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Hello, all!

I hope everyone had a great Halloween!  It truly is one of my favorite times of the year.  And, now that we’re into November the studios are revving up to bring out their big guns for the holiday season.  The next eight weeks or so should be pretty solid.  And, as we approach the end of the year the studios will start bringing their big Oscar contenders.  This is truly the best time of year for movie lovers. 

So, let’s take a look at this week’s releases…

“The Men WHo Stare At Goats”

Trailer

Synopsis: Reporter Bob Wilton is in search of his next big story when he encounters Lyn Cassady, a shadowy figure who claims to be part of an experimental U.S. military unit. According to Cassady, the New Earth Army is changing the way wars are fought. A legion of “Warrior Monks” with unparalleled psychic powers can read the enemy’s thoughts, pass through solid walls, and even kill a goat simply by staring at it. Now, the program’s founder, Bill Django, has gone missing and Cassady’s mission is to find him. Intrigued by his new acquaintance’s far-fetched stories, Bob impulsively decides to accompany him on the search. When the pair tracks Django to a clandestine training camp run by renegade psychic Larry Hooper, the reporter is trapped in the middle of a grudge match between the forces of Django’s New Earth Army and Hooper’s personal militia of super soldiers. In order to survive this wild adventure, Bob will have to outwit an enemy he never thought possible.

MovieDruid’s Comments: THis one looks like it skirts a razor’s edge of silliness without falling off into the realm of stupidity.  The concept is so ridiculous, that it will have to be well handled to keep from making that fall, but it appears to be in relatively good hands.  THe director, Grant Heslov, is a relative newcomer to the director’s chair, but he has veteran actors like George Clooney (“Ocean’s 11” & “From Dusk Til Dawn), Ewan McGregor (“Trainspotting” & “Angels & Demons”), and Kevin Spacey (“American Beauty” & “The Usual Suspects”) to work with.  The acting chops involved in this project alone make it worth a recommendation, but this one looks to have the dry wit of “Ocean’s 11” and the dark humor of “Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels.”

“The Fourth Kind”

Trailer

Synopsis: In 1972, a scale of measurement was established for alien encounters. When a UFO is sighted, it is called an encounter of the first kind. When evidence is collected, it is known as an encounter of the second kind. When contact is made with extraterrestrials, it is the third kind. The next level, abduction, is the fourth kind. This encounter has been the most difficult to document…until now. Structured unlike any film before it, “The Fourth Kind” is a provocative thriller set in modern-day Nome, Alaska, where-mysteriously since the 1960s-a disproportionate number of the population has been reported missing every year. Despite multiple FBI investigations of the region, the truth has never been discovered. Here in this remote region, psychologist Dr. Abigail Tyler began videotaping sessions with traumatized patients and unwittingly discovered some of the most disturbing evidence of alien abduction ever documented. Using never-before-seen archival footage that is integrated into the film, The Fourth Kind exposes the terrified revelations of multiple witnesses. Their accounts of being visited by alien figures all share disturbingly identical details, the validity of which is investigated throughout the film.

MovieDruid’s Comments: Something about this film just gives me a vibe.  And, it’s not a good vibe.  Every time I see a trailer for this one it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  The concept seems a bit stale to me.  The push to make this seem like a “true story” seems even more heavy-handed than the one used for “The Blair Witch Project.” And, the pieces of the film we’re shown in the trailer just seem a bit cheesy to me.  About the only thing about this one that comes out as a positive is Milla Jovovich (“The Fifth Element” & “Kuffs”), but even she can be a bit uneven in her performances, especially when the material is a bit touchy (i.e. the “Resident Evil” franchise).

“The Box”

Trailer

Synopsis: Norma and Arthur Lewis are a suburban couple with a young child who receive an anonymous gift bearing fatal and irrevocable consequences. A simple wooden box, it promises to deliver its owner $1 million with the press of a button. However, pressing this button will simultaneously cause the death of another human being somewhere in the world–someone they don’t know. With just 24 hours to have the box in their possession, Norma and Arthur find themselves in the crosshairs of a startling moral dilemma and face the true nature of their humanity.

MovieDruid’s Comments: This movie probably should have been released last week for Halloween.  It would have been a solid thriller for that weekend, but apparently the studio disagrees.  Everything about this movie recommends it.  The premise is original, and appears to be well realized.  They picked the right director, Richard Kelly (“Donnie Darko”), to direct such a strange tale. They protagonists were cast well with Cameron Diaz (“The Mask” & “There’s Something About Mary”) and James Marsden (“X-Men” & “Enchanted”) in the roles of the couple given the choice.  But, I must say, my favorite decision here is the selection of the truly gifted Frank Langella (“Frost/Nixon” & “The Ninth Gate”) as the villain.  This looks to be a truly chilling ride.

“A Christmas Carol” – MovieDruid Pick of the Week

Trailer

Synopsis: Ebenezer Scrooge begins the Christmas holiday with his usual miserly contempt, barking at his faithful clerk and his cheery nephew. But, when the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come take him on an eye-opening journey revealing truths Old Scrooge is reluctant to face, he must open his heart to undo years of ill will before it’s too late.

MovieDruid’s Comments: “A Christmas Carol” has always been one of my favorite holiday stories.  Something about the tale has a timeless quality that speaks to us generation after generation.  And, here is what looks like a well crafted telling of the tale.  And, the talent couldn’t be more impressive.  Disney tapped director Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump” & “Contact”) to use the motion capture technology he used for “Beowulf” and the incomparable “The Polar Express” to create the film.  Then, in a move that seems brilliant in its simplicity, they brough the extremely talented Jim Carrey onboard to handle the voices of not only Scrooge, but all of the spirits as well.  The filmmakers have also made a point of stating they are trying to make a film that truly communicates the story Dickens wrote.  I hope they succeed.  In anticipation of the film, I tore through the story again via DailyLit.  If you have never read it, I highly recommend it (it is only about 36 pages, and took me less than 2 hours to read while working).  Also, for those interested, Disney is actually releasing the film in four “flavors”: traditional cinema, IMAX, and 3D versions of both traditional and IMAX.  I know it’s a bit early for a Christmas story, but this one is as much a ghost story as a Christmas one, thus a bit after Halloween actually feels a bit appropriate.  I must admit, I have been looking forward to this one ever since Disney announced it.

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2 Comments

  1. Oh, I’m so nervous about A Christmas Carol, especially after my traumatic experience with Where the Wild Things Are. It’s not that I expect movies to stay to-the-letter true to the book. In fact, some of my favorite adaptations don’t even come close. But sigh. Dickens is one of my nineteenth-century boyfriends, despite his probable misogyny, and I would hate to hate this movie. Especially because — well — sometimes Jim Carrey creeps me out.

    It could be fantastic. We’ll see.

    • I caught an interview with Zemeckis during one of the endless pre-movie video programs a few weeks ago. He had some interesting things to say about everything from character design to scripting vis-a-vis the source material. So, my hopes are high on this one. He handled “The Polar Express” well, even if he had to depart from the text a bit to make a feature length production. I guess we both need to keep our fingers crossed.


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