All you need to know about a wildly mixed bag of new movies. If you would like to browse Chapter 1 of this ongoing moviecrazed feature, click here.



















Paul Thomas Anderson, one of America’s most darkly intoxicating directors, has mastered the art of disorienting moviegoers by turning their perceptions and passions upside down and inside out. Recall, for example, “Boogie Nights,” the 1997 thunderbolt showcasing Mark Wahlberg as a non-achiever who morphs overnight into Dirk Diggler, a birdbrained, enormously endowed, much-in-demand porn performer who’s ultimately short-circuited by his own delusions of eternal, orgasmic superstardom. Then rummage through your memories of “Magnolia,” the surreal 1999 trip in which Tom Cruise freaked us out with his mega-wired ferocity in the role of a loony mystic on the make. And who could possibly forget the riveting journey of Daniel Day-Lewis from humble gold miner to greedy oil baron to maniacal killer  in Anderson’s 2007 epic “There Will Be Blood”?

That was then, but this is now. So we should prepare ourselves for “The Master,” Anderson’s latest excursion into a world populated by visionaries, rogues, captives, inquisitors, saints and perhaps some kind of god. And that world, according to various reports that have been neither verified nor persuasively denied by the Anderson camp, is the world of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of The Church of Scientology, the powerful, controversial, celebrity-hugging religion passionately embraced by Tom Cruise, Mimi Rogers, Kirstie Alley, John Travolta and Kelly Preston and other prominent Hollywood figures.(While Will and Jada Pinkett Smith are not official members of the Church of Scientology, they do share their close friend Cruises's enthusiasm for the religion and its founder.) In the film, set during the early fifties, the spiritually rabid intellectual assumed by many to be Hubbard is played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, who got one of his first shots at cinematic glory when he played a porno hanger-on with a giant crush on Dirk Diggler in "Boogie Nights."

Early in “The Master,” before the religion (called The Cause in the movie) has caught fire, Hoffman is seen systematically grilling a mystified young man--played by Joaquin Phoenix—who hasn’t a clue as to how he got where he is and why he can’t remember an awful lot of his recent past. After a period of time, the confused stranger is converted to The Cause and becomes his interrogator's second-in command, but eventually he begins to question his master’s motives and wonders if it isn’t time for him to go back where he came from. The question is, does he manage to escape? For the record, Amy Adams and Laura Dern are also featured in the film, but we don’t know if writer/director Anderson made them believers or non-believers. And, of course, the whole world is waiting for the opening of “The Master” on September 14 to see if Tom, Mimi, Kirstie, John, Kelly, Will and Jada will strut their stuff on that red carpet. To view the trailer, visit
















Jessica Chastain is a gal who makes a point of keeping her gun and her nails polished, if only to hold the attention of the boys in the band of lusty, hooked-on- violence bootleggers with whom she’s joined forces in John Hillcoat’s fact-based prohibition flick. Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf and Gary Oldman do their brutal best to keep the booze and the blood flowing, and Guy Pearce is on hand as a driven, exceptionally creepy law enforcer. For those of you who are looking for lethal action, the search will presumably end when “Lawless” opens on 8/29/12.

To view the trailer, visit, type the title of the film into the find panel and then click on search.

















Fernando Meirelles, the director who in 2005 gave us Rachel Weisz and Ralph Fiennes in the overstuffed but anemic “The Constant Gardener,” now serves up the   steamy “360” with Rachel Weisz but not Ralph Fiennes. This time we have to settle for Jude Law as a gullible hubby who’s been turned into a cuckold by naughty wife Rachel. Cribbing from “La Ronde,” Arthur Schnitzler’s 1900 spicy theatrical gem, screenwriter Peter Morgan has crowded his plot with highly sexed 21st-century individuals who glide, sometimes slither, from partner to partner. Among those joining Jude and Rachel in this whirlwind game of lust and betrayal are Anthony Hopkins, Tereza Srbova, Ben Foster, Katrina Vasilieva, Moritz Bleibtreu, Gabriela Marcinkova, Jamel Debbouze, Riann Steele and, oddly enough, author Peter Morgan in the role of a salesman. A traveling one, no doubt. “360” opens on 8/3/12. To view the trailer, visit, type the title of the film into the find panel and then click on search.















Ruby, the young African American woman played by Emayatzy Corinealdi, makes a painful decision in this first feature film by Ava DuVernay. She will immediately drop out of college and scrap her dream of a career in the medical profession so that she can spend as much time as possible with her handsome husband, Derek. That time will be severely limited,  however, since not every day is visiting day at the prison where Derek (Omari Hardwick) has just begun serving his five-to-eight year sentence, and the ride on the visitors’ bus takes four hours, round trip. Still, on non-visiting days she’ll be able to stay home sitting by the phone and hoping that he’ll be given permission to call.

It’s not going to be a cakewalk for Ruby, but there’s always a chance that Derek will receive a parole. Or possibly it will be discovered that he was innocent of the charges that sent him to the slammer.  On the other hand, aren’t we  asking a lot of Ruby to insist that she spend years ignoring the lure of various admirers, especially the magnetic, earthy bus driver played by David Oyelowo? We don’t know the answer to that question, but we do know that the audience at the recent Los Angeles Film Festival gave “Middle of Nowhere” not one, but two standing ovations. The movie opens on 10/12/12. To view the trailer, click on...














Greta Garbo did it. Actually, she did it twice, first in 1927 and again in 1935. And Vivien Leigh did it in 1948. So why shouldn’t Keira Knightley take a shot at playing the complex heroine in Tom Stoppard’s adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s literary masterpiece? Under the direction of Joe Wright, the man who served her well in “Pride & Prejudice” and “Atonement,” Knightley slips back into oppressive nineteenth-century Russia where she suffers tedium and humiliation at the hands of her merciless Czarist husband Alexei (Jude Law). Eventually, she surrenders with astonishing rapture to the sexual maneuvers of magnetic military rogue Count Vronsky (Aaron Johnson), and, finally, she trembles with pain and rage when her spurned husband makes it impossible for her to have contact with her fragile young son (Eros Vlahos). Ultimately, as we all know, Anna’s  torment comes to an end with more than a little help from a swiftly moving, non-stop train. Let’s hope this intriguing cast makes Joe Wright as proud as Greta Garbo, Fredric March, Basil Rathbone and Freddie Bartholomew made Clarence Brown feel in MGM’s 1935 version of “Anna Karenina.”  The new film opens on 11/9/12. To view the trailer, click on
















Let’s say that you’re totally traumatized by the mere thought of traveling by plane, yet suddenly it’s crucial that you climb aboard and take to the skies. Now close your eyes and try to imagine the perfect pilot, the one certain to jet you to your destination safely, even soothingly. That’s right, it would probably be someone like Denzel Washington, the kind of sane, sober, grace-under-pressure hero we’ve come to trust and admire over the past few decades. If so, you won’t be surprised when you see veteran pilot Washington at the controls, deftly ascending and calmly chatting with his crew and passengers. But suddenly something goes hideously wrong—the plane rocks, shakes, swipes and swoops, seeming to have a mind of its own. There’s no way anyone can bring it under control; everyone on board is doomed to perish. Yet here comes our man Denzel to the rescue, admittedly working up something of a sweat but miraculously managing to land the plane the way a plane should be landed. With no fatalities. Naturally, he becomes an overnight  poster boy, somebody the whole world can’t get enough of.

But what’s this? Upon investigation, some disturbing facts surface, including the lab reports on blood tests that reveal a substantial amount of alcohol in this true-blue pilot’s system. Now the public wants to spit on him, but they may not get a chance unless they happen upon him on a road gang. I’d like to get to the bottom of this mystery, wouldn’t you? So maybe we’ll all have to take this “Flight”—directed by Robert Zemeckis and also featuring Don Cheadle, John Goodman, Melissa Leo, Kelly Reilly and Bruce Greenwood—when it opens on 11/2/12.

To view the trailer, visit, type the title of the film into the find panel and then click on search.
















Over the span of his colorful career, feisty director Oliver Stone has had a flock of  turkeys to live down (think “Natural Born Killers,” “U Turn,” “Alexander” and “The Doors”). But surely he deserves credit for having crafted a number of provocative, emotionally resonant, politically potent dramas, including  “Salvador,” “Platoon,” “Wall Street” and “Born on the Fourth of July.” In which camp will his unstintingly violent “Savages” land? See if you can guess.

Here’s the setup. Ben, a gentle Buddhist dude, and his buddy Chon, a former Navy SEAL hero, have built a reliably lucrative marijuana business, taking full advantage of their own lovingly nurtured Laguna Beach crop. Naturally they share the profits straight down the middle. But that’s not all that Ben--played by Aaron Johnson, who will next be seen as Keira Knightley’s red-hot lover in “Anna Karenina”—shares with Chon, who’s played by Taylor Kitsch, the star of TV’s “Friday Night Lights.”  They also share a rewarding, extremely intimate relationship with Ophelia, their dazzling, if fickle, colleague in crime (played by Blake Lively). What could possibly go wrong in this strip of beach-blanket paradise? Plenty, thanks to Elena (Salma Hayek), the lady in charge of the Mexican Baja Cartel, and her sinister assistant Lado (Benicio Del Toro). These flamboyant villains, made giddy by their scheme to grab a slice of Ben and Chon’s marijuana pie, think nothing of kidnapping Ophelia, tansporting her across the border, and taking obscene advantage of the distressed damsel. Well, let’s just wait and see what the boys have to say about that.

Other tough, mostly unsavory, customers zipping through this adaptation of Don Winslow’s 2010 best seller are played by John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Emile Hirsch, Demian Bichir and Shea Whigham. Starting on 7/6/12, you can catch them at your neighborhood cineplex.

To view the trailer, visit, type the title of the film into the find panel and then click on search.















Plagiarists are seldom heroes, even when the works they sneakily publish succeed in capturing tons of readers. After all, these literary cheats are guilty of stealing and taking credit for the precious, painstakingly wrought imagery and feelings of a writer who, as a result of this rapacious theft, may forever remain an unsung artist.

Yet one suspects that we may somehow be persuaded to root for Bradley Cooper as the desperate but not conspicuously talented wannabe writer who stumbles upon a valise containing a bulky manuscript that manages to say everything he ever wanted to say about the beauty, cruelty and mystery of life. In other words, it’s a natural-born, can’t-miss classic, a best seller ready to roll off the presses and turn him into a literary sensation. At last, he's a man who can make his ravishing wife (Zoey Soldana) happy that she married a seeming loser.

That’s fine for Bradley Cooper. But how about Jeremy Irons, who plays the crusty, arguably wacko writer who actually penned this masterpiece? How do you think he’s going to feel when he learns that his book is big news, but he’s still no more than a face in the crowd. Put it this way—if you’ve ever seen Irons play down and dirty (and who hasn’t?)—you know what to expect. And, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably looking forward to the pleasure of Jeremy’s sweet revenge.

Also on hand for the chilly festivities promised by this impudent-sounding indie from writer-directors Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal: Dennis Quaid, Olivia Wilde, Ron Rifkin and J.K. Simmons. “The Words” opens on 9/21/12.

To view the trailer, visit, type the title of the film into the find panel and then click on search.

















The year was 1979. And then, as now, Iran was much on the minds of American citizens, starting with President Jimmy Carter and, equally important, the families and friends of the more than 50 Americans taken hostage by hostile militants at the U.S. embassy in Tehran. What the public was unaware of at the time was the fact that half a dozen Americans had managed to slip away from the captors and take refuge in the semi-privacy of the Canadian ambassador’s residence. The thing that U.S. officials knew and lost sleep over was this: if the Iranians who were suddenly in command of their own country got wind of the secret shelter being provided for the slippery Americans, gruesome photos of six cadavers would immediatetly be splashed on the front pages of international newspapers.

What to do? That was the urgent question, and the answer came when CIA “exfiltration” specialist Tony Mendez (played here by mercurial star and director Ben Affleck) pounced on the scene with a bold—actually bizarre--scenario for a spine-tingling rescue. His plan, offered with no apologies, stuttering or wringing of hands, was either nutty or weirdly sane.  Mendez and some of his anything-goes military associates would pose as Hollywood moviemakers shooting a sci-fi extravaganza on Iranian soil. With a combination of quick but meticulous preparation and inspired improvisation, daredevil Mendez and his team pulled off a slicker, more exquisitely timed thriller than any studio mogul could ever have concocted. And it wasn’t until years later that this tall story was made public. To me, it sounds like the perfect follow-up to Affleck’s most recent directorial triumph, the sharp, blistering, surprisingly bittersweet “The Town.”  The cast includes John Goodman, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Victor Garber, Philip Baker Hall, Zeljko Ivanek and Michael Parks.  “Argo” opens on 10/12/12

To view the trailer, visit, type the title of the film into the find panel and then click on search.

To visit Chapter 1 of this ongoing moviecrazed feature, click here.