opened in 1818 as the Coburg, and was renamed the Royal Victoria in 1833, soon familiarized to the Old Vic. Theatre, for which he's just been named artistic director. ``I think it's going to be easy,'' Spacey says of the time-consuming appointment. ``There's this misconception mis·con·cep·tion
A mistaken thought, idea, or notion; a misunderstanding: had many misconceptions about the new tax program. about how many movies a person does in a year; I mean, I'm lucky if I get one movie a year that's worth doing. So, if I'm going to run a theater for six or so months, then I'll make a movie when I'm done with that season.
``I don't see in any way, shape or form that it's going to affect my film career. And I hope to use what's happened in my film career as a magnet for actors and playwrights and designers and audiences to come on down, 'cause there's gonna be some fun stuff happening.''
She has ``Neverland,'' the biography of ``Peter Pan'' author J.M. Barrie, coming out this summer. She's currently making ``Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless spot·less
1. Perfectly clean. See Synonyms at clean.
2. Free from blemish; impeccable.
spotless·ly adv. Mind,'' a romantic comedy involving memory loss written by ``Adaptation's'' Charlie Kaufman and co-starring Jim Carrey “James Carrey” redirects here. For the murder conspirator, see James Carey.
James Eugene Carrey (born January 17, 1962) is a Canadian actor and comedian. .
But, obviously, she's not out to match the success of ``Titanic,'' the most popular movie ever made.
``To be honest, I've just continued in the same vein which I always have done,'' the 27-year-old English actress says. ``Which is that I've only really done things which I've absolutely, passionately believed in. When I read 'Titanic,' I fell passionately in love with it. That it became the most successful movie ever made was just a freak thing - I didn't see that coming.
``But after that, I just carried on the same old way. I'd be lying if I said that career opportunity didn't go through the roof. But actually, it would've been stupid for me to go out and try to top 'Titanic.' Who would want to do that?''
8 photos, box
(1 -- 3 -- cover -- color) `DAVID GALE'
Kate Winslet, Laura Linney and Kevin Spacey bring a Death Row dilemma to life
(4) Kevin Spacey and Laura Linney play opponents of capital punishment in ``The Life of David Gale.'' Says Spacey, ``I hope the issue doesn't outweigh the entertainment value.''
(5) Kate Winslet (with Gabriel Mann Gabriel Mann can refer to:-
(6) LAURA LINNEY
(7) KEVIN SPACEY
(8) KATE WINSLET
After `Life' (see text)