directed by Gabriele Muccino
After a year of battling monsters in I Am Legend and drunkenly taking to the air in Hancock, Will Smith is returning to something a little heavier (pun intended) in this drama about a man whose past has left him guilt-ridden and intent on suicide. His plan is to change the lives of seven strangers while taking his own life. But when he falls in love with one of those said strangers (Rosario Dawson), his suicide and the promises made to the strangers become a complicated battle between love and redemption. Teaming up once again with his The Pursuit of Happyness director Muccino, it’s clear Smith has found his niche as the struggling everyman trying to cope with the guilt and doubt inherent in a harsh world. But with a screenplay this mysterious and unpredictable, we may see a side of the actor we never knew existed.
The Tale of Despereaux
directed by Sam Fell & Robert Stevenhagen
Based on the fantasy book by Kate DiCamillo, this animated feature from Flushed Away director Fell and animator Stevenhagen will be the go-to movie for kids this holiday season. Matthew Broderick provides the voice of Despereaux, a mouse whose bravery and sense of adventure make him an unpopular standout amongst the rest of his species. The story brings the title character to the forefront of his dreams when a princess (Emma Watson) is kidnapped by another outcast mouse (Dustin Hoffman) and it’s up to Despereaux to save her. While the movie sends a great childhood message of being brave and dreaming big, adults may find a game of “Name That Celebrity Voice” the only enjoyment that comes from watching this movie.
directed by Darren Aronofsky
After a slight detour (ahem, misstep) into more commercial territory with 2006’s The Fountain, Aronofsky has come back to his indie roots with this story of a down-and-out wrestler who, after a heart attack forces him into early retirement, tries to put his life back together. Mickey Rourke plays the broken wrestler as he attempts to forge a romantic relationship with a stripper (Marisa Tomei) and reconnect with his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood), all the while hoping for one last match against his wrestling nemesis. With critics abuzz over the stripped down and raw performance from Rourke, a possible Oscar nod might be in the works for the actor, giving Rourke the real life redemption his character is chasing. So, say what you will about wrestling being staged or fake, because it appears there’s nothing counterfeit in the performances and emotions within Aronofsky’s latest venture.
directed by Peyton Reed
After The Number 23, we all wanted our old Jim Carrey back. And while Horton Hears A Who! marked the actor’s return into the comedic roles he’s known for, the voice of an animated elephant just wasn’t enough. In Yes Man, Carrey appears to be back in full swing as a man who decides to say yes to everything for a year. Along the way he bungee jumps, pops wheelies on a motorbike and, big surprise, falls in love. But while the movie’s plot may be a one-trick pony that’s already been done (replace the whole being honest part of Liar Liar with being open to things), the question is: Could there be a better movie for a physical comedian? We would have to say no.
Nothing But the Truth
directed by Rod Lurie
George W. Bush is almost out of office and what better way to reminisce over his stay than with a movie loosely based on the Valerie Plame case, in which a writer’s op-ed piece revealed his wife as a CIA agent and charged the Bush administration with manipulating intelligence to invade Iraq. In the movie, Kate Beckinsale plays a newspaper reporter who is sent to jail after she refuses to give up her source, a CIA operative, for an article on an American missile attack in Venezuela. With a great supporting cast that includes Matt Dillon, Angela Basset and Alan Alda, the movie asks what honesty means in a society that punishes those who are attempting to find and speak the truth. But while the movie’s story is engaging enough and it’s nice to see Beckinsale battling something other than vampires, with an economic recession and people uncertain of the future state of the country, audiences might be looking for something a little more upbeat.