James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara, Clemence Posey, Treat Williams, Kate Burton, Lizzy Caplan (Directed by Danny Boyle; Written by Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy; Fox Searchlight)
Maybe you sat glued to the TV screen as Aron Ralston related his real-life nightmare back in 2003, or perhaps you nervously turned the pages of his grisly yet inspiring memoir, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place,” published the following year. Whatever the case, if you are a serious moviegoer, you don’t dare skip “127 Hours,” the adaptation of Ralston’s shocker by director Danny Boyle, who co-wrote the screenplay with Simon Beaufoy, his “Slumdog Millionaire” collaborator.
On the other hand, you may not be the only member of the audience tempted to close your eyes, if only for 127 seconds or so, during the scene in which the lone traveler does what he must do if he is to survive the ordeal of being trapped, miles from another human being, in a narrow patch of Utah’s Blue John Canyon, his right arm pinned against a rock wall by a monstrous boulder. Even in a drained, hallucinatory state, this youthful, extraordinarily can-do engineer, played by the remarkable James Franco, summons the courage to improvise amputation.
Can this grim, claustrophobic situation be made truly cinematic, even exhilarating? According to preview audiences, the answer is a resounding yes, thanks to the forceful artistry of Danny Boyle, who worked similar miracles with downbeat material in “Trainspotting,” “28 Days Later” and, of course, the Oscar-winning “Slumdog Millionaire.” --Guy Flatley Now Playing
Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, Sam Shepard, Norbert Leo Butz, Brooke Smith, Anand Tiwari, Jessica Hecht, Ty Burrell, Noah Emmerich (Directed by Doug Liman; Written by Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth; Warner Bros.)
There was no way Hollywood could ignore the Valerie Plame Wilson story for long. The true-life tale was dramatic, scary, enraging, tender and surprisingly romantic. As we know, the keen, classy-looking blonde CIA agent’s cover was blown by conservative columnist Robert Novak in 2002--with the aid of strategically-placed Bushies--as an apparent act of punishment to her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, who had written a New York Times article poking holes in the Bush administration’s claims about weapons of mass destruction. Life became instant hell for the Wilsons and their 2-year-old twins, and Valerie came to doubt her own sanity.
But this story, like so many Hollywood stories, has a happy ending. Valerie wrote “Fair Game,” a tell-all tome that did not send Robert Novak, Scooter Libby and Karl Rove rushing to the Barnes & Noble book-signing party. Naomi Watts and Sean Penn play the hounded couple, under the direction of Doug Liman, the man responsible for “Swingers,” “Go,” “The Bourne Identity” and “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.” –Guy Flatley Now Playing
Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, 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. –Guy Flatley Now Playing
Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Dunn, Ethan Suplee, Kevin Corrigan, Lew Temple, Kevin Chapman, J.J. Miller, Jessy Schram, David Warshofsky (Directed by Tony Scott; Written by Mark Bomback; 20th Century Fox)
Stop me if you’ve heard or seen this one before. A train with numerous cars—some of them containing lethally explosive cargo—is suddenly speeding out-of-control through densely populated communities. Is there anyone on board capable of preventing massive death and dismemberment? Probably not. But wait a minute! What about this odd couple—an aging, but still cool, engineer, played by the ever-energetic Denzel Washington, and a youthful, new-on-the-job, notably surly conductor, played by rising screen hunk Chris Pine? Can they possibly bring a happy end to this long day’s choo-choo journey into a seemingly permanent night? Plop down the price of a ticket, hop aboard and find out for yourself. –Guy Flatley Now Playing
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS—PART 1
Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Brendan Gleason, Richard Griffiths, John Hurt, Rhys Ifans, Jason Isaacs, Bill Nighy, Alan Rickman, Fiona Shaw, Timothy Spall, Imelda Staunton, David Thewlis, Toby Jones, Simon McBurney, Peter Mullan, Julie Walters (Directed by David Yates; Written by Steve Kloves; Warner Brothers)
The peerless, mostly fearless kids played by Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson in the fantastical, hugely profitable “Harry Potter” flicks are back. And in this, the seventh and next to final chapter of the hoary hit, the kids are not only all right; they are all grown up, if a wee bit gloomy. Still, even though the smashing box office receipts make it clear that moviegoers will always be wild about Harry and his chums, it does seem time for this trio to break up and move on. –Guy Flatley Now Playing
LOVE & OTHER DRUGS
Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Judy Greer, Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria, Jill Clayburgh, George Segal, David Morse (Directed by Edward Zwick; Written by Charles Randolph; 20th Century Fox)
Back in 2005, in Ang Lee’s melancholy but triumphantly commercial “Brokeback Mountain,” Jake Gyllenhaal played a closeted gay cowpoke who carries a torch for his sexually conflicted buddy Heath Ledger and ends up marrying a crass, clueless but emphatically heterosexual rodeo addict played by Anne Hathaway.
Now Gyllenhaal and Hathaway are reteamed in another film with sex on its mind. This time, however, the focus will be primarily on nitty-gritty details--an intimate study of studly performance rather than a torturous exploration of sexual repression. And if the flick sticks to the story Jamie Reidy spun so mischievously in his 2005 memoir, “Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman,” it may indeed stand tall at the box office.
Reidy, of course, is the former pitchman who made an easy bundle during the nineties peddling the little miracle pill from Pfizer that could turn men deflated by erectile dysfunction into round-the-clock lotharios. After leaving Pfizer, Reidy felt ready to try his hand at writing, and what he chose to write was a comical, anatomically explicit account of his time of toil in the drug industry. To his surprise, his new bosses at Eli Lilly failed to appreciate the raunchy humor employed by Reidy in “Hard Sell,” and he soon learned the hard way what it feels like to be unemployed.
Gyllenhaal, with his engaging, off-center sense of the ridiculous, seems a natural to play the guy who lucks into selling a product that practically sells itself. As for Hathaway, she’s a business client who happens to have Parkinson’s and, as it turns out, more than a dollars-and-cents interest in the conspicuously hot super salesman. Which is why she makes a pitch.
If "Love and Other Drugs" gives you an erection lasting more than four hours, call your shrink right away! –Guy Flatley Now Playing