'Passion' Panned | Johnny Depp | 'Sex And The City'

'Passion' Panned in Early Reviews

Early reviews for Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" are in, and it's a mixed bag. The Hollywood Reporter didn't like it, and they like most everything. Their reviewer wrote:

"People will see what they want to see in a movie shorn of any point of view not in literal accord with the gospels. True believers will bear witness to holy writ. Others — nonbelievers or even less literal-minded Christians — will be troubled by the film's staunch adherence to a story line and characters that have been used by bigots to fuel hatred for centuries."

The Reporter also says that the movie's violence is so intense and more important than character development that audiences may have trouble with that. Maybe Gibson fans will call it "What Women Don't Want."

There will be more reviews tomorrow, but early reviews are certainly valid since the film actually opens today. Some theaters in California — specifically Agoura Hills, where Gibson owns a church — are jumping the Wednesday premiere and listing shows for this afternoon and evening.

Oscar By Default?

The Screen Actors Guild has given its awards, and the big surprise: Johnny Depp as Best Actor. I thought — and so did all the other pundits — that Sean Penn and Bill Murray were the top contenders.

But what happened Sunday night may be an omen. It also may be similar to what happened last year at the Oscars. In that case, Daniel Day-Lewis and Jack Nicholson, the front-runners, simply crossed each other out. The result was a win for Adrien Brody. Everyone was surprised.

Will this be the scenario next Sunday? Penn and Murray are each iconoclasts and maybe a little inaccessible to voters emotionally. It's possible their lack of campaigning or even interest in the Oscars has indeed made them negate each other in the Academy voting. Will Depp win it? Or how about Jude Law? Or Ben Kingsley? I would say now that of the four acting races, best actor will be the nail-biter on Sunday night.

Otherwise, the SAG Awards were a pretty lackluster affair, weren't they? With all the TV nominees stuffed into the show, the whole thing seemed like a deja vu from the Golden Globes. Or a repeated broadcast. It wasn't much of a draw with the series finale of "Sex and the City" and a brilliantly conceived episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" playing simultaneously on HBO.

'Sex' Goes Out On Top

From the moment Carole Bouquet appeared with Sarah Jessica Parker last night in a scene filmed at Paris' George restaurant, I knew "Sex and the City" would end with a lot of class. I wasn't wrong.

Writer-director Michael Patrick King — with the help of talented producers and writers — did a splendid job wrapping up the series last night after six seasons. Most of the time, series' endings are disappointments ("Dallas") or overwrought cute experiments ("St. Elsewhere," "Newhart").

King scored high points for just sticking to the main story. He knew what fans wanted and gave it to them. He was also very economical in his execution. There wasn't a minute of the three-quarter-hour show that was extraneous. Even when it seemed obvious it was surprising. Miranda's bathing of Steve's mother, Samantha telling Smith how important he was, Charlotte explaining how the Jews had had it to Harry and Carrie's final summation all made for a charming and memorable ending. You couldn't have asked for better or more.