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Star Turns--What You Should Know About The Current And Upcoming Projects Of Your Favorite Players

By Guy Flatley

D

WILLEM DAFOE

FIREFLIES IN THE GARDEN

 

 

 

 

 

Julia Roberts, Ryan Reynolds, Willem Dafoe, Emily Watson, Carrie-Anne Moss, Ioan Gruffudd, Hayden Panettiere, Cayden Boyd, Shannon Lucio, George Newbern, (Written and directed by Dennis Lee; Senator International)

Need proof that midwestern American families can be every bit as dysfunctional as the East Coast variety? You’re apt to find it in this semi-autobiographical drama by Dennis Lee, auteur of the well-received short, “Jesus Henry Christ.” The troubled, accident-prone Taylor clan--headed by dictatorial professor/wannabe writer Charles (Willem Dafoe) and relentlessly sacrificing mom Lisa (Julia Roberts)--suffer profusely, as do their kids, in the grim present, as well as in a string of painful incidents shown in flashback. Among the family’s favorite diversions: tormenting the titular fireflies in the garden and exploding fish on the Fourth of July. In charge of photographing all this tragic frivolity: Danny Moder, A.K.A. Julia Roberts’ husband. Opening date to be announced

MATT DAMON

THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU

Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery, Michael Kelly, Terence Stamp (Written and directed by George Nolfi; Universal)

For young, charismatic, squeaky-clean David Norris, played by Matt Damon, it was a strictly Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah time. Plenty of sunshine was coming his way every day. Not only did this charmed native of Brooklyn enjoy the lead in the New York race for Senate, but he had also glided into a relationship with a sizzling soulmate, a lovely and loving dancer named Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt).

That was then, but David’s now-time is definitely a downer. Who could have predicted that a secret from the wunderkind’s dark past would explode in the form of a disgusting photograph, dynamiting all White House daydreams, or that his twirling sweetie would inadvertently tango him into a trap that might well result in a double assassination?

George Nolfi, who wrote the screenplays for “Ocean’s Twelve” and “The Bourne Ultimatum,” makes his directorial bow with his own adaptation of “Adjustment Team,” an uncompromisingly sour sci-fi thriller by Philip K. Dick. But don’t bet on villainy triumphing over love in the last reel, despite the efforts of a slimy trio, played by Anthony Mackie, John Slattery and Terence Stamp, who insist that by hooking up with Elise, David has managed to jeopardize their precious, maniacal scheme to alter life as we know it on this planet. David and Elise may simply have to honeymoon in some other time and (outer) space. Now Playing


HEREAFTER

Matt Damon, Cecile De France, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jay Mohr, Lyndsey Marshal, Marthe Keller, Richard Kind, Mylene Jampanoi, Steve Schirripa, Jenifer Lewis (Directed by Clint Eastwood; Written by Peter Morgan; Warner Brothers)

Last year, Matt Damon was so beautifully directed by Clint Eastwood in “Invictus” that he received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor of 2009. This year, Damon—arguably the most subtle and versatile star on today’s American film scene—is apt to walk off with a Best Actor statuette for playing a mysterious, possibly supernatural, character in this offbeat thriller, which was helmed by Eastwood and written by Peter Morgan, author of “The Queen” and “Frost/Nixon.”

What exactly is it that's so special about George, the modest factory worker portrayed here by Damon? Mostly, it’s the fact that he can access individuals who’ve been dead for quite some time and even manage to have a heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul chat with them. But, in truth, George doesn’t treasure his psychic skills nor is he eager to put them at the service of troubled survivors. Still, when a young British boy asks him to contact his deceased twin or a beautiful journalist (Cecile De France) seeks his help in coping with the aftermath of a weird near-death experience caused by the 2004 Asian tsunami, how can George possibly say no? Now Playing

P.S. No is what a lot of critics said to Eastwood's religion lite drama. Damon's performance was well received, but not well enough for the always excellent actor to gain an Oscar nomination.

TRUE GRIT

Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Hailee Steinfeld, Barry Pepper, Paul Rae, Ed Corbin (Written and directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen; Paramount)

Hey, if Jeff Bridges could win an Oscar for his performance as a boozy, warbling country-western survivor in “Crazy Heart,” why shouldn’t he nab another one for playing a boozy, wobbling Old West lawman named Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit”?

After all, John Wayne, approaching the sunset of his career, bagged his one and only Oscar for his bigger than life performance as the ornery old Rooster in the 1969 film adaptation of the popular Charles Portis novel.

As the man chosen by 14-year-old Mattie Ross to round up the villains responsible for the murder of her dad, Duke wore a cowboy hat, an eye patch, duds that did not conceal his paunch, and a perpetual scowl. He weighed heavily on his horse and used tough, salty language to get his ideas across.

Under the guidance of Joel and Ethan Coen, the auteurs behind Bridges’ great turn in “The Big Lebowski,” the riding-high actor will be joined in his quest for a second statuette by Matt Damon as a Texas Ranger (a role played in the original film by singer Glen Campbell); Josh Brolin as a scumbag murderer; and Hailee Steinfeld as spunky Mattie, a colorful character that, sadly, did not turn out to be a starmaker for Kim Darby. Now Playing

MARGARET

Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, J. Smith-Cameron, Jeannie Berlin, Matthew Broderick (Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan; Fox Searchlight)

One of the funniest and most moving films of 2000 was “You Can Count on Me,” written and directed by playwright Kenneth Lonergan, whose biggest prior claim to movie fame was his screenwriting contribution to “Analyze This,” the Robert De Niro-Billy Crystal comedy released the year before. If you saw “You Can Count on Me,” you know that the tyro director drew astonishing performances from Laura Linney as a single mother, Mark Ruffalo as her screwed-up brother, and Matthew Broderick as the petty, despotic boss who unexpectedly becomes her red-hot lover, even though he is already married to a conspicuously pregnant bore.

Now Lonergan has ventured behind the camera again, this time as the director of his own screenplay about a Manhattan teenager with plenty of problems, not the least of which is her mom, a neurotic actress. Plus she is a bit unhinged about a bus accident she recently witnessed--an accident that may not have been an accident. The troubled teen is being played by Anna Paquin, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for “The Piano” when she was a mere tot. Maybe this time it will simply be a Best Actress Oscar.

But first the movie, which has been sitting mysteriously on the shelf for quite some time, has to be released—an embarrassment which has caused Lonergan to grumble in public. In his opinion, “Margaret” contains the best screenplay he has ever written, so why should it be hidden from view? Maybe we’ll be able to answer that question for ourselves one day. Opening date to be announced?

BLYTHE DANNER

LITTLE FOCKERS

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

PAUL DANO

GIGANTIC

Paul Dano, Zooey Deschanel, John Goodman, Jane Alexander (Directed by Matt Aselton; Written by Matt Aselton and Adam Nagata; Killer Films and Epoch Films)

Lots of warm-hearted, noble-intentioned folks yearn to adopt a child from China. But very few exhibit less parental potential than Brian, a New York mattress salesman who also harbors unrealistic dreams of a sleep-in relationship with Harriett, a red-hot Manhattanite. Will Brian get the girl and the baby, too? Possibly, if he can first manage to out-maneuver the maniacal homeless man who’s bent on terminating him.

Brian is being played by Paul Dano, who demonstrated his astonishing range as the semi-catatonic lad in “Little Miss Sunshine” and the shrieking religious fanatic in “There Will Be Blood.” Another bonus: the invariably wonderful Zooey Deschanel has been cast as Harriett. Opening date to be announced


VIOLA DAVIS

EAT PRAY LOVE

Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem, Dan 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, portrayed by Julia Roberts, will not say no if a suitable bachelor pops up somewhere along the way and pops the right question. Two of the presumably available gents encountered by the adventurous Elizabeth are a somewhat elderly mystic played by Richard Jenkins, who was Oscar-nominated a few seasons ago for his performance in "The Visitor," and a red-hot man of mystery played by super-cool Javier Bardem. Now Playing

ROSARIO DAWSON

UNSTOPPABLE

Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Dunn, Ethan Suplee, Kevin Corrigan, Lew Temple, Kevin Chapman, J.J. Miller, Jessy Schram, David Warshofsky (Directed by Tony Scott; Written by Mark Bomback; 20th Century Fox)

Stop me if you’ve heard or seen this one before. A train with numerous cars—some of them containing lethally explosive cargo—is suddenly speeding out-of-control through densely populated communities. Is there anyone on board capable of preventing massive death and dismemberment? Probably not. But wait a minute! What about this odd couple—an aging, but still cool, engineer, played by the ever-energetic Denzel Washington, and a youthful, new-on-the-job, notably surly conductor, played by rising screen hunk Chris Pine?

Can this twosome possibly bring a happy end to this long day’s choo-choo journey into a seemingly permanent night? Plop down the price of a ticket, hop aboard and find out for yourself. Now Playing

DANIEL DAY-LEWIS

NINE

Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Sophia Loren, Judi Dench, Stacy Ferguson (Directed by Rob Marshall; Written by Anthony Minghella and Michael Tolkin; Weinstein Company)

Who could forget “8 1⁄2,” the stunning 1963 film in which Marcello Mastroianni, under the direction of Federico Fellini, played a Felliniesque director who made more women than movies? Certainly, composer Maury Yeston and dramatist Arthur Kopit could not erase this classic from their memories. That’s why, in 1982, they came up with a Broadway musicalization of it starring the late, great Raul Julia as the womanizing auteur on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The show, called “Nine,” was successfully revived in 2003, showcasing the song-and-dance skills of Antonio Banderas.

And now, here comes the movie version of the hit musical, directed by Rob Marshall, who gave us “Chicago,” and starring Daniel Day Lewis, one of the few actors now working who could be ranked alongside Marcello Mastroianni. Penelope Cruz plays his mistress, Marion Cotillard, who triumphed as Edith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose,” is his shortchanged wife, Nicole Kidman is an actress who greatly inspires him, Kate Hudson is a fashion reporter who intrigues him, and Sophia Loren will presumably haunt him—and us--as the ghost of his Mama. Now Playing


ROBERT DE NIRO

LITTLE FOCKERS

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


BENICIO DEL TORO

SOMEWHERE

Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, Benicio Del Toro, Michelle Monaghan, Robert Schwartzman (Written And Directed By Sofia Coppola; Focus Features)

Johnny Marco, a hot, perpetually stoned movie star, is a more or less permanent resident of the Chateau Marmont, the trendy Hollywood hotel that proved to be the last stop for a drug-fogged John Belushi. Marco (played by Stephen Dorff, the mercurial performer best remembered as a very special nut case in John Waters’ “Cecil B. Demented” and as transvestite Candy Darling in Mary Harron’s “I Shot Andy Warhol”) whiles away his off-camera time popping pills and lazing about in his suite with a bevy of Playboy-style babes.

Then, suddenly and totally unannounced, his 11-year-old daughter Cleo—the product of his marriage gone haywire—pops up on Marco’s Marmont doorstep. And since the kid is played by Elle Fanning, the tyke who nearly swiped “The Door in the Floor” from Jeff Bridges in 2004, you can bet that sparks will fly between Fanning and Dorff in this exceptionally promising dad & daughter comedy-drama.

One reason to expect the unexpected in terms of narrative substance and cinematic style is the fact that “Somewhere” has been written and directed by the playfully subversive Sofia Coppola, an artist who managed to surprise and delight us with “The Virgin Suicides,” “Marie Antoinette” and, especially, “Lost in Translation.”

If you blink, you may miss cameo-playing Benicio Del Toro. Now Playing

JUDI DENCH

J. EDGAR

Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts, Judi Dench, Josh Lucas, Ken Howard (Directed by Clint Eastwood; Written by Dustin Lance Black; Warner Bros.)

J. Edgar Hoover, the much loved, much loathed co-founder and boss of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is played by Leonardo DiCaprio in this let-it-all-hang-out biopic. Under the direction of the preternaturally prolific Clint Eastwood, the film, which was written by Dustin Lance Black, the author of "Milk," will span many decades--from 1895 to 1972, the year Hoover died at the age of 77.

As a result, we will have the pleasure of seeing Dame Judi Dench play the youthful Hoover’s American-as-apple-pie mom, as well as Namoi Watts in the role of the aging Hoover's fiercely loyal secretary and Josh Lucas as Charles Lindbergh.

The most daring casting is perhaps that of Armie Hammer (the 24-year-old wonder who played both of the snooty, filthy-rich Winklevoss twins in “The Social Network”) in the part of Clyde Tolson, the FBI Associate Director who became Hoover's constant companion and sole heir.
And, according to various sources, he was the true love of bachelor Hoover’s life. There have indeed been rumors that Eastwood plans to shoot at least one close-up showing Hammer and DiCaprio enjoying a tender kiss. That should make their day. Opening date to be announced

CATHERINE DENEUVE

A CHRISTMAS TALE

Catherine Deneuve, Mathieu Amalric, Jean-Paul Russillon, Chiara Mastroianni, Emmanuelle Devos, Emile Berling, Anne Consigny, Laurent Capelluto, Hippolyte Girardot, Melvil Poupaud (Written and directed by Arnaud Desplechin; IFC Films)

Christmas is a time when scattered family members reunite, rejoice and count their numerous blessings. Well, that’s the way it goes with some families, but certainly not with the volatile clan that scrambles through Arnaud Desplechin’s thickly textured comedy-drama.

For starters, the elegant, demanding matriarch played by Catherine Deneuve has just received a grim diagnosis from her doctor, and it looks as if someone in the family will have to agree to a bone marrow transplant. The donor could even be her rottenly behaved son (Mathieu Amalric), who has been allowed on the premises for the first time in five years. Or maybe Maman’s life will be saved by her youngest son (Melvil Poupaud), a man who has been blessed--or is it cursed?--with a gorgeous wife (played by Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve’s real-life daughter). Now Playing

JOHNNY DEPP

RANGO

The voices of Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Stephen Root, Harry Dean Stanton, Ray Winstone, Ned Beatty, Timothy Olyphant (Directed by Gore Verbinski; Written by John Logan; Animation by Industrial Light and Magic; Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies

Welcome to the newly fashionable Old (True-Gritty) West. This is where you can view the wacky entry of a crazed but lovable lizard into a tattered town named Dirt. (Yes, we did say lizard and we did say Dirt.) As any experienced moviegoer can tell the second this grungy, animated creature delivers his first line of dialogue, he is being played by the inimitably goofy Johnny Depp. And, assuming you were knocked silly by this super-prankster’s over-the-top emoting in director Gore Verbinski’s trio of “Pirates of the Caribbean” flicks, you are apt to enjoy watching him stumble here into the job of sheriff and boldly rise to the challenge of cleaning up all that Dirt.

Why is that? Because Verbinski is also the auteur behind this sagebrush cartoon. But sometimes, even in Hollywood, enough is truly enough, so it may be worth noting that the fourth installment of the astonishingly lucrative “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise—“On Stranger Tides,” opening on May 20 and teaming Depp with Penelope Cruz—has been directed not by Verbinski but by Rob Marshall, who last served up the tepid, under-stuffed musical turkey known as “Nine.”

As for Gore Verbinski’s cinematic future, he might want to consider revisiting his past by doing a sequel to his underrated “The Mexican,” a blood-drenched comic thriller starring James Gandolfini as a robust, gay, exceedingly skilled hit man who hooks up with Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts as a fumbling wannabe crook and his despairing girlfriend. It’s just a thought.

On the other hand, given the fact that “Rango” opened with a huge box-office bang, Verbinski’s “Rango 2” may be just around the multiplex corner.
Now Playing


PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES

Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane, Judi Dench, Stephen Graham, Gemma Ward, Richard Griffiths, Oscar Jaenada, Sam Claflin, Keith Richards (Directed by Rob Marshall; Written by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio; Walt Disney Picture

Usually, Captain Jack Sparrow, as played by Johnny Depp with slapsticky bravado, does not have to look far to find trouble. But in this fourth installment of the apparently unstoppable franchise, he travels all the way back to his footloose youth and reignites a torrid relationship with Angelica, a red-hot heartbreaker played by Penelope Cruz. This take-charge babe, who may or may not be the daughter of the villainous pirate named Blackbeard (Ian McShane), not-so-gently persuades Sparrow to set sail with her in search of the Fountain of Youth.

Just remember, if they succeed in their mission, we moviegoers will be stuck with them forever and ever and ever. Opens 5/20


DARK SHADOWS

Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jackie Earle Haley, Bella Heathcote (Directed by Tim Burton; Written by Seth Grahame-Smith; Columbia Pictures)

Remember that incorrigible, insatiable Barnabas Collins, the drooling, eye-rolling, scheming vampire who tended to make the other fruitcake members of the Collins clan look nearly sane by comparison? If you do remember Barnabas, it's probably because, like a lot of children in the rebellious sixties, you played hooky to stay home and watch him misbehave in “Dark Shadows,” one of the highest of high-camp gothic soaps ever to play on daytime TV.
 
Well, Barnabas and the whole bloody Collins brood will be back playing the sucking game in  this makeover from Tim Burton, who will once again guide his favorite actor and actress, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, through excruciatingly tough turf. Bonham Carter, who is director Burton's real-life soulmate, is cast as Gr. Julia Hoffman, a femme fatale undoubtedly capable of keeping Barnabas's blood pressure up to snuff. Let’s hope that all three parties have as much fun here as they did in “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” 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; FilmDistrict)

It’s been 13 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? Opens 10/28/11

ZOOEY DESCHANEL

GIGANTIC

Paul Dano, Zooey Deschanel, John Goodman, Jane Alexander (Directed by Matt Aselton; Written by Matt Aselton and Adam Nagata; Killer Films and Epoch Films)


Lots of warm-hearted, noble-intentioned folks yearn to adopt a child from China. But very few exhibit less parental potential than Brian, a New York mattress salesman who also harbors unrealistic dreams of a sleep-in relationship with Harriett, a red-hot Manhattanite. Will Brian get the girl and the baby, too? Possibly, if he can first manage to out-maneuver the maniacal homeless man who’s bent on terminating him.

Brian is being played by Paul Dano, who demonstrated his astonishing range as the semi-catatonic lad in “Little Miss Sunshine” and the shrieking religious fanatic in “There Will Be Blood.” Another bonus: the invariably wonderful Zooey Deschanel has been cast as Harriett. Opening date to be announced

DANNY DEVITO

SOLITARY MAN

Michael Douglas, Susan Sarandon, Danny DeVito, Mary-Louise Parker, Jenna Fischer, Jesse Eisenberg, Imogen Poots, David Costabile (Directed by David Levien and Brian Koppelman; Written by Brian Koppelman; Anchor Bay Films)

Some men cheat on their wives. Some men cheat on their wives by attempting to rekindle a relationship with their ex-wives. Some men even cross a dangerous line with the nubile daughters of their latest wives. And, forgetting women for a second, it’s true that some men are at their most untrustworthy in the cold-blooded pursuit of big bucks.

Rarely does all of the above apply to one solitary man. But, happily, Ben Kalman, the mendacious car salesman and dedicated womanizer superbly played by Michael Douglas in this wickedly dark comedy, is a notable exception. And he deserves a round of applause from all serious moviegoers. Now Playing


ROSEMARIE DEWITT

THE COMPANY MEN

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


CAMERON DIAZ

KNIGHT AND DAY

Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Paul Dano, Maggie Grace, Marc Blucas, Viola Davis, Olivier Martinez (Directed by James Mangold; Written by Patrick O’Neill; Twentieth Century-Fox)


The last time Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz hooked up on screen Tom was a love-her-and-leave-her narcissist who dumped Cameron the second sizzly Penelope Cruz cruised his way. Understandably, this sexual dismissal sent Cameron into a prolonged pout, which is why she offered her straying stud a ride home late one evening after he’d kissed Penelope goodnight. Scarcely giving the cad a chance to fasten his seat belt, his embittered ex pressed her foot to the pedal and headed for the nearest bridge, where she swiftly executed a four-wheel suicide-and-murder dive into the water below. For Cameron, it worked; for Tom, the results were ghastly disfigurement and a hellish new way of life.

The year was 2001, and the movie, as connoisseurs of cinematic kitsch well know, was “Vanilla Sky.” But that was then, and this is what we have now: a brand new, sunnier, if not funnier, flick called “Knight and Day.” On this occasion, Tom and Cameron play a cuddly, secretive couple who take to the road and to the air, from Kansas to Massachusetts to Austria to Spain, in a frantic attempt to dodge various no-nonsense assassins and to live zanily ever after. (Let’s hope Tom is at the wheel this time.) Now Playing

LEONARDO DiCAPRIO

J. EDGAR

Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts, Judi Dench, Josh Lucas, Ken Howard (Directed by Clint Eastwood; Written by Dustin Lance Black; Warner Bros.)

J. Edgar Hoover, the much loved, much loathed co-founder and boss of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is played by Leonardo DiCaprio in this let-it-all-hang-out biopic. Under the direction of the preternaturally prolific Clint Eastwood, the film, which was written by Dustin Lance Black, the author of "Milk," will span many decades--from 1895 to 1972, the year Hoover died at the age of 77.

As a result, we will have the pleasure of seeing Dame Judi Dench play the youthful Hoover’s American-as-apple-pie mom, as well as Naomi Watts in the role of the aging Hoover's fiercely loyal secretary and Josh Lucas as Charles Lindbergh.

The most daring casting is perhaps that of Armie Hammer (the 24-year-old wonder who played both of the snooty, filthy-rich Winklevoss twins in “The Social Network”) in the part of Clyde Tolson, the FBI Associate Director who became Hoover's constant companion and sole heir.

And, according to various sources, he was the true love of bachelor Hoover’s life. There have indeed been rumors that Eastwood plans to shoot at least one close-up showing Hammer and DiCaprio enjoying a tender kiss. That should make their day. Opening date to be announced


THE RISE OF THEODORE ROOSEVELT

Leonardo DiCaprio (Directed by Martin Scorsese; Written by Nicholas Meyer; Paramount)

Leo for president? Why the hell 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! Opening date to be announced

MATT DILLON

NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH

Kate Beckinsale, Vera Farmiga, Matt Dillon, Angela Bassett, Alan Alda, David Schwimmer, Noah Wyle, Floyd Abrams, Rod Lurie, Alik Sakharove, Eloise Stammerjohn, Courtney B. Vance (Written and directed by Rod Lurie; Yari Film Group Releasing)

An uncompromising reporter for a Washington, D. C. newspaper causes a national ruckus by writing a red-hot political expose and, in the process, outing a covert CIA operative (Vera Farmiga). Because she refuses to reveal the identity of the confidential source for her story, the reporter, played by Kate Beckinsale, is ordered to pay for her silence with a stretch in the pen (shades of The New York Times’ Judith Miller).

Writer-director Rod Lurie, best known for “The Contender,” a topical, arguably paranoiac thriller starring Jeff Bridges and Joan Allen that created a stir in 2000, penned a minor role for himself in this high-tension drama, and his fellow performers include Matt Dillon as a scheming prosecuting attorney, David Schwimmer as the husband of the "my lips are sealed" scribe, and Angela Bassett as her supportive editor. Now Playing


STEPHEN DORFF


SOMEWHERE

Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, Benicio Del Toro, Michelle Monaghan, Robert Schwartzman (Written And Directed By Sofia Coppola; Focus Features)

Johnny Marco, a hot, perpetually stoned movie star, is a more or less permanent resident of the Chateau Marmont, the trendy Hollywood hotel that proved to be the last stop for a drug-fogged John Belushi. Marco (played by Stephen Dorff, the mercurial performer best remembered as a very special nut case in John Waters’ “Cecil B. Demented” and as transvestite Candy Darling in Mary Harron’s “I Shot Andy Warhol”) whiles away his off-camera time popping pills and lazing about in his suite with a bevy of Playboy-style babes.

Then, suddenly and totally unannounced, his 11-year-old daughter Cleo—the product of his marriage gone haywire—pops up on Marco’s Marmont doorstep. And since the kid is played by Elle Fanning, the tyke who nearly swiped “The Door in the Floor” from Jeff Bridges in 2004, you can bet that sparks will fly between Fanning and Dorff in this comedy-drama.

One reason to expect the unexpected in terms of narrative substance and cinematic style is the fact that “Somewhere” has been written and directed by the playfully subversive Sofia Coppola, an artist who managed to surprise and delight us with “The Virgin Suicides,” “Marie Antoinette” and, especially, “Lost in Translation.” Now Playing


MICHAEL DOUGLAS

WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS

Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Josh Brolin, Carey Mulligan, Susan Sarandon, Eli Wallach, Frank Langella, Charlie Sheen, Banessa Ferlito, Donald Trump (Directed by Oliver Stone; Written by Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff)


The fact that greedy Gordon Gekko—played here again by Michael Douglas--is finally out from behind bars doesn’t mean he’s a reformed man. Nor do his new pals, played by Shia LaBeouf and Josh Brolin, walk a straight and narrow line in their rabid quest for big bucks. Ditto for Gekko’s former colleague Bud Fox, acted once more by Charlie Sheen.

Any similarity between the scheming depicted here and the recent real-life theft and deceit practiced on Wall Street is strictly intentional on the part of director Oliver Stone, the man responsible for the 1989 original. Now Playing

SOLITARY MAN

Michael Douglas, Susan Sarandon, Danny DeVito, Mary-Louise Parker, Jenna Fischer, Jesse Eisenberg, Imogen Poots, David Costabile (Directed by David Levien and Brian Koppelman; Written by Brian Koppelman; Anchor Bay Films)

Some men cheat on their wives. Some men cheat on their wives by attempting to rekindle a relationship with their ex-wives. Some men even cross a dangerous line with the nubile daughters of their latest wives. And, forgetting women for a second, it’s true that some men are at their most untrustworthy in the cold-blooded pursuit of big bucks.

Rarely does all of the above apply to one solitary man. But, happily, Ben Kalman, the mendacious car salesman and dedicated womanizer superbly played by Michael Douglas in this wickedly dark comedy, is a notable exception. And he deserves a round of applause from all serious moviegoers. Now Playing

KNOCKOUT

Gina Carano, Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas, Bill Angarano, Mathieu Kassovitz (Directed by Steven Soderbergh; Written by Lem Dobbs; Lionsgate)

Can a stunner celebrated for her Martial Arts achievements make the tricky jump to major movie stardom? We’ll find out when this globe-hopping thriller from ever-innovative Steven Soderbergh descends on our local cineplex. At the center of the intrigue and action is agile Gina Carano, playing secret agent Mallory Kane, a woman who thinks nothing at all about breaking local laws, sometimes lethally, as she flits from tight spot to tight spot, including dark alleys in Spain, Ireland and, yes, the USA.

But, wouldn’t you just know that Our Gal Mal is headed for a heap of deep trouble? It comes in the form of a nasty double-cross, one that is probably engineered by some villainous male. Among the suspects are the gents played by Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas and Antonio Banderas. Opening date to be announced

ROBERT DOWNEY JR.

IRON MAN 2

Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, Samuel L. Jackson, Clark Gregg, John Slattery, Gary Shandling, Christiane Amanpopur, Bill O’Reilly (Directed by Jon Favreau; Written by Justin Theroux; Paramount Pictures)

Following his smashing 2008 debut, playful but tough Tony Stark is back, and once again the Marvel comic hero with the high-tech heart is being played by the unaplogetically over-the-top Robert Downey Jr. This time, the aggressive altruist is joined by another Iron Man, an Army Colonel played by Don Cheadle, as well as a battery of good and bad guys and girls that includes Gwyneth Paltrow as spicy Pepper Potts, San Rockwell as an unscrupulous defense contractor, Scarlett Johansson as an intensely athletic spy, Mickey Rourke as a mad Russian scientist and Samuel L. Jackson as a loose cannon named Nick Fury. All this, and Christiane Amanpour and Bill O’Reilly, too! Now Playing

DAVID DUCHOVNY

THE X FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE

David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Amanda Peet, Billy Connolly, Xzibit, Mitch Pileggi (Directed by Chris Carter; Written by Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz; Fox)

Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, the (very) special agents and occasional lovers who attained cult status on TV and then, in 1998, on film, are back in a long-overdue new big-screen installment of “The X-Files.” Happily, Mulder and Scully are again being played by the magnetic combo of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, and they will undoubtedly rekindle that old spark, either here on earth or on some other thrill-packed planet. Joining them will be Billy Connolly as an irreverent man of the cloth, plus Amanda Peet and Xzibit as a flashy pair of FBI agents. Now Playing

KIRSTIN DUNST

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. Now Playing


ROBERT DUVALL

GET LOW

Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray, Lucas Black, Gerald McRaney, Bill Cobbs, Scott Cooper, Lorie Beth Edgeman (Directed by Aaron Schneider; Written by Chris Provenzano and C. Gaby Mitchell; Sony Pictures Classics)


Some people love a parade; others love a carnival or maybe a wedding. And then there’s the rare bird who loves a funeral, such as Felix Bush, the elderly, irascible—some said menacing--loner who emerged from his backwoods Tennessee home one day during the Great Depression with the wacky goal of finding somebody to give him a festive, folksy funeral, replete with music, booze, and cash prizes. All this while Felix was still among the living.

Sound a bit far-fetched? Well, according to the makers of “Get Low,” it’s all true, based on events in the life of an eccentric whose proper name was Felix Breazeale and who did manage to celebrate his own fun-filled send-off from our prosaic planet with mischievous, surprisingly raunchy panache.

Critics who voted thumbs up on this sleeper did so largely because of the solid, in-depth performances by veterans Robert Duvall as the cantankerous but vulnerable Felix, Bill Murray as the crafty, highly unorthodox director of the local funeral parlor, and Sissy Spacek as a sweet yet sassy widow who once made the mistake of letting Felix fly off on his own. Now Playing