What fun to find Vanity Fair refraining from its usual star worship. The gusher runs dry for Ralph Fiennes, the pale British actor who played such a convincing Nazi sadist in "Schindler's List." During his two-hour interview in the November issue, Mr. Fiennes is a model of chilly reserve: "Not that one expected a teddy bear," writes Leslie Bennetts. "Maybe an infinitesimal bit of charm, perhaps -- would that be too much to ask?" Indeed, Mr. Fiennes declines eye contact with the reporter, who is left to theorize about the murky depths lurking beneath the 32-year-old actor's "aristocratic exterior," depths that have electrified his performances -- in "Hamlet" onstage, in Robert Redford's "Quiz Show," in the futuristic "Strange Days." Was it his crockery-breaking mother who gave Mr. Fiennes his edge? Who knows. "I did not become an actor because I wanted to be in magazines," Mr. Fiennes says with contempt.
The rest of VF's features well is mostly a massive photo essay on the heavyweights of British theater by Lord Snowdon. It's a pretty portfolio, including luminaries such as Sir John Gielgud, Vanessa Redgrave, Helen Mirren, Jonathan Pryce and Jeremy Irons.
Famous faces growing old
You have to admire Movieline for not declawing itself. In the November issue, there's an unbelievably catty and gloriously adolescent article called "The March of Time" about the aging of celebrity faces. Writer Michael Atkinson spares absolutely no one. Clint Eastwood, for instance, is singled out for his extensive tangle of crow's-feet: "Few faces demonstrate so effectively how the drying process of age can work on human skin more or less the same way it does on beef jerky." And Jessica Lange may be in a pickle, Atkinson points out: "As she's aged, her eyes have turned into sinkholes and her lips look exhausted from having to stretch over those rather fearsome teeth all the time. The problem is, any major corrections on Lange's cheeky, big-boned puss will instantly make her an honorary Gabor sister." Ouch! While Robert De Niro gets off easy -- "he looks like a deli worker" -- James Caan takes the hardest hit. "Caan's face is not the face of a movie star -- it's the face of death. Look on it in fear, but be comforted: it's not your face."