by HELEN GEIB
A Christmas Carol in November? I know the Christmas season isn’t where it used to be, but this is getting ridiculous. Also coming in November: two very different post-apocalypse stories, the second film in the Twilight series (excuse me, “saga”), several comedies, a heartwarming true story, two supernatural thrillers duking it out over the same opening weekend, and a ninja movie.
The Box – The non-prolific Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko, Southland Tales) wrote and directed this supernatural thriller based on a Richard Matheson short story. Cameron Diaz and James Marsden play a couple simultaneously tempted and threatened by a mysterious man who offers them a million dollars – if they will kill a stranger.
A Christmas Carol – When you watched (your version of choice of) A Christmas Carol last year, did you think, “yeah, it’s a classic and all that, but what this movie really needs is souped-up special effects and motion-capture animation?” If so, then this is the movie for you. Robert Zemeckis wrote and directed this latest version of the perennial holiday favorite, which is filmed using the animation technique employed in Zemeckis’ last two movies, The Polar Express and Beowulf. Jim Carrey as Scrooge heads a cast filled with famous, acclaimed actors who will sort-of appear on screen as characters somewhat resembling Dickens’.
The Fourth Kind – Milla Jovovich stars in this alien-abduction thriller about an investigation into a decades-long string of unexplained disappearances in an Alaskan town. The film was written and directed by newcomer Olatunde Osunsanmi.
The Men Who Stare at Goats – And The Men Who Stare at Goats makes it four for four: all of this weekend’s Hollywood releases traffic in the paranormal. They don’t have much of anything else in common though, with The Men adding satiric comedy to the mix. Actor Grant Heslov directs George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, and Kevin Spacey in this story of a reporter covering the Iraq War who meets a man claiming to be a member of an elite unit of soldiers with paranormal abilities.
2012 – Roland Emmerich destroys the world again. John Cusack, Thandie Newton, and Chiwetel Ejiofor contend with the special effects.
Pirate Radio – Culture-revolution comedy set in 1960s England and revolving around a pirate radio station broadcasting from the North Sea. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Billy Nighy are the familiar names in the cast. Richard Curtis, who is primarily a screenwriter, wrote and directed; his prior writing-directorial effort was Love Actually.
The Blind Side – Drama based on the life story of NFL player Michael Oher, whose poverty-stricken childhood was radically transformed when he was taken in by a wealthy family whose son attended the same school. Quinton Aaron stars as Oher and Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw play his foster parents. I’m all about the heartwarming and would undoubtedly have seen this movie anyway, but there’s no way I’m missing it now I know it was directed by John Lee Hancock (The Rookie, The Alamo).
Planet 51 – Animated comedy for the family audience about an astronaut (voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) who lands on an alien planet where the familiar earthling-alien dynamic is directly reversed. Co-directed by first time directors Jorge Blanco and Javier Abad.
The Twilight Saga: New Moon – Sequel to last year’s wildly successful adaptation of the first novel in Stephanie Meyer’s wildly successful vampire-teen romance series. Reportedly we see a lot more of the hunky American Indian werewolves this time around – in every sense. New Moon was directed by Chris Weitz (About a Boy, The Golden Compass), who did not direct Twilight. Kristin Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Jacob Lautner, all of whom did star in Twilight, star.
November 25 (Wednesday)
Ninja Assassin – Ninjas! Yakuza! Ninjas! Need I say more? Korean rising-star Rain stars in this revenge-drama with throwing stars (ninjas!), which was directed by James McTeigue (V for Vendetta).
Old Dogs – The title’s similarity to Wild Hogs is entirely intentional. Old Dogs was directed by Walt Becker (who also helmed Wild Hogs) and stars John Travolta and Robin Williams in a series of humiliating situations.
The Road – One of numerous recent and upcoming films set in a post-apocalyptic future-world, this drama is based on Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of a father and son traveling through a ravaged land in search of safe harbor. Starring Viggo Mortenson, Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce, and Garrett Dillahunt; directed by John Hillcoat (The Proposition).