THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Kathy Bates, John Cleese, Jaden Smith, Aaron Douglas (Directed by Scott Derrickson; Written by David Scarpa; Fox) Sometimes an alien’s best friend on earth is the robot he brought along for the ride from outer space, a fact that was impressively illustrated in “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” Robert Wise’s stylish 1951 sci-fi flick. Now Keanu Reeves takes on Michael Rennie’s role of a gentle visitor from another planet who strives to make the world a safe place for Jennifer Connelly, who follows in Patricia Neal’s footsteps as a frantic young mom, and Jon Hamm, the sensation of TV's "Mad Men," plays a mystified NASA investigator. Click here to read about more new remakes. Now Playing


CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Rachel Nichols, John Slattery, Om Puri (Directed by Mike Nichols; Written by Aaron Sorkin; Universal) Sometimes Texas politicians misbehave on a lavish scale--no, we’re not talking about Tom DeLay or Alberto Gonzales. The congressman in question here is Representative Charles Wilson, a boozer who was caught not only in his cups, but also in a Las Vegas hot tub with a couple of coke-sniffing party girls. That was early in the eighties, and for a while it looked like a long goodbye for the man once known as Good Time Charlie. But eventually Wilson staged a comeback as a crackerjack CIA agent, a major player in the expulsion of the Russians from Afghanistan. And now the guy’s a D.C. lobbyist! Tom Hanks hasn’t had this much fun since playing with all those wonderful toys in “Big.” And Julia Roberts, who had fun of a darker kind under Mike Nichols' direction in "Closer," plays Joanne Herring, the powerhouse Texas socialite who persuades Charlie Wilson to turn over a new leaf. Hoffman plays a CIA honcho. Now Playing


SEVEN POUNDS: Will Smith, Woody Harrelson, Rosario Dawson, Madison Pettis, Barry Pepper, Michael Ealy, Steve Tom, Elpidia Carrillo (Directed by Gabriele Muccino; Written by Grant Nieporte; Columbia) Multi-talented Will Smith targets our tear ducts in this tale of an IRS agent who is so overcome by guilt for the vile deeds of his past that he vows to put some joy in the lives of seven seriously suffering individuals. One is a blind pianist, played by Woody Harrelson; another is a perilously ill yet deeply seductive beauty, played by Rosario Dawson. You should probably be warned that this improbable story-line is not what "Seven Pounds" is really all about. In any event, you'd be best advised to bring along a hanky. Better make that two. Now Playing


TEXAS LULLABY: Josh Hartnett, Ellen Barkin, John Malkovich, Alison Lohman, Tom Waits (Directed by Malcolm Venville; Written by Steve Allison; Alturus Films) Something is rotten in the state of Texas. A young man (Josh Hartnett) is distraught because his father died mysteriously and his widowed mother (Ellen Barkin) has wed her late husband’s brother (John Malkovich), who happens to be the local sheriff. The son is so upset that he is now considering suicide. To be or not to be--that is the question to which we’re pretty sure we know the answer. Opening date to be announced


RACHEL GETTING MARRIED: Anne Hathaway, Debra Winger, Bill Irwin, Rosemarie DeWitt, Tunde Adebimpe, Anna Deavere Smith, Dorian Missick, Tamyra Gray, Daphne Rubin-Vega (Directed by Jonathan Demme; Written by Jenny Lumet; Sony Pictures Classics) In 1983, director James Brooks skillfully explored the complicated relationship between an impetuous, disorderly rebel and her sweet, impeccably behaved daughter. Both Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger received Academy Award nominations for Best Actress of 1983, and mama MacLaine took home the Oscar. Now, 25 years later, esteemed director Jonathan Demme is focusing on another intriguing mother-daughter combo in “Rachel Getting Married.” This time, it’s Debra Winger who plays mom, a divorcee on the verge of reconnecting with her estranged daughter, a neurotic ex-model recently released from rehab and on her way home for her sister’s wedding. Perhaps Winger, whose career could stand a little rehabilitation, will finally nab her Oscar--though it’s possible the big winner could be Anne Hathaway, who no doubt welcomed the chance to soil her squeaky clean image in the role of Winger’s wayward sprout. Now Playing


BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney, Marisa Tomei, Rosemary Harris, Brian F. O’Byrne, Marcia Jean Kurtz, Michael Shannon (Directed by Sidney Lumet; Written by Kelly Masterson; ThinkFilm) If you’re so strapped for cash that masterminding a robbery seems your best solution, doesn’t it make perfect sense to target your Mom and Pop’s jewelry shop, thereby keeping things more or less in the family? That’s the shaky rationale of Andy (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Hank (Ethan Hawke), the desperate brothers in this thriller from Sidney Lumet. If “Devil” turns out to be classier and more complex than it sounds, it will probably be because the 83-year-old Lumet--whose meticulous studies of people accussed of breaking the law include “12 Angry Men,” “Fail Safe,” “The Anderson Tapes,” “The Offence,” “Serpico,” “Murder on the Orient Express,” “Dog Day Afternoon,” “Prince of the City,” “The Verdict,” “Gloria” and “Find Me Guilty”--has not lost the knack for making celluloid crime pay. Now Playing


LONELY HEARTS: John Travolta, James Gandolfini, Salma Hayek, Jared Leto, Laura Dern, Scott Caan, Alice Krige, Marc Macaulay, Dagmara Dmincyzk, Michael Gaston, Jay Amor (Written and directed by Todd Robinson; Lonely Hearts Productions) 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 more new murderpix, click here. 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


LITTLE FOCKERS: Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Teri Polo, Blythe Danner (Directed by Jay Roach; Written by Larry Stuckey; Universal) They’re baaaack! We’re talking about the unstoppable Fockers--horny, long-in-the-tooth hippies Bernie and Roz (Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand) and their terminally nerdy son (Ben Stiller). We’re also talking about the Byrnes clan, former CIA operative Bernie and his uptight wife (Robert De Niro and Blythe Danner) and their flaky daughter (Teri Polo), who has more or less glued the family to the Fockers. Who knows what the future holds for members of this lucrative franchise, but the title does give one the sinking feeling that we’ll be present at the birth of a whole flock of Fockerettes. To read Guy Flatley's 1973 interview with Robert De Niro, click here; for Guy's 1973 interview with Barbra Streisand, click here; and for Diane Baroni's 2000 interview with Teri Polo, click here. Opens in February 2008



DOUBT: Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Viola Davis, Lloyd Clay Brown, Joseph Foster (Written and directed by John Patrick Shanley; Miramax Films) We’ve come a long way since Father Bing Crosby and Sister Ingrid Bergman radiated respect and sexless affection for one another in “The Bells of St. Mary’s.” In “Doubt,” Meryl Streep plays Sister Aloysius, a probing, dictatorial nun who strikes a shattering blow to affable Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman), her popular colleague at a parochial grade school in the Bronx, circa 1964. If you’ve seen John Patrick Shanley’s 2004 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, you know that the oppressively vigilant Sister Aloysius, troubled by what she considers Father Flynn’s dangerously close relationship with a black male student, accuses him of sexual molestation. Before long, life becomes holy hell for Father and Sister alike. By the way, Crosby and Bergman both received Oscar nominations for their performances in "The Bells of St. Mary's." Can you possibly doubt that "Doubt" will provide a similar springboard for Streep and Hoffman? To read Diane Baroni's 2002 interview with Amy Adams, click here. Now Playing


NINE: Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Nicole Kidman, Stacy Ferguson, Kate Hudson, Sophia Loren, Judi Dench (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. Opens 11/25/09


THEN SHE FOUND ME: Helen Hunt, Bette Midler, Colin Firth, Matthew Broderick (Written and directed by Helen Hunt; Killer Films) Bet you didn’t know that Oscar-winning actress Helen Hunt is also a writer and director. At least, she’s written this adaptation of Elinor Lipman’s comic novel, and she plays the central role of a schoolteacher whose husband (Matthew Broderick) decides to drop out of their marriage. But the really sad thing that happens is that her mom dies. And perhaps saddest of all is the decision of her birth mother, who abandoned her 36 years ago, to move in with--and perform a makeover on--Helen. Unlike the prim lady who raised Helen, this TV talk-show hostess, played by Bette Midler, is a total flake, a woman who doesn’t hesitate to put the moves on a charmer (Colin Firth) to whom her daughter has recently been introduced by a thoughtful student. Now Playing


CHOKE: Sam Rockwell, Anjelica Huston, Kelly Macdonald, Brad William Henke, Clark Gregg, Joel Grey, Bijou Phillips, Willi Burke (Written and directed by Clark Gregg; Fox Searchlight) A boy’s best friend is not always his mother, and that’s very much the case in this adaptation of "Choke," the novel by Chuck Palahniuk, cult author of "Fight Club." Yet, even though sicko lawbreaker Ida Mancini (Anjelica Huston) has always been cruel in her treatment of her son Victor (Sam Rockwell), the loyal lad foots the bill for her stay in a bizarre institution for women suffering from dementia. But how does he come up with the money, considering the fact that he is paid a mere pittance for his labors in a Colonial American theme park? Easy--he dines in elegant restaurants, pretends to be choking to death on his gourmet meal and then fleeces the sap who steps in to perform the Heimlich Maneuver. And, in his spare time, the orgasm-obsessed Victor attends 12-step meetings for sex addicts with Denny (Brad William Henke), his masturbation-crazed best friend. Meanwhile, mom's nurse (Kelly Macdonald) is hatching a scheme whereby an unsuspecting Victor will sire her child. Click here to read about more new movies based on books. Now Playing