[Original poster here]
Atonement (limited; wider: Dec. 14; wider: Dec. 21; wider: Jan. 4)
Ian McEwan’s great novel gets a lush adaptation courtesy of Joe Wright (who directed the much-better-than-it-should-have-been Pride and Prejudice), with Kiera Knightley, James McAvoy, Vanessa Redgrave, and Saorsie Ronan/Romola Garai. The only sure-fire Best Picture nominee of the year so far, taking place during the thirties, World War II and present times, it spots an extended take that supposedly rivals last year’s Children of Men.
Rotten Tomatoes: 85
The Golden Compass (wide)
Reading this a few years ago I never imagined it would end up as a $250 million film starring Nicole Kidman. Something obviously went a little off-the-rails here. Reviews have not been kind, and it’s looking highly doubtful this will become the trilogy New Line “needed” (did they?) after Lord of the Rings. Which is too bad, since the third part might have been the strangest, most metaphysical high-budget fantasy film ever.
On a sidenote: the official site has a gizmo where you can “Meet your daemon” (basically your soul’s reflection as an animal of the opposite gender). Mine was a mouse. Because I’m so shy and reserved.
Rotten Tomatoes: 42
Juno (NY, LA)
Diablo Cody’s breakthrough role. Is this the first time that a script writer takes a more central part of the marketing than the actors? Not even Charlie Kaufman gets this much attention over his stars. Looks pretty good. I don’t consider “this year’s Little Miss Sunshine!” a bad thing. Great cast, clever dialogue, how can this be a bad thing?
Rotten Tomatoes: 92
Grace is Gone (limited)
Another not meant for the “leave us alone”-ers. John Cusack as a grieving/shell-shocked father takes his kids on a trip instead of explaining that their mother has died fighting in Iraq. Cusack is apparently excellent in the film.
Rotten Tomatoes: 73
The Walker (NY, LA)
Paul Schraeder was in Stockholm a few weeks ago promoting this film while receiving a lifetime achievement award at the annual film festival. Woody Harrelson plays against type as some sort of effeminate gigolo in Washington who gets mixed up in things with the socialites. Should we be sad that the Taxi Driver-duo seem stuck in making the same sort of films they made at their peak? (Although you might argue against American Gigolo being part of Schrader’s peak.)
Rotten Tomatoes: 56
Man in the Chair (limited)
“We know a lot about old movies” has to be the silliest threat by a movie-high-school-bully. Ever. Rest of the film doesn’t seem that bad, though. Christopher Plummer (nearly always worth watching), as an old director guiding a young guy into adulthood/directing, getting his vigour back by making films. Hmmm, seems similar to another film.
Rotten Tomatoes: 57
The Amateurs (LA, Dallas; limited: Dec. 14)
This actually does open in Dallas, so sorry you’re missing out Brian (unless you’re moving to LA). Jeff Bridges brings vigour back to an old town, populated by supporting actors we never remember the names to, by having them all make a communal adult film. Sounds “wacky”, meaning: made for stiff, middle-aged, middle-class, white people who consider themselves fun.
Rotten Tomatoes: 20%
‘Tis Autumn – The Search for Jackie Paris (NY)
Watching the trailer for this one made me wonder if it was one of those faux-documentaries, sort of like Peter Jackson’s Forgotten Silver, where they make up some forgotten celebrity who everybody talks about and invite some pseudo-celebs to act like he really existed. But no, turns out, this guy really existed. Why was he forgotten? *SPOILER* He was an asshole *END SPOILER*
Rotten Tomatoes: 71
Dirty Laundry (NY, LA)
Trailer: “No matter how different we seem… when it comes to family… we’re all the same.” *Nick runs away screaming*
Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
Looking for Cheyenne (limited)
French, lesbian drama with self-important dialogue that makes no sense, badly photographed. Ugly actresses to boot. Sorry, gotta call ‘em like I see ‘em.
Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
Revolver (NY, LA)
Saw this years ago, and think I even wrote a long review over at the forums. If Swept Away hadn’t already, this effectively killed Guy Ritchie’s career, outside of making the occasional Brit-gangster film. Possibly one of the worst films I saw that year. It has Ray Liotta running around in a pair of speedos, bathed in blue neon light, crying in an elevator. But, hey, if that’s your thing then go for it.
Rotten Tomatoes: 15