Movies: Gary Oldman, Charlize, Jonah Hill, or the 326 Stars of New Year’s Eve?

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Back on track this week at the movies, which just means that there will be plenty of flicks for people to argue about seeing, because there’s really something for everyone – plus a couple of movies with crossover appeal.

Let’s start with the big wide-release crowd pleasers –  there are two –although both seem vaguely inane (which won’t make them any less likeable). New Year’s Eve is the latest from Garry Marshall (real-life brother of TV’s Laverne) who also brought us Valentine’s Day. Both movies seem based on the same premise: overwork your casting director to death and confuse your screenwriters so that you can jam as many big marquis names onto one movie screen as possible. Valentine’s Day worked well, and this one looks to be doing the exact same thing. I’ll certainly see it, and I’m pretty sure millions of others who are nonplussed by other cineplex options will too, such that it’ll be a hit. In the interest of today’s blog’s character length, I’ll just list a few of the stars’ last names: Pfeiffer, Efron, Berry, DeNiro, Elwes, Biel, Meyers, Milano, Michele, Bon Jovi, Heigl, Kutcher, Belushi, Breslin…and the list goes on. See what I mean? Real star power here and the characters are probably each on for a smidgen of time and the plot is likely to be “fluffy” at best but this will, I promise you, be popular. Nor am I the only one who thinks so – they wouldn’t be releasing a movie called New Year’s Eve on December the 9th if they weren’t confident.

The other wide-release comedy that will be popular to a certain group of young people with nothing better to do? The Sitter, which stars Jonah Hill as a ne’er-do-well college student forced to become a babysitter – but who probably shouldn’t be entrusted with a tricycle let alone small children.

Also in theaters? Young Adult, the latest from Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman (the same team what brought us Juno a few years back) and it stars Charlize Theron as a gorgeous divorced fiction writer who – bored – returns to her small hometown and sets her sights on winning over an ex flame, who’s now happily married with a newborn. We can expect nasty fun here, and a protagonist who might be appealing in a pretty unlikeable sorta way. It looks biting, and it’s reportedly much darker than Juno.

Speaking of dark we have in very limited release (studios often do this so they can slip under the wire for Oscar consideration) a movie called We Need To Talk About Kevin. Which looks every bit as jarring/disturbing/heartbreaking as its title suggests. Tilda Swinton is a mother whose son has committed a Columbine-style crime and she must contend with it. See what I mean? Not for everyone, but it may be an Oscar-contending  tour-de-force from Swinton if you can stomach the content.

Another limited release offering is something called W.E. which is based on the true story of England’s King Edward (brother of The King’s Speech king, FYI) who became so infatuated by a non-royal that he gave up the throne of England to marry her. Her name was Wallis Simpson, hence the W and the E of the title. Now, in addition to the fact that it presents a fascinating (if bizarre) historical turn of events, this movie also has Madonna directing. Which means that all kinds of fans may turn up to catch it.

Finally, there’s a movie in theaters that boasts not only The King from The King’s Speech  - Colin Firth-  but several other members of English thespian royalty: Gary Oldman, John Hurt, Toby Jones, etc.  It’s called Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and it’s got very little to do with the garment industry. Rather it’s based on the very famous John LeCarre espionage bestseller set in the 1970s. This is Cold War stuff, and the film will be loaded with British and Russian spies hunting down moles inside secret intelligence enclaves and I’m thinking it looks pretty awesome. For my money, this and Young Adult are probably the two most intelligent movies out there this weekend, with New Year’s Eve the most diverting. No matter how you slice it, there are ample opportunities to forget where you are for two hours at any point over the next few weeks at the cineplex.

Today’s poll:

Which of this weekend’s new releases are you most interested to check out?

1)    New Year’s Eve

2)    The Sitter

3)    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

4)    Young Adult 

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