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WHO SAYS THERE ARE NO ROLES FOR WOMEN OVER 50?

Just try telling that to any of these in-demand actresses who've passed the half-century mark. Below, a few of their current and upcoming films.

LAUREN BACALL

BORN 9/16/24 NEW YORK, NEW YORK

THE WALKER

Woody Harrelson, Lauren Bacall, Kristin Scott Thomas, 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 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 adultress 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. Now Playing

ELLEN BARKIN

BORN 4/16/54 NEW YORK, NEW YORK

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

KATHY BATES

BORN 6/28/48

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Michael Sheen, Carla Bruni (Written and directed by Woody Allen)


In the oddball 1996 musical comedy "Everyone Says I Love You," Woody Allen was a conspicuously uncomfortable American in Paris. Indeed, none of his American fellow-travelers--including Goldie Hawn, Edward Norton, Drew Barrymore and Natalie Portman--seemed to be having much fun in the City of Light. Now, in "Midnight in Paris, Woody won't have to worry about looking out of place. That's because, as usual these days, the writer-director will not be performing in his own film.

And even though his latest comedy-drama already has a title—a rarity for an Allen project yet to go before the camera—we still know very little about the plot, except that it deals with various members of a family who discover some surprising truths about themselves while traveling abroad together.

Just imagine the epiphanies that chronically depressed clan in “Interiors” might have experienced on a trip to Gay Paree!
Opening date to be announced

ANNETTE BENING

BORN 5/29/58 TOPEKA, KANSAS

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT

Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, Josh Hutcherson, Kunal Sharma, Eddie Hassell, Zosia Mamet, Yaya Dacosta, Joaquin Garrido (Directed by Lisa Cholodenko; Written by Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg; Focus Features)


Jules (Julianne Moore) is a lovably flaky landscaper; Nic (Annette Bening), a distinguished doctor, is nice, too, but arguably more of a straight arrow. In many ways, they are a perfect pair. You could even say this affluent L.A. lesbian couple truly has it all, thanks, in large part, to Paul, a generous bachelor whose anonymous sperm donations, over the years, have made it possible for them to be the proud parents of a daughter and son, one of whom is about to become a college freshman.

So what could possibly go wrong? Simple. The kids have somehow managed to track down their biological pop and have decided to bring him home to finally meet his co-procreators. What follows is a wacky wave of shock, embarrassment, anger, frustration and fraternization, capped off with a totally unexpected burst of romance. Who could ask for anything more sitcomic? Now Playing


ELLEN BURSTYN

BORN 12/7/32 DETROIT, MICHIGAN

W.

Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks, Ioan Gruffudd, Thandie Newton, Richard Dreyfuss, Scott Glenn, Jeffrey Wright, Ellen Burstyn, James Cromwell, Rob Corddry, Toby Jones, Michael Gaston (Directed by Oliver Stone; Written by Stanley Weiser; Lionsgate)

 

In case you’re having trouble sorting through the merits and flaws of the Junior Bush administration, Oliver Stone lends you a hand with “W.” This inevitably absurdist extravaganza stars Josh Brolin as George II--from hell-raising, booze-guzzling rogue to chatting-with-Jesus commander in chief. Richard Dreyfuss plays gun-toting, bunker-hugging VP Dick Cheney and Thandie Newton is the scholarly, vigorously inattentive Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Scott Glenn is the you-fight-with-the-army-you’ve-got Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld; Elizabeth Banks is stand-by-your-cowboy Laura; and the senior Bushes are played by James Cromwell and Ellen Burstyn. Since Stone is the rascal who zeroed in on “JFK” and “Nixon, ” we can probably count on him to capture these history-making characters, warts and all. Now Playing

JULIE CHRISTIE

BORN 4/14/41 CHABUA, INDIA

AWAY FROM HER

Julie Christie, Gordon Pinsent, Olympia Dukakis, Michael Murphy, Kristen Thomson, Wendy Crewson, Alberta Watson (Written and directed by Sarah Polley; Lionsgate)

 

At first glance, Fiona and Grant Anderson, husband and wife for 44 years, appear to be leading a blissful life, cross-country skiing during the day and cozying up at night in their lovely country cottage. But they both know that Fiona, disoriented by the onset of Alzheimer’s, may soon lose her husband, her memory, and her very own identity. Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent have won raves for their performances as the elderly Canadian couple, as has Sarah Polley, the gifted star of Atom Egoyan’s “The Sweet Hereafter,” who made her screenwriting and directorial debut--at the ripe old age of 28--with this adaptation of Alice Munro’s short story “The Bear Who Came Over the Mountain.” To read Guy Flatley's review of "Away From Her," click here. Now Playing

JUDI DENCH

BORN 12/9/34 NORTH YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND

NINE

Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Stacy Ferguson, Kate Hudson, Sophia Loren (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, and Sophia Loren will haunt us as the ghost of his Mama.
Now Playing


CATHERINE DENEUVE

BORN 10/22/43 PARIS, FRANCE

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 fork over an organ. 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

IN DENEUVE'S OWN WORDS

"It’s very hard for me. Aging is so difficult for a woman. Men, of course, have the same problem--you see them when they turn 50, divorcing and getting married again with a very young woman. To me, that’s very sad. But for an actress, aging is especially difficult, because we live so much in a world of image. I don’t struggle against it, but I cannot say that I like it. Women who say they like aging are liars." From Guy Flatley's 2000 profile of Catherine Deneuve in The New York Daily News Click here to read the entire article.


JANE FONDA

BORN 12/21/37 NEW YORK, NEW YORK

GEORGIA RULE

Lindsay Lohan, Jane Fonda, Felicity Huffman, Cary Elwes (Written and directed by Garry Marshall; Morgan Creek)

 

 

What would you do if you had a mom like Felicity Huffman and a granny like Jane Fonda? You might find out if you catch “Georgia Rule,” in which Lindsay Lohan plays a rebel who can’t take any more of Felicity, who’s even more dysfunctional than she was in “Transamerica,” and therefore throws herself on the mercy of Jane, who we assume is less manipulative than she was in “Monster-in-Law.” Cary Elwes co-stars as a Humbert Humbert-like stepfather who thinks of Lindsay as his very own Lolita. Now Playing

ANJELICA HUSTON

BORN 7/8/51 SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA

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. Now Playing

DIANE KEATON

BORN 1/5/46 LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

MORNING GLORY

Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Patrick Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, 50 Cent (Directed by Roger Michell; Written by Aline Brosh McKenna; Paramount)



Imagine this: Still half asleep, you click your remote to “Daybreak” one morning, expecting the predictably bland patter of the news show’s co-anchors to usher you calmly into the stress and turbulence of another day in urban America. Instead you are subjected to the shattering sight and sound of the normally polite Mike Pomeroy and Colleen Peck (Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton) as the veteran tube stars engage in a shockingly venomous, intensely personal war of words.

Riveting as the total loss of cool might be for thrill-starved viewers, it is not a scene destined to warm the hearts of the “Daybreak” people who gambled on the possibility that macho, hard-news Mike and girly-soft former beauty queen Colleen could combine forces and help raise the show’s sagging ratings. Who knew that they’d turn out to hate one another? Certainly not Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams), the panic-prone wannabe producer who pitched the idea of this dream team in the first place. Oh, well, if Becky is fired, it won't be the first time. Maybe she's lucky in love? Nope. Her dashing beau, played by Patrick Wilson, seems ready to dash off in a whole new direction. Opens 11/12/10

IN KEATON'S OWN WORDS

"I enjoyed doing the second ‘Godfather’ movie, partly because I wasn’t afraid of everybody this time. On the first one, I felt so inconsequential and all I could do was be very friendly and very nice and very scared. Jeeze, every time I’d run into Marlon Brando on the set my face would turn red and I’d start laughing and laughing. I was so high school. So totally into self-loathing." From Guy Flatley's 1974 Los Angeles Times interview with Diane Keaton Click here to read the entire article.

 

JESSICA LANGE

BORN 4/20/49 CLOQUET, MINNESOTA

GREY GARDENS

Drew Barrymore, Jessica Lange (Written and directed by Michael Sucsy; Cinetic Media)







Little Edie Beale was Jacqueline Kennedy's cousin, and her mother, Big Edie Bouvier Beale, was the First Lady’s aunt. At one time, the two Edies lived sumptuously on Manhattan’s Park Avenue, but they ended up in a squalid, raccoon-infested estate on Long Island. Thanks to the intervention of Jackie, the East Hampton health department did not carry through with its plan to raid the dump. But that didn’t keep the messy eccentrics out of the headlines, and eventually they became the subjects of “Grey Gardens,” a memorable 1976 documentary made by David and Albert Maysles. Now an expanded version of their story that covers 40 years and includes Little Edie’s late-budding career as a nightclub chanteuse is in the works. Let us hope that Jessica Lange has more luck playing Drew Barrymore’s mom than she did playing Christina Ricci’s in the wretched “Prozac Nation.”
This film won high praise when it eventually premiered on cable tv.


SOPHIA LOREN

BORN 9/20/34 ROME, ITALY

NINE

Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Stacy Ferguson, Sophia Loren, (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

SHIRLEY MacLAINE

BORN 4/24/34 RICHMOND, VIRGINIA

BERNIE

Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine (Written and directed by Richard Linklater; Castle Rock and Mandalay Pictures)

 


"Midnight in the Garden of East Texas” is what Skip Hollandsworth called his true-crime story published in Texas Monthly in 1998. And now Richard Linklater, the constantly surprising director of “Slacker,” “Dazed and Confused,” “Before Sunset,” “School of Rock,” “Fast Food Nation,” “A Scanner Darkly” and “Me and Orson Welles,” will bring his boldly sensitive touch to the off-center tale of Bernie Tiede, the playful Carthage, Texas undertaker who courted and, many say, murdered Marjorie Nugent, the town’s leading, drippingly wealthy citizen.

Bernie and Marjorie will undoubtedly make a smashing screen twosome, seeing as how they are being played by Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine. Black, of course, rolled into the positively big time with his mercurial, crazed performance as a musical guru to disadvantaged yet gifted kids in Linklater’s “School of Rock” (2003). As for MacLaine, she has been spotlighted as a flirty but soul-deep superstar under the direction of such Hollywood masters as Billy Wilder, Vincente Minnelli, Alfred Hitchcock, William Wyler, Hal Ashby, Bob Fosse, Mike Nichols, James L. Brooks, Don Siegel, Robert Wise and George Marshall. So how could "Bernie" possibly bomb? Opening date to be announced

 

IN MacLAINE'S OWN WORDS

"Perhaps we who hold feminist attitudes have intimidated the writers. They are afraid their male chauvinism will show. It’s a very small community out there and a subject like women’s liberation is just too political for the Hollywoodians. And so women have fallen into the same vacuum as the Vietnam War, the C.I.A., the F.B.I. and corruption in high places. Except for ‘All the President’s Men,’ we’ve been ignoring social problems, and credit for getting that film made must go to Robert Redford, a man with extremely good values. And he’s charming and pretty enough to force things through." From Guy Flatley's 1977 profile of Shirley MacLaine in The New York Times Click here to read the entire article.

BETTE MIDLER

BORN 12/1/45 HONOLULU, HAWAII

THE WOMEN

Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith, Bette Midler, Candice Bergen, Carrie Fisher, Cloris Leachman, Debi Mazar (Written and directed by Diane English; Picturehouse)

 

Women--when they bond with one another and struggle to make the world a better place in which to live and love and wage peace--are adorable creatures. But at least one of the women in Clare Boothe Luce’s 1936 Broadway hit shrugged her shoulder at sisterhood and coolly sized up every available--and unavailable--male who crossed her path. Her name was Crystal, she was a gold-digging shopgirl, and she was played with predatory precision by Joan Crawford in George Cukor’s 1939 film adaptation. Sixty-nine years later, in an update by writer-director Diane Enlish, the blissfully cruel Crystal is being played by Eva Mendes, a Cuban-American seductress who may finally have landed her breakout role. Meg Ryan, an actress in urgent need of a comeback role, plays the achingly noble Mary Haines, a lady whose wealthy husband is the besotted victim of Crystal’s wiles. If Diane English is true to Clare Boothe Luce, Mary’s hubby--and all of the other men who figure prominently in the lives of these Manhattan “Women”--will be present in spirit only. Now Playing

HELEN MIRREN

BORN 7/26/45 LONDON, ENGLAND

LOVE RANCH

Helen Mirren, Joe Pesci, Gina Gershon, Rio Hackford (Directed by Taylor Hackford; Written by Mark Jacobson; Capitol Films) Not so long ago we were calling Helen Mirren queen; soon we’ll be calling her madam. That’s because the Oscar winner is playing an earthy, enterprising woman based on the character of Sally Conforte, who--along with hubby Joe--made her wildest dream come true by opening the Mustang Ranch, Nevada’s first legal brothel. Life became one big love-in for Sally and Joe--until that memorable moment in 1976 when Oscar Bonavena, an Argentinian prizefighter rumored to have gotten raunchy with the Mustang boss-lady, was shot dead by a ranch bodyguard. Director Taylor Hackford, Mirren’s real-life husband, will be putting his wife through her “Love Ranch” paces. And her real-life stepson, actor Rio Hackford, will also be on hand in a supporting role. Now Playing

MICHELLE PFEIFFER

BORN 4/29/58 SANTA ANA, CALIFORNIA

CHERI

Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Friend, Kathy Bates, Felicity Jones, Frances Tomelty, Anita Pallenberg, Harriet Walter, Iben Hjejle (Directd by Stephen Frears; Written by Christopher Hampton; Miramax)

 


Cheri (Rupert Friend), a young, handsome, and deeply romantic Parisian, is tutored in the ways of love by Lea (Michelle Pfeiffer), an aging, equally romantic courtesan. What she is actually teaching this son of an old friend, who is now a wealthy prostitute, is how to be not just a gigolo, but a perfect gigolo. Naturally, the affair turns tres torrid. Collette’s classic short novel has been adapted by Christopher Hampton, who collaborated brilliantly with director Frears and star Pfeiffer in 1988’s “Dangerous Liaisons.” Click here for the Variety review of "Cheri." Now Playing

VANESSA REDGRAVE

BORN 1/30/37 LONDON, ENGLAND

HOW ABOUT YOU

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 repudedly 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

 

SUSAN SARANDON

BORN 10/4/46 NEW YORK, NEW YORK

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


PEACOCK

Cillian Murphy, Ellen Page, Susan Sarandon, Josh Lucas, Bill Pullman, Jaimi Paige, Virginia Newcomb, Paul Cram (Directed by Michael Lander; Written by Michael Lander and Ryan Roy; Mandate Pictures)

Nothing much ever happened in the tiny town of Peacock, Nebraska--unless you count the day a train ran into the back yard of a humble bank clerk mamed John Skillpa (Cillian Murphy). That was the same day folks became aware that John had a housemate, a woman they took to be his wife. Peacockians being Peacockians, no one made much of the fact that John and his spouse never appeared in the same place at the same time. Finally, somebody took notice--a perky single mom (played by "Juno's" Ellen Page) began to suspect that something strange, maybe even sick, was going on in John's house. How could this well-intentioned snoop bring John's story to a happy ending? Persuade John to put his wife up for adoption? Or, discovering that the guy had been getting off on slipping into something silky and masquerading as his own wife, she might try convincing him that she herself would make the best of all possible Mrs. Skillpas. Or maybe she should get the hell out of Peacock.
Opening date to be announced

IN SARANDON'S OWN WORDS

"I believe in love and trust and commitment, but not in marriage. Marriage may do something for lawyers and mothers, but not for husbands and wives. I deal with reality, with the feelings I have at the moment. And then I go on from there." From Guy Flatley's 1978 interview with Susan Sarandon in Cosmopolitan magazine Click here to read the entire article.

SISSY SPACEK

BORN 12/25/49 QUITMAN, TEXAS

GET LOW

Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray, Lucas Black (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

MERYL STREEP

BORN 6/22/49 SUMMIT, NEW JERSEY

JULIE & JULIA

Meryl Streep, Amy Adams (Written and directed by Nora Ephron; Columbia)

 

 

 

A world-famous chef, who was also the star of her own popular live-TV show, once blithely flipped a potato pancake into the air, only to see it land not in the intended pan but on a decidedly un-photogenic work table. Not a bit flustered, she simply scooped up the smashed potato and molded it back into shape. Then, looking firmly into the eye of the camera, she told her audience, “Remember, you are alone in the kitchen, and no one can see you.” This unflappable flipper, of course, was Julia Child, the lovably eccentric American who somehow managed to become an idolized French chef. And playing Child in this movie is Meryl Streep, who, as you know, can glide from American to French or any other nationality on a minute’s notice. The question is, what sort of scenario has writer-director Nora Ephron concocted that will give Streep a chance to don her apron and flip her potato pancake, as well as engage in some out-of-the-kitchen antics? After all, this film is supposedly an adaptation of “Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen,” Julia Powell’s 2005 book dishing out the comedy-drama of her decision to cook, over the course of one year, every single recipe in Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and to serve the presumably tasty results to her husband and other guinea pigs. Her experiment took a toll in both the digestive and domestic realms. Amy Adams ("Catch Me If You Can," "Junebug," "Charlie Wilson's War," "Doubt") plays the central role of Julie. But you can bet that Ephron will cook up something tres delicious for Streep, who played the author to perfection in "Heartburn," based on Ephron's account of her disastrous marriage to philandering journalist Carl Bernstein. Now Playing

DIRTY TRICKS

Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jim Broadbent, Annette Bening, Jill Clayburgh, Sharon Stone (Written and directed by Ryan Murphy; Paramount) They called her Martha the Mouth, Mouth of the South or simply Moutha. Her real name was Martha Mitchell, and she was the full-throttle wife of John Mitchell, Attorney General to President Richard M. Nixon. Never one to hold back, Martha, who died in 1976, had this to say about her hubby’s boss: “Nixon bleeds people. He draws every drop of blood and then drops them from a cliff. He’ll blame any person he can put his foot on.” Nor did Martha go all that easy on Mitchell himself, referring to him at one point as “that gutless, despicable crook.” Is it any wonder that in an effort to shut her up, her enemies eventually drugged her and held her captive in a California hotel room?

Ryan Murphy, director of “Running With Scissors” and TV's popular "Glee" was long ago announced as the helmeher of this adaptation of John Jeter’s play about the woman who spilled the beans that hastened Tricky Dick's departure from the White House. And, best news of all, Murphy had the smarts to cast Meryl Streep as the biggest Moutha ever. Also on prominent display: Jim Broadbent and Jill Clayburgh as Dick and Pat Nixon; former off-screen sweethearts Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow as John and Maureen Dean; Sharon Stone as Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham; and Annette Bening as Helen Thomas, the White House correspondent who received many a late-night phone call from the whistle-blowing Martha. The film is a production of Plan B Entertainment, the company in which co-producer Pitt was once ambitiously partnered with former wife Jennifer Aniston. Maybe the couple's breakup explains the fact that this promising project never seems to materialize. Was it all just a dream? Opening date to be announced?????

FIRST MAN

Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep (Written and directed by Diane English; Disney)

If a guy’s got tons of self esteem and doesn’t give a hoot if people ridicule him for giving up his dream of becoming the next Ted Turner in order to give his wife a career boost, he deserves credit. Especially if his wife has her heart set on the White House. Coming from Diane English, who created “Murphy Brown,” this could turn out to be a cutting-edge romantic comedy. On the other hand, didn’t Fred MacMurray and Polly Bergen already cover this ground in 1964’s “Kisses for My President”?
Opening date to be announced

CHAOS

Meryl Streep, Aishwarya Rai, Michael David White (Directed by Coline Serreau)

Brutally assaulted by a trio of street punks, a blood-splattered prostitute pleads with a middle-aged couple to take her into their car. The driver shuts his window and drives on to a dinner party. The next day, the driver’s guilt-ridden wife tracks down the victim and before long they are close--and exceptionally scheming--friends. French film director Coline Serreau is directing this English-language remake of her story of vengeance, violence and bizarre bonding. Streep plays the older woman, and Bollywood superstar Aishwarya Rai plays the hooker who changes her life, not entirely for the better. Opening date to be announced

BARBRA STREISAND

BORN 4/24/42 BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

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 Barbra Streisand, click here; for Guy's 1973 interview with Robert De Niro, click here; for his 1979 interview with Dustin Hoffman, click here; and for Diane Baroni's 2000 interview with Teri Polo, click here. Opens 12/22/10

IN STREISAND'S OWN WORDS

"I’ve heard Truman Capote say all actors are dumb and that maybe Marlon Brando is the dumbest of all. Well, he’s dumb for saying that. He was being provocative, but he was doing it at somebody else’s expense. Any actor worth his salt is intelligent. As for Brando–-my God, he has genius! Brando is the only actor who ever really touched me." From Guy Flatley's 1973 profile of Barbra Streisand in The New York Times. Click here to read the entire article.

SIGOURNEY WEAVER

BORN 10/8/49 NEW YORK, NEW YORK

AVATAR

Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Zoe Saldana, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, Laz Alonso, CCH Pounder, Wes Studi, Stephen Lang (Written and directed by James Cameron; Twentieth Century-Fox)

 

Sam Worthington, for whom"Avatar" may do what "Titanic" did for Leo and "Terminator" did for Arnie, is the vulnerable but sexy human hero in James Cameron's latest special-effects pig-out. The picture-perfect Aussie plays a severely wounded soldier who flees to another universe, a haven where he hopes to find--and inhabit--an alien whose body is in better shape than his own.

But he may need a helping medical hand to pull off that particular miracle, which, of couse, is where Dr. Grace Augustine--played by Sigourney Weaver, a cool actress we all applauded when she kicked butt in James Cameron's "Aliens"--comes in. And, in case you didn't know it, "Aliens" was directed by James Cameron. Now Playing

DEBRA WINGER

BORN 5/16/55 CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, OHIO

RACHEL GETTING MARRIED

Anne Hathaway, Debra Winger, Bill Irwin, Rosemarie DeWitt, 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