STARRING Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst, Susan Sarandon
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY Cameron Crowe
Here is a piece of direction we feel confident Bloom never got from the directors of The Lord of the Rings, Kingdom of Heaven, or Troy: ''This is a Jack Lemmon moment.'' The artist formerly known as Legolas got that particular stage whisper from Billy Wilder venerator Crowe on the set of Elizabethtown, a comic drama that has its leading man living a life of quiet and, more exciting for him, present-day desperation.
''I was psyched to get to play a contemporary character,'' says Bloom, ''and a role without a sword, or a bow and arrow. But what was really amazing was getting to do that with Cameron, because he really goes on a journey of the heart.'' And a journey of the Lemmon. ''I watched The Apartment maybe five times,'' Bloom confides, sharing his inspiration for ''that kind of quirky, out-there behavior that comes out when your whole world is falling apart.''
That describes the psychological lot of Bloom's character Drew, a workaholic who suffers the double whammy of a crushing professional failure and his father's death. Then he runs into Claire (Dunst), a stewardess who makes Drew a mixtape/map that sends him driving into the American heartland to find the meaning of life. The script ''started out being about losing my dad,'' Crowe says, ''and ended up a celebration of what it is to be truly alive. And it's still a comedy.''
Crowe's 2000 Oscar winner Almost Famous went through multiple edits on its way to the big screen (Crowe's preferred, longer ''Untitled'' cut is on DVD). But Crowe insists there'll be only one edition of Elizabethtown, and it will include all the ''in-between'' moments that ground a movie in reality. ''When I tested a shorter version, the focus group said, 'Let this movie be longer. It's not like other movies, and thank you for making something different. Put more in.' I loved that audience.'' OCT. 14
WALLACE & GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT
STARRING The voices of Peter Sallis, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Peter Kay
WRITTEN BY Bob Baker, Steve Box, Mark Burton, Nick Park
DIRECTED BY Steve Box, Nick Park
In a Woody Allen movie, everybody talks like Woody Allen. And in any project involving Nick Park, the reigning auteur of clay animation, you can recognize his hand immediately in the designs of his plasticine-figure stars the toothy overbites on human characters, the doorknob noses, the round button eyes and big, fleshy hands with fingers waggling with excitement.
Back in 1989, Park blazed a name in 'toon history with the five-minute talking-animal survey Creature Comforts, which won the Oscar for Best Animated Short, and A Grand Day Out, a 23-minute opus that introduced befuddled, cheese-loving inventor Wallace and his silent dog, Gromit. Through two more Oscar-winning W&G adventures (The Wrong Trousers in '93 and A Close Shave in '95), Disney made overtures about doing features. Instead, Park and his Bristol, England-based cohorts at Aardman Animations signed up with ex-Mouse House chief Jeffrey Katzenberg and DreamWorks. The partnership yielded 2000's Chicken Run, a $106.8 million hit in North America, but a planned second feature based on the tortoise-and-hare fable foundered in script development.