by Sara Michelle Fetters -
SGN Contributing Writer
Looking ahead toward November, it is clear that Hollywood is going for the tried and true to win your precious holiday box-office dollars.
Shrek earns a spin-off with Puss in Boots, Kermit and company return to the big screen with The Muppets, second doses of Happy Feet and Piranha stake out their respective territories, Harold and Kumar toke it up for a third time (this time the doobie is in 3D), and the first half of the closing chapter in the Twilight saga begins its pregnant assault on teenage girls and their precious heartstrings.
On the plus side, there are new films from Clint Eastwood (J. Edgar), Martin Scorsese (Hugo), Alexander Payne (The Descendants), David Cronenberg (A Dangerous Method), and the always controversial Lars von Trier (Melancholia) to look forward to, so it isn't going to be a total loss.
As for December, some of the more intriguing titles on the docket make appearances, like Steven Spielberg's WWI drama War Horse, David Fincher's supposedly gruesome take on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody's Juno follow-up Young Adult, Roman Polanski's Carnage, Cameron Crowe's We Bought a Zoo, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy with Gary Oldman all making an appearance. Add to that high-profile sequels like Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, and - can't forget this one - Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked and you've got the makings for a potentially intriguing capper to 2011's cinematic slate.
Here are some of the films scheduled to hit Seattle screens in November and December. As always, release dates are subject to change, so don't hold it against me if a title that sparks your interest doesn't materialize.
Like Crazy - Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, and Jennifer Lawrence in a romantic drama about a visiting British coed who falls madly in love with one of her American classmates only to discover that her student visa has been suddenly revoked. Guess what happens from there?
My Week with Marilyn - Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh, and Emma Watson in a docudrama about the tempestuous relationship between Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier during the filming of The Prince and the Showgirl .
Puss in Boots - Shrek's second-favorite sidekick (what? No Donkey movie?) gets his own spin-off/prequel documenting the events surrounding the sword-wielding feline before he met up with the massive green ogre. Antonio Banderas returns to voice the title character, while Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, and Billy Bob Thornton come along for the ride.
The Skin I Live In - Banderas again, this time reuniting with Spanish wunderkind Pedro Almodóvar in a twisted tale of a renowned plastic surgeon who takes revenge upon the individual most responsible for inflicting an unfathomable tragedy upon him and his family. Trust me, to say more would spoil the surprise, because holy cow is it one heck of a doozy.
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas - Everyone's favorite potheads this side of Cheech and Chong return for some R-rated yuletide shenanigans. Fans of the series will undoubtedly be ecstatic while everyone else continues to scratch their heads and wonder what all the fuss is about.
Immortals - Greek mythology gets the Tarsem Singh (The Fall, The Cell) treatment as men and gods join forces to battle the imprisoned titans and stop a ruthless demigod from taking control of the Earth.
J. Edgar - Clint Eastwood, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black pool their talents on a biopic of the FBI's notorious leader chronicling his rise to power as well as some of his more, um, 'closeted' activities the country's Top Cop went out of his way to keep out of the public eye.
Jack and Jill - Adam Sandler costars with Adam Sandler in a tale of brother and sister twins who reunite over the Thanksgiving holiday. The trailer is easily one of the most painful and unfunny I've ever had the displeasure to see.
The Descendants - Star George Clooney and acclaimed writer/director Alexander Payne (Sideways, Election) bring forth a dramatic comedy about a selfish, somewhat clueless Hawaiian father who must learn how to be a proper parent when his wife becomes gravely ill, only to have his world collapse around him when he discovers she was having an affair.
Happy Feet Two - More dancing penguins, director George Miller (Mad Max, The Witches of Eastwick) following up his surprise 2006 Academy Award-winner with this sequel. The question is, has too much time passed between the original and this new adventure for audiences to be interested? I guess we'll all just have to wait and see.
Melancholia - Director Lars von Trier's (Antichrist) latest about the end of the world caused a mighty controversy after its screening at the Cannes Film Festival when the iconoclastic filmmaker made some inflammatory remarks. As for the film itself, it's supposed to be something rather toxic as well, and whether or not that's a compliment probably depends on how you feel about von Trier's previous epics.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part I - Bella and Edward embark on matrimonial bliss, but an unexpected pregnancy coupled with the arrival of the Volturi complicate matters beyond anything either of the lovebirds could have anticipated. Wake me when it's over.
The Artist - Cannes Film Festival favorite about a 1927 silent film star featuring performances by Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Missi Pyle, and Malcolm McDowell. Oh yeah, it's also silent.
Arthur Christmas - Animated spectacle detailing how it is possible for Santa to deliver all of those presents in a single night. I'm sure it will be a hit, but I do have to admit the first teaser trailer did nothing to spark either my interest, or that of any of the kids I happened to view it with.
A Dangerous Method - David Cronenberg's (A History of Violence, Scanners) sexually-charged drama starring Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud, Michael Fassbender as Carl Jung, and Keira Knightley as the mysterious, mentally unbalanced young woman who comes between them.
Hugo - Director Martin Scorsese tries his hand at 3D with this fantasy-adventure set in 1930s Paris about a young orphan boy living inside the walls of a train station.
The Muppets - Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Amy Adams, Fozzy the Bear, Scooter, Gonzo the Great, Jason Segel, and many others join forces to bring Jim Henson's classic characters back to the big screen for the first time since 1999's Muppets in Space.
Piranha 3DD - While the first film (a semi-remake of the 1978 Joe Dante classic) wasn't a smash, it was a surprising critical success and developed a pretty humongous following on Blu-ray and DVD, so it's no wonder this quickly produced sequel is hitting theaters. But Thanksgiving weekend? Really?
Outrage - Disappointing Takeshi Kitano (Fireworks, Brother) thriller about warring Yakuza clans going after one another on the streets of Tokyo. Some great set pieces, a few indelible moments, but lacks the signature brutal grace and sinister charm of Kitano's best efforts.
We Need to Talk About Kevin - Polarizing drama that split audiences right down the middle during last summer's Cannes Film Festival with John C. Reilly and Tilda Swinton in a tale about a disturbed teen who goes on a killing spree in order to deal with his grief. Not exactly an upper, to be sure.
New Year's Eve - Star-studded sort-of-sequel to last year's Valentine's Day with director Garry Marshall returning with another tale of love, romance, and friendship set against the backdrop of a popular holiday where kissing your loved ones is all the rage. I admit to not being excited one teensy weensy little bit.
The Sitter - Jonah Hill is a babysitter totally unprepared for the wild night ahead of him in this variation on Adventures in Babysitting, directed by Pineapple Express and George Washington filmmaker David Gordon Green.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - Hugely anticipated adaptation of the John le Carré favorite directed by Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In) and starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, and John Hurt. To say Oscar buzz is swirling around this one would be a titanic understatement.
W.E. - Madonna steps behind the camera to direct this romantic drama chronicling the affair between King Edward VIII and American divorcée Wallis Simpson. Early reviews, suffice it to say, have not been kind.
Young Adult - Director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody reteam for the first time since Juno for this comedic drama about a divorced writer who comes back to her tiny hometown in hopes of rekindling things with an ex-boyfriend even though he's now happily married with a couple of kids. Charlize Theron is considered an early Oscar frontrunner for her supposedly fearless performance.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked - Do I really need to say anything here?
Carnage - Roman Polanski's (The Ghost Writer, Chinatown) adaptation of Yasmina Reza's award-winning play starring Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz, John C. Reilly, and Kate Winslet. Early reviews have been mixed, but considering the pedigree, my anticipation level still remains high all the same.
The Iron Lady - Meryl Streep plays Margaret Thatcher. Can you say 'Oscar?' How about 'Best Actress?' I knew you could.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law reunite with director Guy Ritchie to present a second adventure concerning writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's iconic supersleuth, and they've brought Girl with the Dragon Tattoo star Noomi Rapace along for the ride.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Speaking of this particular title, director David Fincher (The Social Network, Zodiac) presents his take on the Stieg Larsson favorite casting Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara in the pivotal central roles. Apparently pushes the boundaries of its R rating, but then so did the Norwegian version so this shouldn't come as a surprise.
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol - The Incredibles and The Iron Giant director Brad Bird makes the leap from animation to live action with this fourth entry in the Tom Cruise action-adventure series, teaming the international superstar with two-time Academy Award-nominee Jeremy Renner in a globetrotting thriller involving the bombing of the Kremlin.
The Adventures of Tintin - Motion-capture adventure based on the Hergé comic book series, directed by Steven Spielberg, produced by Peter Jackson, and with a screenplay by Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz), Joe Cornish (Attack the Block), and Steven Moffat (Doctor Who). Supposed to be the next big thing, but for some reason I just can't work up any enthusiasm for it.
The Darkest Hour - Alien invasion thriller with Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, and Max Minghella set in Russia and, from all that I can tell, offers up not a single thing we haven't seen numerous times before.
We Bought a Zoo - Writer/director Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous, Say Anything) makes his much-anticipated return to the cinematic stage with this quirky drama starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson in a story about a father who suddenly moves his family into the country to renovate and reopen a dilapidated zoo.
War Horse - Steven Spielberg's second opening in two weeks, this intimate drama is based on the award-winning novel by Michael Morpurgo and chronicles the adventures of a young boy and the horse he loves set against the backdrop of World War I. No matter how good it ends up being, expect a ton of Oscar nominations for this one.
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