Somewhere: I think what everyone needs to keep in mind is that Sofia Coppola is kind of a niche act; a misunderstanding about this might explain why people were so surprised when Marie Antoinette turned out to be, you know, a Sofia Coppola type of movie. So, yes, Somewhere looks like a rejiggered Lost in Translation: a washed-up actor at home instead of abroad meets his sweet, precocious daughter instead of a sour, precocious hottie. But it's been a few years since we've tasted that bittersweet Sofia-style ennui, and even longer (an actual eternity?) since Stephen Dorff did anything of interest, so there should be built-up demand for this. Maybe nothing happens in it, but nothing happening in a movie is sometimes underrated [Oh, wooooooord. -Ed]. Very little happens in How Do You Know, to take one recent example, but the lack of busy rom-com incident makes it feel enjoyably unhurried and well-considered, even when it's also sort of stilted and bizarre.
The Illusionist: I know people love Triplets of Belleville, and I liked it too, but it also felt to me like a movie that could've easily been half, a quarter, or three times the length: less a story than a charming, rambling art piece. The Illusionist looks a little more focused, but I wouldn't be surprised if it also lacks some urgency. I'm saving this one for January after I've seen the other Oscar-y movies plus Season of the Witch.
Little Fockers: Conventional wisdom holds that this is the bottom of the Focker barrel, but I'd put Little Fockers maybe a notch or two above Meet the Fockers simply because I chuckled a handful of times as De Niro's deadpan-taskmaster shtick before it hardens back into sitcom conflict in the back half of the movie—and I remember nothing about Meet the Fockers except appalled silence that they didn't write anything better for the genius casting of Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Steisand as Ben Stiller's parents. Little Fockers is little more (and often quite less) than a series of loosely connected quasi-comic vignettes so transparently arranged around the shooting schedules of these actors that you start expecting scenes to end with the limo driver honking and Hoffman or Streisand or Owen Wilson saying "OK, gotta go!" Further shame: Stiller, Wilson, De Niro, and Hoffman all come perilously close to having their scenes stolen by an uncharacteristically loose, goofy Jessica Alba, as a pharm rep with her eyes on a parnership with Stiller's Greg Focker. She's not hilarious, mind, but she performs with a lot of good cheer, maybe because she's the only cast member for whom this might constitute a step up from routine, not a depressingly well-paid comedown. Stiller and De Niro already did some artistically adventurous penance earlier this year via Greenberg and Stone, but Hoffman owes us one. If you're in the mood to marvel at the pure, insane waste that so many relatively to extremely prominent comedians, actors, and filmmakers with better credits can indulge in because someone decided it was extremely marketable waste, by all means, spend your holiday with a Little Fockers/Gulliver's Travels double feature.