“Avatar” (Dec. 18)
DIRECTED BY: James Cameron
STARRING: Sam Worthington, Zoë Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver.
There’s big buzz surrounding “Avatar,” the newest film from James Cameron, but it has little to do with the actual film. All the hoopla stems from the fact that the last movie Cameron both wrote and directed was “Titanic,” a film that became the highest grossing film of all time and introduced a nation of preteen boys to Kate Winslet’s rack.
“Avatar” deals with mankind’s struggle against the inhabitants of a distant planet using the modern storytelling tool that is unbridled CGI. The plot has potential, but it might get bogged down by the computer animation and visual theatrics.
“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” (Dec. 25)
DIRECTED BY: Terry Gilliam
STARRING: Christopher Plummer, Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp.
“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” looks about as wild as its name suggests, sporting a bizarre visual style that could only have come from the acid-bleached brain of director and former Python , Terry Gilliam. The story centers on the titular Parnassus (Christopher Plummer), a man who made a pact with the devil (Tom Waits) for immortality. A thousand years later, the devil comes to collect on the deal, deciding to take Parnassus’ daughter, Valentina, as his fee.
Gilliam lends enough weight to the film, but the cast supplements the appeal. Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell and the late Heath Ledger all play the part of Tony — a stranger to The Imaginarium who attempts to save Valentina —with pleasurable results. Still, the best casting award goes to whoever roped Tom Waits into playing Old Scratch.
“Nine” (Dec. 25)
DIRECTED BY: Rob Marshall
STARRING: Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Judi Dench.
“Nine” is a film adaptation of the play of the same name, which was inspired by Fellini’ s masterpiece “8 1/2.” The movie follows a director in the middle of a midlife crisis who must deal with a creative block and the absurd number of women complicating his life.
Rob Marshall — whose last musical adaptation,
“Chicago,” netted an Oscar —directs “Nine,” but it will be Daniel Day-Lewis who fills the theater seats.
Sherlock Holmes (Dec. 25)
DIRECTED BY: Guy Ritchie
STARRING: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams.
Everybody’s favorite coked-out super-sleuth comes to theaters this winter courtesy of director Guy Ritchie, the man behind the crime dramas “Snatch” and “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.” Ritchie’s pedigree ensures two things: The movie will be hyper-stylistic, and it will also be saturated with explicit violence — a trait not necessarily present in the original Holmes tales.
Robert Downey Jr. plays Holmes, a perfect fit based on his weirdness and his past indiscretions with the white lady (coke). Jude Law dons a duster ’stache to become Watson, the Garth to Downey’s Wayne Campbell , and Rachel McAdams fills the role of Irene Adler, the one woman who ever bested the great detective.
Violence and a handful of action sequences are all well and good, but the characters and intricate plots are what made Doyle’s Holmes stories great. Here’s hoping that Ritchie doesn’t lose sight of that.
“Youth in Revolt” (Jan. 8)
DIRECTED BY: Miguel Arteta
STARRING: Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Zach Galifianakis.
In a shocking, surprise move, Michael Cera will not play an awkward teen that falls in love with a quirky yet still marginally attractive young lady. Just kidding.
In “Youth in Revolt,” Cera plays 16-year-old Nick Twisp, a boy who’s enamored by the uninterested Sheeni Saunders. It seems like pretty standard Cera fare until his character decides to create a badass alter ego by the name of Francois Dillinger. Like Tyler Durden before him, Francois is everything that Nick Twisp is not. This allows Nick to get the girl, but at a price: He becomes a wanted criminal.
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