‘THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS’
This film is probably best known for having been Heath Ledger’s last film (he died while working on it in January 2008). Fable, fantasy and tragedy, it’s the story of an ancient guru (Christopher Plummer) whose traveling show tours London and offers audience members life-altering choices. Director Terry Gilliam was fortunate to have Ledger’s friends — Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell take over his role in the film. The end result is said to be flawless.
Jeff Bridges always delivers the goods. In this country-and-Western musical road trip, Bridges plays Bad Blake, an aging alcoholic country musician with four marriages under his belt. During a gig in Santa Fe, N.M., he hooks up with 20-something Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Will love give a down-and-out loser a new lease on life? Can “the Dude” belt out a song? Could Bridges possibly nab that elusive Oscar? Also starring are the great Robert Duvall and darlin’ Colin Farrell.
Robert Downey Jr. revives Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved British sleuth; Guy Ritchie directs. Together, with trusty sidekick Dr. Watson (Jude Law), they unravel a plot destined to threaten all of England. Rachel McAdams plays a con woman vying for Holmes’ attention — a great deal of which seems to be directed at Watson. We’ll see.
‘UP IN THE AIR’
Rumored to be “the most appealing star turn” of George Clooney’s career — the film now holds an impressive six Golden Globe nominations. Portraying a corporate downsizer who frequently flies to deliver the bad news, Clooney’s character loves his work. That existence is threatened when a young upstart develops terminating techniques via video conferencing. His love interest, played by Vera Farmiga (who held her own in “The Departed”), shares his addiction for elite status. It’s directed by the genius responsible for “Juno,” Jason Reitman.
‘THE LOVELY BONES’
Peter Jackson directs Alice Sebold’s bestseller about a young girl who is raped and murdered. Saoirse Ronan (“Atonement”) plays the victim as well as the narrator of the aftermath from heaven. Stanley Tucci as the monster who commits the atrocity looks chillingly creepy in the trailer. Rachel Weisz and Mark Wahlberg portray the tortured parents in this haunting mystery/drama.
‘A SINGLE MAN’
Renowned fashion designer Tom Ford directs his first film, and it’s receiving raves. Colin Firth plays an English professor attempting to settle his affairs before committing suicide after the death of his lover. A final dinner is arranged with his friend and former girlfriend played by Julianne Moore. One of his students is stalking him, but why? Is it love or admiration? Count on visually stunning attention to detail spattered with great acting.
I absolutely cannot wait to see this one. Meryl Streep gets to be her ex-husband’s mistress, her hubby being Alec Baldwin. He dumped her 10 years earlier for a much younger babe. Steve Martin complicates matters by falling for Streep’s character while she’s delighting in the affair. Director/writer Nancy Meyers (“Something’s Gotta Give”) is famous for scoring big time with middle-aged movie-goers. That’s me.
Rob Marshall (“Chicago”) directs Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Kate Hudson and Sophia Loren in a musical inspired by Fellini’s “8 1/2.” Who could resist an ensemble of such magnitude and formidable talent? Even if the film’s a disaster, the idea of watching Daniel Day-Lewis singing and dancing, frankly, sends shivers down my spine.
‘THE WHITE RIBBON’
One of the most terrifying films that I ever saw was “Happy Games,” directed by Michael Haneke. In his new movie, strange and disturbing events are occurring in a small German village just prior to World War I. Part political, part psychological, the film explores vengeance and the ramifications it incurs. Haneke won a Palme d’Or for “Best Film” at Cannes this year.
‘THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS’