Friday, December 12, 2008

FILM: New in Theaters - 12/12/08

If you love Meryl Streep playing stern, strong, female characters, then I suggest you watch Doubt, an adaptation about a priest (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who is accused by the principal (Streep) of his school of performing a sinful act with a student, which might be verified by a young nun (Amy Adams of Enchanted). I'm thinking it's pedophilia, but who knows. He could've played ping pong with him on the altar. (No, that wasn't a euphemism.) Either way, I think the most interesting part of this production isn't that Streep is back to her menacing ways or that Adams is branching out into more serious fare, but that this is the director's, John Patrick Stanley's, second film after 1990's corny comedy Joe Versus the Volcano. I guess in his defense he has been building up to more reputable storylines, like 1995's adventure drama Congo and the war drama Live from Baghdad, so we should cut him some slack, especially since critics are buzzing about it and it's already garnering nominations.

If you're in the mood for an action-packed, eco-conscious alien movie, like The Day the Earth Stood Still, then maybe you can ignore the fact that iconically one-note Keanu Reeves is playing essentially the messenger of death and doe-eyed Jennifer Connelly is the female lead. Seriously, just focus on the fact that this is Jaden Smith's (The Pursuit of Happyness) second film, that it's a graphically-updated remake, and that it'll make those other disaster films look like a day in the park--in fact, it'll probably make a mid-night stroll through a wintry Central Park seem totally harmless.

If you're looking for a new holiday film that'll make your family seem like the Brady Bunch, gather up your brood and head to the theaters for Nothing Like the Holidays. It's about as much of a Hispanic film as Four Christmases is a white film. Don't judge it by its brown colors. While John Leguizamo, Luis Guzman, and Debra Messing command the humor, Alfred Molina, Elizabeth Pena, and Freddie Rodriguez (Gio on "Ugly Betty") provide the drama. It's balanced and heart-warming and perfect for the season.

If you refuse to watch the fake super hero dog movie, maybe you can convince your kids to see Delgo instead. True, the directors and writers are newbies, but the graphics are close to Star Wars creature designs--life-like and surreal. The story follows a teenager, who was framed and imprisoned. He escapes and gathers new friends for an adventure to save two warring races from a common enemy.

If you live near indie-friendly theaters and...'re interested in a tumultuous, dramatic adaptation that could champion Atonement, I'd try for The Reader. Adapted by David Hare (The Hours) and starring Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes, the story chronicles the war-crime trial of a former Nazi in post-WWII Germany through the eyes of a man who once loved a version of her that her victims never saw.'d like to see Clint Eastwood's return to film (after he swore that Million Dollar Baby would be his last), then grab a stub for his latest directorial feat Gran Torino. The race-driven drama follows an anti-social Korean war veteran who finds himself stuck with the task of ironically protecting a Korean family from the gang members in their neighborhood. He takes their nearly initiated son under his wing and adopts a new perspective on cultural differences--a must-see for close-minded people everywhere. want to see what could possibly launch Michelle Williams into the stratosphere, then I'd suggest burying the thoughts of her highly publicized relationship with the unfortunately deceased Heath Ledger and immersing yourself in her drama Wendy and Lucy. She plays a woman journeying from Indiana to Alaska with her dog in hopes of securing a job at a fish cannery, but gets sidetracked when she gets caught shoplifting to feed her pet and has to find her when they get separated. I can't tell you why it's good or vouch that the trailer will inform you of that either. It's just one of those things that you have to have faith in.

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