October 25, 2006

The Reel Deal

Eastwood's Flags

Flags of Our Fathers, Ryan Phillippe, Jaime Bell, Ken Watanabe (R). Under his guise as director, Clint Eastwood's been on quite a streak lately, with Million Dollar Baby and Mystic River. Here he tells the story of the six soldiers who became symbols of freedom after they were photographed raising the flag at Iwo Jima. Eastwood tackles the issue of patriotism, war and the power of this iconic image. Steven Spielberg produces, and Paul Haggis (Crash) is the co-writer.

Watch the Edges

Running with Scissors, Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin, Brian Cox, Joseph Cross, Gwyneth Paltrow (R). Augusten Burroughs (Cross) doesn't have what one would call an idyllic childhood: his dad is an alcoholic (Baldwin), his mother's a lunatic (Bening) and he's sent to live with his therapist (Cox), whose family members could do with a few therapy sessions themselves. Ryan Murphy, the creator of the TV series "Nip/Tuck" makes his feature directorial debut. The film is based on the semi-autobiographical tome by writer Augusten Burroughs.

Let Them Eat Cake

Marie Antoinette, Kirsten Dunst, Judy Davis, Jason Schwartzman (PG-13). After exploring teenage angst and sexuality in The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation, writer-director Sofia Coppola's take on the famous French queen is that Madame Marie was merely a misunderstood girl who just wanted to have fun. As for the peasants? To hell with them. The film was shot on location at Versailles; Dunst plays the young queen, married at 15 and beheaded at 38; Molly Shannon plays Marie's vicious, gossipy aunt-in-law.

Now You See It . . .

The Prestige, Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson (PG-13). Christopher Nolan tossed the notion of a sequential narrative to the wind with his 2000 feature Memento. Here he reunites with his Batman Begins' star, Bale, for a film about the two rival magicians struggling to outdo each other. In magician-speak, "The Prestige" is the third act of a magic trick, where lives are risked and the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

Brad & Blanchett in Babel

Babel, Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett (R, Opens Friday). Set in Morocco, Japan, Mexico and the U.S. the film interweaves three stories, including the central tale of Blanchett and Pitt, a married couple faced with tragedy while on vacation. Director Alejandro González Ińárritu (21 Grams, Amores Perros) explores the frustrations and dangers that come with the inability to communicate, while also exposing the universal emotions that unite.

Borat Visits America

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, Sacha Baron Cohen (R, Opens November 3). British comedian Cohen has taken great delight ambushing British and American politicians in interviews done under his various outrageous guises. Here he plays Kazakhstani TV journalist Borat visiting the U.S., with two goals in mind: learning about the world's greatest country and marrying Pamela Anderson.

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