Vol. LXIII, No. 3
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
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.
Bride Wars (PG for crude humor, suggestive content, and mild epithets). Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway co-star in this romantic comedy about a couple of lifelong best friends who become bitter rivals after a clerical error has both of their weddings scheduled for the same day. Cast includes Candice Bergen, Bryan Greenberg, and Chris Platt.
Chandni Chowk to China (Unrated). Action comedy about a humble chef (Akshay Kumar) from Delhi who moves to China after being mistaken by a couple of visitors from the Orient as the reincarnation of an ancient war hero.
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 short story 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 Dark Knight (PG-13 for menacing and intense violence). Christian Bale returns as the Caped Crusader in an action thriller co-starring the late Heath Ledger as Batman’s archenemy, a psychopathic clown known as the Joker. Cast includes Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, and Michael Jai White.
Defiance (R for violence and profanity). Oscar-winner Edward Zwick directs this harrowing tale of survival, set in occupied Poland during World War II, recounting the heroic efforts of three brothers (Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, and Jamie Bell) who escape into the forest where they join forces with Russian resistance fighters to save over 1,000 fellow Jews from the Nazis.
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.
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.
Hotel for Dogs (PG for crude humor, mild epithets, and mature themes). Family comedy about a couple of orphaned siblings (Emma Roberts and Jake T. Austin) who turn an abandoned hotel into a shelter for stray dogs after being pressured by their foster parents to put their own beloved dog up for adoption. Supporting cast includes Don Cheadle, Lisa Kudrow, and Kyla Pratt.
Inkheart (PG for fantasy action, scary moments, and mild epithets). Screen adaptation of the Cornelia Funke children’s novel of the same name about a man (Brendan Fraser) who discovers he has an uncanny ability to bring fairy tale characters to life when reading aloud to his daughter (Eliza Bennett). Cast includes Helen Mirren, Paul Bettany, and Sienna Guillory.
Last Chance Harvey (PG-13 for brief profanity). Midlife crisis drama about a down-on-his-luck, divorced jingle writer (Dustin Hoffman) from New York who travels to London for the wedding of his estranged daughter (Liane Balaban) only to embark on a whirlwind romance with a lonely British bureaucrat (Emma Thompson) he meets in a pub. With James Brolin, Kathy Baker, and Eileen Atkins.
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.
My Bloody Valentine 3-D (R for profanity, gruesome violence, grisly images, explicit sexuality, and graphic nudity). Slasher film about a coal miner (Jensen Ackles) who returns to his hometown of Harmony exactly 10 years after the slaughter of 22 locals by a deranged murderer on Valentine’s Day only to discover another madman embarking on a similar killing spree.
Not Easily Broken (PG-13 for mature themes and sexual references). Bill Duke directs this adaptation of Bishop T. D. Jakes’ novel about an emotionally estranged couple (Morris Chestnut and Taraji P. Henson) whose marriage ends up in crisis when she is seriously injured in a car accident and he finds himself falling in love with her physical therapist (Maeve Quinlan). Supporting cast includes Kevin Hart, Jenifer Lewis, and Niecy Nash.
Notorious (R for nudity, drug use, graphic sexuality, and pervasive profanity). Biopic about the rise and fall of Notorious B.I.G. (Jamal Woolard), aka Biggie Smalls, the Brooklyn born crack dealer-turned-gangsta rapper gunned down in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles in 1997, the victim of the bloody East Coast West Coast hip-hop feud. Cast includes Angela Bassett as Biggie’s mom, Naturi Naughton as Lil’ Kim, Derek Luke as Sean “Puffy” Combs, Anthony Mackie as Tupac Shakur, Antonique Smith as Faith Evans, and Sean Ringgold as Suge Knight.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop (PG for violence, suggestive material, crude humor, and mild epithets). Kevin James stars in the title role of this Christmas comedy about a mild-mannered security guard who saves the day when crooks disguised as Santa’s helpers take hostages at a suburban shopping mall in New Jersey. With Keir O’Donnell, Bobby Cannavale, and Raini Rodriguez.
Possession (PG-13 for profanity, sexuality, violence, and disturbing images). Sarah Michelle Gellar stars in this out-of-body thriller about a woman whose husband (Michael Ryan) is left comatose by the same car accident from which his brother (Lee Pace) awakes believing he’s married to his sister-in-law.
The Reader (R for nudity and sexuality). Post-World War II drama about a young German law student (Ralph Fiennes), who encounters a former secret ex-lover (Kate Winslet), who is twice his age, while observing the Nazi war trials where she’s a defendant accused of committing a heinous crime against humanity.
Revolutionary Road (R for profanity, sexuality, and nudity). 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 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.
The Unborn (PG-13 for profanity, disturbing images, sexual references, mature themes, terror, and intense violence). Horror film about an orphaned young woman (Odette Yustman) haunted by a ghost who enlists the assistance of a rabbi (Gary Oldman) to uncover the source of a family curse that can be traced back to Nazi Germany. With Jane Alexander, Cam Gigandet, Meagan Good, Idris Elba, and Carla Gugino.
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (R for sexuality and graphic violence). Third installment in the horror series delves into the roots of the centuries-old feud between a race of aristocratic vampires ruled by an evil monarch (Bill Nighy) and their werewolf slaves led by a young rebel (Michael Sheen) with a lover (Rhona Mitra) hiding a big secret.
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 conspired 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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