Moviecrazed
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SEPTEMBER 2006

THE WICKER MAN: Nicolas Cage, Ellen Burstyn, Molly Parker, Leelee Sobieski (Written and directed by Neil LaBute; Warner Bros.) You’ve got to proceed with caution when you attempt to get to the bottom of a mystery on a supposedly sleepy little island off the coast of Maine. That, to his horror, is what the sheriff played by Nicolas Cage learns in this thriller by the dependably merciless Neil LaBute. An American spin on the 1973 British cult movie written by Anthony Shaffer and directed by Robin Hardy, this fright flick deals with the disappearance of a girl who may have fallen into the hands of neopagans who see her as the ideal sacrificial lamb. Sheriff Nic should be able to save the day for the tot--so long as a swarm of killer bees don’t declare war on him. Now Playing

HOLLYWOODLAND: Ben Affleck, Diane Lane, Adrien Brody, Kathleen Robertson, Bob Hoskins, Robin Tunney, Lois Smith, Joe Spano, Jordan Barker, Jeff Teravainen, Larry Cedar, Steve Adams (Directed by Allen Coulter; Written by Paul Bernbaum and Howard Korder; Focus Features) George Reeves, who played the minor role of one of Scarlett O’Hara’s many swains in “Gone With the Wind,” is perhaps best remembered as Superman, a role he played on live television for six years during the fifties. In a funk because he couldn’t shed the tacky small-screen image of the caped wonder and ascend to major stardom, he put an end to his frustration with a bullet to his head in 1959 at the age of 45. Or did he? Some suspect that he was murdered in the bedroom of his Hollywood mansion by somebody who did not approve of his affair with the wife of MGM executive Eddie Mannix. Ben Affleck, a daredevil if ever there was one, takes on the role of the failed superhero for which Hugh Jackman was originally slated, Diane Lane plays his not-so-secret lover, and Adrien Brody, replacing the busy, busy Benicio Del Toro, is cast as a gumshoe who works up a sweat trying to solve the mystery surrounding Reeves’ death. To read about other new biopics, click here. Now Playing

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

ALL THE KING'S MEN: Sean Penn, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, James Gandolfini, Mark Ruffalo, Patricia Clarkson, Anthony Hopkins, Talia Balsam, Jackie Earle Haley, Kevin Dunn (Written and directed by Steven Zaillian; Columbia) Could there be another Academy Award on the horizon for Sean Penn, who nabbed an Oscar for his high-voltage performance in 2003’s "Mystic River"? The answer is yes, if history repeats itself. That would be because the Oscar for Best Actor of 1949 went to Broderick Crawford, who played Willie Stark in "All the King’s Men," the Robert Rossen adaptation of Robert Penn Warren’s Pulitzer Prize novel about a Southern governor closely resembling Louisiana’s Huey Long. In the update, Penn is the unscrupulous candidate determined to occupy the governor’s mansion—a part Mel Gibson campaigned to play. (That Mel is such a loser!) The role of Stark's tough aide, Sadie Burke, which brought Mercedes McCambridge a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, has been entrusted to Patricia Clarkson, the shameless scene-stealer from "Far From Home," "The Station Agent" and "Pieces of April." As for Jack Burden, the cynical journalist who discovers a few of Willie Stark's darker secrets, he'll be played by Jude Law--following in the footsteps of John Ireland, who won a Best Supporting Actor of 1949 nomination for his performance in the original "All the King's Men." Kate Winslet--playing Anne Stanton, the bright and beautiful young thing who should (but doesn't) know better than to get romantically involved with Willie Stark--follows in the footsteps of Joanne Dru, who did not receive an Oscar nomination for her performance. But she sure was a looker. To read the Variety review of "All the King's Men," click here. Now Playing

THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND: Forest Whitaker, James McAvoy, Kerry Washington, Gillian Anderson, Simon McBurney, David Oyelowo, Stephen Rwangyezi, Abby Mukiibi, Adam Kotz (Directed by Kevin Macdonald; Written by Peter Morgan and Jeremy Brock; Fox Searchlight) The occasionally charming but essentially monstrous General Idi Amin Dada was responsible for the massacre of hundreds of thousands of innocent people before his brutal eight-year reign of terror in Uganda came to an end in 1979. Based on Giles Foden’s 1998 novel, “The Last King of Scotland,” starring Forest Whitaker in what has been described as an Oscar-worthy performance,” focuses on Amin’s bizarre relationship with an opportunistic Scotsman (James McAvoy) who becomes his personal physician and then makes a very serious, drunken wrong move on one of the dictator’s wives (Kerry Washington). To read the Variety review of "The Last King of Scotland," click here. Now Playing

THE QUEEN: Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell, Sylvia Syms (Directed by Stephen Frears; Written by Peter Morgan; Miramax Films) According to preview audiences, Helen Mirren, who just won a Best Actress Emmy for her performance in HBO's "Elizabeth I," is sure to be a contender for a Best Actress Oscar for her turn as Elizabeth II in "The Queen," a depiction of the emotional aftermath of Princess Diana’s death. The film zeroes in on what appears to have been a major conflict between Her Majesty and Prime Minister Tony Blair over just how public the royal family’s mourning need be. "The Queen," which was selected by the Film Society of Lincoln Center to open the 44th New York Film Festival, has a screenplay by Peter Morgan and was was directed by Stephen Frears, the British master responsible for “The Hit,” “My Beautiful Laundrette,” “Prick Up Your Ears,” “Dangerous Liaisons,” “The Grifters” and “High Fidelity.” How could it possibly be less than a royal treat? To read the Variety review of "The Queen," click here. Now Playing