The X-Files
Australian Conne-X-ion
Australian Media
August 2000

The Truth Is Way Out There, Sydney Morning Herald, August 17, 2000
Return To Me, Urban Cinefile
A Great Change of Heart, Herald-Sun, August 3, 2000
Heart Sinks, But Not For Long, Sydney Morning Herald, August 3, 2000
Return To Me, Village Cinemas Press Release, August 3, 2000
Minnie's All Heart, Toowoomba Chronicle, August 3, 2000

Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday, August 17, 2000

The truth is way out there

Alien and UFO believers are fanatical on the Web. Find out everything about Area 51, the alien autopsy, Roswell landings and government conspiracies right here. Stephen Turner opens up an all-new X-File on the Web.

Will Mulder ever be coming back? Will Scully's baby have alien origins? Will Skinner ever grow more hair? All these questions were asked (well, maybe not the last one) in last night's X-Files season finale, and will not be answered until next year. Of course, in this mysterious realm, questions often remain unanswered, as they stay deeply immersed in a web of government cover-ups and deceit.

But there are ways out. The Web can help, with thousands of pages devoted to exposing the secrets, and some US and foreign Government agencies even keen to let people know that the truth is really out there.

There is another side to this of course. No one says you really have to believe this stuff. Maybe UFOs and aliens have never been anywhere near Earth. There are a lot of nut jobs out there anyway, and they have their place on the Internet just like everyone else. UFO cults, alien abductions and anti-government crusaders are everywhere these days, spreading their unique brand of craziness to the world.

They vary between being downright scary and just good fun, but then again, maybe one of them will hit upon some truth one day. Until then, we can take it or leave it for the entertainment that it continues to be. Like X-Files, you don't have to be a believer to be a fan.

Recently, the NSA opened up their archives and released previously classified information they had regarding UFO sightings. They hoped this would show people they had nothing to hide, therefore making the problem go away. Of course, things became much worse, as thousands have swamped the Website and people have wondered why the NSA has so much information on UFOs to begin with.

Do they know something the rest of us don't? Check the site for yourself. Another excellent source of US government documents is The Black Vault. It has a huge storage of files relating to every conspiracy buzzword from UFOs and the FBI to remote viewing. Of course, what really excites people is the pictures.

Alien and UFO pictures are all over the Web. Check out aerial photographs of the infamous Area 51 Base. Ask yourself whether the famous Roswell autopsy was really a clever but easy to spot fake, or was in fact a fake of a real event that was then faked so the government could keep the event a secret.

Have a look at a worldwide gallery of UFO pictures, or a very colourful site that lets readers give first hand accounts of UFO sightings.

To get closer to the phenomenon, you need to look closer at people who claim to be the victim of alien abductions. People who claim they have been kidnapped by aliens and often had some kind of experiments performed on them. It happened to Scully, now it's happened to Mulder, but who claims it has really happened to them? On of the earliest major abduction cases happened in 1961. Betty Hill has given several interviews about her experience, and while she is a believer, she is surprisingly skeptical when it comes to the majority of other abduction cases.

Whitley Streiber is an abductee who has made a career out of his experiences, having come to prominence with his book Communion. He now runs a radio show and a private foundation dedicated to exposing the truth as he sees it. Crazy or not, at least he's professional about what he does. If you're looking for something closer to home, try this list of local abduction cases. And if you want some hands on fun, fill in the Alien abduction application form and see where it gets you!

The craziest of all are obsessed with government conspiracies. A site calling itself Area 51 not only wants to expose the UFO conspiracy, but also every detail of the "shadow government" and the New World Order. It's amazing that all these popular conspiracy movements can interconnect at will - it makes you wonder if they really do network. If these groups can get together then we are all in big trouble.

So what can you make of this? People always want to believe something. This movement varies from sad tormented souls, to funny and harmless types, to incredibly scary individuals you should cross the road to avoid. Who knows, maybe there is a little touch of reality to what they are saying, but I have to doubt it for now. It wouldn't be bad if someone did prove aliens were real, but right now I'll stick with The X-Files.

various sources, August 2000

Return To Me was released in Australia and attracted a wide range of both negative and positive reviews including the following collection:

David Duchovny has shown flashes of his abilities as a romantic lead and a comic actor in his ongoing role as the tortured Fox Mulder in The X-Files. In this old-fashioned flick he really gets to exercise these little-seen skills. He plays Bob Rueland, a man who loses his beloved wife in a car accident but who is then brought into contact with Grace, the recipient of her donated heart. A vibrant woman who works as a waitress at her family's Irish-Italian restaurant, Grace is played by Minnie Driver (An Ideal Husband). For viewers willing to fall into step with this feel-good movie touched by fantasy, Return To Me will be a treat, as Bob and Grace fall in love in the most unlikely circumstances.
Trish Maunder

The plot may come from Hollywood but the heartbeat is Chicago, so to speak, and that's important. It gives the film the reality is badly needs. Real people aren't that common in movies, but Hunt makes sure we see each one as distinct. Perhaps that's her actor's generosity, wanting each one to shine.
Paul Byrnes, The Sydney Morning Herald

In this adorable, bright romantic comedy, David Duchovny finally proves he has more than the one expression he has ridden on for most of The X-Files. First-time director and co-writer Bonnie Hunt proves she knows how to blend romance and comedy with just the right touch of earthy humour and emotional sincerity.
Jim Schembri, The Age

The sentimental pap of Return To Me will probably slide down easily for the romantic-minded. But everyone should be warned that it's not so much offensive as just lame. Co-star Bonnie Hunt who plays Driver's smart-mouthed best friend also directs. The result is competent - it's in focus - and strictly routine; a frilly regurgitation of bits of When Harry Met Sally and Moonstruck.
Rob Lowing, The Sun-Herald

Plus the following synopsis and reviews from Urban Cinefile.
Return To Me Synopsis:

Bob Rueland (David Duchovny) owns a successful Chicago construction co. In wedded bliss with Elizabeth (Joely Richardson), a sexy primatologist, the two plan to build a funky new enclosure for the zoo's gorilla family. But after a swanky fund-raising party for the project, Elizabeth is fatally wounded in a car accident, and Bob is left to pick up the pieces. At the same time, Grace Briggs (Minnie Driver) is on her deathbed awaiting a donor for a life-saving heart transplant operation. A donor is found at the last minute, and Grace gets a new lease on life. One year later, both are beginning hesitant dips into the dating pool. A chance meeting at Grace's family's Irish-Italian restaurant spells love at first sight. But as things progress between the badly scarred survivors, Grace will uncover the shocking secret of their attraction.

Cast and credits
Cast: David Duchovny, Minnie Driver, Carrol O’Connor, Robert Loggia, Bonnie Hunt, David Allen Grier
Producer: Jennie Lew Tugend
Script: Don Lake, Bonnie Hunt
Cinematographer: László Kovács
Editor: Garth Craven
Music: Nicholas Pike
Production design: Brent Thomas
Distributor: UIP

"Unashamedly romantic with a little Hollywood magic thrown in for good measure, Return to Me is an uplifting charmer that warms the heart in more ways than one. Bonnie Hunt has stamped her personality all over this wryly funny, witty and beautifully written story, one of its main strengths being the warmth and richness of its incidental characters, that are anything but. Of course it's predictable and contrived, but this is feel-good romantic escapism, so it's fairly easy to forgive. Much of the magic comes from the hilarious matchmaking attempts, the family chaos and the irresistible Irish/Catholic/Italian restaurant lifestyle in the middle of Chicago. The wonderful characters are brought to life by marvellous performances, which cuckoon the two central characters (Minnie Driver is enchanting), making it a happy ride indeed in the armchair of romantic escapism. It's lighthearted entertainment, and doesn't pretend to be anything more than that. The characters talk about Bing, Bobby, Dean and Frank, and we do actually get to hear Sinatra and a little bit of swing. There are a couple of lines that are in questionable taste, but the humour is contagious and warmly appealing. Return to Me is a feel-good romantic comedy whose charm is as unexpected as its city courtyard garden - filled with colour and warmth of heart."
Louise Keller

"This first film by the actress Bonnie Hunt is one more attempt to recapture the magic of Old Hollywood: not only the charm of romantic comedy, but also the dream of a mystical bond between lovers that survives beyond death. Does it work? Yes and no. The plot at first appears to be one of the stupidest of all time (even the characters seem stunned by it; they stagger back and say things like 'Wow'). Yet it's brought off - religious undercurrents and all - with a surprisingly light touch: this is one of the rare Hollywood films that honours the experience of grief and loss without being evasive or maudlin. Hunt herself is excellent in the old-fashioned, wisecracking best friend part she's made her own; the style is pleasingly old-fashioned and restrained throughout. Less likeable is an element of smugness that creeps in occasionally, especially linked to David Duchovny's straightfaced putdowns of stooges too dumb to realise they're being mocked. As always, he's a baffling, somewhat two-faced actor. Playing a widower numb with grief, he's very much the sensitive New Age guy; on the other hand, he's based a whole star image on a type of deadpan irony that's much less witty than he thinks it is. To some extent, his famously tranquil acting has a deadening effect on the whole cast - especially Minnie Driver, who's less lively than usual. Overall this is perhaps nothing special, but compared to most recent tries at romantic comedy (say Nora Ephron's movies, or an average episode of Friends) it seems like relatively honest work."
Jake Wilson

"At first sight, the plot of this fluffy romantic melodrama is enough to make most men heave. A handsome, successful, and lonely widower unwittingly falls for the sweet young transplant recipient of his dead wife's heart. Oh Please! Loaded with teary, heart-wrenching emotion, Return to Me begs for a shot of adrenalin and a dose of reality. Yet Bonnie Hunt has created a screenplay full of earthy characters. Everyone seems so real. Duchovny is every bit the white-collar labourer. Driver is sweet and smarmy as a waitress at her loving extended family's restaurant. Her grandaddy (Carroll O'Connor) and his wisecracking mafia-like retirees (Robert Loggia, Eddie Jones, William Bronder) are terrific to watch and listen to. Even Hunt and her lowbrow all-American hubby (a tubby Jim Belushi) are so grounded in family angst that we can't help but be swept up in this far-fetched love story. Hunt so aptly combines her witty screenplay with an assured directorial delivery (her debut), that all plot contrivances become almost impervious to the harshest analysis. The most telling sequence comes from Hunt herself, sending up her own plot by blurting out "Grace has Bob's dead wife's heart!" to her dim-witted husband. While Hunt and Belushi are perfectly convincing as spouses who love and hate their rut, Duchovny and Driver give typically heart-warming performances as the emotionally and physically scarred lovebirds. They're no Han Solo and Princess Leia, and one can't help but think this was a role (originally intended for George Clooney) tailored to push Duchovny out of X-Files hell and into leading-man contention. The greatest flaw here, if one must be picky, is the fluffiest of well-worn Hollywood finales. But in spite of the shortcomings, Return to Me is a pleasant, likeable romantic comedy. In the wake of the disastrous The Next Best Thing, the offbeat Keeping the Faith, the forgettable Down to You, and the heavy Onegin, Return to Me is an expectant breath of fresh air."
Shannon J. Harvey

"I just don't buy this, although Shannon is right in identifying the performances as enjoyably credible. But then that's the least we expect from medium-league stars like these two. The film's heart is in the wrong place (irony intended). If we are in romantically fantastic territory, let's go all the way and let's have something Like Water for Chocolate, with fantasy boldly emblazoned on the romantic goings on. Amused by the interplay between the oldies and the young lovers, but annoyed by the cloying scenario, I found the escapism too mushy - like biting down on a soft marshmallow."
Andrew L. Urban

Herald-Sun, August 3, 2000

A great change of heart

Return to Me (M)
Director: Bonnie Hunt
Starring: David Duchovny, Minnie Driver, Bonnie Hunt, James Belushi, Carroll O'Connor
Rating: 3.5 stars

Same old story makes for some old gold

I often receive letter letters from older filmgoers expressing frustration about how few movies are being made for their tastes and preferences.

By and large, I agree with them. Apart from the occasional all-ager such as Tea with Mussolini, Waking Ned Divine or Life is Beautiful, this (very large) sub-group of viewers must feel as if they are watching films beamed in from another planet. They find it hard to relate to the language and subject matter and most importantly of all, the characters.

If you count yourself among one of these aggrieved, then I recommend you check out Return to Me. It is a superbly crafter romantic drama-comedy, featuring writing and characterisations that will strongly appeal to those who couldn't care less who isn't taking whom to the prom.

The main storyline - of a construction foreman (David Duchovny) who falls in love with the transplant recipient (Minnie Driver) of his late wife's heart - is a little light, inoffensively pleasing concoction that plays itself out to a credible end. The movie just feels right on the money, whatever it turns its hand to.

Writer-director Bonnie Hunt has a real affinity for the spirit of friendship and community that links everyone in the plot together. For evidence of this, look no further than the contributions of Carroll O'Connor and a number of other veteran actors who fill the minor roles on offer here.

All of them, including Hunt and James Belushi as a bickering/loving married couple, are in complete sync with the gentle, joshing sense of humour laced through the script.

For fully delivering what little it promises, and for staying just the right side of corny until the happy ending looms in sight, I find it very hard to knock Return to Me.

I'm glad it does what it does so well, and I'm also sure that a number of other viewers much older than myself will walk away from this small gem of a movie feeling exactly the same way.
Transcribed by Angie.

Sydney Morning Herald, 3 August 2000

Heart sinks, but not for long

Directed by Bonnie Hunt, Rated M, GU George St and suburbs, Hoyts suburbs, selected Independents.

When an American movie begins by showing you a supremely happy couple, you have a right to be nervous. When you see that they have a beautiful apartment and a lovely big dog that won't leave the front door till his mistress gets home, you really start to worry. Too much happiness means she's doomed.

In her first movie as a director, Bonnie Hunt knows that we know. And by casting Joely Richardson as the wife, she leads us to expect the Hollywood comedy version of death, the kind that's not so fatal. You don't kill someone so pretty in the first reel unless she's going to come back as an angel, a ghost, a man, or some combination of all three. The surprise here is that only part of her comes back, when her heart is transplanted to a very sick woman, played by Minnie Driver.

As Richardson's heart rises, mine sank. Oh no, it's the old ``he-falls-in-love-with-the-woman-who's-carrying-his-dead-wife's-heart" plot. Given that the husband is played by David Duchovny, the X-Files man, couldn't he just zap over to the other side and bring her back?

This heart stuff looks like it will ruin the movie, but it doesn't. It just obscures things temporarily. Bonnie Hunt is best known as an actor; she was Renee Zellwegger's sister in Jerry Maguire, but her career started in Chicago in Second City, the famed comedy troupe.

She grew up in Chicago and this movie is set there. The plot may come from Hollywood but the heartbeat is Chicago, so to speak, and that's important. It gives the film the reality it badly needs. Hunt co-wrote the script with Don Lake (also ex-Second City) and it's a film about people she has known good, hard-working, funny, kind people, who are perhaps a little eccentric. They're waiters and cooks and construction workers and vets, Italians and Irish and blacks.

Real people aren't that common in movies, but Hunt makes sure we see each one as distinct; perhaps that's her actor's generosity, wanting each one to shine. Hunt also appears in a major role as Megan, best friend of Grace (Driver) and she brightens every scene she's in. Megan has five kids and a beer-drinking bear of a husband she adores (James Belushi in top comic form). She has deep roots and oodles of comical good sense, like when she tells Grace not to shave her legs before a big date, ``then you won't let it go too far".

The film is partly about dating. Bob (Duchovny) hasn't dated since he met Elizabeth (Richardson) at 15; Grace has been too sick to date since she was 14. A year or so after the transplant she's a picture of health and Bob's turned into slob of the decade.They meet at O'Reilly's Italian restaurant, run by her Irish grandpa (Carroll O'Connor doing an aging leprechaun performance, with Robert Loggia as the chef). She works as waitress and she's scared of men they all turn weird when they know she has someone else's heart.

Bob hears her heart beat as she walks past. This gooey side of the film left me dry but it's not the whole thing. Driver has so much charm she gets away with most things on screen and her timing is superb. It's also fun to see Duchovny being less anal than as the insufferable Fox Mulder.
Transcribed by Angie.

Village Cinemas Press Release, August 3, 2000

Return to Me
Starring: David Duchovny and Joely Richardson
Genre: Romantic/Comedy

The X-Files fans may wet their pants at the prospect of David Duchovny on the silver screen, but note that this is not a sci-fi film. In a deliberate move away from his glum demeanour as Agent Fox Mulder, Duchovny plays the lead in this delightful romantic comedy. But unlike his popular sci-fi television series, Return to Me contains plenty of kissing and cuddling.

The laconic actor brings a degree of sensitivity and sexiness to his role as the recently widowed architect Bob Rueland. Waking from a 12-month grieving stupor, Rueland falls in love with waitress Grace Briggs (Minnie Driver) who is recovering from a heart transplant. Unfortunately, for both parties, Griggs has Rueland's dead wife's heart beating inside of her chest. Bummer. This, of course, creates a unique situation for the two would-be lovers.

Return to Me is an enchanting film that explores themes of fate and true love in contemporary Chicago. Driver and Duchovny make a convincing couple on screen. There are moments, however, when Driver dominates her spooky counterpart: Duchovny seems to struggle with the emotions necessary for certain scenes. No matter because the charm of this film is its conviction that everyone has a kindred spirit.

Shane Robert Cooper

Toowoomba Chronicle, August 3, 2000

Minnie's All Heart After years of seeing her face plastered allover the tabloids, actress Minnie driver has learned how to brush off hurt feelings and get on with her life- much like her role in the new romantic comedy Return To Me.

Call it a stiff upper lip, a Hollywood-thickened skin or simply maturity, but the British actress who turned 30 in January said the months following the success of Good Will Hunting (1996) and her very public breakup with co-star Matt Damon were experiences she learned from- mostly how to keep her mouth shut in public.

"I just talked too much," the now tight-lipped Driver said about the aftermath of Good Will hunting, the film that led to an Oscar nomination and her off- screen affair with Damon. Media attention caused her to take a break from the celebrity scene around Hollywood and gave her a seasoned outlook on the negative publicity that comes with celebrity.

"You know, that's part of the deal, and you just sort of suck it up and get on with it. It's going to happen at some point in your career, "Driver said.

Since those days, she said, her privacy has been largely maintained. She likes it that way, preferring to have fans discuss her movie roles such as the part of Grace Briggs opposite TV's X- Files star David Duchovny in Return to Me.

Like Driver's struggle with media attention her character has been beset by a problem over which she has no control as a victim of heart disease since she was a teenager.

Grace, in her 20s, longs to fall in love, but she never finds her Prince Charming, and her heart condition has left her in hospital awaiting a heart transplant.

Enter handsome building designer/contractor Bob Rueland (Duchovny)- or rather his dead wife's heart. Early in the movie, Rueland's wife is killed in a car accident, leaving her organs to be harvested, and her heart ends up in Grace.

About a year later, Rueland walks into O'Reilly's Italian restaurant and his own heart, well skips a beat as he spies Grace.

What follows is a brief courtship marked by starry-eyed love: Bob meets Grace's family and friends, Grace meets his friend and his dog. They hit one or two bumps on the road to love but eventually find their way to romantic Italy, where it is very difficult for love to falter.

"It's just a great, old fashioned love story," said Driver. "Don't you know that in any romantic comedy you know the couple is going to end up together? It's the journey they make that defines great romantic comedies. I mean Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, you know they are going to end up together, but what's going to happen in between?"

In the case of Return to Me what happens is some funny bantering among the old men who run O'Reilly's-Carroll O'Connor as Grace's grandfather, Robert Loggia as her uncle and Eddie Jones and William Bronder as their poker playing buddies. They all offer the lovers the benefits of age and wisdom.

Co-writer and director Bonnie Hunt stars as Grace's best friend, Megan, and Jim Belushi plays her firefighter husband, Joe. Together, they are the picture of a happy marriage amid the chaos of running a family with four kids.

Rounding out the supporting cast is comedian David Alan Grier as Rueland's woman chasing best friend, Charlie.

Even Duchovny gets to break out of his sober minded alter ego as FBI Agent Fox Mulder on The X-Files with several one- liners of his own as Rueland.

"He's incredibly clever and funny," Driver said of her co-star, "and I thought it would be great to be part of him breaking out" of the Mulder character.

Of course, Driver is breaking out in her own way, too. After gaining celebrity status with Will, she has harnessed her Hollywood power and formed a production company with her sister to make movies and tell stories that she thinks are important. In short, she has more control over her career.

"You get more out of it than just getting lots of money," she said. "You make your own mistakes, you're learning. It's far more interesting to make your own mistakes than to be the focus of someone else's."

But like any big time Hollywood producer she is not telling what comes next, what stories she is working on or developing.

"I don't know. It's so hard, kind of, to project," she said with a tight-lipped grin. And in Hollywood, that is often akin to saying:"I'd prefer not having it in print."

By Bob Tourtelotte
Transcribed by Lucy.

The X-Files is © 20th Century Fox

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