Moviecrazed
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NOVEMBER 2008

QUANTUM OF SOLACE: Daniel Craig, Mathieu Amalric, Olga Kurylenko, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Gemma Arterton, Giancarlo Giannini, Oona Chaplin (Directed by Marc Forster; Written by Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade; Sony Pictures)

Daniel Craig, arguably the best of all James Bonds, is still where we left him in “Casino Royale”--deep in the dumps over the death of Vesper Lynd, the steely but vulnerable beauty who discovered the passion beneath his British cool. Pulling himself together, with the help of the ever-resourceful M (Judi Dench), he vows to solve the mystery of Vesper’s murder. On his globe-trotting trip toward the awful truth, 007 encounters another femme fatale (Olga Kurylenko) and a Mr. Greene, a maniacal businessman whose goal is to take control of the entire world (this modest chap is played by Mathieu Amalric, the astonishing star of “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.”) Besides the mean Mr. Greene, all Bond has to worry about are the British government, an international assortment of terrorists and, of course, the CIA. Now Playing

SLUMDOG MILLIOINAIRE: Dev Patel, Mia Inderbitzin, Irfan Khan, Anil Kapoor, Imran Hasnee, Freida Pinto (Directed by Danny Boyle; Written by Simon Beaufoy; Fox Searchlight)

The thing that Jamal, an impoverished, illiterate 18-year-old orphan, wants most in life is to be a contestant on Mumbai’s version of America’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” so that he can be reunited with Latika, his lovely lost sweetheart, who is an ardent fan of the show. He succeeds in getting on camera, but then his problems begin, thanks to an excessively suspicious police inspector. This crowd-pleaser, directed by Danny Boyle, who gave us “Trainspotting” and “28 Days Later,” was named Best Picture of 2008 by the National Board of Review, and Dev Patel, as the ambitious orphan, was awarded for his Breakthrough Performance by an Actor. Now Playing

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). “A Christmas Tale” was warmly received at the 2008 Cannes, Toronto and New York film festivals. To read Guy Flatley's 2000 interview with Catherine Deneuve, click here. Now Playing

TWILIGHT: Kristin Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, Ashley Greene, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Kellan Lutz, Peter Facinelli, Cam Gigandet, Taylor Lautner, Anna Kendrick, Michael Welch, Justin Chon (Directed by Catherine Hardwicke; written by Melissa Rosenberg; Summit Entertainment)

There’s nothing so poignant as love that is young, rapturous and exotic, even when the beautiful teenager (Kristen Stewart) is a wannabe slut and the handsome boy she encounters (Robert Pattinson) is a virginal tease. The lad’s also a genuine vampire who--so far, at least--is true to his “vegetarian” vow to sup only on four-legged critters. Can this relationship be for all time? Catherine Hardwicke, who exhibited some ultra-scary teens in “Thirteen” (2003), directed this adaptation of the first volume of Stephenie Meyer’s fang-filled “The Twilight Saga.” And, as readers of that best seller know, when Stephenie said “There will be blood,” she wasn’t kidding. Now Playing

LAKE CITY:Sissy Spacek, Troy Garity, Rebecca Romijn, Dave Matthews, Drea de Matteo, Keith Carradine (Written and directed by Perry Moore and Hunter Hill; Screen Media Films)

Sissy Spacek, who proved she is one of America’s finest actresses in such powerful films as “Badlands,” “Carrie,” “3 Women,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “Missing,” was at the very top of her form in “In the Bedroom,” the harrowing 2001 drama that cast her as a woman obsessed with nailing the murderer of her son, even if she had to do the deed herself. Now, in “Lake City,” Spacek is once again a tragically troubled mom. This time, her son Billy (Troy Garity, who in real life is the son of Jane Fonda) is running for his life, hoping to evade the drug dealer (Dave Matthews) who has been double-crossed by Billy’s gone-missing wife (Drea de Matteo). What does Billy do? He grabs his own young son and heads for the Virginia hills home of his estranged mother. Once there, he seems safe, at least for a while, from the deadly fury of the duped dope peddler. But how safe is Billy from the threat of memories of a dark, suffocating relationship with mama? Now Playing

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; Strand Releasing)

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 reputedly reformed 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

AUSTRALIA: Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, David Wenham, Bryan Brown, Jack Thompson, Barry Otto (Directed by Baz Luhrmann; Written by Ronald Harwood; Fox)

Hugh Jackman, who made a hasty entrance when Russell Crowe made an even hastier exit over a salary squabble, plays an enigmatic Australian who comes to the aid of a British damsel in distress (Kidman). In danger of losing her recently inherited ranch to villainous robber barons, the determined Brit allows the take-charge Aussie to escort her and her 2,000 head of cattle to the presumed safety of Darwin, an Australian site the scurrying couple could scarcely know would soon become the target of the very Japanese forces that had just bombed Pearl Harbor. Now Playing

FOUR CHRISTMASES: Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon, Sissy Spacek, Mary Steenburgen, Kristin Chenoweth, Jon Voight, Jon Favreau, Robert Duvall, Dwight Yoakam (Directed by Seth Gordon; Written by Caleb Wilson; Warner Bros. and New Line)

Like it or not, you have a moral obligation to see your mom and dad at Christmas time. At least, that’s what the creators of this family flick seem to feel. And that’s why Brad and Kate (Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon) succumb to panic attacks the closer they get to the big 12/25, a day when they are expected to get warm and cozy at all four homes of their respective divorced-and-remarried parents (Sissy Spacek, Robert Duvall, Mary Steenburgen and Jon Voight). Can this holiday--and these marriages--be saved? Click here to read Guy Flatley's 1998 interview with Vince Vaughn. Now Playing

MILK: Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, James Franco, Diego Luna, Alison Pill, 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 disgruntled 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. Now Playing