What Just Happened? trots out the trio of Robert De Niro, Sean Penn, and Bruce Willis to make a Hollywood satire about making a movie… that sounds a lot like Tropic Thunder. Hopefully, Body of Lies, directed by Ridley Scott, will work the team of Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe again, massaging the relationship of undercover agent and handler as Al Qaeda terrorists are hunted (reviving the premise of Traitor starring Don Cheadle).
City of Ember looks promising, thanks to the foundation in Jeanne Duprau’s 2003 young-adult novel about two teens who go on a journey to save their city. Celebrated actors like Bill Murray fill in adult roles, so it can’t be all teeny-bopper. Hopefully the CGI won’t dominate the acting. And speaking of CGI, Mark Wahlberg stars as DEA agent Max Payne who pursues evil in all its forms (human and inhuman) after his family is murdered. I don’t know if the man can act, but his movies sure are entertaining.
One that has me scratching my head is the collaboration of Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, and Sophie Okonedo in the adaptation of the 2002 best-seller set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees. Seriously? Sing along with me, which one of these is not like the others? That seems too gimmicky for me.
Oliver Stone does his usual take on historicity in W, directing Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Banks in a cheaply made version of a George W. Bush biography. If that’s too heavy-handed for you, check out High School Musical 3: Senior Year. Simply made because of the success of the record-breaking second television version, the latest edition ends up on the big screen to the joy of adolescents everywhere. Will we really go to see anything? I’ve seen some stinkers, but HSM3?
And finally, Changeling, starring Angelina Jolie and John Malkovich in a script by Babylon 5 and The Amazing Spiderman scribe J. Michael Straczynski, shares the direction of Clint Eastwood. Based on a true story from 1920s-era Los Angeles, a mother (Jolie) receives the wrong child from the police when her child is lost and sets out to find the truth. What might have been a month full of hit-or-misses seems to have found one to hold onto…
Parting shots: Flash of Genius turns Greg Kinnear into the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper. The Brothers Bloom (Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo) chase Rachel Weisz in the period piece about a grand con job. In Synecdoche, New York, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener are directed by Charlie Kaufman in this tale about a down-and-out theatre director who tries to recreate New York City as a work of art to win back his wife’s heart. Zack and Miri Make A Porno stars Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks in this Kevin Smith-directed story of two broke friends who… decide to make a porno. Saw V. An American Carol. Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Really?