November 01, 2006

Reel Deal

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). 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 Iñárritu (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). 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.

An Explosive Situation

Catch a Fire, Tim Robbins, Derek Luke (PG-13) Set in 1980s South Africa, Catch a Fire follows the experience of Patrick Chamusso (Luke) an apolitical husband and father who carries out attacks against the Apartheid regime after his family is murdered. Robbins plays a policeman determined to uphold the regime and capture Chamusso. Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger, The Quiet American) directs.

Come Back

Volver, Penélope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Lola Dueñas (R, Opens Friday). Director Pedro Almodóvar likes to tell stories about women — All About My Mother, Talk To Her — and here he leads a cast comprised almost entirely of women in the story of a mother (Maura) who returns from the dead to fix problems that went unresolved in her life. The cast of actresses collectively won the best actress award at the Cannes Film Festival, where Almodóvar also picked up the golden palm for best screenplay.

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