Vol. LXII, No. 52
Wednesday, December 24, 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.
Bedtime Stories (PG for crude humor and mild epithets). Adam Sandler stars in this fanciful fairy tale about a hotel handyman whose life changes when the imaginative bedtime stories he shares with his niece (Laura Ann Kesling) and nephew (Jonathan Morgan Heit) magically start becoming true. Cast includes Courteney Cox, Richard Griffiths, Gut Pearce, Keri Russell, and Tessa Palmer.
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 Curious Case of Benjamin Button (PG-13 for profanity, sexuality, smoking, and brief war violence). Brad Pitt shares the title role with several other actors in David Fincher’s adaptation of
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic tale about a man born old who gradually grows younger over the course of his life. Cast includes Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Taraji P. Henson, and Elle Fanning.
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). 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.
Gran Torino (R for profanity, ethnic slurs, and violence). Clint Eastwood directed and co-stars in this drama about a recently widowed Korean war veteran who begrudgingly befriends his Asian-American next-door neighbor (Bee Vang) after the troubled teen tries to steal his classic muscle car. Cast includes Brian Haley, Christopher Carley, and John Carroll Lynch.
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-convict (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.
Marley & Me (PG for mature themes and suggestive language). Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson co-star in this family comedy about a couple of newlyweds who move from Michigan to Florida where they learn a host of life lessons from their mischievous Labrador retriever as he grows from a cute puppy into an uncontrollable, 100-pound steamroller. Supporting cast includes Alan Arkin and syndicated columnist Dave Barry.
Milk (R for profanity, sexuality, and violence). Sean Penn plays Harvey Milk in this biopic about the gay San Francisco politician assassinated in 1978 by a Republican colleague (Josh Brolin) who successfully raised the “Twinkie defense” to beat the murder rap. Cast includes James Franco, Emile Hirsch, Alison Pill, and Diego Luna.
Nothing Like the Holidays (PG-13 for drug references, mature themes, and sexual dialogue). 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.
Quantum of Solace (PG-13 for sexuality, violence, and intense action sequences). Daniel Craig returns for his second movie 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.
Revolutionary Road (R for profanity, sexuality, and nudity). Titanic’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet reunite for this screen adaptation of Richard Yates’ best-seller, set in the fifties, about a married couple in crisis who move from Connecticut to Paris to escape suburbia while trying to revitalize their relationship.
Seven Pounds (PG-13 for mature themes, sensuality, and disturbing content). Will Smith stars in this tale of redemption about a guilt ridden widower who opts to perform seven acts of kindness for perfect strangers before committing suicide. Cast includes Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson, Barry Pepper, and Michael Ealy.
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.
The Spirit (PG-13 for stylized violence, sexuality, and brief nudity). Frank Miller directs this screen adaptation of Will Eisner’s superhero comic book series about a murdered rookie cop (Gabriel Macht) who returns from the dead as a crime-fighting masked crusader. Cast includes Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, and Eva Mendes.
The Tale of Despereaux (G). Animated adventure about a big-eared mouse (Matthew Devereaux) challenged to summon up the courage to save a beautiful princess (Emma Watson) kidnapped by an evil rat (Dustin Hoffman). Voice cast includes Frank Langella, Sigourney Weaver, Christopher Lloyd, Kevin Kline, Richard Jenkins, William H. Macy, Tracy Ullman, and Stanley Tucci.
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.
Valkyrie (PG-13 for violence and brief profanity). Tom Cruise stars in this true World War II tale about several high-ranking Nazi officers who conspire to assassinate Adolf Hitler (David Bamber) in July of 1944. Cast includes Bill Nighy, Terence Stamp, Carice van Houten, Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Izzard, Tom Wilkinson, and Thomas Kretschmann. In English and German with subtitles.
The Wrestler (R for violence, nudity, sexuality, profanity, and drug use). Mickey Rourke plays the title role in this drama about a washed-up pro wrestler who comes out of retirement, despite suffering a heart attack, for one last match against his old nemesis (Ernest Miller). Supporting cast includes Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, and Judah Friedlander.
Yes Man (PG-13 for profanity, sexuality, crude humor, and brief nudity). Jim Carrey comedy about a guy in a self-help program which has him answering “yes” to every question for a year. With Zooey Deschanel, Bradley Cooper, and Sasha Alexander.
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