Published December 12, 2005
We really don't get too much into the romance game here, à la Us Weekly or Star magazine. Safe to say, we're too embarrassed most of the time to ask such impertinent questions.
But last night, we straddled the line a bit between unsavory and curious, since Sienna Miller premiered as a movie star (finally, at the ripe old age of 24) and brought along her ex- and current boyfriend/fiancé Jude Law.
The movie was Lasse Hallström's excellent "Casanova," with a show-stopping Heath Ledger in the main role.
This much I will tell you right now: Heath and Sienna hold their own beautifully, and "Casanova" is about as much fun as you're going to have at the movies this holiday season. It's a sophisticated, goofy romp shot on location in romantic Venice, Italy.
Tom Stoppard didn't get official credit, but he rewrote the script from top to bottom, giving it the same dizzy feel he gave "Shakespeare in Love." The result is a breath of fresh air. Oliver Platt is a riot in a supporting role, too.
Heath was there last night at the premiere with girlfriend/mother of his newborn Michelle Williams ("Dawson's Creek"), and they were nice as pie. But all eyes were on the reunited Sienna and Jude.
Now, just to catch you up: We last saw the contentious couple in a private London dance club on July 2, right after the Live 8 concert, having a ball. All was well.
Then, on July 17, the London tabs went wild with the news that Jude had cheated on Sienna with his kids' nanny a few months earlier while on location in New Orleans.
From then until now, the whole affair has been non-stop grist for the mill. It didn't help that Sienna was onstage in London doing eight performances a week of "As You Like It" when news of the affair broke, and subsequently had to suffer the whole tawdry episode in public.
Alas, it's all over now — they are back together, and here's what I've learned:
For one thing, Sienna was lucky. By coincidence, her father, stepmother and sister were all in London to see her in the play right when the story broke (her sister, Savannah, I can tell you, is about to get her own line of clothes as a fashion designer).
That made things slightly easier. They helped her in and out of the theater, avoiding the paparazzi every night by crossing a bridge into another theater next door and then going out a side door.
Sienna's dad, Ed Miller, a successful investment counselor, had known Jude before he met Sienna.
Once the nanny story broke, insiders told me, Jude made tremendous efforts to patch things up with Sienna. He had long talks with Ed Miller to make things right.
"He did a lot of hard work. He worked on himself a lot," Ed Miller himself told me. "Trying to figure out who he was. And I told him if he did anything like this again, I'd kill him."
He's kidding, but you know, he's Sienna's dad. What do you expect him to say?
Nevertheless, it was quite clear from the convivial family scene at the Metropolitan Club last night — where the smallish after-dinner was held — that everyone is getting along very nicely. Jude very earnestly and sincerely told me it's been a hell of a year.
"But it's over now," he said, or rather insisted.
I believe him. After Christmas with his three kids, he said he and Sienna will head to their house in the English countryside for a quiet New Year's.
(I did note that Jude and Heath had a long one-on-one talk about Heath's happy domestic life in Brooklyn. "Michelle is just a natural as a mother," he told his friend. "And Brooklyn is only 15 minutes from the city.")
In the middle of all that chaos, Jude finished up "Breaking and Entering," the Anthony Minghella film that the Weinstein Company will release next fall. And he also has "All the King's Horses," which was rescheduled from release this fall so that it could be finished properly.
Sienna is working on "Factory Girl," the Edie Sedgwick/Andy Warhol story. She scolded me for repeating rumors about her and Leonardo DiCaprio.
"I was in Shreveport, Louisiana, when they said I was with him," she said.
That's where "Factory Girl" is shooting.
"Last week I had electroshock treatments," she said, referring to her character.
But don't compare her to Sedgwick one bit.
"I'm very strong," she said, a sentiment echoed by both her brother and her father.
Just to tell you: The British press is nutso about these two. There are whole Web sites devoted to their ongoing relationship.
The funniest ones list all the stories published, including those that were simply untrue and were borne out that way.
I find that part especially hilarious. She's leaving him, he's leaving her, they're cheating on each other, she's pregnant, she hates his kids, he's taking care of her dogs. The minutiae of it is mind-boggling!
More importantly: "Casanova" is hilarious, but its variously interwoven plot lines of mistaken identities are almost too hard to explain. You just have to go with it.
Suffice to say that if you prefer Heath Ledger bedding beautiful young things and not Jake Gyllenhaal, this one's for you. He plays Casanova much the way Cary Elwes carried "The Princess Bride," with a jaunty, sarcastic air that lets the audience in on the joke.
Sienna is the witty, sexy object of his affections, but they have a number of obstacles to overcome. Oliver Platt nearly steals the movie in a supporting role as Sienna's cuckolded fiancé.
Heath is already a star, thanks to several solid performances in his short career. Platt is well known, too.
But Sienna — whose fame is chiefly derived from the tabloids — shows that she has the stuff to be a big screen star. She can be luminous and humorous simultaneously, a rare and desired combination.
Hallström, as usual, has gotten the most of his actors and more than any previous director. If you liked "The Cider House Rules," "Chocolat," "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" and "My Life as a Dog," you'll love this movie, too.
"Casanova" also looks great, has a wonderful score of baroque period music, and it doesn't hurt that Lena Olin, aka Mrs. Hallström, is prominently featured.
Look for our friends at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to go ga-ga over "Casanova," too, when they make their nominations known tomorrow.
What if every one in San Francisco went to the movies at the same time?
That's apparently what happened on Friday night, when both Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain" and Rob Marshall's "Memoirs of a Geisha" opened there in limited runs.
Their respective studios, Universal's Focus Films and Sony Columbia, picked Frisco for its, respectively, large gay and Asian populations.
The ploy worked. On Friday night, each film was sold out.
The overall totals for the weekend in Frisco, N.Y. and L.A. (and in "Geisha"'s case, Toronto) meant that about 55,000 people went to see each film. Not bad.
Things only got better on Saturday when "Brokeback" and Bennett Miller's "Capote" grabbed the majority of citations from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.
Paraphrasing a lyric from "The Producers" — "keep it bright, keep it light, keep it gay!" — the L.A Critics managed to find the two fringiest films possible.
All they missed was picking Felicity Huffman as a pre-op transgender patient in "Transamerica" and their work would have been complete.
Sometime today, we'll get the awards from the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle.
The NBR, of course, postponed its awards from last week after this column caught its ballot with a lot of mistakes. We much prefer the choices of the Circle, since they don't involve dining with the stars and the committee is made up of actual journalists.
Tomorrow, the Golden Globe nominations come out, and those are always amusing and fascinating.
Now, just in case you missed it, Variety reported late last week that UPN and Paramount TV had sent Golden Globe voters a Polaroid DVD player with episodes of "Everyone Hates Chris" and a collector's item trailer from Chris Rock mocking the whole awards-campaigning thing.
The article made it seem like the HFPA members received the players at home directly from the studio, but come on — no one but the HFPA has those addresses, since many of their members are dead, elderly or missing.
Look for "Everyone Hates Chris" to get some nice nominations tomorrow.