NOTHING ANNOYS a film critic more than when studios won't preview their movies in time to make deadline for review. The general rule is that when producers believe in a picture (especially anything possibly Oscar-worthy), it's shown early and often, like Am鬩e. By contrast, dogs like Out Cold, Texas Rangers, and Domestic Disturbance are screened for the press just before opening—no good for weeklies—or not at all.
So what's up with the new Tom Cruise flick Vanilla Sky? Directed by Cameron Crowe, who earned an Oscar for writing Almost Famous and made a mint with Cruise in Jerry Maguire, it's being press-screened suspiciously late—indicating a possible lack of faith in the project, which is based on the 1997 Spanish film Open Your Eyes. That movie isn't too well known in the U.S., although its director and co-writer, Alejandro Amenᢡr, just created a very effective English-language ghost story, The Others, with Nicole Kidman—Tom's ex-wife (in case you've been too busy at the supermarket checkout to notice the tabloid headlines).
There's more: Eyes originally starred Pen鬯pe Cruz (Captain Corelli's Mandolin, All the Pretty Horses) as one of two women tormenting its vain, rich, playboy protagonist. In Sky, opening Dec. 14 (reviewed Dec. 12 on our Web site), she reprises her role as Sof??? who's now opposing Cameron Diaz for our hero's affections. Oh, and there's apparently something up with those two, Cruise and Cruz, if you believe what you read.
But can you believe what you see? It'd be possible, perhaps even ethical, to divulge the entire twisted plot to Eyes, which revolves around issues of perception and consciousness. After all, plenty of people saw the original in theaters; you could just ask them what it's about—or check IMDb.com. (The movie arrives on DVD Dec. 18, Artisan, $14.98.) And a particularly nasty, spiteful, vindictive sort of film critic—yes, we read those letters and e-mails—might feel tempted to pour out a long list of potential Sky spoilers right here and now.
Problem is, the original's a pretty good movie, worth your renting or buying (discussions will surely follow). Moreover, Crowe's a nice, talented guy, fun to interview. And you know what? That Cruise can act a little, too. Sky may not be so awful, despite the movie's Web site, www.vanillasky.com, proclaiming how its hero "discovers the precious, ephemeral nature of true love." (Blech.) So instead of spoilers, here are a few clues: Vertigo, The Matrix, Mulholland Drive, Waking Life, The Phantom of the Opera, Philip K. Dick, Jorge Luis Borges, and Luis Bu�.