Thursday, October 25, 2007

Holiday Movie Preview 2007 (Part 1)

A healthy dose of family-friendly pics and Oscar-aspiring selections dot the cinematic landscape for November. Big stars such as Russell Crowe, Denzel Washington, Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep are featured, along with animated movies coming from at least one unlikely source (Jerry Seinfeld). So here’s a look at some of the highlights for the month.

“American Gangster”

Starring Russell Crowe, Denzel Washington, Chiwetel Ojiofor, Cuba Gooding Jr., Josh Brolin
Directed by Ridley Scott

A powerhouse acting duo headline a movie that has got Oscar aspirations written all over it. The two leads, director (Scott) and screenwriter (Steven Zaillian) have all won Academy Awards before. In this crime drama, Washington plays real-life 1970 drug lord Frank Lucas, while Crowe portrays the obsessed detective intent on catching him. (Nov. 2)
Official Web site

“Bee Movie”
Starring the voices of Jerry Seinfeld, Renée Zellweger, Matthew Broderick, Patrick Warburton, John Goodman and Chris Rock
Directed by Steve Hickner and Simon J. Smith

Joining in on the seemingly ever-growing CG animated animal craze, Seinfeld plays a bee despondent over the lack of career choices for him. He then decides to sue the human race in an attempt to obtain honey profits. With a standout vocal cast at his disposal and several veteran “Seinfeld” writers on board, this comedy should be one of the can’t-miss films of the season. (Nov. 2)
Official Web site

“Lions for Lambs”
Starring Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise, Michael Pena, Andrew Garfield and Derek Luke
Directed by Robert Redford

Wearing its political leanings on its sleeve, “Lions for Lambs” takes a topical look at the war against terror, featuring three storylines that eventually are tied together. Redford heads up one of the stories, while Streep and Cruise face off as a journalist and Republican senator, respectively, in another. The movie also marks the first release from the Cruise-run United Artists production studio. (Nov. 9)
Official Web site

“Fred Claus”
Starring Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, Miranda Richardson, Kevin Spacey, Kathy Bates
Directed by David Dobkin

Reuniting with Dobkin, his “Wedding Crashers” director, Vaughn will be aiming at a more family-oriented audience with this PG-rated flick, that features him as the ne’er-do-well brother of Santa Claus (Giamatti). He arrives at the North Pole to visit Old Saint Nick, only to shake things up, much to the dismay of his normally jolly brother. (Nov. 9)
Official Web site

“No Country for Old Men”
Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson
Directed by Ethan and Joel Coen

Adapting a novel by Cormac McCarthy, the Coen brothers also share a directing credit on this crime drama that debuted to rave reviews at the Cannes film festival earlier this year. Brolin plays a hunter who stumbles upon $2 million in drug money and decides to keep it. Hot on his trail is a remorseless killer (Bardem) intent on getting the money back, with Jones as a sheriff dealing with the crimes being left in the wake. The Coens certainly have a good track history of crime dramas (“Fargo,” “Blood Simple”). (Nov. 9, limited)
Official Web site

Starring Ray Winstone, Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, Robin Wright Penn
Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Making use of the motion-capture technology he used for “The Polar Express” in 2004, director Zemeckis has crafted an action-filled epic that is supposed to be a departure from the “Beowulf” you likely read in high school. Still, it’s PG-13 rating should still allow students a chance to get the basics of the story, just in case they can’t find time to read the book before the big exam. (Nov. 16)
Official Web site

“Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium”
Starring Dustin Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Jason Bateman, Zach Mills
Directed by Zach Helm

Making his directorial debut, Helm has certainly not started out small with this tale of a eccentric and really old (we’re talking 243 years old) toy-store owner (Hoffman) who selects his store manager (Portman) to take over as his successor. The cast is definitely an attraction for the film, which seems heavily influenced by “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” (Nov. 16)
Official Web site

Starring Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, Timothy Spall, Rachel Covey and Susan Sarandon
Directed by Kevin Lima

Disney’s ambitious holiday feature is actually a mix of animation and live-action (mostly live-action) with Adams playing a princess banished from her animated kingdom, landing in New York City, of all places. Dempsey plays a divorce lawyer who falls for the princess. However, she’s soon followed to the Big Apple by her lovestruck prince (Marsden) and an evil queen (Sarandon). Disney’s had a pretty good track record with fairy tale movies, but this one might be its riskiest yet. Still, failure seems highly unlikely. (Nov. 21)
Official Web site

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