Why the top-365-songs list isn't a stupid idea
Actors sink their teeth into vampire roles
Gregory Corso: My encounter with a Beat legend
Golden Globes: Sleazy and proud of it
In the offing, Clinton continent looms
"NYPD Blue" opener: The misery continues
New movie genre: Reclusive authors anonymous
"West Wing," "Ally," et al.: Words, words, words
When TV shows outstay their welcome
Film critics dig their own graves with "Angels" review
Great Robert Altman films you never
Famous folk, next week in the arts, show business briefs
"Time regained": Proust in the multiplex
Glitterati is dead, long live Popfocus
Carl Barks: The man who put the ducks in Duckburg
"Almost Famous": Lester Bangs rises from the dead
Liz Hurley wins in war of words with Jane mag
Douglas poses with Zeta-Jones, and baby-makes three
Weddings that aren't: Douglas, Zeta-Jones, Madonna, Ritchie
The Emmy War: A half-century of coast-to-coast feuding
Jennifer Love Hewitt plays the Iglesias odds
It's raining books by and about Trumps
What's in a mane? Blond woman in the news
Liz Hurley denies dissing ex-beau
Rock Hall of Infamy: Anti-heroes from Elvis to Eminem
Barbra tix bankrupt fans
Laurels for Kathie Lee to rest on
Hillary "In bed" with De Niro, Cruise, Kidman
How "Sopranos," "West Wing" will divvy up awards
This just in: Donald Trump is not a dope
Walter Matthau: A rumpled old dog in the heart of the city
Sampras to take a stroke at wedding bells
Who wants to host "Monday Night Football"?
Queen rewards Tina Brown for demoralizing American readers
How the Korean War cane to TV land 20 years late
Ivanka Trump: From catwalk to commencement line
Lester Bangs: The troublesome punk who wouldn't die
Rags clash over Ted Turner "romance"
With straight face, Trump deems Marla's move "tacky"
"Friends" re-up for another season of top ratings, top money
Madonna in denial, and rightly so
"Suburbia": The continental subdivide
Howard Stern, Sly Stallone in bizarre, apocryphal triangle
Easter video viewing: "Spartacus" to "Harvey"
Billy’s in the news: Bob, Joel in love but not with other
"Charles's Angels" movie: Dispiriting news for old-time fans
Innovative career move for 'NYPD Blue' co-star
Top model: Why I gave oldish rocker husband the heave-ho
Unpleasantville: The awful truth about old-time TV families
Tina Brown held captive in desert by demanding children
Anybody's Oscar: Unusually suspenseful awards show looms
Oscar telecast: Looking for a few good hosts
"Lambs," "Beauty": Oscar's love affair with unacceptable behavior
Brad Pitt, Oscar to be in same room at same time
Letterman bites guest-host bullet: Andrew "Dice" Clay, call your agent
Seinfeld eyes East Hampton manse: Where's the welcome wagon?
"Mod Squad" Immortal dishes couple du jour
Brad Pitt's second thoughts about Oscar
Mike McCurry praises "West Wing": It's not entirely demeaning,,,"
Memo to "Hannibal" producers: Get Najimy while the getting's good
Don't Invite Gwyneth and Oscar to the same party
True or false: Douglas, Zeta-Jones don't even know each other
Ex-Clinton honcho linked to ex-"Cheers" costar
Third party cited in Trump-Knauss breakup
Gossip queen goes to bat for Talk mag
20th century's No. 1 hit: "Satisfaction" hits the spot
Statement: Spice girl's marital problems insoluble
Charlie Brown, Pogo and me
From Howdy to Charlie Brown, we hate to say goodbye
The Beatle George: While his guitar gently weeps
Jodie Foster's people in mild tiff with CBS
A Peanuts trivia Q&A
Publicist: Boyle still joined at hip
There's video in your future and future in your video
"The future is now": Hit rewind
Whitney Houston presides over confluence of talent
Jim Carrey's flack earns A "D," Cher's A "B-minus"
Geraldo: bye-bye, doghouse
Michael Douglas does nothing much, reporters go wild
Ricky Martin on Menudo: Look back in anger
How to outsmart Halloween crowds at the video store
Tom Cruise puts himself in harm's way, only not really
1800-1900: Steaming towards revolution
1700-1800: Liberty, equality and bloodshed
1600-1700: The earth moves; North America is settled
Trump mulls travel plans, from altar to White House
"Faces of Impressionism" Time machine made of canvas, paint
Major quakes aren't personal unless they happen to you
Brad Pitt gracious about character assassination
Director insists Harrison Ford is not a brainless hulk
Costner, Willis, Douglas. Branagh, Sting_ in that order
Streisand: Color her ready to plug her new album
Julia and Benjamin's rings devoid of significance, flack says
Literary mud wrestling, featuring Geri and The Spice Girls
Urgent news: Ford to replace Gibson on "GMA" eventually
She married a monster from outer space
Never mind Godzilla VS. Mothra, Here's Trump VS. Cronkite
Spurned by Pitt, Redford pays court to Damon
Celebrity coyness is bustin' out all over
"Detroit Rock City": Kiss of death
Talk is cheap? Not with Tina Brown at the helm
The Beats: Remembered, Lionized and Unread
Real estate beat, starring Woody Allen and Donald Trump
Mood Music, or how we learned to stop worrying
Sex in the cinema: From "Last Tango" to "Eyes Wide Shut"
Two easy steps to looking exactly like Ricky Martin
Close encounters of the Muppet kind
Upcoming Brad Pitt movie not garbage, insiders say
Kathie Lee's eyewear excites Islanders' ire
Back to the future, continued
"Wild Wild West": Buck Rogers in the 19th century
Sculptures by Roy Lichtenstein: Fun, Fun, Fun
An expert's verdict:" Austin Powers" is pretty neat
Click here for pointless celebrity gossip
P. Dempsey Tabler of the jungle: The many faces of Tarzan
Kirk Douglas' Ex tells all about Errol Flynn fling
New twist in TV programming: Ax profitable shows
Private jet fees spell the end for another celebrity union
Killer serials: "Flash," "Buck" and a boy named George Lucas
Top nonfiction books: A message from two old men
Celebrity Dream dreams: Monica, Donald, Barbara, Georgette
Two divas, publicist form bizarre show-biz triangle
Johnny Cash tribute: Ring of fire, ring of friends
Streisand employee really upset about rumors
Grande Dame Eyes MGM Grand Gig
Secretive celebs? Not by a long shot
NBC honcho bristles at notion that Brokaw is not a saint
Barbara Walters not keen on daily dose of Monica
David Letterman, Donald Trump, Eddie Murphy, Elton John
Madonna, Frank Sinatra, Prince Charles, Maj, Ronald Ferguson, Fergie, Miranda Richardson, Brad Pitt, Juliette Lewis, Axl Rose, Stephanie Seymour
August 24, 1999
SHE MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE
By ROGER ANDERSON Scripps Howard News Service
The first half of “The Astronaut's Wife," starring Johnny Depp and Charlize Theron, is a fine example of lyrical, paranoid cinema.
Depp is an astronaut bound for space on the shuttle and Theron is his lovely wife, who is shown teaching her second-grade class while her husband is orbiting the planet. Then there's trouble - Depp and his partner have briefly gone off the radar, NASA operatives show up to escort Theron to a top-secret confab, and it's all a mesmerizing whirl of ominous corridors amid outer-space imagery.
A false alarm, though - the two space jockeys apparently are OK, and in no time the shuttle has landed and they're back in the arms of their wives, although the partner is also in intensive care with a bad ticker.
It's like a super-powered episode of "The X-Flies," all government taciturnity and gliding camera work, along with a lugubrious "2001"-style soundtrack of modernist music. Most crucially, Theron rests at the center of the action as pliable and vulnerable as a bird.
Or, if you will, as pliable and vulnerable as Mia Farrow - because, after all, the entire idea obviously is to take "Rosemary's Baby” and put it in '90s dress, with the action revolving around the imminent birth not of Satan but of the creature from "Alien." The filmmakers even trick Theron out in the same short, blond hairstyle that Farrow wore to such waiflke effect.
Really, Theron deserves some sort of medal. It's difficult to think of a more memorable beleaguered-heroine turn than the one Farrow pulled off under Roman Polanski's guidance back in 1969 - it's a classic movie performance.
And here Rand Ravich, who wrote and directed "The Astronaut's Wife," calls on Theron - who the day before yesterday was strutting her supermodel stuff on the world's catwalks and yesterday was playing opposite a big ape, in "Mighty Joe Young" and as a brainless mannequin in "Celebrity' -to carry a high-caliber movie in the same manner.
To her credit, she just about pulls it off. Not that she's Farrow's equal, but she stays persuasively pliant, vulnerable and troubled throughout the action, which involves her coming to realize that her husband's personality has been supplanted by an evil extraterrestrial's and that the twins she's carrying are worse than the spawn of the devil.
What brings the movie down during its second half is not any failure on Theron's part but a simple absence of suspense. There comes a point where it is clear that Depp the human husband in fact no longer exists, and from that point on Depp the actor has nothing more to give the character he plays. This leaves Theron to soldier on more or less alone through a barren big-money environment of Manhattan lofts and receptions and mammoth bathrooms.
The film's charge derives not from its science-fiction premise but from the anxiety inherent in a young wife's dawning realization that her husband has changed and no longer cares for her. Once it's clear that the husband has been replaced by a malevolent entity from Tau Ceti, a good deal of that charge simply vanishes.
Grade: XX-1/2 (C-plus)
Roger Anderson is arts and entertainment editor at Scripps Howard News
back to top