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Holiday movie preview

Weekendcover

I'm reposting the holiday movie preview that ran in today's paper here, for easy reference. There are at least two films I really want to see opening every weekend between now and the end of the year. And I'm finally starting to get a little stoked for Avatar.

DEC. 4

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Antichrist: Just in time for the holidays comes Lars Von Trier's ruckus-causing scandal about a husband and wife (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) who deal with the death of their young son by holing up in a cabin in the woods and doing exceedingly bad things to each other. I've seen Antichrist and can confirm that little Hostel punk Eli Roth has got nothing on Von Trier. Chaos reigns, indeed.

Armored: Matt Dillon, Jean Reno, Laurence Fishburne and Fred Ward are among the employees of an armored-transport security firm who cook up the ultimate scam: Rip off the company, and no one gets hurt. But everybody knows there's no such thing as the perfect crime. Nimrod Antal (Vacancy) directs the mayhem.

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Brothers: Danish director Susanne Bier's acclaimed 2004 drama gets a Hollywood remake. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a man who comforts the wife (Natalie Portman) of his older brother (Tobey Maguire), a U.S. Marine reportedly killed in Afghanistan. But the reports turn out to be wrong, and after the missing soldier returns home, the brothers must readjust their lives. Jim Sheridan (In America, The Boxer) directs from a script by David Benioff (The 25th Hour).

Everybody's Fine: Robert DeNiro attempts a role he hasn't played in ages -- that of an ordinary man -- in this story about a widower who heads out on a road trip to reconnect with his three grown and estranged children (Sam Rockwell, Kate Beckinsale and Drew Barrymore).

Transylmania: This comedy is about a group of crazy college students who sign up for a semester abroad in Transylvania, where the kegs aren't filled with beer. Haven't these kids ever watched Dracula?

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Up in the Air: Director Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking, Juno) cements his reputation as one of Hollywood's best young filmmakers with this superb drama about a man (George Clooney) who hopes to rack up 10 million frequent-flyer miles as he travels from city to city, helping companies downsize their staffs and telling people they are being laid off. As of this writing, Up in the Air is my favorite movie of the year, although I still have a lot of films left to see.

DEC. 11

Invictus: Clint Eastwood directs the story of how the newly elected Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) used the 1995 Rugby World Cup as a vehicle to unite his country. Matt Damon co-stars as the captain of South Africa's rugby team. Sure, the movie sounds corny and formulaic, but the Eastwood factor cannot be discounted.

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Me and Orson Welles: Richard Linklater (Slacker) directs this adaptation of Robert Kaplow's novel about the behind-the-stage shenanigans during a Mercury Theatre staging of Julius Caesar directed by a young, pre-Citizen Kane Orson Welles (Christian McKay) in 1937. Ben Chaplin, Claire Danes and Zac Efron are among the performers joining the romantic mischief offstage.

The Princess and the Frog: The Walt Disney Co. tries a radical experiment -- hey, let's make a cartoon that's not computer-animated! -- with this old-school, pen-and-ink 'toon inspired by the classic fairy tale transplanted to Jazz-Age New Orleans and boasting the first African-American heroine in Disney animation history. Directed by The Little Mermaid team of Ron Clements and John Musker.

DEC. 18

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Avatar: James Cameron's long-awaited return to the director's chair since 1997's Titanic has already been so hyped the movie feels as if it came out a year ago. Cameron promises you've never seen anything like this adventure, a hybrid of live action and computer animation centering on a war between humanoid aliens on a distant planet. Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver and Michelle Rodriguez co-star. See it in IMAX 3D, or don't see it at all.

Did You Hear About the Morgans?: Hotshot Manhattanites (Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant) whose marriage is on the brink witness a mob hit and are relocated for their protection to a tiny town in Wyoming. But just because they are running for their lives doesn't mean they can't still hate each other.

DEC. 23

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel: The most annoying computer-animated film ever made now has a sequel with the most annoying title ever conceived.

DEC. 25

A Single Man: Befitting a year that saw so many movies about fashion, famed designer Tom Ford makes his filmmaking debut by writing and directing this drama about a man (Colin Firth) reeling from the sudden death of his partner. Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode and Nicholas Hoult co-star.

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Broken Embraces: Writer-director Pedro Almodovar's latest melodrama tells of a former filmmaker (Lluis Homar), blinded in a car crash 14 years before, who has become a screenwriter. News of the death of one of his former producers rekindles memories of his affair with an aspiring actress (Penelope Cruz).

It's Complicated: Nancy Meyers (Something's Gotta Give) wrote and directed this comedy about a divorced woman (Meryl Streep) dating an architect (Steve Martin) who, after a night of dinner and drinks, finds herself falling all over again for her ex-husband (Alec Baldwin, whose performance has generated early Oscar buzz).

The Lovely Bones: Director Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings) takes on another beloved bestseller with fantasy overtones -- Alice Sebold's novel narrated by a murdered little girl (Saoirse Ronan) who looks down from heaven and watches her family (Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz and Susan Sarandon) mourn her death and deal with the void she left. Happy holidays!

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Nine: Daniel Day-Lewis is the world-famous film director having a crisis of conscience, and Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Marion Cotillard and Judi Dench are among the women in his life in director Rob (Chicago) Marshall's adaptation of the smash Broadway musical loosely inspired by the Fellini classic 8 ½.

Sherlock Holmes: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stuffy, pipe-smoking literary detective gets a 21st century makeover in director Guy (Snatch) Ritchie's action-heavy, big-budget reimagining starring Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes and Jude Law as his trusty assistant Watson.

The Young Victoria: Jean-Marc Vallee (C.R.A.Z.Y.) directs this period drama centering on the turbulent early reign of Queen Victoria (Emily Blunt) and her affair with Prince Albert (Rupert Friend). Merry Christmas, Anglophiles!

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Michele MacDonald

I can't wait to see 'A Single Man' with Colin Firth. He won Best Actor at the Venice Film Fest for his role in it...and it got very good buzz at Toronto Int'l Film Fest. I hope it's playing at more than a few theatres in South Florida...
elemacd

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