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YOU'VE READ THE BOOK--NOW HOW ABOUT SEEING THE FILM?


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shocking but true, there are still hold-outs in this jangly, fast-fix society of ours who revel in the experience of a quiet, leisurely read. But that doesn’t mean these printed-page junkies won’t occasionally rush out to see the movie version of a provocative tome, such as David Ebershoff's "The Danish Girl," when it unreels at the local multiplex. Perhaps this "Danish" sweet--described in the alphabetical listing below, along with other new and recent adaptations of literary works--will tempt even you to stand on line. --Guy Flatley (The text below was also written by Guy Flatley.)

 

ADAM RESURRECTED: Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe, Derek Jacobi, Aylet Zurer (Directed by Paul Schrader; Written by Noah Stollman)

Unless you have access to Jerry Lewis’s private film collection, you probably have never seen “The Day the Clown Cried,” the 1972 holocaust drama in which the slapstick comic-director got tragic, playing a German entertainer who, while drunk, does a wicked impersonation of Hitler. His life is spared by the Nazis, however, and he is sent to a concentation camp where his job is to bring a little joy into the lives of Jewish children on their journey to the gas chamber. Small wonder the film never found a distributor and that Lewis opted to keep it out of sight.

The wonder now is that what sounds like a strikingly similar story has been filmed and is on its way to your neighborhood art house. Based on a novel by Yoram Kaniuk, Noah Stollman’s screenplay focuses on a charismatic Nazi-era entertainer who performs for doomed concentration camp dwellers in the final hours of their lives. So what does he do after the war? He gets a gig as the boss of an asylum for Holocaust survivors. Jeff Goldblum plays the multi-talented showman and Willem Dafoe is his Hitlerian tormentor. Click here for Guy Flatley's 2001 interview with Dafoe. Now Playing

THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD: Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Shepard, Mary Louise Parker, Sam Rockwell, Zooey Deschanel, Michael Parks, Barbara Kozicki, Garret Dillahunt (Directed by Andrew Dominik; Written by Ron Hansen; Warner Bros.)

Jesse James, a good old Missouri boy, had little tolerance for the feds and railroad tycoons who relieved farm folk of their homes in the late 19th century. That’s presumably why he formed a gang and got into the profitable but risky business of robbing banks and terrorizing train riders. In the end, Jesse was undone by Robert Ford, a young gang member who went from revering his outlaw boss to deeply resenting him. Or so the story by novelist/screenwriter RON HANSEN--which is the basis for this film--goes.

Brad Pitt, who’s at his best when playing on the wrong side of the law, is Jesse, and Casey Affleck is Robert Ford. As for Sam Shepard, he plays Jesse’s brother Frank, a role which gave Henry Fonda the opportunity to steal the 1939 “Jesse James” from Tyrone Power. To read about many more new biopics, click here. Now Playing

ATLAS SHRUGGED:Angelina Jolie (Directed by Vadim Perelman; Written by Randall Wallace; Lionsgate)

When “Atlas Shrugged,” AYN RAND'S follow-up to her cult novel “The Fountainhead,” was published in 1957, most critics did not shrug. But they did snarl and go on to brand the book as arrogant, elitist, and downright fascistic. But that didn’t stop idolatrous readers from turning “Atlas Shrugged” into an enduring, top-selling tome.

Nor did it stop the unceasingly audacious Angelina Jolie from tackling the role of Dagny Taggart, the made-of-steel, ego-driven industrialist who is the heroine of Rand’s doggedly humorless tale. Smarty-pants Dagny never for a second doubts that her superior intellectual and physical attributes entitle her to universal acclaim and unlimited privilege. And she does not hesitate to use two of her discarded lovers to promote the cause of her one true love, the profoundly pompous visionary John Galt.

As critic Joe Queenan pointed out in a 2007 New York Times essay, “Despite being one of the worst books ever written, ‘Atlas Shrugged’ is no fun at all.” Opening date to be announced

ATONEMENT: Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Vanessa Redgrave, Romolo Garai, Saoirse Ronan, Brenda Blethyn, Juno Temple (Directed by Joe Wright; Written by Christopher Hampton; Focus Features)

In the wake of her frantic yet flimsy contributions to the achingly trivial “Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy, Keira Knightley apparently decided it was time to get serious. So she took on the challenge of playing the tormented Cecilia Tallis in “Atonement,” Christopher Hampton’s adaptation of the IAN McEWAN novel.

This heavy-duty drama has been directed by Joe Wright, who, in 2005’s “Pride & Prejudice,” helped Knightley reveal the wit and vulnerability beneath her glossy, high-fashion façade. Her spirited portrait of Emma Bennet earned an Oscar nomination, and the fact that “Atonement” was selected to open the 2007 Venice Film Festival suggests she may well be among the Best Actress nominees when the next batch of Oscars are handed out on the night of February 24, 2008.

Keira--or, rather, Cecilia Tallis, the heroine of McEwan’s 2002 Booker Prize winner--is a privileged member of a prominent 1930s British family who is home from Cambridge in the summer of 1935 with handsome classmate Robbie Turner (James McAvoy), the son of the Tallis’ cleaning woman who has risen to the enviable position of Cecilia’s lover. Witnessing an intimate exchange between the two, Cecilia’s dangerously imaginative 13-year-old sister Briony contrives a story so shocking that it results in the imprisonment of Robbie. Life soon becomes a nightmare for the Tallis clan and for those unfortunate enough to have been part of their not-so-charmed circle. Their anguish endures through many stages and does not end until the dawning of the 21st century.

So who plays the deceitful Briony? Saoirse Ronan, at the time of the big lie; Romola Garai, at the age of 18; and , blessing of blessings, Vanessa Redgrave as the older, presumably wiser, Briony. Now Playing

AWAY FROM HER: Julie Christie, Gordon Pinsent, Olympia Dukakis, Michael Murphy, Kristen Thomson, Wendy Crewson, Alberta Watson (Written and directed by Sarah Polley; Lionsgate)

At first glance, Fiona and Grant Anderson, husband and wife for 44 years, appear to be leading a blissful life, cross-country skiing during the day and cozying up at night in their lovely country cottage. But they both know that Fiona, disoriented by the onset of Alzheimer’s, may soon lose her husband, her memory, and her very own identity. Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent have drawn raves on the festival circuit for their performances as the elderly Canadian couple, as has Sarah Polley, the gifted star of Atom Egoyan’s “The Sweet Hereafter,” who makes her screenwriting and directorial debut--at the ripe old age of 28--with his adaptation of ALICE MUNRO'S short story “The Bear Who Came Over the Mountain.” To read Guy Flatley's review of "Away From Her," click here. 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 hit the road in the hope of nailing a major terrorist leader. The screenplay is by William Monahan, who provided DiCaprio with a whopper of a role in “The Departed.” To read about more current, recent and upcoming war movies, click here. Now Playing

THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM: Matt Damon, Paddy Considine, Joan Allen, Chris Cooper, Brian Cox, David Strathairn, Julia Stiles, Edgar Ramirez (Directed by Paul Greengrass; Written by Tony Gilroy; Universal)

Jason Bourne, the endlessly intriguing memory-impaired marksman created by novelist ROBERT LUDLUM, is still trying to fill in the blanks from his past. And, fortunately, he is being played by Matt Damon, the subtle, dynamic actor who played him to perfection in “The Bourne Identity” (2002) and “The Bourne Supremacy” (2004). On his latest quest for self-knowledge, he participates in a nasty shootout in Russia and is then pursued by a lethally serious U.S. government agent. Sometimes, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Now Playing

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

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 guilty about cheating on his own wife, since he knew that she was caught up in her own little world of sexual deceit. Now Playing

CHERI: Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Friend, Kathy Bates, Felicity Jones, Frances Tomelty, Anita Pallenberg, Harriet Walter, Iben Hjejle (Directd by Stephen Frears; Written by Christopher Hampton; Miramax)

Cheri (Rupert Friend), a young, handsome, and deeply romantic Parisian, is tutored in the ways of love by Lea (Michelle Pfeiffer), an aging, equally romantic courtesan. What she is actually teaching this son of an old friend, who is now a wealthy prostitute, is how to be not just a gigolo, but a perfect gigolo. Naturally, the affair turns tres torrid.

COLETTE'S classic short novel has been adapted by Christopher Hampton, who collaborated brilliantly with director Frears and star Pfeiffer in 1988’s “Dangerous Liaisons.” 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 CLASS: Francois Begaudeau, Nassim Amrabt, Laura Baquela, Cherif Bounaidja Rachedi, Juliette Demaille, Dalla Doucoure, Arthur Fogel, Damien Gomes, Louise Grinberg, Qifei Huang, Wei Haung, Franck Keita, and various real-life junior high school students (Directed by Laurent Cantet; Written by Laurent Cantet, Francois Begaudeau and Robin Campillo)

In 2006, FRANCOIS BEGAUDEAU published “Entre les Murs,” a well-reviewed novel tracing, over the period of one year, the complicated relationship between an innovative teacher in a rough Parisian junior high school and his lively, frequently combative students.

Now Begaudeau, director Laurent Cantet (of “Human Resources” fame) and Robin Campillo have co-written a screenplay based on the novel, casting it with real-life, sharply improvisational high school students. Special bonus: author Begaudeau is at the head of “The Class,” playing the magnetic, sometimes meddlesome teacher. The film was awarded the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Festival, where Sean Penn, the jury president, called it an “amazing film...a virtually seamless film. All the performances, magic. All the writing, magic. It just touched us so deeply.” Click here to read Guy Flatley's review of "The Class." 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 short 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 memorably played opposite Pitt in “Babel.” David Fincher, who had Brad working on all cylinders in “Fight Club,” will be at the helm. Now Playing

THE DANISH GIRL: Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow (Directed by Thomas Alfredson; Written by Lucinda Coxon) Who was the first man in history to volunteer for the intricate, experimental surgery that would, with luck, turn him into a woman? He was a Danish artist by the name of Einar Wegener, and he embarked on his/her new life as the ultra feminine Lili Elbe immediately after being wheeled out of a Dresden operating room one earthshattering day in 1931.

In DAVID EBERSHOFF'S well reviewed, vigorously fictionalized version of the facts, published in 2000, Wegener-Elbe was still legally married to Greta Waud, a wealthy painter from Pasadena, California, at the time of the surgery. And, according to novelist Ebershoff, Greta did not easily give up on her man, even after he’d became a woman—something Einar might never have dreamed of doing had his wife not persuaded him to slip into a lovely silk frock and sexy stockings and pose for a portrait she was working on.

The instant physical and emotional transformation astonished both Einar and Greta, and one can only imagine the depth and delicacy Nicole Kidman and Gwyneth Paltrow will bring to the roles of husband and wife, respectively, as they explore a brave, if baffling, new world.

The question is: Will Nicole, in the early, pre-op scenes of the film, be half the man that Gwyneth was in “Shakespeare in Love”? Opening date to be announced

THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY: Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josee Croze, Anne Consigny, Patrick Chesnais, Niels Arestrup, Olatz Lopez Garmendia, Jean-Pierre Cassell, Marina Hands, Max Von Sydow (Directed by Julian Schnabel; Written by Ronald Harwood; Miramax)

It makes perfect sense that JEAN-DOMINIQUE BAUBY’S stunning book, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," should carry the subtitle of "A Memoir of Life in Death.” Bauby, a dynamic, articulate, happily married father of two, was the widely admired editor-in chief of France’s Elle Magazine in 1995 when, at the age of 44, he suffered a stroke that left him in a coma for 20 days. It was assumed that he would never again share thoughts and impressions with his loved ones and former colleagues. And when he did finally awake, the only part of his body that appeared to be functioning was his left eye.

Soon, however, with the blink of that eye, he was able to make it understood that his brain had not been impaired. Amazingly, a system was devised by his family and friends whereby he would blink when a particular letter of the alphabet was read aloud to him. From there, it was a matter of his forming words, structuring sentences and conveying the complex, passionate ideas and images that filled his mind and ultimately shape them into a unique manuscript. Bauby died in 1998, just two days after the publication of “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.”

It was thought that Johnny Depp, who worked with director Julian Schnabel in "Before Night Falls," would play Bauby, but that plan fell through. So Depp's loss is Mathieu Amalric's gain. To read the Variety review of "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," click here. Now Playing

EAT PRAY LOVE: Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem, Richard Jenkins, James Franco, Billy Crudup, Viola Davis (Written and directed by Ryan Murphy; Paramount)

Depressed, nearly suicidal, ELIZABETH GILBERT (author of the memoir upon which this film is based) decides to take a year off from her successful literary career in an attempt to get over her divorce from a seemingly ideal husband and her stressful love affair with a man who was definitely not ideal. Her plan is to flee Manhattan and spend one third of the year seeking pleasure in Italy, another third searching for spiritual serenity in India, and the final third striking a balance between the two extremes in Indonesia.

And, yes, Elizabeth, played by Julia Roberts, will not say no if a suitable bachelor pops up somewhere along the way and pops the right question. If director Ryan Murphy can get the kind of performance out of Roberts that he got out of Annette Bening in “Running With Scissors,” Julia could be adding another Oscar to her collection. Now Playing

ELEGY: Penelope Cruz, Ben Kingsley, Peter Sarsgaard, Patricia Clarkson, Dennis Hopper, Deborah Harry (Directed by Isabel Coixet; Written by Nicholas Meyer; Samuel Goldwyn)

It can be dangerous for a teacher to seek carnal knowledge of a student, a danger professor Ben Kingsley risks in this adaptation of PHILIP ROTH'S novel “The Dying Animal.” But you can hardly blame the poor prof when you consider that his prize--though outrageously demanding--student is played by the enticing Penelope Cruz. Oh, to be in school again!

For Robin Finn's New York Times interview with Patricia Clarkson, click here; to read Guy Flatley's 1970 Times interview with Dennis Hopper, cLick here. Now Playing

EVENING: Claire Danes, Toni Collette, Vanessa Redgrave, Patrick Wilson, Hugh Dancy, Natasha Richardson, Mamie Gummer, Eileen Atkins, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Barry Bostwick (Directed by Lajos Koltai; Written by Susan Minot and Michael Cunningham; Focus Features)

Ann Lord, played by Vanessa Redgrave, has been married three times, but the only man she ever truly loved was one she never married. Now on her deathbed, she feels the intense need to reveal the secret of her long-ago affair to two of her daughters, one of whom is played by Redgrave’s own daughter, Natasha Richardson. In the film’s frequent flashbacks, the love-crazed Ann Lord is played by Claire Danes, and the young Ann’s best friend, Lila Wittenborn, is played by Mamie Gummer, the real-life daughter of Meryl Streep. So who plays the mature Lila? Meryl Streep, of course.

As for Ann’s red-hot lover, he’s played by Patrick Wilson, who, come to think of it, was pretty hot as Kate Winslet’s lover in “Little Children.” Michael Cunningham, author of “The Hours,” and SUSAN MINOT collaborated on the adaptation of Minot’s lavishly praised 1998 novel. Now Playing

THE GOLDEN COMPASS: Daniel Craig, Nicole Kidman, Eva Green, Dakota Blue Richards, Simon McBurney, Eric Bana, Sam Elliott, Kevin Bacon, John Hurt, Tom Courtenay (Written and directed by Chris Weitz; New Line Cinema)

With visions of a “Lord of the Rings”-like triple play swirling in their brains, the people at New Line Cinema purchased PHILIP PULLMAN'S sci-fi, mythical, demon-crammed trilogy “His Dark Materials.” The brilliant Sam Mendes was said to be New Line’s choice to direct Tom Stoppard’s adaptation, but suddenly Mendes was out of the picture, and Chris Weitz, director of the loathsome “About a Boy,” was in.

Also out of the picture was Stoppard, whose screenplay was scrapped when Weitz decided that he himself could improve upon it. Dakota Blue Richards plays the central role of a child who sets out to find a friend who’s been abducted and taken to a parallel universe, Daniel Craig is her noble father, and Nicole Kidman is a malcontent who wishes the child nothing but harm on her fearful journey. Now Playing

GONE BABY GONE: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Amy Madigan, Robert Wahlberg, Mark Margolis, John Ashton, Amy Ryan (Miramax Films)

Why should a bright, able-bodied man in his thirties take orders from his big brother? It’s because he’s actor Casey Affleck and he’s being directed in his most important role to date by sibling Ben Affleck, making his directorial debut (unless you count “I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meat Hook, and Now I Have a Three-Picture Deal at Disney,” the short he shot in 1993).

In “Gone Baby Gone,” based on the book by “Mystic River’s” DENNIS LEHANE, the younger Affleck plays a Boston detective who, along with his partner (Michelle Monaghan), reluctantly takes on the horrific case of a four-year-old girl who vanished from her home in a Boston slum. Surprisingly, the private investigators are more hindered than helped in their search by the cops, the child’s dope-addicted mom, and other questionable characters. Now Playing

HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, David Thewlis, Richard Griffiths, Brendan Gleeson, Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman, Jason Isaacs, Imelda Staunton, Fiona Shaw (Directed by David Yates; Written by Michael Goldenberg; Warner Bros.)

The trouble with Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) in this installment of J. K. ROWLING’S unstoppable saga is that the teenage wizard has too much on his plate. Not only is he obliged to cram like crazy for the Ordinary Wizarding Levels exams, but he is tormented by a nasty new professor, besieged by merciless rumor-spreaders, knocked for a hormonal loop by a budding femme fatale, and menaced by members of a secret society. And, oh yes, tricky Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) is back on the scene, complicating matters as only he can. Now Playing

HOW ABOUT YOU?: Vanessa Redgrave, Hayley Atwell, Imelda Staunton, Brenda Fricker, Joss Ackland, Orla Brady, Joan O’Hara (Directed by Anthony Byrne; Written by Jean Pasley; Ferndale Films) Who does Vanessa Redgrave think she is, anyway--some kind of movie star? Well, that’s just who she is--or, rather, who she plays--in this comedy-drama. As for the kind of movie star she is, she’s the kind who was far from a superstar during her lackluster career in Irish films. And now she’s taken on the off-screen role of superbitch, the leader of a cantankerous quartet of seniors who’ve been left behind in a County Wicklow retirement home while their fellow residents are spending the Christmas holiday with their families. Redgrave and her cronies--Imelda Staunton and Brenda Fricker as erstwhile high-society sisters and Joss Ackland as former judge--are not about to budge an inch when the determined young manager of the residence (Hayley Atwell, acclaimed star of the Irish TV series, “The Line of Beauty”) makes a stab at turning them into good, cooperative scouts. May the best generation win. If “How About You” sounds familiar to you, you’ve probably had the pleasure of reading “Hardcore,” the MAEVE BINCHY short story upon which it is based. Now Playing

I AM LEGEND: Will Smith, Salli Richardson, Dash Mihok, Paradox Pollack, Alice Braga, Sterling Wolfe, Charlie Tahan (Directed by Francis Lawrence; Written by Mark Protosevich and Akiva Goldsman; Warner Bros)

A lethal virus has attacked our planet, and the only visible survivor is a mystified super-scientist who roams the streets of what may be the last city on earth, tapping out daily radio messages to what he hopes are fellow survivors. The city, of course, is New York, and the strangely immune scientist is Will Smith. Can Will find peace on earth (not to mention a few good, honest-to-god men and women, as opposed to the mutant, possibly blood-sucking, weirdos who keep popping up in his path and quickly retreating into the shadows)?

For clues, browse through the 1954 novel that is this film’s chief source--RICHARD MATHESON'S “I Am Legend,” in which an apocalypse is triggered by what appears to be the reckless behavior of a gang of vampires. Or you might check out these previous cinematic versions of the Matheson story: 1964’s “The Last Man on Earth,” an Italian flick starring Vincent Price, and 1971’s “The Omega Man,” in which Charlton Heston was the man who seemed to be facing the world all by himself. Our hunch is that where there's a Will there's a Way. Now Playing

IN SEARCH OF CAPTAIN ZERO: Sean Penn (Directed by Stacy Peralta; Written by Michael Bacall; Radar)

There may not be a real Captain Zero, but there is a real ALLAN WEISBECKER. A former surfer and drug-smuggler, Weisbecker packed up his memories of rowdy adventures and misdeeds and put them into a book, and this quirky-sounding movie is based upon that memoir.

The biopic, starring Sean Penn as the restless, reckless Weisbecker, deals with more than just dope and waterplay. Much of it is devoted to the author’s determination to hook up again with a close surfing pal who vanished a while back, probably somewhere in the wilds of Central America. But was their relationship really as joyful as it seemed, and can it possibly be resurrected? Opening date to be announced

INKHEART: Brendan Fraser, Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren, Jim Broadbent, Andy Serkis, Rafi Gavron, Sienna Guillory (Directed by Iain Softley; Written by David Lindsay-Abaire; New Line Cinema)

A man named Mo has a unique, sometimes dangerous talent. He can read books from his vast collection to his beloved daughter Meggie, and the results are so vivid that the characters literally jump off the pages and enter their quaint home. That’s how they strike up an acquaintance with a slimy villain named Capricorn, and that’s also how Mo manages to get himself kidnapped. Can Meggie and an assortment of helpmates come to his rescue?

Based on the first book of a trilogy by children’s author CORNELIA FUNKE, the movie features Andy Serkis, of “The Lord of the Rings” fame, as Capricorn and good “Queen” Helen Mirren as a quirky collector of rare books. To read Guy Flatley's 2002 interview with Paul Bettany, click here. Now Playing

INTO THE WILD: Emile Hirsch, Vince Vaughn, Catherine Keener (Written and directed by Sean Penn; Paramount)

Christopher McCandless, a restless, searching idealist, graduated from college in 1992 but did not even consider competing with his peers for a prestigious, lucrative job. Instead, as readers of JON KRAKAUER’S best seller know, McCandless left behind his worldly goods, hitchhiked to Alaska, and strived to become one with nature. Four months later, his corpse was discovered in a wilderness campsite.

Under the direction of Sean Penn, “Alpha Dog’s” Emile Hirsch plays McCandless; Keener and Vaughn play a motherly stranger and a sensitive tough guy he meets on his journey. To read Guy Flatley's 1998 interview with Vince Vaughn, click here. Now Playing

JULIE & JULIA: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci (Written and directed by Nora Ephron; Columbia)

A world-famous chef, who was also the star of her own popular live-TV show, once blithely flipped a potato pancake into the air, only to see it land not in the intended pan but on a decidedly un-photogenic work table. Not a bit flustered, she simply scooped up the smashed potato and molded it back into shape. Then, looking firmly into the eye of the camera, she told her audience, “Remember, you are alone in the kitchen, and no one can see you.”

This unflappable flipper, of course, was Julia Child, the lovably eccentric American who somehow managed to become an idolized French chef. And playing Child in this movie is Meryl Streep, who, as you know, can glide from American to French or any other nationality on a minute’s notice. The question is, what sort of scenario has writer-director Nora Ephron concocted that will give Streep a chance to don her apron and flip her potato pancake, as well as engage in some out-of-the-kitchen antics? After all, this film is supposedly an adaptation of “Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen,” JULIA POWELL'S 2005 book dishing out the comedy-drama of her decision to cook, over the course of one year, every single recipe in Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and to serve the presumably tasty results to her husband and other guinea pigs. Her experiment took a toll in both the digestive and domestic realms.

Amy Adams ("Catch Me If You Can," "Junebug," "Charlie Wilson's War") plays the central role of Julie. But you can bet that Ephron will cook up something tres delicious for Streep, who played the author to perfection in "Heartburn," based on Ephron's account of her disastrous marriage to philandering journalist Carl Bernstein. To read about more new biopics, click here. Now Playing

THE KIND ONE: Casey Affleck (Written by Tom Epperson; Disney)

Danny Landon is a 1930s resident of L.A. affectionately known as Two-Gun Danny because that’s how many weapons he once used to murder a boatload of suckers during a wildly successful heist at sea. At least that’s what Danny (Casey Affleck) has been told by his pals. The tragic truth is that he is suffering from amnesia and finds it difficult to believe he could ever have been such a badass. Nevertheless, he is clearly on the payroll of Bud Seitz, a repulsive mobster joshingly referred to by his various victims as The Kind One.

And, just as clearly, Danny has made the grave mistake of falling in love with his boss’s perpetually soused tootsie. No word on who will direct TOM EPPERSON'S adaptation of his own novel or who will play the title role. But wouldn’t Ben Affleck, who did such a nifty job of directing his kid brother in “Gone Baby Gone,” be the right man for both slots? Opening date to be announced. To read about more new murderpix, click here.

THE KITE RUNNER: Khalid Abdalla, Zekeria Ebrahimi, Homayon Ershadi, Ahmad Mahmidzada (Directed by Marc Forster; Written by David Benioff; DreamWorks and Paramount Vantage)

Afghanistan has been a ravaged, terrorized country for many years. But once, during the time of the monarchy, life was pleasant for Amir, the son of Baba, a wealthy Kabul businessman. It was pleasant, too, for Hassan, the son of Baba’s servant and a loyal friend to Amir. Just before the revolution, however, Amir stood by, doing nothing to help Hassan when he was menaced and eventually raped by a gang of bullies. Amir’s feeling of guilt tormented him throughout his adolescence and into his adulthood in California, where he became a successful physician.

In the end, as readers of KHALED HOSSEINI'S 2003 best-selling novel know, Amir felt compelled to return to Afghanistan (by then under Taliban control), in search of Hassan--and forgiveness. David Benioff’s adaptation has been directed by the erratic Marc Forster, whose past credits include “Monster’s Ball,” “Finding Neverland” and “Stranger Than Fiction” and whose future credits include “Bond 22.” Yes, that’s Bond as in James Bond. Now Playing

LADY CHATTERLEY: Marina Hands, Jean-Louis Coulloc’h, Hippolyte Girardot, Helene Alexandridis, Helene Fillieres (Directed by Pascale Ferran; Written by Pascale Ferran and Roger Bohbot; Kino International)

Critics are saying “C’est magnifique” about this daring French take on D. H. LAWRENCE'S “Lady Chatterley’s Lover.” The full-frontal tale of an emotionally withered wife who blossoms under the tutelage of her indefatigable gamekeeper is brought to fierce life by Marina Hands and Jean-Louis Coulloc’h. And everyone seems to agree that writer-director Pascale Ferran establishes herself here as one of today’s most nuanced and forceful filmmakers. For Guy Flatley's review of "Lady Chatterly," click here. Now Playing

THE LAST STATION: Christopher Plummer, Helen Mirren, Paul Giamatti, James McAvoy, Anne-Marie Duff (Directed by Michael Hoffman; Written by Jay Parini; Notro Films)

Anthony Hopkins was set to play Count Leo Tolstoy, the author of "War and Peace" who was strugglig to live out his final days with dignity and grace. But somewhere along the line Hopkins dropped out and Christopher Plummer dropped in.

Getting back to Leo--who on earth was making it difficult for him to travel a peaceful path into the hereafter? It was none other than Sofya Andreyevna, his luxury-loving, more warring than peaceful, wife. And--like Anthony Hopkins--Meryl Streep, cast as Sofya, made an exit, leaving her role to Helen Mirren. Paul Giamatti plays a loyal friend of Tolstoy's who does his best to rein in Sofya, James McAvoy plays Tolstoy's secretary, and Anne-Marie Duff--McAvoy's real-life wife--plays the tormented literary lion's daughter.

JAY PARINI'S screenplay for "The Last Station" is based on his 1990 novel, which in turn was based on the actual diaries of the contentious Tolstoys and their piles of relatives and friends. The director here is Michael Hoffman, whose eclectic oeuvre includes “Soapdish” (Robert Downey Jr. & Sally Field), “Restoration” (Hugh Grant & Meg Ryan), and “One Fine Day" (George Clooney & Michelle Pfeiffer). Opens 12/4/09

LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA: Javier Bardem, Giovanna Mezzogiomo, Benjamin Bratt, Liev Schreiber, John Leguizamo, Hector Alizondo, Catalina Sandino Moreno (Directed by Mike Newell; Written by Ronald Harwood; New Line)

The astonishing Javier Bardem, who made us hiss him as we have not hissed a movie villain in ages in “No Country for Old Men,” will surely wring a tear from us as the spurned suitor of beautiful Giovanna Mezzogiomo in this adaptation of GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ' haunting tale that Thomas Pynchon, writing in The New York Times, called “a shining and heartbreaking novel.”

The screenplay is by Ronald Harwood, who won an Oscar for "The Pianist," and the director is Mike Newell, who presided over "Four Weddings and a Funeral." Now Playing

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, deeply disturbing 2002 novel know, the heroine of “The Lovely Bones” (played here by newcomer Saoirse Ronan) 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

A MIGHTY HEART: Angelina Jolie, Dan Futterman, Sajid Hasan, Will Patton (Directed by Michael Winterbottom; Written by Michael Winterbottom and Laurence Coriat; Paramount Vantage)

In “A Mighty Heart,” MARIANE PEARL wrote movingly of the kidnapping and murder of her husband, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, by Muslim terrorists in Pakistan.

Now, in the adaptation of her book, Mrs. Pearl will be played by activist-actress Angelina Jolie. A strong indication that the film will be both tough and compassionate is the fact that it will be directed by Michael Winterbottom, currently represented on screen by “The Road to Guantanamo.” Winterbottom collaborated on the screenplay with Laurence Coriat, author of the screenplay of his wonderful “Wonderland.” To read the Variety review of "A Mighty Heart," click here. Now Playing

THE NANNY DIARIES: Scarlett Johansson, Laura Linney, Paul Giamatti, Chris Evans, Donna Murphy, Alicia Keys, Brande Roderick (Written and directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini; The Weinstein Company)

Scarlett Johansson, who seems to be signing up for enough projects to carry her into her twilight years, will play the impetuous, wildly inexperienced kid-keeper in a falling-apart Manhattan marriage, as recorded by young authors EMMA McLAUGHLIN and NICOLA KRAUS in their big-time best seller. Best news of all is that Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, the inspired scripters of the great “American Splendor,” are responsible for the adaptation, and they also served as co-directors. Now Playing

NEXT: Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore, Nicolas Pajon, Jessica Biel, Thomas Kretschmann, Peter Falk (Directed by Lee Tamahori; Written by Gary Goldman, Paul Bernbaum and Jonathan Hensleigh; Columbia)

Nicolas Cage won an Oscar for his smashing performance as a hopeless lush in 1995’s “Leaving Las Vegas.” Now he’s back in the garish burg, this time as a two-bit magician who doesn’t dare sink into a drunken stupor. He has no choice but to remain alert at all times. That’s because he has been saddled with the ability to see into the future, a skill that makes him of special interest to U.S. government agents who learned of his secret talent, as well as a band of foreign terrorists who are determined to nuke Los Angeles.

Directed by New Zealand’s Lee Tamahori, this adaptation of PHILIP K. DICK’S short story, “The Golden Man,” co-stars Julianne Moore as a mystery woman capable of casting her own magic spell on the beleaguered magician. To read Guy Flatley's 1976 interview with Peter Falk, click here. Now Playing

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, Kelly Macdonald, Tess Harper, Stephen Root, Barry Corbin (Directed by Joel Coen; Written by Joel and Ethan Coen; Miramax Films and Paramount Vantage)

It’s 1980, and somewhere in a wild, rough region of Texas, a young Vietnam vet named Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) comes to an abrupt halt in his early-morning hunt for antelope. What stops Llewelyn is the discovery of a bundle of heroin, a suitcase containing two million dollars, and several bloody corpses. And what Llewelyn does is this: he takes the money and runs, followed closely by deranged drug dealer Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem).

If this man-on-the-run has any hope for survival, it rests with Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), a smart, stubborn World War II vet who’s convinced the world has gone bonkers. This adaptation of CORMAC McCARTHY'S 2005 novel sounds chilling and oddball enough to stand beside such Coen Brothers shockers as “Blood Simple,” “Miller’s Crossing,” “Fargo” and “The Man Who Wasn’t There.” To read the Variety review of "No Country for Old Men," click here. Now Playing

THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL: Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana, Rue McClanahan (Directed by Justin Chadwick; Written by Peter Morgan; Sony)

Quick! Who was Mary Boleyn? You know, of course. She was the younger sister of Anne Boleyn, the regal mate of England’s King Henry VIII who literally lost her head in 1536 as a result of trumped-up charges that she was guilty of adultery, incest and witchcraft. Mary, who was married to William Carey at the ripe old age of 12, was by no means a stranger to the lascivious king herself, having served as his infamous mistress--and possibly the mother of his son--before Anne popped onto the scene.

Why should you care about all this ancient history? Because Anne and Mary are being played by Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson, respectively, in this adaptation of PHILLIPA GREGORY’S fact-based novel. Eric Bana will undoubtedly have a romp as horny Henry. Now Playing

PARANOID PARK: Gabe Nevins, Jake Miller, Taylor Momsen, Lauren McKinney, Daniel Lui (Written and directed by Gus Van Sant)

More than any other contemporary filmmaker, Gus Van Sant seems obsessed with telling tales of men, for the most part very young men, who are experiencing mind-blowing stress. Sometimes they are innocent victims of an unjust society; sometimes they are total weirdos waiting for the right moment to pounce; and sometimes they are a blend of the two.

To see what we mean, think about the troubled males at the center of Van Sant’s “Drugstore Cowboy,” “My Own Private Idaho,” “To Die For,” “Good Will Hunting,” “Gerry,” “Elephant” and even the remake of Hitchcock’s “Psycho.” Soon you will be able to think about still another Van Sant study of a boy in bad shape. This time it’s Alex (Gabe Nevins), a restless, 16-year-old skateboarder who, without bothering to buy a ticket, hops aboard a train headed for Paranoid Park, a Portland hangout for alienated street kids. Somewhere in transit, Alex is spotted and pursued by a billy-club-wielding security cop. Without thinking, Alex swiftly turns his skateboard into a lethal weapon, thereby dumping his stalker on the fast track to eternity.

The rest of Van Sant’s story, based on the novel by BLAKE NELSON, may best be described as a quirky, child-friendly American spin on Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment.” Now Playing

THE PAST (EL PASADO): Gael Garcia Bernal, Analia Couceyro, Moro Anghileri, Ana Celentano, Betty Farias (Directed by Hector Babenco; Written by Alan Pauls)

Hector Babenco, who directed William Hurt in his Oscar-winning performance in 1985’s “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” is now guiding Gael Garcia Bernal through some tricky paces. Based on screenwriter ALAN PAULS’ novel, "The Past" relates the emotional and physical torment experienced by a young man who decides to end a lengthy, complicated relationship. He’s ready to plunge into the intoxicating world of multi-partnered mating, but, as it turns out, his ex has different plans for his future. And she knows precisely how to make life hell for him--and for any woman who succumbs to his charm. Now Playing

PUBLIC ENEMIES:
Johnny Depp, Marion Cotillard, Christian Bale, Channing Tatum, Billy Crudup, Leelee Sobieski, Stephen Dorff, Lili Taylor, Emilie de Ravin, Giovanni Ribisi, Rory Cochran, Shawn Hatosy, Stephen Lang, Stephen Graham, Matt Craven (Directed by Michael Mann; Written by Ronan Bennett, Ann Biderman and Michael Mann; Universal)

John Dillinger was not as scary as Sweeney Todd, but don't be surprised if Johnny Depp makes the gun-toting terror of thirties Chicago almost as chilling as he made the demon barber of Fleet Street in Tim Burton's maniacal musical. “Public Enemies” is based on the book by BRYAN BURROUGH about FBI biggie J. Edgar Hoover's crusade to bring Dillinger and other dirty rotten scoundrels, such as Pretty Boy Floyd, to justice.

You might think that pretty boy Billy Crudup would be the ideal choice to play gangster Floyd, but no, that role has been undertaken by up-and-coming Tatum Channing. So who does Crudup play? The emphatically un-pretty J. Edgar Hoover! Giving his Batman drag a rest, Christian Bale becomes Melvin Purvis, the agent Hoover puts in charge of the Dillinger manhunt. Marion Cotillard and Leelee Sobieski play a couple of dollies with whom Dillinger dallies. Now Playing

THE READER: Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes, Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, David Kross (Directed by Stephen Daldry; Written by David Hare; The Weinstein Company)

Shortly after the end of World War II, Michael Berg, a German teenager played by David Kross, suffers a bout of scarlet fever in a public place and is taken home and tended by an older stranger. Her name is Hanna Schmitz and though she is older than Michael, she certainly does not qualify as a senior citizen. In fact, the 36-year-old Hanna is played by Kate Winslet--and before long, she and 15-year-old Michael are passionate lovers. Not only is Hanna passionate about Michael’s prowess in bed, but she is equally impressed with his skill as a fiery reader of tales by Homer, Twain and Chekhov.

But, faster than you can say Hemingway, Hanna vanishes in the night, never to return to the devastated Michael. At least, not until years later, when Michael, now a law student obsessed with the Nazi war crime trials, spots his own special Florence Nightingale and learns that she may end up behind bars as punishment for her gig as a guard in a concentration camp. Can the mature Michael, acted by Ralph Fiennes, recover from his shock and perhaps save--or at least comfort--the aging Hanna (still played by Kate Winslet).

We don’t know the answer to that question, but we do feel confident that Hanna has not heard the last of Michael’s masterful reading. Stephen Daldry, director of “The Hours” and “Billy Elliot,” was the man in charge of bringing David Hare’s adaptation of BERNHARD SCHLINK'S hugely popular 1995 novel about the meaning of the holocaust to cinematic life. Now Playing

RESERVATION ROAD: Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Connelly, Mira Sorvino, Elle Fanning, John Slattery, Antoni Corone (Directed by Terry George; Written by John Burnham Schwartz; Focus Features)

Dwight Arno, speeding through the night to return his 10-year-old son to his ex-wife on time, turns a bend, hits a boy who’d been walking on the side of the road, and drives on. Nearby, Ethan Learner, the father of the fatally injured boy, sits behind the wheel of his own car. Before long, Ethan will be consumed by grief, guilt and a deep thirst for revenge.

If you’ve read JOHN BURNHAM SCHWARZ’S 1998 novel, “Reservation Road,” you already know how this story ends, but you’ll probably rush to see the movie version all the same. Adapted by the novelist, the film is being directed by Terry George (“Hotel Rwanda”) and stars Mark Ruffalo as the fleeing father and Joaquin Phoenix as his potential avenger. Jennifer Connelly, who co-starred with Phoenix in 1997’s “Inventing the Abbotts,” plays his distraught wife on this occasion. Now Playing

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 haunting 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 memorably lacerating “American Beauty.” Now Playing

THE RISE OF THEODORE ROOSEVELT: Leonardo DiCaprio (Directed by Martin Scorsese; Written by Nicholas Meyer; Paramount) Leo for president? Why not? Martin Scorsese, who directed him in “Gangs of New York,” “The Aviator," "The Departed” and "Shutter Island, thinks Leo is just the man for the job of portraying the remarkably complex 26th president of the U.S. in the adaptation of EDMUND MORRIS’S Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt.” As in the book, Teddy will go from a frail, asthmatic Harvard grad to the bear of a man who commanded the Rough Riders, governed the state of New York, and eventually called the White House home. Hail to the chief! To read Guy Flatley's 1973 interview with Martin Scorsese, click here. Opening date to be announced

THE RUM DIARY: Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, Aaron Eckhart, Giovanni Ribisi, Amaury Nolasco, Richard Jenkins, Michael Rispoli (Written and directed by Bruce Robinson; Warner Independent Pictures)

It’s been nearly 10 years since Johnny Depp played Raoul Duke, a hell-raising journalist, in the film version of Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” Nobody, including the author, believed that Duke was anyone other than Thompson himself. Now Depp is playing Paul Kemp, an eccentric reporter in “The Rum Diary,” the autobiographical novel the late Hunter published when he was 22.

Set in San Juan, Puerto Rico, during the fifties, “Diary” depicts the chaotic, booze-and-drugs fueled adventures of a brawling Hunteresque freelancer from New York who tries to twist himself into a latter-day Hemingway. Ever wonder how Thompson would have fared if he’d decided to become a latter-day Henry James? Opening date to be announced

SASHA'S STORY: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A RUSSIAN SPY: Johnny Depp (Warner Bros.)

Will moviegoers glut themselves on a double serving of the true-life tragedy of Alexander “Sasha” Litvinenko, the KGB agent-turned-superspy who suffered a hideous death after dining on sushi containing polonium-210? Possibly so, if both Warner Bros. and Columbia follow through with plans to fast-track competing versions of the same raw-deal tale. The Warner Bros. project, "Sasha's Story: The Life and Death of a Russian Spy," is based on a Doubleday book being written by ALAN COWELL, the New York Times bureau chief who has covered the story extensively for The Times. It’s extremely likely that Johnny Depp, whose Infinitum Nihil production company is partnered with Warner Bros., will play the bigger-than-life character who, on his deathbed, accused Vladimir Putin of plotting his murder.

While the people at Columbia will not have the pleasure of Johnny Depp’s company on their Litvinenko take, they will surely be working with solid pros, starting at the top with director Michael Mann, and including Marina Litvinenko, the former spy’s widow, and Alex Goldfarb, her collaborator on “Death of a Dissident,” a book scheduled to be published by Free Press, a Simon & Schuster subsidiary. No word on who’ll play Litvinenko in “Death of a Dissident.” Opening date to be announced

SHANTARAM: Johnny Depp, Emily Watson, Franka Potente (Directed by Mira Nair; Written by Eric Roth and Gregrory David Roth; Warner Bros.)

An Australian named Lindsay (Johnny Depp) has a major heroin habit which sends him to what promises to be a long, harsh term of imprisonment. As in the GREGORY DAVID ROBERTS novel from which this drama stems, however, Lindsay escapes and lands in a crime-crammed Bombay slum, where he manages to pass himself off as a crackerjack physician--one who engages in gunrunning and smuggling in order to give his poor patients the kind of care they so richly deserve.

The next stage of Lindsay’s physical and spiritual journey is Afghanistan, where he joins the insurgents in their struggle to oust the Russians. Tomorrow Iraq? Peter Weir, who was set to direct "Shantaram," dropped out when the folks at Warner Bros. informed him that his take on the material was all wrong. He was replaced by Mira Nair, director of "Monsoon Wedding" and "The Namesake." Opening date to be announced

STARDUST: Charlie Cox, Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Claire Danes, Peter O’Toole, Sienna Miller, Rupert Everett, Jason Flemyng, Billie Whitelaw, Jake Curran (Directed by Matthew Vaughn; Written by Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman; Paramount)

Tristan (Charlie Cox), an upstanding Victorian enamored by the conveniently named Victoria (Sienna Miller), has a plan for capturing the undivided attention of this self-absorbed stunner. His happy ending depends on tracking down the glorious star they once observed crashing to earth, and his quest carries him to numerous mysterious, dangerous places. Among the scheming goodies and baddies he encounters on his love-fueled star trek: An eccentric pirate who answers to the name of Captain Shakespeare (Robert De Niro); a bitch of a witch named Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) who is not amused by the prospect of lined and wrinkled old age; Lord Stormhold (Peter O’Toole), a nasty, dying S.O.B. whose potential heirs have their own sinister reasons for snaring that fallen star; and a lovely, imperiled lass (Claire Danes), who projects a certain star quality of her own, one that may eventually dim the light of Tristan’s love for Victoria.

Based on NEIL GAIMAN'S fantasy graphic novel, “ Stardust” has been helmed by Matthew Vaughn, who made a strong directorial debut in 2004 with the classy thriller “Layer Cake.” To read Guy Flatley's 1973 New York Times interview with Robert De Niro, click here; for Guy's 1972 New York Times interview 1972 interview with Peter O'Toole, click here. 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 hatching 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

STARTING OUT IN THE EVENING: Frank Langella, Lauren Ambrose, Lili Taylor, Adrian Lester, Jessica Bennett, Anitha Gandhi, Jeff McCarthy, Sean T. Krishnan, Karl Bury (Directed by Andrew Wagner; Written by Andrew Wagner and Fred Parnes; Roadside Attractions)

Once, Leonard Schiller (Frank Langella) was a celebrated writer, basking in the praise lavished on his four novels by New York’s most sophisticated critics. But decades have passed, Leonard’s work is out of print, and he has yet to produce a fifth novel, even though he dutifully clocks in at his typewriter on a daily basis. Adding to his misery is the fact that he has lost the wife he so intensely loved and has himself suffered a major heart attack. Plus, he is scarcely recognized when attending the kind of literary events at which he was formerly the center of attention.

Then along comes Heather Wolfe (Lauren Ambrose), an intellectually sharp, articulate and quirkily attractive blonde graduate student. She’s planning to write her thesis about Leonard and his novels and is hurt, hurt, hurt when the author refuses to grant her request for a series of interviews, pointing out that he must devote his time and energy to his new book. Eventually, the subtly aggressive young woman wears him down, loosens him up, critiques his writing and seductively smears honey on his forehead in the intimacy of his Manhattan apartment.

In the end, might this be a case of All About Heather? (For an immediate answer to that question, pick up a copy of BRIAN MORTON'S widely praised novel from which this film was adapted.) Lili Taylor also stars as Leonard's not especially book-oriented daughter, a woman who cannot persuade her boyfriend (Adrian Lester) to impregnate her, even though her biological clock is ticking in a big way. 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 hurried 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

THEN SHE FOUND ME: Helen Hunt, Bette Midler, Colin Firth, Matthew Broderick (Written and directed by Helen Hunt; Killer Films)

Bet you didn’t know that Oscar-winning actress Helen Hunt is also a writer and director. At least, she’s written this adaptation of ELINOR LIPMAN’S comic novel (with co-author Alice Arlen), and she plays the central role of a schoolteacher whose husband (Matthew Broderick) decides to drop out of their marriage. But the really sad thing that happens is that her mom dies.

And perhaps saddest of all is the decision of her birth mother, who abandoned her 36 years ago, to move in with--and perform a makeover on--Helen. Unlike the prim lady who raised Helen, this TV talk-show hostess, played by Bette Midler, is a total flake, a woman who doesn’t hesitate to put the moves on a charmer (Colin Firth) to whom her daughter has recently been introduced by a thoughtful student. Now Playing

THERE WILL BE BLOOD: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Kevin J. O'Connor, Ciarán Hinds, Russell Harvard (Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson; Paramount Vantage)

Oil is a red hot subject these days, but it was also pretty hot stuff back in 1927, too. That’s the year “Oil!,” UPTON SINCLAIR’S robust depiction of greed and corruption among early twentieth-century developers and drillers, was published. Now Paul Thomas Anderson, the boldly imaginative director of “Boogie Nights,” “Magnolia” and “Punch-Drunk Love,” has helmed his own adaptation of Sinclair’s book and he had the smarts to cast Daniel Day-Lewis in the central role of a Texan prospector who makes a killing in Southern California and then pays a heavy spiritual price for his good fortune. Now Playing

3:10 TO YUMA: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Ben Foster, Gretchen Mol, Peter Fonda, Vinessa Shaw, Alan Tudyk, Logan Lerman, Kevin Durand, Johnny Whitworth, Dallas Roberts (Directed by James Mangold; Written by Stuart Beattie, Michael Brandt and Derek Haas; Lionsgate)

In 1957, Delmer Daves turned out a nifty psychological western-thriller that was based on an ELMORE LEONARD story and contained echoes of 1952’s “High Noon” and 1953’s “Shane.” Now “3:10 to Yuma” is being given a new spin by James Mangold, director of “Walk the Line.” This time the lethal stagecoach robber played by Glenn Ford in the original will be played by Russell Crowe, who, as we all know, is so good at playing so bad.

The poor, desperate rancher who helps capture the villain and is then paid to take him to trial on the 3:10 train has been changed to a lawman who’s a bit of a loser in the remake. He’ll be played by Christian Bale, who has his work cut out for him in trying to top the performance of the great Van Heflin in the 1957 flick. To read about more new remakes, click here. Now Playing

WHITE JAZZ: George Clooney (Directed by Joe Carnahan; Written by Joe Carnahan and Matthew Michael Carnahan; Warner Independent Pictures)

Not all cops are the same. Some are good, and some are bad. Dave Klein (George Clooney) is a good--well, mostly good--cop making a buck the scary way on the LAPD vice squad in the 1958, and he’s being set up for a calamitous fall by the city’s police commissioner, a bad-to-the-core cop if ever there was one. Will Klein outwit his boss? You can count on it.

Nor would you be wrong to count on a full tank of blood, guts, bullets and octane in this adaptation of the JAMES ELLROY novel, since writer-director Joe Carnahan is the man who gave us “Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane,” the 1998 cult thriller, as well as 2003’s police saga “Narc.” Opening date to be announced