Cinema Scoop  

Holiday movie preview

Greetings movie lovers, it's time to take a peek at what the cinema has in store for us this weekend and over the Christmas holidays.

     Jack Reacher (Dec. 21)

After a sniper kills five people in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, police arrest a man named James Barr, a former army sharpshooter, who asks them to contact Jack Reacher, a drifter and former army military police officer. Working as an investigator for Barr's defense attorney, Reacher unravels a case involving a hired killer and a Russian known only as "The Zec."

     My Take

Jack Reacher is the featured character in a popular series of novels by British author Lee Child. The film is an adaptation of the 2005 novel entitled One Shot. I'm not at all familiar with the character having never read any of the books, but I will say that based on what I've seen of this film that it looks like a lot of fun.

This is only the second film directed by Christopher McQuarrie, who is best known for writing the screenplay for the amazing film The Usual Suspects. He has assembled a strong cast for this one including Tom Cruise as the title character, Rosamund Pike, Robert Duvall, Richard Jenkins, and the enigmatic director Werner Herzog as "The Zec."

I know a lot of people constantly rail against Tom Cruise because of his goofy personal life, but the fact is, he makes some darn good movies every now and then. I think he should be fine in the role of a highly trained military man who has a steely cool demeanor and can kick ass at the drop of a hat. Personally, I'm excited to see him have to battle Werner Herzog - that's just cool.

If you are in the mood for an action thriller before the holidays then I think that Jack Reacher should do the trick for you.

     This is 40 (Dec. 21)

Debbie and Pete - a couple first seen in the film Knocked Up - continue to fight their way through their marriage. The growing financial troubles from Pete's new record label adds to the pressure.

     My Take

This spin-off sequel to the 2007 smash hit Knocked Up is once again written and directed by the reigning king of comedy, Judd Apatow. It seems like the majority of the films that he produces, writes or directs become huge hits, and This is 40 looks to be another winner.

Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann reprise their roles from Knocked Up as Pete and Debbie and this time they are joined in the cast by Albert Brooks, John Lithgow, Megan Fox, Melissa McCarthy and Jason Segal.

I thought that Knocked Up was absolutely hilarious and I have no doubt that this film will follow suit and provide plenty of raunchy, adult-themed laughs. This should make for a good date night movie, but I also think it will be entertaining to anyone who wants a good R-Rated comedy.

Looking forward to this.

     Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away 3D (Dec. 21)

A young couple who is separated, must journey through the astonishing and dreamlike worlds of Cirque du Soleil to find each other, as audiences experience the immersive 3D technology that will allow them to leap, soar, swim, and dance with the performers.

     My Take

Brought to us from visionary filmmaker James Cameron and director Andrew Adamson (Shrek, The Chronicles of Narnia), this film looks like an exercise in visual flourish. The colours and sets look spectacular and if you are a big fan of Cirque du Soleil then you will no doubt want to experience this on the big screen.

I just have to wonder if this will fully replicate the live experience of seeing a Cirque show or if the attempt at infusing it with a storyline will distance the viewer somehow. It remains to be seen.

Despite the artsy looking nature of this film, it might be a good one to take the entire family to over the holidays.

Hey, at least it's a heck of a lot cheaper than actually seeing Cirque du Soleil live.

     Django Unchained (Dec. 25)

Former dentist, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), buys the freedom of a slave, Django (Jamie Foxx), and trains him with the intent to make him his deputy bounty hunter. Instead, he is led to the site of Django's wife who is under the hands of Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), a ruthless plantation owner.

     My Take

Finally, the film that I have been anxiously waiting for almost a year now has arrived. I am an enormous fan of Quentin Tarantino and I can't wait to see his foray into the spaghetti western genre. I know that not everyone appreciates or enjoys his style since he tends to have a fair bit of extreme violence in his films, but he is such a good writer and he creates fully realized and well drawn characters that are always memorable. I have a strong feeling that this film will be no exception.

Tarantino has stated that he is a big fan of films like A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly by famed Italian director Sergio Leone, and he wanted to make his own version of a spaghetti western. He decided to set the film in the antebellum south during the height of slave trading and he wanted to make the film as authentic to that time period as possible. He drew inspiration from the 1975 film Mandingo which was about a slave trained to fight other slaves, but he was also inspired by Sergio Corbucci's 1966 film Django starring Franco Nero - who just happens to have a cameo in this film.

In addition to Foxx, Waltz and DiCaprio, Tarantino has assembled an awesome and eclectic cast for Django Unchained, including Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington, James Remar, Don Johnson, Walton Goggins (who replaced both Kevin Costner and Kurt Russell for the role they both had to drop out of due to scheduling conflicts), Jonah Hill, Bruce Dern, Robert Carradine, Michael Parks and Tom Wopat (Luke Duke on the Dukes of Hazard).

I am willing to bet that Tarantino knocks this one out of the park and that he is likely going to be rewarded with nominations come Oscar time. We'll see though.

Either way, I am so looking forward to unwrapping this Christmas gift of a film from Mr. Tarantino.

Super excited!

     Les Misérables (Dec. 25)

In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert (Russell Crowe) after he breaks parole, agrees to care for factory worker Fantine's (Anne Hathaway) daughter, Cosette (Amanda Seyfried). The fateful decision changes their lives forever.

     My Take

Nominated for four Golden Globe Awards, this musical film is based on the famous stage production of the Victor Hugo novel. It's directed by Tom Hooper who won the Oscar in 2010 for The King's Speech.

I have seen several different adaptations of this story over the years with my favourite one being the 1978 British telefilm version starring Richard Jordan, Anthony Perkins and Sir John Gielgud. This version is of course a musical, and that alone will keep certain audience members out of the theatre. I happen to love musicals however, and I'm looking forward to seeing this lavish, sprawling looking historical epic.

If you are a fan of musicals then you are surely going to want to check out Les Misérables on the big screen over the Christmas holidays.

Also being released on Christmas Day is the situational comedy Parental Guidance starring Billy Crystal and Bette Midler as a couple who agree to babysit their three grandkids when their parents must leave town for work. Pratfalls, hi-jinks and hilarity are sure to ensue as two different generations clash. Wow, this looks so original. I think I'll pass on this lame-brained, generic looking comedy. There are so many other good films to choose from this week.

Merry Christmas everyone and happy movie watching over the holidays.

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About the Author

Just to give you a little background on my qualifications, I've been a film buff my whole life and I enjoy all different genres.

I especially have a passion for classic cinema.

I spent most of the past 17 years working for Rogers Video, so not only have I seen an immense amount of movies, but I've recommended many films to people over the years.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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