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25 December

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Films That Should Satisfy

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Sherlock Holmes

Director: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong
Review [30.Mar.2010]
Review [23.Dec.2009]
25 December
Sherlock Holmes Guy Ritchie needs to be prepared. He will either be a genius or a goat for turning the classic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle character into a rip roaring rocknrolla! Indeed, that’s the re-imagination approach here - less deduction, more flexed muscle butt kicking. Of course, the cast is stellar - Robert Downey Jr. as the celebrated sleuth, Jude Law as sidekick Watson, Rachel McAdams as a love interest, Mark Strong as the (possible) villain. All the UK Tarantino needs to do is be more like Snatch and less like Swept Away and he’ll be all right. Still, the purists are going to plotz over the obvious differences between the post-modern Holmes and the brilliance of Basil Rathbone (or for that matter, the more recent turns by Jeremy Brett). So far, the trailers aren’t telling very much at all. Still, there are a few more months before this project’s viability needs sorting out. In the meantime, let’s speculate away.
 

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Tree of Life

Director: Terrence Malick
Cast: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Joanna Going, Jessica Chastain, Fiona Shaw
25 December
Tree of Life


When you hear the name Terrence Malick, and see the title, you assume some esoteric experiment in visual philosophizing, centering on the symbolism inherent in the mentioned mystical element. When you learn that this is actually a ‘50s drama starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, dealing with a young man’s coming of age and disillusion with the world he sees around him, all bets are suddenly off. Rumors have Malick, a typically meticulous and detail oriented director, trying something “radical”, and there are hints at something almost Kubrickian about the narrative (there are reports of prehistoric sequences being prepared for the film). The namesake facet will indeed be present, and in conjunction with the fact that Malick doesn’t make many movies (since 1973 he’s only helmed five features…FIVE! ), this has all the appearances of an actual cinematic event in the making. 


 

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The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Director: Terry Gilliam
Cast: Christopher Plummer, Heath Ledger, Lily Cole, Andrew Garfield, Tom Waits, Verne Troyer, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell
Review [23.Dec.2009]
25 December
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus


Upon his death, Heath Ledger was in the middle of making this Terry Gilliam fantasy, yet another bit of bad luck for the moviemaking ex-Python. Luckily, the late actor’s friends, including Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, and Jude Law stepped in to help finish the film, guaranteeing it a major box office push as a kind of poignant filmic farewell to the recently deceased Oscar winner…right? Well, not exactly. Up until a few weeks ago, Parnassus was without US distribution, several studios balking at taking up the task of marketing this mystery of a movie. Gilliam is a true genius, a man whose mad vision rarely translates to major mainstream acceptance. Even with the built in ploy of Ledger’s last performance, few see dollar signs in what he does. Maybe this will be the project that turns those flailing fortunes around.


 

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It’s Complicated

Director: Nancy Meyers
Cast: Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin, Lake Bell, John Krasinski, Rita Wilson
25 December
It’s Complicated


Nancy Meyers’ transition from writer to hit filmmaker was complicated by the separation from her husband Charles Shyer. Oddly enough, that 1999 event has helped shade such witty RomComs as What Women Want, and Something’s Gotta Give. Now comes the Meryl Streep/Steve Martin/Alec Baldwin laugher which finds the former Wild and Crazy Guy battling the Republican’s biggest nightmare for the affections of the former Miss Mamma Mia. Perhaps the most unusual element at play here is that…there is nothing unusual. Meyers treats her characters like adults, dealing with the problems they face in mature if also comical ways. Her casting is always impeccable, even when the performers don’t quite mesh with her narrative ideals (see Jack Black and Kate Winslet in The Holiday). This is an adult dramedy for a more mature moviegoing audience. And as they have proven all year, playing to the over 50 set can earn big time box office rewards.




Films That May Leave Your Starving

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Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel

Director: Betty Thomas;
Cast: Jason Lee, David Cross, Cameron Richardson, Zachary Levi, Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, MPAA rating: PG-13
25 December



Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel



Apparently, the filmmaking gods hate us. That, or cloying kiddie comedies that turn a decent profit at the box office take precedent over actual examples of motion picture originality. In the long line of unnecessary sequels comes this Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen level atrocity which sees our singing rodents dealing with fame, school, and a competing group of vocalizing vermin known as the Chipettes. Ugh. With Betty Thomas replacing Tim Hill behind the lens, and a script from the same three so-called scribes who stunk up the first film, expect much, much more of the same. More unfunny slapstick. More high pitched poop jokes. More feelings of multiple fingernails repeated scraping the black off a rickety chalkboard. And don’t you worry, somebody already has Part 3 percolating in their laptop. Maybe we can keep it as a direct to DVD deal by not supporting this stupidity.


Since deciding to employ his underdeveloped muse muscles over five years ago, Bill has been a significant staff member and writer for three of the Web's most influential websites: DVD Talk, DVD Verdict and, of course, PopMatters. He also has expanded his own web presence with Bill Gibron.com a place where he further explores creative options. It is here where you can learn of his love of Swindon's own XTC, skim a few chapters of his terrifying tome in the making, The Big Book of Evil, and hear samples from the cassette albums he created in his college music studio, The Scream Room.


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