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SEEN ANY GOOD MURDERS LATELY?

No? Then you should definitely browse below.

 

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 almost 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 plays--and perhaps slays--together. The movie marks the fictional-feature debut of Andrew Jarecki, who directed “Capturing the Friedmans,” the chilling documentary about a very different sort of family. Opening date to be announced

AMERICAN GANGSTER: Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Cuba Gooding Jr., Josh Brolin, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Carla Gugino, Norman Reedus, Ted Levine, Roger Bart (Directed by Ridley Scott; Written by Terry George; Universal) Russell Crowe took home an Oscar as Best Actor of 2000 for “Gladiator,” and he nearly finished first again the following year for “A Beautiful Mind.” But he lost to Denzel Washington, who was named top gun for his work in “Training Day.” Now these powerhouse performers will be teamed for the first time since newcomer Crowe supported superstar Washington in 1995’s “Virtuosity.” But don’t expect a routine buddy flick. In this high-voltage thriller, set during the Vietnam War, Crowe plays a New York cop trying to stop the flow of drugs into the U.S., and Washington is a Harlem drug dealer and occasional assassin who uses the coffins of American soldiers to keep that heroin coming in. May the best man win an Oscar. 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 and, finally, shooting Jesse in the back as he was trying to hang a picture on the wall. 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. Now Playing

THE BRAVE ONE: Jodie Foster, Terrence Howard, Naveen Andrews, Mary Steenburgen, Jane Adams, Nicky Katt (Directed by Neil Jordan; Written by Roderick Taylor, Bruce A. Taylor and Cynthia Mort; Warner Bros.) Erica Bain (Jodie Foster) had it all, and she knew it. The host of a popular Manhattan radio talk show, she’d finally hooked up with a super guy and was planning her wedding day. That was then and this is the tragic now. Erica is the physically and emotionally wounded survivor of a vicious assault, and her husband-to-be is dead. Before long, she is an armed and dangerous woman, night-stalking city streets in search of vengeance. Can a tough, well-intentioned cop (Terrence Howard) save her from self-destruction. This thriller was directed by the never-boring Neil Jordan, the man responsible for “Mona Lisa,” “The Crying Game” and “Breakfast on Pluto.” For the "Brave One" trailer, click here. Now Playing

THE BLACK DAHLIA: Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Mia Kirshner, William Finley, Fiona Shaw, Pepe Serna (Directed by Brian De Palma; written by Josh Friedman; Universal) In 1947, the mutilated body of Elizabeth Short was discovered in one of Hollywood’s seedier neighborhoods. The vicious murder of this woman who became known as The Black Dahlia prompted a huge manhunt and was a front- page story for many months. To this day, the killer has not been tracked down. Nor has the bloody murder of James Ellroy’s mother ever been solved, one of the reasons the noir author became obsessed with the case of Elizabeth Short and eventually wrote “The Black Dahlia,” the 1987 cult novel that probed the mystery of Short’s life and death. Hartnett and Eckhart play detectives driven to frustration bordering on madness, Johansson and Swank are women who further complicate their lives, and Kirshner plays Short. The chances of this movie being a genuine shocker are strong, given the fact that Brian De Palma, its director, is the man responsible for “Carrie,” “Dressed to Kill” and “Scarface.” Will the French go crazy over this noir film? For a clue, see the poster at the top of the page. To read the Variety review of "The Black Dahlia," click here. Now Playing

THE CALLER: Frank Langella, Elliott Gould, Laura Harring, Anabel Sosa, Helen Stenborg, Gregory Ellis, Axel Feldmann (Directed by Richard Ledes; Written by Richard Ledes and Alain Didier-Weill; Belladonna Productions) Whistle blowers are, almost by definition, losers. They may experience a rush of pride, a flash of glory for their role in exposing the corrupt schemes and brutal deeds of their corporate bosses, but in the end they are the ones left without a job or friends to offer a supporting hand. Or sometimes--as in the case of Jimmy Stevens, a tell-all employee at a firm whose top executives are guilty of major criminal activity (including murder) in Latin America--they are left without much hope of staying alive. That’s why Jimmy (Frank Langella) hires Frank Turlotte, a quirky but reliable private eye (Elliott Gould) to keep tabs on people who might be tailing him. Before long, Turlotte suspects that the man he should be tailing is Jimmy Stevens himself. And it seems clear that the detective should not lose sight of the femme fatale played by Laura Harring (slinking back on track in the aftermath of all the schlock roles that followed her dynamite performance in David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive.”) This noir thriller is one of what appears to be a trio of upcoming winners for veteran actor Frank Langella, the other two being “Frost/Nixon,” in which he creates his Tony Award performance as the disgraced Tricky Dicky, and “All Good Things,” a murder mystery from Andrew Jarecki, director of the terrific documentary, “Capturing the Friedmans.” And it’s good to have Elliott Gould back in what sounds like a role of substance. Click here for Guy Flatley's 1973 New York Times interview with Elliott Gould. Opening date to be announced

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 and Jonathan 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 murderer 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

DARK MATTER: Liu Ye, Aidan Quinn, Meryl Streep, Blair Brown (Directed by Chen Shi-Zheng; Myriad Films) Based on a tragedy that took place on the University of Iowa in 1991, this film centers on Liu Xing, a brilliant Chinese physics student who fell victim to campus politics, suffered an emotional breakdown, and went on a bloody rampage, killing six people. Chen Shi-Zheng, famed for his work on the operatic stage, is making his movie directorial debut here. Now Playing

DÉJÀ VU: Denzel Washington, Val Kilmer, Jim Caviezel, Bruce Greenwood, Paula Patton, Adam Goldberg, Elle Fanning (Directed by Tony Scott; Written by Bill Marsilii and Terry Rossio; Disney) Denzel Washington was so pleased with the way he came across in “Crimson Tide” and “Man on Fire” he decided to team with him again. In this thriller, to be shot in a resilient New Orleans, Washington will play an FBI agent with a unique skill--he is able to travel into the past and, with a little bit of luck, make things turn out better than they previously did. His mission here is to prevent the murder of the woman he once loved by a terrorist (Jim Caviezel, switching his "The Passion of the Christ" gears). How do you like them apples, Mr. J. Edgar Hoover? Now Playing

THE DEPARTED: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin, Ray Winstone, Gerard McSorley, Vera Farmiga, Todd Peterson (Directed by Martin Scorsese; Written by William Monahan; Warner Bros.) Leo as a Chinese undercover cop who’s infiltrated a sinister Hong Kong gang, and Matt as a murderous member of that gang passing himself off as a gung-ho Hong Kong police recruit? Am I making this up? Only a little. These Hollywood baby-icons are in fact starring in an American rehash of “Wu Jian Dao” (“Infernal Affairs”), a big 2002 Hong Kong action hit. This time, the tricky thrills, spills and slayings are played out in the streets and back rooms of Boston, and the gang at the center of the mischief is Irish, not Chinese. And anyone who tuned in to the Oscars last month knows, the change of locale worked out just fine. To read Guy Flatley's 1973 interview with Scorsese, click here; for Guy's 1974 interview with Jack Nicholson, click here. Now Playing

EASTERN PROMISES: Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Sinead Cusack, Donald Sumpter, Jerzy Skolimowski, Michael Sarne (Directed by David Cronenberg; Written by Steven Knight; Focus Features) London is the workplace of some of the world’s meanest members of organized crime, perhaps none meaner than the a lethal Russian-born thug named Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen). This exceedingly illegal immigrant specializes in the business of sex and shows little mercy on his victims, though there is a chance he will treat Ana--a British midwife who knows more than it is healthy to know about a young woman who died giving birth--with a smidgeon of tenderness. Fans of 2005’s “A History of Violence” will be pleased to see Viggo Mortensen working once again under the shrewd, mischievous direction of David Cronenberg. Now Playing

GONE BABY GONE: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Amy Madigan, Robert Wahlberg, Mark Margolis, John Ashton, Amy Ryan (Written and directed by Ben Affleck; 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

THE GOOD GERMAN: George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Tobey Maguire, Beau Bridges, Dominic Comperatore (Directed by Steven Soderbergh; Written by Paul Attanasio; Warner Bros.) Hitler and his war are kaput, and an American journalist makes a visit to Berlin his number one priority. How come? If you read the Joseph Kanon novel upon which this movie is based, you know that the newsman played by George Clooney is keen on reuniting with his favorite fraulein. You also know that he soon finds himself deep in the middle of a murder mystery. Now Playing

HOLLYWOODLAND: Ben Affleck, Diane Lane, Adrien Brody, Kathleen Robertson, Bob Hoskins, Robin Tunney, Lois Smith, Joe Spano, Jordan Barker, Jeff Teravainen, Larry Cedar, Steve Adams (Directed by Allen Coulter; Written by Paul Bernbaum and Howard Korder; Focus Features) George Reeves, who played the minor role of one of Scarlett O’Hara’s many swains in “Gone With the Wind,” is perhaps best remembered as Superman, a role he played on live television for six years during the fifties. In a funk because he couldn’t shed the tacky small-screen image of the caped wonder and ascend to major stardom, he put an end to his frustration with a bullet to his head in 1959 at the age of 45. Or did he? Some suspect that he was murdered in the bedroom of his Hollywood mansion by somebody who did not approve of his affair with the wife of MGM executive Eddie Mannix. Ben Affleck, a daredevil if ever there was one, takes on the role of the failed superhero for which Hugh Jackman was originally slated, Diane Lane plays his not-so-secret lover, and Adrien Brody, replacing the busy, busy Benicio Del Toro, is cast as a gumshoe who works up a sweat trying to solve the mystery surrounding Reeves’ death. While there was no happy ending to Reeves' life, there was a happy ending of sorts when "Hollywoodland" played the 63rd Venice Film Festival--Affleck won the award for Best Actor. To read about other current and upcoming biopics, click here. Now Playing

IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH: Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, Susan Sarandon, Jason Patric, Josh Brolin, James Franco, Frances Fisher, Barry Corbin, Jonathan Tucker (Written and directed by Paul Haggis; Warner Independent Pictures) Readers of Playboy magazine were shocked by “Death and Dishonor,” Mark Boal’s investigative article published in the summer of 2004. Boal interviewed Lanny Davis, a former U.S. Army M.P., about the death of his son, who had been reported AWOL following a tour of duty in Baghdad. Davis, refusing to accept the army’s version of his son’s disappearance, eventually discovered that the young man had in fact been brutally murdered by his army buddies after a night of partying in Georgia. Paul Haggis, the writer-director of “Crash,” purchased rights to the story, added a few fictional touches, and signed up a sterling cast headed by Tommy Lee Jones as the ex-soldier in pursuit of justice. Now Playing

INFAMOUS: Toby Jones, Daniel Craig, Sandra Bullock, Sigourney Weaver, Hope Davis, Jeff Daniels, Isabella Rossellini, Peter Bogdanovich, Morgan Farris, Gwyneth Paltrow (Written and directed by Douglas McGrath; Warner Independent Pictures) “In Cold Blood,” a masterpiece of true storytelling about the horrific murder of a mid-western family by a pair of intruders from hell, is perhaps the late Truman Capote’s finest achievement. Maybe that’s why two new films--this one and "Capote"--deal with the strange psychological connection between the author, acted by Toby Jones, and convicted killer Perry Smith (Daniel Craig), a bond forged during Smith’s time on death row. Sandra Bullock plays Harper Lee, author of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and a close friend of Capote, and Gwyneth Paltrow is cast as--are you ready for this?--a sultry bllonde songbird who's a dead ringer for Peggy Lee. The mere thought of that gives me fever. 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.

LAKE CITY: Sissy Spacek, Troy Garity, Rebecca Romijn, Dave Matthews, Drea de Matteo, Keith Carradine (Written and directed by Perry Moore and Hunter Hill; Screen Media Films)

Sissy Spacek, who proved she is one of America’s finest actresses in such powerful films as “Badlands,” “Carrie,” “3 Women,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “Missing,” was at the very top of her form in “In the Bedroom,” the harrowing 2001 drama that cast her as a woman obsessed with nailing the murderer of her son, even if she had to do the deed herself. Now, in “Lake City,” Spacek is once again a tragically troubled mom. This time, her son Billy (Troy Garity, who in real life is the son of Jane Fonda) is running for his life, hoping to evade the drug dealer (Dave Matthews) who has been double-crossed by Billy’s gone-missing wife (Drea de Matteo). What does Billy do? He grabs his own young son and heads for the Virginia hills home of his estranged mother. Once there, he seems safe, at least for a while, from the deadly fury of the duped dope peddler. But how safe is Billy from the threat of memories of a dark, suffocating relationship with mama? Opens 11/7/08

LONELY HEARTS: John Travolta, James Gandolfini, Jared Leto, Salma Hayek, Laura Dern, Scott Caan, Alice Krige, Marc Macaulay, Dagmara Dmincyzk, Michael Gaston, Jay Amor (Written and directed by Todd Robinson; Millennium Films) This tale sounds repulsive enough to be true. And it is true. Based on actual grotesque characters and events (and “The Honeymoon Killers,” Leonard Kastle’s 1970 cult movie starring Shirley Stoler and Tony Lo Bianco), it tracks sickos Martha Beck and Raymond Martinez Fernandez on a serial-killing journey through the U.S. during the late forties. The film also follows the two crazed cops who are hot--but not always hot enough--on the crackpots’ trail. Fernandez--who began his shameful scam by writing to war widows, boasting of the steamy sex he can supply them, and then visiting and murdering them for their money--will be played by Jared Leto. Martha Beck was targeted as his victim but instead became his sexually voracious partner in slaughter and was making goo-goo eyes at him right up to the day in 1951 when they were executed, side by side, at Sing Sing. John Travolta and James Gandolfini, who have done their most striking film work as remorseless hit men in “Pulp Fiction” and “The Mexican,” respectively, play the tunnel-visioned lawmen. To read Variety's review of "Lonely Hearts," click here; for Guy Flatley's 1976 interview with John Travolta, click here. 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

MICHAEL CLAYTON: George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton, Sydney Pollack, Sean Cullen, Michael O’Keefe, Ken Howard, Austin Williams, David Zayas, Kevin Hagan, Pamela Gray, Amy Hargreaves, Heidi Armbruster, Christopher Mann, Jack Fitz (Written and directed by Tony Gilroy; Warner Bros.) A phone tapper and a hit man are just two of the bad boys who may feel at home at the prestigious New York law firm where attorney Michael Clayton (George Clooney) works. Clayton himself, the divorced father of a troubled boy, has conceivably schmoozed with these and other thugs during the 15 years he has performed legal miracles for his slippery, high-profile clients. One thing he learns for sure: more than one of these clients have not told him the entire truth about matters of life and death. And now, at a time of personal peril, Clayton is probably wondering why the lovely young attorney with whom he’s been having a clandestine affair is asking him so many deeply probing questions about his unlovely work history. This thriller marks the directorial debut of writer Tony Gilroy, whose screenplays include “Devil’s Advocate, ” “Proof of Life," "The Bourne Identity," "The Bourne Supremacy" and "The Bourne Ultimatum.” To read about more of George Clooney's upcoming films, click here and browse the C page of STAR TURNS. Now Playing

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 masterful direction of openly gay Gus Van Sant, Sean Penn plays Harvey Milk and Josh Brolin is Dan White. Opens 11/26/08

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

PERFUME: THE STORY OF A MURDERER
: Ben Whishaw, Dustin Hoffman, Alan Rickman, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Corinna Harfouch, Carmen Contreras, Sara Forestier, Birgit Minichmayr (Directed by Tom Tykwer; Written by Bernd Eichinger, Andrew Birkin and Tom Tykwer; DreamWorks) What if you didn’t have a scent in the world? Zilch body odor. Bet you’d feel funny and would do almost anything to work up some good old-fashioned b.o. But you might not go so far as Jean-Baptiste Grenouille did. He’s the 18th-century Parisian at the center of “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer,” Patrick Suskind’s best-selling 1985 horror novel. Even though Grenouille--played by budding Brit star Ben Whishaw under the direction of “Run Lola Run’s” Tom Tykwer--was nothing to sniff over, he did have something going for him: he had a profound sense of smell, a gift which made it possible for him to concoct a variety of enticing but dangerous perfumes. He wasn't experimenting with fragrances just for the money, however. Grenouille's true goal was to literally extract scents from numerous young women--25, to be exact--and, by way of a secret process and perhaps with a little help from oddball perfumer Giuseppe Baldini (Dustin Hoffman), convert those scents into his very own sweet smell. The down side of this elaborate scheme was that he had to kill the unfortunate ladies in order to accomplish his mission. What a stinker! Now Playing

THE PRESTIGE: Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, David Bowie (Directed by Christopher Nolan; Written by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan; Disney) As British director Christopher Nolan demonstrated in “Memento” and “Batman Begins,” he can be a fiendishly tricky filmmaker. And now he and Jonathan Nolan--his co-screenwriting brother--seem to be up to a bundle of clever new tricks. Set at the beginning of the twentieth century, this mystery, based on the novel by Christopher Priest, revolves around two talented, keenly competitive magicians (Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale) who will stop at nothing--perhaps not even murder--to best one another at the slippery game of magic. And we wouldn’t be surprised if that sly Scarlett Johansson works her own pesonal magic on both of these bloody blokes. Now Playing

PUBLIC ENEMIES: Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Channing Tatum, Billy Crudup, Marion Cotillard, 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. Opens 7/1/09

REDACTED: Kel O’Neill, Ty Jones, Daniel Stewart Sherman, Izzy Diaz, Rob Devaney, Patrick Carroll (Written and directed by Brian De Palma; Magnolia Pictures) In 1989, director Brian De Palma shocked audiences with “Casualties of War,” an uncompromising drama written by David Rabe, who based his screenplay on a New Yorker article by Daniel Lang. The true story, starring Sean Penn and Michael J. Fox, focused on four GIs who kidnap a Vietnamese woman, rape her, and then stab her to death. The war this time takes place in Iraq, and, once again, the events detailed by De Palma in "Redacted" are based on a horrific true story--the rape and murder of an Iraqi teenager and three members of her famly by four GIs. Now Playing

RIGHTEOUS KILL: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Carla Gugino, John Leguizamo, Donnie Wahlberg, 50 Cent, Brian Dennehy, Dan Futterman (Directed by Jon Avnet: Written by Russell Gewirtz; Overture Films) As anyone who saw “The Godfather Part II” knows, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino were terrific in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 masterwork. But they weren’t terrific together. That’s because De Niro appeared as the young Vito Corleone only in flashbacks and Pacino’s Michael remained very much in the present. They were terrific together, however, in Michael Mann’s “Heat” (1995), but only in the two brief scenes they shared. Well, that was then, and this is now. So you’ll see them together--and presumably terrific--throughout the entirety of this hardboiled thriller. What’s more, they’re even getting trendy, playing a pair of cops determined to capture a popular staple of the current movie scene--you guesed it, a serial killer! To read Guy Flatley’s 1973 interview with Robert De Niro, click here; for Guy’s 1973 interview with Al Pacino, click here. Now Playing

SHAME ON YOU: Dennis Quaid, Greg Kinnear (Written and directed by Dennis Quaid) Good old boy Spade Cooley was sometimes a bad old boy, most notably on the day in 1961 when he stomped, strangled and burned his wife Ella Mae to death in the presence of their daughter Melody. What madness drove the famed Western Swing fiddler to murder? You’ll find out a while after Quaid starts his cameras rolling on what he hopes will be a New Orleans location. Katie Holmes was set to play Ella Mae, but was forced to withdraw due to a dizzying schedule.Greg Kinnear, however, will be on hand as warbling cowboy Roy Rogers. To read about many more new biopics, click here. Opening date to be announced

SHOOT ‘EM UP: Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Monica Bellucci, Daniel Pilon, Julian Richings (Written and directed by Michael Davis; New Line) Mr. Smith (Clive Owen), a mysterious tough guy absurdly adept at using a raw carrot as a lethal weapon--that’s right, a raw carrot--whips into action against a hit man (Paul Giamatti) who is attempting to terminate a full-term pregnant prostitute. Before you can say “Hey, what’s up, Doc?," Mr. Smith delivers a baby and shoots away the umbilical cord with a handy pistol. Mom, however, is a goner. Soon, with the help of another hooker (Monica Bellucci), he has his hands full minding the instant orphan and dodging the deranged assassin whose pride, not to mention his skull, has been seriously wounded by that dead-on carrot. Imagine what Mr. Smith could do with a banana! 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.” Opening date to be announced

STATE OF PLAY: Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright Penn, Jason Bateman, Jeff Daniels, Harry J. Lennix (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. But Pitt thought the rewrite of Matthew Michael Carnahan's screenplay by Tony Gilroy, Peter Morgan and others was the pits. So he took a walk. But who needs Brad Pitt when they have Russell Crowe ready to roll? Here's the deal: Investigating the death of politician Stephen Collins’ mistress, reporter Cal McCaffrey (Crowe) discovers evidence that could prove the slick pol (Affleck) 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. Opens 4/17/09

STREET KINGS: Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie, Chris Evans, Common, The Game, Amauray Nolasco, Naomie Harris, Jay Mohr (Written and directed by David Ayer; Fox Searchlight) The corrupt cop who takes the law into his own hands in order to advance a personal agenda is no stranger to our urban society. In his illicit scheme to play judge and executioner of people he has sworn to protect, he is the perfect poster boy for a new century that promises to be as cold-hearted as any the world has ever known. We’re thinking of the kind of murderous lawmen made so disturbingly real by Denzel Washington in “Training Day” (2001) and Kurt Russell in “Dark Blue” (2002), two uncompromising thrillers written by David Ayer. Now Ayer will direct his screenplay of another bad-cop story, this one based on an unpublished script by noir master James Ellroy. Keanu Reeves plays an LAPD officer who, at the time of the L.A. riots and the O.J. Simpson trial, is publicly shamed for his violent, unorthodox work habits. The switch here is that the man with a badge makes a huge effort to redeem himself. The question is, will his captain--played by Forest Whitaker--buy his act of contrition? Now Playing

SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Sacha Baron Cohen, Timothy Spall, Christopher Lee, Jamie Bower, Jayne Wisener, Laura Michelle Kelly, Ed Sanders, Michael N. Harbour, Peter Bowles, Anthony Head, Ian Burford (Directed by Tim Burton; Written by John Logan; DreamWorks and Paramount) From “Edward Scissorhands” to “Ed Wood,” Johnny Depp and his favorite director, Tim Burton, have never been afraid to come across as creepy. Even so, it’s a jolt to learn that their sixth collaboration will be “Sweeney Todd,” the film version of Stephen Sondheim’s 1979 musical about the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, an ex-con who slashes the throats of his customers in order to supply ingredients for the succulent pies to be baked and sold by his equally demonic mate (Helena Bonham Carter, whose casting surely had nothing to do with the fact that she is the mom of Billy-Ray Burton, son of the film's director). Sacha Baron Cohen, following the triumph of "Borat," is cast as Sweeney Todd's conniving rival barber. Sing out Sacha! 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 lethal hijacker, and James Gandolfini--on leave from Jersey--is the panicky Mayor of New York. Opens 6/12/09

TENDERNESS: Russel Crowe, Jon Foster, Sophie Traub, Laura Dern, Michael Kelly (Directed by John Polson; Written by Emil Stern; Lionsgate) A tough-but-sensitive New York cop (Russell Crowe) tries to achieve the proper balance in his handling of a moody teen-ager who may have murdered members of his own family while in an especially bad mood and is now getting too close for comfort to a runaway 16-year-old (Sophie Traub). The creepy lad is played by Jon Foster, the under-rated actor who was excellent as the boy who surrendered his virginity to Kim Basinger in “The Door in the Floor.” Opening date to be announced

VANTAGE POINT: Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver, Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, William Hurt (Directed by Pete Travis; Written by Barry Levy; Columbia Pictures) Why would anyone want to murder our commander in chief? British writer-director Gabriel Range answered that question in his controversial docudrama about the assassination of President Bush. Now Irish director Pete Travis is taking another shot, so to speak, at the chilling subject. Working from a screenplay by Barry Levy, Travis will depict the attempted killing of a future non-Bush U. S. president, to be played by William Hurt. The horrific event, photographed by a tourist, is replayed from the conflicting perspectives of five witnesses. Each recollection will occupy 15 minutes of screen time. Now Playing

THE WALKER: Woody Harrelson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Lauren Bacall, Lily Tomlin, Ned Beatty, Moritz Bleibtreu, Willem Dafoe, William Hope, Geff Francis, Steven Hartley, Mary Beth Hurt (Written and directed by Paul Schrader; Kintop Pictures) Woody is walking his baby back home. That’s right--Woody Harrelson plays Lauren (Baby) Bacall's gay escort in Paul Schrader’s new thriller, "The Walker," and he also frequently “walks” two other prominent Washington socialites, played by Lily Tomlin and Kristin Scott Thomas. When he’s not squiring these wives of wealthy politicians to social events, this son of a legendary senator is apt to be lunching and dishing with them, or perhaps joining them in a wicked game of canasta. Or he may have slipped off for a tryst with his main man, an intense German-Turkish paparazzo, (Moritz Bleibtreu, best known for “Run, Lola, Run”). But suddenly there is trouble in the walker’s paradise, and it involves the murder of a man having a hot affair with one of the wives (Scott Thomas). In an attempt to shield the adulteress from scandal, he makes the serious mistake of telling the police that it was he--not his gal pal-- who discovered the dead man’s body. Writer-director Paul Schrader, who gave us “American Gigolo” in 1980, has said that the central character in “The Walker” might be viewed as a speculation on how the sexual adventurer played by Richard Gere in that film might have aged. To read the Variety review of “The Walker,” click here; for Guy Flatley's 2001 interview with Willem Dafoe, click here. Now Playing

WANTED: Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman, Terence Stamp, Thomas Kretschmann, Chris Pratt (Directed by Timur Bekmambetov; Written by Derek Haas, Michael Brandt, Dean Georgaris and J. G. Jones; Universal) Following his standout turns in “The Last King of Scotland” and “Atonement,” James McAvoy plays a clueless young man who is stunned to learn his long-missing father has been murdered. As if that weren’t enough of a shock to handle, he is also informed that daddy was an extraordinarily accomplished assassin. So, naturally, McAvoy says yes when he’s invited to sign up with the old man’s former employers, and to take lessons from lethal champ Morgan Freeman in the fine art of killing. As for Angelina Jolie, anyone who caught her hit-woman act in “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” won’t be surprised if she teaches McAvoy a few tricks of her own. Opening date to be announced

WHITEOUT: Kate Beckinsale, Gabriel Macht, Columbus Short, Tom Skerritt, Alex O’Loughlin, Shawn Doyle, Patrick Sabongui, Nicolas Wright, Paula Jean Hixson, Nick Villarin (Directed by Dominic Sena; Written by Erich and Jon Hoeber; Warner Bros. ) Even though she is a bona fide U.S. Marshal in this adaptation of Greg Rucka’s graphic novels, Beckinsale is not what you would call a happy trooper. She’s had her share of sad times, so now she’s chosen to live a life of emotional isolation in Antarctica. But what’s this? A serial killer (a distinct novelty on this continent) is on the loose--and Kate must pull herself together and capture the rascal before the sun goes down (and stays down) for six months! Perhaps Antarctica was not the perfect choice for a drowsy getaway after all. Opens 9/11/09

ZODIAC: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards (Directed by David Fincher; Written by Jamie Vanderbilt; Warner Bros. and Paramount) David Fincher, who proved he knows all there is to know about coaxing audiences to pay the price of admission for nerve-shattering punishment in “Seven,” “Fight Club” and “Panic Room,” is at it again. This time he’s zeroing in on a true crime--make that crimes--story, the still unsolved mystery of the Zodiac, the fiendishly playful serial killer who deliberately left “clues” behind after murdering at least 37 San Franciscans during the 1960s and ‘70s. Based on Robert Graysmith's "Zodiac" and "Zodiac Unmasked: The Identity of America's Most Elusive Serial Killer Revealed," the thriller stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Graysmith, the young San Francisco Chronicle journalist who cut his reportorial teeth covering the grisly stages of the case. Gary Oldman plays Marvin Belli, the ace attorney who, in 1969, received a lengthy, revealing--but not revealing enough--Christmas greeting from the Zodiac. To read Diane Baroni's 2001 interview with Jake Gyllenhaal, click here. Now Playing