In Theaters Now: Choke, Miracle at St. Anna, Eagle Eye, Nights in Rodanthe & The Lucky Ones


Eagle Eye
directed by D.J. Caruso

Re-teamed with Disturbia director D.J. Caruso, Shia LaBeouf has come a long way since his days on the Disney Channel. Having played the son of Indiana Jones and the unlikely hero at the center of Transformers, LaBeouf is positioned to become the next big box office action star. In Eagle Eye he plays a man forced to become part of a terrorist sect, who must work against the clock to stay alive and stop those controlling him. Although the plot is more than a little preposterous and its original release date was moved back a month (never a good sign), LaBeouf’s co-stars include Michelle Monaghan (Gone Baby Gone) and the somewhat hit or miss Billy Bob Thornton and if they all deliver, Eagle Eye could be a nice little distraction as fall closes in.

Miracle at St. Anna
directed by Spike Lee

Spike Lee’s latest movie, an adaptation of James McBride’s novel of the same name (McBride also penned the screenplay), marks a departure from his usual fare. The film moves across time to tell the story of four members (Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, Laz Alonso and Omar Benson Miller) of the 92nd “Buffalo Soldier” Division, an all-black infantry unit that was stationed in Italy during World War II. Though it’s certainly a new area for the seasoned director, with his skill and a supporting cast that includes John Turturro (Barton Fink), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Brick) and John Leguizamo (Summer of Sam), the film certainly won’t need any miracles to secure an audience.

Choke
directed by Clark Gregg

One of three book adaptations opening this weekend, actor Clark Gregg (TV’s “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” Iron Man) chose to make his directorial debut telling the story of sex addict Victor Mancini (Sam Rockwell) who attempts to pay his mother’s (Anjelica Huston) hospital bills by pretending to choke to death and conning the people who save him. Based on the Chuck Palahniuk novel and featuring talented supporting actors Brad William Henke (SherryBaby) and Kelly Macdonald (No Country for Old Men), early buzz has been good for this sex-obsessed and morally suspect dark comedy. Now the only question is, can Gregg (who also wrote the script) capture the offbeat voice of Palahniuk as well as David Fincher did in 1999 with Fight Club?

Nights in Rodanthe
directed by George C. Wolfe

After the sleeper success of The Notebook there’s hope that the newest film based on a Nicholas Sparks novel could follow in its footsteps. Led by Emmy-nominated director George C. Wolfe (Lackawanna Blues) and featuring Richard Gere and Diane Lane in the lead romantic roles, there is a strong possibility that Nights in Rodanthe could rise above the typical Sparks schmaltz (anyone recall the teen sob-fest A Walk to Remember?). But will its middle-aged protagonists keep it from attracting younger movie-goers and achieving box office victory?

The Lucky Ones
directed by Neil Burger

Writer-director Neil Burger (The Illusionist) tells the story of three soldiers recently returned from Iraq (Rachel McAdams, Tim Robbins and Michael Peña) who decide to take a road trip to Pittsburgh after a blackout shuts down the airport. With a top-notch cast and a script that strikes the perfect balance of humor and seriousness, the only thing left for The Lucky Ones to worry about is falling into the rut that has plagued other recent Iraq War-themed releases. Judging by the way the film’s release date has been bumped around, Lionsgate is well aware of the danger, but hopefully The Lucky Ones will indeed be lucky enough to overcome the public’s aversion to seeing the war on-screen.

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