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FROM 'BURN AFTER READING' TO 'REVOLUTIONARY ROAD,' THE MOVIE SCENE IS GETTING HOT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So far, this has been a so-so movie season, overloaded with juvenile male-fantasy gross-outs and bloody no-brainers inspired by comic books you'd never dream of reading. Perhaps you'd do better by staying home and pigging-out on thirties screwball comedies and episodes of 'Madmen,' '30 Rock' and 'Wire.' On the other hand, the movies described below provide tantalizing evidence that, cinematically speaking, the best is indeed yet to come. So, maybe I'll see you at the multiplex after all. --Guy Flatley


ALL GOOD THINGS: Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst, Frank Langella, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kristin Wiig, Trini Alvarado, Philip Baker Hall, Diane Venora, Lily Rabe, John Cullum, Nick Offerman (Directed by Andrew Jarecki; Written by Andrew Jarecki, Marc Smerling and Marcus Hinchey; The Weinstein Co.)

Real estate is nearly always a profitable game to play in Manhattan, but sometimes it can be murder. Literally, as it turns out in this thriller about a wealthy family that works, plays--and perhaps slays--together. The family member most likely to end up in the slammer or in the morgue is playboy Ryan Gosling, at left, whose girlfriend (Kirsten Dunst) has vanished under sticky circumstances). The movie marks the fictional-feature debut of Andrew Jarecki, who directed “Capturing the Friedmans,” a documentary about a horrifically dysfunctional clan. Opening date to be announced


AMELIA: Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor, Virginia Madsen, Christopher Eccleston, Cherry Jones, Joe Anderson, Aaron Abrams, Mia Wasikowska (Directed by Mira Nair; Written by Ronald Bass; Fox Searchlight)

Did you know that Amelia Earhart, who was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic and eventually went missing over the Pacific in 1937, had a torrid affair with Gene Vidal, the father of writer Gore Vidal? And that was while the ace aviatrix was said to be blissfully married to publisher George Putnam! But as director Mira Nair (“Monsoon Wedding”) will undoubtedly make clear to us, this pioneer feminist was never one to let stuffy rules get in her way. In a bit of inspired casting, Hilary Swank is Amelia. In support are Richard Gere and Ewan McGregor as her husband and her lover, respectively, and Virginia Madsen plays her husband’s first wife. Now Playing

AUSTRALIA: Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, David Wenham, Bryan Brown, Jack Thompson, Barry Otto (Directed by Baz Luhrmann; Written by Ronald Harwood; Fox)

Hugh Jackman, who made a hasty entrance when Russell Crowe made an even hastier exit over a salary squabble, plays an enigmatic Australian who comes to the aid of a British damsel in distress (Kidman). In danger of losing her recently inherited ranch to villainous robber barons, the determined Brit allows the take-charge Aussie to escort her and her 2,000 head of cattle to the presumed safety of Darwin, an Australian site the scurrying couple could scarcely know would soon become the target of the very Japanese forces that had just bombed Pearl Harbor. Now Playing


BODY OF LIES: Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe (Directed by Ridley Scott; Written by William Monahan; Warner Bros.)

Based on David Ignatius’ novel, this thriller is categorized as fiction, but it sounds scarily true. A brilliant, risk-taking journalist (Leonardo DiCaprio) covers the war in Iraq all too thoroughly and, as a result, is seriously wounded. Back in the states, his period of recuperation is interrupted by a forceful CIA operative (Russell Crowe) who persuades him to travel to Jordan in the hope of nailing a major Al Qaeda leader. The screenplay is by William Monahan, who provided DiCaprio with a whopper of a role in “The Departed.” Now Playing


BRIDESHEAD REVISITED: Matthew Goode, Ben Whishaw, Hayley Atwell, Emma Thompson, Michael Gambon (Directed by Julian Jarrold; Written by Jeremy Brock and Andrew Davies; Miramax Films)

This is as good a time as any to revisit Captain Charles Ryder, the stylishly disenchanted protagonist of Evelyn Waugh’s 1946 classic seriocomic novel. Toward the end of World War II, Ryder (played by Jeremy Irons in a memorable 1981 British TV miniseries and now played by Matthew Goode) is stationed at Brideshead, a sprawling castle that was once home to the Flytes, an aristocratic Catholic--and exceedingly sinful--family. Ryder’s wartime assignment stirs memories of a long-ago time spent with the mad, mad residents of the castle, including Lord and Lady Marchmain (Michael Gambon and Emma Thompson) and particularly siblings Sebastian and Julia (Ben Whishaw and Hayley Atwell), one an eccentric who became Ryder’s good drinking buddy and the other a beautiful, married neurotic who became his lover. Ryder, by the way, never felt a shred of guilt about cheating on his own wife, since he was fully aware that she drifted through her own little world of sexual deceit. Now Playing


BROTHERS: Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman (Directed by Jim Sheridan; Written by David Benioff; Relativity Media)

There was a time when some moviegoers had difficulty telling the difference between Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal. Finally, we got the picture: Tobey was a climber of skyscrapers; Jake was a herder of sheep. More than ever, it will be important to tell the stars of “Spider-Man” and “Brokeback Mountain” apart in “Brothers,” a drama in which a dutiful young man goes off to combat in Afghanistan, leaving his wife and child in the care of a younger brother not known for his dependability. The four-square sibling is played by Maguire, and Gyllenhaal plays the rebel without a conspicuous cause. The role of the woman responsible for expanding their fraternal relationship into a love triangle has gone to Natalie Portman. “Brothers” is a remake, so if you’re eager for more details, check out Susanne Bier’s 2004 Danish-language film starring Ulrich Thomsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Connie Nielsen.
Opens 12/4/09


BURN AFTER READING: Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton (Written and directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen; Focus Features)

How do you top a fiendishly scary heart-stopper like "No Country for Old Men"? That was the challenge facing Joel and Ethan Coen, who may or may not have found a sensible solution to their problem in this screwball comedy-thriller about a bunch of Washington weirdoes. Acting very, very strange are John Malkovich as a zealous CIA agent who gets the boot for being too efficient and then drives his wife crazy by devoting all of his waking hours to penning an intimate, spooky tell-all book; Tilda Swinton as his enraged spouse who seeks solace in the arms of a married--but not too married--federal marshal played by George Clooney; Frances McDormand as an out-of-shape fitness center employee who schemes against her bosses when they refuse to finance the abundant plastic surgery she feels she deserves; and Brad Pitt as an exceptionally excitable gymnast and bed-hopper champ who comes to the needy lady's aid. Sort of. Now Playing


CHOKE: Sam Rockwell, Anjelica Huston, Kelly Macdonald, Brad William Henke, Clark Gregg, Joel Grey, Bijou Phillips, Willi Burke (Written and directed by Clark Gregg; Fox Searchlight)

A boy’s best friend is not always his mother, and that’s very much the case in this adaptation of "Choke," the novel by Chuck Palahniuk, cult author of "Fight Club." Yet, even though sicko lawbreaker Ida Mancini (Anjelica Huston) has always been cruel in her treatment of her son Victor (Sam Rockwell), the loyal lad foots the bill for her stay in a bizarre institution for women suffering from dementia. But how does he come up with the money, considering the fact that he is paid a mere pittance for his labors in a Colonial American theme park? Easy--he dines in elegant restaurants, pretends to be choking to death on his gourmet meal and then fleeces the sap who steps in to perform the Heimlich Maneuver. And, in his spare time, the orgasm-obsessed Victor attends 12-step meetings for sex addicts with Denny (Brad William Henke), his masturbation-crazed best friend. Meanwhile, mom's nurse (Kelly Macdonald) is hatching a scheme whereby an unsuspecting Victor will sire her child. Now Playing


THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Elle Fanning, Elias Koteas, Jason Flemyng, Julia Ormond (Directed by David Fincher; Written by Eric Roth; Paramount/Warner Bros.)

Brad Pitt will soon turn 50. But don’t feel depressed; just a bit later, the golden boy will be 49, and on the next birthday, he’ll be 48. You get the idea: in the Eric Roth screenplay, based on a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the hero ages backward, and when he arrives at the ripe young age of 30, he meets the love of his life, a pip played by Cate Blanchett, who last played opposite Pitt in “Babel.” David Fincher, who had Brad zooming on all cylinders in “Fight Club,” will be at the helm. Now Playing

THE DARK KNIGHT: Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Heath Ledger, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Cillian Murphy, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart, Anthony Michael Hall, Michael Caine, William Fichtner, Eric Roberts (Written and directed by Christopher Nolan; Warner Bros.

Batman (Christian Bale) and good-guy lawman James Gordon (Gary Oldman) have got trouble, BIG trouble, right here in Gotham city. And the biggest part of the big trouble is The Joker, a lethal lunatic brought memorably to life by Jack Nicholson in the 1989 Batman extravaganza. This time, the sicko is played by Heath Ledger, the charismatic actor who recently died of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. If you flipped for “Batman Begins” (2005), chances are that “The Dark Knight” will please you, since it too has been helmed by that film's director, Christopher Nolan, and many cast members are doing encores. Katie Holmes, however, does not return as delectable Rachel Dawes. That role, we’re pleased to say, has been inherited by Maggie Gyllenhaal. Now Playing Click here for a Critics Roundup on "The Dark Knight."


DOUBT: Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Viola Davis, Lloyd Clay Brown, Joseph Foster (Written and directed by John Patrick Shanley; Miramax Films)

We’ve come a long way since Father Bing Crosby and Sister Ingrid Bergman radiated respect and sexless affection for one another in “The Bells of St. Mary’s.” In “Doubt,” Meryl Streep plays Sister Aloysius, a probing, dictatorial nun who strikes a shattering blow to affable Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman), her popular colleague at a parochial grade school in the Bronx, circa 1964. If you’ve seen John Patrick Shanley’s 2004 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, you know that the oppressively vigilant Sister Aloysius, troubled by what she considers Father Flynn’s dangerously close relationship with a black male student, accuses him of sexual molestation. Before long, life becomes holy hell for Father and Sister alike. Now Playing


DUPLICITY: Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Tom Wilkinson, Tom McCarthy, Oleg Stefan, Rick Worthy, Denise O’Hare, Kathleen Chalfant, Khan Baykal, Wayne Duvall (Written and directed by Tony Gilroy; Universal)

Julia Roberts and Clive Owen, who sizzled memorably as an oversexed couple in Mike Nichols’ “Closer,” will turn up the heat again, this time in Tony Gilroy’s “Duplicity.” Gilroy, the classy screenwriter who made a smashing directorial debut with “Michael Clayton,” gives Roberts and Owen a chance to spar in the boardroom and snuggle in the bedroom as a pair of corporate competitors who are having a hot top-secret affair. Just wait till Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson, the industrialists who’ve been paying them big bucks to make war, find out they’re making love instead. Now Playing


FROST/NIXON: Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Sam Rockwell, Kevin Bacon, Matthew Macfadyen, Oliver Platt, Patty McCormack, Toby Jones, Jenn Gotzon, Rebecca Hall (Directed by Ron Howard; Written by Peter Morgan; Universal)

Richard Nixon may be the second worst president the American public ever had to endure. In 1977--three years after bidding a mortifying adieu to the White House, thereby avoiding impeachment because of the Watergate scandal--he agreed to appear in a series of televised conversations with British media giant David Frost. Nixon learned too late that he should have played harder to get; as it turned out, Frost stripped him bare, exposing his soul for anyone who owned a television set to see. Fortunately, Peter Morgan, author of the screenplay for “The Queen,” decided to explore the confrontation between these two strong-willed men in a probingly theatrical style. The resulting play was a triumph in London and on Broadway. Best of all, director Ron Howard had the smarts to nail Frank Langella and Michael Sheen, the duo who brought Nixon and Frost to riveting life on stage (Langella won a Best Actor Tony for his take on Tricky Dicky). An unexpected bonus: Patty McCormack, the kid who received an Oscar nomination for her playing of the title role in the 1956 film "The Bad Seed," plays the long-suffering Pat Nixon. Now Playing


GREEN ZONE: Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Amy Ryan, Brandan Gleeson, Jason Isaacs, Antoni Corone (Directed by Paul Greengrass; Written by Paul Helgeland; Universal)

The army officer played by Matt Damon is assigned to work with a CIA official on a mission to track down Saddam Hussein’s vanished weapons of mass destruction. One of the problems is that the duo spend most of their time in the Green Zone, the turf that is as safe as it gets in Iraq but also so sheltered that it is difficult to get a view of what’s truly going on in the rest of the country. The thriller, based on Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s “Imperial Life in the Emerald City,” also stars Amy Ryan (“Gone Baby Gone”) as a New York Times reporter investigating the mystery of the missing weapons. Opens 3/12/10


LOVE RANCH: Helen Mirren, Joe Pesci, Gina Gershon, Rio Hackford (Directed by Taylor Hackford; Written by Mark Jacobson; Capitol Films)

Not so long ago we were calling Helen Mirren queen; soon we’ll be calling her madam. That’s because the Oscar winner is playing an earthy, enterprising woman based on the character of Sally Conforte, who--along with hubby Joe--made her wildest dream come true by opening the Mustang Ranch, Nevada’s first legal brothel. Life became one big love-in for Sally and Joe--until that memorable moment in 1976 when Oscar Bonavena, an Argentinian prizefighter rumored to have gotten raunchy with the Mustang boss-lady, was shot dead by a ranch bodyguard. Director Taylor Hackford, Mirren’s real-life husband, will be supervising his wife’s “Love Ranch” antics. And her real-life stepson, actor Rio Hackford, will also be on hand in a supporting role. Opening date to be announced


THE LOVELY BONES: Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli, Saoirse Ronan (Directed by Peter Jackson; Written by Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh; DreamWorks)

In a welcome change of pace, Peter Jackson is taking a vacation from the tricky, sometimes tedious special-effects world of the “Rings” trilogy and “King Kong.” His new film will be an audacious attempt to mix reality and fantasy. As readers of Alice Sebold's imaginative, disturbing 2002 novel know, the heroine of “The Lovely Bones” (played here by Saoirse Ronan, the little scene-stealer from “Atonement”) is raped, murdered and dismembered by a neighbor at the age of 14. But that is not the end of the story; in her afterlife, the girl focuses intently on the torment of her grieving family, including her parents, played by Mark Wahlberg (who replaced Ryan Gosling the day before shooting began) and Rachel Weisz, and her grandmother, played by Susan Sarandon. And, on occasion, the murdered girl pays very close attention to the fiendish scheming of her unrepentant killer (Stanley Tucci). Jackson, whose finest achievement is “Heavenly Creatures”--the haunting 1994 film in which two emotionally entwined adolescents (Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey) commit an especially horrific murder--seems the perfect person to bring “The Lovely Bones” to flesh-and-blood life. Opens 12/11/09

MILK: Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, James Franco, Diego Luna, Lucas Grabeel, Howard Rosenman, Stephen Spinella, Victor Garber (Directed by Gus Van Sant; Written by Dustin Lance Black; Focus Features)


On November 27, 1978, Harvey Milk, a militant gay activist and enormously charismatic San Francisco supervisor, was shot dead, along with his boss, Mayor George Moscone, by Dan White, a vengeful ex-supervisor. The light sentence given to the assassin led to San Francisco’s historic White Night Riots. Under the direction of openly gay Gus Van Sant, Sean Penn (above, at center) plays Harvey Milk and Josh Brolin is Dan White. Now Playing

NINE: Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren, Judi Dench (Directed by Rob Marshall; Written by Michael Tolkin; Weinstein Company)

Who could forget “8-1/2,” the stunning 1963 film in which Marcello Mastroianni, under the direction of Federico Fellini, played a Felliniesque director who made more women than movies? Certainly, composer Maury Yeston and dramatist Arthur Kopit could not erase this classic from their memories. That’s why, in 1982, they came up with a Broadway musicalization of it starring Raul Julia as the womanizing auteur on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The show, called “Nine,” was successfully revived in 2003, showcasing the song-and-dance skills of Antonio Banderas. And now, here comes the movie version of the hit musical, directed by Rob Marshall, who gave us “Chicago,” and starring Daniel Day Lewis, one of the few actors now working who could be ranked alongside Marcello Mastroianni. Penelope Cruz plays his mistress, Marion Cotillard, who triumphed as Edith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose,” is his shortchanged wife, Nicole Kidman is an actress who greatly inspires him, and Sophia Loren will presumably haunt us as the ghost of his Mama.
Opens 12/18/09


PEACOCK: Cillian Murphy, Ellen Page, Susan Sarandon, Josh Lucas, Bill Pullman, Keith Carradine, Jaimi Paige, Virginia Newcomb, Paul Cram (Directed by Michael Lander; Written by Michael Lander and Ryan Roy; Mandate Pictures)

Nothing much ever happened in the tiny town of Peacock, Nebraska--unless you count the day a train ran into the back yard of a humble bank clerk mamed John Skillpa (Cillian Murphy). That was the same day folks became aware that John had a housemate, a woman they took to be his wife. Peacockians being Peacockians, no one made much of the fact that John and his spouse never appeared in the same place at the same time. Finally, somebody took notice--a perky single mom (played by "Juno's" Ellen Page) began to suspect that something strange, maybe even sick, was going on in John's house. How could this well-intentioned snoop possibly bring John's story to a happy ending? Should she urge John to put his wife up for adoption? Or, discovering that the guy had been getting off on slipping into something silky and masquerading as his own wife, should she try to convince him that she herself would make the best of all possible Mrs. Skillpas? Or should she simply get the hell out of Peacock? Opening date to be announced


REVOLUTIONARY ROAD: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates, Zoe Kazan, Michael Shannon, Ty Simpkins (Directed by Sam Mendes; Written by Justin Haythe; DreamWorks)

The last time this young and beautiful couple set sail together, they were so blinded by love that they failed to notice they were headed straight for an iceberg. This time, the still beautiful but not-so-young “Titanic” couple knows enough not to go near the water. Which doesn’t necessarily mean they are on course for a happy ending. In Justin Haythe’s adaptation of the 1961 novel by Richard Yates, DiCaprio and Winslet play Frank and April Wheeler, brilliant, sexually-charged newlyweds who believe their arsenal of sophistication, talent and magnetism will transport them to a charmed life among scintillating European intellectuals. Following a couple of unplanned pregnancies and career setbacks, however, they find themselves stranded in the stifling suburbs of 1950s Connecticut. Inevitably, Frank has a demoralizing affair with a colleague in his Manhattan office, and April beds down with the husband of a close friend. And don’t for a minute imagine that their kids are happy troopers. In her rave review of “Revolutionary Road,” The New York Times’ Michiko Kakutani said that Richard Yates’ “portrait of these thwarted, needlessly doomed lives is at once brutal and compassionate.” Another reason to look forward to this re-teaming of Leo and Kate: It’s being directed by Kate’s husband, Sam Mendes--the man responsible for the lacerating “American Beauty.” Now Playing


SHUTTER ISLAND: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Max Von Sydow, Emily Mortimer, Elias Koteas, Patricia Clarkson, John Carroll Lynch, Jackie Earle Haley (Directed by Martin Scorsese; Written by Laeta Kalogridis; Paramount)

Based on the frenzied 2003 novel by Dennis Lehane, author of “Mystic River” and “Gone Baby Gone,” “Shutter Island” spins a dark, dizzy tale. Set in 1954, it revolves around the efforts of U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio), a crazed war vet and recent widower, and his gullible partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) to capture a murderess who has escaped from Ashecliffe Hospital, a home away from home for the criminally insane. As it turns out, this funny farm, located on a rocky island off Boston Harbor, is no laughing matter. The warden himself boasts, “We take only the most damaged patients...we take the ones no other facility can manage.” And it’s clear that some of the doctors and nurses are even more damaged than the patients and may be on the verge of concocting a horrific scheme. All that the increasingly edgy Teddy and the seriously deranged occupants of Ashecliffe need are a raging hurricane, hordes of rampaging rodents, and the sudden return of the slippery, blood-thirsty femme fatale. Which is undoubtedly what director Martin Scorsese will give them in his bid to top the unblushing Grand Guignol of “Cape Fear” and “The Departed.” Opens 2/19/10

STATE OF PLAY: Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright Penn, Jason Bateman (Directed by Kevin Macdonald; Written by Matthew Michael Carnahan and Tony Gilroy; Universal)

Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, who had a jolly, violent time for themselves in “Fight Club,” were primed for a promising re-match in this adaptation of Paul Abbott’s hot six-hour British miniseries. Pitt, however, thought Tony Gilroy's extensive rewrite of Matthew Michael Carnahan's screenplay was the pits. So he took a walk. But who needs Brad Pitt when they have Russell Crowe ready to roll? Here's the story they rolled with: Investigating the death of politician Stephen Collins’ mistress, reporter Cal McCaffrey (Crowe) discovers evidence that could prove the slick pol (Ben Affleck, replacing Edward Norton) is guilty of murder. He also discovers the surprisingly potent allure of Collins’ dumped wife (Robin Wright Penn). Sounds like Kevin Macdonald, the director of “The Last King of Scotland,” once again has plenty of explosive stuff to work with in this drama now officially credited to Tony Gilroy and Matthew Michael Carnahan. Now Playing


THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123: Denzel Washington, John Travolta, James Gandolfini, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Alex Kaluzhsky (Directed by Tony Scott; Written by David Koepp; Columbia)

One of the most entertaining and terrifying thrillers of 1974 was Joseph Sargent’s “The Taking of Pelham 123,” which was adapted by Peter Stone from John Godey’s novel. Here’s how New York Times critic Nora Sayre described the story line in her rave review: “Four highly efficient hoods hijack an IRT subway car and hold eighteen people hostage for a million dollars; if the city doesn't pay within an hour, one hostage will be shot a minute. The Transit Authority, the Police Department, the Mayor and his colleagues all go into frenzied but coordinated action, while the film cuts most expertly between the stalled car and its passengers, the T.A. Command Center, Gracie Mansion, and the city streets.” With director Tony Scott and screenwriter David Koepp in charge, we will once again be rushed along on a harrowing trip through the jangly streets and dark tunnels of the Big Apple. Denzel Washington will try on the role of the cool transit cop played by Walter Matthau in the original, John Travolta inherits Robert Shaw’s role of a sadistic hijacker, and James Gandolfini--on leave from Jersey--is the panicky Mayor of New York. Now Playing


W.: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks, Ioan Gruffudd, Thandie Newton, Richard Dreyfuss, Scott Glenn, Jeffrey Wright, Ellen Burstyn, James Cromwell, Rob Corddry, Toby Jones, Michael Gaston (Directed by Oliver Stone; Written by Stanley Weiser; Lionsgate)

In case you’re having trouble sifting through the merits and flaws of the Junior Bush administration, Oliver Stone will lend you a hand with “W.,” which is scheduled to open just before the 2008 presidential election. This inevitably absurdist extravaganza stars Josh Brolin, at left, as George II--from hell-raising, booze-guzzling rogue to chatting-with-Jesus commander in chief. Richard Dreyfuss plays gun-toting, bunker-hugging VP Dick Cheney and Thandie Newton has been cast as the scholarly, vigorously inattentive Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Scott Glenn is the you-fight-with-the-army-you’ve-got Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld; Elizabeth Banks is stand-by-your-cowboy Laura; and the senior Bushes are played by James Cromwell and Ellen Burstyn. Can we count on Stone, the man who zeroed in on “JFK,” “Nixon” and “Natural Born Killers,” to capture these history-making characters, warts, wars, wiretaps and all? Now Playing