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PCR # 400  (Vol. 8, No. 47)  This edition is for the week of November 19--25, 2007.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
Holiday Movie Preview

Commentary by:
Michael A. Smith

theater seats


MOVIE REVIEW
Holiday Movie Preview  by Mike Smith
MOVIE REVIEW
"No Country For Old Men"  by Mike Smith
ODDSERVATIONS
Happy #400 & Thanksgrave-ing, VHS Grindhouse  by Andy Lalino
RETRORAMA
Show Review: Renningers Antique & Collector Extravaganza  by ED Tucker
MATT'S RAIL
Happy Thanksgiving....The Big 400....Famous Monsters of Filmland Coming to an End  by Matt Drinnenberg
MIKE'S RANT
Age Is Only Relative .... Passing On .... Strike! Strike! Strike! .... How Come I've Known This Since I Was A Kid? .... Happy 400! .... .... .... .... Whatever Happened To--? Chapter 34: Robby Benson g  by Mike Smith
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As you head to the fridge for another helping of leftover turkey and stuffing, you may be wondering what does Hollywood have to offer me this holiday season? Any dramas? Of course. Sequels? A couple. Musicals? But of course. Here is a guide to the next six weeks at your local multiplex. Don’t forget, as I warn you every year, the listed release date is subject to change at the whim of the film studios. Some synopsis information courtesy of the Internet Movie Data Base.

NOVEMBER 28          
THE SAVAGES
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Laura Linney
Directed by: Tamara Jenkins

Hoffman and Linney star as a brother and sister who must deal with the responsibility of family when they come together to care for the ailing father (Phillip Bosco). OSCAR CHANCES: Both Hoffman and Linney have been to the big dance before, with Hoffman winning the Best Actor prize two years ago for “Capote.” However, if Hoffman nabs a nomination this year it will probably be for “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.”

NOVEMBER 30          
AWAKE
Starring: Hayden Christensen, Jessica Alba and Lena Olin
Directed by: Joby Harold

While undergoing heart surgery a man (Christensen) awakes, but is unable to move or speak. He overhears the surgeons planning his murder, though he seems powerless to stop them. Alba co-stars as his wife. OSCAR CHANCES: Alba looked great in her Fantastic Four costume, but I don’t think that’s a category this year.

THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
Starring: Mathieu Amalric and Emmanuelle Seigner
Directed by: Julian Schnabel

A true story based on the life of former Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby, who wrote his biography after a stroke left his entire body paralyzed except for his left eye. OSCAR CHANCES: The academy loves people with afflictions (see Daniel Day-Lewis in “My Left Foot”, so Amalric is a possibility. And, of course, best foreign language film.

DECEMBER 5          
JUNO
Starring: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman
Directed by: Jason Reitman

A 16-year-old girl (Page) and her best friend (Cera) decide to see what’s so special about sex. Surprise! Knowing she can’t raise the child, she consults the local Pennysaver for surrogate parents. OSCAR CHANCES: This film garnered raves when it played the Toronto Film Festival so anything is possible. Director Reitman is the son of Ivan, not a bad director himself (“Ghostbusters”)

DECEMBER 7          
ATONEMENT
Starring: Keira Knightley and James McAvoy
Directed by: Joe Wright

Based on the British romance novel by Ian McEwan, a thirteen-year old girl wrongly accuses her older sister’s lover of a terrible crime, changing everyone’s life forever. OSCAR CHANCES: Another film heading our way with great word of mouth, mostly for McAvoy’s performance and the beautiful period settings, costumes and photography.

THE GOLDEN COMPASS
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig and Dakota Blue Richards
Directed by: Chris Weitz

In a parallel universe, a young orphan journeys to the far North to save her best friend and other kidnapped children from terrible experiments by a mysterious organization. OSCAR CHANCES: Hard to say. Weitz was part of the team that created the “American Pie” series, though he did get an Oscar nomination for his script of “About A Boy.” A lot of religious groups are boycotting this film, saying it is not right for the young audience it’s been made for. Think of it as an anti “Narnia.”

GRACE IS GONE
Starring: John Cusack and Mary Kay Place
Directed by: James C. Strouse

A man (Cusack) takes his two daughters on a Florida vacation, hoping to find a way to tell them that their mother, a member of the military, has died in Iraq. OSCAR CHANCES: Surprisingly, Cusack has never been nominated for an Oscar, but that could change here as he gives one of his best “adult” performances.

THE WALKER
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Kristin Scott Thomas and Lauren Bacall
Directed by: Paul Schrader

In 1980, Richard Gere became a star when he replaced John Travolta as the star of “American Gigolo.” Here, writer/director Schrader continues the story, this time with Harrelson an escort to the high society ladies of Washington D.C. who winds up involved in a murder case. OSCAR CHANCES: Schrader wrote such films as “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull” and “The Last Temptation of Christ,” as well as one of my favorite dramas, “Hardcore,” so a script nomination isn’t out of the question.

REVOLVER
Starring: Jason Statham and Ray Liotta
Directed by: Guy Ritchie

A skilled gambler beats a casino owner who then puts a hit out on him. OSCAR CHANCES: As this film opened in Moscow TWO YEARS AGO I’m going to have to say “Nyet!”

DECEMBER 12          
THE PERFECT HOLIDAY
Starring: Morris Chestnut, Gabrielle Union and Terrence Howard
Directed by: Lance Rivera Kind of like “Miracle On 34th Street,” only this time the little girl wants a husband for her mother instead of a house. OSCAR CHANCES: Ho, ho, NO.

DECEMBER 14          
ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS
Starring: Jason Lee, Alvin, Simon, Theodore
Directed by: Tim Hill

The director of the “Garfield” films now takes on the musical band of Chipmunks. OSCAR CHANCES: Alvin has a better chance of getting that Hula Hoop he always sang about.

I AM LEGEND
Starring: Will Smith and Alice Braga
Directed by: Francis Lawrence

Smith stars as Robert Neville, the only survivor of a biological attack on New York City. He spends the day fighting the zombies who roam the city and the night hiding from them. If you were around in the early 1970s, this is a remake of the Charlton Heston film “The Omega Man.” OSCAR CHANCES: Last year I dissed the Fresh Prince only to see him pull a must deserved nod for “The Pursuit of Happyness.” This year I’m not committing either way.

THE KITE RUNNER
Starring: Khalid Abdalla
Directed by: Marc Forster

Separated from his best friend as a child when Russia invaded Afghanistan and his family fled to America, a man returns to his home country to help his old friend’s son. Based on the best-selling novel by Khaled Hosseini. OSCAR CHANCES: Forster directed “Monster’s Ball” and “Finding Neverland” and is getting ready to direct the next James Bond film. He has gotten Oscar worthy work from his casts in the past (Halle Berry won, Johnny Depp was nominated), so chances are good.

YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH
Starring: Tim Roth, Alexandra Maria Lara and Bruno Ganz
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola

After working as a director for hire on such films as “Jack” and “The Rainmaker,” the great Francis Ford Coppola returns after a decade long absence with this story of an elderly scientist who is struck by lightning and begins to regress backwards age-wise. Sadly, this gets the attention of the Nazi’s, who believe he has discovered the secret of youth. OSCAR CHANCES: Coppola has fourteen previous nominations in his career and four Oscars. Heck, even his daughter (Sophia) and nephew (Nicolas Cage) have one. Never bet against a master.

DECEMBER 21          
NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS
Starring: Nicolas Cage and Helen Mirren
Directed by: Jon Turtletaub

Sequel number one finds treasure hunter Benjamin Franklin Gates trying to clear the name of one of his ancestors, who is revealed to be one of the conspirators in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. OSCAR CHANCES: Both Cage and Mirren have Oscars, but they won’t be adding to their total here. Sit back with a large popcorn and enjoy the spectacle.

P.S. I LOVE YOU
Starring: Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler
Directed by: Richard LaGravenese

After her husband dies, a woman discovers a series of notes he has written to help her get on with her life. OSCAR CHANCES: Swank has two Oscars already so how can you say no? Director LaGravenese was nominated for writing “The Fisher King.”

SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET
Starring: Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter
Directed by: Tim Burton

Here’s the musical you asked about. After being released from prison, an innocent man gains revenge by killing the customers in his barber street. He is aided by Mrs. Lovett who, as the song says, bakes “The Best Pies In London.” Based on one of the greatest musicals in the history of theatre. OSCAR CHANCES: Could be another “Chicago” or “Dreamgirls” or (fingers crossed) “Hairspray.” If the odd couple of Burton and Depp had to make a musical, this is certainly the one. The fact that creator Stephen Sondheim approved all involved speaks volumes. Look for several nominations.

WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY
Starring: John C. Reilly and Jenna Fischer
Directed by: Jake Kasdan

Musical number two, sort of. Judd Apatow (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up”) has written his version of “Walk the Line,” with Reilly playing the title character through various stages of his musical career. Rumored cameos include Jack White as Elvis Presley and Paul Rudd and Jack Black(?) as John Lennon and Paul McCartney. OSCAR CHANCES: Reilly was nominated for “Chicago” but, sadly, comedy is often overlooked at the academy.

DECEMBER 25          
ALIEN vs PREDATOR: REQUIEM
Starring: John Ortiz and Shareeka Epps
Directed by: Colin and Greg Strause

Otherwise known as “AvP:R,” and obviously a great Christmas day present for those who like to save letters. This time a small town bands together to defeat the beasties who have invaded for a final war. Well, it’s not all war as we are introduced to a “Predalien,” who gets the best (worst) of both creatures. OSCAR CHANCES: Nope!

THE BUCKET LIST
Starring: Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman
Directed by: Rob Reiner

Remember wondering why Jack Nicholson had a bald head at this years Oscars? It’s because he was shooting this movie with Freeman about two men with cancer who take a road trip and cross things off a list of things they want to do before they kick the bucket. OSCAR CHANCES: Hmmmmmmm, let’s see. Jack has three, Freeman has one and Reiner has been denied deserving nominations for no less than three movies (“Stand By Me,” “Misery” and “A Few Good Men.”) Here’s hoping all three men are rewarded this time.

CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR
Starring: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman
Directed by: Mike Nichols

A true story/political comedy concerning a playboy congressman, a renegade CIA agent and a beautiful socialite’s covert dealings in Afghanistan. Nichols directed “Primary Colors” so he knows how to draw laughs out of the government. OSCAR CHANCES: The cast has four Oscars between them as does director Nichols, who has been making great movies for over 40 years (“The Graduate,” “Silkwood,” “The Birdcage”). My same hopes here as for “The Bucket List.”

THE GREAT DEBATERS
Starring: Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker
Directed by: Denzel Washington

The true story of poet and professor Mel Tolson who, in the 1930s, formed a debate team at a black college that took on Harvard for the national championship. OSCAR CHANCES: Hello, it’s Denzel. And Whitaker won last year.

DECEMBER 26          
THERE WILL BE BLOOD
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Ciaran Hinds and Paul Dano
Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson

From the creator of “Boogie Nights” and “Punch Drunk Love” comes a story about family, greed, oil and religion during the turn of the century. OSCAR CHANCES: Many. Daniel Day-Lewis does one movie every few years and he hasn’t done a bad one since 1988s “Stars and Bars.” Anderson’s adaptation of an Upton Sinclair short story should get a writing nomination at the least.

DECEMBER 28          
CASSANDRA’S DREAM
Starring: Colin Farrell, Ewan McGregor and Tom Wilkinson
Directed by: Woody Allen

Apparently the Woodman has traded in his beloved New York City for London as his third film set here deals with two brothers who take up a life of crime and become enemies. OSCAR CHANCES: Never bet against Woody Allen and his 21 previous nominations (and three wins).


This week's topic, "Holiday Movie Preview", is ©2007 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2007, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.