Vol. LXII, No. 50
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Australia (PG-13 for violence, sensuality, and profanity). A romance drama, set at the beginning of World War II just before the bombing of Darwin by the Japanese, chronicles the love relationship which blossoms between a genteel heiress (Nicole Kidman) and the rough-hewn rancher (Hugh Jackman) who helps her drive a herd of 2,000 head of cattle to market across hundreds of miles of unforgiving terrain. Aborigines in the cast include David Gulpilil, Brandon Walters, and David Ngoombujarra.
Bolt (PG for mild action and scenes of peril). Disney animated adventure about a German Shepherd TV star (John Travolta) who discovers he doesn’t really have any superpowers after being accidentally shipped from Hollywood to New York City when he has to embark on a humbling cross-country trek home with the help of a cat (Susie Essman) and a hamster (Mark Walton). Voice cast includes Miley Cyrus, James Lipton, Malcolm McDowell, and wrestler Randy Savage.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (PG-13 for mature themes). Holocaust drama about the 8-year-old son (Asa Butterfield) of a concentration camp commander (David Thewlis) whose forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy (Jack Scanlon) interned on the other side of the fence leads to devastating consequences.
Cadillac Records (R for sexuality and pervasive profanity). Historical drama chronicles the rise of the legendary record company founded in Chicago in the fifties by Leonard (Adrien Brody) and Phil Chess (Shiloh Fernandez), siblings who roamed the south in search of promising talent, and discovered such future musical greats as Muddy Waters (Jeffrey Wright), Etta James (Beyoncé), Chuck Berry (Mos Def), Howlin’ Wolf (Eamonn Walker) and Willie Dixon (Cedric the Entertainer). With Emmanuelle Chriqui, Columbus Short, Gabrielle Union, and Eric Bogosian.
A Christmas Tale (Unrated). Dysfunctional family drama about an aging mathematician (Jean-Paul Roussillon) married to a melancholy playwright (Catherine Deneuve) whose reunion over the Christmas holidays with their three adult children, in-laws and grandkids proves to be fraught with feuding, infidelity and overindulgence in holiday spirits. In French with subtitles.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (PG-13 for violence and disaster images). Keanu Reeves stars in this remake of the 1951 sci-fi classic about an alien who arrives on Earth with an indestructible robot to issue a dire warning for humanity about living in harmony with nature. Ensemble includes Jennifer Connelly, Kathy Bates, John Cleese, and Jaden Smith.
Doubt (PG-13 for mature themes). Faith-based drama, set in the Bronx in 1964, about a nun (Meryl Streep) serving as a Catholic school principal who becomes suspicious about her parish priest’s (Philip Seymour Hoffman) motivations when he takes a special interest in her first black student (Joseph Foster). Cast includes Viola Davis and Amy Adams.
Four Christmases (PG-13 for profanity and sexual humor). Family comedy, set in San Francisco, about an unhappily married couple (Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon) forced to spend the holidays with several sets of relatives after their plans for an exotic getaway are ruined when the fog rolls in. Cast includes Robert Duvall, Mary Steenburgen, Dwight Yoakam, Tim McGraw, Jon Voight, Sissy Spacek, Jon Favreau, and Kristin Chenoweth.
Frost/Nixon (R for profanity). Ron Howard directs this screen adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway play recounting the series of television interviews conducted by British talk show David Frost (Michael Sheen) with Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) in 1977, three years after the disgraced U.S. President resigned from office in the wake of the Watergate scandal. Supporting cast includes Toby Jones, Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt, and Sam Rockwell.
Happy-Go-Lucky (R for profanity). Romance drama about a Pollyannaish school teacher (Sally Hawkins) who finds her cheery optimism tested when she starts taking driving lessons from a cynical instructor (Eddie Marsan) who has anger management issues.
I’ve Loved You So Long (PG-13 for smoking and mature themes). Drama about the readjustment to real life of a recently paroled ex-con (Kristin Scott Thomas) with the help of her younger sister (Elsa Zylberstein) after spending 15 years in prison for the murder of her 6-year-old son. In French and English with subtitles.
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (PG for mild crude humor). Animated adventure finds the colorful menagerie of domesticated New York zoo animals again struggling to survive in the wilds of the African jungle. Voice cast includes Cedric the Entertainer, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jada Pinkett Smith, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Ben Stiller, Will I Am, Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister, and the late Bernie Mac.
Nothing Like the Holidays (PG-13 for drug references, mature themes, and sexual dialogue). Dysfunctional family comedy about three Puerto Rican siblings (John Leguizamo, Vanessa Ferlito and Freddy Rodriguez) who reunite at their parents’ (Alfred Molina and Elizabeth Pena) home in Chicago for a turbulent Christmas vacation marked by the revelation of a big secret leading to a reordering of life priorities.
Punisher: War Zone (R for pervasive violence, profanity, and drug use). Ray Stevenson takes over the title role from Thomans Jane in this sequel as the vigilante superhero of comic book fame who is now waging a one-man war against an organized crime syndicate run by a vicious mobster known as Jigsaw (Dominic West).
Quantum of Solace (PG-13 for sexuality, violence, and intense action sequences). Daniel Craig returns for his second go-round as James Bond for a mission which pits 007 against a diabolical villain (Mathieu Amalric) bent on controlling one of the world’s most critical natural resources. Cast includes Dame Judi Dench, Jesper Christensen, Jeffrey Wright, Olga Kurylenko, and Gemma Arterton.
Rachel Getting Married (R for profanity and brief sexuality). Anne Hathaway stars in this family drama about a substance abuser who checks out of rehab for the weekend to attend her sister’s (Rosemarie DeWitt) very eventful wedding. With Debra Winger, Bill Irwin, and Anna Deavere Smith.
Role Models (R for nudity, profanity, sexuality, and crude humor). Sean William Scott and Paul Rudd co-star in this shock comedy as slackers sentenced to 150 hours of community service as mentors to a couple of impressionable youngsters (Christopher ‘McLovin’ Mintz-Plasse and Bobb’e J. Thompson).
Slumdog Millionaire (R for violence, profanity, and disturbing images). Romantic comedy, set in Mumbai, about an 18-year-old street urchin (Dev Patel) who becomes a TV contestant on India’s version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire not for the money but to win back the heart of the girl (Freida Pinto) of his dreams. In English and Hindi with subtitles.
Synecdoche, New York (R for profanity, sexuality, and nudity). Philip Seymour Hoffman stars in this drama about an unhappily married theater director’s struggle to balance women and work while recreating a replica of New York City in a warehouse as a set for his latest play. Cast includes Catherine Keener, Samantha Morton, Hope Davis, Emily Watson, Dianne Wiest, and Michelle Williams.
Transporter 3 (PG-13 for violence, intense action, sexuality, and drug use). High-octane adventure with Jason Statham returning as the gruff, two-fisted chauffeur on a mission where he falls in love with the kidnapped daughter (Natalya Rudakova) of a powerful Ukrainian politician (Jeroen Krabbe) while driving her from Marseilles to Odessa through a gauntlet of mob goons.
Twilight (PG-13 for violence and sensuality). Horror film revolving around the unlikely romance which arises between a beautiful young woman (Kristen Stewart) and a mysterious immortal vampire (Robert Pattinson) irresistibly lured by her primal scent.
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