The Weekend Warrior: Nov. 21 – 23

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Greetings and welcome back to the Weekend Warrior, your weekly guide to the weekend’s new movies. Tune in every Tuesday for the latest look at the upcoming weekend, and then check back on Thursday night for final projections based on actual theatre counts.

Predictions and Comparisons

1. Twilight (Summit) – $72.8 million N/A (up $2.1 million)

2. Bolt (Disney) – $37.8 million N/A (Same)

3. Quantum of Solace (Sony) – $29.6 million -56% (down 2.1 million)

4. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (DreamWorks) – $17.1 million -49% (down .1 million)

5. Role Models (Universal) – $6.5 million -42% (up .2 million)

6. Changeling (Universal) – $2.7 million -37% (up .2 million and one spot)

7. High School Musical 3: Senior Year (Disney) – $2.5 million -56% (down .3 million and one spot)

8. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (Miramax) – $1.6 million (NEW ENTRY!)

9. The Secret Life of Bees (Fox Searchlight) – $1.4 million -35% (down .1 million)

10. Zack and Miri Make a Porno (Weinstein Co.) – $1.2 million -59% (down .5 million and two spots)

Weekend Overview

While at first glance, this weekend might seem like heavy competition between two big releases, it’s really not going to be much of a fight as Catherine Hardwicke’s movie based on Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight (Summit Entertainment) trounces the competition looking to become the third movie to open with more than $60 million this month. Based on the millions of tickets already sold and hundreds of shows already sold out, the fanatic followers of Meyer’s characters will be out in force on Friday, flooding the theaters to give the film an enormous opening which then tails off over the remainder of the weekend. The movie doesn’t have nearly as wide a demographic or name brand recognition as the month’s other recent blockbusters, so one probably won’t see “Harry Potter” like numbers, but the demand to see this movie is huge, even if it’s only among the devout, and it should show an impressive take for fledgling distributor Summit nonetheless.

Even so, that’s not to say that one should completely discount Disney’s animated Bolt (Disney), their second computer animated movie done under the guidance of Exec. Producer John Lasseter from Pixar Animation. With great trailers and ads that makes this one look even more like a Pixar flick, it should still be able to bring in the family audience, especially those with younger kids, and do very well in suburban Middle America and among the audience who won’t be as interested in Twilight (like guys), especially over the weekend. It might be somewhat challenged by DreamWorks Animation’s Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa still bringing in business, although that should make way for the two new movies, as will last week’s Quantum of Solace. The presence of four big movies should make this one of the biggest weekends in box office history for sure, continuing one of the healthiest Novembers even without the presence of a “Potter” movie.

(UPDATE: Looks like Twilight is getting even more theaters than we expected and it still looks very good that this is going to be a huge weekend for the movie, even though it’s still going to be heavily frontloaded to Friday, while the returning movies will probably be giving up screens despite still showing in many theaters nationwide. Miramax’s Holocaust drama The Boy in the Striped Pajamas will now expand into over 400 theaters and that should be enough to get into the bottom half of the Top 10 with so many movies dropping off and losing theaters.)

The weekend before Thanksgiving last year wasn’t nearly as impressive with the only big movie being Robert Zemeckis’ animated epic Beowulf (DreamWorks), released into 3,153 theaters including IMAX and digital 3D screens, both which helped the movie to gross $27.5 million to take first place. Zach Helm’s family fantasy Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, starring Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman, opened in fifth place with $9.6 million in over 3,100 theaters and Mike Newell’s adaptation of the Spanish best-selling novel Love in the Time of Cholera, starring Javier Bardem, bombed with less than $2 million, though it did manage to open at #10. The Top 10 grossed $90.4 million, an amount that should be trounced this weekend thanks to the combo of Twilight and Bolt.


THE BATTLE CRY

This week’s “Battle Cry” might not seem to really have much to do with movies, at least not directly, but it does deal with modern communication and how information is relayed from one person to another, particularly when it comes to movie buzz, and how that’s constantly evolving to the point where it’s difficult to keep up with how fast the technology is changing.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably well aware how the internet has changed the way people learn about and discuss upcoming movies, from the release of trailers online before they hit theaters to various communities that develop around certain movies, again long before they’re released.

The evolution of the internet in the last ten years or so is an interesting one. Ten years ago, it was simpler times, where Email and message boards and chat rooms would allow people to meet and communicate with other people from around the globe about various topics, evolving into websites that were created to bring specialized audiences together. In recent years, personal blogs have allowed just about anyone to write anything they want about any subject, and then a few years ago, it became all about social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, where it was almost mandatory that one would have their own personal page where they could express themselves and share ideas with friends in whatever way they wanted. It didn’t take very long for the studios to start using those places to promote movies and to build fanbases around sites dedicated to specific movies, characters and actors, something that’s certainly been used in interesting and successful ways over the past few years.

The latest craze, one that’s not only gone mainstream but may already be close to jumping the shark is something called Twitter, kind of a cross between a chat room and a blog with people all over the map posting their thoughts or what they’re doing at any given time, done in a way that caters to the ever-growing short attention span of society as a whole. So far, it’s probably the quickest and easiest way to communicate information to others. If you like a movie, within seconds, it’s out there for all your “followers” to see, and the same works in reverse if you don’t like a movie, and it’s allowed buzz to build within seconds as “tweets” fly back and forth, allowing ideas to go viral as a community grows around the idea of Twitter feeds. While studios haven’t figured out exactly how to use these just yet, there have been some interesting ideas from creative people creating Twitter “feeds” for movie and television characters that can tie the communication experience into the worlds of these characters. The Twitter feeds created for various characters from AMC’s “Mad Men” is one example, and though no one believes that @ShiaLaBeouf is the actual movie star, those who follow his feed can get into some interesting dialogues with a fictionalized version of the enigmatic young actor.

Sure, sometimes the internet gets things wrong. Let’s not forget the insanity behind New Line’s Snakes on a Plane, which made a lot of people think that all the people chattering about the movie online might actually go see it when it opened. That didn’t happen. In the case of this week’s big buzz movie Twilight, all these new ways to communicate have brought together an enormous world fanbase and turned them rabid for the characters and stories, so in many ways, it’s a movie whose success can and should be traced back to evolving internet technology.

Some might wonder where things might go from the fast-paced world of Facebook and Twitter and whether there’ll come a time where one won’t even have to type or touchpad one’s thoughts to get them out to the rest of the world. Me, I’m wondering when technology will evolve back to the point where people can meet face to face and communicate in a way that might be called “conversation™” or “dialogue™”… maybe that’s where things are going with CNN’s recent use of hologram technology, but it’s not really the same thing as standing in front of another person and actually talking about movies, something that’s becoming a dying breed as technology makes it easier to avoid the simplest form of human communication.


Twilight (Summit Entertainment)
Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Cam Cigandet, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Ashley Greene
Directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown, The Nativity Story); Written by Melissa Rosenberg (Step Up, “Dexter,” “The O.C.,” “Birds of Prey”)
Genre: Romance, Thriller, Drama
Rated PG-13
Tagline: “When you can live forever what do you live for?”
Plot Summary: Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) is an odd teen girl who doesn’t fit in and when she’s sent to live with her father in the town of Forks, Washington, she meets the mysterious Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), who she learns is a vampire, even though he doesn’t have fangs and doesn’t drink blood. As they fall into a passionate romance, things get harder for the duo as a new clan of vampires arrive in town including James (Cam Gigantet) who decides to hunt Bella for sport.

Review

Analysis:

Less than four years after Stephenie Meyer’s vampire magnum opus hit print, it’s coming to the big screen this weekend, allowing all of the teen girls and older women who’ve thrilled to the adventures of Bella Swan and her vampire boyfriend Edward Cullen in print form to finally see them brought to life. Fact is that the novels have become a phenomenon that’s only seen once to quite such a magnitude, which is why Meyer is already being compared to J.K. Rowling while her four-book series is considered by many to be the new “Harry Potter.” That be as it may, the first book, on which this movie is based, quickly entered the New York Times bestseller list when it was released three years ago, followed by three more books, the first three spending 143 weeks (!) on the New York Times Bestsellers List before the last book “Breaking Dawn” sold $1.3 million copies in its first day, a new record. The series as a whole has sold 17 million copies worldwide and roughly half that amount in the U.S. alone.

With such an astounding publishing history under its belt, Meyer’s first book was adapted for the screen by Melissa Rosenberg, a writer and producer of genre television whose first film screenplay was for the dance hit Step Up, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, who first made wave with her indie film Thirteen, before helming a couple of flops in Lords of Dogtown (starring Emile Hirsch and Heath Ledger) and The Nativity Story.

Hardwicke has always had a knack for finding young acting talent having discovered Evan Rachel Wood, and for her most high-profile movie to date, she’s brought together a combination of established and lesser known young actors. On the one end of the scale, her Bella Swan is played by Kristen Stewart, who has actually been appearing in movies for seven years, including a prominent co-starring role opposite Jodie Foster in David Fincher’s Panic Room, followed by her first starring role in Catch That Kid, a family adventure that bombed. Stewart seemingly disappeared for a few more years before starring in three movies last year, the horror flick The Messengers, the drama In the Land of Women and appearing as part of cast of the awards-worthy Into the Wild. Edward is played by Robert Pattinson, who came to prominence playing Cedric Diggory in the fourth “Harry Potter” movie, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which opened this same weekend three years ago. Since then, Pattinson has only done a few small indies, but he certainly has the dashing good looks that the ladies are looking for in the romantic vampire Edward Cullen, which is why he’s become a primary draw for women of all ages that were already obsessed with the character before Pattinson was cast. These will be big roles for both of these young actors, especially if they continue to adapt Meyer’s other books into movies, since they’re the two constants. (Incidentally, a movie based on Meyer’s second novel “New Moon” is already in development.)

Cam Gigantet plays Edward’s main competition James, a major role for the actor who appeared on “The O.C.” and “Jack & Bobby” before co-starring in Summit’s previous hit Never Back Down. This movie also reunites Hardwicke with her Thirteen co-writer and co-star Nikki Reed in a role, and she also brought on board Anna Kendrick, who co-starred in the Sundance hit Rocket Science, and Billy Burke as Bella’s father. (Oops… sorry about that. That’s what happens when they don’t let movie writers see the movie before their deadline.) What’s interesting is that in most cases, when you have a movie based on a book as popular as Meyer’s, you don’t have to have a known cast for it to work—just look at the “Harry Potter” movies as an example of how unknown actors made those movies and became big stars in the process—but all of the cast involved at least have a few things under their belt and may even have some form of fanbase built up among the fans of the books.

While the most noticeable comparison for the craze generated by Meyer’s books and the upcoming movie is the similar craze that surrounds the “Harry Potter” books, the “Potter” books and movies have a much vaster audience, one that stretches across all four-quadrants, but also brings in kids who’ve read the books or had the books read to them. The audience for the “Twilight” books seem to be predominantly female, from 15 (or maybe younger) to 30, and while that’s still potentially a huge audience, it’s still limited to one half the population.

The pervasive trend in the recent love for vampires hasn’t just been relegated to Meyer’s books and the upcoming movie, as vampires have been a very popular genre, especially among women. Twilight has a similar romantic take on vampires as Anne Rice’s “Vampire L’Estat” novels, the first one Interview with the Vampire being turned into a movie starring no less than Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, which is probably why it grossed $105 million. Its pseudo-sequel Queen of the Damned starring Stuart Townsend didn’t fare nearly as well. There’s also the vampiric action franchise kicked off by Underworld in 2003, which combined romance with intense action in a world of vampires and werewolves, but that generally appealed more to guys and action fans than Twilight might. Adding to the growing love and interest in vampires is Alan Ball’s HBO series “True Blood,” which has also been finding lots of fans as the “Twilight” craze continued to grow.

The “Twilight” series has grown such a huge and devout following, one that’s helped contribute to Twilight being placed atop Yahoo!’s Movie Buzz Page for many weeks, and it’s not just teen girls but women 30 and up as well, who’ve fallen in love with Meyer’s books and characters. A good six months before the movie was scheduled to open, the craziness began, first seen at Comic-Con in San Diego where lines of women stretched around the block to see the cast of the movie in person. Any and all news stories about the movie have caused a huge influx of traffic to any site that posted anything about the film. By the end of the summer, it was becoming obvious this was going to be another huge event movie for women ala Sex and the City or “High School Musical 3,” although skewing across a much wider age group. Like those movies, Twilight began seeing similar huge advance ticket sales with hundreds of screenings already sold out weeks in advance. For the past two weeks, Twilight has been outselling Quantum of Solace at Fandango, one of the primary ticket sellers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will bring in more money opening weekend, since a lot of that business will likely be more frontloaded to opening day.

This will be Summit’s widest release into over 3,000 theaters and it will probably be the movie that finally puts them on the map after a number of failed wide releases. Their biggest success to date was the mixed martial arts drama Never Back Down earlier this year, which grossed less than $25 million, but the animated Fly Me to the Moon 3D and long-delayed Penelope both underperformed. In fact, they kind of lucked out because Warner Bros. decided to delay the scheduled sixth “Harry Potter” movie Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to next summer, leaving this weekend wide open. Summit jumped at the chance, moving Twilight into the open slot, almost at the exact same time that Disney pushed their own animated movie Bolt (see below) back a week to fill the space. Two movies will enter this weekend and only one can leave at the top.

With so many advance ticket sales, clearly more than the previous female event movies listed above, one has to expect that Twilight‘s midnight screenings on Thursday and all of Friday will be huge, probably amassing as much as $30 million or more. Then again, with so many women rushing out to see it, it will almost definitely lose business on Saturday and Sunday, which will probably keep it from seeing the type of enormous opening weekend numbers seen by the early “Harry Potter” movies. The question is whether it can retain some business over Thanksgiving weekend or whether it will drop dramatically once women see the movie. Those who really love the books and the characters maybe seeing the movie multiple times, especially if it lives up to their expectations about the characters, and that might mean it will have a stronger post-opening return than some of the other female-targeted event movies mentioned above.

Why I Should See It: Well, if you’re on Team Edward, then you’re going to be seeing this for the dreamy Robert Pattinson. (SWOON)
Why Not: If you’re a guy, you may be dragged to this by a wife or girlfriend, but otherwise, you probably won’t want to get caught in the theater full of fawning women. (Smart guys will hang around outside theaters for when all those women come out and are ready for some romance…)
Projections: $69 to 72 million opening weekend on its way to roughly $160 million total by the time it leaves theaters.

COMPARISONS


Bolt (Disney)
Starring (the voices of) John Travolta, Miley Cyrus, Susie Essman, Mark Walton, Nick Swardson, Malcolm McClaren, Diedrich Bader
Directed by Chris Williams and Byron Howard (supervising animators and story artists at Disney Animation); Written by Dan Fogelman (Fred Claus, Cars), Chris Williams
Genre: Animated, Family, Comedy, Adventure
Rated PG
Tagline: “Fully Awesome. Ridonculous. Let It Begin.”
Plot Summary: Bolt (voiced by John Travolta) is the super-powered canine star of a hit television show along with his human Penny (voiced by Miley Cyrus) but when the network changes the formula, Bolt thinks Penny has really been kidnapped and he escapes, thinking that he really has powers. When he ends up in New York, he meets up with a stray cat named Mittens (voiced by Susie Essman from “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) and the two of them head across the country to try and save Penny.

Mini-Review: “Bolt” is clearly Disney’s strongest CG animated effort to date, and much of that can be credited to the strength of a premise that mixes what’s worked so well in earlier Disney animated films (like “Lilo & Stitch”) with a better awareness of what makes a movie entertaining both for kids (physical humor) and adults (witty one-liners and amusing characters). It starts with an adorable scene of Miley Cyrus’ Penny picking Bolt out of a litter at a pet shop, but seconds later, we’ve jumped forward five years where the two of them are being chased by deadly henchman, as the duo try to rescue Penny’s scientist father from the menacing Dr. Calico (who better suited than Malcolm McDowell to voice that role?) In fact, Penny and her superpowered pooch are the stars of a popular television show that mainly works by the fact that its canine star is completely oblivious to the fact that everything he knows isn’t real: he has no powers and all the bad guys are actors. With that set-up, the film does a good job making fun of industry cliches through Penny’s agent who wants to shake things up to keep the younger audience who isn’t satisfied with the same happy ending every episode. In an attempt to save Penny, who Bolt believes is truly kidnapped, he ends up getting shipped off to New York City, forcing him to travel back across country to save his “person.” He drags along a stray cat named Mittens to help him and along the way, they meet Rhino, a fanatical hamster who’s been watching Bolt on TV and is thrilled to be able to help his hero. “Bolt” is really two separate movies merged together, the first one doing a fine job making fun of entertainment industry cliches, though sometimes to the point of being too hip and “inside” for its own good. The rest of the movie is a fairly standard talking animals “road trip” movie where they have to journey across a vast space to achieve some objective, like in the “Homeward Bound” movies, though with funnier jokes and interplay between the critters. It’s interesting how the movie doesn’t really turn into a talking animal movie until Bolt starts interacting with other animals, and that’s kind of where it also sometimes falters, just because we’ve seen so many movies like that before. Bolt is much more expressive when interacting with Penny without using any words, which makes their scenes together much more enjoyable. That said, Travolta does a good job providing a voice for Bolt, even if he’s paired with the grating voice of Susie Essman as Mittens, a character who gets annoying very quickly. Their interaction nearly kills the movie until Mark Walton shows up to save the day and steal the movie as the excitable hamster Rhino, a character who effortlessly produces the strongest laughs once he shows up at the movie’s midway point. Overall, the animation is excellent, especially in Disney Digital 3D, really the only way to see computer animation these days, with the level of detail and expression that can be found in the best CG animated movies of recent years. This is the most evident in the exciting action scenes of Bolt and Penny on the show, which are as good as many of the scenes in Pixar’s The Incredibles, as we watch Bolt using his various powers to take out enemies in fun ways. What really pulls the movie together is the strong score by John Powell, especially effective during the action sequences but also making the mushier moments between Penny and Bolt even more heartwarming. While “Bolt” might not quite match the consistency of humor as a DreamWorks or Pixar animated movie, it certainly tries it’s hardest, delivering a movie that’s funny and entertaining enough to satisfy most animation enthusiasts. Rating: 7.5/10

Analysis:

This being the start of the holiday movie season, it’s not surprising to see a family animated movie, but it is surprising to see two of them within two weeks, as long-time rivals Disney and DreamWorks Animation go head to head for the second time this year with Disney releasing one of their own animated productions a mere two weeks after DreamWorks Animation’s Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa became their second highest opener after the “Shrek” sequels. It’s the studio’s third computer animated movie after Chicken Little in 2005 and Meet the Robinsons last year, and like both movies, Disney is continuing their dedication to releasing their CG animated features in Disney Digital 3D.

Surprisingly, the biggest draw for this one might be the voice casting which features Miley Cyrus, the 16-year-old Disney sensation whose 3D concert film Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour was released in February to the tune of $31 million in just 683 theaters, setting a new per-theater average record before going on to gross $65 million without ever expanding beyond that initial release. Clearly, Cyrus has a huge fanbase of ‘tween and younger girls who love her music and character and the 16-year-old superstar has been making the rounds promoting her appearance in the movie with a brand new song. Disney is hoping that their teen cash cow will help their third CG animated feature bring in a similar audience to the hit concert movie, but being that it’s only Miley’s voice for a supporting character, it’s hard to imagine, shell be that much of a draw. On top of that, there’s a chance they’ll lose a lot of teen and older women to this week’s other movie Twilight, making this a second choice or one to wait to see over Thanksgiving.

To voice the title character, Disney got John Travolta, a superstar actor whose career has spanned three decades and he’s going strong into his fourth with one Disney hit under his belt (2007’s Wild Hogs) and another one scheduled for Thanksgiving ’09 (Old Dogs with the late Bernie Mac). It’s somewhat surprising that Travolta has absolutely no animation voice-over work over the course of his career, so it is new territory for him. There are a few other notable voices but the only one doing a key character is Susie Essman from “Curb Your Enthusiasm” as the voice of Bolt’s traveling companion Mittens. The character that will really have an impact is the excitable fanboy hamster Rhino, voiced by animator Mark Walton, who also voiced a character in Disney’s Chicken Little.

In the last couple of years, computer animation started to tail off as more studios got into the mix and had trouble matching the success of Pixar and DreamWorks Animation; even DreamWorks Animation having softer openings (under $40 million) for their heavily-marketed films. On the other hand, this has generally been a good year with both of DreamWorks Animation’s offerings opening with over $60 million and Pixar’s WALL•E grossing over $200 million (and probably on its way to another Oscar win for the studio.) While Disney has had huge success when distributing the movies of Pixar Animation, they haven’t had as much luck with their own 3D computer animated films as Chicken Little opened well with $40 million, beating Sam Mendes’ war movie Jarhead, but only grossing $135 million total. Last year, they released Meet the Robinsons and that grossed less than $100 million after making $25 million its opening weekend. Like those movies, a big draw for Bolt will be the Disney Digital 3D which makes their best-realized computer animation jump off the screen and the amount of digital 3D screens has really exploded since the release of “Robinsons,” which means that more audiences can see it in the preferred format that has helped bring a lot more business to releases in the past year like Beowulf, Journey to the Center of the Earth and the aforementioned Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus concert film. 3D has become more than just a novelty, but just a great way to experience movies that take advantage of the technology.

Another good thing going for Bolt is that it features talking animals, which continues to be very popular among wide mainstream audiences. Disney is coming off the surprising success of their family comedy Beverly Hills Chihuahua, which has grossed $91 million, so another movie about a loveable dog might be just what the CEO ordered to continue the studio’s successful run. Everyone loves dogs, as seen by the fascination with Puppy Cam (or maybe that’s just me), so a movie about a dog can certainly do well. Unfortunately, it will be competing for some of the same female audience that normally enjoys animation but will likely go to see Twilight, at least on Friday. In theory at least, younger mothers that go see Twilight with their friends on Friday could then take their younger kids and daughters to see Bolt over the weekend. There’s also some hope that the amount of action in Bolt will bring in some of the more open-minded guys who’ve already seen Quantum of Solace, because the movie contains a lot of the type of superhero action as seen in Pixar’s popular The Incredibles, which opened in November 2006 and became their second highest grossing animated feature.

While the movie’s opening might be somewhat softer than Chicken Little due to the presence of Twilight and other movies taking up screens, including the unfortunately proximity to DreamWorks Animation’s latest, expect Bolt to have a solid opening weekend and then maintain that business over next weekend’s post Thanksgiving shopper’s bonanza where it will be the only PG movie that large families will be able to see as a group.

Why I Should See It: This may be the closest that a Disney Animation movie gets to the level of humor and animation of a Pixar Animation release.
Why Not: Yeah, but it’s not REALLY Pixar, is it?
Projections: $36 to 39 million opening weekend and $135 million total.

COMPARISONS


THE CHOSEN ONE:

Unfortunately, due to time constraints, we weren’t able to get to the mini-reviews for this week’s limited release choices, but hopefully, that’ll be resolved later in the week.

The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) (Cinema Guild)
Starring Thavisouk Phrasavath
Directed by Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath
Genre: Documentary
Plot Summary: This stirring documentary follows the journey of co-director Thavisouk Phrasavath’s family and their struggle to escape war-torn Laos and make their way to New York. It opens at the IFC Center in New York on Friday.

Mini-Review: (Coming Soon!)

Honorable Mention:

Special (Magnet Releasing)
Starring Michael Rapaport, Ian Bohen, Alexandra Holden, Andrew Leeds, Ian McConnel, Josh Peck
Written and directed by Hal Haberman, Jeremy Passmore
Genre: Drama
Rated R
Plot Summary: Len Franken (Michael Rapaport) is a lonely meter maid who enjoys reading comic books but when he agrees to test an experimental anti-depressant, Specioprin Hydrochloride, he begins to develop various powers including flight and telepathy, so he puts together his own superhero costume in order to fight crime.

Mini-Review (Coming Soon!)

Also in Limited Release:

Lake City (Screen Media Films) – Sissy Spacek and Troy Garrity (Jane Fonda’s son) star in this drama co-directed by Hunter Hill and Perry Moore (co-producer of the “Narnia” films) about a young man who returns to his childhood home in the South when he runs into trouble with a drug dealer (played by rocker Dave Matthews) where he’s reunited with his mother for the first time in years. It opens in New York on Friday.

Harvard Beats Yale 29 – 29 (Kino International) – Director Kevin Rafferty (Atomic Café) recounts the historic face-off between the undefeated football teams of Harvard and Yale on November 23, 1968, cutting together actual footage with the recollections of the men who played in the famed game. It opens at the Film Forum on Wednesday.

Mini-Review: (Coming Soon!)

I Can’t Think Straight (Regent Releasing/Here! Films) – Shamim Sarif directs this adaptation of her own novel, once again starring Lisa Ray and Sheetal Sheth and dealing with Lesbian issues in the Muslim world. This one is a romantic comedy starring Ray as Tala, a Palestinian woman from London preparing to get married in Jordan when she meets Sheth’s Leyla, a British Indian woman. It opens in select theaters Friday, while Sarif’s follow-up, based on her third novel “The World Unseen” is still playing in select theaters.

Mini-Review (Coming Soon)


Next week, it’s Thanksgiving and three new movies will be fighting for moviegoers’ dollars over the prime shopping and movie-viewing weekend. Vince Vaugn and Reese Witherspoon celebrate Four Christmases (New Line/WB) in the comedy with the widest appeal, while Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!) returns with his romantic epic Australia (20th Century Fox), starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. Jason Statham also returns in the action 3quel Transporter 3 (Lionsgate).

Copyright 2008 Edward Douglas