By Guy Flatley








Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo (Directed by David O. Russell; Written by Paul Attanasio and Lewis Colick; Paramount)

Here come Micky and Dickie. And we do mean Micky Ward and Dickie Eklund. As an avid sports fan, you undoubtedly know that hard-punching “Irish” Micky Ward from Lowell, Massachusetts, played here by Mark Wahlberg, was a wow in the ring during the 1990s, thanks largely to the wise coaching of his half-brother Dickie, a former boxer who lost a battle with drugs, did time in the pen, and became an exemplary inmate before his release. The role of this tricky Dickie, originally assigned to Matt Damon and then to Brad Pitt, was eventually entrusted to Christian Bale. Amy Adams portrays a spirited bartender who serves Irish Micky much more than a brew or two, and Melissa Leo plays the fiercely domineering boss of a tangled brood. Now Playing






Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall, Blake Lively, Pete Postlethwaite, Chris Cooper (Directed by Ben Affleck; Written by Ben Affleck, Peter Craig and Aaron Stockard; Warner Bros. Pictures)

Having made a striking directorial debut with “Gone Baby Gone,” the harrowing 2007 thriller starring his kid brother Casey, Ben Affleck recently decided he was ready for his own close-up. So he took on the weighty challenge of directing, co-writing and starring in “The Town,” an adaptation of Chuck Hogan’s tension-packed crime novel “Prince of Thieves.“ In the film, Affleck plays Doug MacRay, a tough dude who, like his best buddies in Charleston, a blue-collar section of Boston, grooves on robbing banks and armored cars, routinely terrorizing innocent bystanders in the process.

Yet MacRay is not all thug. More and more, his daydreams revolve around life in the slow lane of 9-to-5 employment and connubial cuddling with Claire (Rebecca Hall), a potentially dangerous witness to one of his uglier assaults. Sometimes people decide to make their daydreams come true, but that is not likely to be the real deal for MacRay, whose sense of loyalty to old friends is strong and seemingly unwavering. Besides, if he decides to go legit, he has reason to believe his trigger-happy colleagues in crime--especially "Hurt Locker's" Jeremy Renner as an itchy-fingered gun lover--among them “Mad Men’s” Jon Hamm and “Hurt Locker’s” Jeremy Renner--will brand him a traitor and show him no mercy. So will it be a case of “Stick to Your Own Kind”? Or “Gone MacRay Gone”? Now Playing


Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, Kevin Costner, Maria Bello, Craig T. Nelson Rosemarie DeWitt, John Dorman, Liam Ferguson, Dana Eskelson, Tonye Patano, Scott Winters, Candy Huffman (Written and directed by John Wells)

How's this for typecasting? Three first-rate actors who do not get as many gigs as they deserve are starring as a trio of macho, blithely confident employees abruptly sacked by the hot-to-downsize honchos of a Massachusetts shipbuilding firm.

Not that you should think of these wannabe careerists played here by Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones and Chris Cooper as the brethren of the low-level laborers so triumphantly terminated by George Clooney in “Up in the Air.” Ben, Tommy Lee and Chris are—make that were—lavishly paid executives thoroughly accustomed to a life of luxury. That's why having to make do without mansions, pools, Porsches, country clubs, sybaritic getaways and marketable resumes is such a bummer for them.

If the rapturous response to this ripped-from-the-headlines flick at the 2010 Sundance Festival is a sign of things to come, ace TV writer-director John Wells, making his big-screen debut, and his three key players (plus Kevin Costner as a savvy survivor of the economic storm), will soon find themselves at the top of the Hollywood job heap. Now Playing






Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson, Jessica Alba, Simon Baker, Bill Pullman, Ned Beatty, Elias Koteas, Liam Aiken, Rosa Pasquarella (Directed by Michael Winterbottom; Written by John Curran; IFC)

“I don’t understand how Sundance could book this movie,” raged a woman in the audience at the 2010 Sundance Festival screening of the nerve-blasting adaptation of Jim Thompson’s novel about a psychopathic, murderous Texas deputy sheriff who moonlights as a specialist in the savaging of beautiful young women. “How dare you?," the offended viewer went on. "How dare Sundance?”

The auteur who dared to rattle quite a few Sundance movie buffs is Michael Winterbottom, whose credits include “Butterfly Kiss,” “Jude,” “Wonderland,” “24 Hour Party People,” “Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story,” “The Road to Guantanamo” and “A Mighty Heart.” This noir shocker, marking the British director’s U.S. film debut, stars the increasingly unnerving Casey Affleck as super-creepy villain Lou Ford and features Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson as two of his grotesquely brutalized victims.

What, you might well wonder, made Ford the insatiable sadist that he is? And how much longer will this lawman continue to stir up his own private crime wave? See “The Killer in Me” and find out. If you dare. Now Playing


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 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








Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Teri Polo, Blythe Danner, Owen Wilson, Jessica Alba, Harvey Keitel, Laura Dern, Raven-Symone (Directed by Paul Weitz; Written by John Hamburg and Victoria Strouse; Universal Pictures)

They’re baaaack! We’re talking about the unstoppable Fockers--horny, long-in-the-tooth Bernie and his sex-therapist spouse Roz (Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand) and their incurably nerdy son (Ben Stiller). We’re also talking about the Byrnes clan, former CIA operative Bernie and his long-suffering wife (Robert De Niro and Blythe Danner) and their flaky daughter (Teri Polo), who has married the nerd of the Focker family and more or less glued her clan to his clan.

You may or may not be stunned to learn that the stickiest glue holding the families together is a precious, notably photogenic set of twins named Henry and Samantha. And if this installment of the lucrative franchise works out as expected, we may soon behold the blessed event of little Focker triplets! Now Playing








Naomi Watts, Anthony Hopkins, Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Freida Pinto, Anna Friel, Ewen Bremner, Lucy Punch, Carla Bruni, Pauline Collins, Christian McKay, Gemma Jones, Neil Jackson, Jim Piddock (Written and directed by Woody Allen; Sony Classics)

Woody’s latest flick, in which he does not appear, has its very own Facebook page. Here’s what it has to say about “Dark Stranger’s” story line. "A little romance, some sex, some treachery, and apart from that, a few laughs. The lives of a group of people, whose passions, ambitions and anxieties force them all into assorted troubles that run the gamut from ludicrous to dangerous.” Apparently the Facebook for "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" was overly optimistic. Woody's downbeat movie met tall, dark reviews and slender audiences. Now Playing





Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Patrick Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, Juliette Lewis, Thomas Robinson (Directed by Will Speck and Josh Gordon; Written by Allan Loeb; Miramax Films/Mandate Pictures)

At a madcap New York insemination party for a girl named Kassie, a drunken guy named Wally staggers into a bathroom and immediately overturns a crucial cup of sperm that’s been left there for Kassie’s use by a sober guy named Roland. What to do? Simple. To prevent Kassie from crying over Roland’s spilled sperm, Wally, impassioned by a magazine cover of Diane Sawyer, manages to fill the cup with his own seed before making a hasty, if unsteady, exit from the john. As you might imagine, complications ensue, some of them taking place in Minnesota and involving Kassie’s eccentric son Sebastian, and all of them aiming for the funny bone.

As you also might imagine, this mating-cute comedy is simply labeled “The Switch,” and Kassie, Wally and Roland are played by Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman and Patrick Wilson, each of whom would surely benefit from a switch to heavy drama as soon as possible. Now Playing





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 a former judge (and reputedly former alcoholic)--are not about to budge an inch when the determined young manager of the residence (Hayley Atwell) 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