Moviecrazed
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DECEMBER 2005

TRANSAMERICA: Felicity Huffman, Kevin Zegers, Fionnula Flanagan, Elizabeth Pena, Graham Greene, Burt Young, Carrie Preston (Written and directed by Duncan Tucker; The Weinstein Company) You thought Emmy-winning Felicity Huffman was leading a complicated life on “Desperate Housewives”? Well get this: In “Transamerica,” the actress, giving a performance sure to be Oscar-nominated, plays a man who once fathered a son but now dresses as a very feminine lady and looks forward to the surgery that will make a real woman of her. But first she has to rescue her son from the fate of being a male prostitute and porn performer in the Big Apple. The movie, which includes full frontal nudity of daddy/mommy before and after the operation, surely took a lot out of Felicity, but think what it must have done to William H. Macy, who is “Transamerica’s” executive producer as well as Felicity’s real-life husband. Now Playing

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN: Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Anne Hathaway, Randy Quaid, Michelle Williams, Scott Michael Campbell, Anna Faris (Directed by Ang Lee; Written by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana; Focus Features) In the early sixties, a closeted ranch hand and a rodeo cowboy have a hot affair in the wilds of Wyoming, and things don’t quite cool down for the next 20 years. Jake and Heath undoubtedly make a striking couple and the movie, based on a short story by E. Annie Proulx, promises to be one of the more provocative year-end offerings. To read Diane Baroni's 2001 interview with Jake Gyllenhaal, click here. Now Playing

MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA: Ziyi Zhang , Ken Watanabe, Michelle Yeoh, Youki Kudoh, Koji Yakusho, Karl Yune (Directed by Rob Marshall; Written by Ron Bass, Akiva Goldsman, Robin Swicord; Columbia) The incredibly gorgeous Chinese actress Ziyi Zhang plays the incredibly gorgeous Sayuri, an impoverished Japanese girl from a small village who is taken from her family and forced to endure the cruel, cut-throat atmosphere of a big-city Geisha house. Her fortunes shift when Japan enters World War II, and somewhere along the way she falls in love with the incredibly handsome and powerful Chairman, played by the incredibly handsome Ken Watanabe. Steven Spielberg, once keen on directing this adaptation of Arthur Golden’s best seller, changed his mind, passing on the challenge to director Rob Marshall, director of “Chicago.” Will Marshall’s second time at cinematic bat result in another homer? Now Playing

MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS: Judi Dench, Bob Hoskins, Will Young, Kelly Reilly, Thelma Barlow, Christopher Guest (Directed by Stephen Frears; Written by Martin Sherman; The Weinstein Company) What’s a wealthy, restless widow to do with the time on her hands? Sit around and count her money? Not if she’s Laura Henderson. Who? Mrs. Henderson, the real-life Brit who dug into her purse to purchase a run-down theater in thirties London and turn it into the Windmill Theatre, a cheery home to numerous musical revues. When other theaters mimicked the Windmill, attendance fell off, so Mrs. Henderson (Judi Dench) was forced to come up with something daring and different. What she came up with was a plentitude of artfully posed nudes, and those ladies made theatergoers blush and beam throughout the blitz of World War II. Now Playing

KING KONG: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Andy Serkis, Thomas Kretschmann, Colin Hanks, Kyle Chandler, Evan Parke, Lobo Chan, Jamie Bell (Directed by Peter Jackson; Written by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens; Universal) A struggling 1930's movie director (Black) finds himself in big trouble with a big ape when he tries to separate the beast from the incessantly shrieking woman (Watts) he adores. There's a strong chance a daring young aviator (Brody) who also loves the noisy blonde will come to the rescue. The question is, can Jackson, the hot helmer of "Lord of the Rings," stretch his remake of the 1933 classic into a trilogy? To read Guy Flatley's 2000 interview with Jack Black, click here; for Guy's 1999 interview with Kong's first love, Fay Wray, click here; for the trailer, click here. Now Playing

THE THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA: Tommy Lee Jones, Barry Pepper, January Jones, Dwight Yoakam, Julio Cesar Cedillo, Melissa Leo, Levon Helm, Mel Rodriguez, Cecilia Suarez, Ignacio Guadalupe, Vanessa Bauche (Directed by Tommy Lee Jones; Written by Guillermo Arriaga; Sony Pictures Classics) Tommy Lee Jones not only directed himself in this film’s central role, but he also managed to speak both fluent English and Spanish. So what did all his hard work earn him? The Best Actor award at the 2005 Cannes Festival. As for author Guillermo Arriaga (“Amores Perros,” “21 Grams”), he took home the Best Screenplay award for his tale of a Texas cowboy bent on avenging the murder of his friend, an illegal Mexican immigrant. Keep an eye out for Jones and Arriaga on Oscar night. Now Playing

THE FAMILY STONE: Diane Keaton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Luke Wilson, Dermot Mulroney, Claire Danes, Rachel McAdams, Craig T. Nelson (Written and directed by Thomas Bezucha; Fox) Wouldn’t you think that when an enterprising young man (Dermot Mulroney) brings his Manhattan socialite girlfriend (Sarah Jessica Parker) home for the holidays that his non-socialite family would be pleased? If so, you would be wrong in this case. The bohemian Stones--especially the oddball matriarch played by Diane Keaton--can barely tolerate this exceedingly vain and proper blueblood. There is one member of the clan who does warm to the newcomer, however, and he is acted by the ever-appealing Luke Wilson. So you just know that Dermot is targeted for trouble on all sides. Now Playing

THE PRODUCERS: Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman, Will Ferrell, Roger Bart, Gary Beach (Directed by Susan Stroman; Written by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan; Universal) All you need to know about this surefire blockbuster you probably already do know. It’s based on the sensational Broadway musical that Mel Brooks cribbed from his own 1968 (mostly) non-musical movie. In place of Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder as Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom, Brooks gave us Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. And, happily, he’s doing the same thing in the new movie. Most happily, he’s chosen director-choreographer Susan Stroman to recreate her Broadway miracle. Nicole Kidman was set to play ultra-hot vamp Ulla, but dropped out in order to play opposite Russell Crowe in "Eucalyptus," a project that withered when the mercurial Crowe decided to fly off in another direction. Very quickly, the producers of "The Producers" got smart and hired Uma Thurman to step in for Kidman. Now Playing

FUN WITH DICK AND JANE: Jim Carrey, Tea Leoni, Angie Harmon, John Michael Higgins, Alec Baldwin, Richard Burgi, Jeff Garlin, Stacey Travis (Directed by Dean Parisot; Written by Judd Apatow, Nicholas Stoller, Peter Tolan; Sony/Columbia) With the jobless situation being what it is and the price of a meal doubling on a daily basis, who could blame a married couple for going on a robbery spree? That's what George Segal and Jane Fonda did in 1977's "Fun With Dick and Jane," and that's what Jim Carrey and Tea Leoni will do in this remake. Let's hope that, unlike the original, this version will deliver some genuine fun. Now Playing

HIDDEN (CACHE): Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche, Maurice Benichou, Annie Girardot, Lester Makedonsky, Bernard Le Coq, Walid Afkir, Daniel Duval, Nathalie Richard (Directed by Michael Haneke; Independent) The stars of "The Widow of St. Pierre" reteam in this psychological thriller about the host of a literary TV show who receives a series of disturbing videos in the intimacy of their home. Who could be making these mysterious deliveries, and for what purpose? Michael Haneke is the unsparing director who unnerved us with "The Piano Teacher," so be prepared to gasp as you watch. Enthusiastically received at the 2005 Cannes Festival, "Hidden" recently won the Best Picture prize at the European Film Awards, and Daniel Auteuil was named Best Actor. Now Playing

MUNICH: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Geoffrey Rush, Mathieu Kassovitz, Ciaran Hinds, Marie-Josee Croze, Ayelet Zorer (Directed by Steven Spielberg; Written by Tony Kushner; Universal/DreamWorks) In 1972, the world was stunned by the slaughter of 11 Israeli athletes by a band of Palestinian terrorists at the Olympic Village in Munich. Steven Spielberg’s sure-to-be-controversial film (written by Tony Kushner, author of the award-winning “Angels in America”) deals with the psychological conflict experienced by the special agents ordered by Prime Minister Golda Meir to track down and kill those responsible for the carnage. To read a New York Times report on this film, click here. Now Playing

CASANOVA: Heath Ledger, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons, Lena Olin, Oliver Platt, Lauren Cohan, Charlie Cox, Christopher Egan, Tommy Korberg (Directed by Lasse Hallstrom; Written by Michael Cristofer, Jeffrey Hatcher, Kimberly Simi and Tom Stoppard; Disney/Touchstone Pictures) Are you under the impression that Casanova was an insatiable make-out artist from start to finish, from fresh, horny youth to dreary, dirty old man? You may change your mind when you see this revisionist biopic. It’s said to portray the 18th-century Venetian adventurer, who boasted that he slept with 122 women, as a sensitive soul determined to unravel the true meaning of love because of the bewilderment he experienced when rejected by a babe he felt was a pushover. Whatever. For sure, Ledger (above, with Lauren Cohan) has his work cut out for him. To read about many more new biopics, click here. Now Playing

THE NEW WORLD: Colin Farrell, Q’Orianka Kilcher, Christian Bale, Christopher Plummer, August Schellenberg, Wes Studi, David Thewlis, Raoul Trujillo, Noah Taylor, Ben Mendelsohn, Roger Rees (Written and directed by Terrence Malick; New Line) Although you might not have learned this particular lesson in school, the truth is that the majority of 16th and 17th-century Native Americans resented British invaders every bit as much as Native Iraqis resent contemporary British (and U.S.) invaders. That point will presumably be made clear in this film from writer-director Terrence Malick, whose small but impressive body of work includes such innovative gems as “Badlands,” “Days of Heaven” and “The Thin Red Line.” Colin Farrell, atoning perhaps for “Alexander,” plays the awesomely romantic Captain John Smith to Q’Orianka Kilcher’s Pocahontas, the enchanting maiden who eventually married John Rolfe (Christian Bale) and moved with him to England. What did Kilcher, a Peruvian Indian teenage singing sensation (shown above), do to deserve this plum? She made a big impression as a member of the little choir in Jim Carrey’s 2000 extravaganza, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.” To read about many more new biopics, click here. Now Playing

RUMOR HAS IT: Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Costner, Shirley MacLaine, Mark Ruffalo, Kathy Bates, Mena Suvari, Chris McDonald, Mike Baldridge (Directed by Rob Reiner; Written by Ted Griffin; Warner Bros.) It is a low blow for the sensitive young woman played by Jennifer Aniston to hear that her family served as the long-ago inspiration for the screwed-up Robinson clan in “The Graduate,” and that suddenly she's in the dark about the identity of her real father. Well, here’s to that fabulous granny, Mrs. Robinson, and to her granddaughter, too. By the way, the adulterous Mrs. Robinson--played so unforgettably by the late Anne Bancroft in 1967’s “The Graduate”--is played this time by Shirley MacLaine, Bancroft’s friend-turned-foe in 1977’s “The Turning Point.” To read Guy Flatley's 1977 interview with Shirley MacLaine, click here. Now Playing

MATCH POINT: Scarlett Johansson, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Emily Mortimer, Matthew Goode, Brian Cox, Penelope Wilton, Ewen Bremner, James Nesbitt, Rupert Penry-Jones, Margaret Tyzack (Written and directed by Woody Allen; BBC Films) Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, in what looks like a breakthrough role, plays Chris Wilton, a handsome, sensitive man of modest means who manages to endear himself to the Hewitts, a prominent London family. And those who’ve seen Woody Allen’s drama at the 2005 Cannes Festival say the young actor is intriguingly reminiscent of Montgomery Clift in “The Heiress” and “A Place in the Sun.” First the subtly ambitious Chris persuades golden-boy Thomas Hewitt (Matthew Goode) to hire him as a tennis instructor; then he charms Thomas’ filthy-rich father (Brian Cox) with his keen but respectful interest in the ways of big business, while devoting his spare time to bedding and eventually proposing marriage to Chloe (Emily Mortimer), the trusting young lady of the Hewitt household. Chris’s one problem: he can’t keep his hands off Nola (Scarlett Johansson), the American firecracker Thomas mistakenly considers his one-and-only. Whatever the outcome of this sticky game of deceit, the widespread feeling is that “Match Point” represents a major comeback for The Woodman, and--for the adventurous Scarlett Johansson--a welcome bounce back from the disaster of "The Island." To read the Variety review, click here. For comments by New York Times critic A. O. Scott on "Match Point" and other films shown at the 2005 Cannes Festival, click here. Now Playing

THE MATADOR: Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Hope Davis, Philip Baker Hall, Dylan Baker, Adam Scott (Written and directed by Richard Shepard; The Weinstein Company) In the wee small hours, a depressed businessman from Denver (Greg Kinnear) has maybe one margarita too many in a hotel bar and pours his heart out to a seemingly empathetic stranger (Pierce Brosnan). The stranger, as it turns out, is a seasoned hit man, and this chance meeting blossoms into a bumpy, scary, oddly tender relationship. Unsurprisingly, the businessman’s wife (Hope Davis) is puzzled--but intrigued--when her hubby’s new chum drops by for a stay in Denver. Richard Shepard’s offbeat comedy-drama-thriller was warmly received at the 2005 Sundance Festival. Now Playing