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Movies: In Theaters This Week (Nov. 14)
(Via Wired)Wired said:Opening This Weekend
Quantum of Solace
Synopsis: Daniel Craig returns as James Bond in this sequel to Casino Royale. Trying to get over the loss of Vesper, his late girlfriend, Bond sets out to squash a villainous entrepreneur (French actor Mathieu Amalric) from monopolizing Latin America's natural resources. Judi Dench is back as the formidable boss M with Olga Kurylenko as the new Bond girl. Mark Forster (Finding Neverland) directs the script by returning Casino writers Paul Haggis, Neil Purvis and Robert Wade.
Review: Quantum of Solace: Bad Title, Good Bond: Surrounded by tough girls, amoral businessmen and revved-up action sequences, Craig's muscular Bond shows a flash of compassion between his kills.
Photo courtesy Sony
Slumdog Millionaire (limited)
Synopsis: When a former street kid from Mumbai becomes a contestant on India's TV game show version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire., he flashes back to his ghetto childhood for the correct answers. On the verge of winning the big jackpot, the uneducated "slumdog" prompts suspicions among cops and society at large. Dev Patel and Frieda Pinto star for director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later).
Photo courtesy Fox Searchlight
A Christmas Tale (limited)
Synopsis: Childhood death, mental illness, decades-old sibling hatred, mother-son standoffs, bone marrow transplants, cancer and a holiday reunion ... nobody does Christmas like the French. Director Arnaud Desplechin (Kings and Queen) tells the story of a dysfunctional family holiday, ruined by the demands of a harsh matriarch (played by Catherine Deneuve). Her predicament gives rise to recriminations, complications and a twisted back story of betrayal and disappointment. Mathieu Amalric (Quantum of Solace) co-stars with Jean-Paul Rousillon, Melvil Poupaud and Anne Consigny.
Photo courtesy IFC Films
Synopsis: Action star Jean-Claude Van Damme plays himself in this semi-fictional satire. He's a cash-strapped actor in a bitter custody fight for his daughter. Unable to find work in Hollywood, Van Damme returns to his native Brussels and gets thrown into a violent bank holdup. French and English dialogue.
Photo courtesy Peace Arch Entertainment
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
Synopsis: Animated comedy finds the talking animals from New York City marooned on the shores of Madagascar after a plane piloted by penguins breaks down over Africa. There, the beasts discover their roots. Voice actors Ben Stiller (the lion), Chris Rock (zebra) David Scwimmer (giraffe) and Jada Pinkett Smith (hippo) return for the sequel, joined by Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Bernie Mac, Sherri Shepherd, Alec Baldwin and will.i.am.
Image courtesy DreamWorks Animation
Synopsis: Seann William Scott and Paul Rudd star as two energy drink salesmen who wreck a company truck. In court, they pick community service over jail and go to work mentoring kids in the Sturdy Wings program. Elizabeth Banks plays the girlfriend with Jane Lynch as a stern, formerly coke-addicted probation officer. Rudd co-wrote the script with director David Wain (Wet Hot American Summer).
Mini review: Paul Rudd continues his comedic dominance in Role Models. Once again teaming up with an alum from MTV's heralded The State sketch series, Rudd and director David Wain find humor and heart in the film's generic and often puerile concept. They even manage to find a place for Seann William Scott's usual testosterone overdose, which may be the true charity at work here. -- Meghan Keane
Photo courtesy Universal
Synopsis: Samuel L. Jackson and the late Bernie Mac sing, dance and crack jokes as down-and-out backup singers for a once-great Motown-style act. Estranged for 20 years, they hit the stage after the lead singer of their old group dies. John Legend, Sharon Leal and Sean Hayes co-star in the comedy from director Malcolm D. Lee (Undercover Brother).
Photo courtesy Weinstein Company
Repo! The Genetic Opera
Synopsis: Futuristic sci-fi gorefest takes place during an organ failure epidemic. Exploiting the situation, a biotech company sells access to healthy new organs. If a customer won't pay the bill, the repo man retrieves the throbbing replacement part. Meanwhile, a sick young girl (Alexa Vega) goes on the quest of a lifetime. Paul Sorvino, Paris Hilton, Sarah Brightman and Anthony Head co-star for director Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II, III, IV).
Photo courtesy Lionsgate
Synopsis: Sixteen rugby players from Uruguay survived a 1972 plane crash in the snow-covered Andes Mountains by eating the bodies of their teammates. Documentary maker Gonzalo Arijonfilm revisits the accident site with the men and interviews them about the ordeal. Shot by Oscar-nominated cinematographer César Charlone (City of God).
Photo courtesy Zeitgeist Films
Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Synopsis: Comedy casts Seth Rogen (Superbad) opposite Elizabeth Banks (W.) as roomies with cash-flow problems. When their water and electricity get turned off, they come up with a get-quick-rich scheme and shoot a porn flick. As the production heats up, so does their formerly platonic relationship. Written and directed by Kevin Smith (Clerks).
Review: Zack and Miri Scores With Funny Porno Farce
Raunchy yet surprisingly sweet at times, Smith's lighthearted romantic comedy about a couple of 21st-century slackers amuses with goofball antics, a sci-fi send-up and a gross-out money shot.
Photo courtesy The Weinstein Company
The Haunting of Molly Hartley (limited)
Synopsis: High school senior Molly (Haley Bennett) starts classes at a posh private school, but her fresh start goes haywire when she attracts rich kid heart throb Joseph (Gossip Girl's Chace Crawford) and ticks off his girlfriend Leah (Shannon Marie Woodward). On the eve of her 18th birthday, Molly's date goes bloodily downhill. Go producer Mickey Lidell directs the teen thriller.
Photo courtesy Freestyle Releasing
Changeling (expanding release)
Synopsis: Angelina Jolie stars in Clint Eastwood’s fact-based period piece, set in 1928 Los Angeles, as working single mom Christine Collins who returns home to find her son missing. Five months pass and the cops locate an 8-year-old boy in rural Illinois. The twist: Collins gets pilloried for saying the child is not hers. A radio reverend (John Malkovich) steps in to help find the real son. Amy Ryan co-stars in the film, scripted by Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5).
Mini review: She'll probably get an Oscar nomination for this performance, but Jolie sheds so many tears as the mourning mom that the slow-to-start saga gets soggy at times. Still, the camera adors Jolie, who hits deep notes as her everywoman crusader survives unbearable cruelty, civic corruption and nightmarish stints in a psych ward. Serviceable supporting performances are trumped by a stand-out turn from Jason Butler Harner as a sadistic creep. -- Hugh Hart
Photo courtesy Universal Pictures
Synecdoche, New York (expanding release)
Synopsis: In this nightmarish comedy, Oscar winning writer Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) directs Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a hapless small-town theater director beset by a mysterious illness that shuts down his autonomic functions one by one. After his wife and daughter desert him for Berlin, he receives a MacArthur Grant and embarks on the art work of a lifetime: to render a detailed re-creation of New York City. Samantha Morton, Michelle Williams, and Catherine Keener co-star.
Mini review: Though it hardly ranks with De Niro's strongest work, the story dispenses a mildly entertaining thrashing to the power brokers that run Hollywood. Best of show: Turturro and Willis, as an ulcer-ridden agent and his fat, bearded superstar client.
Photo courtesy Sony Pictures Classics
RocknRolla (expanding release)
Synopsis: When a multimillon-dollar real estate scam falls apart, small-time hoodlums, old-school mobsters and Russian gangster billionaires all want in on the action. Set in London, the hyperviolent action piece stars Gerard Butler, Idris Elba, Thandie Newton, Tom Wilkinson, Jeremy Piven and Chris "Ludacris" Bridges. Guy Ritchie (Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch) directs.
Photo courtesy Warner Bros.
High School Musical: Senior Year
Synopsis: The perky kids from East High (Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman) return for another go-round. With a basketball championship, prom dates and spring musical in the offing, singin' and dancin' can't be far behind. Choreographed, produced and directed by franchise veteran Kenny Ortega.
Photo courtesy Disney
Let the Right One In (expanding release)
Synopsis: Fragile 12-year-old Oskar, bullied by his classmates, befriends a new neighbor girl who only comes out at night. Before long, blood begins to spill and the kids' relationship turns complicated. Child actors Kåre Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson star for Swedish director Tomas Alfredson. Based on best-selling vampire novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist.
Mini review: Sporadically ghoulish, this film often teeters close to farce, but between flashes of violence lies an intriguingly touching adolescent love story. There's a tragic sweetness to Let the Right One In, which may leave bullied kids the world over hoping for their own personal vampires. -- Meghan Keane
Photo courtesy Magnet Releasing
Synopsis: Anne Hathaway plays a grief counselor working with five plane crash survivors. Once she becomes romantically involved with her most secretive patient (Patrick Wilson), the others start to disappear. Andre Braugher, David Morse and Clea DuVall co-star in the thriller, directed by Rodrigo Garcia (TV's Six Feet Under)
Photo courtesy Sony/TriStar Pictures
Pride and Glory
Synopsis: Gritty cop drama pits one detective against another after four policemen are killed during a drug bust. When NYPD boss (played by Jon Voight) names his son Ray (Edward Norton) as lead investigator, brother-in-law (Colin Farrell) and brother (Noah Emmerich) get entangled as clues point to a family-incriminating inside job. Gavin O'Connor (Miracle) directs.
Photo courtesy New Line
Synopsis: Videogame-based revenge tale stars Mark Wahlberg as Max Payne, a ticked-off maverick cop with a dead family who butts bloody heads with a shadowy roster of lawbreakers and corrupt businessmen. Joining him is an assassin (Mila Kunis) who's looking for her sister's killers. Chris O'Donnell, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges and Beau Bridges co-star for Irish director John Moore (Behind Enemy Lines).
Photo courtesy Fox
Feature: Max Payne Movie Tries to Beat Videogame Curse
Synopsis: Josh Brolin channels George W. Bush in the latest political bio-pic from Oliver Stone (Nixon, JFK). The movie follows Bush through his hard-drinking frat-boy period, the fateful meeting with wife-to-be Laura, his born-again conversion and, finally, his handling of the Iraq War. The ensemble cast includes Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney along with Elizabeth Banks (Laura Bush), Toby Jones (Karl Rove), Scott Glenn (Donald Rumsfeld), Jeffrey Wright (Colin Powell), Thandie Newton (Condoleeza Rice), Ellen Burstyn (Barabara Bush) and James Cromwell (George Herbert Walker Bush).
Photo courtesy Lionsgate
The Secret Life of Bees
Synopsis: Set in the '60s civil rights era, this relationship drama centers on South Carolina beekeepers the Boatwright sisters (played by Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys and Sophie Okonedo). Their industrious lives are turned upside-down with the unexpected arrival of a runaway white girl (Dakota Fanning) and her best friend (Jennifer Hudson). Paul Bettany co-stars. Novelist Sue Monk Kidd adapted her own book with Bees co-writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love and Basketball).
Photo courtesy Fox Searchlight
What Just Happened (limited)
Synopsis: Robert De Niro stars as a hard-schmoozing movie producer struggling to negotiate among ruthless studio executives, neurotic agents, vain movie stars and a control-freak director. All bets are off by the time he presents a high-stakes world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Barry Levinson (Wag the Dog) directs the satire, based on a memoir by real-life producer Art Linson. Robin Wright Penn, Catherine Keener, Stanley Tucci and John Turturro co-star, with cameos from Sean Penn and Bruce Willis as "The Actor."
Mini review: Though it hardly ranks with De Niro's strongest work, What Just Happened prompts a few dark laughs by thrashing the power brokers who run Hollywood. Best of show: Turturro, who plays an ulcer-ridden agent, and Willis, his glowering superstar client. -- Hugh Hart
Photo courtesy Magnolia
Synopsis: A college-bound virgin (Josh Zuckerman) hits the road with his womanizing buddy and childhood best female friend to hook up with an internet fantasy babe. Along the way, they encounter a stolen car, jail time and an eccentric Amish farmer (Seth Green). The cast includes Amanda Crew, Josh Marsden and Clark Duke.
Photo courtesy Summit Entertainment
Body of Lies
Synopsis: Ridley Scott's spy thriller casts Leonardo DiCaprio as a CIA agent. Tracking a terrorist in Jordan, he devises a high-risk plan resisted back home by a veteran bureaucrat (Russell Crowe) who may have a covert agenda of his own. Oscar-winning writer William Monahan (The Departed) adapted Washington Post columnist Davis Ignatius' novel.
Mini review: Scott's roving camera deftly conveys a jittery sense of well-earned paranoia. DiCaprio convinces as a reluctant killing machine, though he seems to have absorbed Crowe's southern drawl as the movie progresses. Crowe vanishes into his good-old-boy-with-a-heart-of-stone role but Mark Strong, who plays the suave Jordanian spymaster, steals the show. -- Hugh Hart
Photo courtesy Warner Bros.
City of Ember
Synopsis: Time -- and generator power -- has almost run out for an underground metropolis devised to last 200 years. To the rescue: Young citizens Lina and Doon, played by Saoirse Ronan (Oscar-nominated for Atonement) and Harry Treadaway. They unearth a long-lost secret that could save the human race. Tim Robbins and Bill Murray co-star. Gil Kenan (Monster House) directs the movie, based on Jeanne DuPrau's young adult sci-fi novels.
Photo courtesy Fox
Synopsis: When TV reporters follow a 911 call to an apartment building in downtown Los Angeles, they find themselves in lock-down with residents who haven't been seen or heard from since March 2008. The nightmare unfolds as Centers for Disease Control agents struggle to keep everyone inside. This remake of Spanish horror pic Rec features Dexter's Jennifer Carpenter, Steve Harris, Jay Hernandez and Johnathon Schaech.
Photo courtesy Sony
Synopsis: Ensemble comedy centers on Poppy, an upbeat London school teacher whose optimism is tested by a cynical driving instructor, a class bully, her bitter sister and an eccentric flamenco dancer. Star Sally Hawkins reunites for the third time with U.K. filmmaker Mike Leigh (Secrets and Lies, Vera Drake).
Mini review: Getting off to a rocky start, the story gains steam with each off-kilter vignette. Hawkins' relentlessly cheery demeanor as Poppy grows more effective as she weathers various tragic and comic situations, building toward one of the best defenses of the single life on celluloid. -- Meghan Keane
Photo courtesy Miramax
Synopsis: True story of football great Ernie Davis, the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy. Dennis Quaid portrays the hard-nosed coach and surrogate father who watches his star running back (played by Rob Brown) triumph over racism, only to encounter tough times after he's drafted by the NFL. Directed by Gary Fleder (Impostor).
Photo courtesy Universal
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
Synopsis: Michael Cera stars in this alt-rock romantic comedy about a broken-hearted musician who gets roped into serving as a decoy boyfriend for a college-bound hottie (Kat Dennings) over the course of one club-hopping night in New York City. Peter Sollett (Raising Victor Vargas) directs.
Review: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist Strikes Sweet Chord
Cera charms with his usual baby-faced banter, but it's not enough to woo the film's music-loving antiheroine, played expertly by Dennings. Twenty-somethings who enjoyed classic teen films like Sixteen Candles and Can't Hardly Wait will likely find Nick and Norah appealing, in style and narrative, as director Sollett weaves a loving tribute to New York, replete with gorgeous shots of late-night cityscapes and celebrity cameos. -- Jenna Wortham
Synopsis: Professional skeptic Bill Maher and director Larry Charles (Borat) hit the road to question true believers about their religions. In the documentary, Maher challenges evangelists, Jews, Muslims, alien worshippers and others to explain themselves.
Photo courtesy Lionsgate
Beverly Hills Chihuahua
Synopsis: Pampered Chihuahua Chloe (voiced by Drew Barrymore) lives a life of luxury -- until a series of mishaps leads her to the streets of Mexico. George Lopez and Andy Garcia voice the male dogs, with human characters played by Jamie Lee Curtis and Piper Perabo. Raja Gosnell (Never Been Kissed) directs.
Photo courtesy Disney
Synopsis: Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris play hired guns brought to a dusty frontier town to restore law and order. The villain: a ruthless, murderous landowner (played by Jeremy Irons). The love interest: a gritty widow (Renée Zellweger). Harris (Pollock) directs the Western, based on Robert B. Parker's novel.
Photo courtesy Warner Bros./New Line Cinema
Synopsis: Shia LaBeouf stars as a Chicago slacker who's thrown together with a single mom (Michelle Monaghan) when they start receiving commands on their cellphones ordering them to do things they don't understand. Disobeying orders comes with a high cost. The Steven Spielberg-produced techno-thriller reteams LaBoeuf with Disturbia director D.J. Caruso. Rosario Dawson and Billy Bob Thornton co-star.
Review: Eagle Eye Taps Thrills in Surveillance Hell
LaBeouf turns in a persuasive performance in this clever, somewhat plausible cautionary tale about the dangers of surveillance technologies. Decent chemistry with Monaghan grounds the outlandish fight-or-flight scenario, while director Caruso puts his own spin on the action scenes, showing chaotic chases as herky-jerky smears of color.
Photo courtesy DreamWorks/Paramount
Nights in Rodanthe
Synopsis: Diane Lane plays a woman who escapes her philandering husband and antagonistic daughter to tend a remote inn on North Carolina's Outer Banks. There, she meets an equally world-weary doctor (Richard Gere). Sparks fly. Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook), the romantic drama reunites Gere and Lane for a third time (Cotton Club, Unfaithful) with Broadway director George C. Wolfe at the helm.
Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures
Synopsis: He sees dead people. Ricky Gervais stars as misanthropic dentist Bertram Pincus, who dies for seven minutes, then gets revived to a new reality that includes really annoying ghosts. Frank (Greg Kinnear) promises to make the ghosts go away if Pincus stops his widow from marrying a very bad man. TÃ©a Leoni co-stars in the comedy directed and co-written by Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull scribe David Koepp.
Mini review: Gervais slays with his portrayal of a socially inept dentist on a collision course with altruism. The Brit actor's ability to squeeze laughs out of awkward moments is truly freakish, and Ghost Town makes the most of the talents he honed in The Office and Extras. The evenly paced movie is alternately hilarious and heartwarming, and there's even better news: It benefits from a tight script and a stellar turn by Kristen Wiig as a ditzy doctor. -- Lewis Wallace
Photo courtesy DreamWorks
Synopsis: Igor, a hunchbacked lab assistant (voiced by John Cusack), invents a talking brain and wisecracking, reincarnated bunny. After his mad-scientist master croaks, Igor competes in the Evil Science Fair, where his wicked creations go wild. John Cleese, Steve Buscemi, Jay Leno and Molly Shannon co-star. Tony Leondis (Lilo & Stitch 2) directs the script by Chris McKenna (TV's American Dad).
Photo courtesy MGM
The Duchess (limited)
Synopsis: Keira Knightley stars as Georgiana the Duchess of Devonshire, the witty 18th-century fashionista who married into wealth and power only to becomes a trophy wife for her cold-fish husband (Ralph Fiennes). In this fact-based period piece, the Duke's mistress lives in the same castle, leading to heartbreak and scandal.
Photo courtesy Paramount Vantage
Burn After Reading
Synopsis: The Coen brothers' screwball spy spoof follows Washington, D.C., bumblers as they cross paths in antic pursuit of infidelity, liposuction and a disc filled with worthless information. Ensemble cast includes George Clooney, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt and Tilda Swinton.
Review: Dim Bulbs Light Up Burn After Reading
Mercilessly funny farce gets big laughs from serious dramatic actors playing full throttle, finely observed dunderheads.
Photo courtesy Focus Features
Synopsis: In this Clash of the Method Acting Titans, Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino play gritty New York City detectives assigned to a murder that looks suspiciously like the handiwork of a killer they put away years earlier. Script by Russell Gewirtz (Inside Man) is directed by veteran filmmaker Jon Avnet (Fried Green Tomatoes). Curtis Jackson (aka 50 Cent), Carla Gugino and Brian Dennehy co-star.
Photo courtesy Overture Films
Zack and Miri Make a Porno
The Dark Knight
- Review: Joker Plays the Wild Card in Dazzling Dark Knight
- Dark Knight Director Shuns Digital Effects for the Real Thing
- The Dark Knight: 'Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toys?'
Journey to the Center of the Earth
- Review: Hellboy II Is Hell-Bent on Monstrous Visuals
- Hellboy's Mike Mignola Talks 'Language of Monsters'
- Review: Clone Wars Returns Star Wars to Its Youthful Roots
- 10 Reasons Why Clone Wars Beats Any Lucas Prequel
- I Sense a Disturbance in the Star Wars CanonWall-E
The X-Files: I Want to Believe
- Review: Angelina Jolie Speed-Races Through Wanted's Sexy Violence
- Secrets of Wanted's Insane Onscreen Action
Read Underwire's movie ratings guide.
- Review: X-Files Flick Falls Short of Show's Glory Days
- Q&A: X-Files' Chris Carter Talks Paranoia, Secrecy and the Element of Surprise