The month begins with a strange one, in the form of Punisher: War Zone, returning a death-head wearing “hero” for a third time, even after the first two movies barely grazed success. With Defiance, the director of Glory sends Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, and Jamie Bell into battle against the Nazis as the Bielski Brothers of Belarus in 1942. Oscar worthy? The verdict is out, but it’s bound to move us and even inspire. Doubt looks to be less enjoyable, as the Tony-winning play about principal Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep) and her accusation of abuse against a priest (Philip Seymour Hoffman) rings in the Christmas season (ironically).
Seven Pounds hopes to be more like The Pursuit of Happyness than Hancock, as Will Smith plays an IRS agent who impersonates his own brother to a terminally ill Rosario Dawson. [Ed.’s note: And by that, we hope that Seven Pounds will provide more than rehashing the trailer’s bright spots.] Speaking of Smith movies, The Day The Earth Stood Still hopes to do what I Am Legend did, and steal some shine during the Christmas season with help from Will’s son. Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, John Cleese, Kathy Bates, and Jaden Smith headline a remake of the 1951 story of the robot Klaatu. The first time, the robot came to earth to mark it for demolition, but here he comes to warn of eco-pollution’s evil effects, WALL-E-style.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button looks like an Oscar attempt. An 80-year-old (Brad Pitt) ages in reverse in this F. Scott Fitzgerald short story-turned-movie about a man who loves a woman (Cate Blanchett) as she grows in the opposite age direction. Pitt’s Fight Club and Se7en director David Fincher directs Pitt over-and-over again (at many “ages”), offering up the quandary of winning both leading and supporting actor awards. Just kidding.
Marley & Me hopes to bring back the Owen Wilson we know and love after his scary episode last year. He and Jennifer Aniston play the owners of Marley, a loveable if not well-behaved yellow Labrador. Wilson is the journalist with a wife, kids, and a pretty straightforward life (a change for his roles) with a dog that turns them all upside down. This entertaining and heart-wrenching story is sure to win over the Christmas season crowd.My last two highlights seem to be releasing at weird times. The first, The Spirit, seems like a summer superhero movie that’s afraid of the real competition. Gabriel Macht plays the resurrected hero Denny Colt/The Spirit in the Frank Miller take on Will Eisner’s comic strips from the 1940s and 50s. The Spirit pursues The Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson) and a bevy of beautiful women through this stylized thriller. The second seems like an Oscar contender, but the
Parting shots: Yes Man looks to resurrect the pre-23 part of Jim Carrey’s career, this time as a man who learns how to say “yes” after a trip to a motivational speaker, presumably winning the same response from Zooey Deschanel. In Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood directs and stars as a hardened Korean War vet who comes to turns with his own racism. The Tale of Despereaux shines light on a tail with heart, the mouse himself voiced by Matthew Broderick.
November seems to be the early leader for entertainment and substance, with Bond traveling through Australia on the Road. But stranger things have happened. Who thought people would go to see Stepbrothers? Or that Heath Ledger could win an Oscar as the Joker even without the overdose? The truth is out there… even if no one wants to see it (sorry, I still haven’t seen X-Files).
In the meantime, mark your calendars for some of these big screen thrillers and smaller takes on relationships and meaning. If you sneak out to the theater after Thanksgiving lunch, your options are endless.