THE HOLIDAY FILM PREVIEW 

You’ve suffered through Flightplan and Dukes of Hazzard, Deuce Bigalow European Gigolo and My Date with Drew (or enjoyed them, how the hell do we know?) The point is that those fluffy films have floated away like so much cinematic ragweed and in its place an autumnal harvest of films of quality are on the horizon (presumably.) There’s movies about trannies on the run, cowpokes getting poked and one very, very big ape. Plus lions, witches Nazis and Israeli assassins. Pass the stuffing.

November 23

39 Pounds of Love (Dani Menkin)
Doc about a 39-lb, 34-year-old muscular dystrophy patient who has a career as a computer animator.

Ice Harvest (Harold Ramis)
Hmm...a foul-mouthed Christmas caper comedy starring Billy Bob Thornton, you say?

In the Mix (Ron Underwood)
Although we’ve always considered ourselves to be Usher fanatics of the first order, we must confess we had never heard of this particular star vehicle before we found out we’d need to tell you about it.

Just Friends (Roger Kumble)
Ryan Reynolds hitches his wagon to the wildly popular “fat suit” rom-com subgenre (hey, if it worked for Gwyneth Paltrow...)

Rent (Chris Columbus)
If the guy who made Home Alone 2: Lost in New York in 1992 can’t recreate the AIDS-plagued Bohemian East Village scene of the early 90’s, then who can?

Syriana (Stephen Gaghan)
So the guy who wrote Traffic wrote and directed another panoramic-plotted mega-drama, only about oil instead of drugs.

Yours, Mine and Ours (Raja Gosnell)
Remake of 60s huge family comedy features two baseball teams worth of adorable moppets. Just think how many stage parents must have been around during the production.

December 2

Aeon Flux (Karyn Kusama)
Charlize Theron, sensibly enough, stars in the film adaptation of the animated MTV series. On a related note, Rex Reed’s head just exploded.

Be Here to Love Me: a Film About Townes Van Zandt (Margaret Brown)
Clearly, the filmmakers aren’t worried about Aeon Flux eating up their prospective audience.

I’m Taraneh, 15 (Rasul Sadrameli)
Another Iranian film about a teenage girl, if that’s your kind of thing.

TransAmerica (Duncan Tucker)
Felicity Huffman plays a pre-op male-to-female transsexual on a cross-country road trip; our Played Out Puerile Joke Researchers inform us that “Desperate to be a Housewife” has not yet been used to describe Huffman’s character in this movie, but that, “it’s not really that funny.”

December 9

Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee)
Our Played Out Puerile Joke Researchers also inform us that “Bareback Mountain” gets roughly 475,000 Google hits, so we should probably take this blurb in another direction.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Andrew Adamson)
If we were Machiavellian Disney execs (probably redundant, but bear with), we would have entered this movie in a game of Release Date Chicken with the new Harry Potter, and tried to play up the pagan vs. evangelical undertones angle in an effort to leverage the increasingly viable right-wing moviegoing audience and decimate Harry’s audience. It’s probably a good thing we don’t run Hollywood.

Isn’t This a Time: A Tribute Concert for Harold Leventhal (Jim Brown)
Documents the 2003 Carnegie Hall event lauding the recently deceased folkie.

Memoirs of a Geisha (Rob Marshall)
Chicago overdirector Marshall does his part in Hollywood’s ongoing attempt to put the entirety of our mother’s 1990s suburban book club’s reading list onto celluloid (see also: Snow Falling on Cedars, Cold Mountain, Like Water for Chocolate, etc.). If this movie doesn’t make Ziyi Zhang a household name, by the way, we are going to be royally put out.

Mrs. Henderson Presents (Stephen Frears)
Judi Dench! 1930s England! Nudity! Bob Hoskins!

The World’s Fastest Indian (Roger Donaldson)
Anthony Hopkins stars as world land speed record-holding motorcycle racer Bert Munro. Yeah, we don’t know either.

December 14

King Kong (Peter Jackson)
Jackson’s just-made-three-of-the-most-successful-movies-like-ever-all-in-a-row-and-can-now-make-whatever-movie-he-
damn-well-pleases project is a remake of what he says is his favorite movie.

The 3 Burials of Melaquiades Estrada (Tommy Lee Jones)
One-week qualifying run before its proper opening in early February. Awesome title, by the way.

December 16

The Family Stone (Thomas Bezucha)
It’s about a family, named Stone... um... we got nothing.

The Producers (Susan Stroman)
Yeah, it’s a movie based on a musical based on a movie, and it’s all very circular and ironic. Yeah.

December 21

Cheaper by the Dozen 2 (Adam Shankman)
Mark your calendars.

Fun With Dick and Jane (Dean Parisot)
Because we have nothing of interest to say, we’ll relate to you the titles of the discussion threads about this film on imdb.com. They are: “What do you think is the Best Jim Carrey Movie???” The Coffee Shop Guy in the Trailer is soooo hot” “5 BEST COMEDIANS OF ALL TIME” “Good, but not great” “Fun with Dick and Jane is Jim Carrey’s first movie remake” and “I NEED ACE VENTURA 3!!” Oh, wait, we started that one.

The White Countess (James Ivory)
The first Merchant-Ivory production since Merchant’s recent death features a 1930s Shanghai-set original script from Remains of the Day novelist Kazuo Ishiguro (somehow, the prospect of a Merchant-Ivory adaptation of Never Let Me Go seems... unlikely?), not one but two (count ‘em!) Redgraves, and two thirds of the cinematographers of 2046.

December 23

Cache (Michael Haneke)
The perfectly wicked darling of the Cannes and New York festivals; it’s chilling, but A.O. Scott’s “bourgeois self-flagellation as self-congratulation” diagnosis of its likely audience is probably spot-on.

Freedomland (Joe Roth)
Which will have to work damn hard to overcome its title.

The Libertine (Laurence Dunmore)
Johnny Depp is the Libertine. But you already knew that.

Munich (Steven Spielberg)
Because everybody loves a feel-good holiday movie, a film about a secret team of Mossad agents tracking down and killing those involved, or suspected to have been involved, in the 1972 kidnapping and murder of eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team.

The Matador (Richard Shepard)
Clever conceit — worn-out hitman spills life story to a stranger in a bar, only to run into him again, like, how awkward-— shares a title and little else with the 80s Almodovar flick that is undisputedly The Single Most Fun Movie Title To Say While Doing A Terrible Impression Of Antonio Banderas. (Seriously, try it.)

The Ringer (Barry W. Blaustein)
Johnny Knoxville pretends to be disabled to win the Special Olympics, in an astoundingly perfect union of performer and role.

December 25

Casanova (Lasse Hallstrom)
Somehow, we look upon Heath Ledger as Casanova with slightly less credulity than we regard Depp as The Libertine.

Hoodwinked (Cory Edwards, Todd Edwards, Tony Leech)
Animated Little Red Riding Hood seeks to prove, once and for all, that if three directors are credited together on a movie, that movie will be three times as good as a regular movie.

Match Point (Woody Allen)
Advance word is that this England-set romantic thriller (which, by the way, huh?) is Woody’s best movie since fill-in-the-blank; we’re excited to see Scarlett Johansson become the latest ascendant starlet to be wiped off the screen by the sheer force of Jonathan Rhys Myers’s world-beating prettiness. Set ‘em up, knock ‘em down, Johnny Boy.

The New World (Terrence Malick)
Malick’s fourth feature film in more than 30 years is the story of John Smith’s expedition — Colin Farrell is Smith, and Christian Bale shows up long enough to marry Pocahontas.

Rumor Has It (Rob Reiner)
We had absolutely nothing to say about this movie (the world can only take so many Kevin Costner jokes)(other than, you know, Kevin Costner)(sorry) — and then we found out that Colleen Camp, famed for her breathless portrayal of Yvette in Clue, is cast in the role of “Woman.”

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