The Weekender: Too much of a good thing


We Bought a Zoo (PG)
Starring Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church
Written for the screen by Alien Brosh McKenna and Cameron Crowe
Directed by Cameron Crowe
What happens when you one of the best and one of the worst screenwriters of all time join forces for a film clearly after some Marley & Me money? Hard to say, though early word says the film hits plenty of clichés but all the right notes, too. This is Crowe’s first adapted screenplay and first film after the fiasco of Elizabethtown (a movie that’s certainly a big ol’ mess, but one I still enjoy). If he could convince Damon, who was leery of accepting a role in a movie that could easily get trite, I’m sure he can convince his audience there’s more going on here too.

The Artist (PG-13)
Starring Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, Penelope Ann Miller
Written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius
If I told you the Oscar frontrunner was a silent black-and-white romance, you’d probably wonder how I got a time machine and traveled from 1928. But this is 2011, and Hazanavicius’ ode to Hollywood’s glory days has been showered with praise since its debut at Cannes in May. Many critics have fallen under its spell, but a few have been only mildly impressed. Still, you won’t see anything like it this year.

A Dangerous Method (R)
Starring Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley
Written for the screen by Christopher Hampton
Directed by David Cronenberg
Despite being considered perhaps the greatest Canadian filmmaker, Cronenberg got a rather chilly reception in Toronto for his adaptation of Christopher Hampton’s play. Many found it lacked the thrills of his earlier works. But it’s always fun to see a great director try something different. In time, I’m sure his take on the feud between Freud (Mortensen) and Jung (Fassbender) will gain as much respect as his other masterworks.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (R)
Starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy
Written for the screen by Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan
Directed by Tomas Alfredson
There may be little need for another adaptation of a 35-year-old spy novel, but what a cast. Oldman is still in play for a long overdue Oscar nomination as the ex-spook pulled back in to MI-5 to sniff out a mole. Along the way, he’ll talk to Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Toby Jones, Ciaran Hinds, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Hurt and Mark Strong. I’m getting goosebumps already.

Also opening:
Wide release: My Week with Marilyn (R)

Movies opening Christmas Day after the jump…

War Horse (PG-13)
Starring Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis
Written for the screen by Lee Hall and Richard Curtis
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Based on the Tony-winning play and the acclaimed novel, Spielberg takes on the inspirational—and hopefully that’s in the best sense of the word—tale of a boy and his beloved horse, who get separated during World War I. So Seabiscuit meets Atonement?

The Darkest Hour (PG-13)
Starring Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella
Story by Leslie Bohem & M.T. Ahern and Jon Spaihts
Screenplay by Jon Spaihts
Directed by Chris Gorak
So if you’ve already seen the Kremlin blow up in Mission: Impossible but want to see it again but done by aliens while younger, less experienced actors try to figure out how and why: be one of the five people who will see this sci-fi flick. Aliens invade Moscow and some American exchange students run all over town trying to avoid disintegration. The only way this film has a shot at not being terrible is if it has a wicked sense of humor, of which the trailer shows no signs.

Top Pick:

Saint Nick
Not exactly in the Christmas spirit right now? Holland’s got ya covered. In this horror comedy, jolly old St. Nicholas is actually a bishop out for blood. Sure to make an excellent triple feature with last year’s Finnish entry Rare Exports and the killer Santa genre’s pièce de résistance Santa’s Slay.

To rent:
· Blackthorn (69%)
· Burke & Hare (35%)
· Colombiana (28%)
· Dolphin Tale (83%)
· Glee: the Concert Movie (60%)
· Margin Call (86%)
· Midnight in Paris (93%)
· Mysteries of Lisbon (83%)
· Straw Dogs (42%)
· The Tempest (30%)
· Toast (60%)
· Warrior (83%)
· The World is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner

To buy:
TV: Futurama (Vol .6), One Tree Hill (Season 8)

Blu-ray: A Farewell to Arms, Nothing Sacred

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