A week loaded with oh-so-worthy awards season contenders is offset with the comic relief of Jim Carrey’s performance captured flailing, George Clooney’s self-deluded staring, and the teasing promise of an affordable(!) trip to the ballet.
You could make the argument that if Richard Kelly could only get the whole world to come over to his house and listen to his record collection, he might not feel the need to make films at all. That said, his fall from grace following the flop of “Southland Tales” was so total that he went from the director anointed as the hipster’s David Lynch to the arthouse M. Night Shyamalan overnight. With much riding on this comeback, Kelly has turned to Richard Matheson’s short story “Button, Button,” previously immortalized as an episode of “The Twilight Zone,” for his source for this story of a mysterious stranger (Frank Langella) who presents a seemingly impossible moral dilemma to a financially troubled suburban couple (Cameron Diaz and James Marsden).
“A Christmas Carol”
While the eerily artificial presentation of “The Polar Express” ultimately didn’t harm its box office numbers, the much-derided “dead-eye syndrome” that inhibited Tom Hanks ensured that Robert Zemeckis’ first venture into the world of performance capture films could only go up, qualitywise. Zemeckis is back for another crack at a Yuletide tale, this time with Jim Carrey donning the green-screen suit to play more than half a dozen different roles in this adaptation of the Charles Dickens’ classic. Most prominently, he inhabits the role of unrepentant miser Ebenezer Scrooge, who finds himself visited by ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future (all played by Carrey), imploring him to change his ways.
Opens wide in 3D and IMAX.
Have chronicled both the Yes Men and the enchanting directorial exploits of Wisconsin’s own Mark Borchardt, filmmaker Chris Smith continues to gravitate towards indelible misfits and their attempts to get the world’s attention with this documentary portrait of noted doomsayer and self-described investigative reporter Michael Ruppert. Employing the same stream-of-consciousness confessional format as James Toback’s recent “Tyson,” Smith’s film takes the form of a series of grimly disturbing monologues in which the former Los Angeles police officer makes his case for the camera as to how our misguided energy policy and unregulated financial industry will ultimately bring about the collapse of western civilization.
Opens in New York; opens in Los Angeles on November 13th.
“La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet”
Let’s face it, even in a good economy, the high ticket prices of a ballet performance ensure that the closest most of us will ever get to see some pirouetting is tossing “Billy Elliot” into the DVD player. But now, thanks to legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman, we don’t just see the stage, but get to peek inside the hallowed halls of the Paris Opera for an intimate look at the world-renowned Ballet de l’Opera National.
Opens in New York.
With awards season in full swing, a quick glance at some of the potential Oscar-baiters confirms that this year apartheid is the new Holocaust. Focusing on the revolution as opposed to the conflict, “Vantage Point” director Pete Travis’ adaptation of journalist Robert Harvey’s book plays out far away from the political turmoil in South Africa in an idyllic country manner in Somerset, England. Brit thesp Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as ANC information director (and future South African president) Thabo Mbeki, who amidst tense negotiations with the National Party discovers a kindred spirit in Will Esterhuyse (William Hurt), a white university professor.
Opens in limited release.
“The Fourth Kind”
You’ve only got to look at the business “Paranormal Activity” is currently doing to understand why filmmakers return time and again to “found footage” and “documentary reenactment” as the medium of choice for their no-frills thrill rides. (It’s bloody cheap, for starters.) This feature debut from director Olatunde Osunsanmi (a Joe Carnahan protégé) announced itself via a meta-movie viral marketing campaign featuring star Milla Jovovich as herself. The Ukranian actress stars as Dr. Abigail Tyler, a psychologist investigating patient reports of alien abduction in the sleepy town of Nome, Alaska. Maybe we’ll get really lucky and they’ll take her husband.
“A French Gigolo”
Striking a more somber note than her other recent works, this bittersweet romance from French author, actress and filmmaker Josiane Balasko offers a wounded take on the adage that money can’t buy you love, but it does allow you to rent it for a little while. What begins as a simple business attraction between Judith (Nathalie Baye), a wealthy but lonely divorcée, and Marco (Eric Caravaca), a married, working-class gigolo, gradually evolves into a deeper emotional connection, highlighting the many parallels and the hypocrisies that exist between marriage and prostitution. In French with subtitles.
Opens in New York.
“Make The Yuletide Gay”
The latest from queer cinema director Rob Williams, this gay relationship drama once again showcases that, as far as cinema is concerned, Christmas is little more than an excuse to accumulate a few hundred pairs of socks and a naff sweater from Grandma, and engage in a row with your family. Keith Jordan fronts this mug of Christmas cheer as Olaf “Gunn” Gunnunderson, a gay college student who retreats into the closet when he goes home for the holidays, only to be dragged out kicking and screaming by his boyfriend (former “Degrassi: The Next Generation” star Adamo Ruggiero), who shows up unexpectedly on the Gunnundersons’ doorstep.
Opens in Los Angeles.