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21 December and Beyond...

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The Impossible

Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts, Geraldine Chaplin, Marta Etura
21 December
The Impossible


We loved Juan Antonio Bayona’s briliant 2007 thriller The Orphanage. It was the perfect marriage of old school horror with telling touches of Argento and Del Toro. So imagine our surprise when Bayona’s five years in the making follow-up is not a horror film, but a story of survival set against the horrible events of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Starring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts as a couple who find themselves separated and stranded by the wall of water, there are touches of Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter in the trailer. Luckily, it looks like Bayona is going for emotion, not something ethereal.


 

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Jack Reacher

Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Cast: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Robert Duvall, Werner Herzog, Richard Jenkins
21 December
Jack Reacher


Tom Cruise was absolutely fabulous in Rock of Ages. His turn as a tired, burned out superstar definitely deserves Oscar consideration. The rest of the movie, not so much. Here, the celebrated Scientologist is back in more familiar commercial territory, taking on a favored fictional character that mirrors many of his most famous onscreen traits. Reacher is a loner, an ex-military police officer who, while living along the skids, maintains a firm moral high ground. This is put to the test when an accused killer asks him to investigate the case. Some fans have taken issue with Cruise’s size, but for many, he’s the right choice.


 

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Not Fade Away

Director: David Chase
Cast: James Gandolfini, Jack Huston, Brad Garrett, Christopher McDonald, Bella Heathcote, Molly Price
21 December
Not Fade Away


This sounds a lot like a more serious version of That Thing You Do! , and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Even better, The Sopranos’ David Chase is acting as writer, director, and producer here, bringing along James Gandolfini as well. The storyline, sadly, has little to do with the mafia. Instead, it centers around a ‘60s era rock band trying to make it big. Beyond that, we know little else. Since it’s set to open at the New York Film Festival in October, hopefully we’ll get more insight into what the TV titan has in store for Cineplexes.


 

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This is 40

Director: Judd Apatow
Cast: Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd, John Lithgow, Albert Brooks, Megan Fox, Ryan Lee, Jason Segel
21 December
This is 40


It calls itself the “sort of” sequel to Knocked Up, and it’s not hard to see why. Absent almost completely from the trailer (and one imagines, the final film itself) are references to the characters played by Seth Rogen and (an ungrateful) Katherine Heigl. Instead, this tale focuses on Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann as the marrieds who hit the midlife crisis wall head on. Expanding beyond the original, we get the great Albert Brooks as Rudd’s dithering dad, as well as turns by Jason Segel, John Lithgow, and some up and coming actress known as… Megan Fox? Hopefully, it’s more funny than filthy.


 

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Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away

Director: Andrew Adamson
Cast: Various
21 December
Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away


Apparently, redefining the big top experience is not enough for this acclaimed Canadian “circus” act. Now they have to get into the whole unnecessary 3D cinematic experience as well. Apparently, this isn’t just some filmed version of a Cirque Du Soleil experience. Instead, the press material argue that there is an actual “narrative” here, featuring a star crossed couple who must travel through a magical world populated by aerialists, fire breathers, and other three ring regulars, in order to find true love. Whatever. James Cameron’s name is featured heavily in the promotion. He supposedly had something to do with the technological end of the production.


 

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Parental Guidance

Director: Andy Fickman
Cast: Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei, Bailee Madison, Mavrick Moreno, Madison Lintz, Joshua Rush, Kyle Harrison Breitkopf
25 December
Parental Guidance


Billy Crystal and Bette Midler play a married couple dealing with their spoiled grandchildren. Okay, we can buy that. Even better, when the touchy feely parenting of 2012 doesn’t appear to work, our decidedly old school couple apply some of the lessons learned from their own far stricter youth. One assumes, hijinx ensue. Don’t build your hopes up too high, however. Aside from seeing ‘80s artifacts Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel as part of the five (FIVE! ) person screenwriting team, the director is Andy Fickman, of The Game Plan and You Again fame.


 

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Django Unchained

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Johnson, Dennis Christopher, Tom Savini
25 December
Django Unchained


Having gone through crime, blaxsploitation, horror, action, martial arts, and war, it’s time for the master of manipulating movie references, Quentin Tarantino, to add a couple more homages to his hefty resume. This time, he’s tackling two favorites, the spaghetti western and Southern Gothic. His story of a former slave hooking up with a foreign bounty hunter to exact revenge on the man who destroyed his family seems right up the auteur’s alley. With an impeccable cast and QT’s talent for dialogue, this could be the film to beat come end of the year. We can’t wait for opening day.


 

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The Guilt Trip

Director: Anne Fletcher
Cast: Barbra Streisand, Seth Rogen, Adam Scott, Colin Hanks, Brett Cullen
25 December
The Guilt Trip


In one of the greatest bits of stunt casting yet, Seth Rogen plays an inventor who invites his mother along on a cross country trip while be promotes his latest product. And who, pray tell, will said mommy be? Why, none other than the defiant diva herself, Barbra Streisand. It’s the first time she’s starred in a film since her extended cameos as part of the Focker clan. If there is a down side, here, it’s director Anne Fletcher. Looking over her creative canon—Step Up, 27 Dresses, The Proposal—it’s easy to see why.


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Also Opening in December: Deadfall (12/7), Monsters, Inc. in 3D (12/19).

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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